Lord Napier

The following articles relate to the brief sojourn of Lord Napier at Macau and Canton. Napier’s appointment was a ‘British government foot-in-the-door’ to the Company’s protection of its immense income from China.

On the approach of 1834, the ministry called City bankers to Westminster to instruct the Company on converting its trade into trade-financing to ensure that the predominate share of tea business remained under Company control. The Company was nevertheless fundamentally opposed to any extension of the British Government’s direct authority into China trade.

Many of the articles concerning Napier are assembled here. The acts of the India Company staff attached to his Commission who had exclusive control of him suggest they were intent on knobbling him by depriving him of their local knowledge and keeping him from any alternative source. Napier’s following acts are regrettable:

  • arrival in Canton at midnight without passports, in a boat of the smuggling brig Lord Amherst.
  • the use of the Company’s factory as Napier’s office,
  • placing advertisements on its walls during Napier’s occupancy offering Company’s Bills for sale, the preferred remittance of the smugglers.
  • the intemperate, prickly and undiplomatic attitude Napier (presumably advisedly) expressed to the Kwongtung Governor in his interview.
  • the Public Notice of late August on the factory wall protesting the Viceroy’s acts and
  • his later residence in James Innes’ apartment in No 1 Creek Hong, the major centre of smuggling in the factories.

The ministry in London had to send someone to satisfy the Chambers of Commerce whilst the India Company could not support any London measure that might tend to unite the free traders.

I conclude Napier was a political sacrifice.

There remain a few more articles mentioning Napier in the China chapter that allude to the effects of his visit.

Vol 7 No 18 – Tues 6th May 1834

The Viceroy and principal provincial officers notified the Hong Merchants of an intention to visit the foreign factories on 2nd May. On that date, an old piece of scarlet long-ell was draped over the outer gate as decoration and in the dining room upstairs, a semi-circular row of old Chinese chairs and teapoys was set out. In the adjacent room was a table loaded with European-style confections.

The foreigners were told by the Hong merchants to absent themselves during the visit but several attended nevertheless.

The Manchu General Hu Fung Ah arrived first. He is close to one Hong merchant and the two held a private meeting until the Hoppo arrived. Slowly the other officials arrived and the Viceroy last. They showed no interest in looking around.

The Viceroy has some foot injury that required he be carried upstairs.[1] He is Chinese but he met the other officials in the Manchu style – making a low bow and taking hold of the other’s shoulders in both hands.

The senior Hong merchant present then personally served bowls of birds’ nest soup to the officials. They then set about the confections and finally departed.

At the last moment they observed the portraits of our late King and Lord Amherst.

The foreigners present were ignored except at the time of the arrival of some Chinese officials when one or two bowed and the officials smiled back. No attempt at conversation was made.

The Linguists who accompanied the officials displayed their common insolence but we have to acknowledge that they are for now the only means of communication most of us have. If the foreigners would all learn Chinese we could do away with them. Then part of the veil over the illegal fees we have to pay would be removed and the monopoly of the Hong opened to closer inspection.

Vol 7 No 18 – Tues 6th May 1834

Letter from the President of the Select to the Viceroy:

“Your letter of 27th April inquired why we are closing our business. We are ordered to do so by our King and parliament. We have traded here for over a century and complied with your laws. Notwithstanding our compliance we have been unable to obtain redress for grievances of our countrymen. We have ourselves suffered from the rapacity of the Hoppo and his men. It is a feature of his department that any appeal against his decisions is to him alone. The injustices to foreign traders are too numerous to detail here. But as I no longer have any personal interest in trade since 22nd April, I can tell you something of them.

  • First, is our inability to routinely get your intercession in righting wrongs. When you have been involved it has resolved our problems but that is only in a minority of cases.
  • Second, ‘Old Custom’ is repeatedly argued to force unjust decisions on us.
  • Third, your law is denied us but we are not allowed to establish our own.

Under these three heads arise atrocious wrongs – accidental death is treated as murder; arbitrary taxes of your venal junior servants are applied but never reach the Imperial revenue; husbands and wives are separated; recreational space denied, and we are excluded from buying provisions at the public markets of Canton, apparently to preserve the compradors’ surcharges.

You will no doubt wonder why we stayed so long.

Although we Company servants were suffering, the owners of our company were not. They profited from the exclusive trade and wanted it to continue. Now the people of England, perceiving the company’s inability to protect British merchants in China, has allowed gentlemen to take up our business. I hope you will allow them to transact business on suitable terms.

Sgd ‘The Last Chief of the British Factory in China’.[2]

Vol 7 No 19 – Tues 13th May 1834

Viceroy Loo’s reply to the ‘Last Chief of the British Factory’ via the Hong merchants:

“The English chief says his Company will come no more to Canton to barter his useless goods for our necessaries of life. Why the English have changed their system is not worth enquiring into.

“If the new chief displays awe and reverence and implicitly obeys the old laws I will show compassion to him. If he tries to make changes I and the other officials will throw him out.

“The English chief talks of hardships and injustices. He must know that it is our clemency that permits him to come here. What he opposes has long been settled and cannot be changed.

“Let the Hong merchants serve on him the attached list of old laws that he may enjoin them on the new Chief. Oppose not.[3]

1. Barbarians may not stay the whole year at Canton learning the prices of goods and making early purchases in the hope of increasing profits.

2. Originally the barbarians were allowed to trade only with Hong merchants. My predecessor Lee allowed them to buy some insignificant things from outside men, but only under the surveillance of a Linguist or comprador.

3. Barbarians may live only in the warehouses of the Hong merchants. Chinese must not forget the dignity of the Empire and hire themselves out as servants to barbarians.

4. Barbarians cannot be carried about in sedan chairs. They may not race boats on the river. They must stay in their lodgings until their business is concluded and then immediately leave.

5. Barbarians females are forbidden to come. If they come they will be forcibly expelled.

6. Barbarians may not hire natives to teach them Chinese. All their linguistic needs will be met by the Linguists and compradors. They may not present petitions at the city gate.

“These are the six essential rules that must be implicitly obeyed. They should also be instructed in the minor rules. Barbarians can be ruled only by misrule because of their inflexibility. They cannot be governed by the same law as Chinese because they do not know how to present themselves and their arguments appropriately. They should clearly know that when one of them causes death, only one of their own lives can atone for it. Do not let them say they were not warned.”

Vol 7 No 24 – 17th June 1834

The London Morning Post identifies Lord Napier as the First Superintendent of British Trade in China.

It says ‘His Lordship is a great tea-sipper, a perfect bed-chamber hero, a sovereign judge of Hyson and Souchong, but he does not know much about Canton. His appointment is worse than Macauley’s, who will now have this popinjay Lord placed over him. This appointment reveals impotence, jobbing and extravagance. Only an eternal dreamer like Charles Grant could have recommended it’.

Editor – This ‘popinjay’ Lord is a Scottish peer of ancient descent[4]and a port-captain of 20 years in the navy. He served in HMS Kent in the Mediterranean in 1810. It is true he took double the prescribed time as Lieutenant and Commander before promotion but he has passed through the hardships and dangers of naval life.

This blast from the Morning Post is on behalf of the Directors of the India Company who want one of their own men in the job. The China-trade was only thrown open after Select Committees of the Commons had deliberated the matter for 2-3 years. The first impression that the new Superintendents give to the Chinese is the most important. Our interests are inextricably woven with Lord Napier’s.

Vol 7 No 28 – Tues 15th July 1834

Editorial – The delayed arrival of Lord Napier raises the hope that the hurried British arrangements for future China trade are being revised. The Orders-in-Council are scarcely intelligible but we are still unsure what acts the parliament will take consequent on its free trade legislation of last August.

The repeals of the 4th and 6th Acts of George IV and the 5th section of the 3rd and 4th Acts of William IV have modified the rights of Britons born in Europe. These modified rights seem to be misunderstood by the people drafting the Orders-in-Council to the British Trade Superintendents.

We can only get amicable trade if the national representatives are obviously not involved in trade. They then have a chance of not being sneered at and ridiculed. This nominated board of Superintendents should be dominated by free traders.

People in India have been silent on the new India Bill but in our community we always make our opinions known. We have protested the tonnage duty and are only silent now because we have not yet received any British news beyond the appointment of Napier.

Vol 7 No 29 – Tues 22nd July 1834

HMS Andromache arrived Macau Roads on 16th July bringing William John, Lord Napier, his lady and two daughters and Captain Elliot with his wife and family. There may be other passengers as well. He landed at the Praia Grande at 3 pm to a 13-gun salute from the forts.

On 25th July, he arrived at Canton with his 2nd (Davis) and 3rd (Robinson) Superintendents.[5]

At daybreak the Union Jack was hoisted in front of the factory formerly occupied by the India Company where he will reside (the Royal Warrant of joint appointment, signed by Palmerston, is reproduced in Canton Register in full).

Plowden and Davis were appointed with Napier but Plowden did not accept and Davis was promoted to 2nd. Sir George Best Robinson was brought in to be 3rd. John Harvey Astell was made secretary; Rev Morrison interpreter; Charles Elliot is Master Attendant; Colledge and Anderson are surgeons and Rev Vachell is chaplain (not yet arrived).

Napier’s private secretary is Alexander Robert Johnstone.[6]

Vol 9 No 50 – Tuesday 13th December 1836

Letter to the Editor (translated from French) – Davis in his latest book (China) has libelled me. He calls me a violent fellow. There are witnesses to the matter he records who can correct his version of events.

Since I came to reside in Canton in 1824 no-one has been a more ‘violent fellow’ than Davis himself. He struck those who lived with him, he was brutal in his domestic relations, he frequently went into the godowns near his Macau residence to fight with the kaffirs whose noise annoyed him and hindered his study of the Jesuit texts. Such a great public loss – had slavery not been permitted in Macau he might have written four volumes instead of two!

Your readers will recall that in August 1834 as 2nd superintendent, Davis intentionally attacked some Customs officers with a stick whilst in the execution of their duty (at the station in front of the factories). In the fight that ensued this national representative was well thrashed by a single Chinese.

Was the purpose of his subsequent flight to Macau to recover from his bruises or to avoid retribution? I think it was fear of prosecution that caused him to flee. Flight was a deplorable act, particularly coming at a time when Napier was in urgent need of expert counsel.

I am not the only person to receive his bile. Many other residents were ill-treated but he has not named them in his book, perhaps because he hopes to return. He was proud to be Chief Superintendent although his promotion resulted from mere chance. Would English ministers have selected him for the job, the man called by his own countrymen ‘mad Davis,’ a man universally detested by the Chinese for his brutality and habitual non-payment of petty debts each year which he again left unpaid when he left Canton?

His book is an abuse of our patience but I have leafed through it quickly. Should the itch to scribble again incite him to spoil paper, he may confirm his reputation as an indifferent Editor and a great copier, but as a writer – never.

Sgd C Bovet, Canton 7th December 1836.

Vol 7 No 30 – Tues 29th July 1834

Letter to the Editor:

The Viceroy has refused a letter sent to him by Napier. He said all correspondence must be presented through the Hong merchants.

The Hongs say the letter was refused because it did not address the Viceroy by his proper titles but I think it was refused because it was a letter not a petition.

Sgd Delta.[7]

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

The Chinese say James Daniell has signed the bond and applied for and received a permit to go up to Canton. Daniell has declared to Elliot that he has no connection with the Thomas Coutts or her cargo.

Local residents will recall it was Daniell’s intrigues with the Hong merchants, as a member of the Select in 1834, that undermined Napier’s attempts to make direct communication with the then Viceroy.

Vol 7 No 31 – Tues 5th August 1834

A notice has thoughtlessly been published on the gate of the British factory where Napier is living. It says the Company’s treasury for Bills on India is open.

The building was formerly the Company’s factory but this is highly irregular. The Chinese will think nothing has changed.

The notice must be removed. The Company’s arms should also be removed from the building and Napier’s entrance should not be the entrance for the other occupants.

The death of the old system must be made crystal clear. There can be no further mention of the Honourable Company now.

The notice should read “Cash for Bills on India will be received by ABC Company, Canton agents of the India Company”.

Vol 7 No 32 – Tues 12th August 1834

Obituary of Robert Morrison:

He left England for China via America on 31st January 1807 and arrived at Macau on 4th September that year in an American ship. He carried letters of introduction from the American Secretary of State to Carrington, the honorary American consul at Canton, who received him well. He lived first in the factory of the American traders, M/s Milner & Bull.

Morrison also brought a letter from Sir Joseph Banks to Sir George Thomas Staunton who introduced him to Roberts, the then President of the Company’s Select Committee at Canton.

On 20th February 1809 he married the eldest daughter of John Morton and was appointed the same day to the Company’s service. From that day on, his life was devoted to the unremitting task of literary labour. Together with Dr Milne, his second in the China mission (posted to Malacca and dead some years ago), he translated the old and new testaments, the book of common prayer and many other religious texts. He also published a Chinese dictionary.

In 1816 he accompanied Lord Amherst to Peking and published a memoir of the abortive embassy.

In 1821, when the Company’s shipping left the river concerning the Lintin trade,[8] he was the sole sinologist in town and his advice to the Select brought that dispute to a speedy end and saved the Company much money in demurrage.

In 1818 he founded the Anglo Chinese College at Malacca and donated £1,000 for a house and £100 per year for five years to encourage students and tutors. The foundation stone of the college was laid by Major Wm Farquhar, the British Resident at Malacca, before the town was restored to the Dutch.

In 1823 he returned to England and received an audience with the King.

In 1824 he remarried to Miss Armstrong at Liverpool and returned to China for the India Company in 1826. His services to succeeding Select Committees have been indispensable.

His second family numbers five children. He appeared to be in good health until last summer. He escorted Napier to Canton arriving on 25th July but his health suddenly deteriorated and he died on the evening of 1st August in his residence at 6 Dutch Hong.

His remains were returned to Macau followed by 40 European traders and were interred in the Protestant cemetery on 5th August. The service was read by Mr Stevens, the seamen’s chaplain at Canton.

This should remind readers that prior to 1821 all Europeans dying at Macau were buried in a field outside the walls of the Portuguese city. Morrison’s first wife died that year and he proposed the purchase of a secluded plot for her Protestant burial. Thus she was the first occupant of our cemetery.

Many people now understand, speak, read and write Chinese but when Morrison learned it there were no dictionaries or other assistance.

Vol 7 No 32 – Tues 12th August 1834

Public Meeting, Monday 11th August called by Napier:

“Yesterday (Sunday) the Hong merchants invited you traders to a meeting at the Consoo House today. I have to tell you that I am not here to conclude a commercial treaty with China. Nor am I empowered to correspond direct with Peking. I am restricted to dealings with the Viceroy alone. I have obtained this present residence (the former Company factory, now called the British Consulate by the Editor) against the wishes of the Viceroy and the Hong merchants and I am merely concerned to investigate the situation here and send the details home so the government can further instruct me.

Your attendance at the Hong merchants’ meeting at the Consoo House will embarrass me. If you attend it will be taken as a precedent. I hope you all will sign a letter Morrison has prepared for the Hong merchants (contents below).[9] If your refusal to attend that meeting causes a stoppage of trade or an order for my removal, that is my affair. I can only tell you I will not leave here unless driven out at the point of the bayonet. If you have any suggestions for me I should like to hear them.

(Editor apologises for failing to reproduce the calm and dignified delivery of Napier and his convincingly- and eloquently-marshalled arguments. “His frank and honest earnestness, the sincerity of self-conviction, carried all with him.” The Editor says Napier aroused feelings of brotherhood amongst his hard-bitten listeners)[10]

Davis then rose “I have lived here 20 years. Every new measure proposed by the Hong merchants has been followed by new exactions on trade. We have never benefited from any meeting at the Consoo House. Was it not there that Terranova signed his own Death Warrant? A consistent Chinese policy is ‘divide and rule’. I recommend unanimity.

The merchants then perused the draft letter. Both Dent and Jardine suggested alterations. Then the following was signed by all attending:

“Attendance at your Consoo House meeting is unnecessary as no object has been expressed. In all official matters we must in future consult the Superintendent of British Trade.” Dated 11th August.

Sgd Jardine Matheson & Co, Dent & Co, Fox Rawson & Co, Whiteman & Co, Richard Turner & Co, John Templeton & Co, Ilberry & Co, R Markwick & Co plus 24 Parsee and 16 European individual merchants.[11]

Vol 7 No 32 – Tues 12th August 1834

Letter to the Editor:

Is it true that Astell is acting treasurer for the Company’s finance committee in Canton? Sgd A Beginner[12]

(Editor – we asked Astell and he has not replied. That is a sufficient answer to know his position. When the postal arrangements were considered recently, Astell was asked to join the committee but he said he was Secretary to H M Superintendents and could not involve himself in something that was not his duty.

How can being treasurer to the Company’s agents be considered part of a secretary’s duty? He must be one or the other.)

Vol 7 No 33 – Tues 19th August 1834

HMS Imogene has arrived from Singapore. HMS Andromache left on 16th August for a local cruise.

Vol 7 No 33 – Tues 19th August 1834

A General Meeting of British subjects was convened on 16th August at the British Consulate. Jardine had received a letter from the Hong merchants dated 15th August complaining that they had delivered four orders of the Viceroy to the British merchants but they had all been returned.

They say their orders comply with legal requirements. They represent law that is binding on us. We may not refuse them.

They note an officer has come to superintend our country’s ships and say he must obey Chinese law. They say they are government merchants and have to obey the law. If we do not accept their directions, they cannot trade with us. They can only report to the provincial officials.

Napier has two thoughts concerning this letter:

  • receipt should be acknowledged and
  • a British Chamber of Commerce should be formed to include Parsees and English and have a Secretary.

One of the attendees had previous Chamber experience and volunteered to set it up. It will permit the British merchants to speak to Napier with one voice and he to relay their views to the Canton Government.

Napier then alluded to merchants’ complaints of delay concerning circulation of the Viceroy’s four orders. The orders were delivered to Jardine, as doyen of the free traders. He had them translated and when I (Napier) saw them I thought I should send copies back home. Translation and copying caused the delay.

I now refer to a painful subject – dissension amongst the British merchants. I heard of this in England and after arrival here and it is alluded to in my instructions from the King. He read part of his instructions:

“… to watch over and protect … Our subjects in China for trade …; and to use your influence and authority to adjust by arbitration or persuasion all disputes they have amongst themselves”.

He said the free traders were formerly subject to the Company but now they were independent. The proper use of their independence required them to resolve all disagreements amongst themselves. He would give his best efforts to helping them to present a united front to the Chinese but he did not expect change to come easily.

He said HMS Andromache had returned to the river estuary. She had cruised for a week to see what effect her absence had on the attitudes of the Chinese officials. He now knew that. The trade is about to be stopped purportedly because I will not go to Macau and apply for a passport.

He thought the Chinese were ignorant of both the return of HMS Andromache and the arrival of HMS Imogene. He thought the presence of the warships would influence the Viceroy and moderate his attitude. If the merchants were organised in a single body that would be more imposing and facilitate negotiations. If necessary he would call H M ships to Whampoa or even to the walls of Canton.

He then outlined the steps he commended the merchants to take to establish a Chamber – decide how many committee members are to be English and how many Parsee, ballot them, have this committee select a Secretary. The committee should then draw up regulations for a) general business, b) correspondence with the Superintendents and c) correspondence with the Hong merchants. He offered the general hall of the Consulate for Chamber meetings but knew there was another large room (a subscription reading room in another factory) which they might prefer.

A number of comments from the floor revealed the divisive character of the traders and Napier commended them to be harmonious. Then the following decisions were taken:

  • Jardine proposed that the Hong merchants letter threatening a stoppage of trade be acknowledged and the Hong told, as it referred to an official matter, that the merchants could not deal with it.
  • Jardine proposed that Goddard (the merchant with previous Chamber experience) plan a Chamber and submit his plans at the next meeting.

Agreed.

Vol 8 No 28 – Tues 14th July 1835

Letter to the Editor:

The ‘rambling desultory conversation’ you refer to in your report on the old meeting of British merchants with Napier was a conversation between Dent and Jardine in which Dent accused Jardine of answering How Qua’s letter before he had taken the opinions of the whole community, specifically Dents and the Parsees (who were opposed to any stoppage of trade).

Jardine was unable to satisfactorily answer the question.

Napier intervened and took the blame on himself to bring the dispute to an end.

You ignored all of this, describing it as a ‘rambling desultory conversation’.

Sgd ‘An observer of passing events’, Canton 7th March 1835

Vol 7 No 33 – Tues 19th August 1834

The Hong merchants’ letter of 11th August said, as the merchants would not attend the Consoo House meeting or receive their instructions, they were unable to report to the Viceroy who would certainly punish them severely. The merchants had returned the Viceroy’s four orders to the Hongs. These said:

  • An English warship bringing a ‘barbarian eye’ has anchored at Cabreta Point (off Macau). This ‘eye’ is to superintend British ships. Previously for over a century there were only supercargoes who came to Macau and requested permits to come to Canton. The Company is dissolved and the ‘eye’ will replace the Select Committee. He is not like a merchant. If he wants to come to Canton I will have to obtain Imperial assent. If a change in the commercial regulations is required, a petition must be submitted to the Hong merchants who will consider it and make recommendations to me. The Hong merchants are ordered to Macau to interview the ‘eye’ and see what he wants. Let them discover what changes in the regulations are requested. However only traders are permitted to come to Canton – the ‘eye’ must reside at Macau. If he wants to come to Canton he must apply through the Hong merchants for my consideration and I will seek the instructions of the Emperor.
  • On 25th July I received a note from the Hoppo Chung that some servants at the Customs House on the riverbank in front of the factories had reported four English devils (Napier, Davis, G B Robinson and Morrison) had arrived during the night and entered the factory without passports. We hear there is a warship in the outer seas. This seems to be illegal immigration. We don’t know if the Hong merchants or the Linguists helped them. The Hoppo complains the negligence of the Hongs. I order the Hong merchants to query the ‘eye’ why he has come without a red permit and expel him to Macau until the Imperial will concerning his intended visit is known. He may not stay in Canton and the Hongs are responsible to remove him instantly.
  • A third order dated 30th July again notes the illegal entry of the ‘eye’ to Canton and says he must quickly leave as his actions demean Chinese dignity. If he stays the Hong merchants will be punished.
  • A ‘barbarian eye’ has come to Canton. He did not wait at Macau for orders. He has no passport from the Hoppo. This is illegal. The Customs House staff who permitted his landing are to be tried but he is ignorant of our laws and I will not punish him. He must not remain long. He may conclude his business and return to Macau and he may not come to Canton again without a permit. He comes here for trade. The Chinese Empire has civil officers to rule the people and military officers to deter the wicked. It does not involve itself in petty trade which is left to the merchants themselves. We officials know nothing about commerce. If foreign traders want to change regulations, they must jointly ask the Hoppo and he and I will consider and reply. If any new proceeding is proposed, we must advise the Emperor and await his directions before approving it. The state officers of China are not permitted to correspond with barbarians. If the ‘eye’ sends a letter I will not see it.

The foreign factories outside the city walls are for temporary residence while the barbarians trade. They may eat, sleep and trade while there. They may not bring wives and daughters. They may not ramble about. These are the fixed laws.

In conclusion I say every country has its laws and China is no exception. The ‘eye’ should be acquainted with dignity. He must deal with every affair according to reason. Then he can control and restrain the barbarian merchants. I am tender to barbarians but they must obey our law. The Hong merchants have traded with foreigners for years. They know something of the foreign language and Customs. The Linguists and compradors are more closely allied with the foreigners. They should all explain everything clearly. The Hong will enjoin these orders on the ‘eye’. If there is then disobedience it must be due to bad management of the foreigners and the Hong merchants will be punished. If it is due to bad translations by the Linguists they will be executed.

Editor – the tone of these memorials is gentler than hitherto. The advantage of having a controlling British presence here will soon be recognised by the Chinese. Any edict from Peking that permits free trade will be the end of the regulated system. A stoppage of trade may not be a bad thing (it only effects the legal trade anyway – tea and silk exports). The Hong merchants will be fined and perhaps punished corporally but the administration will have to reconcile itself to what it cannot alter. So long as we are united and determined, open trade will be conceded.

We have heard from a Chinese friend that an Imperial commissioner named Shing Yin is on his way to Canton with two officers, Fung Yin King and Kang Tsing Tai.

Vol 7 No 34 – Tues 26th August 1834

Notes of a conference between the Hong merchants How Qua and Mow Qua with Napier on 22nd August:

How Qua asked if Napier would receive a visit of the Governor, the Kwongchow Heen and the Kwongchow Foo on the following day. Napier agreed.

The linguists arrived with the official chairs and tried to set them out in a way that was derogatory to Napier. After two hours discussion this was prevented, much to How Qua’s dissatisfaction. The officials then arrived.

Napier scolded them for the delay and said it would not be suffered a second time. They said they attended by order of the Viceroy to learn why Napier had come, what business he had and when he would return to Macau.

Napier then read from Viceroy Lee’s Edict of 16th January 1831:

‘in case of the dissolution of the Company, it is incumbent on the British government to appoint a Chief to come to Canton, etc.’

He then produced H M’s commission identifying himself as that Chief and suggested to the officials that they had forgotten the existence of Viceroy Lee’s Edict.

He referred to his earlier (rejected) letter to the present Viceroy, which explained his purpose, and urged it be read and placed in the national archive as the matter was not suitable for verbal communication. Finally, he said he would return to Macau when it was convenient to do so.

A general discussion ensued and the officials concluded that the English King should have at least sent a letter to the Viceroy pre-advising his intended changes. Napier thought that was degrading to the English King.

He himself was one of the royal household, an hereditary peer and a captain of the Royal Navy. He was equivalent to the Viceroy and properly authorised to treat with him.

The officials wished to present Napier’s letter to the Viceroy as a private communication which the Hong merchants could read. This was resisted.

The Kwongchow Heen remarked how unpleasant it would be if the two countries disagreed. Napier replied that England wanted friendly trade with China. The officials then left.

Vol 7 No 34 – Tues 26th August 1834

On 18th August Napier wrote to Fox, the putative Secretary of the British Chamber of Commerce, concerning the Hong merchants’ threat to stop trade. He asked Fox to discover if the threat originated with the Hongs or with the local government.

On 19th August Fox said he had seen the Viceroy’s instruction to the Hong merchants in which a suggested stoppage of trade was contained. He concludes that the instruction originated with the government.

Napier regretted the inconvenience to traders but his instructions (copy published) required he take residence in Canton or some other place within the river or port of Canton.

The instructions define the river as commencing at the Bocca Tigris (i.e. excluding the ‘relaxed’ trade at Lintin and Macau)

On 21st August a letter was sent from Fox, on behalf of the British Chamber, to the Hong merchants:

“….. our commercial interests are superintended by Napier, our national representative. In your letters the Viceroy talks of a possible stoppage of trade whilst you say it is stopped by order of you Hong merchants.’

Vol 7 No 34 – Tues 26th August 1834

Edict of Governor Loo to the foreigners, through the Hong merchants:

I do not know if Napier is an official or a merchant but he has come here concerning trade so he must obey the trade regulations. His arrival in Canton without authority shows a want of decorum.

As it is his first visit and he is ignorant of our law, I forgive him. If he comes to change the trade system now the Company has finished, he should inform the Hong merchants so they can report to me.

I will then take instructions and Napier can wait in Macau for the Emperor’s order.

In England when a foreigner comes to arrange official matters, he announces his intended arrival.[13] Napier’s coming here unilaterally is undignified. He says he is an official but he does not follow the procedure. He just does as he likes. He says he is an official but I refused his letter because Chinese officials are forbidden to have communication with barbarians (to prevent conspiracy on the frontiers like Wu San Kwei’s). Our trade regime holds the Hong merchants responsible. If a barbarian merchant has anything to say he submits a petition through the Chief supercargo (Taipan) to the Hong merchants. There has never been a case of an outside barbarian sending in a letter. The Kwongchow Heen will instruct the ‘eye’ minutely on the subject.

I await the Emperor’s order.

The laws are well known to the barbarian merchants. I have been fair. There are only two courses – obey and remain; disobey and depart. Now the ‘eye’ demands to correspond with my officers and will not obey the law.

The English only come here for trade. The Chinese government does not involve itself in trade. All along trade has been controlled by Hong merchants. There has never been commercial correspondence between officials and the head foreign merchant. If the Chinese government is now to manage trade, it (trade) will be impeded. Official correspondence on trade would be both indecorous and bad for your business.

The Hong merchants have now made a dignified request that English trade be stopped.

Napier’s perverse opposition demands it. But the English king has hitherto been submissive. I conclude that Napier must be acting unauthorisedly. The value of English trade is irrelevant to China. Their goods are useless but our tea, rhubarb and silk are essential to the foreigners to maintain life. The availability of these items should not be jeopardised for the fault of one barbarian. I emulate the Emperor’s tender compassion for outer barbarians.

These foreigners face danger in sailing here. They are motivated solely by profit.

When called to the Consoo House recently they refused on Napier’s instruction. They were not acting from their own free will. If they lose their trade, Napier will be responsible. In commiseration I temporarily indulge them. Napier should remember that his countrymen trade here and make huge gains as a result of the Emperor’s compassion. If the trade laws are unreasonable why did the foreigners obey them for so long? Napier is an official, he should control his nationals. If he is unreasonable why should they obey him?[14]

I have been an official for several decades and always treat men with propriety. How could I be tyrannical to men from afar? But Chinese dignity cannot be trampled on. Napier is said to have an expansive mind and placid speech. He can distinguish right from wrong. He should not allow himself to be deluded by the merchants. He should obey the law and correspond with me through the Hong merchants – then trade will continue. If he is obstinate, English trade will be perpetually cut off. When the English King reads these communications he will know the trouble is stirred up by Napier alone.[15]

Vol 7 No 34 – Tues 26th August 1834

Letter to the Editor – Coming through the Bogue last Thursday I saw HMS Imogene and Andromache abreast of the lower fort surrounded by war junks. The Imogene was using a buoy for target practice.

Nearby were several heavy junks filled with stones. Presumably they are to be sunk to block the channel and prevent the entry of the English warships. The depth at low water is 12 fathoms and the channel is ½ mile wide – that is a lot of stones. Sgd Delta

Vol 7 No 34 – Tues 26th August 1834

Letter to the Editor – Concerning the trade-financing on goods shipped to England that the new Superintendents are offering, as agents of the Company, do they extend to any port or just London? Can non-British subjects receive them? Are they paid at time of purchase or after shipment?

I enquire because the Company never displayed much good will for free traders and this practice of making advances here could develop into a continuation of the Company’s monopoly on tea. They plan to advance £600,000 this year. It could be £3 millions next – more than the tea trade is worth. The Company has capital and will use it to retain possession of its monopoly. The signs of this intent are present:

  • opening the treasury here for Bills on Bengal
  • the appointment of ex-Company officers as Superintendents of Trade, and
  • the establishment of trading firms connected with the Superintendents.

These all suggest a plan by the Company to recover the tea trade under the guise of free trade. The Chinese will think the days of the Company have not ended. They will think the national representatives are just nominal officials and they will certainly believe that the man with the money is the important one. The Superintendents will be seen to have money and thus acquire influence with the Chinese to the detriment of the free trade.

We need to get the independent merchants of England and India to make representations to stop these bills being offered here.

Sgd A Young Merchant

Editor – the new Chamber should look into this.

Vol 7 No 35 – Tues 2nd September 1834

Canton Register Editorial – some of us are becoming impatient with the trade stoppage. We are trying for important results and must not be deterred by setbacks.

The Hong merchants also cannot give up without a struggle although they are suffering. All sorts of crafty attempts to divide and rule us may be anticipated.

The present suspension originates with the Hongs. No government edict ordering a stoppage has yet been published. The officials are preserving their neutral position until the Emperor’s will is known.

Let us stay united and not weaken the hand of the Superintendent.

Vol 7 No 35 – Tues 2nd September 1834

Letter to the Editor – Some say foreigners coming to China to trade should obey Chinese law. We are trying to change our submissive status, the result of accommodations made over the last 150 years. Anyone reading recent pronouncements of the officials will conclude that our submission has been overdone. The studied insolence and contemptuous superiority of the Edicts contrast strongly with the falsehood of the Chinese position. Britons do not wish to be subject to this miserable system. Napoleon’s sneer about our shop-keeping propensities will seem to be true.

There is a limit to our desire for profit. We do not sacrifice national or personal honour for money. We must put this trade on an honourable footing. The local officials have a history of concealing their actions from the Emperor. Their routine insults are a local thing. To buy tea we must be racially insulted, put under surveillance of the Hong merchants and Linguists, who are trembling underlings of government (we have twice recently seen Hong merchants providing menial service to officials), separated from our wives and children, allowed to exercise by going to Fa Dei or the Honam Josshouse three times per month in groups of less than ten, supervised by a Linguist. This exercise is supposedly to prevent disease arising from our confinement.[16]

In the next few days the annual insulting Edict will be placarded.[17] We cannot allow this to continue. I hope the Chief Superintendent’s vigour and the presence of two warships will be sufficient to win the day.

Sgd A British Merchant[18]

Vol 7 No 35 – Tues 2nd September 1834

Napier has hosted a dinner at the ‘British Consulate’ on 26th August to celebrate the King’s Birthday. 90 guests were invited but the officers of HMS Imogene and HMS Andromache could not come and only 60 guests sat for dinner. The Parsees were invited for the toasts afterwards and sat at a separate table on the verandah.

The King’s portrait was uncovered. Napier said “William IV has done immense good for England. The Reform Bill had destroyed parliamentary monopoly and redirected the political evolution of Europe and America. Commercial monopoly had also been overthrown and the people now at dinner might push China-trade as much as they dared. The King was also a sailor. He patronised navigation and its sister, trade, and was particularly solicitous of the community at Canton.

After Napier’s brief address, the Queen, Princess Victoria, the army and the navy were toasted. Captain Elliot toasted the ‘commerce of Canton’ which Jardine returned thanks for. Napier then toasted Captains Blackwood and Chads (the absent captains of the two warships). Finally Elliot toasted Napier.

Napier regretted his misunderstanding with the Viceroy which had caused the stoppage of trade. He hoped it would not last long and encouraged the merchants to make a show of firmness now to establish the principles of free trade in China. He hoped to be recorded by history as the man who had opened China to British trade.

He then referred to the Company. He asked that hostility to the Company be buried now its monopoly was ended and he proposed a toast to the East India Company.

Then Captain Neish, doyen of the country ship captains, was toasted. Finally the Parsees:

‘…… the remnant of a powerful country, driven from their lands by Turks and Arabs and now protected under the British flag, until the Muslims should be driven from their own country.’

Formalities concluded at midnight but several people moved onto the verandah and joined the Parsees until very late.

Vol 7 No 35 – Tues 2nd September 1834

Napier rallies the merchants:

Napier has put a notice on the gates of the British Consulate publishing a review of his own actions since arrival:

“On 16th January 1831 the former Viceroy Lee advised the President of the Company’s Select that the British government must appoint a replacement for the Company when its monopoly was dissolved. Napier avers this is the reason for his appointment.

“He arrived at Canton 25th July and presented a letter to the Viceroy at the city gate the next day but it was refused. The Chinese say the British officer delivering the letter tried to force his way to the Viceroy’s yamen. The British deny it. Neither would they submit the letter to the Viceroy through the Hong merchants as it was a communication between governments and not a matter for a merchant.

“Viceroy Loo takes the position that he does not know why Napier has come. He has ordered Napier back to Macau and when this did not occur, he tacitly permitted the Hong merchants to stop trade on 16th August (whilst two days later expressly saying that he would temporarily not stop trade).

“The Viceroy then sent his officers to interview Napier – why had he come, what was he to do and when would he return to Macau. “Napier replied that he had come in answer to the summons of the Viceroy’s predecessor, that his duties were listed in the letter that the Viceroy would not receive and that he would go to Macau when he felt it appropriate.

“Napier notes the Hong merchants have stopped trade whilst the Viceroy has not authorised them to do so. The livelihood of thousands of Chinese retailers of western goods is threatened by the perversity of the Hong merchants and the provincial government. British merchants insist on trade for mutual benefit. They will persevere until the equality of the two countries is acknowledged.

“… the Viceroy will find it easier to stop the current of the Canton River than to carry into effect the insane determinations of the Hong merchants”. Sgd Napier.

Vol 7 No 35 – Tues 2nd September 1834

Meeting of the British merchants on 25th August in the Hall of the Superintendents of Trade concerning the nascent Chamber. Fox has resigned and Wm Sprott Boyd, a Company man, is nominated to replace him.[19]

A steering committee of Boyd, J Matheson, Turner, Dent and Dadabhoy Rustomjee is established to make the rules of the Chamber.

(NB – Matheson and Turner are in the Jardine camp; Boyd, Dent and Dadabhoy belong to the India Company faction)

Vol 7 No 35 – Tues 2nd September 1834

Canton Register Editorial – One of the Royal Navy’s polar cruisers has belatedly arrived to survey the China and Manchurian coasts. In the past we would have feared exciting the jealousy of the Chinese but now we are convinced that the security of our Canton trade is not jeopardised by coastal surveys.

China has many excellent harbours. We hope British trade will not long be confined to one port and British property should not be exposed to risk from sailing in uncharted waters. The coast of Canton is well known. Amoy is well known. Horsburgh has noted some anchorages north of Amoy but with limited detail. If we can survey the coast, and particularly if we can chart the lower Yangtse, we will be able to access the canal system that serves the entire Empire. That would humble Chinese pride.

The gulf of Peh Chih Li has no harbours. The bar at the mouth of the Pei Ho has a maximum 14 feet clearance but can reduce to less than 8 feet. This is the route to Tientsin and Peking.

The voyages of Captain Cook have introduced us to the tiny populations of a few Pacific islands whilst the coasts of China swarm with people who do not know us.

No one should complain of our non-violently surveying the China coast. The Jesuits working for the Hong Hei (Kang Hsi) Emperor have shown how we should proceed. After a century their work shows the world what unwearied effort can achieve. Let us try to outdo them.

Vol 7 No 36 9th September 1834

Edict of Viceroy Loo to the Hong merchants, 2nd September 1834:

The English have broken the law. Their trade is stopped.

China allows foreigners to visit for trade out of compassion. The Customs duty they pay is inconsequential. All foreigners coming to China must obey our law.

The Emperor has approved the regulation of foreign trade and for over a century the English have obeyed. This year Napier came and resided in Canton saying he is the new English Chief. He had no passport from the Hoppo to enter China. I told Wu Tung Yuen (How Qua) and the other Hong merchants to investigate why he had come. If it was in connection with trade he should inform the Hong merchants so I can solicit the Emperor’s instructions.

Napier ignored the Hong merchants and submitted a letter. Chinese officials are not allowed to correspond with foreigners and I refused his letter.[20] I do not know if he is a merchant or a government official. He has not presented any accreditation from his King. All matters of foreign trade are dealt with by the Hong merchants. When foreigners wish to petition they do so through the Hong. Even if Napier is a civil officer, he comes here in connection with trade. It would be undignified for Chinese officials to deal with him and I sent appropriate instructions for him. It is the first time he has come here and he is ignorant. I examined all the old regulations minutely and enjoined the Hong merchants to instruct him in them.

Three times I have tutored him but How Qua and the others say he will not listen so I have stopped his nation’s trade. I have tried to instruct him but he is dull and unresponsive. The English King has hitherto been submissive so Napier must be a ‘loose cannon.’ The English traders come a long way, risking all sorts of danger, to make money here. There are many of them. The cargo they bring is quite useless to us but they take away valuable goods (tea, silk and purges) that are essential to the existence of their countrymen. I could not withdraw their privileges for the fault of one man. Emulating the Emperor, I have tried to show benevolence but Napier is too stupid. I have considered whether the Hong merchants were being frank with me. I know that westerners are not clear in their minds or perfectly sincere. I sent senior officers to interview and instruct Napier in the factories. At first they did not take Linguists and their reports were uncertain. When they sought to employ Linguists, Napier would not permit it. Without Linguists I cannot communicate with him.

Canton is the provincial metropolis. We cannot have a foreigner setting himself up as a potentate here. The traders are guests, we cannot have them taking residence in China. It impinges on our sovereignty. If this man remains in control of trade there will be all sorts of disturbances in future. It is absolutely correct to stop English trade and it is stopped w.e.f. 16th August. I have ordered the Hong to withdraw all compradors, servants and Linguists from the barbarian factories. I have told the Hoppo to ensure there is complete obedience. Napier has cut himself off from China and any people clandestinely dealing with the English will be punished too.

Canton Register Editorial – the population of the Two Kwongs and Fukien exceeds 44 millions most of whom are reliant on foreign trade for their livelihood. When we first started trading here we were a small nation. Now we hold an imposing position in the world. We will obey Chinese law provided a right of appeal is conceded. We must have protection from villainous extortion.

Loo’s Edict does not mention Viceroy Lee’s request to England to send a representative (Napier’s public grounds for coming). There is no problem in interpretation – Morrison’s son JR is proficient if a bit blunt.

The Viceroy’s comment on sovereignty is the most interesting comment in the document. When the Hong merchants’ monopoly is ended we will need our own warehouses and that would inevitably and insidiously lead to a right of residence and a claim for protection. Loo recognises that this is the likely outcome of our present actions and endeavours to stop us with an Edict.

Vol 7 No 36 9th September 1834

Napier’s negotiations with the Chinese have become serious. The Viceroy has now confirmed the stoppage of trade. All Napier’s Chinese servants have been withdrawn and both the Chinese and foreign communities have been warned not to supply necessaries to him. He is reduced to living on mess beef and pork from H M ships.

All boats from the British and American shipping at Whampoa are embargoed. New arrivals are not coming into the river and communications between Canton and Whampoa have been suspended for three days.

We do not know if the two warships have entered the Bogue. They are delayed in moving by the withdrawal of the Chinese pilot service. Several warjunks are said to have collected in the river to prevent the entry of British warships.

Viceroy Loo is annoyed by our obstinacy and unaware of the futility of his efforts against us. He thinks we will submit to his latest diatribe (below). We hear the Viceroy’s attitude replaces his more conciliatory one at the commencement of discussions. Apparently he has been influenced by the Foo Yuen and other officers (likely in recollection of Napier’s scolding of them at the ‘Consulate’). The Chinese have never been bold with us before and we expect they will compromise soon.

Napier is to be praised for his intransigence. Although trade is stopped, a free exportation of goods contracted for sale before 16th August is permitted. As the bulk of the tea and silk has not yet arrived at Canton, and the wind is unfavourable for departure, this partial stoppage is having no effect on the foreign merchants’ plans. The stoppage will not have any serious effects for many weeks.

The interesting thing is the unprecedented stoppage of trade for a fortnight by the Hong merchants themselves prior to the formal stoppage. This reveals their realisation that the end of the Company’s monopoly is a serious threat to their own future prosperity. When the Viceroy learns he has been duped by the Hongs we expect he will strongly criticise their action.

Meanwhile two foreigners from Macau, who held a chop for exports in the names of other foreigners, have been detained near Canton. This is the first time that the Customs has concerned itself with the name on the chop. Efforts to secure their release have commenced.

Vol 7 No 36 9th September 1834

Napier’s advice to the British merchants c/o Wm Sprott Boyd:

The Hong merchants informally stopped trade on 16th August. Two weeks later the Viceroy formally stopped it. In between you concluded many contracts but no chops for shipping or landing these cargoes have been issued. Trade was effectively stopped two weeks before the Viceroy’s order when he was still permitting it.

We have paid for the goods we contracted for before 16th August but cannot get them.

In any event we cannot load exports until we discharge imports. This is a second complaint. All the workmen and boatmen have been withdrawn.

To remedy this and to secure the British treasury in the consulate, I have requested the warships to come up to Whampoa to protect the shipping and provide marines to me in Canton.

Sgd Napier

J R Morrison has translated a government Edict directing the river forts to permit British ships to depart but not to enter. This will delay the delivery of import cargo. British goods will have to be trans-shipped at Lintin and sent up by boat. I need to let the Viceroy know that I will resent any British ship being fired upon.

Sgd Napier

Vol 7 No 36 9th September 1834

The British united front collapses:

Dent & Co, Whiteman & Co, Mr E W Brightman and several Parsees (all in the Company faction) have petitioned the Hong merchants on 2nd September for a renewal of British trade.

The Hoppo Chung replied on 7th September:

“Napier has come to Canton without a permit. He has repeatedly been directed to the Hong merchants and attempts made to instruct him but he is incorrigible.

“The Hong merchants wanted to stop trade but the government tried to be kind. Only after two more weeks of effort towards an amicable solution did we formally stop trade.

“Now some British traders ask to resume their business.

“English trade has been stopped because of Napier. He was told to go to Macau and await permission to enter. If the English now want to resume trade, Napier must first go to Macau as instructed. There is no other obstacle.”

Vol 8 No 16 – 21st April 1835

The Bombay Courier has reproduced the letters between the Parsees and Napier about the stoppage of trade in justification of the Parsees’ action.

Notwithstanding justification, they had previously committed to refer all communications they received from the Chinese to Napier for action. Had the ‘united front’ been maintained, Napier had prospects of success. The Chinese were startled at the unprecedented concord amongst the free traders, but on discovering Parsee willingness to submit, they immediately convened a meeting at the Consoo House at which all the Parsees attended with the Hong merchants, and a long discussion about Napier and trade ensued. The Parsees finally agreed to accept an order from the Canton Government to Napier and deliver it. The Parsees say they feared financial loss might result to their constituents should the trade stoppage continue. They say they were thus duty-bound to promote the continuance of trade by whatever means.

Editor – hardly an excuse for violating their engagement to Napier.

Here is the commentary and letters from Bombay Courier:

Bombay Courier Editorial – Dadabhoy Rustomjee and the other Parsees, in opposition to Napier’s earnest recommendation and their own undertakings to him not to do so, attended a meeting at the Consoo House in Canton on the invitation of the Hong merchants. This weakened Napier and strengthened the Chinese and contributed to Napier’s failure.

We regret that Parsees, who are British nationals and accept British protection, should have conspired with the Hong merchants against the only legal authority they were bound to recognise.

The letters:

  • Parsees to Napier – the stoppage of trade appears set for a long time. Our constituents have not authorised us to lose their money. Their continued existence depends on the early resumption of trade. The Chinese buyers routinely form a cartel to reduce our prices. Our Bombay investors must commit to purchases in India in anticipation of receipt of the proceeds of their China business. Bombay cotton arrives here mainly in August and September. Finally our shipowners have their vessels detained here earning no freight while daily expenses continue. The trade stoppage will ruin us. We are sure you do not want this. Please devise a strategy to avoid our ruin. Sgd Dadabhoy Rustomjee et al, 10th September
  • Napier to Parsees – I understand the difficulty the Chinese government has caused you. I will do my best to restore matters to their former course but it is premature to discuss these points now.
  • Parsees to Napier – We met the Hong merchants in the Consoo House today. How Qua said he had tried his best to restore trade but failed. The Viceroy told him trade would be stopped until you left Canton and the frigates had gone. We attach the Viceroy’s Edict on the subject. We do not want to embarrass you but we come here to make money by trade. Our constituents are imperilled by the stoppage. If it continues much longer we will all be ruined. The Hong merchants tell us our situation is very dangerous to our property and persons. They cannot control it. They recommended we leave Canton and offered us passports to do so. Please relieve us from the distress we are under. Sgd Dadabhoy Rustomjee etc 14th September
  • Napier to Parsees – What How Qua and the others told you yesterday was false. How Qua himself recommended this stoppage of trade. When How Qua tells you your lives are in danger he only wants to scare you. You are entitled to British protection. My advice is to remain where you are for a few days.

Vol 7 No 37 – Tues 16th September 1834

Letter from Napier to Wm Sprott Boyd 14th September:

“I can make no progress with the Viceroy. Some traders want trade to reopen. Please send the British cutter from Whampoa so I can leave Canton”.

Editor – this letter was translated and circulated in Canton. How Qua has a copy.

We recite the events of this week – the embargo on our boats travelling between Whampoa and Canton has prevented our finding out what the warships are doing. From the factory roof we can see the sails of one at Whampoa so they have forced the Bogue (achieved with the loss of one sailor from each ship). That same day the Hong merchants privately offered to withdraw all offensive acts that had caused the warships to come in, provided they immediately left Whampoa. At that time it was expected that the boats of the warships would soon force a passage to Canton but they have not arrived.

A large body of Chinese troops is encamped on the hills above Whampoa which perhaps deterred the naval officers from moving. This delay encouraged the Hong merchants to withdraw their first proposal and substitute a request that the warships retire to Lintin before any concession could be made.

Then the Company / Parsee request to reopen trade became known and Napier had to submit.

The warships forced the Bogue on 7th September. Several shots were fired at the Chinese forts at the entrance and on Tiger Island in response to their firing on us. Chinese fire was badly directed and only one sailor was injured. It is a shame these guns were not spiked nor the fortifications destroyed. Later they fired on a boat carrying some country ship captains from Macau to Whampoa and forced it to return.

Davis and Sir George Robinson are on the warships and Capt Elliot is in the armed cutter Louisa. They are all at Whampoa. Napier’s Secretary Johnstone is still in Macau. Napier himself has become ill. Only his servants have been withdrawn; the other English in Canton are unaffected.

A trader who supplied provisions to Napier’s marines (Jardine) had his servants withdrawn briefly but they were restored to him when he threatened to complain at the city gate. How Qua and the others have been warning the non-British traders of the dangers they are exposed to by English actions and several Parsees have applied for permission to go to Macau.

Viceroy Loo’s assertion of Chinese non-recognition of foreigners is nonsensical. Former Viceroy’s have granted audiences to both the Company’s supercargoes and ship captains. Napier sent Loo a list of such precedents. It was not exhaustive. These Chinese officials change their history to fit their prejudices. Napier should have mentioned Captain Panton’s audience in 1780 in respect of unpaid Hong debts. Panton had to threaten violence to succeed but he did eventually prevail. Napier complained of the Viceroy’s characterisation of the English King as obedient because he had sent tribute several times. This reveals the Chinese view and is fair comment on the planners of these embassies.

Vol 7 No 37 – Tues 16th September 1834

Napier’s note:

The dispute with China is not commercial but has become personal. It can be resolved by my removal from Canton. The commercial interests of the merchants will not be prejudiced. I hope the day will come when I have the appropriate authority to conclude this business.

Vol 7 No 37 – Tues 16th September 1834

Napier’s letter to Boyd of 8th September for the Chamber to pass to the Hong merchants for the Viceroy

(first published on 16th September – it contains the precedents for Napier’s interview with the Viceroy):

I have seen a translation of Loo’s Edict in which he asserts that “Chinese ministers have no outward intercourse with outside barbarians”. This is untrue.

Capt Weddell interviewed the Viceroy in 1637 after destroying the Bogue forts; In 1734 Company supercargoes had an interview; In 1742 Commodore Anson had an interview; In 1754 other supercargoes had an interview; In 1759 there were further interviews in connection with Mr Flint; In 1792 there was an interview with the Company’s London Committee; In 1795 there was an interview with the Select; In 1805 there was an interview with Roberts and Staunton; In 1806 with Roberts, Drummond & Elphinstone; In 1811 with Sir George Staunton again; In 1816 with Sir Theophilus Metcalfe and Capt Clavell. These were special meetings, arranged case by case.

There are also annual meetings, as when the Company officers return from Macau each year. It seems clear from this history that Viceroy Loo’s protestation is untrue.

The Viceroy also claims that he does not know if Napier is a merchant or a civil officer. When he sent his officers to interview Napier, they all saw him in the uniform of a captain of the Royal Navy. Had they agreed to receive his letter for the Viceroy they might have assured themselves on the point from it. Loo has provided a lowered reception for Napier to that which might have been expected on the precedents.

The formal stoppage of trade occurred on 2nd September. Relying on the Viceroy’s edict of 18th August commanding indulgence and delay in stopping trade, the foreign merchants concluded many commercial contracts during that fortnight which are now caught by the Viceroy’s ‘change of mind’ (in backing the Hong merchants own stoppage from 16th August). I protest against this injustice.

Next, we cannot ship our export purchases until our ships are discharged of their import cargoes. As the landing of imports is embargoed under the trade stoppage, we cannot export the permitted goods. This absurdity arises because the Viceroy knows little about trade.

Next on 6th September the Hong merchants said English ships may leave but cannot enter port. This conflicts with the official edict permitting those exports already contracted for. I also request that the Hong merchants be warned of the serious consequences of firing on a British ship.

We have two warships here and any disagreeable consequences to the absurd orders of the Hong merchants will be for the responsibility of they themselves and for the provincial officials who instruct them. They have commenced the preliminaries to war, stopped the trade and upset the economy of their people in preference to granting Napier a courtesy that has been granted repeatedly to other Englishmen. They should know that the English King sent Napier to Canton in consequence to How Qua’s advice to former Viceroy Lee to request an official to replace the Company’s Select Committee. Napier proposes to bring a full statement of the case before the Emperor and complain Viceroy Loo and the Kwongchow Foo. They have tortured the Linguists and imprisoned the Hong merchant Sun Shing until those people acquiesced to untruthfully state that Napier arrived in China on a merchant ship when they knew he had come on a warship.[21]

Finally Viceroy Loo characterises the English King as obedient to the Emperor of China. He does not know that England rules over territory more extensive than the Chinese Empire; that it controls more power than China; that its warships carry up to 120 guns each and control the seas.

Now knowing the duplicity of the Hong merchants and recognising that they will not willingly perform their duty of forwarding this address to the Viceroy, I give notice that, if I cannot receive a response from the Viceroy by 15th September, I will publish this letter in the streets and amongst the people.

Sgd Napier

(NB – it was published around the factories in Chinese)

Vol 7 No 37 – Tues 16th September 1834

Loo’s response of 11th September to Napier’s 8th September letter above:

The trade of barbarians at Canton is subject to our rules. The residence here of a barbarian superintendent is unprecedented. Chinese officials are not permitted to interview barbarians unless they are Embassies going to Court with tribute.

What occurred in the Ming dynasty (Weddell) is irrelevant. The officials of this Ching dynasty do not interview barbarians. The interviews granted in Kien Lung’s and Ka Hing’s reigns (1736 – 1821) relate to interviews given to barbarian tribute bearers.

I must maintain our national dignity.

The Company gave us three year’s notice of its termination of business. They said after that time British merchants would each trade for himself. As it would not be under control, Viceroy Lee asked them to write to their government to send a Taipan (chief merchant) to Canton to manage affairs. There is no mention of a superintendent in the records.

But, whatever the barbarians wish to call their officer, there can be no change in the way his nationals trade here. They will continue to be managed by Hong merchants. There should be no expectation of barbarian superintendents managing trade.

Additionally the appointment of a superintendent is new. It cannot simply be done without Imperial approval. Napier brought no accreditation from his King. He suddenly arrived and none of us knew why he had come. I sent the Hong merchants to enquire as I must have his information before I can write to Peking for instructions. Why does he not communicate with us? If he disliked talking with Hong merchants he could have his national traders do so on his behalf.

On four occasions the Hong merchants enquired but could receive no satisfaction. He was implacably insistent on direct official contact. We have no authority to deal with representatives of other nations; on the contrary there is a law proscribing such contact.

How could I permit it?

The Hong merchants requested to stop trade. I considered that the English have traded here for over a century and their King has previously sent tribute. Obviously he is obedient. The English traders risk long sea voyages to come here. How could I cut them off for the importunity of one man. I therefore commanded indulgent delay. Fearful that the Hong merchants were not delivering my instructions clearly, I sent my officials to the barbarian factories to make enquiries. Still Napier would not speak clearly to my representatives. I sent Linguists to interpret his words but he would not use them.

In these circumstances I could only and unwillingly stop trade. I have acted in accordance with the regulations. I stopped trade from the date of the Hong merchants’ petition as had previously been advised to the foreigners – there was no former stoppage and later stoppage. I have acted completely reasonably.

Napier has responded with threats of force and power. I am not afraid of him and can drive him out but I do not wish to do so. China welcomes foreigners, eschews the use of force and tries to influence them by reason. Napier has brought his warships into the Canton River. He has fired guns, wounding our soldiers and frightening our people. This is quite unreasonable. Two warships cannot confront the armed might of China. Besides the foreign merchants here are treated liberally and do not need protection.

Napier has come within my grasp.

I have assembled a large sea and land force. I have no difficulty in immediately eradicating him. I have not done so because I suspect Napier’s actions do not accord with his instructions. They certainly do not benefit his nationals who come here for trade. Napier must reform, repent his errors, withdraw his warships and obey the law and I will indulge him. If he does not reform I will be unable to endure him. If I have to call up my forces it will be too late for repentance.

The Hong merchants are to make all this known to the barbarian merchants. If there is then trouble they should not blame me for it. They should instruct Napier appropriately.

Sgd Loo, 11th September

Vol 7 No 37 – Tues 16th September 1834

Letter to the Editor:

If we yield to Napier’s return to Macau we take a step down the ladder in our relations with China. If Napier does not return, the trade will continue stopped and we will lose everything. If Napier could go to Peking it would solve all problems. The provincial government would try to prevent his doing so but it is our fundamental requirement so why not do it now?

Direct communication with Peking answers our needs. If we have that, we do not need an island on the China coast for our business. To get an island we will have to fight and then station a garrison on it to retain it. Going to Peking would avoid these expenses. The wind (summer monsoon) is continuing right for a visit and is reliable until early October. Napier should insist on his reception by the Emperor or at least the ability to come to Whampoa in a frigate.

Sgd A Trader

Editor – ‘A Trader’ overlooks Napier’s lack of authority to communicate direct with Peking.

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Letter from the Hong merchants to the British traders Jardine, Dent, Boyd, Whiteman, Framjee and others:

You sent us a copy of Napier’s letter to you. We gave it to the Kwongchow Foo. He notes Napier says he tried to reason with the Viceroy. We do not know what subject he reasoned about.

If it is reasonable we will report it to the Emperor and see if it is allowed. If unreasonable it will be refused.

You should explain the reason why your officer has come to Canton. Then we can ask the Emperor for his response.

Warships are not allowed in the river. That has long been prohibited.

Napier asks you to move the British cutter Louisa from Whampoa to Canton so he can ‘carry the same into effect’.

What will he carry into effect?

We also wish to know when the warships will leave Whampoa.

Sgd 11 Hongs

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Napier to Boyd 15th September – As the Kwongchow Foo does not understand his translation of my letter please explain:

My reasoning is the list of precedents showing Englishmen have interviewed the Canton Viceroy many times. He should allow me the same courtesy.

I am unaware of the illegality of warships entering the river. Please have the Foo send me a copy of the relevant law.

One warship will depart immediately for India bearing the Viceroy’s reply to this letter to the Admiral there. The other will remain at Whampoa to convey me and my suite to Macau.

Concerning my business here I can only communicate that to the Viceroy directly in writing or speech.

I hope that makes my position adequately clear to the Foo.

Sgd Napier

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Hong merchants to British merchants 16th September:

Please immediately send the warships away together. We will then order the forts to let them pass. The Louisa cutter is sufficient for Napier to return to Macau in.

Does Napier’s reference ‘carry into effect’ refer to his departure for Macau as required by the Hoppo in his reply to Mr Whiteman’s petition?

You have not explained why the warships entered the river and damaged our forts. We want Napier to explain this.

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Napier to Boyd 16th September:

The warship for India will remain at Whampoa, which is close to me here at Canton, until I receive the Viceroy’s reply which it is to take to the Admiral. The other ship will remain at Whampoa to receive me there from the cutter which will carry me from Canton. It will not leave until I am on board.

‘Carry into effect’ means my removal from Canton.

The frigates came up to Whampoa in response to the edict of 2nd September banning trade. They will protect British nationals and their property. The Canton authorities have acted in a base manner to the representative of the English King. If there is to be a stoppage of trade it should be communicated to me first.

The frigates fired on the forts in self-defence.

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Hong merchants to Boyd 17th September:

Napier is willing to have the warships leave port but at different times. Warships are prohibited in the river. The ships cannot leave as Napier requests.

If they both go out to Lintin, you may order the cutter up to Canton to take Napier to Macau. Sgd 11 Hongs

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Colledge to Boyd 18th September:

Napier is sick. He should not be harassed by negotiations or delayed in departing from Canton. I am making arrangements with the Hong for his removal.

Canton Register Editor – Napier is isolated at Canton. The 2nd and 3rd secretaries (Davis and Robinson) are at Whampoa. Astell (and Johnstone) are in Macau. Colledge arranged two chop boats from the Hongs to carry Napier down on 21st September. Immediately afterwards, a guard of 13 marines under two officers of the Andromache followed in a third chop boat for Whampoa. They carried Napier’s order to the two frigates to move to Lintin. As soon as the frigates pass the Bogue, the river will be reopened. It has been closed for 16 days.

A new Hoppo is taking charge of Customs and it is expected trade will resume thereafter. Napier’s attempt to open a relationship with the Provincial Government has failed.

Chinese forts have been fired on and Chinese soldiers injured. There has been no demand for redress. They should have sought redress while Napier was in their power. He said he would leave only at the point of a bayonet, well he has been denied servants and food and lost his health. He had difficulty walking to the chop boat and had to be supported by two foreigners.

During the last 2-3 days, while the weather has been extremely hot, he has been living in James Innes’ apartment at 1 Creek Hong which is cooler.

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Editorial – While our frigates were in the river we had no communication with them. They passed the lower forts on 7th September; on 8th they were becalmed and at anchor; on 9th they passed Tiger Island and reached the 2nd bar; on 10th they passed the 2nd bar and on 11th they anchored at Whampoa.

The Chinese embargo prevented our getting messages to / from Whampoa (This applies to the Superintendents only – the smuggling trade continued to communicate with Whampoa). Napier expected the ship’s boats to come-on from Whampoa to Canton but they did not.

On 30th August a threatening notice in Chinese was distributed around Canton and a copy was stuck on the British consulate gate. Thereafter he could reasonably call for the frigates to come up.

Instructions to Royal Navy captains are ‘to sink, burn and destroy’ and ‘to distress by all means the King’s enemies’. We are not formally at war with China but their forts fired on our ships. If the naval commanders had destroyed the river forts, spiked their guns and the ships then warped up the river with the armed boats out in front, they could have been brought close to Canton long before the 11th which is when they arrived at Whampoa.

Under this impetus, the Viceroy would likely have granted Napier an audience. Their delayed arrival caused us to lose the initiative. This was the primary cause of Napier’s failure.

A contributing cause was the division amongst the British traders. This allowed the Viceroy to allude to ‘the wishes of several merchants’ that trade be resumed. Had we maintained the united front, the principle of granting audiences might have been soon obtained. Thereafter any division amongst us would have been of no consequence. Once the Hong merchants were involved in the negotiation, Napier’s effort had failed. We gained this point in 1814 but it has since been mendaciously denied.

The rejection of Napier and firing on national ships justify a blockade of Canton sufficiently strong to force all foreign nations to comply with it. At the same time the King’s letter should be sent to Peking. It enumerates our grievances, demands satisfaction, future protection of British trade and a commercial treaty.

Without these concessions we have better cause for war than the Manchu’s ‘Seven Great Grievances against the Ming’ (the cause of the 1630 – 44 war). This Ching dynasty is the enemy of us all.

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

On 16th September a Manchu Imperial Commissioner arrived in Canton for special duty.

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Boyd’s (British Chamber) reply of 20th September to Napier’s of 15th:

You offer to retire to permit the reopening of British trade. We recognise your sacrifice. We think our trade and the British national honour which you represent are inextricably entwined. We have tried to avoid interfering in your efforts. We have to act unanimously. In China our only power is reason and moral influence. We deeply regret the division that arose.

We are grateful for your perseverance and deplore the unusual privations that you have experienced and which have damaged your health. We wish you a speedy recovery.

Sgd Jardine Matheson & Co, R Turner & Co, John Templeton & Co, Douglas MacKenzie & Co (Lloyd’s Agents), A S Keating, John Slade (the Canton Register Editor), Nicholas Crooke, J M A Gladstone, James Innes, WS Boyd. (This list is notable for the missing names – Dent’s group of Company supporters and ex-employees and the Parsees, who remain subject to the Company’s law and government at Bombay, which together represent the majority of British traders in China, have not signed)

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

A correspondent writes – Palmerston’s farce was commenced at Brighton[22] and has just ended with Napier balked and laughed at by How Qua and the others. The cause of our failure was firstly Palmerston – he may be clever in Europe but not in China. Another mission will have to avoid the mistakes that were made this time:

  • H M representative should not be joined with the Company’s tea traders (Davis, Robinson, Astell, et al).
  • H M representative should not correspond with Hong merchants.
  • H M representative should not occupy the former Company premises.

We should not again allow a powerful financial committee to ruin H M representative’s plans (the Company’s Treasury Agent Daniell is advertising the sale of Bills on India on the walls of the Company’s factory, Napier’s Consular building).

Our smugglers have better access to Chinese ears than Napier had from his Company contacts although the baneful influence of our opium smuggling is a factor in his failure.

Napier quickly realised he had enemies in the English camp. He did not know who they were so he confided in none of us. This deprived him of good advice:

  • His Lordship’s Proclamation in Chinese could never have been approved by an experienced China-hand. It implied he could protect himself when he could not.
  • His letters to How Qua were equally inadvisable and surrendered the principle of direct communication with government officials which he wanted.

In applying for reception at Canton, the power of our appeals to Peking must be recognised. Peking oversight is the one thing this corrupt provincial government most fears. To deprive him of this was like cutting off his right arm. Where was the President of the Board of Control or the man who carried through the China Act (Charles Grant) when these instructions were drawn up? Is our disgrace in China due to a petty squabble over patronage at Brighton? These faults and the weak force accompanying Napier were the distant causes of his failure over which he could exert no control.

The local causes which he could control follow:

  • Having silenced the Bogue forts, all the Chinese guns should have been removed and sunk in deep water.
  • Having forced their way to Whampoa, the frigates should have used armed boats at least up to How Qua’s fort (the only serious defensive works between Whampoa and Canton).

The British government will have to make its next effort at Peking. This should not involve a stoppage of trade.

Sgd ‘A British Merchant.’

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Jardine supplied food, etc., to Napier through the cordon of rough soldiers at his door. The soldiers then seized and imprisoned Jardine’s five servants. Jardine told How Qua, Mow Qua and Tin Qua that he would petition at the city gate unless his servants were immediately restored. He concluded his letter with the words “How Qua, you know me, I keep my word.’

All the servants were immediately restored. Two days later, having continued to supply Napier, Jardine’s head servant was threatened. Jardine complained about this to How Qua. He took the draft of his former unsigned petition (prepared to be thrown in at the city gate if his servants had not been restored) and left it with How Qua to show him what he would say to the Viceroy. How Qua identified his self-interest with sending the unsigned document to Loo as if it was a formal petition and Loo has now replied to it.

Jardine’s unsigned petition to Loo of 12th September:

I gave Napier’s servant six chickens last night. This morning the soldiers in front of Napier’s residence came and took away my comprador, two coolies, my cook and my personal servant. I believe I can bestow my provisions on anyone.

Why are you punishing my servants?

I will seek redress for this offence at sea or ashore and will take compensation from the first Chinese government property I can seize.

Loo’s reply to Jardine via the Hong merchants 15th September:

The Kwongchow Foo will investigate. If the servants were seized because of the chickens, let them be released.

Vol 7 No 38 – Tues 23rd September 1834

Letter to the Editor:

Napier’s attempt to establish relations with this government failed because his instructions were insufficiently detailed and because of Company duplicity. Permitting the Company to establish a finance committee for the trading of Bills on India was a mistake.

One third of the expenses of the British Trade Representative’s establishment in China is paid by the Company. The Chinese will understand this to mean the Company is still trading but under a new name.

They see that all employees on the Superintendent’s team, excepting himself, are ex-Company staff. Other local Company employees have been given such power that they eclipse the authority of the Superintendent. Their salaries are greater than his.

It will appear that the Company is re-establishing the old system of Company monopoly confronting Hong monopoly. These Company people are inured to surrendering national honour for tea. No wonder they were opposed to the Superintendent.

Napier’s failure was to be expected. The old Company servants should have been pensioned off or sent to India and a completely new group of people appointed to work here. Now two British frigates have had to apply for a chop to leave the river (they left finally without Clearance Certificates).

Instead of wholeheartedly giving Napier our support, we have allowed trifling dissensions to split the community. The Chinese have exploited this division. Our best course now is to send an embassy from London to Peking without any sycophantic Company men in it but backed by an appropriate amount of force. It is futile to reason with the provincial government here.

Sgd ‘A British Merchant’

Vol 7 No 39 – Tues 30th September 1834

The foreign trade was reopened on 23rd September and British trade was reopened on 27th September. The embargo on river passage was broken on 25th September by the Hellas and Ann which forced their way up to Whampoa without permission.[23]

Vol 7 No 39 – Tues 30th September 1834

Editorial consideration of the river defences of Canton:

How Qua’s fort, which is often said to be the most redoubtable defence works on the river, is not really strong.

Upstream of the fort is a three-tier pontoon across the river leaving a passage 30 yards wide in the middle. In the past, a chain was drawn up at night across these 30 yards. The pontoon is about 5 yards wide and is affixed to piles driven into the river bed.

Above it, the river divides into two channels. The channel on the right, which is deep water, has been blocked with sunken junks and piles.

Vol 7 No 39 – Tues 30th September 1834

Napier did not arrive at Macau until Friday night. His passage took two days longer than usual. We assume he was delayed by the Chinese need to ensure the frigates had really left the river before they released him.

If the rumour that he was delayed by the officials as a punishment is true, we think that is treacherous conduct. He is still sick and weak.

Vol 7 No 39 – Tues 30th September 1834

In the recent confrontation, the Chinese servants of Englishmen in Macau were also withdrawn. Some of their houses were entered by Chinese police.

The Viceroy attempted to introduce 2,000 soldiers to Macau for protection and was only stopped by spirited action from the Portuguese governor who finally threatened to fire on them if they came closer to the barrier.

He appointed sentries to guard the houses of the principal British merchants.

Vol 7 No 39 – Tues 30th September 1834

Editorial – Those interested in improving our situation in China must not become emotional over Napier’s failure. In future we must act concertedly in public. Our common enemies are the Hong merchants and the provincial government. Our combined strength should be focused on subverting them.

We should not solely be trying to improve things here when what we really want is unrestricted access to all China. That is an attainable goal by firmness and good management. We do not want any more British representatives here unless they come with full powers to enforce a proper reception. Never again should a British representative negotiate through the Hong merchants.

How can we open free trade? The late acts of the provincial government appear sufficient grounds for war but any hasty act would probably result in only the local officials being punished without any change in the trading system.

We need a fleet on the China coast that can control the seas and canals and disrupt the movement of domestic goods. If a fleet was here it should use some of its time to survey all the waters around local countries. We would trade under its protection.

We need a British representative at Peking. By exacerbating Chinese fears we can change their national feeling that has for so long been focused against us by the government.

Only overwhelming force and our determination to use it will bring this government to its senses. We do not want a commercial treaty until we can be sure it will address all the necessary points and be honoured on both sides.

We do not want to emulate Crawfurd’s worthless commercial treaty with the Burmese (obtained while the conquering British army was still in that country).[24]

Vol 7 No 39 – Tues 30th September 1834

Viceroy via Hong merchants to Framjee et al (a response to the request of 2nd September by Dent & Co, Whiteman & Co and the Parsees to reopen trade):

You asked us to reopen trade. We have done so. Individuals and ships coming in or out must apply for a red permit from the Hoppo and be examined as usual.

Undecked boats are allowed to come and go as formerly.

The private traders risk sea perils to come here for trade. They must obey the laws, then they will receive our favour. If there is any troublesome trader we will unite to expel him. Sgd 27th September

Vol 7 No 39 – Tues 30th September 1834

From a correspondent:

The disturbance at Canton affected the whole coast of China. Edicts were issued to embargo all trade with barbarian ships. The Chinese authorities must be anxious. Did the Canton government overstate the dispute? We have twice seen the salutary effect of appealing direct to the Emperor. This exposes provincial officials to direct review of their acts. In each case the involved officials abandoned their usual haughty tone and condescended to flatter us and ask forgiveness.

A dignified appeal to the Emperor’s justice, enclosing a blunt statement of facts, and asking if he approves his officials in Canton acting as they do, should work. It is the Emperor’s reputation that is daily sullied in Canton. These days we have new ways and means of getting a message to Peking.[25]

Vol 7 No 40 – 7th October 1834

The latest reports from Macau say Napier’s health is improving and he is now out of danger. Details of his voyage from Canton to Macau are becoming available. The chop boat stopped three miles from the factories, just beyond the fort in the Macau passage, on the first night. He was escorted by many government boats containing some 300 soldiers who sounded gongs overnight. They did not arrive at Heung Shan until midnight Tuesday (normally they should have arrived the day before).

They remained anchored there about 40 hours until Thursday afternoon. The official boats continued to sound gongs and let off crackers day and night notwithstanding Colledge’s request to desist.

When news of the frigates passing the Bogue was received they continued their journey and arrived at Macau on Friday morning. Normally the journey should have been completed by Tuesday.

Vol 7 No 40 – 7th October 1834

Letter to the Editor – Provincial officials have charged and imprisoned the Hong merchant Hing Tai (Sun Shing). He is accused of allowing Napier to travel to Canton in one of the boats of the Lord Amherst, a ship he had secured.

The government tried to get a Linguist to give evidence against him and has punished him for not saying what the government wanted to hear. This must be the first time a Linguist has been punished for refusing to lie.

Nevertheless, the magistrate found the Hong merchant guilty.

Sgd Delta

Vol 7 No 40 – 7th October 1834

The action at the Bogue – We have a belated description of events which we include for its interest:

At half past noon 7th September the British warships raised sails. The war junks in Anson’s Bay and off Chuen Pi and Tai Kok Tau forts fired blank cartridges. The two forts then followed up with shot.

The 12 warjunks assembled in Anson’s Bay and did not come out.

HMS Imogene returned the fire from Wang Tung fort while HMS Andromache returned the fire from Ah Nung Hoy battery. The Wang Tung gunners were more accurate and hit Imogene several times. Tacking through the Bogue into the river took 1¾ hours and both ships should have been seriously damaged had the Chinese gunners been accurate.

The wind then obliged both ships to anchor at Tiger Island where they remained becalmed until 9th September. The Chinese took the opportunity to re-arm and re-man the forts. When a breeze came up the ships steered close (200 yards) under Ah Nung Hoy battery. One officer on the Imogene’s forecastle was killed and three seamen wounded. On the Andromache a seaman was killed and three more wounded. Many 32 lb shot entered the embrasures of the forts and the injury to occupants must have been great. The ships then continued but anchored below the 2nd bar for want of wind.

Capt Elliot brought the cutter Louisa through the Bogue in style, sitting on deck under an umbrella throughout. She was hit several times. The Lascars in the cutter performed bravely under fire.

Vol 7 No 40 – 7th October 1834

When HMS Andromache and HMS Imogene frigates left the river they saw the forts at the Bogue and on Tiger Island had already been repaired.

Vol 7 No 40 – 7th October 1834

When the Hong merchants applied for a chop to allow Napier to leave Canton, the Viceroy took a bond from each of them in which they committed to ensure that neither Napier nor any warships would come again to Canton.

Vol 7 No 40 – 7th October 1834

A Parsee has complained about our reporting. He says Parsees did not petition to reopen trade until after Napier had resolved to leave Canton. It seems the Chinese side chose to construe their petition as coming from all the British traders.[26]

We should say that the trade would have been reopened, petition or not.

The Parsees did question Napier’s policy and expressed uneasiness in the meetings he had with the merchants. Many of them had obtained permits and were intent on leaving for Macau when the matter was resolved.

Vol 7 No 41 – Tues 14th October 1834

Died at Macau, 11th October – William John Napier, 47 years. Several merchants have left for Macau to attend the funeral. The principal British merchants have closed their counting houses for today. HMS Andromache is sailing for Madras. HMS Imogene is sailing for Manila.

Vol 7 No 41 – Tues 14th October 1834

It is 16 days since trade was said to have reopened but no British ship has yet been able to get a pilot from the Chinese authorities in Macau so none has entered the river (except the two country ships Hellas and Ann that entered without passports).

There is a fleet of British ships outside the Bogue that has been accumulating since end August. The Chinese officers in Macau say they are not informed if the frigates have left the river but the Hong merchants say it is the officers themselves, who are trying to extract a bribe from the pilots, who are causing the delay.

Should not our new Chamber of Commerce be saying something?

Vol 7 No 41 – Tues 14th October 1834

Letter to the Editor – the dispute with China:

Napier wanted to present his letter to the Viceroy face to face. Had Loo opened it he would have read that Napier would give him every dignity but must himself stand as an equal. The officer at the city gate said Loo was not properly addressed in the letter and refused it.

They kept this up to 11th August when the Viceroy himself proclaimed that China and England have no history of exchange of official correspondence and Chinese officials are prohibited from communicating with foreigners. It seems that the Viceroy’s reason for delay – awaiting Imperial sanction to permit any foreign demands – was secondary.

Readers in England are likely to assume that the establishment of a British Court in China is disapproved but the Chinese have not taken that point. On the contrary we have the Kiao Island (Kum Sing Moon) homicide as authority for China requesting a foreign presence in adjudicating cases involving foreigners.[27]

Napier had to break through the triple defence of Hoppo, Hongs and Linguists that forces all of us to go to the Viceroy for redress. They are the people who squeeze us and whom we want removed. Napier had to find other disinterested people to deal with. He was right to not resume the false position of the Company. We should have no representative here unless he is in direct contact with the Viceroy, or better, with Peking.

Vol 7 No 41 – Tues 14th October 1834

The Company has effectively resumed its control of British representation in China.

Davis is Chief Superintendent. Robinson becomes 2nd Superintendent, Astell becomes 3rd Superintendent and Elliot moves up to Secretary.

Vol 7 No 41 – Tues 14th October 1834

Dr Colledge’s recollections of Napier’s final voyage:

At 6 pm Sunday 21st September How Qua and Mow Qua delivered the passport for us to proceed to Macau. They had earlier promised me to provide a conveyance via the Heung Shan passage to Macau suitable for our national representative. Napier had given me an open order for the warships to leave the river which I was to give to the Hong merchants in return.

The agreement I made with them was witnessed by Wm Jardine. The Hong merchants agreed that our national ships would not be subject to any ostentatious display by the Chinese. We all four shook hands on it. Thus the passport was issued.

The morning following our meeting, How Qua and Mow Qua said Napier could not leave then as they had been called to an urgent meeting with the Viceroy all day. Departure was fixed for the following day (21st September). Jardine and I assumed Napier would go to Macau in the usual way, i.e. stopping at the Heung Shan Customs House only.

Two hours after we left Canton, we were joined by a convoy of armed boats. They (and we) had to anchor under the Pagoda Fort for the night. On Monday morning we again set off. There were eight armed boats, two transports full of troops and a government boat containing the officer-in-charge of the deportation. We travelled very slowly, although the wind was favourable, and reached Heung Shan Customs House only at midnight 23rd September. We were detained there until 1pm on 25th September while the Chinese beat gongs and made other loud noises day and night. I sent a message to the officer-in-charge, through a Linguist, that I could not be responsible for Napier’s health unless the noise stopped. The official gave no assurance to the Linguist and I myself returned with him to the government boat to request again. The official said he must consult with the Heung Shan officials before he could do anything. At 1 pm that day the same official came to our boat and provided the Heung Shan pass.

Napier’s illness was aggravated by this unnecessary detention.

Napier’s illness had commenced on 11th September when the weather was extremely hot and his duties particularly arduous. Even in the evenings he was usually to be found at his desk in the office. When he offered to leave Canton, I had already confined him to bed-rest. On 18th September, seeing his declining condition, I ordered him to stop work. He had declined all my prior urgings.

His apartment, previously occupied by Plowden, was very hot and I moved him into Innes’ residence which is quieter and airier. He was then able to sleep and his pulse slowed. He recovered somewhat although he needed support to walk the short distance from factory to quay on 21st September. The last thing he wrote was signing the order for the frigates to retire to Lintin. On 23rd, during the passage, his fever increased and I had no medicine to treat it. He was consoled by the Reverend Bridgman whom he esteemed as a preacher from attendance at his sermons at Canton.

By Wednesday 8th October he had become very weak. He was disturbed by the frequency of the many church bells in Macau and the Governor courteously discontinued them. He died with the request that his grave should adjoin Morrison’s.

Dent and Matheson arrived too late for the service but Brightman, Crawford, Crooke, Goddard, Innes, Jardine, A S Keating, Leslie, P F Robertson, Tonks and Watson were all there.

The Macau Governor took the opportunity to say that the old system of yielding to the Chinese was not good. He said he was rearranging Macau law to increase trade. He was establishing a depot system and hoped to see more English in Macau.

Vol 7 No 41 – Tues 14th October 1834

Letter to the Editor:

You say Napier was expecting ships’ boats to come up to Canton. Well, the orders which the two Royal Navy captains received simply said the marines and frigates should pass the Bogue, wait there for the cutter Louisa, and continue together to Whampoa; they should undertake nothing more and not risk the loss of a man; finally they should repass the Bogue and depart.

Sgd Eye Witness.

Vol 7 No 43 – Tues 28th October 1834

The proprietor of Hing Tai Hong (Sun Shing) who was imprisoned for helping Napier still remains incarcerated after 2½ months.

Vol 7 No 43 – Tues 28th October 1834

Editorial – Davis is now Chief Superintendent. He is a polished man but we remember his unfriendly comments about our free trade in evidence to a parliamentary committee.[28] He is said to be the author of several derogatory articles on free trade in the Quarterly Review about four years ago. No doubt he conceived his former opinions as a matter of duty to his employer.

We just reiterate that giving political power to men of commerce will be misunderstood by the Chinese government. Davis is untrained in political duties. He belongs to that school that submitted to every personal degradation for tea whereas we now embrace a policy of resistance to degrading conditions. A monopolist cannot represent free traders. The only good thing is that we know Davis and he is a responsible man.

His plan was to go home this year but he now intends to wait for overtures from the Chinese and for new instructions from England.

Our message to the King is “either leave us to our own resources in resisting oppression or intervene effectively”.

Vol 7 No 43 – Tues 28th October 1834

In the absence of a Chief Superintendent at Canton, ships are now required to visit Davis at El Palacio in Macau to get their manifests signed.

Vol 7 No 43 – Tues 28th October 1834

The Canton government has forwarded an Edict through the Hongs to the British Chamber urging the early replacement of the Chief Superintendent by a Taipan who is not a civil servant.

Vol 7 No 43 – Tues 28th October 1834

Colledge’s public letter to How Qua and Mow Qua, 21st October:

I have just seen a translation of a memorial from the Viceroy to the Emperor concerning Napier’s departure from Canton. The information you have provided to the Viceroy is false and has been reported to my government.

I need only address the personal insult in the memorial in which you describe me as a private merchant not a doctor. You have both known me for many years and are well aware of my profession.

In your country the roles of merchants and doctors are clearly distinguished. You know I have never traded. I negotiated with you because Napier was very sick and for no other reason. You have deceived the Viceroy and he the Emperor.

Sgd T R Colledge

Attached is the Viceroy’s memorial in which he reports the stoppage of trade and ejection of Napier and the two warships:

“I assembled my forces along the banks at Whampoa and brought war junks and fire rafts within sight of the barbarians. The warships belong to the merchants (i.e. India Company warships). They did not dare move their ships. Neither did they try to come ashore. When Napier realised his ships were not coming, he became fearful and asked the British merchants to beg the Hong merchants for a sampan to escape.

“Napier and the two ships had all entered China without a pass. It was wilful and contemptuous but not a very serious offence.

“Before he left Canton we wished to expose his fearful state and sent the Hong merchants to question him. Colledge said Napier entered without a passport because he did not know any better and the warships were only there to protect foreign goods. They had entered the Bogue by mistake. I did not believe it as the warships had fired on the forts and shaken the tiles. I sent the Hong merchants back to check. Colledge told them Napier was the director of British commercial affairs in China and not a Taipan and he wanted to correspond with the civil and military officers. The warships were sent in because there were many barbarian ships at Whampoa and they feared their cargo might be stolen. They said they fired on the forts in self-defence and deeply repent of the damage caused.

“We deliberated on this report from the Hongs. Napier says he is an equal but the dignity of China cannot permit this encroachment.[29] We had the warships in our power, surrounded by our forces, and unable to move. But the Emperor is benevolent and just. Napier, although absurd, has not shown real disregard for our law. Besides private British merchants have told us Napier’s disobedience is wrong. We accordingly allowed him to leave.

“On 21st September he was driven out under escort. The following day the warships were driven out as well. As regards Macau, Lantau and the other islands, I sent war junks to guard them. I sent 300 soldiers to Macau. We will maintain this protective presence until the warships are far away.” Sgd Loo

Vol 7 No 43 – Tues 28th October 1834

Order of Viceroy Loo to the British via the Hong merchants, dated 19th October.

Now the Company is dissolved you must appoint a head man to represent you. He should be a senior merchant not an official. Until his arrival please appoint someone amongst you to liaise with the Hongs.

Vol 7 No 43 – Tues 28th October 1834

Viceroy Loo to the Hongs:

It has always been the case that the provincial officers give orders to the Hongs who enjoin them on the barbarians. Now their ships are anchored at Tung Ku.[30] They do not come in to Whampoa. Instead small foreign boats travel up and down the river without submitting to search. You Hongs say you know nothing of it. In all matters concerning barbarians you Hong merchants are alone responsible.

I have told the British to appoint a Taipan to restrain the others. It is for your convenience. Their merchants are only interested in trade and know nothing of public affairs. Do not again permit a Napier to be sent here.[31]

Vol 7 No 45 – Tues 11th November 1834

How Qua and Mow Qua have replied to Colledge’s Protest that everyone knew he was a Doctor. They say when Colledge applied to come to Canton from Macau he described himself as a merchant not a doctor.[32]

Vol 7 No 46 – Tuesday 18th November 1834

Viceroy Loo’s edict:

The Emperor has ordered that there can be no official communication with barbarians but there should be a barbarian Taipan to direct affairs. The Governor will order the Hong merchants (done on 4th November) to command the barbarians to request a headman from their country.

Reply of the British merchants:

When Napier died, the role of headman passed to Davis at Macau. The regulation of British trade here is done by Davis whom we have informed of your approach.

Sgd 7 companies, 8 Englishmen and 4 Parsees. (the companies include Daniell & Co, the trading vehicle of the ex-Select Committee member who is spearheading the provision of Company finance to the free trade at Canton)

Vol 7 No 47 – Tues 25th November 1834

Explanation of Viceroy Loo to the Emperor:

“The commercial barbarians have recently become daring. Now we are starting a new trade system, it is important to bring them to order.[33] Our fundamental policy is to isolate barbarians from Chinese to maintain our dignity and sovereignty.

“Napier disobeyed the law in coming without a passport. He wanted to communicate directly with me. I told him there could be no official contact and commercial matters are attended by the Hong merchants but he could not understand.

“The English are a ferocious people. They trust in the strength of their ships. But the river is shallow and they could not come close. Napier even published a notice to the English saying my stoppage of trade was not a matter for concern. The barbarians, except in guns and fire arms, have not one single peculiar talent.

“As a result of Napier’s disturbance, the foreign merchants have become more daring and unruly. They are naturally greedy. If we are indulgent to them they become proud and overbearing. The ships of the opium smugglers are daily increasing. Just as we were regaining control of them, Napier came and disturbed everything.

“Whenever any indulgence is shown them, they advance and demand further concessions. I must make a display of repressing them. England exists by commerce. They have to come and go with the wind so they must sell their goods quickly.

As they come here for profit, the only thing they respond to is a stoppage of trade. We did so in 1808 and 1829 and they quickly became tranquil. This proves that England must have our trade.

“Recently the Hoppo’s annual receipts from English trade have been 500,000 – 600,000 taels. It seems to be a negligible sum to China.”

Vol 7 No 48 – Tues 2nd Dec 1834

The Emperor has instructed Viceroy Loo:

“It seems the forts are useless if they cannot prevent two warships entering. If your military preparations are so poor it is unsurprising that the barbarians do as they like.”

Resulting from receipt of this instruction, the naval commander Kau Yi Yung and the officers of the forts are ordered to wear the cangue publicly.

Vol 7 No 50 – Tues 16th December 1834

Lady Napier and her children have left for London on the Charles Grant. During the latter part of her stay at Macau she was disturbed in her own house by intrusive Chinese officials and Macau itself was threatened by a Chinese infantry force encamped across the frontier.

The Charles Grant also carries a petition from the free traders here to the British King detailing the wrongs they have received from the Chinese Emperor.

Their petition mentions the powerlessness of the Superintendents of Trade and the absolute need for a British Plenipotentiary with a naval force;[34] the Plenipotentiary to be someone unknown to the Chinese (not a former Company Officer of a Select Committee member).

Vol 7 No 51 – Tues 23rd December 1834

The Chinese Repository has produced an excellent review of the recent political negotiations in its November issue (Vol 3, No 7). We reproduce an edited copy of Napier’s letter to English ministers:

“In January 1831 the Canton Viceroy said it was incumbent on the British government to send a headman to manage British commerce. I was appointed to take up residence at Canton and not elsewhere.

Foreseeing the likelihood of non-recognition, I asked for authority to treat with the Chinese at Peking but this was refused.

I then asked that my appointment at Canton should be announced in Peking. This was also refused.

I then asked for a letter from the British government to the Canton government but this was felt to be inexpedient.

I was directed to come to Canton and report myself by letter.”[35] My letter was refused …..

Vol 7 No 52 – Tues 30th December 1834

Imperial edict of early November:

Chinese merchants at Canton have been levying private duties on and borrowing money from the barbarians.

Viceroy Loo has requested regulations to end these abuses. If the barbarians are charged the fair duty they will remain tranquil. If the Canton merchants add private duties and allow all the junior staff to peel-off layer after layer of the barbarians’ profit, or if they fall into debt to the barbarians, they cause the barbarians to stir up quarrels.

When Napier came and broke our law, perhaps he was responding to the illegal extortions of the Hong merchants, and trying high-handedly to improve his position and rearrange the trade?

Loo will deliberate on the best way of properly establishing the regulations with two aims in mind – that the barbarians be kept in submission and that Chinese misdemeanours are eradicated.

Loo must not connive with the Hong merchants but inflict severe punishment on offenders.

Let him report his recommendations to which the barbarians will submit gladly and extortionists will not dare to make demands of them.

Vol 7 No 52 – Tues 30th December 1834

The petition that was recently sent by the British merchants at Canton to the English King has 91 signatures of which 35 are British residents in China, 29 are commanders of British ships, 25 are visitors from India and 2 are Singaporean merchants.

When the petition arrived at Macau 6 more names were added – Thomas Crawford, Thomas Beale, C Fearon, A Robertson, R Markwick and W Allen (of the Austin). Here is the gist of the Memorial:

“We want you to maintain British honour and safe uninterrupted commerce in China. The Superintendents you appointed are not acknowledged by the Chinese; they are not permitted to reside in Canton where your orders restrict them and they are forbidden to appeal to Peking. They are powerless.

“The history of trade in China shows we have to submit to Chinese exclusiveness and to the venality of its provincial officers in Canton. This has produced Chinese contempt for and injustice to us. Sending a national representative here without adequate force to protect against insult was wrong. It has caused even more degradation to British subjects.

“Please send a suitable Plenipotentiary with a ship-of-the-line, two frigates, three or four armed vessels of light draft and a steamer. Send him to a convenient station on the east coast to demand reparation for Napier and for firing on the British warships. The superior tone and attitude of Chinese officials must be ended. It will then be expedient to ask the Chinese to appoint commissioners to adjust a commercial treaty with us. We believe, in the commended circumstances, that this will be ratified by the Imperial government.

“Our recommended course of action has every prospect of success and will not interrupt the existing trade at Canton.[36] We think the internal and coasting trade of China can be stopped by blockade. We can interdict the revenues sent to Peking and seize all the Chinese warjunks. This will not cause popular feeling in China against us.

“Our former ability to trade at Amoy, Ningpo and Chusan will be restored and new ports will be opened to our commerce. By stimulating competition between the ports, we will avoid the overcharging that plagues us annually. If the Plenipotentiary liaises with the Hong merchants in Canton he can learn from them the benefits that would result from a proper trading system.

“We have to tell you that when HMS Andromache and Imogene frigates were preparing to enter the river, the Canton Government arranged sea and land forces to oppose them, and the costs were paid by the Hong merchants who, being largely insolvent, have further taxed the foreign import & export trade to recoup the costs.

“The cause of our present disabled and restricted condition at Canton is our long acquiescence to Chinese assertions of superiority. This pretension must be repelled before we can make progress. The least concession will allow this state to continue. The Plenipotentiary should not have discretionary powers like Amherst. It must not be possible for the Chinese to persuade him to swerve from his task.

“The selection of a suitable Plenipotentiary is for you alone. We just note that if he has a former connection with China trade, a person with a history of submitting to Chinese pretensions, he will be seen as a merchant and make no progress.

“We also advise you that the person he should negotiate with must be appointed by Peking not Canton, which corrupt and oppressive conduct is a principal cause of the dispute.

“Finally he should not land in China until he is certain of an appropriate reception.”

Vol 8 No 3 – Tues 20th January 1835

Hing Tai (Sun Shing), the Hong merchant, was released from prison on 21st January. He was gaoled in August last year. Readers will recall Napier wrote Viceroy Loo that he would complain to the Emperor over the torture of Linguists and the imprisonment of Hing Tai for refusing to lie about how Napier got to Canton.

They all knew Napier arrived at Macau in a ship-of-war whilst the Viceroy wanted them to say that he arrived in Canton on a boat of the smuggling brig Lord Amherst.

Vol 8 No 8 – Tues 25th February 1835

56 British merchants have subscribed $1,465 towards the construction of a monument in memory of Lord Napier.

This list of Canton and Lintin subscribers excludes Dent’s group and all the Parsees but a further subscription in Macau lists all the Superintendents, the missionaries and William Dent.

The monument is over-subscribed and the balance will fund a benevolent institution to be connected with the Napier name, perhaps a scholarship or a hospital. The monument will be inscribed:

“To the memory of the Right Honorable William John, Lord Napier of Merchiston, Captain in the Royal Navy, His Majesty’s Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China; who died at Macau, 11th October 1834, aged 48 years

“As a naval officer he was able and distinguished. In parliament his conduct was liberal and decided. Attached to the pursuit of science, and the duties of religion, he was faithful, charitable, affectionate and kind.

“He was the first public functionary chosen by our Sovereign on the opening of trade in China to British enterprise; and his valuable life was sacrificed to the zeal with which he endeavoured to discharge the arduous duties of the situation.

“This monument is erected by the British community in China”

Vol 8 No 8 – Tues 25th February 1835

Sentencing in the case of the Linguist, who was imprisoned with Hing Tai Hong’s proprietor for permitting Napier to come to Canton has been repeatedly postponed by the An Cha Sze.

A censor is said to have appealed to Peking and the Linguist may yet be saved from punishment.

Vol 8 No 10 – Tuesday 10th March 1835

Concerning the Bengal Hurkaru editorial and letter, the Canton Register Editor wishes it known that he was alerted to the incipient dispute mentioned in it by a letter from Jardine (who withdrew his own subscription to the Canton Register paper on 25th February 1834) which was received shortly after the meeting of 16th August 1834. This letter commended the Editor to advise the British community to attend carefully to Napier’s speech.

The Bengal Hurkaru editorial:

“Nearly all our information on events in China is derived from the Canton Register. We have recently received a letter from China providing considerable information on the state of affairs there. We cannot publish it because it names names. It says we should be cautious of the Canton Register as it is controlled by a small party which does not represent the popular view. The Canton Register itself contains no hint of this alleged schism. The stoppage of trade is attributed in the letter to Napier’s surrendering himself to this faction.

“Napier’s letter to the Governor at the city gate had been refused. He in turn refused to meet officially with the Hong merchants. They then called a meeting of the British merchants. Napier responded by calling a prior meeting of the merchants in which he asked them not to attend the Hong merchants’ meeting. This refusal induced the Hongs to send four Edicts to Jardine and he, without consulting the other merchants, replied in his own name, declining to attend.

“The Hong merchants then stopped trade.

“This is what the letter writer says. He attributes the stoppage to the act of Jardine without authority of the other merchants. Whether Jardine acted improperly depends on what the community of merchants would have told the Hongs, had they been consulted, and the extent to which that differs from what Jardine told them.

“The British merchants of Canton are notorious for their bitter feuds which arise partly out of private causes. We do not know where blame lies on this occasion but the nation is injured if the merchants do not co-operate. Divided, they cannot contend with the Chinese. These disgraceful contentions should be kept out of public view so they cannot influence public policy towards the Chinese who are already known to be difficult to talk with.”

Editor – We refer the British community in China to the November, December, January and February editions of the Chinese Repository for an independent review of the documents together with reasoned opinions and conclusions. We merely note the Bengal Hurkaru Editor relates the refusal of Napier’s letter at the city gate to Napier’s refusal to officially meet the Hong merchants. Napier never intended to treat with the Hong merchants and never did. He followed his instructions by persevering in his attempts to interview the Viceroy. His letter was refused because it lacked the superscription ‘petition’ (pin) on the envelope.

Had the Viceroy received that letter, most of his subsequent complaints would have been answered, but he did not do so nor did he wonder why the Union Jack had again been hoisted over the British factory or why warships had come. He was only concerned to have received a ‘letter’ from a barbarian with its tacit connotation of equality (the missing character ‘pin’), as though from one official to another. This led inexorably to the stoppage of trade and the expulsion of Napier. All Napier’s efforts on our behalf were controverted and made redundant by Dent and the Parsees (requesting trade be re-opened).

Quotation – “The death of a man at a critical juncture, his disgust, his retreat, his disgrace, have brought innumerable calamities on a whole nation” Edmond Burke[37]

Vol 8 No 10 – Tuesday 10th March 1835

Letter copied from the Chronica de Macau of 21st February 1835:

I write to protect China from the insatiable aggressions of Europeans. China presents an innocent aspect to the World. She does not interfere with our interests or offend our dignity. Chinese policy is to maintain its culture unaltered. In this way she has preserved her people in concord longer than all other civilisations. China is uninterested in Europe. This evidences her lack of hostile intent.

The Chinese are only concerned to enforce their own laws on their own people and to keep their frontiers safe using tactics they have evolved themselves. They are not a martial race and yet the recent petitioners to the English King are dissatisfied with the extent of their plunder, evidenced for several years past by their activities at Lintin and Kum Sing Mun.

…. Middle section illegible ….

Now the Company has left, Napier had no-one to associate with except English and Parsee smugglers and buccaneers operating at Lintin and along the east coast. I should myself prefer to deal with the Hong merchants but Napier declined. They approached him with reasonable enquiries and he denied them. The Viceroy sent the Kwongchow Foo and two other dignitaries to Napier for enquiries and he referred them to the undelivered letter for all the information they wanted.

As Napier would interview no-one except the Viceroy, they gave him that officer’s order to go to Macau and await the Imperial response. Napier rejected this. The populace frequently tried to attack Napier’s residence but were restrained by Manchu soldiers. When he requested a boat to leave, it was very soon provided.

How can it now be asserted that the Chinese killed Napier with gongs and firecrackers? He was badly instructed and badly advised by those who surrounded him.

Dent may have declined to sign the petition to parliament. He and his brother arrived here more than 40 years ago and no doubt knew better. Dent’s brother has already retired with a huge fortune. The remaining Dent (Lancelot) had the means to make an even greater fortune – in fact he made two. It is more than sufficient for his living and plenty will be left to his posterity. This wealth was provided to him by China.

The ships that left China for England in April (the first free trade ships to England) doubled the fortunes that the smugglers made from Lintin. The cargo owners made 80-120% on these ‘free trade’ cargoes, which they took from an Empire they now seek to overthrow.

Sgd “the true Habakkuk

Vol 8 No 10 – Tuesday 10th March 1835

Letter to the Editor:

Habukkuk says the Emperor has done no wrong but merely ruled his people. We traders disagree. He complains our petition to the King. We are free men and the King should listen to and redress our just complaints.

Habukkuk objects to Napier going to Canton. Napier’s mission was not to Macau but to Canton.

He says the Canton populace had to be repeatedly restrained from breaking into the factories. I was there. All the shop-keepers I spoke with supported Napier and opposed their own government. The first crowd, which was small, was caused by the arrival of 300 ragged Manchu troops not the other way about. The soldiers were there to prevent provisions reaching Napier. They gambled all day and lit bright lights at night.

Habukkuk says Napier refused to receive the government officials. Not so. He received one group and said what he had to say, Morrison interpreting. Then another group demanded the substitution of Morrison for Linguists. We traders receive daily confirmation of the incompetence of Linguists. None of them can write more than a word or two in our language. Napier proposed the Linguists attend to check the interpretation of Morrison but matters of pride and chairs frustrated the intended meeting.

Concerning Napier’s death I saw myself his temperature recorded at 97ºF (36.1ºC). He was kept in the ship’s cabin which was like an oven in daylight. He had no wholesome food. What Hippocrates could have saved him from such cruelty? It constitutes a national claim for redress and it would be unwise to submit to such a wrong.

Habakkuk says Chinese shores are unprotected. They should have considered that before earning our resentment. Now their hour has come.

If Dent has made several fortunes and lost some of them, of what concern can that be to the Chinese so long as he paid the agreed price for his silks, nankeens and tea?

As for the ‘smugglers and buccaneers’ at Lintin, provided they break no law of England or act immorally there can be no British objection to their activities.

Vol 8 No 11 – Tues 17th March 1835

Editorial – The establishment of Superintendents at Macau for £35,000 p.a. is useless – it just looks like a revived Company Select Committee. The Canton Register blames the Company for Napier’s death.

The Chinese thought Napier was part of the Company and now they see him replaced by ex-officials of that Company they believe their suspicion is confirmed.

The Company still enjoys control over the tea trade by its financing operations here. The Chinese will conclude that the changes on our side are cosmetic to get better trading terms.

We cannot have any ex-Company men here. We have to start over and support our replacement officials with adequate force.

Vol 8 No 15 – Tues 14th April 1835

The Linguists Ah Tom (Kwan Ho trading as Foon Wo) and Ah Heen (earlier known as Ah Pun, also Yuen Fu, family name Ho Pun), who were imprisoned last September for treason, have been banished. They denied that Napier arrived in China in the Lord Amherst.

This was the story the Canton officials created to avoid saying Napier arrived on a King’s ship (evidence of his position as a national representative which, the Editor avers, they sought to conceal from the Emperor).

Ah Heen is declared a traitor and made a slave of the soldiers. The word ‘traitor’ in Chinese is Han Keen or Chinese traitor. It is a foul expression that is used to describe the sort of man who violates all social duty, is ungrateful to his parents and unfilial to the Emperor.

Ah Tom, who was head Linguist when Napier arrived, is banished from Canton for three years for negligence in ‘allowing Ah Heen to misrepresent the means of Napier’s arrival’.

Mr Jackson’s personal servant, who was the pilot employed by the Lord Amherst at the time of Napier’s visit, is sentenced to slavery like Ah Heen.

These three and the Lord Amherst security merchant Sun Shing (Hing Tai) have been heavily punished for doing no more than their duty. We should protest this tyranny. We should provide proofs of their innocence and throw them in at the city gate with a petition for justice.

Viceroy Loo is presently in Kwong Si province reviewing the troops. When he returns their sentences will be ratified and commenced. Before then we should let him know that if we cannot get justice here we will report the matter to the Governors of one or more of the other coastal provinces.

This is an excellent opportunity to disclose the real nature of this Canton administration. If we succeed it will indicate that the trade can protect itself.

Vol 8 No 17 – Tues 28th April 1835

Calcutta Courier – We have seen some new documents concerning Napier’s mission. One is the Viceroy’s report to his own government. He says the attitude adopted towards Napier was expressly designed to check his pretensions:

“The commercial barbarians have recently become daring. Now we are starting a new trade system, it is important to bring them to order.”

He also notes the English trade produces 500,000 – 600,000 taels a year to the treasury.

He says “the said barbarians, except in guns and fire arms, have not one single peculiar talent.”

Finally the report is not as bombastic as usual.

The Parsee petition to the Hong merchants and Whiteman & Co’s letter, both begging for trade to be reopened, tended to compromise the King’s representative and bring him into contempt with the Chinese. This is clear from the Viceroy’s reference to them.

Vol 8 No 22 – Tues 2nd June 1835

The long drought and the ineffectiveness of official prayers for rain has caused the provincial government to consider releasing prisoners as a means of demonstrating mercy and morality.

Friends of Ho Pun, the Linguist imprisoned for helping Napier come to Canton, petitioned the authorities with presents for his release, but the recent brief rain shower caused the government to conclude it is not to blame for the dry spell. After considering the petition for four days, it was denied but the presents were retained.

Wong, the pilot of the ship which boat brought Napier up to Canton (also known as Jackson’s servant in the earlier report), who was likewise imprisoned, died on 5th May. At least that is what his gaolers say but death certificates are sometimes issued to permit an inmate to be released, change his name and continue his life overseas.

Vol 8 No 28 – Tues 14th July 1835

London Morning Post Editorial:

“When you enter the frontiers enquire about the prohibitions – when you enter a country enquire into its customs”.

Napier infringed this in two ways. Firstly, he ordered the frigates to Chuen Pi and (‘to take the pulse of the Chinese’) to appear on other parts of the coast. And secondly, by going from Macau to Canton without a passport.

The first will have been viewed by the Chinese as offensive; the second as a smuggler’s act.[38] Only last year Chinese vexations about H M ships in China were removed by Plowden, whose influence with the Chinese obtained a satisfactory reception for HMS Magicienne.

Napier fell into the hands of a faction at Canton who have for some years been bent on causing a rupture between England and China. As the Viceroy said, Napier should ‘on no account permit himself to be deluded by men around him’. Until then there can be no security for our valuable China trade.

Vol 8 No 28 – Tues 14th July 1835

London Morning Herald Editorial, 11th December 1834:

The China free-traders are dissatisfied with the provisions of the Order-in-Council provided for Napier. They say the liberty of every Englishman is placed in the power of one man. Punishment for desertion and imprisonment can be awarded without trial. They say it is unnecessary because the Superintendents are empowered to try by jury.

They complain that the Order-in-Council assumes Chinese officials applied for a ‘headman’ to be sent. The Chinese government made no such application. What occurred was a Company request that the Chinese tea monopolists (the Hong merchants) ask the English tea monopolists (the Company) to send a ‘headman’ which the Company Directors thought would bolster their dying cause.

It is on this single letter from the Hongs that the King-in-Council has jeopardised the liberty of Englishmen in China.

Editor – The Superintendents are also the Company’s Agents in China. This should concern manufacturers and merchants in England. They should consider the effect that the Company’s cash advances for teas have on their own interests. The advances exclude from this market as much goods as there are advances – effectively, they raise the price of tea and lower the demand for British goods. They are consequently in opposition to the Superintendents’ duty of promoting British trade.

Eventually this system will sacrifice British trade in China to the Company. If it is necessary to place a credit in China on the Bengal government, that credit should be lodged with the Superintendents and sent home to England as Indian revenue for the shareholders of the Company. The Company’s Agent is presently fostering the Hong merchants to the detriment of our national trade.[39]

Vol 8 No 42 – Tues 20th October 1835

Ho Pun, the Linguist assigned to the Lord Amherst last year, is preparing to commence his journey to Ili to begin his banishment. He has spent all his assets in captivity and his wife and children have little to subsist on.

The Hong merchants and Linguists have subscribed a purse for him and we hope the foreigners will also give him aid. He has been dragged into punishment through his official connection with us.[40]

Vol 8 No 43 – Tuesday 27th October 1835

Letter to the Editor:

The tariff and Consoo Fund are important matters to us. The Company historically asked the robbers to redress the robbery.

Napier tried to approach a higher power but schism amongst the merchants and inadequate power delegated by Britain caused him to fail.

If British manufacturers now find their interests affected they should themselves call attention to the problem in England.

Sgd Delta[41]

Vol 8 No 47 – Tues 24th November 1835

We have received a note from the son of the banished Linguist Ho Pun:

“An innocent man, torn from his mother and separated from his family, begs for help.

When Lord Napier arrived, the Viceroy was angry and blamed my father because Napier did not announce his arrival by petition and because my father did not prevent him coming.

He is banished to the army at Ili as a slave. If he had a little money he might survive. Without it he will die.

I beg the Taipans to help me so I might let him buy the necessaries of life.”

Sgd Ho Ka (Ho’s family), 25th November 1835

Vol 8 No 48 – Tues 1st December 1835

Yesterday was St Andrews Day and Wm Jardine hosted a dinner for 67 people, including one Chinese (Hing Tai, also known as Sun Shing, the Hong merchant).

Vol 8 No 49 – Tues 8th December 1835

Mr Jackson’s servant, Wong Ah Chung, is banished 3,000 Li from Canton to Anhwei Province. It has not been determined where the Linguist Ho Pun and the pilot of the Lord Amherst are to be banished.

Vol 8 No 51 – 22nd December 1835

Letter to the Editor:

The fate of Ho Pun et al is terrible. The law prevents Chinese from having contact with us but the Emperor has made foreign trade legal at Canton and the provincial government appoints Linguists and pilots who have unsupervised contact with us.

Now a Linguist and a Pilot are punished for doing their jobs and refusing to lie about it. Worse a European’s servant is to be transported for accompanying his master.

This cover-up by the provincial government is a flagrant act of injustice. This does not uphold the dignity of the celestial Empire it merely inspires terror and crushes the cringing people. It does not fill us with veneration or warrant submission. This act was to frighten all those in the service of foreigners. They cannot faithfully serve us when their acts may be interpreted as treason.

Will this attract the best people to the foreign trade? Will we advance money for purchase of our goods unless tempted by exorbitant interest rates? I abhor a system that stigmatises a Chinese with infamy for approaching a foreigner and considers contact with us as an infection which must be unrelentingly cauterised.

Sgd Constant Reader.

Vol 9 No 7 – 16th February 1836

The Canton Register Editor Slade publishes an aspersion on Lancelot Dent’s immaturity (he is now in his thirties):

The rights and wrongs of Napier’s abortive mission may never be known. How Qua knows the Chinese side but he will not tell. The question of the correct British policy towards China is a question of opinion only. We all agree we should increase trade to obtain a more powerful basis to our presence. We all supported Napier in refusing to meet the Hong merchants at the Consoo House (All except Daniell, now the Company’s financial agent, who did not attend Napier’s meeting).

Napier had already warned us that trade might be stopped in consequence. He also told us he would hold fast to his residence in the factories. No one dissented. Napier wanted us to act together.

Why we did not do so is little known.

Crito’s letter in the last edition of the Canton Press provides a clue. When the Select Committee was divided in 1829 (Baynes’ rebellion), Crito says there was a corresponding split amongst the free traders. He also says there was a good understanding between Dents and Jardines and the Company until 1826 when old Dent retired and left China. To suggest the bickering today commenced in 1829 is absurd.

The fact is Jardines always aids and assists his fellow merchants with money, credit and advice, whether they are here or in India or England. We are now perusing the paper of ‘Hints for the Free Trade in China’ which Jardine circulated. This was a noble and becoming gesture and he reaped a just reward in an unprecedented increase in his business.

This success aroused the jealousy of Dents who came here for trade long before Jardine. The Dents thus created a pacific party to accumulate and focus hostility on Jardines. A businessman succeeds because he impresses those who meet him that he can be depended upon. That is the conduct of Jardine; that was the conduct of old Dent.

Vol 9 No 22 – Tuesday 31st May 1836

The Linguist Ho Pun and Jackson’s servant Wong Ah Chung have commenced their journey to Yunnan where they will be enslaved to the army. En route at Kanchow in Kiang Si, Ho Pun became unwell and died. Wong has just informed Ho Pun’s son by letter.

Vol 9 No 32 – Tuesday 9th August 1836

London news – In the parliamentary report for March 1836, Lord Sandon asked Palmerston whether the vacancy left by Napier would be filled. Palmerston replied that the importance of Britain’s China trade induced the government to pause before adopting new measures. He said in any event that there are three Superintendents of British trade at Canton!

Editor – the news of Napier’s withdrawal and death reached London in February 1835 yet a year later the House is told the Superintendents are in Canton, inferring they are recognised by the Chinese and exercising their functions.

Vol 9 No 33 – Tuesday 16th August 1836

Sir George Staunton has published a response to H H Lindsay’s “Remarks on British Relations with China”, 1836. Here is the Canton Register Editor’s comments:

He seems to dread war. The Company, who employed Staunton, was frequently in opposition to the Imperial and local government, the Hong merchants and the Linguists. It frequently asserted the honour of England even if its staff did not exemplify it. How can their policy be right and a demonstration of our power be wrong?
He fears British trade will be stopped and our business will fall to the Americans, but, if there was a protracted struggle, we would surely blockade Chinese ports and no-one will get any tea.
Staunton describes China as a friendly power. Perhaps it was in his day. Does China admit equality with Britain today; would a Canton official admit a Company Taipan as equal?
Staunton says the conduct of the Chinese to Napier was correct. Napier should not have gone to Canton knowing it was illegal. His advisers must have told him so. In fact the Chinese did not take the point until later. They first connived at Napier’s infraction. And whilst it may be true that ‘no person is permitted to visit Canton from Macau without a passport,’ this regulation is often disregarded and the infractions connived at by local officials. Sir George should have made this clear.
He also says the Viceroy’s request for a replacement of the Select Committee did not constitute an invitation to Napier. They called for a chief trader not a government emissary.

He should recall Napier’s proclamation in Chinese of 26th August 1834, hung on the door of the ex-Company factory. This was published in English in the 2nd September 1834 edition of Canton Register. It demolishes Sir George’s argument. We think that those who tell us ’to reason with the Chinese on equal grounds’ are not the friends of England.

Sir George knows how the Canton government operates. Why does he defend How Qua and the other dishonourable liars and censure a distinguished officer and nobleman? We think Sir George is angling for his own appointment as ambassador to China but he should know his former employment by the Company totally rules him out.

Vol 10 No 18 – 2nd May 1837

In an editorial comment to an article recited from The Atheneum in this edition:

….. Viceroy Loo told Napier that the Chinese government would never voluntarily abandon the Hong merchant system.

Vol 10 No 3 – 16th January 1838

Asiatic Journal of August 1837 contains a fairly impartial account of Napier’s visit to China (based on articles in the Canton Press). We recite some parts:

After Viceroy’s Loo’s threat to call out the army, Napier realised he could not succeed and decided to leave Canton to permit the re-opening of British trade. He said he could not continue in a course of action that brought loss to the British merchants. The Viceroy was opposed to Napier personally not to the British trade.

The British Chamber regretted the unwillingness of some members to support Napier. There was faction in Napier’s own camp as well.

The new Superintendents of Trade were drawn from ex-Company staff and both they and the Company’s ‘Finance Committee’ were opposed by the country traders.

The financial resources of the Company disproportionately influenced the Hong merchants beyond the capital of the free traders, while the rivalry of the Company’s Agents with the free traders worked against Napier’s chance of success.

He was also opposed by most Parsee traders who petitioned him to consider their perilous commercial situation.

This divisiveness is something the Chinese are skilled at exploiting. Thus the moral strength of unanimity that might have been Napier’s was denied him.

Vol 11 No 7 – 13th February 1838

A copy of the Asiatic Journal’s article on Napier’s negotiations with the authorities at Canton has been published by the author as a separate paper. We hope this will draw public attention on the state of things here.

Napier had ‘proposed to himself to hand his name down to posterity as the man who has thrown open the wide field of the Chinese Empire to British spirit and industry.’ We hope this publication tends towards that end.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Local residents will recall it was Daniell’s intrigues with the Hong merchants, as a member of the Select in 1834, that undermined Napier’s attempts to make direct communication with the then Viceroy.

Vol 13 No 4 – 28th January 1840

Our correspondent Brittanicus says Napier was obliged to beg for his release from Canton. The basis to Napier’s departure is found in the following documents.

Napier to Chamber of Commerce, 14th September 1834:

“I received the Viceroy’s edict of 11th September yesterday. Any further attempt to influence him is redundant. The Hoppo’s edict of 9th September to Whiteman & Co says once I have left Canton, trade will reopen. Please order up the Louisa from Whampoa so I may leave.” and

Napier to the British merchants, 15th September 1834:

“My presence in Canton is causing you loss. I have asked the Chamber to help me leave Canton so trade may reopen. The Chinese objection is personal to me and not against your trade so my departure will not compromise your interests. I have tried to comply with my instructions. I nearly succeeded twice but I can now say there is no further hope of success.” and

Colledge to Chamber, 18th Sept 1834:

“Napier’s sickness is serious. I am arranging with the Hong merchants for his removal from Canton”.

These three letters reveal Napier never offered the Viceroy a retraction as alleged by Brittanicus in his letter.[42]

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

Extracts from official correspondence continued …..

J F Davis to Palmerston, 7th August 1834:

Napier will only communicate directly with the Viceroy. I agree. Our government by Hong merchants is detrimental to our trade. Under the India Company, British buying and selling was concentrated and could be directed to alleviate the power of the Hongs. Since 1834 our national trade has been fragmented and we do not have the India Company’s ability to communicate directly. Without direct access we can do nothing.

Napier to Pam, 14th August 1834:

I am supposed to report my arrival by letter to the Viceroy. Even if I petition through the Hong merchants, the present state of relations requires my letter to be refused.

India Company Agents in China to the Court of Directors:

Napier requested marines from Imogene and Andromache to protect the company’s treasury. He did not tell us first. Actually our treasury then contained less silver than many private companies’ treasuries.

Editor – the smugglers were alarmed and one made arrangements to transfer its treasure to Macau but the India Company was less concerned as its trade was not objected to. It was only the private traders who were angering the Chinese.

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

Editorial – a long list of defects in the arguments presented to parliament on opium compensation (i.e. for war) are identified. They suggest parliamentarians were inadequately informed to decide the matter. They could hardly resist the ministry, inter alia:

  • Had the armed boats of Imogene and Andromache gone to Canton with the armed boats of the merchant fleet on 7th – 8th September, Napier would have succeeded. We know Napier expected the frigates’ boats to come. (this is new information that puts a bad light on Napier’s treatment by his colleagues)
  • The treatment of Napier should be attributed to the intrigues (‘treason is not too strong a word’ says Editor Slade) of James Daniell of the India Company Agency.[43]

Vol 13 No 42 – 20th Oct 1840

Sir G B Robinson has petitioned the Crown to permit him to report his knowledge of some facts concerning Napier’s mission from mid-August 1834 up to the death of that officer. The Queen has consented to it being laid before parliament. The following is extracted from the ‘Records of Proceedings’ of the Superintendents in China:

“While dining with Napier on 4th September 1834 we were interrupted by our Chinese servants and those of the Company saying soldiers had surrounded the factory and were preparing to enter.

We descended to the front door and saw a large body of troops assembling outside. They were landing from boats and had already cut off the river escape. The larger boats carried chains and iron manacles. I thought we were to be taken prisoner.

All the servants fled leaving 8 – 9 Europeans.

We learned we were to be detained in the factory. Napier said he would apply to Capt Blackwood to bring both warships up to Whampoa and send marines without delay. Jardine provided his schooner Hawk to take Napier’s instructions down to the warships.

By midnight Napier was anxious on two counts:

    • He wanted pilots for the warships and
    • He worried that Davis, who was then returning from Macau in Louisa, remained unaware of the new circumstances.

He then felt one or both warships should await Louisa at Whampoa. He asked me (Robinson) to check if he could forward a letter to this effect to Whampoa and thence to the Bogue. I found no-one would take the letter and no boat was available.

I then suggested I should take the letter to Capt Blackwood. Markwick got me on board his ferryboat St George unobserved and I sailed to the Fort William at Whampoa where the 2nd Officer Wilson volunteered to pilot one of the warships.

I arrived at HMS Imogene late that night. The marines had already started for Canton (I must have passed them unseen in the river). I sent the St George ferry to Macau to alert the Louisa intending it to then alert the shipping at Kum Sing Mun. The Louisa joined us on 6th September and James, a former captain of the Louisa, agreed to pilot HMS Andromache. On Sunday 7th Sept we entered the river. We could send messages only by hiding them on Chinese boatmen. I sent several letters by this means to Napier but he received only one. The others were all returned to me by the respective boatmen. Sgd G B Robinson

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Elsewhere in the main text Viceroy Loo’s foot problem is called “wine and wind foot – jau fung gerk,” an expression unrecognised today but which is likely gout.
  2. Plowden left China in January – this letter is from Davis. He withholds any indication of how the British merchants will be represented after the Company’s departure.
  3. Viceroy Loo’s mention of ‘the new chief’ reveals he is unaware of the intention to send a diplomatic representative in replacement of the Taipan and Select. On learning of the approaching end of the India Company’s exclusive trade, the Hong Merchants petitioned the Viceroy in January 1831 for instructions and were told to ask the English to “appoint a chief who understands the business to come to Canton for the general management of the commercial dealings …” It seems adequately apparent from this that the British ministry / India Company were gambling with the appointment of Napier in an attempt to elevate the connection from the Chief Supercargo of the Company to a diplomat.
  4. The House of Napier was elevated to the peerage in 1807 – see the Europe chapter.
  5. It is not mentioned in this article but develops below, and would be well to note here, that Napier was led by Davis / Robinson to travel from Whampoa to Canton in a boat of the Lord Amherst, one of the smuggling brigs deployed on the east coast of China. He arrived at Canton from this boat after midnight and there was an immediate dispute with officials at the landing steps, presumably over his lack of a passport. The fisticuffs required John Davis to immediately return to Macau.
    There is no published indication why Napier waited 10 days in Macau first or why the journey was started so late as to involve arrival Canton at midnight. As a matter of speculation over timing one can conceive of an argument based on tidal flows.
  6. Son the former Chief Justice of Ceylon.
  7. Delta is Lancelot Dent, head of Dent & Co., the leading merchant house supporting the India Company at Canton.
  8. A reference to the HMS Topaze affair when the Select spent six weeks on the shipping outside the river pretending they had withdrawn from China trade. See the China chapter for better particulars.
  9. This refers to young Morrison, son of the just deceased sinologist.
  10. The reader must make up his own mind but superficially, whilst Napier’s voice may have been calm, his words in his meeting with the Provincial officials and in his public letter and elsewhere are all confrontational.
  11. This is the entire British trading community at Canton – about 60 proprietors, half British and half Parsee. The 16 individual merchants that form half of the British half of this community are mainly former ships officers of the Company’s fleet. Their numbers are few but their influence is immense. This tiny group caused the war with China. One is reminded of the similarly small number of people who started the French Revolution. Government is a fragile thing.
  12. Astell’s father has long been a Director of the Company and MP. He himself was a writer on the Company’s China staff before joining Napier’s Commission.
  13. c.f. the first Persian Ambassador to St James who remained secluded in his hotel until presented at Court – mentioned in the Europe chapter.
  14. A statement of the Chinese social contract ‘the Emperor rules with justice, the people obey; the Emperor rules unjustly, the people rebel’.
  15. The British difficulty is in progressing their China interests in the way they did in their other outposts around the globe. The Chinese proscription on owning land, the temporary nature of residence in the factories, the ban on females accompanying merchants, the disincentive of bringing or using arms caused by the ‘life for a life’ principle – these all effectively meant their endeavours in Canton were restricted to trade which, maddeningly, is why they say they had come.
  16. The Editor says that at the official rate of 30 barbarians a month it would take 15 years to legally exercise the whole foreign community which he must have calculated at 5,400 foreign traders at Canton. It is absurdly excessive and ruins a good point.
  17. See the China chapter for details of this edict about renting flower girls and boys.
  18. Some historians have associated the letters of A British Merchant with William Jardine although BM’s letters continue after Jardine left China. I think they are more likely Matheson’s work but conceivably, if there is a connection with J M & Co.,  A British Merchant represented the views of all the partners.
  19. He was an assistant Collector at Ahmednaggur in 1822 and subsequently the Company’s Resident at Kutch. See the Asia chapter above.
  20. Recall from the Asia chapter that the Chinese Amban at Lhasa wrote to Governor-General Bentinck about the British Residency at Kathmandu. The difference appears to be that the Governor-General in Calcutta is patently a British official administering a neighbouring province whilst Napier’s status in China is uncertain. The distance of Lhasa from Peking might also allow the Amban greater independence of action.
  21. The Lord Amherst is secured by Sun Shing, also known as the Hong merchant Hing Tai. The Linguist employed by Lord Amherst and his superior, the Chief Linguist, together with the boat’s pilot Wong Ah Chung (described as Jackson’s servant) were also arrested.
    This is the first mention I found in the Canton Register newspaper, seven weeks after Napier’s arrival in Canton, of people being arrested for taking him there.
  22. The Royal Estate at Brighton was a project of the Prince of Wales, later George IV, and became a popular resort of the Royal Family. At that time Brighton was on the best route to France and the continent.
  23. Both in the Jardine Matheson agency. The Hellas trades on the east coast of China.
  24. This Burma treaty and other similar incidents tend to suggest that the British were poor negotiators. They made-up for this lack of skill by violence.
  25. The meaning of this provocative last sentence is not elucidated but the Canton Register publishes documents from Peking, some before they are seen by the Viceroy in Canton. Presumably, Catholic priests in Macau who have access to the transcription office are the ‘new ways and means’.
  26. Apart from the Parsees, Whiteman, one of the British traders in the Company faction, a former East Indiaman commander and sole proprietor of Whiteman & Co, also petitioned for reopened trade at that time (2nd September) along with Dent & Co and John Brightman, an Anglo-Indian trading as Brightman & Co.
  27. See the China and Chinese Law and Customs chapters for details of this matter and the many other deaths caused by British seamen at Whampoa, Canton and the many smuggling bases in the estuary.
  28. He perspicaciously told the 1830 Commons Select Committee that British trade would become entirely a smuggling trade on the removal of the Company from Canton.
  29. In this sentence, the Viceroy expresses the key to Napier’s failure – the attempt to establish an alternative government.
  30. Today called Lung Kwu Chau, off Castle Peak in the Hong Kong SAR. It is an occasional smuggling base in the summer months but unpopular because the deep water stream along the east side of the estuary is so fast-flowing.
  31. This transliteration of Napier was the derogatory phononym for ‘nay peer’ mentioned in all English histories, most recently Priscilla Napier’s helpful book ‘Barbarian Eye’ of 1995.
  32. This is an unfortunate result for Colledge but it is the case that only people describing themselves as merchants could formally come-up to Canton. This may have been a consideration of Napier’s in electing to arrive without one rather than await Imperial permission. He might have thought that awaiting the Emperor’s permission was derogatory of the British character.
  33. The ‘new trade system’ referred to by the Viceroy is the Eight Regulations enacted after Baynes’ rebellion which are to form the basis to trade on the end of the Company’s monopoly. See the China chapter.
  34. A plenipotentiary has full powers to use force, bribery or whatever works to achieve his national aims and the government would customarily be bound by his agreements.
  35. These instructions sufficiently explain why Plowden dropped out, whatever reasons he might have publicly asserted.
  36. The free traders commend Britain to fight in the north while they themselves continue to trade in the south. It will be recalled that every British ministry is dependent on tea revenue. Indeed every British ministry since the wars with France has become entirely dependent on the City merchants for maintenance of the value of its securitised national debt and for payment of Customs & Excise. Whilst the Company is no longer the consignee, it is often the tea-owner through its trade financing. Its controls on shipping, insurance, warehousing and auction of all the tea and silk imports it finances are still continued.
    It is fundamental to the free-traders’ interests that they convince the home government of their own importance in this respect.
  37. This article has caused me to recall the commencement of ‘The Club’ mentioned in the China chapter. It was a dining and discussion group of partners of trading firms and military officers of Captain’s rank and above. It was established at this time to settle uniformity of opinion on the British free traders. See the China chapter for more information on ‘The Club‘ and the ‘Juniors’ Club.
  38. The first sentence is an aphorism attributed to Confucius. This article reports the Company’s preferred plan. By linking Napier with the smuggling trade (absence of passport; arrival at Canton at midnight in a boat of a smuggling brig, advertising to buy the smugglers’ silver with Bills, provisions from Jardine, residence in Innes’ apartment) they invite the Chinese officials to assume he has come to protect smuggling, as indeed a British representative would be obliged to do and did after conclusion of the War.
  39. Viceroy Loo published an Edict in November 1834 requesting the British King to send a Taipan (literally Head Merchant) to control the British trading community. Napier’s instructions referred to an Edict of the prior Viceroy Lee in 1831 along similar lines as quoted in footnote 3 above.
  40. Ah Tom (Kwan Ho) was the head Linguist whilst Ah Heen (known as Yuen Fu and Ho Pun) was the appointed linguist for the Lord Amherst. Napier arrived at Whampoa from Macau. He left H M Cutter Louisa there for undisclosed reasons and continued in a boat of the Lord Amherst to Canton. The Lord Amherst pilot (Jackson’s servant Wong Ah Chung) was in the boat with Napier. These four Chinese – the pilot Wong Ah Chung, Linguist Ah Heen, his boss Ah Tom and the Security Merchant Sun Shing – were held responsible for bringing Napier to Canton. Wong Ah Chung was first banished to Anhwei, later amended to Yunnan, same as Ah Heen. Ho Pun was exiled to Yunnan but died en route. Sun Shing was gaoled for 5 months.
  41. Delta’s (Dent’s) suggestion is adopted by the merchants in China and becomes the means whereby one or two of them persuade British Chambers of Commerce to oblige the British parliament to support them.
  42. I could not find Brittanicus’ letter in my copy of Canton Register.
  43. Daniell allowed this and similar comments to pass unchallenged

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