Citation
Our relations with China : speech delivered in the House of Commons, June 27th 1876 by Henry Richard

Material Information

Title:
Our relations with China : speech delivered in the House of Commons, June 27th 1876 by Henry Richard
Spine title:
Anti opium tracts
Creator:
Richard, Henry, 1812-1888 ( Author, Primary )
Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. ( Contributor )
Place of Publication:
London
Publisher:
Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
22cm, 40p.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Opium trade -- China -- History -- 19th century ( lcsh )
鸦片贸易 -- 中国 -- 历史 -- 19世纪
鴉片貿易 -- 中國 -- 歷史 -- 19世紀
Drug control ( lcsh )
药物管制
Commerce ( lcsh )
商業
商业
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- China
亚洲 -- 中国
亞洲 -- 中國
Coordinates:
35 x 103

Notes

General Note:
VIAF (Name Authority) : Richard, Henry, 1812-1888 : URI http://viaf.org/viaf/32750291

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS University of London
Holding Location:
SOAS, University of London
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
CWML O 196 ( ALEPH )
654355665 ( OCLC )

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Full Text
S P E E C H
DELIVERED IN THE
HOUSE OF COMMONS, JUNE 27rn, 1876.
BY
HENRY RICHARD, M.P.
“Neither our own consciences nor the judgment of mankind will acquit us, if, when wo are asked to what use we have turned our opportunities in China and Japan] we can only say that wo havo filled our pockots from among tho ruins which wo have found or made.”—Lord Elgin.,,
LONDON:
HOD DEB, AND STOUGHTON.
187G.


--------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------- '
LONDON;
PRINTED JBY WERTHEIMER, LEA. AND 00. FINSBURY CIRCUS.
/


PREFACE.
At tlie request of some gentlemen interested in our relations with China (alas ! that these should be so few!) I publish this speech. My object lias been to saddle the responsibility of the policy pursued in that country upon the British, rather than upon the Indian Government, though both are accomplices in the flagrant wrong inflicted upon the Chinese by the opium traffic. The discussion to which my motion gave rise was, in one respect at least, satisfactory, for no attempt was made from any quarter to defend that odious trade on its own merits. Even Mr. Bourke, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who spoke on behalf of the Government, acknowledged in a manner sufficiently explicit that it admitted of “ no defence on moral grounds.” We seem on all hands to be coming to the conclusion that there is nothing to say injts vindication except


IV
PREFACE.
that it is a profitable iniquity. This must be field to indicate a considerable advance as compared witfi tfie line taken on former occasions when tfie subject was brought before Parliament, and may, I venture to think, be regarded as evidence that the labours of the Anti-Opium Association, and the admirable writings of Dr. Bridges, Mr. Fry, and others, have not been without effect upon the national conscience. May we not hope that, after a policy has been abandoned to condemnation on moral grounds, the time is not distant when a nation calling itself Christian will feel that it is not right or safe to pursue a course which is avowedly in defiance of that “ righteousness which exaltetli a nation ?”
H. R.
22, Bolton Gardens,
London, S.W.


SPEECH.
Mr. Speaker :—The question to which I have to call the attention of the House this evening, it will be admitted on all hands, is one of very grave importance. We have, by our own act, or by a series of acts, entered into relations with an Empire containing between three and four hundred millions of souls, and forming probably not much less than a third of the whole human race. Assuredly, it is desirable that those relations should be friendly and pacific. That they are not so, that they have not been so, any time for the last forty or fifty years, is unhappily too notorious. A few months ago, wc seemed to be on the eve of another war with China, which, if it had broken out, would have been the fourth war we have waged against the Chinese within one generation. Now, the question arises—Whose fault is it that our relations with that country are in so disturbed and unsatisfactory a condition ? Well, a thorough-going and unscrupulous patriotism would say without hesitation, and with great emphasis—It is entirely the fault of the Chinese : they are an arrogant, insolent, treacherous race of barbarians, or semi-barbarians, who know not how to keep faith or observe treaty engagements, and they have come into contact with us, an


6
upright, honourable, law-abiding people, who are always faithful to our obligations, and who have shown the most wonderful forbearance towards them; while they are resisting, by cunning and chicanery, our efforts to introduce among them the germs of a higher and better civilisation than their own. Unhappily, the voice of historical truth does not ratify this self-complacent judgment. On the contrary, my impression is, after a somewhat careful study of the question for many years, that there is no part of our history upon which an honest Englishman, who brings to the examination of the case an unprejudiced mind and an unsophisticated conscience, can look back with so little of complacency, or with more of mortification or shame, than tliat which records our doings in China. That is to say, if we are to be judged by the ordinary rules of international morality. But if we arc chartered libertines, men above ordinances, as some of the sectaries in the time of the Commonwealth claimed to be; if we have a dispensation which absolves us from observing the obligations of the moral law in certain latitudes and towards certain races of men, that is of course a different matter, and we are absolutely without any standard by which we can estimate our own conduct. And it really seems to me that some of our countrymen in the East seem disposed to push their pretensions even to that extent. I read in a recent number of the “ China Mail ” these words—“We dispute that China lias international rights similar


7
to those preserved by our ourselves and other Western nations. Justice to a semi-barbarian nation becomes injustice to our own people.” But I hope the British Parliament will lend no countenance to such immoral doctrines as these. It seems to me, indeed, that one source of the errors into which we have fallen in China is just this, that we have virtually abandoned the initiative and the direction of our policy into the hands of a small commercial community, who have powerful connections at home, and who have interests real, or imaginary, of their own to subserve, which, in my opinion, are not always the interests of the nation. It is not necessary for me to disclaim any hostility to commerce. I honour commerce as, next to Christianity, the most powerful agent in the civilisation of mankind, dispelling ignorance, effacing prejudice, multiplying ten-fold by diffusion, the beneficent gifts with which Providence has endowed humanity, and bringing men of different nations and races into relations of mutual dependence for the promotion of their common happiness and well-being. But that must be commerce content to clothe itself in its own legitimate attributes, and to use means that are in harmony with its own character. Not the commerce that is always clamouring for gun-boats and broadsides; not the commerce that wants to force itself on unwilling populations at the mouth of the cannon and at the point of the bayonet; not the commerce which is always holding its
____ .umi iWO


8
loaded revolver at the head of its customers to force them to receive articles which they do not want, or which they reject with abhorrence as injurious to them. I deny that that is honourable and legitimate commerce. I have no doubt that there are among our countrymen in China and Burinah, and other Eastern countries, many who cherish friendly and generous feelings towards the people among whom they live and with whom they trade, and would willingly do and are doing, what lies in their power to befriend them. But I am afraid that is not the case with the majority, if we judge by the tone of the organs who are supposed to represent their sentiments. The fault I find with these classes of our countrymen is this—that they seem to be always looking out for occasions of offence, and when they arise, though they may be of a trivial character, they eagerly seize upon them, and do everything in their power to present them in the most aggravated form, and make them the foundation for invoking the extremest measures— measures of vengeance, of aggression, of annexation. They seem always intent upon pushing this country into war with Oriental nations ; wars in which they do not fight, and for which they do not pay. The way in which the thing is managed is this: When any difference arises between our officials and some Eastern Power—and differences will arise without any necessity of assuming that either side is purposely and perversely in the wrong, the most alarming telegrams


9
are sent to this country about insult to the British Minister, or insult to the British flag, and the other customary phrases which rouse the British lion. And although later and more accurate intelligence may show that they were grossly exaggerated, if not altogether unfounded, they have in the meantime done their office in inflaming public opinion at home, and preparing a certain class of writers in our own press, to raiso the cry for vengeance and war. I can give some illustrations of the spirit of which I complain in connection with a late event in the East, which has attracted much attention in this country, I mean the expedition to Yunnan and the murder of Mr. Margary. As soon as intelligence of that deplorable event reached China, our countrymen there, in the absence of all authentic information, immediately rushed to the conclusion that it was owing to the treachery of the Burmese or Chinese Government, or a combination of both. Now there is abundant evidence to prove, especially that of Dr. Anderson, who was himself a member of the expedition, that there is no ground whatever for the accusation that either the Burmese Government or people were implicated in that matter. On the contrary, Dr. Anderson shows that the embassy was treated with marked honour and hospitality. ‘ ‘ Nothing, ’ ’ he says, “ was left undone to show that the king delighted to honour the members of the mission.
........A numerous guard was assembled, the
royal order being that the mission was to be safely
escorted to the Chinese frontier.” That guard *
.a â– 



10
performed its duty with the utmost vigilance and faithfulness, and at the hazard of their own lives protected the members of the expedition, when they were assailed. ‘‘Nothing,” says Dr. Anderson, u would have been easier than for the Burmese to have deserted their charge, but from first to last they displayed a zealous fidelity beyond all praise.” But while the Burmese sovereign and people were acting thus, what were our countrymen in China saying ? These are the words of the “North China Herald” for May 15th, 1875
“ The impression in India is strong that the King of Burma was the chief instigator of the outrage .... If the Burmese king’s complicity can be proved so much the better. His deposition and the advance of the British frontier to the borders of Yunnan would be a great political gain.” In another number of the same paper we read:—“ If a share of the responsibility can be brought home to the King of Burma, we fancy his tenure of power will become precarious. There can be no doubt that England would be conferring a boon on the people by incorporating Burma Proper with the sea-board territory over which she already rules.” So again with regard to China, there is no proof whatever that the Chinese Government was guilty of any complicity in the murder of Mr. Margary. Yet that was quietly assumed and immediate hostilities demanded. The “ North China Herald ” of April 15th, 1875, says :—


11
“ Apart from the punishment of the crime, a and beyond the necessity to re-establish our “ prestige on the frontier, arises the broad ques-“ tion of our position and policy in China, and “ the opportunity should be taken to re-assert “ both with a firm hand. It cannot be denied “ that the influence gained by the last war has “ been gradually slipping from us, the respect “ which our victories insured for us has been “ dying out, and the traditional influence of the ‘Chinese mandarin is again obnoxiously evident. “ It is high time to remedy this, and the present “ opportunity is a favourable one to teach the “ Chinese a new lesson.”
So that what these modest people proposed was, that on mere suspicion, we should take two wars upon our own hands in the East—one in Burmah, to end by the annexation of the whole country to our Indian territories, and the other with China, to teach the Chinese a lesson, and also to annex—for that was part of the programme—some further portion of that country, for our countrymen in all parts of the world have a perfect mania for annexation. When we went to war with Abyssinia, we were told that after the capture of Magdala we ought to have taken possession of the whole country. When we quarrelled with the Ashantees, on the west coast of Africa, there were people who actually proposed that we should extend our possessions there.
I believe, if a dozen of our countrymen could find their way to the moon, they would not have been


12
there a twelvemonth before they would send a memorial to the Colonial Office, asking it to annex the moon to the British empire. Lest I should be thought to bear too hard upon our countrymen in the East, in what I have said, let me fortify my own opinion by the authority of one whose name and character are held in honour by men of all parties in this House, and in the country, I mean Lord Elgin. It is well known that he was engaged in two special missions to China. Three or four years ago, his “Letters and Journals” were published—a book of rare interest, especially as a revelation of the man. No one could read it without seeing that he was a man of noble, generous, humane character, and it is clear that the spirit displayed by our countrymen in the East was like a perpetual nightmare to him. Writing to his friends at home, he says—“ I have gone through a good deal since we parted. Certainly I have seen more to disgust me with my fellow-countrymen than I saw during the whole course of my previous life since I have found them in the East among populations too timid to resist, and too ignorant to complain. I have an instinct in me which loves righteousness and hates iniquity, and all this keeps me in a perpetual boil.” Elsewhere he says, “ I am sure that in our relations with these Chinese we have acted scandalously, and I would not have been a party to the measures of violence which have taken place, if I had not believed that I could work out of them some good for them.” Again,


13
speaking of Mr. Russell’s book on the Indian Mutiny, and complimenting him highly on the courage with which he had exposed “the scandalous treatment ” which the natives received at our hands in India, he goes on—
“ Can I do anything to prevent England from “ calling dozen on herself God’s curse for brutalities “ committed on another feeble Oriental race? Or are “ all my exertions to result only in the extension of “ the area over which Englishmen are to exhibit how “ hollow and superficial are both their civilization ‘c and their Christianity ? ... . The tone of the “ two or three men connected with mercantile “ houses in China, whom I find on board, is all “ for blood and massacre on a great scale. I “ hope they will be disappointed, but it is not a “ cheering or hopeful prospect, look at it from “ what side one may.”
I have dwelt upon this point, not with a view of casting reproach upon our countrymen in Burmah and China, and other Eastern countries, but because it is, in my opinion, a point of great practical importance. I say we have abandoned the control of our Chinese policy into the hands of those merchants, but I hope the British Government, and Parliament, and people, will become alive to their own responsibility, and to
* the necessity of taking that policy into their own
hands, to be directed by their own principles. I differ wide as the poles asunder from the doctrine laid down by the lion, member for Wick last year in the debate on the motion of my hon.


14
friend tlie member for Wigton. He seemed to resent any one in this House presuming to discuss Eastern questions. He told us that India cannot be governed according to English ideas. Well as I believe that in the main English ideas are ideas of justice, humanity and mercy, I want India and China, and Burmah also, so far as they arc under our control, to be governed by English ideas. The same kind of language used to be held by the promoters of the slave trade and by the West India planters towards Clarkson, and Wilberforce, and Brougham, and Buxton, and Sturge. They were told that they did not understand the West Indies or the peculiar conditions of society that existed there, and that therefore they ought not to meddle. But the British Parliament did not listen to those reclamations, and insisted that the West Indies should be governed according to English ideas, and the consequence was that the slave trade and slavery were doomed, a fate which, I hope, awaits the opium traffic, which is almost as great an iniquity as either. Unhappily we got on a wrong track in our dealing with the Chinese from the first. From the time when, in 1833, the monopoly of the East India Company ceased, obeying the guidance of mercantile greed and unscrupulousness, we entered upon the mistaken course which we have since followed. In our first quarrel with the Chinese in 1838, which led to the war of 1840, we were wholly in the wrong. It was occasioned by the fixed, obstinate,
4


15
audacious determination of British merchants to smuggle opium into China in flagrant violation of the laws of the Empire, and in open defiance of the reiterated proclamations and protests of the Chinese Government. That war had been called, and justly called, the opium war. Some had oh' jected to that designation; but no one can read the history of the events that led to it without seeing that opium was the most important factor in the war. The Home Government, in the first instance, laid down the sound principle that “ Her Majesty’s Government cannot interfere for the purpose of enabling British subjects to violate the laws of the country to which they trade,” and that they must take the consequences. But when Commissioner Lin seized and destroyed the contraband opium, which he had as perfect a right to do as our custom-house officers would have to seize and destroy a cargo of smuggled French brandy, we went to war with the Chinese on that issue, and compelled them, among other things, to pay six millions of dollars as compensation to the smugglers. Miss Martineau in her able and interesting “ History of the Thirty Years’ Peace,” after narrating the events of that war, adds this remark:—“ It is an humiliating story, and the “ wonder of a future generation will be, how we
* “ bear the shame of it so easily as we do.” Now
this evil thing, opium, has, more or less, from that time to this, tainted our whole policy, and has been the principal source of the ill-will and heart-burning which have existed towards us on




16
the part of the Chinese Government and people. At the end of the first war, we entered into a treaty with the Chinese, which is known as the Treaty of Nankin. Now, the special charge against the Chinese is, that there is no trusting them; and our press are never weary of heaping opprobrious epithets upon them, as treacherous, perfidious, faithless, because they violate or evade their treaties with us. But how have we observed those same treaties ? By Art. XII. of the Supplementary Treaty of 1842, it was provided, that “ A fair and regular tariff of duties and other “ dues having now been established, it is to be “ hoped that the system of smuggling, which has “ heretofore been carried on between English “ and Chinese merchants—in many cases with the “ open connivance and collusion of the Chinese “ custom-house officers—will entirely cease ; “ and the most peremptory proclamation to all “ English merchants has been already issued on “ the subject by the British Plenipotentiary, who “ will also instruct the different Consuls to “ strictly watch over and carefully scrutinise the li conduct of all persons being British subjects, “ trading under his superintendence.”* Now
° The further language of the article runs thus :—“ In any positive instance of smuggling transactions coming to the Consul’s knowledge, he will instantly apprise the Chinese authorities of the fact, and they will proceed to seize and confiscate all goods, whatever their value or nature that may have been so smuggled ; and will also be at liberty, if they see fit, to prohibit the ship from which the smuggled goods 'were landed from trading further, and to send her away as soon as her accounts are adjusted and paid.”



17
opium was the article in which smuggling hacl been most conspicuously going on. But no sooner was the treaty concluded, than certain British merchants at Canton began to trade in opium, on the plea that, because it was not specified by name in the above provision, it must be regarded as being among the unenumerated articles in the tariff which they had a right to introduce on the payment of an ad valorem duty of 5 per cent. But when this came to the knowledge of Sir Henry Pottinger, who had negotiated the treaty, and who must have known what its intentions were, he issued a proclamation, in which he said :—
“It having been brought to my notice that “ such a step has been contemplated as sending “ vessels with opium on board into the ports of “ China to be opened by the treaty to foreign “ trades, and demanding that the said opium “ shall be admitted to importation by virtue of “ the concluding clause of the new tariff, which ‘1 provides for all articles not actually enumerated “ in that tariff passing at an ad valorem duty “ of 5 per cent. ; I think it expedient to point “ out to all whom it may concern, that opium “ being an article the traffic in which is well “ known to be declared illegal and contraband “ by the laws and Imperial edicts of China— “ any person who may take such a step, will “ do so at his own risk, and will, if a British “ subject, meet with no support or protection
“ from Her Majesty’s Consuls and other officers.”
* *




This, therefore, authoritatively settled the meaning of the treaty. Opium was among the smuggled articles which we hound ourselves to do all in our power to suppress. And yet in the face of this, for fourteen years, from the Treaty of Nankin to the Treaty of Tientsin, the British Government habitually violated the treaty by monopolising the manufacture of opium in India, preparing it for the Chinese market, and selling it for exportation. It allowed opium to be received in receiving ships in the ports at which our Consuls resided, and at Hong Kong it permitted opium to be carried along the coasts in armed vessels, with the British flag flying; it granted registers to lorchas engaged in smuggling cotton and opium, and these, having the British flag, could bid defiance to Chinese authorities. It may be said that the Chinese Government connived at this trade. Connived at it! What else could they do ? They had already bitter experience of what would befall them if they attempted a rigorous execution of their own laws. But how about other parts of the Treaty of Nankin ? Sir Rutherford Alcock, in a remarkable Memorandum which he wrote in the year 1857, says that every privilege gained by us has almost invariably taken the shape of some evil or abuse attaching to the exercise of our acquired rights. One of the principal objects of the Treaty of Nankin was to procure relief from the system of cohongs and monopolies which restricted and embarrassed trade. But what use was made of this exemption ? Sir Rutherford Alcock says:—


19
“ This gain brought with it an attendant evil. “ Foreign merchants in direct custom-house rela-“ tions with Chinese authorities, all more or less “ venal and corrupt, launched into a wholesale “ system of smuggling, and fraudulent devices u for the evasion of duties. Chinese laws and “ treaty stipulations were alike disregarded, “ sometimes by one party with forcible infrac-“ tions of port regulations; oftener by bribery <£ and collusion between the native authorities “ and foreigners. The Imperial revenue was “ defrauded by both ; and foreign trade was “ demoralised, and converted into a game of
“ hazard and over-reaching.”
And he justly remarks that if the Chinese were then loth to make those concessions, how much less disposed they must have been to extend them “ with the knowledge they possessed that no conscientious payment of duties, or respect for treaty stipulations can be looked for at the hands of foreign merchants, if the Chinese themselves cannot find the means of making the evasion impossible.” Referring again to another right acquired by the Treaty of Nankin—“ exemption from territorial jurisdiction,” he thus describes the use that has been made of it by Europeans:—
“ Contempt for all Chinese authority, and dis-“ regard of inherent rights, habitual infraction of ‘c treaty stipulations, license and violence, wliere-“ ever the off-scum of the European nations found “ access, and peaceable people to plunder; such “ were the first-fruits of this important con-
u


“ cession, and time only served to increase their “ growth. Our whole intercourse since the “ Treaty of Nankin has been carried on under a “ perpetual menace of hostile collision and inter-“ ruption of trade. The French and the English “ are both in arms at this moment, each to assert “ rights that have been mainly brought into “ peril by unchecked abuses. If gross abuse of “ foreign flags, and the immunities they gave by “ treaty, had not been habitual and matter of “ notoriety, especially in the class oflorcha vessels— i 1 smugglers and pirates all—the particular ground “ of quarrel in which the Canton difficulty began “ would, in all probability, never have arisen.”
In the face of such facts as these, we ought to be a little more modest in charging the Chinese with violation and evasion of treaties. We now come to the war known as the lorclia “Arrow” war, the “Arrow” being one of that class of vessels which we have just heard Sir Rutherford Alcock describe as “ smugglers and pirates all.” We waged war upon the Chinese on that occasion because they seized in their own waters a vessel which was certainly a smuggler, probably a pirate, which had no legal right to registration at all, and whose pretended right had expired, even according to the acknowledgment of the leading actors on our side. I need not dwell upon that affair. It was condemned by a vote of this House, and by a more remarkable consensus of the leading statesmen of England, than any event connected with the foreign policy of this country with


21
which I am acquainted. Lord Lyndhurst, the late Lord Derby, Lord Grey, Lord Russell, the right hon. gentleman, the member for Greenwich, the right hon. gentleman, the present Prime Minister, and all his party, Mr. Cobden, all united in denouncing that war, and the pretext on which it was waged. I doubt whether there is a living Englishman who would undertake to defend it. Yet on that issue we attacked the river forts at Canton, sunk or burnt twenty-three vessels of the imperial navy, destroyed the large warehouses of the Chinese, and for many hours, if not for days, poured red-hot shot into a crowded commercial city like Canton.* Well, that war was ended by the Treaty of Tientsin, one of the principal provisions of which was the forced legalisation of the opium traffic. I say “forced” because there cannot be a doubt that the Chinese retained as strongly as ever their dislike of that trade. Mr. Reed, the American Minister, spoke in one of his letters published in our Blue Book, of “ their fear even to talk on a subject which they thought had once involved them in war, and which might give them trouble again.” It is only just to Lord Elgin to say that he also personally felt great reluctance to press this matter upon them. “ I could not reconcile it,” he says,
It “to my sense of right to urge the imperial
* The inhabitants of Canton, in an affecting appeal to Sir John Bowring, said :—“ You have suddenly taken up arms and for several days have been firing shells until you have burned dwellings and destroyed people in untold numbers.”


22
government to abandon its traditional policy in this respect.” But lie liad his instructions from home, and his official and commercial entourage in China urged him to demand the legalisation of the trade. That this was forced upon the Chinese, along with other concessions in the Treaty of Tientsin, there is ample evidence to prove. Here is an extract from Commissioner Kweilang to Lord Elgin in October, 1858, pleading for some forbearance as to carrying into execution certain of the articles of the Treaty of Tientsin:—
“ When the Chinese Commissioner negotiated “ a treaty with your Excellency at Tientsin, “ British vessels of war were lying in that port; “ there was a pressure of an armed force, a state “ of excitement and alarm, and the Treaty had to be signed at once without a moment’s delay. “ Deliberation was out of the question; the Com- relative to Lord Elgin’s Mission, page 408-9.)
This is abundantly confirmed by the acknowledgments of our own officials. Sir Rutherford Alcock says:—“ To keep as clear as possible of “ all Foreign Governments is a very natural “ desire on the part of those who have thrice in u a single generation liad objectionable treaties im-“ posed upon them at the point of the bayonet.”
And so Lord Elgin, referring to the Treaty of Tientsin, says:—
“ The concessions obtained in the Treaty from



23
“ the Chinese Government are not in themselves “ extravagrant, hut in the eyes of the Chinese “ Government they amount to a revolution. “ They have been extorted therefore from its fears.” Blue Book, page 348.
Still more emphatic, if possible, is the language of Sir Thomas Wade writing in 1868 :—
“ Nothing that has been gained was received “ from the free will of the Chinese. The con-“ cessions made to us have been from first to last “ extorted against the conscience of the nation, in “ defiance, that is to say, of the moral convic-“ tions of its educated men, not merely of the “ office-holders whom we call mandarins, and “ who are numerically but a small proportion of “ the educated class, but of the millions who are “ saturated with a knowledge of the history and “ philosophy of their country.”
The treaty, therefore, legalising the opium trade was extorted from the Chinese against the conscience of the nation; and their proposals in the course of the negotiations, to put some check upon it, at least by means of a high duty, were likewise rejected. Now, Sir, I must say this appears to me a humiliating spectacle to see all the resources of British diplomacy, and all the terrors of British power, employed in the name of a Christian nation to force on a heathen nation an article which they were doing all in their power to keep out, because it spread among their people debauchery, demoralisation, disease, and death. I cannot argue with those who pretend


24
to maintain that the habitual use of opium as a stimulant is not injurious. The evidence on this point is so overwhelming that I must say I find it hard to believe in the sincerity of those who put forth that view. We have a perfect cloud of witnesses to prove that it is injurious to body, and mind, and morals; witnesses so numerous, and of such various classes and conditions, and many of them of such high character, that, if it should turn out their testimony was unfounded, it would prove the most extraordinary conspiracy ever formed to misrepresent the truth without any conceivable motive. We can adduce the testimony of such men—most of them high officials in India and China—as Sir Stamford Raffles, Sir George Staunton, Sir Charles Forbes, Sir John Davies, Captain Elliot, Colonel James Tod, Captain Shepherd, Chairman of the East India Company, Mr. Henry St. George Tucker, another Chairman of the East India Company, Mr. Montgomery Martin, Sir Arthur Cotton, Sir Thomas Wade, and many others. I will only cite a sentence or two from the last, our present Minister at Pekin ; and I do so especially, because it meets one of the favourite pleas urged in defence or mitigation of this traffic. We are often told in this House and elsewhere, that though, no doubt, opium-smoking is a great evil, it is not worse than the gin and whisky-drinking that prevails among ourselves. Well, it need not be worse, and yet be bad enough. But what a strange argument to be used by a Christian nation


25
to say:—£c There is a habit among ourselves which, according to the concurrent testimony of Ministers of religion, magistrates, judges, medical men, of all who are concerned in the administration of the law, or who are caring for the health and morals of the people, is the most prolific source of disease, crime, and misery, and what we force on the Chinese is not much worse than that, and what right have they to complain.” But what does Sir Thomas Wade say on this very point ?—
“ It is to me vain to think otherwise of the use “ of the drug in China than as of a habit many “ times more pernicious, nationally speaking, “ than the gin and whisky drinking we deplore “ at home. I know of no case of radical cure. “ It has ensured, in every case within my know-“ ledge, the steady descent, moral and physical, “ of the smoker.”
Then there is another kind of evidence of quite exceptional value on such a subject,—that of a large number of medical gentlemen, who have been engaged professionally in. China; some in hospitals, and some in private practice; and who have themselves witnessed and treated the ravages produced by opium smoking,—such as Dr. Parker, Dr. Allen, Dr. Lockhart, Dr. ITobson, Dr. Dempster, Dr. Little, Dr. Bell, Dr. De la Porte, Mr. Jeffereys, Mr. Loch, and others. The last is Dr. Dudgeon, who has lived for twelve years at Pekin as a medical practitioner, and has been appointed to the Chair of Anatomy and Phy-


26
siology in the Pekin College. He is now in this country ; and his testimony is most explicit and emphatic, to the dreadful and disastrous effects of indulgence in opium.* Then we have the Missionaries of all denominations, wdio, with one voice, declare that the effects of opium on the people are disastrous; and that our complicity in the traffic is the most formidable obstacle in their way in promulgating Christianity among the Chinese. I hold in my hand a petition just sent to me by the Directors of one of the most respectable and powerful of our Missionary Societies, the London Missionary Society, in which this, and other points in reference to the opium question, are put with great force. Now another question arises—Are the Chinese sincere in their opposition to the trade in this article ? We are frequently told in this house and elsewhere that all their edicts, and protests, and remonstrances on this point are sheer hypocrisy; but certainly there is no very obvious reason why we should suspect them of playing a part in their endeavours to prevent their people being poisoned by opium. Let me call the attention of the Llouse to one very remarkable piece of evi-
° After describing the gradual growth of the habit, Dr. Dudgeon says :—“ Once habituated to the drug, everything will be endured rather than its privation. The pipe becomes the smoker’s very life, and to satisfy the inexorable demands of the tyrant craving there is nothing to which he will not stoop. In the case of poverty the -wretched victim is driven to the perpetration of crime in order to secure the pipe. Time, wealth, energies, self-respect, self-control, honesty, truthfulness, honour, are all sacrificed at the flicker of the opium-lamp.”—Friend of China, June, 1876.


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clence on this point. It is known that in the Treaty of Tientsin there was a provision which entitled either of the signatory parties to propose a revision of the treaty at the end ;of every ten years. Well, in 1868, an attempt was made by Sir Rutherford Alcock to procure a revision. Negotiations then took place between him and the Foreign Board, which he describes as, “ in fact, the Imperial Government in its most influential shape.” Among other things that came up for discussion was the opium question. On that subject a note was transmitted to Sir Rutherford Alcock from the Board by Prince Kung. It may be regarded, in fact, as a powerful and pathetic appeal from the Chinese to the conscience and kindly feeling of the British nation. As such I think it ought to be laid before the British Parliament, and I hope I shall be permitted, notwithstanding its considerable length, to read it to the House.
“ From Tsungli Yarnen to Sir E. Alcock, July, 1869. The writers have, on several occasions, when conversing with his Excellency the British Minister,' referred to the opium trade as being prejudicial to the general interests of commerce. The object of the treaties between our respective countries was to secure perpetual peace, but if effective steps cannot be taken to remove an accumulating sense of injury from the minds of men, it is to be feared that no policy can obviate sources of future trouble.
Day and night the writers are considering the question with a view to its solution, and the more they reflect upon it the greater does their anxiety become ; and hereon they cannot avoid addressing his Excellency very earnestly on the subject.


That opium is like a deadly poison, that it is most injurious to mankind, and a most serious provocative of ill-feeling, is, the writers think, perfectly well known to his Excellency, and it is therefore needless for them to enlarge further on these points. The prince [the Prince of Kung is the President of the Board] and his colleagues are quite aware that the opium trade has long been condemned by England as a nation, and that the right-minded merchant scorns to have to do with it. But the officials and people of this empire, who cannot he so completely informed on the subject, all say that England trades in opium because she desires to work China’s ruin, for (say they) if the friendly feelings of England are genuine, since it is open to her to produce and trade in everything else, would she still insist on spreading the poison of this hurtful thing through the empire ? There are those who say, Stop the trade by enforcing a vigorous prohibition against the use of the drug. China has the right to do so, doubtless, and might be able to effect it, but a strict enforcement of the prohibition would necessitate the taking of many lives. Now although the criminals’ punishment would be of their own seeking, bystanders would not fail to say that it was the foreign merchants who seduced them to their ruin by bringing the drug, and it would be hard to prevent general and deep-seated indignation ; such a course indeed would tend to arouse popular anger against the foreigner. There are others, again, who suggest the removal of the prohibitions against the growth of poppy. They argue that as there is no means of stopping the foreign (opium) trade there can be no harm, as a temporary measure, in withdrawing the prohibition on its growth. We should thus not only deprive the foreign merchant of the main source of his profits, but should increase our revenue to boot. The sovereign rights of China are indeed competent to this. Such a course would be practicable, and indeed the writers cannot say that as a last resource it will not come to this; but they are most unwilling that such prohibition should be removed, holding as they do that a right system of government should appreciate the beneficence of heaven, and (seek to) remove any grievance which afflicts its people, while to allow them to go


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on to destruction, though an increase of revenue may result, will provoke the judgment of heaven and the condemnation of men. Neither of the above plans, indeed, is satisfactory. If it be desired to remove the very root, and to stop the evil at its source, nothing will be effective but a prohibition to bo enforced alike by both parties. Again, the Chinese merchant supplies your country with his goodly tea and silk, conferring thereby a benefit upon her, but the English merchant empoisons China with pestilent opium. Such conduct is unrighteous. Who can justify it ? What wonder if officials and people say that England is wilfully working out China’s ruin, and has no real friendly feeling for her ? The wealth and generosity of England is spoken of by all. She is anxious to prevent and anticipate all injury to her commercial interest. How is it then she can hesitate to remove an acknowledged evil ? Indeed it cannot be that England still holds to this evil business, earning the hatred of the officials and people of China, and making herself a reproach among the nations, because she would lose a little revenue were she to forfeit the cultivation of the poppy! The writers hope that his Excellency will memorialize his Government to give orders in India, and elsewhere, to substitute the cultivation of cereals or cotton. Were both nations to rigorously prohibit the growth of the poppy, both the traffic in and the consumption of opium might alike be put an end to. To do away with so great an evil would be a great virtue on England’s part; she would strengthen friendly relations, and make herself illustrious. How delightful to have so great an act transmitted to after ages! This matter is injurious to commercial interests in no ordinary degree. If his Excellency the British Minister cannot, before it is too late, arrange a plan for a joint prohibition (of the traffic), then no matter with what devotedness the writers may plead, they may be unable to cause the people to put aside all ill-feeling and so strengthen friendly relations as to place them for ever beyond fear of disturbance. Day and night, therefore, the writers give to this matter most earnest thought, and overpowering is the distress which it occasions them. Having thus presumed to unbosom themselves, they would be honoured by his Excellency’s reply.”


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I don’t think I ever read a document in which the accents of sincerity are more apparent than they are in this. It is no wonder that Sir Rutherford Alcock, after receiving it, should have recorded his own opinion in the following strong language:—
“ He had no doubt that the abhorrence ex-“ pressed by the Government and people of China “ for opium, as destructive to the Chinese nation, “ was genuine and deep-seated, and he was “ also quite convinced that the Chinese Govern-a ment could, if it pleased, carry out its threat of “ developing cultivation to any extent. On the “ other hand, ho believed that so strong was the “ popular feeling on the subject, that if Britain “ would give up the opium revenue and suppress “ the cultivation in India, the Chinese Govern-“ ment would have no difficulty in suppressing it “ in China, except in the province of Yunnan, “ where its authority is in abeyance.”
But, before passing from this point, the proposed revision of the Treaty of Tientsin, I have to call attention to facts of great significance, especially as illustrating the statement I have already made, now our policy in China is virtually surrendered into the hands of the mercantile classes. Sir Rutherford Alcock, of all our officials in China, was the statesman who had the most intimate acquaintance with, and the longest experience of, Chinese affairs. With infinite pains, and after negotiations prolonged for many months, he concluded a supplementary treaty,


1
31
which was signed in October, 1869, by himself and the Chinese plenipotentiaries. In that treaty he had procured concessions of the most important nature from the Chinese Government, which would confer very large advantages upon British commerce; but in return for these concessions he had yielded to the Chinese these three things— an increase in the export of silk duty amounting to 1 per cent, ad valorem; an increase in the opium duty of 2J per cent, ad valorem; and the right to appoint Consuls at the British ports. The treaty, of course, required ratification at home. It was entirely approved by the Government at home, first by Lord Clarendon and then by Lord Granville; but it was violently opposed by the China merchants and their backers in the Chambers of Commerce. And why ? Mainly because of the small additional increase on the opium duty, which would have raised it to about 7 J per cent, altogether. Now, when we consider that we impose a duty on Chinese tea of 25 to 30 per cent., it does not seem a very unreasonable demand that we should allow the Chinese to put a duty of per cent, on opium; and yet the Government, acting against their own judgment, and discrediting their own most experienced representative in China, yielded to the clamour of those interested parties, and advised Her Majesty not to ratify the convention.
I now come to the unfortunate expedition to Yunnan, and the murder of Mr. Margary. No one deplores more than I do the death of Mr.


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Margary. He appears to have been a young man of rare promise—intelligent, enterprising, courageous, and likely to prove a great ornament to the service to which he belonged. The one salient point, however, known to the people of this country in regard to that expedition was, that a gallant and high-spirited young Englishman had perished by unfair means in Burmah or China, or in the borderland between the two, and the cry was raised, “ Let us have vengeance.” If it be asked, “Against whom?” the answer seems to be, “Against anybody; against the Burmese, or “ Chinese, or somebody; English blood has been “ shod, and we must be avenged.” I think, however, I can show that this accursed thing, opium, had something to do with this ill-fated expedition to Yunnan. I believe there is little doubt that one of the objects had in view in forcing open this trade route was to flood the wealthy provinces of China in that direction with Bengal opium. How do I prove this ? Why thus. In 1862, Colonel Phayre, who was then Chief Commissioner of British Burmah, was instructed by Lord Elgin and his Council to procure a Commercial Treaty with the King of Burmah for re-opening ‘‘ the caravan route from “ Asia, via Bamo, to the Chinese province of “ Yunnan.” In a letter from the Indian Council to Sir Charles Wood (now Lord Halifax), who was then Secretary of State for India, among the articles which Colonel Phayre was specially instructed to press on the Burmese Government


33
for insertion in the treaty, this was one:— “ Opium to be allowed to pass from the British u territories through Burmah into Yunnan, either “ duty free or on payment of a moderate transit “ duty.” Now let it be observed that opium was the only article of merchandise specified by name in the instructions of the Indian Government, which sufficiently showed their anxiety at least to have it introduced through Burmah into China. Well, Colonel Phayre did his best to fulfil his instructions; but there arose difficulties, and most curious and significant are the words he uses on this subject in his dispatch to the Indian Government.
“ There is one subject which still requires to “ be mentioned. It is as regards opium. I had “ proposed that a separate article should provide “ for its being conveyed through the country, “ either Burmese or British, for sale in countries “ beyond. The King has an objection on religious “ grounds to allow his subjects to consume opium, “ and was averse to admitting, by a special “ article, that the drug might be conveyed “ through his country, but said he would not “ object to its coming in, like other goods, under “ Article IV.”
It is surely a humiliating contrast to find that while this heathen monarch had an objection on religious grounds to allow his subjects to consume opium, and did not like even to have it carried through his country, the representatives of a Christian nation, so far from having any



34
religions scruples, were actually trying to seduce the King of Burmah into complicity with their design of thrusting opium through still another avenue into China. But there was a previous expedition to Yunnan, and it is necessary to know something of that as tending, perhaps, to throw some light on the failure of the second expedition. Seven years before, Major Sladen had taken the same route, and with the same object. At that time Yunnan was in possession of the Mohammedan or Panthay rebels, who were in arms against the Chinese Government. Talifao, where it was proposed to establish our consul, was their capital. In the Treaty of Tientsin, there were clauses which forbad our even approaching places held by rebels. But what will the House say when I inform them that Major Sladen, acting under the orders of the Indian Government, formed intimate relations with the Panthay rebels; that the Indian Government through him recognised the rebel chief, entered into friendly negotiations and commercial arrangements with him, and kept up the intercourse until the suppression of the rebellion by the Chinese Government four years later ? Li-sieh-tai, who has been accused of complicity in Mr. Margary’s murder, was then an officer in the Chinese army. But Major Sladen actually instigated the rebel chief of Momien to attack Li-sieh-tai in his stronghold at Manphoo, from which he barely escaped with life and the loss of 300 men. We are always talking of the treachery of the Chinese, but what shall we say


35
to this monstrous story of an officer representing the British Government entering into close alliance with rebels against the Chinese authority, at the very time when we were professedly not only at peace, but in friendly relations with tlie Chinese Government ? I cannot enter fully upon the history of this last unwise and ill-fated expedition to Yunnan. It seems to me, after reading the papers, to have been a perfect muddle throughout. What with the interchange of cross telegrams and despatches between the Chief Commissioner of British Burmah, our Ambassador at Pekin, the Indian Council, the Indian Office at home, and the Foreign Office, it is impossible to find out where the responsibility rests. Lord Northbrook and the Indian Council—after the catastrophe had happened, indeed—declare that ‘ ‘ the “ Government of India have never been disposed “ to entertain sanguine expectations of the advan-“ tages to be derived from the schemes which “ from time to time have been proposed for the “ exploration of the routes from Burmah to the “ western provinces of China,” and that this expedition (t was undertaken in furtherance of the “ wishes of Her Majesty’s Government.” On the other hand, Lord Derby says the expedition was suggested by the Indian Government, and with his usual perspicacity and sound judgment points out in reference to one part of the project, of establishing a consul at Talifao, that l( Her “ Majesty’s Government cannot claim a right to “ appoint consuls at any places in China except
m « vai Ml OILMT WtfnKl


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u the Treaty ports, and that there are grave diffi-“ cutties in the way of any project for establish-“ ing Consulates or British communities in the far “ interior of China, where British protection could “ not be extended to them in case of danger, “ which in the present state of the Chinese “ Empire is constantly threatening foreigners, “ and which the Governor of Pekin, even if wcll-“ disposed to do, can only imperfectly guard “ against.”
For myself, I believe we have been on the wrong tack in our conduct towards China from the beginning. We have tried a high-handed and masterful policy for many years, and with what results? Always with ill-results in every possible respect. At every succeeding war it was loudly proclaimed that it would open up all China to British trade, but events have shown this to be a delusion. Our export trade with China had always been, and was now, in an utterly unsatisfactory condition. The late Mr. Cobden used to say that he had not the smallest doubt that if we were to compute the profits that we have received from our export trade to China for the last forty years, and set against it all that it has cost us in wars occasioned by that trade, and in the naval and military and consular services thought necessary to protect and promote it, that the nation could be shown to be largely a loser by the transaction. But this is to be observed, that the profit goes into the pockets of a small body of China merchants, and the cost comes out of the pockets


37
of the British people, though, as if by the operation of some strange Nemesis, even the former have of late years fared miserably ill. My contention is, that we have tried to extend our commerce in China by means that cannot be justified, and that we have failed utterly and ignominiously in attaining our object. I believe there is far more to hope as respects our commercial interests from another policy, a policy of conciliation and peace, instead of that of dictation and meddling. This is the opinion of Sir Rutherford Alcock: —
££ If only means can be found,” he says, ££ of “ keeping from them all foreign meddling and ££ attempts at dictation, there is yet ground of ££ hope. But these rouse strong instincts of resist-££ ance and national pride, giving fresh force to “the retrograde and anti-foreign party; while “ at the same time it paralyses all hopeful effort ££ in those more favourable to progress from the ££ fear of its being made a new pretext for action ££ on the part of foreign Powers. No nation ££ likes the interference of a foreign Power in its “ internal affairs, however well-intentioned it “ may be, and China is no exception to the rule. ££ I am thoroughly convinced they would go much “ better and faster if left alone.”
* * * * *
“ The Chinese will have nothing to do with “ foreigners as the proteges of their respective ££ Governments; and they are right. To keep ££ as clear as possible of all foreign Governments
. - *=» w i» -itw


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“ is a very natural desire on the part of those ‘c who have, thrice in a single generation, had “ objectionable treaties imposed upon them at “ the point of the bayonet. * * * * *
“ Railways, telegraphs, steam machinery, scien-“ title directions for the working of mines, the “ acquisition of foreign languages—all these “ may, within a very few years, be in full play “ throughout the country • * * * but on one
u condition—that they are left alone, free alike from “ dictation or control as to the selection of their 11 agents, and the time and condition of their “ employment, and that they are free from all “ restraint or galling interference on the part of “ foreign Governments or their agents, diplomatic “ or consular. Hitherto a different condition “ has undoubtedly existed.”
Sir,—The time is coming for another revision of the Treaty of Tientsin. I wish that we should take advantage of the opportunity that will be thus afforded to review our entire Chinese policy in a large and generous spirit. I hope especially we shall have the courage to confront the great evil of the opium trade, which, in my opinion, more than any other cause—more than all causes put together — is the source of that chronic difficulty with which we have to contend in our intercourse with the people and Government of China, which, moreover, renders it almost impossible for our missionaries to make any progress in the»«pread of Christianity, and which is dishonouring the British name before


tlie face of all the nations of the world. I don’t know how other lion, members may feel, but I own I am oppressed with a sense of the accumulating responsibility we are incurring by the course we are pursuing in China. I am not ashamed to say that 1 am one of those who believe that there is a God who ruleth in the kingdom of men, and that it is not safe for a community, any more than an individual, recklessly and habitually to affront those great principles of truth, and justice, and humanity on which I believe He governs the world. And we may be quite sure of this, that in spite of our pride of place and power, in spite of our vast possessions and enormous resources, in spite of our boasted forces by land and sea, if we come into conflict with that Power we shall be crushed like an eggshell against the granite rock. It is because I do not wish to see my country committed to that terrible and unequal conflict, that I entreat the House to reconsider our Chinese policy, and to accept my motion, calling upon the Government, when the Treaty of Tientsin conies to be revised, to approach the task in a just and generous spirit, so as to place our intercourse with these teeming millions of the human race on a footing of justice, friendliness and humanity. I beg to move : “ That having regard to the unsatisfactory nature “ of our relations with China, and to the desira-“ bility of placing those relations on a perma-“ nently satisfactory footing, this House is of “ opinion that the existing treaty between the


40
“ two countries should be so revised as to promote “ the interests of legitimate commerce, and to “ secure the just rights of the Chinese Grovern-“ mcnt and people.”
WERTHEIMER, LEA AND CO,, PRINTERS, CIRCUS PLACE, LONDON WALL.