Europe in China: The History of Hongkong from the Beginning to the Year 1882 | Ernest John Eitel


















Herbert Clark Hoover.






Herbert Clark Hoover.





March on



NESE BUDDHISM:-A Sanskrit - Chinese

Dictionary, with Vocabularies of Buddhist

Terms in Pali, Singhalese, Siamese, Burmese,

Tibetan, Mongolian and Japanese. Second

Edition . Revised and Enlarged. Hongkong ,


BUDDHISM:-Its Historical, Theoretical and

Popular Aspects, in Three Lectures. Third

Edition, Revised , with Additions. Hongkong,


FENG SHUI : -The Rudiments of Natural Science

in China. London and Hongkong, 1873.


TONESE DIALECT : -Four Volumes, with

Appendix. London and Hongkong, 1877 to

1883 .


TION IN HONGKONG : -Reprint from

the China Review. Hongkong, 1891 .





March or



NESE BUDDHISM:-A Sanskrit- Chinese

Dictionary, with Vocabularies of Buddhist

Terms in Pali, Singhalese, Siamese, Burmese,

Tibetan , Mongolian and Japanese. Second

Edition. Revised and Enlarged . Hongkong,


BUDDHISM :-Its Historical, Theoretical and

Popular Aspects, in Three Lectures . Third

Edition, Revised, with Additions. Hongkong,


FENG SHUI: -The Rudiments of Natural Science

in China. London and Hongkong, 1873 .


TONESE DIALECT: -Four Volumes, with

Appendix. London and Hongkong, 1877 to



TION IN HONGKONG : -Reprint from

the China Review. Hongkong, 1891 .







E. J. EITEL , Ph.D. (TUBING . )



The actual well seen is the ideal.- Carlyle,


















Registered in accordance with the provisions of Ordinance No. 10 of 1888,

at the office of the

Registrar General, Supreme Court House, Hongkong.


O Europeans residing in Hongkong or China ,

T° in se

I need not offer any excuse for inviting them

to take up this book. The natural desire to learn

to understand the present by a consideration of the

past, will plead with them better than I could do .

But the general reader, in England and elsewhere,

I entreat for a reconsideration of the popularly

accepted view that but little importance, beyond that

of a curio, attaches to Hongkong, its community

and position , or indeed to European relations with


At first sight, indeed , the Colony of Hongkong

appears like an odd conglomeration of fluctua-

ting molecules of nationalities, whose successive

Governors seem to be but extraneous factors

adventitiously regulating or disturbing the heavings

of this incongruous mass. But in reality the Hong-

kong community is solidarily one. Though an

unbridged chasm does yawn in its midst, waiting

for a Marcus Curtius to close it and meanwhile

separating the outward social life of Europeans and

Chinese, the people of Hongkong are inwardly


bound together by a steadily developing commu-

nion of interests and responsibilities : the destiny

of the one race is to rule and the fate of the other

to be ruled. The different periods of Hongkong's

history, though demarcated each by the admi-

nistration of a different Governor, are in reality

the successive stages of the growth of one ideal

person (the Colony) naturally expanding itself in

a continuous line of so many generations, as it were ,

of one and the same ideal family (the community) .

Looking deeper still, there is seen underlying this

mixed and fluctuating population of Hongkong a

self-perpetuating unity : the secret inchoative union

of Europe and Asia (as represented by China) .

This union is in process of practical elaboration

through the combined forces of commerce, civilisa-

tion and Christian education, and particularly through

the steady development of Great Britain's political

influence in the East, an influence which dates back

to the earliest days of the East India Company in

India and China. Indeed, the Anglo -Chinese com-

munity of Hongkong specifically represents that

coming union of Europe and Asia which China

stubbornly resists while Great Britain and Russia,

France and Japan unconsciously co-operate towards

it. As representing that union, the Hongkong

community has its root in the earlier and smaller

community of British and other European merchants


with their Chinese hangers-on settled at the Canton

Factories. But its earliest prototype can be discerned

in the previous settlements of the Portuguese and

Dutch and more particularly of the agents of the

East- India Company who were unconsciously working

out in China, as well as in India, the international

problem with the solution of which Hongkong is

specially concerned . When, under the impulse of

the awakening free trade spirit in England, the

East-India Company had to withdraw from the field

( 1834 ) , the British free-traders at Canton continued

to represent Europe in China, and, when driven out

thence, transplanted to Hongkong ( 1841 ) those

unifying commercial and political principles which

are to the present day the underlying elements of

progress in the historic evolution of Hongkong.

But as the history of the Hongkong community

presents thus an unbroken chain of influences con-

necting the political mission of Europe with the

present politics of Asia, so also the successive

administrations of the government of this Colony

have the same inner unity. Though each Governor

is but a transient visitor, each possessed of his own

idiosyncracies, and each controlled by an ever shifting

series of Secretaries of State for the Colonies, behind

them all is that ideal but none the less real entity,

the genius of British public opinion, which inspires

and overrules them all. That genius , feeling its


mission in Europe and North America fulfilled , has

of late commenced to enter upon a new field of

action whereby to complete its destiny. Asia and

generally the countries and continents bordering on

the Pacific Ocean, now task the energies of Downing

Street and of the Governors sent forth from it, as

well as the energies of the India Office, with pro-

blems of such increasingly international bearings,

that both the Colonial Office and the India Office

are rapidly outstripping in importance the Foreign

Office, and the necessities of both now demand the

creation of a Ministry specially charged with the

direction of British affairs in the Far East, The

fact is the fulcrum of the World's balance of

power has shifted from the West to the East,

from the Mediterranean to the Pacific.

To the popular view the position of Hongkong

in the East appears to be that of a remote Island,

a mere dot in a little-known ocean. In reality,

however, Hongkong, which commercially ranks as

the second port of the British Empire, occupies

a geographically most fortunate place in relation to

the peculiar destinies of the Far East. For the

last two thousand years, the march of civilization

has been directed from the East to the West :

Europe has been tutored by Asia. Ennobled by

Christianity, civilization now returns to the East :

Europe's destiny is to govern Asia . Marching at the


head of civilization, Great Britain has commenced

her individual mission in Asia by the occupation

of India and Burma, the Straits Settlements and

Hongkong . By fifty years ' handling of Hongkong's

Chinese population, Great Britain has shewn how

readily the Chinese people (apart from Mandarindom )

fall in with a firm European regime, and the rapid

conversion of a barren rock into one of the wonders

and commercial emporiums of the world , has demon-

strated what Chinese labour, industry and commerce

can achieve under British rule . Moreover, located on

the western border of the Pacific, in line with Canada

in the North - East, with Her Majesty's Indian and

African Possessions in the South - West, and with the

Australian Colonies in the South, Hongkong occupies

a specially important position , not only with regard

to the problems gathering round China and Japan

(in their mutual relations to Great Britain , Russia

and France ) , but especially also with regard to the

greater rôle which the Pacific Ocean is destined to

play in the closing scenes of the world's history.

What the Mediterranean and Atlantic were while

civilization moved from East to West, the Pacific is

bound to become now since the tide of progress

runs from West to East. Africa is even now being

brought into the sphere of modern civilization by

the combined powers of Europe . The turn of South-

America will come next. There is not a first-class


power in the world that has not possessions on the

shores of the Pacific . Great Britain and the United

States , Russia and France , Germany and Italy,

Spain and Portugal, all vie with each other in the

control of countries bordering on , or islands situated

in, the Pacific basin. It requires no prophet's gift

to see that the politics of the near future centre in

the East and that the problems of the Far East

will be solved on the Pacific main. Contests will

be sure to arise and in these contests Hongkong

will be one of the stations most important for the

general strength of the British Empire. Here, even

more than in its bearing upon the Asiatic problem ,

lies the real importance of Hongkong. Such is

the position of this Colony in relation to the destinies

of the Far East : Hongkong will yet have a pro-

minent place in the future history of the British


The foregoing consideratons will commend the

subject of this book to the attention of the general

reader. As to its treatment, the endeavour of the

writer has been to combine with the aims of the

historian, writing from the point of view of universal

history, the duties of the chronicler of events such

as are of special interest to European residents in

the East, so as to provide at the same time a hand-

book of reference for those who take an active

interest in the current affairs of this British Colony


as well as in British relations with China. This

volume brings down the story of Hongkong's rise

and progress to the year 1882. The more recent

epochs of its history are too near to our view yet

to admit of impartial historic treatment for the



College Gardens ,

HONGKONG , August 2 , 1895 .




CHINA, A.D. 1625 to 1834 ………… .


1834, .... 12





1834 to 1836 , 42




FROM CANTON (1839) . 75



to 1841 ,...... 96




KONG, 1841 to 1843, 135


January 26 to Angust 10 , 1841 , ............ 168




August 10, 1841 , to May 8, 1844 ,………………….. 179


May 8, 1844, to March 18 , 1848, ...... 211


March 20 , 1848 , to April 12 , 1854, 253

XVI. A BRIEF SURVEY, ...... 288


April 13, 1854, to May 5, 1859, 298


ROBINSON, September 9 , 1859, to March

15 , 1865, 353



SIR R. G. MACDONNELL, March 15, 1865 ,

to April 22 , 1872 , 408


April 16 , 1872 , to March 1 , 1877 , ........ 477


HENNESSY. April 22 , 1877 , to March

7, 1882 ,.... 522







A.D. 1625 to 1834.

'HE history of British Trade with China, which preceded

Great Britain's connection with India, is comprised , from its

first commencement down to the year 1884, in the history of the

Honourable East India Company. Unfortunately, however, the

story of the Company's relations with China is one of the darkest

blots in the whole history of British commerce. That great and

powerful Corporation, which governed successfully Asiatic kings

and princes, and covered itself with administrative, financial and

even military glory, particularly in India, was entirely nonplussedt

by China's dogged self-adequacy and persistent assertion of

supremacy, and had its glory, its honour, its self- respect rudely

trampled under foot by subordinate Chinese Mandarins.

The Court of Directors, having at the instance of Captain

J. Sares (since 1613 A.D. ) established a factory at Firando, in

Japan, under a treaty with the Japanese Government, was

induced also (A.D. 1625) to open tentative branch-agencies at

Tywan (on the island of Formosa ) and next in Amoy (on the

opposite mainland of China) . This move was made during the

last few years of the reign of the Chinese Ming Dynasty which

systematically welcomed foreign merchants. Encouraged by the

results, the Directors of the East India Company resolved

(A.D. 1627) to open trade also with Canton, by way of Macao .

But the Portuguese, who had already established themselves there


(since 1557 A.D. ) , strenuously objected to admit such a powerful

interloper to a share in the profits of the Chinese trade, and

the.attempt failed .

Nothing daunted , however, the Court of Directors forth-

(A.D. 1634) negotiated a Treaty with the Portuguese

Governor of Goa , under whose control Macao was, and by virtue

of this Treaty the British ship London (Captain Weddell) was

admitted into the port of Macao and, after bombarding the

Bogue Forts at the entrance to the Canton River, her gallant

commander was received in friendly audience by the Viceroy,

who forthwith granted him (July 1655) full participation in

the Canton trade, to the great chagrin of the Macao traders.

Thus British trade commenced at Canton, but through petty

international jealousies on the part of the Portuguese and other

causes it languished, until at last Oliver Cromwell concluded , on

express principles of reciprocity, a Treaty (A.D. 1654) with King

John IV. of Portugal, giving free access to the ships of both

nations to any port of the East Indies.

Ten years later, the East India Company, having at last

secured a house at Macao, endeavoured to set up a regular

factory at Canton also . But by this time the native Ming

Dynasty had been supplanted by the Manchu invaders who

established (A.D. 1644 ) the present Tatsing Dynasty and

manifested from first to last a haughty contempt for all persons

engaged in trade and an irreconcilable animosity against all

foreign intruders .

In conquering Amoy ( A.D. 1681 ) , the Manchus destroyed

the Company's agency there and at Zelandia (Formosa) , but the

Portuguese at Macao, having made themselves useful to the new

Dynasty by rendering military aid to the invaders, were with

haughty contempt tolerated where they were, without any formal

concession being made to them. The Manchus , disdaining to

make any distinction between Portuguese and English, as being

equally barbarians in their eyes, allowed foreign trade at Canton

to continue, though thenceforth under galling and vexatious



The East India Company's Supercargoes soon found that,

so long as they indirectly and humbly acknowledged the

supremacy which the Manchu Dynasty now claimed over the

whole world, expressly including also all foreign barbarians,

the Chinese officials were perfectly ready to accept costly presents

and to encourage foreign trade provided that it would quietly

submit to their irregular exactions. Thereupon the Company

began (A.D. 1681 ) sending ships direct from England to Macao,

and later on (A.D. 1685 ) they succeeded in re-opening their

agency at Amoy and (A.D. 1702) planting a factory also on the

island of Chusan .

Up to this time, trade had been conducted in a loose and

irregular manner. On the arrival of a ship in the waters of

Canton, she was boarded by an officer of the Hoppo ( Imperial

Superintendent of Native Maritime Customs) , who was at once.

offered a present (called cumshaw) upon the value of which

depended the mode of measuring the ship, whereupon followed

(in the absence of a fixed tariff) a disgraceful bargaining and

haggling over the rates of port charges, linguist's fees and

customs duties to be levied. When all these negotiations, hurried

on frequently by a threat on the part of the Supercargo to

take the ship away or temporarily suspended by sundry practical

menaces on the part of the Hoppo's officers, had been concluded,

the ship was allowed to proceed to Whampoa (the port of

Canton) and there admitted to open trade with any officially

recognized native merchant or broker.

A serious change was introduced with the year 1702. The

East India Company having sent out (A.D. 1699) a Chief-

Supercargo (Mr. Catchpoole) who was commissioned to act as

King's Minister or Consul for the whole empire of China.

and the adjacent islands, the Chinese officials responded with

a counter move, While the Chief- Supercargo's royal commission

was studiously ignored and the term tai-pan (chief-manager)

applied to the King's Minister, a Chinese merchant, entitled

'the Emperor's Merchant ' but among the Company's Super-

cargoes thenceforth known as ' the Monster in Trade, ' was now


(A.D. 1702 ) appointed by the Chinese Government to supervise

foreign trade. This Emperor's Merchant had the exclusive-

monopoly of the foreign trade and, in addition to the Hoppo's

officers who had to be plied with presents and fees as before,

this Monster in Trade had now to be satisfied in the same

way. All imports and exports had to pass through his hands ,

all commercial transactions of the foreign merchants had to be

settled through his agency. He was for some time nominally

the sole intermediary between the foreigners and native.

merchants, and likewise the exclusive channel of communications

between the foreign merchants and skippers (including the East

India Company's Agents with the King's Minister) on the one

hand and the Chinese Government on the other. Thenceforth

free trade was at an eud and the monopoly of the East India

Company was by astute Chinese policy met by an equally

powerful combination of Chinese monopolists, who periodically

had to disgorge their profits to the Provincial Authorities (the

Viceroy and the Governor of Canton) , and to the Hoppo, an

officer of the Imperial Household . The latter had to purchase

by a heavy fee a five years' tenure of the monopoly of collecting

the native and foreign customs duties of Canton, and on his

return to Peking, he was invariably squeezed like a sponge

by the Imperial Household . Thus foreign trade was thence-

forth ground down between the upper and nether mill-stones

of the Chinese Authorities and the Emperor's Merchant and

his successors .

Nevertheless, the East India Company's Supercagoes specily

managed to adapt their policy to the new arrangement. Trade

continued to flourish. The ships proceeded thereafter first of

all to Macao, then sent up agents to Canton to arrange, in

whatever way it could be done, the amount of presents,

measuring fees, port charges, duties and brokerage, and then ,

when everything was satisfactorily arranged, the ship would

proceed to the Bogue (the entrance to the Canton River,

guarded by two forts, Chuenpi on the East and Taikoktau on

the West) and, after paying fees and duties there, a chop (a


stamped permit) would be granted to each ship to proceed to

Whampoa to trade. By the year 1715, a regular routine

had been established and British ships now began to omit

the visit to Macao and to proceed, on arrival in Chinese

waters, straight to the Bogue, where, after anchoring for

some days, everything was settled by the Supercargoes as


A new change was made in the conduct of the foreign trade

in the year 1720, when an ad valorem duty of 4 per cent . was

laid on all imports and exports and a Committee of Chinese

merchants, henceforth known as the Co-Hong, was substituted

in place of the one Emperor's Merchant . But this Committee

was likewise placed under the supervision of the Hoppo, and,

as before, made answerable to the Viceroy and Governor for

all dues on trade. These Co- Hong Merchants were as a body

solidarily responsible for the solvency of each member of the

Co- Hong, both as regards indebtedness towards the foreign

merchants and as regards the share of the Provincial Authorities

in their profits. Moreover they were responsible, as a body,

for the payment of all fees and duties by every foreign ship,

and even for any offences or crimes committed by the ships'

officers or crews. By an Imperial Edict (A.D. 1722 ) they

were also commissioned to levy an import duty on opium,

amounting to 3 taels per picul.

This system was nominally improved upon by the intro-

duction (A.D. 1725 ) of a fixed tariff. Upon this measurė

the Imperial Authorities at Peking had insisted to enable them

better to guage the proper amount of their own share in the

profits of this flourishing foreign trade. Nevertheless, the

publication of the tariff failed to do away with the previous

system of bribery and corruption, as both the Hoppo's officers

and the Co-Hong looked upon the tariff only as the minimum

basis of their own accounts with the Provincial and Imperial

Governments. Consequently they systematically exacted from

the foreign ships as much over and above the tariff charges

as they could possibly screw out of them.


A special tax of 10 per cent . was put on all foreign imports

and exports in the year 1727 , but after making ( A.D. 1728 ) a

strong united appeal to the Throne, in the humblest form of

subject suppliants, the Company's Supercargoes were granted,

on the occasion of the accession of the Emperor Kienlung

(A.D. 1736), exemption from this tax. By this time about

four English ships, two French, one Danish and one Swedish

ship arrived every year to share in the Canton trade. Portuguese

trade was confined to Macao. However, in the year 1754, a

new method of extortion was introduced, by requiring each

ship, on her arrival, to obtain first of all, by special negotiation,

the security of two members of the Co- Hong, before the usual

arrangements concerning measuring fee, cumshaw, linguist's fee,

and customs duties could be entered upon. Up to this time,

the monopoly of the Co-Hong concerned only the disposal of

the cargo and the purchase of exports, but from the year 1755

all dealings of foreigners with small merchants and purveyors

of ships' provisions were strictly prohibited, and especially all

dealings of the ships with native junks and boats, whilst

anchoring outside and . before entering the river, were visited

with severe penalties. Owing to occasional smuggling mal-

practices on the part of natives, countenanced by foreign

skippers, an Imperial Edict prohibited (A.D. 1757) all commercial

transactions with foreign ships, whether outside the Bogue or

at Whampoa, and confined trade strictly to Canton . As this

measure not only tended to hamper trade operations in Canton

waters, but threatened the extinction of the flourishing Amoy

agency, the Committee of Supercargoes sent Mr. Harrison,

together with a very able interpreter, Mr. Flint, to Amoy

(A.D. 1759) to arrange with the local Authorities a continuation

of the Amoy trade on special terms. When these negotiations

failed , Mr. Flint, sharing the opinion of the Supercargoes that

the obnoxious Imperial Edict had been obtained by the Cantonese

Authorities through false representations, proceeded (with

the secret support of the Amoy Authorities) to Tientsin and

succeeded in getting his views, involving serious charges against


the Hoppo and the Cantonese Authorities, brought to the notice

of the Throne. An Imperial Commissioner, authorized to

remove the Hoppo from his post and to abolish all illegal

imposts, was sent to Canton with Mr. Flint to investigate the

charges against the Provincial Authorities. The inevitable result

followed. The Hoppo and the Cantonese Authorities having

made their terms with the Commissioner, Mr. Flint was ordered

to appear in the Viceroy's Yamên to answer a charge of having,

while at Amoy, set at defiance the Imperial Edict of 1757 .

Mr. Flint went, accompanied by all the Supercargoes, but as

soon as they reached the Viceroy's offices, they were set upon

by his underlings, brutally ill-treated, thrown on the ground,

forced to perform the official act of homage (kneeling and

knocking their foreheads on the ground ) called kotow and sent

back with ignominy, with the exception of Mr. Flint. He

was thrown into prison and, as the virtuous Court of Directors

refused to pay the bribe of $ 1,250 which was demanded by his

jailors, he was kept under rigorous confinement at Casa Branca

until November 1762 , when he was released and deported to


The Court of Directors, who had by the action of their

servants hitherto stooped sub rosâ to every form of Chinese

bribery and corruption, and borne every indignity heaped upon

their representatives with equanimity, thought at last, on

hearing of the ill-treatment of their Supercargoes, that the

Chinese were going rather too far. So they sent a special

mission to Canton (A.D. 1760 ) , with a letter to the Viceroy,

protesting against the Co- Hong system and asking for Mr. Flint's

release . But the mission was treated with contempt by the

Manchu Government and failed to have any effect whatever.

By giving however increased secret presents, the Supercargoes

caused things to go on more smoothly, and ten years later

(A.D. 1771 ) the Company's Supercargoes succeeded in purchasing

permission to reside during the winter months (the business

season) at Canton, instead of coming and going with their

respective ships. The ships used to arrive towards the end of


the south-west monsoon ( April to September) and leave again

for Europe with the north-east monsoon (October to March) .

But unless special permission to linger a little longer was

obtained, the Supercargoes, now at last established in separate

factories (allotted to the several nationalities) in Canton, were

annually, at the change of the season, furnished with passports

and warned to be off to Macao. Thence they had, at the end

of summer, to petition for passports again, to enable them to

return to Canton the next season .

At last ( February 13, 1771 ) , the dissolution of the Co-

Hong, which had become the most galling burden of the

time, was gained by the Supercargoes resident at Canton,

a triumph which previously every form of persuasion and

every art of diplomacy had in vain been employed to secure .

But the sum paid for this favour amounted to a hundred

thousand taels, which sum the Authorities accepted , because

the Co - Hong were bankrupt and in arrears with their

contributions due to their respective official superiors.

Nevertheless , this privilege was not enjoyed very long,

for ten years later ( A.D. 1782 ) the previous Co- Hong system

was, under a new name, re-established by the appointment

of twelve (subsequently increased to thirteen) Mandarins,'

who were however simply native brokers, thenceforth known

as Hong merchants. These had, like the former Co - Hong,

the monopoly of the foreign trade, subject to the supervision

of the Hoppo and of the Provincial Authorities, to whom

they were responsible for the payments due by, and for the

personal conduct of, all foreigners . These Hong merchants.

held the same position, and had the same privileges and

responsibilities as the Co-Hong. The only differences were

that they bore another title and that for their previous

solidary responsibility in financial matters was now substituted

a guarantee fund, known as the Consoo (Association or Guild )

fund. But this fund was created at the expense of the

foreign trade, on which thenceforth a special tax was levied

for the purpose. As the East India Company and the merchants


of other nationalities quietly submitted to this change in the

system, trade continued to proceed as before. Thereupon the

Chinese imposed (A.D. 1805 ) a further special tax, like the

modern Li- kin, to provide for the necessities of coast defence

and other warlike preparations against the foreign ships . This

measure was taken by the Chinese because they had observed

that the foreign ships had, owing to the steady increase of

the value of their cargoes, gradually increased their armaments.

Trade, however, continued increasing from year to year.

But soon a hand's breadth of a cloud, destined to develop

into a tempest, arose on the commercial horizon in the shape

of the exportation of bullion ' question and the altered attitude

of foreigners generally. With the gradual increase of the

opium trade, the Chinese observed with dismay that the balance

of trade, though still in favour of China, was steadily diminishing

from year to year as foreign commerce expanded . In the year

1818 a rule was therefore made to restrict the exportation of

silver by any vessel to three-tenths of the excess of imports

over exports by that vessel. The tea trade, indeed, increased

very rapidly, to the great satisfaction of the Chinese officials,

especially since teas began (A.D. 1824) to be shipped direct

from China to the Australian Colonies. But however fast the

export of tea increased. the imports of opium out-stripped

it in the race. Accordingly in the year 1831 the Chinese

Authorities, in their dread of the increasing outflow of silver

from China, imposed upon foreign merchants such severe

additional restrictions, that the Select Committee of the East

India Company's Supercargoes, headed by Mr. H. H. Lindsay,

threatened to suspend all commercial intercourse . Eventually,

however, when matters came to a crisis (May 27 , 1831 ) , the

Select Committee yielded and, in token of their submission,

handed the keys of the British Factory to the Brigadier in

charge of the Provincial Constabulary (Kwong-hip) .

Though victorious for the moment, the Chinese officials

could not help noticing on this occasion more than ever before,

that a considerable change had come over the demeanour of


the foreign merchants. The East India Company's chiefs

seemed to have lost somehow their former control over the

foreign community, and the latter would not submit now, as

formerly, to all the caprices of the Chinese Authorities ; they

were talking now of international and reciprocal responsibilities ,

and murmured seditiously against trade monopolies as commercial


Moreover the restrictions placed on the opium ships ,

from which the Provincial Authorities were reaping their

richest harvests, were persistently evaded by the ships

anchoring at the island of Lintin or in the Kapsingmoon

channel, outside the Bogue, where, with the connivance of

the Authorities, the foreign merchants had established stationary

receiving ships, serving the purpose of floating warehouses.

for all sorts of goods. This measure encouragel a great deal

of smuggling on the part of Chinese private traders, and the

consequent infringement of the official trade monopoly curtailed

the share which the Provincial Authorities had in the

whole trade.

The Chinese officials now saw clearly that a different spirit

had crept in among the foreigners at Canton, that even the

servile attitude of the former East India Company's officers was

rapidly giving way to claims of national self-respect, a most

preposterous thing, as it appeared to the Chinese, on the

part of outer barbarians, and finally that the most intelligent

private merchants freely expressed their conviction that, owing

to the approaching dissolution of the East India Company's

Chinese monopoly, the whole foreign trade with China would

have to be placed on a distinctly international basis by the

year 1834. The Viceroy now perceived and reported to Peking

that a serious crisis was approaching. Accordingly an Imperial

Edict was issued (September 19 , 1832 ) ordering all the

maritime provinces to put their forts and ships of war in

repair in order to scour the seas and driveoff any European

vessels (of war) that might make their appearance on the coast .'

Thus prepared, the Chinese calmly awaited the year 1834,


continuing meanwhile to encourage foreign trade and to levy

on it as many charges, regular and irregular, as it would

bear. What the British Government failed to discern , the

Emperor of China foresaw clearly, viz. that a war was bound

to arise from the denial of China's supremacy ..



A.D. 1625 to 1834.

URING the whole period above reviewed, the relations

‫ فن‬between the Chinese Government and the East India

Company had been conducted on the express understanding,

which for nearly two centuries was tacitly acquiesced in by

the Company, that China claims the sovereignty over all

under heaven ; that trade, whether retail or wholesale, is a

low degrading occupation , fit only for the lower classes beneath

the contempt of the Chinese gentry, literati and officials ;

but that the Emperor of China, as the father of all human

beings, is merciful even to barbarians, and as their existence

seems to depend upon periodical supplies of silk, rhubarb

and tea, the Emperor permits the foreign traders at Canton

to follow their base instincts and allows them to make

money for themselves by this trade, subject to official

surveillance, restrictions and penalties. At the same time,

though permitted to reside at intervals in the suburbs of

Canton, foreigners must not suppose that they are the equals

even of the lowest of the Chinese people ; they must not

presume to enter the city gates under any pretext what-

ever, nor travel inland, nor take into their service any

natives except those belonging to the Pariah caste of the

boat population (known as Ham-shui), forbidden by law to

live on shore or to compete at literary examinations. So

long as the Company's Supercargoes, and other foreign

merchants resorting to Canton , silently accepted the degrading


status thus assigned to them, and tacitly acknowledged the

political supremacy and the Heaven-bestowed jurisdiction of

the Chinese Government, things went on tolerably and trade

continued in spite of all restrictions.

The Chinese were confirmed in this low estimate of

foreign character and culture by the to them singular fact

that, with very rare exceptions, none of those foreigners

seemed able to learn the Chinese language nor even to conceive

any appreciation of Chinese history, philosophy or literature,

besides shewing utter incapacity to comprehend the principles

of Chinese polity, morality and etiquette. Nor did these

barbarians exhibit any symptoms of religions life, so far as

the Chinese could observe, to whom they appeared to have

no soul whatever above dollars and sensual pleasures . The

more the Chinese saw of foreigners, the less they found

themselves able to classify them with other nations like the

Coreans, Japanese, Loochooans, Annamese or Tibetans, all

of whom readily appreciated and adopted Chinese culture and

Chinese forms of religion and etiquette. Hence they could

only characterize the barbarians from Europe or America as

foreign devils .'

The first intimation the Chinese received of a superior

moral power, inherent in the character of foreigners, was

conveyed to them by contact with officers of the British navy.

When the first British man-of-war, the Centaur, arrived in

Chinese waters (November, 1741 ) , the Hoppo's officers pretended

not to understand any difference between a ship of His Majesty,

and an East India Company's trader. They insisted upon

measuring the Centaur, and coolly demanded the usual trade

charges. However, her commander, Commodore Anson , very

quietly and good -naturedly resisted all pretensions and by sheer

force of character, combined with judicious menaces, brushed

all objections aside, and forced his ship without positive hostilities

through the Bogue and up to Whampoa. On arrival there,

he fairly took away the breath of the Chinese officials by

notifying them that he proposed to call in person on the Viceroy


to pay his respects to His Excellency, which was his bounden

duty as the Officer of His Majesty King George II . of Great

Britain and Ireland, and that there must be no breach of

etiquette.' The unparalleled boldness of this typical British

tar was so novel to the Chinese Authorities that it cowed them

completely. The Viceroy admitted the importunate sailor to a

personal interview, treated him to cold tea and ice-cold etiquette,

and not until the Commodore set sail and left Chinese waters

did the Chinese Authorities recover their breath and resume

their former policy of undisguised contempt for all foreigners.

However, on the next occasion (February, 1791 ) , when His

Majesty's Ships Leopard and Thames arrived and desired to

follow the precedent set by Commodore Anson, they found

things changed. The Chinese officials now stubbornly refused

to allow the ships to enter the Bogue and the officers had to

content themselves with a flying personal visit to the port

and suburbs of Canton. Nevertheless the next visitor, Captain

Maxwell, of H. M. S. Alceste (November 12th, 1816 ) , was

determined to follow the example of Commodore Anson. On

arrival at the Bogue, a Chinese officer boarded the Alceste

and informed the Captain that, before proceeding any further,

he must obtain the security of two Hong merchants and

declare the nature of his cargo. The gallant Captain pointed

to his biggest guns as his security and declared the only cargo

carried by a British man-of-war to be powder and shot .

Thereupon the frightened officer beat a hasty retreat and

subsequently sent on board a stern refusal to allow the ship

to enter the Bogue. In reply, Captain Maxwell politely informed

the commanders of the Bogue forts of the exact hour when

he intended to pass through the Bogue, and, after giving them .

ample time to make all their preparations, he gallantly ran

the gauntlet of the Bogue forts, under sail, leisurely returning

the fire of the forts after aiming and firing the first gun with

his own hands. Though becalmed within range of the forts,

he succeeded in pushing his way to Whampoa without serious

casualty on his own side. After anchoring there, Captain


Maxwell resumed his communications with the Chinese officials

with the utmost good nature, and the Chinese Government ,

likewise ignoring what had happened , allowed him to do just

as he pleased until he took his ship away. But no direct official

intercourse was accorded to Captain Maxwell in spite of his


The several Embassies that were sent with autograph letters

from King George III, accompanied by costly presents and much

pomp of showy retinue, had even less effect upon the attitude

which the Tatsing Dynasty assumed towards foreign commerce,

than the servile bribes and presents of the East India Company's

Supercargoes or the periodical demonstrations of British pluck by

His Majesty's naval officers. Lord Macartney's Embassy ( A.D.

1792) , sent forth by George III, with strong complaints and

sanguine expectations, was treated by the Chinese Government as

a deputation of tribute-bearers, like those that periodically

came from the Loochoo Islands. Lord Amherst's Embassy

(A.D. 1815) , vainly expected to result in the establishment

of diplomatic intercourse with Peking, was treated politely but

strictly as a tribute-bearing commission. When Lord Amherst

lingered, hoping to be allowed to remain near the Court, he

was quietly told that it was high time for him to petition for

the issue of his passport and be off. Henceforth the chroniclers

of the Tatsing Dynasty complacently recorded the fact of Great

Britain having been formally admitted to a place in the list

of the nations tributary to China by voluntary submission.

Nevertheless both the bold appearance of British frigates

in Chinese waters and the humble presentation at Court of

British Ambassadors had a certain amount of effect in impressing

the Chinese people with the conviction that Europeans after

all were considerably above the ordinary class of barbarians

known to them.

Special instances of the steadily increasing importance of

the British navy were not wanting. In the years 1802 and

1808 British marines occupied Macao to protect the Portuguese

settlement against a threatened attack by the French. In the


former year the troops were not withdrawn, in spite of irate

protests by the Cantonese Authorities, until peace with France

was restored. In the latter year Admiral Drury withdrew

his men again and abstained from forcing his way up to Canton

in order to please the East India Company's Committee and

to avoid interference with trade. Again, in the year 1814 ,

H.B.M. Frigate Doris cruized in Canton waters to intercept

American ships, and when the Viceroy instructed the Committee

to order her off, the Committee, to the surprise of the Chinese

officials, declared that they had no power whatever in the

matter and were quite willing that trade, as threatened by

the Viceroy, should be stopped. The Committee, moreover, by

adroit management , improved the opportunity so as to obtain

from the frightened Viceroy important concessions, viz. the

right to send Chinese petitions to the Governor of Canton

under seal, to employ native servants without restraint and

to have their dwellings secure from Chinese intrusion .

The gradual development of the British navy not only

impressed the Chinese Authorities but served the purpose of

enabling foreign merchants to take a firmer attitude towards

Chinese pretences of political and judicial supremacy . Foreign

merchants never consented to formally acknowledge their

subjection to Chinese criminal jurisdiction, though they were

often compelled by sheer force to submit to it . But not until

the year 1822 were the Chinese distinctly informed that

foreigners refused on principle to submit to Chinese jurisdiction .

In the year 1750 the French surrendered to the Chinese

Authorities one of their seamen, and again in 1780. In

1784 the English surrendered a gunner who, in firing a salute,

had accidentally killed a native, and they actually submitted

to his being executed by strangling. In 1807 again a British

sailor was surrendered, and though Captain Rolles, of H.M.S.

Lion, obtained his release, a fine of $20 was paid. In 1821 the

Americans surrendered a foreigner (Terranuova) to Chinese

jurisdiction and submitted to his being strangled . But in the

very next year, when two natives were killed in a scuffle with


men of H.M.S. Topaze, the British commander, assisted by

Dr. Morrison as interpreter, made it quite clear that a recognition

of Chinese claims of jurisdiction over British seamen and

particularly over men-of-war's crews was entirely out of the

question . Thenceforth no foreigner was surrendered to a Chinese


In 1831 a curious episode occurred, illustrating the strained

international relations which had gradually arisen. In spring

1831 the Select Committee of the East India Company took

upon itself to enlarge the garden in front of their factory by

reclaiming a narrow strip of foreshore. Soon after, when the

merchants had all retired to Macao for the summer, the

Governor of Canton, resenting the unauthorized reclamation,

came in person to the British factory and ordered the

premises to be forthwith restored to their previous condition .

Meanwhile he walked into the Select Committee's dining room

where a life -size picture, representing George IV. as Prince

Regent, was hanging. On being informed that it was the

portrait of the then reigning King of England, the Governor

took a chair and deliberately sat down with his back turned

to the picture. The Select Committee reported this deliberate

insult to their Directors and the merchants used various means

of making their indignation known to the Chinese officials.

One of their defenders publicly alleged ( September 15, 1831 )

that the Governor disavowed any intentional disrespect and

blamed the Committee for desecrating the picture by exhibiting

it without a curtain of Imperial yellow and for omitting to

place in front of it an altar with frankincense . Lord William

Bentinck, then Governor-General of India, addressed (August

27, 1831 ) a letter to the Governor demanding an explanation ,

but took no further steps when the Governor, whilst refusing

to notice Lord Bentinck's letter, issued (Jaunary 7 , 1832)

an edict denying the imputation . The picture in question

(by Sir T. Lawrence) now graces the dining room of the

Government House of Hongkong, whither it was removed

from Macao in February 1842 .



All these experiences impressed the Chinese Authorities

with the conviction that the claim of extra-territorial jurisdiction

was but a symptom of a deeper seated claim of international

rights, the concession of which would be the deathblow to

China's sovereignty over all the nations of the earth .



COWEVER galling this stolid assertion of self-adequacy

Ho and supremacy, and this persistent exclusivism of the

Chinese Government, must have been to the East India

Company's officers and to the Ambassadors specially com-

missioned to bolster up the position of the East India Company

in China, it must not be forgotten that the East India

Company was, within its own sphere, just as haughty,

domineering and exclusive a potentate, as any Emperor of

China. Private British merchants, scientists, inissionaries, and

even English ladies, had as much reason to complain of the

tyranny of the East India Company's Court of Directors,

as their Supercargoes suffered in their relations with the

Chinese Government. When naturalists or missionaries, entirely

unconnected with trade, desired to pursue their noble avocations

at any port of Asia occupied by the East India Company,

they were either strictly prohibited and ordered off, or

permission was granted in exceptional cases, as a matter of

extraordinary favour, and under galling injunctions and


As to the treatment of foreign ladies, the coincidence

between the policy of the Chinese Government and that of

the East India Company is striking. When the first English-

speaking lady, a Mrs. McClannon who, with her maid, had

been shipwrecked on her way to Sydney and picked up at sea

by the American ship Betsey, arrived at Macao, the Chinese

officials professed themselves shocked . They refused to admit

the ship to trade . What with barbarian merchants residing


on the coast, and what with flying visits by naval officers ,

they said, it was difficult enough for Chinese officials to keep

the foreign trade in order, but that barbarian women should

also enter the hallowed precincts of the Celestial Kingdom

was an outrage of Chinese fundamental principles of propriety

and beyond all endurance . However, as usual, a cumshaw

(bribe) smoothed away the objections, only the Captain of

the Betsey, who so gallantly had rescued the shipwrecked

women, was officially informed that he must never do it

again, and take away the women as soon as possible on pain

of permanent exclusion from the trade. As a parallel to this

Chinese interdiet placed on women, the Court of Directors of

the East India Company renewed ( A.D. 1825 ) a previously

existing stringent order that European females were under no

circumstances to be admitted to Canton. So strict was this

rule, and so engrained did it become in the trading community

of Canton, that the Hongkong successors in the old Canton

trade maintained, until comparatively recent years, the same

principle in the form of restrictions which the leading firms

placed on marriage in the case of their employees.

As regards private traders in Canton, the East India

Company watched, for nearly two centuries, with Argus ' eye

against the violation of their monopoly by adventurous intruders .

No British subject was allowed to land at Canton except under

a passport from the Court of Directors. Nor was any British

ship permitted to participate in the China trade except when

owned or chartered, or furnished with a licence, by the

Company or by the Indian Government. Such licences were

moreover subject to be cancelled at any moment by the

Select Committee at Canton, who had also legal power to

deport any British subject defying their authority. Nevertheless

there were bold spirits who forced their way in. In the year

1780 a Mr. Smith was discovered at Canton trading on his

own account, but was immediately ordered off without mercy.

However, the East India Company's power extended only over

their own nationals, and private traders of other nationalities


openly defied the Company whilst profiting by its presence.

The Portuguese (from Macao) , the Spaniards (from Manila),

and the Dutch (from Formosa) had preceded the East India

Company in the Canton trade, and could not be ousted . Danish

and Swedish merchants (A.D. 1732 ) , French (A.D. 1786 ) ,

Americans (A.D. 1784) and others forced their way in, and

international comity on the one side and Chinese policy on

the other protected them against the interference of the East

India Company.

Soon, moreover, private British merchants also secured

admission to Canton, and openly defied the Company's monopoly

by taking out foreign naturalization papers. Thus , for instance,

Mr. W. S. Davidson, an English merchant, visited Canton in

the year 1807 and subsequently traded in Canton , on his own

account and as agent of English firms, for eleven consecutive

years ( 1811 to 1822 ) , under a Portuguese certificate of

naturalization, which he had obtained without fee in London ,

with the assistance of the British Ambassador to Brazil . Many

others followed the example of Mr. Davidson .

The renewal of the East India Company's charter, in 1813 ,

made no great difference in the conduct of its Chinese trade.

But as the Company was from that date compelled to publish

its commercial accounts separately from its territorial accounts,

British merchants generally became aware of the profitable aspects

of trade with China . Moreover the public press now began to

undermine the Company's monopoly by suggesting on sundry

occasions that trade with the East would be carried on more

profitably by private merchants than by the Company. But

the antagonistic forces of Monopoly and Free Trade, thus evoked,

took years to gather strength for a final struggle.

The earliest pioneer of British free trade in Canton was

Mr. William Jardine, founder of the still flourishing firm of

Jardine, Matheson & Co. , who visited China off and on between

the years 1802 and 1818 , and resided in Canton continuously

from 1820 to January 31 , 1839. Next in time and influence

came W. S. Davidson (referred to above) , R. Inglis of Dent & Co.


(1823 to 1839) and the brothers A. Matheson ( 1826 to 1839)

and J. Matheson (of whom we shall hear more anon) . The

Mathesons exercised particular influence, as so long ago as 1827

they established in Canton a weekly newspaper, the ' Canton

Register,' to disseminate the principles of free trade and to

oppose a prolongation of the East India Company's monopoly.

To this paper Charles Grant referred (some time before 1836)

in the foliowing memorable words : 'The free traders appear

to cherish high notions of their claims and privileges. Under

their auspices a free press is already maintained at Canton ;

and should their commerce continue to increase, their importance

will rise also. They will regard themselves as the depositaries of

the true principles of British commerce.'

During the three or four years that preceded the expiry

of the East India Company's Charter, it was already foreseen

by the free traders, who were staunch advocates of the Reform

Bill of 1881 , that the Company's monopoly was not likely to

be renewed by a Reformed Parliament . The officers of the

Company themselves had the same apprehensions and gradually

relaxed its rules against the admission of private interlopers

at Canton. Happily, before the question of renewing the

Company's Charter had to be decided, the first Reform Bill

swept away those rotten boroughs which would have enabled

the well-organized band of monopolists in the House of Commons,

aided and abetted as they were by the ignorance or indifference

as to all questions of Eastern trade which distinguished the

vast majority of honourable members, to crush the few scattered

advocates of commercial freedom . It was the first Reformed

Parliament that fulfilled the hopes and realized the prophecies

of the British free traders at Canton , stripped the East India

Company of its commercial attributes, delivered the China trade

from the thraldom of monopoly, and thereby paved also the

way for its eventual liberation from the tyranny of Chinese-

mandarindom .

Thus it happened that , even before the final expiration

(A.D. 1834) of the Company's Charter, free trade cheerily


began to rear its head at Canton. A new impetus was thereby

given to British trade, and in the year 1832 as many as

seventy- four British ships arrived at Canton. The little

band of high-spirited, highly-educated and influential private

merchants, that gathered at Canton during the closing years of

the East India Company's monopoly, were, by their very position,

ardent advocates of free trade and determined opponents

of protection and monopoly in every shape or form. Some

of them removed in later years to Hongkong and the spirit

of free trade that filled them descended as a permanent

heirloom to the future merchant princes of Hongkong. If the

experiences of the East India Company negatively paved the

way for the future Colony by demonstrating the irreconcilable

antipathy of the Chinese against any equitable intercourse

with Europeans, and the impossibility of conducting trade on

a basis of international self-respect at Canton, this little band

of free traders, the Jardines, the Mathesons, the Dents, the

Gibbs, the Turners, the Hollidays, the Braines, the Innes ,

unconsciously did for the future Colony of Hongkong what

subsequently Cobden did for Manchester, and prepared the

public mind for future free trade in a free port on British

soil in China.

When, as above mentioned, the Select Committee of the

East India Company at Canton descended to the lowest step

of degradation and handed the keys of the British factory to

the Chinese Constabulary ( May 27 , 1831 ) , the free traders,

filled with righteous wrath, rushed to the front with the first

of those public meetings which, in subsequent years, became

such a characteristic means of venting public indignation in

Hongkong. On May 30, 1831 , this first public meeting of

British subjects in China was held, under the presidency of

William Jardine, and solemnly resolved to remonstrate against

the policy of the Select Committee of yielding to the caprice

of the Native Authorities and to appeal to the home country.'

But the public mind of that dear country was by no means

ripe yet for an unbiassed understanding of the real grievances


and needs of the China trade, and the next advices from

London informed the free traders of Canton (April 31 , 1832) ,

then smarting under a new order of the Hoppo positively

forbidding foreign ships to remain at Lintin (April 11 , 1832),

that general apathy prevailed in England as to the restrictions

and interruptions or hardships of the China trade.

However, the hated monopoly of the East India Company

at Canton finally ceased and determined on April 22 , 1834 ,

and the chagrin felt at the discovery that the East India

Company, though closing its factory at Canton, left behind

a Financial Committee for brokerage purposes, was almost

forgotten in the general rejoicing over the first private British

vessel, the ship Sarah, that openly sailed from Whampoa for

London as the pioneer of the new free trade.

Vaticinations, principally originating with the servants of

the East India Company, were not wanting that under the

Company's regime British trade with China had reached its

zenith and was bound to decline henceforth . It was asserted

in Parliament that China offered no further outlet for British

goods and that, by throwing open the trade to all comers,

things would go from bad to worse. But the free traders

had a better insight into the inner workings of the trade

movement. They confidently predicted a great development

of British trade to set in at once and history verified their


A few of these free traders were even keen enough to

foretell (April, 1834) that the Act of King William IV., by

which he abolished the exclusive rights of the East India

Company, would aid very much in hastening the abolition of

the long cherished exclusive rights of the Celestial Empire.'

All may not have seen this at the time, but all were aware

that a new period in the history of British trade with China

was inaugurated thereby. It required, indeed, no prophet's

vision to foresee that the inherent difficulties of commercial

intercourse with the Chinese were considerably accentuated by

the substitution of free trade for monopoly.


But the spirit which moved the British Parliament to

wrench asunder the shackles in which British trade had been

kept for two long centuries by the East India Company, was

the potent spirit of free trade, and in this general free trade

movement we see above the dark horizon the first streak of

light heralding the advent of the future free port of Hongkong.



EARS before the trade monopoly of the East India Company

was actually dissolved, it was foreseen by both the British

Cabinet and by the Cantonese Authorities, that the substitution

of a heterogeneous and internally dissentient community of

irresponsible free traders for a responsible and conservative

Corporation like the East India Company would bring on a

serious crisis in the relations existing between Great Britain

and China.

When informed, by direction of the British Government,

that the Charter of the East India Company would in all

probability not be renewed, but British trade thrown open to all

subjects of His Majesty, the then Viceroy of Canton (January 16 ,

1831 ) instructed the chief of the factory at Canton to send an

early letter home, stating that, in case of the dissolution of the

Company, it was incumbent to deliberate and appoint a chief-

manager (tai-pan), who understood the business, to come to

Canton for the general control of commercial dealings, by which

means affairs might be prevented from going to confusion, and

benefits secured to commerce.

This was the shrewd suggestion of a Viceroy holding his

office for five years, and, as given informally, not necessarily

binding upon his successor. It embodied, however, a recognized

principle of Chinese policy, viz., that the traders of any given

place must be formed into one or more guilds, each having a

recognized headman who can be held solidarily responsible for the

doings of every member of his guild. All that was here proposed

was, to place British and foreign free traders in Canton under a


tangible and responsible head, having the status of an ordinary

private trader, such as was accorded (A.D. 1699) to Mr. Catchpoole,

but corresponding, on the English side, with the position held, on

the Chinese side, by the head of the Hong Merchants. The

establishment of a Chamber of Commerce, formed by compulsory

membership and controlled by a permanent British president,

would have exhausted the meaning of the Viceroy's suggestion.

What the Viceroy wanted was merely leverage for applying the

screw of official control and exactions whenever desirable.

It is not likely, however, that the British Cabinet acted upon

this informal message of a Canton Viceroy, or at any rate not

without taking pains to ascertain its authoritative character and

real purport. As China had for centuries tolerated and regulated

foreign trade at Canton, the Cabinet may well have proceeded on

the general assumption that British merchants had gained a

status involving, on the part of China and England, reciprocal

responsibilities and rights. At any rate a Bill was laid before

Parliament to regulate the trade to China (and India) and in due

course received the Royal assent on August 28, 1833. This Act

(3rd and 4th Will. IV. ch. 93) , whilst throwing open, from after

April 22, 1834, the trade with China (and the trade in tea) to all

subjects of His Majesty, declared it expedient , for the objects

of trade and amicable intercourse with the Dominions of the

Emperor of China, ' to establish a British Authority in the said

Dominions. Accordingly the Government was authorized by this

Act to send out to China three Superintendents of Trade, one

of whom should preside over a Court of Justice with Criminal

and Admiralty Jurisdiction for the trial of offences committed by

His Majesty's subjects in the said Dominions or on the high sea

within a hundred miles from the coast of China .' The Act

also expressly prohibited the Superintendents, as the King's

Officers, from engaging in any trade or traffic, and authorized

the imposition of a tonnage duty to defray the expenses of their

peace establishment in China. The will of the British nation

thus off-hand decided what for two centuries the Chinese

Government had persistently refused to grant, viz., that British.


subjects in China were entitled to the privileges of extra-

territorial jurisdiction. The Chinese war of 1841 (wrongly

styled the opium war) was the logical consequence of this British

Act of 1833. The passing of this Act is one of the best

illustrations of that superb disregard of consequences abroad

which ever distinguishes British legislators when they try to

meddle in foreign affairs of which they know nothing. "

In pursuance of this Act the Right Honourable William

John Napier, Baron Napier of Merchistoun, Baronet of Nova

Scotia and Captain in the Royal Navy, was selected by Lord

Palmerston to proceed under a Royal Commission to China as

Chief Superintendent of British Trade, and to associate with

himself there, in the Superintendency of Trade, two members

of the East India Company's Select Committee . By a special

Commission under the Royal Signet and Sign Manual (dated

January 26, 1834) , Lord Napier, together with W. H. Ch .

Plowden and J. F. Davis, were appointed Superintendents of

the Trade of British Subjects in China,' empowered to impose

duties on British ships, and directed to station themselves for

the discharge of their duties within the port or river of Canton

and not elsewhere (unless ordered), to collect trade statistics,

to protect the interests of British merchants, to arbitrate or judge

in disputes between British subjects, and to mediate between

them and the Chinese Government. To these orders, distinctly

investing the three Superintendents with extra-territorial, political

and judicial power over British subjects , to be exercised

within the dominions of the Emperor of China and not

elsewhere, there was added the special injunction to abstain

from any appeal (for protection) to British military or naval

forces, unless in any extreme case the most evident necessity

shall require that any such menacing language should be holden

or that any such appeal should be made.'

If we had to believe that both Lord Palmerston and

his chief, Earl Grey, supposed, that the Chinese Government

would concede or silently tolerate the merest shadow of extra-

territorial rights to be exercised by the British Government in


its proposed supervision of British merchants residing within the

Dominions of the Emperor of China, we would have to assume

that these experienced statesmen made an incomprehensible

blunder. It seems much more probable that we have here

one of those many cases which have caused historians to

characterize Lord Palmerston's general policy as an incessant

violation of the principle of non-intervention . There is reason

to suppose that Lord Palmerston, with his keen political

foresight, anticipated the probability that this attempt to

establish quietly a mild form of extra-territorial jurisdiction

would by itself, apart from any existing complications, be

sufficient to provoke hostilities . But he no doubt anticipated

also that in the end English public opinion would support him .

In giving his final instructions to Lord Napier, Lord Palmerston

(January 26 , 1834) enjoined him to foster and protect the

trade of His Majesty's subjects in China, to extend trade if

possible to other ports of China, to induce the Chinese

Government to enter into commercial relations with the English

Government, and to seek, with peculiar caution and circum-

spection, to establish eventually direct diplomatic communication

with the Imperial Court at Peking, also to have the coast of

China surveyed to prevent disasters ." But Lord Palmerston

added to all these peaceful instructions the significant direction,

to inquire for places where British ships might find requisite

protection in the event of hostilities in the China sea .' Surely

we are justified in saying that Lord Palmerston then, as ever

after, was determined that, to use his own words, like the civis

Romanus of old, wherever he be, every British subject should

feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of

England will protect him against injustice and wrong,'—even

in China.

Assuming that the British Government could reasonably

argue, on the ground of their interpretation of the Viceroy's

invitation of 1831 , and on the principle of established reciprocal

responsibilities and rights, that the Chinese Government ought

to be willing, or at any rate should be compelled, to admit


into Canton a foreign Superintendent of British trade and

accord to him an official status ; no fault can be found with

the Royal Instructions supplied to Lord Napier, except that these

instructions associated with him, in the official superintendence

of British trade in China, two former servants of the East

India Company. Clearly it was the expectation of the Cabinet

that Lord Napier should experience at the hands of the Cantonese

Authorities a treatment different from that which the Chinese

Government had, for two centuries, uniformly accorded to the

Supercargoes of the East India Company, Mr. Catchpoole, the

King's Minister or Consul, not excepted. The Cabinet desired

the Chinese Government to dissociate, in mind, Lord Napier

as the King's Officer from mere traders and therefore to accord

to him the privilege of direct official intercourse. But at the

same time the Cabinet associated him, in fact, with men who

for years past had practically been the subordinates of the Hong

Merchants. Mr. Plowden and Mr. Davis, though gentlemen

of the highest character and refined culture, and best fitted

in every respect to advise Lord Napier in his delicate mission,

had in the eyes of the haughty Mandarins merely the status

of peddling traders. It seems that all the lessons which the

history of the East India Company's experiences in China had

taught England, were entirely thrown away upon the British

Cabinet Ministers, whose ignorance of the contempt in which

Chinese officials hold all traders, however worthy or honoured,

defeated the very object of the Royal Instructions.

But then, it would seem as if the Crown Lawyers who

must have advised the Cabinet that the British Crown had

an international right to plant Royal Superintendents at Canton,

invested with political and judicial powers, and to do that without

previous permission obtained from the Chinese Government,

must have had rather peculiar notions of international law.

It must be remembered, however, that the international law

of those days held non-Christian States to be outside the comity

of nations, and distinctly accorded to Christian communities,

residing in non-Christian countries, the right of extra-territorial


jurisdiction. It is possible, also, that there was, on the part

of the Crown Lawyers and the Cabinet, no assumption of any

positive right to establish a British Superintendent at Canton.

Lord Palmerston specially enjoined upon Lord Napier, that

in case of putting to hazard the existing opportunities of

intercourse, ' he was not to enter into any negotiations with

the Chinese Authorities at all. These words, together with

the subsequent condemnation of Lord Napier's action by the

Duke of Wellington , who gave it as his opinion that Lord

Napier ought to have been satisfied to keep the enjoyment.

of what we have got,' suggest the surmise that the British

Cabinet did not mean forcibly to claim any right of stationing

a British official at Canton or of exercising any extra-territorial

jurisdiction over British subjects within the Dominions of the

Emperor of China, but that their policy was merely to take

the Chinese Government by surprise, to try it on , so to say, in

Chinese fashion, to see how far the Chinese Authorities would

yield ; but, in case of failure, rather to be satisfied with what

the Chinese were willing to concede, than to demand what could

be obtained only by an appeal to force.

If such, however, was the intention of the British Cabinet,

it was a kind of diplomacy unworthy of England, and moreover

foolish, because such a continuation of the mistaken policy

which the East India Company's Court of Directors had

followed for two centuries, was, under the altered circumstances,

impossible. A community of independent British free traders,

knowing that Parliament had conceded to them the privilege

of extra-territorial jurisdiction, was not likely to remain content

with the enjoyment of what they had got, if that enjoyment

was to be coupled with the continuance of the old regime,

galling to personal and national self- respect.

Moreover, if such was the real policy of the British

Government, it was unfair to Lord Napier to keep him in

the dark. For he evidently had no notion of it, until perhaps

at the very last moment, when he resolved to retreat from

Canton . Possibly it was then that his eyes were opened to


the strategies of the Cabinet, and, if so, it was this discovery,

rather than the ignominious treatment he encountered at the

hands of the Chinese, that broke his heart.

It seems very probable that, whatever the real aim of

the British Government may have been, the Cabinet had been

acting under the advice of the Directors of the East India

Company, and if so , this was sufficient to ruin Lord Napier

and his mission.

Immediately on his arrival at Macao ( 88 miles South

of Canton) , on July 15 , 1834, Lord Napier, finding that

Mr. Plowden had meanwhile left China, appointed Mr. (sub-

sequently Sir) John F. Davis to be second, and Sir G. Best

Robinson (another member of the East India Company's Select

Committee) to be third Superintendent of British Trade in

China. The three Superintendents then made the following

appointments, viz ., Mr. J. W. Astell to be Secretary to

the Superintendents, the Rev. Dr. Robert Morrison (who-

unfortunately died a few weeks afterwards, when he was

succeeded by Mr. J. R. Morrison) to be Chinese Secretary

and Interpreter, Captain Ch . Elliot, R.N., to be Master

Attendant (in charge of all British ships and crews within the

Bogue) , Dr. T. R. Colledge to be Surgeon, Dr. Anderson to

be Assistant Surgeon, and the Rev. J. H. Vachell to be

Chaplain to the Superintendents. Finally Mr. A. R. Johnston

was appointed to be Private Secretary to Lord Napier. The

Commission, after some interviews with messengers of the

Viceroy, soon proceeded (July 25 , 1834) , without waiting for

a passport, to Canton. On the very day of his arrival, however,

Lord Napier was at once subjected by the Chinese Authorities

to unprovoked insults, in the treatment of his baggage and

his servants, and the Customs tide-waiters officially reported

that some foreign devils ' had arrived . To these indignities.

Lord Napier quietly submitted. But he endeavoured , without

loss of time, to open direct official communication , first with

the Viceroy and then with the Governor of Canton . His

object was merely to inform the Provincial Authorities, in


pursuance of his instructions, that he had arrived bearing the

King's Commission and invested with political and judicial

powers for the control of British subjects in China. But this

information was couched in terms characteristic of a dispatch

or official communication, and implying that the writer had

an official status. By accepting the letter, the Chinese

Government would have recognized Lord Napier as having

such a status in China. Accordingly reception of the letter

was peremptorily refused. The Viceroy, after sending Lord

Napier word (through the Hong Merchants) that he could

hold no communication with outside barbarians,' authorized

the Prefect of Canton , the Prefect of Swatow, and the Deputy

Lieutenant-General in command at Canton to go , together

with the Hong Merchants, and interview Lord Napier in order

to ascertain what he really wanted. This interview took place

on August 23, 1834, and ended with the sage remark of the

gallant Lieutenant-General, that it would be very unpleasant

were the two nations to come to a rupture,' to which Lord

Napier made the significant reply that England was perfectly

prepared . The Hong Merchants offered to deliver the letter

to the Governor of Canton, on condition that it should be

rewritten in form of a humble petition, having on the outside

a certain Chinese character (pien) which marks an application

made by one of the common people ( not having literary or

official rank) to a Chinese official from a Magistrate upwards.

But one of the Hong Merchants used the opportunity to

heap a gratuitous insult upon Lord Napier. Addressing him

in writing, he used characters which designated Lord Napier,

by a pun, as the laboriously vile.'

Lord Napier's argument that a former Viceroy had by edict

invited the British Government , in 1831 , to send a chief to

Canton to supervise trade, was met on the part of the Chinese

Authorities by a denial of the meaning which Lord Napier

attached to that invitation . They pointed out that in several

proclamations issued by the Governor of Canton (August 18

and September 2 , 1834) , it was distinctly stated, that the



commissioned officers of the Celestial Empire never take

cognizance of the trivial affairs of trade, ' that never has there

been such a thing as official correspondence with a barbarian

headman, that the English nation's King has hitherto been

reverently obedient, ' that in the intercourse of merchants

mutual willingness is necessary on both sides, wherefore there

can be no overruling control exercised by officers,' and finally

' how can the officers of the Celestial Empire hold official

correspondence with barbarians ?'

Whilst declining to adopt the form of a petition, Lord

Napier adopted a suggestion of the Hong Merchants to substitute

another designation of the Governor of Canton , but otherwise

Lord Napier's official message was left unaltered, in the form

of a dispatch. But no messenger could be found to deliver it.

So Mr. Astell, accompanied by the interpreters, proceeded with

the latter to the city gates, where the party were detained for

hours and subjected to every possible indignity. Various

officials came, but one and all refused to deliver the letter to

its address, unless it was couched in the form of a petition. It

seemed to the Chinese preposterous that a barbarian official

should claim an official status in China. It was with them not

merely a question of etiquette and form of address, such as was

subsequently settled by a special provision of the Treaty of

Nanking, but it was a plain question of polity. The Chinese

officials claimed supremacy over all barbarians, whether traders

or officers, and the form of this letter was a deliberate denial

of it. The one word ' petition ' (pien) was now made the test

of British submission to China's claim of supremacy.

Lord Napier continued firm in his refusal to ' petition ' the

Viceroy, nor would he accept the renewed offer of the Hong

Merchants to act as his intermediaries in his communications

with the Chinese Government . He remained in Canton , although

the Hong Merchants had informed him that the Provincial

Authorities would not receive any message from him, unless it

was sent through the channel which had been constituted by

Imperial Authority, and brought him an order by the Governor


of Canton, dated August 18, 1834, directing him to leave

Canton at once. Thereupon the Chinese Authorities resolved

to drive him away by applying, to begin with, indirect force.

A proclamation was issued calling upon the people to stop all

intercourse with the British factory. The supply of provisions

to British merchants was strictly prohibited and all Chinese

servants were ordered to leave them forthwith. Next, the Hong

Merchants were ordered to stop shipping cargo by any British

vessel and to make an effort to induce the several British

merchants to disown the assumed authority of Lord Napier

and the other Superintendents and to declare their willingness

to obey the orders of the Chinese Authorities, which would

be conveyed to them, as formerly, by the Hong Merchants.

Foreseeing the danger of dissension, Lord Napier had

called (August 16, 1834) a public meeting of British merchants,

warned them against the intrigues of Hong Merchants and

suggested the formation of a British Chamber of Commerce,

to ensure joint action and to provide a medium of communication

between the merchants and the Superintendents. This suggestion

was now adopted and (August 25 , 1834) a British Chamber

of Commerce was formed by the following firms, viz ., Jardine,

Matheson & Co. , R. Turner & Co. , J. McAdam Gladstone, J.

Innes, A. S. Keating, N. Crooke, J. Templeton & Co. , J. Watson,

Douglas, Mackenzie & Co. , T. Fox, and John Slade (Editor

of the Canton Register). The Committee of this first British

Chamber of Commerce in China were J. Matheson, L. Dent,

R. Turner, W. Boyd, and Dadabhoy Rustomjee.

When the Chinese Authorities found that the British

merchants rejected all temptations offered to them individually

through the Hong Merchants, and that the whole British

community unanimously supported Lord Napier's pretensions,

stronger measures were taken. Trade with British merchants

and communication with Whampoa was now (September 2, 1834)

stopped and the factories were surrounded by a cordon of Chinese

soldiers . British merchants were informed that they were allowed

to depart by way of Whampoa for Macao, but none would be


allowed to return . Some Chinese compradors and shop-keepers,

who had secretly supplied the British factories with provisions,

were arrested and the British community found themselves in

danger of being starved out. Seeing the critical position of

affairs, Lord Napier, in the absence (at Macao) of the other

two Superintendents, consulted the Committee of the Chamber

of Commerce, and at their request dispatched an order for two

frigates to come up to Whampoa and thence to send up a

guard of marines for the protection of His Majesty's subjects.

Accordingly H.M. Ships Imogene and Andromache sailed through

the Bogue ( September 5 , 1834 ) under a rattling fire of the

forts, to which they gallantly replied, silencing one battery

after the other, until they reached Whampoa (September 11 ,

1834 ) . A guard of marines also succeeded in forcing their way

into the British factories.

Naturally enough, the Chinese now, instead of continuing

hostilities, blandly recommenced negotiations through the Hong

Merchants. The Provincial Authorities offered to resume trade

with British merchants at Canton, on condition that the two

frigates should leave the river and that Lord Napier should

retire to Macao until the pleasure of His Majesty the Emperor

of all under Heaven was known .' Recognizing now the official

status of Lord Napier, they urged with some emphasis that

it was a thing hitherto unknown for a barbarian official to

reside at Canton .' But there was no room left to doubt the

sincerity of the Chinese Authorities, both in their expressed

willingness to resume trade and in their indignation at the

attempt of the British Cabinet to establish extra-territorial

jurisdiction without the previous consent of the Chinese


Lord Napier turned again to his instructions, and now,

perhaps, his eyes were opened as to the policy concealed under

Lord Palmerston's words concerning the case of putting to

hazard the existing opportunities of intercourse .' Sick in body

and mind, separated from the other two Superintendents, Lord

Napier now broke down completely and instructed his surgeon ,


Dr. Colledge, to make in his name what terms he could with

the Chinese Authorities.

Accordingly Dr. Colledge wrote (September 18 , 1834) to

the Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, informing him that-

he had been authorized by Lord Napier to make the requisite

arrangements with the Hong Merchants.' A meeting was

arranged, Dr. Colledge and Mr. Jardine representing Lord Napier

and the British community, whilst two Hong Merchants , Howqua

and Mowqua, acted on behalf of the Chinese Authorities. Two

contradictory statements of what took place at this meeting

exist, and although there can be no doubt but that Dr. Colledge's

account of the transaction is correct, the official report which

the Hong Merchants made of this interview deserves some

consideration as characteristic of the misunderstandings or

misinterpretations which in subsequent years attached to all

similar negotiations between Europeans and Chinese.

The words which Dr. Colledge used were these : I, T.

P. Colledge, engage on the part of the Chief Superintendent,

the Right Honourable Lord Napier, that His Lordship does

grant an order for His Majesty's Ships at Whampoa to sail

to Lintin, on my receiving a chop (stamped passport) , from the

Governor for His Lordship and suite to proceed to Macao,

Lord Napier's ill state of health not permitting him to correspond

with your Authorities longer on this subject . One condition

I deem it expedient to impose, which is, that His Majesty's

Ships do not submit to any ostentatious display ' on the part

of your Government .' Howqua replied : Mr. Colledge, your

proposition is one of the most serious nature, and from my

knowledge of your character I doubt not the honesty of it.

Shake hands with me and Mowqua, and let Mr. Jardine do

the same.'

The Chinese official account of this meeting is as follows :

The Hong Merchants, Woo Tun-yuen and others (Howqua

and Mowqua) reported (to the Governor of Canton and his

colleagues) that the said nation's private merchants, Colledge

and others, had stated to them that Lord Napier acknowledged


that, because it was his first entrance into the Central Kingdom,

he was ignorant of the prohibitions, and therefore he obtained

no permit ; that the ships of war were really for the purpose

of protecting goods and entered the Bogue by mistake ; that

now he (Lord Napier) was himself aware of his error and

begged to be graciously permitted to go down to Macao, and

that the ships should immediately go out (of the Central

Kingdom), and he therefore begged permission for them to

leave the port.'

The informality of the proceedings naturally opened the

door for a variety of versions as to what actually transpired .

But the omission , on the part of Dr. Colledge, of any stipulation

as to the resumption of trade consequent on the departure of

Lord Napier and of the ships of war, indicates that , while

determined to save the life of Lord Napier at any cost, he had

reason to trust in the determination of the Chinese Government

not to forego the profits of the British trade so long as their

own exclusive supremacy was maintained .

Lord Napier received his passport and started (September 21 ,

1834) for Macao, after giving an order to the commanders of

H.M. Ships Imogene and Andromache to retire beyond the

Bogue. Lord Napier desired to travel in his own boat, but the

Chinese insisted upon conveying him to Macao themselves,

escorted him like a prisoner, did everything on the way to

annoy him by the noise of gongs, crackers and firing salutes,

which the Mandarins in charge of the escort persisted in,

although Lord Napier repeatedly remonstrated against it, and

they protracted the voyage, which need not have taken more

than twenty-four hours, so as to last five days. By the time

Lord Napier reached Macao ( September 26 , 1834) , he was beyond

recovery and died a fortnight later (October 11 , 1834) , worn

out with the harassing and distressing annoyances which he

experienced at the hands of the Chinese Authorities, as well

as by the unnecessary delay interposed on his passage down

to Macao, and especially also by the consciousness, that appears

to have come over him at the last, that he had been placed


in a false position by the ignorance of the Cabinet as to the

real attitude preserved by the Chinese Government all along,

and by the obscurity in which the Orders in Council and the

instructions of Lord Palmerston enveloped the real policy of

the British Government. Lord Napier died, like Admiral

Hosier, of a grieved and broken heart .'

As soon as the Cantonese Authorities learned that the

frigates had left the river and that Lord Napier had reached

Macao, they reported to the Emperor that Napier had been

driven out and his two ships of war dragged over the shallows

and expelled,' but they eagerly resumed commercial intercourse

with the British merchants (September 29 , 1834 ) , placing them,

however, under fresh restrictions. They expressly stipulated

that henceforth no barbarian official should presume to come

to Canton but only persons holding the position of tai-pan (the

vulgar term for the East India Company's Chief-Supercargoes) ,

and that all commercial transactions should be strictly confined

to dealings with the Hong Merchants. Moreover, they published

now (November 7 , 1834) an Imperial Edict prohibiting the

opium trade.

Thus ended the melancholy mission of Lord Napier. Its

failure is clearly not due to any want of diplomatic tact or

courage on the part of Lord Napier, but to the clashing of

Chinese and British interests. Nor can we blame the Chinese

Authorities, who, accustomed by the policy of abject servility,

maintained by the East India Company for two consecutive

centuries, to deal with Europeans willing to forego for the

sake of trade all claims of national and personal self-respect,

were entirely taken by surprise when they suddenly encountered,

on the part of the British Government, the identical notions of

national self-adequacy and political supremacy which had hitherto

been the undisputed monopoly of the Chinese Government.

The crowning misfortune of Lord Napier was that by the time

(end of November) when the first news of the disastrous ending

of his mission reached England, the administration of Lord

Melbourne (who had taken Earl Grey's place in July) had come


to an end (November 14) , that Lord Palmerston was therefore

out of office and the Duke of Wellington at the helm of affairs.

But the worst feature of this whole melancholy spectacle

is the stolid apathy with which the English public received the

news of the failure of Lord Napier's mission and the heartless

cruelty with which the Duke of Wellington condemned Lord

Napier's conduct . The silent acquiescence of the British public

in the expulsion from Canton, in so degrading a manner, of

the principal officer of their King and their country, lowered

British reputation in the eyes of the Chinese and contributed

to encourage them to venture upon future outrages . As to

the Duke, he never had much respect for Lord Palmerston's

or anybody's statecraft. With a belief in his own shrewd

intuition of the right thing to be done at any critical moment ,

he combined a somewhat brusque manner of criticising supposed

diplomatic blunderers. He looked upon this whole scheme

of the fallen Whig leaders as a bungle from the beginning to

the end and judged it , exactly as he judged the Cabul disasters

eight years later, as a case of giving undue power to political

agents. The series of insults heaped upon Lord Napier, while

alive, by the Chinese Authorities, was kindness compared with

the cruel injustice with which the Duke of Wellington censured

Lord Napier when dead. The man whose puissant arm could

bind the tyrant of a world ' proved childishly impotent in

his encounter with Chinese mandarindom. The hero who,

conquering Fate, enfranchised Europe, ' entirely missed his

opportunity of becoming also the liberator of European trade

in Asia. The noble Duke entirely forgot himself when he gave

it as his opinion ( March 24 , 1835) that Lord Napier had brought

about the failure of his mission by assuming high-sounding

titles, by going to Canton without permission, and by attempting

an unusual mode of communication . Understanding that British

trade in China was flourishing again, in spite of the defeat

Lord Napier had sustained at Canton, the Duke recommended

to keep the enjoyment of what we have got and to repress the

ardour of British traders.


The British Government, having first disregarded the

lessons afforded by the experiences of the East India Company,

now misinterpreted the lessons to be derived from Lord Napier's

fate. Clearly, the time for a British Colony in China had

not come yet. Hongkong had to wait yet a little longer.

Another and sharper lesson was needed .



A.D. 1834 to 1836.

THE expulsion of Lord Napier and the indignities deliberately


heaped upon him (in 1834) were but the premonitory

symptoms of a thunderstorm of Chinese Imperial, official and

popular wrath, which was to burst over the heads of the British

community at Canton five years later (in 1839) . For the

present, this precursory brief disturbance of the peace was

succeeded by a temporary lull. During this interval, however,

internal dissensions sprang up among all the parties concerned,

in the British Cabinet, among the Superintendents who succeeded

Lord Napier, among the British merchants and among the


Mr. J. F. Davis (later on better known as Sir John Davis,

Sinologue and Governor of Hongkong) succeeded to the post

of Chief Superintendent of British trade in China (October

12 , 1834) , Sir George B. Robinson acting as Second and

Mr. J. H. Astell as Third Superintendent. When announcing

to Lord Palmerston the changes that had taken place, Mr. Davis

declared that an unbecoming and premature act of submission

to the Chinese Authorities would not only prove fruitless but

mischievous, and that therefore ' absolute silence and quiescence

seemed to him the most eligible policy to pursue, until receipt

of instructions from the Cabinet.

But the British Cabinet was not in a position, for years

to come, to form any definite policy with regard to China.

Lord Palmerston was temporarily (November 14, 1834, to April

10, 1835) out of office and when the Whig leaders resumed the

reins of the Government (April 10, 1835 , to September 16, 1841 ),


they felt the ground under their feet too unstable to risk their

existence by adopting a definite policy with regard to China.

The Duke of Wellington personally adopted the views of the

Chinese officials and did not shrink from applying them to the

past, in condemning Lord Napier's action, or to the future in

approving of Mr. Davis' proposed policy of inaction. As to

the British public, it took the attitude of stolid apathy, caring

nothing for these things, so long as the supply of tea and silk

was forthcoming at the usual prices. Accordingly, when

Mr. Davis, fearing lest he be left without any instructions,

forwarded positive suggestions, they were, though good enough

to be taken up and acted upon in subsequent years, quietly

shelved for a good while by the Government.

Mr. Davis recommended (October 24 and 28, 1834) not

to send out another cumbrous and expensive Embassy, but to

appeal to the Emperor of China by means of a dispatch to be

delivered by a small fleet at the mouth of the Peking River

(Peiho), and, if such an appeal should fail, as he expected it

would , to use then measures of coercion. Mr. Davis recommended

this course on the ground that the Imperial Government of

China sincerely desired to ameliorate the condition of British

merchants, but that the Cantonese Authorities, by their mis-

representations, kept the Emperor in the dark as to the real

position of affairs. Mr. Davis, at the same time, stated that

the Mandarins at Canton were anxious to keep the control of

British merchants in the hands of the Hong Merchants,

because this system enabled them to lighten their own respon-

sibilities and to practise their heavy exactions on the trade with

greater impunity.

In these views Mr. Davis was cordially supported by the

whole British community of Canton and Macao, who forwarded

(December 9, 1834) a petition signed by sixty-four British

subjects and addressed to the King's Most Excellent Majesty

in Council. Their unanimous opinion was that the long

acquiescence in the arrogant assumption of superiority over the

monarchs and people of other countries, claimed by the Emperor


of China, had caused the disabilities and restrictions which

had been imposed on British trade in China, and that Lord

Napier's not having the requisite powers, properly sustained by

an armed force, had put British merchants in their present

degraded and insecure position. Accordingly they suggested to the

King in Council, that a determined maintenance of the rank of

the British Empire in the scale of nations was the proper policy

to adopt, and they recommended the plan which was actually

carried out seven years later in the so-called opium war, viz . , that

a Plenipotentiary, with an armed force, proceed to a convenient

station on the east coast of China and demand of the Emperor

ample reparation for the insults offered to Lord Napier, to

the King and to his subjects, and to propose the appointment

of Imperial Commissioners to arrange with the British

Plenipotentiary a basis for regulating British trade, so as to

prevent future troubles, and to extend trade to Amoy, Ningpo

and Chusan .

The fact that at the close of the year 1834 ample reasons

existed for making this demand and for taking this action,

which without coercive measures was impossible, is important.

Equally important is the other fact that the subsequent war

of 1841 did no more than what was needed and demanded in

the year 1834. For these facts show that the subsequent

expulsion of the British community from Canton (in 1839 )

and the whole opium question, as connected with the war

of 1841 , were merely accidental accessories to the fact already

patent in the year 1834 to every resident in China, the foreign

merchants and the British Superintendents, that the necessities of

British trade, combined with British national and individual

self-respect, were so irreconcilable with Chinese contempt of

trade and Chinese notions of supremacy and autocracy, as to

make war between Great Britain and China an absolute

necessity. In no other way could the Chinese Authorities be

induced to make reasonable concessions to the merchants ,

whom they had themselves invited and whom they desired

to continue their commerce with China. Nothing short of


an armed demonstration of force could induce the Chinese

Mandarins to grant foreign trade a dignified modus vivendi.

War with China was, at the close of the year 1834, a mere

question of time. Strictly speaking it was simply a question

of arousing public opinion in England to a recognition of the

actual necessities of the case. But it took years to accomplish

this, and meanwhile affairs in China were in a state of transition,

which made the position of the British merchants and their

Superintendents extremely awkward .

British merchants in Canton, at Macao and at the anchorage

of Lintin, were nominally under the control of the British

Superintendents. But the Chinese Authorities persistently

protested against their claim of an official status, and the

British Cabinet left their political authority unsupported and

their jurisdiction over British subjects undefined . Moreover

it was asserted by many British merchants that their own

Government had broken faith with them in the matter of

the dissolution of the East India Company's trade monopoly.

For the Government had by Act of Parliament thrown open

the trade with China and thereby invited them to operate at

Canton, and yet the Government appeared to tolerate and

sanction a survival in Canton of the East India Company's

trade monopoly in the form of a Financial Committee of bill

brokers who, with the resources of the Indian revenues at their

command, hampered, and domineered over, the commercial

operations of British free traders. This yoke was the more

chafing, because the Chinese Authorities increased their exactions

on British trade almost from month to month, ever since the

East India Company's charter had ceased .

Consequently, headed by Jardine, Matheson & Co. , R.

Turner & Co. , J. Innes, J. McAdam Gladstone, A. S. Keating,

J. Watson, N. Crooke, W. S. Boyd, J. Templeton & Co. , and

Andrew Johnstone, the British Chamber of Commerce at Canton

protested against the continuance in China of any part of the

East India Company's factory, even for the purpose of selling

bills on India and purchasing bills on England, by making


advances on the goods and merchandise of individuals intended

for consignment to England. They pleaded that this practice

was an infringement of the Act of Parliament which required

the East India Company to abstain from all commercial business ;

that it raised the prices of Chinese produce ; that it encouraged

improvident speculation ; that it shut out British mercantile

capital through occupying the field with the revenues of India ;

and that it formed, through an understanding with the Hong

Merchants, a close monopoly of the most desirable teas.

Meanwhile the Chinese Authorities continued their previous

tactics . They had not the slightest wish to kill the goose

which laid the golden eggs ; only the goose must have no

aspirations above a goose and remain in their own exclusive

grasp. As soon as they heard of Lord Napier's arrival in

Macao, they re-opened trade (September 29 , 1834) and rescinded

the prohibition against pilots bringing foreign vessels up to

Whampoa. Trade forthwith re-commenced and proceeded as

briskly as ever, both at Canton and at Lintin. But the

Cantonese Authorities and the Hong Merchants scrupulously

avoided recognizing the British Superintendents as having any

official status whatever, whilst they used every possible means ,

fair and foul, to persuade individual British merchants to

disavow the authority and jurisdiction of the Superintendents.

They even attempted to induce the Chamber of Commerce to

nominate a trading tai-pan ' (a Chief- Supercago) to be officially

recognized by the Chinese Government as responsible for the

personal conduct and for the commercial transactions of every

foreign merchant, and especially also for the Lintin opium

trade. To the invitation to nominate a trading tai -pan , specially

ordered by the Governor (October 19 and 20 , 1834) , the British

merchants, having been particularly warned by the Secretary

to the Superintendents to remain loyal ( November 10, 1834) ,

replied in a body, that no authority of the kind could be held by

any British merchant without the authority of the British Crown .

Nevertheless the British community did not disguise to the

Superintendents that, if the suggestions they had both made


to the British Government were disregarded, the mercantile

community would have no faith whatever in the quiescent policy

of the Superintendents, and that, unrecognized as the Commission

remained in relation to the Chinese Authorities and unable to

assert their claims to political and judicial authority, they

ought not to expect the British mercantile community to look

to them for guidance, direction or protection . One of the

merchants, Mr. Keating, having a petty dispute with the firm

of Turner & Co. concerning a claim of three hundred dollars,

preferred against him by that firm, went so far as to deny

the jurisdiction of the Superintendents altogether, on the ground

of the undefined character of their functions and of their want

of power to enforce their decisions. On the same grounds

Mr. Innes, another British merchant, when wronged by the

Chinese, deliberately threatened the Superintendents with taking

the law into his own hands and making independently reprisals

upon the natives.

Whilst these and similar disputes divided the foreign

merchants and their Superintendents, the Chinese Authorities

and the Hong Merchants were not in any more amicable

relations. The Hong Merchants were severely censured by their

superiors for having failed to bring the foreign merchants under

a responsible foreign head and for the consequent failure of

any means of inducing them to stop the trade carried on at

Lintin by the opium receiving- ships. Moreover, free trade

principles began to assert themselves on the Chinese side. The

Hong Merchants' own monopoly began to crumble down . For

some time past the Senior Hong Merchant, who alone was

solvent, had virtually been acting as the sole holder of the

monopoly, but lately the other Hong Merchants, tempted by

their indebtedness to the foreign merchants and to the Mandarins,

had taken to the practice of sub-letting some of their privileges

to private Chinese traders and shopkeepers, to whom they

individually issued licences to deal in foreign goods under the

names of the respective Hong Merchants. In this way it had

come to pass that the neighbourhood of the factories at Canton


was gradually surrounded by a colony of Chinese free traders.

and shopkeepers. At the sight of this inroad of free trade

principles, the Mandarins waxed wroth and a series of fulminating

edicts went forth against the Hong Merchants and the


Such was the state of affairs in January 1835 , when

Mr. Davis, seeing himself unrecognized , powerless and without

prospect of an early change of policy, prudently vacated his

post as Chief Superintendent and returned to England (January

21 , 1835) . Sir George Best Robinson now assumed office as

the Head of the King's Commission , declaring his intention

to follow the quiescent line of policy initiated by Mr. Davis.

Mr. J. F. Astell acted as Second and Captain Ch . Elliot ,

R.N., as Third Superintendent, but when Mr. Astell resigned

soon after (April 1 , 1835). Captain Elliot succeeded to the

post of Second and Mr. A. R. Johnston to that of Third

Superintendent, whilst Mr. E. Elmslie acted as Secretary and


Dissensions now multiplied on all sides. Sir George

Robinson conceived an insuperable antipathy against the British

free traders whom he falsely represented to the Foreign Office

as having caused Lord Napier's failure by their bitter party

strife, as being possessed of an anxious wish, aiding and

abetting therein the Chinese Authorities, to avoid any reference

to the Superintendents, and as divided among themselves by

virulent dissensions to a fearful extent. Sir George was,

however, equally at variance with his colleagues in the

Commission. He differed from the other two Superintendents

on matters of policy, so much so, that he not only separated

from them, leaving them at Macao or Canton while he

established himself (November 2 , 1835 ) , with the Secretary

and the archives of the Commission, on board the cutter

Louisa at Lintin , but wrote from thence to Lord Palmerston

(January 29 , 1836) recommending to reduce the Commission

to one member 6 because disunion and opposition inevitably

results from the existence of a Council or Board of three.'


At Lintin Sir George remained enthroned in the very

centre of the hated opium traffic, which the other Superintendents

equally loathed as a source of disgrace and danger. Sir George,

though residing in the midst of the opium dealers, was no

admirer of the opium trade. On the contrary, he expressly

applied to Lord Palmerston for orders to authorize him to

prevent British vessels engaging in this traffic. Sir George

fondly imagined then that he would be able to enforce such

orders. But the opium consumption had by this time already

assumed such dimensions and gained such popularity on the

Chinese side, that no power on earth, whether British or

Chinese, could have stopped either the demand by the Chinese

people or the supply by the foreign shipping. Very properly,

therefore, Sir George further advised Lord Palmerston (February

5 , 1836 ) that a more certain method would be to prohibit

the growth of the poppy and manufacture of opium in

British India.'

Throughout his tenure of the office of Chief Superintendent

(January 22 , 1835 , to December 14 , 1836 ) , Sir George

B. Robinson had no communication with the Hong Merchants

nor with the Cantonese Authorities, who rigidly adhered to

their determination not to recognize the presence of any

foreign official. When the crew of the Argyle were seized on

the Chinese coast and detained (January 25, 1835 ) , Captain

Elliot went to Canton (February 4, 1835 ) and demanded their

liberation. He was curtly ordered to leave Canton, but the

crew was set at liberty (February 18, 1845 ) . On February

23, 1835, the Canton officials made a public demonstration of

their determination to carry out the Imperial edict (of

November 7 , 1834) and , having seized some chests of opium,

burned them in public. In private, however, they continued

to connive at and to foster the opium trade, and commerce

continued quietly throughout the year. In autumn (October

16, 1835) Sir G. B. Robinson wrote to the Duke of Wellington ,

to whom he looked as his patron rather than to Lord Palmerston,

that he had never in the slighest degree perceived any disposition



on the part of the Chinese Authorities to enter into any

communication, or even to permit any intercourse with the

officers of this Commission and that Elliot's attempts to open

up communication with them had only involved him in

additional contumely and insult, thereby greatly impeding

the prospective adjustment of existing difficulties. The words

which the Duke of Wellington penned (March 24 , 1835)

in condemnation of Lord Napier's mission, he (the Chief

Superintendent) must not go to Canton without permission,

he must not depart from the accustomed channel of com-

munication, but he must have great powers to enable him to

control and keep in order the King's subjects (the free

traders) , and there must always be within the Consul- General's

reach a stout frigate and a smaller vessel of war,' seemed to

be always ringing in Sir George's ears and formed the keynote

of what he loved to call his perfectly quiescent policy.' He

regarded himself as a Consul-General, unaccredited indeed to

the Chinese Government, but specially commissioned to keep

the free traders in order where they most needed it, at Lintin .

There he remained, out of touch with the leaders of the

legitimate trade at Canton and Macao, unrecognized by the

Chinese Authorities and separated from his own colleagues in

the Commission who desired to follow an active policy. Until .

the close of the year 1836 , Sir George practically did nothing

except signing ships' manifests and port clearances and writing

dispatches to Lord Palmerston, in which he triumphantly

reported from time to time that trade continued to flourish

without disturbance, thanks to his own perfectly quiescent

line of policy, and persistently dinning into the Minister's

ears that he was waiting for His Lordship's positive and

definite instructions as to future measures.'

In one point, however, Sir George went beyond the lines of

the Duke of Wellington's policy. He was constantly on the

look-out for a place where British trade might be conducted

without being shackled with the extortions and impositions of

the Mandarins, and where the Chief- Superintendent might be


beyond the dissensions and virulent party strife of the Canton

free traders. At first he thought only of a passive demonstration

(April 13, 1835) to be made, against the Canton Authorities,

by a temporary removal of all British subjects to merchant ships

to be stationed in some of the beautiful harbours in the

neighbourhood of Lantao or Hongkong.' Next he recommended

(December 1 , 1835) that the Commission should be permanently

stationed at Lintin, and later on (January 29, and April 18,

1836 ) he informs Lord Palmerston , that the Chinese Authorities

seem to have but one object , viz ., to prevent the Commission

establishing themselves permanently at Canton, and that without

intimidation and ultimate resort to hostilities no proper under-

standing can be established . Accordingly he suggested, that

'the destruction of one or two forts, and the occupation of one

of the islands in the neighbourhood, so singularly adapted by

nature in every respect for commercial purposes, would promptly

produce every effect we desire.' If Sir George B. Robinson had

been a prophet, he could not have anticipated more distinctly

the future origin of our Colony, the battle of Chuempi and the

occupation of the Island of Hongkong as accomplished seven

years later, in January 1841.

Lord Palmerston, however, was not prepared yet to express

an opinion as to any suggestion leading up to the permanent

establishment of a British station or colony in the East. Neither

did the Duke of Wellington's ideas go beyond the establishment

of a Consul-General in a Chinese port, backed by a stout frigate

and a smaller vessel of war. Lord Palmerston had all along

been little inclined to listen to Sir George Robinson's expositions

of the Duke's notions or to pay any attention to his monotonous

dithyrambics on the subject of the quiescent line of policy. As

to the positive and definite instructions regarding future measures,

for which the Superintendents were waiting in vain from 1834

to 1836 , it was not until Lord Palmerston's views had gained

the ascendancy in the public mind over those of the noble Duke,

that the Minister vouchsafed to give Sir George any instructions

as to his policy. And when (June 7 , 1836 ) he at last did so ,


he curtly informed Sir George that there was no longer any

necessity for maintaining the office of Chief- Superintendent

which was hereby abolished, and that Sir George's functions

should cease from the date of the receipt of this dispatch.

Accordingly he instructed Sir George to hand over the archives

of his office to Captain Elliot whom he requested to consider

himself as Chief of the Commission. Sir George, nothing

daunted, remained at his post and appealed for reconsideration

(probably looking to the Duke of Wellington for rescue), but

it was all in vain. The Cabinet had begun to see that the

quiescent policy had failed . Four months afterwards Lord

Palmerston repeated his instructions and Sir George returned

to England.

Thus ended the reign of the quiescent policy of Mr. Davis

and Sir George Robinson . A more active policy was to be

inaugurated as soon as public attention in England could be

aroused to a sense of the dishonour heaped upon British

merchants and officers by Chinese autocracy.




IR George B. Robinson was by no means the first discoverer


of the need of a British Colony in the East. Nor was Lord

Palmerston the only statesman that shrank from the idea and

found himself unable to form hastily a final opinion upon such a

suggestion until the force of events had actually accomplished it.

So far back as 1815 , Mr. Elphinstone, then President of

the Select Committee of the East India Company's Supercargoes

at Canton, recommended to the Court of Directors, that they

should establish a high diplomatic Plenipotentiary on a

convenient station on the eastern coast of China, ' and as near

the capital of the country as might be found most expedient .

He further recommended that this Plenipotentiary should be

attended by a sufficient maritime force to demand reparation of

the grievances from which the trade was suffering. The Directors

of the Company, with all their statesman-like sagacity, did not

see their way to follow up this suggestion, the carrying out

of which would have anticipated the sound basis of commercial

relations which was eventually obtained some thirty-six years

later, by the very course of action first recommended by

Mr. Elphinstone .

The next person to take up and develop Mr. Elpinstone's

idea of a station on the east coast of China as a point d'appui

for a naval demonstration, intended to compel China to redress

grievances and to make some commercial concessions, was

Sir George Staunton, the famous translator of the original

statutes of the Tatsing Dynasty (Penal Code of China ), who had

also been a trusted servant of the East India Company in

China. Having returned to England, he entered Parliament.

In the course of a debate which took place in the House of


Commons (June, 1833) concerning the arbrogation of the East

India Company's trade monopoly, Sir George Staunton moved

a series of resolutions, one of which (No. 8) ran as follows :


That, in the event of its proving impracticable to replace

the influence of the East India Company's Authorities by any

system of national protection, directly emanating from the

Crown, it will be expedient (though only in the last resort) to

withdraw altogether from the control of the Chinese Authorities,

and to establish the trade in some insular position on the

Chinese coast where it may be satisfactorily carried on beyond

the reach of acts of oppression and molestation, to which an

unresisting submission would be equally prejudicial to the-

national honour and to the national interests of this country.'

Whilst this important subject was under discussion , the House

was counted out, and on a subsequent resumption of the debate

the resolutions were negatived without a division , indicating

the general indifference as regards Chinese affairs which then

prevailed in England .

At the time when Sir George Staunton drafted the

foregoing resolution , the project of stationing in Canton three

Superintendents of British trade in China was definitely placed

before the country by the Bill above mentioned which passed

into law two months later. In speaking of a system of national

protection directly emanating from the Crown, ' Sir George

Staunton referred to Lord Napier's proposed mission , the failure

of which he appears to have foreseen . In suggesting a remedy

for this expected failure, the establishment of the Commission

in some insular position on the coast, beyond the reach of acts

of oppression and molestation,' Sir George Staunton may not

have had in his mind more than the establishment of a trade

station after the fashion of the East India Company's factories,

but he evidently came very near the idea of a British Colony.

He had to advantage studied the history of the East India

Company and drawn from it lessons which Cabinet Ministers

failed to master. Speaking before the House of Commons in

support of the above resolution, he argued that the port of


Canton was one of the least advantageous in the Chinese

dominions, either for exports or for imports, that the trade of

Canton was wholly abandoned to the arbitrary control of the

Local Authorities, and was by them subjected to many and

severe and vexatious burdens and to various restrictions and

privations of the most galling and oppressive nature, and finally

that those evils were wholly attributable to the nature and

character of the Chinese Government.

About the time when these sage counsels were urged in

the House of Commons upon an apathetic audience, another

former servant of the East India Company, Sir J. B. Urmston ,

who had been at the head of the British Factory in Canton

in the years 1819 and 1820, published (London, 1833 ) a

pamphlet under the title ' Observations on the Trade of China '

(printed for private circulation only) . In this pamphlet, Sir

J. B. Urmston impressed upon the British Government the

necessity of removing the trade entirely from Canton to some

other more northern port of the Empire. His argument was

that British trade at Canton had always been at the mercy of

the caprice and rapacity of the Cantonese Authorities and their

subordinates, and that Canton was one of the worst places in

the Empire which could have been chosen as an emporium for the

British trade. Accordingly Sir J. B. Urmston named Ningpo

and Hangchow as central and convenient places for British

commerce, but gave it as his decided opinion that an insular

situation, like Chusan, would be infinitely more so . We see,

therefore, that Mr. Elphinstone, Sir George Staunton and Sir

J. B. Urmston were of one and the same way of thinking,

having correctly drawn the lessons of the past history of British

trade in China, but that , as former employees of the East India

Company, they thought of a factory rather than of a Colony.

It is remarkable, however, that Cabinet Ministers profited so

little from the advice thus tendered in Parliament and in the

Press, as to commit the blunders which characterized , a few

months later, their design of Lord Napier's mission and the

instructions by which they frustrated it .


When an echo of the foregoing discussions reached Canton

at the close of the year 1833, a writer in one of the local

publications, signing himselfA British Merchant,' made some

further suggestions. Canton, he said, should no longer be the

base of operations, be they of negotiation, of peace, or of war.

An Admiral's station should be selected, and, for the sake of

resting on some point, Ningpo might be adopted or the adjacent

island of Chusan. The writer then goes on discussing the

annexation of Formosa, the seizure of the island of Lantao

(close to Hongkong), the cession of Macao to be obtained from

the Portuguese, but finally rejects the seizure of any portion

of Chinese territory as impolitic and the cession of Macao as

impracticable. The author of this letter thereupon labours to

recommend the idea of negotiating a treaty with China under

which some port of the east coast of China should be opened

to British trade, free from the restrictions in force at Canton .

A treaty port with a British Consulate seemed to him preferable

to a Colony, but how such a treaty could be negotiated without

compulsion by force of arms, he did not explain.

The honour of having first discerned and directed attention

to the peculiar facilities afforded by the Island of Hongkong

belongs to Lord Napier. In a dispatch addressed to Lord

Palmerston (August 14, 1834) , in which he urged the necessity

of commanding, by an armed demonstration, the conclusion of

a commercial treaty to secure the just rights and interests

of European merchants in China. Lord Napier distinctly

recommended that a small British force should take possession

of the Island of Hongkong, in the eastern entrance of the

Canton River, which is admirably adapted for every purpose.'

It is possible, however, that Lord Napier, as subsequently Captain

Elliot, thought of Hongkong as a future Chinese treaty port

rather than as a British Colony. The next advocate of a similar

policy was Sir George B. Robinson , who, as stated above, urged

upon Lord Palmerston (in 1836 ) to withdraw from Canton

and to occupy one of the islands in the neighbourhood (of

Lintin) so singularly adapted by nature in every respect for


commercial purposes.' At the same time when Sir George

Robinson sought to impress upon the Foreign Office the

advantages of an island station, away from Canton, another

former resident of China appealed to the British public,

commending the same policy, seeking to arouse public opinion

in England and to turn it in favour of the project first advanced

by Mr. Elphinstone . In a pamphlet , entitled " The Present

Condition and Prospec ts of British Trade with China,' and

published in Londo n in 1830, Mr. James Matheson of Canton ,

expounded and expanded Mr. Elphinstone's advice of sending

a Plenipotentiary to China, who should take his station on one

of the islands on the east coast of China and thence negotiate ,

by the demonstration of a small naval force, a commercial

treaty, the object of which should be to secure for British

trade in China an insular location beyond the reach of Chinese

officialdom . This clearly pointed to a British Colony to be

established on the coast of China .

Mr. Matheson, however, was no advocate of war with China.

Neither did he imagine that China would readily consent to

the establishment of a British Colony at her very gates. Mr.

Matheson argued that a state of preparedness for war is the

surest preventive of war, especially in our dealings with a

nation like China, and that a firm policy, plainly supported

by a strong fleet, ready for war, might, if judiciously pressed

home, be all that would be absolutely necessary. Thus Mr.

Matheson struck, in 1836, the key-note of the policy which

eventually procured the establishment of the Colony of Hongkong.

What Mr. Matheson thus urged upon the home country

as a whole by his pamphlet, he impressed especially also upon

the various Associations and Chambers of Commerce within reach

of his influence in England and Scotland. In the course of

the year 1836 , several memorials were accordingly presented

at the Foreign Office from various parts of Great Britain,

requesting that immediate and energetic measures should be

adopted for the extension and protection of commerce in China.

Among them was a memorial of the Glasgow East India


Association, addressed to Lord Palmerston. This document

suggested, no doubt at the instigation of Mr. Matheson, ' the

obtaining, by negotiation or purchase, an island on the eastern

coast of China, where a British factory may reside, subject to

its own laws and exposed to no collision with the Chinese.'

When the Glasgow merchants thus recommended to seek, by

negotiation or purchase, the cession of an island for the

establishment of a factory, they did not mean a factory like

the trade stations of the East India Company, but a factory

of British and notably Scotch free traders , in the Canton sense

of the word. They forestalled thus in principle the future

cession of Hongkong, although their thoughts then turned,

with Mr. Matheson, more in the direction of Chusan than of


The idea which Mr. Matheson thus prominently brought ,

by his pamphlet, before the general public, and by the Glasgow

memorial before the Cabinet, to desert Canton and to seek,

somewhere on the east coast, an island where British trade with

China might be conducted under the British flag, on British

ground, and under British government, was not left without its

opponents. Mr. H. Hamilton Lindsay, also a former Canton

resident and ex - member of the East India Company's Select

Committee, published, in 1836, a Letter addressed to Lord

Palmerston under the title British Relations with China . ' In

this pamphlet, whilst recommending the adoption of a belligerent

policy in opposition to Mr. Matheson's armed peace procedure,

Mr. Lindsay advocated the formation, on the coast of China,

of two or three depots with floating warehouses, like the above

mentioned hulks anchored at Lintin . Each of those depots, he

suggested, should be guarded by a stout frigate and thrown

open for the resort of merchant vessels to trade there . As

to the project of forming a Colony, Mr. Lindsay added that he

would on no account advocate the taking possession of the

smallest island on the coast.

Another opponent of the Colonial policy came forward

anonymously, by a pamphlet published in London, in 1836, by



a resident in China, under the title British Intercourse with

China .' The anonymous author of this pamphlet represented

the Missionary view of the question and suggested that the

Government should choose a pacific policy towards China on

grounds of expediency, humility and generosity, and confine its

political action to the establishment of a Consulate at Canton

together with a small fleet for the protection of trade.

To combat the foregoing opponents of his scheme, Sir George-

Staunton now came forward again and published , in 1836 , a

pamphlet entitled ' Remarks on British Relations with China.'

Sir George had, however, but little to say that was new.

argued, as before, that Canton was the very worst station to

select for trade purposes, but he now advocated the occupation

of an island on the coast without previous negotiation with

the Chinese Government. He stated that there were many

islands on the coast over which the Chinese Government exercised

no act of jurisdiction, and that such an island might easily be

taken possession of with the entire consent and good-will of

the inhabitants if there were any. Moreover he now pointed,

very aptly, to the precedent afforded by the Portuguese Colony

on the island of Macao, the original occupation of which was

an act precisely of that description which Sir George Staunton

advocated, and not the result of any previous authentic cession

by the Chinese Authorities, as pretended by the Portuguese.

So far, however, this general search for a Colony in the

East was more a groping about for an island on the east coast

of China than in the neighbourhood of Canton. Chusan was

most in favour. Next came Ningpo and Formosa . But other

places also were mentioned . At the close of the year 1836 ,

when this war of the pamphleteers was transferred from England

to Canton, the general divergence of views was increased.

Mr. G. Tradescant Lay, a naturalist who had accompanied

Captain Beechy's Expedition to the Bonin Islands, strongly

advocated, in the Canton newspapers and by a pamphlet published

in 1837, the occupation of one of those islands for the purpose

of a British Colony. Hongkong was almost out of the running.


However, the annexation of Hongkong was under the

consideration of the Canton free traders early in the year

1836, when a correspondent of the Canton Register made the

following prophetic remarks (April 25, 1836 ) . " If the lion's

paw is to be put down on any part of the south side of

China, let it be Hongkong ; let the lion declare it to be

under his guarantee a free port, and in ten years it will be

the most considerable mart east of the Cape. The Portuguese

made a mistake : they adopted shallow water and exclusive

rules. Hongkong, deep water, and a free port for ever ! '

This anticipation of the future was but the view of a minority

at Canton . Most of the British merchants continued to cling

to the notion that the inner waters of Canton afforded a

special vantage ground, that the lion's share was there where

their trade was acknowledged by the Chinese Authorities,

that at Canton therefore the British representative should

reside and that, unless he were to reside there, he would be

simply nowhere, whether for the Chinese Government or for

his countrymen. At the time when the discussion as to the

best location of the British trade waxed hottest in the Canton

papers, there was published in the same papers (December, 1836 )

a detail description of the coast of China for the benefit of

mariners, and in these papers, entirely unconnected with the

above-mentioned search for a Colony, we find Hongkong

referred to in the following words :-

' On the west of the Lamma channel is Lantao (about

60 miles S.E. of Canton ) and on the east are Hongkong

and Lamma. North of Hongkong is a passage between it

and the main, called Ly-ee- moon, with good depth of water

close to the Hongkong shore, and perfect shelter on all sides.

Here are several good anchorages. At the bottom of a bay

on the opposite main is a town called Kowloon and a river

is said to discharge itself here (a statement the incorrectness.

of which is palpable, unless by the word river a little creek

is meant) . On the S.W. side of Hongkong, and between it

and Lamma, are several small bays, fit for anchorage, one of


which, named Heang-keang, probably has given name to the

island . Tytam harbour is in a bay on the S.E. side of the

island, having the S.E. point for its protection to the

eastward, other parts of the island on the N. and W. and

several small islands off the entrance of the bay to the south.

It is roomy and free from danger.'

It was unfortunate that the search for a Colony had met

with opposition in Canton and developed in England into a

war of pamphleteers. This conflict confused instead of forming

public opinion . At any rate nothing definite was accomplished.

Parliament would not take up the question , and Lord Palmerston ,

whose mind was by this time made up, preferred to wait

until he was sure as to the drift of public opinion .

No one, it will be observed, took a share in this search

for a Colony except persons directly connected with the China

Trade past or present, unless we except a crude concoction

by a writer of the East India House (a Mr. Thompson)

who, in a pamphlet published under the title Considerations

representing the Trade with China ' (London, 1836 ), deprecated

war for commerce only. Neither public opinion nor the

Cabinet approved of or took more than a languid interest in

the measures discussed . However, attention had been called

to the subject in prominent places, and the public mind

was now, in some measure at least, prepared to accept,

reluctantly though it be, the idea of establishing a British

Colony in the East, when, four years later, this project was

suddenly presented to the nation as an accomplished fact by

the news of the cession of Hongkong brought about by the

force of events rather than by any continuation of this search

for a Colony.




1836 to 1838.

N June 1836 a marked change commenced in the policy

IN of the British Cabinet. Previous to that time the Duke

of Wellington's Memorandum of March 24, 1835 , had, as above

mentioned, suggested that the British Chief- Superintendent of

Trade in China should not proceed to or reside at Canton ,

that he should not adopt high-sounding titles , that he should

not depart from the accustomed mode of communication with

the Chinese Government, that he should not assume a power

hitherto unadmitted, but keep, by the support of a stout frigate,

the enjoyment of what little had been got, and leave it to the

future to decide whether any effort should be made at Peking

or elsewhere to improve our relations with China, commercial

as well as political . This quiescent line of policy initiated by

the Duke and expounded in China, after Lord Napier's defeat,

by Mr. Davis and Sir George Robinson , ended on June 7 , 1836 ,

for it was now to be substituted by Lord Palmerston's own

diplomacy, hitherto restrained by the indolence of public opinion

and by the divergent views of the Duke of Wellington .

The merchants at Canton, though disappointed in their

expectation that the Government would take steps to obtain

redress for the insulting treatment accorded to Lord Napier, soon

had reason to perceive that a different policy was about to

be inaugurated . When the firm of Jardine, Matheson & Co.

introduced ( September 20, 1835 ) the first merchant steamer

Jardine to ply on the Canton River, Captain Elliot, then still

under the sway of the quiescent policy, protested against such

a proceeding as contrary to the laws and usages of China, and,

under the orders of Sir George Robinson, placed an interdict


on the employment of the steamer in Chinese waters . But

now (July 22 , 1836 ) Lord Palmerston wrote to Captain Elliot

warning him that, whilst avoiding to give any just cause of

offence to the Chinese Authorities, he should at the same time

be very careful not to assume a greater degree of authority

over British subjects in China than that which he in reality


Another indication of the change of policy that had now

taken place, was a direction Lord Palmerston gave, plainly

intimating that free trade and free traders were now viewed by

the Cabinet in a light different from that in which the Duke

of Wellington had looked at them. What had constituted in

the eyes of Canton merchants the most galling element of the

Duke's quiescent policy was his determination, expressed in his

Memorandum, ' to control and keep in order the King's subjects,'

implying that the British community at Canton consisted of

a set of smugglers, pirates and ruffians, requiring that the

Superintendents be armed with the strongest powers for their

coercion rather than protection . Mr. Davis, Sir George Robinson

and even Captain Elliot, had hitherto been under the impression

that all the powers and authorities formerly vested in the

Supercargoes of the East India Company, including the power

to arrest and deport to England unlicensed or otherwise

objectionable persons, might be lawfully exercised by the

Superintendents of British Trade in China ; but now (November

8, 1836 ) Lord Palmerston informed Captain Elliot that, as no

license from His Majesty was now necessary to enable His

Majesty's subjects to trade with or reside in China, such power

of expulsion had altogether ceased to exist with regard to China.

To avoid recurrence of the difference of opinion between

co-ordinate Authorities, which had hampered the Commission

during Sir George Robinson's tenure of office , Lord Palmerston

abolished the office of Third Superintendent , and, whilst

confirming Captain Elliot as Chief, and Mr. Johnston as Second

Superintendent, now (November 8, 1836 ) placed the latter under

the orders and control of the former. The suite, salaries and


contingent allowances of the Commission were also reduced at

the same time, and the two Superintendents were given to

understand that their appointments were only provisional and

temporary. This was unfortunate, for it caused doubts,

both among the British community and among the Chinese

Authorities, as to the official status of the two Superintendents.

Some years later Captain Elliot, with a view to control the

conduct of lawless British subjects, carrying on (in daily conflict

with Chinese revenue cruizers ) a forced contraband trade

between Lintin and Whampoa, established (April 18, 1838 )

a system of police regulations exclusively applicable to the

crews of British-owned vessels under the British flag. Lord

Palmerston, after keeping the Regulations submitted to him

unnoticed for a whole year, wrote at last, on the day when

the whole foreign community were already under rigorous

confinement in consequence of those lawless doings, a dispatch

in which he suddenly came forward with notions of international

law which ought to have entirely vetoed the former mission

of, and Privy Council instructions given to, Lord Napier.

Lord Palmerston then (March 23, 1839 ) informed Captain

Elliot that the Law Officers of the Crown were of opinion

that the establishment of a system of ship's police at Whampoa,

within the Dominions of the Emperor of China, would be

an interference with the absolute right of sovereignty enjoyed

by independent States, which could only be justified by positive

treaty or by implied permission from usage. Accordingly Captain

Elliot was instructed to obtain, first of all, the written approval

of the Governor of Canton for those Regulations . By the time

this curious dispatch reached Elliot, British trade had been

driven out from Canton, thanks to Lord Palmerston's inaction.

But, whilst thus curtailing the powers and restricting the

official standing and jurisdiction of the Commission, Lord

Palmerston sought to uphold their position in other respects

in relation to both the Macao and Canton Authorities.

It appeared to British observers that the Macao Governors

had, ever since Lord Napier's arrival, played into the hands of


the Chinese Authorities and secretly professed themselves as

their allies against the British . Latterly, when the Chinese

Government, and even some of the British merchants, openly

disowned and defied the authority and jurisdiction of the British

Superintendents, the Macao Governor had the hardihood of

declining to recognize His Majesty's Commission, going even

so far as to omit returning answers to their letters. After

making strong representations on this subject to the Government

of Portugal and causing proper instructions to be sent from

Lisbon to the Governor of Macao, Lord Palmerston now

(December 6, 1836) informed Captain Elliot that measures had

been taken to recall the Governor of Macao to a proper sense

of the respect which is due to Officers acting under His Majesty's

Commission, and that orders had been issued for a ship of war

to be stationed in Chinese waters with special instructions to

watch over the interests of British subjects at Macao.

The firm attitude thus assumed towards the Government

of Macao, Lord Palmerston desired also to apply to the regulation

of Captain Elliot's relations with the Cantonese Authorities.

In direct opposition to the Duke of Wellington's Memorandum,

Lord Palmerston repeatedly (July 22, 1836, and June 12 , 1837)

instructed Captain Elliot to decline every proposition to revive

official communication through the customary channel of the

Hong Merchants, to communicate with none but Officers of

the Chinese Government, under no circumstances to give his

written communications with the Chinese Government the name

of petitions, and to insist upon his right , as an Officer

commissioned by the King of England, to correspond on terms

of equality with Officers commissioned by any other sovereign in

the world. It might be very suitable, ' wrote Lord Palmerston ,

' for the servants of the East India Company, themselves an

association of merchants, to communicate with the Authorities

of China through the Merchants of the Hong, but the

Superintendents are Officers of the King, and as such can

properly communicate with none but Officers of the Chinese




It seemed at this moment as if the British Lion was

beginning to wake up, but the Chinese cared nothing for

his growl from a distance. When Lord Palmerston , however,

discovered (November 2, 1837 ) that Elliot could not possibly

communicate with the Chinese Authorities otherwise than as

a tributary barbarian petitioner, he shrank from the simple

expedient of a naval demonstration which, by the destruction

of the Bogue forts, would, in a couple of hours, have prevented

years of misery. Nevertheless, Lord Palmerston once more

enjoined Captain Elliot to continue to press, on every suitable

opportunity, for the recognition , on the part of the Chinese

Authorities, of his right to receive, direct from the Viceroy,

sealed communications (not orders) addressed to himself without

the intervention of the Hong Merchants. Whilst anxious that

Elliot should have a distinct official position and gain it by

the logic of plausible arguments, he left him unsupported by

a sufficient fleet to apply the only logic the Chinese would

have respected, the demonstration of power. When Elliot urged

(November 19 , 1837) that Lord Palmerston should at least

write a letter to the Viceroy of Canton, as the Directors of

the East India Company had done on several occasions, or send a

Plenipotentiary to present, at the mouth of the Peiho, an auto-

graph letter of Queen Victoria, claiming a settlement of all the

grievances of British trade in China, Lord Palmerston explained

that, in such a case, the question of the opium trade would have

to be taken up, but that Her Majesty's Government did not

yet see their way towards such a measure with sufficient clearness

to justify them in adopting such a course at the moment .

What hampered Captain Elliot, next to his want of a fleet,

was the undefined state of his jurisdiction which prevented

both the Chinese Government and the foreign community in

Canton understanding or recognizing his authority. Lord

Palmerston sought to amend this defect by means of the China

Courts Bil! which was before Parliament at the end of the

year 1838 , but it was arrested in its progress, mainly in

consequence of objections raised by Sir George Staunton.


The British community of Macao and Canton were, under

these circumstances, very much thrown upon their own resources.

They established (November 28, 1836) a General Chamber of

Commerce, but the mixture of nationalities in it caused a good

deal of friction. Nevertheless the Committee (re-elected ,

November 4, 1837 ) succeeded in redressing sundry grievances by

arbitration, built a clocktower, arranged a Post Office, fixed the

regulations of the port and supervised the sanitary arrangements

of the factories. An attempt was made (January 21 , 1837)

to form a representative Committee of British merchants for

the purpose of providing an official channel of communication

between the British community and their Superintendents , and

also in order to ensure joint action in any emergency, but the

attempt failed for want of unity among the leading British

merchants. However, they were not wanting in loyalty. On

the demise of William IV, a public meeting was held (November

27, 1837 ) and an address was agreed upon , expressing condolence

with Queen Victoria, and praying that Her Majesty's reign

might be long and glorious and that Her Majesty's name might

be associated to the end of all time with things religious,

enlightened and humane.

What troubled the peace of British merchants in Canton

most of all at this time, was the insolvent condition of most

of the Hong Merchants. The foreign free traders had not,

like the East India Company, the command of an unlimited

treasury, enabling them to give long credits and to sustain a

long privation of large portions of their trading capital. Nor

were they in a position to adopt the former policy of the East

India Company's Select Committee and distribute their business

among the different Hong Merchants in proportion to their

respective degrees of solvency and thus maintain a command

of the market . Nearly all the thirteen Hong Merchants were

more or less involved at the beginning of the year 1837 ; four

were avowedly insolvent ; one, Hing-tai, was formally declared

bankrupt, his indebtedness to foreigners amounting to over

two million dollars ; and another, King-qua, was on the verge


of bankruptcy. The Viceroy of Canton sanctioned , in the

case of Hing-tai's bankruptcy, an arrangement to be made-

with his foreign creditors , but the latter rejected the terms

offered . As the Chinese Government had originally appointed

the Hong Merchants on the principle of mutual responsibility,

had repeatedly insisted upon the payment of such debts, and

imposed for many years past a special tax on foreign commerce

in order to create a guarantee fund for their liquidation , the

British merchants had both law and prescription on their side.

Morcover, on a similar occasion (A.D. 1780) , an officer in the

service of the East India Company (Captain Panton) had

succeeded, by means of a letter addressed to the Viceroy of

Canton by a British Admiral (Sir Edward Vernon ) and forwarded

by a frigate (the Sea-horse) , in obtaining (October, 1780)

an Imperial Decree ordering partial repayment of a similar

debt . Naturally enough, therefore , the British creditors of

Hing- tai now argued that the simple intervention of the

British Cabinet with the Imperial Government at Peking would

facilitate the adjustment of the whole of their claims against

the bankrupt Hongs. In this sense a memorial was addressed

(March 21 , 1838) to Lord Palmerston , signed by the following

firms, viz.: Dent , Turner, Bell , Lindsay , Dirom , Daniell, Cragg,

Layton, Henderson , Stewart , Rustomjee , Fox Rawson, Nanabhoy

Framjee , Eglinton Maclean , Bibby Adam, Gibb Livingston

Gemmell , Macdonald , Wise Holliday, Kingsley and Jamieson

How. Nevertheless , foreseeing the unwillingness of Lord

Palmerston to press their claims with due promptitude upon

the Chinese Government , the above-mentioned firms meanwhile

applied directly to the Cantonese Authorities, without the

intervention of Captain Elliot. A long and exasperating

correspondence ensued, the upshot of which was that the British

merchants obtained payment of their claims against the Hing-tai

Hong at a reduced rate but by instalments secured by the

Chinese Government , and further the Viceroy sanctioned , at

their request, the liquidation of King-qua's debts. In fact,

through firmness of purpose combined with a nominal submission


to the absolutism of Chinese officialdom, the British merchants

gained concessions which the British Government could not

have gained for them, whilst claiming international equality,

except by an armed demonstration .

Captain Elliot's relations with the Cantonese Authorities

were, throughout his whole tenure of office, characterized by

an unceasing battle for a formal recognition of his official status

and for the ordinary courtesies of official intercourse, which

China never conceded until they were wrung out of her at the

point of the bayonet by the Nanking Treaty. On the ground

of what on the surface seemed to be petty questions of official

- etiquette, Elliot had, single-handed and unsupported, to fight

the battle between China's stubborn assertion of supremacy over

all barbarian potentates, Queen Victoria included , and England's

quiet but deliberate claim of international equality. Elliot's

position in this conflict was extremely difficult .

On the one hand, the Cantonese Authorities argued that

for two centuries British merchants had acknowledged, with

abject servility, China's claim of supremacy and consented to

take the orders of the Governor or the Hoppo at the hands

of the Hong merchants ; that Lord Macartney and Lord

Amherst had brought tribute from the Kings of England ;

that Imperial Decrees, which admitted of no alteration , had

fixed the mode of governing foreign trade at Canton ; and

that there was no intelligible difference between a Royal

Superintendent like Elliot and a Supercargo of the former

East India Company, the latter having wielded , in the

experience of Chinese officials, more authority and power over

their countrymen than Lord Napier or Captain Elliot ever

possessed. On the other hand, Lord Palmerston , with equal

justice, persisted in giving Captain Elliot reiterated instructions ,

based on an assumed equality of the British and Chinese

nations, and, on account of the barbarities of the Chinese

Penal Code, virtually amounting to a claim of extra-territorial

-criminal jurisdiction over British subjects trading at Canton .

The mistake was that he, at the same time, left Elliot without


a sufficient fleet to enforce these just and proper claims. It

is hard to say what Captain Elliot ought to have done under

the circumstances. Had he carried out Lord Palmerston's

instructions literally, had he adopted the unusual mode of

communication enjoined upon him, and assumed the high-

sounding title of the King's Officer, boldly insisting upon

equality of official intercourse, he would have courted the

fate and condemnation that fell on Lord Napier. Had he

informed Lord Palmerston the thing was impossible without

having recourse to arms, and advised him to adopt the only

remaining alternative of retiring from Canton and establishing

a British Colony on one of the beautiful islands in the

neighbourhood, say Hongkong, he would probably have been

dismissed with as little ceremony as Sir George Robinson .

What Captain Elliot actually did remains to be told.

He commenced his duties with the determination not to

protract the interruption of official communication between

the Superintendents and the Cantonese Authorities by any

demand of redress for the insults offered to the King and

the country by the treatment accorded to Lord Napier, but

to exhibit a conciliatory disposition, by respecting Chinese

usages, and refraining from shocking the prejudices of the

Chinese official mind . Accordingly, in his first communication

to the Viceroy of Canton (December 14, 1836 ), he did not

refer to the events connected with Lord Napier's death, but

on the contrary explained that all he desired was ' to maintain

and promote the good understanding which has so long and

so happily subsisted .' This letter, written at Macao and

delivered at Canton by the hands of two Agents of the East

India Company (J. H. Astell and H. M. Clarke) and two

British free traders (W. Jardine and L. Dent ) to the Hong

Merchants, was conveyed to the Governor of Canton as a

humble petition of the barbarian headman Elliot . Looking

to the tenor of this letter and to the form of its delivery,

the Viceroy justly concluded that the old policy of the East

India Company was to be resumed by the cowed barbarians.


To make sure, he sent a deputation of Hong Merchants to

interview Elliot at Macao, to question him as to his official

status and policy, and to impress upon him that he must

first of all send a humble petition begging for a passport,

and then remain at Macao until Imperial permission had

been obtained for him to visit Canton , from time to time,

during each business season. The result of the interviews

that took place was that Elliot did as he was told. He

applied, in form of a petition, for a passport and dutifully

waited at Macao until a report had been sent to Peking

stating that the hatchet had been buried in Napier's grave,

that Elliot was virtually but a Chief- Supercargo with a

different name and a smarter uniform, and that things would

go on as of yore. Accordingly, three months later ( March 18,


1837 ) the Hoppo informed the Hong Merchants that Elliot

having received a public official commission for the control

of foreign merchants and seamen, although his title be not

the same as that of the Chief- Supercargoes (tai-pan) hitherto

sent, yet in the duty of controlling he does not differ, and

that therefore it is now the Imperial pleasure that he be

permitted to repair to Canton, under the existing regulations

applicable to Chief- Supercargoes, and that on his arrival at

the provincial capital he be allowed to take the management

of affairs. In forwarding a passport for Elliot to the Hong

Merchants, he instructed them to give Elliot particular orders

that as regards his residence, sometimes at Macao, sometimes

at Canton , he must in this also conform himself to the old

regulations, nor can he be allowed to loiter (at Canton)

beyond the proper period .' Thus the official status of the

King's Officer was fixed : subject to the control of the Hong

Merchants and under the orders of the Hoppo, let him obey

tremblingly !

Captain Elliot accepted this humiliating position with-

out further remonstrance and promised ( December 28, 1836)

to remain in Macao until further instructed . In March 1837

an Imperial edict was received at Canton authorizing Elliot's


proceeding to Canton. Accordingly he removed (April 12 , 1837 )

to Canton with Mr. Johnston, the Second Superintendent,

and took with him his whole suite, consisting of a Secretary

(Mr. Elmslie) , two Interpreters (Mr. Morrison and Mr. Gützlaff),

two Surgeons (Mr. Colledge and Mr. Anderson ) , and a Chaplain

(the Rev. Mr. Vachell) . On arrival at Canton , Captain Elliot

at once set to work to obtain a modification of his official

status. He commenced ( April 22 , 1837 ) by protesting that he

could not possibly continue sending any further communications

to the Viceroy through the Hong Merchants, but, on meeting

with a curt refusal, yielded this point five days later, on being

graciously allowed to send his petitions through the Hong

Merchants under a sealed cover addressed to the Viceroy.

But the Canton Authorities communicated with Elliot only

through the Hong Merchants, to whom they addressed their

orders. Thus things went on, quietly enough, for about seven

months, whilst the Viceroy ( September, 1837 ) repeatedly

instructed the Hong Merchants to order Elliot to send the

receiving ships away from Lintin, and Elliot persisted in

declaring that he had no power to do so, although he had

informed the British merchants ( December 31 , 1836 ) that Macao

and Lintin were included in his jurisdiction over British subjects

and ships. On receiving, however, renewed instructions from

Lord Palmerston to maintain the dignity of an Officer of the

British Crown, Captain Elliot humbly informed the Viceroy of

Canton (November 23, 1837 ) that, with all respect for His

Excellency's high dignity, he must discontinue the use of the

character Pien on his addresses to the Governor. When the

Viceroy peremptorily declined making the slightest concession

on this point, Elliot plucked up courage, hauled down his flag

and retired to Macao (November 29, 1837) . The Canton

Authorities, not in least moved by this proceeding, took no

notice of Elliot's departure, but recommended to the Emperor

(December 30, 1837 ) to stop the regular foreign trade until the

receiving ships at Lintin had taken their departure. Meanwhile

all official intercourse with Captain Elliot remained suspended.


Lord Palmerston approved of Elliot's proceedings (June 15,

1838) and sent Admiral Maitland, who arrived on July 12 ,

1838, in H.M.S. Wellesley, to cheer him up. Here was an

opportunity for Captain Elliot, and the Chinese unwittingly

improved upon it by foolishly firing on a boat of the Wellesley.

But Captain Elliot missed his chance and allowed the Chinese

to cajole him . Admiral Maitland was satisfied with a mild

apology by the Chinese Admiral and the usual exchange of

empty civilities between the two Admirals took place. Thus the

commander of the Wellesley was induced to sail away peacefully

(September 25 , 1838) , but under circumstances which justified

the assertion on the part of the Chinese that they had ordered

him off. This palpable mismanagement of the Admiral's visit

to China also met with Lord Palmerston's unqualified approval.

But the Chinese Authorities, having by this time taken the

measure of Captain Elliot's position, now reduced his official

status to an even lower level. They induced him actually to

yield (December 31 , 1838 ) the very point for the sake of which

he had struck his flag a year before, and to communicate with

subordinate officers of the Governor of Canton, by means of

humble petitions . The British newspapers in Canton now

overwhelmed him with a torrent of abuse, and even meek Lord

Palmerston regretted it and mildly suggested , six months later,

(June 13 , 1839) as a remedy, that Elliot should not omit to

avail himself of any proper opportunity to press for the

substitution of a less objectionable character than the character

Pien. But the real degradation in this move Lord Palmerston

did not understand. The concession which Captain Elliot made,

in December 1838, aud the price he paid for the re-opening of

official communications, involved far more than the use of an

objectionable character. For the official status now assigned

to Her Majesty's Commission and accepted by Elliot (December

26, 1838) was this : whilst previously receiving, from the lips

of the Hong Merchants, the orders of the Viceroy and the Hoppo,

the latter being next in rank to the Viceroy, he was henceforth

to receive through the Hong Merchants the orders of the local


Governor's subordinate officers, the Prefect of Canton city and

the Commandant of the local constabulary. Well might the

English newspapers of Canton cry shame at the fresh indignities

heaped upon British honour by placing the Queen's Commission

in China on a level below that of subordinate police officers,

in a position far lower than that of the former Supercargoes .

But, on the other hand, it must also be considered that Elliot

made these concessions at a time when, through the lawless

proceedings of foreigners engaged in the opium traffic between

Lintin and Whampoa, the life and property of the whole foreign

community had been placed in jeopardy and a dreadful

catastrophe was believed to be impending. Elliot believed that

this humiliating mode of communication with the Chinese

Government would only be of brief duration , pending the succour

he expected to receive from the home country. In this he was

mistaken. The public mind of England did not care for or

understand these things, or at any rate the nation was not

prepared yet to redeem the honour of the British flag in China.

Stronger measures had to be taken by the Chinese to arouse

public opinion in England, and the occasion for such measures

was furnished by the opium trade itself.




The taste for opium is a congenital disease of the Chinese

race. At the beginning of the Christian era, the uses and effects

of opium were the secret of the Buddhist priesthood in China .

Priests from India secured for themselves divine honours by

performing feats of ascetic discipline, fasting and mental

absorption, sitting for instance motionless for months at a time.

indolently gazing at a black wall. These feats were performed

by means of opium. Buddhist and Taoist priests peregrinated

through the whole of China performing astounding medical

cures by means of opiates. Centuries before European medical

science discovered the uses of opium, there was all over China a

large and constantly increasing demand for this drug, and, though

opium was grown in China from the earliest times, most of the

supply was imported into China by Arab traders at Canton and

Foochow. Nevertheless, while numbers of individuals taking

opium in excess were physically and morally ruined by it, the use

of opium never affected the health of the race to any perceptible

extent. When the smoking of opium and the consequent practice

of introducing opium vapour into the lungs commenced in China ,

is not known. As early as A.D. 1678 a regular duty on

foreign imported opium was levied at Canton, but for 77

years after that date the annual import . did not exceed 200

chests. By the year 1796, however, the annual rate of

importation had risen to 4,100 chests and the rapid spread of

a taste for opium smoking, and the consequent demoralisation

of individuals who smoked opium to excess, attracted the

attention of the Government. Accordingly the importation of


opium was formally prohibited (A.D. 1796 ) by an Imperial

Edict, the regular levy of a duty on opium ceased, and for it was

substituted, with the connivance of the Cantonese Authorities,

a system of secret importation under a clandestine levy of official

fees . The effect of this Imperial prohibition was an immediate

rise in the selling price of opium, and a consequently increased

supply. Chinese historians report that by the year 1820, the

annual clandestine sales of opium at Canton had reached a total

of nearly 4,000 chests.

But we have exact statistics of the annual exportation of

opium from India, most of which found its way to Canton,

while the remainder which went elsewhere was balanced by

imports of opium into China from other countries. These Indian

Government statistics show that the exportation of opium from

India continued, from A.D. 1798 to 1825, with very little

variation, at an average rate of 4,117 chests per annum ; that

it rose in the year 1826 , at a bound, to 6,570 chests , and

continued until the year 1829 at an average annual rate of 7,427

chests ; that in the year 1830 the export suddenly rose to 11,835

chests and continued , until the year 1835, at an average annual

rate of 12,095 chests. But in the year 1837 , on account of the

enhanced demand caused by the general expectation entertained

in 1836 that the trade would be legalised, the exportation of

opium took another sudden bound, rising to 19,600 chests , in

consequence of which the total amount of opium, accumulated

in the hands of opium merchants at Canton and Macao during

the period 1836 to 1837, reached a total of 30,000 chests . Of

these, some 20,000 chests were sold in 1836 , to the value of

about two million pounds sterling, of which sum £ 280,000

went into the pockets of the High Authorities. The trade in

opium was all along carried on at Canton in the foreign factories,

where the Hong Merchants and their privileged clients and

even Chinese officials openly purchased-from the various foreign

merchants, representing English, Anglo- Indian (chiefly Parsee),

Portuguese, American, French, Spanish, Danish, and Dutch

firms- written orders (chops) for opium to be delivered by ships


anchored in the outer waters of the Canton River. The opium

was not stored at Canton, but at first it was warehoused in

Macao, subsequently it was kept on board ships anchored at

Whampoa (the port of Canton) , until, with the year 1830, a

new practice arose. Foreign ships now used, on arrival from

India, to anchor first at the mouth of the Canton River, viz , at

Kam-sing-moon during the S.W. monsoon (April to September)

or at Lintin during the N.E. monsoon (October to March) , and

there to discharge their opium into stationary receiving hulks,

whereupon the ships proceeded with the remainder of their

cargo to Whampoa to engage there in the legitimate trade.

In the year 1830, there were only five such receiving ships in

Chinese waters, but by the year 1837 their number had increased

to 25, most of which were either English or temporarily

transferred to the English flag, though some were openly under

the American, French, Dutch, Spanish and Danish flags . These

receiving ships, anchored at Lintin or Kam-sing- moon, were

heavily armed and strongly manned, so much so that no Chinese

fleet could possibly interfere with them successfully. They

were readily supplied with provisions by native boats (known

as bumboats) and during the business season the officers in

command of these receiving ships were in daily communication.

with their respective agencies at Canton and Macao by means

of fast foreign cutters or schooners, manned by Indian lascars,

and known as European passage-boats. Since the winter of

1836, when foreign ships were forbidden to anchor at Kam-sing-

moon, and the prohibitions enforced by the erection of a shore

battery guarded by a naval squadron, the opium ships were

(1837 to 1841 ) confined to the station at Lintin . But whenever

the Cantonese Authorities made a special show of interference

with the opium traffic, as carried on at Lintin, some of the

most powerfully armed opium ships would be sent away to

the eastern and north-eastern coasts of China, to sell opium

wherever practicable along the coast, in a manner similar to

that practised at Lintin . In the year 1826 the commanders

of the receiving ships anchored at Lintin made an arrangement


with the revenue cruizers established by the Viceroy Li

Hung-pan, under which these cruizers, for a monthly fee of

Taels 36,000, allowed the opium to pass freely into the ports

of Whampoa and Macao. And in the year 1837 , when strict

orders had been issued by the Emperor to stop all opium

traffic at Lintin , the Commodore Hou Shiu-hing, in command

of the Viceroy's cruizers, arranged with the commanders of the

opium ships at Lintin, to convoy or actually to carry by his

vessels the opium from Lintin to its destination , for a fixed

percentage of opium. Some of the opium which he thus received ,

the wily Commodore then presented to the Viceroy as captured

by force of arms, and on these meritorious services being officially

reported to the Throne, the Emperor bestowed on the Commodore

a peacock's feather and gave him the rank of Rear-Admiral.

The Annals of the present Manchu Dynasty (partly translated

by Mr. E. H. Parker) , from which the foregoing statements

are taken, allege that the opium annually stored in the original

five receiving ships did at first not amount to more than 4,000

or 5,000 chests, but that later on (1826 to 1836) there were,

on the 25 receiving ships, some 20,000 chests of opium in any

one year.

The extraordinary dimensions which the opium trade thus

assumed, with the connivance of the Chinese Authorities, as a

forced trade (neither legal nor strictly speaking contraband) ,

especially during the decade from 1826 to 1836 , naturally

aroused anxious attention both on the part of the English and

Chinese Cabinets .

The English Government viewed with apprehension the

annually increasing importance which the East India Company's

opium monopoly assumed, since 1826, as a source of public

revenue. The extent to which the income of the Indian

Government had gradually become dependent upon the cultivation

and export of opium, likewise caused the English Cabinet much

anxiety and perplexity. Parliament also took the matter up and

appointed a Select Committee to investigate the questions

involved, both in 1830 and 1832. In the latter year, however,


the Committee, though by no means approving of the opium

traffic, gave it as their opinion that it did not seem advisable

to abandon so important a source of revenue in the East India

Company's monopoly of opium in Bengal.

Captain Elliot, the Government's representative in China,

personally abhorred the opium trade, root and branch , and did

not diguise his views either in his relations with the merchants

in Canton or in his communications to the Government. He

stated the perfect truth when he wrote to Lord Palmerston

(November 16 , 1839 ) that , if his private feelings were of the

least consequence upon questions of a public and important

nature, he might assuredly and justly say that no man entertained

a deeper detestation of the disgrace and sin of this forced traffic

on the coast of China ; that he saw little to choose between

it and piracy ; and that in his place, as a public officer, he had

steadily discountenanced it by all the lawful means in his

power, and at the total sacrifice of his private comfort in the

society in which he had lived for years. But he also stated

perfect truth, and in this respect Chinese history supports him,

when he wrote to Lord Palmerston (February 2, 1837 ) , that

the opium trade commenced and subsisted only by reason of

the hearty concurrence of the Chief Authorities of the

southern provinces of China and indeed also of the Court at

Peking ; that no portion of the foreign trade to China more

regularly paid its entrance duties than this opium traffic ; and

that the least attempt to evade the fees of the Mandarins was

almost certain of detection and severe punishment. Captain

Elliot further stated, on the same occasion, that a large share

of these emoluments reached not merely the higher dignitaries

of the Empire, but in all probability, in no very indirect manner,

the Imperial hand itself. The fact that, for centuries past, the

principal trade revenue office at Canton (that of the Hoppo)

has always been, as it still is, the monopoly of officers of the

Imperial Household, lends force to this surmise. But what

prevented Elliot's taking official proceedings against the opium

trade, which he personally loathed, was the same consideration


which had prevented the Parliamentary Committee of 1832

disavowing it altogether. The evil had already gone on too

long . The opium trade had, by its financial operations, become

so intertwined with the legitimate trade, that separate dealing

with it was impossible. The import of opium into China, as

it gradually expanded, gave an enormous impetus to the export

of tea and silk from China to the European markets, and the

whole opium trade had imperceptibly become a necessity both for

China and for Europe ; for China, because the craving for opium

was so widespread among the Chinese people, that the demand for

it defied the severest criminal enactments ; for Europe, because

the sale of opium, which had by this time come to form three-

fifths of the whole British imports into China, provided a very

large portion of the funds required for operations in Chinese

produce destined for European markets . Indeed , as Elliot put

it (February 21 , 1837 ) , the movement of money at Canton

had come to depend, by the force of circumstances, almost

entirely upon the deliveries of opium at Lintin . The tares could

not be rooted out now, without destroying the wheat.

Lord Palmerston , and the other members of the Cabinet ,

whilst unanimous in their dislike of the opium trade, could

not yet agree to any definite solution of the problem. On one

point Lord Palmerston was perfectly clear, viz. that Her

Majesty's Government could not possibly interfere for the

purpose of enabling British subjects to violate the laws of

the country to which they trade, and that therefore any loss

which such persons may suffer in consequence of the more

effectual execution of the Chinese laws on this subject, must

be borne by the parties who have brought that loss upon

themselves by their own acts. He wrote to Elliot to this effect

(June 15, 1838 ) , but at the same time declared that the Cabinet

did not feel sufficient confidence in their apprehension of the

opium problem to enter upon any negotiations with the Chinese

Government regarding the repression or legalisation of the

trade in opium. Nevertheless there are indications that Lord

Palmerston had, in his own mind, already settled the leading


principles of that policy which he formulated later on (February

26, 1841 ) , in the following words. It is evident,' he wrote

to Rear Admiral Elliot and to Captain Elliot , that no exertions

of the Chinese Authorities can put down the opium trade on

the Chinese coast, because the temptation both to the buyers

and to the sellers is stronger than can be counteracted by

any fear of detection and punishment. It is equally clear, that

it is wholly out of the power of the British Government to

prevent opium from being carried to China, because even if

none were grown in any part of the British territories, plenty

of it would be produced in other countries, and would thence

be sent to China by adventurous men, either British or of

other nations. The present state of Chinese law upon this

matter makes the trade illegal ; and illegal trade is always

attended with acts of violence. Battles between Chinese war-

junks and British smugglers have a necessary tendency to

produce unfriendly and embarrassing discussions between the

British and Chinese Governments, or at all events to keep alive

hostile feelings between the British and the Chinese people.

It would seem, therefore, that much additional stability would

be given to the friendly relations between the two countries ,

if the Government of China would make up its mind to legalise

the importation of opium upon payment of a duty sufficiently

moderate to take away from the smuggler the temptation to

endeavour to introduce the commodity without payment of duty.

By this means, also, it is evident that a considerable increase

of revenue might be obtained by the Chinese Government,

because the sums which are now paid as bribes to the custom-

house officers would enter the public coffers in the shape of


The policy of the Chinese Government was for a long

time equally undecided, wavering between legalisation and

extirpation of the opium trade. The counsels of the leading

statesmen of China were divided until the close of the year

1838. But, whilst divided in their opinions as to the desirability

of stamping out the use of opium, and as to the possibility of



preventing smuggling effectively, all the principal statesmen

of China were singularly unanimous in looking at the opium

question not, as we might suppose, from a moral point of

view, but simply and solely as a financial problem . Their

objection to the opium trade was not that it fostered a vice

gnawing at the vitals of the nation, but that it caused the

balance of the trade to turn against China and that it

accordingly drained China of silver and impoverished the

nation. The Chinese author of the above-mentioned Annals

of the Manchu Dynasty, whilst personally holding the same

views of the opium traffic which Elliot held, and occasionally

indulging in elaborate tirades concerning the immorality of

the traffic in opium, gives, as the reasons why the Chinese

Government condemned the trade, purely financial arguments.

Formerly, he says, a rule had been in force, that no silver

was to be exported and that the whole foreign trade should

be conducted by barter, which compelled foreign merchants

annually to import half a million dollars, but, he adds, with

the expansion of the opium trade it came gradually to pass

that a balance of silver had annually to be made up by

China . Thus also a Memorial to the Throne, by Wong

Tseuk-tsz, which contributed much to the victory eventually

scored by the anti-opium party in Peking, argued that the

growing consumption of opium was at the root of all China's

troubles, because silver was becoming scarce and relatively

dear, the value of the tael having advanced from 1,000

to 1,600 cash in price. But since the year 1832, and especially

all through the year 1836, the counsels of the pro-opium

party were decidedly in the ascendant at Peking and in the

provinces. A joint Memorial, presented to the Throne in

1832 by the ex-Viceroy and the Governor of Canton , boldly

recommended the licensing of the opium trade on the ground

that such a measure would reduce the price of opium and

thereby diminish the export of silver, and secretly hinted

that the encouragement of the growth of native opium would

still further impede the avaricious plans and large profits of


the foreigners. Another Memorial, presented to the Throne

in spring 1836, further argued that the legalisation of the

opium trade would bring it under the rules of barter ; that

thereby the baneful effects of the trade, consisting in an annual

loss of over ten million taels inflicted on the currency of the

realm , would be entirely obviated ; but that for this purpose

the Hong Merchants must be made personally responsible for

the conduct of the whole opium trade and for the entire abolition

of the traffic carried on at Lintin ; and that the success of the

scheme depended upon levying such a small duty (seven dollars

a chest) as to cut off all inducement to smugglers to risk their

lives. When the Emperor remitted this Memorial (June 12,

1836 ) for further report , it was generally assumed at Canton

that it was now only a question of framing the regulations for

the detailed organisation of the legalisation scheme. Elliot gave

utterance to an opinion generally entertained at the time in

the best informed official circles of Peking and Canton, when

he wrote to the Foreign Office (October 10, 1836), that he

expected soon receiving the final orders from Peking for the

legalisation of the opium trade. When, a few weeks later

(October 28, 1836 ) , the Viceroy issued orders for the expulsion

from Canton of twelve foreign opium merchants, eight of whom

were British subjects, it was still thought that this measure ,

though rigidly insisted on (November 23 and December 13 ,

1836), was only meant as a blow directed against the Lintin

trade. This surmise was confirmed when an Imperial Edict

(dated January 26, 1837) appeared, which declared the baneful

effects, arising from a prevalence of opium throughout the

Empire, to consist in a daily decrease of fine silver, and

consequently placed a strict interdict on the exportation of sycee

silver, without prohibiting the trade in opium. On February 2,

1837 , Elliot wrote to Lord Palmerston, that he was still of

opinion that the legal admission of opium may be looked for.

That the Lintin trade was the principal, if not exclusive, cause

of objection, was further demonstrated by another Imperial

Edict with reached Canton in August, 1837. This Edict stated


that, whereas the illicit trade, the importation of opium and

exportation of sycee, depended entirely on the receiving ships

stationed at Lintin, the resident foreigners must immediately

be ordered to send those ships away. Elliot accordingly had

four successive demands made upon him to order those ships

to leave China , and finally he was directed to write to his

King and request him to command those ships to leave, and

to prohibit their return to China. Captain Elliot declined to

interfere on the ground that his duties were at Canton and

that he had no power, and he hinted that the Chinese Authorities

were themselves at fault in not recognising him properly as a

Government Officer. But towards the close of the year the

hopes of the legalisation of the opium trade grew fainter and

fainter and Captain Elliot now (December 7 , 1837 ) reported

to Lord Palmerston, that things were in such a condition of

uncertainty that it was impossible to divine what the Chinese

Authorities meant, as they were wandering from project to

project and from blunder to blunder, and that the protection

of British interests demanded that a small naval force should

immediately be stationed in Chinese waters.

Lord Palmerston must have seen the reasonableness of

Captain Elliot's request. But he had by this time determined

upon applying to Chinese affairs his favourite policy of

masterly inaction . So he deliberately left Elliot and the

British community to their fate, unprotected by any fleet ,

and waited to see what the Chinese Government would

really do.

Whilst the British and Chinese Cabinets hesitated as to

the course to be taken , the hangers on of the Lintin trade

pushed matters to a crisis. During the first few months of

the year 1838, the number of foreign cutters and schooners

carrying opium from Lintin to Whampoa increased enormously,

and the deliveries of opium were now frequently accompanied

by conflicts in which fire-arms were used freely. Elliot

discovered that many of these craft were owned by British

subjects, but he was powerless. When he devised (as above


mentioned) some police regulations for the purpose, Lord

Palmerston informed him that he had gone beyond his powers

in doing so. The Cantonese Authorities, irritated by this

incomprehensible inactivity of Elliot, desired to give foreigners

in general a warning, and caused a native, convicted of

smuggling opium and sycee, to be executed under the walls

of Macao (April 13, 1838 ). Trade continued, though under

gloomy apprehensions, as everybody felt that a crisis was

approaching. Things went on, however, quietly enough, until

the close of the year, when ( December 3, 1838 ) some boxes

of opium, that had been brought up to Canton, presumably

from an American ship anchored at Whampoa, were seized in

front of the house of Mr. Innes and discovered to be his

property. The Chinese Authorities immediately ordered both

Mr. Innes and the ship in question to leave Canton waters

within three days (subsequently extended to ten), whilst the

Hong Merchant, who was security for the ship, was at once

exposed in the stocks with a heavy wooden collar round his

neck. This caused great excitement, the more SO as the

other Hong Merchants sent Mr. Innes a written warning

that they were going to pull down his house over his head .

The threat was, however, not carried out, and the excitement

had well nigh subsided, when (December 12, 1888 ) the

Chinese Authorities, resolved to give the foreigners another

lesson to intimidate them, brought a criminal, condemned to

death on a charge of selling opium, and made arrangements

to execute him in the square, right under the windows of the

factories . Some of the foreigners at once protested against

the erection of the tent which was to accommodate the

officials, others pulled down what scaffolding had already

been put up, while a mob of some six thousand natives that

had collected stood by and at first applauded the proceedings

of the foreigners, laughing at the discomfiture of the Chinese

police . But when some foreigners imprudently pushed in

between the mob, and assaulted some of the crowd with

sticks, popular feeling turned against them and the cry


' ta, ta ' (kill them) was raised on all sides. Showers of

stones now forced the foreigners into their houses ; the doors

were hastily barricaded ; a shot was fired, happily without

doing any injury ; the mob were about making preparations

for the entire demolition of the factories, and the life of

every foreigner in Canton was in imminent peril, when the

Authorities sent troops at the last moment and restored

quiet. But the Hong Merchants, whom the Authorities held

responsible for the disturbance, now declared that trade must

be suspended altogether, unless the traffic carried on in small

craft between Lintin and Whampoa were immediately put a

stop to . Elliot would have gladly exceeded his legal powers

to do so, but Lord Palmerston had left him without sufficient

naval support to clear the waters of Canton of an armed

traffic, carried on by the riffraff of every foreign nation,

supported by the Chinese people and secretly participated in

by Chinese officials. All he could do was to make an appeal

to the conscience of the foreign community and to warn the

offenders. He called a public meeting (December 17 , 1838)

and asked the merchants to co-operate with him in his efforts

to stop the traffic between Lintin and Whampoa. But the

reckless foreigners on board the boats down at Whampoa

cared neither for the threatenings of Elliot or the Chinese

Authorities, nor for the general reprobation in which all the

respectable foreign merchants at Canton held this traffic.

Elliot exhausted all his executive powers by serving a notice

upon all British subjects engaged on those boats, which

warned them that, unless they at once left the Canton River,

he would consider them as outlaws and leave them to be

dealt with by the Chinese Authorities. When Elliot issued

this notice (December 18 , 1838 ) , his communications with

the Chinese Government had been interrupted for nearly a

year. It was at this juncture, believing some dreadful calamity

to be impending upon the whole foreign community at Canton,

that Elliot resolved to resume official intercourse with the

Chinese Government at any cost, and accordingly he made


the humiliating concessions above mentioned, consenting to

address the Cantonese Authorities as a humble petitioner and

to receive communications, which really were orders, from

the subordinates of the Governor of Canton city. He sacrificed

his personal and official dignity, because he saw no other way

of preventing a massacre .

However, the Cantonese Authorities were too well aware

of the advantages connected with the continuance of the

foreign trade at Canton, to resort deliberately to any extreme

measures. They had no wish to stop trade altogether, or

even to suppress the fair opium traffic at Canton , but they

were determined to stop the forced traffic between Lintin and

Whampoa, because it evaded the exactions of the higher officials.

The new year ( 1839) opened with gloomy forebodings,

for on the day when trade was re- opened (January 1 , 1839) ,

a rumour spread in Canton that the party at Peking, opposed

to the legalisation of the opium trade, had gained a decided

ascendency in the Imperial councils. And, indeed, while Elliot

was penning a dispatch to Lord Palmerston (January 2, 1839) ,

imploring the Foreign Office for some support under his

embarrassing circumstances, stating also that there was no

time to be lost in providing for the defined and reasonable

control of Her Majesty's subjects in China, the former

Viceroy of Hukwang, Lam Tsak-sü, better known as Com-

missioner Lin, was already on his way, armed with extraordinary

powers as Special Imperial Commissioner and High Admiral.

Lin . had previously distinguished himself as an uncompromising

anti-opium agitator and now, whilst travelling along the

wearisome route from Peking to Canton, he concocted an

elaborate scheme to entrap all the opium dealers and to

extirpate the whole opium traffic by one fell blow, besides

bringing the Cantonese Authorities once for all to book for

their connivance at, and share in , the opium trade . The news

of his approach caused, indeed, all the local officials, from the

Viceroy down to the Hong Merchants, to quake in their

shoes. Accordingly the opium traffic was actually stopped


for several months before Lin's arrival, and the Authorities

bestirred themselves to make a show of serious repressive

measures. They now (January 10, 1839) issued a notification

strictly prohibiting the conveyance of opium from Lintin to

Whampoa, and further (January 16 , 1839) called upon all

foreign merchants to pledge their word that they would have

nothing whatever to do with the smuggling of opium or with

the exportation of silver. Again, acting upon advance orders

sent on ahead by Commissioner Lin, the Viceroy now ordered

the backdoors of the factories to be blocked up and set a

watch in front . Having thus shut in the foreign community,

the Viceroy and the Governor issued (January 30, 1839 ) a

joint proclamation addressed directly, without the intervention

of the Hong Merchants, to all foreign merchants. In this

proclamation foreigners were told that the Imperial Commissioner

Lin, sent from Peking to extirpate the whole opium traffic ,

was hourly expected to arrive in Canton. The Viceroy and

Governor even added , in their zeal, what was entirely against

Lin's plan, that the foreign merchants must at once send

all the warehousing vessels, anchored in the outer seas,

away. These orders were enhanced by the threat that, in

case of disobedience, trade would be brought to an end for

ever. The real sting of the proclamation was, however,

when read in the light of the newly established blockade of

the factories, in the words ' thus are the lives of all you

foreigners in our grasp.'

This blockade of the factories and the imprisonment of

the whole foreign community was, indeed, the indispensable

preliminary to the execution of Lin's deeeply laid scheme.

Having thus caught the whole of the foreign merchants in hist

net, Lin, to keep them busy, allowed the legitimate trade to

continue unmolested for the present, and proceeded first of all

to examine the high officials and the gentry of Canton as to

the detailed history of the opium traffic, censuring some and

cashiering others. But he at once ordered measures to be taken

to intimidate the foreign merchants further by the strangling


of a Chinese opium dealer (February 26 , 1839 ) . in front of

the factories and in the presence of a formidable array of Chinese

troops . Further, to cut off their eventual retreat to Macao,

he ordered the Bogue forts to be guarded by a fleet, and a

blockade of Macao to be commenced by land and sea .

To prevent a collision, now imminent, Elliot ordered (March

7 , 1839 ) all English-owned passage boats to remain outside the

Bogue. But, thinking English residents at Macao to be at the

moment in greater peril than those at Canton, Elliot proceeded,

with the permission of the Chinese officials (March 10 , 1839 )

to Macao, where, to his great relief he found H.M. sloop Larne

which had just arrived . On passing through the Bogue, Elliot

had noticed that large numbers of fire-rafts and war junks

were being collected there, in evident preparation of an attack

on the foreign merchant shipping anchored at Lintin, and on

arrival at Macao he found active measures in progress for an

effective blockade. After making all necessary arrangements

with Captain Blake, the commander of the Larne, for the

protection of British residents at Macao, and ordering all British

ships in Chinese waters immediately to rendezvous, for mutual

protection, in the harbour of Hongkong, Elliot hastened back

to Canton, and, although finding every outlet of the Canton

River guarded by Chinese cruizers , he pushed resolutely on .

Having heard, en route, of fresh perils of his countrymen at

Canton, and believing that some desperate calamity would ensue

unless he reached Canton at once, he pluckily forced his way,

unarmed, in a small but fast-sailing gig of the Larne, manned

by four blue-jackets, through the successive cordons of Chinese

soldiery, until, he reached, at the imminent risk of his life, the

British factories. Elliot's arrival (March 24, 1839 ) revived the

drooping spirits of the foreign community who were at the

moment in sore perplexity, and the sight of the English flag

waving proudly and defiantly from the factory tower, where,

in place of the demolished flagstaff, the ensign staff of the

Larne's gig had been put up by Elliot's order, inspired every

heart with fresh courage .


During Elliot's absence, the Imperial Commissioner Lin

had sent to the foreign merchants (March 18, 1839 ) a demand

for the surrender of all opium stored on board ships in Chinese

waters, threatening them with their lives if the order were

not obeyed forthwith. While the merchants were deliberating

what to do, the Hoppo, acting under Lin's orders, prohibited

foreigners, some of whom now sought to get away, retreating

to Macao (March 19 , 1839 ) and took measures to cut off

all communication with Whampoa and the outside shipping.

At the same time the factories were surrounded by a stockade

and a triple cordon of Chinese troops on land, and by a

semi-circular bridge formed by war junks on the river side.

When these measures were complete (March 21 , 1839 ) , the

demand of the surrender of all opium was repeated. The General

Chamber of Commerce now sought to appease the Authorities by

an offer to surrender 1037 chests of opium, but the offer was

contemptuously rejected, and Mr. Lancelot Dent, being supposed

to have under his orders six thousand chests of opium, was now

(March 22 , 1839 ) summoned to appear in person before the

Imperial Commissioner and to surrender himself forthwith at

the city gate. Naturally, all the foreign merchants made

common cause with him and it was unanimously resolved that

he should not go. Thereupon all Chinese servants were ordered

to leave the factories, and all supplies of fresh water and

provisions were cut off. Moreover, the senior Hong Merchants

(How-qua, senior, and Mow-qua) , loaded with iron chains

fastened round their necks, were now ( March 3, 1839 ) sent to the

factories, under the charge of the Prefect of Canton, with

orders, under pains of immediate decapitation, to bring Mr.

Dent with them into the city. The whole foreign community,

however, declared that he should not go, and when the Hong

Merchants affirmed that it would really cost them their lives

if they went away without him, Mr. Inglis pluckily volunteered

to go in place of Mr. Dent, if three others would accompany

him . This offer, readily accepted by the Prefect as a happy

compromise, was at once acted upon by three other gentlemen,


Thom, Slade and Fearon . The four heroes proceeded accordingly,

with the Prefect and the Hong Merchants, into the city and

were examined, at the temple of the Queenof Heaven, by a

Committee of the highest local officers, under the Governor's

orders, viz . the Chief Justice, the Treasurer, the Grain Intendant

and the Commissioner of the Salt Gabelle. These high officials

were so struck with admiration of the bravery of the four

Englishmen, that, after briefly examining them, they allowed

them to return to the factories unmolested . Next day, however,

the demand for Mr. Dent's surrender was renewed and the

foreign community were just deliberating what was to be done

now, when Elliot arrived in their midst , took Mr. Dent under

his arm and carried him off to his own room, informing the

Chinese officers that he would rather surrender his own life-

than that of any Englishman under his charge.

On the following day (March 25 , 1839) , whilst the foreign

merchants signed bonds, pledging themselves not to deal in

opium nor to introduce it in China in any way, Captain Elliot

applied to the Viceroy, respectfully claiming passports for all

English ships and people at Canton, adding that , unless these

passports were granted within the space of three days, he would

be reluctantly driven to the conclusion that the men and ships

of his country were forcibly detained, and act accordingly. The

Chinese Authorities took no notice of this covert threat, well

knowing that H.M. sloop Larne could not engage the Bogue forts

single-handed . If anything were wanted to prove that , even

in this opium contest, the real question at issue was the absolute

supremacy of China over England, the reply, which Elliot now

received from the Viceroy Tang Ching-ch'ing, would prove it .

Elliot had, at the close of his letter, expressed a regret that

the peace between the two countries ' (meaning of course China

and England) was placed in imminent jeopardy by the late

unexplained and alarming proceedings of the Chinese Authorities.

The Viceroy, in reply, stated that he could not understand what

Elliot meant by the two countries ' ; that of course he could

not possibly mean to compare England with China, which would


be absolutely preposterous, because all regions under heaven

were in humble submission to the Government of China, while

the heaven-like goodness of the Emperor overshadowed all ; and

that the English nation and the Americans had, by their trade

in Canton , of all those nations in subjection, enjoyed the largest

6 Therefore,' argued the sarcastic Viceroy,

measure of favour.

I presume, it must be England and America, that are conjointly

named " the two countries," but the meaning of the language

is greatly wanting in perspicuity.'

However, Elliot's application for passports was peremptorily

refused, as also another application he made on the same day,

begging that servants, water and food supplies might be restored

to the foreign community. He was reminded in reply that Mr.

Dent had not yet been surrendered and that the Imperial

Commissioner was determined to get possession of all the opium

now in China.

The foreign community, thus officially informed that they

were prisoners, calmly prepared for the worst . But they were

in a sad plight , for they were absolutely without any servants,

without fresh water, without fresh provisions, and had to live,

at short rations, upon what they had in their cupboards.

During the next few days, sundry Chinese officials overwhelmed

Elliot with complaints that he was the cause of all the troubles,

that Mr. Dent would have surrendered if Elliot had not

appeared on the scene, and that Elliot's preposterous notions of

international equality had caused the present refractoriness of

the foreign merchants and the delay in the delivery of the

opium. When these complaints were found to be of no avail,

the officials used threats, informing Elliot that the Imperial

Commissioner Lin had hitherto taken no action because ' he

cannot bear to destroy ere he has instructed,' and that therefore

Elliot had been allowed a few days' grace, but he should not

have servants or provisions, and the opium must be delivered

at once.

These were no idle threats. The factories were surrounded

by masses of Chinese soldiery, all longing for plunder ;


combustibles of all sorts were brought to the spot, and on

the evening of March 26, 1839, there was not a foreigner in

the factories but was convinced that the Chinese were ready

to do the worst. After an anxious night, spent in deliberation,

and feeling constrained by paramount motives affecting the

safety of the lives and liberty of all the foreigners at Canton ,

Elliot issued, at 6 o'clock, on the morning of March 27 , 1839 ,

a public notice to British subjects, requiring them to deliver

up to him all British-owned opium , either in their possession

or under their control, holding him, on behalf of Her Majesty's

Government, responsible, and leaving it to Her Majesty's

Government hereafter to define the principles on which the

proof of British property and the value of British opium

should be determined . Two days later (March 28, 1839 ) ,

Elliot informed the Imperial Commissioner, that he was

prepared to deliver up 20,283 chests of British- owned opium.

In reply, Elliot was ordered by the Prefect of Canton to

give further detailed information as to the places where the

several amounts of opium were stored, and he was supplied

with various instructions as to the arrangements to be made

for the delivery of the opium. When Elliot, however, once

more requested that servants and food supplies be restored to

the prisoners, the Prefect informed him that no such indulgence

could be allowed until the delivery of the opium had commenced.

After several days spent in discussions of the mode of securing

the delivery of all the opium on board the different ships, it

was finally agreed by Commissioner Lin (April 2 , 1839 ) , that

Mr. Johnston, the Second Superintendent, should proceed under

a guard of Chinese officials and, armed with written orders of

Captain Elliot, bring all the ships up to the anchorage of

Lankeet, in sections of two ships at a time, to discharge the

opium there. Commissioner Lin then promised, that on

completing delivery of one-fourth of the opium, the compradores

and servants should be restored to the prisoners ; that on

completing delivery of one-half of the opium, the passage boats

should be allowed to resume communication with the ships ;


that on delivery of three-fourths of the opium, trade should

be re-opened ; and, he added pompously, on delivery of the whole

being completed, everything should return to the ordinary

condition and a request should be laid before the Throne that

encouragements and rewards might be conferred . But Lin

further added, that, if there should be any erroneous delay for

three days, the supply of fresh water should be cut off ; if for

three days more there should be like delay, the supplies of food

should be cut off, and if such delay should continue still three

days longer, the criminal laws should forthwith be maintained

and enforced.

Mr. Johnston having left Canton, the imprisonment of the

foreign community, numbering over two hundred persons,

continued as rigorously as before, until April 17 , 1839 , when

the servants were tardily allowed to return to the factories and

food supplies were again obtainable. Meanwhile, however, the

prisoners were still guarded day and night by Chinese soldiers,

posted at their doors with drawn swords and instructed to cut

down any one who should make an attempt to escape. Both

the merchants and Captain Elliot were repeatedly worried by

demands to sign a fresh bond handing over to capital punishment

any of their countrymen who should hereafter deal in opium,

and professing abject submission to China's claim of supremacy.

No one signed the bond and the confinement continued .

The above detailed promises of Lin were by no means

faithfully adhered to. The servants were not restored as soon

as one-fourth of the opium was delivered ; the boats were not

permitted to run when one-half was delivered ; and the promise

that things should go on as usual on completion of the opium

delivery was falsified by reducing the factories to a prison with

one outlet , by the perpetual expulsion of sixteen merchants,

some of whom had never dealt in opium at all (as some clerks

and a lad were included), and by the introduction of novel and

unbearable regulations. Not until May 4 , 1839 , did the

imprisonment of the foreign community at Canton come to an

end. On that day, trade was declared re-opened and two days


later fifty foreign merchants, known to have had no direct

dealings in opium, were allowed to depart for Whampoa en route

for Macao. Elliot, however, and the other merchants were

still detained in custody as hostages until the delivery of the

opium was completed (May 21 , 1839 ) . Then Elliot was

graciously allowed to leave, but the permission was coupled

with the demand now made that sixteen of the principal British

merchants should remain in custody as a punishment for dealing

in opium . Elliot refused to leave without them, and, after

protracted negotiations, he at last (May 27 , 1829) obtained their

discharge on their signing a bond, guaranteeing that they would

never return to China. By the end of May the exodus of British

merchants and British shipping from Canton waters was

complete. American merchants remained and became a favoured


Lin had gained a victory . He had succeeded in stopping

for a time the trade in opium. But his seeming success had

been gained only by driving British trade away from Canton

in a manner eventually resulting in the establishment of a British

Colony at Hongkong, which in turn deprived Canton of all

its former commercial importance. He had also succeeded in

obtaining forcible possession of over twenty-four million dollars

worth of British-owned opium which it took him weeks (until

June 1 , 1839 ) to destroy with quick-lime in pits dug on the

sea shore at Chinkau, near the Bogue, and the full value of which

China had to repay a few years later.


This affair has been well managed,' wrote the Emperor

to Lin, but the verdiet of the vermilion pencil is not always

the verdict of history, and six months later Queen Victoria

stated, in her Speech from the Throne (January, 1840 ) , that

events had happened in China which deeply affected the interests

of her subjects and the dignity of her crown .'




1839 to 1841 .

THE Imperial Commissioner Lin had been instructed by

the Government of Peking to do two things, both of which

were equally impossible, viz. to extirpate the opium traffic, root

and branch, but at the same time to secure the continuance at

Canton of the legitimate foreign trade under the old 1egime.

When Lin arrived in Canton, he found the opium trade stagnant

and its worst features, the forced trade between Lintin and

Whampoa, entirely cut off through the vigorous action, resorted

to at the last moment, of the Cantonese Authorities. Had he

confined himself to do the only thing possible, viz . to seek to

initiate measures tending to bring about, in course of time, a

moral regeneration of the Chinese nation, so as to reduce the

demand for opium to the lowest possible minimum, and at

the same time to introduce a moral reform of the mode of

conducting the opium trade, so as to prevent the recurrence of its

glaring abuses, he might have done some good and paved the

way for an eventual peaceful solution of this complicated opium

problem. But his instructions, based as they were on his own

original violent recommendations to the Throne, pledged him to

an extreme policy, impossible to carry out and necessarily

resulting in giving the opium trade a new impetus, besides

convincing at last even the people in England that, apart from

the opium question, the legitimate trade itself could not be

carried on, in a manner compatible with England's dignity,

under the old conditions.


For four months before Lin's arrival at Canton (February,

1829 ) , the opium market had been overstocked and hardly any

sales had taken place. The great bulk of the supply of 1838

had remained unsold, owing to the energetic measures taken

in the inland districts, all through the southern provinces, to

repress the consumption . The immense stock of the year 1839

was just commencing to arrive from India where, on the very

day when over 20,000 chests were surrendered in Canton, sales

were either impossible or ruinous, because the prices in China

had fallen to between two or three hundred per cent. below the

cost of production and charges. Under these circumstances, to

rob the holders of opium of the stock which glutted the market ,

and to destroy over 20,000 chests of opium for which Elliot

paid the owners at the rate of £ 120 a chest, by twelve months'

bills on the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, was not to

extinguish the trade but to give it a fresh fillip by relieving

an overglutted market from the depressing weight of stocks .

After March 24, 1839, when 20,283 chests of opium, which

the holders could not have sold without ruin , were surrendered

to Lin, prices recovered and the opium traffic was carried on

with greater vigour and yielded larger profits than ever. By

binding sixteen men, among whom were some of the foremost

English merchants, gentlemen of high culture and refined

feelings, to abstain from all future participation in the opium

trade, which promise they all adhered to honourably, Lin merely

helped to drive the opium trade into the hands of a lower and

less scrupulous set of merchants. Lin's opium policy was an

utter failure.

His policy with regard to the legitimate foreign trade was,

moreover, equally unfortunate, because based on an utter mis-

conception of the character and power of the English, whom

Lin, like Napoleon, supposed to be nothing but a nation of

shopkeepers, whose lives and fortunes depended upon the supply

of Chinese tea, silk and rhubarb. His utter disregard of the

sacredness which Britain attributes to the life, the liberty and

the property of others, his reckless assumption that civilised



foreigners, temporarily residing in China, must submit themselves

to the barbarous code of Chinese penal laws and to the corrupt

judicial process of Chinese tribunals, his open and undisguised

determination to hold one set of foreign merchants responsible

with their lives for the doings of others not under their control,

his absurd affirmation of the sovereignty of China over Great

Britain and other foreign nations, and finally his persistent

refusal to give to Her Majesty's Representative in China a

dignified official status, all these measures of Lin, as the typical

representative of Chinese mandarindom, served only to force

upon the English people, aroused at last from their apathy by

the startling news of the imprisonment of the whole foreign

community, the conviction that some serious alterations in British

relations with the Chinese Empire were necessary and that

British commerce could never be safely carried on, and certainly

could never flourish in a country where British property are

alike at the mercy of a capricious, corrupt and inordinately

conceited Government . Driven out from Canton, and feeling

that British trade with China must henceforth be carried on

within sight of British shipping aud close to the sea, on which

Great Britain can hold her own against all comers , both Elliot

and the British merchants now turned a deaf ear to all Lin's

proposals for a reopening of trade, even under new regulations,

at Canton or Whampoa. Forty-two British firms signed (May

23, 1889) a Memorial addressed to Lord Palmerston, in which

they complained of the insincerity of the Canton Authorities

in their dealing with the opium trade which these Authorities had

themselves encouraged and supported for so many years, and

of the violent measures of Commissioner Lin which made it a

matter of pressing necessity to place the general trade of British

subjects in China upon a secure and permanent basis . British

merchants had no wish now to return to Canton under any

circumstances. Their eyes were turned in the direction of Macao.

Even before the imprisonment of the foreign community

at Canton had come to an end, Elliot had managed, with great

difficulty and risks, to send a message from Canton (April 13,


1839) to the Governor of Macao, throwing himself and all Her

Majesty's subjects by anticipation under the protection of the

Portuguese Government, and offering at the same time, on

behalf of the British Government, immediate facilities on the

British Treasury for the purpose of putting Macao in a state of

effectual defence and of equipping some armed vessels to keep

the coast clear. The Portuguese Governor, A. A. da Silveira

Pinto, in reply (April 13 , 1839 ), declined this offer on the

ground that his very peculiar position compelled him to observe

a strict neutrality as long as possible or until there should be

evidence of the imminent peril which, he said, Elliot seemed to

fear. Governor Pinto failed to understand that the imprisonment

of the foreign community and of Her Majesty's Representative

in China was in itself tantamount to a declaration of war. As

soon as the Canton imprisonment came to an end, Captain Elliot

(May 6 , 1839 ) wrote to Lord Palmerston stating that access to

Macao was now a matter of indispensable necessity for British

trade in China, and that the settlement of Macao could easily

be placed in a state of effective defence. He recommended that

Lord Palmerston should conclude an immediate arrangement

with the Government of Macao, either for the cession of the

Portuguese claims to the place, or for its effectual defence and

its appropriation to British uses by means of a subsidiary


By the time the Canton prisoners were free to leave and

began to take refuge at Macao, Governor Pinto had reason to

observe that Commissioner Lin's policy was as hostile to the

interests of Portuguese as to those of the British merchants.

Governor Pinto had ordered off all opium stored at Macao and

sent it (3,000 chests) to Manila, where it was safe from Lin's

clutches ; but the revenue of Macao, previously amounting to

$100,000 a year, chiefly levied on the opium trade, had now

dwindled down to next to nothing, and, besides, the Chinese

now began to blockade Macao on the land side and Commis-

sioner Lin coolly proposed to take charge of the Portuguese

fortifications. Under the influence of these circumstances


Governor Pinto gave the British refugees at first a cordial

welcome. It seemed, indeed , as if the Government of Macao

would make common cause with the British in their hour of

distress. But Commissioner Lin interfered . As soon as Elliot

requested Lin to send a special deputy to Macao to confer with

him as to the continuance of the trade, and asked for permission

to make Macao henceforth the headquarters of British commerce

in China, Lin set to work to turn the mind of Governor Pinto

against the British. Lin now relinquished his claim to occupy

the forts of Macao and promised the Governor to leave him .

in undisturbed possession of the settlement, on condition that

the Macao Government should aid him in the suppression of

the opium traffic and in driving out the English from the

place. Lin was determined to force British trade back to

Whampoa and Canton, because he had pledged his word to

the Emperor that, after extirpating the opium trade, he would

soon be able to report the peaceful resumption of the regular

British trade at Canton.

There is no evidence to show that Governor Pinto entered

into any definite understanding with Lin on the subject, but

within three months after the arrival of the British refugees

at Macao, they all felt more or less that they had ceased to be

welcome guests , and that the Governor had fallen back upon

his original position of strict neutrality.

Lin was massing troops around Macao and had also ordered

a camp to be erected opposite Hongkong on the point called

Tsimshatsui, which, as part of the Kowloon peninsula, protrudes

into the harbour of Hongkong. Lin's object was, whilst driving

out the British from Macao, to disturb at the same time their

shipping in Hongkong harbour, so as to compel the British

merchants to come back into his loving arms at Canton.

Whilst these measures were in course of preparation, an

event happened, which caused a great deal of trouble to Elliot .

Some American sailors and British lascars, belonging to the

merchant ships which, for mutual protection and defence, had

taken refuge in Hongkong harbour (since March 24, 1839 ) ,


went on shore one evening (July 7 , 1839) at Tsimshatsui, and

got into a drunken fray with the Chinese, in the course of which

a Chinaman, named Lin Wai-hi, was killed . Elliot at once

hastened to Hongkong and held a strict inquiry, terminating in

the criminal trial of some lascars by a British jury. But there

was no evidence whatever bringing home the charge of

manslaughter to any one. The Chinese Government had been

invited by Elliot to send some officers to witness the trial, but

Lin claimed the jurisdiction for himself, sent no officer to watch

the case and made a great clamour demanding of Elliot, again.

and again, that he should surrender the murderer or some British

subject in his place. Lin, moreover, now demanded , in the

most peremptory terms, that Elliot and all British merchants

should at once sign a bond declaring that hereafter British

subjects charged with any crime should at once be handed over

to the Chinese Government to be tried according to Chinese

forms of proceeding (involving examination by torture both of

the accused and his witnesses) and to be executed according to

the methods in vogue in China.

Poor Lin, he could not understand that the day for making

such demands had entirely gone by, and that, by insisting upon

them , he effectually defeated his own scheme of bringing British

trade back to Canton . But he blindly rushed on in his mad

career. He now ordered the Chinese sub-Prefect of Macao to

withdraw all Chinese servants from British residents at Macao

(July 21 , 1889 ) . Later on, he formally interdicted (August 15,

1839) the supply of provisions of any kind to British persons or

ships. When British residents at Macao supplied the places of

their Chinese servants with Portuguese, Lin forthwith requested

Governor Pinto to prohibit Portuguese subjects either serving

the British as domestic servants or supplying them with food

or drink, and issued edict after edict, ordering the departure

of British subjects on pain of severe punishment, and declaring

them all to be responsible with their lives for the surrender

of the murderer of Lin Wai-hi. A provisional Committee of

a British Chamber of Commerce had been formed at Macao


(August 3, 1839), Mr. James Mathieson acting as Chairman ,

Mr. Scott. (the Secretary of the former Canton Chamber) as

Secretary , and Messrs . J. H. Astell, G. Braine, W. Bell, G. Smith

and Hinshaw Furdonjee as provisional Committee . Captain

Elliot now consulted them and, acting in accord with their

views, informed a public meeting of the British community.

at Macao (August 21 , 1839) that, whereas the Chinese Imperial

Commissioner had prohibited the Governor of Macao rendering

any assistance to British subjects, he was unwilling to compromise

Portuguese interests any further and proposed to leave Macao

and to take refuge on board the ships in Hongkong harbour

as soon as possible. Two days afterwards Captain Elliot and

his family removed from Macao, Governor Pinto having made

no declaration of his willingness that his English guests should

remain. The whole British community meanwhile hastened to

wind up their local business affairs and prepared for another

exodus. The general excitement was increased by a disgraceful

outrage, committed by the Chinese on the crew and a passenger

(all British) of a small schooner (Black Joke) , plying between

Macao and Hongkong as a passage boat, when (with one

exception) the whole crew were murdered and the passenger

(Mr. Moss) horribly mutilated (August 24, 1839 ) . The

provisional Committee of the British Chamber of Commerce,

in almost daily session after Elliot's departure, had frequent

interviews with Governor Pinto, who was evidently in a great

state of alarm, though he expressed his determination to afford

the British community all the protection and aid in his power.

However, on the evening of August 25, he told the Committee

that he could not answer for the safety of British subjects

remaining in Macao for more than eighteen hours longer. The

Committee accordingly convened a public meeting the same night

and it was resolved to leave Macao the following day. The night

was spent in watching for an armed attack expected to be made

simultaneously on all British houses by the Chinese soldiery.

Nothing happened, however, and at noon on Monday, August 26 ,

1839, the second British exodus commenced . Men, women and


children, with bag and baggage, were hurried through the streets

of Macao amidst a terrible excitement of the whole population ,

expecting every moment a massacre by the Chinese soldiery.

The refugees assembled on the Praya in the presence of Governor

Pinto who had the whole of the Portuguese troops (some 400

Indian lascars and 500 Caffre slaves) under arms, and embarked

hurriedly on board British ships, lorchas, schooners and boats

of all descriptions, which immediately set sail for Hongkong

harbour, a mournful procession, to seek refuge on board the

ships at Hongkong.

One might well suppose that now at last the time had come

for the establishment of a British Colony on the island of

Hongkong, but no such thought was entertained yet . Driven

out from Canton , bowed out of Macao, forced to retreat to

the ships anchored in the harbour of Hongkong, the British

merchants looked back with regret to the flesh pots of Macao.

The appearance of affairs at Hongkong was indeed depressing.

On one side of the harbour there was a well-nigh barren rock,

unable to supply provisions for the two thousand British subjects.

now crowded together on shipboard in a starving condition, and

on the other side they beheld a large Chinese camp in process

of construction on Kowloon peninsula, with two shore batteries

on Tsimshatsui, one at the present Craig Millar and the other

near the site of the present Military Barracks, commanding the

best portions of the anchorage. These were not encouraging

sights . Provisions were obtainable with great difficulty from

Chinese junks and bum-boats, but prices were very high. No

wonder that fresh negotiations now commenced with Governor

Pinto. Captain Elliot, established on board the ship Fort

William, which subsequently for many years graced the harbour

of Hongkong as a receiving hulk, wrote to Governor Pinto

(September 1 , 1839) , offering to send all the British subjects

back to Macao, anl to place at the Governor's disposal H.M.S.

Volage which had just arrived, and a force of 800 to 1000

men for the defence of the Portuguese settlement. Elliot

remarked at the same time, with reference to certain Chinese


official documents in his possession, that the action of the

Chinese Government, in praising and thanking the Portuguese

Authorities for assisting them in driving forth the British

people,' was no doubt an infamous calumny, which must have

been a source of deep chagrin to the Governor. Here was

another chance for the Portuguese Government of preventing,

at the last moment, the establishment of a rival Colony at

Hongkong, and of making the fortune of Macao. But Adriao

Accacio da Silveira Pinto, Governor of Macao and its Depen-

dencies, impelled no doubt by foolish instructions from Lisbon,

slammed the door in the face of the British community. He

replied (September 3, 1839 ), in stiff but stately terms, that he

could not cease to preserve the most strict neutrality between

the Chinese and British nations, and added that the British

subjects, having retired of their own accord from Macao with

a view of not compromising the Portuguese establishment, had

by this step placed themselves under the necessity of not

landing there again so long as all the difficulties now existing

between the Chinese and the English should continue unsettled .

When Governor Pinto sealed this letter, he sealed the doom

of Macao's prosperity as a Colony and virtually established


Nevertheless the time for Hongkong, though now seemingly

near at hand, had not come yet . Elliot was, on the one hand,

determined not to locate British trade again within the Bogue,

but, on the other hand, he was averse to the idea of settling on

the island of Hongkong, probably on account of its inability

to furnish provisions and on account of the proximity of the

Kowloon peninsula then occupied by Chinese troops. When

Elliot, seeing the scarcity of provisions, went with Dr. Gützlaff

in two small boats (September 4, 1839 ) to induce the villagers

near Kowloon city to furnish the fleet with provisions, three

Chinese war junks and the battery at Kowloon pier (still in

existence) opened fire upon them, which was gallantly returned

by Elliot's boats, and the junks were driven off. As to the

merchants, they likewise do not appear to have entertained any


desire yet to settle on Hongkong. They now (September 7 ,

1839) addressed a Memorial to Lord Palmerston, which was

signed by twenty-eight British firms, representing thirty-eight

sea-going British ships assembled in Hongkong Bay. But in

this Memorial there is not a word as to the establishment of

a British Colony. The memorialists complained of having been

driven out from Canton and from Macao. They stated that

they left Macao under a perfect conviction that such a course

was imperatively necessary for the general safety . They also

repeated their former declaration that, after the violent acts of

Commissioner Lin, the return of British subjects to Canton

would be alike dangerous to themselves and to the property of

their constituents and derogatory to the honour of their country,

' until such time as the power of the British Government might

convince the Chinese Authorities that such outrages would not

be endured.' These last words appear to indicate that the British

merchants expected speedy succour from home, the effective

punishment of the Cantonese Authorities, and finally re-estab-

lishment of the whole British community, on a new basis of

international equality, at Canton or Macao. Hongkong had no

chance yet.

Meanwhile Commissioner Lin, after arranging for a

re-opening of trade with Macao, on condition that the British

should remain excluded from the port, and after strengthening

the defences of Tsimshatsui, set to work to cajole the American

and other foreign merchants to remain in or return to Canton,

and did everything he could to bring about a division among

the British merchants and to set them against Elliot . Lin now

looked upon Elliot as the only hindrance in his way, and

accordingly charged him, in public proclamations, with all sorts

of crimes, in order to arouse among the Chinese people a strong

feeling against Elliot. Lin also directed the Magistrates of

neighbouring districts to issue proclamations prohibiting, under

severe penalties, the supply of provisions to the British fleet,

and commanding the people to fire upon British subjects

whenever they went on shore.


In consequence of these proceedings Captain Smith, in

command of H.M.S. Volage, gave notice of his intention of estab-

lishing a blockade of the port of Canton ( September 11 , 1839 ) ,

but when the Cantonese Authorities thereupon promised to

withdraw the offensive proclamations, the blockade was suspended

five days later. Negotiations now commenced afresh concerning

Elliot's desire to bring the British community back to Macao.

Captains Elliot and Smith had an interview ( September 24, 1839 )

with the Chinese Sub- Prefect of Macao, in the presence of

Governor Pinto, endeavouring to find a basis of agreement

between Elliot and Lin. Elliot was determined not to re-open

trade inside the Bogue . Lin was equally determined not to

let the British return to Macao. Accordingly it was proposed.

on the Chinese side, as a compromise, that British trade should

henceforth be conducted at Chuenpi, under the guns of the

Bogue forts. Lin proposed also a series of new trade regulations,

the leading ideas of which were that the Hong Merchants'

monopoly of supervising and conducting the trade as responsible

mediators should continue, and that cargoes should be at the

risk of the ship until laid down at Canton, and at the risk of

the Hong Merchants until shipped on board. This compromise

would have had a good chance of success, had not Lin coupled

with it the impossible stipulation that every merchant , before

participating in the trade, should sign a bond, agreeing that

all British subjects in China should be subject to trial and

capital punishment by Chinese tribunals according to the

provisions of the Penal Code of China. Captain Elliot having

asked a representative Committee of British merchants (Messrs .

H. Wright, G. T. Braine, W. Wallace and Wilkinson Dent)

to advise him on the subject of the proposed trade regulations,

the Committee, after consultation with the Hong Merchants,

stated (October 22, 1839) that in their opinion a trade under

the proposed new plan could not be commenced until the British


community had returned to Macao. Individuals from among

the British community indeed went back to Macao whilst these

negotiations proceeded . A British ship (Thomas Coutts) , the


master of which (Captain Warner), acting under legal advice

obtained in India, signed the bond of submission to Chinese

criminal jurisdiction, entered the Bogue in defiance of Elliot's

prohibition. The ship was admitted to trade and liberally treated

by the Chinese who were anxious that other British skippers

should follow the example of Captain Warner.

When Elliot informed Lin of his inability to approve of

British trade being re-opened on the proposed basis at Chuenpi,

Lin sent to Elliot (October 26 , 1839 ) a peremptory demand

that all British ships should leave the coast of China within

three days, unless the bond of submission to Chinese criminal

jurisdiction were signed at once. Captain Elliot, being aware

that Lin followed up this demand by preparing numbers of fire-

ships and assembling a large fleet of war-junks, to attack the

British ships in Hongkong Bay, and considering the anchorage

in Tungku Bay to be less liable to surprise by fire-ships, now

ordered all the British ships anchored at Hongkong to remove to

Tungku. But the commanders of thirty-five ships at Hongkong,

and the heads of twenty British firms, together with the agents

for Lloyds and for eleven Insurance Offices, protested repeatedly

(October 26 and November 9, 1839) against this order. They

were of opinion that Tungku anchorage was less safe and that ,

if Hongkong were deserted , the Chinese would occupy and fortify

the Island . The merchant ships accordingly remained , for the

present, anchored in Hongkong Harbour.

Captain Smith (H.M.S. Volage) was under strict injunctions.

from the Admiralty to avoid by all means possible any collision

with the Chinese. Observing, however, the daily increase of

troops in the neighbourhood of the shipping at Hongkong,

and the erection of batteries approaching now the beach, he

resolved to make a decided stand against further encroachments.

Accordingly he proposed (October 28, 1839 ) to deliver at the

Bogue forts a letter addressed to Commissioner Lin , demanding

that the warlike and hostile proclamations should be withdrawn

and British merchants allowed to reside at Macao. Captain

Elliot, having agreed to this measure, went the same day on


the Volage which, together with H.M.S. Hyacinth (Captain

Warren), proceeded forthwith to the Bogue forts, where Com-

missioner Lin and Viceroy Tang were at the time inspecting

the forts, fire-ships, and a fleet of twenty-nine powerful war-

junks under the command of Admiral Kwan (a direct descendant

of Kwan Ti, the god of war) . On arrival at the Bogue on the

morning of November 2, 1839, Captain Smith sent to Admiral

Kwan a letter addressed to Commissioner Lin and Viceroy Tang.

This letter, written in Chinese, contained a demand that , within

three days, a proclamation should be published withdrawing

the official orders for the destruction of English cargo ships ,

and permitting English merchants and families to reside on

shore and to be furnished with servants and supplies until the

commands of the Queen of England could be received for

the adjustment of all difficulties. In forwarding this letter by

an Interpreter ( Mr. Morrison) , Captain Smith informed the

Admiral that he would wait for the reply of Lin and Tang and

that the boat conveying the reply should carry a white flag.

Admiral Kwan civilly promised to submit the letter to their

Excellencies, but expressed a wish that the two frigates should

meanwhile move down a little further. Captain Smith im-

mediately complied with this request to show his sincerity.

Instead of forwarding a reply, however, Admiral Kwan twice

sent for Mr. Morrison to visit him, which requests were refused,

on the ground that Captain Smith's letter stated all that was

needful. Next morning, in the course of the forenoon (November

3, 1839 ) , the Chinese squadron, under Admiral Kwan, broke

ground and stood out towards Her Majesty's ships, which were

immediately got under weigh and directed towards the appro-

aching force. As soon as the Chinese observed this proceeding,

their squadron anchored in good order to the number of

twenty-nine sail, and Her Majesty's ships were hove to, whilst

a message was sent by Captain Smith to the war-junks, requesting

them instantly to return to the anchorage north of Chuenpi.

In reply Admiral Kwan stated that, if the murderer of Lin

Wai-hi were at once surrendered to him , he would draw back


his force to the Bogue, but not otherwise. The Admiral, at

the same time, returned Captain Smith's original letter, addressed

to Lin and Tang, without an answer. This was plain enough

and forthwith ensued the Battle of Chaenpi. As it is the

first naval engagement between Chinese and English ships of

war that history knows of, a detailed account of it, both from

Chinese and English sources, will be of interest .

According to Chinese history the Battle of Chuenpi arose

out of Elliot's sending two men-of-war to the Bogue with a

petition that the Chinese should have mercy on the British

ships at Tsimshatsui and not destroy them, so that he might

wait for dispatches from England . Admiral Kwan returned

the petition unanswered because the English refused to surrender

the murderer of Lin Wai-hi. Just then five Chinese war- ships

started to preserve peace on the seaboard, carrying red flags

at their mast -heads . The English mistook these flags for a

declaration of war, because in England a red flag means war

and a white one peace, and opened fire. Admiral Kwan advanced

foremost, leading on the forces in his own person, standing

by the mast of his junk, and returning shot for shot . The

figure-head of one English ship was knocked off by shots from

Kwan's guns, causing the death by drowning of many European

soldiers. When the Emperor read the account of this

engagement , he wrote on the margin, Admiral Kwan ought

to have known better than standing by the mast, whereby he

compromised the dignity of his office in the eyes of his men.'

At the time the Emperor bestowed on him, for his bravery,

the title of Batulu, and ordered a statement of officers deserving

honours and a list of the persons killed and wounded in the

action to be prepared that they might receive the rewards enacted

by law.

The English account of the Battle of Chuenpi is somewhat


different. The following is Captain Elliot's version. Captain

Smith did not feel himself warranted in leaving this formidable

Chinese flotilla at liberty to pass inside of him at night and to

carry into effect the menaces against the merchant vessels.


Thinking that the retirement of the two ships of Her Majesty

(Volage and Hyacinth) , before a force moved out with the

palpable intention to intimidate, was not compatible with the

honour of the flag, he determined forthwith to constrain their

return to their former anchorage. Therefore, about noon

(November 3, 1839), the signal was made to engage, and the

ships, then lying hove to, on the extreme right of the Chinese

force, bore away in a line ahead and close order, having the

wind on the starboard beam. In this way, and under sail, they

ran down the Chinese line, pouring in a destructive fire. The

lateral direction of the wind enabled the ships to perform the

same evolution from the opposite extreme of the line, running

up it again with the larboard broadsides bearing . The Chinese

answered with their accustomed spirit ; but the terrible effect

of our own fire was soon manifest. One war-junk blew up

at about pistol shot distance from the l'olage, a shot probably

having passed through the magazine ; three were sunk and

several others were obviously water-logged. It is an act of

justice to a brave man to say, that the Chinese Admiral's conduct

was worthy of his station . His junk was evidently better armed

and manned than the other vessels ; and , after he had weighed

or, more probably, cut or slipped, he bore up and engaged

Her Majesty's ships in handsome style, manifesting a resolution

of behaviour, honourably enhanced by the hopelessness of his

efforts. In less than three-quarters of an hour, however, he

and the remainder of the squadron were retiring in great distress

to their former anchorage ; and as it was not Captain Smith's

disposition to protract destructive hostilities, or indeed to do

more than repel onward movements, he offered no obstruction

to their retreat, but discontinued the fire and made sail for

Macao with the purpose to cover the embarkation of such of

Her Majesty's subjects as might see fit to retire from that place.'

We may add to this account that the Volage got some shot

through her sails and the Hyacinth was a good deal cut up

in her rigging and spars ; a twelve-pound shot lodged in her

mizenmast and one went through her main yard , requiring it


to be secured . The wretched gunnery of the Chinese hurt no

one. Their guns and powder must have been good, from the

distance they carried, but not being fitted for elevation and

depression, all their shots were too high to have any effect .

except on the spars and rigging

As soon as the news of the battle of Chuenpi reached the

Chinese army encamped at Tsimshatsui, the shore batteries

opened fire (November 6, 1839) upon the merchant ships

anchored in Hongkong harbour, keeping up a rambling can-

nonade for several days. There is a statement in the Chinese

Annals that, in November, 1839, the English unsuccessfully

attacked the fort north of Tsimshatsui, but that, as the wells

had been poisoned, and they feared a night attack, they made

off to their ships again . There is no evidence for the correctness

of this statement. Owing, however, to the above- mentioned

cannonade, the commanders of the merchant ships resolved to

yield to Elliot's previous demands and removed the ships to

Tungku. Hongkong was once more deserted .

Ever since British merchants were excluded by Commissioner

Lin from any direct share in the trade conducted at Macao and

especially since his failure to induce them to resort to Chuenpi,

and whilst Elliot prohibited their returning to Canton or

Whampoa, a great deal of freighting business had been going

on by means of trans-shipment of British cargoes to and from

American and other foreign vessels. The anxiety of British

shipowners and consignees to clear their vessels caused them to

chafe under the restraints imposed upon them by the deadlock

of understanding between Lin and Elliot . Only one English

ship, the Royal Saxon (Captain Town) , followed the bad example

set by Captain Warner. But as the animosity of Lin extended

only to loyal British merchants and ships, whilst the ships of

other foreign nationalities were treated by Lin as neutrals and

rather favoured because they signed the bond which Elliot so

abhorred, a great demand arose for neutral ships, under the

benefit of the bond, to carry cargo to and fro between the

port of Whampoa and British ships at Hongkong or Tungku.


Freights for this short route rose to $ 6 per bale of cotton to

be carried to Whampoa, and $10 per ton for Chinese produce

from Whampoa to the British ships. This depreciation of the

British flag and the enhancement of the value of other flags

went to such lengths that one British ship after the other was

sold for nominal considerations, the American Consul especially

giving his sanction to such transfers , offensive as they were to

Captain Elliot. The total exclusion of British merchants from

direct trade with China, which had been an accomplished fact

for some time, was formally declared by an Imperial Edict

published in Canton (November 26 , 1839) , to the effect that ,

whereas the English had been vacillating iu their treatment of

the opium question , it was no longer compatible with dignity

to continue to permit their trade, and the English trade must

therefore be entirely stopped from after December 6 , 1839 , and

for ever. This state of things, continuing for twelve months.

longer to the great detriment of British commercial interests,

formed eventually the most powerful cause resulting in a demand

for the cession of Hongkong.

For the present, however, Elliot strained every nerve to

induce Lin to accede to his wish that British trade should be

re-established, in some form or other, at Macao, but Lin, though

once more earnestly entreated by Elliot (December 16, 1839 ) to

consent to some compromise in this direction, proved inexorable.

Even the Portuguese Governor of Macao joined Lin in his

obstructive policy, and when Captain Elliot (January 1 , 1840)

asked Governor Pinto, in the name of Her Britannic Majesty,

to permit at least the storing of the remainder of British cargoes

in the warehouses of Macao upon the payment of the duties

fixed by the regulations of the place, he met with an equally

decided rebuff. In this unfriendly line of conduct, the

Portuguese Governor went even farther. At the beginning of

February, 1840, it happened that atrocious proclamations against

the English were again posted on the walls of Macao. Captain

Smith, seeing the lives of British subjects residing at Macao

endangered by those placards, ordered H.M.S. Hyacinth to enter


the inner harbour of Macao (February 4, 1840 ), with a view to

enable British subjects to take refuge on board . Thereupon

both Governor Pinto and the Senate of Macao waxed wroth,

declared their dignity offended, their neutrality violated and

sternly ordered the ship to leave immediately. Captain Smith

yielded and withdrew the Hyacinth on the following day.

However the very lowest ebb of the honour and fortunes of

British trade in China had now been reached, and a change

was at hand.

In England public opinion was now at last fairly aroused,

thanks to the keynote struck by the Queen's Speech from the

Throne (January, 1840) in which Her Majesty identified her

interests and the dignity of the Crown with the fate of Elliot

and the British merchants in China. Whilst regretting or

condemning the opium trade as a whole, the British public clearly

perceived that British trade with China must be re-organized

on an entirely new basis. Arrangements were quietly made

by the Government to fit out an expedition to China . Lord

Palmerston explained in the House of Commons (March 12 ,

1840) that the object of this expedition was not to commence

hostilities but to open up communication with the Emperor

of China. The good people of Great Britain did not want war

with China and especially not for the sake of the opium trade,

but they were quite satisfied that, as an Order in Council

(April 4, 1840) expressed it, satisfaction and reparation should

be demanded from the Chinese Government on account of the

late injurious proceedings of certain officers of the Emperor

of China.

The Chinese Government was meanwhile kept tolerably

well informed of what transpired in England. Commissioner

Lin had a great passion for keeping spies among the employés

of British merchants and officers, and his intelligence department

kept him supplied with translations of newspaper cuttings . Lin

accordingly was able to inform the Emperor, long before the

expedition arrived, that Elliot had applied for troops to be

sent to China ; that the Queen had directed Parliament to



deliberate upon the matter ; that the official body, civil and

military, were in favour, of war, whilst the mercantile interest

was for peace ; that discussion went on for several days

without any definite result ; but that at last lots were drawn

in the Lo Chan-sze Temple and three tickets were found in

favour of war which was therefore resolved on ; that Pak- mak

(Bremer), the Queen's relative by marriage, was ordered to

take a dozen or so of war-ships under his command, to

which were added twenty or thirty guardships from India.'


The Emperor replied, after reading this report, What can

they do, if we quietly wait on the defensive and watch their

movememts ? ' Soon after, when Lin was asked (June 1 , 1840)

by some American merchants in Canton to allow their ships

to clear with their cargoes as quickly as possible because the

British expedition would soon arrive and blockade the port,

Lin sneered at the idea of the English being daring enough

or able to effectively blockade the Canton River.

Lin, however, was too hot-tempered a man to wait quietly.

Early in the year (January 16, 1840 ) he strengthened the

defences of Tsimshatsui by building a new fort on the site of

the present Water-police Station, and supplied the Bogue forts

with some 200 new cannons of foreign construction , which he

had no difficulty in buying in Canton from friendly foreign

merchants. He was anxious to set foreigners to fight the English

but could not manage it. He then purchased several foreign

ships and had junks built in foreign style, fitted them up like

men-of- war, and ordered their crews to be drilled in foreign

fashion. But he was quick-witted enough to see, on witnessing

some trial manoeuvres, that this plan would not work, and

gave it up. So he turned all his attention to the plan he

had commenced long before, in August, 1839, by starting a

volunteer fleet, formed by engaging fishermen and pirates

at $6 a month each, with $ 6 extra for each of their families,

the funds being provided in the way common in China, viz .

by compelling well -to - do people to give voluntary ' subscriptions

for public purposes . But this volunteer fleet, let loose to


prey upon British shipping (since August, 1839) with war-

junks and fire-ships, and to prevent disloyal Chinese traders

from supplying the British ships with provisions, accomplished

next to nothing. They burned, by mistake, the Spanish brig

Bilbaino (September, 1839) , captured here and there Chinese

junks which supplied British ships with provisions, made

sundry night attacks on British vessels by sending down

upon them, with the tide, fire-ships chained together in

couples, but they did not capture a single British ship or

boat. Commissioner Lin then resorted to the usual Chinese

appeal to sordid avarice and ordered the Magistrates of the

neighbouring districts to issue proclamations offering rewards,

not merely for the destruction of British men-of-war or

merchant vessels, for which large sums of money were promised,

but for the capture or assassination of individuals. Accordingly

a price of $ 5,000 was put on Elliot's head, sums ranging from

$5,000 to $500 were offered for any English officer, according

to gradation of rank, made prisoner, and one third of the

money in each case for any British officer killed, also a

reward of $ 100 was offered for any British merchant made

prisoner and $20 for any such merchant killed. But Lin's

bounty and assassination schemes were nearly as fruitless as

his volunteer scheme. No British officer was captured or

murdered, and but few British civilians were made prisoners

or assassinated, though secret ambushes were laid frequently

and the poisoning of wells was a common practice.

In June 1840 , the ships forming the expedition began

to assemble in Hongkong harbour, and every day now brought

some man-of-war or troopship or other from England or India .

By the end of June there had arrived seventeen men - of- war

among them three line-of- battle ships (the Melville, Wellesley

and Blenheim), with four of the East India Company's armed

steamers (the Queen, Atalanta, Madagascar and Enterprise, to

which subsequently the Nemesis was added) . There were also

twenty-seven troopships, which brought three regiments (18th

Royal Irish, 26th Cameronians and 49th Bengal Volunteers) ,


a corps of Bengal Engineers, and a corps of Madras sappers

and miners, about 4,000 fighting men in all. The expedition

was under the command of Sir J. J. Gordon Bremer, subject

to the orders of two Plenipotentiaries, viz . Rear Admiral, the

Hon. George Elliot, and Captain Ch. Elliot, R.N. , the former

Chief Superintendent of Trade at Canton.

The instructions which the Cabinet had given to the two

Plenipotentiaries were, ( 1 ) to obtain reparation for the insults.

and injuries offered to Her Majesty's Superintendent and to

Her Majesty's subjects by the Chinese Government, (2) to

obtain for British merchants trading with China an indemni-

fication for the loss of their property incurred by the threats

of violence offered by persons under the direction of the

Government, and (3) to obtain a certain security that persons

in future trading with China shall be protected from insult

or injury, and that their trade and commerce be maintained

upon a proper footing.

It will be observed from the tenor of these general

instructions, that the object of the expedition was not to make

war against China, but to communicate with the Chinese

Government (at Peking ) , in order to obtain official redress and

indemnity for the past and commercial immunities and securities

for the future. The means and mode of procedure now prescribed

were exactly what so many former Canton residents and notably

Mr. James Matheson had recommended in 1836. An appeal,

against the doings of the Cantonese Authorities, was to be made

to a misinformed and misguided Emperor and negotiations were

to be instituted with the moral support of the presence of an

expeditionary force ready for war in case pacific measures should

prove fruitless. Apart from the indemnity for the opium

extorted by Lin, the opium question was not included in the

programme, and very justly so, for in the reckoning which

England had now risen up to make with China , virtually for

two centuries of ill-treatment accorded to her merchants, the

opium question was a mere accidental extra . Finally, it will

also be observed that, among the objects of the expedition , the


cession of any portion of Chinese territory, or the formation

of a British Colony in the East, was not included . This was

no doubt agreeable to Captain Elliot who, as we have seen, was

averse to the notion of appropriating Hongkong or any other

island for the purposes of a Colony and merely looked for a

safe trade station on the coast and preferably at Macao.

The Indian Government suggested to the Plenipotentiaries

that, immediately upon the arrival of the expedition in China,

the Bogue forts should be razed to the ground, and the Island

of Lantao (W. of Hongkong) occupied as a commissariat depot,

with might at some future time answer as a trade station . But ,

as the first object of the expedition was peaceful communication

with Peking rather than war at Canton, the two Plenipotentiaries

agreed to abstain from any demonstration involving bloodshed

as long as possible. However, to prevent any misunderstanding

at Canton, Commodore Bremer was directed to give notice (June

21 , 1840) that a blockade of the port of Canton, by all its

entrances, would commence on June 28, and further, in order

to have a point d'appui for the expected negotiations in the North,

Commodore Bremer proceeded at once with an advanced force

to take possession of the Island of Chusan, which was accordingly

done (July 5 , 1840 ) by the occupation of Tinghai.

Admiral Elliot and Captain Elliot, following (June 30,

1840 ) in the wake of Commodore Bremer with the remainder

of the expedition , endeavoured first to induce the Authorities of

Chelkiang (the province to which Chusan belongs) to forward

to Peking a dispatch signed by Lord Palmerston and addressed

to the Imperial Authorities at Peking, but eventually they

proceeded to Tientsin where the dispatch was delivered to the

Viceroy of Chilli, called Kishen . According to Chinese history,

Lord Palmerston's dispatch, after making certain statements

intended to enlighten the Emperor as to the doings of the

Cantonese Authorities, made the following demands, viz. ( 1 )

payment of an indemnity for the value of the opium extorted

by Lin, (2 ) the opening of five treaty ports (Canton, Amoy,

Foochow, Tinghai and Shanghai) , ( 3) terms of official com-


munication on the basis of international equality, (4) payment

of the costs of the expedition , (5) a guarantee that one set

of merchants, should not be held responsible for the doings of

another, and ( 6 ) the abolition of the Hong Merchants' monopoly.

It will be observed that here also neither the cession of

Hongkong, nor the establishment of a Colony anywhere else,

was included in the programme. But as the Governor General

of India had referred to Lantao, and as the Plenipotentiaries,

immediately after the capture of Tinghai, organized a complete

civil, judicial and fiscal administration for the whole Island

of Chusan, as if it was to be a British Colony, the chances of

Hongkong now seemed even farther removed than ever.

The Emperor's eyes were opened at last when he perused

Lord Palmerston's dispatch, and seeing that he had either to

concede the British demands or go to war, he is said to have

observed, as he laid down the dispatch, that ' Lin caused the

war by his excessive zeal and killed people in order to close

their mouths .' Lin's enemies at Court now poured into the

Imperial car all sorts of whispers , in consequence of which both

Lin and Tang (the former Viceroy of Canton, now Viceroy

of Folkien ) were degraded . Kishen was appointed Imperial

Commissioner to arrange the Canton affairs, but he was hampered

by the direction to consult Lin and Tang as to the measures to

be taken. Eleepoo, the Viceroy of Nanking, was also appointed

Imperial Commissioner and directed to proceed to Ningpo

(opposite Chusan) to settle the Chusan affairs. After various

negotiations with Eleepoo, Her Majesty's Plenipotentiaries

concluded at Chusan a truce (November 6 , 1840 ) on an undefined

general understanding that the peaceful negotiations, which had

commenced, should be continued and concluded at Canton by

Kishen, and that meanwhile the English would hold Chusan.

as a guarantee .

Whilst the Plenipotentiaries were occupied in the North,

Commissioner Lin, though chafing under the blockade of the

Canton River, continued at first his former course of egging

on the scum of the people to acts of violence against the English


and placarded the walls of Macao again with inflammatory

denunciations directed against the English residents at that

place. The Rev. V. Stanton, officiating as British Chaplain

at Macao, was kidnapped on the shore ( August 5 , 1840 ) and

kept under close confinement in a common prison in Canton ,

until he was released by Kishen (December 12, 1840 ) . Owing

to Lin's interference with the supply of provisions at Macao,

four British gunboats shelled and captured the Chinese barrier

fort near Macao (August 19, 1840 ) ; otherwise no serious

movement of any importance took place near Canton until the

conclusion of the truce.

When the news of the Chusan truce reached Macao ,

disappointment, doubt and anxiety prevailed among the British

community. As soon as the two Plenipotentiaries arrived , five

British firms (Dent, Bell, Mevicar. Gribble Hughes and Dirom)

sent a joint address to Captain Elliot, inquiring, whether the

truce of Chusan implied a suspension of the Canton blockade,

whether it had been determined that British trade should in

future be carried on outside the Bogue, or whether it be

contemplated that English ships should enter the Bogue and

trade be carried on, temporarily, at Macao. To this inquiry

Captain Elliot replied from Tungku (November 27 , 1840 ) ,

declining to answer these questions on the ground that he was

ignorant of the intentions of the Chinese Government. But, as

Admiral Elliot , suffering under a severe illness, had to resign

his post and to return to England (December 1 , 1840 ) , leaving

to Captain Elliot the conduct of the negotiations as sole

Plenipotentiary, it was generally assumed that Elliot would

press for British trade to be conducted thenceforth outside the

Bogue, business being conducted exclusively at Macao. Sir

H. S. Fleming Senhouse partially succeeded Admiral Elliot in

the command of the flect, the command of the whole expedition

remaining in the hands of Sir J. J. Gordon Bremer.

At Canton, the Chinese officials and people were in a similar

state of uncertainty and misgiving, until Kishen's arrival

(November 29 , 1840 ) . When Elliot sent the steamer Queen,


under a flag of truce, to the Bogue (November 20, 1840 ) , to

announce his arrival and to deliver a dispatch by Eleepoo

addressed to Kishen, she was fired upon by the Bogue forts,

and the solid shot which the Queen dropped into the forts in

return for the discourtesy were presented to Lin in great triumph,

but an apology was tendered subsequently. In sending this

apology the Chinese officials, for the first time, addressed Elliot

in terms of proper respect . As soon as Kishen arrived in

Canton , he was entreated by the officials, literati and gentry

of Canton, not to give up a stone of their fortresses nor an

inch of their territory, but to resume hostile operations at once .

Kishen, however, had formed a better estimate of the power

of foreign arms, strategy and discipline, and was honestly

determined to make peace, yielding, however, as little as possible.

But as he by this policy ran counter to popular feeling and

lost the confidence and hearty co -operation of all his local

subordinates, his position was extremely difficult. Negotiations

were accordingly protracted from day to day and from week to

week without any ground being gained. Elliot having asked

for a port outside the Bogue, where British ships might load

and unload their cargoes, Kishen thought of offering to Elliot

either Amoy or Hongkong. But having been directed to consult

Lin and Tang, the latter, a man of keen statesman-like foresight,

urged that Amoy was the key of Fohkien, and that Hongkong,

occupying a central position in Cantonese waters, would be a

perpetual menace to the Cantonese Authorities if the English

were to fortify the Island of Kwantailou (Hongkong) and the

peninsula of Kowloon .' Thus Kishen found himself hermed

in at every step. Lin and Tang secretly counteracted his policy

by their influence upon Kishen's local subordinates and Kishen

noticed a mutinous spirit all around himself. Lin's intelligence

department also would not serve Kishen with a good will and

the latter was driven to confide all interpretation work to a

man, Pao Pang, who was looked upon by the Chinese as a traitor

and by Elliot as a menial, having been formerly Mr. Dent's

favourite butler in the old factory days.


At the beginning of January, 1841 , Elliot found himself,

after six weeks of negotiations, no nearer a settlement than

he had been before. He determined, therefore, to bring matters

to a crisis and sent to Kishen an ultimatum (January 6, 1841 )

to the effect that, unless some definite basis for an agreement

was proposed by Kishen by 8 A.M. on the following day, the

Bogue forts would be taken possession of forthwith. No answer

having been received next morning, the action , thenceforth to

be known as the Second Battle of Chuenpi, commenced, at

9.30 A.M. on January 7 , 1841 , when the fleet attacked the two

Bogue forts, Chuenpi (also called Shakok) on the East and

Taikok on the West of the Bogue, whilst the troops ( 1,461 men

all told) were landed in the rear of the forts and took them

by assault. Within an hour and a half, eighteen Chinese war-

junks were destroyed , some 500 Chinese soldiers were killed,

some 300 more wounded, while the loss on the English side

men wounded (mostly by explosions in blowing up

Chinese powder magazines ) , and none killed . At 11 o'clock

the action was over and the British flag fluttered lustily in the

breeze over the smouldering rains of the Bogue forts.

The Chinese historian gives the following account of the

Second Battle of Chuenpi. Whilst the guns of the English

fleet bombarded the two forts in front, a force of about 2,000

Chinese traitors scaled the hills and attacked them in the rear.

A hundred or more of these were blown up by exploded mines,

but the rest, far out-numbering the garrison of 600 men, came

swarming up notwithstanding. Two or three hundred more

were killed by our gingalls, but at last our powder was exhausted ,

and the steam-boats got round the forts and burned our fleet .

The other three forts, farther up the river, commanded by

Admiral Kwan, Rear-Admiral Li and Captain Ma respectively,

had only a few hundred men in them, who could do nothing

but regard each other with weeping eyes. Admiral Kwan sent

Li to Canton to apply for more troops, but Kishen was obdurate

and simply spent the night in writing ont further peace

proposals which he sent by Pao Pang to Elliot . Hongkong


was now offered, by Kishen, in addition to the opium indemnity

and the Chehkiang prisoners were exchanged for Tinghai. '

The last sentence of this Chinese account of the Second

Battle of Chuenpi is of special importance, as it fixes the source

from which the proposal to cede the Island of Hongkong to the

British Crown emanated . It was Kishen and not Elliot who

proposed the cession. As to the Chehkiang prisoners ' here

referred to, there is some mistake here. Kishen's proposal was

to cede Hongkong as a trade station (like Whampoa ) and

in exchange for the Bogue forts and Chusan (Tinghai) . Sub-

sequently, the Chehkiang prisoners ,' that is to say, the crew

and passengers of the troopship Kite, which stranded ( February

15 , 1841 ) by accident on a shoal near Tinghai and fell into

Chinese hands, were naturally surrendered by the Chinese when

Tinghai was evacuated.

After the capture of the Bogue forts, Admiral Kwan came

with a flag of truce, begging for an armistice, in order to give

the High Commissioner time to consider certain propositions

he intended offering for Elliot's acceptance. The armistice was

granted and shuffling negotiations recommenced . At last, on

January 20 , 1841 , was concluded the Treaty of Chuenpi .

By this Treaty, four preliminary propositions were agreed

to by the Chinese and British Plenipotentiaries, to the effect, ( 1 )

that the island and harbour of Hongkong (not including

Kowloon peninsula) should be ceded for ever to the British

Crown, and the Chinese batteries on Tsimshatui dismantled in

return for the demolished Bogue forts, ( 2) that an indemnity

of six million dollars should be paid to the British Government

in six annual instalments, the first being paid at once, (3 ) that

direct official intercourse between the two countries should be

conducted on a footing of international equality, and (4) that

the trade of the port of Canton should be opened within ten

days after the Chinese new year (therefore on February 1 , 1841 )

and be carried on at Whampoa, until further arrangements should

be practicable at Hongkong. All other details were to stand

over for further negotiation . It must be added, however, that


the first of the foregoing preliminaries of peace was coupled with

a proviso, subsequently disapproved by the British Government ,

to the effect that all just charges and duties to the Empire of

China, upon the commerce carried on at Hongkong, should be

paid as if the trade were conducted at Whampoa .' These words

indicate that the understanding which Kishen and Elliot , by

a mutual compromise, attached to the cession of Hongkong at

that time was, that Hongkong should be a hybrid cross between

a treaty port of China and a British Colony, the soil being owned

by Great Britain but trade charges levied by Chinese officials.

Such a mixed constitution would have proved a source of endless

friction between the two Governments, besides being a negation

of the free traders ' desire of a free port.

In notifying Her Majesty's subjects of the successful

conclusion of the Chuenpi Treaty (January 20, 1890) , Captain

Elliot informed them that, pending Her Majesty's further

pleasure, there would be no port or other charges to the British

Government at Hongkong. Elliot, at the same time, offered

the protection of the British flag to the subjects, citizens and

ships of foreign Powers, that might resort to Her Majesty's

possessions at Hongkong. He also exhorted British merchants

to adopt a conciliatory treatment of the Chinese people and to

show becoming deference for the country upon the threshold of

which they were about to be established, and finally he expressed

his gratitude to the officers and men of the expeditionary force ,

to whose bravery the result now accomplished was largely due.

Immediately after the conclusion of the Treaty of Chuenpi,

the British squadron withdrew from the Bogue and moved down

to the S. W. Bay of Lantao, leaving behind H.M.S. Sumarang,

whose commander (Captain Scott), thenceforth known as

Governor of Chuenpi, was instructed to hand over to the Chinese

Authorities the demolished forts of Chuenpi and Taikok. At

the same time, H.M.S. Columbine was dispatched to Chusan,

to recall thence the remainder of the expedition.

On January 24, 1841 , Commodore Bremer, having arrived

at Lantao from Macao, directed Captain Belcher, in command


of H.M.S. Sulphur (which has given her name to the Sulphur

Channel) to proceed forthwith to Hongkong and commence

its survey. Sir E. Belcher, accordingly, landed on Monday,

January 25 , 1841 , at fifteen minutes past 8 a.m., at the foot of

Taipingshan, and on the hill, now occupied by the Chinese

recreation ground. Captain Belcher and his officers , considering

themselves the bona fide first British possessors, drank Her

Majesty's health with three cheers , the spot being thenceforth

known as Possession Point. This was done unofficially and

as an arbitrary preliminary to the survey of the Island . But

the next day (January 26 , 1841 ) , when the whole squadron

had arrived in Hongkong harbour, possession was taken of

Hongkong more formally and officially by Commodore Bremer.

On Tuesday, January 26 , 1841 , the marines from all the ships

were landed at the same place as the day before and official

possession was taken of the Island by Sir J. J. Gordon Bremer

in the name of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Commodore

Bremer was accompanied by his officers, and at the moment

when the British flag was hoisted on Possession Point, the

marines on the spot fired a feu-de-joie, whilst all the ships-of-war

in the harbour made the hills re-echo with the thunders of

the first Royal Salute ever fired in Hongkong . Sir E. Belcher

took the true position of Hongkong on a hillock, within a

stone's throw of the houses on Morrison Hill, as being in 22°

16 ' 30" N. Lat . and 114° 08 ′ 30″ E. Long. He also determined

the names and height of the principal peaks as follow, Victoria

Peak ( 1,825 feet) , High West ( 1,774 feet) , Mount Gough 1,575

feet) , Mount Kellett ( 1,131 feet ), Mount Parker ( 1,711 feet ) and

subsequently Pottinger Peak ( 1,016 feet).

It is obvious from the foregoing account of the acquisition

of Hongkong, that the actual cession was a surprise to all

concerned . Kishen had, at the last moment, reluctantly offered

to cede Hongkong, and Elliot, though accepting it, because at

the moment he could hardly do otherwise, took it unwillingly.

To the British merchants, the leaders of whom in later years

stated in a joint memorial to Lord Stanley (August 13 , 1845)


that such a settlement as Hongkong was never actually required

by the British merchants, ' this sudden establishment of a Colony

was as unexpected as the birth of a child into a family generally

is to the rest of the children . They could only wonder how

it had all come about , but they could not undo the fact. They

had not been consulted about it. There it was : the newborn

Colony of Hongkong. And as to the people of England - What

will they say about it at home ? ' was the anxious thought of

both Elliot and the merchants, and none could foretell with

certainty whether the new-fledged Colony would ever live to

celebrate its jubilee or indeed outlast the year of its birth .

On February 3, 1841 , ignorant as yet of the cession as a

fait accompli, the Foreign Office dispatched instructions to

Captain Elliot which seemed to him to furnish good cause for

the expectation that the establishment of a trade station at

Hongkong might eventually meet with the approval of Her

Majesty's Government . This dispatch contained the following

prophetic caution : You are authorized to propose a condition

that, if there be ceded to the British Crown an island off the

Eastern Coast of China to serve as a commercial station for

British subjects, the Chinese merchants and inhabitants of all

the towns and cities on the Coast of China shall be permitted

by the Chinese Government to come freely and without the

least hindrance and molestation to that Island for the purpose

of trading with the British subjects there established .' Un-

fortunately for Hongkong, the injunction here wisely coupled

with its probable cession was entirely neglected for years after

the cession had been accomplished . Kishen offered Hongkong

as a residence for foreigners but he did not intend it to become

the Alsatia of China.

Difficult as it may be to say, with prefect accuracy and in

a few words, how Hongkong came to be ceded to the British

Crown, this much will be clearly established by the above nar-

rative, viz. that the ordinarily current accounts of the cession

of Hongkong are inaccurate. It is evidently unjust to say,

what is commonly found stated in Continental and American


histories of British intercourse with the Far East, that the

English wanted Hongkong and they took it by force of

arms.' But that is also an unwarranted inference which the

compiler of the Colonial Year Book (1890) has drawn from

his view of the cession, by the allegation that the annexation

of Hongkong affords a remarkable example of the aptitude

of the English for grasping the requirements of any given

condition of circumstances and meeting them accordingly.'

It is to be feared, with all respect for British quickness of

perception generally, that in the present case the lesson of

the above chapter points rather in the opposite direction .



EOLOGICAL upheavals had felicitously formed Hongkong

of the toughest material and placed it just where the

Continent of Asia- large enough for the destinies of China,

Russia and Britain-juts out into the Pacific, as if beckoning

to the rest of the world to come on. Small as a dot in the

ocean, Hongkong was yet formed large enough for its own

destiny to act as the thin end of the wedge which shall yet

open up China to the the civilization of the West ; to form

Britain's Key to the East, as the combined Malta and Gibraltar

of the Pacific ; to be China's guarantee of British support along

the strategic line formed by India, the Straits Settlements and

the China Sea.

Previous to its cession to the British Crown, the Island of

Hongkong was too little known to be accorded special notice

either in the Annals or in the Topographies of the Chinese

Empire, to which it belonged .

Hongkong, and the opposite portion of the mainland of

China, known as the Peninsula of Kowloon, together with

the few tiny islets situated close inshore ( Kellett Island, Stone-

cutter's Island, Green Island , Tree Island, Aberdeen Island,

Middle Island, and Round Island), all of which are at the

present day comprised within the boundaries of the Colony,

formed, since time immemorial, a portion of the Kwangtung

(Canton) Province. The Island of Hongkong (covering an

area of about 29 square miles ) is situated, 76 miles S.E. of

Canton, near the mouth of the Pearl River, the eastern banks

of which are lined by the Tungkoon District (24 miles S.E. of

Canton city) and the Sanon District ( 52 miles S.E. of Canton

city) , of which the Kowloon Peninsula and Kowloon City


Promontory from the south-eastern extremities, whilst Hongkong

is separated from Kowloon Peninsula by a channel of one

nautical mile in width.

For many centuries Hongkong formed a part of the

Tungkoon District, but when the eastern half of the latter was

constituted a separate District, called Sanon, the territory now

included in the British Colony of Hongkong came under the

jurisdiction of the Sanon Magistrate who resides in a walled

town on the Canton River called Namtau (or Sanon), and who

has under his direction a Sub-Magistrate residing at Kowloon

city, a small fortified town, situated close to the British frontier,

in the north- eastern corner of Kowloon Peninsula. The land-

register, however, which forms the Domesday Book for the few

arable and vegetable fields possessed by the Colony remained all

along at Tungkoon. Thence used to issue from time to time

the tax-gatherers to dun the villagers for the payment of the

grain tax and to worry them into taking out licences for ground

newly brought under cultivation .

The fishing grounds also, all along the coast of Hongkong

and Kowloon, were parcelled out, under special licences for

which the Sanon Magistrate's underlings used to collect annual

fees. The waters of Hongkong, with the beautiful, roomy and

almost land-locked harbour, enclosed on the North by the

Peninsula of Kowloon and its eastern Promontory, and in

the South by the Island of Hongkong with its several bays,

were under the special supervision of the Marine Constabulary

Station of Taipang, a walled town in the north-eastern portion

of Mirs Bay, some 30 miles to the North-east of Kowloon city.

But when the Colony became British, the head-quarters of the

Colonel in command of the Marine Constabulary stations of

Taipang and Kowloon were removed to the citadel of Kowloon


The above-mentioned administrative and executive arrange-

ments date back, in their present form, no farther than the

commencement of the present Tatsing (Manchu) Dynasty and

notably to the reign of the enlightened Emperor Kanghi (A.D.


1662 to 1722 ) , who took quite an exceptional position in that

he positively encouraged foreigners to come to his Court and

systematically favoured foreign trade. During his reign the

water-ways of Hongkong which, with the Kap-shui - moon and

Sulphur channels in the West, and the Ly-ee-moon pass in the

East, formed all along the natural highway of commerce, con-

necting Canton and the South-west coast with the ports of

Swatow, Amoy, Foochow and Shanghai on the East coast

of China, rose into commercial importance.

As to the history of Hongkong previous to the rise of the

Tatsing Dynasty (A.D. 1644) very little is known .

There is, however, on the Kowloon peninsula, and within

British territory, an ancient rock inscription, on a large loose-

lying granite boulder, which crowns the summit of a circular

hill, jutting out into the sea, close to the village of Matauchung,

directly West of Kowloon city. This inscription, consisting of

three Chinese characters (Sung Wong Tong, lit. Hall of a

King of the Sung) arranged horizontally, was originally cut

about half an inch deep in the northern face of the boulder. The

Chinese Government believe it to be a genuine inscription , about

600 years old . The original characters, having become nearly

effaced in course of time, were renewed at the beginning of the

present century ( 1897 ) by order of the Viceroy of Canton, the

date of this restoration being recorded by a separate inscription

the characters of which are arranged perpendicularly. The memo-

ries attaching to this inscription and to the whole hill, which still

shows the outlines of the original entrenchments, are so sacred

in the eyes of Chinese officials and literati , that excavations

and quarrying were prohibited in that locality under the severest

penalties. When the Peninsula was leased and subsequently

ceded to the British Crown, the Chinese Government specially

stipulated that the rock inscription and the whole hill should

remain untouched . Nevertheless, quarrying has occasionally been

attempted there since the locality came into British possession.

Chinese history states that, when the Sung Dynasty was

overturned by the invasion of the Mongols under Kublai Khan ,



who subsequently seated himself on the throne of China

(A.D. 1280) , the last Emperor of the Sung Dynasty, then a

young child, was driven with the Imperial Court to the South

of China and finally compelled to take refuge on board ship,

when he continued his flight, accompanied by a small fleet.

Coasting along from Foochow, past Amoy and Swatow, he passed

(about 1278 A.D.) through the Ly-ee-moon into the waters of

Hongkong. After a short stay on Kowloon Peninsula, he sailed

westwards until he reached Ngaishan, at the mouth of the West

River (South-west of Macao). But meanwhile the Mongols

had taken possession of Canton and hastily organized a fleet

with which they hemmed in the Imperial flotilla on all sides.

The Prime Minister (Luk Sau-fu) , seeing all was lost, took the

youthful Emperor on his back, jumped into the sca (A.D. 1279)

and perished together with him.

Within a few months previous to this event, the Imperial

Court had rested for a while in the little bay of Kowloon, called

Matauchung. Tradition says that Kowloon city and the present

hamlets of Matauchung and Matauwai were not in existence at

the time, and that the Imperial troops were encamped for a time

on the hill now marked by the inscription , whilst the Court were

lodged in a roughly constructed wooden palace erected at a short

distance from the beach, on the other side of Matauchung creek,

at a place now marked by a temple. There, it is said, the last

Emperor of the Sung resided for a while, on ground now British

and in sight of Hongkong, waiting for news from Canton

concerning the movements of the Mongols, and hoping in vain

to receive succour from that treacherous city.

Tradition further states that, ever since the downfall of the

Sung (A.D. 1279) and all through the reign of the Mongol Yuen

Dynasty (A.D. 1280 to 1333 ) , Hongkong was a haunt of pirates.

The bay of Shaukiwan (close to the Ly-ee-moon pass) and the

bay of Aberdeen (close to the Lamma channel) were specially

dreaded by peaceful traders, because piratical craft used to issue

thence plundering or levying black-mail on passing junks . These

pirates, it is said, were generally engaged in fishing whilst men


stationed on the hill tops kept a look-out for merchant vessels .

The descendants of these piratical fishermen gave, in subsequent

years, an endless deal of trouble to the British Government . It

was this piratical predisposition of the fishermen residing in the

neighbourhood of Hongkong that had caused the early Portuguese

navigators to give these Islands the general name Ladrones.

During the reign of the native Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1468

to 1628), a period of comparative peace and order ensued whilst

the fishing vessels of Shaukiwan and Aberdeen confined their

depredations to the regular levy of a small fee, willingly paid

by junks benefitting by the short cut afforded by the Ly-ee-

moon and Lamma channels or by the safe anchorage which

some of the bays of Hongkong provided in case of an approaching

typhoon. Both the Peninsula of Kowloon and the Island of

Hongkong now began to be peopled by peaceful and industrious

settlers from the neighbouring Tungkoon District . The town

of Kowloon was formed about this time by settlers speaking the

Cantonese dialect, called Puntis (lit. aborigines). These Puntis ,

after denuding the hill sides of all available timber or firewood,

took possession of all arable ground to be found on the territory

now British , and took out licenses for such fields from the

Tungkoon Magistracy. Thus the hamlets of Matauwai (near

Kowloon city) with Kwantailou (Eastpoint) and Wongnaichung

(on the Island of Hongkong) were among the first to be formed ,

and to them were added later on the hamlets of Sookonpou

(Bowring-town) , Tanglungchau and Pokfulam. Some of the

fishing villages, Chikchü (Stanley) , Shekou (between Cape

Collinson and Cape D'Aguilar), and Yaumati (on Kowloon

Peninsula) now rose also into importance. Among the people

then residing on Hongkong a number of families of the Tong

clan held all the best pieces of ground and the members of this

Tong clan looked upon themselves as the owners of Hongkong.

Some time, however, after the Puntis had occupied the best

portions of Kowloon and Hongkong, settlers from the North-east

of the Canton Province, speaking a different dialect, called

Hakkas (lit. strangers) , began to push their way in between Punti


settlements . These Hakkas cut the grass from the hill sides for

fuel, made charcoal as long as there was any timber left, formed

vegetable fields on hilly or swampy ground neglected by the

Puntis, started granite quarries, or worked in the Punti villages

as blacksmiths or barbers. Thus the Hakka villages of Mongkok,

Tsopaitsai, Tsimshatsui and Matauchung were formed on Kowloon

Peninsula, and on Hongkong Island the hamlets of Hungheunglou,

Tunglowan, Taitamtuk, Shaiwan, Hoktsui, Wongmakok, and

Little Hongkong. Similar hamlets were formed by the Hakkas

at the quarries of Taikoktsui, Hokün, and Tokwawan on Kowloon,

and at the quarries of Tsattsimui, Shuitsingwan, Wongkoktsui,

and Akungngam on the Island of Hongkong.

Thus it happened that, ever since the Ming Dynasty, two

distinct tribes of Chinese, differing from each other in language,

customs and manners, formed the native population of Hongkong

and Kowloon. As a rule, the Puntis were more intelligent, active

and cunning, and became the dominant race, whilst the

Hakkas, good-natured, industrious and honest, served as hewers

of wood and stone and drawers of water. But from the first

advent of the British and all through the wars with China,

the Puntis as a rule were the enemies and the Hakkas the

friends, purveyors, commissariat and transport coolies of the

foreigners, whilst the fishing population provided boatmen

and pilots for the foreign trade.

Later on, a third class of natives, speaking another dialect

(Tiehchiu, or Swatow dialect) , settled at Shaukiwan, Tokwawan,

Hunghom and Yaumati . These people, generally called Hoklos ,

were all seafaring men, bolder in character than either Hakkas

or Puntis, and specially addicted to smuggling and piracy.

Among all the pirates on the coast, these Hoklos were most

dreaded on account of their ferocious and daring deeds. In

later years, these Hoklos supplied the crews of nearly all the

salt smuggling and opium smuggling boats, the terror of the

Chinese revenue cruizers.

After the downfall of the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1628) , the

scattered remnants of the Ming army, still hoping to retrieve the


fortunes of the Ming and to expel the Tsing (Manchus), took

refuge on the Island of Hongkong (about A.D. 1650) . Thereupon

the Emperor Kanghi issued an Edict, cancelling all leases issued

for Hongkong and calling upon all loyal subjects of the Tatsing

Dynasty to withdraw themselves and all supplies of provisions.

from the Island, until all the rebels who had taken refuge

there were starved out and exterminated . All the agricultural

settlers, Puntis and Hakkas left Hongkong forthwith - an exodus

which, in the history of British Hongkong, was repeated several

times -until the rebels had been dislodged and order restored,

when they returned and had their licenses renewed.

Chinese tradition has nothing further to say of Hongkong,

except that , at the beginning of the present century ( A.D. 1806

to 1810 ) , the present Victoria Peak (1,774 feet high) formed

the look-out and the fortified head-quarters of a pirate, named

Chang Pao, famous in popular local history for his daring

exploits until, having conquered several districts bordering

on the Canton River, he was bought over by the Viceroy of

Canton and entered his service.

As to the name of Hongkong, the Chinese are not in

the habit of naming an island, as a whole, apart from any

prominent place or feature of it . Previous to the cession of

Hongkong, there was no term in existence designating the Island

of Hongkong as a whole. The principal port on the South

of the Island , now known as the port of Aberdeen, was always

known among Puntis, and fishermen especially, as Heung-kong

(lit. port of fragrance) and is so known among the natives

generally to the present day when referring to the anchorage

as distinct from the village of Shekpaiwan (Aberdeen village)

and the village of Aplichau (Aberdeen Island) . The Hakka

village of Heung-kongtsai (Little Hongkong) is situated two

miles farther inland. The stream which, by a pretty little

waterfall, falls into the sea at Aberdeen village (at the present

paper mill) , has nothing to do with the native term Hongkong,

but it attracted European vessels which used to replenish their

empty water-casks there. These European mariners, mistaking


the name of the anchorage for that of the whole Island, marked

the Island of Hongkong on their charts accordingly, and in

subsequent years, on the occasion of the Treaties of Chuenpi

(A.D. 1841 ) and Nanking (A.D. 1843) , the term ' Hong Kong '

was adopted as a designation of the whole Island and thus

passed into general use, both among foreigners and natives,

and finally the term ' Hongkong ' was used as a designation of the

whole Colony (including Kowloon) .

Along the northern shore of Island there used to be,

previous to the British occupation, a narrow bridlepath leading,

high above the beach, across rocks and boulders, all the way

from Westpoint to a hamlet near Eastpoint called Kwantailou,

described in the first census (May 15 , 1841 ) as a fishing village

with 50 inhabitants. This path was used by the crews of trading

junks, in cases of wind and tide being unfavourable, to track

the junks along by a towing line attached to the peak of the

foremast. Now this hard- trodden path standing, to an observer

from the opposite shore, clear out from the grass-grown hillside,

like a fringe or border along the skirts of the hill, was by the

natives called Kwantailou (lit. petticoat string road), and the

hamlet at which this path ended was naturally called by this

same name. But among the Hakkas, the Island of Hongkong,

or rather this northern portion of it, is to the present day called

by the same name Kiuntailon .

The name of the Kowloon peninsula, which covers an area

of four square miles, is derived from a series of nine peaks or

ridges (Kau-lung, lit. nine dragons) which form the northern

background of the panorama spread out before an observer

standing on the northern slope of the Island of Hongkong.

After these nine dragons, both the city of Kowloon (which is

in Chinese territory ) and the Peninsula of Kowloon (ceded to

Great Britain in 1861 ) are named .

Previous to the British occupation of Hongkong, the

population of it probably never exceeded, at any one time, a

total of 2,000 people, including Puntis, Hakkas and Hoklos,

whether ashore or afloat.



1841 to 1843.

BEFORE entering now upon the modern history of Hongkong,

it is necessary briefly to sketch first of all the history of

those political events which , directly connected with the Treaty

of Chuenpi, and of the cession of Hongkong, brought about

eventually the confirmation of the cession by the Treaty of

Nanking (August 29 , 18 ) . For the latter, though not

alluding to any previous cession , was virtually but a ratification

of the action taken by the representatives of the British

Government in taking possession of Hongkong (January 26,

1841 ) under the Treaty of Chuenpi.

Up to the day when the Island of Hongkong was taken

possession of, the Imperial Commissioner Kishen appears to have

acted in perfect good faith, honestly determined to make peace

and to abide by the promises he had made at Tientsin , and by

the purport of the truce concluded by Eleepoo at Chusan and

confirmed by his own Treaty of Chuenpi. But on the day

when Sir J. J. Gordon Bremer took possession of Hongkong

(January 26 , 1841 ) , believing, with Elliot, that an era of peace

was now being inaugurated, Kishen received an Imperial Edict

which virtually nullified the Tientsin promises, the Chusan truce

and the Chuenpi Treaty, and indicated a complete reversal of

that policy which had been initiated by the Emperor whilst

the British fleet threatened Tientsin and Peking, The force of

Lord Palmerston's arguments, as set forth in his dispatch, was

in the fleet which presented the dispatch and not in the text

of the latter. The order which Kishen now (January 26 , 1841 )


received was, ' Let a large body of troops be assembled and

let an awful display of celestial vengeance be made.'

With these orders in his pocket, Kishen went down next

day (January 27 , 1841 ) to the Second Bar Pagoda where, with

beaming countenance and a pleasant smile on his lips, he held

a levée and entertained Elliot and a select company of British

officers at lunch, pretending the utmost cordiality and the

frankest determination to carry ont the stipulations of the Treaty

of Chnenpi. Elliot and the British officers were all completely

deceived. Whilst Kishen were pleasantly chatting with his guests

near the Bogue, another Edict issued at Peking, in which the

Emperor, referring to the proposed cession of a port , stated that

a glance at these memorials filled him with indignation and grief,

that Kishen had deceived him by soliciting as an Imperial favour

what the barbarians demanded by force. One more chance was,

however, given to Kishen, to amend his craven conduct, by

driving off and destroying those foreigners : Let him proceed

immediately to take command of all the officers and subalterns

and lead them on to the extermination of these barbarians ,

thus hoping to atone for and save himself.' Other Edicts were

issued within the next few days ordering the immediate recapture

of Chusan, and the dispatch of picked veteran soldiers from

Hupeh, Sszechnen and Kweichou to Canton. Three special

Commissioners (Yikshan, Lung Wan and Yang Fang) were

ordered to proceed to Canton to organize and superintend a war

of unconditional extermination . No question of opium was now

raised. The hateful brood of barbarians ' were to be destroyed,

one and all, by any means, foul or fair.

On the day when one of these Edicts was issued at Peking

(January 30, 1841 ) and dispatched so as to reach Kishen in

12 days, Elliot issued a circular to Her Majesty's subjects in

China stating that negotiations with the Imperial Commission

proceed satisfactorily. ' However, when Elliot had his next

interview with Kishen (February 13, 1841 ) , he had heard a

whisper of the contents of the Edict which had reached Kishen

two days before ( February 11 , 1841 ) and put a few searching


questions to him. Meeting with evasive answers, Elliot found

his worst suspicions confirmed , and prepared once more for war .

Five days later (February 18, 1841 ) the Chinese themselves

commenced hostilities by firing on a boat of the armed steamer

Nemesis from a fort on Wangtong island. Next day the British

squadron began to assemble at the Bogue. Kishen having

formally declined to carry out the stipulations of the Chuenpi

Treaty, war was declared, and the Cantonese Authorities com-

menced it by the issue of proclamations offering $50,000 for

Elliot or any other rebellious ringleader ' (February 25 , 1841 ) .

A landing having been effected by the English, beyond

the reach of the Chinese guns, on South-Wangtong (February 25,

1841 ) , a battery was erected there during the night, and at

daybreak (February 26, 1841 ) commenced the Third Battle of

the Bogue, by an attack on the batteries of North- Wangtong and

Aneunghoi. In the space of a few hours the Chinese positions

were carried, 300 guns spiked, 1,000 prisoners made in the forts,

and about 250 Chinese killed and 102 wounded. Admiral Kwan,

the descendant of the god of war, was among the killed . After

compelling the prisoners to bury the dead, the victors allowed

them all to depart in peace. Next day ( February 27 , 1841 ) the

fleet proceeded to attack an entrenched camp, situated on the left

bank of the river, just below Whampoa . It was defended by 100

pieces of artillery and garrisoned by 2,000 men of the élite of

the Hunan troops, who offered a brave and determined resistance

in a hand to hand fight . But British discipline and pluck

scattered them and the camp was carried. An old British ship

(Cambridge) which the Chinese had purchased under the name

Chesapeake, and fitted out as a frigate, was also captured and

blown up, after great slaughter.

As the troops advanced beyond Whampoa, destroying

battery after battery, the European merchant ships came up to

Whampoa apace and resumed trade on the day (March 1 , 1841 )

when the fleet , by carrying the enemy's works at Liptak and

Eshamei, approached Canton city. Major- General Sir Hugh

Gough, having arrived ( March 2 , 1841 ) , took command of the


land forces, whilst Captain the Hon . Le Fleming Senhouse

commanded the fleet as Senior Naval Officer, in the absence of

Commodore Bremer. A masked battery on the N.E. end of

Whampoa Island was carried (March 2, 1841 ) and when

Liptak ( Howqua's Folly) was occupied (March 3, 1841 ) by

the advanced squadron, the Acting Prefect of Canton city (Yue

Pao-shun) came with a flag of truce, begging for a suspension

of hostilities for three days. Negotiations commenced but

came to nothing. The armistice having expired at 11 a.m. on

March 6 , 1841 , the works in advance of Howqua's Folly were

captured at once. Elliot, seeing the city in the power of the

fleet anchored close to its southern frontage, assumed that all

opposition was now subdued, and issued forthwith a proclamation

to the people ( March 6, 1841 ) stating that the Emperor's bad

advisers were responsible for the proceedings, that the war was

with the Chinese Government, and that the people and the city

would be spared, if trade were quietly resumed without further


Trade indeed did flourish all through this month in spite

of the hostilities between the troops, the war being so far only

a contest between the naval and military forces of the two

countries. But the Chinese officials secretly continued their

policy of extermination without flinching. Kishen was arrested

by Imperial orders, loaded with chains and thus carried off from

Canton (March 12 , 1841 ) to be tried in Peking . On the same

day, the first merchant ship, since the raising of the blockade,

left Whampoa with a full cargo. Business continued to increase

there steadily.

Observing, however, active preparations for a resumption of

hostilities in the S.W. of Canton city, the British commanders

resumed hostilities (March 13, 1841 ) , when seven batteries, ob-

structing the inner passage (Taiwong-kau) from Macao to Canton,

being armed with 105 cannons, were captured by the armed

steamer Nemesis (Captain Hall) , and the fort in the Macao

passage, near Canton, was captured by H.M.S. Calliope (Captain

Herbert) . A lull of quiet now ensued and lasted for a few days.


But on March 16 , 1841 , a flag of truce having been fired

upon by the Chinese, the enemy's works on Fatee and Dutch

Folly were attacked and captured and a large flotilla of war

junks was destroyed. By this action the western as well as

the southern portions of Canton city were brought under the

guns of the squadron. The factories also were occupied by

British troops (March 18, 1841 ) and the whole city was now

at the mercy of Captain Elliot . But for the second time the

city was spared , without a ransom, on condition that the hostile

preparations should be discontinued and trade resumed. One of

the newly appointed Special Imperial Commissioners, Yang Fang,

who, to the chagrin of the Emperor, had boldly recommended

that a haven for stowage should be allowed to the foreigners,'

had already arrived in Canton . He now concluded with Elliot

a formal Convention (March 30, 1841 ) . The terms of this

Convention were, ( 1 ) that the British ships of war remain

near the factories, (2 ) that the Chinese discontinue further

preparations for war, (3 ) that foreign merchants may at once

return to the factories and that foreign ships may continue the

legitimate trade at Whampao, paying the usual port charges

and other duties to the Chinese Government. Yang Fang and

the Viceroy (Eliang ) issued forthwith a joint proclamation

stating that Elliot had assured them that all he wanted was

trade and nothing else.' Accordingly they exhorted the people,

by all means to continue trading with foreigners without fear.

At the same time the two officials reported to the Emperor,

that Elliot, in saying all he wanted was trade and nothing else,

had renounced his claim to Hongkong as well as his former

demand of an indemnity for the opium surrendered to Lin ,

and that the British fleet would retire from Canton as soon

as an Imperial Decree authorizing resumption of trade with

the barbarians was received .

Things now appeared to go on quietly. The Chinese officials ,

however, continued their warlike preparations, and secretly stirred

up the people to join in the war of extermination . The

continuance of the trade kept them in funds. So the foundries


at Fatshan were working day and night, casting new cannons

and turning out, under foreign superintendence, a number of

five-ton guns, which were forthwith placed in position for an

attack on the British fleet, but, in the absence of proper gun

carriages, in a manner which left the guns unworkable . Masked

batteries were also erected on the sly along the river front,

and new fleets of war-junks and fire-ships were collected in the

creeks connecting Fatshan with Canton.

Meanwhile, however, trade continued briskly as if all were

peace, although a Mr. Field and two young officers of H.M.S.

Blenheim were assassinated (March 26, 1841 ) on their way to

Macao. Elliot himself took up once more his residence in the

factories (April 5 , 1841 ) where he had been a prisoner but a

year before. He did so partly to disarm suspicion as to the

good intentions of the English and partly to keep himself

informed of what was going on in Canton city, where Lin was

still residing as adviser of the Commissioners who were daily

expected . As soon as Yikshan, the Chief of the Commission,

arrived in Canton ( April 14, 1841 ) , together with Lung Wan,

the second Commissioner, and the new Viceroy, Kikung, a

secret conclave was held between them and Yang Fang, the

third Commissioner, and Lin. They all agreed that Canton

was defenceless , that there were not sufficient troops to dislodge

the British from their present position , and that therefore they

should all make a show of friendly relations until the British

forces had left Canton, as they intended doing, to prosecute the

war in the North, but that, as soon as the expedition had left,

they would block up with piles and stone junks every single

outlet of the Canton River and re-build every fort, ready to

assume the offensive once more.

This scheme they confidentially reported forthwith to the

Emperor. But Elliot, who generally had good information,

heard something of this plan (May 14, 1841 ) and at once

ordered the expedition, which was to have started for Amoy

and Ningpo the next day ( May 15 , 1841 ) , to be postponed

indefinitely. H.M.S. Columbine also had brought news (May 10,


1841 ) that Eleepoo had, like Kishen, fallen into disgrace, and

that Yuekien, one of the most violent enemies of the English,

had replaced him as Imperial Commissioner at Ningpo.

Elliot was waiting for the Chinese to strike the first blow.

But when he found that the Shameen battery, which had been

carried and dismantled in March, was about to be re-armed,

he called upon the Cantonese Authorities to stop this and every

other warlike movement at once. Finding that they evaded

his demands, Captain Elliot forthwith (May 17 , 1841 ) sent

for troops from Hongkong. Next day (Mar 18 , 1841 ) , the

British forces (consisting of 2,600 combatants ) started from

Hongkong for Canton, leaving but a small portion of the 37th

Madras Native Infantry to protect the settlement at Hongkong.

The Cantonese Authorities meanwhile continued to pretend

friendly feelings, whilst heavy masses of picked troops from

other provinces were daily pouring into the city. To mislead

Elliot and the foreign merchants, the Acting Prefect issued

(May 20, 1841 ) a proclamation urging the people, who were

leaving the city in large numbers in dread of the approaching

conflict, to remain quiet in their lawful pursuits and to continue

trade with foreigners without alarm or suspicion. Unbeknown

to Yang Fang, who as an experienced soldier knew the strength

of the British forces and accordingly counselled patience, Yikshan

made secret arrangements for a simultaneous night-attack on the

British fleet , by means of fire-ships. Elliot received information

of the proposed movement and immediately issued a circular

(March- 21 , 1841 ) warning Her Majesty's subjects and all other

foreign merchants in the factories to retire from Canton before

sunset . At 11 p.m. the attack commenced from the western

fort (Saipaotoi) near Shameen , where a new five-ton gun had

been mounted. A series of fire-boats came suddenly, with the

tide, down upon the British ships. The crews of these fire-ships

carried stink-pots and fire-balls and were armed with long

boarding pikes. The moment the first of these fire-ships were

hailed and fired into by the British sentries, the Chinese forts

and masked batteries along the river front opened fire on the


British ships anchored in the river and the Hunan and Szechuen

troops attacked the untenanted factories and plundered them.

Yang Fang only heard of the attack when it had commenced.

He stamped and swore, but it was too late. The attack entirely

miscarried, because the British ships were all on the alert and

prepared for it. They immediately poured shot and shell into

the fire-ships, the moment they came within easy range, and

ther turned their guns on the batteries which were speedily

silenced. Next morning all the Chinese batteries within range

of the ships were carried by assault and a flotilla of over 100

war-junks and fire-ships was captured and burned ( May 22,

1841 ) . The next two days the British forces prepared for a

concerted attack on Canton city. On May 24, 1841 , after firing

a royal salute in honour of Her Majesty's birthday, the afternoon

was spent in collecting large numbers of barges for the transport

of the troops in shallow water, in replying to occasional shots

fired from masked batteries in the suburbs, and in moving troops

to their appointed stations. In the evening, nearly 2,000 men

were conveyed in large covered barges, collected by Captain

Belcher, up the northern branch of the river from Shameen

towards the North-west gate of the city. After landing, near

the village of Tsinghoi , the guns and artillery during the night,

and reconnoitring the neighbourhood at daybreak, a start was

made, under the command of Major- General Burrell, at 9 a.m.

(May 25, 1841 ) . The troops marched across the swampy

paddy-fields in the direction of the North-west gate, driving

the village volunteers before them, attacked and carried at the

point of the bayonet the four outlying forts outside that and the

North gate, and took by assault, though not without considerable

loss of men and officers, a strongly entrenched camp which was

protected by the guns on the city walls. At the same time an

attack was made on the southern suburbs. Major Pratt, with

the Cameronians, took possession of the factories, whilst the

ships in the river bombarded the Tartar General's head-quarters.

Yikshan and Yang Fang were entirely disconcerted by these

movements. They had not expected the city to be attacked in


the North-west, where its fortifications were strongest, but had

prepared for an assault in the South and especially in the East.

The bombardment also caused a great panic in the city, while

the Chinese five-ton guns could not be brought to bear upon

the British ships so as to reply to their fire.

The following day (May 26, 1841 ) the rain poured down

in torrents and put almost a stop to the movements of both

sides. The British troops were waiting for fresh supplies of

guns and ammunition, but before nightfall all preparations for

the assault of the city walls were completed and fifteen pieces

of artillery in position before the northern gates . Next morning

(May 27, 1841 ) , at the very moment when the attack was

going to be sounded, a sudden stop was put to the movement

of the troops, to their intense disappointment. The news came

that Elliot had concluded a treaty of peace. This Treaty of

Canton, arranged between Elliot, Yikshan and Kikung (May

27, 1841 ) was based on the following stipulations, viz . ( 1 ) that

the Tartar troops and the braves from the other provinces

(between whom and the volunteers there was a deadly feud),

amounting to about 35,000 men, should immediately evacuate

the city without display of banners ; (2 ) that the Imperial

Commissioners should leave the city within six days and proceed

to a distance of at least 60 miles ; (3) that the British forces

would not leave Canton nor retire beyond the Bogue, until the

following payments had been made, viz . $ 6,000,000 as a ransom

of the city to be paid within one week, $ 300,000 compensation

for the pillage of the factories, $ 10,000 for Mr. Moss and the

other sufferers by the attack on the British schooner Black

Joke, and $25,000 for the owners of the Spanish brig Bilbaino ;

(4) that a promise be given, not to re-arm any of the fortified

places at the Bogue or inside the river, and to stop all further

warlike preparations until affairs should be settled between the

two nations ; (5 ) that trade should at once be resumed at Canton

and Whampoa .

It will be noticed that Elliot did not expressly include

among the stipulations of this Treaty either the confirmation


of the cession of Hongkong (which, he no doubt supposed,

required no further confirmation) , or compensation for the opium


surrendered to Lin (which he considered settled by his drafts

on the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury) . As to a war

indemnity, he no doubt reserved that for the reckoning yet to

be made with the Imperial Government, the real instigators of

the war . The Manchu Annals incorrectly state that Elliot

demanded and obtained the opium money ' in addition to a

' war indemnity,' and make the further doubtful assertion that

Elliot first proposed to Yikshan to exchange Tsimshatsui and

Kowloon for the Island of Hongkong, but that, when Yikshan

pointed out that the Emperor had not yet been invited to agree

to the cession of Hongkong, Elliot consented to let the question

of Hongkong stand over for discussion (with the Imperial

Government) . The Annalist accordingly blames the Commis-

sioners for omitting, in their reports to the Throne, all reference

to the payment of the opium indemnity and to the cession of


The advantages gained by this ten days' campaign and the

consequent Treaty of Canton were very great. The removal

from the scene of those troops which alone had stood the British

fire, and which had drawn upon themselves the ill- feeling of

the Cantonese so as to cause danger of civil war in the city,

was a decided advantage. The expulsion of the Imperial

Commissioners, who had been the prime movers in all hostilities,

was calculated to make them comparatively harmless , while the

temporary crippling of the provincial exchequer deprived them,

at least for a time, of the sinews of war. But the greatest

advantage gained by the Canton Treaty was the speedy

termination of the campaign which, within a few weeks after

the first blow was struck, set the British troops free, just when

the summer was coming on, to operate in the North .

On the day after the conclusion of peace (May 28, 1841 ) ,

it happened that the third company of the 37th Madras

Native Infantry, under Lieutenant Hadfield and two subalterns,

Devereux and Berkeley, having lost their way, were surrounded,


late in the evening and far from the main body, by masses

of Chinese volunteers. Seeing that the muskets of the company

(none of which had percussion locks), being soaked with the

rain, persistently missed fire, these volunteers attacked our men

with long spears and pruning hooks, against which the bayonets

were at a fearful disadvantage. But there this little company

of sepoys, between fifty and sixty strong, stood undaunted for

several hours, formed in square, unable to fire their muskets,

but bravely repelling the continued attacks of some two thousand

Chinese until at last two companies of Royal Marines came to

the rescue and scattered the volunteers . Yet the rescued company

lost only one man killed (hacked to pieces in their sight ) and

fifteen (including Ensign Berkeley) wounded . This rencontre,

between that one company of Madras Native Infantry and a

few thousand volunteers near the village of Samyuenli, was

vastly exaggerated by the Chinese officials and reported to the

Emperor in glowing colours as the Battle of Samyuen Village,'

whereupon the Emperor sarcastically remarked that the Canton

yokels appeared to have accomplished more than the whole of

the regular armies of China. These remarks of the Emperor

gave subsequently an immense impetus to the Fatshan-Canton

volunteer movement.

Five months later ( October 30, 1841 ) , Her Majesty the

Queen expressed her entire approbation of the operations against

Canton, but Captain Elliot, to whom the credit of the conclusion

of the Treaty is due, appears to have received neither approbation

nor thanks at the hands of his country. His Treaty of Chuenpi,

by which he gained the territory of Hongkong for Her Majesty's

possession, remained ignored by both Governments. The six

million dollars which he recovered by his Canton Treaty ' in

diminution of the just claims of Her Majesty's Government,'

and which covered the amount of the bills drawn by him on

Her Majesty's Treasury in payment of the opium surrendered

to Lin, was not applied to that purpose, but his bills were left

dishonoured and the opium compensation question allowed to

stand over for some years longer, while Her Majesty immediately



allowed twelve months ' full batta to the naval and military

forces in China out of those six million dollars.

Elliot may have been to blame for the trust he reposed in

Kishen's willingness or ability to carry out the stipulations of

the Chuenpi Treaty, for the haste with which he withdrew the

British troops from Chusan (though the frightful mortality rate

which reigned there may be his excuse) , and for his omission

to secure the approval of the Emperor before thus carrying out

his part of the stipulations . But such errors of judgment ought

to have been balanced by the consideration of the many years'

faithful and approved service which he had rendered to his

country under the most harassing and painful circumstances,

and by the heroism he displayed in hurrying to the rescue of

his imprisoned countrymen at the risk of his life in 1839. All

honour is due to the memoryof brave Captain Elliot .

Strange to say, Commodore Bremer returned (June 18, 1841 )

from Calcutta with the news that he had been appointed Joint

Plenipotentiary, though, if telegraphic communication had then

existed, Elliot would have been informed long before (May 14 ,

1841 ) that both he and Bremer had already been superseded .

A few weeks after Commodore Bremer's return, he was, together

with Captain Elliot, shipwrecked in the great typhoon (July 21 ,

1841 ) and they escaped but by a hair's breadth capture and

probable assassination by Chinese pirates or soldiers . Captain

Elliot left China for Europe (August 24, 1841 ) disappointed and

unjustly dishonoured, together with Commodore Bremer. There

is a singular coincidence in the fact that the fate of Sir George

Robinson, who first recommended the annexation of Hongkong

officially, and who was curtly recalled for it, befell also the man

who, against his own will perhaps, had procured the formal

cession of Hongkong.

Sir Henry Pottinger, Baronet, a Major- General in the East

India Company's service, had been selected (May 15 , 1841 ) to be

Her Majesty's Sole Plenipotentiary and Minister Extraordinary,

to proceed to China on a special mission to the Chinese

Government . He had, at the same time, been commissioned


to act as Chief Superintendent of the trade of Her Majesty's

subjects with that country and invested with full power to

negotiate and conclude a Treaty for the arrangement of the

differences subsisting between Great Britain and China. For

the latter purpose, Major- General Sir Hugh Gough and Admiral

Sir William Parker were associated with him as respective

Commanders-in-chief of the military and naval forces in China.

Sir H. Pottinger having arrived at Macao (August 10 , 1841 )

together with Sir W. Parker, by the steam- frigate Sesostris,

and called on Governor Pinto, held forthwith several conferences

with Captain Elliot, Sir Hugh Gough and Mr. A. R. Johnston.

He next dispatched (August 13, 1841 ) his Secretary, Major

Malcolm, to Canton, to deliver to the Imperial Commissioners

and to the Viceroy dispatches announcing his arrival as Sole

Plenipotentiary, and warning the Chinese Authorities that the

slightest infringement of the terms of the truce, concluded by

the Treaty of Canton, would lead to an instant renewal of

hostilities in the Canton Province.

The arrival of these dispatches, and the plain warning

thus given to the Chinese Authorities, caused great excitement

at Canton. The literati and gentry viewed the attitude of

superiority and the tone of undisguised severity, which Sir

H. Pottinger had adopted in these dispatches, so utterly at

variance with the polite and humbly respectful style of Elliot's

communications, as a studied insult and unbearable disgrace.

The popular feeling, thus aroused , vented itself at the next

public examination of graduates ( September 16, 1841 ) , when

the Acting Prefect (Yü Pao-shun ) was hooted by the students

and driven out of the examination hall as a public traitor. The

people now made common cause with their officials , though

they hated them, and the officials, egged on by the literati to

defy Sir H. Pottinger's warning, waited only for a diminution

of the forces at Hongkong when they re-built most of the forts

inside the Bogue. But when they attempted ( September, 1841 )

to re-arm the Wangtong forts, close to the Bogue, H.M.S.

Royalist, forming part of the small squadron under the command


of Captain Nias (of H.M.S. Herald), immediately destroyed the

works without ado.

On the day of his arrival at Macao (August 10, 1841 ) ,

Sir H. Pottinger issued a Gazette Extraordinary to inform Her

Majesty's subjects at Macao and Hongkong of his appointment

and the nature of his commission . Two days later he intimated

(August 12, 1841 ) that the primary object of his mission was

to secure a speedy and satisfactory close of the war, and that

no consideration of mercantile interests would be allowed to

interfere with that object. In the same notification he referred

to the well-understood perfidy and bad faith ' of the Cantonese

Authorities, and warned British subjects of a probable interrup-

tion of the present truce, cautioning them against putting

themselves or their property in the power of the Chinese officials.

As to the occupation of Hongkong, Sir H. Pottinger stated,

at the close of this notification, that the arrangements made

by his predecessor with reference to Hongkong should remain

in force until the pleasure of Her Majesty regarding that Island

and those arrangements should be received.' These words plainly

intimated that the Chuenpi Treaty and the cession of Hongkong,

and especially the act of formally taking possession of the Island

in the name of Her Majesty, had so far been neither disapproved

nor formally approved by Her Majesty's Government . Things

were left in statu quo and that meant, to all practical intents

and purposes, tacit provisional confirmation of the cession of


On August 21 , 1841 , the expedition started from Hongkong,

the ships being all cleared for action. A descent was made

first upon Amoy. The forts, town and citadel of Amoy, together

with the fortified island of Kulangsoo , were captured (August

26, 1841 ) . Leaving a small garrison at Amoy, the expedition

proceeded to Chusan , where Tinghai fell into the hands of the

English after a noble resistance ( October 1 , 1841 ) . In taking

possession again of the whole island of Chusan, Sir H. Pottinger

notified (October 2, 1841 ) , by a public circular, that under no

circumstances would Chusan be restored again to the Chinese


Government, until the whole of the demands of England (as

previously made at Tientsin) were not only complied with but

carried into full effect. The fortified towns of Chinhai (October

10, 1841 ) and Ningpo (October 13, 1841 ) were next occupied.

At Chinhai a most obstinate resistance was offered by the Chinese

troops. When the Imperial Commissioner Yue-kien, who had

previously tortured and murdered an English prisoner (Captain

Stead), saw that all was lost, he committed suicide rather

than surrender himself into the hands of the English. The

transport Nerbulda having been wrecked on the Formosan coast

(September 26 , 1841 ) , nearly the whole of the crew and

passengers were murdered by Chinese officials in prison . The

same scenes occurred after the wreck of the British brig Anne.

These dastardly deeds, for which a Manchu Brigadier called

Tahunga was chiefly responsible, were reported to the Emperor,

and gloated over all through the Empire as great victories

gained in battle, and Tahunga was promoted in consequence.

On receiving the news of the fall of Tinghai, Chinhai and

Ningpo, the Emperor immediately ordered the defences of

Tientsin and Taku to be strengthened (November 1 , 1841 ) and

appealed to the whole nation to rise against the English and

continue unsparingly the war of extermination (November 15,

1841 ) . Kishen was now pardoned and called into service again as

assistant to Yikking, who was dispatched (December 1 , 1841 )

as Imperial Commissioner to recover Chinhai at any cost .

A lull now ensued in the proceedings. The Chinese felt

that the supremacy of China over the rest of the world was

at stake and carefully prepared for the struggle which was to

decide the question for ever. The British expedition also was

waiting for reinforcements, as sickness had made great havoc

among the troops. Sir H. Pottinger meanwhile returned to

Hongkong and Macao where he learned that the Cantonese had,

for months past, been straining every nerve to prepare for an

early renewal of hostilities. The Imperial Commissioner Yikshan

had enrolled (October 8 , 1841 ) large bodies of paid village

volunteers for the defence of Canton city, to the great annoyance


of the citizens . Stoneboats had been scuttled at Howqua's Folly

and in Blenheim Reach, to obstruct access to Canton. The

Chinese gunpowder factories-one of which, near Canton city ,

blew up by accident (January 12, 1842 ) -were working extra

time. The cannon foundries at Fatshan were turning out

superior kinds of brass guns of a foreign pattern . Six new forts

had been constructed under foreign advice, and an army of

30,000 men was under instruction in the use of musket and

bayonet. Sir H. Pottinger stopped the seizure of Chinese vessels

which had been ordered by the officer (Captain Nias ) who, after

the death at Hongkong of Sir Humphrey Le Fleming Senhouse

(June 13 , 1841 ) , had succeeded to the post of Senior Naval

Officer. But Sir H. Pottinger at the same time warned the

Cantonese Authorities repeatedly that the least attempt to rebuild

the Bogue Forts would bring upon Canton a most severe


During the month of March, 1842, the struggle was to be

renewed. For months previous to that date the Provincial

Authorities up and down the coast made extensive preparations

with a view to resume the combat, in March, by simultaneous

attacks upon the British positions at Hongkong, Chinhai and


As to Hongkong, it appears from Chinese records that

Yikshan had secretly reported to the Emperor, that Hongkong

had but a feeble garrison of Indian troops, and that among the

large Chinese population that had flocked to that Colony, he

had secured the services of 3,000 Chinese residents of Hongkong

who had promised to rise against the foreigners at the proper

time, whilst the remainder of Chinese residing in the Colony

were all desirous to return to their Chinese allegiance. To

provide a popular leader for this movement, the Emperor selected

Kiying for the purpose of organizing a sudden massacre of all

foreigners at Hongkong. At the same time, a Censor, Soo

Ting-kwai, reported to the Throne, that the moment was

propitious for a general attack on the British positions in China,

because the Nepaulese had commenced war against them in


India and the British commanders in China had thereby been

compelled to send many of their ships to India to rescue their

countrymen there. Kiying was accordingly ordered by the

Emperor to proceed immediately to Canton, with a view to direct

the attack to be made on Hongkong, but soon after he had

started he was recalled again, because the Emperor had learned

that Nanking was threatened by the British forces. The

preconcerted attack on the British positions at Ningpo and

Chinhai was now made at once (March 10 , 1842 ) but failed .

Not only were the assaults immediately repelled, but the British

forces now resumed the offensive, capturing the district cities of

Tszeki (March 15, 1842 ) and Chapu (May 18 , 1842 ) and moving

northward in the direction of Nanking . Through the recall of

Kiying and the advance of the British forces, the intended rising

in Hongkong came to nothing. Rumours of a proposed attack

on Hongkong were repeatedly referred to in the local papers

(April 21 and July 28 , 1842) but found no credence among

the European community. Nevertheless Admiral Cochrane and

General Burrell deemed it prudent (about the middle of July)

to make a counter-demonstration by proceeding with a small

squadron up the Canton River as far as Whampoa. This

measure had the desired effect . But the British residents of

Hongkong never knew what a serious danger they had escaped.

Yikshan and the Viceroy of Canton commenced (since

February, 1842 ) negotiations with the French, or, if the Manchu

Annals (partly translated by Mr. E. H. Parker) are to be trusted ,

had offers to build war-ships for use against the English thrust

upon them. Yikshan and Kikung had several interviews with

M. de Challaye, the French Consul at Canton, and Colonel de

Jancigny (the latter having just arrived on a commercial

mission to China) . Possibly, the aim of M. de Challaye was

merely to tender the mediation of the French Government with

a view to arrange terms of peace, whilst M. de Jancigny was

looking for orders for French manufacturers of warlike stores.

Yikshan reported to the Emperor the offers of assistance he

had received from the French, but added, ' the enemy's designs


are unfathomable and possibly they are really assisting the

English in an underhand way and acting as spies on us for

them.' The Manchu Annalist further states that the French

hung on from February to June (1842) awaiting our commands

and at last, in June, proceeded to Wusung, but the English

were already far up the Yangtsze.' But, whilst the Cantonese

officials distrusted this first syndicate represented by Colonel de

Jancigny, a wealthy private citizen of Canton, Poon Sze- shing,

received permission from the Emperor to employ Colonel de

Jancigny to order out from France a number of war vessels,

guns, and torpedoes (then quite a novelty), for use against

the English, and to re-organize, with de Jancigny's advice,

the whole Cantonese navy .

These intrigues were, however, too late in the field . Whilst

the Cantonese were wasting public and private funds in

purchasing new and expensive munitions of war, the English

expedition in Central China made a speedy end of the war.

After the fall of Wusung (June 16, 1842 ) and Shanghai (June

19 , 1842 ) the Chinese Commissioners offered terms of peace .

Sir H. Pottinger, who had rejoined the expedition (June 22,

1842 ) , informed them what the demands of England were, but

declined entering upon any negotiations with the Commissioners

until they had received the authority of the Emperor to

concede those demands. Sir H. Pottinger also issued a public

proclamation (July 5, 1842 ) in which he informed the Chinese

people of the real points at issue between England and China.

This proclamation brought forward four complaints and three

demands. The complaints were, ( 1 ) that, whilst English

merchants had for two centuries patiently suffered continuous

ill-treatment at the hands of Cantonese officials, this systematic

ill-usage exceeded all bounds when Commissioner Lin, in 1839 ,

instead of seizing the actual offenders, Chinese and foreign,

implicated in the opium traffic, forcibly confined an English

officer and English merchants and threatened them with death ,

so as to extort from them what opium there might be in China

at that time, in order to gain favour with the Emperor ; (2) that


the Ministers at Peking, men without truth or good faith,'

after concluding a truce and sending Kishen to Canton to arrange

terms of peace, suddenly changed their minds, replaced Kishen

by Yikshan and commenced a war of extermination , thus

compelling the English to take the Bogue Forts, to bring Canton

itself to submission, and to take from it a ransom for the

punishment of such ill faith ; ( 3) that the High Commissioner

Yuekien and other high officers, like Tahunga, had tortured and

killed shipwrecked Englishmen , reporting such brutal outrages

committed on defenceless individuals to the Emperor as victories

gained in battle ; and finally (4) that the Cantonese Authorities,

seeking to confine to themselves the profits of the foreign trade

and extorting, through the Hong Merchants, illegal payments

from the foreign merchants, disguised everything under false

statements to the Emperor. The demands which the English

nation was thus in justice entitled to make were (1 ) compensation

for losses and expenses, (2) a friendly and becoming intercourse

on terms of equality between officers of the two countries, and (3)

the cession of insular territory for commerce and for the residence

of merchants and as a security and guarantee against future

renewal of offensive acts.

This appeal to the conscience of the nation, and this

impeachment of the Manchu Government at the bar of public

opinion in China, had a very great effect . It was, as many

Chinese themselves acknowledged, a truthful exposition of the

real issue of the conflict between China and England, caused

by the treatment accorded to foreigners at the hands of Chinese

officials, who acted on the supposition of China's absolute

supremacy and in defiance of international equality. Moreover,

this proclamation, whilst justifying the cession of Hongkong

and the occupation of Chusan, gave to the opium question that

accidental and extraneous position which it really occupied in

the history of this first Anglo-Chinese war.

Whilst the British forces were steadily advancing towards

Chinkiang and Nanking, the minds of the Chinese officials and

people in the North were filled with dread. The superiority


of British strategy, arms and discipline, over the best Chinese

military resources and efforts, were painfully obvious to the whole

nation. All through the maritime provinces, public opinion

now began to turn in favour of making peace with the English,

the people having to their surprise noticed that the English

confined their warlike operations to retributive dealings with the

Government troops and spared the people themselves as much as

possible. Yikshan now wrote to the Emperor that the Cantonese

were all in league with the foreigners. A feeling of despair

began to take possession of the statesmen, officials and military

leaders of China, and a positive panic fell on them when a total

eclipse of the sun, the usual presage, according to Chinese

superstition, of national disaster, occurred (July 8 , 1842 ) during


the advance of the English fleet on Nanking. With the capture

of Chinkiang (July 21 , 1842 ) the key to the Grand Canal, the

principal channel of the food supply of North- China, fell into

the hands of the English. Kiying, Eleepoo and Niu Kien now

(July 22 , 1842 ) offered terms of peace again, but were

more told to go and get first of all the Emperor's approval of

the British demands as a whole, and then they might come and

discuss details. The expedition steadily continued its onward

move towards Nanking. On August 9, 1842 , the troops were

landed a few miles from Nanking, a reconnaissance was made,

and two days later everything was in readiness for an assault on

Nanking city (August 11 , 1842 ) , when an armistice was applied

for and granted for the purpose of obtaining the Emperor's

sanction of the formulated British demands, in order to conclude

on that basis a formal treaty of peace. The stipulations were

forwarded (August 13, 1842 ) to Peking by special messenger,

and, on his return with the Emperor's approval, the Treaty

of Nauking, between Her Majesty the Queen of England by

Sir H. Pottinger on the one side, and the Emperor of China

by the Commissioners Kiying, Eleepoo and Niu Kien on the

other side, was solemnly concluded (August 29, 1842 ) . Major

Malcolm started next day for London , with one copy of the

Treaty, to lose no time in obtaining Her Majesty's signature,


whilst another copy was immediately forwarded to Peking and.

returned thence with the Emperor's signature a fortnight later

(September 15, 1842 ) .

The demands agreed to by the Treaty of Nanking were :

(1) peace and friendship between China and England ; ( 2) the-

opening of five ports, Canton ,, Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo, and

Shanghai, for the residence of British merchants, and their

families, under the extra-territorial jurisdiction of British.

Consular officers ; (3) the cession of Hongkong : (4) payment

of an opium indemnity of six million dollars ; (5) payment of

the Hong Merchants' debts, amounting to three million dollars ;.

(6 ) payment of twelve million dollars war expenses ; (7 ) all

payments to be made, with interest at 5 per cent., within fixed

periods ; (8 ) release of all prisoners of war ; (9 ) a general amnesty

in favour of all Chinese who had served the English during

the war ; ( 10 ) a fair and regular tariff of export and import

duties and transit charges ; ( 11 ) fixed terms of equality to be

used in official correspondence ; (12 ) withdrawal of British troops .

from Nanking, Chinkiang, Chinhai , Chusan, and Kulangsoo

on certain conditions ; ( 13 ) ratifications of the Treaty to be

exchanged as soon as possible. This Treaty is more noteworthy

for the stipulations omitted than for those included in it. The

prohibition or legalisation of the opium trade was not referred

to . The war had not been undertaken for the sake of opium.

China was therefore justly left free to settle the opium question

at her own sweet will. More remarkable is the omission to

secure for Chinese settlers on Hongkong freedom of commercial

intercourse with the mainland of China, in the sense of the

Foreign Office instructions of February 3, 1841. Mandarindom

was left unaccountably free to make or mar the fortunes of

Hongkong as a settlement for Chinese.

Whilst negotiating the provisions contained in the third

article of the foregoing Treaty, Sir H. Pottinger was informed

by the Commissioners, that the cession of Hongkong had some

time ago been approved by the Emperor, and needed no further

confirmation. Sir H. Pottinger, however, wished the cession


of Hongkong to be discussed de novo, and informed the

Commissioners, as he himself subsequently (January 21 , 1843 )

stated in writing to a Committee of British merchants, that,

the British Government holding Hongkong could not in any

way disadvantageously affect the external commerce of China ,

because the English Government had no intention of levying

any kind of duties there,' and that Hongkong was merely

to be looked upon as a sort of bonded warehouse in which

merchants could deposit their goods in safety until it should

suit their purposes to sell them to native Chinese dealers or to

send them to a port or place in China for sale.'

This is a point of considerable importance, as it indicates

that the free-port character of Hongkong was the preliminary

understanding on which the third article of the Nanking Treaty

and the cession of Hongkong to the British Crown was now

based . The future discontinuance or continuance of the freedom

of the port of Hongkong is therefore by no means an open

question left to the discretion of the Colonial or Imperial British

Governments, but the latter is absolutely bound by the Nanking

Treaty, as negotiated by Sir H. Pottinger, to maintain the

freedom of the port from all export or import duties of any sort.

It was on this understanding that the Chinese Govern-

ment issued, with Sir H. Pottinger's express approval, an edict

allowing free and unrestricted intercourse to all vessels from

treaty ports in China to Hongkong, and vice versû, on payment

of the export or import duties, as well as anchorage or harbour

charges, legally due at the ports to which goods may be carried

or from which they may be shipped within the Chinese Empire.

The Chinese Government having thus acted on the promise of

Sir H. Pottinger that Hongkong should remain a free port,

the British Government would seem to be bound in good faith

to maintain the freedom of the port inviolate.

The Article referring to the cession of Hongkong runs

thus : It being obviously necessary, and desirable, that British

subjects should have some port whereat they may careen and

refit their ships when required and keep stores for that purpose,


His Majesty the Emperor of China cedes to Her Majesty the

Queen of Great Britain, &c., the Island of Hongkong, to be

possessed in perpetuity by Her Britannic Majesty, her Heirs and

Successors, and to be governed by such laws and regulations as

Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, &c., shall see fit to

direct .' The reason here given why Hongkong should be ceded

is rather curious. It appears to be rather Elliot's than Pot-

tinger's view of the raison d'être of a British possession called

Hongkong . We should not be surprised to find that the English

rendering of this third Article of the Nanking Treaty is a

literal translation of the Chinese text of the corresponding

Article of the Chuenpi Treaty. If it was obviously ' necessary

in 1843 , that English merchants should have dockyards and

dockyard stores in a separate locality on the Chinese coast, it

is very strange that Lord Palmerston and the Cabinet, that

Parliament and the nation, could not be brought to see it,

though the Mathesons, and Stauntons, and Robinsons and others.

did everything to demonstrate that necessity and desirability

from 1833 to 1836. Moreover, it was obviously a sort of

bonded warehouse, with dwelling houses, out of the reach of

the avarice, corruption and oppression of Chinese officials that

was needed, far more than dockyards and dockyard stores. And

it was a Colony rather than a mere trade station or dockyard

that Hongkong had become by the time, when this curious

third Article of the Nanking Treaty was drafted.

Chastised and humbled as China was by the terms of the

Treaty of Nanking, one might suppose that now at last the

Chinese had been taught to surrender, once for all, their claim

of supremacy over all foreign nations. But the popular Chinese

theory, that as there is but one sun in the heavens, so there

can be but one supreme ruler over all under heaven,' which

proposition all mankind ought indeed to be ready to assent

to in a religious sense, was so ingrained in the diplomatic mind

and language of China, in the sense of China's political

supremacy, that, within four months after the conclusion of

the Nanking Treaty, the Emperor issued an Edict (December 24,


1842), ordering Eleepoo ' to meet Pottinger and immediately

explain to him that the Celestial Dynasty has for its principle,

in governing all foreigners without its pale, to look upon them

with the same feeling of universal benevolence with which she

looks upon her own children .' To this non plus ultra of

diplomatic cant-for cant it seemed to be in view of the

Emperor's rejoicing over the destruction of life caused in

Hongkong by the typhoon, and in view of the wholesale murders

committed by Tahunga and approved by the Emperor- Sir

H. Pottinger replied in good earnest . He at once informed

the Emperor, that his Royal Mistress, the Queen of England ,

acknowledges no superior or governor but God, and that the

dignity, the power, and the universal benevolence of Her Majesty

are known to be second to none on earth and are only equalled

by Her Majesty's good faith and studious anxiety to fulfil her

Royal promises and engagements . After this castigation, thus

quietly administered by Sir H. Pottinger, the Chinese officials

were not only careful to exclude from diplomatic correspondence

their usual stock phrases of Chinese political supremacy, but

the Viceroy Kikung actually employed the phrase ' the two

countries ' which, in Elliot's time had provoked the ire and

sarcasm of Viceroy Tang, and wrote to Pottinger (April 16 ,

1843 ) frankly admitting that the two countries are now united

in friendship .'

The news of the conclusion of the Nanking Treaty was

received throughout China with a sigh of intense relief.

Everywhere the preparations for war were immediately dis-

continued. In fact the official measures taken everywhere along

the coast indicated plainly that the Provincial Authorities were

sincerely determined to abide by and carry out the provisions

of the Treaty in good faith. In Canton, the militia was

disbanded (October 13, 1842 ) and all temporary forts were

dismantled. There was indeed a brief popular outburst of

excitement in Canton (November, 1842) , when it was rumoured

that building lots in the Honan suburbs would be appropriated

for dwelling houses for foreign merchants and their families,


and a mob made an attack upon the factories and partially

burned them ( December 7, 1842 ) . But the excitement was

all over the very next day, when Sir Hugh Gough went up

to Canton to investigate the state of things. Within a fortnight

after this ebullition of popular temper, it was so evident that

China meant to abide by the Nanking Treaty, that the military

and naval forces were sent back to England, and over 50

transports and ships of war left Hongkong harbour (December

20, 1842) homeward bound. The war was over. The piping

times of peace had come, and now it was the mission of

Hongkong to smooth down the animosities of the past and to

cement friendship between the two countries in the future.

Sir H. Pottinger at once set to work (January, 1843 ) to

complete the remainder of his successful diplomatic mission, by

settling the details of tariff duties and trade regulations. For

this purpose he had frequent consultations with a representative

Committee of British merchants consisting of Messrs . A.

Matheson, G. T. Braine, W. Thomson, D. L. Burn, and W. P.

Livingston. After the death of Eleepoo (March 4, 1843) ,

Kiying was appointed Chief of the Imperial Commission, and it

was at once foreseen that he would heartily work together with

Pottinger in settling all details. The Viceroy of Canton (Kikung)

also kept up friendly relations and cordially accepted Pottinger's

offer (April 16, 1843) to co-operate with him in putting down the

wholesale smuggling (partly in English craft) then going on,

with the connivance of the Hoppo's underlings (as the Viceroy

himself admitted), on the Canton River. Previous to Kiying's

arrival, the two other members of the Imperial Commission,

Wang An-tung and Hienling, visited Hongkong (May 11 , 1843)

were freely introduced to Hongkong society, dined twice with

Sir H. Pottinger, drove out in a carriage (the first that passed

the gap) to the Happy Valley, spent an evening at the Morrison

Education Society's Institution (on Morrison Hill), attended a

parade of artillery under Major Knowles, witnessed the investiture

of Sir W. Parker, by Sir H. Pottinger, as Knight Grand Cross

of the Bath, and returned to Canton thoroughly charmed with


English civilization. Immediately after Kiying's arrival (June

4, 1843 ) , Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm, who had meanwhile

returned from London with Her Majesty's signature and the

Great Seal of England affixed to the Nanking Treaty, proceeded

to Canton (June 6, 1843 ) and invited Kiying to exchange the

ratifications of the Treaty at Hongkong. Kiying acceded to the

request, repaired to Hongkong (June 23 , 1843) , with Hienling

and Wang An-tung, and the exchange of ratifications was

solemnly performed (June 26, 1843 ) at Government House

(then situated on the spur above the Gaol) . A guard of honour

was in attendance, a large number of residents was present, and

at the moment when the ratifications were exchanged, a royal

salute was fired and responded to from the forts and shipping.

Next, Her Majesty's Proclamation, declaring Hongkong to be

a possession of the British Crown, was read by Lieutenant-Colonel

Malcolm , in the presence of the Imperial Commissioners.

Subsequently, Kiying having retired, the Royal Warrant was

read, appointing Sir H. Pottinger Governor of Hongkong and

its Dependencies. A large dinner party, given in the evening,

concluded the festivities .

Four months afterwards a Supplementary Treaty, concluded

by Sir H. Pottinger and the Imperial Commissioners, was signed

(October 8, 1843) at the Bogue (Foomoonchai ) , by Kiying and

Sir H. Pottinger on behalf of their Majesties, the Emperor of

China and the Queen of England. Besides providing all the

detailed trade-regulations to be observed at the five open ports

of China, this Supplementary Treaty, the stipulations of which

were to be as binding and of the same efficacy as if they had

been inserted in the original Treaty of Nanking, contains several

articles specially referring to Hongkong.

The extradition of criminals was provided for by Article IX.

which stipulated that all Chinese criminals and offenders against

the law, who may flee to Hongkong or to British ships of war

or to British merchantmen for refuge, should be delivered up

on proof or admission of their guilt. Article XIV provided , for

the purpose of effectually preventing piracy and smuggling, that


an officer of the British Government should examine the registers

and passes of all Chinese vessels visiting Hongkong to buy or

sell, and that any Chinese vessel arriving in Hongkong without

such register or pass should be considered an unauthorized or

smuggling vessel, forbidden to trade, and to be reported to the

Chinese Authorities. Article XV provided for the recovery of

debts, incurred by Chinese residents of Hongkong, through the

English Court of Justice, or, if the debtor should flee into.

Chinese territory, through the British Consul at an open Treaty

port. Article XVI provided that the Hoppo of Canton should

furnish the corresponding British officer in Hongkong with

monthly returns of passes granted to Chinese vessels to visit

Hongkong, and that the British officer in Hongkong should

forward similar monthly returns to the Hoppo . Article XVII

provided for small craft plying between Hongkong, Canton and

Macao, being exempt from all port charges if they carried only

passengers, letters or baggage, to the exclusion of all dutiable

articles. Those of the foregoing articles, which referred to

a British officer doing in Hongkong the work of the Chinese

revenue preventive service, and which would have practically

confined Chinese trade with Hongkong to trade between the

five open ports and Hongkong, were disapproved by the Home

Government as much as by the local mercantile community.

No such British officer was ever appointed, and fifteen years

later (June 26 , 1858 ) the whole Supplementary Treaty was

formally abrogated. The object aimed at by those two Articles

(XIV and XVI) , the Chinese Government sought later on to

attain by the so - called Custom's Blockade of Hongkong, and

the duties, assigned by those two Articles to a British officer,

are at the present day discharged by the English staff of the

Kowloon Imperial Maritime Customs Office, established in


As regards that Article of the Nanking Treaty which

provided for the payment by the Chinese Government of an

opium indemnity amounting to six million dollars, the London

Gazette of August 25, 1843, gave notice to those entitled to



compensation, being holders of the certificates given, in 1839,

by Captain Elliot for British-owned opium , that they might

apply, on or after August 30, 1843, for payment at the Treasury

Chambers, at the following rates, per chest, viz .: Patna, £ 66

78. 74d.; Malwa, £ 64 118. 2d.; Benares, £ 61 11s . 3d.; and

Turkey, £ 43 3s. 5. This arrangement, based on the average

prices realized in Canton during 78 days, from September 11 to

November 27 , 1838, caused much dissatisfaction , as it was alleged

that the merchants thus received, after four years' delay, scarcely

one half of what they originally had paid for the opium directly

to the East India Company, besides losing four years ' interest

on their capital. But on the other side it might have been

urged, that, at the time when the opium was taken possession

of by Commissioner Lin, the market was overstocked, sales

impossible, and, if Lin had not destroyed the opium but returned

it to the merchants, they could not have sold it for anything

like what they finally received for it.



January 26 to August 10, 1841 .

HAVING, in the preceding chapter, given an outline of the

political events connected with the cession of Hongkong

to the British Crown, we now take up the thread of its internal


On the very day when the Treaty of Chuenpi was concluded

(January 20, 1841 ) , Captain Elliot issued a circular at Macao,

addressed to Her Britannic Majesty's subjects, informing them

that the Island and Harbour of Hongkong had been ceded to

the British Crown. The news of the cession of Hongkong was

conveyed to England by the steamship Enterprise which left

China on January 23 , 1841. Captain Elliot explained in his

circular of January 20, 1841 , that Her Majesty's Government

had sought for no privilege in China for the exclusive advantage

of British ships and merchants, and that he therefore only

performed his duty in offering the protection of the British

flag to the subjects, citizens and ships of foreign Powers that

might resort to Her Majesty's Possession at Hongkong. A

general invitation was thus given to all the merchants of other

countries to utilize the proposed new British trade station for

commercial purposes . At the same time, Captain Elliot expressly

stated that all just charges and duties to the Chinese Empire

were to be paid as if the trade were conducted at Whampoa.

The Chinese Government was left at liberty to deal with

Hongkong by levying, outside the port and boundaries of the

Colony, charges and duties on exports from or imports into

Chinese territory. This was probably all that Elliot intended ,


and in these respects he simply gave to Hongkong the same

position which Macao had so long maintained .

The Island of Hongkong having been formally taken

possession of, for the purposes of a trade station, in the name

of Her Majesty Queen Victoria (January 26, 1841 ) , Captain

Elliot, as Chief Superintendent of the trade of British subjects

in China, and holding full powers under the Great Seal of the

United Kingdom, to execute the office of Her Majesty's Com-

missioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary in China, issued on

January 29 , 1841 , his first local proclamation (the original

of which is, however, dated February 2 , 1841 ) . In this

proclamation, Captain Elliot , after making due reservation of

Her Majesty's rights, royalties, and privileges, declared that

the Government of the Island should be exercised, pending Her

Majesty's further pleasure, by the person filling the office of

Chief Superintendent of the trade of British subjects in China .

The next point in Captain Elliot's proclamation of January 29,

1841 , was that it established two different systems of government

and two separate codes of law for the administration of justice

in Hongkong. Natives of the Island, and all natives of China

resorting to Hongkong, were to be governed, pending Her

Majesty's further pleasure, according to the laws and customs

of China, every description of torture excepted. But all persons

other than natives of the Island or of China, should fall under

the cognizance of the Criminal and Admiralty jurisdiction at

the time existing in China and enjoy full security and protection

according to the principles and practice of British Law, This

natural bifurcation reflected, at the first formation of the

settlement, the fundamental incompatibility of the Chinese and

European systems of civilization , by creating two separate forms

of government and two separate codes of law, corresponding

with the two separate communities, Chinese and European,

which were about to settle at Hongkong and which immediately

proceeded to divide the town into separate European and Chinese

quarters. But regarding this bifurcation, thus provisionally

introduced , the pleasure of Her Majesty was subsequently made


known, from time to time, gradually extending, by special

Ordinances and executive Regulations, the sphere of English

forms of government and the application of English Law. This

was, however, done cautiously and gradually, in proportion

as the two local communities, European and Chinese, were,

by the slow process of the interaction of English and Chinese

modes of thought, life and education, brought a little nearer

to each other. This process (though hardly perceptible) is still

going on at the present day, but executive regulations and legal

enactments have all along proved utterly futile whenever they

went too far ahead of the successive stages reached by this

extremely slow process of race amalgamation which depends

more on the silent influences of English education, English

speaking and English modes of living than on the exercise of

the rights and powers of the Crown. The Chinese, though the

most docile people in the world when under fair government,

proved utterly intractable whenever the Executive or the

Legislature of the Colony rushed into any unreconciled conflict

with deep-seated national customs of the Chinese people.

By a second proclamation-issued conjointly by Sir J. J.

Gordon Bremer, Commander-in-Chief, and by Captain Elliot,

as Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary, on February 1 , 1841 — all

natives of China, residing in Hongkong, were informed that

they were all, by the fact of their residing on the Island ,

which was now part of Her Majesty's Dominions , subjects

of the Queen of England, to whom and to whose officers they

must pay duty and obedience. Moreover, it was added, that

the inhabitants are hereby promised protection , in Her Ma-

jesty's gracious name, against all enemies whatever and they

are further secured in the free exercise of their religious rites ,

ceremonies and social customs, and in the enjoyment of their

lawful private property and interests.' It must be noted that ,

in the case of this stipulation, not only is the usual reservation

until Her Majesty's further pleasure ' omitted , but for it is

substituted the positive affirmation that this promise was given

in Her Majesty's gracious name.' Anyhow, Her Majesty never,


in the whole history of the Colony, made her pleasure known

contrary to the just principles of religious and social toleration

here guaranteed to Chinese semi-civilized pagans, who were

thereby, more than by anything else, induced to flock to

Hongkong and settle on the Island . The same proclamation.

added, to the statement of the previous proclamation concerning

the rule that Chinese in Hongkong should, until Her Majesty's

further pleasure, be governed according to Chinese laws, customs

and usages (every description of torture excepted), the detailed

provision that, pending Her Majesty's further pleasure, the

Chinese in Hongkong should be governed by the elders of villages

(Tipos), subject to the control of a British Magistrate. Regarding

this point Her Majesty's further pleasure was made known

many years after (Ordinance 8 of 1858), when an attempt was

made to improve the working of the Tipo system by giving

them official salaries. Some years later, when this measure

proved fruitless, the Government discarded the Tipo system

altogether. Yet, although this system is now officially not

recognized and has been replaced by the Registrar General's

Office, the Chinese secretly adhere to their own system faithfully.

The Chinese people in town are at the present day under the

sway of their own headmen (the Tungwa Hospital Committee),.

and the people in the villages are ruled by their elders, as

much as ever.

As regards commerce, this same proclamation stated that

'Chinese ships and merchants resorting to the port of Hongkong

for purposes of trade, are hereby exempted, in the name of

the Queen of England, from charge or duty of any kind to

the British Government,' but, it was added, that the pleasure

of the Government would be declared from time to time by

further proclamations .

According to a (seemingly incorrect) statement resting on

the authority of Commander J. Elliot Bingham, who was at

this time First Lieutenant of H.M.S. Modeste, the terms of the

Chuenpi Treaty included also the surrender by the Chinese,.

as neutral ground, of the peninsula of Kowloon ' meaning


probably only Tsimshatsui) . Mr. Bingham also states that, when

the Chuenpi Treaty was disavowed by the Imperial Government ,

it was seized by the British troops by right of conquest,' a


garrison being kept in Fort Victoria ' ( probably on the site

of the present Barracks), where many commissariat and other

stores were deposited .

During the course of February, 1841 , numerous parties of

British and foreign merchants and missionaries came over from

Macao to prospect the capabilities of Hongkong and to select

sites for warehouses and residences. By the end of March and

the beginning of April, 1841 , shanties, labourers ' matsheds ,

roughly-built store-houses (called godowns) , Chinese shop- keepers '

booths, European bungalows and houses of all descriptions began

to rise up. The first buildings erected in Hongkong are said

(on the evidence of Mr. W. Rawson ) to have been the so-

called Albany godowns (near Spring Gardens) of Lindsay & Co.

Next rose up the buildings at East Point, where Jardine,

Matheson & Co. established themselves. Later on buildings

were erected in the Happy Valley and here and there along the

hill side as far as the present centre of the town. While the

Military and Naval Authorities commenced settling at West

Point, erecting cantonments on the hill side (on the site of

the present Reformatory and later on above Fairlea) and large

Naval Stores (near the shore in the neighbourhood of the

present Gas Company's premises) , the Happy Valley was at first

intended by British merchants for the principal business centre.

However, the prejudices of the Chinese merchants against the

Fungshui (geomantic aspects) of the Happy Valley and the

peculiarly malignant fever which emptied every European house

in that neighbourhood almost as soon as it was tenanted, caused

the business settlement to move gradually westwards. Hill sites ,

freely exposed towards the South-west and South -east, as well

as to the North , were soon discovered as being less subject to

the worst type of malarial fever, and were accordingly studded

with frail European houses mostly covered at first with palm-

leaves. A number of wooden houses were imported from


Singapore and erected on lower storeys of brick or stones. But

at first the only substantial buildings erected by private parties

were a house and godowns built at East Point by order of Mr.

A. Matheson who foresaw the permanency of the Colony at a

time when most people doubted it . The native stone masons,

brick-layers, carpenters and scaffold builders, required for the

construction of roads and barracks (by the Engineer corps of

the Expedition ) and for the erection of mercantile buildings ,

were immediately followed by a considerable influx of Chinese

provision dealers (who settled near the site of the present Central

Market, soon known as the Bazaar ' ), and by Chinese furniture

dealers, joiners, cabinet makers and curio shops, congregating

opposite the present Naval Yard, and along the present Queen's

Road East, then known as the Canton Bazaar.' The day

labourers settled down in huts at Taipingshan, at Saiyingpun

and at Tsimshatsui . But the largest proportion of the Chinese

population were the so-called Tanka or boat people, the pariahs

of South-China, whose intimate connection with the social life

of the foreign merchants in the Canton factories used to call

forth an annual proclamation on the part of the Cantonese

Authorities warning foreigners against the demoralising influences

of these people. These Tan-ka people, forbidden by Chinese

law (since A.D. 1730 ) to settle on shore or to compete at literary

examinations, and prohibited by custom from intermarrying

with the rest of the people, were from the earliest days of the

East India Company always the trusty allies of foreigners . They

furnished pilots and supplies of provisions to British men -of-

war, troopships and mercantile vessels, at times when doing so

was declared by the Chinese Government to be rank treason ,

unsparingly visited with capital punishment. They were the

hangers-on of the foreign factories of Canton and of the British

shipping at Lintin , Kamsingmoon, Tungku and Hongkong Bay.

They invaded Hongkong the moment the settlement was started,

living at first on boats in the harbour with their numerous

families, and gradually settling on shore. They have maintained

ever since almost a monopoly of the supply of pilots and ships'


crews, of the fish trade and the cattle trade, but unfortunately

also of the trade in girls and women . Strange to say, when

the settlement was first started , it was estimated that some 2,000

of these Tan-ka people had flocked to Hongkong, but at the

present time they are about the same number, a tendency having

set in among them to settle on shore rather than on the water

and to disavow their Tan-ka extraction in order to mix on equal

terms with the mass of the Chinese community. The half-caste

population in Hongkong were, from the earliest days of the

settlement of the Colony and down to the present day, almost

exclusively the off-spring of these Tan-ka people. But, like the

Tan-ka people themselves, they are happily under the influence

of a process of continuous re-absorption in the mass of the

Chinese residents of the Colony.

In addition to this spontaneous influx of Chinese provision-

dealers, artizans, labourers and boat-people, there commenced

also, early in 1841 , a natural trade movement, which, if war-times

had been protracted or if the Chinese Mandarins and the policy

of the Hongkong Government had permitted its continuance,

would have resulted in the gradual transfer to Hongkong of

the larger portion of the Macao and Canton junk-trade and

made Hongkong the trade centre of the whole coast of the

Canton Province and the great depot of the entire China trade.

We have on this point the valuable evidence of Mr. A. Matheson

(given before the Select Committee of the House of Commons

on May 4 , 1847 ). Prior to our taking possession of Hongkong,

and for some time after, all the native traders between Canton

and the East Coast passed through the harbour, and generally

anchored there. When the first Europeans settled in Hongkong,

the Chinese showed every disposition to frequent the place ;

and there was a fair prospect of its becoming a place of

considerable trade. The junks from the coast made up their

cargoes there, in place of going to Canton and Macao ; these

cargoes consisted of opium, cotton shirtings, a few pieces of

camlets, and other woollens, and Straits produce, such as pepper,

betel-nut, rattans, &c .' Mr. William Scott, another former Canton


and Hongkong merchant, gave simillar evidence (May 18 , 1847 )

to the effect that, in the first instance, there was no disinclination

whatever on the part of the respectable Chinese shopkeepers,

and other useful people, to come to the Colony. Lieutenant-

Colonel Malcolm's evidence (June 1 , 1847) confirms the

foregoing statements. In a few months,' he said, ' an extensive

trade sprung up and immense quantities of piece goods were

sold on the island , which were transported to the mainland in

native boats. Small vessels were passing hourly between Canton

and Hongkong carrying the goods which were sold by sample

at the former place, and daily vessels were coming from the

north to obtain supplies for the other ports .' Both Mr.

A. Matheson and Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm further stated

that this prosperous state of things, brought on rather suddenly,.

continued until an equally sudden reaction set in about two years

later (in 1843) . In our own opinion , this early trade movement

was simply the natural result of the interference caused by the

war of 1841 with the junk trade of the Canton river. The junk

trade having once gravitated towards Hongkong, it took some

time, after the declaration of peace in 1842 , to return to its

original channel. But, certainly, had the free trade policy been

maintained in Hongkong, a large share of the junk trade might

have been retained in the Colony.

With the return of the troops from Chusan, the harbour

of Hongkong began to be crowded again with men- of-war and

troopships, and a Naval Court of Inquiry was he'd in Hongkong,

(April 25, 1841 ) to accertain the causes of the extraordinary

rate of mortality which had decimated the troops stationed at

Chusan in 1840 .

An augury of the rapid progress which the new settlement

of Hongkong was expected to make, was the appearance (May 1 ,

1841 ) of the first Hongkong Government Gazette. In the first

number of this Gazette (printed yet at Macao) Captain Elliot ,

as charged with the Government of Hongkong, notified that ,

pending Her Majesty's further pleasure, he had appointed (April

30 , 1841 ) Captain W. Caine (26th Cameronian Regiment) Chief


Magistrate of the Island of Hongkong to exercise authority, for

the preservation of the peace and the protection of life and

property, over all non-Chinese inhabitants (those of the Army

and Navy excepted) according to the customs and usages of

British police law, and over all Chinese inhabitants according to

the laws, customs and usages of China, as near as may be,

every description of torture excepted . But all cases requiring

punishments exceeding a fine of $100, or imprisonment of over

3 months, or, in case of flogging, more than 100 lashes, or

capital punishment, were to be remitted to the judgment of the

Head of the Government. Captain Caine was at the same time

appointed Superintendent of the Goal, which had been hastily

constructed, but as all minor offences committed by the Chinese

were punished by a free resort to bambooing, the Gaol, small as

it was, was never crowded while this rough and ready system

of adminstering justice by means of the bamboo continued in


The next Gazette (May 15 , 1841 ) published the first Census

of Hongkong. By some clerical blunder, however, the hamlet

of Stanley, which never counted more than a few hundred

inbabitants, was put down as having 2,000 Chinese inhabitants ,

and accordingly received the false description of the capital (of

Hongkong) , a large town.' It never was anything of the sort.

Correcting this first Census table accordingly, we find that there

were in Hongkong, in May 1841 , altogether 5,650 Chinese

residents, viz. 2,550 villagers and fishermen, scattered over 20

hamlets among which Shaukiwan and Wongnaichung take a

prominent place, 800 Chinese in the Bazaar, 2,000 Chinese living

in boats on the harbour, and 300 labourers from Kowloon. The

Census also states that at that time the population of Tsimshatsui

(not included in the Census) amounted to 800 Chinese.

One of the most important measures of Captain Elliot's

regime was the declaration of the freedom of the port which

constituted in fact the most powerful incentive to bring trade

to Hongkong. By a proclamation issued at Macao (June 7 ,

1841) , Captain Elliot informed the merchants and traders at


Canton and in all parts of the Empire, that they and their ships

have free permission to resort to and trade at the port of

Hongkong where they will receive full protection from the High

Officers of the British nation and that, Hongkong being on the

shores of the Chinese Empire, neither will there be any charges

on imports and exports payable to the British Government.'

By these words Captain Elliot appears to assign , as a raison

d'être of the port of Hongkong, the topographical fact that

Hongkong is situated within the waters of China. It is just

possible, though we have no further grounds for the inference,

that Elliot may have cherished the notion that the Chinese

Government were justified in levying, outside the limits of

Hongkong, in Chinese waters, duties on all goods entering or

leaving the harbour of Hongkong. If so, he virtually treated

Hongkong as an open port of China, whilst admitting the

Island to be Her Majesty's Possession . Sir Henry Pottinger

subsequently rectified this assumption by a clear distinction

of the British Possession of Hongkong from the five ports of

China, opened by the Nanking Treaty.

That Elliot now had reason to believe that a permanent

settlement on Hongkong Island would eventually receive the

formal sanction of the Home Government, appears from the fact

that he now advertized (June 7, 1841 ) a sale, by public auction,

of the annual quit-rent of 100 lots of land, having water

frontage, on Saturday the 12th instant, as also of 100 town or

suburburban lots.' As many merchants had purchased land

from natives, Captain Elliot notified them at the same time that

arrangements with natives for the cession of land were to be

made only through an officer deputed by the Government and

that all native occupiers of land would be constrained to establish

their rights. It was originally intended to dispose by this first

land sale of a sufficiently large number of lots, situated both

North and South of the present Queen's Road, which had been

already roughly staked out by this time. But it was found

impossible to survey and stake out, in time for the sale (though

postponed from 8th to 14th June) , more than 40 lots, all situated


along the shore, North of Queen's Road, and having each a sea

frontage of 100 feet. Six of these lots were reserved for the

Crown, one remained unsold, but the remaining 33 lots, put up

at an upset price of £ 10 , were sold (June 14, 1841 ) at an average

rate of £71 , prices ranging from £20 to £265 per lot. Those 33

lots amounted in the aggregate to an extent not much exceeding

nine acres. The annual payment bid for them was £ 3,032 .

This amounts to an average of £ 7 88. 6d. per 1,000 square feet,

a price which is equal to a rate of more than £323 per annum

for the acre. The principle of the sale was somewhat undefined ,

but it was understood to be an annual rate of quit rent, if that

tenure should be sanctioned by the Home Government, coupled

with the condition of prepayment of one year's rent, and a deposit

of $500 (which, however, was never claimed by the Government)

as a guarantee that the purchaser would, within six months, spend

at least $ 1,000 on buildings or other improvements of the lot.

There are on record several criticisms of this first land sale.

Sir H. Pottinger stated (March 27 , 1841 ) that the tenure which

Captain Elliot proposed to obtain was wholly unprecedented and

untenable, and later on (November 19, 1844) he added that

Captain Elliot had not been armed with any authority to dispose

of the public lands. Mr. A Matheson (May 4 , 1847 ) gave it

as his opinion that, had a sufficient number of sea frontage lots

been put up for sale, the rate would not have much exceeded the

upset price of £ 10, but that, owing to the number of lots being

quite disproportionate to the number of competitors, a keen

competition drove the price up to £ 100 and upwards, for some

lots, and that the average of this was afterwards (unjustly)

retained by the Government as the standard of value. The

purchasers, somewhat sanguinely but honestly believed themselves

entitled to receive eventually a perpetual lease at the prices at

which they had bought the land, because Captain Elliot wrote

(June 17, 1841 ) to Jardine, Matheson & Co. and to Dent

& Co., declaring his purpose to move Her Majesty's Govern-

ment either to pass the lands in fee simple for one or two

years purchase at the late rates or to charge them in future with


no more than a nominal quit rent, if that tenure continues to

obtain.' When later on (April 10, 1843 ) it was understood that

the Government would only grant leases for 75 years, the

Hongkong merchants had a real grievance which they thenceforth

nursed industriously until they brought it before Parliament in


The purchasers of those lots, who may be considered as the

first British settlers on Hongkong, were the following firms

or individuals, viz.: Jardine, Matheson & Co.; Heerjeebhoy

Rustomjee ; Dent & Co.; Macvicar & Co.; Gemmel & Co .;

John Smith ; D. Rustomjee ; Gribble, Hughes & Co.; Lindsay

& Co.; Hooker and Lane ; Holliday & Co.; F. Leighton & Co.;

Innes, Fletcher & Co.; Jamieson and How ; Fox, Rawson & Co.;

Turner & Co.; Robert Webster ; R. Gully ; Charles Hart ;

Captain Larkins ; P. F. Robertson ; Captain Morgan ; Dirom

& Co.; Pestonjee Cowasjee ; and Framjee Jamsetjee. This sale

was followed by the erection of godowns and houses, and the

building of a seawall, the road alongside of which was thenceforth

(in imitation of Macao parlance) called the Praya . The following

places were the first to be utilized for commercial buildings, and

private residences of merchants, viz .: West Point, the Happy

Valley, Spring Gardens, the neighbourhood of the present Naval

Yard (Canton Bazaar) ; the sites now occupied by Butterfield and

Swire, by the Hongkong Hotel, by the China Mail, by the

Hongkong Dispensary (which can trace back its history to 1841 ) ;

the slope below Wyndham Street ; Pottinger Street, Queen's Road

Central (the Bazaar) ; the site below Gough Street enclosed by

a ring fence (Gibb, Livingston & Co.) ; Jervois Street (where the

first Chinese piece goods trade settled) , ending in the Upper

Bazaar ; the Civil Hospital site ; and Saiyingpun .

Captain Elliot, whose attention and presence was required

by the troubles brewing at Canton, consequent upon the disavowal

of the Chuenpi Treaty. appointed Mr. A. R. Johnston, the

Second Superintendent of Trade, to be Acting Governor of

the Island of Hongkong . Mr. Johnston accordingly assumed

charge of the local Government on behalfof Captain Elliot


(June 22 , 1841 ) , assisted by Mr. J. R. Morrison , the Chinese

Secretary. How little these three men, trained in the East

India Company's service, understood the important bearing

which the maintenance of free trade principles had on the future

welfare of the new Colony, appears from the fact that in one

of his earliest dispatches Mr. Johnston forwarded (June 28,

1841 ) , with Captain Elliot's approval, a recommendation framed

by Mr. Morrison to impose in England a differential duty of a

penny per pound on tea imported from Hongkong. Happily

the sinister suggestion was not listened to. But a mournful

time now set in at Hongkong . With the progress made in

terracing the hill sides, in road making, and excavating sites

for houses, a peculiar malarial fever spread everywhere, thence-

forth known as Hongkong fever. This fever arose wherever

the ground, having been opened up for the first time, was

exposed for some time to the heat of the sun and then to heavy

rains. The troops encamped at West Point, above the present

Fairlea (where the cantonment lines can still be traced) and

below it, suffered most particularly. But the Chinese settlers

at the foot of the same hill in the district called Saiyingpun

(lit. Western English Camp) suffered likewise severely. Deaths

now became frequent occurrences also among the European

community, hospitals had to be hastily constructed , and the

first cemetery (near the present St. Francis' Chapel, above

Queen's Road East ) began to fill. The death , by fever, of the

Senior Naval Officer, Sir H. le Fleming Senhouse (June 13,

1841 ) cast a gloom over the whole community.

Moreover, this outburst of sickness was but the precursor

of a terrific typhoon which soon after swept over the Colony.

During the night from July 21st to 22nd, 1841 , the harbour

and the new settlement on shore presented a weird scene of

heart-rending disasters . The overcrowded and badly built hospi-

tals were all levelled to the ground, mat houses, booths and

shanties were shattered and their fragments whirled through

the air. Almost every bungalow or house on shore was unroofed,

6 foreign ships were totally lost, 4 were driven on shore, 22


were dismasted or otherwise injured, and the loss of life among

the Chinese boat population was very great. The general

impression among foreign residents during that dreadful night

was that thelast days of Hongkong seemed to be approaching.'

Nevertheless, as soon as the typhoon was over, everybody set

to work with unabated energy to repair the damages . The sick

were sent on board improvised floating hospitals, the barracks,

mat houses, bungalows, godowns, booths and huts were speedily

made habitable again. When the typhoon recurved and, during

the night of 25th to 26th, again burst over Hongkong, and

levelled once more to the ground every frail structure, the

residents of Hongkong had learned a valuable lesson : they now

commenced to build a new style of godowns, such as should

stand a typhoon , and houses which combined with spacious

verandahs also strong walls and substantial roofs . There was

little loss of life during the two typhoons among the European

community. The Chinese boat people were the principal sufferers.

Nevertheless His benevolent Majesty, the Emperor of China,

rejoiced when he heard the news. Kikung and Eliang, the

Viceroy and Governor of Canton, sent a hasty memorial to

Peking, stating that at Hongkong innumerable foreign ships had

been dashed to pieces, that innumerable foreign soldiers and

Chinese traitors had been swept into the sea, that all their tents

and matsheds, the new Praya, and so forth, had been utterly

annihilated and that the sea was literally covered with corpses.

On receipt of this news, the Emperor went forthwith in festive

procession to the temple of the dragon god of the seas, and

solemnly returned thanks for the destruction of Hongkong. An

Imperial Edict , published with rejoicing all over the Empire,

also proclaimed the judgment that had fallen on Hongkong,

with the same display of inhumanity, contrary to the leading

principle of Confucian ethics which declares humaneness to be

the essential characteristic of civilized humanity.

This typhoon, by which Captain Elliot and Commodore

Bremer were overtaken on their way (in the cutter Louise)

from Macao to Hongkong, and themselves shipwrecked and


well-nigh captured by the Chinese, was followed a few weeks

later by a conflagration (August 12, 1841 ) which destroyed the

greater part of the Bazaar. The very first period in the history

of Hongkong brought thus to the front the three great enemies

of local prosperity, fever, typhoons and conflagrations . Never-

theless the settlers persevered and the number of inhabitants

steadily continued to increase from month to month . The

provisional Government also continued to perfect its organization .

A Harbour Master and Marine Magistrate was now appointed ,

in the person of Lieutenant W. Pedder, R.N. , with Mr. A. Lena

as Assistant Harbour Master. The hill, on which the Harbour

Master established his quarters, has ever since been known as

Pedder's Hill. The Public Works Department was organized

by the appointment of Mr. J. R. Bird as Clerk of Works .

Finally arrangements were made for the establishment of a Civil

Hospital for foreign seamen. This was done under the influence

of the generous offer of a donation of $ 12,000 by Mr. Herjeebhoy

Rustomjee (June 23 , 1841 ) , and the arrangements were placed

under the direction of a Committee consisting of Messrs.

A. Anderson (Assistant Surgeon to H.M. Superintendents),

James Matheson and J. R. Morrison. Unfortunately, however,

the Committee neglected to secure payment of the donation.

On July 29, 1841 , H.M.S. Phlegeton arrived in Hongkong

with dispatches informing Captain Elliot of the disapproval of

the Chuenpi Treaty by Her Majesty's Government and of the

appointment of Sir H. Pottinger as Plenipotentiary. Captain

Elliot's administration ended on August 10, 1841. A fortnight

later he left Macao, with his family, accompanied by Sir

J. J. Gordon Bremer, en route for Europe (August 24, 1841 ) .

As he embarked on the Atalanta, a Portuguese fort fired a

salute of thirteen guns, but we read of no public address

presented to him, nor of any honours bestowed either by the

Hongkong community or by the Government on the man who

found Hongkong a barren rock and left it a prosperous city.

The new settlers on Hongkong, feeling the grievances they had

in connection with Elliot's attitude towards the opium trade



trade and his dishonoured Treasury bills, and subsequently

learning the disavowal by the Government of his land sales, were

unable at the time to do justice to Elliot's real merits. They

indeed gave to what was once the most romantic glen on the

Island the name Elliot's Vale, ' but in later years, when it was

shorn of much of its beauty, called it ' Glenealy. Early in 1842,

Sir Robert Peel, who soon after appointed Elliot as Consul-

General for Texas (June 1 , 1842 ) , did some tardy justice to

Elliot's memory by stating in the House of Commons, that,

without giving any opinion on the conduct or character of

Captain Elliot, during the occupancy of his difficult and embar-

rassing position at Canton, he nevertheless was disposed, from

his intercourse with him since he returned home, to repose the

highest confidence in his integrity and ability.'



August 10, 1841 , to May 8, 1844.

IR Henry Pottinger arrived (August 10, 1841 ) in Macao

S after what was then called ' an astonishingly short passage

of sixty-seven days, by the overland route. It is stated that

his arrival was warmly hailed by all the British residents. No

wonder, for with his advent as Her Majesty's Sole Plenipotentiary

and Minister Extraordinary to the Court of Peking (charged

also with the duties of the Chief Superintendency of Trade)

doubts, as to the permanency of the British occupation of

Hongkong, began to vanish. Not that he proclaimed the Queen's

approval of the cession of the Island, or that he came to

undertake the Government of the new settlement. But Sir

Henry at once gave to those that met him the impression that

the days of vacillation and yielding to Chinese cunning and

duplicity were over, and that England was going now simply

to state its grievances, formulate its demands and insist upon

immediate redress .

Sir H. Pottinger did not disturb Mr. Johnston in his office.

of Acting Governor, and that meant a good deal . As the latter

had now ceased to be Superintendent of Trade, Sir Henry

appointed him Deputy Superintendent. But what confirmed

the general belief now gaining ground that Hongkong would

never be surrendered by the British Government, was an

announcement which Sir H. Pottinger made in a Notification

issued at Macao (August 12 , 1841 ) stating that ' the arrangements

which had been made by his predecessor (Captain Elliot) ,

connected with the Island of Hongkong, should remain in force

until the pleasure of Her Majesty regarding that Island and those


arrangements should be received .' Mr. Johnston accordingly

continued his duties as Acting Governor, whilst Sir H. Pottinger

went North with the expedition, and occupied towards Sir Henry

the same position which he had previously held in relation to

Captain Elliot . In fact, Mr. Johnston acted on behalf ' of

Sir H. Pottinger as Governor of the Island until Sir Henry

himself assumed the Government of the Colony.

About noon on August 21 , 1841 , Sir H. Pottinger arrived in

Hongkong by the steam-frigate Queen. He landed immediately,

visited all the departmental offices, inspected the public works

and expressed himself much pleased with the appearance and

evident progress of the new Colony. In consequence of dispatches

which arrived just then, he directed Mr. Johnston to discontinue

all further grants or sales of land, but allowed Captain Elliot's

arrangements to remain as he found them. He gave orders for

the expedition to start for the North at once, leaving behind

seven war-vessels, with the steamer Hooghly under the command

of Captain J. Nias, C.B. , to guard the harbour and mouth of the

Canton River, whilst Major-General Burrell, with a garrison

consisting of a wing of the 49th Regiment, the 37th Madras

Native Infantry and the Bengal Volunteers, was to see to the

defence of the Colony. Literally overwhelmed and oppressed

with the variety of affairs that demanded instant attention, Sir

H. Pottinger returned in the evening on board the Queen, paid

another hurried visit to some of the Government offices next

morning and then started (August 22 , 1841 ) to overtake the

expedition, having spent in the Colony barely twenty-four hours.

The work of organizing the administrative machinery of the

Government now continued unchecked . A Colonial Surgeon's

Department, under Mr. H. Holgate, was established (August,

1841 ) but subsequently disallowed . A Notary Public and Coroner

was appointed (September, 1841 ) in the person of Mr. S. Fearon,

who acted also as Interpreter and Clerk of Court. Captain

G. F. Mylius took charge of the Land Office (September, 1841 ),

with the able assistance of Lieutenant Sargent who acted as land

surveyor and made the first map of building lots. A small


granite Gaol building, on the site now occupied by Victoria

Gaol, was completed, and the erection of a Court House near

the site of the present Masonic Hall was commenced (October,

1841 ) . At the same time Colonel Burrell constructed a fort on

Kellett Island for the protection of the eastern section of the

harbour, destroyed two masonry forts erected by the Chinese at

Tsimshatsui in 1839, and constructed in their place two batteries

for heavy pieces in the same locality. On the arrival of the

French Frigate Erigone (December 8 , 1841 ) , which brought

Colonel de Jancigny on a commercial mission to China, the port

was for the first time saluted . The American men-of-war delayed

this courtesy for several years longer.

The progress of Hongkong was furthered by disturbances

which occurred at Canton (December 14, 1841 ) , causing a number

of European merchants to remove their offices from Canton to

Hongkong, and by the blockade of the Canton River by Captain

Nias' Squadron ( December 1 , 1841 ) which caused numbers of salt

junks to resort to Hongkong and to make the Colony, for some

time after, the centre of a considerable trade in salt. On his

return from the North (February 1 , 1842 ) , Sir H. Pottinger at

once countermanded this blockade and ordered restoration to be

made to the Chinese whose junks and cargoes had been sold by

auction. He also discovered to his great annoyance, that the

Acting Governor, Mr. A. R. Johnston , under a misconception of

the hurried instructions given to him on August 22, 1842 , had

framed rules for fresh grants of Crown -land and had allowed

additional lands to be assigned to applicants. Sir H. Pottinger,

therefore, now renewed his prohibition against granting land to

general applicants. Nevertheless, he did make some grants

to persons chiefly in the employ of the Government and also to

some of the charitable institutions such as the Morrison

Education Society, the Medical Missionary Society (Dr. Hobson),

the future St. Paul's College, and the Roman Catholic Church.

Without reference to Elliot's former declarations of the

freedom of the port, Sir H. Pottinger issued (February 6 , 1842 )

a proclamation notifying that, pending the receipt of the Queen's


gracious and royal pleasure, the harbour of Hongkong ( like that of

Chusan) should be considered a free port and that no manner

of customs, port duties or any other charges, should be levied

on any ships or vessels of whatever nation or on their cargoes.

He then proceeded ( February 15 , 1842 ) to Macao and removed

the whole establishment of the Superintendency of Trade from

thence to Hongkong (February 27 , 1842 ) . The staff of this

Department (under Mr. A. R. Johnston, as Deputy Superin-

tendent) , consisted of E. Elmslie (Secretary and Treasurer) ,

J. R. Morrison (Chinese Secretary and Interpreter) , L. d'Almada

e Castro, A. W. Elmslic , and J. M. d'Almada e Castro (Clerks),

Rev. Ch. Gützlaff and R. Thom (Joint Interpreters), J. B.

Rodriguez, W. H. Medhurst, and Kazigachi Kiukitchi (Clerks) .

These two measures of Sir Henry, the removal of the Superin-

tendency to Hongkong, and the encouragement he held out, by

the confirmation of the freedom of the port, to Chinese and

foreign vessels to resort to Hongkong, were generally viewed, in

combination with the purchase of the Commissariat Buildings,

and the large sums now spent in the erection of barracks,

hospitals, naval and victualling stores, as an indirect intimation.

that the settlement on Hongkong would sooner or later receive

official recognition as a British Colony. Even the news of the

debate which took place in the House of Commons on the subject

(March 15 , 1842), unsatisfactory as it was, did not shake the

faith now generally placed in the future of Hongkong . For the

words of Sir Robert Peel (who had meanwhile stepped into the

place of Lord Palmerston) that, really, during the progress of

hostilities in China, he must decline to commit the Government

by answering the question as to what were the intentions of

the Government regarding the Island of Hongkong,' were read

by the residents in the light of the above measures of Sir

H. Pottinger.

Ever since this belief in the permanency of the British

occupation of Hongkong gained ground, some of the leading

British merchants, instead of merely opening branch offices at

Hongkong, began to break up their establishments at Macao


and Canton and to remove their offices to the new settlement .

Contrary to the views of a minority which stubbornly preferred

Canton, they expected that Chinese trade would speedily gravitate

towards Hongkong, if but the freedom of the port were strictly

and vigorously maintained by the Government. Indeed, the

experience of the Colony's first eighteen months fully bore out

the soundness of their views. As soon as the rumour of the

expected permanency of the new settlement began to spread

abroad, there set in a rapid and steady influx of Chinese traders

as well as artizans and labourers flocking together in Hongkong

from all the neighbouring districts, and business was flourishing .

In October 1841 , the total population of Hongkong, including

both the troops and residents of all nationalities, was estimated to

amount to 15,000 people, three times the amount at which the

population stood six months previous. With the advent of the

cool season (October, 1841 ) sickness was noticed to decline all

of a sudden and the spirits of the community were considerably

cheered by the appearance, on the new Queen's Road, of the

first carriage and pair imported from Manila, as a sign of the

coming comforts of civilization .

A fresh indication of the intentions of the Government

to retain permanent possession of Hongkong, was given by a

Notification of Sir H. Pottinger, which appeared in the first

locally printed newspaper, the Friend of China and Hongkong

Gazette, issued on March 24, 1842, under the editorship of

the Rev. J. L. Schuck and Mr. James White (subsequently

M.P. for Brighton ) . In this Notification ( dated Hongkong

Government House, March 22, 1842) Sir H. Pottinger announced

his intention of appointing a Land Committee to investigate

claims, to mark off boundaries, to fix the direction and breadth

of the road, now for the first time called ' Queen's Road , ' and

other public roads, to order the removal of encroachments,

and to assign new locations for dwellings of Europeans and

Chinese. At the same time, Sir H. Pottinger expressly notified

that no purchases or renting of ground from the natives,

formerly or now in possession, would be recognized or confirmed,


unless the previous sanction of the constituted Authorities should

have been obtained , it being the basis of the footing on which

the Island of Hongkong has been taken possession of and is

to be held pending the Queen's royal and gracious commands,

that the proprietary of the soil is vested in and appertains

solely to the Crown.' The same principle was also applied to

reclamations of foreshore. But the fact that Sir H. Pottinger

referred in a public document to an officially recognized and

defined footing on which the Island had been taken possession

of, convinced everybody now that the formal recognition of

Hongkong as a British Colony had already been decided upon

and was only delayed pending diplomatic and war-like dealings

with the Peking Government .

The promised Land Committee, consisting of Major Mal-

colm , Captain Meik, Lieutenant Sargent, Surgeon W. Woosnam,

and Captain J. Pascoe, was appointed (March 29 , 1842 ) and

instructed to recommend the amount of remuneration to be

given to native Chinese, for ground which was in their possession

previous to the British occupation of the Island and which

had been appropriated, to select spots for public landing places,

to define the limits of cantonments, to fix the extent of the

ground to be reserved for H.M. Naval Yard and for private

commercial ventures in the shape of patent slips, and finally

to recommend a watering place with a good running stream of

water to be reserved for the shipping. The points previously

mentioned and not now included in the instructions of the

Committee were no doubt left to the discretion of the Land

Officer, Captain Mylius, who had been provided with a new

Assistant, Mr. E. G. Reynolds. The separation of the Land

Office from the Public Works Department was, however, soon

after disapproved (May 17 , 1842 ) by the Home Government.

Another important problem which Sir H. Pottinger now

took in hand was the regulation of the currency of the settle-

ment. For this purpose he took the dollar for a standard and

fixed the rate at which Indian coins and Chinese copper cash

were to be accepted as legal tender. A proclamation (March


29, 1842 ) stated , that two and a quarter Company's rupees

should be equal to one dollar ; one rupee and two annas (or

half a quarter) equal to half a dollar ; half a rupee and two annas

equal to a quarter dollar ; 1,200 cash equal to one dollar ; 600

cash equal to half a dollar ; 300 cash equal to a quarter dollar ;

533 cash equal to a rupee ; 266 cash equal to a half a rupee ;

and 133 cash equal to a quarter of a rupee. Subsequently

(April 27 , 1842 ) Sir H. Pottinger issued, at the suggestion

of the leading English firms, a further proclamation declaring

Mexican or other Republican dollars to be the standard in all

matters of trade unless otherwise particularly specified ..

Sir H. Pottinger organized also a Post Office (under

Mr. Fitz Gibbon, succeeded by Mr. Mullaly and R. Edwards) ,

which was to receive and deliver, free of any charge, letters

or parcels. This office was located on the hill just above the

present Cathedral, and the communication between the office and

the ships was under the charge of the Harbour Master. The

erection of substantial barracks on Cantonment Hill (S. of present

Wellington Barracks) and at Stanley and Aberdeen , was also

taken in hand and pushed on vigorously.

All these measures of Sir H. Pottinger contradicted the

rumour which was persistently going about that the cession of

Hongkong was not officially recognized and that the Government

was prepared to relinquish Hongkong in case the Chinese

Government should, in the coming negotiations, raise any serious

objection on that score, and to be satisfied in that case with the

opening of some treaty ports. That the Home Government had

at this time, in order not to prejudice the pending negotiations

with the Chinese Government, left the question of the permanency

of the new Colony in abeyance, is evident from the fact that

in June, 1842 , just before leaving Hongkong to rejoin the

expedition, Sir H. Pottinger received a dispatch from the Earl

of Aberdeen directing that this Island should be considered

a mere military position and that all buildings & c. , not required

in that light, should be discontinued .' Sir H. Pottinger, however,

knew perfectly well that the necessities of British trade would


be sure to bring sooner or later a ratification of the cession of

Hongkong, regarding which he stated in a dispatch to Lord

Stanley (July 17, 1843) that he had always been of opinion

that the sole or at least chief object of it was to secure an

emporium of trade. The fact that Sir H. Pottinger's measures

all rested on the assumption that the occupation of Hongkong

would never be annulled, gave a fresh impetus to the growth of

the settlement. In March, 1842 , the population , then estimated

at over 15,000 people, was stated to include 12,361 Chinese,

mostly labourers and artizans, attracted to Hongkong by the high

wages obtainable here, and numbers of large buildings were

reported to be in course of erection . The Central Market, then

South of Queen's Road, opposite its present site, was formally

opened (June 10, 1842 ) and farmed out to a Chinaman (Afoon ) ;

all the roads were improved and extended , a good road, in the

direction of Stanley, completed as far as Taitamtuk (June, 1842 ) ,

and a picnic house built at Little Hongkong by Mr. Johnston ,

Major Caine and a number of other private subscribers .

Apart from all these signs of material progress, there are

also evidences of the higher interests of religion and education

receiving now recognition and attention in Hongkong. The

building of a Roman Catholic church was commenced , in June

1842, on a site in Wellington Street granted by Government .

A Baptist chapel was opened in Queen's Road (July 7 , 1842 )

by the Rev. J. L. Schuck, by subscriptions obtained from the

foreign residents and visitors. The Morrison Education Society

of Canton and Macao, which for years past had supported various

Mission Schools in the Straits and in China by money grants

and (in 1841 ) started at Macao a training school (under Mr. and

Mrs. Brown) , now arranged to remove its establishment to

Hongkong and commenced (October, 1842 ) building a large

house on Morrison Hill on a site granted by Sir H. Pottinger

(February 22 , 1842 ) , who became the patron of the institution

(April 5, 1842 ). In antumn 1842 , a Naval Chaplain, Mr. Phelps

and Mr. A. R. Johnston started a subscription by means of which

a room was erected on the site of the present Parade ground


for occasional services in connection with the Church of England

or any other Protestant denomination .

When the news of the conclusion of the Nanking Treaty

and the consequent confirmation of the cession of Hongkong

reached the settlers (September 9 , 1842 ) , no particular rejoicing

took place, for the recognition of the cession had all along been

to the local community a mere question of time or of official

etiquette. The merchants were yet unaware of the serious crisis

now at hand for the commerce of the Colony in consequence of

the cessation of the war and the opening of five Chinese ports.

On the contrary, the expectation appears to have been entertained

that these measures would forthwith enhance the prospects of the

Colony. We are nearly bewildered, ' apostrophized the Editor of

the Friend of China (September 22 , 1842 ) , at the magnificence

of the prosperous career which seems now before us. Our Island

will be the single British possession in China. What more in

praise of its prospects can we say than this ? Already we hear

of teeming projects fraught with good for our Island.' The

conclusion of the war and the departure of the fleet and troops,

which considerably desolated the harbour, affected for the present

the social life of the community far more than its commerce,

which continued in its old grooves yet for a little while longer.

With the return to Europe of the expeditionary forces, which left

behind (December 24, 1842 ) only 700 men as a garrison, the

settlement now entered at last upon its normal condition of a

purely commercial community.

Consequent upon the conclusion of the Treaty of Nanking,

the British Government took immediate steps for the formal

organisation of a distinctly Colonial Government at Hongkong,

by transferring the management of local affairs from the Foreign

Office to the Colonial Office. The Superintendency of Trade

and the direction of the new Consular Service in China, subject

to the Foreign Office, were, however, for the present combined

with the office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the

Colony. On this basis an Order in Council was issued (January

4, 1843) establishing in Hongkong the Court of Justice, with


Criminal and Admiralty Jurisdiction, which nominally had

existed, since the time of Lord Napier, in Chinese waters, under

an Order of the Privy Council of December 9 , 1833. This Court

was now endowed with jurisdiction over British subjects residing

within the Colony or on the mainland of China or on the high

seas within 100 miles of the coast thereof. Three months later

(April 5 , 1843 ) , the Privy Council issued Letters Patent, under

the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, erecting the settlement

on the Island of Hongkong into a Crown Colony by Charter,

and on the same day a Royal Warrant was issued, under the

Queen's Signet and Sign Manual, appointing the Chief Superin-

tendent of Trade, Sir Henry Pottinger, Baronet, K.C.B., as

Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Hongkong

and its Dependencies, to enact laws and to govern the Colony

with or without the assistance of a Council. A grand ceremony

was performed at Government House on May 20, 1843 , when

Sir William Parker, by order of the Queen, invested Sir

H. Pottinger with the insignia of a Knight Commander of

the Order of the Bath . When the ratifications of the Nanking

Treaty were exchanged (June 26, 1843 ) between Sir H. Pottinger

and the Chinese Commissioners who had come to Hongkong for

the purpose, the Charter of Hongkong and the Royal Warrant

were read out at Government House before a large assembly

of residents, and subsequently published (June 29 , 1843 ) by

proclamation in the Gazette. The same proclamation fixed the


name of Her Majesty's new possession as the Colony of

Hongkong,' (not Hong Kong, as previously used) , and the name

of the city as Victoria.' The Governor, having previously

(June 17, 1843) sworn in Mr. Johnston ( Deputy Superin-

tendent of Trade ) , Major Caine ( Chief Magistrate ) and

Mr. C. B. Hillier (Assistant Magistrate) , as the first Justices

of the Peace, now appointed 43 more persons, among whom

there where 15 officials, as additional Justices of the Peace. As

these unofficial Justices represent the leading merchants of

this earliest period of the Colony, we append their names.

They were, A. Jardine, A. Matheson, W. Morgan , W. Stewart,


G. Braine, J. Dent, F. C. Drummond, D. L. Burn, W. Le

Geyt, P. Dudgeon, T. W. L. Mackean, H. Dundas , C. Kerr,

J. F. Edger, A. Fletcher, J. A. Gibb, W. P. Livingston,

W. Gray, H. R. Parker, J. Holliday, J. Wise, J. A. Mercer,

P. Stewart, J. White, A. Wilkinson and J. M. Smith. The

office of Deputy Superintendent of Trade having been abolished,

Mr. Johnston was now appointed Assistant and Registrar to the

Superintendent of Trade, with about the same staff as before.

The Colonial Government was now organized as follows :-Sir

H. Pottinger (Governor), Captain G. T. Brooke (Military

Secretary and A.D.C. ) , Captain T. Ormsby ( Extra A.D.C.),

Major-General G. C. D'Aguilar ( Lieutenant Governor), Lieuten-

ant-Colonel G. A. Malcolm (Colonial Secretary) , R. Woosnam

(Deputy Colonial Secretary) , Ch. E. Stewart (Treasurer and

Financial Secretary) , J. R. Morrison (Chinese Secretary and

Interpreter, afterwards succeeded by Rev. Ch . Gützlaff) , Rev.

V. Stanton (Colonial Chaplain) , R. Burgass (Legal Adviser),

A. Anderson (Colonial Surgeon) , L. d'Almada e Castro (Chief

Clerk) , D. Stephen (Book-keeper), Major W. Caine (Chief

Magistrate) , Ch. B. Hillier ( Assistant Magistrate ) , D. R.

Caldwell (Interpreter) , Lieutenant W. Pedder (Harbour Master) ,

A. Lena (Assistant Harbour Master ) , A. T. Gordon ( Land

Officer and Civil Engineer), Ch . St. George Cleverly (Assistant

Surveyor) , W. Tarrant ( Assistant to Land Officer), M. Bruce

( Inspector of Buildings) , and F. Spring (Postmaster) . An

Executive Council was formed, consisting of the Hon. A. R.

Johnston and the Hon. W. Caine, and a Legislative Council,

from which for the present unofficial members were shut out ,

was constituted. It consisted of the Hon . A. R. Johnston , the

Hon . J. R. Morrison (who died soon after, greatly lamented),

and the Hon . W. Caine, with R. Burgass (the Governor's

legal adviser) as Clerk of Council. A public seal was supplied

to the Colony from England (September 5, 1843 ) and Her

Majesty's approval was obtained (December 6, 1843) for the

above-mentioned appropriation of the name Victoria for the

rising city of Hongkong.


During the year 1843, the religious and missionary agencies

in the Colony bestirred themselves considerably in the general

interest. Funds had been raised in 1842 for the erection of a

Colonial Church, at first intended to be a sort of Union Church

for both Churchmen and Nonconformists. A Colonial Chaplain

having been appointed in England at the request of the local

Government, which disapproved the proposed union, services

were conducted (since June, 1843 ) by Naval Chaplains in a


temporary structure now called the Matshed Church,' and a

building (the present St. John's Cathedral) was ordered to be

commenced at Government expense and meanwhile dedicated

to St. John (October 17 , 1843) , though building operations were

delayed for several years as the Home Government postponed

its sanction. It was , however, locally decided that the Colonial

Chaplain should have sole charge of the Church . The Chaplain,

Rev. V. J. Stanton, preached his first sermon in the Colonial

Matshed Church on December 24th, 1843. The R. C. Prefect

Apostolic, Fra Antonio Feliciani, consecrated the building

erected by him at the corner of Wellington and Pottinger Streets

as the R. C. Church of the Conception, on June 18th , 1843, when

a Seminary for native clergy was opened in connection with it .

The Mohammedans built (in 1843) a Mosque on the hill thence-

forth called Mosque Gardens (Moloshan) . The Chinese, who

had already four temples from 75 to 100 years old, viz . one at

Aplichow (dating from 1770 A.D. ) , one at Stanley, one in Spring

Gardens (Taiwongkung) , and one at Tunglowan (Causeway Bay),

commenced building their City Temple (Sheng-wong-miu) on

the site of the present Queen's College. The American Baptist

Mission, under Dr. Deane and Dr. Ball, started in 1843 a Chinese

(Tiechiu) Church in the Upper Bazaar (Sheungwan Market) . In

addition to the establishment of the Morrison Education Society's

School on Morrison Hill (opened November 1 , 1843 ) , Dr. Legge

of the London Missionary Society transferred to Hongkong the

Society's Malacca College, opening (November, 1843 ) a Pre-

paratory School and a Seminary for the training of Chinese

ministers, which was (in autumn 1844 ) located on the London


Mission premises in Aberdeen and Staunton Streets as the Anglo-

Chinese College (Ying-wa Shü-ün ) . The Colonial Chaplain,

Rev. V. J. Stanton, immediately on his arrival (December 22,

1843) , made preparations for the opening of a Training School

for native ministers in connection with the Church of England,

on a site previously granted for the purpose by the Government

(May 26, 1843 ) , under the name of St. Paul's College. In

autumn 1843, the Protestant Missionaries of Hongkong (Legge,

Medhurst , Milne, Bridgman and J. Stronach) commenced the

work which eventually resulted in a new Chinese translation of

the Bible, known as the Delegates Version, the best in style and

diction (though not in literal accuracy) that has ever been

produced to the present day.

Several Hospitals also were established during this year.

The Medical Missionary Society of Canton and Macao (originally

established in 1838 through the efforts of Dr. Peter Parker,

and largely aided by the London Missionary Society ) opened

a Hospital (June 1 , 1843) , under Dr. Hobson of the London

Mission, on the hill now occupied by the Naval Hospital (above

Wantsai) . The Seamen's Hospital (on the site of the present

Civil Hospital) , started (as above-mentioned ) at the instigation

of a promise of a donation by Mr. J. Rustomjee (which was never

paid), was built by means of a public subscription of $6,000

and with additional funds generously advanced by Jardine,

Matheson & Co., and opened by the Committee, in August, 1843

(with 50 beds) , under the charge of Dr. Peter Young (of the


Hongkong Dispensary, then located in the Bird Cage, ' South

of its present location) , who gave his services gratuitously .

These Hospitals, together with the Naval and Military

Hospitals (on the site of the present Barracks near Hawan) were

soon overcrowded with patients. For in summer 1843 occurred

an extraordinary outbreak of Hongkong fever which, during

the six months from May to October, carried off by death 24

per cent. of the troops, and 10 per cent. of the European

civilians. It was noticed that this virulent fever ravaged chiefly

the extreme eastern and western ends of the settlement, whilst


the central parts of the city and especially the Gaol escaped

almost untouched. At Westpoint Barracks (above Pokfulam

Road), where the Indian troops had lost nearly half their number

in 1842, sickness was so universal in 1843, that the European

troops stationed there were hastily removed (July 20, 1843 ) on

board ships in the harbour. In the year 1843, the total strength

of the European and native troops was only 1,526 , but, as 7,893

cases were treated in the hospitals during the same year, it

appears that on an average each man passed through hospital

more than five times during that dreadful year. The deaths

among the troops on the Island amounted to 440, out of 1,526

men, or 1 in 3 , the cause of death being fever in 155 cases,

dysentery in 137 cases, diarrhoea in 80 cases. The number

of men invalided or unfit for duty was such that frequently

no more than one half of the men of a company were able

to attend parade and sometimes there were hardly five or six men,

out of 100, fit for duty. The sanitation question was now

at last taken up by the Government, and a Committee of Public

Health and Cleanliness was appointed (August 16, 1843 ) with

authority to enforce rigid sanitary rules among all classes of

residents, but no effective measures were undertaken . Those

rules were subsequently formulated by Ordinance No. 5 of March

20, 1844 .

The land policy of the Government caused considerable

dissatisfaction among the merchants. There was no objection

on the part of the mercantile community to a revenue being

derived from land ; on the contrary they were of opinion that,

Hongkong being guaranteed to be a free port, long leases and

annual rents should be the sole source of revenue, to the exclusion

of all other forms of taxation, such as duties on goods sold by

auction, auctioneers ' licence fees, registration fees, market farms,

etc. Mr. A. Matheson expressed the unanimous views of

Hongkong merchants when he stated that it was a most

unadvisable course for the Government to attempt raising any

other revenue than the land rents, at any rate until the Colony

should have advanced considerably in wealth and population.


But the great grievance of the merchants was that the conditions

of Captain Elliot's sales of land had not been fulfilled by the

Government, and that merchants who, trusting in the good faith

of the Government, had bought land and expended large sums

on buildings in the expectation to have a permanent property

at an annual quit rent, did not get the land granted to them

in perpetuity but were peremptorily called upon to take leases of

75 years only or to surrender their land . There were minor

complaints, that some of the sales of January, 1844, were

fictitious, that there was a great deal of deception practised in

the purchase of land in 1843 and 1844 by parties who bought

land without really intending to hold it, aud that such practices.

had been encouraged by negligence on the part of the Government

in enforcing the conditions of sale and in collecting the land

rents. The Colonial Treasurer ( R. M. Martin ) corroborated some

of these statements by the allegation he made that, out of the

whole amount of land-sales from June 1841 to June 1844 ,

amounting to £ 3,224 per annum, only £ 641 had actually been

paid. Land jobbing, in fact, was at that early time already

one of the great evils of Hongkong . But it was not confined

to merchants only, for the same Colonial Treasurer alleged that,

with the exception of the Attorney General ( P. J. Stirling) and

himself, almost every individual connected with the Government

was identified with the purchase and sale of building land in

the Colony. In fact it is evident that the land sales of 1843

and 1844 gave rise to the first local outburst of the gambling


mania . Men of straw,' said Mr. A. Matheson, ‘ gambled in

land and raised the price of it upon those people who were

bona fide purchasers .'

Proceeding on the legally correct but historically false and

unjust assumption that the lawful land tenure of Hongkong

dated from the exchange of treaty ratifications , the Secretary

of State had laid down the following principles as a basis for

the future land policy of the Government, ( 1 ) that the Governor

should abstain fron alienating any land for any time greater

than might be necessary to induce tenants to erect substantial



buildings, ( 2 ) that no grants or sales of land that had taken

place previous to the exchange of the Treaty ratifications should

be deemed valid, ( 3 ) that all equitable claims and titles of

land-holders should be inquired into with a view to confirmation,

(4 ) that the payment of rents should commence from the day

when the Treaty ratifications were exchanged , and (5 ) that

henceforth no lan should be sold except by public auction, at

a reserved minimum price, equal to the value of the annual

rent. On this basis, the Governor appointed (August 21 , 1843 )

a Committee, consisting of A. T. Gordon, Land Officer and

Colonial Engineer ( Head of the new Public Works Department),

Captain de Havilland ( Assistant Surveyor), Ch . E. Hewart

(Financial Secretary) , assisted by R. Burgass (Legal Adviser) .

The instructions of this Committee were, ( 1 ) to inquire into the

equitable claims and titles of all holders of land, ( 2 ) to define

the classes to which particular lots should henceforth belong,

(3 ) to fix their annual rent, and (4) to arrange for the sale

of further lots. The Committee accordingly inquired into and

settled all claims on land previously sold, and granted leases of

75 years in all cases of proved ownership . It was on the basis

of the above-mentioned principles, that the land-sale of January

22, 1844, was held, when about 25 acres of land, divided into

101 lots, each about 105 feet square, were sold for £ 2,562 annual

rental, prices ranging from £ 11 to £ 88 annual rental, at an

average rate of £ 20 per lot or £ 100 per acre. The solution of

the land question was pushed a step further by the establish-

ment of a Registry Office ( Ordinance No. 3 of 1844 ) , which

provided ready means for tracing all titles to landed property.

It was laid down by law that thenceforth all deeds, wills,

conveyances and nortgages relating to land, should be registered

within a certain time after execution . But what kept discontent

rankling in the minds of many was the fact that the Crown had

refused and in spite of all remonstrances persisted in refusing

to confirm, as a matter of right, Captain Elliot's land sales,

disavowing in fact any grants of land made prior to the signing

of the Treaty, and prohibiting the granting of perpetuities.


The newly-established Legislative Council commenced its

sittings on January 11 , 1844, and displayed an extraordinary

amount of energy. Within four months the Council compiled,

considered and passed twelve Colonial and five Consular Or-

dinances, that is to say about one Ordinance each week. The

Council began its labours by grappling, boldly rather than wisely,

with one of the congenital diseases of the Chinese social organism ,

which has survived to the present day, viz . Chinese bond-

servitude, a contractual relationship which, from a moral point

of view, is indeed but a form of slavery but which differs widely

from that kind of slavery to which the Acts of Parliament had

reference. Ordinance No. 1 of 1844, intended to define and

promulgate the law relating to slavery in Hongkong, was

promptly launched by the Council ( February 28, 1844) , but

wisely disallowed by the Secretary of State on the ground that

the English laws as to slavery extend by their own proper force

and authority to Hongkong and require no further definition or

promulgation. Among six other Ordinances passed on the same

busy day (February 28, 1844) , there was one (No. 2 of 1844)

intended to regulate the printing of books and papers and the

keeping of printing presses, which the community considered

needless and premature but which remained on the statute book

until 1886. Another (No. 3 of 1844) , organising the Land

Registry, above mentioned, also became law. A third (No. 4 of

1844) , intended to obviate an evil which, to the present day,

troubles the Colony in connection with the practice of shipmasters

to leave behind destitute seamen (locally called beachcombers) ,

was unfortunately disallowed . Another batch of five Ordinances

was passed on March 20 , 1844. One of them (No. 5 of 1844)

dealt with the preservation of order and cleanliness and was

subsequently repealed by No. 14 of 1845. Another (No. 6 of

1844) provided that, pending the arrival of Chief Justice

Hulme, all civil suits should be settled by arbitration . Another

Ordinance (No. 7 of 1844) limited legal interest to 12 per cent.,

whilst again another prohibited the unlicensed distillation of

spirits (No. 8 of 1844) . Three more Ordinances were passed on


April 19 and two on May 1 , 1844, dealing with the illegitimate

trade with ports North of 32° N. L. ( No. 9 of April 10, 1844) ,

with the regulation of summary proceedings before Justices of

the Peace (No. 10 of April 10, 1844 ) , with the licensing of public

houses and the retail of spirits (No. 11 of May 1 , 1844) and with

the establishment and regulation of a Police Force (No. 12 of

May 1 , 1844) .

Unfortunately, however, the zeal of the Government in

organizing the various departments of the Civil Service , in push-

ing on the erection of costly public buildings, and in legislating

for a Colony which was yet in its swaddling clothes, appeared now

to the colonists to outrun, not only the actual growth of the

community, but even its prospective future for years to come.

There were indeed twelve large English firms established in

Hongkong, representing numerous constituencies in the United

Kingdom. There were further half a dozen Indian firms,

chiefly Parsees, but ever since the Treaty of Nanking and the

introduction of steam navigation, the share of the Parsees in

the China trade had commenced to dwindle down rapidly,

being gradually pushed out by Jewish firms from Bombay, and

those Parsees who remained preferred to conduct their business

at Canton. There were further some ten or so private English

merchants of smaller means. Then one might point to the many

brick godowns, commercial offices and private residences scattered

along the shore. There were shipwrights ( Kent and Babes ) and

even a patent slip at East Point, where Captain Lamont launched

(February 7, 1843 ) the first Hongkong-built vessel (the Celestial,

80 tons). There were, besides the Friend of China (established

March 17, 1842 ), actually two other newspaper offices, the Eastern

Globe and the Canton Register. The former of these papers

published (January 1 , 1843) a long list of local buildings and a

series of lithographs of public edifices was published in London

about the same time. In spite of this architectural activity.

Sir H. Pottinger reported (January 22, 1844) that the erection

of houses could by no means keep pace with the demand for

them. Even so late as November 19, 1844, Lord Stanley pointed


out that the terms fixed for the disposal of land bad evidently

been no discouragement to building speculations. There were

some large floating warehouses in the harbour, notably the

Hormanjee Bomanjee belonging to Jardine, Matheson & Co. ,

and the John Barry belonging to Dent & Co. Finally, there

was a brisk business done in opium by half a dozen British

firms. Unfortunately, however, as to other business, there was

since the commencement of 1844 next to none in Hongkong,

although the Chinese population continued to increase and

reached, in April 1844, a total of 19,000 Chinese, including now

even a sprinkling of some 1,000 women and children. The

cessation of the war, the opening of the port of Shanghai

(November 17 , 1843 ) and of four other Chinese ports, coupled

with the gradual increase of steamers in place of sailing vessels,

had disorganized the old lines of business both on the Chinese

and on the foreign side, had scattered and drawn away to those

open ports capital and enterprise at the expense of Hongkong.

In addition to these causes detrimental to Hongkong, the Chinese

Authorities did everything in their power to discourage trade

with Hongkong, whilst the Hongkong Government appeared to

the merchants to work into the hands of the Mandarins. All the

sanguine expectations, entertained since 1841 , that business would

flourish at Hongkong just as it used to flourish at Whampoa,

gradually vanished from month to month ever since the exchange

of the Treaty ratifications. Hongkong now seemed in 1844 to

be at best a second Lintin, the flourishing centre of a limited and

illegal trade in opium, but palpably shunned by the legitimate

Chinese trade. Numbers of Chinese merchants in Canton would

have been willing enough to send down to Hongkong junks

laden with tea, rhubarb, camphor, silk and cassia, and to send

back those junks to Canton freighted with India cotton or yarn

or English piece goods, but the Cantonese Authorities set their

faces against it like a flint. It had been the fond dream of British

merchants that, whilst indeed foreign vessels could only trade

with the five open ports, natives of China would be allowed to

bring goods from any port of China, and convey British goods


from Hongkong, in Chinese junks, to any part of the coast of

China, so that Hongkong would become the centre of a vast junk

trade, and of a coasting trade possessing infinite capabilities of

expansion. We can well imagine what was their disappointment ,

when they learned that the Chinese copy of the Supplementary

Treaty, signed at the Bogue (October 8 , 1843 ) , contained , over

Sir Henry's signature, the following words, not to be found

in the English text : -At ports within the other provinces

and within the four provinces of Canton, Foochow, Kiangsu

and Chehkiang, such as Chapou and the like places, all of

which are not open marts, Chinese merchants shall not be

permitted there arbitrarily to apply for permits to go to and

from Hongkong, and if any persist in doing so, the Coastguard

Officer at Kowloon shall, in concert with the British Officer

(at Hongkong), forthwith make investigation and report to

their superiors.' When Sir H. Pottinger, a few months previous,

announced (July 22, 1843) the successful conclusion of a Sup-

plementary Commercial Treaty, embodying rules and regulations

for the conduct of trade at the open ports and a detailed tariff

of duties, he had unfortunately accompanied the announcement

by some well meant exhortations addressed to British merchants

in general, though intended for a few low class individuals,

implicated in systematic smuggling transactions. These exhorta-

tions, by their vituperative generalities rather than by any

definite insinuations, had given great offence and caused the

beginning of a breach, between Sir Henry and the mercantile

community, which widened as the miscarriage of the Supple-

mentary Treaty concluded at the Bogue became apparent. Sir

Henry made a great secret of some of the provisions contained

in the Supplementary Treaty of October 8 , 1843. It was known

that Article XII contained the startling words, it is to be

hoped that the system of smuggling which has heretofore been

carried on between English and Chinese merchants, in many

cases with the open connivance and collusion of the Chinese

Custom -house Officers, will entirely cease.' But for a long time

it was not known that, on this ground, Articles XIV and XVI


not only confined the Chinese junk trade of the Colony rigidly

to the five Treaty -ports (virtually to Canton alone) , but required

the appointment of a British Officer in Hongkong who was to

report to the Chinese Customs Officers the nature of the

cargo and other particulars of every Chinese vessel resorting to

Hongkong and to condemn and report, as an unauthorized or

smuggling vessel , every junk trading between Hongkong and

any unauthorized port of China. As regards further provisions,

injurious to the interest of the Colony, the Journal des Débats

stated later on (Monday, September 30, 1844 ) what at the

time was the subject of acrimonious discussion in the Colony,

that Sir H. Pottinger, in concluding the Supplementary Treaty ,

had been the victim of unworthy trickery (supercherie) ; that

the Chinese diplomatists, profiting by the ignorance of the

English Plenipotentiary, both of commercial affairs and of the

Chinese language, and by the bitter feeling which existed between

him and the English merchants who would have been able to

advise him, bribed by a sum of money the interpreter who

was employed to replace the late Mr. Morrison ; that thus the

Chinese diplomatists slipped into the Chinese text , unbeknown

to Sir H. Pottinger, alterations and suppressions bearing on all

the provisions made but particularly on the 13th and the 17th

Articles, the immediate effect being that these Articles now

strike with nullity the establishment of Hongkong, exclude

the Colony from any participation by transit or coasting trade

in the commerce of the different nations with the five ports ,

and, in fine, restrain, almost as before the war, the commerce

(of Hongkong) to the port of Canton alone. Some of the

passages of the Chinese text, which were suppressed in the version

submitted to and published by Sir H. Pottinger, were, according

to the Journal des Débats, translated in England by the most

learned professors of the Chinese language as follows. Article

XIII. Every Chinese merchant who shall purchase merchandise

at Hongkong can only ship it in Chinese bottoms provided

with passports delivered at Hongkong. These passports and

these permits will be viséd at every time and on every voyage


by the officers of the Chinese Custom-house in order to avoid

contravention .' Article XVII. Both (vessels from Hongkong

of under 75 or 150 tons) one and the other, shall pay one

mace per ton each time they shall enter port (at Canton). All


that shall exceed 150 tons will be considered as large vessels

coming from abroad and, following the new tariff, shall pay

five mace per ton. As to Foochow, Amoy, Ningpo and Shanghai,

as no coasting vessels enter those ports, it is useless to make

any regulations with regard to them .' These two articles, says

the Journal des Débats, ' coincide and link together with a degree

of art which we could not but admire, if their consequences

were not equally injurious to the coasting trade of all nations.

by excluding them, or nearly so, from the four ports so recently

opened. In point of fact, according to the text of these articles,

it becomes exceedingly ruinous to land at Hongkong merchandise

destined for the Chinese continent....Thanks to the drawing

up of the Supplementary Treaty, freedom of commerce with

the northern ports is become illusory, the privilege nominal.'

With reference, no doubt, to the foregoing statement of

the Journal des Débats, which is, however, supported, as to the

correctness of the translation here given, by statements which

previously appeared in the Chinese Repository ( March 1844) ,

in the Friend of China (April 13 , 1844) and subsequently (July

31 , 1844 ) in the Commercial Guide, Sir Henry, later on

(December 11 , 1844) , made the following remarks at a public

entertainment given in his honour at the Merchant Tailors'

Hall in London. A very erroneous impression went abroad

through, I believe, some papers on the continent, that there

had been some mistake committed in the (Supplementary) Treaty.

That is quite incorrect. It arose from the necessity of my

making public an abstract of the Treaty, while the Chinese

published the whole, and a translation was made with many

important omissions. Having been asked seriously whether

there was any ground for the allegation that mistakes had been

committed, I am happy to say that there was no cause whatever

for alarm.'


In the absence, however, of any positive denial of the

points really complained of, this negative and evasive statement

of Sir H. Pottinger failed to satisfy the mercantile community

of Hongkong. They did not for a moment believe the absurd

allegation that Sir H. Pottinger's interpreter had been bribed,

but they were convinced that, when Sir H. Pottinger signed

the Chinese text of the Supplementary Treaty, he was ignorant

of some of the objectionable provisions it contained , and that

by his known aversion to a literal English version to be submitted

to him for publication, and by his being content (for unexplained

reasons of his own ) with an English abstract, the Chinese

Mandarins were enabled to slip into that version which they

submitted to him for signature, provisions which, while looking

in a free English translation like harmless prolixity of diction,

had the effect of limiting the Hongkong coast trade to dealings

with Canton under arbitrary restrictions (differential duties) and

excluding it (by a flourish of the pen) from the other open ports.

Sir H. Pottinger, it was said, fumed and fretted when he

discovered how he had been duped by Kiying and the other

Commissioners, whom he and all Hongkong had honoured as

exceptionally meek and truthful men. The Cantonese Authorities

had all along put an embargo on all trade with Hongkong, but

now claimed Sir H. Pottinger's express authority for doing so.

At all the Treaty ports the Chinese officials frowned at any

reckless Chinaman who had the hardihood to apply for a permit

to ship goods to Hongkong, telling him that he was a base

traitor to the national cause and ought to be dealt with accord-

ingly. On June 7 , 1841 , Captain Elliot had ' clearly declared

that there will be an immediate embargo upon the port of

Canton and all the large ports of the Empire if there be the

least obstruction to the freedom of Hongkong.' Had Sir H.

Pottinger now carried out this threat, the Chinese would have

yielded at once. But he shrank from a renewal of the war

and from the confession that he had been duped by Kiying as

much as Elliot was duped by Kishen . So he confined himself

to diplomatic remonstrances, a game in which Europeans have


always been worsted by Chinese Machiavellis. Under these

circumstances, not only were Chinese merchants afraid of entering

upon any commercial dealings with British or Chinese firms in

Hongkong, but even among the mass of the Chinese population

of the districts near Hongkong the notion got abroad that

the Hongkong Governors were powerless in the hands of the

Mandarins, and that the Chinese Authorities might punish

artizans and labourers, resorting to Hongkong or settling down

in the new Colony, by subjecting their relatives on the mainland

to extortion and maltreatment. As trade could only be brought

to Hongkong by guaranteeing perfect freedom from custom

and excise exactions and inspiring native and foreign merchants

with confidence in the Colonial Government. Sir Henry's

Supplementary Treaty, by destroying both the freedom of the

port and confidence in the independence of the Hongkong

Government, unwittingly annihilated for the time all chances

of Hongkong becoming the centre of the coasting trade.

Successful as a diplomatist, dictating the terms of peace forced

upon the Chinese at the point of the bayonet, Sir Henry

appeared now to have been an utter failure when he attempted

to negotiate a Commercial Treaty on equal terms with astute

Chinese diplomatists. The principal points for which Sir H.

Pottinger may be blamed consist in his leaving the important

opium question entirely in statu quo ante and in omitting to

secure for Chinese subjects residing in Hongkong freedom to

trade (in Chinese bottoms at least) with the whole of China . It

is said that when this truth at last forced itself upon the recogni-

tion of Her Majesty's Government, the proposal to raise Sir

Henry to the peerage, in reward of the glorious negotiation of

the Nanking Treaty, was dropped in view of this signal failure

of the Supplementary Commercial Treaty.

The Chinese had yet other objections to Hongkong . The

sea all around the Island was infested by pirates whose head-

quarters and stores of supplies were (falsely) believed to be under

the direction of a Chinese resident of Hongkong enjoying official

patronage. Sir H. Pottinger endeavoured (since May, 1843)


to induce the Chinese Authorities to co-operate with him in

putting down piracy in Hongkong and Canton waters , but his

efforts were neutralized by corruption on the Chinese side and

resulted only in further measures militating against the freedom

of the port. For no other reason did the Canton Authorities

condescend to co-operate with Sir Henry in this matter, but

because it enabled them to persuade Sir Henry to place additional

restrictions on Chinese junks visiting Hongkong. Moreover,

as pirates ruled the sea all around Hongkong, so highway

robbers and burglars seemed to have things their own way

all over the Island. Government House even was entered by

burglars (April 26, 1843) , three mercantile houses (Dent's,

Jardine's, Gillespie's) were attacked in one and the same night

(April 28 , 1843 ) , the Morrison Institution was plundered by

robbers who carried off the Chief Superintendent's Great Seal

(May 19 , 1843) , and James White's bungalow was attacked

and held by an armed gang until some sepoys opened fire upon

them (February 23, 1844) . No European ventured abroad

without a revolver, and a loaded pistol was kept at night under

every pillow. The principal merchants kept armed constables

in their employ for the protection of their property , having

no confidence whatever in the Colonial constables . Jardine,

Matheson & Co. kept twelve armed men to protect their premises

at East Point at an expense of £ 60 a month. Every private

house inhabited by Europeans had its watchman going the

round of the premises all night and striking a hollow bamboo

from time to time in proof of his watchfulness . The scum of

the criminal classes of the neighbouring districts looked upon

Hongkong as their Eldorado and upon English law as a mere

farce. Major Caine's floggings seemed to have no terror for

them, and imprisonment in the Gaol, the healthiest locality

of Hongkong, appeared to the half-starved gaol-birds of Canton

a coveted boon. The Government now (May 1 , 1844) made

arrangements, a fortnight before Sir H. Pottinger left Hongkong,

to organize a Police Force, thenceforth known among the Chinese

as ' green coats ' (Lukee), but as the discharged English and


Indian soldiers of whom the corps was made up were helpless,

in their ignorance of the native language, without the assistance

of Chinese constables, and as the latter were of the lowest

order, this establishment of a Colonial police made things rather

worse. An order was also issued (May 10 , 1843) that no boat

on the harbour should leave its moorings after 9 p.m. and

that, on shore, Chinese should carry lanterns after dark and

not stir out of their houses after 10 p.m. Incendiarism ,

robberies, murders, piratical exploits on land and sea were in

no way diminished by the foregoing measures. The nursery

of crime was a heavily armed contraband trade in salt, sulphur

and opium, established and vigorously developed by the lowest

classes of Chinese residents in the Colony, doing as much injury

to the best interests of Hongkong commerce as to the revenues

of the Chinese Government.

No wonder that Hongkong was in bad odour among the

Cantonese officials and people, that Chinese trading junks now

commenced to give the harbour of Hongkong a wide berth and

that the Chinese mercantile community, which had just begun

to develop, disappeared even more rapidly than it had come.

But what a depressing effect all this had on the mercantile

prospects of the Colony may easily be imagined. English

merchants now began to fear that the Colony was an egregious

failure. Chusan was freely spoken of as being after all vastly

preferable to Hongkong on sanitary and commercial grounds.

Among the merchants, regrets were heard on all sides over the

amount of money sunk in investments in land and buildings.

A summary of the complaints which the mercantile commu-

nity gave expression to on sundry occasions, may be of interest .

The allegations made against Sir H. Pottinger at the close of

his administration were as follow : ( 1 ) that, relying upon the

validity of Elliot's and Johnston's land-sales and expecting

perpetuity of tenure, British merchants spent from $25,000 to

$200,000 each, in buildings and improvements, but that Sir

Henry advised the Home Government, ignorant of these facts,

to grant them only leases of 75 years ; ( 2) that he thus broke


faith with the mercantile community after he had, from 1841 to

1843 , used every endeavour, both by facilities temporarily offered

to early occupants of land, and by the threat of the penalty

of forfeiting their purchases to all who did not commence

building, to induce British merchants of Macao and Canton

to remove to Hongkong ; ( 3) that, in negotiating the Nanking

Treaty, he studiously neglected to provide for any extension

of the ground allotted to the foreign community in Canton,

or indeed for adequate facilities for building on the space they

formerly occupied in Canton, and this with a view (at one time

openly avowed) of forcing the British merchants at Cantou to

settle in Hongkong ; (4) that, with a view to make the Colony

pay its own expenses, he imposed on the colonists all sorts of

financial and commercial restrictions and taxation, whilst giving

the British community no municipal powers nor any representa-

tion in Council ; (5) that, in the case of the Supplementary

Treaty, acting as Plenipotentiary, he signed away the freedom

of the port and betrayed the commercial and maritime interests

of the Colony by giving the Canton Mandarins every facility

to strangle the young commerce of Hongkong ; (6 ) that, acting

as Governor, he may have sought to further the interests of

the Crown but failed to identify himself with the interests of

British trade in Hongkong, being too proud to consult the

views of the leading merchants, deaf to the voice of the press

and callous to the wants of the people ; ( 7 ) that, influenced

by prejudices against the opium traffic and ignorant of the

complexity of the commercial problem involved in it, he was

in a fog as to the real requirements of the commerce of

Hongkong and mistakenly assumed the rôle of a coast -guard

officer of Chinese revenue, counteracting in every respect those

free trade principles on which the commercial prosperity of the

Colony in reality depended ; (8 ) that, whilst doing everything

to foster the illusion that Hongkong would immediately become

a vast emporium of commerce and lavishly spending money

on official salaries and buildings, he neglected the commonest

sanitary measures and, instead of increasing the force of 28 police


constables so as to provide at least a night patrol for Queen's

Road, appointed a ridiculous corps of 44 Magistrates ; ( 9 )

that, by irregularities connected with the Survey Department,

which he placed under the charge of a relative of his own,

and by looseness in the management of land-sales, as well as by

granting Crown -lots to officials, he furthered the growth of a

regular gamble in land and house property ; (10) that he

unduly postponed the organization of civil jurisdiction, left the

Magistracy for years in the hands of a military officer having

no legal knowledge or instinct whatever, whilst the Criminal

Sessions, presided over on one occasion (March 8, 1844) by him-

self, were a solemn farce, and his final measure of handing over

all civil suits to arbitration by Justices of the Peace was a

reckless measure unsuited and injurious to the Colony ; ( 11 )

that socially he isolated himself to such an extent that he never

was in touch with any section of the community, whilst he,

and the civilians nearest to him in office, thinking that the

community were but opium dealers and smugglers intent only

upon robbing the Government, acted throughout on the principle.

of not granting anything that could possibly be withheld .

It remains to sketch briefly the social life of this period.

After the departure of the fleet and of the troops of the

expedition, in the winter of 1842, the social life of the

Colony underwent, as above stated, a sudden revolution.

Previous to that time the head centre of social entertainments

was formed by the head-quarters, where diplomatists, military

and naval officers and local Government officers, domineered ,

and the leading merchants were but condescendingly admitted .

With the commencement of the year 1843, the mercantile

community had the preponderance, the Governor and his

favourite officials insulated themselves at Government House,

whilst the principal merchants kept open table for military and

naval officers and visitors, gaining for themselves by their bound-

less hospitality the title of merchant princes. The European

mercantile community (prevailingly British, but interspersed

with a few German, American, Dutch, French and Italian


merchants), now became the pivot of the social life of the

Colony, and the more the Governor became estranged to them ,

the closer were drawn the bonds of social intercourse between

the merchants and the officers of Her Majesty's Army and

Navy. Major-General Lord Saltoun (since November 3, 1842)

made himself popular as President of the local Madrigal Society.

Major-General D'Aguilar and his staff rapidly became and

continued to be (for a short time) the favourites of the whole

community. Even Commodore Parker (since June 22 , 1843) , of

the U.S. Frigate Brandywine, and his officers (in 1843 and 1844)

vied with Rear-Admiral Sir Th. Cochrane (since June 19, 1842)

and the officers of H.M.S. Agincourt in reciprocating the social

entente cordiale which reigned everywhere in the Colony, outside

of Government House and Government Offices. A theatrical

company from Australia enlivened the winter evenings of 1842 .

A slightly better company ( Signor Delle Casse) visited the Colony

in winter 1843 and continued to occupy the Royal Theatre till

1844. But the annual races and regatta were, during this

administration, still held in Macao, for which purposes a general

pilgrimage to Macao occupied the latter half of the month of

February in 1842 and 1843. The sympathies of the community

were powerfully aroused at the news of the Cabul disasters, and

a public subscription was immediately raised (October 13 , 1842)

for the relief of sufferers in Afghanistan. The whole community

was in mourning when one of the heroes of Cabul, Lieutenant

Eldred Pottinger, the brother and expected successor of the

Governor, died at Hongkong, particularly as his death happened

so soon after the decease of the Hon. J. R. Morrison (August 29 ,

1843 ) whose death was viewed as a national calamity ' and was

followed three weeks later by the death of Lieutenant-Colonel

Knowles (November 7 , 1843 ) . The birthof the first British

subject ushered into the world in Hongkong (January 20, 1843)

was the occasion of much social humour ; whilst, a year later,

the rumour that the Governor, in view of the insufficiency of

house accommodation procurable in the Colony, meditated

billetting all military officers upon the European inhabitants


(January 13, 1844) , aroused an extraordinary amount of sarcasm .

Between the public press and the Governors of Macao and

Hongkong there arose (since January, 1844) a good deal of

acrimonious discussion , which led to historical inquiries as to

the exact title under which the Portuguese held their Colony.

The cause of the misunderstanding was the fact that the original

draft of an Ordinance published by Sir Henry, on January 26,

1844, to extend the law of England to all British subjects in

China, particularized Macao as situate within the dominions.

of the Emperor of China, ' and that this was viewed by the

Governor and loyal Senate of Macao as a gross violation of

international law and comity. Between the Canton and Macao

communities on the one hand and the European community of

Hongkong on the other hand, there was constant and intimate

social intercourse . Though every commercial house readily

accommodated visitors, there were several flourishing hotels ,

first Lane's Hotel ' ( 1841 to 1843 ) and then (since May 1 ,

1844) the Waterloo ' (Lopes) and the Commercial Inn'

(Maclehose) .

With the commencement of the year 1844, the foreign

community of Hongkong began to be divided between friends

and enemies of the Colony. Sir H. Pottinger, whose health

was undermined by the strain of his diplomatic worries and by

the influence of the climate, and who had never courted friendly

relations with the leading British merchants, now began to show

more plainly than ever that he held no higher opinion of the

typical British Colonial trader than that which the Duke of

Wellington held in the days of Lord Napier. And the British

merchants, feeling themselves classed by the Governor with

smugglers and pirates, and resenting the mismanagement of the

Supplementary Treaty, were not slow in attributing to Sir H.

Pottinger a considerable share in the supposed ruin of Hongkong

commerce. The officials and the community were thoroughly

out of touch with each other ; the newspapers freely libelled

the Surveyor General, the Chief Magistrate, the Postmaster

and other officials, whilst the official reports sent to Downing


Street were believed to paint the iniquities of the merchants in

glowing colours. In short the Colony of Hongkong earned in

these early days the soubriquet, which it sustained for several

decades later, of being both the land of libel and the haunt

of fever.'

Such was the state of affairs when, to the astonishment

of the colonists, Sir John Davis, the former successor of Lord

Napier in the Superintendency of Trade, arrived with his suite

in Hongkong ( May 13 , 1844 ) to relieve Sir H. Pottinger. The

latter, it appeared, had been promised the next vacancy of the

Governorship of the Presidency of Madras, which settlement,

though nearer to the Equator, was then justly considered to

be not by any means so hot a place for a British official

as Hongkong had by this time become. Three years previous

the editor of the Canton Register had assumed the role of

the prophet and uttered the following diresome vaticination,


Hongkong,' we read in the Canton Register of February 23,

1841. will be the resort and rendezvous of all the Chinese

smugglers ; opium smoking shops and gambling houses will

soon spread ; to those haunts will flock all the discontented and

bad spirits of the Empire ; the Island will be surrounded by

floating Shameens (haunts of vice) and become a gehenna of

the waters.' Such was the voice of Hongkong's Cassandra in

1841 , and by the time that Sir H. Pottinger's administration

closed, this prophecy seemed well nigh fulfilment . It may be

doubted if Sir Henry returned to England in a much happier

frame of mind than Captain Elliot whom he had superseded

but hardly excelled.

When Sir H. Pottinger, after another visit to the Bogue

for the vain purpose of patching up the Supplementary Treaty,

left the Colony (June 12 , 1844) , the leading local newspaper,

expressing the harsh views entertained at the time by the

residents, spoke of him as a man who, with all his brilliant

talents, appears either to have been utterly devoid of a sense

of the moral obligations imposed upon him, his heart being

perfectly seared to the impression of suffering humanity, or



deliberately living in seclusion among a few adoring parasites

whose limited intellects were devoted to pander to the great

man's vanity. ' Exaggerative as this statement appears, the general

verdict of the mercantile community on Sir H. Pottinger's regime

certainly was, that the deserved fame of the Plenipotentiary

had been seriously tarnished by the acts of the Governor.

Upon his return to England he was sworn in as a Member

of the Privy Council and the House of Commons voted him a

pension of £ 1,500 per annum . He did not immediately take

up the Madras appointment but went first to the Cape Colony

( 1846 to 1847 ) as Governor, and then held the governorship

and command-in-chief of Madras Presidency till 1854. Born

in 1789, he died in 1856, but 67 years old, at Malta.



May 8, 1844, to March 18, 1848.

T has been pointed out above what a serious error it was that

was committed when the British Cabinet , sending out Lord

Napier as the King's representative at Canton, associated him

in office with men who had been trained in the East India

Company's Canton school of truculent submission to Chinese

mandarindom and who were looked upon by Chinese officials as

contemptible traders. A similar mistake was made when Her

Majesty's Government, looking out for a successor of Sir

H. Pottinger, in that game of diplomacy with Chinese statesmen

in which he had been so smartly duped, and in the government

of a Colony established on the express principles of free trade,

selected for this difficult post a gentleman who, as a former

member of the East India Company's Select Committee at Macao

and Canton, was altogether identified with the ideas of mingled

servility, autocracy and monopoly as exemplified in the history of

that Company. Mr. (subsequently, since July, 1845 , Sir) John

Francis Davis, Baronet, had indeed great experience of Chinese

affairs. In his youth ( 1816 to 1817 ) he had served on the staff

of Lord Amherst's mission to China. He had spent the best

part of his life in the service of the Company in South China,

bowing to Chinese officials and frowning upon European free

traders, till he retired ( January 21 , 1835 ) in all the glory of a

Chief Superintendent of Trade. He had meanwhile composed

and published a work on China, ' in two volumes, which is still

recognized as one of the best descriptions of the Celestial Empire,

and he posed now as a great sinologue and scholar. No doubt

he knew the Chinese character and naturally he thought also he


knew the typical British free trader, despoiled and despondent as

the latter was (at the close of Sir H. Pottinger's administration) ,

under the conviction that the free port of Hongkong had proved

a commercial failure. If Sir Henry had been duped by the

Chinese Mandarins in connection with his Supplementary Com-

mercial Treaty, it was no doubt because he knew nothing of

commerce and even less of Chinese. But here was Sir John, a

China merchant and Chinese sinologue rolled in one. Who

could be a better successor for Sir Henry ? And as to the puzzle

of Hongkong's commercial decay, why Sir John Davis understood

it perfectly the China Trade had reached its zenith under the

regime of the East India Company, and where the Company

could do no more, free trade was naturally bound to bring about

a gradual diminution of the volume of trade. He understood it

all protection and monopoly was the remedy, and free traders

must simply draw in their horns and learn to eat humble pie.

His mission was to teach them to do that. And he did it — with

what result, we shall see. But one thing more I have to add

to these introductory remarks. Sir John Davis was not merely

a scion in Chinese diplomacy and an exponent of British

protectionism , but above all he was a scholar and a philanthropist :

in this British Colony, placed at the very gates of China's

antiquated semi-barbarism, he would demonstrate the kindlier

humanities of British law and government and illustrate by

the example of his administration the superiority of European

learning and civilization.

Before Sir H. Pottinger left China, Sir John Davis, having

entered ( May 8 , 1844) upon the duties of Superintendent of

Trade under the Foreign Office, as well as upon those of Governor

and Commander- in- Chief of Hongkong under the Colonial Office,

had an opportunity to show off his diplomatic prowess by

assisting his predecessor, at a meeting with Kiying (June 13 , 1844) ,

to try and persuade the latter to surrender, or make amends

for, some of the advantages he had gained by his trickery

in connection with the Supplementary Treaty of October 8 , 1843.

Two of the newly-arrived Colonial officials, the Hon. F. Bruce


(Colonial Secretary) and M. Martin (Colonial Treasurer ) assisted

at the memorable interview. But Kiying was a match for them

all, blandly explained away everything that seemed shady and

-conceded nothing . The fact was, the Pottinger Treaties had, as

Sir John Bowring once put it ( April 19 , 1852 ) , inflicted a

deep wound upon the pride, but by no means altered the policy, of

the Chinese Government.' The Treaty remained as it was, and

our two diplomatists were reluctantly compelled to try and gloss

things over by publishing a garbled account by a proclamation

(July 10, 1844) and an imperfect translation (July 16, 1844) ,

leaving it to the public to find out the mischievous provisions

of the Treaty for themselves in course of time. An illustrative

case soon occurred. On August 10 , 1844, a Chinese junk,

heavily armed and manned by a crew of 70 ruffians, but

having no clearance papers as required by Article XIV of the

Supplementary Treaty, ventured to drop anchor in Hongkong

harbour. The junk had really come to frighten away or report

upon any Chinese trading junks that might be in harbour. But

the harbour police mistakenly suspecting her to be a piratical

vessel, arrested her, and as there were doubts whether she was

a trader without papers or a pirate, Sir John Davis ordered

her to be delivered to the Kowloon Mandarin as having come

into harbour without the clearance papers required by Treaty.

This was the first and only case when the foolish concessions

of the Supplementary Treaty, constituting the harbour police

of Hongkong as underlings of the Chinese revenue preventive

service, were acted upon by a benighted Hongkong governor.

The denouement was too ridiculous : the junk turned out to be

neither a trading nor a piratical craft but a Chinese revenue

farmer's guardboat. However, the news got abroad that every

Chinese trading junk, visiting Hongkong without those precious

clearance papers , which no Chinese customs office would grant,

was to be handed over by the British harbour police to the

tender mercies of the Kowloon Mandarin . This contributed

materially to injure the native commerce of the Colony and to

keep away the junk trade for some time to come.


As Superintendent of Trade and Head of the Consular

Service in China, Sir John Davis had to visit all the Treaty

ports once a year, in order to inspect the Consulates and give

the necessary directions. During his periodical absence from

the Colony in connection with these duties, Major-General

D'Aguilar used to administer the government of the Colony

as Lieutenant - Governor. In the matter of the Supplementary

Treaty, the mischievous provisions of which were condemned

by Her Majesty's Government as much as by the community,

Sir John had another interview with Kiying at the Bogue (April,

1846 ) but failed again to get any concession in favour of the

Chinese trade of Hongkong. Nor did he succeed to wring

from that astute diplomatist anything but vague promises as

to granting British merchants in Canton the rights secured by

the Nanking Treaty with reference to protection from mob

violence, freedom of building residences on a separate concession,

liberty to enter the city of Canton, or to make excursions inland.

Again and again British subjects were assaulted at Canton and

all he could get from Kiying was a series of specious pretexts

for blaming British merchants for being so insolent as to ask for

their rights or to expect exemption from molestation by mob

violence. Sir John Davis used the hints of Kiying freely and,

without rhyme or reason, accused the merchants of being the prime

movers in all disturbances and made himself as much hated by

the British community at Canton as he made himself, by his

gullibility, ridiculous to Kiying, who, however, played the role

of Sir John's very good friend and even came to visit him in

Hongkong (November 22 to 25, 1845) , when the compliment

could be turned to good account . One thing, however, Sir John

did succeed in obtaining from the Canton Authorities and that

was the publication of a dispatch by the Provincial Treasurer

of Canton, addressed (December 26, 1844) to the Hongkong

Government, in which the former magnanimously renounced

all claims to the land-tax of Hongkong and virtually admitted

the sovereignty of Her Majesty over the whole Island . It was

worth something, to be sure, to have this not merely stated


in a Treaty, which most Chinese now regarded as waste paper,

but actually acknowledged by a subordinate Chinese official.

It was indeed a great deviation from the practice hitherto

adopted by Chinese officers. For instance, on November

23, 1844, it was accidentally discovered that officers of the

San-on District Magistrate openly collected at Stanley, as they

had all along been accustomed to do, the annual fishing tax of

400 cash per boat for the privilege ( granted to 150 junks) of

fishing in Hongkong waters. This was merely one of many

cases shewing that the San-on Magistrate still considered

Hongkong to be part and parcel of the Chinese dominions and

all further doubts on the subject were removed by a case

(November 14, 1846 ) in which Chinese officers boldly arrested

some Chinese- British subjects within the Colony and carried

them off by force .

Meanwhile the complaints of the Canton merchants as to

the utter insecurity of life and property in Canton and as to

the striking want of sympathy and energy displayed on their

behalf by Sir John Davis, made themselves heard in England

and as usual stirred Lord Palmerston's spirit. Two sailors of

a British ship at Canton , strolling into the city, had been

frightfully illtreatel by a Canton mob in October, 1846. Sir

John, as usual, instead of claiming redress at the hands of the

Cantonese Anthorities, ordered the Consul to fine the captain

for turning the two seamen loose upon the populace and thereby

causing a disturbance. In a dispatch to Lord Palmerston he

casually alluded to the case as one of no importance, asking

for no powers at all to proceed in the matter, but in reply

he received the following stunning instructions. I have to

instruct you,' wrote Lord Palmerston (January 12 , 1847 ) , ' to

demand the punishment of the parties guilty of this outrage,

and you will moreover inform the Chinese Authorities, in plain

and distinct terms, that the British Government will not tolerate

that a Chinese mob shall with impunity maltreat British subjects

whenever they get them into their power, and that , if the Chinese

Authorities will not by the exercise of their own authority punish


and prevent such outrages, the British Government will be

obliged to take the matter into their own hands .'


On receipt of this dispatch Sir John Davis lost his head

completely. He thought he had an opportunity now to steal

a march upon the Chinese Authorities, to take them by surprise,

to occupy Canton city by a sudden descent upon it with au

armed force, and then to dictate his own terms as a triumphant

conqueror. He consulted Major-General G. D'Aguilar, who

reluctantly yielded to the Quixotic plan . An engineer officer

went secretly to reconnoitre the Bogue Forts and reported them

to be practically untenanted. So a force of 1,000 men was

quietly mobilized, part of Lord Palmerston's dispatch was

published on fools ' day, and next morning (April 2 , 1847 ) the

expedition started with three men-of-war ( H.M.S. Vulture, Pluto

and Espiègle) and a chartered steamer ( Corsair) , the latter

having on board Sir John, the Major-General with his staff

and the Senior Naval Officer, Captain Macdougall. In the course

of 36 hours this redoubtable force, waging a private war of

Sir John's upon a defenceless and unwarned foe, captured all

the principal forts in the Canton River without the loss of a man

and, in spite of the fire of several batteries, spiked 879 guns.

On April 3, 1847, the expedition dropped anchor at Canton

abreast of the factories, and disembarked the troops, to the

utter amazement of Kiying and the British community. The

British Chamber of Commerce sent a deputation to Sir John

to inquire what it all meant, but they were told by Consul

Macgregor that Sir John had expressed no wish to see them.

Kiying was blandly informed (April 4, 1847 ) of Sir John's

demands and next day informed by an ultimatum that, unless

these were granted at the interview for which he fixed the

6th April, the city of Canton would be bombarded and taken by

assault. After some hesitation , Kiying at last consented to meet

Sir John Davis (April 6 ) , and, as usual, satisfied him with

empty promises. He offered to let the British community buy

or rent 50 acres on Honam island if the individual owners should

be willing to sell. He further offered to open Canton city to


foreigners on or about April 6 , 1849, if it were practicable by

that time, and to allow excursions into the country, also to let

Europeans build a church near the factories and bury their dead

at Whampoa. Meanwhile he secretly made his arrangements

for an attack. But Sir John at once accepted the terms, though

they virtually were below the level of what the Nanking Treaty

had granted in 1842 , and on April 8, 1847 , the British expedition

returned to Hongkong triumphantly, leaving Kiying to report

to the Emperor that he detained Sir John in parleys whilst

collecting and bringing up his army, but that Sir John preci-

pitately fled to Hongkong as soon as he found himself threatened

by the Chinese troops. The British communities at Canton

and Hongkong were indignant at this wanton and bootless

bucaneering expedition ' which merely served to cause a sudden

stagnation of the Canton trade, to render the lives and property

of foreigners in Canton even less secure than before, and to

make European views of state policy and international law

ridiculous in the eyes of the Chinese. It seemed clear to them

that Sir John Davis was even a worse failure as a diplomatist

than Sir Henry Pottinger had been. Lord Palmerston, however,

approved of Sir John's proceedings and so the matter rested

for the time, the more so as Kiying treated Sir John's warlike

frolic with silent contempt .

A few months afterwards, however, a new disturbance arose

in Canton, and when Sir John Davis, none the wiser for his

past experiences, me litated another military expedition against

Canton, and induced Major- General D'Aguilar to write to Ceylon

for re-inforcements, Sir G. Grey, delighted to have an opportunity

of subverting Lord Palmerston's policy, peremptorily prohibited

any further offensive operations to be undertaken against

the Chinese without the previous sanction of Her Majesty's

Government. At the same time Earl Grey censured the April


expedition in plain terms. Although the late operations, ' he


wrote (September 22, 1847 ) , were attended with immediate

success, the risk of a second attempt of the same kind would

far overbalance any advantage to be derived from such a step.


If the conduct of the Chinese Authorities should unfortunately

render another appeal to arms inevitable, it will be necessary

that it should be made after due preparation and with the

employment of such an amount of force as may afford just

grounds for expecting that the objects which may be purposed

by such a measure will be effectually accomplished without

unnecessary loss. ' It has been alleged that Sir John was so

taken aback by this censure, that he forthwith resigned, but at

the time when this dispatch was penned, Sir John Davis had

already sent in his resignation which was unhesitatingly accepted

( November 18 , 1847 ) . Sir John's term of the Superintendency

of Trade closed with another sad outbreak of popular temper

at Canton. Six young foreigners, visiting a village some three

miles above Canton (December 5, 1847 ) were set upon by a

mob, tortured and murdered in cold blood . When Kiying

delayed punishment of the guilty, Sir J. Davis pluckily prepared

for another armed demonstration (January 5 , 1848 ) . But as

soon as Kiying found that Sir John had a squadron ready for

action (February 17, 1848 ) , he yielded and had some of the

guilty parties executed near the village in question (Wongchukee)

in the presence of a company of the 95th Regiment, sent up

for the purpose, from Hongkong, in H.M.S. Pluto.

Sir John Davis had an opportunity to distinguish himself

as a diplomatist in another field. He was directed to arrange

a commercial treaty with Annam. Had he been furnished with

proper information, and especially with capable interpreters ,

there would have been a chance for him to do a great work

for the expansion of British trade, opening new markets , new

trade routes, tapping Yunnan and Kwangsi, and keeping the

French out of Annam and Tungking. But being without any

diplomatic link of connection whatever and having neither agent

nor friend at the Annamese Court, where French influence was

already at work to keep off British intervention, nor even a

capable interpreter, he naturally failed as signally with the

Annamese officials as he had failed with Chinese diplomatists.

Leaving Hongkong on October 6 , 1847 , he in vain attempted to


open up negotiations with the officials on the coast near Huéh .

Every Annamese officer appealed to refused to take any message.

Leaving a letter addressed to the sovereign of Annam deposited

on the beach, he at last received a message by subordinate

officials, declining all negotiation and refusing admittance to

Huch . Sir John gave up any further attempt to thwart French

influence in Cochin-China and returned to Hongkong (October

30, 1847 ) disappointed .

Sir John's relations with the neighbouring Colony of Macao

were peaceful but by no means of the happiest sort. As the

fortunes of the Colony of Hongkong were visibly declining, the

Macao Government thought there was a chance of retrieving

the mistakes of the past and bringing back to Macao the

discontented free traders of Hongkong as well as the American,

Dutch, French and Parsee merchants established at Canton.

Accordingly a decree was obtained at Lisbon (November 20 ,

1845 ) which, though far from being a complete free trade

measure, reduced the harbour dues and custom house exactions

to the lowest possible minimum and virtually made trade at

Macao less cumbersome and more propitious than it was at

Hongkong. The measure failed to re-establish the former for-

tunes of Macao : it came too late for that. But it contributed

its quota towards a further diminution of the commerce of

Hongkong and a considerable increase of the discontent felt by

Hongkong merchants. An assault that was committed on Sir

John Davis (April 11 , 1845 ) , whilst on a visit to Macao, was

without any political significance, but indicative of that turbulent

character of the Macao Chinese which was so fatally to manifest

itself against the next Governor of Macao (Senhor Amaral)

who, within a year after his arrival (April 18, 1846 ), ordering

a road to be cut through the Campo and interfering thereby

with Chinese graves, had subsequently to pay with his life for

this disregard of Chinese religious superstition. In March, 1847 ,

the prospects of Macao were as discouraging as those of

Hongkong and a cession of Macao to France was talked of, but

the movement, if it ever had any reality, came to nothing.


Turning now to Sir J. Davis' gubernatorial measures, we

find that the expansion of the Civil Service and reforms in

the constitution of the Councils occupied much of his time. He

brought with him, on his arrival (May 7 , 1844) a Colonial

Secretary (Hon . F. Bruce) , a Colonial Treasurer ( M. Montgomery

Martin) , a Court Registrar ( R. D. Cay) , a Private Secretary

(W. T. Mercer) , an Auditor General (A. E. Shelley) , a Civil

Engineer (J. Pope, to whom we owe the designs of Government

House, Colonial Offices, and Cathedral) and a warrant appointing

Major Caine (the Chief Magistrate) as Sheriff and Provost

Marshal of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice (J. W. Hulme)

came a month later (June 9, 1844) and the first Hongkong

Barrister (H. Ch . Sirr) arrived on July 1 , 1844, but as the

Colonial Office postponed the appointment of an Attorney

General (P. I. Stirling ) till August 5 and made some other

important omissions, the Supreme Court could not be opened

until October 1 , 1844. Two years later (November 18, 1847)

the present Court House was obtained by purchasing from

Dent & Co. the so-called Exchange Building. The working

of the Supreme Court, which held its first criminal sessions on

October 2, 1844, was gradually perfected by a series of legislative

enactments, dealing with the constitution of the Court (No. 6

of 1845 and 2 of 1846 ) , trial by jury (No. 7 of 1845 ) , criminal

procedure ( No. 8 of 1845 and 6 of 1846 ) , summary jurisdiction

(No. 9 of 1845 ) , insolvency ( No. 3 and 5 of 1846 ) and coroner's

juries (No, 5 of 1847 ) . A Vice- Admiralty Court was established

(March 4 , 1846 ) and held its first session on January 14, 1847 .

The division of the town into the present three districts

(Sheungwan, Chungwan, Hawan), the lines of demarcation being

Aberdeen Street in the West and Elliot's Vale (the present

Glenealy ravine) in the East, dates from July 24, 1844, when

the previously existing popular terms were officially adopted .

By the opening of a new market (July 25, 1844) at Taipingshan,

the congested state of the Chungwan and Sheungwan markets

was considerably relieved. Owing to the dearth and high rents

of houses suitable for Civil Servants, the Government provided


(August 16 , 1844) special Civil Service Buildings (now known

as Albany ) which were, however, later on ( May 15 , 1847 )

transferred to the Military Authorities. Two new offices were

established by Sir J. Davis, viz. the office of Registrar General

and Collector of the land-tax (S. Fearon) who commenced his

duties on January, 1845 , and the office of Marine Magistrate

(March 15 , 1845) the duties of which were, however, during

Mr. W. Pedder's absence on leave, temporarily discharged by

Mr. S. Fearon, whilst Mr. A. Lena acted as Harbour Master.

A paid Coroner (Ch. G. Holdforth was substituted (October 11 ,

1845) for the popular voluntary Coroner ( E. Farncomb) who

had joined the opposition against certain Government measures.

After various changes in the constitution of the Councils, and

in spite of the continuous demands of the British community

for adequate representation in the Legislative Council, at least

through the nomination by the Crown of an equal number of

official and unofficial Members, this burning question was

temporarily decided by Sir John Davis refusing all popular

representation. Warrants were issued (December 1 , 1845 ) for the

Lieutenant -Governor, Colonial Secretary and Police Magistrate

to be Members of Executive Council, and for the Lieutenant-

Governor, the Chief Justice and Attorney General to constitute,

with the Governor, the Legislative Council of the Colony. For

some inscrutable reason the Surveyor General's title was reduced

to that of Colonial Surveyor (August 8 , 1846 ) on the occassion

of the abolition of the office of Assistant Surveyor General, and

by the amalgamation of the duties of Auditor and Colonial

Secretary (September 15 , 1846 ) the audit of local official accounts

was reduced to a mere formality. These two measures were but

equalled in want of foresight by the decision of the Military

Authorities (March 8, 1847) to erect defensible barracks-

' soldiers' grave-yards ' they ought to have been called - at


The legislative labours of Sir John Davis commenced with

the knotty problem of regulating the Chinese population . The

humble attempt to control the Chinese in Hongkong quietly


by means of their own elders on the basis of the Pocheung and

Pokap system (Ordinance 13 to May 31 , 1844) was one of the

legacies handed over to Sir John Davis by his predecessor. Sir

John Davis, however, disliked such a non-autocratic measure,

having his own ideas on the subject . Although he got that

Ordinance passed by the Council, he practically disregarded it

and set to work to devise a measure of his own which, by means

of registration, should immediately purge the Colony of the

bad blood imported into it by the continuous influx of criminals

from the neighbouring districts, as if registration would keep

them away or reveal their habits. The care proved to be worse

than the evil.

On August 21 , 1844 , the Legislative Council, intending to

check the indiscriminate influx into Hongkong of the scum of

the population of the neighbouring mainland and at the same

time anxious to avoid class legislation, passed a Bill to establish

a registry of all the inhabitants of Hongkong without distinction

of nationality. Neither the European nor the Chinese mercantile

communities were consulted in the matter, nor was anything

done, after passing the Bill, until Sir J. Davis returned

( October 18 , 1844 ) from a visit to the Consular ports, when the

Ordinance was made public and it was notified that it was to come

into force on 1st November. Then the European community

woke up to the startling discovery that a poll-tax was to be

levied not only on Chinese vagabonds but on all the inhabitants

without exception, that all British residents, as well as Chinese,

were to appear once every year before the Registrar General,

answer questions as to birth, parentage, age, income and so forth,

being liable to be deported if the answers were not satisfactory,

and that the only distinction between a British merchant and a

Chinese coolie was the enactment that the former should pay

five dollars and the latter one dollar a year for his registration

ticket. The reception by the British residents of such an

Ordinance may well be imagined . They rose up like one man

in wrathful indignation, feeling their personal self- respect, their

national honour, the liberty of the subject trampled under foot


even more ruthlessly than in the days of the Co- Hong bondage

at Canton. Accordingly, the first Public Meeting of Hongkong

was held (October 28 , 1844 ) at the residence of Mr. A. Carter.

This meeting, after unanimously condemning the Bill as

iniquitous, unconstitutional and un - English in principle, appointed

a Committee (J. D. Gibb, D) . Matheson , S. Rawson, Pat. Dudgeon

and A Carter) to memorialize the Government accordingly.

On the same day the Government published an obscurely-worded

Chinese translation of the Ordinance which only added to the

excitement and misunderstanding that prevailed among the

Chinese, giving them the impression that the poll-tax to be levied

from 1st November was monthly and not annual. 'The

Celestials,' said the Friend of China a few days later, are a

passive race and will bear squeezing to any ordinary extent,

but when this blundering translation would squeeze one half

of their monthly wages out of them, then they thought it was

time to return to their own country, nor would we blame them

had they left in a body.' On the 30th October there was a

universal suspension of all forms of Chinese labour. The shops

and markets were shut, cargo boats, coolies , domestic servants,

all went on strike simultaneously and all business was at a

standstill. The Chinese made preparations to desert Hongkong

en masse on the next day, if the Government should enforce this

law, but there was no rioting of any sort . At 4 p.m. the

deputation of the European community waited on the Governor

to present a Memorial dated October 30 and signed by 107

British subjects. This Memorial stated that the principles of the

Ordinance were as unjust as they were arbitrary and unconstitu-

tional, because taxing unrepresented British subjects in the most

iniquitous of forms ; that the provisions of the Ordinance violated

the Treaty with China ; that they interfered with labour and

consequently with the prosperity of the Colony and that it would

be found impracticable to work this Ordinance. Unaware at

the time of the strong language of the Memorial, which was

handed by the deputation to the Clerk of Councils, the Governor

told them that the Ordinance would not be enforced for two


or more months to come and that it would then be carried out

but partially. Subsequently, however, the Memorial was returned

to the Committee by the Clerk of Councils, as disapproved on

the ground that the language of the Memorial was of a character

directly opposed to respect for the constituted authorities of the

Colony and it was requested that the document be properly

worded. But before this message could be delivered , the

Committee, observing the alarming state of affairs in town,

had drafted a second Memorial, dated October 31 , 1844, drawing

attention to the suspension of all business and the stoppage of

provisions, and begging that some official notification be

immediately promulgated to allay the excitement prevailing

among all classes. After forwarding this second Memorial, the

Committee wrote to the Clerk of Councils, saying that the

language of the first Memorial, though strong, represented their

sentiments and was imperatively called for by the urgency of

the occasion, but at the same time they disavowed the remotest

intention of addressing the Governor in Council in any other

than the most respectful terms. But this letter did not reach

the Governor till 1st November . Meanwhile, in reply to the

second Memorial, the Clerk of Councils informed the Committee

(October 31 ) that, whereas all seditious rioting on the part of

the Chinese had been easily suppressed, the Governor and

Council were now prepared to receive properly-worded suggestions.

Thereupon the Committee at once suggested (October 31 ) the

ultimate abrogation of the Ordinance, but, as meanwhile an

exodus of some 3,000 Chinese had taken place and business was

for several days at a complete standstill, the Committee summoned

another Public Meeting on Saturday, 2nd November. Before

that meeting, the Committee received a letter from the Clerk

of Councils (dated November 2, 1844) censuring the unbecoming

reiteration in their last letter of those disrespectful sentiments

and stating that, while the Committee continue to maintain

such views, all further communication between the Government

and the Committee must cease. At the same time an official

notification (November 2, 1844) was issued in which the


Governor, on the ground that the comprador of a leading firm

was reported to have called a meeting of Chinese who used the

same disrespectful language, accused the British community of

having, by unworthy practices, tampered with an ignorant.

and unfortunate Chinese population by instigating them to

passive resistance.' An enthusiastic Public Meeting, however,

unanimously endorsed forthwith the procedure and the views

of the Committee, as all residents looked upon the ticketing and

labelling of British subjects as an inequitable if not iniquitous

procedure. The speakers congratulated each other upon their

escape from a system of petty tyranny which, however, they

admitted was not really contemplated by Government in passing

the objectionable Ordinance. A standing Committee was

appointed to co-operate with the Government in remodelling

the Ordinance, and the formation of a Chamber of Commerce

was suggested . But a threat was also expressel that British

merchants might return to Macao where, under a foreign

flag, they would not be subjected to laws repugnant to their

feelings and utterly opposed to the enjoyment of that personal

freedom which was their inalienable birthright. One of the

speakers quoted Blackstone's commentaries to prove that without

representation there can be no legal taxation of British subjects .

This made a great impression. Representative and municipal

government was thenceforth frequently but vainly demanded .

The Public Meeting having thus abstained from condemning the

registration of Chinese and confined itself to a protest against

the taxation connected with it and against the application of the

proposed Ordinance to British subjects, as putting Europeans

upon a par with the canaille of China,' there was a way open for

reconciliation with the Government. Accordingly, on November

4, 1844, the standing Committee (T. A. Gibb, Don. Matheson

and A. Carter) wrote to the Clerk of Councils expressing regret as

to the strong language use by them and disavowing any motive

of disrespect. Thereupon the Governor in Council, accepting

this declaration, made his peace with the community. But the

British residents of Canton (most of whom were representatives



of firms established in Hongkong) sent to the Governor

(November 6, 1844 ) a stately remonstrance, signed by W. Leslie,

W. Bell and 38 other British subjects, recording ' their respectful

but firm remonstrance against a measure unexampled in modern

British legislation, fraught with great and certain mischief,

calculated in no ordinary degree to interfere with and restrict

the rights and liberties of Her Majesty's subjects, and utterly

subversive of that confidence, cordiality and co-operation which

ought to subsist between Governors and the Governed, and are

so essential to the tranquillity and prosperity of every Colony,

and which, if forced into operation, will reduce apparently the

Island of Hongkong to the level of a Penal Settlement .' It

was also proposed in Hongkong to memorialize Her Majesty's

Government to say that the Colonists had lost faith in the

local Government. However, after a few days, moderate

counsels prevailed , and the whole excitement gradually subsided .

On November 13 , 1844, the Legislative Council passed an

amended Registration Ordinance (16 of 1844) , applying

registration only to the lowest classes, abandoning the idea of

any poll-tax of Chinese residents, and exempting from registration

all civil, military and naval employees, all members of the learned

professions, merchants, shopkeepers , householders, tenants of

Crown property and persons having an income of $500 a year.

In fact, this Ordinance granted all that the British community

had contended for, and if the Governor had consulted the leading

merchants or allowed them representation in Council, the whole

conflict between the community and the Government, and the

defeat and consequent humiliation and degradation of the

Government, in the eyes of the astounded Chinese population,

would have been avoided . On January 1 , 1845 , this Ordinance

came into force and worked so smoothly that, on December 31 ,

1846 , it was possible to modify it (No. 7 of 1846 ) so as to

provide also for a periodical census of the whole population.

An outgrowth of the mistaken autocratic attitude which

Sir John Davis assumed towards the community was the severity

with which he enforced (since July 25, 1844 ) the ejectment


of house owners to make room for new improvements, and

particularly his Martial Law Ordinance (20 of 1844) which he

passed through Legislative Council on November 20, 1844, in

order to give the Executive the power of declaring the Island

to be under martial law without the concurrence of that Council.

Never in the whole history of Hongkong was there, nor is

there ever likely to be, any need for such a drastic measure.

The characteristic attitude towards any enlightened and strong

government, which Chinese residing on British soil display in

every part of the world, gives a complete denial to the supposition

which called forth this enactment. Yet the accomplished

sinologue misread the character of the Chinese so completely

that he passed this Bill which, when it became known to the

Chinese that Her Majesty's Government curtly disallowed it,

only served to lower him in the eyes of the Chinese people as

a defeated would-be autocrat.

But there is worse to tell. Mandarin misrule of the

neighbouring provinces of China had at this time reached such

a pitch that throughout South China the population was honey-

combed with secret political societies, the principal of which was

called the Triad Society. The aim of these secret associations

was to act on the first suitable occasion upon the recognized

right of rebellion, a right plainly taught in the authorized

national school-books . To drive out the Manchas and to re-

establish a Chinese dynasty, was the secret desire of almost

every energetic Chinaman unconnected with mandarindom.

When the first mutterings of the coming storm of the Taiping

Rebellion, which in the providence of God was destined to

re-establish the waning fortunes of Hongkong, were observed

by the Cantonese Authorities, they shrewdly availed themselves

of the known fact, that the Chinese in Hongkong were as

much influenced by that secret political propaganda as those

in the interior of China, to strike another blow at the success

of Hongkong as a Colony for Chinese. So they persuaded Sir

J. Davis into passing an Ordinance (No. 1 of 1845 ) the effect

of which was that the Hongkong Police should search out and


arrest political refugees as being members of the Triad and

other secret societies, who, after a term of imprisonment, should

be branded each on the cheek and then be deported to Chinese

territory where of course the Mandarins would forthwith arrest,

torture and execute them. That a British Governor should

ever have enacted such a monstrously barbaric and un-English

law is hardly credible . It is a strange fact that with all his

experience of Chinese, philanthropic Sir John Davis allowed

himself to be so duped by Chinese diplomatists as to become

the unconscious tool of Mandarin oppression in its worst form.

It was not merely an unwise disregard of the sound principle


formulated by Gladstone, that England never makes laws to

benefit the internal condition of any other State ' ; it was not

merely a drastic denial of the world-wide assumption that British

soil is a safe refuge from political tyranny and oppression ; but

it was also a positive assertion, in the face of all China, that

Hongkong Governors would pledge themselves to co-operate with

the Manchu conquerors of China in arresting, imprisoning,

branding on the cheek (as the life-long mark of the outlaw )

and delivering into the hands of Mandarins for execution any

hapless Chinese patriot that should be fool enough to put his

foot on British soil . By order of the Home Government this

barbaric Ordinance (No. 1 of 1845 ) was modified nine months

later (October 20, 1845 ) by substituting, in an amendment

(No. 12 of 1845) , branding under the arm for that mark on

the check which would have made reform even in the case of

a criminal absolutely impossible.

Not quite so bad, but based on an equal ignorance of the

utter inapplicability of European enactments to the peculiar

features of the social and political organism of China, was

the interference with local Chinese bond-servitude which Sir

H. Pottinger had attempted in his Slavery Ordinance (No. 1

of 1844) , the disallowance of which Sir John Davis had

now (January 24, 1845 ) to proclaim. He announced by a

proclamation that the said Ordinance was null and void, and

gave notice that the Acts of Parliament for the abolition of


slave trade and slavery extend by their own proper force and

authority to Hongkong, and that these Acts will be enforced

by all Her Majesty's officers civil and military within the Colony.'

The secretly underlying insinuation that Hongkong bond-

servitude belongs to the category of slavery as defined by the

Slave-trade Acts was a pure fiction, put forward only to gloss

over the defeat of the Government in attempting to meddle

with Chinese national customs. The general question as to what

English laws were in force in Hongkong was dealt with by

Ordinance (August 19, 1845, and May 6, 1846 ) when it was

laid down somewhat vaguely that all laws of England that

existed when Hongkong first obtained a local legislature (April 5,

1843 ) should be deemed in force in the Colony when applicable.'

Unfortunate as the Governor was as a legislator, riding

rough-shod over the whole community, both European and

Chinese, he was even more unfortunate in his dealings with

the local representatives of British judicature. From the time

of the arrival of the Chief Justice (J. W. Hulme) and the

establishment of a Supreme Court, there was a standing feud

between the Governor and the Chief Justice. It arose first of

all out of the mistaken view of their position, adopted by the

local Police Magistrates (Major Caine and Mr. Hillier) who

supposed themselves to be rather executive officers under the

direct orders and control of the Governor, than independent

expositors of the law. The Chief Justice did not conceal from

the Governor his disapproval of this anomalous connection

existing between the Magistrates and the Head of the Executive.

The result was for the first few years merely a straining of the

relations between the Chief Justice on the one hand and the

Governor and the Magistrates on the other hand. Soon the

community began to take sides with the former against the latter.

Great indignation was expressed by the whole British community

when the Police Magistrates, at the order of the Governor who

appeared to be simply desirous of obliging the Macao Governor

by complying with an informal request of the latter, signed a

warrant (August 25, 1846 ) for the arrest and extradition,


without any prima facie evidence, of three Portuguese gentlemen,-

who, after being sent to Macao as prisoners by a British gunboat

(H.M.S. Young Hebe) were, when tried at Macao, found not

guilty in the suit (a civil one) which they had sought to post-

pone by coming to Hongkong. A similar case occurred soon

after (October 23, 1846 ) , when some Portuguese slaves, vainly

supposing that British Slavery Acts were in force in Hongkong

(for others than Chinese), fled to the Colony. Their masters,

however, brought against them, in Macao, a charge of theft .

Although there was no extradition treaty to rely on, the Macao-

Governor forthwith requested Sir John Davis to extradite those

slaves, and as the Magistrates again complied, without the

formality of a trial, with the orders of the Governor, the latter

forthwith informed Senhor Amaral, that the slaves were in

custody and would be delivered on application. Soon after this,

the conflict between the Governor and the Chief Justice became

more pointed. A prominent British merchant at Canton ,

Mr. Ch . Sp. Compton, happened one day (July 4, 1846 ) to-

overturn a huckster's stall, obstructing one of the Factory lanes,

and two days afterwards he pushed a coolie out of his way,

telling Consul Macgregor, who was close by, that he had done.

so. On July 8 , 1846 , one of those periodical riots occurred for

which Canton mobs were notorious. Three months later,

the Consul informed Mr. Compton that Sir John Davis, as

Superintendent of Trade, had (without trial) fined him £ 45 for

upsetting a huckster's stall, intimating that this circumstance

had caused the riot of 8th July. Further, on November 12 ,

1846 , a local paper published a dispatch by Sir J. Davis to

Kiying, in which Mr. Compton was referred to as ' the exciter

of the riots. As the whole European community of Canton

supported Mr. Compton in his contention that the Canton riots

had no connection with his doings, Mr. Compton appealed to

the Supreme Court against Sir John Davis ' sentence. Chief

Justice Hulme tried the case, and, on giving judgment in favour

of appellant, pronounced the sentence of the Consul (ie. the

decision of Sir John Davis) as unjust, excessive and illegal "


and as evincing a total disregard for all forms of law and for

law itself. Moreover, the Chief Justice added that in this

first Consular appeal case the whole proceedings were so irregular

as to render all that occurred a perfect nullity.' The whole

British community applauded this decision, but the Governor

interpreted it as a personal affront. At the same time the

differences between the Chief Justice and the Magistrates

became accentuated . On October 27 , 1846 , a typical case was

tried in the Supreme Court and attracted general attention.

Two Chinese junks had collided in the harbour, and as the

junk which was manifestly at fault attempted to sail away,

the crew of the injured junk fired their muskets to attract

attention. A police boat, supposing the runaway junk to be

a pirate, fired into her and in the mêlée 5 men were drowned

and 13 captured. The Police Magistrate, dealing with the case

in his usual off-hand manner, flogged the 13 men and then

handed them over to the Kowloon Mandarin to be further dealt

with. But the Coroner's jury, after three days ' investigation ,

returned a verdict of manslaughter against the Police and

(by implication) declared the innocence of the 13 men who had

been flogged and deported by the Magistrate. The Supreme

Court now set aside the verdict on the ground of the irregularity

of the whole proceedings, the prisoners having been sworn to

the truth of their depositions, thus making them to incriminate

themselves. The community, convinced for some time past

that a reform in the Police Court personnel was needed, drew

the conclusion that Magistrates should have a legal training.

The following day (October 28, 1846 ) another case, heard in

the Supreme Court, strongly confirmed them in this conclusion.

The Magistrate had sentenced nine men to three months'

imprisonment on a charge of intent to commit a felony, but

when, on appeal to the Supreme Court, the intent of felony

was clearly disproved, the Magistrate explained to the Chief

Justice that he, in reality, had sentenced the prisoners under

the Vagrants' Act of George IV. This practice of the

Magistrates had often been complained of by the public, and


the Chief Justice now severely reprimanded the Magistrate for

sentencing the men under an Act which had locally been

superseded by Ordinance 14 of 1845 and discharged the prisoners

forthwith. When, some time later, the Chief Justice complained

to the Governor that the Magistrates appeared to pass sentence

in cases which ought to have been remitted to the Supreme

Court, the two Magistrates commenced systematically to commit

for trial at the Supreme Court the most trivial offences. This

became so painfully evident during the criminal session of

February, 14th to 19th, 1847 , that the jurors addressed a formal

complaint to the Court of having their time wasted on cases

of petty larceny which ought to have been summarily dealt

with by the Magistrates. The Chief Justice agreed with them

and addressed the Government accordingly. During the same

sessions it was stated in evidence that the Police, who had

refused to protect a citizen against an assault by a soldier, had

been ordered by the Government not to interfere with soldiers,

and that a general order was read in barracks informing the

soldiers of the instructions given to the Police. The Chief

Justice, commenting adversely on this point, remarked that the

general order referred to was waste paper, as only an Act of

Parliament could exempt soldiers from being amenable to the

civil authorities. The Adjutant General thereupon wrote to

the papers denying that any such general order had been issued,

but the truth soon leaked out, viz . that , what the evidence

before the Court had referred to as a general order, was a

speech addressed to the regiment by the Major- General. After

this the relations between the Governor and the Chief Justice

became marked by personalities. On April 16, 1847 , the

Governor had an altercation with the Chief Justice, as the

former claimed the right to fix the sittings of the Vice - Admiralty

Court for any day he pleased, and as the latter claimed that

he should be addressed as His Lordship, which title the Governor

refused to allow. It was stated that the Governor had threatened

the Chief Justice with suspension . A lull now ensued, but on

November 22, 1847 , the Chief Justice was tried by the Executive


Council on certain charges of private misconduct which, it

appeared , Sir John Davis had detailed in a confidential com-

munication to Lord Palmerston . The latter, disregarding the

private character of the document, had sent it to the Colonial

Office, which forthwith ordered an Executive Council inquiry

into the charges as formulated in the Governor's original letter.

Major-General D'Aguilar, as Lieutenant-Governor , protested

indignantly against the whole inquiry. Two members of the

Council (Major Caine and Mr. Johnston) gave evidence in

support of the charges, but all the other witnesses exonerated

the Chief Justice. Nevertheless the Governor in Council

pronounced his suspension from office. The moment this became

known in town, the whole British community (apart from the

officials) called and left their cards at the Chief Justice's residence.

Once more, as in the registration days, a unanimous outcry

of indignation was raised against the Government . Three days

later, the local solicitors (N. D'E. Parker, R. Coley, W. Gaskell,

P. C. McSwyney, and E. Farncombe) presented to the Chief

Justice (November 25, 1847 ) an address denouncing the

Governor's action as an attack of enmity,' and a gold snuff-

box bearing the inscription indignante invidia florebit justus.

Later on (November 30, 1847 ) the community presented a

sympathizing address signed by 116 residents , and on December

2, 1847, all the special jurors addressed the Chief Justice ,

expressing their respect for his character and their sympathy

and regret with reference to his suspension and temporary

retirement. By this time the Governor had already sent in

his resignation and the dispatch accepting it (dated November

18, 1847 ) was then on its way. The news of the Governor's

resignation having been accepted served to blunt the edge of

popular excitement and the Colonial Office, which considered

the charges not proved, immediately removed the suspension

and reinstated the Chief Justice.

In his endeavours to improve the revenues of the Colony,

which naturally constitute one of the most anxious cares of a

Colonial Governor, Sir John Davis ran counter to the deepest


feelings and most inveterate principles of the mercantile

community. Whilst the mercantile community contended that

Hongkong was simply a depot for the neighbouring coasts, a

mere post for general influence and for the protection of the

general trade in the China Seas, benefitting Imperial rather

than local interests, and that therefore Great Britain ought

naturally to bear the greater share in the expenses of the Colonial

establishment, Sir John Davis acted on the assumption that

Hongkong was a Colony in the ordinary sense and should not only

bear the whole burden of its own civil government but contribute

also, as soon as possible, towards the military expenses of the

Empire. Whilst the merchants therefore still looked to free

trade principles to further the growth of Hongkong, Sir John

Davis thought only of license -fees, farms and monopolies .

Compromise or reconciliation was out of the question . Free

trade was officially derided, and protection gained the ascendancy .

On the day when Sir John announced his fatal intention of

extending registration to all the inhabitants of the Colony in

the interest of good order (July 24, 1844 ) , he declared also

his determination to establish a quarry farm , a salt farm and

an opium farm for the purpose of raising a revenue, and on

the day when he passed his obnoxious Martial Law Ordinance

(November 20, 1844 ) , he launched his first Revenue Ordinance

(No. 21 of 1844) by licensing the retail of salt and levying a

duty of 23 per cent . on all goods sold by auction. In connection

with these purposes he regulated also local weights and measures

(No. 22 of 1844 ) . The British community growled at the

auction duty (though on January 15 , 1845, it was decided to

remit it in certain cases) , derided the salt and opium farms,

and made fun of the tax imposed on marriage licenses, coupling

them with the new burial and tombstone fees (January 15,

1845). The quarry farm yielded (September 1 , 1845 ) only

£702. When the Governor ( February 23 and May 23, 1845 ) ,

proceeded to introduce police rates ( Ordinance 2 of 1845 )

and to ascertain the rateable value of all house property, the

merchants declared the ruin of Hongkong to be complete and


began to talk seditiously of united resistance. So great was

the popular excitement that the Governor became afraid and

announced his willingness to reduce the assessment made by

the two official valuators (Tarrant and Pope) by 40 per cent .

(July 14, 1845) . In spite of this concession the leading paper

of the Colony declared this tax to be a most tyrannical and

intolerable encroachment upon the rights of the inhabitants,

because passed by a Council in which the community was not

represented . However the Ordinance received Her Majesty's

consent (December 25 , 1845 ) , and the people soon learned to

submit to it gracefully . Not satisfied with the financial results of

these measures, Sir John added, by Ordinances 3 and 4 of 1845,

duties on the retail of tobacco and fermented liquors (July 7,

1845 ) . So great was his craving for monopolies that he persisted

in farming out the monopoly of fishing in Hongkong waters,

though it brought in only 17 shillings for the year 1845. His

great grief and trouble was the total absence of a custom house

establishment ' in the free port of Hongkong. He was decidedly

of opinion that, as most of the available spots for building

purposes had already been disposed of (thanks to the gambling

mania which his predecessor and himself had unconsciously

fostered) , no great expansion of the land revenue could be looked

for in the future . Consequently he turned his attention to

licenses and excise farms and among these he commended to

Her Majesty's Government the opium farm as being the most

productive source of revenue and one that should increase with

the progress of the place.'

When the Legislative Council passed the first Hongkong

Opium Ordinance (November 26, 1844), the Colonial Treasurer,

R. M. Martin, strongly protested against this Government

measure on the ground that private vice should not be made a

source of public revenue . Finding his protest disregarded , he

forthwith applied for leave of absence. When this application

was refused, he resigned his office and returned to England (July

12 , 1845 ) , where he thenceforth laboured , with a pen dipped in

gall, to prove that Hongkong, whose majestic peak he compared


with a decayed Stilton cheese and whose charming surroundings

he likened to the back of a negro streaked with leprosy, was an

utter failure, and that the Colony ought to be removed to Chusan.

The exclusive privilege of selling opium in quantities less

than a chest for consumption in the Colony, was put up to

auction ( February 20 , 1844) , and notwithstanding the machina-

tions of a ring of Chinese opium dealers, purchased by an

Englishman ( G. Duddell) at a monthly rental of $720 . But

the purchaser soon found himself outwitted by the Chinese

who, taking advantage of the loose wording of the Ordinance,

openly retailed opium in the Colony for exportation ' and gained

the protection of the Court in doing so. The faulty Ordinance

was thereupon amended (July 12, 1845 ) and the opium farm

put up to auction again (August 1 , 1845 ) when it was bought

by a Chinese syndicate for $ 1,710 a month. Next year, a

re-sale having been offered (May 24, 1846 ), further powers

were demanded by the farmers ; the monopoly was once more

offered for sale (June 30 , 1846 ) , but no bids were made to

obtain further concessions. At last the farm was sold (July 2,

1846 ) at the reduced rate of $ 1,560 a month . However, it soon

became apparent that the powers extorted by the farmers, who

employed constables and even an armed cruizer for the protection

of their revenue, seriously interfered with the legitimate junk

trade and the freedom of the port. Even the Chinese themselves

petitioned the Governor (January 27 , 1847 ) for the abolition

of the opium monopoly. The Governor hesitated and substituted

licences for this troublesome opium farm ( August 1 , 1847)

after it had yielded £ 4,118 in 1846 , and £ 3,183 in 1847. It

is remarkable that this first experiment in opinm farming at

once brought to the surface the evils which ever afterwards

characterized the system in Hongkong, viz. unscrupulous

circumvention of the law, organized withholding of a just rental

and vexatious interference with the native trade and with the

freedom of the port.

The revenues of the Colony improved considerably under

the Governor's assiduous care. By enforcing the recovery of


arrears of rent on land and buildings, the income of the Colony

was raised, at a bound, from £9,534 in 1844 , to £ 22,242 in 1845 .

The opium farm caused the revenue of 1846 to mount up to

£ 27,842 and by charging higher fees on boat registry (Ordinance

7 of 1846 ) the revenue of 1847 came to £31,078 . On the

other hand the attention paid to public works caused the

expenditure to rise, from £ 49,901 in 1845 , to £ 66,726 in 1846 .

But it was reduced again in 1847 to £50,959 .

What assisted the Governor in his efforts to improve the

finances of the Colony, in spite of the fearful odds that were

against him, was the fact that, though the foreign trade was

stagnating, the native junk trade held its own, and that the

population of the Colony, though decimated by removals to

the Treaty ports of China, remained for several years wonderfully

steady. During the three years from 1845 to 1847 , the

population numbered respectively 23,748 , 22,453, and 23,872

souls. In the year 1848, the population was indeed reduced

to 21,514 persons. But the Governor attributed this decrease,

not to the alleged decay of local commerce, but to a more careful

registration which, while giving a truer account of the actual

number, relieved the Colony from those who hung loose on

and only applied for registration tickets to make a bad use

of them .'

In his efforts to repress crime. Sir J. Davis found himself

handicapped, like every successive Governor of Hongkong, by the

continuous influx of criminals from the neighbouring mainland

of China, by the untrustworthiness and inactivity of native

constables, by the dissolute character of European sailors or

soldiers enlisted in the local Police Force, who were ignorant

of the native language and consequently dependent on truculent

native interpreters, by the costliness of importing trained British

constables, and finally by the inherent inapplicability to Asiatics

of British laws and British modes of punishment. Sir J. Davis

was, however, fortunate in obtaining ( September 6, 1844) , from

London, the services of an Inspector of the Metropolitan Police,

Ch. May, who did the best possible with the imperfect material


supplied to him and reorganized the Police Force of Hongkong

on the model of the Irish Constabulary with due adaptations to

local circumstances . With the aim of suppressing the system

of private night- watchmen, kept by every European house-owner

on the model of the old practice in vogue in the Canton and

Macao days, Major-General D'Aguilar (acting as Lieutenant-

Governor in the temporary absence of Sir J. Davis ) passed


(September 11 , 1844 ) the unpopular Bamboo Ordinance '

(17 of 1844) prohibiting the use of the bamboo-drums by which

those watchmen used to make night hideous in order to prove

(not merely to their employers as the Ordinance alleged) that

they were on the alert . But whilst securing by this premature

measure the peace and quiet of the town during the night, he

rather encouraged, in the absence of an efficient Police Force,

nightly depredations by native burglars.

Highway robberies and burglaries continued to be of almost

daily occurrence . Government House was once more robbed

(July 16, 1844) and some of the Governor's valuables carried

off. No house in the Colony was safe without armed watchmen

and no one ventured out after dark except revolver in hand.

The Police Magistrate issued (August 25 , 1846 ) a notice warning

residents not to go beyond the limits of the town singly nor

even in parties unless armed .' In 1847 European householders

were ordered to supplement the imperfect street - lighting system

by suspending lamps before the doors of their houses. The

Police Force possessed as yet neither the training nor the moral

tone that would have inspired the community with confidence

and prevented collusion between native constables and criminals.

As to the latter it seemed as if English law, though ever so

severely administered, was unable to provide penalties sufficiently

deterrent. Flogging was indeed resorted to very freely and

even for comparatively shadowy offences such as vagrancy. The

House of Commons occupied itself, rather needlessly, with this

point (in autumn, 1846 ) at the motion of Dr. Bowring, the

Member for Bolton, who drew the attention of the Ministry

to the allegation that 54 natives had been flogged in Hongkong


in one day for not having tickets of registration. The

consequence was that the criminals of Hongkong had an easier

time for a few months, as public flogging was suspended from

January 23 to May 8, 1847 .

The most predominant form of crime at this period was

piracy. The whole coast- line of the Canton and Fohkien

provinces was virtually under the control of a piratical

confederacy under the leadership of Cheung Shap-ng-tsai and

Chui A-pou, to whom trading and fishing junks had to pay

regular black-mail. The waters of the Colony swarmed with

pirates, and Hongkong -registered junks were, on escaping the

pirates and entering the Canton River, subjected to all sorts

of lawless plunderings on the part of the crews of the gunboats

under the orders of the Canton revenue farmers. Hence

the peaceful trading junk of this period had to sail heavily

armed, so much so that there was frequently nothing but

the cargo to distinguish a trading junk from a pirate. The

worst feature of the case was the fact that lawless European

seamen occasionally enlisted in the service of the native pirates

and that the leaders of piratical facets made Hongkong their

headquarters, where native marine-storekeepers not only supplied

them with arms and ammunition and disposed of their booty ,

but furnished them also, through well-paid spies in mercantile

offices and Government departments, with information as to the

shipments of valuable cargo and particularly as to the movements

of the Police and of British gunboats. A Colonial gunboat,

manned by the Police, was procured (June 5, 1846 ) to cruize

in the waters of the Colony and did some little service until

the vessel was wrecked (September 1 , 1848 ) . Deportation of

convicted criminals inspired the Chinese with no terror, as it

offered innumerable chances of eventual escape. The last convict

ship of this period , the General Wood,' which sailed for Penang

on January 2 , 1848 , was piratically taken possession of by

the convicts most of whom made good their escape.

The European commerce of the Colony appearel to decline

or to stagnate during this administration . The trade in Indian


opium, driven away from Hongkong by the measures of Sir

H. Pottinger, was for some time conducted at Whampoa and,

on being forced away thence, by a crusade instituted through

the Canton Consuls at the instance of the Canton monopolists of

the sulphur trade, took refuge at Kapsingmoon near Macao. The

Kapsingmoon anchorage being unsafe during the N.E. monsoon ,

the Hongkong merchants were hoping to procure the return

of the trade to their port, when the establishment of an opium

farm by Sir J. Davis frustrated their design . Arrangements

had been made by some merchants to introduce silk- weaving

establishments into the Colony, but the scheme was abandoned

in despair when it became apparent that the Governor, with

his passion for fiscal exactions, would certainly tax the looms.

Competition and trade rivalries, between the merchants estab-

lished in the Treaty ports of China and those who remained

at Hongkong, became intensified by bitter feelings of jealousy .

It was publicly stated (August 1 , 1846) that Canton merchants

had been for some time instructing their correspondents in

England to stipulate that vessels by which they shipped goods for

the different Treaty ports of China should first come to Whampoa

and there discharge goods for Canton before proceeding to

Hongkong. In retaliation for this measure, and in their despair

at seeing free trade principles overwhelmed by a flood of

Government monopolies, Hongkong merchants now broke faith

with the established free trade creed of their predecessors and

began themselves to look out for protectionist measures to

re-establish the decaying commerce of the Colony. Free trade

was now looked upon as a bright dream of the past, and it

was seriously proposed to agitate, as Captain Elliot had done

in June 1841 , for an Act of Parliament declaring that for

ten years all teas shipped at Hongkong would be protected in

Great Britain by a differential duty of one penny per pound

on congous and twopence on the finer sorts . This scheme was

urged upon the Secretary of State by Hongkong merchants

residing in London, and several letters appeared in the Times

(December 9 and 24, 1846 ) alvocating the imposition of a


differential duty of twopence farthing on all teas shipped at

Hongkong. The sinister expectation of the promoters of this

measure avowedly was that the death-blow would be struck

to the trade of Canton ' (and Foochow). Of course this

fratricidal plan of reviving the commerce of Hongkong by

killing that of Canton (or any other Treaty port ) had no chance

of even a hearing in a Parliament the previously divided counsels

of which had just converged towards the adoption , from a

conscientious recognition of economic truths, of positive free

trade principles by the abrogation of the corn laws (June 25 ,

1846 ) . Lord Stanley emphatically refused (September 4, 1846 )

to entertain the proposal of a differential duty. As a last refuge,

the community addressed (February 27 , 1848 ) a Memorial to

Earl Grey praying for a reduction or abolition of the land rent .

They were informed in reply (July 17 , 1848 ) that Earl Grey

was willing to extend the terms of the leases or even to grant

them in perpetuity.

The fact of a serious decline having overtaken the European

commerce of Hongkong gradually forced itself upon public

recognition and was interpreted by extremists to involve the

Colony in absolute ruin. On August 13, 1845 , all the leading

British firms (31 in number) memorialized Lord Stanley on

the subject. Sir J. Davis viewed their statements as gross

exaggerations and replied by a series of arguments propounded

by the Acting Colonial Secretary (W. Caine) . Thereupon a

deputation ( A. Matheson, G. T. Braine, Gilbert Smith , and

Crawford Kerr) presented ( August 29 , 1845 ) a second Memorial,


in the course of which they stated that Hongkong has no

trade at all and is the mere place of residence of Government

and its officers with a few British merchants and a very scanty

and poor population . ' The Governor remained unconvinced,

and later on (January 6, 1846 ) published an exhaustive trade

report from the pen of Dr. Gützlaff, intended to refute the

allegations of the local merchants, who, however, disputed the

correctness of Dr. Gützlaff's statistics . This official report

contains a rather remarkable admission of the failure of Sir



H. Pottinger's commercial policy, in stating that in spite of

the discouragement afforded by the Supplementary Treaty, the

Chinese trade appears to be rather on the increase . ' The dispute

was continued in the home papers and on April 6 , 1846, the

Times gave expression to the melancholy views of the European

community in the following words. Hongkong has quite lost

caste as a place for mercantile operations. Many of the

merchants have already abandoned the Island. Since the

beginning of the present year two firms have given up their

establishments, two more of old standing have expressed their

determination to quit the Colony, and two others are hesitating

about following their example or at most of leaving a clerk

in possession to forward goods or letters . ' The climax was

reached when an American contributor to the Economist (August

8, 1846) incisively declared that Hongkong is nothing now

but a depot for a few opium smugglers, soldiers, officers and men-

of-war's men.' These sensational statements, however, represented

merely the feelings of disappointment aroused by a natural but

unusually prolonged period of depression consequent upon

previous unnatural inflation . While friends and foes of the

Colony debated the extent and causes of its rain, Hongkong

itself stood smiling like Patience on a monument bearing the


bold legend Resurgam.

As regards the native trade of Hongkong, there were

distinct signs visible in 1846 of a speedy revival. Junks from

Pakhoi, Hoihow and Tinpak, in the south-west, commenced

in 1846 a prosperous trade with Hongkong. The fact that the

Chinese Mandarins dared not, or on account of the piratical

fleets could not, stop this trade, combined with the rising faith

in the power of Great Britain, produced by the repeated

humiliations which Sir J. Davis had inflicted on Kiying, now

gave currency to the belief that Chinese merchants residing in

Hongkong need not confine their operations (by means of native

junks) to the Treaty ports of China. Thenceforth Chinese

subjects established in the Colony rejoiced in, and commercially

took all the advantages of, the double status of residing under ›


British rule and protection without forfeiting their privileges

as natives of China. Canton native merchants now took to

visiting the auction rooms of Hongkong and began, for fear

of pirates, to charter small European sailing vessels (mostly

German or Danish) for the carrying on of their own coasting

trade with the Treaty ports on the east coast. Fleets of Chinese

trading junks also occasionally engaged small English steamers

to convoy them as a protection against, pirates. Thus the

reviving native trade reacted as a fillip upon the stagnating

European commerce of the Colony.

Communication with Canton was at this period a source

of much trouble to British merchants. Endeavours which had

been made, by Mr. Donald Matheson in 1845 and by Mr. A.

Campbell in 1847, to persuade the directors of the Peninsular

and Oriental Steam Navigation Company to connect their

monthly mail steamers to Hongkong by a branch line with

Canton, failed to have any effect till the close of the year 1848 ,

when it was too late. Meanwhile some sixty merchants had

made an arrangement with the owners of the S.S. Corsair to

carry their mails to Canton for a monthly subsidy of £ 150.

In 1847 the Postmaster insisted on the steamer's carrying 6 and

delivering Post Office letters for Canton at twopence each .

When the captain of the Corsair refused to deliver the letters

to the addressees on the ground that there was no Post Office

in Canton , Sir J. Davis ordered legal proceedings to be instituted ,

which resulted (February 23, 1847 ) in the infliction of a fine of

£ 100 . Although the verdict (based on an Imperial Act ) was

accompanied by a recommendation that the fine be remitted , the

Governor declined to exercise his prerogative in the case. The

British community, feeling themselves once more sorely aggrieved,

addressed their complaints to the Postmaster General in London,

and resolved to help themselves by establishing a Hongkong

and Canton Steamboat Company as a joint-stock enterprise.

Sir J. Davis boldly attempted to reform the currency of

the Colony without consulting the mercantile community. Sir

H. Pottinger had, as mentioned above, fixed the value of the East


India Company's rupees in relation to dollars and cash (March

29, 1842 ) and declared the dollar to be the standard medium

in commercial transactions unless it were otherwise specified

(April 27 , 1842 ) . Sir J. Davis now issued a proclamation (May

1 , 1845 ) which cancelled the foregoing proclamations and

ordained that the following coins should thenceforth constitute

a legal tender of payment in Hongkong, viz. ( 1 ) the gold, silver

and copper coins of the United Kingdom, ( 2 ) gold mohur at

298. 2d., (3 ) Spanish, Mexican or South-American dollars at

48. 2d., (4) rupees at 18. 10d. , (5) cash at the rate of 280 cash

to one shilling. This attempt to establish a uniform gold

standard in Hongkong was received by the community with

blank astonishment. But it did not affect trade in any way,

because there was no demand for gold, whilst silver, coined and

uncoined, passed current in the Colony by weight. Consequently

Indian and British silver coins were, irrespective of their Sterling

value, taken weight for weight with old chopped dollars. But

the proclamation did affect official salaries and payments to

Government. An attempt was also made in 1846 to introduce

a sufficient quantity of British coins to compete with Mexican

and Spanish dollars . At the close of the year, the Deputy-

Commissary General presented to the Governor a very favourable

report on the British coin sent out by the Treasury. He

stated that it had proved extremely useful for small payments,

that even the Chinese brought dollars to be exchanged for

Sterling, and that he had applied for more to be sent out to

the amount of £ 10,000 . Subsequent experience, however,

contradicted the hopes entertained as to the success of a British .

currency in China and the dollar continued to reign supreme.

Among the more hopeful symptoms of local commerce at

this period may be mentioned the establishment (in April, 1845 )

of a branch of the Oriental Bank Corporation, which put in

circulation in 1847 , though as yet unchartered, over $56,000

worth of bank-notes, to the great relief of local trade. The

appointment of three Consular officers is another noteworthy

feature. Mr. F. T. Bush acted (since November 12 , 1845 ) as


Consul for the United States, Mr. J. Burd (since March 11

1847 ) as Consul for Denmark, and Mr. F. J. de Paiva (since

March 12 , 1847 ) as Consul for Portugal.

In the interest of sanitation, an Ordinance was passed (De-

· cember 26 , 1845 ) enforcing a modicum of order and cleanliness .

The deadly Wongnaichung Valley (Happy Valley) was drained

(April 23, 1845 ) and the cultivation of rice there forbidden.

Otherwise sanitation and cleanliness were left to take care of

themselves. The period of Sir J. Davis' administration stands

out, however, very favourably so far as mortality returns are

concerned. The Colonial Surgeon, Dr. W. Morrison, who

succeeded Dr. Peter Young on November 15, 1847, gave the

death rate of the whole population in 1847 as 114 per cent .

and that of the Europeans alone (June 1 , 1847 , to May 31 , 1848)

at 565 per cent., not including deaths from accidents which

brought up the mortality of Europeans to 6.25 per cent .

Compared with 1843 , when the return gave the European

mortality as 22.00 per cent . , this was of course a great

improvement . Fever was the most fatal malady in 1844 and

dysentery in 1845. Among the European troops the improvement

was, thanks to the new Barracks and Hospitals, the erection

of which General D'Aguilar ordered on his own responsibility,

even more striking . In 1843 the death rate among European

soldiers was 22:20 and in 1845 it was 13.25 per cent. In the

year 1845 the rate fell to 8:50 and in 1847 to 4.00 per cent .

Strange to say, the Indian troops suffered during this period

more than the Europeans. In 1847 the deaths among the

Madras sepoys amounted to 9-25 per cent. It may be mentioned ,

in this connection, that on March 8, 1848 , the first surgical

operation performed in Hongkong with the use of chloroform

(by Dr. Harland of the Seamen's Hospital) was reported as

a great novelty.

Sir J. Davis was the first Governor of Hongkong that took

a lively interest in the promotion of both religion and education.

To promote the better observance of Sunday, he issued (June 28 ,

1844) a notification ordering strict observation of a Sunday


rest to be included in all contracts for public works . This

regulation, enforcing entire cessation of labour on Sundays so-

far as the Public Works Department was concerned, received

the full approval of the Colonial Office (October 8 , 1844 ) . Sir

John was also supposed to be engaged in wringing from an

unwilling Home Government their consent to the early erection of

the Colonial Church. Yet building operations were unaccountably

delayed from October, 1843, to October, 1846. Great was,

therefore, the indignation felt in Hongkong when it became

known, through a private letter of Mr. Gladstone (of June 27 ,

1846 ) , that the cause of the delay in the erection of a suitable

Church at Hongkong has been the want of any estimate

transmitted from the Colony, for without this preliminary step

the Treasury will not grant the public money.' It was not

till March 11 , 1847 , that, as stated in a pompous Latin

inscription on a brass plate inserted in the foundation stone,

6 The corner stone of this Church, dedicated to St. John the

Evangelist, and destined for the worship of Almighty God,

was laid by Lord J. F. Davis, Baronet, a Legate of the British

Queen in China and bedecked with proconsular dignity, on the

fifth day of the Ides of March in the tenth year of Queen

Victoria, A.D. 1847.' At a meeting of contributors to the

Colonial Church fund (April 12, 1847) an additional subscription

was raised bringing up the fund to £ 1.888 and Government

now doubled this sum . Two Trustees (Wilkinson Dent and

T. D. Neave) were elected by the subscribers , and four others by

the Government. During the progress of the building, services

were held at the present Court House opposite the Club. A

Union Chapel, in connection with the London Mission, and

intended for services in the English and Chinese languages,

was built in the present Hollywood Road, in spring 1845, by

means of a public subscription raised ( September 9, 1844) by Dr.

Legge . In 1847 and 1848 meetings for Presbyterian worship

were held every Sunday in a bungalow immediately behind the

present Club House. A mortuary chapel was erected, in 1845 ,

in the new cemetery in the Happy Valley.


In addition to the three Anglo-Chinese Schools (the Morrison

Institution on Morrison Hill , the Anglo-Chinese College of the

London Mission and St. Paul's College ) started under the

preceding administration, a number of smaller Schools was


established under the fostering care of Sir J. Davis . An English

Children's School ' was opened, in 1845 , by the Colonial Chaplain

(V. Stanton) , and in emulation of it the Propaganda Society

started at once a similar School for Roman Catholic children,

which was, however, discontinued in 1847. For the benefit

of the Chinese population , which had at this period nine

Confucian Schools at work, the Governor devised, early in 1847 ,

in imitation of the English religious education grants then hotly

discussed in Parliament, a Government Grant -in- Aid Scheme

to provide non-compulsory religious education in Chinese Schools

under the direction of an Educational Committee (gazetted on

December 6 , 1847 ) , consisting of the Police Magistrate, the

Colonial Chaplain and the Registrar General. That Sir J. Davis

was to some extent a religious visionary, may be inferred from

a dispatch (March 13, 1847 ) in which he commended his scheme

to the Colonial Office by saying that, If these Schools were

eventually placed in charge of native Christian teachers, bred

up by the Protestant Missionaries, it would afford the most

rational prospect of converting the native population of the

Island.' Sancta simplicitas!

The social and general progress of the Colony during this

period centered principally in the year 1845. The erection in

1844 of the Seamen's Hospital (September 30 , 1844) and the

formation of an Amateur Dramatic Corps (December 18, 1844)

were succeeded by the following events of the fruitful year

1845, viz . the first issue of the China Mail newspaper ( February

20 ) , the completion of a carriage road round the Happy Valley

(March 1 ) , establishment of an Ice House Company (April 17) ,

building of a Picnic House at Little Hongkong ( April 26) ,

establishment of a Medico- Chirurgical Society ( May 13 ),

organisation of Freemasonry and starting of Zetland Lodge

(June 18 and December 8 ) , commencement of a monthly line


of mail steamers by the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation

Company (August 1 ) and completion of a temporary Government

House (November 1 ) . The Hongkong Club, also planned in

1845. was opened on May 26 , 1846, in a stately building erected,

opposite the new Court House, at a cost of £ 15,000 by

G. Strachan with funds provided by shareholders who appointed

a Board of Trustees as a Standing Committee of the Club.

Resident members were to be admitted by ballot and required

to pay an entrance fee ($30) and a monthly subscription ($4) .

A fund for the relief of sick and destitute foreigners was

established by a public meeting (July 13 , 1846 ) which passed

the remarkable resolution that the term foreigner shall include

natives of every country except China. ' This public sanction

of the local use of the word foreigner was dictated by common

sense yielding to the force of a usage which dated from the time

when Englishmen were residing, as foreigners, in Canton aud

Macao. At a meeting of the above-mentioned Medical Society

(January 5 , 1847 ) , it was proposed to establish a Philosophical

Society for China, and this proposal resulted in the organisation

(January 15, 1847 ) of a China Branch of the Royal Asiatic

Society in Hongkong, under the presidency of Sir J. Davis. A

public subscription was started (May 24, 1847 ) for the relief

of destitution in Ireland and Scotland and realised £ 1,000 .

At the close of the year 1846 and throughout the early

part of the following year, dissensions were rife among the officers

and civil employees of the garrison . Court-martials were frequent

and differences arose even between the officers constituting the

Court and Major-General D'Aguilar. Local society, centering

still in the grandees of the mercantile community, took a lively

interest in the matter adverse to the General, who, as he resented

the criticisms of civilians, was at this time as much detested

by the community as the Governor himself. But the animosities

thus aroused speedily died away. Before the close of the year

the breach was healed . The ceremony of presenting new colours

to the 95th Regiment (February 17, 1848) , on which occasion

the General's successor, Major- General Staveley, took over the


command of the garrison, was a sort of public festival of

reconciliation in which the leading merchants took an active

part by presenting to General D'Aguilar a laudatory address

of farewell. Next week the community enthusiastically took

the General to its bosom again, by a stately banquet given

in his honour ( February 24, 1848 ) . The day before the great

reconciliation scene, the leading merchants presented also a public

address to the Senior Naval Officer, Captain MacQuhae, on his

departure from the station. What gave a piquant zest to these

demonstrations of popular affection for the departing commanding

officers of the Army and Navy, was the underlying thought of

the difference with which the Governor's impending departure

was to be treated by the community.

When the time came for Sir J. Davis to embark (March 30 ,

1848 ) on his homeward voyage, the community, with stolid

apathy, watched from a distance the salutes fired, the faint

cheer of a few devoted friends, the yards manned by the mail

steamer. But there was no public address, no banquet, no

popular farewell . The leading paper of the Colony gave voice


to the feelings of the public by stating that Sir John was

not only unpopular from his official acts but unfit for a Colonial

Government by his personal demeanour and disposition , ' and ,

with sarcastic allusion to the Governor's fondness for the Latin

tongue, closed its valedictory oration with this canstic farewell,


Exi, mi fili, et vile quam minima sapientia mundus hic regitur ' !

Conscious, no doubt, of having manfully and patiently done

his duty, according to his lights, by his God and his country,

and viewing the mercantile community as blinded by prejudice

and passion, Sir J. Davis could well afford to smile at all this

badinage. But he had suffered the mortification, nearly a year

before his return to England, of seeing the whole of his

administrative policy inquired into, held up to the public

gaze, and solemnly condemned by higher authorities than the

Hongkong merchants.

A Parliamentary Committee was appointed (in March, 1847)

to inquire into British commercial relations with China. Mr.


R. M. Martin , of course, came once more to the front.

According to him, Sir J. Davis erred, first, in raising undue

expectations of the future of Hongkong by assuring Her

Majesty's Government that Hongkong would be the Carthage

of the East, that its population would equal that of ancient

Rome, and that commercially Hongkong would ultimately

supersede Canton . He further erred , according to Mr. Martin,

in that he, having raised such expectations, endeavoured by

measures forced upon the Colony to fulfil his predictions.


The constant endeavour to realize those expectations led to

a continued system of taxation , an unfortunate desire for

legislation, and an unnecessarily expensive system of government.

This produced irritation on the part of the merchants who,

smarting under their losses, felt more irritable at every

transaction ; and thus there has been produced an unfortunate

state of feeling between the community and the Governor .'

Mr. Martin thought that Sir J. Davis would have exercised

a sound discretion if he had represented to Her Majesty's

Government that it was not possible to raise a revenue without

diminishing the commerce or injuring the merchants in their

endeavours to make the place more available for trade.

But a more seriou and weig

s hty condemnation of the

policy maintained by Sir J. Davis , is contained in the evidence

given before that Select Committee of the House of Commons

and particularly in the final report of the Committee . Whilst

Mr. Martin's criticisms , particularly as embodied in his famous

report of July 24, 1844 , were too sweeping to carry conviction

and have in part been contradicted by the events of history ,

the evidence given by Mr. A. Matheson , whilst freely exposing

the evil results of Sir J. Davis ' policy , bore the stamp of a

mature and sober judgment , and contained , moreover, a prophecy

which history has fulfilled . The whole of the British merchants ,'

said Mr. A. Matheson ( May 4, 1847 ) , ' would abandon Hongkong ,

were it not for the very large sums they had sunk in buildings

in the early days of the Colony and which they were reluctant

to abandon , though I believe doing so would have been the


wisest course and will certainly be the course adopted unless

under a change of policy the prosperity of the place revives.

Let perpetual leases be granted at a moderate ground

rent (say £20 or so for a sea frontage lot and £ 2 for a suburban

lot) and let the revenue thus levied be applied exclusively to-

the maintenance of an efficient Police Force, leaving the other

expenses to be borne by the nation, and I feel convinced that

in the course of a few years Hongkong will take a new turn

and become one of our most flourishing as well as valuable


The final report of this Parliamentary Committee, though

not mentioning Sir J. Davis, and aiming at reform rather than

criticism, condemned his administrative policy in toto. 'In

addition to natural and necessary disadvantages, Hongkong

appears to have laboured under others, created by a system

of monopolies and farms and petty regulations peculiarly

unsuited to its position and prejudicial to its progress . These

seem to have arisen partly from an attempt to struggle with

the difficulties of establishing order and security in the midst

of the vagabond and piratical population which frequent its

waters and infest its coasts ; and partly from a desire to raise

a revenue in the Island in some degree adequate to the

maintenance of its civil Government. To this latter object ,

however, we think it unwise to sacrifice the real interests of

the settlement , which can only prosper under the greatest

amount of freedom of intercourse and traffic which is consistent

with the engagements of treaties and internal order ; nor do

we think it right that the burden of maintaining that which

is rather a post for general influence and the protection of the-

general trade in the China Seas than a colony in the ordinary

sense, should be thrown in any great degree on the merchants

or other persons who may be resident upon it. To the revision

of the whole system we would call the early attention of the

Government, as well as to that of the establishment of the

Settlement which we cannot but think has been placed on a

footing of needless expense .' The Committee finally pressed


upon the Government the acceptance of the following positive

recommendations, viz . ( 1 ) that regular post-office communication

by steamboats be established from Hongkong to Canton and

northern ports ; (2) that the dependence of the Governor on

both the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office be simplified ;

(3) that a short Code of Law be substituted for the present

system of general references to the laws of England ; (4) that

draft ordinances and regulations be published for three or six

months before they are enacted ; (5 ) that a share in the

administration of the ordinary and local affairs of the Island

be given, by some system of municipal government , to the

British residents ; and ( 6 ) that facilities be given in Hongkong

for the acquisition of the Chinese language and encouragement

to Schools for the Chinese.

No one ever discerned with greater clearness Hongkong's true

path to higher destinies, than this Parliamentary Committee.

After his retirement from the Governorship of Hongkong,

Sir John Davis was honoured by being appointed a Deputy-

Lieutenant of Gloucestershire (in 1852 ) , a Knight Commander

of the Order of the Bath (June 14, 1854) , and a Doctor of

Civil Law of Oxford (June 21 , 1876 ) . He died on November

13, 1890 , in his ninety-sixth year, full of days and ripe for




March 20, 1848, to April 12, 1854.

ZOR some months before the departure of Sir J. Davis, the

European community of Hongkong looked forward to

the arrival of a new Governor in the hope that he would abandon

the trade restraining system of monopolies, and revive the waning

fortunes of the Colony by carrying into effect the recommen-

dations of the Parliamentary Committee of 1847. At the same

time the Home Authorities, casting about for a successor to

Sir J. Davis, found it difficult to determine what sort of man

would be suitable for such a trying office, the more so as public

opinion in England had it that an angel for a Governor would

fail to give satisfaction in Hongkong. The choice of Her

Majesty's Government fell eventually on Sir Samuel George

Bonham, C.B. He had been brought up in the service of the

East India Company which, owing to the variety of duties-

financial, judicial and executive -generally thrown upon its higher

officers, was considered an excellent training school for a difficult

governorship. Sir George Bonham had served under the Colonial

Office for nearly ten years ( 1833 to 1842 ) as Governor of Prince

of Wales Island (now included in Queensland) , Singapore and

Malacca and had given great satisfaction. Lord Palmerston

subsequently stated that Sir George's practical common sense

was the chief cause of his appointment to the governorship of


On landing at Hongkong (March 20 , 1848 ) , Sir G. Bonham

was received by the leaders of the community with a hearty cheer.

Next day he took with due solemnity the customary oaths on

assuming his double office of Chief-Superintendent of Trade and


H. M. Plenipotentiary in China, and as Governor and Comman-

der-in-chief of the Colony of Hongkong and its Dependencies

and Vice-Admiral of the same. His commissions and letters

patent were published at the same time (March 21 , 1848 ) .

Mr. (subsequently Sir) Thomas F. Wade, who had been for

some time Student- Interpreter under Dr. Gützlaff, in the

Secretariate of the Superintendency of Trade, and had acted

latterly also as Assistant-Interpreter in the Supreme Court,

was appointed Private Secretary to the Governor ( April 8 ,

1848 ) , and acted thenceforth as the Governor's adviser in all

Chinese matters.

Like his predecessors , Sir G. Bonham had to leave Hongkong

-occasionally, on tours of inspection, to visit the Consular Stations

in China, and on several occasions his diplomatic duties as

H. M. Plenipotentiary took him likewise away for brief intervals

to Macao, Canton or Shanghai . In March, 1852 , he left on

twelve mouths ' leave to recruit health by a visit to England

(on which occasion the community presented him with a

laudatory farewell address) but was back again at his post in

February, 1853. On all these occasions Sir George had either

Major-General Staveley, C.B. (till February 25, 1851 ) or Major-

General Jervois, K.G. (from February, 1851 , to April, 1854) to

act as Lieutenant-Governors in his place, and both of them gave

general satisfaction by maintaining Sir George's policy during his

absence. Major- General Jervois particularly endeared himself

to the hearts of all residents by his invariable urbanity and

cordial hospitality which effectively promoted good feeling in

Hongkong's limited society, as much as by the even tenor of

the way in which he conducted the affairs of the Colony. When

he left Hongkong, the community presented him (April 7 , 1854)

with an address testifying to the great respect and esteem in

which he was held . During Sir G. Bonham's absence in 1852.

Dr. Bowring, then H.M. Consul in Canton , came down (April

14, 1852 ) as Sir George's locum tenens in the Superintendency of

Trade and resided at Government House (until February 16,

1853 ) , confining himself, however, strictly to his diplomatic and


consular duties, while Major-General Jervois administered the

government of the Colony as Lieutenant-Governor.

Throughout the six years of his tenure of office, Sir G.

Bonham maintained friendly relations with the successive Gover-

nors of Macao, J. M. F. d'Amiral (until August 22 , 1849 ) , P. A.

da Cunha (since May 27 , 1850) , S. Cardazo (since January 21 ,

1851 ) , and T. F. Guimaraes ( since November 18 , 1851 ) . Nor

were these amicable relations interrupted even by that plucky

but hasty action of the Senior British Naval Officer, Captain

H. Keppel, who (June 7 , 1849 ) landed at Macao, with Captain

Troubridge and 115 men of H.M.S. Maeander, and rescued from

the Portuguese gaol-guard a British prisoner by an act of force

which unfortunately involved the death of one Portuguese soldier

and the wounding of two others. The prisoner was Mr. J.

Summers, preceptor of St. Paul's College, who had been lodged ,

with unreasonable harshness, in the common jail at Macao for

not taking off his hat at the passing of the Corpus Christi

procession. When Captain Keppel applied for the prisoner's

immediate rendition, Governor Amiral curtly refused it because

the gallant Captain declined to ask for it as a personal favour.

Captain Keppel fancied that his forcible interference would be

held justifiable on the ground of the above-mentioned Hongkong

Ordinance, which included Macao in the dominions of the

Emperor of China. As Governor Bonham, however, took a

different view of the case, and induced the British Admiralty to

grant substantial compensation for the injuries inflicted, the

relations between the Governors of the two Colonies continued

unimpaired . Great troubles came over that unfortunate settle-

ment at Macao in connection with the anti-Chinese policy and

consequent murder of Governor Amiral (August 22 , 1849 ) by

hired Chinese assassins, and by the equally sudden death through

cholera (not poison) of his successor, Commodore da Cunha

(July 6 , 1850) . The latter had just arrived from Europe

with two frigates, demanding of the Chinese Government, as

compensation for the assassination of Governor Amiral, a

recognition of the perfect independence of Macao. As the


Chinese Authorities stubbornly resisted these claims , and not-

only incited the Chinese residents of Macao to acts of treason ,

but commenced measures of hostility, many European and

Chinese merchants, and even Portuguese families, removed from

Macao and settled on the safer shores of Hongkong.

Sir G. Bonham found the Chinese Government as oblivious

of Treaty obligations and as uncompromisingly hostile to the

essential aims of British commercial policy as ever. The retro-

grade policy of the Emperor Taokwang and his successor (since

February 25, 1849 ) Hien-fung had been demonstrated by the

degradation of every Mandarin that had had anything to do with

the Pottinger Treaties . No one was now in favour at Peking who

did not distinguish himself by marked anti-foreign proclivities.

The Imperial Commissioner Seu Kwang-tsin, the successor of

Kiying at Canton, persistently sought to undermine the position

granted by the Nanking Treaty by bringing foreign trade under

the old restrictions of the time of the East India Company. For

this purpose he set to work quietly to force one after the other

of the main staples of foreign trade into the hands of responsible

Chinese monopolists. A United States Commissioner, J. W. Davis,

plied Seu (November 6 , 1848 ) with the suavest blandishments

of cute diplomacy but met only with discourtesy and blunt

refusals to listen to any reasoning whatever. When Governor

Bonham succeeded in wringing from Seu a reluctant consent

to an interview ( February 17 , 1849 ) on board H.M.S. Hastings

near the Bogue, Seu behaved with studied sulkiness, evaded

all serious discussion of the burning question of the promised

opening of Canton city, and declined even the customary

refreshments. He knew that Sir George was not in a position

to enforce the fulfilment of the promise which Sir J. Davis had

forcibly extorted from Kiying to grant foreign merchants, from

after April 6 , 1849 , the right of entering Canton city. When

Sir G. Bonham in repeated dispatches insisted upon the

immediate opening of Canton city, Seu fell back upon Kiying's

tactics of postponing action on the ground that at the present

time it would provoke popular disturbances. Fortified by an


Imperial Edict he finally declared ( March 31 , 1849 ) the opening

of Canton city impossible because the Chinese Government

cannot thwart the inclinations of its people.' Sir George's

practical common sense forbade, under present circumstances,

his taking the bull by the horns. In view of the state of public

feeling in England, and in the interest of the general commerce

with China, he deemed it prudent to abstain from using the

only argument that would have made an impression on the

Chinese mind, that of an armed demonstration. Nor did he

shrink from making a public confession of his helplessness by

notifying the British merchants at Canton (April 2 , 1849 )

that the Chinese Government has declined to carry into effect

the stipulation entered into by Kiying on April 6 , 1847. Sir

George took, however, prompt measures to afford to the British

community at Canton all possible protection in the event of

the outbreak of those disturbances which the literati of Canton

wantonly threatened but wisely refrained from in the presence

of a British gunboat . That Sir G. Bonham, in resorting to

the waiting game he played in this case, acted upon his own

convictions and not merely under pressure of his instructions,

is evident from the fact that about this same time (April 20 ,

1849 ) Lord Palmerston , in replying to a Memorial of the

Manchester Chamber of Commerce (of October 12, 1848 )

concerning the unsatisfactory position of trade with China,

quoted Sir G. Bonham as having stated that it is necessary to

allow time to work an improvement in China.'

Nevertheless Sir George did not rest idly on his diplomatic

oars. In March, 1850, he protested so vigorously against an

attempt made by the Hoppo of Canton to prevent Hongkong

river-steamers carrying Chinese cargo between Hongkong and

Canton, that the Canton Authorities yielded the point . But as

he despaired of obtaining any radical concessions in the matter

of Treaty rights from any of the provincial magnates, Sir George

endeavoured to gain for his representations the Imperial ear

and proceeded for that purpose in H.M.S. Reynard (June,

1850) to the Peiho with the intention to proceed to Tientsin



and Peking. Circumstances, however, prevented his reaching

Tientsin and compelled him to rest satisfied with the forwarding

of a dispatch to the Emperor's advisers by the hands of

Mr. Medhurst. Although no tangible result was obtained,

H.M. Government marked their sense of Sir G. Bonham's

discreet diplomacy by promoting him (November 22 , 1850 ) from

the third to the second rank of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B. )

and bestowed on him at the same time a baronetcy.

Though highly thought of, Sir G. Bonham was not always

victorious with his representations to the Foreign Office . Being,

like most common -sense Europeans in China, of opinion that

the close attention indispensable for a successful study of the

Chinese language warps the mind and imbues it with a defective

perception of the common things of real life, he systematically

promoted men, having no knowledge of Chinese, over the heads

of interpreters to the more responsible posts of Vice- Consul or

Consul. But when he did this in the case of Mr. (subsequently

Sir) Harry Parkes in Canton (autumn, 1853) , there ensued what

was thenceforth called the Battle of the Interpreters . ' In this

battle Sir George was worsted . Sir Harry Parkes ' case was

indeed an exceptional one. He had just gained special kudos.

as an uncommonly shrewd man by his prudent dealing with

the fracas which occurred at Canton (March, 1853 ) between

the European residents and the French Minister M. de Bourbillon

over the erection of a French flagstaff in the garden of the

factories. On appealing therefore against Sir G. Bonham's

decision to Lord Clarendon, Sir Harry Parkes gained a complete

victory by an immediate reversal of Sir George's system of

withholding promotion from Consular interpreters.

In the sphere of British diplomacy in China, there was at

this time specially gool reason for the waiting policy which

Sir G. Bonham initiated and which even Dr. Bowring, during

his brief term as Acting Plenipotentiary in 1852 , continued .

The fact was, a serious rebellion, preceded by sporadic dis-

turbances in several districts of the Canton province, broke out

in 1850 in the adjoining province of Kwangsi, under the


leadership of a religious fanatic, Hung Siu-tsuen, who had come

under Christian influences in Canton. This rebellion , which was

for the first time mentioned in the newspapers of Hongkong on

August 24, 1850, had originally the powerful support of the

secret Triad societies. A split , however, took place, and while

the adherents of Hung Siu-tsuen commenced, in 1852 , their

devastating march through the central provinces of China and

established, in 1853, the short-lived Taiping Dynasty at Nanking ,

the Triad societies ' bands of insurgents pillaged independently

town after town in the maritime provinces of southern China .

As these marauders gained power, and gradually drew nearer

to Canton city, the Colony of Hongkong began to reap the

harvest which invariably falls to its lot whenever the adjoining

districts of the Canton province are in a disturbed state. A

flood tide of emigration set in towards Hongkong (and Macao)

and thence to the Straits Settlements, to California and the

West Indies. For San Francisco alone as many as 30,000

Chinese embarked in Hongkong in the year 1852, paying in

Hongkong, in passage money alone, a sum of $ 1,500,000 .

Various branches of Chinese industry were established in

Hongkong. The population increased rapidly, and Chinese

capital, seeking a safe refuge from the clutches of the marauders,

commenced to flow into the Colony for investment .

Although the British Government determined at first to

observe strict neutrality, the question soon arose which of the

two contending Dynasties, the Taiping rebels (favoured by the

Missionary party) or the Manchu rulers (supported by the

mercantile community) would be more likely to bring about

that moral regeneration of the nation without which China

could never fully enter into the comity of nations. This

important question became more pressing when Taiping armies

approached or took possession of Treaty ports ( 1852 and 1853)

threatening a cessation of trade. Sir G. Bonham therefore

took the bold step of proceeding (April, 1853) to the

headquarters of the Taiping rebels enthroned at Nanking. His

object was to explain to the rebel leaders, as he had done to


the Imperialists, the principles of British neutrality, to demand'

of them a strict observance of the Nanking Treaty of 1842,

and to inquire what elements of stability there might be in-

the rebel government then established at Nanking. The

result was complete disillusion on both sides. The rebels

understood thenceforth what they had to expect from the British

Government. Sir G. Bonham, on the other hand, was now able

to satisfy the Foreign Office that the Taiping Dynasty was a

mere bubble, that their policy was as anti-foreign as that of the

Manchus, and that even less was to be expected from the former

than from the latter for an eventual repression of that cancer

of corruption which is gnawing at the vitals of China's political

organism . Sir George's action, in visiting the rebel leaders, was

afterwards severely and adversely criticized, but the mercantile

community of Hongkong were unanimous in their applause

of his proceedings. In the farewell address presented to Sir

George on 7th April, 1854, the leading merchants of Hongkong

specially praised him for having acted with prompitude in

restoring confidence and relieving the public mind at Shanghai,

at a moment of great alarm and excitement, by his bold, well-

judged and successful movement up the Yang-tsze to Nanking

in April, 1853.'

Now this same patient but practical and determined common

sense, which marked Sir G. Bonham's policy as H.M. Plenipo-

tentiary in China, characterized also his administration of

Hongkong's local affairs. It appears from the last dispatch

which he penned in Hongkong, that he from the first considered

himself bound by the opinions expressed by the Committee of

the House of Commons in the session of 1847 , but that he

was by no means satisfied with the conclusions which the

Committee arrived at . However, the constitutional questions

of popular representation in Legislative Council and municipal

organisation were among the first subjects which occupied

Governor Bonham's serious attention.

In January, 1849 , the leading merchants signed a Petition

to the House of Commons soliciting attention to the fact that


the Colonial Office had, with the exception of the land tenure

which it seemed inclined to offer in perpetuity, not attended

as yet to the recommendations of the Report of the Parliamentary

Committee of 1847, and stating that the expenditure of the

Colony should not in any great degree be thrown on local

commerce : that a system of municipal government of ordinary

and local affairs ought to be established ; and that some short

code of law ought to be drawn up. The petitioners particularly

complained that the inhabitants had no share in the legislature,

neither by elective representatives nor by nominees selected by

the Governor, and that the forms and fees of the Supreme Court

were unduly heavy. There is no record shewing that this

Petition was ever presented to Parliament. Sir George, however,

forwarded (January 30 , 1849 ) a copy of the Petition for the

information of the Colonial Office. Nine months later, he

selected fifteen of the unofficial Justices of the Peace and

summoned them to a conference (November 3 , 1849 ) . He

informed them that Earl Grey had sanctioned his proposal for

the admission of two members of the civil community into

the Legislative Council, that the nomination rested with him,

but that he thought it better for the Justices themselves to elect

two of their number. A meeting of the Justices of the Peace

was accordingly held at the Club on 6th December, 1849 , and

Messrs . David Jardine and 'J. F. Edger were nominated as the

first non-official Members of the Legislative Council. The fact

that their election had to be approved by the Colonial Office

and that they could not be sworn in until the Queen's warrants

arrived (June 14, 1850) , did not detract from the general rejoicing

over this first step gained in the direction of representative

government .

At that same conference (November 3, 1849 ) Sir G. Bonham

had also stated , that, whilst agreeing with the principle of giving

taxpayers some sort of municipal government, he doubted the

practicability of the scheme in the case of Hongkong. He

-quoted the words of Sir James Mackintosh (regarding the

Bombay municipality) that men of standing, engaged in their


own absorbing pursuits would possess neither time nor inclination

to devote to the interests of the public .' However, he requested

the fifteen Justices of his selection to consult on the organisation

of a 6 Municipal Committee of Police Commissioners." The

Justices thereupon passed, at their meeting of 6th December,

1849 , the following resolutions,-first , that no advantage can

be derived from having a Municipal Council , unless the entire

management of the Police, of the streets and roads within the

precincts of the town, and of all other matters usually given

to corporations are confided to it, and secondly that , whereas

the mode of raising so large a revenue from land rents is only

retained as being the most convenient and is in lieu of assessment

and taxes, consequently the amount raised from that source,

together with the £ 3,000 or 4,000 raised from licences and

rents, should, with the police assessments, be applicable, as far as

may be required, for municipal purposes. If the Justices had

been satisfied to begin, in a small way, as a mere Committee

of Police Commissioners, looking to future improvement of the

revenue to provide the means for extending the scope of their

functions, Hongkong would not have remained for fifty years

longer without municipal government. As it was, they demanded

a full-blown Municipal Council under impossible financial

conditions. Governor Bonham, earnestly desiring to meet the

wishes of the community as far as possible, made later on some

fresh propositions (January 10 , 1851 ) . He offered to place the

whole management of the Police under a Municipal Committee

on condition that the entire expense of the Police Force be

provided by an adequate police tax. He further proposed to

hand over to this Committee the management of streets, roads

and sewers, on condition that the requisite funds be provided

either by an assessed tax on real property (as proposed formerly

by a Draft Ordinance of Sir J. Davis), or by a tax upon horses

and carriages. Sir George was evidently determined on reserving

the land rents to meet the establishment charges and, at great

risk to his popularity, strove not only to raise the general revenue

by increased taxation but to make the Colony as soon as possible


independent of those Parliamentary Grants on which the

community meant to lean for ever. To reconcile these conflicting

purposes was impossible. A breach in the Governor's good

relations with the community seemed inevitable. The virulent

odium which Sir J. Davis bad incurred threatened to overwhelin

Sir G. Bonham also. What saved his policy and popularity

from shipwreck, was his persistent habit of taking the leaders

of the community into his confidence, of consulting public

opinion about his difficulties, and most of all his evident

sincerity in seeking not only to establish the coveted Muni-

cipal Council, but to carry into effect the whole programine

sketched out by the Parliamentary Committee of 1847. That

programme constituted the political creed of the community

and the Governor had made it his own. The Justices could

not be angry with a man who did this and who moreover

treated them as a sincere friend . In their replies (January 31

and March, 1 , 1851 ) they declined good -humouredly both of

the Governor's offers . Whilst again expressing their willingness

to undertake the duties of a Municipal Committee , they objected ,

first, that any further taxation would be injurious as the cost

of living was already exorbitant, and secondly that the police

tax would not be sufficient to provide the necessary funds because,

whilst the Colony remained a rendezvous for pirates and outlaws,

making even the harbour unsafe for native traders, the Police

Force was too small and composed of too untrustworthy and

ill-paid material. Addison would have said of the points in

dispute that much might be said on both sides. The discussion

closed with the Governor's declaration (March 15, 1851 ) that, as

the Justices objected to any further taxation, and as application

to the Home Government for further grants of money would, in

view of recent discussions in the House of Commons, be of no

avail, it was impossible for him to meet the views of the Justices .

Greek had fought Greek on the arena of common sense views of

finance and both parties were pleased to terminate the conflict .

The finances of the Colony were indeed in a desperate

state. When the Governor published (January 8 , 1849) a


statement of income and expenditure for the year 1848, shewing

£23.509 local revenue (apart from the Parliamentary Grant)

and £ 62,308 expenditure, a local paper summed up the position

of affairs by saying, the Colony is now in a state of insolvency,

the public works are suspended and the officials only paid a

portion of their salaries.' The difficulty was enhanced by the

fact that a public loan was out of the question , that the

Parliamentary Grant for 1849 had been reduced to £ 25,000,

and that but little could be saved by retrenchment of the civil

establishment without committing an act of injustice or impairing

efficiency. Sir George was, indeed, even then of the opinion

which he expressed later on , that, were this Colony taxed in

the same way as are the Settlements in the Straits under the

government of the East India Company, it would in a year

or two be made to pay its own expenses.' But he also knew

that any attempt at additional taxation would be violently

resisted by the community as injurious to trade. All eyes

were therefore directed to the Imperial Exchequer. Sir George

himself appears to have considered the temporary continuance

of a small annual grant from the Exchequer a reasonable

measure. Seeing,' he wrote ( April 2 , 1850) , ' that the trade

of the Colony benefits the British Exchequer and the Indian

Government conjointly to the extent of upwards of seven millions

Sterling, an expenditure on the part of the mother country of

from £ 12,000 to £ 15,000 annually, to uphold the establishment

of a Colony which is the seat of the Superintendent of British

trade with China, ought not to be considered excessive.' This

was, however, a question to be decided by Parliament, and

public opinion in England declared that the Colony was now

out of its swaddling clothes and ought to learn to stand on

its own legs.

Sir G. Bonham did his best to bring about this desirable

result by revising taxation as far as practicable and enforcing

retrenchment in every possible direction . For the ad valorem

duty on goods sold by auction , he substituted increased

auctioneers' licence fees . He introduced a tax on the exportation


of granite which was at the time largely used as ballast for

tea ships. He shrank from reviving the opium monopoly, but

stimulate the revenue from the opium retail licences which

had been substituted (since August 1 , 1847 ) for the farming

system . He left the police tax assessment untouched at the

low rate of 5 per cent. but reduced the expensive European

contingent of the Police Force to the lowest possible minimum.

Finally he restricted public works (with the exception of the

erection of a new Government House) to the bare maintenance

of existing roads and buildings . By these and other minor

forms of retrenchment, he produced at the close of the year

1849 an immediate reduction of £ 23,672 on the expenditure

of the preceding year. He thenceforth maintained this low

rate of expenditure ( £ 38,986 in 1849 ) which averaged £ 34,398

per annum during the next three years and rose in 1853 to no

more than £36,418 . He was unable, indeed , to bring about any

great improvement of the local revenue, which, though it rose

temporarily, by the rigorous exaction of arrears of land rent in

1849 , to £ 35,536, fell again to £ 23,526 in 1850, and produced

during the next three years ( 1851 to 1853 ) an annual average

of £23,254. However, at the close of his administration he was

justified in saying ( April 7, 1854) that he had brought the Parlia-

mentary Grant from £25,000 in 1849 down to £ 8,500 (correctly

£9,200) in 1853, and that he had reduced the expenditure of

the Colony, within six years, from £ 62,658 to £ 36,418 .

During a period of such financial difficulties, the vexed

question of land tenure could not possibly be solved in the way

in which the mercantile community desired it to be settled .

The merchants were not satisfied with perpetuity of leases . They

desired an entire revision of the terms on which they had

originally bought their land . Instead of fixing an annual rental

and putting up to auction only the rate of bonus to be paid once

for all, Elliot had ( in the absence of a reliable standard of

land values) initiated the system of putting up to auction the

rate of the crown rent to be paid from year to year. In the early

times of keen competition , of booms and speculations, land


jobbing forced up the crown rents to a maximum commensurate

with inflated values. But this maximum, which at the time of sale

seemel reasonable enough, appeared in after years of commercial

stagnation to be a monstrously oppressive rate. Moreover, just

when these rents pressed most heavily on the land owners, the

Government , whose revenues suffered likewise under commercial

depression, was leas: inclined , nor indeed in a position , to reduce

the income from land rents. At a public meeting , principally

representing the land owners, a Memorial to the Government

was agreed to (January 19, 1849 ) , complaining that the land

rents were a burden too heavy to be borne. The memorialists

suggested, that the expenses of the civil establishment should

be made to fall on trade generally (the Imperial trade) and

not on local owners of land and that the crown rents should

be materially reduced or abolished . Sir George was in no hurry

to take up a problem which could not be solved under the

circumstances of the time and left it as a legacy to his successors.

After appointing (October, 1849) a Commission of Inquiry to

report on the land tenure of the Colony for the information of

Her Majesty's Government, he informed his select committee

of Justices of the Peace, at the conference of November 3 ,

1849, that any general reduction in the ground rents would be

immediately followed up by the Home Government with the

imposition of some general scheme of excise or assessment which

would be found much more oppressive and vexatious, besides

requiring a cumbersome and costly fixed machinery .' Fifteen

months later (February 14, 1851 ) the Colonial Secretary , in

reviewing the merits of Sir G. Bonham's administration (by

order of the Governor ) , stated that the petty sources of revenue

alleged to have been oppressive, had been abolished and for

the consideration of the chief source, said to be oppressive , a

Committee of five was appointed and their report forwarded

to Her Majesty's Government . No more was heard of this

troublous question during this administration .

The legislative activity of Governor Bonham's regime

centered in reforms of the administration of justice. When


it was found, in October 1848 , that there were only 23 persons

in the Colony capable of serving on juries, the Governor reduced

the property qualification of common jurors from $ 1,000 to

$500 . According to his habit of consulting the community

about difficult problems, Sir G. Bonham published, in January,

1849, with a view to elicit an expression of public opinion , a

Draft Ordinance to regulate the flogging of criminals. Little

accustomed, as the residents then were, to being consulted by

their Governors, they imagined that Sir George had no definite

views on a subject on which the whole community, convinced

of the absolute necessity of applying exceptional severity to the

treatment of Chinese criminals, felt very strongly. Nevertheless,

the Governor deemed it prudent to shelve the question, while-

weightier matters pressed for settlement. To remove the friction

between the Police Magistrates and the Chief Justice, which

had troubled the preceding administration, Sir George created

(December 17 , 1850) a bench of Magistrates , perfectly independent

of the Government and having powers considerably greater than

those ordinarily accorded to similar bodies, by the establishment

of a Court of Petty Sessions . Unofficial Justices of the Peace

were to sit once a week with the Police Magistrates to hear

cases which otherwise would have been remitted to the Supreme

Court for trial by jury. The aim of this new measure ( Ordinance

5 of 1850 ) was to provide a more speedy settlement of small

debts, misdemeanours and minor crimes. But it expected, on

the part of the Justices, a greater readiness to sacrifice their time

and more legal acumen, than subsequent experience proved that

they possessed. Hence this measure did not give permanent

satisfaction. Further, as the Governor, in his capacity as

Plenipotentiary, extended at the same time the judicial powers

of Consuls in Treaty ports at the expense of Supreme Court

jurisdiction, many of his critics (and seemingly the Chief Justice

himself) saw in this creation of a Court of Petty Sessions an

objectionable encroachment upon the criminal jurisdiction of

the Supreme Court . An opposition paper went so far as to

impute to Sir G. Bonham the intention of eventually abolishing


the costly Supreme Court altogether by the appointment of civil

-officers combining judicial and administrative functions under

a system of plurality of offices which would save expenditure.

However, the Governor made no such attempt . On the contrary,

he extended the summary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

to civil cases not involving more than $500, and pleased the

community considerably in giving effect to another suggestion

of the Parliamentary Committee of 1847 by publishing, for

the protection of suitors, a table of fees chargeable by attorneys.

The question of the form of oath to be administered to Chinese

witnesses occupied public attention in December, 1851 , the

Chief Justice having stated that he was greatly afraid that

fully half the cases adjudicated summarily had been determined

on false testimony. Originally the practice had been adopted

of making Chinese witnesses cut a cock's head in Court.

Subsequently the breaking of an earthen-ware basin was sub-

stituted and latterly it had been customary to burn a yellow

paper with oath and imprecation inscribed on it or signed by

the witness. The modern practice of a simple (though generally

unintelligible) oral affirmation in place of oath was now (in)

1852 ) adopted. Among the minor Ordinances passed during

this administration was an Ordinance to restrain the careless

manufacture of gunpowder by Chinese (August 31 , 1848 ) , and

a Marriage Ordinance ( March 16 , 1852 ) the operation of which

was, however, confined to the registration of Christian marriages ,

leaving the polygamic marriage system of the Chinese unregulated .

Sir G. Bonham's common sense administration is naturally dis-

tinguished by the paucity of itslegal enactments . The strained

relations which formerly existed between the Governor and Chief

Justice Hulme (who was restored to office on June 16 , 1848 )

were ended. But the Chief Justice's relations with Governor

Bonham, though never unfriendly, were not marked by cordiality.

Among the community, however, Chief Justice J. W. Hulme

was extremely popular. On his departure (April 7, 1854) the

leading residents presented him with an address testifying to

the high character he had always maintained on the bench, to


his satisfactory administration of the law under perplexing

difficulties, and to his undeviating impartiality and uprightness .

During the first two years of Sir G. Bonham's adminis

tration , crime was still rife in the Celony, but from the year

1850 there was, with the exception of piracy, a sensible

decrease of serious offences. Occasional outbursts of a grave

nature were, indeed, not wanting, but the number of felonies,

674 in 1850, fell during the next two years to an average

of 505 cases per annum, and was reduced in 1853 to 471

cases. An attempt was made by Chinese, on July 8 , 1848 ,

to poison 25 men of the Royal Artillery. This was followed

by a fight in the harbour between the police, assisted by boats

of H.M.S. Cambrian, and some junks ( October 15 , 1848 ) . Three

Chinese junkmen and a policeman were shot . The Coroner's

jury, however, acquitted the junk people and public opinion.

blamed the police . Next came an attempt (December 24, 1848 )

to fire the Central Market. Soon after (February 28, 1849)

occurred the murder at Wongmakok (near Stanley) of Captain

da Costa , R.E., and Lieutenant Dwyer of the Ceylon Rifles,

by the pirate chief Chui Apou , who was subsequently ( March 10 ,

1851 ) convicted of manslaughter but committed suicide in jail .

In September, 1849, a foolish rumour gained currency among

the native population to the effect that the Chinese Government

had offered a reward for the assassination of Governor Bonham.

The suggestion was, however, seriously made, and subsequently

acted upon, that in his carriage drives the Governor should

always be attended by an escort of armed troopers, During

September, 1850, some street fights occurred owing to the

carpenters' guild intimidating independent journeymen who

refused to submit to the guild regulations. With the exception

of a murderous attack made upon the Rev. Van Geniss (August ,

1852 ) , on the road between Little Hongkong and Wongnaichung,

the latter years of this administration were remarkably free

from highway robberies and burglaries.

But piracy lifted up its head high during this period , in

spite of the periodical destruction of piratical fleets by British


gunboats. By a series of hotly contested engagements ( September

28 to October 3 , 1849 ) , Commander J. C. Dalrymple Hay,

with H.M. Ships Columbine, Fury, and Medea, destroyed the

entire fleet of Chui Apou, consisting of 23 junks, carrying 12

to 18 guns each and manned by 1,800 desperadoes . Two piratical

dock-yards were also destroyed on the same occasion . A few

weeks later (October 19 to 22, 1849 ) , Commander Hay, having

under his orders H.M. Ships Phlegeton, Fury, Columbine, and

a large party of officers and men from H.M.S. Hastings,

destroyed the greater part of the fleet of the other pirate chief,

Shap-ng-tsai . Out of 64 junks, manned by 3,150 men with

1,224 guns, as many as 58 junks were destroyed . Commander

Hay officially reported that these successes were obtained on

the information given by that invaluable officer Daniel R.

Caldwell.' So intense was the rejoicing in commercial circles

of Hongkong over these wholesale massacres of pirates, that

a public subscription was raised and each of the captains present

at the destruction of Shap-ng-tsai's fleet, was presented with

a service of plate of the value of £ 200 . A third piratical fleet

of 13 junks, collected by Chui Apou, was destroyed (March 4,

1850) in Mirs Bay, close to Hongkong, by H.M.S. Medea

which had on board Mr. Caldwell and a Mandarin from Kowloon.

Finally, on May 10, 1853, another piratical fleet was destroyed

by H.M.S. Rattler. Nevertheless , sporadic cases of piracy

continued to increase in the neighbourhood of Hongkong. On

February 20, 1851 , a pitched battle was fought in Aberdeen

Bay between some piratical junks and 8 Chinese gunboats. A

week later ( February 28, 1851 ) a conspiracy to loot the river-

steamer Hongkong on her way to Canton , was discovered by

Mr. Caldwell. In the year 1852 some 19 cases of piracy were

reported as having occurred in the waters of Hongkong.

During the summer of 1853 piracies occurred at an average

rate of 14 per month . As many as 70 cases were reported

during the year 1853, the most shocking case being the murder

(August 5 , 1853 ) of the captain, officers and passengers of the

S.S. Arratoon Apcar, by the Chinese crew .


The Government was almost helpless in the matter of piracy.

Sir G. Bonham did what he could to organize a detective

department and appointed for this purpose the best colloquial

linguist Hongkong ever possessed , Mr. D. R. Caldwell, as

Assistant-Superintendent of Police ( September 1 , 1848 ) . His

services were highly effective, particulary in connection with

piracy cases. The patent failure of the Police, with regard to

the prevention of crime, was unavoidable, as this extraordinary

activity of Chinese criminals on land and sea was the natural

corrollary of the Taiping and Triad rebellion, and as the Police

Force was deficient in numerical strength so long as financial

considerations prevented its re-organisation on a proper footing.

Governor Bonham, who thought the Force was quite sufficient

for the policing of the town, stated at the close of his

administration that, while the Colony had been improving in

every respect, and contentment prevailed throughout the entire

population, the only subject of regret was the extent to which

piracy prevailed in the neighbouring waters. To suppress it , '

he added, ' is impossible without the co-operation of the Chinese

Government. This co-operation I have repeatedly requested

without avail, and in the present disorganized state of the

sea-board part of the Empire it is now useless to expect it.'

It has already been stated that to the Taiping rebellion

is due the great advance ( 81 per cent. ) which the population

made during this period . Even the proportion of males and

females commenced now to improve, as the disturbances in

the neighbouring districts drove whole families to seek refuge

in Hongkong. In 1848 the population numbered 21,514

residents. In 1849 it rose to 29,507 and by the year 1853 it

numbered 39,017 residents . In 1848 one fifth and in 1853

one third of the population were females.

The development of the Colony's commercial prosperity

kept pace with the increase of the population . The fresh streams

that stirred the stagnant pool of local commerce into renewed

life came, however, not merely from the rebellion-fed source

of Chinese emigration, but to a great extent also from the


discovery of the Californian gold- fields, from the development

of the North-Pacific whale and seal fisheries, from the progress

made by the Australian Colonies and from the opening up of

Japan to British trade and civilization . It may be said, in fact ,

that it was during this period that the Pacific Ocean commenced

to rise into that commercial importance, which, as it has

increased ever since, including also the smaller islands of Oceania,

is bound to make the Pacific ere long one of the most important

centres of the world's commercial politics.

The fresh life infused into the arteries of local commerce

naturally manifested itself in the first instance by an increase in

the shipping trade. The number of square-rigged vessels regularly

frequenting the port increased during this period from 700 to 1,103,

while their tonnage was nearly doubled . Ship-building went on

briskly at J. Lamont's patent slip at East Point and from 16 to

30 European vessels were annually registered in the Colony. The

native junk trade, though restrained by piracy, also increased

considerably. The system of employing small British steamers

to convoy and protect by force of arms fleets of native junks,

continued so long as the coast of China was infested with

swarms of piratical fleets. Of course this practice had its atten-

dant evils. The Chinese Authorities protested against it and

British naval commanders were its sworn enemies. One of the

latter arrested the little steamer Spec and prosecute her captain

and crew in the Consular Court at Shanghai on a charge of

piracy, for having fired into junks which were mistaken for

pirates. The prosecution, however, fell to the ground when

tried in the Supreme Court of Hongkong (September, 1848 ) .

Governor Bonham was averse to the convoying system, but

Her Majesty's Government permitted its continuance as it had

its justification in the fact that the spasmodic efforts, made by

the few British men -of-war on the station to suppress piracy, were

practically of no avail so long as the Chinese rebellion continued .

Lord Palmerston also informed the Governor (in 1848 ) that

Chinese vessels in tow of British merchant vessels have a right

to British protection .


The opening of the gold- fields in the Sacramento valley

in 1848 and the organisation of the new State of California

in 1850 caused a new line of commerce to connect Hongkong

with San Francisco. It commenced (July, 1849 ) with large

orders for slop clothes and wooden houses (shipped in frame)

which were made in Hongkong . Next, Chinese artizans were

sent to California to set up those houses. These were followed

by an annually increasing stream of Chinese emigrants embarking

at Hongkong for San Francisco and a steadily developing trade

in all sorts of articles . In the year 1851 forty-four vessels left

Hongkong for California and this line of connection has been

maintained ever since.

In December, 1848 , a few American whalers put into

Hongkong to refit and were so pleased with the resources of

the Colony that for many years after they repeated their visits

in increasing numbers. Thirteen such vessels arrived at the

close of the year 1849. Between December 1850 and March

1851 , fifteen vessels arrived laden with oil, of which a considerable

portion was shipped in British bottoms to England under the

navigation laws. As each of these vessels spent about £ 500

in the Colony, their visits were hailed with satisfaction, apart

from the incipient oil trade connected with them. During the

next season as many as 37 whalers arrived (December 2, 1851

to February 21 , 1852 ) with 616,203 gallons of oil, of which

however only a small portion was shipped from Hongkong to


Coolie emigration to Peru and Cuba , though chiefly conducted

at Macao, because the crimping and kidnapping system connected

with it would not have been tolerated in Hongkong, benefitted

the Colony at first to some extent (in 1852 ) . But the frequent

mutinies which occurred among the coolies shipped on that

system soon caused British skippers to eschew the Peruvian

coolie trade. Properly regulated coolie emigration to Guiana

commenced in 1853 under the direction of Mr. J. Gardiner

Austin, the Immigration Agent - General of the Government of

British Guiana. Emigration to Australia commenced in a small



way, in 1853, with three vessels carrying 268 Chinese settlers .

The restrictive policy which in after years, when pushed to an

extreme, banished coolie emigration from the Colony, was initiated

by Governor Bonham in a proclamation (January 4, 1854)

which, however, did not go beyond regulating the provisioning

and dietary scale of coolie ships.

At the close of Sir G. Bonham's administration, the

conviction forced itself upon Hongkong merchants that the

Nanking Treaty, though it improved British relations with China,

had commercially but little effect, and that the expansion of

trade that took place since the year 1843 would anyhow have

resulted from purely natural causes. The returns of the Board

of Trade shewed that the import of British manufactures into

China was, at the close of the year 1850 , less by nearly three-

quarters of a million sterling, compared with what it was in 1844.

Exports of tea and silk increased indeed enormously, but this

increase was chiefly owing to opium and specie and not to the

vast trade in manufactured goods which had been expected to

result from the Nanking Treaty. It was seen at last that what

restrains the influx of British fabrics into the interior of China

is not the paucity of open ports but the fact that the industry

of China can beat British power- looms with regard to both the

cost of production and the durability of the fabric.

The opium trade of the Colony, which Sir Robert Peel's

Government had at one time (in 1846 ) intended to suppress

by the imposition of a prohibitive tax, entered in spring 1853

into its present state of legitimate commerce, through the decision

of the Chinese Government to legalise the importation of opium.

The published raison d'être of this decision was the inefficiency

of the laws against opium by reason of their excessive severity.'

In reality, however, Chinese statesmen, as they had been induced

by financial considerations to prohibit the importation of opium

in 1839, now legalised its importation in 1853 on purely financial

grounds. In 1839 they excluded Indian opium because it

drained China of its silver. In 1853 they imposed a heavy

import duty on Indian opium to provide funds for the


suppression of the Taiping rebellion. But whatever treatment

they accorded to Indian opium, they all along permitted the

cultivation of native opium in the inland provinces .

Questions of currency were much debated in Hongkong

during this period, since October, 1850, when the comparatively

rare Spanish dollars commanded a high premium in the market

at Canton, where at the time the bulk of Hongkong exchange

operations was conducted. Rather sudden fluctuations occurred.

in 1851 , placing Mexican dollars, rupees and English money

at an enormous discount. Various schemes were propounded

to smooth matters, but all proved futile. In 1852, the coinage

of a British dollar was first mooted in connection with the

resolution of a public meeting held at Singapore (January, 1852 )

which suggested the coinage of an East India Company's dollar

with divisions of half, quarter and eighth dollars for circulation

in the Straits. Unfortunately the proposal was shelved for years .

By notification of April 27 , 1853, Sir G. Bonham published a

Royal proclamation of October 16, 1852 , to the effect that, where-

as hitherto the silver coins of the United Kingdom had passed

current in Hongkong (and some other British Colonies) as an

unlimited tender for payments, they should henceforth (as in

England) not be a legal tender in payment of sums exceeding

forty shillings due by or to the Government. This proclamation ,

artificially bolstering up a theoretical gold standard, which had

no commercial reality in the Colony, came into force on October

1 , 1853 , and delayed the rehabilitation of Hongkong's original

silver (dollar) standard. Meanwhile contention arose in

Hongkong through contradictory official decisions . In January,

1854, the Chief Justice ruled that, when an agreement runs

for dollars of any denomination, such dollars must be paid

with - in English money-whatever premium they command in

the Hongkong market,' and again, that Court fees must be

paid in dollars, but that it is not proper to refuse English money

in payment of costs.' On the other hand, the Colonial Treasurer

(W. T. Mercer) made an order (February 9 , 1854 ) that ' all

Government land rents must for the future be paid in dollars


according to the terms of the lease. ' As the Colonial Treasurer

refused the Queen's sovereigns, which about this time had been

declared by the Lords of the Treasury to be a legal discharge

for the sums they represented throughout Her Majesty's

dominions ' and to require no further Colonial enactment for

their legalisation, complaints were made on all sides . The

contention was accentuated by the fact that the Colonial

Treasurer took dollars at a fixed rate of four shillings and

twopence though the market value might be five shillings.

Steam communication between Hongkong and Canton was

placed on a satisfactory basis by the establishment ( October 19 ,

1848) of the Hongkong and Canton Steam Packet Company.'

The first Hongkong Directors of this Company were Messrs .

D. Matheson, A. Campbell , T. D. Neave and F. T. Bush. They

commenced operations in spring 1849 with two small steamers

(of 250 tons each) built in London. The Peninsular and

Oriental Steam Navigation Company commenced in 1849 running

a steamer (the Lady Mary Wood) regularly between Hongkong

and Shanghai, but failed in an attempt, made in December 1850,

to induce local merchants to pay a monthly subsidy in lieu of

postage. The same Company established, in January 1853 ,

a regular monthly mail between Hongkong and Calcutta, giving

thereby the Colony the advantage of regular fortnightly

communication with England . Telegrams had to be sent through

intermediary agents at Gibraltar or Trieste, the latter route

becoming now the favourite. The increased facilities thus

provided, were not much relished by Hongkong merchants,

because they accentuated the keenness of competition. The

leisure with which business was formerly conducted in the time

of monthly mails, was now supplanted by an annually increasing

high- pressure rate of communication with all parts of the world .

In other respects also local trade had by this time undergone

an alteration. The profits of the China trade, formerly enjoyed

by a few, were now divided among the many. The days of

the merchant princes were now a dream of the past . Fortunes

were still made but it took some decades of years now to make


them. However, the commercial prospects of the Colony were

certainly extending and assuming a character of greater

permanency. When (in summer 1850 ) the great firms in India

were prostrated one after the other, the China firms dealing

with India bore the shock firmly with but one exception .

But it took years before Hongkong's commercial reputation

was rehabilitated in England. The Economist, which had

maligned the good fame of the Colony (in 1846), continued even

in 1851 ( March 8 ) to belittle the progress which had been

made meanwhile. How very little was thought or known of

Hongkong at this time even by those in authority in England,

is evidenced by the fact that the Royal Commissioners of the

International Exhibition of 1851 gave no place to Hongkong

as a Colony. They merely invited the merchants of Hongkong

to join in an exhibition representing China. Naturally resenting

this slight, the Committee, appointed at a public meeting that

was held on June 24, 1850, resolved to leave it to the Canton

Committee, which had already appointed numerous Sub-Com-

mittees, to take action . But the latter also threw up the project

and it was left to a few enthusiastic individuals in Canton

and Shanghai (chiefly Consuls) to collect and forward to

London specimens of Chinese produce and manufactures. China

merchants in London were the principal contributors. The only

exhibits representing Hongkong in that fair temple of the world's

commercial competition at Hyde Park consisted of a tiny

pagoda, a jade cup and two silver race cups exhibited by

Mr. W. Walkinshaw, and a North-China walking stick added

by Mr. F. S. Carpenter of St. John's Wood . The Royal

Commissioners further demonstrated the prevailing popular

ignorance of Hongkong's position by labelling and cataloguing

the Canton Consul's exhibits of specimens of Chinese coal as

collected by H.M. Consul at Hongkong.'

The sanitary record of this period presents a remarkable

illustration of the vagaries of Hongkong fever and of human

inability to restrain or even account for them. It had previously

been customary to attribute the origin of Hongkong fever to


exhalations from disturbed virgin soil arising after exposure

to sun and rain. In 1848, the Colonial Surgeon traced it to

the prevalence of electricity in the atmosphere. But during

the next few years fever put in a sudden and equally malignant

appearance in places where the soil had not been disturbed

and at times when electricity in the atmosphere was particularly

scarce. At a former period Hongkong fever attacked Indian

troops when it spared European troops . During the adminis-

tration of Sir G. Bonham fever raged epidemically in the

garrison, both European and Indian, while it left the civilian

population untouched . Thus it was particularly in July and

August, 1848 , when, after several months of excessive heat,

fever decimated the garrison to an alarming degree. The same

epidemic recurred among the garrison in July and August , 1850,

when no excessive heat but an unusually prolonged winter season

had preceded it. In the short interval of six weeks, the 59th

Regiment was more than decimated, 43 men having died (thought

many more were stricken with fever) between 14th July and 23rd

August, 1850, whilst the health of the civilians in Hongkong

continued generally good. It is noteworthy also that, after that

unusually prolonged winter of 1849 to 1850, an epidemic, having

all the appearances of the plague (black death) which devastated

London in 1665 , broke out in Canton in May, 1850, but, though

it raged there for several months, it did not spread to Hongkong-

In autumn ( 1850 ) , when the fever had ceased ravaging the

garrison of Hongkong, it broke out among the Chinese population .

It was then ascribed to long continued drought . From 1850 to

1853 the average annual death rate among the civilian European

population was 8 per cent. and among the Chinese 3 per cent .,

while among the troops it varied considerably. In 1850 the

death rate among European troops was 23 per cent. and among

the Indian troops 10 per cent. The case was reversed in 1852 ,

when the death rate of European troops was 3.6 per cent. and

that of the Indian troops 10.02 per cent. In 1851 and 1853

the death rate was the same among both classes of troops. But

whilst in all the preceding years fever appeared principally in


the summer months, it made its appearance among the garrison

in 1854 as early as April, when 73 men were stricken with fever

and dysentery in one month. Six cases of Beriberi, a disease

previously unknown in Hongkong, occurred at this time among

the Indian troops .

Great as the vagaries of disease were during this period ,

the divergencies of public opinion on the subject were still

greater. While English newspapers denounced Hongkong as a

pest-hole, while the music-halls in London resounded with the

popular refrain You may go to Hongkong for me, ' Governor

Bonham grew eloquent (in his annual reports ) on the salubrity

of the climate of Hongkong which he considered to be as well

adapted to the European constitution as other places similarly

situated within the tropics.' Equally great was the variation

of opinion among military and civilian surgeons as to the utility

of Peak sanatoriums. These were first recommended in 1848

by the Colonial Surgeon (Dr. Morrison), who suggested the

erection of a Government sanatorium at an altitude of 1,774 feet

above the sea.

The Colonial church was at last completed and formally

opened (March 11 , 1849 ) on the anniversary of the day on which

Sir J. Davis had laid the foundation stone. Unfortunately this

ceremony revived for a moment the community's bitter feelings.

against their former Governor, because his coat of arms, including

a bloody hand, was observed emblazoned over the porte cochère.

The indignant community assumed , probably without good

grounds, that this apparent impropriety, for which the Surveyor

General (Ch. St. J. Cleverly) was responsible, was due to instruc-

tions left by Sir J. Davis. The building was neatly fitted up.

As the cost of erection, even after leaving the tower without

a steeple, exceeded the funds available ( £ 4,600 ) , power was

given to the Trustees by a special Ordinance ( 3 of 1850 ) to

raise a loan to cover the deficit ( $ 2,500 ) . Advantage was taken

of this Ordinance to transfer the management of the Church

from the Colonial Chaplain to the Lorl Bishop of Victoria.

For letters patent had meanwhile been issued ( May 11 , 1849 )


declaring the Colony to be the diocese of a Lord Bishop and

constituting St. John's church as a cathedral church and bishop's

see. It appeared that a fund of £ 18,000 had been raised in

England for the endowment of a Hongkong bishopric, that an

annual grant of £ 6,000 from the Colonial Bishoprics' Fund had

been promised by the Bishop of London, and that an additional

sum of £2,000 was available for the special purposes of St. Paul's

College. The latter institution was to be (like Dr. Legge's

Anglo-Chinese College) a school for the training of Chinese

ministers, and the Bishop was appointed its warden under

statutes approved (October 15 , 1849 ) by the Archbishop of

Canterbury. The College received later on also a small Parlia-

mentary grant to train interpreters for the public service.

With the arrival (March 29, 1850) of the Bishop, G. Smith,

who consecrated the new cathedral in September, 1850, a period

of increased missionary and educational activity set in, for Bishop

Smith possessed stimulating energy and looked upon the whole

of China, as well as Hongkong, as his diocese. The Jewish

Colony at Kaifungfoo (in North- China ) received a share of

the Bishop's attention, a curious testimony of which is exhibited

in the City Hall Library in the shape of a portion of the Hebrew

pentateuch recovered from Kaifungfoo. The Taiping rebellion

and the missionary politics connected with it occupied much

of the Bishop's time. For the benefit of seamen passing through

Hongkong, the lorcha Anne was converted into a floating Bethel

in charge of a seamen's chaplain (Mr. Holdermann ) . The

Government Grant-in -Aid Schools were soon brought under the

supervision of the Bishop as chairman of the Educational

Committee, and worked as feeders of St. Paul's College. The

latter was taught (until 1849 ) by Mr. J. Summers (afterwards

Professor of Chinese Literature at King's College, London) and

subsequently by the Bishop himself and his chaplains . Though

the College produced not a single native minister, nor any

official interpreter, many of the best educated native residents

of the Colony received their training there. The same may

be said of Dr. Legge's Anglo -Chinese College which also failed


to produce any native preacher or teacher but trained some

eminent English-speaking Chinese. While Bishop Smith was

great in religious politics, Dr. Legge made himself a European

reputation as the translator of the Chinese classics. On the

other hand, some of the scholars of the Morrison Institution ,

of the Anglo-Chinese College and of St. Paul's College, gained

at different times an unenviable notoriety in Police Court cases.

Hence the public drew the inference that, in the case of Chinese

youths, an English education, even when conducted on a religious

basis, fails to effect any moral reform, and rather tends to draw

out the vicious elements inherent in the Chinese character. The

mercantile community, which had hitherto munificently supported

missionary institutions, commenced about this time to withdraw

their sympathies from the missionary cause altogether. The

Morrison Education Society's School on Morrison Hill had

to be closed, in spring 1849 , for want of public support.

Mr. Stanton's English Children's School , under Mr. Drake,

also collapsed in 1849 and the attempt made by Miss Mitchell

to revive it resulted , in 1853, in complete failure . Dr. Gützlaff's

Chinese Union of native colporteurs, which had for many years

made a greater stir in Europe than in China, ended in October

1849 , during the temporary absence of Dr. Gützlaff, in a

miserable fiasco. The London Mission Hospital for Chinese,

having for some years past lost its hold on public sympathy,

was closed in October, 1850. The London Missionary Society

opened, however, a chapel in Queen's Road ( May, 1851 ) where

out-patients were occasionally attended to. As the mercantile

public became severe critics of the labours of the missionaries,

the latter now came to look upon Hongkong as a stumbling-

block to the progress of christianity and civilization in China. '

The Roman Catholic Missions, seeking on the quiet the support

of Government rather than of the public, continued the even

tenor of their way. They started several small schools which

gave to Portuguese youths an elementary English education

and thus commenced the work which eventually filled commercial

and Government offices with Portuguese clerks. The Chinese


population, who were still in the habit of sending their sons

to be educated outside the Colony, in Canton or in their

respective native villages, cared little for local education . Public

spirit among the Chinese vented itself in guild meetings,

processions and temple-committees . Among the latter, the

Committee of the Man-moo temple (rebuilt and enlarged in

May, 1851 ) now rose into eminence as a sort of unrecognized

and unofficial local-government board (principally made up by

Nampak-hong or export merchants) . This Committee secretly

controlled native affairs, acted as commercial arbitrators, arranged

for the due reception of mandarins passing through the Colony,

negotiated the sale of official titles, and formed an unofficial

link between the Chinese residents of Hongkong and the Canton


With the advent of Sir G. Bonham, who possessed the

secret of making himself thoroughly popular without surrendering

a vestige of his dignity as Her Majesty's Representative, and

who was fortunate in having for his co-adjutors popular and

hospitable men like the Major-Generals Staveley and Jervois,

a great change came over the social life of the Colony . From

the very commencement of this administration , Hongkong society

began to take its tone from, and was thenceforth held together

by, the spirit that prevailed at Government House. The

transition, from the state of things in the days of Sir

H. Pottinger and Sir J. Davis, when Government House was

virtually under a self-imposed ban of social ostracism , to the

time of Sir G. Bonham, when the social life of the Colony

gathered round Government House as its pivot, was too sudden

and too great to pass off smoothly. When Sir George (November,

1849) selected fifteen of the unofficial Justices of the Peace,

summoned them to a conference, and thenceforth frequently

consulted them collectively or individually, he virtually created,

in succession to the merchant princes of former days, an untitled

commercial aristocracy. Unfortunately, this select company

had no natural basis of demarcation. Merchants, formerly of

equal standing with some of the chosen fifteen, resented their


exclusion from the charmed circle. Hence (particularly in

summer 1850 ) the epithets of flunkyism and toadyism were

freely applied to the attitude of the Governor's commercial

friends. Even among the latter, there arose occasionally

acrimonious questions of precedence at the gubernatorial dinner

table. Moreover the gradations of social rank thus originated

in the upper circles reproduced themselves in the middle and

lower strata of local society, which accordingly became subdivided

into mutually exclusive cliques and sets. The revival of the

Amateur Dramatic Corps (December 2, 1848 ) , the formation

of the Victoria Regatta Club (October 25, 1849) and the

establishment of a Cricket Club (June, 1851 ) , served, together

with the annual race meetings (transferred since 1850 from

January to February) , and the growing popularity of the Masonic

fraternity (which gave its first ball on February 1 , 1853 ) , to

contribute some powerful elements of social redintegration . The

presence, in 1852 and 1853 , of the U. S. Squadron , consisting

of seven vessels, under Commodore Perry, was also helpful to

level down invidious social distinctions . The sympathy which

always interconnected the mercantile community and the local

garrison, became specially conspicuous when , in 1848 , sickness

made such frightful ravages among the troops. The kindness

then shown , particularly by the firm of Jardine, Matheson & Co.,

to the non-commissioned officers and men of the 95th Regiment ,

was acknowledged on the part of the latter by the presentation,

to the head of that firm, of a memorial cup (February, 1849 ) .

The growingly cosmopolitan tone of public feeling in Hongkong

was evidenced by the universal approval given to the salute

which the British men-of-war in harbour fired on July 4, 1851 ,

in memory of the Declaration of the Independence of the

United States .

At the beginning of Sir G. Bonham's administration, a

Colonial Hospital was organised ( October 1 , 1848 ) and the

new Government offices (close to the Cathedral) completed

(November 10, 1848 ) . But with the exception of the erection

of a new Government House ( 1850 to 1853) , no other public


works of any pretension were undertaken . On August 8 , 1848 ,

a stirring paper from the pen of Dr. Gützlaff was read at a

meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society, advocating the advantages

to be derived from the establishment of a Botanical Garden

in Hongkong. ' A Committee was forthwith appointed to make

inquiries as to the best site and cost of the undertaking . The

Government was also approached on the subject which was

warmly applauded on all sides. But financial considerations

caused Sir G. Bonham to postpone the execution of the scheme.

The private organisation (August , 1848 ) of the Victoria Library

and Reading Rooms (which laid the foundation for a future

public library) and the existence throughout this period of three

local newspapers and two advertisers, testified to the continuance

of a literary as well as commercial spirit in the Colony. The

temporary stay of Dr. Bowring in Hongkong ( 1852 to 1853)

fanned the languishing energies of the Royal Asiatic Society

into a new flame. Masonic pursuits were popularized by the

elaborate solemnity of laying the foundation stone ( February

1, 1853 ) of the Masonic Hall, under the direction of the

Provincial Grand Master (S. Rawson) of British Masons in


Few but serious calamities marred the general prosperity

which characterized this period . A storm of unusual violence,

the severest since 1841 , swept over Hongkong on August 31

and September 1 , 1848. The barometer fell as low as 28-84

but the wind did not attain to full typhoon force . Although

timely warning had been given by the Harbour Master, the

shipping suffered severely. Thirteen vessels in harbour were

damaged or wrecked and a considerable loss of life and property

ensued. House property on shore, and the troop-ships in the

harbour ( filled with men who had been removed on board to

escape the fever) , suffered but little damage. The storm was

far more destructive in Macao and Canton than in Hongkong.

On December 28, 1851 , one of the greatest conflagrations

occurred that Hongkong ever experienced . During a strong

gale, a fire broke out near the Sheungwan market and, in spite


of heroic efforts made by the Royal Engineers under the personal

direction of Major- General Jervois to stay the fire, 472 Chinese

houses, north of Queen's Road, between the present Fire Brigade-

Station in the East and the P. & O. Company's godowns in

the West, were entirely destroyed and thirty lives lost. Liberal

aid was afforded by Governor Bonham in housing the burnt-

out people and the crown rents of properties concerned were

temporarily abated. The whole district was speedily rebuilt with

considerable improvements. A new town sprang up in the place

and the most eastern and the most western of the new streets

were respectively named Jervois Street and Bonham Strand, the

latter being laid out on land newly reclaimed from the sea.

The obituary of this period includes, among others, the

names of Dr. and Mrs. James (April, 1848), Rear- Admiral Sir

Francis A. Collier, C.B. (October 28, 1849 ) , Captain Troubridge

(above mentioned), Macao's famous painter Chinnerey (May 30,

1852) , Mrs. J. T. M. Legge (October 17 , 1852) and Dr. Gützlaff

(August 9 , 1854 ) .

A survey of Sir George Bonham's administration clearly

marks him out as the first model Governor of Hongkong. The

renewed prosperity of the Colony, that set in with his regime,

was indeed principally due to a fortunate combination of events

quite beyond his control. But whilst it never is in the power

of a Governor to create prosperity, he has it in his power to

hinder, mar and destroy it. Sir George, when convinced that

he might gain for himself the glory of making the Colony for

the first time financially self-supporting by an increase of

taxation which he knew to be practicable, refrained from forcing

his views upon the community in deference to public feeling.

He was the first Governor of Hongkong who, basing his action

on the programme sketched out by the Parliamentary Committee.

of 1847 , administered the government of this Crown Colony on

popularly recognized principles, systematically sacrificing his

individual views and his personal advancement to the welfare

of the common weal. Both as a diplomatist and as a governor,

Sir George was an unqualified success .


Detractors of his merits were not wanting. The Hongkong

public man is nothing if not severely critical. A small opposition

party in the Colony, whilst fully admitting the affability,

hospitality, liberality and gentlemanly bearing of Governor

Bonham, alleged- that he systematically favoured Consular

Courts at the expense of the local Supreme Court ; that he lost

no opportunity of curtailing the powers of the latter and did

nothing to make good the glaring deficiencies of Court inter-

pretation ; that his ignorance of the shipping resources of the

Colony was on a par with his perfect indifference regarding

them ; that he arbitrarily created a set of pampered aristocrats

and, whilst cajoling them by pretending to consult their views

in minor affairs, ignored them concerning more weighty matters

such as the regulation of emigration ; that his conduct regarding

the currency was impolitic and disgraceful, violating a

Government proclamation (May 5 , 1845 ) that had regulated

the currency since the Island was ceded , because forsooth

the Chief Justice expressed an opinion that the proclamation

was illegal ; that his constant endeavour was to do away with the

Commissariat Treasury department, because it was not under his

control ; that he did nothing to assist the Post Office because

it was independent of him, though the Postmaster did good

service by establishing branch-offices at the Treaty ports ; that

he allowed the Police Force to sink into the most wretched

and ineffective condition such as admitted of robberies occurring

nightly and people being often knocked down in the centre

of the town in the middle of the day ; that the place had been

blockaded by pirates and nothing had been done except by fits

and starts when a smart man-of-war happened to be here ;

that in fine Sir George had been a useless governor, purely

ornamental, highly decorated and extravagantly paid.

On the other hand, when Sir George Bonham went on

furlough (March 25 , 1852) , the leading merchants of the Colony

(David Jardine, Wilkinson Dent, C. J. F. Stuart, and George

Lyall) presented him with an address signed by all the local

British firms of any standing (35 in number) . This address


expressed the satisfaction felt by the community with the

Governor's general administration and stated that the changes

made in the administration of justice had gained him the

confidence of all and particularly of the Chinese community,

improving the latter and increasing native trade. The address

also acknowledged that Sir George's social qualities had produced

general harmony and confidence . Again, in 1854, when Sir

George Bonham finally left the Colony, another public address,

as numerously signed as the previous one, was presented to him

(April 7 , 1854) . This farewell memorial gave Sir George the

renewed assurance of the general confidence reposed in his

administration, and referred to important and beneficial changes,

introduced by him, which had promoted the general interest.

The same merchants who six years before had assured Sir J.

Davis that the Colony was ruined, lauded Sir G. Bonham on

the ground that the evidence of the increased prosperity of the

Colony was now quite apparent. They pointed to the new town

(Bonham Strand) which had sprung up with remarkable rapidity

and contributed to the large increase of the native population.

In conclusion this address stated that the friendly intercourse

which had subsisted between Governor Bonham and the com-

munity would leave a lasting memorial of the high estimation

in which he had been held .

Nevertheless this model Governor, the first really popular

and successful one of the Colony's rulers, was soon forgotten

by the fluctuating community. In modern Hongkong , Sir

George Bonham is about the least known of its former governors.

Her Majesty's Government also bestowed no further honours

on the man who had done such credit to Lord Palmerston's

selection . Sir George Bonham died in 1863, leaving his greatness

to appeal to the future for the recognition it deserves.



A.D. 1634 to 1854.

THE THE period covered by the administration of Sir G. Bonhanr

clearly marks, when compared with the preceding epochs,

a turning point in the history of Hongkong. The reader who

cares only for a detailed record of the most noteworthy facts and

events connected with the history of Hongkong, will readily

dispense with this chapter and hurry on to the next . But he

who would understand that history in itself, discern its inner

workings and decipher its deeper import, so as to study the

history of Hongkong in the light of cause and effect, may well

pause at this point for a brief survey of the facts presented in

the preceding chapters.

The Island of Hongkong, it will have been observed, was

even in its pre-British times an eccentric vantage point. It

never was so much of an integral portion of Asia as to be of

any practical moment to the Chinese political or social organism .

Its very name was unknown to the topographers or statesmen

of China and men had to come from the Far West to give it a

name in the history of the East. Its situation at the farthest

south-east point of the Chinese Empire, in line with the British

Possessions in Africa, India and North-America, constituted it a

natural Anglo-Chinese outstation in the Pacific. Hongkong

never belonged naturally either to Asia or to Europe, but was

plainly destined in God's providence to form the connecting

link for both.

As the place so its people. Ever since the first dawning

of its known history, Hongkong was the refuge of the oppressed

from among the nations. The Hakkas ill-treated by the Puntis,


the Puntis Tie-chius and Tan-ka people weary of the yoke of

mandarindom, as well as the Chinese Emperor fleeing before

the ruthless Tartar invaders, the industrious Chinese settler as

well as the roving pirate, and finally the British merchant

self- exiled from Europe finding his personal and national self-

respect trampled under foot by Manchu-Chinese tyrants -all

turned, with hesitating reluctance but impelled by resistless fate ,

to the Island of Hongkong as the haven of refuge, the home

of the free.

It was not in the nature of things that Hongkong should

at once become a paradise of liberty . It was not to be expected

that the seekers of liberty, self-expatriated from the antipodes

of the West and the East yet with the love of their respective

national homes fresh in their hearts, would either be left

undisturbed from without or consolidate otherwise than by years

of internal friction into one political and social organism within

the Colony. A stormy career, war without and dissensions

within, yet real though slow growth withal and eventual power

radiating from a healthful centre of innate Anglo- Saxon vitality,

was what the seer gifted with power to look into the future might

have predicted as the fate in store for this phenomenal Anglo-

Chinese Colony in the Far East.

Searching deeper still into the underlying causes of this

Eurasian phenomenon, it will be seen that the evolution of

the Colony of Hongkong was in reality the product of a quasi

marriage-alliance between Europe and Asia, concluded at Canton

(after 1634 A.D. ) between the East India Company and the

Chinese Government . But this international union carelessly

entered upon was characterized, in the course of the next two

centuries, by a deep-seated and growingly manifested incompati-

bility of temper, such as made Anglo-Chinese international life

at Canton a burden too heavy to be borne by either nation .

British free trade notions based on the assumption of international

equality could not remain in wedlock with China's iron rule

of monopoly based on the claim of political supremacy over

the universe. The crisis came when that claim was confronted



(A.D. 1833) by an Act of Parliament establishing British

authority in the East and by the substitution ( A.D. 1834)

of an independent community of lusty free traders for the servile

and effete East India Company. The domestic alliance contracted

after A.D. 1634 between Europe and Asia on terms so

humiliating for the former, was bound to result in a temporary

divorce. That divorce was solemnly and emphatically pro-

nounced, though with patent unwillingness, by Commissioner

Lin ( A.D. 1839) acting on behalf of Asia, whereupon Captain

Elliot, acting as the representative of Europe, secured Hongkong

as a cradle for the offspring of that unhappy union (born A.D.

1841 ) , that is to say for the Colony whose divine destiny it

is to reconcile its parents hereafter in a happier reunion by a

due subordination of Asia to Europe. The elder shall serve

the younger and be taught to love and obey -such is the

historic problem which Hongkong has to solve in the dim


This conception of Hongkong as the vantage point from

which the Anglo - Saxon race has to work out its divine mission of

promoting the civilization of Europe in the East, and establishing

the rule of constitutional liberty on the continent of Asia and

on the main of the Pacific, is not a mere fancy. However

imperfectly the problem may have been stated here, the foregoing

remarks undoubtedly contain an approximate formulation of a

true historic lesson which he who runs may read. Now this

lesson, however it may be modified and amended by a critical

reader, provides the student of the history of Hongkong with

a definite standard by which he can measure the progress of

the Colony and judge the merits of its Governors at any

successive period. If the reader is once clear as to what it

is that the past history of Hongkong shews the purport of the

establishment of Hongkong to have been in the providence of

God, he will have no difficulty in determining, with regard

to the public measures or public men of any period , whether

they marred or promoted the Colony's progress towards fulfilling

its divine mission.


It appears then from this point of view that the Colony

of Hongkong, the offspring of a union between Europe and Asia,

ushered into the world in the year 1841 , was nursed by brave

Captain Elliot in the cradle of liberty and free trade, solemnly

christened at Nanking, in 1842, by the despotic autocrat, Sir

H. Pottinger, weaned from 1844 to 1848 by pedantic Sir

J. Davis amid an amount of tempest and strife which made

the empoverished Colonial nursery resound with cries for

representative government and with groans condemnatory of

monopoly, until Parliament stepped in (in 1847 ) and laid down

the programme on which the schooling of the young fledgeling

was accordingly conducted by Sir G. Bonham, who gave the

Colony its first common-sense instructions in the A- B- C of

constitutional government. In other words, of the first four

Governors of Hongkong only Captain Elliot and Sir G. Bonham

appear to have read aright the lessons of the past history of

British intercourse with China and to have applied those lessons

correctly to the establishment of the Colony of Hongkong.

To begin with Captain Elliot, he seems to have recognized

or at any rate acted upon the following principles- ( 1 ) that

Hongkong must be regarded in the first instance as a point from

which should radiate the general influence of Europe upon Asia ;

(2 ) that it is therefore of primary importance to maintain at

Hongkong British supremacy ris à vis Chinese mandarindom ;

(3) that the settlement on Hongkong must be treated rather

as a station for the protection of British trade in the Far East

in general than as a Colony in the ordinary sense of the word,

that is to say that Hongkong is in truth neither a mere Crown

Colony acquired by war nor a Colony formed by productive

settlement ; (4) that the Colony of Hongkong can be made

to prosper only by keeping sacredly inviolate its free trade

palladium and by governing the colonists on principles of

constitutional liberty. Unfortunately Captain Elliot was recalled

before he could give full effect to these fundamental principles.

But that he established the Colony on this basis redounds to

his honour.



It was even more unfortunate that Captain Elliot's successors,

Sir H. Pottinger and Sir J. Davis, pursued a policy which,

while theoretically accepting the first of those propositions,

virtually ran counter to all of them. It is quite possible that

the recall of Captain Elliot implied a condemnation on the

part of the Colonial Office of the above stated propositions rather

than of his Palmerstonian war policy, and that the contrary

principles adopted by Elliot's successors originated with the

Downing Street Authorities rather than with themselves. But

if so, it is remarkable that both Sir H. Pottinger and Sir J.

Davis appear to have carried out con amore those pernicious

instructions and to have personally identified themselves with

the autocratic and protectionist spirit that must have governed

the authors of those instructions whoever they were. Sir H.

Pottinger, indeed, gloriously maintained, while the British army

and navy were at work, the ascendancy of Europe in Asia ,

but, the moment the sword was sheathed, he allowed Mandarin

duplicity and arrogance to cajole him so as to surrender one

and all of the principles established by Captain Elliot. Sir

H. Pottinger thought so highly of Chinese officials and so badly

of British merchants that, for very fear of furthering the

interests of opiam dealers and smugglers, he shrank from

maintaining free trade principles. In result , he preferred to

allow the Cantonese Authorities to frame regulations for

Hongkong's commerce which effectually strangled it . Moreover,

whilst thus sacrificing the liberty and prosperity of British

commerce, Sir H. Pottinger, though in the Nanking Treaty he

had defined Hongkong as a mere naval station for careening and

refitting British ships, governed the settlers as if Hongkong

were a regular Colony bound to maintain by taxes an extrav-

agantly expensive official establishment, and yet refused to give

them any representation or voice whatsoever in a Council which

autocratically disposed of the taxpayers' money. Sir J. Davis,

specially selected as the trained tool of Mandarin autocracy

and monopoly, not only followed in the footsteps of his

predecessor, but went even farther in violation of the principles


which had guided Captain ElliotElliot.. By his Triad Society's

Ordinance he sacrificed the rudimentary principles of European

civilization and the British axiom of the liberty of the subject

to a cringing subservience of the aims of Mandarin tyranny

in its most barbaric aspects. By his buccaneering expedition

of April, 1847 , he injured British prestige in the East even

more than his predecessor had ever done. By his monopolies

and farms and petty regulations he hampered and injured the

foreign and native commerce of the Colony and nullified the

freedom of the port . The result of the misgovernment, initiated

by Sir H. Pottinger and continued by Sir J. Davis, was that

Parliament had to step in to warn the Colonial Office against

the mischievous policy pursued at Hongkong, and to rescue the

Colony from plainly and imminently impending ruin by a return

to the principles established by Captain Elliot. Let the reader

who doubts the soundness of the above analysis of Hongkong's

early history ponder the incontrovertible fact that the policy

of autocracy, monopoly and protectionism, pursued by Sir H.

Pottinger and Sir J. Davis, not only drove commerce away from

Hongkong and made the Colony contemptible in the eyes of the

Chinese, but brought the settlement to the verge of commercial

and financial ruin and delivered British commerce at Hongkong ,

under the shadow of the British flag, into a bondage of Chinese

mandarindom, as effective, as despicable and as galling as that

under which the East India Company and the British free

traders ever groaned whilst located at Canton . What stayed off

the impending ruin was a reversion to the principles of Elliot.

The foregoing remarks may serve to show that the formula-

tion, by the Parliamentary Committee of 1847 , of the programme

essential for Hongkong's prosperity, was but a comprehensive

re-statement of the principles which led to and guided the

original establishment of the Colony. Those principles, discarded

for a while by Sir H. Pottinger and Sir J. Davis to the Colony's

manifest injury, were re-introduced by Sir G. Bonham who

conformed his administration to those principles, though he

did not agree with all the propositions which the Parliamentary


Committee had deduced therefrom . Sir G. Bonham's administra-

tion stands thus connected positively with that of Captain Elliot

and negatively with that of Sir H. Pottinger and Sir J. Davis..

This view comprehends, in one organic process, the whole period

from 1841 to 1854 as the first epoch in the pragmatic history

of Hongkong. It also gives its due importance to the

administration of Sir G. Bonham which, as it was with regard

to the misrule of his two predecessors, the grave of the past ,.

was at the same time, by the restoration of Elliot's vital

principles, the cradle of the future.

What constitutes, therefore, the close of Sir G. Bonham's

administration as one of the great turning points in the history

of the Colony is this, that by this time both the colonists and

the Colonial Office had attained to the clear consciousness of

Hongkong's mission as the representative of free trade in the

East and of the need of some sort of representative government .

An equally clear apprehension of the difficulties standing in

the way of a practical realisation of this ideal was not wanting.

But the recognition of the ideal itself was now established.

This was for the young Colony what the first effulgence of

personal self-consciousness is in the evolution of the human

mind. Autocratic despotism, protectionism and monopoly, were

now doomed , in principle at least . The commercial and financial

prosperity of Hongkong was now, though not perfected yet ,

virtually established . A definite prospect of the Colony becom-

ing soon absolutely self-supporting, was now looming within

measurable distance. And as to Hongkong's exercising, on

behalf of Europe, a civilizing influence upon the adjoining

continent of Asia, the colonists and their rulers could well

trust to the natural course of events to work out that problem.

A British Colony thus firmly established in Asia, on the root

principles of European liberty, was and is sure to play, in the

drama of the future, such a part as will illustrate, in the sight of

Asia, the superiority of British over Chinese forms of civilization.

and government and make Hongkong for all times the bulwark

of the cause of Europe in the East.



April 13, 1854, to May 5, 1859.

DURING the ten months of Sir G. Bonham's absence on

furlough (1852 to 1853) , while Major- General Jervois

administered the government of the Colony, the affairs of the

Superintendency of Trade were, as mentioned above, separately

attended to by H.M. Consul of Canton who, for this purpose,

temporarily resided at Government House, Hongkong. That

Consul and Acting Chief- Superintendent of British Trade in

China was Dr. Bowring.

He had previously gained for himself a measure of European

renown and the verdict of public opinion was, to use the words

of his own epigrammatic critique of Byron, that more could be

said of his genius than of his character. Dr. Bowring's natural

abilities were marked by great versatility but appeared to lack in

depth. Starting in commercial life and having occupied several

responsible posts on the Continent, he distinguished himself as

a linguist, as a racy translator of foreign literature, as the author

of promiscuous pamphlets on commerce, finance, and political

economy, and as a member of numerous Literary Societies.

So great was his literary and political reputation , that, when

the Westminster Review was started (1824) to expound the

doctrines of the so-called philosophical radicals, headed by

Jeremy Bentham, and to advocate the views of the advanced

liberal party, he was chosen as first editor and successfully held

the office for many years in conjunction with H. Southern .

During Earl Grey's Ministry, the Government also recognized

his abilities and employed him repeatedly, first as Secretary

to a Commission for investigating the public accounts, and


on subsequent occasions in connection with Commercial Treaties

concluded with France, the Zoll -Verein, the Levant and Holland .

Whilst in Holland, he received ( 1829) from the Academy of

Groningen the honorary title of Doctor Literarum Humaniorum.

In the year 1833 he entered Parliament as Member for

Kilmarnock ( 1833 to 1837 ) and, after three unsuccessful contests

for Blackburn and Kirkcaldy, sat for seven years for Bolton

( 1841 to 1849 ) . During this period he directed ( in 1846 )

the attention of the Ministry to alleged illegal flogging in

Hongkong and took, as a member of the Parliamentary

Committee of 1847 , a prominent part in the inquiry into

Hongkong affairs and British relations with China . He was

also for a number of years President of the Peace Society

(established since 1816 ) which labours to procure universal

disarmament and the substitution of international arbitration

for war. Earl Clarendon and Lord Palmerston thought highly

of Dr. Bowring and always remained his staunch supporters.

Owing to financial reverses, however, Dr. Bowring had to seek

a lucrative post and accepted, in January 1849 , a Consular

appointment. Lord Palmerston,' he says in his autobiography,

offered me the Consulship of Canton where diplomatic questions

with the Central Kingdom were discussed . ' His actual occu-

pations in Canton were, however, of a disenchantingly humble

description and even during his short tenure of the Acting

Superintendency in 1852, he disdained the limits of his little

reign and considered himself a disappointed man . However,

he adhered to Sir G. Bonham's policy, ruled in peace over

the few Consular stations and abstained, while in Hongkong,

from all interference with the affairs of the Colony, beyond

resuscitating by sundry sinological contributions and by the

inspiration of his personal presence the moribund Hongkong

Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. One of the most valuable

papers he wrote at this time is his dispatch to Lord Clarendon

of April 19, 1852, in which he correctly and lucidly summed

up the policy of the Chinese Government, during the preceding

ten years, as one of unflinching hostility and shewed the


essential incompatibility of British and Chinese aims in the

Far East.

On the return of Sir G. Bonham, Dr. Bowring, instead of

resuming his duties at Canton, went on furlough (February 16 ,

1853 ) and returned by way of Java to England . There he

secured for himself the long coveted appointment to the double

office of H.M. Plenipotentiary in China and Governor of

Hongkong. On December 24, 1853, he was created by Her

Majesty a Knight Bachelor and a warrant issued which, while

making provision for the eventual separation of the office of

Chief- Superintendent of Trade from the Governorship of Hong-

kong, appointed Sir John Bowring to be H.M. Plenipotentiary

and Chief-Superintendent of Trade, as well as Governor of

Hongkong and its Dependencies and Commander-in-Chief and

Vice-Admiral of the same. When Sir John received (February

13, 1854) his instructions under this warrant, and found himself

also authorized to arrange for a commercial treaty with Siam,

he felt his greatness overpowering him. To China I went,'

says Sir John, as the representative of the Queen, and was

accredited not to Peking alone but to Japan, Siam, China and

Corea, I believe to a greater number of beings (indeed no less

than a third of the race of man) than any individual had been

accredited before .' Thus, bearing his blushing honours thick

upon him, he sailed to China with the sound of glory ringing

in his ears.

When he arrived in Hongkong (April 13, 1854), where he

had Colonel W. Caine for his Lieutenant- Governor and the Hon.

W. T. Mercer for his Colonial Secretary, he found the community

contented and the Civil Service still free from any dissension.

The residents were certainly not enamoured with their new

Governor but, though they attributed to him an inordinate

anxiety for self-glorification, humorously saying that he had

come back big with the fate of China and himself, there was no

ill-will against him. Stirring times were certainly approaching.

Within a fortnight of his arrival in Hongkong, Sir John

received the news of the declaration of war (March 28, 1854)


against Russia. Immediately he started off, with the Admiral

(Sir James Stirling) for Chusan, hoping to intercept the Russian

fleet under the command of Count Pontiatin. It was a wild

goose chase. The Russians had left for regions unknown.

Meanwhile the fear of a Russian descent upon Hongkong grew

apace among the residents. Indeed fear developed into panic

(June 3 , 1854) when the Lieutenant- Governor announced the

defenceless condition of the Colony and in hot haste ordered

batteries to be erected . Nothing came of it, however, as the

combined Anglo-French squadron kept the Russians at bay on

the Siberian coast. The port of Petropaulowsky was bombarded

(September 1 , 1854) but the land attack failed. The allied fleet,

consisting only of six vessels, was too weak for any purpose

but that of harrassing the Russian outposts. The Governor

returned inglorious . But Hongkong patriotism vented itself

in a public meeting (February 21 , 1855) which resulted in an

amalgamation of sundry private subscriptions that had been

commenced, and sums of money eventually aggregating £2,500

were forwarded to the Patriotic Fund in London. This was


done as a testimony of the admiration felt in the Colony for

the heroic deeds of the British Army and Navy engaged in what

was called ' the noble struggle against Russian aggression ' and

of Hongkong's sympathy with the sufferings consequent thereon .

In addition to this, a patriotic address to the Queen was

dispatched (March 15 , 1855 ) declaring the approval of the

community of the war against Russia and of the alliance entered

into with the great French Empire,' and expressing a hope

that this contest so unavoidably taken up would be vigorously

pursued. The excitement was renewed when news came that

the Hon. Ch. G. J. B. Elliot, in command of H.M. Ships Sibylle,

Hornet, and Bittern, having discovered five Russian vessels in

hiding in Castries Bay, had sneaked away, to the disgust of his

subordinate officers, not daring to engage the Russians. The

matter became afterwards the subject of a court martial in

England which exculpated the commander of the squadron .

The only event in the Russian war that affected Hongkong


directly was the arrival in the harbour (September 21 , 1855 )

of the German brig Greta in charge of a prize crew of H.M.S.

Barracouta with 270 Russian prisoners of war and among them

Prince Michaeloff. These were the officers and men of the

Russian frigate Diana which had been wrecked at Japan. The

Greta, having been chartered to convey the Russians from Simoda

to Ayen was captured by Admiral Stirling. In November

(1855 ) , the Vice-Admiralty Court of Hongkong condemned the

vessel as a lawful prize to H.M.S. Barracouta. Great was the

rejoicing when the news of the restoration of peace with Russia

was received (June 26 , 1856 ) . All the ships in harbour were

dressed in their gayest, salutes were fired, and thanksgiving

services were held in Union Church (July 2, 1856) and on the

following Sunday in the Cathedral.

Siam next claimed the attention of Sir J. Bowring. The

British Government had long been anxious, in the interests of

commerce, to conclude a treaty with Siam, but repeated attempts

made in this direction by the Governor-General of India and

subsequently (1850) by Sir James Brooke of Sarawak had failed .

The United States of America also had been foiled in their

endeavour to open up Siam to foreign trade. Sir J. Bowring

now tried his hand and succeeded where greater men had signally

failed . He began by opening up a private literary correspondence

with the young King who had received a European education

and, being a kindred spirit likewise endowed with belletristic

aspirations, was fascinated by the learned doctor's fame as a

literary genius. Consequently, in reply to Sir John's overtures

of literary brotherhood, there arrived in Hongkong (August 12,

1854) two envoys from Siam, bearers of a royal dispatch. Sir

John adroitly arranged through these envoys an official visit

as a proper compliment in return for the favour of a royal

missive. Fortunate as he had been so far, he was even more

favoured by fortune in securing for this delicate mission , the-

utter failure of which was confidently predicted on all sides,

the services of that astute young diplomatist, Mr. (subsequently

Sir) Harry Parkes of the Canton Consulate. Great was the


need for diplomacy. There was a strong party at the Siamese

Court, determined to make no concessions to foreign commerce.

Sir John, therefore, starting for Siam in February, 1855, with

but two vessels of war, avoided all display and went to work

with the utmost caution. But the promptitude with which

every obstacle, that the opposition party placed in the way of

the mission, was astutely brushed away, was partly owing to the

resource and acumen displayed by Sir Harry Parkes. Within

an unexpectedly short period all preliminaries were settled and

an important commercial treaty solemnly concluded (April 18,

1855) . Sir J. Bowring returned to Hongkong victorious (May

11 , 1855 ) while Sir Harry Parkes proceeded to England to

obtain Her Majesty's signature and a year later the ratified

treaties were exchanged ( April 5 , 1856 ) and supplementary

articles signed ( May 13 , 1856 ) . The great progress which Siam

thenceforth made in commerce and civilization and the annually

increasing trade which at once sprang up between Siam and

Hongkong, date from the conclusion of these treaties, the success

of which is in the first instance due to Sir John Bowring.

During his brief tenure of the Superintendency of Trade.

Sir John devised, and succeeded in persuading the Earl of

Clarendon (in 1854) to adopt, a scheme which has not only

endured to the present day but formed the model of Consular

organization followed by other nations, and was finally introduced

in Hongkong (by Sir H. Robinson) as a Cadet scheme . It

was a scheme for supplying the British Consular Service in

China with Student Interpreters who, while studying the

Mandarin dialect and the written language of China, should make

themselves acquainted with the routine of Consular business.

In sanctioning the immediate adoption of Sir J. Bowring's plan,

the Earl of Clarendon forthwith presented one nomination to

King's College, London, and one to each of the three Queen's

Colleges in Ireland.

In his relations with the Chinese Government the learned

doctor was unfortunate. His experience in the negotiation and

formulation of commercial treaties, which had proved so


eminently successful in Siam, gave him no advantage in contact

with a nation that despised trade. As to literary affinities,

there was nothing but contempt on the Chinese side. The

doctor's gown of Groningen, which captivated the Siamese

King, appeared ridiculous in the eyes of Chinese Mandarins

whenever he displayed it before them. The most ingenious

and persistent efforts which he put forth to open up personal

relations with high Chinese officials invariably met with a stolid

rebuff. Sir John saw this very soon but, ignorant yet of the

utter futility of peaceful measures, he attempted to gain by

direct intercourse with the Court at Peking what he had failed

to obtain at the hands of provincial dignitaries . Accordingly

he started (September 16, 1854 ) in H.M.S. Rattler for Shanghai,

in company with the French Minister M. Bourbillon, leaving

Mr. D. B. Robertson in charge of the Superintendency of Trade

at Hongkong, while Colonel W. Caine acted, as before, as

Lieutenant-Governor. After some consultations held at Shanghai ,

Sir John, the U.S. Minister McLane and M. Bourbillon's

Secretary proceeded , with H.M.S. Rattler and U.S.S. Powhattan,

to the mouth of the Peiho where a conference, vainly expected

to result in the opening up of direct negotiations with Peking ,

had been arranged with deputies of the Viceroy of Chihli .

Beyond the opportunity which the foreign Ministers bere had

of stating their wishes, ventilating their grievances and hinting

at intervention in aid of the suppression of the Taiping rebellion,

this move was absolutely futile. On their return to Shanghai ,

the Ministers observed the strictest silence as to the results of

their conference at the Peiho. Undeterred by this failure, Sir

John was, two years later (October, 1856 ) , on the point of

starting on a second visit to the Gulf of Pehchihli, when troubles

arose at Canton. But of these later on.

Sir John and the other Ministers had thought they might

possibly succeed in securing direct diplomatic intercourse with

Peking, without the pressure of an armed demonstration, because

the Imperial Government was at this time hardly pressed by

the progress of the Taiping rebellion and supposed to be secretly


desirous of foreign intervention. Sir John, following the example

of his predecessor, and having sent Consular Officers to Chinkiang

and Nanking (September, 1854) to report to him upon the

stability, resources and prospects of the Rebel Dynasty, came

to the conclusion that the Rebel Government was a gigantic

imposture. Hence he concluded that the interests of British

commerce in the East demanded an abandonment of the

neutrality insisted upon by the Foreign Office and he vainly

hoped to secure the opening up of China to foreign trade by

the offer of foreign intervention . In taking this view, Sir John

ran counter to a party powerfully represented in China and in

England by Bishop Smith and the Missionary Societies whose

views were at the time efficiently advocated by a Consular

Officer (T. T. Meadows) . If the Taipings,' wrote Mr. Meadows,

were to succeed, then 480 millions of human beings out of 900

millions that inhabit the earth would profess Christianity and

take the Bible as the standard of their belief.' That Sir John,

with his conviction of being accredited, as the Queen's

representative, to so great a portion of the human race, resisted

the temptation of posing as the apostle of the much belauded

Taiping cause does credit to his sagacity. But that the ex-

President of the Peace Society should think of putting the

sword of Great Britain into the scale against the so-called

Christian Taipings and eventually draw the sword against the

ruling Manchus, was an anomaly which, while it caused his

fanatical opponents in China to slander him as being an atheist,

alienated from him the attachment of his calm political friends

in England .

Meanwhile the Taiping rebels continued their depredations

in the central and southern provinces of China. In July, 1854,

the city of Fatshan (the Birmingham of South-China) fell into

their hands and a panic broke out in Canton (July 20 , 1854)

resulting in a general exodus of the wealthier classes. Crowds

of fugitives took refuge in Hongkong . Kowloon city, opposite

Hongkong, was at the end of September, 1854, repeatedly

taken and retaken by the Rebels and the Imperialists. The


former closed in upon Canton from all sides and commenced

a blockade of the Canton River which caused the junk trade of

Canton city to migrate for a time to Hongkong. Owing to

the general increase of piracy and the facilities for smuggling

afforded by the general paralysis of the Imperial revenue service,

there sprang up in Hongkong a strong demand for small

European vessels (lorchas ) which were chartered or purchased

by local Chinese firms to convoy fleets of junks or to engage

in an irregular coasting trade. Sir J. Bowring fostered this

movement by passing two Ordinances ( No. 4 of 1855 and No. 9

of 1856) which granted a Colonial register, and the use of the

British flag, to vessels owned by such Chinese residents as were

registered lessees of Crown lands within the Colony. The

capture, by the Taipings, of the Hoifung and Lukfung district

cities (in the N.E. of Hongkong) in September, 1854, seriously

interfered, for a time, with the market supplies of the Colony.

Armed bands of Taipings also paraded the streets occasionally ,

until the police (December 21 , 1854) stopped it by arresting,

in the Lower Bazaar, several hundred armed Rebels who were

about to embark to attack Kowloon city. About the same

time, the Governor issued a Neutrality Ordinance (No. 1 of

1855) to regulate the exclusion from the harbour of armed

vessels under the contending Chinese flags and the manufacture

and sale of arms and ammunition. Since September, 1854,

there was at anchor in the harbour a fleet of war-junks under

the command of an alleged prince ( Hung Seu-tsung) of the

Taiping Dynasty who, with his officers, fraternized with the

local Chinese Christians and some of the Missionaries . More

than a week elapsed after the passing of that Ordinance without

its being acted upon and meanwhile the Colony narrowly escaped

(January 23 , 1855 ) the danger of a naval battle being waged

in the harbour, as nine war-junks, carrying 2,000 Imperialist

soldiers, arrived and anchored west of the Lower Bazaar whilst

a large number of Taiping war-junks were lying close to the

Hospital-ship Minden. After much delay, however, both parties

were ordered off and peacefully departed in different directions.


The Taiping fleet returned to Hongkong in September, 1856,

when Hung Seu-tsung addressed a letter to the Governor, stating

that he had been commissioned by the Taiping Emperor to

reduce the Kwangtung province, and asking for permission to

charter in Hongkong steamers and junks to convey his troops

to Poklo whence they would start operations against the Manchu

troops. Sir John Bowring sent a copy of the letter to Viceroy

Yeh and vainly claimed some credit for having declined the

proposed alliance.

It is worthy of notice that the long continued successes

of the Taipings did not induce the Manchu Government to relax

its anti-European policy in the slightest degree. Repeatedly

did Sir John hint to the Canton Viceroy how valuable the

friendship of England might be to him. Again and again he

reminded the stolid Mandarin of an accumulation of unredressed

grievances owing to his incessant disregard of Treaty rights ,

and pressed him to concede at least a friendly interview for an

informal discussion of the situation . It was all in vain. When

Mr. (subsequently Sir) Rutherford Alcock was to be installed

in his office as H.M. Consul in Canton, Sir John wrote to

Viceroy Yeh (June 11 , 1854 ) and proposed to introduce the

Consul to him. Yeh left the dispatch unacknowledged for a

month and then informed Sir John unceremoniously that there

was no precedent for granting his request. At the close of

the same year, when the Taipings blockaded the Canton river

and defeated the Imperialist fleet (December 29 , 1854 ) in a

pitched battle at Whampoa, the proud Viceroy, in his hour of

distress, condescended to ask Sir John to protect Canton city

against the impending assault of the Taipings. Sir John

hastened to Canton with Admiral Stirling (January, 1855 )

and, under the pretext of protecting the lives and property of

British residents at Canton, took with him a large force

(H.M. Ships Winchester, Barracouta, Comus, Rattler and

Styx). This move had the desired effect of over-awing the

Taiping fleet which forthwith retired. But when Sir John

now once more asked Yeh for an interview and alluded to the


unfulfilled promise of the opening of Canton city, the ungrateful

Viceroy was as intractable as ever. The Earl of Clarendon had,

when giving Sir John his instructions ( February 13 , 1854) ,

specially warned him, ' to treat all questions of unrestricted inter-

course with the Chinese with much caution, so as not to imperil

commercial interests which, with temperate management, would

daily acquire greater extension .' But this policy of waiving at

Canton the rights granted to British residents and condoning

the insults incessantly offered to them by that proud city, did

no good with people like the Cantonese gentry. It merely

postponed the impending crisis and put off for a brief interval

the day of reckoning for years of continued breaches of Treaty

rights. Canton was now the only port in China where the

Nanking Treaty was systematically disregarded , and this was

done at Canton simply on account of the proximity of Hongkong.

The establishment of a British Colony at the mouth of the

Canton river was to the haughty Cantonese what German Alsatia

is to sensitive Frenchmen : a festering wound in their side, a

source of constant irritation.

Yeh Ming-shen, the successor of Seu Kwang-tsin in the

Imperial Commissionership and Viceroyalty at Canton and the

most faithful exponent of that Manchu policy which heeds none

but forcible lessons and is bound by none but material

guarantees. was the very man to bring the existing popular

irritation to a crisis . He was the idol of the gentry and literati

of Canton who had (in 1848 ) erected, in honour of Seu and

Yeh, a stone tablet recording their anthropophagous hatred of

Europeans in the following memorable words, whilst all the

common people yielded , as if bewitched, to all the inclinations of

the barbarians, only we of Canton , at Samyuenli ( 1841 ) have ever

destroyed them , and at Wongchukee ( 1847 ) cut them in pieces :

even our tender children are desirous to devour their flesh and

to sleep upon their skins.' Viceroy Yeh, the representative of this

party, hated the power, the commerce, the civilization of Europe

even more than any of his predecessors . He was not aggressive,

however, nor did he think it worth while to strengthen his



defences or his army. Yet he was determined to maintain the

supremacy of China over all barbarians. He blamed Seu for

having had too much parleying with Plenipotentiaries and

Consuls. He would have no interviews of any sort . He would

simply dictate his terms to them. As a matter of fact he never

granted an interview to any foreigner, though Sir John plied

him with arguments and Sir M. Seymour bombarded his

residence to obtain one, and he never met a European face to

face until that memorable day (January 5 , 1858 ) when his

apartments were unceremoniously burst into by the blue-jackets

of H.M.S. Sanspareil and he was, while climbing over a wall,

caught in the strong arms of Sir Astley Cooper Key whilst

Commodore Elliot's coxswain twisted the august tail of the

Imperial Commissioner round his fist.' But I am anticipating.

From the time of Yeh's assumption of office, the anti-

foreign attitude of the literati at Canton became more and more

pronounced . There was a brief lull in 1855 and 1856 while

the Taipings hovered around Canton city. But when the rebels

retreated, the gentry of Canton resumed their hostile demeanour.

Inflammatory anti- European placards and handbills were

distributed broadcast over the city and suburbs in summer

1856. Englishmen were stoned if they shewed themselves

anywhere outside the factories. It was felt on both sides that

an explosion was imminent. Yet neither side prepared for the

coming struggle.

Such was the position of affairs when, on 8th October,

1856 , the little incident occurred which gave rise to the famous

Arrow War. The Chinese Annalist tells the story in the following

words. The difficulty arose through a lorcha (named the

Arrow ), having an English captain and a Chinese crew, anchoring

off Canton with the Russian (sic) flag flying. Now the Nanking

Treaty provided for the surrender of such Chinese as shall take

refuge in Hongkong or on board English ships. When the

Chinese Naval Authorities became aware that the crew was

Chinese, a charge of being in collusion with barbarians was

preferred and twelve Chinese seamen were taken in chains into


Canton.' In reality, the facts were briefly these. Some Chinese

crown-lessees of Hongkong had legally purchased in Chinese

territory and from Chinese officials a small clipper-built vessel

(lorcha) which those officials had re- captured from Chinese

pirates. The purchasers, residents of Hongkong, brought the

vessel to the Colony, gave her the name Arrow, and in due form

obtained for her (in October, 1855) a Colonial register under

Ordinance No. 4 of 1855. As the original owners of the vessel

(whose rights the Chinese officials had set aside) brought an

action against the purchasers in the Supreme Court of Hongkong,

the ownership of the vessel was judicially established . The

Arrow was then employed in the legitimate coasting trade,

open to British ships, and thus visited the port of Canton, flying

the British flag, on 8th October, 1856. Although the renewal

of her register happened to be several days over-due. that did

not in law deprive her of her privileges as a British vessel. Nor

did the Chinese Authorities know of it . The unceremonious

arrest of her crew on the part of the Chinese Authorities on

the charge of collusion with barbarians ' and their refusal of

Consul Parkes' demand that the men be surrendered to him for

trial in the Consular Court (as required by the Treaty) , constitute

the indisputed facts of the case. The only point in which this

violation of Treaty rights differed from numerous previous acts

of the Cantonese Authorities was the fact that the arrest of

the crew involved in this case a deliberate insult to the British


To the Chinese merchants and shipowners residing in

Hongkong, the point in dispute appeared to be the question

whether their owning vessels, lawfully registered under a Hong-

kong Ordinance, made them liable to a charge of being in

collusion with barbarians. The Admiral on the station, Sir

Michael Seymour, rightly looked upon the case as an unprovoked

insult to the British flag, such as demanded an immediate

apology or redress . Sir John Bowring saw in this move of

the insolent Viceroy a good opportunity for settling the question

of official intercourse dear to himself and for securing the


promised opening of Canton city demanded by the merchants .

His Chinese advisers, Consul Parkes and Secretary Wade, saw

deeper and recognized in the case, not merely the old foolish

assumption of Chinese supremacy, but the unavoidable conflict

between Europe and Asia or (as Parkes put it at the time )

between Christian civilization and semi-civilized paganism. At

any rate, this much is perfectly clear, that, even if the Arrow

case had never occurred, hostilities would have broken out all

the same.

Sir J. Bowring commenced action by demanding (October

10 , 1856 ) a public surrender of the crew. This was refused .

He next demanded ( October 12th ) an apology. This was also

refused . Sir John then authorized the seizure (October 14th ) of

a Chinese gunboat . Yeh ridiculed such petty retribution and sent

word that the gunboat was not his at all. At last (October 21st )

Sir John solemnly threatened warlike operations unless an

apology was tendered and the crew restored to their vessel within

24 hours. Yeh sent the twelve men to the Consul with a

message that two of the men must be returned to him as they

were wanted , and refused an apology. Admiral Seymour now

stepped in and undertook to avenge the insult to the British flag.

He commenced by demanding of Yeh a formal apology and

access, for that purpose, into the city. When Yeh cartly refused

this demand, there commenced what was thenceforth known as

the Arrow War.

The Admiral demolished forthwith some Chinese forts

(October 23rd and 24th) , and, when this failed to impress the

stubborn Viceroy, the Admiral bombarded ( October 27th to 29th)

his official residence. Contrary to all expectation this measure

also failed to elicit an apology. Next the city wall opposite

Yeh's residence was breached (October 29th) , but Yeh, having

removed to a safe distance within the city, defied the Admiral

to do his worst, feeling sure that the handful of men under the

Admiral's order would not venture inside Canton city which the

literati and their trainbands had declared safe from invasion.

To move Yeh's colleagues, the Admiral bombarded (November


3rd to 5th) the official residences of the Civil Governor and of

the Tartar General. Yeh still held out. The Admiral destroyed

another fort (November 6th) and dismantled the Bogue forts

(November 12th and 13th) . But, when these measures also

Jeft the Viceroy as indomitable and intractable as ever, the

Admiral informed Sir John that, in the absence of troops.

nothing more could be done and retired to Hongkong, whence

he wrote home asking for a reinforcement of at least 5,000 meu .

Chinese and European residents of Hongkong were dismayed .

Now it was Yeh's turn to commence hostilities in his

own way. He had previously (October 28, 1856 ) put a price

of $ 30 on English heads. He now raised the reward to taels

100 per head, called upon the Chinese population of Hongkong

to leave the Colony immediately, and placarded the streets of

Hongkong and Canton with appeals to the people to avenge

his wrongs by any means whatever. In response to this appeal,

which had at first no effect in Hongkong, the Canton mob set

fire to the European factories at Canton (December 14, 1856)

and later on ( January, 1857 ) to the British docks and stores

at Whampoa.

In Hongkong, where Taiping rebels and professional pirates

and brigands had been making common cause under the aegis

of the local Triad societies, the European community was, ever

since the Arrow incident, pervaded by a growing sense of

insecurity . On 16th October, 1856, a public meeting, summoned

to consider matters seriously affecting the interests of the Colony,

bitterly complained of the total inefficiency of the Police Force

for the protection of life and property. Various forms of

registering the Chinese residents, so as to exclude all Chinese

whose honesty was not vonched for, were proposed and urged

upon the Government with the utmost confidence. Sir John ,

however, put no trust in the vouchers that would have been

produced and shrank from a measure the thorough execution

of which would have involved the forcible deportation of the

vast majority of the local Chinese residents . His refusal to

sanction any of the popular measures proposed by the British


community gave great offence and the irritation increased when

the fleet retreated from Canton, foiled by Yeh's obstinacy, and

more particularly when his placards appeared at every street 1

corner calling upon all loyal Chinese residents of Hongkong to

avenge his wrongs and to make war against all Europeans which

they could do only by dagger, poison or incendiarism. The

European community now felt the enemy lurking in their midst ,

the British flag successfully insulted, the navy defeated, the

Governor indifferent to their danger. What measures the

Governor did take, served only to increase the excitement which

now commenced to take hold of the community . On 30th

December, 1856 , a general rising of the mob being apprehended.

H.M.S. Acorn was anchored near the Central Market to overawe

the Chinese rowdies congregating in that neighbourhood . On

the same day an auxiliary Police Force was organized and an

attempt was made to enrol volunteers as special constables. The

new-year opened with the news that the S.S. Feima, having been

attacked by Chinese soldiers, was hulled in several places, and

that incendaries had been at work in different parts of the

town. The Governor now issued (January 6 , 1857 ) in great

haste a draft Ordinance for better securing the peace of the

Colony. But the measures it resorted to, greater stringency

as to night-pass regulations, deportation of suspected emissaries

or abettors of enemies and compulsory co-operation for the

extinction of fires, gave no satisfaction to the community in

the absence of a Draconic form of compulsory registration . It

was once more suggested that every Chinaman not carrying on

his person an official badge and registered voucher of his honesty

should be deported . The feeling of insecurity increased . Jardine

Matheson and Company found it necessary to obtain a detachment

of blue-jackets and marines to guard their premises, and the local

papers now published a ' daily chronicle of Chinese atrocities ."

Within the first fortnight of 1857 this chronicle contained daily

items of local outrages such as ' shooting of four men with fire

balls upon them ; temporary stupefaction of three Europeans

after eating poisoned soup ; discovery of a headless body in the


Wongnaichung valley ; firing matsheds on Crosby's premises in

Queen's Road Central ; capture of S.S. Thistle (January 13 ,

1857 ) by Chinese soldiers disguised as passengers , who murdered

eleven Europeans and several Chinese and burned the vessel.'

On the morning of January 15th, 1857 , a few hours before

the mail carrying to England the foregoing budget of news left

the harbour, the foreign community was seized by a general

panic, as at every European breakfast table there arose the

simultaneous cry of ' poison in the bread. Some 400 Europeans ,

partaking that morning of bread supplied by the E- sing bakery,

owned by a Heungshan man called Ab-lum , suffered more or

less from arsenical poisoning. Every 4 lb. loaf of white bread,

subsequently analysed at Woolwich (by F. A. Abel) , contained

grains 92 per cent. of white arsenic. Toasted bread contained

the smallest proportion ( 15 grains per cent . ) of poison, yet

4 ounces of it were found to contain 24 grains of arsenious acid .

Brown bread contained about 2 times and white bread about

6 times the quantity found in the toast . Those who ate least

suffered the most . Some, Lady Bowring for one, were delirious

for a time ; many had their health permanently injured ; all

received a severe nervous shock by the sudden consciousness

of being surrounded by assassins. No immediate death was

caused by this poisoning incident but some, as for instance

Lady Bowring, who had to return to England and failed to

recover, were evidently hurried into the grave by it. Even

after the lapse of a year (January 17 , 1858 ) the local papers

asserted, with reference to the death of a Mr. S. Drinker and

Captain Williams of the S.S. Lily, that their deaths had been

medically traced to the arsenic swallowed by them on the great

day of poisoning. On that memorable morning the excitement

was of course most intense. The medical men of the Colony,

whilst personally in agonies through the effects of the poison.

were hurrying from house to house, interrupted at every step

by frantic summons from all directions. Emetics were in urgent

request in every European family. Ah-lum, the baker, who

for some weeks previous had been worried by messages from the


Heungshan Mandarins to remove from Hongkong , had left

for Macao that morning with his wife and children , but they also

found themselves poisoned, and Ah-lum was returning voluntarily

to Hongkong when he was arrested . Strange to say, his work-

men did not run away even after the poison had taken effect,

but remained at the bakery until the police, after a delay of

many hours, came and arrested 51 men . As many as 42 of them

were kept for 20 consecutive days and nights on remand, in an

underground police cell, 15 feet square by 12 feet high. It was

thenceforth justly termed the Black Hole of Hongkong.' The

local papers seriously urged the Governor to have the whole

of the poisoning crew of E-sing's bakery strung up in front of

the shop where the scheme was concocted .' Justices of the

Peace, shrinking from the application of lynch law, entreated

the Governor to proclaim forthwith martial law and to deport

every Chinaman whose loyalty could not be vouched for.

Though every member of his family suffered from the poison,

Sir John remained calm and rejected all suggestions of hasty

measures. But to the eyes of the terror-stricken community

his firmness bore at the time the aspect of callous indifference.

When, by the end of the month, the excitement had somewhat

abated, the European residents still complained that nothing was

done by the Governor to assure public confidence against the

recurrence of a similar or worse catastrophe, and that the

deportation (to Hainan) of 123 prisoners, released owing to

the overcrowded state of the gaol, increased the general feeling

of insecurity.

The result of the criminal prosecution instituted against

Ah-lum and his workmen was equally unsatisfactory to the

public mind. There was no evidence incriminating the persons

arrested, and Ah-lum, who was defended by the Acting Colonial

Secretary (Dr. W. T. Bridges ) , was acquitted by the verdict

of an impartial jury. He was, however, re-arrested as a

suspicious character and detained in gaol until July 31st, 1857,

when he was released, by order of the Secretary of State, on

condition of his not resorting to the Colony for five years.


A civil action had meanwhile been brought against Ab-lum by the

editor of the Friend of China (W. Tarrant) who obtained (June

24, 1857) $ 1,000 damages for specific injuries, that resulted from

eating the poisoned bread sold to him by Ah-lum. The latter

was, however, by this time reduced from affluence to bankruptcy.

He may have been innocent of any direct complicity, but the

community, which unanimously attributed the crime to the

instigations of Cantonese Mandarins, would not believe otherwise

but that Ah-lum had, in some measure, connived at the diabolical

attempt to poison the whole of the foreign residents of Hongkong.

When the news of the outbreak of hostilities at Canton

reached England, the several political parties in opposition

formed a coalition with a view to censure the Ministry . Lord

Derby, supported by Lord Lyndhurst in the House of Lords

(February 24, 1857 ) , and Mr. Cobden, supported by Mr. Gladstone

and Mr. Disraeli in the House of Commons (February 26, 1857 ) ,

heroically espoused the causeof that innocent lamb-like Yeh

and condemned the proceedings initiated by Sir John Bowring

in the most unsparing terms. It was said that the Government

had one rule for the weak and another for the strong, and that

the conduct of Sir John Bowring had been characterized by

overbearing insolence towards the Chinese Authorities. Lord

Palmerston warmly defended the action of Sir John but, as the

debate proceeded, it soon became evident that the question

involved was not merely the proposed appointment of a

Committee to investigate British relations with China, nor even

the recall of Sir John, but the fate of the Ministry. However,

when Mr. Cobden's vote of censure was carried in the Commons

by a majority of 16 votes, the Ministers, instead of resigning,

announced (March 5 , 1857 ) that, after passing certain urgent

measures, they would dissolve Parliament in order to appeal,

on the Chinese question, to the nation . They added that mean-

while the policy of the Government with regard to China would

continue to be what it always had been, viz. a policy for the

protection of British commercial interests, and that the question

of the continuance or recall of Sir John Bowring was one that


had been and still was under the grave consideration of the

Cabinet. Without waiting for the result of the coming elections,

Lord Palmerston sent orders to Mauritius and Madras to mobilize

troops for service in China, and forthwith selected the Earl of

Elgin and Kinkardine to proceed by the mail of April 26 , 1857 ,

as special Plenipotentiary to China . A supplementary force of

troops, steam-vessels and gun-boats was immediately dispatched

from England. The Viceroy's placards and the poisoning of the

Hongkong community, which the Cantonese Mandarins had

considered a master stroke of their policy, exercised , at the

general elections, a considerable influence towards bringing

about the deliberate adoption by the nation of the warlike

policy of Lord Palmerston . He returned to power stronger

than ever. However, so far as Sir John Bowring was concerned ,

the debate in Parliament blasted in one fell swoop all his

ambitious hopes. Lord Clarendon indeed wrote to him sym-

pathetically, saying, I think that you have been most unjustly

treated and that in defiance of reason and common sense the

whole blame of events which could not have been foreseen and

which had got beyond your control was cast upon you .' But

there was no comfort to Sir John in such a private declaration

of his innocence, seeing that it was accompanied by the official

announcement that he had been superseded in his office as

H.M. Plenipotentiary in China. This measure virtually left him

but the Governorship of Hongkong. But what was that in

the eyes of the man who had been accustomed to say, ' I have

China, I have Siam, I have no time for Hongkong ' ? Moreover,

the loss of personal friends like Cobden and others, who could

not get over the fact that the late President of the Peace

Society had been the originator of the latest war, cut him to

the quick. Fame now seemed to him but a glorious bubble and

honour the darling of but one short day.

Owing to the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny (May, 1857 )

nearly a year passed by before the troops sent out to China

and opportunely diverted to India, were ready to recall the

Chinese Government to a sense of Treaty obligations. Meanwhile


Viceroy Yeh continued his irregular warfare. The S.S. Queen

suffered (February 23, 1857) the same fate as the Thistle and

her captain and European crew were assassinated . Incendiarism

flourished in a petty way in Hongkong, and Duddel!' s bakery,

inaccessible to poisoners, was fired (February 28, 1857 ) . Man-

darin proclamations once more (March, 1857) peremptorily

ordered all Chinese to leave Hongkong on pain of expatriation ,

but as yet with little result. A vast conspiracy was discovered

(April 15, 1857 ) to have been organized in Canton to make

war in Hongkong against British lives and property. Attacks

on British shipping and even on British gunboats were of

frequent occurrence until Commodores Elliot and Keppel (May

to June, 1857 ) , by a series of dashing exploits, drove Yeh's

war-junks out of the delta of the Canton River and, by a brilliant

action near Hyacinth Island, destroyed Yeh's naval headquarters "

in the Fatshan creek .

On 2nd July, 1857 , Lord Elgin arrived in Hongkong.

Reluctantly he condescended to receive an address from the

British community, but departed presently for Calcutta . He

left upon Sir John and the leading residents, whose suggestions

he treated in supine cavalier fashion, the impression that his

sympathies were rather with poor old Yeh than with his own

countrymen. He shewed plainly that he looked upon the Arrow

incident as a wretched blunder. Hongkong residents rejoiced

to learn that his instructions (of April 20 , 1857) included ,.

besides the demands for compensation, for a restoration of Treaty

rights and the establishment of a British Minister at Peking,

also permission to be secured for Chinese vessels to resort to

Hongkong from all parts of the Chinese Empire without

distinction.' But this hope, like every other local expectation

centering in Lord Elgin , was doomed to disappointment . Before

his departure he would not even listen to Sir John's urgent

advice that the reduction of Canton was a necessary preliminary

to an expedition to the Peiho. But when he returned from

Calcutta (September 20, 1857 ) , together with Major-General

C. van Straubenzee and his staff, he yielded the point as it


was then too late in the year for operations in the North. A

further delay was necessary to await the arrival of the French

Plenipotentiary, Baron Gros, and his forces, as the French ,

under the pretext of having the murder of a missionary to avenge,

desired to co-operate in the humiliation of China. Meanwhile

the Canton River had been blockaded ( August 7 , 1857 ) by the

British fleet and a Chinese coolie-corps of 750 Hakkas had

been organized. When all was ready at last, fully a year had

passed by since the British retreat from Canton . At last the

formulated demands of the Allied Plenipotentiaries were forwarded

(December 12 , 1857 ) to Yeh. After ten days ' consideration,

Yeh calmly replied by a lengthy dispatch, full of what even

his friend Lord Elgin characterized as sheer twaddle. He

promised nothing but was willing to go on as of yore. An

ultimatum was now presented ( December 24, 1857 ) giving him

48 hours to yield or refuse the demands of the Allies . Meanwhile

5,000 English and 1,000 French troops moved into position

in front of Canton city without opposition . Yeh had notified

the people that, as the rebellious English had seduced the French

to join them in their mutinous proceedings, it was now necessary

to stop the trade altogether and utterly to annihilate the

barbarians . But this appeal to a people without popular leaders

was fruitless. Yeh replied to the ultimatum by a reiteration

of his trite arguments. So the bombardment of Canton, or

the ' Massacre of the Innocents ' as Lord Elgin termed it,

commenced (December 28 , 1857) . The fire was, as on former

occasions, exclusively directed against the (untenanted ) official

buildings and Tartar quarters and against the city wall and

forts. Lin's fort blew up by accident. Yeh quietly continued

ordering wholesale executions of Chinese rebels. Next day

(December 29 , 1857 ) Magazine Hill , which commands the whole

town, was captured and the city walls occupied without much

loss. Yeh remained obstinate. At last, after a strange pause

in the proceedings, detachments of British and French troops

entered the city simultaneously from different points (January

5 , 1858) and, after a few hours of unopposed search, Yeh as


well as the Civil Governor (Pih Kwei ) fell into the hands of

British marines, while the French captured the Tartar General.

The question now arose what to do with Canton city and its

captured officials. Lord Elgin reluctantly admitted that a

successful organisation of the government of Canton city was

impossible so long as Yeh was on the scene. So he sent him

to Hongkong en route for Calcutta where he died two years

later. Whilst Yeh was in Hongkong, Sir J. Bowring had at

last ( February 15, 1858) the long desired pleasure of an interview

with Yeh on board H.M.S. Inflexible, but Yeh would not enter

into any conversation and referred him to his interpreter

(Ch. Alabaster) . Meanwhile the government of Canton city had

been settled by the appointment (January 10, 1857 ) of a Mixed

Commission consisting of Consul Parkes, Colonel Holloway of

the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Captain Martineau des Chénez

of the French Navy and Governor Pih Kwei . This Commission ,

thanks to Sir 11. Parkes ' organizing genius, succeeded , with the

aid of a small force of Anglo - French police and by means of

re-instating all the executive and administrative officers under

Pih Kwei, in restoring forthwith public confidence and in

maintaining perfect order . These arrangements were made by

Lord Elgin, at the suggestion of Consul Parkes who was the

head and soul of the Commission, contrary to the advice of

Sir J. Bowring. The latter opposed such a mixed form of

government on the ground that a dual administration of this

sort, containing so many elements of discord, would fail to inspire

public confidence, produce mutual distrust and clashing of

authority, and give the Chinese in other provinces the idea that

the barbarians did not really conquer and govern Canton city.

Events disproved these vaticinations. For several years, the

most turbulent city of the Empire was successfully and peacefully

governed by the Allied Commissioners . Trade was immediately

resumed and the industries of Canton carried on as usual. The

village volunteers in the adjoining districts, with whom Pih

Kwei was secretly in league, were kept in check by occasional

military expeditions, organized at the suggestion of Consul Parkes


and dispatched to Fatshan and Kongtsun ( January 18 , 1858 ) ,

to Fayen (February 8th) and far up the West River to a distance

of 200 miles (February 19th to March 3rd) . The government of

Canton city and these military expeditions into the interior

of Kwang-tung Province were indeed the only operations in

the whole Arrow War that made a good and lasting impression

upon the Chinese people. These measures shewed conclusively

the ease with which large masses of Chinese can be controlled

by a moderate but firm display of European power. They

demonstrated also the benefits that would accrue to the Chinese

as well as to foreign trade by a real opening up of South-China

to the civilizing influences of British power.

Lord Elgin, with his maudlin misconception of the true

character of the Manchu Government, proved a signal failure .

Like Sir H. Pottinger, he did well so long as warlike operations

proceeded, but the moment parleying commenced he allowed

himself to be duped. After sending the demands of the Allies

to Peking ( February 11 , 1858) and finding them to his surprise

treated with contempt, he took the Taku forts (May 20 , 1858 )

and occupied Tientsin with ease. But instead of pushing on to

Peking and dictating his terms there, he stopped at Tientsin and

negotiated a Treaty (June 26, 1858 ) void of any material

guarantees apart from money payments. Instead of retaining

at least possession of Tientsin until the ratification of this

compact, he retreated forthwith to Shanghai to settle commercial

regulations. Next he yielded the main point of his own Treaty

(permanent representation of Europe in Peking) and returned to

England (March, 1859 ) only to find, three months later, when

the Treaty ratifications came to be exchanged , that the wily

Chinese had fooled him. The success with which Yeh had for

years disregarded the Nanking Treaty in the South, naturally

encouraged the Mandarins in the North to signalize their

disregard of the Tientsin Treaty by their action at Taku (June

25 , 1859) which permanently injured British prestige in China.

In Hongkong the turmoil continued in one way or other

to the end of Sir J. Bowring's administration. On the day when


the bombardment of Canton commenced (December 28 , 1857),

there was among Europeans in Hongkong a serious apprehension

of an emeute which found expression in a startling Government

notification to the effect that in case of fire or serious dis-

turbance ' notice would be given by beat of drum and residents

would find 100 stand of arms ready for volunteers willing to

assist the police. Owing to the frequency of conflagrations,

ascribed to a gang of incendiaries headed by the famous pirate

chief Chu A-kwai , the Governor offered ( May 17 , 1858 ) rewards

of $500 for the arrest of the man and $ 100 for each of his

accomplices. This appeal to sordid cupidity in order to further

the ends of justice naturally appeared to the Chinese as ou a

par with Yeh's system of retaliating for the bombardment of

Canton by offers of head-money to private assassins and patriotic

incendiaries in Hongkong. That barbarous mode of warfare

against the Colony was steadily continued by the Mandarins of

the neighbouring districts who, in spite of the occupation

of Canton by the Allies and even after the conclusion of the

Tientsin Treaty, continued to worry Chinese residents of

Hongkong into hostile attitude against Europeans . In January,

1858, the Legislative Council had represented to Lord Elgin

the continued exactions practised by the Chinese Authorities at

Heungshan and especially at Casa Branca (near Macao) on the

Chinese in the employ of Europeans in Hongkong, but Lord

Elgin would not listen to the suggestion of the Council that a

forcible demonstration be made against those Anthorities . When

the Mandarins found how comparatively fruitless their pro-

clamations were, they moved the rural militia - associations to

compel all village elders to cut off the market supplies of the

Colony and to send word to their respective clansmen in

Hongkong to leave the Colony immediately on pain of their

relatives in the country being treated as rebels (including muti-

lation and forfeiture of property) . This popular measure had

its effect . Many Chinese in the Colony now resigned lucrative

employment for very fear. A sensible exodus of individuals of

all classes commenced and by the middle of July European


residents began to feel themselves boycotted . A public meeting

was therefore held (July 29 , 1858 ) to discuss the extensive

departure of Chinese from the Colony and the stoppage of food

supplies. In accordance with the urgent resolutions unanimously

passed by this meeting, Sir John boldly departed from Lord

Elgin's line of policy and issued (July 31 , 1858) a proclamation

emphatically threatening the Heungshan and Sanon Districts

with the retributive vengeance of the British Government if

servants and food supplies were withheld any longer. Copies

of this proclamation were successfully delivered at Heungshan

by a party of British marines, but when H.M.S. Starling conveyed

copies of the same proclamation to Sanon, a boat's crew, while

under a flag of truce, were fired upon by the braves of Namtao .

Thereupon General C. van Straubenzee and the Commodore

(Hon. Keith Stewart ) proceeded to Sanon with a small military

and naval force and took the walled town of Namtao by assault ,

with the loss of two officers and three men . This measure had

its effect in an immediate restoration of the market supplies of

the Colony and an altere l attitude of the Mandarius.

In addition to all the excitement which the Arrow War

and its by-play of poisoning, incendiarism and boycotting

involved , the public life of Hongkong was, throughout this

administration, convulsed by an internal chronic warfare the

acerbities of which beggared all description . It is not the duty

of the historian to drag before the public eye the private failings

of individuals nor is it proposed here to enter upon all the details

of the mutual criminations and recriminations in which the

public men of the Colony and the local newspapers indulged

during this liveliest period in the history of Hongkong. But as

the eruptions of volcanoes reveal to us the secrets of the interior

of the earth, so these periodical explosions of feeling in the

Colony give us an insight into the inner workings of local

public life. It is necessary therefore to characterize, and trace

the real cause of, these dissensions which disturbed the public

peace, the more so as these matters became subjects of debate

in Parliament to the great injury of the reputation of Hongkong.


When Sir John arrived in the Colony (April, 1854) , the

public mind had for some years been, and still was, in a state of

tolerable tranquillity, and peace reigned within the Civil Service.

The only disturbing element was a local newspaper, the Friend

of China, edited by a discharged Civil Servant, who generally

criticized the Government and most public officers with some

animus and repeatedly insinuated that the Lieutenant-Governor

(whilst Chief Magistrate) had been in collusion with his com-

prador's squeezing propensities. The fact that the Lieutenant-

Governor allowed five years to pass before he stopped these

unfounded calumnies by the appeal to the Court which, as soon

as made, consigned that editor to the ignominious silence of the

gao! (September 21 , 1859 ) , encouraged in the Colony a vicious.

taste for journalistic personalities. The more wicked a paper

was, the greater now became its popularity. Soon another local

editor (Daily Press) who, in certain business transactions in

connection with emigration , had been crossed by the Registrar

General, outstripped in scurrility his colleague of the Friend of

China, and commenced to insinuate that the Registrar General

was the tool of unscrupulous Chinese compradors and in league

with pirates . The Registrar General sent in his resignation

(June 11 , 1855) but the Government, as well as the Naval

Authorities, having perfect confidence in him, he was later on

(December 6, 1856 ) induced to resume his office.

The next source of trouble was the system of Petty Sessions

devised by Sir G. Bonham and continued by Sir J. Bowring

who appointed (October 4 , 1855) 13 non-official Justices of the

Peace (subsequently increased to 15 ) to assist the stipendiary

Magistrates. The non-official Justices, however, did not attend

the Sessions unless they were specially sent for and the Chief

Magistrate, as a rule, sent for them only when he had a difficulty

with the Executive. In spring 1856, the Governor several

times took occasion to remonstrate with the Chief Magistrate

(T. W. Davies) regarding his interpretation of the new Building

Ordinance (No. 8 of 1856 ) in cases of encroachments on Crown

land. The Magistrate, disregarding the minutes of the Executive



Council on the subject of that Ordinance, twice (May 23rd and

June 3rd) sent for non-official Justices to assist him in cases

in which the Crown was prosecutor, and these Justices,

representing the interest of house owners, emphatically concurred

in his interpretation of the Building Ordinance. Thereupon

the Governor addressed (August 19 , 1856 ) a severe remonstrance

to the Justices of the Peace, blaming all for habitual neglect

of their duties in not giving regular attendance at the Petty

Sessions (at which half of them had never attended at all) and

censuring four Justices with having (May 23rd) concurred in

a decision by which the obvious intent of the law was abrogated,

and with having (June 3rd) supported the Magistrate in his

determination not to give effect to the law. An angry

correspondence ensued, in the course of which the Justices,

alleging that they had attended in Court whenever they were

requested to do so, claimed the right to frame their decisions

according to their own convictions and characterized the

Governor's action as an attempt to intimidate the stipendiary


Magistrate. The question at issue, ' they wrote, is in effect

this, whether the law is to be administered according to the

judgment of the Magistrates who are sworn to dispense it

according to the best of their knowledge and ability, subject

to correction by appeal to the Supreme Court, or according to

the dictation of the Governor and Executive Council.' The

dispute culminated in a passionate public meeting ( October

16 , 1856) . This meeting complained of the retrospective

character of the new Building Ordinance ( 8 of 1856 ) and the

insufficiency of the Surveyor General's staff, of the right given

to the Crown to recover costs at common law (Ordinance 14

of 1856) , of the exclusion of the public from the meetings of

Legislative Council and of the absence of a Municipal Council.

In his reply the Governor clearly had the best of the argument

but promised a reconstruction of the Legislative Council. He

added, however, that this reconstruction would not be based on

a representative principle, to which the circumstances of

Hongkong are, in the judgment of Her Majesty's Government


and of a majority of the members of the Executive Council,

far from adapted.'

But now a more potent element of discord appeared on the

scene in the person of a testy Attorney General who for some

reason or other had been sent out, fresh from the House of

Commons where he had represented the electors of Youghal

(1847 to 1856 ) . While considering it his mission in life to

set things right in Hongkong, he seemed to combine. with

thorough uprightness of character, a lamentable want of self-

restraint . He was hardly a month in the Colony before he

quarrelled with both Magistrates, and scenes of mutual re-

crimination were enacted in the Supreme Court (June, 1856 ) .

This was followed, two months later, by an action for defamation

brought by the junior Magistrate against the Attorney General.

With the exception of an allegation of defalcations in the Colonial

Treasury, which had been placed (in 1854) in charge of its

chief clerk ( R. Rienacker) and necessitated the appointment

(June 13, 1851 ) of a Commission of Inquiry, there was

brief lull in this internal turmoil, while the public mind was

occupied with , and wrought up to great nervous tension by,

the Arrow War and its local consequences . In spring 1858,

however, the shattered nerves of the community were thrilled

anew with a series of Civil Service disputes. The editor of

the Daily Press, having gone so far as to accuse the Governor

of corruptly favouring the firm of Jardine, Matheson & Co. in the

matter of public contracts, was promptly brought to book and

sent to gaol for six months (April 19 , 1858 ) . About the same

time the Acting Colonial Secretary who, being a barrister, had

taken over the office on condition of his being allowed private

practice, was charged by the Attorney General with collusion with

the new opium farmer (an ex-teacher of St. Paul's College ) from

whom he had accepted a retainer. A Commission ( H. T. Davies

and J. Dent) inquired into the charge (April, 1858) but, though

some slight blame was laid on the Acting Colonial Secretary,

his honesty and honour were held unimpeached. Next the

Attorney General resigned the Commission of the Peace unless


the Registrar General were excluded from it (May 14 , 1858 ) .

The Governor at once asked the Justices to nominate a Committee

of Inquiry. The Justices declined to do so but, when the

Committee appointed by the Governor (Ch. St. G. Cleverly.

H. T. Davies, G. Lyall, A. Fletcher, John Scarth ) advised the

retention of the Registrar General in office (July 17 , 1858 ) ,

four of the Justices (J. D. Gibb, P. Campbell, J. Rickett ,

J. Dent) published their dissent from the verdict of the Com-

mittee. Now in the course of this inquiry side-issues had

meanwhile been raised which carried the conflict still further.

The Attorney General not only impeached the Acting Colonial

Secretary's integrity by insinuating that he had burned the

account books of a convicted pirate (Machow Wong) to screen

himself and the Registrar General against a charge of com-

plicity with pirates, but the Attorney General also publicly

divulged an unfavourable opinion, as to the character of the

Acting Colonial Secretary, which the Governor had expressed in

confidential consultation with the Attorney General . Naturally,

the Governor now suspended the Attorney General , and referred

the case to the Home Government . Although the Secretary of

State, in reply, expressed himself satisfied with the conduct of

the Acting Colonial Secretary, the latter voluntarily resigned

his office (August 28 , 1858 ) . However, when he commenced

an action for libel ( with reference to the burning of the

books of Machow Wong) against the editor of the Friend of

China, the jury brought in a verdict of not guilty and the

Court awarded costs against the Government (November, 1858 ) .

The conduct of the Governor who, to avoid a subpoena

served on him in this case, had hurriedly departed for Manila

(November 29, 1858 ) being too ill to attend, provoked much

criticism at the time. But unfortunately matters did not

stop here. Elated by this measure of success, the editor of

the Friend of China, and the suspended Attorney General,

commenced an agitation in England which only served to

bring upon the Colony greater odium and the contempt of

the nation.


In January, 1859, a public meeting held at Newcastle-on-

Tyne, in the belief that the books of Machow Wong had been

burned to screen a public officer from conviction of complicity

with pirates, petitioned Parliament to direct such an inquiry as

would vindicate the honour of the British Crown and do justice .

This example was followed by meetings held at Tynemouth,

Macclesfield and Birmingham, and at some other towns public

meetings were convened for the same purpose. On March 3rd,

1859 , Earl Grey brought the Newcastle petition before the House

of Lords, while Sir E. Bulwer- Lytton dealt with the matter

before the Commons. The latter stated , that the documents

in the case had been referred to a legal and dispassionate adviser

of the Crown ; that he discovered in them hatred, malice and

uncharitableness in every possible variety and aspect ; that the

documents might consequently be considered a description of

official life in Hongkong ; that the mode in which the Attorney

General had originated and conducted the inquiry, and the breach

of official confidence which occurred in the course of the trial,

had led the Governor to suspend him ; that, after a dispassionate

-consideration of the papers, he could come to no other conclusion

than that the Governor's decision ought to be confirmed ; that

it was, however, his intention , as soon as possible, to direct a

most careful examination into the whole of the facts. Of course

the public press treated the whole case in a variety of ways, but

the verdict of public opinion in England was, no doubt, that to

which the Times gave utterance ( March 15 , 1859 ) in a scathing

article of which the following is a brief digest .


Hongkong is always connected with some fatal pestilence,

some doubtful war, or some discreditable internal squabble, so

much so that, in popular language, the name of this noisy,

bustling, quarrelsome, discontented little Island may not inaptly

be used as a euphemous synonym for a place not mentionable to

ears polite. Every official's hand is there against his neighbour.

The Governor has run away to seek health or quiet elsewhere.

The Lieutenant- Governor has been accused of having allowed

his servant to squeeze. The newspaper proprietors were, of late,


all more or less in prison or going to prison or coming out of

prison, on prosecutions by some one or more of the incriminated

and incriminating officials. The heads of the mercantile houses.

hold themselves quite aloof from local disputes and conduct

themselves in a highly dignified manner, which is one of the

chief causes of the evil. But a section of the community deal

in private slander which the newspapers retail in public abuse.

The Hongkong press, which every one is using, prompting,

disavowing and prosecuting the less we say of it the better.

A dictator is needed, a sensible man, a man of tact and firmness .

We cannot be always investigating a storm in a teapot where

each individual tea-leaf has its dignity and its grievance.'

Black as the case thus put before the home country was,

it did not cover the whole extent of Hongkong's internal war-

fare . The dissensions which, as above recounted, disgraced the

public life of the Colony, invaded also the Legislative Council.

In the first instance the Members of Council, both unofficial

and official, frequently overstepped during this period the limit

of their proper functions, occupying themselves with matters

having no concern with legislation, and really trenching on

the powers of the Executive. Next, the official Members,

and notably the Attorney General and the Chief Magistrate,

claimed an extraordinary measure of independence. On more

than one occasion , and without any previous communication

to the Governor or Colonial Secretary, these officials censured

the Executive in strong terms. The Attorney General, with

whose advent the character of the Legislative Council under-

went a marked change, often repudiated the authority of

the superior Law Officers of the Crown when their opinions,

formally conveyed to the local Government, differed from his.

With equal nonchalance he declared that he took his seat in

Council as an independent legislator, not as a servant of the

Crown, and that he was there, if he thought fit, to criticize

and oppose the views of the Executive. Naturally the unofficial

Members felt under these circumstances justified in claiming

equal liberties.


When Sir J. Bowring became Governor, the Legislative

Council was presided over by the Lieutenant-Governor and

consisted of 6 Members of whom 2 were non-officials. In 1855

Sir John submitted to the Secretary of State ( Mr. Labouchere) a

proposal to enlarge the basis of the Council by introducing 4

additional official and 3 non-official Members, giving a total

of 13 Members exclusive of the Governor. Mr. Labouchere

disapproved of so great an enlargement but sanctioned a

moderate addition . This was given effect to by the introduction

of the Colonial Treasurer, the Chief Magistrate and one non-

official Member, the relative proportions being thus preserved

and the Legislative Council then consisted of 6 officers of the

Government and 3 members of the community. Sir John

however added (in 1857 ) the Surveyor General and in November.

1858 , probably with a view to secure the passing of the Praya

Ordinance, he further introduced the Auditor General, so that

there were 8 official to 3 non -official Members . Against this

measure the unofficial Members at the bottom of the table,'

as Sir John humorously styled them, put in a formal protest

(November 20, 1858 ) and suggested that the nomination of

the Auditor General should remain in abeyance until the original

number of 6 officials be returned to by the occurrence of

vacancies or that the original proposition of Sir J. Bowring as

to the number of non-official Members should also be carried

out. A memorial impeaching the Governor was talked of, just

before he left for Manila, but after further consideration the

idea was abandoned . From after the close of the session of

1857 the proceedings of the Council were regularly published

and from March 25th, 1858, the Governor allowed the public

to be present at the debates.

The principal bone of contention between the Governor

and his Legislative Council was the construction of a Praya

or sea-wall which was to extend along the whole front of the

town from Navy Bay to Causeway Bay and to be named Bowring

Praya. The Council heartily approved of the completion

(October 1 , 1855 ) of the new Government House (at a total


cost of £ 15,318 spread over many years), the erection of a

number of water tanks (1855) and the completion (in 1857)

of two Police Stations (Central and Westpoint Stations) and

four new Markets. But the projected Praya and particularly

its proposed name aroused determined opposition . Sir John's

scheme had the support of an official Commission appointed

by him to weigh all the objections which could be urged against

it, and he assiduously hoarded the surplus funds of several years

to provide the means for carrying out his pet scheme . The

scheme was published (November 10, 1855 ) with the announce-

ment that the Governor had power to enforce it under the

alternative, offered to unwilling lot-holders, of resumption

according to terms of lease. Most of the Chinese lot-holders

appeared to be willing to come to terms with the Government,

but a public meeting of European owners passed (December

5, 1855 ) resolutions to the effect that the Governor's plan was

defective and inadequate as a public measure, onerous upon

individuals and infringing on the rights of holders of marine-lots.

The opposition view thus formulated was ably maintained and

put before the Colonial Office by the Hon . J. Dent with the

support of the other unofficial Members of Council . The

Governor's contention was that many marine- lot holders had,

for years past, recovered from the sea and appropriated to their

own use, against the rights of the Crown, land measuring

298,685 square feet which had been arbitrarily superadded to

the respective leases granting in the aggregate other 260,326

square feet. The owners of marine-lots, having thus doubled

their respective properties, were naturally opposed to a scheme

intended to re-establish the rights of the Crown. However,

the Secretary of State ( Mr. Labouchere), after considering the

objections raised by Mr. Dent, decided against the marine-lot

holders and instructed the Governor to proceed with the

reclamation work as soon as the needful funds were available.

The Chinese owners of marine-lots consented (in 1857 ) to

reclaim , under Government supervision , and to pay rent for

a large portion of the Praya in front of their holdings. As


their work proceeded , the Governor succeeded in making amicable

arrangements also with most of the European holders of marine-

lots in front of the city, and that part of the Praya the frontage

of which properly belonged to the Government was forthwith

taken in hand. But two British firms (Dent and Lindsay) ,

holding the small portion of land situated between the parade-

ground and Pedder's wharf, obstinately resisted , though the

estimates for the sea-wall and piers for this section amounted

to less than £ 14,000 . Finding, in 1858, that a sum of £20,000

of hoarded surplus funds was available for public works , the

Governor, who had been advised by the Acting Attorney General

(J. Day succeeded by F. W. Green) to proceed by Ordinance ,

had a draft Bill prepared by a Committee consisting of the

Acting Attorney General, the Colonial Treasurer ( F. Forth) and

the Surveyor General (Ch. St. G. Cleverly) . These officers

assured the Governor that they were satisfied with the Bill which

they prepared and which was published in the Gazette (October

23, 1858). The first reading of the Bill was opposed by

Mr. Dent, voting alone. Owing to the Governor's absence on

a trip to the Philippine Islands, the second reading of the Bill

was delayed until 4th February, 1859. On that day the

Governor was confident of success . The Acting Attorney General

had assured him that the Bill would pass and would even have

the support of one of the unofficial Members. But when the

Council met, to consider this Bill on which the leading merchants

were at issue with the Governor, the Chief Justice and the

Lieutenant-Governor were absent, and Mr. Dent's motion that

the Praya question be adjourned sine die was, to the intense

surprise of the Governor, carried by six votes against three.

The effect on the audience was startling. There was a tragico-

-comical tableau, which a local artist forthwith perpetuated by

some woodcuts published in the Daily Press. It appeared

that none voted in favour of the Bill except the Acting Attorney

General, the Colonial Treasurer and the Auditor General . The

Colonial Secretary (W. T. Mercer) had quite lately returned

from furlough and thought the Bill might be considered later


on ; the Chief Magistrate (H. T. Davies) had not been consulted'

and thought water-works more urgent ; the Surveyor General

(Ch. St. G. Cleverly) said he had changed his mind ; and all

of them claimed the right of voting against the Government.

It must be said to the credit of Sir John that he did not

dispute the right of the official Members of Council to vote·

according to their conscientious convictions. But he had not

expected them to vote against his darling scheme without giving

him previous notice . Sir John, however, drew one important

lesson from this painful fiasco of his Praya Bill, viz. that the

leading firms can defeat a Governor and that the public service

must suffer if functionaries and especially the higher ones

(Attorney General and Surveyor General) are allowed to accept


private practice. The enormous power and influence of the

great commercial houses in China, when associated directly or

indirectly with personal pecuniary advantages which they are able-

to confer on public officers, who are permitted to be employed

and engaged by them, cannot but create a conflict between duties

not always compatible... One of the peculiar difficulties against

which this Government has to struggle is the enormous influence-

wielded by the great and opulent commercial Houses against

whose power and in opposition to whose personal views it is

hard to contend .' These words of Sir John, as well as the whole

story of this first Praya Bill, indicate a recognition of the fact

that the commercial aristocracy created by his predecessor had

by this time commenced to exercise a political influence liable

to be inspired, occasionally, by the interests of individual firms

rather than by unselfish consideration of the public good .

The legislative activity of the Council was, particularly

after the arrival (in spring 1856 ) of the Hon . Chisholm Austey.

the Attorney General, somewhat excessive. He had a passion

for reform and set to work, revising local procedure in civil and

criminal cases (Ordinance 5 of 1856 ) and in Chancery (Ordinance

7 of 1856 ) , limiting the admission of candidates to the rolls

of practitioners in the Supreme Court (Ordinance 13 of

1856) , regulating the summary jurisdiction of the Police Court


and appeals to the Supreme Court (Ordinance 4 of 1858 ) and

declaring sundry Acts of Parliament to be in force in the Colony

(Ordinances 3 of 1856 and 3 and 4 of 1857 ) . As many as 15-

Ordinances were passed by the Council in the year 1856 aud

12 Ordinances in 1857. Mr. Anstey received, however, small

thanks for his zeal. Shortly after his departure a Colonial Office

dispatch was read in Council (January 20, 1859 ) stating that

the legal advisers of the Crown had severely commented on the

careless manner in which British Acts of Parliament had been .

adopted in Hongkong. A lamentable state of affairs was revealed

when Mr. Anstey's successor, in admitting the justice of the

censure, stated that his own tenure of the office was too uncertain

to admit of his commencing any new system of legislation or

correcting mistakes for which he was not responsible.

Among the Ordinances of the year 1857 there is one (No.

12 of 1857 ) which requires special mention as it constitutes

the first attempt made by a British legislature to grapple with

and control the evils arising from prostitution, by the introduction

in Hongkong of the system of registration , compulsory medical

examination and the establishment of a Lock Hospital . This

Ordinance was the work of Dr. W. T. Bridges, the Acting

Colonial Secretary, who was an enthusiastic believer in the

philanthropic virtues of Contagious Diseases Acts. Sir J.

Bowring, with some diffidence, permitted the Ordinance to pass ,

stating that he reserved his opinion as to its value ; but, when

the Chinese community made an energetic stand against the

application of the measure to the inmates of houses visited by

Chinese, Sir John yielded and thereby deprived the scheme of

a fair trial in Hongkong. The problem involved in such a

C. D. Ordinance requires, for a just and charitable solution.

that unbiassed mind which but few possess . Let it be granted

that, in the rural surroundings of the domestic and social life

of Christian England, where every form of moral and religious

influence is at full play, regulations of the nature of the C. D..

Acts would fall under the condemnation of morality and religion

as being not only not required but distinct reminders and


encouragements of immorality. But it must then also be granted,

from the same Christian point of view, that the practice of

taking young men away from those moral and religious influences

of their rural homes and transplanting them, in the interest

of the nation, in an enervating climate, in the midst of all

the demoralising surroundings of sensuous native communities,

is a proceeding equally to be condemned on the score of both

morality and religion . The correct thing would therefore be,

to abolish our army, our navy, and our Colonial commerce.

This application of the Christian ideal is practically impossible.

If, then, we cannot nationally realise the higher ideal of the

Christian life and must perforce provide for war and commerce

abroad, it is neither a consistent nor a moral or charitable

proceeding to apply that impracticable ideal by withdrawing

from the men thus placed, in the interest of the nation , in

unnatural positions, the small measure of medical safeguards

which C. D. Ordinances provide.

The legislative work of Sir J. Bowring's administration

is further distinguished by the great attention paid to the

interests of the Chinese residents . In March, 1855 , Sir John

ordered an investigation to be instituted concerning the extensive

gambling system which had been in vogue among the Chinese

employees of the Government. Strict regulations were made to

prevent a recurrence of the evil. The right which Sir J. Bowring

gave to Chinese lessees of Crown -lands, to become owners of

British ships and to use the British flag in Colonially registered

vessels (Ordinances 4 of 1855 and 9 of 1856) , has already

been mentioned in connection with the Arrow War . As the

laws in force in the Colony appeared to tend to the avoidance

of all wills male in the Chinese manner, Sir John authorized

(Ordinance 4 of 1856) the recognition in local Courts of Chinese

wills when made according to Chinese laws and usages. Chinese

burials which hitherto studded the hill sides in all sorts of places

with graves, were regulated by the establishment of special

Chinese cemeteries (Ordinance 12 of 1856 ) . Chinese domiciled

in the Colony (and other alien residents) were granted (by


Ordinance 13 of 1856) the privilege of seeking qualification

as legal practitioners. The government of the Chinese people

by means of officially recognized and salaried head-men (Tipos )

under the supervision of the Registrar General was organized

(by Ordinance 8 of 1858) and a Census Office established..

As to the latter, Sir John all along recognized the practical

impossibility of individual Chinese registration, but insisted upon

a registration of houses. He revised also the night pass

regulations extending the time, when Chinese had to keep indoor,

from 8 to 9 P.M. The markets of the Colony having hitherto

been worked under a system of monopoly, which augmented

the price of food stuffs in the Colony, Sir John introduced an

Ordinance ( 9 of 1858 ) which to some extent diminished the

evils of monopoly and transferred to the Government, in the

shape of augmented rental, a portion at least of the profit

which was before in the hands of two or three compradors

supposed to enjoy special official patronage.

But the most effective and beneficial legislative act of this

period , and one for which Sir J. Bowring deserves much credit,

was the so-called Amalgamation Ordinance (No. 12 of 1858 ) .

This Ordinance empowered barristers to act as their own

attorneys and thus gave the public the choice of engaging an

attorney and barrister in the persons of two or of one member

of the legal profession. The evil which it was intended to

counteract by this measure consisted in the excessive amount

of pettifogging, needless litigation and worthless conveyancing

that prevailed in the Colony for many years previous. This

evil was supported by adventurers, the riff-raff of Australian

attorneys, who had infested the local Courts. Indeed the legal

profession of this period was in even greater need of reform than

the Civil Service. The Courts were in a continual ferment

and the lower one of the two branches of the legal profession was

a by-word. Evidence was produced before the Council, shewing

not only that the public was systematically fleeced by exorbitant

attorneys' bills for worthless work, but that attorneys kept

Chinese runners whose duty was to hunt up and to stir up


litigation cases, and that the percentage payable to these men was

sometimes as much as two hundred dollars a month. There

was among the leading merchants as well as among the principal

barristers (Dr. Bridges, J. Day, H. Kingsmill ) a strong and

unanimous feeling in favour of an amalgamation of the two

legal professions as a permanent remedy of the existing state of

things. This proposal of an amalgamation was further supported

by a letter addressed by 50 local firms to the Attorney General,

and even the the leading attorneys (Cooper- Turner, Hazeland,

Woods) were either in favour of amalgamation or remained

neutral . But the other attorneys raised a powerful opposition .

The question was under the consideration of Sir J. Bowring for

six months and he gave both sides full and patient hearing.

When the Amalgamation Bill was considered by the Legislative

Council (June 24, 1858 ) , Mr. Parsons was heard and examined

on behalf of the attorneys but, when he claimed to represent also

the local Law Society, it was proved that he had received no

authority from that body. After the most painstaking inquiry,

the Bill was passed by seven votes against two and exercised

thereafter a beneficial influence as long as it remained in


The cause celebre (apart from the actions for libel above

referred to ) of this period was a dispute raised by General

J. Keenan who , since July 11 , 1853, officiated in Hongkong as

U.S. Consul. After some animated correspondence with the

Colonial Secretary (in October, 1855) , concerning his views

as to Consular rights and jurisdiction over American subjects

on board American ships in harbour, the gallant General forcibly

took the law into his own hands. In result, he had to answer

(November 13, 1855 ) a charge of rescuing a prisoner (American)

from the Civil Authorities charged with assault and battery. The

cise was, however, amicably arranged and General Keenan became

a very popular man in the Colony.

The finances of the Colony gave Sir J. Bowring much

anxiety. Finance was supposed to be one of his strong points.

But he was hampered in every way and could not achieve much.


He succeeded, indeed, in increasing the revenue by the sale of

Crown-land, principally marine lots. He was aided in this

respect by the surrender ( in 1854) of the ground at Westpoint

previously occupied by the Navy Department for stores which

were removed to Praya East. Sir John succeeded in doubling

the revenue within the five years of his administration and the

last year of it, when compared with the revenue of the last year

of his predecessor, presented an increase of £37,776 . But he

could not keep the expenditure within the limits of the revenue,

although he restrained public works as much as possible . Con-

sequently he had to fall back once more upon Parliamentary

grants, obtaining £ 10,000 per annum for the years 1857 and

1858. These grants were made for hospital and gaol buildings.

But by an advantageous exchange with the Rhenish and Berlin

Missions he obtained a new hospital at little cost, and by reducing

the proposed limits of gaol extension he made some further

savings, so that the greater part of the Parliamentary grants,

laid out at interest, could be left to accumulate for the purposes

of his great Praya scheme, which however broke down at the

last moment. After raising the police rate to 10 per cent ., Sir

John reduced it again (in 1857 ) to 8 per cent., only to find

that it after all proved insufficient to pay the cost of the police

and gaol departments owing to the extra expenses caused by the

disturbances consequent upon the Arrow War. In spring 1858 ,

Sir John stated that he had intended to claim from the Chinese

Government compensation for the increased expenditure caused

by the disturbed state of the neighbouring Districts, but that

the appointment of Lord Elgin had taken the power out of his

hands. As a matter of fact, the Colony never received any

compensation when the accounts between England and China

were settled at Canton, at Nanking or Tientsin. The Imperial

Exchequer appropriated in each case the whole amount of war

compensation paid by China. Sir John deserves credit for

having initiated the practice of depositing the surplus funds of

the Government in local chartered Banks, paying interest, instead

of leaving large sums of money lying idle in the vaults of the


Treasury. The opium monopoly was re-instated by Sir John

(April 1 , 1858 ) to swell the revenue, but failed to fetch its true

price, being let at $33,000 a year. Sir John removed one impost ,

the productiveness of which, he said, was small whilst its.

annoyances and inconveniences were great, viz. that upon salt.

Sir John claimed credit for having wholly freed salt from

taxation, as it became thereby an article of increased commercial

importance . He seems, however, to have been oblivious of the

fact that, as salt is a heavily taxed Imperial monopoly in China,

his action in abolishing the salt tax in Hongkong merely gave

a fillip to the Chinese contraband trade carried on by the salt

smugglers in the Colony.

Sir J. Bowring paid much attention to the condition of

the Police Force . Being at first dissatisfied with its organisation,

he appointed (August, 1855) a Commission to inquire into the

police system of the Colony and invited the public to give

evidence verbally or in writing. Some changes were made in

the constitution of the Force (in 1857 ) and at the close of his

administration Sir John considered the outward appearance,

discipline and general efficiency of the Police Force to have

greatly improved. He stated that the complaints under this

head, which formerly were frequently addressed to the Govern-

ment, were in 1858 much diminished in number. Considering

the indifferent materials from which the selection , for economical

reasons, had necessarily to be made, Sir John considered the

state of the Force to be satisfactory and creditable to its

Superintendent ( Ch . May) .

It could not be expected that crime would decrease during:

a period of such extraordinary commotion . Yet the criminal

record of Sir John's regime compares, with the exception of the

unique attempt to poison the whole foreign community, by no

means unfavourably with that of other periods of the history of

Hongkong. Indeed , although Hongkong was at this time more

than ever the recipient of the scum of Canton and of the vilest

and fiercest of the population of South-China, the experienced

Superintendent of Police (Ch. May) , himself an ex -Inspector of


Scotland Yard, reported in 1857 that the proportionate number

and gravity of offences committed in Hongkong was considerably

less than that of the British metropolis. The execution (in

1854) of two Europeans, who had murdered a Chinese boy on

the ship Mastiff, greatly impressed the Chinese residents with

the equality of justice dealt out by British tribunals . In 1854

and 1855, gangs of robbers, having their lairs on the hillside

or on the Peak, engaged in occasional skirmishes with the police

(April 24, 1855) and made a daring attack (November, 1855)

on some shops in Aberdeen, when several constables were

wounded while the robbers sailed away with their booty in a

junk. The conviction (June, 1854 ) of a Chinese boatman and

his wife of the murder of a Mr. Perkis, the attack made by

an armed gang on the comprador's office of Wardley & Co.

(December, 1855) , a similar attack made on shops at Jardine's

Bazaar (January 1 , 1856 ) , when several private policemen of

Jardine, Matheson & Co. were wounded, and finally the murder

(April 1 , 1857 ) of Mr. Ch. Markwick by his Chinese servant,

were the principal crimes, unconnected with the war, that

attracted public attention during this period. In the latter case,

the Registrar General (D. R. Caldwell) pursuing the murderer

with the assistance of a gunboat to his native village, obtained

his surrender by the threat of bombarding the village. The

Secretary of State subsequently expressed his disapproval of

this measure. Nevertheless the District city of Namtao was

(March 19 , 1859 ) actually bombarded by H.M.S. Cruiser (Captain

Bythesea ) to compel reparation for the sum of $ 4,500 which,

as the comprador of the Registrar General's Office alleged , had

been stolen by Namtao braves from a Hongkong passage-boat

in which he had an interest. These were high-handed measures

inspired by the war-spirit of the time rather than by justice.

Sir J. Bowring believed that the spot where almost all

crime was concocted in Hongkong was to be found in the

unlicensed gambling houses of Taipingshan. In connection

with this belief, and in view of the apparent impossibility of

finding constables who would not wink at and profit by existing



abuses rooted in the inveterate Chinese habit of gambling,

Sir J. Bowring boldly proposed to Lord John Russell

(September 4, 1855) and subsequently to Mr. H. Labouchere

(February 11 , 1856) to regulate the vice that could not be

suppressed and to adopt the system in vogue at Macao of

controlling Chinese gambling houses by licensing a limited

number of them . The Lieutenant- Governor (W. Caine), the

Acting Colonial Secretary ( Dr. Bridges) and the Attorney

General (T. Ch. Anstey) , strongly supported the Governor's

arguments, which were fortified by a considerable array of

favourable reports, received from India, the Straits, the Dutch

Possessions and the Governor of Macao ( I. F. Guimaraes) as to

the good results of such a control of Chinese gambling. None

but the Superintendent of Police (Ch. May ) and the Chief

Magistrate (C. H. Hillier) raised a voice of warning. Accor-

dingly a draft Ordinance, relating to public gaming houses

and for the better suppression of crime, ' prepared by Dr. Bridges

and assented to by all the Members of Council ( Mr. Hillier

excepted), was submitted to H.M. Government (April 17, 1856) .

Although the measure met with a blank refusal on the part of

Mr. Labouchere , who would not even consider it, Sir J. Bowring

again and again, but in vain, represented to Mr. Labouchere's

successors (Lord Stanley and Sir E. B. Lytton ) his ardent

conviction that the system of licensing vice for the purpose of

controlling it was as legitimate in the case of gambling as in

the case of prostitution and opium smoking, and that the

existing state of things resulted in general corruption of the

Police. The problem was left to be taken up ten years later

by Sir Richard MacDonnell.

That piracy was specially rampant during this period was

natural. The periodical onslaughts which British men-of- war

made on the pirates swarming in the neighbourhood of Hongkong

appeared to make little impression. Captious critics, both in

the Colony and in Parliament, and particularly European friends

of the Taiping Government, occasionally threw out doubts

whether all the junks destroyed by British gunboats were actually


piratical craft or Taiping rebels or peaceful but in self-protection

heavily armed traders, officially traduced by Chinese informers as

pirates. H.M.S. Rattler made a successful raid against pirates

at Taichow (May 16 , 1855 ) . H.M. Brig Bittern burned 23

junks and killed 1.200 men at Sheifoo (September, 1855 ) with

the loss of her own commander killed and 19 men wounded.

H.M.S. Surprise, assisted by boats of H.M.S. Cambrian, captured

a whole pirate fleet at Lintin (May, 1858 ) and in result of this

action as many as 134 large cannons were sold in the Colony by

public auction and purchased by Chinese (probably confederates

of pirates) at the rate of $234 a pair. H.M.S. Magicienne,

Inferible, Plover, and Algerine, destroyed (September, 1858)

40 junks, 30 snake-boats, a stockaded battery and several piratical

villages. H.M.S. Fury and Bustard captured 12 junks near

Macao (December, 1858 ) and in the same neighbourhood H.M.S.

Niger, Janus, and Clown burned 20 junks and killed some 200

men ( March, 1859 ) . Mr. Caldwell, by whose information and

guidance all these expeditions were undertaken, enjoyed the fullest

confidence of the Authorities but incurred, at the same time,

much obloquy and animosity on the part of European friends of

the Taipings and particularly among the Chinese friends and

abettors of the pirates. On 1st June, 1854, a foolish rumour

gained credence among the local Chinese population that an

immense piratical fleet was coming to attack and plunder the

Colony. After the ontbreak of the Arrow War such rumours

were frequently in circulation owing to the general increase of

piracy. As many as 32 piracies were reported in Hongkong

between November 1st , 1856 , and 15th February, 1857. After

that they decreased in frequency. Only 5 cases of piracy were

reported in March, 5 more in May and June, and 11 cases

between June 28th and August 17th, 1857. One of the foreign

associates of pirates, Eli M. Boggs, an American, was convicted

(July 7 , 1857 ) of piracy and sentenced to transportation for

life, and a notorious pirate chief, Machow Wong, was sentenced

(September 2 , 1857 ) to 15 years' transportation (to Labuan) .

In October, 1857, the schooner Neva was attackel by pirates who



murdered the captain and two of the crew. Piracy continued

to worry the junk trade until March 1858 , and the capture of a

Hongkong passage-boat (Wing-sun) made some stir (January

17 , 1858 ), but after that time the numberof piracies sensibly

decreased and no further attack on European vessels occurred

until the day preceding the Governor's departure, when the

S.S. Cumfa was plundered by pirates (May 4, 1859 ) .

Owing to the long-continued disturbances in the Canton

Province, the population of Hongkong increased , with some

strange fluctuations (in 1856 and 1858 ) , from 56,011 people in

the year 1854 to 75,503 people in 1858 , the average annual

increase, during the five years of Sir J. Bowring's administration ,

being only 6,915 , though in the years 1854 and 1855 the annual

increment amounted to 16,954 people . Sir John explained these

fluctuations by saying that the returns of 1857 and 1858 were

under-estimated by error and that the ambulatory habits of the

Chinese residents might account for the inaccuracies of the

census of 1856 which reported 71,730 persons residing in

the Colony (exclusive of troops) . Referring to the year 1856 ,

Sir John reported an increase in the respectability of the Chinese

population and stated that a better class of people had com-

menced settling in Hongkong. It was also noticed in 1857

that the average proportion of Chinese females residing in the

Colony was far higher than it had ever been before.

In his report for the year 1854, the Colonial Surgeon (J.

Carroll Dempster) urged upon the Government the necessity of

securing drainage and ventilation for Chinese dwellings . He

stated that smallpox was the principal scourge of the Colony in

1854. In spring 1855, fever raged among the Chinese population , 1

some 800 deaths being reported between 6th February and 28th

April. Increased activity of the sanitary department caused,

in October 1856 , just after the commencement of the Arrow

War, much excitement among the Chinese residents owing to

the heavy fines imposed by the Magistrates under the new

Nuisance Ordinance (8 of 1856 ) and mobs of turbulent Chinese

paraded the streets . The year 1857 was reported upon by the


next Colonial Surgeon (Dr. Menzies) as having been distinguished

by more than average unhealthiness consequent upon the failure

of the usual amount of rain . But the next year was positively

disastrous. When Dr. Harland (the successor of Dr. Menzies)

died of fever in the year 1858 , it was noticed that he was the

fourth Colonial Surgeon who had fallen a victim to the climate.

His successor, Dr. Chaldecott, reported, as a novel appearance in

the Colony, the outbreak of true Asiatic cholera and hydro-

phobia . Whilst insisting upon the urgent need of improving the

sanitary condition of the Colony, repeatedly pointed out by his

predecessors, Dr. Chaldecott stated that this first appearance of

Asiatic cholera was, if not entirely owing to, at least fearfully

aggravated and extended by, the neglect of proper drainage and

cleanliness, the results of which must act with double force in

a community so crowded together as that of Victoria, and in

a climate so favourable to the decomposition of animal and

vegetable products." He reported that Asiatic cholera in

Hongkong first attacked the worst lodged and worst fed part

of the Chinese community, then some Indian servants, next the

European seamen both ashore and afloat and at the same time

some of the soldiers of the garrison and the prisoners in the

gaol, and that it finally, in three cases, attacked the higher class

of European inhabitants of the Colony and in one of those cases

proved fatal. The residents of Macao suffered at the same

time from the disease and cases occurred among the Allied Forces

at Canton and in some of the men-of-war in the River. The

disease afterwards visited the East Coast, reached Shanghai and

then raged with great virulence over a large part of the Japanese


The erection of waterworks was repeatedly mooted during

this period and particularly in the year 1858. Sir J. Bowring

publicly stated that some of the opponents of his Praya scheme

(Members of Council) had openly avowed their purpose of

swamping the surplus revenue, accumulating for Praya purposes,

by diverting it to other and hitherto unauthorized public works,

and that it was for this sinister purpose that the construction of


waterworks was prominently put forward. One of the principal

advocates of the waterworks scheme was the Colonial Secretary

(W. T. Mercer) . Observing that the pancity of the hill streams

on the northern side of the Island renders the procural of a

sufficient water supply for the city a matter of extreme difficulty,

and noticing also that this want is specially felt in the winter

season when conflagrations are most frequent among the Chinese

houses, he suggested to lead the water from Pokfulam round the

side of the hill, attracting at the same time the smaller rivulets

crossing the course of the proposed aqueduct. The Surveyor

General estimated the cost of this undertaking at £25,000.

Sir J. Bowring, however, opined that it was not the business

of the Government to furnish individuals with water any more

than any other necessaries of life and that therefore the annual

income of the Colony was not fairly applicable to such specula-

tions. Sir John suggested the formation of a joint-stock

company, but pointed out, at the same time, the difficulty of

collecting a water rate from the Chinese population .

In the sphere of commercial affairs, Sir J. Bowring was

unfortunate in coming, almost immediately after his arrival in

China, into collision with the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce.

When the capture of Shanghai by the Taipings brought the

Imperial customs office of that port to a standstill ( September

7 , 1853 , to February 9 , 1854) , Sir G. Bonham had suggested

that British merchants continuing trade there should deposit, in

the Consulate, bonds for the eventual payment of customs dues ..

The merchants demurred, on the ground that the Chinese

Government could not claim duties, as it had ceased to exercise

authority and to afford protection, and that American, Prussian

and Austrian vessels actually came and went without paying duty

on their cargoes. Sir J. Bowring had, before leaving London,

discussed the matter with Earl Clarendon and understood him

to say that those duties must be paid. By the time Sir John

reached Shanghai, the Chinese customs office had been re-

established (February 10, 1854) , but, after working irregularly,

ceased again (March 28, 1854 ) , whereupon the foreign Consuls -


agreed to collect duties by promissory notes. Sir John having

informed the Chamber of Commerce of Earl Clarendon's decision ,

the British merchants handed in their bonds for arrears of duties

down to July 12 , 1854. After making an arrangement with the

U.S. Minister that a European Inspector should be appointed

to collect temporarily the duties payable to the Chinese Govern-

ment, Sir John returned to Hongkong (Angust, 1854 ) and ,

to his great surprise, found there a dispatch awaiting him in

which the Foreign Office, acting under the advice of the Crown

Lawyers, instructed him to return the bonds to the parties by

whom they were given. Sir John forthwith ordered restoration

of those bonds which covered the period from September to

February, but retained the other bonds, as he interpreted his

instructions to authorize his doing so . But when the Shanghai

Chamber once more appealed to the Foreign Office, Earl

Clarendon told a deputation of the East India and China

Association (November, 1854) that Sir J. Bowring had received

positive instructions not to interfere in any way with the collec-

tion of duties. Sir John now suffered unmerited obloquy as the

Shanghai merchants, supposing him to have acted throughout

in a manner contrary to his instructions, censured his action in

the matter as markedly insincere and autocratic. So much more

does it redound to the credit of those same merchants, that they,

as soon as the news of the Parliamentary condemnation of Sir

John's character and conduct in connection with the Arrow

War reached Shanghai (April, 1857 ) , immediately passed reso-

lutions enthusiastically defending his character and justifying his

general conduct and policy.

The commerce of the Colony flourished throughout this

administration. The conclusion of Sir John's treaty with Siam

caused, since May, 1855, large shipments of Siamese produce

to pour into Hongkong. This caused an immediate revolution

of the rice trade which now fell largely into foreign hands,

whence resulted a welcome reduction of prices, as famine rates

had been ruling in Canton. The opening of Japan, by the

Convention concluded (October 14, 1854) by Admiral Sir James


Stirling, had no such immediate effect upon the trade of

Hongkong, but laid the basis of an important though slowly

developing branch of commerce. So also the trade with the

Philippine Islands, materially furthered by the opening (June

11 , 1855 ) of the ports of Saul, Iloilo, and Zamboanga (on the

island of Mindanao) , waited only for the establishment of regular

steam communication to benefit Hongkong more extensively

by an annually increasing demand for British manufactures.

Chinese emigration continued to develop from year to year.

An emigration officer was appointed by Sir John ( May, 1854)

with good effect. The first ship-load of emigrants to Jamaica

was reported (November, 1854) to have arrived safely at

Kingston. The efflux of emigrants to California and Australia

(especially to Melbourne) continued to increase. As many as

14,683 Chinese emigrants were shipped from Hongkong in the

year 1855, and 13,856 in 1858. The prohibition placed at one

time (September 1 , 1854) on the coolie trade to the Chincha

Islands, when that trade was believed to result in the most

aggravated form of slavery, was withdrawn again ( February 3,

1855) as measures had meanwhile been taken for the better

treatment and regular supervision of Chinese labourers on those

Islands. About the same time new regulations concerning the

diet and provisions of Chinese passengers in emigrant ships were

made (March 7, 1855) . Hongkong continued to be the port from

which all South-China emigrants, able to pay their passage,

preferred to embark for foreign countries. The existence at one

time (March, 1857 ) of closed coolie barracoons in Hongkong

was a shocking discovery, and was immediately put down . Sir

John thought the Chinese Passenger Ordinance too stringent as

regards Chinese emigrants paying their own passage, though for

the emigration of hired labourers under contract he considered

the Act much needed. The disturbed condition of affairs within

and without the Colony did not interfere much with the trade

of the Colony. The junk trade, indeed, fell off suddenly in

1857, during the pause in the hostilities when the Canton River

was virtually closed to Hongkong junks, and decreased by


270,244 tons in one year, but it speedily recovered again. The

foreign shipping returns for the five years of this administration

show an average yearly increase of 487 vessels, representing

251,350 tons, being 68 per cent. The tonnage increased from

300,000 to 700,000 tons of square-rigged vessels . The junk

trade improved on the whole in similar proportions. Aided

during this period by a great extension of the lines of com-

munication connecting Hongkong with other parts of the world,

the Colony not only continued to be the headquarters of all the

great commercial establishments in China, but became by this

time the most extensively visited port in the Pacific.

The currency question was not advanced in any way by

Sir J. Bowring. By order of the Colonial Office he published

(July 9 , 1857 ) a notification to the effect that Australian

sovereigns and half-sovereigns should have legal currency in

Hongkong. But he urged upon the consideration of Her

Majesty's Government the inconvenience of making the sover-

eign the standard of exchange in a country where gold is

not legal tender. He also inveighed against the absurdity of

keeping the accounts of the Government in Sterling in a

Colony where not a merchant, shopkeeper or any individual has

any transaction except in dollars and cents. Sir J. Bowring

went even further and urged the Lords Commissioners of H.M.

Treasury to sanction the introduction of a British dollar and

the establishment of a Mint in Hongkong. Unfortunately, this

sage proposal was rejected by the Treasury Board on the plea

that the mercantile supporters of Sir J. Bowring's notions were

merely some Shanghai merchants who had, from dissension

among themselves, prevented the introduction of Mexican dollars

into that place and whose obvious interest it was to advocate

any scheme which, if it succeeded, relieved them from difficulty

and, if it failed, would cost them nothing. Sir J. Bowring's

call for a British dollar was not only considered a risky

and expensive experiment but premature in view of the fact

that Sterling money remained, under the terms of the Royal

proclamation of May 1 , 1845 , the standard of value" in Hongkong,


In this, as in some other respects, Sir John's ideas were in

advance of his time.

How far behind the times some worthy men in Hongkong

kept lagging, is evidenced by the fact that in spring 1856 the

Lieutenant- Governor, Colonel W. Caine, revived the old sugges-

tion, first made by Captain Elliot (June 28 , 1841 ) and then

repeated by misguided Hongkong merchants (December, 1846) ,

that Parliament should impose a differential duty of one penny

per pound in favour of teas shipped from Hongkong. Colonel

Caine thought that, if this measure were adopted, the result

would need no demonstration. Sir J. Bowring, however,

incisively remarked in his covering dispatch, that the whole

system of differential duties was, in his view, obnoxious in

principle, fraudulent in practice and disappointing in result .

After this, no more was heard of the scheme.

Among the minor commercial topics which ephemerically

occupied the attention of the public, may be mentioned the

complaint made by the Postmaster General regarding the irregular

arrival of mail steamers (December 10 , 1854), the breaking up

of the Hongkong and Canton Steam Packet Company (December

13 , 1854) , and a decision given by the Supreme Court (May 2 ,

1855 ) to the effect that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam

Navigation Company must forward parcels without unnecessary

delay and have no right to leave any of the parcels for Europe

behind, at any point on their route, to make room for other


The fact that the commercial reputation of the Colony had ,

even by this time, not yet been re- established in England, became

painfully evident by an article which appeared ( December 17 ,

1858) in the Times and caused much comment in the Colony.

Hongkong was there represented as feeling humiliated and dis-

placed by the opening of so many Treaty ports in China. It was

alleged that all the success of British arms in China, so valuable

to the rest of the world and so important to the great interests

of humanity, was rather carped at by Hongkong merchants,

owing to their natural tendency towards their own individual


interests. The notion of the writer was apparently that of Mr.

M. Martin, whose influence came here once more (for the last

time perhaps ) to the fore, that the Colony was misplaced at

Hongkong and should be removed to Chusan, if a British Colony

was at all wanted in China. All the advantages of Hongkong

were said to consist exclusively in its proximity to the single

privileged port of Canton, the writer labouring under the

supposition that Hongkong's successes were merely derived from

Canton's difficulties .

The educational history of this period is characterized by

a sensible decline of the voluntary schools . The Anglo -Chinese

College, numbering from 30 to 85 scholars, was closed at the

end of the year 1856 owing to the results not justifying its

continuance. Though it had trained some useful clerks for

mercantile offices, it had failed from a missionary and educational

point of view, and, recognizing the failure, Dr. Legge courageously

closed this College. St. Paul's College continued for some years

longer, but Sir J. Bowring, weighing its results in the official


scales, pronounced it likewise a failure. For the last six years '


he said, 250 pounds a year has been voted by Parliament to the

Bishop's College for the education of six persons destined to the

public service, and not a single individual from that College has

been yet declared competent to undertake even the meanest

department of an interpreter's duty, though I have no doubt of

the Bishop's zeal and wish to show some practical and beneficial

result from the said Parliamentary grant. To the missionaries

alone I can at present look for active assistance, and their special

objects do not usually fit them for the direction of popular and

general education.' A new educational movement was initiated.

(March 6 , 1855 ) by a public meeting which, complaining that

Hongkong was still without a Public School for English children,

who were educationally less cared for than the Chinese, esta-

blished amid general enthusiasm a school (thenceforth known as

St. Andrew's School) under a representative and highly popular

Committee (the Hon . J. F. Edger, A. Shortrede, James Smith,

B. C. Antrobus, C. D. Williams, Douglas Lapraik, F. W. M. Green,


and Geo. Lyall). But though this School was well started

and continued under the fostering care of Mr. Shortrede , the

conviction soon forced itself upon public recognition that the

Committee's original idea of confining the School to the tuition

of the children of British residents was impracticable. Weighed

in the popular scales, this School was also found wanting , though

it lingered on for a few years longer. But while the principal

voluntary schools thus declined during this period , and the

smaller day schools established by the Protestant and Catholic

missions for the benefit of the Chinese also continued in a lan-

guishing condition , the 13 Government Schools, giving a purely

Chinese education , flourished and developed both in attendance

and in organisation, through the appointment (May 12, 1857)

of an Inspector, the Rev. W. Lobscheid . The Acting Colonial

Secretary (Dr. W. T. Bridges ) , while stating ( March, 1857 ) that

nothing could well be at a lower ebb than the local educational

movement, recognized distinct signs of healthy vitality in the

Government Schools (small as they were) which he personally


There is but little to record concerning the religious affairs

of this period . Great indignation was aroused when Sir

J. Bowring declined (May 25 , 1855 ) the request of Bishop Smith

that the Governor should appoint the 6th June, 1855 , as a day

of fast and humiliation , with reference to the Crimean War and

in imitation of the popular action taken in England . Sir John

incurred the unjust condemnation of most religiously inclined

people in the Colony, but his action was strongly approved by

the Colonial Office because the proclamation of a public fast day

is a prerogative which even the Sovereign, as the head of the

Church of England, may exercise only in the form of an Order

in Council. A few years later, Bishop Smith came (October 18,

1858 ) again to the front by the publication of a stirring letter

addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury in review of the

Tientsin Treaty as favourably affecting the prospects of Chris-

tianity in the East . This letter, in which the zealous Bishop

appealed to the Church for renewed missionary efforts in China,


had considerable effect both in England and on the Continent .

In May, 1858, a public subscription was raised in Hongkong to

obtain, under the advice of Sir F. G. Ouseley, the Oxford

Professor of Music. an organ (to cost £ 125 ) and a first- class

organist. In result a highly trained and talented musician

(C. F. A. Sangster) was sent out (in 1860) and he conducted

the Cathedral choir for 35 years with great success.

While the social life of Hongkong continued on the whole

to center in Government House, Sir J. Bowring occupied to some

extent the position held by his literary confrère and one of his

gubernatorial predecessors, Sir J. Davis. Both men were about

equal in genius and equally unpopular in Hongkong. It was

often remarked that the friends and admirers of Sir J. Bowring-

and that he had such, there is ample testimony-were mostly

non-English . A correspondent of the New York Times (January

4, 1859 ) represented in glowing colours Sir John Bowring's

sociability and intellectuality, alleging that one secret of Sir

John's unpopularity in the detestable society of Hongkong ' was

the democratic simplicity he adhered to in his style of living.

Among the occurrences which gave colour to the social life of

this period, the following incidents may be enumerated , viz . the

arrival (August 1, 1854) of the U.S. store-ship Supply, the

officers of which had just surveyed extensive coal beds in

Formosa ; the arrival (August 14, 1854) of the American ship

Lady Pierce with her owner Silas E. Burrows ; the strike

(September 12 , 1854) of local washermen who demanded better

pay the presentation (September 14, 1854) by the American

community of Canton and Hongkong of a service of plate to

Commodore Perry in command of the U.S. Squadron ; the arrival

(November 1 , 1854 ) from the Arctic Ocean of the discovery-ship

Enterprise ; a public farewell dinner given (November 20 , 1858 )

to the officers of the 59th Regiment (2nd Nottinghamshire)

which had been nine years in China ; the series of theatrical

entertainments (since January, 1859 ) given by the officers of

the 1st or Royal Regiment who issued season tickets for the



The following facts may be mentioned as indicative of the

progress made by the Colony during this period, viz. the form-

ation, at the instance of Mr. W. Gaskell, of a local Law Society

(October 28 , 1854) ; the organisation of a volunteer fire brigade

(January 23) and a Chinese fire- brigade ( March 7 , 1856 ) ; the

improved lighting of the town, including now also Praya East

and Wantsai , 100 oil lamps being added (October 1 , 1856 ) to

the previously existing 250 oil lamps, and the lighting rate

providing for the whole expenditure (Ordinance 11 of 1856 ) ;

the establishment at Pokfulam of a number of villas for use as

sanatoriums and of farms laid out to grow ginger and coffee

(June, 1856 ) ; the establishment by Mr. Douglas Lapraik and

Captain J. Lamont of new docks at Aberdeen (June, 1857) .

The measure of turmoil which the Colony underwent, during

this period, through warfare without and within, was added to by

accidental calamities. Even before the emissaries of Cantonese

Mandarins invaded Hongkong as patriotic incendiaries, some

serious conflagrations took place in the central part of the town

( February 16 , 1855 ) , in Taipingshan (January 27 , 1856 ) and

at the western market (February 23, 1856 ) . A harmless shock

of earthquake was felt in Hongkong ( September 28 , 1854 ) , heavy

rains did a great amount of damage to drains, roads and Chinese

houses (June 22 , 1855 ) , and a typhoon passed very near to the

Colony (September, 1855 ) causing much injury to the shipping

and the piers, besides burying a number of houses at Queen's

Road West by a land-slip, the immediate consequence of the

heavy rain which accompanied this typhoon.

The obituary of this period includes, among others, the

names of Mrs. Irwin (July 21 , 1857 ) , Colonel Lugard

(December 1 , 1857 ) , Dr. W. A. Harland (September 12 , 1858 ),

and Acting Attorney General J. Day ( September 21 , 1858 ) .

Since the death of J. R. Morrison (in 1843 ) , no event in

Hongkong was mourned so generally and so deeply as the death

of Dr. Harland, who since 1844 had acted as Resident Surgeon at

Seamen's Hospital and latterly as Colonial Surgeon, and died of

fever contracted while charitably attending on the Chinese poor.


Sir J. Bowring's administration terminated at a time

( May 5 , 1859 ) when the passionate comments of the English

press, reviewing the Parliamentary discussions of Hongkong's

misdeeds , reached the Colony and thereby reproduced a consider-

able amount of popular excitement. Sir J. Bowring departed,

like Sir J. Davis, amid the execrations of a large portion of

the European community and the blustering roar of farewell

condemnations poured forth by local editors. In one respect

Sir J. Bowring fared even worse than his predecessors . Neither

Sir H. Pottinger, nor Sir J. Davis, nor in fact any Governor

of Hongkong before or after him, not even Sir J. Pope Hennessy ,

was so extravagantly abused as Sir J. Bowring. The venomous

epithets and libellous accusations, continuously hurled at him by

the public press (China Mail excepted) until the very moment

of his departure, are unfit to be mentioned. It clearly was

his personal character rather than his policy that provoked the

ire of his political opponents. As in the case of Sir J. Davis,

so now the European community marked their dislike of the

Governor by lavishing extra favours on the departing Admiral

while ignoring the Governor's exit . On 16th March, 1859, the

leading merchants presented to Sir Michael Seymour, K.C.B. ,

a magniloquent address and a draft on London to the amount of

2,000 guineas for the purchase of a service of plate, to mark the

sense of the Hongkong community of his great services and of

the respect entertained for him personally. In his reply,

Sir Michael gracefully referred to the advantages he had enjoyed

in having had, previous to the arrival of Lord Elgin, the advice

and experience of Sir J. Bowring to aid him. But when, a

few weeks later, the Governor left the Colony, the European

community presented neither address nor testimonial, sullenly

ignoring his departure, until the rare event of a public auction

held at Government House (May 20, 1859) drew the European

community together in sarcastic frolics over their ex-Governor's

goods and chattels,

The Chinese community, however, stolidly indifferent to

the dissentient views of foreign public opinion, came forward


right loyally. Two stately deputations of Chinese waited on

Sir J. Bowring at the last moment of his departure and expressed

the genuine esteem in which he was held among all classes of

the native population, by presenting him with some magnificent

testimonials including a mirror, a bronze vase, a porcelain bowl

and a bale of satin which bore the names of 200 subscribers.

The spontaneous character of these presentations was undoubted

and did much to cheer the departing Governor's heart.

On his way home by S.S. Pekin, Sir J. Bowring had the

misfortune of being shipwrecked in the Red Sea, but he reached

England in safety. He, the advanced Liberal, received the

thanks of a Conservative Ministry for his faithful and patient

services in Hongkong, but he was, on the other hand, given the

cold shoulder in the lobby of the House of Commons by some

of his former political friends. After his retirement from the

public service on a liberal pension, he lectured frequently on

Oriental topics ; wrote papers on social, economical and statistical

questions ; gave addresses at meetings of the Social Science

Association, the British Association, the Devonshire and other

Societies : studied Chinese and composed religious poems, some

of which possess enduring value. Calmly looking back at the

close of his life over all the varied events of his chequered history,

and viewing his career in China as but a small portion of his

life work, Sir J. Bowring penned, in his auto- biographical

recollections, the following memorable words. 'My career in

China belongs so much to history, that I do not feel it needful

to record its vicissitudes . I have been severely blamed for the

policy I pursued , yet that policy has been most beneficial to

my country and to mankind at large. It is not fair or just to

suppose that a course of action, which may be practicable or

prudent at home, will always succeed abroad.' Sir J. Bowring

died peacefully on 23rd November, 1872 , having just completed

his eightieth year.




September 9, 1859, to March 15, 1865.

T the close of Sir J. Bowring's administration , the condition


of the Colony and its reputation in England were such

that the selection of a new Governor was as difficult a matter

as it had been when Sir H. Pottinger or Sir J. Davis vacated

the post . It was evident, on the one hand, that now a man

was wanted who possessed not only common sense but combined

with the firmness of a strict disciplinarian the fine tact and

large views of a man whose mind is seasoned with humanity and

able to bring into ripening maturity what seeds of goodness had

been sown . But, on the other hand, the sanitary, social and

moral reputation of Hongkong was so bad that the offer of the

governorship of Hongkong afforded no encouragement to a man

of such high abilities as were required for this office. Sir

Hercules Robinson was precisely the man that was wanted to

clear out this redoubtable Augean stable in China. Though he

occupied at the time an insignificant governorship on the opposite

side of the globe, he probably did not feel in the least flattered

by the offer of the Hongkong appointment, unless he looked at

it as implying, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, a

compliment to his abilities. Sir Hercules had originally served

in the 87th Fusiliers and, on his retirement from the Army,

found civil employment during the Irish famine ( 1846 to 1849)

under the Commissioners of Public Work and Poor-Law Board

in Ireland. He had subsequently ( 1852) acted as Chief-

Commissioner to inquire into the fairs and markets of Ireland

and, in recognition of his services, been promoted to the

Presidency of Montserrat ( 1854) . Then he became Lieutenant-



Governor of St. Christopher ( 1854) and combined with the latter

post the dormant commission of Governor-in-chief of the Leeward

Islands. Consequent upon his courageous acceptance of the

governorship of Hongkong, he was created a Knight Bachelor

in June, 1859.

Sir H. Robinson, destined by Providence to reap where his

predecessors had sown, arrived in Hongkong on September 9th,

1859 , and took on the same day the oaths of his office as

Governor and Commander-in-chief and Vice-Admiral, being the

first Governor of Hongkong entirely dissociated from the Super-

intendency of Trade and from the diplomatic duties of H.M.

Plenipotentiary in China. During his tenure of office, Sir

Hercules was twice absent on furlough, first for a brief visit to

Japan (July 17 to September 8 , 1861 ) , and subsequently for a

longer term (July 12 , 1862, to February 11 , 1864) , during which

he visited England and transacted (in autumn , 1863) some

business for the Colonial Office as a Member of the Commission

appointed to inquire into the financial condition of the Straits

Settlements. On leaving Hongkong on the latter occasion (July

12, 1862 ) , after but three years of his administration, so great

was the change already wrought in the commercial, financial

and administrative condition of Hongkong affairs, that he was

presented on his departure with enthusiastic addresses from the

local Volunteers, the Bishop and all the Members of Council,

congratulating him on the undoubted success achieved . During

his absence from Hongkong, the government of the Colony was

on both occasions, as well as after his final departure,

administered by the Colonial Secretary (W. T. Mercer) who

faithfully and successfully continued the line of policy initiated

by Sir Hercules. The recognition of the improved status which

the Colony had gained by this time found expression in the

permission now (January 23, 1863) given to the Governor of

Hongkong to wear the uniform of the first class.

By the time when Sir H. Robinson arrived in Hongkong

(September 9, 1859), the Superintendency of Trade had already

been removed to Shanghai where Sir F. W. Bruce (since June,


6, 1859 ) , as H.M. Minister in China, was waiting for instructions,

after the defeat of the British fleet at the Peiho (June 25 ,

1859). British and French relations with China were at a

standstill . The U.S. Minister Ward had attempted (June 27,

1859 ) to get the start of the Allies and to be the first to obtain

an audience of the Emperor, but found himself treated in the

precise form of a barbarian tribute bearer and retired discomfited .

After much delay, a plan of action was agreed upon between

England and France, and by order of Lord John Russell

(November 10 , 1859) a mild form of an ultimatum was presented

to the Chinese Authorities ( December, 1859 ) . Whilst this

ultimatum was under the consideration of the Chinese Ministers,

the Viceroy of the two Kiang Provinces in Central China (Ho

Kwei-sin) , pressed by the Taiping rebellion , urged his Govern-

ment to make peace with England and France and actually asked

the Allies ( March, 1860) for military assistance against the

Taipings. But the moment this became known in Peking, an

order went forth for his arrest and he was punished as a traitor.

A defiant reply to the ultimatum of the Allies was now issued

(April 8 , 1860 ) , such as left no room for further negotiations.

The Chinese Government bluntly declared that they had never

intended to carry out the provisions of the Tientsin Treaty.

The Allies were not prepared for an immediate resumption of

the war, but the Island of Chusan was meanwhile (April 21 ,

1860) occupied by the British fleet . Happily, in spite of renewed

protests against the war policy initiated by Lord Palmerston

and regardless of the fresh denunciations of Sir J. Bowring's

action, hurled against him by Mr. Bright and Mr. Sidney Herbert

(March 16 , 1860) , Parliament decreed that the honour of Great

Britain was at stake. Lord Elgin had to return to China with

a new army to do over again the work he had botched by his

misplaced meekness. As soon as the re-inforcements arrived in

China, the Taku forts were carried by assault and Tientsin occupied

(August 26 , 1860). Finally, after a shocking demonstration

of Chinese official treachery and barbarity, Peking was taken

(October 13, 1860) , the Imperial summer palace burnt by way


of retribution ( October 18 , 1860 ) , and the Peking Convention

(October 24, 1860) secured at last the ratification of the long

dormant Treaty of Tientsin. In accordance with the demand

of the Allies , the conduct of international affairs was now

transferred from Canton to Peking and the Tsungli Yamen was

created (January, 1861 ) as a special department for foreign

affairs. After the death of the irreconcilably hostile Emperor

Hienfung (August 22, 1861 ), Prince Kung came to the front

and by a coup d'état (November 1 , 1861 ) made himself virtually

Prime Minister of a new regency, the heads of which were the

Empress Dowager and the Empress Mother of the infant Emperor

Tungchi. Next , Prince Kung established the Foreign Maritime

Customs Service which was ably organized by Mr. H. N. Lay

with the assistance of Mr. (subsequently Sir) Robert Hart.

During Mr. Lay's absence in England ( 1862 to 1863) to bring

out a flotilla of gunboats under Captain Sherard Osborne, R.N. ,

Sir R. Hart gained the entire confidence of the Chinese Govern-

ment. Mr. Lay was, owing to his imperious refusal to place

that flotilla under the orders of the Provincial Authorities,

dismissed by Prince Kung (July 19 , 1864) and Sir R. Hart

obtained the supreme control of the Foreign Customs Service.

With the aid of the Allied Forces (since February 21 , 1862 )

Shanghai was delivered from a threatened attack of the Taipings

and, thanks to the services of the Ever-Victorious Army under

General Ch. Gordon (January 6 , 1863, to June 1 , 1864) , the

Taiping rebellion was crushed by the capture of Nanking (July

19, 1864) and peace restored in the Empire for awhile.

During this time the relations of Hongkong with the

Chinese Government had steadily improved. As long as the

occupation of Canton by the Allied Forces continued (January

5 , 1858, to October 21 , 1861 ) , Hongkong was virtually the

port of supply for Canton city. The renewal of the war with

China, in 1860, also gave a fresh stimulus to Colonial activities

in various directions and the commissariat and transport services,

required by the Allied Forces from October, 1859, to the close

of the year 1860, caused the shipping interests of the Colony to


develop enormously for a time, whilst the war itself raged at

a distance.

The principal benefit of a lasting character that Hongkong

derived from this second war with China consists in the

acquisition of the Kowloon Peninsula. The first official sug-

gestion of the great importance attaching to Kowloon appears to

have originated with a naval officer. On 2nd March, 1858 ,

four months before the conclusion of the Tientsin Treaty,

Captain W. K. Hall, of H.M.S. Calcutta, forwarded to the local

Government copy of a letter addressed by him to the Earl of

Hardwicke. In this letter, Captain Hall represented that the

present opportunity of obtaining the cession of Kowloon Point

and Stonecutters ' Island should not be lost, especially as another

Power might occupy these vantage points to the great detriment

of Hongkong. Captain Hall argued that the Kowloon Peninsula

would afford much needed sea-frontage for commercial building

lots and additional barrack accommodation ; that the British

occupation of Kowloon would remove the danger with which

the mercantile shipping, anchored during the typhoon season in

close proximity to the settlement of lawless Chinese vagabonds

at Tsimshatsui, was threatened ; that H.M. Naval Yard ought

to be transferred to Kowloon and its present side utilized for

barracks ; and that Stonecutters' Island would be useful for a

quarantine establishment and for the strengthening of the defences

of the Colony. It seems that General Ch . van Straubenzee at

once took up Captain Hall's suggestion and reported to the War

Office (in March, 1858) that he had forwarded to Lord Elgin

a recommendation to include among the claims to be made at

the conclusion of the war the cession of Kowloon Peninsula .

Lord Elgin, who never did anything for Hongkong that he

could help and did not even take the trouble to conceal his

aversion to the Colony, refused to entertain the suggestion of

the annexation of Kowloon . He said he had no instructions

on the subject. Accordingly the Treaty of Tientsin (June 28,

1858) left Hongkong in the exact position in which it was under

the Treaty of Nanking. Sir J. Bowring, however, drew the


attention of the Colonial Office to the importance of Kowloon ,

and in the following year (March 29, 1859) distinctly recom-

mended its annexation by cession in the following words. The

possession of the small peninsula opposite the Island is become

of more and more importance. To say nothing of questions of

military and naval defence, it would be of great commercial and

sanatory value, while to the Chinese it is not only of no value,.

but a seat of anarchy and a source of embarrassment . I hope-

therefore that measures will be taken for obtaining a cession

of this tract of land .' In October, 1850 , the Downing Street

Authorities urged this recommendation upon the consideration

of the War Office in connection with the renewal of the war

with China, and on March 12th, 1860 , Mr. Sidney Herbert

(then Secretary of State for War) , agreeing with this proposal,

dispatched to Hongkong a memorandum on the military oc--

cupation of Kowloon . Strange to say, on the very same day

(March 12 , 1860) Sir H. Robinson forwarded to Sir F. W. Bruce,

at the urgent suggestion of Sir H. Parkes, a memorandum on

the civil occupation of Kowloon. Sir H. Parkes had been

urging the Governor to take the peninsula on a lease which he,

as Chief of the Commission in occupation of Canton, believed

he could easily obtain from the Cantonese Viceroy Lao Tsung-

Kwong. Sir Hercules was at first unwilling to ask for a lease

because the charter of the Colony made no provision for such

an arrangement . He shrank from asking the Chinese Govern-

ment to grant, as a favour, ground which at the moment was

needed for the prosecution of the war. Indeed a part of the

peninsula had, with the Governor's sanction , already been

informally utilized (since February, 1860 ) as camping ground.

Nevertheless Sir Hercules forwarded Sir H. Parkes' proposition.

to Sir F. Bruce on March 12th, 1860. The next day (March

13, 1860) a new advocate of the annexation of Kowloon, and

one who afterwards claimed to have originated the idea, arrived

in Hongkong, in the person of General Sir Hope Grant, G.C.B. ,.

the commander of the English expedition . His statement is as


follows. On the opposite coast, and within three-quarters of


a mile, was the promontory of Kowloon , a spot of which I was

most anxious to gain immediate possession-firstly, because its

occupation was absolutely essential for the defence of Hongkong

harbour and the town of Victoria ; secondly, because it was an

open healthy spot, admirably suited for a camping ground on

the arrival of our troops ; thirdly, because at the conclusion

of the war it would be a salubrious site for the erection of

barracks required for the Hongkong garrison ; and lastly, because,

if we did not take it, the French probably would . This tract

was about two miles in breadth and was particularly healthy,

owing to its being exposed to the south- west monsoon . There

were, however, difficulties in the way. Mr. Bruce, our Plenipo-

tentiary, had sent an ultimatum to the Chinese Government

allowing them a month to reply and war had not yet been

actually declared ; so the forcible seizure of the promontory

would not have been quite legal. ' From Sir H. Parkes' journal

it appears that on March 16th, 1860, he had a consultation with

Sir H. Robinson and General Grant, and this is what he says of

it. 6 After hearing what I had to say, both Sir H. Robinson

and Sir Hope Grant came round to my way of thinking as to

the desirability of getting a lease of Kowloon , although they had

already begun to land troops... Sir H. Robinson is all eagerness

that it should be settled forthwith and that I should get back

to Canton to arrange it as speedily as possible.' As soon as it

was found that Sir F. Bruce also approved of the proposed lease,

Sir Hercules formally authorized Sir H. Parkes to arrange a

lease. Viceroy Lao made no difficulty and on March 21st , 1860 ,

signed, sealed and delivered a lease which granted the Kowloon

Peninsula in perpetuity to Harry Smith Parkes, Esquire, Com-

panion of the Bath, a Member of the Allied Commission at

Canton, on behalf of Her Britannic Majesty's Government.'

On March 24th, 1860, Colonel Macmahon gave notice to the

Chinese occupants of Kowloon that no further settlers would

be allowed to come there in future but all orderly people already

located there would be protected and outlaws driven away.

When Lord Elgin arrived (June 21 , 1860), the occupation of


Kowloon was happily an accomplished fact which he could not

undo. Accordingly he arranged in his Peking Convention

(October 24, 1860) that the lease of Kowloon should be cancelled

and that the peninsula should with a view to the maintenance

of law and order in and about the harbour of Hongkong, be

ceded to H.M. the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Her

heirs and successors, to have and to hold as a Dependency of

Her Britannic Majesty's Colony of Hongkong.' It was further

stipulated in this Convention that Chinese claims to property on

the peninsula should be duly investigated by a Mixed Commission

and payment awarded to any Chinese (whose claims might be

established) if their removal should be deemed necessary. In

pursuance of these stipulations a Commission was appointed

( December 26 , 1860 ) and the ceremony of handing over Kowloon

Peninsula to the British Crown was solemnly performed (January

19, 1861 ) in the presence of a large assembly and some 2,000

troops . One of the Cantonese Mandarins delivered a paper full

of soil to Lord Elgin in token of the cession . Sir Hercules and

Lady Robinson and Sir H. Parkes assisted at this function

and the royal standard was hoisted amid the cheers of the

assembly and the thunders of salutes fired by the men-of-war in

the harbour and by a battery on Stonecutters ' Island . This was

the last official act performed in China by Lord Elgin who with

unfeigned relief left Hongkong forthwith (January 21 , 1861 )

for England by way of Manila and Batavia. His name was

perpetuated in Hongkong by its being given to a terrace which at

the time was a fashionable quarter of the town. Sir H. Robinson

had appointed Mr. Ch . May to act as British Commissioner in

conjunction with some Chinese deputies to adjust native claims

and to mark out the boundary, for which purpose he was assisted

by Mr. Bird of the Royal Engineers ' Department, who surveyed

and mapped out the whole peninsula . But now arose the

question how to allot the ground between the Colony, the Army

and Navy. Sir Hercules appointed for this purpose a Board in

which Mr. Ch . St. G. Cleverly represented the Civil Government,

Colonel Mann, R.E., the Army, and Captain Borlase, R.N., the


Admiralty. But this Board reported (March 7 , 1861 ) their

inability to come to any agreement. The matter had to be

referred home. Sir Hope Grant claimed -that the idea of

appropriating the peninsula had originated with the Military

Authorities ; that the Colonial Office had approved of the

occupation of Kowloon for military purposes ; that the lease

had been obtained by his own authority ; that the peninsula ceded

by the Peking Convention should therefore be converted into

a purely military cantonment separate and apart from the

Government of Hongkong ; that at any rate the highest and

healthiest ground of the peninsula should immediately be utilized

for the erection of barracks. Plans for the latter were forwarded

by General Grant without delay ( April , 1861 ) and approved, with

some alterations, by the War Office (March 13 , 1862 ) . On the

other hand, Sir H. Robinson represented to the Colonial Office

(February 13, 1861 ) -that the idea of appropriating Kowloon

did not originate with the Military Authorities ; that the

Hongkong Government, in originally mooting the acquisition

of Kowloon, had in view the necessity of providing for the wants

of the general population as well as of the military garrison ;

that the lease was obtained under his own authority ; that the

Peking Convention expressly declared the peninsula to be ceded

as a Dependency of the Colony of Hongkong ; that the peninsula

is indispensable to the welfare of the Colony, it being required

to keep the Chinese population at some distance and to preserve

the European and American community from the injury and

inconvenience of intermixture with the Chinese residents ; that

the peninsula is further needed by the Colony to provide storage

accommodation , room for docks, for hospitals, for private

residences and for air and exercise ; that the site specially claimed

by the Military Authorities is indispensable for the foregoing

purposes and that, without that site, it would be almost worthless

to the Colony to have Kowloon at all. Strange to say , these

incontrovertible arguments of Sir H. Robinson, which the

subsequent history of Kowloon proved to have been based on

truth, were brushed aside by the simple fiat of the Imperial


Government. The wants, the welfare and the development of

the Colony were mercilessly sacrificed to Imperial military

interests which after all were soon found to be ill-served by this

unrighteous appropriation . But that, in addition to the serious

and permanent injury thus inflicted upon the Colony, an annual

military contribution was likewise demanded, can be explained

only by the assumption that Her Majesty's Government was

kept in ignorance of the serious blow which the prosperity of

Hongkong received by being deprived of the advantages which

the civil occupation of Kowloon would have afforded. The

dispute dragged on until 1864, when the Military Authorities.

got the lion's share and certain prescriptive rights over the

remainder, which was divided between the Colony and the Navy.

At a land sale, held in 1864 (July 25 to 29 ) , some 26 marine and

39 inland lots were sold, on short leases, at a premium of $4,050

and an annual rent of $ 18,793 (of which sum hardly one-fourth

was ever paid). The one portion which was of essential value

for the Colony was retained by the Military Authorities.

In spring, 1860, a novel proposition was under discussion .

The idea was mooted of appointing a Governor- General of

H.M. Insular Possessions in the East, who should combine the

civil and military government of Mauritius, Ceylon , the Straits

Settlements and Hongkong. Nothing further came of this

amalgamation scheme, however, beyond the appointment of a

Colonial Defence Commission .

The relations of the Colony with the Cantonese Authorities

were, after the evacuation of Canton (October 21 , 1861 ) , under

the care of H.M. Consul at Canton, subject to the control of the

British Minister at Peking. Nevertheless, when any pressing

case occurred, this circumlocutory process was occasionally

set aside. To give but one instance, it happened in January,

1865, that a Chinese resident of Hongkong was kidnapped from

a boat in the harbour and held for ransom in a village near

Shamtsün in the Sun-on District . The new Registrar General

(C. C. Smith), without loss of time, obtained the use of

H.M.S. Woodcock and proceeded to Deep Bay. A party of 25-


blue-jackets, under the command of Captain Boxer, of H.M.S.

Hesper, went inland with the Registrar General and captured ,

happily without resistance, both the kidnapper and his prisoner

who were brought to Hongkong .

One of the earliest subjects that engaged the attention of

Sir H. Robinson in Hongkong was Civil Service reform . Very

wisely he commenced his labours in this direction with an

attempt to revise official salaries. But when the draft of an

Ordinance ( 13 of 1860 ) for establishing a revised Civil List came

under discussion in Legislative Council ( December 26 , 1859 ) ,

the unofficial Members (J. Jardine, J. Dent and Geo. Lyall)

urged that , although the salaries of most of the Civil Servants

were inadequate, there were at present no available funds for

effecting a general increase of salaries. They recommended ,

however, to increase the salaries of four subordinate officers whom

they named. There was also thrown out a suggestion that

Hongkong officials, instead of having their salaries increased on

account of length of service, should have a chance of promotion

to other Colonies. Sir H. Robinson, though foiled to some

extent in his Civil List reforms, succeeded in establishing a

Pension Scheme (May 5, 1862 ) under Ordinance 10 of 1862

by which he definitely fixed the rate of pension payable to officers

of long and approved service.

Several new offices were established by Sir H. Robinson .

For the benefit of the mercantile marine, the Governor established

a Marine Court of Inquiry ( Ordinance 11 of 1860 ) and a Board

of Examiners for granting certificates of competency to masters

and mates (Ordinance 17 of 1860 ) . The first certificate so issued

was obtained by Mr. Samuel Ashton of the schooner Vinder

(August 31 , 1861 ) and between July, 1863 , and June, 1864 , as

many as 48 masters and 28 mates were passed by this Board of

Examiners. Sir Hercules also re-organized the Police Court

(Ordinance 6 of 1862 ) by substituting (July 23, 1862 ) two-

magistrates with equal power (Ch. May and J. Ch . Whyte)

for the former chief magistrate and his assistant . At the same

time (July 7 , 1862 ) a Court for Summary Jurisdiction, under


a Puisne Judge ( H. J. Ball ) was established by Ordinance 7 of

1862 as a branch of the Supreme Court.

But the principal and most beneficial addition to the Civil

Service machinery, devised by Sir H. Robinson, was undoubtedly

the series of reforms, culminating in his Cadet Scheme, which

he introduced for the better government of the Chinese

population of the Colony. Sir Hercules, who appeared to have

taken Sir Harry Parkes' dealings with the Chinese for his

model, took special pains to make sure of two things, first,

that the Chinese should be fully and correctly informed of

the nature, purport and details of every Government measure

affecting their interests, and, secondly, that in every case the

Governor should be accurately informed of what the Chinese

in any case, public or private, really wanted or needed or wished

to say . In harmony with the first part of this programme,

Sir Hercules organized a translation office and secured the

publication of correct translations of every decision he made

in Chinese affairs. He first recognized this need in connection

with the resistance offered by the Chinese pawnbrokers and

cargo boat people to firmer supervision by the Government and

had forthwith careful translations of the respective Ordinances

published (May 5 and November 24, 1860 ) . But he went

farther and established (March 1 , 1862) a separate Chinese

issue of the Hongkong Government Gazette. He not only

arranged that every Government measure affecting the Chinese

residents should be published in this Gazette, but took great

pains personally to test the fulness and correctness of the

translators' work. In pursuance of the second part of this

programme, Sir Hercules took a bold step. He deliberately

discarded the attempt to govern the Chinese directly through

their own headmen (Tipous), summarily dismissed all the Tipons

(June 30 , 1861 ) and made the Registrar General exercise,

with regard to the Chinese population , the same functions

which the Colonial Secretary performed in relation to the

European population . This measure was virtually a return to

the original bifurcation of government which Captain Elliot


aimed at when the Colony was formed in 1841. The first

number of the Chinese issue of the Hongkong Government

Gazette (March 1 , 1862 ) introduced this new policy by the

simple notification, which really constituted a revolution in the

government of the Chinese population, that thenceforth all

applications to the Government, on the part of Chinese residents,

must be made by petition (pien ) to the Registrar General.

Sir Hercules, however, clearly foresaw that for the success of

this measure it was indispensable that the Registrar General's

office should thenceforth be entrusted only to men who were

not only acquainted with the Chinese language and Chinese

modes of thought and life, but in sympathy and touch with

the Chinese people. It was, in the first instance, for this purpose

that he established his Cadet Scheme. On the model of the

system organized by Sir J. Bowring for the training of Consular

interpreters, Sir Hercules launched (March 23, 1861 ) a scheme

to provide the Colony with a staff of well-educated interpreters

who should study the Chinese language in Hongkong and be

eligible, when qualified , for promotion to the headship of several

departments. They were not intended to act as Court

interpreters but to fill eventually those of the higher offices

in the Service in which a knowledge of the Chinese mind and

character afforded some special advantage. This scheme having

met with the approval of H.M. Government, three such cadets

(C. C. Smith, W. M. Deane and M. S. Tonnochy) were appointed

(April 3 , 1862 ) student interpreters, and underwent two

probationary examinations in the year 1863. Mr. (subsequently

Sir) C. C. Smith was the first cadet who acted as Registrar

General, that is to say as Colonial Secretary for the Chinese

population (October 24 , 1864 ) , Mr. Tonnochy taking his place

in the same capacity later on (November 1 , 1865 ) .

The inquiry into the Civil Service abuses of the preceding

administration was entrusted by the Secretary of State to the

Governor in Executive Council and commenced on 13th August,

1860. As these meetings of Council were held in public and all

the records and evidence were printed and published, this terribly


protracted investigation served only to stir up once more the

mud of old animosities and produced renewed mutual incrimina-

tions between the Registrar General (who resigned and withdrew

from his office) and the Superintendent of Police. Moreover,

the excessive latitude which the Governor allowed to all parties

in the case gave to the editor of the Daily Press fresh opportunity

to raise side issues and to produce even prisoners from the gaol

to aid him in hunting down the object of his hatred. The final

result of this distressing inquiry (continued until September 24,

1861 ) was that the Colony permanently lost the services of the

man who was indisputably the best Court interpreter the Colony

ever possessed, and who was never equalled in efficiency as a

detective police officer. But the rancour of the editor of the

Daily Press was not satisfied with the scope of the inquiry. He

clamoured for further investigations and desired the former

Acting Colonial Secretary to be impeached . When Sir H.

Robinson resisted any re-opening of the inquiry, the irate editor

appealed to the Secretary of State, hurling various charges

against the Governor and (in his absence) against the Adminis-

trator (W. T. Mercer). After a lengthy correspondence, the

Duke of Newcastle at last (in autumn 1862) informed the

complainant that, as he had five times been prosecuted for libel,

he was not entitled to any consideration and that the Colonial

Office would henceforth receive no more communications from

him. The same Secretary of State regulated also, by Circular of

August 20, 1863, the extent to which public officers might write

for or to the public papers. The Duke of Newcastle laid down

the rule that, whilst there is no objection to public servants

furnishing newspapers with articles signed with their names on

subjects of general interest, they are not at liberty to write

on questions which can properly be called political, nor to furnish

any articles whatever to newspapers which, in commenting on

the measures of the Government, habitually exceed the bounds of

fair and temperate discussion .

In the Legislative Council, Sir H. Robinson introduced an

important change by the inhibition now put, by order of the


Home Government, on the independence of vote formerly allowed

to official Members. A set of standing orders and rules had

been framed (July 12 , 1858 ) and, using these as a curb rein ,

Sir Hercules ruled his Council as with a rod of iron , confining

its functions strictly to legislation, allowing no criticism of the

acts of the Executive, and reducing public influence upon

the deliberations of the Legislative Council to the lowest possible

minimum. He acted on the principle that legislation should not

be influenced by the opinions of irresponsible parties outside the

Government . The only point in which he allowed much latitude

to the unofficial Members was the discussion of questions of

expenditure and taxation.

As to the legislative enactments of this period . the regulation

of commercial transactions received a large share of attention .

Hardly any other Governor bestowed so much care on commercial

legislation. Eleven Ordinances were passed bearing on ex-

clusively commercial matters, such as Chinese passenger ships

( 6 of 1860 ) , fees to be taken under the Merchant Shipping

Ordinance ( 10 of 1860) , exportation of military stores (3 of

1862) , protection of patents ( 14 of 1862 ) and trade marks ( 8

of 1863 ) , the law of debtor and creditor (4 of 1863 and 5 of

1864) , bills of sale ( 10 of 1864) , bills and promissory notes ( 12

of 1864) , commercial law ( 13 of 1864) and finally the incor-

poration, regulation and winding up of Trading Companies ( 1 of

1865 ) . The Ordinance empowering the Governor to prohibit

the export of military stores was caused by the abandonment of

that attitude of neutrality which the British Government had

-occupied in relation to the Manchu Government and the Taiping

Rebels until February 21 , 1862, when (as above mentioned) the

Taipings threatened Shanghai once more. The subsequent issue

of a proclamation prohibiting the export of arms and ammunition

was intended to stop the supplies which the Taipings had been

drawing from Hongkong, but was bitterly complained of as

unjust because no similar prohibition was extended to ports in

England and India. The consequence was a partial derangement

of the operations of firms hitherto connected with this trade in


military stores, and numerous confiscations were made by the

Harbour Master in February, 1863. In 1862 , the discovery of

an extensive system of issuing false certificates for opium deposits

(June 14th) opened the eyes of the public to the imperfect

formulation of the law of debtor and creditor. The Attorney

General (J. Smale) drafted accordingly a Bankruptcy Ordinance

(November 16 , 1863 ) specially adapted to local circumstances,

but it was set aside by the advisers of the Colonial Office who

sent out another (5 of 1864) for acceptance by the Council. In

connection with that same opium case, it was decided by a jury

(August 7 , 1863) that a delivery order, though sold and paid

for, does not free the vendor from risk in case a mishap should

occur to the article sold after the order had changed hands .

When the draft of the Companies ' Ordinance ( 1 of 1865 ) was

under the consideration of the Council (in 1864) , the question

of incorporating companies with limited liability, which measure

the Governor at the time viewed as fraught with danger for

Hongkong, gave rise to much animated discussion. The position

which the Governor took in this matter was such as to provoke

a spirited protest by one of the unofficial Members of Council

(J. Whittall) whose language the Governor censured as offensive

to the Council.

Chinese trade also received a fair share of the Governor's

attention, and Sir Hercules was the first Governor who understood

how to deal with the common practice of the Chinese of offering

seditious resistance to a weak Government by combining to

strike work in order to mark their sense of irksome or imperfect

legislation. Unaware what stuff Sir Hercules was made of, the

Chinese resorted to this practice three times within four successive

years but gave in on each occasion when they encountered, on

the part of the Governor, calm but rigidly uncompromising

firmness. The Pawnbrokers' Ordinance (3 of 1860) evoked .

a general closing of pawnshops and the Ordinance remained for

a long time a dead letter whilst the pawnbrokers agitated for

certain concessions. They submitted , however, when they found

that the Governor turned a deaf ear to all their representations.


In order to provide a remedy against the habitual plundering

to which goods were subjected in transit between ship and

shore, an Ordinance ( 15 of 1860 ) was passed for the registration

and regulation of the men employed on cargo-boats. As soon as

this Ordinance came into force ( 1861 ) , a general strike ensued

on the part of cargo-boat people, but by unflinching firmness on

the part of the Governor and the community they were soon

brought to submit to registration . The chair coolies also resorted

to a strike (in 1863) when they were for the first time to be

brought under a system of regulating and licensing public

vehicles by Ordinance 6 of 1863. They also yielded , after

nearly three months ' passive resistance, and the new Ordinance

proved a great boon to the public.

An interesting trial (Moss versus Alcock) was concluded

in the Supreme Court on 27th December, 1861. A British

subject, having assaulted a Japanese officer at Kanagawa, had

been sentenced to fine and imprisonment by a British Consul

whose sentence was confirmed by Sir Rutherford Alcock, then

H.M. Minister at Tokyo. But when the prisoner was lodged

in the Hongkong Gaol, he appealed to the Supreme Court and

obtained a verdict for $2,000 damages, as the Consul had power

only to inflict either a fine or imprisonment. It was in

consequence of this case that subsequently (July 16, 1863)

letters patent were issued conferring upon the Chief Justice of

Hongkong appellate jurisdiction in respect to Consular decisions

made in Japan. In the course of the trial (Moss versus Alcock )

there occurred (December 12 , 1861 ) the first of those lively but

indecorous scenes of bickerings which for years after periodically

recurred whenever Mr. (subsequently Sir) John Smale, as

Attorney General or Chief Justice, was confronted in Court by

the leading barrister of the time (E. H. Pollard ) . A fruitless

attempt was made (April 23, 1859) by Dr. Bridges to induce

the Governor in Council to modify Sir J. Bowring's Amalgama-

tion Ordinance (12 of 1858 ) so as to permit barristers to form

partnerships with a view to enable them to recruit health in

Europe without breaking up their practice. So far from



extending the scope of this Amalgamation Ordinance, Sir

H. Robinson repealed it altogether to the infinite regret of

the public ( by Ordinance 12 of 1862 ) . It seems he was

instigated to this retrogressive act by the new Chief Justice

(W. H. Adams) and the new Attorney General (J. Smale) who,

like the Governor, knew little of the sad condition in which

the legal profession in the Colony had been before the

introduction of this Ordinance. The beneficial effects it had

produced were now considered a proof that it was no longer

needed. In vain did the community, who heard of this measure

only a few hours before it was read in Council, protest against

the repeal. In vain did the unofficial Members of Council

(F. Chomley, C. W. Murray, A. Perceval) demand that at least

an inquiry be instituted into the working of the Amalgamation

Ordinance and into the necessity for a repeal. The Governor

was going away on furlough and had made up his mind to settle

this matter before leaving, on the basis of the opinions of high

legal officers, whose credit was at stake in the utterance of their

opinions, rather than on the views of irresponsible outsiders.'

The Chief Justice (W. H. Adams) and the Attorney General

(J. Smale) thought the repeal necessary to preserve the purity

of the higher branch of the profession . The public interest

had to yield to that. But the impetuous haste with which the

Governor rushed the Bill through Council (July 3 , 1862 ) , and

the inexorable predetermination with which he brushed aside

all objections whilst refusing any inquiry or consideration, caused

the general public to stigmatise the conduct of Sir Hercules

in this case, as in some others, as marked by mulish obstinacy.'

As to other legal enactments of this period , the principal

Ordinance of permanent value was that (7 of 1860 ) which gave

authority to two Commissioners, H. J. Ball, Judge of the

Summary Jurisdiction Court, and W. H. Alexander, Registrar

of the Court, to compile an edition of the Ordinances in force

in the Colony and to consolidate particularly the criminal law.

This importaut work, by the starting of which the Governor

complied with one of the recommendations of the Parliamentary


Committee of 1847 , was satisfactorily completed in October,

1864, under the sanction which the Privy Council had given

(February 20 , 1864) to the introduction in the Colony of the

criminal law of England with such adaptations as circumstances

might render advisable...

Owing to the above-mentioned disturbances in the Canton

Province, the population of Hongkong made great strides in the

first few years of this period . In 1860 the population increased

by 8,003 persons. In 186 , when the cession of Kowloon also

contributed to swell the population, the increase amounted to

24,404 persons , having risen from 94.917 people in 1860 to

119,321 in 1861. After that year, however, the population

increased but slightly in 1862 , retrograded in 1863 and stood

in 1864 at 121,498 people.

The finances of the Colony, though severely strained by

liberal expenditure on public works, constitute one of the brightest

features of this administration. The revenue of the year 1860

exceeded that of 1859 by £ 28,958 . The expenditure of the same

period, however, increased by £ 6,281 . In consequence of the

transfer of the Hongkong Post Office to the local Government

(May 1 , 1860 ) , the Post Office receipts appeared for the first

time in the accounts for the year 1860. But the largest increase

of the revenue of that year was under the head of land revenue,

which exceeded that of 1859 by nearly £ 17,000 in consequence

of the great rise in the value of land. The revenue of 1860 was

thus the largest ever raised, up to that time, in Hongkong, and

four times greater than that of the year 1851. The Colony

had now at last become, fully self- supporting and commenced the

year 1861 with an excess of assets (over liabilities ) amounting

to nearly £4,300 . The revenue of the year 1861 (£33,058 ) was

nearly double of the revenue of 1859 , but owing to the large

public works now taken in hand and to the augmentation of

the establishment, the expenditure rose to £ 37,241 . The returns

for 1861 shewed an increase under almost every head of revenue

but particularly so the items of land rents and licences, the rapid

increase of the population, and the extensive purchases of land


connected with an attempt to develop the resources of Bowrington ,

having caused an enormous further increase in the value of land.

Following the example of Sir J. Bowring, Sir H. Robinson

deposited year by year all surplus funds in the local Chartered

Banks at five per cent . and £ 61,550 were thus deposited in 1861 ..

Since 1st July, 1862, the accounts of the Colony were kept in

dollars. The increase ($20,502) in the revenue of the year 1862

was ascribed chiefly to the increased yield of postage, police and

lighting rates, opium farm and pawnbrokers' licences, whilst the

increase ($ 61,400) of expenditure was caused by public works and

additions to the strength of the Police Force. The same items

caused the expenditure of the year 1863 to exceed (by $ 10,000)

the revenue which had decreased by $54,884 as compared with

the preceding year. In the year 1864, postage and profits made

on subsidiary coins (procured from England) caused the revenue

to increase by $61,471 , whilst, on the other hand, the expenditure

of the same year increased by $ 176,742 , owing to the erection of

the Mint and the investment of $250,000 in the purchase of land

and houses at Kowloon. But, owing to a commercial depression .

which now set in, the difference between receipts and expenditure

continued. On 4th March, 1865 , Sir H. Robinson stated in

Legislative Council that the total revenue for the preceding year

had come to $637,845 and the actual expenditure to $763,307, an

ominous indication of bad times in store for the Colonial finances.

As soon as the flourishing condition of the Colonial finances

became known at home, a claim was set up for a military con-

tribution. There was strictly speaking no surplus, as all available

surplus funds were urgently required to provide additional gaol

accommodation, additional water-works and most particularly a

comprehensive drainage scheme for the town , which one Colonial

Surgeon after the other urged as the indispensable preliminary

basis of sanitary reform, and which, owing to the demand for

a military contribution, Governor after Governor postponed for

want of funds. On 15th August, 1864, Sir H. Robinson stated

in Legislative Council that the Secretary of State insisted upon

payment of a military contribution of £ 20,000 per annum for


five years as a reasonable and just return for the protection of

life and property afforded by the military garrison , the amount

-charged being one-fifth of the Imperial military expenditure

incurred in the Colony. It appeared that Mr. Mercer, as

Administrator, as well as Sir Hercules had strenuously objected

to this demand when it was first mooted. Their arguments were

virtually those that thenceforth were repeated at every successive

period of Hongkong's history : that Hongkong is not a producing

Colony but a mere intermediate station of the China trade ; that

this station, being anyhow very profitable to India and to the

Imperial Exchequer, ought not to bear the burden of military

expenditure incurred for the benefit of British trade in China

and Japan ; that the settlement is a struggling one and needs

no garrison for its local protection ; that the Colony has, to

the great detriment of local revenue and commerce, been deprived

of so much building ground, appropriated for Imperial military

uses, that it ought to be considered to have paid, in land, its

quota towards a military contribution . But in this case, as on

all subsequent occasions, the Home Government confined itself

to the simple assertion that, as the Colony can afford to pay.

it must pay what is demanded. A public meeting, the largest,

it was said, that had been held yet, assembled in the Court

House (August 23, 1864) and unanimously resolved to memorialize

H.M. Government to protest against the measure. The senior

unofficial Member of Legislative Council (C. W. Murray ) acted

as chairman and the proposers and seconders of the several

resolutions to be embodied in the Memorial were- E. H. Pollard,

Th. Sutherland, A. Turing, J. Whittall, K. Brand, H. B. Lemann,

T. G. Linstead, G. J. Helland, R. S. Walker, H. Noble, C. H.

Storey and W. Schmidt. The Chamber of Commerce and the

Chinese community followed the example and likewise presented

protests in form of Memorials. When the estimates for 1865 ,

including the sum of $ 92,000 as military contribution were laid

before the Legislative Council, this item was passed only by the

Governor's casting vote, as even the Colonial Treasurer (who

was afterwards severely censured by the Secretary of State) joined


with the unofficial Members in voting against it. Moreover,.

with the single exception of the Chief Justice (W. H. Adams ),

all the Members of Council, both official and unofficial, agreed

forthwith in passing a resolution stating that the maintenance

of troops in Hongkong is not necessary purely for the protection

of Colonial interests or the security of the inhabitants, and

that the Colonial revenue cannot fairly be charged with any

contribution towards the Imperial military expenditure in China

and Japan .' In communicating to H.M. Government the

unanimous protest of the colonists, Sir H. Robinson ( September

7, 1864) suggested that, if there inust be a military contribution .

it had better be imposed by an Order of Her Majesty in Council.

The Secretary of State ( Mr. Cardwell) subsequently agreed to

take this course (August 11 , 1865) if the Legislative Council

should insist upon it. But when the point was discussed in

Council (November 16, 1865 ) , the Members agreed to appropriate

the amount by annual vote of the local legislature.

It has been stated above that Sir J. Bowring recommended

to the Lords Commissioners of H.M. Treasury the establishment

in Hongkong of a Mint and the issue of a British dollar. This

suggestion was publicly taken up again during Sir H. Robinson's

administration and the Governor was urged (October 4, 1860)

to remedy the embarrassing fluctuations in the value of the

Mexican dollar, and the constant complaints of the insufficiency

of small silver coins procured from England, by the local

establishment of a Mint. Sir Hercules, however, hesitated to

move in the matter, owing to the refusal which his predecessor's

recommendations had met with. Meanwhile the currency ques

tion became more pressing . In July, 1861 , clean Mexican dollars

bore a premium of 7 per cent. , above their intrinsic value as

compared with bar and sycee silver, and subsequently reached a

premium of nearly 12 per cent. which, however, fell again to

8 per cent. in spring 1863. It was felt that these excessive

fluctuations of the common medium of exchange in China and

Japan must tend to embarrass the operations of commerce. Sir

Hercules obtained , in 1862 , the sanction of the Colonial Office


for the principle on which he proposed to base a reform of the

currency of the Colony, viz. the official re-establishment of a

silver standard based on the Mexican dollar. By a Royal pro-

clamation, dated January 9, 1863, but not published until May

2 , 1863 , it was determined that, from a date thereafter to be

notified, the former currency proclamations of 1845 , 1853 and

1857 (mentioned above) should be wholly or partially cancelled;

and Mexican or other silver dollars of equal value should ,

together with those silver coins (of Mexican standard) and bronze

cents and cash (being hundredth or thousandth parts of the

Mexican dollar ) which were to be issuel by H.M. Mint, be

the only legal tender of payment in the Colony. The date here

referred to was, however, not fixed until the Hongkong Mint

was established ( 1865 ) . But meanwhile Sir Hercules did two


things he obtained from England a supply of subsidiary coins

(June 26, 1863 ) and set to work to move the Home Government

to sanction the immediate establishment of a Mint at Hongkong.

In April, 1863, the first consignment of subsidiary coins arrived .

They consisted of silver ten-cent pieces, bronze cents and bronze

mils (cash). The intrinsic value of the silver ten- cent pieces was

such as to make $3 face value equal to $2.987 intrinsic value.

With direct reference to the arguments previously advanced by

the Treasury Board in condemnation of Sir J. Bowring's proposal,

Sir Hercules represented to H.M. Government - that Mexican

dollars now passed current inlarge quantities even in Shanghai ;

that the dollar had already been declared the only legal tender of

payment in Hongkong ; that the supply of Mexican dollars had

become quite insufficient in consequence of the new demand for

Japan ; that even in the silk districts of Central China payments ,

formerly settled in sycee, had now to be made in undefaced

Mexican dollars which were at a high premium ; that consequently

a British dollar of a value equal to that of the Mexican was

urgently required . In consequence of these representations the

Lords Commissioners of H.M. Treasury approved (April 10,

1863) of the proposal of Sir Hercules and suggested that the

proposed Mint should be established in Hongkong by local


enactment to be approved by the Queen and that it should be

placed under the control and supervision of the Master of the

Royal Mint with a view to assay and verification of the coin to

be issued from it. Arrangements were accordingly made by

Sir Hercules, the site now occupied by the East Point Sugar

Refinery was appropriated for the purposes of the Mint, additional

land reclaimed from the sea at a cost of £ 9,000, a water supply

secured at a cost of $3,550, buildings commenced which cost

$25,000, and a staff ordered from home. Several Ordinances

were also issued, providing for the conversion of British currency

in all payments by or to the Government (1 of 1864) and for

the organisation of the Mint service (2 of 1864) . The former

of these two Ordinances ordained, with reference to the above-

mentioned proclamation of January 9, 1863, that, as soon as the

date referred to could be fixed, all payments due in British Sterling

to or by the Government should be made in dollars, cents or cash,

to be issued from H.M. Mint at the rate of 4s. 2d . to the dollar.

As regards public works, the principal undertaking of this

period was the so-called Victoria water-works scheme which had

been under discussion during the preceding administration . Sir

Hercules took it up with the vigour which characterized all

his doings. He commenced by offering (October 15, 1859 ) a

prize of $ 1,000 for the best plan. Several competitors entered

the lists ( S. G. Bird, J. Walker, S. B. Rawling) and sent in

elaborate plans. The Governor referred the papers to a Com-

mittee (Lieutenant- Colonel G. F. Mann, R.E. , J. J. Mackenzie,

Ch. St. G. Cleverly) and adopted on their recommendation the

scheme of Mr. Rawling, Clerk of Works to the Royal Engineers.

This scheme proposed to construct a large reservoir at Pokfulam ,

to connect it by an aqueduct with two large tanks above

Taipingshan and to provide thus, before the close of the year

1862 , a supply of water for the western and central parts of the

city at a cost of about £ 30,000. Tenders were immediately called

for and the work commenced in 1860 under Mr. Rawling's

supervision. An Ordinance ( 12 of 1860) was passed to empower

the Governor in Council to appropriate from current revenues


the sum of £ 30,000 as the works proceeded and to supply any

deficiency of funds, if necessary, by mortgaging the water rate,

which anyhow was to be levied, at the rate of 2 per cent. on

the gross annual value of house property, according to assessment.

An imperfect estimate of the cost of the materials ordered ont

from England, and the substitution of cement for mortar

(ordered by the Colonial Office) , caused an excess over the

original estimate by a considerable sum. It was not till the

close of the year 1863 that the works were completed so far

as to allow of the water rate being levied . The scheme was,

at the time, believed to have proved a great success. But the

experience of subsequent years revealed defects of construction.

Moreover, as the scheme did not provide for a sufficient quantity

of water (during the dry season) to provide for the wants of

a rapidly growing population, and left the town east of the

clocktower entirely without water, it was even at this time

foreseen that this scheme afforded but temporary relief.

The Praya works were, in public estimation , considered

unsatisfactory . These works, which had been commenced in

a desultory way by Sir J. Bowring, and in the face of

obstructions of all sorts, were energetically pushed on by Sir

H. Robinson and carried out in conjunction with the Crown

tenants under special arrangements with reference to the land

reclaimed. Landing piers for cargo boats were also provided .

The sections extending for a mile and a half west of the parade

ground and for a quarter mile east of the arsenal (there being

a break between) were completed in 1862. The construction

having, however, proceeded piecemeal, and under incompetent

(Chinese) overseers, the work was palpably deficient in solidity

and, although no typhoon had touched it yet, much of the

work had to be done over again in 1863. Sir H. Robinson

accordingly determined to rebuild the whole Praya wall and

to use this opportunity to extend the Praya seawards by

reclaiming from the sea a further strip of land 100 feet in

width. The Surveyor General (W. Wilson) addressed the holders

of marine-lots to this effect (August 15, 1864) stating the


necessity for re-constructing the defective and dilapidated sea-

wall and offering to the lot-holders the land to be reclaimed

in front of their respective lots free of premium, in compensation

for the reclamation expenses to be borne by them. But this

offer met with the same obstructiveness which had hampered

Sir J. Bowring's scheme. A public meeting of lot- holders,

held on 13th September, 1864, resolved to protest against the

proposal of burdening the lot-holders with the reclamation

expenses and declared the existing sea-wall to be good enough

for public purposes. A letter to this effect was addressed to the

Colonial Secretary (September 20, 1864) . Controversy ensued..

The Colonial Secretary not only contested that the sea-wall

needed rebuilding but that its original defective construction had

been caused by the obstructions which the lot-holders had placed

in the way of expenditure. This charge having been energetically

rebatted by the lot-holders (November 18 , 1864) , Sir H..

Robinson announced (November 20, 1864) that the extension

of the Praya wall would not be enforced where not desired by

the lot-holders . Meanwhile other public works had not been

neglected . A Lock Hospital was erected in 1861 , close to the

Civil Hospital . Shaukiwan was supplied with a police station

and a school-house. A new gaol was commenced, also in the

year 1861 , on Stonecutters' Island . By the year 1864 a new

Central Police Station, the reclamation and building works

connected with the Mint, a carriage road to Shankiwan, and

the construction of Stonecutters' Island Gaol were all completed .

Police and gaol management did not advance, even in this

periol of general administrative vigour, beyond the stage of

unsatisfactory experiments. At the close of the year 1860 ,

the personnel of the Police Force was considered as showing

no improvement and though no very great fault was found

with the Police as a preventive force, the whole question was

felt to be one that baffled the wits of all who were responsible

for the manifestly unsatisfactory condition of the Police..

Bombay and Madras were tentatively resorted to (February 8,

1861 ) as recruiting grounds. In January and May, 1862 ,


drafts of recruits arrived from those places and the entire force

was placed under the command of Captain W. Quin who had

previously served in the Army and in the Bombay Police. For

the convenience of the Water Police a ship was bought (April

1 , 1862 ) to serve as a floating Police Station. In spring 1864,

the Colonial Secretary, while acknowledging the intelligence and

zeal of the new superintendent (W. Quin) and his assistant

(J. Jarman), stated that the men of the corps, whether European

or Indian, were wanting in most of the essentials of a Police

Force . Bribery and corruption were particularly considered

ineradicable among the Indian contingent. The right of the

Police to use fire-arms , in the case of suspects refusing to stop

when challenged, was judicially inquired into ( July 28, 1864)

when a constable, who had shot a boatman trying to escape

search, was put on his trial on a charge of murder. The verdict

of the jury, who viewed the case as one of justifiable homicide,

was satisfactory to the Police. To stimulate zeal, regulations

were made ( October 25 , 1864 ) awarding gratuities in case of

special merit. Wholesale deportation of crowds of professional

beggars was resorted to in summer 1864, to relieve the streets

from these people, who were accordingly sent back to Canton.

Before the building of the new gaol at Stonecutters ' Island

was sufficiently advanced to occupy any portion of it , it became

necessary, in 1862, owing to the inhibition now laid on

transportation to the Andaman Islands and the pressing need

of a separate debtors ' ward, to relieve the congested state of

Victoria Gaol. Some 280 long sentence prisoners were accord-

ingly lodged on board a hulk (Royal Saxon) anchored close to

Stonecutters ' Island, the quarries of which afforded occupation

for the prisoners. At the same time the rules of Victoria Gaol

were revised (Ordinance 4 of 1863 ) and an expert was obtained

from England to act as gaol superintendent (Ch. Ryall) .

Owing to repeated escapes of gangs of prisoners, principally

through the gaol drains (January 12 and March 14, 1863) ,

a Commission was appointed (May, 1863 ) to inquire into the

condition and working of Victoria Gaol. The convict hulk


at Stonecutters' Island was equally unsatisfactory. Things

went on well enough so long as a gunboat and a military

guard were provided to guard the hulk, but when these were

withdrawn, frequent attempts at rescue were made by outside

associates of the prisoners . A sad accident also occurred by

the upsetting of a boat, when 38 prisoners were drowned

(July 23, 1863 ) . Later on (April 21 , 1864) a body of about

100 prisoners made good their escape in junks, after disabling

their guards. The working of Victoria Gaol, however, appeared

to improve, after the dismissal of the expert, when a new

superintendent (F. Douglas) was appointed (December 12 , 1863 ) .

The gaol was thenceforth popularly referred to as ' Douglas


The criminal history of this period presents some novel

features. In January, 1860, one of the most popular compradors,

Tam Achoy, distinguished himself by collecting in Hongkong

an armed corps of Puntis, officered by some foreign seamen,

whom he dispatched by the S.S. Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy to the

San-ning District, S.W: of Macao, with a considerable supply

of arms and ammunition. On arrival at San -ning, this corps

of Hongkong freebooters took an active part in the internecine

war going on at that time between the Punti and Hakka clans

of that District . When the Hongkong Police learned that two

of the foreign leaders of this buccaneering expedition had been

killed in battle, Tam Achoy was arrested and charged with

murder. It appeared, however, that, before sending off that

expedition, Tam Achoy had given formal notice to a Government

officer of his intentions and received no warning of the illegality

of his proceedings. The indictment having broken down for

want of evidence, Tam Achoy was advised to plead guilty of

misdemeanour and was discharged with a reprimand. The

peninsula of Kowloon presented for several days in August, 1862 ,

the novel aspect of an animated battle field, as the Punti

inhabitants of the neighbouring villages were engaged in a

bloody warfare with the Hakka settlers at Tsimshatsui. But

the most renowned crime of this period was the so-called


opium swindle, above referred to, which was perpetrated by an

Indian merchant who, with the assistance of an Englishman

in charge of the opium stored in the receiving-ship Tropic,

defrauded the Chartered Mercantile Bank and others of some

two million dollars (July, 1862 ) by means of forged opium

certificates. Many daring burglaries and murderous attacks were

made, during this period, by armed gangs, such as the attack

on the signal station at Victoria Peak (July 27 , 1863 ), the

assault made on some men in the Artillery Barracks (October

11, 1863 ) , the murder of an Indian and his wife (January

29, 1864) and an attack made on the offices of Holliday,

Wise & Co. (May 11 , 1864) . Hongkong was now in daily

communication with Canton by American river-steamers which

took Chinese passengers at 20 cents a head in 1863 and 1864 .

These cheap fares caused the Colony to be inundated with

Chinese ruffians who considered Hongkong, with its indulgent

laws and humane treatment of criminals, to afford a temptation

they could not resist . But the most novel feature of the

depredations resorted to by Chinese burglars at this period was

the ingenuity and engineering skill displayed by the so-called

drain gangs. The godowns of Smith, Archer & Co. (January 30,

1864), the jewellery store of Douglas Lapraik (May 16, 1864),

and the treasure vaults of the Central Bank of Western India

(February 5, 1865 ) were successively attacked by burglars who

used the subterraneous storm -water drains as the basis of their

operations and drove from there tunnels by which they under-

mined the floors of treasure stores. The Central Bank was in

this way robbed of $63,000 in notes and £ 11,000 in gold ingots,

some of which were found strewn about in the street on the

morning of February 6 , 1865 .

A most deplorable series of riots, resulting in the murder

of two soldiers, three seamen and a boarding-house clerk, took

place on three successive days in September ( 12th to 14th) , 1864,

between Malay seamen, a body of policemen, and men of the

99th Regiment. The excitement was intense and it seemed

impossible to restrain either the soldiers or the police from


renewing the contest. The Volunteers were called out to patrol

the streets (September 14, 1864) , and at the request of the

Governor the 99th Regiment were ordered at three hours ' notice

to move forthwith over to Kowloon (September 15 , 1864 ) where

a camp was hastily erected . This was done in the face of a

strong medical protest and the result was that a most extra-

ordinary amount of mortality decimated the troops encamped

on the site of which the Military Authorities had robbed

the Colony .

Piracy flourished throughout the administration of Sir

H. Robinson and the number of cases in which the pirates,

disdaining the less remunerative attacks on native junks,

successfully plundered foreign vessels, appears to be rather a

distinguishing feature of this period . The Taiping rebellion

was by this time extinguished in South China and the Cantonese

coastguard resumed again its former function as a preventive

force, but it was unable to make headway, without steam cruisers,

against the better equipped piratical fleets. Numbers of piracies

were reported in Hongkong in autumn (September to November)

1859, by owners of native junks. Few piracies occurred in

1860. But in May, 1861 , the brig North Star was attacked

some four miles off Hongkong. The captain, some of the officers

and crew, and a passenger were murdered . Seven months later,

the Dutch schooner Henriette Louise was plundered, just outside

the Lyee-moon, by pirates who wounded the captain and some

of the crew ( January 2 , 1862) . Three weeks after this outrage,

the British brig Imogene was plundered and burned (January

23, 1862 ) by pirates, five of whom were subsequently (March

6, 1862) convicted of murder and executed. Next, the British.

schooner Eagle was plundered near Green Island by pirates, who

were under the leadership of an Englishman (April 18 , 1862) .

The captain and some of the crew were murdered . Soon after,

the S.S. Iron Prince, when on her way to Macao, was attacked

by pirates disguised as passengers. They murdered two of the

crew. The captain, officers and European passengers were all

wounded in a protracted fight, at close quarters, for the possession


of the steamer. Happily the pirates were finally overpowered

and four of them captured, the vessel owing her safety principally

to the foresight and heroic conduct of her master, Captain

Harris . Next year (April 8 , 1863 ) the Government offered a

reward of $ 1,000 for information leading to the arrest of certain

lawless persons, English and American, employed on board of

piratical junks in the neighbourhood of Hongkong and Formosa.

This notification had no effect . The American barque Bertha

was unsuccessfully attacked by pirates near Stonecutters' Island

(July 22 , 1863 ) ; six months later (January 28 , 1864) some

pirates attacked the Danish brig Chiro and murdered some of

her crew, and on February 5th, 1865, the Spanish brig Nuevo

Lepanto was captured by pirates near Lantao.

As to the commercial history of this period, one of its

principal landmarks is the formation (May 29 , 1861 ) of the

Hongkong Chamber of Commerce. It was to be the aim of this

institution, to guard the liberties and interests of local commerce

and to procure, without any interference with the freedom of

the port, reliable commercial statistics. Various nationalities were

represented among the members of the Chamber, and the Com-

mittee elected at the first annual meeting ( April 23, 1862 ) included

American ( D. Delano ) , German ( D. Nissen) and Parsee (T. B.

Buxey) merchants. One of the first topics which occupied the

attention of the Chamber of Commerce was a subject which for

some years prèvions had been a burning question of the day,

viz . the establishment by the Chinese Government of the Imperial

Maritime Customs Service, under Mr. H. N. Lay. When this

scheme was first mooted, four Hongkong firms (Dent, Fletcher,

Turner and Birley) protested strongly against what they con-

sidered a needless superaddition upon the Consular Service and

from the working of which, under Chinese supervision but in

separation from the native Chinese Customs Service, they expected

interference with the freedom of commerce to result. Some

Canton firms joined this protest under the supposition that the

effect of the scheme would be to drive the import trade from

Canton to Hongkong and to confine the export trade to Macao.


When Mr. Lay commenced the operation of the new Customs.

Service at Canton ( October 14, 1859 ) , the United States Consul

(0. H. Perry) objected to Mr. Lay's regulations, or rather to

certain threats of penalties contained in their original edition,

as an illegal interference with the American river-steamers.

Those regulations were, however, at once revised, approved by

the British and American Ministers and sullenly submitted to

by the mercantile communities of Canton and Hongkong. The

seizure by the new Customs Office of the Portuguese S.S. Shamrock

(November, 1859 ) , on a charge of smuggling, renewed the

excitement. So great was the general antipathy prevailing in

Hongkong against this Chinese Customs Service (from the

control of which, however, the junk trade of Hongkong remained

exempt), that the forcible and unlawful resistance which the

captain of the barque Chin Chin offered to seizure by the foreign

Customs Officers in Swatow (March, 1860) was unhesitatingly

justified by a Hongkong jury, although a native employee of the

Customs was killed in the mêlée. Shortly after the Hongkong

Chamber of Commerce had been established, a special meeting

(August 2 , 1861 ) took the whole subject of the Tientsin Treaty

and the new Inspectorate of Customs into consideration, and

eventually memorialized H.M. Minister at Peking who soon after

(October 30, 1861 ) issued regulations regarding transit dues,

exemption certificates and coast trade, which conceded the main

points for which the Chamber of Commerce had contended.

Local Post Office regulations also attracted the watchful

eye of the Chamber. Some transitory excitement was caused by

proceedings taken (September, 1862 ) against the master of the

American S.S. Firecracker, who was fined for detaining a portion

of the mail brought on by him from Mauritius. More serious.

was the attempt made by Sir H. Robinson (early in 1863 ) to

secure the sanction of the Legislative Council for a Bill intended

to give to the Post Office the right, not only to compel vessels

of all nationalities to carry mails without compensation, but also

to search and detain any vessel on account of contraband letters.

The Chamber stoutly resisted this Bill as an interference


with the spirit of free trade and the view thus taken by the

Chamber met even with the support of the Chief Justice.

Thanks to the energetic remonstrance addressed to the Governor

in Council by the chairman of the Chamber (J. Macandrew) ,

the Bill was thrown out (February 5 , 1863) by a majority. The

introduction of postage stamps (December 8 , 1862 ) was hailed

by the community with little satisfaction . On the contrary,

serious apprehension of inconvenience and confusion , supposed

to be the inevitable consequence of the compulsory use of postage

stamps, filled the mind of the community. This first issue of

Hongkong postage stamps consisted of stamps of the respective

value of two, eight, twelve, eighteen , twenty-four, and forty-eight

cents, reckoned at twenty-four cents to the shilling . Some

confusion did arise, at first, as the previous practice of keeping

running accounts with the Post Office had to be discontinued ;

but the Postmaster-General ( F. W. Mitchell) did everything

in his power to smooth matters and the community quietly

submitted to this very unpopular innovation . As regards the

conveyance of mails, the Secretary of State gave satisfaction

to the community by making an order (October, 1862 ) that

thenceforth no contract mail packets should, under any circum-

stances, be detained, except on the authority of the Governor,

acting on his own responsibility, upon occasions of special

urgency. An attempt, made by the Superintendent of Native

Customs (Hoppo) at Canton , to induce the Foreign Customs

Service to levy duties on cargo shipped in Hongkong for England,

by vessels which, after partially loading in Hongkong, proceeded

to Whampoa to fill up, was successfully resisted by the Chamber

of Commerce (December, 1860) , through the energetic action of

II.M. Consul at Canton (Ch . A. Winchester) .

Several new commercial ventures, started during this period,

gave expression to the enterprising spirit which animated the

community, both native and foreign . The native boat- building

trade particularly, rose, during the year 1859, sevenfold over

what it was in 1858, and fishing junks increased from 2,000

to 2,500. In the year 1860 a movement was set on foot to



light the city with gas through a Company formed in London.

Next year, however, a hitch occurred in the negotiations between

the local promoters of the Gas Company and the directors in

London, and doubts were entertained of an understanding being

arrived at. The Colonial Secretary (W. T. Mercer) subsequently

stated that interested individuals had misled the community and

caused opposition but that he set the community right on the

subject and removed all obstacles . The city was for the first

time lighted with gas on November 12, 1864. There remained,

however, a general complaint that the directors in London had

allotted an unduly small number of shares (70 only) to local

applicants, and this emphazised the regret felt by the public

that the gas works had not been started by a purely local

Company. In January, 1863 , the first strong timber pier in

Hongkong was erected, at Spring Gardens, for the godowns

of McGregor & Co. All former piers had been built of bamboo.

This timber pier, jutting out into Wantsai Bay to a distance

of 250 feet, gave at low water a depth of 26 feet. The

Aberdeen Docks, which were commenced under the preceding

administration, were kept fully at work from 1860 to 1863 .

A new Dock for the use of H.M. Navy having been approved

by the Admiralty (January 22, 1863 ) , a site was purchased

(November 16 , 1864 ) at Hunghom, on the Kowloon Peninsula,

for the nominal sum of $50, by a Union Dock Company which

was formed to work the existing and projected docks and

proved the beginning of a large establishment, growing in

importance from year to year. But there is yet another

institution , of equal importance, to be mentioned which like-

wise originated during this fruitful period . In July, 1864,

the firm of Dent & Co. issued the prospectus of the newly

formed Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Company (to be

incorporated by charter) with a capital of five million dollars.

in 20,000 shares of $250 each. The fact that this new venture

was undertaken when there were already six Banking Institutions

in the Colony , viz. the Agra and United Service Bank (Henry

Noble), the Central Bank of Western India (W. M. Davidson) ,


the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China (A. Hay

Anderson ) , the Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London

and China (W. Ormiston) , the Commercial Bank of India (P. R.

Harper) , and the Oriental Bank Corporation (W. Lamond) ,

indicates the views then taken of the growing prosperity of

Hongkong. The broad international basis on which this new

banking enterprise was constructed is observable from the names

of the merchants who formed the provisional committee of the

Hongkong & Shanghai Bank, viz. F. Chomley, A. F. Heard ,

Thomas Sutherland, G. F. Maclean, D. Lapraik, W. Nissen,

H. B. Lemann, W. Schmidt, A. Sassoon, R. Brand, Pallanjee

Framjee, W. Adamson, G. J. Helland, and Rustomjee

Dhunjeeshaw. This new bank, whose first manager (V. Kresser)

entered upon his duties ou January 1 , 1865 , was the first to

profit by the Limited Liability provisions of the Trading

Companies' Ordinance (1 of 1865) .

During the first four years of this period ( 1859 to 1862)

the stream of Chinese emigrants, paying their own passage,

continued to flow forth from Hongkong at an average rate of

12,166 emigrants per annum. Contract emigration was, since

the year 1859 , almost entirely confined to Macao or Whampoa,

the only exception being the shipment of Chinese coolies to

British Colonies . In September, 1861 , an attempt was made.

to ship coolies under contract to some other place, but the

Police seized the ship and liberated the coolies. The emigration

agent for the British West Indies (J. Gardiner Austin) succeeded

in securing (November 15, 1859 ) , through the influence of

Protestant missionaries, numbers of Chinese families for

Demerara, whereas it had previously been asserted that Chinese

women could not be induced to emigrate. As many as 2,756

respectable Chinese women. were (with their husbands and

children) shipped from Hongkong during those four years,

and mostly to the West Indies. Unfortunately, however, San

Francisco took advantage of this new departure and sent

thenceforth for annually increasing numbers of single Chinese

women, most of whom were probably required for immoral


purposes. In August, 1862, the Hongkong Office of the British

West Indies' emigration agent was closed and the business

transferred to Canton, to admit of more searching supervision

of the modes in which the coolies were procured. But, owing

to this measure, the number of Chinese emigrants, annually

shipped from Hongkong, fell from 10,421 in 1862, to 7,809

in 1863, and to 6,607 in 1864. In the year 1863 the number

of emigrants leaving Hongkong was equalled by the number

of those who returned from abroad . These returning emigrants

generally brought considerable quantities of gold or gold dust

into the Colony . In the year 1861 one single ship (Minerva)

brought from Melbourne 350 Chinese coolies possessing gold

of the aggregate value of £ 43,000. In the same year as many

as 2,370 Chinese were shipped, as free emigrants, to India,

and emigration to Tahiti commenced as a new venture.

The shipping returns of the year 1861 , shewing a decrease of

217,003 tons, as compared with the returns of the preceding

year, do not indicate any real falling off of the shipping trade

of the Colony. On the contrary, those returns show an increase .

of 31,660 tons when compared with the returns of 1859. The

difference is explained by the extraordinary increase of the

shipping business occasioned, in the year 1860, by commissariat

and transport services connected with the war in North China.

It may also be noted that the American tonnage decreased

in 1861 while British shipping took a proportionate bound in

advance, owing to the effects of the Peking Convention which

extended the scope of British commerce in China. Owing

to the frequency of ships being wrecked on the Pratas Shoals,

application had been made in 1860 to the Home Government

regarding the erection of lighthouses on those rocks, but the

Board of Trade declined ( May 2 , 1861 ) to move in the matter.

The somewhat Utopian scheme of connecting Calcutta

with Canton and Kowloon by a railway, was brought under

the consideration of the Chamber of Commerce (June 30, 1859)

by Sir MacDonald Stephenson who subsequently, after the

completion of his railway undertakings in India, visited


Hongkong and exhibited (February 28, 1864) a wall map

illustrating his scheme of connecting Calentta, Hongkong and

Peking by a railway. The question whether such a railway would

benefit or injure the interests of the Colony was much debated .

Sir M. Stephenson's scheme was, however, entirely premature

and met with no encouragement on the part of the Chinese

Government. At the close of the year 1861 arrangements were

made to get the commerce of the Colony worthily represented

at the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1862. A Committee

(Dr. Ivor Murray, J. J. Mackenzie, J. D. Gibb, W. Walkinshaw,

and Dr. W. Kane) was officially appointed and forwarded to

London a considerable number of articles fairly illustrating

the principal features of local trade . The starting of the French

Messageries Maritimes line of mail steamers (January 1 , 1863 )

caused a material increase in the facility and rapidity of

communication with Europe . The monopoly which the Penin-

sular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company had held as mail

carriers was now ended and the competition benefitted the public

in a variety of ways. Communication with Canton was also

improved, during this period, by the enterprise of two local

American firms (Russell & Co. and Augustin Heard & Co.)

which vied with each other, since 1859, in providing for the

Hongkong and Canton trade roomy palatial river-steamers which

ran both night and day (White Cloud and Kinshan).

December, 1863, Hongkong was also placed in regular steam

communication with North- Borneo and some business was done

by importing coal from Labuan. In the tea trade a new

departure was made in 1864 by forwarding, as an experiment ,

5,000 pounds of tea by the overland route to England.

The problem involved in the sanitation of the Colony was

left by Sir H. Robinson in the hopeless condition in which he

found it. The outbreak, in Hongkong, of several epidemics

and the fear of cholera invading the Colony from abroad

necessitated some action . But it led to nothing further than

the appointment, in 1862 , of a health officer of the port

(Dr. L. Richardson) , the allotment of Green Island as a


quarantine station, and the appointment of a Commission

productive of reports which led to nothing. In the year 1859

a mild epidemic of ophthalmia appeared in the gaol and rapidly

spread throughout the Colony, attacking both natives and

Europeans. As it also appeared at Canton, Amoy and Foochow,

it was thought that it had been caused by atmospheric rather

than local agencies . But in November, 1859, the Colony was

threatened by an epidemic of diphtheria which, however, was

happily limited to 10 cases and of these only two proved fatal.

It was noted that the summer of 1859 was unusually severe

as there was, previous to 4th June, a continuous drought of almost

eight months' duration and the thermometer was for several

weeks at an average height of 90 degrees . During the next

two years ( 1860 and 1861 ) the health of the Colony was

exceptionally good, and it is noteworthy that both years were

stated to have been conspicuous for the absence of violent

extremes of temperature. The long talked- of scheme of a medical

sanatorium, to be established on Victoria Peak, was at last

carried out but did not receive a fair trial. At the recom-

mendation of the principal medical officer of the station, the

Military Authorities opened, in spring 1862 , a well-built

sanatorium on the plateau below the flag- staff and filled it with

patients (of an unsuitable class) . But, before the close of the year,

the military doctors condemned the scheme as a manifest failure,

on the ground that nearly every case sent up had been attacked

with diarrhoea of an intractable nature and that all medical

cases had been aggravated rather than improved . The fate

which had pursued the Island as a whole, and the Kowloon

Peninsula in particular, asserted its power also as to the first

settlements on the Peak : the first occupation produced discase,

and patience and discretion were required to overcome the

difficulty. It took years before Peak residence, strongly

advocated by Mr. Granville Sharp, who took a lease of the

deserted sanatorium, rose into favour. A small epidemic of

cholera (25 cases) broke out in the gaol on October 17 , 1862 .

but did not spread farther. Owing to the outbreak of cholera


in Shanghai, the Governor appointed (December 29 , 1862 ) a

Sanitary Commission (Chief Justice Ball, Colonel Moody,

Surveyor General Cleverly, Hon. J. J. Mackenzie, Doctors

Murray, Home and Mackay, with H. Holmes as Secretary) .

This Commission was in session all through the year 1863 .

The Commissioners became the object of much ridicule when

they offered (March 9 , 1863 ) a prize of $ 100 for the best

scheme for the drainage of the town, without fixing a limit

of expenditure. It was generally considered that the paltry

reward offered was on a par with the understanding the

Commissioners appeared to have of the gigantic nature of the

problem involved . The year 1864 afforded, however, evidence,

satisfactory to the Government, of the continued healthiness

of the Colony, and it was pointed out that the Police Force,

though more exposed than any other body of men in Hongkong,

enjoyed remarkable immunity from disease.

The paralysis which, during the preceeding period , had come

over the educational movement among Protestants and Catholics ,

was succeeded, from the commencement of the administration

of Sir H. Robinson, by an extraordinary revival of energy. On

the Protestant side, Bishop Smith started (in 1859 ) the Diocesan

Native Training School, which had a prosperous career until the

close of the present period and was located ( in autumn, 1863 ) in

the newly-erected buildings on Bonham Road. St. Paul's College

also received a new lease of life under the tuition of Mr.

(subsequently Dr. ) J. Fryer and prospered as long as he remained

in charge. Quite a new branch of educational work was started

(in 1861 ) by Miss Baxter who, beside much Samaritan activity

among all classes of the community and valuable zenana-work

among Chinese women, commenced to labour for the education

of the Eurasian children in the Colony . For this purpose Miss

Baxter established, in Mosque Terrace and in Staunton Street,

schools which were subsequently amalgamated and located in

Baxter House on Bonham Road (now No. 8 Police Station) . At

the same time Miss Magrath laboured in a similar direction ,

while Miss Legge and the ladies of the Berlin Foundling House


were engaged in the education of Chinese girls . Taking a more

prominent position, and striking out a new path, Dr. Legge

came forward as an educational reformer. During the preceding

administration he had closed his Anglo-Chinese College as an

acknowledged failure in the line of religious Anglo -Chinese

education. He now set to work, with the support of Sir H.

Robinson, to convert all the Government Schools, which had

hitherto been conducted in the interest of religious education,

into professedly secular institutions. To begin with , the Govern-

ment Gazette announced (January 21 , 1860) the formation of

a new Board of Education for the management of the Government

Schools. Dr. Legge was thenceforth, though Bishop Smith

retained the nominal chairmanship, the presiding spirit of this

Board and ruled it with the ease and grace of a born bishop.

In the absence of Bishop Smith, and after obtaining the

resignation of the missionary Inspector of Schools ( Rev. W.

Lobscheid) , the new Board took up (July 3, 1860) Dr. Legge's

plan of merging the Inspectorate of Schools in the Headmastership

of a grand Central School, which was to become the centre of

secular education, and delivering the Government Schools from

the bondage of St. Paul's College and its Bishop . It was

essentially a non-conformist liberation scheme which preferred

secularism to episcopalianism . Sir H. Robinson approved

(January 9 , 1861 ) this plan of Dr. Legge, which Sir J. Bowring

had previously refused to take up. The Legislative Council

also endorsed the scheme (March 25, 1861 ) and sanctioned the

purchase and enlargement of premises (in Gough Street ) .

These were forthwith filled with some 200 Chinese boys, by the

amalgamation of three existing Government Schools which thus

constituted the new Government Central School. A Headmaster

and Inspector of Schools, who was to be kept for some years in

the leading strings of the Board, was procured ( February 18 , 1862 )

in the person of Mr. (subsequently Dr. ) F. Stewart , from Scotland,

with the approval of Bishop Smith . Dr. Stewart thenceforth

laboured, for the next sixteen years, as the faithful disciple of

Dr. Legge, to maintain the reign of secularism in the sphere of


local education. Under his disciplinarian regime the Government

Central School gradually became a highly popular institution and

retained its hold upon public favour so long as it bore the

impress of Dr. Stewart's own personality. But the establishment

of this Central School was the ruin of the once equally popular

St. Andrew's School, latterly under the tuition of Mr. J. Kemp.

On the site of St. Andrew's School, closed in 1861 , Dr. Legge

erected his new Union Church which was removed thither from

Hollywood Road in July, 1863 .

This remarkable revival of educational zeal among the

Protestant leaders was aided , and to some extent outstripped,

since 1860, by a contemporaneous renewal of educational

energy on the Roman Catholic side. The newly arrived Father

(subsequently Bishop) T. Raimondi occupied at once among

Catholic educationists the same prominent and fruitful position

which Dr. Legge, whom he much resembled also in character

and shrewdness, occupied among the Protestants. Bishop

Raimondi, however, became the strongest opponent in the

Colony of that educational secularism which Dr. Legge had

established and to which the Protestant missionaries meekly

submitted for many years thereafter. From the time of Bishop

Raimondi's arrival, the English R. C. Schools, which had

previously commenced to supply local offices with English-

speaking Portuguese clerks, redoubled their efforts. The Italian

and French Convents also extended their operations in the line

of female education and an industrial Reformatory for vagabond

children and juvenile offenders, which the Chief Justice (January,

1863) had pointed out as one of the great wants of the Colony,

was started by Bishop Raimondi ( September, 1864 ) and removed

in the following year to more commodious premises erected on

ground granted by the Government (March 24, 1865 ) at

West Point.

The Hongkong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society was felt

(in 1859 ) to be in a moribund condition . After some ineffectual

attempts made by Dr. Legge to revive a general interest

in sinological studies, the local Branch was wound up and its


valuable library embodied in that of the equally moribund

Morrison Education Society. Both libraries were stored at

the London Mission Printing Office . The Morrison Education

Society continued to exist for a few years longer in the form of a

Committee administering, for purposes of religious education , the

funds ($ 13,000 ) still in hand, and distinguished itself (December,

1860 ) by a narrow partisan spirit in excluding from support

the schools of a missionary (Dr. A. Happer) who had given

offence to a member of the Committee (J. Jardine) by inaccurate

statements concerning the percentage of opium smokers in China .

Dr. Legge made a last but futile effort to extend the scope of

the Society by appealing to the public (December 27 , 1861 )

for additional subscriptions.

St. John's Cathedral was enriched (in 1860) by the erection

of a good organ which was inaugurated (December 25, 1860 )

under the direction of the newly arrived organist (C. F.

A. Sangster) who soon after organized and trained an efficient

choir which has been maintained ever since. Consequent upon

the retirement of Bishop Smith, the Legislative Council voted

(September 13, 1864) for the Bishop of Victoria a pension of

£300 per annum . A suggestion was, however, embodied in

this vote to the effect that the Home Government should pay

half of the sum on the ground that the Bishop's services had

been devoted as much to Imperial as to local interests . The

charity of the community was strongly manifested (in 1862 and

1863) by a unanimous endeavour to afford all possible relief

to the Lancashire and Cheshire operatives thrown out of

employment in consequence of the cotton famine caused by the

outbreak of the American war. All classes of foreign residents

agreed to give, in addition to special donations, a regular

monthly contribution of $2 per head. Special collections were

made in all places of worship and concerts were given by

amateurs of all nationalities to swell the funds. In this manner

a sum of $ 15,000 was raised and forwarded to the Mansion

House Committee in London in September, 1862, and further

contributions amounting in the aggregate to $ 11,162 were


dispatched in January and March, 1863 , Mr. D. Lapraik

acting as Honorary Treasurer. On the other hand an official

appeal by the London Committee of the Shakespeare Memorial

Fund (October 16 , 1863) for monetary contributions met with

scant response on the part of the community, although

Sir H. Robinson strongly supported the movement . The

community of Hongkong, while holding Shakespeare's memory

as sacred as a king's , had their own ideas as to how to pay

tribute to the English King whom no time or chance or

Parliament can dethrone and how to preserve the memory of

the one who is a monument without a tomb and is alive still

while his book doth live. ' It was noteworthy, but not noticed

at the time, that this appeal to the community was signed by

Richard Graves MacDonnell, as one of the London Committee's

Secretaries, who perhaps himself did not anticipate the fact,

any more than the colonists, that he was to be their next


Hongkong's social life was, in the early part of this period ,

more or less affected by the excitements and the influx of

strangers connected with the renewal of the war with China .

The defeat of the British fleet at the Peiho (June 25, 1859 ) ,

while it depressed the foreign community of Hongkong, appeared

to evoke no feeling of any sort among the Chinese population.

Indeed, those Chinese who gave any thought to the matter,

seemed rather to regret this temporary success of Mandarin

treachery. But the capture of Peking in 1860 and particularly

the flight of the Emperor, whose tablet has ever since been

removed from the altar of his ancestors, was felt by all but

Triad Society partisans as a national disgrace . In the early

part of the year 1860, the Kowloon camp with its military

parades, and most particularly the war games and evolutions

performed by Probyn's Horse, were an object of general

attraction for sightseers, both native and foreign. The return

of the Allied troops in November and December, 1860, gave to

Hongkong society for a while quite a martial aspect . By a grand

levée held by Lord Elgin at Government House (January 10 ,


1861 ) , and by the ceremony of handing over Kowloon Peninsula

to the British Crown (January 19, 1861 ), the leading spirits

of the war period bade farewell to the Colony . Before the

close of January, 1861 , the expedition had departed and

when the small force left in occupation of Canton city (until

October 21 , 1861 ) likewise left for Europe, the social life of

Hongkong resumed its ordinary aspects. Club life, however,

encountered during this period some lively disturbances. The

Hongkong Club had been established to promote the interchange

of good feeling among the representatives of the Civil Service,

the Army and Navy, and the mercantile community, and to

receive strangers visiting Hongkong. Nevertheless it happened

occasionally, and in the years 1859 and 1860 with distressing

frequency, that persons were blackballed who from their social

or official position had a claim to admission . This caused much

animated dissension. In April 1860, the Club Committee made

a rule, requiring cash payment in the case of naval officers,

which might have remained harmless, but when a public paper

indiscreetly discussed the matter and stated that this rule had

been occasioned by an enormous amount of bad debts burdening

the Club finances, a little tempest arose. The naval officers

on the station assembled in full force (April 18 , 1860 ) and

demanded of the Committee the names of naval officers, whose

bills remained unpaid, with a view to their liquidation . When

the Committee refused to give up the names , the naval officers

withdrew from the Club in a body, the military officers also

threatened to withdraw, and dissensions dragged on till the

close of the year, when the dispute was at last amicably settled

(December, 1860 ) . A fresh disturbance of Club life arose, in

1864, in connection with the riots between sailors, soldiers

and police. The Volunteer Corps was called out to take the

place of the military in patrolling the streets. It so happened,

on the evening of 14th September, 1864, that the Volunteer

Corps, on returning from patrol duty, was made to fall out

in frout of the Club. Some of the members of the Club invited

their friends among the Volunteers to join them in some


refreshments. It was a breach of the rules, which the patriotic

duties of the Volunteers might have excused , but when the

intruders from among the Volunteers were forthwith hooted

out of the Club, there ensued an extraordinary amount of

animosities which for a long time after this incident lacerated

social life within and without the Club.

Sports flourished during this period . The Victoria Regatta

Club, which had been virtually extinct, was revived (June 28,

1860) , under the leadership of Mr. T. G. Linstead. The Racing

Club was also re-animated by the interest that Sir H. Robinson

took in the annual races which , in February 1861 , closed with

a Government House Ball in addition to the usual subscription

Ball . In January, 1862, racing men were much stirred up by

the question of excluding from the annual races all professional

riders or jockeys. Renewed excitement was called forth, in

October, 1864, by a request which Sir H. Robinson addressed

to the Racing Club Committee, to rail off a box in the Grand

Stand for his own use at the next meeting. After much

discussion , this request was refused by the Committee as

unusual and out of keeping with the democratic spirit and

purpose underlying the national institution of horse racing.

Athletic sports for sailors and soldiers were first held on a

large scale on the race course on 16th March, 1860, and by

the encouragement which Lady Robinson gave to this movement

it became, like the Garrison Sports, a popular annual festival.

At the instance of some members of the German Club, which,

under the directorship of Mr. W. Nissen became a popular

factor of social life, an international Gymnasium Committee

was formed (November 24, 1862 ) and a matshed gymnasium

was erected near the racket court on military ground. A novel

and most singular sport was occasioned (February 1863 ) by

the appearance in the harbour of a stray whale which was

forthwith chased with improvised harpoons and pursued far

out to sea by crowds of amateur whalers.

Dramatic and musical pursuits were not neglected. The

Garrison Theatre was, as during the preceding period , frequently


utilized by the officers of the garrison for the entertainment of

the community in general. But considerable irritation arose

during the last few months of 1859 when it was found that the

issue of season tickets, though offered to the public at fixed rates,

was restricted to certain classes of society. The exclusion of

Parsee merchants gave special offence and had to be withdrawn.

The consequence was that theofficers of the garrison, after

making, during the next year's season , another attempt to

discriminate between upper and lower strata of Hongkong

society, entered, in December, 1862 , into a sort of amalgamation

with the civilian Amateur Dramatic Corps. This measure

resulted later on (June 13 , 1864) in the re-construction of the

old Royal Theatre, a humble matshed structure which by this

time had fallen into a hopeless state of dilapidation. A Choral

Society, a revival of the old Madrigal Society, was formed, in

1862 , at the impulse and under the directorship of Mr. C. F. A.

Sangster and gave its first public concert (July 10, 1863 ) in aid

of the fund then being raised for the building of a City Hall .

A curiosity, if not a nuisance, in the musical line appeared in

Hongkong in the form of a hurdy-gurdy worked by an Italian.

Among the public festivities of this period, the most note-

worthy entertainment was a Ball which the Prussian Minister

to China, Count Eulenburg, gave (November 28, 1861 ) to the

Governor and the community of Hongkong The Hon. A.

Burlingame, U. S. Minister, was also present. The starting of

the Messageries Maritimes line of mail steamers was celebrated

(December 22 , 1862) with considerable éclat by a magnificent

public Ball given on board the S.S. Impératrice. As to other

prominent incidents of the social life of this period, there may

be mentioned the gloom cast over society by the premature death

of the Prince Consort (December 14, 1861) , the arrival of the

widow of the famous Arctic explorer, Lady Franklin (April,

1862) , the vote passed in Legislative Council (February 6, 1863)

to congratulate H.M. the Queen on account of the approaching

marriage of the Prince of Wales, the presentation of a farewell

address on the occasion of the departure of Chief Justice Adams


(March 21 , 1863) , and the public rejoicing (February 29, 1864)

which the news of the birth of the Prince of Wales' first son

occasioned .

Chinese social life was, at the beginning of the year 1861 ,

much agitated by a general mania for gambling, which occasioned

grave dissensions. Clan fights even were indulged in, owing to

gambling house quarrels. The evil was so widespread that the

mass of local shopkeepers petitioned the Governor (June, 1861 )

to suppress the extensive gambling which, they said , was going

on in every part of the town with the connivance of the Police.

Chinese servants in European employ were likewise giving an

unusual amount of trouble in connection with this gambling

mania. Sir H. Robinson, shrinking from the idea of grappling

with the source of the evil in the line proposed by Sir J. Bowring,

and knowing no solution of this knotty social problem, publicly

suggested ( in 1862 ) that a remedy for the systematic dishonesty

of native domestics be sought in the establishment of a registry

of servants. An attempt was actually made in this direction ,

but, as on all subsequent occasions, registration was resisted by

the natives and failed to gain the confidence of the public. An

attempt made (March 31 , 1864) to remove the general complaints

against Chinese washermen by the establishment of a French

laundry met unfortunately with persistent opposition on the part

of Chinese dhobies and with insufficient encouragement on

the part of the public.

One of the healthiest and most useful exhibitions of public

spirit that Hongkong ever witnessed was the Volunteer movement

of the year 1862. Two years before, the idea of starting a

rifle corps had been suggested by a letter published in the

China Mail (January 31 , 1860 ) . But it was not till January,

1862, that active steps were taken, resulting in a public meeting

held at the Court House (March 1 , 1862 ). This meeting

resolved to establish a Volunteer Corps and moved the Govern-

ment to sanction by Ordinance (2 of 1862) the enrolment

of any resident of Hongkong, irrespective of nationality. Captain

(subsequently Lieutenant- Colonel) F. Brine, R.E. , was appointed


commandant and the first officers elected by the members of

the Corps were W. Kane, R. B. Baker, J. M. Frazer, and

J. Dodd . A battery of artillery was first organised . Later

on (December, 1862) a band was formed. In spring, 1863. a

rifle corps was added and in December, 1864 , Volunteers were

enrolled from among the foreign residents at Canton in a rifle

company attached to the Hongkong Corps. The Government

sanctioned (February 7 , 1863 ) an annual outlay of £ 195 on

condition of there being at least 75 effective Members of the

Corps . The Volunteers made their first festive appearance in

public on 16th February, 1863, on the occasion of the presenta-

tion of colours (by Mrs. W. T. Mercer) and of a silver bugle

(by Mrs. Brine), when Bishop Smith acted as Honorary Chaplain

of the Corps . The ceremony was followed by an inauguration

dinner held at St. Andrew's school-room and presided over by

the Administrator (W. T. Mercer). To keep up the enthusiasm ,

in spite of the discouragement arising from the apathy which

the heads of mercantile firms displayed towards the movement,

rifle competitions were organized (April 6 and 7 , 1863 ) , when

the first medal of the British National Rifle Association was won

by Mr. H. J. Holmes and testimonials were presented to the

Honorary Musketry Instructor, Lieutenant K. D. Tanner, and to

the Drill Instructor, Corporal Goodall, R.A. The Corps also

took part in the Queen's Birthday Parade in May, 1863. The

spirit of the Corps increased with its numbers throughout the

years 1863 and 1864. Subscription cups were frequently shot

for. A march-out to the Happy Valley, with firing practice in

the presence of the Governor and a large assembly (March 8 ,

1864) and particularly an armed expedition to Macao (November

19 to 21 , 1864) undertaken in response to a courteous invitation

by the Portuguese Governor (Isidoro F. Guimaraes), infused

fresh life into the Corps. On 5th December, 1864, Lady

Robinson distributed at the Public Gardens the prizes won at a

public rifle competition , including the National Rifle Association-

medal (won by Sergeant Moore) . At the close of this period

the strength of the Corps was as follows, viz. Band 25, Artillery


84, Rifles ( including the Cantou detachment) 91 , honorary

members 67, total 267 men . The officers of the Corps at this

time were Major Scott ( 22nd Regiment) , A. Coxon, H. J. Tripp ,

H. Cohen, H. J. Holmes, W. J. Henderson , F. I. Hazeland and

T. G. Linstead.

The erection of a Clock Tower, a City Hall and a Sailors'

Home constitutes another exhibition of the public spirit that

animated the community at this time. At the suggestion of

Mr. J. Dent, a public meeting (July 28, 1860 ) took into

consideration the proposal to erect by public subscription a

clock tower (80 feet high) with town clock and fire bell, the

tower to be connected with a drinking fountain, and arrangements

were also to be made for the dropping of a time ball. A

Committee was appointed (J. Brodersen, J. H. Beckwith,

D. Lapraik, G. Lyall, C. St. G. Cleverly) to collect subscriptions,

which at first flowed in generously. Delay in the execution

of the scheme soon caused the enthusiasm to cool down,

subscriptions stopped, the scheme had to be curtailed, all the

decorative features of the original pretty design had to be

abandoned , and the result was an ugly tower obstructing the

principal thoroughfare. Mr. D. Lapraik came generously to the

rescue of the Committee and provided, at his own cost,

the town clock, which sounded for the first time on new year's eve

(December 31 , 1862), ushering in the year 1863. Mr. J. Dent

also stepped in and erected, apart from the Clock Tower, a

drinking fountain (December 15, 1863) which now graces the

front of the City Hall. The dropping of a time ball had to be

indefinitely postponed. The Government, however, took over

(May 22 , 1863 ) the maintenance of the tower and its clock.

At the close of the year 1861 , the erection of a Theatre and

Assembly Room' was publicly discussed , a provisional Committee

was appointed to make all preliminary arrangements and plans

were exhibited at the Club in October 1862 , calculated on an


expenditure of $34,000 . The name of the City Hall,' and the

combination in one building of a theatre, a library and a suite

of assembly rooms, having been agreed upon, the Government



made a free grant of the site (February 23, 1864) . At a public

meeting ( May 19 , 1864 ) it was stated that a sum of $20,000

had been obtained by donations, subscriptions and concerts ;

that, a further sum of $80,000 being required, shares had been

offered at $ 100 each ; that Mr. Robert Jardine had generously I

taken up shares to the amount of $ 50,000 , and that there

remained shares of the face value of $30,000 to be taken up

by the public. As in the case of this City Hall, so in the case of

Sailors' Home, the heads of the firm of Jardine, Matheson & Co.

distinguished themselves by their princely liberality . Recog-

nizing the duty incumbent on those who mainly benefit by the

sailor's industry and toil, to consider and care for his welfare,

Mr. Joseph Jardine, seconded by his brother, Mr. Robert Jardine ,

started a scheme for the erection of a Sailors' Home and set aside

for the purpose at first $20,000 . The community of Hongkong

supplemented this sum by liberal donations and the Government

eventually (July 5 , 1861 ) gave a fine site at West Point. A

public meeting, held at the Club (February 4, 1861 ), elected

Trustees (A. Fletcher, C. W. Murray, J. D. Gibb, J. Heard ,

W. Walkinshaw, D. Lapraik, R. H. Reddie, H. T. Thomsett,

Rev. W. R. Beach) and called for further subscriptions. After

an attempt to obtain the site of the present Horse Repository had

failed, building operations commenced in 1862 at West Point.

Meanwhile, however, public interest slackened and subscriptions

ceased flowing in. By the time the building was opened

(January 31 , 1863 ) by Sir H. Robinson and Mr. J. Whittall, the

funds were exhausted . The Government refused (May 14, 1863)

to give a grant and difficulties multiplied . In autumn , 1864,

Mr. Robert Jardine gave a further donation of $25,000 in

aid of the fund and undertook to carry on the Home at his

own expense for three years. It was hoped that by the end

of that time the public would once more come forward and

maintain the institution by annual public subscriptions.

The successful expansion of private and public enterprise

by which this period is distinguished, and the extraordinary

prosperity which the Colony in general enjoyed at this time,


resulted in a considerable extension of the city in size and beauty,

Hongkong having now no equal in China with regard to health

and comfort. Most of the vacant building lots within easy

distance of the city were now built over and, though the city did

not extend further to the eastward, the western suburbs were

considerably expanded and numerous European residences were

erected on the hill side near West Point. In 1860 and 1861

the Chinese settlement at Shaukiwan grew largely in importance

as a depot for the exportation of salt fish. Owing to the delay

in the settlement of the Kowloon land dispute, and in consequence

of the doubts entertained as to the sanitary aspects of Peak

residence, general attention was directed to Pokfulam where an

ornamental villa settlement had been started by this time ( 1862 )

around Douglas Castle, in the vain hope of securing there a

public health resort. Sir H. Robinson, however, had more

faith in the Peak. He had a path cut (December, 1859) which

led to the top of Victoria Peak and, after recovering from the

Military Authorities the site of their abandoned Sanatorium,

arrangements were made, in March 1860, for the erection on that

site of a bungalow for the use of the Governor. The laying

out of the Public Gardens, on the rising ground directly

south of Government House, was undertaken by the Surveyor

General's Department at the sole expense of the Government.

Mr. Th. Donaldson was appointed (October 7 , 1861 ) Curator,

seeds and plants were procured from Australia and England

and, on the completion of the work, the Gardens were thrown

open to the public under certain regulations (August 6, 1864) .

In October, 1864, the military band commenced giving pro-

menade concerts in the Public Gardens at stated intervals. It

was noticed, in 1864, that a general increase had taken place

in the vegetative surroundings of the town, and that the

increased attention , given to the cultivation of trees along the

public roads and around European dwellings on the hill side,

had already done very much to displace the pristine barrenness

of the site on which the city was built by patches of beautiful



The literary activities of the Colony were manifested by

the publication, in Hongkong, of Sir T. Wade's Hsin-ching-lu,

a work on the Mandarin Dialect (June, 1859 ) , by the issue

of a Chinese edition of the Daily Press ( 1860) , and especially

by the appearance, through the liberal patronage of the firm

of Jardine, Matheson & Co. , of the first volume of Dr. Legge's

translation and commentary of the Chinese Classics (May, 1861 ) .

The botany of Hongkong was scientifically explored by

Mr. G. Bentham, who published the results (in 1861 ) in a

volume entitled Flora Hongkongensis and dedicated to Sir

H. Robinson. A few years later (in 1865) , Mr. T. W. Kingsmill

published, in the Journal of the North China Branch of the

Royal Asiatic Society, a detailed notice of the geological features

of the Island.

The administration of Sir H. Kobinson encountered a

moderate number of public disasters . A typhoon which passed

(August 15, 1859 ) to the S.E. of Hongkong, causing but slight

damage in the Colony, was succeeded two months later (October

13 , 1859 ) by another typhoon which destroyed most of the

wharves and piers, caused some collisions in the harbour, and

damaged the roofs of many houses, but it was not accompanied by

loss of life. The disappearance, about this time, of the schooner

Mazeppa, which was lost with every soul on board ( October,

1859 ) , led to a judicial inquiry, on the basis of an action for

libel preferred by the owners, into the allegation that the vessel

had left Hongkong in an unseaworthy condition . The allegation

was proved to be false, though, owing to the contradictory

nature of the evidence, not withont causing social altercations

which at the time convulsed a section of the community. A

terrible rain storm broke over the Colony in the following year

(August 18, 1860 ) and not only burst most of the drains,

but caused the collapse of some houses in the Canton Bazaar

(in Hawan) which involved the death of five persons. A

typhoon , suddenly passing the Colony on 27th July, 1862 , caused

a considerable loss of life, and by an extraordinarily heavy rain-

fall, occurring on June 6, 1864, many lives were lost through


the collapse of houses, and property was destroyed to the value of

$500,000. Fires in town were comparatively rare during this

period, which is, however, in respect of the European quarter,

distinguished by the somewhat unusual occurrence of an extensive

conflagration which destroyed (October 19 , 1859 ) the Roman

Catholic Church in Wellington Street and a number of European

business establishments in Queen's Road and Stanley Street, viz .

the stores of Mrs. Marsh, Mrs. Rickomartz, the Victoria Exchange,

the Commercial Hotel and others. Among further disasters of

this period may be mentioned the fire on board the S.S. Cadiz

(January 10 , 1863 ), the drowning of four deserters from the

ship Oasis (May 1 , 1863 ) , the drowning (above referred to)

of 38 Chinese convicts at Stonecutters' Island (July 23 , 1863 ) ,

and the death by suffocation ( March 8 , 1865 ) of three soldiers

engaged in excavating the hillside at Scandal Point. The

year 1860 was distinguished by the death of four public

officers, viz. the Harbour Masters Newman and Gunthorpe, the

Assistant Surveyor General Walker, and the Crown Solicitor

Cooper Turner. To this list may be added the name of Dr.

Enscoe, Surgeon of Seamen's Hospital, who died a few years

later (September 30, 1863) .

Sir H. Robinson left Hongkong on 15th March, 1865 ,

having been promoted to the Governorship of Ceylon. His

departure was marked by two complimentary public enter-

tainments, viz . by a dinner given at the Club by the members

of the Civil Service ( March 11 , 1865 ) and by a Ball given in

the Theatre Royal by the community (March 13, 1865 ) . Among

the guests was the Duke of Brabant, then crown prince of

Belgium, a first cousin to Queen Victoria.

The verdict of public opinion on the merits of Sir H.

Robinson's administration, as expressed in the local papers, was

to this effect, that Sir Hercules was exceedingly favoured by

fortune in respect of the all-important fact that his term of

administration happened to coincide with a period of irrepressible

prosperity (not at all of his making) , such as was without a

parallel in the history of the Colony ; that the most remarkable


feature in this season of prosperity was the wonderful advance

in the value of building land by which many individuals, as well

as the Colony as a whole, found themselves rich in an unexpected

manner ; that Sir H. Robinson turned these adventitious

circumstances to good account for the benefit of the public weal

and of his own reputation ; that nevertheless he left the residents

heavily taxed, the town undrained , the sanitation of the place

neglected, owing to his paying more attention to laboured balance

sheets and the accumulation of a surplus than to public works

and the most vital interests of the Colony ; that his duties

carried him to the extreme verge of his abilities and that he

would certainly have been infinitely less successful as a Governor

if he had not enjoyed the assistance of Mr. W. T. Mercer who,

as Colonial Secretary, so ably assisted him in every respect and

maintained his policy, as Administrator, during the long period

of the Governor's absence ; that Sir H. Robinson, while naturally

affable and possessed of pleasing social manners, treated the

Colony, especially during his first few years, with a certain

amount of contempt ; that he habitually displayed towards the

unofficial Members of his Council much self-willed obstinacy, and

affected towards his official subordinates a tone of dignified reserve

and disciplinarian rigour which was rather humiliating to the

officials at the head of the different departments ; that the former

bitterness between officials was kept quiet, and that the amount

of social engineering required on the Governor's part to keep

matters smooth, was perhaps the most creditable feature in his

tenure of office ; that Lady Robinson exercised in private society

a most extensive and beneficial influence which went a long

way to atone for the Governor's social shortcomings ; but that,

taking all in all, Sir H. Robinson had been the most fortunate

and successful Governor the Colony was so far ever ruled by.

After leaving Hongkong, Sir H. Robinson served as

Governor of Ceylon ( 1865 to 1872) and, whilst administering

the government of New South Wales ( 1872 to 1879 ) , arranged

the cession to England of the Fiji Islands ( 1874 ) . He next

became Governor of New Zealand ( 1879 to 1880 ) , Governor


of the Cape of Good Hope and Griqualand West and H. M. High

Commissioner in South Africa ( 1880 to 1889 ) , President of

the Royal Commission for the settlement of the affairs of the

Transvaal ( 1881 ) , Governor of Bechuanaland ( 1885 ) , was sent

on a special mission to Mauritius (October, 1886 ) , resigned

office in 1889 , and acted as a Director of the London and

Westminster Bank (until March, 1895 ) when, though an

octogenarian by this time, he resumed office in South Africa

to rectify the confusion which had arisen there since his





March 15, 1865, to April 22, 1872.

FTER the departure of Sir H. Robinson ( March 15 , 1865 )


there ensued an interregnum, the government of the Colony

being administered for a whole year by the former Colonial

Secretary, the Hon . W. T. Mercer, who continued, with fidelity and

ability, the policy of Sir H. Robinson . The work and events

of this year, which was commercially and financially marked

by a rapidly growing stagnation and depression, have been sum-

marized by Mr. Mercer (May 30, 1866 ) in a dispatch published

by Parliament. He statel, -that the Companies' Ordinance (1 of

1895 ) was the principal legal enactment of the year ( 1865 ) ,

next to the series of Ordinances consolidating the criminal

law for which the Colony was indebted to Judge Ball and Mr.

Alexander ; that the summer of 1865 was a specially unhealthy

season, distinguished by much sickness and serious mortality,

so much so that it attracted the attention of Parliament and

occasioned the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the

mortality of troops in China ; that the water supply of the

Colony, though materially improved, remained manifestly inade-

quate, requiring further provision to be made ; that piracy was,

in 1865, as rife as ever and likely to continue so until the

Chinese Maritime Customs Service (under Sir R. Hart) could

be induced to co-operate with the British Authorities for the

suppression of piracy in Chinese waters ; that the Indian con-

tingent of the Hongkong Police Force had proved a failure but

that the Superintendent of Police (Ch . May), who condemned

the proposal of trying once more the Chinese Force, thought.


that the Indian Police had not had a fair trial ; and, finally,

that a deputation of Chinese merchants had urged upon Sir

Rutherforth Alcock, H.M. Minister in China, when he passed

through Hongkong in autumn 1865 , that the support of H.M.

Government should be given to Sir M. Stephenson's railway

scheme (connecting Calcutta with Canton and Hongkong), but

that the question, whether such a scheme would eventually benefit

or injure the interests of Hongkong, was a knotty problem .

There is but one incident of this interregnum which requires

detailed mention . A native of the Poon-yü District (E. of

Canton city), carrying on business in Hongkong under the

name How Hoi-low alias How Yu-teen , was claimed (April 21 ,

1865 ) by the Viceroy of Canton, in virtue of the Treaty of

Tientsin, as having committed robberies in China. The Viceroy

addressed the usual communication to the Governor (Mr. Mercer)

and on 1st May, 1865 , the accused was brought before the

police magistrate (J. C. Whyte) under Ordinance 2, of 1852

(above mentioned ) , defended by counsel ( E. H. Pollard) and

committed to gaol pending reference to the Governor, a prima

facie case having been clearly made out. Under the advice

of the Attorney General ( H. J. Ball) , Mr. Mercer directed

(May 3, 1865 ) the rendition of the prisoner who was forth-

with handed over to the Chinese Authorities and executed in

Canton in the usual manner by decapitation. On May 30th,

1865 , the editor of the Daily Press, by his overland issue

(Trade Report) , gave currency to the allegation which had not

been made at the trial, neither by the prisoner nor by his

counsel, that the unfortunate man was neither robber nor pirate,

but a political refugee, the veritable Taiping prince known

as Mow Wang, that he was unjustly surrendered by the

British Government and executed by the Chinese in a manner

involving actual cannibalism. Although it was known at the

time, and stated by a Canton journalist, that the real Mow

Wang had, according to General Gordon's testimony, been mur-

dered by the other Taiping Wangs on November 29th, 1863 ,

previous to the surrender of Soochow, this sensational fiction


found credence in England. The London Standard (July 22 ,

1865 ) took it up and the redoubtable Colonel Sykes, M.P. , moved

the House of Commons (February 8, 1866) to ask for the

production of documents bearing on the subject, which were

accordingly published (March 20 , 1866 ) . Although these

documents clearly shewed the unfounded character of the

allegations made against the Hongkong Government, the inquiry

served a good purpose, as it directed the attention of H.M.

Government to the fact that such renditions had all along

been conducted by direct requests addressed by the Cantonese

Authorities to the Hongkong Government and that the exclusion

of any supervision, on the part of the British Consul at Canton,

of the treatment accorded by the Chinese Mandarins to prisoners

rendited by the Hongkong Government, exposed them to

inhuman barbarities. Orders were therefore made by the

Colonial Office, that thenceforth all communications between

the Hongkong Government and the Chinese Authorities must ,

in every case, be conducted through H.M. Diplomatic Agent

in China or through H.M. Consul ( August 19 , 1865 ) , and

further that no prisoners should thenceforth be surrendered

by the Government of Hongkong to the Chinese Authorities.

unless guarantee be given that the rendited prisoner be not

subjected to any torture (September 11 , 1865 ).

But this interregnum was not merely a period of insignificant

transition . Its real character was that of a woeful reaction and

general disillusion. During Sir H. Robinson's administration ,

the Colony had taken a bound in advance, both in wealth and

population, so sudden and so great, that now, in the face of

an equally unexpected and extensive decline of its commerce.

prosperity and finances, it was generally felt that Sir Hercules'

system of administration required retrenchment and re-adaptation

to vastly altered circumstances. As the financial sky became

more and more overcast with clouds, even former admirers of

Sir Hercules ' policy admitted that he had taken too roseate a

view of the resources of the Colony. Trade and commerce were

now labouring under a heavy depression . The whole commercial


world was passing through a crisis. Great houses were falling

on all sides. Hongkong, connected now with every great bourse

in the world, was suffering likewise and property was seriously

depreciated . Credit became instable. Men were everywhere

suspicious, unsettled in mind, getting irritable and economically

severe. Yet great public works, the Praya, the new Gaol, the

Mint, the Water-Works, the sea wall at Kowloon , commenced or

constructed in a period of unexampled prosperity, had now to

be carried on, completed or maintained , from the scanty resources

of an impoverished and well-nigh insolvent Treasury. New laws

were clearly needed for the regulation of the Chinese whose

gambling habits were filling the streets with riot and honey-

combing the Police Force with corruption. Crime was rampant

and the gaols overflowing with prisoners . Piracy, flourishing

as ever before, was believed to have not only its secret lairs

among the low class of marine-store dealers but the support of

wealthy Chinese firms and to enjoy the connivance of men in

the Police Force. A sense of insecurity as to life and property

was again, as in days gone by, taking possession of the public

mind. The cry among the colonists now was for a strong and

resolute Governor, one who would give his undivided attention

to the needs and interests of the Colony and govern it accordingly,

undeterred by what the foreign community of Hongkong now

called the vicious system of colonial administration in vogue

at home.' Sir J. Bowring, they said, had attended to everything

under the sun except the government of the Island . Sir H.

Robinson, they opined , had governed the Colony to please his

masters in Downing Street and with a view to advance himself

to a better appointment . And as to Mr. Mercer, everybody

agreed that he deliberately let well enough alone .' The sort

of man the colonists now desired for their next Governor was

a dictator rather, with a strong mind and will, than a weak

faddist or an obsequious henchman of the machine public. The

cry was for a Cæsar.

As Providence would have it, it so happened that it was just

such a man, a Caesar every inch of him, that the Colonial Office ,


casting about for a successor to Sir Hercules, selected. The

choice of H. M. Government fell (October 4, 1865 ) on Sir

Richard Graves MacDonnell, an Irishman who had a splendid

record of varied and long services to recommend him. He had

entered Trinity College ( Dublin ) in 1830, gained honours both

in classics and in science, and graduated B.A. ( 1835 ) and M.A.

( 1838 ) , to which honours was added, later on, the degree of

Hon. LL.D. ( 1844) . Having been called to the bar both in

Ireland ( 1838 ) and at Lincoln's Inn ( 1840 ) , he was appointed

Chief Justice of the Gambia ( 1843 to 1847 ) . As Governor of

the Gambia (1847 to 1851 ) he conducted several exploring

expeditions in the interior of Africa, for which services he was

created C.B. (1852) . Sir R. G. MacDonnell next served ( 1852)

as Governor of St. Lucia and St. Vincent. In 1855 he was

created Knight Bachelor and appointed Captain-General and

Governor-in-chief of South Australia, which government he held

till March, 1862. After serving two years ( 1864 and 1865 ) as

Governor of Nova Scotia, Sir Richard was promoted to the Gover-

norship of Hongkong where he took over, on 11th March, 1866,

the reins of office from the Administrator, the Hon . W. T. Mercer.

Within a few days after his arrival in the Colony, Sir

Richard found himself painfully disillusioned . By his interviews

with the officials in Downing Street, he had been led to believe

that he would find in Hongkong a full treasury, a steadily-

increasing revenue, public works of all sorts finished or so

nearly completed that little remained to be done, a Mint ready

to commence operations and sure to pay well, and a competent

official staff, purged by the labours of Sir Hercules of every taint

of corruption. To his intense surprise and disappointment,

Sir Richard found the position of affairs well-nigh reversed.

The interregnum, rapidly developing the mischief which had

secretly been brewing during the closing year of Sir H. Robinson's

administration, had wrought an astounding transformation scene,

of which the Colonial Office was as yet blissfully ignorant.

For several months after this crushing revelation which burst

upon him immediately upon his arrival, Sir Richard stayed


his hand while he silently but deliberately went round, from

one department to the other, probing by the most searching

investigation the extent and nature of the mischief wrought .

The colonists wondered and groaned owing to the Governor's

seeming inactivity, whilst a wholesome fear was instilled in the

minds of all officials by the Governor's repeated and most

unexpected surprise visits, and by his minute questionings as

to every financial, executive and administrative detail, such as

had never been inquired into before . But when he once had

satisfied himself as to the real position of affairs, he set to

work as a determined reformer, launching one measure after

the other, regardless of the hostile criticisms of local public

opinion and impatient even of the restraints which successive

Secretaries of State sought to put upon his dauntless energy.

In the face of much opposition and suffering severe opprobrium

on all sides, Sir Richard went on with his labours as a reformer,

honestly and fearlessly striving to do right and content to be

judged in the future when his measures would have produced

their natural results. He had not to wait very long before

the Hongkong public, abandoning their early prejudices, frankly

recognized his worth. After four years' untiring exertions, reasons

of health compelled him to ask for a furlough, intending to

proceed only to Japan, where he had spent a few weeks in

1868 (October 29 to December 12 ) for a brief rest. But the

Colonial Office thought it expedient that he should, by a visit

to England, combine, with the object of recruiting his health ,

the pressing duty of explaining to the Secretary of State the

grounds of his divergent policy, distasteful in some respects to

the Colonial Office. When he was about to start on this trip

to Japan and England (April 13, 1870 ) , the community of

Hongkong, having by this time taken the correct measure of

their Governor's character and work, unanimously acknowledged

that he had the true interests of the Colony at heart, according

to his own views of what was best, and that he had, sincerely

and in many respects most successfully, striven to administer

the government and to legislate for the Colony's ultimate good


and advancement, without fear or favour of the Colonial

Office or of local opinion. It was publicly stated (April 5 , 1870)

even at that time that the measures which proved the most

beneficial were precisely those on which he met (on the part

of the public) with most difficulty.' At the meeting of the

Legislative Council ( March 30, 1870) previous to his departure,

the Chief Justice (J. Smale) expressed the sentiments of the

whole community when he eulogized the Governor on the great

success obtained by his able and vigorous policy and stated

that Lady MacDonnell had, by her urbanity of manner and

kindness of heart in extending gentle courtesies to all, filled

her exalted station so that no lady, who had ever presided at

Government House, left the Colony more or more generally

regretted than Lady MacDonnell. On the same occasion, the

Hon . H. B. Gibb, speaking also on behalf of the other non - official

Members of Council, endorsed the eulogy pronounced by the

Chief Justice. During the absence of the Governor, Major-

General H. W. Whitfield, ably seconded by the Colonial Secretary

(J. Gardiner Austin) , administered the government of the Colony .

Sir Richard returned to his post on 8th October, 1871 , and

remained at it to the close of his administration .

During his whole tenure of office, Sir Richard had no

questions of a diplomatic nature to deal with, apart from those

which grew out of Hongkong's relations with China. The first

case of this class occurred immediately after the Governor's

arrival, when the S.S. Prince Albert, owned by Kwok Acheung,

the popular comprador of the P. & O. Company, was seized by the

Chinese Customs officers (May 26, 1866) on the ground of her

resorting to a port on the West Coast not opened by Treaty.

Although Sir Richard, who considered the action of the Chinese

officers to have been illegal, could do but little to obtain a

modification of the sentence of confiscation, as H.M. Consul at

Canton (D. B. Robertson) had acquiesced in that decision , yet he

obtained the release of the vessel on payment of a fine of $4000 .

But the spirit and energy which Sir Richard displayed on the

occasion gained him considerable popularity. He was more


successful in the case of the attempt made, in October, 1867 , by

the Canton cotton -dealers' guild, to remove the whole cotton

trade from Hongkong to Canton . As soon as he had the facts

before him, shewing that the Canton guild had made regulations

imposing a system of fines on any Chinese merchants who should

violate their prohibitions by buying cotton or cotton yarn in

Hongkong, Sir Richard addressed, through the Consul, such

strong remonstrances to the Viceroy of Canton, that the latter

yielded and issued a proclamation (November 29 , 1867 ) absolutely

prohibiting the measures contemplated by the guild . With the

same promptness and energy Sir Richard interfered at the close

of the year 1871 , when the Administrator of Chinese Customs

(Hoppo) at Canton openly made a rule, on which he had secretly

been acting for years, that all foreign-laden Chinese junks in South

China, intending to sail for Hongkong from any Chinese port, must

first report at Pakhoi or Canton before proceeding to Hongkong.

This hostile attempt to confine the whole native coast trade

between South China and Hongk