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LADRONES, OR CHINESE PIRATES. &c.
The force and number of the later the height of their power they levied contrisquadron of freebooters has been pretty ac- butions on most of the towns along the coast, curately ascertained from the accounts of and spread terror up the river to the neighMessrs. Glasspoole and Turner. Their junks bourhood of Canton. It was at this time or vessels amounted in 1810 to about 600 of that the British factory could not venture various sizes, from 80 to 300 tons of which the to move in their boats between that place largest seldom mounted more than twelveguns, and Macao without protection; and to the varying from six to eighteen pounders, which Ladrones, therefore, may be partly attributed had been either purchased from European the origin of the valuable survey of the ships, or taken from the Chinese ; but chiefly Chinese seas by Captain Ross; as the two the latter. Their hand-arms were pikes with cruisers which were sent from Bombay, at bamboo shafts from fourteen to eighteen feet the select committee's requisition, to act long, and they used, besides, the common against the pirates, were subsequently emChinese pike with a handle of solid wood, ployed by them in that work of public utility, and an iron point consisting of a slightly the benefits of which have been felt by the curved blade. They had also short stabbing whole commercial world. swords, not two feet in length. Their guns Finding that its power was utterly unavailas usual were mounted on solid timber, with- ing against the growing strength of the Laout trucks, breechings, or tackles, and run drones, the Chinese Government published a out right abeam, so as to be fired only when they general amnesty to such as would submit, could be brought to bear upon the object, by and return to their allegiance; a stroke of wearing the vessel!
The broadside being policy which may be attributed to its acfired, they hauled off to reload, which is a quaintance with the fact, that a serious dissendifficult and tedious operation with the sion had broken out between the two prinChinese. The largest junks carried between cipal commanders of the pirate forces. This 100 and 200 men, and were furnished each proceeded even to the length of the black with an armed boat for committing depreda- and red squadrons (which they respectively tions among the towns and villages on shore. headed) engaging in a bloodycombat, Few narratives can be more interesting than wherein the former was discomfited. The that of Mr. Glasspoole, which was published weaker of the two now submitted to accept in the United Service Journal, but which the offers of the Government, which promised cannot be detailed in this place. Both that free pardon, and kept its engagements; the gentleman and Mr. Turner were ransomed leader was even raised to some rank in the for considerable sums by their friends at Emperor's service! Being thus weakened by Canton, and escaped happily to relate their the desertion of nearly half her forces, the singular captivity and adventures.
female chieftain and her other lieutenant did Not the least remarkable feature about not much longer hold out. The Ladrones this formidable fleet of pirates was its being, who had submitted were employed by the subsequent to the death of its original chief, crafty Government against their former assovery ably governed by his wife, who ap- ciates, who were harassed by the stoppage of pointed her lieutenants for active service. A their supplies, and other difficulties, and a severe code of laws for the government of the few more months saw the whole remaining squadron, or of its several divisions, was en- force accept the proffered amnesty. Thus forced, and a regular appropriation made of easily was dissolved an association which at all captured property. Marriages were strictly one time threatened the empire: but as the observed, and all promiscuous intercourse, sources and circumstances, whence piracy and violence to women, rigorously punished. has more than once sprung up, are still in Passess were granted to the Chinese junks or existence, the success and impunity of their boats which submitted to the pirates: but all predecessors may encourage other bands of such as were captured in Government vessels, maritime robbers to unite in a similar conand indeed all who opposed them, were federacy at no distant period. treated with the most dreadful cruelty. At A considerable number of years had elapsed
since the occurrence of one of those homicides, which, even when accidental, always prove so serious and embarrassing to the trade at Can. ton; but in the month of March, 1807, a case happened which showed in the strongest light the consequences which may at any time result from the riotous and unruly conduct of our seamen on shore, subject as they are in China to be supplied on the cheapest terms with ardent spirits, called samshoo, generally adulterated with ingredients of a stimulating and maddening quality. A portion of the crew of the ship Neptune had been drinking at a spirit-shop, and a skirmish soon took place with the Chinese, upon which the men were collected as soon as possible by their officers, and contined within their quarters. The idle Chinese, however, assembled in great numbers before the factory, and pelted the gates, as well as every European who passed, notwithstanding the presence of some Hong merchants who had been summoned on the occasion. The confined sailors, at length losing patience, broke through all restraint and sallied out on the mob, whom they scattered in an instant, and one Chinese was knocked so rudely on the head that he died.
The trade as usual was stopped by the Chinese, and the Hong merchant, who secured the Neptune, held answerable by the Government for the delivery of the offender. Nothing could be elicited as to the identity of the individual, in a court of inquiry held on board the Neptune. The mandarins at first demanded that the men should be tried within the city, but the case of the poor gunner was retorted upon them, and the thing was declared to be impossible. It was at length arranged that an examination should take place within the factory, before Chinese judges, but in the presence of the select committee and Captain Rolles, of his Majesty's ship the Lion, who were provided with seats in court, while two marines with fixed bayonets stood sentries.
Eleven of the men, it was proved, had been more violent than the rest, but no indi-. vidual could be marked as the actual homicide, though the Chinese still demanded that a man should be given up. It was at length settled that one of the eleven, named Edward Sheen, should remain in custody of the com
mittee : the understanding at first was, tha: a fine to the relations of the deceased would be sufficient, but on the committee preparing to proceed to Macao, the Government required his being left behind. Captain Rolles now interfered, and declared that, if Sheen was not permitted to be taken by the committee to Macao, he should take him on board the Lion, and the point was at length conceded. The local government being puzzled how to proceeed, invented a tale in which it was stated that Sheen, while opening an upper window, had dropped by misfortune a piece of wood, which struck the Chinese on the forehead and caused his death. This was sent up to Peking as an official report, and an imperial reply was soon obtained, sanctioning the liberation of Sheen on his paying a fine of about twelve taëls, or four pounds sterling, to the relations of the deceased. This singular transaction proves at once how easily the Emperor may be deceived, and with what readiness the local government can get out of a difficulty. The firm and successful conduct of the committee and of captain Rolles was much approved, and to the latter 1,0001. was voted by the Court of Directors.
Early in 1808 information reached India of the probability of ambitious views being entertained by France towards the East, and of the danger to which Macao might be exposed by the vicinity of Manilla, if the French should make that Spanish colony their own. In consideration of treaties by which England was pledged to protect Portugal and its settlements against aggression, as well as of the interests which the English themselves had at stake in the neighbourhood of Canton, Lord Minto, having garrisoned the colony of Goa, by a convention with the governor of that place, deemed it fit to send an expedition for the protection of Macao, which he apprehended might be threatened by an enemy's fleet. It might reasonably be questioned how far such a measure was well advised, after the experience of the similar expedition just six years before, when it plainly appeared that the Chinese treated Macao as a portion of their empire, and the Portuguese as mere tenants at will: the result at least was an utter failure.
EXPEDITION OF ADMIRAL DRURY.
The Portuguese Governor of Macao, with his two or three hundred starved blacks, could of course pretend to offer no opposition; he in fact soon received an order from Goa to admit the troops; but, under a thin veil of compliance and affected friendship, it soon appeared that the Portuguese were doing everything in secret to misrepresent the designs of the English to their Chinese masters, by whom they were forbidden to admit any force into Macao, without permission previously obtained. It being determined, however, by the President of the committee, and by Admiral Drury, who commanded the naval force, that the troops should land, a convention was signed on the 21st of September, and they were disembarked quietly on the same day. An order soon came from the Viceroy for the troops to depart; and, when this was not complied with, the trade at Canton was stopped, and provisions denied both to the Indiamen and to the squadron of his Majesty's ships. An edict of the Chinese observed, “ Knowing, as you ought to know, that the Portuguese inhabit a territory belong to the celestial empire, how could you suppose that the French would ever venture to molest them : if they dared, our warlike troops should attack, defeat, and chase them from the face of the Country.”
The Admiral proposed to the Viceroy by letter, that they should have an audience at Canton to accommodate matters, but no answer whatever was returned. All British subjects were soon after ordered to join their respective vessels, and his Majesty's ships were moved higher up the river. As the Viceroy still refused an audience to Admiral Drury, and declared that he knew no English anthority but the Company's chief, the Admiral proceeded to Canton in person, and insisted on an interview, saying, he would be in the city in the course of half an hour. The Viceroy persisted in declining the visit, and the Admiral, instead of persevering in his intentions, returned to his ship.
Some time after this, the boats of all the men-of-war and Indiamen were manned and armed, for the purpose of proceeding on a second visit to Canton, and forcing a way through the line of Chinese vessels which
were moored across the river, and filled with soldiers, in order to prevent the Admiral's approach. On reaching the line, he pulled up in his own boat to address the principal mandarin, through the medium of a Portuguese priest who acted as interpreter; no parley, however, was admitted, and after being fired at for some time, one of the Admiral's men
was wounded, when he ordered the signal to be made for attack. “ The signal was not observed, and ordered not to be repeated. The Admiral then declared his intention not to force the Chinese line, and returned with the boats to the fleet. Though a man of undisputed courage, (as observed in the evidence before the Commons in 1830,) Admiral Drury seems not to have possessed that cool and deliberate judgment which was essential to the success of the business he had been engaged in."'? The attempt to proceed to Canton in the boats ought either never to have been made, or it should have been carrierl through. A pagoda was built by the Chinese near the spot, to commemorate their victory over the English.
The trade still continued at a stand, and the Viceroy issued an edict to repeat, that, while a single soldier remained at Macao, no commerce could be allowed. On the 8th of December, it was therefore determined to act on a document lately received from the Emperor, which afforded a fair pretext for relinquishing the point in debate. A convention was concluded in a few days after at Macao, the troops were embarked, and Admiral Drury sailed away in the Russell for Bengal, on the 22nd December. Thus, after a fruitless discussion of three months, the Chinese ended in gaining their point,the withdrawal of the troops; and their succes was calculated to increase the arrogance by which they had always been suffciently distinguished. The Viceroy of Canton, however, was disgraced and removed by the Emperor.
The line of measures pursued by the President in China in concert with the Admira on the occasion of the expedition, being disapproved in England, he was superseded by a fresh appointment from home. The Chinese,
1 Parliamentary Evidence, 1830.
however, did not forget their grudge against Mr. Roberts, and they were encouraged by finding that he had been censured by the Company; while the Portuguese, at the same time, with their usual servility, suggested complaints against him. Soon after he had again succeeded to a seat in the committee, and returned from a visit to England, the Hoppo in 1813 issued an edict against that gentleman, expressly on account of his measures five years before, and it was declared that he was not permitted to proceed to Canton. Indisposition, it so happened, actually detained him at Macao on that occasion; but the committe were determined to deny the right of Chinese interference in the appointments of the English authorities; and, although the Factory reached Canton at the end of September, they would not permit the ships to unload until the interdict against Mr. Roberts should have been withdrawn. On the 22d November, the President addressed a strong remonstrance to the Viceroy on the subject, but before an answer could be returned, the gentleman who was the subject of discussion died at Macao of his illness. The President then declared that the principle on which the committee acted was in nowise altered by that circumstance; and as the Hoppo issued a paper, in which the local government disclaimed the right of interfering in the Company's appointments, the trade was resumed.
The jealous and suspicious character of the Chinese Government was eminently displayed in the year 1813, on the occasion of some presents from England being conveyed to a minister at Pekin. Soong-tajin, a mandarin of high rank, who had acted as conductor to Lord Macartney's mission, and whose kind and conciliatory conduct to the English on that occasion, as well as when he afterwards filled the office of Viceroy at Canton, had made some of them his warm friends, became at length elevated to the rank of one of the Emperor's Council. It was therefore resolved in England that, both as an acknowledgment of past good offices, and an earnest of future ones, a letter and presents should be conveyed to the minister : the person selected for the performance of this service was a Chinese named Ayew, for some time linguist
at Canton, and by him the gold box and letter were safely conveyed to their destination. He returned on the 25th August, with a card of acknowledgment from Soongtajin; but not long after his arrival the linguist was seized by order of the Government, and after a summary trial banished to Tartary, for the crime of illicit dealings with foreign barbarians! It was soon after learned that the unfortunate minister had been disgraced, and the present sent back; and it has been since remarked that the unguarded mandarin, whose amiable character distinguished him above the generality of his countrymen, never afterwards regained his former power, or favour with the Emperor.
The foregoing circumstances came subsequently, in the year 1814, to be mixed up with discussions in which the select commitee were involved with the local government, partly in consequence of the proceedings of his Majesty's ship Doris, which was then exercising a very active blockade against the American merchantmen in the Canton river. In the month of April, the Doris being on a cruise near Macao, captured the American ship Hunter, off the Ladrone Islands, and brought her in. The Chinese Government immediately issued an edict, desiring the committee to send the Doris away, which they of course answered by stating their inability to perform what was demanded. In May following, the Doris's boats chased an American schooner from the neighbourhood of Macao up to Whampoa, within ten miles of Canton, where they took her; but, before she could be carried out of the river, the Americans at Whampoa armed their boats and retook their schooner. This event with the capture of the Hunter previously, commenced the troubles of 1814. The Chinese hereupon entered upon a course of aggressive measurses, not against the frigate but against the factory, which soon became intolerable. The local government first prohibited the employment of native servants ; they then sent persons to enter the factory, and seize upon such Chinese as they fou there. The boats of the Indiamen were molested while peaceably proceeding on their business on the river; and every attempt was made to prevent communication with our men-of
EMBASSY OF LORD AMHERST.
The committee, seeing the hostile disposition of the Government, determined on the bold measure of stopping the trade, as the only means of arriving at a remedy. The Chinese somewhat startled at their old weapon being turned against themselves, began to display a more conciliatory temper, and, after some debate, a mandarin was appointed to meet Sir George Staunton, who was deputed to conduct the negotiation on the part of the committee. Accordingly, on the 20th of October, Sir George proceeded to Canton, accompanied by Sir Theophilus Metcalfe and Mr. Davis. The first subject of complaint was the arrest of the linguist Ayew, for performing a service which was merely complimentary on the part of the English, and expressive of their respect for a dignified officer of Government, who had conducted the first embassy through China, and been on friendly terms with its members. It was immediately replied, that his seizure was on account of a totally different affair, and that there was no intention of condemning the proceeding. Several meetings took place with the principal mandarins and one or two assessors, but little progress was made towards an adjustment; when the Viceroy suddenly determined on breaking off the negotiation. The committee upon this, resolved on issuing a notice to all British subjects to quit Canton : Sir George Staunton and the gentlemen with him embarked in the Wexford, and the whole fleet proceeded down the river.
This step had the effect of completely curing the obstinacy of the Viceroy. A deputation of Hong merchants was sent down to the ships, with authority to state that mandarins would be sent to discuss the remaining points in dispute if Sir George would return. On his reaching Canton, an attempt was made to retract the pledge, but this could not be persisted in; and, after several long and tedious audiences with the mandarins, the principal points in dispute were gained, and incorporated in an official paper from the Viceroy, as the only security against a breach of faith on the part of the Chinese. The privilege of corresponding with the Government under seal, and in the native character was now for the first time established ; an assurance was given that no Chinese officer should ever enter the British factory without leave previously obtained ; and license
was given to native servants to enter into the service of the English without molestation from the petty mandarins; together with some other points.
The measures above detailed were highly approved in England; but the conduct and disposition of the Chinese Government for some time past had been such, as to prove that the commercial interests of the nation in China were exposed to the utmost hazard from the chance of perpetual interruption at the will of a capricious and despotic set of delegates, who kept the court of Peking in profound ignorance of their own oppressive and arbitrary conduct towards the Company's trade. To these circumstances are to be attributed the embassy of Lord Amherst in 1816, of which the object was to secure, if possible, the commerce of Great Britain upon a solid and equitable footing under the cognizance of the Emperor, and with the advantage of a ready appeal to him in case of need. The design of a mission to Peking had been for some time entertained by his Majesty's Ministers and the Court of Directors, when the arrival from China of the despatches of 1815 confirmed them in the resolution. It was hoped, as a collateral object, and one within the range of possibility, that an English resident might be admitted at the capital, or permission be obtained for trading to some of the ports on the north-east coast.
The embassy left England in the Alceste frigate on the 10th of February, attended by the Lyra brig, and the General Hewett, a Company's ship, and arrived off Macao on the 12th of July, when it was joined by Sir George Staunton, the first commissioner, as well as by the Chinese secretaries, and the other gentlemen who were appointed from England to accompany it to Peking. The ships reached the gulf of Pechelee on the 28th of July, but the ambassador did not land until the 9th of August. On the 12th the mission reached Tien-tsin, where a feast was conferred on the part of the Emperor, and an attempt made to bring about the practice of the ko-tow, or prostration, before a yellow screen, preparatory to the grand performance of it before the Emperor himself. This, however, was successfully avoided, on the plea that Earl Macartney had not been required to execute that act of fealty and vassalage.