London :



1850 .





The contents of the following pages have been supplied by

gentlemen who are, and who have all long been, residents

in Hong Kong, and from their positionfully competent to

judge of the condition and requirements of the Colony.

Some objection may possibly be raised in consequence of no

names being given ; they have been withheld for reasons

obvious to all who have ever resided in a small community

circumstanced as is Hong Kong.

For the satisfaction of anyperson interested in this subject,

the letters may be inspected on application to the Printers.

The publication of these " Statements "" appears particu

larly opportune at this moment, when Financial and Colonial

questions are so closely interwoven, and deservedly attract

so large a share of public attention.







Hong Kong, April 23, 1850.


In my hurried letter of last month, I promised

to expound my views about Hong Kong more fully by this

mail . But to do this would now be in a great measure super

fluous ; for, having in the interim conversed separately with

several of the most intelligent residents, fully competent

and entitled to offer their opinion on the subject, I find

that though we have differed widely on other important

questions, here in the main we coincide. Having ob

tained their views in writing, I very willingly submit

them, instead of troubling you much farther with my own,

on the points indicated rather than explained in my former


Memorials and Petitions frequently express the sentiments

of a few only of those who sign them ; and sometimes,

through mutual concessions, of none, insomuch that indi

viduals would hesitate to maintain respectively views which


as a body they seem to hold. Under this persuasion,

I was desirous of obtaining the individual opinions of the

gentlemen applied to, without their consulting together,

or one being shewn what another had written .

You will observe, they all concur in considering the

present Establishments of Hong Kong as being upon a

much larger and more expensive scale than is either neces

sary or advantageous, and the revenues of the Colony

amply sufficient for governing it beneficially. Farther,

they agree with me,, that the laws are either unsuitable, or

administered so as neither to be a terror to evil-doers,

nor a praise and glory to those who do, or desire to

do, well. None except the last in order takes more than a

passing glance at a subject which all would admit to be of

the greatest importance, namely, the causes which restrain

or drive away native trade, the only description likely to

flourish here, and how far these would be removable under

a different system . Government, ignorantly and uninten

tionally no doubt, has throughout adhered to a course

which deters rather than encourages native traders ;; and

there are instances so numerous and striking, of respect

able Chinese, who came here to traffic, having, through

the mistakes of Government, and the blind and blundering


administration of the laws, narrowly escaped the fate of

felons, that there is cause to fear many innocent men have

been condemned for want of some one to counsel or direct

them .

As regards the remedies, I go further than any ofthegentle-

men whose opinions I now transmit to you. At home I was

ever accounted a Tory, and, as you know , gave the Tories my

best support ; but here I suspect I am a little, aye , a good

slice of a Radical. But on the present occasion I am told

that to insist on very sweeping measures would be to risk

the great but still partial advantages which are here advo

cated, and which , as they propose to rid Parliament of a

pecuniary burden, cannot fail to be favourably considered,

especially if backed by the Colonial Reform Society. But

even were the greatest of the proposed modifications adopted,

we should still be as much hampered as before by Downing

street, where official statements and explanations would

alone be received or listened to. Except for the patronage

it would retain or the abuses it would foster, there is no

occasion for an Imperial Government at all in Hong Kong,

and we should get on much better without it. If the home

Government will relieve us of the grievous establishments

imposed on us without asking our leave, and continued in

spite of our remonstrances, leaving us to govern ourselves,


we shall not only pay our own way, but perhaps greatly

augment the prosperity of the place, or rather, I should

say, we shall redeem it from its present abject condition .

But before such a change can be looked for with any con

fidence, the people at home must be disabused of the false

impression, as pointed out by one of my authorities,,

that, by keeping up a large civil establishment at Hong

Kong, British trade and influence with China are fostered,

or that there is any virtue in combining in the same person

the duties of Governor with those of Plenipotentiary and

Superintendent of that trade with China. On the contrary,

I am persuaded the arrangement is calculated to lower

the British representative in the estimation of the Chinese,

from finding him not only resident at, but almost exclu

sively occupied with, the affairs of this paltry and barren

island, which the Chinese would consign to the care of a

very petty Mandarin, of the rank of Police Inspector. If,

however, it be indispensable to maintain something Impe

rial, that would be amply secured by the troops and ships

of -war, which must always make Hong Kong their head

quarters in China . It is for the sake of the general trade

and of British influence in China, not in Hong Kong, that

these forces are kept up. The facilities afforded by such a

settlement ought to compensate for any protection it re


ceives, for I would apprehend no great or peculiar danger

were the troops entirely withdrawn .

A municipal body, with a proper legal adviser, would,

I think, make better, or at least more suitable, laws and

regulations than the existing Imperial ” Legislative

Council, or any modification of it, and this arrangement

would still leave the absolute power of passing them with

the deputy of the Colonial Office. I also think that the

laws would be better administered and at less expense .

* * *

Believe me very truly yours,

The Hon . Francis Scott, M.P.

P.S. The only reason I could ever find for the expensive

establishments of Hong Kong, occurs in the evidence of

Colonel Malcolm before the Commons' Committee in 1847

(No.4638.) He says,“ Thegreat objectwas that the Governor

and all the Officers should be placed in such a position as

to inspire the respect of the Chinese Government ;" and

again (4636), “ There was every prospect of a large popu

lation and great traffic at first. It was conceived , that it

would be highly advisable that the servants of Government


should be placed in such a position that they could maintain

themselves as gentlemen and live respectably, as they would

be constantly brought into communication with the Chinese

and the Chinese authorities, upon all of whom outward

appearance has a great effect. "

Nothing but aa delusion and a snare ! To this day, all

the officials, from the Governor downwards, live in hired

houses of most unpretending appearance, cheapness being

seemingly the main consideration . As for impressing the

Chinese, (who are neither an impressible nor showy people)

except the loose frib in Hong Kong, there are no Chinese

to impress within aa hundred miles of us, and for any per

sonal intercourse our authorities have with them , they might

as well be aa hundred thousand miles off .. If the establish

ment was formed under the anticipations stated by Colonel

Malcolm , why is it not reduced when, after seven years,

the reasons assigned are proved to be erroneous ? seeing

we have neither a great traffic nor Chinese authorities to

show off our own otherwise superfluous officials.


From a Justice of the Peace and Resident Partner of a well.

known Mercantile Firm .

HONG KONG, 17th April, 1850 .


Regarding the position of this Colony, about which we

have talked more than once , and to which on many occasions

I have alluded, to my friend L both while he was in and

out of Parliament, I confess I have found it almost a hopeless

matter to make the people at home fairly understand how

Hong Kong bears with respect to the Trade with China.

Many in England consider our local government as at present

established , with all its heavy and costly machinery, if not

mainly instrumental, as, in a great measure, the fosterer of

our large Import trade to China, and as having its share in

influencing the heavy revenue derived at home from Tea .

How very different is the real state of the case !

Hong Kong, as a military station , and naval depot, is good

in all respects, and no doubt our commercial interests in this

quarter of the world require such a place at the hands of the

English Government; but still, Hong Kong is not the seat

of trade, nor has it ever been so, our business being carried

on at Canton, some 90 miles, and at Shanghae, about 900

miles distant from this.

Understand me clearly. When I say that such a place as

Hong Kong, in my opinion, is necessary, I am far from

agreeing with the local Government, that the present large

annual levy on the residents should be quietly borne as an


equivalent for the advantage of the Naval and Military

Station, such as it is; nor indeed can I think it was originally

intended that the entire amount of revenue raised in name

of land rents, police assessments, fines, forfeitures, licenses,

and fees, should be appropriated — not in the improvement of

the Colony one jot, nor in encouraging parties to trade with

or reside in Victoria — but, exclusively, to payment of salaries

and wages. A reference to the Colonial Treasurer's Accounts,

as published on 3rd January last, will however fully shew

that the revenue has been so appropriated.

As you are aware, I am one of a Committee named to

inquire into, and report on the Land Tenure. I shall not

therefore in this place touch upon the excessive land rents,

heavy police assessments, court fees, fines, or fees of office,

I shall content myself here by saying, do not ask me— “ Why

did you compete for such grounds, when excessive prices

ruled ? ” as I should only answer , “ We one and all bought

land at Government sales, never calculating, nor being led to

believe, that more than the whole revenue would be eaten up

with expenses of the Government Establishments, and no

portion of it used to encourage a trade in the young Colony.

Permit me, however, to notice a few items of expenditure, as

shewn in the “ Revenue and Expenditure Account for the

year ending 31st December last.

Colonial Secretary's Office costs annually £ 3,072 48 11d

When the duties attaching to this office are considered, this

sum appears very large. I should say that (so long as the same

individual is both Governor and Superintendent of Trade ),

the whole duties of the Secretary to the Superintendent of

Trade, and those of the Auditor might, with ease, be blended

with the Colonial Secretary's, at no additional cost.


Treasurer's Office costs £ 1870 98 5d

This amount was paid for collecting £23,617 during the year

1849. In China there are many houses of business which

receive as much as this entire amount collected, andpay an

equal sum , weekly ; and this is done with perfect safety and

despatch by the Chinese head servants, or Compradors, at an

almost nameless per- centage. The extent of labour to keep

the few accounts, £500 a year could amply cover .

Auditor's Office costs ..... £ 478 118 3d

A Colonial Secretary, I consider, should audit the few accounts,

as being a part of his individual duties, without further

remuneration .

Surveyor General's Office costs ... £ 1909 78 7d

For the past year no larger a sum than £530 48 5d was expended

by the Surveyor General in roads, streets, and bridges !

When roads become bad, they are not now repaired by

Government - no Government works are going on over

which the Surveyor General has any control ; and unless the

office is intended as a sinecure, I cannot see its use.

Harbour Master's Office costs .... £ 1360 98 4d

The office is no doubt a useful one ; but its cost seems entirely

beyond all precedent. It is true it combines with it the duties

of Marine Magistrate. The Harbour Master issues printed

rules to regulate ships entering and leaving the harbour,

imposing certain penalties in cases of disobedience, as to

anchoring, &c., but the Harbour Master does not pull off to

ships, and point out berths. In fact, this Harbour needs no

rule as to anchoring. Twenty times the number of Ships we

have ever seen here, could with safety to one another anchor

in the Bay. Nay more, the very Harbour Master seems

satisfied of this, as a Lascar, it is well known, for years past

has acted, and now acts for his master. He visits a ship on

arrival, carries aa book, in which he asks the Captain , or his

officer, to write the Vessel's name.---where from - what cargo

—and the name of the Consignees ! The Marine Magistrate's

duties are, to inquire into petty broils with sailors and their

captains, and any case of importance is handed over to one

or other of our Superior Courts.


The Judicial Establishment is set down at.......... £ 6608 Os od

This I consider a most oppressive charge on the Colony ;

a less expensive and more simple mode of administrating

justice is much called for. As I have already mentioned , we

have really no trade in the Colony, and the Home Govern

ment should be made thoroughly to understand, that the

business of the Courts has reference almost entirely to cases

(some not of the most respectable character) with Chinese,

either of robbery, piracy, murder, or other breaches of the

law. Now as regards the Rules of Court applicable to cases

where CHINESE are tried , or have suits, our system seems so

ill adapted to meet the cases which occur, that some change

in the constitution of the Courts is absolutely necessary . The

fees in all the Courts are too heavy. In certain cases you are

compelled to employ an Attorney, else be nonsuited ; and this

Attorney demands from the Chinamen exorbitant sums before

undertaking their cases. Europeans going into Court, diffi

culties and hardships, by way of squeezes in fees, surround

them . They, equally with the Chinese, cannot get their cases

brought on without going through the form and Court plan

of doing it, —all of which merely increases fees to the indi

vidual officers of the Court, and puts money into the pockets

of the Attornies . Surely in a place like this, where the

Courts are taken up with cases originating in the Colony,

and generally with the lowest and worst class of the Chinese,

but affecting our trade as established between China and

England not one cent — a case of a mercantile nature being

a most rare occurrence, some more speedy and wholesome

plan for meeting the ends of justice could surely be devised

at one - third the expense.

Medical . . £806 188 2d, Hospitals . . £340 38 9d = £1147 18 11d

The salary to the Colonial Surgeon takes up more than half of

this sum . As Government Officers pay their own Medical

Attendant, and as the Colonial Surgeon is permitted to prac

tice in his profession privately, I submit that this expense

seems unnecessarily heavy.

Police and Jails £6856 68 2d and £ 1125 128 8d := £7981 188 10d

It is notorious that this is one of the most expensive and least


efficient branches of our Local Governments. Numerically,

the Police Force is very large, but the Indians employed are

next to useless — their pay (6 to 7 8a month ) is too small to

make them care about retaining their appointments. We are

compelled to keep our own China watchmen at considerable

expense, notwithstanding the Police arrangements. Discharge

your China watchmen, and robbery is sure to follow . One

third of the number of Indian Constables of better character,

and having better pay, and a few more mounted Police

(English), would be more effective and less expensive.

I would assign to Mr. May, the Chief Superintendent of

Police, the duties of Assistant Magistrate — the cases come

before him in the first instance - and no one is better qualified

to dispose of them — thus abolishing entirely the office of

Assistant Magistrate, and imposing little, if any , more duty

on Mr. May. Many cases which Mr. Hillier, the Chief

Magistrate hands over to the Supreme Court, might be adju

dicated as they merit, by him on their first appearance . It is

the various Courts - forms - and procrastinating of Cases,

which at once render this an unreasonably expensive branch

of our Government, as well as one ill adapted to the wants of

the place.

These are a few of the burdens and difficulties which the

Colony still labors under ; and it is doubtful how long it can

bear up with them . Property will, and is, periodically falling

into the hands of Government, useless to the Colony ; tenants

being wanting, I believe, purely because of the difficulty of

placing the facts in a proper light before the Home Govern

ment, and rather unfortunately, those who govern us in China

look too much to the side where they can raise funds, never

to the lopping off needless but lucrative appointments, as

a means of lessening their pecuniary difficulties. It has been

the custom to impute to those who complain of unreasonable

taxation in Hong Kong, a desire on their part to impede the

plans and movements of the Government, and, in fact, to


grumble, without good grounds for so doing. I can only

answer this by craving a reference to the Treasurer's Accounts

for some years past, where it will be seen that the total Revenue

has gone but a short way to meet actual Salaries and Wages

for Officers ; whilst I am convinced, under a different system

the Government could be carried on at one-half the present

cost, and at the same time, in such a manner as to conduce to

the advantage of the Residents, and to giving the Colony

a chance of reviving some little trade, which at the present

moment appears all but extinct.

In this hurried letter, I have not mentioned anything of

our Consuls and Consular Ports. It seems to me very de

sirable for the interest of our trade, that there should be

Consul-General, irrespective of Hong Kong, who would have

the Ports of Canton, Shanghai, and Amoy, under his super

vision and control. ( Foo -Chow and Ningpo I consider dead

letters. I would withdraw our establishment, leaving merely

a paid Government Agent at each place, thus saving much

expense, and losing no trade ). And why should this plan of

a Consul-General not be carried out ? the advantages of such

a step to those interested in the China Trade are, to me,

apparent. The Mercantile community of China have little,

indeed no litigation, in the strict acceptation of the word.

Points involving questions where the “ Customs of the Ports ”

are generally the tests, sometimes come before a Consul, each

Consul should have power to decide on the merits, calling in ,

merchants, disinterested in

should he deem fit, three or more m

the case before him . In cases where appeals are made, such

appeals to go before the Consul-General on the merits, he to

be assisted by three or more Mercantile men, and his decision

to be binding


The arrangement at present seems to me most absurd.

The office of Superintendent of Trade is filled by the Governor

of Hong Kong, who receives £ 3000 a -year, for each office,

out of the resources of the colony. His Excellency resides

exclusively in this colony, and cannot personally be acquainted

with anything as regards the trade at the different Ports, and

the various branches of it, carried on under the eye of the

respective Consuls. To be so, His Excellency should, doubt

less, be resident in Canton ; yet reference must now be made

to the Superintendent; and though the matters may be most

sim and perfectly clear to the Resident -Consul, he must

abide the advices from Hong Kong, sometimes at consider

able inconvenience to the parties interested. Again , our

Supreme Court, as at present constituted, is a great bugbear

to trade at the different ports. When a case is brought

before a Consul, and a decision is given, the party against

whom the case has been decided, can appeal to this Court,

(as occurred the other day you may recollect) but the party

appealing has the unusual period of six months given him to

find sureties ! At the end of this time, he has only to come

forward and say, “ I cannot procure the sureties necessary !"

thus depriving the other individual of his lawful money for a

period of six months.

Those interested in the China Trade should be protected,

instead ofbeing exposed to the hardships of Local Ordinances.

The honest man is laid open to the losses and inconveniences

named, so long as such a course as that just mentioned, is

permitted and sanctioned by the Supreme Court of Hong


Yours sincerely,


From aa Merchant, Justice of the Peace, and Member of the

Legislative Council.

HONG KONG, 11th April, 1850.


With reference to our recent conversation, I need

hardly say, it is highly gratifying to find that Colonial Affairs

now attract more of the attention of British statesmen than

they formerly did ; and I am persuaded that important in

terests may be much benefited by the aid

of such a Member

of Parliament as the gentleman with whom you are in corres

pondence on this subject.

This remote and comparatively unimportant settlement never

has and never can boast of any Agricultural or Commercial

product from its soil. The place derives its importance only

from its being a Diplomatic and a Military Station . Several

English mercantile houses were established here when the

colony was in its infant state, but the number of such is now

reduced to ten or twelve ; the buildings erected by some

being now unoccupied, and others being let for various pur

poses. The merchants who continue to reside here keep up

their establishments because they are unwilling to abandon

their buildings, which were erected under the false expecta

tion of this becoming a place of trade, and which, whether

occupied or not, are subject to a very heavy annual ground

rent. Canton and Shanghae are the principal (almost the

exclusive) Marts in China for Imports from England and

India, as well as for the Exports of China. There is a

Banking establishment here, but its business is chiefly done

At Canton and Shanghae. There are two American com


mercial firms ( agencies ) here, and one Danish ; the rest of the

inhabitants, besides those in the pay of the British Govern

ment, are a few European storekeepers, some missionaries,

and a scanty population of Chinese. None of the latter are

possessed of any property, and many of them are people of

bad repute.

The Ground Rents are almost the only source of revenue,

and they fall heavily on the inhabitants of a place which is

destitute of all natural resources.

Such is the settlement which at home is expected to be a

self-supporting colony. And so it might be, under proper

management ; but not with Government establishments such

as have been saddled upon it .

I contend that if this barren rock is to support the Govern

ment annual expenditure here, it should maintain only those

establishments which are necessary for the colony.

The salary of the Plenipotentiary and Superintendent of

Trade should form no part of the charge on the colony.

The office of the Colonial Treasury, with all in it, might be

abolished, and the duties could be efficiently performed by an

extra clerk in the Commissariat Department, at an expense

of £ 300 to £ 400 per annum .

The Supreme Court, with a Judge, Attorney -General,

Registrar, and subordinate officers, may be necessary as an

imperial appendage ; but more summary proceedings inLaw

than the courts of England admit of, seem to be necessary

here, particularly in order to check crime, this being the

habitual resort of hordes of pirates and thieves, who by the

leniency of our laws, and the interval which usually elapses

between the magisterial examination and the trial by jury,

too frequently escape punishment for want of " legal evidence,"

sometimes from the absence of witnesses, and often from pre


varication and perjury, for which the Chinese are notorious ;

besides which, imperfect interpretation of the language some

times interferes in obtaining proof of guilt. The Law Officers,

faithful to their profession, most religiously adhere to the

forms practised in England ; and, it is to be regretted, that

although the necessity of a change has been officially acknow

ledged in England, nothing seems to be in contemplation to

correct the evil.

The Surveyor -General, Clerk of the Works, and all apper

taining to that office, may well be dispensed with , and the

services of the Royal Engineers substituted. No new build

ings or roads are likely to be required, whilst the necessary

repairs to make the roads and bridges passable in the less

frequented parts. of the Island are not undertaken from

economical consideration . This is of the less consequence,

from the danger of highway robbery having rendered the roads

unavailable any distance from the town.

The Magistracy, Gaol, and Police establishments are at

tended with heavy expenses — and necessarily so, from the

character of most of the Chinese inhabitants. The present

Police Force is inefficient in so straggling a town as this is,

and it ought to be numerically increased, if possible, with

better materials. The Constables are mostly Indians, defi

cient in physical or in moral power .

Some time ago, a long and most diligent investigation was

made by a Parliamentary Committee, into the affairs of the

China Trade, and of this colony, and an able Report was

drawn up, recommending the adoption of certain measures,

none of which I believe have been carried into effect. If

attention could be drawn to that Report, I think some good

might be the result.

I remain, my dear Sir, yours sincerely,


Note on receipt of the preceding.

Hong Kong, April 12, 1850.


On reading over your letter, a few and comparatively

unimportant points struck me as deserving of being again

reconsidered by you. To take them in order — Ist. You say,

there are two American and one Danish Commercial firms,

you might have added, one German . But, are any of these

properly termed Commercial firms ? They are really agencies

for the Commercial firms at the other Ports of China, and,

but for this being the Post Office station, might be dispensed

with. 2nd. I think if you attended the Courts as often as I

do, you would be struck with, if possible, a greater evil than

the escape of the guilty through prevarication and perjury.

Through these, I am fully persuaded the innocent are fre

quently convicted by the guilty, the Court being either unable

or unwilling to investigate this matter, so that the bare forms

are observed. The forms and expensiveness of Civil and

Vice -Admiralty proceedings have ruined not a few Chinese,

who would have added their mite to the trade and industry

of the place. 3rd. I concur about the state of the roads, but

not as to the danger of highway robbery. For years past

Europeans have been wonderfully safe. I know of many

others besides myself that have travelled at all hours and met

with nothing to make us afraid - nor are such cases of attack

frequent in the Police Reports. 4th. You say, there is a

scanty population of Chinese ! Do you think so ? They far

outnumber all others put together. Chinese of substance,

there are few_if any.

Yours, sincerely,


Note in reply.

Hong Kong, 12th April, 1850.


I have yours of this date. I believe that in the

capacity of Agents, the two American houses here do some

Commercial business, but not much. The Dane is a large

Importer of Rice, from Lombok , and other ports. The

German, I fancy, is more of a Storekeeper than any thing


What you say about our Courts of law is very true, but I

am in hopes something will be done to make proceedings

more suitable to the circumstances attending cases here ; all

lawyers will stick to the old forms as long as they can.

The Chinese have reason to fear highway robbery on the

roads out of town, but as regardsEuropeans this may be a mere

bugbear. From my own observation, however, it is evident

that the Western road between my house and Pok -foo -lum

is less frequented by Europeans (pedestrian or equestrian )

than it was two years ago ;* and you will recollect that the

Government † issued a public warning to people, not to

venture on the roads out of town singly without being

armed .

The Chinese population in the colony, certainly outnumbers

all the rest of the inhabitants — immeasurably - but does not

increase ; and I consider the Island, small as it is, thinly

populated, for you may walk for miles in many directions

without seeing any habitation, and the Town is not densely

crowded .

Yours sincerely

* The road is in such bad repair as to be nearly impassable.

+ The Chief Magistrate, years ago.


From a Justice of the Peace, and Member of a leading

Mercantile Firm .



It will be unnecessary to dwell upon the sad mistake com

mitted by Sir Henry Pottinger, in choosing for a British

settlement an island so barren as Hong Kong, devoid of

natural resources, producing neither food for man nor cattle,

incapable of being put into a state of defence except at an enor

mous outlay of money , and the maintenance of a very large

garrison ; while it is 85 miles distant from Canton, the chief

emporium of trade with this part of China, and 73 from

Whampoa, the place of anchorage and loading of British

vessels .

The error has been committed, and the millions of British

capital that have been spent for Military, Government, and

Mercantile purposes, will, in all probability, cause Hong

Kong, with all its disadvantages, to continue a British


That being the case, it is of course of importance to

ascertain, what can be done for its improvement and pros

perity, and what economy and saving can be effected in the

government of the colony.

The petitions and memorials from residents, both to Par

liament and Government, have already directed attention to

those points ; but little notice has been taken either of the

recommendations of Committees of Parliament, or of those

interested in the prosperity of the colony.


A Minister of the Colonies seems only anxious to get easily

through the Session of Parliament, to avoid or ward off the

attacks that may be made against him , or his measures ; and

matters which deserve consideration and require to be

grappled with, are either passed over, or forgotten so soon as

the storm that may have been raised subsides. The cause of

this neglect may possibly be attributable, in some measure, to

the impossibility of one man, or of aa dozen of men, being able

to attend at one time to the multiplicity of affairs connected

with so many distant colonies, to learn and understand the

real position of matters, and consequently what affects the

true interests of those possessions.

It would be natural to suppose that, under such circum

stances, a person would be selected for the Governor of a

colony, in whose judgment and discretion the government at

at home placed reliance, and who consequently would have

liberty to carry out the measures he approved of ; but the

dread of responsibility on the part of the Governor, or the

reluctance on that of the Colonial Office to permit his inde

pendent action , neutralizes the advantages of the appoint

ment of such a person ; and a clerk from the Colonial Office,

upon a comparatively small salary, accustomed to obey the

orders of his chief at home, might, so far as the colony is

concerned, answer equally well.

I would not, however, advocate such a system , nor do I

think that the power should rest exclusively either with a

Minister or a Governor.

A Legislative Council may exist, as it does here ; but com

posed, as it is, of those holding appointments under Govern

ment, circumstances conduce generally to render the parties

too subservient to the will of the Governor.

The contemplated admission into Council here of two from

the Mercantile body, is a step in the right direction ; but it


falls far short of what ought to be done. A complete change

of system , one of a more liberal character, is required ,-one

which would give some voice to those who contribute towards

the revenue of the colony — to those most interested in its

prosperity, and best able to judge of the measures that would

benefit it. Had this been done at first, we would not now

have the mass of useless ordinances, and the confusion they

create - respectable Chinese would not have been deterred

from trading to, and settling in the colony, and a greater

number of British merchants might have found it their in

terest to have remained here.

Our present Governor evinces a laudable desire to benefit

the settlement, but the causes already alluded to, amongst

others, operate against his carrying out the measures


Much therefore remains to be done, which under aa different

system of government would meet with immediate attention .

I may instance the imperfect state of the Police Force, com

posed chiefly of the most abandoned characters, and who, as

experience has shewn, are most unfit to watch over the safety

of property and individuals. It is partly owing to this that

the most desperate characters among the Chinese resort to

this town and island — that pirates frequent it both to man

and equip their vessels — that piracies are of so frequent

occurrence in our harbour - that robberies and thefts on

shore are of daily occurrence, and that Europeans are some

times attacked in the very streets of Victoria in open day,

without getting assistance either from Chinese or from the

Police. Adequate measures ought surely to be adopted for

the prevention of such evils.

They may also be partly attributable to the insufficiency

and inadaptation of English laws for the Chinese population,

and particularly for characters of the description mentioned .


Different laws ought therefore to be framed ; the present

forms and rules of Court ought for all parties to be simplified

or abolished, and justice ought to be administered in as cheap

and speedy a mode as possible.

For the Chinese, the latter is the more necessary, from the

difficulty of keeping witnesses together, and preventing them

being tampered with. The Gaol department and prison dis

cipline might be improved, and if the Treadmill were intro

duced it would greatly assist in checking crime ; and as

punishment in the Colony might then by a change in the law

be substituted for transportation, the saving both to the

Colony and Mother Country would be considerable. It might

also be well to try the experiment of putting a certain number

of the most respectable Chinese on the Jury in trials of their

countrymen . It would tend probably to raise them in respec

tability,-make them better acquainted with our laws and

forms of Justice,—and have a good effect upon those brought

to trial.

It would be an advantage also in this Colony, if the law , as


it is in Scotland, had effect, rendering a majority, or two

thirds, of the jurymen being unanimous, sufficient to return

a verdict.

The cry that has been raised against Colonial expenditure,

and particularly with reference to Hong Kong, is another

preventive to good being done here. Governors are desirous

to stand well with the home authorities, and thus the money

that ought to be laid out in the keeping up and the improvement

of streets, roads, and generally for the benefit of the Colony,

is saved to meet the expenses of an unnecessarily large

Government establishment, which, apparently for the patronage

it affords, Ministers seem unwilling to reduce .


Economy and reduction are spoken of, and may be recom

mended - underlings may be cut down in salary or dismissed,

but the axe is not laid at the root of the evil. It is from such

a system that this Colony has suffered, and will continue to

suffer should no change take place.

From various sources a revenue of about £ 24,000 is raised

here; and any one who has given any consideration to the

subject will admit, that it is more than adequate for the ex

penses of an efficient Government establishment, and for all

other purposes of the Colony.

It seems ill-judged to deprive so many who contribute to

wards that revenue of having a voice in its appropriation - it

is disadvantageous to the Colony, and it is most unfair to

employ it for other than legitimate objects.

More could be said on this head as well as others, and also

with reference to the means of improving the Colony, but

I have touched upon what appeared to me to deserve the

most consideration.

HONG KONG, 19th April, 1850.



From a Justice of the Peace.

1. The Governor of Hong Kong Mr. Barham considers the

is alsoChiefSuperintendentofTrade present arrangement unfair to

in China, and Her Majesty's Pleni- the Colony .

potentiary, let the Colony therefore

only pay one -third of his salary,

and allow £300 for Private Se

cretary · £ 2300

2. Colonial Secretary, Auditor Major Caine has now nearly

General, and Clerk of Councils served his time , allow him to

£ 1200 ann . and £ 800 for esta- retire with his pension, and pro

blishments which ought to provide mote the Colonial Treasurer, Mr.

also for record of sales and trans Mercer, who is well qualified for

fers of land , &c. at present done in the superior office.

the Surveyor-General's office .... 2000

3. Colonial Treasurer - abolish ;

and hand over the business to the

Bank , the Commission on £ 25,000

of Revenue at 1 p Cent. 250

4. Surveyor -General - abolish ;

give an Engineer Officer £ 300 m

ann . to attend to roads and build

ings , the record of land sales , &c.

provided for in Secretary's office . 300

5. Harbour- Master - reduce to Mr. Lena performed the duties

£300 g ann . with £ 100 for a boat's in Mr. Pedder's absence in a

crew and establishment 400 most satisfactory manner ; his

6. Ecclesiastical, Educational, salary was £ 300 p annum.

and Medical, as at present, say .. 1600

7. Judicial-Judge £ 2000, Re

gistrar £800, Establishment, say

£ 1000 3800

8. Police and Jails, at present

£7988, and inefficient, but might

be much improved and the ex

penses reduced 7000


I think the sum of £ 17,650 would be sufficient for the Colonial Esta

blishment, Supreme Court, Police and Jails and all ; and as the Revenue

in 1849 amounted to £23,617 , there would be a balance of £6000 in hand,

which would admit of the Ground Rent ( the only item of Revenue com

plained of) being reduced, or being done away with , and a Property Tax

substituted instead, and were this done I think the Colony would progress;

at present it is standing still !


From a Merchant and Justice of the Peace.

23rd April, 1850.

The piracies that during the last few years have been

prevalent in China waters, must in a great degree be attributed

to ourselves, partly as the natural result of the treaties, and

greatly from the mode in which we have managed the affairs

of the colony of Hong Kong.

Before entering into the various causes that have led to the

present condition of the Coast and extremities of Southern

China, it may be as well to recur to their state previous to the

circumstances which preceded Captain Elliott's Opium Cor

respondence with the Viceroy of Canton, in 1838, which led

to the war of the three succeeding years.

If any of the merchants who retired from China previous to

1839, were now to return, they would find nothing more

changed than the degree of confidence with which foreigners

venture their persons or property between Canton and

Whampoa, and the outer anchorages. Up to that time there

was no hesitation in trusting property of the greatest value to

the keeping of the Lascars, who navigated the small schooners

which then plied on the river, and which, during many years,

formed almost the only means of communication between

Canton and the outer waters ; and it may very safely be said,

that during the whole time, not one piratical attack was made

on any of them , although they often carried large amounts of

treasure both to and from the receiving ships and Canton.


The late Mr. Jardine, who must be considered as a good

authority, said, at a public dinner given to him by the foreign

community, previous to his leaving China in the beginning

of 1839

“ I have been a long time in this country, and have aa few words

to say in its favour. Here we find our persons more efficiently pro

tected by laws than in many other parts of the East, or of the world.

In China, a foreigner can go to sleep, with his windows open, without

being in dread of either his life or property, which are well guarded

by a most watchful and excellent police ; but both are periled with

little or no protection in many other states. Business is conducted

with unexampled facility, and in general with singular good faith ;

and though there are, of course, occasional exceptions, these but

more strikingly bear out my assertion. Neither would I omit the

general courtesy of the Chinese in all their intercourse and transac

tions with foreigners. These, and some other considerations, are

the reasons that so many of us so oft re- visit this country, and stay

in it so long . "

There can be no doubt that persons and property in China

were, up to that time, safe to a degree which now appears


I shall take the years 1837–38, in which I had most per

sonal experience in the state of matters I am about to describe.

In 1837, the Opium Trade came to Whampoa — the usual

anchorage for ships engaged in the more legal trade-- and one

of the first stationary vessels employed in it was under my

orders, and I continued largely and continuously engaged in

the trade during the whole time it lasted . My business was

to sell Opium at Canton, either deliverable at Whampoa,

alongside the depôt schooner, or at various points on the

river ; at night, sometimes as far as a mile and a half above

Canton. The difficulty in the latter was to find a European

who knew the river, and could be trusted to make the de

liveries at the places agreed upon, and at the proper time.

After repeated failures by others, I had for some months to


take this night-duty on myself, in addition to making sales

during the day.

My first delivery was above Canton, after which I made

deliveries of Opium at every point of the river ; sometimes to

the value of 18,000 to 20,000 dollars at a time; I have on

three occasions carried a gig filled with drug to the city shore

inside the Dutch Folly ; I have remained at anchor for hours,

for instance, where the Barrier now is. After the time ap

pointed for the Chinese to come for their Opium , I have pulled

up in my wherry from French Folly to Canton, unarmed and

often alone, at every hour of the night ; and during the whole

time I never met with the slightest molestation from either the

Chinese authorities or people. Again, the small schooners

remained in perfect safety at Whampoa, although at times

there were no ships at the anchorage. They were supplied

with Opium by other schooners of the same class (15 to 45

tons,) constantly running between that anchorage and the

ships at Hong Kong, bringing cargoes of Opium of the value

of $ 10,000 to 850,000, and often the returns. Yet, although

the nature of the cargo was well known, not one case of

piracy occurred. At this time, too, Foreigners were in the

constant habit of walking about the streets of Canton without

molestation, and over the length and breadth of the island of

Honan, which now they cannot do.

It has been often asked, Why is it that the Chinese of the

present day are so much changed for the worse ? and it is

usually answered, “ The war, by lessening the respect of the

populace for the authorities, has been the cause ;" but I think

there are also other causes for the hostility with which the

lower classes at Canton regard us. Nothing has at any time

been done to conciliate them ; and as a body they derive no

advantage from our residence among them ; on the contrary,

any concessions obtained from the mandarins, to the increase


of the comfort of foreigners, has been at the expense of the

people. Such have been the inclosing the front of the factories,

and their rigid exclusion from the square, that formerly was

common to all; and the shutting up of Hog Lane,which led to

one of their most frequented ferries. Imagine the British

Government assigning to a community of foreigners, St. Paul's

Church -yard, or even Leicester Square, for a place of residence,

and the indignation that would result if they even applied for

leave to close the thoroughfare. Moreover, as beforesaid, they

derive no benefit from us . The greater part of our supplies

of food even come from Whampoa, and our servants are almost

invariably from another district.

But these circumstances do not account for the piracies and

robberies that of late have become so common . Few Chinese,

however, would become pirates or murderers from choice, but

their moral principle is not sufficient to restrain them , where

they see no other chance of existence open to them . I would

therefore attribute the character the lower class of Chinese

around us have now obtained, in a great measure, to causes

incident to the changes in their condition, arising from the

Treaty and other circumstances in the Foreign Trade, which

have had the effect of throwing a vast number out of employ

ment. Previous to the war there were few Opium receiving

ships on the coast of China, and none of them to the North

of Chin -Chew Bay. From these ships and Canton the whole

of Northern China was supplied by their own vessels ; now ,

the Opium trade of the North is carried on in twelve foreign

vessels, stationed near Shanghae and Ningpo, their supplies

being either carried direct from India, or by foreign vessels

from Canton River -besides the whole of the general trade at

the new ports being conducted in the same manner, the

Coasting trade of Chinese junks has been nearly utterly

extinguished .


At Hong Kong, on its first occupation , and until Sir Henry

Pottinger dispossessed some of the Chinese of lands granted

to them by Captain Elliot, the population was very great, and

profitably employed, and the most sanguine expectations were

entertained for the future.

Sir John Davis arrived in May 1844 ; in August following

the Registration Ordinance was passed. This measure,

although distasteful to the Chinese, might have done little

evil had the same inducements to their settling in the colony

been allowed to continue , but unfortunately no other mode of

increasing the revenue could be devised , except taking the

means of existence from the many and giving it to the few,

by the system of monopolies upon every means of employment

to which they could be applied. The Opium Farm , Market

Farm , Fishery Farm , Salt Farm , Ghaut Serang Farm , Stone

Quarry Farm , were all made to contribute to the revenue of


the colony, but at the same time to the ruin of its trade and

prospects. To enable readers at a distance to understand the

nature of what in the East is called a farm , we may simply

state that the Opium Farm , for instance , deprived nearly every

shopkeeper of the right he had previously enjoyed to sell

Opium , and conferred it exclusively on one man for a sum of

money. This is the working of the whole system -- it deprived

the people of employment, and consequently of food, and

crime has, as a matter of course , been the natural attendant

upon a starving and not very moral population . The sources

of industry, in fact, have been dried up by the Government :

open them again , and crime will be much diminished . It is

often said that Chinese commit petty crimes for the purpose

of getting into jail that they may be fed. What does this

prove ?

Blades & East, Printers, Abchurch Lane.

5 MY 52




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