Narrative of the Voyages and Services of the Nemesis, from 1840 to 1843 VOL 1 | William Dallas Bernard | 1844


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FROM 1840 TO 1843 ;









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VOL . I.




1844. 60






The design originally proposed, when the following

work was undertaken, has been somewhat departed from ,

during its progress towards completion. Not only did

the interest awakened by the various subjects treated of

greatly increase, as the Author proceeded in his attempt

to describe the scenes in which the Nemesis bore so

distinguished a part, but the introduction of much col

lateral matter seemed to be called for, in order to

enable him fully to illustrate the current of passing

events. Hence the narrative of the adventures of the

Nemesis gradually expanded itself into a complete his

tory of the origin, progress, and termination of all the

recent interesting occurrences in China, including a full

and accurate account of all the operations of the war,

and of the complicated difficulties from which it origi

nated, as well as of the peculiar features that marked

its progress .

In addition, therefore, to her own interesting tale,

the Nemesis supplied a valuable foundation upon which

to build up a more enlarged History. The Author had

long taken a deep interest in all that concerned our

relations with China ; and , with a view to study per

sonally the character of the people, and to obtain

accurate information by observation on the spot, he

paid a lengthened visit to that country in 1842. He

there had the good fortune to fall in with the Nemesis,



and, through the kindness of Captain Hall, he sub

sequently proceeded in her to Calcutta, in the begin

ning of 1843 . He has thus been enabled to add to

the history of the operations copious notices of the

various places visited by the expedition ; and has given

a full description of the New Colony of Hong Kong,

with remarks upon its vast importance, as a possession of

the British Empire, upon the threshold of China.

Incidental observations have been introduced upon the

character of the Chinese people, and the new prospects

which have been opened to us, through the extraordinary

changes which have taken place in our intercourse

with them , in a social, moral, mercantile, and reli

gious point of view. These will be met with, accord

ing as they were suggested by particular occurrences,

or prompted by localities described in the work . The

Maps and Illustrations will also contribute to give in

terest to the Narrative .

The Author owes some apology to naval and military

readers, for the apparent presumption with which he

has ventured to handle so many details of a professional

character ; nor indeed would he have undertaken the

task, without the able advice and correction of officers

who were themselves actors in the scenes described .

The valuable assistance and co -operation of Captain

Hall, who was actively employed in China, during the

whole period of the war, and whose services in com

mand of the Nemesis need no extraneous encomium ,

were indispensable to the completion of the work. The

Author also gladly avails himself of this opportunity of

acknowledging the kindness of Captain Sir Thomas Her



bert, R. N., K.C. B. , who obligingly permitted him

to have access to his plans and documents ; and to

numerous other naval and military officers the best

thanks of Captain Hall and himself are due.

Those readers who are alive to the important progress


of Steam Navigation cannot fail to take a deep interest

in the History of the first Iron Steamer that ever

doubled the Cape of Good Hope. In the narrative of

her curious and protracted voyage will be found many

notices of the places she visited, and, in particular, of

some of the Portuguese slave settlements on the East

Coast of Africa, at Delagoa Bay, at Mozambique, &c.

The description given of the Comoro Islands will pro

bably be quite new to most readers.

At the end of the work will be found an account of

a visit to some of the Harbours of the important Island

of Hainan, which must acquire greater importance

through the progressive increase of our commercial in

tercourse with China ; and in the appendix to the

second volume have been added the new regulations

concerning trade in China, and an abstract of the sup

plementary treaty recently concluded .

With much diffidence, but entertaining a hope that

the numerous subjects touched upon in these volumes

have not been hastily or crudely handled, the Author

commits his Narrative to the kind indulgence of his

Readers .

W. D. B.

Oxford and Cambridge Club,

March, 1844 ,


VOL . I.


1. Portrait of the Chief Priest of the Porcelain Tower . Frontispiece.


2. The Nemesis to face page 1

3. Houchung, in the Broadway River 384


4. Plan of a Temporary Rudder 34

5. Plan of Lee -board 37

6. New Method of strengthening Iron Steamers 77

7. Plans of Repairs of Nemesis 79

8. Plan of Naval Operations before Canton, 18th of March 413


9. Track Chart, England to China 128

10. Canton River, and its branches , with Plan of Operations at

Canton End of the Vol.

VOL . II .


11. Tombs of the Kings, and sculptured Monsters Frontispiece.

12, Sheipoo to facepage 182

13. Battle of Woosung 352



Chinese Caricatures of the English 225

15 . } 232

16. Bridge of Boats at Ningpo


17. Hong Kong 66





Introductory remarks — First visit of a British Admiral to China

Difficulties — Disturbance at Canton - Preparations in England - Iron

Steam Vessels to be tried — Nemesis, the first of the kind which crossed

the Line — England's “ Iron Walls” —Description of the Nemesis — Her

peculiarities — Moveable Keels Correction of the Compasses — Pro

fessor Airy's method Nemesis leaves Liverpool - Accident against a


rock through errors of the Compasses - Leak stopped — Proceed to

Portsmouth-Recent improvements — Clears out for Odessa — Departure

from Portsmouth- Public curiosity — Mystery concerning her — First

night at sea — Cape Finisterre—Island of Madeira — Rapid change from

winter to summer Approach to the island - Harbour of Funchal—

Coaling a Steamer 1


Funchal - Excursion into the interior of Madeira — Voyage continued

-Princes' Island — Kroomen - Port St. Antonio-Fuel to be obtained

there and at Fernando Po — The “ Mystery ” — Island of St. Thomas's—

St. Anne de Chaves the principal town - Productions — Kroomen — Their

character - Resemble Abyssinians - Are never slaves-Governor's house

-Interview with his Excellency - Black Aide-de -camp - Request not to

fire a salute— “ Badly off for powder”-Secret trading-place for slaves—

Major Sabine's observations- Cross the Line — Experiments with one

engine and one boiler Rudder carried away New contrivance

Compelled to stand out to sea under sail — Adaptation of aa lee-board

Voyage continued - Arrival at the Cape of Good Hope 19



Table Bay — In the Winter months — Nemesis visited by the Governor

– Curiosity of the people at an iron vessel — Trip round the Bay

Scenery – Table Mountain - Crowds of natives — Cape Town — Depart

ure from — General remarks on the coast — Cape Lagullas — Proposed

Lighthouse on it — Different routes to the eastward — Mozambique

Channel Orders to proceed through it - Cleared for Port Essington


– More “ mystery ” —Tremendous gale in the Mozambique Channel

Serious accident — The vessel begins to split in two - Wheel carried

away-Weather moderates Port Natal-Dangerous state of the vessel

— Temporary repairs -- Gale increases—Cape Vidal- Iron plates continue

to split - Almost hopeless condition - Exertions of the crew , -Modera

tion of the gale — Providential Escape — Anchors in smooth water 42


Anchors off Cape Inyache - Delagoa Bay — Slave Settlement of the

Portuguese - English River — Alarm of the people at the approach of a

Steamer - Portuguese Fort - Hostile preparations — Salute — Awkward

mistake --- Aide-de-camp's Visit — The Governor's civility — Openly en

couraging the Slave-trade- Slaver in the River - Parsee Merchant as

interpreter — Poisonous atmosphere White man dies where the black

man thrives — Trade in ivory and gold-dust -- Governor afterwards

removed for abetting the Slave- trade— Threat — Presents from Governor

-Description of English River— The Temby — Dundas — And Mattoll


- Character of the country and origin of pestilence -- Native tribes in

the neighbourhood — Hollontontes — Thievish propensities Nemesis


hauled on shore - Plague of locusts — Sky darkened by them — Came

by a North-east and went away by a South -west wind — Native feast


of locusts — Dance and song 63


Repairs commenced Description of the accident — Plans — Mode

in which a recurrence of it is prevented — Description of the repairs —

Completed in twelve days — Curiosity of the Native Chiefs at Delagoa

Bay — Annual visit to the Governor - Trading speculations in slaves and

ivory - Bad feeling between the natives and the Portuguese — Horrible

tale of cruelty — Natives flogged to death - A Chief with seven hun

dred men visits the settlement—Curious costumes - Native war-dance


Violent excitement and gestures A warrior's speech - Passions of the

savage — Tattooing the face — Savage tortures — Cutting the hair into

ornaments - Native Chief and his Wife on board the Nemesis - Great

preparations — TheKing's fool — Plays the Pan -pipes- Description of the

Queen - African standard of Beauty-Mass of iron a mine of wealth

Present of the King's arms 75


Story of distressed seamen on the Coast of Africa - American schooner

wrecked - Pestilence among the crew—Attempt to reach Delagoa Bay by

land-Joined by natives —Treachery — Quarrel — A white man killed —

Two savages killed — Cannibalism Roasting the captain Horrible

situation — Escape of the survivor - Hides himself in the bush-Is dis

covered -Natives promise to eat him for supper — Give him food to

keep him alive, supposed to be human flesh —· Escapes by night — re

joins the schooner - Party proceeds to Delagoa Bay - Rescue in boats

Two of the men enter on board the Nemesis — Harsh treatment of native

women by the Portuguese — Interesting tale — Nemesis ready for sea —

Excursion up the river - Three branches — Dundas — Buffaloes — Zebras

-Native birds --Herds of Hippopotami— Appearance and habits - Fine

sport — Difficulty of killing - Manner in which the natives hunt them

Traps — Return of party — Governor's grand entertainment — Dance of

native women - Native chiefs the great abettors of the slave-trade 90


Departure from Delagoa Bay – - Uncertainty of the Compasses --

Arrival at Mozambique - No danger from lightning to iron vessels

Alarm of slave-traders—Measures of the governor — Determined to put

down the trade - Visit to the Nemesis- Description of Mozambique

Remarks on its inhabitants — Slave -dealing — Curious law- Coal found

Future advantages Best place of call on the coast — Arrival at the

Comoro islands - Johanna - Character of its inhabitants 106


Comoro Islands — Sultan Alloué - His father Abdallah - Treaties for

suppression of the Slave- trade — Faithful to their engagements — Suf

ferings — Former presents from the East India Company - Queen of

Madagascar — Her cruelty - Missionaries put to death — Persecutions


-Chiefs take refuge in Johanna — Story of Raymanytek Double

dealing - Secret traffic in slaves — Remonstrances produce rebellion

Arms his followers and slaves — The Sultan, being pressed, applies for

assistance to the English — Arms sent from the Cape - Emissaries ar

rive at the Mauritius — Correspondence of Sultan Alloué — Intrigues

Sultan applies for aid to

of the slave -traders — Difficulties increase

Calcutta — Arrival of the Nemesis at Johanna — Critical moment

Interview - The Sultan's inquiries Excursions into the interior

Aspect of the island — Entertainment at the palace — Sultan superin

tends the “ cuisine " — Another entertainment - Ladies of the court

Conference on public affairs — Sultan's distress — Application to Ray

manytek - Danger averted - English flag hoisted - Departure of the

Nemesis 129


The Maldive Archipelago — Island of Feawar — Trade with India—

Arrival at Ceylon 66

Mystery ” at an end Notices of the Island

- Columbo Fishing boats Curious contrivance Departure

Penang — Spice productions — The “ Gem of the East” — Picturesque

character — Projected naval depôt — Singapore — Advantageous posi


tion for commerce Importance of free ports — Increase of trade


Chinese population — A colonizing people — Aspect of town— Depar

ture — Pedra Branca — Its dangers — Good site for Lighthouse to the

memory of Horsburgh — Monsoons — Island of Manilla — Spanish Colo

nies - Lieu-chew Islands — Basil Hall's description — Arrival of the

Nemesis at Macao — Surprise of the People — Visit to the Governor

Joins the squadron under the Honourable George Elliot the houth

of the Canton river 151


General review of events which preceded the arrival of the Nemesis

Origin of our difficulties -Lord Napier Captain Elliot — 1838

Execution of criminals — Chinese mob — Foreigners unprotected — No

tices by Captain Elliot against the opium trade — Remarks thereon

Resources of China - Political crisis at Pekin — Movement — Party in

China - Led by the Empress - Her ability, attractions, and power

Her fall, and death – Revival of old prejudices — Hatred of foreigners

called “ Patriotism " - Stringent measures against opium — Lectures of

the Emperor — Death of the Emperor's son — Official smugglers — -


Opium -mania - Revulsion of feeling against it — Persecutions — The

traffic still thrives — Mode of smuggling


Arrival of Commissioner

Lin at Canton - His character - Contrasted with that of Keshen and


Elliot — Governor Tang— His character — His son a smuggler — Suspi -

cions of Lin 174


Trade in opium almost stopped before Lin's arrival - Lin is said to be

the people's friend - And the foreigner's enemy - His energy - Demands

what arms the foreigners possess at Canton Threatens to set the

" mob " upon them — Calls for the surrender of the opium, both in the

inner and outer waters Offers a bond for signature — Prohibition to

leave Canton or Whampoa — - His impatience - -

— Emperor's orders -

- -

Concession of one demand produces another- Threats - No English

vessel of war to protect the English — Insult at the “ Bogue” - Elliot

demands passports for the English — Is a prisoner at Canton Lin's

triumph — Expected arrival of American ships of war— Provisions re

fused to foreigners— Demand for opium received - Bond signed by the

foreign community Opium to be delivered up , under conditions


Lin surprised at his own success - Breaks his own agreement Sixteen

gentlemen detained - Destruction of the opium at the Bogue — Captain

Elliot sends intelligence to Calcutta and Bombay - Captain Elliot

prohibits trade-Lin's irritation — Loses his revenue from it - Wishes

the English to trade, in spite of the order - Drives the English out of

Масао . -

- And threatens to poison them at Hong Kong - Unable to

control his own people — Arrival of the Volage - Notice of blockade

Chinese yield -- Hyacinth and Volage attacked by Chinese war - junks

- Occurrences at Macao - Captain Smith's proceedings Lin's sham

fight at the Bogue - Arrival of Rear-Admiral Honourable George Elliot,

with reinforcements 193


Canton river, description of, below the Bogue—“ Outer waters” —Lin

tao-Capsingmoon passage-Urmston's Bay - Force assembled in China

in 1840 - Rewards offered for its destruction -Rear - Admiral Honour

able G. Elliot and Captain Elliot, joint-plenipotentiaries — Squadron

moves to the northward - Expedition to the Peiho— Hostility of the

authorities at Amoy Refusal to receive Lord Palmerston's letter at

Ningpo—Blockade of the coast — First capture of Chusan - Plenipoten


tiaries at Tientsin — Answer from the Emperor - Keshen sent down to

supersede Lin—Truce at Chusan-Flag of truce fired at from Chuenpee

-Keshen's arrival at Canton-- Sir Gordon Bremer becomes commander

in - chief — General review of occurrences in 1840— Threatened attack

upon the English at Macao —- Decisive measures of Captain Smith

Attack on the barrier-Order in council — Remarks on hostility of the

Chinese - Kidnapping - General alarm at our proceedings - Preparations

for hostilities on both sides - Nemesis at the Bogue — Description of


Chuenpee, and of the defences of the Bogue--. Tiger Island


Keshen's negociations Gains courage as he gains time — General

remarks Influence and character of the Empress — Emperor's eulogy

of her-Agitation in China — Heu Naetze's memorial — Reference to

Tang and his colleagues–Predictions of a former Emperor- Memorials

on the opposite side — Choo Tsun and Heu Kew - Reformation of morals

Death and funeral of the Empress — Character of the present em

peror— Ascended the throne in 1820— Observations- Further remarks

on the character of Lin English books translated for him - His

letters to the Queen of England - - Character of his successor, Keshen

- An astute and polished courtier -- Severity of his punishment -

Commencement of 1841 Hostilities Attack on Chuenpee and Ty

cocktow, on the 7th of January — Details of forces engaged Remarks

on the action - Services of the Nemesis - Sufferings of the wounded

Chinese—Burnt by ignition of their own clothes 242


Destruction of Chinese squadron in Anson's Bay - Nemesis and boats

– Description of Chinese position — River at the bottom of the bay —

Explosion of a junk — Chinese trying to escape - Junks abandoned

and set on fire - Nemesis proceeds up the river - Captures two more

junks at a town — Killed and wounded on the 7th January Number

of guns taken - Admiral Kwan loses his button of rank - New Chinese

boarding -nettings — Novel application — Description of new kinds of

war- junks— With English guns — Wheeled boats O ers of the Em

peror to build ships on European models- Official report of the actions

to the Emperor by Keshen - Degradation of Admiral Kwan - New plans

to destroy the English ships - Preparations to attack the Bogue forts—

Disappointment— Truce — Cession of Hong Kong — Restoration of the


forts — Remarks on Captain Elliot's measures -

Troops ordered to

withdraw from Chusan 268


Conference between Keshen and Captain Elliot at the second bar

Keshen sensible of his own weakness—But driven to extremities by

orders from Pekin—Preparations for the conference — Nemesis the first

steamer which ever passed the Bogue-Arrival of a French Corvette

Salute from the Bogue forts — Tiger Island — Aspect of the Canton river

-Pagodas - Arrival at place of conference — Guard of marines — Hong

merchants arrive, but not admitted to an audience—Captain Elliot and

suite received by Keshen - Entertainment-Keshen inspects the marines

- Private conference between the high functionaries-- Nothing definitely

settled— Captain Elliot dines with the Prefect of Canton-Keshen does

not return his visit in person—Nemesis returns to Hong Kong - Keshen's

report to the emperor of this meeting — Is superseded — Appoint

ment of three commissioners in his place—Suspicious circumstances

Elliot demands explanation - Proceeds to the Bogue in the Nemesis

Second interview with Keshen Curious facts — Delay of ten days

agreed to - Remarks thereon - Force unwillingly resorted to — Prepa

rations for defence' still continue at the Bogue—Suspicions of Captain

Elliot and Sir G. Bremer-Nemesis sent to the Bogue with the treaty

Waits four days without any answer - Reconnoissance by Captain Hall

Discovery that Chuenpee was an island - Also Tycocktow – Boat fired at

from Wantung_Nemesis returns to Macao without the treaty—Sir G.

Bremer orders our forces to move up to the Bogue-Intercepted de

spatches from Keshen to Admiral Kwan 292


Keshen's description of the “ outer - waters ” and of the Bogue Forts

–His report to the Emperor of the inefficiency of the defences, and

doubtful character of the people — No hope of victory — Begs the Em

peror to grant Captain Elliot's requests—Is degraded Advanced

squadron at the Bogue — Captain Elliot waits there one hour in the

Nemesis — No communication — Junks captured — First hostile act on

our side — Chinese fired first shot - Nemesis and boats under Captain

Herbert destroy a masked battery at the bottom of Anson's Bay

Proceed up the river to the back of Anunghoy - Fort and rafts de

stroyed— The Commodore joins at the Bogue with three line-of -battle


ships — Description of the Bogue Forts -- Chain and rafts — Prepara

tions for the attack - Howitzer -battery, erected in the night on South

Wantung, covered by the Nemesis -Disposition of our forces— 26th

February, 1841_Capture of the Bogue — Simultaneous attack on Anung

hoy and North Wantung — Dead calm — Wantung shelled by howitzers

- Troops land on Wantung — Marines under Sir Le Fleming Senhouse

take possession of Anunghoy - Chinese refuse quarter — Attempts to

save them—Capture of Little Tycocktow under Lieutenant Maitland

Number of Chinese prisoners killed and wounded—Admiral Kwan killed

by bayonet-wound in his breast - Total number of guns captured

Blockade of river raised . 319


General alarm caused by the fall of the Bogue forts — Removal of the

great chain --The light squadron under Captain Herbert proceed up the

river - Remarks on the latter — Whampoa — Junk Island — Channels of

the river unknown — Policy of the Chinese — Nemesis leads up, giving the

soundings — Approach to the first bar — Description of the fort and raft

-English ship, the Cambridge, purchased by the Chinese - War junks

- Nemesis begins the action at the first bar — Madagascar follows — Sul

phur and the rest of the squadron arrive -Marines and seamen land

under Captain Herbert — Fort taken — Attack upon the Cambridge

Lieutenant Watson drags a boat across the raft - And with Captain Hall

and others boards the Cambridge — Description of the vessel-Ordered to

be blown up - Captain Elliot's coolness and courage,Nemesis and boats

proceed up to Junk river - Boats of the Wellesley and Sulphur - Fort

captured — Sir Gordon Bremer joins from the Bogue - Howqua's folly

Prefect of Canton arrives — Truce for three days— Arrival of Sir Hugh

Gough from India, 2nd of March - Force arrives from Chusan— Neme

sis dicovers a passage into the Broadway river—Captain Elliot's reward

for a pilot — Truce expires—Panic at Canton-Captain Elliot's proclama

tion to the Chinese 345


Expiration of the truce— Napier's Fort - Rafts across the river - Pre

parations for its capture - Sulphur - And Nemesis—Chinese abandon

the fort – Nemesis returns down Fiddler's Reach-New works of the

Chinese – Scenery of the river - Operations again suspended — Sir

Hugh Gough returns to Wantung - Keshen leaves Canton for Pekin


in disgrace — Chinese hostility - Notices by Captain Elliot - Expedi

tion up the Broadway or Inner Passage under Captain Scott - Nemesis

with boats of Samarang and Atalanta -- Entrance to the Inner Passage

-Nemesis attacks Motow -- — War - junks in

- Capture of Tei- yat-kok -

sight - Stone Fort, and river staked across (Houchung) — Field -work

( Tei-shu -kok ) – War - junks destroyed — Pass through large town

(Heong Shan)—Apathy of the people— Masked battery -Sheong Chap

-Narrowness of the channel —Kong-How Battery — River staked

across Mode of removing the piles — Assistance volunteered by the

peasantry - Military station destroyed -- Custom House and war -junk

fired — Tam-chow - Military station at Tsenei destroyed with war

junks, &c.—Channel leading into the river at Second Bar—Nemesis

joins the advanced squadron at Whampoa — Reflections — Remarks on

the Ladrones - Fishermen turn smugglers and pirates . 371


Capture of the Macao fort, on the 13th of March-Advanced ships

only two miles from Canton—Nemesis proceeds towards Canton with

a flag of truce — Letter to the Imperial Commissioner — Is fired at from

the Birdsnest Fort-Preparations to resent the insult-Captain Elliot's

communications -Want of interpreters-Attack upon the defences of

Canton on the 18th of March, 1841 -Flotilla of men-of-war's boats

Flotilla of Chinese boats - Forts in the Macao passage carried - War

junks dispersed - Boats destroyed-Captain Elliot with a flag of truce

on board the Nemesis Fired at by the Chinese — British flag planted

upon the factory - Notifications by Captain Elliot - Temporary settle

ment—Trade opened 402


Suspension of hostilities – Rumours of preparations—Sir G. Bremer

leaves for Calcutta — Captain Elliot's assurances — Proclamation of the

Prefect - Captain Elliot's address to the people of Canton-New pass

ports issued — Captain Elliot's measures against the opium trade


Report of Keshen's punishment — Its severity - Accusations against


him—The Emperor threatens to put himself at the head of his army

-Arrival of troops at Canton- Projects for destroying our ships

Utility of iron steamers - Expedition to Amoy suspended - Troops

prepare to advance upon Canton, under Sir Hugh Gough — Captain



Elliot returns to the factory with Mrs. Elliot — Afraid to remain

Warnings to the merchants — Anxious moments Treachery - Fo

reigners leave Canton— Ominous suspense — Night of the attack by

the Chinese 422


Mohilla and Johanna -- Additional Observations 447

Further remarks respecting the Equipment of the Nemesis 449

Nominal List of Officers who served on board the Nemesis, during the

period referred to in this work 450


Page 5, line 24, for merchant steamer, read private steamer.

Page 9, for Airey, read Airy.

Page 17, bottom, for western side, read near the Loo Rock .

Page 168, 169, for Pedro Branco, read Pedra Branca.

Page 170, near the bottom . The Lieu-chew islands here referred to

are not the same islands which were visited by Captain Basil Hall. The

latter are situated much further to the northward .

Page 221 , bottom, for Mosson, read Mason .

Page 225, probably it should be three millions instead of thirty.

Page 256, for Trentsin, read Tientsin.

Page 289, in the heading, for China, read Chusan.


















Introductory remarks — First visit of a British Admiral to China

Difficulties - Disturbance at Canton - Preparations in England - Iron

Steam Vessels to be tried — Nemesis, the first of the kind which crossed


the Line - England's " Iron Walls” —Description of the Nemesis —

Her peculiarities — Moveable Keels — Correction of the Compasses—

Professor Airey's method Nemesis leaves Liverpool Accident

against a rock through errors of the Compasses — Leak stopped —

Proceed to Portsmouth - Recent improvements — Clears out for Odessa

-Departure from Portsmouth — Public curiosity - Mystery concern

ing her - First night at sea- -Cape Finisterre - Island of Madeira


Rapid change from winter to summer -- Approach to the island

Harbour of Funchal - Coaling a Steamer.

Many of the circumstances connected with the pro

gress and conclusion of the late events in China must be

still so fresh in the memory of the reader, that it will

require but little effort to carry back his recollection

to the close of the year 1839 , and the commencement

of 1840 . Public attention was at that time beginning

VOL . I. B






to be more vividly directed than heretofore towards the

current of events in that remarkable country ; and, in

deed , for some time previously, there had been felt a

growing interest in our anomalous relations with its

government, arising, in a great degree, from the abolition

of the exclusive privileges of the East India Company,

and from the complicated difficulties which had become

inseparable from the new and unsettled state of our com

mercial intercourse.

Without recurring, for the present, to more remote

events, it will be sufficient here to recollect that a British

admiral (Sir Frederic Maitland ) had, for the first time,

made a short visit to China in 1838, and had then tried

every means , through Captain Elliot, to explain to the

Viceroy of Canton the “peaceful purposes of his coming


At this period, much more stress seems to have been

laid upon the question of direct official intercourse than

upon any difficulties connected with the trade in opium ,

which, in reality, had become far more a source of quar

relling and bitterness among the Chinese themselves,

than between them and the English community. In

tercourse “ upon a perfectly equal footing ” was still

refused . The Chinese grew more arrogant, and in some

measure insulting, even to the Admiral, for which an

apology was demanded and exacted ; nevertheless, Ad

miral Kwan and Admiral Maitland at length became

very good friends, wrote civil letters to each other, and ,

at last, Sir Frederic Maitland, in order, as he said, “ to

mark his feelings towards him ," sent him a present of a

few bottles of wine .


Immediately after this, the English Admiral left the

river of Canton, and sailed back again to the East In

dies ; and it was not long after his departure that the

first serious disturbance took place between the foreign

community, and the people, as well as the authorities,

of Canton . The famous Commissioner Lin had come

upon the stage ; and now the curtain may be said to

have been raised, preliminary to the opening of the

great Chinese drama which was henceforth to be enacted .

The year 1839 will long be remembered by all those

who have taken any interest in Eastern affairs. The

harsh and unwarrantable measures of Commissioner Lin ,

the imprisonment of Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary and

all other English subjects, and the wild but brief career

of uncontrolled violence which marked his reign, called

imperatively on our part for stronger measures than had

yet been resorted to ; and such measures were at once

adopted by the Court of Directors of the East India

Company, as well as by the government of the country,

their direct object being to ensure the speedy departure

of an adequate force for the protection of British sub

jects and British trade in China, and to demand proper

reparation for the violence and insult offered to Her

Majesty's representative.

It was scarcely to be expected that, under these cir

cumstances, hostilities could be altogether avoided ;

and, as the principal scene of them , if they occurred ,

| This alludes to the attempt of the authorities to execute a criminal

in front of the factories, and the interference of the foreign community

to prevent so great an outrage to their feelings, followed by the collec

tion of a mob and a riot.

B 2


would be in rivers and along the coasts, attention was

particularly directed to the fitting out of armed vessels,

which should be peculiarly adapted for that particular

service. Iron, as a material for ship -building, had been

already tried, and found to answer ; and this was con

sidered an extremely favourable opportunity for testing

the advantages or otherwise of iron steam -vessels ; and

the numerous rivers along the coast of China, hitherto

very imperfectly known, and almost totally unsurveyed,

presented an admirable field for these experiments. If

successful there, it might be readily inferred that their

utility in the fine rivers and along the shores of Hin

dostan, and other portions of the Company's territories,

would be demonstrated , and by degrees a very powerful

steam fleet would become an invaluable addition to the

already vast resources of the Indian government.

Orders were therefore given for the immediate building

of several stout iron steamers, to be constructed with

peculiar reference to their employment in river navi

gation. They were all to be adequately armed and

manned , and no reasonable expense was to be spared in

fitting them out in a manner best adapted to the parti

cular object sought to be attained by them. No iron

steamer had ever yet crossed the Line, and visited the

southern hemisphere ; their qualities, therefore, remained

yet to be tested in the stormy seas about Southern

Africa ; and various questions respecting the errors of

the compasses, the effects of lightning, &c . , upon ves

sels of this description, remained still imperfectly solved ,

particularly in reference to those tropical regions, where

the great phenomena of nature are exhibited in a more


intense and dangerous degree. In fact, no experience

had yet been gained of their capabilities for the per

formance of long and perilous voyages ; and it was a

bold conception which suggested that they should be

sent round the Cape, to the eastward, in the very worst

season of the year, when even the stoutest and largest

wooden ships trust themselves as little as possible in

that stormy region.

The equipment and destination of the Nemesis, how

ever, was kept a profound secret, except to those who

were personally concerned in it, and even they (with the

exception of the authorities) had little notion of the pre

cise service upon which she was to be employed . What

ever may have been the reasons of this extraordinary

secrecy, it only served, as is usually the case, to make

all the world more anxious to penetrate the veil. Con

jectures were numerous, some partially correct, some

strangely improbable, and all equally uncertain . While

some asserted that she was destined to root out the

slave-trade, others imagined she was just as likely to

be employed for the purpose of carrying on this very

traffic with greater efficiency .

The Nemesis was at length finished, and sent to sea

as a merchant steamer, although heavily armed ; but she


was never commissioned under the articles of war, al

though commanded principally by officers belonging to

the Royal Navy ; neither was she classed among the

ships of the regular navy of the East India Company.

In short, the Nemesis was equipped under very pecu

liar circumstances, which, together with the novelty of

her construction, caused her to become an object of


very general interest. The “wooden walls ” of England

had, in fact, been so long identified with her proudest

recollections, and had constituted for so many centuries

her national “ boast," that it seemed an almost unna

tional innovation to attempt to build them of iron . In

X deed , it was rather looked upon as one of the dangerous

experiments of modern days. Moreover, as the floating

property of wood, without reference to its shape or

fashion , rendered it the most natural material for the

construction of ships, so did the sinking property of

iron make it appear, at first sight, very ill adapted for

a similar purpose. It was sometimes forgotten that

even wooden ships are composed of wood, iron, and

copper together, and that the bulkiness of these neces

sary materials greatly diminishes the buoyancy of the

wood .

A minute and scientific description of the structure

of the Nemesis will be found in the United Service

Journal for May, 1840, and it will therefore be suffi

cient, in this place, merely to notice one or two peculi

arities, in which it differs from that of wooden ships

in general. With the exception of the great paddle

beams, across the ship, and the planks of the deck and

the cabin -fittings, together with one or two other parts,

the names of which would be only intelligible to the

scientific reader, the whole vessel was built of iron .

Credit is due to Mr. Laird, of the Birkenhead Iron

Works, Liverpool, for the admirable manner in which

she was constructed, and for the elegance of her form

and model , which fully answered every purpose required

of her.


Her burden was about 700 tons, and her engines of

120 -horse power, constructed by Messrs. Forrester and

Co. , also of Liverpool; and with twelve days' supply of

coals, together with water and provisions for four

months, and stores of all sorts for two years, with dupli

cate machinery, &c., and all her armament complete,

her mean load draught of water was only six feet. But

commonly, in actual service, she drew little more than

five feet. Her length over all was 184 feet, her breadth

29 feet, and her depth 11 feet. Her keel-plate was laid,

and the vessel built and launched, in the short space of

three months.

Strictly speaking, the Nemesis has no fixed keel, but

the lower plate of iron, which connects the two sides

of the ship together along its middle, is called the

keel-plate. She is, therefore, almost perfectly flat-bot

tomed ; and , in order to obviate, as much as possible,

the disadvantages attendant upon this peculiar con

struction, there are two sliding or moveable keels,

capable of being raised, or lowered to the depth of

five feet below the bottom of the vessel. Each of these

keels is about seven feet in length, one being placed

before and the other abaft the engine-room. They are

each enclosed in a narrow case, or tank, one foot wide,

running from the bottom of the vessel up to the deck,

and which, of course being open below, allows the water

to rise in it to the level of the sea on the outside of the

vessel. In this the keel, which is of wood, 41 inches

thick, works up and down by means of a small wind

lass, and a strong chain which is attached to it. Thus

it is evident, that either the foremost or the aftermost


keel can be raised or lowered, independently of the other,

if circumstances require it.

As it would, however, be impossible to steer with

accuracy a vessel of this construction with a rudder

merely of the ordinary description, and which, from its

shallowness, would in a heavy sea be, in a great mea

sure, out of water, there is a contrivance by which a

moveable or false rudder is attached to the lower part

of the true or fixed rudder, and which descends to the

same depth as the two false keels, and, like them, can

be raised or lowered at pleasure .

The main or true rudder was composed of wood ,

but the lower or false rudder was made of iron, and

was so constructed as to grasp the lower part of the

upper or fixed one firmly on either side, but was bolted

through in such a way as to be moveable, as if it were

fastened by a hinge, so that, by means of a chain run

up to the taffrail from its outer edge, it could be hauled

up to any height required .

The next striking peculiarity in the construction of

the vessel was, that the entire vessel was divided into

seven water-tight compartments, by means of iron bulk

heads ; so that, in fact, it somewhat resembled a number

of iron tanks, cased over, so as to assume the external

form of one connected vessel. By this means, the occur

rence of any accident, such as striking on a rock, or

shot-holes, &c., which might occasion a dangerous leak

in one compartment, would have no effect upon any

other part of the vessel .

The advantages of this arrangement were often tested

during her three years' hard service ; and, indeed, within


a few days after her first departure from Liverpool, as

will be presently related, this contrivance sufficed to

save her from the almost certain destruction which would

otherwise have awaited her.

The last peculiarity which I think it necessary here

to mention, was the provision of some kind of instru

ment for counteracting the effect of the local attraction

of so large a mass of iron upon the compasses, and for

correcting the errors occasioned thereby. This difficulty

had been seriously felt by Colonel Chesney, on board X

the small iron steamers which he had under his orders,

during his expedition to the Euphrates ; although he

was of opinion that the placing of the compasses at a

certain height above the vessel, so as to be further re

moved from the sphere of the local attraction of the

iron , was sufficient to reduce their errors materially.


Without entering into the merits of Barlow's coun

teracting plates, or Professor Airey's interesting disco

veries, it will be sufficient here to mention, that the

Nemesis was fitted with correctors, very much accord

ing to the system of Professor Airey, but not under

his own superintendence ; that the experiments were

conducted at Liverpool under every disadvantage, and

that the result was never perfectly satisfactory. In

deed, the accident which shortly befel her has been

attributed, upon good grounds, principally to the imper

fection of her compasses . It is right, however, to

mention, that other vessels, such as the Phlegethon

and Pluto, which have been fitted with Airey's cor

rectors, tested according to the most approved princi

ples, and after experiments conducted with great atten



tion, have been totally relieved from this source of danger

and anxiety, and have been navigated with perfect accu

racy and confidence.

The first accurate experiments on the compass in iron

ships were made by Commander Johnson, on the Garry

Owen iron steam-ship ; but their object was rather the 1


discovery of some part of the ship in which compasses

could be used without requiring correction , than any

attempt to ascertain an efficient mode of obtaining that

correction. 1

For the investigation of the latter branch of the sub !

ject, the world is principally indebted to Mr. Barlow 1

and Mr. Airey ; and those who are desirous of studying

the subject more deeply are referred to the valuable

papers by those gentlemen, published in the Philoso

phical Transactions for 1839 .

We may now come to the interesting moment of the

departure of the Nemesis from Liverpool, where she was

built. Every thing seemed at first to prosper ; the wea

ther was favourable, and the machinery perfect in all

its parts. She had cleared the narrowest part of the

Irish Channel, had passed the coast of Wales, and

crossed the entrance to the Bristol Channel ; and the

course she had been steering would have taken her well

clear of the Land's End.

It was now the second day since her departure ; the

weather was hazy, and no observations had been taken ,

nor indeed were necessary . As night set in , a careful


look-out was kept, and the commander himself was

continually on the alert. About two o'clock in the

morning, the weather being still hazy and the night


dark, and aa leadsman having been already placed in the

chains, appearances began to indicate that land must

be near .

Her course was immediately altered, and all sail

taken in ; but scarcely was this manæuvre completed ,

when she struck heavily on a rock, so much so as to

cause a shock to be felt in every part of the vessel.

Of course the engines were instantly stopped , but the

way she already had on her appeared sufficient to carry

her over the reef ; and indeed the actual rocks them

selves could be seen outside of her, so that she had

evidently passed between them and the land, and had

merely struck the edge of the reef.

Finding that the vessel did not hang upon the reef,

and was therefore still afloat, her head was turned to

seaward, and the engines kept working slowly, while

the dawn was anxiously expected. It was now disco

vered that the rocks upon which she had struck were

aptly enough called “ The Stones, ” lying at the entrance

to the bay of St. Ives, in Cornwall, and not very far

distant from the Land's End . It was soon evident also,

that the accident had occasioned a very serious leak, in

one of the foremost compartments of the vessel. It was

with difficulty that the water could be kept lower in it

than the level of the sea outside, with the hand-pump ;

and , in fact, if the vessel had not been divided into these

water -tight compartments, it is difficult to imagine that

the accident would not have been fatal to her.

However, she was carried without much difficulty

round the Land's End, into Mount's Bay, where she

anchored about three miles from Penzance, off St.


Michael's Mount. The object here was to procure an

additional pump, in the hope of being able by that

means to empty the tank or compartment, so as to be

able to stop the leak from the inside. On shore, how

ever, no such pump was to be procured ; but, at length,

one perfectly adapted for the purpose was obtained from

a small coasting-vessel which was at anchor in the bay.

It was an iron one, and has been preserved on board

ever since, and on many occasions has been found of

the greatest utility. Indeed , no vessel of this descrip

tion should go to sea without being provided with an

extra pump of this kind, to be worked by hand, and

at all times ready to be placed into any compartment,

as an additional means of pumping it out , and also as

a security against fire, for the purpose of pumping water

into the vessel, in case of necessity.

With the assistance of this additional pump, the water

in the compartment was completely emptied, and then

it was discovered that a hole had been cut completely

through her bottom by the rock, but could now be

easily stopped from the inside.

This being speedily effected , the vessel pursued her

voyage without the least difficulty, and came to anchor

on the following evening in Yarmouth Roads, on the

coast of the Isle of Wight. Before going into Ports

mouth to repair her damages, she went on to South

ampton , to land one or two persons who had accompa

nied her round from Liverpool, to try her qualities.

It should here be mentioned, that every compartment

of the vessel was provided with a small pipe and cock,

by means of which the water could be let out of one


compartment into another, and so passed on, from one

to the other, into the engine-room, where it could be

pumped out by the machinery. But as this appeared a

rather clumsy mode of doing it, namely, by floating

nearly half the ship unnecessarily, it was not resorted

to. But, in vessels more recently constructed, a great

improvement has been introduced in this respect. From

each of the compartments a pipe leads directly into the

engine-room itself, without communicating with any

other part ; so that, by means of a cock, the water can

at once be pumped out by the engine, or else can be

confined to the compartment itself, and pumped out

by hand, when it is not desirable to let it flow into

the engine-room. This is evidently a great point gained,

and gives an immense advantage to iron vessels over

wooden ones, particularly steamers .

The necessary repairs were very easily effected, by

merely cutting out the injured plates, and riveting new

ones in their places ; and the whole quantity of material

required did not exceed three hundred weight of iron.

It is impossible to draw a comparison with the probable

expense of repairing a wooden vessel after a similar

accident, as it would be difficult to calculate the extent

of injury she might have received .

As little time as possible was lost in completing her

repairs, and in rendering her in all respects fit to un

dertake the long and unknown voyage she was about

to perform At length she was cleared out for the

Russian port of Odessa, but those who gave themselves

time to reflect hardly believed it possible that such could

be her destination .


She was armed with two 32 -pounder guns, mounted

on swivel carriages, for the purpose of throwing either

shot or shell, one being placed forward and the other

aft, as in all armed steamers. She subsequently, also,

carried five long brass 6 -pounders, two on each side,

and one upon the bridge ; and had also ten small iron

swivels along the top of her bulwarks, besides boat

guns and small arms. A list of all the officers who

served on board her at different periods, during her long

service, will be found in the Appendix.

All ulterior arrangements being at length completed

at Portsmouth, the usual visits paid , and the thousand

little details which precede a departure from England

for distant service having been at last satisfactorily

settled, the word was given to get under weigh, and

those who had so strenuously lent their efforts towards

the completion of the Nemesis took their final leave of

her, with unlimited confidence in the capabilities of the

vessel, and earnest and hearty wishes that her career

might be successful and honourable to all concerned.

Three years have now elapsed, and it is but justice at


once to declare that every anticipation which could

have been formed by the most sanguine of those con

nected with her, has been more than realized in her

adventurous career .

Unusual interest was excited by the expected depar


Among those who so readily contributed their time and talents to

forward the object in view, no one stood more conspicuous than the

Secretary to the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors, Mr. Pea

Х cock. Likewise to Mr. Blake and others, who so readily lent their services

during the detention of the vessel at Portsmouth, the best thanks of all

are due.


ture of this strange vessel upon a voyage of which both

the purpose and the destination were alike unknown.

Even the Admiral himself was ignorant of the service

which she was called upon to perform ; and it is there

fore scarcely a matter of wonder that the visitors should

have been numerous, and anxious at the last moment.

Suffice it here to record , that the fair and young, the

grave and gay, the civilian and the seaman, had all

come to take a parting look at this favoured, but as yet

mysterious vessel .

At length, on the 28th of March, 1840, the last boat

had left the ship, and she was fairly gone, and the

cheers of parting friends still lingered in the ears of all

on board. Away she stood towards St. Helen's, and,

boldly as she pursued her course, she found herself

alone, and soon was lost to sight.

The haze that gathered round her as the night set

in accorded well with the mystery which had clung

about her, not only during the progress of her con

struction, but even when riding gaily among the floating

batteries of Portsmouth Harbour.

It is not necessary here to discuss the reasons which

may have suggested the expediency of the secrecy which

was observed respecting her. Doubtless there were good

grounds for what in England , in these “ piping times

of peace,” when war itself actually assumes her name,

must have otherwise appeared unaccountable. At last,

however, she really had sailed , and for once the world

were no wiser about her. The Needle Rocks, the high

cliffs at the back of the Isle of Wight, the shores of

England herself, had gradually sunk below the horizon ,


and the excitement attending departure had at length

settled down into the cold reality of aa first night at sea.

On the third day, the 30th of March, at daylight,

the last glimpse was taken of the land of our birth . The

Lizard disappeared, and nothing was around but the

wide expanse of the blue ocean . On the gallant vessel

went gaily through the Bay of Biscay, at an average

rate of seven to eight knots under steam , moving grace

fully to the heavy swell which at all times prevails there.

On the 2d of April, five days after leaving England,

she was well in sight of Cape Finisterre, the dread of

seamen, on the rock-bound coast of Portugal, and en

countered a moderate gale of wind (one of those trifles

which landsmen are apt to call a terrible storm ) directly

against her. But our bark behaved nobly ; she floated ,

X as sailors say, like a duck, and made head against the

gale without difficulty.

On the 6th of April, the lovely island of Madeira came

full in sight, the ninth day since she had left Portsmouth,

and only the seventh from the Land's End. What a rapid

change from the chilly winter of the north, which had been

so lately left behind, just verging into dubious spring!

How the spirit wakes with new life, as it once more

breathes the reviving warmth of the genial South ! And


if, to the strong and hardy, long used to brave the

storm and bid defiance to the wintry blast, it brings

this soft refreshing sense of buoyancy and strength,

how must it revive the hopes, and feed the failing ener

gies, of the weak and timid invalid , who is so often

doomed, as it might seem , to follow this self-same

track ! And what a blessing is it to him, that what has


so often been dreaded , as the hazardous voyage of weeks,

may now be completed by steam in a few days !

At daylight, the little island of Porto Santo having

been passed, the full prospect of the larger island of

Madeira lay exposed , and between its north -eastern

corner, and the little islands called the Desertas, the

vessel hastened on towards the delightful harbour of

Funchal. Passing close in shore, several little towns

were distinctly traced upon the coast, lying close down

upon the very bosom of the waters.

Though sailors are seldom poets, there is something

in the aspect of this lovely island which speaks poetry

to the least poetical ; and where nature looks so elo

quent, and the fresh green of the loaded vineyard con

trasts so beautifully with the wilder rocks above it,

while the sun of its scarce- failing summer sheds its glow

upon the varied woods around, even the iron Nemesis

and her iron-hearted crew were cheered and gladdened ,

as she glided close along the shore.

After passing the point called Brazen Head, the view

of Funchal, the capital of the island, burst suddenly

into sight. Its fortifications, its churches, and its nume

rous convents, form a pleasing contrast with each other.

There is something new and un-English about them , and

the fine country -houses in the rear, with the rich gar

dens around, clothed in all the luxury of southern

climes, make the sudden change seem more like a

dream than the realization of one.

The Nemesis was not long in coming to anchor within

the bay, on the western side of the town, and between

it and the remarkable rock called the Loo Rock . A

VOL . I. с


moment's busy stir soon takes place, upon the arrival of

any steamer in a quiet spot like Funchal, where little

passes to vary the monotony of its every -day life. Al

though the Nemesis was not a man - of-war, she had all

the appearance of one, and as such was regarded with

à degree of attention and civility from the port and

quarantine boats, not usually accorded to ordinary ships

which touch there .

But time was precious, and the great object of her

visit was to be accomplished as soon as possible — namely,

in the stoker's language, “ coaling” —an operation any

thing but pleasant. But they who would enjoy the

steamer's “ stately march upon the waters ” must be

content to purchase it at the price of this necessary evil.

There is something very pleasant in revisiting a place

you have long been absent from , and were once happy

in, particularly a foreign port, after a cruise at sea.

Indeed, it is scarcely possible for those thoroughly to

enjoy the pleasures of the shore, who have not made a

voyage upon the great waters. Whatever the land may

be on which we first set foot after such a voyage, it

always presents something new and agreeable. In short,

we tread the Earth again .



Funchal Excursion into the interior of Madeira -- Voyage continued

-Princes' Island - Kroomen - Port St. Antonio - Fuel to be obtained

there and at Fernando Po — The “ Mystery" — Island of St. Thomas's

-St. Anne de Chaves the principal town - Productions— Kroomen

Their character -Resemble Abyssinians- Are never slaves — Gover

nor's house - Interview with his Excellency — Black Aide -de -camp


Request not to fire a salute- - “ Badly off for powder ”-Secret trading

place for slaves— Major Sabine's observations - Cross the Line - Ex

periments with one engine and one boiler - Rudder carried away -

New contrivance — Compelled to stand out to sea under sail — Adap

tation of a lee-board — Voyage continued - Arrival at the Cape of Good


There is something very peculiar in the appearance

of Funchal on your first landing. The surf breaking

upon the beach, as the heavy waves roll in, warns you

that it is not one of the safest harbours in the world .

The boats are backed in stern-foremost, and, before

you can step fairly out of them , they must be hauled

some way up the beach, when a good spring, with the

help of the high sternpost of the native boats, which

seems made for the purpose, sets you fairly on the

beach .

It commonly occurs that the first objects which meet

your eyes, and the first impressions they make on land

ing at a foreign port, are the most characteristic of the

C 2


country. This is the case at Madeira ; all is bustle and

noise at the landing-place ; muleteers and cattle-drivers

throng the shore ; huge casks of wine are being rolled

out of the sledges on which they are brought down from

the mountains ; the noise and confusion of embarking

and disembarking the various cargoes of the boats amidst

the surf ; and, above all, the peculiar costume and cast

of countenance of the people — all these at once mark

the place as Funchal , and none other.

Many old faces were now remembered, and even the

muleteers, the guides, and the boatmen employed on

former visits, recognised their old masters again ; and,

to ascend from low to high, the governor was most con

descending, and even honoured the ship with a personal

visit, while the fair ladies were most gracious, and old

friends most hospitable .

A delightful excursion was made to an estate belong

ing to one of the old Portuguese nobles, beautifully

situated upon an elevated plain , about seven miles from

Funchal. The difference of temperature between the

higher and lower parts of the island cannot be less

than 12 to 15 degrees, so that great variety of climate

is to be found here, according to the elevation of the

spot ; a circumstance remarkably favourable for invalids.

The road towards this fine estate is very characteristic

of the island, exbibiting vineyards and gardens, villages

and hamlets, ravines and mountains, each in its turn .

Other excursions brought to view richly cultivated

valleys, well watered with the winding streams from

the mountains above, while the ascent to them , along

the narrow paths and craggy steeps, might puzzle almost


any but the native mule to carry his burden safely.

Indeed, so delightful is the appearance of the country,

so varied are the little excursions that can be made,

and, withal, so delicious the climate, that it is probable

the island will become more frequented than ever, now

that the facilities of steam -navigation are becoming more


But we have a very long way to travel yet in our

friendly Nemesis, and must basten onward. Accord

ingly, on the evening of the 8th April, we again accom


pany the Nemesis, steaming out of the Bay of Funchal,

after being detained there only three days. It has been

already stated that the vessel was not under the articles

of war ; this was well known to all the crew, although

the majority of her officers belonged to Her Majesty's

navy. Even in this early part of her career, the diffi

culty had been seriously felt ; and none but those who

have been placed in similar circumstances, as command

ing officers, can form any notion of the great forbearance,

tact, and judgment which are daily required on their

part, in the management of their men . Although not a

merchant ship, the Nemesis had to contend with the

same wilful neglect of orders, and the same dogged and

vexatious conduct on the part of some few of lier crew,

which is the bane of our merchant service . It therefore

says much for the judgment and good management of

her officers that they were enabled to keep her at all

times, even throughout the war in China, efficiently

manned ; that she was always ready to go into action,

and always came out of it with credit and success .

On the 11th , she passed quietly through the Canary


Islands, between Palma and Teneriffe, the high peak of

the latter, however, not being visible, owing to the hazy

weather. The Nemesis was now entirely under canvass ,

and the steam was not got up for twelve or thirteen

days after her departure from Madeira . The north-east

trade-wind soon carried her smoothly along, as she passed

about midway between the Cape de Verd Islands and

the coast of Africa, and it was only in a calm, not far

from Sierra Leone, that she had occasion to use her

engines. She was found to sail remarkably well without

steam, although so flat-bottomed .

A breeze again springing up soon after, as she passed

about two hundred miles from Cape Palmas, on the

deadly coast of Africa, on the 26th, she again trusted

entirely to her sails. On approaching nearer to the

land, she encountered very heavy and sudden squalls or

tornadoes, which she bore remarkably well, shewing

excellent qualities as a seaboat, though, as might be

expected from her build , making rather more lee-way

under canvass than could be wished.

Thus she proceeded quietly along the coast, until she

reached the neighbourhood of Cape Formoso, towards

which she was set by strong and unusual southerly

winds and a lee -current. It was therefore necessary

oncemore to get up her steam, which carried her against

a head-wind and pitching sea, in very little more than

three days, to Princes' Island, situated near the coast of

Africa. This is a settlement belonging to the Portu

guese, and the principal place of resort for our cruisers

in that quarter, not very far from Fernando Po. She

cast anchor in West Bay, Princes' Island, on the even


ing of the 14th May, forty -four days from England,

principally under sail. Here she remained , undergoing

a necessary refit, cutting wood for fuel, and preparing

for sea, until the evening of the 23rd .

It is the practice here for every English man -of-war,

of those stationed on the coast , which resort to the

island, to leave a Krooman 1 in her pay, for the purpose

of cutting wood for the ship, in readiness for her return .

As there are generally several vessels on the coast, so are

there also several Kroomen belonging to them, who join

together, and go out to cut wood, lending each other

mutual assistance. The wood is then brought down to

the coast, and stacked in piles, one for each ship, the

name of the particular ship being written on it.

As the Nemesis was furnished with a letter from the

Admiralty, requiring all Her Majesty's ships to give her

every assistance in their power, she was not long in taking

on board the whole stock of wood already laid up for

the little squadron. Captain Tucker, then commanding

the Wolverine, was most active in lending his aid, and

even gave up the supply of wood he already had on

board . In this way about seventy tons of good hard

wood were at last taken on board the Nemesis, and,

as plenty of coal still remained, there could be little

doubt that, with this reinforcement, she would be able

to reach the Cape of Good Hope without difficulty.

Water is easily procured in the immediate neighbour

hood of the landing -place, of excellent quality ; and thus

two very important items for the recruiting of a ship

1 A native African from the so - called Kroo country.


are to be found in abundance in Princes’ Island . Pigs,

poultry, and goats are to be had in any quantity, as

well as yams, Indian corn, coffee, bananas, pineapples,

and limes. Above all, the anchorage at Princes’ Island

is good in all seasons, and of easy access, either by day

or night. It is consequently a very valuable place of

call for vessels going by the eastern passage to the Cape,

which in some seasons is to be preferred to the western

route, particularly for steamers.

On the side of the island opposite to West Bay, or

the north -east, is the town and harbour of Port St. An

tonio, where the governor of the island resides. It is

tolerably secure, but confined, and by no means equal to

West Bay for shipping. There is a respectable Portu

guese merchant there, who is in the habit of supplying

the ships at West Bay with various stores that they may

require ; and, with the view of furnishing all the infor

mation which could be procured, in case any other

steamer should touch there, application was made to

Mr. Carnaero, the reply to which was, that he would

supply any quantity, at the rate of one Spanish dollar

for every hundred logs ;? but if they were required to

be cut into smaller pieces it would cost more, as negroes

would have to be hired for the purpose, at the rate of

one dollar a day for every three men . Further, as re

garded the time necessary, he thought it would require

from thirty to forty days to provide five thousand logs.

Coals were to be had at West Bay, of course imported

from England, but only at the enormous rate of about


About one thousand logs make up twenty -two tons and a half of fire



£6 sterling per ton . The wood which the Nemesis ob

tained was extremely good, but, as it was only just cut,

it was necessary to burn a small quantity of coal with it.

It was found to answer best, and to give most heat, when

split into pieces about four or five inches thick, and three

feet long ; and in this way half a ton of wood an hour

(a very little coal being used) was sufficient to keep up

the full pressure of the steam with six fires.

From Captain Hall's former experience on this coast,

he was of opinion that no good wood fit for steamers was

to be procured in any quantity, at any of the slave ports

on the coast to the southward of the Line, either at

Loango Bay or Kabenda, or other places, although the

Portuguese at Princes' Island stated the contrary. On

falling in, a day or two after leaving that island, with

H. M. brig Waterwitch, he was completely borne out in

this opinion by her commander, Lieutenant Matson, who

stated that, at the places named, the wood was not suffi


ciently hard and solid for steamers , and was, moreover,

excessively dear, which is also sufficient to point out that

it is not to be had in large quantities. He further agreed

that Fernando Po and Princes’ Island are the only places

on the coast where sufficient good hard wood is to be


The latter island is being greatly benefitted already

by the demand for its wood . Land is, in consequence,

being cleared and planted, and the coffee grown there is

of good quality, and cheap. In fact, from its position

and capabilities, it is likely to become a place of greater

resort, as steam communication, viâ the Cape of Good

Hope, gradually becomes more extended .


It must be mentioned here, that ships sailing much

along the coast are pretty sure to get their bottoms

covered with large barnacles ; and the Nemesis, so far

from being exempt from this annoyance, being entirely

of iron, was, perhaps, more troubled with them than a

coppered ship would have been. The quantity, in fact,

was enormous, and they adhered so firmly , that it was

with some difficulty they were taken off, commonly bring

ing away the paint with them . Kroomen belonging to

the men -of-war were employed to dive under the ship’s

bottom for the purpose, and a very curious and amusing

scene it was. It is quite astonishing how long these

hardy men can remain at work under water, and no

light work either. Great, muscular, black, curly -headed

fellows, bobbing down under water, some with broom

sticks, some with scrapers, and others with bits of iron

bar ; anything, in short, with which they could attack

the tenacious visiters which clung so lovingly to the iron

Nemesis. The Kroomen are an active, laborious, and

faithful race , as all will testify who have occasion to

employ them on the coast. They are received as seamen

in ur men - of-war upon the station , and, on her return

to Calcutta, after long and arduous service, the Nemesis

had still two of them remaining on board, out of three

who accompanied her from the coast, the other poor

fellow having died in the service. They were, of course,

sent back to their own country, at the expense of go

vernment, according to their original agreement.

At length, on the 22nd of May, all arrangements

being completed, the steam was once more got up, boats

hoisted in, anchor weighed, and the word “full speed


being passed below, away went the still mysterious Ne

mesis, as the sun had just dipped below the horizon ;

a hearty cheer was given from H. M. S. Wolverine and

Viper as she passed, which was heartily responded to

by all on board the Nemesis. The unknown service

upon which she was employed , and the uncertain con

jectures made concerning her, which none but her com

mander was able, and he unwilling, to clear up, added

at all times to the interest she created . In fact, she

at last got to be christened “ the Mystery,” and there

inquiry ceased. The efforts made to penetrate the veil

were curious enough. When she was about to leave

Madeira, people were placed on several high points of

land, in order to watch which way she went ; and it

afforded some amusement to the officers on board , to

devise means to puzzle them more than ever. On one

occasion, it was gravely announced, by way of a hoax,

that she was “ going to look for a passage between the

Niger and the Nile, and help to civilize the Africans.”

While we have thus been retracing our steps a little,

we have left our recruited steamer standing away from

Princes’ Island, on the evening of the 23rd of May.

Her course would necessarily lead her towards the

island of St. Thomas's, another Portuguese settlement,

lying as nearly as possible under the Line, and, there

fore, scarcely a day's voyage from Princes' Island. She

accordingly approached it on the following afternoon,

and did not lose the opportunity of entering the Bay of

Chaves, where lies the principal town called St. Anne

de Chaves.

Some parts of this small island are very pretty and


picturesque ; others are wild and thickly wooded . It

produces large quantities of fruit and vegetables, but is

principally valuable on account of the excellence of its

coffee, which, however, is not cultivated in very large

quantity . St. Anne, the principal town, lies at the

bottom of aa lovely bay. The greater part of the inhabi

tants of St. Anne are Kroomen or negroes, but of a

much superior class to those we generally understand

by the term negro. They are tall, athletic men , very

industrious, ( in this respect different from most other

Africans) intelligent, and, when well treated , faithful

and honest. All the Kroomen are strongly attached to

the English , and willingly serve on board our ships,

making very good seamen . The three men who volun

teered to serve on board the Nemesis proved themselves

useful and trustworthy, courageous, and attached to their

officers. They have great faith in an Englishman's

word, and, to whatever part of the world they may be

carried, they always feel confident of being sent back to

their own country free of expense, whenever their ser

vices are no longer required . They are an independent

people, and have never been connected with slave

dealers, whom, indeed, they seem to hold in great con


tempt. Nevertheless, they have the woolly hair and

thick lips and nose of the true negro. Of all the Afri

cans whom I have seen , they appear most to resemble

the Abyssinians in their character and habits, though

improved by more frequent contact with our country

men .

The governor's house is the best in the place, and is

distinguished from the more humble ones around it by


the luxury of a green verandah . Across the entrance

to the principal apartment, a large curtain or screen of

drapery was hung, richly emblazoned with the arms

of Portugal, and almost the only real token of her


It was naturally a matter of curiosity to visit his Ex

cellency in state, and, accordingly, the officers were

ushered into the presence by a grand master of the cere

monies, who was also commandant of the island . This

person was a huge black negro, “ richly caparisoned ”

for the occasion, and , as he spoke a little English, he

proceeded, immediately after the presentation , to ex

pound to his Excellency the object of the visit. That

object was, first, of course, to pay respect to so distin

guished an officer, and next, to ascertain whether, in

case a steamer should happen to touch there at any

other time, a depôt for coal could be formed on the

island, and whether wood could be procured for fuel,

and a proper place provided for storing it until required .

His Excellency condescended to be extremely polite,

saying that both these matters could be accomplished,

and that he should be happy to lend his assistance in

any manner he could . He added that he perfectly well

remembered that the Enterprize, a wooden steamer, had

touched there on her way to India many years before,

but that he had never till now heard of an iron one.

The interview was soon ended , and was so far per

fectly satisfactory. But, as the officers were on the

way down to the ship again, the black master of the

ceremonies, aide-de-camp, commandant, &c . , made a

particular request that no salute should be fired, for


that they happened to be “ very badly off for powder ”

themselves, and should find it inconvenient to be obliged

to return it : probably a gentle hint that aa little powder

would be acceptable.

Little time could be devoted to the further examina

tion of the island , which would seem to be of very small

value to its masters . There is reason , however, to

believe, that, to a certain degree, although unacknow

ledged and in secret, it is made use of as a sort of

intermediate trading-place for slaves.

It was on this island that the distinguished Major

Sabine conducted his scientific and interesting observa

tions upon the swinging of the pendulum in 1822, as >

it lies as nearly as possible under the Line.

With a sun always vertical, no refreshing change of

seasons can here be known ; there is even monotony in

splendour ; the glorious sun is here omnipotent : his rays

are fire ; his smiles, that clothe the earth in luxuries,

and make all nature tempting in her riches, are scorch

ing arrows to her earthly master, Man ; and one dull

round of glaring summer scarcely tempts his heart to


On the following morning, the 25th, the Nemesis

crossed the Line, with the thermometer at 96°, which

had been the average temperature for several days.

Strong adverse winds prevailed, with a heavy swell for

many days afterwards, against which she went ahead

very steadily, at the rate of five to five and a half knots

an hour ; but, as it was desirable to save fuel as much

as possible, it was at length determined to make a

hitherto untried experiment, viz. , to work the lee paddle



wheel only, while under sail, (the other wheel being

disconnected, and allowed to revolve by the motion of

the vessel ) ; and also to use only one boiler. The

weather had moderated, but still the engineers were of

opinion that the experiment would fail, because they

had neither seen nor heard of its having been attempted.

It was, however, determined to give it a fair trial, and,

accordingly, the weather-wheel was disconnected, all

sail put upon the ship, and her course slightly altered.

She was steered about five and aa half points from the

wind, and in this position, with a rolling sea and steady

breeze, she continued to inake head at the rate of six

and a half to seven knots an hour ; the active or lee

paddle-wheel making twelve to fifteen revolutions per

minute. Thus the success of the trial was complete,

particularly as it appeared to counteract the lee-way of

the vessel . The helm did not seem to be materially

affected by the unequal force applied to the two sides of

the vessel ; and, as regards the weather, it is reported

in the ship’s log to have been “cloudy, with fresh

breezes, and a heavy swell. ”

Some pains have been taken to ascertain from the

officers and the chief engineer, first, whether both en

gines could be worked to any good purpose with one


In reply to this question , it appears that, except in

the river Mersey at Liverpool, with all circumstances

particularly favourable, the Nemesis was never able to

work both engines with one boiler, with more than very

inconsiderable effect. But it must be very evident

that any vessel, having power enough to do so in case


of emergency, must possess a great advantage ; and

there is little doubt that, with twenty or thirty horse

power more, she would have been able to accomplish it

in smooth water, particularly with sails set. It is, there

fore, to be regretted that her power (only one hundred

and twenty horse) was scarcely sufficient for her size

and weight .

It is known to all that, where two engines are at

work, the one helps the other, their movements being

so arranged, that the one shall act with its greatest

power at the moment when the other is acting with its

smallest, and thus their motions are uniform .

Not to dwell too long upon this matter, it may suffice

here to mention that, when the vessel was under sail in

moderate weather, it answered perfectly well to work

only one engine, (and, of course, only one boiler) either

with two wheels or one, but that it was preferable to

use only one wheel ( that on the lee-side) with the one

engine. It is very certain, however, that, when the sea

is heavy, both engines and both wheels must be used,

because, as the vessel rolls, each wheel becomes alter

nately immersed deeply in the water, and, if only one

engine were used, (either with both wheels or one) a sea

might catch the wheel at the moment when it is acted

on with least power (just over the centre) by the single

engine, and thus the wheel would be stopped altogether

for the moment ; and this, indeed, was found to be the

case. Nevertheless, as before stated, in moderate wea

ther, and with a tolerable breeze, one engine and one

wheel can be used with the best possible effect, and with

great saving of fuel.


In the instance above referred to, the Nemesis was

working in the manner I have described, at the rate of

five and a half to six and a half, and for a short time

at seven and a half, knots an hour, against a swell from

the southward . Some days afterwards it fell quite calm,

and she was then tried with both wheels and one boiler ;

but she scarcely gained even steerage-way through the

water, so that both boilers and both engines were once

more made use .

of. A great many experiments of this

kind were made during the voyage ; but the details of

them would be unfitted for a narrative of this nature.

It may be added, however, that the use of one wheel

nd one engine is applicable when beating on a wind in

tolerable weather ; but, where the wind is abaft the

beam and moderate , both wheels can very advantage

ously be used with one engine.

On the 2nd of June, the ship all at once seemed to be

lost to the control of the helmsman, and, no other very

good reason suggesting itself, the rudder was naturally

examined with care. It was at once discovered that the

drop or false rudder had been carried away, but by what

means did not sufficiently appear ; except that, on exa

mination, there was reason to think it must have been

fairly worn through at the point of junction with the

lower edge of the upper or true rudder ; for, at this

part, nearly the whole strain of its action operated .

No time was to be lost in attempting to repair this

injury, as the vessel became almost unmanageable, the

true rudder at times being nearly above water, in the

heavy pitching of the ship. With the utmost exertion

on the part of the officers and the intelligent carpenter

VOL . I. D


of the ship, a temporary false rudder was constructed ,

and securely fixed before nightfall. It was moreover

found to act even better than the original one, having

more hold in the water, as well as a larger surface of

attachment to the upper rudder. Subjoined is a plan

of this contrivance, which will almost suffice to explain

its ingenuity. It was made of planks of wood, in

stead of solid iron, and was secured by chains, in such a

manner as to grasp the upper or true rudder firmly,

while it could also be raised or lowered at pleasure.



Water Line

ి 0

ిద 00

కర 98 le

లం 00 op

పా 00 pe


A Main rudder . D Lower chain guys, which pass round the

B Side view of temporary rudder, made heel of the rudder, crossing it at the

double (out of six fluats ) so as to fore part, and leading up on each quar

clasp the main rudder on each ter,with a tackle attached to each side .

side. E Chain -head guys, passiug through bolts

C Pigs of ballast between the floats, rest. in the main rudder, and set up over

ing on the heel -piece . the stern .

F Strengthening pieces of iron .

The whole apparatus was found to answer remarkably

well, and , during the remainder of the voyage to the


Cape (and that a trying one), it never got out of order,

or required additional support. Indeed, it was re

marked by every one, that the vessel was more easily

steered than it had been before ; and it was evident

that the original false rudder of iron had been neither

strong enough, nor had sufficient hold of the upper one

to which it was fastened .

But the difficulties which the Nemesis had to encoun

ter were not yet ended . Strong breezes from the south

ward still prevailed , without any prospect of a speedy

change ; her progress was slow, and there only remained

on board thirty-two tons of coal, with a little wood ;

nor was there any place at hand to which she could run

for fuel. It was therefore resolved to stand boldly out

to sea, trusting to her canvass only. Thus her remain

ing fuel would be reserved for any emergency, and

would suffice to ensure her being able to get into port

when within a reasonable distance. A reference to the

map will show her position at this time.

The engines were now stopped, some of the float

boards of the wheels taken off, and every preparation

made for an encounter with the ocean . As much sail

was set as she could carry, and her course was altered

according to the wind. Away stood the fearless Neme

sis, disdaining the land, and boldly venturing out to

dare the stormy seas of those regions, in the depth of

winter. Anxiety to hasten on to the scene of active

operations induced her commander to try the only re

maining chance of making a tolerable passage ; and

confidence in his own resources, in case of difficulty,

made him bold and restless. The heavy winds from the

D 2


southward , which had so long prevailed, had baffled all

the usual calculations. He had himself, as well as his

chief officer, spent several years upon the coast of

Africa, yet neither of them had ever before witnessed

such weather. Could it have been foreseen, it is pro

bable that the western route, by Rio Janeiro, which is

the one more usually chosen by sailing vessels, would

have been preferred : but, under present circumstances,

there remained no other resource but the one they

adopted ; unless, indeed , they had run all the way back

to St. Helena for fuel, which would have caused far

greater delay

On the first day of their standing away, it became

more than ever apparent, that, being very light, and in

fact scarcely drawing five feet and a half of water, as

she was really flat-bottomed, the vessel fell so much to

leeward that she made very little progress on a wind

and in a heavy sea ; and, in short, that her deep move

able keels were far from sufficient to counteract this

tendency. It therefore became of the utmost im

portance to endeavour to invent some additional means

of remedying this inconvenience.

Calling to mind his former experience on the coast of

Holland, and remembering the great advantage which

the flat-bottomed Dutch vessels derive from the use of

their lee-boards, when sailing in light winds or close

hauled , with a head sea, it occurred to the commander

that something of a similar kind might be adopted on

the present occasion. The officers all concurred in this

suggestion, and, when all are animated with the same

cordial and enterprising spirit, few things are found to


be so difficult as they at first appear. It is the mutual

reliance upon each other, in the moment of difficulty,

which enables British seamen boldly and successfully to

brave many perils, which a moment's doubt or hesita

tion might render insurmountable.





2 22 2 2 2 2

1 Main piece, made of birch , 4 inches by 12 . 6 Beam covered with iron , for lee- board to

2 Niue floats, 7 ft. 8 in . long , l1 in . broad , work on .

and 24 thick . 7 Iron clamp , extending 2 feet, tin . thick .

3 Two-inch plank. 8 After-gry, for tricing up.

4 Iron braces , lt in. thick, to strengthen it . 9 Fore-ditto , to steady heel.

5 Ring -bolt to get it in and out with.

10}Upper guys.

N.B. The chain guys were all set up with a rope and tackle .

The above wood-cut will sufficiently explain the

nature of the contrivance adopted on this occasion,

without the assistance of minute and tedious descrip

tion. It is only necessary to remark , that, in addition

to the four chains which are seen in the plan, a fifth

was found necessary , to keep the lee-board close to

the side of the vessel. It was secured to the lower end

of the lee-board at its centre, and , having then been

carried across the vessel's bottom, was fastened to the

opposite side by a rope and tackle. The whole con


trivance appears to have been very cleverly managed, and

much ingenuity was shown by the mechanics, in adapt

ing the means at hand to the necessities of the moment.

Thus equipped, the Nemesis proceeded on her voyage,

and was found to derive great assistance from this new

contrivance. It was found that her lee-way was re

duced fully one half, as ascertained by careful observa

tion. As there appeared such decided evidence of the

utility of a lee-board of this description, it is probable

that hereafter all steamers having a light draught of

water, and being very flat-bottomed, particularly if


bound on distant voyages, will be provided with some

thing of this kind , so that it may be shipped on or off,

as required.

Another remark, perhaps worthy of being attended

to, suggested itself on this occasion, and it has been

frequently confirmed since — namely, that no steamer,

constructed according to the model of the Nemesis,

should be sent to sea upon a long and uncertain voyage,

without having a fixed keel running the whole way fore

and aft, and bolted strongly through her bottom. This 1

would be found of the greatest possible utility at sea, 1

and it could be easily taken off, and the moveable keels

put on whenever the vessel were employed upon a coast

or in river navigation .

It may further be questionable, in the event of a

smaller steamer being intended to be sent out, whether

it would not be both safer and less expensive to send it

in pieces, and have it put together by the mechanics 1

and engineers belonging to it, at the place where it 1

might be destined for use, than to send it ready equip


ped, to make its own way to its destination by steam

and canvass, with all the necessary risk.

We will now once more pursue our voyage . The

south -east trade-wind, which for several days before had

brought a heavy swell, and the strong breezes of which

had gradually broken up into squalls and rain, now left

the vessel entirely, and terminated in a calm some

what suddenly, on the 14th June, in about latitude

26° 16 ' S., and longitude 0° 41 ' E. It was therefore

necessary once more to resort to steam . She was still a

thousand miles from the Cape ; but, fortunately, a light

breeze springing up on the following day, she again

trusted herself to canvass only.

Gradually the breeze freshened on the subsequent

days, until, at last, about the 18th, it amounted to a

moderate gale, with that high and heavy sea which all

who have visited the Cape will long remember ; threat

ening, every now and then, to break on board, or poop

the ship : but the steady little vessel rose to it like a

swan, and never shipped one heavy or dangerous sea.

Confidence in all her qualities daily increased, and,

with a strong breeze on the quarter, she was now sailing

under canvass only, at the rate of eight to nine and a

half knots an hour. The lee-board was found at all

times useful in making the ship stanch under sail ;

but, as it was constructed in haste, and only with such

materials as were at hand, it required to be repaired

and strengthened several times.

On the 20th June, in about 36° 54' S.L. and 11 ° 20 '

E.L., the wind suddenly veered round to the southward

again, and a strong current was found to be setting


dead against her, at the rate of nearly forty miles a day ;


it was therefore deemed necessary again to stand away

a little more, although her distance from the Cape at

that time was less than three hundred and fifty miles.

The resolution to stand away to the westward, on the

21st, seems to have been the only judicious course ; for,

at that time, there was little probability of her being

able to reach even Saldanha Bay, which is near the

Cape, against the swell and strong current ; while, had

she been carried to leeward of that point, there would

have been no chance of her reaching the Cape at that

season of the year, without first running up to St. He

lena for coals. Had she even made Saldanha Bay, no

fuel would have been procured there.

At length, on the 29th, being still two hundred and

thirty miles from the Cape, but well down to the south

ward, and it appearing that there was sufficient fuel left

to carry her into port, the steam was for the last time

got up. On the morning of the 1st July, the remark

able land of the Table Mountain, and the conical peak

to the southward of it, were well in sight. The Neme

sis had made a long and tiresome voyage in the most

unfavourable season of the year, and the anxiety which

had been shared by all on board may well be conceived .

The dangers of the Cape, at that time of year, have not

been exaggerated ; and, indeed, none but small vessels

venture into Table Bay at all. From her small draught

of water, the Nemesis might come under this class, par

ticularly as her steam would at all times give her an

advantage over other vessels. On the 1st July, much

to the astonishment of every one at Cape Town, she


was descried , late in the evening, quietly steaming into

Table Bay.

After all her trials upon this her first voyage, the

Nemesis had suffered as yet no material injury. Every

part of her machinery was in perfect order ; but, having

exhausted all her fuel, and the greater part of her water

and provisions, she was now only drawing about four

feet and a half water ; her mean immersion, on leaving

England, having been six feet. She had been ninety

five days on the voyage, principally owing to the un

usual weather she had encountered .



Table Bay - In the Winter months — Nemesis visited by the Governor

-Curiosity of the people at an iron vessel — Trip round the Bay

Scenery - Table Mountain — Crowds of natives — Cape Town— De

parture from — General remarks on the coast—Cape Lagullas - Pro

posed Lighthouse on it — Different routes to the eastward Mozam

bique Channel Orders to proceed through it - Cleared for Port


Essington — More “ mystery" — Tremendous gale in the Mozambique

Channel Serious accident — The vessel begins to split in two —

Wheel carried away – Weather moderates — Port Natal — Dangerous

state of the vessel— Temporary repairs — Gale increases — Cape Vidal

- Iron plates continue to split — Almost hopeless condition Exer

tions of the crew — Moderation of the gale — Providential escape —

Anchors in smooth water.

During the winter season, few vessels, and those only

of light burden, venture into Table Bay, exposed as it is

to the full fury of the north-west gales. Men-of-war,

and the few large merchant-vessels which have occasion

to touch at the Cape, prefer running into Simon's Bay,

which is on the opposite side of the long tongue of land,

or cape, which distinguishes that coast. There they lie

securely sheltered ; but the distance from Cape Town by

land is not less than eighteen miles, the greater part over

a heavy, dreary road of white sand . The communica

tion, therefore, is as tedious as the road is unattractive,

and Cape Town is little frequented during the winter


months, though the season is in other respects most


The Nemesis, however, had little cause for fear in

Table Bay, her light draught of water enabling her to

anchor in a well-sheltered cove, near the new stone jetty,

which has recently been constructed. There she lay X

snug and safe, and ready to recommence the task of

coaling. It was almost dreary to behold the dark

and gloomy-looking steamer, all alone, or nearly so,

within that noble bay. At other seasons, many stately

ships, bound to every quarter of the globe, would have

been found there. But now, almost alone at anchor,

and so near the town, all eyes were turned towards the

stranger ; and when the curious asked whence she came

or whither she was bound, or what the object of her

voyage, and why, in such a season, she should tempt the

eastern seas, none knew, and none could guess, and

“ Mystery ” was still her name.

On the second day after her arrival, the governor of

the colony paid a visit on board, and, as he appeared to

take the greatest interest in all that related to her con

struction and equipment, the steam was got up, and the

whole party were carried round the bay, apparently

much to their satisfaction and enjoyment. The foremost

gun was fired in every position, and with different charges

of powder, to shew its power and range ; and the inte

rest awakened as to the future destination of the vessel

was much increased by what they then witnessed .

Had anything further been wanting to add to the in

terest of the trip, enough would have been found in the

beautiful scenery of the Table Mountain , and the Moun


tain Lion frowning on the pretty scattered town beneath.

Varied by the foliage and the gardens which enliven it,

it slopes gradually from the mountain's side towards the

bay, looking gay and happy ; while two large batteries

near the water's edge give promise of protection. Every

thing contributed to make the day remembered ; and as

the Nemesis, returning from her trip, approached the

landing -place, thousands came to greet her. To the

astonishment of all, she ran in close to the side of the

old jetty, where no vessel had ever been seen before.

Nothing could exceed the wonder of the people at seeing

so long and large a vessel floating alongside their old

wooden pier, usually frequented only by boats. It cre

ated quite an excitement in quiet Cape Town, and the

steady, sober-thinking Dutchmen could hardly bring

themselves to believe that iron would float at all, and

still less with such astonishing buoyancy.

Scarcely had the governor and his suite landed, when

hundreds, one might almost say thousands, of curious


people crowded on board. The report that an iron steamer

was lying close to the town had spread so fast, and had

excited so much curiosity, that even the sick made it an

excuse for an airing ; and such a motley crowd of people

of every caste and colour as gathered round the vessel

is rarely to be met with elsewhere. The negro, the

Hottentot, the Caffir, and the Malay, with all the inter


mediate shades of colour, hastened down with idle curi

osity ; while the respectable Europeans and colonists,

young and old, were admitted on board, and seemed 1

delighted to gaze on something new.

As it was desirable that as much coal as possible


should be taken on board before the vessel was compelled

to haul off, owing to the falling of the tide, no time was

lost in commencing the troublesome process. Even this

did not at all deter the visiters, who continued to suc

ceed each other in crowds, in spite of the inconvenience

they suffered. By the active assistance of the agents of

the vessel, and the hire of an immense number of coolies,

no less than one hundred tons of coal were put on board

in little less than three hours, though, of course, not

properly stowed away. AA great saving was thus made

of boat-hire and other expenses, which would have been

incurred in sending the coal out to her proper anchorage.

Several repairs were now to be made with all expe

dition. The drop, or false rudder, was first to be re

stored, and required to be much strengthened. This

was a very essential matter ; and a suggestion now oc

curred worth noticing, namely, that in the event of other

vessels of the same description being sent to sea, they

should be provided with some means of being able com

pletely to choke the rudder temporarily, or prevent

its action altogether, while at sea, in case of its being

found requisite to repair the drop-rudder. The want of

some means of keeping the rudder stationary while

repairing it at sea was frequently felt, and something

might easily be provided to effect this object.

It was also found requisite to strengthen ( technically

to “ fish ” ) both the lower masts, which were originally

scarcely stout enough for the size of the vessel, at all

events during the Cape gales, though the spars were

good, and have stood firmly ever since. The decks were

also to be caulked throughout, and, with other less im



portant repairs, the whole delay at the Cape amounted

to nine clear days.

On the 11th July, all being completed, she once more

stood out of Table Bay, with the cheers and hearty good

wishes of all for her success, although they wondered

what her mysterious destination could be. Night was

now fast setting in ; and, while the Nemesis is standing

away from the bay, and shaping her course for the

night well down towards the southward, we will pause

to make a few observations , which will render her sub

sequent proceedings more easily understood .

Generally speaking, among those who have occasion

to sail to the eastward of the Cape, or to touch there,

the appellation of Cape of Good Hope is made to apply

to Cape Town and Table Bay, in which it is situated.

But, strictly speaking, the Cape of Good Hope is the

extremity of a peninsula , and distant upwards of thirty

miles from Cape Town to the southward . It is the ter

minating promontory of the south - western extremity

of Africa, and completely shuts in a deep bay on its

eastern side, called False Bay, at the bottom of which

is Simon's Bay. About two miles farther to the south

ward lies the low rock not inappropriately called the

Bellows, which might also be very aptly named the Blow

hard, for Æolus himself could hardly have chosen a

more appropriate place upon which to plant his throne.

Scarcely have you rounded this point, which in the

present instance was passed at the distance of only four

or five miles, than, proceeding gradually to the eastward,

you soon come to a headland, ominously named Danger

Point, and thence to Lagullas, the southernmost point


of the great continent of Africa, about thirty leagues

distant from the Cape of Good Hope. The land about

it is rather low, but may be seen at the distance of

several leagues, while an isolated hill, at a little distance

from it, called the Gunner's Coin, may be distinguished

much further off, and is used as a landmark for ships

passing far out at sea. The extensive bank of sand and

mud which runs out from it towards the south-east is

not readily forgotten by those who have had occasion to

experience the disagreeable pitching sea which rolls

heavily upon it. Frightful accidents to shipping have

sometimes occurred in these parts ; and the want of a '

lighthouse upon the Cape was so severely felt, that it

was resolved, at a public meeting held for the purpose at

Cape Town, to collect subscriptions from all quarters and

all countries, for the purpose of placing a beacon-light

upon a point of so much importance to the mariners of

every nation. Happily, in the eleventh hour, it is said

the government stepped forward , and, taking upon itself

the task which the benevolence of private individuals had

so generously proposed to accomplish, added one more

laurel to the wreath which the greatest maritime nation

claims to wear. In the present instance, the route of

the Nemesis lay about six or seven miles from this point ;

and, on the 14th, having got well to the eastward of it,

she once more trusted to her sails alone, and the engines

were allowed to rest.

Now it is evident that a steamer bound to Singapore,

or to any place still further eastward, would have a

choice of three routes ; either she might make her pas

sage from Table Bay towards the Straits of Sunda,


between the islands of Java and Sumatra, trusting prin

cipally to her sails, the winds being generally strong in

those latitudes, and thereby saving her fuel ; or she

might run from the Cape up to the Mauritius, to take

in coal, which has been done by many steamers, and

thence proceed by the Straits of Malacca ; or, lastly,

she might run through the Mozambique Channel, be

tween the Continent of Africa and the island of Mada

gascar, and, touching at Ceylon for coals, proceed

likewise down the Straits of Malacca to her destination.

On the present occasion, the Nemesis had distinct

orders to choose the latter route, the season of the year

being considered the most favourable for it, and it being

thought desirable that a visit should be paid to the

island of Johanna, the most frequented of the groupe

called the Comoro Islands, situated at the northern end

of the Mozambique Channel. This island will be more

particularly alluded to in its proper place. Thence she

was to proceed direct to Ceylon for coals . But even

this was only known to her commander ; and all that

either officers or men could learn about her destination,

when they left the Cape, was that they were at once to

proceed through the Mozambique Channel, but with

what object they knew not.

It is rather remarkable that a ship's company should

have been kept so well together, considering that they

had not the slightest intimation of what their ultimate

destination was to be, though fully armed and equipped

for any service . Indeed, as if to make the “ mystery "

more complete, the vessel , on clearing out from Table

Bay, had been announced as bound for Port Essington ,

A STORM . 49

a scarcely heard -of settlement, then in its earliest in

fancy, upon the northern coast of New Holland ; - a

most improbable destination.

Let us, however, now pass on without delay to one of

the most eventful periods of her history. Six days had

scarcely passed since her departure from the Cape,

when a new and quite unforeseen danger awaited her,

and it rapidly increased, without any port being at hand

for refuge. It has very rarely happened that a ship

has been so near destruction , and yet escaped at last.

The first « few days of her passage alternated between

gales and calins ; and the high sea which she encoun

tered only gave her aa further opportunity of proving the

good qualities which she possessed as a sea-boat. Cape

Francis, on the southern side of the coast of Africa,

within the colony, near Algoa Bay, was in sight from

the mast-lead on the 14th. The barometer began to

fall on the 15th, and at length, on the following day,

had almost sunk to twenty-eight inches. Vivid flashes

of lightning now ran along the sky to the westward ;

the wind , which had been strong and steady from the

N.N.W., freshened to a heavy gale ; every appearance

threatened an increase rather than a diminution of the

storm ; and the sea became so high and heavy, that it

threatened every moment to overwhelm the long, low

Nemesis ; for the sail that could be put upon her

scarcely sufficed to keep her before the sea.

The float -boards had been taken off the wheels before

the gale commenced, and she had continued under

canvass ever since. Algoa Bay had been passed long

before the weather had become so threatening ; to

VOL . I. E


return to it was now impossible ; the gale went on

increasing, the sea rose fearfully, and the ship's course

was slightly altered, so as to carry her further away

from the land . Her danger even at this time was

great, as she lay so low upon the sea, which heaved its

convulsive waves high above her.

In the night, or rather about three o'clock in the

morning of the 17th, a tremendous sea at length struck

her upon the larboard quarter. Her whole frame

quivered with the blow ; and so violent was the shock,

that the first impression of all on board was, that the

ship had been actually riven asunder. The violence of

the blow made her broach to the sea and wind ; but,

happily, she was got before it again as speedily as

possible . It was no time to hesitate, or to be idle ;

every man was on deck, ready and anxious to use his

best exertions ; and it is in such moments of trial that

the true British seaman shows the hardy, oaken stuff of

which he is made.

As daylight dawned, the injuries which the vessel had

received were soon discovered . The starboard paddle

wheel had been seriously damaged ; in fact, a conside

rable portion of it had been nearly carried away, and

only hung by a very small attachment, by which it was

then dragging through the water.

Scarcely had the necessary means been adopted to

save this portion of the wheel, when another and more

serious injury was found to have happened to the body

of the ship itself. An immense perpendicular crack

was discovered on both sides of the vessel, just before

the after paddle or sponson beam , extending almost


entirely through the second iron plate from the top,

and also through a small portion of the upper one.

These had been broken asunder with such violence, that,

at the worst point of the injury, the plate had bulged

outwards in such a manner, that one portion of the

broken surface projected to the extent of about two

inches, leaving a most formidable opening in the ship's

side. In reality, the ship had begun to separate amid

ships, from one side to the other. There was every

probability, too, that the crack, which at this time was

nearly two feet and a half in length, would rapidly

extend itself by the working of the ship, unless the

weather moderated very speedily. There was every

cause for alarm, and little prospect of being able, even

temporarily, to repair so serious an injury in the then

state of the weather.

It was evident that the broken paddle-wheel could not

long hold together, and scarcely any one thought it pos

sible to save the broken portion of it from being lost.

But aa little ingenuity, stimulated by the necessity of the

moment, often suggests the most effectual contrivances,

which are, after all, the most simple. The great object

was to secure it temporary in some way or other ; so

that, as soon as the rim became completely broken

through, the mass might hang suspended by some other

means from the ship's side. The vessel was rolling

heavily, so that there was little chance of being able

to pass a rope round it ; but the ingenious thought

quickly suggested itself, that one of the large boat

anchors would make a capital fish - hook for the purpose.

With this, one of the arms was at last caught hold of,

E 2



and supported, until the rim was completely torn

through ; and then, by means of a stout tackle, the

large broken portion of the wheel was, with some diffi

culty, hauled on board .

So far there had been good fortune in the midst of

trouble, for, had this portion of the wheel been entirely

lost, there is good reason to fear, as will presently be

seen , that with only one wheel , which might also have

easily become injured, the unfortunate Nemesis would

very probably have been unable to outlive the still worse

weather which she afterwards encountered, and would

have scarcely reached a port, even in aa sinking state.

And here we may make two observations. First, that

the practice of taking off the float-boards under sail,

which, in some steamers, is made a regular exercise for

the men, at all times materially weakens the paddle

wheel, particularly in a heavy sea, and may endanger it

altogether. Secondly, that an additional paddle-ring,

running round the centre of the paddle-arms, and tying

them together, contributes very much to the strength

of the wheel ; and further, that the paddle-centre should

never be made of cast iron . It is the most important

part of the whole wheel, and should have the utmost

strength , which wrought iron alone can give it. It

should here be mentioned , that even on this occasion

eight only, out of the sixteen float-boards, had been

removed , otherwise very probably still more serious

damage would have happened . In order to provide

against the recurrence of any similar accident, orders

were subsequently given , to prepare several small bars

of iron, which were to be screwed on in the place of


every second float -board removed ; so that, if eight

float-boards were taken off, four small bars of iron would

be put on in their places. Thus the wheel would not

lose its proper support and connection . But, from the

experience which had now been gained , it was rarely

afterwards thought expedient to take the float-boards

off at all, and certainly only in smooth water, and with


every appearance of settled weather.1 The portion of

the paddle- wheel which had been torn away on this

occasion comprised no less than six of the paddle

arms, or about two- fifths of the entire circumference of

the wheel . This large mass of iron could not have

weighed less than fifteen to sixteen cwt.

On the following day, the 18th, the weather mode

rated considerably, and the vessel proceeded, with the

help of one wheel only, at the rate of about four knots

an hour. In the mean time, every possible effort was

used to get the broken wheel repaired ; and, in the

short space of three days after the accident, the broken

portion was got over the vessel's side with extraordinary

labour, and was ultimately secured by bolts in its ori

ginal place.

On the 20th, she passed within forty miles of Port

Natal (become so famous as the place the eminent

Dutch farmers, from the Cape Colony, have attempted

to make independent.) But there was little chance of

being able to make the necessary repairs in such a

? It should be remarked, that the engines of the Nemesis were not

fitted with the improved apparatus for disconnecting the shaft, which has

now become in frequent use. The operation was, consequently, tedious

and inconvenient.



place. As the weather had now moderated, although

there was still a heavy sea, it was thought better to

continue her voyage ; as, in case of need, she would

have Delagoa Bay, belonging to the Portuguese, to

take shelter in . There she would be certain of finding

good anchorage, and a convenient place to lay the vessel

on shore, to ascertain the real extent of the damage she

had sustained. But she was not permitted even now to

reach the port without encountering other dangers; and

it seemed almost as if the elements conspired to make

her voyage hazardous and uncertain, beyond what is

usually experienced.

The dangerous condition of the vessel, after the iron

plates on both sides had begun to open, could be con

cealed from none on board ; but, as long as the weather

was moderate, there appeared little doubt of her being

able to reach Delagoa Bay without very great risk of

foundering. On the following day, however, the 21st, the

wind again began to freshen from the north -east, an un

usual quarter at that time of the year. Again the mighty

sea arose, and damped the reviving hopes of all, and the

heavy cross swellcould be looked on only with deep alarm .

Gradually, the opening in the ship's sides, which

hitherto had been sufficiently limited to cause her to

take in but little water, began to extend itself in an

alarming manner. Indeed, it was impossible to guess

where it would stop, or how any efficient means could

be adopted to check it. Both sides were so bad that it

1 was difficult to say which was worst. The vessel was

evidently working amidships, as it is called ;; or, in other

words, it had not only opened up and down, but was


moving in and out from side to side. Moreover, the


weather threatened to become rather worse than better ;

and, to add to the difficulty, the furnace of the larboard

boiler was now found to be likewise injured, and, in

fact, could scarcely be used at all. Thus it became more

and more uncertain whether the engines could be kept

working, so as to pump the water out of the hold ; to

say nothing of urging the vessel along.

Temporary expedients were at once to be resorted to ;

repairs were wanted at various parts at the same time,

and every hand on board was now to be occupied day

and night in contriving means to keep the vessel afloat.

In short, the danger was so evident, that, from the highest

to the lowest, all alike were eager to emulate each other's

efforts. The heavy sea which, since the change of wind,

had met the full current, and rolled heavily behind the

vessel, threatened to break over her every instant. To

provide as well as possible against this danger, four

breadths of stout plank were secured , as strongly as

possible, over the stern and along the quarters, in order

to keep the sea out, or at all events to break its force.

So heavy was the sea, that at this time the main rudder

was sometimes completely out of water, and at the same

moment the jib-boom was under it.

In the midst of this, with the hope of relieving the

strain, by diminishing the top weight at the extremities,

the aftermost or large stern gun was with great labour

dismounted from its pivot-carriage, and safely deposited 1

in one of the after coal-bunkers ; and the bower anchors,

which had already been brought in-board, were now

dragged further amidships. This eased the ship a little.


But gradually as the day advanced, so did the wind

increase, and hourly the sea became more dangerous. It

was now running so high, that at times it fairly stopped

the engine, and it became necessary for an engineer to

stand by constantly, to help to turn it over the centre.

An attempt was, however, made on the 22nd to

effect a temporary repair to the ship's sides, which were

straining very much. For this purpose, two or three rivets

were cut out on each side of the crack in the plates,

and a portion of a new iron plate was with difficulty fixed

on the outside, upon the worst part, and bolted through

into a piece of stout oak plank, placed across it on the

inside. The openings had by this time extended down

wards more than threefeet and a half, on both sides of

the vessel .

On the evening of the 23rd, the ship was wore round,

to try to stand off from the land for the night, but was

found to make so much water upon the larboard -tack, that

it was impossible to keep her in that position , and the

only resource was to stop the engine, and make her lie

to under sail all night. The anxiety of all on board may

be imagined, but can scarcely be described ; none shrunk

from the heavy task of duty, but all felt that their situ

ation was one of extreme danger and uncertainty, though

not as yet of despair.

They were, at this time, at no great distance from

Cape Vidal ; but a tremendous current was setting to

* the south-west, at the rate of more than fifty miles a

day, and helped to throw up a very heavy, dangerous

sea . At length the morning dawned once more, and, as

the day advanced, the north-east gale had moderated ;


and gradually it declined, until, in the afternoon , the

wind changed round towards the south-east. The re

pairs to the damaged wheel were by this time com

pleted , and although the injury to the ship's sides was

hourly increasing, the hopes of all on board redoubled

as they saw the double power of both wheels once more

at work. But Delagoa Bay, for which they struggled

still so hard, was not less than two hundred miles distant.

As night closed in again, the angry wind began to howl,

and burst upon the fated bark in heavy gusts and

squalls. And all around was dark and solemn, as the

fate which seemed again to threaten misery and de


The only sail she now carried was torn away in shreds,

and the steam itself had little power to stand the fury

of the winds and waves. At length it lulled : again she

moved, and yet again the mighty storm increased , and

with alternate hopes and fears the morning's dawn was

looked for. She heaved and strained most fearfully,

the leaks increased , the openings spread, and yet she

floated . 'Twas hoped that, as the day advanced, the

storm would yield ; but hour after hour, as it passed,

had brought no sign of change or promise of amend

ment. Their danger was at this time imminent ; but it

became so evident to all that the only chance of safety

lay in using unremitting exertions, and labouring day

and night with hearty good-will, that their very efforts

produced confidence, which, in its turn, redoubled all

their strength. Nevertheless, it seemed as if new dan

gers were constantly in store.

The gallant vessel still maintained her character as a


good sea -boat. But the leaks continued to increase, her

sides strained and opened fearfully, and the apertures

had by this time extended upwards completely to the

deck, and downwards far below the water-line . As the

vessel heaved and rolled from side to side, the broken

edges of the iron plates sometimes opened to the extent

of an inch, while their lateral motion, as the vessel

worked , in the part that had bulged, was frequently not

less than five inches. As the storm increased, it was

found that in the short space of two and a half hours,

and in spite of every exertion to strengthen the part, the

openings on both sides had further increased in length

no less than eighteen inches.

The motion of the vessel, in such a pitching cross sea,

was very quick ; and every time the sides opened, the

rush of wind and water through them was terrific.

Luckily, the engines were still able to work , and conti

nued to pump the water out very fast, although the open

ings were actually close to the engine-room itself. But

the dangerous state of the vessel was appalling, not only

from the fear of her separating amidships, but from the

chance of the bilge-pumps becoming choked, or the fires

being put out by the rush of water.

The struggle was evidently to be one for life or death ;

and who could then forget his God, his home, and all he

loved on earth, or hoped in heaven ? Yet each one

struggled hard for rescue ; and, as he strove and worked

his utmost, clinging to the bark he hardly thought to

save, not one but whispered forth his silent prayer, and

felt his strength redoubled . Every man was hard at

work, trying all the resources which invention and the


impulse of danger could suggest, to keep the vessel from

breaking asunder. And yet so desperate did the attempt

appear, that, for one passing moment, it seemed as if

their efforts were fruitless, and the courage even of the

stoutest heart began to fail. The utmost strength of

man appeared powerless to save amid so many trials.

She groaned and worked tremendously, and reports N

were brought in quick succession from different parts of

the vessel, that she was fast breaking up in pieces.

Many trembled in their hearts, that dared not show their

fears, because alarm becomes contagious, and tends to

paralyze the strongest arm. But some retired, and for t

a moment prayed to Him, who only now could save ;

and others tried to hold their pen, and tell their last and

parting tale, yet paused and faltered in the effort.

In this dilemma, it was still necessary to inspire the

drooping spirits of the men with some new exertion.

The captain tried to smile, and, by a cool, collected

manner, sought to awaken hope which in secret he him


self could scarcely feel. “ You may smile, sir,”, said one

of the sturdiest of the men, a hardy boiler-maker by

trade, “ but you don't know the nature of iron ; how

should you ! " (as if in pity of his ignorance ), and then 1


added, as if for comfort, “ Ah, sir, when once it works

and cracks, as our sides are doing now , it's sure to go

on ; nothing can stop it . "

However, it was evident that talking about it would

not mend the matter, and all that could be said was,

“ The greater our danger, the more must our exer


tions be increased to counteract it.” And increased

they were. Every officer and man set-to again in ear


nest, to try to keep the ship together; amongst them

: the chief officer, Lieutenant Pedder, was by no means

the least conspicuous, though every officer and man was

working with his utmost strength, in every quarter where

his services could be most effectual. The captain's voice

encouraged while his hand assisted. One party was

employed to nail down thick planks and spars upon the

deck, fore and aft, over the broken part of the ship ;

others were busy bolting the ends of them into the

sponson-beams, between the paddle-boxes ; while ano

ther party, engineers and firemen , were busy strength

ening the ship's sides below.

To understand this latter part of the condition of

affairs, it must be explained that, what in a wooden ship

X would be called the ribs, are, in an iron one, called the

“ angle-irons.” They are, in fact, strong angular bars,

extending up and down the ship's sides like ribs , having

a flat surface, to which the plates of iron are bolted.

These angle-irons, or ribs, are seventeen inches distant

from each other, and at about the centre, between two

of them , the crack had taken place in the plates of

iron. The accident had occurred precisely in the weak

est part of the vessel, amidships ; and it would seem pro

ble that, as there was a heavy cross sea in the Mozam

bique Channel when the misfortune happened, the head

of the vessel was held firm in the hollow of one sea at

the moment the top of another sea struck her heavily on

the quarter. It made her frame quiver ; and her length

and shallowness rendered her the more liable to suffer

injury from a similar blow. The mode in which the

permanent repairs were afterwards effected will be ex


plained in the fifth chapter, p. 78 , together with the

method by which the recurrence of a similar accident

has been provided against in vessels more recently con

structed .

As regards the temporary repairs, it was evident that

two contrivances were necessary for holding the broken

plate together in its proper position : one that would

prevent the two broken edges from separating more

widely from each other ; the other, which would prevent

them from overlapping, or crossing one another.

In the first place, small blocks of wood were fixed across

between the angle-irons from one to the other, in such

a manner that they crossed each other like the letter X,

and gave support against the working of the ship, and

the tendency of the plates to overlap each other. Next,

strong bolts or bars of iron were passed through the

angle-irons from one to the other, and tightened by

means of a nut and screw at their extremities. By these

means, the angle- irons, being now strongly connected

together, were made to hold the edges of the broken

plates in contact between them, which, as long as the

bolts held good, would be quite sufficient as a tempo

rary repair. But all these contrivances were adopted

with extreme difficulty, and during a gale of wind, when

all attempts of the kind appeared desperate. Fortunately,

towards morning of the next day, the 26th, the gale

slightly moderated1 ; and these repairs being now com

pleted, as well as circumstances would permit, rendered

her in all respects stronger, so that she strained much

less than before.

By this time the land was not far distant, and the


hopes of those who had most despaired revived again.

By degrees the haze began to clear ; and now what new

sensations crowded in the anxious mind ! what thrills

of joyous gratitude, as the straining eye first caught the

doubtful land ! The heavy sea had gradually diminished

as the Nemesis approached the coast, and she at length

ran into smooth water, near a bold cape. Never was the

sound of the running out of a cable after an almost

hopeless voyage heard with greater joy than on this

occasion. She was now safe at last, and rescued from

an almost desperate fate. Congratulations were mutual ;

and it may well be said that those who toil and share


their fears and hopes together become more firmly

bound in sympathy and friendship.



Anchors off Cape Inyache - Delagoa Bay - Slave Settlement of the Por

tuguese - English River - Alarm of the people at the approach of a

Steamer - Portuguese Fort - Hostile preparations -- Salute -Awk


ward mistake - Aide -de-camp's Visit - The Governor's civility. –

Openly encouraging the Slave -trade - Slaver in the River - Parsee


Merchant as interpreter — Poisonous atmosphere — White man dies

where the black man thrives - Trade in ivory and gold -dust

Governor afterwards removed for abetting the Slave -trade - Threat

Presents from Governor - Description of English River— The Temby

-Dundas — And Mattoll Character of the country and origin of


pestilence — Native tribes in the neighbourhood — Hollontontes—

Thievish propensities — Nemesis hauled on shore — Plague of locusts

Sky darkened by them — Came by a North -east and went away

by a South -west wind — Native feast of locusts — Dance and song.

The anchorage which the Nemesis had now so pro

videntially reached was situated close to Cape Inyache,

at the entrance of Delagoa Bay. This settlement, which

still belongs to the Portuguese, was once famous in the

annals of slavery, as one of the principal marts in which

that revolting traffic was carried on . It is still far from

being undeserving of the stigma which attaches to its

name, although it has greatly fallen from its once

thriving condition . It is situated on the eastern coast

of Africa (see map), and at daylight, on the morning of

the 27th July, 1840, the Nemesis steamed into the


river which runs into the bay, and is known by the

name of English River.

The Portuguese have a small fort near its entrance,

from which the approach of the steamer was no sooner

discovered than a mighty stir was made. Steamers had

scarcely even been heard of, much less seen . The object

of her visit none could guess ; but all were conscious of

partaking more or less in both the sins and the profits

of the slave - trade ; and, therefore, all regarded the

approaching vessel as no friendly visiter. Guns were

made to bear, ammunition was got into readiness, and

every thing would have looked very formidable had it

not been fully known that a single shot from the stern

gun of the Nemesis would have made the walls tremble,

and the defenders hide themselves .

The Nemesis was uncertain whether her reception

would be friendly or otherwise. But she needed assist

ance, and was determined to obtain all she wanted by

friendly civility, if possible ; but at any rate she would

not be denied. Slowly she passed up beyond the fort,

to explore the river, and great was the surprise of all

the lookers-on, to see her move so easily through water

so shallow that they thought it could scarcely float one

of their smallest slavers. The effect of this was advan

tageous. They had little dreamed that so large a vessel

could, if necessary , pursue even the boats of the slavers

into their most secret haunts, drawing, as she then did ,

even less than five feet water, all her fuel being ex

pended .

As she again descended and approached the fort,

there was evidently some excitement, as if they doubted


what would happen next. There was no disposition on

the part of the Portuguese to act on the offensive, but

they had all the appearance of being willing, however

little able, successfully to defend themselves. And here

occurred a trifling accident, which might have led to

very serious consequences. The Nemesis was prepared

to fire a salute, intending to unfurl the flag of Portugal

at the moment the first gun was fired . Unfortunately,

however, the flag, instead of throwing itself out when

pulled by the halliards, after being hoisted, stuck fast :

the gun was fired, but no flag appeared. This was an

awkward mistake at the moment, but was speedily

remedied, and thus the friendly intentions of the Ne

mesis were properly developed, and the salute of honour

very gladly received, and answered by the defenders of

the fort, instead of the crash of hostility.

An aide-de-camp soon came on board from the

governor of the fort, to inquire whence the vessel came,

and what her object might be in visiting such an

unfrequented place. This redoubtable man of arms was

dressed in all his best finery, but did not seem quite at

ease upon the ship's deck, until he had been fully assured

of the intentions of the vessel, by the aid of a large glass

of good wine, which seemed entirely to satisfy his curi

osity. At all events, it was the only mode of commu

nication, as neither he nor any one on board could make

each other understood in words.

On the same day, the captain and some of the officers

of the Nemesis went on shore, to pay their respects to

his Excellency, who affected to be exceedingly glad to

see them , and showed them all possible civility and

VOL . I. F


attention. This was, no doubt, politic on his part, for

he had every reason to believe that the Nemesis was a

man - of-war, and he also well knew that, had she been

so, it would have been a difficult matter for him to

exculpate himself from the charge of openly aiding and

abetting the slave-trade, which was at that very moment

being carried on under his own eyes, and within reach of

his own guns. It was, moreover, sanctioned by the very

flag flying at the peak of the slavers. Yet the same flag

was hoisted on the fort itself, under the stipulations of a

treaty, by which its exertions were to be used to prevent

the continuance of the horrid traffic in the river. A

slaver was ,

in fact, lying in the river not far from the fort,

and, as the steamer was passing up, it was easily observed

that the crew were deserting her, and trying to make

good their escape, leaving their craft at the mercy of aa

single boat's crew. But the Nemesis was not a man-of

war, and had no right to capture her ; and it was,, there

fore, more politic not to seem to notice, in the first in

stance, what was very apparent to all . For this reason,

nothing was said to the governor upon the subject,

more particularly as the Nemesis required great and

willing assistance during the short time she had to

remain .

For some time, there was a difficulty in communica

ting with the governor at all, no one knowing the lan

guage ; but at length a Parsee merchant was sent for,

who could speak Hindostanee as well as Portuguese,

and as there was also a man on board who could speak

Hindostanee, a regular cross-fire conversation was thus

maintained , in a roundabout manner. The Parsee had


an opportunity also of raising himself in the opinion of

the other residents, by declaring that, “ As to steamers,

they were nothing new or wonderful to him ; he, for

sooth, had seen something of the world, and, above all,

had seen plenty of steamers at Bombay.” Doubtless, he

henceforth became the oracle of the village. One would

hardly have expected to find aa Parsee merchant settled

in such a remote and unhealthy spot as Delagoa Bay,

under the Portuguese government. But where will not

the “ auri sacra fames” tempt mankind to court the

smile of Fortune, even with the grin of pestilence and

death before them ?

To aa traveller in the far east, it has often appeared ,

“ a thing hard to be understood,” that countries which

abound in the most luxuriant vegetation and the richest

soil are rendered almost inaccessible, from the deadly

poisons which, at certain seasons, infect their atmo

sphere. Yet the black man lives and thrives in the very

midst of that which only tempts the white man to

destruction. “ By the sweat of his brow shall man live, "

and where nature scarcely needs man's labour to entice

her into luxury and richness, there shall the white man

scarcely dare to sojourn. Such is Delagoa Bay. As a

settlement it is of very little use to the Portuguese, of

whom very few reside there , and without the stain of

slavery it could scarcely linger on. There is, however,

a limited trade in ivory and gold-dust, and the coast is

frequented by whalers, particularly Americans, who

come into the settlement for supplies. The narrative

of Captain Owen’s survey on the coast gives a melan

choly picture of the deadly nature of the climate, which

F 2


very few , either of his officers or his men, were fortu

nate enough to survive.

The fact of a slaver lying under the guns of the fort,

and other little evidences that the governor was very

backward in carrying out the instructions he had re

ceived respecting the slave- trade, went hard with him

afterwards. This case was mentioned to the governor

of Mozambique, under whose jurisdiction Delagoa Bay

is placed, and by whom the deputy-governor is appointed .

It will hereafter be seen that he was, at all events, sin

cere and energetic in his efforts to stop the trade. He

became excessively angry when the circumstances were

stated to him, and declared that it was in violation of

his most strict and positive orders, and instantly

directed that the deputy-governor should be removed

from his post .

The slaver, which was a fine Portuguese brig, was

subsequently visited by some of the officers of the Ne

mesis, and found to be regularly fitted out for the trade,

the planks for the slave -deck being all ready, with boilers

for their food, and shackles, &c . Her masts and spars

were large, and of excellent stuff, and advantage was

soon taken of this circumstance to procure some neces

sary materials for the repairs.

It appeared that there were some excellent timbers

lying on the beach, which had probably belonged to

some large ship wrecked in the neighbourhood. They

were precisely such as would best suit the wants of our

vessel ; and, as it was stated that they belonged to a Por

tuguese merchant in the town, inquiry was at once made

about the purchase of them. Various excuses, however,


were made, and unnecessary difficulty suggested. It

was evident that there was a " screw loose ” somewhere

or other, or else that they wished to impose an exorbi

tant price for them . But the Nemesis could not dis

pense with them, as they were strong and perfectly well

seasoned. A message was, therefore, immediately sent,

declaring that if the timbers were not given up at a fair

valuation, within twenty minutes, the captain of the

Nemesis “ would go on board the slaver with his men,

and take the masts and spars out of her, and as they

appeared to be exceedingly good ones, they would an

swer her purpose rather better."

No talisman could have acted more instantaneously

than this well-timed threat, which, moreover, would cer

tainly have been put in execution. The whole commu

nity, from the governor downwards, were more or less

interested in the affair ; the report rapidly reached the

master of the slaver ; his alarm was natural enough, and

his reasons for urging the immediate surrender of the

timbers sufficiently evident. “ Pray give them anything

in the world they want,” said he ; “ let me rather pay

for it a dozen times over, than keep that strange-looking

ship here. She will ruin us altogether ; we must get

rid of her in any way we can ; give her, by all means,

every thing she wants, and let her be off, for mercy


Long before the twenty minutes had expired, the

timbers were given up, and that too with such alacrity,

that you might almost fancy they really were glad to

give you the utmost assistance they could . The governor

himself, on the following day, the 29th of July, sent a

present of some vegetables and ivory on board, and


afterwards came in person to look at the ship, and was,

to all appearance, so pleased with his reception, and

doubtless so well impressed with the appearance of the

vessel, that he staid to dinner with the officers, and did

his best to show himself a good fellow .

So far all went on smoothly enough ; and as every pre

paration had by this time been completed for commen

cing the repairs of the ship, the few remaining coals

taken out of her, the guns put into boats alongside,

and all the materials in readiness, the Nemesis was, on

the following day, hauled alongside the spot fixed upon

as the most eligible for the purpose required.

It may here be observed that the so-called “ English

River,” which empties itself into the sea at Delagoa Bay,

is in reality the estuary of three rivers, called the Temby,

the Dundas, and the Mattoll. But they are none of

them of much importance, considered separately, having

their sources at scarcely more than a good day's journey

from the entrance, and forming rather the drains of a

rich alluvial country, than the outlets of the super

abundant waters of distant tiers of mountains. They

run into the English River at the distance of little more

than five miles above the fort. Their shores are generally

bordered by an extensive muddy flat, gradually rising

towards higher land , covered with large bushes, but

which can hardly be said to be crowned with luxuriant

woods. Nothing can be imagined more calculated, under

a tropical sun, to produce the most deadly pestilence.

No wonder that those who have endeavoured to trace up

these rivers, for even a short distance, have so commonly

fallen victims to their enthusiasm .

The entrance to English River, from its breadth and


general appearance, leads you to imagine it of greater

importance than it really is. Yet it is not without

something of a picturesque character; the sand hills

covered with calabash trees, and the aspect of the

village and Portuguese Fort, tottering though it be,

all present a refreshing picture, when first viewed, after

a long and dangerous voyage .

The neighbouring country is divided among different

tribes, who are frequently at war with each other, and

over whom the Portuguese have very little control.

Their own factory, or fort, is situated on the north

side of the river, in the country of Mafoomo. But the

most warlike and troublesome of all the tribes are the

so called Hollontontes, living some distance to the

southward, and resembling, or indeed probably a branch

of, the Zooloo Caffirs, of whom we have lately heard so

much in connection with the unfortunate Dutch emi

grant-farmers at Port Natal. These Hollontontes (pro

bably a corruption from Hottentots) have, on more than

one occasion, made themselves. formidable, even to the

Portuguese themselves.

All the tribes on this coast are known to be both

treacherous and thievish ; and it was, therefore, not

without reason that a request was made to the Por

tuguese governor, by the captain of the Nemesis, that

patrols should be placed at some distance round the

spot where the vessel was to be repaired, with orders

neither to permit any of the natives to approach the

ship, nor any of the people of the ship to stray beyond

the line. This answered the double purpose of pro

tection from robbery, and of preventing drunkenness and



quarrelling, owing to the use of the deleterious spirit of

the country, from which it would have been otherwise

difficult to restrain the men .In this respect, the

governor behaved with great consideration, and the

guards placed round the Nemesis were found to be of

very great service. To stimulate further the exertions

of the men to complete the necessary work as expe

ditiously as possible, they were promised double pay,

upon good behaviour, as long as they should be em

ployed in the laborious and unremitting work of

completing the essential repairs. On the 31st, she

was hauled on shore on the fine sandy beach near the

fort, and, in fact, within range of its guns.

It was on this day that a remarkable phenomenon

occurred, which is here worth mentioning ; the more

particularly as it was followed at night and during the

subsequent day by a very heavy gale of wind, whose

approach it might, in a manner, be said to have indi

cated. This was, in fact, the seventh great plague of

Egypt, the plague of locusts, which filled the atmo

sphere in myriads, as far as the eye could reach on every

side ; and indeed much further, for, during the time

it lasted, the very sky was darkened, and the whole air

was filled with a sound as of “ a mighty rushing wind,”

by the flapping of their wings. You could scarcely

open either your eyes or your mouth, without fear of

being blinded or choked by them. It became, in fact,

a living pestilence, “ which covered the whole face of

It will be remembered that the plagues were, frogs; dust turned to

lice ; swarms of flies; the murrain of beasts ; the plague of boils and

blanes ; the plague of hail, of locusts, and of darkness.


the earth, so that the land was darkened ; they filled

all the houses, and all the houses of the servants, and

all the houses of the Egyptians [ Portuguese] ; very

grievous were they ; and they did eat every herb of the

land, and all the fruit of the trees ; and there remained

not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the

field through all the land.”— (Exodus, chap. x.)

Fortunately, the visitation did not, in the present

instance, last quite long enough to commit such ex

tensive destruction, but it was nevertheless a source of

great alarm and inconvenience. In some parts of China,

also, the swarms of locusts occasionally produce a great

deal of mischief, and are very naturally dreaded, both by

the people and the government. But those visitations

are not so severe as this was, during the short time it

lasted .

In the account given of the Egyptian plague, it is


stated “ that the locusts were brought by an east wind ,

and were carried away “ by a mighty strong west wind.”

I was curious to ascertain whether there was any thing

worth noting in relation to the state of the wind at Dela

goa Bay when the locusts appeared, and when they were

carried away again. On referring to the ship's log, I

find that the day preceding the appearance of the locusts

was one of perfect calm ; but the morning of the day

on which they came was ushered in by a north -east

wind, which lasted until the evening, when it changed

round to precisely the opposite quarter, namely, to the

south -west, and increased on the following day to a

strong gale from the same quarter, which carried away

all the locusts. Subsequently, it again veered round to


the north -east, and continued so for several days, but

brought no more locusts .

Large quantities of locusts were collected by the

natives for food ; and it was a very curious sight, for

two or three days afterwards, to watch the different

groupes of black men, as nearly naked as possible,

crowding round their fires, with all the eagerness of

hunger, and all the longing of an epicure, to enjoy a

feast of locusts. They stripped off the wings and legs,

and having slightly roasted or grilled them, appeared to

find them a capital luxury, even not unworthy of the

dance and song with which they accompanied their




Repairs commenced - Description of the accident - Plans — Mode in

which a recurrence of it is prevented Description of the repairs -

Completed in twelve days — Curiosity of the Native Chiefs at Delagoa

Bay — Annual visit to the Governor— Trading speculations in slaves

and ivory - Bad feeling between the natives and the Portuguese

Horrible tale of cruelty — Natives flogged to death — A Chief with

seven hundred men visits the settlement - Curious costumes - Native

war -dance —Violent excitement and gestures


- A warrior's speech -

Passions of the savage - Tattooing the face - Savage tortures — Cutting

the hair into ornaments — Native Chief and his Wife on board the

Nemesis - Great preparations— The King's fool — Plays the Pan-pipes

-Description of the Queen - African standard of Beauty - Mass of

iron a mine of wealth — Present of the King's arms.


No time was now lost in commencing the repairs of

which the steamer stood so much in need. Even at the

risk of being tedious, some explanation is necessary .

It will be remembered, that the structure of the ship's

side has been elsewhere described , and that the angle

irons are, in fact, the ship’s ribs. The split amidships

had taken place in the middle of the iron plate, between

the two angle- irons immediately before the after sponson

beam . It extended downwards full seven feet from

the deck on either side the vessel ; and, as the dis

tance from the deck to the water-line, with a moderate

draught of water, is only from three feet four inches to

three feet six inches, it must have extended under water

for about the same distance as it did above. But the


whole semi-circumference of the vessel's hull is only

about twenty-three feet and a half. Therefore, as the

crack was full seven feet in length on each side of the

ship, there only remained sixteen feet on each side of

the ship’s hull, or about two-thirds in all, not separated

in two. During the night of her greatest danger, be

fore reaching Delagoa Bay, the broken portion of the

vessel was principally held together by the long iron

bars or bolts, which had been run through the angle

irons from one to the other, assisted by stout spars and

planks, nailed on upon the top of the deck, and fastened

through into the paddle-beams.

Before this strengthening process had been resorted

to, there had been strong symptoms of a disposition to

open in the deck. The ends of the planks began to

start, and there is reason to believe that, if the several

attempts made to hold the vessel together, as above

described, had not been ably and rapidly carried into

effect, even during a gale of wind, the vessel would have

completely separated, and the Nemesis would never

have been heard of more.

In other iron vessels more recently constructed by

the same builder, Mr. Laird, of Birkenhead, near Liver

pool, it is satisfactory to know that full provision has

been made against the recurrence of any similar acci

dents. The Phlegethon, which was afterwards built

upon the same model, has been constructed in such a

manner, by the addition of bulk-heads, &c. , that not

only could there be no apprehension of the accident,

but an almost impossibility of its recurrence. The

accompanying wood-cut will explain the improvement.




Shewing the method of giving additional strength by originally

building-in the coal- box bulkheads as part of the vessel.







А Keel. F Covering board, 18 ft. by 4 in .

B Floorings. G Longitudinal iron bulkheads, built into the

C Keelsons . vessel , forming the sides of the coal-boxes.

D Deck beams (iron .) H Augle-iron stay-beam between .

E Deck. I Side frameand coal-box bulkhead .

N.B. These bulkheads appear to have remedied the weakness complained of in the Nemesis,

as the Phlegethon is reported, after nearly three years' bard service (including the passage

round the Cape, when she experienced very bad weather), in as good order as when she left

England, never having required any alteration or strengthening.

The first thing now to be done was evidently to

remove the broken iron plates, and to rivet in new ones

in their place. This was accordingly done, with the

exception of the bottom one, which was allowed to

remain inside, a new one being riveted over it on the

outside. (See plan at page 79.) In order to provide

for additional strengthening of the vessel inside, the

large timbers, which had been purchased, were made

use of as being exactly adapted for the purpose. Three

of these were placed across the angle- irons against the

side of the vessel, the longest and stoutest, which was

twenty -three feet in length, one foot broad, and six

inches thick, being placed highest up, about two to

three feet below the deck. This was secured in its

place by bolts, each a foot long, which were run through


the ship's side, one at the centre of the space between

each of the angle- irons. As there would, however, be

a space left between the face of the beam and the side

of the vessel, except at those points where it rested

upon the angle-irons, this interval was filled up with

well-seasoned red pine, which added very much to the

solidity of the contrivance. To “ make assurance

doubly sure,” two other beams, of the same depth and

thickness, but not of the same length, and secured in a

similar manner, were also employed. By this means , it

is very evident that the ship was made a vast deal

stronger than she ever was before, though not a bit

stronger than was proper for her size and shape. The

whole length of the new plates put in the ship's sides

was eight feet two inches ; and so effectually was the

work done, that the whole of it remained perfect,

stringers and all, at the end of two years and a half of

severe and uninterrupted service.

These contrivances added very little to the weight of

the vessel, and gave it very great support in the weakest

part, and just where it was most required, to enable her

to carry coals on deck, &c. It should here be observed,

that the cracks had taken place within the coal-bunkers,

and that two only of the deck angle-irons, which connect

the gunwale and the deck, had given way. With the

object of still further strengthening the vessel upon deck,

two other stout timbers, twenty -five feet long, were pre

pared as “ water-ways, ” and were fastened through upon

the deck, just along the inside of each paddle-box. They

were bolted into the sponson -beams, and were calculated

to add materially to the midship strength of the vessel .







































the Kuee.



frames Deck










inside frames




the Coal




iron beam










by Paddle








H. Flat




space under





the- the






N by












wood stringers.





















Various other minor repairs were also made while so

favourable an opportunity offered ; in short, a general

refit was bestowed upon her.

Numerous large barnacles were again found adhering

to the ship's bottom, which required some labour to re

move. But, in spite of all the toil and fatigue requisite

in such a climate, the recruited Nemesis was ready to be

hauled off shore again, and launched into her befitting

element, in the short space of twelve days. She was

now, in all respects, a stronger vessel than when she

originally started upon her voyage. It may be readily

supposed that the utmost exertions had been used ; and

it is highly creditable to all the parties concerned, that

the work was performed with so much expedition and

efficiency, and entirely by the people belonging to the


During all this period, the Nemesis had been an object

of great curiosity to the native Africans, as well as to

the Portuguese settlers. The chiefs of some of the

tribes were occasionally allowed to look at the vessel,

and, naturally enough, expressed the greatest possible

astonishment at what they saw . It happened to be just

the time of year when the king of one of the tribes most

friendly to the Portuguese (probably, as it appeared ,

because they have large dealings together in slaves)

usually came down from his own country, about thirty

miles distant, to pay his annual visit to the Portuguese

governor. On these occasions, there is a vast attempt

on both sides to appear very friendly to each other, with

precisely that degree of sincerity which, as a minimum,

is indispensable to the advantageous barter of slaves and


ivory for iron and spirits, or occasionally gold -dust for

various trifling articles, which in the eyes of a savage

possess inestimable value.

Alas ! the black man sells his fellow -man for IRON

with which to shape his spear or point his lance ! the

white man sells his fellow -man for Gold, and bribes his

conscience by the calculation of his gain !

There appears, in general, to be very little good-feel

ing existing between the native tribes and the Portu

guese. The former look upon the latter with some

degree of dread, arising from the injuries which they

have at various times received at their hands ; and the

latter regard the former merely as degraded savages, fit

for little else than the speculations of the slave -trade.

On both sides there is a degree of mistrust, arising from

the debasing tendency which such a traffic necessarily

exercises upon all concerned in it . In Captain Owen's

narrative, an instance is related of the most savage cru

elty, exercised by Portuguese Christians upon a few un

armed and oppressed natives who fell into their hands,

which it is impossible to read without shuddering. Up

wards of aa dozen of the natives, who had been reduced

to destitution and misery by the ravages of the Hollon

tontes, took refuge (as they thought) in the neighbourhood

of the Portuguese fort. They were immediately arrested

upon suspicion of having robbed the governor's garden,

although it was known that the Hollontontes, from whom

they had themselves suffered, had also committed all

kinds of depredations in the neighbourhood. The de

tails of the mode in which these poor creatures were

tortured , (this occurred in 1822 or 23 ) and literally

VOL . I. G


flogged to death with a thong of bullock-hide, and tor

tured with thorny bushes all the time if they chanced

to faint, and other atrocities, too heart-rending to be

here repeated, are such as it is impossible to read with

out feeling that terrible indeed must be the black man's

vengeance, if he once should have the opportunity of

exercising it.

On the present occasion, the native chief who came

to do honour to the governor was a decrepid old man ,

nearly seventy years of age, attended by about seven

hundred or eight hundred of his most doughty warriors,

partially clothed in skins, and ornamented with ostrich

feathers stuck in their heads. He himself, as being a

very great man, was clothed in a loose sort of dressing

gown, with a red nightcap on his head, a present from

the governor himself. In his own estimation , he was

doubtless the perfection of a prince, and his men the

very models of warriors ; but, in the opinion of every

one else, the whole group were excessively fantastical

X and ridiculous. Every man had three spears of different

sizes, probably to be thrown at different distances, to

gether with a stout club and shield ; and in the use of

these weapons they exhibited great dexterity.

The governor had invited the officers of the ship to

go and witness the performance of their war-dance,

which was, in reality, as savage an exhibition as it was

possible to conceive. They divided themselves into two

bodies, one on each side of the square before the gover

nor's house. Upon a signal being given among them

selves, seven or eight of them rushed out from either

side, spear in hand, with that peculiar and active step


which distinguishes the savage, in the north as well as

south of Africa. Judging from the apparent earnestness

of their manner, and the threatening of their gestures,

you would imagine that they were intently bent upon

instantaneous and mutual destruction . They seemed to

work themselves up into a real fit of mad fury ; and,

just at the very moment when you thought that nothing

could prevent a ferocious onslaught upon each other,

down fell the points of their spears to the ground, as if

in mock derision of each other. Away they now ran in

full retreat, stooping and holding their shields behind

their backs, as if to ward off the expected flight of

arrows or spears of their enemies, to whom but a mo

ment before they had presented so bold aa front. The spec

tators all the while kept up a tremendous savage howl,

like that of angry beasts, which they themselves dignify

by the name of song. When the belligerent parties had

retreated as precipitately as their legs could carry them,

the heavy clubs were seized by some of the bystanders ;

and with these they beat the ground, as if to pound

the last remnant of their wounded enemies to death.

The old chief, or generalissimo, soon made his way

up to the governor's house, attended by some of his rela

tives, where they were all treated with a glass of grog

each . Hereupon, of course , a speech was requisite, in

accordance with the practice of more civilized com

munities. One of these ferocious warriors stood up in

the doorway, and delivered himself, with great satisfac

tion to his own mind, and very little intelligibility to

any body else, of a very luminous and probably highly

patriotic harangue.

G 2


As evening advanced, the rest of the attendants were

also called upon to drink the governor's health, out of a

large tubfull of rum ; and, in order to ensure fair play,

a corporal stood by with a stout cane in his hand, with

which he most courageously belaboured all those who

shewed an uncivilized disposition for helping themselves

to more than their share. But the passions of the

savage are not so easily to be subdued ; and, if the mere

sight and smell of the liquor had warmed them up into

something like a quarrelsome mood, what was to be

expected from the actual taste and fire of it ? Words

ran high, and all the threatening gestures of the excited

savage promised even bloodshed ; until, at length, the

corporal's stick being insufficient to allay the disturb

ance, he very quietly upset the whole remaining contents

of the tub, and soon dispersed the mighty men of war,

in apparent reconciliation.

The negro tribes of these parts adopt the practice of

tattooing their faces, but not in that peculiarly neat and

regular manner for which the New Zealanders are dis

tinguished. It is here more like aa rude system of notch

ing the skin, as if done rather to show how manfully

they can endure pain, than as a mere ornamental art.

It is wonderful to think of the numerous cruel con

trivances which are invented by savage tribes, and prac

tised by none so extensively as by some of the North

American Indians, to test the fortitude of the young

aspirant for distinction, and to try what appalling cru

elties the human frame can bear, and bear them wil

lingly, without sinking under the protracted torture.

A more sensible practice among some of the tribes


about Delagoa Bay is that of shaving a large portion of

the thick wool off their heads, tending greatly to clean

liness in a tropical country. Occasionally it is trimmed

into some fanciful shape, like the old yew-trees in some

of our English villages, which stand forth as curious

specimens of nature improved ; while, again, the na

tives on some parts of the Madagascar coast, generally

stout, athletic men, divide their hair into little tufts all

over the head, each of which is frequently tied round

the roots, and thus made to stand out on all sides in

little knobs, giving a very savage appearance to the

head, more particularly when they are seen working

side by side, as I have often witnessed at the Mauritius,

with close-shaved Indian or Chinese labourers .

As the king above-mentioned and his followers had

come from a considerable distance, and were reported

to possess great influence among their neighbours, it

was thought a good opportunity both to impress them

with aa knowledge of our power, and to conciliate them

by a shew of our good -nature. There was the more

reason for this, in consequence of pretty certain evidence

having been obtained that the crew of an American

trading- vessel, which had been wrecked on the coast not

long before, had been most barbarously treated by the

tribe into whose hands they fell. As such a misfortune

might again happen , it was thought a good opportunity

to make an impression upon the native tribes, which was

sure to be communicated from one to the other, by means

of the old king and his adherents. Accordingly, the

old man (who was called Appelli by the Portuguese)

was one day invited to go on board the Nemesis, with


one or two of his attendants. The vessel had by this

time been got nearly ready for sea, and on this occasion,

in order to produce greater effect upon all the lookers

on, was dressed out with her flags, and, being newly

painted, presented a very gay appearance.

Towards noon, preparations were observed to be

going on , for the embarkation of the veteran chief. His

attendants were all drawn up in line, and appeared to

treat him with the utmost respect and deference ; which

rather bore out the idea that he belonged to an influen

tial race . A Portuguese merchant accompanied him to

the ship as interpreter, and, rather unexpectedly, several

women also came off with him, dressed in showy colours,

and impelled perhaps as much by the flattering thought

that they would quite astonish the white man , as by the

mere feeling of curiosity about what they could scarcely

be expected to comprehend.

The moment the king put his foot upon the deck , the

single fife and drum which was on board set up 66 God

save the king !" with highly musical effect ; at all events,

the old man appeared to think so, being evidently well

pleased both with the tune and the attention. After

this, a particularly ugly, repulsive-looking fellow , who

turned out to be the king's fool, and appeared to have

grown no wiser as he grew older, though as old as the

king himself, set up a most discordant note of admira

tion, upon three reeds which he held in his hand, some

thing after the manner of pan-pipes. At intervals he

treated you to a sort of explanatory text of his own, in

the shape of a few uncouth words, yelled out in a manner

particularly edifying to all except those in whose honour


it is supposed they were especially poured forth. His

appearance was further distinguished by a large uncouth

bag tied under his chin, but for what purpose was not

very evident, unless to contain either his charms or

his tobacco. Perhaps he derived some little private

revenue from the former, in ways best known to himself ;

while with the latter he could at all times soothe and

pacify himself, should he not befool enough, or foolishly

wise enough, to retain his master's favour.

The queen herself had also accompanied her lord

upon this occasion, and exhibited no fear, and certainly

no beauty. The king of aa nation — at all events of the

uncivilized — is supposed to be lord of all, and to be

able to choose his wife where he pleases. His majesty on

this occasion must have had a very peculiar taste, or

else their standard of beauty must be very original.

Picture to yourself a young sable queen , a capital ca

ricature of one of the Egyptian statues in black marble,

plump and shiny as her prototype, only less expres

sive. Then invest her in your imagination with sundry

huge scars about her cheek and nose ; not those deli

cate lines and graceful curves which decorate the upper

lip of royalty among New Zealand tribes, but regular

lumps, squeezed up and dried, as it were, into large

warts, particularly about the nose, as if a race of gigantic

musquitoes had held aa feast there !

However, to do justice to the lady's rank, if not to

her looks, it was thought proper to show her due atten

tion, and, accordingly, a glass of wine was offered to

her, as well as to her lord. The old man, though at

first suspicious, like all half-savages, very gladly swal


lowed it, as soon as one of the officers had tasted it

first. But she, “the young, the proud , the beautiful!"”

-wine was not half good enough for her. But, rum !

that was the nectar for queens - that was the soul

stirring influence which could bend her pride, and warm

her heart to gentleness.

Having by this means warmed the royal hearts to

good humour, the next thing was to bewilder them with

astonishment. This was not difficult. They were re

quested to examine the ship's side, and to assure them

selves that she was made entirely of iron. A loud

Heugh ! was their exclamation. To them it seemed a

boundless mine of wealth, that mass of precious stuff, to

purchase which was all their ambition. They were cal

culating in their own minds how many thousands and

tens of thousands of slaves they would have to procure,

before they could be able to obtain so much of the

valued metal. But, when the engine was shown to

them, with all its polished bars, and massive parts, and

its uses partly explained through the interpreter, their

astonishment knew no bounds. Between surprise and

fear, they were half bewildered, and went away fully

convinced that if the iron machinery could move along

the iron ship through the ocean, it could also destroy

all the tribes of Africa with even greater facility.

Before the chief's departure, great care was taken to

explain to him the barbarous cruelties which had been

X committed upon the shipwrecked seamen, by some of

the tribes on the coast. He declared that he had never

heard of the occurrence, and affected to be very much

horrified at it . He was made to understand that he


was to communicate to all the people of his tribe, as

well as to all others whom he might fall in with, that,

if ever any injury were done to any white men when

driven upon any part of the coast, an iron vessel, even X

more terrible than the one he was then in, would be

sent to punish the people.. On the contrary, if he con

ducted himself peaceably, and treated white men well

on all occasions, he would be considered the friend of

the English, and of all other white men. He was also

to make it publicly known, wherever he went, that

white men were always to be treated kindly when in

distress. This he promised to do, with every appear

ance of sincerity, and upon the whole showed more in

telligence than might have been expected.

In consideration of the king's promises, and in order

the more fully to gain his influence, a present was made

to him, the most valuable he could have received

namely, a musket and bayonet, with its accoutrements.

His surprise and delight were beyond all bounds ; he

almost seemed to get young again with pleasure, as he

grasped the precious weapon in his hands. On leaving

the vessel, he insisted on shaking bands with almost

every one on board.

On the following day, he returned again to the ship

in high glee, bringing with him his own spear and shield,

with other implements of war and of the chase . He

then laid them at the captain's feet, as the most valuable

presents he could offer to a “ faithful ally.”




Story of distressed seamen on the Coast of Africa — American schooner

wrecked - Pestilence among the crew - Attempt to reach Delagoa Bay

by land - Joined by natives — Treachery - Quarrel - A white man

killed — Two savages killed — Cannibalism — Roasting the captain -

Horrible situation - Escape of the survivor -

- Hides himself in the

bush — Is discovered - Natives promise to eat him for supper — Give

him food to keep him alive, supposed to be human flesh Escapes by

night - Rejoins the schooner - Party proceeds to Delagoa Bay - Rescue

in boats — Two of the men enter on board the Nemesis — Harsh treat

ment of native women by the Portuguese - Interesting tale—Nemesis

ready for sea --Excursion up the river - Three branches — Dundas

Buffaloes — Zebras – Native birds -Ilerds of Hippopotami— Appear

ance and habits — Fine sport — Difficulty of killing—Manner in which

the natives hunt them — Traps Return of party — Governor's grand

entertainment — Dance of native women Native chiefs the great

abettors of the slave - trade.

The circumstances relating to the distressed seamen

on the coast, alluded to in the foregoing chapter, were

first stated by one of the unfortunate sufferers himself,

who accosted , in very good English, some of the officers

of the Nemesis, as they were returning to their ship,

and soon proved himself to have belonged to an Ame

rican vessel, but stated that he was a native of Ha

nover . His name was Samuel Reid, or something very

much like it. His right eye and lower jaw appeared to


have been dreadfully wounded, and gave a practical in

troduction to the following tale, every part of which

there is too much reason to believe is strictly true.

It appears that an American schooner, called the

Colonel Crockett, of one hundred and forty tons, be

longing to Newburgh, U. S., sailed from New York in


the summer of 1839, bound on a voyage to the west

coast of Africa, to procure bullocks for salting, princi

pally for the St. Helena market. She subsequently,

also, proceeded to Madagascar, and touched at Delagoa

Bay, on her way to Inhampura River, high up on the

east coast, to trade for ivory. There she remained three

weeks, without being able to accomplish her object. In

working out of it again, in May, 1840, she missed stays,

and went on shore on the sand at the river's mouth .

They tried in vain to get the vessel off on the following

day, there not being enough men fit for work, as all, ex

cept three out of eleven, were sick with fever. There

she lay, nearly high and dry. It seems they had only

one boat remaining, which was too small to contain all

the people ; and, therefore, it was agreed that the cap

tain and second mate, (Samuel Reid) with two men,

should start off in her, and try to reach Delagoa Bay,

which was only about seventy miles distant ; where

they were to procure a larger boat and other assistance,

and then return, to bring away the remainder of the

crew, and whatever could be saved from the wreck.

Unfortunately, they found the surf beating over the

bar at the mouth of the Inhampura so heavily, that they

could not succeed in getting the boat out. In this pre

dicament, the captain and second mate volunteered to


set out together, to try to reach Delagoa Bay by land

a most hazardous experiment under any circumstances,

with the dangers of the fatal fevers, and the treachery

of the savage native tribes, staring them in the face.

The attempt was, in fact, almost hopeless. Neverthe

less, on the morning of the 9th of May, 1840, they

landed from the vessel, totally unarmed, thinking, pro

bably, that it would be both useless and laborious for

two men to carry arms which they could scarcely use

for more than one or two discharges, owing to the diffi

culty of carrying ammunition .

They proceeded for about twenty to twenty -five

miles on that day, without molestation, but were at

length joined by three natives, one of whom left them ,

under the pretence of going to procure water, while the

other two lighted a fire, and began to roast some corn ,

of which they all partook equally. In the mean time,

the native who had been absent returned, bringing with

him seven others .

The captain, being anxious to make the most of his

time, determined to proceed, although the day was fast

declining. But, in order to relieve themselves from the

weight of their bags of clothes which they had each

brought with them, they entrusted them to the care of


the natives who followed . On arriving at the bottom

of a steep hill, where there was a picturesque valley,

they all halted for the night, and soon made a capital

fire. As might have been expected, the curiosity of the

natives, to say nothing of their treacherous disposition,

could not withstand the temptation of looking into the

bags they had carried, to examine their contents. This


was resisted by the captain , who was rather a basty

man ; a scuffle ensued, and thus the opportunity the

natives sought for was at once afforded them .

Their intentions might have been foreseen the mo

ment the man left the party, ostensibly to look for

water, but in reality to look for assistance . And

although a natural dread of the white man had hitherto

prevented them from openly commencing their attack,

waiting probably for a more favourable opportunity at

nightfall, a quarrel having once arisen, however trifling,

their savage blood was roused, and all their bad feelings

awakened . They immediately rose in a body, and made

a general discharge of their spears at the two unhappy

white men . The captain faced them boldly, and soon

received several severe wounds in front, and at last tried

to save himself by flight. But, wounded as he was, they

soon overtook him, and struck him down, it is to be

hoped, quite dead, although even that does not appear


The mate, on the other hand, who stood sideways to

receive the discharge of spears, presenting a narrower

surface than in front, was wounded with two spears in

the right arm, and one in the neighbourhood of the

right eye, and , having picked up one of them, made a

furious charge at those who were nearest to him, and

killed two of the savages on the spot. Numbers, how

ever, necessarily prevailed over the most desperate cou

rage, and he was at last struck down by a heavy blow

of a club over the head, and, being senseless, was con

sidered dead. They now dragged him towards the fire,

as he afterwards found, and must have struck him seve


ral heavy blows upon different parts of the body . On

coming to himself again, he found that he was stripped

of all his clothes, lying naked upon the sand, and so ex

hausted that he could neither speak nor move. Gradu

ally, however, becoming sensible of his helpless situation ,

he looked around him from time to time, unobserved ;

and , at length, to his great horror, discovered the body

of his unfortunate captain, lying by the side of the fire,

and several natives standing around it, some of whom

were busy cutting off slices from the fleshy parts of the

body, while others roasted them in the fire, with all the

appearance of anxious longing for the feast !

Can any situation be conceived more horrible at this

moment than that of the unfortunate wounded man ? If

he betrayed symptoms of life, he was sure to be beaten

with heavy clubs to death ; if he lay quiet, to all ap

pearance lifeless, it was far from improbable that, when

they should have become satiated with the flesh of his

companion, they might be ready to commence their

butchery upon himself. Who can picture to himself,

without horror, the dreadful moments which lingered as

they passed, and seemed endless in the anxiety of sus

pense ! There the poor fellow lay, in speechless agony ;

the fated witness of barbarity the most revolting.

At length, having gorged themselves with that horri.

ble repast, in the peculiar manner which those who have

ever seen the hungry savage at his meal can never forget,

they fell asleep round the fire, under the full oppression

of repletion. The poor mate, perceiving this, made a

desperate effort to rouse himself from his death - like

dreaminess, and try to fly from his impending fate, he


knew not how or whither. He could not stand, he could

not walk, and almost fainted with the effort ; yet he

crawled on hands and knees towards the neighbouring

bush or thicket, and there contrived to hide himself.

He lay concealed in helplessness until the following

day, when he was discovered by the restless eye of the

suspicious savage. He asked, by signs, for water ; but

not only was that refused to him, but he was given to

understand, without difficulty, that they looked forward

to the pleasure of eating him for their evening meal with

particular satisfaction ; and a sort of rude table was

pointed out to him, upon which they intended to cut

him up for their repast, according to their most ap

proved fashion. After this, they left him alone in his

misery. It should be mentioned that, when they re

fused him drink, they did give him a little food , of some

kind or other, which they forced him to eat ; and

horrible to think of !-it was not improbably a part of

his murdered companion, upon which they had regaled

themselves the evening before.

As night approached, the man, finding himself some

what recovered from the shock of his wounds, made

another desperate effort to escape. He could now walk ;

and slowly and cautiously he pursued his way, tracing

back his course, with the almost unerring instinct which

the resolution of despair awakens. The darkness of the

night favoured him1 ; and, by sometimes diving into the

wood for concealment, sometimes resting in the darkest

part of the thicket to collect his failing strength, and

then again boldly urging on his course along the more

open beach by the sea-side, he at length eluded all his


pursuers. They had followed him, for some distance, in

vain ; and he safely reached, on the following day, the

schooner he had left, completely exhausted and help

less .

Here he found that, even during his short absence,

death had done its work among his messmates on board .

Finding that there was no hope of procuring relief on

shore, another attempt was made to get the boat over

the bar — and with success. In this the chief mate, with

two men , embarked , in the hope of being able to make

their passage along the coast to Delagoa Bay. The at

tempt most fortunately succeeded ; and , at the end of

five days, to the inexpressible joy of all the survivors

upon the wreck, a large boat was descried approaching

it, which had been hired by their comrades from the

Portuguese authorities for two hundred dollars, for the

purpose of bringing them off. But their troubles were

not yet destined to end. A heavy sea still continued to

beat upon the bar, creating such a surf that they were

compelled to wait at least fourteen days more before

they could leave the schooner. Happily, they were at

length able to embark ; and, carrying with them the

most portable articles of value they could stow away ,

they ultimately succeeded in reaching Delagoa Bay.

Such was the melancholy tale which had occasioned

the very opportune address to the sable king before

mentioned ; and it is to be hoped that some benefit may

in future be derived from the judicious manner in which

the subject was handled, during his majesty's visit to

the Nemesis. It has more than once been suspected ,

that some of the tribes on the eastern coast of Africa


were cannibals, under certain circumstances : but others

again, and Captain Owen among the number, have de

clared that, on inquiry, even their greatest enemies

acquitted them of the suspicion . ” There does not, how

ever,, appear to be any well-grounded reason for calling

in question the truth of the statement made by this

unfortunate man , Reid . His tale was told with every

appearance of truth ; and, although it might be suggested

that the man was not unlikely to have been in a state

of dreamy delirium, after the wounds and blows he had


received upon the head, and might have been led by

fear to imagine what he pictured to himself to be true,

still this is a very unsatisfactory answer to a simple tale

of facts, artlessly told, and without any object to be

gained by inventing a case of horror. Besides which ,

he could hardly have found his way back to the schooner

without assistance, had he not perfectly recovered his

senses before he started .

Two of the unfortunate men entered as able seamen

on board the Nemesis, with liberty to be discharged

when they pleased, and continued on board until she

arrived at Singapore; but the second mate preferred

waiting for any American vessel that might touch at the

settlement .

To return once more to the old king, and the beha

viour of the natives generally, it may here be remarked ,

that the former went back to his own country, to all

appearance impressed with a very high opinion of the

power, the wealth, and the friendly disposition of the

English. Several visits were paid to his encampment,

during the remainder of his stay, by the officers of the

VOL . I. H


Nemesis ; and on all occasions they were received with

becoming civility, and with attention worthy of more

enlightened beings.

These poor people appeared in some respects superior

to the small tribes which frequent the immediate neigh

bourhood of the settlement . There was, on one occa

sion, a dancing exhibition among the latter, which was

savagein all respects, and even indecent in some. They

had rude drums and discordant horns, with which they

bellowed forth the most savage din that ever won the name

of music ; and the contortions of their bodies, as they

danced and hopped about with inconceivable exertion ,

ornamented with pieces of the skins of various wild

animals, made them more resemble demons upon the

stage, in the opera of Der Freischütz, than higher beings

destined to run their little race of mock humanity upon

earth .

It may seem that I have dwelt long upon the subjects

of interest connected with the stay of the Nemesis at

Delagoa Bay ; but in reality it is a part of the coast

of Africa little known to the general reader, and as

the vessel was detained there for a considerable time,

many objects of interest were noticed and remembered .

I have before memtioned that the Portuguese have been

very far from advancing the civilization of the natives.

There is certainly no love for each other between them ;

and the debasing influences of the slave-trade seem uni

versally to poison the heart, and turn even the softer

sympathies of our nature, in course of time, into the

harder brittleness of the lifeless rock. Were it other

wise, how could you be brought to witness the cruel


degradation of the weaker sex, which is inflicted upon

them by the Portuguese authorities, more because they

are black instead of white, than because their crimes

are blacker, or their natures less alive to the inflic

tion ! Whatever may be the cause, none can view with

cold indifference, or without a wish to set them free, the

unhappy native women driven to work in chains, some

even with children tied upon their backs. They may

be slaves, they may be offenders against the law which

Portuguese governors administer, but still they are

women , and claim rather pity than the vindictiveness of


One poor native woman was discovered who spoke Eng

lish tolerably well, and was found to have been extremely

useful as interpreter to all the English and American ves

sels, whalers, and others, which touched there for sup

plies. For what particular reason does not appear, but

this poor creature had been strictly forbidden by the

governor to go on board the Nemesis, under pain of the

severest punishment ; indeed, she had been kept in close

confinement nearly ever since the arrival of the vessel.

But, at length, when an American whaler came into the

bay, she was allowed to visit that ship as usual. There

was something peculiarly artless and good -natured about

the poor woman's manner, and she expressed a particu

lar wish to be allowed to see some person from the

English ship. Word was accordingly brought from the

American captain to that effect.

Her tale was a remarkable one, and told with consi

derable intelligence. She expressed her attachment to

the English in strong terms, enumerated the various

H 2


kindnesses she had received from them, inquired after

particular ships and individuals, and seemed to remem

ber almost every trifling incident that had occurred .

She was greatly afraid of being punished by the go

vernor, for having dared to talk to the English, but could

assign no particular grounds for the harsh treatment she

received. It was, however, shrewdly suspected that it

arose from fear that she might furnish information about

the slave -trade, and that in fact her remarks might

already have been very useful to the English cruizers,

and , consequently, injurious to the Portuguese dealers .

It has been before stated that the governor himself was

not free from the suspicion of countenancing the traffic ;

and, taking all the circumstances together, it became

pretty evident that this poor woman's treatment was

only one of the links in the chain of turpitude forged

out of the iron rod of slavery.

The repairs of the Nemesis had by this time been

completed, after working day and night without in

termission during the whole time she had been

there . Nothing now remained but to fill up the fresh

water necessary for the ship's company, and to take in the

little fuel still required to complete her proper supply .

For the first time since their arrival , some of the offi

cers were now able to leave the ship for a day, and >

make an interesting excursion up the river. They

started early in the morning, accompanied by a Portu

guese merchant and his servant. It being now the least

unhealthy season of the year, there was little or no

danger to be apprehended from sickness, particularly

as it was not their intention to remain out at night.


It has already been noticed that the English River is,

in fact, formed by the united waters of three rivers at

the distance of only five or six miles from the fort, the

largest being the Temby, to the southward, and the

smallest, the Dundas, to the westward, while the Mattoll

runs up towards the northward . The Dundas was the

one chosen on the present excursion, as there was good

expectation of finding large herds of hippopotami upon

its banks, and perhaps other wild animals, which would

furnish a capital day's sport. The banks of the river

were low, and the stream sluggish, and on all sides

abundance of mangrove shrubs and bushes, sufficient of

themselves to indicate that the country must frequently

be flooded. Birds of various kinds, particularly such

as feed upon small fish and worms, were seen in great

numbers, curlews and crows, and occasionally a pelican ,

with wild geese and pigeons, and now and then rarer

birds of more beautiful plumage.

As the boat ascended, four wild buffaloes were seen at

a distance, and a beautiful zebra was descried, galloping

away from the river-side . But the most striking objects

were the numerous hippopotami , in the midst of whose

favourite haunts they now found themselves. A more

curious or exciting scene can scarcely be imagined ; and

when it was resolved to continue the ascent , in the hope

of having some fine sport , the Portuguese merchant was

so alarmed that he very humbly requested that he might

be left behind . The strange animals opened their huge

mouths, and bellowed forth a sound something like the

roar of an ox in concert with the grunt of aa wild boar,

with aa little accompaniment of the braying of an ass.


They did not at first seem frightened, but showed their

formidable- looking teeth as if they had some right

to frighten others. Hundreds of them started up at

different times, some rising from the shallow mud in

which they had been lying, and hastening off with a

quick heavy tread ; others again just raising their heads

up from the deeper parts of the river, and diving again

like porpoises. Several of them were fired at and

wounded, upon which they dived instantly out of sight,

without rising again. Indeed, they are hardly ever killed

in such a way as to be taken upon the spot at once ; but,,

dying under water, the carcase of course rises to the

surface after two or three days, and is then taken pos

session of by the natives. Their flesh is eaten with

great avidity in times of scarcity ; but, generally speak

ing, they are more valued for the beautiful ivory of

their teeth, which are collected and bartered for various

articles of European manufacture.

Several natives were seen paddling about in the river

in their little canoes, apparently without any fear of

the hippopotami, and one party of them was spoken to,

and appeared harmless and contented ; but their invita

tion to land and look at the country was not accepted ,

as there was little time to spare , and their treacherous

character was sufficiently known to make it imprudent

to divide a small party into still smaller ones. They ,

however, explained the mode in which they contrive to

kill the hippopotami, very intelligibly, viz. , sometimes

by making a regular charge at some of them singled

out on purpose , with their spears . To effect this, they

go in large numbers together, but the expedition is at


tended with considerable danger, and rarely resorted to

except in times of dearth . A more common method is

to lay traps of various kinds for them, either upon the

banks of the river itself, or among the neighbouring

trees, a party being constantly at hand, in concealment,

to despatch them at the last moment.

The whole distance ascended, from the junction of

the Dundas with the English River, was about seven or

eight miles, when the water became so shallow that the

boats could scarcely proceed. Towards evening, there

fore, they again descended with the ebb-tide, having the

full light of the moon to guide them down to their ship,

after a laborious but very agreeable day, which fully

repaid them, by the interesting objects which presented

themselves to their notice.

Their last day had now arrived ; and with a view to

show them every possible attention, as well as to conciliate

their good offices, the governor invited them to a grand

entertainment; on which occasion all the delicacies of

the African coast had been sought out, to do honour to

the guests. Rare vegetables and fruits had been col

lected, and grand discussions had taken place in the

settlement, upon the relative gastronomic value of suck

ing pigs, and buffalo cutlets, and the peculiar claims to

consideration of sea -horse soup, or Guinea-fowl ragoût.

Certainly nothing was omitted which could contribute to

the novelty and perfection of the entertainment.

The governor's residence on the outside was something

like a good-sized English cottage, consisting of only

one floor, as is commonly the case in hot countries, and

having two white pillars in front, which supported a por


tion of the roof, serving at the same time for a verandah.

It was ornamented with green branches for the occasion,

affording a very necessary protection from the glare of

the sun, which was still high and powerful. There were

several other smaller cottages disposed around it, some

thing in the form of a square, but not a single tree or

other relieving object, to soften the burning reflection

from the deep sand which formed the site of the fort

and of the governor's residence.

The dinner went off with great eclat, and no little

amusement at the original attempts of the black waiters

(of course, slaves) to vie with European refinement.

Towards evening, when tea had at length been handed

round , the entertainment was concluded with , “for the

last time of performance,” a dance of the native women

belonging to the neighbouring village. Little can be

said for the good taste displayed, either in the dancing,

or in the singing which accompanied it . It is, indeed,

Y rather degrading than otherwise to one's pride of

humanity, to witness the grotesque and sometimes

worse than ridiculous contortions of the body and

countenance, which form the essence of the dances of

savage life, particularly when performed by women.

The whole affair lasted for about an hour, when, glad to

escape the heat and noise, the officers returned to their

ship, well pleased with the attentions which they had

received on shore. On the same day, the men on board

had been regaled with a capital dinner of roast beef and

plum-pudding, and an extra glass of grog, in reward for

their good behaviour and energy during the refitting of

the ship .


Little further remains to be said of Delagoa Bay,

though many interesting facts might have been elicited

in relation to the slave -trade, had the Nemesis remained

there longer. It appears very evident that formerly

the trade was carried on with greater atrocity than at

present, but enough is still known respecting it to make

us look upon the natives themselves as the worst abet

tors of the traffic. The passions of the savage chiefs

seem only to be withheld for aa moment, not suppressed,

by the difficulty of procuring slaves ; and when they can

neither find enemies to seize, nor culprits to condemn,

they sometimes send a sort of maurading expedition, to

seize by treachery their own people, and sell them into

slavery. It is stated by Captain Owen that, within even

a few years, under a former commandant, some of the

chiefs had been persuaded to sell their harmless subjects

for so trifling a sum as a dollar and a half each, or about

seven shillings, to be paid, not in money, but in mer

chandize of trifling value, and that several cargoes had

been obtained in this way for the Brazilian market. No

wonder that, at this rate, the fortunate landing of even

one cargo in three at their ultimate destination should

produce so enormous a profit upon the speculation .

If we look for the most thriving mart for slaves upon

the east coast of Africa, at the present time, we shall

find it at the river Quillimane, a little more than five

hundred miles to the north of Delagoa Bay. It lies

about midway between that settlement and Mozambique.

There the slaves are purchased for coarse cloth, gun

powder, beads, cutlery, &c.; and the “ arrival of one of

the little traders, with his pedlar-kind of stock, among


one of the native tribes in the interior, becomes the

signal for general warfare, in which the weak become the

victims of the strong .” A few years ago, no less than

five thousand slaves were annually exported from this

mart alone, to Rio Janeiro. But it is impossible to

ascertain how many of this human cargo may have lived

to reach their destination.

It is indeed astonishing that a place so unhealthy in

itself as Quillimane should be able to keep up its con

stant supply of human export. The soil and the very

air are no less pestilential than the traffic which debases

it. But the effects of the demand are felt far and

wide, and hundreds of miles in the interior the slave

hunt, as it may be called, is carried on ; and the

ramifications of this odious traffic spread themselves, like

the branches of the upas-tree, not merely poisoning all

within its shade, but becoming more and more infectious

as it branches out further from the root.



Departure from Delagoa Bay — Uncertainty of the Compasses_Arrival

at Mozambique — No danger from lightning to iron vessels - Alarm

of slave -traders — Measures of the governor - Determined to put down

the trade— Visit to the Nemesis—Description of Mozambique - Re

marks on its inhabitants — Slave-dealing — Curious law - Coal found

Future advantages — Best place of call on the coast — Arrival at the

Comoro islands — Johanna - Character of its inhabitants.

All preparations being at length completed, on the

morning of the 17th of August, just twenty days after

having so providentially succeeded in reaching her

port of refuge, the Nemesis was once more ready to

pursue her voyage. Steam was again got up, and, in

order to try the engine, and the steadiness of the vessel,

once more before proceeding out to sea, she was taken

some way up the river and round the bay, the governor

and all his family being on board . On landing, his

Excellency ordered a salute of seven guns to be fired

from the fort, which was returned with cheers only, out

of consideration to the sick men who were on board ;

for already two or three cases of fever, not however

fatal, had broken out.

As the vessel pursued her course out of the bay, she

was heartily cheered by the few ships which were there,


particularly by an American whaler, which had come in

for supplies some time before. Yet all was “ mystery ”

still ; all knew whence she came, but none knew whither

she went.

Scarcely had she cleared the Bay of Delagoa, when a

strong head-wind, high sea, and adverse current, pro

mised again to baffle her efforts. In consequence of

this, after proceeding six or seven miles out to sea, and ,

finding that she was pitching heavily, it was thought

better to bring her up again along the shore. She

pursued her course steadily, in spite of the strong lee

current, until the next evening, when it was resolved to

come to anchor about three or four miles from the coast.

The weather soon moderated considerably, and she ran

on as far as Cape Corrientes. But as the land from

this point takes aa long sweep to the westward, towards

Mozambique, forming by this means an immense bay,

she was obliged to stand out to sea again,

On the 22nd August she passed near the groupe of

Rocky Islands, called Bassa da India, which are situ

ated nearly in the middle of the channel, and pursued

her voyage under sail. Of course, her progress was

slow against an adverse wind, and no little anxiety was

felt by her captain, on account of the uncertainty of the

compasses, and their discrepancy with each other. She

arrived, however, safely at Mozambique on the afternoon

of the 31st, without having had occasion to use her

engines, except just to carry her into the anchorage.

As she passed through the outer roads, she com

municated with H.M. brig Acorn, Captain Adams,

which was on the look-out for two slavers daily ex


pected to arrive for cargoes ; and, the better to entrap

them , she had hoisted a sort of decoy- flag at her main ,

which she had already taken from one of the same

description. While a short visit was being paid on

board, a pilot had come off from the shore, to conduct

the Nemesis into the inner harbour, where she was soon

brought to within a quarter of a mile of the town.

Little time, however, could be spared for the visit, but

there was still some necessary work to be done on

board , which could not be completed until the follow

ing day. I have stated that three stringers, or beams,

had been fixed to the ship's side at Delagoa Bay, but,

in reality, only two of them were finished there, the third

having been prepared on her voyage up to Mozambique,

and only fixed in its proper position on her arrival there,

with the assistance of the carpenters from the Acorn .

As the errors of the compasses have been alluded to

above, and seem to have occasioned very great anxiety

upon this passage,, it may be well to make some re

marks about them again in this place. It will be

remembered , that before leaving Liverpool a long series

of experiments had been made, which were intended to

provide means of counteracting the local action of the

iron of the ship’s hull upon the compasses. But no

worse place can be imagined than a crowded dock for

the purpose of carrying on experiments of such nicety.

Disturbing causes were continually operating , and the

accident she met with on her way to Portsmouth

proved that the correctness of the compasses was very

far from being satisfactory . The experiments which

were afterwards made at Portsmouth were also very


doubtful in their result, in all probability owing, as

before explained, to the absence of the boxes of chain

or broken iron, which are always used by Professor

Airey. It may readily be imagined that the utmost

anxiety was always felt on board the vessel on this

account, particularly when near the land ; and many a

long and anxious night has been spent on deck, with

frequently a leadsman upon each of the paddle-boxes,

to take soundings, and one in the bows besides.

The large magnets, as originally placed in their posi

tions, have never been moved, neither has the compass

been changed in the slightest degree. But, although

they have greatly modified the errors, they have by no

means sufficed to correct them. It has been always

found the safest course not to put faith in the compasses

at all ; or, rather, in this instance, observation showed

that a compass, suspended in a box from a cross spar,

at the height of ten or twelve feet above the head of the

man at the helm, acted with much more accuracy than

any other, and it was always the most relied on whenever

it could be used.

It is scarcely to be doubted that the vessel has often

made a longer passage than she would have done had

the compasses been correct ; for, in bad weather, when

observations of the celestial bodies could not be taken ,

she could scarcely have avoided making many errors in

her course . But nowhere were these difficulties felt

more anxiously than in this passage through the Mozam

bique Channel, where land could never be very far

distant. The necessity for a constant good look -out,

and for two or even three men in the chains, produced


anxiety and fatigue in itself ; while it was also neces

sary for the officers to have the advantage of taking

the altitudes of the stars, whenever the night was clear

enough, not only once, but many times during the night.

The compasses not only differed from the true points,

but differed also from each other ; and, particularly in

the Mozambique Channel, it was observed that they

differed more than elsewhere, without being influenced ,

however, by the rapid atmospheric changes which pre

vailed . The more the ship’s course was directed

towards the true pole, the less was the error of the

compass ; but gradually, as her course was changed

towards the east or west, so did the errors and dis

crepancies of the compasses increase.

It is satisfactory to know that the same degree of

difficulty was not experienced on board the other iron

steamers which were sent out afterwards; and, as the

Nemesis was the first of her class that ever made the

voyage, it is right here to record the difficulties she

encountered under this head . Many an anxious watch

has been spent on deck, trying to catch the altitude of

particular stars as they emerged, for a moment, from

the dense clouds or haze ; and much of this kind of

labour, so frequently repeated, would have been saved,


had her compasses been trustworthy.

With respect to the effects of lightning upon an iron

ship, and the danger which was to be apprehended from

the attraction, both of the vessel as a body, and of its

particular parts as points for the electrical fluid to touch

upon in its passage between the clouds and the earth,

no inconvenience whatever seems to have been felt.


Much had been said about it in England, before her

departure for a tropical region. The timid , and those

less acquainted with the subject, openly expressed their

apprehensions ; the learned smiled with more of curio

sity than fear; but the officers of the vessel itself were

too busy about other matters to give themselves time to

think much about the question. During their voyage

to the southward, when many dangers were encoun

tered, certainly that from lightning was amongst the

least thought of ; and now, as they were passing


through the Mozambique Channel, a part of the world

particularly famous for its heavy storms of thunder and

lightning, not the slightest effect from it was observed

upon the iron vessel. The funnel has a perfectly smooth

top, without any ornamental points, such as are some

times seen1 ; and the main rigging and funnel stays were

made of chain at the top, and rope throughout the rest.

It is now time to return to the anchorage at Mozam

bique, where we left the Nemesis. Of course, as she

passed the principal Portuguese fort, she fired a salute,

which was returned, and immediately became the signal

to the whole town that something uncommon was to be

expected . The arrival of a large steamer was soon

made known in every direction , and not only became a

1 Which is considered by far the most useful plan, and most cal

culated to withstand the sudden jerks and heavy rolling motion, which

cannot be avoided in a shallow steamer. The great precaution required

in every steamer is to have no sharp points of iron about her. But, as

regards the mere hull of the vessel, the only practical result arrived at

appears to be, that there is no greater danger to be apprehended from the

effects of lightning upon one of iron, than if it were constructed in the

usual manner of wood.


source of curiosity to all, but an object of great alarm

to many. The first impression was that she was sent

purposely to put an end to the slave-trade at that place,

and the consternation became general ; for the governor,

of whom more will presently be said, at once encouraged

this opinion, which he felt would strengthen his power,

as it did his determination, which was proved to be

perfectly sincere, to do his utmost to stop the trade.

Those most interested in the traffic had already begun

openly to defy his power, and had not hesitated to

declare to him that they would still carry it on in some

of the shallow rivers, where vessels of war could not

approach them. But the sight of a large steamer, run

ning along close in -shore, almost as if she were a small

boat, drawing at the same time only five feet and a half

of water, at once damped their ardour. They never

could have dreamed that a large heavily-armed vessel

could move wherever she pleased through their smallest

streams ; and their alarm was proportioned to their


Shortly before this, there had been so strong a dis

position to resist the governor's power, that it had

amounted almost to a rebellion ; and his Excellency,

though a bold man, and the first governor of the Por

tuguese possessions on that coast who had come with

the honest determination to stop the trade at all hazards,

felt himself in a very awkward position. Perhaps he

had not forgotten the mutiny of the troops, and the

disturbances which had taken place there about fifteen

years before, under a former governor ; then the

town was only saved from pillage, and the government

VOL . I. I


from being overturned, by the opportune aid of the

seamen of H.M.S. Andromache and Cygnet, under

Commodore Nourse. These vessels happened to be in

the outer roads at the time, and application was offi

cially made to the commodore, for protection to the

lives and persons of the governor and his family , and

the peaceable portion of the inhabitants. Mutineers

and rioters have generally so little reliance upon each

other, that they are, in most instances, overthrown

with the greatest ease by the coolness and decision of a

small body of regular troops, acting with good faith .

But on that occasion the whole of the rioters dispersed

on seeing the British seamen approach the landing-place,

and before they had even landed before the palace.

So likewise, in the present instance, the governor

felt himself strong enough to take extreme measures,

the moment he saw the steamer so close to the town .

He afterwards admitted that her arrival was most

opportune, and so pleased was he, at the same time,

that he turned at once upon the slave-dealers ; even

that very day he seized two large slavers, condemned

them at once, and publicly sold them by auction before

the day was over. Such vigorous measures had been

quite unknown under any former governor, and at once

proved , both to the Portuguese and to the world, that

his professions were real, and that he meant to keep his

word . He had before this taken strong measures

against the dealers in slaves, but this bold step was

the finishing stroke of his policy, and at once filled all

parties with dismay. In fact, trade of all kinds was

stagnant for the moment, in consequence of the mea


sures adopted ; and large heaps of valuable ivory were

lying there useless, in consequence of the impossibility,

or, at all events, extreme hazard, of sending the usual

slave-ships to sea, which would convey it to a market.

The governor is a brigadier-general in the Portuguese

service, by name Joachim Pereira Morinho, and had

formerly served under the Duke of Wellington in the

Peninsula. He had not been long on the coast ; but,

as he had come with a full determination to destroy

the slave-trade, or, at all events, to do his utmost

towards it, he had already been long enough there

to gain the ill-will of all the Portuguese residents. In

deed , he did not live altogether in security from vio

lence, arising from the vindictive feelings of those

interested in the traffic ; and he had, therefore, re

quested Captain Adams, in the Acorn, to remain there

as long as he could to afford him protection ; and had

also detained aa small brig -of-war belonging to his own

country, named the Villa Flora, to overawe the sea

faring part of the population .

The governor seemed to entertain the best feelings

towards the English generally, with whom he had asso

ciated a good deal, and particularly inquired what

assistance he could give to the Nemesis. As fuel and

vegetables were, of course, most in request, they were

mentioned. He appeared quite pleased to have it in

his power to furnish something that would be of use to

her ; and, to the gratification of every one, a large boat

came off to the ship early in the morning, bringing a

fat ox, four sheep, a large pig, and some vegetables

and fruit ; besides which there was also a large country

I 2


boat full of wood, containing eight thousand pieces.

In addition to these very handsome presents, he also

proposed to fill up the ship's water free of expense.

This was accompanied by a note, in Portuguese, from

the secretary -general of the province, Don Antonio

Julio di Castro Pinto, of high degree and higher

sounding name, who was charged by his Excellency to

offer the good things above-mentioned “ as a mark of

his good will, and of his sense of the service which

the visit of the Nemesis would render to the cause

of anti-slavery, and, at the same time, as a trifling


present to a brother in arms from an old soldier, grown

grey in the service of his country, both at home and

abroad .”

Nothing could have been more acceptable, and ,

through the active assistance which the Nemesis re

ceived, she was enabled to proceed on her voyage, after

little more than a day's delay. As an acknowledg

ment of his Excellency's attention , a trifling present of

some capital hollands, preserved salmon, and English

pickles, were sent to him, which were very great luxuries

in that part of the world, and appeared to be duly

appreciated. His Excellency had never before seen a

steamer in those parts ; and, the better to do justice to

his good nature, and to increase the sensation her arrival

had produced on shore, he was invited to come on board

to look at the ship, and to partake of such refreshment

as she had to offer. This was accordingly a grand

day for all parties, and the 1st of September, 1840,

will have been, on many accounts, long remembered at



His Excellency came on board in his state-barge,

attended by all his suite, in full uniform , under a salute

from the batteries and the Portuguese brig -of -war,

while crowds of spectators stood upon every point on

shore whence a good view could be obtained . The

deck of the Nemesis, though rather crowded with

visiters, presented a gay appearance, from the variety of

uniforms and foreign orders which all those who were

entitled to them , not few in number, displayed upon

the occasion .

Sufficient time having been spent in viewing the ship

and inspecting the machinery, which few of them had

ever seen before, the whole party sat down to a grand

déjeúner à la fourchette. Now, it may seem that a

trifling incident of this sort could have no possible con

nection with the suppression of the slave -trade ; and,

moreover, this latter question has been more frequently

discussed at tea -drinking parties among benevolent

ladies, than at champagne luncheons among the redoubt

able sons of Mars. Yet the impression which a thing

makes is often of more consequence than might other

wise be anticipated from the trifling nature of the thing


The healths of the Queens of England and of Portugal

were drank with three times three, followed imme

diately by a salute of twenty -one guns, both from the

steamer and the Portuguese brig. The effect of this

upon the inhabitants was by no means unimportant ; it

impressed them more than ever with the conviction ,

that the governments of the two countries were per

fectly united in their determination to suppress the


slave -trade ; and the sound of the royal salutes ringing

in their ears completely put an end, for the moment

certainly, of all their inclinations to resist the governor's


In proof of his determination to do his utmost to

suppress the slave -trade, General Morinho had already

ordered one of the deputy -governors to be brought up

to Mozambique, to be tried by court-martial for dis

obedience of orders, in permitting the trade under his

own eyes ; and it has already been mentioned, that

from the information which was given by the Nemesis

of the slave-brig at Delagoa Bay, lying under the very

guns of the fort, the governor of that settlement was

also to be sent for.

After all, however, the tenure of his Excellency's

power must always be unstable ; since a strong interest

would be exerted elsewhere, among the numerous in

fluential parties interested, more or less, in the trade,

to obtain his removal under some pretence or other.

That no attention might be omitted, after the great

kindness his Excellency had shown to all on board , he

ome way up the river, to

and his party were steamed some

show them the capabilities of the vessel ; thousands

of boats crowded round her in all directions, while the

house-tops, the fort, the beach, and all the ships in port,

were covered with people anxious to see the greatest

novelty the place had ever been witness to — the first


steamer, moving with rapidity about their fine harbour,

and in whatever direction she pleased .

A few words may not be out of place concerning the

position of Mozambique, and its eligibility as a place of


call for fuel, should steamers be sent more frequently by

that route to India. The following description of the har

bour, taken from Captain Owen's narrative of his surveys

on that coast, will be found perfectly correct. “ It is

formed by a deep inlet of the sea, five and аa half miles

broad and six long, receiving the waters of three incon

siderable rivers at its head . At the entrance are three

small islands, which, together with reefs and shoals,

render the anchorage perfectly safe in the worst weather.

Of these islands, that of Mozambique, on which stands

the city, is completely formed of coral, very low and

narrow , and scarcely one mile and aa half in length. It

is situated nearly in the centre of the inlet, and just

within the line of the two points that form its ex

tremities. The other two islands, called St. George

and St. Jago, lie about three miles outside of Mozam

bique, but close to each other. They are uninhabited ,

although covered with rich verdure and trees, but upon

a coral foundation."

Mozambique was taken from the Arabs by the Por

tuguese, at the very commencement of the sixteenth

century ; and the extent of the fort of St. Sebas

tian, built there by them , and which even now might

be rendered a very strong fortification, capable of

mounting nearly a hundred guns, if in proper repair,

will be sufficient to show the great importance which

they attributed to it, even in that early period of its

settlement. It still contains large barracks and exten

sive quarters and storehouses, but only a very small

and feeble garrison, of scarcely more than a couple of

hundred men , either black or creole seapoys. There


are likewise two other smaller forts upon the island ,

which may therefore be considered strongly fortified,

although more indebted to the past than to the present

for the importance which, at first view , it appears to


The public buildings of Mozambique all bespeak the

value of the settlement to its possessors, in the days of

Portuguese maritime distinction. The governor's palace

must have been, in its best days, a residence worthy of

an influential ruler. It is built of stone, is of conside

rable extent, and has some fine rooms in it ; in fact, it

speaks much for the importance attached by the Por

tuguese, in former times, to their eastern possessions.

The large stone wharf, built on handsome arches, with

the fine Custom House, in a sort of square at the ex

tremity of it, clearly point out the ancient commercial

value of the settlement: ; withered at last, perhaps,more

by the paralyzing effects of the slave-trade, than by any

natural decrease in the commercial capabilities of the

east coast of Africa .

In short, the city has retrogaded into comparative

insignificance ; the number of resident Fortuguese has

become very inconsiderable, with the exception of some

Canareens or creole Portuguese, born in other Por

tuguese possessions in India, and, though commonly

called white, are only so “ by courtesy ,” being often

quite as black as the true Indians. Bad government and

moral deterioration have added not a little to the other

causes of its downfall; and it will scarcely be credited

that a distinct law has been passed, that those who

were married should be compelled to remain there, or,


at least, not return to their own country. The effect of

so extraordinary a measure has been , that nobody is

disposed to get married at all ; and so low a tone of

moral feeling has come to prevail, that people live toge

ther in perfect amity, without any matrimonial or moral

ties, and with little feeling of shame at the absence of

them .

I have dwelt a little upon these particulars concern

ing Mozambique, because it is the principal of all the

Portuguese settlements on that coast ; and if, as such ,

it has fallen so far from its former state, we may judge

how the others must now be lingering on between life

and death . The fatal influence of the slave - trade ap

pears to paralyze the whole commercial traffic of the

country ; the natives, being reduced to mutual distrust

of each other, and continually living in fear and poverty,

are unable to purchase the comforts of foreign manu

factures. The selling of slaves is almost the only profit

of the chiefs, unfitting them for every other enterprise,

and deadening within them every feeling of honour and

every hope of improvement. A universal stagnation

seems to hang over the mind of man, as well as over the

productions of the earth. Were it not for the industry

of the Arab population in the neighbourhood, a perio

dical famine would inevitably occur. At the present

moment , the whole of the Portuguese possessions , along

the Rios da Senna, do not supply even enough grain for

their own consumption . Yet the country is a remark

ably fine one , capable of producing luxuriantly all the

fruits of the earth , and, were it cleared and cultivated ,

would become habitable even for Europeans , through the


improvement of its climate ; yet, there is much land

now neglected and barren, which was once highly culti

vated .

The slave -trade is, in fact, a worse pestilence to the

country than even the fever itself ; and Mozambique,

Quillimane, Delagoa Bay, Sofala, and Inhamban, are

all fallen .to the lowest grade of civilization. If you

ask the simple tale of history, what has been the effect

of Portuguese rule upon that coast, you will hear nei

ther of savages reclaimed , soil improved , commerce ex

tended , justice and mercy practised , nor Christianity

taught. One single cloud seems to have blighted the

germ of every improvement in its very bud ; and the

blight of slavery has poisoned every leaf on which it

rested .

Nevertheless, as a place of call for refreshment, for

ships passing through the Channel, Mozambique has

some claims to attention. Abundance of vegetables and

fruit are to be obtained there ; pigs and goats are readily

to be purchased , as well as poultry ; and, were the de

mand for bullocks larger, they would soon be brought

to market in numbers. At present, however, they are

very dear.

But the great treasure of the place remains yet to be

developed ; at all events, the subject is well open to in

vestigation . The existence of good coal in that neigh

bourhood is now, I believe for the first time, made

public. There is reason to expect that it will be found

in large quantity , and of good quality , although as yet

the search for it has not been carried on to any great

extent. The all-engrossing subject of the slave-trade


seems to darken every other object of attention in that

quarter, and the Portuguese are probably afraid that

the discovery of coal in their settlements would occa

sion the continual visits of so many steamers and other

vessels, that even greater difficulty would be thrown

in the way of the traffic .

Just as the Nemesis was leaving the harbour, the

captain of an English merchant ship, the only one there

at the time, brought off a large piece of excellent coal

for inspection. It had all the appearance of coal per

fectly adapted for steaming purposes ; it was stated to

be found at Quillimane, (the settlement before alluded

to) about three hundred miles to the southward of Mo

zambique, and that there is every reason to believe it

might be procured in large quantities, and worked

without difficulty. This specimen was sent to Eng

land for examination ; but it has since been ascertained

that it was not fortunate enough to reach its desti

nation . This is on all accounts to be regretted. It

was sent down to the Cape of Good Hope from Mozam

bique, in a box , with directions that it should be for

warded to the India House, but was probably lost, or

set aside at the Cape.

If further investigation should prove what is here

stated to be correct, there can be no reason for not

searching for coal upon other parts of the coast ; and

under any circumstances, as Quillimane is so short a

distance from Mozambique, the coal might easily be

brought up to the latter at little expense ; and, if it

were to become a more frequented route to India, it

would be desirable to moor a large coal-hulk off the


town, in which a constant supply of coal could be kept

ready, and which could be taken in rapidly, and at little

expense, by a steamer running up alongside of her.

But the Portuguese, unfortunately, seem quite blind,

even to their own interests ; and they cannot perceive,

that if they could work coal-mines, they would employ

a large population, circulate wealth throughout their

territory, and attract a considerable and improving com

merce to their port. But then their slave -trade would

be ruined : and they are not even wise enough in their

own generation to perceive, that out of its very ashes

would gradually spring up the healthy and vigorous

plant of commerce, upon an extensive scale, not only

with foreign parts, but with the native tribes of Africa.

These, however, are now continually desolated by the

scourge of war and slavery. But they would soon learn

to value peace and peaceful arts, and the taste for new

articles of manufacture would grow gradually into

wants, and wants in course of time give birth to the

wish for luxuries. Far above all the profits of the

traffic in human beings, would then become the fruits

of wholesome trade ; the country would advance, in

stead of being driven back ; and the welfare ofthe com

munity and of the government be simultaneously pro

moted .

New regulations respecting trade would in the first

instance be indispensable, as at the present time the

commandants or little governors of all the minor Portu

guese settlements are themselves allowed to trade, and

often are the principal, or in a manner the only, mer

chants in the place. This alone must destroy all


healthy competition, the soul of commerce. But, were

trade placed upon a proper footing, and coal likely to

become an article of demand, it would easily be ex

ported to the Cape, Mauritius, and up to Aden for the

Bombay steamers, and to numerous other parts, in which

the demand for coal is yearly increasing, and likely to

become almost unlimited.

I have here rather assumed that coal will be found in

large quantity, than proved it ; but sufficient has been

said to point out the great probability of its existence

upon that coast, in more places than one ; and the ques

tion involves such important consequences, that it de

• serves the fullest investigation.

It was at one time thought that coal would be found

in some one of the Comoro islands before alluded to, at

the northern extremity of the Mozambique Channel;

and the Nemesis was directed, at all events, to touch

there on her way , for the purpose of inquiring into its

eligibility as a depôt, and place of refreshment for

steamers .

The distance of the nearest of the Comoro islands,

Mohilla, from Mozambique, is scarcely two hundred and

fifty miles ; and from thence to Johanna, which is the

principal one, and the place of residence of the sultan

or ruler of the islands, is about thirty miles. Johanna

lies as near as possible in the middle of the Channel,

between Madagascar and the mainland of Africa, just

where it widens into the open sea.

The Nemesis took her departure from Mozambique

on the evening of the 1st of September, but did not

reach Johanna until the afternoon of the 4th, having


made nearly the whole distance under sail only, against

a very strong south -westerly current.

The island of Mohilla is, of course, the first seen, and

strikes you by its lofty, wooded summit, and the nume

rous small islets which surround it to the southward.

The Channel between Mohilla and Johanna is pictu

resque, and the high inland mountains every where pre

sent aa rich and refreshing appearance, covered as they

are with luxuriant wood, and broken occasionally into

deep glens, marked by the usual rich tropical verdure.

Johanna is the most frequented of all the islands, and

affords the best anchorage. But it was quite dark be

fore the Nemesis approached the bay, and an occa- .

sional blue light and a rocket were let off, to give

notice of her approach , in order that a pilot might come

off, or else a signal be made to direct her to the best


A large fire was soon lighted on shore for this pur

pose ; and, no sooner did she come within a moderate

distance, than numerous boats came alongside ; the

natives jumped on board, in apparent delight at seeing

her come in, not unmixed with extreme surprise at her

appearance, and the mode in which she moved through

the water. Several of them spoke broken English, and

although they were naturally delighted at the prospect

of earning a little money, they were even more so at

the sight of her armament, and at once concluded that

she was sent purposely to assist the sultan and the

people of the island, who were at that time in great

danger and trouble .

Johanna is occasionally frequented by English ships,


for provisions, which are there abundant and reasonable,

and the people have become favourably known in Eng

land, in consequence of their kind treatment of nume

rous poor English seamen, who have from time to time

been wrecked on those islands, or on the neighbouring

coasts. The great bay, which is on the northern side

of the island, is not, however, a very suitable anchorage,

except, perhaps, during the S. W. monsoon . At all

times, there is a very heavy surf rolling in shore ; and,

during the N. E. monsoon, which sets directly into it,

the heavy swell renders the anchorage unsafe. It

cannot, therefore, be considered at all eligible as a

coal depôt for steamers, particularly when Mozambique,

which has greater claims to attention, is within such a

moderate distance. Still, it is a very useful place of

refuge for our whaling ships in that part of the world ;

and, as the inhabitants, as well as the authorities, have

always shown great kindness to the English, and, in

fact, consider themselves almost in the light of allies of

England, it would seem politic to keep alive the good

feeling they evince toward us.

The inhabitants of these islands are principally of

Moorish origin, nearly all Mohammedans, and they wear

the turban and loose dress which belong to no part of

the neighbouring coast ; and a dagger or pistols in their

girdle are by no means uncommon . They have a genuine

old English or Arab mode of shaking hands, with a

gaiety of manner by no means unpleasing. Their fea

tures are regular, and well formed , and their com

plexion, though dark , is very different from that of the

inhabitants, either of the neighbouring continent, or of


the island of Madagascar. In short, it is evident, that

they were originally emigrants from some distant part,

probably Arab traders, although their appearance has

become modified in the course of successive genera


These islanders appear to be rather favourites of the

different men -of -war and merchant ships which touch

there ; though they have acquired a character for dupli

city and cunning, and, consequently, for telling false

hoods, which at the same time they smooth over with

the most artful flattery. But high testimony has been

often borne to their kindness and hospitality towards

Englishmen in distress ; and,when the Exmouth grounded

there several years ago, with a great number of pas

sengers, on her way home, the Sultan Abdallah, the

father of his present highness, particularly distinguished

himself, by even attending in person to direct the efforts

of his men, who came to assist in getting the vessel off.

He paid the utmost attention to all the passengers, par

ticularly to the women and children, taking care that

they should be provided with every thing he could fur

nish for their comfort, until they could pursue their

voyage further. Nor is this by any means a solitary in

stance of the kind services which they have rendered to

our countrymen .

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Isaac Purdy Sculp ?




Comoro Islands Sultan Alloué - His father Abdallah - Treaties for


suppression of the Slave-trade — Faithful to their engagements — Suf

ferings — Former presents from the East India Company - Queen of

Madagascar - Her cruelty — Missionaries put to death - Persecutions

-Chiefs take refuge in Johanna Story of Raymanytek — Double

dealing — Secret traffic in slaves — Remonstrances produce rebellion

Arms his followers and slaves — The Sultan, being pressed, applies for

assistance to the English — Arms sent from the Cape - Emissaries ar

rive at the Mauritius — Correspondence of Sultan Alloué — Intrigues

of the slave- traders — Difficulties increase . Sultan applies for aid to

Calcutta - Arrival of the Nemesis at Johanna — Critical moment


Interview — The Sultan's inquiries -- Excursions into the interior

Aspect of the island—Entertainment at the palace — Sultan superin


tends the “ cuisine " . -Another entertainment - Ladies of the court



Conference on public affairs - Sultan's distress — - Application to Ray

manytek - Danger averted - English flag hoisted - Departure of the


The present ruler, or sultan, of the Comoro Islands,

by name Alloué, is the son of the late sultan Abdallah,

before alluded to as having been particularly kind to

distressed Englishmen . He is a young man, under thirty,

of moderate height, agreeable countenance, and easy,

pleasant manners. But his character is not distinguished

for energy, and the difficulties with which he has had to

contend appear to have been rather beyond his powers.



His father, Abdallah, had made a treaty with Colonel

Farquhar, when governor of the Mauritius, by which he

undertook to suppress, by every means in his power , the

extensive trade in slaves which was at that time carried

on at the islands which were under his dominion ; and

he particularly distinguished himself by the zeal and

perfect good faith with which he carried out its provi

sions. Indeed, to this cause much of the subsequent

difficulties of his family, and the impoverishment of his

people, seem to have been attributed .

In the latter days of Abdallah’s life, he appears to

have met with sad reverses ; and, judging from the do

cuments which I have been able to examine, it would

seem that his determined resistance to the continuance

of the slave-trade raised up enemies against him , not

only in his own islands, but in the more powerful one

of Madagascar, and on the coast of Africa itself. It is

certain, also, that he was at all times favourably regarded

by the government of Bombay, for his services to the

Company's ships, and, as an acknowledgment of his

assistance, a present was sent to him every three years,,

of aa small supply of arms and ammunition . Abdallah's

death was, however, at length brought about, after suf

fering numerous hardships, by the treacherous and cruel

treatment of an emissary from Madagascar, or one of the

more than half-savage chiefs of that island, into whose

hands he at length fell.

This is not the place to enter at large into the sub

ject of Madagascar history ; but it will be sufficient to

remark that the present queen of that country is aa most

cruel and tyrannical sovereign ; that she sets little value


upon the lives or blood of her subjects, and that she is

supposed to have poisoned her predecessor, the late King

Radaman ; further, that she did not succeed in winning

the throne without sacrificing most of the chiefs who

were opposed to her, and that she has since contrived

to bring under her subjection many who were formerly

independent governors, or chiefs, of the territory they

severally occupied . Those who take an interest in mis

sionary enterprises will also have heard of the dreadful

cruelties she has exercised upon those unhappy men

within her territories, most of whom were barbarously

put to death, some in her own presence, and partly, it is

said, by her own hand. Only one or two of them escaped

from the island .

It was not unnatural, under these circumstances, that

one or more of the chiefs of the island should have taken

refuge in the neighbouring islands of Johanna and Mo

hilla . Accordingly, so long ago as 1828, a chief, called

Raymanytek, who had been governor of an important

province in Madagascar under the old king, and was said

by some to be his brother, came over to Johanna with

about one hundred followers, and represented to Sultan

Abdallah that he had made his escape from his own

country, through fear of the queen , who sought his life

(probably he had tried to get possession of the chief

authority himself ), and that, as he understood the inha

bitants of the Comoro Islands were allies of the English,

as well as himself, he came there to beg for an asylum.

There was something very suspicious in his story ; but,

nevertheless, Abdallah received him in a very friendly

K 2


manner, placing a house and lands at his disposal, and

shewing him other civilities .

Probably, however, entertaining some mistrust of his

new visiter, Abdallah sent an envoy to Bombay to make

known the particulars of his arrival, and to ask whether

the government would feel satisfied with his residence

upon the islands under his dominion. He suspected, no

doubt, that the new chief might soon become aa trouble

some visiter, and was anxious to endeavour to secure

some further assistance from Bombay, should he stand

in need of it. It is likely, also, that he wished to ob

tain some information respecting the character of Ray


From Bombay reference was made to the government

of the Mauritius upon the subject, as being better ac

quainted with the political state of Madagascar. In

the mean time, the chief, not content with a residence

in the neighbourhood of Sultan Abdallah, went to the

opposite or southern side of the island , where he pur

chased a small native vessel, for the evident purpose of

trading in slaves. The little craft made several voyages

across to the coast of Africa ; and , at length, Abdallah

remonstrated with him upon the subject, and informed

him that if this clandestine trade were not discontinued ,

he should make him leave the island altogether. To

this no reply was made ; and still the vessel went across

to the coast, bringing back, on one occasion, nearly two

hundred slaves. Many of these were probably re-exported

to other parts .

Abdallah hereupon ordered his disobedient visiter


immediately to quit the island, upon the ground that

the slave-trade could not be permitted within his terri

tory, the more particularly as he was bound by treaty

with the English to prevent it in every way he could.

To this summons Raymanytek made no other reply

than to bring all his followers together armed, and, by

means of bribery and fair promises, to enlist in his cause

some of the poorer inhabitants in his neighbourhood,

and also to arm as many of his negro slaves as he could

prevail upon, and who appeared trustworthy. Money

seemed at all times to be at his command, and he is said

to have brought a well -filled purse with him when he

landed from Madagascar. With the force he had now

collected, he made an unexpected descent upon the

capital of the island, which, being unprepared, was, of

course, unable to resist him. The consternation was

general, in addition to which, his money is believed to

have influenced some of the people to remain quiet.

Almost immediately the old Sultan Abdallah was de

posed, and his brother Ali took the chief power into his

hands. Abdallah, with all the rest of his family, left

the island, with the hope of being able to find an oppor

tunity of reaching some English port, where he might

represent his case, and ask for assistance. He reached

the island of Comoro in safety ; but what became of him

afterwards, until he was ultimately put to death with

extreme barbarity, as before stated, I have hitherto not

been able to ascertain .

During this short interval, Raymanytek had been able

to get possession of the arms belonging to Abdallah, and

which I have stated were supplied every two or three


years by the government of Bombay, as a recompence


for his friendly assistance when needed ; and, having

burnt and ruined the greater part of the town, and com

pletely destroyed the crops and plantations in the neigh

bourhood, he embarked on board his little vessel, and,

taking with him all that he could conveniently carry

away of any value, he withdrew to the island of Mohilla,

and established himself there in a position easy ofdefence;

all the subsequent efforts of the rightful authorities to

turn him out were of no avail .

This man must have been supplied by some means or

other with abundance of ammunition ; and it is not un

likely that his speculations in the slave-trade, by means

of his own vessel, may have supplied him not only with

money, but also with warlike weapons and ammunition.

It is well surmised, too, that he received assistance di

rect from Madagascar at various times ; and it must not

be forgotten that the nine or ten years which elapsed

between the commencement of these occurrences and the

visit of the Nemesis was a period particularly fraught

with difficulties in relation to the traffic in slaves, and

that it appears, prima facie, highly probable that this

marauding rebel may have been strongly encouraged, and

even aided, in his attempts, by distant parties interested

in the traffic. Indeed, unless some assistance of this

kind had been furnished to him , it is difficult to see how

he could so long have found means to maintain himself.

The sultan applied for assistance on several occasions

to the governments of the Mauritius, of the Cape, and

of Bombay. The letter of the young Sultan Alloué,,

after the death of his father, in 1836, addressed to the


governor of the Cape of Good Hope, and to the admiral

of the station, asking for assistance, was a really pathetic

appeal to their good feelings. It detailed the horrors

of poor old Abdallah's death, and the violent acts of the

invader ; it related the defenceless state in which he found

himself on taking the reins into his hands ; and then

appealed to British generosity, in return for the faithful

adhesion of his family to Great Britain, and the hospi

tality of his people towards all British subjects.

The answer on that occasion was prompt, and wor

thy of the cause, namely, “ that in consequence of the

difficulties in which the sultan of Johanna was placed ,

and in consideration of the fidelity with which the late

Sultan Abdallah had fulfilled his engagements for the

suppression of the slave -trade, and the hospitality which

he had on all occasions shewn to British vessels touching

at Johanna, the governor and admiral readily yield to

the earnest desire of the Sultan Alloué for the aid of

arms and ammunition, and send an ample supply thereof

to Johanna in one of his majesty's sloops of war, ” &c.

With this assistance, Alloué was once more able to

make head for the time against his enemy. But the

country still continued in a very unsettled state ; and,

as the assistance was only temporary, he again fell into

extreme difficulty, and addressed himself to the governor

of the Mauritius upon the subject. Sir William Nicolai,

who was governor and commander-in -chief of that island

at the time, referred the application to the consideration

of the home government. But it would seem that some

little intrigues had sprung up among the sultan's own


family, which it is not very easy , and so far very unim

portant, to fathom .

The Sultan Alloué's uncle, Seyd Abbas, had about the

same time sent two young men , either his sons or ne

phews, to the Mauritius, to report the unhappy state of

the island , and to request assistance in support of the

actual Sultan Alloué. Not long afterwards, two or three

other young men arrived at the Mauritius, also bearing

letters from Seyd Abbas to the same purport. As this

man was thought to be well disposed towards the Eng

lish , and had been favourably spoken of by all those who

had visited the island, and as, moreover, his object seemed


to be the laudable one of trying to support the young

sultan's authority, even though without his highness's

acknowledged sanction, it was judged proper to maintain

all these young men at the public expence, until an

opportunity should offer for sending them back again.

After the lapse of some months, a vessel was hired on

purpose to carry them back ; and it was, at the same

time, distinctly intimated that, “ however praiseworthy

the intentions of Seyd Abbas may have been in sending

his own relations from home as political messengers, and

however high he may stand personally in the respect of

Englishmen, it would in future be impossible for British

authorities to maintain political correspondence with

him or with any other person in Johanna than his high

ness the sultan of the island.” The sultan was further

recommended henceforth to give Seyd Abbas a share of

his confidence in his councils, in consequence of his age

and experience, and the apparent sincerity with which


he espoused his interests ; and, at the same time, " the

young men were recommended to his notice as very sen


sible and well -informed persons." The friendly interest

and intentions of the government towards the sultan and

people of Johanna were then in general terms expressed ;

and thus, with kind words and kinder hopes for better

days for his subjects, the young sultan was left for the

present to take care of himself.

It was only a few months before the arrival of the

Nemesis that some of the events which have been re

corded had occurred . The sultan Alloué was still in

extreme danger ; and another letter was addressed by

him to the governor of the Mauritius, only about five

months previously. It appears to have been remarkably

well written, and contains some ingenious observations

which, as being written by a young Moorish prince, the

ruler of an island in a remote corner of the globe, under

circumstances of great difficulty, it may be worth while

to dwell upon for aa moment.

He thanks his excellency the governor of the Mauri

tius for the kindness he had shown to the young men,

whom he admits to be distantly related to him ; but

shrewdly remarks that their “ clandestine departure

from Johanna, contrary to his express orders, and during

the night, had given him reason to suppose that they

were not quite so friendly disposed towards him as they

wished his excellency to believe : and that he feared the

object of their journey had been a pecuniary speculation

upon the governor's goodness and British hospitality.””

He proceeds to express his thanks for being apprized

that persons had entertained political correspondence


with English authorities without his knowledge or con

sent ; and adds, that, although he fully concurs in his

excellency's opinions with regard to the age and expe

rience of his uncle, Seyd Abbas, still there are many

others in Johanna who possess the same qualities, and

whose attachment and loyalty he had never had occasion

to doubt.

The suspicion here betrayed is self-evident, and suffi

ciently delicately expressed . The picture he then draws

of the state of his country is a pitiable one for a prince

himself to be obliged to depict— " the town burnt; the

country ravaged ; all our cattle killed by the chief, Ray

manytek, aided by natives of Mohilla, under his orders.”

He distinctly intimates that the rebel chief was receiving

" assistance from the French ;" and, although he does not

state reasonable grounds for the assertion, the statement

is not altogether an improbable one, considering that

the abolition of slavery in the Mauritius had roused the

feelings of the French population against us and our

allies : and, moreover, slavery was still in existence in

the neighbouring island of Bourbon, where strong feel

ings against the English had been undisguisedly avowed ;

while, at the same time, the difficulty of procuring fresh

slaves had greatly raised their price.

Intrigues were thought to have been carried on by

the French traders in Madagascar itself, where they

have long attempted to obtain a footing, but with little

success, owing to the deadly nature of the climate. It

is, however, perfectly well known that they are still

anxious to strain every nerve to establish themselves in

some place to the eastward of the Cape, in addition to


the island of Bourbon, where there is no harbour what

ever, but merely an open roadstead. They are, more

over, anxious to get some point d'appui whence they

may injure British trade, in case of war in that quarter ;

and, at the same time, by establishing a little colony

of their own, find some means of augmenting their mer

cantile marine.

One of their latest attempts has been at the Isle Ma

dame; and it is perfectly well known that several other

efforts have been made, and still more talked about.

If, however, Raymanytek really did receive any foreign

assistance, it is not probable that it was with the know

ledge or connivance of the government of Bourbon , but

rather from the restless enterprise of private individuals

interested in the slave-trade. However that may be, there

seems to be very good grounds for our hoping that the

Sultan Alloué may be permitted to remain in the peace

able possession of his own rightful territories. It is our

evident interest to prevent those fine islands from falling

into any other hands, more especially now that the inter

course between the West and East, through the Mozam

bique channel, is likely to be more extensive than for

merly ; and that the opening for legitimate commerce,

within the channel itself, cannot but attract the attention

of British merchants. The trade in slaves will become

yearly more difficult ; and, indeed , nothing would tend

more to cause its total downfall than the gradual exten

sion , under proper government protection , of the legiti

mate trade in British manufactures along that coast.

The young Sultan Alloué further went on to declare in

his letter that numbers of his people had been captured


and taken to Mozambique and Zansibar, where they were

sold into slavery ; and that several such cargoes had al

ready been sent over. He begged earnestly that assist

ance might speedily be sent to him, in arms and ammu

nition, and that he particularly stood in need of lead and

flints, and a couple of small field -pieces. At the same

time, he entreated that some small vessel of war might

be sent to his aid1 ; for that such were his difficulties, that,

unless speedy assistance should arrive, he feared that he

should be driven to abandon the town, and seek person

ally an asylum in British India. He then appealed to

the magnanimity of the British government, in the hope

that he and his people might not be compelled to aban

don their homes for want of timely assistance.

Such, then, was the unhappy situation of the beau

tiful little island of Johanna, as described by its own

prince, only a few months before the unexpected visit

of the Nemesis. Little change had taken place ; the

town still held out, but it does not appear that any as

sistance had been sent to it. The very sight of the

steamer gladdened the young sultan's heart, and encou

raged the people, who stood greatly in need of it ; the

1 The sultan very recently went up to Calcutta, to apply to the

Governor-general, in the hope that the Company might be induced to take

possession of the islands, which he felt he could no longer hold without

assistance. He merely asked for himself a small annual stipend out of the

revenues. What answer he may have received is not known ; but proba

bly his application was rejected, upon the ground of our territory in the

East being already quite large enough. But, in reality, the Comoro

Islands, or at least a part of them , must be viewed in a political light,

as they may be said to command the navigation of the straits, and are

generally thought to be an object aimed at by the French .


rebel chief being then at only a short distance from the

town .

Late as it was, the captain and first officer landed in

uniform , to wait upon the sultan at once, as their time

was so limited. One of his uncles and his prime-minister

received them, and accompanied them through a few

narrow streets, built in the Moorish style, to the sultan's

palace. At the entrance were stationed four half - clad

soldiers, with muskets, as a personal guard ; and, on

reaching the reception-room, the sultan was discovered

sitting on a high-backed chair, at the further end of the


apartment. He immediately rose, and advanced towards

them in a very friendly manner, welcoming them to Jo

hanna with a good, hearty shake by the hand . Two

chairs were placed on his left, for his guests ; while, on

his right, sat the governor of the town, and several other

of the principal people, all on the tiptoe of expectation

for the news from England ; the more particularly as

they were in some hope that the strange-looking “ devil

ship,” as they called her, might have brought a letter

from the English government, in answer to bis applica

tion for assistance.

They were doomed, however, to be again disappointed ;

but the sultan made many inquiries about the Queen and

Prince Albert, and whether an heir to the throne had yet

been born ; and seemed not a little curious to know if

the Thames Tunnel was finished . In short, he appeared

to be a very well-bred and courteous young man. He

alluded painfully to the distressed state of the island,

and to his being surrounded by his enemies under Ray

manytek ; and begged hard for at least aa little powder


and shot, with which to endeavour to hold out until

better assistance could reach him.

As it was already quite late, the interview did not

last long, but promises were made to renew it on the

subsequent day, and a party was arranged for an excur

sion outside the town on the following morning. Ac

cordingly, at daylight, the party were again met by the

king's uncle on the beach, who appointed three soldiers

to act both as guides and guards. These men appeared

quite pleased with the duty assigned to them, and

throughout the whole trip did every thing in their power

to amuse the party, and to point out to them the objects

best worth notice : one man went in search of shells upon

the beach, another to procure fruit, and scarcely a wish

was expressed that was not immediately gratified.

Before they ascended the higher hills in the rear of

the town, they visited the so-called Gardens, about a

mile and a half from the town , situated at the bottom

of a very rich and refreshing valley, near the sea -shore.

There were an abundance of cocoa -nut-trees, fruit-trees,

and picturesque shrubs, but little else at present that

could entitle them to be called gardens. But one im

portant observation was made, namely, that the best

water was to be obtained there, from a small, clear,

running stream, from which it could be easily taken ,

close to the beach ; and also that the best anchorage in

the bay was a little way off this spot, and not opposite

the town, as had been supposed. The vicinity of good

water gives it an additional recommendation.

Having ascended the hills on the eastern side of the

valley, they were gratified by a delightful prospect in


every direction . The valley below was rich and capable of

high cultivation, but only partially cleared of wood , and

in other parts covered with long grass and low shrubs,

varied by the numerous wild flowers which were then in

blossom . In the rear were high and thickly-wooded

mountains, picturesque in themselves, but shutting out

the view of the opposite side of the island, while, in the

other direction, the eye could trace the long line of pic

turesque coast, giving altogether a very favourable inn

pression of the character of the island, the more parti

cularly as some of the timber is very fine, and calcu

lated for repairing ships.

The town itself could only be viewed from the top of

a higher hill behind it, which was now ascended, and its

character well made out. Its little white flat-topped

houses and turreted walls, with very narrow streets,

pointed out its Moorish origin. But there was nothing

to render it otherwise striking.

The whole population appeared to be abroad , each

struggling which should gratify his curiosity the quickest,

in running down to the beach to catch a glimpse of the

strange vessel, the like of which none had ever seen

before. Boats were seen crowding round her on all

sides, and, as she lay there, decked out with all her flags,

the scene was both animated and picturesque.

On descending the hill, the party were again met by

the sultan's uncle, who invited them to breakfast with

his highness, and accompanied them , first to his own

house, where they met the sultan himself, and thence to

the palace, which was close at hand. But it was still

rather an early hour for a reception, and on entering


the palace, it was very evident that the preparations had

not yet been completed for their arrival. His highness's

ladies, the sultana and her companions, had only just

time to make their escape, leaving every thing in

disorder, and, in short, breakfast was not quite ready.

His highness was very condescending, but it was clear

that his attentions were being divided between two or

more objects at the same time, one of which was readily

guessed to be the ladies fair, who had so suddenly de

camped. But this was not the only one, and, in the

little intervals between his exits and his entrances, an

opportunity was taken to ask his uncle, who was pre

sent, what it was all about. The mystery was solved .

His highness was condescending to superintend the pre

paration of the breakfast for his guests, that it might

be worthy of them. The kitchen was on this occasion

converted into the council-chamber, and quite as weighty

matters there discussed, and certainly with equal warmth,

and probably, too, with the full “ ore rotundo ” of

hungry eloquence, as are often treated of with greater

solemnity in higher conclaves.

The result, indeed , was worthy of the cause. The

breakfast was pronounced capital, and ample justice

done, after the morning's walk, to the wisdom of his

highness's deliberations. He himself seemed quite de

lighted! ; and his uncle declared, in his absence, that the

young man's greatest pleasure was to contrive some

new means of gratifying the English who came in his

way, and that there was nothing he would not conde


scend to do for them, in his enthusiastic admiration of

the nation . A little of this might be said and done for


effect, but there has always been good reason to believe

that he was on all occasions a sincere, and, in some re

spects, useful ally.

The same day, a grand entertainment was to be given

by some relation of the sultan's, in his uncle's house, in

honour of the performance of the first Mohammedan

right upon the young infant, his son and heir, upon the

eighth day after its birth. The sultan bimself, with his

chief minister, accompanied them to see the festivities.

On this occasion, the ladies of the court were all found

to be in the apartment adjoining the reception- room,

and only separated from it by a large screen or curtain

before the door. Now, according to all the prescribed

rules of civilized life, it may reasonably be supposed

that the fair damsels, secluded as they usually were,

had just as much curiosity to see the lions of the day,

the English officers in uniform , as the latter had to

catch a glimpse of eastern beauty, the more sought the

more forbidden . Every now and then, you could see

the curtain moved gently on one side, and a young

lady's head peep out ; and then another would steal

a quiet look on the other side ; then again, by pres

sing against each other, more of them would be seen

than they intended, but quite enough to make you wish

to see more still. In the mean time his highness had

retired, or perhaps they might not have been so bold.

As the gallantry of the sons of Neptune has at all

times been famous, so in this instance it innocently got

the better of their discretion , and, with an apparently

accidental though well-premeditated charge at the cur

tain, which was most gallantly pushed on one side, a

VOL . I. L


full view of all the fair ladies was obtained, much more

to the apparent horror of the old uncle, who was a spec

tator of the achievement, than to that of the fair dam

sels themselves, who, nevertheless, quietly retreated in

some trepidation .. The ladies were all very handsomely

and gaudily dressed, it being a gala-day, but they were

not altogether the most Venus-like of beauties.

But a more curious scene was brought to view , on

being conducted to another apartment, where a large

and merry party of ladies of less distinguished rank

were amusing themselves with dancing and singing, but

certainly without much grace in the one, or melody in

the other. There was only one good-looking female

among the whole assembly, and she appeared to be the

queen of beauty, or mistress of the feast, for she was

treated with the utmost attention and deference by all

the rest.

On returning again to the presence of the sultan, re

freshments were handed round , and, as the weather was

hot, a whole train of the female servants of the house

were ushered into the room, each with a fan, or sort of

portable punka, in her hand . They were all very neatly

and cleanly dressed , and immediately set their fans

most dexterously to work , taking their stations behind

each person of the party, and fanning gently as if a host

of little zephyrs had stolen away from fairy lands, to

breathe their cooling breezes on the guests. The scene

was certainly novel, and withal amusing.

In the midst of this scene the sultan disappeared ,

followed by his uncle, and, after a few minutes' consul

tation , the attendance of Captain Hall was requested in


his highness's private apartment. Something important

was evidently about to happen, but, before there was

much time to conjecture what it might be, he found

himself alone with the sultan . His highness frankly

confessed the alarm which the strength of the chief

Raymanytek had excited in his mind, that he was even

then not far from the town, and that he himself was

determined at once to march out against the rebels, if

he could get a sufficient supply of powder and shot.

At the same time, he begged that if necessary he might

have the assistance of the steamer to protect his town.

Only one reply could be given, namely, that the visit

of the steamer was a mere casual thing, with a view to

ascertain the nature of the harbour; that the service she

was engaged on would admit of no delay ; but that, as

long as she was there, which could not be many hours

more, she should give protection to himself and his

family, as well as to the town, if in danger, and that a

small supply of ammunition should be given to him to

enable him to defend himself. He appeared quite satis

fied, and pleased with the reply. At the same time, as

the danger was imminent, and much blood might other

wise be shed, he requested that, since the orders by

which the steamer was obliged to abide would necessi

tate her immediate departure, the British flag might be

hoisted upon his citadel before she started, and receive

the proper salute, in order to intimidate the rebel chief ;

and further, that a letter might be written to the latter,

stating that the sultan of Johanna was an old ally of

Great Britain ;, and that the taking up arms against him

could no longer be permitted ; in short, that he had, there

L 2


fore, better take himself off as quickly as possible, and

return to obedience.

This was a request which demanded very serious con

sideration . It was evident that Captain Hall had no

authority whatever to interfere in the matter . And

such , consequently, would have been the only reply of

many officers, perhaps most, under the same circum

stances. But, there was now something of humanity

called into play, something of pity, and something, per

haps, of pride. It was impossible not to feel a deep in

terest in the unhappy position of the young sultan ,

more particularly as he and all his family had on so

many occasions behaved with kindness and humanity

towards Englishmen in distress. IIe had , moreover,

stated his positive wish to become not only the ally,

but even the subject of Great Britain, and that he would

rather give up the island altogether to the English , and,

if necessary, retire from it elsewhere, than see it in its

then state of misery from the incursions of Raymanytek.

There was, in fact, something in Alloué's appeal

which was altogether irresistible ; and after much re

flection, and well knowing the responsibility incurred ,

it was agreed that the British flag should be hoisted

upon the citadel, under a salute of twenty -one guns.

This was accordingly done, and, for the first time, the

flag, which so many millions look ypon with pride,

waved over the citadel and walls of Johanna. The

sultan smiled, and appeared to take far greater pride

in that unstained ensign , than in his own independent

flag, or his own precarious authority.

Great were the rejoicings of the whole people of the


town ; in fact, the day had been one of continued excite

ment to all parties. To crown the whole, a letter was

written to the rebel chief, according to the tenor of

what has been stated above, and which it was hoped

would induce Raymanytek to retire peaceably for the

present, and to defer to an opportunity less favourable

for himself, if not altogether to forego, his treasonable

designs, which had evidently been to depose the sultan,

and probably put him to death , and banish all his

family , assuming the whole authority himself in his place .

This had been a long and eventful day for the Ne

mesis, and, while we have been relating what was

passing on shore, those on board had been busy taking

in water and wood for the immediate continuance of

the voyage. One thing, however, yet remained ; the

sultan was to visit the ship, and see what to him were

wonders. He came on board in the afternoon, with

several attendants, in full Moorish dress, and, of course,

evinced the utmost astonishment at the arrangement of

the ship, the machinery, &c . To him and his followers

all was new. As they steamed round the bay, their

wonderment increased more and more at the ease and

rapidity with which she moved ; and, having partaken

of a little fruit and bread , and taken a most friendly

and, to all appearance, grateful leave of all on board,

he was landed in the ship’s boat, with his own flag flying

upon it.

On landing, he seemed quite overwhelmed with thank

fulness for the timely assistance rendered to him, and

unaffectedly sorry at parting with friends he had so

recently made. What the subsequent fate of the island


was we have as yet no means of ascertaining, commu

nication being extremely rare .

Just before parting, the young sultan gave Captain

Hall a letter under his own seal, acknowledging the

present of powder, &c. , and expressive of his thankful


ness for the assistance he had received . It was very

prettily written in the Arabic language.

On the afternoon of the 5th September, 1840, the

interesting little island of Johanna was left behind , with

many good wishes for the success of the sultan's arms,

and for the speedy restoration of peace and plenty to

his harassed subjects. It is feared , however, that these

hopes have scarcely yet been realized.



The Maldive Archipelago — Island of Feawar - Trade with India .

Arrival at Ceylon “ Mystery ” at an end — Notices of the Island

- Columbo - Fishing boats Curious contrivance Departure

Penang — Spice Productions — The “ Gem of the East”- Picturesque

Character - Projected naval depôt - Singapore- Advantageous posi

tion for commerce - Importance of free ports — Increase of trade

Chinese population - A colonizing people — Aspect of town - Depar

ture — Pedro Branco - Its dangers—Good site for Lighthouse to the

memory of Horsburgh — Monsoons- Island of Manilla - Spanish Colo

nies — Lieu -chew Islands — Basil Hall's description — Arrival of the

Nemesis at Macao — Surprise of the People — Visit to the Governor

Joins the squadron under the Honourable George Elliot at the mouth

of the Canton river.

The next place of destination towards which the

Nemesis was to shape her course was the island of

Ceylon, where at length was to be made known to her

the ultimate service upon which she was to be employed.

Owing to contrary winds and opposing currents, her

progress was, for the first few days, very slow. In

order to save fuel, on account of the distance and pro

bable length of the voyage, she proceeded principally

under canvass . But the south-westerly current was

found to be so strong as to retard her progress con

siderably ; and it was not until the 10th that she lost

sight of Comoro Island, the northernmost of the group



of that name, and, if measured in a direct line, conside

rably less than one hundred miles from Johanna.

A little to the northward of this, the south-east mon

soon began to be felt, and she proceeded more favour

ably, and crossed the Line on the morning of the 17th,

in about longitude east 54º. Horsburgh particu

larly notices the light, baffling winds, and the strong

south-west and southerly currents, which prevail during

the months of October and November among the Comoro

Islands . But it was found, upon this voyage, that these

difficulties presented themselves sometimes much earlier

than stated by him . It was now only the beginning

of September, and the southerly. current was found

setting down at the rate of even sixty miles a day. In

deed , both the winds and currents in the Mozambique

Channel had been found very different from what had

been expected . It was the season of the south-west mon

soon when she entered it in the month of August ; and

as it is usually stated that this wind continues to blow

until early in November, the Nemesis ought to have

had favourable winds to carry her quite through, even

later in the season . On the contrary, she met with a

strong head-wind, and a much stronger southerly cur

rent than she had reason to expect .

The opinion of Horsburg seems to be fully confirmed ,

that late in the season it is better for ships to avoid the

Mozambique Channel, and rather to proceed to the

eastward of Madagascar, and then pass between Diego

Garcia and the Seychelle Islands. Steamers, however,

would have less need of this were coal to be had at

Mozambique, but the Nemesis had taken in no coal


since she left the Cape of Good Hope in July ; and,

although she was fortunate enough to procure a small

supply of wood , still, from its greater bulk, she could

not carry so many days' fuel of it as she could of coal.

It was important, moreover, to reserve the coal she had

remaining, for any case of emergency that might arise,

and which could not be foreseen . On leaving Johanna

she had only twenty -five tons of coal on board, (very

little more than two days' consumption) besides a little

wood . It was, therefore, requisite to be very sparing

in its use ; and she consequently made almost no use

of her engines until four days after she crossed the

Line, and even then only for a few hours.

From the equator the current was always easterly ;

but nothing particular occurred worth noticing, except

that, as she approached the Maldive Islands, she en

countered very heavy squalls, accompanied with rain .

On the following day, the 1st October, the Maldives

were in sight ; and , in order to carry her through them

rapidly, steam was got up for a few hours, until she

came to, in the afternoon , within a quarter of a mile of

the shore, under one of the easternmost of the islands,

named Feawar, having shaped her course straight across

the middle of the long, and until lately, much dreaded

group of the Maldive Archipelago.

This extensive chain or archipelago of islands lies in

the very centre of the Indian Ocean , and , being placed

in the direct track of ships coming from the south -west

towards Ceylon, and the southern parts of Hindostan,

it was long dreaded by mariners, and shunned by them

as an almost impenetrable and certainly dangerous


barrier. It is stated by Horsburgh, that the early

traders from Europe to India were much better ac

quainted with these islands than modern navigators,

and that they were often passed through in those days

without any apprehension of danger. The knowledge

of their navigable channels must therefore have been ,

in a great measure, lost ; and, although the utmost

credit is due to the indefatigable Horsburgh for his

arduous efforts to restore some of the lost information,

it is to the liberality of the Indian government, and

particularly to the scientific labours and distinguished

services of Captain Moresby and Commander Powell, of

the Indian Navy, that we are indebted for the minute

and beautiful surveys of all these intricate channels

which have been given to the world since 1835 .

This archipelago is divided into numerous groups of

islands, called by the natives Atolls, each comprising a

considerable number of islands, some of which are inha

bited , and abound in cocoa-nut trees, while the smaller

ones are often mere barren rocks or sandy islets . The

number of these islands, large and small, amounts to

several hundred ; and the groups, or Atolls, into which

they are divided, are numerous. They are laid down

with wonderful accuracy and minuteness by Captains

Moresby and Powell ; so that, with the aid of their charts,

the intricate channels between them can be read with

almost the same facility as the type of a book . Thus

one of the greatest boons has been conferred upon

navigators of all nations. They are disposed in nearly a

meridian line from latitude 7° 6'N. to latitude 0° 40'S. ,

and consequently extend over the hottest portion of the


tropics, for the distance of more than three hundred and

seventy miles.

As the Nemesis passed through these islands, she

found that all the former difficulties had now vanished.

So accurate were the soundings, and given on so large

a scale, that it was more like reading a European road

book than guiding a vessel through an intricate laby

rinth of islands.

The very sight of aa steamer completely frightened the

inhabitants of the little island of Feawar ; who, although

they at length came alongside without much fear,

could never be persuaded to come on board the vessel .

However, they had no objection to act as guides, for the

purpose of showing what was to be seen upon their

island ; and, while a little necessary work was being

done to the vessel , two or three of the officers landed,

and were soon surrounded by a crowd of natives upon

the beach, quite unarmed.

A stroll along the shore, covered with pieces of coral ,


soon brought them to a mosque and burial-ground,

which was remarkable for the neatness with which it

was disposed. The little ornamented head-stones, with

inscriptions, and flowers in many places planted round

them, probably refreshed by the sacred water of a well

close at hand , proved, at all events, the great respect

paid to their dead, which is common among all Moham

medans. Indeed, the inhabitants of all these numerous

islands are mostly of that persuasion, and consider

themselves to be under the protection of England, the

common wish of almost all the little independent tribes

of the east.

156 CEYLON .

The village itself appeared to be at least half deserted,

the poor people, particularly the women , having hastily

run away, leaving their spinning-wheels at their doors.

They appear to carry their produce, consisting of oil,

fish, rope, mats, &c. to Ceylon and other parts of India,

in large boats of their own construction, bringing back

in return rice and English manufactured goods. In

deed, an extensive traffic is carried on between all the

northernmost of this extensive chain of islands, or sub

marine mountains, and the nearer parts of the coast of


On the same evening, the Nemesis continued her voy

age, and, on the afternoon of the 5th October, reached


the harbour of Pointe de Galle, in Ceylon. She came in

under steam, with about eight tons of coal remaining,

having been exactly one month from Johanna.

The mystery attending the Nemesis was now to end .

Scarcely had she fairly reached her moorings, when a

despatch was delivered to the captain from the govern

ment of India, containing orders from the Governor

general in council, to complete the necessary repairs,

and take in coal and provisions, with all possible expe

dition , and then to proceed to join the fleet off the mouth

of the Canton River, placing himself under the orders of

the naval Commander -in -chief.

Great was now the rejoicing of both officers and men .

Her captain had already been made acquainted with his

destination, as far as Ceylon, before leaving England, but

no one on board, until now, had any certain information

as to what particular service they were to undertake

+ afterwards. The road to distinction was now made


known to them : they were at once to be engaged in

active operations, in conjunction with her majesty's

forces. All regretted the length of time unavoidably

spent upon the voyage out, and none but wished the

intervening distance between Ceylon and China could

be passed with railroad speed .

Many were now the hopes and airy castles conjured x

up to the mind's vision ; many the speculations as to the

probable course of the dispute with China, then openly

expanding into the complicated net of war ; and not

few the wishes secretly felt, and scarce confessed, that

Chinese obstinacy might still hold out a little longer,

and the duplicity of Chinese statesmen again give neces

sity for the active interference of an armed force.

Notwithstanding, however, the unremitted exertions

of all on board, the Nemesis could not be got ready to

proceed on her voyage in less than eight clear days from

the time of her arrival at Pointe de Galle. The decks

had to be caulked throughout, there having been no

proper means for completing this very necessary process

at any earlier period ; and numerous other repairs

were required to be made before she could proceed on

her voyage. Added to this, the whole of the stores and

supplies had to be sent by land from Columbo, a dis

tance of seventy-two miles, as it was not then so well

known that all these things could be readily obtained at

Singapore, and that therefore a smaller quantity would

have sufficed . Indeed, from the more frequent commu

nication with Ceylon, through vessels touching at Pointe

de Galle for supplies, which has since taken place, every

provision has now been made at that port, without the


necessity of sending for stores to so great a distance as


Under all circumstances, no time was to be lost ; and

the anxiety to proceed on the voyage as quickly as pos

sible was so great, that Captain Hall determined to start

off for Columbo the same evening, in order to wait upon

his Excellency the Governor, and expedite the sending

on of the requisite stores. A highly-respectable mer

chant, who was going over, kindly offered him a seat in

his gig, and, after considerable exertion and fatigue,

they arrived at Columbo late on the following evening.

They had some evidence that the road was not always

perfectly safe ; for they had proceeded only a very few

miles from Ponte de Galle, when they found a wounded

man upon the road , who had just been robbed , and left

there helpless. A crowd of natives soon came round,

detailing what had happened ; but, as very little of what

they said could be understood, little attention was paid

to it. The wounded man having been carried on to a

police station, and there left, the journey was continued

till after dark .

On the following morning, the country presented itself

in all the rich tropical aspect of these regions. The

whole road to Columbo pointed out a fertile and luxu

riant country, and was in itself admirably adapted for


Once arrived at Columbo, and fairly lodged in Mr.

Gibb's hospitable mansion , all the comforts and luxu

ries of the East were at once exhibited , and recalled to

mind the early days spent in that part of the globe. The

view was lovely, vegetation luxuriant, and the famed cin


namon -trees and coffee -plants in full perfection, besides

a number of beautiful shrubs.

For my own part, the more I have seen of tropical

countries, the more I have everywhere been fascinated

by their luxuriance, and enjoyed the brilliancy of their

skies. There is much to compensate for the occasional

oppression of the heat, which , after all, is less trouble

some or injurious than the chilling blasts of northern

climes ; and, generally speaking, with proper precaution ,,

it has been hardly a question with myself whether the

average degree of health and buoyancy of spirits is not

far greater than in less favoured though more hardy

regions . Every day that passes is one in which you feel

that you really live, for everything around you lives and

thrives so beautifully . Nevertheless , it must not be for

gotten that, after a few years spent in so relaxing a

climate , the constitution becomes enfeebled, and is only

to be restored by a visit to more bracing regions .

His Excellency having been waited on, directions were

instantly given, to provide whatever was requisite with

the least possible delay ; it was only to be regretted that

the distance from Pointe de Galle was so great.

Governor Mackenzie seemed to take much interest in

the steamer, and in her probable capabilities for the

peculiar service likely to be required of her in China ;

he had evidently made the subject his study, and upon

this, as upon other questions, evinced great intelli

gence .

Little need here be said about the island of Ceylon,

which has been recently so well described and treated

of by able and well- informed writers. The fine forti


fications of Columbo (the capital of the island,) the

governor's palace, the barracks and public offices, are all

worth seeing ; indeed, it is to be regretted that arrange

ments have not yet been made, by which the steamers

from Calcutta to the Red Sea, touching at Pointe de

Galle, might allow some of their passengers, instead of

wasting the valuable time necessary for taking in fuel

at Pointe de Galle, to cross over to Columbo. The

steamers might then touch at Columbo to pick them up,

together with other passengers likely to be found there,

now that the overland route is daily becoming more fre

quented ; she could pursue her voyage with very triling

additional expense, and very great convenience to the

public. It is hoped that some arrangement of this sort

may very shortly be brought about.

The most curious sight at Columbo is the little fleet

of fishing -boats, in the shape of long, narrow canoes, each

made out of the single trunk of a tree, with upper works

rigged on to them, falling in in such a way, that there

is just sufficient room for a man's body to turn round.

They start off with the land-wind in the morning, and

run out a long distance to fish, returning again with the

sea-breeze in the afternoon . Both ends are made ex

actly alike, so that, instead of going about, they have

only to shift the large lug-sail, the mast being in the

middle, and it is quite indifferent which end of the boat

goes foremost. To counteract the natural tendency of

so narrow a body to upset, two slight long spars are run

out at the side, connected at the outer ends by a long

and stout piece of wood, tapering at either extremity,

not unlike a narrow canoe ; this acts as a lever to keep


the boat upright, and is generally rigged out upon the

windward side. If the breeze freshens, it is easy to send

a man or two out upon it, as an additional counterpoise

by their weight, and there they sit, without any appa

rent apprehension.

On the coast of Cochin China, about Cambodia, some

thing of the same description is in use ; but there the

boats are much larger, being long and well made, with

something of the latteen-rig ; and commonly four or

five men, almost naked, are to be seen sitting out, swing

ing their legs with apparent unconcern , upon a single

long spar, or pole, run out to windward, to counter

balance the depressing power of the large sail, when the

breeze is strong. It is altogether a curious and rather

interesting sight.

The healthiness of Ceylon is within the last few years

greatly improved, principally owing to the extensive

clearing of land which has taken place. The plantations

of coffee having been found at one time, as indeed they

are still, to yield a very large profit, induced a great num

ber of persons to enter into the speculation. Land was

readily purchased from government as quickly as it could

be obtained , at the rate of five shillings an acre ; and the

result has been a considerable increase in the exports of

the island, as well as an amelioration of its condition.

Coals, provisions, and stores of all kinds were sent on

board the Nemesis with the utmost expedition, and, on

the afternoon of the 14th October, she was once more

ready for sea. The public interest in the events gradu

ally growing up out of the negociations which were then

being carried on with the Chinese had gradually been

VOL . I. M


raised to a high pitch, and a passage to China, to join the

force as a volunteer, was readily provided for the gover

nor's son, Lieutenant Mackenzie. Crowds of people ga

thered upon the shore in all directions to witness her de

parture, and the discharge of a few signal-rockets as soon

as it was dark added a little additional novelty to the

event .

Ten days sufficed to carry the Nemesis to the island

of Penang, or Prince of Wales's island. Her passage

had been longer than might have been expected, owing

in a great measure to the badness of the coal, which

caked and clogged up the furnaces in such a way that,

instead of requiring to be cleaned out only once in

about twenty-four hours, as would have been the case

with good coal, it was necessary to perform this process

no less than four times within the same period ; added

to which, the enormous quantity of barnacles which

adhered to her bottom (a frequent source of annoyance

before) greatly retarded her progress.

The island of Penang, which lies close upon the coast

of the peninsula of Malacca, from which it is separated

by a channel scarcely more than two miles broad, would

seem to be a place particularly adapted for steamers to

touch at. Indeed, it has become a question of late

whether it should not be provided with a sort of govern

ment dockyard, for the repair of the increased number

of ships of war and transports, belonging both to the

service of government and the East India Company,

which will necessarily have to pass through the straits

of Malacca, now that our intercourse with China is so

rapidly increasing. The harbour is perfectly safe, the

PENANG . 163

water at all times smooth , coals can easily be stored

there, and good wood can be obtained on the spot ;

moreover, it lies directly in the track of ships, or very

little out of it, as they generally prefer passing on the

Malacca side of the straits, particularly during the south

west monsoon. The heavy squalls which prevail on the

opposite coast are so severe, that they have at length

taken its very name, and are called Sumatras. They

are accompanied with terrific lightning, which often

does great mischief, and they are justly looked upon

with great dread .

Penang is very properly considered one of the loveliest

spots in the eastern world , considering its limited ex

tent ; and, from the abundance and excellence of its spice

productions, which come to greater perfection in the

straits than in any other part in which they have been

tried (except, perhaps, in the island of Java), this little

island has proved to be an extremely valuable possession .

It abounds in picturesque scenery, heightened by the

lovely views of the opposite coast of Malacca, called

Province Wellesley, which also belongs to the East

India Company. The numerous and excellent roads,

the hospitality of the inhabitants, and the richness of

the plain, or belt, which lies between the high, wooded

mountains in the rear, and the town and harbour, are,

perhaps, unequalled. This plain, together with the

sides of some of the adjoining mountains, is covered

with luxuriant plantations of nutmegs, cocoa-nut-trees,

and spice-trees of allkinds ; and altogether Penang is one

of the most attractive, as it is also one of the healthiest

spots in the east. It has by some been even called

M 2


the “ Gem ofthe Eastern Seas;" although the smallness

of its extent diminishes its importance . There is a fort

not far from the fine, covered jetty, or landing -place, of

considerable strength ; and,, with very moderate trouble

and expense , there is little doubt that Penang could be

made aa valuable naval depôt.

During the short period the Nemesis was detained at

Penang, she was laid upon a fine, hard bank of sand,

nearly dry at low water, for the purpose of examining

the state of her hull. Here again a large collection of

barnacles was found adhering to her, as described on a

former occasion, and they were not removed without

much labour. She was then thoroughly painted , and

was soon ready to proceed on her voyage.

The short passage down the straits of Malacca, to

wards Singapore, was easily performed in three days.

But here again , notwithstanding the anxiety of all on

board to reach the scene of future operations (concern

ing which there was no longer any “ mystery " ) with

the least possible delay, some detention was inevitable.

The north-east monsoon had already fairly set in, and

as vessels proceeding up the China sea, at this season ,

would have the wind directly against them, it was neces

sary that the steamer should take in the greatest possi

ble quantity of fuel she could carry, before she could

venture to leave Singapore. On this occasion, every

spare corner that could be found was filled with coal,

and even the decks were almost covered with coal-bags.

By this means, she was enabled to carry enough fuel for

full fifteen days' consumption, or about one hundred and

seventy -five tons.


A few short remarks on Singapore may not be unin

teresting, before we proceed to describe the more stir

ring scenes which follow , and which brought so much

distinction to the Nemesis. The small island of Singa

pore, being situated just off the southern extremity of

the peninsula of Malacca, from which it is separated

only by a very narrow strait, must necessarily lie almost

directly in the track of all vessels passing up or down

the straits of Malacca, either to or from China, or any

of the intermediate places. Being easy of access to all

the numerous half- civilized tribes and nations which in

habit the islands of those seas, and within the influence

of the periodical winds or monsoons which, at certain

seasons, embolden even the Chinese, Siamese, and other

nations to venture upon the distant voyage, it is not

surprising that in the space of a few years it should

have risen to a very high degree of importance as a

commercial emporium .

The wisdom of the policy of Sir Stamford Raffles, in

establishing a free port in such an advantageous posi

tion, has been proved beyond all previous anticipation .

The perfect freedom of commercial intercourse, without

any restriction or charges of any kind, has given birth

to a yearly increasing commercial spirit among all the

surrounding nations. It is impossible to see the immense

number of curious junks and trading-vessels which arrive

from all parts during the proper season, without admi

ring the enterprising commercial spirit of all those diffe

rent tribes, and acknowledging the immense value to

England of similar distant outports, for the security and

extension of her commerce.


The intercourse with Singapore has been rapidly in

creasing every year, but especially since the commence

ment of the war in China. Of course, all our ships of

war and transports touch at so convenient a place,

where supplies of every description can easily be ob

tained, and where every attention and kindness are shown

to strangers, both by the authorities and by the resi

dent inerchants. Much credit is due to the late go

vernor, Mr. Bonham, for the intelligence and activity

which he exhibited , in every thing that could in any way

forward the objects of the expedition, and for the readi

ness with which he endeavoured to meet all the wishes

of those who were concerned in it. His hospitality and

personal attention were acknowledged by all.

In some respects, Singapore forms a good introduction

to a first visit to China. It has a very large Chinese

population (not less than 20,000), to which yearly addi

tions are made, on the arrival of the large trading junks,

in which they come down voluntarily to seek employment.

Hundreds of them arrive in the greatest destitution,

without even the means of paying the boat-hire to ena

ble them to reach the shore, until they are hired by

some masters. They are the principal mechanics and

labourers of the town, and also act as household ser

vants, while many of them are employed in the cultiva

tion of spices and of sugar, or in clearing land. There is

no kind of labour or employment which a Chinaman will

not readily undertake ; and they appear to succeed

equally well in all, with the exception of tending sheep

or cattle, which is an occupation they are little fond of.

The town has something of a Chinese aspect, from


the number of Chinamen who are employed in every

capacity ; and the fruits and vegetables are principally

cultivated and brought to market by people of that

nation . In Java, Penang, and elsewhere, they are also

to be met with in great numbers ; which is quite suffi

cient to prove (were proof wanting) how much they are

naturally disposed to become a colonizing people. There

is hardly any part of the world to which a Chinaman

would refuse to go, if led and managed by some of his

own countrymen. But, wherever they go, they carry

the vice of opium - smoking with them , and it is needless

to say that it thrives at Singapore to its fullest extent,

and that a large revenue is annually derived from the

monopoly of the sale of the drug.

The climate of Singapore is healthy, although the

soil is wet, owing to the constant rains; and the heat is,

perhaps, never excessive, although the place is situated

only about seventy miles from the equator.

It might be thought by many, that the recent opening


of the new Chinese ports, from some of which large

trading junks have annually come down to seek their

cargoes at Singapore, would prove injurious to the future

trade of the latter, since it would no longer be neces

sary for the Chinese to go abroad to seek for that which

will now be brought to them at their own doors. This

apprehension, however, seems to be little entertained on

the spot, because there can be little doubt that whatever

tends to augment the general foreign trade with China

must benefit Singapore, which lies on the high - road to

it, to a greater or less extent. Singapore has nothing

to fear as regards its future commercial prosperity,


which is likely rather to increase than to diminish, in

consequence of the general increase of trade with China

and the neighbouring islands.

Enough has now been said concerning this interesting

commercial settlement, which in a few years has become

so famous in all parts of the world ; and we must now

again rejoin the Nemesis, as she fires her parting salute,

and then stands away boldly towards that remarkable

country in which her course of honour and distinction

is now to be run.

On the 4th of November she resumed her voyage,

and passed the little rocky island of Pedro Branco

early on the following morning. This dangerous and

sometimes half- covered rock lies nearly in the direct

track for vessels proceeding up the China Sea ; and on

its southern side are two dangerous ledges or reefs, run

ning out from it to the distance of more than a mile,

which, at high water, can scarcely be traced above the

surface. On the opposite or northern side there is deep

water in not less than sixteen or seventeen fathoms,

close in to the rock ; and, moreover, the tides in its

neighbourhood are very irregular, not only in point of

time, but also in direction and velocity. Nor are these

the only dangers to be met with in this locality. Hence

it will readily appear that a lighthouse placed upon Pe

dro Branco would be of essential utility to all navigators

who have occasion to pass up or down the China Sea.

A ship leaving Singapore for Hong Kong, for instance,

might then start at such an hour in the evening as would

enable her to make the light on Pedro Branco before

morning ; by which means, her true position being ascer


tained, she might stand on without fear of any danger.

The expense of erecting the lighthouse would not be

great, as the elevation would only be moderate, and the

expense of maintaining it might be defrayed by levying

a small light-duty at Singapore upon all vessels passing

up or down the China Sea.

It has been often suggested that this would be aa most

advantageous site for the proposed monument to the

memory of the distinguished Horsburgh, to whom too

much honour cannot be paid for his inestimable works,

so much relied on by all navigators who frequent the

Eastern seas . It would be difficult to find a more ad

vantageous or appropriate position, for the best of all

monuments to his fame, than this little, dangerous island

of Pedro Branco, situated as it is in the very centre of

some of his most valued researches ; while the recent

opening of the new ports in China, and the possession of

Hong Kong, give an increased importance to subjects

connected with the navigation of those seas. There is

not a single vessel, either British or foreign, which tra

verses those regions, which is not indebted to Hors

burgh for the instructions which render her voyage se

cure ; and a lighthouse upon Pedro Branco would do

no less service to navigators than it would honour to

the memory of Horsburgh.

The Nemesis had now passed this rocky little island ,

and at once found the full strength of the north -east

monsoon blowing steadily against her, so that 66“ full

steam ” was necessary to enable her to proceed. On the

afternoon of the 16th, the high land of the Spanish

possessions of Luconia (better known by the name of


the capital town, Manilla) came in sight ; and, on the

following morning, the Nemesis passed very near the

port, but without venturing to enter it, on account of

the delay which it would cause, although fuel was

already much wanted .

An immense pile of wood was descried, laid up on

the beach , near a village on the coast ; and a boat was

sent in, to endeavour to purchase it, but without suc

cess, as the Spaniards could not be persuaded to make

any other answer than a sulky refusal.

The appearance of the island was very striking.

Bold, picturesque mountains, fine woods, with here and

there a few sugar-plantations extending along the val

leys, and rich, green , cocoa-nut groves, to vary the

prospect — all these combined, or alternating with each

other, made the aspect of the island very attractive..

Unfortunately, no time could be spared to visit the

interior of the country, as the voyage had already been

much protracted, and the north-east monsoon was blow

ing directly against the vessel. Her progress was there

fore slow, and the want of fuel began to be much

felt .

On the 24th, the Lieu-chew islands came in sight,

and recalled many interesting recollections to Captain

Hall's mind, who had visited them, in early life, under

the command of Captain Basil Hall, whose description

of its inhabitants excited the greatest interest among

f the curious, and was almost disbelieved by the wonder

loving fireside traveller.

At daylight on the following morning, the 25th No

vember, the Nemesis steamed through the Typa an


chorage, which lies opposite Macao, and ran close in to

the town, where the water is so shallow that none but

trading -boats can venture so far. The sudden appear

ance of so large and mysterious-looking a vessel natu

rally excited the greatest astonishment among all classes,

both of the Portuguese and Chinese residents. The sa

luting of the Portuguese flag, as she passed, sufficed to

announce that something unusual had happened ; and

crowds of people came down to the Praya Grande, or

Esplanade, to look at the first iron steamer which had

ever anchored in their quiet little bay. Her very light

draught of water seemed to them quite incompatible

with her size ; and even the Portuguese governor was so

much taken by surprise, that he sent off a messenger

expressly to the vessel, to warn her captain of the sup

posed danger which he ran by venturing so close in

shore. It is probable, however, that his Excellency was

not quite satisfied with the near approach of an armed

steamer, within short range of his own palace; and,

moreover, the firing of a salute, almost close under his

windows, had speedily frightened away the fair ladies

who had been observed crowding at all the windows

with eager curiosity.

As soon as the first excitement had passed, Captain

Hall waited upon the governor, to assure him that he

had come with the most peaceable intentions, and to

thank his Excellency for the friendly warning he had

given, with respect to the safety of the vessel. At the

same time, he begged to inform his Excellency, that he

was already thoroughly acquainted with the harbour

and anchorage of Macao, from early recollection of all


those localities ; as he had served as midshipman on

board the Lyra, during Lord Amherst's embassy to

China, in 1816 .

It was now ascertained that the English admiral, the

Honourable George Elliot, was at anchor with his

fleet in Tongkoo roads, below the Bogue forts ; and, ac

cordingly, the Nemesis proceeded to join the squadron,

after the delay of only a few hours. Her arrival was

announced by the salute to the admiral's flag, which

was immediately returned by the Wellesley, precisely

as if the Nemesis had been a regular man-of-war.

The Nemesis now found herself in company with the

three line -of-battle ships, Wellesley, Melville, and Blen

heim, together with H. M. S. Druid, Herald , Modeste,

Hyacinth, and the Jupiter troop-ship. Thus, then, after


all her toil and hardships, the gallant Nemesis had at

length reached the proud post towards which she had

so long been struggling. It was highly gratifying to

learn that she had still arrived soon enough to be able

to take part in the expected brilliant operations ; and

the admiral and many of his officers expressed their

sense of the perfect adaptation of her construction and

armament to all the purposes likely to be required of

her ; and her arrival just at that time was hailed with

peculiar pleasure. Her voyage from England had in

deed been a long one ; very nearly eight months having

elapsed since she bade adieu to Portsmouth. But her

trials had been many during that period. She had

started in the worst season of the year ; and had en

countered, throughout nearly the whole voyage, unusual

weather and unforeseen difficulties. She had happily


survived them all ; and the efforts which had been al

ready made to enable her to earn for herself a name

gave happy promise of her future destiny.

The excitement on board was general, now that she

at length found her iron frame swinging, side by side,

with the famed “ wooden walls” of England's glory ;

and the prospect of immediate service, in active opera

tions against the enemy, stimulated the exertions of

every individual. For some days, however, she was

compelled to content herself with the unwelcome opera

tion of " coaling" in Tongkoo Bay. In the mean time,

the ships of war had sailed, leaving her to follow them

as soon as she could be got ready ; and now, while this

black and tedious process is going on, we cannot be

better employed than in taking a short survey of the

events which had immediately preceded her arrival, and

of the more important occurrences which led to such

momentous consequences.



General review of events which preceded the arrival of the Nemesis –

Origin of our difficulties — Lord Napier - Captain Elliot — 1838 –

Execution of criminals — Chinese mob -Foreigners unprotected— No

tices by Captain Elliot against the opium trade — Remarks thereon -

Resources of China - Political crisis at Pekin — Movement - Party in


China — Led by the Empress — Her ability, attractions, and power

. -

Her fall, and death - Revival of old prejudices — Hatred of foreigners

called “ Patriotism" . -Stringent measures against opium-Lectures of

the Emperor — Death of the Emperor's son — Official smugglers - -

Opium -mania -- Revulsion of feeling against it — Persecutions The

traffic still thrives — Mode of smuggling — Arrival of Commissioner

Lin at Canton His character — Contrasted with that of Keshen and

Elliot — Governor Tang — His character—His son a smuggler - Suspi

cions of Lin .

The abolition of the privileges of the East India

Company in China, and the difficulties which soon re

sulted therefrom , concerning the mode of conducting

our negociations with the Chinese for the future, will

be remembered by most readers ; and, whatever part

the questions arising out of the trade in opium may

have afterwards borne in the complication of difficul

ties, there is little doubt that the first germ of them all

was developed at the moment when the general trade

with China became free. This freedom of trade, too,

was forced upon the government and the company in a

great degree by the competition of the American inte


rests;; and by the fact that British trade came to be

carried on partly under the American flag, and through

American agency, because it was prevented from being

brought into fair competition in the market, under the

free protection of its own flag.

The unhappy death of the lamented Lord Napier,

principally occasioned by the ill treatment of the Chi

nese, and the mental vexation of having been compelled

to submit to the daily insults of the Chinese authorities,

in his attempts to carry out the orders of his govern

ment, will be remembered with deep regret. With the

nature of those orders we have here nothing to do. No

one can question Lord Napier's talent, energy, and de

votedness to the object of his mission.

The attempts of Captain Elliot, when he afterwards

took upon himself the duties of chief superintendent, to

carry out the same instructions, were scarcely less un

fortunate. And , finding, as he publicly stated , that

“the governor had declined to accede to the conditions

involved in the instructions which he had received

from her majesty's government, concerning the manner


of his intercourse with his Excellency,” the British flag

was struck at the factories at Canton, on the 2nd of

December, 1837, and her majesty's principal superin

tendent retired to Macao .

During the year 1838, very serious and determined

measures began to be adopted by the Chinese authori

ties, directed generally against the trade in opium ; and

imperial edicts threatened death as the punishment, for

both the dealers in and the smokers of the drug. Se

veral unfortunate Chinese were executed in consequence .


Attempts were now made to execute the criminals in

front of the foreign factories along the river side, con

trary to all former usage and public right. A remon

strance followed, addressed to the governor, who, in

reply, gave them a sort of moral lecture, instead of a

political lesson, and then condescendingly admitted,

that “ foreigners, though born and brought up be

yond the pale of civilization, must yet have human


Nevertheless, in the following December, 1838, the

insulting attempt was again repeated, close under the

American flag -staff, which was not then placed, as it

has since been, in an enclosure, surrounded with a brick

wall, and high paling. The flag was immediately hauled

down by the consul, in consequence of the preparations

which were going on, for the erection of the cross upon

which the criminal was to be strangled .

At first, a few foreigners interfered, and without vio

lence induced the officers to desist from their proceed

ings. But gradually the crowd increased, and, a Chinese

mob, when excited, is fully as unruly as an English

one ; and thus each imprudent act, as usual, led to ano

ther. No Chinese authorities were at hand to control

the disturbance ; stones began to fly in all directions ;

and the foreigners, who by this time had come forward

to the aid of their brethren, were at length, through the

increasing numbers of the mob, fairly driven to take re

fuge in the neighbouring factories. Here they were

obliged to barricade the doors and windows, many of

which were, nevertheless, destroyed, and the buildings

endangered, before a sufficient force of Chinese soldiers


had arrived to disperse the mob. In the evening, how

ever, quiet was perfectly restored.

In the mean time, the alarm had spread to Whampoa,

whence Captain Elliot set out, accompanied by about

one hundred and twenty armed men, for Canton, and

arrived at the British factory late in the evening. Both

parties were now clearly placed in a false position, yet one

which it would have been very difficult to have avoided .

During many preceding months, the unfortunate Hong

merchants had been in constant collision with their own

government, on the one hand, and with the foreign mer

chants, on the other. There was scarcely any species of

indignity to which they were not exposed, and they

were even threatened with death itself. The Chinese

government had daily become more overbearing towards

all foreigners ; and its habitual cold and haughty tone

had grown into undisguised contempt and unqualified

contumely. Their treatment of Lord Napier had been

considered on their part as a victory ; and their suc

cessful repulse of all Captain Elliot's advances was

viewed by them as an evidence of their own power, and

of Great Britain's weakness .

It has been already stated in the first chapter, that

Sir Frederick Maitland, who had a short time previ

ously paid a visit to China in a line of battle ship, had

left those seas altogether just before the collision took

place ; and, in proportion as the foreigners were left

unprotected, so did the Chinese become more over


At the same time, it cannot be denied that their de

termination to put a stop, as far as possible, to the

VOL . I. N


opium-trade was for the time sincere ; though their

measures might have been hasty and unwarrantable. A

few days after the preceding disturbance, Captain Elliot

distinctly ordered that “ all British owned schooners,

or other vessels, habitually or occasionally engaged in

the illicit opium traffic within the Bocca Tigris, should

remove before the expiration of three days, and not

again return within the Bocca Tigris, being so en


gaged . ” And they were at the same time distinctly

warned, that, if “ any British subjects were feloniously

to cause the death of any Chinaman, in consequence of

persisting in the trade within the Bocca Tigris, he

would be liable to capital punishment ; that no owners

of such vessels so engaged would receive any assistance

or interposition from the British government, in case

the Chinese government should seize any of them ; and

that all British subjects employed in these vessels would

be held responsible for any consequences which might

arise from forcible resistance offered to the Chinese go

vernment, in the same manner as if such resistance

were offered to their own or any other government, in

their own or in any foreign country.”

So far Captain Elliot evinced considerable energy

and determination ; but he, probably, had scarcely

foreseen that the shrewd and wily government of China

would very soon put the question to him , “ if you can

order the discontinuance of the traffic within the Bocca

Tigris, why can you not also put an end to it in the

outer waters beyond the Bogue ?”

As it seems scarcely possible to avoid all direct

allusion to the difficult question of the traffic in opium ,


I shall take this opportunity of saying a very few

words upon this important subject. A detailed ac

count of its remarkable history, and of the vicissitudes

which attended it, both within and without the Chinese

empire, would afford matter of the greatest interest, but

could hardly find a place in this work.

In former times, as is well known , opium was ad

mitted into China as a drug, upon payment of duty. It

was brought there in very small quantities by the East

India Company ; and even the prohibition which was

ultimately laid upon it was regarded by the Chinese

themselves as a mere dead letter. Indeed , precisely in

proportion to the difficulty of obtaining the drug did

the longing for it increase.

The great events which sprung out of this appetite

of a whole nation for “ forbidden fruit,” on the one hand,

and of the temptations held out to foreigners to furnish

it to them, on the other, may be considered as one of

those momentous crises in a nation's history, which

seem almost pre-ordained, as stages or epochs to mark

the world's progress . Hence, therefore, the opium

question must of necessity be viewed as much in a poli

tical as in a moral light; and, when we look impartially

into the history of recent occurrences in China, we

cannot doubt that “ Opium ” was frequently made a

handle of by the authorities, in order to justify many

of their questionable acts in relation to foreigners.

No wonder that China, resting haughtily upon the

pedestal of her antiquity, and far excelling all surround

ing nations in civilization and well-ordered government, >

should have becomeproud and inaccessible ! Honoured

N 2


as she was by many, courted by some, and, at the same

time, ignorant of all except her own people, it was

natural that she should appear to despise their ad

vances, when she professed to dread their contamination.

Her resources are immense, and would be even greater

than she herself believed, or foreigners had dreamt of,

had she but the power to guide, or the will to be guided,

in the proper direction for their development. Her

fear of retrograding from the middle point to which

she had attained led her to dread every attempt to

advance, and thus she became feeble in the midst of

strength, and really powerless when professing invin


The very fact of our having appointed Lord Napier,

a man of greater rank and influence than had ever be

fore been sent there as superintendent of trade, was

flattering to their vanity. And it is curious enough

that, at the very time when a mercantile crisis was

growing up at Canton, a political intrigue, or, as it

might be called, a cabinet crisis, was breaking out at

Pekin. In fact, strange as it may appear, it is believed

in China, upon tolerably good authority, that there

was actually a reform party struggling to show its head

at Pekin, and that the question of more extended inter

course with foreigners was quite as warmly discussed as

that of the prohibition of the import of opium or of the

export of silver.

Memorials were presented to the emperor on both

sides of the question ; and his Majesty Taouk -wang, being

old and personally of feeble character, halted for a time


“ between two opinions, " alternately yielding both to .


the one and to the other, until he at length settled

down into his old bigotry against change, and felt all

the native prejudices of a true son of Han revive more

strongly than ever within his bosom.

The hesitation which was at first shown by the Eng

lish encouraged those who still doubted ; and the first

success of the schemes of the Chinese, upon finding the

foreign community so little protected, emboldened

even the timid . Their arrogance grew more daring

with their success ; and the governor of Canton sought

to gain favour at court by his sudden endeavours “ to

control the foreigners,” and tried to raise his own for

tunes by upholding the inaccessible dignity of the great

Celestial Empire .

But the question of the Opium-trade, or Opium laws,

which, for some time, had been really a party matter,

like the corn-laws in our own country, became at length

a question of interest and importance to the whole

nation , and was magnified in its relations by the very

discussion of the points which it involved .

It is said that the head of the reform party (if it can

so be called) in China was a Tartar lady, belonging to

the emperor's court, remarkable for her abilities no less

than her personal attractions, and possessed of certain

very strong points of character, which made her as much

feared by some as she was loved by others. She was

soon raised even to the throne itself, as the emperor's

wife, but lived only a few years to enjoy her power.

Her influence soon came to be felt throughout the whole

of that vast empire ; it was the means of rewarding talent,

and of detecting inability. She seemed to possess,


in a marked degree, that intuitive discernment which

sometimes bursts upon the female mind as if by in

spiration. She was blessed with a tone and energy of

character in advance of her age and of her country. She

had many grateful friends, but she had raised up for

herself many bitter enemies; party feeling ran high,

and became at length too powerful even for an Empress.

Gradually her influence diminished, the favour of the

emperor declined , her opponents again got the upper

hand, and at length she pined away under the effects of

disappointment and perhaps injustice, and died. But

her influence, so long as it lasted, was unbounded, and

was felt through every province.

Her principal adherents and dependants naturally lost

their power when that of their mistress was gone. The

question of more extended trade with foreigners was

now again set aside ; the old feelings of bigotry and

national pride resumed even more than their former

vigour. Opium at once became the instrument, but

ostensibly PATRIOTISM became the groundwork, of their

measures . The old national feeling against foreigners

throughout the empire was revived ; and, in the midst

of it all, as if ordained to hasten on the momentous

crisis which waited for its fulfilment, the son of the

emperor himself died in his very palace,from the effects

of the excessive use of opium .

Even before this unfortunate event, strong measures

had begun to be adopted in some parts of the empire

against the preparers and smokers of the drug. As is

usually the case when one party has become victorious

over another after a severe struggle, the course which


they advocate is followed up with even more than their

former vigour. When once the advocates of a severe

compulsion for stopping the use of opium, and with it

the export of silver, had gained the upper hand in the

cabinet, measures of a very stringent kind were imme

diately adopted , as if with the full determination of

giving them a fair trial.

The evil had certainly reached a very high pitch ;

and, from having been formerly confined to the wealthier

and more indolent classes, it spread its deadly grasp

among the lower grades, so that even the lowest at

length came to be confirmed debauchees. Not that their

fair earnings could generally enable them to procure

enough of so costly an article, but because they were

led to deprive themselves and their families of other

comforts, and even necessaries, in order to obtain the

means of gratifying their irresistible longing for the

poison. Not unfrequently was even crime itself commit

ted in order to obtain the means ; and the opium - shops,

particularly in the maritime towns and villages, became

the last resort of all the thieves, vagabonds, gamblers,

and bad characters throughout the district.

The demand for opium, and consequently its price,

increased remarkably, and the numerous statements

which have been published under this head have not

been by any means exaggerated. It penetrated the most

secret haunts, in proportion as the danger of using it more

publicly increased ; and, the more numerous were the

edicts which were issued against it, the greater did the

craving for the forbidden luxury, amounting almost to

a national MANIA , go on increasing day by day. The


MORAL LECTURES of the emperor, which appeared in the

Pekin Gazette, were very pretty to read, but very futile

in their effects. And if the great despotic Ruler

over hundreds of millions of people, whose very word

was law, still found himself totally unable to exclude

the drug (even under the severest prohibitions) from his

own palace, is it to be wondered at that all his strongest

measures should have totally failed in withdrawing the

mass of the nation from the temptation ?

The enormous profits derived from the clandestine

sale of opium induced many of the Chinese to embark

in it as a speculation, who neither used it themselves,

nor were habituated to any other commercial traffic.

Official men both smoked and sold it ; hundreds of people

gained a livelihood by the manufacture or sale of opium

pipes, and other apparatus connected with its use ; and

even the armed soldier often carried an opium-pipe in

his girdle, with the same unconcern as he did the fan

case which is very commonly a part of his costume.

All this was going on throughout a great portion of

the empire, during the time that the question of its

legalization or of its sterner prohibition was being so

warmly debated at court, and discussed throughout the

country. But the general impression was, that the

importation of the drug would be legalized , and there

was little apprehension of the violent persecution which

soon commenced.

It may here be fairly urged, nor can it indeed be de

nied, that the government of Pekin had a perfect right

to make strong representations and remonstrances to the

government of any other country whose subjects might


be engaged in acting contrary to the promulgated edicts

of the emperor ; but, on the other hand ,the government

of that other country (whichever it might chance to have

been) would also have an equal right to reply, “ If you

have not the means or want the disposition to prevent

your own high officers and paid servants from both en

gaging in the very acts of which you complain, and

from even encouraging the infraction of your laws by

foreigners, how can you expect that We can prevent our

distant traders from supplying them , either privately or

publicly, with that for which they are ready to pay so

high a price ? " On the contrary , instead of the foreigners

imposing it upon them as a condition of trade, it was the

Chinese themselves who begged and prayed that it might

be supplied to them ; who sought out the opium-selling ves

sels at long distances, and were even then only permitted

to receive it by paying hard cash for it. So determined

were the Chinese to possess it at any cost, that they fre

quently were willing to purchase it for its own weight

in silver, balanced fairly the one against the other in the

scales. Boats belonging to the Custom House engaged

in the traffic. The governor of Canton himself, Tang

by name, was known to have employed his own boat to

fetch it ; and so publicly and undisguisedly was the traffic

carried on, that a stipulated sum was paid to the officers

for every chest landed, precisely as if it had been a bale

of cotton or a box of glass.

It cannot be doubted, however, that, after the death

of the emperor's Son, public attention throughout the

empire became more strongly than ever directed to the

increasing evils of the use and abuse of opium. Many

186 A CRISIS .

instances of its pernicious effects now rose to the re

collection of individuals who would otherwise have

scarcely dwelt upon them. The agitation of the ques

tion had indeed led to party feeling upon the subject ;

but still, among many pretenders, some really honest

men appeared, who claimed and tried to earn for them


selves the character of “ patriots.” The thunders of

the emperor against foreigners began to take effect, and

the violent prejudice and ignorant presumption of nu

merous excited spirits assumed a higher and more

stirring name, of which, however, it was scarcely wor

thy. Measures of a severer kind now began to be

adopted, and the reaction throughout the empire was

almost universal, because the shock had not been ex

pected ; it came upon them like an earthquake.

Yet the justice of it appeared evident to many, for

the evils had been concealed from none. It seemed as

if all on a sudden the highroad to official favour and

distinction could be found solely through the degree of

energy shewn in ferreting out the lowest opium -smokers,

and in publicly giving up the very pipes which were

used ; indeed , it has been said that this enthusiasm was

carried so far, that pipes were actually purchased for the

purpose of giving them up to the officers, as if it indi

cated a voluntary surrender of a vicious habit. These

were all displayed as emblems of victory, and the most

zealous were the best rewarded , while the government

itself became astonished at its own apparent success.

It now thought itself irresistible, and despised the

foreigners more than ever.

A grand crisis was produced by these proceedings in


the interior of the country. All traffic of an extensive

kind became nearly stopped ; the prisons were filled

with delinquents ; and a great parade was made of the

“ stern severity ” of the government, on the one hand ,,

and of the obedient submission of the people, on the

other. Yet, in spite of all this public display, that

traffic itself was in reality as flourishing as ever, although

perhaps it might have changed hands. Opium was more

eagerly sought after than before ; the price of it rose in

proportion ; and, precisely as had been predicted by the

free trade or reform party in Pekin , it was found im

possible to prevent its introduction into the country by

the people themselves, even by the threat of death itself.

Fishermen carried with them a single ball, and made a

large profit by its sale ; women pretended to be drop


sical or “ interesting ” in their situation, and carried it

in their clothes ; the temptations and the profits were

so large and irresistible, that hundreds of modes were

discovered for conveying it from place to place, in spite

of the penalties which awaited detection. The behead

ing of a few men , and the imprisonment of others, did

not deter the mass ; the delicious intoxication of the

precious drug proved far too attractive to be controlled

by the horrors of death or torture.

The truth is, however specious the edicts and writings

of the Chinese may appear on paper, they are perfectly

futile in reality, when the will of the people and the

absence of any early prejudice is opposed to their accom


Without further pursuing a subject which, though

deeply interesting, has been already so much a matter


of discussion, we may at once come to the conclusion,

that the passion of the Chinese for the pernicious intox

ication of opium, was the first link in the chain which

was destined to connect them at some future day with

all the other families of Mankind. The abolition of the

privileges of the East India Company first opened the

door for the general trade of all foreign nations upon an

extended scale ; but the trade in opium, which the Chi

nese were determined to carry on, in spite of all oppo

sition of their own government, and with a full know

ledge of the pernicious consequences which resulted

from it, was apparently the ordained instrument by

means of which the haughty tone and the inapproach

able reserve of their government were to be at length

overcome .

It has been already stated , that the national hatred

of all foreigners was encouraged by the outcry against

opium ; and yet it was the national mania for the use

of this tempting poison which brought them more than

ever into contact with the foreigners. IIenceforth, the

Chinese must belong to the great family of civilized

man, and extend her intercourse with all nations. One

would almost think that Cicero had the Chinese in view


when he said , Qui autem dicunt civium rationem

habendam, externorum negant, hi dirimunt communem

humani generis societatem, quâ sublatâ, beneficentia,

liberalitas, bonitas, justitia funditus tollitur.”-Cic. de

Repub., lib. iii.

We now come to the period of the famous Commis

sioner Lin's appointment to Canton. This was indeed

the climax of all the perplexities. Lin himself was the


Robespierre, the Terrorist, the reckless despot, who

represented aa certain party in the empire, who consci

entiously believed that they could terrify not only their

own countrymen , but even foreign nations as well, into

patient submission to their will and subjection to their


It would be presumption to attempt to discuss the

character of Lin , in the manner in which it deserves to

be handled, because he was a man of so extraordinary a

stamp that, without having personally seen and watched

him, it would be impossible to estimate him by the ordi

nary rules of intelligence. But his acts suffice to draw

the outline of his character, quite as much as the latter

would have enabled you to predict his acts. He seems

to have been composed of good and bad qualities in

equal proportions, but always of a violent kind. He

was a man who, in any other country than China, would

have been either distinguished as a Demagogue or branded

as a Tyrant, precisely as circumstances chanced to lead

him into a particular channel. He was reckless of con

sequences, so long as he could carry out his will without

control. He was violent, yet not selfish ; changeable,

yet always clinging to his original views ; severe, and

even cruel and inexcusable, in the measures by which he

sought to gain his ends ; yet, in reality, he is believed

to have meant well for his country, and to have had the

interests and the wishes of the Emperor, his Master,

always at heart. He certainly believed that he could

control both the people under his own government,

and the foreigners who came into contact with them , by

force ; and his very errors seem to have arisen from ex


cess of zeal in the cause which he adopted. His talent

was unquestionable.

In alluding, hereafter, to his successor, Keshen , I

shall have occasion to contrast them together ; yet, how

ever great may have been the difference of character

between Lin and Keshen , it was quite insignificant in

comparison to that between Lin and Captain Elliot. It

seemed scarcely possible to bring two men together

more thoroughly dissimilar in their character or mode

of proceeding. Lin appeared to look down upon Elliot,

not only as a foreigner, but as an individual; and the

name of EngliSHMAN, as representing one of a Nation,

was far more formidable to him than that of Elliot as

representing a Government.

Lin became intoxicated with his own success ( for the

time, at all events) in whatever he undertook ; and ex

pected all his orders to be executed with the same

energy and facility with which he gave them utterance.

It is said, moreover, that he procured a copy of a

remarkable work called a “ Digest of Foreign Customs,

Practices, Manners," & c. in which bad deeds rather

than good ones, and even the names of individual mer

chants, were brought forward1 ; and that he studied this

book with constant pleasure .

On the 10th of March, 1839, this redoubtable com

missioner reached Canton , having travelled with extra

ordinary speed from Pekin, whither he had been called

to receive his appointment at the hands of the emperor

himself, who is said to have even shed tears, as he

parted with him .

He lost not a moment, upon his arrival at Canton, in


setting all the powerful energies of his mind to work , to

devise means of accomplishing his ends . He determined

to endeavour to put a complete stop to the traffic in

opium, both on the part of his own people and on that

of foreigners ; and his great aim was to “ control, curb,

and humble,” the foreign community generally.

From this time forth it became very evident that

great and complicated events must be looked for upon

the political horizon . Even Captain Elliot himself

could hardly hope that his little star of diplomacy could

light the road to a solution of the difficulties, without an

ultimate resort to arms .

It is true that, for a brief interval previous to Lin's

arrival, the prospect seemed to brighten considerably.

Captain Elliot had partially succeeded in establishing

direct official intercourse with the governor of Canton ;

for it had been at length agreed that all sealed commu

nications coming from the chief Superintendent should

be delivered into the hands of the Governor, and the seal

broken by him only. This was a great point gained ; and

Elliot seems to have managed it with considerable tact.

Nevertheless, the correspondence could not be said even

now to be carried on upon terms of " perfect equality ; "

and even this concession was quite as much aa matter of

necessity to the Governor as it was to Captain Elliot ;

for the cessation of intercourse had been a source of

equal embarrassment to them both.

The Governor, Tang, in immediate anticipation of

Lin's arrival, now took upon himself to read aa lecture to

foreigners upon their “ dullness and stupidity;" told

them how grateful they ought to be for “ past favours,"


and expatiated in true Chinese style “ upon the ex

tremely tender compassion with which they were che

rished by the Great Emperor.” But then he trium

phantly added that “ China had no need of them, nor

of their trade, and had very little concern about them ;

yet, at the same time, it could not bear to refuse them

the tea and rhubarb of the central land, upon which

their very lives depended . ” And then he significantly

concluded by warning them “ that, as ' stern severity '

was now the order of the day, by sea and by land, he

intended to shut up the Port, and stop the foreign trade

for ever !"

All this sounded very energetic, and was put forth

merely to prepare the way for the new Commissioner,,

and in order to have something to show him on his

arrival . This Governor Tang was essentially a crafty,

cringing, self- interested man ; he derived immense

sums from opium, and his own son was said to be em

ployed in the clandestine traffic, against which the father

was uttering severe denunciations, followed by severer


Thus, while some thought Tang to be a model of good,

others knew him to be a rogue ; at the same time, he

always contrived to enrich himself. Lin afterwards

suspected , and perhaps even discovered his delinquen

cies ; and Tang became a willing and submissive instru

ment, if not a cringing sycophant. But his day of

punishment came at last.



Trade in opium almost stopped before Lin's arrival - Lin is said to be the

people's friend — And the foreigner's enemy-His energy Demands

what arms the foreigners possess at Canton — Threatens to set the

" mob " upon them — Calls for the surrender of the opium , both in the

inner and outer waters – Offers a bond for signature — Prohibition to

leave Canton or Whampoa -- His impatience - — Emperor's orders - -

Concession of one demand produces another— Threats — No English

vessel of war to protect the English — Insult at the “ Bogue” - Elliot

demands passports for the English - Is a prisoner at Canton -- Lin's

triumph — Expected arrival of American ships of war — Provisions re

fused to foreigners - Demand for opium received - Bond signed by the

foreign community - Opium to be delivered up, under conditions

Lin surprised at his own success ~ Breaks his own agreement - Sixteen

gentlemen detained — Destruction of the opium at the Bogue — Captain

Elliot sends intelligence to Calcutta and Bombay - Captain Elliot


prohibits trade — Lin's irritation — Loses his revenue from it — Wishes

the English to trade, in spite of the order — Drives the English out of

Macao — And threatens to poison them at Hong Kong— Unable to


control his own people — Arrival of the Volage - Notice of blockade

Chinese yield --Hyacinth and Volage attacked by Chinese war-junks

- Occurrences at Macao - Captain Smith’s proceedings — Lin's sham

fight at the Bogue Arrival of Rear -Admiral Honourable George

Elliot, with reinforcements.

It is worthy of notice that, just previous to the

arrival of Commissioner Lin at Canton, the opium-trade

had received such a check, that it might be said to have

been for the time almost entirely suspended. We have

VOL . I. o


seen the strong measures taken by Captain Elliot

against it, which proved that he looked upon it with no

favouring eye ; and, in short, at that time the opium

vessels had left the river altogether. But Lin was not

a man to do things by halves : he had come down , pant

ing with haste, to commence active operations of some

kind or other. Nor can it be said that he ever sought to

enrich himself by gain . He had formerly, when go

vernor of a province, earned the character of the People's

Friend ; and he seemed now more determined still to

win the appellation of the Foreigner's Enemy. He had

belonged to the party opposed to the Empress's influence,

and, had she survived and continued in power, he would

never have been sent on so dangerous a mission. But,

when once the liberal party, and the advocates for the

legalization of the opium -trade, upon the grounds of the

impossibility of excluding it by prohibition, had been

defeated , it became almost a point of honour, certainly

of pride with Lin, to show how successfully he could

carry out the views of the high Chinese, or exclusive


From the very moment of Lin's arrival , clothed with

unlimited power, his restless energy

energy ,, and his quick pene

trating eye, made every officer of his government cower

down before him . Indeed , there was hardly an officer

of the province, from the governor downwards, who did

not feel conscious of guilt, corruption, and peculation .

From high to low, from rich to poor, Lin determined

that a reign of terror should commence. He had lists

prepared, containing observations upon the characters

of all the public officers, of the Hong merchants, and


even of the foreigners. He seemed determined to wage

war with every body. And, as a proof that his inten

tions against the foreign community were any thing but

conciliatory, within a few days after his arrival he sent

round the Hong merchants to the different factories, to

ascertain, by intrigue and persuasion , what weapons the

foreigners were in possession of, and what means they

had at hand for their own immediate defence .

It is scarcely to be credited, that people should have

been so blind to Lin's views, or to their own safety, as

to render an account which he had no right to demand,

and no power to exact . Some few of the foreign mer

chants refused to give any information upon the sub

ject ; but, as the majority of them did so, of course it

was regarded by Lin as an act of “ dutiful submission ,”

and with it his courage rose in proportion. A procla

mation was directly afterwards issued , telling them that,

“ if they did not at once reform and repent, he would

not only sweep them away with the imperial troops,

but would arouse the common people of the land, the

very mob, to annihilate them altogether.'

Perhaps he little knew the dangerous position in

which the government of any country places itself, when ,

in a sort of pet of the moment, it rouses the mad pas

sions of aa mob. At Canton, at the present moment, the

populace no longer fear the government in the same

degree as they once did ; and , the very people that took

to their heels, like “ obedient children , ” at the very

sight of the Kwangchowfoo, or Prefect, and a few sol

diers before the factories in December, 1838, pelted

and drove away the same Officer from the very same

0 2


spot in December, 1842, when the old British factories

were totally destroyed .

Having privately arranged all his plans, and , be

lieving that the foreigners were sleeping, Lin now or

dered that all the opium in the inner waters, and also

in the store ships in the “ outer waters, ” should be given

up to the officers of his government ; and that a bond

should be drawn up in “ Chinese and foreign character,

stating clearly that the ships afterwards to arrive there

shall never, to all eternity, dare to bring any opium ; or,

if they did so, that their whole cargo should be confis

cated, and all their people put to death, [by Chinese

officers) and, moreover, that they would willingly un


dergo it as the penalty of their crime. ”

This proclamation certainly caused a little panic in

Canton, and it was precisely what the Commissioner de

sired ; and, the more the foreign merchants seemed

disposed to meet his Excellency's views, as far as lay in

their power, so much the more did the demands of the

Commissioner rise. Every concession on the part of

Captain Elliot, or the merchants, was to him aa victory

gained , and the forerunner of greater ones. Threats

thundered forth against the heads of the Hong mer

chants rebounded in threats of all sorts, and alarming

statements from them to the foreigners. There seems

to be some reason for supposing that, in the commence

ment of the business, it was intended by Lin that a cer

tain compensation should be granted to foreigners for

the value of the opium surrendered . Gradually, how

ever, as he thought himself getting stronger, this inten

tion was quite lost sight of ; and almost at the same time


an edict came out, forbidding all foreigners to apply for

permission to go down to Macao — in fact, preventing

thern from leaving Canton or Whampoa.

At this period, not ten days had elapsed since Lin's

arrival at Canton, and there had not been sufficient

time even to reply to his proclamation, only issued the

preceding day, respecting the opium and the bond.

Lin's impatience hurried on one event upon another, in

his headlong career ; he issued orders, without waiting

to see whether his previous ones had been attended to.

With more discretion, he would in the end have been

moře successful, but the extraordinary dissimilarity be

tween Captain Elliot's character and his own led him

to think himself capable of concluding difficulties at a

distance, and of meeting them when only yet seen from

afar. Whatever unfortunate results may have ulti

mately sprung from his policy, it can never be ques

tioned that for the time his darling object was, not only

to “ humble the foreigners,” but to carry out, to the

letter, the express directions of his Emperor, which were

delivered to him in these words : — “ to scrub and wash

away the filth, and to cut up the opium-evil by the


roots, and to remove calamities from the people.” Alas !

the excessive zeal of the servant at last defeated the un

doubtedly well -meant purposes of the master !

Within aa few days after his arrival, we have seen that

Lin was embroiled with the whole foreign community ;

and, in the short space of twenty -four hours, edicts ap

peared, as has been stated, commanding the surrender

of all the opium, whether strictly in the Chinese waters

or not; and placing under arrest every foreigner, both

198 MR . DENT .

at Canton and Whampoa, without alleging any grounds

for the proceeding .

The Drama was now fast spreading out into its diffe

rent acts and scenes. An agreement that one thousand

chests should be delivered up only led to the demand

for more, and four thousand chests were then required.

Next, Mr. Dent, one of the principal merchants, was

to be brought before the commissioner within the city ;

and, in order to save, as he believed, the heads of some

of the Hong merchants, he agreed that he would go,

provided that he should receive beforehand a safe-con

duct from the Imperial Commissioner himself, guaran

teeing his safe return . But upon any other condition

he refused to put himself voluntarily in his power. The

reply to this was, “ that, if he did not come of his own

free will, he should be dragged out of his house by

force ;” and the threat was added that in that case

the High Commissioner would assuredly kill him.

A circular from Captain Elliot now required that “ all

ships belonging to her Majesty's subjects at the outer

anchorages should proceed at once to Hong Kong, since

her Majesty's subjects were then detained at Canton

against their will.” It will scarcely be credited, that

at this time the only British man - of-war in the Chinese

waters was the small sloop, the Larne. This was per

fectly well known to the Chinese , who consequently

conceived themselves strong enough to proceed to the

highest degree of violence and indignity. And, when

the Larne afterwards went up to the Bogue, and de

manded certain explanations of the Admiral Kwan (who,

we have before seen , was on friendly terms with Sir Fre


derick Maitland, on a previous oecasion, when he visited

the Bogue in a line-of-battle ship ), the only answer that

Kwan condescended to give to the little Larne was, “ that

she (or rather her captain) ought to know her own

weakness, and be reverentially obedient, as Maitland

had been before ."

At the critical juncture I have above described, Cap

tain Elliot resolved to come up to the British factory

in person , in a small open boat, and, for a moment, our

flag was again hoisted, when all were virtually prisoners,

whom the flag could not protect. He now declared his

intention of demanding passports for all her Majesty's

subjects within ten days (he should have demanded them

at once) ; but, having no armed force that he could call

to his aid , all he could do was to say, " that, if they

were refused for the period of three days after his ap

plication, he should be forced into the conclusion that

British subjects were all to be violently detained as

hostages, in order that they might be intimidated into

unworthy concessions.”

Scarcely could a more humiliating position be con

ceived than that of the Chief Superintendent at that

moment, before a proud and overbearing Commissioner,

armed with unlimited power ; while he himself was

helpless to protect or save others, and was actually

himself a prisoner in his own factory, and under his

country's flag

Lin now had Elliot completely in his power,, and

was doubtless much surprised himself at the success of

all his schemes. As to the demand for passports, made

without any power to force compliance, the Commis


sioner chuckled at it ; and now that he saw the whole

community in his grasp and helpless, he despised and

hated them more than ever. He even encouraged the

very degradation of the name of “ Englishmen ” in the

estimation of the people of Canton, and tried to hurl it

down from the proud pre-eminence on which it stood in

every other part of the globe. Bitter,, indeed , have

been at length the fruits of their presumption, and of

Lin's obstinacy ! Upon their own heads have rebounded

the contumely and degradation which they then heaped

upon ours.

But, at that moment, neither the flag nor the guns of

England could protect her people : they were prisoners

in their own halls ; and it is a positive fact that, for

some time, the only chance of relief or protection which

they had to look to was the expected arrival of two

American ships of war, which were known to be on

their way out, having been applied for by the consul of

that country, upon the first appearance of the diffi


This was a grand opportunity for pushing their for

tunes in that quarter, which the Americans knew well

how to profit by. In reality, the whole foreign trade

was for a time in jeopardy ; but the Americans profited

precisely in proportion to the increase of our difficul

ties, and their trade increased exactly as ours declined .

The moment was an advantageous one for proving to

the Chinese that Americans were not Englishmen ; al

though they cleverly made them understand that they

had been so once, but at last had conquered for them

selves a Name, a Flag, and a Nation .


It has been said that, at a later period, an American

merchant had more than one interview with Lin, in

which various suggestions were made as to the measures

to be adopted : but, whether they were of a favourable

or unfavourable nature to English interests, it is impos

sible to say with confidence. The results of the con

ference were kept very secret.

Fortunately, we shall soon arrive at that period when

the power and majesty of England, so long dormant in

those parts, were again to be put forth with tremendous

effect, and followed by consequences in which all the

civilized family of the world must be interested . But

we must follow Lin in his own course.

Having secured all the foreigners within his grasp ,

his next step was to withdraw all the native servants

from the factories, and to forbid the sale of provisions

to foreigners in any shape.. Armed men were posted

on every side, to prevent any one from attempting to

escape, while the river was blockaded, and all the fo

reign boats which could be found were drawn up high

and dry on shore, or else destroyed. In the mean time,

however, no provisions were supplied by Lin himself ;

consequently, the foreign prisoners were in a worse

plight, in that respect, than the actual malefactors in

the cells of the public prisons of the town ; and his ob

ject was evidently to starve them into compliance with

his wishes, if indeed he knew himself what the full ex

tent of his wishes really was.

Captain Elliot was now called upon to deliver up all

the opium , wherever it might be found. And yet it

was clear enough that Captain Elliot could not pos


sibly know where all the opium was, or how much it

might be ; and, having already agreed to the demand

for, first, one thousand, and then four thousand chests,

it would clearly be necessary to stipulate some quantity

as a satisfactory equivalent for all.

Even in their present dilemma, a more decided show

of firmness, and a threat of the retribution which would

fall upon him hereafter for his violent proceedings,

might have restored to the Commissioner some little

portion of his reasonableness, if not his reason. Never

theless, as the whole community of foreigners (not the

English only) were now under a course of starvation

and imprisonment, and were in a degraded position in

the eyes of all Chinamen, it is difficult to say if any

other course could have been adopted than the one

chosen by Captain Elliot. A bond was signed, under

the influence and by the compulsion of existing circum

stances, by all the parties, that they would not deal

any more in opium ; but they did not accede to the

penalty of death, &c. &c. , which Lin had originally at

tempted to impose. And, at the requisition of Captain

Elliot, they agreed to deliver up all the opium then in

their possession , “ for the service of her majesty's go


The quantity of opium to be delivered was not stipu

lated at the time . But, after returns had been very

honourably and equitably sent to Captain Elliot, it ap

peared that he could command the enormous quantity

of 20,283 chests ; and he accordingly agreed that that

immense number should be delivered up to officers de

puted by Lin to receive it. It was also stipulated that,


as soon as one- fourth should be given up, the servants

should be restored ; that, after one-half had been deli

vered, the passage -boats should run as usual down to

Macao ; that trade should be opened as soon as three

fourths had been given up ; and that, when the whole

of it had been surrendered , “ things should go on as


As yet scarcely three weeks had elapsed since Com

missioner Lin had come down, with this enormous power

upon his shoulders ; and yet it had sufficed to enable

him to effect such a vast change in the relations which

existed between the Chinese and the foreign commu

nity, and to astonish even his own countrymen by the

energy and rashness of his measures.

The Commissioner was perfectly surprised at his own

success, and equally so at the enormous quantity of

opium which Elliot declared himself able to procure.

But, in point of fact, there were not so many as twenty

thousand chests of opium in the “Chinese waters ” at

that time, although that amount was at last procured, for

vessels were sent to a distance even to seek for it, and

to purchase it for Captain Elliot. Some of it was lying

at Manilla, whence it was brought over for the purpose ;

and there was not much doubt that Lin would have been

quite as well content with an agreement to deliver five

thousand chests, or, at all events, ten thousand, as he was

with that of twenty thousand chests. But Elliot himself

seems to have been almost as great an enemy to the

drug as the Commissioner was, and it must have awa

kened no small feeling of pride in the mind of the latter

to reflect that he had been more than successful in the


accomplishment of all his plans, for that Captain Elliot

himself had contributed to forward his projects.

Yet all this appeared feebleness to Lin ; and, instead

of making him satisfied with the “ submission ” of the

foreigners, it only made him the more inclined to impose

fresh annoyances upon them . Lin was a bold man ;

and looked more to present success than future stabi

lity. Among his own party he at once became the

Hero, the Patriot, and the Wonder. But, couler heads,

and amongst them some of those who, like Keshen , had

acquired the habit of thinking before they acted, readily

discovered , at the bottom of all this cup of bitter vio

lence, the dregs which would produce perplexity and

danger. They seemed to feel that the British Lion could

not long be insulted with impunity.

But what did Lin himself do, as the next step of his

political delinquency ? He broke the very Agreement

he had just made : and, instead of allowing the pas

sage-boats to pass down to Macao, as usual, as soon as

one half of the stipulated number of chests had been

surrendered, as agreed, he selected the names of sixteen

gentlemen out of the whole community, and issued the

strictest orders against their departure ; and directed

that every one of the passage-boats should be examined,

to see if any of these gentlemen were on board, and to

prevent their escape. In short, it was very evident that

the Commissioner considered the lives, liberty, and pro

perty of foreigners entirely at his mercy, and that his

own agreements, though fully binding upon them, were

not longer so upon himself than might suit his conve



Nevertheless, at this time the Commissioner would

seem to have had some misgivings about the posture of

affairs, and became at one time inclined to recommend

the “ obedient” foreigners to the notice of the Emperor, >

for the purpose of having some mark of favour con

ferred upon them . This was thought to point at some

kind of compensation for the value of the opium surren

dered, but nothing further was heard of it. He began

now to fear that England might yet avenge her cause ,

and he, therefore, hit upon some scheme of getting the

Hong merchants to pay off the value of the opium by

instalments. He began to feel that he had gone too

far; that he had acted contrary to his own agreement ;

and, had he been at this juncture warned with becoming

dignity of the ultimate consequences of his measures,

he would, probably, have paused in his mad career.

But he became perfectly intoxicated with success ; the

people shouted with joy, apparently at the delivery of

the opium, but really at the humiliation of the foreigner,

whom they had been sedulously taught at Canton to

look down upon with hatred . The excitement caused

by these occurrences continued for a considerable time ;

intercourse between one part of the community and

another, even in writing, became very difficult; and nu

merous ingenious contrivances were adopted for carrying

it on . A more anxious period for the merchants gene

rally can hardly be imagined in any country, or under

any combination of circumstances.

On the 21st of May, 1839, the last portion of the

stipulated quantity of twenty thousand two hundred and

eighty -three chests of opium was delivered up at the


Bogue, where the rest of it was stored, awaiting the Im

perial pleasure. Many questions arose as to how it was

to be disposed of, but at last Lin himself hit upon the

clever expedient of destroying it by lime and oil, in pits

dug for the purpose, and then pouring the fluid com

pound into the sea. The process was a curious one, but

too protracted to be described here. Double guards

were placed to prevent any of the drug from being

stolen, and death was to be the punishment of every de

linquent. There were checks and spies in all directions,

and the process of destruction was carried on with great

parade. Nevertheless, it is believed that some of it

was purloined, both on shore and on its way from the

ships to the landing-place, where mandarin-boats and

war -junks were collected in great number, and , doubt

less, assisted each other in obtaining a small portion of

so precious an article.

As soon as possible after he had regained his liberty,

Captain Elliot sent intelligence of all these occurrences

to Bombay, (for the overland mail) by a fast sailing

vessel, hired expressly for the purpose, called the Ariel ;

and at the same time H. M. sloop Larne was despatched

to Calcutta, to report them to the governor-general of

India. Consequently, there was then not a single British

ship of war of any description in the Chinese waters,

for the protection of British life and property . Luckily,

the arrival soon afterwards of the American ships of

war, the Columbia and the John Adams, served to re

assure the drooping spirits of the whole foreign commu


Other acts of atrocity and bad faith had also been


committed by the Chinese authorities ; but it is re

markable that Captain Elliot, whose personal courage

and natural ability have never been questioned, seems

to have entered no public protest, nor addressed any

strong remonstrance to the Commissioner, either upon

this subject, or upon that of his own imprisonment, or

rather confinement, at Canton. The probability was, that

he thought it useless to do so, unless he were prepared

to back his remonstrance by a demonstration of force.

Nevertheless, after the foreigners were released, he issued

a notice that all trade on the part of his countrymen

with the Chinese should be stopped, because, he added,

that ships could not enter the river for that purpose,

without great danger to life and property. And this

notice was repeated in still stronger terms after the

departure of the Larne ; for he declared that “ he saw

no prospect of such an arrangement of existing difficul

ties as to admit of British ships proceeding within the

Bocca Tigris, under the sanction of his authority, until

the opinion of her Majesty's government could be made

known to him ." And at a later period he thought it

necessary to warn all the merchants (dated the 29th of

July) “ that he had moved her Majesty's and the Indian

governments to forbid the admission of tea and other

produce from China into Great Britain and India, du

ring the existence of the preceding prohibition in Canton,

unless their manifests were signed in his presence.”

The stoppage of the trade by Captain Elliot irritated

Lin excessively. It was turning the tables against

himself, defeating him with his own weapons ; it sa

voured of presumption in his sight ; and, moreover, it


materially diminished his Revenue. It proved that,

however bombastic and ridiculous their professions of

indifference to the trade of foreigners might be, they

really stood very much in need of it themselves, and , in

fact, they felt the stoppage of it on our part quite as

much as we ever did on theirs . It made Lin actually

spiteful; he tried every art to induce the English to act

contrary to Elliot's orders ; and , subsequently, when he

went down to Macao to see with his own eyes what the

Portuguese were about, he went so far as to make it a

matter of accusation against Elliot that “ he had pre

vented the merchant ships of his country from entering

the port of Canton . ”

Such gross inconsistency, probably, was never before


presented to view in so short a period of time by any

public man. Lin was, in fact, completely at bay, and

he, moreover, had probably heard by this time that

more than one British man -of-war was expected. Never

theless, he by no means relaxed in his feelings of bitter

hostility ; he listened to every thing that was said or

written against the English and against opium ; he al

most frightened the Portuguese, who were all submis

sion at Macao, out of “ their propriety ;" he made them

expel all the English out of the town, (or, what is the

same thing, he threatened to attack the town if the

English remained in it ; ) and hemade them prohibit the

importation ofopium, which had formerly been permitted

upon payment of duty . The Portuguese, professing to

wash their hands of it for ever, found it in some re

spects (through fear) to their advantage to side with the

Chinese and decry the English1 ; when they actually con


tinued to sell their opium (a great part of which they

had sent to Manilla) under the English flag, or else to

the English, or to the Americans, or to any body that


would buy it. To this day, the traffic is continued by

them in full vigour at the outer anchorages, and in the

Typa near Macao, although it is prohibited to be landed

at the town, under the eye of the authorities. Never

theless, a sufficient quantity of it is brought into the

town for local consumption.

Lin now appeared to have reached the pinnacle of his

power. He flattered himself that his schemes had been

all successful; his power appeared irresistible, because

no effectual opposition to it had yet been offered. The

more concessions were made to him, the more exacting

he became ; and , having got the English out of Macao,

and made the Portuguese very submissive to his will ,

he then assumed a very bland and condescending tone ;

and it has been said, though I know not with what

truth, that at length, when little else remained upon

which to expend the fertile expedients of his brain, he

began seriously to think of a scheme for getting posses

sion of the old forts at Macao by stratagem, and of

poisoning all the English at Hong Kong.

In the interim , it was very evident that a storm of a

new kind was brewing, which was likely soon to burst

upon his head. Moreover, all the attempts he had made

to control his own people failed ;; his executions, his

denunciations, and his moral lectures, were alike una

vailing. He gave the people a year, within which they

were to break off the habit by degrees, and to reform

their manners ;; and, at the end of that time, he vowed he

VOL . I. P


would execute every man amongst them that persisted

in it. In the mean time, he hit upon the last and

darling expedient of every Chinese statesman and philo

sopher, that of making men mutually responsible for

each other. Thus the whole people were to be divided

into tens, as they were elsewhere in the days of Alfred

the Great, and each one of the party was to be made

personally responsible for the good behaviour of all the

rest with whom he was associated .

Notwithstanding all these strong measures, urged

with all the sincerity of an enthusiast, they both failed

at the time, and have failed ever since to eradicate the

evil. The demand for the drug increased with the diffi,

culty of procuring it ; the indulgence became dearer

owing to the danger which attended it ; and, after all

that was said and done, opium continued to be sought

and enormously paid for. It was more generally used than

ever ; and even attention became directed to the culti

vation of the poppy on Chinese soil, when the difficulty

of procuring it from abroad became more urgent.

Lin rose into high favour, for a time, with the Impe

rial court, as might naturally be expected ; and he was

appointed Governor of the second province in the empire.

But long before the time came for him to remove to his

new post, his star began to wane, his difficulties in

creased, and ultimately his fall was as great as his rise

had been rapid.

For several months, as I have before stated, no

British ship of war was present in the Chinese waters.

It was during this interval, namely, in the month of July,

1839, that the great difficulty arose, which excited so


much attention at the time, and has done so since, ari

sing out of the death of a Chinaman , by name Lin

Wiehe, at Hong Kong, during an affray with some

British merchant seamen. This event was eagerly taken

advantage of by the Commissioner, to attempt to enforce

certain claims against the foreigners. Without entering

into tedious details, many of which are already well

known, it will suffice to mention that the man's death

was really occasioned by a drunken row , at a village

near Hong Kong ; that the Commissioner, in accordance

with what had formerly been done on a similar occasion

at Canton, demanded the surrender of the murderer

to be tried by Chinese judges, and that Captain Elliot

denied the jurisdiction altogether ; but, at the same

time, he himself preferred an indictment for murder

against a seaman , before a British Grand - Jury at Hong

Kong, who ignored the bill. But several men were ulti

mately found guilty of an assault only, and it appeared

that one party was just as much to blame as the other.

The Commissioner then grew more angry than ever :

he caused the few English who still remained at Macao

to be still further persecuted ; and it was only through the

friendly assistance of individual Portuguese families that

they were enabled to obtain their daily food. The result

was, that the whole British community left the place,

1 It is remarkable that Captain Elliot, in his address to the Grand

Jury, laid great stress upon this claim of the Chinese to try foreigners by

their law , as being one of the principal causes of existing difficulties.

His words were : “ Our intercourse is at present interrupted, I may say

chiefly, if not entirely, because it is impossible to consent to the preten

sions of the Chinese government to judge her Majesty's subjects by their

forms of judicature, for offences declared to be capital."

P 2


together with Captain Elliot, and went to live on board

the different merchant ships in harbour.

Things could not remain long in such a state of em

barrassment; and fortunately, on the 11th of September,

that is, about three months and a half after the Larne

had left those seas, the Volage, under Captain Smith,

arrived. That gallant officer immediately perceived that

active steps of some kind must be taken , and he accord

ingly issued a notice of blockade of the port of Canton,

upon the ground “ that the regular supplies of food had

been prohibited to her Majesty's subjects; that the Chi

nese people had been ordered to fire upon and seize

them wherever they went ; and that certain of her Ma


jesty's subjects had been actually cut off .”

The immediate effect of this measure was to bring

the Chinese in some measure to their senses ; their pro

clamations against Englishmen were withdrawn, provi

sions were no longer prohibited , and consequently Captain

Smith very properly withdrew his notice of blockade.

It is worth while to notice how much the presence of

a good English man -of-war, commanded by an able and

determined man, tended to bring back the Chinese

authorities to “ reason ,"

. Negociations were entered

into, and it was at length agreed that trade should be

resumed outside the port of Canton.

Yet, all on a sudden, even this arrangement was vio

lated by the Chinese ; and, on the 26th October, notice

was issued that they now required that ships should

enter within the port of Canton , that is, within the

Bocca Tigris. They repeated the demand for the mur

derer of Lin Wiehe to be given up ; and that a bond


should be signed by all, agreeing to be tried by Chinese

officers for offences declared by them before trial to be

capital. If this mandate were not obeyed, the whole

of the foreign ships were to depart within three days,

under a threat of immediate destruction !

The whole fleet, therefore, was now recommended to

anchor in Tongkoo Bay or Urmston's Harbour, which

afterwards became the rendezvous of all the ships of

war, and was so, as before stated, when the Nemesis

reached China. These events, however, had occurred

long before that time.

It is not necessary here to enter into minute details ;

it will be sufficient for the full understanding of the

future operations to state, that difficulties continued to

increase on both sides, without much prospect of any

solution. The Hyacinth having now arrived, and joined

the Volage on the 29th October, these two vessels pro

ceeded with Captain Elliot to Chuenpee, some distance

below the Bogue, to endeavour to obtain from the Com

missioner some explicit declaration of his intentions.

On the 3rd of November they were attacked by the

Chinese Admiral with twenty -nine sail of war-junks,

which , of course, they soon beat off ; and thus occurred

the first direct hostile encounter between the armed

forces of the two nations. War became more than ever

inevitable. Yet, at the end of the following month,

these two ships of war were again compelled to proceed

to the Bogue, in consequence of the seizure of aa British

subject by the Chinese (not engaged in selling opium )

at the anchorage of Tongkoo Bay.

The blockade of the river and port of Canton was


therefore renewed by Captain Smith on the 15th Janu

ary, 1840 ; but the gentleman who had been seized,

Mr. Gribble, was at once restored, and the blockade

was consequently raised .

Scarcely had this taken place, when down came to

Macao a new Chinese governor of that settlement, and

issued a positive edict for the immediate expulsion of

all the English. Captain Smith, with becoming spirit,

instantly ordered the Hyacinth, Captain Warren , to

proceed into the inner harbour for the protection of his

countrymen, which measure seemed to give great um

brage to the Portuguese governor, da Silveira Pinto ;

and ,, in consequence of his representations, she was with

drawn on the following morning.

Occasion was taken to make as much as possible out

of this occurrence , as if the Portuguese really possessed

some authority in the place beyond that over their own

countrymen, and very futile appeals were made to

treaties with the Chinese government. After all, the

utmost that could be said of it was, that if it was a

little deficient in courtesy towards the Portuguese

governor, the latter should have rather volunteered his

consent to it. Nevertheless, the energetic spirit which

it evinced undoubtedly tended to check the presumption

of the Chinese authorities, and thus far to give some

little security to British subjects. Captain Smith very

properly put it upon the ground of its strengthening the

Portuguese governor's hands, which in reality it did,

and which that functionary stood greatly in need of. At

the same time, Captain Smith very laudably expressed a

hope that “ the language in which his Excellency would


demand the immediate removal of the Chinese forces,

declaredly sent here to seize or destroy my countrymen

(to the deep insult of the Portuguese crown ), will be

not less stringent, and as successful in its operation, as

that in which your Excellency has been pleased to order

the withdrawal of the Hyacinth ."

During the whole of this time, preparations were

being made by the Chinese for future operations in

the Canton River ; fire-ships were prepared, guns col

lected, and troops exercised.

On the 24th March, 1840, the fine frigate the Druid,

commanded by Lord John Churchill, arrived off Macao,

and thence proceeded to Tongkoo Roads, a most wel

come reinforcement About this time also the Chinese

purchased the English merchant-ship the Cambridge,

intending to turn her into a man -of-war, and built some

strange-looking little schooners upon a European model,

with the view of employing them in some novel way

or other against the British ships.

It is said, that at one time Commissioner Lin got up

a sort of sham - fight at the Bogue, and dressed some of

the assailants in red clothes, in order to habituate the

defenders to the sight of the colour of the enemy's

costume. Of course, the red gentlemen were thoroughly

beaten in due course of time, and thereby the valour of

the Bogue protectors was supposed to be very materially

augmented .

Matters had now proceeded so far, that it was im

possible that any solution of the enigma could be arrived

at without speedy employment of force . The success

of their first measures, and the helpless condition in



which foreigners then found themselves, had emboldened

the Chinese beyond reason , and had fed their pre

sumption even till it burst with its own self -applause.

Lord John Churchill, who was now of course senior

officer, unhappily died, after a week’s illness, on the

3rd of June. Few days had elapsed before the Chinese

sent a number of fire -ships to endeavour to destroy the

English merchant-ships, collected at the anchorage of

Capsingmoon, but they proved a complete failure.

The British naval force now rapidly gained accession

to its strength. The tidings of the events at Canton

had spread to all parts of the world . Preparations had

immediately been commenced in England and elsewhere

for the coming contest. The Alligator, from New South

Wales, under Sir Gordon Bremer, arrived about this

time, as also did the Honourable Company's steamer

Madagascar, and likewise the Wellesley, 74, in which

Sir Gordon Bremer hoisted his broad pendant ; and on

the 28th of June, 1840, Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer

established a blockade of the port and river of Canton

and all its entrances, by command of her Majesty's

government. Ships of war now continued to arrive as

fast as possible ; the force in the Chinese waters was

considerable ; and, within two or three days after the

commencement of the blockade, the chief command was

assumed by Rear-Admiral the Honourable George

Elliot, who had just arrived in the Melville, 74 .



Canton river, description of, below the Bogue— “ Outer waters ” — Lintao

-Capsingmoon passage-Urmston's Bay— Force assembled in China

in 1840–Rewards offered for its destruction - Rear -Admiral Honour

able Sir G. Elliot and Captain Elliot joint-plenipotentiaries — Squadron

moves to the northward — Expedition to the Peiho - Hostility of the

authorities at Amoy — Refusal to receive Lord Palmerston's letter at


Ningpo - Blockade of the coast — First capture of Chusan - Plenipoten

tiaries at Tientsin — Answer from the Emperor - Keshen sent down to

supersede Lin - Truce at Chusan — Flag of truce fired at from Chuenpee

-Keshen's arrival at Canton — Sir Gordon Bremer becomes commander


in -chief - General review of occurrences in 1840 Threatened attack

upon the English at Macao — Decisive measures of Captain Smith

Attack on the barrier-Order in council Remarks on hostility of the

Chinese — Kidnapping - General alarm at our proceedings — Prepara

tions for hostilities on both sides — Nemesis at the Bogue — Description

of Chuenpee, and of the defences of the Bogue - Tiger Island.

It will be generally admitted by all who have seen

the Canton river, or, as the Chinese call it, Chookeang,

that, in point of size, depth, and picturesque character,

it is one of the finest navigable rivers in the world .

Merchant ships of the largest size, perhaps the proudest

which float, have navigated it for nearly two hundred

years, to within a distance of nine or ten miles from

Canton, with little difficulty, and very inconsiderable


danger. No foreign commerce with any one port has

been so valuable, so extensive, or carried on with so

much facility. The difficulties of our intercourse, which

have arisen within the last few years, have formed an

epoch in the world's history, and stand forth as a lead

ing beacon in the stream of time, pointing towards

greater eras yet to come. And, as they first began in

the Canton river, an unusual interest becomes imparted

to it .

An archipelago of numerous islands, most of them

rocky, and only partially productive, warns you of the

approach to this celebrated river. Strictly speaking,

only that portion of it above the Bocca Tigris has been

called the river ; while all below that point, even from

beyond Macao upwards (the latter lying at the distance

of from forty to fifty miles from the Bogue forts), has

been called the outer waters ; nevertheless, it ought pro

perly to be included within the precincts of the river


Since the questions connected with the opium-trade

have been brought so prominently forward , it has been

maintained by some, that the “ outer waters” ought not

properly to be considered within Chinese jurisdiction .

But this position would hardly seem to be tenable ; and

there can be no sound reason for maintaining that these

waters should not be considered as much, and even more,

within their jurisdiction as the sea-coast or river islands

of any part of Europe are within the jurisdiction of the

country to which they belong, to the distance of a cer

tain number of miles from the land itself. In reality,

the little peninsula of Macao on the west, and the island


of Lintao (not to be confounded with Lintin) on the

east, may be considered as the proper boundaries of the

entrance to the Canton River.

These points are about fifteen to twenty miles apart,

while between them lie several small islands, through

which are the two principal navigable passages (the

western and the Lintao passages) into the river itself.

But the island of Lintao, called Tyho by the Chinese, is

a long, narrow, mountainous piece of land, broken up

into numerous bays and projecting points, stretching

from south-west to north-east, separated at the latter

extremity from the mainland only about the distance

of a mile. The passage and anchorage between them is

called Capsingmoon, and is made use of occasionally

even by large vessels, which pass towards the river or

across from Macao towards the island of Hong Kong,

which lies off the mainland at about five or six miles

to the eastward of Lintao ,

The anchorage of Tongkoo Bay, towards which the

Nemesis was to proceed to rejoin the fleet, and which is

also known by the name of Urmston's Harbour, from

having been recommended by Sir James Urmston, for

merly President of the Company's factory at Canton, is

situated about six miles due north from Lintao, between

the little islands called Tongkoo and Sowchow, near

the mainland, as you proceed upwards within the outer

waters of the Canton River, along its eastern shores .

It was here that the fleet anchored in 1823, in conse

quence of some discussions with the Chinese, arising

i See map

220 LINTIN .

out of the affair of the Topaze frigate, which occurred

in the preceding year.'

About five miles distant from Tongkoo Bay, more

towards the centre of the river, and a little to the north

ward, is the small island of Lintin, terminating in aa very

remarkable, high, conical peak, which is a guide to all

vessels passing up or down. It has become famous as a

place of rendezvous for the opium vessels, particularly

within the last few years ; and a merchant brig, bearing

its name, has been recently sold to the Chinese as a

man -of-war, though old and not very serviceable . This

island must not be confounded with that of Lintao, be

fore alluded to, and from which it is about eight or nine

miles distant.

Having now got fairly into Tongkoo Bay with the

fleet, and feeling something of the interest and excite

ment which were awakened in the breasts of all who

were brought together in such a place and at such a

time, we will next proceed to recount a few of the re

markable events of the year 1840, reserving the descrip

tion of the other parts of the river for those portions of

the narrative with which they are connected.

Towards the end of July, 1840, the British force as

sembled in China had become considerable : comprising

no less than three line-of -battle ships, with a Rear


Some of the sailors of the Topaze were attacked and wounded on

shore by the Chinese ; and, in the scuffle, two Chinamen were killed.

Remonstrances followed on both sides ; and at length the Chinese de

manded that two Englishmen should be delivered up to them for punish

ment. This was refused, as might be expected ; upon which the Chinese

authorities stopped the trade, and the fleet of merchant ships withdrew

from Whampoa and came to anchor in Tongkoo roads, henceforth called

Urmston's Bay or Harbour.


Admiral and a Commodore ; thirteen other ships of war,

of different kinds, and a large troop-ship ; together

with four armed steamers, belonging to the East India

Company. To these must be added twenty-seven trans

ports, having on board the 18th, 26th, and 49th regi

ments, a body of Bengal volunteers, and a corps of

Madras sappers and miners. The marines and seamen

were of course prepared to co -operate on shore. This

was undoubtedly a formidable force, especially when we

reflect that little more than a year had elapsed since

there was no armedforce whatever in the Chinese waters,

and the proud flag of England had ceased to wave even

upon the Factories.

The measures adopted by the governor-general of

India, when once the crisis had arrived, were sufficiently

energetic and decisive. The consequences of the rup

ture were now easily foreseen ; and the interest which

the state of our relations with China had begun to

awaken, both in England and in India, was daily be

coming more general.

On the first arrival of the large force mentioned

below , it did not appear to alarm Commissioner Lin ,




Melville, 74, ilag -ship, Rear- Conway, 28, C.D. Bethune,Esq .

Admiral the Hon . George Volage, 28, George Elliot, Esq.

Elliot, C. B .; Captain the Alligator, 28 , H. Kuper, Esq. HON . COMPANY'S ARMED

Hon . R. S. Dundas. Larne , 20, J. P. Blake, Esq . STEAMERS ,

Wellesley, 74, bearing the broad Hyacinth, 20, W. Warren , Esq .

pendant of Commodore Sir Modeste, 20, H. Eyres, Esq . Queen, Capt. Warden .

J. J. Gordon Bremer, C.B.; Pylades , 20, T. V. Anson, Esq . Madagascar, Capt . Dicey.

Captain Thomas Maitland. Nimrod, 20, C. A. Barlow , Esq . Atalauta, Capt . Rogers .

Blenheim, 74, Sir H. S. Fleming Cruiser, 18, H. W. Gifford , Esq. Enterprise, Capt . West.

Senhouse, K.C.B. Columbine, 18, T.J.Clarke ,Esq.

Druid, 44, H. Smith, Esq . Algerine, 10, T. S. Mosson, Esq .

Blonde, 44, F. Bonchier, Esq. Rattlesnake, troop -ship , Brodie .


and his obsequious satellite, Governor Tang, nearly so

much as might have been expected . On the contrary,

Lin continued to organize means of defence, to enlist

soldiers, and to arm his forts. It was, moreover, at

this moment that he hit upon his notable expedient of

offering immense rewards for the destruction, in any

manner whatever, of British ships, either men -of-war

or merchant vessels, and also for the capture or slaugh

ter of British officers. But the reward for taking them

alive was to be greater than for killing them. There was

also a reward for taking soldiers or merchants, but only

one fifth of the sum if they were killed . A reward was also

to be given for the capture of coloured people, soldiers,

or servants, although its amount was not mentioned .

These curious documents were circulated under the

seal of the imperial commissioner. But even this was

not enough for the restless mind of Lin ; he tried to

invent contrivances for boring holes in ships' bottoms,

and also for sawing their masts asunder.

All this followed after the declaration of blockade by

Sir Gordon Bremer, and after a public complaint had

been made by Captain Elliot against Lin and Tang,

various treacherous acts, such as attacking our vessels

at night (merchant vessels), poisoning the water, and

preventing supplies of food from being brought to the

factories, & c.

It was now very evident, that although no formal

declaration of war had been made on our part, it had

become impossible to avoid warlike operations on an

extended scale, and at no distant time.

Rear-Admiral Elliot had now been associated with


Captain Elliot in his diplomatic functions, and they

were nominated Joint-Plenipotentiaries for settling the

matters in dispute with the Emperor. That object

appeared little likely to be attained by wasting time in

negociations with irresponsible and overbearing public

officers at Canton ; it was, therefore, wisely resolved

to take advantage of the best season of the year while

it still lasted, and to proceed northward with the bulk of

the force, in order to bring the emperor and his minis

ters to their senses, by exciting alarm as near as possi

ble to the imperial capital. The Peiho river, therefore,

which commands one of the great channels of inter

course with the metropolis, and is connected with the

Grand Canal, through which all the wealth of China

flows to Pekin, was now avowedly the chief point to

which the expedition was to be directed.

This movement was by no means a mere demonstra

tion for the purpose of giving eclat to the conduct of the

negociations, but was in reality a hostile operation ; at

all events, it became so as it proceeded, and the results

of it may in reality be called the First Campaign in

China. It was commonly called the first “ China Expe


dition ;" but the appellation was afterwards changed to

the “ Eastern Expeditionary force,” which was also ap

plied to the second expedition, as will be afterwards seen .

A small force being left at the Bogue to maintain the

blockade, the bulk of the expedition, together with the

two Plenipotentiaries, sailed to the northward at the end

of June ; part of the force above mentioned did not

arrive until after the rest had sailed, but it soon fol

lowed the rest .


The first encounter with the Chinese took place at

Amoy, in the beginning of July, 1840.. The Blonde,

forty -four, Captain Bourchier, was sent into the harbour

of Amoy , to endeavour to hand over a letter from the

English naval commander-in -chief, addressed to the


“ Admiral of the Chinese nation .” This high officer was

not there, and the local mandarins refused to receive it,

and fired upon a boat which was sent to the beach bear

ing a flag of truce at the bow, and conveying Mr. Thom,

as interpreter, for the purpose of delivering the letter

to the mandarins, for transmission to the Chinese Admi

ral. The officers and crew of the boat had a narrow

escape, for, besides being received with every possible

indignity, the boat was fired at and struck, while pre

parations were evidently being made for an attack upon

the frigate itself. Indeed, nothing could possibly be

more hostile and insulting than the conduct of the Chi

nese officers, who met Mr. Thom at the landing-place.

They showed some inclination even to seize the boat in

which he came, and declared they neither feared him

nor the ship either.

The result of their hostile bearing and of the attack

on the boat was, that the guns of the Blonde were di

rected with terrific effect upon the Chinese batteries and

the war-junks, immediately the boat reached the frigate.

By this fire great damage was done, and the Chinese

troops, who had assembled on the beach, were dispersed

in all directions. Having inflicted this merited chas

tisement, as an example to the Chinese, the Blonde

again set sail to join the main body of the force, in

order to report the circumstances to the Admiral.


On the 5th of July, the town of Tinghai, the capital


of the island of Chusan, the principal of the group of

islands bearing that name, fell to her Majesty's arms

after a very slight resistance. But as this and other

operations to the northward, during this brief season ,

have been well described by Lord Jocelyn, it will be suffi

cient merely to allude to them in a cursory way ; parti

cularly as they were of minor importance compared

with subsequent events.

The failure of the attempt to deliver aa letter from

Lord Palmerston to some of the authorities at Ningpo,

to be transmitted to the cabinet at Pekin, became a

matter of serious importance, after what had taken place

at Amoy, and, in consequence, a blockade of the coast

was established from Ningpo to the mouth of the

Yangtze River, the most frequented and most commer

cial part of the whole sea board of China.

Nothing was more likely to make a deep impression

upon the Chinese government than the stoppage of this

valuable trade, upon which the daily sustenance of a

large part of the population of the interior actually

depended . The ultimate conclusion of peace, which

was brought about by the more active prosecution of

these very measures, will be sufficient to prove their

wisdom at that time ; and it is due to Captain Elliot to

mention, that the blockade of the Yangtze river was at

all times one of his most favourite projects.

About the middle of August, the bulk of the squadron

arrived off the mouth of the Peiho, below Tientsin ,

having been preceded two or three days hy Captain

VOL . I. Q


Elliot, on board the Madagascar steamer. Lord Pal

merston's communication was there at length received,

by an officer deputed for that purpose by Keshen, the

governor of the province, and was forwarded to the

emperor. Subsequently, a conference was held on shore

between Keshen and Captain Elliot ; and, whatever the

results may otherwise have been, it is well known that

the plenipotentiaries were persuaded, by the ingenuity of

Keshen, that the future negociations could be conducted

with more satisfaction at Canton (provided a new com

missioner were sent down from Pekin for that express

purpose ), than within a hundred miles of the emperor's


In the mean time, however, while an answer was ex

pected from the emperor to the communication addressed

to his ministers by Lord Palmerston , the principal part

of the squadron, which had come up to the Peiho,

sailed further northward, up the gulf of Petchelee, to

the great wall of China, which has so long been classed

among the wonders of the world . The effect of the

emperor's answer , and of the negociations with Keshen,

was, that this squadron withdrew from the neighbour

hood of the capital; and Keshen himself was appointed

Imperial Commissioner, to proceed at once to Canton ,

to open negociations with the plenipotentiaries. He was

to supersede Lin , whose course seemed almost run , and

who was ordered to Pekin in haste, to answer for his

conduct. Nevertheless, he was subsequently allowed to

remain as viceroy, or governor, at Canton, but never

succeeded in obtaining the higher government which

1 She was afterwards accidentally destroyed by fire.


had been previously promised to him elsewhere, in the

heyday of his favour.

A curious bombastic edict was now issued by the em

peror, declaring how the “ rumbling thunders ” of the

guns of Chapoo and other places on the coast had beaten

off the foreign ships, and “ had greatly dampened their

ardour,” and that therefore the poor barbarians deserved


a little extension of “ imperial favour."

This was an ingenious device which his majesty adopted ,

in order to get rid of the English from his own neigh

bourhood, by persuading them to go and discuss the

matters in dispute one thousand five hundred miles off,

with a commissioner to be sent down there for the


As for poor Commissioner Lin, he was declared , in his

majesty's anger, to be of no use at all except to cause

the “waves of confusion to rise ;; " that he was just like

a “ stupid fellow with his arms tied ;" and,as a finishing


touch to the portrait, that he was in reality “ no better

than a wooden image.” Alas for the mighty Lin ! the

dear friend at whose departure the emperor had before

shed tears !

By the end of September, the squadron had returned

to Chusan from the Peiho. A truce was about this time

announced and published at Chusan! ; and a common

impression prevailed that a general armistice had been

concluded at Tientsen with Keshen, pending the result

of the negociations to be carried on at Canton . This,

however, was soon found to be erroneous ; for, in a letter


addressed to the merchants by Admiral Elliot in Tongkoo

Bay, on the 26th November, (the very day after the

Q 2


Nemesis had reported her arrival to the admiral) it was

publicly declared that “ the truce had been only entered

into with Elepoo, the governor-general of that province,

[Chekeang] and did not extend further.” It must, how

ever, have included the port of Ningpo, and other parts

of the coast of the mainland, within the limits of the go

vernor's authority.

The plenipotentiaries, Captain Elliot and the Ho

nourable George Elliot, returned to Macao on the 20th

November. It was on the following day that The Queen

steamer was fired at and hit, as she passed the Chuenpee

fort with a flag of truce. She had orders to proceed up to

the Bogue, to deliver a letter which had been entrusted

to her captain from “ Elepoo,” ( probably concerning the

truce he had concluded) addressed to the Imperial Com

missioner Keshen at Canton . In return for this attack,

she threw a few shells and heavy shot into the fort, and

went back to Tongkoo Bay re infecta. This was the

second time a flag of truce had been fired at, although

the Chinese perfectly understood the peaceful purpose

which it denoted . The despatch , however, was forwarded

the same evening to Keshen at Canton, through the sub

prefect of Macao, into whose hands it was delivered by

Captain Elliot. It was also reported that the com

mandant at Chuenpee sent up some of The Queen's heavy

shot, which had lodged in the fort, as a present to the

authorities at Canton , probably to shew how brave he

had been to withstand such weighty missiles. He did

not lose the opportunity to claim a victory for having

driven her off !

A heavy force was by this time collected at the mouth


of the Canton River, reinforced as it had been by the

arrival of the Calliope and Samarang, and also of the

Nemesis, and by the addition of a fresh regiment, the

37th Madras native infantry.

Keshen arrived at Canton on the 29th November, and

sent an official notification to that effect to the plenipo

tentiaries ; and it is remarkable that, almost at the same

moment, Admiral Elliot was compelled to resign the

command of the fleet, and also his duties as Joint-ple

nipotentiary, through sudden and severe illness. A few

days afterwards he embarked for England in the Volage,

leaving Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer as commander

in -chief, and Captain Elliot for the time as again the

sole Plenipotentiary. Captain Elliot seems to have felt

the loss of his relation's assistance very sensibly, but

declared that he “ had been trained in too long a course

of anxiety and trial in that country, and reposed too

steady a confidence in the assistance of every kind by

which he was surrounded, to lose heart under the weight

of this serious aggravation of his responsibility, and of

this heavy personal blow ; ” and added , “ that he had a

firm reliance on the plain good sense and manly co-ope

ration of all classes of her Majesty's subjects.”

In order to render complete the general sketch of

passing events to the close of 1840, I must not omit to

mention the gallant affair at Macao under Captain Smith,

of the Volage, which happened in the month of August,

at the period when the main body of the expedition was

engaged in the operations to the northward , already

alluded to. It will be remembered that Captain Smith

had once before thought it necessary to sail into the


Inner Harbour, for the protection of British subjects,

but had retired upon a representation being made to

him by the Portuguese governor .

In the month of August, however, strange rumours

of a rather threatening character began to prevail, but

not of a very definite kind. One of the principal Chi

nese officers of Macao had been absent for some time at

Canton, and, on his return , accompanied, or rather fol

lowed, by a body of troops, it became very evident that

some hostile measure was in contemplation. A number

of war- junks were likewise collected in the Inner Har

bour, having troops on board . A considerable body of

men were also encamped upon the narrow neck of land

which separates Macao from the mainland, and across

which there is a so-called Barrier, which forms the line

of demarkation, beyond which the Portuguese have no

jurisdiction .

This Barrier is composed of aa wall, with parapets and

a ditch running across the isthmus, and having a gate

way,, with a guard-house over it, in the centre. Beyond

the Barrier the Chinese had very recently thrown up a

flanking field -work, mounting about twelve guns, with

a view of protecting the rear of the Barrier from the

attack of an enemy attempting to land in boats. The

war- junks were also placed so close in shore, in the Inner

Harbour, as to be able to protect the barrier on that


These movements were quite sufficient to prove that

some attack was actually contemplated upon Macao

itself, and the result of it, if successful, cannot be

thought of without horror. But the promptitude and


energy of Captain Smith anticipated the designs of the

Chinese, and , by a most decisive and admirably combined

movement, he soon scattered the whole Chinese forces

like chaff before the wind . Taking with him the Larne

and Hyacinth, with the Enterprise steamer and the

Louisa cutter, he sailed boldly up towards the Barrier,

and ran in as close as the shallowness of the water would

permit. He then opened a spirited fire upon the whole

of the Chinese works and barracks, which the Chinese

returned . Their soldiers were seen mustering from dif

ferent points, for the defence of the position .

In the course of an hour, the firing of the Chinese

was almost silenced ; and then a single gun was landed

upon the beach, which raked the Chinese position, while

a small body of marines, under Lieutenant Maxwell,

with some small-arm men from the Druid, under Lieu

tenant Goldsmith, and about two companies of Bengal

volunteers, under Captain Mee, altogether about three

hundred and eighty men, landed, and drove the Chinese,

with considerable loss, from every one of their positions.

On the British side, four men only were wounded. The

Chinese guns were spiked, but none were carried away ,

and the whole of their troops were dispersed, nor did

they afterwards approach the barrier, except to carry

off the spiked guns. The barracks and other buildings

were burned ; and all our men having re-embarked late

in the evening, the vessels returned to their former an

chorage in Macao roads.

Seldom has a more signal service been rendered in so

short a space of time, than this well- timed and energetic

measure adopted by Captain Smith.


There still remain one or two points worth noticing,

in order to complete the series of events which hap

pened in the year 1840. Among these, one of the most

important was the issuing of an Order in Council for the

establishment of courts of admiralty in China, for the

adjudication of prizes, &c. It was to the effect that,

“ in consideration of the late injurious proceedings of

certain officers of the Emperor of China towards certain

of our officers and subjects, and, whereas, orders had

been given that satisfaction and reparation for the same

should be demanded from the Chinese government, it

was necessary, for the purpose of enforcing those orders,

that all vessels and goods belonging to the Emperor of

China or his subjects should be detained and brought

into port ; and that, in the event of reparation and satis

faction being refused by the Chinese government, a court

of admiralty should be formed for the purpose of ad


judging and condemning them as prizes.”

This order in council was not acted upon, except on

a very limited scale, and for a very brief period. It

was afterwards considered more equitable that the

burden of the war should be made to fall as much as

possible upon the government of China, and as little as

possible upon the people ; and this highly judicious

and humane determination was carried out as much as

possible, and with the best results, during all the latter

part of the war, much to the credit of all concerned .

During the year 1840 very little progress was made

in our endeavours to gain over the Chinese people to

our interests, or to conciliate their forbearance, in any

of the places in which we were brought into contact


with them. At Chusan, in particular, they evinced the

most hostile spirit towards us, and lost no opportunity

of exhibiting their hatred of the foreigner. It was not

without great difficulty even that provisions could be

obtained for our men ; there was evidently some secret in

fluence which operated to prevent the people from meet

ing us amicably, and made them, for some time, resist

even the temptation of gain, so difficult for aa Chinaman

to withstand . Nor can this indeed be wondered at.

Neither party understood the character of the other ;

and the refusal on their part to supply us with pro

visions, even for fair payment, could hardly fail to bring

hardships upon many who were not in fault, since it

was evident that our troops must be supplied with

proper food in some way or other. Nothing, however,

tended to exhibit their hostile spirit so much as their

persevering attempts to carry off our men by stealth ,

whenever they could find an opportunity ; and indeed

the kidnapping system was followed up with many

circumstances of barbarity to the very close of the


This embittered our men very much against the

Chinese, and we may almost wonder that their prisoners,

when they fell into our hands, received such lenient

treatment in return. The story is well known of Captain

Anstruther’s capture at Chusan, at the distance of only

two or three miles from the town, his being tied up in

a sack, and subsequently carried over in a boat to

Ningpo on the mainland, and the curious history of

his confinement in a Bamboo cage, three feet long by

two feet broad ; and other instances of a similar


kind, in which the prisoners were treated with the

utmost barbarity, have been so often recounted, that a

passing allusion to them will here be sufficient. Cap

tain Anstruther, however, would seem to have been

more leniently treated than many of the other prisoners ;

and I have heard him declare that, with respect to the

better class of mandarins at Ningpo, he had little cause

of complaint to urge against them , considering that he

was a prisoner in an enemy's hands. His talent for

drawing, however, enabled him to conciliate their good

will, and to earn for himself some indulgences which

others were not fortunate enough to procure. He sold

his drawings, and particularly his portraits, for a tole

rable price. Thus, for instance, he took care that when

a mandarin wanted to have his likeness taken, he should

give him at least three sittings, and for each sitting he

required a payment of twelve pork pies. In this way

his ingenuity enabled him to procure abundance of food ,

at all events. Many of the other prisoners, however,

were treated with frightful barbarity, and , in some in


stances, they were put to death .

A much more formidable enemy to us than the

Chinese was , soon discovered, in the terrible sickness

which broke out among our troops at Chusan, and car


ried off many a brave man prematurely to his grave.

The low, swampy rice-grounds surrounding the town,

the want of proper drainage, the exposure to the hot

sun, and the use of the deleterious spirit which the

Chinese call Samshoo, made from rice (of which a vast

quantity was manufactured on the island for export

ation )—all these causes combined sufficed to produce


fever, dysentery, and various complaints, which com

mitted great havoc among the men. The island was

subsequently , however, rendered less unhealthy by

better arrangements, and by enforcing greater clean


At Amoy, after the affair of the Blonde, a strict

blockade was maintained by the Alligator and other

vessels, which interrupted the whole trade of that im

portant commercial city. But none of our ships asto

nished and alarmed the Chinese so much as the steamers ;

they were particularly alluded to in the official reports

to the emperor, and were described as “having wheels

at their sides, which, revolving, propelled them like the

wind, enabling them to pass to and fro with great

rapidity, acting as leaders : ” and it is not surprising X

that the Chinese should soon have christened them the

“ Demon Ships ."

The effect of our operations to the northward had

already been to excite great alarm in the mind of the

emperor and of his ministers ; indeed, the panic created

by the first approach of a hostile force was so great,

that a very small body of men might have marched

almost from one end of China to the other, so little

were the Chinese prepared for resistance. But gra

dually they recovered their energy, improved their means

of defence, adopted better weapons, and cast heavier

guns. As far as personal bravery could aid them, they

were by no means an enemy to be despised. The spear

and the bayonet frequently crossed each other ; perhaps

more frequently than the bayonets of Europeans do ;

and, in not a few instances, the long spear was more


than a match for the shorter bayonet. Hand-to-hand

encounters with the Tartar troops were not uncommon

towards the close of the war ; and, indeed, many of our

men learnt, to their cost, that they had held the

Chinese far too cheap. Instances occurred in which

the powerful Tartar soldier rushed within the bayonet

guard of his opponent, and grappled with him for life

or death.

We may now revert to the period of the arrival of

the new Imperial Commissioner Keshen at Canton, with

a view to treat with the plenipotentiaries , according to

the terms agreed upon at the Peiho, as before men

tioned. His predecessor, Lin, whose fall had now com

menced, could not resist giving a parting warning to

the people, against the continuance of their pernicious

habits ; and he even ventured to assure them that, if


they still persisted, " they would assuredly, one and all


of them, be strangled ; ” and he further told them,

quaintly enough, that, " while the allotted period of their

probation was not yet finished, they were still living

victims ; but that when it had expired they would be

come dead victims, for that they would certainly be put

to death, if they had not learnt to amend their ways .'

So far then Lin was consistent to the last.

In the beginning of December, the greater part of our

naval forces had again assembled below the Bogue,

although a squadron was still left to the northward .

Notwithstanding that Keshen had arrived for the osten

sible purpose of inquiring into and settling all matters

in dispute, it was evident that the Chinese were making

hostile preparations, with a view to a very different mode


of settlement of the question. A feeling of uncertainty

and apprehension prevailed, such as generally precedes

some great movement. The Chinese, on their side, were

collecting troops, and raising new works ; while, on

our side, every precaution was taken , in case a re

sumption of hostilities should be called for.

On the 13th, the Nemesis, which had been for some

days at anchor with the fleet, a few miles below

Chuenpee, conveyed Captain Elliot down to Macoa,

while the rest of the fleet moved nearer up towards the

Bogue, as if with the object of supporting the “ nego

ciations ” by a firm display of power. Captain Elliot's

stay at Macoa was very short ; and, from the increased

activity of our preparations at the Bogue, it became

evident that the “ negociations” were not going on

satisfactorily. Scaling ladders were now being made

on board the ships, and a landing - stage for dis

embarking the troops was constructed on board the

Nemesis, which, from her light draught.of water, was

likely to be employed for that particular purpose.

Numerous communications were passing between

Macao and our fleet at the Bogue; Captain Elliot him

self went backwards and forwards several times in the

Nemesis ; and the moment seemed fast approaching

when some very decided blow was to be struck.

The following description of the scene of operations

will therefore be found interesting. About twenty-two

to twenty -five miles above the island of Lintin, before

described , and consequently about the same distance

above Tongkoo Bay, on the same side of the river, is

a projecting headland, about a mile and a quarter wide,


distinguished at a considerable distance by the high

peak in which its summit terminates. On either side

of it there is a fine sandy beach, off which there is a

good anchorage. This is Chuenpee.

The hill, which is its principal feature, stands rather

towards the northern side of the promontory, and is

divided into two conical eminences, upon one of which

there was a high building, resembling a watch-tower,

which was now fortified , and formed a conspicuous

object as you ascend the river. At the bottom of

the hill there were a considerable stone battery and

other works. The whole of these had been very re

cently strengthened and extended. A line of entrench

ment, with mud batteries, had also been carried round

the rear . Behind the hill also, in an opening looking

towards the north, or into Anson's Bay, another small

battery had been erected, with an enclosed space or

square for barracks, surrounded by a parapet wall.

The extent of these works was not properly known

until the attack upon the place had commenced . It

was generally believed that the promontory and hill of

Chuenpee were connected with the mainland ; and it was

not until some time after the place was taken that the

discovery was made, as will presently be described , that

Chuenpee was, in reality, an island .

On the opposite or western side of the river, which

is here about three miles wide, is another smaller pro

montory, called Tycocktow , with a line of strong

batteries close along the shore, faced with granite. This

See map


was also subsequently found to be an island. The

whole of the country which borders the river is moun

tainous and picturesque.

Returning again to the east side, about four to five

miles above Chuenpee, we come to the high hill and

fortifications of Anunghoy, the most important of the

works at the Bogue. Between Chuenpee and Anung

hoy lies the beautiful bay called Anson's Bay, about

two miles deep ; on one side of which it was at one time

proposed to found an English town . Anunghoy, like

Chuenpee, was discovered to be also an island ; and

that circumstance, as will be afterwards seen, was a

source of great anxiety to Keshen, who saw the con

sequent weakness of the position of Anunghoy, and

reported it to the emperor. In fact, our light squadron

might have probably gone up the river by the passage

at the back of Anunghoy, without passing through the

Bogue at all. But these facts were not then known .

The works at Anunghoy consisted of two very strong,

heavy batteries, built of excellent granite, and partly

of the composition called chunam . The masses of stone

were afterwards found to be of immense size, so much

so, that it was no easy task to blow the works to pieces,

even after they were taken. The two principal bat

teries were connected together by temporary works of

recent construction ; and, according to the usual Chinese

practice, a semicircular wall was carried round the rear

of each fort along the side of the hill.

The breadth of the river from Anunghoy to the oppo

site side is from two to three miles, being somewhat

less than it is lower down between Chuenpee and Ty


cocktow. But in the very middle of the river in this

part, are two rocky islands, called North and South

Wantung, of moderate elevation, and also aa smaller rock,

scarcely visible at high water. Hence there are two

channels up the river, one on either side of these islands ;

but that on the east side towards Anunghoy is the one

which had always been frequented by foreign ships, and

was considered to be the Bocca Tigris, or Bogue.

The passage on the western side of Wantung was not

only not frequented by Europeans, but not even known

to be navigable, until our preparations were made for

the capture of the Bogue forts, when some of our ships

passed up on that side to the attack of North Wantung.

The true Bogue, or eastern passage, is only about three

quarters of a mile wide ; the current, or rather the tide,

is very rapid, on which account ships generally prefer

keeping rather near to the Anunghoy side. Of the two

islands called Wantung, the northern is the highest and

largest, lying quite opposite Anunghoy, and was very

strongly fortified. South Wantung, the smaller island,

was not fortified by the Chinese, being not considered

by them of sufficient importance to require it. It lies

some distance lower down the river, and, looking at

their relative positions, you would hardly suppose they

were within effectual gun-shot distance from each other.

Such, however, was the case ; and the Chinese forts on

North Wantung were shelled from South Wantung by aa

small battery, constructed by a detachment of our troops

in a single night, being covered during their work

principally by the Nemesis, which ran close in shore for

that purpose, being herself sheltered by the island.


Further to obstruct the passage up the Bogue, the

Chinese had carried an immense chain, or rather a double

chain, across it, supported by large rafts from one side

to the other, one end of it being secured at Anunghoy,

and the other end being fastened into a rock near South

Wantung, which was nearly covered at high water. To

complete the account of these famous defences, it only

remains to mention another fort on the western side of

the river, nearly opposite Wantung, which was called .

Little Tycocktow, and was not of recent construction.

By the Chinese themselves these extensive works were

considered impregnable, for they had not yet experi

enced the tremendous effect of the concentrated fire of

line - of- battle ships.

Tiger Island can scarcely be said to form part of the

Bocca Tigris ; it lies nearly two miles above Wantung ;

and, although there was a considerable stone battery on

its eastern side, it was not likely to be of any service,

and the Chinese wisely abandoned it, and removed the

guns. This island, however, is a remarkable feature in

the general aspect of the river, being in reality a high

rocky mountain, cleft in two at the top, and presenting

to view several deep chasms on both sides, yet clothed

with verdure in some parts, while it is rudely broken up

in others. It is altogether a very peculiar object, al

though it cannot be said to bear much resemblance to a

tiger's head, from which it takes its name.

VOL . I. R



Keshen’s negociations — Gains courage as he gains time — General remarks

-Influence and character of the Empress — Emperor's eulogy of her

- Agitation in China — Heu Naetze's memorial — Reference to Tang

and his colleagues — Predictions of aa former Emperor — Memorials on

the opposite side - Choo Tsun and Heu Kew - Reformation of morals

-Death and funeral of the Empress — Character of the present Em



- Ascended the throne in 1820— Observations — Further re


marks on the character of Lin - English books translated for him

His letters to the Queen of England Character of his successor ,

Keshen An astute and polished courtier Severity of his punish

ment - Commencement of 1841 Hostilities - Attack on Chuenpee

and Tycocktow , on the 7th of January -- Details of forces engaged

Remarks on the action - Services of the Nemesis — Sufferings of the

wounded Chinese — Burnt by ignition of their own clothes.

The Imperial Commissioner Keshen now wisely re

solved to gain as much time as he could by negociation ;

and seemed in the first instance to have almost equalled

his predecessor Lin, in his desire “ to control the fo

reigners, and to reduce them to submission . ” His con

ferences with that functionary, who now remained at

Canton as viceroy, were numerous and confidential; but,

instead of precipitating the crisis by mad violence, he

professed to trust rather to the “ employment of truth

and the utmost reason 7” to attain his ends. But these

are mere figures of speech among the Chinese, and have


little of the nature of those principles which they are

supposed to indicate.

Keshen's cautiousness was at once shown by the in

structions which he issued respecting the nature of the

white flag, and by his enjoining that for the future the

troops were “ not rashly to open their artillery, without

first ascertaining what was the purpose of the approach

of any boat bearing such a flag .” And, moreover, that

“ they were not to provoke hostilities, by being the first

to fire on the foreign ships, nor in their desire for ho

nours to endeavour to create trouble.” Nevertheless,

he added, “ negociations are not yet settled, and the

troops must not be idly off their guard . ” On his side,

likewise, Captain Elliot was quite as anxious to avoid a

collision as Keshen himself ; and thus affairs went on

until the close of the year, without any approach what

ever to a solution of the difficulties. Keshen exhibited

a vast deal of tact and


cunning', which in fools supplies,

And amply, too, the place of being wise.”

Great as our force already was even at that period,

it does not at all seem to have intimidated Keshen, who

appeared to gain courage as he gained time. Indeed, it

could hardly be expected that the ancient barrier of

Chinese pride and self-sufficiency would crumble down

before a single blow, however strong ; and even the chief

actor in the scene himself hesitated long to strike,

when he knew that it would make an empire tremble.

But the great, the haughty, the mysterious China,

was at length destined to bend, and gradually to open

R 2


wide her portals to the proud barbarian's resistless in

tercourse. Among the important personages who con

tributed indirectly to bring about this wonderful re

sult, perhaps not the least remarkable was the Empress

herself, to whom some allusion has already been made.

Very little was heard concerning her at the time, in re

mote parts of the world , and therefore aa few additional

notices must be interesting. She must, indeed, have

been aa person of no ordinary character, who could have

raised herself, by her talents and her fascinations, to a

seat upon the throne of the Emperor of China. Her

early history is little recorded , but her influence was

secretly known and felt in almost every part of the em

pire, even before she obtained the short-lived honours of

an empress .

It is difficult to imagine how any woman , brought up

in the subordinate position which is alone allotted to

the sex in China, with the imperfect education which is

there attainable, and with all the prejudices of her early

life, and the proud assumption of superiority of the

other sex to contend against, could have had imparted

to her the peculiar tone of character which she pos

sessed. In her attempts to reform and to improve,

she never ceased to be Chinese ; indeed, she seems to

have thought that to restore what was fallen to decay

was the best kind of reform . She sought the removal

of abuse, the purification of public offices, and the im

provement of the details of administration throughout

the country. Her influence became paramount ; and

those who could not be gained by her arguments are

said to have been led by her fascinations.


The words of the Emperor's public eulogy of the em

press, after her death, will in a measure point out this

feature in her character. He declared that “ she was

overflowing with kindness to all, lovely and winning."

She held control over the hearts of those about her,

not by dint of authority, but by gentleness and forbear

ance. “ Her intercourse," he added, “ lightened for me

the burden of government, and the charm she spread

around conciliated all hearts. And now I am alone

and sad .”

It may surely be pardoned to such a person that she

had her favourites; but amongst them she reckoned

many that were talented ; and in her choice of persons

for high employment, she possessed the most valuable

of all talents to those who are called upon to exercise

their power of selection—that of distinguishing not

merely abstract merit, but of discerning those less con

spicuous qualities of the mind which constitute fitness

for office and aptitude for public distinction.

The greatest influence of the Empress seems to have

been exercised about the years 1835 and 1836, and it

was just at that period that the question was so keenly

debated, at court and elsewhere, whether opium should

be permitted, under certain modified regulations, or

whether it were possible to put an end to the traffic hy

force, and to drive the nation from its use by fear.

This was evidently the commencement of a new era in

that country, for whatever might be the result of the

debate upon this important question in the Chinese cabi

net, the effect of it was to occasion the agitation of the

subject throughout the empire . Agitation in China !


But a spirit of change had now begun to tincture

even the minds of true Chinamen , and the amiable Em

press herself became affected by, and even in a measure

encouraged, that movement. The vice-president of the

sacrificial board, by name Heu Naetze, and others,

amongst whom was reckoned also Keshen, belonged

to the immediate favourites of the Empress, and but

for that high protection it is probable that Heu Naetze

would hardly have ventured to present his famous me

morial in favour of the legalization of the opium -trade.

His chief and most important argument was, not that

it would be a good thing in itself, but that it would be

perfectly impossible to prevent it by any means the

government could adopt ; and also that foreign trade

generally was of importance to China, from the revenue

which it produced, and the employment which it gave to

the people. He showed how totally ineffectual every

increase of punishment, even to death itself, had proved,

for the prevention of the practice, which, on the con

trary , had increased tenfold ; and he then went on to

make it evident that “ when opium was purchased

secretly, it could only be exchanged with silver ; but

that, if it were permitted to be bought openly, it would

be paid for in the productions of the country.” And he

cleverly adds : “ the dread of the laws is not so great

among the people as the love of gain, which unites

them to all manner of crafty devices, so that sometimes

the law is rendered wholly ineffective. ” But he would

still prohibit all public officers, scholars, and soldiers,

from using it, under pain of instant dismissal from the

public service .


It is known that the Empress received this recommen

dation with particular favour, but the Emperor referred

it for the consideration of the crafty old Tang, the go

vernor of Canton, who was at the very time deriving a

large revenue from winking at the clandestine sale of

the drug. The answer of Tang and his colleagues was

decidedly favourable to the project. They declared

that “ the circumstances of the times rendered aa change

in the regulations necessary .” They openly admitted

that the payment of distinct duties would be far less

onerous than the payment of bribes ; that the laws

could then be administered, and would be respected ;

and that the precious metals, which were now oozing

out of the empire, would then be retained in it. They

even went so far as to say that the dignity of the go

vernment would by no means be lowered by it ; and

they further declared that the prohibition of the luxury

made it more eagerly sought for.

Here then was clearly another triumph on the Em

press's side ; and those who were opposed to her prin

ciples feared it as such, and redoubled their efforts to

produce her fall. But the recommendation did not

even stop at that point ; for it went so far as even to

encourage the cultivation and preparation of the poppy

within the empire, in order to exclude a portion of the

foreign article from the market.

One might have supposed that the influences which

were now at work to produce a better state of foreign

trade, backed by the countenance of the Empress, and

supported by the apparent neutrality of the Emperor,

would have sufficed to occasion some modification in

the existing laws.


Keshen himself, who had what is called a long head ,

though in good favour with the Empress, and influential

in the country, seems to have remained at that time

neutral upon the question in agitation. Others, how

ever, showed a bitter hostility to every change, but bit

terest of all to the whole race of foreigners. When

they could no longer argue with success against the

principles of what might be called the free -trade party,

they raked up all the smouldering ashes of deadly hos

tility to foreigners, because they were not Chinese (how

ever estimable they might otherwise be), and they ap

pealed to an old saying of the Emperor Kanghe, the

grandfather of his present Majesty, namely, “ that there

is cause for apprehension lest, in centuries to come,

China may be endangered by collision with the various

nations of the West, who come hither from beyond the

seas. Indeed it is well known that there prevailed in

China a tradition to that effect; and also another, " that

China would be conquered by a woman , in time to

come. And so generally were these two predictions

or traditions remembered during the war, that the im

pression came to prevail among many of the people,

that it would be useless to resist us, because we were

a people from the far west, and were ruled by a queen.

The two principal memorials on the opposite side of

the question have been pretty generally circulated ; one

being by Choo Tsun, a member of council and of the


Board of Rites, the other by Heu Kew, a censor of the

military department. They argued for the dignity of

the empire, and the danger “ of instability in maintain

ing the laws.” They called for increased severity of


the law itself, not only to prevent the exportation of

silver, but to arrest the enervation and destruction of

the people, and they openly declared their belief that

the purpose of the English was to weaken the people

and to ruin the central land ; and they further appealed

to all the “ luminous admonitions ” of the emperors and

others of olden days against the influence of foreigners.

Memorials also came in from many of the provinces,

particularly those along the coast, showing that even

the army had become contaminated by opium, and that

soldiers sent against the rebels in recent seditions were

found to have very little strength left, though their

numbers were large. In short, the whole of the me

morialists on the anti-importation side argued to the

effect that increased severity could stop the use of

opium, and therefore that it ought to be stopped, be

cause it tended to enervate the people, and make them

an easy prey to the foreigner, while the quantity of

silver exported enriched the latter in proportion as it

impoverished the former. Thus the hatred of opium

and detestation of the foreigner became very nearly sy


At length , when the Emperor's beloved son died from

the effects of opium in the imperial palace, then the grief

of the emperor, and the conviction of the misery pro

duced by the drug, worked upon his feelings fully as

much as upon his judgment. An attempt was made to

place the question upon moral grounds; and the Empe

ror affected on a sudden to weep for the misfortunes of

the nation , and to lament the depravity of his “ dear

children :” and his paternal heart, in the exuberance of


its benignity, determined to cut off all their heads, if

they would not mend their ways. Thus, by degrees, the

reformation of morals became the subject of agitation

quite as much as the principles of trade had been

before .

By this time, the influence of the poor Empress had

quite declined . She forgot that, in making many friends,

she had made many influential enemies. Neither her

beauty nor her talents could save her, and she fell ra

pidly from her pinnacle of power. She only lived to

share the Emperor's throne for about five or six years ;

a very short, but remarkable, reign. She could not

survive the loss of her power ; and , when her opponents

so completely recovered theirs, her proud spirit sunk

under the weight which pressed upon her..

Nothing could be more touching than the expressions

of the Emperor, published in the Pekin Gazette. He

calls her a perfect pattern of " filial piety ;" and there

fore bestows upon her the posthumous title of the “ per

fectibility of filial obedience . ” It should be here re

marked that what they call “ filial piety ” is the highest

moral attribute in the Chinese system of ethics .

The Empress died in the beginning of 1840, and was

buried with great pomp ; the whole nation was ordered

to go into mourning for a month, and the public officers

were not to shave their heads for one hundred days, as

a mark of their sorrow. Her death left the Emperor

Taoukwang surrounded by troubles and dangers in his

old age, with few about him whom he could trust,, and

none to comfort him in his difficulties. She left two or

three young children . But he had six children by his


former wife, of whom nearly all, or, it is believed, more

than half, have died .

The Emperor was born on the 20th September, 1782 ,

and is therefore upwards of sixty-one years old . He

ascended the throne in 1820. The troubles and conti

nual disturbances which have marked his reign, the fre

quent rebellions and disorders which have long been the

constant theme of his animadversions in the Pekin Ga

zette, may perhaps be considered less as the result of

his own measures than as the marking features of the

present era in Chinese history. He ascended the throne

when disorders were almost at their height, and when a

conspiracy had already broken out in his father's palace.

Indeed, he was expressly selected by his father to be his

successor (although not the eldest, but the second son),

because he had on a former occasion distinguished him

self by his energy and success in crushing a traitorous

attempt within the palace.

The Emperor appears to be an amiable but weak

man, well intentioned towards his people, sensible of

the difficulties of his country, but, at the same time,

blinded and misinformed by the favourites about him,

and retaining too many early prejudices to be able tho

roughly to cope with all the difficulties which have

from time to time beset him.

The next most important character who figured at

the period which has been already alluded to was Com

missioner Lin, of whom so much has been said. The

principal features of his character have been already

delineated. He is described as having been stout in

person, with a vivacious but not unpleasant manner,


unless highly excited ; with a keen, dark, penetrat

ing eye, which seemed to indicate that he could as

sume two opposite characters, according as it might

suit his interest or his ambition. He had aa clear, dis

tinct voice, and is said to have rarely smiled. His

countenance indicated a mind habituated to care. In

the course of his proceedings at Canton, he seems never

to have permitted himself to adopt the character of a

“ negociator," but invariably to have assumed that of a


“ dictator," which was more natural to him. His word

was law . He was not dismayed by sudden difficulties,

and appears to have been quite sincere in all his wishes

to arrest the progress of the evils he complained of, and

to reform the morals of the people. With this object,

he closed all the gaming-houses at Canton, which were

as numerous as the opium-shops, or more so, and were

generally maintained in conjunction with the latter ; so

much do vices court each other's company .

In reality, Lin feared the foreigners as much as he

hated them. But the intercourse he now had with them

led him to value their knowledge more highly, and pro

bably he knew full well that knowledge is power. He

had portions of English works translated for his own

use, such as Thelwall's pamphlet against opium, Mur

ray’s geography (parts), &c.; and he had in his employ

three or four young Chinamen, who knew something of

English, and of English habits, having visited the straits'

settlements, and one of them the United States. His

scheme of writing to the Queen of England was certainly

remarkable, and his two letters were curious documents

in themselves ; perfect models of the bombastic style,


yet, withal, not altogether destitute of specious sayings.

The following specimens of the former will here suffice.

He says, “The powerful instrumentality whereby the

celestial court holds in subjection all nations is truly

divine and awe-inspiring ! ” He then takes care to add

that “ the English had on various occasions sent tribute

(alluding probably to the presents of Lord Macartney

and Lord Amherst ), and that it was entirely owing to

the emperor's benevolence that England had become so

great and flourishing as it is said to be !"

Lin was by no means wanting in energy to meet the

great crisis which he had contributed so much to pro

duce. In addition to the enlisting of troops, the prepa

ration of defences, the casting of guns, building of fire

vessels and gun -boats, &c., he directed that many pas

sages of the river should be blocked up with stones, and

others staked across with piles.. When, at length, he

received the reproof of the Emperor, written with the

vermilion pencil, he stated in reply, “ that prostrate he

had beat his head upon the ground, oppressed with

shame and grief.” A year has passed, he adds, and yet

the opium is not excluded ; he confesses his inability,

and begs that his master will visit him with the heaviest

punishment, that his incapacity may be a warning to

others. It is .a remarkable circumstance that he dis

tinctly declares that Captain Elliot had petitioned him

to receive the opium, and adds, in proof of it, that he

possesses the original petition, written in English and

Chinese. But, whether true or not, he omits to tell his

master that he already had Captain Elliot, and all the

254 KESHEN .

foreign community, secure within his grasp , and had re

fused them not only food , but even water.

In short, Lin was a bold, uncompromising, and spe

cious man . He tried to console the Emperor, by assur

ing him that he was quite certain that, along the northern

coast, sickness and cold would carry off all the barbarian

forces, even if the want of food, and the exhaustion of

their powder and shot, did not reduce them to extremi

ties. He never once alluded to any probability of being

able to beat off the barbarians in fair fight.

With regard to his successor, Keshen , who next came

upon the stage of public life, his character will be bet

ter developed as we proceed. But it is worth while here

to remark , that Keshen appears to have been one of the

few about the court who began to apprehend serious

consequences from Lin's measures. He had always been

cautious in committing himself, and though no friend of

the foreigners, he had feared their power, and felt the

weakness of his own country, as well as the necessity of

trying some other measures than those means hitherto

employed, to put a stop to the perpetual disturbances

which took place in several parts of the empire, and

threatened rebellion even within the capital.

Keshen was an astute courtier, a polished and well

mannered man, and all those who were present at either

of his two interviews with Captain Elliot were struck

with his courteous and gentlemanlike manner. Although

he made every preparation for resistance, he seems to

have thought he could gain more by diplomacy, and he

resolved to take advantage of the disposition for nego

ciation rather than dictation on Captain Elliot's part,


to play his cards with tact and cunning, in the hope of

gaining time. But he saw his weakness, and the

impossibility of contending with success against our

forces, and, having distinctly reported thereon to the

Emperor, he was, of course, set down as a coward, and ,

consequently, as a traitor. He had the boldness to tell

the Emperor the actual weakness of his strongest points

of defence ; whereas, Lin only stated how much stronger

they would have been , had the government made it a

rule to have devoted ten per cent. of the whole customs'

revenue of Canton to the improvement of their means

of defence, the building of ships, and the casting of

cannon .

In one thing, however, Lin and Keshen were both of

a mind—namely, as to the importance of the foreign

trade of Canton to the imperial revenue. They ven

tured to correct the Emperor's notion that the customs'


duties of Canton were unimportant, and not worth a

thought, ” by telling him that they “ already ”” produced

upwards of thirty millions of taels, or ten millions

sterling, and that, as the revenue of Canton far exceeded

that of any other province, a portion of this conside

rable sum, which was obtained from foreigners, should

have been applied to defending themselves against fo


Much has at various times been said about Keshen's

? If Lin was correct in saying that the revenues derived from foreign

trade for the Emperor's chest amounted to ten millions sterling, how

enormous must have been the whole revenues paid by that trade, when

we know that the imperial revenues scarcely formed a third of what was

actually paid in various ways !


treachery and bad faith . But it will be seen as we proceed

that he was driven into these acts by the distinct orders

of the Emperor, and that keeping faith with us was to be

viewed as treachery to his master. Indeed, the severity

of Keshen's punishment at the Emperor's hands proves

not so much how ill be served his master, as how unfor

tunate he was in having a much more profound head

than Lin, in being able to see further into futurity, and

to catch the shadows of coming events ; in short, how

much too far in advance of his countrymen he was, in

being able to appreciate their position in the face of the

foreigner, and how unfortunate in presuming to attempt

to ward off the dreaded blow by timely concession.

Without venturing to anticipate further the remarkable

points in Keshen's career, which will be better developed

as we proceed , we may now turn our attention to the

interesting events of the year 1841 .

We have already seen that there was little probabi

lity, at the close of 1840, of any satisfactory arrange

ment being made between Keshen and Captain Elliot

without a resort to arms. Accordingly, all prepara

tions were completed ; and, the first week in January

having passed without any nearer prospect of a settle

ment, although repeated opportunities had been given

to Keshen to arrange matters amicably, as had been

proposed at the conference at Trentsin , orders were at

length issued for the immediate resumption of hostili

ties. The morning of the 7th of January, 1841 , was

the period fixed on for the attack upon the forts at

Chuenpee and Tycocktow, being the lowest, or, in other

words, the first, you approach in ascending the river.


The object was to reduce the whole of the famous de

fences of the Bogue one after the other, and, if neces

sary, to destroy them. It will be seen, however, that a


considerable pause occurred before they were all at last


The plan of attack upon Chuenpee, and the forts on

the opposite side of the river at Tycocktow , was as fol

lows, under the direction of Commodore Sir Gordon

Bremer, who, it will be remembered , had become com

mander-in-chief upon the retirement of Rear- Admiral

the Honourable George Elliot, in consequence of severe

illness. The troops, comprising detachments of the

26th and 49th regiments, (the greater part of which

were with their head-quarters at Chusan) under Major

Johnstone of the 26th , together with the whole of the

37th Madras Native Infantry, under Captain Duff of

that regiment, and a detachment of the Bengal Volun

teers, under Captain Bolton, were to embark on board

the Enterprise and Madagascar steamers by eight o'clock

in the morning, to be conveyed to the point of debarka

tion, which was selected about two miles and a half

below Chuenpee, to the southward, where they were to

be landed in boats. The Nemesis took on board a large

portion of the 37th . A battalion of royal marines,

upwards of five hundred strong, under Captain Ellis,

were to be landed in the boats of their respective ships ;

while a body of seamen under Lieutenant Wilson, of the

Blenheim, were also to join the landing force. A small

detachment of the royal artillery was to be under the

command of Captain Knowles, R. A. , having under

him the Honourable C. Spencer ; and one twenty -four

VOL . I. S


pounder howitzer, with two six-pounder guns, one

from the Wellesley, and one from the Melville, were to

be landed , together with thirty seamen, to be attached

to them for the purpose of placing them in position ;

also fifteen men from the Blenheim were to be em

ployed in the rocket and ammunition service.

In front of the Chinese entrenchments there was a

ridge, by which in a manner they were commanded, and

upon the crest of this the guns were to be placed.

While this was being done, strong covering parties were

to be pushed in advance, and to act according to cir

cumstances, waiting for the effect of the fire from the

guns, as well as from the ships, which were to be placed

in the best positions for silencing the batteries.

The whole of the force on shore was under the com

mand of Major Pratt, of the Cameronians, and com

prised altogether about one thousand five hundred men .

As regards the naval force engaged, it was ordered

that the Queen and Nemesis steamers should proceed to

take up a position within good shelling distance, ac


Non-com, officers

and privates.

Royal artillery, under command of Captain Knowles, Royal

Artillery ......... 33

Seamen, under Lieutenant Wilson, of H. M. S. Blenheim ... 137

Detachments of the 26th and 49th regiments, under Major

Johnstone, of the 26th regiment 104

Royal marine battalion, under Captain Ellis, ofthe Wellesley 504

37th Madras Native Infantry, under Captain Duff, 37th N. I. 607

Detachment of Bengal Volunteers, under Captain Bolton ... 76


together with thirty seamen attached to the guns.


cording as the depth of water would permit ; and at

once to commence firing into the fort upon the summit

of the hill. Having rendered this post untenable, and

having watched the advance of the troops, which might

be selected to take possession of it, they were then im

mediately to attack the lower fort, along the shore near

the northern point, if it should not have been already

abandoned or carried. Meanwhile, the fire from the fort

above, by this time expected to be in possession of a

portion of our troops, was also to be turned in the same

direction ; and , when the enemy should be driven out,

they were to be “ dealt with ” by the remaining part of

the troops .

The Madagascar and Enterprise steamers, as soon as

they had landed their troops, were to join the division

under Captain (now Sir Thomas) Herbert, in the Cal

liope, having with him the Larne, Captain Blake, and

the Hyacinth, Captain Warren. They were directed to

proceed to attack the batteries, towards the northern

extremity, as well as in front, and to be prepared to

proceed to capture some of the numerous war -junks,

which were seen at anchor at the bottom of Anson's

Bay. The two steamers above mentioned were also to

hold themselves in readiness to go alongside any ship

that might chance to require their services.

Captain Belcher, of the Sulphur surveying vessel,

was to take upon himself the general charge of the

steamers in the first instance, so far as concerned “ the

placing them in a position already ascertained by him ; "

which , probably, referred to the position to be taken up

s 2


for shelling the upper fort, as well as to the point of

debarkation for the troops.

Such , then , was the plan of attack upon Chuenpee ;

that of Tycocktow will follow better when the account

of the Chuenpee action is completed.

The landing and re - embarkation of the forces was

under the direction of Lieutenant Symons, of the Wel

lesley, and the whole of it was conducted with great

regularity. The landing of any considerable body of

troops is always an exciting scene ; but now for the first

time in the history of China, if we except the trifling

affair at the barrier at Macao, European troops were


about to meet in battle the sons of the “ flowery nation,”

upon the very soil of the “ Celestial Empire.” Nor

did the Chinese shrink from the contest in the first in

stance, for they had yet to learn the irresistible power

of European warfare, and the destructive efficacy of

European weapons.

The leading troops were the royal marines and the

royal artillery, the guns being dragged along by the

blue jackets. The road lay through a winding valley for

nearly the distance of a couple of miles, until it led to

a transverse ridge, from which the whole of the Chinese

works could be viewed, consisting of a strong entrenched

camp, flanked by small field -batteries of recent and hasty

construction, and connected with the Hill Fort above,

by a high breastwork continued up the hill towards it.

The object of the Chinese was evidently to protect the

rear of the fort, which was plainly the key of the posi

tion . In the rear of their field - batteries were deep

trenches for giving shelter to their men from our shot,


and the Chinese could be seen lining the works, and

waving their flags in defiance.

The guns of the royal artillery were soon in position

upon the ridge, and began firing with great precision

into the entrenched camp ; while an advanced party of

the royal marines, crossing the shoulder of the hill to the

right, drove the Chinese speedily from it ; and , then

descending into the valley beyond, came upon a second

encampment, with a small field - battery, which was soon

cleared . A detachment of the 37th M. N. Infantry had

also been sent further round to the right of the advance,

where they encountered the Chinese in some force.

While all these operations were going on, The Queen

and the Nemesis steamers ( the latter having first rapidly

disembarked her portion of the 37th, with the main body

of the force) took up a position within good shelling

distance of the Hill Fort. The Nemesis, from her light

draught of water, was enabled to take up her station

inside The Queen, and both vessels commenced throwing

shell with great precision into the fort, much to the

astonishment of the Chinese, who were unacquainted

with this engine of destruction .

Captain Hall had on this occasion, as on several sub

sequent ones, the able assistance, as a gunnery officer, of

Mr. Crouch, one of the mates of the Wellesley, who was >

permitted to serve for a time on board the Nemesis.

* In the official report of Captain Belcher, and on a subsequent occasion ,

it is stated, by mistake, that Mr. Crouch was serving on board The Queen.

This active young officer well deserved the promotion which he soon

obtained. He was unfortunately wounded at the close of the war, at

Chin -Keang -Foo.


The Chinese could not long withstand the fire of the

68-pounder of The Queen, and the two 32 -pounder pivot

guns of the Nemesis, the shells from which could be

seen bursting within the walls of the fort.

At the same time, on the land-side, the principal

entrenched camp bad by this time been carried by the

main body of the troops, and, twenty -five minutes after

the shelling of the fort had commenced, the British flag

was seen waving upon its top, and the firing ceased .

Major Pratt himself, with only two marines, had been

the first to run up the hill and reach the fort; upon

which the Chinese, seeing that they were pressed behind

as well as before, abandoned the fort in great confusion ,

leaving Major Pratt and his followers in possession of

this most important position, upon which the British

flag was hoisted by a royal marine.

The Nemesis, as soon as this was perceived, hastened

on to join the ships of war, (the Calliope, Larne, and

Hyacinth ) which had taken up their positions nearly

within musket-shot of the lower batteries, and were

doing great execution. The works were, however, con

structed of strong material, comprising large blocks of

the composition called chunam , very much resembling

stone, but less fragile. The Nemesis came up just in

time to pour in several discharges of grape and canister

from both the pivot-guns, and had then to witness one

of the most dreadful spectacles of war. The Chinese in

the battery had already been assailed by our troops from

the fort above ; and now a party of the royal marines,

and the 37th M. N. I., which had previously cleared the


second camp in the valley behind, were seen coming


round the hill, ready to pounce upon them as they

attempted to escape out of the fort. The unfortunate

men were thus hemmed in on all sides ; and, being un

acquainted with the humane practice of modern warfare,

of giving and receiving quarter, they abandoned them

selves to the most frantic despair.

Now were to be seen some of those horrors of war

which, when the excitement of the moment is over, and

the interest as well as danger of strategic maneuvres are

at an end, none can remember without regret and pain.

The Chinese, not accepting quarter, though attempting

to escape, were cut up by the fire of our advancing

troops ; others, in the faint hope of escaping what to

them appeared certain death at the hands of their vic

tors, precipitated themselves recklessly from the top of

the battlements ; numbers of them were now swimming

in the river, and not a few vainly trying to swim, and

sinking in the effort ; some few , however, perhaps a

hundred, surrendered themselves to our troops, and were

soon afterwards released. Many of the poor fellows

were unavoidably shot by our troops, who were not only

warmed with the previous fighting, but exasperated be

cause the Chinese had fired off their matchlocks at them

first, and then threw them away, as if to ask for quarter ;

under these circumstances, it could not be wondered at

that they suffered . Some again barricaded themselves

within the houses of the fort, a last and desperate effort;

and, as several of our soldiers were wounded by their

spears, death and destruction were the consequence.

The slaughter was great ; nor could it be easily con

trolled when the men were irritated by the protracted


and useless attacks which were made upon them from

behind walls and hiding-places, even after the British

flag was hoisted. It is wonderful that the casualties

among the men were not more numerous.

The commandant of the fort was killed at the head of

his men ; and it is related that his son, as soon as he

found that his father was dead, resolving not to survive

him, and being unable to avenge his death, jumped into

the sea, in spite of all remonstrance, and was drowned .

Those who have witnessed the individual bravery, be

it courage or be it despair, frequently exhibited by the

Chinese during the war, in almost every encounter, will

be slow to stamp them as a cowardly people, however

inefficient they may be as fighting men in armed bodies,

against European discipline and modern weapons.

The most painful of all the scenes on this occasion

was that of the bodies of men burnt perhaps to death

when wounded .

It is well known that the bow and arrow is the fa

vourite weapon of the Tartar troops, upon the dexterous

use of which they set the highest claim to military dis

tinction. The spear also, of various forms and fashions,

is a favourite weapon both of Tartars and Chinese ; but

the matchlock, which in all respects very nearly resem

bles some of the old European weapons of the same name,

except that the bore is generally somewhat smaller, is

of much more modern introduction, and by no means

so much in favour with the Chinese ; this is occasioned

principally by the danger arising from the use of the

powder, in the careless way in which they carry it.

They have a pouch in front, fastened round the body,


and the powder is contained loose in a certain number

of little tubes inside the pouch, not rolled up like our


Of course, every soldier has to carry a match or port

fire to ignite the powder in the matchlock when loaded.

Hence, when a poor fellow is wounded and falls, the

powder, which is very apt to run out of his pouch over

his clothes, is very likely to be ignited by his own match,

and in this way he may either be blown up at once, or

else his clothes may be ignited ; indeed, it is not impos

sible that the match itself may be sufficient to produce

this effect ; it is therefore not surprising that they should

regard the matchlock with some little apprehension.

At Chuenpee, many bodies were found after the action

not only scorched, but completely burnt, evidently from

the ignition of the powder ; although it is to be hoped

that many of these were dead before their clothes caught


In one of the latest encounters during the war, at

Chapoo, where a few of the Tartars defended themselves

so desperately in a house in which they had taken re

fuge, they were seen stripping themselves altogether, in

order to escape the effect of the fire upon their combus

tible clothes when the building was in flames ; and many

other instances of a similar kind were noticed during the

war .

With respect to the attack upon the fort at Tycock

tow, on the opposite side of the river, the Nemesis was

not concerned in that part of the operations of the 7th

January. The force employed on that service was placed

under the orders of Captain Scott, ofthe Samarang, 26 ;


and consisted , in addition to that vessel, of the Druid,

44, Captain Smith ; the Modeste, 18, Commander Eyres;

and Columbine, 16, Commander Clarke. Captain Scott

was directed to proceed to attack the forts upon Tycock

tow, and to dismantle them, spiking the guns, and de


stroying the forts as much as possible ; after which, he

was to take up a convenient position in reference to

the expected operations against the proper Bogue forts

higher up.

Captain Scott led the way gallantly in the Samarang,

without returning the fire of the Chinese, until he dropped

anchor within cable's length of the middle of the fort.

The Modeste, Druid, and Columbine came up almost

directly after, and then commenced the terrific thunder

of artillery, which soon sufficed to shatter the walls, and

to make a breach, through which the seamen and marines,

which were landed from the ships, soon carried the fort

by storm . The Chinese fled in all directions up the hill,

but not without witnessing, to their cost, the deadly

effect of our musketry upon their confused bodies ; nor

did they yield without shewing some instances of bold

personal courage.

The attack through the breach was led by Lieutenant

Bowers, first lieutenant of the Samarang, who received

a sabre cut across the knee ; which shews that the Chi

nese did not run away without first coming to close

quarters ; their loss, however, was considerable. The

guns in the fort were all spiked , and then thrown into

the sea ; the magazines and other buildings were set on

fire (the wounded having been first removed) ; but it

was not thought necessary to pursue the Chinese further.


As soon as these operations had been completed , the

whole of the party which had landed, comprising the


boats' crews of all the ships engaged , returned on board .

Part of them had proceeded to attack the northern end

of the fort, namely, those of the Druid and Columbine,

and were commanded by Lieutenant Goldsmith, (since

promoted ) and great praise was given to all the officers

and men concerned, for their gallantry and good conduct.

The number of guns destroyed was twenty -five ; those

which were captured at Chuenpee amounted altogether

to sixty -six pieces, of various calibre, including those

in the entrenchments, as well as those upon the upper

and lower forts. Many of the guns, however, were not

mounted, shewing that the preparations for defence had

not been completed ; some were only 6 -pounders, but

a great portion of the remainder were about equal to

our own 12-pounder guns. Of course, they were all

rendered unserviceable.

The operations of this day have not yet, however, been

all described. So far as relates to Chuenpee and

Tycocktow , little remains to be added , except that the

killed and wounded, on the part of the land force, on

our side, amounted to thirty ; and on that of the naval

force, to eight men and officers. But the destruction

of the war -junks in Anson's Bay also formed part of the

feats of this day ; and, as it more particularly relates to

the Nemesis, it shall be reserved for a separate chapter.



Destruction of Chinese squadron in Anson's Bay — Nemesis and boats

Description of Chinese position River at the bottom of the bay -

Explosion of a junk — Chinese trying to escape Junks abandoned

and set on fire — Nemesis proceeds up the river Captures two more


junks at a town - Killed and wounded on the 7th January – Number

of guns taken - Admiral Kwan loses his button of rank—New Chinese

boarding -nettings -·Novel application - Description of new kinds of

war -junks — With English guns - Wheeled boats Orders of the

Emperor to build ships on European models — Official report of the

actions to the Emperor by Keshen - Degradation of Admiral Kwan

New plans to destroy the English ships — Preparations to attack the

Bogue forts — Disappointment — Truce - Cession of Hong Kong -

Restoration of the forts — Remarks on Captain Elliot's measures -


Troops ordered to withdraw from Chusan .

The total destruction of the Chinese squadron of

war-junks, on the day of the action of Chuenpee ( 7th

January ), under the orders of Admiral Kwan, completed

the discomfiture of the Chinese by sea and by land.

The engagement took place in Anson's Bay, which has

already been described as lying between Chuenpee and

Anunghoy. The Nemesis here took aa most distinguished

part ; and some of the boats of the Calliope, Hyacinth,

Larne, Sulphur, and Starling, co-operated with her in

the action, in which Lieutenants Watson and Harrison ,

and other officers of the Calliope and Larne, deservedly

won their laurels .


At the bottom of Anson's Bay was the entrance of a

small river, unknown until now, having a small island

at its mouth, somewhat on the Chuenpee side . Within

this, and in a measure protracted by a sand-bar which

ran out from it, lay the Chinese fleet of about fifteen

war-junks, moored in a good position in shallow water,

so as to prevent the near approach of our ships. Direc

tions had been given to Captain Herbert, of the Cal

liope, to make arrangements for the attack of these

war-junks, as soon as the defences on Chuenpee should

have fallen . The moment, therefore, that it was per

ceived on board the Nemesis, as she ran up towards the

lower battery, and poured in her grape and canister, that

the upper fort had fallen, and that the lower one could

not longer hold out, she hastened, without a moment's

delay, to the attack of the enemy's squadron. Full

steam was set on, without waiting to see what other

measures might be taken elsewhere to effect the object.

In her anxiety to secure the post of honour, the

Nemesis rounded the point of Chuenpee a little too

close, and struck rather heavily upon a rocky reef run

ning out some distance from it, but upon which it was

thought that there was still water enough to enable her

to float safely. She did indeed pass over it, but not

without striking ; but her iron frame did not hang upon

it as a wooden one would probably have done, and she

proceeded, without even stopping her engines. That

the force of the blow however was considerable, and

would probably have seriously damaged a wooden vessel,

is shown by the fact of her having the outer paddle

ring of one of the wheels broken, together with two of


the long arms attached to it. It is evident that a blow

which would cause such injury to iron would have

done much more serious damage to wood .

About this time, Captain Belcher, of the Sulphur,

joined her, with two of his ship's boats, anxious to par

take of the honour of the affair. A few of the Sulphur's

seamen also came on board . As she pushed along, she

was also reinforced by Lieutenant Kellett, of the Star

ling, who brought his gig, or whale-boat, and sub

sequently did good service, by occasionally pointing

the foremost gun of the Nemesis, at his own request,

with great precision.

As they approached the position in which the Chinese

junks were drawn up, it was easily perceived that it had

been well chosen, with scarcely more than five feet

water round the vessels, and that, in fact, they could

not be attacked in front, except by boats. However,

the Nemesis, having the great advantage of drawing

less than six feet water, was able to approach near

enough to bring her two 32-pounder pivot-guns to bear

within good range. Just at this moment also a large

boat, or pinnace, of the Larne, was observed, making its

way round the outside of the little island, with a view

to cut off the junks in the rear.

The boldness of this maneuvre, under the command

of Lieutenant Harrison, was much admired ; and, in

deed, the dashing way in which many similar attacks

were made on other occasions during the war took the

Chinese by surprise, and struck them with a wholesome

terror, even before they came to close quarters.

One of the most formidable engines of destruction


which any vessel, particularly a steamer, can make use

of is the congreve rocket, a most terrible weapon when

judiciously applied, especially where there are com

bustible materials to act upon. The very first rocket

fired from the Nemesis was seen to enter the large junk

against which it was directed, near that of the admiral,

and almost the instant afterwards it blew up with a

terrific explosion, launching into eternity every soul on

board, and pouring forth its blaze like the mighty rush

of fire from a volcano . The instantaneous destruction

of the huge body seemed appalling to both sides en

gaged . The smoke, and flame, and thunder of the

explosion, with the broken fragments falling round, and

even portions of dissevered bodies scattering as they

fell, were enough to strike with awe, if not with fear,

the stoutest heart that looked upon it.

It is related that, at the battle of the Nile, when the

French Admiral's ship, L'Orient, blew up, both ofthe

fiercely -fighting foes paused in horror at the dread

ful catastrophe, and neither side renewed the fight for

at least ten minutes afterwards. So here, also, although

the explosion was far less violent, and the contending

parties comparatively trifling in number, and far less

excited by the contest, there was a momentary pause ;

the very suddenness of the catastrophe added something

to the awe and rejoicing, combined, which it excited.

The rocket had penetrated into the magazine of the

junk , or had ignited some of the loose powder too often

scattered carelessly about the decks by the Chinese

gunners. They naturally felt that the same fate might

readily befall any of the other junks ; and, after some


discharges of round shot had been thrown into the

nearest junks ( four of them were afterwards found

lodged in the admiral's junk), their crews were ob

served endeavouring to escape on shore, some upon the

little island, and others upon Chuenpee ; while, at the

same time, the junks were all cut away by those remain

ing on board, in order that they might drift on shore,

and enable the rest to escape .

The Chinese hauled down their colours on board their

junks at about half -past eleven, but continued firing

afterwards. At about twelve o'clock, the boats of the

Nemesis, in company with the others which were pre

sent, put off to board the junks. Only two of the

smaller ones succeeded in getting away up a small

branch of the river, while two more escaped, for the

moment, up another principal branch to a large town,

but were subsequently captured.

Some of the junks drifted on shore ; and, as there

could be no utility in saving them, they were all suc

cessively set on fire, by order of Captain Belcher, and

ultimately blew up. In some of the junks which were

not yet quite abandoned by their crews, the poor

Chinamen, as the English sailors boarded them on one

side, rushed wildly over on the opposite one, or let

themselves down by the stern-chains, clinging to the

ship’s rudder. Others, as the fire gained upon their junk,

retreated before it, and continued hanging to the yet

untouched portions of it, until the flames advancing upon

them rapidly, they were obliged to throw water over

their own bodies, to enable them to bear the intense

heat, still desperately clinging to their fate, more from


fear of ill-treatment, if they should be taken prisoners,

than from any rational hope of being saved. In many

instances, they would not be saved ; in others they could

not, and were destroyed as their junk blew up . In fact,

they all appeared completely panic -struck ; to which the

sudden explosion of the first junk by the rocket con

tributed not a little.

On the following day, the principal part of the guns

were recovered, altogether upwards of eighty in number,

of which eight or ten were handsome brass Portuguese

guns 6, 9 , and 12 -pounders. One of these was, a few

days afterwards, presented to Captain Hall by the offi

cers and crew of the ship under his command , together

with a letter signed by them all, in which he was


requested to accept it from them , as “ a mark of their

remembrance of the coolness and judgment which he

had shown throughout that day. ” It would be needless

to say that their coolness and gallantry were also well

remembered by their commander himself.

Altogether, eleven junks were destroyed on the spot.

Scarcely had this duty been completed by the different

boats engaged, when the Nemesis hastened on up the

river, and, at the distance of about three miles, came

upon a large town , where she found two war-junks

moored close to the shore, but abandoned by their

crews . The consternation of the people was extreme;

they were seen running away from the town in all di

rections ; the surrounding hills were crowded with the

anxious and astonished gazers, wondering what was

going to happen next ; never, of course, having either

seen or heard of a “ devil ship ” before, and well know

VOL . I. T


ing that her visit could only be a hostile one. It was

enough that they had already heard of the total destruc

tion of their fleet at the river's mouth . The place was

not at all fortified, not a shot being fired on either side.

The tide was now beginning to fall, and, as the water

was not deep, and the bar would soon become impassable,

and the day was already far advanced, it was thought

better to return, without exploring the river higher up.

Accordingly, taking in tow the two junks, the Nemesis

again descended the river ; but one of the junks getting

aground on the bar, at the entrance, was obliged to be

left behind, while the other was taken safely down, and

soon after five p. m. the Nemesis joined the squadron

off Chuenpee, and received the thanks of the commo

dore for the services she had rendered during the day.

She had received no important damage, the paddle-box

only having been injured by a well -directed shot from

one of the junks.

The burning of the junks was a service by no means

unattended with danger to those employed in it ; for,

the guns on board, many of them being still loaded,

went off as soon as the fire reached them, threatening

to do serious damage to the Nemesis as she passed near.

It must have been a fine sight for the troops who

were in possession of Chuenpee, to witness from the top

of the hill the encounter with, and total destruction of,

this fleet; the numerous burning masses, and the loud

explosions as they blew up ; with the boats pulling

about among them , lighted by the glare of the fires :

all this, added to the excitement which always attends

the being a looker-on while others are actors in deeds


of danger, must have formed a most animating spec

tacle . The scenery about Anson's Bay is moreover

bold and picturesque, and the limited space in which

the affair took place must have added something to the

interest it awakened . For several days after the event

fragments of the broken wrecks were seen strewed along

the beach, and it was some time before even the indus

trious and economical Chinese could muster resolution

to pick them up.

To the Chinese this had been in all respects a most

disastrous day. Their stone walls and their wooden

walls had been alike destroyed. And, although they

might before have dreaded us by sea, they had never

until now had an opportunity of testing the power of

Europeans on land. The soil of their forefathers had

now been defiled by the hostile tread of what they were

pleased to call the “ red barbarians ;" their defences

were destroyed, their troops dispersed, and the spell of

their unapproachable seclusion broken. All the “ spe

cial favours ” and “ compassionate forbearance ” which

the tender-hearted benevolence of the great emperor

had hitherto conferred upon the “ barbarian” in words

were now thrown back upon him in cannon - balls, and

the proud victor's conscious power now stood front to

front with the still prouder emperor's unconscious


On this day, the 7th January, 1841 , the native In

dian troops and the Royal Marines constituted con

siderably more than two-thirds of the whole force em

ployed on shore.

The loss of many hundred killed and wounded on the

T 2


Chinese side, with something less than forty wounded

and none killed on our side, shows rather that the Chi

nese were deficient in proper weapons to match their

foes, than wanting in personal bravery to meet them in

the fight.. And, as they were not yet acquainted with

the European mode of sparing an unresisting enemy ,

they suffered great loss from unsupported and useless

resistance , when timely submission would have saved

many lives . They exasperated our troops without a

chance of benefitting themselves .

The Chinese admiral, the fine old Kwan, lost the red

ball or button of his cap, the emblem of his rank, during

the encounter with the junks . It was reported that he

wished to meet his death at the hands of his foe, and was

with some difficulty borne off by his attendants; but this

fate was reserved for him on a future occasion, and he

showed himself a chivalrous and brave man . The loss

of his ball or button , which has certain marks upon it

which probably indicate that it is conferred by imperial

favour as an emblem of rank, seemed naturally to occa

sion him the greatest possible anxiety and trouble. He,

in fact, made application for it to be returned to him,

if it chanced to have been found ; and it is gratifying

to know that, through the intervention of Captain Elliot,

her Majesty's plenipotentiary, it was recovered and ge

nerously restored to him .

The total number of guns taken or rendered unser

viceable during the operations of this day, ashore and

afloat, amounted to one hundred and seventy -three

pieces, including eighty-two in the junks, of which a

few were brass, but mostly of small calibre.


As mention has now particularly been made of junks,

as a name for Chinese vessels, we may take this oppor

tunity, while the Nemesis is quietly at anchor with the

ships under Captain Herbert for the night, to say a few

words upon these curious vessels .

The junks with which the Nemesis was engaged in

Anson's Bay were provided with quite a new sort of

boarding-nettings, if they can be so called. Probably

old Admiral Kwan , whose reputation as a seaman was

not very great, had heard that English ships of war were

sometimes provided with nets when going into action ;

and, therefore, without knowing very well what

might be the purpose of them, he determined to have

them likewise. But, alas ! he made aa sad mistake con

cerning the object for which they were intended . He

very naturally thought, that, in the position which he

had taken up in shallow water, only the boats of the

squadron could come close to him, and he hit upon the

bright notion of trying to catch them with his nets, just

as a poacher catches his sleeping game by throwing a

net over them. A number of strong fishing-nets were

fastened all round the sides of the junks, not extended

so as to impede any one trying to get on board, but

triced up outside over each of the guns, in such a way ,

that, when our boats should come alongside, the nets

were to be thrown over them, men and all ; and thus

our jolly tars, of course, as he imagined , struck power

less with fear, were to be caught like hares in their

form , and handed over with great facility to the tender

mercies of the emperor .

Certainly this scheme had the merit of novelty and


ingenuity, but, unfortunately for Kwan, men were not


hares or rabbits.. No sooner did the guns of the Neme

sis open fire, than the nets were all forgotten in their

fear of the shot and the rockets ; and, long before the

boats could get alongside, the defenders and men

catchers were glad to be off, to avoid being themselves


All Chinese vessels of whatever description, except

their smaller boats of various kinds, with or without

sails (of the latter there are very few ), are called by

Europeans junks. They vary in size, the largest of

them sometimes measuring as much as eight hundred

tons . A more unwieldy-looking machine, or one less

calculated for efficient service at sea, than the old

fashioned junks, can scarcely be conceived. Although,

since the commencement of the war, they have gradu

ally improved them very much in the fashion of the

hull, and have taken the grand step of beginning a

change of some sort or other, still the masts and sails,

and all that appertains to the rigging of a vessel, are

very little different from what they have hitherto been .

It should be noticed, that the boats and smaller rig

ged vessels of the Chinese are generally very much su

perior to their large junks in form and convenience of

arrangement,, and often sail very well. The family to

whom the boat belongs lives entirely on board , and, for

the combined purposes for which their boats are gene

rally used, perhaps no arrangement could be better

adapted for making the most of a limited space ; and

they are, moreover, kept remarkably clean.

The war-junks are of different sizes, and have guns

WAR - JUNKS . 279

varying in number from four to fourteen, and even more,

mounted upon them, of various calibre, some of foreign

make, but principally Chinese. The smaller junks are

also adapted for oars or sweeps, of which they sometimes

can work as many as twenty on either side. The crew

are further provided with a great number of spears,

swords, matchlocks, and frequently large jingals, not

unlike our duck - guns, fitted with a rest upon the bul

warks of the vessel, so as to give the power of taking a

steady aim. There are generally a large number of

round shields on board, made in a saucer-like fashion,

and about two and a half to three feet in diameter.

They are composed of ratans, or canes, strongly twisted

or woven in together, and are so elastic, that it would

be very difficult to cut through them with a sword ; and

even a musket-ball fired from a long distance, and hit

ting them at all in a slanting direction, would be turned

off. They are usually hung all round the bulwarks,

resting upon the top and outside of them , giving a very

striking appearance .

A large junk puts put one very much in mind of

one of the old Roman galleys, only less efficiently

constructed for venturing away from land, and not un

frequently gaudily ornamented with green and yellow

colours. Several improvements have been adopted by

the Chinese since the commencement of the war. They

had constructed a number of gun-boats for the defence of

the river higher up, upon Europeon models ; and, towards

the close of the war, they built one or two large junks,

which they called frigates, with great improvements in

shape and general arrangement, and regular port-holes


for the guns on the deck below, and with heavy guns too

mounted in them . One of these we saw near the

Bogue, after the peace, mounting thirty -six guns, all of

foreign manufacture, many of them 9 and 12-pounder

iron guns, made by Fawcett, of Liverpool, and purchased

either at Macao or at Singapore.. The junk was very

clean, and in good order, painted green , and coppered ;

and, with the exception of the masts and sails, which were

looked very well. This vessel was

in the old style, she looked

said to have been constructed by order of Tinqua, one

of the Hong merchants , who has distinguished himself

by his zeal in defence of his country ; and it was by him

presented to the emperor , together with a European

barque , and a brig, rather the worse for wear in the

merchant service , which he purchased at considerable

cost. These are still to be seen in the river of Canton ,

manned by Chinamen , but, as might be expected , not in

good order as regards the rigging and sails, and not

very well adapted for a cruise at sea .

Another large vessel, which they purchased in the

early part of the war, called the Cambridge, as will be

presently seen, was destroyed in the river, in an engage

ment with our vessels, in which the Nemesis bore a con

spicuous part.

But the most remarkable improvement of all, and

which shewed the rapid stride towards a great change

which they were daily making, as well as the ingenuity

of the Chinese character, was the construction of several

large wheeled vessels, which were afterwards brought for

ward against us with great confidence, at the engagement

at Woosung, the last naval affair of the war, and were each


commanded by a mandarin of rank , shewing the impor

tance they attached to their new vessels. This too was

so far north as the Yangtze Keang, where we had never

traded with them ; so that the idea must have been sug

gested to them by the reports they received concerning

the wonderful power of our steamers or wheeled vessels.

To anticipate a little, it may here be mentioned, that

the vessels had wooden wheels, very like an undershot

mill-wheel, which were moved by machinery inside the

vessel, worked by a sort of capstan by manual labour,

the crew walking it round and round, just like walking

up an anchor on board a man -of-war; the horizontal

revolution was turned into the upright one by strong

wooden cog -wheels, upon regular mechanical principles.

When once the spirit of change and improvement has

taken hold of the Chinese, it is impossible to say where

it will stop among so ingenious and indefatigable a

people. Even the emperor himself has ordered still

greater changes to be made since the peace, and has

directed that “the best materials for building ships shall

be procured from all parts of the world ; and that, as


only ships built on European principles can contend

with European ships, they must gradually learn to adopt

European models themselves. But, as this can only be

effected by time, and the ships are required now to sup

press the pirates which infest his coast, they are at once

to purchase foreign ships, and learn to exercise their

crews. ”

Who could so soon have expected such an order

from a great despotic monarch, who has hitherto pro

fessed to be guided only by the light of his ancestors,


and the wisdom of the ancients ; and whose whole people

have eschewed all change in the prescribed inviolable

tyranny of usage, as if it were the introduction of a

dreaded pestilence into the “ flowery land !"

To return from this short digression, we may now ask

what sort of a report was made by Admiral Kwan to his

mighty master, upon the subject of these first actions

below the Bogue — the first great collision between the

power and science of the west, and the self-confidence of

the remote east. Keshen, clear-sighted as he certainly

was, could not fail to perceive the many troubles and hu

miliations to which his country must become subjected if

hostilities were pushed to extremes. He was fully alive

to the serious defeat he had sustained, yet dreaded to

break the truth too suddenly to his haughty master ;

wise, therefore, in his generation, he declared that there

had been a " drawn battle .” He informed his master

that the contest had been maintained from eight a. m.

until two p. m., and that “ then , the tide ebbing,” (the tide

of fortune he might have said !) “ the foreign vessels

ceased firing, and anchored in the middle of the stream,


each side maintaining its ground .”

At that time, as has been seen, not only were the

Chinese forts long in our possession, but their fleet was

destroyed , and their commander-in -chief in full flight.

He alluded to the “ presumptuous, overbearing, and un

ruly violence of these foreigners, ” and then detailed the

measures he had adopted for reinforcing the positions,

and apologised for the absence of more detailed infor

mation, upon the ground of his anxiety to communicate

the earliest possible intelligence, to which he “ sub


missively implored the sacred glance of his august


The emperor, or rather his ministers, were not so

easily to be duped. Keshen was at once declared to be


“ incompetent ; ” and it was ordered that his conduct

“ should be subjected to the severest consideration ; "

while poor old Kwan was accused ofbeing “ at all times

devoid of talent to direct, and , on the approach of a

crisis, to be alarmed , perturbed, and without resources ."

From the earliest times to the most modern, success

has been vulgarly considered in all countries to be the

grand criterion of merit ; and the “ Felix ” of the an

cients, the successful, the favoured of the gods, stands

nearly as paramount in the estimation of the world now

as it did even in days of old . Kwan was accordingly at

once deprived of his rank and insignia of office, but was

ordered henceforth to labour to attain merit, bearing

his punishment in the mean time. And , indeed, when so

much parade had been made by the local authorities, of

what they had done and what they intended to do, it

was not unnatural that the emperor should visit them

with punishment in precise proportion to their failure.

Various plans were suggested for future proceedings

against the English ; it was admitted that the junks

could not cope with our ships on the open sea, and it

was therefore recommended “ that our vessels should be

enticed into the inner waters, and that there should be

employed expert divers to go down at night, and hore

holes in their bottoms,” while other parties were to

come stealthily upon them at night and board them

unawares, and massacre the whole of their crews.”


Above all, a grand preparation of fire -ships was to be

made, filled with various combustibles, which, with a

favourable wind, were to be let loose upon them, and,

in the confusion resulting from this attack, their war

vessels were to follow and complete what the fire -vessels

had commenced. Great rewards were again offered for

the taking or destruction of any of our ships, and

50,000 dollars was to be the recompense for a line-of

battle ship

As aa last and truly Chinese suggestion, it was recom

mended to the emperor by some officious great man,

that as soon as the English should really “ repent of

their sins, and become sincerely submissive, the Portu

guese of Macao should become security for their good

behaviour in future ! ”

We must now return to the current of events, which

took place immediately after the capture of Chuenpee.

The evening after the engagement was spent in making

preparations on both sides for renewing the contest on

the morrow. Every one on board our ships was excited

with the occurrences of the day, and anxiously longing

for the dawn of morning, when the thunder of our artil

lery should make even the walls of Anunghoy and the

famed Bogue forts tremble and fall. At length the sun

rose bright and full of promise on the morning of the

8th. The boats of H.M.S. Sulphur were sent out to take

soundings higher up towards the Bogue. The Nemesis

was first under weigh, and was directed to proceed at

once up to Anunghoy, with a couple of rocket-boats.

The morning was calm : the line- of -battle ships were

slowly moving up to the positions assigned to them in


front of the principal forts; already had the Nemesis

taken up a position within capital range of the southern

battery of Anunghoy, in such a manner that only three

or four guns could be brought to bear on her from it ;

already had she thrown in several shells and shot-when

the signal for her recal was observed flying most pro

vokingly from the mast-head of the Wellesley, and

being enforced by more than one signal gun, the firing

ceased. Just as the exciting moment had arrived, and

every man was calculating in his own mind how soon

the forts would be reduced, the stillness, not of breath

less anxiety, but of bitter disappointment, prevailed in

every man's bosom

It soon appeared that old Admiral Kwan pre

ferred to try his skill in cunning and diplomacy rather

than in war, and had sent off a small boat to the flag

ship, under a flag of truce, with a note addressed to the

plenipotentiary. The well-known fact has excited some

amusement, and not a little chagrin , that a little boat,

with an old woman and a man in it, was sent off to bear

proposals for the cessation of hostilities at the very mo

ment of their commencement.. "Some say that a Chinese

prisoner, whom we had sent back to Anunghoy the day

before, was in the boat, and the bearer of the letter.

However that may be, certain it is, that this humble

paper, sent in this extraordinary way, was received, and

became the groundwork of an armistice, which was con

cluded in the course of the day. Soon after four


o'clock in the afternoon , the Nemesis was sent to con

vey Lieutenant Maitland of the Wellesley to Anunghoy,

as bearer of a chop or official document, relating to the


truce, and to a projected treaty of peace, the precise

terms of which did not transpire.

Many animadversions were made upon this proceed

ing. But, in point of fact, nothing was known of the

orders of Captain Elliot, which were generally supposed

to have been more of a negative than of a positive kind,

leaving him to act principally according to his own dis

cretion. It could not be said that war had been ac

tually declared against China, although the blockade of

the river of Canton, the order in council for the deten

tion and even confiscation of the Chinese junks, and the

occupation of Chusan, were, to all intents and pur

poses, equivalent to a declaration of war, both in word

and deed ; while the proceedings of the Chinese,

throughout the operations, clearly showed that they

understood and felt it as such. The Chinese themselves

would be the last to complain of the want of a formal

declaration of war.

Captain Elliot was placed in very peculiar circum

stances. He was desirous to avoid open rupture with

the Chinese, if possible, and to use his best tact and

judgment in negociation, which would, of course, be of

little avail unless backed by a strong force, ready to

support his claims, and therefore necessarily assuming

a threatening attitude. Above all, the value of the

revenue to be derived from tea was so great, and its

importance as an article of consumption so much thought

of, that Elliot believed himself to be best serving his

country when he best followed out, according to his

judgment, these two principal objects. That Captain

Elliot may have been influenced by occasional errors of


judgment, is far from improbable; but that he was

wanting in natural talent or principle, or a wish to serve

faithfully his queen, his government, and his country,

his most unscrupulous detractors have scarcely ven

tured to maintain. It is fortunate, at all events, that

it can still be said that measures of uncompromising

hostility were not urged, until every other method of

persuasion, and every less powerful, however ingenious,

argument had been tried and found wanting.

Negociations continued at the Bogue ; but theChinese,

in spite of the truce, were observed to be increasing

their defences, and notice was accordingly given to them

to desist. The communications were frequent ; and, on

the 17th, just a week after the commencement of the

truce, Captain Elliot went down in the Nemesis to

Macao. There seemed , however, to prevail an impres

sion, that the affair was so far from being settled, that

another collision could scarcely be avoided, and there

fore no measure of precaution was omitted on our


Several days were spent by Captain Elliot in Macao,

during which her Britannic Majesty's subjects were

given to understand that negociations on a “ satisfac

tory ” basis had been resumed with the Imperial Com

missioner Keshen. In the mean time, the fleet had re

tired to Chuenpee, where the British flag still waved in

triumph ; and on the 20th, the Nemesis proceeded to

join the force off that anchorage.

On that day, a circular was issued by Captain Elliot,

dated at Macao, announcing that preliminary arrange


ments had been concluded, but reserving the details for

future negociation . Hong Kong was to be ceded to

us ; an indemnity of six million dollars were to be paid

by the Chinese in six equal annual instalments, one

million being paid down at once, and the last in 1846 ;

direct official intercourse was to be maintained upon

terms of perfect equality, and trade was to be resumed

within the port of Canton, within ten days. But it

would also appear that an intimation had been made

of an intention to remove the greater portion of the

trade to Hong Kong, for it was provided that it should

only continue “ to be carried on at Whampoa until

further arrangements were practicable at the new set


Nothing could at first sight appear more satisfactory

than this arrangement; but, as will presently be seen,

itgave ample time to the Chinese to make further pre

parations for defence, and abundant loopholes for the

exercise of their crafty ingenuity. At the same time,

Captain Elliot urged upon the consideration of his

countrymen “ the necessity of adopting a conciliatory

treatment towards the people, and a becoming defer

ence for the country upon the threshold of which we

were about to be established .”

Nothing further need here be said upon this subject,

except that on the following day, the 21st January, the

Nemesis was sent to convey two mandarins to Chuenpee,

who were to receive back the forts from Captain Scott,

of the Samarang , who had been appointed pro tempore

governor of this fortress.. The British colours were


hauled down, and the Chinese dragon was hoisted in

their place, under a salute from the flag -ship; it was

very evident that no salute had ever sounded so welcome

to Chinese ears before. As soon as a few guns could be

got ready for the purpose, the salute was returned by

the Chinese.

We had certainly shown rather aa chivalrous leniency

to their government, in thus so suddenly restoring to

them one of their principal strongholds. Their delight

at the occurrence may readily be imagined, for their

colours were at the same time again hoisted upon

Anunghoy, where they had been temporarily lowered ;

and thus the British flag ceased once more to wave

upon the territory of the Celestial Empire. At the same

time, orders had been hastily sent up for the immediate

evacuation of Chusan , whence our troops were to be

brought down to Hong Kong, together with the ships

of war, as quickly as possible.

Every thing looked extremely peaceable upon paper,

and the Chinese contrived to create a temporary belief


in the sincerity of their intentions. "

It will be remembered that Sir Gordon Bremer had

not yet been named Joint Plenipotentiary, which did

not take place until after his return from Calcutta in



rank and file .

18th Regiment, Royal Irish, Lieutenant-Colonel Adams, 487

26th Regiment, Cameronians, Lieutenant-Colonel James, .291

49th Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Bartley ......... 326

Bengal Volunteers, Lieutenant - Colonel Lloyd ....... 402

Madras Artillery, Lieutenant-Colonel Montgomerie, C.B. ..... .185

Madras Sappers and Miners, Captain Cotton .... 227

VOL . I. U


The Queen steamer, in the month of June following.

He had proceeded to India in that vessel, at the end of

March, after the arrival of Lieutenant-General Sir Hugh

Gough, probably in order to confer in person with the


Thus ended what may be called the second act, (the

first having been the taking of Chusan, and the expe

dition to the Peiho) of the great drama of the Chinese


In his report to the emperor, respecting these

several occurrences, Keshen declared that “ he had

only made conditional concessions to the English ;

merely promising that he would earnestly implore the


emperor's favour in their behalf.” He afterwards

added that “ the English had evidently shown a much

more compliant disposition than heretofore, by having

restored the forts, and also the salt-junks which they

had taken, and also in causing their forces to withdraw

from Chusan." This would naturally create in the

emperor's mind an impression, that the English would

without much difficulty be reduced to submission. At

the same time, Keshen declared that he “trembled from

hand to foot, and that his heart was rent with pain

and anxiety, when he thought of the perverse crafti

ness of these unruly foreigners.” The commissioner

by these means weakened his own case, for he almost

made it appear that the English were most disposed to

yield , at the moment when he was himself asking

“ favours ” for them, but that they had got the better

of him by their ingenuity.

Immediately after the restoration of the forts on the

21st to the Chinese, the Commodore went down to


Macao in the Nemesis, leaving the Wellesley in the

Lintao passage, the main body of the fleet having pro

ceeded to Hong Kong. It was feared , however, that

things could not long remain in statu quo ; there were

several passings to and fro between Macao and the

fleet ; and on the 26th, Captain Elliot himself left

Macao in the Nemesis, and went up the Canton river

to hold a conference, which it had been arranged

should take place with Keshen in person, in order to

settle those points which, it has been stated, were re

served for future consideration .

U 2




Conference between Keshen and Captain Elliot at the second bar

Keshen sensible of his own weakness But driven to extremities by

orders from Pekin - Preparations for the conference — Nemesis the

first steamer which ever passed the Bogue — Arrival of a French


Corvette — Salute from the Bogue forts— Tiger Island - Aspect of

the Canton river - Pagodas — Arrival at place of conference - Guard

of marines — Hong merchants arrive, but not admitted to an audience

Captain Elliot and suite received by Keshen— Entertainment -

Keshen inspects the marines Private conference between the

high functionaries — Nothing definitely settled —Captain Elliot dines

with the Prefect of Canton-Keshen does not return his visit in person

-Nemesis returns to Hong Kong_Keshen's report to the emperor

of this meeting — Is superseded - Appointment of three commissioners

in his place — Suspicious circumstances - Elliot demands explanation

Proceeds to the Bogue in the Nemesis Second interview with

Keshen — Curious facts — Delay of ten days agreed to — Remarks

thereon - Force unwillingly resorted to — Preparations for defence still

continue at the Bogue - Suspicions of Captain Elliot and Sir G.

Bremer - Nemesis sent to the Bogue with the treaty — Waits four

days without any answer - Reconnoissance by Captain Hall - Disco

very that Chuenpee was an island — Also Tycocktow Boat fired at

from Wantung - Nemesis returns to Macao without the treaty - Sir

G. Bremer orders our forces to move up to the Bogue - Intercepted

despatches from Keshen to Admiral Kwan.

The famous conference which took place between

Keshen and Captain Elliot, some miles above the Bogue,

close to a pagoda on the banks of the river, at what is

called its Second Bar, has attracted very great and

deserved attention . Although its results were, in a poli


tical point of view, really of little moment, there is rea

son to think that Keshen, as well as Elliot, was anxious

to adjust the pending difficulties without further resort

to arms .The advantage, however, which delay of any

kind would afford to Keshen , and the ultimate inter

ruption of the negociations, followed, as it was, immedi

ately by the capture of the Bogue forts, have led many

to conclude that Keshen had all along no other object

than that of putting us off our guard, in order that he

might complete his still imperfect arrangements for de

fence, and then throw down the gauntlet to us in defiance.

This view of the matter appears to have been a good

deal exaggerated ; and we shall perceive, as we follow

this narrative, that Keshen was thoroughly sensible of

his own weakness, and really did desire to avert the

storm, but was fairly driven into extreme measures, and

the suspension of all amicable intercourse, by positive

orders from Pekin . Indeed, he was afterwards accused

of treason, bribery, and incapacity, because he even

condescended to confer at all with Captain Elliot, in

stead of advancing boldly upon him, and driving him

and all his troops and ships away from the coast.

Keshen saw the imbecility of such conduct, and al

though he knew the hopelessness of an attempt to

defend the river, he had no other alternative but to

obey ; he had already been deprived of some of his

decorations for having listened to terms at Chuenpee,

and his only hope of saving himself from ignominy, and

even death itself, was by striving hard to exhibit greater

zeal in the defence of the Bogue, which, nevertheless, he

scarcely hoped to be able to maintain .


Let us now , however, accompany the Nemesis up the

river, in order to see what sort of an affair the grand

conference at the Second Bar really was, and how the

interview between the Plenipotentiary of England and

the High Commissioner of China actually came off. It

was naturally expected that it would be an affair of

great ceremony, and as it was the first time that any

intercourse had been permitted upon terms of perfect

equality with any of the high Canton authorities, and

as it was to happen in accordance with the stipulations

of the new treaty, it excited great interest, and kept

the curiosity of every one alive.

Adequate preparations were made on both sides,

becoming the high rank of the respective parties, and

doubtless each of them was calculating the most likely

mode of making a good impression upon the other.

One hundred marines, picked men from the Wellesley,

Druid, and Calliope, were embarked on board the Mada

gascar steamer, to be carried up as a guard of honour

for Captain Elliot, at the meeting ; they were com

manded by Captain, now Lieutenant-Colonel, Ellis, C.B. ,


having with him Lieutenants Stransham and Maxwell.

The excellent bands of the Wellesley and Calliope were

also in attendance, and it was expected that the Chinese


would be astonished and properly “ impressed ” by the

appearance and manquvres of the men , while they would

be gratified and put into a good humour, by the enliven

ing tones of the music.

On the 26th of January the Nemesis started from

Macao, with Captain Elliot and several officers on board,

and proceeded directly up to the Bogue. As she passed


Chuenpee, she communicated with the Calliope, which

was at anchor there, under Captain Herbert, a salute of

seventeen guns being fired for the plenipotentiary, and

was subsequently joined by the Madagascar, which was

to accompany her up to the place of meeting.. Captain

Herbert, the Honourable Captain Dundas, and Captain

Maitland, attended the Plenipotentiary. And now , for

the first time, two steamers were to enter the true Canton

river, and as the Nemesis was the leading vessel through

the Bogue, she had consequently the honour of being the

first steam -vessel, whether of wood or iron, which ever

navigated the “ inner waters ” of the Celestial Empire.

It was just at this time that the French corvette,

Danaide, arrived in the China waters, having been sent

out purposely to watch our movements in that quarter.

This, indeed, could have been her only object, for, as re


gards protection of trade, the French have never had

any trade with China worthy of the name, nor indeed

had the French flag floated over the walls of the foreign

factories at Canton for many years, until after the acces

sion of Louis Phillippe to the throne. Since that time

it has always been exhibited rather in hope of the future

than for the protection of present interests, for, except

the French consul and his attendants, there has been,

until recently, scarcely a French ship in China.

As the declaration of blockade was still in force

against the port of Canton, the Danaide was not per

mitted to proceed higher up than Chuenpee, but her com

mander, Captain Rosamel, was politely permitted by

Captain Elliot to accompany him on board the Nemesis,

that he might be a witness of the coming interview ;


an act of courtesy which was handsomely acknow

ledged .

As the two steamers passed through the Bogue, each

with a flag of truce at the fore, they were saluted with

three guns (the greatest number ever given in China),

by the forts on both sides. The Chinese also manned

the works, and hoisted numerous gay silken flags ; and

the effect of their curious costumes, and the general

appearance of the forts of Anunghoy and Wantung, when

their battlements were crowded with the eager spectators,

were very imposing. Certainly, the passage of two steamers

between them, the first they had ever seen, must have

been an exciting novelty. The bold, rocky steeps behind

the batteries of Anunghoy, frowning, as it were,, and

really commanding the batteries below , grinning defiance

with their whitened battlements ; and the opposite island

of Wantung, with its numerous works ; the more distant

shore of the mainland on the other side, and the remark

able Tiger Island a -head ; all these formed a very inter

esting and remarkable spectacle.

Nevertheless, although the Bogue is naturally a strong

position , and sufficiently formidable in its appearance,

it could not be compared in this respect with the Euro

pean Dardanelles, however it may have been called the

Dardanelles of China .

Just at the foot of Tiger Island, about two miles

above the Bogue, could be distinguished a long stone

battery, which, on a nearer approach, appeared deserv

ing of closer inspection, although, from its position, it

was not likely to be of much use for the defence of the

river. The Nemesis, accordingly , little fearing shallow


water at any time, ran up towards it, and came so close

to the battlements as to touch them with her yards ; in

which position, had her intentions been hostile, it was

very evident that she could batter the walls with her

guns with perfect impunity, for the guns of the fort

could not be depressed sufficiently to point at her hull

in that position .

This maneuvre thoroughly confounded the Chinese,

who looked on in evident wonder. And they so far pro

fited by the hint afterwards, that they abandoned the

fort altogether, as useless and untenable, and carried

away the guns, to add to the strength of the Bogue forts

lower down.

Beyond the Bogue and Tiger Island the river begins

to expand again, and for some miles presents to view a

flat, rich, alluvial country, in which are an immense

number of canals and water-courses, serving to irrigate

the paddy or rice fields, and to afford innumerable lines

of internal communication, which in that country mostly

take the place of roads and bridges.

In no part of China are there found within the same

distance so many large pagodas or religious monuments

as upon the banks of this fine river. This is not the

place to describe them minutely, or to discuss their

purpose. They are found in most of the large towns,

and sometimes on the banks of rivers, and form a part

of the religious buildings of the Budhist superstition,

and together with it, seem to have been originally intro

duced from the west. The shape of them is familiar to

most readers . The finest and most celebrated one of

the kind is the famous Porcelain Tower of Nankin


which is in reality a pagoda, larger and more ornamented

than the rest, and distinguished by being principally

constructed of Porcelain brick glazed , and of various

shades of colour. These towers, or pagodas, are of great

use in the navigation of the Canton river, as, from their

height, they are conspicuous objects at a distance, and

are generally placed in advantageous positions.

It was precisely at the pagoda at the Second Bar, as >

it is called, that the conference was now to be held ;

and there, at about six o'clock in the evening, the Ne

mesis and Madagascar came to anchor. A couple of

mandarins, or officers of inferior grade, ( for let it not be

supposed that a mandarin is necessarily a great man)

came on board, deputed by Keshen, to welcome the ar

rival of the plenipo. They were afterwards landed in

the ship's boat, which, in the darkness of the evening,

and from want of acquaintance with the river, got

ashore in returning, and with some difficulty reached

the vessel in the middle of the night.

A list of the names and rank of those officers who

were to be present at the interview on the following

morning was sent in to Keshen, in English and Chinese,

so that he might be quite prepared, when each gentleman

should be presented to him by Captain Elliot, to receive

him courteously.

Early in the morning, the guard of marines were

landed , together with the bands of the Wellesley and

Calliope. A finer body of men is rarely seen. Soon after

nine o'clock, the whole of the officers were ready to

go on shore, which was accomplished partly in the boats

of the two steamers, partly in very clean and convenient


Chinese boats provided by Keshen . They had to pull

some little distance up one of the numerous creeks which

open into all the Chinese rivers, and the scene as they

approached was very novel and interesting. On either

side were several very gaudily ornamented boats belong

ing to Keshen , very similar to the boats of the Hong

merchants at Canton, who had also arrived under the

guidance of old Howqua. They could scarcely hope to

enjoy the honour of a place at the conference, and were,

therefore, probably ordered by Keshen to attend upon

him. They were not admitted even into the same tents

with Captain Elliot and his suite.

The Hong merchants' boats are both large and conve

nient, somewhat resembling a small room or van, placed

upon a very sharp-pointed but broad boat, as they

are only used for pulling about the smooth waters of

the river. Nothing can be better adapted for comfort,

affording shelter both from the sun and rain , with plenty

of room for at least half -a -dozen people to sit down and

converse. The outside of these boats is showily painted,

and commonly decorated with handsome woodwork .

The inside is generally elegantly fitted up. They are

usually pulled by four men forward, who use a short

broad -bladed oar or paddle, with great dexterity and

effect ; and they are also assisted as well as steered by

a large heavy scull-oar behind .

The landing-place at the Second Bar pagoda pre

sented certainly a lively scene. The guard of marines

drawn up on either side highly astonished the Chinese,

but the people were kept from pressing too close by a

long line of railing put up for the occasion. The road


from the immediate landing -place to the grand tent was

spread over with various coloured cotton coverings, and

decorated with branches of trees.

At nine, a.m., Captain Elliot, accompanied by Captain

Herbert and the Honourable Captain Dundas, landed,

and went up in state, preceded by the bands, to the

principal tent, which was very like a large long booth,

ornamented inside with yellow hangings, in token of its

belonging to the representative of the emperor. At the

further extremity of it was another tent or apartment,

reserved more especially for Keshen's private use, and

into this only Captain Elliot and one or two officers in

personal attendance on him were admitted.

The whole party were presented to Keshen in the

outer tent, including Captain Rosamel of the Danaide ;

the list sent in the previous evening being referred to, as

each gentleman of the party made his bow to the Impe

rial Commissioner.

The first private audience in the inner tent between

Captain Elliot and Keshen was merely one of ceremony ,

and lasted only a few minutes ; the medium of commu

nication being through Mr. Morrison, the talented in

terpreter, and the gifted son of the late Dr. Morrison,

so celebrated as a Chinese scholar and philologist.

After the first introduction was over, it was an

nounced that a grand déjeúner à la fourchette was pre

pared in the outer tent, for the whole of the party, up

wards of twenty in number. Interminable was the

succession of dishes of the rarest and most expensive

kind, accordingto the best Chinese principles of gastro

nomy. The luxury of the shark’s -fin and the bird's


nest soups was here tasted for the first time, and,

without going deeply into the mysteries of the Chinese

cuisine,” it will be sufficient to say that a Chinese

feast is a very sumptuous and tedious, but, withal, not

unpalatable affair. It necessarily occupied considerable

time, and it was not until two o'clock that those officers

not in personal attendance upon Captain Elliot were able

to return on board the steamers.

In the interim, Keshen could not resist the wish to

gratify his curiosity concerning our fine-looking fellows,

the marines, and three of the tallest and finest men were

selected for his personal examination. He did not con

ceal his surprise, and even requested that they might be

made to go through some of their evolutions. Keshen

also examined their arms and accoutrements minutely,

for every thing was, of course, perfectly new to him.

He had himself a small body-guard of Chinese sol

diers, tolerably well- dressed , but otherwise of poor ap

pearance, compared with our own picked men, and they

seemed quite at a loss to comprehend the purpose of

the movements they witnessed.

There were a good many small tents pitched round

about the principal reception-tent, and, as each of these

was ornamented with a gay flag and other decorations,

the coup d'ailof the whole scene was sufficiently imposing.

Keshen’s manner throughout is described as having

been particularly kind , gentlemanlike, and perfectly

dignified. He might, indeed, be called a courtier-like

gentleman in any country.

What may have passed between Keshen and Captain

Elliot, during their private conference in the afternoon,


it would be useless to surmise. They met and parted

upon terms of equality and apparent good understanding.

There seems reason , however, to think that very little

was definitely settled ; and, after the lapse of two or

three days, Captain Elliot merely announced in a cir

cular that “negociations were still proceeding satisfac

torily, ” but at the same time “ he warned her Majesty's

subjects against proceeding to Canton for the present,

as it would be acting contrary to what he conceived

right for the public interest.” At the same time, how

ever, Hong Kong was proclaimed a British possession,

and all its Chinese inhabitants declared to be British

subjects. Provision was also made for the government

of the island.

Whatever terms Keshen may have agreed to at the

conference, it is well known that he was soon forbidden

by the emperor to carry them into execution. They

are therefore of little moment .

Captain Elliot returned on board the Nemesis in the

afternoon, apparently satisfied ; and in the evening a

display of rockets and fireworks took place from the

vessel, for the amusement of the Imperial Commissioner

on shore.

In the mean time, the Madagascar returned down the

river with the marines . On the following day, the 28th,

two superior mandarins came on board to pay their re

spects, and were saluted with three guns ; and , later in

the day, the whole body of the Hong merchants like

wise came to pay their respects to his Excellency ; but

it is worthy of remark, that Keshen himself did not come

in person to make a return-visit of ceremony.


Whatever may have been the reason of this omission,

it was unfortunate that Captain Elliot did not take

some notice of it. It might be said that Keshen was

afraid of compromising himself with his imperial master,

if he condescended so far as to pay a visit to a foreigner

on board his own vessel. But it is possible that another

reason also may have weighed not a little in his mind.

He got the Kwang Chow Foo, or prefect of Canton, who

was there, to ask Captain Elliot to dine with him on

board his barge, or large, covered boat, and his invi

tation was accepted. Keshen looked upon this as far

below the supposed dignity belonging to the rank which

Elliot held. After this act of condescension on Captain

Elliot's part, Keshen not improbably regarded it as

far beneath his own dignity personally to visit Captain

Elliot. Nor is it at all surprising, when we consider

that the court of China is, without exception, the most

ceremonious in the world . Indeed , at Pekin there is a

regular “ Court of Ceremonies,” to arrange all the com

plicated details.

Thus ended the whole business of this famous confer

ence. It should also be mentioned that, before they

parted, Keshen made a few presents to Captain Elliot,

but not of any very great value, and others to Captain

Herbert, which were divided among some of the officers.

Soon after three o'clock the steam was once more got up,

and giving and receiving a parting salute of three guns,

the Nemesis turned her head again down the river, having

the Louisa cutter in tow . The forts at the Bogue again

saluted her as she passed ; and, late in the evening, she

came to anchor in Tong Koo Roads, until daylight


enabled her to proceed to join the Commodore, who was

then in Hong Kong harbour.

As yet the treaty, in virtue of which we took pos

session of Hong Kong, had not received the emperor's

assent ; and our own precipitate restoration of Chusan

was likely rather to impede than to promote the object

it was intended to effect. The mere word of Keshen was

the only authority which we had to rely upon , the ratifi

cation of which was at least doubtful. However, both the

Commodore and Captain Elliot seemed already to regard

the island of Hong Kong as a positive acquisition, and

took the present opportunity of steaming all round it

on board the Nemesis, and seemed to be more than ever

proud of its possession.

As soon as the Commodore had returned on board

his own ship, the Nemesis proceeded, with Captain

Elliot, once more to Macao, where he landed with his

suite the same evening, well satisfied, to all appearance,

with the result so far as it could be called a result

of the great diplomatic interview which he had held

with the emperor's representative.

We may gather from Keshen's own report of this

grand meeting some insight into the effect which it was

likely to have produced at Pekin and in the emperor's

cabinet. He states that, “ never having visited the

Bocca Tigris, or made himself acquainted with the con

dition of the defences of the river, and having received

a request from Captain Elliot that he might have an

interview with him (after he had become pliant and

submissive), he took the opportunity of hitting two birds

with one stone ; and, as he descended the river (to look


at the Bogue, of course), he was met by Elliot near the

Second Bar, who had come in aa steam-vessel, and desired

to see him. His retinue did not exceed a few tens of

persons ; he brought with him no ships of war, and his

language and demeanour, upon that occasion, were most

respectful. He presented a rough draft of several articles,

on which he desired to deliberate, the major part having

reference to the troublesome minutiæ of commerce ;

and he agreed that, for the future, in any cases of the

smuggling of opium , or of other contraband traffic or

evasion of duties, both ship and cargo should be con

fiscated . Among the number of his proposals were

some highly objectionable, which were at the moment

pointed out and refused ; upon which the said foreigner

begged that emendations sḥould be offered and con

sidered of. This request has accordingly been granted

to him ; and, when these points shall be determined on

and agreed to, the whole shall be presented for your Ma

jesty's inspection. Your slave then parted with Elliot.”

Thus, little good appears to have resulted from this

first interview. Indeed, shortly after his report of it

to the emperor, Keshen received a severe reprimand

from the emperor for what he had already even pre

tended to promise. He was told that “ aa mere glance

at his memorials had filled the emperor with in

dignation . ”

Yihshan, a Tartar general of great repute, and who

will be found to figure afterwards on several occasions,

was now sent down to Canton, invested with the office

of “ general pacificator of the rebellious;” and two

assistant functionaries, called Lungwan and Yang Fang,

VOL . I. X


were also ordered to repair thither, “ to co-operate in

the work of extermination." Additional troops were de

spatched : orders were sent that “ the soldiers should be

exercised and encouraged by rewards ; " that “ addi

tional supplies of provisions, money, arms, cannon, and

powder, should be procured ; and that all were to unite

in perfect harmony with Yihshan, in order to recover the

lost places, and clearly to display the vengeance of

Heaven, achieving for themselves great merit.”

These orders of the emperor were issued on the 30th

of January, but did not reach Keshen until the 10th or

11th ofFebruary. On our side, nothing important took

place for several days; arrangements connected with

the establishment of Hong Kong were continued ; and

there was a constant passing to and fro of officers be

tween that place and Macao, for which purpose the

Nemesis was always employed .

The 2nd of February was the day on which it had been

agreed with Keshen that the trade of the Port of Can

ton should be opened — namely, ten days after the

Chinese New Year. No proclamation to that effect,

however, was issued by the Commissioner. Various

rumours were already afloat concerning the measures in

progress up the river for obstructing its navigation :

and, at length, finding that the “ satisfactory manner"

in wbich it had been proclaimed, on the 30th of January,

that the negociations which were proceeding had already,

in the following week, assumed an “unsatisfactory tone, ”

and that, in fact, every thing appeared very delusive,

Captain Elliot determined to go up to the Bocca Tigris

in person, and demand a distinct explanation from


Keshen of what were really his intentions. It was

known that Keshen had reached the Bogue; and Cap

tain Herbert had even sent an officer to compliment

him upon his arrival on the 29th of January, and aa salute

of three guns was fired in honour of the occasion. On

the 10th of February, Captain Elliot embarked on board

the Nemesis, accompanied by Captain Smith and Captain

Knowles, of the artillery, together with Major Pratt, of

the Cameronians, and Mr. Morrison, as interpreter, and

was conveyed up the river, anchoring for the night in

Anson's Bay.

On the following morning they once more passed

through the Bogue, the battlements of which were

manned by the Chinese, as the steamer passed ; and a

salute of three guns was fired from each of the batteries,

which was of course returned by the Nemesis. So far

every thing looked pacific and complimentary enough.

Having passed completely through the Bogue, she came

to anchor, about ten o'clock, above the forts, a little to

the north of Anunghoy, and close to the boats of the

Imperial Commissioner, who was already there. This was

on the 11th ofFebruary ; and it is aa curious coincidence

that it was on this day that Keshen received the imperial

commands to resume vigorous measures against Captain

Elliot and all the foreigners. At all events, even if the

communication had not reached him previously, it was

certainly put into his hands on the morning of this

second interview with Captain Elliot ; for he himself

afterwards acknowledged, in a public proclamation,

that he received it on the 11th of February, viz. on this

very day.

X 2


The interview on this occasion was comparatively one

of little ceremony ; indeed, Keshen had made no pre

paration for it on shore, and received Captain Elliot

in his own covered barge, unattended by any man

darins of rank, and without any display or attempt at


Captain Elliot, on his part, having merely introduced

the officers who came up with him from Macao, in

order that they might make their bow of respect to

the emperor's representative, immediately proceeded

to business without loss of time, in the most private

manner possible . During the few minutes that his

suite were present, however, it did not escape their

notice that some mighty change had already come over

the spirit of the great commissioner. There was an

appearance of constraint about him, as if his mind was

downcast, and his heart burdened and heavily laden.

He never indeed for a moment lost his self- possession ,

or that dignified courtesy of manner which no people

can better assume than the Chinese of rank ; but there

was still something undefinable in his bearing, which

impressed upon all present the conviction that some

thing untoward had happened . Some of the party

even guessed that he had been degraded from his high

rank, which was in fact the case. Enough, at all events,

was visible upon the surface, to awaken Captain Elliot

to the necessity of extreme tact and caution, before he

placed any reliance upon Keshen's power, whatever

may have been his will, to act up to his promises.

What may have passed at this second interview be

tween these two high representatives it is not the


place here to discuss ; suffice it to say, that the con

ference on this day lasted no less than six hours, and was

renewed on the following morning for about three hours

more. This will be enough to show that many points

of great importance and some minuteness must have

been closely debated .

Keshen, mean time, was doubtless fully aware, that

not one single iota of what he might promise would

ever be acceded to by his haughty master ; and,

therefore, his only object in protracting the discussion

and entering into the “ troublesome minutiæ of com

merce” must have been to leave something still open

to discussion, and some points remaining to investigate,


upon principles of the purest reason.”

How great must have been his rejoicing, when he at

length succeeded in winning from Captain Elliot a

further delay of ten days, for the fair preparation of

a definitive treaty for his signature ! What a heavy

weight must have been removed from his oppressed

spirit, when he at length beheld the dreaded steamer

depart peaceably from the Bogue ! The certain re

prieve of ten days, in which he might perhaps complete

the preparations already commenced and even far ad

vanced for the defence of his strongest positions, was

indeed a piece of unlooked-for good fortune.

Captain Elliot immediately returned to Macao in the

Nemesis, which took in tow his own cutter, the Louisa,

which was generally in attendance on him . The formal

drawing-out of the definitive treaty was hastened on, in

order that every excuse for further delay on the part of

Keshen might be removed . Indeed, ten days had only


been fixed as the longest period, within which, if the

treaty were not executed , hostilities would be renewed.

Perbaps, after all, it redounded to our credit, that

extreme measures were only at length adopted, when

every other means of effecting a settlement had been

tried in vain . Conciliation, negociation, and appeals

to their “ good faith,” and even to treaties, had com

pletely failed “ again and a third time," as the Chinese

phrase it, before the stronger argument of gunpowder

and cold steel was brought into play. There was some

thing of magnanimity even in our apparent hesitation,

and it was perhaps a virtue that we paused before we

struck our heaviest blow. Forbearance towards a

feeble enemy, as long as there was the faintest hope of

bringing him to reason by simpler means, will redound

more to our honour in the pages of future history, than

a precipitate display of our energy and our power.

The treaty which was ultimately concluded was much

more advantageous to commerce and civilization in

general, than it would probably have been, had an

earlier settlement taken place. The Chinese were

brought to yield by degrees, and , therefore , the com

pact is much more likely to be durable , than if it had

been wrung from them by an earlier and more sudden


Nevertheless, before even the draught of the pro

posed treaty had been fully drawn up at Macao, rumours

were continually brought concerning the extensive pre

parations for defence which were still going on up the

river. Some naval and military officers were accord

ingly sent up to the Bogue, to ascertain how far these


rumours might be well founded ; and it was now dis

covered “ that military works upon a great scale were

in progress, that troops were collected upon the heights,

that entrenched camps were being formed on both sides

of the river, and that the island of North Wantung was

bristling with cannon,”

These preparations certainly looked very unlike the

preliminaries to the signature of a treaty of peace ; " and

from this moment,” says Sir Gordon Bremer, “ I must

confess, that my faith in the sincerity of the Chinese

commissioner was completely destroyed.” It was in

fact to be no longer doubted that hostilities would be

speedily resumed. And although the orders of the

emperor to Keshen to cancel the treaty agreed on, and

to provide means for the immediate extermination of

the foreigners, had not then been made public, enough

was already known to make it evident that the inten

tions of the government were very far from being of a

peaceful nature.

On his side, Captain Elliot had done his utmost to

impress the Chinese with a confidence in his “ good

faith ;” and so anxious was he to hasten the evacuation

of Chusan, that he had not only sent up a vessel of

war to convey the necessary orders, but had also for

warded an overland despatch, by the hands of a Chinese

special messenger, to the same purport.

Scarcely a month, however, had elapsed when Cap

tain Elliot began to doubt whether the Chinese really

meant to act up to their promises with equal good

faith . On the 20th of January, he had declared, in a

public proclamation, that he had no reason to call in


question the “scrupulous sincerity and enlarged opi-.

nions of the very eminent person with whom negocia

tions had been pending ;” and it was just a month

afterwards, on the 20th of February, that he declared

that the “ imperial minister and high commissioner had

failed to conclude the treaty which had been sent up

to the Bogue ready prepared for signature.” This docu

ment was carried up by the Nemesis. But, as the

commissioner had already left the Bogue and gone to

Canton , it was transmitted to him by the hands of a

confidential person in the employment of Keshen, who

had been distinctly named to Captain Elliot for the

purpose. Four days were allowed for the return of

the messenger, and the Nemesis was directed to wait

at the Bogue for the answer, until the expiration of

that period, when she was to return to Macao, either

with or without the treaty.

As the time agreed on approached its expiration, re

ports became more numerous than ever, concerning the

hostile preparations in progress. The edict of the

emperor addressed to Keshen, before spoken of, was now

made public, and a proclamation was pasted on the

walls of Canton , (but whether by the orders of the

viceroy or not does not appear certain,) by which a

reward of 50,000 dollars each was offered for the heads

of Captain Elliot and Sir Gordon Bremer !

The four days of the stay of the Nemesis at the

Bogue were not spent unprofitably. Advantage was

taken of this opportunity to examine the new works

of the Chinese, many of which were still in progress,

(during a truce and while a treaty of peace had been


agreed on !) Numerous sandbag batteries had been

erected, and others were in course of completion, half

way up the hill of Anunghoy. Troops were crowd

ing upon the hills on the opposite side, while upon

the Island of North Wantung equal activity was dis


But the observations were not limited entirely to

the works at the Bogue. Captain Hall set out with

a single boat's crew upon an adventurous and interest

ing excursion up Anson's Bay, to the mouth of the

river in which the junks had been destroyed on the

day of the action of Chuenpee. Just within the en

trance, several large mandarin boats were now observed

collected together, and surrounded by a vast number of

labouring men. This excited some surprise, as there

were no works visible upon which they could be em

ployed : but the object of this bustle was unexpectedly

discovered afterwards. The mandarin boats and a

great part of the people, thinking probably that the

single boat of the Nemesis was only the advanced one

of many others similar to those which had destroyed

their war-junks, made off as fast as they could, leaving

her to pursue her course unmolested.

Having, in the former ascent of the river in the

Nemesis, observed that aa branch of it turned off to the

right towards Chuenpee, Captain Hall determined to

explore it now. It branched off about one and a half

to two miles from the entrance, and soon led to a very

considerable village on the right or Chuenpee side (in

ascending), while, nearly opposite to it, a large sand

battery, recently erected , was discovered, mounting


eight guns, and further on was a strong stone -battery.

Neither of these fired at the boat, although the gunners

ran down to their guns, as if apprehensive of an attack .

To the astonishment of all in the boat, it was now

found that this branch of the river, or creek, or what

ever it might be called , instead of leading further up

the country, inland, gradually turned round and encir

cled the whole of Chuenpee, communicating with the

“ outer waters ” to the southward of that promontory.

Thus it was evident that Chuenpee was an island .

Having passed quite through the passage, so as to

reach the point of junction with the “ outer waters,"

Captain Hall landed on Chuenpee in company with

Mr. Turner, the surgeon of the vessel, and Mr. Gray,

a midshipman of H.M.S. Herald , and, sending the boat

round the promontory to the opposite side, walked

across without any molestation. Nothing particular

worth noticing was observed in this excursion, except

the large farm -houses, which were passed, together with

several extensive sugar-works, in full operation. A

visit made to the Tycocktow side of the river was less

promising, although equally successful. It was thought

desirable, on the following day, to reconnoitre the de

fences in that direction ; and accordingly Captain Hall

proceeded in the ship's cutter across the river for that

purpose. A large number of troops were collected

upon the heights, upon which were numerous tents ; and

several large transport junks, not less than twenty sail,

were hastily landing troops, guns, and ammunition . It

was also noticed that boats were passing round at the

back of the hill and works, through a large canal or


creek ; so that, although it was not possible to explore

the lines of communication from one part to the other,

it became very evident that the neighbourhood of the

river, although apparently mountainous and rugged, was

accessible to boats on all sides, and was in fact com

posed of distinct islands.

The question of the intentions of the Chinese was

soon decided ; for the fort on Wantung, as the boat

passed between it and the mainland, on that side, fired

at it with round shot, and very nearly with effect.

There was no mistaking the tone of defiance which this

indicated ; but those on board the boat were already suf

ficiently acquainted with the Chinese character to be

reluctant to turn back at this threat, because the affair

would have been reported as a great victory, with their

usual exaggeration. The little bow-gun of the boat

was therefore instantly fired at the troops who were

looking over the battlements of the fort ; and no further

molestation being attempted by the Chinese, she again

pursued her way , content with this token of defiance.

It was further remarked that, at several of the forts

along the Bogue, the Chinese soldiers were practising

their guns at a mark , probably to ascertain their range ;

and they were observed to point them at particular

spots, as if they thought to do certain execution by

their first discharge.

These little reconnoitring excursions sufficed to show ,

were anything still wanting to bring conviction to the

most unbelieving, that the Chinese were fully aware

that no treaty of peace was likely to be signed, and

that they looked forward to the resumption of hostili


ties, not only without much apprehension, but with

tolerable confidence in the probability of their own

success .

On the evening of the 18th, the four days agreed on

for the return of the messenger from Canton having

fully expired, the Nemesis was moved up from Chuenpee

to the Bogue, where she remained one hour, waiting for

an answer from the Imperial Commissioner. None, how

ever, was brought ; and as every thing now so plainly

indicated that cannon -balls alone were to be expected

as a reply, it was resolved to return to Macao, and re

port all that had been seen and done to the plenipoten

tiary and the commander- in -chief. Having communi-.

cated with H.M.S. Herald as she descended, and

continuing her course throughout the night with great

caution, the Nemesis arrived at Macao soon after day

light. Not a moment was lost in communicating the

results of the reconnoitring excursions, the firing of a

shot from North Wantung, and the non-appearance of

the messenger at the appointed time.

The most incredulous now no longer doubted ; the

film was raised even from before the eyes of Captain

Elliot himself, and orders were given that all the officers

should join their respective ships. The light division,

which was then in the roads of Macao, or at the mouth

of the river, was placed under the orders of Captain

Herbert (since made K.C.B.) of the Calliope, and was

directed to proceed immediately to the Bogue. It con

sisted of the Calliope, Samarang, Herald, Alligator,

Sulphur, and the Nemesis ; and the object was 66 to

prevent, as much as possible, any further defensive


preparations on the part of the enemy, but not to run

any unnecessary hazard until the main body of the

force came up.” At the same time, the commodore

hastened over to Hong Kong, in the Madagascar steamer,

for the purpose of taking up the ships of the line, con

sisting of the Wellesley, Blenheim, and Melville, seventy

fours, and the steamers, Queen and Madagascar ; leaving

the Druid , with the Jupiter troop-ship, and the trans

ports, Sophia, Minerva, Thetis, and Eagle to follow .

These active measures were briefly announced by

Captain Elliot, in a circular issued on the same day to

the following effect, simply stating that “ circumstances

had induced the commander-in- chief to announce to

H.M. plenipotentiary his intention to move the forces

towards the Bocca Tigris ” —from which it would seem

that the responsibility of this inevitable measure was

rather assumed by Sir Gordon Bremer than by the

plenipotentiary ; but Captain Elliot had also written to

Captain Herbert, stating that he left him at liberty,

and moved to prevent the continuance of defensive

preparations at the Bogue.

It was on the day following this movement (the 20th)

that Keshen’s notification of his unwillingness to con

tinue negociations became known at Macao ; and shortly

afterwards, the emperor's edict (before alluded to) was

also promulgated , in which every proposed measure of

conciliation towards the foreigners was recalled, and

orders given , on the other hand , that “ they should be

rooted out entirely.”

On the morning of the 21st, a reconnoitring party

anded , unperceived, upon the island of Wantung, con


318 A CRISIS .

sisting of Captain Elliot, Captains Herbert and Belcher,

and Lieutenant Stransham , and they were able to count

seventeen more guns, newly-mounted, in addition to

those which had been observed on the former occasion .

The truce had already fully expired, but hostilities

did not commence immediately, as might have been

expected. On the 22d, a Chinese boat happened to be

stopped, in which was found a messenger, who was

recognised by Lieutenant Watson as an active agent of

the Chinese authorities. It was naturally suspected that

he was the bearer of orders of some kind or other to

the local officers, and such was found to be the case.

They were addressed to Admiral Kwan, desiring him

to hurry on the stopping-up of the channel which

runs at the back of Anunghoy, by which the latter be

comes an island . The means employed were stones and

stakes, and sunken junks, which had been collected in

large quantities at a place called Sanmannkow, which

must have been the large town known to lie in the rear

of Anunghoy . Thus all our observations respecting

the intentions of the authorities were fully confirmed .

On our part, it could now no longer be doubted that

a heavy blow must at once be struck. Keshen had by

no means concealed from the emperor the great difficulty

of defending the Canton river, the laxity of the Chinese

military system, and the utter inability of their forces

to withstand the power and skill of the barbarians.

All these were truths far too unwelcome to find credence

at Pekin ; and when the result at length proved how

well founded they were, the failures and disasters were

laid to the account of treason and bribery.

KESHEN . 319


Keshen's description of the " outer -waters ” and of the Bogue Forts

His report to the Emperor of the inefficiency of the defences, and

doubtful character of the people - No hope of victory - Begs the

Emperor to grant Captain Elliot's requests — Is degraded – Advanced

squadron at the Bogue - Captain Elliot waits there one hour in the

Nemesis—No communication - Junks captured — First hostile act on

our side-- Chinese fired first shot - Nemesis and boats under Captain

Herbert destroy a masked battery at the bottom of Anson's Bay—

Proceed up the river to the back of Anunghoy – Fort and rafts

destroyed — The Commodore joins at the Bogue with three line -of

battle ships — Description of the Bogue Forts — Chain and rafts—


Preparations for the attack - Howitzer- battery, erected in the night on

South Wantung, covered by the Nemesis —Disposition of our forces

26th February, 1841 – Capture of the Bogue - Simultaneous attack

on Anunghoy and North Wantung --- Dead calm —Wantung shelled

by howitzers Troops land on Wantung — Marines under Sir Le Fle

ming Senhouse take possession of Anunghoy- Chinese refuse quarter

-Attempts to save them — Capture of Little Tycocktow under Lieu

tenant Maitland - Number of Chinese prisoners killed and wounded

Admiral Kwan killed by bayonet -wound in his breast — Total number

of guns captured - Blockade of river raised .

Keshen, who had spent all his life either in large pro

vincial capitals or in the imperial city itself, could have

had little opportunity of learning any thing, either re

lating to foreign trade or foreign ships ; still less was

he acquainted with the majesty of the " outer-waters”



along the coast of the empire. His description of what

he saw, during his short excursion to the Bogue, is very

curious, and shows clearly how much he must have been

surprised at the sight of the barbarian ships. “ Even

there ,” says he, (that is, outside the Bogue ) “ the sea is

vast and wide , with boisterous waves and foaming bil

lows , lashed up into fury by fierce winds , majestically

grand ! How widely different the outer seas are from

our inland river- waters ! ” Having thus given his ma

jesty a dash of the sublime , to show what a perilous

place it was, he proceeds to say, " that, having changed

his boat for a sea-going vessel, he stood out for the

Bocca Tigris ; and, as soon as he arrived there, made

a most careful inspection of every fort and battery .”

What follows is extremely remarkable ; and, while it

points out the real ability and good sense of Keshen ,

must have appeared no less incredible than it was

alarming to the emperor and his ministers . Keshen

was really a bold and sincere as well as an observant

man, or else he would not have dared to write the fol

lowing account of the Bogue : “ Such forts,” says he,

“ as do not stand completely isolated in the midst of

the sea are yet found to have channels, affording ready

water -communication behind the hills on which they

are situated , so that it were easy to go round and strictly

blockade them ;' nor would it, in that case, be easy to

introduce provisions for the garrison .” He then states,

that he carefully examined the depth of water in all

| This is precisely what has been already stated as a thing unknown to

us, until the discovery was made by some of our own boats, particularly

by those of the Nemesis.


parts ; and that the soundings, even at high water, were

less than he expected. And he boldly ventures his opi

nion, that the “ reputation of the fortifications of the

Bocca Tigris, as a place of defence, has been acquired,

first, by the circumstance, that large merchant-vessels

require a somewhat greater depth of water than is to be

found in most parts of the passage (meaning, that the

channel they can pass through is narrow] ; and, secondly,

because that, in ordinary times [and here is the remark

able part of it] , when the foreigners observe our laws

and restraints, they naturally do not venture to avoid

the forts by passing through circuitous courses. But,

when they bring troops to resist and oppose, rather

than to obey, they may sneak in at every hole and cor

ner, and are under no necessity of passing by the forts.

As soon as they have in any way got beyond the Bocca

«Tigris, there are communications open to them in every

direction . It is, then, clear, ” he goes on, " that we

have no defences worthy to be called such. It is, in

truth, the local character of the country, that there is

no important point of defence by which the whole may

be maintained .”

No wonder that such a declaration from a man who

was also the third member of the imperial cabinet, taken,

as it was, from personal observation, should have sounded

unpalatable and even traitorous to the Emperor's ear.

But this was not all. Indeed one might almost imagine

that some European must have pointed out to him de

fects which his own unpractised and unaided eye could

never have detected . Lin, on the other hand, had never

dared to report to his master the full extent of the in

VOL . I. Y


formation which was given to hiin, though he was fully

prepared to adopt every advice which tended to obstruct

the commerce of England, and impede an amicable set

tlement of the difficulties. Not so, however, the more

upright and clear-sighted Keshen. He calls in question

the very quality of the guns. He tells his master, “ that

their number at that time (that is, before the additional

preparations were made] scarcely exceeded two hundred,

which were barely sufficient to fortify thefronts, while

the flanks of the works were left altogether unprotected .

Of these,” he added, “ few were in good order and ready

for use ; the original model was not good , the body of

the gun being very large, while the bore was very small;

and, therefore, the sea being at that place wide [only

three-quarters of a mile], the shot will not carry above

half -way. Again,” says he, “ the embrasures in which

they are placed are as large as doors, wide enough al

most to allow people to pass in and out ; they would

afford no shelter at all to our people from a sustained

fire of the enemy. They may, therefore, be said to be

very defective ."


How this must have startled the imperial advisers !

Such truths are always hard to bear, and harder to be

lieve, nd were consequently not believed , because they

were true . But Keshen did his best to improve his

weapons ; he sent for a founder of cannon, who gave

him a new model, and undertook to make some experi

mental pieces. Yet it did not escape Keshen that,

even if he succeeded in casting good cannon , he could

only do so as a preparation for the future . 66 They

could not be ready, ” says he, “ for the business we


have now in hand. These are the proofs,” he adds, “ of

the inefficiency of our military armament, which is such

that no reliance can be placed upon it. ”

We may venture the assertion that it must have

been indeed a man of strong mind, who could have

dared, (in China of all countries) to beg the “ Emperor's

sacred glance to light upon such statements.” Having

finished his view of the defences, Keshen next actually

dared to impugn even the defenders .

He proceeded to say that it would be necessary to

employ a naval as well as a land force to defend

the Bogue ; but then threw out a suspicion that the

seamen were not to be depended on ; for that “ he had

heard a report that after the battle of Chuenpee these

men all went to their commander or Tetuh, and de

manded money of him, threatening that they would

otherwise disperse ; and he had, therefore, personally

made inquiry into the matter, and found that the report

was perfectly true, and, moreover, that, the Tetuh,

having no other remedy, (evidently the pay was in ar

rear) was obliged to pawn his own clothes and other

things, by which means he was enabled to give each of

them a bonus of two dollars, and thus only could he


get them to remain for a time at their posts.

Moreover, he added, “ our ships of war are not large and

strong, and it is difficult to mount heavy guns upon

them . Hence it is evident that our force here (he was

1 This was on more than one occasion the case during the war. Sol

diers were often found among the killed and wounded, each having two

dollars on their persons, and on one occasion even six dollars .

Y 2


writing at the Bogue) as a guard and defence against

the foreigners is insufficient.”

Keshen next remarked upon the character of the

people of the province. “ Your slave has found them

ungrateful and avaricious. Of those who are actual

traitors it is unnecessary to say any thing. But the

rest are accustomed to see the foreigners day by day,

and intimacy has grown up between them .” And he

proceeds to contrast them very unfavourably with the

people of Chusan, who “ felt at once that the foreigners

were of another race."

Keshen then appealed to the history of the past, and

made particular allusion to the difficulty which had for

merly been experienced , in overcoming even the pirates

upon the coast, who were at length only reduced to sub

mission by a promise of security, upon condition of laying

down their arms.2 Finally he expressed great fear that

if he gave battle he would be unable to command a vic

tory, and in that case the dignity of the empire would

be sullied, and the lives of the people sacrificed.

To understand the full importance of these remarks,

it is necessary to bear in mind that they were written

before the action at the Bogue took place, and as a

ground for asking for the Emperor's consent to the

terms proposed by Captain Elliot. Others, however,

were called to aid in his councils at this time, and,


This, probably, alludes to the maxim of the Chinese moral code,


which says that it should be remembered that a foreigner, though he

be a good man, and on terms of intimacy with you, is still of a different

race ."

2 This alludes to the famous pirate Kochinga, who was bought off

and made an admiral.


among the high officers of Canton, Lin himself was

consulted. They appeared to concur with Keshen ; at

all events, they knew that upon his head would rest all

the responsibility.

The memorial containing Captain Elliot's demands

was sent up to Pekin, together with this report, which

was founded upon personal observation ; and Keshen

implored the Emperor to look with pity upon “ his

black-haired flock, the people, and that he would be

graciously pleased to accede to the requests made by

the foreigners, and to grant them favours beyond mea

sure. Thus,” he added, “ shall we lay the foundation for

victory hereafter, by binding and curbing the foreigners

now, while we prepare the means of cutting them off

at some future period .”

Keshen was a true Chinaman of the new school ( for

there are new schools even in antique China ) and, in

most respects, the very opposite of Lin . Sensible of

the weakness of his country when matched with Eng

land, conscious of his inability to fight his enemy with

success, he, nevertheless, hazarded the chance, when

the commands of the Emperor compelled him to aim the

blow. He, however, did his utmost to gain time, and

even endeavoured to impose upon Captain Elliot, and to

hope against hope itself. After all that Keshen had

said, the defence of the Bogue was conducted, as we

shall now perceive, with more energy than might have

been expected, and, indeed, with considerable spirit.

We may now turn from this not uninteresting digres

sion, to the proceedings of the advanced squadron at the

Bogue, under Captain (now Sir Thomas) Herbert. Or

ders had been already given by the commodore to seize


and detain five very large trading -junks, apparently

bound to Batavia, which had been seen by the Nemesis

on her way down to Macao from the Bogue, standing

out of the river, either unconscious of impending hosti

lities, or hastening to get out before they commenced .

These were all captured by the advanced squadron the

same evening.

On the following morning at dawn the Nemesis took

Captain Elliot once more up to the Bogue, where he

remained about an hour, as if in anxious expectation of

some communication from the shore. But this last lin

gering hope was again deceived. On her way up, the

steamer took possession of one very large trading -junk,

which was detained and anchored in-shore. Captain

Elliot, being now fully satisfied that no peaceable com

munication from the Chinese was any longer to be ex

pected, finally left the Bogue ; and, finding H. M. S.

Herald at anchor off Lankeet, just below Chuenpee, he

went on board that vessel, leaving the Nemesis to pursue

her way down to Hong Kong, taking in tow one of the

large junks detained by the boats of the Samarang.

The detention of the junks was the first direct act of

hostility on our part, since the period of the truce had

expired . But the Chinese had previously fired at the

boat of the Nemesis, as before noticed . On the 22nd ,

Captain Herbert, with the light squadron, took up his

position at the anchorage off South Wantung ; where

Captain Elliot announced to him that Keshen had failed

to conclude the treaty, and that he was therefore to

consider himself moved , to prevent the continuance of

defensive preparations. The Nemesis having joined him

from Hong Kong on the 23rd , Captain Herbert em


barked on board that vessel, and, taking with him the

pinnaces of the Calliope, Samarang, Herald, and Alliga

tor, commanded by Lieutenants Watson, Bower, Dewes,

and Woolcomb, proceeded up Anson's Bay, to explore the

river before described as opening at the bottom of it.

It was reported that the Chinese were staking it

across ; and, from the bustle which had been previously

observed there, when the boat of the Nemesis ventured

into it, there was reason to believe that hostile

preparations were being made. Moreover, it was

thought advisable, if possible, to examine the channel

which had been found to lead round in the rear of

Anunghoy ; for upon this fortress, as the most extensive

of the defences of the Bogue, it was thought the prin

cipal attack of the squadron would be made . Suspicion

was also excited by the contents of the intercepted

despatch of Keshen to Admiral Kwan.

On entering the river, it was no longer to be doubted

that preparations for defence had been commenced. A

great number of boats were observed busily employed

in driving stakes or piles into the bed of the river, across

which others were trying to moor a strong raft. No

sooner was the steamer discovered approaching, than

the boats all pulled away, and the Chinese were seen

scampering off as fast as possible. However, when it

came to the point of pulling up the stakes, in order to

make a passage between them for the boats, which were

in tow, all on a sudden a heavy discharge from aa masked

battery, close abreast of the spot, was poured upon

them, and at once betrayed the cause of the secret pre

parations before observed .


The steamer immediately poured in a volley of grape

and canister from her bow and stern guns,, while the

boats pulled away towards the shore, to carry the works

by storm , opening their fire from their bow-guns as they

advanced. The Chinese fled, after some resistance ; and

the battery, which was of very recent construction, was

at once taken possession of by the crews of the boats,

the colours being taken by Lieutenant Bowers, First

Lieutenant of H.M.S. Samarang. It was found to

mount twenty guns of various calibre, which were im

mediately destroyed. There were also lying on the

ground a vast number of guns dismounted, probably not

less than sixty, which appeared to have been landed out

of their junks, or recovered after the destruction of

their fleet in the bay. These were all rendered useless,

with the exception of a few brass ones, which were car

ried away as trophies. Their magazines and buildings

were also totally destroyed . The number of killed among

the Chinese were about thirty, but no wounded were

found, as they had probably been carried off by their

companions in arms. On our side no casualties hap

pened .

Content, for the present, with this successful feat,

Captain Herbert returned in the Nemesis, and rejoined

the squadron, at its anchorage, a little to the south

ward of South Wantung. On the following morning

they all returned to the scene of the previous exploit,

and set about pulling up the piles to clear a passage.

This time likewise they were fired at, but from a

different quarter. The Chinese troops, posted on the

hills above, commenced firing at the working party, but


it was soon returned from the 32 -pounders, by which

they were speedily dispersed. A passage having at

length been cleared, the Nemesis steamed up the river

for some distance, until she had nearly reached the large

town at the back of Anunghoy ; but, as there appeared

to be no further hostile preparations going on, Captain

Herbert thought it better to return and complete the

destruction of the fort, raft, &c., which had been only

partially done the day before; after which they returned

to the squadron , which the commodore himself had now

joined , with the three line-of-battle ships and the Druid .

The next day, the 25th of February, was the great

day of preparation for the combined and resolute

attack of all the Bogue forts. The batteries which

were to be reduced were as follows: the geogra

phical positions of the Bogue have already been

described. Beginning from the south end of the pro

montory of Anunghoy, which of course you ap

proach first, there were several strong works along

the shore, the ridges on the hill's side above being also

armed with guns wherever they could be conveniently

placed ; and upon the top, which was pretty steep, an

entrenched camp had been formed, calculated for about

twelve hundred men. On this side were two consider

able sand-batteries, not long erected, mounting, as was

afterwards found, thirty guns of small calibre.

Proceeding on along the front was the old battery of

Anunghoy, which, in a manner, seemed to have given

place to a new and extremely well- built one, partly of

granite and partly of chunam , and reaching down almost

to high -water mark. The rear of this battery, running


up the steep hill-side, was enclosed by a high wall, on

which were steps or platforms for firing musketry.

Continuing our survey of the walls parallel with

the passage through the Bogue, and passing out of the

southern fort by its northern gate, you found a line of

steep rocky beach, about two to three hundred yards

long, and unprotected, which led to the northern Anung

hoy fort. Upon this beach was erected a sort of plat

form , made of wood , serving merely as a line of cum

munication between the forts, for the passage of troops.

Having traversed this causeway, you arrive at the

northern fort. This was a less formidable one than its

fellow lower down, but still it presented an extensive

line of works. The whole together completely defended

the river front of the promontory of Anunghoy. The

number of guns mounted upon all these works was

afterwards found to be very great, and the long line of

embrazures certainly looked very formidable.

The island of North Wantung, which is opposite to

these forts, was thickly studded with cannon all over.

Its eastern side presented a formidable line of guns, and

was considered by the Chinese to be its most important

side of defence, for it fronted Anunghoy, commanding

the passage between them ; here they had planted some

of their largest guns. An object upon which they had

placed great reliance was the large chain cable, which

they had carried across the passage from Anunghoy to

a rock close to Wantung, and which they had secured

into the solid rock on either side, something after the

manner of the chains of a suspension bridge. The rafts

which supported it were strongly moored, and the


Chinese had adopted a curious contrivance for raising or

lowering the chain, for the purpose of letting their own

junks pass through, by means of a kind of windlass.

A passage was not forced through this chain and rafts

until after the forts were taken ; and theChinese appeared

to forget that there was another channel round the west

side of Wantung, and that even had that been impassable,

we could have sent our light steamers, rocket -boats, and

gun -boats, round the back of Anunghoy itself. They,

moreover, made little calculation of the great power of

the rising and falling of the tide, the weight and strength

of a line -of- battle ship, or the terrific power of her


The little island of South Wantung had been almost

unaccountably left unoccupied by the Chinese ; but, in

reality, it was within range, and well commanded by the

strong batteries and Hill Fort upon North Wantung.

The oversight rendered their positions much less tenable,

and soon decided the plan of attack which was adopted

by Sir Gordon Bremer. It was as follows : a battery

of two 8 -inch iron and one 24-pounder brass howitzers

was to be erected during the night, in a hollow , upon the

top of this little island of South Wantung, which was

very favourably situated for the object required . This

battery would not only greatly annoy the Chinese in the

northern island, and probably shell them out, but also

distract their attention from the attack upon Anunghoy.

The commodore reserved to himself (with the Wel

lesley, 74, and Druid, 42) the attack on the south-west

batteries of Wantung, that is, on the side not fronting

Anunghoy ; while Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, in the Blen


heim, 74, with the Melville, 74, and The Queen Steamer,

together with the rocket-boats of the two ships, was to

attack the batteries of Anunghoy, using his own dis

cretion as to the best mode of placing them for that

purpose. The light division under Captain Herbert,

consisting of the Calliope, Samarang, Herald, Alligator,

Sulphur, and Modeste, were to direct their attention to

the batteries on the northern and north-western side of

Wantung, and also those facing Anunghoy, and either to

anchor or keep under weigh, according as it might appear

most likely to ensure the object in view. The Mada

gascar and Nemesis steamers were to land the troops,

but the latter was more particularly employed to cover

the working party, who were to raise the battery on

South Wantung, and also the troops on shore.

It was not likely that the land forces would have

much to do ; but it was directed that detachments of

the 26th and 49th regiments, with the 37th M. N. I. and

Bengal volunteers, under the command of Major Pratt,

of the 26th, should be placed on board the steamers and

the transport-boats, together with a few Chinese boats

collected for the purpose, and they were to remain off the

southern end of South Wantung, protected from the fire of

the enemy's guns, until the Chinese should be driven out

of the batteries, when their subsequent movements were

to be directed by signal. The royal marines also, under

Captain Ellis, were to be held in readiness to land with

the troops, and were to be accompanied by the two

6 - pounder field -pieces of the Wellesley and Druid, with

seamen to work and drag them ; scaling-ladders were

also to be carried with the force .


Soon after mid-day, on the 25th, the Nemesis took

on board a detachment of one hundred and thirty of the

Madras Native Infantry, for the purpose of assisting the

royal artillery, under Captain Knowles and Lieutenant

Spencer, in the erection of the mortar battery upon

the top of South Wantung ; and they were accompanied

by Lieutenant Johnson and Lieutenant Rundall, of the

Madras Engineers, with the same object. On her way

across,, the guns of the large Anunghoy Fort opened

upon her, and were fired with tolerable precision, many of

them passing quite near her, but fortunately without

doing any damage. On arriving at the southern end of

South Wantung, it was found that Sir Le Fleming Sen

house had already arrived in his own boat, together with

a detachment of the Royal and Madras Artillery. The

Anunghoy Battery continued firing, but without effect,

and it was not returned for some time, by the orders of

the commodore. However, as soon as the detachments

were landed , Sir Le Fleming Senhouse himself gave per

mission to return the fire. No time was lost in landing

ammunition and warlike implements upon the island,

and parties were busily employed filling sand-bags pre

paratory to the erection of the battery above, the whole

working party being perfectly protected from the fire

of the Chinese.

In the mean time, the batteries on North Wantung

began to open on the Nemesis ; and, in order that she

might get completely under cover of the island of South

Wantung, she was run full in upon the shore, which was

somewhat steep in that part ; and thus she lay literally

with her head out of water, and her stern deep in it, with


out receiving any injury ; her light draught ofwater ena

bled her to approach closer than any other vessel could

have done. In this manner, all the shot of the batteries

passed over her, without doing any mischief. The fire

was not returned , both owing to the position in which she

was, and because it could only have served to point

out, in the darkness of the night, the situation of the

working parties upon the island..

At daylight the battery was quite completed, and the

Nemesis was ordered to withdraw ; not long after which,

the new battery opened fire in beautiful style, against

North Wantung, under the direction of Captain Knowles.

The rockets were thrown into it with great effect, and,

together with the shells, could be seen to fall directly

within the forts ; this was shortly followed by a blaze of

fire, from the burning of the Custom House and other

buildings ; soon after which, the outworks and sand

batteries were abandoned, and the Chinese took refuge

principally in the upper fort. Their loss must have been

considerable at all points ; and the panic created by the

bursting of the shells and rockets, which were quite new

to them , evidently threw them into great disorder. It

was reported , and there is reason to believe with truth,

that the Chinese officers abandoned the place at the first

commencement of the firing, and ran down to their boats,

having locked the gates behind them, to prevent their

own troops from following their example.

The grand combined attack was to have commenced

early in the morning, and the troops were ordered to be

in readiness at seven o'clock. The morning, however,

was perfectly calm ; the sun shone brilliantly, and lighted


up the scene of impending destruction and slaughter, as

if it were to be a scene of rejoicing.

Until ten o'clock there was not å breath of air ; when ,

a light breeze springing up, the Melville and Blenheim,

accompanied by The Queen steamer, got under weigh,

attended by three rocket-boats, the Blenheim being the

leading ship. They stood in for the Southern Anunghoy

Fort, running along towards the Anson's Bay side of it,

in order to be out of range of its guns in front, so that

they could throw in shot and shell upon its flank, with

out any risk of receiving injury themselves. The hill

of Anunghoy was crowned with Chinese troops, their

numerous silken banners floating gaily to the now reviving

breeze. Some of their guns were discharged at a great

distance ; but the fire was kept up with spirit, though

frequently out of range.

Not so, however, our own majestic ships, which slowly

glided up to their positions without wasting a single

shot, until , having anchored with springs on their cables,

they could bring their broadsides to bear. The Blen

heim, although the leading ship, was either carried by

the tide, or else slightly touched the ground, and was

soon overtaken by the Melville , which succeeded in

taking up a more advantageous position in very gallant

style. In the mean time, The Queen had commenced

throwing shell into the sand -batteries and other works

upon the hill's side ; and, at the same time, the terrific

broadsides of the Melville and the Blenheim opened

upon the great battery ; the rocket-boats also did their

full share in the work of destruction . The Chinese

could not long withstand these simultaneous attacks.


At about the same time with the attack on Anunghoy,

began also that upon the batteries on the western and

north -western side of Wantung, partly under the commo

dore in person, and partly under Captain Herbert. The

ships ' waited to receive the fire oftheforts pretty close,

and then at once poured in their iron shower upon the

devoted batteries, with destructive effect. It would have

been impossible for any troops to have long defended the

island of Wantung, bristling though it then was with

cannon, against the powerful force arrayed against it .

Our battery of howitzers had been playing upon it for

several hours ; and now six or seven men -of-war, including

one line-of-battle ship, the Wellesley, were battering it

at the same time. But the defenders could not run away,

being shut in on every side by the river ; and it was per

haps fortunate for them that the Nemesis, which had

already been engaged with the different batteries, was

sent down to fetch the troop-boats from the southern

island, under which they had been sheltered .

The land force was under the command of Major Pratt,

of the Cameronians, who was already well known to the

Chinese at Chuenpee. The detachments of the 26th

and 49th were under Major Johnson, the marines under

Captain Ellis, the 37th M. N. I. under Captain Duff, and

the Bengal Volunteers under Captain Mee.

The scene on all sides at this moment was extremely

imposing. The light breeze, which had barely served

to bring the ships into position, had quite died away

when the thunder of artillery commenced, as if it were


Consisting of the Wellesley and Druid, with the Calliope, Sam arang,

Herald, Alligator, Modeste, and Sulphur.


unwilling to take them back again until their work was

fully done. The heavy, curling smoke, scarcely broken

by an occasional flash, hung gloomily on every side, as

if to veil from sight the scene of destruction which was

going on. For a time the firing ceased, in order to

allow the smoke to rise ; and, just at that moment, the

troops were hastening towards Wantung, to take posses

sion of the works, the firing of which had also ceased.

At the same time, Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, with the

marines and a party of blue-jackets, landed, to the

attack of Anunghoy.

At half- past one the troops were landed on Wantung

by the Nemesis and Madagascar, assisted by boats.

The object was of course to reach the hill fort as quickly

as possible, and had the Chinese been better acquainted

with the rules of European warfare, they would pro

bably have at once surrendered themselves, seeing the

utter hopelessness of resistance. Probably the fear of

being put to death as prisoners prevented this timely

sparing of blood. Our gallant troops and seamen

pushed rapidly up the ascent over the ruined outworks,

and might have suffered severe loss before they could

have taken possession of the upper fort, had not the

Chinese been almost panic-struck, or had they possessed

weapons better calculated for the purpose of defence.

But, instead of surrendering or accepting quarter, they

again ran out of the fort and down the hill, and many

of the poor fellows were shot in their vain attempts

to fly, without any possible means of escape. The

greater part of these took refuge in the lower Custom

House Fort, where many of them were killed and



wounded before the rest surrendered, which , however,

they at length did, to the number of about one thousand .


The prisoners were soon afterwards taken to the main

land, and set at liberty, equally astonished as they were

rejoiced at our leniency.

The Nemesis, in the mean time, had gone over to

Anunghoy, to render assistance, if required, and there

observed the marines and seamen of the Blenheim and

Melville, under Sir Le F. Senhouse, in the act of taking

possession of the forts. It appears that they landed

without much opposition, though they were only three

hundred in number ; and not only passed through the

southern fort, driving the Chinese up the hill above, but

also proceeded along the beach towards the northern

fort, of which they also made themselves masters after

some resistance .

Whatever doubts Keshen himself had entertained

concerning the defensibility of the Bogue, he had too

much discretion to communicate them either to his

officers or troops. They had little anticipation of the

total defeat which they were soon to sustain, for they

had made rude sketches delineating the entire destruc

tion of our ships by the terrible fire of their artillery.

Nevertheless, their resistance was of little avail, although

instances of personal bravery occurred .

The British flag had by this time supplanted that of

China upon all the defences of the Bogue. It was little

past two o'clock, and ample time yet remained to turn

the victory to the greatest possible advantage before the

close of the day. The Nemesis once more crossed over

to Wantuug, and as she drew so little water, was enabled


to run close in, and make fast to the lower fort itself.

Nothing, however, of aa hostile character remained to be

done in this quarter, but there was yet ample room to

perform the more humane duty of assisting the unfor

tunate Chinese. Many of these poor fellows were float

ing about in the water, clinging in despair to any small

piece of wood or bamboo they might have the good

fortune to find. Many were drowned , as had before

been the case at Chuenpee, but many yet remained to

be saved . Boats were sent out for this purpose, but

the Chinese notions of warfare were of such a barbarous

nature, that they seemed to think the only object of

any attempt to save them was, to reserve them for slow


torture, mutilation , or death . The poor fellows dived

their heads under water as the boats approached them ,

attempting to drown themselves, and thus escape falling

into our hands. Many were, nevertheless, dragged out,

and carried on board the steamer, where they appeared

bewildered by astonishment more than by fear, when

they found that they were kindly treated. All of them

were soon afterwards liberated without any conditions,

and they then appeared thankful for their escape.

The day was now far advanced, but there still re

mained a fort and encampment to be taken possession of

on the opposite side of the river, usually called Little

Tycocktow , facing the western side of Wantung. There

1 The Chinese rarely make any effort to save even their own country

men from being drowned . Indeed, should a common boatman tumble

overboard accidentally, his own companions in the boat will often give

him no assistance, particularly if he is really in danger of being drowned

without it.

Z 2


was every probability that these would be carried with

out resistance, for the Wellesley had already seriously

damaged the fort, by her beautiful firing of shells, in

the morning, and the Modeste had also contributed to

silence it .A party of the Wellesley's marines were

embarked in her own boats, about four o'clock, under

Lieutenant Maitland, and proceeded across, in company

with the Nemesis, in order to complete the day's work .

A few shots were fired by her as she approached the

fort, but, finding they were not returned, the boats

pushed off to land , including the boats of the Nemesis,

with Captain Hall and Lieutenant Pedder. The fort

was found abandoned ; and having taken possession of

it, they advanced up the hill in the rear with all speed,

as they observed a body of Chinese in disorder close

to an encampment upon the top of it. However, on

the approach of the little party, they fled into the

interior, abandoning their lines, magazines, &c. These

were all set fire to and destroyed, and the effect

of the blaze, which lasted for a considerable time,

becoming more vivid as the night closed in, spread far

and wide among the distant inhabitants of the country

the general panic which had already seized their troops.

The conflagration extended itself on all sides, much

beyond the original site of the encampment , and threw

its lurid glare over the scene of slaughter and confusion

of the day. Having spiked the guns in the fort, the

boats returned with their crews to their respective ships.

Thus closed the eventful day of the capture of the

famous Bogue forts, and the total dispersion of their

unfortunate defenders. Had the Chinese been better


armed , and more experienced in the important science

of gunnery , the capture of the forts would have cost us

a much greater sacrifice of human life. On this occasion,

so trifling was the latter, that at 3 p.m., when Cap

tain Elliot issued his circular announcing the fall of the

batteries of the Bocca Tigris to her Majesty's forces, he

added , that " no loss on our side had been reported up

to that hour.” Sir Gordon Bremer had only subse

quently to report, that “five men were slightly wounded,


throughout the whole force.” Much surprise, however,

was created by this announcement, for the firing was

for some time kept up with spirit from the forts. It


was also recorded with the utmost minuteness, that

the main-topmast and fore-yard of the Blenheim were

shot through, one gun was rendered unserviceable, and

there were several shots in the hull ; that the Melville

had also a shot in one of her topmasts ; that the Cal

liope was actually struck ; and that other ships had just


a rope cut here and there.” No one could dispute

the triumphant declaration of the commander-in - chief,

that he was “ convinced that almost any number of

men the Chinese could collect would not be able to

stand against the animated gallantry of his men for an



It is to be regretted that the loss on their side, in

killed and wounded, should have been so considerable.

Thirteen hundred prisoners were taken, but were set at

liberty soon afterwards ;: and altogether upwards of five

hundred were killed and wounded during the day.

Many of the Chinese officers boldly and nobly met their

death, some even courted it ; they dreaded their mas


ter's wrath, and their own degradation more, than the

loss of life at the hands of their country's foe. Among

these , the most distinguished and most lamented was

poor old Admiral Kwan, whose death excited much

sympathy throughout the force ; he fell by a bayonet

wound in his breast, as he was meeting his enemy at

the gate of Anunghoy, yielding up his brave spirit wil

lingly to a soldier's death, when his life could only be

preserved with the certainty of degradation. He was

altogether aa fine specimen of a gallant soldier, unwilling

to yield when summoned to surrender, because to yield

would imply treason. It recalls to mind the fate of the

admiral at Chusan, who fell in the preceding year on

board his own war -junk, even after he had admitted that

he knew that resistance would be useless.

Kwan's body was claimed and recognised by his own

family the following day, and was of course readily

given up to them . A salute of minute-guns was fired

to his honour from the Blenheim, as a brave but fallen

enemy. It will be remembered that he was the same

distinguished personage who lost his red button or ball

during the engagement with the war-junks in Anson's

Bay, and obtained it back again, at his own request,

through Captain Elliot's intercession.

The resistance which the Chinese might have offered

to our forces will be seen from the following account of

the ordnance captured during the day. On the southern

Anunghoy fort were 107 guns, of various calibre ; one

being a 68 -pounder, one a 42, and a good many of 32 , 24,

and 18. Four of them were very large brass guns, made

by the Portuguese in 1627, two of these being upwards


of eleven feet long, and ten inches and three- quarters -

in diameter of the bore ; three of the iron ones were

of English manufacture, and the remainder were heavy

Chinese guns . On the northern Anunghoy fort were

40 guns, about half of them varying from 18 to 42

pounders. All of these were Chinese. At the two sand

bag batteries, erected to the eastward of the southern

fort, were about thirty guns of small calibre ; so that

there were altogether on that side of the river one hun

dred and seventy -seven guns. Again, upon the little

fortified island of North Wantung, were planted upwards

of one hundred and sixty guns, of which , however, one

third were very small, and of little service; and another

third of them varied only from six to twelve pounders.

The remainder were mostly very good, and some very

heavy guns ; one being a 68-pounder, and another a 42

pounder. Several of these bore a curious inscription,

similar to some others subsequently taken on Lord

Napier's fort near Canton.

On the fort and works, on the mainland, on the

western side of the river, facing Wantung, were also

mounted about forty guns. Thus the whole number

captured in this day's operations amounted to three

hundred and eighty pieces of cannon ; to which, if we

add eighty pieces more captured on the preceding

day by the Nemesis and boats, under Captain Herbert,

at the masked battery and stockades in the river, at the

bottom of Anson's Bay, we shall find the whole number

taken and destroyed in these two days alone, at the first

resumption of hostilities, to have amounted to four hun

dred and sixty pieces.


Immediately after the British flag was planted trium

phantly upon the forts of the Bogue, or at any rate be

fore the close of the day, a notice was issued by Com

modore Sir Gordon Bremer, by which the blockade of

the river of Canton was raised . British and foreign mer

chant-ships were now permitted to proceed as far as the

Bogue, and were to be allowed to go further up the

river, as soon as the obstructions to the navigation could

be removed .



General alarm caused by the fall of the Bogue forts - Removal of the

great chain — The light squadron under Captain Herbert proceed up

the river - Remarks on the latter-

Whampoa — Junk Island — Chan

nels of the river unknown — Policy of the Chinese Nemesis leads up,

giving the soundings - Approach to the first bar - Description of the

fort and raft-- English ship, the Cambridge, purchased by the Chinese

-War junks — Nemesis begins the action at the first bar - Madagascar

follows - Sulphur and the rest of the squadron arrive - Marines and

seamen land under Captain Herbert - Fort taken - Attack upon the

Cambridge — Lieutenant Watson drags a boat across the raft - And

with Captain Hall and others boards the Cambridge — Description of

the vessel - Ordered to be blown up — Captain Elliot's coolness and

courage - Nemesis and boats proceed up to Junk river - Boats of the

Wellesley and Sulphur - Fort captured — Sir Gordon Bremer joins

from the Bogue - Howqua's folly - Prefect of Canton arrives — Truce

for three days — Arrival of Sir Hugh Gough from India, 2nd of

March - Force arrives from Chusan - Nemesis discovers a passage into

the Broadway river - Captain Elliot's reward for a pilot - Truce ex

pires - Panic at Canton - Captain Elliot's proclamation to the Chinese.

The great event which has now been described, the

capture of the Bogue forts, though purchased at a very

small sacrifice on the part of the victors, derived an

immense importance from the greatness of the sacrifice

in reference to the Chinese.. Although the cautious

discernment of a few men like Keshen might have appre


ciated the strength of their enemy, and the compara

tive weakness of their own defences, the fact of the fall

of the Bogue forts, which were considered by the Chi

nese throughout the empire, as well as by the govern

ment, to be impregnable, created a degree of alarm in

the public mind without parallel since the Tartar con

quest. Whatever reliance the authorities on the spot,

and the overweening arrogance of a population accus

tomed only to the " submission ” of foreigners, may

have placed in the efficiency of other recent prepara

tions of a different description higher up the river, these

could never inspire confidence in the mass of the nation,

or even in the government, to whom the nature of them

could be little known.

The fall of the Bocca Tigris at once destroyed the

charm of its supposed strength, and the loss of a feudal

tower of old could hardly have spread more consterna

tion among a host of vassals than did the fall of the

Bogue forts among the Chinese nation. Totally inex

perienced in the horrors of war, they retained a sort of

hereditary pride in the Bogue, as their great bulwark

against the inroads of the foreigner. The whole nation

was at that time unprepared for war, and the govern

ment without any organized system of defence. Hence

it is not difficult to perceive, that advantage might have

been taken of their momentary state of alarm , to have

urged them at once to the conclusion of some kind of

peaceable settlement. The whole difficulty, however,

at that time seems to have turned upon the question of

the supply of tea . The Chinese saw clearly the anxiety

which we showed to obtain the year's crop, and they


quickly boasted that “ their tea and their rhubarb were

as necessary to the foreigner as air itself.” However,

it was resolved at length that we should dictate the

terms of peace at Canton, rather than at the Bogue,

and accordingly the fleet prepared to proceed immedi

ately up the river.

It will be remembered that a large chain cable had

been thrown across the river, supported by rafts, between

Anunghoy and aa little islet close to South Wantung. It

served them no good purpose whatever ; and after the

forts were taken possession of, nothing was easier than

to remove this impediment to the navigation. The

forts were next blown up, or damaged as much as they

could be, though not without great labour and diffi

culty, arising from the heavy masses of stone and chu

nam of which they were constructed. Chinese powder

was moreover used for the purpose , which, being less

strong, though made as nearly as possible with the

same proportions and of the same materials as our

own , but with less care, added somewhat to the diffi

culty of the task. Several days were occupied by the

engineers, sappers, and miners, assisted by seamen, in

this laborious operation. It was, however, effectually

done at last, scarcely one stone being left standing

upon another.

On the morning following the action, the light squa

dron under Captain Herbert was ordered to proceed

without delay up the river, in order to follow up the

advantages already gained by the panic created by

the capture of the Bogue. It consisted of the Calliope,

Alligator, Herald, Sulphur, and Modeste, with the


Nemesis and Madagascar steamers. The principal

objects and the general aspect of the river, as far as

the second bar, (which is below the first one) have

been already described, in connexion with the account of

the grand conference between Keshen and Captain Elliot.

It will facilitate the understanding of future ope

rations if we notice briefly, as we proceed, the principal

objects worthy of observation, above the second bar, as

far as the city of Canton itself, or even a little beyond

it ; for the operations extended even higher up. It

should be remembered that by the first and second bar

are merely meant sandbanks or flats, which impede the

navigation of the river, of course contracting to a

certain extent the channel for large ships. The second

bar is a large shoal on the left side of the river, ascend

ing (or geographically on its right bank) upwards of

ten miles above Tiger Island . The Pagoda near which

the conference was held stands near its upper ex

tremity, on the same bank of the river. The first bar,

however, lies about seven miles higher up on the oppo

site side of the river, and is not so extensive a flat as

the lower one. It seems to have been formed by a

deposit from the waters of one of the larger of those

numerous rivers, or their branches, which empty them

selves not only into the Canton river, but into all the

principal rivers of China. Indeed, so numerous are

these water- communications in every direction , that

Keshen was perfectly correct in his observation that

small vessels could proceed wherever they pleased, even

up to Canton itself, without passing through the main

river. Of course, the channel becomes both narrower


and more intricate in the neighbourhood of the bar ; and,

therefore, the Chinese showed considerable judgment

in attempting to defend this position, which was in

fact the most tenable one between the Bogue and

Whampoa ; from which latter place it was distant

about four miles. The whole of the neighbouring

country on both sides is almost one continued tract of

swampy rice -ground ; an additional proof of the endless


Above the first bar, the river becomes more intricate

in its navigation, having its channel broken and divided

by several islands, and ceasing to be navigable for vessels

even of moderate size beyond Whampoa, at least by any

channel, which had been at that time discovered. But it

will be presently seen that another passage was soon after

wards found. The anchorage at Whampoa had here

tofore been the resort of all the foreign trading ships ;

and the surrounding country at all times presents a

very picturesque and refreshing appearance. The Can

ton river would seem at various times to have been

subject to a great rise in its waters, and thus, overflow

ing the country through which it passes, to have

formed for itself new passages and lines of communi

cation, which in some parts give it the appearance of

dividing itself into numerous distinct rivers, at other

times merely separating its waters for a very short dis

tance, leaving a few picturesque islands between its

branches, and speedily re-uniting its numerous stream

lets again .

Whampoa is perhaps the largest of several islands,

which lie in the main course of the river. It is about


four miles in length, and has a rather shallow channel

on either side, navigable only for vessels of very small

draught of water. On its north - eastern side, quite

towards its lower end, lies the much smaller island

called Junk Island, a long narrow strip of land, which

with its shoals greatly impedes the navigation on that

side. The channel between it and Whampoa is gene

rally known by the name of Junk River.

Nearly all our merchant-ships used to anchor towards

the bottom of Whampoa Island, in what has been called

Whampoa Reach . But smaller ones could proceed up as

far as the village of that name, beyond which the channel

has become known by the name of Fiddler's Reach. Some,

however, of our largest ships were formerly accustomed

to take in their outward cargoes as low down as the


“ Second Bar,” which occasioned an additional charge

for lighters or cargo boats, and other inconveniences

but these now anchor in what has lately been called the

Blenheim Reach, to the southward of Danes' Island.

(See map and plan of Canton. ) It is not a little remark

able that the Chinese authorities should have been able

to keep foreigners so long in complete ignorance of some

of the most important branches of their magnificent

river ; which for two centuries had witnessed the yearly

increase of foreign commerce .

This no doubt was effected by the jealous orders

which were issued to their pilots, who dared not follow

any other than the old prescribed track. Yet it is also

remarkable that, among so many ships which have

annually visited the river, none should have been found

whose commanders were led by curiosity or stimulated


by the tiresome sameness of an every day -life, during

the dull season, to explore in open boats some of those

large and tempting passages, the openings of which

could be seen . Had not the war stimulated our exer

tions, or awakened our curiosity, we should without

doubt have remained as ignorant as ever of the capa

bilities of the river, the extent of which was scarcely

even surmised . ]1

No wonder that smuggling in every form has been

long carried on to such a notorious extent by the

Chinese at Whampoa, and in other parts of the river !

The communications by water from one point to ano

ther, and with the interior of the country, are so nume

rous, and so interwoven with each other, that it would

be impossible for any system of fiscal regulations which

the Chinese could adopt to operate efficiently against

the complicated machinery of evasion which could so

easily be put in practice. This, among other reasons,,

may have contributed (always secondary , however, to

their jealousy of foreigners ,) to the strictness of their

orders respecting the anchorage for our ships.

The light squadron proceeded up the river early on

the morning of the 27th of February. It was not yet

perfectly ascertained what obstacles were to be met

with, although it was well known that the Chinese had

been making extensive preparations to impede the ad

vance of our forces. The wind was light throughout


The newly -explored passages will be described in the order of their

discovery. The Blenheim Reach, Browne's Passage, and the communications

with the Broadway River, by which our light squadron afterwards

reached the city of Canton , were as yet quite unknown to us.


the day, and the Sulphur, which was to have been the

leading vessel, fell behind ; the Nemesis, therefore, now

took the lead, and proceeded with caution, giving the

soundings by signal to the squadron, by means of flags

fastened to the ends of long bamboos ; by which con

trivance the signals could be made with the greatest


It is worthy of notice, that not a single ship of the

squadron touched the ground on their passage up,

although there was no native pilot on board any of the

vessels. The great advantage of steamers drawing little

water in leading a fleet up a river is undeniable ; the

certainty and perfect control of her movements, with

the facility of changing her position , or of backing her

self off, should she touch the ground, give her an im

mense advantage over every other description of vessel,

for exploring the passage of a river.

It is a very pretty sight to watch a small steamer,

giving the soundings as she proceeds, for the guidance of

the ships behind her, both men -of-war and transports.

No new defences or hostile preparations on the part

of the enemy were discovered, until the squadron had

passed up a considerable distance beyond the second

bar shoals. The Nemesis, being still ahead, it could

now be made out distinctly with the telescope that a

large ship, probably the Cambridge, (a late British ship,

purchased by the Chinese) was at anchor near the first bar.

This was immediately signalized to the squadron, which

came to anchor about three miles from the position indi

cated. But the Nemesis, having previously taken the

Plenipotentiary and Captain Herbert on board, proceeded


to reconnoitre , and to ascertain if a clear passage ex

isted for the ships, as the Channel was supposed to have

been partially obstructed by sunken junks.

On arriving sufficiently near to observe accurately

the dispositions of the enemy, it was discovered that a


considerable mud battery had been constructed on the

left bank of the river ( the right in ascending) above the

first bar, near the Brunswick rock, below Whampoa ;

and that in order to obstruct the advance of the squad

ron beyond it, a very strong and broad raft, formed by

large masses of timber secured well together, had been

carried quite across the river, from one side to the other,

precisely opposite the battery . Behind the raft lay the

ship Cambridge, (previously known as the Chesapeake)

with an admiral's flag at the main, moored head and stern

in such a way that only her bow guns could be brought

to bear for the defence of the raft. A number of war

junks were also under weigh not far from her. It was

evident that the Chinese were quite prepared for resist

ance ; and, had the Cambridge been anchored with springs

on her cable, so as to enable them to bring her broad

sides to bear alternately upon the raft, she might have

fired with very great effect upon any of our ships as

they approached. But the Chinese are not sufficiently

acquainted with naval tactics to be able to make the best

use even of the resources at their command .

The war -junks looked much more formidable in the

distance, than when more nearly viewed, and there was

much more probability of their making their escape

after the first shots were fired, than that they would

offer any serious opposition. The fort itself consisted

VOL . I. A A


of a strong line of mud batteries along the river front,

and was afterwards found to mount no less than forty

seven guns, which were principally intended to protect

the raft. On the left flank of the battery were also

mounted several guns, which bore directly upon the

ships as they advanced up the river ; and beyond this,

further on the flank, was a small battery or field

work, mounting four or five guns, and connected with

the former by an embankment, with a small ditch

before it, upon which were planted a great number of

ginjals, or wall pieces. These latter, from being more

easily managed, and more accurately pointed, were often

calculated to do more injury than their great guns.

Within the fort, or line of field -works, was a double

Chinese encampment, containing about two thousand

men . The rear of the position was protected by a deep

creek twenty -five yards wide, and by paddy- fields, which

were partially flooded . These impediments proved very

injurious to the Chinese themselves, when they were

driven out of the fort, and attempted to escape in the

rear ; and they suffered great loss there in consequence.

It must not be forgotten that the Cambridge was heavily

armed, although she proved of no service whatever to

her new masters.

It was determined that no time should be lost in

commencing the attack on this formidable line of de

fence, without even waiting for the arrival of the other

ships of the squadron. However, Captain Herbert im

mediately went down in his own gig, to bring up the rest

of the force under his orders, who were all, of course,

equally anxious to take part in the attack. Captain


Elliot remained on board the Nemesis, and on this

and all other occasions exposed himself with a true

sailor's courage, during the hottest part of the engage


An excellent position was taken up by this vessel, not

more than seven hundred yards from the lower angle of

the fort, and , having anchored with springs on her

cable, she commenced throwing shot, shell, and rockets

single-handed into the fort and camp, and also at the

Cambridge behind the raft. The guns were plied with

great precision , principally under the direction of Mr.

Crouch and Mr. Strangways, mates, R.N.

It was now little more than half-past one, and at

two o'clock the Madagascar took up a position a little

outside of the Nemesis, and commenced firing at the

Cambridge with her twenty-four pounders. The Chi

nese kept up their fire from as many guns as they could

bring to bear, and from numerous large ginjals, with

considerable spirit. The Nemesis was struck several

times, but fortunately only one man was wounded .

One of the large shot passed completely through the

outer casing of the steam -chest, from one side to the

other, and was very near penetrating the steam-chest

itself, which would have been one of the most serious

accidents which could possibly befall her. The fire of

the Chinese was so well sustained for some time, that

repeated persuasion was tried , but in vain, to induce

Captain Elliot, (who was standing as a spectator during

the whole time upon the bridge between the paddle

boxes) to retire from such an exposed situation.

The Nemesis, having afterwards changed her position,

A A 2


got aground, by running too close in -shore, in order to

get as near as possible to the battery, and became so

much exposed that, besides receiving several shot in her

hull, she had her spars and rigging a good deal cut up .

At three o'clock the remainder of the squadron had

arrived, the Sulphur being the first vessel which an

chored and commenced firing ; the other ships, how

ever, came up in close succession, and fired their broad

sides with great effect upon the batteries, the Cambridge,

and the war-junks. The vessels engaged were the Cal

liope, Alligator, Herald, Modeste, and Sulphur, with the

Nemesis and Madagascar steamers.

The Chinese, who had been already staggered by the

smart fire of the steamers, were now completely bewil

dered by the additional attack of the other vessels.

Their fire speedily slackened ; and at about half- past

three the boats of the squadron, with the marines under

Lieutenant Stransham, and a party of seamen under

their respective officers, put off to land and storm the

works, the whole under the able direction of Captain

Herbert. Those of the Nemesis, being nearest in -shore,

had the advantage in landing first. All the best men on

board, including some of her engineers, had volunteered

for the occasion, and the whole force now formed to

gether, and immediately dashed on to the gate leading

into the fort close upon the shore. The Chinese at

tempted to defend it, but it was forced , although several

of the Chinese officers fought with determined bravery,

but little science . Their troops retreated in disorder,

and the British flag was planted upon the fort by Cap

tain Hall himself, who, as usual, headed his own party .


On this occasion one of the Chinese officers, with cool

determination and a steady aim, deliberately discharged

four arrows from his bow, at Captain Hall , fortunately

without effect. Had they been musket-balls, however,

he could scarcely have escaped . A marine instantly

raised his musket at the less fortunate Chinese officer :

the aim was unerring, and he fell. An attempt was

first made to save him , for his coolness and courage ; but

in the heat of an engagement it is impossible to control

every man , nor is it probable that the officer would

have allowed himself to be taken prisoner.

About four o'clock the fort was completely in our

possession, the Chinese having in vain attempted to stand

against the hot fire of our musketry.. They scrambled

out at the rear of the fort, in the best way they could ,

and there suffered severe loss. In fact, they were caught

as it were in a trap ; for the deep creek and flooded

paddy-fields in a great measure prevented their flight, so

that about aa hundred of them were killed or drowned at

that spot, although every effort was made to save them .

Some of them tried to escape across the river, jumping

into the water merely with pieces of wood or small logs

in their hands, which they picked up as chance threw

them in their way, in the hope that these would be suf

cient to support them in the water.

While the principal part of our force was thus driving

out the Chinese on one side of the fort, another and

smaller party, consisting of volunteers from the Nemesis

and Calliope, were hastening on towards the gate at the

opposite end, at the extremity of the river -front of the

fort, the Chinese retreating before them. Close by


the gate stood a house, in which many of them took

refuge; but, finding that there was no hope of escape,

and that resistance would be useless, they immediately

surrendered .

The great object now to be attained was to board

the Cambridge, which was lying abreast of the fort.

Unfortunately, no Chinese boat was to be found along

the shore, and it was quite tantalizing for the moment

to see a prize so near, without the means of reaching


At this juncture, Lieutenant Watson, first -lieutenant

of the Calliope, gallantly succeeded in dragging one of

his boats across the rafts, and launched her on the other

side. He then took on board some of the little party

on shore, who, seeing a body of Chinese crowding upon

the deck of the Cambridge, had continued firing upon

them. The boat instantly pulled off to the Cambridge,

under the command of Lieutenant Watson, having with

him Mr. Browne, the master of the Calliope, Captain

Hall, and Mr. Galbraith , of the Nemesis ; together with

Mr. St. Leger, and about nine or ten men .

The Chinese were so alarmed at the sudden attack

upon all their defences at once, and at the capture of

the fort, as well as at the loss they had already sus

tained on board , that they offered little or no resistance;

most of them jumped overboard on the starboard side,

as the boarding-party climbed up on the port side. An

officer of the Nemesis had the good luck to be first upon

the quarter-deck.

Many of the Chinese must have been drowned in at

tempting to swim on shore, as there were no boats at


hand to pick them up, and their own redoubtable war

junks had already made the best of their way up the

river, for fear of meeting the same fate as the Cam

bridge. A number of dead and wounded were found upon

the decks, strong evidence of the well-directed shot of

our ships. She mounted altogether thirty-four guns, of

English manufacture ; and it was rather surprising to

see how well the Chinese had prepared for action , the guns

being in perfect order, fire -buckets distributed about the

decks, and every thing very clean and well -arranged.

It now became a question whether she was to be

blown up or retained as a prize ; but it was decided by

Captain Herbert, that she should be set on fire and de

stroyed, principally with a view to strike terror into the

Chinese, far and wide, by the explosion ; and partly, also,

because she was an old and useless ship. Preparations,

therefore, were at once made by Lieutenant Watson,

with this object. The wounded were all carried on shore,

and every part of the ship was searched with great care,

to ascertain that there were not any Chinamen remain

ing concealed. The few stores found on board were of

very little value, and at five o'clock she was set on fire.

Slowly the flames spread throughout the ship, gra

dually bursting out of every port ; little more than an

hour sufficed for the fire to reach the magazine, and then

she suddenly blew up, rending the atmosphere, and

making every object around her tremble with the ex

plosion. The sparks of fire and burning timbers were

thrown far and wide in every direction ; and, as it was

by this time quite dark, they served to spread the alarm

ing intelligence even among those who were scarcely near


enough to hear the explosion . Several houses took fire

at a considerable distance from the spot, by the falling of

the burning fragments which were carried through the

air. The lower part of the hull of the Cambridge went

down in deep water.

Thus ended the tragedy of the day ; and, following

as it did only twenty -four hours after the capture of the

Bogue, and at the distance of only a few miles from

Canton , we can easily imagine how completely it must

have paralyzed for the moment all the little remaining

spirit and energy of the Chinese. The city of Canton

would probably have fallen an easy prey, had our suc

cesses been followed up by a bold dash at it. But the

different approaches by which our forces could advance

were then very imperfectly known, otherwise the small

ness of our numbers would in any case have been amply

compensated by the panic of the moment.

Throughout the operations of the day, Captain Elliot

had distinguished himself by his personal courage, and

landed with the party from the Nemesis to storm the

fort. The loss of the Chinese is believed to have

amounted to about three hundred killed and wounded .

On our own side there were eight or nine men wounded

and one killed . The magazine of the fort, and the guns,

about sixty in number, were destroyed or rendered use

less . Those of the Cambridge were blown up with the

vessel .

The great raft across the river was not less than five

hundred and fifty yards long, and is said to have cost

the Chinese an inmense sum of money, which was ex

acted from the Hong merchants. It was constructed


with great strength and solidity, for upon it they had

rested their most confident hopes of successful re

sistance. It was cleared away, not without a good deal

of labour, on the following day, and thus the passage

was now opened for the advanced squadron to proceed

up to Whampoa.

The Madagascar was sent down to the Bogue, to in

form Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer of what had

taken place, while the boats of the squadron , together

with the Sulphur and Nemesis, pushed on to explore the

river higher up ; a reconnoissance being necessary before

the ships could advance, owing to the uncertainty as to

what impediments the Chinese might have formed to

obstruct the navigation .

During the day, the Nemesis and boats got far enough

up the branch on the eastern side of Whampoa, called

Junk River, to catch a view of a little fort at the

upper end of Whampoa, called Howqua's Folly. It

was further ascertained that a large body of Chinese

were collecting in that direction , principally on the shore

opposite the island , and that a double line of stakes, in

terlaced with bamboos, were driven across the upper part

of the Junk River passage, where also several large

junks appeared to have been sunk.

It turned out afterwards that, had the Nemesis pro

ceeded only a hundred yards further on, she would have


Why some of the forts should be called “ Follies ” does not appear

evident. Such were the Dutch Folly, French Folly, Napier's Folly, and

Howqua's Folly. The most foolish of them all was certainly the last,

which ultimately fell down, owing to the foundation being weakened by

the washing of the river.


been lucky enough to discover a masked battery, which

it was reserved for the boats of the Wellesley, in com

pany with the Sulphur, to find out on the following day,

and to have the honour of capturing, under the command

of Lieutenant Symonds .

In the mean time, Sir Gordon Bremer, in consequence

of the important intelligence conveyed to him by the

Madagascar, hastened up from the Bogue the same day,

bringing with him the marines of the Wellesley, together

with a hundred seamen, under Captain Maitland. The

marines of the Blenheim , Melville, and Druid likewise

followed , together with a number of boats well armed

and manned. The Queen steamer also came up, bring

ing with her the Eagle transport, and another, the Sophia,

being towed up by the Madagascar..

In the evening, Sir Gordon Bremer, with these sea

sonable reinforcements, joined the advanced squadron

just as they had got up to Whampoa Reach. In con

sequence of the report made to the commodore of the

reconnoissance which had been made during the day, he

was induced to send up the Sulphur on the following

morning, together with three of the boats of the Wel

lesley, to pursue the examination further. The boats

of the Wellesley were commanded by Lieutenant Sy

monds, the first lieutenant of that ship. It is distinctly

stated , in Sir Gordon Bremer's official despatch, that the

Sulphur was towed (going up) by the boats, and that,

as soon as they had got within range of the masked

battery, which had been suspected but not discovered the

day before, the latter opened upon them ; upon which

Lieutenant Symonds, with great decision and gallantry,


instantly cut the tow-rope, and dashed off, to storm the


Such is the account published at the time. But in

Captain Belcher's account of the affair (vol. ii . p. 158 ,)

it is stated that this was a mistake, and that the Sulphur

was not towed at all by the boats ; it is left to be

inferred, also, that Lieutenant Symonds did not cut the

tow-rope, or else that, if he had done so, he would

have been guilty of a breach of discipline.

I have no means of judging between these two ac

counts ; but it was generally understood that Lieutenant

Symonds's gallantry and energy were highly approved

of by the commodore, whether in obedience of orders,

or otherwise. Captain Belcher further states that he

himself “ jumped into his gig to recall the boats, or

to prevent them doing too much, and that it was by

Captain Elliot's wish, who was left in charge during his


absence . ” However, it still appears that the battery was

carried by Lieutenant Symonds and his men, who soon

drove the Chinese out of it, killing several. The official

account further states that the Sulphur immediately

anchored, and sent a few shot in amongst the thick un

derwood , in which the Chinese took shelter.

The battery was found to mount about twenty -three

guns, which, together with the magazine, and all the

matériel, were destroyed. The boats were repeatedly

struck by grape-shot as they dashed on shore, but only

one man was wounded mortally.

The Nemesis came up the Reach during the day, and

managed to get within long gunshot of Howqua’s Folly,

about two miles higher up. In the evening, the Alli


gator, Modeste, and Herald joined her, with two trans

ports. The distance from Canton was now so short,

that they must have been within sight of the city,

although there was too little water by the direct passage

to enable them to get up further. The channels by

which they afterwards reached Canton had not as yet

been discovered .

Howqua's Fort, or Folly, was built of stone, at the

mouth of a little creek, at the extremity of Whampoa

Island, and was surrounded by low paddy-fields, which

occasioned its foundation to be so insecure that it after

wards fell down . It mounted nearly thirty guns of

various calibre. The commandant seems to have had

no particular taste for fighting, and thought a timely

retreat would save him a vast deal of trouble. The fort

was accordingly soon abandoned . A detachment of

the 26th Cameronians occupied it, while a party of

marines, under Captain Ellis, took possession of a large

joss-house, or temple, opposite to it, on the other side

of Junk River, where a strong body of the enemy had

already been seen . They strengthened this position

against any sudden attack.

Just above these two points, and consequently be

tween Howqua's and Napier's Folly, which latter was

situated upon the extremity of a low alluvial island ,

a little above Whampoa, a strong line of stakes or piles

had been driven into the bed of the river. The next

step, therefore, was to clear a passage through them,

which was not to be very easily effected, owing to the

rapidity of the stream , and the stiffness of the soil

forming the river's bed.


Just at this juncture, the prefect of Canton or Kwang

Chow-Foo came alongside the Nemesis in his barge,

attended by a linguist, and inquired for Captain Elliot,

who happened not to be on board . Upon this the pre

fect affected to be in a great hurry to go away , saying

that he could not wait for his return . The only reply

which could be given to him was, that if he couldn't

wait, he had better be off at once, without putting him

self to any inconvenience. This was quite sufficient to

induce this would-be great man to stay ; and he con

tinued , for some time, sitting in his boat, which was

hanging on astern , evidently with forced composure ,

for he declined coming on board the steamer.

As soon as Captain Elliot returned , they went down

to Whampoa Reach together, where aa conference was held

in due form . Captain Elliot certainly wished that hostili

ties should not be pushed further, if it could be avoided ;

and, accordingly, although it was perfectly well known

and admitted that Keshen had been degraded from his

office of commissioner, and that his successor had not

yet arrived, a truce was agreed upon for three days

with the Kwang - Chow -Foo. This was only a con

ciliating piece of leniency on the part of Captain Elliot,

for, at that moment, there was really no responsible

public officer who could undertake on the part of the

Chinese to treat for or accept any terms whatever. At

the same time, it was not denied that a general panic

prevailed at Canton, and that vast numbers of people

were leaving the city.

A lull now ensued , the probable result of which it was

idle to guess, although it was generally expected that


hostilities would be resumed, and that no settlement

whatever could be attempted, until Canton itself was

completely at our mercy. This happened precisely at

the moment of the arrival of Major-General Sir Hugh

Gough from Madras, in H.M.S. Cruizer, to assume the

command in chief of all the land- forces, by the orders

of the governor-general of India. This important event

happened on the 2nd March, 1841 ; and the arrival of

a general of acknowledged bravery and distinction was

a subject of general congratulation, and was looked

upon as likely to lead to energetic and decisive steps.

It was also just about this time that the force which

had been ordered down from Chusan arrived in the

Canton River, namely the Pylades, Blonde, Conway,

and Nimrod, together with the transports, conveying

the troops. Our forces were, therefore, now concen

trated ; and, whatever may be the opinion generally

entertained concerning the policy of so suddenly giving

up Chusan long before the answer could have arrived

from Pekin respecting Keshen's treaty, it happened,

nevertheless, very much to our advantage, that the

whole of a still small force was now united at one point,

for the more effective prosecution of any enterprise

which it might be advisable to undertake. Thus it

occurred on many occasions during the war, that what

appeared at first sight unfortunate, or, at all events,

little likely to be attended with good results, turned

out, in the end , to be most advantageous. The addi

tion of these reinforcements from Chusan enabled us

now to dictate terms to the Chinese authorities, which,

without them , it would not have been so easy to exact.


Advantage was taken of the interval of the three

days' truce (which was to expire on the 5th) to explore

in the Nemesis, by the orders of Captain Herbert, one of

those broad passages which were known to turn off to the

westward, from Whampoa Reach. It was thought likely

to lead, indirectly, even to Canton, and might therefore

greatly facilitate the advance of our forces upon the

city. It has already been stated , that it was a matter

of surprise that these channels had never been properly

explored by foreigners ; though a passage of some sort

or other was well known to exist on either side of French

and Dane's Islands.

Captain Elliot himself was very anxious upon this

subject, and offered a reward of one hundred dollars to

any active fisherman or pilot who would point out the

best channel. It was thought probable also that there

were several channels, some perhaps large enough

for our sloops, of which we were hitherto perfectly


A pilot soon offered his services, in consideration of

the handsome reward ; although there appeared little

doubt of the Nemesis being able to find a passage for

herself (drawing so little water) without any pilot at all.

Soon after nine o'clock the Nemesis got under weigh,

under the direction of Captain Herbert, having Captain

Elliot and other officers on board . The object was not

to make any minute survey of the passage ; but merely

to ascertain, by a cursory examination, the nature of the

channel, and in what direction it was likely to terminate.

Leaving Dane’s and French Islands to the southward, they

proceeded very cautiously to thread their way through


the shoals or mud-banks which were found in the pas

sage. The country on both sides was low and swampy ,

but the channel was not found blocked up by sunken

junks or stones, as it had been in other parts ; probably

because the Chinese hardly expected that any attempt

would be made to pass through it, and partly because

the river into which it led (the Broadway or Macao

passage ) had been already sufficiently fortified and ob

structed . They passed a deserted battery and one or

two small villages.

In the course of a couple of hours, during which time

they had advanced slowly, with a depth of water from

two to three fathoms, they came in sight of a circular

stone fort, with a tower or pagoda upon it, apparently

between two and three miles distant.

As the truce had not yet expired, it was not thought

right to proceed further for the present ; but they had

already reached the point of junction with the Macao

passage, or Broadway River, in the middle of which the

fort (which was afterwards called the Macao Fort) was

situated . Enough had been ascertained to serve as a

guide for future operations ; and the Nemesis, passing

round a small island at the head of the passage, re

turned the same way she had come, and rejoined

the squadron at Whampoa. It was through this pas-.

sage that some of our vessels proceeded, a few days

afterwards, to the attack of the fort, which has been

noticed above.

On the following day, the 6th, the truce expired .

But there was any thing but a peaceable disposition

shown on the part of the Chinese authorities. They


issued strict orders that none of the natives should

supply provisions to our ships. The boats which had

hitherto come fearlessly alongside our vessels all on

a sudden disappeared ; and it was known at Canton

that the native merchants were compelled to remove

all the tea and silk out of the town. All this looked as

if they were determined to come to no amicable settle

ment, and to prevent any kind of trade whatever being

carried on with the foreigners. It is possible, also, that

they fully expected that their city would be captured,

and therefore encouraged the removal of the valuable


In consequence of these proceedings, a proclamation

was addressed by Captain Elliot to the people of Can

ton, telling them that they were quite at our mercy,

and that the city was only spared “ in order to show

how tenderly the good and peaceable inhabitants were

considered ” (by the English). But it was added , that,

“ if the authorities should continue to prevent the na

tive merchants from buying and selling with the foreign

merchants, then the whole trade of Canton was to be .


immediately stopped , and the city strictly blockaded.”

It then wound up by throwing “ the whole responsi

bility of the present state of things upon the bad ad


visers of the emperor .

Preparations were now made for an immediate ad

vance upon the city ; and it was a favourite notion of

Captain Elliot, that he could blockade all the ap

proaches to Canton, and thus, by cutting off its im

mense internal commerce, upon which thousands de



pend for their living, and nearly the whole population

for its supplies of food , constrain the authorities to

come to some reasonable terms, without any further

necessity for a resort to arms.



Expiration of the truce — Napier's Fort - Rafts across the river - Prepa

rations for its capture-Sulphur-And Nemesis—Chinese abandon

the fort – Nemesis returns down Fiddler's Reach - New works of the

Chinese – Scenery of the river - Operations again suspended - Sir

Hugh Gough returns to Wantung - Keshen leaves Canton for Pekin

in disgrace — Chinese hostility - Notices by Captain Elliot — Expedi

tion up the Broadway or Inner Passage under Captain Scott — Nemesis

with boats of Samarang and Atalanta_Entrance to the Inner Passage

-Nemesis attacks Motow — Capture of Tei-yat-kok — War- junks in

sight — Stone Fort, and river staked across (Houchung) — Field -work

( Fei -shu -kok ) - War -junks destroyed -- Pass through large town

(Heong Shan ) -Apathy of the people — Masked battery — Sheong

Chap— Narrowness of the channel — Kong-How Battery — River -

staked across - Mode of removing the piles — Assistance volunteered

by the peasantry — Military station destroyed — Custom House and


war- junk fired -Tam - chow — Military station at Tsenei destroyed

with war-junks, &c.—Channel leading into the river at Second Bar

Nemesis joins the advanced squadron at Whampoa — Reflections— Re

marks on the Ladrones - Fishermen turn smugglers and pirates.

The proclamation addressed by Captain Elliot to the

people of Canton, last alluded to, was certainly intended

to obviate, if possible, the further effusion of blood,

and, by calming the public mind, to prevent the total

cessation of trade. Moreover, he addressed a request

at the same time to the naval and military commanders

in -chief, that they would make no further movements

BB 2


towards the city until the disposition of the provincial

officers could be put to the test. All the private infor

mation which could be gathered , however, tended to

shew that further delay was likely to be useless, and even


As soon, therefore, as the day for the expiration of

the truce had arrived, the Nemesis was ordered to con

vey Captain Elliot, with the commodore and the major

general, together with their respective suites, up to

Howqua's Fort, having the broad pendant flying ; there

several other ships of the advanced squadron were

already at anchor. The flag of truce was then lowered,

and immediate dispositions were made for the capture of

Napier's Fort, which was a little distance higher up.

A little more than half aa mile above the upper end of

Whampoa lies another small, low, alluvial island, which

divides the river into two branches ; and upon the lower

extremity of it stood a semicircular fort, designed to

command the passage on either side. This was called

Napier's Fort, from having been built expressly to com

memorate the discomfiture and ultimate death of that

lamented nobleman ; as if it were a source of pride to

the Chinese, and of humiliation to his own countrymen .

It mounted thirty -five guns .

A little below the fort a strong double line of piles

had been driven into the bed of the river, completely

across from one bank to the other. These were strength

ened by sunken junks ; and the passage was further

blocked up by large stones thrown into the river, and

other impediments. There were flanking batteries also

on either side, recently built of mud, and not quite


finished ; they were intended to mount thirty - five and

forty - four guns .

These positions were capable ofbeing stoutly defended ,

had they been fully armed and manned. Such , however,

was not the case ; and, as the commandant of the fort

was inclined to exhibit the same compliant disposition

as his gallant companion in arms had shewn at Howqua's

Fort below, no resistance was offered ; in fact, the gar

rison all ran away as soon as they had fired off their

guns, having previously intimated their intention , and

succeeded in making good their escape .

The Sulphur, accompanied by some of the boats of

the squadron, managed to get up first, and took posses

sion ; followed by the Nemesis, with the commodore on

board, and other vessels. A detachment of troops had

been sent round by the general, with a view to take the

flanking -batteries in the rear ; but, as it now appeared

that they were undefended, and as the march over

swampy paddy -fields, and across numerous watercourses,

was anything but agreeable, and not likely now to be

useful, they returned to the joss-house below. In the

afternoon, the Nemesis proceeded with the commodore

and Captain Elliot down to Whampoa, passing along

the western side of that island, by the channel which

was known by the name of Fiddler's Reach ; she had

therefore gone completely round Whampoa Island in

the course of the day ; for she went up by the east

ern or Junk river side, and came down by the western

or Fiddler's Reach passage, proving the practicabi

lity of both channels for vessels of small draught of



It may be well here to notice that, at a subsequent

period, after the fall of Canton, and when the Chinese

were prevented by us from renewing or extending any

of the defences of the river below Whampoa, they set

about strengthening the positions above that island with

all the resources they could employ. Before the close

of the war, they not only rebuilt Napier's Fort in a

much more substantial manner, but fortified all that line

of the river, upon a plan, much superior to any they had

hitherto attempted .

Three other large stone forts have been built with

a view to command the navigation of this part of the

river ; namely, one on each bank of the river opposite

Napier's Fort, and one about half a mile lower down, at

the point where the river is still strongly staked across.

Viewed from the river, all these new forts look ex

tremely formidable, being built entirely of stone, of con

siderable height, and calculated to mount little less

than two hundred guns. The structure of all these new

works is of a superior kind to any before seen in

China ; and it is generally supposed that they have been

built at the suggestion or with the assistance of some

European engineer. But, as usual in China, the rear

of the forts is almost entirely unprotected , except by a

stone wall ; and, were it not that the advance of an enemy

on that side would be greatly impeded by ditches and

paddy-fields, which would oppose difficulties to the

bringing up of artillery, they could be captured without

any extraordinary effort.

Whatever may have been the policy of permitting the

Chinese to rebuild any of their forts, or to strengthen


the approaches to Canton, as long as the war lasted, it

is not doubted that it was looked upon as a sort of tri

umph by them ; and, gradually as they saw these fine

forts rising up unobstructed before their eyes, while the

English were carrying on operations to the northward, at

Amoy, Ningpo, and elsewhere, the people of Canton

began to think that they could make the city impreg

nable for the future.

The forbearance which we had always shewn induced

many of the inhabitants even to doubt at last whether

their city had ever been at our mercy at all ; and the

insulting gestures and presumptuous bearing of many of

the people employed in constructing these forts, as we

happened to pass by them in an open boat after the

peace, shewed that they looked forward with confidence

to the protection of these new forts.

The scenery about Whampoa, and between that island

and Canton, throughout all the channels, is very pic

turesque. The fine pagoda upon Whampoa, rising up,

as it were, out of a little mount of wood, and another

similar one on the mainland higher up , surrounded by

rich fields, and numerous winding streams, are striking

objects. A few scattered farm -houses, with their large,

curved, angular roofs, together with the village of Wham

poa, and the numerous boats of all shapes and sizes

plying upon the river, present a peculiar and thoroughly

Chinese prospect.

The short pause in our operations, which now again

It is remarkable that only one pagoda was seen in Pekin by Lord

Macartney's embassy, and none whatever on the Peiho River, nor at any

place between Tiensin and Pekin.


took place at the request of Captain Elliot, was pre

cisely in accordance with the liberal assurances of the

most pacific intentions on the part of the Chinese. Their

acts, however, by no means agreed with their words.

It was perfectly ascertained that a large number of

fire- vessels were being prepared a few miles above Can

ton ; that new defences were being constructed around

the city, particularly upon the heights in its rear ; and

that people were removing their property from the

town, and no valuable produce was allowed to be brought

into it . Sir Gordon Bremer distinctly expressed his

conviction that the measure of attacking Canton itself

would have speedily to be resorted to ; although he de

plored the excesses to which it might give rise, owing

to the abandonment of the city by the authorities, and

the absence of control over the rabble of a community

proverbially bad. The major -general. now went down

the river, and remained at Wantung with the commo

dore, where plans for the future operations were de

vised .

About this time, Keshen, whose functions had already

ceased, left Canton for Pekin, in disgrace, in order to be

put upon his trial for traitorous conduct, as his unfor

tunate defeats were now termed . The result was, that

he was utterly degraded ; all his property, which was

enormously valuable, was confiscated, and he himself

banished to the cold regions of Tartary.

On the 10th, despatches were sent up by the Nemesis

from Captain Elliot (who in the mean time had gone to

Macao) to the commodore at the Bogue, in consequence

of the Chinese authorities having issued chops or pass


ports for all ships, except British, to proceed up the

river to trade, as far as Whampoa . This act of open

defiance could not be overlooked , and Captain Elliot

himself seems to have been struck with the hostile

temper which this proceeding evinced. A notice was,

in consequence , issued to the effect, “ that, as the port

of Canton, from its entrance to its extremity, was in the

military occupation of her Majesty's arms, no ships

whatever would be permitted to enter the river, except

under the authority of the commander - in -chief ; and,

moreover, that a close embargo would be laid on the

city and trade of Canton, until the whole of their

foreign trade should be placed upon a perfectly equal

footing, without any exception whatever.”

So far, then, it was very evident that our previous

forbearance, when actually in sight of Canton , had not

been followed by any good result. In point of fact, it

had not been understood, and was certainly looked upon

rather as an evidence of conscious weakness on our

part,, than as what

' it actually was -- an instance of for

bearance, resulting from conscious strength .

It was, probably, the necessity which he now felt of

striking some blow calculated to make an immediate

impression upon the Chinese, which induced Captain

Elliot to direct his attention to one of the most boldly

conceived and successfully -executed exploits which have

to be recorded during this campaign. It appears to

have struck him almost on a sudden ; and, finding

that Captain Scott, of the Samarang, who was then se

nior officer at Macao, and also Captain Hall, of the Ne

mesis, entirely concurred with him in his views, it was


resolved that not a moment should be lost. Above all, it

was kept perfectly secret ; so that no rumour of any new

project could reach any of the inhabitants of Macao,

either Portuguese or Chinese. The undertaking to which

I allude became afterwards generally known, as the

forcing of the Broadway, or Inner, or Macao Passage,

( for it has obtained all these names) by the Nemesis, ac

companied by three boats, viz., two belonging to the

Samarang, and one to the Atalanta steamer. This

passage leads direct from Macao to Canton , but had

been hitherto frequented only by native boats ; indeed,,

no others were permitted to pass through it. This was

one of those numerous opportunities in which the Ne

mesis so clearly demonstrated the great advantage to

be derived from the employment of shallow iron steamers,

in hostile operations along the course of unexplored


The exploit was spoken of in very handsome terms,

both by the plenipotentiary and the commodore in their

public despatches, and attracted the notice of every one

connected with the service. Too much credit cannot

be given to Captain Scott, Captain Hall, and the other

officers and men, whose united zeal and hearty co

operation produced results so important and deci


It must here be remarked that this intricate passage

was one never before traversed by any European vessel or

boat, and believed by the Chinese themselves to be inac

cessible to foreigners, both owing to the shallowness

and intricacy of its channels, and to the number and

strength of the artificial defences erected on its banks.


It can, perhaps, be scarcely called a distinct river, but

may be rather considered as in reality one of those almost

innumerable channels, which present themselves to view

on every side along the whole sea-board of China ; di

viding and then reuniting, sometimes receiving large

branches, sometimes throwing them off, here commu

nicating with other rivers, and there even traversing

across them . It is difficult to ascertain, with regard to

many of them, whether they are distinct rivers, or

branches, or mere watercourses, leading from one to

the other. In short, with respect more particularly to

the country about Canton, the whole of it appears to be

subdivided , again and again , by these ever-multiplying

channels, which form a sort of fluid network , embracing

the soil it nourishes and reproduces. Many of these

are only known, among the Chinese themselves, by

those who depend on them for subsistence ; and who,

rarely quitting them, make their boat their floating

home .

On leaving the roads of Macao, and proceeding nearly

due west, after passing the town and the entrance to

the Inner Harbour beyond it, you come into a straight

but rather shallow channel, which continues in the same

direction along the southern shore of the island called

Twee-Lien -Shan. Having reached its western extre

mity, which is about four miles from Macao, you very

shortly enter the mouth of a river, which is broad but

shallow and becomes narrower as you proceed up to

wards the north-west, by the gradual contraction of its

shores. This is the entrance to the Broadway, or Inner


See map .


Passage. Several openings were soon perceived on both

sides, probably the mouths of smaller rivers or creeks,

entering the larger channel. The proper opening of the

Inner Passage begins about six miles from the western

point of Twee - Lien - Shan Island, but the narrow part of

it is about four miles further on .

Let us now imagine ourselves just embarked on board

the Nemesis in Macao roads, at three o'clock in the

morning (rather an unpleasant hour, even in that cli

X mate) on the 13th of March , all the arrangements

having been completed the day before. Already, Cap

tain Elliot and suite are on board ; and Captain Scott

of the Samarang, who commands the force, is standing

on the quarter-deck, with the other officers, impatient to

start, while the boats of the Samarang and that of the

Atalanta are being made fast astern. And we must also

not omit to record that Mr. Johnston, the deputy super

intendent of trade, and also Mr. Morrison and Mr. Thom,

the indefatigable interpreters and secretaries,' the value

of whose services throughout the war it is impossible too

highly to appreciate, were also on board during this ex


Having quitted the town of Macao with the utmost

1 Not only on this, but on many other occasions, these gentlemen were

personally exposed to the fire of the enemy, little less than either soldiers

or sailors. They showed the utmost coolness and personal courage; and

it is but justice to them to remark that their presence was always of

the greatest value in every operation, even though unarmed, and, as non

belligerents, unnoticed. Their knowledge of the language and their

goodjudgment frequently enlisted in our favour the people of the country,

who might have offered great annoyance, and they were often able to

mitigate the hardships even ofwar itself.


quietness, leaving all the world asleep, and unconscious

of any movement, they soon fell in with a large junk at

anchor, which was fortunately able to furnish a pilot,

one of her crew being taken out, not without reluctance,

for that purpose. At first the poor fellow was very

much frightened , but, finding that he was well treated ,

well fed , and good pay promised, he soon became recon

ciled to his position, and behaved well throughout. Du

ring the day he seemed very little concerned about the

firing either of the steamer or of his own countrymen,

and piloted the vessel, as far as his knowledge extended ,

up the river very accurately.

The progress was at first slow , owing to the shallow

ness of the water, which often did not much exceed five

feet (little enough for a vessel of more than six hundred

tons burden) ; indeed, the pilot himselfmaintained that it

would be impossible for the vessel to proceed : and it

may be noticed that the soundings at the entrance were

not found so deep as laid down in Horsburgh's chart, in

which they are partially given . However, on she went,

nothing daunted either by mud, sand, or water, or even

by the shallowness of the river.

Day had now long dawned ; and, at eight o'clock,

she came in sight of a fort on the starboard -hand, which

proved to be situated on a small promontory on the

left bank of the river. It is called Motow, and is situated

some distance below a point where the main channel

separates into two branches. Half an hour afterwards,

the Nemesis was near enough to take up a position to

the southward of the fort, so that she could fire directly


into it without any of the enemy's guns being able to

bear upon her ; in fact, she enfiladed the position.

Upon this the fort was abandoned by the Chinese, whose

flight was accelerated by their seeing that the boats

were putting off to attack them . The place was imme

diately taken possession of, the buildings of every

description set on fire, and the guns, thirteen in number,

rendered unserviceable. The boat's crews were again

on board the Nemesis in about an hour, and she pursued

her course without loss of time.

About four miles further on, just above where the

river becomes more contracted by its division, a second

fort was discovered, also situated on the left bank.

The position was well chosen, upon a rising ground, at

some distance from the river -side, but commanding the

whole bend or reach of the river in front of it. It was

built of mud, but protected nearly all round by flooded

paddy -grounds.

On this occasion , the Chinese were the first to open

their fire upon the Nemesis, as she rounded an inter

vening point of land, and entered the reach above

mentioned . They

They kept up their fire, at first, very

smartly, having probably trained all their guns to bear

upon one particular point. It was most effectu

ally returned by the steamer, with shot, shell, and

rockets, which were thrown (as officially reported by

Captain Scott himself ) with remarkable accuracy . The

boats again put off to land, under cover of the rising

bank on the river-side, with the intention of taking

the position in flank ; but the Chinese at once abandoned

their works ; though, if they had resisted the advance,


they might have inflicted severe loss, as the party could

only approach the fort along a narrow causeway, in

single file. The works were immediately taken pos

session of, and were found to mount either twelve or

fourteen guns, which were of course destroyed , as were

also the sheds and buildings within the fort, which ,

however, were of very recent construction, and of a

temporary nature.

Before returning to the steamer, the boats pulled

across to the opposite side of the river, where a large

Chop-house and military depôt were likewise destroyed.

The name of the fort, or field -work, above described

was Tei- yat-kok. At this point, several other China

men were taken on board as pilots, for the better navi

gation of the channel through which they had now to

proceed .

They had ascended a very little way further up the

river, when, to the joy of every one, they espied nine war

junks, under weigh, a considerable distance ahead, and

chace was given at full speed, in spite of all obstacles

of the navigation. The interest and excitement mo

mentarily increased , as, every mile they advanced, served

i See the map of the Canton River, in which the chart of the Broad

way or Macao Passage is reduced from a very large Chinese manuscript,

kindly lent by Captain Scott, who states that he found it approxima

tively correct. Indeed, it was the best guide to the Nemesis ( except the

lead ) as she proceeded, for the native pilots were not found to be of

much use.

The distances from place to place, however, cannot be de

pended on as exact ; but, in the original manuscript, every fort and

military station was marked in its proper position. The names given in

Captain Scott's despatch are spelt somewhat differently from what they

appear on the original chart, but, upon the whole, they are sufficiently



to lead them to the conclusion that the Chinese were

better prepared for defence than had been at all ex

pected. Indeed, it was not a little remarkable that a

passage never before explored by foreigners should have

been found in a state of preparation against attack, by

forts of old standing and solid construction, as well as

by works of recent and temporary formation .

On entering the bend of the river in which the junks

had been first caught sight of, a considerable stone-built

fort was discovered, called Houchung, or Ha -chap, close to

the river's side, upon its right bank (on the left hand as

cending), in front of which, and perfectly commanded by

it, piles had been driven across the river, so as to obstruct

the navigation. But the work had apparently not been

quite finished, and a narrow opening was still left in the

centre, through which the junks had already passed, in

order to take up a more secure position, as they thought,

on the other side. The fort mounted fourteen or fifteen

guns. But there was also another and smaller fort close

to it, built of earth, and not yet finished, being without

guns, but having ten embrasures.

Here again the Chinese were the first to begin

firing, both from the fort and junks; but it was re

turned with precision and rapidity by the Nemesis,

under cover of which the boats pushed off to storm the

fort. This was effected without much difficulty, through

the embrasures. The fall of the fort, of course, left

the passage through the stakes quite unprotected, ex

cept by the junks ; but the Chinese sailors were so

panic-struck by the rapidity with which the fort had



Houchung River









been taken , and by the approach of the boats, which

were now making their way through the stakes to

attack them , that seven out of the nine were run

ashore by their crews,—when they immediately jumped

overboard and escaped, leaving their vessels entirely at

our mercy .

Just as the boats came up to take possession, a field

work on the left bank, within little more than a hun

dred yards of the headmost junk, opened fire on them

unexpectedly with grape-shot. As the junks were

already abandoned, a strong party at once landed, under

Lieutenant Bower, and carried the field -work, by passing

round to its rear, which, as usual with the Chinese,

was left almost unprotected. This place, which was

called Fie-shu-kok, was set on fire and destroyed, to

gether with the seven guns which were mounted on it.

The war-junks were likewise set on fire, and blew up

very shortly after. But the two which had not been

run ashore contrived to make good their escape.

During the time that these operations were being

effected, Captain Hall had dexterously succeeded in

getting his steamer through the stakes, by the same

opening through which the junks had passed, and which

barely afforded room for her paddle-boxes. The flood

tide was now running up with great rapidity, and she

was therefore dropped through the passage, being

steadied by kedges and hawsers, two of which had to

be cut away, and left behind.

She now joined the boats opposite Fie-shu-kok ; and,

as soon as the destruction of the junks and works had

been completed, it was resolved to push on further up



the river, in the hope of overtaking the two junks which

had got away. Altogether, twenty-one guns had been

destroyed in these forts, and twenty - eight more in the

junks. But the impression made through all the

neighbouring country, by these active measures, was far

more important than the mere destruction of a certain

number of guns .

At half-past three they arrived at the large trading

town of Heong-Shan , about five or six miles further

up. The river flows straight through the middle of it,

so that they found themselves unexpectedly in the

centre of an important inland town, in which, if it had

been their object, it was easily within their power to

inflict severe injury upon a dense and apparently harm

less population. But it has been mentioned before,

that much suffering was spared, by the assistance

of Mr. Morrison and Mr. Thom. Captain Elliot also

exerted himself very much to prevent the peasantry or

mere lookers-on from being implicated ; and he some

times allowed even the armed soldiers to escape, rather

than run the risk of injuring the innocent. The object

was to confine hostilities, as much as possible, to

the servants and property of the Chinese government,

leaving the people uninjured .

The good effect of this policy was soon very evident.

The inhabitants of this populous town appeared to

regard with very little apprehension the approach of

the steamer, and seemed more moved by curiosity and

astonishment at her structure and locomotive power,

than alarmed by any dread of her hostile intentions.

The people crowded upon the banks of the river ; the


house-tops and the surrounding hills were covered with

curious gazers, wondering what strange event would

happen next. Hundreds of trading junks and boats of

various kinds, most of them the sole home of their

owners, were crowded together on both sides of the

river, throughout the town, and even above and below

it. The river was narrow, and so densely were the

boats packed, that the only passage left was directly

in the centre of the stream , where, as if by mutual

consent, a clear way had been left, only just broad

enough to allow the steamer to pass ; requiring some

dexterity to avoid running foul of the junks on either


It is very curious that so large a body of people

should have looked on with so little apparent fear, par

ticularly as they could well perceive that the steamer

was in chase of two war-junks, which had preceded her,

followed by several mandarin-boats, in which the man

darins or authorities of the town were endeavouring to

make their escape, in the greatest consternation. One

of the war -junks, finding that it was impossible to keep

ahead of the steamer, which was rapidly gaining on

her, was run ashore, some distance above the town, by

her crew, who immediately jumped overboard, and had

only just time to escape before the steamer came up.

She was at once boarded, and then set fire to and blown

up . She carried four guns . It was now observed that

Chinese soldiers were gathering thickly upon the neigh

bouring hills, as if meditating a descent, but a shot or


two thrown in amongst them served to put them to


CC 2


Just at this moment a masked battery, concealed by

some trees, not more than a couple of hundred yards

ahead, imprudently betrayed itself by opening its fire

on the steamer ; nor was this the only instance in which

small forts or field - works would have been passed un

seen and uninjured, had they not expended useless pow

der in making a smoke, which at once betrayed them.

The fire was instantly returned, and served to cover the

boats, which put off with the marines of the Samarang

to storm the works. Eight guns were found in it, which,

together with the buildings and magazine, were of course

destroyed. This place was called Sheongchap, and was

situated just below a point where the river divides, or

rather where two branches unite.

It being now past six, p.m., it was thought proper to

anchor for the night, after a very severe day's work for

all hands since three in the morning. The Nemesis, having

proceeded a little distance above Sheongchap, found

herself getting into very shallow water, and therefore

anchored for the night. The channel was so narrow that

it was impossible to turn the vessel round, scarcely even

by forcing her bows hard aground over the banks. She

was anchored head and stern , and guard -boats were

placed round her all night, for fear of any attempt at


On the following morning, the 14th, the Nemesis

again pursued her course up what appeared to be the

principal branch, but which became so shallow that it

was doubtful how far she would be able to proceed ;

she had seldom more than six feet water, and in many

places only five, so that she was frequently forced through


the mud itself. There was not room to turn her fairly

round, and the only mode in which she could be ma

naged was by sometimes driving her bows as far as pos

sible into the river's bank, sometimes her stern ; while at

other times it was hard to say whether she was proceed

ing over a flooded paddy- field, or in the channel of a

watercourse . This gave occasion to a facetious remark,

in which sailors sometimes delight, that this “ would be

a new way of going overland to England .”

After proceeding only three or four miles, a village

came in sight, with a fort adjoining, and rather above

it. This was afterwards found to be named Kong-How.

Nearly opposite the fort the river was again found to be

staked across, much more strongly than it was at Hou

chong; and it was in a similar manner commanded by

the guns of the fort. The Nemesis, as soon as she came

within good range, opened her fire warmly upon the fort,

which the Chinese returned . The boats pushed off as

usual ; but the moment the marines and a party of sea

men began to land, the Chinese abandoned the fort in

confusion .

On the upper side of the fort, sand -bags were found

recently piled up against the walls, as if the Chinese had

expected the attack to be made on that side ; which

shows that they anticipated that an attempt would

be made to explore these passages, but that they rather

looked for it from the side of Tycocktow than from

Macao. The works, with their nine guns and magazine,

were afterwards all blown up at once.

The principal obstacle now remaining to be got rid

of was one more troublesome than all the forts together,


or any impediment yet met with. The line of piles

which had been driven in across the river was not less

than twenty feet wide, or rather it was a double line,

filled up between the two with large sunken junks laden

with stones. Great labour and perseverance were re

quired to get up sufficient of these piles to clear a passage

broad enough for the steamer to pass. This was only

accomplished after four hours' hard work, in which, oddly

enough, the Chinese peasantry bore an active part, volun

tarily coming forward to assist, and even venturing to

come on board the steamer itself. This was undoubtedly

one of the good results of not having inflicted any in

jury upon the country people or inhabitants of the vil

lages through which the little expedition had passed.

Inquiry has often been made what method was adopted

in order to open aa passage through obstacles such as I

have described. It may, therefore, be here remarked

that several modes were at different times resorted to,

according to circumstances. Where the stakes were

not driven in very firmly, it was easy, by fastening a

hawser round the top of them, and making it fast to the

steamer, to back her out, and pull them one by one away ;

but as this was a tedious process, a hawser was some

times fastened round ten or a dozen of them in a line

across the river, and carried from one to the other, but

fastened to each of them in such a way as to leave

about a few fathoms of slack rope between each pair.

The end of the hawser was made fast to the steamer

with a tolerable length of line out, and she was then

backed at full speed . The momentum thus acquired

was soon sufficient to drag the first pile away with a


jerk ; and this one being fastened already to the next, as

before described , with a fathom or two of slack line be

tween them, the force of the steamer, which still continued

to back astern , was sufficient to jerk that one away

also ; and thus proceeding at full speed backwards, the

steamer pulled them all away one after the other, still

remaining fastened together by the hawser ; but the

power of the jerk was only applied to one at a time.

In cases where the stakes were driven in to some

depth, or where the bed of the river was tenacious, it

was necessary to pull them fairly out perpendicularly,

by luff-tackle led up to the mast-head . The piles were

gradually loosened a little, by being pulled to and fro ;

for which purpose chain-slings were passed round the

head of the pile, and a hawser being then made fast, was

led aft along the deck ; thus, by being pulled in various

directions, sometimes one way, and sometimes another,

the pile was at length drawn fairly out, something like

drawing a tooth. The bows of the steamer were run

nearly close up to the piles during this operation, and

she was steadied by a hawser run out from the quarter

to the banks of the river .

A great point seems to lie in the management of the

steamer itself, so as to be able to apply the power in

the proper direction, and at the right moment. This is

the more important, as the stream is generally pouring

through or over the stakes with the greater impetuosity, >

owing to the obstruction it meets with from the obsta

cles in its way. This also constitutes the difficulty of

getting through the opening, even after it is once made.

It is often necessary to lay out a kedge on each bow to


steady the vessel, as she works her way through, and to

prevent her from falling broadside on to the stream .

Generally on these occasions the water was shallow ,

so that it was necessary to raise both keels of the vessel,

and also the drop -rudder, and therefore it was sometimes

extremely difficult to steer her under those circum

stances, and the use of the kedges became the more

necessary . In the present instance a space of twenty

two feet was opened, and the steamer was got thro

with considerable care and some difficulty.

A little above this obstruction a large chop -house or

mandarin-station came into view, with a mandarin

barge lying just off it. A shot fired into the principal

building soon drove out all the soldiers who had taken

refuge in it ;—probably the mandarin's guard . The boats

were now sent ashore, and soon destroyed the whole of

the buildings, together with the mandarin - boat, with

a gun and two ginjals.. It was not possible for the

steamer to tow any of the boats or junks away with

her, because she was continually touching the ground,

and frequently forcing herself through the mud , so that

it would have been impossible to have got on at all if

she had been impeded by any other encumbrance ; they

were therefore all destroyed.

As soon as the boats had all returned from their ser

vice on shore, the steamer pushed on again, and the

water began to deepen ; so that at half-past six she

was able to come to anchor for the night in five

fathoms water. From this point the high rock of Lan

keet, in the Canton river, could be easily recognized,

bearing about due east, and not very far distant .


On the morning of the 15th, having proceeded about

three miles further on, a large village, called Tamchow,


came into view, on the left bank of the river. Here a

party of matchlock-men were observed crouching along

the banks of the river, endeavouring to pass unnoticed .

A few rounds of musketry at once dispersed them.

Again the steamer pursued her course, without find

ing any thing particularly worthy of notice for a couple

of hours, when she came to a large town on the left

bank of the river (it is remarkable that nearly all their

towns and villages were on that side), which was called

Tsenei, just above a place called Kwan, close to which

two or three dismantled and abandoned forts had been

passed. Here the chop or custom -house, which was

also a sort of military station, by the water-side, was

set on fire and destroyed . A large war-junk, also

(probably the one which had before escaped), which

mounted seven guns, was captured and blown up,

the crew having abandoned it on the approach of the

“ devil-ship. ”

Above this point the channel again became very nar

row and shallow . The Chinese pilots now declared

that it would be impossible for the steamer to proceed

much higher up, as the passage was only deep enough

for boats. Having nearly reached a small place, called

Weichung, the Nemesis was at length compelled to de

sist from the attempt to pursue her course further in

that direction, particularly as it was now ebb-tide.

Several other channels could be seen on both sides, and

one in particular appeared to lead to the eastward,

towards the main branch of the Canton river, below


Whampoa. Accordingly, it was resolved to follow this

latter branch, with a view to join the advanced squadron,

if possible.

In this short passage a considerable walled town was

passed, at the distance of less than half a mile, with

which the communication was kept up by means of a

canal, which could be seen to enter the town under a

large arch, or bridge. Upon this a great number of

people were collected, to watch the progress of the

steamer . The country around it was extremely well

cultivated, and the peasants were busy at their agricul

tural operations, without any apparent fear. Shortly

afterwards the Nemesis found herself entering the main

river, at a very short distance below the pagoda at the

Second Bar, and proceeded without delay to join the

light squadron which was at anchor in Whampoa Reach,

and received the congratulations of all parties. Captain

Elliot and suite then left the Nemesis, and proceeded

on board Captain Herbert's ship, the Calliope.

Thus ended this singular and highly successful expe

dition of three days, up the Broadway passage, during

which so much had been done towards disabling and

annoying the enemy by the steamer, assisted by the

boats before mentioned, and the marines of the Sama

rang, all under the direction of Captain Scott. This

exploit would have gratified most men, even as the

work of a single vessel, for a whole campaign. It

need hardly be added, that Captain Scott was the

first to acknowledge and to bring to public notice the

value of the services of the Nemesis on this occasion ;

and Captain Elliot, who was an eye-witness of all


these operations, bore similar testimony to their impor

tance. They were also mentioned in flattering terms

by the commodore, in his public despatch. It must not

be omitted that all the officers of the vessel nobly and

energetically bore their share in the labours and dan

gers of the undertaking ; and those who belonged to the

boats of the Samarang and the Atalanta were equally

conspicuous, and had opportunities of distinguishing

themselves on shore.

The result of this expedition was highly beneficial, >

and afforded more insight into the nature of the coun

try, and gave a more correct estimate of the resources

of the Chinese, than could have been expected within

so short a distance from Macao. Indeed, considering

how long that place had been the resort of Europeans,

it was astonishing how little was known of its neigh

bourhood . The country on both sides of the passage

was found to be fertile and highly cultivated ; while, in

the neighbourhood of the villages, the banks of the river

were laid out in neatly cultivated gardens. Every

where there prevailed an air of comfort and of thriving


The peaceable and, one may almost say, the apathetic

bearing of the people generally, and their refraining

from all hostile demonstrations, are worthy of notice ;

particularly when we remember that they must not only

1 It should be here mentioned that Mr. Johnston, the assistant-super

intendent of trade, was also on board the Nemesis during this expedition :

also that Captain Larkins, who formerly commanded one of the East

India Company's vessels, and had been long acquainted with the Chinese

character, volunteered his valuable services upon the occasion.


have heard of, but even perhaps been witnesses to, the

engagements at the Bogue, at Chuenpee, at the First

Bar, and elsewhere. Much, perhaps, may be attributed

to the valuable presence of Mr. Morrison and Mr. Thom ,

who, from their accurate knowledge of the character of

the people, knew well how to allay their fears, and con

ciliate even their good offices. These gentlemen were

nevertheless not always able to avoid exposure to dan

ger, in landing with the boats, when the forts were

taken possession of, and in holding parleys with the

people. The whole loss on our side, during this adven

turous trip, was fortunately only three men wounded.

Altogether, one hundred and fifteen guns were destroyed,

together with nine war-junks; and several armed man

darin-boats, six batteries, and three government chop

houses or military stations, together with barracks and

magazines, were also taken and set on fire.

One simple but very natural question will now sug

gest itself. We have seen that,, even in channels un

frequented by Europeans, and only partially known to

exist, the Chinese were found to be well provided with

means of defence, not of recent construction only, but

many of them evidently of long standing. But the

Chinese government had not been at war with neigh

bouring nations, nor could they have erected these in

ternal defences against any possible future outbreak

of the foreigners who traded with Canton . The latter

had usually been very “ respectfully obedient ; ” and,

even if they had been disposed at an earlier period to

come to blows with the Chinese, their measures would

have been directed almost exclusively against the Bogue


forts, which protected the main channel of the Canton

river, leading to Whampoa. This Inner or Broadway

Passage was, at all events, too shallow and intricate to

admit of the passage of large ships ; and indeed we

have seen that even the Nemesis had failed in making

her way through the upper portion of it.

Against whom then, we may ask , or for what purpose,

were the numerous forts erected ? The government

might have thought proper to occupy the principal

strong positions , with a view to strengthen themselves

against any outbreak or insubordination of their own

people ; and disturbances of this kind have not been

unfrequent, even in despotic and obedient China . But

it is far more probable that these defences of their

“ inner waters” were designed to keep in check the


dangerous incursions of pirates, or “ Water Braves,”

who have always infested the coast of China , and have

been great enemies to its commerce , and a source of

uneasiness to its government . In a country in which

so large a portion of the population make their per

manent home upon the waters, some upon the innume

rable canals and rivers which intersect it in all directions ,

others along the extensive sea-coast and among its

numerous islands , it is not surprising that pirates , or,

as the Portuguese call them , Ladrones , should at all

times abound .

The means of subsistence being frequently precarious

among so populous a nation, and at no time to be ac

quired without careful industry, and, at the same time,

the real weakness of the government, in spite of its bom

bastic edicts, have combined to make the temptation to


piracy almost irresistible. In not a few instances the

government have been compelled even to conciliate or

buy over the depredators ; and, in spite of all their

efforts to suppress them , the Ladrones have never ceased

to infest the coast to a greater or less extent. The

temptations are always numerous, and the desperate

characters who gain their living by smuggling are, at

all times, as likely to gain it by robbing, whenever the

opportunity may appear more favourable. Hence, we

can scarcely wonder that the pirates had long become

bold , enterprising, well- organized, and successful in their

efforts, directed, however, almost exclusively against

their own countrymen , along the whole coast.

Such as were the banditti of Italy and Spain not

long ago, or the klephts of Greece, or the robbers of

Hounslow Heath in times past — such have been for

centuries the pirates or ladrones of China. They are,


in fact, the highwaymen of the “ Celestial Empire ;" for

their rivers and water -communications are essentially

their highways.

Under these circumstances, we are led to the con

clusion, that nearly all these defences in the Broadway

Passage had been constructed more with a view to the

defence of the river against the Chinese themselves, than

under any apprehension that the foreigners would ever

force their way into it. This supposition is further

borne out by the fact that, even during the short ex

pedition of the Nemesis, bands of robbers, and boats

filled with men of a very suspicious character, were dis

tinctly seen at a distance, trying to take advantage of

every opportunity of plundering their countrymen while


the panic lasted. Indeed , it may with much truth be

said, that on this, as on many other occasions, the

Chinese suffered a great deal more from the excesses

and misdeeds of their own people, than they did from

any hardships they encountered at the hands of their

foreign enemies during the war. Many ludicrous, no

less than unfortunate, scenes have been witnessed, of

Chinese plundering parties falling in each other's way

accidentally, and then fighting for each other's booty,

while, just at the critical moment, a third party would

perhaps step in, and carry off the greater part of what

the others had been already fighting about ; and perhaps

even these would, in their turn, be stripped by another

fresh party, before they could get fairly off with their


In reality, the war itself served to disorganize the

Chinese police, and to diminish the authority of the

local officers. Smuggling, robbery, and multiplied out

rages, were never more prevalent throughout all the

maritime districts than during the continuance of hosti

lities .

In the neighbourhood of the Canton River, these

violent proceedings arrived at length at such a height,

that the fishermen , in many instances, combined toge

ther for mutual defence, and provided themselves with

arms . But even these men, although, doubtless, most

of them started with the good intention of capturing

the pirates, or, at all events, of protecting their own

property, were tempted at last to become, in many in

stances, almost as fraudulent as the regular Ladrones.

Some were bold enough even to attack the foreigners,


urged thereto perhaps by the promised rewards of their

own government. Others, having now found out their

own comparative strength , became salt-smugglers and

opium -smugglers ; while others traded, smuggled, rob

bed, or aided others to escape detection, just as it might

best suit their purpose for the moment. They possessed

a sort of liberty of strength, and a power derived from

impunity of doing just what they pleased.

Secret societies were at length formed ; a sort of

freemasonry of crime was established ; and, before the

close of the war, they had acquired such an organi

zation as to make it dangerous to move about in the

neighbourhood of Hong Kong or Macao. They even

sold passes to the trading -boats, which were intended

to exempt them from plunder, for a regular payment of

so many dollars a month ; yet even these were not

always respected. New facts were daily coming to

light, even after the war was over, which showed with

what extensive ramifications these societies had spread.

Hong Kong itself was in danger of daily attacks from

these daring bandits ; and, as it became at length evi

dent that the co-operation of both governments, the

English and the Chinese, could alone effectually put an

end to such gross outrages, Sir Henry Pottinger made

proposals to that effect to the Chinese authorities. Our

own cruisers alone were scarcely sufficient to effect the

object, because the fact of their European shape and

rig rendered them easily distinguished at a distance,

and thus the pirates had plenty of time to escape. It

was proposed, therefore, to have a number of fast

sailing boats, built and rigged very much after the Chi


nese fashion , with mat-sails, &c. , to be well armed, and

to be manned principally by our own men . They would

thus be able to come unsuspected upon the pirates.

Various other suggestions were made for the mutual co

operation of the two governments in the good work ;

but, owing probably to fear and jealousy, and perhaps

a mixture of pride, these offers were courteously and

respectfully declined by the Chinese government, who

declared that it would be able, now that the war was

ended, to take effectual steps to put an end to this

heavy source of annoyance at the mouth of the Canton

river. It remains to be seen whether their measures

will be effectual. Exertions, on our side, have been

continued with the same object.

We may next ask, what effect this sudden visit of

the Nemesis, within their most secret channels and

hitherto unexplored rivers, must have had upon the

government and the people generally. They were

astounded, and, for a moment, paralyzed. In reality,

the exploits in the Inner passage, from Macao to Can

ton, created almost as much panic among the Chinese

as the taking of the Bogue itself. The event was more

unexpected, and was thought equally impracticable.

VOL . I. D D




Capture of the Macao fort, on the 13th of March - Advanced ships only

two miles from Canton - Nemesis proceeds towards Canton with a flag

of truce — Letter to the Imperial Commissioner- Is fired at from the

Birdsnest Fort - Preparations to resent the insult Captain Elliot's

communications –Want of interpreters - Attack upon the defences of

Canton on the 18th of March, 1841 –Flotilla of men -of-war's boats

Flotilla of Chinese boats-Forts in the Macao passage carried — War

junks dispersed - Boats destroyed - Captain Elliot with a flag of truce

on board the Nemesis — Fired at by the Chinese — British flag planted

upon the factory - Notifications by Captain Elliot - Temporary settle

ment – Trade opened.

During the time the Nemesis, with the boats and

marines of the Samarang, and the boat of the Atalanta,

were occupied in destroying the works of the Chinese

in the Broadway River, a division of the light squadron,

under the command ofCaptain Herbert, had captured ano

ther fort in the upper part of the same river, at the dis

tance of only about two miles from Canton. The vessels

employed upon this occasion were the Modeste and Star

ling, with the Madagascar steamer, and boats from most

of the ships of the advanced squadron, commanded by

Captain Bethune, viz. , the Blonde, Conway, Calliope,

Herald, Alligator, Hyacinth , Nimrod, Pylades, and


On the 13th (March) they pushed through the upper


channel leading from Whampoa, which had been ex

plored on a previous occasion by the Nemesis, under the

orders of Captain Herbert; and late in the afternoon

they entered the Broadway River without any accident,

although the passage was found very intricate, owing

to the number of shoals. The Modeste was only got

through with considerable difficulty, piloted by Captain

Collinson1 ; and she would hardly have accomplished it,

but for the assistance of the Madagascar steamer. Cap

tain Belcher endeavoured to bring the Sulphur through,

but failed, as she grounded about four miles from the

point of attack. The Queen steamer was found to

draw too much water, and could not be employed to

tow her up .

The fort which they were about to attack was the

same which had before been seen at a distance by Cap

tain Herbert in the Nemesis, and was found to be of a

circular form , strongly built of stone, with a tower in

the centre, and situated upon a small alluvial islet in

the middle of the river, which it completely commanded.

It was afterwards called the Macao Fort, and was found

to mount twenty- two guns. The Chinese had made at

tempts to strengthen this important post, as an outwork

to impede the advance of our forces upon Canton in

that direction . With this view they had constructed

rafts across the river on both sides of the fort, strength

ened by a few piles and sunken junks, and flanked by a

sand battery, mounting eight small guns .

As soon as our vessels and boats approached , the

Chinese opened a well-sustained fire from the fort,

which was returned with good effect by the Modeste,

DD 2


which had been admirably placed by Captain Eyres,

within six hundred yards, assisted by the Starling and


In about half an hour the whole of the works were

carried, but the Chinese maintained their fire until the

rest of the force were under the walls, when they fled

out of it in all directions, leaving several dead in the

fort. On our side only three men were wounded .

Captain Kuper, and commanders Barlow , Giffard , An

son, and Clarke, volunteered their services on this occa

sion, and the marines were commanded by Lieutenant

Stransham . A large mandarin -boat was captured be

fore the Chinese could carry it away ; and a small gar

rison was immediately placed in the fort, the Modeste

remaining at anchor some way below it.

Thus another of the important defences of the Chinese

in advance of Canton had fallen ; and the passage for our

light squadron up to the provincial capital lay almost

completely open. Our advanced ships had now been

brought much nearer the city than the Chinese, or

perhaps even our own officers, had previously thought

possible. All the important operations which have

been described in the Broadway River, commencing

from Macao upwards, to within two miles of Canton,

had been effected in the short space of three days, viz.,

on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of March , 1841 .

On the 16th, Captains Herbert, Bourchier, Bethune,

and other officers, came on board the Nemesis at Wham

poa,, and proceeded along the upper channel towards

the Macao passage. In the afternoon , the Nemesis

joined the Modeste, which was still at anchor below the


fort. A passage was soon cleared through the rafts,

and she pursued her course, with the object of taking up

a chop or despatch from Captain Elliot, addressed to

the Imperial Commissioner, and at the same time to ex

plore the nature of the passage above the fort. But,

scarcely had she passed the stakes, when she had reason

to find that new passages are not always free from

danger, for she struck heavily upon a sunken rock.

This obstacle, however, was not situated in the broadest

and most frequented channel, which leads past the

fort on its eastern side, but in the narrower passage

on the western side of the fort. The concussion made

the vessel tremble ; and, had she been built of wood

instead of iron, she could hardly have escaped suffer

ing some severe injury.

After considerable delay and exertion she was got off

again, having thus proved both the advantage of iron,

and the danger of trying to pass on that side. Before

she advanced further towards Canton, it was thought

proper to hoist a flag of truce ; but, knowing at the

same time how little the Chinese respect for it could

be depended on, a division of armed boats was taken in

tow, in case of meeting with any sudden attack from

the enemy

Upwards of a mile further on, a newly -constructed

field -work was discovered upon a rising ground, sur

rounded and partially concealed by trees. It was situ

ated upon the left bank of the river, and was called the

Birdsnest Fort. In front of it, the passage of the river

was obstructed by a strong raft, reaching quite across

it, and well moored ; while, further on, just at the


point of junction with the Canton river, a number of

war-junks and armed boats were drawn up for its de

fence, nearly opposite Shameen, which is about half a

mile above the factories.

The steamer was now stopped ; and it was resolved

to send a boat, with a flag of truce flying, in order to

attempt to carry up Captain Elliot's letter. The flag

of truce was also flying upon the Nemesis and all the

other boats. Captain Bethune , having undertaken this

charge, had just pushed off from the steamer , when a

shower of grape -shot was discharged from the Birds

nest Fort . Fortunately , no injury was done , as the shot

passed over the boats ; but the flags of truce were

immediately lowered ; and the guns of the Nemesis , and

also those of the boats, opened fire upon the fort, in

retaliation of the hostile act of the Chinese . At the

same time , the junks ahead , and also the battery at Sha

meen , commenced a distant straggling fire, much beyond

effective range. A rocket thrown from the Nemesis

fell into the middle of the fort, and partially set fire to

the buildings , and it would have been very easy to have

carried the works by assault ; but orders to the contrary

were given by Captain Herbert, who was not desirous

of carrying hostilities further, without the sanction of

Captain Elliot. He immediately returned to Whampoa ,

in order to bring up some of the light squadron , with

a view to advance , if necessary , upon Canton itself.

There were good reasons for not wasting time at the

fort that evening ; but, unfortunately, it is the practice

of the Chinese always to claim a victory, and to report

upon it accordingly to the Emperor, on every occasion


on which any portion of our forces withdrew from be

fore any of their defences, without having first occupied

them . In the present instance, it was reported, that

even a devil-ship had been driven away by the imperial

troops from the Birdsnest Fort, and the high distinc

tion of a peacock’s feather was conferred upon the com

mandant of it, as a reward for his courage !

Upon reaching Whampoa again the same evening in

the Nemesis, Captain Herbert received a communica

tion from Captain Elliot, respecting the measures to be

adopted in consequence of the insult which had been

offered to the flag of truce. Captain Elliot pointed out


to him that the “ Chinese knew perfectly well the value

of the white flag, for they had often taken advantage of

it to communicate with our forces :" and he then dwelt

upon the “ necessity of resisting this aggression with

all the promptitude which might be compatible with

considerations of a military nature.” At the same time,

he requested Captain Herbert to “ confine his operations

to the fort from which the shot was actually fired.” It

is certain, however, that Captain Herbert took upon

himself the responsibility of all the operations against

Canton, which are shortly to be described ; for he ex

pressed himself in one of his despatches to the effect,

that he had “ found himself forced to make his arrange

ments without any instructions from his superior officer,

Sir Gordon Bremer ; but that he felt that he had no al

ternative but to resent with all promptitude the insult


offered to the flag of truce.” Arrangements were ac

cordingly made, without loss of time, for proceeding to

active operations.


The want of interpreters was at this time very much

felt by Captain Herbert. He repeatedly applied for

some one to be sent up to him in that capacity ; and he

wrote to the Commodore, " that there was not a single

person in the advanced squadron who understood a word

of the language.” The difficulty of procuring supplies

was consequently very much increased, particularly as

the authorities at Canton had forbidden the people to

carry provisions to the squadron. The difficulty of ob

taining accurate information ofany kind was very great ;

but it had been already positively ascertained that the

authorities of Canton had prevented a single chest of

tea, or any other article of export, from leaving Canton ,

long before even the attack upon the Macao Fort ; and

it was also known that a considerable body of Tartar

troops had already reached the city. In short, all the

information which could be obtained fully confirmed the

impression conveyed by the insult to the flag of truce,

that the Chinese were making active preparations for

the resumption of hostilities, and that the sooner we had

recourse to active measures the better.

On the morning of the 17th, Captain Elliot and suite,

together with Captains Herbert, Bourchier, and other


officers, proceeded in the Nemesis towards the Macao

passage, or Broadway river, where she rejoined the ves

sels at anchor below the Macao Fort. It was a favourite

scheme of Captain Elliot, at this time, to endeavour to

command all the lines of water-communication to the

westward of Canton, so as to cut off the supplies from

the city, and stop the local trade.

The rivers or creeks, and their branches in this


neighbourhood, are extremely numerous. Some little

distance below the Macao Fort a considerable branch

turns off to the westward, and leads, at the dis

tance of several miles, up to Tatshan. About a mile

and a half within this passage another channel leads off

to the northward, in the direction of the Canton river,

which it enters a little above Shameen , on the opposite

side. This channel was narrow , and not navigable, ex

cept for boats. The Hyacinth had, on the previous day,

been pushed into the Tatshan passage, nearly as far as

the point where the smaller channel turns off to Canton,

but there she stuck, owing to the shoalness of the water.

The Nemesis, therefore, having in tow a division of

boats, was now moved up the Tatshan passage, and

shortly communicated with the Hyacinth, which was at

anchor there. She then turned up the northern branch ,

which was afterwards called the Fatee creek, in the

hope of being able to push up to the Canton river in

that direction , and so cut off all the Chinese boats which

might attempt to escape up the river. After proceed

ing some distance, the water was found too shallow and

the passage very narrow, and she was compelled to re

turn, having captured on her way a very handsome man

darin -boat. In the evening she rejoined the squadron in

the Macao passage, where the Commodore, Sir Gordon

Bremer, had just arrived in the Madagascar steamer,

which had been sent for him . The dispositions had

already been made by Captain Herbert, for the capture

of all the remaining defences in advance of Canton, on

the following day ; and Sir Gordon Bremer was there

fore unwilling to disturb the arrangements .


The 18th March, 1841 , will ever be remembered as

the great day upon which the city of Canton was first

humbled ; and the whole of the works which had been

erected for its defence, along its river front, were cap

tured by H. M. naval forces. The vessels engaged

were the

Modeste, Commander Eyres ;

Algerine, Lieutenant Mason ;

Starling, Lieutenant Kellett ;

Herald , Captain Nias (later in the day ) ;

Hebe and Louisa Tenders, Mr. Quin and Mr. Car

michael ;

together with the steamers

Nemesis, W. H. Hall, R.N .; and

Madagascar, Mr. Dicey.

A large flotilla of boats, from the squadron generally,

was placed under the command of Captain Bourchier,

assisted by Captain Bethune, and was formed in four

divisions, three of which were under the orders of Com

manders Barlow and Clarke and Lieutenant Coulson,

and the fourth commanded by Captain Belcher and

Captain Warren . The whole together must have

amounted to little less than forty in number. Upwards

of fifty naval officers took part in the operations of this

large flotilla alone ; the services of which were likely

to be of the greatest importance in capturing and

destroying the immense flotilla of Chinese boats, of all

forms and sizes, which had been pressed into the service

of the government for the defence of Canton.


Mention has already been made of the almost innu

merable boats which crowd most of the rivers of China,

and perhaps none more so than that of Canton, upon

which it is stated that there is a floating population,

permanently living on the water, of no less than forty

thousand souls. They are the small traders, hucksters,

fishermen, and public carriers of the country ; and

always appear an industrious and contented portion of

the people. Of course, the numerous body of smugglers

belong to this class.

It was said that one of the most influential smugglers,

whose avocations had long been winked at by the au

thorities, who were themselves participators in the gains,

had been suddenly arrested, and threatened with the

confiscation of all his property, and even death ; but

that a free pardon was offered to him if he would con

trive to collect together all the best boats, and furnish

the men with arms ; .putting them under the orders of

the mandarins, to co-operate for the defence of the city.

Accordingly, a vast number of these boats were seen at


a distance, drawn up in a curved line across the river,

at the mouth of the Macao passage.

Besides these it was known that some gun-boats, com

pletely formed after European models, and thoroughly

coppered, had been equipped by the government. Our

flotilla of men -of-war-boats were therefore to be em

ployed in pursuing and destroying this legion of the


At half-past eleven the Nemesis commenced the at

tack upon the little battery, called by us the Birds

nest Fort, which she had engaged two days before.


She opened her fire of guns and rockets with effect, and

the Chinese returned the fire with spirit for some time ;

but the Modeste and Madagascar joined in the attack ,

and it is not surprising that the fort was silenced in a

very short space of time. Some of the boats immedi

ately pushed off to make themselves masters of the

place, and the Chinese were chased out of it in great

confusion .

Another field -work, almost close to it, was also cap

tured at the same time. They were found to mount

upwards of thirty guns, which, together with the maga

zine, were destroyed.

In the mean time, the Starling and Algerine had con

trived to force a passage through the raft, and had

scarcely got to the other side, when a small sand-bag

battery and several war-junks opened their fire upon

them, very near the point of junction with the Can

ton river. The Hebe and Louisa took part in this

affair ; and the Nemesis came up as soon as the

lower forts had been silenced ; part of the flotilla

of boats, under Captain Bourchier, also arrived, and

the sand -battery was soon carried , while the war-junks

and the flotilla of Chinese armed boats already be

gan to disperse.

A strong fort, opposite the city, mounting twenty

guns, called the Rouge Fort, was next silenced, but was

not taken possession of immediately. Later in the day,

however, a boat from the Nemesis, under Lieutenant

Pedder, was sent to hoist our flag upon it ; and another

party from the Sulphur landed at nearly the same

time under Captain Belcher .



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The large Chinese flotilla before described was pur

sued up the river by the Nemesis and the boats, and

were soon in a state of indescribable confusion, hurrying

away as fast as they could — some here, some there, yet

hardly knowing whither. As long as they were drawn

up in line, in a sort of crescent form , they looked some

what imposing, from their great number ; but, as soon

as the forts had fallen, and the sound of our guns came

nearer, and the shot fell fast about them, they broke up


their formation, and the confusion became extreme.

At this moment, the division of boats under Captain

Belcher and Captain Warren succeeded in getting

through the Fatee creek, and coming snddenly down

upon the Chinese boats, which were already so closely

pursued, and destroyed an immense number of them.

Some were driven ashore, some were sunk, and a few

escaped up the creeks in the rear of the town. If the

war-junks were unable to offer any resistance, it could

not be expected that these extraordinary boats and

inexperienced boatmen would show a better example.

The Nemesis, in the mean time, had opened her fire

upon the Shameen Fort, in the western suburbs of the

city ; and, under cover of her guns, Captain Bethune

put off from her ; and a division of boats, with Captains

Belcher and Warren at their head, also landed and

took the fort, after some resistance. It mounted ten


While these operations were going on in the upper

part of the river, the Madagascar had gone down and

taken up a position not far from the Dutch Folly, which

was a circular fort, in the middle of the river, directly


opposite the city, mounting twenty - five guns. In front

of it a number of junks laden with stones had been

sunk . A small sand -battery of three guns, close to the

naval arsenal , which is on the south side of the river,

was at the same time carried by another division of

boats. Four of the new Chinese gun -boats were also

captured .

A little before one o'clock, about an hour after the

first shot of the day had been fired, and after all the

detached forts and batteries, except the so-called Dutch

Folly, had been taken , Captain Elliot came on board

the Nemesis, and desired that he might be conveyed to

the British factory, with a flag of truce hoisted, it being

clearly his intention to endeavour to treat at once, with

out further employment of force. However, scarcely

had she got down opposite the European factories, and

only within distant range of the Dutch Folly, when the

latter opened fire on her, in spite of the flag of truce.

Instantly it was hauled down, the fire was returned by

other vessels, and the result was that the fort was

soon silenced.

The Nemesis then proceeded some little way down

the river, towards the Dutch Folly, in company with

several boats of the squadron. This circular fort

was taken possession of by a party of marines and

seamen ; and, not far from it, four new gun - boats,

built according to European models, were boarded and

taken , their crews having abandoned them. The Chi

nese naval forces offered, in fact, little or no resistance

throughout the day ; and even their forts, which fired

with considerable spirit at a distance, were soon aban


doned by their garrisons, when there was any certainty

of their coming to close quarters with our men.

At half-past one, Captain Elliot being still on board

the Nemesis, she was ordered to return close to the

factories, where Captain Hall landed, accompanied by

Mr. Morrison, and hastened at once to the British

Factory, both being equally eager to take possession

of it again. In a few moments the British flag was

displayed in triumph, with three cheers, which were

returned by the steamer and boats. At the same time,

Captain Belcher also hurried up towards the factory

with a party of men, and was trying to reeve the

hallyards at the flag -staff in front of the Factory, in

order to hoist the colours ; when , at that very moment,

they were wafted proudly from the window of the

Factory, by Captain Hall himself.

As all the defences had now been taken, and Canton

lay completely at our mercy, one would hardly have

expected that any further resistance would have been

made. But the Chinese have a fancy of their own for

renewing a combat in detached parties, long after all

possibility of doing good by it has ceased. On many

occasions during the war, they suffered severely and

justly for thus uselessly harassing our men after the day

was over, and when our troops were in possession of all

the enemy's positions .

On this occasion, as Captain Hall and his party were

returning to their boat, a body of soldiers rushed out

upon them, but were driven back to a narrow street

called Hog Lane, beyond the British factory, and were

even pursued for some distance up that narrow passage.


Many of them were killed while retreating, although

they crouched down behind their large ratan shields

for shelter at each discharge. It was thought impru

dent to pursue them far, as in so narrow a space, with


low houses on one side, and aa dead wall on the other,

the retreat of the pursuers might have been cut off.

Captain Belcher and his party were also attacked at

the same time, and gallantly put the enemy to flight with

some loss, pursuing them as far as was prudent.

The Chinese showed no farther disposition to come to

close quarters, and our men returned to their boats

without further molestation . One man belonging to the

Nemesis was wounded during the affray.

Little now remained to be done but to take posses

sion of and destroy some of the boats and junks which

had been overlooked in the hurry of more important

matters.. Late in the evening, the Nemesis anchored in

company with the squadron, off the western suburbs of

the city, nearly a mile above the factory. The flags of

truce were still flying, and it must be admitted that

greater forbearance towards the Chinese, or more un

willingness to proceed to the infliction of suffering upon

the people or city of Canton, could not possibly have

been exhibited than on this memorable day of the first

capture of Canton. When all their defences had been

taken , their ships and boats destroyed , their troops dis

persed , and their city left totally unprotected, we not

only restrained the ardour which belongs to victory,

and held back our hands from plunder and destruction ,

and even our voice from demanding apology for the

past, or security for the future, but even the very flag

VOL . 1 , E E


of truce which they had so often insulted and spurned

was displayed to their eyes as an assurance of our for

bearance and good faith .

It must not be omitted to state that Commodore Sir

Gordon Bremer got up, towards the close of the action,

in the Hyacinth's gig, just in time to see the British

flag displayed from the Factory. The Herald also arrived

as a reinforcement, in the latter part of the day.

One officer and six or seven men wounded were the

only casualties on our side, throughout all the opera

tions of the 18th of March .

It was said that several desultory outbreaks of the mob

occurred during the evening of this day, which were

with some difficulty suppressed by the police. They

were in most instances the outbursts of the evil passions

of the demoralized mob of Canton, the worst of all the

subjects of China, attracted to the centre of foreign

commerce, by the hope of profit, or the opportunity of

exercising their bad ingenuity. In no part of China has

the feeling of hostility to the foreigner prevailed more

strongly against us than at Canton. In many other dis

tricts, the English force was even welcomed, or, at all

events, received without insult or violence.

It is worthy of remark that, during the whole of the

following day, the 19th, nothing of importance was done,

either as to the further progress of hostilities, or as to

the demanding any specified terms from the Chinese.

It is easy to guess what interpretation was put upon our

inactivity by the authorities and the people. The motive

on our part seems to have been principally one of pure

compassion, and an unwillingness to take the initiative


of proposing terms to the Chinese, which it was their

part, as the conquered, to solicit.

After the lapse of one entire day, Captain Elliot and

suite were carried down to the Factory in the Nemesis,

on the morning of the 20th, where they landed soon

after mid -day. There could be little doubt that some

thing important would now be settled . Captain Elliot

was bent upon getting the trade opened, and no less so

upon bringing about a cessation of hostilities. He was

not altogether wrong, perhaps, even in the slowness of

his proceedings, considering the extraordinary circum

stances in which he was placed ; but there were not a

few who looked upon it as unfortunate that so little was

really done, when there was every reason to expect so

much. He seems to have merely miscalculated the im

portance, or, perhaps, the exigency, of the political crisis

in which he found himself placed. He viewed the whole

matter almost exclusively as a commercial question,

appearing to forget, that where force has been once

used on both sides, the commercial becomes necessarily

merged for the moment in the political complications

which arise out of it.

The first public notification was by a circular dated

at the hall of the British Factory ; by which it was an

nounced that a suspension of hostilities had been agreed

upon between the Imperial Commissioner, Yang- Fang,

and Captain Elliot. It was further agreed that the trade

of the port of Canton should at once be opened. With

regard to the opium-trade, it was settled that no bond,

such as had formerly been demanded by Lin, should

now be required, but that the same liabilities should be

E E 2


incurred by any British subject detected in the act 'of

introducing any unlawful goods, as would follow the

same offences in England.

Captain Elliot also distinctly intimated that, “ pend

ing the final settlement of affairs between the two

countries, the usual port charges and other dues should


continue to be paid as heretofore.”

All those, however, who had watched the course of

events, and had studied in the slightest degree the Chi

nese character, could only look upon this temporary

arrangement as the mere preliminary of the resumption

of hostilities, not of the settlement of peace. In itself,

this insignificant demand was almost equivalent to an

acknowledgment of failure. That it was so viewed by

Sir Gordon Bremer is evident, from the notice which he

issued on the next day, the 21st, dated at the Bogue,

in which he declared that all vessels proceeding to

Whampoa, under this agreement, must do so at the

risk of the possible (he might have said, as he must

really have thought, probable), resumption of hostili

ties .

On the side of the Chinese, a proclamation was issued

by Yang, as joint Commissioner (the other two had not

yet arrived ), to the effect that, “ as Elliot had repre


sented that all he wanted was peace and permission to

trade as formerly, and as all trade depended upon the

cherishing goodness of the Celestial Court, that there

fore it was right now to permit the English to trade as

well as other people, in order to show a compassionate

regard .” It was further added , that henceforth the

people were carefully to look to and well treat the


merchant vessels at Whampoa, as well as the merchants

at Canton.

Such, then, were the slender grounds upon which it

was agreed that our force should be withdrawn from

before Canton, after all the treasure, and labour, and

some loss of life, which had been expended in bringing

it there .



Suspension of hostilities — Rumours of preparations - Sir G. Bremer

leaves for Calcutta - Captain Elliot's assurances - Proclamation of the

Prefect — Captain Elliot's address to the people of Canton — New pass

ports issued— Captain Elliot's measures against the opium trade

Report of Keshen's punishment - Its severity - Accusations against

him—The Emperor threatens to put himself at the head of his army

-Arrival of troops at Canton- Projects for destroying our ships

Utility of iron steamers-Expedition to Amoy suspended — Troops

prepare to advance upon Canton, under Sir Hugh Gough — Captain

Elliot returns to the factory with Mrs. Elliot — Afraid to remain

Warnings to the merchants —Anxious moments - Treachery - Fo

reigners leave Canton— Ominous suspense —Night of the attack by

the Chinese.

The agreement for the suspension of hostilities, made

at Canton by Captain Elliot, on the 20th March, 1841 ,

was only entered into with one of the three newly

appointed Imperial Commissioners ; Yang -Fang being,

in fact, the only one who had then arrived. It might

be doubted whether he had power by himself to agree

to more than a temporary truce, which his colleagues,

upon their arrival, might choose to consider at an end

whenever they pleased . Lung -Wan, the principal Joint

Commissioner, and Yih-Shan, the Tartar-General asso

ciated with him, did not arrive until about three weeks


afterwards} ; when they brought with them a large body

of troops, imperfectly armed and little organized. The

news of what had already happened must have astonished

them beyond all conception ; and one can picture to

oneself the embarrassment which must have marked

the first conference of the three functionaries. Their

alarm must have now tempered even their natural

pride, and the dawning consciousness of weakness have

awakened their unwilling credulity. But they thought

to get the better of the demands of the barbarians by

astute diplomacy, or to put off their urgency until they

should have time for the completion of their secret pre

parations, by which they hoped to exterminate their

enemy. They little thought that scarcely a month

would elapse before the great provincial city would be

once more at the mercy of a hostile force, all the ex

tensive preparations they had made for defence annihi

lated, and all their chosen troops discomfited .

In the mean time, however, trade went on with great

activity, but much caution, at Canton . It was gene

rally believed, nevertheless, that the temporary calm

upon the surface would be of short duration ; and the

growing storm upon the horizon gave a warning to all

who were interested in passing events, to set their house

in order. Tea, the whole tea, and nothing but the tea,

was now the question on all sides. The merchants

thought of their traffic, and of the barter of cotton

against tea ; the Plenipotentiary thought of the reve

nue to be derived from the indispensable leaf ; while

the military and naval authorities thought much, but

said little, yet wondered more .


Rumours were abroad of extensive preparations being

actively in progress by the Chinese, somewhere or other

above Canton ; but the precise situation of them was

not discovered until the second attack was made upon

the city, in the month of May. It was said that nume

rous fire-rafts were being constructed, war-junks equip

ped, and troops collected ; and it was little doubted

that, as soon as the principal mercantile transactions

(which were as important to the Chinese as they were

to the foreigners) should be completed, a renewal of

hostilities would take place, probably ushered in by

some act of treachery on the part of the Chinese.

This impression became more and more prevalent to

wards the end of April and the beginning of May, and

put all the European residents into a high state of sus

pense and anxiety. It was satisfactory, however, to

know that, as the greater part of our ships of war were

at Whampoa, or in that neighbourhood, many of them

could be speedily brought up to Canton ; and, more

over, the Modeste, Algerine, Hyacinth, and Herald,

were still at anchor, much nearer the city. They had

only withdrawn to the Macao passage, at the distance

of a couple of miles from Canton, after the commence

ment of the truce.

The Nemesis, in the mean time, had gone down to

Macao, whither she conveyed Captain Elliot and his

suite, and took the opportunity of the temporary pause

to complete her necessary repairs. Sir Gordon Bremer,

at this time, thought it right to go up in person to Cal

cutta, to represent the state of affairs to the Governor

General, and to request reinforcements. He sailed on


or about the 31st March, in the H. C. steamer, Queen ;

leaving Captain Sir Le Fleming Senhouse in command

of the naval forces during his absence.

For some time after the commencement of the truce,

the native inhabitants and traders of the city, some of

whom however had retired from it altogether, continued

to pursue their ordinary avocations with some appear

ance of returning confidence. A proclamation was

issued by the Governor, tending to allay any remaining

apprehensions they might have ; and similar pacific as

surances were addressed by the authorities, repeatedly,

both to the native and foreign residents, even till the

very day when their scarcely concealed projects of ven

geance were to be attempted.

On the 5th April, Captain Elliot again returned to

the Factory at Canton ; and, during his short residence

there, of ten or twelve days, the authorities and the new

Commissioners succeeded in so far blinding the Pleni

potentiary to all their hostile purposes, that he himself

publicly declared that he was perfectly satisfied with

all their “ assurances of good faith, and their disposition

to fulfil their engagements.” The day before he left

Canton again, namely, on the 16th April, he expressed

himself decidedly to the same purport, in a public pro

clamation, addressed however rather to the Chinese

people than to his own countrymen, but calculated like

wise to reassure the latter, should they be unable to

form any judgment for themselves. And he moreover

assured Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, that “ he entertained

no uneasiness of life and property at Canton .”

The skill of the Chinese, in the diplomatic art of


using words to conceal the thoughts ,” was cleverly

exhibited on this occasion . “ The people,” they said ,

were alarmed , and afraid of returning to their ordi

nary avocations [ they did not say, because they knew

that preparations were being made on their side for a

rupture of the truce ; but they ingeniously added] be

cause of their dread that the English would soon renew

their hostile operations ; for that rumours were flying

about among the people, that warlike preparations were

about to be pushed on, without delay, against the city .”

The Kwang-chow -foo, or Prefect of the city, was there

fore directed to issue a proclamation, intended to re

assure the people, advising them to return actively to

their business ; and most obligingly telling them , with

a strong dash of Oriental imagery, that “ their families


were as his family, and their bodies as his body.”

This had the effect of pacifying the inhabitants to a

certain extent, and sufficed to lull Captain Elliot into a

degree of false security, which perhaps was in reality

much less felt by him than it appeared to be. On his

side, likewise, the Plenipotentiary thought proper to

issue the proclamation above alluded to, declaring that

he did so with the “ concurrence ” of the Chinese go

vernment. In this document Captain Elliot told the

people of Canton that “ all the reports they heard

were false and mischievous ; that the Commissioners had

acted with good faith and wisdom in opening the trade,

and gave him further assurances of their good inten

tions ; and that there would not be the least disturbance

of the peace at Canton, by the British forces, so long as

their Excellencies fulfilled their engagements.” That,


moreover, “ the high officers of the English nation ma

nifestly cherished the people of Canton very much ;

and that, if misfortunes befel the city and the trade of

the province, the evil could not justly be attributable to

them ."

Having thus disburdened his own mind, and made

some effort to pacify the tender spirits of the timid at

Canton, he left the factory on the following day, and

returned to Macao ; not, however, without first urging

upon Sir Le Fleming Senhouse the propriety of re

moving our ships further off from the city. He re

quested that the vessels which were before Shameen

should be moved down to the Macao fort, in order to

show our peaceful disposition ; and he recommended

that proper respect should be manifested to the govern

ment, and that the officers in command should do all in

their power to uphold its character in the sight of the

people, “ compatible with the paramount necessity of

keeping awake a lively sense that renewed ill -faith

would be respouded to by an immediate blow ."

This had very little effect in rendering the foreign

community less apprehensive of a resumption of hosti

lities. Few believed that peace could long continue, or

that any satisfactory solution of the existing difficulties

could be arrived at without further resort to the 66 ultima

ratio ” of national disputants.

For a very brief space, appearances were favourable ;

but fresh troops soon began pouring into the town ; and

some of the natives have since admitted, that they even

knew that, in secret, fresh cannon were being cast, and

extensive preparations, of every description , urged on


in the quietest possible manner, evidently with a view


to some sudden and unwarned explosion ; as when a

deep and treacherous mine is being formed under an

enemy's fortress, while he sleeps and revels in his

dreams, and, not until the train is laid , and the match

about to be applied, makes the discovery of his own

terrific danger, and the appalling ingenuity of his


Immediately before leaving Canton, also, on the 17th

April, Captain Elliot seemed resolved to take some

steps against the continuance of the trade in opium

within the river. He applied to Sir Le Fleming Sen

house, to prevent any small vessels from passing into

the river within the Bogue, unless provided with a

passport signed by the plenipotentiary. These passes

were to be issued to those alone who could afford him

assurance, to his own satisfaction, that the boats or small

craft should only be employed in the conveyance of

passengers, letters, or supplies. They were to be ob

tained by foreigners through their own consuls, who

would apply to him for them. But he reserved to him

self the right of cancelling them whenever he should

see cause to determine that such a course should be


necessary in discharge of his engagements ;” and, more

over, every ship or vessel was to be forcibly expelled

from the river, if it were proved to his satisfaction that

she was engaged in “ dangerous pursuits,” calculated to

disturb the truce and interrupt the general trade.

This could, of course, only allude to the trade in

opium ; and the whole proceeding seems expressly to

have been arranged between Captain Elliot and the


Chinese authorities, for he actually obtained from the

Kwang-chow-foo, or prefect, licenses, bearing his official

seal, which he could himself distribute to those vessels

to which he issued his passports ; and which were to

have the effect of exempting them from all visit or

examination by the Chinese officers, whether connected

with the customs or any other department.

One cannot help remarking that this measure , which,

however, was only partially carried into effect, gave an

immense advantage to the Chinese authorities, while,

on our side, we totally lost sight of the main question

at issue. The point gained by the Chinese was, that

they at once threw into the background every other

question but that of trade, and, above all, that of

trade in opium , which therefore they ingeniously tried

to make appear the “ fons et origo” of the whole dis

pute ; and, having got Elliot to lend assistance to them

in one point, it gave them the advantage of appearing

to justify themselves in the eyes of their countrymen,

and indeed in the opinion of foreigners at a distance,

and who were in ignorance of the real state of things,

for the greater part of their preposterous and violent

proceedings. On our part, it tended to put on one

side, as if of minor consideration , the “ demand for

reparation and redress for injuries inflicted,” as her

Majesty declared in her speech from the throne, “ upon

some of her subjects by the imperial officers, and for

the indignities offered to an agent of her crown ;" this

agent being no other than Captain Elliot himself ! It

put out of sight the indignities offered to Lord Napier,

and all who had been concerned in any way in the


conduct of our communications with China since the

abolition of the exclusive privileges of the East India

Company. It overlooked the proper spirit of indig

nation, which could hardly fail to animate every man

who had been imprisoned, insulted, and starved into

concessions, which he could have otherwise had no right

or authority to yield.

That at this stage of the proceedings endless diffi

culties appeared to beset the questions at issue, may

very justly be urged. But we have at all times to con

sider the character of the people with whom a question

is at issue, in an almost equal degree with the question

itself. And it will scarcely be questioned that the

character of the Chinese, and especially of the officers

of their government, was at that time imperfectly un

derstood. In reality, the proceedings on both sides,

between the first conquest of Canton on the 18th of

March, and its second surrender under the agreement of

ransom upon the 26th of May (which remains yet to be

described) were evidently temporary expedients on both

sides : on that of the Chinese, to gain time for the

preparation of more efficient means of resistance, and

for relief from immediate “ pressure ;" on that of their

opponents for the completion of the commercial trans

actions of the season .

In truth, had the local authorities been ever so sincere

in their expressions of a desire for peace, the remem

brance of the fate of the unfortunate Keshen, for even

treating with the “rebellious foreigners,” might have

made them tremble for their lives. The degradation and

banishment of Lin were also fresh in their memory ; but


the following sentence upon Keshen was sufficient to

terrify them into the most desperate efforts. It was

during this interval that they received the emperor's

edict, by which Keshen was declared to be guilty of

bribery, and unworthy to live ; his temple was to be

sealed up, and his whole family put in irons, and carried

with him to Pekin, where both he and they with him

were put to death on the very day of their arrival

-he by being “ cut asunder at the waist,” and they by

decapitation .

The charges preferred against this able and straight

forward man, by the Lieutenant Governor of Canton,

were of the true Chinese stamp -

namely, his having

held intercourse with Elliot on equal terms ; his having

employed traitorous people about him , particularly the

late prefect ; his having prevented the officers and garri

sons at the Bogue from doing wonders ; and, above all, >

his having put his seal to a document, by which a por

tion of the empire, namely, the island of Hong Kong,

was surrendered .

In proportion as Keshen was really in advance of his

own countrymen in his views of their actual political

relations with foreigners, so was he precisely a traitor,

and unfit to live. How blind are human prejudices !

By another edict, dated aa few days later than the fore

going, even his more distant relations, and “ those who

officially attended upon him, whether great or small,

or who in any way appertained to him, or were con

cerned in the arrangement of affairs with him, were to

be indiscriminately decapitated .” This terrible denun

ciation , in the exuberance of the emperor's wrath, was


enough to alarm the whole nation ; but, fortunately, it

was not carried into execution to the letter, and Keshen's

life was spared, though with the loss of every thing

that could make it tolerable.1

At the same time, even the three new Commissioners,

Yih-shan , Lung-wan, and Yang -fang, of whom the last

only was at Canton when the attack took place, were

all made to suffer for their ill fortune. They were de

prived of various honours previously conferred upon

them ; and it was even ordered, that every officer of

the province of Canton , whether in a high or a subordi

nate capacity, should be “ deprived of his official but

ton until they could make good their delinquencies by

efficiency of effort.” Even against the rebellious fo

reigners the Emperor uttered his bitterest imprecations,

and swore “ that the two powers should not stand to

gether.” He ordered all his patriotic troops to advance

again, and “ utterly exterminate the whole of them ;

otherwise,” says he, “ how shall I, the Emperor, be

able to answer to the gods, and cherish the hopes of

my people ? ” He further proclaimed , that he had

“ ordered his own younger brother to lead forth a

grand army, fifty thousand strong ; and, by journeying

> 9

day and night, to repair to Canton with all haste, to

exhibit the vengeance of his race.” He threatened

death to every man who should prove himself a coward ;

and vowed that “ peace should find no place in his

heart, nor assume any form in writing ;” and, with still

more desperate energy, he vowed that, if even his own

brother “ should become tardy in his duties, and listen

| At a later period he was partially restored to rank.


to any pretensions to make peace, even I, the Emperor,”

said his Majesty, “ will place myself at the head of a

mighty force, and most uncompromisingly make an end

of the English.”

All these stern and alarming commands were received

in the great provincial city, during the interval of the

truce, between March and May ; and, however imbecile

and absurd they may appear to us, they were sufficiently

alarming to those to whom they were addressed. They

served to render every attempt at a peaceful settlement

of the difficulties at Canton impossible; and, though

they could neither excuse nor palliate the under-current

of treachery which crept stealthily below the smoother

surface of the truce, they were sufficient to justify in

the eyes of the local officers the adoption of any and

every measure which could further the great object of

their Emperor's commands.

It will hence appear evident, that there would be as

little likelihood of making any permanent settlement of

the points in dispute, after a second surrender of the

city of Canton , as there was after the first one ; and

that no effectual method of compulsion could be re

sorted to which did not bring the scene, both of hosti

lities and of negociation , nearer to the capital itself,

and make the voice of dictation ring more near and

louder in the Emperor's ear.

For some time after the commencement of the truce,

a guard of marines was stationed in the Factories ; but,

as soon as Captain Elliot's “ assurance proclamation ”"

was issued, they were withdrawn. Up to that time

there had been , as is usually the case, a division in the



councils to a certain extent ; but now the “ war and

extermination ” party got completely the upper hand,

and their hopes of success were much encouraged by a

report which reached them , that the main body of our

force was about to proceed to the northward , to operate >

on the coast . This was , in fact, really intended , as will

be seen presently ; although it was subsequently defer

red , owing to reports of the preparations at Canton ,

and the expectation of a speedy outbreak .

The Emperor's proclamations to all the maritime dis

tricts continued to breathe a spirit of uncompromising

war ; and the Governor of the province of Chekeang

(under whom are the Chusan Islands) , the venerable

Elepoo, was severely reproved, for having permitted the

barbarians to retire from Chusan under Keshen's treaty ,

instead of having advanced to drive them out by force,

and to effect their destruction .

Thus, at the commencement of May, the speedy re

sumption of hostilities seemed inevitable ; and the re

port brought from the northward by the Columbine,

Captain Clarke, of the preparations which were being

carried on by the Chinese, and of the refusal of the au

thorities of Chekeang to receive from that officer a

despatch which he had been ordered and sent expressly

to deliver, tended to confirm every previous impression.

1 The despatch was believed to relate principally to the supposed

death of Captain Stead , of the Pestonjee Bomanjee transport, who had

been attacked, and was supposed to have been murdered, near Keeto

Point, on one of the islands near Chusan, after the restoration of that

island to the Chinese. He landed to make inquiries, being in ignorance

of what had happened, and surprised to see Chusan harbour in posses

sion of the Chinese.


Nor was this all . Information was brought from Can

ton, that, on the 30th April, no less than forty boats

had passed in front of the Factories, having on board at

least two thousand troops ; that they proceeded aa little

lower down, and landed at a short distance from the

Dutch Folly, and thence marched into the city.

An explanation of this circumstance was demanded ,

and an evasive reply was sent by the Kwang -chow-foo,

or Prefect, to Captain Elliot. A few days afterwards

it was distinctly reported that the English at Canton

were to be suddenly attacked , and all their property

destroyed. And , on the 8th May, no less than seventy

more boats passed before the Factories, bringing down

full three thousand troops to the city, and these were

said to be the advanced guard of a large army. It was

known also that a vast number of fire- rafts were being

prepared, and several hundred divers were said to be in

training, who were to go down and bore holes in our

ships at night ; or even, as the Chinese privately reported,

to carry down with them some combustible material

which would burn under water and destroy our vessels.

While all these rumours of hostilities were circulated,

it is not wonderful that there should have been “ a very

feverish state of the public mind within the city ;” nor

that considerable anxiety should have been felt on our

side as to what even a day might bring forth .

The Nemesis was, during all this time, incessantly

employed in carrying letters and despatches, as well as

officers, from one place to another. Constant commu

nications were kept up ; Sir Le Fleming Senhouse and

Captain Elliot were continually on board the Nemesis,

FF 2


passing and repassing to and from different points within

the river, frequently up to Whampoa, or even to the

neighbourhood of the very Factories at Canton. Day or

night made little difference ; she was always ready.

This is merely mentioned to show how valuable a steamer

of her dimensions and small draught of water becomes,

when operations are being carried on along a coast

abounding in rivers imperfectly known . Being con

structed of iron, and built in water-tight compartments ,

or tanks, the mere running ashore was a matter of very

little moment, and the mere chance of it did not deter

her indefatigable commander from pushing on boldly ,

into every creek and corner where any service was

likely to be rendered , or any discovery made. More

over, she was at all times fit for service, even of the

most trying kind , such as towing ships, or hauling off

those which might be aground, conveying and landing

troops, & c. &c. Being infinitely stronger than any

wooden vessel of the same tonnage, she required only

the most simple and trifling repairs, when wooden

steamers were constantly injured with less severe trials

of their strength, and in continual need of repairs, which

necessarily created delay, and rendered their efficiency,

even with every exertion of their excellent commanders,

less perfectly to be depended on.

At the same period, arrangements for the complete

settlement and government of Hong Kong were being

continued without intermission . Officers were ap

pointed , a magistrate's court formed , proclamations

issued , and establishments of various kinds commenced .

In short , it seemed very evident that we had no inten


tion of restoring the island to the Chinese, whatever

might be the reply of the Emperor to Keshen's treaty.

It is a curious circumstance that this very treaty was

highly disapproved of by the governments of both coun

tries, the English no less than the Chinese..

Preparations had already been commenced at Hong

Kong for the advance of our force upon Amoy, under Sir

Hugh Gough , with aa view to carry on hostilities further to

the northward ; but they were now temporarily sus

pended, in order to meet the approaching crisis at Canton.

If any thing had been wanting to confirm the rumour,

not only of the extensive preparations of the Chinese

government to recommence the attack, but also to indi

cate the disposition of the people of Canton towards us,

it was to be found in a curious address, or chop, publicly

circulated in the city, and even posted upon its walls.

It purported to express the sentiments of the people

themselves ; or to be an address from that portion which

claimed to be most patriotic, to the other portion which

might possibly be less so. It was intended to inflame

the public mind against us, but it was not sealed or ap

parently sanctioned by the government. It first called

upon the imperial troops “ to brandish their lances” at

the English ; and told the people that the “ cup of the


wickedness of the latter was now quite full.” It went

on to say, “ We have solemnly sworn your destruction,

even though we are stopped for the moment by the pa

cific intentions of our high officers. We have already

more than half of us moved our wives and children else

where, but we have vowed to destroy you . Our am

buscades shall be such as neither gods nor devils can pro

vide against; therefore you had better tremble and obey ."


All this was designed, of course, to frighten the bar

barians ; and although it professed to be a mere ebulli

tion of the spirit of the people, there is little doubt

that the government were cognizant of it. This is ren

dered more probable by the circumstance that only a few

days afterwards the prefect of the city issued distinct

orders to the elders of the people, that they should cause

them to remove their wives and children , with all their

moveable property, from the neighbourhood of the river.

At length even Captain Elliot himself began to catch

a glimmering of the truth, which seemed to steal but

slowly upon his unwilling eyes. On the 10th of May

he resolved to go in person to Canton in the Nemesis,

and , in order the better to impress the Chinese with the

opinion which he still wished them to believe he re

tained of their good faith, he even took up Mrs. Elliot

with him ; probably the first time an English female had

set foot in Canton .

The next morning the Nemesis was moved down to

the Macao, or Broadway Passage, about three quarters

of a mile from the Factories. Captain Elliot, as soon as

he landed at the Factory, sought an interview with the

Kwang -chow -foo, or prefect, and demanded certain ex

planations from him , which evidently embarrassed him

not a little. The answers were evasive and unsatisfac

tory ; previously lurking suspicions were more than

confirmed, and Captain Elliot left the factory that same

evening, preferring to sleep on board the Nemesis.

No time was now to be lost in seeking a conference

with the naval and military commanders-in -chief, who

were then at Hong Kong ; and, accordingly, on the

following morning, the 12th, the Nemesis was ordered


to convey him with all speed down the river to that

place, a communication being made on his way down to

Captain Herbert, commanding the advanced squadron

at Whampoa, who was already prepared for an ap

proaching crisis. The result of the conference held at

Hong Kong the same day was that the expedition to

Amoy was to be positively postponed, and the whole

disposable force moved once more towards Canton.

Hong Kong was now the scene of general bustle and

activity, a new disposition of the forces was made, and

every measure adopted for their speedy junction as near

as possible to Canton. By the judicious exertions of

Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, and the hearty co -operation

of all his officers, eager once more for active employ

ment, the whole fleet of men -of-war and transports,

with all the troops on board, were ready to sail in five

days. Every man that could be spared, except the in

valids and convalescents, was embarked. And every

ship of war except the Druid, which was left for the

protection of the harbour, was under orders for the

Canton river .

On the 18th and 19th , having been a little delayed

by calms, they all got away in admirable order, full of

high hope and promise, that now at length they were

to become masters of the great southern emporium of

foreign commerce.

Captain Elliot now once more proceeded to Canton,

as usual in the Nemesis, which took him up there in a

very few hours. He returned to his quarters in the

Factory ; but, so incontrovertible were the evidences of

the hostile intentions of the Chinese, and so strong the


apprehension of the momentary bursting forth of some

treacherous plot, that the Nemesis, which was the only

vessel at hand, was kept cleared for action, with the

guns loaded, steam up, and the cable in readiness to slip,

although no immediate danger was visible. In fact, there

was an evident agitation at Canton, and an appearance

of alarm and excitement on every side, an apprehension

of some danger, without exactly knowing what.

Captain Elliot now very properly advised the mer

chants, by public proclamation, to make their arrange

ments, so as to be prepared to leave Canton at a

moment's notice. On the following day, the 29th, the

Nemesis was moved close up to the Factories, or a little

above them, for the protection of the whole foreign

community. It was already discovered that the western

battery above the city at Shameen had been repaired

and armed at least ten days before ; that a large en

campment had been formed to the eastward of the town,

for some of the newly-arrived troops ; while new works

had also been erected on the river-side in the same di

rection , that is, below the town , in the rear of the French

Folly. Troops were still pouring into the city in great

numbers, even the redoubtable “ Tartars of the Lion

Heart,” while the citizens themselves were hastening

out of it with precipitation . Goods and chattels of all

kinds were being carried away ; confusion was evident

where every thing is usually so orderly ; and it is said

that soldiers were even seen moving about with match

locks, and their slow matches ready lighted in their


Our own forces were by this time on the way up, the


troops from Hong Kong had already past the Bogue,

and the light squadron had begun to move from Wham

poa. Still Captain Elliot was in the Factory, and still a

great portion of the merchants remained at their posts,

ready to decamp at a moment's notice, yet anxiously

devoting every doubtful moment of delay to the pur

pose of arranging as well as they could their compli

cated affairs.

The Chinese, finding that their plans were now fairly

discovered , were at once placed in the predicament of

hurrying on the execution of them more rapidly than

they had intended. But still the authorities resolved

once more to try the effect of a proclamation to lull

suspicion. Having found themselves on several occa

sions so successful in their art of duplicity, they hoped

still to catch the unwary foreigners slumbering in their

net ; and there is some reason to believe they intended

to take the whole foreign community by surprise, and

seize them in their Factories, something after the fashion

adopted by Commissioner Lin.

Nevertheless, fearful of being prematurely driven into

the exposure of their designs, the prefect thought proper

to issue on the 20th (only the day before the attack ac

tually commenced ) a proclamation to the following

effect, under his official seal. He stated that “ he issued

this edict in order to calm the feelings of the merchants,


and to tranquillize commercial business .” That “ it

was to be feared that the merchants, seeing the gather

ing of the military hosts, would tremble with alarm , not

knowing where these things would end ." That, “ in

stead of being frightened out of their wits, so as to


abandon their goods, and secretly go away, they ought

to be assured that the Imperial Commissioner and ge

neral pacificator of the rebels, with the other higher

officers, would manage things with due consideration, so

that the obedient shall be protected from all injury, >

and their goods preserved in safety .” He concluded

by saying “ that the foreign merchants ought also to re

main quiet in their lawful pursuits, continuing their

trade as usual, without alarm or suspicion . ”

Perhaps a more barefaced specimen of cool calcula

ting hypocrisy was never before practised ; all this in

the face of incessant preparations, carried on day and

night, for the resumption of hostilities, and for the

treacherous annihilation of every thing belonging to

foreigners within their grasp ! and the very day before

the explosion.

But, in order to see upon good authority what their

preparations and designs really were, let us turn for a

moment to the actual account given by the General

Yihshan , concerning these preparations, and the purpose

for which they were intended. He says, “ that he had

adopted means, in concert with the other two commis

sioners, for forming new defences along the whole shore


line, ” ( contrary to the treaty or truce !) He enumerates

several forts he had erected, and fenced round with

double lines of sand -bags, supported by beams of wood

and heaps of stones, with pits dug in the ground, to

enable the soldiers to screen themselves from the enemy's

fire. He went round about all sides of the city, making

the proper defensive arrangements. He added, 66 that a

naval militia corps had been formed , fire -rafts prepared


and launched, and straw collected ready to make an at

tack by water.” In another memorial he mentions the

very places where these fire-rafts were built, and where

the straw was collected, and how they were floated down

the river. He further regrets, as Keshen had done

before him , that the “ creeks, inlets, and outlets, are

very multifarious, that during the floods the whole

country is under water, and that there is no important

pass where a garrison might be placed for defence.”

He had discovered that the hills on the north command

the city, so that people may look down and see every

thing going on within , and that the foreigners were

constantly in the habit of prying cunningly about, and

that “ it was, forsooth , no easy matter to prevent them . ”

Thus , he says, “ all our plans were found out, and the

foreigners drew the sword .”

That the real design was one of treachery, and secret

preparation for destruction, is further shown by the re

port which was sent to Pekin, even after the city had

surrendered, and the troops had marched out, (as will

be next described .) On that occasion it is said that

the “ requests of the foreigners were temporarily acceded

to, and that it became his duty to draw the enemy forth

without the Bocca Tigris, and then to renew all the

fortifications, and seek another occasion for attacking


and destroying them at Hong Kong.”

There could be no doubt, therefore, that the real

scheme of the Chinese authorities was to pounce upon

the whole of the foreign, or, at all events, upon the

English community, just as the hawk pounces down

upon his unsuspecting prey. Unfortunately for them,


they found their victims little disposed to trust either

to their proclamations of assurance, or their promises

of protection ; on the very next morning, the 21st,

Captain Elliot himself thought that any longer delay in

quitting Canton would be followed by the most disas

trous consequences . It is said that he even received

intimation , through some of the attendants of the Hong

merchants, that a grand attack of some kind or other

was meditated that very night.

It was of course known to the authorities that our

forces were already moving up the river ; their own

plans, therefore, were necessarily hastened, in the hope

that by a simultaneous attack by fire-rafts on our ship

ping at different points, as well as on the Factories, they

might get completely the upper hand of us before our

forces could be concentrated upon the city. Early in

the morning, therefore, Captain Elliot recommended , in

strong terms, that all foreigners should leave Canton

before sunset .

During this whole day the consternation among the

Chinese in the neighbourhood of the Factories increased

every hour ; shops were closed, goods removed , and se

veral of our officers, who went on shore to see what was

going on, were prevented, by guards of Chinese soldiers,

from passing through any of the usually frequented streets

beyond the immediate proximity of the Factories.

The crisis was now at its height. Many of the mer

chants had withdrawn to Whampoa several days before,

and in the course of this day all the rest (except two

American gentlemen) got away in boats. The small

party of marines which were with Captain Elliot in the


British Factory, were withdrawn by orders of Captain


Herbert, who had come up from Whampoa as com

mander of the advanced squadron ; and before sunset

Captain Elliot himself, with his suite, once more aban

doned the factory, and came on board the Nemesis .

Captain Herbert, however, removed on board the Mo

deste. And now the proud flag of England was finally

lowered at Canton, where it was never again hoisted

until long after the conclusion of peace ..

In the mean time, the Pylades and Modeste, together

with the Algerine, had been moved closer up to the town,

for mutual protection. The Nemesis still remained a little

above the Factories, together with the Louisa, Captain

Elliot's own cutter, and Mr. Dent's schooner, the Au

rora. A dull and ominous suspense reigned on every

side ; a general stagnation of ordinary intercourse ;

and that noble river, usually so busy with the hum of

men, and as it were alive with the innumerable boats of

every shape and fashion which ply upon its surface, and

that active, busy, almost countless population , which

make their home upon its friendly waters, and seem

happy in their thrifty industry , all now were dull, and

almost still with a portentous dreariness.

The sun at length set gloomily. The darkness of the

night was remarkable; and one better adapted for sur,

prising an enemy could hardly have been chosen. But,

although the precise nature of their plans, or mode of

attack, was not known, yet enough had been clearly as

certained to render every possible precaution necessary.

The Modeste lay somewhat higher up the river than the

Nemesis, and was likely to be the first to discover the


approach of an enemy in that quarter, whatever might

be their design .

On board the Nemesis no precaution was omitted ;

double sentries were placed ; the men below were all or

dered to lie down ready equipped for instant service ;

even the fires were laid and lighted in the furnaces, so

that steam could be got up in a few minutes, if requi

site. All who could be spared retired to rest, but not

to sleep. The feeling of excitement was too general to

permit repose. Captain Elliot laid himself down in his

cloak upon the quarter-deck, while Captain Hall,ever

on the alert, stretched himself upon the bridge between

the paddle-boxes, ready at a second's warning to give

the necessary orders. Captain Herbert, also, who was

at that time on board the Modeste, had fully impressed

every one with the necessity of omitting no precaution

against the impending danger.

Equal activity and similar precautions were adopted

on board all the other ships ; and already the Herald

and Calliope had been moved up the river to within a

short distance of Canton .

Note, referring to page 335.

During the heat of the action against the batteries of Anunghoy, a

very dashing thing was done by Commander Sullivan, who was serving

as a supernumerary commander on board the Melville. One of the boats

got adrift, owing to some accident, and was being carried by the tide close

in under the batteries. The instant this was perceived by Commander

Sullivan , he jumped into his gig, and pulled off to recover the boat, in

doing which he was of course exposed to the close fire of the batteries,

but he fortunately escaped unhurt, and brought the boat safely back ,

This little spirited incident was not taken public notice of.




The following letter concerning the fate of the Comoro

Islands, and the violent proceedings of the French in that

quarter, appeared in The Times of January 30th, 1844. The

facts stated in it have every appearance of exaggeration, but the

interference of the British government would seem to be called


“ The French have, within the last month , obtained, by fraud,

possession of the islands of Johanna, Mohilla , and Peomro ;

they had already, by the same means, obtained the islands of

Mayotte and Nos Beh. There are at present out here eleven

ships of war — the largest a 60 -gun frigate ; more are expected

out in preparation for the conquest of all Madagascar ; and

also, it is said, of the coast of Africa, from latitude 10 S. to

2 S.; this portion includes the dominions of the Imaum of

Muscat.. At this place [Nos Beh) a system of slavery is car

ried on that you are not aware of. Persons residing here send

over to places on the mainland of Africa, as Mozambique,

Angoza, &c., money for the purchase of the slaves ; they are

bought there for about ten dollars each, and are sold here again

for fifteen dollars ; here again they are re-sold to French mer

chant vessels from Bourbon and St. Mary's for about twenty

five to thirty dollars each. Captains of vessels purchasing

these use the precaution of making two or three of the youngest

free, and then have them apprenticed to them for a certain

term of years (those on shore), fourteen and twenty-one years.


These papers of freedom will answer for many. It is a known

fact, that numbers have been taken to Bourbon , and sold for

two hundred and three hundred dollars each. Those who have

had their freedom granted at this place [Nos Beh], as well as

others, are chiefly of the Macaw tribe. The Indien, of Havre,

a French bark, took several from this place on the 26th Sep

tember last ; she was bound for the west coast of Madagascar,

St. Mary's, and Bourbon . L'Hesione, a 32-gun frigate, has

just arrived from Johanna , having compelled one of the chiefs

to sign a paper, giving the island up to the French. On their

first application , the king and chiefs of Johanna said, that the

island belonged to the English . The French then said, that if

it was not given up, they would destroy the place ; they, after

this, obtained the signature of one of the chiefs to a paper

giving up the island to the French .

“ I remain, sir, &c. , &c.,


“ Supercargo of the late Ghuznee of Bombay.

- Nos Beh , Madagascar ,

66 Oct. 6th, 1843. "

The account given in the above letter is partly borne out

by the following announcement, which appeared in the Mo

niteur, the French official newspaper, in March, 1844 ; the

substance of it is here copied from The Times of the 14th

March ; and there can be little doubt concerning the object of

the French in taking the active step alluded to. We must

hope, therefore, that our interests in that quarter will be pro

perly watched, particularly when we remember what serious

injury would be inflicted upon the whole of our Eastern trade,

in case of war, by the establishment of the French in good

harbours to the eastward of the Cape. The announcement is

as follows : — “ Captain Des Fossés has been appointed Com


mander of the station at MADAGASCAR, and Bourbon, which

was hitherto placed under the orders of the Governor of Bour

bon. This station now acquires a greater degree of importance.

Captain Des Fossès having under his orders five or six ships of

war, will exhibit our flag along the whole coast of Africa, and

in the Arabian Seas. He will endeavour to extend our relations

with Abyssinia, and our influence in Madagascar."




When the Nemesis left England she had on board about

sixty men and officers ; but, during the operations in China,

she usually had about ninety men and officers. Her daily

consumption of fuel was about eleven tons .

She had no paddle-boats ; but in other respects, she was well

found in boats, while in China. She had two cutters, pinnace,

gig, jolly-boat, dingy, and always a large Chinese boat. A

large platform was also built between the paddle-boxes, instead


of the small bridge, which is usually constructed. This platform 1

covered the whole space between the paddle-boxes, and was 1

found particularly convenient, when troops were on board, as 1

it was always occupied by the officers, while the decks were 2

crowded with the soldiers. There was also a 6-pounder brass

gun upon a swivel carriage, mounted upon the bridge, which

was very useful for trying the range. A rocket tube and a 1

supply of rockets were always kept in readiness upon this

platform , besides ammunition for the brass gun, && c. In hot

weather an awning was spread over it, and it was always a

most convenient place for watching and directing the opera

tions of the steamer .

Besides the two 32 -pounder guns, the Nemesis carried four

brass 6 -pounders and one 8-inch howitzer.



























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