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NESE BUDDHISM:— K Sanskrit-Chinese 
Dictionary, with Vocabularies of Buddhist 
Terms in Pali, Singhalese, Siamese, Burmese, 
Tibetan, Jtlougolian and Japanese. Second 
Edition. Eevised and Enlarged. Hongkong, 

BUDDHISM :^lts Historical, Theoretical and 
Popular Aspects, in Three Lectures. Third 
Edition, Kevised, with x4.dditions. Hongkong, 

FENG SHUT:— The Rudiments of Natural Science 
in China. London and Hongkong, 1873. 

TONESE DIALECT:— Yom Volumes, with 
Appendix. London and Hongkong, 1877 to 

TION IN HONGKONG :-Iie])vmt from 
the China Review. Hongkong, 1891. 


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Tli« ucriuil well ^een is rlie iileal.— C/o7///« 




KELLY ct WAF.Sn, Ld. 












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

at tlie offtce of the 

liaj 1st I'd r General, Suprnne Court House. HoufjhoiHj. 


TO Europeans residing in Hongkong or China, 
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 da 
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 meamvhile 
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 v^ere, 
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 

I'REFACE. iii 

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 Ckltpy 
unifying commercial and political principles which 7\tfuf* 
are to the present day the ntiflprlyinpr element.^ oi^ V*^ 
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 WorhVs 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 Setdements and 
Hongkong. By fifty years' handhng of Hongkong^ 
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 w orld ^ has deman 

strated jA^hat Chin ese 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 P" ranee), but especially also with regard to the 
ereater role 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, evelK 

more than in its bearing upon thelAsiatic problem, 

lies the real importance of Hongk(5Sg.ZlSucIi- is 

vj^ the position of this Colony in relation to the destinies 

V y^of the^Far ._Eastj_^^o//^^(>//^ will yet have aJ)i'o- 

if ^ /fmineni place in the future history of the' British 

i hf Empire. 

) Ov_.--^''-'^^he foregoing consideratons will commend the 
subject of this book to the attention of the general 
reader. xA.s 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 EasX 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, 



Chap/j>. Commencement of British Trade with 

China, A.O. 1025 to 1834, i 

(U). International Retationh, A.l). 1C25 to 

1H?>4, 12 

. III. Monopoly ffirsits Free Trade, 10 

IV. The Mission of Lord Napier, 26 

V. Dissensions and a Quiescent Policy, A.D. 

1884 to 188C 42 

VI. Thk Skauch for a (^^lony. 53 

VII. Chanok of Policy (52 

W\W The Opicm Qckstion and the Exodus 
^^ FROM Canton (1880). 75 

IX. Exodus from Macao anj) Evfnts Leading 
UP to the Cession of Hongkong, 1889 
to 1841, i)C 

X. Prk-P.ritish Hlstory of the Island of 

Hongkong, 127 

1 Q ' 


KON(;, ISIl to 1S48, !.'>'» 

XII. The Administration of Captain Elliot, 

Jiuinarv 20 to Anoiist 10, 1841, 1C3 



Chap. XI n. The Administration of Sir H. Pottinger, 

August 10, 1841, to May 8, 18U, 179 

XIV. The Administration of Sir J. F. Davis, 

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

XV. The Administration of Sir S. G. Bonham, 

March 20, 1848, to April 12, 1854, 258 

XVI. A Brief Survey, 288 

XVII. The Administration of Sir J. Bowring, 

April 13, 1854, to May 5, 1850, 208 

XVIII. The Administration of Sir Hercules 
Robinson, September 0, 1850, to Marcli 
15, 18G5, 85;3 

XIX. The Interregnum of the Hon. W. T. 
Mercer, and the Administration of 
Sir R. a. MacDonnell, March 15, 18fi5, 
to April 22, 1872, 408 

XX. The Administration of Sir A. Kennedy, 

April in, 1872, to March 1, 1877, 477 

XXI. The Administration of Sir J. Pope 
Hennessy, April 22, 1877, to Marcli 
7, 1882, 522 

XXII . A Short Simma r y, , . . , 508 




Commencement of British Trade with China. 
A.D. 1625 to 1834. 

fpHE history of Britisli Trade with Cliina, which preceded 
§P Great Britain's connection with India, is comprised, from its 
first commencement down to the year 1834, 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 nonplussed 
by China's dogged self-adequacy and persistent assertion of 
supremacy, and had its gl')ry, 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. 1025) to open tentative branch-agencies at 
Tywan (on the island of Formosa) and next in Araoy (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 estabhshed 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- 
with (A.D. 1034) negotiated a Treaty with the Portuguese 
Governor of Goii, under whose control Mncao was, and by virtue 
of this Treaty the British ship London (Captain AVeddcll) was 
admitted into the port of Macao and, after bombarding the 
Bogue Forts at the entrance to the Canton Kiver, her gallant 
commander was received in friendly audience by the Viceroy, 
who forthwith granted him (July 1055) full participation in 
the Canton trade, to the great chagrin of the ^facao 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 fi-ee 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. 1()44) 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. 1G81), 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, 
80 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 curashaw) 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 
Hhe 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 exchisive 
monopoly of the foreign trade and, in addition to the Hoppo's 
officers who had to be phed 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 end 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, au 
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 speedily 
managed to adapt tlieir 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 
w^hatever way it could be done, the amount of presents, 
measuring fees, port charges, duties and brokerage, and then, 
when everything w'as 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 Bogne, 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 dnty 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 measure 
the Imperial Authorities at Peking had insisted to enable them 
better to gunge 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. 1786), exemption from this tax. By this time about 
four Englisii 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, \\hilst 
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 l^ogue 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, brouglit to the notice 
of the Throne. An Imperial Commissioner, authorized to 
remove the Hoppo from his post and to abohsh 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 Yamen 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 17G2, when he was released and deported to 

The Court of Directors, who had by the action of their 
servants hitherto stooped sub rosd 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. 1700), 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 tlie 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, ac the cli:inge of the season, furnished with passports 
and warned to be off to Macao. Thence they had, at the end 
of summer, to pelition for passports again, to enable them to 
return to Canton the next season. 

At last (Fchrnary 13, 1771), the dissolution of the Co- 
Hong, wliich had become the most galling burden of the 
time, was gained by the Supercargoes resident at Canton, 
a triumpli 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. 

Xevertlieless, 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 j^osition, 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 natioualities quietly submitted to this chanofe 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 Avith 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 18;U 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 \ielded 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 chanj^e had come over the demeanour of 

10 CHAPTER r. 

the foreign merchants. The East India Company's chiefs 
seemed to have lost somehow their former control over the 
foreign commnnity, 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 Kapsingmooii 
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 encouraged 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 drive off 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. 



International Relations. 
A.D. 1625 to IS 84. 

^f^URING the whole period above reviewed, the relations 
■^^ between 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 tlie city gates under any pretext wdiat- 
•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 tlius assigned to tliem, and tacitly acknowledged the 
political supremacy and tlie 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 religious 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 
€hinese 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 Centaury 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 Viceroys 


to pay his respects to His Excellency, which was his bonnden 
duty as the Officer of His Majesty King George 11. 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-^vaters 
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 
folio vv the precedent set by Commodore Anson, they found 
thiqgs 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 good nature, and the Chinese Government, 
likewise ignoring what had happened, allowed him to do just 
as he pleased until he took his ship awaj. 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 show7 retinue, had even less effect upon the attitude 
which the Tatsiiig 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, w'as 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 jxiople 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 Franoe 
was restored. In the hitter year Admiral Drury withdrew 
his men again and abstained from forcino- his way up to Canton 
in order to please the East India Company's Committee and 
to avoid interference with trade. Again, in tlie 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 Enolish surrendered a gunner who, in fii-ing 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 Ji20 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 oomniander, 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 lY. 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 wn'th 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 Benti nek's letter, issued (January 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. 


S e) 


Monopoly versus Free Trade. 

'prOWEVER galling this stolid assertion of self-adequacy 
;^^ 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, missionaries, and 
even English ladies, had us 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 barbafian 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 interdict 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. 1736), 
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. 

22 CHAPTER Iir, 

(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 following 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 (juestion of renewing the 
Company's Charter had to be decided, tlie 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 Inues, 
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 felD 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 
Corapany*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 ParHament 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. 

« i> * -^-:T 4'.h^^^ 


The Missiox of Lord Napier. 

^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. 1G99) to Mr. Catchpoole, 
but corresponding, on the EngUsh 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 nofc 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 Cliiua 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, 1838. 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 Eight 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 Superiutendency 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 I3ritish 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, w^ith 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 20, 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 forei<,ni Superintend(Mit of British trade and 
accord to him an official status; no fault can be found with 
the Royal Instructions suj^plied 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 exj)ectation 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 wlio 
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, how^ever, 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 
])ositive right to establish a British Superintendent at Canton. 
Lord Palnierstoii specially enjoined upon Lord Xapier, 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 Xapier's action by the 
Duke of Wellington, who gave it as his opinion that Lord 
Xapier 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 Avithin 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 
€hinese 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 
Oanton. Possibly it was then that his eyes were opened to 


the strategies of the Cabinet, and, if so, it was this discoven\ 
rather tlian the iornominions 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 
Hobinson (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. \Y. 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. Yachell to be 
Chaplain to the Superintendents. Finally Mr. A. R. Johnston 
w\as 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 
powei-s 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 w^anted. 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 tliat 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. A.stell, accompanied by the interpreters, proceeded with 
the latter to the city gates, w^here 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 bim 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 wiUingness 
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 
<jalled (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 
tlirough 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. KSome 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 
Avith 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 Avas a thing hitherto unknoAvn 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 oj^portunities 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, a(;ted 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. CoUedge's 
account of the transaction is correct, the ofHcial 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. 
R. Colledge, engage on the part of the Chief Superintendent, 
^he 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 
Oovernor for His Lordship and suite to proceed to Macao, 
Lord Napier's ill state of health not permitting him to correspond 
"with your Authoi'ities 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 nob the honesty of it. 
Shake hands with me and Mowqua, and let Mr. eTardine do 
the same.' 

The Chinese official account of this meeting is as follows : 
''The Hong Merchants, Woo Tun-yueu and others (Howqua 
a,nd 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 tlierefore 
out of office and the Duke of Wellington at the helm of affairs. 
Bnt 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 
€ight years later, as a cise 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 
liord 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 liis 
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 witliout 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 tlie 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. 


Dissensions and a Quiescent Policy. 
A.D, 1834 to 1836, 

fHE 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 felfc 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 sfcolid 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 
(P.eiho), 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 tliab 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 witL 
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 tliat 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. Nothins: short of 



an armed demonstration of force could induce the Chinese 
Mandarins to grant foreign trade a dignified modus vivendii 
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 Biitish 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 ti'ade almost from month to month, ever since the 
East India Company's charter had ceased. 

Consequently, headed by Jardine, Matheson & Co., E. 
Turner & Co., J. Iniies, J. McAdam Gladstone, A. S. Keating, 
J, Watson, K Crooke, AY. 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 puriDOse of selling 
bills on India and purchasing bills on England, by making 


advances ou 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 xYuthorities 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 
commnnity 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 
iissert 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 g'radnallj surrounded by a colony of Chinese free traders 
and shopkeepers. Afc 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 Eobinson 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, 183G) recommending to reduce the Commission 
to one member ' because disunion and opposition inevitably 
results from the existence of a Council or Board of three.' 


At Liiitin Sir George remained enthroned in the very 
centi-e of the bated 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, 183C), 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 
EUiot 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 pubUc. In private, however, they continued 
to connive at and to foster the opium trade, and commerce 
continued quietly throughout the year. In autumn (October 
IG, 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 fi-igate 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, buo 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 183G, 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 
hne of policy, and persistently dinning into the Minister's 
cars 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 


iDeyoiid 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 tlie 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 jDrophet, he could not have anticipated more distinctly 
the future origin of our Colony, the battle of Chuenpi 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 
dithyrambies on the subject of the quiescent line of policy. As 
to the positive and definite instructions regarding future measares, 
for which the Superintendents were waiting in vain from 1834 
to 18oG, 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 
<is 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 Im 
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. 

-H' i=: = |> ' 


The Search for a Colony. 

(i^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 jstablis b_ a high diplom atic Plenipotentiary *on a 
convenient station on the eastern coast of China/^an^ as nea r 
the capital of the country as might be foand most exp edient.^ 
He further i;ec ommended that, this Plenipotentiary should b e 
attended by a sufficient maritime force to demand reparation of 
the grievances from wliich the trade Avas 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 recommeuded 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 cPappui 
for a naval demonstration, intended to compel China to redress 
grievances and to make some commercial concessions, was 
Sir George Staunion, 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 Stannton moved 
a series of resolutions, one of wliicli (No. 8) ran as follows : 
*Tliat, in the event of its proving impracticable to replace 
the influence of the East India Company's Authoritie.s 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 w^as 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 Avhich 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. Ilis 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 Niugpo 
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 Parhament and in the 
Press, as to commit the blunders which characterized, a few 
D-.onths later, their design of Lord Napier's mission and the 
instructions by which they frustrated it. 

56 CHAPTER \^I. 

When an echo of the foregoing discussions reached Canton 
at the close of the year 1888, a writer in one of the local 
publications, signing himself ' A 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 sliould 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 Avhich 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 Xapier 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 Hongko ng as a future Chine se_t j-eaty por t 
rat lier than as a ^rjtislLColony. The next advocate of a similar 
policy w^as Sir George B. Robinson, who, as stated above, urged 
upon Lord Palmerston (in 183G) 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 pubUc 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 Prospects of British Trade with China,' and 
published in London in 18:^0, 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 tlience negotiate, 
by the demonstration of a small naval foi'ce, 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 rieet, ready for war, might, if judiciously pressed 
home, be all that would be absolutely necessary. Thus Mr. 
Matheson struck, in 1830, 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 1886, several memorials wei^e 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 I^ord Palinerston. This document 
suggested, no doubt at tlie instigation of Mr. Matlieson, 'the 
obtaining, by negotiation or purchase, an island on the eastern 
coast of China, where a British factory may reside, subject to 
its own law^s and exposed to no colhsion 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 w^hich 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 183G, 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 
Cliina.' 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. He 
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 wa s more a groping about for an isla nd on th e east coasT" 
of Chin a than in the neighb ourhood 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 Avas 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 antici23ation of the future was Ixitthe^view ot 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 " 
CO 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 w^ith China ' (London, 1886), 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. 


Change of Policy. 
1836 to 1838, 

WN June 1836 a marked change commenced in the policy 
A 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 
jiot depart from the accustomed mode of communication with 
the Chiiiese 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 Xapier's defeat, 
fcy Mr. Davis and Sir George Robinson, ended on June 7, 188G, 
for it was now to be substituted by Lord Palmerston's own 
dij)lomacy, hitherto restrained by the indolence of public ojDinion 
^nd 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 Napief, 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 Eiver, 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, 
lunder the orders of Sir George Robinson, placed an interdict 


on the employment of the steamer in Chinese waters. Bat 
now (July 22, 1886) 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 AVellington had looked at them. What had constituted in 
the eyes of Canton merchants the most galling element of the 
Duke's quiescent jwlicy 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 
<t 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 Lidia Company, including the power 
to arrest and deport to England unlicensed or otherwise 
objectional)le persons, might be lawfully exercised by the 
Superintendents of British Trade in (Uiina ; but now (Xovember 
s, 183G) 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 
iibolished 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 law^Iess 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 
laAV 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 seo'etly professed tliemselves 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 tlieir 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, 183G) 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, 183G, 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 Xing 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 ub 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 (nob 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 sebtlement 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 bhe momenb. 

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 Bill 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 estabUshed (N'ovember 28, 183G) 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, Avas 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 ; iour 
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 Cautoii 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 responsibihty, 
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. 
Moreover, 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, liustomjee, Fox Bawson, 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 conld 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 
230ssessed. 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 

70 CHAPTER Vir. 

a sufficient fleet to enforce these just and proper claims. It 
is bard 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, be 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 Yiceroy of Canton (December 14, 188G), 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 Yiceroy 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, aud 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-Supercargoels, 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 confonn 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, 18o7} 
to Canton with Mr. Johnston, the Second Superintendent, 
and took with hinoT his whole suite, consisting of ii Secretary 
(Mr. Elinslie), two Interpreters (Mr. Morrison and ^Ir. GiitzlaiT), 
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 allow-ed 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 
Oanton (November 23, 1837) that, with all respect for His 
Excellency's high dignity, he must discontinue the use of the 
character Pie/i 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 senfc Admiral Maitland, who arrived on July 12, 
1838, in H.M.S. WelJesley, 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 Wellesletj. 
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 runk to the Viceroy, he was henceforth 
to receive throusrh the Honof 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 
Englisli 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. 

^ i^ ?~^~r '4..|. - T-r-^ > 


The Opium Question and the Exodus from Canton. 

The tasfce 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 discipliue, fasting and mental 
absolution, sitting for instance motionless for months at a time 
indolently gazing at a black wall. These feats were jDerformed 
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 tradei-s at Canton aud 
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 179C, 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 


opinra was formally prohibited (A.D. 179G) 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 Avhich 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 182G, at a bound, to 0,570 chests, and 
continued until the year 1829 at an average annual rate of 7,427 
chests; that in the year 1880 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 183G that the trade would be legalised, the exportation of 
opium took another sudden bound, rising to 19, GOO chests, in 
consequence of which the total amount of opium, accumulated 
in the hands of opium merchants at Canton and Macao during 
the period 183G 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 
w^ent 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 
€ven Chinese officials openly purchased — from the various foreign 
merchants, representing English, Anglo-Indian (chiefly Parsee), 
Portuguese, American, French, Spanish, Danish, and Dutch 
Arms — 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 warelioused in 
Macao, subsequently it was kept on board ships anchored at 
Whainpoa (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 Liiitin 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 


Avitli the revenue cruizers established by the Viceroy Li 
Huug-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 j^erfect 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 priva,te 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 

80 CHAPTER Vlir. 

which had prevented the Parh'amentary Committee of 1832 
disavowing it altogether. The evil had ah-eady gone on too 
long. The opinm 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, giive 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 (Februaiy 
2G, 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, nnd 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 Ch inese 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 tw^o 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 w^hole 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,G00 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 argaed 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, 
183G) for further report, it was generally assumed at Canton 
that it was now oiily 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, 1830), 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 

84 CHAPTER Vlir. 

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 
fonr 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 w^re 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 snch 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 
npon 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 1888, the liumber 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 


Tiientioned) some police regulations for the purpose, Lord 
Palmerstou 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 lo, 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 8, 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. Junes 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 thai 
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, othei-s 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 

86 CHAPTER Vlir. 

*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 Eiver, 
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, 1889),. 
imploring the Foreign Office for some support under his 
embarrassino^ circumstances, statino^ 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-sii, better known as Com- 
missioner Lin, was already on his way, armed with extraordinary 
powers as Special Lnperial 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 raoiitlis 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 10, 1830) called upon all 
foreign merchants to pledge their word that they would have 
nothing whatever to do with the smuggling of opium or w'itli 
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 newdy 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 conununity was, indeed, the indispensable 
preliminary to the execution of Lin's deeeply laid scheme. 
Having thus caught the whole of the foreign merchants in his 
net, Lin, to keep them busy, allowed the legitimate trade to 
contiime 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 
cashiei-ing 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 2G, 1839). in fronfc 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 Bog-ue forts to be guarded by a fleet, and a 
blockade of Macao to be commenced by land and sea. 

To prev^ent 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 Lame 
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 Lame, 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 Lame, 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 j^roudly and defiantly from the factory tower, where, 
in place of the demolished flagstaff, the ensign staff of the 
Lame's gig had been put up by Elliot's ordei*, inspired every 
heart with fresh couragfe. 


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 oif 
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 n'>w (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 w^ent 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 Queen of Heaven, by a 
Committee of the highest local officers, under the GovernorV 
orders, viz. the Chief Justice, the Treasurer, the Crrain 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 Lame 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 EUiot 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 preposfceroiis, 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 
measure of favour. 'Therefore,' argued the sarcastic Viceroy, 
*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 
tby masses of Chinese soldiery, all longing for plunder; 


combustibles of all sorts were brought to the spot, and on 
the evening of March 2G, 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 bj paramount motives affecting the 
safety of the lives .and liberty of all the foreigners at Canton, 
Elliot issued, at G 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), thafe 
Mr. Johiiston, 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 iLin 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-opeued ; 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 x4pril 17, 1830, 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 
fchat things should go on as usual on completion of the opium 
delivery Avas falsified by reducing the factories to a prison with 
one outlet, by the perpetual expuAsion 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 
<iealings in opium, were allowed to depart for AYhampoa 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, 1839) 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 w^hich it took him wrecks (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 Avell managed,' wrote the Emperor 
to Lin, but the verdict of the vermilion pencil is not always . 
the verdict of history, and six months later Queen Victoria J 
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.' ) 


S=:=^ ^->^r^=^iif 


Exodus from Macao and Events Leading up to the 
Cession of Hongkong. 

1839 to 1841. 
M[f HE Imperial Commissioner Lin had been instructed by 

the Government of Peking to do two things, both of which 
w^ere 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 regime. 
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 (Februarj% 
18S9), the opinm market had been overstocked and hardly any 
sales had taken place. The great bnlk 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 surrendeted 
to Lin, prices recovered and the opium traffic was carried on 
with greater vigour and yielded larger profits than ev'er. 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 
cf 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 startUng news of the imprisonment of the whole foreign 
community, the conviction that some serious alterations in British 
relations with the Chinese Empire w^ere 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 Avith 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 AVhampoa. 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 
he 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 refug<3 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 

100 CHAPTER |.IX. 

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 
shij)ping 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 Tsimshafcsni, and 
gob into a drnnken fray with the Chinese, in the conrse of which 
a Chinaman, named Lin Wai-hi, was killed. Elliot at once 
hastened to Hong-kong and held a strict inqniry, 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 
Liu 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 snrrender the murderer or some British 
subject in his place. Lin, moreover, now demanded, in the 
most peremptory terms, that Elliot and all British nierchants 
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 
oareer. 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 ^Lacao 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 declai:ing 
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 


(AugnsD 3, 1839), Mr. James Mathieson acting as Chairman, 
Mr. Scofcfc (the Secretary of the former Canton Chamber) as 
Secretary, and Messrs. J. H. Astell, Gr. Braine, W. Bell, G. Smith 
and Dinshaw 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 Jolce)^ P^jiii^ 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 nighb 
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 bag-gage, 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 diflftculty 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, an I to place at the Governor's disposal H.M.S. 
Volage which had just arrived, and a force of 800 to lOOO 
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 tlie Portnonese 
Authorities for ' assisting them in driving forth the British 
people,' was no doubt an infamous calumny, which nnist have 
been a so'n-ce 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, im^xilled no doubt by foolish instructions from Lisbon, 
slammed the door in the face of the British community. He 
replied (September 3, 1830), in stiff but stately terms, that he 
<;ould not cease to preserve the most strict neutrality betAveen 
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 Bogne, 
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 
Pliot, seeing the scarcity of provisions, went with Dr. Giitzlaff 
in two small boats (September 4, 1839) to induce the villager 
near Kowloon city to furnish the fleet wit/h 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, 
1H3'.)) 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. Bnt 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 
tliey 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, sec 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, 
iind commanding the people to fire upon British subjects 
whenever they went on shore. 


In consequence of these proceeding's Captain Smith, in 
command of H.M.S. Volafje, 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 intervicAv (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 sliould 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 
w'ould have had a good chance of success, had not Lin coupled 
w4t1i 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 l^ritish merchants (Messrs. 
H. A^'-right, G. T. Braine, W. Wallace and Wilkinson Dent) 
to advise him on the subject of the proposed trade regulations, 
the Committee, after consultation v/ith 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 Coiitts), the 


master of which (Captain AVanier), 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 projDosed basis at Chuenpi^ 
Liu sent to Elliot (October 2G, 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 Lisurance Offices, protested repeatedl}^ 
(October 2G and November 9, 1839) against this order. They 
Avere 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. Volarje) 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, tog-ether 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 powerfnl war- 
junks under the command of Admiral Kwan (a direct descendant 
of Kwan Ti, tlie 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 
tlie official orders for the destruction of English cargo ships, 
find permitting English merchants and families to reside on 
shore and to be furnished with servants and supplies nntil 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 
Admii-al 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 tlie 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, re(iuesting 
tliem 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 hi;n, 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 Chuenpi. As it is tlie 
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 ojDened 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 fron> 
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 oflice 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 ta 
carry into effect the menaces against the merchant vessels. 


Thinking that the retirement of the two ships of Her Majesty 
iVolcifje 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 Volage, 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 
ffco 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 
io 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 
ill 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 Nvretcbed 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 §G 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 ElHot. 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 2G, 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 jDcrmit their trade, and the English trade must 
therefore be entirely stopj)ed from after December G, 1839, and 
for ever. This state of things, continuing for twelve months 
longer to the gj'eat 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 IG, 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 warehomses 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, 18-40), with a view to 
enable British subjects to take refuge on board. Thereupon 
both Governor Pinto and the Senate of Macao waxed wroth^ 
deckred their dignity offended, their neutraUty violated and 
sternly ordered the ship to leave immediately. Captain Smitb 
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. x\rrangements 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 nob 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 employes 
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 
«iin 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 


prej 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 
Bilhaino (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 
ii price of ^5,000 was put on Elliot's head, sums ranging from 
S5,000 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 volanteer 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 18-10, 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 wx're also 
twenty-seven troopships, which brought three regiments (18th 
Royal Irish, 2Gth Cameronians and 49th Bengal Volunteers), 

116 CHArTEU IX. 

a corps of Bengal Engineers, and a corps of Madras sappers 
and miners, abonb 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 Oh. EUiot, R.X., 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 
Avere exactly what so many former Canton residents and notably 
Mr. James Matheson had recommended in 183G. 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 
l^rogramme, 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 inchuled. This was 
no donbt agreeable to Captain Elliot who, as we have seen, was 
inverse to the notion of appropriating Hongkong or any other 
island for the pnrposes 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 Bogne forts should be razed to the ground, and the Island 
of Lantao (\V. 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 jioint cCappiU for the expected negotiations in the North, 
€ommodore 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 Ca])tain Elliot, following (June 30, 
1840) in the wake of Commodore Bremer with the remainder 
■of the expedition, endeavoured first to induce the Authorities of 
Chehkiang (the province to which Chusan belongs) to forward 
-to Peking a dispatch signed by Lord Palmerston and addressed 
ito the Imperial Authorities at Peking, but eventually they 
proceeded, to Tientsin where the dispatch was delivered to the 
Viceroy of Chihli, 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- 


municatioii 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 (G) 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 ear all sorts of whispers, in consequence of which both 
Lin and Tang (the former Viceroy of Canton, now Viceroy 
of Fohkien) were degraded. Kishen Avas 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, Mcvicar, 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 
iojiornnt 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 fleet, 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 u flag of truce, to the Boone (November 20, 1840), to 
iiiinouiice Lis 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 2)ort 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 hemmed 
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 beginnino- 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, ISll) 
to the effect that, unless some definite basis for an agreement 
was proposed by Kishen by 8 a.m. on the following day, Lhe 
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 AVest 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 
was 38 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 ruins 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 
Chinef^e ti'aitors 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 GOO 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 out 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 Chelikiang prisoners were exclianged for Tingliai.' 

Tiie 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 Wharapoa) and 
in exchange for the Bogue forts and Chusan (Tinghai). Sul)- 
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 Avas 
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 Bogne 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 preUmiiiaries of peace was coupled with 
a proviso, subseqneutly disapproved by the British Grovernment, 
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, 1800), 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. Samaramj. 
whose commander (Captain Scott), thenceforth known as 
Governor of Chuenpi, Avas instructed to hand over to the Chinese 
Authorities the demolished forts of Chuenpi and Taikok. At 
the same time, H.M.S. ColinnMne 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, noAV occupied by the Chinese 
recreation ground. Captain Belcher and his officers, considering 
themselves the J)ona fide firsb 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 2G, 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 2t, feu-de-jo ie, 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 tlie true position of Hongkong on a hillock, within a 
stone's throAv of the houses on Morrison Hill, as being in 22° 
]()' 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 (1,010 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 \yonder 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 
Hongkon*^ 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 CroAvn 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 Avill 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 
EngHsh 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. 


Pre-British History of the Island of Hongkong. 

IDEOLOGICAL upheavals bad felicitously formed Hougkong 
^^j 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 
ojxjn 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, 7G 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 
€ity), of which the Kowloon Peninsula and Kowloon City 


Promontory from the south-eastern extremities, whilst Honglxong 
is separated from Kowloon Peninsula bj a channel of one 
nautical mile in width. 

For many centuries Hongkong formed a i^rt of the 
Tungkoon District, but when the eastern half of the latter wtis 
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 wha 
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 Korth 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 T'ong, lit. Hall of a 
King of the Sung) arranged horizontally, \^as 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 (1807) 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 fli2:ht, 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 sea (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-ont 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. 14G8 
to ] 028), 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 (///. 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, Chikchu (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 Xorth-east 
-of the Canton Province, speaking a different dialect, called 
Hakkas {lit. strangers), began to push their way in between Punti 


settlemerjts. These Hakkas cut the grass from the hill sides for 
fuel, made charcoal as loug 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, Hokiin, 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 Avere 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. 1G50). Thereupon 
the Emperor Kanghi issued an Edict, cancelling aU 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. 180G 
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 
^s 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. T'hese 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 narroAV bridlepath leading, 
high above the beach, across rocks and boulders, all the Avay 
from Westpoint to a hamlet near Eastpoint called Kwantailou^ 
described in the first census (May 15, 1841) as a fishing village 
w^ith 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 (Jit. 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 Kiuntailou. 

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. 


Coxfir:\iation of the Cession of Hongkoxg, 
1841 to 1843. 

^ra^EFORE 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, brouglit about 
eventually the confirmation of the cession by the Treaty of 
Nanking (August 29, 1843). For the latter, thougli 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 20, 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 CJanuarv 20, 1841) 


received was, ' Let a large body of troops be assembled f\nd 
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 levee and entertained Elliot and a select company of British 
officers at lunch, pretending the utmost cordiality and the 
frankest determination to carry out the stipulations of the Treaty 
of Chuenpi. EHiot 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 j)roposed 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 
driviuii' 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, Sszechuen and Kweichou to Canton. Three special 
Commissioners (Yikshan, Lung AVan and Yang Fang) were 
ordered to proceed to Canton to organize and superintend a war 
of unconditional extermination. Xo 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, Avhen Elliot had his next 
interview Avith 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, Elh'ofc 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 2^, 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 j^eace. 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 garrisoued by 2,000 men of the elite 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 
Crough, 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 8, 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 0, 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 Nourish 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, acti\'e 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 IG, 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 Fatshaii were working day and night, casting new cannons 
and tnrning 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 20, 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 
foi^ces 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 Xingpo the next day (May 15, 1841), to be postponed 
indefinitely. H.M.S. ColumUne also had brought news (May 10, 


1841) that Eleepoo had, like Kishen, fallen iuto disgrace, and 
that Yuekien, one of the most violent enemies of the English, 
had replaced him as Imperial Commissioner at Niiigpo. 

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 (March 18, 1841), the 
British forces (consisting of 2, GOO 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^ 
leavhig 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 Szechnen 
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 
then 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 officer?, 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 aud 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, Jll 0,000 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 B'dhaino ; 
(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 donbt 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 vokmteers. Seeing that the mnskets 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 vokmteers. 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' fall batta to the naval and military 
forces in Cliina 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 memory of 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, Ehiot 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 
Eobinson, 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 
Oommanders-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 w^arning 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 
afc 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 IG, 1841), when 
the Acting Prefect (Yii 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 Hono-kong 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 Xias (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 


Oovernment, 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 Nerhudda having been wrecked on the Formosau coast 
(September 2G, 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 
a])pealed to the whole nation to rise against the English and 
continue unsparingly the war of extermination (November 15, 
1841). Kisheu 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. Sfconeboats had been scuttled at Howqua's Foll^ 
and in Blenheim Reach, to obstract 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 trooj)S, 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 Nepaulesc 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, 
gnns, 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 
Ohinkiang 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 warHke 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 once 
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 tlie 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 Nanking, 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 Pekino; 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 ; 
(G) 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 ; (D) 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 banking, 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 lefc 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 versa, 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 rakoii iVetre 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 Kobinsons 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 fioverning 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 Koyal 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 
Eoyal 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 Yiceroy 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 Avent 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, Q, T. Braine, W. Thomson, D. L. Burn, and W. P. 
Livingston. After the death of Eleepoo (March 4, 1843), 
Kiying was apjjointed 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 IG, 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 2G, 1843) at Government House 
(then situated ou 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, w^as 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 XTV 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 Suj)plementary 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 80, 1843, for payment at the Treasury 
Chambers, at the following rates, per chest, viz. : Patna, £66 
7s. ly.; Malwa, £G4 lis. '2d.; Benares, £61 lis. 3^^. ; and 
Turkey, £43 3s. bd. This arrangement, based on the average 
l^rices realized in Canton daring 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." 



The Administration of Captain Elliot. 
Jannarij 26 to Aiigicst 10, 1841. 

JpPAVING, 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 EUiot 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 Enteiyrise 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. 

1()4 CHAPTER Xir. 

and in these respects he simply gave to Hongkong the same 
position wliich 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 20, 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, ^vere to be governed, pending Her 
Majesty's further pleasure, according to the laws and customs 
of ChmaT^very 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. Bub 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 edacation, 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 knowa 
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 
IDrovision 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 w^ould 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.^I.S. Modesto, the terms of the- 
Chuenpi Treaty included also the surrender by the Chinese, 
as neutral ground, of 'the peninsula of Kowloon' meaning 


probably only Tsimsbatsui). Mr. Bingbam also states tbat, wben 
fcbe Cbuenpi Treaty was disavowed by tbe Imperial Government, 
it was seized by the British troops * by right of conquest,' a 
garrison being kept in * Fort Victoria* (probably on tbe 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 
MiUtary and Naval Authorities commenced settling at AVest 
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 Dhe 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 Tauka 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 
x>n 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 disinch* nation 
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 held 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 (2Gth Cameronian Regiment) Chief 


Magistrate of the Island of Hongkong to exercise authority, for 
the preservation of the peace and the protection of hfe 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 §400, or imprisonment of over 
8 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, whhich never counted more than a few hundred 
inhabitants, 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 


Caiiton 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'etre 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 
€hiua, 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 laud 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 lith 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, Avere 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 mucli exceeding 
nine acres. The annual payment bid for them was £3,032. 
This amounts to an average of £7 85. C^d. 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 pubHc 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 

174 chaptf.:r xn. 

no more than a nominal quit rent, if that tenure continues to 
chtain^ 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 
Kustomjee ; 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 AVebster ; 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 behalf of 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, 
C foreign ships were totally lost, 4 were driven on shore, 22 


were dismasted or otherwise injured, and the loss of life amono: 
the Chinese boat population was very great. The general 
impression among foreign residents during that dreadful night 
was that ' the last 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, godowos, 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 Pray a, 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 Harboar 
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 Mathcson and J. R. Morrison. Unfortunately, however, 
the Committee neglected to secure payment of the donation. 
On July 29, 1841, H.M.S. Phlerjeton 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 wliat 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.' 


The Administration of Sir Henry Pottinger. 
August 10, 1841, to 3Iaij 8, 1844. 

(i^IR Hemy Pottinger arrived (August 10, 1841) in Macaa 
^g^ 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 Superintendeucy of Trade) 
<loubts, as to the permanency of the British occupation of 
Hongkong, began to vanish, ^ot 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 Depnty 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 
nntil 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. Pottmger as Governor of the Island nntil Sir Henry 
himself assumed the Government of the Colony. 

Abont 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), 
Avith the able assistance of Lieutenant Sargent who acted as land 
surveyor and made the first map of building lots. A small 



.s^ranite Gaol building, on the site now occupied by Victoria 
Oaol, 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 Erifjone (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) Avhich 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 tlie 
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. 

AVithout reference to Elliot's former declarations of the 
freedom of the port, Sir H. Pottinger issued (February C, 1842) 
.a proclamation notifying that, pending the receipt of the Queen's 

182 CHAPTER Xlir. 

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. Elmslie, and J. M. d'Almada e Castro (Clerks), 
Rev. Ch. Giitzlaff 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 labourera 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 Honglcong 
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 Hongkonsr 
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 ^Y. Woosnam, 
and Captain J. Pascoe, w^as 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 w^hich 
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 I'unning 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 ; 
538 cash equal to a rupee; 260 cash equal to a half a rupee; 
and 138 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 

186 CHAPTER xrii. 

be snre 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 12,3f)l 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 Grovernment. 
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 autumn 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, aifected 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 Admiralfcy Jurisdiction, which nominally had 
existed, since the time of Lord Xapier, 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 WilUam 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 (tlune 26, 1843) between Sir H. Pottinger 
and the Chinese Commissioners who had come to Hongkoni^ 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^ 


O. Braine, J. Dent, F. C. DrnmmoDd, D. L. Burn, W. Le 
Oeyb, P. Dndgeon, T. W. L. Mackeau, H. Dundas, C. Kerr, 
J. F. Edger, A. Fletcher, J. A. Gibb, W. P. Livingston, 
^V, Gray, H. R. Parker, J. Holliday, J. Wise, J. A. Mercer, 
P. Stewart, J. White, A. AYilkinson 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 Governnienc 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. Giitzlaff), Rev. 
V. Stanton (Colonial Chaplain), R. Burgass (Legal Adviser), 
A. Anderson (Colonial Surgeon), L. d'Alraada e Castro (Chief 
Clerk), D. Stephen (Book-keeper), Major W. Cainc (Chief 
Magistrate), Ch. B. Hillier (Assistant Magistrate), D. R. 
Caldwell (Interpreter), Lieutenant W. Redder (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 G, 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, 18-43) 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. StanDon, 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 18tli, 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 Shii-iin). 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 2G, 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, 
aud 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 
Koad), 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 ],52(), but, as 7,893 
cases were treated in the hospitals during the same year, it 
appears that on un average e;ich 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 ],52() 
men, or 1 in 3J, the cause of death being fever in 155 cases, 
dysentery in 1S7 cases, diarrhcca 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 aud 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 Goveriunent 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. 


Bat the great grievance of the merchants was that the conditions 
of Captain Elliot's sales of land had not been fnlfilled 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 184o and 1844 by parties who bought 
land without really intending to hold it, atd that such practices 
had been encouraged by negligence on the pare of the Government 
in enforcing the conditions of sale and in collecting the land 
rents. The Colonial Treasurer (R. M. Martin) coiToborated 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 £8,224 per annum, only £041 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 184;> 
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 
bond fide purchasers.' 

Proceeding on the legally correct but historiciilly 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 ij,-i'aiits or sales of land that bad taken 
place previous to tlie exctiautre of the Treaty ratifications sbonld 
be deemed valid, (8) 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 
wiieu the Treaty ratifications were exchanged, and (5) that 
henceforth no Ian:! 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 annuil 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 Avas 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 ab')ut 105. feet square, Avere sold for £2,502 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 N'o. 3 of 1841), which 
provided ready means for tracing all titles to landed property. 
It was laid down by law that thenceforth all deeds, wills, 
conveyances and mortgages 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. AVithin 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 Avisely, 
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 ^2H, 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 reipiire no further definition or 
promulgation. Among six other Ordinances passed on the same 
busy day (Februaii-y 2S, 1844), there was one (No. 2 of 1844^ 
intended to regulate the printing of books and papers and the 
keeping of printing presses, Avhich the community considered 
needless and premature but which remained on the statute book 
until 188G. 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. G 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 10 and two on May 1, 1844, dealing with the illegitimate 
trade with ports North of 32° X. L. (No. 9 of April 10, 1844), 
with the regnlation of snmmary 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 
Glohe 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. 
8ir 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 11), 1844, Lord Stanley pointed 



out that the terms fixed for the disposal of land had evidently 
been no diseonrao'oment to building speculations. There were 
some large floating warehouses in the harbour, notably the 
Hormaiijee Bqmanjee 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 184-4 next to none in Hongkong, 
although the Chinese population continued to incmise 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, 184:5) 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 ctipital 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 (Jovernment 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 Inclia 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, 
inerchants 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 jnnks, to any part of the coast of 
China, so that Hongkong wonkl 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 S, 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 Cliapou 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 2i\ 184o) the successful conclusion of a Sup- 
plementary Commercial Treaty, embodying I'ules and regulations 
for the conduct of trade at the open poits 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, Avhich 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 smugglino- 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 DebaU 
stated later on (Monday, September oO. 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 slip|3ed 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 luillity the establishment of Hongkong, exclude 
tiie Colony from any participntion by transit or coasting trade 
in the commence 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 ihs Debats, 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 vised at every time and on every voyage 


by tlie officers of the Chinese Custom-house in order to avoid 
contravention.' Article XVII. ' Both (vessels from Honsfkont^ 
of under 75 or ir)U 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 abi-oad and, following the new tariff, shall pay 
five mace ])er ton. As to Foochow, Amoy, Xingpo 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 dps Debafs, 'coincide and link together with a degi'ce 
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 Ifehats, 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 i\\Q Friend of China {k'^vW 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 nej]^ative 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 avei-sion 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 

202 CHAPTER Xlir. 

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 Honsfkong 
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 failu?"e 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 antp. and in omitting to 
secure for Chinese subjects residing in Hong^kong freedom to 
trade (in Chinese bottoms at least) with the whole of China. Tt 
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 Hongkonc!: and Canton waters, but his 
elTorts were neutralized by corruption on the Chinese side and 
resulted only in further measures militating- against the freedom 
of the ix)rt. For no other reason did the Canton Authorities 
condescend to co-operate with Sir Henry in this matter, but 
because it enabled them to pei-suade 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 20, 184o), three mercantile houses (Dent's, 
Jardine's, Gillespie's) were attacked in one and the same night 
(April 28, 184o), the Morrison Institution was plundered by 
robbers who carried off the Chief Superintendent's Great Seal 
(May H), 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 £00 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 fm- 
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 

204 CHAPTKR Xlir. 

Indian soldiers of whom the corps was made up were helpless, 
in their ignorance of the native language, withont the assistance 
of Chinese constables, and as the latter Avere of the lowest 
order, this establishment of a Colonial police made things rather 
worse. An order was also issned (May 10, 1843) that no boat 
on the harbour should leave its moorings after 9 p.m. and 
that, on shore, Chinese should cany 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 
liis 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, botli by facihties 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 Canton 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, Avhilst srivino: 
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; (G) 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 role 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 
Koad, appointed a ridiculous corps of 44 Magistrates; (0) 
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 ^\ inter 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 cominnuity (prevailingly British, but intersj^ersed 
with a few German, American, Dutch, French and Italian 


merchants), now became the pivot of the social h'fe of the 
Oolony, 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 ^lajesty's Army and 
Navy. Major-General Lord Saltonn (since November 3, 1842) 
made himself popular as President of the local Madrii^jal Society, 
Major-General D'Ao;uilar and his staff rapidly became and 
liontinued to be (for a short time) the favourites of the whole 
<jommnnity. Even Commodore Parker (since June 22, 1843), of 
the U.8. Frigate Branihjiclne^ and his officers (in 1843 and 1844) 
vied with Rear- Admiral Sir Tli. Cochrane (since June 11), 1842) 
and the officers of H.M.S. Af/inrourt in reciprocating the social 
entente cordial e which reigned eveiy where in the Colony, outside 
of Government House and Government Offices. A theatrical 
company from Australia enlivened the wintei* evenings of 1842. 
A slightly better company (Signer 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 tiie 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 (Noveml)er 7, 1843). The birth of 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 tliere 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 20, 
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 ], 
1844) the ' Waterloo ' (Lopes) and the ' Commercial Inn ' 

With the commencement of tlie 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 Ilongk-ong 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, 184J:) 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 RefjiMer had assumed the role of 
the prophet and uttered the following diresume 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 



deliberutely livintr in seclusion amon^: a few adoring parasites 
whose limited intellects were devoted to pander to the ^reat 
man's vanity.' Exag2:erative 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 185G, but 67 years old, at Malta. 



The Administration op Sir John F. Davis. 
May 8, 1844, to March 18, 1848. 

'WT has been pointed out above -svliat 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 
^nd 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, 184.5, Sir) John 
Francis Davis, Baronet, had indeed great experience of Chinese 
•affairs. In his youth (181G 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 Chiuese 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 aud even less of Chinese. Bnt 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 natnrally bound to briug 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 sjion 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 


"(Coloiiial Secretary) and M. Martin (Colonial Treasurer) assisted 
at the memorable interview. But Kiyino- 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 11), 1852), ' inflicted a 
deep wound upon the pride, but by no means altered the policy, of 
the Chinese Govei-nment.' 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 IG, 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 jimk, 
heavily armed and manned by a crew of 70 ruffians, but 
having no clearance papers as required by Article XIV qf the 
Snppleraentary 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 liarbour. 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 papei's 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 Avlien 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 miscliievous provisions of which were condemned 
by Her Majesty's Government as much as by the community, 
Sir John had another interview witli Kiying at the Bogue (April, 
184G) but failed again to get any concession in favour of the 
Chinese trade of Hongkong. Nor did he succeed to wring 
from tliat 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 2G, 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 actuallj 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, 18-44, it was accidentally discovered that officers of the 
San-oa District Magistrate openly collected at Stanley, as they 
bad 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 illtreated by a Canton mob in October, 184G. Sir 
John, as usual, instead of claiming redress at the hands of the 
Cantonese Authorities, 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 sliall 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 


i\m\ p'.'e'vent such oiitragas, the British Government will be 
obliged to take the matter into their own hands.' 

On receipt of this dispatcli Sir John Davis lost his head 
completely. He thonght he had an oppartnnity now to steal 
a march npon tiie Chinese Anthorities, to take them by surprise, 
to occnpy Canton city by a sudden descent upon it with an 
armed force, and then to dictate his own terms as a triumphant 
conqueror. He c )nsulted 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 Esjmgle) 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 forDs 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 
tiemands and next day informed by an ultimatum that, unless 
these were granted at the interview for which he fixed the 
Oth 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 
€mpty 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 fnither offered to open Canton city to 


foi'ei\i>:ners on or about April G, 1849, if ifc 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 arraiig-ements 
for an attack. But Sir John at once accepted the terms, tbougli 
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 
'biiciineering 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 Diivis 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, meditated another military expedition against 
Canton, and induced Major-Oeneral 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 t-emper 
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 95tli Kegiment, 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 ai'range 
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 tlie officials on the coast near Hueh. 
Every Annamese officer appealed to refused to take any message. 
Leaving a letter addressed to the sovereign of Annain deposited 
on the beach, he at last received a message by subordinate 
officials, declining all negotiation and refusing admittance to 
Hueh. 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. 
Accordinirly 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 tliat 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, 1840), 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 Marchj 1847, 
the prospects of ^lacao were as discouraging as those of 
Hongkong and a cession of ^lacao to France was talked of, but 
the movement, if it ever had any reality, came to nothing. 


Tnrniug now to ^Iv- J. Davis' o-nbernatorial measures, we 
find tliafc the expansion of the Civil Sei'vice 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. 1). 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, 1814, was gradually perfected by a series of legislative 
enactments, dealing with the constitution of the Court (Xo. 6 
of 1845 and 2 of 184G), trial by jury (N"o. 7 of 1845), criminal 
procedure (Xo. 8 of ]845 and (J of 181G), summary jurisdiction 
(No. 9 of 1845), insolvency (No. o and 5 of 184G) and coroner's 
juries (N'o, 5 of 1847). A Vice- Admiralty Court was established 
(March 4, 1840) 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 
Avas considerably relieved. Owing to the dearth and high rents 
of houses suitable for Civil Servants, the Government jjrovided 


(Aug'usfc IG, 1844) special Civil Service Buildino^s (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. ^y. Pedder's absence on leave, temporarily discharged by 
Mr. S. Fearon, whilst Mr. A. Lena ai;ted 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 V)y 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. AVarrants 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, 184G) 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, 1840) 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 commencJed with 
the knotty problem of regulating the Chinese population. The 
humble attempt to control the Chinese in Hongkong quietly 


by means of fcheir 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 cure 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 
n registry of all the inhabitants of Hongkong without distinction 
of nationality. Neither the European nor the Chinese mercantile 
communities w^ere consulted in the matter, nor w^as 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 np to the startling discovery that a poll-tax w^as 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 Frimd 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 oOth 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 nnjust 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, whidh 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 tliat it wonld 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 th'e 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 formatiofi of a Chamber of Commerce 
was suggested. But a threat was also expressed that British 
merchants might return to Macao where, under a foreign 
flag, they would not be subjected to law^s 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 jnunicipal 
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 usel 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 Hheir 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 
ithe 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, 
mid 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 
Oovernment 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 (IG of 1844), applying 
registration only to the lowest classes, abandoning the idea of 
iiny 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 uranted all that the British connnunity 
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, 
1840, it was possible to modify it (No. 7 of 1810) 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 bis Martial Law Ordinance (20 of 1844) wbicli 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 
sinologae 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 
i\ 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 Manchus 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 
ire-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 184;")) 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 w^ith 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, 
lb was nob merely an unwise disregard of bhe sound principle 
formulated by Gladstone, that 'England never makes laws to 
benefit the internal condition of any other State*; it was nob 
merely a drastic denial of the world-wide assumpbion bhab Bribish 
soil is a safe refuge from polibical byranny and oppression ; bub 
ib was also a positive assertion, in the face of all China, bhab 
Hongkong Governors would pledge bhemselves bo co-operabe wibh 
bhe Manchu conquerors of China in arresbing, imprisoning^ 
branding on bhe cheek (as bhe life-long mark of bhe oublaw) 
and delivering inbo bhe hands of Mandarins for execubion any 
hapless Chinese pabriot bhab should be fool enough bo pub his 
foob on Bribish soil. By order of bhe Home Governmenb bhis 
barbaric Ordinance (No. 1 of 1845) was modified nine monbhs 
laber (Ocbober 20, 1845) by subsbibubing, in an amendmenb 
(No. 12 of 1845), branding under bhe arm for bhab mark on 
bhe cheek which would have made reform even in bhe case of 
a criminal absolutely impossible. 

Nob quibe so bad, bub based on an equal ignorance of bhe 
ubber 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 
that the Acts of Parliament for the abolition of 




slave trade and s'aveiy 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 11), 184;'), and May 6, 1840) 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. Hilh'er) who 
supposed themselves to be rather executive officers nnder 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 
<T!overnor 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, 1840) 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. Yowifj Hehe) were, wlien tried at Macao, found not 
guilty in the suit (a civil one) Avhich they had sought to post- 
pone by coming to Hongkong. A similar case occurred soon 
after (October 23, IS-AG), 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, brouglit 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, 184t>) to 
overturn a huckster's stall, obstructing one of the Factory lanes,. 
and two days afterwards he j^ushed a coolie out of his way, 
telling Consul Macgi'egor, who was close by, that he had done- 
so. On July 8, 1840, 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, 
1840, a local paper published a dispatch by Sir J. Davis to 
Kiying, in which Mr. Compton was refen-ed 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 Hulrae tried the case, and, on giving judgment in favour 
of appellant, pronounced the sentence of the Consul (/.^. the 
ilecision of Sir John Davis) as 'unjust, excessive and illegal' 


and as 'evincinpj a total disrec^ard for all forms of law and for 
law itself/ Moreover, the Chief Justice added that 'in this 
first Consular appeal (;ase 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, 1<S-1(), a typical case was 
ti'ied 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 actempted 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 melee 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 ^la<:istrate. 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 trutli 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, 184(;) 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 ])ractice of the 
Magistrates had often been complained of by the public, and 

232 CHAPTEll XIV. 

the Chief Justice now severely reprimanded the Mag-istrate 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 senten(;e 
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 havins^ 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 IG, 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 



Oonncil on cerfcaiii chavo-es of private misconduct winch, it 
appeared, Sir John Davis had detailed in a confidential com- 
munication to Lord Palmerston. The latter, disregardino- 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 conmiunity (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. U'E. Parker, R. Coley, W. Gaskell, 
P. C. McSwyney, and E. Farncombe) presented to the Chief 
Justice (November 25. 181:7) an addre^js denouncing the 
Governor's action as an 'attack of enmity,' and a gold snuff- 
box bearing the inscription iiidignante invidia florehit Justus. 
Later on (November 30, 1847) the community presented a 
sympatliizing 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 Avhole 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 tlie ascendancy. 
On the day when Sir John announced his fatal intention of 
extending registration to all the inlmbitants of the Colony in 
the interest of good order (July 24, 1841), be 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 2J 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 ^reat 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, 1840). 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. Xot 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 Ixien disposed of (thanks to the gambling 
mania Avhich 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 frovernment the opium farm as being 'the most 
productive source of revenue and one that should increase with, 
the pi'ogress of the place.' 

When the Legislative Council passed the first Hongkong 
Opium Ordinance (November 20, 1844), the Colonial Treasurer, 
R. M. iVIartin, 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 
lie 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 
w^ho, 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 
w^as thereupon amended (July 12, 1845) and the opium farm 
put up to auction again (August 1, ]845) when it was bought 
by a Chinese syndicate for $1,710 a monih. Xext year, a 
re-sale having been offered (May 24, 184(5), further powers 
were demanded by the farmers ; the monopoly was once more 
offered for sale (June 30, 184G), but no bids were made to 
■obtain further concessions. At last the farm was sold (July 2, 
1846) at the reduced rate of J;1,5G0 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 (Jaimary 27, 1847) for the abolition 
of the opium monopoly. The Governor hesitated and substituted 
Hcences for this troublesome opium farm (August 1, 1847) 
after it had yielded £4,118 in 184G, and £3,188 in 1847. It 
is remarkable that this first experiment in opium 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 £0,534 in 1844, to £22,242 in 1845. 
The opium farm caused the revenue of 184G 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. AVith 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 
fcliey 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 ei!icient 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 coramunit-y 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. Bo wring, 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 '2'6 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 C!*ews of the gunboats 
under the orders of the Canton revenue farmers. Hence 
th^ 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 fleets made Hongkong their 
headquarters, where native marine-stoi'ekeepers 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, 184G) 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 saile.I 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 appeared 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 monopoHsts of 
the sulphur trade, took refuge at Kapsingmoon near Macao. The 
Kapsingmoon anchorage being unsafe during the N.E. monsoon,, 
the Hongkong merchants w^ere 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 pubUcly 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 ^o 
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) advocating the imposition of a 


differential duty of twojxince 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, 
1840). Lord Stanley emphatically refused (September 4, 1846) 
to entertain the proposal of a differential duty. As a last refuge, 
the community addressed (February 27, 18-18) 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 teruis of the leases or even to grant 
them in perj^xituity. 

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 0, 184G) published an exhaustive trade 
report from the pen of Dr. GUtzlaff, intended to refute the 
allegations of the local merchants, who, however, disputed the 
correctness of Dr. Giitzlaff's statistics. This official report 
contains a rather remarkable admission of the failure of Sir 



H. Potting^er's commercjijl policy, in statino^ 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 G, 1846, the 
Times ofave expression to the melancholy views of the European 
community in the following words. * Hongkong has quite lost 
t'aste 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 
tibout following their example or at most of leaving a clerk 
in possession to forward goods or letters.' The climax was 
reached when an Ameri(;an contributor to the Economist (August 
^, 184G) 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. AVliile 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 '• IleswY/am.' 

As regards the native trade of Hongkong, there were 
distinct signs visible in 184(; of a speedy revival. Junks from 
Pakhoi, HoihoAv and Tinpak, in the south-west, commenced 
in 1840 a prosperous trade w^ith 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 mfans 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 


Britisli rule and protection without forfeiting their privileges 
:iis natives of China. Canton native merchants now took to 
visiting the auction rooms of Hongkong and began, for fear 
of pirates, to cliarter small European sailing vessels (mostly 
Oerman 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 
Enroix?an commerce of the Colony. 

Communication with Canton was at this period a source 
of much trouble to Britisli merchants. Endeavours w^hich 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 lino 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. 
l\\ 1847 the Postmaster insisted on the steamer's carrying '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 
(Jovenior 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 rnpecs in relation to dollars and cash (Marcli 
29, 1842) and declared the dollar to be the standard medium 
ill 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 followiug; 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 
20s. 2d., (3) Spanish, Mexican or South- American dollars at 
4s. 2d., (4) rupees at Is. 10^?., (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 atfect 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 184G 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 ^5G,00O 
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 tlie United States, Mr. J. Bard (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 20, 1845) enforcino- u modicum of order and cleanliness. 
The deadly Wongnaichunu- Valley (Happy Valley) was drained 
(April 23, 1845) and the cultivation of rice there forbidden. 
Otherwise sanitation and cleanliness were loft 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 i-f^te of the whole population in 1847 as 1*14 per cent, 
and that of the Europeans alone (June 1, 1847, to May 31, 1848) 
at 5*65 per cent., not including deaths from accidents which 
brought up the mortality of Europeans to 0'25 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 DWguilar 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 iu 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 >Vorks 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, 184G. Great was, 
therefore, the indignation felt in Hongkong when it became 
known, through a private letter of Mr. Gladstone (of June 27, 
184{i), 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 witliout 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, 
*The corner stone of this Church, dedicated to St. John the 
Evangelist, and destined for the worship of Almighty God, 
was laid by liord 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 GoN'ernment. 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 Holly Avood Road, in spring 1845, by 
means of a public subscription raised (September 1), 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 cliapel was erected, in 1845, 
in the new cemetery in the Happy Valley. 


III addition to the three Anglo-Chinese Schools (the Morrison 
Institution on Morrison Hill, the Ang-lo-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 1<S47. 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 G, 1847), consisting of the Police Magistrate, the 
Colonial Chaplain and the Registrar General. That Sir J. Davis 
was to some extent a relfgious 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.' Sain'ta simpUritaji ! 

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 J 8, 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 2Q), 
establishment of a, ]\ledico-Chirurgical Society (May ' 13), 
oroanisation 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 2G, 184G, in a stately building erected, 
opposite the new Court House, at a cost of £15,000 by 
(t. 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 foi'eigners 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 and 
Macao. Ac 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 1840 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 l)5th 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 landatory 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 Xaval 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 sahites 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 pei*sonal demeanour and disposition,' and, 
with sarcastic allusion to the Governor's fondness for the Latin 
tongue, closed its valedictory oration with this caustic farewell, 
* Exi^ mi fill, et vide qunm minima sapientia munrlus Im re/jitur ' / 

Conscious, no donbt, 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 i-eturn 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) 
ito 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 Hongl^ong would be the Cartilage 
of the East, that its population would equal that of ancient 
Rome, and that commercially Hongkont? 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 ta 
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 serious and weighty 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, wiiilst 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 turit 
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 fofo. *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 
Ave 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; 


npou the Government the acceptance of the followint^ positive 
recommendations, viz. (I) that regular post-office communication 
by steamboats be established from Hong-kong to Canton and 
morthern 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 gov^ernment, to the 
British residents ; and (G) that facilities be given in Hongkong 
for the acquisition of the Chinese language and encouragement 
to Schools for the Chinese. 

N"o one ever discerned with greater clearness Hongkong's true 
path to higher destinies, than tliis 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 

z^H' T~^~ * ^ 


The xIdministration of Sir Sa^iuel George Bonham. 
iMarch 20, 1848, to Ajml 12, 1854. 

■OR some months before the departure of Sir J. Davis, the 

V^ European community of Hongkoug- 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, castino- 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 Coniman- 
"der-in-chief of the Colony of Hon<^kong 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. Giitzlaff, 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 
Ohinese matters. 

Like his predecessors, Sir G. Bonham had to leave Hongkonp^ 
-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 
twelv^e mouths' leave to recruit health by a visit to England 
(on which occasion the community presented him with a 
laudatory farewell address) but w^as 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 
sthe way in which he conducted the affairs of the Colony. When 
he left Hongkong, the community presented him (April 7, 1854) 
Avitli an address testifying to the great respect and esteeui 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 ieiiens 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 Cunlia (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 Xaval Officer, Captain 
H. Keppel, who (June 7, 1849) landed at Macao, with Captain 
Trou bridge and 115 men of H.M.S. Maea?ider, and rescued from 
the Portnguese gaol-guard a British prisoner by an act of force 
which unfortunately involved the death of one Portuguese soldier 
-find 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 Ckristi 
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 bo 
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, 1841)) by 
hired Chinese assassins, and by the equally sudden death through 
■cholera (not poison) of his successor, Commodore da Cunha 
(July (), 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 stubborulj 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 Sen 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 Sen (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 Sen a reluctant consent 
to an interview (February 17, 18-19) on board H.M.S. Hastings 
near the Bogue, Sen 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 G, 1849, the right of entering Canton city. When 
Sir G. Bonham in repeated dispatches insisted upon the 
immediate opening of Canton city, Sen 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, 1840) tlie 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, 1840) 
that 'the Chinese Government has dechned to carry into effect 
the stipulation entered into by Kiying on April (>, 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 hterati of Canton 
wantonly threatened but wisely refrained from in the pi-esence 
of a British gunboat. That Sir G. Bonham, in resorting to 
the waiting game he j^layed 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 


nnd Pekinjr. Circmiistunces, however, prevented his reaching 
Tientshi and c()in[Xilled him to rest satisfied with tlie forwardinp^ 
of a dispntcli to the Emperor's advisers bv the hands of 
Mr. Medhiirst. Altliong-li no tangible result was obtained, 
H.M. Government marked their sense of .Sir G. Botdiam's 
<h'screet diplomacy by promotino^ him (November 22, IHriO) from 
the third to the second rank of tlie Order of the Bath (f\.O.B.) 
and bestowed on him at the same time a baronetcy. 

Thoiiuh highly thought of, Sir G. Bonham was not always 
victorious with his representations to the Foreign (Jffice. Being, 
like most common-sense Europeans in China, of opinion that 
the close attention indispensable for a successful sf^udy of the 
Ohinese 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 C;inton (autumn, ISoo), there ensued what 
was thenceforth called 'the Battle of the Interpreters.' In this 
battle Sir Geoi'ge was worsted. Sir Harry Parkes' case was 
indeed an exceptional one. He had just gained special kudos 
iis an uncommonly shrewd man by his prudent dealing with 
the fracas which occurred at Canton (Mai-ch, 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 ab 
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 thg Canton province, broke out 
iu 1850 in the adjoining province of Kwangsi, under the 


leadership of a Telio^ious fanatic, Hung Sin-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 
ithe adherents of Hung Siu-tsuen commenced, in ]8r)2, their 
-devastating march thrcugli the central provinces of China and 
established, in 1853, the short-lived Taiping Dynasty at Nanking, 
the Triad societies ' hinds 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 emigrf\tion 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 
^■hinese embarked in Hongkong in the year 1852, paying in 
Hongkong, in passnge 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 neiiti-ality, 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 cassation of trade. Sir G. Bonham therefore 
took the bold step of proceeding (April, 1853) to the 
hend(iuarters 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 Nan kino- 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 solicitino- attention to the fact that 



rfclic Colonial Office bad, 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 1H47, and stating- that the expenditure of the 
Colony should not in any <>rcat degree be thrown on local 
commerce; that a system of municipal government of ordinary 
and local affairs ought to bo 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 
wei'e unduly heavy. There is no record shewing that this 
Petition was ever presented to Parliament. Sir (icorgc, however, 
forwarded (January 30, 1841)) 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 (Xovember o, 1840). 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, 
Imt that he thought it bettor 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 Gth December, 1849, and 
Messrs. David Jardine and 'J. F. Edger were nominated as the 
first non-official Membei-s of the Legislative Council. Tlie fact 
that their election had to be approved by the Colonial Office 
nnd that they could not be sworn in until the Queen's warrants 
<irrived (Juno 14, lHr)0), did not detract from the general rejoicing- 
over this first step gained in the direction of representative 

At that same conference (November 3, 1840) 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 
i3ombay municipality) that 'men of standing, engaged in their 

262 CHAPTEll Xy. 

own absorbing pursuits would possess neither time nor inclinatioiv 
to devote to the interests of the pubHc' However, he requested' 
the fifteen Justices of his selection to consult on the organisation' 
of a 'Municipal Committee of Police Connnissiouers.' The 
Justices thereupon passed, at their meetino- of Gth December,. 
1840, 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 £:),000 or 4,000 raised from licences and 
rents, should, with the police assessments, l)e applicable, as far as 
may be required, for municipal purposes. If the Justices had 
l)een satisfied to begin, in a small way, as a mere Committee 
of Police Commissioners, looking to future improvement of the- 
revenue to pi'ovide the means for extending the scope of their 
functions. Hongkong would not have remained for fifty years, 
longer without nninicipal government. As it was, they demanded'- 
a full-blown Municipal Council under impossible financial: 
conditions. Governor Bonham, earnestly desiring to meet the- 
wishes of tlie community as far as possible, made later on some 
fresh propositions (January 10, 18r)l). 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 ])olice tax. He further proposed to- 
hand over to this Committee the manngement 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 Parlitiinentary rants on which the 
community meant to lean foi' ever. To reconcile these conflictin«»- 
purposes was impossible. A breacli in the Governor's ^ood 
relations with the community seemed inevital)le. The virulent 
odium which Sir J. Duvis had incurred tlireatened to overwhelm 
Sir G. Bonham also. What saved his policy and popularity 
from shipwreck, was his persistent habit of takinj^ the leaders 
of the community into his confidence, (»f 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 ])rograinine 
sketched out by the Parliamentary Conunittee of l^\7. That 
protrramine 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 
trented them as a sincere friend. In their replies (January 31 
and March, 1, 18^1) 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 s:nall and composed of too untrustworthy and 
ill-paid material. Addison would have said of the points in 
disjuite that much might be said on both sides. The discussion 
closed with the Governor's declaration (^larch IT), 18.')1) 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 view§ 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 
£28.509 local revenue (apart from the Parliamentary Grant) 
and £02,808 expenditure, a local paper summed up the position 
■of affairs by sayin'^:, '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 
Parliaujentary (rrant 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 tased in 
the same way as are the Settlements in the Straits under the 
government of the P^ast 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 upwai'ds 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. Bonbam 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 orranite which wa^ at the time laro-ely used as ballast for 
tea ships. He shrank from reviving the opium monopoly, but 
stimulated 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 reduc3d the expensive European 
contingent of the Police Force to the lowest possible minimum. 
Finally he restricted public works (with tlie 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 ii23,C72 on the expenditure 
of the preceding year. He thenceforth maintained this low 
rate of expenditure (£:?8,98(; in 1849) which averaged £84,898 
|Xir annum during the next three years and rose in 18^8 to no 
more than £80,4 18. He was unable, indeed, to bring about any 
great improvement of the local revenue, which, though it rose 
temporarily, by the rigorous exaction of arreai's of land rent in 
1849, to £35,580, fell again to £28,520 in 1850, and produced 
during the next three yeai*s (1851 to 1853) an annual average 
of £28,254. 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 1858, and that he had reduced the expenditure of 
the Colony, within six years, from £02,058 to £30,418. 

During h period of such financial difficulties, the vexed 
question of land tenure co:ild 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 ])utting 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 crowa rents to a maximnm commeiisiirate 
with inflated values. But this maximum, which at the time of sale 
seeme>l 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 IN'ovember 3, 
1849, that 'any general re.luction in the ground rents would be 
immediately followed up by the Home Government with the 
imposition of s mie <:eneral scheme of excise or assessment which 
would be found much more oppressive and vexatious, besides 
requii'ing 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 oppi'essive, 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, tlie 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 U. Bonham published, in January, 
1840, with a \'iew 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 stronoly. Nevertheless, 
the (iovernor deemed it prudent to shelve the question, while 
weightier matters jn'essed 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 Govei-nment 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 pro\ide 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 opi)osition paper went so far as to 
impute to' Sir G. Bonham the intention of eventually abolishing 


the costly Supreme Courfc jiltog-e'her by the appointment of civil 
officers combiniiicr judicial and administi-ative functions under 
a system of plnndity 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 consideral)ly in giving effect to another suggestion 
of the Parliamentary Committee of 1847 by yuiblishing, 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, ]8r)l, the 
Chief JLustice having stated that lie was greatly afraid that 
fully half the cases adjudi(;ated 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 ?>], 1848), and 
a Marriage Ordinance (March lO, 18.')2) 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 its legal enactments. The strained 
relations which formerly existed between the Governor and Chief 
Justice Hulme (who was restored to office on June 10, 1848) 
were ended. But the Chief Justice's relations with Governor 
Bonham, though never unfriendly, were not marked by cordiality. 
i\.raong 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 ben(;h, to 



his safcisfcictory administration of the law under j^erplexing- 
difficulties, and to his undeviating- impartiality and uprightness. 
During the first two jears of Sir G. Boiibam's adminis- 
tration, crime was still rife in tlie Colony, 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, 
074 in 1850, fell during the next two years to an avera*ge 
of 505 cases per annnm, and was reduced in ]853 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. Camhrian^ and some jiuiks (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 
bad 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 engao^ements (September 
28 to October 3, 1840), Cunimander J. C. Dalrymplc Hay, 
with H.M. Ships Columbine, Fury, and Medea, destroyed the 
^entire fleet of Chui Apon, consisting of 23 jnnks, 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 II) to 22, 1849), Commander Hay, having 
under his orders H.M. Ships PIdegeton, Fury, Columhlue, 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. 3Iedea 
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. Battler. Xevertheless, 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 Aj^car, by the Chinese crew. 


The Government was almost helpless in the matter of piracy. 
♦Sir G. Bonham did what ho could to organize a detective 
department and appointed for this purpose the best colloquial 
linguist Hongkong ever possessed, >lr. D. R. Caldwell, as 
Assistant-Superintendent of Police (September 1, 1848). His 
services were highly effective, particalary 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 
<;onsiderations 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 tlie Colony had been improving in 
■every respect, and contentment prevaile;! throughout the entire 
population, the only subject of regret was the extent to which 
jjiracy prevailed in the neighbouring waters. 'To suppress it,» 
he added, 'is impossible without the co-operation of the (vhinese 
Govennncnt. 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 1840 it rose to 29,507 and by the year 1853 it 
numbered :>9,017 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 tlie 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 

272 ' CHAPTER XV. 

discovery of the Califoriiian gold-fields, from the developmerit 
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 10 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 prosecuted her captain 
and crew in the Consular Court at Shanghai on a charge of 
piracy, for having fired into junks which were mistaken ffor 
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 toAV of British merchant vessels have a risfht 
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 conner^t Hon^konof 
with San Francisco. It commenced (July, 1849) with large 
orders for slop clothes and wooden houses (shipped in frame) 
which wTre made in Hongkong. Next, Chinese artizans w^ere 
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 1841). 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 ()16,-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 Gniana 
commenced in 1853 under the direction of Mr. J. Gardiner 
Austin, the Immigration Agent-General of the Government of 
British Guiana. Emigration to Australia commencad 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, banishei 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 1840) 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'etre 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 1830, now legalised its importation in 1853 on purely financial 
grounds. In 1831) 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. Bub whatever treatment 
fchey 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 luiblished 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, Avhich 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, Hhat 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 tlie terms of the lease.' As the Colonial Treasurer 
refused the Queen's sovereigns, which about tliis time had been 
declared by the Lords of the Treasury to be a legal discharge 
for the sums they represented ' throughout Her ^lajesty'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. Xeave 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. 
Tn 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, tlie commercial prospects of the Colony were 
•certainly extending and assiimino; a character of greater 
permanency. AVhen (in snmmer 1850) the great firms in India 
were prostrated one after the other, the China firms dealing 
with India bore the shock firmly with bnt one exception. 

But it took years before Hongkong's commercial reputation 
was rehabilitated in England. The Economist, which had 
mah'gned 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, whicli had ah'eady 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 jirincipal contributors. The only 
•exhibits representing Hongkong in that fair temple of the world's 
commercial competition at Hyde Park consisted of a tiny 
l)agoda, 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 
Commissionei-s 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 Cr. 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 montlis of excessive heat, 
fever decimated the garrison to an alarming deoree. The same 
epidemic recurred among the garrison in July and August, 1850, 
wlien 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 (though 
many moi*e 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 
umisually prolonged winter of 1840 to 1850, an epidemic, having 
all the appearances of the plague (black death) which devastated 
London in 10(55, 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 th& 
garrison of Hongkong, it broke out among the Chinese population. 
It was then ascribed to long continued dronght. 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 fe^'er 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 Honukong 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 sanatoriuins. 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 anniversaiy 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 obsei'ved emblazoned over the forte cochere. 
The indignant community assumed, probably without good 
grounds, that this a])parent 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 
rdise 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 Lord Bishop of Victoria. 
For letters patent had meanwhile been issued (May 11, 1849) 

280 :CH AFTER XV. 

declaring tlie Colony to be tbe 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 £ {5,000 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, 1840) 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, C. Smith, 
who consecrated the new cathedral in September, 1850, a period 
of increased missionary and educational activity set in, for Bisliop 
Smith possessed stimulating energy and looked upon the whole 
of (^hina, 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 mnch 
of the Bishop's time. For the benefit of seamen passing through 
Hongkong, the lorcha Awie was converted into a floating Bethel 
ill 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. Snmmers (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 
he said of Dr. Legge's Anulo-Chinese College which also failed 


to produce any native preacher or teacher but trained some 
-eminent English-spealving 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 
^t 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. Giitzlaff's 
Chinese Union of native colporteure, which had for many years 
made a greater stir in Europe than in China, ended in October 
1849, during the temporary absence of Dr. Giitzlaff, 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, lHi)0. 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 th« progress of Christianity and civilization in China.* 
The Poman 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 
iind Government offices with Portuguese clerks. The Chinese 


popiilafcion, 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 I'ose 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 Fel)ruary), and tlie growing popularity of the Masonic 
fraternity (which gave its first ball on February ], ]853), 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 ipterconnected 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 95tli 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 (1. 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 Avith 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. Giitzlaff 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. Bouham 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 futnre 
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 i^eriod. A storm of unusual violence, 
the severest since 1841, swept over Hongkong on xVugust 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 Eng-iiieers 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. & 0. Company's godowns in 
the West, were entirely destroyed and thirty lives lost. Liberal 
aid was afforded by Governor Bonbam 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 (xA^pril, 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. Giitzlaff 
(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 Avas 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 bis merits were not wanting. The Hongkong 
public man is nothing if not severely critical. A small opposition 
party in the Colony, whilst folly 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 
(.xovernor'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 Bonbam 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 18G3, leaving his greatness 
to appeal to the future for the recognition it deserves. 


A Brief Survey. 
A.D. 1634 to 1854. 

IPpHE period ^povered by the administration of Sir G. Bonhani 
g^ clearly marks, when compared with the preceding epochs, 
a turning point in the history of Hongkong. The reader wha 
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 w^as 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 xAnglo-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-cbiiis and Taii-ka people weary of the yoke of 
maudai'iiidom, as well as the Chinese Emperoi' 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 witbin 
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 stoi'e 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 twa 
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 establisliing 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. 1034 between Europe and Asia on terms so 
humiliatins: for the former, was bound to result in a temporary 
divorce. That divorce was solemnly and emphatically pro- 
nounced, thoug-h 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 
n 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 liistory 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, wM'th 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. 


Ifc appears then from this point of view that the Colony 
of Hongkong, the offspring of a union batween 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. Bonliam, 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 EHiot, he seems' to have recognized 
or at any rate acted upon the following principles — (1) that 
Hongkong nmst 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 vis a vis Chinese mandarindom ; 
(o) that the settlement on Hongkong must be treated rather 
as a station for the protection of British trade in the Far East 
in general tlian as a Colony in the ordinary sense of the word, 
that is to say that Hongkong is in truth neither a mere Crown 
Colony ac(]uired by war nor a Colony formed by productive 
settlement; (4) that the Colony of Hongkong can be made 
to prosper only by keepins: 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 amove 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 pri^jciples established by Captain EUiot. Sir 
H. Pottinger thought so highly of Chinese officials and so badly 
of British merchants that, for very fear of furthering the 
interests of opium 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 Elliot. 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 cring'ino- 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 
oarly 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 
<.Miinese, but brought the settlement to the verge of commercial 
and financial ruin and dehvered 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 
tinder which the East India Company and the British free 
'traders ever groaned whilst located at Canton. AVliat staved off 
the impending ruin was a reversion to the principles of Elliot. 

The foregoing remarks mav 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 
<n'iginal establishment of the Colony. Those principles, discarded 
foi* a while by Sir H. Pottinger and Sir J. Davis to the Colony's 
manifest injury, were re-introduced by Sir G. Bonham who 
<onformed 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 tliat 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. Bonbam 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. 

AVhat constitutes, therefore, the close of Sir Cr. 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 tbis 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 y6t, 
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, w^as 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 civihzation 
and government and make Hongkong for all times the bulwark 
of the cause of Europe in the East. 


The Administration of Sir John Bowring. 
April IS, 1854, to May 5, 1859. 

tURING 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, thac 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 


Oil snbsoinenfc 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 Liter arum Hiimaniorum, 
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 
^ 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 poUcy 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. Bowrincr, instead of 
resuming his duties at Canton, went on furlousrh (February 16, 
1853) and returned by way of Java to England. There he 
securei 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, 
lie 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. 
AV. 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) 

298 CHAPTER XV ir. 

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 forwai-ded 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 Sihylle, 
Hornet, and Bittern, having discovered five Russian vessels in 
hidisg 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. 
Barracoutci 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, liaving been chartered to convey the Russians from Simoda 
to Ayeii 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 2G, 185G). All the ships in harbour were 
dressed in their gayest, salutes were fired, and thanksgiving 
services were held in Union Church (July 2, 185G) 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 (xVpril 5, 185G) 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 Hongkoug (by Sir H. Robinson) as a Cadet scheme. lb 
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 j^resented 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 Groin' ngen, 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 foi'th 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 10, 1854) in H.M.S. Rattler for Shanghai, 
in company Avith 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. Powliattan, 
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 Mim'sters here 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 Ministera 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, 185G), 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 tbe 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 (So. 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 fitigs and the manufacture 
and sale of arms and ammunition. Since September, 1854, 
there wiis 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 Imperialisb 
soldiers, arrived and anchored west of the Lower Bazaar whilst 
a large number of Taiping war-junks were lying close to the 
Hospital-ship Jll/ide/i. After mucli delay, however, both parties 
were ordered off and peacefully departed in different directions. 


The Taipiag fleet refcurnecl to Hongkong in September, 185G,, 
when Hung Sen-tsung addressed a letter to the Governor, stating 
thaD lie had been commissioned by the Taiping Emperor to 
reduce the Kwangtnng province, and asking for permission ta 
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 Tai pings did not induce the Manchu Government to relax 
its anti-European policy in the slightest degree. Eepeatedly 
did Sir John hint to the Canton Viceroy how valuable the 
friendsliip of England might be to him. Again and again he 
reminded the stolid Mandarin of an accumulation of unredressed 
grievances owing to liis incessant disregard of Treaty rights, 
and pressed him to concede at least a friendly interview for an 
informal discussion of tiie 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 tlie Imperialist fleet (December 29, 1854) in a 
pitched battle at Whampoa, the proud Viceroy, in his hour of 
distress, condescended to ask Sir Jolin 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, Comiis, Battler 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 
Yioeroj 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 managen^ent, 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. 

Yell ^ling-shen, tlie successor of Sen Kwang-tsin in the 
Imperial Commissionership and Yiceroyalty 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 8eu 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 AVongchukee (1847) cut them in pieces : 
even our tender children are desirous to devour their flesh and 
to sleep upon their skins.' Yiceroy 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 



<lefences or his army. Yet he was determined to maintain the 
supremacy of China over all barbarians. He blamed Sen for 
having had too much parleying with Plenipotentiaries and 
(Jousuls. He would have no interviews of any sort. He would 
simply dictate Lis 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. Sanqjarpil 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 tbe 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, tbe 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 sliewed 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 
Arrofv 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 Xaval 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 



€anton.' In reality, the facts were briefly these. Some Chinese 
cTown -lessees of Hongkong had legally purchased in Chinese 
^ierritory 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 
A^essel 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, 1850. 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 
^lichael 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 openiiig of Canton city demanded by the merchants. 
His Chinese advisers, Consul Parkes and Secretary A\^ade, 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 Arroir 
case had never occurred, hostilities would have broken out all 
the same. 

Sir J. Bowring commenced action by demanding (October 
10, 185G) a pubhc suirender 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 theii' 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 tbe city. AVben Yeh curtly refused 
this demand, there commenced what was thenceforth known as 
the Arroiv "War. 

The Admiral demolished forthwith some Chinese -forts 
(October 23rd and 21th), 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. Xext the city wall opposite 
Y'eh's residence was breached (October 29th), but Yeh, having 
removed to a safe distance within the city, defied the Admmil 
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 (Xovember 


-:)vd to 5th) the official residences of the Civil Governor and of 
?the Tartar General. Yeh still held ont. The Admiral destroyed 
•another fort (Xoveniber Cth) and dismantled the Bogne forts 
(Xovember 12th and 18th). But, when these measures also 
left 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 
lie wrote home asking for a reinforcement of at least 5,000 men. 
^'^hinese 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, 185G) 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 
lii-e 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 i)irates 
tind brigands had been making common cause under the aegis 
of the local Triad societies, the European community was, ever 
since the Arrow incident, j^rvaded by a growing sense of 
insecurity. On 10th October, 185G, 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 i)rotection of life and property. Various forms of 
registering the Chinese residents, so as to exclude all Chinese 
whose honesty was not vouched for, were proposed and urged 
upon the Government with the utmost conlidence. Sir John, 
iiowever, put no trust in the vouchers that would have been 
produced and shrank from a measure the thorough execution 
<)( 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 wben^ 
tlie fleet retreated from Canton, foiled by Yeh's obstinacy, and 
more particularly when his placards appeared at every street 
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 oOth 
December, 1856, a general rising of the mob being apprehended, 
H.M.S. Acorn was anchored near the Central ^larket 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 tlje 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 G, 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 fouj* men with fire 
balls upon them ; temporary stupefaction of three Europeans 
after eating poisoned soup ; discovery of a headless body in the- 



Wongnaicbnng valley ; firino: matslieds on Crosby's premises in 
Queen's Road Central ; capture of S.S. TJiktle (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 loth, 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 Ah-lnm, 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 2^ 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. Xo 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 j-eference 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 everj 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 


Henngsliau Mandarins to remove from Honokong, liad left 
for Macao that morning with bis wife and children, but they also 
found themselves poisoned, and Ah-lum was returning voluntarily 
to Hongkong when he was arrested. Strange to say, bis work- 
men did not rim away even after the poison bad taken effect, 
but I'emained 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. 
AVhen, by the end of the month, the excitement had somewhat 
abated, the EuroiDeun 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 live years. 



A civil action had meanwhile been bronghfc against Ah-him by the 
editor of the Friend of China (W. Tarrant) who obtained (Jnne 
24, 1H57) ^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 
<^ommunity, which unanimously attributed the crime to the 
instigations of Cantonese Mandarins, would not belie^•e otherwise 
but that Ah-lum had, in some measure, connived at the diabolical 
iittempt 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 
J)erby, supported by Lord Lyndhurst in the House of Lords 
(February 2-4, 1857), and Mr. Cobden, supported by Mr. Gladstone 
and Mr. Disraeli in the House of Commons (February 2G, 18o7), 
heroically espoused the cause of that innocent lamb-like Yeh 
and condemned the proceedings initiated by Sir John Bowring 
in the most nnsj^aring terms. It was said that the Govermnent 
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 x\uthorities. Lord 
Palmei-ston warmly defended the action of Sir John but, as the 
debate proceeded, it soon became evident that the question 
involved was not merely the i)roposed 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 ceiisure was carried in the Commons 
by a majority of 1(5 votes, the Ministers, instead of resigning, 
announced (March o, 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 coining elections. 
Lord Palmerston sent orders to Mauritius and Madras to mobilize 
troops for service in China, and forthwith selected the Earl of 
Elgin and Kinkarrline to proceed by the mail of April 2G, 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 bis 
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 h>een 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.^I. 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 


VicerQ^iTeli- continued bis irregular warfare. The S.S. Queen 
suffered (February 23, 1857) tbe same fate as tbe Thistle and 
lier captain and European crew were assassinated. Incendiarism 
flourished in a petty way in Hongkong, and Duddell'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 ]5, 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 (^Tay 
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 brillinnt 
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 Arroir 
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 
bis 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 tlien too late in the year for operations in the Nortli. 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 
bis friend Lord Elgin characterized as sheer twaddle. He 
promised nothing buD 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 
Avas fruitless. Yeh replied to the ukiuiatum 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 lire 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 Honokong 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. Infieiible. but Yeh would not enter 
into any conversation and referred him to his interpreter 
(Ch. Alabaster). Meanwhile tlie government of Canton city had 
been settled by the appointment (January 10, 1857) of a Mixed 
Commission consisting of Consul Parkes, Colonel HoUoway of 
the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Captain Martineau des Chenez 
of the French Navy and Governor Pih Kwei. This Commission, 
thanks to Sir H. 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 
o-overnment 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 


<ind dispatched to Fatshaii and Kongtsiin (Jaiiaary 18, 1858), 
to Fayen (February 8th) and far up the West River to a distance 
of 200 miles (February 19th to March ord). The government of 
Canton city and these mihtary expeditions into the interior 
of Kwang-tung Province were indeed the only operations in 
the whole Arrow AYar that made a good and lasting impression 
uix)n the Chinese people. These measures shewed conclusively 
the ease w^ith 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 
us 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 
])roceeded, 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 tlie Taku forts (May 20, 1858) 
juid 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 2G, 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) w^hich 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 Mn 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 tlie 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 jilOO for each of his 
accomplices. This appeal to sordid cupidity in order to further 
the ends of justice naturally appeared to the Chinese as on 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 Hong^kono:. 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 
tlie 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 Authorities. 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 
Oolony 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 
4ill classes commenced and by the middle of July European 


residents began to feel themselves boycotted. A public 
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 Ihitish marines, but Avhen 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 altered attitude of the Mandarins. 

In addition to all the excitement which the Arroir War 
and its by-play of poisoning, incendiarism and boycotting" 
involved, the public life of Hongkong Avas, 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 
l^eace, 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 Cliwa, 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 
gaol (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, 1850) 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 
laud. The Magistrate, disregarding the minutes of the Executive 



Oonncil on the subject of that Ordinance, twice (May 23rd and 
June 3rd) sent for non-oflficial 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 Buildino^ 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 w^ith 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 
€Oi"respondence 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, 185G). This meeting complained of the i-etrospective 
character of the new Building Ordinance (8 of 1850) 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 apjDeared 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 1850). While considering it his mission in life to 
set things right in Hongkong, he seemed to combine, with 
thoi'ough uprightness of character, a lamentable want of self- 
restraint. He was hardly a month in the Colony before he 
<iuarrelled with both Magistrates, and scenes of mutual re- 
crimination were enacted in the Supreme Court (June, 1850). 
This was followed, two months later, by an action for defamation 
brought by the junior Magistrate against the Attorney (Jeneral. 
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 a 
brief lull in this internal turmoil, while the public mind was 
occupied with, and wrought up to great nervous tension by, 
the Arroiv AVar and its local consequences. In spring 1858, 
liowever, the shattered nei'ves 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 tlie 
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 froai 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 (Cli. 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 AVong) 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 expi-essed 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 verdicD 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 21), 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 meetino- 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 wei'e convened for the same purpose. On March 3rd, 
1859, Earl Grey brought the Newcastle petition before the House 
of Lords, while Sir E. Buhver-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 conchision 
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 ixjstilence, 
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. 
^rhe Lieutenant-Governor has been accused of having allowed 
his servant to sc[ueeze. 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 beads of the mercantile bouses 
bold 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. Bowriiif^ 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 officers of the 
Government and 3 members of the community. Sir John 
however added (in 1857) the Surveyor General and in November, 
1858, probably Avitli 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 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 pi'incipal bone of contention between the Governor 
and his Legislative Council was the construction (^f 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 


<.'Ost of £15,318 spread over many yeai-s), 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 Jolin's 
scheme had the support of an official Commission appointed 
by him to weigh all the objections \vhich 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 
<ippeared to be willing to come to terms with the Government, 
but a public meeting of European owners passed (December 
»j, 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 
(iovernor's contention was that many marine-lot holders liad, 
for years past, recovered from the sea and appropriated to their 
own use, against the rights of the Crown, land measuring 
298,G85 square feet which had been arbitrarily superadded to 
the respective leases granting in the aggregate other 2(>0,326 
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 iioldings. As 


their work proceeded, the Governor succeeded in making amicable 
arrangemenfcs 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 fortlnvith 
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 i-esisted, 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 lirst 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 
(.■ouncil 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 Bailf/ Press. It appeared 
that none voted in favour of the Bill except the Acting Attorney 
(General, the Colonial Treasurer and the Auditor General. The 
-<Jolonial Secretary (W. T. Mercer) had (piite lately returned 
from furlough and thought the Bill might be considered later 


on ; the Cijief 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 tliem to vote against his darling scheme w-ithout 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 
indiiectly 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 
bird 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 couimenced 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 tlie arrival (in spring 1856) of the Hou. Chisholm Anstey, 
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), Umiting 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 and 
1'2 Ordinances in 1857. Mr. Anstey received, however, small 
thanks for his zeal. Shortly after bis departure a Colonial Office 
dispatch was read in Council (January 20, 1850) 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 sokition, 
that unbiassed mind which bub 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 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 maie 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 180G) 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 1) 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 (1) 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 
supjwsed 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 pei-sons 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 mnch as two hundred dollars a month. There 
was among the leadin? 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 I'emedy of the existiuir state of 
things. This proposal of an amalgamation was further supported 
by a letter addressed by 50 local firms to tlie Attorney General, 
and even 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 tlint he had received no 
authority from that body. After the most painstaking inquiry, 
the Bill was passed by seven votes a'^ainst two and exercised 
thereafter a beneficial influence as long as it remained ia 

The muse celebre (apart from the actions for libel above 
i"eferred 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 
c ise 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 
Orown-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, 
^ilthough 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 njade 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 8J 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 ^n-o^r AVar. In si)ring 1858, 
Sir John stated that he had intended to claim from the Chinese 
Oovernment 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 
<^ompensation when the accounts between England and Cliina 
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 Avholly freed salt from 
taxation, as it became thereby an article of increased commercials 
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 
bead, 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 


8cotlan(l Yard, reported iu 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 
( A])ril 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 
bis 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, 185G), when several private policemen of 
Jardine, ^latheson & Co. were wounded, and finally the murder 
(i^pril 1, 1857) of Mr. Ch. Markwick by his Chinese servant, 
were the princi])al 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. Ne\'ertheless the District city of Xamtao was 
(March 11), 185'.)) actually bombarded by H.M.S. Cruiser (Captain 
Bythesea) to compel reparation for the sum of ^4,500 which, 
as tlie comprador of the Registrar General's Office alleged, bad 
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 conne(.*tion 
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 Labit of gambling. 
Sir J. Bowring boldly proposed to Lord John Russell 
(September 4, 185')) and subsequently to Mr. H. Labouchere 
(^February 11, 1850) to regulate the vice that could not he 
suppressed and to adopt the system in vogue at Macao of 
controlling Chinese gambling houses by licensing a limited 
luunber 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 (T. F. Guimaraes) as to 
the good results of such a control of Chinese gambling. None 
])ut 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, 1850). 
Akhough the measure met witli a blaidv refusal on the part of 
Mr. Labouchere, who would not even consider it, Sir J. Bowring 
iigain and again, but in vain, represented to Mr. Labouchere's 
successors (Loi'd Stanley and Sir E. H. Lytton) his ardent 
conviction that the system of licensing vice for the purpose of 
controlhng it was as lei;itimate in the case of gambling as in 
the case of prostitution and opium smoking, and that the 
<3xisting state of things resulted in general corruption of the 
Police. The problem was left to be taken up ten years later 
by Sir Richard MacDonnrll. 

That jnracy 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 in^pression. Captious critics, both in 
the Colony and in Parliament, and particularly European friends 
of the Taiping (rovernment, occasionally tlirew out doubts 
whether all the junks destroyed by British gunboats were actually 


.piratical ci'affc or Taipiiio; rebels or peaceful bub in self-protection 
Jieavily armed traders, officially traduced by Chinese informers as 
l)irates. H.M.S. Rattler made a successful raid against pirates 
at Taicbow (May 10, 185;')). H.M. Brig Blttprii burned 23 
junks and killed 1,200 men at Sheifoo (September, 1855) with 
the loss of her own commander killed and 11) 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 lo4 large cannons were sold in the Colony by 
public auction and purchased by Chinese (probably confederates 
of pirates) at the rate of ^234 a jiair. H.M.S. Ma(jiciennp, 
Tnffexible, Plover, and Ahjerlne, destroyed (Se[)tember, 1858) 
40 junks, 30 snake-boacs, a stockaded battery and several piratical 
villages. H.M.S. Fart/ and Bustard captured 12 junks near 
-Macao (December, 1858) and in the same neighbourhood H.^E.S. 
JVif/er, 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 outbreak of the Arrou) War such rumours 
were frequently in cinmlation owing to the general increase of 
piracy. As many as 32 piracies were reported in Hongkong 
between November 1st, 185(5, and 15th February, 1857. After 
that they decreased in frequency. Only 5 cases of piracy were 
j'eported 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 2)iracy and sentenced to transportati(ln for 
life, and a notorious pirate chief, Machow AVong, was sentenced 
(September 2, 1857) to 15 years' transportation (to Labuan). 
In October, 1857, the schooner Neva was atfcackei by pirates who 


mui'dered the captain and two of the cvew. Piracy continued 
to worry the junk trade until March 18c8, and the capture of a 
Hono'kong passage-boat (Winr/sun) made some stir (January 
17, 1858), but after that time the number of piracies sensibly 
decreased and no further attack on European vessels occurred 
until the day preceding the Crovernor's de])arturc, when the 
S.S. Cumfa was plundered by pirates (May 4, 1859). 

Owino' to the lono--continued disturbances in the Canton 
Province, the population of Hongkong increased, with some 
strange fluctuations (in 185G and 1858), from 50,011 people in 
the year 185J- to 75,503 people in 1858, the average annual 
increase, during the five years of Sir J. Bowriug's administration, 
being only 0,015, though in the years 1854 and 1855 the anuual 
increment amounted to 10,954 people. Sir John explained these 
fluctuations by saying that the returns of 1857 and 1858 Avere 
under-estimated by error and that the aml)ulatory habits of the 
Chinese residents might account for the inaccuracies of the 
census of 1850 which reported 71,730 persons residing in 
the Colony (exclusive of troops). Referring to the year 1850, 
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, 
some 800 deaths being reported between Gth February and 28th 
April. Increased activity of the sanitary department caused, 
in October 1850, 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 1850) and mobs of turbulent Chinese 
paraded the streets. The year 1857 was rejwrted upon by the 



next Colonial Surgeon (Dr. Meuzies) as having been distingnislied 
by more than average unhealtliiness consecjuent upon fclie failure 
of the usual amount of rain. But the next year was positively 
disastrous. When Dr. Harland (the suecessor of Dr. Menzies) 
died of fever in the year lS.j8, it was noticed that he was the 
fourth Colonial Surgeon who had fallen a victim to the chmate. 
His successor, Dr. Ghaldecott, reported, as a novel appearance in 
the Colony, the outbreak of true Asiatic cholera and hydro- 
l)hobia. "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 uot entirely owing to, at least fearfully 
aggravated and extended by, the neglect of proper di*ainage 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 attactked the worst lodged and worst fed part 
of the Chinese community, then some Indian servants, next the 
European seamen bath ashore and afloat and at the same time 
some of the soldiers of the garrison and the jn'isoners 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 
])roved fatal. The residents of ^lacao 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, reache:l Shanghai and 
then raged with gi'eat vii-ulence 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 
])ublicly 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 
(\V. T. Mercer). Observing that the paucity 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. Bo wring, however, opined that it was not the business 
of the Government to furnish indi\iduals 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- 
tious. 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 0, 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- 
estabHshed (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 (August, 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 peiiod 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 soou as the news of the Parliamentary condemnation of Sir 
John's character and conduct in connection with the Arroir 
War reached Shangliai (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 rate& 
had been ruling in Canton. The opening of Japan, by the 
Convention coucluded (October 14, 1854) by Admiral Sir James 


Stirling-, had no such immediate effect npon 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 farthered by the opening (June 
]1, 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 (Xovember, 1854) to have arrived safely at 
Kingston. The efflux of emigrants to California and Australia 
(especially to Melbourne) continued to increase. As many as 
14,083 Chinese emigrants were shipped fiom Hongkong in the 
year 1855, and 13,85G 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 foreiun 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 1), 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 Stei'ling in a 
Colony where not a merchant, shopkeejK*r 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, 


Ill this, as in some otlier respects, Sir John's ideas were in 
advance of his time. 

How far behind the times some worthy men in Honjirkong' 
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, 184G), 
that Parliament should impose a differential duty of one penny 
per pound in favour of teas shipped from Hongkong. Colonel 
Caine thought tbat, 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 
prin(;iple, fraudulent in practice and disappointing in result. 
After this, n;) more was heard of the scheme. 

Among tbe 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 
lv>, 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 inflnence came here once more (for the hist 
time perhaps) to tlie fore, that the Colony was misplaced at 
Hougkono- and should be removed to Clmsan, 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 oO to 85 scholars, was dosed at the 
end of the year 1850 owing to the results not justifying its 
continuance. Though it had trained some useful clerks fur 
mercantile offices, it had failed from a missionary and educational 
2)oint of view, and, recognizing the failure. Dr. Legge courageously 
closed this College. St. Paul's College continued for some yeais 
longer, but Sir J. Bowring, weighing its results in the official 
scales, pronounced it likewise a failure. ' For the Inst 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 Pailiamentary 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 im'tiated 
(March (5, 1855) by a i)ublic meeting which, complaining that 
Hongkong was still without a Pul)lic 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. 1). "Williams, Douglas Lapraik, F. W. M. Green, 

.348 CHAl'TEIl XYII. 

and Geo. Lyull). But tluni«;h this Scliool was well started 
and continued nnder the fosteriii^^ 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 18 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. ^Y. T. Bridges), while stating (March, IS;")?) that 
nothing could well be at a lower ebb tlian the local educational 
movement, recognized distinct signs of henlthy 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 '>r), 1855) the request of Bishop Smith 
that the Governor should appoint the ()th June, 1855, as a day 
of fast and humiliation, with reference to the Ci'imean 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 tlie Sovereign, as the head of the 
• Church of England, may exercise only in the form of an Order 
in ("ouncil. 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 offecb botli in Enulniid and on tlie Continent. 
In May, 1858, a pnblic subscription was raised in Hongkono- to 
obtain, under the advice of Sir V. G. Ouselev. the Oxford 
Professor of Music, an organ (to ('ost £125) and a first-class 
organist. In result a highly trained and talented musician 
(C. F. A. Sangster) was sent out (in 1800) 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 confrere 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 admireis 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) repi'csented 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 Supphj, the 
officers of which had just surveyed extensive coal beds in 
Formosa; the arrival (August 14, 1854) of the American ship 
Laihj 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 
l^Xovember 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 (2ud 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 lirigade 
(January 28) 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 w4iich 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 28, 1856). A harmless shock 
-of earthquake Avas felt in Hongkong (September 28, 1854), heavy 
rains did a great amount of damage to drains, roads and Chinese 
houses (June 1±^ 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 
Uoad West by a land-slip, the immediate consequence of the 
lieavy 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 T), 1859) when the passionate comments of the] English 
press, reviewing the Parliamentary disenssions 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. Xeither 
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 Mall 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 10th March, 1809, the 
leading merchants presented to Sir Michael Seymour, K.C.B., 
a magniloquent address and a draft on London to the amount of 
*i,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 P]lgin, the advice 
and experience of Sir J. Bowring to aid him. I5ut 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 2«), 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 
tlie 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 cljaracter of these presentations was undoubted 
and did much to cheer the departing Governor's hearc. 

On his way home by S.S. Peldii, 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 Consei'vative 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, Avliich 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. 


The Administration of Sir Hercules Robinson. 
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 Fusiliei-s and, on his retirement from the Army, 
found civil employment during the Irish famine (184G 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. CLristopber (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 
governoi-ship of Hongkong, he was created a Knight Bachelor 
in June, 1850. 

Sir H. llobinson, 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 
(Jovernor and Commander-in-chief and Vice- Admiral, being the 
first Governor of Hongkong entirely dissociated from the Super- 
inteudency 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 
jippointed to inquire into the financial condition of the Straits 
Settlements. On leaving Hongkong on the latter occasion (July 
12, 1862), after but three yeai*s of his administration, so great 
was the change already wrought in the commercial, financial 
a,nd administrative condition of Hongkong affairs, that he was 
presented on his departure with enthusiastic addresses fi'ora the 
local Volunteers, the Bishop and all the Members of Council, 
<;ongratulating 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 alieady 
been removed to Shanghai where Sir F. W. Bruce (since June, 


f), 1859), US H.M. Minister in China, was waitino- for instrnctions, 
after the defeat of the British fleet at the Peiho (Jnne 25, 
1859). British and French relations with China were at a 
standstill. The U.S. Minister Ward had attempted (Jnne 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 Avas 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). AYhilst this 
ultimatum was under the consideration of the Chinese Ministers, 
the Viceroy of the two Kiang Provinces in Central China (Ho 
Kwci-sin), pressed by the Taiping rebellion, urged his Govern- 
ment to make peace with England and France and actually asked 
the Allies (March, 18G0) for military assistance against the 
Tai pings. 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, 1800), 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 i-esumption of 
the war, but the Island of Chusan was meanwhile (April 21, 
1800) 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. Bowriug's 
action, hurled against him by Mr. Bright and Mr. Sidney Herbei't 
(March 10, 180O). 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 20, 1800). Finally, after a shocking demonstration 
of Chinese official treachery and barbarity, Peking was taken 
^October 13, 18G0), the Imperial summer palace burnt by way 


of retribution (October 18, 18C0), and the Peking Convention 
(October 24, 18G0)- 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, 1801) as a special department for foreign 
affairs. After the death of the irreconcilably hostile Emperor 
Hienfung (Angnst 22, 18G1), Prince Kun^!: came to the front 
and by a coiqj iVetat (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 Avas ably organized by Mr. H. N. Lay 
with the assistance of Mr. (subsequently Sir) Robert Hart. 
During Mr. Lay's absence in England (1802 to 1803) 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, 1804) 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 Oh. Gordon (January 6, 1863, to June 1, 1804), 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 1800, 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 1800, caused the shipping interests of the Colony to 


develop enoi'inoiisly for a time, Avliilst 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 tlie 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 ^Y. K. Hall, of H.M.8. 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 mu(*h needed sea-frontage for commercial building 
lots and additional barrack accommodation ; that the British 
occupation of Kowloon would reniove 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 transferi-ed to Kowloon and its present side utilized for 
barracks ; and that Stonecutters' Island would be useful for a 
(juarantine 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 AVar 
Of!ice (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 gr^at 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 renew^al of the war 
with China, and on March 12th, 18G0, 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, 18G0) Sir H. Robinson forwarded to Sir P. 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, ali*eady been 
informally utilized (since February, 18(10) as camping ground. 
Nevertheless Sir Hercules forwarded Sir H. Parkes' proposition, 
to Sir F. Bruce on March 12th, 18G0. 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. *0n the opposite coast, and within three-quarters o£ 


a mile, was the promontory of Kowloon, a spot of which I was 
most anxious to gain immediate possession — firstly, because it& 
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. Kiuce, our Plenipo- 
tentiary, had sent an ultimatum to the Chinese Government 
allowing them a month to reply and wnr had not yet beem 
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 ICth, 1860, he had a consultation with 
Sir H. Robinson and General Grant, and this is what he says of 
it. '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, 186(>, 
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 2J:th, 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 nofc 
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 
jind 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' Deijartment, 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, 
Oolonel Mann, R.E., the Army, and Captain Borlase, R.X., the 


Admiralty. Bnfc 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 
Governmeut 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, 18G2). 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 re(]nired 
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 


Govenimcnfc. 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 
unrighfceoas appropriation. But that, in addition to the serious 
and permxnent injury thus inflicted upon the Colony, an annual 
nn'litary contribution was likewise demanded, can be explained 
only by the assumption that Her Majesty's Government was 
kept in io-norance 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 18G4, when the Military Authorities 
got the lion's share and certain prescriptive rights over the 
reniaindei-, which was divided between the Colony and the Navy. 
At a land sale, held in 18G4 (July 25 to 29), some 26 marine and 
?){) inland lots were sold, on short leases, at a premium of $4,050 
and an jinnual rent of |18,708 (of which sum hardly one-fourth 
was ever paid). The one portion which was of essential value 
f'>r 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 
Shamtsiin 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- 


blne-jackefcs, under the command of Captain Boxer, of H.M.S. 
Hesper^ went inland with tlie Reg:istrai- General and captured, 
happily without resistance, both the kidnapper and his prisoner 
who were brought to Honj^kong-. 

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 18G0) for establishing a revised Civil List came 
under discussion in Legislative Council (December 26, 185i)), 
the unofficial Members (J. Jardiue, 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 T), 1802) under Ordinance 10 of 1862 
by which he definitely fixed the rate of pension payable to officei's 
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 IiKjuiry (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 Vindpx 
(August 31, 1861) and between July, 1863, and June, 1864, as 
many as 48 mastei's and 2H mates were passed by this Board of 
Examiners. Sir Hercules also re-organized the Police Court 
(Ordinance G 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 Paisnc Jiido-e (H. J. Ball) was esfcablished by Ordinance 7 of 
3 8G2 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 bo 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 programrne, 
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 ])eople to firmer supervision by the Government and 
had forthwith careful translations of the respective Ordinances 
published (May 5 and November 24, 1800). But he went 
farther and established (March 1, 18(52') 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 Tipous 
(June 30, 1801) and made the Registrar General exercise, 
with regard to the Chinese population, the f>ame 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 Hong-kong 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 (^ourt 
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 terril)ly 


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 
iJailf/ Press was not satisfied with the scope of the inquiry. He 
(•lamoured 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 
eomplainant 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, I860, the extent to which public officers might write 
for or to the public papers. The Duke of Newcastle laid doAvn 
the rule that, whilst there is no objection to public servants 
furnishing ncAvspapers with articles signed Avith 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 ^ilembers. A set of standing- orders and rules bad 
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 upoM 
the deliberations of the Legislative Council to the lowest possible 
minimum. He acted on the principle that legislation should nob 
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, tlie 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 passengei ships 
(() of 1860), fees to be taken under the Merchant Shipping 
Ordinance (10 of 1800), exportation of military stores (;> of 
1802), protection of patents (14 of 1802) and trade marks (8 
of 180;')), the law of debtor and creditor (4 of 1808 and 5 of 
1804), bills of sale (10 of 1804), bills and promissory notes (12 
of 1804), commercial law (18 of 18G4) and finally the incor- 
poration, regulation and winding up of Trading Companies (1 of 
1805). 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 ihe Taiping 
Rebels until February 21, 1802, 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 qf 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 x4.ttorney 
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 
mider 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 i^ractice 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 plnndering 
to which ^oods were subjected in transit between ship and 
shore, an Ordinance (15 of 1800) was passed for the registration 
and ret];ulation of the men employed on cargo-boats. As soon as 
this Ordinance came into force (18G1), 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 18G3) when they were for the first time to be 
brought under a system of regulating and licensing public 
vehicles by Ordinance G 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, 18G1. A Britisli 
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. Bnt 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 10, 18G3) 
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, 1801) 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 tlie scope of this Amali^aniation Ordinance, Sir 
}[. Robinson repealed it altogether to the infinite regret of 
the public (by Ordinance 12 of 18G2). 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 
t;he legal pi'ofession 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 uttei'ance of tlieir 
opinions, rather than on the views of irresponsible outsiders.' 
The Chief Justice (W. H. Adams) and the Attorney General 
(J. Sraale) thought the repeal necessary to preserve the purity 
of the higher brawh 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 o, J8G2), and 
the inexorable predetermination with which he brushed aside 
all objections whilst refusing any inquiry oi' consideration, caused 
the general public to stigmatise the conduct of Sir Hercules 
in this case, as in some others, as marked by 'mulish obscinacy.' 
As to other legal enactments of this period, the principal 
Ordinance of permanent value was that (7 of 18GU) which gave 
authority to two Commissioners, H. J. Ball, Judge of the 
Summary Jurisdiction Court, and W. H. Alexander, Registrar 
of the Cou't, to compile an edition of the Ordinances in force 
in the Colony and to consolidate particularly the criminal law. 
This important work, by the starting of which the Governor 
complied with one of the recommendations of the Parliamentary 


'■Oommifctcp of 1S47, was satisfacfcorilj completed in October, 
18(U, under the sanction wln'cli the Privy Council had given 
(February 20, 18(U) to the introduction in the Colony of the 
criminal law of Enoland with such adaptations fts circumstances 
might render advisable. 

Owing to the above-mentioned disturbances in the Canton 
Province, the pjpulation of Hongkong made great strides in the 
first few years of this period. In 18G0 the population increased 
by 8,003 persons. Tn 18(51, when the cession of Kowloon also 
contributed to swell the population, the increase amounted to 
24,404 persons, having risen from 94,1)17 people in 180O to 
119,821 in 1801. After that year, however, the population 
increased but slightly in 180 2, retrograded in 1803 and stood 
in 1804 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 1800 
exceeded that of 1859 by £28,958. The expenditure of the same 
period, however, inci-eased by £0,281. In consequence of the 
transfer of the Hongkong Post Office to the local Government 
(May 1, 1800), the Post Office receipts appeared for the first 
time in the accounts for the year 1800. But the largest increase 
of the revenue of that year was under the head of land revenue, 
which exceeded tliat of 1859 by nearly £17,000 in consequence 
of the great rise in the value of land. The revenue of 180O was 
thus the largest ever raised, up to that time, in Hongkong, and 
four times greater than that of the year 1851. The Colony 
Jiad now at last become fully self-supporting and commenced the 
year 1801 Avith an excess of assets (over liabilities) amounting 
to nearly £4,300, The revenue of the year 1801 (£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 1801 shewed an increase under almost every head of revenue 
'but particularly so the items of laud rents and licences, the rapid 
increase of the population, and the extensive purchases of land 


connected with an attempb to develop the resources of Bowringtoii, 
having caused an enormous further increase in the vahie of land. 
FoUowini^ the example of Sir J. Bowring-, Sir H. Robinsou 
deposited year by year all surplus funds in the local Chartered 
Banks at five per cent, and £61,550 were thus deposited in 18G1. 
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 $5-1:, 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 $687,845 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 
(juota 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, 18G4) 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, U. 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 18G5, 
including the sum of $1)2,000 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 tlie unofficial Members in voting ngainst it. Moreover,, 
witli the single exception of the Chief Justice (SV. H. Adams),, 
all the Members of Council, both official and unofficial, agreed 
forthwitli 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 chai-ged 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, 1804) suggested that, if there must be a military contribution, 
it had better be imposed by an Order of Her Majesty in Council.' 
The Secretary of State (Mr. Cardwell) subse(]uently agreed to 
take this course (August 11, 1805) if the Legislative Council 
should insist upon it. But when the point was discussed in 
Council (November 10, 1865), the Members agreed to appropriate 
the amount by annual vote of the local legislature. 

It has been stated above that Sir J. Bo wring I'ccommended' 
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 
administi'ation and the Governor was urged (October 4, 1800) 
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, 1801, 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 1803. 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 1802, 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-establishnient of a 
silver standard based on the Mexican dollar. By a Royal pro- 
clamation, dated January 1). 18(18, 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 (bemo- hundredth or thousandth parts of the 
Mexican dollar) which were to be issued 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 (18()5). But meanwhile Sir Hercules did two 
things : he obtained from England a supply of subsidiary coins 
(June 26, I860) 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 ^2'1)87 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— tliat Mexican 
dollars now passed current in large 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 
l)ecome 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 recjuired. 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. Ari'angements 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 
Avere also issued, providing for the conversion of British currency 
in al! payments by or to the Gov^ernment (1 of 1864) and for 
the organisation of the Mint service (2 of 18G4). The former 
■of these two Ordinances ordained, with reference to the above- 
mentioned proclamation of January 1), 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 KM. Mint at the rate of 4s. 2d. to the dollar. 

As reoai'ds 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 referi'ed 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, Cl'erk 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. Rawding'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 matei'ials ordered out 
from England, and the substitution of cement for mortar 
(ordered by the Colonial Office), caused an excess over the 
origifial estimate by a considerable sum. It was not till the 
close of the year 1803 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. Bnt the 
experience of subsequent years revealed defects of construction. 
Moreover, as the scheme did not provide for a sufficient quantity 
of waber (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 
I'eclaimed. 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-consbructino^ the defective and dilapidated sea- 
wall and oifering to the lot-holders the land to be reclaimed 
in front of their respective lots free of premium, in compensation 
for t;ho reclamation expenses to be borne by them. Bub this 
offer ineb with the same obstructiveness which had hampered 
Sir J. Bowrin^'s scheme. A public meeting of lot-holders, 
held on 13th September, 18G4, resolved to protest against the 
propos;il 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, 18G4). Controversy ensued. 
The Colonial Secretary nob only contested that the sea-wall 
needed rebuilding bub 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 
rebutted 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 lut-holders. Meanwhile other public works had not been 
neglecbed. A Lock Hospital was erected in 18G1, 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 1801, 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 Shaukiwan, and 
tlie construction of Stonecutters' Island (niol were all completed. 
Police and gaol management did nob advance, even in bhis 
periol of general adminisbrabive vigour, beyond bhe sbage 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 aiTived 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, 18G2) to serve as a floating Police Station. In spring 1804, 
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 sus|Xicts refusing to stop 
when challenged, was judicially inquired into (July 28, 1804) 
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, 1804) awarding gratuities in case of 
special merit. Wholesale deportation of crowds of professional 
beggars was resorted to in summer 1804, to I'elieve 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 1802, 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 Oaol. Some 2H0 long sentence prisonei'S were accord- 
ingly lodged on board a hulk {Rofjal 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 1803) 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, 1803), 
a Commission was appointed (May, 1803) to inquire into the 
condition and workiu"- of Victoria Gaol. The convict hulk 


at Stonecutters' Island was equally unsatisfactory. Thing-g 
went on well enoui>li sj longf 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 88 prisoners were drowned 
(July 23, 18G3). Later on (April 21, 1864) a body of about 
100 prisoners made good their escape in junks, after disablin,2r 
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, 18C3). 
The gaol was thenceforth popuhirly referred to as * Douglas 

The criminal history of this period presents some novel 
features. In January, 1860, one of the most popular compradors, 
Tarn Achoy, distinguished himself by collecting in Hongkong 
an armed corps of Puntis, officered by some foreign seamen, 
wMiom he dispatched by the S.S. Sir Jamseijee Jeejeehhoij 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 buccmeering expedition had been 
killed in battle, Tarn Achoy was arrested and charged with 
murder. It appeared, however, that, before sending off that 
expedition, Tarn 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, Tarn Achoy was advised to plead guilty of 
misdemeanour and was disdiarged 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 hy an 
Indian merchant wlio, witli the assistance of an EngiishmaM 
in charoe of tlie opium stored in the receivino^-ship I'ropir, 
defrauded the Chartered Mercantile Bank and others of some 
two miUion dollars (July, 18G2) by means of forced opium 
certificates. Many daring burglaries and mui'derous attacks were 
made, during this period, by armel gangs, such as the attack 
on the signal station at Victoria Peak (July 27, 1808), the 
assault made on some men in the Artillery Barracks (October 
11, 1808), the murder of an Indiau and his wife (January 
29, 1804) and an attack made on the offices of IloUiday, 
Wise & Co. (May 11, 1804). Hongkong was now in daily 
communication with Canton by American river-steamers which 
took Chinese passengers at 20 cents a head in 1803 and 1804. 
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 
fchey 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, 
1804), the jewellery store of Douglas Lapraik (May 10, 1804), 
and the treasure vaults of the Central Bank of Western India 
(February 5, 1805) were successively attacked by burglars who 
used the subterraneous storm-water drains as the basis of their 
operations and drove from thefe tunnels by which they under- 
mined the floors of treasure stores. The Central Bank was in 
this way robbed of ^03,000 in notes and £11,000 in gold ingots, 
some of which were found strewn about in the street on the 
morning of February 0, 1805. 

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), 1804, 
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 


rciiewin<>' the contest. The Yohmteers were called out to patrol 
the streets (September 14, 18G4), and at the request of the 
Governor the 90th Regiment were ordered at three lionrs' notice 
to move forthwith over to Kowloon (September 15, 18G4) where 
a camp was hastily erected. This was done in the face of a 
stroiii^ 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 throuo-hout 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) 
18cl), by owners of native junks. Few piracies occurred in 
18G0. But in May, 18G1, the brig JSorth 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-inoon, by pirates who wounded the captain and some 
of the crew (January 2, 1862). Three weeks after this outrage, 
the British brig Imoijem was plundered and burned (January 
23, 18G2) by pirates, five of whom were subsequently (March 
0, 18G2) 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, 18G2). 
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 
Avouuded 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, Oapiaiii 
Harris. Next year (April 8, IHCio) the (Jovernment offered a 
reward of ^1,000 for information leading to the arrest of certain 
lawless persons, .English and American, employed on hoard of 
piratical junks in the neigh l)ourhood of Hongkong and Formosa. 
This notilicnition had no effect. The American hanine Bertha 
was unsuccessfully attacked by pirates near Stonecutters' Island 
(July 22, 18(13) ; six months later (January 28, 1804) some 
pirates attacked the Danish brig Cliico and murdered some of 
her crew, and on February 5th, 1805, the Spanish brig Xucvo 
Lepcmto was captured by pirates near Lantao. 

As to the oonnnercial history of this period, one of its 
principal landmarks is the formation (May 2!), 18(')1) of the 
Hongkong Chauiber of Commerce. Jt was to be the aim of this 
institution, to guard the liherties 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 (Muunber, and the Com- 
mittee elected at the first annual meeting (April 2o, 18(')L') included 
American (1). Delano), German (D. Xissen) and Parsee (T. B. 
Huxey) merchants. One of the first topics which occupied the 
attention of the Chamber of Commerce was a subject which for 
some years previous had been a burning question of the day, 
viz. the establishment by the Chinese Oovernment of the Imperial 
Maritime Customs Service, under Mr. H. N. Lay. When this 
scheme was first mootied, 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 tliafc the 
effect of the scheme would be to drive the import trade from 
Oautou 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 Consnl 
(0. H. Perry) objected to Mr. Lay's regulations, or rather to 
certain threats of penalties contained in tlieir original edition, 
as an illegal interference with the American river-steamers. 
Those regulations were, however, at once revised, appi-ovod 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 Cliinese 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 melee. 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 atti'acted the watchful 
eye of the Chamber. Some transitoiy 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, 18G2) 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, 1802) that 
thencteforth 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 Xative 
Customs (Hoppo) at Canton, to induce the Foreign Customs 
Service to levy duties on cargo shipi)ed 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 Conunerce (December, 18(]0\ through the energetic action of 
H.M. Consul at Canton (Ch. A. AVinchester). 

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 1850, sevenfold' over 
what it was in 1858, and fishing junks increased from 2,000 
to 2,500. In the year 18G0 a movement was set on foot to 



light the city with gas through a Company formed in London. 
Xext 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 riglit 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. Li January, 1808, 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 AVantsai Bay to a distance 
of 250 ffeet, gave at low water a depth of 2Q 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, 1803), a site was purchased 
(November 16, 1864) at Hunghom, on the Kowloon Peninsula, 
for the nominal sum of $bO, 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 tliere is yet another 
institution, of equal importance, to be mentioned which like- 
wise originated during this fruitful period. In July, 1804, 
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. Tiiis new bank, whose first manager (V. Kresser) 
entered upon liis duties on January 1, 180'), was the first to 
])rofit 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 Colonics. 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 secm-ing (Xovember 15, 1859), through the influence of 
Protestant missionaries, numbers of Chinese families for 
Demerara, whereas it Imd 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 Ano-nst, 18G2, the Hoiigkonci: Office of the Britisli- 
Wesfc Indies' emigration agent was closed and the business 
transferred to Canton, to admit of more searching supervision 
of the modes in which the cooHes were procured. But, owint>: 
to this measure, the number of Chinese emigrants, annually 
shipped from Hongkong, fell from 10,421 in 18G2, to 7,80I» 
in ]8Go, and to 0,007 in 1804. In the year 1803 the number 
of emigrants leavii]g 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 1801 one single ship {Mlnervd) 
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 1801, 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 31,000 tons when compared with the returns of 1859. The 
difference is explained by the extraordinary increase of the 
shipping business occasioned, in the year 1800, by commissariat, 
and transport services connected with the war in North China- 
It may also be noted that the American tonnage decreased' 
in 1801 while British shipping took a proportionate bound in 
advance, owing to the effects of the Peking Convention ^vhich 
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 1800 to the Home Government 
regarding the erection of lighthouses on those rocks, but the 
Board of Trade declined (May 2, 1801) 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 nndortakings in India, visited 


Hong-kong uiid exhibited (February 28, 1804) a Avail map 
illustrating his scheme of connecting Calcutta, Hongkong and 
Peking by a railway. The (juestion whether such a railway would 
txinefit or injure the interests of the Colony was much debated. 
Sir M. Stephenson's scheme was, however, entirely premature 
•iind met with no encouragement on the part of the Chinese 
liovernment. At the close of the year 1801 arrangements were 
made to get the commerce of the Colony worthily represented 
nfc the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1802. 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, 1803) 
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 wnys. Connnunication 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 
ffongkong and Canton trade roomy palatial river-steamers which 
ran both night and day {White Cloud and Kmshan). Since 
December, 1803, Hongkong was nlso placed in regular steam 
comuninication with North- Borneo and some business was done 
by importing coal from Labuan. In the tea trade a new 
■departure was made in 1804 by forwarding, as an experiment, 
J),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 Plongkong, of several epidemics 
and the fear of cholera invading the Colony from abroad 
necessitated some action. l>ut it led to nothing furthe'r tlian 
the appointment, in 1802, of a health officer of the port 
(Dr. L. Richardson), the allotment of Green Island as a 


qnarani-ine station, and the appointment of a Commission 
productive of reports which led to nothing. In the year 1850 
a mild epidemic of ophthalmia appeared in the gaol and rapidly 
spread throughout the ('olony, 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 ]850 was unusually severe 
as there was, previous to Uh 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 (18G0 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 
MiHtary Authorities opened, in spring 1862, a well-built 
sanatorium on the plateau below^ the flag-staff and filled it witii 
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 Kowloou 
Peninsula in particular, asserted its powder also as to the first 
settlements on the Peak : the first occupation produced disease, 
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 |400 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 prosjjerous 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 (^hinese 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 edncation 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 
ndrainistration he had closed his Anglo-Chinese College as an 
acknowledged failure in tlie line of religious Anglo-Chinese 
education. He now set to work, with the support of Sir H. 
Kohinson, to convert all the Government Schools, which had 
liitherto been conducted in the interest of religious education, 
into professedly secular institutions. To begin with, the Govern- 
ment Gazette announced (January 21, 18G0) the formation of 
a new Board of Education for the management of the Government 
Schools. Dr. Legge was thenceforth, though Bishop Smith 
reiained 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, 18G0) 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 0, 1801) this plan of Dr. Legge, which Sir J. Bowring 
liad 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, 18G2) 
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 Lis disciplinarian roo-ime the Government 
Central School o-radually became a lii_i>]i]y jjopnlar institntion 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 c(]ually pc^pular 
St. Andrew's School, latterly under the tuition of ^Ir. J. Kemp. 
On the site of St. Andrew's School, closed in l<S(;i, Dr. Leirge 
erected his new Union Church which was removed thither from 
Hollywood Boad in July, 18G3. 

This remarkable revival of educational zeal among the 
Protestant leaders was aided, and to some extent outstripped, 
since 1800, 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 Protestnnts. Bishop 
Raimondi, however, became the strongest o})ponent 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 (Januaiy, 
18C8) had pointed out as one of the great wants of the Colony, 
was started by Bishop Raimondi (September, ISCA) and removed 
in the following year to more commodious premises erected on 
ground granted by the Government (March 24, 1805) at 
West Point. 

The Hongkong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society was felt 
(in 1850) 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 (!$1 3,000) still in hand, and distinguished itself (December, 
18G0) 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, 18G1) 
for additional subscriptions. 

St. John's Cathedral was enriched (in 18G0) by the erection 
of a good organ which was inaugurated (December 25, 18G0) 
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, 18G4) for the Bishop of Victoria a pension of 
£300 per annum. A suggestion Avas, 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 Lnperial as to local interests. The 
charity of the community was strongly manifested (in 18G2 and 
1863) by a unanimous endeavour to afford all possible relief 
to the Lancashii'e 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 ^11,1G2 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, althouo-]i 
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 liow 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 I'enewal 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 soit among the Chinese population. 
Indeed, those Chinese who gave any thought to the matter, 
seemed rather to regret tiiis temporary success of Mandarin 
treachery. But the capture of Peking in 1860 and particularly 
the fliglit of the Em^Kiror, wiiose 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 Xowloon 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 sightseei's, both native and foreign. The return 
of the Allied troops iu November and December, 1860, gave to 
Hongkong society for a while quite a martial aspect. By a grand 
levee held by Lord Elgin at Government House (January 10, 


]8G1), and by the ceremony of lianding over Kowloon Peninsnla 
to tlie British (Jrown (January 11), 180 1), tlie leading spirits 
of the war period bade farewell to the Colony. Before the 
close of January, 18G1, the ex})edition had departed and 
when the small force left in occu[)ation of Canton city (until 
October 2], 1861) likewise left foi- Europe, the social life of 
Hong-kong resumed its ordinary aspects. Club life, however, 
encountered during this period some lively disturbances. The 
Hongkong Ckib 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 18r)D and 18(10 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 ISOO, the Club Connnittee made 
a rule, requiring cash payment in the case of naval officers, 
whicli might have remained harndess, but when a public paper 
indisci-eetly 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, 1800) 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, wdien the dispute was at last amicably settled 
(December, 18G0). A fresh disturbance of Club life arose, in 
18G-i, in connection with the riots betw^een 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 llth September, 18G4, that the Volunteer 
Corps, on returning from patrol duty, was made to fall out 
in front of the Club. Some of the members of the Club invited 
their friends among the Volunteers to join them in some 



refrcshraents. It was a breach of the rules, which the patriotic 
duties of the Yohuiteers mioht have excused, but when the 
intruders from among the Vokinteers were forthwith hooted 
out of the Club, there ensued an extraordinary amount of 
animosities which for a Ion"- 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, 
18G0), nnder 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 1801, closed with 
a Government House Ball in addition to the usual subscription 
Ball. In January, 18G2, raciing men Avere much stirred up by 
the question of excluding from the annual races all professional 
ridei's or jockeys. Renewed excitement was called forth, in 
October, 18G4, 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 IGth March, 18G0, 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. "VV. Nissen became a popular 
factor of social life, an international Gymnasium Committee 
was formed (November 24, J8G2) and a matshed gymnasium 
was erected near the. racket court on military ground. A novel 
and most singular sport was occasioned (February 18Go) 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 tho officers of the o-arrisou for the entertainment of 
the community in general. But considerable irritation arose 
during the last few months of 1851) 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 the officers of the garrison, after 
making, during the next year's season, another attempt to 
discriminate between uj)per and lower strata of Hongkong 
society, entered, in December, 18G2, into a sort of amalgamation 
with the civilian Amateur Dramatic Corps. This measure 
resulted later on (June 13, 18()4) in the re-construction of the 
old Royal Theatre, a humble matshed structure which by this 
time had fallen into a hopeless ;;tate of dilapidation. A Choral 
Society, a revival of the old Madrigal Society, was formed, in 
1862, at the impulse nnd under the directorship of Mr. C. F. A. 
Sangster and gave its first public concert (July 10, 18G3) 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 wliich the Prussian Minister 
to China, Count Eulenburg, gave (November 28, 18G1) 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, 18C2) with considerable eclat by a magnificent 
public Ball given on board the S.S. Imperatrice. 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 rejoicino- (February 29, 18G4) 
which the news of the birth of the Prince of Wales' first son 

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 witli 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, 186-1-) 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 
Cliina 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, 18()2) a band was formed. In spring, 18G3, a 
rifle corps was added and in December, 18G4, 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 £105 on 
condition of there being at least 75 effective Members of the 
Corps. The A^olunteers made their fii-st festive appearance in 
public on ]6th February, 1803, 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 \ps 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 G and 7, 186S), 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, 18Go. The 
spirit of the Corps increased with its numbers throughout the 
years 18G3 and 18G-1. Subscription cups were frequently shot 
for. A march -out to the Happy Yalley, with firing practice in 
the presence of the Governor and a large assembly (March 8, 
18G1:) and particularly an armed expedition to Macao (November 
19 to 21, 18G1) undertaken in response to a courteous invitation 
by the Portuguese Governor (Isidoro F. Guimaraes), infused 
fresh life into the Corps. On 5th December, 1804, 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 (iiielndino- the Canton detachment) 91, honorary 
members G7, total 2(57 men. The officers of the Corps at this 
time were Major Scott (22nd Regiment), A. Coxon, H. J. Tripp, 
H. Cohen, H. J. Hohnes, 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, ISGO) 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 18G3. Mr. J. Dent 
also stepped in and erected, apart from the Clock Tower, a 
drinking fountain (December 15, 18G3) 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, 18G3) 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 plana 
were exhibited at the Club in October 18G2, 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, 18 G 4). At a public 
meeting (May 19, 18G4) it was stated that a sum of pO,000 
liad been obtained by donations, subscriptions and concerts ; 
•that, a further sum of J)80,000 being required, shares had been 
offered at ^100 each ; that Mr. Kobert Jardine had generously 
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. Kobert 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, 18G1), 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 18G2 at West Point. 
Meanwhile, however, public interest slackened and subscriptions 
ceased flowing in. By the time the building was opened 
(January 31, 18G3) 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 w^as hoped that by the end 
of that time the public would once more come forward and 
maintain tlie 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, 


resnlfced 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 Avere 
erected on the hill side near "West Point. In 18G0 and 180 1 
fche Chinese settlement at Shaukiwan grew largely in importance 
lis 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 (18G2) 
around Douglas Castle, in the vain hope of securing there a 
public health resort. Sir H. Robinson, however, had more 
faith ill the Peak. He had a path cut (December, 1850) 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 18 GO, 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, 18G1) Curator, 
.seeds and plants were procured from Australia and England 
and, on the completion of the work, the Gardens were thrown 
open to the pubHc under certain regulations (August G, 18G4). 
In October, 18G4, the military band commenced giving pro- 
menade concerts in the Public Gardens at stated intervals. It 
was noticed, in 18G4, 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 
shrubberv. ^ 


The literary activities of the Colony were manifested by 
the publication, in Hono-konc(, of Sir T. Wade's Hsin-cbing-lu, 
a work on the Mandarin Dialect (Jniie, 1859), by the issue 
of a Chinese edition of the Daily Press (1860), and especially 
])y 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 18G1) in a 
volume entitled Flora Hongkong ensis and dedicated to Sir 
H. Robinson. A few years later (in 1805), 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. Robinson encountered a 
moderate number of public disasters. A typhoon which passed 
(Augnst 15, 1851)) 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 Avith 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 Avithout causing social altercations 
Avhich 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 


^tlie 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 unnsual occurrence of an extensive 
conflao^ration 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, 1803), the drowning of four deserters from the 
ship Oasis (May 1, 18G3), the drowning (above referred to) 
of 38 Chinese convicts at Stonecutters' Island (July 23, 18(53), 
and the death by suffocation (March 8, 1805) of three soldiers 
engaged in excavating the hillside at Scandal Point. The 
year 1800 was distinguished by the death of four public 
officers, viz. the Harbour Masters Newman and Gunthorpe, the 
Assistant Surveyor (leneral 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, 1803). 

Sir H. Robinson left Hongkong on loth March, 1805, 
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, 1805) and by a Ball given in 
the Theatre Royal by thfc community (March 13, 1805). Among 
the guests was the Duke of Brabant, then crown prince of 
Belgium, a first cousin to Qaeen A^ictoria. 

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 air 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 durins: 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 bead of the different departments ; thac 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 tbe Cape of Good Hope and Griqnalaiid 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 1880, and acted as a Director of the London and 
Westminster Bank (until Marcb, 181)5) when, though an 
octogenarian by this time, he resumed office in South Africa 
to rectify the confusion which had arisen there since his 

^}|=:' t'.f^^fi»- 


The Interregnum of the Hon. W. T. Mercer and 


March 15, 1865, to April 22, 1872. 

j;|FTER the departure of Sir H. Robinson (March 15, 18G5) 
^ there ensued an interregnnin, the government of the Colony 

beino- 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 _£>-rovving stagnation and depression, have been sum- 
marized by Mr. Mercer (May 30, 18G0) in a dispatch published 
by Parliament. He stated, — that the Companies' Ordinance (1 of 
1895) was tlie principal legal enactment of the year (1805), 
next to the series of Ordinances consolidating the criminal 
law for which the Colony was indebted to Judge Bali and Mr. 
Alexander; that the summer of 18G5 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 bub 
that the Superintendent of Police (Ch. May), who condemned 
the proposal of trying once more the Chinese Force, thought 


tliat tlie Indian Police bad nob had a fair trial ; and, finally, 
thafc a deputation of Chinese merchants had urged upon Sir 
Rntlierforth Aleock, H.M. Minister in China, when he passed 
thron^h Hongkony; in autnnin 1865, that the support of H.M. 
Government should be given to Sir M. Stephenson's railway 
sc.'heine (connecting Calcutta with Canton and Hongkong), but 
tliat 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-yii District (E. of 
Ciinton city), carrying on business in Hongkong under the 
name How Hoi-low alim How Yu-teen, was claimed (April 21, 
1800) 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, 1805, the accused was brouglit 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 o, 18i;5) 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 3()th, 
1805, the editor of the Dailtj Press, by his overland issue 
(Trade Report), gave currency to the allegation which had nob 
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 Govei'ument 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 21)th, 1803, 
previous to the surrender of Soochow, this sensational fiction 


found credence In England. The London Standard (July 22^ 
18G5) took it up and the redoubtable Colonel Sykes. M.P., moved 
the House of Commons (February 8, 1860) to ask for the 
production of documents bearing on the subject, which were 
accordingly published (March 20, 1860). 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, 1805), 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, 1805). 

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 lionses 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 AVater- 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 
vvere 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 l)ut 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. 
Kobinsou, they opined, had governed the Colony to please his 
masters in Downing Street and with a view to advance himself 
to a better apjx>intment. And as to Mr. Mercer, everybody 
agreed that he deliberately Met 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 Caesar. 

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. Tlie 
choice of H. M. Governmeut fell (October 4, 1865) ou Sir 
Richard Graves MacDoiinell, an Irishman who had a splendid 
record of varied and long services to recommend him. He had 
•entered Trinity College (Dublin) in 1880, 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 (1810), 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. MaoDonneil next served (1852) 
as Governor of St. Lucia and St. Vincent. In 1855 he was 
created Knight Bachelor and appointed Captain-General and 
(Tovernor-in-chief of South Australi-i, wliich government he held 
^till March, 1802. After serving two years (18G4 and 18G5) as 
Governor of Xova Scotia, Sir Richard was promoted to the Gover- 
norship of Hongkong where he took over, on 11th March, 18()6, 
the reins of office from the Administrator, the Hon. AY. 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 stafi", 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 band while lie silently but deliberately went round, from 
one department to the other, probino- by the most searching 
investioation 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 determiued 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, 
lionestly 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 
18G8 (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. AVhen 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. "VY. "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 natui'e 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 AWert, owned by Kwok Acheung, 
the popular comprador of the P. & 0. Company, was seized by the 
Chinese Customs officers (May 26, 186G) on the ground of her 
resorting to a port on the AVest 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, 3^et he 
obtained the release of the vessel on payment of a fine of $4:000. 
But the spirit and energy which Sir Richard displayed on the 
occasion gained him considerable popularity. He was more 


successful iu the case of the attempt made, in October, 1807, 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, 18G7) 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 Hongkong to deaHngs between Treaty 
ports and Hongkong was energetically taken up and seemingly 
defeated for the time by Sir Richard, before the Chamber of 
Commerce made any move in the matter. 

But the principal tussle Sir Richard had with the Chinese 
Authorities was connected with a much more serious attempt 
made by the Mandarins to ruin the native junk trade of 
Hongkong. About October loth, 1807, the steam-cruizers of 
the Canton Customs, aided by native gun-boats employed by the 
holders of Chinese monopolies at Canton (especially the salt and 
saltpetre farmers), commenced what was thenceforth known as 
the IMockade of Hongkong. These steam-cruizers and gun-boats 
patrolled day and night e^'ery outlet of the harbour and waters 
of Hongkong, boarded and searched every native junk leavino- 
or entering, arrested every junk that had no proper papers and 
levied double duty in the case of goods shipped at Pakhoi or 
Canton for other Treaty ports by junks which en route touched 
at Hongkong. It was a movement which pretended to aim only 
at suppressing smuggling but which, in reality, operated as an 


extra tax on the le,<xitimate junk trade of Hongkono;. It served^ 
indeed, to induce Chinese merchants in Hongkong to conduct 
tlieir sliipping business in foreign bottoms (exempt from this 
blockade) rather than by native junks, but, as foreign vessels 
were excluded from all but Treaty ports, this blockade tended 
to nullify the right of Chinese subjects residing in Hongkong to 
trade, by native junks, with the non-Treaty ports of their own 
country. In fact, this blockade served not only as an efficient 
check on smuggling, but as a simple means of compelling the 
junk trade of the Colony to pay double duty unless conducted 
via the two principal ports of South-China, Pakhoi and Canton. 
And this was the real purport of the measure : to effectually 
subordinate the native commerce of Hongkong to that of Canton 
for the injury of the former and the benefit of the latter port, 
and permanently to neutralise, so far as the junk trade of 
Hongkong was concerned, the freedom of the port. 

It was a clever scheme, this blockade of Hongkong. And 
the credit (or discredit) of having devised and suggested it, 
and demonstrated its justification on the basis of international 
law, to the great delectation of Yiceroy Jui, belongs to the 
British Consul of Canton, Mr. 1). B. Eobertson, on whom, as 
the irony of fate would have it, IF.M. Government bestowed the 
honour of the knighthood. This was meant as a reward for 
his subservience to the short-sighted pro-Chinese policy of the 
Foreign Office,' which Sir Eutherford Alcock initiated in China 
but which in this case served to give to the prestige and 
prosperity of Hongkong the heaviest blow it has ever received 
at the hand of its enemies. 

In the face of the support thus given, by H.M. repre- 
sentatives in China, to the blockade of the port, Sir Richard 
could not do much beyond protesting against a measure which, 
at best, combined siimmum jus with siimma injuria. He ascer- 
tained, however, that the measure, as originally formulated 
(July 1, 1868), aimed at levying, on Chinese shipping resorting 
to Hongkong, a special war-tax, called Li-kin, which amounted in 
the case of opium to taels 16 per chest, and that this Li-kin 



tax was to be collected outside the harbonr of Hon^jkono:, at 
Kapshiiimoon in the west, at Kowlooii city in the north, and 
at Fattanchau, just outside the Lyeemoon in the East. When 
Sir Richard discovered that these blockade stations levied, in 
addition to the fixed tax on opium which he did not object to, 
also undefined duties on goods of all sort (food stuffs excluded) 
when carried by native junks, he pressed the Chinese Authorities 
for a copy of their tariff. But they neither could nor would fix 
a tariff, as various monopolies farmed out and sublet to individual 
were mixed up in the matter with provincial and Imperial 
interests, and as it suited the interests of a corrupt system of 
irregular levies better not to be tied down to a fixed tariff. Sir 
Richard then strengthened his water police force and obtained 
a steam launch, Blanche^ to assist the Colonial junk or gun-boat, 
Victoria, in patrolling the waters of Hongkong to prevent 
trespass. Moreover, he refused to allow any Chinese gun-boat 
or cruizer to anchor in the harbour unless flying a recognized 
official flag. The Chinese Authorities yielded this point and 
adopted first a triangular flag (October, 1868), then provisionally 
a square (March 19, 18G9), and finally a yellow triangular flag 
with the emblem of a flying dragon. 

The interference with the legitimate native trade in foreign 
goods, resulting from the Customs Blockade of Hongkong, 
aroused a considerable commotion in the Colony. A universally 
signed protest, in form of a Memorial to the Secretary of State, 
was presented to the Governor (July 20, 1868). Fresh ex- 
citement arose when it became known (July 24, 1868) that the 
Viceroy of Canton had opened in Hongkong an opium tax station 
in charge of a well-known resident (Ho A-loi) and when a salt, 
revenue station and other oftices, opened in town by the officers 
of the Li-kin stations, were discovered, disclosing a regular 
organisation intended to collect in Hongkong all the various 
taxes demanded at those stations and to issue passes in Hongkong 
under the seal of the Chinese Government. Sir Richard im- 
mediately suppressed every such office that was discovered. On 
February 15th, 1869, the Assistant-Harbourmaster (A. Lister) 



3'eported that ' certain branches of commerce had not yet 
recovered from the panic into which they were thrown by the 
.attempt, in October and November (1868), on the part of the 
Canton Customs to stop the whole trade in foreign goods by 
Chinese bottoms to any other place than Canton/ The Harbour- 
master's report for 1869 shewed a falling off of 2,222 junks, 
equal to 113,252 tons, owing to the blockade. But after a few 
years the Chinese merchants, recognizing the helplessness of the 
case, and the retribution awaiting them if they made any 
•complaints, submitted to these oppressive exactions and found 
it to be to their own interest and convenience to obtain passes 
in town, at the secret taxing offices which continued to flourish 
•on the sly, rather than risk the delay and uncertainty of payments 
made at the outside stations. 

That this blockade scheme aimed at destroying the freedom 
of the port as well as the junk-trade of the Colony, appeared very 
clearly from a proposal, which originated with one of the 
Commissioners of the Chinese Customs Service (Th. Dick), but 
which was sternly rejected by Sir Richard. It was proposed, 
that an export duty should be levied in Hongkong, by a Branch 
of the Chinese Customs Service, upon the opium (and in course 
of time, no doubt, upon all other goods) re-shipped in Hongkong 
by junks, the Colony retaining a certain portion of the revenue 
as commission for so collecting it. The strongest opponent of the 
blockade was the Hon. Ph. Eyrie who, as chairman of the Cham- 
ber of Commerce (September 12, 1871), stated that there could 
be no question as to the illegality of the action taken by the 
Chinese officials which, in point of fact, almost amounted to an 
.act of armed hostility against the Colony. Mr. Ryrie strongly 
protested against the inaction of the Home Authorities in this 
Imperial question. He also caused the publication of a letter 
addressed to the Chamber by Baron de Meritens, formerly a 
Commissioner of the Chinese Customs, stating — that arresting, 
on the high seas, vessels leaving Hongkong was contrary to the 
law of nations, that the Viceroy was acting with reluctance under 
orders sent him from Peking, that Sir Richard's objections 



•continued in all their force, and that tlie appointment of a 
Ohinesc Customs Collector (or Consul) in Hongkong, who would 
certainly act as a spy, would be subversive of the independence 
of the Colony. But in spite of the Governor's opposition to the 
blockade,' and notwithstanding repeated Memorials presented 
to H. M. Government by the community and the Chamber of 
CJommerce, the working of those Chinese blockade stations 
continued and constituted thenceforth a chronic source of 
-discontent ever wrangling in the minds of both native and 
foreign merchants. 

Another important diplomatic question arose in connection 
Avith those Li-kiu stations. In passing through Hongkong 
(December, 18G9, and January, 1870), Sir Rutherford Alcock, 
then H.M. Minister in China, urged the members of the Chamber 
of Commerce to submit to the appointment of a Chinese Consul 
in Hongkong. This measure he declared to be the only satis- 
factory solution of the difficulties standing in the way of a 
fulfilment of the popular desire for an abolition of the Li-kin 
stations in the immediate vicinity of Hongkong, and the only 
means of bringing about a permanent arrangement of commercial 
lelations, between the Hongkong Authorities and the Chinese 
Government, such as would rest on a solid basis of mutual respect 
and reciprocal advantage. Sir R. Alcock, who w^as in this matter 
the innocent dupe of the cunning Viceroy, and who did not 
disguise his monstrous opinion that * Hongkong is confessedly a 
great smuggling depot,' failed to convince the colonists that *the 
appointment of a Chinese Consul in Hongkong would simply 
protect that commerce in the Colony which is legitimate and 
discourage that which is contraband.' The subsequent history of 
•the blockade shewed that Sir R. Alcock had entirely misconceived 
the policy of the Chinese Authorities, who had no intention of 
withdrawing their Customs stations in response to any concession 
whatsoever. Sir R. Alcock's suggestion, made by him after several 
interviews with the Viceroy (December 27 and 29, 1869)', and 
^vith the approval of the latter, that at first a foreign officer of 
Sir R. Hart's staff should be appointed Consul in Hongkong, 


until Chinese officers could be educated in the duties and extent 
of Consular power, did not remove the radical objections which 
the colonists ahnost unanimously entertained against the proposed 
measure. These objections, which Sir R. Alcock denominated 
* fears more or less chimerical and exaggerated,' were embodied 
by the Hongkong community in a Memorial addressed to Earl 
Clarendon (January, 1870), and consisted principally in the 
solemn conviction, entertained by Europeans and Chinese alike, 
that under existing circumstances the power which a Chinese 
Consul would gain over the local Chinese population w^ould 
constitute a veritable imjwrmm in imperio and subject the native 
community to an intolerable system of official espionage and to 
the insatiable rapacity of a corrupt mandarindom. Although 
Earl Clarendon sided with Sir R. Alcock on the main points of 
the dispute, and sanctioned his concluding with the Chinese 
Government a Convention providing for a Chinese Consulate in 
Hongkong, Sir Richard, who strongly supported the Memorial 
of the community, succeeded in convincing H. M. Governmeut 
that the fears of the community were anything but chimerical 
and rested on a solid foundation. Although the blockade was 
never abated, the question of a Chinese Consulate in Hongkong 
remained shelved. 

Another diplomatic question agitated for some time (1807 to 
1870) the mind of the mercantile community. But Sir Richard 
had comparatively little to do with it, as it concerned Sir 
R. Alcock (and since 1870 Sir Th. Wade) and the Foreign 
Office rather than the Government of Hongkong or the Colonial 
Office. This was the question of Treaty Revision which arose 
from a provision contained in Article XXVII. of the Tientsin 
Treaty making the tariff and commercial articles of this 
Treaty (confirmed by the Peking Convention of Ociober 24, 
1860) subject, after the lapse of ten years, to further revision 
at the request of either of the two contracting parties. Sir 
R. Alcock accordingly issued, in spring 1867, to the British 
communities of the Treaty ports in China,, an invitation to 
forward to him, through their respective Consuls, suggestions as 



to tbe proposed rectification of anj deficiencies of the Tientsin 
Treaty. The Hongkong Chamber of Commerce, having received 
a similar invitation, resolved (July 16, 1867) to proceed by 
memorializing the Governor rather than Sir R. Alcock whom, at 
that time already, they knew to be as unfriendly to the interests of 
the Colony as Lord Elgin had been. A Committee, appointed 
by the Chamber, presented accordingly to Sir Richard a Memorial 
■on the illegal transit duties and other exactions imposed by the 
Chinese Authorities, in contravention of the Treaty, on British 
goods en route in the interior of China. In addition to this 
public Memorial, the firm of Jardine, Matheson & Co. presented 
(December, 1869) a separate Memorial dealing very frankly with 
the regulations of the opium traffic and other grievances. When 
it became known, at the close of the year 1869, that the Chinese 
Authorities proposed to include in the revised Ti-eaty Regulations 
a provision to the effect that native produce shipped from 
Hongkong to a Treaty port should not be protected by the clause 
which protected goods, sent inland from Treaty ports, against 
inland taxation, the Chamber of Commerce once more (January, 
1870) memorialized H.M. Government, representing that this 
measure placed Hongkong at a great disadvantage compared with 
Chinese Treaty ports. However, the whole project of Treaty 
Revision had eventually to be dropped. 

In spite of the hostile attitude which the Chinese Govern- 
ment during this period assumed towards the Colony, the Chinese 
Tartar General (Chang Shan), when visiting Hongkong (October 
27, 1871) in one of the blockade cruizers {Ping-chaU'hoi)y 
accompanied by two Commissioners of Customs (E. C. Bowra 
and Viscomte d'Arnaux de Limoges) was most honourably received 
and most hospitably entertained, in the absence of the Governor, 
by the Lieutenant-Governor (W. Whitfield). For the first time 
.^ Chinese gun-vessel saluted, in due foreign style, the port, the 
British flag and the Vice-Admiral (Sir H. Kellett) and received 
the c^orresponding salutes in Hongkong. 

In May, 18G8, Sir Richard, who had no diplomatic cou- 
jiectioiL with any other foreign power, received at tbe hands of 

422 cHAi'TER xrx. 

special Annamesc ambassadors, sent to Hongkong for the purpose,, 
the thanks of the native Government of Cochin-China for his 
humane intervention, made on their behalf with the Government 
of Macao. In May, 1867, it had become known in Hongkong 
that a number of Cochin-Chinese junks, conveying tribute to 
Annam, had been captured by Chinese pirates who sold the 
tribute bearers, with their escort and junk crews, to Macao coolie 
barracoons. Thanks to the intervention of Sir Richard, these 
people were forthwith liberated by the Portuguese Governor- 
(Admiral de Souza) and the Hongkong community readily sub- 
scribed the funds required to send the unfortunate captives back 
to their native country. 

Sir R. MacDonnell did not materially modify or augment 
the organisation of the Civil Service. But, with a view to 
retrenchment, he repeatedly applied, when suitable vacancies 
occurred, the principle of plurality of offices. One characteristic 
of his regime was the preference he invariably gave to those 
Cadets whom he found serviceable for the aims of his vigorous- 
policy and amenable to his austere discipline which required,, 
however, much patience on the part of his subordinates as he 
ruthlessly sent back official reports, to be amended, again and 
again, till they agreed with his views. Another feature of his- 
administration was the increased authority and importance with 
which he invested the Registrar General's office, so long as the 
first of the Cadets (C. C. Smith), who in most things was his 
right-hand man, held that office. The number of Cadets had, 
before his arrival, been increased (August a, 1865), by the 
appointment of Mr. A. Lister and Mr. J. Russell, and they were 
without much delay employed by him to fill important offices, 
the former being sent to the Harbour Office and the latter, who 
also acted as his Private Secretary, to the Magistracy. 

The first popular measure introduced by the Governor was 
a revision of the constitution of the Legislative Council. The 
need for such a revision had made itself felt both by the Colonial 
Office and by the community when the Colonial Treasurer 
(F. H. Forth) had to be censured (March, 1866) under the 



then already existing rules, for having seconded (September 23^ 
1865) a motion of an unofficial Member (Th. Sutherland) to 
the effect that the item of J92,000 for the Military Contribution 
be struck out of the Estimates until the profits of the Mint 
are in excess of the amount required. There being only three 
unofficial against seven official Members in the Council, the 
community argued that, as official Members were thenceforth 
compelled either to resign or to vote in favour of every 
Government measure, the unofficial Members were virtually 
powerless unless the constitution of the Council was modified 
to suit the new rules. On the first opportunity (August 27, 
1869), Sir Richard gave to Mr. Rowett a seat vacated by 
Judge Ball, so that there were then on the Council six officials 
and four members of the community (H. B. Gibb, W. Keswick,. 
J. B. Taylor, R. Rowett) beside the Governor who had, howeveiv 
both an ordinary and a casting vote. 

Sir Richard was at all tim^s well able to keep his Council 
in hand, and the Registrar General (being on the Council in 
some acting capacity or other) ably seconded him in the task> 
Sir Richard was an excellent speaker and keen debater, always 
terribly in earnest and thoroughly master of whatever subject 
he took up, and to this was added the weight of his stern 
personality and a fixed determination to conquer every obstacle. 
He had but one encounter with the unofficial Members when 
they, led by the Hon. W. Keswick (September 30, 1869), boldly 
attacked the Governor's creation of a special savings and excess 
account. They protested against a manipulation of the public 
accounts, seemingly intended to enable the Governor to expend 
public money without the knowledge and consent of the 
Legislature. The Hon. C. C. Smith, then Acting Colonial 
Secretary, argued, however, that so long as money voted by 
the Council was applied to the same kind of object as that for 
which it was oi-iginally intended, it was immaterial whether 
the particular object on which it was spent had been mentioned 
in the vote or not. A few years later, during the absence of 
the Governor, the Hon. Ph. Ryrie entered into a positive 


conflict with the Government. Having heard that an important 
document, bearing on the blockade question, had found its way 
from the office of the nnpopuhir Registrar General (0. C. Smith) 
into the hands of the Chinese Customs officers, Mr. Ryrie 
(September 22, 1871) asked in Council for information on the 
subject. Mr. C. C. Smith, then sitting as Acting Colonial 
Treasurer, treated Mr. Ryrie's remarks as involving a charge 
against himself and retorted with some vehemence. Mr. Keswick 
supported his colleague by criticizing the plurality of the 
Registrar General's functions and demanded that the duties of 
his office should be defined. At the next meeting (October 
18, 1871) the discussion was renewed and some days later the 
Colonial Secretary (J. Gardiner Austin) wrote to Mr. Ryrie, 
formally calling upon him to substantiate his charge against 
the Registrar General. In reply, Mr. Ryrie, who had all alou^* 
contended that he preferred no charge but merely asked for 
information, now demanded that at next Council meeting a 
protest should be heard against the invasion of privilege involved 
in requesting him to explain out of the Conncil room what he 
liad said in it. At the next meeting Mr. Ryrie gave notice 
of his protest but no discussion was allowed. Seeing in tlie 
whole affair an illustration of the old grievance of defective 
representation in Council, the public now stigmatized the action 
<3f the Lieutenant-Governor (W. Whitfield) in deferring the 
debate, jis an unwarrantable attempt to burke free discussion. 
On November 15, 1871, Mr. Ryrie's protest, concerning the 
breach of privilege of which he complained, was read in Council 
and recorded in the minutes. Mr. Ryrie justly contended that 
freedom of speech in Council was absolutely necessary. 

Sir Richard's financial measures were the source of both 
the greatest trouble and the greatest triumph of his adminis- 
tration. For some time before his arrival, the Colony had been 
steadily dropping from a state of comparative affluence into 
a condition of growing insolvency. At the beginning of the 
year 1865, the Treasury accounts shewed a surplus of assets 
(over liabilities) amounting to $298,000. At the commencement 



of the next year (18G6) this surplus was reduced to ^184,000, 
and in January, 1867, there Avas but an imaginary surplus of 
124,000 made up in part by a stock of ^60,000 in unavailable 
coins (bronze cents and mils) which no creditor could have 
been compelled to accept. The Colony was therefore practically 
insolvent. Moreover, the expenditure had for some time gone 
on increasing in proportion as the revenues continued to 
diminish. In the year 1865, during the interregnum of 
Mr. Mercer, the expenditure exceeded the revenue by 894,361, 
and in 1866, when Sir Richard had just stepped in, by ^167,877. 
But now a change came. Sir Richard at once reduced the 
exi>enditure from ^936,954 in the previous year (1866) to 
!$730,916, though not without leaving for a while the Military 
(Jontribution in arrear. At the same time (1867) the revenue 
was permanently raised, by means of Sir Richard's Stamp 
Ordinance, which came into operation afc the close of the year 
(October 9, 1867). Therewith the finances of the Colony began 
to right themselves slowly, though at this very time the 
(jommercial depression, which had made itself felt in 1866, 
had been much aggravated and the tradal interests of the 
('olony were passing through a crisis such as had never before 
occurred in the history of the Colony. The expenditure of the 
year 1867 was kept within the limits of the revenue to the 
extent of $128,584 and next year (1868) to the extent of 
$142,794, though in the latter year all the ari*ears of the Military 
Contribution were paid off. The revenue of the year 1868 
amounted to the astounding sum of $1,134,105 and yielded, 
as the expenditure stood at $991,811, a surplus of $140,000. 
Instead of rejoicing over this result, the mercantile community, 
engulfed at the time in a slough of despond, expressed great 
dissatisfaction at the heaviness of the taxation and pointed with 
groans to the yield of the Stamp Ordinance which had taken 
$101,000 out of the pockets of the- merchants in that one year. 
The revenue of 1869 shewed an apparent decrease of £43,811 
{IS compared with 1868, but in reality there was some increase, 
as credit wa« errqueously taken in 1868 for £55,660 gambling 


revenue which had to be refunded. In 1870 the revenue 
decreased sHghtly (by £1,791) and somewhat more in 1871 
(by £14,711). But Sir Richard could boast of having so- 
regulated the finances, that, during a period of unexampled 
commercial disasters in China, the Colony emerged from a state 
of insolvency to one of assured financial stability, without leaving 
a single claim unsatisfied or borrowing a fraction from the 
Special Fund which had unavoidably accrued from the gambling 

It has already been shewn that this financial success was 
achieved principally by means of the Stamp Ordinance (12 of 
1866). When Sir Richard first announced (August, 1866) his 
intention of introducing a Stamp Act, the foreign community 
seemed to be rather at a loss, at first, what to think of the 
measure. But when the second reading of the Bill was carried in 
Council (September, 1866), one local paper {China Mail) boldly 
supported the principle of the Bill, whilst another paper {Daily 
Press) opposed it and complained that the Bill was hurried 
through whilst the unofficial Members of Council were ignorant of 
its contents and bearings. A public meeting was held (September, 
1866) and, in pursuance of the resolutions passed, a Memorial 
protesting against the confirmation of the proposed Ordinance 
was accordingly signed by almost every firm in the Colony. 
The principal objections which the foreign community had 
against the Bill consisted in the following allegations. (1) that 
stamps would seriously obstruct commerce, a surmise which 
subsequently proved unfounded; (2) that the measure was of 
such an expansive character as to encourage extravagance on 
the part of the Government, an imputation born of distrust 
which subsequent events contradicted ; (3) that the incidence 
of this form of taxation would fall principally on foreign 
commerce, whilst the Chinese would manage to evade it. The 
force of this latter allegation, which appears to have been a 
correct forecast of the subsequent working of the Stamp 
Ordinance, was enhanced by the statement, which was made in 
a public paper at the time, that, as. things then stood, the 


Chinese community were taxed ^4 per head, and the British 
and foreign community ^250 per head. Although Sir Richard 
willingly modified details of the Bill to meet minor objections 
of the community, he failed to give satisfaction, as a stronjr 
majority of the public objected to the Bill in toto. A second 
public meeting was held, resulting in the presentation of another 
Memorial condemnatory of the whole measure. When it was 
announced (early in March, 1867) that H. M. Government 
had ratified the Bill, the temper of the community was aroused 
and Sir Richard was publicly accused (March 15, 1867) of 
having induced Lord Carnarvon to believe that the Governor's^ 
arguments had reconciled the community to an impost which, 
ill reality, was all but unanimously felt to be deeply injurious 
to the true interests of the Colony. However, by the time the 
Stamp Ordinance came into operation (October 9, 1867), the 
feeling of the community, though maintaining strong objections 
to the measure and subsequently re-iterating its condemnation 
of it by another public meeting (March 17, 1868), had changedy 
so far as the Governor's connection with the Ordinance was 
concerned. It was then generally believed that the Stamp 
Ordinance would never have been brought into operation if 
the Governor had been allowed free hand in his dealing with 
the gambling problem, and that the determination of H. M. 
Government to insist, in spite of all arguments and remon- 
strances, upon the payment of the Military Contribution, had 
made the enforcement of the Stamp Ordinance a matter of 
sheer necessity. By order of Sir Richard, several prosecutions 
were instituted with a view to compel the Chinese population 
to comply, in some measure, with the provisions of the Stamp 
Ordinance. These prosecutions, however, served only to 
invigorate the general dissatisfaction felt with the working of 
this measure. With the exception of receipts to be given to- 
foreigners, Chinese tradesmen and merchants disregarded the 
Ordinance and stamped commercial documents only in cases in 
which they apprehended the possibility of litigation. Anxious 
to improve the working of the Ordinance, Sir Richard appointed 


(March, 1868) a Commission and invited the piibhc to bring 
before that Commission their complaints against the operation 
of the Ordinance and suggestions for its improvement. The 
Chamber of Commerce accordingly passed (April, 1868) a series 
of resolutions which Avere forwarded to the Commissioners. In 
pursuance of their recommendations, the Stamp Ordinance was 
.subsequently amended (May 23, and November 21, 1868) and 
the community, finding eventually that the Ordinance did not 
materially injure the prosperity of the trade of the Colony, 
became in course of time reconciled with this measure which 
has ever since proved to be one of the most important sources 
of revenue. 

It is necessary in this connection to refer to the measures 
adopted by Sir Richard for the regulation of Chinese gambling 
houses, as these measures, though originally projected rather 
as a solution of an intricate social prol»lem and as a preventive 
•of corruption in the Police Force, resulted in a considerable 
augmentation of the Colony's temporary and special revenues. 
The administration of Sir R. MacDonnell is, indeed, specially 
distinguished by the fearless attempt he made, in bold defiance 
of public opinion and official restraints, to solve the problem, 
which had troubled all his predecessors in office, connected with 
the well-known Chinese mania for gambling. This national 
vice, like opium smoking and prostitution, but more wide- 
spread and powerful than either, is rooted in an ineradicable, 
because congenital, disease of the Chinese social organism. 
Sir Richard was quite right in stating that the passion for 
gambling, as observed in European nations, is nothing compared 
with the same craving as it appeai-s among all classes of Chinese, 
and that in Hongkong it presents, through the corruption of 
the Police Force, necessarily resulting from a legal prohibition 
■of it, a problem which it is easy to ignore but, for a Governor, 
imperative to solve in some form or other. It has been 
mentioned above that Sir J. Bowring, the first Governor who 
recognized the importance of the problem, proposed to deal 
with it by licensing, as in Macao, a few gaming houses and 


enlisting thereby the interests of the licensees in the suppi'ession 
of all unlicensed houses. From a remark in one of Sir Richard's 
dispatches, it would seem that Sir H. Robinson shared the views 
of Sir J. Bowring. But neither of them succeeded in obtaining 
the sanction of H. M. Government for so daring an innovation. 
Sir R. MacDonnell, before resorting to this policy which he 
knew to be not only repugnant to the feelings of H. M. 
Government and condemned by several successive Secretaries 
of State, but likely to arouse strong opposition on the part of 
public opinion in England, did his very best, while sounding 
the Colonial Office on the subject of licensing, to purify the 
police and to suppress all gambling houses by the strongest 
measures of discipline and legislation. As soon as he had, 
by personal investigation, ascertained the seriousness and extent 
of the evil, and the nature of the difficulties which stood in 
the way of its abatement, he set to work to weed the Police 
Force of its suspects and to inspire the remainder with a whole- 
some terror of his determination to bring to book every defaulter. 
For a time the corrupt member's of the Force dared not take 
bribes and the keepers of gambling houses curtailed their 
operations and redoubled their precautions. Sir Richard soon 
added legislative to his executive and detective measures. He 
had not been many months in the Colony, l)efore he introduced 
an amended Registration Ordinance (7 of 18(56) with many 
novel and important provisions. Amongst them was the 
application of the principle of vicarious responsibility, making 
registered householders responsible for the payment of fines 
incurred by residents or lodgers in houses for certain offences, 
more especially gambling, but giving householders a remedy 
over against the original offenders if they could catch them. 
The Chinese householders considered this essentially Chinese 
principle a great hardship, and the managers of gambling 
associations were so driven into a corner that they offered the 
Governor first ^200,000 and then ^365,000 per annuM for a 
licence to open a limited number of gaming houses. They 
shewed thereby what an immense sum they could afford to 


Spend ou bribing the Police if measures of repression were con- 
tinued. Sir Richard, however, continued his poHcy of repression 
which at first seemed so effective that, on January 7, 1867, he 
reported to the Earl of Carnarvon, that the Police Force was 
greatly improved, that crime was more rare than it had ever 
been, that a prospect was beginning to open of almost 
suppressing gambling, that gambling was already diminished 
to less than one-fifth of the amount at which he had found it, 
that for many weeks past none of the Police had received any 
regular allowances from the gambling societies, but that street 
gambling still continued, and that, unless the Police continued 
their vigilance, the evil would again break out as before. 
But hardly had a week passed, after this roseate report was 
dispatched, when circumstances came to his knowledge which 
caused him to report (January 14, 1867) that the progress 
made by the Police in suppressing gambling was not so great 
as he had thought. Three months later (April 29, 18G7), 
he had further to report that circumstances had led to a partial 
renewal of the old demoralisation among the Police. On May 9, 
1867, Sir Richard found that he had come to the end of his 
resources and that he had failed. On that day he informed 
the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, that he now saw no 
reasonable grounds for expecting that the Government could 
•ever succeed in suppressing gambling in Hongkong and that 
the present mode of dealing with it (by prohibition) is destructive 
■of the morals of the Police and ineffective for the purpose sought. 
Sir Richard now determined to try the system of licensing 
a small number of gaming houses with a view to control gambling 
and suppress it by degrees. He had thought of it before. As 
early as August, 1866, he had privately sounded the Members 
of Council with regard to the draft of an Ordinance (8 of 1866) 
-entitled ' for the maintenance of order and cleanliness ' but con- 
taining provisions for the regulation (i.e. 'Hcensing) of gaming 
houses, which, he hoped, would obviate the necessity of resorting 
to the Stamp Ordinance then under discussion. This was the 
bait offered to the unofficial Members of Council. By their 


taking it, fchej were deprived of theii* freedom of action in 
relation to both Ordinances. On 28tli August, 1866, Sir Richard, 
in forwarding to the Earl of Carnarvon the draft of Ordinance 
8 of 1866 (for the maintenance of order and cleanliness), 
proposed that the Governor in Council should be authorized 'to 
adopt a system hitherto discountenanced by H.M. Crovernment 
and derive a large revenue from the alteration.' He added that 
*the Members of Council all advocate such change of system 
both as a police and a revenue measure.' Instead of sending to 
the Governor the reply which had been given to Sir J. Bowring 
when he made the same proposal, the Earl of Carnarvon, 
admitting that the case of Hongkong was peculiar and justified 
exceptional measures, approved of Sir Richard's proposal of 
bringing a limited number of gaming houses under the control 
of the police, by licensing them, with a view to the eventual 
suppression of all gambling. He added, however, one all- 
important, and to Sir Richard disastrous, condition, viz. that 
the licence fees must not be farmed out but treated as matters 
of police and by no means as revenue. Sir Richard forthwith 
.set to work to remove or circumvent this condition, not 
because revenue was his real object but because the Chinese 
farmers of the gaming licence would, if paying a heavy 
fee, be compelled by their own interests to form a detective 
police for the suppression of all unlicensed gambling, and these 
detectives would then co-operate with the Police Force for the 
arrest and detention of dangerous characters who flock to 
gambling houses as moths to the light. Accordingly he informed 
the Earl of Carnarvon (January 14, 1867) that it would be 
impossible to proceed by any other modfl than farming the licence 
for establishing gaming houses, because in no other way could 
the Government secure Chinese co-operation, and he suggested 
to leave to the Governor in Council a discretion to exercise his 
powers under the Ordinance as circumstances might render 
expedient. As regards the financial aspects of the measure, 
which were so distasteful to H. M. Government, he further 
stated (May 9, 1867) that any pecuniary advantage, which the 


Colony might derive from the change, ought not for a moment 
be regarded as his motive for introducing it, but that a sum 
exceeding ^200,000 pei' annum could easily be derived from 
that source, and, if the Mint were closed, the Colony would then 
be able to resume payment of its Military Contribution and also 
to dispense with the Stamp Act. 

Meanwhile, however, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos 
had succeeded to the Earl of Carnarvon, and he, while fully 
concurring in his predecessor's instructions, abstained from 
entering into any discussion of the Governor's arguments, gave 
no discretionary power to the Governor such as he sought, and 
expressly declined (April 1, 18G7) to sanction the farming system. 
Subsequently he specified (July 18, 1867) that the licence fees 
should be limited to an amount covering police arrangements 
connected with the system. It was on this basis that the Duke 
informed Sir Eichard (August 28, 1867) that Her Majesty had 
graciously confirmed and allowed the proposed Ordinance (8 of 
1866, now re-enacted as 9 of 1867) for the maintenance of order 
and cleanliness. 

Now it must be pointed out that, up to July, 1867, the 
Hongkong community, though well aware that the Governor 
had energetically attempted to suppress gambling and to purge 
out corruption in the Police Force and that he had failed, knew 
nothing of the Governor's secret discussions with his Council 
nor of the sanction given by the Earl of Carnarvon and by the 
Duke of Buckingham to the proposed licensing of gaming 
houses. Moreover, those paragraphs of Ordinance 9 of 1867 
which gave the Governor power to make regulations for 'the 
better limitation and control of gambling ' were so worded that 
the uninitiated reader would not suspect, what the Council and 
the Secretary of State well knew, viz., that gambling was to be 
regulated and suppressed, by licensing it, under this Ordinance. 

As soon as Sir Eichard learned by telegraph that Ordinance 
9 of 1867 would be confirmed, he disclosed his scheme (July 10, 
1867) to the public, arranged forthwith the licensing of eleven 
gaming houses (afterwards increased to sixteen) and opened 


tliem oil 15tli September, 1807. The revenue from tlie licences-, 
distasteful to tlie Governor himself but an indispensable 
concomitant of bis scheme, had to be seo^regated, by order of 
H.M. Government, in a distinct Sj^ecial Fund, which amounted 
to ^155,000 on 23rd May, 18G8, to"g221,73a on 28th June,. 
18G1), and to $277, 'dU on 3 1st December, 1861). The" 
Govei'nment piming- houses were at first open to all except 
women, but forei^-ners were not allowed to play. After some 
time, none but Chinese and Malays were admitted (July 27, 
1808). Then it became expedient to exclude Chinese servants, 
shroffs, cashiers and bill collectors (September IG, 18G8). Sir 
Richard closely watched the returns of crime and honestly 
believed that his system, of providing a vent for the irrepressible 
Chinese passion for gambling, was steadily reducing crime in the 
Colony. Numbers of dangerous chai'acters, long wanted by 
the police or released from gaol and deported on condition of 
their never returning to the Colony, were arrested at the gaming 
houses. He reported (March G, ]8G()) that the good results of 
the licensing system included complete extinction of improper 
relations between the police and the gambling societies, extra- 
ordinary diminution of theft among servants, and effectual aid 
given by the licensees in apprehending dangerous characters. 
He also demonstrated by statistics that a general diminution of 
crime had taken place in the Colony since the opening of the 
gaming houses. 

The first disclosure of this remarkable scheme (July 10, 
18G7) took the whole Colony by surprise. The few Members of 
Council, who had been initiated into the secret, had kept the 
secret faithfully from the public whom they were supposed to 
represent. Sir Richard reported (July 20, 18G7) that the new 
arrangement had met with the general if not unanimous concur- 
rence of the community, with the exception of * a few gentlemen 
of the clerical profession who felt it their duty to protest.' As 
to the unofficial Members of Council, Sir Richard stated (October 
15, 18G7) that Hhe testimony of every one of them had from the 
first been in favour of the measure with the exception of oi^e 



xicbing Member' (F. P.-iny). The principal opponeufc of the 
measure Avas the Rev. F. S. Turner, of the London Mission, who 
wrote some stirrinj^ letters to the papers, published a pamphlet 
for distribution in England, and induced four other missionaries 
(Ch. J. Warren, J. Piper, E. Lechler, J. Loercher) and the 
Minister of Union Church (I). B. Morris) to join in the 
(jrusade. These objectors, thenceforth known as ' the moral six,' 
presented to .the Governor (July 24, 1867) a brief Memorial, 
complaining that the measure had been introduced in an under- 
hand and un-English way, and that it was calculated to lead to 
a large increase of gambling. The Memorialists further alleged 
that the measure was objectionable to a lai'ge section of the 
€hinese community, and illegal by both British and Chinese law. 
They finally averred that the Government had no right to coun- 
tenance and sanction vice. The Registrar General (C. C. Smith) 
had to do his best, by means of a contemptuous reply he sent 
to the missionaries in the Governor's name, to refute their 
arguments. He also wrote reports supporting the Governor's 
•contention that the system had produced good results and gained 
the approval of the Chinese community. Sir Richard attributed 
at first no importance to the opposition of the missionaries, and 
the Duke of Buckingham also declined (September 26, 1867) 
to express any opinion on their Memorial, merely asking the 
Governor to report more fully. But the moral six, undismayed 
by the apathy of the community and the Secretary of State, 
appealed to the home country in a manner which speedily 
influenced the British press, re-echoed in Parliament and caused 
Sir Richard to complain (January 30, 1868) that those clerical 
gentlemen had elsewhere gone the length of enforcing their 
reasoning by designating him Anti-Christ and accusing him 
of wilful untruthfulness. Subsequently, when public opinion in 
Hongkong also commenced to turn against his scheme (May 23, 
1868), Sir Richard at last combatted the position of the moral 
six as that of a lazy and easily satisfie<l morality which folds its 
arms and, while doing nothing to repress acknowledged evils 
and nurseries of crime, cries out against the Government 


attempting at least to control the evil which cannot be repressed, 
arguing that the Government is bound rather to ignore the 
existence of the vice than to control what is irrepressible. There 
was much truth in this remark. 

Meanwhile, however, the protest of the moral six had 
aroused public opinion at home, stirred up the Social Science 
Association and made itself heard in the only place where 
'Colonial protests, if basel on a genuine grievance, produce a 
tangible effect, viz. in Parliament. As to the action of the 
Social Science Association little need be said. That Society 
disgraced itself in the matter by becoming the unconscious 
tool of the two men who, in Sir J. Bowring's time, had poisoned 
the social life of the Colony, viz. the former Attorney General 
and the former editor of the Daily Press. These two men, 
having learned that the victim of their animosities, the Registrar 
General of Sir J. Bowring's time, was the officially recognized 
<agent and adviser of the licensees in Hongkong, receiving from 
them a handsome salary (|!20,000 during the first year), managed 
to renew their persecution by assailing Sir Richard's policy under 
'the aegis of the Social Scien(^e Association. At an interview 
which Earl Granville granted (March 27, 18C9) to a deputation 
uof that Society, the former Attorney General, who actually 
introduced the deputation, and the former editor of the Daihf 
Press were the principal speaker's. They suggested, as if Sir 
Richard had not tried this very principle and failed, that the 
-only way to enforce any laws against gambling houses was by 
enforcing the Chinese laws of collective and mutual responsibility 
by means of the tithing (Kap) and the hundred (Pao), insti- 
tutions which had been recognized by the Hongkong Legislature 
in Ordinances passed between the yeai-s 1844 and 1857, but 
never put into execution. However, this interview and the 
several Memorials presented by the Secretaries of the Association 
(August 1, 18G8, and January 14, 1869), as also Sir Richard's 
official reply (October 20, 18G8) which the Secretary of State 
declined to forward, as immaterial, had no effect whatever. The 
remarks of the Duke of Buckingham on the subject are rather 


instructive as to the importance which the Colonial Office 
generally attaches to ^lemorials. He told Sir Richard (December 
S, 18G8) that, though he might properly defend himself and 
his Government from accusations made in Parliament, or which 
have been officially made, it was hardly necessary for him to do 
so in the case of a private Society. 

As to the parliamentai'y debates on tlie subject of the 
Hongkong gambling houses, they did not contribute any real 
help towards a better solution of the important social problem, 
involved. For a general understanding of Sir Richard's dis- 
interested effort to seek a solution of it, even at the risk of the 
bitterest obloquy, it was rather helpful that the official documents,, 
bearing on the whole question, from the time of Sir J. Bowring 
down to Sir Richard's latest dispatch, were printed and p\iblished 
(June 15, 1SG8 and August '.), 1809) at the request of Parliament. 

The only serious difficulties which Sir Richard encountered 
arose out of his relations with the successive Secretaries of State. 
Shortly after Sir Richard had opened licensed gaming houses, 
the Duke of Buckingham expressed his surprise (October 14, 
1867) that reports were reaching him from several quarters to the 
effect that the licence fees were being made a source of revenue. 
That the Duke had imperfectly understood Sir Richard's i3olicy. 
appeared clearly from a statement which he made in the House 
of Lords when he said (December 3, 18G7) that 'Sir Richard 
did not propose to put gambling houses down but to obtain ti 
large revenue from them and to extirpate the evil in a very short 
time.' Sir Richard had to explain his aims more fully, but when 
the Duke, who was about to vacate his office, at last grasped 
the real drift of Sir Richard's policy, he used rather -strong 
language (December 2, 1808), expressed his 'entire disapproval of 
the proceedings' and threatened ' to stop the licensing altogether.' 
Sir Richard naturally considered himself unfairly treated and. 
in writing to the Duke's successor (Earl Granville), referred 
(March G, 1869) to the Duke's dispatch as containing ' sweeping 
comments which implied a general censure on the Hongkong 
Government.' But this made matters worse. Earl Granville 



now, Htandino- uj) for liis pvecTccessor, censured Sir Eicliard (May 
1, 180*.)) for the peculiarly unbecoming tone of his remarks. The 
embrog-lio became intensified when Earl Granville complained 
(October 7, 18(11)), in view of Sir Richard's independence of 
action, that the clearest instructions addressed to him seemed 
insufficient to jn'cvent misunderstanding, and actually threatened 
♦Sir Richard by saying (October 8, 18G0) that he would view very 
:seriously any further attempt to escape from a strict execution 
of his instructions. Later on (January 7, 1870) Earl Granville 
again censured Sir Richard for unwarrantably assuming that he 
(the Secretary of State) would sanction the proposal to charge 
against the Special Fund all expenditure of the Colony on police 
and education in excess of a fixed normal standard. The Gover- 
nor was sternly ordered to r(ipay into the Special Fund all 
unauthorized appropriations, amounting to |1 29,701, and was 
compelled thereby to sell the Colonial gun-boat and to devise 
other forms of retrenchment to the great dismay of the Colony. 

The differences between Sir Richard and his superiors in 
Downing Street admitted of no compromise and his whole scheme 
was Avrecked thereby. He had thought only of securing the 
<.*o-operation of the Chinese licensees to suppress crime and to 
prevent the corruption of the police. They had been thinking 
only of their inability to defend in Parliament the raising of any 
revenue from vice. What Sir Richard fought for, was the farming 
system. What they objected to, was the raising of a revenue. 
' Let the money be thrown into the sea as soon as it is paid, but 
do not let the hold which it gives the Government over the 
licensees be abandoned.' These words, addressed by Sir Richard 
to the Duke of Buckingham (January 30, 1808), contain the true 
key to an understanding of his policy. But, although in truth 
the raising of a revenue and not the use of it was the backbone 
of his scheme, yet the mere raising of a revenue from vice was 
the exact point in which the Earl of Carnarvon, the Duke of 
Buckingham and Earl Granville saw the real gravamen of the 
•charges brought against Sir Richard by the opponents of his 
scheme. Moreover, having once raised a reveaue from the 


gaming houses, Sir Richard did not throw the money into the 
sea, nor would he meekly submit, when oixlered to segregate it in 
the Special Fund, and keep his hands off it. On the contrary,, 
having deliberately deviated from his instructions by farming 
out the licences, he persistently sought to wring from the Author- 
ities in Downing Street admissions which, when read in the 
light of his suggestions, which often were left uncontradicted,, 
seemed to sanction the application of the gambling revenue 
to all sorts of purposes such as served to ameliorate the condition 
of the Chinese population. It was this persistent determination, 
to have his own way in dealing with the Special Fund, that 
irritated his suj:)eriors and produced the above mentioned mutual 

When his relations with the Colonial Office became thus 
positively strained. Sir Richard's one desire was 'finality and 
positive explicitness of instructions' (March 7, 1870). His health 
was worn out by the struggle. Accordingly he decided to avail 
himself of the sick-leave he had obtained and i-eturned, by way 
of Japan and San Francisco, to Europe in order to make, in 
personal conference with the Secretary of State, a final effort to- 
save his measure from failure (April 12, 1870). 

As soon as he had left the Colony, the revulsion of public 
feeling which, since 1868, had gradually turned against Sir 
Richard's policy, gathered strength for a general condemnation 
of it. As early as April 2, 18G8, some of the leading merchants- 
(Ph. Ryrie, J. B. Taylor, E. A. Hitchcoek, R. Rowett, J. Lapraik), 
who had originally favoured tlie Governor's scheme, publicl}- 
stated, at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, that the 
system was working an incalculable amount of harm, and that 
the principal Chinese merchants were of the same opinion. 
Nothing further, however, came of this movement. But when 
the Governor had departed, the Chief Justice (J. Smale) com- 
menced to denounce the Governor's policy from the Bench. He 
finally formulated his complaints in communications addressed 
to the Colonial Secretary (August 8, 1870, and February 10, 
1871), alleging that the severe enactments passed by Parliament 


since 1843 -liad never been made law iu the Colony; that withiit 
the years 1807 and 1808 over |10,674,74() had been staked and 
lost at the Government gaming houses ; that, instead of decreasing 
gambling, the Government measure had greatly increased the 
vice ; that it caused and fostered very serious crimes and that 
suicides had been traced to it ; that a tone of dishonesty had been 
engendered by the gaming houses in petty tradesmen and that 
this tone had demoralised the police : that as gambling is a crime 
in China as well as in England, the actual licensing of it lowers 
the prestige of the British Government in China. The Chief 
Justice submitted also a draft Bill for the repression of gambling, 
but the Attorney General (J. Pauncefote) considered 11 so severe 
that no person in the Colony would be safe from its terrible pains 
and penalties. The Lieutenant-Governor (H. AV. ^Vhitfield) 
also took sides with the opponents of Sir Richard's measure. He 
was anxious to close the gambling houses and frankly told Earl 
Kimberley so (August 20, 1870). He explained that, as their 
maintenance failed, in his opinion, to check crime, he saw no- 
reason why the Colony should have all the odium of a pernicious 
system attached to it, whilst it was debarred from the application 
of the accruing funds which would be of lasting benefit to public 
institutions generally and more especially to those connected 
with the Chinese. Inferring from the tenor of the entire cor- 
respondence with the Colonial Office, that no more acceptable 
action could be taken in the Colony than to put a stop to the 
legalisation of public gambling, Mapr-General Whitfield took 
it upon himself, with the approval of the Executive Council, to 
give notice (August 17, 1870) to the licensees of his intention to 
close the gaming houses on 1st January, 1871. In Hongkong 
every one thought the matter settled. But the Earl of Kimberley 
telegraphically countermanded this measure and informed the 
gallant General that an officer in temporary administration of 
the Government should not take upon himself to depart, without 
express directions from the Secretary of State, from the policy 
of the Governor whose place he occupies. Accordingly, the 
licensing system continued for another year, the monopoly beings 


sold I)}' uiKition (January 12,1871) for ^15,000 a month. Bnb 
tiiis roused the commnniby to make a new effort. Believintr 
that licensed ^.-amhling was affectinu" the Colony injuriously, that 
none of the boasted decrease of crime was attributable to the 
licensins; system, and that the l^olice Force was quite competent 
to rej)ress gamblinfr so far that it could only be carrie;! on in 
secret haunts, but ignorino- the corruption of the police arising 
from such action, the Chamber of Commerce sent in a Memorial 
to the Secretary of State (January 10, 1871) praying that the 
licensing system be discontinued. In addition to this official 
document, signed by the Chairman (Ph. Ryrie), Vice-Chairman 
<;A. Limeneen) and Secretary (N. Blakeman) and endorsed by 
40 Members, Dr. Legge and Mr. David Welsh presented a further 
Memorial, bearing olO signatures and representing every chiss of 
society, to express the community's protest ngainst Sir Richard's 
scheme. Even the Chinese community, well knowing that the 
Registrar General (C. C. Smith) was the strongest supporter 
and defender of the system, presented, him with a Memorial 
strongly condemning it. These popular demonstrations were 
immediately followed up by the Chief Justice with a judicial 
declaration (February, 1871) to the effect that, in the absence 
of a special Ordinance, the licensing of gaming houses in the 
Colony was illegal. More effectual was a renewal of the agitation 
in England, when the House of Commons, at the motion of 
Mr. Bowring, asked (March 31, 1871) for the production of 
further d(»cnments on the gambling house licensing system, 
Avhich were accordingly published (July 24, 1871). To all the 
Memorials of the people of Hongkong the Earl of Kimberley re- 
turned the laconic reply that, on the return of Sir R. MacDonnell 
to the Colony, instructions would be given him to consider the 
whole matter with a view to the termination of the system of 
licensing gaming houses. Sir Richard's fight was over. The 
battle was lost. But, though the system was abandoned im- 
mediately after th^ Governor's return (December 8, 1871), no 
positive gain resulted from the abolition of the gaming houses. 
G#-mbling and police corruption continued thenceforth unchecked. 


The (iovernnienb thereafter simply io;iiored the problcin which 
is still waitino- for a master hand to solve it. 

Allusion has alreidy been made to another, exclnsively 
finan(;ial, (jnestion which also tronhled Sir Richard's adminis- 
tration as a leoacy of the past, viz. the Mint establislied by his 
predecessor, Sir H. llobinson. When the Mint was first opened 
(April 7, ISOO), it had already cost ^00,000. and an additional 
annual expenditure of |70,000 was required for its maintenance, 
at a time when the Colony was virtually insolvent. An unusually 
low rate of exchano;e told at once unfavourably ao^ainst the 
Flint's prospects. The Chinese were prejudiced against the new 
dollar by the false rumour that chopping the Queen's coin would 
involve liability to criminal procedure. Hence the local demand 
for minting operations was so small that it appeared to the 
(Jovernor to be incommensurate with the working expenditure 
of the establishment. The Mint actually eai'ned from May, 
18<)G, to February, 180S, only about ^'20,000 in seignorage. 
Sir Ricliard, foreseeing this unsatisfactory result and pressed by 
hnnncial difficulties, appointed a Commission (October, 1800) 
to inquire into the working of the Mint. The report presented 
by tlie Commissioners (January 1, 1807) was greatly discour- 
aging, as they merely recommended to keep the Mint open 
for twelve months longer on the ground that the arrangements 
made with the Mint staff, regarding compensation in the event 
of the establishment being broken up, would anyhow make it 
just as expensive for the Colony to close the Mint at once 
as to keep it at work for another year. Six months later 
(August, 18G7) when the Legislative Council considered the 
estimates of the Colony, it was considered necessary to reduce 
the estimate of seignorage, likely to accrue from the Mint in 
J8G8, from $40,000 to Jll 5,000. The Lords of the Treasury 
were consulted as to the advisability of continuing the working 
of the Mint under these circumstances, and in February, 1808, 
Sir Richard received, by telegram, authority to close it.' All 
the Bank managers were invited to attend a meeting of the 
Executive Council and to advise the Government as to the 


continuance of the Mint under some arrangement or other. But 
they had neither encouragement nor advice to offer. Sir Richard 
then (March, 18G8) sought to move the local Banks to take over 
the Mint and to work it for their own profit under Government 
supervision. The terms proposed by one Bank, which alone 
made an offer, did not come up to the Governor's expectations. 
Accordingly the Mint was closed, the machinery sold (June, 
18G8) for ^0(1,000 to the Japanese Government, and the buildings 
and ground were disposed of, for the purposes of a sugar refinery, 
to Jardine, Matheson & Co., for ^05,000. The Colony realized 
thus a total of ^12.'), 000 as the result of an outlay which, even 
three years before, amounted to half a million dollars. 

It could not be ex|xjcted that an administration so crippled 
in respect of funds would do much in the sphere of public works. 
Sir Richard displayed in this respect also his energy and readiness 
of resource and did what was possible under the circumstances. 
He secured the erection of several new police stations and had 
all police establishments on the Island connected by telegraph 
lines. He had hoped to be allowed to draw on the Special Fund 
for this expenditure as well as for the fitting out of n steam- 
gunboat, but permission was refused, and the cost of tliese 
undertakings had to be provided from the ordinary revenue. 
He had been anxious to erect a new Hospital and a new Court 
Houie, but the funds at his disposal, over-strained by the Military 
Contribution, had to be husbanded to supply the most pressing 
needs of repairs of public buildings, .mads and bridges, and 
water-works. During the year 18Gt), the Governor spent £.30,050 
on public works, and nearly half of that sum was devoted to 
water-works. On I7th September, 1800, he stated that a further 
sum of £10,G00 was required for the extension of the Pokfulam 
reservoir and for repairs of the dam, but that the work was only 
half completed. He explained, that the original estimate of 
the. work was $100,000, whereas it would now cost double, and 
that the history of these water-works shewed how heavily the 
Colony may lose, when attempting the most necessary public 
works, by the incompetence of its employees, and how seldom the- 


thp: administration of sir R. iG. MacDONNEIJ.. 443- 

most obvious deficiencies of such jXirsoiis can restrain tliem from 
projecting schemes beyond their strength. For these reasons. 
Sir Richard had obtained from England the services of a specially 
competent engineer (T. Kydd) who acted as Superintendent of 
Water-works and would have i-e-constructcd also the Praya wall, 
if the marine-lot holders had not proved so obstreperous. A 
tyj^hoon having ilemolished the frail Praya wall (August 8, 18<)7), 
Sir Richard determined to rebuild the whole Praya in a substan- 
tial manner. But unfortunately he encountered, on the part of 
the lot-holders, the same unflinching opposition which defeated 
the efforts of his predecessors, Sir J. Bo wring and Sir H. Robinson. 
Sir Richard nevertheless renewed the combat. As the Military 
Contribution absorbed available funds, he informed the lot-holdere 
concerned in the ruins of the Praya, that they must contribute 
a fair and reasonable proportion towards the cost of rebuilding 
the sea-wall of their respective lots. When they refused this 
request, he invited them to a conference with tlie Colonial 
Secretary (C. C. Smith), who informed them (November 2, 
18G7) that the Attorney General had given an opinion to the 
effect that each lot-holder was, by virtue of the wording of his 
lease, under a legal liability to provide for the maintenance of 
the sea-wall. The lot-holders, wiio previous to the conference 
liad agreed (October 29, 18G7) to resist the demand and came 
armed with legal opinions, contended that the clause in question 
had reference to roads, drains, &c. within their respective lots and> 
not to the Praya wall; that, when the first sea-wall was built, 
they had paid the expenses on the distinct understanding that 
the subsequent maintenance was to be a burden on the Colony ; 
that they were not answerable for the defective condition of the 
wall nor bound to repair it. The conference broke up in con- 
fusion. Sir Richard sent the lot-holders a letter (November 19, 
18G7) arguing that it was their fault that the former wall was 
badly built and that the construction of an insufficient wall had 
not relieved them of their original obligation. When this proved 
fruitless, he ordered legal proceedings to be instituted. A test 
case was selected and a marine-lot holder (R. G. Webster) was 


sued ill Court for tlie cost of rebuildiiio- liis part of the Praya 
Willi. ' The great Praya case,' as it was called, was tried before 
a special jury (R. Lyall, G. F. Weller, A. Coxon, E. Mellisb, 
J. Arnold, J. M. Vickers, C. Mackintosh) and the verdict was 
o-iven for the defendant (February 7, 18G8) to the great discom- 
fiture of the Governor. The decision was based on the view 
taken by the Chief Justice that, under the terms of his lease, 
the defendant was bound to repair all public quays piers and 
roadways in or 'requisite to the premises,' but that the sea-wall 
was not requisite to the defendant's premises. 

The legislative work of this period was largely occupied 
with matters affecting police and crime, commerce and emigration, 
and the government of the Chinese population, all of which 
are referred to elsewhere. A few ordinances of general interest 
were introduced by Sir Richard such as regulated the Fire 
Brigade (4 of 1HG8), the preservation of birds (1 of 1870), 
:aad the Public Gardens (8 of 1870). Improvements in the 
administration of justice received a lai'ge share of Sir Richard's 
attention. Ordinances were passed modifying the law of jurors 
and juries (7 of 18(;8), criminal law procedure (2 of 18(;i) 
-and 3 of 1872), promissory oaths (4 of 18G1)), the administration 
•of the estates of deceased persons (9 of 1870), the enrolment 
of barristers and attornies (8 of 1871), Court vacation (1 of 
1869), and so forth. But the most impvortant measure, yet 
•one that was two years later repealed by Sir Richard's successor, 
was Ordinance 1 of 1871, which regulated the procedure of the 
Summary Jurisdiction Court by providing that cases, involving 
sums over ^oOO and under ^2000, might be heard, with a 
j'^'y» ^>y the Chief Justice sitting in Supreme Court in Summary 
Jurisdiction. Two interesting decisions were giv-en during this 
.period. In the case Regina v. Souza, Sir J. Smale laid it down 
(July, 18G9) that no criminal action can be instituted in Hong- 
kong for the publication of a libel against an undistinguished 
foreigner resident out of the Colony. And in the case of the 
Nouvelh Penelojjp, a French coolie ship which, having sailed 
from Macao, was seized by the coolies under the leadership 


of -one Kwok Asino-, who murdered the captain and crew and 
fled to Hongkong-, Sir J. Sraale rnled that the offence was 
committed against France, that the ship was a slave ship, and 
that t!)e murders committed with tlie ohject of regaining liberty 
were no crime. The administration of justice was, during this 
period, frequently disfigured by unseemly disputes between the 
Chief Justice (J. Smale) and the senior Queen's Counsel (E. H. 
Pollard). These disputes culminated in a painful scene (July 2, 
1807) when Mr. Pollard was lectured and pronounced guilty of 
six distinct contempts of court, fined ^200 and suspended from 
practice for fourteen days. The tone and manner in which 
the Chief Justice on this occasion addressed the troublesome but 
highly popular b^irrister, whom he kept standing before him 
while he lectured him, aroused the indignation of the whole 
community. The fine was forthwith provided for by a public 
subscription list, signed by more than a hundred persons of all 
classes of local society. ^Tr. Pollard appealed to the Governor 
who declined to interfere and advised him to petition Her 
Majesty the Queen. In August, 1808, the decision of the Privy 
Council was received, indicating a complete defeat of the Chief 
Justice, as not one of the six acts clr.irged against Mr. Pollard 
was held to amount to contempt of court. The fine was remitted 
and the sentence reversed, but the Chief Justice was not silenced 
but continued the legal warfare in a more subdued form. 

The Police Force was during this period subjected to the 
closest scrutiny it ever received and to severe criticisms on the 
part of both the Governor and Chief Justice, and by the 
community. It has been mentioned above that Sir Richard, 
after satisfying himself by personal investigations of the 
inefficiency and corrupt character of the Force, attempted, in 
186G and 1867, to purify and reform the corps by disciplinarian 
measures and failed. On 29th October, 1807, he assured the 
Secretary of State that he did not remember to have seen in 
any Colony a bo:ly of men so inefifective in proportion' to the 
number, or so corrupt generally, as the Police Force which ho 
found In Hoj)gkong, and which then consisted of 81) Europeans,. 


:i77 Indians (chiefly Bombay sepoys) and 132 Chinese. But, 

after introducing: the system of licensing gaming houses, Sir 

Richard reported, in 1869, that the Police Force had been 

.greatly reformed by virtue of this measure. No doubt, there 

was a marked improvement, noticeable in 1868 aud 1861). 

But ib seems probable that this improvement was not so much 

due to the licensing of gaming houses, which of course vastly 

-diminished bribery, as to Sir Richard's searching surveillance 

•of the personal affairs of the police officers and his daily 

vigilance in ascertaining the steps taken in all special cases 

for the detection of crime, aud in the second instance to the 

several measures he introduced with a view to police reform. 

These measures consisted of the substitution of Scotch for 

English and Sikh for Bombay constables; the appointment 

of a Deputy Superintendent of Police conversant with Hindo- 

stanee (C. V. Creagh) ; the allowance, out of the Special Fund, 

of ^20,000 per annum for good conduct pay ; the classification 

of the Chinese contingent, opening up to Chinese constables 

the prospect of promotion (March 1, 1870); the increase of 

police stations and their interconnection by telegraph; the 

• establishment of the Police School (1869) and the encouragement 

thereby given to Sikhs and Chinese to learn English. The 

establishment of a sepai-ate Naval Yard Police under the 

exclusive control of the Admiralty (by Ordinances 2 and 13 

oi 1867) was also an improvement. Up to March 30, 1870, 

when Sir Richard produced statistics shewing increased efficiency 

•of the Police Force, the public were satisfied that great 

improvements had been made, and sided with the Captain 

♦Superintendent of Police (W. M. Deane) when he energetically 

.rebutted (September 15, 1869), as wanton distortion of statistics, 

^he disparaging remarks, as to the inferiority of the Hongkong 

Police to that of Shanghai, made by the Secretary of the 

Municipal Council of Shanghai (A. J. Johnston) in a letter 

•to the London <k China Express (July 8, 1869). But that the 

reform of the Hongkong Police was principally due to 

.Sir Richard's personal vigilance, may be inferred from the fact 


that as soon as he left the Colony on fnrloiigb (April 12^ 1870) 
complaints of the demoralisation of the police recommenced, 
both on the pari of the Chief Justice and on the part of the 
public. When the Police Report for 1869 was published 
(April 11, 1870), declarinof the establishment of a detective force 
to be impracticable, public opinion read it as indicating that 
bribery rather than any other difficulty stood in the way of 
detecting crime. The action of the Chief Justice also incited 
public dissatisfaction with the organisation of the police. By his 
remonstrances, addressed to the Government, he secured the 
offer of substantial encouragement to police officers willing to 
acquire a knowledge of the Chinese language (May, 1870), bub 
he failed in his crusade agaiiist the separate control exercised 
by the Registrar General over a distinct force of 69 district 
watchmen. The unofficial Members of Council also expressed 
their dissatisfaction with the police and asked that a Commission 
•of Inquiry be appointed, whereupon the Chief Justice laid on 
the table of the Legislative Council (November, 1870) a 
memorandum inveighing against the inefficiency and corruption 
•of the Force and suggesting that, to avoid the constant friction 
between the Superintendent of Police and the Registrar General, 
the district watchmen be embodied in the Police Force under 
one head. The Chief Justice continued his adverse criticisms of 
the Police in 1871, and the community sided with him in the 
matter. The general dissatisfaction with the organisation of the 
Police Force rose to the highest pitch when a greatly popular 
public officer (G. L. Tomlin) was robbed and knocked down on 
a public road close to the Central Police Station (August 28, 
1871). A deputation of unofficial Justices of the Peace waited 
forthwith on the Lieutenant-Governor (H. W. Whitfield) and 
urged him to take immediate steps to improve the Police Force. 
Major-General A\^hitfield's reply, referring to 40 additional 
constables having been ordered from Glasgow and promising 
that Sir Richard would, on his return, deal with the question 
of police reforms, was viewed by the public as a mere evasion 
of the points insisted on by the whole community, viz. that an 


efficient bead should be provided for tlie Police Force wbicb 
they considered to be in a disoro^anized state and that a 
Commission should be appointed without delay to inquire into 
be real causes of the defective state of the Force. A public 
meeting (September, 1871), attended by upwards of 350 residents, 
gave expression to the general sense of insecurity under which 
the community laboured, and to their strong disapprobation 
of the neglect which, it was alleged, had characterized the 
action of the Executive with regard to the police. A Memorial 
was forwarded to the Colonial Office, praying for the appointment 
of a Coimnission of Inquiry. Before Earl Kimberley's reply, 
negativing this request, reached the Colony, Sir Richard had, 
immediately upon his return, appointed (December, 1871) a Com- 
mission according to the wishes of the community (T. C. Hayllar, 
AV. Keswick, F. W. Mitchell, F. Stewart, H. Lowcock, 
W. Lemann, George Falconer, and A. Lister). One of the 
principal subjects of inquiry was the question whether the plan 
of divided authority, by leaving the district watchmen under 
the separate control of the Registrar General, should be 
continued. It was principally on this point that the views 
of the Commission and of the Governor were divided, and the 
bifurcation had to continue. Whilst leaving a reform of the 
police to his successor, Sir Richard started, before leaving the 
Colony, what was virtually a new department for the suppression 
of gambling, by relieving the Police Force from this duty and 
handing it over to personal efforts to be made by two former 
Cadets, the Registrar General and the Superintendent of Police. 
This appointment of two gentlemen detectives, with wdiich was 
connected a handsome remuneration, was viewed by the 
community as a mere excuse for filling the pockets of the 
Governor's 'boys.' 

Sir Richard's energy and severity as a disciplinarian was 
bound to exercise a deterrent influence as regards crime. There 
never was any Governor in Hongkong who inspired the criminal 
classes with such a genuine dread of his personal vigilance and of 
his measures. They soon found that the licensed, gaming houses 

THK ai)Mixi>;tuatiox of sir IX. G. MacDOXXHLI.. 449' 

were a trap set to catch thorn and it became quickly known: 
that confinement in <^{W)1 was now iv real punishment. But the^ 
most marked effect attached to those measures of 8ir RichardV 
administration by which he applied whipping" and solitary con- 
finement to cases of armed or violent assault, kidnapping and 
child-stealino- (Ordinances 12 of 18G5 and 3 of 18G8) and to 
criminals returning from deportation (Ordinance 7 of 1870). 
Compelled by financial considerations to abandon the newly 
built gaol on Stonecutters' Island, he bi'ought all prisoners under 
a uniformly rigorous system of discipline in Victoria Gaol, reduced 
the dietary scale, made gaol labour more severe, and ordered 
gaol offences to be punished with the cat instead of the rattan. 
By these measures he made imprisonment a real deterrent. He 
WHS so determined to keep the number of prisoners within the 
limits of the accommodation afforded by the old gaol, that he 
resorted to and, when checked by the Colonial Office, pei'severed 
in the application of other measures which were evidently illegal. 
In autumn 1800, he introduced a system under which prisoners- 
were induced to petition, that they might be liberated on 
condition of their voluntarily submitting to be branded and 
deported with the understanding thnt, if they were thereafter 
again found in the Colony, they would be liable to be flogged l)y 
order of a Magistrate and remitted to their original sentence. He 
sought to give to this system a colour of legality by that Or- 
dinance 8 of 18G6 (for the maintenance of order and cleanliness) 
which has been referred to above, in connection with the equally 
illegal system of licensing gaming houses. When this Ordinance 
(in its original form) was disapproved by H.M. Government, 
8ir Richard abandoned the system of bringing branded and 
depoited criminals, who returned to the Colony, before a 
Magistrate, but continued the original system of branding and 
deporting prisoners, before the expiration of their sentences,. 
in accordance with those illegal engagements voluntarily entered 
into by prisoners and ratified in each case by the Executive 
Council. Criminals thus liberated and deported were, on being 
found again in the Colony, remitted to their original sentences 



and then flogged in gaol as a matter of gaol discipline. This 
system was continued until ^ath May, 1870. It has been 
-alleged that this rigorous system of branding, deporting and 
flogging was applied also to hundreds of prisoners convicted 
merely of being suspicious characters, rogues and vagabonds, and 
that the Colony was thus delivered of the very class of men whose 
habitual occupation, as professional touts, trainers, aidors and 
abettors of criminals, formed the hotbed of prospective crime. 

This severely deterrent treatment of Chinese ciiminals met 
with the unqualified approval of the community. The Chinese 
m\d European residents as well as the unofficial Members of 
Council (September 11, 1871) gave at sundry times expression 
to their conviction of the absolute necessity of such measures 
in order to make Hongkong and its humane gaol less attractive 
and comfortable for the gaol birds of Canton. That experienced 
police officer and magistrate, Ch. May, gave it as his opinion 
that 'corporal punishment is absolutely requisite fur the well- 
being ol' the Colony.' 

That these measures, initiated by Sir Richai'd, served to 
diminish crime for the time, seems incontrovertible. An imme- 
diate decrease in kidnapping offences was specially noticeable, 
as 68 such cases occurred in 1807, r)3 cases in 18G8 and only 
7 cases in 1869. Comparing the six months ending on December 
31st, 1865, with the six months ending December 31st, 1860, 
it is seen that serious offences decreased by 51 per cent, and 
minor offences by 45 per cent, during these four years. In 
comparison with the year 1868, the criminal statistics of 1869 
show a decrease of 22.6 per cent, in serious and of 18.4 i3er cent, 
in minor offences, or a decrease altogether of 1,104 cases, the 
total having been 5,705 cases in 1868, and 4,601 cases in 1869. 
The number of prisoners committed to gaol was steadily reduced, 
year by year, from 6,246 in 1865, to 8,059 in 1869. The Chief 
Justice (J. Smale) who did not approve of the Governor's illegal 
measures, made, on 19th March, 1870, the following remarks 
in addressing a jury. ' Some years since, the calendar was on 
au average very large. Life and property were insecure. 


Robbery with violence on land, piracies on the sea, were freqncnt. 
They are now more rare. Something is due to the firmness 
nnd good sense of juries ; but more is due to the energy of the 
Executive of which, constituted as the Colouy is, the Governor 
is the life and the soul.' 

With regard to tbe repression of piracy, also. Sir Richard 
scored an undoubted success. By the time of his arrival in the 
Colony, piracy Avas a matter of almost weekly occurrence, nob 
only interfering with the native junk trade and small European 
(.'oasting vessels, but fi-cquently also causing the loss of many 
lives. The measures taken l)y the Britisli Naval Authorities, 
for whom Sir Richard secured the co-operation of the steam- 
cruizers of the Chinese Customs, were viewed by the public 
as inefficient or, when successful, as suspicious. Individual naval 
officers, as for instance the commander of H.M.S. JJouncer 
who captured, with the assistance of Chinese revenue cruizers, 
over oO piratical junks in the gulf of Tungking (June 9 to 
July 27, ]8(;i)), were much applauded. Nevertheless the 
impression gained ground, that frequently British gunboats were 
induced by Chinese officials to treat, as pirates, vessels • and 
men whose guilt amounted at the worst only to attempts at 
smuggling or resisting the illegal exactions of the rapacious 
revenue officers of China. This allegation was particularly made, 
but without clear proof, with regard to the proceedings of 
H.M.S. Algerine (June, 18G8). The most effective measure that 
was ever launched against piracy in South-China was that 
(Ordinance 1) of ISOO and 12 of 18G7) by which Sir Richard 
brought under surveillance and severe restrictions the haunts 
and stores estal)lished in the Colony by the aidors and abettors 
of piracy, and particularly tlie native dealers in marine stores. 
Next in effectiveness ranks Sir Richard's Junk Ordinance (1 of 
18G8) which amalgamated, Avith the preceding measure, some 
stringent regulations providing that all native vessels (junks) 
should report arrival at the Harbour Office, take out an airchor- 
age permit by payment of a fee (subsequently remitted) and 
obtain clearance papers before sailing. For the same purpose 


of repressing piracy, measures were taken by the Governor 
(Ordinance '1 of 18G8 and 2 of 1870), to provide, in conjunction 
with siniihxr measures to be enacted in Canton by the Chinese 
Authorities, the disarmament of all Chinese trading and fishing 
junks. But as the Viceroy of Canton, who at first had promised 
to issue the same order, failed to do so and, when questioned, 
declared it impossible to enforce such a law, the measure was 
abandoned. Another measure devised by 8ir Richard proved 
a great help towards suppressing piracy, viz. the establishment 
of a combination of Harbour Office and Police Office duties, 
entrusted to the Police Inspectors at Yaumati, Aberdeen, Stanley, 
Shaukiwan and at East Point (Whitfield Station). 

The good results of the foregoing measures were obvious. 
From September, ISGO, to October 1807 not one piratical attack 
on European vessels occurred and out of 18 cases of piracy 
reported by Chinese junk owners, most were comparati\'ely trivial. 
During the two years immediately preceding 1st January, 18G7, 
no fewer than 02 men v/ere tried for [)iracy, attended in most 
cases with violence or murder, whereas during the two years (18G7 
and 1808), immediately following, only 15 men were tried for 
that crime, and not one single trial foi- piracy took place during 
the years ]8GI) and 1870. 

Commerce in the Far East had, at the beginning of this 
period, received an extraordinary impetus through the opening 
of the Suez Canal (April 10, 1805), which filled the godowns 
of Hongkong and the Treaty ports to overflowing, increased the 
volume and revolutionized the methods of trade, without however 
increasing its profitableness. In the year 18GG, the foreign 
trade with China amounted to nearly £95,000,000. The share of 
Great Britain in that trade amounted to no less than £71,518,72^1 
or nearly Go per cent, of the whole, and for this colossal trade, to 
which must be added the Colony's trade with Japan, amounting 
in ]8G7 to £G, 000,000, Hongkong now served as the principal 

The histoiT of local commerce during this period commenced 
indeed with good omens for the future. The spirit of enterprise 


.^iiid comi^etition was still lively and inapprehensive of tlie ap- 
proacbiiijz; coiimiercial depression. The formation of the Union 
Dock Company, the tirst that was registered (July 31, 18G5) 
under the new Companies' Ordinance, with a aipital of ^500,000, 
(consisting of 500 shares of ^1,000 each, was speedily followed 
up (October 11, 18GG) by the formation of the Hongkong and 
Whampoa Dock Company, which purchased the dock projjerties 
of Messrs. Douglas Lapraik and Th. Sutherland, with a capital 
of ^750,000 in 1,500 shares of ^500 each, the Hon. J. Whittall 
noting as chairman of the directors and Mr. J. Lapraik as 
secretary. The new dock at Aberdeen, named after Admiral 
Hojie, was opened on June 15th, 1867. A third new enterprise 
was started by the formation (October 19, 18G5) of the Hongkong, 
Canton and Macao Steamboat Company, with a capital of 
$750,000 divided into 7,500 shares of $100 each. The principal 
[)romoter of this association, which purchased the popular 
American river-steamers Kinshan^ White Cloud and I^ire Dart, 
was Mr. Douglas Lapraik by