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Title: Narrative of the Voyages and Services of the Nemesis from 1840 to 1843 - Second Edition
Author: Bernard, William Dallas, Hall, William Hutcheon
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of the Voyages and Services of the Nemesis from 1840 to 1843 - Second Edition" ***

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[Illustration: Tombs of the Kings, and sculptured Monsters]

    OF THE
    FROM 1840 TO 1843,
    AND OF
    Colony of Hong-Kong






The design originally proposed, when the following work was undertaken,
has been somewhat departed from during its progress towards completion.
Not only did the interest awakened by the various subjects treated of
greatly increase, as the Author proceeded in his attempt to describe
the scenes in which the Nemesis bore so distinguished a part, but the
introduction of much collateral matter seemed to be called for, in
order to enable him fully to illustrate the current of passing events.
Hence the narrative of the adventures of the Nemesis gradually expanded
itself into a complete history of the origin, progress, and termination
of all the recent interesting occurrences in China, including a full
and accurate account of all the operations of the war, and of the
complicated difficulties from which it originated, as well as of the
peculiar features that marked its progress.

In addition, therefore, to her own interesting tale, the Nemesis
supplied a valuable foundation upon which to build up a more enlarged
history. The Author had long taken a deep interest in all that
concerned our relations with China; and with a view to study personally
the character of the people, and to obtain accurate information by
observation on the spot, he paid a lengthened visit to that country in
1842. He there had the good fortune to fall in with the Nemesis, and
through the kindness of Captain Hall, he subsequently proceeded in her
to Calcutta in the beginning of 1843. He has thus been enabled to add
to the history of the operations copious notices of the various places
visited by the expedition; and has given a full description of the
New Colony of Hong-Kong, with remarks upon its vast importance as a
possession of the British empire upon the threshold of China.

Incidental observations have been introduced upon the character of
the Chinese people, and the new prospects which have been opened to
us, through the extraordinary changes which have taken place in our
intercourse with them, in a social, moral, mercantile, and religious
point of view. These will be met with according as they were suggested
by particular occurrences, or prompted by localities described in the
work. The Maps and Illustrations will also contribute to give interest
to the Narrative.

The Author owes some apology to naval and military readers for
the apparent presumption with which he has ventured to handle so
many details of a professional character; nor indeed would he have
undertaken the task without the able advice and correction of officers
who were themselves actors in the scenes described. The valuable
assistance and co-operation of Captain Hall, who was actively employed
in China during the whole period of the war, and whose services in
command of the Nemesis need no extraneous encomium, were indispensable
to the completion of the work. The Author also gladly avails himself
of this opportunity of acknowledging the kindness of Capt. Sir Thomas
Herbert, R.N., K.C.B., who obligingly permitted him to have access
to his plans and documents; and to numerous other naval and military
officers the best thanks of Captain Hall and himself are due.

Those readers who are alive to the important progress of steam
navigation cannot fail to take a deep interest in the history of the
first iron steamer that ever doubled the Cape of Good Hope. In the
narrative of her curious and protracted voyage will be found many
notices of the places she visited, and in particular of some of the
Portuguese slave settlements on the east coast of Africa, at Delagoa
Bay at Mozambique, &c. The description given of the Comoro Islands will
probably be quite new to most readers.

At the end of the work will be found an account of a visit to some of
the harbours of the important island of Hainan, which must acquire
greater importance through the progressive increase of our commercial
intercourse with China; and in the Appendix have been added the
new regulations concerning trade in China, and an abstract of the
supplementary treaty recently concluded.

With much diffidence, but entertaining a hope that the numerous
subjects touched upon in these volumes have not been hastily or crudely
handled, the Author commits his Narrative to the kind indulgence of his

    W. D. B.

    _March, 1844_.


The rapid sale of the first edition, and the unexpected favour which
the work has met with, have induced the Author to put forth a second
edition, in a somewhat condensed and cheaper form. While no passages
have been omitted which appeared essential to the completeness of the
narrative, and none curtailed which seemed calculated to keep alive
the general interest in the current of events, it is hoped, that
the condensation of the whole into one volume, will be considered
advantageous to a numerous class of readers.

The woodcuts have been all retained, and an additional map of the
east coast of China, comprising all the recent improvements, has been
added. A few corrections in the detail of facts have been made, at the
suggestion of officers engaged, and it is hoped that this edition will
be found to possess some advantages over the first. The Author gladly
takes this opportunity of thanking the naval and military officers
concerned, for their indulgence, and also a considerate public for the
friendly reception which has been accorded to the work.

The Author is willing to believe that he owes more to the interest of
the subject itself, when simply handled, than to his own individual
efforts, however conscientiously directed.



    Tombs of the Kings, and sculptured Monsters             Frontispiece.
    The Nemesis                                              to face p. 1
    Battle of Woosung                                                 396
    Portrait of the Chief Priest of the Porcelain Tower               451

    Plan of a Temporary Rudder                                         14
    Plan of Lee-Board                                                  16
    New Method of strengthening Iron Steamers                          31
    Plans of Repairs of Nemesis                                    32, 33
    Plan of Naval Operations before Canton, 18th of March             198
    Bridge of Boats at Ningpo                                         332
    Chinese Caricatures of the English                                367

    Track Chart, England to China                                      56
    Hong-Kong                                                         246
    East Coast of China                                               448
    Canton River, and its branches, with Plan of Operations at Canton
                                                          end of the vol.

[Illustration: The Nemesis]



The year 1839 will long be remembered by all those who have taken any
interest in Eastern affairs. The harsh and unwarrantable measures of
Commissioner Lin, the imprisonment of Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary
and all other English subjects, and the wild but brief career of
uncontrolled violence which marked his reign, called imperatively on
our part for stronger measures than had yet been resorted to; and such
measures were at once adopted by the Court of Directors of the East
India Company, as well as by the government of the country, their
direct object being to ensure the speedy departure of an adequate force
for the protection of British subjects and British trade in China, and
to demand proper reparation for the violence and insult offered to Her
Majesty's representative.

It was scarcely to be expected that, under these circumstances,
hostilities could be altogether avoided; and, as the principal scene
of them, if they occurred, would be in rivers and along the coasts,
attention was directed to the fitting out of armed vessels, which
should be peculiarly adapted for that particular service. Iron, as
a material for ship-building, had been already tried, and found to
answer; and this was considered an extremely favourable opportunity
for testing the advantages or otherwise of iron steam-vessels; and the
numerous rivers along the coast of China, hitherto very imperfectly
known, and almost totally unsurveyed, presented an admirable field
for these experiments. If successful there, it might be readily
inferred that their utility in the fine rivers and along the shores of
Hindostan, and other portions of the Company's territories, would be
demonstrated, and by degrees a very powerful steam fleet would become
an invaluable addition to the already vast resources of the Indian

Orders were therefore given for the immediate building of several stout
iron steamers, to be constructed with peculiar reference to their
employment in river navigation. They were all to be adequately armed
and manned, and no reasonable expense was to be spared in fitting
them out in a manner best adapted to the particular object sought to
be attained by them. No iron steamer had ever yet doubled the Cape of
Good Hope; their qualities, therefore, remained yet to be tested in the
stormy seas about Southern Africa; and various questions respecting the
errors of the compasses, the effects of lightning, &c., upon vessels
of this description, remained still imperfectly solved, particularly
in reference to those tropical regions, where the great phenomena
of nature are exhibited in a more intense and dangerous degree. In
fact, no experience had yet been gained of their capabilities for the
performance of long and perilous voyages; and it was a bold conception
which suggested that they should be sent round the Cape, to the
eastward, in the very worst season of the year, when even the stoutest
and largest _wooden ships_ trust themselves as little as possible in
that stormy region.

The equipment and destination of the Nemesis, however, was kept a
profound secret, except to those who were personally concerned in it,
and even they (with the exception of the authorities) had little notion
of the precise service upon which she was to be employed.

The Nemesis was at length finished, and sent to sea as a private
armed steamer. She was never commissioned under the articles of war,
although commanded principally by officers belonging to the Royal Navy;
neither was she classed among the ships of the regular navy of the East
India Company. In short, the Nemesis was equipped under very peculiar
circumstances, which, together with the novelty of her construction,
caused her to become an object of very general interest. The "_wooden_
walls" of England had, in fact, been so long identified with her
proudest recollections, and had constituted for so many centuries her
national "boast," that it seemed an almost _unnational_ innovation
to attempt to build them of iron. Indeed, it was rather looked upon
as one of the dangerous experiments of modern days. Moreover, as the
_floating_ property of wood, without reference to its shape or fashion,
rendered it the most natural material for the construction of ships,
so did the _sinking_ property of iron make it appear, at first sight,
very ill adapted for a similar purpose. It was sometimes forgotten that
even wooden ships are composed of wood, iron, and copper together, and
that the bulkiness of these necessary materials greatly diminishes the
buoyancy of the wood.

A minute and scientific description of the structure of the Nemesis
will be found in the United Service Journal for May, 1840, and it
will therefore be sufficient, in this place, merely to notice one or
two peculiarities, in which it differs from that of wooden ships in
general. With the exception of the great paddle-beams, across the ship,
and the _planks_ of the deck and the cabin-fittings, together with one
or two other parts, the names of which would be only intelligible to
the scientific reader, the whole vessel was built of iron.

Credit is due to Mr. Laird, of the Birkenhead Iron Works, Liverpool,
for the admirable manner in which she was constructed, and for the
elegance of her form and model, which fully answered every purpose
required of her.

Her burden was about 680 tons, and her engines of 120-horse power,
constructed by Messrs. Forrester and Co., also of Liverpool; and with
twelve days' supply of coals, together with water and provisions for
four months, and stores of all sorts for two years, with duplicate
machinery, &c., and all her armament complete, her mean load draught
of water was only _six feet_. But commonly, in actual service, she
drew little more than five feet. Her length over all was 184 feet, her
breadth 29 feet, and her depth 11 feet. Her keel-plate was laid, and
the vessel built and launched, in the short space of three months.

Strictly speaking, the Nemesis has no fixed keel, but the lower plate
of iron, which connects the two sides of the ship together along its
middle, is called the keel-plate. She is, therefore, almost perfectly
flat-bottomed; and, in order to obviate, as much as possible, the
disadvantages attendant upon this peculiar construction, there are two
sliding or moveable keels, capable of being raised or lowered to the
depth of five feet below the bottom of the vessel. Each of these keels
is about seven feet in length, one being placed before and the other
abaft the engine-room. They are each enclosed in a narrow case or tank,
one foot wide, running from the bottom of the vessel up to the deck,
and which, of course being open below, allows the water to rise in it,
to the level of the sea on the outside of the vessel. In this, the
keel, which is of wood, 4½ inches thick, works up and down by means of
a small winch, and a strong chain which is attached to it. Thus it is
evident, that either the foremost or the aftermost keel can be raised
or lowered, independently of the other, if circumstances require it.

As it would, however, be impossible to steer with accuracy, a vessel of
this construction, with a rudder merely of the ordinary description,
and which, from its shallowness, would, in a heavy sea, be in a great
measure out of water, there is a contrivance by which a moveable or
false rudder is attached to the lower part of the true or fixed rudder,
and which descends to the same depth as the two false keels, and, like
them, can be raised or lowered at pleasure.

The main or true rudder was composed of wood, but the lower or false
rudder was made of iron, and was so constructed as to grasp the lower
part of the upper or fixed one, firmly on either side, but was bolted
through in such a way as to be moveable, as if it were fastened by a
hinge, so that, by means of a chain run up to the taffrail from its
outer edge, it could be hauled up to any height required.

The next striking peculiarity in the construction of the Nemesis was,
that the entire vessel was divided into seven water-tight compartments,
by means of iron bulkheads; so that, in fact, it somewhat resembled a
number of iron tanks, cased over, so as to assume the external form of
one connected vessel. By this means, the occurrence of any accident,
such as striking on a rock, or shot-holes, &c., which might occasion a
dangerous leak in one compartment, would have no effect upon any other
part of the vessel.

The advantages of this arrangement were often tested, during her
three years' hard service; and, indeed, within a few days after her
first departure from Liverpool, as will be presently related, this
contrivance sufficed to save her from the almost certain destruction
which would otherwise have awaited her.

The last peculiarity which it seems necessary here to mention, was the
provision of some kind of instrument for counteracting the effect of
the local attraction of so large a mass of iron upon the compasses, and
for correcting the errors occasioned thereby. This difficulty had been
seriously felt by Colonel Chesney, on board the small iron steamers
which he had under his orders, during his expedition to the Euphrates;
although he was of opinion, that the placing of the compasses at a
certain height _above_ the vessel, so as to be further removed from the
sphere of the local attraction of the iron, was sufficient to reduce
their errors materially.

Without entering into the merits of Barlow's counteracting plates,
or Professor Airy's interesting discoveries, it will be sufficient
here to mention, that the Nemesis was fitted with correctors, very
much according to the system of Professor Airy, but not under his own
superintendence; that the experiments were conducted at Liverpool
under every disadvantage, and that the result was never perfectly
satisfactory. Indeed, the accident which shortly befel her, has been
attributed, upon strong grounds, principally to the imperfection of
her compasses. It is right, however, to mention, that other vessels,
such as the Phlegethon and Pluto, which have been fitted with Airy's
correctors, tested according to the most approved principles, and after
experiments conducted with great attention, have been totally relieved
from this source of danger and anxiety, and have been navigated with
perfect accuracy and confidence.

We may now come to the interesting moment of the departure of the
Nemesis from Liverpool, where she was built. Everything seemed at first
to prosper; the weather was favourable, and the machinery perfect in
all its parts. She had cleared the narrowest part of the Irish Channel,
had passed the coast of Wales, and crossed the entrance to the Bristol
Channel; and the course she had been steering would have taken her well
clear of the Land's End.

It was now the second day since her departure. About two o'clock in the
morning, the weather being still hazy and the night dark, she struck
heavily on a rock.

Of course the engines were instantly stopped, but the _way_ she already
had on her appeared sufficient to carry her over the reef; and, indeed,
the actual rocks themselves could be seen outside of her, so that she
had evidently passed between them and the land, and had merely struck
the edge of the reef.

Finding that the vessel did not _hang_ upon the reef, and was therefore
still afloat, her head was turned to seaward, and the engines kept
working slowly, while the dawn was anxiously expected. It was now
discovered, that the rocks upon which she had struck were aptly enough
called "The Stones," lying at the entrance to the bay of St. Ives, in
Cornwall, and not very far distant from the Land's End. It was soon
evident, also, that the accident had occasioned a very serious leak, in
one of the foremost compartments of the vessel. It was with difficulty
that the water could be kept lower in it than the level of the sea
outside, with the hand-pump; and, in fact, if the vessel had not been
divided into these water-tight compartments, it is difficult to imagine
that the accident would not have been fatal to her.

However, she was carried, without much difficulty, round the Land's
End, into Mount's Bay, where she anchored about three miles from
Penzance, off St. Michael's Mount. The object here was to procure an
additional pump, in the hope of being able, by that means, to empty
the tank or compartment, so as to be able to stop the leak from the
inside. Fortunately, one perfectly adapted for the purpose was obtained
from a small coasting-vessel which was at anchor in the bay. It was
an iron one, and has been preserved on board ever since, and, on many
occasions, has been found of the greatest utility. Indeed, every vessel
of this description should be provided with an extra pump of this kind,
to be worked by hand, and at all times ready to be placed into any
compartment, as an additional means of pumping it out, and also as a
security against fire, for the purpose of pumping water into the vessel
in case of necessity.

With the assistance of this additional pump, the water in the
compartment was completely emptied, and, then it was discovered that a
hole had been cut completely through her bottom by the rock, but could
now be easily stopped from the inside.

This being speedily effected, the vessel pursued her voyage without
the least difficulty, and came to anchor on the following evening in
Yarmouth Roads, inside the Isle of Wight.

It should here be mentioned, that every compartment of the vessel was
provided with a small pipe and cock, by means of which, the water
could be let out of one compartment into another, and so passed on,
from one to the other, into the engine-room, where it could be pumped
out by the machinery. But, as this appeared a rather clumsy mode of
doing it, namely, by floating nearly half the ship unnecessarily, it
was not resorted to. But, in vessels more recently constructed, a
great improvement has been introduced in this respect. From each of
the compartments, a pipe leads directly into the engine-room itself,
without communicating with any other part; so that, by means of a cock,
the water can at once be pumped out by the engine, or else can be
confined to the compartment itself, and pumped out by hand, when it is
not desirable to let it flow into the engine-room.

As little time as possible was lost in completing the necessary
repairs, and in rendering her in all respects fit to undertake the long
and unknown voyage she was about to perform. At length she was cleared
out for the Russian port of Odessa, much to the astonishment of every
one; but those who gave themselves time to reflect hardly believed it
possible that such could be her real destination.

She was armed with two 32-pounder guns, mounted on pivot, or traversing
carriages, for the purpose of throwing either shot or shell, one being
placed forward and the other aft, as in all armed steamers.[1]

On leaving England she had on board about sixty men and officers; but,
during the operations in China, she usually had about ninety men and
officers.[2] Her daily consumption of fuel was about eleven tons.

She had no _paddle-boats_; but in other respects, she was well
found in boats, while in China. She had two cutters, pinnace, gig,
jolly-boat, dingy, and always a large Chinese boat. A large platform
was also built between the paddle-boxes, instead of the small bridge
which is usually constructed there. This platform covered the whole
space between the paddle-boxes, and was found particularly convenient,
when troops were on board, as it was always occupied by the officers,
while the decks were crowded with the soldiers. There was also a
6-pounder brass pivot gun, mounted upon the bridge, which was very
useful for trying the range. A rocket tube and a supply of rockets were
always kept in readiness upon this platform, besides ammunition for
the brass gun, &c. In hot weather an awning was spread over it, and
it was always a most convenient place for watching and directing the
operations of the steamer.

Besides the guns above-mentioned, the Nemesis carried four brass
6-pounders and one small howitzer.

Unusual interest was excited by the expected departure of this strange
vessel, upon a voyage of which both the purpose and the destination
were alike unknown. Even the Admiral himself was ignorant of the
service which she was called upon to perform.

At length, on the 28th of March, 1840, she really had sailed. The
Needle Rocks, the high cliffs at the back of the Isle of Wight, the
shores of England herself, had gradually sunk below the horizon, and
the excitement attending departure had at length settled down into the
cold reality of a first night at sea.

On the third day, the 30th of March, at daylight, the last glimpse was
taken of the land of our birth. The Lizard disappeared, and nothing was
around but the wide expanse of the blue ocean. On the gallant vessel
went gaily through the Bay of Biscay, at an average rate of seven to
eight knots under steam, moving gracefully to the heavy swell which at
all times prevails there.

On the 2nd of April, she was well in sight of Cape Finisterre, the
dread of seamen, on the rock-bound coast of Portugal, and encountered a
moderate gale of wind, but made head against it without difficulty.

On the 6th of April, the lovely island of Madeira came full in sight,
the ninth day since she had left Portsmouth, and only the seventh from
the Land's End.

At daylight, the little island of Porto Santo having been passed, the
full prospect of the larger island of Madeira lay exposed.

Though sailors are seldom poets, there is something in the aspect of
this lovely island which speaks poetry to the least poetical; and where
nature looks so eloquent, and the fresh green of the loaded vineyard
contrasts so beautifully with the wilder rocks above it, while the
sun of its scarce-failing summer sheds its glow upon the varied woods
around, even the iron Nemesis and her iron-hearted crew were cheered
and gladdened, as she glided close along the shore.

The Nemesis was not long in coming to anchor within the bay, not very
far from the town, and between it and the remarkable rock called the
Loo Rock.

Time was precious, and the great object of her visit was to be
accomplished as soon as possible--namely, in the stoker's language,
"coaling"--an operation anything but pleasant. But they who would
enjoy the steamer's "stately march upon the waters" must be content to
purchase it at the price of this necessary evil.


[1] She subsequently, also, carried five long brass 6-pounders, two on
each side, and one upon the bridge; and had also ten small iron swivels
along the top of her bulwarks, besides boat guns and small arms.

[2] Nominal list of Officers who served on board the Nemesis during the
period referred to in this work:--

    William H. Hall, R.N., Commander--Promoted to Commander, 10th
    June, 1843;

    Lieutenant William Pedder, R.N., First Officer--Made Harbour
    Master and Marine-magistrate at Hong-Kong, July, 1841;

    Mr. Ed. L. Strangways, Mate, R.N., Second Officer--Left sick,
    29th March, 1841; Lieutenant, 23rd Dec. 1842;

    Mr. John Laird Galbraith, Third Officer--Made Second Officer,
    29th March, 1841; and First Officer, 1st July, 1842; and paid
    off at Calcutta, March, 1843;

    Mr. F. W. Whitehurst, Fourth Officer--Made Third Officer, 29th
    March, 1841; and Second Officer, 1st July, 1842; and paid off
    at Calcutta, March, 1843;

    Mr. Peter Young, M.R.C.S., Surgeon--Left the vessel, 15th
    January, 1841, at Macao;

    Mr. John Gaunt, Purser--Served during the whole period.

    N.B.--The above joined the Nemesis in England.

    The following officers joined the Nemesis at different periods
    in China:--

    Mr. John Turner, Surgeon--Joined 15th Jan. 1841, at Macao; made
    Assistant-Surgeon, Bombay Establishment, Oct. 1843;

    Mr. A. T. Freese, Mate, R.N., First Officer--Joined 1st
    August, 1841, at Hong-Kong; left the vessel 30th June, 1842;
    Lieutenant, 23rd Dec. 1842;

    Mr. Alfred Fryer, Fourth Officer--Joined 1st February, 1842, at
    Chusan; paid off and rejoined at Calcutta, 1843;

    Mr. B. G. Dryden, Second Officer--Joined 1st July, 1842, at
    Woosung; ditto

    Mr. Arthur Baker, Volunteer--Joined 24th August, 1842; Yangtze
    river; ditto

    Engineers--Mr. Colin M'Lougal (killed), Mr. John Kinross, Mr.
    Henry L. Harley, Mr. William Lang, Mr. David Wilson, Robert

    N.B.--Mr. Crouch, Mate, R.N., served on board as gunnery-mate,
    from the Wellesley, by permission of Commodore Sir Gordon
    Bremer, at Chuenpee, at First Bar Action, and Inner Passage,
    &c. Promoted Lieutenant, 8th June, 1841; Commander, 25th
    October, 1843. Wounded at Chin-keang-foo.


On the evening of the 8th April, the steamer was again standing out
of the Bay of Funchal, after being detained there only three days. It
has been already stated that the vessel was not under the articles of
war; this was well known to all the crew, although the majority of her
officers belonged to Her Majesty's navy. Even in this early part of her
career the difficulty had been seriously felt; and none but those who
have been placed in similar circumstances, as commanding officers, can
form any notion of the great forbearance, tact, and judgment which are
daily required on their part, in the management of their men.

On the 11th, she passed quietly through the Canary Islands, between
Palma and Teneriffe, the high peak of the latter, however, not being
visible, owing to the hazy weather. The Nemesis was now entirely under
canvass, and the steam was not got up for twelve or thirteen days after
her departure from Madeira. The north-east trade-wind soon carried her
smoothly along, as she passed about midway between the Cape de Verd
Islands and the coast of Africa, and it was only in a calm, not far
from Sierra Leone, that she had occasion to use her engines. She was
found to sail remarkably well without steam, although so flat-bottomed.

Thus she proceeded quietly along the coast, until she reached the
neighbourhood of Cape Formoso, towards which she was set by strong and
unusual southerly winds and a lee-current. She was, however, not long
in reaching Princes' Island, situated near the coast of Africa. This
is a settlement belonging to the Portuguese, and the principal place
of resort for our cruisers in that quarter, not very far from Fernando
Po. She cast anchor in West Bay, Princes' Island, on the evening of the
14th May, forty-four days from England, principally under sail. Here
she remained, undergoing a necessary refit, cutting wood for fuel, and
preparing for sea, until the evening of the 23rd.

It is the practice here for every English man-of-war, of those
stationed on the coast, which resort to the island, to leave a
Krooman[3] in her pay, for the purpose of cutting wood for the ship, in
readiness for her return. As there are generally several vessels on the
coast, so are there also several Kroomen belonging to them, who join
together, and go out to cut wood, lending each other mutual assistance.
The wood is then brought down to the coast, and stacked in piles, one
for each ship, the name of the particular ship being written on it.

As the Nemesis was furnished with a letter from the Admiralty,
requiring all Her Majesty's ships to give her every assistance in
their power, she was not long in taking on board the whole stock of
wood already laid up for the little squadron. Captain Tucker, then
commanding the Wolverine, was most active in lending his aid, and
even gave up the supply of wood he already had on board. In this way
about seventy tons of good hard wood were at last taken on board the
Nemesis, and, as plenty of coal still remained, there could be little
doubt that, with this reinforcement, she would be able to reach the
Cape of Good Hope without difficulty. Water is easily procured in the
immediate neighbourhood of the landing-place, of excellent quality; and
thus two very important items for the recruiting of a ship are to be
found in abundance in Princes' Island. Pigs, poultry, and goats are to
be had in any quantity, as well as yams, Indian corn, coffee, bananas,
pineapples, and limes. Above all, the anchorage at Princes' Island is
good in all seasons, and of easy access, either by day or night. It is
consequently a very valuable place of call for vessels going by the
eastern passage to the Cape, which in some seasons is to be preferred
to the western route, particularly for steamers.

On the side of the island opposite to West Bay, or the north-east, is
the town and harbour of Port St. Antonio, where the governor of the
island resides. It is tolerably secure, but confined, and by no means
equal to West Bay for shipping. There is a respectable Portuguese
merchant there, who is in the habit of supplying the ships at West
Bay with various stores that they may require; and, with the view of
furnishing all the information which could be procured, in case any
other steamer should touch there, application was made to Mr. Carnaero,
the reply to which was, that he would supply any quantity, at the rate
of one Spanish dollar for every hundred logs;[4] but if they were
required to be cut into smaller pieces it would cost more, as negroes
would have to be hired for the purpose, at the rate of one dollar a
day for every three men. Further, as regarded the time necessary, he
thought it would require from thirty to forty days to provide five
thousand logs. Coals were to be had at West Bay, of course imported
from England, but only at the enormous rate of about £6 sterling per

Princes' Island is being greatly benefited already by the demand for
its wood. Land is, in consequence, being cleared and planted, and the
coffee grown there is of good quality, and cheap. In fact, from its
position and capabilities, it is likely to become a place of great
resort, as steam communication, viâ the Cape of Good Hope, gradually
becomes more extended.

It must be mentioned here, that ships sailing much along the coast
are pretty sure to get their bottoms covered with large barnacles;
and the Nemesis, so far from being exempt from this annoyance, being
entirely of iron, was, perhaps, more troubled with them than a coppered
ship would have been. The quantity, in fact, was enormous, and they
adhered so firmly, that it was with some difficulty they were taken
off, commonly bringing away the paint with them. Kroomen belonging
to the men-of-war were employed to dive under the ship's bottom for
the purpose, and a very curious and amusing scene it was. It is quite
astonishing how long these men can remain at work under water, and
no light work either. Great, muscular, black, curly-headed fellows,
bobbing down under water, some with brooms, some with scrapers, and
others with bits of iron bar; anything, in short, with which they could
attack the tenacious visiters which clung so lovingly to the iron
Nemesis. The Kroomen are an active, laborious, and faithful race, as
all will testify who have occasion to employ them on the coast. They
are received as seamen in our men-of-war upon the station; and, on her
return to Calcutta, after long and arduous service, the Nemesis had
still two of them remaining on board, out of three who accompanied her
from the coast, the other having died in the service.

At length, on the 22nd of May, the steam was once more got up, boats
hoisted in, anchor weighed, and the word "full speed" being passed
below, away went the still mysterious Nemesis, as the sun had just
dipped below the horizon. Her course would necessarily lead her towards
the island of St Thomas's, another Portuguese settlement, lying as
nearly as possible under the Line, and, therefore, scarcely a day's
voyage from Princes' Island. She accordingly approached it on the
following afternoon, and did not lose the opportunity of entering the
Bay of Chaves, where lies the principal town, called St. Anne de Chaves.

Some parts of this small island are very pretty and picturesque, others
are wild and thickly wooded. It produces large quantities of fruit and
vegetables, but is principally valuable on account of the excellence of
its coffee, which, however, is not cultivated in very large quantity.
St Anne, the principal town, lies at the bottom of a lovely bay. The
greater part of the inhabitants of St. Anne are negro slaves and
Kroomen. The latter come over from the coast to the northward of the
Line, and are tall, athletic men, very industrious, (in this respect
different from most other Africans,) intelligent, and, when well
treated, faithful and honest. All the Kroomen are strongly attached to
the English, and willingly serve on board our ships. They have great
faith in an Englishman's word, and, to whatever part of the world they
may be carried, they always feel confident of being sent back to their
own country free of expense, whenever their services are no longer
required. They are an independent people, and have never been connected
with slave-dealers, whom, indeed, they seem to hold in great contempt.
Nevertheless, they have the woolly hair and thick lips and nose of the
true negro. Of all the Africans whom I have seen, they appear most to
resemble the Abyssinians in their character and habits, though improved
by more frequent contact with our countrymen.

The governor's house is the best in the place, and is distinguished
from the more humble ones around it by the luxury of a green verandah.
Across the entrance to the principal apartment, a large curtain
or screen of drapery was hung, richly emblazoned with the arms of
Portugal, and almost the only real token of her power.

It was naturally a matter of curiosity to visit his Excellency in
state, and, accordingly, Captain Hall and his officers were ushered
into the _presence_ by a grand Master of the Ceremonies, who was also
commandant of the island. This person was a huge black negro, "richly
caparisoned" for the occasion, and, as he spoke a little English,
he proceeded, immediately after the presentation, to expound to his
Excellency the object of the visit. That object was, first, of course,
to pay respect to so distinguished an officer, and next, to ascertain
whether, in case a steamer should happen to touch there at any other
time, a depôt for coal could be formed on the island, and whether wood
could be procured for fuel, and a proper place provided for storing it
until required. His Excellency condescended to be extremely polite,
saying that both these matters could be accomplished, and that he
should be happy to lend his assistance in any manner he could. He
added that he perfectly well remembered that the Enterprise, a wooden
steamer, had touched there on her way to India many years before, but
that he had never till now heard of an _iron_ one.

The interview was soon ended, and was so far perfectly satisfactory.
But, as the party were on the way down to the ship again, the black
master of the ceremonies, aide-de-camp, commandant, &c., made a
particular request that no salute should be fired, for that they
happened to be "very badly off for powder" themselves, and should find
it inconvenient to be obliged to return it; probably a gentle hint that
a little powder would be acceptable.

Little time could be devoted to the further examination of the
island, which would seem to be of very small value to its masters.
There is reason, however, to believe, that to a certain degree,
although unacknowledged and in secret, it is made use of as a sort of
intermediate trading-place for slaves.

It was on this island that the distinguished Major Sabine conducted
his scientific and interesting observations upon the swinging of the
pendulum in 1822, as it lies as nearly as possible under the Line.

On the following morning, the 25th, the Nemesis crossed the Line,
with the thermometer at 96°, which had been the average temperature
for several days. Strong adverse winds prevailed, with a heavy swell
for many days afterwards, against which she went ahead very steadily,
at the rate of five to five and a half knots an hour; but, as it
was desirable to save fuel as much as possible, it was at length
determined to make a hitherto untried experiment--viz., to work the
lee paddle-wheel only, while under sail, (the other wheel being
disconnected, and allowed to revolve by the motion of the vessel,) and
also to use only one boiler. She was steered about five and a half
points from the wind, and in this position, with a rolling sea and
steady breeze, she continued to make head at the rate of six and a half
to seven knots an hour, the active or lee paddle-wheel making twelve
to fifteen revolutions per minute. Thus the success of the trial was
complete, particularly as it appeared to counteract the _lee-way_ of
the vessel. The helm did not seem to be materially affected by the
unequal force applied to the two sides of the vessel.

Some pains have been taken to ascertain whether _both_ engines could be
worked to any good purpose with one boiler. In reply to this question,
it appears that, except in the river Mersey, at Liverpool, with all
circumstances particularly favourable, the Nemesis was never able to
work both engines with one boiler with more than very inconsiderable
effect. But it must be very evident that any vessel, having power
enough to do so in case of emergency, must possess a great advantage;
and there is little doubt that, with twenty or thirty horse power more,
she would have been able to accomplish it in smooth water, particularly
with sails set. It is therefore to be regretted that her power (only
one hundred and twenty horse) was scarcely sufficient for her size and

On the 2nd of June, the ship all at once seemed to be lost to the
control of the helmsman, and, no other very good reason suggesting
itself, the rudder was naturally examined with care. It was at once
discovered that the drop or false rudder had been carried away, but by
what means did not sufficiently appear, except that, on examination,
there was reason to think it must have been fairly worn through at the
point of junction with the lower edge of the upper or true rudder--for
at this part nearly the whole strain of its action operated.

No time was to be lost in attempting to repair this injury, as the
vessel became almost unmanageable, the true rudder, at times, being
nearly above water, in the heavy pitching of the ship. With the utmost
exertion on the part of the officers and the intelligent carpenter of
the ship, a temporary false rudder was constructed, and securely fixed
before nightfall. It was, moreover, found to act even better than
the original one, having more hold in the water, as well as a larger
surface of attachment to the upper rudder. Subjoined is a plan of this
contrivance, which will almost suffice to explain its ingenuity. It
was made of planks of wood, instead of solid iron, and was secured by
chains, in such a manner as to grasp the upper or true rudder firmly,
while it could also be raised or lowered at pleasure.


    A Main Rudder.

    B Side view of temporary rudder, made double, (out of six spare
    float-boards,) so as to clasp the main rudder on each side.

    C Pigs of ballast between the floats, resting on the heel-piece.

    D Lower chain guys, which pass round the heel of the rudder,
    crossing it at the fore part, and leading up on each quarter,
    with a tackle attached to each side.

    E Chain-head guys, passing through bolts in the main rudder,
    and set up over the stern.

    F Strengthening pieces of iron.

The whole apparatus was found to answer remarkably well, and, during
the remainder of the voyage to the Cape, (and that a trying one,) it
never got out of order, or required additional support. Indeed, it was
remarked by every one, that the vessel was more easily steered than it
had been before.

But the difficulties which the Nemesis had to encounter were not yet
ended. Strong breezes from the southward still prevailed, without any
prospect of a speedy change; her progress was slow, and there only
remained on board thirty-two tons of coal, with a little wood; nor
was there any place at hand to which she could run for fuel. It was
therefore resolved to stand out to sea, trusting to her canvas only.
Thus her remaining fuel would be reserved for any emergency, and
would suffice to ensure her being able to get into port when within a
reasonable distance. A reference to the map will shew her position at
this time.

As much sail was set as she could carry, and her course was altered
according to the wind. Away stood the fearless Nemesis, disdaining the
land, and boldly venturing out to dare the stormy seas of those regions
in the depth of winter. The heavy winds from the southward, which had
so long prevailed, had baffled all the usual calculations.

On the first day of their standing away, it became more than ever
apparent that, being very light, and in fact scarcely drawing five feet
and a half of water, as she was really flat-bottomed, the vessel fell
so much to leeward, that she made very little progress on a wind and
in a heavy sea; and, in short, that her deep moveable keels were far
from sufficient to counteract this tendency. It therefore became of
the utmost importance to endeavour to invent some additional means of
remedying this inconvenience.

Calling to mind his former experience on the coast of Holland, and
remembering the great advantage which the flat-bottomed Dutch vessels
derive from the use of their lee-boards, when sailing in light winds
or close hauled, with a head sea, it occurred to the commander that
something of a similar kind might be adopted on the present occasion.
The officers concurred in this suggestion; and when all are animated
with the same cordial and enterprising spirit, few things are found to
be so difficult as they at first appear. It is the mutual reliance upon
each other, in the moment of difficulty, which enables British seamen
boldly and successfully to brave many perils which a moment's doubt or
hesitation might render insurmountable.


    1 Main piece, made of birch, 4 inches by 12.

    2 Nine floats, 7 ft. 8 in. long, 11 in. broad, and 2½ thick.

    3 Two-inch plank.

    4 Iron braces, 1½ in. thick, to strengthen it.

    5 Ring-bolt to get it in and out with.

    6 Beam covered with iron, for lee-board to work on.

    7 Iron clamp, extending two feet, ½ in. thick.

    8 After-guy, for tricing up.

    9 Fore ditto, to steady heel.

    10 } Upper guys.

    11 }

    N.B. The chain guys were all set up with a rope and tackle.

The above diagram will sufficiently explain the nature of the
contrivance adopted on this occasion, without the assistance of minute
and tedious description. It is only necessary to remark, that in
addition to the four chains which are seen in the plan, a fifth was
found necessary, to keep the lee-board close to the side of the vessel.
It was secured to the lower end of the lee-board at its centre, and,
having then been carried across the vessel's bottom, was fastened to
the opposite side by a rope and tackle.

Thus equipped, the Nemesis proceeded on her voyage, and was found to
derive great assistance from this new contrivance. It was found that
her lee-way was reduced _fully one-half_, as ascertained by careful

Gradually the breeze freshened on the subsequent days, until, at last,
about the 18th, it amounted to a moderate gale, with that high and
heavy sea which all who have visited the Cape will long remember,
threatening, every now and then, to break on board or poop the ship;
but the steady little vessel rose to it like a swan, and never shipped
one heavy or dangerous sea.

Confidence in all her qualities daily increased, and, with a strong
breeze on the quarter, she was now sailing, under canvas only, at the
rate of eight to nine and a half knots an hour. The lee-board was found
at all times useful in making the ship stanch under sail, but as it was
constructed in haste, and only with such materials as were at hand, it
required to be repaired and strengthened several times.

At length, on the 29th, being still two hundred and thirty miles from
the Cape, but well down to the southward, and it appearing that there
was sufficient fuel left to carry her into port, the steam was for the
last time got up. On the morning of the 1st July, the remarkable land
of the Table Mountain, and the conical peak to the southward of it,
were well in sight. The Nemesis had made a long and tiresome voyage in
the most unfavourable season of the year, and the anxiety which had
been shared by all on board may well be conceived. The dangers of the
Cape, at that time of year, have not been exaggerated. On the 1st July,
much to the astonishment of every one at Cape Town, she was descried,
late in the evening, quietly steaming into Table Bay.


[3] A native African from the so-called Kroo country.

[4] About one thousand logs make up twenty-two tons and a half of

[5] Another remark, perhaps worthy of being attended to, suggested
itself on this occasion, and it has been frequently confirmed
since--namely, that no steamer constructed according to the model of
the Nemesis should be sent to sea upon a long and uncertain voyage,
without having a _fixed keel_ running the whole way fore and aft, and
bolted strongly through her bottom. This would be found of the greatest
possible utility at sea, and it could easily be taken off, and the
moveable keels put on, whenever the vessel were employed on a coast, or
in river navigation.

It may further be questionable, in the event of a smaller steamer being
intended to be sent out, whether it would not be both safer and less
expensive to send it _in pieces_, and have it put together, by the
mechanics and engineers belonging to it, at the place where it might be
destined for use, than to send it ready equipped, to make its own way
to its destination by steam and canvas, with all the necessary risk.


During the winter season, few vessels, and those only of light burden,
venture into Table Bay, exposed as it is to the full fury of the
north-west gales. But the Nemesis had little cause for fear; her light
draught of water enabling her to anchor in a well-sheltered cove, near
the stone jetty which has recently been constructed.

On the second day after her arrival, the governor of the colony paid a
visit on board, and, as he appeared to take the greatest interest in
all that related to her construction and equipment, the steam was got
up, and the whole party were carried round the bay, apparently much to
their satisfaction and enjoyment. The foremost gun was fired in every
position, and with different charges of powder, to shew its power and
range; and the interest awakened as to the future destination of the
vessel was much increased by what they then witnessed.

Everything contributed to make the day remembered; and as the Nemesis,
returning from her trip, approached the landing-place, thousands came
to greet her. To the astonishment of all, she ran in close to the side
of the _old_ jetty, where no vessel had ever been seen before. Nothing
could exceed the wonder of the people at seeing so long and large a
vessel floating alongside their old wooden pier, usually frequented
only by boats. It created quite an excitement in quiet Cape Town, and
the steady, sober-thinking Dutchmen could hardly bring themselves
to believe that iron would float at all, and still less with such
astonishing buoyancy.

Scarcely had the governor and his suite landed, when hundreds, one
might almost say thousands, of curious people crowded on board. The
report that an iron steamer was lying close to the town had spread so
fast, and had excited so much curiosity, that even the sick made it
an excuse for an airing; and such a motley crowd of people of every
caste and colour as gathered round the vessel is rarely to be met
with elsewhere. The negro, the Hottentot, the Caffir, and the Malay,
with all the intermediate shades of colour, hastened down with idle
curiosity; while the respectable Europeans and colonists, young and
old, were admitted on board, and seemed delighted to gaze on something

As it was desirable that as much coal as possible should be taken on
board before the vessel was compelled to haul off, owing to the falling
of the tide, no time was lost in commencing the troublesome process.
Even this did not at all deter the visiters, who continued to succeed
each other in crowds, in spite of the inconvenience they suffered.

Several repairs were now to be made with all expedition. The drop,
or false rudder, was first to be restored, and required to be much
strengthened. This was a very essential matter; and a suggestion now
occurred worth noticing, namely, that in the event of other vessels of
the same description being sent to sea, they should be provided with
some means of being able completely to choke the rudder temporarily, or
prevent its action altogether, while at sea, in case of its being found
requisite to repair the drop-rudder. The want of some means of keeping
the rudder stationary while repairing it at sea was frequently felt,
and something might easily be provided to effect this object. The whole
delay at the Cape amounted to nine clear days.

On the 11th of July, all being completed, she once more stood out
of Table Bay, with the cheers and hearty good wishes of all for her
success, although they wondered what her mysterious destination could

It is evident that a steamer bound to Singapore, or to any place still
further eastward, would have a choice of three routes; either she might
make her passage from the Cape towards the Straits of Sunda, between
the islands of Java and Sumatra, trusting principally to her sails,
the winds being generally strong in those latitudes, and thereby saving
her fuel; or she might run from the Cape up to the Mauritius, to take
in coal, which has been done by many steamers, and thence proceed
by the Straits of Malacca; or, lastly, she might run through the
Mozambique Channel, between the continent of Africa and the island of
Madagascar, and, touching at Ceylon for coals, proceed likewise down
the Straits of Malacca to her destination.

On the present occasion, the Nemesis had distinct orders to choose
the latter route, the season of the year being considered the most
favourable for it, and it being thought desirable that a visit
should be paid to the island of Johanna, the most frequented of the
group called the Comoro Islands, situated at the northern end of the
Mozambique Channel. This island will be more particularly alluded to in
its proper place. Thence she was to proceed direct to Ceylon for coals.
But even this was only known to her commander; and all that either
officers or men could learn about her destination, when they left the
Cape, was, that they were at once to proceed through the Mozambique
Channel, but with what object they knew not.

The Nemesis now approaches to one of the most eventful periods of
her history. Six days had scarcely passed since her departure from
the Cape, when a new and quite unforeseen danger awaited her, and
threatened the most appalling consequences, without any port being at
hand for refuge. It has very rarely happened that a ship has been so
near destruction, and yet escaped at last. The first few days of her
passage alternated between gales and calms, and the high sea which
she encountered only gave her a further opportunity of proving the
good qualities which she possessed as a sea-boat. Cape Francis, on the
southern side of the coast of Africa, within the colony, near Algoa
Bay, was in sight from the mast-head on the 14th. The barometer began
to fall on the 15th, and at length, on the following day, had almost
sunk to twenty-eight inches. Vivid flashes of lightning now ran along
the sky to the westward; the wind, which had been strong and steady
from the N.N.W., freshened to a heavy gale; every appearance threatened
an increase rather than a diminution of the storm; and the sea became
so high and heavy, that it threatened every moment to overwhelm the
_long_, _low_ Nemesis, for the sail that could be put upon her scarcely
sufficed to keep her before the sea.

The float-boards had been taken off the wheels before the gale
commenced, and she had continued under canvas ever since. Algoa Bay
had been passed long before the weather had become so threatening; to
return to it was now impossible; the gale went on increasing, the sea
rose fearfully, and the ship's course was slightly altered, so as to
carry her further away from the land. Her danger even at this time
was great, as she lay so low upon the sea, which heaved its convulsive
waves high above her.

In the night, or rather about three o'clock in the morning of the
17th, a tremendous sea at length struck her upon the larboard quarter.
Her whole frame quivered with the blow; and so violent was the shock,
that the first impression of all on board was, that the ship had been
actually riven asunder. The violence of the blow made her broach to the
sea and wind; but, happily, she was got before it again as speedily as

As daylight dawned, the injuries which the vessel had received were
soon discovered. The starboard paddle-wheel had been seriously damaged;
in fact, a considerable portion of it had been nearly carried away, and
only hung by a very small attachment, by which it was then dragging
through the water.

Scarcely had the necessary means been adopted to save this portion
of the wheel, when another and more serious injury was found to have
happened to the body of the ship itself. An immense perpendicular crack
was discovered, on both sides of the vessel, just before the after
paddle or sponson beam, extending almost entirely through the second
iron plate from the top, and also through a small portion of the upper
one. These had been broken asunder with such violence, that, at the
worst point of the injury, the plate had bulged outwards in such a
manner, that one portion of the broken surface projected to the extent
of about two inches, leaving a most formidable opening in the ship's
side. In reality, the vessel had begun to separate amidships, from one
side to the other. There was every probability, too, that the crack,
which at this time was nearly two feet and a half in length, would
rapidly extend itself by the working of the ship, unless the weather
moderated very speedily. There was every cause for alarm, and little
prospect of being able, even temporarily, to repair so serious an
injury in the then state of the weather.

It was evident that the broken paddle-wheel could not long hold
together, and scarcely any one thought it possible to save the broken
portion of it from being lost. But a little ingenuity, stimulated
by the necessity of the moment, often suggests the most effectual
contrivances, which are, after all, the most simple. The great object
was to secure it temporarily in some way or other; so that, as soon as
the rim became completely broken through, the mass might hang suspended
by some other means from the ship's side. The vessel was rolling
heavily, so that there was little chance of being able to pass a rope
round it; but the ingenious thought quickly suggested itself, that
one of the large boat-anchors would make a capital fish-hook for the
purpose. With this, one of the arms was at last caught hold of, and
supported, until the rim was completely torn through; and then, by
means of a tackle, the large broken portion of the wheel was, with some
difficulty, hauled on board.

So far there had been good fortune in the midst of trouble, for, had
this portion of the wheel been entirely lost, there is good reason to
fear, as will presently be seen, that with only one wheel, which might
also have easily become injured, the unfortunate Nemesis would very
probably have been unable to outlive the still worse weather which she
afterwards encountered, and would have scarcely reached a port, even in
a sinking state.

And here we may make two observations. First, that the practice of
taking off the float-boards under sail, which, in some steamers, is
made a regular exercise for the men, at all times materially weakens
the paddle-wheel, particularly in a heavy sea, and may endanger it
altogether. Secondly, that an additional paddle-ring, running round the
centre of the paddle-arms, and tying them together, contributes very
much to the strength of the wheel; and further, that the paddle-centre
should never be made of cast iron. It is the most important part of
the whole wheel, and should have the utmost strength, which wrought
iron alone can give it. It should here be mentioned, that even on this
occasion eight only, out of the sixteen float-boards, had been removed,
otherwise very probably still more serious damage would have happened.
In order to provide against the recurrence of any similar accident,
orders were subsequently given, to prepare several small bars of iron,
which were to be screwed on in the place of every _second_ float-board
removed; so that, if eight float-boards were taken off, four small bars
of iron would be put on in their places. Thus the wheel would not lose
its proper support and connexion. But, from the experience which had
now been gained, it was rarely afterwards thought expedient to take the
float-boards off at all, and certainly only in smooth water, and with
every appearance of settled weather. The portion of the paddle-wheel
which had been torn away on this occasion comprised no less than
two-fifths of the entire circumference of the wheel. This large mass of
iron could not have weighed less than fifteen to sixteen cwt.

On the following day, the 18th, the weather moderated considerably, and
the vessel proceeded, with the help of one wheel only, at the rate of
about four knots an hour. In the meantime, every possible effort was
used to get the broken wheel repaired; and, in the short space of three
days after the accident, the broken portion was got over the vessel's
side with extraordinary labour, and was ultimately secured by bolts in
its original place.

On the 20th, she passed within forty miles of Port Natal, (become so
famous as the place the eminent Dutch farmers, from the Cape Colony,
have attempted to make independent.) But there was little chance of
being able to make the necessary repairs in such a place.

The dangerous condition of the vessel, after the iron plates on both
sides had begun to open, could be concealed from none on board; but, as
long as the weather was moderate, there appeared little doubt of her
being able to reach Delagoa Bay without very great risk of foundering.
On the following day, however, the 21st, the wind again began to
freshen from the north-east, an unusual quarter at that time of the
year. Again the mighty sea arose, and damped the reviving hopes of all,
and the heavy cross swell could be looked on only with deep alarm.

Gradually, the opening in the ship's sides, which hitherto had been
sufficiently limited to cause her to take in but little water, began
to extend itself in an alarming manner. Indeed, it was impossible to
guess where it would stop, or how any efficient means could be adopted
to check it. Both sides were so bad that it was difficult to say which
was worst. The vessel was evidently _working_ amidships, as it is
called; or, in other words, it had not only opened up and down, but was
moving in and out from side to side. Moreover, the weather threatened
to become rather worse than better; and, to add to the difficulty, the
furnace of the larboard boiler was now found to be likewise injured,
and, in fact, could scarcely be used at all. Thus it became more and
more uncertain whether the engines could be kept working, so as to pump
the water out of the hold; to say nothing of urging the vessel along.

Temporary expedients were at once to be resorted to; repairs were
wanted at various parts at the same time, and every hand on board was
now to be occupied day and night in contriving means to keep the vessel
afloat. The heavy sea which, since the change of wind, had met the full
current, and rolled heavily behind the vessel, threatened to break over
her every instant. To provide as well as possible against this danger,
four breadths of stout plank were secured, as strongly as possible,
over the stern and along the quarters, in order to keep the sea out, or
at all events to break its force. So heavy was the sea, that at this
time the main rudder was sometimes completely out of water, and at the
same moment the jib-boom was _under_ it.

In the midst of this, with the hope of relieving the strain, by
diminishing the top weight at the extremities, the aftermost or large
stern gun was with great labour dismounted from its pivot-carriage,
and safely deposited in one of the after coal-bunkers; and the bower
anchors, which had already been brought inboard, were now dragged
further amidships. This eased the ship a little. But gradually as
the day advanced, the wind increased, and hourly the sea became more

An attempt was, however, made on the 22nd to effect a temporary repair
to the ship's sides, which were straining very much. For this purpose,
two or three rivets were cut out on each side of the crack in the
plates, and a portion of a new iron plate was with difficulty fixed on
the outside, upon the worst part, and bolted through into a piece of
stout oak plank, placed across it on the inside. The openings had by
this time extended downwards _more than three feet and a half_ on both
sides of the vessel.

They were, at this time, at no great distance from Cape Vidal; but a
tremendous current was setting to the south-west, at the rate of more
than fifty miles a day, and helped to throw up a very heavy, dangerous
sea. At length the morning dawned once more, and, as the day advanced,
the north-east gale had moderated; and gradually it declined, until,
in the afternoon, the wind changed round towards the south-east. The
repairs to the damaged wheel were by this time completed, and although
the injury to the ship's sides was hourly increasing, the hopes of all
on board redoubled as they saw the double power of both wheels once
more at work. But Delagoa Bay, for which they struggled still so hard,
was not less than two hundred miles distant. As night closed in again,
the angry wind began to howl, and burst upon the fated bark in heavy
gusts and squalls. And all around was dark and solemn, as the fate
which seemed again to threaten misery and destruction.

The only sail she now carried was torn away in shreds, and the steam
itself had little power to stand the fury of the winds and waves. At
length it lulled: again she moved, and yet again the mighty storm
increased, and with alternate hopes and fears the morning's dawn
was looked for. She heaved and strained most fearfully, the leaks
increased, the _openings spread_, and yet she floated. 'Twas hoped
that, as the day advanced, the storm would yield; but hour after hour,
as it passed, had brought no sign of change or promise of amendment.
Their danger was at this time imminent; but it became so evident to all
that the only chance of safety lay in using unremitting exertions, and
labouring day and night with hearty good-will, that their very efforts
produced confidence, which, in its turn, redoubled all their strength.
Nevertheless, it seemed as if new dangers were constantly in store.

The leaks continued to increase, her sides strained and opened
fearfully, and the apertures had by this time extended upwards
completely to the deck, and downwards far below the water-line. As the
vessel heaved and rolled from side to side, the broken edges of the
iron plates sometimes opened to the extent of an inch, while their
lateral motion, as the vessel worked, in the part that had bulged, was
frequently not less than _five inches_. As the storm increased, it was
found that in the short space of two and a half hours, and in spite of
every exertion to strengthen the part, the openings on both sides had
further increased in length no less than eighteen inches.

The motion of the vessel, in such a pitching cross sea, was very quick;
and every time the sides opened, the rush of wind and water through
them was terrific. Luckily, the engines were still able to work, and
continued to pump the water out very fast, although the openings were
actually close to the engine-room itself. But the dangerous state of
the vessel was appalling, not only from the fear of her separating
amidships, but from the chance of the bilge-pumps becoming choked, or
the fires being put out by the rush of water.

The struggle was evidently to be one for life or death. She groaned and
worked tremendously, and reports were brought in quick succession from
different parts of the vessel, that she was fast breaking up in pieces.

In this dilemma, it was still necessary to inspire the drooping spirits
of the men with some new exertion. The captain tried to smile, and,
by a cool, collected manner, sought to awaken hope which in secret
he himself could scarcely feel. "You may smile, sir," said one of
the sturdiest of the men, a hardy boiler-maker by trade, "but you
don't know the nature of iron; how should you!" (as if in pity of his
ignorance,) and then added, as if for comfort, "Ah, sir, when once
it works and cracks, as our sides are doing now, it's sure to go on;
nothing can stop it."

However, it was evident that talking about it would not mend the
matter, and all that could be said was, "The greater our danger, the
more must our exertions be increased to counteract it." And increased
they were. Every officer and man set-to again in earnest, to try to
keep the ship together. One party was employed to nail down thick
planks and spars upon the deck, fore and aft, over the broken part
of the ship; others were busy bolting the ends of them into the
sponson-beams, between the paddle-boxes; while another party, engineers
and firemen, were busy strengthening the ship's sides below.

To understand this latter part of the condition of affairs, it must
be explained that, what in a wooden ship would be called the ribs,
are, in an iron one, called the "angle-irons." They are, in fact,
strong angular bars, extending up and down the ship's sides like ribs,
having a flat surface, to which the plates of iron are bolted. These
angle-irons, or ribs, are seventeen inches distant from each other,
and at about the centre, between two of them, the crack had taken
place in the plates of iron. The accident had occurred precisely in
the weakest part of the vessel, amidships; and it would seem probable
that, as there was a heavy cross sea in the Mozambique Channel when
the misfortune happened, the head of the vessel was held firm in
the hollow of one sea at the moment the top of another sea struck
her heavily on the quarter. It made her frame quiver; and her length
and shallowness rendered her the more liable to suffer injury from a
similar blow.[6]

As regards the temporary repairs, it was evident that two contrivances
were necessary for holding the broken plate together in its proper
position. In the first place, small blocks of wood were fixed across
between the angle-irons from one to the other, in such a manner that
they crossed each other like the letter X, and gave support against
the working of the ship, and the tendency of the plates to overlap
each other. Next, strong bolts or bars of iron were passed _through_
the angle-irons from one to the other, and tightened by means of a nut
and screw at their extremities. By these means, the angle-irons, being
now strongly connected together, were made to hold the edges of the
broken plates in contact between them, which, as long as the bolts held
good, would be quite sufficient as a temporary repair. But all these
contrivances were adopted with extreme difficulty, and during a gale of
wind, when all attempts of the kind appeared desperate. Fortunately,
towards morning of the next day, the 26th, the gale slightly moderated;
and these repairs being now completed as well as circumstances would
permit, rendered her in all respects stronger, so that she strained
much less than before.

By this time the land was not far distant, and the hopes of those
who had most despaired revived again. By degrees the haze began to
clear; and now what new sensations crowded in the anxious mind! what
thrills of joyous gratitude, as the straining eye first caught the
doubtful land! The heavy sea had gradually diminished as the Nemesis
approached the coast, and she at length ran into smooth water, near a
bold cape. Never was the sound of the running out of a cable after an
almost hopeless voyage heard with greater joy than on this occasion.
She was now safe at last, and rescued from an almost desperate fate.
Congratulations were mutual; and it may well be said that those who
toil and share their fears and hopes together become more firmly bound
in sympathy and friendship.


[6] The mode in which the permanent repairs were afterwards effected
will be explained in the fifth chapter, together with the method by
which the recurrence of a similar accident has been provided against in
vessels more recently constructed.


The anchorage which the Nemesis had now so providentially reached was
situated close to Cape Inyache, at the entrance of Delagoa Bay. This
settlement, which still belongs to the Portuguese, was once famous
in the annals of slavery, as one of the principal marts in which
that revolting traffic was carried on. It is still far from being
undeserving of the stigma which attaches to its name, although it has
greatly fallen from its once thriving condition. It is situated on the
eastern coast of Africa, (see map,) and at daylight, on the morning of
the 27th July, 1840, the Nemesis steamed into the river which runs into
the bay, and is known by the name of English River.

The Portuguese have a small fort near its entrance, from which the
approach of the steamer was no sooner discovered than a mighty stir
was made. Steamers had scarcely even been heard of, much less seen.
The object of her visit none could guess; but all were conscious
of partaking more or less in both the sins and the profits of the
slave-trade; and, therefore, all regarded the approaching vessel as
no friendly visiter. Guns were made to bear, ammunition was got into
readiness, and everything would have looked very formidable had it not
been fully known that a single shot from the stern gun of the Nemesis
would have made the walls tremble, and the defenders hide themselves.

The Nemesis being uncertain whether her reception would be friendly or
otherwise, slowly passed up beyond the fort, to explore the river, and
great was the surprise of all the lookers-on, to see her move so easily
through water so shallow, that they thought it could scarcely float
one of their smallest slavers. They had little dreamed that so large a
vessel could, if necessary, pursue even the boats of the slavers into
their most secret haunts.

As she again descended and approached the fort, there was evidently
some excitement, as if they doubted what would happen next.

An aide-de-camp soon came on board from the governor of the fort,
to inquire whence the vessel came, and what her object might be in
visiting such an unfrequented place; but neither he nor any one on
board could make each other understood.

On the same day, the captain and some of the officers of the Nemesis
went on shore, to pay their respects to his Excellency, who affected to
be exceedingly glad to see them, and shewed them all possible civility
and attention. This was, no doubt, politic on his part, for he had
every reason to believe that the Nemesis was a man-of-war, and he
also well knew, that had she been so, it would have been a difficult
matter for him to exculpate himself from the charge of openly aiding
and abetting the slave-trade, which was at that very moment being
carried on under his own eyes, and within reach of his own guns. It
was, moreover, sanctioned by the very flag flying at the peak of the
slavers. Yet the same flag was hoisted on the fort itself, under the
stipulations of a treaty, by which its exertions were to be used to
prevent the continuance of the horrid traffic in the river. A slaver
was, in fact, lying in the river, not far from the fort, and, as the
steamer was passing up, it was easily observed that the crew were
deserting her, and trying to make good their escape, leaving their
craft at the mercy of a single boat's crew. But the Nemesis was not a
man-of-war, and had no right to capture her; and it was therefore more
politic not to seem to notice, in the first instance, what was very
apparent to all.

For some time, there was a difficulty in communicating with the
governor at all, no one knowing the language; but, at length, a
Parsee merchant was sent for, who could speak Hindostanee as well
as Portuguese, and as there was also a man on board who could speak
Hindostanee, a regular cross-fire conversation was thus maintained, in
a roundabout manner. One would hardly have expected to find a Parsee
merchant settled in such a remote and unhealthy spot as Delagoa Bay,
under the Portuguese government. But where will not the "auri sacra
fames" tempt mankind to court the smile of Fortune, even with the grin
of Pestilence and Death before them?

As a settlement, Delagoa Bay is of very little use to the Portuguese,
of whom very few reside there; and without the stain of slavery, it
could scarcely linger on. There is, however, a limited trade in ivory
and gold-dust, and the coast is frequented by whalers, particularly
Americans, who come into the settlement for supplies. The narrative of
Captain Owen's survey on the coast gives a melancholy picture of the
deadly nature of the climate, which very few, either of his officers or
his men, were fortunate enough to survive.

The fact of a slaver lying under the guns of the fort, and other little
evidences that the governor was very backward in carrying out the
instructions he had received respecting the slave-trade, went hard with
him afterwards. This case was mentioned to the governor of Mozambique,
under whose jurisdiction Delagoa Bay is placed, and by whom the
deputy-governor is appointed. It will hereafter be seen, that _he_ was,
at all events, sincere and energetic in his efforts to stop the trade.
He became excessively angry when the circumstances were stated to him,
and declared that it was in violation of his most strict and positive
orders, and instantly directed that the deputy-governor should be
removed from his post.

The slaver, which was a fine Portuguese brig, was subsequently visited
by some of the officers of the Nemesis, and found to be regularly
fitted out for the trade, the planks for the slave-deck being all
ready, with boilers for their food, and shackles, &c. Her masts and
spars were large, and of excellent stuff, and advantage was soon taken
of this circumstance, to procure some necessary materials for the

It appeared that there were some excellent timbers lying on the
beach, which had probably belonged to some large ship wrecked in the
neighbourhood. They were precisely such as would best suit the wants of
our vessel; and, as it was stated that they belonged to a Portuguese
merchant in the town, inquiry was at once made about the purchase of
them. Various excuses, however, were made, and unnecessary difficulty
suggested. It was evident that there was a "screw loose" somewhere
or other, or else that they wished to impose an exorbitant price for
them. A message was therefore immediately sent, declaring that if the
timbers were not given up at a fair valuation, _within twenty minutes_,
the captain of the Nemesis "would go on board the slaver with his men,
and take the masts and spars out of _her_, and as they appeared to be
exceedingly good ones, they would answer her purpose rather better."

No talisman could have acted more instantaneously than this well-timed
threat, which, moreover, would certainly have been put in execution.
The whole community, from the governor downwards, were more or less
interested in the affair; the report rapidly reached the master of the
slaver; his alarm was natural enough, and his reasons for urging the
immediate surrender of the timbers sufficiently evident. "Pray give
them anything in the world they want," said he; "let me rather pay for
it a dozen times over, than keep that strange-looking ship here. She
will ruin us altogether; we must get rid of her in any way we can; give
her, by all means, everything she wants, and let her be off, for mercy's

Long before the twenty minutes had expired, the timbers were given up.
The governor himself, on the following day, the 29th of July, sent a
present of some vegetables and ivory on board, and afterwards came in
person to look at the ship, and was, to all appearance, so pleased with
his reception, and doubtless, so well impressed with the appearance of
the vessel, that he stayed to dinner, and did his best to shew himself
a good fellow.

It may here be observed, that the so-called "English River," which
empties itself into the sea at Delagoa Bay, is, in reality, the estuary
of three rivers, called the Temby, the Dundas, and the Mattoll. But
they are none of them of much importance, considered separately,
having their sources at scarcely more than a good day's journey from
the entrance, and forming rather the drains of a rich, alluvial
country, than the outlets of the super-abundant waters of distant
tiers of mountains. They run into the English River at the distance of
little more than five miles above the fort. Their shores are generally
bordered by an extensive muddy flat, gradually rising towards higher
land, covered with large bushes, but which can hardly be said to be
crowned with luxuriant woods. Nothing can be imagined more calculated,
under a tropical sun, to produce the most deadly pestilence. No wonder
that those who have endeavoured to trace up these rivers, for even a
short distance, have so commonly fallen victims to their enthusiasm.

The entrance to English River, from its breadth and general appearance,
leads you to imagine it of greater importance than it really is. Yet
it is not without something of a picturesque character; the sand
hills covered with calabash trees, and the aspect of the village and
Portuguese Fort, tottering though it be, all present a refreshing
picture, when first viewed, after a long and dangerous voyage.

The neighbouring country is divided among different tribes, who are
frequently at war with each other, and over whom the Portuguese
have very little control. Their own factory, or fort, is situated
on the north side of the river, in the country of Mafoomo. But the
most warlike and troublesome of all the tribes are the so-called
Hollontontes, living some distance to the southward, and resembling, or
indeed probably a branch of, the Zooloo Caffirs, of whom we have lately
heard so much in connexion with the unfortunate Dutch emigrant-farmers
at Port Natal. These Hollontontes (probably a corruption from
Hottentots) have, on more than one occasion, made themselves
formidable, even to the Portuguese themselves.

On the 31st, the Nemesis was hauled on shore on the fine sandy beach
near the fort, and, in fact, within range of its guns.

It was on this day that a remarkable phenomenon occurred, which is
here worth mentioning; the more particularly as it was followed at
night and during the subsequent day by a very heavy gale of wind, whose
approach it might, in a manner, be said to have indicated. This was,
in fact, the seventh[7] great plague of Egypt, the plague of locusts,
which filled the atmosphere in myriads, as far as the eye could reach
on every side; and indeed much further, for, during the time it lasted,
the very sky was darkened, and the whole air was filled with a sound as
of "a mighty rushing wind," by the flapping of their wings. You could
scarcely open either your eyes or your mouth, without fear of being
blinded or choked by them.

Fortunately, the visitation did not last long enough to commit
extensive destruction, but it was nevertheless a source of great alarm
and inconvenience. In some parts of China, also, the swarms of locusts
occasionally produce a great deal of mischief, and are very naturally
dreaded, both by the people and the government. But those visitations
are not so severe as this was, during the short time it lasted.[8]

Large quantities of locusts were collected by the natives for food;
and it was a very curious sight, for two or three days afterwards, to
watch the different groups of black men, as nearly naked as possible,
crowding round their fires, with all the eagerness of hunger, and all
the longing of an epicure, to enjoy a feast of locusts. They stripped
off the wings and legs, and having slightly roasted or grilled them,
appeared to find them a capital luxury, even not unworthy of the dance
and song with which they accompanied their repast.


[7] It will be remembered that the plagues were frogs; dust turned to
lice; swarms of flies; the murrain of beasts; the plague of boils and
blanes; the plague of hail, of locusts, and of darkness.

[8] In the account given of the Egyptian plague, it is stated "that
the locusts were brought by an east wind," and were carried away "by
a mighty strong west wind." I was curious to ascertain whether there
was anything worth noting in relation to the state of the wind at
Delagoa Bay when the locusts appeared, and when they were carried away
again. On referring to the ship's log, I find that the day preceding
the appearance of the locusts was one of perfect calm; but the morning
of the day on which they came was ushered in by a north-east wind,
which lasted until the evening, when it changed round to precisely
the opposite quarter--namely, to the south-west, and increased on the
following day to a strong gale from the same quarter, which carried
away all the locusts. Subsequently, it again veered round to the
north-east, and continued so for several days, but brought no more


No time was now lost in commencing the repairs of which the steamer
stood so much in need. It will be remembered, that the structure of
the ship's side has been elsewhere described, and that the angle-irons
are, in fact, the ship's ribs. The split amidships had taken place in
the middle of the iron plate, between the two angle-irons immediately
before the after sponson-beam. It extended downwards full seven feet
from the deck on either side the vessel; and, as the distance from the
deck to the water-line, with a moderate draught of water, is only from
three feet four inches to three feet six inches, it must have extended
under water for about the same distance as it did above. But the whole
_semi_-circumference of the vessel's hull is only about twenty-three
feet and a half. Therefore, as the crack was full seven feet in length
on each side of the ship, there only remained sixteen feet on each side
of the ship's hull, or about two-thirds in all, not separated in two.

In other iron vessels more recently constructed by the same builder,
Mr. Laird, of Birkenhead, it is satisfactory to know that full
provision has been made against the recurrence of any similar
accidents. The Phlegethon, which was afterwards built upon the same
model, has been constructed in such a manner, by the addition of
bulkheads, &c., that not only could there be no apprehension of
the accident, but an almost impossibility of its recurrence. The
accompanying woodcut will explain the improvement.


    Shewing the method of giving additional strength by originally
    building-in the coal-box bulkheads as part of the vessel.

    A Keel.

    B Floorings.

    C Keelsons.

    D Deck beams (iron).

    E Deck.

    F Covering-board, 18ft. by 4in.

    G Longitudinal iron bulkheads, built into the vessel, forming
    the sides of the coal-boxes.

    H Angle-iron stay-beam between.

    I Side frame and coal-box bulkhead.

    N.B.--These bulkheads appear to have remedied the weakness
    complained of in the Nemesis, as the Phlegethon is reported,
    after nearly three years' hard service (including the passage
    round the Cape, when she experienced very bad weather), in as
    good order as when she left England, never having required any
    alteration or strengthening.

The first thing now to be done was evidently to remove the broken iron
plates, and to rivet in new ones in their place. In order to provide
for additional strengthening of the vessel inside, the large timbers
which had been purchased were made use of, as being exactly adapted
for the purpose. Three of these were placed across the angle-irons
against the side of the vessel, the longest and stoutest, which was
twenty-three feet in length, one foot broad, and six inches thick,
being placed highest up, about two to three feet below the deck. This
was secured in its place by bolts, each a foot long, which were run
through the ship's side, one at the centre of the space between each
of the angle-irons. As there would, however, be a space left between
the face of the beam and the side of the vessel, except at those points
where it rested upon the angle-irons, this interval was filled up with
well-seasoned red pine, which added very much to the solidity of the
contrivance. To "make assurance doubly sure," two other beams, of the
same depth and thickness, but not of the same length, and secured in a
similar manner, were also employed. By this means, it is very evident
that the ship was made a vast deal stronger than she ever was before,
though not stronger than was proper for her size and shape. The whole
length of the new plates put in the ship's sides was eight feet two
inches; and so effectually was the work done that the whole of it
remained perfect, stringers and all, at the end of two years and a half
of severe and uninterrupted service.

These contrivances added very little to the weight of the vessel, and
gave it very great support in the weakest part, and just where it was
most required, to enable her to carry coals on deck, &c.


    A The old plate cut away between the angle-iron frames.

    B Part of the old plate left remaining inside the new.

    C Stringers, 1ft. by 6in.; the space under them between the
    angle-irons made solid with wood.

    D Knee.

    E Deck angle-iron.

    F Angle-iron side-frames.

    G Coal-box bulkhead angle-iron.

    H Paddle-beam, of wood, 21 in. by 15.

    N Diagonal bracing of wood between the stringers.

    N.B.--Stringers secured by seven-eighths in.; bolts driven
    through all between each two angle-irons.


    I Deck beam of iron.

    K Flat of deck.

    L Covering board, 12 in. by 4 in.

    M Waist stanchion.

    C Ends of the stringers.

During her detention of twelve days, the Nemesis had been an object of
great curiosity to the native Africans, as well as to the Portuguese
settlers. The chiefs of some of the tribes were occasionally allowed to
look at the vessel, and expressed the greatest possible astonishment at
what they saw. It happened to be just the time of year when the king
of one of the tribes most friendly to the Portuguese (probably, as it
appeared, because they have large dealings together in slaves) usually
came down from his own country, about thirty miles distant, to pay his
annual visit to the Portuguese governor. On these occasions, there is
a vast attempt on both sides to appear very friendly to each other,
with precisely that degree of sincerity which, as a _minimum_, is
indispensable to the advantageous barter of slaves and ivory for iron
and spirits, or occasionally gold-dust for various trifling articles,
which in the eyes of a savage possess inestimable value.

There appears, in general, to be very little good feeling existing
between the native tribes and the Portuguese. The former look upon
the latter with some degree of dread, arising from the injuries which
they have at various times received at their hands; and the latter
regard the former merely as degraded savages, fit for little else than
the speculations of the slave trade. On both sides there is a degree
of mistrust, arising from the debasing tendency which such a traffic
necessarily exercises upon all concerned in it. In Captain Owens
narrative, an instance is related of the most savage cruelty, exercised
by Portuguese Christians upon a few unarmed and oppressed natives
who fell into their hands, which it is impossible to read without

On the present occasion, the native chief who came to do honour to the
governor was a decrepit old man, nearly seventy years of age, attended
by about seven hundred or eight hundred of his most doughty warriors,
partially clothed in skins, and ornamented with ostrich-feathers stuck
in their heads. He himself, as being a very great man, was clothed in a
loose sort of dressing-gown, with a red nightcap on his head, a present
from the governor himself. Every man had three spears of different
sizes, probably to be thrown at different distances, together with a
stout club and shield; and in the use of these weapons they exhibited
great dexterity.

The governor had invited Captain Hall and his officers to witness the
performance of their war-dance, which was, in reality, as savage an
exhibition as it was possible to conceive.

As evening advanced, the attendants of the old chief were called upon
to drink the governor's health, out of a large _tub-full_ of rum; and,
in order to ensure fair play, a corporal stood by with a stout cane
in his hand, with which he most courageously belaboured all those who
shewed an uncivilized disposition for helping themselves to more than
their share. But the passions of the savage are not so easily to be
subdued; and, if the mere sight and smell of the liquor had warmed them
up into something like a quarrelsome mood, what was to be expected
from the actual taste and fire of it? Words ran high, and all the
threatening gestures of the excited savage promised even bloodshed;
until, at length, the corporal's stick being insufficient to allay
the disturbance, he very quietly upset the whole remaining contents
of the tub, and soon dispersed the mighty men-of-war, in apparent

The negro tribes of these parts adopt the practice of tattooing their
faces, but not in that peculiarly neat and regular manner for which the
New Zealanders are distinguished. It is here more like a rude system
of notching the skin, as if done rather to shew how manfully they can
endure pain, than as a mere ornamental art.

A more sensible practice among some of the tribes about Delagoa Bay,
is that of shaving a large portion of the thick wool off their heads,
tending greatly to cleanliness in a tropical country. Occasionally it
is trimmed into some fanciful shape, like the old yew-trees in some of
our English villages, which stand forth as curious specimens of nature
improved; while, again, the natives on some parts of the Madagascar
coast, generally stout, athletic men, divide their hair into little
tufts all over the head, each of which is frequently tied round the
roots, and thus made to stand out on all sides in little knobs, giving
a very singular appearance to the head, more particularly when they are
seen working side by side, as I have often witnessed at the Mauritius,
with close-shaved Indian or Chinese labourers.

As the king above-mentioned and his followers had come from a
considerable distance, and were reported to possess great influence
among their neighbours, it was thought a good opportunity both to
impress them with a knowledge of our power, and to conciliate them
by a show of our good-nature. There was the more reason for this, in
consequence of pretty certain evidence having been obtained that the
crew of an American trading-vessel, which had been wrecked on the coast
not long before, had been most barbarously treated by the tribe into
whose hands they fell. As such a misfortune might again happen, it
was thought a good opportunity to make an impression upon the native
tribes, which was sure to be communicated from one to the other, by
means of the old king and his adherents. Accordingly, the old man (who
was called Appelli by the Portuguese) was one day invited to go on
board the Nemesis, with one or two of his attendants. The vessel had by
this time been got nearly ready for sea, and on this occasion, in order
to produce greater effect upon all the lookers-on, was dressed out with
her flags, and, being newly-painted, presented a very gay appearance.
A Portuguese merchant accompanied the veteran chief to the ship as
interpreter, and, rather unexpectedly, several women also came off with
him, dressed in showy colours, and impelled, perhaps, as much by the
flattering thought that they would quite astonish the white man, as by
the mere feeling of curiosity.

The moment the king put his foot upon the deck, the single fife and
drum which was on board set up "God save the king!" and the old man
appeared well pleased both with the tune and the attention. After
this, a particularly ugly, repulsive-looking fellow, who turned out
to be the king's fool, though as old as the king himself, set up a
most discordant note of admiration upon three reeds which he held in
his hand, something after the manner of pan-pipes. At intervals he
treated you to a sort of explanatory text of his own, in the shape of
a few uncouth words, yelled out in a manner particularly edifying to
all _except_ those in whose honour it is supposed they were especially
poured forth. His appearance was rendered more uncouth by a large
bag tied under his chin, for what purpose was not very evident, but
probably to contain either his charms or his tobacco.

The queen herself had also accompanied her lord upon this occasion, and
exhibited no fear, and certainly no beauty. Picture to yourself a young
sable queen, a capital caricature of one of the Egyptian statues in
black marble, plump and shiny as her prototype, only less expressive.
Then invest her in your imagination with sundry huge scars about her
cheek and nose; not those delicate lines and graceful curves which
decorate the upper lip of royalty among New Zealand tribes, but regular
lumps, squeezed up and dried, as it were into large warts, particularly
about the nose, as if a race of gigantic musquitoes had held a feast

However, to do justice to the lady's rank, if not to her looks, Captain
Hall thought proper to shew her due attention, and, accordingly, a
glass of wine was offered to her, as well as to her lord. The old
man, though at first suspicious, like all half-savages, very gladly
swallowed it, as soon as one of the officers had tasted it first.
But for the queen wine was not good enough; rum was the nectar for
her--_that_ was the soul-stirring influence which could bend her pride,
and warm her heart to gentleness.

Having by these means warmed the royal pair to good humour, the next
thing was to bewilder them with astonishment. This was not difficult.
They were requested to examine the ship's side, and to assure
themselves that she was made entirely of iron. A loud Heugh! was their
exclamation. To them it seemed a boundless mine of wealth, that mass
of precious stuff, to purchase which was all their ambition. They were
calculating in their own minds how many thousands and tens of thousands
of slaves they would have to procure, before they could be able to
obtain so much of the valued metal. But, when the engine was shewn
to them, with all its polished bars, and massive parts, and its uses
partly explained through the interpreter, their astonishment knew no

Before the chief's departure, great care was taken to explain to him
the barbarous cruelties which had been committed upon the shipwrecked
seamen by some of the tribes on the coast. He declared that he had
never heard of the occurrence, and affected to be very much horrified
at it. He was made to understand that he was to communicate to all the
people of his tribe, as well as to all others whom he might fall in
with, that, if ever any injury were done to any white men when driven
upon any part of the coast, an iron vessel, even more terrible than
the one he was then in, would be sent to punish the people. On the
contrary, if he conducted himself peaceably, and treated white men well
on all occasions, he would be considered the friend of the English, and
of all other white men. He was also to make it publicly known wherever
he went, that white men were always to be treated kindly when in
distress. This he promised to do, with every appearance of sincerity,
and upon the whole shewed more intelligence than might have been

In consideration of the king's promises, and in order the more fully
to gain his influence, a present was made to him, the most valuable
he could have received--namely, a musket and bayonet, with its
accoutrements. His surprise and delight were beyond all bounds; he
almost seemed to get young again with pleasure as he grasped the
precious weapon in his hands. On leaving the vessel, he insisted on
shaking hands with almost every one on board.

On the following day, he returned again to the ship in high glee,
bringing with him his own spear and shield, with other implements of
war and of the chase, which he laid at the captain's feet, as the most
valuable presents he could offer to a "faithful ally."


The circumstances relating to the distressed seamen on the coast,
alluded to in the foregoing chapter, were first stated by one of the
unfortunate sufferers himself, who accosted, in very good English, some
of the officers of the Nemesis, as they were returning to their ship,
and soon proved himself to have belonged to an American vessel, but
stated that he was a native of Hanover. His name was Samuel Reid, or
something very much like it. His right eye and lower jaw appeared to
have been dreadfully wounded, and gave a practical introduction to the
following tale, every part of which there is too much reason to believe
is strictly true.

It appears that an American schooner, called the Colonel Crockett, of
one hundred and forty tons, belonging to Newburgh, U. S., sailed from
New York in the summer of 1839, bound on a voyage to the West Coast of
Africa, to procure bullocks for salting, principally for the St. Helena
market. She subsequently, also, proceeded to Madagascar, and touched at
Delagoa Bay, on her way to Inhampura River, high up on the east coast,
to trade for ivory. There she remained three weeks, without being able
to accomplish her object. In working out of it again, in May, 1840, she
missed stays, and went on shore on the sand at the river's mouth. They
tried in vain to get the vessel off on the following day, there not
being enough men fit for work, as all, except three out of eleven, were
sick with fever. There she lay, nearly high and dry. It seems they had
only one boat remaining, which was too small to contain all the people,
and, therefore, it was agreed that the captain and second mate, (Samuel
Reid,) with two men, should start off in her, and try to reach Delagoa
Bay, which was only about seventy miles distant, where they were to
procure a larger boat and other assistance, and then return to bring
away the remainder of the crew, and whatever could be saved from the

Unfortunately, they found the surf beating over the bar at the mouth
of the Inhampura so heavily, that they could not succeed in getting
the boat out. In this predicament, the captain and second mate
volunteered to set out together, to try to reach Delagoa Bay by land--a
most hazardous experiment under any circumstances, with the dangers
of the fatal fevers, and the treachery of the savage native tribes,
staring them in the face. The attempt was, in fact, almost hopeless.
Nevertheless, on the morning of the 9th of May, 1840, they landed
from the vessel, totally unarmed, thinking, probably, that it would
be both useless and laborious for two men to carry arms which they
could scarcely use for more than one or two discharges, owing to the
difficulty of carrying ammunition.

They proceeded for about twenty to twenty-five miles on that day,
without molestation, but were at length joined by three natives, one of
whom left them, under the pretence of going to procure water, while the
other two lighted a fire, and began to roast some corn, of which they
all partook equally. In the meantime, the native who had been absent
returned, bringing with him seven others.

The captain, being anxious to make the most of his time, determined to
proceed, although the day was fast declining. But, in order to relieve
themselves from the weight of their bags of clothes which they had
each brought with them, they entrusted them to the care of the natives
who followed. On arriving at the bottom of a steep hill, where there
was a picturesque valley, they all halted for the night, and soon made
a capital fire. As might have been expected, the curiosity of the
natives, to say nothing of their treacherous disposition, could not
withstand the temptation of looking into the bags they had carried,
to examine their contents. This was resisted by the captain, who was
rather a hasty man; a scuffle ensued, and thus the opportunity the
natives sought for was at once afforded them.

Their intentions might have been foreseen the moment the man left
the party, ostensibly to look for water, but in reality to look for
assistance. And although a natural dread of the white man had hitherto
prevented them from openly commencing their attack--waiting, probably,
for a more favourable opportunity at nightfall--a quarrel having once
arisen, however trifling, their savage blood was roused, and all their
bad feelings awakened. They immediately rose in a body, and made a
general discharge of their spears at the two unhappy white men. The
captain faced them boldly, and soon received several severe wounds in
front, and at last tried to save himself by flight. But, wounded as he
was, they soon overtook him, and struck him down, it is to be hoped,
quite dead, although even that does not appear certain.

The mate, on the other hand, who stood sideways to receive the
discharge of spears, presenting a narrower surface than in front, was
wounded with two spears in the right arm, and one in the neighbourhood
of the right eye, and, having picked up one of them, made a furious
charge at those who were nearest to him, and killed two of the savages
on the spot. Numbers, however, necessarily prevailed over the most
desperate courage, and he was at last struck down by a heavy blow
of a club over the head, and, being senseless, was considered dead.
They now dragged him towards the fire, as he afterwards found, and
must have struck him several heavy blows upon different parts of the
body. On coming to himself again, he found that he was stripped of
all his clothes, lying naked upon the sand, and so exhausted that he
could neither speak nor move. Gradually, however, becoming sensible
of his helpless situation, he looked around him, from time to time,
unobserved; and, at length, to his great horror, discovered the body
of his unfortunate captain lying by the side of the fire, and several
natives standing around it, some of whom were busy cutting off slices
from the fleshy parts of the body, while others roasted them in the
fire, with all the appearance of anxious longing for the feast!

Can any situation be conceived more horrible at this moment than that
of the unfortunate wounded man? If he betrayed symptoms of life, he
was sure to be beaten with heavy clubs to death; if he lay quiet, to
all appearance lifeless, it was far from improbable that, when they
should have become satiated with the flesh of his companion, they might
be ready to commence their butchery upon himself. Who can picture to
himself without horror the dreadful moments which lingered as they
passed, and seemed endless in the anxiety of suspense! There the poor
fellow lay, in speechless agony, the fated witness of barbarity the
most revolting.

At length, having gorged themselves with that horrible repast in the
peculiar manner which those who have ever seen the hungry savage at
his meal can never forget, they fell asleep round the fire, under the
full oppression of repletion. The poor mate, perceiving this, made a
desperate effort to rouse himself from his death-like dreaminess, and
try to fly from his impending fate, he knew not how or whither. He
could not stand, he could not walk, and almost feinted with the effort;
yet he crawled on hands and knees towards the neighbouring bush or
thicket, and there contrived to hide himself.

He lay concealed, in helplessness, until the following day, when he
was discovered by the restless eye of the suspicious savage. He asked,
by signs, for water; but not only was that refused to him, but he was
given to understand, without difficulty, that they looked forward to
the pleasure of eating him for their evening meal with particular
satisfaction; and a sort of rude table was pointed out to him, upon
which they intended to cut him up for their repast, according to their
most approved fashion. After this, they left him alone in his misery.
It should be mentioned, that when they refused him drink, they _did_
give him a little food, which they _forced_ him to eat, and--horrible
to think of!--it was not improbably a part of his murdered companion,
upon which they had regaled themselves the evening before.

As night approached, the man, finding himself somewhat recovered from
the shock of his wounds, made another desperate effort to escape. He
could now walk; and slowly and cautiously he pursued his way, tracing
back his course with the almost unerring instinct which the resolution
of despair awakens. The darkness of the night favoured him; and, by
sometimes diving into the wood for concealment, sometimes resting in
the darkest part of the thicket to collect his failing strength, and
then again boldly urging on his course along the more open beach by the
sea-side, he at length eluded all his pursuers. They had followed him,
for some distance, in vain; and he safely reached, on the following
day, the schooner he had left, completely exhausted and helpless.

Here he found that, even during his short absence, death had done its
work among his messmates on board. Finding that there was no hope of
procuring relief on shore, another attempt was made to get the boat
over the bar--and with success. In this the chief mate, with two
other men, embarked, in the hope of being able to make their passage
along the coast of Delagoa Bay. The attempt fortunately succeeded;
and, at the end of five days, a large boat was descried approaching
the wreck, which had been hired by their comrades from the Portuguese
authorities for two hundred dollars, for the purpose of bringing them
off. But their troubles were not yet destined to end. A heavy sea
still continued to beat upon the bar, creating such a surf that they
were compelled to wait at least fourteen days more before they could
leave the schooner. Happily, they were at length able to embark; and,
carrying with them the most portable articles of value they could stow
away, they ultimately succeeded in reaching Delagoa Bay.

It has more than once been suspected that some of the tribes on the
eastern coast of Africa were cannibals, under certain circumstances:
but others again, and Captain Owen among the number, have declared
that, "on inquiry, even their greatest enemies acquitted them of the
suspicion." There does not, however, appear to be any well-grounded
reason for calling in question the truth of the statement made by this
unfortunate man, Reid. His tale was told to Captain Hall with every
appearance of truth; and, although it might be suggested that the man
was not unlikely to have been in a state of dreamy delirium, after
the wounds and blows he had received upon the head, and might have
been led by fear to imagine what he pictured to himself to be true,
still this is a very unsatisfactory answer to a simple tale of facts,
artlessly told, and without any object to be gained by inventing a case
of horror. Besides which, he could hardly have found his way back to
the schooner without assistance, had he not perfectly recovered his
senses before he started.

Two of the unfortunate men entered as able seamen on board the Nemesis,
with liberty to be discharged when they pleased, and continued on board
until she arrived at Singapore; but the second mate preferred waiting
for any American vessel that might touch at the settlement.

It may seem that I have dwelt long upon the subjects of interest
connected with the stay of the Nemesis at Delagoa Bay; but, in reality,
it is a part of the coast of Africa little known to the general
reader, and as the vessel was detained there for a considerable time,
many objects of interest were noticed and remembered. I have before
mentioned that the Portuguese have been very far from advancing the
civilization of the natives. There is certainly no love for each other
between them; and the debasing influences of the slave-trade seem
universally to poison the heart, and destroy all the sympathies of our

One poor native woman was discovered who spoke English tolerably well,
and was found to have been extremely useful as interpreter to all the
English and American vessels, whalers, and others, which touched there
for supplies. For what particular reason does not appear, but this
woman had been strictly forbidden by the governor to go on board the
Nemesis, under pain of the severest punishment; indeed, she had been
kept in close confinement nearly ever since the arrival of the vessel.
But, at length, when an American whaler came into the bay, she was
allowed to visit _that ship_ as usual. There was something peculiarly
artless and good-natured about the poor woman's manner, and she
expressed a particular wish to be allowed to see some person from the
English ship. Word was accordingly brought from the American captain to
that effect.

Her tale was a remarkable one, and told with considerable intelligence.
She expressed her attachment to the English in strong terms, enumerated
the various kindnesses she had received from them, inquired after
particular ships and individuals, and seemed to remember almost every
trifling incident that had occurred. She was greatly afraid of being
punished by the governor for having dared to talk to the English,
but could assign no particular grounds for the harsh treatment she
received. It was, however, shrewdly suspected that it arose from fear
that she might furnish information about the slave-trade, and that, in
fact, her remarks might already have been very useful to the English
cruisers, and, consequently, injurious to the Portuguese dealers.
It has been before stated that the governor himself was not free
from the suspicion of countenancing the traffic; and, taking all the
circumstances together, it became pretty evident that this poor woman's
treatment was only one of the links in the chain of turpitude forged
out of the iron rod of slavery.

For the first time since the arrival of the Nemesis, some of her
officers were now able to leave the ship for a day, and make an
interesting excursion up the river. They started early in the morning,
accompanied by a Portuguese merchant and his servant. It being now the
least unhealthy season of the year, there was little or no danger to be
apprehended from sickness, particularly as it was not their intention
to remain out at night.

It has already been noticed that the English River, is, in fact, formed
by the united waters of three rivers, at the distance of only five or
six miles from the fort, the largest being the Temby, to the southward,
and the smallest the Dundas, to the westward, while the Mattoll runs
up towards the northward. The Dundas was the one chosen on the present
excursion, as there was good expectation of finding large herds of
hippopotami upon its banks, and perhaps other wild animals, which would
furnish a capital day's sport. The banks of the river were low, and
the stream sluggish, and on all sides abundance of mangrove shrubs and
bushes, sufficient of themselves to indicate that the country must
frequently be flooded. Birds of various kinds, particularly such as
feed upon small fish and worms, were seen in great numbers, curlews and
crows, and occasionally a pelican, with wild geese and pigeons, and now
and then birds of more beautiful plumage.

As the boat ascended, four wild buffaloes were seen at a distance, and
a beautiful zebra was descried, galloping away from the river-side. But
the most striking objects were the numerous hippopotami, in the midst
of whose favourite haunts they now found themselves. A more curious
or exciting scene can scarcely be imagined; and when it was resolved
to continue the ascent, in the hope of having some fine sport, the
Portuguese merchant was so alarmed, that he very humbly requested that
he might be left behind. The strange animals opened their huge mouths,
and bellowed forth a sound something like the roar of an ox in concert
with the grunt of a wild boar, with a little accompaniment of the
braying of an ass. They did not at first seem frightened, but shewed
their formidable-looking teeth, as if they had some right to frighten
others. Hundreds of them started up at different times, some rising
from the shallow mud in which they had been lying, and hastening off
with a quick, heavy tread; others, again, just raising their heads up
from the deeper parts of the river, and diving again like porpoises.
Several of them were fired at and wounded, upon which they dived
instantly out of sight, without rising again. Indeed, they are hardly
ever killed in such a way as to be taken on the spot at once; but,
dying under water, the carcase of course rises to the surface after two
or three days, and is then taken possession of by the natives. Their
flesh is eaten with great avidity in times of scarcity; but, generally
speaking, they are more valued for the beautiful ivory of their teeth,
which are collected and bartered for various articles of European

Several natives were seen paddling about the river in their little
canoes, apparently without any fear of the hippopotami, and one party
of them was spoken to, and appeared harmless and contented; but their
invitation to land and look at the country was not accepted, as
there was little time to spare, and their treacherous character was
sufficiently known to make it imprudent to divide a small party into
still smaller ones. They, however, explained very intelligibly the
mode in which they contrived to kill the hippopotami--viz., sometimes
by making a regular charge at some of them, singled out on purpose,
with their spears. To effect this, they go in large numbers together,
but the expedition is attended with considerable danger, and rarely
resorted to, except in times of dearth. A more common method is to lay
traps of various kinds for them, either upon the banks of the river
itself, or among the neighbouring trees, a party being constantly at
hand, in concealment, to despatch them at the last moment.

The whole distance ascended, from the junction of the Dundas with the
English River was about seven or eight miles, when the water became
so shallow that the boats could scarcely proceed. Towards evening,
therefore, they again descended with the ebb-tide, having the full
light of the moon to guide them down to their ship, after a laborious
but very agreeable day, which fully repaid them by the interesting
objects which presented themselves to their notice.

Their last day had now arrived; and, with a view to shew them every
possible attention, as well as to conciliate their good offices,
the governor invited Captain Hall and his officers to a grand
entertainment, on which occasion all the delicacies of the African
coast had been sought out to do honour to the guests, and nothing was
omitted which could contribute to the novelty and perfection of the

The exterior of the governor's residence was something like a
good-sized English cottage, consisting of only one floor, as is
commonly the case in hot countries, and having two white pillars in
front, which supported a portion of the roof, serving at the same time
for a verandah. It was ornamented with green branches for the occasion,
affording a very necessary protection from the glare of the sun, which
was still high and powerful. There were several other smaller cottages
disposed around it, something in the form of a square, but not a single
tree or other relieving object to soften the burning reflection from
the deep sand which formed the site of the fort and of the governor's

The dinner went off with great éclat, and no little amusement at the
original attempts of the black waiters (of course slaves) to vie with
European refinement. Towards evening, when tea had at length been
handed round, the entertainment was concluded with, "for the last
time of performance," a dance of the native women belonging to the
neighbouring village. The whole affair lasted for about an hour, when,
glad to escape the heat and noise, the officers returned to their ship.

Little further remains to be said of Delagoa Bay, though many
interesting facts might have been elicited in relation to the
slave-trade, had the Nemesis remained there longer. It appears very
evident that formerly the trade was carried on with greater atrocity
than at present, but enough is still known respecting it to make us
look upon the natives themselves as the worst abettors of the traffic.
The passions of the savage chiefs seem only to be withheld for a
moment, not suppressed, by the difficulty of procuring slaves; and when
they can neither find enemies to seize, nor _culprits to condemn_, they
sometimes send a sort of marauding expedition to seize by treachery
_their own people_, and sell them into slavery. It is stated by Captain
Owen, that, within even a few years, under a former commandant, some of
the chiefs had been persuaded to sell their harmless subjects for so
trifling a sum as a dollar and a half each, or about seven shillings,
to be paid, not in money, but in merchandize of trifling value, and
that several cargoes had been obtained in this way for the Brazilian

If we look for the most thriving mart for slaves upon the east coast of
Africa at the present time, we shall find it at the river Quillimane,
a little more than five hundred miles to the north of Delagoa Bay. It
lies about midway between that settlement and Mozambique. There the
slaves are purchased for coarse cloth, gunpowder, beads, cutlery, &c.;
and the "arrival of one of the little traders, with his pedler-kind
of stock, among one of the native tribes in the interior, becomes the
signal for general warfare, in which the weak become the victims of
the strong." A few years ago, no less than five thousand slaves were
annually exported, from this mart alone, to Rio Janeiro.

It is indeed astonishing that a place so unhealthy in itself as
Quillimane should be able to keep up its constant supply of human
export. The soil and the very air are no less pestilential than the
traffic which debases it; but the effects of the demand are felt far
and wide, and, hundreds of miles in the interior, the slave hunt, as
it may be called, is carried on; and the ramifications of this odious
traffic spread themselves like the branches of the upas-tree, not
merely poisoning all within its shade, but becoming more and more
infectious as it branches out further from the root.


All preparations being at length completed, on the morning of the 17th
of August, just twenty days after having so providentially succeeded
in reaching her port of refuge, the Nemesis was once more ready to
continue her voyage.

On the 22nd August, she passed near the group of Rocky Islands, called
Bassa da India, which are situated nearly in the middle of the channel,
and pursued her voyage under sail. Of course, her progress was slow
against an adverse wind, and no little anxiety was felt by her captain,
on account of the uncertainty of the compasses, and their discrepancy
with each other. She arrived, however, safely at Mozambique on the
afternoon of the 31st, without having had occasion to use her engines,
except just to carry her into the anchorage.

As she passed through the outer roads, she communicated with H.M. brig
Acorn, Captain Adams, which was on the look-out for two slavers daily
expected to arrive for cargoes; and, the better to entrap them, she had
hoisted a sort of decoy-flag at her main, which she had already taken
from one of the same description. While a short visit was being paid on
board, a pilot had come off from the shore, to conduct the Nemesis into
the inner harbour, where she was soon brought to within a quarter of a
mile of the town. Little time, however, could be spared for the visit,
but there was still some necessary work to be done on board, which
could not be completed until the following day.

As the errors of the compasses have been alluded to above, and seem
to have occasioned very great anxiety upon this passage, it may be
well to make some remarks about them again in this place. It will be
remembered, that before leaving Liverpool a long series of experiments
had been made, which were intended to provide means of counteracting
the local action of the iron of the ship's hull upon the compasses.
But no worse place can be imagined than a crowded dock for the purpose
of carrying on experiments of such nicety. Disturbing causes were
continually operating, and the accident she met with on her way to
Portsmouth proved that the correctness of the compasses was very far
from being satisfactory. The experiments which were afterwards made at
Portsmouth were also very doubtful in their result, in all probability
owing, as before explained, to the absence of the boxes of chain or
broken iron, which are always used by Professor Airy. It may readily
be imagined that the utmost anxiety was always felt on board the vessel
on this account, particularly when near the land; and many a long and
anxious night has been spent on deck, with frequently a leadsman upon
each of the paddle-boxes, to take soundings, and one in the bowsprit

The large magnets, as originally placed in their positions, have never
been moved, neither has the compass been changed in the slightest
degree. But although they have greatly _modified_ the errors, they have
by no means sufficed to correct them. It has been always found the
safest course not to put faith in the compasses at all; or rather, in
this instance, observation showed that a compass, suspended in a box
from a cross spar, at the height of ten or twelve feet above the head
of the man at the helm, acted with much more accuracy than any other,
and it was always the most relied on whenever it could be used.

It is scarcely to be doubted that the vessel has often made a longer
passage than she would have done had the compasses been correct; for,
in bad weather, when observations of the celestial bodies could not
be taken, she could scarcely have avoided making many errors in her
course. But nowhere were these difficulties felt more anxiously than
in this passage through the Mozambique Channel, where land could never
be very far distant. The necessity for a constant good look-out, and
for two or even three men in the chains, produced anxiety and fatigue
in itself; while it was also necessary for the officers to have the
advantage of taking the altitudes of the stars, whenever the night
was clear enough, not only once, but many times during the night.
The compasses not only differed from the true points, but differed
also from each other; and particularly in the Mozambique Channel, it
was observed that they differed more than elsewhere, without being
influenced however by the rapid atmospheric changes which prevailed.
The more the ship's course was directed towards the true pole, the less
was the error of the compass; but gradually, as her course was changed
towards the east or west, so did the errors and discrepancies of the
compasses increase.

It is satisfactory to know that the same degree of difficulty was
not experienced on board the other iron steamers which were sent out
afterwards; and as the Nemesis was the first of her class that ever
made the voyage, it is right here to record the difficulties she
encountered under this head. Many an anxious watch has been spent on
deck, trying to catch the altitude of particular stars as they emerged,
for a moment, from the dense clouds or haze; and much of this kind of
labour, so frequently repeated, would have been saved had her compasses
been trustworthy.[9]

It is now time to return to the anchorage at Mozambique, where we left
the Nemesis. Of course as she passed the principal Portuguese fort, she
fired a salute, which was returned, and immediately became the signal
to the whole town that something uncommon was to be expected. The
arrival of a large steamer was soon made known in every direction, and
not only became a source of curiosity to all, but an object of great
alarm to many. The first impression was that she was sent purposely
to put an end to the slave-trade at that place, and the consternation
became general; for the governor, of whom more will presently be said,
at once encouraged this opinion, which he felt would strengthen his
power, as it did his determination, which was proved to be perfectly
sincere, to do his utmost to stop the trade. Those most interested in
the traffic had already begun openly to defy his power, and had not
hesitated to declare to him that they would still carry it on in some
of the shallow rivers, where vessels of war could not approach them.
But the sight of a large steamer, running along close in shore, almost
as if she were a small boat, drawing at the same time only five feet
and a half of water, at once damped their ardour. They never could
have dreamed that a large heavily-armed vessel could move wherever
she pleased through their smallest streams; and their alarm was
proportioned to their surprise.

Shortly before this, there had been so strong a disposition to resist
the governor's power, that it had amounted almost to a rebellion;
and his Excellency, though a bold man, and the first governor of the
Portuguese possessions on that coast, who had come with the honest
determination to stop the trade at all hazards, felt himself in a
very awkward position. He, however, felt himself strong enough to
take extreme measures, the moment he saw the steamer so close to the
town. He afterwards admitted that her arrival was most opportune,
and so pleased was he, at the same time, that he turned at once upon
the slave-dealers; even that very day he seized two large slavers,
condemned them at once, and publicly sold them by auction before the
day was over. Such vigorous measures had been quite unknown under any
former governor, and at once proved, both to the Portuguese and to the
world, that his professions were real, and that he meant to keep his
word. He had before this taken strong measures against the dealers in
slaves, but this bold step was the finishing stroke of his policy, and
at once filled all parties with dismay. In fact, trade of all kinds was
stagnant for the moment, in consequence of the measures adopted; and
large heaps of valuable ivory were lying there useless, in consequence
of the impossibility, or, at all events, extreme hazard, of sending the
usual slave-ships to sea, which would convey it to a market.

The governor is a brigadier-general in the Portuguese service, by name
Joachim Pereira Morinho, and had formerly served under the Duke of
Wellington in the Peninsula. He had not been long on the coast; but,
as he had come with a full determination to destroy the slave-trade,
or, at all events, to do his utmost towards it, he had already been
long enough there to gain the ill-will of all the Portuguese residents.
Indeed, he did not live altogether in security from violence, arising
from the vindictive feelings of those interested in the traffic; and he
had, therefore, requested Captain Adams, in the Acorn, to remain there
as long as he could, to afford him protection; and had also detained a
small brig-of-war, belonging to his own country, named the Villa Flora,
to overawe the sea-faring part of the population.

The governor seemed to entertain the best feelings towards the English
generally, with whom he had associated a good deal, and particularly
inquired what assistance he could give to the Nemesis. As fuel and
vegetables were, of course, most in request, they were mentioned. He
appeared quite pleased to have it in his power to furnish something
that would be of use to her; and, to the gratification of every one, a
large boat came off to the ship early in the morning, bringing a fat
ox, four sheep, a large pig, and some vegetables and fruit; besides
which, there was also a large country boat, full of wood, containing
eight thousand pieces. In addition to these very handsome presents, he
also proposed to fill up the ship's water free of expense. This was
accompanied by a note, in Portuguese, from the secretary-general of
the province, Don Antonio Julio di Castro Pinto, of high degree and
higher-sounding name, who was charged by his Excellency to offer the
good things above-mentioned, "as a mark of his good-will, and of his
sense of the service which the visit of the Nemesis would render to the
cause of anti-slavery, and, at the same time, as a trifling present to
a brother in arms from an old soldier, grown grey in the service of his
country, both at home and abroad."

Nothing could have been more acceptable, and, through the active
assistance which the Nemesis received, she was enabled to proceed on
her voyage, after little more than a day's delay. As an acknowledgment
of his Excellency's attention, a trifling present of some capital
hollands, preserved salmon, and English pickles, were sent to him,
which were very great luxuries in that part of the world, and appeared
to be duly appreciated. His Excellency had never before seen a steamer
in those parts; and, the better to acknowledge his good-nature, and
increase the sensation her arrival had produced on shore, he was
invited by Captain Hall, to come on board to look at the ship, and to
partake of such refreshment as she had to offer. This was, accordingly,
a grand day for all parties, and the 1st of September, 1840, will, on
many accounts, be long remembered at Mozambique.

His Excellency came on board in his state-barge, attended by all his
suite, in full uniform, under a salute from the batteries and the
Portuguese brig-of-war, while crowds of spectators stood upon every
point on shore, whence a good view could be obtained. The deck of
the Nemesis, though rather crowded with visitors, presented a gay
appearance, from the variety of uniforms and foreign orders, which all
those who were entitled to them, not few in number, displayed upon the

Sufficient time having been spent in viewing the ship and inspecting
the machinery, which few of them had ever seen before, the whole party
sat down to a grand _déjeûner à la fourchette_. Now, it may seem that
a trifling incident of this sort could have no possible connexion with
the suppression of the slave-trade; and, moreover, this latter question
has been more frequently discussed at tea-drinking parties among
benevolent ladies, than at champagne luncheons among the redoubtable
sons of Mars. Yet the impression which a thing makes is often of more
consequence than might otherwise be anticipated from the trifling
nature of the thing itself.

The healths of the Queens of England and of Portugal were drank with
three times three, followed immediately by a salute of twenty-one
guns, both from the steamer and the Portuguese brig. The effect of
this upon the inhabitants was by no means unimportant; it impressed
them more than ever with the conviction, that the governments of the
two countries were perfectly united in their determination to suppress
the slave-trade; and the sound of the royal salutes ringing in their
ears, completely put an end, for the moment certainly, to all their
inclinations to resist the governor's authority.

In proof of his determination to do his utmost to suppress the
slave-trade, General Morinho had already ordered one of the
deputy-governors to be brought up to Mozambique, to be tried by
court-martial for disobedience of orders, in permitting the trade
under his own eyes; and, it has already been mentioned, that, from
the information which was given by the Nemesis, of the slave-brig at
Delagoa Bay, lying under the very guns of the fort, the governor of
that settlement was also to be sent for.

That no attention might be omitted, after the great kindness his
Excellency had shown to all on board, he and his party were steamed
some way up the river, to show them the capabilities of the vessel;
thousands of boats crowded round her in all directions, while the
house-tops, the fort, the beach, and all the ships in port, were
covered with people anxious to see the greatest novelty the place had
ever been witness to--the first steamer, moving with rapidity about
their fine harbour, and in whatever direction she pleased.

A few words may not be out of place concerning the position of
Mozambique, and its eligibility as a place of call for fuel, should
steamers be sent more frequently by that route to India. The following
description of the harbour, taken from Captain Owen's narrative of his
surveys on that coast, will be found perfectly correct. "It is formed
by a deep inlet of the sea, five and a half miles broad and six long,
receiving the waters of three inconsiderable rivers at its head. At
the entrance are three small islands, which, together with reefs and
shoals, render the anchorage perfectly safe in the worst weather.
Of these islands, that of Mozambique, on which stands the city, is
completely formed of coral, very low and narrow, and scarcely one mile
and a half in length. It is situated nearly in the centre of the inlet,
and just within the line of the two points that form its extremities.
The other two islands, called St. George and St. Jago, lie about
three miles outside of Mozambique, but close to each other. They are
uninhabited, although covered with rich verdure and trees, but upon a
coral foundation."

Mozambique was taken from the Arabs by the Portuguese, at the very
commencement of the sixteenth century; and the extent of the fort of
St. Sebastian, built there by them, and which, even now, might be
rendered a very strong fortification, capable of mounting nearly a
hundred guns, if in proper repair, will be sufficient to show the great
importance which they attributed to it, even in that early period of
its settlement. It still contains large barracks and extensive quarters
and storehouses, but only a very small and feeble garrison, of scarcely
more than a couple of hundred men, either black or creole sepoys.
There are likewise two other smaller forts upon the island, which may
therefore be considered strongly fortified, although more indebted to
the past than to the present, for the importance, which, at first
view, it appears to possess.

The public buildings of Mozambique all bespeak the value of the
settlement to its possessors, in the days of Portuguese maritime
distinction. The governor's palace must have been, in its best days,
a residence worthy of an influential ruler. It is built of stone, is
of considerable extent, and has some fine rooms in it; in fact, it
speaks much for the importance attached by the Portuguese, in former
times, to their eastern possessions. The large stone wharf, built on
handsome arches, with the fine Custom House, in a sort of square at the
extremity of it, clearly point out the ancient commercial value of the
settlement; withered at last, perhaps, more by the paralysing effects
of the slave-trade, than by any natural decrease in the commercial
capabilities of the east coast of Africa.

In short, the city has retrograded into comparative insignificance;
the number of resident Portuguese has become very inconsiderable, with
the exception of some Canareens or creole Portuguese, born in other
Portuguese possessions in India, and, though commonly called white,
only so "by courtesy," being often quite as black as the true Indians.
Bad government and moral deterioration have added not a little to the
other causes of its downfall; and it will scarcely be credited, that
a distinct law has been passed, that those who were married should
be compelled to remain there, or, at least, not return to their own
country. The effect of so extraordinary a measure, has been, that
nobody is disposed to get married at all; and, so low a tone of moral
feeling has come to prevail, that the sexes live together openly,
without any matrimonial or moral ties, and with little feeling of shame
at the absence of them.

I have dwelt a little upon these particulars concerning Mozambique,
because it is the principal of all the Portuguese settlements on that
coast; and if, as such, it has fallen so far from its former state,
we may judge how the others must now be lingering on between life and
death. The fatal influence of the slave-trade appears to paralyse the
whole commercial traffic of the country; the natives, being reduced
to mutual distrust of each other, and continually living in fear and
poverty, are unable to purchase the comforts of foreign manufactures.
The selling of slaves is almost the only profit of the chiefs,
unfitting them for every other enterprise, and deadening within them
every feeling of honour and every hope of improvement. A universal
stagnation seems to hang over the mind of man, as well as over the
productions of the earth. Were it not for the industry of the Arab
population in the neighbourhood, a periodical famine would inevitably
occur. At the present moment, the whole of the Portuguese possessions,
along the Rios da Senna, do not supply even enough grain for their
own consumption. Yet the country is a remarkably fine one, capable of
producing luxuriantly all the fruits of the earth, and, were it cleared
and cultivated, would become habitable even for Europeans, through the
improvement of its climate; yet, there is much land now neglected and
barren, which was once highly cultivated.

The slave-trade is, in fact, a worse pestilence to the country than
even the fever itself; and Mozambique, Quillimane, Delagoa Bay, Sofala,
and Inhamban, are all fallen to the lowest grade of civilization.
If you ask the simple tale of history, what has been the effect of
Portuguese rule upon that coast, you will hear neither of savages
reclaimed, soil improved, commerce extended, justice and mercy
practised, nor Christianity taught. The blight of slavery has poisoned
everything on which it rested.

Nevertheless, as a place of call for refreshment, for ships passing
through the Channel, Mozambique has some claims to attention. Abundance
of vegetables and fruit are to be obtained there; pigs and goats are
readily to be purchased, as well as poultry, and, were the demand for
bullocks larger, they would soon be brought to market in numbers. At
present, however, they are very dear.

But the great treasure of the place remains yet to be developed; at all
events, the subject is well open to investigation. The existence of
good coal in that neighbourhood is now, I believe for the first time,
made public. There is reason to expect that it will be found in large
quantity, and of good quality, although as yet the search for it has
not been carried on to any great extent. The all-engrossing subject of
the slave-trade seems to darken every other object of attention in that
quarter, and the Portuguese are probably afraid that the discovery of
coal in their settlements would occasion the continual visits of so
many steamers and other vessels, that even greater difficulty would be
thrown in the way of the traffic.

Just as the Nemesis was leaving the harbour, the captain of an English
merchant ship, the only one there at the time, brought off a large
piece of excellent coal for inspection. It had all the appearance of
coal perfectly adapted for steaming purposes; it was stated to be
found at Quillimane, (the settlement before alluded to) about three
hundred miles to the southward of Mozambique, and that there is every
reason to believe it might be procured in large quantities, and worked
without difficulty. This specimen was sent to England for examination,
by Captain Hall; but it has since been ascertained that it did not
reach its destination. This is on all accounts to be regretted. It was
sent down to the Cape of Good Hope from Mozambique, in a box, with
directions that it should be forwarded to the India House, but was
probably lost, or set aside at the Cape.

If further investigation should prove what is here stated to be
correct, there can be no reason for not searching for coal upon other
parts of the coast; and under any circumstances, as Quillimane is so
short a distance from Mozambique, the coal might easily be brought
up to the latter at little expense; and, if it were to become a more
frequented route to India, it would be desirable to moor a large
coal-hulk off the town, in which a constant supply of coal could be
kept ready, and which could be taken in rapidly, and at little expense,
by a steamer running up alongside of her.

But the Portuguese, unfortunately, seem quite blind, even to their
own interests; and they cannot perceive, that if they could work
coal-mines, they would employ a large population, circulate wealth
throughout their territory, and attract a considerable and improving
commerce to their port. But then their slave-trade would be ruined:
and they are not even wise enough in their own generation to perceive,
that out of its very ashes would gradually spring up the healthy and
vigorous plant of commerce, upon an extensive scale, not only with
foreign parts, but with the native tribes of Africa. These, however,
are now continually desolated by the scourge of war and slavery. But
they would soon learn to value peace and peaceful arts, and the taste
for new articles of manufacture would grow gradually into wants, and
wants in course of time give birth to the wish for luxuries. Far above
all the profits of the traffic in human beings, would then become the
fruits of wholesome trade; the country would advance, instead of being
driven back; and the welfare of the community and of the government be
simultaneously promoted.

New regulations respecting trade would in the first instance be
indispensable, as at the present time the commandants or little
governors of all the minor Portuguese settlements are themselves
allowed to trade, and often are the principal, or in a manner the
only, merchants in the place. This alone must destroy all healthy
competition, the soul of commerce. But, were trade placed upon a proper
footing, and coal likely to become an article of demand, it would
easily be exported to the Cape, Mauritius, and up to Aden for the
Bombay steamers, and to numerous other parts, in which the demand for
coal is yearly increasing, and likely to become almost unlimited.

I have here rather assumed that coal will be found in large quantity
than proved it; but sufficient has been said to point out the great
probability of its existence upon that coast in more places than one,
and the question involves such important consequences that it deserves
the fullest investigation.

It was at one time thought that coal would be found in some one of
the Comoro islands before alluded to, at the northern extremity of
the Mozambique Channel; and the Nemesis was directed, at all events,
to touch there on her way, for the purpose of inquiring into its
eligibility as a depôt, and place of refreshment for steamers.

The distance of the nearest of the Comoro islands, Mohilla, from
Mozambique, is scarcely two hundred and fifty miles; and from thence to
Johanna, which is the principal one, and the place of residence of the
sultan or ruler of the islands, is about thirty miles. Johanna lies as
near as possible in the middle of the Channel, between Madagascar and
the mainland of Africa, just where it widens into the open sea.

The Nemesis took her departure from Mozambique on the evening of the
1st of September, but did not reach Johanna until the afternoon of the
4th, having made nearly the whole distance under sail only, against a
very strong south-westerly current.

The island of Mohilla is, of course, the first seen, and strikes you
by its lofty, wooded summit, and the numerous small islets which
surround it to the southward. The Channel between Mohilla and Johanna
is picturesque, and the high inland mountains every where present a
rich and refreshing appearance, being covered with luxuriant wood, and
broken occasionally into deep glens, marked by the usual rich tropical
verdure. Johanna is the most frequented of all the islands, and affords
the best anchorage. But it was quite dark before the Nemesis approached
the bay, and an occasional blue light and a rocket were let off, to
give notice of her approach, in order that a pilot might come off, or
else a signal be made to direct her to the best anchorage.

A large fire was soon lighted on shore for this purpose; and, no sooner
did she come within a moderate distance, than numerous boats came
alongside; the natives jumped on board, in apparent delight at seeing
her come in, not unmixed with extreme surprise at her appearance, and
the mode in which she moved through the water. Several of them spoke
broken English, and although they were naturally delighted at the
prospect of earning a little money, they were even more so at the sight
of her armament, and at once concluded that she was sent purposely to
assist the sultan and the people of the island, who were at that time
in great danger and trouble.

Johanna is occasionally frequented by English ships, for provisions,
which are there abundant and reasonable, and the people have become
favourably known in England, in consequence of their kind treatment of
numerous poor English seamen, who have from time to time been wrecked
on those islands, or on the neighbouring coasts. The great bay,
which is on the northern side of the island, is not, however, a very
suitable anchorage, except, perhaps, during the S.W. monsoon. At all
times, there is a very heavy surf rolling in shore; and, during the
N.E. monsoon, which sets directly into it, the heavy swell renders the
anchorage unsafe. It cannot, therefore, be considered at all eligible
as a coal depôt for steamers, particularly when Mozambique, which has
greater claims to attention, is within such a moderate distance. Still,
it is a very useful place of refuge for our whaling ships in that part
of the world; and, as the inhabitants, as well as the authorities, have
always shewn great kindness to the English, and, in fact, consider
themselves almost in the light of allies of England, it would seem
politic to keep alive the good feeling they evince toward us.

The inhabitants of these islands are principally of Moorish origin,
nearly all Mohammedans, and they wear the turban and loose dress which
belong to no part of the neighbouring coast; and a dagger or pistols
in their girdle are by no means uncommon. They have a genuine old
English or Arab mode of shaking hands, with a gaiety of manner that
is very pleasing. Their features are regular, and well formed, and
their complexion, though dark, is very different from that of the
inhabitants, either of the neighbouring continent, or of the island
of Madagascar. In short, it is evident, that they were originally
emigrants from some distant part, probably Arab traders, although their
appearance has become modified in the course of successive generations.

These islanders appear to be rather favourites of the different
men-of-war and merchant ships which touch there; though they have
acquired a character for duplicity and cunning, and, consequently, for
telling falsehoods, which at the same time they smooth over with the
most artful flattery. But high testimony has been often borne to their
kindness and hospitality towards Englishmen in distress; and, when
the Exmouth grounded there several years ago, with a great number of
passengers, on her way home, the Sultan Abdallah, the father of his
present highness, particularly distinguished himself, by even attending
in person to direct the efforts of his men, who came to assist in
getting the vessel off. He paid the utmost attention to all the
passengers, particularly to the women and children, taking care that
they should be provided with every thing he could furnish for their
comfort, until they could pursue their voyage further. Nor is this by
any means a solitary instance of the kind services which they have
rendered to our countrymen.


[9] With respect to the effects of lightning upon an iron ship, and
the danger which was to be apprehended from the attraction, both of
the vessel as a body, and of its particular parts as points for the
electrical fluid to touch upon in its passage between the clouds and
the earth, no inconvenience whatever seems to have been felt. Much
had been said about it in England before her departure for a tropical
region. The timid, and those less acquainted with the subject, openly
expressed their apprehensions; the learned smiled with more of
curiosity than fear; but the officers of the vessel itself were too
busy about other matters to give themselves time to think much about
the question. During their voyage to the southward, when many dangers
were encountered, certainly that from lightning was amongst the least
thought of; and now, as they were passing through the Mozambique
Channel, a part of the world particularly famous for its heavy storms
of thunder and lightning, not the slightest effect from it was observed
upon the iron vessel. The funnel has a perfectly smooth top, without
any ornamental points, such as are sometimes seen; and the main rigging
and funnel stays were made of chain at the top, and rope throughout the


The present ruler, or sultan, of the Comoro Islands, by name Alloué, is
the son of the late sultan Abdallah, before alluded to as having been
particularly kind to distressed Englishmen. He is a young man under
thirty, of moderate height, agreeable countenance, and easy, pleasant
manners. But his character is not distinguished for energy, and the
difficulties with which he has had to contend appear to have been
rather beyond his powers. His father, Abdallah, had made a treaty with
Colonel Farquhar, when governor of the Mauritius, by which he undertook
to suppress, by every means in his power, the extensive trade in slaves
which was at that time carried on at the islands which were under his
dominion; and he particularly distinguished himself by the zeal and
perfect good faith with which he carried out its provisions. Indeed, to
this cause, much of the subsequent difficulties of his family, and the
impoverishment of his people, seem to have been attributed.

In the latter days of Abdallah's life, he appears to have met with
sad reverses; and, judging from the documents which I have been able
to examine, it would seem that his determined resistance to the
continuance of the slave-trade raised up enemies against him, not only
in his own islands, but in the more powerful one of Madagascar, and on
the coast of Africa itself. It is certain, also, that he was at all
times favourably regarded by the government of Bombay, for his services
to the Company's ships, and, as an acknowledgment of his assistance,
a present was sent to him every three years, of a small supply of
arms and ammunition. Abdallah's death was, however, at length brought
about, after suffering numerous hardships, by the treacherous and cruel
treatment of an emissary from Madagascar, or one of the more than
half-savage chiefs of that island, into whose hands he at length fell.

This is not the place to enter at large into the subject of Madagascar
history; it will be sufficient to remark that the present queen of that
country is a most cruel and tyrannical sovereign; that she sets little
value upon the lives or blood of her subjects, and that she is supposed
to have poisoned her predecessor, the late King Radaman; further, that
she did not succeed in winning the throne without sacrificing most of
the chiefs who were opposed to her, and that she has since contrived
to bring under her subjection many who were formerly independent
governors, or chiefs, of the territory they severally occupied. Those
who take an interest in missionary enterprises will also have heard of
the dreadful cruelties she has exercised upon those unhappy men within
her territories, most of whom were barbarously put to death, some in
her presence, and partly, it is said, by her own hand. Only one or two
of them escaped from the island.

Shewing the

Published by H. Colburn 13 Gr^t. Marlborough Street, 1845.
Isaac Purdy Sculp^t.

It was not unnatural, under these circumstances, that one or more of
the chiefs of the island should have taken refuge in the neighbouring
islands of Johanna and Mohilla. Accordingly, so long ago as 1828,
a chief, called Raymanytek, who had been governor of an important
province in Madagascar under the old king, and was said by some to be
his brother, came over to Johanna with about one hundred followers, and
represented to Sultan Abdallah, that he had made his escape from his
own country, through fear of the queen, who sought his life, (probably
he had tried to get possession of the chief authority himself,) and
that, as he understood the inhabitants of the Comoro Islands were
allies of the English, _as well as himself_, he came there to beg for
an asylum. There was something very suspicious in his story; but,
nevertheless, Abdallah received him in a very friendly manner, placing
a house and lands at his disposal, and shewing him other civilities.

Probably, however, entertaining some mistrust of his new visitor,
Abdallah sent an envoy to Bombay to make known the particulars of his
arrival, and to ask whether the government would feel satisfied with
his residence upon the islands under his dominion. He suspected, no
doubt, that the new chief might soon become a troublesome visitor, and
was anxious to endeavour to secure some further assistance from Bombay,
should he stand in need of it. It is likely, also, that he wished to
obtain some information respecting the character of Raymanytek.

From Bombay, reference was made to the government of the Mauritius upon
the subject, as being better acquainted with the political state of
Madagascar. In the meantime, the chief, not content with a residence
in the neighbourhood of Sultan Abdallah, went to the opposite or
southern side of the island, where he purchased a small native vessel,
for the evident purpose of trading in slaves. The little craft made
several voyages across to the coast of Africa; and, at length, Abdallah
remonstrated with him upon the subject, and informed him that if this
clandestine trade were not discontinued, he should make him leave the
island altogether. To this no reply was made; and still the vessel went
across to the coast, bringing back, on one occasion, nearly two hundred
slaves. Many of these were probably re-exported to other parts.

Abdallah hereupon ordered his disobedient visitor immediately to quit
the island, upon the ground that the slave-trade could not be permitted
within his territory, the more particularly as he was bound by treaty
with the English to prevent it in every way he could.

To this summons Raymanytek made no other reply than to bring all
his followers together armed, and, by means of bribery and fair
promises, to enlist in his cause some of the poorer inhabitants in his
neighbourhood, and also to arm as many of his negro slaves as he could
prevail upon, and who appeared trustworthy. Money seemed at all times
to be at his command, and he is said to have brought a well-filled
purse with him when he landed from Madagascar. With the force he had
now collected, he made an unexpected descent upon the capital of the
island, which, being unprepared, was, of course, unable to resist him.
The consternation was general, in addition to which, his money is
believed to have influenced some of the people to remain quiet.

Almost immediately the old Sultan Abdallah was deposed, and his brother
Ali took the chief power into his hands. Abdallah, with all the rest
of his family, left the island, with the hope of being able to find an
opportunity of reaching some English port, where he might represent
his case, and ask for assistance. He reached the island of Comoro in
safety; but what became of him afterwards, until he was ultimately put
to death with extreme barbarity, as before stated, I have hitherto not
been able to ascertain.

During this short interval, Raymanytek had been able to get possession
of the arms belonging to Abdallah, and which I have stated were
supplied every two or three years by the government of Bombay, as a
recompence for his friendly assistance when needed; and, having burnt
and ruined the greater part of the town, and completely destroyed the
crops and plantations in the neighbourhood, he embarked on board his
little vessel, and, taking with him all that he could conveniently
carry away of any value, he withdrew to the island of Mohilla, and
established himself there in a position easy of defence; all the
subsequent efforts of the rightful authorities to turn him out were of
no avail.

This man must have been supplied, by some means or other, with
abundance of ammunition; and it is not unlikely that his speculations
in the slave-trade, by means of his own vessel, may have supplied him
not only with money, but also with warlike weapons and ammunition.
It is well surmised, too, that he received assistance direct from
Madagascar at various times; and it must not be forgotten that the
nine or ten years which elapsed between the commencement of these
occurrences and the visit of the Nemesis was a period particularly
fraught with difficulties in relation to the traffic in slaves, and
that it appears _primâ facie_, highly probable that this marauding
rebel may have been strongly encouraged, and even aided, in his
attempts, by distant parties interested in the traffic. Indeed,
unless some assistance of this kind had been furnished to him, it is
difficult to see how he could so long have found means to maintain

The sultan applied for assistance on several occasions to the
government of the Mauritius, of the Cape, and of Bombay. The letter
of the young sultan Alloué, after the death of his father, in 1836,
addressed to the governor of the Cape of Good Hope, and to the admiral
of the station, asking for assistance, was a really pathetic appeal to
their good feelings. It detailed the horrors of poor old Abdallah's
death, and the violent acts of the invader; it related the defenceless
state in which he found himself on taking the reins into his hands;
and then appealed to British generosity, in return for the faithful
adhesion of his family to Great Britain, and the hospitality of his
people towards all British subjects.

The answer on that occasion was prompt, and worthy of the
cause--namely, "that in consequence of the difficulties in which the
sultan of Johanna was placed, and in consideration of the fidelity with
which the late Sultan Abdallah had fulfilled his engagements for the
suppression of the slave-trade, and the hospitality which he had on all
occasions shewn to British vessels touching at Johanna, the governor
and admiral readily yield to the earnest desire of the Sultan Alloué
for the aid of arms and ammunition, and send an ample supply thereof to
Johanna in one of his majesty's sloops of war," &c.

With this assistance, Alloué was once more able to make head for the
time against his enemy. But the country still continued in a very
unsettled state; and, as the assistance was only temporary, he again
fell into extreme difficulty, and addressed himself to the governor of
the Mauritius upon the subject. Sir William Nicolai, who was governor
and commander-in-chief of that island at that time, referred the
application to the consideration of the home government. But it would
seem that some little intrigues had sprung up among the sultan's own
family, which it is not very easy, and so far very unimportant, to

The Sultan Alloué's uncle, Seyd Abbas, had about the same time sent
two young men, either his sons or nephews, to the Mauritius, to report
the unhappy state of the island, and to request assistance in support
of the actual Sultan Alloué. Not long afterwards two or three other
young men arrived at the Mauritius, also bearing letters from Seyd
Abbas to the same purport. As this man was thought to be well disposed
towards the English, and had been favourably spoken of by all those
who had visited the island, and as, moreover, his object seemed to be
the laudable one of trying to support the young sultan's authority,
even though without his highness's acknowledged sanction, it was
judged proper to maintain all these young men at the public expense,
until an opportunity should offer for sending them back again. After
the lapse of some months, a vessel was hired on purpose to carry them
back; and it was at the same time distinctly intimated that, "however
praiseworthy the intentions of Seyd Abbas may have been in sending
his own relations from home as political messengers, and however high
he may stand personally in the respect of Englishmen, it would in
future be impossible for British authorities to maintain political
correspondence with him or with any other person in Johanna than his
highness the sultan of the island." The sultan was further recommended
henceforth to give Seyd Abbas a share of his confidence in his
councils, in consequence of his age and experience, and the apparent
sincerity with which he espoused his interest; and, at the same time,
the young men were recommended to his notice as very sensible and
well-informed persons. The friendly interest and intentions of the
government towards the sultan and people of Johanna were then in
general terms expressed; and thus, with kind words and kinder hopes for
better days for his subjects, the young sultan was left for the present
to take care of himself.

It was only a few months before the arrival of the Nemesis that some
of the events which have been recorded had occurred. The Sultan Alloué
was still in extreme danger; and another letter was addressed by him
to the governor of the Mauritius, only about five months previously.
It appears to have been remarkably well written, and contains some
ingenious observations which, as being written by a young Moorish
prince, the ruler of an island in a remote corner of the globe, under
circumstances of great difficulty, it may be worth while to dwell upon
it for a moment.

He thanks his excellency the governor of the Mauritius for the kindness
he had shewn to the young men, whom he admits to be distantly related
to him; but shrewdly remarks that their "clandestine departure from
Johanna, contrary to his express orders, and during the night, had
given him reason to suppose that they were not quite so friendly
disposed towards him as they wished his excellency to believe: and
that he feared the object of their journey had been a pecuniary
speculation upon the governor's goodness and British hospitality." He
proceeds to express his thanks for being apprised that persons had
entertained political correspondence with English authorities without
his knowledge or consent; and adds, that, although he fully concurs in
his excellency's opinion with regard to the age and experience of his
uncle, Seyd Abbas, still there are many others in Johanna who possess
the same qualities, and whose attachment and loyalty he had _never had
occasion to doubt_.

The suspicion here betrayed is self-evident, and sufficiently
delicately expressed. The picture he then draws of the state of his
country is a pitiable one for a prince himself to be obliged to
depict--"The town burnt; the country ravaged; all our cattle killed by
the chief, Raymanytek, aided by natives of Mohilla, under his orders."
He distinctly intimates that the rebel chief was receiving "assistance
from the French;" and, although he does not state reasonable grounds
for the assertion, the statement is not altogether an improbable
one, considering that the abolition of slavery in the Mauritius had
roused the feeling of the French population against us and our allies:
and, moreover, slavery was still in existence in the neighbouring
island of Bourbon, where strong feelings against the English had been
undisguisedly avowed; while, at the same time, the difficulty of
procuring fresh slaves had greatly raised their price.

Intrigues were thought to have been carried on by the French traders in
Madagascar itself, where they have long attempted to obtain a footing,
but with little success, owing to the deadly nature of the climate. It
is, however, perfectly well-known that they are still anxious to strain
every nerve to establish themselves in some place eastward of the
Cape, in addition to the island of Bourbon, where there is no harbour
whatever, but merely an open roadstead. They are, moreover, anxious
to get some _point d'appui_ whence they may injure British trade, in
case of war, in that quarter; and, at the same time, by establishing
a little colony of their own, find some means of augmenting their
mercantile marine.

One of their latest attempts has been at the Isle Madame; and it is
perfectly well known that several other efforts have been made, and
still more talked about.

If, however, Raymanytek really did receive any foreign assistance,
it is not probable that it was with the knowledge or connivance of
the government of Bourbon, but rather from the restless enterprise of
private individuals interested in the slave trade. However that may
be, there seems to be very good grounds for our hoping that the Sultan
Alloué may be permitted to remain in the peaceable possession of his
own rightful territories. It is our evident interest to prevent those
fine islands from falling into any other hands, more especially now
that the intercourse between the West and East, through the Mozambique
channel, is likely to be more extensive than formerly; and that the
opening for legitimate commerce, within the channel itself, cannot but
attract the attention of British merchants. The trade in slaves will
become yearly more difficult, and, indeed, nothing would tend more
to cause its total downfall than the gradual extension, under proper
government protection, of the legitimate trade in British manufactures
along that coast.

The young Sultan Alloué further went on to declare in his letter that
numbers of his people had been captured and taken to Mozambique and
Zanzibar, where they _were sold into slavery_; and that several such
cargoes had already been sent over. He begged earnestly that assistance
might speedily be sent to him, in arms and ammunition, and that he
particularly stood in need of lead and flints, and a couple of small
field-pieces. At the same time, he entreated that some small vessel
of war might be sent to his aid; for that such were his difficulties,
that, unless speedy assistance should arrive, he feared that he should
be driven to abandon the town, and seek personally an asylum in British
India. He then appealed to the magnanimity of the British government,
in the hope that he and his people might not be compelled to abandon
their homes for want of timely assistance.[10]

Such, then, was the unhappy situation of the beautiful little island
of Johanna, as described by its own prince, only a few months before
the unexpected visit of the Nemesis. Little change had taken place;
the town still held out, but it does not appear that any assistance
had been sent to it. The very sight of the steamer gladdened the young
sultan's heart, and encouraged the people, who stood greatly in need of
it; the rebel chief being then at only a short distance from the town.

Late as it was, the captain and Lieut. Pedder landed in uniform to
wait upon the sultan at once, as their time was so limited. One of
his uncles and his prime minister received them, and accompanied
them through a few narrow streets, built in the Moorish style, to
the sultan's palace. At the entrance were stationed four half-clad
soldiers, with muskets, as a personal guard; and, on reaching the
reception room, the sultan was discovered sitting on a high-backed
chair, at the further end of the apartment. He immediately rose and
advanced towards them in a very friendly manner, welcoming them to
Johanna with a good, hearty shake by the hand. Two chairs were placed
on his left, for his guests, while, on his right, sat the governor of
the town, and several other of the principal people, all on the tip-toe
of expectation for the news from England, the more particularly as they
were in some hope that the strange-looking "_devil-ship_," as they
called her, might have brought a letter from the English government, in
answer to his application for assistance.

They were doomed, however, to be again disappointed; but the sultan
made many inquiries about the Queen and Prince Albert, and whether an
heir to the throne had yet been born, and seemed not a little curious
to know if the Thames Tunnel was finished. In short, he appeared to
be a very well-bred and courteous young man. He alluded painfully to
the distressed state of the island, and to his being surrounded by his
enemies under Raymanytek, and begged hard for at least a little powder
and shot, with which to endeavour to hold out until better assistance
could reach him.

As it was already quite late, the interview did not last long, but
promises were made to renew it on the subsequent day, and a party was
arranged for an excursion outside the town on the following morning.
Accordingly, at daylight, the party were again met by the king's uncle
on the beach, who appointed three soldiers to act both as guides and
guards. These men appeared quite pleased with the duty assigned to
them, and throughout the whole trip did everything in their power
to amuse the party, and to point out to them the objects best worth
notice; one man went in search of shells upon the beach, another
to procure fruit, and scarcely a wish was expressed that was not
immediately gratified.

Having ascended the hills on the eastern side of the valley, they were
gratified by a delightful prospect in every direction. The valley below
was rich and capable of high cultivation, but only partially cleared of
wood, and in other parts covered with long grass and low shrubs, varied
by the numerous wild flowers which were then in blossom. In the rear
were high and thickly-wooded mountains, picturesque in themselves, but
shutting out the view of the opposite side of the island, while, in
the other direction, the eye could trace the long line of picturesque
coast, giving altogether a very favourable impression of the character
of the island, the more particular as some of the timber is very fine,
and calculated for repairing ships.

The town itself could only be viewed from the top of a higher hill
behind it, which was now ascended, and its character well made out. Its
little white flat-topped houses and turreted walls, with very narrow
streets, pointed out its Moorish origin. But there was nothing to
render it otherwise striking.

The whole population appeared to be abroad, each struggling which
should gratify his curiosity the quickest, in running down to the beach
to catch a glimpse of the strange vessel, the like of which none had
ever seen before. Boats were seen crowding round her on all sides, and,
as she lay there, decked out with all her flags, the scene was both
animated and picturesque.

On descending the hill, the party were again met by the sultan's uncle,
who invited them to breakfast with his highness, and accompanied them,
first to his own house, where they met the sultan himself, and thence
to the palace, which was close at hand. But it was still rather an
early hour for a reception, and on entering the palace, it was very
evident that the preparations had not yet been completed for their
arrival. His highness's ladies, the sultana and her companions, had
only just time to make their escape, leaving everything in disorder,
and, in short, breakfast was not quite ready.

His highness was very condescending, but it was clear that his
attentions were being divided between two or more objects at the same
time, one of which was readily guessed to be the ladies fair, who
had so suddenly decamped. But this was not the only one, and, in the
little intervals between his exits and his entrances, an opportunity
was taken to ask his uncle, who was present, what it was all about.
The mystery was solved. His highness was condescending to superintend
the preparation of the breakfast for his guests, that it might be
worthy of them. The kitchen was on this occasion converted into the
council-chamber, and quite as weighty matters there discussed, and
certainly with equal warmth, and probably, too, with the full "ore
rotundo" of hungry eloquence, as are often treated of with greater
solemnity in higher conclaves.

The result, indeed, was worthy of the cause. The breakfast was
pronounced capital, and ample justice done, after the morning's walk,
to the wisdom of his highness's deliberations. He himself seemed quite
delighted, and his uncle declared to Captain Hall, in his absence, that
the young man's greatest pleasure was to contrive some new means of
gratifying the English who came in his way, and that there was nothing
he would not condescend to do for them, in his enthusiastic admiration
of the nation. A little of this might be said and done for effect,
but there has always been good reason to believe that he was on all
occasions a sincere, and, in some respects, useful ally.

The same day, a grand entertainment was to be given by some relation
of the Sultan's, in his uncle's house, in honour of the performance
of the first Mohammedan rite upon the young infant, his son and heir,
upon the eighth day after its birth. The sultan himself, with his chief
minister, accompanied them to see the festivities. On this occasion,
the ladies of the court were all found to be in the apartment adjoining
the reception room, and only separated from it by a large screen or
curtain before the door. Now, according to all the prescribed rules of
civilized life, it may reasonably be supposed that the fair damsels,
secluded as they usually were, had just as much curiosity to see the
lions of the day, the English officers in uniform, as the latter had to
catch a glimpse of eastern beauty, the more sought the more forbidden.
Every now and then you could see the curtain moved gently on one side,
and a young lady's head peep out; and then another would steal a quiet
look on the other side; then again, by pressing against each other,
more of them would be seen than they intended, but quite enough to make
you wish to see more still. In the meantime his highness had retired,
or perhaps they might not have been so bold.

As the gallantry of the sons of Neptune has at all times been famous,
so in this instance it innocently got the better of their discretion,
and, with an apparently accidental, though well-premeditated charge at
the curtain, which was most gallantly pushed on one side, a full view
of all the fair ladies was obtained, much more to the apparent horror
of the old uncle, who was a spectator of the achievement, than to that
of the fair damsels themselves, who, nevertheless, quietly retreated
in some trepidation. The ladies were all very handsomely and gaudily
dressed, it being a gala-day, but they were not altogether the most
Venus-like of beauties.

But a more curious scene was brought to view on being conducted to
another apartment, where a large and merry party of ladies of less
distinguished rank were amusing themselves with dancing and singing,
but certainly without much grace in the one or melody in the other.
There was only one good-looking female among the whole assembly, and
she appeared to be the queen of beauty, or mistress of the feast, for
she was treated with the utmost attention and deference by all the rest.

On returning again to the presence of the sultan, refreshments were
handed round, and, as the weather was hot, a whole train of the female
servants of the house were ushered into the room, each with a fan, or
sort of portable punka, in her hand. They were all very neatly and
cleanly dressed, and immediately set their fans most dexterously to
work, taking their stations behind each person of the party.

In the midst of this scene the sultan disappeared, followed by his
uncle, and, after a few minutes' consultation, the attendance of
Captain Hall was requested in his highness's private apartment.
Something important was evidently about to happen, but, before there
was much time to conjecture what it might be, he found himself alone
with the sultan. His highness frankly confessed the alarm which the
strength of the chief named Raymanytek had excited in his mind, that
he was even then not far from the town, and that he himself was
determined at once to march out against the rebels, if he could get a
sufficient supply of powder and shot. At the same time he begged that,
if necessary, he might have the assistance of the steamer to protect
his town.

Only one reply could be given, namely, that the visit of the steamer
was a mere casual thing, with a view to ascertain the nature of the
harbour; that the service she was engaged on would admit of no delay,
but that, as long as she was there, which could not be many hours more,
she should give protection to himself and his family, as well as to
the town, if in danger, and that a small supply of ammunition should
be given to him to enable him to defend himself. He appeared quite
satisfied, and pleased with the reply. At the same time, as the danger
was imminent, and much blood might otherwise be shed, he requested
that, since the orders by which the steamer was obliged to abide would
necessitate her immediate departure, the British flag might be hoisted
upon his citadel before she started, and receive the proper salute, in
order to intimidate the rebel chief; and further, that a letter might
be written to the latter, stating that the sultan of Johanna was an old
ally of Great Britain, and that the taking up arms against him could
no longer be permitted; in short, that he had, therefore, better take
himself off as quickly as possible, and return to obedience.

This was a request which demanded very serious consideration. It was
evident that Captain Hall had no authority whatever to interfere in
the matter. And such, consequently would have been the only reply of
many officers, perhaps most, under the same circumstances. But, there
was now something of humanity called into play, something of pity, and
something, perhaps, of pride. It was impossible not to feel a deep
interest in the unhappy position of the young sultan, more particularly
as he and all his family had on so many occasions behaved with kindness
and humanity towards Englishmen in distress. He had, moreover, stated
his positive wish to become not only the ally, but even the subject of
Great Britain, and that he would rather give up the island altogether
to the English, and, if necessary, retire from it elsewhere, than see
it in its then state of misery from the incursions of Raymanytek.

There was, in fact, something in Alloué's appeal, which was altogether
irresistible; and after much reflection, and well knowing the
responsibility incurred, it was agreed that the British flag should
be hoisted upon the citadel, under a salute of twenty-one guns. This
was accordingly done, and for the first time, the flag, which so many
millions look upon with pride, waved over the citadel and walls of
Johanna. The sultan smiled, and appeared to take far greater pride in
that unstained ensign, than in his own independent flag, or his own
precarious authority.

Great were the rejoicings of the whole people of the town; in fact, the
day had been one of continued excitement to all parties. To crown the
whole, a letter was written to the rebel chief, according to the tenour
of what has been stated above, and which, it was hoped, would induce
Raymanytek to retire peaceably for the present, and to defer to an
opportunity less favourable for himself, if not altogether to forego,
his treasonable designs, which had evidently been to depose the sultan,
and probably put him to death, and banish all his family, assuming the
whole authority himself in his place.

This had been a long and eventful day for the Nemesis, and while we
have been relating what was passing on shore, those on board had been
busy taking in water and wood for the immediate continuance of the
voyage. One thing, however, yet remained; the sultan was to visit
the ship, and see what to him were wonders. He came on board in the
afternoon, with several attendants, in full Moorish dress, and, of
course, evinced the utmost astonishment at the arrangement of the
ship, the machinery, &c. To him and his followers all was new. As they
steamed round the bay, their wonderment increased more and more at the
ease and rapidity with which she moved; and having partaken of a little
fruit and bread, and taken a most friendly and, to all appearance,
grateful leave of Captain Hall, and all on board, he was landed in the
ship's boat, with his own flag flying upon it.

On landing, he seemed quite overwhelmed with thankfulness for the
timely assistance rendered to him, and unaffectedly sorry at parting
with friends, he had so recently made.

On the afternoon of the 5th September, 1840, the interesting little
island of Johanna was left behind, with many good wishes for the
success of the sultan's arms, and for the speedy restoration of peace
and plenty to his harassed subjects. It is feared, however, that these
hopes have scarcely yet been realized.[11]


[10] The sultan very recently went up to Calcutta, to apply to the
Governor-general, in the hope that the Company might be induced to
take possession of the islands, which he felt he could no longer
hold without assistance. He merely asked for himself a small annual
stipend out of the revenues. What answer he may have received is not
known; but probably his application was rejected, upon the ground of
our territory in the East being already quite large enough. But, in
reality, the Comoro Islands, or at least a part of them, must be viewed
in a political light, as they may be said to command the _navigation_
of the straits, and are generally thought to be an object aimed at by
the French.

[11] The following letter concerning the fate of the Comoro Islands,
and the violent proceedings of the French in that quarter, appeared
in _The Times_ of January 30th, 1844. The facts stated in it have
every appearance of exaggeration, but the interference of the British
government would seem to be called for.

    "The French have, within the last month, obtained, by fraud,
    possession of the islands of Johanna, Mohilla, and Peonaro;
    they had already, by the same means, obtained the islands of
    Mayotte and Nos Beh. There are at present out here eleven ships
    of war--the largest a 60-gun frigate; more are expected out, in
    preparation for the conquest of all Madagascar; and also, it
    is said, of the coast of Africa, from latitude 10 S. to 2 S.;
    this portion includes the dominions of the Imaum of Muscat. At
    this place (Nos Beh) a system of slavery is carried on that you
    are not aware of. Persons residing here, send over to places
    on the mainland of Africa, as Mozambique, Angoza, &c., money
    for the purchase of the slaves; they are bought there for about
    ten dollars each, and are sold here again for fifteen dollars;
    here again they are resold to French merchant vessels from
    Bourbon and St. Mary's for about twenty-five to thirty dollars
    each. Captains of vessels purchasing these use the precaution
    of making two or three of the youngest free, and then have
    them apprenticed to them for a certain term of years, (those
    on shore,) fourteen and twenty one years. These papers of
    freedom will answer for many. It is a known fact, that numbers
    have been taken to Bourbon, and sold for two hundred and three
    hundred dollars each. Those who have had their freedom granted
    at this place, (Nos Beh,) as well as others, are chiefly of the
    Macaw tribe. The Indian, of Havre, a French bark, took several
    from this place on the 20th of September last; she was bound
    for the west coast of Madagascar, St. Mary's, and Bourbon.
    L'Hesione, a 32-gun frigate, has just arrived from Johanna,
    having compelled one of the chiefs to sign a paper, giving the
    island up to the French. On their first application, the king
    and chiefs of Johanna said, that the island belonged to the
    English. The French then said, that if it was not given up,
    they would destroy the place; they, after this, obtained the
    signature of one of the chiefs to a paper giving up the island
    to the French.

    "I remain, Sir, &c., &c.,
    "Supercargo of the late Ghuznee of Bombay.
    "_Nos Beh, Madagascar_,
    "_Oct. 6th, 1843._"

The account given in the above letter is partly borne out by the
following announcement, which appeared in the _Moniteur_, the French
official newspaper, in March, 1844; the substance of it is here copied
from _The Times_ of the 14th March, and there can be little doubt
concerning the object of the French in taking the active step alluded
to. We must hope, therefore, that our interests in that quarter will
be properly watched, particularly when we remember what serious injury
would be inflicted upon the whole of our Eastern trade, in case of war,
by the establishment of the French in good harbours to the eastward of
the Cape. The announcement is as follows:--"Captain Des Fossés has been
appointed Commander of the station at MADAGASCAR, and Bourbon, which
was hitherto placed under the orders of the Governor of Bourbon. This
station now acquires a greater degree of importance. Captain Des Fossés
having under his orders _five_ or _six_ ships of war, will exhibit
our flag along the _whole coast of Africa_, and in the Arabian Seas.
He will endeavour to extend our _relations with Abyssinia_, and our
_influence in Madagascar_."


The next place towards which the Nemesis was destined to shape her
course was the island of Ceylon, where at length was to be made known
to her the ultimate service upon which she was to be employed. It
was not until the 10th that she lost sight of Comoro island, the
northernmost of the group of that name, and, if measured in a direct
line, considerably less than one hundred miles from Johanna.

Horsburgh particularly notices the light, baffling winds, and the
strong, south-west and southerly currents, which prevail during the
months of October and November among the Comoro Islands. But it was
found upon this voyage that these difficulties presented themselves
sometimes much earlier than stated by him. It was now only the
beginning of September, and the southerly current was found setting
down at the rate of even sixty miles a day. Indeed, both the winds and
currents in the Mozambique Channel had been found very different from
what had been expected. It was the season of the south-west monsoon
when she entered it in the month of August; and as it is usually stated
that this wind continues to blow until early in November, the Nemesis
ought to have had favourable winds to carry her quite through, even
later in the season. On the contrary, she met with a strong head-wind,
and a much stronger southerly current than she had reason to expect.

The opinion of Horsburgh seems to be fully confirmed, that late in
the season it is better for ships to avoid the Mozambique Channel, and
rather to proceed to the eastward of Madagascar, and then pass between
Diego Garcia and the Seychelle Islands. Steamers, however, would have
less need of this were coal to be had at Mozambique.

From the equator, the current was always easterly; but nothing
particular occurred worth noticing, except that, as she approached the
Maldive Islands, she encountered very heavy squalls, accompanied with

On the following day, the 1st October, the Maldives were in sight; and,
in order to carry her through them rapidly, steam was got up for a
few hours, until she came to, in the afternoon, within a quarter of a
mile of the shore, under one of the easternmost of the islands, named
Feawar, having shaped her course straight across the middle of the
long, and until lately, much dreaded group of the Maldive Archipelago.

This extensive chain or archipelago of islands lies in the very centre
of the Indian Ocean, and, being placed in the direct track of ships
coming from the south-west towards Ceylon, and the southern parts of
Hindostan, it was long dreaded by mariners, and shunned by them as
an almost impenetrable and certainly dangerous barrier. It is stated
by Horsburgh, that the early traders from Europe to India were much
better acquainted with these islands than modern navigators, and that
they were often passed through in these days without any apprehension
of danger. The knowledge of their navigable channels must therefore
have been, in a great measure, lost; and, although the utmost credit
is due to the indefatigable Horsburgh for his arduous efforts to
restore some of the lost information, it is to the liberality of the
Indian government, and particularly to the scientific labours and
distinguished services of Captain Moresby and Commander Powell, of the
Indian navy, that we are indebted for the minute and beautiful surveys
of all these intricate channels which have been given to the world
since 1835.

This archipelago is divided into numerous groups of islands, called by
the natives Atolls, each comprising a considerable number of islands,
some of which are inhabited, and abound in cocoa-nut trees, while the
smaller ones are often mere barren rocks or sandy islets. The number
of these islands, large and small, amounts to several hundred; and the
groups, or Atolls, into which they are divided, are numerous. They are
laid down with wonderful accuracy and minuteness by Captains Moresby
and Powell; so that, with the aid of their charts, the intricate
channels between them can be read with almost the same facility as the
type of a book. Thus one of the greatest boons has been conferred upon
navigators of all nations. They are disposed in nearly a meridian line
from latitude 7° 6' N. to latitude 0° 47' S., and consequently extend
over the hottest portion of the tropics, for the distance of more than
three hundred and seventy miles.

As the Nemesis passed through these islands, she found that all the
former difficulties had now vanished. So accurate were the soundings,
and given on so large a scale, that it was more like reading a European
road-book than guiding a vessel through an intricate labyrinth of

The very sight of a steamer completely frightened the inhabitants
of the little island of Feawar; who, although they at length came
alongside without much fear, could never be persuaded to come on board
the vessel. However, they had no objection to act as guides, for the
purpose of shewing what was to be seen upon their island; and, while a
little necessary work was being done to the vessel, Captain Hall and
two or three of the officers landed, and were soon surrounded by a
crowd of natives upon the beach, quite unarmed.

A stroll along the shore, covered with pieces of coral, soon brought
them to a mosque and burial-ground, which was remarkable for the
neatness with which it was disposed. The little ornamented head-stones,
with inscriptions, and flowers in many places planted round them,
probably refreshed by the sacred water of a well close at hand, proved,
at all events, the great respect paid to their dead, which is common
among all Mohammedans. Indeed, the inhabitants of all these numerous
islands are mostly of that persuasion, and consider themselves to be
under the protection of England, the common wish of almost all the
little independent tribes of the East.

The village itself appeared to be at least half deserted, the poor
people, particularly the women, having hastily run away, leaving their
spinning-wheels at their doors. They appear to carry their produce,
consisting of oil, fish, rope, mats, &c., to Ceylon and other parts
of India, in large boats of their own construction, bringing back
in return rice and English manufactured goods. Indeed, an extensive
traffic is carried on between all the northernmost of this extensive
chain of islands, or submarine mountains, and the nearer parts of the
coast of India.

On the same evening, the Nemesis continued her voyage, and, on the
afternoon of the 5th October, reached the harbour of Pointe de Galle,
in Ceylon. She came in under steam, with about eight tons of coal
remaining, having been exactly one month from Johanna.

The mystery attending the Nemesis was now to end. Scarcely had she
fairly reached her moorings, when a despatch was delivered to the
captain from the government of India, containing orders from the
Governor-general in council, to complete the necessary repairs, and
take in coal and provisions, with all possible expedition, and then to
proceed to join the fleet off the mouth of the Canton River, placing
himself under the orders of the naval commander-in-chief.

Great was now the rejoicing of both officers and men. Her captain had
already been made acquainted with his destination, as far as Ceylon,
before leaving England, but no one on board, until now, had any certain
information as to what particular service they were to undertake
afterwards. The road to distinction was now made known to them; they
were at once to be engaged in active operations, in conjunction with
her majesty's forces.

Notwithstanding, however, the unremitted exertions of all on board,
the Nemesis could not be got ready to proceed on her voyage in less
than eight clear days from the time of her arrival at Pointe de Galle.
Added to this, the whole of the stores and supplies had to be sent
by land from Columbo, a distance of seventy-two miles, as it was not
then so well known that all these things could be readily obtained at
Singapore, and that therefore a smaller quantity would have sufficed.
Indeed, from the more frequent communication with Ceylon, through
vessels touching at Pointe de Galle for supplies, which has since taken
place, every provision has now been made at that port, without the
necessity of sending for stores to so great a distance as Columbo.

Under all circumstances, no time was to be lost; and the anxiety to
proceed on the voyage as quickly as possible was so great, that Captain
Hall determined to start off for Columbo the same evening, in order
to wait upon his Excellency the Governor, and expedite the sending
on of the requisite stores. A highly respectable merchant, Mr. Gibb,
who was going over, kindly offered him a seat in his gig, and, after
considerable exertion and fatigue, they arrived at Columbo late on the
following evening.

On the following morning, the country presented itself in all the rich
tropical aspect of these regions. The whole road to Columbo pointed out
a fertile and luxuriant country, and was in itself admirably adapted
for travelling.

For my own part, the more I have seen of tropical countries, the
more I have everywhere been fascinated by their luxuriance, and
enjoyed the brilliancy of their skies. There is much to compensate
for the occasional oppression of the heat, which, after all, is less
troublesome or injurious than the chilling blasts of northern climes;
and, generally speaking, with proper _precaution_, it has been hardly
a question with myself whether the _average_ degree of health and
buoyancy of spirits is not far greater than in less favoured though
more hardy regions. Every day that passes is one in which you feel
that you really live, for every thing around you lives and thrives
so beautifully. Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten that, after
a few years spent in so relaxing a climate the constitution becomes
enfeebled, and is only to be restored by a visit to more bracing

Governor Mackenzie seemed to take much interest in the steamer, and
in her probable capabilities for the peculiar service likely to be
required of her in China; he had evidently made the subject his study,
and upon this, as upon other questions, evinced great intelligence.

Little need here be said about the island of Ceylon, which has been
recently so well described and treated of by able and well-informed
writers. The fine fortifications of Columbo, (the capital of the
island,) the governor's palace, the barracks and public offices, are
all worth seeing; indeed, it is to be regretted that arrangements have
not yet been made, by which the steamers from Calcutta to the Red Sea,
touching at Point de Galle, might allow some of their passengers,
instead of wasting the valuable time necessary for taking in fuel at
Point de Galle, to cross over to Columbo. The steamers might then, with
a very trifling additional expense, touch at Columbo to pick them up,
together with other passengers likely to be found there, now that the
overland route is daily becoming more frequented.

The most curious sight at Columbo is the little fleet of fishing-boats,
in the shape of long, narrow canoes, each made out of the single trunk
of a tree, with upper works rigged on to them, falling in in such a
way, that there is just sufficient room for a man's body to turn round.
They start off with the land-wind in the morning, and run out a long
distance to fish, returning again with the sea-breeze in the afternoon.
Both ends are made exactly alike, so that, instead of going about, they
have only to shift the large lug-sail, the mast being in the middle,
and it is quite indifferent which end of the boat goes foremost. To
counteract the natural tendency of so narrow a body to upset, two
slight long spars are run out at the side, connected at the outer ends
by a long and stout piece of wood, tapering at either extremity, not
unlike a narrow canoe; this acts as a lever to keep the boat upright,
and is generally rigged out upon the windward side. If the breeze
freshens, it is easy to send a man or two out upon it, as an additional
counterpoise by their weight, and there they sit, without any apparent

The healthiness of Ceylon is within the last few years greatly
improved, principally owing to the extensive clearing of land which
has taken place. The plantations of coffee having been found at one
time, as indeed they are still, to yield a very large profit, induced a
great number of persons to enter into the speculation. Land was readily
purchased from government as quickly as it could be obtained, at the
rate of five shillings an acre; and the result has been a considerable
increase in the exports of the island, as well as an amelioration of
its condition.

Coals, provisions, and stores of all kinds, were sent on board the
Nemesis with the utmost expedition, and, on the afternoon of the 14th
October, she was once more ready for sea. The public interest in the
events gradually growing up out of the negotiations which were then
being carried on with the Chinese had gradually been raised to a high
pitch, and a passage to China, to join the force as a volunteer, was
readily provided for the governor's son, Lieutenant Mackenzie. Crowds
of people gathered upon the shore in all directions to witness her
departure, and the discharge of a few signal-rockets as soon as it was
dark added a little additional novelty to the event.

Ten days sufficed to carry the Nemesis to the island of Penang, or
Prince of Wales's island. Her passage had been longer than might have
been expected, owing in a great measure to the badness of the coal,
which caked and clogged up the furnaces in such a way that, instead of
requiring to be cleaned out only once in about twenty-four hours, as
would have been the case with good coal, it was necessary to perform
this process no less than four times within the same period; added to
which, the enormous quantity of barnacles which adhered to her bottom
(a frequent source of annoyance before) greatly retarded her progress.

The island of Penang, which lies close upon the coast of the peninsula
of Malacca, from which it is separated by a channel scarcely more than
two miles broad, would seem to be a place particularly adapted for
steamers to touch at. Indeed, it has become a question of late whether
it should not be provided with a sort of government dockyard, for the
repair of the increased number of ships of war and transports, both
belonging to the service of government and the East India Company,
which will necessarily have to pass through the straits of Malacca, now
that our intercourse with China is so rapidly increasing. The harbour
is perfectly safe, the water at all times smooth; coals can easily be
stored there, and good wood can be obtained on the spot; moreover,
it lies directly in the track of ships, or very little out of it, as
they generally prefer passing on the Malacca side of the straits,
particularly during the south-west monsoon. The heavy squalls which
prevail on the opposite coast are so severe, that they have at length
taken its very name, and are called Sumatras. They are accompanied
with terrific lightning, which often does great mischief, and they are
justly looked upon with great dread.

Penang is very properly considered one of the loveliest spots in
the eastern world, considering its limited extent; and, from the
abundance and excellence of its spice productions, which come to
greater perfection in the straits than in any other part in which they
have been tried, (except, perhaps, in the island of Java,) this little
island has proved to be an extremely valuable possession. It abounds
in picturesque scenery, heightened by the lovely views of the opposite
coast of Malacca, called Province Wellesley, which also belongs to the
East India Company. The numerous and excellent roads, the hospitality
of the inhabitants, and the richness of the plain, or belt, which
lies between the high, wooded mountains in the rear, and the town
and harbour are, perhaps, unequalled. This plain, together with the
sides of some of the adjoining mountains, is covered with luxuriant
plantations of nutmegs, cocoa-nut-trees, and spice-trees of all kinds;
and altogether Penang is one of the most attractive, as it is also one
of the healthiest spots in the East. It has by some been even called
the "Gem of the Eastern seas." There is a fort not far from the fine,
covered jetty, or landing-place, of considerable strength; and, with
very moderate trouble and expense, there is little doubt that Penang
could be made a valuable naval depôt.

The short passage down the straits of Malacca, towards Singapore, was
easily performed in three days. But here again some detention was
inevitable. The north-east monsoon had already fairly set in, and as
vessels proceeding up the China Sea, at this season, would have the
wind directly against them, it was necessary that the steamer should
take in the greatest possible quantity of fuel she could carry, before
she could venture to leave Singapore. On this occasion, every spare
corner that could be found was filled with coal, and even the decks
were almost covered with coal-bags. By this means, she was enabled to
carry enough fuel for full fifteen days' consumption, or about one
hundred and seventy-five tons.

The small island of Singapore being situated just off the southern
extremity of the peninsula of Malacca, from which it is separated only
by a very narrow strait, must necessarily lie almost directly in the
track of all vessels passing up or down the straits of Malacca, either
to or from China, or any of the intermediate places. Being easy of
access to all the numerous half-civilized tribes and nations which
inhabit the islands of those seas, and within the influence of the
periodical winds or monsoons which, at certain seasons, embolden even
the Chinese, Siamese, and other nations to venture upon the distant
voyage, it is not surprising that in the space of a few years it should
have risen to a very high degree of importance as a commercial emporium.

The wisdom of the policy of Sir Stamford Raffles, in establishing a
free port in such an advantageous position, has been proved beyond all
previous anticipation. The perfect freedom of commercial intercourse,
without any restriction or charges of any kind, has given birth to
a yearly increasing commercial spirit among all the surrounding
nations. It is impossible to see the immense number of curious junks
and trading-vessels which arrive from all parts during the proper
season, without admiring the enterprising commercial spirit of all
those different tribes, and acknowledging the immense value to England
of similar distant outports, for the security and extension of her

The intercourse with Singapore has been rapidly increasing every year,
but especially since the commencement of the war in China. Of course,
all our ships of war and transports touch at so convenient a place,
where supplies of every description can easily be obtained, and where
every attention and kindness are shewn to strangers, both by the
authorities and by the resident merchants. Much credit is due to the
late governor, Mr. Bonham, for the intelligence and activity which he
exhibited, in everything that could in any way forward the objects of
the expedition, and for the readiness with which he endeavoured to meet
all the wishes of those who were concerned in it. His hospitality and
personal attention was acknowledged by all.

In some respects, Singapore forms a good introduction to a first
visit to China. It has a very large Chinese population, (not less
than 20,000,) to which yearly additions are made, on the arrival of
the large trading junks, in which they come down voluntarily to seek
employment. Hundreds of them arrive in the greatest destitution,
without even the means of paying the boat-hire to enable them to reach
the shore, until they are hired by some masters. They are the principal
mechanics and labourers of the town, and also act as household
servants, while many of them are employed in the cultivation of spices
and of sugar, or in clearing land. There is no kind of labour or
employment which a Chinaman will not readily undertake; and they appear
to succeed equally well in all, with the exception of tending sheep or
cattle, which is an occupation they are little fond of.

The town has something of a Chinese aspect, from the number of Chinamen
who are employed in every capacity; and the fruits and vegetables are
principally cultivated and brought to market by people of that nation.
In Java, Penang, and elsewhere, they are also to be met with in great
numbers; which is quite sufficient to prove (were proof wanting) how
much they are naturally disposed to become a colonizing people. There
is hardly any part of the world to which a Chinaman would refuse to
go, if led and managed by some of his own countrymen. But, wherever
they go, they carry the vice of _opium-smoking_ with them, and it is
needless to say that it thrives at Singapore to its fullest extent,
and that a large revenue is annually derived from the monopoly of the
sale of the drug.

The climate of Singapore is healthy, although the soil is wet, owing to
the constant rains; and the heat is, perhaps, never excessive, although
the place is situated only about seventy miles from the equator.

It might be expected that the recent opening of the new Chinese ports,
from some of which large trading junks have annually come down to
seek their cargoes at Singapore, would prove injurious to the future
trade of the latter, since it would no longer be necessary for the
Chinese to go abroad to seek for that which will now be brought to
them at their own doors. This apprehension, however, seems to be
little entertained on the spot, because there can be little doubt,
that whatever tends to augment the general foreign trade with China
must benefit Singapore, which lies on the highroad to it, to a greater
or less extent. Singapore has nothing to fear as regards its future
commercial prosperity, which is likely rather to increase than to
diminish, in consequence of the general increase of trade with China
and the neighbouring islands.

On the 4th of November, the Nemesis resumed her voyage, and passed the
little rocky island of Pedra Branca early on the following morning.
This dangerous and sometimes half-covered rock lies nearly in the
direct track for vessels proceeding up the China Sea; and on its
southern side are two dangerous ledges or reefs, running out from it to
the distance of more than a mile, which, at high water, can scarcely
be traced above the surface. On the opposite, or northern side, there
is deep water in not less than sixteen or seventeen fathoms, close
in to the rock; and, moreover, the tides in its neighbourhood are
very irregular, not only in point of time, but also in direction
and velocity. Nor are these the only dangers to be met with in this
locality. Hence it will readily appear that a lighthouse placed upon
Pedra Branca would be of essential utility to all navigators who have
occasion to pass up or down the China Sea. A ship leaving Singapore
for Hong-Kong, for instance, might then start at such an hour in the
evening as would enable her to make the light on Pedra Branca before
morning; by which means, her true position being ascertained, she
might stand on without fear of any danger. The expense of erecting the
lighthouse would not be great, as the elevation would only be moderate,
and the expense of maintaining it might be defrayed by levying a small
light-duty at Singapore upon all vessels passing up or down the China

It has been often suggested that this would be a most advantageous site
for the proposed monument to the memory of the distinguished Horsburgh,
to whom too much honour cannot be paid for his inestimable works, so
much relied on by all navigators who frequent the eastern seas. It
would be difficult to find a more advantageous or appropriate position,
for the best of all monuments to his fame, than this little, dangerous
island of Pedra Branca, situated as it is in the very centre of some of
his most valued researches; while the recent opening of the new ports
in China, and the possession of Hong-Kong, give an increased importance
to subjects connected with the navigation of those seas. There is not
a single vessel, either British or foreign, which traverses those
regions, which is not indebted to Horsburgh for the instructions which
render her voyage secure; and a lighthouse upon Pedra Branca would do
no less service to navigators than it would honour to the memory of

The Nemesis had now passed this rocky little island, and at once found
the full strength of the north-east monsoon blowing steadily against
her, so that "full steam" was necessary to enable her to proceed. On
the afternoon of the 16th, the high land of the Spanish possessions of
Luconia (better known by the name of the capital town, Manilla) came in
sight; and, on the following morning, the Nemesis passed very near the
port, but without venturing to enter it, on account of the delay which
it would cause, although fuel was already much wanted.

The appearance of the island was very striking. Bold, picturesque
mountains, fine woods, with here and there a few sugar plantations
extending along the valleys, and rich, green, cocoa-nut groves, to vary
the prospect--all these combined, or alternating with each other, made
the aspect of the island very attractive.

Unfortunately, no time could be spared to visit the interior of the
country, as the voyage had already been much protracted, and the
north-east monsoon was blowing directly against the vessel. Her
progress was therefore slow, and the want of fuel began to be much felt.

On the 24th, the Lieu-chew Islands came in sight; but these are not the
same islands which were visited by Capt. Basil Hall, whose descriptions
excited so much attention.[12]

At daylight on the following morning, the 25th of November, the Nemesis
steamed through the Typa anchorage, which lies opposite Macao, and
ran close in to the town, where the water is so shallow that none but
trading-boats can venture so far. The sudden appearance of so large and
mysterious-looking a vessel naturally excited the greatest astonishment
among all classes, both of the Portuguese and Chinese residents. The
saluting of the Portuguese flag, as she passed, sufficed to announce
that something unusual had happened; and crowds of people came down to
the Praya Grande, or Esplanade, to look at the first iron steamer which
had ever anchored in their quiet little bay. Her very light draught of
water seemed to them quite incompatible with her size; and even the
Portuguese governor was so much taken by surprise, that he sent off a
messenger expressly to the vessel, to warn her captain of the supposed
danger which he ran by venturing so close in shore. It is probable,
however, that his excellency was not quite satisfied with the near
approach of an armed steamer, within a short range of his own palace;
and, moreover, the firing of a salute, almost close under his windows,
had speedily frightened away the fair ladies who had been observed
crowding at all the windows with eager curiosity.

As soon as the first excitement had passed, Captain Hall waited upon
the governor, to assure him that he had come with the most peaceable
intentions, and to thank his excellency for the friendly warning he
had given, with respect to the safety of the vessel. At the same time,
he begged to inform his excellency, that he was already thoroughly
acquainted with the harbour and anchorage of Macao, from early
recollection of all those localities, as he had served as midshipman on
board the Lyra, during Lord Amherst's embassy to China, in 1816.

It was now ascertained that the English admiral, the Hon. George
Elliot, was at anchor with his fleet in Tongkoo roads, below the Bogue
forts; and, accordingly, the Nemesis proceeded to join the squadron,
after the delay of only a few hours. Her arrival was announced by the
salute to the admiral's flag, which was immediately returned by the
Melville, precisely as if the Nemesis had been a regular man-of-war.

The Nemesis now found herself in company with the three line-of-battle
ships, Wellesley, Melville, and Blenheim, together with H.M.S. Druid,
Herald, Modeste, Hyacinth, and the Jupiter troop-ship. Thus, then,
after all her toil and hardships, the gallant Nemesis had at length
reached the proud post towards which she had so long been struggling.
Her voyage from England had, indeed, been a long one, very nearly eight
months having elapsed since she bade adieu to Portsmouth. But her
trials had been many during that period. She had started in the worst
season of the year, and had encountered, throughout nearly the whole
voyage, unusual weather and unforeseen difficulties. She had happily
survived them all, and the efforts which had been already made to
enable her to earn for herself a name gave happy promise of her future

The excitement on board was general, now that she at length found her
_iron_ frame swinging, side by side, with the famed "wooden walls"
of England's glory; and the prospect of immediate service, in active
operations against the enemy, stimulated the exertions of every
individual. For some days, however, she was compelled to content
herself with the unwelcome operation of "coaling" in Tongkoo Bay.
In the meantime, the ships of war had sailed, leaving her to follow
them as soon as she could be got ready; and now, while this black and
tedious process is going on, we cannot be better employed than in
taking a short survey of the events which had immediately preceded
her arrival, and of the more important occurrences which led to such
momentous consequences.


[12] Captain Hall of the Nemesis was at that time serving as midshipman
under Capt. Basil Hall.


The abolition of the privileges of the East India Company in China, and
the difficulties which soon resulted therefrom, concerning the mode
of conducting our negotiations with the Chinese, will be remembered
by most readers; and, whatever part the questions arising out of the
trade in opium, may have _afterwards_ borne in the complication of
difficulties, there is little doubt that the first germ of them all
was developed at the moment when the general trade with China became
free. This freedom of trade, too, was forced upon the government and
the company in a great degree, by the competition of the American
interests; and by the fact, that British trade came to be carried on
partly under the American flag, and through American agency, because it
was prevented from being brought into fair competition in the market,
under the free protection of its own flag.

The unhappy death of the lamented Lord Napier, principally occasioned
by the ill treatment of the Chinese, and the mental vexation of
having been compelled to submit to the daily insults of the Chinese
authorities, in his attempts to carry out the orders of his government,
will be remembered with deep regret. With the nature of those orders
we have here nothing to do. No one can question Lord Napier's talent,
energy, and devotedness to the object of his mission.

The attempts of Captain Elliot, when he afterwards took upon himself
the duties of chief superintendent, to carry out the same instructions,
were scarcely less unfortunate. And finding, as he publicly stated,
that "the governor had declined to accede to the conditions involved in
the instructions which he had received from her majesty's government,
concerning the manner of his _intercourse_ with his Excellency," the
British flag was struck at the factories at Canton, on the 2nd of
December, 1837, and her majesty's principal superintendent retired to

During the year 1838, very serious and determined measures began to
be adopted by the Chinese authorities, directed generally against
the trade in opium; and imperial edicts threatened death as the
punishment, for both the dealers in, and the smokers of the drug.
Several unfortunate Chinese were executed in consequence. Attempts were
now made to execute the criminals in front of the foreign factories
along the river side, contrary to all former usage and public right. A
remonstrance followed, addressed to the governor, who, in reply, gave
them a sort of moral lecture, instead of a political lesson, and, then,
condescendingly admitted, that "foreigners, though born and brought up
beyond the pale of civilization, must yet have human hearts."

Nevertheless, in the following December, 1838, the insulting attempt
was again repeated, close under the American flag-staff, which was not
then placed, as it has since been, in an enclosure, surrounded with a
brick wall, and high paling. The flag was immediately hauled down by
the consul, in consequence of the preparations which were going on, for
the erection of the cross upon which the criminal was to be strangled.

At first, a few foreigners interfered, and, without violence, induced
the officers to desist from their proceedings. But, gradually, the
crowd increased, and, a Chinese mob, when excited, is fully as
unruly as an English one; and, thus, each imprudent act, as usual,
led to another. No Chinese authorities were at hand to control the
disturbance; stones began to fly in all directions; and the foreigners,
who, by this time, had come forward, to the aid of their brethren, were
at length, through the increasing numbers of the mob, fairly driven to
take refuge in the neighbouring factories. Here they were obliged to
barricade the doors and windows, many of which, were, nevertheless,
destroyed, and the buildings endangered, before a sufficient force
of Chinese soldiers had arrived to disperse the mob. In the evening,
however, quiet was perfectly restored.

In the meantime, the alarm had spread to Whampoa, whence Captain Elliot
set out, accompanied by about one hundred and twenty armed men, for
Canton, and arrived at the British factory late in the evening. Both
parties were now clearly placed in a false position, yet one which it
would have been very difficult to have avoided. During many preceding
months, the unfortunate Hong merchants had been in constant collision
with their own government on the one hand, and with the foreign
merchants, on the other. There was scarcely any species of indignity,
to which they were not exposed, and they were even threatened with
death itself. The Chinese government had daily become more overbearing
towards all foreigners; and its habitual cold and haughty tone had
grown into undisguised contempt and unqualified contumely. Their
treatment of Lord Napier had been considered on their part as a
_victory_; and their successful repulse of all Captain Elliot's
advances, was viewed by them as an evidence of their own power, and of
Great Britain's weakness.

It has been already stated in the first chapter, that Sir Frederick
Maitland, who had a short time previously paid a visit to China, in a
line of battle ship, had left those seas altogether, just before the
collision took place; and, in proportion as the foreigners were left
unprotected, so did the Chinese become more overbearing.

At the same time, it cannot be denied, that their determination
to put a stop, as far as possible, to the opium-trade, _was for
the time sincere_; though their measures might have been hasty and
unwarrantable. A few days after the preceding disturbance, Captain
Elliot distinctly ordered, that "all British owned schooners, or other
vessels, habitually, or occasionally engaged in the illicit opium
traffic, _within_ the Bocca Tigris, should remove before the expiration
of three days, and not again return within the Bocca Tigris, being so
engaged." And they were, at the same time, distinctly warned, that
if "any British subjects were feloniously to cause the death of any
Chinaman, in consequence of persisting in the trade within the Bocca
Tigris, he would be liable to capital punishment; that no owners of
such vessels, so engaged, would receive any assistance or interposition
from the British government, in case the Chinese government should
seize any of them; and, that all British subjects, employed in these
vessels, would be held responsible for any consequences which might
arise from forcible resistance offered to the Chinese government, in
the same manner as if such resistance were offered to their own or any
other government, in their own or in any foreign country."

So far Captain Elliot evinced considerable energy and determination;
but he, probably, had scarcely foreseen that the shrewd and wily
government of China would very soon put the question to him, "if you
can order the discontinuance of the traffic _within_ the Bocca Tigris,
why can you not also put an end to it _in the outer waters beyond the

As it seems scarcely possible to avoid all direct allusion to the
difficult question of the traffic in opium, I shall take this
opportunity of saying a few words upon this important subject. A
detailed account of its remarkable history, and of the vicissitudes
which attended it, both within and without the Chinese empire, would
afford matter of the greatest interest, but could hardly find a place
in this work.

In former times, as is well known, opium was admitted into China as
a drug, upon payment of duty; and, even the prohibition which was
ultimately laid upon it, was regarded by the Chinese themselves as a
mere dead letter. Indeed, precisely in proportion to the difficulty of
obtaining the drug, did the longing for it increase.

The great events which sprang out of this appetite of a whole nation
for "forbidden fruit," on the one hand, and of the _temptations_
held out to foreigners to furnish it to them, on the other, may be
considered as one of those momentous crises in a nation's history,
which seem almost pre-ordained, as stages or epochs to mark the world's

It is curious enough, that, at the very time when a _mercantile_
crisis was growing up at Canton, a _political_ intrigue, or, as it
might be called, a cabinet crisis, was breaking out at Pekin. In fact,
strange as it may appear, it is believed in China, upon tolerably
good authority, that there was actually a reform party struggling
to shew its head at Pekin, and, that the question of more extended
intercourse with foreigners, was quite as warmly discussed as that of
the prohibition of the import of opium, or of the export of silver.

Memorials were presented to the emperor on both sides of the question;
and his Majesty Taou-kwang, being old, and personally of feeble
character, halted for a time "between two opinions," alternately
yielding both to the one and to the other, until he at length settled
down into his old bigotry against _change_, and felt all the native
prejudices of a true son of Han, revive more strongly than ever within
his bosom.

But the question of the Opium-trade, or Opium laws, which for some
time had been almost a _party_ matter, like the corn laws in our own
country, became at length a question of interest and importance to the
whole nation, and was magnified in its relations by the very discussion
of the points which it involved.

It is said that the head of the reform party (if it can so be called)
in China was a Tartar lady, belonging to the emperor's court,
remarkable for her abilities no less than her personal attractions, and
possessed of certain very strong points of character, which made her
as much feared by some as she was loved by others. She was soon raised
even to the throne itself, as the emperor's wife, but lived only a few
years to enjoy her power. Her influence soon came to be felt throughout
the whole of that vast empire; it was the means of rewarding talent,
and of detecting inability. She seemed to possess, in a marked degree,
that intuitive discernment which sometimes bursts upon the female mind
as if by inspiration. The tone and energy of her character were in
advance of her age and of her country. She had many grateful friends,
but she had raised up for herself many bitter enemies; party feeling
ran high, and became at length too powerful even for an empress.

Gradually her influence diminished, the favour of the emperor declined,
her opponent again got the upper hand, and at length she pined away
under the effects of disappointment, and perhaps injustice, and died.
But her influence, so long as it lasted, was unbounded, and was felt
through every province.

Her principal adherents and dependents naturally lost their power
when that of their mistress was gone. The question of more extended
trade with foreigners was now again set aside; the old feelings of
bigotry and national pride resumed even more than their former vigour.
Opium at once became the instrument, but ostensibly PATRIOTISM became
the groundwork of their measures. The old national feeling against
foreigners throughout the empire was revived; and in the midst of it
all, as if ordained to hasten on the momentous crisis which waited
for its fulfilment, _the son of the emperor himself died in his very
palace, from the effects of the excessive use of opium._

Even before this unfortunate event, strong measures had began to
be adopted in some parts of the empire against the preparers and
smokers of the drug. As is usually the case when one party has become
victorious over another after a severe struggle, the course which
they advocate is followed up with even more than their former vigour.
When once the advocates of a severe compulsion for stopping the use
of opium, and with it the export of silver, had gained the upper hand
in the cabinet, measures of a very stringent kind were immediately
adopted, as if with the full determination of giving them a fair trial.

The evil had certainly reached a very high pitch; and from having been
formerly confined to the wealthier and more indolent classes, it spread
its deadly grasp among the lower grades, so that even _the lowest_ at
length came to be confirmed debauchees. Not that their fair earnings
could generally enable them to procure enough of so costly an article,
but because they were led to deprive themselves and their families of
other comforts, and even necessaries, in order to obtain the means of
gratifying their irresistible longing for the poison. Not unfrequently
was even crime itself committed in order to obtain the means; and the
opium shops, particularly in the maritime towns and villages, became
the last resort of all the thieves, vagabonds, gamblers, and bad
characters throughout the district.

The demand for opium, and consequently its price, increased remarkably,
and the numerous statements which have been published under this
head have not been by any means exaggerated. It penetrated the most
secret haunts, in proportion as the danger of using it more publicly
increased; and the more numerous were the edicts which were issued
against it, the greater did the craving for the forbidden luxury,
amounting almost to a national MANIA, go on increasing day by day. The
moral lectures of the emperor, which appeared in the Pekin Gazette,
were very pretty to read, but very futile in their effects. And if the
great despotic ruler over hundreds of millions of people, whose very
word was law, still found himself totally unable to exclude the drug
(even under the severest prohibitions) from his _own palace_, is it
to be wondered at that all his strongest measures should have totally
failed in withdrawing the mass of the nation from the temptation?

The enormous profits derived from the clandestine sale of opium induced
many of the Chinese to embark in it as a speculation, who neither used
it themselves, nor were habituated to any other commercial traffic.
Official men both smoked and _sold it_; hundreds of people gained
a livelihood by the manufacture or sale of opium-pipes, and other
apparatus connected with its use; and even the armed soldier often
carried an opium-pipe in his girdle, with the same unconcern as he did
the fan-case which is very commonly a part of his costume.

All this was going on throughout a great portion of the empire during
the time that the question of its legalization or of its sterner
prohibition was being so warmly debated at court, and discussed
throughout the country. But the general impression was, that the
importation of the drug would be legalized, and there was little
apprehension of the violent persecution which soon commenced.

Instead of the foreigners imposing upon them the barter of opium as a
condition of trade, it was the Chinese themselves who begged and prayed
that it might be supplied to them; who sought out the opium-selling
vessels at long distances, and were even then only permitted to receive
it by paying hard cash for it. So determined were the Chinese to
possess it at any cost, that they frequently were willing to purchase
it for _its own weight_ in silver, balanced fairly the one against
the other in the scales. Boats belonging to the Custom House engaged
in the traffic. The governor of Canton himself, Tang by name, was
known to have employed his own boat to fetch it; and so publicly and
undisguisedly was the traffic carried on, that a stipulated sum was
paid to the officers for every chest landed, precisely as if it had
been a bale of cotton or a box of glass.

It cannot be doubted, however, that after the death of the emperor's
son, public attention throughout the empire became more strongly than
ever directed to the increasing evils of the use and abuse of opium.
Many instances of its pernicious effects now rose to the recollection
of individuals who would otherwise have scarcely dwelt upon them. The
agitation of the question had indeed led to party feeling upon the
subject. The thunders of the emperor against foreigners began to take
effect; measures of a severer kind now began to be adopted; and the
reaction throughout the empire was almost universal. The shock had not
been expected, and it came upon them like an earthquake.

Yet the justice of it appeared evident to many, for the evils had been
concealed from none. It seemed as if all on a sudden the highroad to
official favour and distinction could be found solely through the
degree of energy shewn in ferreting out the lowest opium-smokers, and
in publicly giving up the very pipes which were used; indeed it has
been said that this enthusiasm was carried so far, that pipes were
actually _purchased_ for the purpose of giving them up to the officers,
as if it indicated a voluntary surrender of a vicious habit. These were
all displayed as emblems of victory, and the most zealous were the best
rewarded, while the government itself became astonished at its own
apparent success. It now thought itself irresistible, and despised the
foreigners more than ever.

A grand crisis was produced by these proceedings in the interior of
the country. _All traffic_ of an extensive kind became nearly stopped;
the prisons were filled with delinquents; and a great parade was made
of the "stern severity" of the government, on the one hand, and of the
obedient submission of the people, on the other. Yet, in spite of all
this public display, that traffic itself was in reality as flourishing
as ever, although perhaps it might have changed hands. Opium was more
eagerly sought after than before; the price of it rose in proportion;
and, precisely as had been predicted by the free trade or reform party
in Pekin, it was found impossible to prevent its introduction into the
country by the people themselves, even by the threat of death itself.
Fishermen carried with them a single ball, and made a large profit by
its sale; in short, the temptations and the profits were so large and
irresistible, that hundreds of modes were discovered for conveying it
from place to place, in spite of the penalties which awaited detection.
The beheading of a few men, and the imprisonment of others, did not
deter the mass; the delicious intoxication of the precious drug proved
far too attractive to be controlled by the horrors of death or torture.

The truth is, however specious the edicts and writings of the Chinese
may appear _on paper_, they are perfectly futile in reality, when the
will of the people and the absence of any early prejudice is opposed to
their accomplishment.

Without further pursuing a subject which, though deeply interesting,
has been already so much a matter of discussion, we may at once come
to the conclusion, that the passion of the Chinese for the pernicious
intoxication of opium, was the first link in the chain which was
destined to connect them at some future day with all the other families
of mankind. The abolition of the privileges of the East India Company
first opened the door for the _general_ trade of all foreign nations
upon an extended scale; but the trade in opium, which the Chinese
were determined to carry on, in spite of all opposition of their own
government, and with a full knowledge of the pernicious consequences
which resulted from it, was the _instrument_ by means of which the
haughty tone and the inapproachable reserve of their government were to
be at length overcome.

We now come to the period of the famous Commissioner Lin's appointment
to Canton. This was indeed the climax of all the perplexities. Lin
himself was the Robespierre, the terrorist, the reckless despot, who
represented a certain party in the empire, who conscientiously believed
that they could _terrify_ not only their own countrymen, but even
foreign nations, into patient submission to their will.

This singular man seems to have been composed of good and bad qualities
in equal proportions, but always of a violent kind. In any other
country than China, he would have been either distinguished as a
demagogue or branded as a tyrant, precisely as circumstances chanced to
lead him into a particular channel. He was reckless of consequences, so
long as he could carry out his will without control. He was violent,
yet not selfish; changeable, yet always clinging to his original views;
severe, and even cruel and inexorable, in the measures by which he
sought to gain his ends; yet, in reality, he is believed to have meant
well for his country, and to have had the interests and the wishes of
the emperor, his master, always at heart. He certainly believed that
he could control both the people under his own government, and the
foreigners who came into contact with them, _by force_; and his very
errors seem to have arisen from excess of zeal in the cause which he
adopted. His talent was unquestionable.

Lin became intoxicated with his own success (for the time, at all
events) in whatever he undertook; and expected all his orders to
be executed with the same energy and facility with which he gave
them utterance. It is said, moreover, that he procured a copy of
a remarkable work called a "Digest of Foreign Customs, Practices,
Manners," &c., in which bad deeds rather than good ones, and even
the names of individual merchants, were brought forward; and that he
studied this book with constant pleasure.

On the 10th of March, 1839, this redoubtable commissioner reached
Canton, having travelled with extraordinary speed from Pekin, whither
he had been called to receive his appointment at the hands of the
emperor himself; who is said to have even shed tears, as he parted with

He lost not a moment, upon his arrival at Canton, in setting all the
powerful energies of his mind to work, to devise means of accomplishing
his ends. He determined to endeavour to put a complete stop to the
traffic in opium, both on the part of his own people and on that of
foreigners; and his great aim was to "control, curb, and humble," the
foreign community generally.

From this time forth, it became very evident, that great and
complicated events must be looked for upon the political horizon.
Even Captain Elliot himself could hardly hope that his little star
of diplomacy could light the road to a solution of the difficulties,
without an ultimate resort to arms.

It is true, that for a brief interval previous to Lin's arrival,
the prospect seemed to brighten considerably. Captain Elliot had
partially succeeded in establishing direct official intercourse with
the governor of Canton; for it had been at length agreed, that all
sealed communications coming from the chief superintendent, should be
delivered into the hands of the governor, and the seal broken by him
only. This was a great point gained; and Elliot seems to have managed
it with considerable tact. Nevertheless, the correspondence could not
be said even now, to be carried on upon terms of "perfect equality;"
and even this concession was quite as much a matter of necessity to the
governor, as it was to Captain Elliot; for the cessation of intercourse
had been a source of equal embarrassment to them both.

This Governor Tang was a crafty, cringing, self-interested man; he
derived immense sums from opium, and his own son was said to be
employed in the clandestine traffic, against which, the father was
uttering severe denunciations, followed by severer persecutions.

Lin afterwards suspected, and, perhaps, even discovered his
delinquencies; and Tang became a willing and submissive instrument, if
not a cringing sycophant. But his day of punishment came at last.


It is worthy of notice that, just previous to the arrival of
Commissioner Lin at Canton, the opium-trade had received such a check,
that it might be said to have been for the time almost entirely
suspended. We have seen the strong measures taken by Captain Elliot
against it, which proved that he looked upon it with no favouring
eye; and, in short, at that time the opium vessels had left the
river altogether. But Lin was not a man to do things by halves. He
had formerly, when governor of a province, earned the character of
the people's friend; and he seemed now more determined still to win
the appellation of the foreigner's enemy. He had belonged to the
party opposed to the empress's influence, and, had she survived and
continued in power, he would never have been sent on so dangerous
a mission. But, when once the liberal party, and the advocates
for the legalization of the opium trade, upon the grounds of the
_impossibility_ of excluding it by prohibition, had been defeated, it
became almost a point of honour, certainly of pride with Lin, to shew
how successfully he could carry out the views of the high Chinese, or
exclusive party.

From the very moment of Lin's arrival, clothed with unlimited power,
his restless energy, and his quick penetrating eye, made every officer
of his government cower down before him. Indeed, there was hardly an
officer of the province, from the governor downwards, who did not feel
conscious of guilt, corruption, and peculation. From high to low, from
rich to poor, Lin determined that a reign of terror should commence.
He had lists prepared, containing observations upon the characters
of all the public officers, of the Hong merchants, and even of the
foreigners. He seemed determined to wage war with everybody. And, as a
proof that his intentions against the foreign community were anything
but conciliatory, within a few days after his arrival he sent round the
Hong merchants to the different factories, to ascertain, by intrigue
and persuasion, _what weapons the foreigners were in possession of_,
and what means they had at hand for their own immediate defence.

Having privately arranged all his plans, and, believing that the
foreigners were sleeping, Lin now ordered that all the opium in the
inner waters, and also in the store ships in the "_outer waters_,"
should be given up to the officers of his government; and that a bond
should be drawn up in "Chinese and foreign character, stating clearly
that the ships afterwards to arrive there shall never, to all eternity,
dare to bring any opium; or, if they did so, that their whole cargo
should be confiscated, and all their people put to death, [by _Chinese_
officers,] and, moreover, that they would willingly undergo it as the
penalty of their crime."

This proclamation certainly caused a little panic in Canton, and it
was precisely what the commissioner desired; and, the more the foreign
merchants seemed disposed to meet his excellency's views, as far as lay
in their power, so much the more did the demands of the commissioner
rise. Every concession on the part of Captain Elliot, or the merchants,
was to him a victory gained, and the forerunner of greater ones.
Threats thundered forth against the heads of the Hong merchants
rebounded in threats of all sorts, and alarming statements from them to
the foreigners.

There seems to be some reason for supposing that, in the commencement
of the business, it was intended by Lin that a certain compensation
should be granted to foreigners for the value of the opium
surrendered. Gradually, however, as he thought himself getting
stronger, this intention was quite lost sight of; and almost at the
same time an edict came out, forbidding all foreigners to apply for
permission to go down to Macao--in fact, preventing them from leaving
Canton or Whampoa.

At this period, not ten days had elapsed since Lin's arrival at
Canton, and there had not been sufficient time even to reply to his
proclamation, _only issued the preceding day_, respecting the opium
and the bond. Lin's impatience hurried on one event upon another, in
his headlong career; he issued orders, without waiting to see whether
his previous ones had been attended to. Whatever unfortunate results
may have ultimately sprung from his policy, it can never be questioned
that for the time his darling object was, not only to "humble the
foreigners," but to carry out, to the letter, the express directions of
his Emperor, which were delivered to him in these words:--"to scrub and
wash away the filth, and to cut up the opium-evil by the roots, and to
remove calamities from the people."

Within a few days after his arrival, we have seen that Lin was
embroiled with the whole foreign community; and, in the short space
of twenty-four hours, edicts appeared, as has been stated, commanding
the surrender of all the opium, whether strictly in the Chinese waters
or not; and placing under arrest every foreigner, both at Canton and
Whampoa, without alleging any grounds for the proceeding.

The drama was now fast spreading out into its different acts and
scenes. An agreement that one thousand chests should be delivered up,
only led to the demand for more, and _four_ thousand chests were then

Next, Mr. Dent, one of the principal merchants, was to be brought
before the commissioner _within_ the city; and, in order to save, as
he believed, the heads of some of the Hong merchants, he agreed that
he would go, provided that he should receive beforehand a safe-conduct
from the imperial commissioner himself, guaranteeing his safe return;
but upon any other condition he refused to put himself voluntarily in
his power. The reply to this was, "that, if he did not come of his
own free will, he should be dragged out of his house by force;" and
the threat was added, that, in that case, the high commissioner would
assuredly kill him.

A circular from Captain Elliot now required that "all ships belonging
to her Majesty's subjects at the outer anchorages should proceed at
once to Hong-Kong, since her Majesty's subjects were then detained
at Canton against their will." It will scarcely be credited, that at
this time the only British man-of-war in the Chinese waters was the
small sloop, the Larne. This was perfectly well known to the Chinese,
who, consequently, conceived themselves strong enough to proceed to
the highest degree of violence and indignity. And, when the Larne
afterwards went up to the Bogue, and demanded certain explanations of
the Admiral Kwan, (who, we have before seen, was on friendly terms
with Sir Frederick Maitland, on a previous occasion, when he visited
the Bogue in a _line-of-battle ship_,) the only answer that Kwan
condescended to give to the _little_ Larne was, "that she (or rather
her captain) ought to know her own weakness, and be reverentially
obedient, as Maitland had been before."

At the critical juncture I have above described, Captain Elliot
resolved to come up to the British factory in person, in a small open
boat, and, for a moment, our flag was again hoisted, when all were
virtually prisoners, whom the flag could not protect. He now declared
his intention of demanding passports for all her Majesty's subjects
within _ten days_--(should he not have demanded them _at once_?) but,
having no armed force that he could call to his aid, all he could do
was to say, "that, if they were refused for the period of three days
after his application, he should be forced into the conclusion that
British subjects were all to be violently detained as hostages, in
order that they might be intimidated into unworthy concessions."

Lin now had Elliot completely in his power, and was doubtless much
surprised himself at the success of all his schemes. At that moment,
neither the flag nor the guns of England could protect her people: they
were prisoners in their own halls; and it is a positive fact that,
for some time, the only chance of relief or protection which they had
to look to, was the expected arrival of two _American ships of war_,
which were known to be on their way out, having been applied for by the
consul of that country, upon the first appearance of the difficulties.

This was a grand opportunity for pushing their fortunes in that
quarter, which the Americans knew well how to profit by. In reality,
the whole foreign trade was for a time in jeopardy; but the Americans
profited precisely in proportion to the increase of our difficulties,
and their trade increased exactly as ours declined. The moment was an
advantageous one for proving to the Chinese that Americans were not
Englishmen; although they cleverly made them understand that they _had
been_ so once, but at last had conquered for themselves a name, a flag,
and a nation.

It has been said that, at a later period, an American merchant had more
than one interview with Lin, in which various suggestions were made as
to the measures to be adopted; but, whether they were of a favourable
or unfavourable nature to English interests, it is impossible to say
with confidence. The results of the conference were kept very secret.

Having secured all the foreigners within his grasp, Lin's next step
was to withdraw all the native servants from the factories, and to
forbid the sale of provisions to foreigners in any shape. Armed men
were posted on every side, to prevent any one from attempting to
escape, while the river was blockaded, and all the foreign boats which
could be found were drawn up high and dry on shore, or else destroyed.
In the meantime, however, no provisions were supplied by Lin himself;
consequently, the foreign prisoners were in a worse plight, in that
respect, than the actual malefactors in the cells of the public prisons
of the town; and his object was evidently to _starve_ them into
compliance with his wishes, if, indeed, he knew himself what the full
extent of his wishes really was.

Captain Elliot was now called upon to deliver up _all_ the opium,
wherever it might be found. And yet it was clear enough that Captain
Elliot could not possibly know _where_ all the opium was, or how much
it might be; and, having already agreed to the demand for, first, one
thousand, and then four thousand chests, it would clearly be necessary
to stipulate some quantity as a satisfactory equivalent for all.

Even in their present dilemma a more decided show of firmness, and
a threat of the retribution which would fall upon him hereafter
for his violent proceedings, might, possibly, have restored to the
commissioner some little portion of his reasonableness, if not his
reason. Nevertheless, as the whole community of foreigners (not the
English only) were now under a course of starvation and imprisonment,
and were in a degraded position in the eyes of all Chinamen, it is
difficult to say if any other course could have been adopted than the
one chosen by Captain Elliot. A bond was signed, under the influence
and by the compulsion of existing circumstances, by all the parties,
that they would not deal any more in opium; but they did not accede
to the penalty of death, &c. &c., which Lin had originally attempted
to impose. And, at the requisition of Captain Elliot, they agreed to
deliver up all the opium then in their _possession_, "for the service
of her Majesty's government."

The quantity of opium to be delivered was not stipulated at the time.
But, after returns had been very honourably and equitably sent to
Captain Elliot, it appeared that he could command the enormous quantity
of 20,283 chests; and he accordingly agreed that that immense number
should be delivered up to officers deputed by Lin to receive it. It was
also stipulated that, as soon as one-fourth should be given up, the
servants should be restored; that, after one-half had been delivered,
the passage-boats should run as usual down to Macao; that trade should
be opened as soon as three-fourths had been given up; and that, when
the whole of it had been surrendered, "things should go on as usual."

As yet scarcely three weeks had elapsed since Commissioner Lin had
come down, with this enormous power upon his shoulders; and yet it had
sufficed to enable him to effect this vast change in the relations
which existed between the Chinese and the foreign community, and to
astonish even his own countrymen by the energy and rashness of his

The commissioner was perfectly surprised at his own success, and
equally so at the enormous quantity of opium which Elliot declared
himself able to procure. But, in point of fact, there were not so many
as 20,000 chests of opium in the "_Chinese waters_" at that time,
although that amount was at last procured, for vessels were sent to a
distance even to seek for it, and to purchase it for Captain Elliot.
Some of it was lying at Manilla, whence it was brought over for the

The next step in Lin's political delinquency was, that he broke
the very agreement he had just made; and, instead of allowing the
passage-boats to pass down to Macao, as usual, as soon as one-half of
the stipulated number of chests had been surrendered, as agreed, he
selected the names of sixteen gentlemen out of the whole community, and
issued the strictest orders against _their_ departure; and directed
that every one of the passage-boats should be examined, to see if any
of these gentlemen were on board, and to prevent their escape.

Nevertheless, at this time the commissioner would seem to have had
some misgivings about the posture of affairs, and became at one time
inclined to recommend the "obedient" foreigners to the notice of the
Emperor, for the purpose of having some mark of favour conferred upon
them. This was thought to point at some kind of compensation for the
value of the opium surrendered, but nothing further was heard of it.

On the 21st of May, 1839, the last portion of the stipulated quantity
of 20,283 chests of opium was delivered up at the Bogue, where the
rest of it was stored, awaiting the Imperial pleasure. Many questions
arose as to how it was to be disposed of, but at last Lin himself hit
upon the clever expedient of destroying it by lime and oil, in pits
dug for the purpose, and then pouring the fluid compound into the sea.
Double guards were placed to prevent any of the drug from being stolen,
and death was to be the punishment of every delinquent. There were
checks and spies in all directions, and the process of destruction was
carried on with great parade. Nevertheless, it is believed that some of
it was purloined, both on shore and on its way from the ships to the
landing-place, where mandarin-boats and war-junks were collected in
great number.

As soon as possible after he had regained his liberty, Captain Elliot
sent intelligence of all these occurrences to Bombay, (for the
overland mail,) by a fast sailing vessel, hired expressly for the
purpose, called the Ariel; and, at the same time, H.M. sloop Larne
was despatched to Calcutta, to report them to the governor-general of
India. Consequently, there was then _not a single British ship of war_
of any description in the Chinese waters, for the protection of British
life and property. Luckily, the arrival soon afterwards of the American
ships of war, the Columbia and the John Adams, served to reassure the
drooping spirits of the whole foreign community.

Other acts of atrocity and bad faith had also been committed by the
Chinese authorities; but it is remarkable that Captain Elliot, whose
personal courage and natural ability have never been questioned,
seems to have entered no public protest, nor addressed any strong
remonstrance to the commissioner, either upon this subject, or upon
that of his own imprisonment, or rather confinement, at Canton.
The probability is, that he thought it useless to do so, unless he
were prepared to back his remonstrance by a demonstration of force.
Nevertheless, after the foreigners were released, he issued a notice
that all trade on the part of his countrymen with the Chinese should
be stopped. And this notice was repeated in still stronger terms after
the departure of the Larne; for he declared that "he saw no prospect
of such an arrangement of existing difficulties as to admit of British
ships proceeding within the Bocca Tigris, under the sanction of his
authority, until the opinion of her Majesty's government could be
made known to him." And at a later period, he thought it necessary to
warn all the merchants, (dated the 29th of July,) "that he had moved
her Majesty's and the Indian governments to forbid the admission of
tea and other produce from China into Great Britain and India, during
the existence of the preceding prohibition in Canton, unless their
manifests were signed in his presence."

The stoppage of the trade by Captain Elliot irritated Lin excessively.
It was turning the tables against himself, defeating him with his own
weapons; it savoured of presumption in his sight; and, moreover, it
materially diminished his revenue. It proved that, however bombastic
and ridiculous their professions of _indifference_ to the trade
of foreigners might be, they really stood very much in need of it
themselves, and, in fact, they felt the stoppage of it on our part
quite as much as we ever did on theirs. It made Lin actually spiteful;
he tried every art to induce the English to act _contrary_ to Elliot's
orders; and, subsequently, when he went down to Macao to see with his
own eyes what the Portuguese were about, he went so far as to make it
a matter of accusation against Elliot, that "he had _prevented_ the
merchant ships of his country from entering the port of Canton."

Such gross inconsistency, probably, was never before presented to
view in so short a period of time by any public man. Lin was, in fact,
completely at bay, and he, moreover, had probably heard by this time
that more than one British man-of war was expected. Nevertheless, he
by no means relaxed in his feelings of bitter hostility; he listened
to everything that was said or written against the English and against
opium; he so alarmed the Portuguese, as to make them expel all the
English, out of the town, (or, what is the same thing, he threatened
to attack the town if the English remained in it;) and he made them
prohibit the importation of opium, which had formerly been permitted
upon payment of duty; though, to this day, the traffic is continued
by them in full vigour at the outer anchorages, and in the Typa near
Macao, although it is prohibited to be landed at the town, under the
eye of the authorities. Nevertheless, a sufficient quantity of it is
brought into the town for local consumption.

Lin now appeared to have reached the pinnacle of his power. He
flattered himself that his schemes had been all successful; his power
appeared irresistible, because no effectual opposition to it had yet
been offered. The more concessions were made to him, the more exacting
he became; and having got the English out of Macao, and made the
Portuguese submissive to his will, he then assumed a very bland and
condescending tone.

In the interim, it was very evident that a storm of a new kind was
brewing, which was likely soon to burst upon his head. Moreover,
all the attempts he had made to control his own people failed; his
executions, his denunciations, and his moral lectures, were alike
unavailing. He gave the people a year, within which they were to break
off the habit by degrees, and to reform their manners; and, at the end
of that time, he vowed he would execute every man amongst them that
persisted in it. In the meantime, he hit upon the last and darling
expedient of every Chinese statesman and philosopher, that of making
men mutually responsible for each other. Thus the whole people were to
be divided into tens, as they were elsewhere in the days of Alfred the
Great, and each one of the party was to be made personally responsible
for the good behaviour of all the rest with whom he was associated.

Notwithstanding all these strong measures, urged with all the sincerity
of an enthusiast, they both failed at the time, and have failed ever
since to eradicate the evil. The demand for the drug increased with the
difficulty of procuring it; the indulgence became dearer owing to the
danger which attended it; and, after all that was said and done, opium
continued to be sought and enormously paid for. It was more generally
used than ever; and even attention became directed to the cultivation
of the poppy on Chinese soil, when the difficulty of procuring it from
abroad became more urgent.

Lin rose into high favour, for a time, with the Imperial court, as
might naturally be expected, and he was appointed governor of the
second province in the empire. But long before the time came for him
to remove to his new post, his star began to wane, his difficulties
increased, and ultimately his fall was as great as his rise had been

For several months, as I have before stated, no British ship of war
was present in the Chinese waters. It was in this interval--namely, in
the month of July, 1839--that the great difficulty arose which excited
so much attention at the time, and has done so since, arising out of
the death of a Chinaman, by name Lin Wiehe, at Hong-Kong, during an
affray with some British merchant seamen. This event was eagerly taken
advantage of by the commissioner to attempt to enforce certain claims
against the foreigners. Without entering into tedious details, many
of which are already well known, it will suffice to mention that the
man's death was really occasioned by a drunken row at a village near
Hong-Kong; that the commissioner, in accordance with what had formerly
been done on a similar occasion at Canton, demanded the surrender of
the _murderer_ to be tried by Chinese judges, and that Captain Elliot
denied the jurisdiction altogether; but, at the same time, he himself
preferred an indictment for murder against a seaman before a British
grand-jury at Hong-Kong, who ignored the bill. But several men were
ultimately found guilty of an assault only, and it appeared that one
party was just as much to blame as the other.

The commissioner then grew more angry than ever: he caused the few
English who still remained at Macao to be still further persecuted, and
it was only through the friendly assistance of individual Portuguese
families that they were enabled to obtain their daily food. The result
was, that the whole British community left the place, together with
Captain Elliot, and went to live on board the different merchant ships
in harbour.

Things could not remain long in such a state of embarrassment; and,
fortunately, on the 11th of September--that is, about three months
and a half after the Larne had left those seas--the Volage, under
Captain Smith, arrived. That gallant officer immediately perceived that
active steps of some kind must be taken, and he accordingly issued a
notice of blockade of the port of Canton, upon the ground "that the
regular supplies of food had been prohibited to her Majesty's subjects;
that the Chinese people had been ordered to fire upon and seize them
wherever they went; and that certain of her Majesty's subjects had been
actually cut off."

The immediate effect of this notice was to bring the Chinese, in some
measure, to their senses; their proclamations against Englishmen were
withdrawn--provisions were no longer prohibited; and, consequently,
Captain Smith very properly withdrew his notice of blockade.
Negotiations were entered into, and it was at length agreed that trade
should be resumed _outside_ the port of Canton.

Yet, all on a sudden, even this arrangement was violated by the
Chinese; and, on the 26th October, notice was issued that they now
required that ships should enter _within_ the port of Canton--that is,
within the Bocca Tigris. They repeated the demand for the murderer of
Lin Wiehe to be given up, and that a bond should be signed by all,
agreeing to be tried by _Chinese officers for offences declared by
them, before trial, to be capital_. If this mandate were not obeyed,
the whole of the foreign ships were to depart within three days, under
a threat of immediate destruction.

The whole fleet, therefore, was now recommended to anchor in Tongkoo
Bay, or Urmston's Harbour, which afterwards became the rendezvous of
all the ships of war.

It is not necessary here to enter into minute details; it will be
sufficient for the full understanding of the future operations to
state that difficulties continued to increase on both sides, without
much prospect of any solution. The Hyacinth having now arrived and
joined the Volage on the 29th October, these two vessels proceeded with
Captain Elliot to Chuenpee, some distance below the Bogue, to endeavour
to obtain from the commissioner some explicit declaration of his
intentions. On the 3rd of November they were attacked by the Chinese
admiral with twenty-nine sail of war-junks, which, of course, they soon
beat off: and thus occurred the first direct hostile encounter between
the armed forces of the two nations. War now became more than ever
inevitable. Yet, at the end of the following month, these two ships of
war were again compelled to proceed to the Bogue, in consequence of the
seizure of a British subject by the Chinese (not engaged in selling
opium) at the anchorage of Tongkoo Bay.

The blockade of the river and port of Canton was therefore renewed by
Captain Smith on the 15th January, 1840; but the gentleman who had
been seized, Mr. Gribble, was at once restored, and the blockade was
consequently raised.

Scarcely had this taken place, when down came to Macao a new Chinese
governor of that district, and issued a positive edict for the
immediate expulsion of all the English. Captain Smith, with becoming
spirit, instantly ordered the Hyacinth, Captain Warren, to proceed into
the inner harbour for the protection of his countrymen, which measure
seemed to give great umbrage to the Portuguese governor, Da Silveira
Pinto; and, in consequence of his representations, she was withdrawn on
the following morning.

Occasion was taken to make as much as possible out of this occurrence,
as if the Portuguese really possessed some authority in the place
beyond that over their own countrymen, and very futile appeals were
made to treaties with the Chinese government. After all, the utmost
that could be said of it was, that if it was a little deficient in
courtesy towards the Portuguese governor, the latter should have rather
volunteered his consent to it. Nevertheless, the energetic spirit which
it evinced undoubtedly tended to check the presumption of the Chinese
authorities, and thus far to give some little security to British
subjects. Captain Smith very properly put it upon the ground of its
strengthening the Portuguese governor's hands, which in reality it
did, and which that functionary stood greatly in need of. At the same
time, Captain Smith very laudably expressed a hope that the language in
which his Excellency would "demand the immediate removal of the Chinese
forces, _declaredly_ sent here to seize or destroy my countrymen, (to
the deep insult of the Portuguese crown,) will be not less stringent,
and as successful in its operation, as that in which your Excellency
has been pleased to order the withdrawal of the Hyacinth."

During the whole of this time, preparations were being made by the
Chinese for future operations in the Canton River; fireships were
prepared, guns collected, and troops exercised.

On the 24th March, 1840, the fine frigate the Druid, commanded by Lord
John Churchill, arrived off Macao, and thence proceeded to Tongkoo
Roads, a most welcome reinforcement. About this time, also, the Chinese
purchased the English merchant ship the Cambridge, intending to turn
her into a man-of-war, and built some strange-looking little schooners
upon a European model, with the view of employing them in some novel
way or other against the British ships.

It is said that, at one time, Commissioner Lin got up a sort of sham
fight at the Bogue, and dressed some of the assailants in red clothes,
in order to habituate the defenders to the sight of the colour of the
enemy's costume. Of course the red gentlemen were thoroughly beaten.
Matters had now proceeded so far, that it was impossible that any
solution of the enigma could be arrived at without speedy employment of
force. The success of their first measures, and the helpless condition
in which foreigners then found themselves, had emboldened the Chinese
beyond reason, and had fed their presumption even till it burst with
its own self-applause.

Lord John Churchill, who was now, of course, senior officer, unhappily
died, after a few weeks' illness, on the 3rd of June. Few days had
elapsed before the Chinese sent a number of fireships to endeavour
to destroy the English merchant-ships collected at the anchorage of
Capsingmoon, but they proved a complete failure.

The British naval force now rapidly gained accession to its strength.
The tidings of the events at Canton had spread to all parts of the
world. Preparations had been immediately commenced in England and
elsewhere for the coming contest. The Alligator, from New South Wales,
under Sir Gordon Bremer, arrived about this time, as also did the
Honourable Company's steamer, Madagascar, and likewise the Wellesley,
74, in which Sir Gordon Bremer hoisted his broad pendant; and, on the
28th of June, 1840, Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer established a blockade
of the port and river of Canton and all its entrances, by command of
her Majesty's government. Ships of war now continued to arrive as fast
as possible; the force in the Chinese waters was considerable; and,
within two or three days after the commencement of the blockade, the
chief command was assumed by Rear-Admiral the Honourable George Elliot,
who had just arrived in the Melville, 74.


It will be generally admitted by all who have seen the Canton river,
or, as the Chinese call it, Choo-keang, that, in point of size, depth,
and picturesque character, it is one of the finest navigable rivers in
the world. Merchant ships of the largest size, perhaps the proudest
which float, have navigated it for nearly two hundred years, to within
a distance of nine or ten miles from Canton, with little difficulty,
and very inconsiderable danger. No foreign commerce with any one
port has been so valuable, so extensive, or carried on with so much
facility. The difficulties of our intercourse, which have arisen within
the last few years, have formed an epoch in the world's history, and
stand forth as a leading beacon in the stream of time, pointing towards
greater eras yet to come.

An archipelago of numerous islands, most of them rocky, and only
partially productive, warns you of the approach to this celebrated
river. Strictly speaking, only that portion of it above the Bocca
Tigris has been called the river; while all below that point, even from
beyond Macao upwards, (the latter lying at the distance of from forty
to fifty miles from the Bogue forts,) has been called the outer waters;
nevertheless, it ought properly to be included within the precincts of
the river itself.

Since the questions connected with the opium-trade have been brought
so prominently forward, it has been maintained by some, that the
"outer waters" ought not properly to be considered within Chinese
jurisdiction. But this position would hardly seem to be tenable; and
there can be no sound reason for maintaining that these waters should
not be considered as much, and _even more_, within their jurisdiction
as the sea-coast or river islands of any part of Europe are within the
jurisdiction of the country to which they belong, to the distance of a
certain number of miles from the land itself. In reality, the little
peninsula of Macao on the west, and the island of Lintao (not to be
confounded with Lintin) on the east, may be considered as the proper
boundaries of the entrance to the Canton River.

These points are about fifteen to twenty miles apart, while between
them lie several small islands, through which are the two principal
navigable passages (the western and the Lintao passages) into the
river itself. But the island of Lintao, called Tyho by the Chinese,
is a long, narrow, mountainous piece of land, broken up into numerous
bays and projecting points, stretching from south-west to north-east,
separated at the latter extremity from the mainland only about the
distance of a mile. The passage and anchorage between them is called
Capsingmoon, and is made use of occasionally even by large vessels,
which pass towards the river or across from Macao towards the island of
Hong-Kong, which lies off the mainland at about five or six miles to
the eastward of Lintao.[13]

The anchorage of Tongkoo Bay, towards which the Nemesis was to proceed
to rejoin the fleet, and which is also known by the name of Urmston's
Harbour, from having been recommended by Sir James Urmston, formerly
President of the Company's factory at Canton, is situated about six
miles due north from Lintao, between the little islands called Tongkoo
and Sowchow, near the mainland, as you proceed upwards within the outer
waters of the Canton River, along its eastern shores. It was here that
the fleet anchored in 1823, in consequence of some discussions with
the Chinese, arising out of the affair of the Topaze frigate, which
occurred in the preceding year.[14]

About five miles distant from Tongkoo Bay, more towards the centre
of the river, and a little to the northward, is the small island of
Lintin, terminating in a very remarkable, high, conical peak, which
is a guide to all vessels passing up or down. It has become famous
as a place of rendezvous for the opium vessels, particularly within
the last few years; and a merchant brig, bearing its name, has been
recently sold to the Chinese as a man-of-war, though old and not very
serviceable. This island must not be confounded with that of Lintao,
before alluded to, and from which it is about eight or nine miles

Having now got fairly into Tongkoo Bay with the fleet, and feeling
something of the interest and excitement which were awakened in the
breasts of all who were brought together in such a place and at such a
time, we will next proceed to recount a few of the remarkable events
of the year 1840, reserving the description of the other parts of the
river for those portions of the narrative with which they are connected.

Towards the end of July, 1840, the British force assembled in China
had become considerable: comprising no less than three line-of-battle
ships, with a Rear-Admiral and a Commodore; thirteen other ships of
war, of different kinds, and a large troop-ship; together with four
armed steamers, belonging to the East India Company. To these must be
added twenty-seven transports, having on board the 18th, 26th, and
49th regiments, a body of Bengal volunteers, and a corps of Madras
sappers and miners. The marines and seamen were of course prepared
to co-operate on shore. This was undoubtedly a formidable force,
especially when we reflect that little more than a year had elapsed
since there was _no armed force whatever_ in the Chinese waters, and
the flag of England had ceased to wave even upon the Factories.

The measures adopted by the Governor-general of India, when once the
crisis had arrived, were sufficiently energetic and decisive. The
consequences of the rupture were now easily foreseen; and the interest
which the state of our relations with China had begun to awaken, both
in England and in India, was daily becoming more general.

On the first arrival of the large force mentioned below,[15] it did
not appear to alarm Commissioner Lin, and his obsequious satellite,
Governor Tang, nearly so much as might have been expected. On the
contrary, Lin continued to organize means of defence, to enlist
soldiers, and to arm his forts. It was, moreover, at this moment that
he hit upon his notable expedient of offering immense rewards for
the destruction, in any manner whatever, of British ships, either
men-of-war or merchant vessels, and also for the capture or slaughter
of British officers. But the reward for taking them alive was to be
greater than for killing them. There was also a reward for taking
soldiers or _merchants_, but only one-fifth of the sum if they were
killed. A reward was also to be given for the capture of _coloured
people_, soldiers, or servants, although its amount was not mentioned.

All this followed after the declaration of blockade by Sir Gordon
Bremer, and after a public complaint had been made by Captain Elliot
against Lin and Tang, for various treacherous acts, such as attacking
our vessels at night (merchant vessels), poisoning the water, and
preventing supplies of food from being brought to the factories, &c.

It was now very evident, that although no formal declaration of war
had been made on our part, it had become impossible to avoid warlike
operations on an extended scale, and at no distant time.

Rear-Admiral Elliot had now been associated with Captain Elliot in his
diplomatic functions, and they were nominated Joint-Plenipotentiaries
for settling the matters in dispute with the Emperor. That object
appeared little likely to be attained by wasting time in negotiations
with irresponsible and overbearing public officers at Canton; it was,
therefore, wisely resolved to take advantage of the best season of the
year while it still lasted, and to proceed northward with the bulk of
the force, in order to bring the emperor and his ministers to their
senses, by exciting alarm as near as possible to the imperial capital.
The Peiho river, therefore, which commands one of the great channels of
intercourse with the metropolis, and is connected with the Grand Canal,
through which all the wealth of China flows to Pekin, was now avowedly
the chief point to which the expedition was to be directed.

This movement was by no means a mere demonstration for the purpose of
giving éclat to the conduct of the negotiations, but was in reality
a _hostile_ operation; at all events, it became so as it proceeded,
and the results of it may, in reality, be called the First Campaign
in China. It was commonly called the first "China Expedition;" but
the appellation was afterwards changed to the "Eastern Expeditionary
force," which was also applied to the second expedition, as will be
afterwards seen.

A small force being left at the Bogue to maintain the blockade, the
bulk of the expedition, together with the two plenipotentiaries, sailed
to the northward at the end of June; part of the force above mentioned
did not arrive until after the rest had sailed, but it soon followed
the rest.

The first encounter with the Chinese took place at Amoy, in the
beginning of July, 1840. The Blonde, forty-four, Captain Bourchier,
was sent into the harbour of Amoy, to endeavour to hand over a letter
from the English naval commander-in-chief, addressed to the "Admiral
of the Chinese nation." This high officer was not there, and the local
mandarins refused to receive it, and fired upon a boat which was sent
to the beach bearing a flag of truce at the bow, and conveying Mr.
Thom, as interpreter, for the purpose of delivering the letter to the
mandarins, for transmission to the Chinese admiral. The officers and
crew of the boat had a narrow escape, for, besides being received with
every possible indignity, the boat was fired at and _struck_, while
preparations were evidently being made for an attack upon the frigate
itself. Indeed, nothing could possibly be more hostile and insulting
than the conduct of the Chinese officers, who met Mr. Thom at the
landing-place. They shewed some inclination even to seize the boat in
which he came, and declared they neither feared him nor the ship either.

The result of their hostile bearing and of the attack on the boat was,
that the guns of the Blonde were directed with terrific effect upon the
Chinese batteries and the war-junks, immediately the boat reached the
frigate. By this fire great damage was done, and the Chinese troops,
who had assembled on the beach, were dispersed in all directions.
Having inflicted this merited chastisement, as an example to the
Chinese, the Blonde again set sail to join the main body of the force,
in order to report the circumstances to the admiral.

On the 5th of July, the town of Tinghai, the capital of the island of
Chusan, the principal of the group of islands bearing that name, fell
to her Majesty's arms after a very slight resistance. But as this and
other operations to the northward, during this brief season, have been
well described by Lord Jocelyn, it will be sufficient merely to allude
to them in a cursory way, particularly as they were of minor importance
compared with subsequent events.

The failure of the attempt to deliver a letter from Lord Palmerston to
some of the authorities at Ningpo, to be transmitted to the cabinet
at Pekin, became a matter of serious importance, after what had taken
place at Amoy, and, in consequence, a blockade of the coast was
established from Ningpo to the mouth of the Yangtze River, the most
frequented and most commercial part of the whole sea-board of China.

Nothing was more likely to make a deep impression upon the Chinese
government than the stoppage of this valuable trade, upon which the
daily sustenance of a large part of the population of the interior
actually depended. The ultimate conclusion of peace, which was brought
about by the more active prosecution of these very measures, will be
sufficient to prove their wisdom at that time; and it is due to Captain
Elliot to mention, that the blockade of the Yangtze River was at all
times one of his most favourite projects.

About the middle of August, the bulk of the squadron arrived off the
mouth of the Peiho, below Tientsin, having been preceded two or three
days by Captain Elliot, on board the Madagascar steamer.[16] Lord
Palmerston's communication was there at length received, by an officer
deputed for that purpose by Keshen, the governor of the province, and
was forwarded to the emperor. Subsequently, a conference was held on
shore between Keshen and Captain Elliot; and, whatever the results may
otherwise have been, it is well known that the plenipotentiaries were
persuaded, by the ingenuity of Keshen, that the future negotiations
could be conducted with more satisfaction at Canton (provided a new
commissioner were sent down from Pekin for that express purpose) than
within a hundred miles of the emperor's palace.

In the meantime, however, while an answer was expected from the emperor
to the communication addressed to his ministers by Lord Palmerston, the
principal part of the squadron, which had come up to the Peiho, sailed
further northward, up the gulf of Petchelee, to the great wall of
China, which has so long been classed among the wonders of the world.
The effect of the emperor's answer, and of the negotiations with Keshen
was, that this squadron withdrew from the neighbourhood of the capital;
and Keshen himself was appointed Imperial Commissioner, to proceed
at once to Canton, to open negotiations with the plenipotentiaries.
He was to supersede Lin, whose course seemed almost run, and who was
ordered to Pekin in haste, to answer for his conduct. Nevertheless, he
was subsequently allowed to remain as viceroy, or governor, at Canton,
but never succeeded in obtaining the higher government which had been
previously promised to him elsewhere, in the heyday of his favour.

By the end of September, the squadron had returned to Chusan from
the Peiho. A truce was about this time announced and published at
Chusan; and a common impression prevailed that a general armistice
had been concluded at Tientsin with Keshen, pending the result of the
negotiations to be carried on at Canton. This, however, was soon found
to be erroneous; for, in a letter addressed to the merchants by Admiral
Elliot, in Tongkoo Bay, on the 26th of November, (the very day after
the Nemesis had reported her arrival to the admiral,) it was publicly
declared that "the truce had been only entered into with Elepoo, the
governor-general of that province [Che-keang], and did not extend
further." It must, however, have included the port of Ningpo, and other
parts of the coast of the mainland, within the limits of the governor's

The plenipotentiaries, Captain Elliot and the Honourable George Elliot,
returned to Macao on the 20th of November. It was on the following
day that The Queen steamer was fired at and hit, as she passed the
Chuenpee fort with a flag of truce. She had orders to proceed up to
the Bogue, to deliver a letter which had been entrusted to her captain
from "Elepoo," (probably concerning the truce he had concluded,)
addressed to the Imperial Commissioner Keshen at Canton. In return for
this attack, she threw a few shells and heavy shot into the fort, and
went back to Tongkoo Bay _re infectâ_. This was the second time a flag
of truce had been fired at, although the Chinese perfectly understood
the peaceful purpose which it denoted. The despatch, however, was
forwarded the same evening to Keshen at Canton, through the sub-prefect
of Macao, into whose hands it was delivered by Captain Elliot. It was
also reported that the commandant at Chuenpee sent up some of The
Queen's heavy shot, which had lodged in the fort, as a present to
the authorities at Canton, probably to shew how brave he had been to
withstand such weighty missiles. He did not lose the opportunity to
claim a victory for having _driven_ her off!

A heavy force was by this time collected at the mouth of the Canton
River, reinforced as it had been by the arrival of the Calliope and
Samarang, and also of the Nemesis, and by the addition of a fresh
regiment, the 37th Madras native infantry.

Keshen arrived at Canton on the 29th of November, and sent an
official notification to that effect to the plenipotentiaries; and
it is remarkable that, almost at the same moment, Admiral Elliot was
compelled to resign the command of the fleet, and also his duties as
joint-plenipotentiary, through sudden and severe illness. A few days
afterwards he embarked for England in the Volage, leaving Commodore Sir
Gordon Bremer as commander-in-chief, and Captain Elliot for the time as
again the sole plenipotentiary.

In order to render complete the general sketch of passing events to
the close of 1840, I must not omit to mention the gallant affair at
Macao under Captain Smith, commanding the Druid, which happened in the
month of August, at the period when the main body of the expedition was
engaged in the operations to the northward, already alluded to. It will
be remembered that Captain Smith had once before thought it necessary
to sail into the Inner Harbour, for the protection of British
subjects, but had retired upon a representation being made to him by
the Portuguese government.

In the month of August, however, strange rumours of a rather
threatening character began to prevail, but not of a very definite
kind. One of the principal Chinese officers of Macao had been absent
for some time at Canton, and, on his return, accompanied, or rather
followed, by a body of troops, it became very evident that some
hostile measure was in contemplation. A number of war-junks were
likewise collected in the Inner Harbour, having troops on board. A
considerable body of men were also encamped upon the narrow neck of
land which separates Macao from the mainland, and across which there is
a so-called Barrier, which forms the line of demarcation, beyond which
the Portuguese have no jurisdiction.

This Barrier is composed of a wall, with parapets and a ditch running
across the isthmus, and having a gateway, with a guard-house over
it, in the centre. Beyond the Barrier the Chinese had very recently
thrown up a flanking field-work, mounting about twelve guns, with a
view of protecting the rear of the Barrier from the attack of an enemy
attempting to land in boats. The war-junks were also placed so close in
shore, in the Inner Harbour, as to be able to protect the Barrier on
that side.

These movements were quite sufficient to prove that some attack was
actually contemplated upon Macao itself, and the result of it, if
successful, cannot be thought of without horror. But the promptitude
and energy of Captain Smith anticipated the designs of the Chinese,
and, by a most decisive and admirably combined movement, he soon
scattered the whole Chinese forces like chaff before the wind. Taking
with him the Larne and Hyacinth, with the Enterprise steamer and the
Louisa cutter, he sailed boldly up towards the Barrier, and ran in as
close as the shallowness of the water would permit. He then opened a
spirited fire upon the whole of the Chinese works and barracks, which
the Chinese returned. Their soldiers were seen mustering from different
points, for the defence of the position.

In the course of an hour, the firing of the Chinese was almost
silenced, and then a single gun was landed upon the beach, which raked
the Chinese position, while a small body of marines, under Lieutenant
Maxwell, with some small-arm men from the Druid, under Lieutenant
Goldsmith, and about two companies of Bengal volunteers, under Captain
Mee, altogether about three hundred and eighty men, landed, and drove
the Chinese, with considerable loss, from every one of their positions.
On the British side, four men only were wounded. The Chinese guns were
spiked, but none were carried away, and the whole of their troops
were dispersed, nor did they afterwards approach the Barrier, except
to carry off the spiked guns. The barracks and other buildings were
burned; and all our men having re-embarked late in the evening, the
vessels returned to their former anchorage in Macao roads.

Seldom has a more signal service been rendered in so short a space of
time, than this well-timed and energetic measure adopted by Captain

There still remain one or two points worth noticing, in order to
complete the series of events which happened in the year 1840.
Among these, one of the most important was the issuing of an Order
in Council, for the establishment of courts of admiralty in China,
for the adjudication of prizes, &c. It was to the effect that, "in
consideration of the _late injurious proceedings_ of certain officers
of the Emperor of China towards certain of our officers and subjects,
and, whereas, orders had been given that satisfaction and reparation
for the same should be demanded from the Chinese government, it was
necessary, for the purpose of enforcing those orders, that all vessels
and goods belonging to the Emperor of China or _his subjects_ should be
detained and brought into port; and that, in the event of reparation
and satisfaction being refused by the Chinese government, a court of
admiralty should be formed for the purpose of adjudging and condemning
them as prizes."

This order in council was not acted upon, except on a very limited
scale, and for a very brief period. It was afterwards considered more
equitable that the burden of the war should be made to fall as much
as possible upon the _government_ of China, and as little as possible
upon the people; and this highly judicious and humane determination was
carried out as much as possible, and with the best results, during all
the latter part of the war, much to the credit of all concerned.

During the year 1840, very little progress was made in our endeavours
to gain over the Chinese people to our interests, or to conciliate
their forbearance, in any of the places in which we were brought into
contact with them. At Chusan, in particular, they evinced the most
hostile spirit towards us, and lost no opportunity of exhibiting their
hatred of the foreigner. It was not without great difficulty even
that provisions could be obtained for our men; there was evidently
some secret influence which operated to prevent the people from
meeting us amicably, and made them, for some time, resist even the
temptation of gain, so difficult for a Chinaman to withstand. Nothing
tended to exhibit their hostile spirit so much as their persevering
attempts to carry off our men by stealth, whenever they could find an
opportunity; and indeed the kidnapping system was followed up with many
circumstances of barbarity, to the very close of the war.

This embittered our men very much against the Chinese, and we may
almost wonder that their prisoners, when they fell into our hands,
received such lenient treatment in return. The story is well known
of Captain Anstruther's capture at Chusan, at the distance of only
two or three miles from the town, his being tied up in a sack, and
subsequently carried over in a boat to Ningpo on the mainland, and the
curious history of his confinement in a bamboo cage, three feet long
by two feet broad; and other instances of a similar kind, in which the
prisoners were treated with the utmost barbarity, have been so often
recounted, that a passing allusion to them will here be sufficient.
Captain Anstruther, however, would seem to have been more leniently
treated than many of the other prisoners: and I have heard him declare
that, with respect to the better class of mandarins at Ningpo, he had
little cause of complaint to urge against them, considering that he
was a _prisoner_ in an enemy's hands. His talent for drawing, however,
enabled him to conciliate their good will, and to earn for himself some
indulgences which others were not fortunate enough to procure. He sold
his drawings and particularly his portraits, for a tolerable price.
Many of the other prisoners, however, were treated with frightful
barbarity, and, in some instances, they were put to death.

A much more formidable enemy to us than the Chinese was soon
discovered, in the terrible sickness which broke out among our troops
at Chusan, and carried off many a brave man prematurely to his grave.
The low, swampy rice-grounds surrounding the town, the want of proper
drainage, the exposure to the hot sun, and the use of the deleterious
spirit which the Chinese call samshoo, made from rice, (of which a
vast quantity was manufactured on the island for exportation,) all
these causes combined sufficed to produce fever, dysentery, and various
complaints, which committed great havoc among the men. The island was
subsequently, however, rendered less unhealthy by better arrangements,
and by enforcing greater cleanliness.

At Amoy, after the affair of the Blonde, a strict blockade was
maintained by the Alligator and other vessels, which interrupted the
whole trade of that important commercial city. But none of our ships
astonished and alarmed the Chinese so much as the steamers; they were
particularly alluded to in the official reports to the emperor, and
were described as "having wheels at their sides, which, revolving,
propelled them like the wind, enabling them to pass to and fro with
great rapidity, acting as leaders;" and it is not surprising that the
Chinese should soon have christened them the "Demon Ships."

The effect of our operations to the northward had already been to
excite great alarm in the mind of the emperor and of his ministers;
indeed the panic created by the first approach of a hostile force was
so great, that a very small body of men might have marched almost from
one end of China to the other, so little were the Chinese prepared for
resistance. But gradually they recovered their energy, improved their
means of defence, adopted better weapons, and cast heavier guns. As far
as personal bravery could aid them, they were by no means an enemy to
be despised. The spear and the bayonet frequently crossed each other;
perhaps more frequently than the bayonets of Europeans do; and, in
not a few instances, the _long_ spear was more than a match for the
shorter bayonet. Hand to hand encounters with the Tartar troops were
not uncommon towards the close of the war; and, indeed, many of our men
learnt, to their cost, that they had held the Chinese far too cheap.
Instances occurred in which the powerful Tartar soldier rushed within
the bayonet-guard of his opponent, and grappled with him for life or

We may now revert to the period of the arrival of the new Imperial
Commissioner Keshen at Canton, with a view to treat with the
plenipotentiaries, according to the terms agreed upon at the Pehio, as
before mentioned. His predecessor, Lin, whose fall had now commenced,
could not resist giving a parting warning to the people, against the
continuance of their pernicious habits; and he even assured them that,
if they still persisted, "they would assuredly, one and all of them, be

In the beginning of December the greater part of our naval forces
had again assembled below the Bogue, although a squadron was still
left to the northward. Notwithstanding that Keshen had arrived for
the ostensible purpose of inquiring into and settling all matters
in dispute, it was evident that the Chinese were making hostile
preparations, with a view to a very different mode of settlement of the
question. A feeling of uncertainty and apprehension prevailed, such as
generally precedes some great movement. The Chinese, on their side,
were collecting troops, and raising new works; while, on our side,
every precaution was taken, in case a resumption of hostilities should
be called for.

On the 13th, the Nemesis, which had been for some days at anchor with
the fleet, a few miles below Chuenpee, conveyed Captain Elliot down
to Macao, while the rest of the fleet moved nearer up towards the
Bogue, as if with the object of supporting the "negotiations" by a firm
display of power. Captain Elliot's stay at Macao was very short, and
from the increased activity of our preparations at the Bogue, it became
evident that the "negotiations" were not going on satisfactorily.

Numerous communications were passing between Macao and our fleet at the
Bogue; Captain Elliot himself went backwards and forwards several times
in the Nemesis, and the moment seemed fast approaching when some very
decided blow was to be struck.

The following description of the scene of operations will therefore
be found interesting. About twenty-two to twenty-five miles above
the island of Lintin, before described, and consequently about the
same distance above Tongkoo Bay, on the same side of the river, is a
projecting headland, about a mile and a quarter wide, distinguished
at a considerable distance by the high peak in which its summit
terminates. On either side of it there is a fine sandy beach, off which
there is a good anchorage. This is Chuenpee.

The hill, which is its principal feature, stands rather towards the
northern side of the promontory, and is divided into two conical
eminences, upon one of which there was a high building, resembling
a watch tower, which was now fortified, and formed a conspicuous
object as you ascend the river. At the bottom of the hill there were
a considerable stone battery and other works. The whole of these had
been very recently strengthened and extended. A line of entrenchment,
with mud batteries, had also been carried round the rear. Behind the
hill also, in an opening looking towards the north, or into Anson's
Bay, another small battery had been erected, with an enclosed space or
square for barracks, surrounded by a parapet wall.

The extent of these works was not properly known, until the attack upon
the place had commenced. It was generally believed that the promontory
and hill of Chuenpee were connected with the mainland, and it was not
until some time after the place was taken that the discovery was made,
as will presently be described, that Chuenpee was, in reality, _an

On the opposite or western side of the river, which is here about three
miles wide, is another smaller promontory, called Tycocktow, with a
line of strong batteries close along the shore, faced with granite:
This was also subsequently found to be an _island_. The whole of the
country which borders the river is mountainous and picturesque.

Returning again to the east side, about four to five miles above
Chuenpee, we come to the high hill and fortifications of Anunghoy, the
most important of the works at the Bogue. Between Chuenpee and Anunghoy
lies the beautiful bay called Anson's Bay, about two miles deep; on one
side of which it was at one time proposed to found an English town.
Anunghoy, like Chuenpee, was discovered to be also an _island_; and
that circumstance, as will be afterwards seen, was a source of great
anxiety to Keshen, who saw the consequent weakness of the position of
Anunghoy, and reported it to the emperor. In fact, our light squadron
might have probably gone up the river by the passage at the back of
Anunghoy, without passing through the Bogue at all. But these facts
were not then known.

The works at Anunghoy consisted of two very strong, heavy batteries,
built of excellent granite, and partly of the composition called
chunam. The masses of stone were afterwards found to be of immense
size, so much so, that it was no easy task to blow the works to pieces,
even after they were taken. The two principal batteries were connected
together by temporary works of recent construction; and according to
the usual Chinese practice, a semicircular wall was carried round the
rear of each fort along the side of the hill.

The breadth of the river from Anunghoy to the opposite side is from
two to three miles, being somewhat less than it is lower down between
Chuenpee and Tycocktow. But in the very middle of the river in this
part are two rocky islands, called North and South Wantung, of moderate
elevation, and also a smaller rock, scarcely visible at high water.
Hence there are two channels up the river, one on either side of these
islands, but that on the east side towards Anunghoy is the one which
had always been frequented by foreign ships, and was considered to be
the Bocca Tigris, or Bogue.

The passage on the western side of Wantung was not only not frequented
by Europeans, but not even known to be navigable, until our
preparations were made for the capture of the Bogue forts, when some of
our ships passed up on that side to the attack of North Wantung. The
true Bogue, or eastern passage, is only about three quarters of a mile
wide; the current, or rather the tide, is very rapid, on which account
ships generally prefer keeping rather near to the Anunghoy side. Of the
two islands called Wantung, the northern is the highest and largest,
lying quite opposite Anunghoy, and was very strongly fortified. South
Wantung, the smaller island, was not fortified by the Chinese, being
not considered by them of sufficient importance to require it. It lies
some distance lower down the river, and looking at their relative
positions, you would hardly suppose they were within effectual gun-shot
distance from each other. Such, however, was the case; and the Chinese
forts on North Wantung were shelled from South Wantung by a small
battery, constructed by a detachment of our troops in a single night,
being covered during their work principally by the Nemesis, which ran
close in shore for that purpose, being herself sheltered by the island.

Further to obstruct the passage up the Bogue, the Chinese had carried
an immense chain, or rather a double chain, across it, supported by
large rafts from one side to the other, one end of it being secured
at Anunghoy, and the other end being fastened into a rock near South
Wantung, which was nearly covered at high water. To complete the
account of these famous defences, it only remains to mention another
fort on the western side of the river, nearly opposite Wantung, which
was called Little Tycocktow, and was not of recent construction.
By the Chinese themselves, these extensive works were considered
impregnable, for they had not yet experienced the tremendous effect of
the concentrated fire of line-of-battle-ships.

Tiger Island can scarcely be said to form part of the Bocca Tigris;
it lies nearly two miles above Wantung; and, although there was a
considerable stone battery on its eastern side, it was not likely to
be of any service, and the Chinese wisely abandoned it, and removed
the guns. This island, however, is a remarkable feature in the general
aspect of the river, being in reality a high rocky mountain, cleft in
two at the top, and presenting to view several deep chasms on both
sides, yet clothed with verdure in some parts, while it is rudely
broken up in others. It is altogether a very peculiar object, although
it cannot be said to bear much resemblance to a tiger's head, from
which it takes its name.


[13] See map.

[14] Some of the sailors of the Topaze were attacked and wounded on
shore by the Chinese; and, in the scuffle, two Chinamen were killed.
Remonstrances followed on both sides; and at length the Chinese
demanded that two Englishmen should be delivered up to them for
punishment. This was refused, as might be expected; upon which the
Chinese authorities stopped the trade, and the fleet of merchant ships
withdrew from Whampoa, and came to anchor in Tongkoo roads, henceforth
called Urmston's Bay or Harbour.

     JULY AND AUGUST, 1840.

    Melville, 74, flag-ship, Rear-Admiral the Hon. George Elliot,
    C.B.; Captain the Hon. R. S. Dundas.

    Wellesley, 74, bearing the broad pendant of Commodore Sir J. J.
    Gordon Bremer, C.B.; Captain Thomas Maitland.

    Blenheim, 74, Sir H. S. Fleming Senhouse, K.C.B.

    Druid, 44, Capt. Smith.

    Blonde, 44, Capt. F. Bourchier.

    Volage, 28, Capt. G. Elliot.

    Conway, 28, Capt. C. D. Bethune.

    Alligator, 28, Capt. H. Kuper.

    Larne, 20, Capt. J. P. Blake.

    Hyacinth, 20, Capt. W. Warren.

    Modeste, 20, Capt. H. Eyres.

    Pylades, 20, Capt. T. V. Anson.

    Nimrod, 20, Capt. C. A. Barlow.

    Cruiser, 18, Capt. H. W. Giffard.

    Columbine, 18, Capt. T. J. Clarke.

    Algerine, 10, Capt. T. S. Mason.

    Rattlesnake, troop-ship, Brodie.

    _Hon. Company's armed Steamers._

    Queen, Mr. Warden.

    Madagascar, Mr. Dicey.

    Atalanta, Commander Rogers.

    Enterprise, Mr. West.

[16] She was afterwards accidentally destroyed by fire.

[17] See map.


The Imperial Commissioner Keshen now wisely resolved to gain as much
time as he could by negotiation; and seemed in the first instance to
have almost equalled his predecessor Lin, in his desire "to control the
foreigners, and to reduce them to submission." His conferences with
that functionary, who now remained at Canton as viceroy, were numerous
and confidential; but, instead of precipitating the crisis by mad
violence, he professed to trust rather to the "employment of _truth_
and the _utmost reason_" to attain his ends.

Keshen's cautiousness was at once shewn by the instructions which
he issued respecting the nature of the _white flag_, and by his
enjoining that for the future the troops were "not rashly to open their
artillery, without _first_ ascertaining what was the purpose of the
approach of any boat bearing such a flag." And, moreover, that "they
were not to _provoke_ hostilities, by being the first to fire on the
foreign ships, nor in their _desire for honours_ to endeavour to create
trouble." On his side, likewise, Captain Elliot was quite as anxious to
avoid a collision as Keshen himself; and thus affairs went on until the
close of the year, without any approach whatever to a solution of the
difficulties. Keshen exhibited a vast deal of tact and

    "---- _cunning_, which in fools supplies,
    And amply, too, the place of being wise."

Great as our force already was even at that period, it does not at
all seem to have intimidated Keshen, who appeared to gain courage as
he gained time. Indeed, it could hardly be expected that the ancient
barrier of Chinese pride and self-sufficiency would crumble down before
a single blow, however strong; and even the chief actor in the scene
himself hesitated long to strike, when he knew that it would make an
empire tremble.

But the great, the haughty, the mysterious China was at length destined
to open her portals to the resistless "barbarian." Among the important
personages who contributed indirectly to bring about this wonderful
result, perhaps not the least remarkable was the Empress herself,
to whom some allusion has already been made. Very little was heard
concerning her at the time, in remote parts of the world, and therefore
a few additional notices must be interesting. She must, indeed, have
been a person of no ordinary character, who could have raised herself,
by her talents and her fascinations, to a seat upon the throne of
the Emperor of China. Her early history is little recorded, but her
influence was secretly known and felt in almost every part of the
empire, even before she obtained the short-lived honours of an empress.

It is difficult to imagine how any woman, brought up in the subordinate
position which is alone allotted to the sex in China, with the
imperfect education which is there attainable, and with all the
prejudices of her early life, and the proud assumption of superiority
of the other sex to contend against, could have had imparted to her
the peculiar tone of character which she possessed. In her attempts
to reform and to improve, she never ceased to be _Chinese_; indeed,
she seems to have thought that to _restore_ what was fallen to decay
was the best kind of reform. She sought the removal of abuse, the
purification of public offices, and the improvement of the details of
administration throughout the country. Her influence became paramount;
and those who could not be gained by her arguments are said to have
been led by her fascinations.

The words of the Emperor's public eulogy of the Empress, after her
death, will in a measure point out this feature in her character.
He declared that "she was overflowing of kindness to all, lovely
and winning." She held control over the hearts of those about her,
not by dint of authority, but by gentleness and forbearance. "Her
intercourse," he added, "lightened for me the burden of government, and
the charms she spread around conciliated all hearts. And now I am alone
and sad."

In her choice of persons for high employment, the Empress possessed the
most valuable of all talents to those who are called upon to exercise
their power of selection--that of distinguishing not merely abstract
merit, but of discerning those less conspicuous qualities of the
mind which constitute _fitness_ for office and aptitude for public

The greatest influence of the Empress seems to have been exercised
about the years 1835 and 1836, and it was just at that period that the
question was so keenly debated, at court and elsewhere, whether opium
should be permitted, under certain modified regulations, or whether it
were possible to put an end to the traffic by force, and to _drive the
nation_ from its use by fear. This was evidently the commencement of a
new era in that country, for whatever might be the result of the debate
upon this important question in the Chinese cabinet, the effect of it
was to occasion the agitation of the subject throughout the empire.
Agitation in China!

But a spirit of change had now begun to tincture even the minds of
true Chinamen, and the amiable Empress herself became affected by, and
even in a measure encouraged, that movement. The vice-president of
the sacrificial board, by name Heu Naetze, and others, amongst whom
was reckoned also Keshen, belonged to the immediate favourites of the
Empress, and but for that high protection it is probable that Heu
Naetze would hardly have ventured to present his famous memorial in
favour of the legalization of the opium-trade.

His chief and most important argument was, not that it would be a good
thing in itself, but that it would be perfectly impossible to prevent
it by any means the government could adopt; and also that foreign
trade generally was of importance to China, from the revenue which it
produced, and the employment which it gave to the people. He shewed how
totally ineffectual every increase of punishment, even to death itself,
had proved, for the prevention of the practice, which, on the contrary,
had increased tenfold; and he then went on to make it evident that
"when opium was purchased secretly, it could only be exchanged with
silver; but that, if it were permitted to be bought openly, it would
be paid for in the productions of the country." And he cleverly adds:
"the dread of the laws is not so great among the people as the _love
of gain_, which unites them to all manner of crafty devices, so that
sometimes the law is rendered wholly ineffective." But he would still
prohibit all public officers, scholars, and soldiers, from using it,
under pain of instant dismissal from the public service.

It is known that the Empress received this recommendation with
particular favour, but the Emperor referred it for the consideration of
the crafty old Tang, the Governor of Canton, who was at the very time
deriving a large revenue from winking at the clandestine sale of the
drug. The answer of Tang and his colleagues was decidedly favourable
to the project. They declared that "_the circumstances of the times_
rendered a change in the regulations necessary." They openly admitted
that the payment of distinct duties would be far less onerous than
the payment of _bribes_; that the laws could then be administered,
and would be _respected_; and that the precious metals which were now
oozing out of the empire would then be retained in it. They even went
so far as to say that the _dignity_ of the government would by no means
be lowered by it; and they farther declared that the prohibition of the
luxury made it more eagerly sought for.

Here, then, was clearly another triumph on the Empress's side; and
those who were opposed to her principles feared it as such, and
redoubled their efforts to produce her fall. But the recommendation did
not even stop at that point; for it went so far as even to encourage
the cultivation and preparation of the poppy within the empire, in
order to exclude a portion of the foreign article from the market.

One might have supposed that the influences which were now at work to
produce a better state of foreign trade, backed by the countenance of
the Empress, and supported by the apparent neutrality of the Emperor,
would have sufficed to occasion some modification in the existing laws.

Keshen himself, who had what is called a long head, though in good
favour with the Empress, and influential in the country, seems to have
remained at that time neutral upon the question in agitation. Others,
however, shewed a bitter hostility to every change, but bitterest
of all to the whole race of foreigners. When they could no longer
argue with success against the principles of what might be called the
free-trade party, they raked up all the smouldering ashes of deadly
hostility to foreigners, because they were _not Chinese_, (however
estimable they might otherwise be,) and they appealed to an old saying
of the Emperor Kanghe, the grandfather of his present Majesty--namely,
"that there is cause for apprehension, lest, in centuries to come,
_China may be endangered by collision with the various nations of
the West, who come hither from beyond the seas_." Indeed, it is
well known that there prevailed in China a tradition to that effect;
and also another, "that China would be conquered by a woman, in time
to come." And so generally were these two predictions or traditions
remembered during the war, that the impression came to prevail among
many of the people that it would be useless to resist us, because we
were a people from the far west, and were ruled by a queen.

The two principal memorials on the opposite side of the question have
been pretty generally circulated; one being by Choo Tsun, a member of
council and of the Board of Rites, the other by Heu Kew, a censor of
the military department. They argued for the _dignity_ of the empire,
and the danger "of _instability_ in maintaining the laws." They called
for increased severity of the law itself, not only to _prevent_ the
exportation of _silver_, but to arrest the _enervation_ and destruction
of the people, and they openly declared their belief that the purpose
of the English was to weaken the people and to ruin the central land;
and they further appealed to all the "luminous admonitions" of the
emperors and others of olden days against the influence of foreigners.
Memorials also came in from many of the provinces, particularly those
along the coast, shewing that even the army had become contaminated
by opium, and that soldiers sent against the rebels in recent
seditions were found to have very little strength left, though their
numbers were large. In short, the whole of the memorialists on the
_anti-importation_ side argued to the effect that increased severity
could stop the use of opium, and therefore that it _ought_ to be
stopped, because it tended to enervate the people, and make them an
easy prey to the foreigner, while the quantity of silver exported
enriched the latter in proportion as it impoverished the former. Thus
the hatred of opium and detestation of the foreigner became very nearly

At length, when the Emperor's beloved son died from the effects of
opium in the imperial palace, then the grief of the Emperor, and the
conviction of the misery produced by the drug, worked upon his feelings
fully as much as upon his judgment. An attempt was made to place the
question upon _moral_ grounds; and the Emperor affected on a sudden to
weep for the misfortunes of the nation, and to lament the depravity of
his "dear children;" and his paternal heart, in the exuberance of its
benignity, determined to cut off all their heads, if they would not
mend their ways. Thus, by degrees, the reformation of morals became the
subject of agitation quite as much as the principles of trade had been
before. By this time, the influence of the Empress had quite declined.
She forgot that in making many friends she had made many influential
enemies. Neither her beauty nor her talents could save her, and she
fell rapidly from her pinnacle of power. She only lived to share
the Emperor's throne for about five or six years; a very short but
remarkable reign. She could not survive the loss of her power; and when
her opponents so completely recovered theirs, her proud spirit sunk
under the weight which pressed upon her.

Nothing could be more touching than the expressions of the Emperor,
published in the Pekin Gazette. He calls her a perfect pattern of
"filial piety;" and therefore bestows upon her the posthumous title of
the "perfectibility of filial obedience." It should be here remarked,
that what they call "filial piety" is the highest moral attribute in
the Chinese system of ethics.

The Empress died in the beginning of 1840, and was buried with great
pomp; the whole nation was ordered to go into mourning for a month,
and the public officers were not to shave their heads for one hundred
days, as a mark of their sorrow. Her death left the Emperor Taou-kwang
surrounded by troubles and dangers in his old age, with few about him
whom he could trust, and none to comfort him in his difficulties. She
left two or three young children. But he had six children by his former
wife, of whom nearly all, or, it is believed, more than half have died.

The Emperor was born on the 20th September, 1782, and is therefore
upwards of sixty-two years old. He ascended the throne in 1820. The
troubles and continual disturbances which have marked his reign, the
frequent rebellions and disorders which have long been the constant
theme of his animadversions in the Pekin Gazette, may perhaps be
considered less as the result of his own measures than as the marking
features of the present era in Chinese history. He ascended the throne
when disorders were almost at their height, and when a conspiracy had
already broken out in his father's palace. Indeed, he was expressly
selected by his father to be his successor, (although not the _eldest_,
but the second son,) because he had on a former occasion distinguished
himself by his energy and success in crushing a traitorous attempt
within the palace.

The Emperor appears to be an amiable but weak man, well intentioned
towards his people, sensible of the difficulties of his country, but,
at the same time, blinded and misinformed by the favourites about him,
and retaining too many early prejudices to be able thoroughly to cope
with all the difficulties which have from time to time beset him.

The next most important character who figured at the period which
has been already alluded to was Commissioner Lin, of whom so much
has been said. The principal features of his character have been
already delineated. He is described as having been stout in person,
with a vivacious but not unpleasant manner, unless highly excited;
with a keen, dark, penetrating eye, which seemed to indicate that he
could assume two opposite characters, according as it might suit his
interest or his ambition. He had a clear, distinct voice, and is said
to have rarely smiled. His countenance indicated a mind habituated to
care. In the course of his proceedings at Canton, he seems never to
have permitted himself to adopt the character of a "negotiator," but
invariably to have assumed that of a "dictator," which was more natural
to him. His word was law. He was not dismayed by sudden difficulties,
and appears to have been quite sincere in all his wishes to arrest
the progress of the evils he complained of, and to reform the morals
of the people. With this object, he closed all the gaming-houses at
Canton, which were as numerous as the opium-shops, or more so, and were
generally maintained in conjunction with the latter; so much do vices
court each other's company.

In reality, Lin feared the foreigners as much as he hated them. But
the intercourse he now had with them led him to value their knowledge
more highly, and probably he knew full well that knowledge is power.
He had portions of English works translated for his own use, such
as Thelwall's pamphlet against opium, Murray's geography, (parts,)
&c.; and he had in his employ three or four young Chinamen, who knew
something of English, and of English habits, having visited the
straits' settlements, and one of them the United States.

Lin was by no means wanting in energy to meet the great crisis which
he had contributed so much to produce. In addition to the enlisting of
troops, the preparation of defences, the casting of guns, building of
fire-vessels and gun-boats, &c., he directed that many passages of the
river should be blocked up with stones, and others staked across with

In short, Lin was a bold, uncompromising, and specious man. He tried to
console the Emperor, by assuring him that he was quite certain that,
along the northern coast, sickness and cold would carry off all the
barbarian forces, even if the want of food, and the exhaustion of their
powder and shot, did not reduce them to extremities; but he never once
alluded to any probability of being able to beat off the barbarians in
fair fight.

With regard to his successor, Keshen, his character will be better
developed as we proceed. But it is worth while here to remark, that
Keshen appears to have been one of the few about the court who began to
apprehend serious consequences from Lin's measures. He had always been
cautious in committing himself, and though no friend of the foreigners,
he had feared their power, and felt the weakness of his own country, as
well as the necessity of trying some other measures than those means
hitherto employed, to put a stop to the perpetual disturbances which
took place in several parts of the empire, and threatened rebellion
even within the capital.

Keshen was an astute courtier, a polished and well-mannered man,
and all those who were present at either of his two interviews with
Captain Elliot were struck with his courteous and gentlemanlike manner.
Although he made every preparation for resistance, he seems to have
thought he could gain more by diplomacy, and he resolved to take
advantage of the disposition for negotiation rather than dictation on
Captain Elliot's part, to play his cards with tact and cunning, in the
hope of gaining time. But he saw his weakness, and the impossibility
of contending with success against our forces, and, having distinctly
reported thereon to the Emperor, he was, of course, set down as a
coward, and, consequently, as a traitor. He had the boldness to tell
the Emperor the actual weakness of his strongest points of defence;
whereas, Lin only stated how much stronger they _would_ have been,
had the government made it a rule to have devoted ten per cent. of the
whole customs' revenue of Canton to the improvement of their means of
defence, the building of ships, and the casting of cannon.

In one thing, however, Lin and Keshen were both of a mind--namely,
as to the importance of the foreign trade of Canton to the imperial
revenue. They ventured to correct the Emperor's notion that the
customs' duties of Canton were "unimportant, and not worth a thought,"
by telling him that they "already" produced upwards of thirty millions
of taels, or ten millions sterling, and that, as the revenue of
Canton far _exceeded_ that of any other province, a portion of this
considerable sum, which was obtained _from_ foreigners, should have
been applied to defending themselves against _foreigners_.[18]

Much has at various times been said about Keshen's treachery and bad
faith. But it will be seen, as we proceed, that he was driven into
these acts by the distinct orders of the Emperor, and that keeping
faith with _us_ was to be viewed as treachery to his master. Indeed,
the severity of Keshen's punishment at the Emperor's hands proves not
so much how ill he served his master, as how unfortunate he was in
having a much more profound head than Lin, in being able to see farther
into futurity, and to catch the shadows of coming events; in short,
how much too far in advance of his countrymen he was, in being able
to appreciate their position in the face of the foreigner, and how
unfortunate in _presuming_ to attempt to ward off the dreaded blow by
timely concession.

Without anticipating further the remarkable points in Keshen's career,
which will be better developed as we proceed, we may now turn our
attention to the interesting events of the year 1841.

We have already seen that there was little probability, at the close
of 1840, of any satisfactory arrangement being made between Keshen and
Captain Elliot without a resort to arms. Accordingly, all preparations
were completed; and, the first week in January having passed without
any nearer prospect of a settlement, although repeated opportunities
had been given to Keshen to arrange matters amicably, as had been
proposed at the conference at Tientsin, orders were at length issued
for the immediate resumption of hostilities. The morning of the 7th of
January, 1841, was the period fixed on for the attack upon the forts
at Chuenpee and Tycocktow, being the lowest, or, in other words, the
first, you approach in ascending the river. The object was to reduce
the whole of the famous defences of the Bogue one after the other, and,
if necessary, to destroy them.

The plan of attack upon Chuenpee, and the forts on the opposite
side of the river at Tycocktow, was as follows, under the direction of
Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer, who, it will be remembered, had become
commander-in-chief upon the retirement of Rear-Admiral the Honourable
George Elliot, in consequence of severe illness. The troops, comprising
detachments of the 26th and 49th regiments, (the greater part of which
were with their head-quarters at Chusan,) under Major Johnstone, of
the 26th, together with the whole of the 37th Madras Native Infantry,
under Captain Duff, of that regiment, and a detachment of the Bengal
Volunteers, under Captain Bolton, were to embark on board the
Enterprise and Madagascar steamers by eight o'clock in the morning,
to be conveyed to the point of debarkation, which was selected about
two miles and a half below Chuenpee, to the southward, where they
were to be landed in boats. The Nemesis took on board a large portion
of the 37th. A battalion of royal marines, upwards of five hundred
strong, under Captain Ellis, were to be landed in the boats of their
respective ships; while a body of seamen, under Lieutenant Wilson, of
the Blenheim, were also to join the landing force. A small detachment
of the royal artillery was to be under the command of Captain Knowles,
R.A., having under him the Honourable C. Spencer; and one twenty-four
pounder howitzer, with two six-pounder guns, one from the Wellesley,
and one from the Melville, were to be landed, together with thirty
seamen, to be attached to them for the purpose of placing them in
position; also fifteen men from the Blenheim were to be employed in the
rocket and ammunition service.

In front of the Chinese entrenchments there was a ridge, by which,
in a manner they were commanded, and upon the crest of this the guns
were to be placed. While this was being done, strong covering parties
were to be pushed in advance, and to act according to circumstances,
waiting for the effect of the fire from the guns, as well as from the
ships, which were to be placed in the best positions for silencing the

The whole of the force on shore was under the command of Major Pratt,
of the Cameronians, and comprised altogether about one thousand five
hundred men.[19]

As regards the naval force engaged, it was ordered, that the Queen
and Nemesis steamers should proceed to take up a position within good
shelling distance, according as the depth of water would permit; and
at once to commence firing into the fort upon the summit of the hill.
Having rendered this post untenable, and having watched the advance
of the troops, which might be selected to take possession of it, they
were then immediately to attack the lower fort, along the shore near
the northern point, if it should not have been already abandoned or
carried. Meanwhile, the fire from the fort above, by this time expected
to be in possession of a portion of our troops, was also to be turned
in the same direction; and, when the enemy should be driven out, they
were to be "dealt with" by the remaining part of the troops.

The Madagascar and Enterprise steamers, as soon as they had landed
their troops, were to join the division under Captain (now Sir Thomas)
Herbert, in the Calliope, having with him, the Larne, Captain Blake,
and the Hyacinth, Captain Warren. They were directed to proceed to
attack the batteries, towards the northern extremity, as well as in
front, and to be prepared to proceed to capture some of the numerous
war-junks, which were seen at anchor at the bottom of Anson's Bay. The
two steamers above-mentioned, were also to hold themselves in readiness
to go alongside any ship that might chance to require their services.

Captain Belcher, of the Sulphur surveying vessel, was to take upon
himself the general charge of the steamers, in the first instance, so
far as concerned "the placing them in a position already ascertained
by him;" which, probably, referred to the position to be taken up for
shelling the upper fort, as well as to the point of debarkation for the

Such, then, was the plan of attack upon Chuenpee; that of Tycocktow
will follow better when the account of the Chuenpee action is completed.

The landing and re-embarkation of the forces was under the direction of
Lieutenant Symons, of the Wellesley, and the whole of it was conducted
with great regularity. The landing of any considerable body of troops
is always an exciting scene; but, now, for the first time in the
history of China, if we except the trifling affair at the barrier at
Macao, European troops were about to meet in battle the sons of the
"flowery nation," upon the very soil of the "Celestial Empire." Nor did
the Chinese shrink from the contest in the first instance, for they
had yet to learn the irresistible power of European warfare, and the
destructive efficacy of European weapons.

The leading troops were the royal marines and the royal artillery, the
guns being dragged along by the blue jackets. The road lay through a
winding valley for nearly the distance of a couple of miles, until it
led to a transverse ridge, from which, the whole of the Chinese works
could be viewed, consisting of a strong, entrenched camp, flanked by
small field-batteries of recent and hasty construction, and connected
with the Hill Fort above, by a high breastwork continued up the hill
towards it.

The object of the Chinese was evidently to protect the rear of the
fort, which was plainly the key of the position. In the rear of their
field-batteries were deep trenches for giving shelter to their men from
our shot, and the Chinese could be seen lining the works, and waving
their flags in defiance.

The guns of the royal artillery were soon in position upon the ridge,
and began firing with great precision into the entrenched camp; while
an advanced party of the royal marines, crossing the shoulder of the
hill to the right, drove the Chinese speedily from it; and, then,
descending into the valley beyond, came upon a second encampment, with
a small field-battery, which was soon cleared. A detachment of the 37th
M.N. Infantry had also been sent further round to the right of the
advance, where they encountered the Chinese in some force.

While all these operations were going on, The Queen and the Nemesis
steamers (the latter having first rapidly disembarked her portion of
the 37th, with the main body of the force) took up a position within
good shelling distance of the Hill Fort. The Nemesis, from her light
draught of water, was enabled to take up her station _inside_ The
Queen, and both vessels commenced throwing shell with great precision
into the fort, much to the astonishment of the Chinese, who were
unacquainted with this engine of destruction.

Captain Hall had on this occasion, as on several subsequent ones, the
able assistance, as a gunnery officer, of Mr. Crouch, one of the mates
of the Wellesley, who was permitted to serve for a time on board the

The Chinese could not long withstand the fire of the sixty-eight
pounder of The Queen, and the two thirty-two pounder pivot-guns of the
Nemesis, the shells from which could be seen bursting within the walls
of the fort.

At the same time, on the land-side, the principal entrenched camp
had by this time, been carried by the main body of the troops, and,
twenty-five minutes after the shelling of the fort had commenced, the
British flag was seen waving upon its top, and the firing ceased.
Major Pratt himself, with only two marines, had been the first to run
up the hill and reach the fort; upon which, the Chinese, seeing that
they were pressed behind as well as before, abandoned the fort in great
confusion, leaving Major Pratt and his followers in possession of this
most important position, upon which the British flag was hoisted by a
royal marine.

The Nemesis, as soon as this was perceived, hastened on to join the
ships of war, (the Calliope, Larne, and Hyacinth,) which had taken up
their positions, nearly within musket-shot of the lower batteries,
and were doing great execution. The works were however, constructed
of strong material, comprising large blocks of the composition called
chunam, very much resembling stone but less fragile. The Nemesis came
up just in time to pour in several discharges of grape and canister
from both the pivot-guns, and had then to witness one of the most
dreadful spectacles of war. The Chinese in the battery had already
been assailed by our troops from the fort above; and now, a party of
the royal marines, and the 37th M.N.I., which had previously cleared
the second camp in the valley behind, were seen coming round the hill,
ready to pounce upon them as they attempted to escape out of the fort.
The unfortunate men were thus hemmed in on all sides; and, being
unacquainted with the humane practice of modern warfare, of giving
and receiving quarter, they abandoned themselves to the most frantic

Now were to be seen some of those horrors of war which, when the
excitement of the moment is over, and the interest as well as danger of
strategic manoeuvres are at an end, none can remember without regret
and pain. The Chinese, not accepting quarter, though attempting to
escape, were cut up by the fire of our advancing troops; others, in
the faint hope of escaping what to them appeared certain death at the
hands of their victors, precipitated themselves recklessly from the top
of the battlements; numbers of them were now swimming in the river,
and not a few vainly _trying_ to swim, and sinking in the effort;
some few, however, perhaps a hundred, surrendered themselves to our
troops, and were soon afterwards released. Many of the poor fellows
were unavoidably shot by our troops, who were not only warmed with the
previous fighting, but exasperated because the Chinese had fired off
their matchlocks at them first, and then threw them away, as if to
ask for quarter; under these circumstances, it could not be wondered
at that they suffered. Some again barricaded themselves within the
houses of the fort, a last and desperate effort; and, as several of our
soldiers were wounded by their spears, death and destruction were the

The slaughter was great; nor could it be easily controlled when the men
were irritated by the protracted and _useless_ attacks which were made
upon them from behind walls and hiding-places, even _after_ the British
flag was hoisted. It is wonderful that the casualties among the men
were not more numerous.

The commandant of the fort was killed at the head of his men; and it
is related that his son, as soon as he found that his father was dead,
resolving not to survive him, and being unable to avenge his death,
jumped into the sea, in spite of all remonstrance, and was drowned.

Those who have witnessed the individual bravery, be it courage or be it
despair, frequently exhibited by the Chinese during the war, in almost
every encounter, will be slow to stamp them as a cowardly people,
however inefficient they may be as fighting men in armed bodies,
against European discipline and modern weapons.

The most painful of all the scenes on this occasion was that of the
bodies of men burnt perhaps to death when wounded.

It is well known that the bow and arrow is the favourite weapon of the
Tartar troops, upon the dexterous use of which they set the highest
claim to military distinction. The spear also, of various forms and
fashions, is a favourite weapon both of Tartars and Chinese; but the
matchlock, which in all respects very nearly resembles some of the old
European weapons of the same name, except that the bore is generally
somewhat smaller, is of much more modern introduction, and by no means
so much in favour with the Chinese; this is occasioned principally by
the danger arising from the use of the powder, in the careless way in
which they carry it. They have a pouch in front, fastened round the
body, and the powder is contained loose in a certain number of little
tubes inside the pouch, not rolled up like our cartridges.

Of course, every soldier has to carry a match or port-fire to ignite
the powder in the matchlock when loaded. Hence, when a poor fellow is
wounded and falls, the powder, which is very apt to run out of his
pouch over his clothes, is very likely to be ignited by his own match,
and in this way he may either be blown up at once, or else his clothes
may be ignited; indeed, it is not impossible that the match itself
may be sufficient to produce this effect. At Chuenpee, many bodies
were found after the action not only scorched, but completely burnt,
evidently from the ignition of the powder.

In one of the latest encounters during the war, at Chapoo, where a few
of the Tartars defended themselves so desperately in a house in which
they had taken refuge, they were seen stripping themselves altogether,
in order to escape the effect of the fire upon their combustible
clothes when the building was in flames; and many other instances of a
similar kind were noticed during the war.

With respect to the attack upon the fort at Tycocktow, on the opposite
side of the river, the Nemesis was not concerned in that part of the
operations of the 7th January. The force employed on that service
was placed under the orders of Captain Scott, of the Samarang, 26;
and consisted, in addition to that vessel, of the Druid, 44, Captain
Smith; the Modeste, 18, Commander Eyres; and Columbine, 16, Commander
Clarke. Captain Scott was directed to proceed to attack the forts upon
Tycocktow, and to dismantle them, spiking the guns, and destroying the
forts as much as possible; after which, he was to take up a convenient
position in reference to the expected operations against the proper
Bogue forts higher up.

Captain Scott led the way gallantly in the Samarang, without returning
the fire of the Chinese, until he dropped anchor within cable's length
of the middle of the fort. The Modeste, Druid, and Columbine came up
almost directly after, and then commenced the terrific thunder of
artillery, which soon sufficed to shatter the walls, and to make a
breach, through which the seamen and marines, which were landed from
the ships, soon carried the fort by storm. The Chinese fled in all
directions up the hill, but not without witnessing, to their cost, the
deadly effect of our musketry upon their confused bodies; nor did they
yield without shewing some instances of bold personal courage.

The attack was led by Lieutenant Bowers, first lieutenant of the
Samarang, who received a sabre cut across the knee; which shews that
the Chinese did not run away without first coming to close quarters;
their loss, however, was considerable. The guns in the fort were all
spiked, and then thrown into the sea; the magazines and other buildings
were set on fire, (the wounded having been first removed;) but it was
not thought necessary to pursue the Chinese further.

As soon as these operations had been completed, the whole of the party
which had landed, comprising the boats' crews of all the ships engaged,
returned on board. Part of them had proceeded to attack the northern
end of the fort, namely, those of the Druid and Columbine, and were
commanded by Lieutenant Goldsmith, (since promoted,) and great praise
was given to all the officers and men concerned, for their gallantry
and good conduct. The number of guns destroyed was twenty-five; those
which were captured at Chuenpee amounted altogether to sixty-six
pieces, of various calibre, including those in the entrenchments,
as well as those upon the upper and lower forts. Many of the guns,
however, were not mounted, shewing that the preparations for defence
had not been completed; some were only 6-pounders, but a great portion
of the remainder were about equal to our own 12-pounder guns. Of
course, they were all rendered unserviceable.

The operations of this day have not yet, however, been all described.
So far as relates to Chuenpee and Tycocktow, little remains to be
added, except that the killed and wounded, on the part of the land
force, on our side, amounted to thirty; and on that of the naval
force, to eight men and officers. But the destruction of the war-junks
in Anson's Bay also formed part of the feats of this day; and, as it
more particularly relates to the Nemesis, it shall be reserved for a
separate chapter.


[18] The imperial revenues scarcely formed a third of what was actually
paid in various ways!

                                                     Non-com. officers
                                                         and privates.
Royal artillery, under command of Captain Knowles, Royal artillery  33
Seamen, under lieutenant Wilson, of H.M.S. Blenheim                137
Detachments of the 26th and 49th regiments, under Major Johnstone,
    of the 20th regiment                                           104
Royal marine battalion, under Captain Ellis, of the Wellesley      504
37th Madras Native Infantry, under Captain Duff, 37th N. I.        607
Detachment of Bengal Volunteers, under Captain Bolton               76

Together with thirty seamen attached to the guns.

[20] In the official report of Captain Belcher, and on a subsequent
occasion, it is stated, by mistake, that Mr. Crouch was serving on
board The Queen. This active young officer well deserved the promotion
which he soon obtained. He was wounded at the close of the war, at


The total destruction of the Chinese squadron of war-junks, on the day
of the action of Chuenpee, (7th January,) under the orders of Admiral
Kwan, completed the discomfiture of the Chinese by sea and by land. The
engagement took place in Anson's Bay, which has already been described
as lying between Chuenpee and Anunghoy. The Nemesis here took a most
distinguished part; and some of the boats of the Calliope, Hyacinth,
Larne, Sulphur, and Starling, co-operated with her in the action,
in which Lieutenants Watson and Harrison, and other officers of the
Calliope and Larne, deservedly won their laurels.

At the bottom of Anson's Bay was the entrance of a small river, unknown
until now, having a small island at its mouth, somewhat on the Chuenpee
side. Within this, and in a measure protected by a sand-bar which ran
out from it, lay the Chinese fleet of about fifteen war-junks, moored
in a good position in shallow water, so as to prevent the near approach
of our ships. Directions had been given to Captain Herbert, of the
Calliope, to make arrangements for the attack of these war-junks,
as soon as the defences on Chuenpee should have fallen. The moment,
therefore, that it was perceived on board the Nemesis, as she ran up
towards the lower battery, and poured in her grape and canister, that
the upper fort had fallen, and that the lower one could not longer
hold out, she hastened, without a moment's delay, to the attack of the
enemy's squadron. Full steam was set on, without waiting to see what
other measures might be taken elsewhere to effect the object.

In her anxiety to secure the post of honour, the Nemesis rounded the
point of Chuenpee a little too close, and struck rather heavily upon
a rocky reef running out some distance from it, but upon which it
was thought that there was still water enough to enable her to float
safely. She did indeed pass over it, but not without striking; but her
iron frame did not _hang_ upon it as a wooden one would probably have
done, and she proceeded, without even stopping her engines. That the
force of the blow however was considerable, and would probably have
seriously damaged a wooden vessel, is shewn by the fact of her having
the outer paddle-ring of one of the wheels broken, together with two
of the long arms attached to it. It is evident that a blow which would
cause such injury to _iron_ would have done much more serious damage to

About this time, Captain Belcher, of the Sulphur, joined her, with two
of his ship's boats, anxious to partake of the honour of the affair. A
few of the Sulphur's seamen also came on board. As she pushed along,
she was also reinforced by Lieutenant Kellett, of the Starling, who
brought his gig, or whale-boat, and subsequently did good service.

As they approached the position in which the Chinese junks were drawn
up, it was easily perceived that it had been well chosen, with scarcely
more than five feet water round the vessels, and that, in fact, they
could not be attacked in front, except by boats. However, the Nemesis,
having the great advantage of drawing less than six feet water, was
able to approach near enough to bring her two 32-pounder pivot-guns
to bear within good range. Just at this moment also a large boat, or
pinnace, of the Larne, was observed, making its way round the outside
of the little island, with a view to cut off the junks in the rear.

The boldness of this manoeuvre, under the command of Lieutenant
Harrison, was much admired; and, indeed, the dashing way in which many
similar attacks were made on other occasions during the war took the
Chinese by surprise, and struck them with a wholesome terror, even
before they came to close quarters.

One of the most formidable engines of destruction which any vessel,
particularly a steamer, can make use of is the Congreve rocket, a most
terrible weapon when judiciously applied, especially where there are
combustible materials to act upon. The very first rocket fired from
the Nemesis[21] was seen to enter the large junk against which it was
directed, near that of the admiral, and almost the instant afterwards
it blew up with a terrific explosion, launching into eternity every
soul on board, and pouring forth its blaze like the mighty rush of fire
from a volcano. The instantaneous destruction of the huge body seemed
appalling to both sides engaged. The smoke, and flame, and thunder
of the explosion, with the broken fragments falling round, and even
portions of dissevered bodies scattering as they fell, were enough to
strike with awe, if not with fear, the stoutest heart that looked upon

It is related that, at the battle of the Nile, when the French
admiral's ship, L'Orient, blew up, both of the fiercely-fighting
foes paused in horror at the dreadful catastrophe, and neither side
renewed the fight for at least ten minutes afterwards. So here also,
although the explosion was far less violent, and the contending parties
comparatively trifling in number, and far less excited by the contest,
there was a momentary pause; the very suddenness of the catastrophe
added something to the awe and rejoicing, combined, which it excited.
The rocket had penetrated into the magazine of the junk, or had ignited
some of the loose powder too often scattered carelessly about the decks
by the Chinese gunners. They naturally felt that the same fate might
readily befall any of the other junks; and, after some discharges
of round shot had been thrown into the nearest junks, (four of them
were afterwards found lodged in the admiral's junk,) their crews were
observed endeavouring to escape on shore, some upon the little island,
and others upon Chuenpee; while, at the same time, the junks were all
cut away by those remaining on board, in order that they might drift on
shore, and enable the rest to escape.

The Chinese hauled down their colours on board their junks at about
half-past eleven, but continued firing afterwards. At about twelve
o'clock, the boats of the Nemesis, in company with the others which
were present, put off to board the junks. Only two of the smaller ones
succeeded in getting away up a small branch of the river, while two
more escaped for the moment up another principal branch to a large
town, but were subsequently captured.

Some of the junks drifted on shore; and, as there could be no utility
in saving them, they were all successively set on fire, by order of
Captain Belcher, and ultimately blew up. In some of the junks which
were not yet quite abandoned by their crews, the poor Chinamen, as
the English sailors boarded them on one side, rushed wildly over
on the opposite one, or let themselves down by the stern chains,
clinging to the ship's rudder. Others, as the fire gained upon their
junk, retreated before it, and continued hanging to the yet untouched
portions of it, until the flames advancing upon them rapidly, they were
obliged to throw water _over their own bodies_ to enable them to bear
the intense heat, still desperately clinging to their fate, more from
fear of ill-treatment, if they should be taken prisoners, than from any
rational hope of being saved. In many instances they _would not_ be
saved; in others, they _could not_, and were destroyed as their junk
blew up.

On the following day, the principal part of the guns were recovered,
altogether upwards of eighty in number, of which eight or ten were
handsome brass Portuguese guns, 6, 9, and 12-pounders.

Altogether, eleven junks were destroyed on the spot. Scarcely had this
duty been completed by the different boats engaged, when the Nemesis
hastened on up the river, and at the distance of about three miles,
came upon a large town, where she found two war-junks moored close to
the shore, but abandoned by their crews. The consternation of the
people was extreme; they were seen running away from the town in all
directions; the surrounding hills were crowded with the anxious and
astonished gazers, wondering what was going to happen next; never, of
course, having either seen or heard of a "devil ship" before, and well
knowing that her visit could only be a hostile one. It was enough that
they had already heard of the total destruction of their fleet at the
river's mouth. The place was not at all fortified, not a shot being
fired on either side.

The tide was now beginning to fall, and as the water was not deep,
and the bar would soon become impassable, and the day was already far
advanced, it was thought better to return without exploring the river
higher up. Accordingly, taking in tow the two junks, the Nemesis again
descended the river; but one of the junks getting aground on the bar at
the entrance, was obliged to be left behind, while the other was taken
safely down, and soon after five P.M., the Nemesis joined the squadron
off Chuenpee, and received the thanks of the commodore for the services
she had rendered during the day. She had received no important damage,
the paddle-box only having been injured by a well-directed shot from
one of the junks.

It must have been a fine sight for the troops who were in possession
of Chuenpee, to witness from the top of the hill the encounter with,
and total destruction of, this fleet; the numerous burning masses,
and the loud explosions as they blew up; with the boats pulling about
among them, lighted by the glare of the fires. All this, added to the
excitement which always attends the being a looker-on while others are
actors in deeds of danger, must have formed a most animating spectacle.
The scenery about Anson's Bay is moreover bold and picturesque, and the
limited space in which the affair took place, must have added something
to the interest it awakened.

To the Chinese this had been, in all respects, a most disastrous day.
Their stone walls and their wooden walls had been alike destroyed; and,
although they might before have dreaded us by sea, they had never until
now had an opportunity of testing the power of Europeans on land.

On this day, the 7th of January, 1841, the native Indian troops and
the Royal Marines constituted considerably more than two-thirds of the
whole force employed on shore.

The loss of many hundred killed and wounded on the Chinese side, with
something less than forty wounded and none killed on our side, shews
rather that the Chinese were deficient in proper weapons to match their
foes, than wanting in personal bravery to meet them in the fight; and,
as they were not yet acquainted with the European mode of sparing
an unresisting enemy, they suffered great loss from unsupported and
useless resistance, when timely submission would have saved many
lives. They exasperated our troops without a chance of benefiting

The Chinese admiral, the fine old Kwan, lost the red ball or button of
his cap, the emblem of his rank, during the encounter with the junks.
It was reported that he wished to meet his death at the hands of his
foe, and was with some difficulty borne off by his attendants; but
this fate was reserved for him on a future occasion, and he shewed
himself a chivalrous and brave man. The loss of his ball or button,
which has certain marks upon it which probably indicate that it is
conferred by imperial favour as an emblem of rank, seemed naturally to
occasion him the greatest possible anxiety and trouble. He, in fact,
made application for it to be returned to him, if it chanced to have
been found; and it is gratifying to know that, through the intervention
of Captain Elliot, her majesty's plenipotentiary, it was recovered and
generously restored to him.

The total number of guns taken or rendered unserviceable during the
operations of this day, ashore and afloat, amounted to one hundred and
seventy-three pieces, including eighty-two in the junks, of which a few
were brass, but mostly of small calibre.

The junks with which the Nemesis was engaged in Anson's Bay were
provided with quite a new sort of boarding-nettings, if they can be so
called. Probably old Admiral Kwan, whose reputation as a seaman was not
very great, had heard that English ships of war were sometimes provided
with nets when going into action; and, therefore, without knowing very
well what might be the purpose of them, he determined to have them
likewise. But he made a sad mistake concerning the object for which
they were intended. He very naturally thought, that, in the position
which he had taken up in shallow water, only the boats of the squadron
could come close to him, and he hit upon the bright notion of trying
to _catch them_ with his nets, just as a poacher catches his sleeping
game by throwing a net over them. A number of strong fishing-nets were
fastened all round the sides of the junks, not extended so as to impede
any one trying to get on board, but triced up outside over each of the
guns, in such a way, that, when our boats should come alongside, the
nets were to be thrown over them, men and all; and thus our jolly tars
were to be caught like hares in their form, and handed over to the
tender mercies of the emperor.

No sooner, however, did the guns of the Nemesis open fire, than the
nets were all forgotten in their fear of the shot and the rockets;
and, long before the boats could get alongside, the defenders and
men-catchers were glad to be off, to avoid being themselves caught.

A more unwieldy-looking machine, or one less calculated for efficient
service at sea, than the old-fashioned junks, can scarcely be
conceived. Although, since the commencement of the war, they have
gradually improved them very much in the fashion of the hull, the masts
and sails, and all that appertains to the rigging of a vessel, are very
little different from what they have hitherto been.

It should be noticed, that the boats and smaller rigged vessels of
the Chinese are generally very much superior to their large junks in
form and convenience of arrangement, and often sail very well. The
family to whom the boat belongs lives entirely on board, and, for the
combined purposes for which their boats are generally used, perhaps no
arrangement could be better adapted for making the most of a limited
space; and they are, moreover, kept remarkably clean.

The war-junks are of different sizes, and have guns varying in number
from four to fourteen, and even more, mounted upon them, of various
calibre, some of foreign make, but principally Chinese. The smaller
junks are also adapted for oars or sweeps, of which they sometimes can
work as many as twenty on either side. The crew are further provided
with a great number of spears, swords, matchlocks, and frequently
large jingals, not unlike our musquetoons, fitted with a rest upon the
bulwarks of the vessel, so as to give the power of taking a steady aim.
There are generally a large number of round shields on board, made
in a saucer-like fashion, and about two and a half to three feet in
diameter. They are composed of ratans, or canes, strongly twisted or
woven in together, and are so elastic, that it would be very difficult
to cut through them with a sword; and even a musket-ball fired from a
long distance, and hitting them at all in a slanting direction, would
be turned off. They are usually hung all round the bulwarks, resting
upon the top and outside of them, giving a very striking appearance.

A large junk puts one very much in mind of one of the old Roman
galleys, only it is less efficiently constructed for venturing away
from land, and is not unfrequently gaudily ornamented with green and
yellow colours.

Several improvements have been adopted by the Chinese since the
commencement of the war. They had constructed a number of gun-boats
for the defence of the river higher up, upon European models; and,
towards the close of the war, they built one or two large junks, which
they called frigates, with great improvements in shape and general
arrangement, and regular port-holes for the guns on the deck below,
and with heavy guns, too, mounted in them. One of these we saw near
the Bogue, after the peace, mounting thirty-six guns, all of foreign
manufacture, many of them 9 and 12-pounder iron guns, made by Fawcett,
of Liverpool, and purchased either at Macao or at Singapore. The junk
was very clean, and in good order, painted green, and coppered; and,
with the exception of the masts and sails, which were in the old style,
she looked very well. This vessel was said to have been constructed
by order of Tinqua, one of the Hong merchants, who has distinguished
himself by his zeal in defence of his country; and it was by him
presented to the emperor, together with a European barque, and a brig,
rather the worse for wear in the merchant service, which he purchased
at considerable cost.

But the most remarkable improvement of all, and which shewed the rapid
stride towards a great change which they were daily making, as well as
the ingenuity of the Chinese character, was the construction of several
large _wheeled_ vessels, which were afterwards brought forward against
us with great confidence, at the engagement at Woosung, the last naval
affair of the war, and were each commanded by a mandarin of rank,
shewing the importance they attached to their new vessels. This, too,
was so far north as the Yangtze Keang, where we had never traded with
them; so that the idea must have been suggested to them by the reports
they received concerning the wonderful power of our steamers or wheeled

To anticipate a little, it may here be mentioned, that the vessels had
wooden wheels, very like an undershot mill-wheel, which were moved by
machinery inside the vessel, worked by a sort of capstan by manual
labour, the crew walking it round and round, just like walking up an
anchor on board a man-of-war; the horizontal revolution was turned into
the upright one by strong wooden _cog-wheels_, upon regular mechanical

When once the spirit of change and improvement has taken hold of the
Chinese, it is impossible to say where it will stop among so ingenious
and indefatigable a people. Even the emperor himself has ordered still
greater changes to be made since the peace, and has directed that "the
best materials for building ships shall be procured from all parts
of the world; and that, as only ships built on European principles
can contend with European ships, they must gradually learn to adopt
European models themselves. But, as this can only be effected by time,
and the ships are required now to suppress the pirates which infest his
coast, they are at once to purchase foreign ships and learn to exercise
their crews."

To return from this short digression, we may now ask what sort of a
report was made by Admiral Kwan to his mighty master, upon the subject
of these first actions below the Bogue--the first great collision
between the power and science of the west and the self-confidence of
the remote east. Keshen, clear-sighted as he certainly was, could
not fail to perceive the many troubles and humiliations to which his
country must become subjected if hostilities were pushed to extremes.
He was fully alive to the serious defeat he had sustained, yet dreaded
to break the truth too suddenly to his haughty master; wise, therefore,
in his generation, he declared there had been a "drawn battle." He
informed his master that the contest had been maintained from eight
A.M. until two P.M., and that "then, the _tide ebbing_, the foreign
vessels ceased firing, and anchored in the middle of the stream, _each
side maintaining its ground_."

He then details the measures he had adopted for reinforcing the
position, and apologizes for the absence of more detailed information,
upon the ground of his anxiety to communicate the earliest possible

The emperor, or rather his ministers, were not so easily to be duped.
Keshen was at once declared to be "incompetent;" and it was ordered
that his conduct "should be subjected to the severest consideration;"
while poor old Kwan was accused of being "at all times devoid of talent
to direct, and, on the approach of a crisis to be alarmed, perturbed,
and without resources."

From the earliest times to the most modern, success has been vulgarly
considered in all countries to be the grand criterion of merit; and
the "Felix" of the ancients, the successful, the favoured of the gods,
stands nearly as paramount in the estimation of the world now, as it
did even in days of old. Kwan was accordingly at once deprived of his
rank and insignia of office, but was ordered henceforth to labour to
attain merit, bearing his punishment in the meantime.

Various plans were suggested for future proceedings against the
English; it was admitted that the junks could not cope with our ships
on the open sea, and it was therefore recommended "that our vessels
should be _enticed_ into the inner waters, and that there should be
employed expert divers to go down at night, and bore holes in their
bottoms," while other parties were to come "stealthily upon them at
night and board them unawares, and massacre the whole of their crews."
Above all, a grand preparation of fireships was to be made, filled
with various combustibles, which, with a favourable wind, were to be
let loose upon them, and, in the confusion resulting from this attack,
their war-vessels were to follow and complete what the fire-vessels
had commenced. Great rewards were again offered for the taking or
destruction of any of our ships, and 50,000 dollars was to be the
recompence for a line-of-battle ship.

We must now return to the current of events which took place
immediately after the capture of Chuenpee. The evening after the
engagement was spent in making preparations on both sides for renewing
the contest on the morrow. Every one on board our ships was excited
with the occurrences of the day, and anxiously longing for the dawn
of morning, when the thunder of our artillery should make even the
walls of Anunghoy and the famed Bogue forts tremble and fall. At length
the sun rose, bright and full of promise, on the morning of the 8th.
The boats of H.M.S. Sulphur were sent out to take soundings higher up
towards the Bogue. The Nemesis was first under weigh, and was directed
to proceed at once up to Anunghoy with a couple of rocket-boats.

The morning was calm: the line-of-battle ships were slowly moving up
to the positions assigned to them in front of the principal forts;
already had the Nemesis taken up a position within capital range of
the southern battery of Anunghoy, in such a manner that only three or
four guns could be brought to bear on her from it. Already had she
thrown in several shells and shot, when the signal, for her recal was
observed flying most provokingly from the mast-head of the Wellesley,
and being enforced by more than one signal gun, the firing ceased. Just
as the exciting moment had arrived, and every man was calculating in
his own mind how soon the forts would be reduced, the stillness, not of
breathless anxiety, but of bitter disappointment, prevailed in every
man's bosom.

It soon appeared that old Admiral Kwan preferred to try his skill in
cunning and diplomacy rather than in war, and had sent off a small
boat to the flag-ship, under a flag of truce, with a note addressed
to the plenipotentiary. The fact has excited some amusement, that a
little boat, with an old woman and a man in it, was sent off to bear
proposals for the cessation of hostilities at the very moment of their
commencement; and that this humble paper, sent in this extraordinary
way, was received, and became the groundwork of an armistice, which was
concluded in the course of the day.

Soon after four o'clock in the afternoon, the Nemesis was sent to
convey Lieutenant Maitland, of the Wellesley, to Anunghoy, as bearer of
a chop or official document, relating to the truce, and to a projected
treaty of peace, the precise terms of which did not transpire.

Many animadversions were made upon this proceeding; but Captain Elliot
was placed in very peculiar circumstances. He was, undoubtedly,
desirous to avoid open rupture with the Chinese, if possible, and
to use his best tact and judgment in negotiation, which would, of
course, be of little avail unless backed by a strong force, ready to
support his claims, and, therefore, necessarily assuming a threatening
attitude. Above all, the value of the revenue to be derived from _tea_
was so great, and its importance as an article of consumption so
much thought of, that Elliot believed himself to be best serving his
country when he best followed out, according to his judgment, these two
principal objects. That Captain Elliot may have been influenced by
occasional errors of judgment is far from improbable, but that he was
wanting in natural talent or principle, or a wish to serve faithfully
his queen, his government, and his country, his most unscrupulous
detractors have scarcely ventured to maintain. It is fortunate, at
all events, that it can still be said that measures of uncompromising
hostility were not urged until every other method of persuasion, and
every less powerful, however ingenious, argument had been tried and
found wanting.

Negotiations continued at the Bogue, but the Chinese, in spite of the
truce, were observed to be increasing their defences, and notice was
accordingly given to them to desist. The communications were frequent,
and, on the 17th, just a week after the commencement of the truce,
Captain Elliot went down in the Nemesis to Macao. There seemed,
however, to prevail an impression that the affair was so far from
being settled, that another collision could scarcely be avoided, and
therefore no measure of precaution was omitted on our side.

On the 20th of January, a circular was issued by Captain Elliot,
dated at Macao, announcing that _preliminary_ arrangements had been
concluded, but reserving the details for future negotiation. Hong-Kong
was to be ceded to us; an indemnity of six million dollars was to be
paid by the Chinese in six equal annual instalments, one million being
paid down at once, and the last in 1846; direct official intercourse
was to be maintained upon terms of perfect equality, and trade was to
be resumed within the port of Canton, within ten days. But it would
also appear that an intimation had been made of an intention to remove
the greater portion of the trade to Hong-Kong, for it was provided that
it should only continue "to be carried on at Whampoa until further
arrangements were practicable at the new settlement."

Nothing could at first appear more satisfactory than this arrangement;
but, as will presently be seen, it gave ample time to the Chinese to
make further preparations for defence, and abundant loopholes for the
exercise of their crafty ingenuity. At the same time, Captain Elliot
urged upon the consideration of his countrymen "the necessity of
adopting a conciliatory treatment towards the people, and a becoming
deference for the country upon the threshold of which we were about to
be established."

Nothing further need here be said upon this subject, except that on the
following day, the 21st January, the Nemesis was sent to convey two
mandarins to Chuenpee, who were to receive back the forts from Captain
Scott, of the Samarang, who had been appointed _pro tempore_ governor
of this fortress. The British colours were hauled down, and the Chinese
dragon was hoisted in their place, under a salute from the flag-ship;
it was very evident that no salute had ever sounded so welcome to
Chinese ears before. As soon as a few guns could be got ready for the
purpose, the salute was returned by the Chinese.

We had certainly shewn rather a chivalrous leniency to their
government, in thus so suddenly restoring to them one of their
principal strongholds. Indeed, everything looked extremely peaceable
upon paper, and the Chinese contrived to create a temporary belief in
the sincerity of their intentions.[22]

It will be remembered that Sir Gordon Bremer had not yet been named
joint plenipotentiary, which did not take place until after his return
from Calcutta in The Queen steamer, in the month of June following. He
had proceeded to India in that vessel, at the end of March, after the
arrival of Lieutenant-Gen. Sir Hugh Gough, probably in order to confer
in person with the governor-general.

Thus ended what may be called the second act, (the first having been
the taking of Chusan, and the expedition to the Peiho) of the great
drama of the Chinese war. In his report to the emperor, respecting
these several occurrences, Keshen declared that "he had only made
conditional concessions to the English; _merely_ promising that he
would earnestly implore the emperor's favour in their behalf."

Immediately after the restoration of the forts on the 21st to the
Chinese, the commodore went down to Macao in the Nemesis, leaving the
Wellesley in the Lintao passage, the main body of the fleet having
proceeded to Hong-Kong. It was feared, however, that things could not
long remain in _statu quo_; and on the 26th, Captain Elliot himself
left Macao in the Nemesis, and went up the Canton river to hold a
conference, which it had been arranged should take place with Keshen in
person, in order to settle those points which, it has been stated, were
reserved for future consideration.


[21] This rocket was fired by Captain Belcher, of the Sulphur.

                                                      Rank and file
    18th Regiment, Royal Irish, Lieutenant-Colonel Adam         487
    26th Regiment, Cameronians, Lieutenant-Colonel James        291
    49th Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Bartley                   326
    Bengal Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Lloyd                 402
    Madras Artillery, Lieutenant-Colonel Montgomerie, C.B.      185
    Madras Sappers and Miners, Captain Cotton                   227


The famous conference which took place between Keshen and Captain
Elliot, some miles above the Bogue, close to a pagoda on the banks of
the river, at what is called its Second Bar, has attracted very great
and deserved attention. Although its results were, in a political point
of view, really of little moment, there is reason to think that Keshen,
as well as Elliot, was anxious to adjust the pending difficulties
without further resort to arms. The advantage, however, which delay of
any kind would afford to Keshen, and the ultimate interruption of the
negotiations, followed, as it was, immediately by the capture of the
Bogue forts, have led many to conclude that Keshen had all along no
other object than that of putting us off our guard, in order that he
might complete his still imperfect arrangements for defence, and then
throw down the gauntlet to us in defiance.

This view of the matter appears to have been a good deal exaggerated;
and we shall perceive, as we follow this narrative, that Keshen was
thoroughly sensible of his own weakness, and really did desire to
avert the storm, but was fairly driven into extreme measures, and the
suspension of all amicable intercourse, by positive orders from Pekin.
Indeed, he was afterwards accused of treason, bribery, and incapacity,
because he even condescended to confer at all with Captain Elliot,
instead of advancing boldly upon him, and driving him and all his
troops and ships away from the coast. Keshen saw the imbecility of such
conduct, and although he knew the hopelessness of an attempt to defend
the river, he had no other alternative but to obey; he had already
been deprived of some of his decorations for having listened to terms
at Chuenpee, and his only hope of saving himself from ignominy, and
even death itself, was by striving hard to exhibit greater zeal in the
defence of the Bogue, which, nevertheless, he scarcely hoped to be able
to maintain.

Let us now, however, accompany the Nemesis up the river, in order to
see what sort of an affair the grand conference at the Second Bar
really was, and how the interview between the plenipotentiary of
England and the high-commissioner of China actually came off. It was
naturally expected that it would be an affair of great ceremony, and
as it was the first time that any intercourse had been permitted upon
terms of perfect equality with any of the high Canton authorities, and
as it was to happen in accordance with the stipulations of the new
treaty, it excited great interest, and kept the curiosity of every one

Adequate preparations were made on both sides, becoming the high rank
of the respective parties, and doubtless each of them was calculating
the most likely mode of making a good impression upon the other. One
hundred marines, picked men from the Wellesley, Druid, and Calliope,
were embarked on board the Madagascar steamer, to be carried up as a
guard of honour for Captain Elliot, at the meeting; they were commanded
by Captain, now Lieutenant-Colonel, Ellis, C.B., having with him
Lieutenants Stransham and Maxwell. The excellent bands of the Wellesley
and Calliope were also in attendance, and it was expected that the
Chinese would be astonished and properly "impressed" by the appearance
and manoeuvres of the men, while they would be gratified and put into a
good humour by the enlivening tones of the music.

On the 26th of January the Nemesis started from Macao, with Captain
Elliot and several officers on board, and proceeded directly up
the Bogue. She was subsequently joined by the Madagascar, which
was to accompany her up to the place of meeting. Captain Herbert,
the Honourable Captain Dundas, and Captain Maitland, attended the
plenipotentiary. And now, for the first time, two steamers were to
enter the true Canton river, and as the Nemesis was the leading vessel
through the Bogue, she had, consequently, the honour of being the first
steam vessel, whether of wood or iron, which ever navigated the "inner
waters" of the Celestial Empire.

It was just at this time that the French corvette, Danaide, arrived in
the China waters, having been sent out purposely to watch our movements
in that quarter. This, indeed, could have been her only object, for,
as regards protection of trade, the French have never had any trade
with China worthy of the name, nor indeed had the French flag floated
over the walls of the foreign factories at Canton for many years, until
after the accession of Louis Philippe to the throne. Since that time
it has always been exhibited rather in hope of the future than for the
protection of present interests, for, except the French consul and his
attendants, there has been, until recently, scarcely a French ship in

As the declaration of blockade was still in force against the port
of Canton, the Danaide was not permitted to proceed higher up than
Chuenpee, but her commander, Captain Rosamel, was politely invited by
Captain Elliot to accompany him on board the Nemesis, that he might
be a witness of the coming interview; an act of courtesy which was
handsomely acknowledged.

As the two steamers passed through the Bogue, each with a flag of truce
at the fore, they were saluted with three guns (the greatest number
ever given in China,) by the forts on both sides. The Chinese also
manned the works, and hoisted numerous gay silken flags; and the effect
of their curious costumes, and the general appearance of the forts of
Anunghoy and Wantung when their battlements were crowded with the eager
spectators, were very imposing. Certainly, the passage of two steamers
between them, the first they had ever seen, must have been an exciting
novelty. The bold, rocky steeps behind the batteries of Anunghoy,
frowning, as it were, and really commanding the batteries below,
grinning defiance with their whitened battlements, and the opposite
island of Wantung, with its numerous works, the more distant shore of
the mainland on the other side, and the remarkable Tiger Island ahead;
all these formed a very interesting and remarkable spectacle.

Just at the foot of Tiger Island, about two miles above the Bogue,
could be distinguished a long stone battery, which, on a nearer
approach, appeared deserving of closer inspection, although, from its
position, it was not likely to be of much use for the defence of the
river. The Nemesis, accordingly, little fearing shallow water at any
time, ran up towards it, and came so close to the battlements as to
touch them with her yards; in which position, had her intentions been
hostile, it was very evident that she could batter the walls with her
guns with perfect impunity, for the guns of the fort could not be
depressed sufficiently to point at her hull in that position.

This manoeuvre thoroughly confounded the Chinese, who looked on in
evident wonder. And they so far profited by the hint afterwards, that
they abandoned the fort altogether as useless and untenable, and
carried away the guns to add to the strength of the Bogue forts lower

Beyond the Bogue and Tiger Island the river begins to expand again,
and for some miles presents to view a flat, rich, alluvial country, in
which are an immense number of canals and water-courses, serving to
irrigate the paddy or rice fields, and to afford innumerable lines of
internal communication, which in that country mostly take the place of
roads and bridges.[23]

It was precisely at the pagoda at the Second Bar, as it is called, that
the conference was now to be held; and there, at about six o'clock in
the evening, the Nemesis and Madagascar came to anchor. A couple of
mandarins, or officers of inferior grade, (for let it not be supposed
that a mandarin is necessarily a great man) came on board, deputed by
Keshen, to welcome the arrival of the plenipo.

A list of the names and rank of those officers who were to be present
at the interview on the following morning, was sent in to Keshen, in
English and Chinese, so that he might be quite prepared, when each
gentleman should be presented to him by Captain Elliot, to receive him

Early in the morning the guard of marines were landed, together with
the bands of the Wellesley and Calliope. A finer body of men is rarely
seen. Soon after nine o'clock, the whole of the officers were ready
to go on shore, which was accomplished partly in the boats of the two
steamers, partly in very clean and convenient Chinese boats provided by
Keshen. They had to pull some little distance up one of the numerous
creeks which open into all the Chinese rivers, and the scene as they
approached was very novel and interesting. On either side were several
very gaudily ornamented boats belonging to Keshen, very similar to
the boats of the Hong merchants at Canton, who had also arrived under
the guidance of old Howqua.[24] They could scarcely hope to enjoy the
honour of a place at the conference, and were, therefore, probably
ordered by Keshen to attend upon him. They were not admitted even into
the same tents with Captain Elliot and his suite.

The guard of marines drawn up on either side highly astonished the
Chinese, but the people were kept from pressing too close by a long
line of railing put up for the occasion. The road from the immediate
landing-place to the grand tent was spread over with various coloured
cotton coverings, and decorated with branches of trees.

At nine A.M., Captain Elliot, accompanied by Captain Herbert, and the
Honourable Captain Dundas, landed, and went up in state, preceded
by the bands, to the principal tent, which was very like a large
long booth, ornamented inside with yellow hangings, in token of
its belonging to the representative of the emperor. At the further
extremity of it was another tent or apartment, reserved more especially
for Keshen's private use, and into this only Captain Elliot and one or
two officers in personal attendance on him were admitted.

The whole party were presented to Keshen in the outer tent including
Captain Rosamel of the Danaide; the list sent in the previous evening
being referred to, as each gentleman of the party made his bow to the
Imperial Commissioner.

The first private audience in the inner tent between Captain Elliot and
Keshen was merely one of ceremony, and lasted only a few minutes; the
medium of communication being through Mr. Morrison, the interpreter,
the gifted son of the late Dr. Morrison, so celebrated as a Chinese
scholar and philologist.

After the first introduction was over, it was announced that a grand
_déjeûner à la fourchette_ was prepared in the outer tent for the
whole of the party, upwards of twenty in number. Interminable was
the succession of dishes of the rarest and most expensive kind,
according to the best Chinese principles of gastronomy. The luxury
of the shark's-fin and the bird's-nest soup was here tasted for the
first time, and, without going deeply into the mysteries of the
Chinese "cuisine," it will be sufficient to say that a Chinese feast
is a very sumptuous and tedious, but, withal not unpalatable affair.
It necessarily occupied considerable time, and it was not until two
o'clock that those officers not in personal attendance upon Captain
Elliot were able to return on board the steamers.

In the interim, Keshen could not resist the wish to gratify his
curiosity concerning our fine-looking fellows the marines, and three of
the tallest and finest men were selected for his personal examination.
He did not conceal his surprise, and even requested that they might be
made to go through some of their evolutions. Keshen also examined their
arms and accoutrements minutely.

He had himself a small body-guard of Chinese soldiers, tolerably well
dressed, but otherwise of poor appearance, compared with our own picked
men, and they seemed quite at a loss to comprehend the purpose of the
movements they witnessed.

There were a good many small tents pitched round about the principal
reception-tent, and, as each of these was ornamented with a gay flag,
and other decorations, the _coup-d'oeil_ of the whole scene was
sufficiently imposing.

Keshen's manner throughout is described as having been particularly
kind, gentlemanlike, and perfectly dignified. He might, indeed, be
called a courtier-like gentleman in any country.

What may have passed between Keshen and Captain Elliot, during
their _private_ conference in the afternoon, it would be useless to
surmise. They met and parted upon terms of equality and apparent good
understanding. There seems reason, however, to think that very little
was definitely settled; and, after the lapse of two or three days,
Captain Elliot merely announced in a circular that "negotiations were
still proceeding satisfactorily," but at the same time "he warned
her majesty's subjects against proceeding to Canton for the present,
as it would be acting contrary to what he conceived right for the
public interest." At the same time, however, Hong-Kong was proclaimed
a British possession, and all its Chinese inhabitants declared to be
British subjects. Provision was also made for the government of the

Whatever terms Keshen may have agreed to at the conference, it is well
known that he was soon forbidden by the emperor to carry them into
execution. They are therefore of little moment.

Captain Elliot returned on board the Nemesis in the afternoon,
apparently satisfied; and in the evening a display of rockets and
fireworks took place from the vessel, for the amusement of the imperial
commissioner on shore.

In the meantime the Madagascar returned down the river with the
marines. On the following day, the 28th, two superior mandarins came
on board to pay their respects, and were saluted with three guns; and,
later in the day, the whole body of the Hong merchants likewise came
to pay their respects to his excellency; but, it is worthy of remark,
that Keshen himself did not come _in person_ to make a return-visit of

Whatever may have been the reason of this omission, it was unfortunate
that Captain Elliot did not take some notice of it. It might be said
that Keshen was afraid of compromising himself with his imperial
master, if he condescended so far as to pay a visit to a foreigner on
board his own vessel. But it is possible that another reason also may
have weighed not a little in his mind. He got the Kwang-Chow-Foo, or
prefect of Canton, who was there, to ask Captain Elliot to dine with
him on board his barge, or large covered boat, and his invitation
was accepted. Keshen looked upon this as far below the supposed
dignity belonging to the rank which Elliot held. After this act of
condescension on Captain Elliot's part, Keshen not improbably regarded
it as far beneath his own dignity personally to visit Captain Elliot.
Nor is it at all surprising, when we consider that the court of China
is, without exception, the most ceremonious in the world. Indeed, at
Pekin there is a regular "Court of Ceremonies" to arrange all the
complicated details.

Thus ended the whole business of this famous conference. It should also
be mentioned that, before they parted, Keshen made a few presents to
Captain Elliot, but not of any very great value, and others to Captain
Herbert, which were divided among some of the officers. Soon after
three o'clock the steam was once more got up, and giving and receiving
a parting salute of three guns, the Nemesis turned her head again down
the river, having the Louisa cutter in tow. The forts at the Bogue
again saluted her as she passed; and, late in the evening, she came to
anchor in the Tong Koo Roads, until daylight enabled her to proceed to
join the commodore, who was then in Hong-Kong harbour.

As yet the treaty, in virtue of which we took possession of Hong-Kong,
had not received the emperor's assent; and our own precipitate
restoration of Chusan, which had been ordered by Captain Elliot, was
likely rather to impede than to promote the object it was intended to
effect. The mere word of Keshen was the only authority which we had to
rely upon, the ratification of which was at least doubtful. However,
both the commodore and Captain Elliot seemed already to regard the
island of Hong-Kong as a positive acquisition, and took the present
opportunity of steaming all round it on board the Nemesis.

Little good appears to have resulted from this first interview. Indeed,
shortly after his report of it to the emperor, Keshen received a severe
reprimand from the emperor for what he had already even _pretended to
promise_. He was told that "a mere glance at his memorials had filled
the emperor with indignation."

Yih-shan, a Tartar general of great repute, and who will be found to
figure afterwards on several occasions, was now sent down to Canton,
invested with the office of "general pacificator of the rebellious;"
and two assistant functionaries, called Lung-Wan and Yang-Fang,
were also ordered to repair thither, "to co-operate in the work of
extermination." Additional troops were also despatched.

These orders of the emperor were issued on the 30th of January, but
did not reach Keshen until the 10th or 11th of February. On our side
nothing important took place for several days; arrangements connected
with the establishment of Hong-Kong were continued; and there was a
constant passing to and fro of officers between that place and Macao,
for which purpose the Nemesis was always employed.

The 2nd of February was the day on which it had been agreed with Keshen
that the trade of the port of Canton should be opened--namely, ten days
after the Chinese new year. No proclamation to that effect, however,
was issued by the commissioner. Various rumours were already afloat
concerning the measures in progress up the river for obstructing its
navigation; and, at length, finding that the "satisfactory manner"
in which it had been proclaimed on the 30th of January, that the
negotiations which were proceeding had already, in the following
week, assumed an "unsatisfactory tone," and that, in fact, everything
appeared very delusive, Captain Elliot determined to go up to the Bocca
Tigris in person, and demand a distinct explanation from Keshen of what
were really his intentions. It was known that Keshen had reached the
Bogue; and Captain Herbert had even sent an officer to compliment him
upon his arrival on the 29th of January, and a salute of three guns
was fired in honour of the occasion. On the 10th of February, Captain
Elliot embarked on board the Nemesis, accompanied by Captain Smith and
Captain Knowles, of the artillery, together with Major Pratt, of the
Cameronians, and Mr. Morrison as interpreter, and was conveyed up the
river, anchoring for the night in Anson's Bay.

On the following morning they once more passed through the Bogue, the
battlements of which were manned by the Chinese, as the steamer passed;
and a salute of three guns was fired from each of the batteries, which
was of course returned by the Nemesis. So far everything looked pacific
and complimentary enough. Having passed completely through the Bogue,
she came to anchor, about ten o'clock, above the forts, a little to the
north of Anunghoy, and close to the boats of the imperial commissioner,
who was already there. This was on the 11th of February; and it is a
curious coincidence, that it was on this day that Keshen received the
imperial commands to resume vigorous measures against Captain Elliot
and all the foreigners.

The interview on this occasion was comparatively one of little
ceremony; indeed, Keshen had made no preparation for it on shore, and
received Captain Elliot in his own covered barge, unattended by any
mandarins of rank, and without any display or attempt at effect.

Captain Elliot, on his part, having merely introduced the officers who
came up with him from Macao, in order that they might make their bow
of respect to the emperor's representative, immediately proceeded to
business without loss of time, in the most private manner possible.
During the few minutes that his suite were present, however, it did not
escape their notice that some mighty change had already come over the
spirit of the great commissioner. There was an appearance of constraint
about him, as if his mind was downcast, and his heart burdened and
heavily laden. He never indeed for a moment lost his self-possession,
or that dignified courtesy of manner which no people can better assume
than the Chinese of rank; but there was still something undefinable
in his bearing, which impressed upon all present the conviction that
something untoward had happened. Some of the party even guessed that
he had been degraded from his high rank, which was, in fact, the case.
Enough, at all events, was visible upon the surface, to awaken Captain
Elliot to the necessity of extreme tact and caution, before he placed
any reliance upon Keshen's power, whatever may have been his _will_, to
act up to his promises.

What may have passed at this second interview between these two high
representatives it is not the place here to discuss; suffice it to say,
that the conference on this day lasted no less than six hours, and
was renewed on the following morning for about three hours more. This
will be enough to shew that many points of great importance and some
minuteness must have been closely debated.

Keshen, meantime, was doubtless fully aware, that not one single iota
of what he might promise would ever be acceded to by his haughty
master; and, therefore, his only object in protracting the discussion
and entering into the "troublesome minutiæ of commerce" must have
been to leave something still _open_ to discussion, and some points
remaining to investigate "upon principles of the purest reason."

How great must have been his rejoicing when he at length succeeded in
winning from Captain Elliot a further delay of ten days, for the fair
preparation of a definitive treaty for his signature! What a heavy
weight must have been removed from his oppressed spirit, when he at
length beheld the dreaded steamer depart peaceably from the Bogue! The
certain reprieve of ten days, in which he might, perhaps, complete the
preparations already commenced, and even far advanced for the defence
of his strongest positions, was indeed a piece of unlooked-for good

The formal drawing out of the definitive treaty was hastened on, in
order that every excuse for further delay on the part of Keshen might
be removed. Indeed, ten days had only been fixed as the _longest_
period, within which, if the treaty were not executed, hostilities
would be renewed.

Perhaps, after all, it redounded to our credit that extreme measures
were only at length adopted, when every other means of effecting a
settlement had been tried in vain. Forbearance towards a feeble enemy,
as long as there was the faintest hope of bringing him to reason by
simpler means, will redound more to our honour in the pages of future
history, than a precipitate display of our energy and our power. At
all events the treaty which was ultimately concluded was much more
advantageous to commerce and civilization in general than it would
probably have been had an earlier settlement taken place. The Chinese
were brought to yield by _degrees_, and, therefore, the compact is much
more likely to be durable than if it had been wrung from them by an
earlier and more sudden emergency.

Nevertheless, before even the draught of the proposed treaty had been
fully drawn up at Macao, rumours were continually brought concerning
the extensive preparations for defence which were still going on up the
river. Some naval and military officers were accordingly sent up to the
Bogue, to ascertain how far these rumours might be well founded; and
it was now discovered "that military works upon a great scale were in
progress, that troops were collected upon the heights, that entrenched
camps were being formed on both sides of the river, and that the island
of North Wantung was bristling with cannon."

These preparations certainly looked very unlike the preliminaries to
the signature of a treaty of peace; "and from this moment," says Sir
Gordon Bremer, "I must confess that my faith in the sincerity of the
Chinese commissioner was completely destroyed." It was in fact to be no
longer doubted that hostilities would be speedily resumed. And although
the orders of the emperor to Keshen to cancel the treaty agreed on, and
to provide means for the immediate extermination of the foreigners had
not then been made public, enough was already known to make it evident
that the intentions of the government were very far from being of a
peaceful nature.

On his side, Captain Elliot had done his utmost to impress the Chinese
with a confidence in his "good faith;" and so anxious was he to hasten
the evacuation of Chusan, that he had not only sent up a vessel of war
to convey the necessary orders, but had also forwarded an _overland
despatch_, by the hands of a Chinese special messenger, to the same

Scarcely a month, however, had elapsed when Captain Elliot began to
doubt whether the Chinese really meant to act up to _their_ promises
with equal good faith. On the 20th of January, he had declared, in a
public proclamation, that he had no reason to call in question the
"scrupulous sincerity and _enlarged opinions_ of the very eminent
person with whom negotiations had been pending;" and it was just a
month afterwards, on the 20th of February, that he declared that
the "imperial minister and high commissioner had failed to conclude
the treaty which had been sent up to the Bogue ready prepared for
signature." This document was carried up by the Nemesis. But, as
the commissioner had already left the Bogue and gone to Canton, it
was transmitted to him by the hands of a confidential person in
the employment of Keshen, who had been distinctly named to Captain
Elliot for the purpose. Four days were allowed for the return of the
messenger, and the Nemesis was directed to wait at the Bogue for the
answer, until the expiration of that period, when she was to return to
Macao, either with or without the treaty.

As the time agreed on approached its expiration, reports became more
numerous than ever, concerning the hostile preparations in progress.
The edict of the emperor addressed to Keshen, before spoken of, was now
made public, and a proclamation was pasted on the walls of Canton, (but
whether by the orders of the viceroy or not does not appear certain,)
by which a reward of 50,000 dollars each was offered for the heads of
Captain Elliot and Sir Gordon Bremer!

The four days of the stay of the Nemesis at the Bogue were not spent
unprofitably. Advantage was taken of this opportunity by Captain Hall
to examine the new works of the Chinese, many of which were still in
progress, (during a _truce_ and while a treaty of peace had been agreed
on!) Numerous sand-bag batteries had been erected, and others were in
course of completion, halfway up the hill of Anunghoy. Troops were
crowding upon the hills on the opposite side, while upon the Island of
North Wantung equal activity was displayed.

But the observations were not limited entirely to the works at
the Bogue. Captain Hall set out with a single boat's crew upon an
adventurous and interesting excursion up Anson's Bay, to the mouth
of the river in which the junks had been destroyed on the day of the
Chuenpee. Just within the entrance, several large mandarin boats were
now observed collected together, and surrounded by a vast number of
labouring men. This excited some surprise, as there wore no works
visible upon which they could be employed; but the object of this
bustle was unexpectedly discovered afterwards. The mandarin boats and a
great part of the people, thinking probably that the single boat of the
Nemesis was only the advanced one of many others similar to those which
had destroyed their war-junks, made off as fast as they could, leaving
her to pursue her course unmolested.

Having, in the former ascent of the river in the Nemesis, observed that
a branch of it turned off to the right towards Chuenpee, Captain Hall,
determined to explore it now. It branched off about one and a half
to two miles from the entrance, and soon led to a very considerable
village on the right or Chuenpee side, (in ascending,) while, nearly
opposite to it, a large sand-battery, recently erected, was discovered,
mounting eight guns, and further on, was a strong stone battery.
Neither of these fired at the boat, although the gunners ran down to
their guns, as if apprehensive of an attack.

To the astonishment of all in the boat, it was now found that this
branch of the river, or creek, or whatever it might be called, instead
of leading further up the country, inland, gradually turned round and
encircled the whole of Chuenpee, communicating with the "outer waters"
to the southward of that promontory. Thus it was evident that Chuenpee
was an island.

Having passed quite through the passage, so as to reach the point of
junction with the "outer waters," Captain Hall landed on Chuenpee in
company with Mr. Turner, the surgeon of the vessel, and Mr. Gray, a
midshipman of H.M.S. Herald, and, sending the boat round the promontory
to the opposite side, walked across without any molestation. Nothing
particular worth noticing was observed in this excursion, except the
large farm-houses, which were passed, together with several extensive
sugar-works, in full operation.

A visit made to the Tycocktow side of the river was less promising,
although equally successful. It was thought desirable, on the following
day, to reconnoitre the defences in that direction; and accordingly
Captain Hall, accompanied by Mr. Compton, proceeded in the ship's
cutter across the river for that purpose. A large number of troops were
collected upon the heights, upon which were numerous tents; and several
large transport junks, not less than twenty sail, were hastily landing
troops, guns, and ammunition. It was also noticed that boats were
passing round at the back of the hill and works, through a large canal
or creek; so that, although it was not possible to explore the lines of
communication from one part to the other, it became very evident that
the neighbourhood of the river, although apparently mountainous and
rugged, was accessible to boats on all sides, and was in fact composed
of distinct islands.

The question of the intentions of the Chinese was soon decided; for the
fort on Wantung, as the boat passed between it and the mainland, on
that side, fired at it with round shot. There was no mistaking the tone
of defiance which this indicated; but Captain Hall was sufficiently
acquainted with the Chinese character to be reluctant to turn back at
this threat, because the affair would have been reported as a great
victory, with their usual exaggeration. The little bow-gun of the boat
was therefore instantly fired at the troops who were looking over the
battlements of the fort; and no further molestation being attempted
by the Chinese, she again pursued her way, content with this token of

These little reconnoitring excursions sufficed to shew, were anything
still wanting to bring conviction to the most unbelieving, that the
Chinese were fully aware that no treaty of peace was likely to be
signed, and that they looked forward to the resumption of hostilities,
not only without much apprehension, but with tolerable confidence in
the probability of their own success.

On the evening of the 18th, the four days agreed on for the return of
the messenger from Canton having fully expired, the Nemesis was moved
up from Chuenpee to the Bogue, where she remained one hour, waiting for
an answer from the imperial commissioner. None, however, was brought;
and as everything now so plainly indicated that cannon-balls alone were
to be expected as a reply, Captain Hall resolved to return to Macao,
and report all that had been seen and done to the plenipotentiary and
the commander-in-chief. Not a moment was lost in communicating the
results of the reconnoitring excursions, the firing of a shot from
North Wantung, and the non-appearance of the messenger at the appointed

The most incredulous now no longer doubted; the film was raised even
from before the eyes of Captain Elliot himself, and orders were given
that all the officers should join their respective ships. The light
division, which was then in the roads of Macao, or at the mouth of
the river, was placed under the orders of Captain Herbert (since made
K.C.B.) of the Calliope, and was directed to proceed immediately to
the Bogue. It consisted of the Calliope, Samarang, Herald, Alligator,
Sulphur, and the Nemesis; and the object was "to prevent, as much as
possible, any further defensive preparations on the part of the enemy,
but not to run any unnecessary hazard until the main body of the force
came up." At the same time, the commodore hastened over to Hong-Kong,
in the Madagascar steamer, for the purpose of taking up the ships
of the line, consisting of the Wellesley, Blenheim, and Melville,
seventy-fours, and the steamers, Queen and Madagascar; leaving the
Druid, with the Jupiter troop-ship, and the transports, Sophia,
Minerva, Thetis, and Eagle, to follow.

These active measures were briefly announced by Captain Elliot, in a
circular issued on the same day to the following effect, simply stating
that "circumstances had induced the commander-in-chief to announce
to H.M. plenipotentiary his intention to move the forces towards the
Bocca Tigris,"--from which it would seem that the responsibility of
this inevitable measure was rather assumed by Sir Gordon Bremer than
by the plenipotentiary; but Captain Elliot had also written to Captain
Herbert, stating that he left him at liberty, and _moved_ to prevent
the continuance of defensive preparations at the Bogue.

It was on the day following this movement (the 20th) that Keshen's
notification of his unwillingness to continue negotiations became
known at Macao; and shortly afterwards, the emperor's edict (before
alluded to) was also promulgated, in which every proposed measure of
conciliation towards the foreigners was recalled, and orders given, on
the other hand, that "they should be rooted out entirely."

On the morning of the 21st, a reconnoitring party landed, unperceived,
upon the island of Wantung, consisting of Captains Elliot, Herbert,
and Belcher, and Lieutenant Stransham, and they were able to count
seventeen more guns, newly-mounted, in addition to those which had been
observed on the former occasion.

The truce had already fully expired, but hostilities did not commence
immediately, as might have been expected. On the 22nd, a Chinese
boat happened to be stopped, in which was found a messenger, who was
recognised by Lieutenant Watson as an active agent of the Chinese
authorities. It was naturally suspected that he was the bearer of
orders of some kind or other to the local officers, and such was found
to be the case. They were addressed to Admiral Kwan, desiring him to
hurry on the stopping-up of the channel which runs at the back of
Anunghoy, by which the latter becomes an island. The means employed
were stones and stakes, and sunken junks, which had been collected in
large quantities at a place called Sanmannkow, which must have been
the large town known to lie in the rear of Anunghoy. Thus all our
observations respecting the intentions of the authorities were fully
confirmed, and it could now no longer be doubted, on our part, that a
heavy blow must at once be struck.


[23] In no part of China are there found within the same distance so
many large pagodas or religions monuments as upon the banks of this
fine river. This is not the place to describe them minutely, or to
discuss their purpose. They are found in most of the large towns, and
sometimes on the banks of rivers, and form a part of the religious
buildings of the Budhist superstition, and together with it, seem to
have been originally introduced from the west. The shape of them is
familiar to most readers. The finest and most celebrated one of the
kind is the famous Porcelain Tower of Nankin; which is in reality a
pagoda, larger and more ornamented than the rest, and distinguished
by being principally constructed of Porcelain brick glazed, and of
various shades of colour. These towers, or pagodas, are of great use
in the navigation of the Canton river, as, from their height, they
are conspicuous objects at a distance, and are generally placed in
advantageous positions.

[24] The Hong merchants' boats are both large and convenient, somewhat
resembling a small room or van, placed upon a very sharp-pointed but
broad boat, as they are only used for pulling about the smooth waters
of the river. Nothing can be better adapted to comfort, affording
shelter both from the sun and rain, with plenty of room for at least
half-a-dozen people to sit down and converse. The outside of these
boats is showily painted, and commonly decorated with handsome
wood-work. The inside is generally elegantly fitted up. They are
usually pulled by four men forward, who use a short broad-bladed oar or
paddle, with great dexterity and effect; and they are also assisted as
well as steered by a large heavy scull-oar behind.


Keshen, who had spent all his life either in large provincial capitals
or in the imperial city itself, could have had little opportunity of
learning anything either relating to foreign trade or foreign ships,
still less was he acquainted with the "outer waters" along the coast of
the empire.

After describing them to his imperial master, he boldly ventures his
opinion, that the reputation of the fortifications of the Bocca Tigris,
as a place of defence, have been much overrated, and he goes on to
say--"It is, then, clear that we have no defences worthy to be called
such. It is, in truth, the local character of the country, that there
is no important point of defence by which the whole may be maintained."

No wonder that such a declaration from a man who was also the third
member of the imperial cabinet, taken, as it was, from personal
observation, should have sounded unpalatable and even traitorous to the
emperor's ear. But this was not all. Indeed, one might almost imagine
that some European must have pointed out to him defects which his own
unpractised and unaided eye could never have detected.

Lin, on the other hand, had never dared to report to his master the
full extent of the information which was given to him, though he
was fully prepared to adopt every advice which tended to obstruct
the commerce of England, and impede an amicable settlement of the

Such truths are always hard to bear, and harder to believe, and were
consequently _not_ believed, _because_ they were true. But Keshen did
his best to improve his weapons; he sent for a founder of cannon, who
gave him a new model, and undertook to make some experimental pieces.
Yet it did not escape Keshen that, even if he succeeded in casting good
cannon, he could only do so as a preparation _for the future_. "They
could not be ready," says he, "for the business we have now in hand.
These are the proofs," he adds, "of the inefficiency of our military
armament, which is such _that no reliance can be placed upon it_."

He proceeded to say that it would be necessary to employ a naval
as well as a land force to defend the Bogue, but then threw out a
suspicion that the seamen were not to be depended on, for that "he had
heard a report that, after the battle of Chuenpee, these men all went
to their commander, or Tetuh, and demanded money of him, threatening
that they would otherwise disperse; and he had, therefore, personally
made inquiry into the matter, and found that the report was perfectly
true, and, moreover, that the Tetuh, having no other remedy, (evidently
the pay was in arrear,) was obliged to _pawn his own clothes and other
things_, by which means he was enabled to give each of them a bonus of
two dollars, and thus only could he get them to remain for a time at
their posts."[25]

Moreover, he added, "our ships of war are not large and strong, and it
is difficult to mount heavy guns upon them. Hence it is evident that
our force here, (he was writing at the Bogue,) as a guard and defence
against the foreigners, is insufficient."

Keshen next remarked upon the character of the people of the province.
"Your slave has found them ungrateful and avaricious. Of those who are
actual traitors it is unnecessary to say anything. But the rest are
accustomed to see the foreigners day by day, and intimacy has grown up
between them." And he proceeds to contrast them very unfavourably with
the people of Chusan, "who felt at once that the foreigners were of
_another race_."[26]

Keshen then appealed to the history of the past, and made particular
allusion to the difficulty which had formerly been experienced, in
overcoming even the pirates upon the coast, who were at length only
reduced to submission by a promise of security upon condition of laying
down their arms.[27] Finally he expressed great fear, that if he gave
battle, he would be unable to command a victory, and, in that case, the
dignity of the empire would be sullied, and the lives of the people

To understand the full importance of these remarks, it is necessary
to bear in mind that they were written before the action of the Bogue
took place, and as a ground for asking for the emperor's consent to the
terms proposed by Captain Elliot. Others, however, were called to aid
in his councils at this time, and, among the high officers of Canton,
Lin himself was consulted. They appeared to concur with Keshen; at all
events, they knew that upon his head would rest all the responsibility.

The memorial containing Captain Elliot's demands was sent up to Pekin,
together with this report, which was founded upon personal observation;
and Keshen implored the emperor to look with pity upon "his
black-haired flock, the people, and that he would be graciously pleased
to accede to the requests made by the foreigners, and to grant them
favours beyond measure. Thus," he added, "shall we lay the foundation
for victory hereafter, by binding and curbing the foreigners now, while
we _prepare_ the means of cutting them off at some future period."

Keshen was a true Chinaman of the new school, (for there are new
schools even in antique China,) and, in most respects, the very
opposite of Lin. Sensible of the weakness of his country when matched
with England, conscious of his inability to fight his enemy with
success, he nevertheless hazarded the chance, when the _commands_ of
the emperor compelled him to aim the blow. He, however, did his utmost
to gain time, and even endeavoured to impose upon Captain Elliot,
and to hope against hope itself. After all that Keshen had said, the
defence of the Bogue was conducted, as we shall now perceive, with more
energy than might have been expected, and, indeed, with considerable

On the following morning, at dawn, the Nemesis took Captain Elliot
once more up to the Bogue, where he remained about an hour, as if in
anxious expectation of some communication from the shore. But this
last lingering hope was again deceived. Captain Elliot, being now
fully satisfied that no peaceable communication from the Chinese was
any longer to be expected, finally left the Bogue, and finding H.M.S.
Herald at anchor off Lankeet, just below Chuenpee, he went on board
that vessel, leaving the Nemesis to pursue her way down to Hong-Kong.

On the 22nd, Captain Herbert, with the light squadron, took up his
position at the anchorage off South Wantung, where Captain Elliot
announced to him that Keshen had failed to conclude the treaty, and
that he was therefore to consider himself moved, to prevent the
continuance of the defensive preparations. The Nemesis having joined
him from Hong-Kong on the 23rd, Captain Herbert embarked on board that
vessel, and, taking with him the pinnaces of the Calliope, Samarang,
Herald, and Alligator, commanded by Lieutenants Watson, Bower, Dewes,
and Woolcomb, proceeded up Anson's Bay to explore the river before
described as opening at the bottom of it.

It was reported that the Chinese were staking it across; and, from the
bustle which had been previously observed there, when the boat of the
Nemesis ventured into it, there was reason to believe that hostile
preparations were being made. Moreover, it was thought advisable, if
possible, to examine the channel which had been found to lead round in
the rear of Anunghoy; for upon this fortress, as the most extensive of
the defences of the Bogue, it was thought the principal attack of the
squadron would be made. Suspicion was also excited by the contents of
the intercepted despatch of Keshen to Admiral Kwan.

On entering the river, it was no longer to be doubted that preparations
for defence had been commenced. A great number of boats were observed
busily employed in driving stakes or piles into the bed of the river,
across which others were trying to moor a strong raft. No sooner was
the steamer discovered approaching, than the boats all pulled away,
and the Chinese were seen scampering off as fast as possible. However,
when it came to the point of pulling up the stakes, in order to make a
passage between them for the boats which were in tow, all on a sudden
a heavy discharge from a masked battery, close abreast of the spot,
was poured upon them, and at once betrayed the cause of the secret
preparations before observed.

The steamer immediately poured in a volley of grape and canister
from her bow and stern guns, while the boats pulled away towards the
shore, to carry the works by storm, opening their fire from their
bow-guns as they advanced. The Chinese fled, after some resistance;
and the battery, which was of very recent construction, was at once
taken possession of by the crews of the boats, the colours being taken
by Lieutenant Bowers. It was found to mount twenty guns of various
calibre, which were immediately destroyed. There were also lying on
the ground a vast number of guns dismounted, probably not less than
sixty, which appeared to have been landed out of their junks, or
recovered after the destruction of their fleet in the bay. These were
all rendered useless, with the exception of a few brass ones, which
were carried away as trophies. Their magazines and buildings were also
totally destroyed. The number of killed among the Chinese were about
thirty, but no wounded were found, as they had probably been carried
off by their companions in arms. On our side no casualties happened.

Content, for the present, with this successful feat, Captain Herbert
returned in the Nemesis, and rejoined the squadron, at its anchorage,
a little to the southward of South Wantung. On the following morning
they all returned to the scene of the previous exploit, and set about
pulling up the piles, to clear a passage. This time, likewise, they
were fired at, but from a different quarter. The Chinese troops, posted
on the hills above, commenced firing at the working party, but it was
soon returned from the thirty-two-pounders, by which they were speedily
dispersed. A passage having at length been cleared, the Nemesis
steamed up the river for some distance, until she had nearly reached
the large town at the back of Anunghoy; but, as there appeared to be
no further hostile preparations going on, Captain Herbert thought it
better to return and complete the destruction of the fort, raft, &c.,
which had been only partially done the day before; after which they
returned to the squadron, which the commodore himself had now joined,
with the three line-of-battle ships and the Druid.

The next day, the 25th of February, was the great day of preparation
for the combined and resolute attack of all the Bogue forts. The
batteries which were to be reduced were as follows:--The geographical
positions of the Bogue have already been described. Beginning from
the south end of the promontory of Anunghoy, which of course you
approach first, there were several strong works along the shore, the
ridges on the hill's side above being also armed with guns wherever
they could be conveniently placed; and upon the top, which was pretty
steep, an entrenched camp had been formed, calculated for about twelve
hundred men. On this side were two considerable sand-batteries, not
long erected, mounting, as was afterwards found, thirty guns of small

Proceeding on along the front was the old battery of Anunghoy, which,
in a manner, seemed to have given place to a new and extremely well
built one, partly of granite and partly of chunam, and reaching down
almost to high-water mark. The rear of this battery, running up the
steep hill-side, was enclosed by a high wall, on which were steps or
platforms for firing musketry.

Continuing our survey of the walls parallel with the passage through
the Bogue, and passing out of the southern fort by its northern gate,
you found a line of steep rocky beach, about two to three hundred
yards long, and unprotected, which led to the northern Anunghoy fort.
Upon this beach was erected a sort of platform, made of wood, serving
merely as a line of communication between the forts, for the passage
of troops. Having traversed this causeway, you arrive at the northern
fort. This was a less formidable one than its fellow lower down, but
still it presented an extensive line of works. The whole together
completely defended the river front of the promontory of Anunghoy. The
number of guns mounted upon all these works was afterwards found to
be very great, and the long line of embrasures certainly looked very

The island of North Wantung, which is opposite to these forts, was
thickly studded with cannon all over. Its eastern side presented a
formidable line of guns, and was considered by the Chinese to be its
most important side of defence, for it fronted Anunghoy, commanding
the passage between them; here they had planted some of their largest
guns. An object upon which they had placed great reliance was the large
chain cable which they had carried across the passage from Anunghoy
to a rock close to Wantung, and which they had secured into the solid
rock on either side, something after the manner of the chains of a
suspension bridge. The rafts which supported it were strongly moored,
and the Chinese had adopted a curious contrivance for raising or
lowering the chain, for the purpose of letting their own junks pass
through, by means of a kind of windlass.

A passage was not forced through this chain and rafts until after the
forts were taken; and the Chinese appeared to forget that there was
another channel round the west side of Wantung, and that even had that
been impassable, we could have sent our light steamers, rocket-boats,
and gun-boats, round the back of Anunghoy itself. They, moreover, made
little calculation of the great power of the rising and falling of the
tide, the weight and strength of a line-of-battle ship, or the terrific
power of her broadside.

The little island of South Wantung had been unaccountably left
unoccupied by the Chinese; but, in reality, it was within range,
and well commanded by the strong batteries and Hill Fort upon North
Wantung. The oversight rendered their positions much less tenable, and
soon decided the plan of attack which was adopted by Sir Gordon Bremer.
It was as follows: a battery of two 8-inch iron and one 24-pounder
brass howitzers was to be erected during the night, in a hollow,
upon the top of this little island of South Wantung, which was very
favourably situated for the object required. This battery would not
only greatly annoy the Chinese in the northern island, and probably
shell them out, but also distract their attention from the attack upon

The commodore reserved to himself (with the Wellesley, 74, and Druid,
42) the attack on the south-west batteries of Wantung, that is, on
the side not fronting Anunghoy; while Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, in the
Blenheim, 74, with the Melville, 74, and The Queen Steamer, together
with the rocket-boats of the two ships, was to attack the batteries of
Anunghoy, using his own discretion as to the best mode for placing them
for that purpose. The light division under Capt. Herbert, consisting
of the Calliope, Samarang, Herald, Alligator, Sulphur, and Modeste,
were to direct their attention to the batteries on the northern and
north-western side of Wantung, and also those facing Anunghoy, and
either to anchor or keep under weigh, according as it might appear
most likely to ensure the object in view. The Madagascar and Nemesis
steamers were to land the troops, but the latter was more particularly
employed to cover the working party, who were to raise the battery on
South Wantung, and also the troops on shore.

It was not likely that the land forces would have much to do; but it
was directed that detachments of the 26th and 49th regiments, with
the 37th M.N.I. and Bengal volunteers, under the command of Major
Pratt, of the 26th, should be placed on board the steamers and the
transport-boats, together with a few Chinese boats collected for the
purpose, and they were to remain off the southern end of South Wantung,
protected from the fire of the enemy's guns, until the Chinese should
be driven out of the batteries, when their subsequent movements were
to be directed by signal. The royal marines also, under Capt. Ellis,
were to be held in readiness to land with the troops, and were to be
accompanied by the two 6-pounder field-pieces of the Wellesley and
Druid, with seamen to work and drag them; scaling-ladders were also to
be carried with the force.

Soon after mid-day, on the 25th, the Nemesis took on board a detachment
of one hundred and thirty of the Madras Native Infantry, for the
purpose of assisting the royal artillery, under Capt. Knowles and
Lieut. Spencer, in the erection of the mortar battery upon the top of
South Wantung; and they were accompanied by Lieut. Johnson and Lieut.
Rundall, of the Madras Engineers, with the same object. On her way
across, the guns of the large Anunghoy Fort opened upon her, and were
fired with tolerable precision, many of them passing quite near her,
but fortunately without doing any damage. On arriving at the southern
end of South Wantung, it was found that Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, had
already arrived in his own boat, together with a detachment of the
Royal and Madras Artillery. The Anunghoy Battery continued firing, but
without effect, and it was not returned for some time, by the orders of
the commodore. However, as soon as the detachments were landed, Sir Le
Fleming Senhouse himself gave Capt. Hall permission to return the fire.
No time was lost in landing ammunition and warlike implements upon the
island, and parties were busily employed filling sand-bags preparatory
to the erection of the battery above, the whole working party being
perfectly protected from the fire of the Chinese.

In the meantime, the batteries on North Wantung began to open on the
Nemesis; and, in order that she might get completely under cover of
the island of South Wantung, she was run full in upon the shore, which
was somewhat steep in that part; and thus she lay literally with her
head out of water, and her stern deep in it, without receiving any
injury; her light draught of water enabled her to approach closer than
any other vessel could have done. In this manner, all the shot of the
batteries passed over her, without doing any mischief. The fire was not
returned, both owing to the position in which she was, and because it
could only have served to point out, in the darkness of the night, the
situation of the working parties upon the island.

At daylight the battery was quite completed, and the Nemesis was
ordered to withdraw; not long after which, the new battery opened
fire in beautiful style, against North Wantung, under the direction
of Capt. Knowles. The rockets were thrown into it with great effect,
and, together with the shells, could be seen to fall directly within
the forts; this was shortly followed by a blaze of fire, from the
burning of the Custom House and other buildings; soon after which, the
outworks and sand-batteries were abandoned, and the Chinese took refuge
principally in the upper fort. Their loss must have been considerable
at all points; and the panic created by the bursting of the shells and
rockets, which were quite new to them, evidently threw them into great
disorder. It was reported, and there is reason to believe with truth,
that the Chinese officers abandoned the place at the first commencement
of the firing, and ran down to their boats, having locked the gates
behind them, to prevent their own troops from following their example.

The grand combined attack was to have commenced early in the morning,
and the troops were ordered to be in readiness at seven o'clock. The
morning, however, was perfectly calm; the sun shone brilliantly, and
lighted up the scene of impending destruction and slaughter, as if
it were to be a scene of rejoicing. Until ten o'clock there was not
a breath of air; when, a light breeze springing up, the Melville and
Blenheim, accompanied by the Queen steamer, got under weigh, attended
by three rocket-boats, the Blenheim being the leading ship. They stood
in for the southern Anunghoy fort, running along towards the Anson's
Bay side of it, in order to be out of range of its guns in front, so
that they could throw in shot and shell upon its flank, without any
risk of receiving injury themselves. The hill of Anunghoy was crowned
with Chinese troops, their numerous silken banners floating gaily to
the now reviving breeze. Some of their guns were discharged at a great
distance; but the fire was kept up with spirit, though frequently out
of range.

Not so, however, our own majestic ships, which slowly glided up to
their positions without wasting a single shot, until, having anchored
with springs on their cables, they could bring their broadsides to
bear. The Blenheim, although the leading ship, was either carried by
the tide, or else slightly touched the ground, and was soon overtaken
by the Melville, which succeeded in taking up a more advantageous
position in very gallant style. In the meantime, the Queen had
commenced throwing shell into the sand-batteries and other works upon
the hill's side; and, at the same time, the terrific broadsides of
the Melville and the Blenheim opened upon the great battery; the
rocket-boats also did their full share in the work of destruction. The
Chinese could not long withstand these simultaneous attacks.[28]

At about the same time with the attack on Anunghoy, began also that
upon the batteries on the western and north-western side of Wantung,
partly under the commodore in person, and partly under Capt. Herbert.
The ships[29] waited to receive the fire of the forts pretty close, and
then at once poured in their iron shower upon the devoted batteries,
with destructive effect. It would have been impossible for any troops
to have long defended the island of Wantung, bristling though it
then was with cannon, against the powerful force arrayed against it.
Our battery of howitzers had been playing upon it for several hours;
and now six or seven men-of-war, including one line-of-battle ship,
the Wellesley, were battering it at the same time. But the defenders
could not run away, being shut in on every side by the river; and it
was perhaps fortunate for them that the Nemesis, which had already
been engaged with the different batteries, was sent down to fetch
the troop-boats from the southern island, under which they had been

The land force was under the command of Major Pratt, of the
Cameronians, who was already well known to the Chinese at Chuenpee. The
detachments of the 26th and 49th were under Major Johnson, the marines
under Capt. Ellis, the 37th M.N.I, under Capt. Duff, and the Bengal
Volunteers under Capt. Mee.

The scene on all sides at this moment was extremely imposing. The light
breeze, which had barely served to bring the ships into position, had
quite died away when the thunder of artillery commenced, as if it were
unwilling to take them back again until their work was fully done.
The heavy, curling smoke, scarcely broken by an occasional flash,
hung gloomily on every side, as if to veil from sight the scene of
destruction which was going on. For a time the firing ceased, in order
to allow the smoke to rise; and, just at that moment, the troops were
hastening towards Wantung, to take possession of the works, the firing
of which had also ceased. At the same time, Sir Le Fleming Senhouse,
with the marines and a party of blue-jackets, landed, to the attack of

At half-past one the troops were landed on Wantung by the Nemesis
and Madagascar, assisted by boats. The object was of course to reach
the hill fort as quickly as possible, and had the Chinese been better
acquainted with the rules of European warfare, they would probably
have at once surrendered themselves, seeing the utter hopelessness
of resistance. Probably the fear of being put to death as prisoners
prevented this timely sparing of blood. Our gallant troops and seamen
pushed rapidly up the ascent over the ruined outworks, and might have
suffered severe loss before they could have taken possession of the
upper fort, had not the Chinese been almost panic-struck, or had they
possessed weapons better calculated for the purpose of defence. But,
instead of surrendering or accepting quarter, they again ran out of the
fort and down the hill, and many of the poor fellows were shot in their
vain attempts to fly, without any possible means of escape. The greater
part of these took refuge in the lower Custom House fort, where many
of them were killed and wounded before the rest surrendered, which,
however, they at length did, to the number of about one thousand.
The prisoners were soon afterwards taken to the mainland, and set at
liberty, equally astonished as they were rejoiced at our leniency.

The Nemesis, in the meantime, had gone over to Anunghoy, to render
assistance, if required, and there observed the marines and seamen of
the Blenheim and Melville, under Sir Le F. Senhouse, in the act of
taking possession of the forts. It appears that they landed without
much opposition, though they were only three hundred in number; and not
only passed through the southern fort, driving the Chinese up the hill
above, but also proceeded along the beach towards the northern fort, of
which they also made themselves masters, the Chinese having fled.

Whatever doubts Keshen himself had entertained concerning the
defensibility of the Bogue, he had too much discretion to communicate
them either to his officers or troops. They had little anticipation of
the total defeat which they were soon to sustain, for they had made
rude sketches delineating the entire destruction of our ships by the
terrible fire of their artillery.

The British flag had by this time supplanted that of China upon all the
defences of the Bogue. It was little past two o'clock, and ample time
yet remained to turn the victory to the greatest possible advantage
before the close of the day. The Nemesis once more crossed over to
Wantung, and as she drew so little water, was enabled to run close in,
and make fast to the lower fort itself. Nothing, however, of a hostile
character remained to be done in this quarter, but there was yet ample
room to perform the more humane duty of assisting the unfortunate
Chinese. Many of these poor fellows were floating about in the water,
clinging in despair to any small piece of wood or bamboo they might
have the good fortune to find. Many were drowned, as had before been
the case at Chuenpee, but many yet remained to be saved. Boats were
sent out for this purpose, but the Chinese notions of warfare were of
such a barbarous nature, that they seemed to think the only object
of any attempt to save them was to reserve them for slow torture,
mutilation, or death.[30] The poor fellows dived their heads under
water as the boats approached them, attempting to drown themselves, and
thus escape falling into our hands. Many were, nevertheless, dragged
out, and carried on board the steamer, where they appeared bewildered
by astonishment more than by fear, when they found that they were
kindly treated. All of them were soon afterwards liberated without any
conditions, and they then appeared thankful for their escape.

The day was now far advanced, but there still remained a fort and
encampment to be taken possession of on the opposite side of the river,
usually called Little Tycocktow, facing the western side of Wantung.
There was every probability that these would be carried without
resistance, for the Wellesley had already seriously damaged the fort,
by her beautiful firing of shells, in the morning, and the Modeste had
also contributed to silence it. A party of the Wellesley's marines were
embarked in her own boats, about four o'clock, under Lieut. Maitland,
and proceeded across, in company with the Nemesis, in order to complete
the day's work. A few shots were fired by her as she approached the
fort, but, finding they were not returned, the boats pushed off to
land, including the boats of the Nemesis, with Capt. Hall and Lieut
Pedder. The fort was found abandoned; and having taken possession of
it, they advanced up the hill in the rear with all speed, as they
observed a body of Chinese in disorder, close to an encampment upon the
top of it. However, on the approach of the little party, they fled into
the interior, abandoning their lines, magazines, &c. These were all set
fire to and destroyed, and the effect of the blaze, which lasted for a
considerable time, becoming more vivid as the night closed in, spread
far and wide, among the distant inhabitants of the country, the general
panic which had already seized their troops. The conflagration extended
itself on all sides, much beyond the original site of the encampment,
and threw its lurid glare over the scene of slaughter and confusion of
the day. Having spiked the guns in the fort, the boats returned with
their crews to their respective ships.

Thus closed the eventful day of the capture of the famous Bogue
forts, and the total dispersion of their unfortunate defenders. Had
the Chinese been better armed, and more experienced in the important
science of gunnery, the capture of the forts would have cost us a much
greater sacrifice of human life. On this occasion, so trifling was
the latter, that at 3 P.M., when Captain Elliot issued his circular
announcing the fall of the batteries of the Bocca Tigris, to her
Majesty's forces, he added, that "no loss on our side had been reported
up to that hour." Sir Gordon Bremer had only subsequently to report,
that "_five men_ were slightly wounded, throughout the whole force."
Much surprise, however, was created by this announcement, for the
firing was for some time kept up with spirit from the forts. It was
also recorded with the utmost minuteness, "that the main-topmast and
fore-yard of the Blenheim were shot through, one gun was rendered
unserviceable, and there were several shots in the hull; that the
Melville had also a shot in one of her top-masts; that the Calliope was
struck; and that other ships had just a rope cut here and there." No
one could dispute the triumphant declaration of the commander-in-chief,
that he was "convinced that almost any number of men the Chinese could
collect, would not be able to stand against the animated gallantry of
his men for an instant."

It is to be regretted that the loss on the side of the Chinese, in
killed and wounded, should have been so considerable. Thirteen hundred
prisoners were taken, but were set at liberty soon afterwards; and,
altogether, upwards of five hundred were killed and wounded during the
day. Many of the Chinese officers boldly and nobly met their death,
some even courted it; they dreaded their master's wrath and their own
degradation more than the loss of life at the hands of their country's
foe. Among these, the most distinguished and most lamented, was poor
old Admiral Kwan, whose death excited much sympathy throughout the
force; he fell by a bayonet wound in his breast, as he was meeting his
enemy at the gate of Anunghoy, yielding up his brave spirit willingly
to a soldier's death, when his life could only be preserved with the
certainty of degradation. He was altogether a fine specimen of a
gallant soldier, unwilling to yield when summoned to surrender, because
to yield would imply treason.

Kwan's body was claimed and recognised by his own family the following
day, and was of course readily given up to them. A salute of
minute-guns was fired to his honour from the Blenheim, as a brave but
fallen enemy. It will be remembered that he was the same distinguished
personage who lost his red button or ball during the engagement with
the war-junks in Anson's Bay, and obtained it back again, at his own
request, through Capt. Elliot's intercession.

The resistance which the Chinese _might_ have offered to our forces
will be seen from the following account of the ordnance captured
during the day. On the southern Anunghoy fort, were 107 guns, of
various calibre; one being a 68-pounder, one a 42, and a good many of
32, 24, and 18. Four of them were very large brass guns, made by the
Portuguese, in 1627, two of these being upwards of eleven feet long,
and ten inches and three-quarters in diameter of the bore; three of the
iron ones were of English manufacture, and the remainder were heavy
Chinese guns. On the northern Anunghoy fort were 40 guns, about half of
them varying from 18 to 42-pounders. All of these were Chinese. At the
two sand-bag batteries, erected to the eastward of the southern fort,
were about 30 guns of small calibre; so that there were altogether on
that side of the river one hundred and seventy-seven guns. Again, upon
the little fortified island of North Wantung, were planted upwards of
one hundred and sixty guns, of which, however, one third were very
small, and of little service; and another third of them varied only
from six to twelve pounders. The remainder were mostly very good,
and some very heavy guns; one being a 68, and another a 42-pounder.
Several of these bore a curious inscription, similar to some others
subsequently taken on Lord Napier's fort, near Canton.

On the fort and works, on the mainland, on the western side of the
river, facing Wantung, were also mounted about forty guns. Thus, the
whole number captured in this day's operations amounted to three
hundred and eighty pieces of cannon; to which, if we add eighty pieces
more, captured on the preceding day by the Nemesis and boats, under
Capt. Herbert, at the masked battery and stockades in the river,
at the bottom of Anson's Bay, we shall find the whole number taken
and destroyed in these two days alone, at the first resumption of
hostilities, to have amounted to four hundred and sixty pieces.

Immediately after the British flag was planted triumphantly upon the
forts of the Bogue, or at any rate before the close of the day, a
notice was issued by Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer, by which the blockade
of the river of Canton was raised. British and foreign merchant-ships
were now permitted to proceed as far as the Bogue, and were to be
allowed to go further up the river, as soon as the obstructions to the
navigation could be removed.


[25] This was, on more than one occasion, the case during the war.
Soldiers were often found among the killed and wounded each having two
dollars on their persons, and, on one occasion, even six dollars.

[26] This, probably, alludes to the maxim of the Chinese moral code,
which says that it should be remembered that a "foreigner, though he be
a good man, and on terms of intimacy with you, is still _of a different

[27] This alludes to the famous pirate Kochinga, who was bought off and
made an admiral.

[28] During the heat of the action against the batteries of Anunghoy,
a very dashing thing was done by Commander Sullivan, who was serving
as a supernumerary commander on board the Melville. One of the boats
got adrift, owing to some accident, and was being carried by the
tide close in under the batteries. The instant this was perceived by
Commander Sullivan, he jumped into his gig, and pulled off to recover
the boat, in doing which he was of course exposed to the close fire of
the batteries, but he fortunately escaped unhurt, and brought the boat
safely back. This little spirited incident was not taken public notice

[29] Consisting of the Wellesley and Druid, with the Calliope,
Samarang, Herald, Alligator, Modeste, and Sulphur.

[30] The Chinese rarely make any effort to save even their own
countrymen from being drowned. Indeed, should a common boatman tumble
overboard accidentally, his own companions in the boat will often give
him no assistance, particularly if he is really in danger of being
drowned without it.


The great event which has now been described, the capture of the
Bogue forts, though purchased at a very small sacrifice on the part
of the victors, derived an immense importance from the greatness of
the sacrifice in reference to the Chinese. Although the cautious
discernment of a few men like Keshen might have appreciated the
strength of their enemy, and the comparative weakness of their
own defences, the fact of the fall of the Bogue forts, which were
considered by the Chinese throughout the empire, as well as by the
government, to be impregnable, created a degree of alarm in the public
mind without parallel since the Tartar conquest. Whatever reliance the
authorities on the spot, and the overweening arrogance of a population
accustomed only to the "submission" of foreigners, may have placed in
the efficiency of other recent preparations of a different description
higher up the river, these could never inspire confidence in the mass
of the nation, or even in the government, to whom the nature of them
could be little known.

The fall of the Bocca Tigris at once destroyed the charm of its
supposed strength, and the loss of a feudal tower of old could hardly
have spread more consternation among a host of vassals, than did the
fall of the Bogue forts among the Chinese nation. Totally inexperienced
in the horrors of war, they retained a sort of hereditary pride in the
Bogue, as their great bulwark against the inroads of the foreigner. The
whole nation was at that time unprepared for war, and the government
without any organized system of defence. Hence it is not difficult
to perceive, that advantage might have been taken of their momentary
state of alarm, to have urged them at once to the conclusion of some
kind of peaceable settlement. The whole difficulty, however, at that
time, seems to have turned upon the question of the supply of tea. The
Chinese saw clearly the anxiety which we shewed to obtain the year's
crop, and they quickly boasted that "their tea and their rhubarb were
as necessary to the foreigner as air itself." However, it was resolved
at length, that we should dictate the terms of peace at Canton, rather
than at the Bogue, and, accordingly, the fleet prepared to proceed
immediately up the river.

It will be remembered that a large chain cable had been thrown across
the river, supported by rafts, between Anunghoy and a little islet
close to South Wantung. It served them no good purpose whatever; and
after the ports were taken possession of, nothing was easier than to
remove this impediment to the navigation. The forts were next blown
up, or damaged as much as they could be, though not without great
labour and difficulty, arising from the heavy masses of stone and
chunam of which they were constructed. Chinese powder was, moreover,
used for the purpose, which, being less strong, though made as nearly
as possible with the same proportions and of the same materials as
our own, but with less care, added somewhat to the difficulty of the
task. Several days were occupied by the engineers, sappers, and miners,
assisted by seamen, in this laborious operation. It was, however,
effectually done at last, scarcely one stone being left standing upon

On the morning following the action, the light squadron under Captain
Herbert was ordered to proceed without delay up the river, in order
to follow up the advantages already gained by the panic created by
the capture of the Bogue. It consisted of the Calliope, Alligator,
Herald, Sulphur, and Modeste, with the Nemesis and Madagascar steamers.
The principal objects and the general aspect of the river, as far as
the second bar, (which is _below_ the first one,) have been already
described, in connexion with the account of the grand conference
between Keshen and Captain Elliot.[31]

The whole of the neighbouring country on both sides is almost one
continued tract of swampy rice-ground, an additional proof of the
endless water-communications. Above the first bar, the river becomes
more intricate in its navigation, having its channel broken and
divided by several islands, and ceasing to be navigable for vessels
even of moderate size beyond Whampoa, at least by any channel which
had been at that time discovered. But it will be presently seen that
another passage was soon afterwards found. The anchorage at Whampoa
had heretofore been the resort of all the foreign trading ships, and
the surrounding country at all times presents a very picturesque and
refreshing appearance. The Canton river would seem at various times to
have been subject to a great rise in its waters, and thus, overflowing
the country through which it passes, to have formed for itself new
passages and lines of communication, which in some parts give it the
appearance of dividing itself into numerous distinct rivers, at other
times merely separating its waters for a very short distance, leaving a
few picturesque islands between its branches, and speedily re-uniting
its numerous streamlets again.

Whampoa is, perhaps, the largest of several islands, which lie in the
main course of the river. It is about four miles in length, and has a
rather shallow channel on either side, navigable only for vessels of
very small draught of water. On its north-eastern side, quite towards
its lower end, lies the much smaller island called Junk Island, a
long narrow strip of land, which with its shoals greatly impedes
the navigation on that side. The channel between it and Whampoa is
generally known by the name of Junk River.

Nearly all our merchant-ships used to anchor towards the bottom of
Whampoa Island, in what has been called Whampoa Reach; but smaller ones
could proceed up as far as the village of that name, beyond which the
channel has become known by the name of Fiddler's Reach. Some, however,
of our largest ships were formerly accustomed to take in their outward
cargoes as low down as the "Second Bar," which occasioned an additional
charge for lighters or cargo boats, and other inconveniences; but these
now anchor in what has lately been called the Blenheim Reach, to the
southward of Danes' Island. (See map and plan of Canton.)

It is not a little remarkable, that the Chinese authorities should have
been able to keep foreigners so long in complete ignorance of some of
the most important branches of their magnificent river, which for two
centuries had witnessed the yearly increase of foreign commerce. This
no doubt was effected by the jealous orders which were issued to their
pilots, who dared not follow any other than the old prescribed track.
Yet it is also remarkable that, among so many ships which have annually
visited the river, none should have been found whose commanders were
led by curiosity, or stimulated by the tiresome sameness of an everyday
life during the dull season, to explore in open boats some of those
large and tempting passages, the openings of which could be seen.
Had not the war stimulated our exertions, or awakened our curiosity,
we should, without doubt, have remained as ignorant as ever of the
capabilities of the river, the extent of which was scarcely even

No wonder that smuggling in every form has been long carried on to such
a notorious extent by the Chinese at Whampoa, and in other parts of
the river. The communications by water from one point to another, and
with the interior of the country, are so numerous, and so interwoven
with each other, that it would be impossible for any system of fiscal
regulations which the Chinese could adopt to act efficiently against
the complicated machinery of evasion which could so easily be put in
operation. This, among other reasons, may have contributed (always
secondary, however, to their jealousy of foreigners) to the strictness
of their orders respecting the anchorage for our ships.

The light squadron proceeded up the river early on the morning of the
27th of February. It was not yet perfectly ascertained what obstacles
were to be met with, although it was well known that the Chinese had
been making extensive preparations to impede the advance of our forces.
The wind was light throughout the day, and the Sulphur, which was to
have been the leading vessel, fell behind; the Nemesis, therefore,
now took the lead, and proceeded with caution, giving the soundings
by signal to the squadron, by means of flags fastened to the ends of
long bamboos; by which contrivance the signals could be made with the
greatest rapidity.[33]

No new defences or hostile preparations on the part of the enemy
were discovered, until the squadron had passed up a considerable
distance beyond the second bar shoals. The Nemesis being still ahead,
it could now be made out distinctly with the telescope that a large
ship, probably the Cambridge, (a late British ship, purchased by the
Chinese,) was at anchor near the first bar. This was immediately
signalized to the squadron, which came to anchor about three miles from
the position indicated; but the Nemesis, having previously taken the
plenipotentiary and Captain Herbert on board, proceeded to reconnoitre,
and to ascertain if a clear passage existed for the ships, as the
channel was supposed to have been partially obstructed by sunken junks.

On arriving sufficiently near to observe accurately the dispositions
of the enemy, it was discovered that a considerable mud battery had
been constructed on the left bank of the river (the right in ascending)
above the first bar, near the Brunswick rock, below Whampoa; and that
in order to obstruct the advance of the squadron beyond it, a very
strong and broad raft, formed by large masses of timber secured well
together, had been carried quite across the river, from one side to the
other, precisely opposite the battery. Behind the raft lay the ship
Cambridge, (previously known as the Chesapeake,) with an admiral's flag
at the main, moored head and stern in such a way that only her bow
guns could be brought to bear for the defence of the raft. A number of
war-junks were also under weigh not far from her. It was evident that
the Chinese were quite prepared for resistance; and, had the Cambridge
been anchored with springs on her cable, so as to enable them to bring
her broadsides to bear alternately upon the raft, she might have fired
with very great effect upon any of our ships as they approached. But
the Chinese are not sufficiently acquainted with naval tactics to be
able to make the best use even of the resources at their command.

The war-junks looked much more formidable in the distance than when
more nearly viewed, and there was much more probability of their making
their escape after the first shots were fired, than that they would
offer any serious opposition. The fort itself consisted of a strong
line of mud batteries along the river front, and was afterwards found
to mount no less than forty-seven guns, which were principally intended
to protect the raft. On the left flank of the battery were also mounted
several guns, which bore directly upon the ships as they advanced up
the river; and beyond this, further on the flank, was a small battery
or field-work, mounting four or five guns, and connected with the
former by an embankment, with a small ditch before it, upon which were
planted a great number of ginjals, or wall-pieces. These latter, from
being more easily managed, and more accurately pointed, were often
calculated to do more injury than the great guns.

Within the fort, or line of field-works, was a double Chinese
encampment, containing about two thousand men. The rear of the
position was protected by a deep creek twenty-five yards wide, and by
paddy-fields, which were partially flooded. These impediments proved
very injurious to the Chinese themselves, when they were driven out of
the fort, and attempted to escape in the rear; and they suffered great
loss there in consequence. It must not be forgotten that the Cambridge
was heavily armed, although she proved of no service whatever to her
new masters.

It was determined that no time should be lost in commencing the attack
on this formidable line of defence, without even waiting for the
arrival of the other ships of the squadron. However, Captain Herbert
immediately went down in his own gig, to bring up the rest of the force
under his orders. Captain Elliot remained on board the Nemesis, and
on this and all other occasions exposed himself with a true sailor's
courage, during the hottest part of the engagement.

An excellent position was taken up by this vessel, not more than seven
hundred yards from the lower angle of the fort, and having anchored
with springs on her cable, she commenced throwing shot, shell, and
rockets single-handed into the fort and camp, and also at the Cambridge
behind the raft. The guns were plied with great precision, principally
under the direction of Mr. Crouch and Mr. Strangways, mates, R.N.

It was now little more than half-past one, and at two o'clock the
Madagascar took up a position a little outside of the Nemesis, and
commenced firing at the Cambridge with her 24-pounders. The Chinese
kept up their fire from as many guns as they could bring to bear, and
from numerous large ginjals, with considerable spirit. The Nemesis was
struck several times, but fortunately only one man was wounded. One
of the large shot passed completely through the outer casing of the
steam-chest, from one side to the other, and was very near penetrating
the steam-chest itself, which would have been one of the most serious
accidents which could possibly befal her. The fire of the Chinese was
so well sustained for some time, that repeated persuasion was tried,
but in vain, to induce Capt. Elliot (who was standing as a spectator
during the whole time upon the bridge between the paddle-boxes) to
retire from such an exposed situation.

The Nemesis, having afterwards changed her position, got aground by
running too close in shore, in order to get as near as possible to the
battery, and became so much exposed, that besides receiving several
shot in her hull, she had her spars and rigging a good deal cut up.

At three o'clock the remainder of the squadron had arrived, the Sulphur
being the first vessel which anchored and commenced firing; the other
ships, however, came up in close succession, and fired their broadsides
with great effect upon the batteries, the Cambridge, and the war-junks.
The vessels engaged were the Calliope, Alligator, Herald, Modeste, and
Sulphur, with the Nemesis and Madagascar steamers.

The Chinese, who had been already staggered by the smart fire of the
steamers, were now completely bewildered by the additional attack
of the other vessels. Their fire speedily slackened; and at about
half-past three the boats of the squadron, with the marines under
Lieut. Stransham, and a party of seamen under their respective
officers, put off to land and storm the works, the whole under the
able direction of Capt. Herbert. Those of the Nemesis being nearest in
shore, had the advantage in landing first. All the best men on board,
including some of her engineers, had volunteered for the occasion, and
the whole force now formed together, and immediately dashed on to the
gate leading into the fort close upon the shore. The Chinese attempted
to defend it, but it was forced, although several of the Chinese
officers fought with determined bravery, but little science. Their
troops retreated in disorder, and the British flag was planted upon the
fort by Capt. Hall himself, who as usual headed his own party.

On this occasion one of the Chinese officers, with cool determination
and a steady aim, deliberately discharged four _arrows_ from his bow
at Capt. Hall, fortunately without effect. Had they been musket-balls,
however, he could scarcely have escaped. A marine instantly raised his
musket at the less fortunate Chinese officer: the aim was unerring, and
he fell. An attempt was first made to save him for his coolness and
courage; but in the heat of an engagement it is impossible to control
every man, nor is it probable that the officer would have allowed
himself to be taken prisoner.

About four o'clock the fort was completely in our possession, the
Chinese having in vain attempted to stand against the hot fire of our
musketry. They scrambled out at the rear of the fort in the best way
they could, and there suffered severe loss. In fact they were caught
as it were in a trap; for the deep creek and flooded paddy-fields in a
great measure prevented their flight, so that about a hundred of them
were killed or drowned at that spot, although every effort was made
to save them. Some of them tried to escape across the river, jumping
into the water merely with pieces of wood or small logs in their hands,
which they picked up as chance threw them in their way, in the hope
that these would be sufficient to support them in the water.

While the principal part of our force was thus driving out the Chinese
on one side of the fort, another and smaller party, consisting of
volunteers from the Nemesis and Calliope, were hastening on towards the
gate at the opposite end, at the extremity of the river-front of the
fort, the Chinese retreating before them. Close by the gate stood a
house, in which many of them took refuge; but finding that there was no
hope of escape, and that resistance would be useless, they immediately

The great object now to be attained was to board the Cambridge, which
was lying abreast of the fort. Unfortunately no Chinese boat was to be
found along the shore, and it was quite tantalizing for the moment to
see a prize so near without the means of reaching her.

At this juncture Lieut. Watson, first-lieutenant of the Calliope,
gallantly succeeded in dragging one of his boats across the rafts,
and launched her on the other side. He then took on board some of the
little party on shore, who seeing a body of Chinese crowding upon
the deck of the Cambridge, had continued firing upon them. The boat
instantly pulled off to the Cambridge, under the command of Lieut.
Watson, having with him Mr. Browne, the master of the Calliope, Capt.
Hall, and Mr. Galbraith, of the Nemesis, together with Mr. St. Leger,
and about nine or ten men.

The Chinese were so alarmed at the sudden attack upon all their
defences at once, and at the capture of the fort, as well as at the
loss they had already sustained on board, that they offered little or
no resistance; most of them jumped overboard on the starboard side as
the boarding party climbed up on the port side.

Many of the Chinese must have been drowned in attempting to swim on
shore, as there were no boats at hand to pick them up, and their own
redoubtable war-junks had already made the best of their way up the
river, for fear of meeting the same fate as the Cambridge. A number
of dead and wounded were found upon the decks, strong evidence of the
well-directed shot of our ships. She mounted altogether thirty-four
guns of English manufacture; and it was rather surprising to see how
well the Chinese had prepared for action, the guns being in perfect
order, fire-buckets distributed about the decks, and everything very
clean and well-arranged.

It now became a question whether she was to be blown up or retained
as a prize; but it was decided by Captain Herbert, that she should be
set on fire and destroyed, principally with a view to strike terror
into the Chinese, far and wide, by the explosion; and partly, also,
because she was an old and useless ship. Preparations, therefore, were
at once made by Lieutenant Watson, with this object. The wounded were
all carried on shore, and every part of the ship was searched with
great care, to ascertain that there were not any Chinamen remaining
concealed. The few stores found on board were of very little value, and
at five o'clock she was set on fire.

Slowly the flames spread throughout the ship, gradually bursting out
of every port; little more than an hour sufficed for the fire to reach
the magazine, and then she suddenly blew up, rending the atmosphere,
and making every object around her tremble with the explosion. The
sparks of fire and burning timbers were thrown far and wide in every
direction; and, as it was by this time dark, they served to spread the
alarming intelligence even among those who were scarcely near enough to
hear the explosion. Several houses took fire at a considerable distance
from the spot, by the falling of the burning fragments which were
carried through the air. The lower part of the hull of the Cambridge
went down in deep water.

Thus ended the tragedy of the day; and, following as it did only
twenty-four hours after the capture of the Bogue, and at the distance
of only a few miles from Canton, we can easily imagine how completely
it must have paralysed for the moment all the little remaining spirit
and energy of the Chinese. The city of Canton would probably have
fallen an easy prey, had our successes been followed up by a bold dash
at it. But the different approaches by which our forces could advance
were then very imperfectly known, otherwise the smallness of our
numbers would in any case have been amply compensated by the panic of
the moment.

Throughout the operations of the day, Captain Elliot had distinguished
himself by his personal courage, and landed with the party from the
Nemesis to storm the fort. The loss of the Chinese is believed to have
amounted to about three hundred killed and wounded. On our own side
there were eight or nine men wounded and one killed. The magazine
of the fort, and the guns, about sixty in number, were destroyed or
rendered useless. Those of the Cambridge were blown up with the vessel.

The great raft across the river was not less than five hundred and
fifty yards long, and is said to have cost the Chinese an immense sum
of money, which was exacted from the Hong merchants. It was constructed
with great strength and solidity, for upon it they had rested their
most confident hopes of successful resistance. It was cleared away,
not without a good deal of labour, on the following day, and thus the
passage was now opened for the advanced squadron to proceed up to

The Madagascar was sent down to the Bogue, to inform Commodore Sir
Gordon Bremer of what had taken place, while the boats of the squadron,
together with the Sulphur and Nemesis, pushed on to explore the river
higher up--a reconnoissance being necessary before the ships could
advance, owing to the uncertainty as to what impediments the Chinese
might have formed to obstruct the navigation.

During the day, the Nemesis and boats got far enough up the branch on
the eastern side of Whampoa, called Junk River, to catch a view of a
little fort at the upper end of Whampoa, called Howqua's Folly.[34] It
was further ascertained that a large body of Chinese were collecting in
that direction, principally on the shore opposite the island, and that
a double line of stakes, interlaced with bamboos, were driven across
the upper part of the Junk River passage, where also several large
junks appeared to have been sunk.

It turned out afterwards that, had the Nemesis proceeded only a hundred
yards further on, she would have been lucky enough to discover a masked
battery, which it was reserved for the boats of the Wellesley, in
company with the Sulphur, to find out on the following day, and to have
the honour of capturing.

In the meantime, Sir Gordon Bremer, in consequence of the important
intelligence conveyed to him by the Madagascar, hastened up from the
Bogue the same day, bringing with him the marines of the Wellesley,
together with a hundred seamen, under Captain Maitland. The marines of
the Blenheim, Melville, and Druid, likewise followed, together with a
number of boats well armed and manned. The Queen steamer also came up,
bringing with her the Eagle transport, and another, the Sophia, being
towed up by the Madagascar.

In the evening, Sir Gordon Bremer, with these seasonable
reinforcements, joined the advanced squadron just as they had got up to
Whampoa Reach. In consequence of the report made to the commodore of
the reconnoissance which had been made during the day, he was induced
to send up the Sulphur on the following morning, together with three
of the boats of the Wellesley, to pursue the examination further.
The boats of the Wellesley were commanded by Lieutenant Symonds, the
first lieutenant of that ship. It is distinctly stated, in Sir Gordon
Bremer's _official despatch_, that the Sulphur was towed (going _up_)
by the boats, and that, as soon as they had got within range of the
masked battery, which had been suspected but not discovered the day
before, the latter opened upon them; upon which, Lieutenant Symonds,
with great decision and gallantry, instantly cut the tow-rope, and
dashed off to storm the fort.

Such is the account published at the time. But in Captain Belcher's
account of the affair, (vol. ii. p. 158,) it is stated that this was a
mistake, and that the Sulphur was not _towed_ at all by the boats; it
is left to be inferred, also, that Lieutenant Symonds did _not_ cut the
tow-rope, or else that, if he had done so, he would have been guilty of
a breach of discipline.

I have no means of judging between these two accounts; but it was
generally understood that Lieutenant Symonds' gallantry and energy were
highly approved of by the commodore, whether in obedience of orders
or otherwise. Captain Belcher further states that he himself "jumped
into his gig to _recal_ the boats, or to prevent them doing too much,
and that it was by Captain Elliot's wish, who was _left in charge
during his absence_." Still it appears that the battery was carried
by Lieutenant Symonds and his men, who soon drove the Chinese out of
it, killing several. The official account further states that the
Sulphur immediately anchored, and sent a few shot in amongst the thick
underwood, in which the Chinese took shelter.

The battery was found to mount about twenty-three guns, which, together
with the magazine, and all the _matériel_, were destroyed. The boats
were repeatedly struck by grape-shot as they dashed on shore, but only
one man was wounded mortally.

The Nemesis came up the Reach during the day, and managed to get
within long gun-shot of Howqua's Folly, about two miles higher up. In
the evening, the Alligator, Modeste, and Herald, joined her, with two
transports. The distance from Canton was now so short, that they must
have been within sight of the city, although there was too little water
by the direct passage to enable them to get up further. The channels by
which they afterwards reached Canton had not as yet been discovered.

Howqua's Fort, or folly, was built of stone, at the mouth of a little
creek, at the extremity of Whampoa Island, and was surrounded by low
paddy-fields, which occasioned its foundation to be so insecure that it
afterwards fell down. It mounted nearly thirty guns of various calibre.
The commandant seems to have had no particular taste for fighting,
and thought a timely retreat would save him a vast deal of trouble.
The fort was accordingly soon abandoned. A detachment of the 26th
Cameronians occupied it, while a party of marines, under Captain Ellis,
took possession of a large joss-house, or temple, opposite to it, on
the other side of Junk River, where a strong body of the enemy had
already been seen. They strengthened this position against any sudden

Just above these two points, and consequently between Howqua's and
Napier's Folly, which latter was situated upon the extremity of a
low alluvial island, a little above Whampoa, a strong line of stakes
or piles had been driven into the bed of the river. The next step,
therefore, was to clear a passage through them, which was not to be
very easily effected, owing to the rapidity of the stream, and the
stiffness of the soil forming the river's bed.

Just at this juncture, the prefect of Canton or Kwang-Chow-Foo came
alongside the Nemesis in his barge, attended by a linguist, and
inquired for Captain Elliot, who happened not to be on board. Upon this
the prefect affected to be in a great hurry to go away, saying that
he could not wait for his return. Captain Hall told him that if he
couldn't wait, he had better be off at once. But he continued, for some
time, sitting in his boat, which was hanging on astern, evidently with
forced composure, for he declined coming on board the steamer.

As soon as Captain Elliot returned, they went down to Whampoa Reach
together, where a conference was held in due form. Captain Elliot
certainly wished that hostilities should not be pushed further, if it
could be avoided; and, accordingly, although it was perfectly well
known and admitted that Keshen had been degraded from his office of
commissioner, and that his successor had not yet arrived, a truce was
agreed upon for three days with the Kwang-Chow-Foo. This was a humane
and conciliating piece of leniency on the part of Captain Elliot, for,
at that moment, there was really no responsible public officer who
could undertake on the part of the Chinese to treat for or accept any
terms whatever. At the same time, it was not denied that a general
panic prevailed at Canton, and that vast numbers of people were leaving
the city.

A lull now ensued, the probable result of which it was idle to guess,
although it was generally expected that hostilities would be resumed,
and that no settlement whatever could be attempted, until Canton itself
was completely at our mercy. This happened precisely at the moment of
the arrival of Major-General Sir Hugh Gough, from Madras, in H.M.S.
Cruizer, to assume the command in chief of all the land-forces, by the
orders of the governor-general of India. This important event happened
on the 2nd March, 1841; and the arrival of a general of acknowledged
bravery and distinction was a subject of much congratulation, and was
looked upon as likely to lead to energetic and decisive steps.

It was also just about this time that the force which had been ordered
down from Chusan arrived in the Canton River--namely, the Pylades,
Blonde, Conway, and Nimrod, together with the transports, conveying the
troops. Our forces were, therefore, now concentrated; and, whatever
may be the opinion generally entertained concerning the policy of so
suddenly giving up Chusan long before the answer could have arrived
from Pekin respecting Keshen's treaty, it happened, nevertheless,
very much to our advantage, that the whole of a still small force was
now united at one point, for the more effective prosecution of any
enterprise which it might be advisable to undertake. Thus it occurred
on many occasions during the war, that what appeared at first sight
unfortunate, or, at all events, little likely to be attended with good
results, turned out, in the end, to be most advantageous. The addition
of these reinforcements from Chusan enabled us now to dictate terms to
the Chinese authorities, which, without them, it would not have been so
easy to exact.

Advantage was taken of the interval of the three days' truce (which
was to expire on the 5th) to explore in the Nemesis, by the orders of
Captain Herbert, one of those broad passages which were known to turn
off to the westward, from Whampoa Reach. It was thought likely to lead,
indirectly, even to Canton, and might therefore greatly facilitate the
advance of our forces upon the city. It has already been stated, that
these channels had never been properly explored by foreigners; though a
passage of some sort or other was well known to exist on either side of
French and Dane's Islands.

Captain Elliot himself was very anxious upon this subject, and offered
a reward of one hundred dollars to any active fisherman or pilot who
would point out the best channel. It was thought probable, also, that
there were _several_ channels, some, perhaps, large enough for our
sloops, of which we were hitherto perfectly ignorant.

A pilot soon offered his services, in consideration of the handsome
reward; although there appeared little doubt of the Nemesis being able
to find a passage for herself (drawing so little water) without any
pilot at all.

Soon after nine o'clock, the Nemesis got under weigh, under the
direction of Captain Herbert, having Captain Elliot and other officers
on board. The object was not to make any minute survey of the passage;
but merely to ascertain, by a cursory examination, the nature of the
channel, and in what direction it was likely to terminate. Leaving
Dane's and French Islands to the southward, they proceeded very
cautiously to thread their way through the shoals or mud-banks which
were found in the passage. The country on both sides was low and
swampy, but the channel was not found blocked up by sunken junks or
stones, as it had been in other parts; probably because the Chinese
hardly expected that any attempt would be made to pass through it,
and partly because the river into which it led (the Broadway or Macao
passage) had been already sufficiently fortified and obstructed. They
passed a deserted battery and one or two small villages.

In the course of a couple of hours, during which time they had advanced
slowly, with a depth of water from two to three fathoms, they came
in sight of a circular stone fort, with a tower or pagoda upon it,
apparently between two and three miles distant.

As the truce had not yet expired, it was not thought right to proceed
further for the present; but they had already reached the point of
junction with the Macao passage or Broadway River, in the middle
of which the fort (which was afterwards called the Macao Fort) was
situated. Enough had been ascertained to serve as a guide for future
operations; and the Nemesis, passing round a small island at the head
of the passage, returned the same way she had come, and rejoined the
squadron at Whampoa. It was through this passage that some of our
vessels proceeded, a few days afterwards, to the attack of the fort,
which has been noticed above.

On the following day, the 6th, the truce expired. But there was
anything but a peaceable disposition shewn on the part of the Chinese
authorities. They issued strict orders that none of the natives should
supply provisions to our ships. The boats which had hitherto come
fearlessly alongside our vessels all on a sudden disappeared; and it
was known at Canton that the native merchants were compelled to remove
all the tea and silk out of the town.

In consequence of these proceedings, a proclamation was addressed by
Captain Elliot to the people of Canton, telling them that they were
quite at our mercy, and that the city was only spared "in order to shew
how _tenderly_ the good and peaceable inhabitants were considered"
(by the English). But it was added, that, "if the authorities should
continue to prevent the native merchants from buying and selling
with the foreign merchants, then the whole trade of Canton was to be
immediately stopped, and the city strictly blockaded." It then wound up
by throwing "the whole responsibility of the present state of things
upon the bad advisers of the emperor."

Preparations were now made for an immediate advance upon the city; and
it was a favourite notion of Captain Elliot that he could blockade
all the approaches to Canton, and thus, by cutting off its immense
_internal_ commerce, upon which thousands depend for their living,
and nearly the whole population for its supplies of food, constrain
the authorities to come to some reasonable terms, without any further
necessity for a resort to arms.


[31] It should be remembered that by the first and second bar are
merely meant sand-banks or flats, which impede the navigation of the
river, of course contracting, to a certain extent, the channel for
large ships. The second bar is a large shoal on the left side of the
river, ascending (or geographically on its right bank) upwards of
ten miles above Tiger Island. The pagoda, near which the conference
was held, stands near its upper extremity, on the same bank of the
river. The first bar, however, lies about seven miles higher up on the
opposite side of the river, and is not so extensive a flat as the lower
one. It seems to have been formed by a deposit from the waters of one
of the larger of those numerous rivers, or their branches, which empty
themselves not only into the Canton River, but into all the principal
rivers of China. Indeed so numerous are these water communications in
every direction, that Keshen was perfectly correct in his observation
that small vessels could proceed wherever they pleased, even up to
Canton itself, without passing through the main river. Of course the
channel becomes both narrower and more intricate in the neighbourhood
of the bar; and therefore the Chinese shewed considerable judgment in
attempting to defend this position, which was in fact the most tenable
one between the Bogue and Whampoa; from which latter place it was
distant about four miles.

[32] The newly-explored passages will be described in the order
of their discovery. The Blenheim Reach, Browne's Passage, and the
communications with the Broadway River, by which our light squadron
afterwards reached the city of Canton, were as yet quite unknown to us.

[33] It is worthy of notice, that not a single ship of the squadron
touched the ground on their passage up, although there was no native
pilot on board any of the vessels. The great advantage of steamers
drawing little water in leading a fleet up a river is undeniable; the
certainty and perfect control of their movements, with the facility
of changing their position, or of backing off, should they touch the
ground, give them an immense advantage over every other description of
vessel for exploring the passage of a river.

[34] Why some of the forts should be called "Follies" does not appear
evident. Such were the Dutch Folly, French Folly, Napier's Folly, and
Howqua's Folly. The most _foolish_ of them all was certainly the last,
which ultimately fell down, owing to the foundation being weakened by
the washing of the river.


Captain Elliot now addressed a request to the naval and military
commanders-in-chief, that they would make no further movements towards
the city until the disposition of the provincial officers could be
put to the test. All the private information which could be gathered,
however, tended to shew that further delay was likely to be useless,
and even prejudicial. As soon, therefore, as the day for the expiration
of the truce had arrived, the Nemesis was ordered to convey Captain
Elliot, with the commodore and the major-general, together with their
respective suites, up to Howqua's Fort, having the broad pendant
flying; there several other ships of the advanced squadron were
already at anchor. The flag of truce was then lowered, and immediate
dispositions were made for the capture of Napier's Fort, which was a
little distance higher up.[35]

A little below the fort a strong double line of piles had been driven
into the bed of the river, completely across from one bank to the
other. These were strengthened by sunken junks, and the passage was
further blocked up by large stones thrown into the river, and other
impediments. There were flanking batteries also on either side,
recently built of mud, and not quite finished; they were intended to
mount thirty-five and forty-four guns.

These positions were capable of being stoutly defended, had they been
fully armed and manned. Such, however, was not the case; and, as the
commandant of the fort was inclined to exhibit the same compliant
disposition as his gallant companion in arms had shewn at Howqua's Fort
below, no resistance was offered; in fact, the garrison all ran away
as soon as they had fired off their guns, having previously intimated
their intention, and succeeded in making good their escape.

The Sulphur, accompanied by some of the boats of the squadron, managed
to get up first, and took possession, followed by the Nemesis, with the
commodore on board, and other vessels. A detachment of troops had been
sent round by the general, with a view to take the flanking-batteries
in the rear; but, as it now appeared that they were undefended, and as
the march over swampy paddy-fields, and across numerous water-courses,
was anything but agreeable, and not likely now to be useful, they
returned to the joss-house below.

In the afternoon, the Nemesis proceeded with the commodore and Captain
Elliot down to Whampoa, passing along the western side of that island,
by the channel which was known by the name of Fiddler's Reach; she had
therefore gone completely _round_ Whampoa Island in the course of the
day, for she went up by the eastern or Junk river side, and came down
by the western or Fiddler's Reach passage, proving the practicability
of _both_ channels for vessels of small draught of water.

It may be well here to notice that, at a subsequent period, after the
fall of Canton, and when the Chinese were prevented by us from renewing
or extending any of the defences of the river _below_ Whampoa,[36] they
set about strengthening the positions above that island with all the
resources they could employ. Before the close of the war, they not only
rebuilt Napier's Fort in a much more substantial manner, but fortified
all that line of the river upon a plan much superior to any they had
hitherto attempted.

Three other large stone forts have been built, with a view to command
the navigation of this part of the river; namely, one on each bank
of the river opposite Napier's Fort, and one about half a mile lower
down, at the point where the river is strongly staked across. Viewed
from the river, all these new forts look extremely formidable, being
built entirely of stone, of considerable height, and calculated to
mount little less than _two hundred guns_. The structure of all these
new works is of a superior kind to any before seen in China; and it is
generally supposed that they have been built at the suggestion or with
the assistance of some European engineer. But, as usual in China, the
rear of the forts is almost entirely unprotected, except by a stone
wall; and, were it not that the advance of an enemy on that side would
be greatly impeded by ditches and paddy-fields, which would oppose
difficulties to the bringing up of artillery, they could be captured
without any extraordinary effort.

The short pause in our operations, which now again took place at
the request of Captain Elliot, was precisely in accordance with the
liberal assurances of the most _pacific_ intentions on the part of the
Chinese. Their acts, however, by no means agreed with their words. It
was perfectly ascertained that a large number of fire-vessels were
being prepared a few miles above Canton; that new defences were being
constructed around the city, particularly upon the heights in its rear;
and that people were removing their property from the town, and no
valuable produce was allowed to be brought into it. Sir Gordon Bremer
distinctly expressed his conviction that the measure of attacking
Canton itself must speedily be resorted to; although he deplored the
excesses to which it might give rise, owing to the abandonment of the
city by the authorities, and the absence of control over the rabble
of a community proverbially bad. The major-general now went down the
river, and remained at Wantung with the commodore, where plans for the
future operations were devised.

About this time, Keshen, whose functions had already ceased, left
Canton for Pekin in disgrace, in order to be put upon his trial for
traitorous conduct, as his unfortunate defeats were now termed. The
result was, that he was utterly degraded; all his property, which was
enormously valuable, was confiscated, and he himself banished to the
cold regions of Tartary.

On the 10th, despatches were sent up by the Nemesis from Captain
Elliot (who in the meantime had gone to Macao) to the commodore at
the Bogue, in consequence of the Chinese authorities having issued
chops or passports for all ships, _except British_, to proceed up the
river to trade, as far as Whampoa. This act of open defiance could not
be overlooked, and Captain Elliot himself seems to have been struck
with the hostile temper which this proceeding evinced. A notice was,
in consequence, issued to the effect, "that, as the port of Canton,
from its entrance to its extremity, was in the military occupation
of her Majesty's arms, no ships whatever would be permitted to enter
the river, except under the authority of the commander-in-chief; and,
moreover, that a close embargo would be laid on the city and trade of
Canton, until the whole of their foreign trade should be placed upon a
perfectly equal footing, without any exception whatever."

In point of fact, our previous forbearance had not been understood, and
was certainly looked upon rather as an evidence of conscious weakness
on our part, than as what it actually was--an instance of forbearance,
resulting from conscious strength.

It was, probably, the necessity which he now felt of striking some blow
calculated to make an immediate impression upon the Chinese, which
induced Captain Elliot to direct his attention to one of the most
boldly-conceived and successfully-executed exploits which have to be
recorded during this campaign. It appears to have struck him almost on
a sudden; and, finding that Captain Scott, of the Samarang, who was
then senior officer at Macao, and also Captain Hall, of the Nemesis,
entirely concurred with him in his views, it was resolved that not a
moment should be lost. Above all, it was kept perfectly secret; so that
no rumour of any new project could reach any of the inhabitants of
Macao, either Portuguese or Chinese. The undertaking to which I allude,
became afterwards generally known as the forcing of the Broadway, or
Inner, or Macao Passage, (for it has obtained all these names,) by
the Nemesis, accompanied by three boats--viz., two belonging to the
Samarang, and one to the Atalanta steamer. This passage leads direct
from Macao to Canton, but had been hitherto frequented only by native
boats; indeed, no others were permitted to pass through it. This was
one of those numerous opportunities in which the Nemesis so clearly
demonstrated the great advantage to be derived from the employment
of shallow iron steamers in hostile operations along the course of
unexplored rivers.

It must here be remarked that this intricate passage was one never
before traversed by any European vessel or boat, and believed by
the Chinese themselves to be inaccessible to foreigners, both owing
to the shallowness and intricacy of its channels, and to the number
and strength of the artificial defences erected on its banks. It
can, perhaps, be scarcely called a distinct river, but may be rather
considered as in reality one of those almost innumerable channels
which present themselves to view on every side, along the whole
sea-board of China; dividing and then re-uniting, sometimes receiving
large branches, sometimes throwing them off, here communicating with
other rivers, and there even traversing across them. It is difficult
to ascertain, with regard to many of them, whether they are distinct
rivers or branches, or mere water-courses, leading from one to the
other. In short, with respect more particularly to the country about
Canton, the whole of it appears to be subdivided, again and again, by
these ever-multiplying channels, which form a sort of fluid network,
embracing the soil it nourishes and _reproduces_. Many of these are
only known, among the Chinese themselves, by those who depend on them
for subsistence; and who, rarely quitting them, make their boat their
floating home.

On leaving the roads of Macao, and proceeding nearly due west, after
passing the town and the entrance to the Inner Harbour beyond it,
you come into a straight but rather shallow channel, which continues
in the same direction along the southern shore of the island called
Twee-Lien-Shan.[37] Having reached its western extremity, which is
about four miles from Macao, you very shortly enter the mouth of a
river, which is broad but shallow, and becomes narrower as you proceed
up towards the north-west, by the gradual contraction of its shores.
This is the entrance to the Broadway, or Inner Passage. Several
openings were soon perceived on both sides, probably the mouths of
smaller rivers or creeks, entering the larger channel. The proper
opening of the Inner Passage begins about six miles from the western
point of Twee-Lien-Shan Island, but the narrow part of it is about four
miles further on.

Let us now imagine ourselves just embarked on board the Nemesis in
Macao roads, at three o'clock in the morning on the 13th of March, all
the arrangements having been completed the day before. Already, Captain
Elliot and suite are on board; and Captain Scott, of the Samarang, who
commands the force, is standing on the quarter deck with the other
officers, impatient to start, while the boats of the Samarang, and
that of the Atalanta, are being made fast astern. And we must also not
omit to record that Mr. Johnston, the deputy superintendent of trade,
and also Mr. Morrison and Mr. Thom, the indefatigable interpreters and
secretaries,[38] the value of whose services throughout the war it is
impossible too highly to appreciate, were also on board during this

Having quitted the town of Macao with the utmost quietness, leaving
all the world asleep, and unconscious of any movement, they soon fell
in with a large junk at anchor, which was fortunately able to furnish
a pilot, one of her crew being taken out, not without reluctance, for
that purpose. At first the poor fellow was very much frightened, but,
finding that he was well treated, well fed, and good pay promised, he
soon became reconciled to his position, and behaved well throughout.
During the day he seemed very little concerned about the firing either
of the steamer or of his own countrymen, and piloted the vessel, as far
as his knowledge extended, up the river very accurately.

The progress was at first slow, owing to the shallowness of the water,
which often did not much exceed _five_ feet, for a vessel of more than
six hundred tons burden! Indeed the pilot himself maintained that it
would be impossible for the vessel to proceed; and it may be noticed
that the soundings at the entrance were not found so deep as laid down
in Horsburgh's chart, in which they are partially given. However, on
she went, nothing daunted either by mud, sand, or water, or even by the
shallowness of the river.

Day had now long dawned; and at eight o'clock she came in sight of a
fort on the starboard hand, which proved to be situated on a small
promontory on the left bank of the river. It is called Motow, and is
situated some distance below a point where the main channel separates
into two branches. Half an hour afterwards, the Nemesis was near enough
to take up a position to the southward of the fort, so that she could
fire directly into it without any of the enemy's guns being able to
bear upon her; in fact, she enfiladed the position. Upon this the fort
was abandoned by the Chinese, whose flight was accelerated by their
seeing that the boats were putting off to attack them. The place was
immediately taken possession of, the buildings of every description set
on fire, and the guns, thirteen in number, rendered unserviceable. The
boat's crews were again on board the Nemesis in about an hour, and she
pursued her course without loss of time.

About four miles further on, just above where the river becomes more
contracted by its division, a second fort was discovered, also situated
on the left bank. The position was well chosen, upon a rising ground,
at some distance from the river side, but commanding the whole bend or
reach of the river in front of it. It was built of mud, but protected
nearly all round by flooded paddy-grounds.

On this occasion the Chinese were the first to open their fire upon the
Nemesis as she rounded an intervening point of land, and entered the
reach above mentioned. They kept up their fire at first very smartly,
having probably trained all their guns to bear upon one particular
point. It was most effectually returned by the steamer with shot,
shell, and rockets, which were thrown (as officially reported by
Captain Scott himself) with remarkable accuracy. The boats again put
off to land, under cover of the rising bank on the river side, with
the intention of taking the position in flank; but the Chinese at once
abandoned their works; though, if they had resisted the advance, they
might have inflicted severe loss, as the party could only approach
the fort along a narrow causeway, in single file. The works were
immediately taken possession of, and were found to mount twelve or
fourteen guns, which were of course destroyed, as were also the sheds
and buildings within the fort, which, however, were of very recent
construction, and of a temporary nature.

Before returning to the steamer, the boats pulled across to the
opposite side of the river, where a large chop-house and military depôt
were likewise destroyed. The name of the fort, or field-work, above
described, was Tei-yat-kok.[39] At this point several other Chinamen
were taken on board as pilots, for the better navigation of the channel
through which they had now to proceed.

They had ascended a very little way further up the river, when to
the joy of every one, they espied nine war-junks under weigh, a
considerable distance ahead, and chase was given at full speed, in
spite of all obstacles of the navigation. The interest and excitement
momentarily increased, as every mile they advanced served to lead
them to the conclusion that the Chinese were better prepared for
defence than had been at all expected. Indeed, it was not a little
remarkable that a passage never before explored by foreigners should
have been found in a state of preparation against attack, by forts of
old standing and solid construction, as well as by works of recent and
temporary formation.

On entering the bend of the river in which the junks had been first
caught sight of, a considerable stone-built fort was discovered,
called Houchung, or Ha-chap, close to the river's side, upon its right
bank, (on the left hand ascending,) in front of which, and perfectly
commanded by it, piles had been driven across the river, so as to
obstruct the navigation. But the work had apparently not been quite
finished, and a narrow opening was still left in the centre, through
which the junks had already passed, in order to take up a more secure
position, as they thought, on the other side. The fort mounted fourteen
or fifteen guns. But there was also another and smaller fort close
to it, built of earth, and not yet finished, being without guns, but
having ten embrasures.

Here again the Chinese were the first to begin firing, both from the
fort and junks; but it was returned with precision and rapidity by the
Nemesis, under cover of which the boats pushed off to storm the fort.
This was effected without much difficulty. The fall of the fort of
course left the passage through the stakes quite unprotected, except
by the junks; but the Chinese sailors were so panic-struck by the
rapidity with which the fort had been taken, and by the approach of the
boats, which were now making their way through the stakes to attack
them, that seven out of the nine were run ashore by their crews,--when
they immediately jumped overboard and escaped, leaving their vessels
entirely at our mercy.

Just as the boats came up to take possession, a field-work on the left
bank, within little more than a hundred yards of the headmost junk,
opened fire on them unexpectedly with grape-shot. As the junks were
already abandoned, a strong party at once landed, under Lieut. Bower,
and carried the field-work, by passing round to its rear, which, as
usual with the Chinese, was left almost unprotected. This place, which
was called Fie-shu-kok, was set on fire and destroyed, together with
the seven guns which were mounted on it. The war-junks were likewise
set on fire, and blew up very shortly after. But the two which had not
been run ashore contrived to make good their escape.

During the time that these operations were being effected, Capt. Hall
had dexterously succeeded in getting his steamer through the stakes by
the same opening through which the junks had passed, and which barely
afforded room for her paddle-boxes. The flood-tide was now running up
with great rapidity, and she was therefore dropped through the passage,
being steadied by kedges and hawsers, two of which they cut away, and
left behind.

She now joined the boats opposite Fie-shu-kok; and as soon as the
destruction of the junks and works had been completed, it was resolved
to push on further up the river, in the hope of overtaking the
two junks which had got away. Altogether twenty-one guns had been
destroyed in these forts, and twenty-eight more in the junks. But the
_impression_ made through all the neighbouring country by these active
measures, was far more important than the mere destruction of a certain
number of guns.

At half-past three they arrived at the large trading town of
Heong-Shan, about five or six miles further up. The river flows
straight through the middle of it, so that they found themselves
unexpectedly in the centre of an important inland town, in which, if
it had been their object, it was easily within their power to inflict
severe injury upon a dense and apparently harmless population. But
it has been mentioned before that much suffering was spared by the
assistance of Mr. Morrison and Mr. Thom. Capt. Elliot also exerted
himself very much to prevent the peasantry or mere lookers-on from
being implicated; and he sometimes allowed even the armed soldiers to
escape, rather than run the risk of injuring the innocent. The object
was to confine hostilities as much as possible to the servants and
property of the Chinese government, leaving the people uninjured.

The good effect of this policy was soon very evident. The inhabitants
of this populous town appeared to regard with very little apprehension
the approach of the steamer, and seemed more moved by curiosity and
astonishment at her structure and locomotive power, than alarmed by
any dread of her hostile intentions. The people crowded upon the banks
of the river; the house-tops and the surrounding hills were covered
with curious gazers, wondering what strange event would happen next.
Hundreds of trading junks and boats of various kinds, most of them the
sole home of their owners, were crowded together on both sides of the
river throughout the town, and even above and below it. The river was
narrow, and so densely were the boats packed, that the only passage
left was directly in the centre of the stream, where, as if by mutual
consent, a clear way had been left, only just broad enough to allow the
steamer to pass, and requiring some dexterity to avoid running foul of
the junks on either side.

It is very curious that so large a body of people should have looked on
with so little apparent fear, particularly as they could well perceive
that the steamer was in chase of two war-junks, which had preceded
her, followed by several mandarin-boats, in which the mandarins or
authorities of the town were endeavouring to make their escape, in the
greatest consternation. One of the war-junks, finding that it was
impossible to keep ahead of the steamer, which was rapidly gaining on
her, was run ashore, some distance above the town, by her crew, who
immediately jumped overboard, and had only just time to escape before
the steamer came up. She was at once boarded, and then set fire to
and blown up. She carried four guns. It was now observed that Chinese
soldiers were gathering thickly upon the neighbouring hills, as if
meditating a descent; but a shot or two thrown in amongst them served
to put them to flight.

Just at this moment a masked battery, concealed by some trees, not
more than a couple of hundred yards ahead, imprudently betrayed itself
by opening its fire on the steamer; nor was this the only instance in
which small forts or field-works would have been passed unseen and
uninjured, had they not expended useless powder in making a smoke,
which at once betrayed them. The fire was instantly returned, and
served to cover the boats, which put off with the marines of the
Samarang to storm the works. Eight guns were found in it, which,
together with the buildings and magazine, were of course destroyed.
This place was called Sheongchap, and was situated just below a point
where the river divides, or rather where two branches unite.

It being now past six, P.M., it was thought proper to anchor for
the night, after a very severe day's work for all hands since three
in the morning. The Nemesis, having proceeded a little distance
above Sheongchap, found herself getting into very shallow water, and
therefore anchored for the night. The channel was so narrow that it
was impossible to turn the vessel round, scarcely even by forcing her
bows hard aground over the banks. She was anchored head and stern, and
guard-boats were placed round her all night, for fear of any attempt at

On the following morning, the 14th, the Nemesis again pursued her
course up what appeared to be the principal branch, but which became so
shallow that it was doubtful how far she would be able to proceed; she
had seldom more than six feet water, and in many places only five, so
that she was frequently forced through the mud itself. There was not
room to turn her fairly round, and the only mode in which she could be
managed was by sometimes driving her bows as far as possible into the
river's bank, sometimes her stern; while at other times it was hard to
say whether she was proceeding over a flooded paddy-field, or in the
channel of a water-course. This gave occasion to a facetious remark, in
which sailors sometimes delight, that this "would be a new way of going
overland to England."

After proceeding only three or four miles, a village came in sight,
with a fort adjoining, and rather above it. This was afterwards found
to be named Kong-How. Nearly opposite the fort the river was again
found to be staked across, much more strongly than it was at Houchong;
and it was in a similar manner commanded by the guns of the fort. The
Nemesis, as soon as she came within good range, opened her fire warmly
upon the fort, which the Chinese returned. The boats pushed off as
usual; but the moment the marines and a party of seamen began to land,
the Chinese abandoned the fort in confusion.

On the upper side of the fort, sand-bags were found recently piled up
against the walls, as if the Chinese had expected the attack to be made
on that side; which shews that they anticipated that an attempt would
be made to explore these passages, but that they rather looked for it
from the side of Tycocktow than from Macao. The works, with their nine
guns and magazine, were afterwards all blown up at once.

The principal obstacle now remaining to be got rid of was one more
troublesome than all the forts together, or any impediment yet met
with. The line of piles which had been driven in across the river was
not less than twenty feet wide, or rather it was a double line, filled
up between the two with large sunken junks laden with stones. Great
labour and perseverance were required to get up sufficient of these
piles to clear a passage broad enough for the steamer to pass. This was
only accomplished after four hours hard work, in which, oddly enough,
the Chinese peasantry bore an active part, voluntarily coming forward
to assist, and even venturing to come on board the steamer itself. This
was, undoubtedly, one of the good results of not having inflicted any
injury upon the country people or inhabitants of the villages through
which the little expedition had passed.[40]

A little above this obstruction a large chop-house or mandarin-station
came into view, with a mandarin-barge lying just off it. A shot fired
into the principal building soon drove out all the soldiers who had
taken refuge in it--probably the mandarin's guard. The boats were now
sent ashore, and soon destroyed the whole of the buildings, together
with the mandarin-boat, with a gun and two ginjals. It was not possible
for the steamer to tow any of the boats or junks away with her, because
she was continually touching the ground, and frequently forcing herself
through the mud, so that it would have been impossible to have got on
at all if she had been impeded by any other encumbrance; they were
therefore all destroyed.

As soon as the boats had all returned from their service on shore,
the steamer pushed on again, and the water began to deepen; so that
at half-past six she was able to come to anchor for the night in five
fathoms water. From this point the high rock of Lankeet, in the Canton
river, could be easily recognised, bearing about due east, and not very
far distant.

On the morning of the 15th, having proceeded about three miles further
on, a large village, called Tamchow, came into view, on the left bank
of the river. Here a party of matchlockmen were observed crouching
along the banks of the river, endeavouring to pass unnoticed. A few
rounds of musketry at once dispersed them.

Again the steamer pursued her course, without finding anything
particularly worthy of notice for a couple of hours, when she came to
a large town on the left bank of the river, (it is remarkable that
nearly all their towns and villages were on that side,) which was
called Tsenei, just above a place called Kwam, close to which two or
three dismantled and abandoned forts had been passed. Here the chop
or custom-house, which was also a sort of military station, by the
water-side, was set on fire and destroyed. A large war-junk, also,
(probably the one which had before escaped,) which mounted seven guns,
was captured and blown up, the crew having abandoned it on the approach
of the "devil-ship."

Above this point the channel again became very narrow and shallow.
The Chinese pilots now declared that it would be impossible for the
steamer to proceed much higher up, as the passage was only deep enough
for boats. Having nearly reached a small place, called Weichung, the
Nemesis was at length compelled to desist from the attempt to pursue
her course further in that direction, particularly as it was now
ebb-tide. Several other channels could be seen on both sides, and one
in particular appeared to lead to the eastward, towards the main branch
of the Canton river, below Whampoa. Accordingly, it was resolved to
follow this latter branch, with a view to join the advanced squadron,
if possible.

In this short passage a considerable walled town was passed, at the
distance of less than half a mile, with which the communication was
kept up by means of a canal, which could be seen to enter the town
under a large arch, or bridge. Upon this a great number of people were
collected, to watch the progress of the steamer. The country around
it was extremely well cultivated, and the peasants were busy at their
agricultural operations, without any apparent fear. Shortly afterwards
the Nemesis found herself entering the main river, at a very short
distance below the pagoda at the Second Bar, and proceeded without
delay to join the light squadron which was at anchor in Whampoa Reach,
and received the congratulations of all parties. Captain Elliot and
suite then left the Nemesis, and proceeded on board Captain Herbert's
ship, the Calliope.

Thus ended this singular and highly successful expedition of three
days up the Broadway passage, during which so much had been done
towards disabling and annoying the enemy by the steamer, assisted by
the boats before mentioned, and the marines of the Samarang, all under
the direction of Captain Scott. This exploit would have gratified most
men, even as the work of a single vessel, for a whole campaign. It
need hardly be added, that Captain Scott was the first to acknowledge
and to bring to public notice the value of the services of the Nemesis
on this occasion; and Captain Elliot, who was an eye-witness of all
these operations, bore similar testimony to their importance. They
were also mentioned in flattering terms by the commodore in his public
despatch. It must not be omitted that all the officers of the vessel
nobly and energetically bore their share in the labours and dangers of
the undertaking; and those who belonged to the boats of the Samarang
and the Atalanta were equally conspicuous, and had opportunities of
distinguishing themselves on shore.[41]

The result of this expedition was highly beneficial, and afforded
more insight into the nature of the country, and gave a more correct
estimate of the resources of the Chinese, than could have been expected
within so short a distance from Macao. Indeed, considering how long
that place had been the resort of Europeans, it was astonishing how
little was known of its neighbourhood. The country on both sides of the
passage was found to be fertile and highly cultivated; while, in the
neighbourhood of the villages, the banks of the river were laid out in
neatly cultivated gardens. Everywhere there prevailed an air of comfort
and of thriving industry.

The peaceable, and, one may almost say, the apathetic, bearing of the
people generally, and their refraining from all hostile demonstrations,
are worthy of notice; particularly when we remember that they must not
only have heard of, but even perhaps been witnesses to, the engagements
at the Bogue, at Chuenpee, at the First Bar, and elsewhere. Much,
perhaps, may be attributed to the valuable presence of Mr. Morrison and
Mr. Thom, who, from their accurate knowledge of the character of the
people, knew well how to allay their fears, and conciliate even their
good offices.

The whole loss on our side, during this adventurous trip, was
only three men wounded. Altogether, one hundred and fifteen guns
were destroyed, together with nine war-junks; and several armed
mandarin-boats, six batteries, and three government chop-houses or
military stations, together with barracks and magazines, were also
taken and set on fire.

One simple, but very natural question will now suggest itself. We
have seen that, even in channels unfrequented by Europeans, and only
partially known to exist, the Chinese were found to be well provided
with means of defence, not of recent construction only, but many of
them evidently of long standing. But the Chinese government had not
been at war with neighbouring nations, nor could they have erected
these internal defences against any possible future outbreak of the
foreigners who traded with Canton. The latter had usually been very
"respectfully obedient;" and, even if they had been disposed at an
earlier period to come to blows with the Chinese, their measures would
have been directed almost exclusively against the Bogue forts, which
protected the main channel of the Canton river, leading to Whampoa.
This Inner or Broadway Passage was, at all events, too shallow and
intricate to admit of the passage of large ships; and, indeed, we have
seen that even the Nemesis had failed in making her way through the
upper portion of it.

Against whom, then, we may ask, or for what purpose, were the numerous
forts erected? The government might have thought proper to occupy
the principal strong positions, with a view to strengthen themselves
against any outbreak or insubordination of _their own people_; and
disturbances of this kind have not been unfrequent, even in despotic
and obedient China. But it is far more probable that these defences
of their "inner waters" were designed to keep in check the dangerous
incursions of pirates, or "Water Braves," who have always infested the
coast of China, and have been great enemies to its commerce, and a
source of uneasiness to its government. In a country in which so large
a portion of the population make their permanent home upon the waters,
some upon the innumerable canals and rivers which intersect it in all
directions, others along the extensive sea-coast and among its numerous
islands, it is not surprising that pirates, or, as the Portuguese call
them, Ladrones, should at all times abound.

The means of subsistence being frequently precarious among so populous
a nation, and at no time to be acquired without careful industry, and,
at the same time, the real weakness of the government, in spite of
its bombastic edicts, have combined to make the temptation to piracy
almost irresistible. In not a few instances the government have been
compelled even to conciliate or buy over the depredators; and, in spite
of all their efforts to suppress them, the ladrones have never ceased
to infest the coast to a greater or less extent. The temptations are
always numerous, and the desperate characters who gain their living
by smuggling are, at all times, as likely to gain it by _robbing_,
whenever the opportunity may appear more favourable. Hence, we can
scarcely wonder that the pirates had long become bold, enterprising,
well-organized, and successful in their efforts, directed, however,
almost exclusively against their own countrymen, along the whole coast.

Such as _were_ the banditti of Italy and Spain not long ago, or the
klephts of Greece, or the robbers of Hounslow Heath in times past--such
have been for centuries the pirates or ladrones of China. They are, in
fact, the highwaymen of the "Celestial Empire;" for their rivers and
water-communications are essentially their highways.

Under these circumstances, we are led to the conclusion, that nearly
all these defences in the Broadway Passage had been constructed more
with a view to the defence of the river against the Chinese themselves,
than under any apprehension that the foreigners would ever force their
way into it. This supposition is further borne out by the fact that,
even during the short expedition of the Nemesis, bands of robbers, and
boats filled with men of a very suspicious character, were distinctly
seen at a distance, trying to take advantage of every opportunity of
plundering their countrymen _while the panic lasted_. Indeed, it may
with much truth be said, that on this, as on many other occasions, the
Chinese suffered a great deal more from the excesses and misdeeds of
their own people, than they did from any hardships they encountered
at the hands of their foreign enemies during the war. Many ludicrous,
no less than unfortunate, scenes have been witnessed, of Chinese
plundering parties falling in each other's way accidentally, and then
fighting for each other's booty, while, just at the critical moment, a
third party would perhaps step in, and carry off the greater part of
what the others had been already fighting about; and perhaps even these
would, in their turn, be stripped by another fresh party, before they
could get fairly off with their prize.

In reality, the war itself served to disorganize the Chinese police,
and to diminish the authority of the local officers. Smuggling,
robbery, and multiplied outrages, were never more prevalent throughout
all the maritime districts than during the continuance of hostilities.

In the neighbourhood of the Canton River, these violent proceedings
arrived at length at such a height, that the fishermen, in many
instances, combined together for mutual defence, and provided
themselves with arms. But even these men, although, doubtless, most
of them started with the good intention of capturing the pirates, or,
at all events, of protecting their own property, were tempted at last
to become, in many instances, almost as fraudulent as the regular
ladrones. Some were bold enough even to attack the foreigners, urged
thereto perhaps by the promised rewards of their own government.
Others, having now found out their own comparative strength, became
salt-smugglers and opium-smugglers; while others traded, smuggled,
robbed, or aided others to escape detection, just as it might best suit
their purpose for the moment.

Secret societies were at length formed; a sort of freemasonry of crime
was established; and, before the close of the war, they had acquired
such an organization as to make it dangerous to move about in the
neighbourhood of Hong-Kong or Macao. They even sold passes to the
trading-boats, which were intended to exempt them from plunder, for a
regular payment of so many dollars a month; yet even these were not
always respected.

Hong-Kong itself was in danger of daily attacks from these daring
bandits; and, as it became at length evident that the co-operation
of _both_ governments, the English and the Chinese, could alone
effectually put an end to such gross outrages, Sir Henry Pottinger made
proposals to that effect to the Chinese authorities. Our own cruisers
alone were scarcely sufficient to effect the object, because the fact
of their European shape and rig rendered them easily distinguished
at a distance, and thus the pirates had plenty of time to escape.
It was proposed, therefore, to have a number of fast-sailing boats,
built and rigged very much after the Chinese fashion, with mat-sails,
&c., to be well armed, and to be manned principally by our own men.
They would thus be able to come unsuspected upon the pirates. Various
other suggestions were made for the mutual co-operation of the two
governments in the good work; but, owing probably to fear and jealousy,
and perhaps a mixture of pride, these offers were courteously and
respectfully declined by the Chinese government, who declared that it
would be able, now that the war was ended, to take effectual steps to
put an end to this heavy source of annoyance at the mouth of the Canton


[35] A little more than half a mile above the upper end of Whampoa
lies another small, low, alluvial island, which divides the river into
two branches; and upon the lower extremity of it stood a semicircular
fort, designed to command the passage on either side. This was called
Napier's Fort, from having been built expressly to commemorate the
discomfiture and ultimate death of that lamented nobleman. It mounted
thirty-five guns.

[36] The scenery about Whampoa, and between that island and Canton,
throughout all the channels, is very picturesque. The fine pagoda
upon Whampoa, rising up, as it were, out of a little mount of wood,
and another similar one on the mainland higher up, surrounded by
rich fields and numerous winding streams, are striking objects. A
few scattered farm-houses, with their large, curved, angular roofs,
together with the village of Whampoa, and the numerous boats of
all shapes and sizes plying upon the river, present a peculiar and
thoroughly Chinese prospect.

[37] See map.

[38] Not only on this, but on many other occasions, these gentlemen
were personally exposed to the fire of the enemy, little less than
either soldiers or sailors. They showed the utmost coolness and
personal courage; and it is but justice to them to remark that their
presence was always of the greatest value in every operation, even
though unarmed, and, as non-belligerents, unnoticed. Their knowledge of
the language and their good judgment frequently enlisted in our favour
the people of the country, who might have offered great annoyance, and
they were often able to mitigate the hardships even of war itself.

[39] See the map of the Canton River, in which the chart of the
Broadway, or Macao Passage, is reduced from a very large Chinese
manuscript, kindly lent by Captain Scott, who states that he found it
_approximatively_ correct. Indeed, it was the best guide to the Nemesis
(except the lead) as she proceeded, for the native pilots were not
found to be of much use. The distances _from place to place_, however,
cannot be depended on as exact; but in the original manuscript every
fort and military station was marked in its proper position. The names
given in Captain Scott's despatch are spelt somewhat differently from
what they appear on the original chart, but upon the whole they are
sufficiently correct.

[40] Inquiry has often been made what method was adopted in order to
open a passage through obstacles such as I have described above. It
may, therefore, be here remarked, that several modes were at different
times resorted to, according to circumstances. Where the stakes were
not driven in very firmly, it was easy, by fastening a hawser round
the top of them, and making it fast to the steamer, to back her out,
and pull them one by one away; but as this was a tedious process, a
hawser was sometimes fastened round ten or a dozen of them in a line
across the river, and carried from one to the other, but fastened to
each of them in such a way as to leave about a few fathoms of slack
rope between each pair. The end of the hawser was made fast to the
steamer with a tolerable length of line out, and she was then backed at
full speed. The momentum thus acquired was soon sufficient to drag the
first pile away with a jerk; and this one being fastened already to the
next, as before described, with a fathom or two of slack line between
them, the force of the steamer, which still continued to back astern,
was sufficient to jerk that one away also; and thus proceeding at full
speed backwards, the steamer pulled them all away, one after the other,
still remaining fastened together by the hawser; but the power of the
jerk was only applied to one at a time.

In cases where the stakes were driven in to some depth, or where the
bed of the river was tenacious, it was necessary to pull them fairly
out perpendicularly, by luff-tackle led up to the mast-head. The piles
were gradually loosened a little by being pulled to and fro; for which
purpose chain-slings were passed round the head of the pile, and a
hawser being then made fast, was led aft along the deck; thus by being
pulled in various directions, sometimes one way and sometimes another,
the pile was at length drawn fairly out, something like drawing a
tooth. The bows of the steamer were run nearly close up to the piles
during this operation, and she was steadied by a hawser run out from
the quarter to the banks of the river.

A great point seems to lie in the management of the steamer itself, so
as to be able to apply the power in the proper direction, and at the
right moment. This is the more important, as the stream is generally
pouring through or over the stakes with the greater impetuosity, owing
to the obstruction it meets with from the obstacles in its way. This
also constitutes the difficulty of getting through the opening, even
after it is once made. It is often necessary to lay out a kedge on each
bow to steady the vessel, as she works her way through, and to prevent
her from falling broadside on to the stream.

Generally on these occasions the water was shallow, so that it was
necessary to raise both keels of the vessel, and also the drop-rudder,
and therefore it was sometimes extremely difficult to steer her
under those circumstances, and the use of the kedges became the more
necessary. In the present instance a space of twenty-two feet was
opened, and the steamer was got through with considerable care and some

[41] It should be here mentioned, that Capt. Larkins, who formerly
commanded one of the East India Company's vessels, and had been long
acquainted with the Chinese character, volunteered his valuable
services upon the occasion.


During the time the Nemesis, with the boats and marines of the
Samarang, and the boat of the Atalanta, were occupied in destroying the
works of the Chinese in the Broadway River, a division of the light
squadron, under the command of Captain Herbert, had captured another
fort in the upper part of the same river, at the distance of only about
two miles from Canton. The vessels employed upon this occasion were the
Modeste and Starling, with the Madagascar steamer, and boats from most
of the ships of the advanced squadron, commanded by Captain Bethune,
viz., the Blonde, Conway, Calliope, Herald, Alligator, Hyacinth,
Nimrod, Pylades, and Cruiser.

On the 18th (March), they pushed through the upper channel leading from
Whampoa, which had been explored on a previous occasion by the Nemesis,
under the orders of Captain Herbert; and late in the afternoon they
entered the Broadway River without any accident, although the passage
was found very intricate, owing to the number of shoals. The Modeste
was only got through with considerable difficulty, piloted by Captain
Collinson, and assisted by the Madagascar steamer. Captain Belcher
endeavoured to bring the Sulphur through, but failed, as she grounded
about four miles from the point of attack. The Queen steamer was found
to draw too much water, and could not be employed to tow her up.

The fort which they were about to attack was the same which had before
been seen at a distance by Captain Herbert in the Nemesis, and was
found to be of a circular form, strongly built of stone, with a tower
in the centre, and situated upon a small alluvial islet in the middle
of the river, which it completely commanded. It was afterwards called
the Macao fort, and was found to mount twenty-two guns. The Chinese
had made attempts to strengthen this important post, as an outwork to
impede the advance of our forces upon Canton in that direction. With
this view they had constructed rafts across the river on both sides of
the fort, strengthened by a few piles and sunken junks, and flanked by
a sand battery, mounting eight small guns.

As soon as our vessels and boats approached, the Chinese opened a
well-sustained fire from the fort, which was returned with good effect
by the Modeste, which had been admirably placed by Captain Eyres,
within six hundred yards, assisted by the Starling and Madagascar.

In about half an hour the whole of the works were carried, but the
Chinese maintained their fire until the rest of the force were under
the walls, when they fled out of it in all directions, leaving several
dead in the fort. On our side only three men were wounded. Captain
Kuper, and Commanders Barlow, Giffard, Anson, and Clarke, volunteered
their services on this occasion, and the marines were commanded by
Lieut. Stransham. A large mandarin-boat was captured before the Chinese
could carry it away; and a small garrison was immediately placed in the
fort, the Modeste remaining at anchor some way below it.

Thus another of the important defences of the Chinese in advance of
Canton had fallen; and the passage for our light squadron up to the
provincial capital lay almost completely open. Our advanced ships had
now been brought much nearer the city than the Chinese, or perhaps even
our own officers, had previously thought possible. All the important
operations which have been described in the Broadway River, commencing
from Macao upwards, to within two miles of Canton, had been effected
in the short space of three days--viz., on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of
March, 1841.

On the 16th, Captains Herbert, Bourchier, Bethune, and other officers,
came on board the Nemesis at Whampoa, and proceeded along the upper
channel towards the Macao passage. In the afternoon, the Nemesis joined
the Modeste, which was still at anchor below the fort. A passage was
soon cleared through the rafts, and she pursued her course, with the
object of taking up a chop or despatch from Captain Elliot, addressed
to the imperial commissioner, and at the same time to explore the
nature of the passage above the fort. But, scarcely had she passed the
stakes, when she struck heavily upon a sunken rock. This obstacle,
however, was not situated in the broadest and most frequented channel,
which leads past the fort on its eastern side, but in the narrower
passage on the western side of the fort. The concussion made the vessel
tremble; and, had she been built of wood instead of iron, she could
hardly have escaped some severe injury.

After considerable delay and exertion she was got off again. Before she
advanced further towards Canton, it was thought proper to hoist a flag
of truce; but, knowing at the same time how little the Chinese respect
for it could be depended on, a division of armed boats was taken in
tow, in case of meeting with any sudden attack from the enemy.

Upwards of a mile further on, a newly-constructed field-work was
discovered upon a rising ground, surrounded and partially concealed
by trees. It was situated upon the left bank of the river, and was
called the Birdsnest Fort. In front of it, the passage of the river was
obstructed by a strong raft, reaching quite across it, and well moored;
while, further on, just at the point of junction with the Canton river,
a number of war-junks and armed boats were drawn up for its defence,
nearly opposite Shameen, which is about half a mile above the factories.

The steamer was now stopped; and it was resolved to send a boat, with a
flag of truce flying, in order to attempt to carry up Captain Elliot's
letter. The flag of truce was also flying upon the Nemesis and all the
other boats. Captain Bethune, having undertaken this charge, had just
pushed off from the steamer, when a shower of grape-shot was discharged
from the Birdsnest Fort. Fortunately no injury was done, as the shot
passed over the boats; but the flags of truce were immediately lowered,
and the guns of the Nemesis, and also those of the boats, opened fire
upon the fort, in retaliation of the hostile act of the Chinese. At the
same time, the junks ahead, and also the battery at Shameen, commenced
a distant straggling fire, much beyond effective range. A rocket thrown
from the Nemesis fell into the middle of the fort, and partially set
fire to the buildings, and it would have been very easy to have carried
the works by assault; but orders to the contrary were given by Captain
Herbert, who was not desirous of carrying hostilities further, without
the sanction of Captain Elliot. He immediately returned to Whampoa, in
order to bring up some of the light squadron, with a view to advance,
if necessary, upon Canton itself.

There were good reasons for not wasting time at the fort that evening;
but, unfortunately, it is the practice of the Chinese always to claim
a victory, and to report upon it accordingly to the Emperor, on every
occasion on which any portion of our forces withdrew from before any
of their defences, without having first occupied them. In the present
instance, it was reported, that even a devil-ship had been driven
away by the imperial troops from the Birdsnest Fort, and the high
distinction of a peacock's father was conferred upon the commandant of
it, as a reward for his courage!

Upon reaching Whampoa again the same evening in the Nemesis, Captain
Herbert received a communication from Captain Elliot, respecting the
measures to be adopted in consequence of the insult which had been
offered to the flag of truce. Captain Elliot pointed out to him that
the "Chinese knew perfectly well the value of the white flag, for they
had often taken advantage of it to communicate with our forces:" and
he then dwelt upon the "necessity of resisting this aggression with
all the promptitude which might be compatible with considerations of
a military nature." At the same time, he requested Captain Herbert to
"confine his operations to the fort from which the shot was actually
fired." It would seem, however, that Captain Herbert took upon himself
the responsibility of the operations against Canton, which are shortly
to be described; for he expressed himself in one of his despatches to
the effect, that he had "found himself forced to make his arrangements
without any instructions from his superior officer, Sir Gordon Bremer;
but that he felt that he had no alternative but to resent with all
promptitude the insult offered to the flag of truce." Arrangements
were accordingly made, without loss of time, for proceeding to active

The want of interpreters was at this time very much felt by Captain
Herbert. He repeatedly applied for some one to be sent up to him in
that capacity; and he wrote to the commodore, "that there was not a
single person in the advanced squadron who understood a word of the
language." The difficulty of procuring supplies was consequently very
much increased, particularly as the authorities at Canton had forbidden
the people to carry provisions to the squadron. The difficulty of
obtaining accurate information of any kind was very great; but it had
been already positively ascertained that the authorities of Canton
had prevented a single chest of tea, or any other article of export,
from leaving Canton, long before even the attack upon the Macao Fort;
and it was also known that a considerable body of Tartar troops had
already reached the city. In short, all the information which could be
obtained fully confirmed the impression conveyed by the insult to the
flag of truce, that the Chinese were making active preparations for
the resumption of hostilities, and that the sooner we had recourse to
active measures the better.

On the morning of the 17th, Captain Elliot and suite, together with
Captains Herbert, Bourchier, and other officers, proceeded in the
Nemesis towards the Macao passage, or Broadway river, where she
rejoined the vessels at anchor below the Macao Fort. It was a favourite
scheme of Captain Elliot, at this time, to endeavour to command all the
lines of water-communication to the westward of Canton, so as to cut
off _the supplies_ from the city, and stop the local trade.

The rivers or creeks, and their branches in this neighbourhood,
are extremely numerous. Some little distance below the Macao Fort
a considerable branch turns off to the westward, and leads, at the
distance of several miles, up to Tatshan. About a mile and a half
within this passage another channel leads off to the northward, in the
direction of the Canton river, which it enters a little above Shameen,
on the opposite side. This channel was narrow, and not navigable,
except for boats. The Hyacinth had, on the previous day, been pushed
into the Tatshan passage, nearly as far as the point where the smaller
channel turns off to Canton, but there she stuck, owing to the
shoalness of the water.

The Nemesis, therefore, having in tow a division of boats, was now
moved up the Tatshan passage, and shortly communicated with the
Hyacinth, which was at anchor there. She then turned up the northern
branch, which was afterwards called the Fatee creek, in the hope of
being able to push up to the Canton river in that direction, and so cut
off all the Chinese boats which might attempt to escape up the river.
After proceeding some distance, the water was found too shallow and the
passage very narrow, and she was compelled to return, having captured
on her way a very handsome mandarin-boat. In the evening she rejoined
the squadron in the Macao passage, where the Commodore, Sir Gordon
Bremer, had just arrived in the Madagascar steamer, which had been sent
for him. The dispositions had already been made by Captain Herbert, for
the capture of all the remaining defences in advance of Canton, on the
following day; and Sir Gordon Bremer was therefore unwilling to disturb
the arrangements.

The 18th March, 1841, will ever be remembered as the great day upon
which the city of Canton was first humbled; and the whole of the works
which had been erected for its defence, along its river front, were
captured by H.M. naval forces.[42]

Mention has already been made of the almost innumerable boats which
crowd most of the rivers of China, and perhaps none more so than that
of Canton, upon which it is stated that there is a floating population,
permanently living on the water, of no less than forty thousand souls.
They are the small traders, hucksters, fishermen, and public carriers
of the country; and always appear an industrious and contented portion
of the people. Of course, the numerous body of smugglers belong to this

It was said that one of the most influential smugglers, whose
avocations had long been winked at by the authorities, who were
themselves participators in the gains, had been suddenly arrested,
and threatened with the confiscation of all his property, and even
death; but that a free pardon was offered to him if he would contrive
to collect together all the best boats, and furnish the men with arms;
putting them under the orders of the mandarins, to co-operate for the
defence of the city. Accordingly, a vast number of these boats were
seen at a distance, drawn up in a curved line across the river, at the
mouth of the Macao passage.

Besides these, it was known that some gun-boats, completely formed
after European models, and thoroughly coppered, had been equipped by
the government. Our flotilla of men-of-war-boats was therefore to be
employed in pursuing and destroying this legion of the enemy.

At half-past eleven, the Nemesis commenced the attack upon the little
battery, called by us the Birdsnest Fort, which she had engaged two
days before, She opened her fire of guns and rockets with effect,
and the Chinese returned the fire with spirit for some time; but the
Modeste and Madagascar joined in the attack, and it is not surprising
that the fort was silenced in a very short space of time. Some of the
boats immediately pushed off to make themselves masters of the place,
and the Chinese were chased out of it in great confusion.

Another field-work, almost close to it, was also captured at the same
time. They were found to mount upwards of thirty guns, which, together
with the magazine, were destroyed.

In the meantime, the Starling and Algerine had contrived to force a
passage through the raft, and had scarcely got to the other side, when
a small sand-bag battery and several war-junks opened their fire upon
them, very near the point of junction with the Canton river. The Hebe
and Louisa took part in this affair; and the Nemesis came up as soon as
the lower forts had been silenced; part of the flotilla of boats, under
Captain Bourchier, also arrived, and the sand-battery was soon carried,
while the war-junks and the flotilla of Chinese armed boats already
began to disperse.

A strong fort, opposite the city, mounting twenty guns, called the
Rouge Fort, was next silenced, but was not taken possession of
immediately. Later in the day, however, a boat from the Nemesis, under
Lieut. Pedder, was sent to hoist our flag upon it; and another party
from the Sulphur landed nearly at the same time under Captain Belcher.

The large Chinese flotilla before described, was pursued up the river
by the Nemesis and the boats, and was soon in a state of indescribable

At this moment, the division of boats under Captain Belcher and Captain
Warren succeeded in getting through the Fatee creek, and, coming
suddenly down upon the Chinese boats, which were already so closely
pursued, destroyed an immense number of them. Some were driven ashore,
some were sunk, and a few escaped up the creeks in the rear of the town.

The Nemesis, in the meantime, had opened her fire upon the Shameen
Fort, in the western suburbs of the city; and, under cover of her
guns, Captain Bethune put off from her; and a division of boats, with
Captains Belcher and Warren at their head, also landed and took the
fort, after some resistance. It mounted ten guns.

While these operations were going on in the upper part of the river,
the Madagascar had gone down and taken up a position not far from the
Dutch Folly, which was a circular fort, in the middle of the river,
directly opposite the city, mounting twenty-five guns. In front of it a
number of junks laden with stones had been sunk. A small sand-battery
of three guns, close to the naval arsenal, which is on the south side
of the river, was at the same time carried by another division of
boats. Four of the new Chinese gun-boats were also captured.

On the 18th March, 1841,

    _a_ Birdsnest Fort          22
    _b_    "       "             9
    _c_    "       "             9
    _d_ Shameen Fort            10
    _e_ Rouge Fort              20
    _f_ Field-work               3
    _g_ Dutch Folly             25
        In the War Junks        15

Together with 6 Gun Boats and 6 Mandarin Boats.

A little before one o'clock, about an hour after the first shot of the
day had been fired, and after all the detached forts and batteries,
except the so-called Dutch Folly, had been taken, Captain Elliot came
on board the Nemesis, and desired that he might be conveyed to the
British factory, with a _flag of truce_ hoisted, it being clearly his
intention to endeavour to treat at once, without further employment
of force. However, scarcely had she got down opposite the European
factories, and only within distant range of the Dutch Folly, when the
latter opened fire on her, in spite of the flag of truce. Instantly it
was hauled down, the fire was returned by other vessels, and the result
was that the fort was soon silenced.

The Nemesis then proceeded some little way down the river, towards
the Dutch Folly, in company with several boats of the squadron. This
circular fort was taken possession of by a party of marines and seamen;
and, not far from it, four new gun-boats, built according to European
models, were boarded and taken, their crews having abandoned them.
The Chinese naval forces offered, in fact, little or no resistance
throughout the day; and even their forts, which fired with considerable
spirit at a distance, were soon abandoned by their garrisons, when
there was any certainty of their coming to close quarters with our men.

At half-past one, Captain Elliot being still on board the Nemesis,
she was ordered to return close to the factories, where Captain Hall
landed, accompanied by Mr. Morrison, and hastened at once to the
British factory, both being equally eager to take possession of it
again. In a few moments the British flag was displayed in triumph, with
three cheers, which were returned by the steamer and boats. At the same
time, Captain Belcher also hastened up towards the factory with a party
of men, and was preparing to hoist the colours upon the flag-staff in
front of the Factory, when, at that very moment, they were waved from
the window of the Factory, by Captain Hall himself.

As all the defences had now been taken, and Canton lay completely at
our mercy, one would hardly have expected that any further resistance
would have been made. But the Chinese have a fancy of their own for
renewing a combat in detached parties, long after all possibility of
doing good by it has ceased. On many occasions during the war, they
suffered severely and justly for thus uselessly harassing our men after
the day was over, and when our troops were in possession of all the
enemy's positions.

On this occasion, as Captain Hall and his party were returning to
their boat, a body of soldiers rushed out upon them, but were driven
back to a narrow street called Hog Lane, beyond the British factory,
and were even pursued for some distance up that narrow passage. Many of
them were killed while retreating although they crouched down behind
their large ratan shields for shelter at each discharge. It was thought
imprudent to pursue them far, as in so narrow a space, with low houses
on one side, and a dead wall on the other, the retreat of the pursuers
might have been cut off. Captain Belcher and his party were also
attacked at the same time, and gallantly put the enemy to flight with
some loss, pursuing them as far as was prudent.

The Chinese shewed no further disposition to come to close quarters,
and our men returned to their boats without further molestation. One
man belonging to the Nemesis was wounded during the affray.

Little now remained to be done but to take possession of and destroy
some of the boats and junks which had been overlooked in the hurry of
more important matters. Late in the evening, the Nemesis anchored in
company with the squadron, off the western suburbs of the city, nearly
a mile above the factory. The flags of truce were still flying, and it
must be admitted that greater forbearance towards the Chinese, or more
unwillingness to proceed to the infliction of suffering upon the people
or city of Canton, could not possibly have been exhibited than on this
memorable day of the first capture of Canton.

It must not be omitted to state that Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer, got
up, towards the close of the action, in the Hyacinth's gig, just in
time to see the British flag displayed from the Factory. The Herald
also arrived as a reinforcement, in the latter part of the day.

One officer and six or seven men wounded were the only casualties on
our side, throughout all the operations of the 18th of March.

It was said that several desultory outbreaks of the mob occurred during
the evening of this day, which were with some difficulty suppressed
by the police. They were in most instances the outbursts of the evil
passions of the demoralized mob of Canton, the worst of all the
subjects of China, attracted to the centre of foreign commerce, by the
hope of profit, or the opportunity of exercising their bad ingenuity.
In no part of China has the feeling of hostility to the foreigner
prevailed more strongly against us than at Canton. In many other
districts, the English force was even welcomed, or, at all events,
received without insult or violence.

It is worthy of remark that, during the whole of the following day,
the 19th, nothing of importance was done, either as to the further
progress of hostilities, or as to the demanding any specified terms
from the Chinese. It is easy to guess what interpretation was put
upon our inactivity by the authorities and the people. The motive on
our part seems to have been principally one of pure compassion, and
an unwillingness to take the initiative of _proposing_ terms to the
Chinese, which it was their part, as the conquered, to solicit.

After the lapse of one entire day, Captain Elliot and suite were
carried down to the Factory in the Nemesis, on the morning of the 20th,
where they landed soon after mid-day. There could be little doubt that
something important would now be settled. Captain Elliot was bent
upon getting the trade opened, and no less so upon bringing about a
cessation of hostilities. He was not altogether wrong, perhaps, even
in the slowness of his proceedings, considering the extraordinary
circumstances in which he was placed. He seems to have merely
miscalculated the importance, or perhaps the exigency, of the political
crisis in which he found himself placed. He probably viewed the whole
matter almost exclusively as a commercial question.

The first public notification was by a circular dated at the hall of
the British Factory, by which it was announced that a suspension of
hostilities had been agreed upon between the imperial commissioner,
Yang-Fang and Captain Elliot. It was further agreed that the trade of
the port of Canton should at once be opened. With regard to the opium
trade, it was settled that no bond, such as had formerly been demanded
by Lin, should now be required, but that the same liabilities should be
incurred by any British subject detected in the act of introducing any
unlawful goods, as would follow the same offences in England. Captain
Elliot also distinctly intimated that, "pending the final settlement
of affairs between the two countries, the usual port charges and other
dues should continue to be paid as heretofore."

All those who had watched the course of events, and had studied in
the slightest degree the Chinese character, could only look upon
this temporary arrangement as the mere preliminary of the resumption
of hostilities, not as the settlement of peace. In itself, this
insignificant demand was almost equivalent to an acknowledgment of
failure. That it was so viewed by Sir Gordon Bremer is evident, from
the notice which he issued on the next day, the 21st, dated at the
Bogue, in which he declared that all vessels proceeding to Whampoa,
under this agreement, must do so at the risk of the possible resumption
of hostilities.

On the side of the Chinese, a proclamation was issued by Yang, as joint
commissioner, (the other two had not yet arrived,) to the effect that,
"as Elliot had represented that all he wanted was peace and permission
to trade as formerly, and as all trade depended upon the cherishing
goodness of the celestial court, that therefore it was right _now_ to
permit the English to trade as well as other people, in order to shew
a compassionate regard." It was further added, that henceforth the
people were carefully to look to and well treat the merchant vessels at
Whampoa, as well as the merchants at Canton.

Such, then, were the slender grounds upon which it was agreed that our
force should be withdrawn from before Canton, after all the treasure,
and labour, and some loss of life, which had been expended in bringing
it there.


[42] The vessels engaged were the
    Modeste, Commander Eyres;
    Algerine, Lieut. Mason;
    Starling, Lieut. Kellett;
    Herald, Capt. Nias (later in the day;)
    Hebe and Louisa Tenders, Mr. Quin and Mr. Carmichael;

Together with the steamers
    Nemesis, W. H. Hall, R.N.; and
    Madagascar, Mr. Dicey.

A large flotilla of boats, from the squadron generally, was placed
under the command of Captain Bourchier assisted by Captain Bethune,
and was formed in four divisions, three of which were under the orders
of Commanders Barlow and Clarke, and Lieut. Coulson, and the fourth
commanded by Captain Belcher and Captain Warren. The whole together
must have amounted to little less than forty in number. Upwards
of fifty naval officers took part in the operations of this large
flotilla alone; the services of which were likely to be of the greatest
importance in capturing and destroying the immense flotilla of Chinese
boats, of all forms and sizes, which had been pressed into the service
of the government for the defence of Canton.


The agreement for the suspension of hostilities, made at Canton by
Captain Elliot, on the 20th March, 1841, was only entered into with
_one_ of the three newly-appointed imperial commissioners, Yang-Fang
being, in fact, the only one who had then arrived. Lung-Wan, the
principal joint-commissioner, and Yih-Shan, the Tartar-general
associated with him, did not arrive until about three weeks afterwards,
when they brought with them a large body of troops, imperfectly armed
and little organized. The news of what had already happened must have
astonished them beyond all conception.

In the meantime trade went on with great activity, but much caution,
at Canton. It was generally believed, nevertheless, that the temporary
calm upon the surface would be of short duration, and the growing storm
upon the horizon, gave a warning to all who were interested in passing
events, to set their house in order.

Rumours were abroad of extensive preparations being actively in
progress by the Chinese, somewhere or other above Canton; but the
precise situation of them was not discovered until the second attack
was made upon the city, in the month of May. It was said that numerous
fire-rafts were being constructed, war-junks equipped, and troops
collected; and it was little doubted that, as soon as the principal
mercantile transactions (which were as important to the Chinese as they
were to the foreigners) should be completed, a renewal of hostilities
would take place.

In the meantime it was satisfactory to the European residents to know
that, as the greater part of our ships of war were at Whampoa, or
in that neighbourhood, many of them could be speedily brought up to
Canton; and, moreover, the Modeste, Algerine, Hyacinth, and Herald,
were still at anchor, much nearer the city. They had only withdrawn to
the Macao passage, at the distance of a couple of miles from Canton,
after the commencement of the truce.

The Nemesis, meantime, had gone down to Macao, whither she conveyed
Captain Elliot and his suite, and took the opportunity of the
temporary pause to complete her necessary repairs. Sir Gordon Bremer,
at this time, thought it right to go up in person to Calcutta, to
represent the state of affairs to the Governor-General, and to request
reinforcements. He sailed on or about the 31st March, in the H.C.
steamer, Queen; leaving Captain Sir Le Fleming Senhouse in command of
the naval forces during his absence.

For some time after the commencement of the truce, the native
inhabitants and traders of the city, some of whom, however, had retired
from it altogether, continued to pursue their ordinary avocations with
some appearance of returning confidence. A proclamation was issued by
the governor, tending to allay any remaining apprehensions they might
have, and similar pacific assurances were addressed by the authorities,
repeatedly, both to the native and foreign residents, even till the
very day when their scarcely concealed projects of vengeance were to be

On the 5th April, Captain Elliot again returned to the factory at
Canton, and, during his short residence there, of ten or twelve days,
the authorities and the new commissioners succeeded in so far blinding
the plenipotentiary to all their hostile purposes, that he himself
publicly declared that he was perfectly satisfied with all their
"_assurances_ of good faith, and their disposition to fulfil their
engagements." The day before he left Canton again--namely, on the
16th April--he expressed himself decidedly to the same purport, in a
public proclamation, addressed, however, rather to the Chinese people
than to his own countrymen, but calculated likewise to reassure the
latter, should they be unable to form any judgment for themselves. And
he moreover assured Sir Le Fleming Senhouse that "he entertained no
uneasiness for life and property at Canton."

Captain Elliot left the Factory on the following day, and returned to
Macao; not, however, without first urging upon Sir Le Fleming Senhouse
the propriety of removing our ships further off from the city. He
requested that the vessels which were before Shameen should be moved
down to the Macao fort, in order to shew our peaceful disposition;
and he recommended that proper respect should be manifested to the
government, and that the officers in command should do all in their
power to uphold its character in the sight of the people, "compatible
with the paramount necessity of keeping awake a lively sense that
renewed ill faith would be responded to by an immediate blow."

All this had very little effect in rendering the foreign community less
apprehensive of a resumption of hostilities.

For a very brief space appearances were favourable, but fresh troops
soon began pouring into the town; and some of the natives have since
admitted that they even knew that, in secret, fresh cannon were being
cast, and extensive preparations, of every description, urged on in
the quietest possible manner, evidently with a view to some sudden and
unwarned explosion.

Immediately before leaving Canton, on the 17th April, Captain Elliot
seemed resolved to take some steps against the continuance of the trade
in opium within the river. He applied to Sir Le Fleming Senhouse to
prevent any small vessels from passing into the river within the Bogue,
unless provided with a passport signed by the plenipotentiary. These
passes were to be issued to those alone who could afford him assurance,
to his own satisfaction, that the boats or small craft should _only_
be employed in the conveyance of passengers, letters, or supplies.
They were to be obtained by foreigners through their own consuls, who
would apply to him for them. But he reserved to himself the right of
cancelling them whenever he should see cause to determine that such a
course "should be necessary in _discharge of his engagements_;" and,
moreover, every ship or vessel was to be forcibly expelled from the
river, if it were proved to his satisfaction that she was engaged in
"_dangerous pursuits_" calculated to disturb the truce and interrupt
the general trade.

This could, of course, only allude to the trade in opium, and the
whole proceeding seems expressly to have been arranged between Captain
Elliot and the Chinese authorities, for he actually obtained from the
Kwang-chow-foo, or prefect, _licences_, bearing his official seal,
which he could himself distribute to those vessels to which he issued
his passports, and which were to have the effect of exempting them from
_all visit or examination by the Chinese officers_, whether connected
with the customs or any other department.

One cannot help remarking that this measure, which, however, was
only partially carried into effect, gave an immense advantage to the
Chinese authorities, while, on our sides, we totally lost sight of
the main question at issue. The point gained by the Chinese was, that
they at once threw into the back-ground every other question but that
of trade, and, above all, that of trade in opium, which, therefore,
they ingeniously tried to make appear the "fons et origo" of the whole
dispute; and having got Elliot to lend assistance _to them_ in _one_
point, it gave them the advantage of appearing to justify themselves
in the eyes of their countrymen, and, indeed, in the opinion of
foreigners at a distance, and who were in ignorance of the real state
of things, for the greater part of their preposterous and violent
proceedings. On our part, it tended to put on one side, as if of minor
consideration, the "demand for reparation and redress for injuries
inflicted," as her Majesty declared in her speech from the throne,
"upon some of her subjects by the imperial officers, and for the
_indignities_ offered to an agent of her crown;" this agent being no
other than Captain Elliot himself! It put out of sight the indignities
offered to Lord Napier, and all who had been concerned in any way in
the conduct of our communications with China since the abolition of
the exclusive privileges of the East India Company. It overlooked the
proper spirit of indignation, which could hardly fail to animate every
man who had been imprisoned, insulted, and starved into concessions,
which he could have otherwise had no right or authority to yield.

That at this stage of the proceedings endless difficulties appeared
to beset the questions at issue, may very justly be urged. But we
have at all times to consider the character of the people with whom
a question is at issue, in an almost equal degree with the question
itself. And it will scarcely be questioned that the character of the
Chinese, and especially of the officers of their government, was at
that time imperfectly understood. In reality, the proceedings on both
sides, between the first conquest of Canton on the 18th of March, and
its second surrender under the agreement of ransom upon the 26th of May
(which remains yet to be described) were evidently temporary expedients
on both sides; on that of the Chinese, to gain time for the preparation
of more efficient means of resistance, and for relief from immediate
"pressure;" on that of their opponents for the completion of the
_commercial_ transactions of the season.

For some time after the commencement of the truce, a guard of marines
was stationed in the Factories; but, as soon as Captain Elliot's
"assurance proclamation" was issued, they were withdrawn. Up to
that time there had been, as is usually the case, a division in the
councils to a certain extent; but now the "war and extermination" party
got completely the upper hand, and their hopes of success were much
encouraged by a report which reached them, that the main body of our
force was about to proceed to the northward, to operate on the coast.
This was, in fact, really intended, as will be seen presently, although
it was subsequently deferred, owing to reports of the preparations at
Canton, and the expectation of a speedy outbreak.

The Emperor's proclamations to all the maritime districts continued
to breathe a spirit of uncompromising war; and the governor of the
province of Che-keang, (under whom are the Chusan Islands,) the
venerable Elepoo, was severely reproved for having permitted the
barbarians to _retire_ from Chusan under Keshen's treaty, instead of
having advanced to _drive_ them out by force, and to effect their

Thus, at the commencement of May, the speedy resumption of hostilities
seemed inevitable; and the report brought from the northward by the
Columbine, Captain Clarke, of the preparations which were being
carried on by the Chinese, and of the refusal of the authorities of
Che-keang to receive from that officer a despatch which he had been
ordered and sent expressly to deliver, tended to confirm every previous
impression.[43] Nor was this all. Information was brought from Canton
that, on the 30th April, no less than forty boats had passed in front
of the Factories, having on board at least two thousand troops; that
they proceeded a little lower down, and landed at a short distance from
the Dutch Folly, and thence marched into the city.

An explanation of this circumstance was demanded, and an evasive reply
was sent by the Kwang-chow-foo, or prefect, to Captain Elliot. A few
days afterwards, it was distinctly reported that the English at Canton
were to be suddenly attacked, and all their property destroyed. And,
on the 8th May, no less than seventy more boats passed before the
Factories, bringing down full three thousand troops to the city, and
these were said to be the advanced guard of a large army. It was known,
also, that a vast number of fire-rafts were being prepared, and several
hundred divers were said to be in training, who were to go down and
bore holes in our ships at night; or even, as the Chinese privately
reported, to carry down with them some combustible material which would
burn under water and destroy our vessels.

The Nemesis was, during all this time, incessantly employed in carrying
letters and despatches, as well as officers, from one place to another.
Constant communications were kept up; Sir Le Fleming Senhouse and
Captain Elliot were continually passing and repassing to and from
different points within the river--frequently up to Whampoa, or even to
the neighbourhood of the very Factories at Canton.

At the same period, arrangements for the complete settlement and
government of Hong-Kong were being continued without intermission.
Officers were appointed, a magistrates court formed, proclamations
issued, and establishments of various kinds commenced. In short, it
seemed very evident that we had no intention of restoring the island
to the Chinese, whatever might be the reply of the Emperor to Keshen's

Preparations had already been commenced at Hong-Kong for the advance
of our force upon Amoy, under Sir Hugh Gough, with a view to carry on
hostilities further to the northward; but they were now temporarily
suspended, in order to meet the approaching crisis at Canton.

If anything had been wanting to confirm the rumour, not only of the
extensive preparations of the Chinese government to recommence the
attack, but also to indicate the disposition of the people of Canton
towards us, it was to be found in a curious address, or chop, publicly
circulated in the city, and even posted upon its walls. It purported to
express the sentiments of the people themselves, or to be an address
from that portion which claimed to be most patriotic to the other
portion which might possibly be less so. It was intended to inflame
the public mind against us, but it was not sealed or _apparently_
sanctioned by the government.

All this was designed, of course, to frighten the barbarians; and
although it professed to be a mere ebullition of the spirit of the
people, there is little doubt that the government were cognizant of it.
This is rendered more probable by the circumstance that, only a few
days afterwards, the prefect of the city issued distinct orders to the
elders of the people, that they should cause them to remove their wives
and children, with all their moveable property, from the neighbourhood
of the river.

At length, even Captain Elliot himself began to catch a glimmering of
the truth, which seemed to steal but slowly upon his unwilling eyes. On
the 10th of May he resolved to go in person to Canton in the Nemesis,
and, in order the better to impress the Chinese with the opinion which
he retained of their good faith, he even took up Mrs. Elliot with
him--probably the first time an English female had set foot in Canton.

The next morning the Nemesis was moved down to the Macao, or Broadway
Passage, about three quarters of a mile from the Factories. Captain
Elliot, as soon as he landed at the Factory, sought an interview with
the Kwang-chow-foo, or prefect, and demanded certain explanations from
him, which evidently embarrassed him not a little. The answers were
evasive and unsatisfactory; previously-lurking suspicions were more
than confirmed, and Captain Elliot left the Factory that same evening,
_preferring to sleep on board the Nemesis_.

No time was now to be lost in seeking a conference with the naval
and military commanders-in-chief, who were then at Hong-Kong; and,
accordingly, on the following morning, the 12th, the Nemesis was
ordered to convey him, with all speed, down the river to that place,
a communication being made, on his way down, to Captain Herbert,
commanding the advanced squadron at Whampoa, who was already prepared
for an approaching crisis. The result of the conference held at
Hong-Kong the same day was, that the expedition to Amoy was to be
positively postponed, and the whole disposable force moved once more
towards Canton.

Hong-Kong was now the scene of general bustle and activity, a new
disposition of the forces was made, and every measure adopted for
their speedy junction as near as possible to Canton. By the judicious
exertions of Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, and the hearty co-operation of
all his officers, eager once more for active employment, the whole
fleet of men-of-war and transports, with all the troops on board, were
ready to sail in five days. Every man that could be spared, except the
invalids and convalescents, was embarked; and every ship of war, except
the Druid, which was left for the protection of the harbour, was under
orders for the Canton river.

On the 18th and 19th, having been a little delayed by calms, they all
got away in admirable order, full of high hope and promise that now, at
length, they were to become masters of the great southern emporium of
foreign commerce.

Captain Elliot now once more proceeded to Canton, as usual, in the
Nemesis, which took him up there in a very few hours. He returned
to his quarters in the Factory; but, so incontrovertible were the
evidences of the hostile intentions of the Chinese, and so strong the
apprehension of the momentary bursting forth of some treacherous plot,
that the Nemesis, which was the only vessel at hand, was kept cleared
for action, with the guns loaded, steam up, and the cable in readiness
to slip, although no immediate danger was visible.

Captain Elliot now very properly advised the merchants, by public
proclamation, to make their arrangements, so as to be prepared to
leave Canton at a moment's notice. On the following day, the 20th,
the Nemesis was moved close up to the Factories, or a little above
them, for the protection of the whole foreign community. It was
already discovered that the western battery above the city at Shameen
had been repaired and armed at least ten days before; that a large
encampment had been formed to the eastward of the town, for some of
the newly-arrived troops; while new works had also been erected on the
river-side in the same direction--that is, below the town, in the rear
of the French Folly. Tartar troops were still pouring into the city in
great numbers, while the citizens themselves were hastening out of it
with precipitation. Goods and chattels of all kinds were being carried
away; confusion was evident where everything is usually so orderly; and
it is said that soldiers were even seen moving about with matchlocks,
and their slow matches ready lighted in their hands.

Our own forces were by this time on the way up, the troops from
Hong-Kong had already passed the Bogue, and the light squadron had
begun to move from Whampoa. Still Captain Elliot was in the Factory,
and still a great portion of the merchants remained at their posts,
ready to decamp at a moment's notice, yet anxiously devoting every
doubtful moment of delay to the purpose of arranging, as well as they
could, their complicated affairs.

The Chinese, finding that their plans were now fairly discovered,
were placed in the predicament of being obliged to hurry on the
execution of them more rapidly than they had intended. But still the
authorities resolved once more to try the effect of a proclamation, to
_lull suspicion_. Having found themselves, on several occasions, so
successful in their art of duplicity, they hoped still to catch the
unwary foreigners in their net; and there is some reason to believe
they intended to take the whole foreign community by _surprise_, and
seize them in their Factories, something after the fashion adopted by
Commissioner Lin.

Nevertheless, fearful of being prematurely driven into the exposure
of their designs, the prefect thought proper to issue on the 20th
(only the day before the attack actually commenced) a proclamation
to the following effect, under his official seal. He stated that "he
issued this edict in order to _calm the feelings of the merchants_,
and to tranquillize commercial business." That "it was to be feared
that the merchants, seeing the gathering of the military hosts, would
tremble with alarm, not knowing where these things would end." That,
"instead of being frightened out of their wits, so as to abandon
their goods, and secretly go away, they ought to be assured that the
imperial commissioner and general pacificator of the rebels, with the
other higher officers, would manage things with due consideration,
so that the obedient shall be protected from all injury, and their
goods preserved in safety." He concluded by saying, "that the foreign
merchants ought also to remain _quiet in their lawful pursuits_,
continuing their trade as usual, without alarm or suspicion."

All this in the face of incessant preparations, carried on day and
night, for the resumption of hostilities, and for the treacherous
annihilation of everything belonging to foreigners within their grasp!
and the _very day before_ the explosion.

It was of course known to the authorities that our forces were already
moving up the river; their own plans, therefore, were necessarily
hastened, in the hope that by a simultaneous attack by fire-rafts on
our shipping at different points, as well as on the Factories, they
might get completely the upper hand of us before our forces could be
concentrated upon the city. Early in the morning, therefore, Capt.
Elliot recommended in strong terms, that all foreigners should leave
Canton before sunset.

During this whole day, the consternation among the Chinese in the
neighbourhood of the Factories, increased every hour; shops were
closed, goods removed, and several of our officers who went on shore to
see what was going on, were prevented by guards of Chinese soldiers,
from passing through any of the usually frequented streets beyond the
immediate proximity of the Factories.

The crisis was now at its height. Many of the merchants had withdrawn
to Whampoa several days before, and in the course of this day, all the
rest (except two American gentlemen) got away in boats. The small party
of marines which were with Capt. Elliot, in the British Factory, were
withdrawn by orders of Capt. Herbert, who had come up from Whampoa as
commander of the advanced squadron, and before sunset Capt. Elliot
himself, with his suite, once more abandoned the Factory, and came
on board the Nemesis. Capt. Herbert, however, removed on board the
Modeste. And now, the flag of England was finally lowered at Canton,
where it was never again hoisted until long after the conclusion of

In the meantime, the Pylades and Modeste, together with the Algerine,
had been moved closer up to the town, for mutual protection. The
Nemesis still remained a little above the Factories, together with the
Louisa, Capt. Elliot's own cutter, and Mr. Dent's schooner, the Aurora.
A dull and ominous suspense reigned on every side; a general stagnation
of ordinary intercourse; and that noble river, usually so busy with the
hum of men, and, as it were, alive with the innumerable boats of every
shape and fashion which ply upon its surface, and that active, busy,
almost countless population, which make their home upon its friendly
waters, and seem happy in their thrifty industry, all now were dull,
and almost still with a portentous dreariness.

The sun at length set gloomily. The darkness of the night was
remarkable; and one better adapted for surprising an enemy could hardly
have been chosen. But, although the precise nature of their plans, or
mode of attack was not known, yet enough had been clearly ascertained
to render every possible precaution necessary. The Modeste lay somewhat
higher up the river than the Nemesis, and was likely to be the first to
discover the approach of an enemy in that quarter, whatever might be
their design.

On board the Nemesis no precaution was omitted; double sentries were
placed; the men below were all ordered to lie down ready equipped
for instant service; even the fires were laid and _lighted_ in the
furnaces, so that steam could be got up in a few minutes if requisite.
All who could be spared retired to rest, but not to sleep. The feeling
of excitement was too general to permit repose. Capt. Elliot laid
himself down in his cloak upon the quarter-deck, while Capt. Hall,
ever on the alert, stretched himself upon the bridge between the
paddle-boxes, ready at a second's warning to give the necessary orders.
Capt. Herbert, also, who was at that time on board the Modeste, had
fully impressed every one with the necessity of omitting no precaution
against the impending danger.

Equal activity and similar precautions were adopted on board all the
other ships, and already the Herald and Calliope had been moved up the
river, to within a short distance of Canton.


[43] The despatch was believed to relate principally to the supposed
death of Captain Stead, of the Pestonjee Bomanjee transport, who had
been attacked, and was supposed to have been murdered, near Keeto
Point, on one of the islands near Chusan, after the restoration of that
island to the Chinese. He landed, to make inquiries, being in ignorance
of what had happened, and surprised to see Chusan harbour in possession
of the Chinese.


The intense anxiety which took possession of every one's mind at
Canton, on the evening of the expected attack upon our vessels by the
Chinese, as described at the close of the last chapter, has not by
any means been exaggerated. The very uncertainty of the plans of the
Chinese served to increase the interest felt, and the extreme darkness
of the night gave the greatest cause for apprehension of treachery.

During the early part of the evening complete stillness prevailed;
nothing whatever betokened an immediate attack. It was about eleven
o'clock when the alarm was given. One of the sentries of the Modeste,
which was a little in advance of the other vessels,[44] first
discovered several large, dark-looking masses dropping down with the
stream. Being hailed by the sentry, the Chinese who had charge of them
immediately set fire to the combustible materials which they contained.
The flames, bursting forth suddenly, spread the alarm, and pointed
out the danger to the other vessels, while it was still remote. There
was a general beat to quarters; steam was rapidly got up on board the
Nemesis, the fires having been lighted early in the evening; the anchor
was weighed, and, in the short space of NINE MINUTES from the time the
alarm was given, the Nemesis was under weigh, and under command of the

The premature discovery of the design, _before_ it was actually
commenced, disconcerted the plans of the Chinese, and caused them to
set fire to the rafts sooner than had been intended. The derangement of
a grand scheme at its outset embarrasses all the subsequent details,
and is apt to discourage all those who are employed to carry them into
execution. The moment they cease to act in concert, the failure of
every part of the scheme is certain. Thus, on the present occasion,
in consequence of some of the fire-rafts being ignited too soon, the
greater part of the rest were not ignited at all; so that, out of the
immense number, about a hundred, which had been prepared, not above ten
or a dozen were set on fire or sent down against our vessels at Canton.
Some, however, were sent adrift against the Alligator, at anchor near
Howqua's Fort.

These fire-rafts were ingeniously constructed to effect their object,
being composed of boats chained together in twos and threes, so that,
drifting down with the stream, they might hang across the bows of a
ship, so as not to be easily got clear. They were filled with all kinds
of combustible materials. Numerous junks and smaller boats were barely
seen in the distance higher up the river, said to have a large body of
troops on board, for the purpose of trying to board our ships during
the confusion which it was expected would take place. But the moment
they found that they were likely to meet with a warm reception, they
did their best to get away again as fast as they could.

The Nemesis ran up at full speed towards the fire-rafts, in order to
assist the boats of the squadron in towing them away.[45] Many of them,
however, drifted fairly on shore, and set fire to the suburbs of the
town, causing much greater alarm to the Chinese than they did to those
whom they were designed to annihilate. It was a grand spectacle, in
the sullen darkness of the night, to see these floating masses of fire
drifting about the river, and shewing, by their own reflected light,
the panic-stricken parties of Chinese who had charge of them, trying
to escape towards the shore, which few of them were destined to reach.
Some threw themselves overboard, were carried down the stream, and
their struggles were soon ended; others were shot at random by our
musketry, the moment they were discovered by our men, betrayed by the
light of the fires they had themselves kindled.

So far the Chinese scheme proved a total failure. Nor was the attempt
more successful upon the Alligator, off Howqua's Fort. The attack
was to have been simultaneously made upon all our ships in different
parts of the river, both at Whampoa and at the Bogue; but, owing to
some error, or more probably, the premature explosion of their plan
at Canton, the attack on the Wellesley, at the Bogue, did not take
place until nearly midnight of the 24th, three days afterwards. It
was, however, well concerted, and very formidable, as it comprised
a flotilla of little less than twenty vessels, chained in twos and
threes; many of these had gunpowder as well as other combustibles on
board. It was not without great exertion of Commander Fletcher and the
few officers and men remaining on board (most of them being absent on
service under Capt. Maitland, with the advanced squadron) that they
were towed clear of the ship, by the only three boats she had left. In
no instance was any damage done to our ships.

But the plan of the Chinese was not limited to their exploits with
fire-rafts. The new batteries before spoken of, as having been erected
by Yih-shan, just above Canton, towards the river side, opened a heavy
fire upon our ships, just when it was imagined they would have been
embarrassed by the fire-vessels. The artillery now began to roar on
both sides, although, owing to the midnight darkness, it was solely
directed by the flashing of each others guns.

The Nemesis had now run so close in shore, that she was able clearly
to distinguish, by the light of the batteries and the reflection of
the fire in the suburbs, the different Tartar officers rallying and
encouraging their men to fight the guns. The two small vessels which
lay off the Factories (the Louisa and Aurora) were at one time in
imminent danger, as the Chinese had actually brought down to the river
side a very large gun, and planted it within good range, to blow them
out of the water. They could not be moved until the tide turned; but,
by alternately veering out cable and shortening it in again, so as to
alter the range and balk the Chinese gunners during the darkness, they
managed to escape with trifling damage. In the morning they were moved
out of danger with the turn of tide. At intervals, the firing was kept
up until daylight.

At length, the sun rose brightly upon the scene of midnight encounter;
and now, the wrecks of the still burning fire-vessels, the crumbling
batteries on shore, the suburbs of the town in flames, the deserted
river, and some trifling damages on board one or two of our own
vessels, bore witness to what had happened.

The attack upon the Shameen battery was now renewed, and it was soon
silenced by the fire of the vessels. A few shot and shell were thrown
into the adjoining suburbs, where the fire had broken out; but some
of the Chinese soldiers, who had already abandoned their guns, when
they found that our men did not land immediately to take possession of
the works, actually returned and fired another round or two from the
Shameen battery. They were soon, however, driven out, and eight fine
large brass guns were captured.

It was during these operations at Canton, that Capt. Elliot and Capt.
Herbert narrowly escaped a very dangerous accident, which might have
proved fatal to many, had it not been fortunately averted by the
personal coolness and resolution of the captain of the Nemesis. A
Congreve rocket, which had been placed in the proper tube from which
it is fired, and had been already ignited, accidentally hung within
it, instead of being projected, as intended. In another second it
would have burst in the tube itself, and must have killed or wounded
all those who were standing near it upon the bridge between the
paddle-boxes. With instant coolness and presence of mind, Capt. Hall
put his arm into the tube and forcibly pushed it out from behind,
although the rush of fire which came out of it burnt his hand severely
and caused intense pain. Indeed, it was not done without great personal
risk. It is difficult to calculate what disastrous results might not
have followed, had the rocket burst in the tube, on board ship.

Just when all opposition at the Shameen battery had been overcome,
an unlooked-for opportunity occurred of rendering signal service, by
the discovery of the principal rendezvous of all the fire-rafts and
men-of-war junks, whose place of retreat had hitherto been concealed.
Every fresh report had confirmed the previous information that
preparations of an extensive kind had been made by the Chinese higher
up the river, but it was supposed to be at some place much more distant
than was now found to be the case. The first thing which led to the
discovery was the suspicious appearance of a large war-junk, which
suddenly came out from behind a point of land some way above the fort.
Having fired one or two distant shots, she again withdrew out of sight.

The Nemesis instantly proceeded in search of the expected prize, under
the orders of Captain Herbert, who was on board. The junk again stole
out from her hiding-place, but, the moment she observed the steamer
coming towards her, she made off in all haste up a large creek, which
turned round to the northward. About a mile or less within this
passage, the whole Chinese fleet of war-junks, fire-rafts, boats, &c.,
was suddenly descried, to the number, probably, of more than a hundred.

This was an exciting moment. The Chinese were thrown into the utmost
consternation by the sudden approach of the steamer; and the more
numerous were the junks and craft of all kinds, the greater was the
confusion into which they were thrown. Every shot now told upon the
confused mass. The Chinese ran most of their boats ashore, in order to
make their own escape; others tried to make their way up the creek,
each one striving to pass the other. Suddenly a small masked battery
opened fire upon the steamer; but a few round shot, followed by grape,
drove the Chinese from their guns, and served to disperse a small body
of troops, who were drawn up in the rear. The water soon became too
shallow for the steamer to proceed further, and she, therefore, came to

Some boats from the Calliope and Herald and other vessels now joined,
and, together with the boats of the Nemesis, continued the pursuit, and
destroyed or run ashore an immense number of junks, fire-rafts, and
fishing-boats of every kind.

About fifty boats were found filled with combustibles, and were joined
eight or nine together, having been destined to drift down with the
tide upon our vessels. Many of the junks had troops on board, from
distant parts of the empire, intended for the relief of the city.

The scene was extremely animating; numbers of the Chinese were
scrambling ashore, or clinging to fragments of their boats or spars,
as they floated about in the water. Some of the junks were burnt, and
others blown up, but the precaution was taken to examine carefully
every one of them before it was set on fire, in order to rescue any
of the panic-stricken Chinese who might be trying to find concealment
in it. But, in spite of this precaution, the structure of the junks
afforded so many little hiding places for the terrified Chinese, that,
as the fires gradually burnt more briskly, and took more certain
effect upon the vessels, several poor fellows were observed to rush up
from below, and then, unable to support the heat upon deck, to jump
desperately overboard. Some of these swam easily on shore; others, who
could not swim, remained clinging to the outside of the junk, or to the
rudder, until the heat became insupportable, or the vessel itself blew
up. In this way, some few necessarily perished, for it was not possible
to save them all, owing to the small number of boats employed on our
side, and the large number of those destroyed on theirs; besides which,
the heat and danger were often too great to be able to approach near
enough to render timely assistance.

Thus, in the short space of three hours, forty-three war-junks were
blown up, and thirty-two fire-rafts destroyed, besides smaller boats.
Some which had been run ashore were left untouched.

This important encounter produced one very valuable result, as it led
to the discovery of the most desirable landing-place for our troops, in
the projected attack on the heights of Canton. This spot was distinctly
seen and remarked upon by the different officers on board the Nemesis,
and was particularly noticed by Captain Herbert, in his report of
this affair to Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, written on the very same day.
This is not a matter of slight moment, because all allusion to this
circumstance was omitted in the public despatch of Sir Le Fleming
Senhouse. In Captain Herbert's report, dated on the 22nd of May, on
board the Nemesis, that officer, after having described the destruction
of the numerous boats and fire-rafts, distinctly said:--"Their wrecks
are lining both banks of the river nearly close up to Tsingpoo, _the
landing-place_, from which a good approach appears to lead direct to
the north gate of the city wall, not more than four miles distant, with
_dry footing_ the whole way." He also intimated that artillery might
probably be brought there. Moreover, while Captain Hall was lying in
bed with pain and fever from his disabled hand, the general himself and
other officers subsequently came down into his cabin, purposely to make
inquiry concerning the landing-place and the country about it, such as
it had been seen from the Nemesis.

On the following day, the 23rd, the Sulphur, under Captain Belcher,
having with him the Druid's launch, and several other boats,
proceeded into the same creek in which Captain Herbert had found the
landing-place the day before, and destroyed one or two junks and
rafts which had been left the previous day, and some others which had
returned after their first escape. Five junks and thirteen small boats
were destroyed. The practicable landing-place at Tsingpoo was also
reported on by that officer, and he added that he got himself hoisted
up to the mast-head of a junk, sextant in hand, to get a look at the
country, and observed the enemy encamped on the verge of a hill, but
that he "_had not the slightest doubt_ that they would have fled, had
he advanced towards the hill." As it was, however, he was content with
landing at the temple at Tsingpoo, and, throwing into the river the
five guns of the little masked battery which had opened on the Nemesis
the day before, and had been silenced by her fire, but which Captain
Herbert had not thought it worth his while to destroy, as the war-junks
and fire-rafts claimed his more immediate attention.

Captain Belcher hastened down to the Blenheim the same evening, and
reported what he had done to Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, "who," he says,
(see Voyage of the Sulphur, p. 184 to 187,) "had been sitting up for
him, and _seemed delighted beyond measure at what he heard_."

To return to the Nemesis, as she came back towards the Factories,
from the scene of her exploits at Tsingpoo on the previous day. The
remarks of a gentleman who was at Canton at the time are curious
enough. Speaking of what occurred, he says:--"From time to time loud
explosions were heard in that direction [Tsingpoo]; dense volumes
of smoke rose up continually, both black and white, and announced
some terrible work of destruction. After some time a general cheer
burst forth from all those who were near me, as the Nemesis came in
sight, just rounding the corner on her return, towing several boats
after her towards the Macao passage. It was an interesting and even
ludicrous sight, as she approached, to observe the boats, as well as
the vessel itself, decked out with Chinese flags, the men exhibiting
their trophies with evident pride, some rigged out in every variety
of Chinese dress, from mandarins downwards; some with Chinese caps,
and others with Chinese tails, with which a whole boat's crew were
decorated. It appears that, when they took prisoners, they merely cut
off their tails, (a mark of deep disgrace to a Chinaman,) and let them
go again about their business."

But the day was by no means ended yet; and, indeed, the business had
commenced so early, (at dawn,) that even at this time it was little
more than eight o'clock. And now comes a scene of a very different
kind. I have before stated, that the guard of marines had been
withdrawn from the Factory, and the flag struck on the previous day.
A vast quantity of property had already been removed, but much still
remained, of considerable value, and much more was supposed to be
left behind of still greater importance. All this became an object of
longing to the mob, to say nothing of any natural feeling of hostility,
which was ready to vent itself upon something or other. Pillage now
became the order of the day. It is said even that a party of Chinese
soldiers were first sent down _expressly_ to search for arms. Of
these they found none; but there were still enough of other things
to tempt their avarice. They had certainly the first choice of the
booty, although the general mob speedily joined in the general ransack.
Several of the officers, or low mandarins, were seen to be quite as
busy as the rest of the people, some even carrying away plunder upon
their horses, and others who had none sending for them on purpose.

Readers who can picture to themselves the long, gloomy labyrinths of
passages, and alleys, and staircases, which are comprised within the
piles of buildings called the Factories, can well imagine the terrible
scene of riot, destruction, and pillage, which was going on; yet,
probably, not worse than would have been committed by an English mob
under similar circumstances; as Bristol, Birmingham, and other places
can testify. There was a reckless destruction of property which could
not be removed, even after every article of furniture as well as
merchandise had been carried away. Doors and windows were soon disposed
of, and the very staircases and stone floorings were broken up and

In the Old Company's or British Factory, the confusion was most
terrible, because in it there remained a greater number of valuable
objects to destroy. The beautiful chandeliers and fine looking-glasses
were soon annihilated and carried off piecemeal; and the noble large
marble statue which stood in the great hall served as an object of
especial vengeance, as if it contained within itself the very germs
or symbols of all the barbarian nations of the earth, and could
communicate to them a portion of the insults now heaped upon it as it
lay prostrate in the hall.

During the whole day, the same mad scene of destruction was continued;
and whatever still defied the hands of the infuriate mob was at length
made to yield to the consuming power of fire. Not all the thirteen
Hongs, however, were visited with this terrible pillage; many of
them escaped altogether, which is somewhat remarkable; but all those
situated between the limits of Hog Lane and a small creek which runs
into the river at the other end, were entirely destroyed, except the
bare walls. Within this space were included the British, together with
the Dutch and the Creek Factories, a very fine and extensive range of
handsome buildings.

Towards the close of the day, when the work of destruction was nearly
completed, down came, at length, the prefect of the city in person,
attended by a large party of police. He now succeeded in driving away
the main body of the mob, and then gave charge of the Factories to
the Hong merchants, to whom all the buildings belonged, and who took
possession of the little that remained, with the assistance of a number
of their own hired labourers, armed for the occasion.

The account given of this day's proceedings by a highly respectable
American merchant, who imprudently remained behind the night before,
is extremely valuable. Without going into minute details, it will
suffice to mention, that Mr. Coolidge was taken prisoner, after being
in great danger of being cut down, and was, with many insults, carried
into the heart of the city. As he was marched along, he passed several
bodies of soldiers and coolies, or day-labourers, hurrying down
towards the Factories, and dragging guns along with them. As soon as
he came near the head-quarters of the Tartar general, the crowd and
movement increased; officers of every grade, grooms and messengers on
horseback, hurrying to and fro, executioners and city-guards, together
with strange troops from distant provinces, in every variety of
costume--these were all huddled together, and jostled in the greatest
bustle and confusion.

After some delay, he was carried, with every possible insult, before
the criminal judge, and there, to his horror, he discovered several of
his countrymen, who had been wounded and captured as they were trying
to escape in a boat down the river. The sufferings and indignities they
now underwent were extreme; nor did their assertion, that they were
Americans, prove of much service to them, for they were told that,
in that case, they "_ought to speak a different language, and wear a
different dress_."

It is very certain, however, that the Chinese generally at Canton know
perfectly well the difference between an American and an Englishman,
politically. But, on the other hand, when an Englishman gets into
trouble there, he most commonly declares himself to be an American;
and how could the Chinese prove that he is not so? But the national
distinction is perfectly well defined, even in their own language,
as is commonly known; the Americans being called the "people of the
flowery flag," from the number of stars on it, while the English were
known as the "red people," or "red-haired people," an appellation
originally applied to the Dutch traders.

The American prisoners remained in the condition I have described,
exposed to every possible suffering in the common prison, for nearly
two days, when they were at length turned out, and carried in chairs
to the ruined Factories, where they were _planted_ among the ruins,
just as if they had been portions of the marble statue which had been

It was just at this time that our troops landed--namely, the
Cameronians, under Major Pratt, (as will be presently seen,)--and, of
course, every attention was paid to the unhappy sufferers; and, as Mr.
Coolidge observes, "I cannot tell you with what feelings of good-will
we looked upon every one of those redcoats."

Soon after mid-day, while the work of destruction was going on at the
Factories, Captain Elliot and Captain Herbert proceeded with all speed
down to Whampoa, in order to make arrangements for the hasty advance
of the whole force, which was nearly all there assembled, not far from
Whampoa. Captain Elliot, however, could not forego the pleasure of
giving a parting proclamation to the Chinese, even then. He told the
people of Canton, "that their city had twice been _spared_, but that
his agreement with the three commissioners had now been violated by
them, by the arming of their forts, and by their secret preparations
to attack the English, who were _the real protectors of the city_."
He called upon them "to remember the hour of battle, and to consider
whether the troops of the other provinces now among them were not
the real scourges of the inhabitants;" and, after a little more in
the same compassionate strain, he wound up by calling upon them "_to
turn out the commissioners_ _and their troops_ from the city _within
twelve hours_, otherwise that the English would be obliged to withdraw
their _protection_ from the city, and take military possession of it,
confiscating all the property to the Queen of England."

This must have sounded highly gratifying to the Chinese; quite in
the Oriental style; and it was exceedingly probable that the mob of
Canton would have the power, even had they the will, to turn out about
twenty thousand troops, together with the high authorities, all in the
twinkling of an eye, by a sort of talismanic "Open sesame!"

The storm was now gathering thicker and thicker every hour; our forces
were all by this time concentrated within a few short miles of the
city; delay was no longer possible; and the moment appeared inevitably
come, though long delayed, when the Chinese authorities must yield
to force, where "reason" and negotiation had been tried in vain, and
written instruments had failed.


[44] Namely, the Pylades, Algerine, Nemesis, and Louisa cutter.

[45] Boats of the Calliope, Herald, Modeste, Pylades, and Algerine.


A few remarks upon the city and neighbourhood of Canton, before which
our troops are now for the first time about to appear, (the previous
operations of the 18th March having been entirely limited to the naval
forces,) will contribute to the interest of the subsequent narrative.
The city of Canton, or Kwantung, is situated upon the northern bank
of the river usually known by the same name, though sometimes called
by Europeans the Pearl river, from its Chinese name, Choo-keang. Its
distance from the Bogue is about forty miles.

The scenery around the city is extremely diversified. On the northern
and north-eastern sides it is commanded by hills, the possession of
which by an enemy must, of necessity, place the city at his mercy. In
other directions it presents the aspect of a low and abundantly-watered
plain, cut up by canals and little rivers, which serve both for
irrigation and for communication with the interior. So numerous are
they, that in some parts nearly a third part of the whole surface is
occupied by water. The appearance of the country is rich, and at most
seasons beautifully green, being divided into rice-fields and little
gardens, with here and there a clump of trees or a small village, or
the country residences of some of the wealthier inhabitants of the
city, to diversify the prospect.

About three or four miles to the westward of the city, and curving
round at the foot of the hills which command it, runs the creek or
river in which the war-junks and fire-rafts had been destroyed by the
Nemesis and boats. The excellent landing-place at Tsingpoo, which had
been discovered on that occasion, was very conveniently situated for
the debarkation of troops destined to attack the heights above the
city, which are in fact the key to its occupation.

The city and its suburbs occupy the whole space between the hills and
the river; the suburbs, however, being little less extensive than the
city itself. The latter is surrounded by a high wall, which has twelve
entrances, and it may be about six or seven miles in circumference.
On the south, or river side, a portion of the suburbs extends down to
the water-side; and in the western corner of these are situated the
foreign factories, and the principal packhouses of the Hong merchants,
which are partly built on piles on the river's bank. On the northern
side, the wall rests directly upon the brow of the hills; and, indeed,
there is a hill of moderate elevation actually _within the walls_, the
possession of which would, in fact, give the command of the entire
city, and which could have been held by a small force against any
troops the Chinese could bring against it. Another wall divides the
city into two unequal parts, running from east to west, and called
the Old and the New City, the latter being much more modern than the
former, but differing from it very little in appearance. The residences
of all the high officers, the Viceroy, Lieutenant-Governor, Tartar
General, and others, together with a public arsenal, are situated in
the Old City; but the moment we got possession of the two forts, called
the Dutch and French Follies, we could command the whole of these
places, without in any degree endangering the Factories, which are at a
considerable distance to the westward, in the suburbs.

The heights above the city were crowned with four strong forts, built
principally of brick at the upper part, but of stone below. They
mounted altogether forty-two guns of various calibre, together with
a great number of ginjals and wall-pieces. Between them and the city
walls, the distance of which varied from one hundred and fifty to two
hundred and fifty paces, there was an irregular, and in some parts deep
and broken ravine. The hill before described as _within_ the circuit
of the walls was also within range of the heights; and so important
was this position afterwards considered by Sir Hugh Gough, that he
distinctly declared that, with "this in his possession, he would have
been responsible that the city should have been spared, and that not
a soldier should have entered the town farther than this fortified

With these few preliminary observations, we may now return to the
point at which our combined naval and military forces were all
concentrated, below Whampoa, on the 22nd and 23rd of March, having
sailed from Hong-Kong on the 18th and 19th of that month.

An important general order was now issued by Sir Hugh Gough,
preparatory to the advance of our troops upon Canton. It betokened the
true feeling which animated the expedition; and, while it goes far to
refute the belief that wanton cruelty was inflicted upon the Chinese,
it does honour to the expedition, as _primâ facie_ evidence of the
forbearance with which our power was exercised. After first alluding to
the novelty of the Chinese system of warfare to the British soldier, as
one making up in cunning and artifice what it lacks in discipline, and,
after recommending extreme caution against surprise and stratagem, and,
above all, the observance of the strictest discipline, Sir Hugh Gough
proceeds to remind his soldiers that "Great Britain had gained as much
fame by her clemency and forbearance as by the gallantry of her troops.
An enemy in arms is always a legitimate foe; but the unarmed, or the
supplicant for mercy, of whatever country or whatever colour, a true
British soldier will always spare." Such was in reality the feeling
which animated the whole expedition, although the desultory attacks
of the Chinese, and the refusal of many of them to surrender when all
further resistance was useless, sometimes occasioned a loss of life
which was to be deplored, but which could not be prevented.

The channel through which our forces were now about to advance upon
Canton was one which had been not long before examined for the first
time, one may even say discovered, by Mr. Browne, the master of the
Calliope; Lieut Kellett, of the Starling; Mr. Johnson, the master of
the Conway, and other officers. It came to be called Browne's Passage,
although Mr. Browne himself called it the "main branch of the Canton
river." It runs to the southward of French Island, towards the Macao
passage, and is a much more important branch of the river than that
which runs along the northern side of that island, which was first
explored in the Nemesis by Captain Herbert and Captain Elliot, and
along which our vessels had proceeded to the attack of the Macao Fort,
as before described.[46]

In Captain Herbert's report to Sir Gordon Bremer, in the middle of
March, referring to some of these passages, he stated that "boats from
the Calliope, Herald, Hyacinth, Sulphur, and Starling, had, on several
occasions, explored the channels in the south branch of the river, from
Danes' Island upwards, and that they had found a safe and deep passage
for vessels drawing sixteen feet water up to the city of Canton, except
two bars, which it required high water to pass." Mr. Browne and Lieut.
Kellett, with the boats, had proceeded along the channel between Danes'
and French Islands, and then entered the passage, which runs along the
southern side of the latter.

The Chinese had commenced preparations for the defence of these
channels at several points; there was a battery of ten guns, another
of fourteen, and one of four guns, in the passage between the two
islands, or French River, which was too small for ships to pass through
it. Other batteries were also found in the so-called Browne's Passage,
one of which was calculated to mount thirty-seven guns. Indeed, in
all the branches of the river, batteries were found, some partially,
some completely, finished. At one of these, a little above the last
mentioned, there were not less than forty guns ready for mounting,
newly cast, and with quite new carriages. But the Chinese offered
no resistance; and, on one occasion, Lieutenant Kellett invited the
mandarin in charge of one of these forts to come and breakfast with
him, presuming that he had more appetite for food than for fighting.

Mr. Browne and Mr. Johnson made a good rough survey of the whole of
this important channel, in which there was found to be depth of water
sufficient for our largest transports, to the distance of about ten
miles. Even a line-of-battle ship, the Blenheim, was carried up nearly
as far as the transports; and hence the beginning of the passage along
the southern bank of Danes' Island obtained the name of the Blenheim
Reach. It is here that our largest merchant ships have since usually

The 23rd of May was occupied in completing the necessary preparations
for the conveyance of our troops, marines, small-arm men, and
camp-followers, up to the city of Canton; but it was not until noon of
the 24th that our forces could commence their advance. In the meantime,
Captain Belcher had been directed to collect as many Chinese boats as
possible higher up the river, and to send them down with the tide.
Gradually they had been dropping down from the direction of the city,
until, at length, there were enough collected for the conveyance of
two thousand men, besides camp-followers, stores, and matériel of all
kinds. At the same time, with a view to embarrass the Chinese as much
as possible, orders had been given that all the native trading-boats
should be detained, and that all the salt-junks should be stopped.
In the course of a few days, no less than one hundred and forty-one
trading-junks, of every description, were brought-to, and detained in
the neighbourhood of Napier's Fort, and at the Naval Arsenal below the
city; they comprised little less than ten thousand tons of shipping,
manned by about one thousand one hundred Chinese sailors. The sudden
stoppage of this considerable trade could not fail to make a deep
impression upon the whole people of Canton. No injury, however, was
done to any of the trading-vessels, which were all suffered to depart
without further molestation, the moment the authorities of the city had
agreed to Captain Elliot's terms.

Before our troops finally advanced upon Canton, Sir Hugh Gough
and Sir Le Fleming Senhouse went up in person, to make a careful
reconnoissance, and particularly with a view to assure themselves of
the practicability of the landing-place at Tsingpoo.

At length, soon after noon on the 24th, every preparation for the
advance was completed.

The troops were all embarked in two columns, of which the right was
destined to hold the Factories, and was taken up in the Atalanta
steamer. It merely consisted of the 26th Cameronians, less than three
hundred strong, together with an officer and twenty men of the Madras
Artillery, with one six-pounder gun, and one five and a half-inch
mortar. Thirty sappers, with an officer of engineers, were also
attached to it; it was under the command of Major Pratt, of the 26th
regiment. The left column comprised the main body of the force, which
was destined to carry the heights above the city, being divided into
four brigades. An account of these will be given in its proper place.

To the Nemesis was entrusted the charge and the honour of carrying or
towing up the whole of this column, together with the camp-followers
and attendants of every description, (in this instance reduced to the
smallest possible number,) which always accompany our troops in the
East. The enormous flotilla of boats, including, of course, those
belonging to the men-of-war, necessarily retarded the progress of the
steamer very much, particularly in the more intricate parts of the
river. As she advanced, numerous boats from our ships were picked
up, until their number could not have been less than from seventy to
eighty; hanging on behind each other, and following in the wake of
the long, low steamer. It was altogether a very animating scene. The
numerous flags, the motley appearance of the boats, the glitter of the
arms and accoutrements, and the various uniforms of the men, produced a
very exciting spectacle.

On board the Nemesis were the 49th regiment; together with
Major-General Sir Hugh Gough and his staff, Sir Le Fleming Senhouse,
and Captain Elliot, accompanied by Mr. Morrison. Captain Bourchier,
who was to command the naval brigade, and several other officers,
were also on board. The decks of the steamer were crowded. Slowly and
steadily she advanced, dragging after her the long tail of boats, a
more numerous flotilla than any steamer had yet towed.

The Chinese must have been perfectly well informed of the approach of
the force; and, had they not been already panic-struck by the lessons
they had so recently received, they might have occasioned great
annoyance, and perhaps loss, to our troops, exposed as they were in
boats, by firing on them from the banks of the river, in places were
they would have been themselves under cover. No opposition of any kind,
however, was offered.

In the meantime, the Atalanta reached her destination at the factories
more expeditiously, and the right column was landed before five
o'clock, without opposition; when Major Pratt immediately set about
strengthening his post, and making the necessary dispositions, either
for defensive or offensive operations, as circumstances might require.

It was now that the unfortunate Americans were discovered, in the
wretched plight before described, in the midst of the ruins of the
factories, in which they had been turned loose, as it were, like
beasts, after the indignities they had suffered.

It was just dusk when the left column, towed by the Nemesis, reached
the destined point of debarkation at Tsingpoo, where the Sulphur was
already at anchor. By this time it was too late in the day to do more
than land the 49th regiment. This was easily effected, as they could
walk on shore directly out of the steamer, without the necessity of
using boats, or causing any delay whatever. Here, again, as in so many
other instances, the advantage of this description of steamer was
clearly shewn.

During the rest of the evening of the 24th, and in the night, the guns,
ammunition, and stores were also landed, but the remainder of the
force did not disembark until the following morning. As soon as the
49th were landed, they took possession of a large temple, or so called
joss-house, near the landing-place. The general lost no time in making
an extended reconnoissance as soon as he had landed, under an escort of
the 49th.

From a rising ground at no great distance, a general view of the
enemy's positions could be gained. It was now evident that they had
already taken the alarm, and they threw up some of their small harmless
rockets by way of signal, to shew that they were on the alert, but made
no movement in advance. Sir Hugh Gough was in reality at this time
perfectly unacquainted with the nature of the country he would have to
pass over on the following day, as well as of the difficulties he might
have to encounter; but, with the utmost confidence in the steadiness
and perfect discipline of the little force under his command, he felt
assured that no difficulties could check them. Neither could the amount
of the enemy's force be at all ascertained, respecting which there were
various conjectures, probably in most instances exaggerated.

The Chinese system of warfare had not yet been experienced and it was,
in fact, the first time that European troops were about to undertake
operations in China, beyond the cover of our ships. The Chinese had
been known to declare that, if they could get us away from our ships,
they had full confidence that they would be able to beat us in fair
fight ashore. They were now soon to have an opportunity of putting
their prowess to the test. This was the first occasion on which a
British general officer had commanded in China; and it was the first
opportunity which that general had ever had of witnessing the gallantry
of British seamen and marines in service on shore, and of bearing
testimony to their steadiness and discipline, and to the value of their
co-operation. He afterwards expressed himself in general orders, in
reference to the naval brigade under Captain Bourchier, to the effect
"that it would always be a matter of proud recollection to him that he
had had them under his orders."

While our troops had thus advanced upon Canton on the 24th, Captain
Herbert, who was stationed at Whampoa with the Calliope, Conway,
Herald, and Alligator, was directed to push up the river with the
flood-tide, with such vessels as could proceed, or with the boats
of the ships, by the direct, or Whampoa passage, and endeavour to
secure the naval arsenal opposite the city. It was left to his own
judgment to attack the French fort below the city, or not, according to

At the same time, another part of our force, consisting of the
Hyacinth, Modeste, Cruiser, and Columbine, had taken up a position
near the factories, under Captain Warren, who had been directed to
secure the Dutch fort, and to use his own judgment as to an attack
upon any other of the defences which were known to have been recently
constructed. The possession of the Dutch and French forts would give us
complete command of the river front of the city, and of the palaces of
the high authorities.

Captain Herbert lost no time in pushing up the river, with the boats
and marines of the ships before mentioned; while Captain Warren, having
ordered the Nimrod and Pylades to attack the Shameen Fort, (which had
been re-armed by the Chinese) proceeded to place the Hyacinth, under
his own command, abreast of the factories, in order to cover the
landing of the 26th regiment from the Atalanta.

In the meantime, the Modeste, Cruiser, and Columbine, took up a
position to attack the Dutch Folly if necessary; but it was found to be

As soon as the 26th regiment had landed at the factory, the Atalanta
and Algerine (which had now joined the squadron) were ordered to move
down the river as far as possible. The Atalanta unfortunately took
the ground, where she remained for several days, and was got off with
difficulty. The Algerine, drawing but little water, was able to go over
the reef, which is abreast of the Dutch fort, with a strong ebb-tide.
She then took up her berth between the Dutch and French Follies, and
only one hundred and fifty yards distant from a heavy sand battery,
which she engaged single-handed, none of the other vessels being able
to come up to her support. The battery mounted eleven very heavy guns,
and the Algerine was frequently hit. The pinnaces of the Hyacinth and
Modeste were sent to help to shift her berth, but this was impossible,
owing to the strength of the tide. Lieutenant Mason, who commanded
the brig, with instant determination now pushed off in his gig, and,
accompanied by the two pinnaces, dashed ashore and carried the battery
with great gallantry, but not without meeting with strong resistance,
in which Mr. Fitzgerald, of the Modeste, fell mortally wounded,
together with one seaman killed, and fourteen seamen and marines
wounded. Some of the Chinese guns were ten and a half inch.

Captain Herbert and Captain Bethune endeavoured to push up from
Howqua's Folly at sunset, but were stopped by a shot from the French
Folly, which went through Captain Herbert's boat, and the heaviness
of the fire compelled the boats to take shelter under a point of land
for some hours, so that they were not able to reach the brig until two
o'clock, A.M. During the night several fire-rafts were sent adrift, but
were towed clear without doing any mischief. Thus ended the 24th of
May, and our forces, both naval and military, might already be said to
hold Canton at their mercy.

A few words more will suffice to complete the description of all the
naval operations before Canton, before we turn to the military part of

No time was lost on the following morning in securing the arsenal, in
which were found nearly a dozen large war-junks upon the stocks, and
a great many row boats. There were also twelve large war-junks just
finished, lying at anchor off the arsenal.

Having, made a reconnoissance of the French fort, and the other
defences on that side, Captain Herbert resolved to carry it without
loss of time. The Modeste was the only vessel except the Algerine which
could be got across the bar at the Dutch Folly, and that not without
great difficulty, having been warped over the reef at high water. The
Atalanta was still aground; and the guns of the Algerine not being
sufficiently heavy, Captain Herbert ordered shell-guns to be fitted
in three of the captured war-junks, to assist in the attack upon the
French Folly.

The gun-junks were placed under the direction of Lieutenants Haskell
and Hay, and, together with the Modeste and Algerine, opened upon the
French fort and the long line of works connected with it on the morning
of the 26th. The Chinese soon began to give way, and Captain Bethune
immediately landed with the storming party, and gallantly carried the
works. There were altogether sixty-four guns, some of large calibre,
four being ten and a half inch. Thus the whole of the river defences
of Canton were at length in our possession, at the same time that the
heights above the city had been carried by our troops under Sir Hugh
Gough, as will be next described.[47]


[46] See the accompanying map of the Canton river.

[47] The following concise description is taken from the personal
remarks of several who were present, and from public documents.


It will be remembered that the twenty-sixth regiment, together with
a few of the Madras artillery, and sappers and miners were posted at
the Factories, and, therefore, took no part in the engagements on the
heights on the 25th, although they joined the head-quarters afterwards.
The whole force actually engaged on that day, under Sir Hugh Gough,
including the marines and the naval brigade, amounted to very nearly
two thousand four hundred men. But the actual number of bayonets in
the field was only about one thousand five hundred. The artillery
comprised a body of four hundred men, with four 12-pounder howitzers,
four 9-pounder field-guns, and two 6-pounder guns; also three five and
a half inch mortars, and one hundred and fifty-two 32-pounder rockets.

The naval brigade, commanded by Captain Bourchier, comprised four
hundred and three small-arm men; so that, when added to the marines, it
is evident that full one-third of the force employed on the heights was
supplied by the different ships of the squadron--viz., eight hundred
and eleven men. In proportion as these were withdrawn from their
respective ships, the duty to be performed by those who remained on
board became the more severe.

Sir Le Fleming Senhouse entrusted the command of the naval brigade to
Captain Bourchier, as it was the express wish of Sir Hugh Gough that
the senior naval officer should join his staff, and remain at his
side throughout the day, instead of leading the brigade in person.
It was divided into two battalions, one led by Captain Maitland of
the Wellesley, and the other by Commander Barlow of the Nimrod. The
whole force was divided into four brigades, and was directed to move
left in front. The details given below will render further comment

At daylight, on the morning of the 25th, the whole of the troops were
landed. The Nemesis, Sulphur, and Starling, remained at anchor close
to Tsingpoo; and small detachments of the 18th and 49th regiments,
and of the 37th M.N.I., amounting altogether to between seventy and
eighty men, were left posted at the temple before described, in order
to secure the landing, and prevent any attempt at surprise on the part
of the Chinese. This precaution afterwards proved to have been very

From a hill a little above the landing-place, a good view of the
enemy's positions could be obtained; and, a little beyond that, a
line of hills led directly up towards the rear of the forts above the
city, at the distance of between three and four miles. The ground was
irregular, and much broken by hollows, partially cultivated and laid
out in rice-grounds. The labour of dragging the guns was, therefore,
very great; and, indeed, two of the twelve-pounder howitzers, and
two of the nine-pounder guns, were not got into position upon the
heights until the following day. The other two, however, and also the
six-pounders, together with the rocket-battery, were brought up with
the troops.

Of the four forts, two were situated not far from each other, near the
north-western angle of the city walls, on which side is the hill which
is enclosed _within_ the walls, and which, in the event of the capture
of the city itself, it was the intention of Sir Hugh Gough to occupy
strongly, as being the key to the possession of the whole city. The
other two forts, which might be called the eastern forts, were situated
upon the heights, at some distance to the eastward of the other forts,
nearly facing the centre of the city wall. One of these was some way in
advance of the other.

The weather was extremely sultry during the whole of the 25th, which
much fatigued the men before the close of the day, and laid the
foundation for sickness, to which many afterwards fell victims. The
troops were directed to advance along the brow of the hills in echelon
of columns; and, as soon as the artillery could be got up, the guns
opened upon the two western forts which were nearest, and from which
the Chinese had already commenced a spirited fire. They also threatened
an attack upon the right, by large columns, which appeared to debouch
from the western suburbs.

Our attack upon the two western forts was entrusted entirely to the
naval brigade, under cover of the guns and rockets; and, at the same
time, the left brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel Morris, was to advance
and carry the nearest of the two eastern forts (which was also the
rearmost in relation to the town); while the first brigade, under
Major-General Burrell, having carried a hill in their front, upon which
a body of Chinese were posted, and which flanked the advance of the
left brigade, was to push on and carry the principal eastern fort,
cutting off the communication between the two, at the same moment when
the 49th made their attack upon the nearest fort.

As the two brigades advanced together, there was some little rivalry
(the strictest discipline being preserved) between the 49th and 18th
regiments, as to which should have the honour of commencing the attack
upon the two forts. The 49th, having the advantage of a shorter and
perhaps rather better road, got the lead, which they maintained, so
that the left brigade carried BOTH the eastern forts before the 18th
came up, and with little loss.

The two western forts were at the same time gallantly carried by
the brigade of seamen, who were exposed to a heavy fire of ginjals,
wall-pieces, and matchlocks, from the city walls, by which they
suffered some loss.

Thus, in the space of little more than half an hour from the time the
advance was sounded, the heights which overlooked the city were in our
possession, and the British flag waved in triumph upon all the forts
which commanded the city. The Chinese seemed little inclined to come to
close quarters as our troops advanced, and they were soon driven out of
the forts, making the best of their way down the hills in confusion.

While our troops were thus engaged upon the heights, the Chinese
threatened an attack upon the landing-place at Tsingpoo. Their object
might have been either to endeavour to cut off the retreat of our
troops from the heights, or else to get possession of the stores, &c.,
which had been left behind. A considerable body of the Chinese sallied
out of the western gate of the city, from which a narrow, irregular
causeway, led down to the landing-place at Tsingpoo.

This movement being immediately observed from the heights, orders were
sent down by Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, at the suggestion of Sir Hugh
Gough, for some of the officers of the vessels at anchor there to land
with their men, and assist in the defence of the place. These orders
were delivered to Captain Hall by an officer of the Blenheim, sent on
purpose. Preparations had already been made on board with this object,
and Captain Hall lost no time in landing with half his crew, the other
half remaining at quarters on board, under Lieutenant Pedder. There
were twenty-eight men and two officers (besides Captain Hall) from the
Nemesis; about fourteen men and two officers from the Sulphur; and
eighteen men and two officers from the Blonde; altogether sixty men and
seven officers.[49]

Having landed and formed, they immediately joined the small body of
troops which had been stationed at the joss-house to protect the
guns, stores, &c., which had been left behind. They were commanded by
Lieutenant Grant, of the 49th, and consisted of thirty men of that
regiment, thirty of the 18th, under Lieutenant Cockburn, and fourteen
of the 37th M.N.I., under Ensign Anquitelle. Lieutenant Grant had got
his men under arms the moment the alarm was given, and, perceiving a
body of about two hundred and fifty Chinese skirmishers advancing in
extended order, he moved out to meet them; when within about fifty
yards, he poured in a smart fire, by which many of them were killed,
and drove them back upon their main body, who were drawn up in close
column, about four hundred strong, (regular troops,) behind a bridge
some distance off, upon which they had planted three field-pieces. The
blue jackets having joined, Captain Hall instantly led the way, at the
head of his own men, _directly down the causeway_, towards the bridge;
and, under cover of an excellent fire from the Nemesis and Starling,
the whole column attacked the Chinese in front, and were received with
an ill-directed fire of grape and curious rocket arrows, by which two
men were slightly hit.

The Chinese were driven from their guns, and endeavoured to rally
behind some houses in their rear, but they soon made a hasty retreat
towards the town, closely pursued, for some distance, by our men. But
it was not thought prudent to follow them within range of the ginjals
upon the city walls, as no good purpose could be effected by it, and
some loss might have been suffered. About thirty of the enemy were
supposed to have been killed and wounded. The three field-pieces were
spiked: and the houses near the bridge, in which a quantity of military
stores were found, were set on fire.

It is worthy of notice that this little spirited affair, although
officially reported to Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, was never specially
mentioned in any of the public despatches--an omission which at that
time created some surprise.

To return to our movements upon the heights. During the greater part
of the day, a spirited fire was kept up from the city walls by guns,
ginjals, and matchlocks; which made it necessary to keep the men under
cover as much as possible.

In the rear, and a little to the eastward of the forts occupied by
the 18th and 49th, was a high hill which, in fact, was the key to the
whole position, but it was not fortified. There was, however, a large
joss-house upon the top of it, which was occupied by a detachment
of the 49th regiment. Upon the low ground to the eastward of this
hill, and between it and a large entrenched camp, situated upon
rising ground close to the suburbs, was a village occupied by Chinese
troops. Frequent communications were passing between it and the
entrenched camp, in which there appeared to be not less than three or
four thousand men. The enemy were soon dislodged from the village by
the 49th, and dispositions were made by Sir Hugh Gough to carry the
entrenched camp by assault. Several high officers had been observed
to pass out of the city on their way to this camp, and it was evident
that some fresh attack was projected. The 18th were therefore ordered
down from the heights to reinforce the detachment of the 49th, together
with a few marines, and Major-General Burrell was directed to carry the
encampment, the only approach to which was along a narrow causeway.
A heavy fire was opened upon them from guns and ginjals upon the
north-eastern face of the city walls, to which the men were unavoidably
exposed as they advanced. The Chinese seemed to have got the precise
range of the causeway, and some loss was suffered in consequence.
But the enemy were soon driven gallantly out of the camp, and fled
in disorder across the country. The buildings were then destroyed,
together with several magazines, and the force then returned to the

The day was now far advanced, and the men were much fatigued with the
oppressive heat. The steep and broken nature of the approach to the
heights had made it impossible to get up the heavy guns and ammunition
until the following day. The assault of the city was therefore
deferred; but Sir Hugh Gough, having made a careful reconnoissance of
the walls and gates, determined to carry them on the following day,
while the panic of the Chinese was still at its height.

On the morning of the 26th, all was apparently quiet within the city,
except that numbers of people were issuing out of the gates, which were
removed from the scene of action, hastening to carry away with them all
the valuable property which could be easily transported. Our troops
were early under arms, but no further operations against the city could
be undertaken until the ammunition and the heavy guns could be brought

The weather in the morning did not look auspicious, and before the day
was half over, rain began to fall in torrents. Few Chinese appeared
upon the walls of the city; and at length, soon after ten o'clock,
a flag of truce was displayed from the walls. It is remarkable how
perfectly well the value of the white flag was remembered (as before
noticed by Capt. Elliot) whenever the Chinese wished to negotiate, or
to induce us to suspend our operations; although they thought proper
to slight it whenever it suited their purpose. Shortly afterwards the
general deputed Mr. Thom, who was attached to him as interpreter,
to advance and ascertain what the Chinese desired. A mandarin,
distinguished by a red button, now stated that they wished to propose
terms of peace, with a view to spare the city, and that in the
meantime there should be a suspension of hostilities. It was replied,
that the general could treat with no other officer than the Chinese
commander-in-chief, his equal in rank; that the British forces had
come before Canton much against the wishes of the English nation, but
were compelled to do so owing to the insults offered to the British
subjects, and the bad faith of the Chinese high officers; that they
might, therefore, address their requests to Capt. Elliot, who was with
the advanced squadron in the river before the city; and that two or
three hours would be allowed for them to communicate with that officer,
and also to arrange an interview between the English and the Tartar
general; but that if within that period no satisfactory communication
should be received, the white flag would be struck.

These overtures, on the part of the Chinese, led to no immediate
result. Sir Hugh Gough waited more than four hours before the white
flag was struck, and even then the Chinese did not lower theirs.

During the remainder of the day, and in the course of the night, by the
unwearied exertions of the Royal and Madras Artillery, assisted by the
Sappers and Miners, all the guns and ammunition were got up, except one
12-pounder howitzer, the carriage of which had been disabled. During
the whole of this time, the rain fell heavily, which much increased the
necessary labour, and added to the privations of the men, who either
bivouacked or were partially sheltered, as best they could.

The truce, if it could be so called, was of some use to us, as it gave
time for the completion of all the preparations for the assault, which
was to have taken place at eight o'clock on the following morning. Our
batteries were to have opened at seven o'clock, and it was expected
that the parapet of the walls, which was high, would have been reduced
by the concentrated fire of our guns. The walls were not less than
twenty-eight to thirty feet high, and were separated from the heights,
from which they were in some parts less than two hundred paces distant,
by an intervening glen.

The broken nature of the ground was peculiarly favourable for the
several attacks which were designed; and as soon as a lodgment had been
made upon the walls, the different columns of attack were to unite,
and make a rush at the fortified hill, which, as before described, was
situated within the walls, and commanded the interior of the city. The
attack was to have been made in four columns, of which the right,
consisting of the royal marines, under Capt. Ellis, was to blow open
the north gate with powder bags; but if that attempt failed, they were
to escalade a circular work thrown up as a defence to that gate. The
second column, composed of the blue jackets, under Capt. Bourchier,
were to escalade the wall a little beyond the circular work, where its
height was not so great, under cover of musketry. At the same time,
the 18th Royal Irish, under Lieut.-Colonel Adams, were to escalade the
wall close to the seven-storied pagoda, under cover of our batteries
on the heights above. The assault was also to be covered by the Bengal
volunteers, and part of the Madras 87th N.I. Further to the left,
the 49th, under Lieut.-Col. Morris, were directed to carry a sort of
bastion in front, and within range of the largest and nearest of the
forts upon the heights, of which we had got possession the day before.
Sir Hugh Gough's principal object would then have been to occupy the
fortified hill within the walls, upon which a heavy fire of shells and
rockets was to have been kept up during the assault of the walls.

Every arrangement was thus made which could ensure the certain and
speedy capture of the city, with little loss on our side. What then
must have been the chagrin and disappointment of the general and all
his officers, when, soon after six o'clock, just as the final orders
were given, and the batteries were about to open, a letter from Capt.
Elliot was put into the general's hands, which announced to him that a
truce had been agreed to, and that further operations must therefore be
suspended. It barely arrived in time to stop the assault of the city,
which was on the point of being commenced. Under these circumstances,
as Sir Hugh Gough observed, "whatever might be my sentiments or
feelings, it was my duty to acquiesce, and therefore the attack was
countermanded, and the feelings of the Chinese were spared." To this he
added that he had no means of judging of the policy of the measure.

If any further doubt upon the subject remained, it was finally set at
rest by the arrival of Capt. Elliot in person at the camp, about noon.
From that moment all idea of further hostile operations against the
city was abandoned.

Shortly before Capt. Elliot's arrival, Sir Hugh Gough had held a
short conference, accompanied by Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, with the
Tartar General in person, outside the walls, in a tent pitched for the
purpose. The result was of little importance, as it was already known
that terms had been negotiated by Capt. Elliot.

It could not be doubted that both Sir Hugh Gough and Sir Le Fleming
Senhouse were exceedingly averse to granting any terms to the
Chinese until our troops should have got possession of the city, and
established themselves upon the fortified hill within the walls,
which would have secured our troops against any possible surprise or
treachery, and would have exercised a salutary moral effect upon the
government, without causing any wanton damage to the town or annoyance
to the people. In fact, it could not have failed to humble the pride of
the Chinese, when they knew that a large garrison of foreign soldiers
had made themselves masters of one of the principal cities in the
empire, supposed to contain nearly a million of inhabitants.

Various stories were current concerning the mode in which the ransom of
the city was first proposed. One of the most credited accounts was that
the Hong merchants were ordered by the authorities to go and make terms
for the ransom of the town, in some way or other, under pain of severe
displeasure or punishment. It was said that they were authorized to go
as far as _ten_ millions of dollars, if a less sum would not suffice;
but on no account to return without effecting the object. They must
have known that they would themselves have to pay the greater part of
the amount, and naturally wished to make the best bargain they could.

It is said that in the first instance they pulled along side one of
our men-of-war, and offered three millions for the ransom of the city.
As they evidently appeared to be in a hurry to make a bargain of some
sort or other, they were told that a much larger sum would be required.
Four millions were then proposed, and then five millions; and at
length, in great trepidation, and with many protestations of poverty,
they raised the offer to six millions. In the first instance they were
scarcely thought to be in earnest, but as the thing now really looked
serious, they were directed to go and confer with Capt. Elliot. It was
not difficult to persuade him to grant a truce until twelve o'clock
the following day, the 27th; and, in the intervening time, terms were
definitively agreed upon.

The twenty-four hours' truce, in the first instance, was quite unknown
to Sir Hugh Gough, to whom an officer of the navy had been sent in
the afternoon to convey the information; but having missed his way,
and wandered all night, he only reached the head quarters, as before
stated, within half an hour of the time the batteries were to open. The
fact of the truce having been granted was now sufficient to account for
the Chinese having continued to display the white flag from the walls
the preceding day, after it had been lowered by Sir Hugh Gough upon the

As it had been stipulated that the Tartar troops should leave the city
and retire to a distance of sixty miles from it, a conference was held
on the 28th between Sir Hugh Gough and the prefect of the city, in
order to make arrangements for the evacuation of Canton. It was now
ascertained that the force amounted to no less than forty-five thousand
men from distant provinces, besides those troops which belonged to the
province itself.

The Tartar soldiers were allowed to march out with their arms and
baggage, but without displaying their banners, and without music.

So far then the authorities appeared to have perfect control over the
people of the city, and over the troops belonging to other provinces
which formed the garrison. But beyond the city it was not so easy for
them to exercise the same degree of authority, particularly as regarded
the armed peasants. For some time the peasantry of the province,
particularly in the neighbourhood of the city, had been encouraged
to form themselves into societies, or patriotic bands, as they were
called, for mutual defence against the foreigners. They constituted
a sort of rude military; but having inexperienced leaders and no
discipline, they were calculated, if once their passions were roused,
to become much more troublesome to the province itself than they
were formidable to the enemy. They were imperfectly armed, every man
according to his own taste, with spears, swords, a few matchlocks, and
shields. With perfect ignorance of military affairs, and without any
knowledge of the resources of the enemy they were to encounter, they
believed that, by mere force of numbers, and a show of courage at a
distance, they could effect that which even their regular Tartars had
been totally unable to accomplish. Yet they were held up to the nation
at large by the government as models of patriotism and self-devotion;
and so impressed were they with the high value of their proffered
services, that they really believed the high officers had betrayed
their trust in acceding to Captain Elliot's terms for the ransom of
the city; and that the anxiety of the inhabitants to save their own
property had induced them to make unreasonable concessions, at the very
moment when _they_ (the patriots) were advancing to exterminate their
enemies by falling upon their rear.

It is, therefore, not surprising that, two days after the city had
been ransomed--namely, on the 29th, a considerable body of these men
began to collect upon the heights, about three or four miles in the
rear of our positions. Their numbers continued to increase throughout
the day, and Sir Hugh Gough, being fully prepared to expect some act
of treachery or bad faith under cover of a flag of truce, directed
Major-General Burrell to take charge of our positions, and to hold
every man in readiness to repel any attack from the city, while he
himself advanced in person to meet and disperse the enemy, who now
shewed themselves.

The 26th regiment, under Major Pratt, which had occupied the factories
until the 27th, had been brought up to Tsingpoo by the Nemesis on that
day, and had joined Sir Hugh Gough upon the heights. The force which
the general now took with him comprised that regiment, the 49th, except
one company left at the joss-house on the heights, the 37th, M.N.I.,
and the company of Bengal Volunteers, supported by the Royal Marines.
These two latter were to be held in reserve, so as to be in readiness
to return towards the heights, and act upon the flank, should any
attack be made from the town during the absence of so large a portion
of our force.

The Chinese had descended from the heights in the rear upon which they
had first appeared, and had taken up rather a strong position behind
an embankment along the bed of a stream; they appeared to number about
four thousand men. The 26th regiment, which had not yet been engaged,
supported by the 37th M.N.I., were ordered to advance and drive them
from this position, which they effected without any loss. Like most
irregular troops, the Chinese patriots could not act together in a
body, but took to flight, throwing away their spears as soon as a
well directed fire was opened upon them. They attempted to rally for
a moment at a sort of military post in their rear, but they did not
make a stand. The buildings were immediately destroyed, together with
a magazine, which was unexpectedly found in the adjoining village. The
Chinese retreated to the heights upon which they had first appeared.

Sir Hugh Gough, having then directed the 49th and Bengal Volunteers
to fall back upon our original position upon the heights, remained to
watch in person the movements of the Chinese, with the 26th and the
37th M.N.I., amounting together to between five hundred and six hundred

The heat of the sun this day was excessive; it was so sultry that both
officers and men suffered great exhaustion, and Major Beecher, the
deputy quartermaster-general, whose exertions had been unremitting
throughout the previous days, fell down and almost immediately expired;
several other officers also fell sick. Within two or three hours after
the first repulse of the Chinese, they again collected upon the heights
in greater numbers than before, fresh bodies of them having now come up
with banners, &c., amounting to from seven thousand to eight thousand

Captain Knowles of the artillery, who had been ordered to bring up some
rockets, now threw them with great precision among the Chinese, but
without being able to disperse them; indeed, they appeared determined
to shew a bold front; and the general, therefore, directed Major Pratt,
with the 26th, to attack a large body of them who had descended from
the heights to some rice-fields on his left. Captain Duff, with the
37th M.N.I., supported by the Bengal Volunteers, was also directed to
advance and disperse a large body in his front, who had attempted to
reoccupy the military post which had been already burnt; they were then
to push forward towards the hills, and clear them of the enemy.

These manoeuvres were executed with complete success, the Chinese being
dispersed at all points. The 37th M.N.I., however, pushed on rather
further than had been intended, and got separated from the Bengal
Volunteers. Captain Duff had, however, detached a company to open his
communication with the 26th, who were at some distance on his left.
But the day was now far advanced, and the thunder-storm, the approach
of which had been surely indicated by the extreme sultriness and
oppressive heat of the morning, now burst upon them with inconceivable
fury. The rain also descended in such torrents that the firelocks
got wet and scarcely a single musket would go off. The 26th were, in
consequence, frequently compelled to charge with the bayonet, for the
Chinese, who hovered about them, seeing that they could not use their
firelocks, came boldly up to attack them with their long spears, which
are formidable from their length. After several repulses, the Chinese
at length withdrew, and our troops were directed to return to their

It was on this occasion, and in the midst of this terrific storm, in
the dusk of evening, that the gallant conduct and steadiness of the
company of the 37th M.N.I., which, as before stated, had been detached
to open a communication with the 26th, on their left, saved them from
total destruction, and won for them the praise of all military men.
The story has been so often told, and with so little variation in its
details, that it is scarcely necessary to repeat it; a few words will
do justice to their gallantry. The detached company having missed
the road during the storm, did not succeed in joining the 26th, who,
in the meantime, had, in fact, retired. Their muskets were found
completely useless, owing to the wet, which emboldened the Chinese to
attack their rear with their long spears, as they had done the 26th.
They were soon surrounded; and one or two of the men were pulled
over with a long crooked spear, something in the shape of a small
reaping-hook, fixed upon a long pole. The musket of one of the men who
had fallen was picked up by the Chinese, the powder being so damp in
the pan that it would not go off with the flint and steel. The Chinese
soldier, however, deliberately placed the musket to his shoulder, and,
taking steady aim at one of the officers, Mr. Berkeley, applied his
match to the damp powder, which ignited, and the musket went off, and
unfortunately wounded Mr. Berkeley in the arm.

The gallant little company of Sepoys were now moved to some rising
ground, where they could better defend themselves. For a moment, the
rain ceased; and then with the utmost difficulty they were enabled to
get a few muskets off, with unerring effect upon the dense mass of
Chinese who surrounded them. But fortune was determined to prolong
their trial still. The rain again descended in torrents, just as they
had begun their retreat; and the Chinese, taking fresh courage, resumed
their attacks. Nothing now remained but to form a square, and stand
true to each other, until the morning dawned, and enabled them to fight
their way through the enemy.

The absence of this company, when all the rest of the force was
concentrated, caused great anxiety concerning their fate. It was
rightly attributed to the severity of the storm, but it was feared that
they might possibly have been cut off by the Chinese.

Without loss of time, Sir Hugh Gough ordered up two companies of
marines, who were comparatively fresh, and armed with percussion
muskets, to return with Captain Duff in search of the missing company.
As they advanced they fired an occasional shot, as a signal to their
comrades of their approach, and to animate their spirits. At length,
an occasional shot was heard ahead of them, and they soon afterwards
came up with the missing company, drawn up in a square, surrounded by
thousands of Chinese. A couple of volleys sent into the midst of the
confused crowd, by the unerring percussion-muskets[50] of the marines,
accompanied by a loud "hurra," dispersed them with great loss, and they
fled in confusion.

The generals own words will best do justice to this little
incident:--"The Sepoys," says he, "in this critical situation,
nobly upheld the high character of the native army, by unshrinking
discipline, and cheerful obedience, and I feel that the expression of
my best thanks is due to Lieutenants Hadfield and Devereux, and Ensign
Berkeley, who zealously supported them during this trying scene."

They did not, however, escape without some loss, as one private was
killed, and one officer and fourteen men were severely wounded.

This open hostility of the Chinese, during the operation of a truce,
could not be permitted to continue; and, moreover, it was evident
that no good purpose could be attained by merely dispersing these
irregular bodies of the Chinese. Accordingly, on the following morning,
the 31st, the general sent to inform the Kwang-chow-foo, or prefect,
that if these hostile demonstrations were continued, he should be
under the necessity of at once hauling down the flag of truce, and of
recommencing hostilities against the city. In the course of the day,
before any further arrangements had been made with the prefect, who
promised to come and meet the general and Captain Elliot under the
walls, the Chinese again collected upon the hills, displaying their
banners, &c., and firing off their guns. Detached parties were also
thrown in advance, as if they had some design of communicating with the
Tartar troops, who, to the number of 7000, had already marched out of
the city, and were still moving.

In the afternoon, the number of Chinese had still further increased,
upon the same hills upon which they had appeared the day before. At
length, the prefect arrived, and assured the general that the movements
of these peasants were quite without the knowledge or sanction of the
authorities, and that he would immediately send off an officer of rank
to order them to disperse to their homes. It was agreed that one of
our own officers should also accompany him, to endeavour to effect
this object by their joint efforts; and Captain Moore, of the 34th
Bengal N.I., volunteered to undertake this hazardous and responsible
duty. Some treachery might possibly have been intended, although, as
there was reason to believe, without the sanction of the prefect, who
was personally, at that time, completely in our power. These irregular
bodies were at length induced to disperse, and no further collision
took place.[51]

During all the operations upon the heights, the greater part of
the wounded were brought down and put on board the Nemesis, where
they received every attention from the surgeon of the vessel, and
particularly from Mr. Peter Young, who was then on board merely as
a volunteer. The Nemesis was employed to convey them daily to their
respective ships and transports. The total number of casualties
amounted to fifteen killed, and one hundred and twelve wounded; among
the latter were no less than fifteen officers.[52] The Chinese must
have suffered very severely, as almost every shot told upon their heavy

Upon the heights of Canton forty-nine guns were captured, besides
a great number of ginjals. But if we reckon all the guns taken and
destroyed in the Canton river and its numerous branches, from Chuenpee
to Canton, they will be found to amount to not less than _twelve
hundred pieces_, besides ginjals, &c.

The resources of the Chinese seemed endless, and the rapidity with
which they erected batteries and field-works was not a little
remarkable. It cannot be said that they yielded without first making
the most strenuous efforts to defend all the approaches to Canton; and
they were rather wanting in skill, and the knowledge of the best mode
of applying their abundant resources, than in courage or determination
to resist. The Chinese are capable of becoming a formidable enemy,
and we cannot forget that, like the Russians, who were once so easily
conquered, they may soon learn the art of war from their conquerors,
and become formidable from the experience which their first disasters
taught them.

On the 31st of May, nearly 18,000 Tartars had marched out of Canton,
according to the terms agreed on. Five million dollars had also been
paid, and security given for the other million which was still to be
paid. Preparations were therefore made, at the request of Captain
Elliot, for the re-embarkation of our forces, and their withdrawal
from before Canton. With the assistance of eight hundred Chinese
labourers, who were furnished for the purpose by the prefect, the guns,
ammunition, and stores were brought down to Tsingpoo on the morning of
the 1st of June, under a strong escort; and the British flag having
been lowered in the forts upon the heights, the whole of our force was
re-embarked in the afternoon, under the superintendence of Captain
Bourchier and Captain Maitland.

Sir Hugh Gough particularly noticed the absence of excess of every kind
which distinguished the men during the eight days they were on shore.
Although placed in situations where temptation was abundant, only two
instances of drunkenness occurred during the whole period.

The treaty, or perhaps rather the truce, which had been made, by no
means implied the conclusion of peace between the two nations; it had
reference solely to the city and river of Canton, the whole of the
forts and defences of which were to be restored to the Chinese as soon
as the ransom had been paid; it was, however, stipulated that they were
not to be _re-armed_ "until affairs between the two countries should
be finally settled." Accordingly, as soon as our forces, both military
and naval, had been again concentrated at Hong-Kong, preparations were
immediately recommenced for the resumption of the projected expedition
against Amoy.


25TH OF MAY, 1841.

                                                   |Officers|All other
                                                   |        |  ranks.
Left Brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel Morris.     |        |
H.M. 49th Regiment, commanded by Major Stephens    |   28   |     273
37th Madras Native Infantry,                       |        |
Captain Duff                      {European 11}    |   15   |     215
                                  {Native    4}    |        |
Company of Bengal Volunteers,                      |        |
Captain Mee                       {European  2}    |    4   |     112
                                  {Native    2}    |        |
                                                   |   47   |     600
Third, or Artillery Brigade,                       |        |
under Captain Knowles, R.A.                        |        |
Royal Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Spencer   |    2   |      33
Madras Artillery, commanded by Captain Anstruther  |   10   |     231
Sappers and Miners, commanded by Captain Cotton    |    4   |     137
                                                   |   16   |     401
Second, or Naval Brigade, under Captain Bourchier. |        |
1st Battalion, Captain Maitland              11}   |   27   |172} 403
2nd Battalion, Commander Barlow              16}   |        |231}
                                                   |   27   |     403
First (right) Brigade, under Major-General Burrell.|        |
18th Royal Irish, Lieut.-Colonel Adams             |   25   |     495
Royal Marines, Captain Ellis                       |    9   |     372
                                                   |   34   |     867
                         Total, Officers           |  124   |
                         ----,  Other ranks        |        |    2271
                         Grand total                      2395

N.B.--It is to be remarked that the company of Bengal Volunteers,
comprising one hundred and twelve men, had only two European officers.

[49] Names of officers:--Captain Hall, Mr. Whitehurst, and Mr. Gaunt,
Nemesis; Mr. Goss and Mr. Hooper, H.M.S. Sulphur; Mr. Holland and Mr.
Lambert, H.M.S. Blonde.

[50] Only two of the percussion-muskets of the marines missed fire,
although they had been loaded two or three days before, without having
been discharged since. The men belonged principally to the Blenheim,
under Lieutenant Whiting.

[51] It is impossible for us to know exactly what communication was
made by the Chinese officer, to the heads of these patriotic bands,
but it was thought that the people did not withdraw altogether owing
to the conviction that their efforts would be useless against us, but
because they were bound to obey the orders of the prefect. At the same
time, they really believed that they had been betrayed by their own
authorities, and were ready to unite again whenever occasion offered
with some confidence of success.

[52] Lieut. C. Fox, R.N., and Mr. Kendall had each a leg shot off; the
former died.


In the first week in June, all our ships of war and transports had
left the Canton River, and were again assembled at Hong-Kong. All the
forts from Chuenpee upwards had been restored to the Chinese, without
any other stipulation except that all those below Whampoa should be
suffered to remain in _statu quo_.

The emperor seems to have been much displeased with the latter part
of this agreement; and, in reply to the memorial of Yih-shan upon the
subject, his majesty directed that "_secret means_ of defence should
be prepared as soon as the foreign ships had withdrawn from the river,
and that they were then to build new and strong forts, and repair the
old ones." On our side, however, nothing of this kind was permitted
below Whampoa; so that, until the ratifications of the treaty of peace
had been actually exchanged, the whole of the defences of the Bogue
remained in the same dilapidated state in which they were left when our
squadron quitted the river in June, 1841.

Sickness had already begun to prevail among our troops before they had
reached Hong-Kong. The eight days' exposure which they had endured upon
the heights of Canton sowed the seeds of ague and dysentery, which
proved far more formidable energies to us than any troops the Chinese
could bring against us. After the lapse of a few days, and when the
excitement of active operations on shore, and the cheering influence
of hope and novelty had subsided, the sickness spread among the men
with alarming rapidity, so that, at length, out of our small force, no
less than _eleven hundred men_ were upon the sick-list at Hong-Kong.
Part of this alarming state of things must be attributed certainly to
the pernicious influence of the atmosphere of Hong-Kong itself at that
season of the year. But every allowance must be made for the exposure
which the men had undergone at Canton, and for the susceptibility of
constitution produced by long confinement on board ship. The germs of
disease were planted in their bodies before the men returned to the
harbour of Hong-Kong; and, therefore, an undue stress was laid at the
time upon the unhealthiness of Hong-Kong itself. It is worth while
here to mention, that the three imperial commissioners laid particular
stress upon the known unhealthiness of the neighbourhood of Canton at
that season, as a ground for the impossibility of keeping any large
body of troops long together; and it happened, remarkably enough,
that two of the high officers died as nearly as possible at the same
time--one on the part of the Chinese, and one on our side. Lung-Wan,
one of the imperial commissioners, died of fever at Canton about the
middle of June; and Sir Le Fleming Senhouse, the senior naval officer,
also died of fever at Hong-Kong on the 13th of that month.

Sir Le Fleming Senhouse had partaken of all the privations of the
troops on shore, and exposed himself on every occasion in which his
zeal and example could serve the cause. He was, moreover, undoubtedly
chagrined at the unlooked-for termination of his labours by a truce,
the provisions of which, right or wrong, scarcely accorded with his
own views of the exigencies of the moment. All these causes combined,
acting upon a not over-strong constitution, sufficed to hurry him by
sickness to his grave. On the 17th, his remains were removed to Macao,
according to a wish which he had expressed before his death, as if
he retained a lurking doubt whether Hong-Kong would not some day or
other be restored to the Chinese. The Nemesis was employed upon this
melancholy occasion, to carry over his remains. At Macao, the body of
the gallant veteran was buried, with all the honours due to his rank,
in the English burial-ground.

The loss of Sir Le Fleming Senhouse and other officers, as well as a
good many men, and the prevailing sickness on board all the vessels of
war and transports, at length threw a gloom over the whole expedition,
which was hardly to be relieved until the expected movement upon Amoy
should take place: this was accordingly looked forward to with great

The island of Hong-Kong, which was originally ceded to us by the terms
of our treaty with Keshen, but, in consequence of the disallowance of
that treaty by the emperor, was afterwards only held by us by right of
occupancy during the progress of hostilities, was at length confirmed
as a possession of the crown of Great Britain by the ratification
of the treaty of Nankin. It was proclaimed as a part of the British
empire, and, together with its dependencies, erected into a separate
colony, on the 26th of June, 1843, under the designation of the "Colony
of Hong-Kong."

It is difficult to ascertain what are the actual dependencies of
Hong-Kong. They, probably, include all the small islands immediately
adjacent to it, particularly on its southern side; but whether
Lamma Island is comprised in them or not, we have little means of
judging. In the proclamation, dated at its capital town, Victoria,
and published by the authority of Sir Henry Pottinger, the colony is
said to be situated between twenty-two degrees, nine minutes, and
twenty-two degrees, twenty-one minutes, north latitude, which would
give it an extent of twelve miles from north to south; so that Lamma
Island, as well as the smaller adjacent islands, would appear to be
included in the dependencies. The extent of the colony from east to
west is not distinctly laid down, as only one meridian of longitude is
given-namely, 114° 18' east longitude from Greenwich.

The position assigned to the island of Hong-Kong in the maps is,
probably, incorrect, as it does not coincide with that laid down by Sir
Henry Pottinger in the proclamation. The greatest length of the island
itself is from east to west--namely, eight miles; but the breadth is
extremely irregular, varying from six miles to about two miles only.[53]

The present capital, Victoria, extends for a considerable distance
along its northern shore, and, from the nature of the ground, has
of necessity been, built in a very extended, straggling manner. The
distance across to the mainland of China, if it can be so called, (for
part of the opposite coast is probably an island,) varies considerably.
The breadth of the Lyemoon Passage to the eastward is little more than
a quarter of a mile, but from the town to the nearest point opposite to
it is about a mile and a quarter, while the greatest breadth is upwards
of four miles.

The roads of Hong-Kong and the Bay of Victoria form an excellent
anchorage, having deep water very near the shore, and only one small
shoal having sixteen feet water upon it. There are, however, two
disadvantages under which it labours: it is exposed to the full fury of
the typhoons whenever they occur; and the high mountains of Hong-Kong
intercept the genial breezes of the south-west monsoon during the
hot season, when a movement in the atmosphere is most necessary, not
only to moderate the sultry summer heat of a tropical climate, but to
dissipate the unhealthy vapours which are generated after the heavy
rains which occur, particularly during the night, at that season.

In other respects, the lake-like appearance of the harbour is
beautiful; it forms a sort of basin, lying between the mountains of
Hong-Kong and the mountains of the mainland opposite. For this reason,
however, the rains which fall are sometimes excessively heavy: the
dark, threatening clouds seem banded across from one side to the other,
pouring down their waters in torrents upon the basin between them.
The mountain sides of Hong-Kong, steep though they are, occasionally
appear almost covered with a sheet of moving water, so torrent-like
do the streams pour down their declivities. To this succeeds the
burning, tropical sun of July, with a sort of death-like stillness in
the atmosphere, which, little influenced as it is on that side of the
island by the south-west monsoon, cannot fail, if it last long without
any change, to produce fever and sickness.

Almost all tropical countries are occasionally subject to these
visitations; but, as a proof that Hong-Kong is not always exposed to
them, I may be permitted to mention that a gentleman who was once at
anchor there, in company with a fleet of full fifty sail of merchant
ships during a period of nine months, including the whole summer
season, declared that he observed _no prevailing fever or sickness of
any kind_.

The extremely barren appearance of nearly all the islands at the mouth
of the Canton River, the deep and rugged furrows which seem to plough
up their mountain sides, the exposed, rocky surface of their summits,
and the absence of soil, except in sheltered spots or hollows, seem
at once to point out that they are situated within the influence of
hurricanes and tropical rains. In this respect, the contrast between
this part of China and the Chusan Islands to the northward, is very
remarkable. The latter look as rich and inviting, both near and at a
distance, as the former appear inhospitable and barren. In the one
case, there is an industrious and thriving population, who contrive
to cultivate the surface of the mountains, frequently to their very
summits, with the greatest care and nicety; in the other case, there
is a hardy and adventurous population of fishermen, smugglers, and
pirates; the unwilling soil is only cultivated in scattered patches,
and the villages are few, and comparatively of mean appearance.


    1 West Point Barracks
    2 West Point Battery
    3 Chinese Bazaars--and Market
    4 Chief Magistrate, and Police Office
    5 Harbour Master
    6 Governor's Residence
    7 Barracks
    8 Bazaars
    9 Artillery Barracks
    10 East Battery
    11 Hospital--Military
    12 Cemetery
    13 Seamen's Hospital
    14 Morrison Education Society
    15 Tower and Guard
    16 }
    17 } Military Stations
    18 }

The southern side of the island of Hong-Kong was visited by Capt. Hall,
in the squadron which conveyed Lord Amherst's embassy to China in 1816;
and it is, therefore, worth while to repeat here the observations
of Dr. Clarke Abel Smith upon that occasion. The bay in which the
vessels anchored was near the village of Shekpywan, and was then
called Hong-Kong Sound. It was described as "being formed by several
small islands, by which it is land-locked on every side, and of which
Hong-Kong is the principal." "As seen from the deck," says Dr. Smith,
"this island was chiefly remarkable for its high, conical mountains
rising in the centre, and for a beautiful cascade, which rolled over a
fine blue rock into the sea."

This was in the beginning of July. The rocks on that side of the island
were found approaching to basalt in compactness of structure. In
ascending the principal mountain which was near, he followed the course
of a delightful stream, which rises near its summit; and was much
struck with the extreme barrenness of the surface of the mountain, and,
indeed, of every part of the island which he was able to visit. "Yet,
at a distance," says he, "it appears _fertile_, from the _abundance of
fern_, which I believe to be the polypodium trichotomum, [of Kæmpfer,]
which supplies _the place of other plants_."

By the side of the stream, however, he found several interesting
plants. Among them the Beckia chinensis; myrtus tomentosus in
abundance, and in full flower; melastoma quinquenervia; and several
orchideous plants, of which he could not determine the varieties. There
were a great number of ferns, but not a single moss of any description.
He adds that he was unable to reach the summit of the mountain, in
consequence of the excessive heat, which, at eight A.M., raised the
thermometer to 83° in the shade, while the sun's rays, to which he was
necessarily exposed, darted through an unclouded atmosphere with an
almost intolerable effect, and raised the mercury to 120°.

On his way down from the mountain, he followed a path which led over
a small hill, or rather mound, differing in structure from the rocks
in its neighbourhood, being composed of very friable stone, of reddish
white colour, much resembling disintegrated felspar. He describes the
scenery of the island as composed of barren rocks, deep ravines, and
mountain torrents, with few characters of a picturesque kind. The only
inhabitants he saw were some poor weather-beaten fishermen spreading
their nets, and drying the produce of their toils, on the rocks which
supported their miserable huts. Its cultivation corresponded with the
apparent state and number of its population. Patches of rice, small
plantations of yams, and a little buck-wheat, were all their visible
means of vegetable support.

As regards the anchorage itself, at what he calls Hong-Kong Sound,
naval men described it as affording admirable shelter for ships of any

Such, then, is all the information acquired at that time concerning a
portion of the southern side of Hong-Kong. Little was it then thought,
that this very island would, in a few years, become a part of the
British empire.

The description given above of the general aspect of Hong-Kong, may be
considered as tolerably correct, but, by the increase of its population
since that period, and more particularly, after it became a place of
resort for our ships, even before the close of the war, the general
appearance of the island gradually improved, and the population became
augmented. At the time we took possession of the island, there was
little to tempt us to make a settlement there, except the excellent
anchorage on its northern side, having a passage in and out at either
end, its proximity to the mouth of the Canton river, and the difficulty
of finding any more suitable place for our purpose.

At the eastern end of Hong-Kong there are capital stone-quarries,
which are worked with skill and facility by Chinese labourers, so that
building is much facilitated; water is also abundant and generally
good. A long range of mountains stretches from one end of the island to
the other, of which, the highest point, called Victoria Peak, is about
two thousand feet above the level of the sea; and, at the foot of the
very mountain, part of the town of Victoria (and it would seem also its
most unhealthy part,) is built. Now, as this range of rugged mountains
extends from east to west, the harbour, and consequently the principal
part of the town and places of business lying upon its northern side,
it is self-evident that the influence of the south-west monsoon,
which prevails during the summer months, and is then most required to
dissipate the vapours generated out of the earth by a tropical sun, can
scarcely ever be felt on the northern side of the mountains. It has
even been remarked, that _in all parts of_ China, places so situated as
to be sheltered from the influence of the south winds during the summer
season, are sure to be unhealthy.

The mere temperature of a place, as shewn by the thermometer, is
neither an index to its unhealthiness or otherwise, nor to the actual
sensations produced by it upon the human body. For instance, at
Singapore, which is situated only about seventy miles from the equator,
the heat is not felt to be excessive, nor is sickness prevalent during
any season of the year. Yet rain falls constantly during the night,
the grass looks beautifully green even in the hottest season, and when
pineapples are to be seen growing wild in the hedges, and coming to
perfection. But Singapore is entirely open to the southward, and its
atmosphere is agitated and its vapours dissipated, by the refreshing
sea-breezes which constantly pass over it.

The mean temperature of the month of July last, (1843,) at Hong-Kong,
was 88°, the lowest was 84°, and the highest 92°. Hence it appears,
that the difference of temperature between day and night, is much less
than might be expected; in fact, the _lowest_ temperature was only
four degrees below the average temperature of the whole month. On one
occasion only, it rose to 92° during the middle of the day, and once
only, fell to 84° during the night.

But, if the town of Victoria is deprived of the advantage of the
south-west breezes during the hot season, it is fully exposed to the
influence of the north-east monsoon during the winter months. The
sudden change which takes place sometimes in a few hours, in the
months of October and November, is severely felt. In the beginning of
December, I have felt the cold breezes from the northward far more
piercing than the hardest frost in the still atmosphere of northern
regions, because the change is sudden. Hence, the practice among the
Chinese, of putting on a succession of warm coats, or wadded pelisses,
or taking them off one by one, according as the temperature changes,
is the only safe course for Europeans to adopt. In fact, all those
who visit Hong-Kong, or take up a lengthened residence there, must be
provided with clothing adapted to the extremes of temperature, and be
cautious not to defer the changes of costume too long; they should
rather err on the side of too much than too little clothing.

Now I am upon the subject of the unhealthiness of Hong-Kong generally,
(to which subject, however, I shall again revert,) I cannot omit to
mention that the sickness has by no means been limited to those who
resided on shore, but has to a very great extent afflicted those also
who remained on board ship. Nor did it diminish so rapidly as had
been expected, (during the past year, 1843,) as the season advanced
and the temperature diminished. On the contrary, after being in a
great measure arrested at the commencement of November, it seemed to
acquire fresh virulence towards the latter end of that month. A private
letter, dated November 3rd, says, "The men-of-war are reducing their
sick lists. The Cornwallis has now only one hundred and four; the other
day she had one hundred and sixty under the doctor's hands." Another
letter, dated the 28th of the same month, says, "The sickness is again
as bad as ever. Each ship loses a man daily. Among the troops on shore
how many are lost! Many gentlemen who have been sick, and are now
recovering, are starting off for England, for health's sake."

Health committees have, however, been established, and it is hoped
that some good may result from their investigations. All parts even
of the northern side of the island are not equally unhealthy; and it
must be remembered that a place may be very unhealthy one year, and be
comparatively free from sickness the following year.[54] It is also
remarked that the occurrence of a typhoon (though in other respects
much to be dreaded) tends materially to improve the healthiness of an
otherwise sickly place, by the violent phenomena, barometrical and
electrical, which it produces, and by which all nature is affected.

Hitherto the western and eastern extremities of Victoria Bay seem to
have proved most unhealthy to Europeans, the centre being less so.
The left wing of the 55th, quartered at West Point barracks, lost
one hundred men between June and the middle of August last; and at
length the place was abandoned, and the rest of the men sent on board
ship. At the recommendation of a health committee, the ground in
the neighbourhood was ordered to be levelled and well drained. This
essential measure will doubtless be resorted to in other situations;
indeed, it would be a matter of the highest importance, if possible, to
prohibit the cultivation of rice by the Chinese upon _any part_ of the
island. Wherever rice is grown, particularly within or verging upon the
tropics, there must be more or less unhealthiness. If compensation were
thought requisite, to reimburse the Chinese proprietors for the loss of
their crops, the amount would be small in comparison with the advantage
gained. But, in reality, where the rice-grounds (which, after all, are
very limited) had been properly drained, they might be adapted to the
cultivation of other productions equally necessary for a population
numbering so many Europeans, and less likely to be prejudicial to the
health of the community.[55]

At the eastern extremity of Victoria Bay is a considerable valley,
shut up by mountains on every side, except towards the sea. It is
laid out almost entirely in rice-grounds, and the waters of a natural
stream, descending from the mountains at the end of the valley, had
been diverted from their natural channel, and conducted by innumerable
streamlets to every part of the valley, for the irrigation of the
rice-grounds. Several houses have been built upon the declivity of the
hills around it, in the expectation that this would be the ultimate
site of a second town, as soon as the very limited space between the
mountains and the harbour, along the front of Victoria Bay, should be
completely occupied, which it bids fair soon to become. The draining of
this valley would essentially improve the condition of that important
portion of the island.

A good road has already been nearly completed across that valley, and
over the mountains to the other side of the island, leading down to
Tytam Bay, and the important village of Chek-Chu. Beyond this valley
to the eastward, on the other side of Matheson's point, are fine bold
rocks, running down to the water's edge, being also more open to the
draught of air along the Lyemoon passage, this position would probably
be a healthy one.

Having thus spoken so much concerning the northern side of the island
in particular, it may be asked what is the state of the southern side,
as regards its healthiness. Undoubtedly, the southern side, being
open to the south-west monsoon, is comparatively healthy, but there
is no harbour fit for mercantile purposes on that side, nor was any
land appropriated there for building purposes in the first instance,
because the unhealthiness of Victoria Bay was not fully ascertained,
and because, where a man's treasure or his business is, there will his
heart and his occupation be also. Doubtless, in a very short time many
of the Europeans will reside on the southern side of the island, and
cross over the mountains daily to transact their business.

The principal Chinese village, which numbered a population of about
two thousand, even when we took possession of the island, is prettily
situated on the southern side, in a sheltered bay, well open, however,
to the south-west wind. It is called Chek-Chu, and, at the suggestion
of Major Aldrich, cantonments have been formed for a detachment of
troops there, so as to separate them from the Chinese population. A
detachment of the 98th regiment, which was quartered there during the
last season, remained almost entirely healthy; and there is little
doubt that in a short time many Europeans will take up their residence
in that neighbourhood.

It is extremely difficult to form any tolerable estimate of the
Chinese population on the island. It varies continually, a great part
of the people being migratory. When we first took the island there
were probably about five thousand Chinese upon it, exclusive of the
boat-people, casual labourers from the opposite coast, and others of a
migratory description. They were distributed into fourteen or fifteen
villages or hamlets, of which the principal, as before stated, was
Chek-chu, on the southern side, situated in a bay partly formed by the
long irregular headland which runs out and takes the name of Tytam
Head. This bay, together with Tytam Bay, will doubtless soon become a
favourite spot for the retired residences of Europeans.

Since we have held possession of the island, the Chinese have naturally
been attracted to it in great numbers. The tradesmen, mechanics,
servants to English residents, labourers, boatmen, and market people,
are all Chinese. Add to these also, a small body of Chinese police,
and we shall find that the population must be considerable. In all the
warehouses of the merchants a vast number of porters and attendants
are employed; all the houses are built by Chinese workmen, and a vast
number are also employed by government upon the public roads and works.
The number of migratory, or trading people, who come down from Canton,
Macao, and other parts, is also large; so that upon the whole the high
estimate of 30,000 which has been given, may not be much overrated.
But this number probably includes the Europeans, the number of whom,
exclusive of the military, cannot be large, perhaps a very few hundreds.

The reputed unhealthiness of the town of Victoria has deterred many
from coming over from Macao for the present, who otherwise contemplated
establishing themselves on the island. The uncertainty which has
prevailed respecting the liberty to store opium, has also tended to
give a check to the originally rapid progress of the settlement.

In the meantime, the Portuguese, becoming fully sensible of the
deterioration of the value of property at Macao, owing to the sudden
rise of a rival European settlement in their neighbourhood, began
to take into consideration the propriety of rendering Macao a free
port, similar to Hong-Kong, and probably without any restrictions as
to opium. Great efforts have been made to effect this object, and the
Portuguese governor had gone up to Canton, attended by his suite, with
a view to confer with the authorities, in the hope of procuring from
the government the recognition of greater privileges than they had
hitherto enjoyed. This circumstance, together with the momentary pause
at Hong-Kong, had tended to reassure the European inhabitants of Macao,
and to raise the value of houses (which had previously fallen) from ten
to fifteen per cent.

If means should be found (of which strong hopes are entertained) of
improving the condition of Hong-Kong, as regards its healthiness, no
attempted rivalry of Macao could affect the new settlement to any
extent. It has neither a harbour for ships to anchor in sufficiently
near the town, nor ground upon which warehouses could be built, nor can
the Portuguese officers ever possess more than a very restricted, and
perhaps precarious authority.

The wonderful progress of our settlement at Hong-Kong, in the first
instance, affords perhaps one of the most striking instances that has
ever been recorded of the astonishing energy and enterprise of the
British character. Great as were the early strides made even by some
of the Australian colonies, situated too at the opposite end of the
globe, their progress, compared with that of Hong-Kong, was slow and
difficult. When our forces were assembled in the harbour of Hong-Kong,
on their return from Canton, in June, 1841, there was not a single
regularly built house fit for the habitation of Europeans upon the
island; for the Chinese villages can hardly be taken into account. When
the expedition set sail for Amoy, about two months afterwards, a few
mat-sheds and temporary huts were all that indicated the future site of
the town of Victoria, or pointed out what was soon to become the centre
of British commerce in that part of the world, and the seat of British
power upon the threshold of the most populous empire the world ever saw.

The first sale by auction of land, or rather of the annual quit-rents
only, was held in June. On the 7th of that month, Hong-Kong was
declared to be a free port, and on the 22nd, Mr. A. R. Johnston, the
deputy-superintendent of trade, was appointed acting governor of the

The portion of land put up for sale, in the first instance, consisted
of only thirty-four lots, each of which was to have a sea-frontage of
about one hundred feet; but the depth of each lot, of course, varied
considerably, according to the nature of the ground. The sale of the
annual quit-rents only, payable in advance, produced no less a sum than
£3165. 10s. yearly, at this first sale. Equally high prices also were
obtained on subsequent occasions. Moreover, one of the conditions of
sale was, that each purchaser should be required to incur an outlay
upon each lot, within the _first six_ months, either in building or
otherwise, of not less than one thousand dollars, or upwards of two
hundred and twenty-two pounds sterling, and a deposit of five hundred
dollars was to be paid into the hands of the treasurer within one week,
but was to be repayable as soon as an equal amount had been expended.

Accordingly, within six months from the time above named, wonderful
improvements had taken place, although much preliminary work was
necessary before any solid building could be erected. In fact, the
first regular house built for Europeans was not completed until
September or October following; and, as it was constructed entirely by
Chinese mechanics, it assumed very much the form of a Chinese house.

The government now began to form an excellent road, called the Queens
Road, along the front of the harbour, and to encourage improvements
in every possible way. The elements of a regular establishment were
soon formed, and the nucleus of a powerful European community was soon
planted upon the borders of haughty China. Its progress from this
moment was wonderful, and no stronger argument than this can be adduced
to point out the _necessity_ of such an emporium as Hong-Kong, and the
impossibility of continuing the former state of things.

Within _one year_ from the completion of the first house, not only
were regular streets and bazaars for the Chinese erected, but numerous
large substantial warehouses were built mostly of stone, some already
finished, and others in progress. Wharfs and jetties were constructed
of the most substantial kind; the sound of the stone-mason's hammer
was heard in every direction, and a good road was in progress, and an
admirable market was established in English style, under covered sheds,
and well-regulated by the police. The Chinese willingly resorted to it,
and brought abundant supplies of every description, readily submitting
themselves to all the regulations. Large commissariat stores and other
public buildings, including barracks at either end of the town, were
finished. The road, which was carried along the foot of the hills,
extended already to a distance of nearly four miles, and a cut was
being made through a high sand-hill, in order to continue it further;
and at intervals, along the whole of the distance, substantial and even
elegant buildings were already erected. The numerous conical hills
which distinguish this part of the island were nearly all levelled at
the top, in readiness to commence building new houses; stone bridges
were in progress, and the road was being rapidly continued over the
hills at the eastern end of Victoria Bay, leading down to Tytam Bay,
and the picturesque village of Chek-chu.

The Chinese inhabitants seemed to fall readily into our ways and
habits; their labourers and mechanics worked well and willingly for
moderate pay, and came over in crowds from the opposite coast to seek
work; tradesmen crowded in to occupy the little shops in the bazaars;
two European hotels and billiard-rooms were completed; and, in short,
every necessary, and most luxuries, could be obtained with facility
at Hong-Kong, _within the first year of its permanent settlement_.
Even the Portuguese missionaries came over and built a sort of convent
and a chapel; the Morrison Education Society and the Missionary
Hospital Society commenced their buildings; more than one missionary
society made it their head-quarters, and the Anglo-Chinese College, at
Malacca, was about to be removed to this more favourable spot. A small
Roman-catholic chapel was nearly finished, and a neat little American
Baptist chapel had been opened for divine service, being the first
Protestant place of public worship ever established in that part of the
world--of course, with the exception of the old company's chapel, in
the factory at Canton. There was, however, no church of England service
performed at that time on the island--a deficiency which happily has
since been remedied.

Foreign merchants had also commenced building, and it was a curious
sight to see the hundreds of Chinese labourers working upon the
construction of _our_ houses and roads, and flocking from all
quarters to furnish _us_ with supplies, and seeking their living by
serving us in every way, at the very time when we were at war with
their government, and carrying on hostile operations against their
countrymen to the northward. At the same time, also, Chinese tailors
and shoemakers were busy in their little shops making clothes for us,
and Chinese stewards superintended our establishments, while Chinese
servants (in their native costume, tails and all) were cheerfully
waiting upon us at table: and all this within little more than one year
after the _first_ land-sale at Hong-Kong, and while we were still at

There appears to have been some little mistake in the original site
of the town, the principal part of which, or, at least, the part most
inhabited by the Chinese, is situated, in a great measure, upon the
declivity of the highest of the mountains which shut in the harbour.
The space for building is very limited, and, indeed, this is the case
along the whole shore. Gradually people have spread themselves eastward
along the front of the harbour, and, probably, at no very distant
time, a second town will spring up at the eastern end of the harbour;
indeed, the buildings already erected by Messrs. Jardine and Matheson
are so extensive, as to form almost a town of themselves. But the
great distance from one end of Hong-Kong, or rather of Victoria to the
other, is already a source of great inconvenience, particularly in a
hot country. In a short time, the establishment of an exchange in some
central part will probably be undertaken, and will go far to remedy the

It is unfortunate that the space between the foot of the mountains and
the edge of the sea is so very limited. It would have been a great
advantage to have been able to form a quay or esplanade along the front
of the harbour, with warehouses and dwelling-houses in the rear. But
this was not practicable; and, consequently, the back of the warehouses
in most instances faces the water, which in some measure detracts from
the appearance of the town, as seen from the harbour. Nevertheless, it
is impossible for the stranger not to be struck with the first view
of it as he approaches. He could scarcely be prepared to see so many
large, handsome buildings occupying a great extent of frontage in a
settlement so recently acquired.

There are few things more striking of the kind than the view of the
Bay of Victoria and the roads of Hong-Kong, from any one of the hills
at its eastern end towards Matheson's Point. The number of European
vessels, Chinese junks, boats of all kinds, and the long line of
handsome buildings skirting the bay, and lighted up by a brilliant sun
piercing a cloudless atmosphere, present a picturesque and interesting
scene, which is scarcely detracted from even by the barren mountains in
the rear.

As regards the defences of Hong-Kong, it is evident that our main
reliance must always be placed upon our ships of war. The two small
batteries already erected could be of little service against an enemy.
A plan was submitted by Major Aldrich, the commanding engineer, for
forming a large fort somewhere about the centre of the bay. But this
plan did not meet the concurrence of Sir Henry Pottinger, although he
referred it for the consideration of the government at home.

The question of the tenure of land for the future at Hong-Kong, or
rather the terms upon which it can be obtained from the government is
one of the highest importance. It is understood that it is not the
intention of government to permit any land to be alienated from the
crown. Future sales of land will probably be effected in the same way
as the earlier ones; that is, merely the annual rental of the different
lots of land will be put up to auction. No regulations upon this
subject have yet been issued; and, most likely, the new governor, Mr.
Davis, will have some discretionary power in fixing the precise terms
upon which the _right of occupation_ of land will be disposed of. The
system of annual rentals to government in a colony circumstanced as
Hong-Kong is,--a free port, a soil mostly barren, and an island of very
limited extent,--must appear to every one the most judicious plan to
adopt. A _permanent_ annual fund will thus be created for the purposes
of government, and one which must increase every year rather than

Hong-Kong will always possess the immense advantage of abundant labour
at a reasonable rate. Any number of Chinamen which could possibly be
required will always be readily obtained from the mainland.

I must not omit to mention, among the strong characteristics of
English colonization, the establishment of a free press at Hong-Kong.
A newspaper is usually one of the first undertakings in an English
settlement. It has been said, in respect to colonization, that the
first thing the French undertake is to build a fort, the Spaniards a
church, and the English a factory or a warehouse; but, perhaps, it is
more characteristic still, that one of the first things the English
establish is a press. The Englishman carries with him his birthright
of free discussion; and the power of having a good hearty grumble
in _print_ compensates him for many early inconveniences of a new
settlement. There are four English newspapers published in China; the
Hong-Kong Gazette, the Eastern Globe, the Hong-Kong Register, and the
Canton Press; of which the last is published at Macao, and the other
three at Hong-Kong. In the first-named, all the government notices are
inserted by authority.

According to the latest accounts, the Morrison Institution had been
opened for some time, and the youths who were being educated were
making good progress. The Seaman's Hospital for the merchant service,
recently opened, was calculated to afford accommodation to fifty men
and officers. This institution is in a measure a self-supporting one,
a certain sum being paid daily for the maintenance of each person


[53] A glance at the accompanying map will sufficiently indicate the
peculiar form of the island.

[54] Since the commencement of the present year, 1844, the sickness has
nearly disappeared.

[55] The _northernmost_ point in Europe where rice is cultivated, is, I
believe, the neighborhood of Milan. But, even there, none is permitted
to be grown within a circuit of several miles of the city, owing to the
unhealthiness which it would produce.


It is intended that Hong-Kong shall be governed upon the same
principles by which other crown colonies are regulated--namely, that
there shall be a legislative and an executive council, to aid the
governor with their advice and assistance.

The importance of Hong-Kong, not only with regard to the commerce
of all nations with China, but more especially with reference to
our relations with the Chinese government, cannot be estimated
too highly. However scrupulous we may be in the first instance to
limit our intercourse, as much as possible, to the mere commercial
questions which may arise, it is impossible not to foresee that other
complications may result from it, the issue of which it would be
presumptuous to predict. A new era has at length opened upon China,
a sudden and almost incredible change in all her relations with
foreigners; and the ease and apparent readiness with which she has
acceded to all the proposed arrangements respecting trade, is perhaps
not less remarkable than the pertinacious obstinacy with which she had
so long and so haughtily refused to make any change whatever in the
established order of things.

Providence has at length ordained that a vast empire, which comprises
nearly a third of the human race, shall no longer remain totally
excluded from the great family society of nations; and we cannot but
believe that the period has at length arrived when that wonderful
nation is, by a slow but steady progress, to be brought under the
influence of Christianity. But, while we are impressed with this
feeling, let us not be too hasty in precipitating a crisis which
may convulse a mighty empire from one end to the other. This, then,
leads us to the momentous question of the ultimate disorganization or
breaking up of the Chinese empire. _This is the great event which we
have to dread_; for who can contemplate the fearful results of such a
crisis without alarm, and without a desire to prevent a catastrophe of
so vast a nature?

In this point of view, the possession of Hong-Kong, the state of our
relations with the Chinese government, and the difficult questions
which may possibly, at no distant period, require our most anxious
attention, (it must not be forgotten that the present Emperor of China
is already in the decline of life) involve a degree of responsibility
which cannot be too deeply felt, and can scarcely be approached
without misgivings. Every member of the government of Hong-Kong must,
therefore, be keenly alive to the responsibility of his position, and
must watch with profound anxiety every one of the widely spreading
circles into which the acts of our administration may ultimately extend
themselves. We must stand up before the Chinese government, not only in
the relation of a friend, but _of an ally_; and, instead of weakening
its authority, we ought rather to support its influence in the eyes of
its own people. Our intercourse with that remarkable nation ought to be
recorded in the pages of history as a blessing, and not, what it might
readily become, without great caution and prudence--a curse.

Impressed with the truth of these observations, the first great and
difficult question which awakens our anxiety, is that of the future
relations of the opium-trade, and the course which is to be pursued
with respect to it at Hong-Kong. Great anxiety has been felt as to the
regulations which may be applied to it, in our own settlement, which is
understood to be in all respects a free port. It would seem, therefore,
that the storage of opium at Hong-Kong could hardly be prohibited; and
yet it is difficult to discover how it would be possible, in that case,
to avoid the dilemma of appearing in the eyes of the Chinese government
to sanction, and even encourage, a description of trade especially
prohibited by the Emperor. The simplest and indeed the only effectual
mode by which all the difficulties of the question could be surmounted
would be, inducing the Chinese government to legalize the trade, and to
consent to the introduction of the drug, upon payment of a certain duty.

No stronger arguments could be advanced in favour of this step than
those already employed by Chinese writers themselves, in the various
memorials presented to government on the subject. Although the
opium-trade is not even alluded to in either of our recent treaties,
it is well known that Sir Henry Pottinger has used his best efforts to
induce the Chinese government to consent to the legalization of the
trade, and to introduce the article into the tariff. It is possible
that this object may be ultimately effected, but at present we have
no reason to believe that any material progress has been made towards
bringing this question to a satisfactory conclusion.

In the meantime, the opium-trade has never been more thriving than
during the past year, and bitter complaints have appeared in the Pekin
gazettes, of the introduction of the drug even into the imperial
palace. The emperor appears to be as hostile to the opium-mania as
ever, and yet all his measures against it are quite as ineffectual
as they have ever been. In fact, the people are determined to enjoy
the forbidden luxury at all hazards, and no means hitherto attempted
have deterred even the public officers of government from conniving at
the clandestine trade, nor is it likely that they will ever be proof
against the temptation of heavy bribes, which the large profits derived
from the traffic enable those concerned in it to offer.

Should the trade in opium become ultimately legalized, it cannot be
doubted that it would greatly tend to the advantage of Hong-Kong, and
would induce many Chinese merchants to come over and seek it there,
who would at the same time be tempted to make other purchases as well.
The drug would then in some measure be paid for in the produce of the
country, and not, as it is at present, in silver exclusively, and, in
fact, all the commercial relations of the country would at once be
placed upon a much more satisfactory footing.

There is, however, another point out of which difficulties may arise,
besides the one above mentioned--namely, the attempts of foreigners to
enter China at other places besides the five ports, or even, at these
latter, to push themselves beyond the limits indicated by the Chinese
authorities. According to our present understanding, certain boundaries
are to be laid down, beyond which no foreigners are to pass. But there
will be many difficulties in the way of preventing the violation
of these regulations. Already something of this kind has occurred,
and the interference of Sir Henry Pottinger had been called for. A
little pamphlet has even been published at Macao, called a "Narrative
of a recent visit to the Chief City of the department of Changchow,
in the Province of Fokien." In this case the aggressors were not
Englishmen, but Americans, and they forced their way into the country,
in opposition to the wishes and orders of the local authorities, who
pointed out to them that their doing so was contrary to the provisions
of the treaty. It is evident that they passed themselves off for
Englishmen, and were thought to be so by the authorities.

Sir Henry Pottinger thought it incumbent on him to advise the viceroy
and lieutenant-governor of Canton, that these individuals were not
Englishmen, and to express his hope that in future the local mandarins
would seize and confine all those who might commit the smallest
infraction of the treaty, (if British subjects) and send them to the
nearest English consular officer, to be dealt with as might be found
necessary, in order to enforce implicit obedience.

The last point to which I think it necessary to allude is the mutual
surrender of criminals, so that English offenders who may take refuge
in China may be given up to our consular officers by the Chinese
authorities, and Chinese offenders who may take refuge at Hong-Kong,
or on board our ships, may be given up to the Chinese officers. This
stipulation has already been acted upon at Hong-Kong, where a party of
pirates who were chased ashore by the Chinese government cruisers were
instantly seized by the police, and handed over to the proper Chinese

In fact, the more we reflect upon the position in which we now stand
in presence of the Chinese government, and in the actual possession
of an island upon its frontiers, the more we must become impressed
with the vast responsibility which attaches to all our proceedings,
and the great necessity which exists for the utmost caution, prudence,
judgment, and firmness on the part of every public officer employed in
our service in that country.

I have reserved all mention of the terrific storms to which Hong-Kong
is occasionally exposed during the summer season. Our squadron,
after its return from Canton, was exposed to the full fury of one
of these hurricanes, while it lay in the harbour previously to our
advance upon Amoy. The Chinese, although ignorant of the use of the
barometer, acquire from experience a tolerably accurate knowledge of
the indications which determine the approach of these dreaded typhoons.

Unfortunately, Victoria Bay, although completely land-locked, lies
fully exposed to the whole fury of the tempest from its beginning to
its end; there is no shelter whatever on that side of the island.
It is a curious and novel sight to watch the preparations which the
Chinese make for the approaching storm; the mixture of superstitious
observance and prudent precaution which they adopt, either in the
hope of averting the threatening tempest, or of securing themselves
against its immediate effects. The sultry, oppressive feeling of the
atmosphere, the deep black clouds, and other indications, warn them to
be prepared; and, from the noise and excitement which soon take place
among the Chinese, one would rather imagine they were celebrating some
festival of rejoicing than deprecating the fury of the gods. Many of
their houses, on these occasions, are decorated with lanterns stuck
upon long poles twenty or thirty feet high, huge grotesque-looking
figures, and various devices. The beating of gongs, the firing of
crackers, and explosion of little bamboo petards, from one end of the
town to the other, and in all the boats along the shore, create such a
din and confusion, that a stranger cannot help feeling that there must
be danger at hand, of some kind or other, besides that of a storm.

It is also a curious sight to watch the hundreds of boats and junks
getting under weigh at the same moment, all eager to get across to the
opposite shore, under shelter of the mainland, as fast as possible,
knowing full well that they would be certainly stranded if they
remained on the Hong-Kong side. In the high stern of every junk stands
a man, who perseveringly beats a large suspended gong with his utmost
strength, while the rest of the crew appear quite as intent upon firing
off crackers as upon the management of their boat. By this means they
hope to awaken their tutelary god, and to induce him to listen to their
prayers for succour. The greater part of them take refuge in a bay
directly opposite Victoria, from which it is about four miles distant,
under the lee of the mountains on that side.

Frequently all the threatening appearances which call forth these
preparations pass off without producing a typhoon. The flashes of
lightning are fearfully quick and brilliant; the peals of thunder
are almost deafening; the huge black clouds hang gloomily over the
mountains, or are banded across from one side to the other, pouring
their waters in torrents upon the basin between them. In this way the
storm at length subsides, and the horrors of a typhoon are averted.

The actual typhoon is of a very different description; in fact, it
differs in no respect from the worst hurricanes which visit the
Mauritius or the West Indies. Hong-Kong was visited in this way on the
21st and 26th of July, 1841, and a more severe typhoon than that which
took place on the first of those days is, perhaps, never experienced.
The theory of these circular storms has been well laid down by Colonel
Reid and others; so that in the present day a vessel caught in them at
sea would be much less exposed to danger than formerly, provided her
captain had made himself master of the well-confirmed theories which
have been propounded upon the subject. The sphere of their operation is
very limited, neither do they occur every year, but seldom oftener than
every three or four years.

At Hong-Kong, various ominous appearances were the forerunner of the
storm on the occasion alluded to. For some days previously, large
black masses of clouds appeared to settle upon the hills on either
side: the atmosphere was extremely sultry and oppressive; the most
vivid lightning shot incessantly along the dense, threatening clouds,
and looked the more brilliant because the phenomena were always most
remarkable at night, while during the day the threatening appearances
were moderated considerably, and sometimes almost entirely disappeared.
The vibrations of the mercury in the barometer were constant and
rapid; and, although it occasionally rose, still the improvement was
only temporary, and upon the average it continued to fall. A typhoon
was, therefore, confidently predicted, and the more so because none had
occurred for several years.

The Chinese, on this occasion, made every preparation in their power;
but that comprised very little except the everlasting firing of
crackers and beating of gongs, although they endeavoured also to get
shelter for their boats in the best way they could. Our own ships
prepared for the coming danger as well as circumstances permitted,
everything being made as snug as possible. But the whole harbour was
at this time crowded with transports, store-ships, and merchant-ships,
in addition to our men-of-war and steamers; indeed, so close were they
anchored together, that in many cases there was not even room to veer
cable. It was evident to all, that if the expected typhoon should burst
upon them, the most serious disasters would inevitably take place.

It was not without many misgivings and forebodings that, in the midst
of all the preparations for the storm, and when there was every
indication of its immediate outbreak, a small schooner was observed to
get under weigh, and stand out of the harbour towards Macao; she had
treasure on board, and one or two passengers. She was never afterwards
heard of; not a vestige of her was ever discovered; she must have
foundered at sea at the very commencement of the storm.

During the night of the 20th, the weather was tolerably calm, but
ominously sultry; towards daylight on the 21st, it became squally,
with heavy rain, and a good deal of swell was now getting up in the
harbour. The barometer continued gradually to fall, and the squalls
became heavier. The typhoon could no longer be doubted; and, as it was
desirable to move the Nemesis as much to windward of the other ships as
possible, steam was got up quickly, and with some difficulty she was
moved to a good berth on the opposite side, under shelter of the high
land above Cowloon. Topmasts were lowered, and everything made snug,
and she was brought up with both bowers, open hawse, to the N.E., and
veered to a whole cable on each.

Between seven and eight o'clock in the morning, the wind was blowing
very hard from the northward, or directly upon the shore of Hong-Kong,
and continued to increase in heavy squalls hour after hour. Ships were
already beginning to drive, and the work of destruction had commenced
on every side; the Chinese junks and boats were blown about in all
directions, and one of them was seen to founder with all hands on
board. The fine basin of Hong-Kong was gradually covered with scattered
wrecks of the war of elements; planks, spars, broken boats, and human
beings, clinging hopelessly for succour to every treacherous log, were
tossed about on every side; the wind howled and tore everything away
before it, literally sweeping the face of the waters.

On shore, the hospital was one of the first buildings blown down upon
the heads of the unfortunate inmates, wounding many, and aggravating
the sufferings of all; yet only one man, a helpless idiot, was killed.
The buildings being merely of temporary construction, most of them
partly built of bamboo, barracks and all came tumbling down like
children's card-houses.

From half-past ten until two the hurricane was at its highest, the
barometer at this time having descended to nearly 28.50 according to
some, but on board the Nemesis it was never lower than 28.89. The
air was filled with spray and salt, so that it was impossible to see
anything that was not almost close at hand. Ships were now drifting
foul of each other in all directions; masts were being cut away; and,
from the strength of the wind forcing the sea high upon the shore,
several ships were driven high and dry.

The native Chinese were all distracted, imploring their gods in vain
for help. Such an awful scene of destruction and ruin is rarely
witnessed; hundreds of Chinese were drowned, and occasionally a whole
family, children and all, floated past the ships, clinging, in apparent
apathy, (perhaps under the influence of opium,) to the last remnants of
their shattered boats, which soon tumbled to pieces, and left them to
their fate.

During the height of the typhoon, the engines of the Nemesis were
kept going at half speed, and she rode through it very easy, without
suffering any damage. But even those few vessels which did not drive
were in constant danger of being run foul of by others which did; in
fact, crowded as the bay was with shipping, it was a matter of wonder
that even more serious damage was not done than actually did occur.
The heaviest part of the typhoon appears certainly to have passed
directly over Hong-Kong, for even at Macao, which is only thirty-five
miles distant, it was much less severely felt, and, moreover, there
was a difference of nearly four hours in the time of its occurrence;
nevertheless, beyond Hong-Kong the typhoon was also very severely felt,
and several ships were in the greatest danger.

It is a remarkable fact, that both our plenipotentiaries, Captain
Elliot and Sir Gordon Bremer, (who has recently returned,) were
wrecked on this occasion, and were only saved, as it were, by a
miracle. They were on their way to Hong-Kong, in Captain Elliot's
cutter, the Louisa, when the typhoon, already commencing, compelled
them to anchor in not a very favourable berth, under one of the
numerous islands at the mouth of the Canton river. Every measure was
resorted to which good seamanship could suggest, to give any chance of
safety to the little vessel, but all in vain. She soon drove--her spars
and masts were carried away--a heavy, tumbling sea broke over her,
washing everything overboard--the destruction of the vessel, and the
loss of every one on board, seemed to be inevitable. Fragments of the
numerous wrecks along the coast were floating past them every moment.
Having been driven from the island under which they first took shelter,
they were carried before the wind for the distance of from two to
three miles, expecting every moment to be swallowed up; the commander
had been already washed overboard. At length they caught sight of
land right ahead, with a heavy surf breaking on it, apparently almost
close to them. The suspense at this moment was intense and awful. If
the vessel touched the surf, they would be launched into eternity in a
moment. But, providentially, the little cutter cleared the breakers,
almost within reach of their spray. The anchor was now let go, but
could not hold the little craft, so heavily did the sea break over her;
and at length she was driven full upon the shore, where she instantly
bilged and filled. Some people now jumped overboard, others crawled on
to the nearest rocks, but at length all hands got safely on shore, with
the assistance of a rope, which one of the boys who had succeeded in
swimming ashore made fast to one of the rocks.

Besides the plenipotentiaries, Lord Amelius Beauclerk and one or two
other gentlemen were partakers of these disasters. There is little
doubt that they all owed their preservation, under Providence, to
the admirable seamanship and cool presence of mind of Captain Elliot
himself, who took command of the little vessel during the most trying
period, and whose accurate knowledge of the coast was of essential

Their troubles, however, were not yet at an end. They managed to save
very little provisions or clothing from the wreck; and the only place
they could discover, in which they could shelter themselves for the
night, was a large fissure in the side of a precipice, open at the
top, with a small mountain-stream running through the centre of it.
There they anxiously awaited the dawn of morning, in a sitting posture,
(for they could not lie down,) and drenched to the skin. Soon after
daylight they discovered two Chinamen, who came down to pillage the
wreck; and several dead bodies of Chinamen were found cast up upon the
shore. After some hesitation and difficulty, a bargain was at length
made to convey Captain Elliot, for one thousand dollars, to Macao,
in a fishing-boat; but, shortly afterwards, another party of Chinese
fishermen, coming up from a neighbouring village, commenced robbing all
the shipwrecked people, stripping them of their clothes, and, among
other things, getting possession of a star of the Hanoverian Guelphic
Order. In a short time, the demand for conveying Captain Elliot to
Macao, as soon as the weather would permit, was raised to two thousand
dollars, which was agreed to.

Yet difficulties seemed to multiply hourly; for, at this juncture, some
of the Chinese, having found two or three bodies of their countrymen
lashed to spars, and dreadfully lacerated by being dashed against the
rocks until they were lifeless, took it for granted that this had been
done purposely by Captain Elliot and his party, and for some time their
threatening gestures and angry looks of retaliation seemed to portend
bloodshed. This was, however, at length averted; and, ultimately,
after agreeing to pay upwards of three thousand dollars, Captain
Elliot, Sir Gordon Bremer, and two other persons, were laid upon their
backs, in the bottom of a boat, and carefully covered over with mats.
Scarcely, however, had they fairly got away from the island, when
another misfortune threatened to consign them to the most bitter fate.
An armed mandarin-boat passed close by them, and hailed the Chinese
boatmen, asking for news about the wrecks. What a prize was at this
moment within their grasp! No less than twenty thousand dollars had
been already offered as a reward for the capture either of Captain
Elliot or Sir Gordon Bremer. Had the boatmen been treacherous enough to
betray their charge, (and Captain Elliot was personally known to them,)
what a grand display her Majesty's two plenipotentiaries would have
made in Pekin, carried about in bamboo cages, like wild beasts! What
proclamations and boastings! What promotions and rewards! But, happily,
this was not to be; and, in a few hours, the party landed safely in the
inner harbour of Macao; Captain Elliot having for his costume a jacket,
without any shirt; the commodore, a blue worsted frock; and each of
them a pair of striped trousers. To crown all, in this unhappy plight,
the moment the two high functionaries were recognised by the Portuguese
officer of the guard, the latter were ordered to "turn out," as a mark
of _respect_; but were soon induced to defer it until a more fitting

Boats were now sent off, without delay, together with an interpreter,
in order to rescue the other sufferers; and at last they all arrived
safely in Macao, on the 25th of July.

But it is time to return from this digression to the harbour of
Hong-Kong, just at the time when the height of the typhoon had passed
over. Towards noon the wind veered round a little to the southward
of east; at two P.M., it began to moderate; and at three P.M., its
severity had past. Before sunset, the haze began to clear off a little,
and gradually the scene of devastation became more and more visible,
and presented such a frightful spectacle, that you could hardly believe
that it was the same harbour of Hong-Kong, which had been recently so
gay and tranquil, with crowds of shipping upon the smooth surface of
its waters. The shore was covered with wrecks and stranded boats, and
the temporary buildings on shore had disappeared altogether.

Many of our ships were now found to be missing, having been driven out
to sea during the fury of the gale. Among the latter was H.M. schooner,
Starling, about which great apprehensions were entertained. It was
feared that she might have foundered, with all hands on board.

On the following morning, at daylight, the Nemesis was ordered to go
out and render assistance to any vessels in distress, and to bring off
people from the wrecks; and particularly to look out for the Starling,
in case she should have gone on shore upon any of the neighbouring
islands. In every direction immediate assistance was required, and many
poor fellows were rescued by the Nemesis from a watery grave.

It was curious to remark how completely every vessel that had gone
on shore was torn to pieces, and in so short a space of time; every
part of them was broken up, and the fragments were floating about the
harbour and lining the shores on every side, above high-water mark.
A number of artillerymen and sappers were taken off the wreck of one
of our prize war-junks which had gone on shore; and the whole crew of
the Prince George merchant ship were likewise saved from one of the
neighbouring islands upon which they had been wrecked; but the captain
of the vessel refused to leave the island, where he vainly persisted
in seeking for the body of his unfortunate wife, who was drowned when
first the vessel struck.

Not being able to gain any tidings of the Starling, the Nemesis
proceeded on through the Capsingmoon passage, towards Lintin, in the
hope that she might have taken refuge under that island. Fortunately,
she was now descried beating up gallantly through the passage towards
Hong-Kong, and, as soon as the steamer ran alongside, there was a
general cheer of congratulation. The tale was very soon told. During
the height of the typhoon, the Starling had parted a cable, and, as she
was now drifting fast, Captain Kellett at once slipped the other, in
the hope of being able to run through the Capsingmoon passage, as his
only chance of safety. With very great exertion and good seamanship, he
fortunately succeeded in the attempt, even in the midst of the typhoon,
and had even managed to lie-to and pick up some unfortunate Chinamen,
who were floating past him upon the wreck of their shattered junk. At
length, he succeeded in getting under the lee of the island of Lintin,
where he brought up with a common boat's anchor, having a couple of
guns fastened to the cable. By the aid of this contrivance, he rode out
the gale, until it moderated sufficiently for him to get under weigh,
and attempt to return to Hong-Kong. The Nemesis, however, now took
the Starling in tow, and great was the surprise and joy of every one
at Hong-Kong, when the two vessels were seen standing in together in

In this typhoon, H.M.S. Sulphur, Algerine, Royalist, and the schooner
Hebe, were dismasted; and at least twenty merchant vessels and
transports were either driven ashore or were dismasted, and suffered
other injuries.

Five days afterwards, on the 26th, there was a recurrence of the
typhoon, which the Nemesis rode out very easily in the Typa anchorage
at Macao; but it was not so severe as the first one, and comparatively
little injury was caused by it. There is reason to believe also, that,
had all the ships at Hong-Kong been moored in proper berths, and early
precautions taken, before the commencement of the first typhoon, the
danger and the damage inflicted would have been much less severe.

No time was lost in refitting the ships, and preparations were now
hastened for the advance of our forces upon Amoy, and for pushing on
our operations further northward, while the favourable season lasted.
Sir Gordon Bremer had returned from Calcutta, in the Queen steamer,
on the 18th of June, having been invested with the functions of
joint-plenipotentiary, in conjunction with Captain Elliot. This high
honour was, however, of short duration; for, on the 9th of August,
Sir Henry Pottinger arrived from England, _via_ Bombay, having been
appointed sole plenipotentiary and chief-superintendent of trade in
China: he was accompanied by Vice-Admiral Sir William Parker, by whom
all the subsequent naval operations were conducted.


At the end of July, the H.C. steamer Phlegethon, Lieut. M'Cleverty,
nearly the exact counterpart of the Nemesis, arrived at Hong-Kong,
bringing the intelligence that Captain Elliot's treaty of Chuenpee
had been disapproved of by the home government, and that Sir Henry
Pottinger had been appointed to succeed him, as sole plenipotentiary.
Shortly before this, also, her Majesty's 55th regiment had arrived from
Calcutta, and everything indicated that a movement upon Amoy would take
place as soon as possible, after the expected arrival of Sir Henry
Pottinger as plenipotentiary, and Sir William Parker as admiral. The
season for active operations was already advanced, and even for the
sake of the health of the troops, it was the anxious wish of all the
officers that a change of some sort or other might speedily take place.

In the afternoon of the 10th of August, the arrival of the H.C. steamer
Sesostris, from Bombay, in the Macao roads, was announced, and great
was the joy of every one when it was made known that both Sir Henry
Pottinger and Sir William Parker were on board. They had come from
London in the wonderfully short period of sixty-seven days, ten of
which had been spent in Bombay.

At daylight next morning, the Nemesis went out to convey these high
functionaries from the Sesostris, in the roads, to the town of Macao,
where they were received with every demonstration of respect, under
a salute from the Portuguese forts. A conference was held in the
course of the morning, between Captain Elliot and Sir Henry Pottinger,
together with the Admiral and Sir Hugh Gough. Energetic measures
appeared to be at once resolved on. Sir William Parker went over to
visit the fleet at Hong-Kong, and as soon as visits of ceremony had
been exchanged between the new plenipotentiary and the Portuguese
authorities, Sir Henry Pottinger lost no time in publishing the
notification of his appointment, as minister extraordinary and sole
plenipotentiary, and also as chief superintendent of trade in China.

In order to communicate officially to the Chinese authorities the fact
of his arrival, and the nature of his powers, Sir Henry now despatched
his secretary, Major Malcolm, to Canton, as the bearer of letters
to the provincial government. The Nemesis was, as usual, employed
to carry the officers up the river. No little sensation was created
among the Chinese officials by the announcement which was now made to
them. They therefore resolved to welcome the plenipotentiary with all
ceremony; and probably, also, in the hope of being able to form some
estimate of his character, they despatched the prefect of the city,
or kwang-chow-foo, on the 18th, to Macao, with a numerous retinue. He
landed at Macao, upon the Praya Grande, near the governor's palace,
attended by a great number of followers, and proceeded in state to
the residence of the plenipotentiary, thinking, no doubt, that he
was conferring a great honour upon his Excellency, and that he would
accordingly be received with every mark of distinction. Alas, how are
the mighty fallen! The ceremonious prefect was not even _received_.
He, who had hitherto been courted as an officer of distinction, and
had been the medium of communication, and in some sort the ambassador,
between the high Chinese authorities and Captain Elliot, was now
absolutely _rejected_. Sir Henry Pottinger, acting with an intimate
knowledge of the Oriental character, and fully impressed with the high
duties he was called upon to perform, and the high station he had to
maintain as her Majesty's representative, declined to receive or hold
any direct intercourse with an officer inferior to himself in rank
and responsibility, and still less with one of comparatively inferior
grade, such as the Prefect of Canton.

Major Malcolm, the secretary of legation, was, however, deputed to
receive the prefect; and, after a short interview, the would-be great
man withdrew, and returned in some dismay to Canton, to report the
circumstances to his superiors. The sensation created by this little
characteristic incident was very remarkable. It became the subject
of conversation in every quarter, and tended to awaken much greater
respect for the dignity of the new plenipotentiary. The same cautious
and dignified bearing was maintained with the greatest advantage
throughout the whole of our subsequent proceedings.

At Hong-Kong, the most active preparations were now being made for
the immediate departure of the expedition. Excellent arrangements
were introduced by Sir William Parker for the proper guidance of the
fleet, and especially for the distribution and management of the
numerous transports and store-ships. The advantage of this systematic
regularity soon became evident; and it is deserving of notice that,
from this period to the close of the war, the transport service was
conducted with the utmost regularity and efficiency, in spite of the
endless difficulties arising out of our imperfect knowledge of the
coast of China, and the inaccuracy of most of the charts. Add to this,
that owing to sickness and other causes, the transports were often
under-manned, and had frequently the most arduous duties to perform.

By a general order of the 19th of August, issued only nine days after
the arrival of the admiral, the fleet was directed to be ready to put
to sea at daylight on the 21st. It was to be formed in three divisions:
the centre commanded by Captain Herbert, in the Blenheim, assisted
by Commander Clarke, of the Columbine; the starboard division, under
Captain Bourchier, in the Blonde, assisted by Commander Gifford, in the
Cruiser; while the second, or port division, was placed under Captain
Smith, of the Druid, assisted by Commander Anson, of the Pylades.

The whole fleet consisted of thirty-six sail, including
transports--namely, two line-of-battle ships, the Wellesley and the
Blenheim; seven other ships of war--namely, the Modeste, Druid,
Columbine, Blonde, Pylades, Cruiser, and Algerine; the Rattlesnake
troop-ship, and the Bentinck surveying vessel; four steamers belonging
to the East India Company--namely, the Queen, Phlegethon, Nemesis, and
Sesostris; and twenty-one hired transports and store-ships, most of
them of large size, several of not less than a thousand tons burden.
The force stationed in the neighbourhood of the Canton river comprised
five or six vessels of war, including the Herald and Alligator, and was
under the command of Captain Nias, senior officer.

Early on the morning of the 21st, the fleet got under weigh. Sir Henry
Pottinger came over from Macao, in The Queen, on that day, just as the
fleet had sailed; and, as he stopped some time at Hong-Hong to inspect
the place, and examine the various arrangements which had already
been made, he did not join the admiral until the following day. The
general rendezvous, in case of separation, was to be Chapel Island, not
far from Amoy. The weather was extremely favourable during the whole
passage up, and, on the 25th, the whole squadron reached the outer
harbour of Amoy, having preserved the order of sailing remarkably well

The late plenipotentiaries, Captain Elliot and Sir Gordon Bremer,
sailed from Hong-Kong, and finally took leave of China, three days
after the departure of the expedition, on board the Atalanta steamer,
which had become completely knocked up by her work in the Canton river.
Their intention was to proceed as quickly as possible to England, by
way of Bombay.

The distance of Amoy from Hong-Kong is scarcely three hundred miles,
and there were many good grounds for making it the first point of
attack, as the expedition proceeded northward. It could not be doubted
that the capture of this flourishing commercial city would be seriously
felt by the Chinese government. The authorities had, within the last
twelve months, spent enormous sums of money and incredible labour in
the construction of batteries, which they deemed impregnable, and which
were certainly capable of being stoutly defended.

The harbour of Amoy is situated in the south-western corner of
an island of the same name, which, together with another called
Quemoy, occupies a considerable portion of a large bay, in which,
however, there are also numerous smaller islands. Of these, the
most interesting, in connexion with our present subject, is that of
Kolingsoo, which is separated from Amoy by a narrow passage, leading
directly up to the harbour. In fact, the possession of this island,
which we still retain, gives us the complete command of Amoy itself, or
rather of its town and suburbs.

The scenery within the bay and about the town of Amoy is exceedingly
picturesque, the appearance of the country being very mountainous and
striking. Several considerable rivers pour their waters into the bay,
and facilitate the communications with the interior of the country.
The superiority of the harbour much exceeded the expectations of the

The town of Amoy, although possessed of great commercial importance,
and very wealthy, is by no means a first-class city--it ranks,
indeed, only as a principal third-class town--but its inhabitants are
exceedingly enterprising and intelligent, and are remarkable for a
certain disposition for emigration and colonization, as well as for
their love of commerce. They were the principal colonizers of the
flourishing island of Formosa, which lies opposite Amoy, extending
itself along the coast for a distance of little less than two hundred
miles; and they are to be found in great numbers in more remote
islands, subject even to foreign dominion, such as Java, Singapore,
Manilla, &c.

The city and suburbs of Amoy can hardly be less than eight or ten
miles in circumference, and they are in a great degree commanded by
a fortified hill or citadel in the rear, which, however, is again
commanded (as is very commonly the case in China) by unfortified
heights beyond it to the eastward. The suburbs, or outer town, are
separated from the principal or inner town by a line of steep, rocky
hills, which run transversely down to the beach; but a paved road or
narrow causeway leads into the city, through a pass which is protected
by a covered gateway at its summit. As there is, therefore, what may
be called a double town, so is there also a sort of double harbour--the
outer one running along the face of the outer town, and the inner one
extending along the front of the principal town, and joining a large
estuary, which runs deep into the island across its centre, and skirts
the northern side of the city. In this manner, nearly two-thirds of the
city of Amoy are washed by the sea. In fact, it stands upon a corner or
tongue of land, having a line of bold mountains in its rear and on its
flank. The walls are castellated at top, and vary in height, according
to the nature of the ground, from twenty to thirty feet. There are
also, as in other places, four principal gates, having each an outwork
or outer wall, with a court or open space between them, and a second
gate leading from this, and placed at right angles to the inner one, so
that the approach to it from the outside is commanded by the principal
wall of the town.

The citadel of Amoy was afterwards found to contain a large supply
of military accoutrements--ginjals, matchlocks, swords, shields, and
spears of all kinds; there was also an immense quantity of gunpowder,
and materials for making it; in short, there was every reason to
believe that Amoy had been made use of as the great military depôt of
the province.

It is impossible to form even a tolerable estimate of the number of
troops collected for the defence of the place, but the different
accounts which were received varied from six thousand to eight or ten
thousand men. It was also known that the high officers of the province
had come down to Amoy purposely to encourage the defence, and to
witness, as they hoped, the utter discomfiture of the barbarians. It
was, however, upon their newly-constructed works that they placed their
great reliance.

Numerous forts and field-works had been erected upon nearly all the
smaller islands which stretch across the mouth of the great bay;
and upon the island of Amoy itself a succession of batteries and
field-works had been built to command the approach to the town. The
principal of these was a long stone battery, well built of granite,
_faced with earth_, extending along the shore nearly up to the suburbs
of the city, and designed to command the passage to the harbour. It
presented a line of guns a full mile in length, the embrasures being
covered with large slabs of stone protected by earth heaped upon them,
and mounting no less than ninety-six guns. In the rear of this battery
there was a range of steep, rocky heights, up the side of which the
Chinese had carried a strong castellated wall to serve as a flanking
defence to the battery.

Still further to defend the approaches to the city, they had also
strongly fortified the little island of Kolingsoo, between which and
Amoy the passage is not more than six hundred yards across; this island
is, in fact, the key of Amoy, and was retained in our possession when
the city and the island of Amoy were restored to the Chinese. At that
time the Chinese had already mounted upon the works, either completed
or in progress, no less than seventy-six guns. Indeed they had spared
no labour to endeavour to render Amoy capable of easy defence;
although, from want of skill and discipline, the resistance which they
offered was comparatively trifling. If the number of guns alone could
indicate the strength of a place, the Chinese might have had some
grounds for confidence; for, as Sir Hugh Gough remarked, "every island,
every projecting headland whence guns could be made to bear, was
occupied and strongly armed." In fact, there were altogether not less
than five hundred guns captured at Amoy and the adjacent islands.

Early on the morning of the 26th of August, everything was in readiness
for the projected attack. The captains and commanders repaired on board
the flag-ship for orders; the steamers were all smoking and blowing
off their spare steam, and the officers were all anxiously looking
for the expected signal to stand in and engage the batteries. Before
active operations commenced, however, it was thought right to make a
reconnoissance of the defences which were to be attacked. With this
view Sir Hugh Gough, Sir William Parker, and the plenipotentiary, stood
in on board the Phlegethon, and were able to approach sufficiently
close to the works to observe all that was necessary, without having a
single shot fired at them.

In the meantime a messenger, supposed to be a Chinese merchant, came
off from the town, under a flag of truce, requesting to know the
object of the visit of so large and formidable a squadron. The answer
to this question was simple enough, and was sent in the name of the
plenipotentiary, the general, and the admiral, to the effect that
"they required that the demands made last year at Tientsin, (near
Pekin,) by Captain Elliot, should be complied with; and that hostile
measures would, if necessary, be adopted to enforce them. Nevertheless,
that as the plenipotentiary and the commanders-in-chief were moved
by compassionate feelings, and were unwilling to cause the death of
so many officers and soldiers as must perish, they were willing to
allow all the officers and troops in the town to retire with their
personal arms and baggage, in order to save the people from being
hurt, upon condition that the town and fortifications of Amoy should
be at once delivered into the hands of the British forces, to be held
for the present by them." A white flag was to be exhibited from the
fortifications, if these terms were acceded to; otherwise, hostilities
would commence. As might be expected, the white flag was not displayed.

The morning was very hot and sultry; but about one o'clock a steady,
favourable breeze set in, and the squadron got under weigh. The plan
was, to make a simultaneous attack upon all the batteries at once, both
against those upon Amoy and those upon Kolingsoo. The troops were also
to be landed, with the object of taking the batteries in the rear; and
the Nemesis and Phlegethon steamers were to be employed to convey them
to the appointed place of debarkation.

The ships were likely to bear the chief brunt of the engagement;
but Sir Hugh Gough made every disposition for the employment of the
land forces, and his general order, issued just before the attack
was to take place, deserves especial notice. He directed his remarks
very strongly to the question of plundering; and observed, that "as
Amoy was a large commercial port, and there had once been an English
factory there, it was highly important that no act should be committed
which could tend to embarrass our future friendly intercourse. The
government and the military were to be overcome, and public property
taken possession of, under certain instructions, but _private property_
was to be held inviolable; and that which in England," observed the
general, "obtains the name of robbery, deserves no better name in
China." The camp followers were made liable to be _put to death_ for
plundering; and orders were issued to punish on the spot any man
straggling from his corps.

This alone will suffice to point out that the expedition was very
far from possessing that buccaneering character which some persons,
particularly foreigners, attempted to cast upon it. Indeed, it may
safely be asserted, that war was never carried on with so little
infliction of suffering upon the people generally as in China.
Generally speaking, the people soon learned to appreciate our motives;
and unless prevented by their _own officers_, they commonly shewed a
friendly, or at all events a neutral feeling towards us. Besides the
English, the privilege of trading at Amoy was formerly held by the
Spanish also; and, at no very remote period, a regular intercourse was
kept up between Amoy and the Spanish colony of Manilla.

It was probable that the nature of the country round Amoy would render
brigade movements inadmissible; but the troops were to be prepared to
form in three brigades, if necessary. The men were to land in jackets,
caps, and coats folded; and were to carry, each man, one day's cooked
provisions. The artillery were to be in readiness to land their light,
mountain guns.

About half-past one, the attack commenced on our side; but the Chinese
had already begun the engagement, by firing occasional shots at our
ships, as they proceeded with a steady and favourable breeze to their
respective stations. The Sesostris and Queen steamers led in; the
former commencing the action, but receiving a heavy fire before she
returned it. The line-of-battle ships, Wellesley and Blenheim, under
Captains Maitland and Herbert, proceeded to the extremity of the long
stone battery, nearest the suburbs, where they anchored by the stern,
about half-past two P.M., within four hundred yards of the works, and
at once opened a heavy fire upon the principal battery.

The next in order along the front of these works, from the suburbs
towards the outer extremity, were the Pylades, Columbine, Cruiser, and
Algerine. Simultaneously with this attack upon Amoy, the Blonde, Druid,
and Modeste, reached their allotted stations, against the works of
Kolingsoo; but, owing to the shallowness of the water, they were boldly
carried on, in little more than their own draught.

The roar of the artillery on every side, echoed by the mountains
around, was now terrific; and in one hour and twenty minutes the three
principal batteries on Kolingsoo were silenced, and the marines under
Captain Ellis, about one hundred and seventy in number, were landed on
that island, and took possession of the heights in the rear, without
any loss. Three companies of the 26th regiment had also been appointed
to this service, but the distance of the transports only permitted a
small detachment of them, under Major Johnstone, to land in time to
assist in clearing the batteries. The small detachment of the Royal
Artillery, under Lieut. the Hon. R. E. Spencer, were actively employed
on board the Blonde, during the attack.

While these operations were being carried on against the batteries on
Kolingsoo, and against the long battery on Amoy, the Phlegethon and
Nemesis were speedily brought up with the troops ready to land. The
Nemesis had taken on board the general and his staff, together with the
18th Royal Irish, under Colonel Adams; and had also to tow up a number
of boats, with the sappers and miners, followers, &c. Considerable
delay was therefore occasioned by having to run up to the different
transports to embark detachments, and also to pick up the boats;
and it was not until half-past three that the Nemesis could get into
action. She then opened fire at the long battery with her heavy guns
and rockets, as she approached the lower angle of the fort for the
purpose of landing the troops.

It was just about this time, that as the Phlegethon was also running
up towards the battery, a boat was despatched by Lieut. M'Cleverty,
in which Lieut. Crawford volunteered his services to capture a small
outwork upon a hill, very near the beach; and it was here that the
British flag was first displayed upon the enemy's works, on that day,
with three cheers from the steamers.

About a quarter before four, the general landed upon the beach, near
the flank of the great battery, with the 18th and 49th regiments,
which were carried in by the Nemesis and Phlegethon steamers. The
disembarkation was conducted by Commander Giffard, of the Cruiser.
The 18th was directed to escalade the castellated wall which flanked
the battery; and, as already described, ran up the hill-side from the
beach, nearly at right angles to it. At the same time, the 49th were to
move along the beach towards the lower angle of the battery, and either
get over it at its sea-face, or force their way through the embrasures.

A smart fire was kept up from the Nemesis, to cover the landing and
advance of the troops; and Capt. Hall himself, anxious to take an
active part in every operation, pushed off from the steamer, in the
pinnace manned and armed, accompanied by the unfortunate Mr. Gully,
who, as an old and brave friend, volunteered to go with him. This was
the same gentleman who afterwards fell a victim to the rapacity and
cruelty of the Chinese authorities on the island of Formosa, upon
which he had the misfortune to be wrecked, and, after seven months'
imprisonment and cruel treatment, was at length executed, together with
nearly all his companions.

As soon as Capt. Hall and his friend had landed with the pinnace's
crew, they joined the advanced guard of the 18th, under Major Tomlinson
and Lieut. Murray, who were advancing towards the lower end of the
castellated wall. The Chinese opened a smart fire of ginjals and
matchlocks as they approached, which was returned by the advancing
party, who took advantage of the numerous little hillocks and tombs
which lay in their way, to shelter themselves while they reloaded.

The Chinese, finding their enemy pressing up towards the wall, and
being already bewildered by the admirable firing of the ships, now
began to slacken their fire. The 18th rushed for the lower end of the
wall, while the party from the Nemesis made a dash at its flank, some
way higher up, near a gateway, where the wall appeared less elevated
and more accessible. They had, however, brought no scaling-ladders,
and, in order to get over the wall, the men were obliged to be lifted
up on each other's backs. In this way Captain Hall managed to get first
upon the top of the wall, and instantly waved the British flag (which
on such occasions he always carried with him in his pocket) in token
of triumph. Others soon followed; and the Chinese, the moment they saw
their enemies upon the walls, fired two or three random shots, and
fled. At this time also the 18th got over the wall lower down, while
the 49th forced their way through the embrasures, just at the angle of
the sea-face of the great battery. The fire of the ships had not yet
ceased, when the party from the Nemesis got down into the body of the
fort, and several of our large shot fell close around them.

A very short distance in advance they now observed that two Chinese
officers of high rank, mounted on horseback, were endeavouring to make
their escape, surrounded by a numerous body-guard, or retinue. The
opportunity for trying to take an important prisoner was a tempting
one; and Captain Hall, little thinking how few of his own men were near
him, and carried away by the impulse of the moment, rushed headlong
upon the Chinese soldiers in front of him, firing off his pistols at
the two principal officers. Only two of his own men were near him at
the moment; so that one of the inferior Chinese officers, seeing the
disparity, rallied a few of his men, and suddenly faced about, with
a view to cut them off. A personal encounter now took place with the
Chinese officer, who was a remarkably fine young man, bearing the
white button. The long sword, however, soon had the advantage over
the Chinese short one, even putting aside personal prowess, and the
mandarin fell severely wounded in the arm. He was immediately disarmed,
and his cap and button, together with his sword, were taken from him as
trophies. Several other soldiers now came up, to endeavour to rescue
their officer, who got up and tried to escape, but another wound in the
leg soon brought him down again, and made the other Chinamen halt.

By this time, Captain Hall and his two men were nearly surrounded, and
were compelled to fight their way back again towards their comrades,
who were coming up to their aid. One of the two seamen received a
severe wound in the groin from the thrust of a spear, but the others
got off without any injury. The young wounded mandarin was at last
safely carried off by his comrades.

The Chinese were now in full flight in every direction, followed by
the 18th, 49th, and a party of small-arm men, who were landed from the
Wellesley and Blenheim, some way up the sea-face of the fort, under
Commander Fletcher and other officers of those ships. The fort was
soon completely in our possession. During all the operations of this
day, Sir Henry Pottinger and suite were with the admiral on board the

On examining the sea-face of the battery, it was impossible not to
be struck with the amazing solidity of the wall. It was composed of
hewn granite, faced outside with earth, and of such strength, that the
heavy firing of two line-of-battle ships against it, at the distance
of only four hundred yards, had made very little impression; indeed,
it might be said to be shot-proof. The embrasures were something like
low port-holes, covered with stone and earth, and in the space between
them were sheds, or a sort of temporary watch-boxes, in which was found
a quantity of arms of every kind, clothes, half-cooked food, and also
_opium_, with the common pipes used for smoking it. A horse also was
found. The guns were many of them very ill-mounted, and in general the
carriages were badly contrived, and often defective. In some places you
saw bags of sand placed upon the top of the guns, to prevent them from
jumping out of the carriages altogether. The fort had evidently been
armed hastily.

Several high Chinese officers fell during this day; some probably
by their own hands. One of them very quietly rushed into the water
and drowned himself, although, in the report of the affair to the
emperor, it was afterwards stated that he "rushed on to drive back the
assailants as they landed, and _fell into the water_ and died." This
officer was the Chinese commodore, who commanded in the absence of the
_admiral_. This officer had left the port just before our arrival,
(boasting that he was going to _meet_ the barbarians,) and, having
sailed northward, could not get back again, owing to the contrary wind.

Before five o'clock, the whole of the outer defences of Amoy were in
our possession. The Blonde and Modeste, as soon as they had silenced
the batteries on Kolingsoo, with the assistance of the Druid, had
pushed on into the inner harbour, and captured twenty-six war-junks,
mounting not less than one hundred and twenty-eight guns; they were
nearly ready for sea, but were deserted by their crews. A large
building-yard was discovered, with an immense quantity of timber
collected in it; and there was a good-sized frigate-junk, of about
three hundred tons, in course of building, in a regular dry dock,
something after the European model; they had evidently made a great
step in advance in the art of ship-building; indeed, the longer the war
lasted, the more the Chinese found themselves led on, by the "impulse
of necessity," to attempt great changes, and, in many respects,
improvements, not only in their vessels, but in their warlike weapons,
and other matters relating to the art of defence.

The Nemesis, in running along the shore to avoid the swell which was
setting in, unexpectedly found herself within a circular patch of
coral rock, which was not visible above the surface. Several fruitless
attempts were made to extricate her from this curious position, but the
entrance by which she had got into it could not again be found; but her
draught of water being very small, it was thought likely she would be
able to force her way over the reef without suffering much damage to
her iron hull, and she dashed at it at half speed. The blow, however,
was more severe than was expected; the vessel bounded completely over
the reef; but the sharp coral rock cut completely through her bottom,
making a considerable leak in the engine-room. This was fortunately
stopped from the _inside_ without much difficulty, and no further
notice was taken of it until some time afterwards, when she arrived at
Chusan, where the damage was substantially repaired.

In the meantime, Sir Hugh Gough pushed on without delay, to occupy a
chain of steep, rocky hills, which, running transversely down to the
beach, lay between the great fort and the town, so as to intercept
the view of the latter. A strong body of the Chinese seemed disposed
to defend this position, which was naturally of great strength, and
completely commanded the approach to the city. Immediate advantage was
to be taken of the prevailing panic; and the 18th and 49th regiments
being directed to advance partly up a steep gorge, and partly by a more
circuitous road leading round the hills, soon made themselves masters
of the heights overlooking the city. The Chinese retreated before them
as soon as they had fired off their guns and matchlocks. Our troops
bivouacked for the night upon the positions they occupied; but they
might have been a good deal harassed by the Chinese, if the latter
had taken advantage of the rocky, broken character of the ground, to
dispute their further advance. The night was bitterly cold upon the

At daylight a reconnoissance was made, and it was soon discovered that
little resistance was to be expected. Great confusion and bustle were
apparent in all directions; hundreds of the inhabitants were hurrying
out of the northern gate, carrying with them their most valuable
property; in fact, there was evidently a general panic. Without loss
of time, therefore, the 18th, supported by the 49th, were ordered to
march down towards the city in the direction of the eastern gate, which
was the nearest, while Captain Cotton, the commanding engineer, was
directed to examine carefully the approaches to the gate itself.

The advanced party of the 18th, on arriving at the gate, found that
there was no preparation for resistance, and soon scaled the walls by
means of some ladders which were very opportunely found not far from
the gate. Heaps of rubbish, and sacks full of earth and sand, were
found piled up inside against the gate, so that some time was required
to get it open. It was now discovered that the authorities and all
the soldiers had abandoned the town, leaving everything in the utmost
disorder, so that the only protection which the more respectable and
peaceably-inclined inhabitants had to look for, from the violence and
plundering of _their own rabble_, was from the presence of our own
troops, and the military government of the city by the victorious
captors. Already the mob had begun to ransack some of the public
establishments before we found out where they were situated; and it
was afterwards discovered that a good deal of treasure must have been
carried away by the thieves and vagabonds of the town. A number of men
were found carrying out of the gates something having the appearance
of common logs of wood; and it was not suspected, until too late, that
these logs were hollowed out, and filled with Sycee silver, a very
ingenious contrivance to escape detection. A small quantity of treasure
was found in one of the large buildings, supposed to be the office of
the commandant, which was occupied by the sappers and miners.

Most of the public offices were large and roomy buildings, affording
good accommodation for a whole regiment of soldiers. The pile of
buildings belonging to the admiral's department was assigned to the
18th and the staff, being within the walled town; while the 49th were
quartered in the outer town, in a large building belonging to the
office of the Intendant of Circuit. The 55th occupied an extensive
range of buildings belonging to the Prefect of Amoy; the artillery
retaining possession of a commanding position overlooking both the city
and the outer town.

Late in the day, and also on the following morning, Sir Henry Pottinger
and Sir William Parker landed, to take a view of the town; but, after
visiting the principal buildings, they returned on board ship.

Numerous patrols were found necessary, by day and night, in order to
preserve quiet in the public streets, and to check the boldness and
rapacity of the swarms of Chinese thieves and rogues, who hovered about
like a raging pestilence in every part of the city, and crowded in
from the country the moment the respectable inhabitants left the town.
The inhabitants themselves were, in many instances, afraid even to
defend their own property, or to aid our troops in restoring order and
regularity; they dreaded the probable imputation of having traitorously
aided the foreigners, and the fear of extortion and punishment from
their own authorities, at some future period, served to disorganize
the whole community. In vain did Sir Hugh Gough appeal to the more
respectable merchants and householders to aid him in protecting
property; all that he could get from them was empty promises, of which
they were very liberal, but from which no good result followed. Even
within the citadel, or walled town, it was with the utmost difficulty
that the daring thieves and vagabonds could be kept in check; and
hardly could even a single Chinaman be induced to point out to the
guards at the gate the real _bonâ fide_ owners of houses or property,
in order that they might be allowed free egress and ingress.

The injury which the inhabitants of many Chinese towns suffered during
our operations must not be estimated by the actual damage (generally
trifling) done by our fire, or by the presence of our troops. In most
instances, even before hostilities commenced, the presence of the
_Chinese troops_, who were marched in probably from several distant
provinces, became almost a scourge to the inhabitants; and afterwards,
when a town was taken, and the local government disorganized, much
greater damage was done to the property of the people by the low mob of
plunderers, than would, under any circumstances, have been allowed by
our own victorious soldiers; indeed, some instances occurred in which
the former were shot by our guards, rather than desist from their evil

Our men often resisted temptations of no ordinary kind; houses were
found abandoned, property left unprotected, shops open, and goods
strewed about; and even the abominable spirit, samshu, (distilled
from rice,) was sometimes almost purposely placed in their way.
The instances of misconduct were few, even under these peculiar

Among other discoveries was one calculated to corroborate at first
sight the notion of the prevalence of infanticide among the Chinese. In
a large tank near a public building, by some supposed to have been an
hospital, were found the dead bodies of several young infants which
had been drowned, having been thrown in, sewn up in pieces of mat. But
there was nothing to determine whether the horrid deed was done out
of fear that violence might be offered to the women and children, or
whether it was really an instance of the practice of infanticide, which
has been said to prevail in China to a much greater extent than it
really does. The former explanation may possibly in this instance, as
in some later ones, be the true one.

The interior of the island of Amoy was not occupied, or even examined,
for it was feared by the general that the presence of our troops would
so much alarm the respectable and influential inhabitants, that the
whole place would be given up to the rapacity and lawlessness of the
innumerable miscreants who watched for every opportunity of letting
loose all their bad propensities; but the Nemesis, accompanied by the
Algerine, and having in tow the launch and pinnace of the Blonde, was
ordered to steam round the island, and search for war-junks. None,
however, were found.

The island of Kolingsoo appeared so completely to command the harbour
and approach to Amoy, that the occupation of that position only was
calculated to answer every good purpose, without the necessity for the
retention of Amoy.

It was the opinion of Sir Henry Pottinger, in which the general and the
admiral perfectly coincided, that no measures should be taken for the
permanent occupation of the city, and that a small garrison only should
be left at Kolingsoo, while the remainder of the expedition should move
further northward with the least possible delay. It was necessary,
however, to wait a day or two for favourable winds, and measures
were taken for the destruction of the numerous works which had been
constructed upon the outer islands.

The Nemesis was employed on this important service on the 30th and
31st. Having been joined by two launches and other boats, with a party
of seamen and marines from the Wellesley, Blenheim, and Druid, under
Commander Fletcher, she proceeded to destroy some forts and guns,
principally on the south-west side of the bay, all of which had been
abandoned by the Chinese. On this occasion, five forts or field-works
and forty-two guns were taken possession of and destroyed, and on
the following day several others of the same description were also
disabled. A body of Chinese soldiers, who shewed themselves near a
small fort on the island of Quemoy, at the eastern entrance of the bay,
were dispersed, and several guns, matchlocks, ginjals, &c., together
with a quantity of gunpowder, were destroyed. Altogether seventy-seven
guns and four forts were destroyed in this day's work, and the admiral
publicly spoke of the "very commendable zeal" which had been displayed.

At Amoy, for the first time, the so-called tiger soldiers shewed
themselves--that is, men dressed up in yellow-coloured clothes, with
black spots or stripes upon them, and a covering for the head, intended
to be a rude representation of a tiger's head, supposed to look very
fierce, and to strike terror into the minds of the enemy.

The island of Kolingsoo, which had been retained in our possession
ever since its capture, deserves a few remarks. It is about a mile and
a half in length, and about three quarters of a mile broad, but is
very irregular in its shape. It principally consists of rocky broken
ground, the greater part of which is barren, but interspersed with
unwholesome rice-grounds, which have contributed to render the place
extremely unhealthy; indeed at one period the mortality among the
troops stationed there was dreadful, scarcely even a single officer
having escaped sickness, which proved fatal to many. The Chinese,
however, seemed to have suffered little from it, for there were several
neat and even elegant country-houses upon the island, ornamented with
handsome carved wood-work, &c. It seemed to have been used as a place
of retirement for some of the wealthier citizens of Amoy, and our
retention of a place so conveniently situated for giving us the command
of the harbour and trade of the city was a source of great annoyance,
both to the authorities and to the inhabitants.

For a considerable time, very little communication was kept up with the
town, and it was scarcely safe to venture into it; but since the peace,
every disposition has been shewn to receive us in a friendly manner,
and the knowledge which many of the Chinese merchants have acquired
of our character and habits, by trading with Singapore, will tend
materially to facilitate our future commercial intercourse.

Several American missionaries have resided at Kolingsoo, and without
doubt will, at no distant period, succeed in winning the attention and
good-will of many of the inhabitants of Amoy. A boundless field has at
length been opened for missionary enterprise in the benighted empire
of China; for, although it cannot be said that the country has been
made completely accessible to the foreigner, still the hostility of the
government has been materially modified.

It rests with the Christian nations to profit _as Christians_, by the
opportunities which cannot fail to offer. Among a people so fond
of reading and _thinking_, and so given to study and inquiry as the
Chinese generally are, the best possible results are to be expected
from the judicious teaching of Christianity, and, above all, of
Christian _practices_. If China is really to be opened, it is to be
effected by missionary enterprise cautiously and judiciously, and,
above all, not too hastily applied.

The most valuable of all aids to these undertakings, is that of
medical knowledge, which may be considered as almost indispensable to
the proper character of a missionary in China. The relief of bodily
suffering (above all, in a country where the medical art is so low as
it is in China) softens the feelings of our nature, and paves the way
for kinder influences over the mind itself. It will open the family
mansion of the most secluded and prejudiced Chinese, when words or
doctrines _first_ propounded would meet an unwilling or perhaps a
hostile listener. Religious teaching and the practice of the healing
art, the comfort of the suffering mind, and the solace of the tortured
body, must go hand in hand in effecting the good work of "opening"

Why is it that the Americans have taken precedence of the English in
this great and glorious work, since the commencement of the war in
particular? For many years, a talented medical missionary, Dr. Parker,
has dispensed his double blessing upon the Chinese at Canton, and can
testify the gratitude of the people, from the highest to the lowest,
and the readiness with which they have accepted his counsel and his
teaching in both capacities. At Macao, Hong-Kong, Kolingsoo, and
Chusan, the Americans have alike preceded us.

There is, however, one great and fatal error to be avoided; and that
is, the rivalry of religious sects among each other, and the attempt
to gain followers at the expense of each other's tenets. It was this
want of unanimity which in some measure produced the decline of the
influence of Roman-catholic missionaries in China.

The garrison which was left by Sir Hugh Gough upon the island of
Kolingsoo consisted of three companies of the 26th regiment, with a
wing of the 18th, and a small detachment of artillery, comprising
altogether about five hundred and fifty men; the whole under the
command of Major Johnstone, of the 26th; and the Druid, with the
Pylades and Algerine, were also to remain there, under the command
of Captain Smith, C.B., as a further support, to ensure the complete
command of the harbour of Amoy.

The number of troops employed during the operations against Amoy was as

                                                        Officers. Men.

    Artillery, European and Native, Captain Knowles           9   240
    18th Regiment Royal Irish, Lieutenant Colonel Adams      30   648
    26th Regiment (Cameronians), Major Johnstone              8   153
    49th Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Morris                 24   460
    55th Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Craigie                26   731
    Madras Sappers and Miners                                 6   184
                                                   Total    103  2416

Four native officers, and serjeants and drummers, are included in the
second column.[56]

In the afternoon of the 4th of September, the weather having become
calm and fine, the preconcerted signal for the embarkation of the
troops from the town and island of Amoy was made on board the
flag-ship. Upon this sudden order, the troops were paraded in perfect
regularity, without a single instance of drunkenness or misconduct,
after eight days of harassing duty on shore, amid temptations of
every kind. Under the direction of Commander Giffard, of the Cruiser,
the whole force was embarked without any accident, by half-past six
o'clock, on board the Nemesis and other steamers, which conveyed
them out to their respective transports, in readiness to sail on the
following day. Not even a camp-follower was left behind (and they are
generally a very troublesome class); but, in order to make sure that
there was no straggler, the Nemesis was afterwards sent in again to
the town to bring off any one that might accidentally have been left.
But the only straggler which was found, happened to be a fine _fat
bullock_, which was soon put on board the Nemesis and carried off.

Every preparation was now completed for the departure of our forces on
the following morning, the 5th of September.


[56] List of H.M. ships and vessels, and of the Honourable Company's
steam-vessels, in action at Amoy, 26th of August, 1841.

    Wellesley (flag)         72   Captain T. Maitland.
    Blenheim                 72   Captain T. Herbert.
    Blonde                   44   Captain T. Bourchier.
    Druid                    44   Captain H. Smith.
    Modeste                  18   Captain H. Eyres.
    Cruiser                  16   Commander Giffard.
    Pylades                  18   Commander Anson.
    Columbine                16   Commander Clarke.
    Bentinck                 10   Lieutenant R. Collinson.
    Algerine                 10   Lieutenant T. Mason.
    Sesostris steamer         4   Commander Ormsby, I.N.
    Phlegethon steamer        4   Lieutenant M'Cleverty, R.N.
    Nemesis steamer           4   Mr. W. H. Hall, R.N.
    Queen steamer             4   Mr. W. Warden, R.N.


All those persons who have visited Amoy, either out of curiosity or
on matters of business, appear to agree with each other in regarding
it as a place peculiarly adapted for the extension of European trade.
The mercantile spirit and enterprise of its inhabitants, and their
anxious desire to trade with foreigners, when not held back by the
arbitrary orders of the mandarins, have been long known and recorded
by several travellers, before there was any prospect whatever of the
trade being opened. Mr. Gutzlaff observed respecting it, in the account
of his voyage along the coast--"Its excellent harbour has made it from
time immemorial one of the greatest emporiums of the empire, and one
of the most important markets of Asia. Vessels can sail close up to
the houses, load and unload with the greatest facility, have shelter
from all winds, and in entering or leaving the port, experience no
danger of getting ashore. The whole adjacent country being sterile, the
inhabitants were forced to seek some means of subsistence elsewhere.
Endowed with an enterprising spirit, and unwearied in the pursuit of
gain, they visited all parts of the Chinese empire, gradually became
bold sailors, and settled as merchants all along the coast. Thus they
colonized Formosa, which, from that period to this, has been their
granary, and visited and settled in the Indian archipelago, Cochin
China, and Siam. A population constantly overflowing, demanded constant
resources for their subsistence, and this they found in colonization;
and thus they spread themselves all along the coast of China, up to
Mantchou Tartary. As soon as the colonists amass sufficient money, they
return home, which they leave again when all is spent." Elsewhere he
says, "Many of these merchants, settled in the northern parts of China,
return annually with their profits. It is not surprising, therefore,
that a large amount of Chinese shipping belongs to Amoy merchants, and
that the greater part of the capital employed in the coasting trade
is their property. Hence, even this barren tract is become one of the
richest in China, from the enterprise of its inhabitants. Wherever
the people go they are rarely found in a state of abject poverty; on
the contrary, they are often wealthy, and command the trade of whole
islands and provinces, as well by their capital as by their superior
enterprise and industry."

The English, who had formerly a factory at Amoy, were compelled to
relinquish the trade by the severe extortions to which they were
subject. The Dutch continued it for a longer time, but neglected it
when their influence at Formosa ceased. The natives of Amoy have always
shewn themselves ready to cultivate the friendship of foreigners,
wherever they have been, and in their dealings they have a character
for honesty beyond all other Chinese. They are more ambitious of
successful mercantile enterprise than of literary distinction or
advancement, which is generally so dear to a Chinaman.

The shops of Amoy are generally well supplied with the necessaries and
luxuries of life, the merchants are civil, and although the town is
neither handsome nor very cleanly, and the population in some parts
of it are densely crowded together, still there are many fine houses,
which indicate the possession of wealth and consequence.

An immense trade is carried on between Amoy and the island of Formosa,
to which a great number of emigrants are even still attracted from the
province of Fokien. Before the occupation of Hong-Kong was thought
of, several proposals were made for forming a British settlement upon
Formosa, as being conveniently situated for extending our trade with
the inhabitants, not only of the adjacent district of Fokien, but of
the whole coast of China. This suggestion was partly encouraged by the
recollection of the settlement which the Dutch once possessed upon the
island; but it seemed to be forgotten that the Dutch were at length
forcibly expelled, and that the population having greatly increased
since that period, it is not likely that we should be suffered to
retain possession of any part of the island without being constantly
harassed and provoked to bloodshed; moreover, the privilege of trading
with Amoy does away with all probability of advantage to be derived by
direct trade with Formosa.

Among other proposals, that of a settlement upon the Bonin islands
(which are said already to belong to Great Britain) was suggested, with
a view to commercial enterprise with China; and Mr. Tradescant Lay
warmly supported this notion. These islands were taken possession of
by Captain Beechey, of H.M.S. Blossom, in 1827, and they extend from
latitude 27°, 44', to 26°, 30' N., being about five days' sail from the
Lew-Chew islands, and three from Japan. In the course of a few years,
it is not improbable that Port St. George, the principal harbour, may
be resorted to, with the object of pushing our trade even into Japan
itself. At the present moment, indeed, several Englishmen and other
Europeans are settled there, and are principally concerned in the whale
fishery. There are also a good many natives of the Sandwich Islands at
Port St. George. The islands are volcanic, but are rendered productive
with moderate cultivation.

It is worth while here to mention that the Bonin Islands and the
Sandwich Islands lie directly in the line of future intercourse between
China and the west coast of America, and that it has been thought not
improbable that a new route to China may some day be opened, by way of
California and the islands above-named.

To return from this digression to the island of Formosa, which has
claimed our particular interest since the massacre of so many of
our shipwrecked countrymen by the authorities, shortly before the
termination of the late war. In this horrible tragedy no less than two
hundred and eighty-three human beings were put to death in cold blood,
without any other crime than that of helplessness, and without any
other object than that of obtaining rewards by fabricated statements,
and honours by false pretences. Formosa was the last conquest of the
present Tartar dynasty, and even since it has been brought under
Chinese dominion, the rebellions and disturbances of its unruly
inhabitants have been a frequent source of alarm to the government. The
imperial troops have been frequently defeated with great slaughter, and
peace is said to have been purchased by bribes more frequently than it
has been won by conquest. The aboriginal inhabitants are still numerous
in the mountain districts, and along some parts of the eastern shores,
but they, are said to be much oppressed by the Chinese colonists, and
also by the authorities.

When the Tartars first began the conquest of China, great numbers
of discontented spirits went over to Formosa from the neighbouring
provinces, and it has been recorded that one hundred thousand people
took refuge there. The island belongs to the province of Fokien, along
which it is situated at a distance varying from seventy to one hundred
and twenty miles, the passage between it and the mainland being called
the Formosa Channel. The length of this island is about two hundred and
twenty miles, but the breadth of it is extremely irregular. The Chinese
population is at present supposed to amount to about _two millions_,
and is constantly on the increase, by the accession of an influx of
emigrants from the mainland adjoining. They are attracted thither by
the fertility of the soil, and the great facilities for cultivating
sugar and rice, which are there grown to an extent sufficient to supply
a vast quantity of these necessary articles to the inhabitants of the
mainland, and to employ several hundred trading junks in the traffic.

It is worthy of remark, that the Dutch contrived to establish
themselves upon the island of Formosa, and ultimately to form a
factory there, before the Tartar conquest, and before it was regularly
colonized by the Chinese. The Japanese also partly contributed,
though in small numbers, to colonize the island. The Dutch had a
small garrison at a place called Tanshuy, or Tamsui, at the northern
extremity of the island, and another at Kelung, not very for from
it. Their object was to make use of their settlement as a depôt, or
centre of trade, from which their operations could be extended along
the coast of China and Japan. Their influence was, however, of very
short continuance, as they were ultimately completely driven out of
the island, after some few struggles, by the famous pirate, Coxinga,
in 1662, about thirty or forty years after they had fairly established
themselves on it.

The present capital of the island is built upon the site of the
principal Dutch factory of former times, and is called Ty-wan-foo;
it is upon the west coast, some distance down towards its southern
end. The harbour has, however, become almost inaccessible, except to
vessels of very light draught of water, owing to the accumulation of
sand, which is thought to frequently change its place. Indeed, the sea
has gradually continued to retire from many parts of the coast, and
harbours which were once frequented are at present inaccessible.

From the time of the expulsion of the Dutch, to the period of our
operations upon the coast of China, little seems to have been known or
heard of Formosa; and, owing to the jealousy of the Chinese, and other
causes, no attempt seems to have been made to explore the island. The
colonists are described as being generally very turbulent and given to
violence, as it has become a place of refuge for all the bad characters
who can manage to escape from the mainland; but it is also the home of
many respectable and enterprising settlers; although, being removed
from the control of the superior officers of the province, they live
with less restraint, and therefore readily become bold and lawless.
For the same reason, the local mandarins are cruel, rapacious, and
ignorant; and their behaviour towards our unfortunate countrymen will
suffice to stamp them with the character of treachery and thorough
baseness. But the cultivation and prosperity of the island have
increased in a rapid and remarkable manner; and it is evident that
British manufactures will soon be spread among its numerous population,
through their intimate connexion with Amoy.

Besides furnishing immense supplies of rice, Formosa also produces
great quantities of sugar, camphor, and tobacco, which are exported to
Amoy. A great part of the camphor is already carried down to Singapore
in the trading junks from Amoy, but probably our own trading vessels
will henceforth procure supplies of it on the spot, in exchange for
cotton and other manufactured articles.

Unruly as the people of Formosa are, the island is, nevertheless,
somewhat famous for its schools, which are said to be in a flourishing
condition. Mr. Gutzlaff states, that the rich men of Fokien frequently
send their sons over to obtain literary degrees at Formosa; and the
Dutch, at an early period, took pains to spread Christianity among the
inhabitants, who, at that time, were comparatively few in number. A
few books on Christianity were translated by them into the Formosan
language, and they were very successful in making converts. Since they
abandoned the island, however, nearly all traces of their early labours
have disappeared.

The close connexion of Formosa with Amoy will probably be the means
of reviving amongst the inhabitants some of the lost spirit of
Christianity; for we cannot doubt that, in all parts of China, the
increase of missionary labour will keep pace with the increase of
commercial intercourse.

The wreck of the Nerbudda transport, on her way up to join the
expedition with camp-followers, in the month of September, 1841, soon
after our forces left Amoy, and the loss of the brig Ann, a trading
vessel, on her way down to Macao, from Chusan, in the month of March
following, upon the shores of Formosa, served to attract unusual
attention towards that island, and to put us in possession of some
little information respecting the interior.

The history and ultimate fate of our shipwrecked countrymen is
calculated to awaken the most painful interest. On board the Nerbudda
there were altogether two hundred and seventy-four people; of whom,
twenty-nine were Europeans, two natives of Manilla, and two hundred
and forty-three natives of India. The captain and the rest of the
Europeans, with the two Manilla men, and only three Indians, got
away in the ship's boats immediately after she struck, and were
providentially picked up some days afterwards by a trading schooner,
called the Black Swan, on her way down to Hong-Kong. The unfortunate
Indians, to the number of two hundred and forty, who were left upon
the wreck, after remaining by her for five days, managed to construct
rafts, upon which they attempted to reach the shore. Many of them,
however, perished in the surf, and others are supposed to have been
murdered by the Chinese plunderers. The exact number, therefore, who
fell into the hands of the Chinese authorities, and were imprisoned
and subjected to the greatest privations, cannot be ascertained; but
they were thought to amount, according to the best information which
could be obtained, to more than a hundred and fifty.

On board the brig Ann there were in all fifty-seven souls; of whom,
fourteen were natives of Europe or America, four Portuguese, five
Chinamen, and thirty-four natives of India. Out of all those who were
taken prisoners, belonging to both vessels, only nine ultimately
escaped an untimely fate, and were restored at the end of the war,
according to the terms of the treaty.

The following account of what befel the unfortunate sufferers on board
the Ann will apply, with little variation, to those who were wrecked
before them, in the Nerbudda. It is extracted and condensed from a
curious journal, kept by one of the sufferers, a fine young man, who
was a passenger on board. It was found concealed in his cell, after his
unfortunate fate, and cannot but awaken feelings of deep commiseration
for all his companions in distress.[57] It was written upon common
Chinese paper, with a piece of bamboo, and the account was continued to
within five or six days of the time when the final tragedy is supposed
to have taken place. It was written day by day, as the various little
occurrences took place, and some of the observations casually made upon
the appearance of the island will be read with great interest; but I
have thought proper to omit the minutiæ and repetition of abrupt and
hasty notes, which would have been tedious and of little benefit.

It will here be proper to mention, that prompt redress and "_condign_"
punishment upon the heads of those high officers, whose false and
pitiless misrepresentations occasioned the final catastrophe, has
since been demanded, in firm and dignified terms, by her Majesty's
plenipotentiary; and one of the conditions insisted on was, "that the
property of the high authorities of the island, who were perfidiously
concerned in the affair, should be confiscated, and the amount paid
over to the officers of the British government, to be applied to the
relief and support of the families of the innocent men who suffered."

By the orders of the Emperor, a strict investigation has been made into
all the circumstances connected with the dreadful event; and a report
has been sent up to Pekin, by the Viceroy of Fokien, condemnatory of
the misrepresentation and duplicity of the authorities of Formosa.

The whole of the fifty-seven individuals who were on board the Ann
quitted the wreck at daylight; and, having marched along the shore
about two miles, they fell in with two junks, lying wind-bound in a
small river or creek. They hoped to be able to put to sea, and stretch
across to Amoy; but the gale continued so violent that it prevented
them from getting out of the creek. They were not ill-treated by
the Chinese junkmen, but, as they were without food of any kind,
and exposed to a cold, cutting wind, it was soon evident that they
must surrender themselves to the Chinese authorities. Soldiers soon
gathered round them in crowds; and, as they had very little ammunition,
any attempt to defend themselves, which might have caused the death
of some of the soldiers, or of the mob, would certainly have been
followed by the massacre of the whole party. In the afternoon, they all
gave themselves up, without having fired a single shot, and without
attempting to make any kind of resistance. They were immediately
stripped and marched away, exposed to the most cutting wind and sleet,
without any covering, their feet cut by the sharp shells with which
the beach was covered, and with very little allowance of food. It
is not surprising, therefore, that two men soon died from fatigue
and exposure, and several others fell from sheer exhaustion, and
were obliged to be carried along in baskets; others were afterwards
carried in sedans, more for sake of security than from any feeling of
compassion for them. It was remarked, that during the whole journey of
thirteen or fourteen days, to the capital of the island, the lascars or
Indian sailors shewed a great deal of bad and selfish behaviour towards
each other. Each man of the party had a ticket fastened round his neck,
stating what he was, and whence he was brought; being treated in this
respect like public criminals. For a great length of time their food
was only salt fish and greens, with sometimes rice. They suffered all
sorts of abuse and indignities in every town and village through which
they passed; but it is remarked, "that the women (who did not appear to
be at all secluded) did not join in this, although they exhibited the
usual curiosity of the sex." They were observed throughout the whole
journey to be very plain, but they had a pretty fashion of dressing
their hair, by weaving natural flowers amongst it.[58]

After the first two or three days, they came to a considerable walled
town, where they were placed for the night in two cells, _about eight
feet by seven feet_, in which twenty-five unfortunate beings were
stowed, with nothing to lie upon, the weather being intensely cold.
Three guards were placed over them. The rest of the party were taken
by a different route, but they all ultimately reached the capital. One
large town they came to was enclosed, as were some others, by a high,
red brick wall. It was situated in a large paddy swamp or valley,
interspersed here and there with small hamlets, around which the
bamboo plantations were growing in great beauty and luxuriance, and of
extraordinary height, many of them measuring upwards of sixty feet.
In some of the smaller towns and villages, the so-called gates (for
they all had them) were constructed of bamboo. The country appeared
well cultivated in many parts, and _wheat_ and sugar-cane were met
with; but other parts of the country were very barren, and covered
with large stones, such as are called "boulders," in some parts of
England. Generally, the men were made to wear handcuffs, but they were
not of great strength, for some of the party managed to break them off;
and they were then carried along in chairs, under a strong guard of
soldiers, but were occasionally allowed to walk. Wherever they went,
the crowd and annoyance of the hosts of curious gazers, who frequently
insulted them, was so great that it was a relief to get lodged in the
common gaol, which was divided into several cells, each cell having
cages in it, made of wooden bars, just like the dens of wild beasts.
The cells were also provided with a regular pair of stocks, in order to
afford greater security, if required. One of the cells was filled with
Chinese prisoners.

The great object of the mandarins now appeared to be, to get some of
the party to admit that the Ann was a man-of-war, sent to look after
the crew of the Nerbudda, who were known to be still upon the island.
With this view, two of the men were mercilessly beaten, but without the
desired effect. So common and so public a practice did opium-smoking
appear to be, that even the soldiers who acted as an escort carried
their opium-pipes in their girdles. For the first twelve days, the
prisoners were never allowed to wash even their faces, and at length
they could only do it in a dirty pool by the road side. For the last
four days before they reached the capital, called Ty-wan-foo, they
were compelled to wear leg-irons as well as handcuffs. Generally, they
were allowed to purchase their own food during the journey; for which
purpose a little money was given to them, at the rate of one mace, or
about fivepence, a day. But this was only after the first few days.

It was remarked that wheel-carts were in common use in the island,
and tracks of them were seen in all directions. On the mainland of
China these are unknown, except in the neighbourhood of Pekin; but,
in the island of Hainan, to the southward of Canton, they are very
common, and similar in construction to those in use upon Formosa.
They are, however, very clumsy and inconvenient; the wheels, which
are small, being composed of two semicircular pieces of solid wood,
joined together, with the axle _fixed_ into the wheel itself, so as to
revolve _with_ it, and not within it, but made to turn round under the
body of the cart. The roads or causeways are generally broader than
upon the mainland, and were in many places shaded with bamboos on each
side. Several rivers were crossed near the capital, and the country was
somewhat improved in appearance.

About twenty miles from Ty-wan-foo they passed a night in a large
town, with walls built of chunam; at the entrance of which were
placed several very long guns, not mounted on carriages, but fixed
upon the ground, rather to indicate their good intentions than their
ability to perform them. Here again they were lodged in the common
gaol; and, on the following morning, the Chinese servant who had been
taken prisoner with them had a chain put round his neck, in addition
to his leg-irons and handcuffs. The next night (the last before they
entered the capital) was spent at an inn by the road-side, which was
so crowded with travellers that scarcely any food could be procured.
The Chinese had regular fights and scrambles for the little which was
to be had, and their appetites appeared by no means delicate; but,
whether their hunger was appeased or not, they were all prepared in the
evening to enjoy in good earnest the luxury of the opium-pipe, soldiers
and travellers all alike; nor did the two mandarins who were present
interfere in any manner to point out its impropriety.

On the 24th March, (fourteenth day since the wreck,) they were destined
to make their wretched entrance into the capital. At the distance of
six or seven miles from it, they were met by an officer and a few
soldiers, by whom their names and their numbers were called over,
according to a list which the officer held in his hand, and they were
then separated into smaller parties, and led by different routes into
the city. As they approached the gate, they, for the first time, caught
a glimpse of the sea, with a few junks at anchor at a distance,
towards which they hopelessly strained their longing eyes. The walls
of the city appeared to be in a state of dilapidation, except near
the gateway, where they had been recently repaired and whitewashed.
The prisoners were now fairly within the capital of Formosa, and were
conducted to an open space, planted thickly with trees, but broken
up by rough watercourses, over which there were several bridges of
stone. Thence they were led through back lanes, avoiding the principal
streets, to the house of a high mandarin, in front of which they halted
for a short time; and such was the pressure of the crowd and the
curiosity of the people, that the chairs in which they had been brought
were nearly pulled to pieces before they were ordered to get out and
enter the outer gateway of the mandarin's house.

Here they were drawn up in line, to have the tickets round their
necks copied; but before the process could be half finished, the
pressure of the crowd became so great that the mandarins were obliged
to discontinue the task. A ludicrous scene followed, which, for the
moment, afforded amusement even to the prisoners themselves. The
enraged mandarins charged the mob in great fury, and whipped them with
their _long tails_, which, having silk woven on to the ends, gave some
tolerable cuts to the people's faces. For a few minutes our hapless
prisoners were put for refuge into a small temple which was close at
hand; but even here the mob pressed so hard upon them that the door
was nearly smashed in; and, as a last resource, they were marched off,
with heavy irons on their legs, which bruised them at every step, to
a prison in the courtyard of a superior mandarin's house, about one
hundred yards distant. Here their treatment was very bad; for several
successive days they were brought up before the mandarin to answer an
infinity of questions, many of them very puerile, about the names,
ages, and duties of every one on board the Ann; also about geography
and the possessions of Great Britain, and where the poppy was grown;
how money was raised, &c. &c. The Chinese carpenter of the vessel acted
as interpreter; and, on one occasion, both he and the other Chinaman
were severely flogged with bamboos.

After some time, those who could draw were allowed to sketch ships,
carriages, and other things, which exceedingly amused the Chinese, who
were glad to purchase them; so that by these means they were able to
procure food and tobacco, and thus to diminish in some degree their
chances of being carried off by starvation or sickness.

After the lapse of a week or two, fever broke out, and they were then
separated into smaller parties, and put into different cells or
prisons, some faring better, some worse, according to the temper or
caprice, or even roguery, of the particular jailer who chanced to have
charge of them. One of these wretches seems to have been a perfect
fiend of his class; he kept one party of _ten_ miserable human beings
in a den so small that not one of them could lie down at night. It
will scarcely be believed that they were made to exist for _two whole
months_ in this horrid black hole, only _eleven feet six inches long,
by seven feet six inches wide_; grudging each other every little inch
of room, and longing even for the little bit of space which the single
insensible bucket, which was the only piece of furniture, occupied in
their den. Here were ten human beings stowed away together, some sick,
some sore, and all in pain and misery. For some time they were not
permitted to come out of the den at all, but at last they were let out
once a day, and were allowed a very little water to wash themselves;
only two or three, however, could wash themselves on the same day, so
that the whole of them could only be able to wash themselves once in
three days. Of course, they were dreadfully infected with vermin of
every kind, and, as the author of the journal expresses it, "A few
weeks have sufficed to bring me down from a strong hale man, to a
wretched helpless being, disgusted with myself."

Many attempts were made to get a note sent across to Amoy, to give
information of their situation; and the promise of one hundred dollars
on its safe delivery, and one hundred more on bringing an answer back,
(to be paid at Amoy,) sufficed to induce a tolerable trusty Chinaman
to undertake the task. We shall see presently how far it succeeded.
It has before been stated that the several parties fared differently,
according to the humanity or rapacity of the particular jailer.
Something also depended upon the particular mandarin under whose
supervision they were placed, but it is noticed that the highest, or
red-button mandarin, was the best of all, and frequently ordered some
of the hardships they complained of to be remedied, particularly as
regarded the quality of the food.

On the other hand, it is stated, that one of the jailers, who was
humane enough to allow his party of prisoners _to be shaved_, was taken
before a mandarin and punished with fifty strokes of the bamboo; after
which, no visitors were allowed to see them at all, and the jailer
became very sulky, except when he was drunk, which he generally was,
by the use of opium, every evening. Sometimes they were taken out
of prison in order to draw for the mandarins, at others, to undergo
repeated examinations for their amusement. In the first instance,
however, the object invariably was, to betray them into an admission,
however remote, that the vessel was really a man-of-war. But it was
quite evident that they knew perfectly well that she was not so, and at
length the red-button mandarin put an end to this part of the business.
From this time, their questions were more of a general nature, but many
of them were exceedingly absurd. The mention of Sir Henry Pottinger's
name (for they appeared already to have heard of him) invariably made
them angry, and on one occasion they inquired whether he was a _white_
or a _black_ man. They also inquired a good deal about the Queen, her
court, and ministers, mode of life, &c., and how many husbands she was
allowed to have; expressing great astonishment when they learned that
in Europe kings and queens, as well as private individuals, had only
one wife or husband; and then they proceeded to enumerate the virtues
of their own emperor, and to plume themselves upon their own cleverness.

On one occasion, they asked whether America had not, some time or
other, been situated _in_ England? whether a man could _now_ walk
from London to America in a week? how large London was, and how many
outside (foreign) nations are subject or tributary to England? Endless
were their curious questions, and on one occasion they exhibited an
officer's jacket, and a corporal's coat with the 55th button on it,
and particularly inquired the use of an epaulette, which they held up,
fancying it was intended to be worn on the head.

During the first half of the month of May, it rained incessantly, and
they were very imperfectly protected from its effects. In fact, the
rain always beat through their roof, and when it was heavy, or long
continued, it flooded their den: the least bit of dry plank, or a
partially sheltered corner, was matter of envy and contention; and, as
may be supposed, they not only suffered from bad food, confinement,
vermin, and ill-health, but were incessantly tormented with the
most venomous mosquitoes, producing inflammation and sores. In this
condition they were kept in the most harassing state of suspense; one
day being assured that they would be sent away in a month; another,
that they had no chance of liberty for six months; and the very next,
perhaps, that their heads would soon be taken off.

Fortunately, the talent for drawing possessed by Mr. Gully and Captain
Denham, served to gain for them friends and pacify enemies.

In this way, month after month continued to drag its slow length
along. At the end of about three months' close confinement, a slight
change for the better took place; they were moved into rather better
quarters, where they were only three together, so that they had more
room to breathe; they were also allowed water to wash themselves, and
a little money was given to them. It was thought that this arose in
consequence of information received by the authorities that there was
some chance of an attack being made upon this island, by our forces at
Amoy, with a view to liberate the prisoners. It was now ascertained,
also, that the fisherman who had promised to carry over the letter
to Amoy, two months before, had succeeded in his attempt, and an
answer had been brought back by him, which held out the prospect of
speedy release. Another letter was also sent off to Amoy; so that now
at length their hopes again revived. But sickness had already begun
its work, and their minds were so depressed that even the boldest,
who tried to bear up bravely to the last, recorded his feelings that
"One miserable day passed after another, with nothing to help them to
break in upon the wretchedness of their existence; no exercise being
permitted, and nothing, in fact, to relieve the dreadful monotony of
such prison life." And what _was_ the little improvement in their lot,
which resulted from their removal into other cells? "We now, (three
of us,") said he, "have five planks with a mat upon them to sleep on,
and glad we are to get into this new place, which is the Executioners
Den, and which, until we had ourselves cleaned it, could never have
been cleaned since it was built." On other occasions it is noted, "we
_scalded_ our clothes this morning, to kill the vermin."

It was thought that the day they were removed into this new berth must
have been the Emperor's birthday, or some day of rejoicing, for they
had at the same time a dinner of roast pork, with sweet cakes, and each
man received one mace, or fivepence in money. But this was too good
to last--a mere freak of fortune! Generally speaking, their food was
so bad, that a great part of it was thrown away, and it was only by
quarrelling with the jailers, and threatening to complain to the high
mandarin, that they could succeed in procuring any eatable food at all.

In the month of June, several shocks of an earthquake were felt,
followed by terrific storms of thunder and lightning. It is due to the
better class of mandarins to remark, that when complaints were made to
them, they procured some temporary improvement for the prisoners.

On the 4th of July, it was made known that honours and rewards had been
largely conferred upon the mandarins, for having contrived to make
so many prisoners. This was in answer to their false accounts of the
business to the Emperor, in which they said that they had attacked and
destroyed two English men-of-war which came prying into the coast, and
had taken all the people prisoners, enumerating the number of black,
and _red_, and white barbarians, and the quantity of barbarian guns.

On the 10th of July, Mr. Gully, who had necessarily been ailing for
some time, became seriously ill with dysentery, brought on in a great
measure by eating large quantities of mangoes. The Chinese recommended
him two cures for it; one was, to eat the skins of the mangoes _alone_;
the other, to eat opium. The former he found to have a good effect,
at least so far that his complaint improved under the treatment; the
latter he was able to purchase at a moderate price from the visitors,
who brought it on purpose for him; it was different from the extract
which is used for smoking, and apparently much less powerful.

The same mandarin who had given them a treat upon the Emperor's
birthday all along shewed more interest in their condition than any
of the others; and one day, in the hope of inducing him to give them
some kind of indulgence, they told him that it was the birthday of
the Queen of England's eldest child, and that they all entertained so
strong a feeling of "filial obedience" and affection towards their
queen, that they wished to celebrate the event. To their great surprise
and delight, the mandarin's heart was moved by this appeal, and he
gave each of them money; to some five mace, to others three, (equal
to about two shillings,) and then sent them a good dinner, and made
himself quite agreeable; and, of course, all the inferior officers,
including the jailers, took their tone for the day from their superior.
On another occasion, the lascars were all brought up before the chief
mandarin, having had new clothes first given to them, and he himself
then presented each of them with a fan!

All these circumstances naturally tended to revive their hopes, and
little did they dream of the horrible catastrophe which was soon to
take place. Towards the end of July they were informed, that in the
course of half a moon more an answer would be received from Pekin,
containing the Emperor's commands as to what was to be done with the
prisoners; and they were warned that, if his majesty ordered that they
should be decapitated, it would immediately be carried into effect.
From this it would seem that the authorities fully anticipated that
the representations which they had made would induce the Emperor to
issue such a cruel command; but the prisoners themselves still retained
sufficient hope to induce them to disbelieve the probability of such a
tragedy. With the exception of Captain Denham (whose life was saved)
and the Chinese carpenter, it does not appear that any of them were
tortured; but the dreadful cries of some of the Chinese prisoners could
be distinctly heard; and two poor fellows were seen passing by with
their hands _blackened_, having been condemned to have them chopped off.

One remark is worth recording--namely, that the mandarins, from the
highest to the lowest, as well as all their servants and attendants,
were in the constant habit of smoking opium. Tobacco was also in
general use, as elsewhere in China, and was extensively cultivated on
the island. There was also noticed (what should have been mentioned
before) a curious vine-like plant, grown upon trellis-work, and
frequently observed to be carefully covered up with mats; what it was
no one knew, but more care and attention seemed to be bestowed upon it
than upon anything else which was seen upon the island.

The final tragedy is believed to have taken place upon the 12th or 13th
of August, and is too horrible to dwell upon. They were beheaded with
the sword.

It is difficult to account for their having reserved nine individuals
from the general massacre. Of these, six were Europeans or Americans,
and three natives of India. It is supposed that they were retained in
order to be sent to Pekin, to be there cut in pieces. Fortunately, the
treaty of peace saved their lives, and they were at length conveyed to
Amoy, and there met with all the attention they so much needed from
their own countrymen.


[57] The information in the text was extracted from the manuscript,
more than a year ago, in China. But the journals of Mr. Gully and
Captain Denham have been recently published in full, in this country.

[58] Probably the women at Formosa are much less numerous, compared
with the men, than in most other places. The men come over from the
mainland, but do not bring their women. It is believed that infanticide
of _female_ children is very prevalent at Amoy. The men are driven
by poverty to emigrate, and have no means of providing for female
children, who are therefore frequently smothered or drowned.


On leaving the bay of Amoy, on the 5th of September, the appointed
places for the rendezvous of the fleet of men-of-war and transports,
in case of separation, were successively the so-called Buffalo's Nose,
at the entrance of the Chusan group; Keeto Point, a promontory running
out from the mainland towards Chusan; and, lastly, the bay or harbour
of Tinghai, the capital of Chusan. The progress of the squadron was
slow for some days, owing to light winds and a heavy swell; and the
Nemesis, being very light in the water, and having, moreover, a leak
in her bottom, (after the accident at Amoy,) was kept pretty close in
shore, to avoid the swell outside, but seldom entirely lost sight
of the fleet. A considerable quantity of floating wood was picked up
alongshore, which was very acceptable for fuel, of which she had only a
very small supply remaining on board.

On the 13th, eight days after leaving Amoy, the north-east monsoon
set in rather suddenly, and somewhat earlier than usual, with heavy
squalls and a thick fog, which caused the unavoidable separation of
the squadron. At the commencement of this change of weather, the
Nemesis lost her fore-top-mast and top-gallant-mast, but continued her
course leisurely alongshore until the following day, when she came to
anchor under a small island at the mouth of the river Taitchou, about
thirty-five miles from Sheipoo, and between fifty and sixty from the
Buffalo's Nose.

On the 16th, Capt. Hall landed upon the island above mentioned, under
which he had taken shelter, with a party of men, to look for wood,
which was much needed for fuel, and also for refreshments for the crew,
and then took the opportunity of ascending a high hill, to take a
survey of the neighbouring country. The haze cleared off sufficiently
to enable him to discover the entrance to an extensive harbour, which
proved to be that of Sheipoo, where there is a considerable trading
town. He thought that he could also make out something like the
appearance of batteries or field-works at the entrance.

The Nemesis now stood in for the entrance of the harbour, which was
very narrow, but fortunately, she soon fell in with a fishing-boat, in
which were several fishermen busy about their nets, one of whom was
made to come on board and pilot the vessel into the harbour; and he
was promised ten dollars for his services if he took her in without
any accident; but, if she touched ground, he was threatened to be
immediately run up to the yard-arm. The poor fellow had never even
_seen_ a steamer or devil-ship before, and was not a little alarmed.
But he perfectly understood the conditions, and gradually recovered his

The tide swept so rapidly into the narrow entrance of the harbour, that
the Nemesis was fairly carried through the passage before the two small
field-works, which were intended to protect it, could bring a single
gun to bear upon the vessel; but the Chinese were seen running down
from their little encampment above, to man the guns.

At the bottom of the harbour or basin, the town now came into full
view, with a large number of trading-junks of every kind, moored in
lines close to each other on one side of the town; while on the other,
or the left, as you looked towards it, there was a small fort, which
appeared to have been recently repaired and strengthened, but, like
most other Chinese forts, was left almost unprotected in the rear.

Upon a rising ground behind the fort, a small body of troops, about
five or six hundred in number, were drawn up, so that the Chinese
were evidently prepared for defence. The Nemesis immediately ran in
towards the fort, and took up a flanking position, anchoring by the
stern between it and the town, so as to bring her guns to bear with
the greatest advantage, without exposing herself to the direct fire
of the fort. Shot, shell, and canister, were now poured in, and the
fort was soon silenced. But the troops could now be seen descending
from the hill behind, and bringing heavy ginjals with them, mounted on
triangular stands, as if they intended to oppose a landing. However, a
few discharges of grape-shot threw them into great disorder, killing
many of them; Capt. Hall then landed, at the head of all the men who
could be spared from the ship, accompanied by Mr. Gully, and took
possession of the fort, the Chinese flying before them; four guns, two
brass and two iron ones, were destroyed in the fort, the temporary
sheds and buildings were set on fire, and water was poured into the
magazine to destroy the powder.

The whole party having now returned on board, boats were sent out,
manned and armed, to search for fuel, and also to attempt to capture
three large war-junks, which had been seen on the way up the harbour.
All the trading-junks were left unmolested; but wood for fuel was so
much needed on board, that several of the wood-junks were soon picked
out, well filled with the necessary article. The opportunity was
extremely fortunate, and in a short time, no less than seven boat-loads
of excellent wood were obtained, amounting in all to about seventy
tons. Much labour was required to bring off so large a quantity, and to
stow it away expeditiously; nevertheless, during this operation, one
of the war-junks was captured, (the crew having deserted her,) and,
as soon as she was towed clear of the town and shipping, so as not to
cause any unnecessary damage, she was set on fire in the middle of the
harbour, and shortly blew up. Two guns, together with a quantity of
ginjals, matchlocks, swords, &c., were destroyed in her.

But the day's work was not finished yet. About two o'clock the cutters
were sent away, manned and armed, under Mr. Galbraith, to destroy the
other two war-junks which had been seen in the morning. One of them
blew up close in shore, but the other was towed out into the middle
of the harbour, before she was set on fire. One was found to mount
fourteen guns, and contained a large quantity of powder, with numerous
warlike implements of various kinds.

The whole of this day's work was exceedingly interesting. The hills
which surrounded the harbour were covered with people, who crowded out
of the town, and from all the neighbouring villages, to witness the
exploits of the "devil-ship," the rapidity of whose movements, the
precision of her fire, and the volumes of smoke and steam which issued
from her, seemed to awaken feelings of awe and mute astonishment, even
more than fear. There they stood for hours, apparently unconcerned
spectators of passing events; and as they saw the destruction of
the war-junks, while the merchant-junks remained uninjured, they
appeared satisfied that no mischief was threatened against the unarmed
inhabitants so long as they did not interfere. The neighbourhood
of the town along the shore was laid out in very neatly cultivated
gardens, and everything bore indications of a thriving and well-ordered

The day was now far advanced, and it only remained to capture the two
forts or field-works upon the island, just within the mouth of the
harbour. A shot or two had previously been fired at them in the course
of the morning, but it was now determined to take possession of them,
and destroy the works. On nearing them, a few shells and rockets were
discharged into them, and the boats then put off, manned and armed,
under Capt. Hall. The Chinese had only just abandoned them. The two
field-works were very near each other, and were found to mount nine
guns, which were spiked, their carriages destroyed, and the tents of
the soldiers were set on fire.

The poor Chinese fisherman who had acted as pilot was of course
liberated as soon as the harbour was cleared, and he appeared no less
astonished than overjoyed when the promised ten dollars were counted
out into his hands.

On the following day, the 18th, the Nemesis reached the appointed
rendezvous at Buffalo's Nose, and found the Sesostris was the only
vessel which had preceded her, the rest of the fleet having been kept
back by contrary winds and hazy weather. When we remember what a large
number of hired transports and store-ships passed up and down along
the coast of China from this time to the close of the war, many of
which had frequently a great part of their crew sick, we cannot but be
surprised[59] that so few accidents happened. The inaccuracy of the
surveys of the coast which had been then made; the wrong position on
the charts of most of the numerous islands which stand out as bulwarks
at very uncertain distances from the shore; the strength and unknown
irregularities of the currents, and the heavy squalls which frequently
burst suddenly over that part of China, rendered the navigation
precarious, and frequently caused the utmost anxiety. Occasionally the
captains found themselves inside of islands when they believed that
they were some distance outside; and I well remember, on one occasion,
making the voyage up to Chusan in a fast-sailing brig-of-war, which
just weathered a long rocky island, called the Alligator, and at noon
discovered it to have been laid down upon the chart full twenty miles
wrong in its latitude--an error which can scarcely be accounted for.

The strength of the currents among the Chusan islands, and the
continued boisterous weather, made it difficult to collect all the
transports at the appointed rendezvous. The admiral did not get up
until the 21st; and the general being on board a large transport which
had been carried far down to leeward, did not join until the evening of
the 25th.

In the meantime, the Nemesis had gone to join the Phlegethon at Keeto
Point, where the sad tale was learned of one of the officers of the
Lyra, (an opium vessel,) Mr. Wainwright, and one of the crew having
been enticed on shore, under the pretence of selling them stock, and
of their having been then overpowered and cruelly murdered. This event
occurred very near the village where Captain Stead had been murdered
some months before. Lieutenant M'Cleverty soon afterwards landed with
his crew, accompanied by Lieutenant Crawford and the commanders of the
Lyra and Ann, and soon put to flight a party of Chinese soldiers, burnt
their barracks, and then destroyed a great part of the village.

As soon as the Nemesis arrived, no time was lost in landing to examine
the adjacent country, which was very picturesque and beautifully
cultivated. But the recollection of the cruel fate of the poor fellows
who had been so recently captured, and, as was believed, barbarously
put to death there, with the sight of the very spots where the sad
occurrences took place, awakened feelings of bitterness, and a wish for
retaliation which it was impossible to suppress. In a very short time,
everything that remained undestroyed was set on fire, including various
buildings, stacks of rice and grass, &c.; and as darkness set in, the
whole valley appeared lighted up with the blaze of the spreading fires.

At length all the transports were assembled, according to a
preconcerted arrangement, just off the little island called "Just in
the Way;" as it was the original plan laid down by the general and the
admiral to occupy Ningpo, after having first captured the heights of
Chinhae, which command the entrance of the Tahea river, which leads up
to Ningpo. Chusan was to have been retaken afterwards. The boisterous
state of the weather, however, prevented the ships from approaching
near enough to Chinhae to carry out this part of the plan; and it was
therefore determined to make an immediate reconnoissance of the harbour
and defences of Chusan, or rather of its capital town, Tinghai; this
was accordingly carried into execution on the following day, the 26th
of September.

The admiral and general, together with the plenipotentiary and suite,
embarked early in the morning on board the Phlegethon, the Nemesis
being ordered to accompany them. As they approached Chusan, the alarm
was given by the Chinese from numerous watch-towers, or rather signal
stations erected upon the hills, or upon the tops of the several
islands which lie in the immediate neighbourhood. Great changes had
evidently taken place since our forces left Chusan, a few months
before; and preparations of an extensive kind had been rapidly made for
the defence of the place. As the steamers entered the principal harbour
by its western side, between the so-called Tea Island and Guard Island,
the Chinese opened a few guns at them, but at too great a distance to
do any damage; and as there was no wish to attack them in a desultory
manner, the steamers were ordered to keep at a good distance, but to
direct their movements so as to get a complete view of all the Chinese

The rapidity of the tides, in the different channels leading into the
harbour, is so great that large vessels sometimes become perfectly
unmanageable; and even powerful steamers found it difficult to stem the

Nothing can be more striking or picturesque than the views on every
side, as you approach Chusan; you are here particularly struck with
the garden-like aspect of every spot of ground you see. The country is
hilly on all sides, but every hill is cultivated with extreme care,
up to its very summit. It is divided into small ridges, or beds, in
which various productions are raised, side by side, giving the greatest
possible variety to the aspect of the country, and pointing out the
vast labour and perseverance with which the tillage must be conducted.
It is entirely spade husbandry, and ought rather to be called

In the low valleys, and little sheltered nooks, you trace villages and
farm-houses of neat appearance; and every bend of the coast, every
little bit of low, swampy ground, is embanked and recovered from the
sea by long, thick, stone walls, which are maintained with the utmost
care. Behind these, the ground is laid out in rice-fields, irrigated
with much ingenuity, and there is a general appearance of well-being
and industry, which indicates a thriving and contented population.
Generally speaking, the island of Chusan, with some of the smaller
ones adjacent to it, may be considered as among the most picturesque
and fertile spots in the north of China, as far as it was visited by
the expedition, and the loss of this possession was deeply felt by the
Emperor, of which, as he said, "he read the account with fast falling

The great and rapidly completed preparations which were found to have
been made for the protection of the island prove the importance with
which it was regarded.

The city of Tinghai, the capital of Chusan, is a walled town, of the
third class, about two miles in circumference, having four entrances,
with double-arched gateways, situated at right angles to each other,
according to the usual Chinese practice. The greater part of the
town is surrounded by a wet ditch or canal, which adds very much to
the natural unhealthiness caused by imperfect drainage, (owing to
the lowness of its situation,) and by the swampy rice-grounds, which
occupy the whole valley. Indeed, were it not protected by a raised
bank running along the face of the harbour, from which the city is
three-quarters of a mile distant, the whole of the valley in which the
town is situated would frequently be flooded. It was upon this raised
bank that the great line of sea battery, presently to be described, had
been recently erected. A narrow causeway and a shallow canal connect
the city with a village, at which is the principal landing-place of the
harbour, situated at the foot of a steep, conical hill, which stands
about the centre of the whole sea-face of the valley or plain, which
may be about three miles broad. The latter is bounded by steep hills
on either side, which stretch down close to the city, and command the
western face of the walls.

The hill at the landing-place, which came to be known by the name
of Pagoda Hill, is a very striking object from every point of the
harbour. The appearance of a temple upon it, and several small detached
buildings, which had been recently built as prisons for the English,
whom the Chinese _intended_ to capture, and the steepness of its
summit, gave it an appearance of strength which it did not possess.

Directly opposite Pagoda Hill are two small islands, called Trumball
and Macclesfield Islands, which bound the harbour on the eastern side,
and upon the nearest of these a mortar-battery was afterwards erected,
for the purpose of shelling Pagoda Hill.

To the southward the harbour is shut in by the highly cultivated and
considerable island called Tea Island; while on its western side, at
the extremity of the long sea-battery, lies the small island called
Guard Island, only separated by a very narrow passage called the
Devil's Gates, from the hills which overlook the valley.

As the two steamers now entered the inner harbour by the western
passage, leaving Guard Island on the left, they immediately came in
sight of a long line of continuous works, constructed of mud, along the
top of the whole line of embankment before described. It is strange
that such a mode of defence should have been adopted; for the flank
of the battery was completely commanded by the range of steep hills
running up to the very city itself. Upon the nearest hills, however, at
the end of the battery, the Chinese had formed a fortified encampment,
in which there appeared to be a large body of troops; and in a hollow
at the foot of it there was an unfinished stone fort, intended to mount
eight guns. But they had placed their principal reliance upon the line
of mud-batteries fronting the harbour, and had run piles and stakes
along the water's edge, to prevent our troops from landing from the
boats, as if they imagined that a battery could only be attacked in
front, and partly perhaps to prevent the washing away of the soil.

The works had been hastily and unscientifically constructed, and
consisted principally of heaps of mud, of a conical shape, raised
upon the embankment, with embrasures between them for the guns. These
intervals were so large, measuring generally from ten to fifteen
feet wide, that it would be impossible for the men to stand to their
guns, although the mounds of earth between them were about twenty to
twenty-five feet broad. The line of battery extended far beyond the
Pagoda or Joss House Hill to the eastward, but was not completed
at that end. There were altogether nearly two hundred and seventy
embrasures, but only about eighty guns mounted, exclusive of those in a
newly-built redoubt upon Pagoda Hill, amounting to twelve or fifteen.
Of these twenty-five were afterwards found to be of brass and copper,
and tolerably well cast. Several improvements had been made by the
Chinese for the strengthening of Pagoda Hill, since our evacuation of
the place. They had retained the wall which we had formerly carried
round the top of it, with an arched gateway of stone on the side
looking inland towards the town. Other improvements were in progress;
so that, if the attack had been delayed for some weeks longer, the
Chinese would have completed their defences, as well as their want of
science would permit. As it was, the authorities claimed for themselves
the honour of "having fought with heavy toil for six days and nights,"
reckoning the commencement of their so-called fighting from the day on
which the steamers first approached to reconnoitre. Our forbearance was
magnified into a great victory by them, for the moment at all events.

On the return of the steamers to the anchorage at Just in the Way, with
the rest of the fleet, orders were given for the Nemesis to proceed
on the following morning across to the Ningpo river, to reconnoitre
Chinhae, &c. &c., but the weather proved so hazy and unsettled, that
this purpose was deferred for the present. On the following day, the
28th, the weather still continued very squally, which prevented the
fleet from moving; and the admiral, therefore, gave orders that the
Nemesis should proceed again to Chusan, in company with the Modeste
and Columbine, (the whole under the command of Captain Eyres, of the
Modeste,) and they were directed to destroy the unfinished battery
already mentioned, at the foot of the hills at the western extremity
of the long line of works, and if possible set fire to the encampment
on the hill above, or, at all events, disperse the Chinese troops. The
object was evidently to prepare for the landing of our force at that
point, in order to take the line of Chinese battery in reverse, and
then march upon the town by the hills. The increasing severity of the
weather obliged them all to come to anchor before they reached Chusan.

At daylight next morning, the Nemesis was sent in alone to reconnoitre,
having Captain Eyres and Captain Clarke on board, and she soon
discovered that the entrenched camp on the hill was stronger than had
been supposed, and that the troops were collected in great strength
at that point. As the steamer ran pretty close in shore, a smart
but ineffective fire from large ginjals was opened on her from the
entrenched camp; but the small stone fort below was quite silent, and,
indeed, appeared to be unarmed. Having fired a few shot into the camp
on the hill, in order to warn the Chinese of what they had to expect,
the Nemesis speedily returned, to bring up the other two vessels;
and these, as soon as they had come to anchor as close in shore as
their draught of water would permit, immediately opened fire upon
the entrenched camp above, and also at the fort below, in order to
ascertain if it was occupied. As the Nemesis, however, could stand in
much closer than the other vessels, Captain Eyres and Captain Clarke
went on board her, and she was then carried within excellent range
by Captain Hall, and immediately poured in shot, shell, rockets, and
carcases, with such remarkable precision, as to have been made the
subject of special mention in the admiral's despatch.

In a short time, the temporary buildings were demolished, and a breach
was made in the wall of the fortified encampment. The proper moment
for landing was now come; but as the orders were positive not to come
to close quarters with the enemy, but merely to reconnoitre their
position, and prevent them from adding to their works of defence, no
attempt was made to carry the encampment. A small party of men were
landed, but merely with a view to ascertain, beyond a doubt, that the
small stone fort below was unarmed, and to make a hasty reconnoissance
of the line of sea-battery, nearly a mile long, which connected this
point with Pagoda Hill. A large body of Chinese troops were now seen
forming under the brow of the hill in the rear, in order to make an
attack upon the reconnoitring party; but a few well-directed shot from
the steamer's guns immediately dispersed them.

The object of this little affair having been now fully accomplished,
the Nemesis hastened to rejoin the admiral, with despatches from
Captain Eyres. Sir William Parker was, however, already on his way over
to Chusan in the Wellesley, and now, without loss of time, came on
board the Nemesis, accompanied by the general, and ordered her to carry
them once more across the harbour of Chusan. The Chinese again opened
a distant and useless fire upon her as she passed, both in going and
returning, as they had done on the former occasion.

In the course of the afternoon, several of the ships of war, and some
of the transports, reached the outer harbour of Chusan, while the
Blonde, Modeste, and Queen steamer, proceeded to take up a position
under the two islands which lie opposite Pagoda Hill, and which were
called Macclesfield (or Melville) and Trumball Islands. They were
directed to cover and assist a party of the Royal Artillery, under
Captain Knowles, in erecting a battery of one 68-pounder gun, and
two 24-pounder howitzers, upon the top of the ridge of the former
island, with a view to shell Pagoda Hill and its defences, which were
within range, but rather distant. The Chinese continued firing very
ineffectually during the whole time, in the direction of these islands,
but their shot always fell short.

The battery was finished on the following day, with great labour and
skill. Every preparation for the attack being completed on the 30th,
the dawn of the 1st of October was looked for with intense interest. At
daylight, the Nemesis again crossed and recrossed the inner harbour,
for the purpose of embarking some troops which were on board the
Jupiter, close to Trumball Island; they consisted of a portion of
the Madras Rifles and a number of camp-followers. The Nemesis then
proceeded to the transports in the outer harbour, to take on board part
of the 49th regiment, together with a detachment of sappers and miners.

The Howitzer Battery, upon Melville Island, opened fire just as she was
crossing from the inner harbour; and it was an interesting sight to
watch the shells falling upon Pagoda Hill. The first shell was thrown
merely to try the range, and fell rather short, but the second fell
exactly within the fort, close to the gate, and it therefore became
evident that the Chinese could not long hold out.

About the same time, the Queen steamer endeavoured to tow the Blonde
frigate into a good position against Pagoda Hill and the adjacent
defences, to aid the mortar battery; but so great was the strength of
the tide, which runs like a millrace in that part of the harbour, that
it was impossible to move the Blonde into a good position, in spite
of the utmost exertions used. But shortly afterwards the Modeste and
Queen, drawing less water, were able to take up excellent stations; the
battery on Pagoda Hill was soon silenced, and the troops were driven
from their post.

While this was being effected at the eastern extremity of the inner
harbour, the original design of driving the Chinese out of the long
sea-battery, by turning their right flank at its western extremity,
and by taking possession of the hills above them, upon which their
encampment had been formed, was gallantly and effectually carried into
execution. The Chinese troops at this time occupied the heights in
force, although they had been dispersed two days before; and kept up a
continued fire of ginjals and matchlocks, apparently more in defiance
than for any useful purpose, for they frequently advanced to the brow
of the hill, waving their flags, and daring their enemy to attack them.

The Wellesley had been moved as close as possible to the intended
point of debarkation, just outside Guard Island; and the Cruiser and
Columbine had been placed within two hundred yards of the beach,
there being plenty of water almost close in shore. By the fire of
these vessels and of the Sesostris steamer, the Chinese were so
completely kept in check, that they could not attempt any opposition
to the landing of the troops. The Phlegethon now came up with the
55th regiment on board. The first division, with the gallant general
at their head, consisting of the Madras Artillery, with eight guns,
under Captain Anstruther, together with a party of sappers and the 18th
and 55th regiments, with the Madras Rifles, were now landed, but not
without some delay and difficulty, owing to the astonishing strength
of the currents. The Nemesis was also coming up to land the troops she
had on board, when she unfortunately grounded on a sand-bank, and was
obliged to cast off the numerous boats she had in tow, before she could
work herself off again, which caused considerable delay. The 49th were
therefore not landed so soon as had been expected.

The firing of the steamers which covered the landing was kept up with
so much precision, that more than one of the Chinese standard-bearers,
who boldly advanced alone to the crest of the hill, waving their flags,
were cut in two by a 32-pounder shot, just as if they had been aimed at
with a rifle.

The two flank and the third companies of the 55th being first on shore,
received a smart fire from the Chinese, who, up to this time, had kept
themselves pretty well sheltered; and, as the remainder of the regiment
followed close after the leading companies, and the 18th was not far
behind, the advance was instantly sounded, and the 55th pushed up the
hill, under the gallant Major Fawcett. The Chinese waved to them to
come on, and opened a smart fire as they struggled up the steep hill,
and knocked down several of the men. It was an exciting spectacle to
watch them ascending the hill, while the ships continued firing until
they reached the summit; and even then the Chinese shewed no want of
courage; the spear and the bayonet frequently crossed each other.

At length the Chinese were routed; and the hill, being now in our
possession, gave us the command of all the enemy's positions, which, by
this means, were fairly turned. In this encounter, the first Chinese
colours were taken by Lieutenant Butler, of the 55th.

In the meantime, the 18th and the artillery being landed, and some of
the light guns having been placed so as to enfilade the long battery,
the 18th pushed on gallantly, under Lieutenant-Colonel Adams, to
clear the line of sea-defences. The facility with which the flank of
the Chinese positions had been turned did not seem, by any means, to
discourage the Chinese, who fought, as they retreated, with great
_individual_ courage, several of the mandarins boldly advancing, sword
in hand, to the attack. The loss on their side, as they were driven
back along so narrow a line, (for there was a deep paddy-field in the
rear of the embankment upon which the battery was constructed,) was
necessarily great. The Chinese commander-in-chief and several Tartar
officers were here killed. They were at length compelled to evacuate
the whole line of sea-battery, the grenadier company of the 18th
leading the way, in a spirited manner, under Captain Wigston.

Having cleared the whole of the works, the 18th soon made their way up
the Pagoda Hill without opposition, the Chinese having been already
compelled to evacuate it by the admirable fire of the Royal Artillery,
and of the Modeste and Queen on that side. The 49th, who could not be
landed until the hottest part of the work was over, followed the 18th
along the battery, but on reaching a causeway or path about two-thirds
of the way across, which appeared to lead from the battery towards the
city, they turned off at that point, and hurried on towards the south
gate of the city, to which it led.

In the meantime, the 55th pushed on along the hills, covered by the
Rifles, which had now joined, to the heights overlooking the city
on the north-west; and Captain Anstruther, with Captain Balfour and
Lieutenant Foulis, with great exertion, brought up the light field-guns
of the Madras Artillery to the summit of the heights, and opened their
fire upon the walls, on which several guns were mounted on that side.
The Madras Sappers had also brought scaling-ladders along the rugged
hills, and the Rifles were skilfully disposed along the edge of a deep
ravine between the hills and the city walls, sheltered by the broken
ground and by tombs, (for it was the burial place of the city,) with
the object of cutting off the retreat of the Chinese by the northern

While these operations were going on, the admiral, accompanied by Sir
Henry Pottinger, Captain Herbert, Captain Maitland, and Mr. Morrison,
the interpreter, went on board the Nemesis, (which, after landing
her troops, had come round the point of Guard Island into the inner
harbour,) and were carried towards the Pagoda Hill, just as the
18th entered the works at the top of it. The admiral and the rest
of the officers immediately landed, and ascended the hill, from the
top of which there is a splendid prospect of the whole plain beyond,
and of the city, and from which a good view could be obtained of the
operations against the latter.

The Nemesis was anchored as close in shore as possible; and Captain
Hall, having got up to the mast-head, was able distinctly to see
everything that was going on, and to direct the fire of the steamer, so
as to throw a few shells into the city, about three-quarters of a mile
distant. The other steamers very shortly afterwards also joined her in
the inner harbour. The 55th could be seen climbing over the walls, the
Chinese firing, and retreating before them; and the British flag at
last proudly floated over the fallen city. Three British cheers were
given at this moment by soldiers and sailors together.

The capital of Chusan, with all its new and extensive defences, was now
for the second time in our possession. The Chinese troops fled into
the interior of the island, principally by the eastern gate; and if a
detachment of our soldiers had been sent along the banks of the canal
which runs up into the plain on that side, probably a great number of
the Chinese would have been cut off.

The loss of the Chinese was considerable, both in the battery and on
the hills. On our side, one officer (Ensign Duell) and one rank and
file of the 55th were killed, and nineteen rank and file of the same
regiment wounded, many of them severely. Of the other troops engaged,
eight rank and file were wounded, of whom half dangerously or severely.
Besides the guns already enumerated, together with large ginjals, a
vast number of matchlocks were found in the city, with upwards of five
hundred tubs of powder, some bamboo rockets, and about one hundred
cases of leaden balls.

The day after the capture, measures were adopted by the general to
endeavour to prevent the escape of the Chinese troops from the island,
by the numerous little harbours or creeks from which they could get
away in boats to the mainland. Three different detachments of our
soldiers were sent out by separate routes to scour the island, while
the Nemesis and other vessels were sent round to convey provisions,
and to blockade the landing-places or villages on the coast. But not
a soldier was seen in any direction; the facility of disguise and
concealment, and also of escape to the mainland, being very great.

It may be doubted whether these movements, instead of tending to bring
the native Chinese population into submission, did not rather serve
to keep alive or to increase their natural feeling of dislike to the
foreigner. In fact, the inhabitants of the Chusan Islands are generally
a hardy and independent race of people, and up to the close of the
war, it never could be said that we really had possession of more than
the actual city within the walls of Tinghai and its suburbs on the
sea-shore. No one could move even to a distance of two or three miles
from the walls, without having a strong escort with him, or running
the risk of being kidnapped by the people. Many private soldiers and
camp-followers were in this manner cut off; and at length orders were
issued that none but the Chinese should be permitted to pass through
the northern gate at all.


[59] To shew how sickly the coast of China is, _in some seasons_,
it may be mentioned, that on board the Lion, which conveyed Lord
Macartney's embassy to China in 1792, no less than ninety-three men
were put upon the sick list in less than a week after she came to
anchor on the upper part of the east coast.

[60] In some of the most barren parts of Tartary, where the people
with difficulty obtain the means of subsistence, remarkable care is
bestowed upon the cultivation of patches of ground, only a few yards
square, upon the side of the most rugged mountains. Æneas Anderson
says, "Upon a very high mountain in Tartary, (on the road to the
imperial residence,) I discovered patches of cultivated ground in such
a position as to appear altogether inaccessible. Presently I observed
one of the poor husbandmen employed in digging a small spot near the
top of a hill, where, at first sight, it appeared impossible for him
to stand, much less to till the ground. I soon noticed that he had a
rope fastened round his middle, by which he let himself down from the
top, to any part of the precipice where a few square yards of ground
gave him encouragement to plant his vegetables. Situated as these spots
are, at considerable distances from each other, and considering the
daily fatigue and danger of this man's life, it affords an interesting
example of Chinese industry, stimulated by necessity."_--See Anderson's
Embassy of Lord Macartney._


A few days after the occupation of the capital of Chusan, a regular
military government was established by Sir Henry Pottinger, protection
being promised to the well-behaved inhabitants, who were moreover
informed that "several years would probably elapse before the island
would be restored to the authority of the Emperor." Thus it was
evidently contemplated, even at that time, that the island should not
be restored to the Chinese, until long after the conclusion of peace.

The principal alterations which had taken place at Tinghai, since it
was given up by the English seven months before, were found to be
merely the addition of the defensive works already described, and, to
a certain degree, increased cleanliness within the city. The suburbs
at the landing-place had been in part pulled down, or altered to make
way for the batteries, while other parts had been abandoned, and were
afterwards pulled down by our own orders during the ensuing winter,
to give a better circulation of air, and more room for the detachment
quartered there. In other respects, the so-called horrors of war fell
extremely lightly upon the inhabitants; indeed, they were in most
instances benefited by our presence, and by the circulation of money
which we spent among them.

It must not be imagined that the capital of Chusan is at all a fine
town, or in any way to be compared with others upon the mainland which
we afterwards captured or visited. Even the walls, though of small
extent, enclose a larger space than is actually occupied by the town
itself; and, indeed, with few exceptions, this appears to be generally
the case in China. The streets are extremely narrow, being mere lanes;
the shops are very poor, and comparatively insignificant; and the
houses are all low, but some of them, including the courts within,
occupy a large space of ground.

There is one building, however, which attracts universal attention,
as being one of the finest specimens of its kind. It is the principal
temple of the city, dedicated to the worship of Foo, or Budha. In many
respects it is superior to the temple at Hainan, opposite Canton, and
is scarcely second to the principal of the numerous temples which adorn
the sacred island of Pooto, about twenty miles from Chusan, which is
famous for the number and elegance of its places of superstitious
worship, and for the hosts of priests, or rather, monks, which are
attached to them. There is belonging to this beautiful temple of
Tinghai, standing in a detached half-ruined building, and apparently
never used, one of the most beautiful bells met with in China. It is
quite equal to the one which was afterwards taken at Ningpo, and was
subsequently sent to Calcutta. It is of very large size, but somewhat
different in shape from our own, and is covered on the outside with
Chinese characters, beautifully formed. Its tone is clear and deep;
indeed, the Chinese appear to excel in the art of making bell-metal. It
was worthy of being removed and carried to this country; not so much
as a trophy, for such it could not be called, but as an interesting
specimen of Chinese workmanship, and of the advanced state of some of
their oldest arts and inventions.

Some interest attaches to the island of Chusan, from the fact of its
having once been the site of an English factory. It is about fifty
miles in circumference, of an oblong shape, being about twenty miles in
length by ten in breadth. The principal harbour of Tinghai is difficult
of approach, owing to the astonishing rapidity of the currents or
tides, the rise and fall of which varies from six to twelve feet; the
passages are in some parts narrow, with deep water.

Chusan and all the neighbouring islands are extremely mountainous,
but between the ridges of the hills are rich and beautiful valleys,
which are highly productive, being well supplied with water. The
industry and care with which the Chinese embank the opening of every
valley towards the sea are remarkable; not a foot of ground is wasted;
and every little nook or bay which can be reclaimed from the sea is
cultivated with the most assiduous care. The beautiful cultivation
of the hill-sides has already been alluded to, so that it is not
surprising that the island is capable of exporting a large quantity
of produce to the mainland. For general commercial purposes, however,
little advantage could have been derived from the permanent retention
of Chusan; the population of the island is not large; and, with the
port of Ningpo within a few hours' sail, and open to our vessels, there
could have been no compensating benefit to make up for the expense of a
permanent settlement upon an island in its neighbourhood.

The East India Company's factory was built in 1700, not far from the
present landing-place in the suburbs of Tinghai, but the exactions of
the Chinese officers, the expense of the establishment, and the little
prospect of carrying on a successful trade, compelled them to abandon
it three or four years afterwards. In short, the internal trade of the
island must always be insignificant; and vessels which frequent the
harbour depend almost entirely upon the visits of Chinese merchants,
who come over from the mainland to seek merchandize, which they would
much more gladly purchase when brought to their own doors at Ningpo, by
which means they would save expense and trouble.

The importance of the temporary possession of Chusan is certainly
great, particularly as long as the arrangements for the opening of the
new ports are not entirely completed. But its value, as a _political
measure_, is much enhanced by the moral effect it has had upon the
government and the people of China, who look upon the Chusan islands as
among their most valuable possessions, the loss of which was peculiarly
felt by the Emperor.

In the commencement, the principal inhabitants of the interior
shewed a great disinclination to have any dealings with us, and the
common people frequently proved themselves decidedly hostile to us.
The kidnapping of our soldiers will be alluded to hereafter; but
that was more frequently attempted by men sent expressly over for
the purpose, from the mainland, than by the peasantry of the island
itself. Gradually, however, all classes improved in their tone and
bearing; and, during an excursion which I myself made, in company with
a missionary, at the close of the war, we found the people commonly
civil and obliging, and rarely disinclined to hold intercourse with us.
In several instances, we were invited into the houses of respectable
individuals, who invariably turned the conversation upon mercantile

It must not be supposed that there can be an _unlimited_ production of
tea in China; its cultivation is limited to almost two districts, and
it requires peculiar conditions of soil and of climate to enable it to
be cultivated to advantage. A great _sudden_ increase in the demand
for tea would lead to an enormous increase in the adulteration of the
article by all kinds of spurious leaves; and nothing is more easy
than to fabricate a mixture which will resemble in all its external
appearances any _description_ of tea which may be most in demand;
and this fabricated mixture can be added to the real tea, in greater
or lesser quantity, so as not easily to be detected, except by very
experienced persons. The tea-plant requires three years' growth before
it will produce leaves fit to be plucked for tea. At Chusan, the plant
appeared to grow wild, or nearly so, upon some of the mountains, but of
inferior quality, and only fit for native use.

As the season for active measures, before the complete setting in
of winter, was already far advanced, little time was to be lost in
carrying into execution the proposed movement upon Chinhae and Ningpo.
The latter city, from its size and situation, would afford excellent
winter quarters for the main body of our troops; and the moral effect
upon the Chinese government and people, of the continued occupation of
so important a place, and the interruption of their valuable trade,
could not fail to make an impression calculated to facilitate our
future negotiations.

In the meantime, the expected reinforcements would have arrived, both
from England and from India, and the next campaign would be opened
with vigour, and would suffice, it was hoped, to conclude the war.
Ningpo, which is a city of the first class, and therefore called Foo,
(Ningpo-Foo,) is the chief city of a department, and the second city
in the province of Che-keang, of which the capital is Hang-Chow-Foo.
The population of the province, according to Chinese documents, numbers
upwards of 26,000,000 souls, or very nearly as much as the whole of
Great Britain and Ireland together.

The town of Ningpo is situated twelve miles up the Tahea, or Ningpo
river, at the mouth of which is the small town of Chinhae, at the
base of a high hill, which commands the entrance of the river. The
possession of Chinhae, therefore, and its citadel, would give us
complete command of the approach to Ningpo; just as the capture of
Chapoo (which was effected in the subsequent campaign) would lay
open the road to Hang-Chow-Foo, the capital; and that of Woosung,
which was soon afterwards taken, would give us free access to the
valuable trading city of Shang-hae. It could not be doubted that the
interruption of trade, and the stoppage of imperial revenues derived
from it, would make far deeper impression upon the cabinet of Pekin,
than sweeping off thousands and tens of thousands of the people, whose
lives are so quaintly said to be "very tenderly cherished in the
paternal bosom of the Emperor."

A small garrison only was to be left in possession of Chusan, but the
embarkation of the rest of our force was delayed for some days, by the
continuance of contrary winds. The exposed situation of Chinhae also
made it hazardous to approach it with a fleet, until the weather should
assume a more settled appearance. At length, on the 8th of October, the
greater part of the transports were moved to the anchorage at "Just in
the Way," nearly half way across to the mouth of the Ningpo river. At
the same time, the General and the Admiral, accompanied by Sir Henry
Pottinger, who was never absent when active operations were going on,
proceeded in the Nemesis and Phlegethon steamers to reconnoitre the
Chinese positions, and to form their plans for the intended attack.
Everything was now extremely favourable for this purpose, considering
the advanced season; and the Chinese allowed the steamers to approach
quite close, within short range, without firing a shot.

The city of Chinhae lies at the foot of a hill, upon a tongue of
land, on the left bank of the river, or upon the northern side of
its entrance; and its castellated walls are not much less than three
miles in circumference, connected with a substantial stone embankment
which runs up the coast for a distance of full three miles, for the
protection of the land from the encroachments of the sea. The chief
strength of the position, however, lies in the precipitous, rocky
height, which, rising abruptly from the sea, at the extremity of the
peninsula, and throwing out a rugged spur, completely commands the
entrance of the river. Upon its summit, which may be about two hundred
and fifty feet high, a sort of citadel had been formed, having a large
temple for its commanding point, connected by loop-holed walls with
various other buildings, which had been put in a state of preparation
for defence.

The outer wall had two iron-plated gates; but the only direct
communication between the citadel and the city was on the west, or land
side, where a steep but tolerably regular causeway led to a barrier
gate at the bottom of the hill, whence it was continued by a wooden
bridge over a gorge to the gates of the city itself. In front of the
other, or eastern gate of the citadel, there was a newly-constructed
battery, formed partly of sand-bags, and partly of masonry, mounting,
altogether, twenty-one guns.

Adjoining the suburbs of the city, on the river side, there were also
two flanking batteries for the protection of the river, mounting,
respectively, twenty-two and nineteen guns; while, on the opposite
side of the isthmus, lying between the hill and the city walls, there
was a small battery of five guns pointing towards the sea, with a row
of piles driven into the beach in front of it, in order to impede the
landing of an enemy. For further protection on that side, a number of
guns and a large quantity of ginjals were mounted upon the city walls,
principally fronting the sea. The information obtained led the General
to suppose that there were about three thousand soldiers in the city
and upon the works outside of it, while about seven hundred garrisoned
the citadel; but the Chinese official returns were afterwards found, in
which the details were minutely given. The actual number was about five
hundred less than supposed. The Chinese had by no means limited their
defences to the northern side of the river only. On the contrary, there
was good reason to believe that the great body of their troops and
their strongest positions were upon the other or southern side of the
river, where there was a range of steep hills, overlooking the citadel
hill and the city itself.

On this side there were several strong batteries facing the entrance
to the river, mounting altogether thirty-one guns, while the line of
heights above was strongly fortified, having a chain of entrenched
camps along the points most difficult of approach, with several field
redoubts, armed with guns and ginjals; in short, neither expense nor
labour had been spared to defend, as far as Chinese ingenuity and art
could avail, the approach to the important city of Ningpo.

The river itself was strongly staked across just within the entrance,
the obstruction being commanded by the batteries. A little lower down
to the southward below the river, in a small bay, there was a creek,
with a good landing-place at the foot of the hills, and the entrance
to it was staked across in a similar manner. The importance which the
Chinese appeared to attach to the defence of these positions rendered
it the more necessary that they should be reduced, in order to convince
them, by the hard lesson of experience, that the utmost efforts of
their skill and perseverance were unavailing against the science and
the courage of Europeans.

On the following day, the 9th of October, the squadron and the
transports (the best-sailing ones having been selected for the purpose)
were able to anchor off Chinhae, in the most convenient positions for
the intended operations, which were to be carried into effect early on
the following morning.

From the description above given, it will at once become evident that
our operations against the main body of the Chinese troops, on the
southern side of the river, would be undertaken by the land forces,
under Sir Hugh Gough in person, while those against the citadel and
town of Chinhae, and the works on the northern side of the river, would
be entrusted principally to the naval branch of the expedition, under
Sir William Parker. It was arranged that a body of men should be ready
to land on that side, composed of the Seamen's Battalion and the Royal
Marines, with a detachment of the Royal and Madras Artillery, the whole
under the command of Captain Herbert, of the Blenheim.

The Wellesley, Blenheim, Blonde, and Modeste, were to take up
positions as close as possible in shore on that side, but avoiding,
if possible, the chance of taking the ground at low water, with
the object of shelling the Chinese out of the citadel, and of
preventing reinforcements from being sent up to it, and also to open
a landing-place for the seamen and marines. They were also to drive
the Chinese from the walls of the city on that side, and cover the
landing. The Cruiser, Columbine, and Bentinck, were to be employed
on the southern side of the entrance of the river, taking up their
positions so as to cover the landing of the troops at the mouth of the
creek already mentioned. The Queen and Sesostris steamers were to throw
shells into the citadel, and into the batteries along the river, or,
according to circumstances, into the Chinese encampments on the hills
on the south side; while the two iron steamers, Nemesis and Phlegethon,
were to land the troops, and then render assistance wherever their
services might be most useful.

The movements of the troops will be best understood as we proceed.
At daylight, on the morning of the 10th of October, the Nemesis
took on board the whole of the centre column, under the command of
Lieutenant-Colonel Morris, consisting of the 49th regiment, with
a few of the Royal and Madras Artillery, and some Madras Sappers,
amounting altogether to about four hundred and forty men, with forty
shot-bearers, &c. There were also two 12-pounder howitzers, with two
9-pounder field-guns. The Nemesis then took in tow the Cruiser, sixteen
guns, under Commander Giffard, who was to superintend and to cover
the landing, and immediately proceeded to the point of debarkation,
near the creek, on the flank of the Chinese positions. The post of
honour was this day given to the 49th, in order that they might have
an opportunity of making up for their disappointment at Chusan, where
they were landed too late to take the active part in the day's work
which had been assigned to them. At the same time, the left column,
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Craigie, of the 55th regiment
(accompanied by the General himself and staff), was carried in by the
Phlegethon to a rocky point a little farther to the southward. There
was a low flat and a canal, with two bridges over it, on their right,
whence they could move round the hills to the rear of the position
occupied by the Chinese. This column was the strongest, and comprised
a wing of the 18th Royal Irish, five Companies of the 55th regiment,
the Madras Rifle Company, with one company of the Madras Artillery and
some sappers; altogether 1040 men, with four light mountain howitzers,
and two five and a half-inch mortars, with upwards of one hundred
shot-carriers and followers.

The distance of the point of landing from the enemy's position was not
less than a couple of miles; and thence they skirted along the hills,
until they reached a commanding point, from which a full view was
obtained of the whole of the positions. By this time, the centre column
had formed without opposition; but a small body of Chinese troops, who
had probably been placed in ambush, under cover of a low hill, were now
discovered, and instantly dispersed by a few shot from the Nemesis.

The 49th now received orders to advance up the hill, which they did
in gallant style; and, after clearing several field-works, their
colours were soon displayed upon the principal redoubt overlooking
the batteries on the river side. In this attack, Captain Reynolds and
Lieutenant Browne, of the 49th, particularly distinguished themselves.

No sooner had that regiment got into close action than the 18th and the
Rifles, on their left, having with great difficulty got across a narrow
and obstructed bridge, over the lower part of the canal (which might
have been easily defended), and the 55th having crossed another bridge
higher up, suddenly pressed round upon the Chinese right, and threw
them into the utmost consternation. Many acts of individual bravery
were witnessed on their part; some the result of real courage, others
of sheer desperation. But the poor Chinese were fairly hemmed in by
the 49th in front, and by the 55th and 18th, with the Rifles, on their
right and in their rear. This manoeuvre, as may be supposed, threw them
into the utmost confusion. Their river batteries, being also by these
movements taken in flank, were at once abandoned by their defenders,
and a few of the guns were actually turned against the flying enemy the
moment we took possession.

The havoc among the Chinese was inevitably great, for very few of them
could be induced to lay down their arms, in spite of the exertions
of the officers, aided by Mr. Thom, the interpreter, to make them
understand that their lives would be spared. Hundreds of them, as a
last resource, rushed madly into the river, and, of course, a great
many were drowned; it is even said that their own batteries on the
_opposite side_ of the river killed a great many of them, either
purposely for running away, or by aiming at our soldiers, who were
driving the fugitives before them. Many committed suicide, including
several high officers; but some of them escaped, after throwing away
their arms and military clothing. About five hundred men surrendered
themselves prisoners; and a few others, who had taken shelter among the
rocks along the river side, were subsequently picked up by the boats of
the Queen steamer.

While these important successes were being obtained on the southern
side of the river, no less active and effectual operations were being
carried on upon the opposite or northern side, against the citadel and
town of Chinhae. As soon as the Nemesis had landed the centre column,
she ran up towards the flag-ship, the Wellesley, which had been towed
into an excellent position by the Sesostris, to shell the citadel,
but she settled quietly in the mud as the tide fell. The Blenheim
had likewise been towed into a good position by the Sesostris, but
the Blonde and Modeste were enabled to go in under sail with a light
breeze. The terrific fire of these powerful ships was immediately
opened upon the hill-fort with irresistible effect. Their precision
in throwing shells was particularly remarked, and nothing could long
resist their sustained fire.

On the Chinese side, the river batteries opened upon the Nemesis and
Phlegethon as they passed the river's mouth, and upon every vessel upon
which they could bear, as they occasionally came within range--namely,
the Queen, Cruiser, &c. The Nemesis, having passed beyond the
flag-ship, ran in as close as possible to the town, and dispersed a
body of Chinese, who were drawn up with their banners, &c., on that
side, and also opened upon a small fort at the landing-place, between
the Citadel-hill and the town; but she was then directed by the Admiral
to proceed with orders to the Sesostris and the Queen.

Just at this moment, (past eleven o'clock,) the boats were ordered
to land the right column, under Captain Herbert; and it was about
this time, also, that the 49th, on the south side of the river, were
seen to crown the hill, and carry the Chinese entrenchment in that

So severe and well-directed had been the fire of the ships, that
the Chinese had been driven out of the temple upon the top of the
Citadel-hill, and could be seen rushing down towards the city. The
seamen and marines, having disembarked upon the rugged rocks at the
mouth of the river, advanced to the assault with great rapidity up the
hill, and entered the citadel, the gate of which had been left open by
the Chinese, as they fled.

The Chinese still manned the walls of the city below, which were about
twenty feet high, and also the two batteries upon the river side,
before described. The marine and seamen battalion, therefore, pushed on
to attack the city, and escaladed the walls in two places on the east
side--the enemy making their escape through the western gate which led
into the open country.

By this time, the batteries on the south side of the river were also in
possession of our troops, who now turned the guns upon the batteries on
the city side of the river, near the water's edge. Captain Herbert's
column was accompanied by the admiral in person, who was one of the
foremost to mount the walls.

Three explosions took place during the attack--two near the top of the
Citadel-hill, and one at a mandarin station near the river-side. They
were supposed to be mines, and two of them were fired by our rockets.
Several Chinese suffered by the explosions.

The city of Chinhae, and the whole of the defences on both sides of the
river, so much relied on by the Chinese, were in our possession by two
o'clock; the Chinese troops were completely dispersed and panic-struck,
many of the high officers being killed, and the whole people in the
utmost consternation.

Captain Herbert retained possession of the town, with the marines,
during the remainder of the day; and in the evening, Sir Hugh Gough
crossed over from the opposite side with a few of his troops, and
joined Captain Herbert. The rest of our men bivouacked for the night
upon the hills they had so bravely taken. The total number of guns
which were found in the different works were no less than one hundred
and fifty-seven pieces, of which sixty-seven were brass, many being
very well cast, and of great weight. In the city was also discovered
a cannon foundry, with every preparation for the casting of a great
number of guns, including a large quantity of metal. There was likewise
some _copper ore_ found in the town, and a tolerable addition to the
prize fund was thus secured.

The loss on our side was inconsiderable, amounting to three men killed
and sixteen wounded, including one officer, Lieutenant Montgomerie,
of the 49th regiment, which bore the principal brunt of the day. The
loss of the Chinese is very difficult to estimate. But it amounted to
several hundred killed and wounded, in the operations on both sides of
the river.

Soon after the works were all in our possession, the Nemesis was
sent some way up the river to explore the navigation, having cleared
for herself a passage through the stakes; and, on her return to the
Wellesley, late in the day, the admiral, accompanied by Sir Henry
Pottinger, proceeded in her to examine the river again.

If we may judge from the various memorials presented to the Emperor,
after the fall of Chinhae, and his Majesty's replies to some of
them, we must at once perceive how great a sensation the loss of
this important place had made upon the people throughout the entire
province. They were now alarmed for the safety even of Hang-chow-foo,
the capital city. Nevertheless, the emperor, far from shewing any
inclination to yield, continued to urge on more strenuously than ever
the most extensive preparations for the defence of the province.

Before the fighting at Chinhae commenced, Yu-keen delivered his seals
of office to a faithful officer, to be carried back to the provincial
capital; and when, at length, he saw the day was lost, he coolly walked
down to the river's bank, and there, having performed the ceremony of
the Kotow, looking towards the imperial city, he threw himself into the
water. It was afterwards ascertained that about fourteen more Chinese
officers were either killed, or destroyed themselves.

The death of the imperial commissioner, Yu-keen, seems to have awakened
a feeling of compassion in the imperial bosom. His Majesty called to
mind the death of the commissioner's grandfather, in the same manner,
during the reign of Kien-lung, and directed that his departed servant,
"who gave his life for his country," should receive funeral honours
of a high class, in the same temple of "faithful ministers" in which
his ancestor had already found a place. The local officers were to pay
every honour to his remains, in all the towns through which his body
might pass on its way to Pekin.

It is an error to suppose that the Chinese are altogether averse
to change any of their established practices, however opposed
the government may be, as a matter of _policy_, to every kind of
_innovation_ in the usages of the people. In the strictly mechanical
arts, no people are more ready to adopt, or more expert in applying any
new methods which they can comprehend, and which appear better adapted
than their own, to attain the desired object; but their _imitations_
of things are notoriously ludicrous. At Chinhae, four newly-cast guns
were found, precisely after the model of some carronades which had been
recovered from the wreck of the Kite, and they were not by any means
bad specimens.

In the construction of their new gun-carriages, several striking
improvements had been copied from ours, and, in this and other
instances, it was thought that they must have employed people to take
sketches for them. The most remarkable innovation, however, and one
which points out their extreme ingenuity, was the discovery of some
machinery intended to be applied to the propulsion of their junks,
resembling paddle-wheels. This curious invention has been alluded to
in the early part of the work, but the actual machinery used for the
purpose was now first discovered. There were two long shafts, to which
were to be attached the paddle-wheels, made of hard wood, about twelve
feet in diameter; there were also some strong, wooden cog-wheels nearly
finished, which were intended to be worked by manual labour inside the
vessel. They were not yet fitted to the vessels; but the ingenuity of
this first attempt of the Chinese, so _far north_ as Chinhae, where
they could only have seen our steamers during their occasional visits
to Chusan, when that island was before occupied by us, cannot but be

A walk round the ramparts of Chinhae, was sufficient to give a good
idea of Chinese towns in general, and of the construction of their
walls, which, in some parts, could not be less than forty feet thick.
Beyond the town, the long sea-wall was a remarkably fine specimen
of masonry, composed entirely of large blocks of hewn granite,
sloping upwards. The whole of China, in fact, appears to present
to view astonishing instances of mixed civilization and barbarism,
of advancement and of stagnation, in all the relations of life.
Civilization appears to float upon the surface; you observe so much
of social order and sobriety, and hear so much of paternal care and
filial obedience, that you are half inclined to think they must be a
very moral, humane, and happy people. Again, you witness such proofs
of ingenuity, such striking results of industry and of combination of
labour, in their public works and buildings, canals, embankments, &c.,
that you are inclined to believe their institutions must have something
good in them at bottom.

But, when you look a little deeper below the surface, you are
astonished at the many evidences of barbarism and cruelty which
militate against your first impressions. The use of torture in the
hands of government officers is less striking, not only because it has
been in use in Christian Europe within the last half century, but also
because the obligation of an oath being unknown in China, as well as a
future state of reward or punishment, there is in some cases, no other
mode of extracting evidence, than this cruel, unjust, and much-abused
instrument of violence. It is more difficult, however, to perceive why
they should have exerted their ingenuity to produce revolting cruelty
in their modes of inflicting death.

The manner in which the unfortunate Capt. Stead and Mr. Wainwright
were put to death at Chinhae, as it was afterwards discovered, (for
they were only wounded and captured at Keeto Point,) affords strong
evidence of their cruel love for human suffering. The burial-place of
these persons was pointed out outside the city wall, beyond a little
moat which skirted them. It seemed to be the common burial-place for
criminals after execution, and there was an archery-ground, with a
target near at hand, for the practice of their favourite weapon. The
bodies of our countrymen were found rolled up in stout mats, such
as are commonly used for covering their floors. It was difficult to
obtain from the Chinese, anything like correct information as to the
precise mode in which the unfortunate sufferers were put to death; for,
although both of them were at last beheaded, there is too much reason
to believe that they were first of all most barbarously tortured.

The infliction of the punishment of death in China, by any mode which
shall cause the mutilation of the body, is considered much more
severe and degrading, than death by strangulation, or without the
shedding of blood; and the more the body is mutilated, the greater
is the punishment considered. The putting to death by "cutting in
pieces," in which horrible operation, decapitation is the climax,
is, perhaps, never at present carried into effect. It is reserved, I
believe, exclusively for rebellion and high treason. But the Chinese
seem to take pleasure in inventing various cruel modes by which death
_may be_ inflicted, although, probably, they are not now used, if,
indeed, they ever were. The most original and disgusting of all these
methods, (of which, however, there was no evidence of its being used,)
was illustrated by the discovery, either at Chinhae or at Ningpo, of
the model of a machine for _pounding women_ to death. The original
model was found in a temple, together with various others of a very
extraordinary kind. It was very small, and represented a large, oblong,
stone vase, in which the woman was to be placed, with the back of her
head resting upon one extremity, (the long hair hanging over the side,
and fastened to it,) while her legs were to be secured to the other
extremity. The horrible pounding process was to be effected by means
of a huge stone pestle, large at the base and conical at the apex,
similar to those which they use for pounding rice. The pestle, or
cone, was fixed to the extremity of a long pole, the pole itself being
fastened by a pin in the centre to an upright support, something in the
manner of a pump-handle. The extremity of the handle being depressed
by a man's weight, of course raised the cone, and, the pressure being
removed, the heavy cone or pestle descended by its own weight, which
was quite sufficient to pound one to pieces.

It was stated that at Chusan a stone tablet was found, upon which were
carved the Emperor's orders, that every barbarian who fell into the
hands of the authorities, should be executed by a slow and ignominious
death. We know, however, that, except in the case of the prisoners
upon the island of Formosa, this horrible threat was, in only rare
instances, carried into execution. On the contrary, the English
prisoners were sometimes tolerably well treated. This undoubtedly arose
from the forbearance which was shewn on our part towards the Chinese
themselves, and the humanity and kindness which their wounded and their
prisoners invariably received from our officers and men, and which it
was invariably the object of Sir Hugh Gough to promote and encourage.


[61] The right columns consisted of--

    Seamen Battalion, under Captain Bourchier                     400
    Royal Marines, Major Ellis                                    276
    Royal Artillery, with two five and a half inch mortars, }
      and some 9 and 12-pounder rockets,                    }      23
      Lieutenant the Honourable--Spencer                    }
    Madras Sappers, Captain Cotton and Lieutenant Johnstone, M.E.  30


The scenery at the mouth of the Ningpo river is very striking. High
conical-shaped hills stand on either side; and, as the river makes a
bend a short distance up, the fine mountains beyond come into full
view, and add to the picturesque beauty of the spot.

On the 12th of October, (the second day after the capture of Chinhae,)
the admiral proceeded up the river in the Nemesis, in order to
reconnoitre the city of Ningpo, and to ascertain the practicability
of taking the larger steamers and the sloops up the river. In all
respects, the river much exceeded the expectations formed of it. It
was found to be wide and easily navigable up to the city, with not
less than fourteen feet water close under the city walls. It was
also ascertained that no preparations had been made for defence, as
the positions which the Chinese had taken up at the entrance of the
river had been considered by them as quite strong enough to prevent
the approach of an enemy. The people were seen harrying out of the
city gates, in every direction, in the greatest consternation. The
authorities had all fled, and the city appeared to be in complete

No time was to be lost. With the exception of the necessary garrison
left at Chinhae, consisting of the 55th regiment, (excepting the light
company,) with one hundred Royal Marines, and a detachment of artillery
and sappers, the whole under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Craigie,
the rest of the force was embarked principally on board the Nemesis and
Phlegethon on the following morning, the 13th, and proceeded up the
river, in company with the Queen and Sesostris steamers, together with
the Modeste, Cruiser, Columbine, and Bentinck. The Blonde was left for
the protection of Chinhae, as a support to the garrison.

In consequence of unavoidable delays, the force did not reach the
city of Ningpo until past two, P.M.; but, fortunately, there was no
difficulty in landing the troops with the utmost expedition. Across the
river, just abreast of the town, there was a well-constructed bridge
of boats, which served to connect the city, at the entrance of one of
its gates, with the suburbs which were on the opposite side. There was
quite water enough for the steamers to run close up to it; and, as the
Chinese shewed no intention of opposing the landing, the bridge was
immediately taken possession of, while thousands of the inhabitants
thronged the banks of the river, as mere spectators, moved by curiosity
rather than by fear. Indeed, the Chinese themselves voluntarily
assisted to remove the obstructions which were piled up behind the city
gates; and about three o'clock the whole of the little force, amounting
to no more than seven hundred and fifty bayonets, besides the artillery
and sappers, were drawn up along the ramparts of the important and
wealthy city of Ningpo; and the stirring sound of our national "God
save the Queen" was played by the band of the 18th Royal Irish.

The utmost quiet was preserved, and the Chinese were made to understand
that, deserted by their own authorities, and left without means of
protecting themselves, they might be assured of protection through the
generosity of British soldiers. Never indeed was there a more peaceable

The capture of Chinhae and Ningpo, so soon after the loss of Chusan,
seems to have inflicted so severe a blow upon the Chinese, as to have
alarmed the whole province, and spread consternation even as far as the
capital itself. Reports were soon brought from every quarter that the
inhabitants even of Hang-chow-foo, famed for its luxury and refinement
throughout China, were moving away from it in large numbers, and that
places nearer to the scene of action were already almost abandoned. In
fact, it was admitted that a panic prevailed on every side; and it was
feared that "treacherous natives would seize the opportunity to rob and
plunder, and would form themselves into organized bands for the purpose
of creating internal disorders." There was also great apprehension that
our forces might proceed to capture Chapoo, one of their most valuable
ports, having the exclusive right of trade with Japan, and situated in
the vicinity of Hang-chow-foo.

It could not be doubted, therefore, that had the General possessed
a sufficient force to have been able to leave a garrison at Ningpo,
and _at once_ to take possession of Chapoo, which is, in fact, the
seaport of Hang-chow-foo, and only twenty miles distant from it, he
might have marched to the provincial capital while the Chinese were
unprepared to offer any serious opposition; and it is not improbable
that the war might have been brought to a termination in that campaign.
With the very small force, however, which Sir Hugh Gough had at his
disposal, such a movement was manifestly impossible. The whole force
which he could muster at Ningpo amounted to no more than seven hundred
and fifty bayonets; and, as the city was not less than five miles in
circumference, containing a dense population, it evidently required
a considerable garrison to occupy the place, and to afford security
to the peaceable and well-disposed inhabitants. It was therefore
resolved to make Ningpo the head-quarters for the winter, and to wait
for reinforcements from England and from India before opening the next

The province of Che-keang, which was now the seat of our operation, is
intersected by large rivers, and is traversed by the great Imperial
Canal, which, taking its commencement from the city of Hang-chow-foo,
and passing through the most fertile and densely-populated provinces,
crossing in its course the two great rivers, the Yangtze Keang and the
Yellow River, runs northward nearly as far as the imperial capital,
which is dependent upon it not only for its wealth, but even for its
means of daily subsistence. A blow inflicted upon its immense traffic
at one extremity must necessarily vibrate along its whole course,
and be painfully felt at the other end; and the great internal trade
of China, through all its endless ramifications, upon which perhaps
the bulk of the population depend for their subsistence, must suffer
a universal and dangerous derangement. What was of quite as much
importance, also, the imperial revenues would, in a great measure,
cease to flow into the imperial treasury.

The city of Ningpo, therefore, the largest in the province next to
Hang-chow-foo, wealthy from its great trade, easily accessible by
water, and formerly the site of an English factory, was admirably
adapted for winter quarters. The troops were placed, in the first
instance, in two large public buildings, and the greatest forbearance
was exercised towards the persons and property of the inhabitants.
Proclamations were likewise issued, calling upon the people to return
to their ordinary avocations without fear of molestation; and some of
the principal inhabitants were requested to assemble, in order that it
might be explained to them that it was the wish of our high officers
to afford them all possible protection, and to restore order to the
city; that the hostility of the English was to be directed against the
government, and not against the people.

All this sounded well at first, and was received with great
thankfulness by the Chinese, who seemed very well disposed to be taken
under British protection. But the announcement which was afterwards
made to them, that they were to pay a heavy sum as ransom for the
city, and as an _equivalent_ for the value of our "protection," was
received with very great disfavour and reluctance. Very little of the
sum demanded was ever forthcoming; and the substitution of a tax, or
contribution, of ten per cent upon the estimated value of the property,
was the cause of much subsequent ill-will, and some injustice. In
fact, notwithstanding the promises and hopes which were held out, a
very small portion of it was ever collected, and it was at all times a
subject of much bitterness to the people.

A tax of ten per cent upon the value of the cargoes of all vessels
passing up the river, which was afterwards enforced, was much more
successful; in fact, it was little else than the collection of the
imperial revenues, which the Chinese were always liable to pay. It was,
however, in a great degree evaded, by an increase of smuggling along
the coast, which the disorganized state of the local government of the
province greatly favoured.

Generally speaking, the collecting of any considerable body of troops
together in any particular province or locality in China, so far from
strengthening the hands of the authorities, is more likely to occasion
disturbance among the inhabitants. Their raw, ill-disciplined levies
are under little restraint, and repeated complaints are always made
against the lawlessness of the troops. Little confidence being placed
in their regular soldiers, who had been so recently defeated, the
people were now called upon by the authorities to collect their brave
men from all the villages and hamlets along the coast, and to organize
them into bands, for mutual "defence against the proud rebels;" but, in
most instances, these bodies of uncontrolled patriots became a scourge
to their own neighbourhood, and perfectly useless for any purpose of
defence against the enemy.

Ningpo is situated upon the extremity of a tongue of land at the point
of junction of two rivers, or two branches of the same river, which
unite just below the town, and form the Tahea, or Ningpo river. Both
of these branches are extremely tortuous, and have numerous villages
along their banks, which are in some parts picturesque and well
cultivated. One of them leads up, in a north-easterly direction, to the
district town of Yuyow, whence there is a canal, supposed to lead to
Hang-Chow-foo: the distance is about forty miles; and nearly halfway
up this branch, situated about four miles from the river's bank, is the
town of Tsekee. Both of these towns shortly became, as we shall see,
the scene of our operations, our object being to disperse the Chinese
forces, which were being collected at various points for a threatened
attack upon us at Ningpo. The other, or south-western branch of the
Ningpo river, leads up, at the distance of about thirty miles, to the
town of Fungway, which we also designed to attack, if necessary.

At Ningpo itself, one of the most interesting objects is the bridge
of boats, connecting the town with the suburbs. It is apparently well
contrived to answer the purpose for which it is intended. The boats are
all connected together by two chains running across, and resting upon
them, extending from one side of the river to the other. This serves
to keep the boats in their places, without their being moored, and a
regular bridge of planks is carried from one to the other, but only
destined for foot-passengers, as carts for draught are unknown.


A few days after the place was taken, the Nemesis and Phlegethon
proceeded up the north-western branch towards Yuyow, the Admiral and
suite being on board the former, and Sir Henry Pottinger and suite
on board the latter. They also took in tow the Wellesley's launch
and pinnace, manned and armed. The object was simply to explore that
branch of the river, and to ascertain whether any Chinese were being
collected in that direction. Nothing could be more picturesque than the
scenery the whole way up, the tortuous bendings of the river bringing
a constant succession of new objects into view, relieved by fine
mountain scenery in the rear. Numerous villages lay scattered upon its
banks, but there was no appearance of any preparations for defence.
The inhabitants generally, so far from running away with fear, crowded
the banks with looks of the utmost astonishment. The scenery continued
to increase in interest as they ascended, and particularly at a place
called Poonpoo, where there was a cluster of extremely pretty country
houses, or villas, said to belong to several of the high officers of
government. On every side the country appeared to be in the highest
state of cultivation.

About two-thirds of the way up, the river became considerably narrower,
and the turnings were sometimes so sharp and sudden, that it was not
without some difficulty the long, sharp Nemesis could be guided round
them. At length, about five o'clock, they reached the city of Yuyow,
and came to anchor close under its walls, in about three fathoms water.

The Admiral, accompanied by the numerous officers who had attended him,
including Captains Maitland, Herbert, Blake, and others, now got into
the boats from the Nemesis, as did also Sir Henry Pottinger, and his
suite from the Phlegethon, and proceeded up the river above the town,
to reconnoitre. They passed under a well-constructed stone bridge of
three arches, the centre one being about thirty feet high; but the day
was already far advanced, and the rain began to fall heavily. Nothing
of a hostile character was observed in the neighbourhood, and they all
very gladly returned without landing, but did not reach the steamers
until they were completely drenched.

Sir William Parker did not escape suffering from the exposure he had
undergone, and was laid up almost immediately afterwards with an
attack of rheumatism; indeed, it was often a matter of surprise that
he escaped with so little illness during his anxious and indefatigable
services, in which he never spared himself on any occasion, or shrunk
from any exposure.

In the city of Ningpo, things gradually began to settle down into their
regular course; the Chinese soon opened their shops, and were very
glad to sell their wares at an exorbitant price. Provisions, also,
were brought in plentifully, and there was every probability that the
winter would be passed in tolerable tranquillity. Some of the principal
people are said to have come forward, and expressed their willingness
to be taken _permanently_ under British rule, under a guarantee of
protection, but their professions were little relied on.

Some of the temples at Ningpo are very handsome, and one of them
in particular is well worth seeing. They fortunately escaped the
plundering of the Chinese thieves. Not so, however, the private houses,
particularly in the suburbs, which were less under our control, and
were almost as extensive as the town. In these, one whole street was
discovered entirely at the mercy of the mob, who had carried off nearly
everything that could be moved, in almost every house. Several of these
rogues were caught in the act, and were handed over to the tender
mercies of the people themselves. Several of them, also, were well
flogged, and others had their tails cut off, by the general's orders.

One of the buildings which attracted most interest was the town prison,
in which Captain Anstruther and others of our unfortunate countrymen
had been so long confined. The identical cages in which they had been
shut up were found still there, and others of a similar kind, ready
for the reception of any of the barbarians who might fall into their
hands. The way in which Captain Anstruther managed to find out his old
prison was rather curious. He is said to have had himself blindfolded,
and then carefully numbered the steps he had formerly taken, and the
different turnings he had made; and by these means contrived, within a
few yards, to hit the very spot.

A party arrived there in time to get possession of some Sycee silver
which had not yet been removed from the offices; but it is supposed
that much more had already been carried away by plunderers. A very
large quantity of the base coin called _cash_, the _only_ coined money
of China, was found in another part of the town; and the enormous
stores of grain, belonging to government, were also taken possession
of, and afterwards sold to the people at a cheap rate. This produced
a considerable addition to the prize fund, but the policy of selling
it at so low a rate was somewhat questioned. Every man was allowed to
go into the stores, at which a strong guard was placed, and fill as
large a sack as he could carry out of it for _one dollar_, its actual
value being about _four_. But only a small portion of this was actually
obtained by the _poor_ people; for it was asserted, at least by the
Chinese, that the _farmers themselves_ managed to get a considerable
share of it by means of their servants, so that they might be able
to continue to keep up the price by a species of monopoly. It was
also feared that, in case of a failure of the crops, a serious famine
might happen to the people, owing to the want of the accustomed stores
which are usually laid up by the government, in the paternal spirit of
providing the poor with food at a moderate price, in the event of such
a contingency. The sum added to the prize-fund by the sale of these
stores of grain, of which there was said to be two years' supply, was
considerable. There were also large stores of sugar discovered in the

Amongst other unexpected prizes, not the least interesting was that of
a stud of Chinese horses, or ponies, small, but hardy little things,
used exclusively for saddle, and generally employed only by the higher
mandarins. Upwards of forty of these ponies were selected, and trained
for the artillery, and amusing enough it was to see the commencement
of their apprenticeship. One of the great disadvantages the General
laboured under, on many occasions, was the want of horses for his
staff; the necessity of carrying his orders on foot not only caused
delay, but rendered the duty very harassing, particularly during some
of the hot, sultry days in the earlier part of this campaign.

The Chinese horses are extremely small, literally ponies, but strong,
and of good bone and tolerable figure; but they are not numerous,
being considered rather as a valuable indication of rank or wealth
than as the common slave of man, either for labour or amusement. The
Chinese take no pains to improve the breed, and very little care of
them, as to their food, grooming, &c. In reality, a Chinaman is the
most awkward-looking horseman imaginable, and the walk or the jog-trot
is the only pace that either his inclination, _his dignity_, or the
slippery nature of his causeways, permit him to adopt. Population in
China is so dense, and consequently labour so abundant, that they stand
in very little need of the help of the lower animals to assist the
hand of man, and rather grudge the food which is necessary for their

The best way to obtain a good view of Ningpo and the surrounding
country is to ascend the pagoda, which forms one of its most striking
objects. It is one hundred and fifty-five feet high, of an octagonal
form, having windows all the way up, with a lantern in each; so that,
if lighted up, the effect would be very striking. The lower part of
it is built of stone, but the upper part of brick. In other respects
it differs but little from other structures of the same description.
It appears to be connected with a public burial-ground, as numerous
graves and monuments lie scattered round it. From the top of it you
get quite a panoramic view of the city and the river, with its two
tributaries or branches, the mountains in the distance, and the fine,
rich, alluvial, well-watered, and highly-cultivated plain which extends
down towards the sea-coast.

The town itself differs little in appearance from that of Canton and
most other towns in China, but it is considerably smaller than the
former; it has the same narrow streets, crossed here and there by the
heavy stone arches, or rather tablets, which are frequently erected
to do honour to some great or popular man, the same curious, long,
ornamented sign-boards, on each side of the shops, and the same crowded
clusters of houses, of curious shape, and mostly of one story.

Many of the houses of the better class of people, not deserted entirely
by their owners, were visited by our officers, who generally met with
a very courteous reception. Indeed, the Chinese well know how to make
a virtue of necessity, and to conciliate your good graces by the offer
of tea, cakes, tobacco, or flowers, rather than run the chance of
exciting your ill-will, or your less friendly visits, by an affectation
of independence or rude indifference. The Chinese of the respectable
classes are capable of being extremely courteous, are well-bred, and
even elegant in their manners; and the proper mode of treating them is
to insist on this kind of demeanour as if it were due to you, and to
accept it as your _right_. But there are no people who _can_ be more
rude, overbearing, and uncourteous than the Chinese, when they think
that they can withhold from you with impunity, or without notice, the
courtesies which are habitual among themselves.

Considering how much the property of the inhabitants of Ningpo was at
our mercy, it is creditable that so little injury was done to it during
the many months in which the city was in our possession. But it is also
deserving of remark that, during the whole period of the war with the
Chinese, no considerable collection of Chinese curiosities or works of
art, many of which are extremely interesting and novel to us, was made
for public purposes. With the exception of a few specimens of Chinese
weapons and clothing, which were sent to different public institutions
by private individuals, no attempt was made to form a sort of Chinese

It is also to be regretted that some one or more scientific gentlemen
were not attached to the expedition, who, with the assistance of an
interpreter, might have made us acquainted with many interesting
subjects of natural history, and of the productions of the country.
Where, for instance, is the immense quantity of Sycee silver, which is
_annually_ exported from China, obtained? Where are their copper-mines,
and how are they worked? Coal mines also exist in several parts of
China; at Ningpo, coal was sold in small quantities, and at Nankin
immense supplies of excellent coal were found laid up for the coming
winter, and our steamers found it answer very well. The mineral
productions of China, of which there are probably many, are almost
entirely unknown to us.

The taste for European manufactures had reached Ningpo long before
we got possession of it. There were one or two shops for the sale
of what were called Canton wares, that is, English goods brought up
from Canton, and, of course, sold enormously dear. In one of them was
a quantity of English glass of various kinds. English gilt buttons
were found, and were in demand for the dresses of the higher classes,
particularly of the women, who seemed to prefer those which had the
East India Company's crest, the lion, upon them. A large quantity of
cloth was also found imported from Russia, and called Russian cloth;
but, in reality, there is little doubt that the cloth was manufactured
in _England_, for _Russian merchants_, expressly for their overland
trade with China. It is a known fact, that orders of this description,
for cloth made expressly of a particular kind, have long been executed
in England. This, then, ought _now_ to become a direct trade in our own

The Chinese appear to excel in the art of wood-carving, some very
fine specimens of which were found in their houses. One house in
particular at Ningpo was distinguished by the tasteful carving of its
furniture, particularly of that which belonged to the bed-rooms. Some
of their wardrobes and bedsteads were elegantly ornamented with carved
work, inlaid with various kinds of wood, and representing landscapes,
figures, &c. Some of their specimens of fretwork, with silk at the
back, and of embroidered silk furniture, were extremely elegant. Above
all things, they excel in the art of _varnishing_ plain or carved wood,
and they have also some method of giving a fine gloss to painted work,
which very much increases its durability, although it is different from

One of their greatest deficiencies appears to be in the mode of
lighting their houses. Glass is so little used, and the manufacture of
it so imperfectly known among them, that almost the only mode which
they adopt of letting in the light, and of excluding the air at the
same time, is by lattice-work windows, sometimes neatly carved, and
lined inside with very thin transparent paper. Occasionally, however,
a single pane of glass is found in the centre of the window, while in
other instances the whole of it is covered with the thin transparent
lining of oyster-shells, which admit a very imperfect light. The
artificial lighting of the best houses is often very well effected by
coloured lamps, several of which are suspended from the ceiling, and
painted with various designs, landscapes, &c. But the painting is _on_,
not _in_ the glass; the latter art appears to be quite unknown to the

Generally speaking, it was not safe to wander far from the gates of
the town, except when a large party went together upon a shooting
excursion. Pheasants, and a sort of pigeon, with woodcocks and teal,
were generally found without difficulty; but the Chinese seemed
mightily astonished that any one should take the trouble to _walk_ over
the country, mile after mile, merely for the trouble of shooting birds.
It is curious that, expert and indefatigable as they are in catching
fish, they should be so indifferent to the art of catching or killing
birds, which are to be found in almost every part of the country in
great abundance; but they seem to be deterred by the trouble of seeking
for them, and have very little knowledge of the relative value of the
different species as articles of diet. The lower class of people will
gladly devour any kind of bird you shoot for them. I have seen them
glad to get birds of prey even, and yet they take no pains to secure
the thousands of wild-fowl which are to be found upon the banks of the
same rivers in which they catch their fish.

That it was not safe to go out alone, even well armed, soon became
evident, for they made more than one attempt to carry off a sentry
on duty, and would have succeeded in their object, had not the guard
instantly come up on the alarm being given. On these occasions, as may
be supposed, a Chinaman or two stood a chance of being shot. But the
boldest of them all were the professed thieves, who continued to commit
depredations upon their countrymen in the most barefaced manner, in
spite of the severe examples which were sometimes made.

On one occasion, when a small foraging party was out looking for
poultry and bullocks, some Chinamen pointed out a spot where they said
a quantity of Sycee silver had been concealed. This was too great a
temptation for the soldiers to resist; but the moment they had loaded
themselves with the silver the Chinese surrounded them, and they were
obliged to let fall the Sycee in order to defend themselves, and then
beat a retreat. A quarrel then arose of course among the Chinese
about the division of the spoil, of which _they_ had not robbed their
countrymen, but had only captured it from the barbarians.

So many attempts were made to entrap our soldiers and sailors, and to
carry them off, both at Ningpo and Chinhae, that great caution was
necessary, and, in spite of the many warnings, some of their attempts
were successful. They had less inclination to molest the officers; not
that they loved them better, or desired them less as prisoners, but
that they had greater respect for the double-barrelled pistols which
many of the officers carried in their pockets, and which _all_ were
supposed to be provided with.

An attempt was made more than once by the Chinese to rob our
commissariat stores, but it was frustrated by our vigilance. But
the Chinese are uncommonly expert house-breakers, as many people in
Hong-Kong can testify, where houses and stores of the most substantial
kind were broken into in a very ingenious manner, generally by removing
some of the stones or bricks near the foundation.

The attempt to establish a Chinese police at Ningpo, and also at
Chusan, was tolerably successful; at least it was not difficult to find
men who were willing enough to _receive the pay_, and wear the badge
of a policeman; but it is not quite so certain that they were equally
ready to detect thieves, or to protect the property of individuals.
Sometimes, by way of appearing to do something, they gave false
information, which served to create a stir for the moment. Upon the
whole, they were certainly of some use; but the want of knowledge of
the language, and the small number of interpreters, since Mr. Gutzlaff
had almost the sole management of them, rendered their services less
available than could have been wished. They were occasionally useful
as spies, and obtained information of reports among their countrymen,
concerning the plans and intentions of the mandarins.

But, besides these, we had also regular spies in our pay, one of
whom, a Chinese who spoke English, and came to be known by the name
of Blundell, was sent up to Hang-chow-foo, but was afraid to deliver
the paper which was entrusted to him, and returned without having
accomplished his object. He was supposed to be employed as a spy by
both parties, the Chinese as well as ourselves. Generally, pretty
correct information was obtained of the proposed movements of the
Chinese, the assembling of their troops, and the orders of the imperial

At Ningpo, and in its neighbourhood, there were no indications
of hostile preparations for some time after the place was in our
possession. It was not until quite the end of November that reports,
upon which reliance could be placed, reached the general, that troops
were collecting in some of the neighbouring towns, particularly at
Yuyow, the town which had already been visited, and rumours were afloat
of some projected attack, on the part of the Chinese, upon Ningpo
itself. Plans now began to be laid for dispersing these different
bodies of troops, and for the purpose of instilling a wholesome terror
into the minds of the people; but active measures did not take place
until two or three weeks afterwards.

In the meantime, the Nemesis was sent over to Chusan, stopping a day or
two at Chinhae on the way, to procure fuel, and to overhaul a number
of large junks which were at anchor a few miles from the mouth of the
river. They were found to be laden principally with peas, rice, oil,
walnuts, liquorice-root, &c.; and had they been met with a few months
later, they would all have been detained, as were hundreds of a similar
kind at Woosung; but at this time they were not molested. _Opium was
found in them all_, in small quantities only, for the use of the people
on board, but apparently not for sale.

The weather was now clear and bracing, and the sickness which had
partially attacked our troops, on first taking possession of the town,
had almost entirely disappeared.

On the occasion of a visit to the opposite side of the river, a
singular circumstance occurred. Two Chinamen were seen at some little
distance, hastening along with a large round basket carried between
them, carefully covered up, but which at first attracted little
notice. Some of the party had the curiosity to raise up the covering
a little, when, to their great surprise and amusement, a very young
and pretty-looking Chinese lady was found stowed in it, hoping,
probably, by this device to escape detection. The poor thing was almost
frightened to death; but she remained perfectly quiet until she was
covered up again, when the men were allowed to trot away with her as
fast as they could.

Shortly afterwards, a gay-looking sedan chair was seen passing near a
village, probably belonging to some of the mandarins; but no sooner did
the party run up to examine it, than its occupier jumped out and ran
away for his life.

But the most singular thing of this kind was finding a Chinese lady
stowed away in the locker of a boat, as if she were dead. Orders had
been issued by the admiral to examine all junks leaving the city, in
order to prevent them from carrying away plunder. One of these had just
been examined, without finding anything of value on board, when it
occurred that something might still be concealed in the after-locker,
a sort of cupboard of moderate size. On opening this sanctum, it
appeared to contain what looked like the dead body of a female,
recently put into it, well dressed, and, judging from her handsome
shoes and small feet, a person of some importance. This looked a very
strange affair; but as no one could speak a word of the language, it
was impossible to inquire into it. However, as it appeared to be a
capital opportunity to examine the nature of a Chinese lady's foot, the
men were ordered by Capt. Hall to lift the body out; and this appeared
likely to be no easy matter, so closely did it seem to be jammed in.
But the moment the Jacks laid hold of the shoulders, a tremendous
scream issued forth, as if a ghost had suddenly been endowed with some
unearthly voice. The poor thing had only shammed being dead, in order,
as she thought, to escape detection. She was now very gently lifted
out, and not without some difficulty, being literally half dead with
the fright and confinement. In the bottom of the locker beneath her was
found a bag of money, with which she had evidently attempted to escape.
She was, of course, allowed to go away without further molestation,
boat and all.

The question of infanticide has been already alluded to in a previous
chapter. According to Barrow, it was considered part of the duty of the
police at Pekin to collect every morning, in a cart sent round for the
purpose, the dead bodies of infants which were thrown into the streets
during the night. Sometimes they were found still alive, and these were
commonly rescued by the Roman-catholic missionaries, who attended for
the purpose, and subsequently brought them up in the Roman-catholic
faith. Mr. Gutzlaff also alludes to this horrible practice, as being
far from uncommon, and as being perpetrated without any feelings
of remorse, but almost exclusively upon females. Among the immense
population which live in boats, and upon the rivers of China, it is
impossible to calculate how many are disposed of by being drowned. But,
in Pekin, Barrow gives the average number destroyed, at twenty-four
every day. Some allowance must, however, be made for those which _die
of disease_ during the earliest period of life in a country where
medical science is at so low an ebb.

With the exception of some of the Tartar towns, such as Chapoo and
Chin-keang-foo, where wholesale murder was committed by the men upon
their wives and children immediately the places were captured, little
evidence was obtained of the existence of the revolting practice of
infanticide. We have seen that at Amoy the bodies of several infants
were found sewed up in sacks; and it was also said that a cave was
found at Chinhae, in which were a number of bodies of female infants,
also tied up in bags. But it was an extremely rare thing to find an
infant abandoned in the streets alive or dead. An instance, however,
occurred at Ningpo one evening, when Captain Hall and a party from the
Nemesis were returning towards their boats. They were just passing a
joss-house, or temple, when something attracted attention lying upon
the steps leading to the entrance. On examination, it proved to be a
female infant (always females) recently abandoned, and though extremely
cold, still living. The little thing was carried down to the boat by a
marine, who was the orderly. Every attempt was made as soon as it was
brought on board to revive it, but without success.

Infanticide undoubtedly does exist in China, but it may be suspected
that the statements of its prevalence have been exaggerated, and
certainly it is confined to the lower classes, among whom the means of
subsistence press very heavily. The Chinese are generally remarkably
fond of their children. A Chinaman's three great wishes and most
cherished hopes are--length of days, plenty of _male_ offspring, and
literary honours. To be the patriarch of a long line of descendants is
generally the aim of his proudest ambition.

After a delay of two or three days at Chinhae, the Nemesis was sent
over to Chusan at the end of November, whither the admiral, and
Sir Henry Pottinger, had already preceded her. Great changes and
improvements were found to have taken place, even in this short
space of time. The shops were now all open, and the streets filled
with people, who were pursuing their ordinary avocations without
any appearance of alarm or fear of interruption. In fact, they were
settling down very quietly under our rule, much more so than on the
former occasion when the town was in our occupation.


The eventful year of 1841 was now drawing fast to a close. The troops
at Ningpo had been moved into more convenient quarters for the winter,
the close of which was anxiously looked for in the hope that sufficient
reinforcements would arrive to be able to commence the next campaign
with vigour. The weather set in intensely cold, in the middle of
December. On the 14th of that month, the hills were all covered with
snow, which soon began to fall heavily in the town as well, and proved
that although the summers are very warm in China, the winters are
intensely cold and trying. The health of the troops continued good,
supplies were tolerably abundant, and the officers managed to beguile
the time by shooting-parties in the neighbourhood, where plenty of
game, woodcocks, snipes, pheasants, &c., were to be found.

For some time, as was before stated, reports had been brought in
of the assembling of large bodies of Chinese troops in some of the
neighbouring towns, with the object, it was supposed, of preventing the
people from holding friendly communications with us, and perhaps also
to threaten us with an attempt to recover the city. The continuance of
frosty weather, which rendered their soft paddy-fields firm and fit for
operations, determined the general to make a military expedition as far
as Yuyow, in order to ascertain how far these reports were correct, and
to dislodge the Chinese troops if any of them should be found collected

On the 27th of December, the three steamers, Nemesis, Sesostris, and
Phlegethon, having a number of boats in tow, and carrying altogether
about seven hundred men, including the marines and seamen, proceeded up
the north-western branch of the river. The Nemesis conveyed Sir Hugh
Gough, Sir William Parker, and a detachment of the 18th Royal Irish,
together with a small detachment of artillery. The Sesostris, owing
to her greater draught of water, was compelled to bring up below the
intended point of debarkation. A few miles below the town a party of
Chinese soldiers were dispersed who had evidently been employed to
stake the river across, which they had already commenced.

In the evening, the Nemesis and Phlegethon anchored close off the town
of Yuyow, when crowds of Chinese were observed running down to their
boats and trying to make their escape up the river. The troops were
disembarked without delay, and took possession of a small undefended
battery of four guns recently erected, and then marched up the hill
overlooking the city, without opposition, and took up their quarters
for the night in the joss-house, or temple, upon the top of it, from
which a good view of the country had been obtained on a former occasion.

The city was said to be occupied by upwards of a thousand troops,
and preparations were made for escalading the walls on the following
morning, when the seamen and marines were landed with that object,
under the admiral in person.

Just at the critical moment, some of the respectable inhabitants came
out, and stated that the garrison had withdrawn during the night, and
that the gates were open for us. It was little expected that treachery
was intended, and the troops with the marines and seamen, entered the
town in two divisions; and having got upon the ramparts, they followed
them in opposite directions, in order to go round the town and meet at
the opposite side. At the same time, the Nemesis weighed and moved a
little higher up the river; and from the mast-head it was distinctly
seen that a body of Chinese troops were drawn up outside the town,
close to a bridge leading over a canal. The boats were, therefore, sent
further up the river, manned and armed, in case the Chinese should
attempt to escape in that direction.

Just at this time, the Chinese opened a fire of ginjals and matchlocks
upon the naval division, as they were advancing along the wall of the
town; but our troops, after some little delay, having found their way
out of the town by the northern gate, closely pursued the enemy, who
had already taken flight. The Nemesis, and subsequently the Phlegethon,
opened fire on them the moment they were perceived.

The pursuit was a toilsome one, owing to the peculiar character of
the frozen paddy-fields, covered with snow, which the Chinese could
scramble over faster than our own men; but some of the Chinese were
killed, and some were taken prisoners. Most of them threw off their
thick wadded jackets, and flung away their arms, and having a good
knowledge of the country, and of the direction of the causeways, which
were completely covered with snow, were able to make good their escape.
The pursuit was discontinued, after following them seven or eight
miles; but a military station, which was passed in the way, was set
fire to and destroyed.

In the mean time, the boats of the Nemesis, under Captain Hall, having
pushed on some way up the river, had overtaken two mandarin boats,
which were trying to escape. A quantity of official papers were found
in them, together with some Sycee silver, which was handed over to
the prize-agents; some valuable fur cloaks were also taken, and the
boats were then burned, the people belonging to them being first sent
ashore. Several farm-houses on shore were then searched for troops,
but none were found. At some distance, however, some men were seen
carrying a handsome mandarin chair in great haste across the country.
Chase was given, and it was soon overtaken; but, instead of a mandarin,
it was found to contain a very good-looking young _mandarin's lady_,
with an infant in her arms, and a quantity of trinket-boxes. The poor
thing was much frightened, but was allowed to be carried on without
molestation. On returning to the boats, they were pushed up further, in
the direction in which our troop had followed the enemy.

At Yuyow, an extensive depôt was discovered outside the town,
containing ammunition, arms, and clothing, and was totally destroyed.
Four guns, which were discovered concealed near the landing-place, were
embarked on board the steamer. It was now evident that the reports
which had been brought to us concerning the preparations of the Chinese
were perfectly correct.

In the town itself there was nothing particularly worthy of attention;
and on the 30th, our force was re-embarked, and the steamers returned
down the river, and came to anchor for the night, as near as they
could to the town of Tszekee, which lies, as before stated, about four
miles from its banks. On marching up to it the following day, it was
found unoccupied; and even the authorities of the town, alarmed by
the intelligence from Yuyow, had fled from the place. The inhabitants
appeared peaceably inclined; and, in order the better to conciliate
them, and to shew that our measures were solely directed against their
government, the large public stores of rice were distributed to the
poor people of the place. The same evening, our force returned to
Ningpo, having, during these five days, succeeded in spreading the
alarm throughout all the adjacent country, and in destroying all the
reliance of the people in the power of their own troops to protect them.

The year 1841 had now closed, and it had been the most eventful one
since the commencement of our difficulties with the Chinese. Our
measures had assumed a new character of vigour, while treaties had been
made and unmade by the Chinese with almost equal facility. But deep and
lasting humiliation had been inflicted upon them; the honour of the
English flag had been vindicated, and the strength of her arms had been
tried, and proved to be irresistible to the Chinese.

It was soon discovered that the effect of our descent upon Yuyow, and
our visit to Tszekee, had been to spread the utmost consternation
through all the district, and to alarm even the high officers at the
provincial capital, Hang-chow-foo. The imperial commissioner and many
of the wealthy inhabitants now fled out of that city, and sought refuge
in Soo-chow-foo, nearly one hundred miles further to the northward.
In fact, there was a general dread of our immediate advance upon the
former city; and there is little doubt that the general would have
gladly undertaken the expedition, had he possessed sufficient force to
do so without giving up Ningpo.

Some encouragement was given to this flattering expectation, by the
fact of the Phlegethon steamer and the Bentinck surveying vessel being
sent, early in January, to examine the great bay of Hang-chow-foo,
and the port of Chapoo, which, as it were, commands the approach to
the city, and is the centre of its commerce. This hoped-for movement
in advance, however, never took place. But, with a view to keep up in
the minds of the Chinese the impression which had been produced by our
movement upon Yuyow by the north-western branch of the river, a similar
attack was projected upon Fungwah, which lies nearly at the same
distance up the south-western branch. No authorized expedition had yet
been made to explore this branch; but, on two occasions, Captain Hall
and some of his officers and men had proceeded a considerable way up,
partly moved by curiosity, and partly with a view to examine the river.
On one occasion, they must have nearly reached the city of Fungwah

In both these excursions, the Chinese seemed very much astonished and
alarmed at the boldness of the attempt. The first excursion was merely
a walking and shooting party, but enough was seen of the country to
distinguish it as a rich, well-cultivated, and picturesque tract. The
small cotton-plant was cultivated in great abundance, and the women (at
least the elder ones) sat quietly at their doors, busy at the spinning
wheel, without appearing to be much alarmed. Several canals were
observed close to the river side, but not flowing into or communicating
directly with it. They were separated from it by rather a steep
_inclined plane_, _made of stone-work_, intended as a substitute for
locks, with strong windlasses for the purpose of hauling the boats up
on one side, and letting them down on the other; certainly an original
and curious contrivance.

The second excursion was much more extensive, and was made in one
of the steamers' cutters up the river. On passing through the first
village, four shots were heard, but it was difficult to say whether
they were fired at the boat, as the shots were not seen to fall. The
river was found to be remarkably tortuous, so as to appear sometimes,
when viewed from a distance, as if it ran in contrary directions.
Numerous pretty-looking villages were passed without any appearance of
hostility; and, at the distance of about eighteen miles, the river was
found to divide into two branches, one of which continued in a westerly
direction, and the other ran about south-east. Following the latter a
short distance farther, a well-built stone bridge was discovered, with
five arches, the centre one about twenty feet above the water, which
was here from five to six fathoms deep; the span of the principal arch
was thirty-five feet, and upon the top of the bridge was a sort of
sentry-box, or small look-out place, secured with a padlock.

Near at hand, upon the left bank of the river, was a very pretty
village, in which there was one large house, distinguished from the
others by having Chinese characters carved upon it, the meaning of
which, of course, could not be ascertained. About a quarter of a mile
above the bridge, the banks of the river were studded with well-built
houses, surrounded by groves of trees, among which the tallow-tree was
the most striking, by the peculiar reddish tint of its foliage at that
time of year. The course of the river was now about south-east, and it
was still nearly one hundred yards broad, with three fathoms water.

Three miles above the first bridge a second one was discovered, and
the river now turned due south. A little beyond this point the party
landed, as it was now getting late, and ascended a hill upon the
left bank of the river, from which there was a beautiful view of the
surrounding country and the hills in the distance. A high pagoda
could be distinguished some way off to the westward, and a round,
white watch-tower, or look-out house, upon a hill to the eastward,
covered with fir-trees, about a mile distant. At first the villagers
seemed terribly frightened, but, soon perceiving that no mischief was
intended, they approached with the utmost eager curiosity, anxious to
examine everything, particularly the boat and the men's clothes. Their
manner was respectful and orderly, which is generally the case with the
Chinese, if properly treated.

It was now time to descend the river, although the flood-tide was still
making. On approaching the principal stone bridge, it was found crowded
with people, so that it was necessary to arrange some plan of defence,
in case their purpose should prove to be one of hostility rather than
of curiosity. If necessary, Captain Hall resolved that all the party
should hastily land at the extremity of the bridge, except two men,
who were as quickly as possible to push the boat through the nearest
arch, and then pull it across to the opposite side; while those who had
landed were to force their way across the bridge, and re-embark in the
confusion on the opposite side. On coming up to the bridge, however,
no opposition was offered, and indeed it was noticed that there were
a number of women among the lookers-on, and that many others were
hobbling out of their houses, led by irresistible curiosity to get a
first look at the strangers. Abundance of wild fowl were seen along
the banks of the river, several of which were shot; and, late in the
evening, the party again reached their vessel at Ningpo, well rewarded
for the day's excursion. The small walled town of Fungwah is situated
less than thirty miles up this same branch of the river.

On the 10th of January, the General started from Ningpo, with the
object of making a descent upon Fungwah, in the expectation that some
military stores, and probably a small body of Chinese soldiers, would
be discovered. The Nemesis and Phlegethon were both employed on this
service; the former vessel carrying detachments of the 49th, 18th, and
55th regiments, with artillery, sappers and miners, and followers, and
having also on board Sir Hugh Gough and Sir William Parker, with their
suites. Several boats were also taken in tow. As the steamers could not
pass beyond the first bridge, the troops were all landed at that point,
with Sir Hugh Gough at their head, intending to march direct upon
Fungwah, while the Admiral continued to advance up the river, with the
boats carrying the seamen and marines. No opposition was met with, and
both divisions arrived simultaneously at the city walls. It was found
that the Chinese soldiers had abandoned the place, and the authorities
had also fled. The inhabitants and the neighbouring peasantry all
seemed peaceably inclined, though apparently overcome with astonishment
and curiosity. The prospect from the hills at the back of Fungwah was
very striking, and abundance of rice and other grain crops appeared to
be cultivated.

On the following morning, nothing remained to be done but to destroy
the government buildings, and to distribute the contents of the public
granaries to the people, as had been the case in other places. In the
afternoon, the whole force rejoined the steamers, and next day returned
to Ningpo.

The effect of these various movements must be viewed, not as involving
matters of military skill or courage, but as calculated to have the
most salutary effect upon the people and upon the government, not
only by the alarm which they created, but by the good feelings and
forbearance which was uniformly shewn towards the inhabitants, when in
our power, and _abandoned_ by their own authorities.

The result of the examination, by the Phlegethon and the Bentinck, of
the character of Hang-chow-foo Bay, appears at this time to have rather
discouraged the idea of advancing upon the capital by the river which
leads up to it. The tides were found to be so strong at the mouth of
the river, that it was impossible to attempt to push even a steamer up,
with any degree of safety. The Phlegethon made the attempt to enter
the river's mouth, but became perfectly unmanageable, and was very
nearly carried upon a sand-bank, where she would probably have been
lost. She was, however, got out of danger with some difficulty when the
tide slackened, which it does very suddenly in that part. But no power
of steam and sails combined was sufficient to stem the current, which
seemed to hold the vessel completely at its mercy for some minutes.

A reconnoissance of the position of Chapoo, however, sufficed to shew
that it was accessible to our ships, and could be reduced without much
difficulty; in which case, the road to Hang-chow-foo, by the hills,
would be open to us, with a good causeway the whole distance of about
fifty miles to the capital.

We may judge of the size and volume of water in most of the Chinese
rivers, by the fact, that, even at Hang-chow-foo, the river is not less
than four miles broad, opposite the city, at high water; while the
rapidity of the current may be judged of by the fact of its diminishing
to about two miles in breadth, at low water, leaving a fine level
strand as far down as the eye can reach towards the sea. This was
noticed during the short visit paid to it by Lord Macartney's embassy.

Rumours now continued to be brought, of the arrival of reinforcements
at Hang-chow-foo, and other parts of the province; and, before the
end of February, Sir Hugh Gough also received reinforcements, by the
arrival of part of the 26th regiment, in the Jupiter troop-ship. The
Cornwallis arrived at Chusan in January, for the flag of Sir William
Parker, having succeeded in beating up the whole way from Hong-Kong,
against the north-east monsoon, contrary to the anticipations of many,
who doubted whether so heavy a ship would be able to accomplish it. The
movement upon Hang-chow-foo, however, if at any time seriously thought
of, seems now to have been quite abandoned; and, as we shall presently
see, Chapoo was destined to be the grand point of attack for opening
the next campaign.

In January, Sir Henry Pottinger and Sir William Parker went over to
spend some time at Chusan, in the Nemesis, which vessel now required
considerable repairs, and was ordered to undergo a thorough refit.
It is astonishing how easily an iron vessel can be repaired. At
Amoy, a large hole had been knocked in her bottom; and from being so
continually employed in exploring rivers, running along coasts, and
landing troops, it is not surprising that some repair was required; but
it is worthy of remark, that she had been able to do her duty so long
and so well without it.

In the evening of the 5th of March, the arrival of the Clio, Captain
Troubridge, was announced, (fourteen days only from Hong-Kong,)
bringing the mails, and the joyful news of the promotions in the
service, consequent upon the taking of Canton, and the exploits in the
Canton River.

On the 7th of March the Nemesis was sent to reconnoitre Chusan, having
Captain Collinson also on board, for the purpose of making surveying
observations during the trip. They passed round the western and
northern sides of the island, and having reached Tai-shan, which is
about six or seven miles distant from it, they steamed all round that
island, looking into the different bays, and spying into the villages,
to see if they could discover a camp, or any signs of the presence of
any troops. The navigation round the island is dangerous, for there are
several rocks, at different points, barely covered with water.

At length they anchored off a small town in a bay on the south-eastern
side of the island, where several junks were seen at anchor. To the
north-east of the town stood a remarkable hill, from which it was
expected that a view of the whole island could be obtained. Here the
officers landed, with Captain Collinson's boat's crew, and part of
that of the steamer, together with eight artillery men. There was no
appearance of hostility, and they all marched on to a second village,
in which, as well as in the first one, it was asserted by the people
that there were no soldiers left in the island, as they had all gone
away to another island in the neighbourhood. The party then returned on
board, and the steamer moved up towards a creek, at which the water was
too shallow for her to enter.

In the evening Captain Collinson again landed in his gig, with a view
to ascend to the top of the hill; and so confident was he that there
were no armed men upon the island, that he declined taking an escort
with him, and was with some difficulty persuaded to allow two armed
artillerymen to follow him, and was himself quite unarmed. Lieutenant
Bates accompanied him. Scarcely had they reached the top of the hill,
and were beginning to take their observations, when a large body of
armed Chinese were observed, emerging from their hiding-places in
the creek in which they had landed, which was at a point about two
and a half miles from the steamer. Evidently their intention was to
cut off their retreat, and make them prisoners. Flight was therefore
the only resource, and had it not been for the assistance of the two
artillerymen, they would have stood little chance of effecting their
retreat to the boat. These two men, however, by coolly retreating
alternately, the one firing, while the other reloaded as he withdrew
towards the landing-place, managed to keep the Chinese in check, so
that Captain Collinson reached the boat in safety.

It was now a question what steps were best to be taken on the following
day; for there could be little doubt that if the steamer left the
island without landing a body of men to attack the Chinese soldiers,
who evidently were in force, a report would be sent to the Emperor
of a great victory having been gained, in which the barbarians were,
of course, driven into the sea, and their vessels sent away from the
coast. It was therefore resolved to _make an impression_ upon them;
and accordingly at five o'clock in the morning, the four boats of
the steamer, manned and armed, under Captain Collinson and Captain
Hall, with Lieutenant Bates, Mr. Freeze, and other officers of the
ship, pushed off from the vessel, and proceeded up the creek. They
had also eight artillerymen with them; and the two engineers likewise
volunteered their services. The party numbered altogether sixty-six,
including officers.

About two miles and a half up the creek they discovered a number of
transport junks, crowded with Chinese soldiers, with their banners
flying. A little distance from the banks of the creek, which gradually
sloped up towards some detached houses above, were posted another body
of the enemy; altogether, there were probably five or six hundred men.

Gradually, as the boats advanced, the soldiers who had not before
landed joined the other body on shore, and commenced a distant fire of
ginjals and matchlocks, without doing any mischief. It was, however,
returned by the boats as they neared them, and their crews were just
about to land, when a thick smoke was observed to issue from one of the
nearest troop boats. It immediately occurred that this might arise from
a train having been laid to blow up the boats if they should be taken
possession of. It was therefore thought prudent to land a little lower

The moment the boats began to descend, the Chinese, thinking they were
retreating, set up a loud shout, and advanced upon them, brandishing
their spears in defiance, thinking that the victory was already won.
In this they were soon to be undeceived. Our men all landed as quickly
as possible, and were formed into two columns; the right, or advanced
one, led by Captain Hall himself, and the left by Mr. Freeze (mate
R.N.), the chief officer of the Nemesis. Immediately they were ordered
to advance, the Chinese began to waver at their bold front, and the
first volley poured into them, within pistol-shot, completely put
them to flight. They were now so closely pursued that their military
chest was captured, in charge of a mandarin and two soldiers, who were
killed. The prize was found to consist of only two thousand dollars,
but even that was a pleasant addition to the prize fund. The Chinese
were pursued for some distance, about fifty of them being left upon
the field, and eight taken prisoners. The houses on the rising ground
above, in which some of the soldiers had been quartered, and also
several of the transport junks in the creek, were immediately set on

After collecting some of the scattered arms, as trophies of victory,
the little party again returned to the steamer, the Chinese having
been totally dispersed. She rejoined the Admiral, at Chusan, the same

So far this little gallant affair had been perfectly successful, in
discovering the rendezvous of the Chinese; but it was believed that
many of their soldiers had already crossed over to Chusan, disguised as
peasants, in readiness to act in concert with other parties, whenever
the attack should be made on the island. Captain Collinson was,
therefore, sent back again in the Bentinck, with orders to prevent the
escape of the soldiers from the island of Tai-shan, and the Nemesis was
directed to follow as soon as she could get in her fuel.

It was now discovered that the Chinese had managed to extinguish the
flames in their boats before they were seriously injured, and had by
this means made their escape over to Chapoo. But the Admiral afterwards
made a personal examination of the island, with a party of seamen and
marines of the Cornwallis. No military depôt was discovered, but two
government stations were completely destroyed. The effect of this
spirited discomfiture of the Chinese, at Tai-shan, was to secure Chusan
from future hostile attacks.

The assembling of these troops so close to Chusan was, doubtless,
connected with the grand scheme of attack upon all our positions, which
was attempted, at this very time, more particularly against Ningpo and
Chinhae. It was probably also well known to the Chinese that Sir Hugh
Gough was absent at Chusan, whither he had proceeded, in consequence of
rumours afloat concerning the projected attack on that place.

The Chinese seem to have planned their attacks remarkably well; but so
many reports had been before brought in, of some projected operations
by the Chinese, that at length very little attention came to be paid
to them; and when it was positively asserted by Mr. Gutzlaff, the
interpreter, on the evening of the 9th, that, from certain information
which he had received, there could be no doubt of a grand attack being
resolved on that very night, no one really believed that anything of
a serious nature would occur. It was doubted whether the Chinese,
after their recent defeats, would have the moral courage to become
themselves the _aggressors_. There were no external indications of any
preparations for an attack, although some of the inhabitants were seen
leaving the town on that day; and many of the tradesmen, with whom our
men were in the habit of dealing, plainly told them that they would
have hot work that night. All this was treated merely as a specimen of
Chinese bravado.

It is remarkable that we should have had no certain tidings of the
collection and preparation of such a vast number of fire-rafts and
vessels, higher up the river, as soon proved to have been the case, for
the iron steamers might at all times have been sent up, to ascertain
how far any such reports were well grounded. The fact is, the Chinese
_did_ take us a little by surprise, and that is often the result of
holding an enemy too cheap, and having too great a confidence in
one's own resources. Circumstances favoured them to a certain extent;
the smallness of our force rendered it impossible to keep a line of
sentries along the whole circuit of the walls, which were nearly
five miles round; the extent and nearness of the suburbs beyond the
gates gave the enemy an easy approach without being observed, and the
darkness of the night favoured the attempt.

The first intimation of the attack was by the firing of two guns which
the Chinese had brought down to the river's bank, against H.M.S.
Columbine, which, together with the Modeste, was anchored before the
town, as were also the H.C. steamers, Queen and Sesostris. This was
at half-past twelve, P.M. But the firing was not repeated, (it having
probably been only meant for a signal,) and nothing further occurred
until about three o'clock; but, by this time, the garrison were under

Four fire-rafts were now discovered dropping down the river, from its
south-western branch, (leading to Fungwah,) towards the Sesostris; and,
but for the quickness with which one of her cables was slipped, and the
assistance of her own boats, aided by two other boats from the Modeste,
in towing them clear towards the shore, they would have been across the
hawse of the Sesostris. Fortunately the rafts took the ground clear of
the steamer, and exploded without doing any mischief.

All this time, the Chinese kept up a fire of small arms from the
banks of the river, but without effect. But the Modeste, which was a
little lower down the river, below the Sesostris, opened her broadside
upon the eastern suburb, with the object of stopping the advance of
the Chinese in that direction, and on the following morning it was
discovered that her fire had demolished the walls of one or two houses,
which fell in, and disabled the gun which had been brought down on
purpose to attack the Modeste.

So far, then, the attempt upon the river-side proved a total failure;
but it served as a signal for the general attack upon the town, which
began simultaneously at the southern and western gates. The extreme
darkness of the night rendered it at first impossible for those who
were at a distance to ascertain the precise points of attack. The
principal assault, in the first instance, seems to have been upon the
south gate, from within and without at the same time. The alarm was
given, the bugles sounded throughout the town, and word was brought to
Colonel Morris, who commanded the garrison, that the guard at the south
gate had been driven in, and the same intelligence was also brought to
Colonel Montgomerie, commanding the Madras artillery, who were already
under arms upon the ramparts.

A company of the 49th, under Captain M'Andrew, was immediately ordered
up by Colonel Morris towards the south gate, which they were to retake,
if it was found to have been carried by the enemy. At the same time,
Colonel Montgomerie, with two howitzers, and a party of artillerymen
armed with fusils, commanded by Captain Moore, and reinforced by a
strong patrol of the 18th, under Lieutenant Murray, proceeded also
towards the south gate, which he now found in the possession of Captain
M'Andrew and his company, who had gallantly _retaken_ the gate, after
charging down the street which led to it, driving the Chinese before
him with the bayonet, and killing a great many of them. The Chinese
had penetrated as far as the market-place; many of them had scaled the
walls, and were seen upon the ramparts; but upon being challenged, and
seeing the troops advancing, most of them jumped back again over the
ramparts, and in this way many were killed, or were shot at random as
they were seen running away. Thus the south gate was completely cleared.

There is reason to believe that a good number of the Chinese soldiers
must have previously come into the town in disguise, for the gates
were attacked simultaneously both _from within_ and _from without_.
The movements of the Chinese were so well concerted, that their
approach was not discovered until they actually attacked the gates,
and gallantly succeeded in _scaling the walls_. Had not the alarm been
given by the firing of the ships in the river, and had the Chinese
been well officered, it would have caused us heavy fighting to have
ultimately dislodged them from the town, a part of which was, for a
few minutes, in their possession. But even their successes, such as
they were, only served to embarrass them, for they did not know how to
turn them to account. It should be remarked, however, that Sir Hugh
Gough had skilfully disposed his troops long before this event, by
concentrating them in one part of the town, where their quarters were
close to each other, and where they could be mutually supported in case
of attack.

It was afterwards discovered that the attacking party were a new
body of picked men, from a distant province, who had never yet come
into contact with our troops. Money was also found upon the persons
of those who were killed, four or five dollars upon each, which had
probably been given to them either as arrears of pay, or as a sort of
bribe or extra allowance to induce them to fight. But other incentives
were also employed, for some of the wounded prisoners were evidently
under the excitement of opium. Many of them were remarkably athletic,
fine-looking men, and everything tended to prove that this was a grand
and desperate effort.

Daylight was beginning to dawn, and the west gate was at this time
found to be the principal scene of action; indeed, it was in that
direction that the _main body_ of the Chinese seem to have advanced.
Orders had been sent to reinforce the guard at the west gate with the
grenadiers of the 49th, and Colonel Morris also hurried up to it in
person, with another company of the 49th; while Colonel Montgomerie,
with the artillery, having been joined by Colonel Mountain, with a
party of the 26th, proceeded on in the same direction.

On arriving at the west gate, it was found to have been gallantly
and successfully defended by Lieutenant Armstrong, who commanded the
guard of the 18th, assisted by a small detachment of the 49th, under
Lieutenant Grant. The enemy had attacked it in great force, rushing
boldly up to the very gate, which they attempted to force, while others
were endeavouring to scale the wall. The grenadiers of the 49th arrived
just in time to assist in completing the repulse of the Chinese.

Colonel Montgomerie, having now come up with his reinforcement, dashed
at once through the gateway in pursuit, the enemy having been driven
across a small bridge into the suburbs. Numerous dead bodies of Chinese
were found close to the gate, but they appeared to be in great force
in the suburbs, from which a smart but ineffectual fire of matchlocks
was kept up. A few shells were thrown into the suburbs from the two
howitzers; but it was evidently necessary to continue the pursuit
through the suburbs, for the Chinese appeared to be in full retreat
across a bridge at some distance down, which seemed to be the principal

Our force on the spot was extremely small, amounting, when they had all
fallen in, including artillerymen, to not more than one hundred and
twenty-six rank and file, and ten officers. But with this small force
Colonel Montgomerie determined to dash on, being assisted throughout by
Colonel Mountain, C.B., Deputy-Adjutant-General; and, accordingly, they
immediately advanced up the principal narrow street of the suburbs.
Having followed it for about half a mile, they came upon the main body
of the enemy, who crowded the whole length of the street in a dense
column, but without appearing to be at all wavering or inclined to
give way. On the contrary, a high officer on horseback was seen to
encourage the men, who set up a great shouting, and brandished their
swords and spears in defiance. But in a narrow street the dense mass
was necessarily incommoded by its own numbers, and the steady fire
of the head of our column, as they advanced upon them--one section
delivering its fire, and the next taking its place for the first to
reload--brought down all their foremost and boldest men, every shot
telling with unerring certainty. They could neither advance to charge
our column, nor could they retreat, as long as the rear of their column
chose to hold their ground.

On coming up within about fifty paces of them, the two howitzers were
ordered up to the front, while a party of the 18th, under Lieutenant
Murray and Lieutenant Molesworth, of the artillery, were ordered round
by a side lane to act upon the enemy's flank; Colonel Mountain and
Colonel Montgomerie also went round, (having first waded across a
canal,) and witnessed the terrific effect of the fire of three rounds
of grape, in quick succession, from the howitzers, which dealt terrible
havoc among them. At the same time, the detachment of the 18th fired
upon them down the lane as they fled, and a more complete scene of
discomfiture and slaughter could not be imagined.

The Chinese were soon in full flight in all directions across the
country, the main body of them retreating along the banks of a canal
in a continued line, not less than a mile long, while numerous smaller
parties broke off from the main body, and tried to escape the best way
they could. Many were supposed to have been drowned in the canal. The
pursuit was followed up for about seven or eight miles, and the loss of
the enemy was estimated altogether at not less than from five to six
hundred men, and only thirty-nine prisoners were taken. On our side,
one man only was killed, and a few were wounded. The principal loss of
the Chinese was inflicted by the fire of the howitzers upon their dense
masses, in the narrow street, and the sustained fire of our column as
it advanced upon them. Not a few, however, were killed inside the walls
of the city. The force they brought against us is supposed to have
exceeded five thousand men, consisting of their best soldiers, and a
great part of them were evidently under the excitement of opium.

Early in the morning, the boats of the Modeste and Sesostris moved
up the south-west branch of the river, in search of fire-boats, but
found none. In the afternoon, however, the boats of the Columbine,
under Captain Morshed, together with the Queen steamer, proceeded
up the other, or north-western branch, and discovered, not far up,
thirty-seven fire-vessels. They were all in a state of perfect
preparation, being filled with combustibles and jars of powder, and
also provided with _leather caps and fire-proof dresses_ for the men
who were to have the charge of them; each of them had also a small
punt, or sampan, attached, for the escape of those on board. The early
discovery of those which were first sent down, or probably their having
been sent adrift too soon down _the other branch_ of the river, had
evidently disconcerted this part of their plan. The whole of these
boats were scuttled and destroyed.

Some miles higher up, near Tsekee, many more junks, of every size
and shape, were found filled with combustibles; and still more were
discovered higher up, moored on each side of the river. It was also
observed, that on the hills opposite Tsekee, there were three Chinese
encampments, one of which was set on fire by the soldiers, as the boats
approached. In fact, it became evident that preparations of a much more
extensive kind than we could have anticipated, had been made, for one
grand combined effort to drive us into the sea, before reinforcements
could join us.

The attack upon Chinhae took place about the same time, but was much
less important in its nature, and conducted with less vigour and
resolution, than that on Ningpo. Early on the morning of the 10th
March, the alarm was given that ten fire-vessels were floating down the
river towards the ships of war and transports at anchor off Chinhae.
The boats of the Blonde and the Hyacinth, under Commander Goldsmith of
the latter vessel, and Lieutenant Dolling of the former, immediately
dashed at them, and drove them on shore, out of the way of the
shipping, where they exploded.

About the same time, a body of Chinese soldiers got up close to the
west gate of Chinhae, without being discovered, until they opened
a fire of ginjals, and attempted to force their way in. But Captain
Daubeny, with a company of the 55th, immediately sallied out of the
gate, and pursued them into the suburbs, whence they fled towards
a joss-house, or temple, about a mile from the walls, where they
joined the main body, about twelve hundred strong. Colonel Schoedde,
with three companies of the 55th, now joined Captain Daubeny, and
immediately charged them, and put them to flight. But it was very
difficult to follow, or come within musket range of them, owing to the
peculiar nature of the ground, which was cut up in all directions by
water-courses; although the labyrinths of paths and causeways were, of
course, perfectly well known to the retreating enemy. About thirty of
the Chinese and two of their officers were killed, but the number of
wounded could not be ascertained. A quantity of military weapons and
some powder were captured.

The plans of the Chinese had thus signally failed at all points of
attack; but it must be admitted that at Ningpo they shewed a great
deal of determination and personal courage, and their plans were, in
reality, very well arranged.

Information of these important attacks was immediately sent over to Sir
Hugh Gough and Sir William Parker, who were at Chusan, and induced the
General instantly to return to Ningpo. Sir William Parker also returned
as soon as he had completed his examination of the island of Tai-shan;
and he brought with him the Phlegethon and Nemesis, merely stopping at
Chinhae on the way, to pick up a few marines and small-arm men from the
Blonde. No time was then lost in pushing up the south-western branch of
the river above Ningpo, whither the General had preceded him with part
of the 18th and 49th regiments, and two guns, in order to learn if the
enemy were in force there.

Tidings had been brought to Sir Hugh Gough, that a strong body of
several thousand Chinese troops were posted not far from Fungwah,
preparatory to another descent upon Ningpo. But as soon as he had
marched about six or seven miles up, the Sesostris steamer moving
parallel with him by the river, with part of the 26th regiment on
board, positive information was obtained that the enemy had retreated
over the hills the preceding night, and that it would be useless to
attempt to follow them.

It only now remained to advance against the strong body of the Chinese
who were known to be posted along the banks of the other branch of the
river, and who were reported also to have thrown up strong entrenched
camps upon the Segoan hills, at the back of the town of Tsekee, and to
be commanded by three of their most famous generals.


A heavy blow had now been inflicted upon the Chinese, by the severe
reverses they had met with at Ningpo and at Chinhae, and by the
defeat of all their designs against Chusan. It was, therefore, a
favourable opportunity to follow up our successes and turn them to
the best advantage, before the effect of the impression already made
could have time to diminish. It was ascertained that their troops had
with difficulty been kept together after their late defeat; and it
was reported that they were about to retreat towards Pickwan, a town
situated about forty miles higher up the river, at which point they
were said to be concentrating their whole force.

Besides the force said to be encamped above Tsekee, on the Segoan
hills, it was also ascertained that another body of five or six
thousand men was posted in a fortified camp, about seven miles further
along the hills to the north-east, close to what is called the Chungkie
Pass, and that the military chest of the army was in charge of this
division. A Chinese military chest is generally not very well filled,
but still there is to a soldier something very tempting in the idea of
an enemy's _military chest_, particularly when there is a prospect of
capturing it.

On the morning of the 15th of March, the force destined for the attack,
comprising altogether little more than a thousand men, including the
battalion of seamen and marines, were embarked on board the steamers
Nemesis, Phlegethon, and Queen, from the north gate of the city;
the General and his staff, accompanied by the Admiral and other
officers, taking up their quarters on board the Nemesis, which had
been dexterously brought close into a wharf near the city gate; so
that on this occasion the troops were embarked without the necessity
of using boats. The naval brigade was commanded by Capt. Bourchier, of
the Blonde, assisted by Capt. P. Richards. There were four 8-pounder
guns of the Madras artillery, for which ponies had been trained, and
these were now sent early in the morning across from Ningpo by land,
escorted by a party of the Madras rifles; by these means the distance
was materially shortened, by cutting off a great bend of the river
above Ningpo. On reaching the nearest point, opposite Tsekee, the
artillery swam their horses across the river, and were then drawn
up in readiness to advance upon the town, which was about four miles
distant. The road to Tsekee and the nature of the country were already
well known, from the previous visit in the month of December.

Before twelve o'clock, the troops were landed from the steamers near a
village, where there was a sort of jetty convenient for the purpose;
they then formed, and marched direct up towards the city. At the same
time, the Phlegethon was sent higher up the river, together with the
Nemesis and two boats belonging to the Cornwallis and Blonde, to
endeavour to get near enough to the flank of the Chinese army, to
harass them in their retreat.

The Phlegethon started first, because the Admiral and the General, who
were on board the Nemesis, were unwilling to land, until they had seen
all the rest of the force on shore before them. But the moment the
Admiral had left the vessel, she was backed out from the landing-place,
and went up the river for some distance, stern-foremost, at full-speed,
until she could be conveniently turned.

Having passed round a considerable bend in the river, some miles above
the landing-place, they turned up a small branch or creek close to a
village, which appeared to lead round nearer to the enemy's positions.
The Phlegethon, which was some distance ahead, suddenly came upon five
gun-boats, armed and manned, at anchor close to a mandarin station,
which proved to have been used as a depôt for powder and military
stores. Fourteen fire-rafts were also discovered, and the whole of
these warlike preparations were destroyed.

As soon as the troops had marched up pretty close to Tsekee, they
proceeded to occupy a small hill directly in front of the town, and
commanding the southern gate. A few ginjals and two guns were fired at
them from the walls of the city, but at such a distance as to make it
evident that no serious defence of the place was intended. The main
body of the Chinese army was to be seen encamped upon the heights to
the northward of the town, called the Segoan Hills; and it was equally
evident that the shortest and best mode of advancing to attack them was
by first escalading the walls of the town, and then marching straight
through it to the northern gate, whence it would be easy to attack the
enemy both in front and on the flank. It was necessary to ascertain
whether the town was occupied by any considerable force (which there
was little reason to expect), and at the same time to deprive the enemy
of having the advantage of falling back upon the town when driven from
the heights. Orders were therefore given, that the naval brigade, with
a party of sappers, covered by the guns under Colonel Montgomerie,
should escalade the walls at the nearest point, while the 49th were to
blow open the south gate, and immediately join them upon the ramparts.

The 49th, on approaching the gate, found the bridge over a canal just
outside recently destroyed; but, as the water was shallow, and there
appeared to be no likelihood of meeting with any serious opposition,
they quietly crept along the canal itself, which led into the town, and
so got under the walls, upon the ramparts of which they now found the
naval brigade already drawn up.

The 18th, in the meantime, had been sent round, outside the walls,
to dislodge a body of Chinese troops who occupied a hill a little to
the north-east of the city; and they were directed to join the rest
of our force as soon as they reached the north gate. The 26th had
been held in reserve to protect the guns, and support the 49th, if
necessary. The town was, however, carried without any resistance; and
the troops having marched round the ramparts, the whole force was then
concentrated at the north gate.

It should here be noticed, that the town of Tsekee lies in a sort of
cup, or basin, surrounded almost entirely on three sides by steep
hills, being open only towards the river, or to the southward; from
the northern hills, a low spur is sent down towards the northern gate,
and terminates in a small hill within the walls. The Chinese forces
were posted upon these heights, a little to the westward of the spur
just described, but in such a position that their left was commanded by
other hills. On their right they had a second encampment, a little in
advance, on the north-western side of the town; but it was evident that
their left could be easily turned, and that they could be defeated and
completely routed, without much difficulty.

The General's first movement was to direct the 18th, with the rifles,
to proceed to occupy a hill on his right, which could only be got at by
passing through a steep ravine, but which quite commanded the Chinese'
left. As soon as they succeeded in crowning its summit, and had thus
turned the Chinese position, the naval brigade (who, in the meantime,
were to occupy two large buildings under the walls, a little on the
north-western side of the town) were to carry the hill in their front,
on which the Chinese were encamped, while the 49th were at the same
time to attack the centre of the Chinese position.

It is worthy of remark that the Chinese, with one or two trifling
exceptions, seem never to have made use of field-artillery. Of course,
where they had forts, they had guns mounted; but they did not appear
to regard artillery as a necessary part of a regular army.

On this occasion, our loss would probably have been severe, if the
heights had been defended by a numerous artillery; but they opened a
smart fire of ginjals upon the naval brigade (the Admiral himself being
at their head), as they marched across the paddy-fields outside the
walls, with the object of occupying the two large houses, under shelter
of which they were to form, in readiness for the attack. They suffered
some loss; and, as it appeared that the 18th and rifles, being impeded
by the steepness and difficulties of the gorge they had to ascend, were
longer in reaching the summit of the hill than had been expected, the
General determined to commence the attack in front without waiting for
the 18th to turn the flank of the Chinese. The advance was sounded, and
the 49th, with the General at their head, rushed up the hill; while the
naval brigade, led by Captains Bourchier and Richards, and Commander
Watson (the Admiral himself taking part in the attack), made a dash at
the other hill, upon the Chinese' right.

Some rockets were fired with great precision into the enemy's position,
by Lieutenant Fitzjames and Mr. Jackson, of the Cornwallis, but the
Chinese poured in a heavy fire of ginjals and matchlocks upon our
troops as they advanced.

The marines and seamen dashed across the paddy-field, and charged up
the hill, which was steep and rugged, with great spirit, but were
boldly met by the Chinese, who did not shrink from the contest. The
leading division soon gained the summit, and the remainder of the
brigade pushed round the sides of the hill, to cut off the retreat of
the enemy. In this encounter two officers of the Royal Marines and two
officers of the naval battalion were wounded; eleven men were also
wounded and three killed.

The General, at the head of the 49th, in the meantime carried the
hill in his front with great spirit, and detached the grenadiers,
under Major Gough, to cut off a body of Chinese who were attempting to
get up the rear of the other hill, which had already been carried in
front by the naval brigade. This division of the enemy was, therefore,
completely hemmed in, and the slaughter was unavoidably great in the
hollow at the foot of the hill.

The 49th now continued to press forward, driving the Chinese before
them in great disorder across the plain at the foot of the hills; and
the 18th and Rifles, having by this time succeeded in turning the
enemy's position on the heights, descended into the plain, and joined
the 49th and 26th in the pursuit. The whole Chinese army was now in
full flight across the plain, towards the Chungkie Pass, and just
passed within range of the Phlegethon and Nemesis, who had taken up
an excellent position in the creek, for the purpose of cutting them
off. Their guns opened fire upon the scattered fugitives, who suffered

From eight hundred to one thousand men are supposed to have been
killed, wounded, or drowned, in this engagement; every attempt was
made to spare them, but as most of these troops came from distant
provinces, and were reputed to be their best soldiers, they refused to
surrender themselves prisoners, with few exceptions. Many officers or
mandarins were killed, but only three were taken prisoners. Many of
them deliberately cut their own throats, when they saw that the day was
irretrievably lost.

Some curious and interesting documents were found, relating to their
plans and the disposal of their forces, amongst which were some public
proclamations to be distributed among the people. Upon the bodies of
many of the slain, pieces of Sycee silver were found, as had been the
case at Ningpo, a few days before.

The strength of the Chinese army was estimated at from seven to eight
thousand men, part of which appeared to be a picked body, said to
belong to the Emperor's guard; they were fine, athletic, powerful men.
It was also remarked that their arms were of a superior description;
several improvements had been adopted; and the bow and arrow, once the
favourite weapon of the Tartar soldier, had been laid aside on this

As usual, several personal encounters took place; the Chinese not
fearing to engage single-handed with their foe, or to measure their
sword with that of our officers. In one of these combats, Mr. Hodgson,
mate of the Cornwallis, was wounded, not far from the Admiral. Colonel
Mountain was in some danger of being run through, but was saved by a
timely shot from one of the 18th. The clothes of the slain were in some
instances ignited by their matches, and produced, as on some other
occasions, a revolting spectacle.

The night was passed, by our gallant little force, in the tents from
which the Chinese had been driven, and which were found to contain
plenty of warm coverings and provisions, &c. There were stores of rice,
and bread (cakes), and flour, in abundance.

Besides the loss already mentioned, the 49th had three officers
and four men wounded. Some of our officers were wounded severely,
Lieutenant Lane having had his arm amputated upon the field.

On the following morning, at daylight, the grain magazines in the
town, belonging to government, were opened to the people, and, as
might be expected, were rapidly emptied. A large quantity of ginjals,
matchlocks, and other warlike implements, were also collected upon the
battle-field, and were nearly all destroyed. Among other curiosities
were nine newly-invented brass tubes, of about three pounds calibre,
and thirty-nine pounds weight, each with two handles; they had never
been used, but were apparently intended to fire grape-shot. They were
curiously bound round with catgut, and were probably to be fired
while held between two men, as they were provided with handles for
the purpose. One of them was given to Captain Hall, by the Admiral,
and has since been deposited, with other Chinese weapons, at Windsor.
Twenty-three guns were also captured, principally upon the walls of the

As the enemy had retreated towards the Chungkie Pass, about six or
seven miles distant to the north-west, where it was reported that
another fortified encampment had been formed, Sir Hugh Gough moved in
advance, about one o'clock on the following day, the 16th; but having
reached the foot of the hills, the position was found completely
abandoned, although it was by nature a strong one. Dispositions were
made for the attack, but none of the enemy were discovered, and
consequently the hoped-for military chest was not captured. The Chinese
had only just withdrawn, for they had left behind them some ammunition,
and a supply of inferior bread, which is tolerably eatable, however,
after a long march.

Having halted about two or three hours for rest, and after setting fire
to all the buildings, our little army returned to the town of Tsekee
the same evening.

It is proper here to remark that the peasantry, and the inhabitants
generally, except where they happened casually to be intermingled with
the soldiers during the flight, shewed little concern as to the fate of
their countrymen. They appeared to be more astonished than frightened,
particularly at the swimming of the horses of the artillery across the
river, and then seeing them harnessed to the guns.

The town of Tsekee suffered very little. A large pawnbroker's shop was
one of the greatest curiosities, being filled with furs, silks, &c. It
was a large, extensive building, like a warehouse, as is commonly the
case in China, and it afforded excellent quarters.

This engagement upon the heights of Segoan has been considered, by
military men, as the most scientifically conducted affair which
occurred during the war. Its success, at all events, was complete;
and the Chinese army, which was now concentrated to the southward of
Hang-chow-foo, for the purpose of covering the provincial capital,
against which we were expected to advance, was said to be with much
difficulty kept together, and to be in great want of supplies. The
orders of the emperor, that the province which was the seat of the war
for the time should defray all its expenses, excited much discontent,
as might be expected.

Any proposed plan of advancing upon Hang-chow-foo which might have been
thought of was now abandoned, and the great river, the Yangtze-Keang,
was designed to be the principal seat of operations during the ensuing
campaign. The vast inland trade passing through this main artery of the
empire would be stopped; the traffic by the Grand Canal would be at our
mercy; and there seemed every reason to expect that the presence of a
large military and naval force, in the heart of the country, would lead
the haughty Chinese cabinet to listen to terms of peace, which we hoped
to dictate under the walls of the ancient Chinese capital, the imperial
Nankin, the depository of the ashes of many of the ancient Emperors of
China. Some, however, looked forward to a hoped-for advance upon Pekin,
the great Tartar capital, by the river Peiho. The result, however,
ultimately proved the wisdom of the former plan of operations.

During the months of April and May, reinforcements continued to
arrive to strengthen the expedition, and the belief was general that
it was determined to put an end to the war as soon as possible, by
some means or other. A fresh corps of Bengal volunteers, a remarkably
fine body of men, arrived from Calcutta; the 41st and the 2nd native
infantry arrived from Madras, with a reinforcement of artillery, and
a few horses for the guns. Several steamers and ships of war, with
transports, continued to join in succession--namely, the Vixen from
England, and the Tenasserim, Auckland, Ariadne, Medusa, and the little
Hooghly steamers, belonging to the East India Company, from Bombay and
Calcutta, all well armed, and some of them peculiarly adapted for river

The Chinese, finding that they met with no success against us in the
open field, turned their attention more strongly than ever to their two
most notable schemes, of kidnapping our men, one by one, and destroying
our ships by means of fire-rafts. Large rewards continued to be offered
for the capture of our high officers; but their successes in this
system were confined to the men, some of whom were occasionally carried
off and a few were put to death in the most barbarous and inhuman
manner. Indeed, it was not till after the capture of Chapoo (the next
engagement to be described) that the Chinese began to treat their
prisoners with a little kindness and mercy.

Many stories of the cleverness of the Chinese in carrying off
prisoners, and of the treatment the latter afterwards met with, are
familiar to the reader. Towards the close of the war, they were
generally pretty well taken care of, for the Chinese could not be
insensible to the kind treatment their countrymen met with when they
fell into our hands. I remember being nearly caught once at Chusan,
just at the close of the war; and the very next day, an attack was
made upon two of our officers, who made an excursion in the same
direction, and had a very narrow escape. Captain Wellesley, R.N., and
Ensign Shadwell, of the 55th, were surrounded at less than a mile from
the city gate. The latter shot one of the Chinamen in the breast with
a pistol, (a _single_ pistol is always useless,) but was immediately
taken prisoner by the others, who were probably soldiers disguised
as peasants. His arms were pinioned, and he was dragged along _by
the legs_. In the meantime, Captain Wellesley, instead of firing his
pistol, judiciously ran off towards the city gate, to call out the
guard; and the moment the Chinese saw them advancing, they threw down
their prisoner and decamped. He was thus saved.

On some occasions, the Chinese kidnappers had the worst of it, and were
themselves captured: these were principally sent down to Hong-Kong to
work in chains, but some were kept in prison at Chusan. The respectable
inhabitants, however, were anxious to bring about a more peaceable
state of things, and they stated that the kidnappers were not natives
of the island, but people sent over purposely from the mainland. It was
evident that some secret influence was at work among the people, and
that they still dreaded the power of their own authorities, and were
instigated to annoy us.

At length, the Chinese became better disposed, and then took to the
amusement of making caricatures of us. Many spirited things of this
sort were hawked about, rudely executed and strangely coloured, but
withal amusing specimens of Chinese drollery. The two annexed sketches,
one of an encounter between our own soldiers and the Tartars, and
the other of an English foraging party, are accurately reduced from
the original Chinese caricatures, and shew more evidence of fun and
quickness than we should have expected among so grave a people. There
were many others equally amusing. At Ningpo, they made a sort of little
peep show of the General and his staff, intended to be a correct
representation of them in little figures. That of Sir Hugh Gough, with
his beautiful long, grey locks, was fairly done. A capital full-length
picture, in oil, of the General was afterwards executed at Macao by a
Chinese artist, who had been regularly instructed.




The more the Chinese came to mix with us and to be acquainted with our
character, the more they seemed to fall into our ways; and we cannot
but think that, at no distant period, amicable relations will be
established, without difficulty, upon an intimate footing. It has often
been remarked, that in many respects they resemble Englishmen in their
mercantile, industrious habits, their ingenuity, and their readiness
to combine together for useful purposes, their independent spirit, and
their love of argument. They differ materially from all other eastern
nations with which we have hitherto come in contact.

As soon as the Nemesis had undergone some necessary repairs, (for which
purpose she was beached upon the sands at Trumball Island,) she was
ordered to explore all the neighbouring islands between Chusan and the
Main in search of fire-vessels, or of other warlike preparations. She
was joined by H.M.S. Clio, which was, however, left at anchor at Keeto
Point, Captain Troubridge himself coming on board the Nemesis, and
bringing one of his boats, manned and armed. In almost every island
or bay they visited along the so-called Nimrod's Channel, Gough's
Passage, Mesan Island, and other parts to the southward of Chusan, an
immense number of fire-boats, in different stages of preparation, were
discovered and destroyed; and wherever any opposition was offered, the
neighbouring hamlets were burnt.

Two or three days were occupied in this important service, during
which the Nemesis had her false rudder carried away; and, owing in a
great measure to this accident, and to the remarkable strength of the
currents, as she was attempting to pass between the island of Luhwang
and another small one lying off its eastern point, the current caught
her bows, and threw her heavily, _broadside onto the rocks_. The
vessel was soon got off again, but she had bilged in the starboard
coal-bunker. The water was pouring in fast, but it was thought that the
engine-pumps would suffice to keep it under, until a good sandy beach
could be found to run her ashore upon. But the water gained so fast
upon the pumps that the fire would not burn much longer, so that it was
necessary to run her ashore upon the nearest beach. As the tide ebbed,
the water ran out again through the leak; and then by digging a deep
hole in the sand, it was easy to get down below the ship's bottom, and
stop the leak from the outside.

A great many fire-boats had been destroyed upon the island that day;
and, as it was known to be occupied by a body of Chinese soldiers, a
military mandarin on horseback having also been observed superintending
the completion of the fire-boats, it was possible that an attack might
be made on the vessel at night, and it was therefore prudent to hasten
the repairs. The rent was full three feet in length, but it was filled
up with stout wedges of wood, covered with oakum, and driven firmly
into it _from the outside_.

To prevent any surprise by the Chinese, sentries were posted upon
the neighbouring hills, to give warning of their approach; and, by
way of being beforehand with them, a requisition was sent up to the
principal village, written in Chinese, by a Chinese servant on board,
demanding from the head men, or elders of the place, a supply of
provisions--namely, a couple of bullocks, a dozen geese, two or three
dozen ducks and fowls, and so forth; and _threatening_ to pay a hostile
visit to the village next day, if they did not comply. After some
deliberation, all these things were promised; so that the authorities,
instead of planning an attack upon the vessel, or any attempt upon the
men during the night, had quite enough to do to collect these supplies
by the following morning. In the meantime, the vessel was repaired
and got off again. Information of the accident was, however, conveyed
to the Admiral by the Clio's boat; and he immediately sent down the
Phlegethon, with the launch of the Cornwallis, to render assistance. By
the time they arrived in the morning, the vessel was already, to their
astonishment, prepared to proceed to Chusan, where she arrived in the
course of the day.

Information of the intended attack on our shipping at Chusan had been
obtained by Captain Dennis, the military magistrate of Tinghai, late
that evening, and was by him communicated to the Admiral. Orders were
therefore sent to the different ships of war and transports, to be upon
the alert, and have all their boats in readiness. The Nemesis was the
only vessel to which the information was accidentally not conveyed;
probably because it was thought she was ashore.

A little after eleven, P.M., three divisions of fire-rafts were
observed drifting down towards the shipping, from the eastern end of
the harbour, some from the direction of Sincamoon, close along the
island of Chusan, some between Macclesfield and Trumball islands, where
the Nemesis lay, and others again outside the latter, by the Sarah
Galley passage. The first intimation of their approach was given by
two lights being observed at some distance; this led to a suspicion of
fire-rafts, and by the time the men had got to quarters, several of the
fire-vessels burst into flames; others were gradually set on fire,
and were seen to take the three different directions before described.
Nearly twenty of them drifted down between the islands off which the
Nemesis lay; and as they gradually came within range, her guns opened
on them, to try to drive them on shore. There was a small boat ahead
of each raft, under sail, and with men in it to tow the rafts in the
required direction.

The Nemesis was of course in considerable danger; for the rafts or
fire-boats were chained two and two together, so as to hang across the
ship's bows. Steam was got up as quick as possible, the cable was ready
to be slipped in case of need, and the steamer's boats were sent out to
tow the rafts clear, as they were rapidly bearing down upon her, with a
strong ebb-tide. They were all in a complete blaze as they drifted past
on either side of her; and so close were they, that it was necessary to
wet the decks and the side of the vessel continually, on account of the
great heat. Her guns continued to fire at them, in order to sink them,
if possible.

Other divisions of the fire-rafts, which came down the passages before
described, were driven ashore by the boats of the squadron, and blew
up, without doing any mischief to our shipping. Altogether, between
fifty and sixty of them at least had been sent down, from the eastern
side of the harbour; but it was reported that another division of them
was to come down by the western side, from the direction of Sing Kong,
as soon as the tide turned; a division of boats, under Lieutenant Wise,
of the Cornwallis, was therefore sent to endeavour to find them out
and destroy them at once. They were soon discovered, to the number of
thirty, at anchor off a sandy beach, outside of Bell Island, and their
destined work of mischief was frustrated.

On the following morning, the Nemesis and Phlegethon steamers were
again sent to search through all the adjacent islands; and the
Nemesis succeeded in discovering many more fire-boats, which were now
destroyed, upon the different islands; stacks of fire-wood and other
combustible materials, which had been collected for the purpose, were
likewise set on fire. In one village, there were a number of boats half
filled with combustible materials; and the whole village was put into
an uproar when the crew of the steamer began to set fire to them. It
turned out that they had been pressed into service by the mandarins,
and the people naturally wished to save their boats, on which their
livelihood depended. Only one poor old woman, however, was permitted to
retain her boat, for they might all have been pressed by the mandarins

A party of armed seamen and marines were now sent up towards a hill
in the rear of the village, along which a number of men had been seen
retiring, and amongst them a military mandarin, which made it probable
that they were soldiers. The Chinese made a hasty retreat, but the
mandarin was observed to try to hide himself behind a tombstone while
he pulled off his warm jacket, and nearly all his clothes, and lastly
his satin boots, and then giving them to a man who attended him, away
he ran for his life down the hill on the opposite side, so that there
was no chance of overtaking him.

The Phlegethon had been sent in an opposite direction; but on that side
no fire-boats were discovered, notwithstanding the active exertions of
Lieutenant M'Cleverty. Altogether not less than one hundred fire-boats
were destroyed on these different occasions, besides those which had
been previously destroyed by the Nemesis, and the boat of the Clio.
How many Chinese lost their lives in the affair it is impossible to
say; but many of them must have been drowned in attempting to escape
on shore, after the fire-rafts burst into flames. In fact, in all the
numerous little sheltered bays among those islands, fire-rafts were
destroyed in greater or lesser numbers.

On one occasion, and without any warning, the Nemesis ran at full
speed, and at high water, upon a dangerous conical-shaped rock, off
the north-eastern extremity of Deer Island, near the southern coast
of Chusan, although she had frequently been through the same passage
before without having discovered the danger. The tide began to fall
almost immediately she struck, so that she was left with her bows high
and dry, and her stern deep in the water, while she had seven fathoms
close alongside of her. It was a remarkable position for a vessel to be
placed in; part of her bottom was completely clear of the rock and the
water too, the vessel being only held by its extremities; and when the
tide rose, every attempt to haul her off proved ineffectual. A large
indentation, or hollow, was supposed to have been made where she rested
upon the rock, which of course held her fast.

The only resource was to try to float her off, by fairly lifting her
up, with the help of large casks and junks. The launch and pinnace of
the Cornwallis having been sent to her assistance, eight large casks
were got out, and boats were sent out to press half-a-dozen of the
largest Chinese trading junks to assist in the operation. As soon as
they were brought alongside, the vessel was lightened, strong hawsers
were passed under her bottom, and were secured over the bows of three
junks, placed on either side, and then carried aft round the junk's
quarter, and thence led forward and secured round the mast. By these
means, as the tide rose, the junks fairly lifted the head of the
steamer off the rock, and she was launched into her own element without
having sustained any material injury.

From what has been already stated, it will be readily inferred that the
navigation of the Chusan islands is intricate, and not unattended with

Perhaps the most curious and interesting of all these islands is the
consecrated island of Pooto, situated very near the eastern end of
Chusan, and only about sixteen miles distant from the town of Tinghai.
It is a small rocky island, broken up into numerous picturesque valleys
and romantic glens, the hollows of which are richly cultivated, and
abounding in trees and aromatic shrubs; while from the steep and rugged
heights a most beautiful prospect presents itself on every side, the
waters around it being studded with almost innumerable islands as
far as the eye can reach. But it is most celebrated for its numerous
temples, of which there are said to be nearly four hundred, (but this
number is probably exaggerated,) dedicated to the idolatrous worship of
Foo, or Budha. The whole island is, in fact, a large monastery, divided
into many brotherhoods. "All the sumptuous and extensive buildings of
this island," says Medhurst, "are intended for no other purpose than
to screen wooden images from the sun and rain; and all its inhabitants
are employed in no other work than the recitation of unmeaning prayers,
and the direction of useless contemplations towards stocks and stones;
so that human science and human happiness would not be in the least
diminished if the whole of Pooto, with its gaudy temples and lazy
priests, were blotted out from the face of the creation." Each of
the priests is furnished with a _string of beads_, which he keeps
continually fingering; and as he counts them, he repeats the same dull
monotonous exclamation, "O-me-to-Fuh." The solid rocks are engraven
with Budhist titles, and the whole island is under the spell of the
almost talismanic words, "O-me-to-Fuh."

Several of the temples are very extensive and highly ornamented,
although they begin to bear the marks of falling greatness. At a
distance they look very imposing; but on nearer inspection, some of
them are found to be more or less tumbling to decay; in short, the
priests are no longer wealthy, and the visits of superstitious votaries
to the island are less numerous than formerly, and consequently the
revenues have diminished. There are few places, however, better worth
visiting by an inquiring traveller; and three or four days could
be spent upon the island with great pleasure and some profit. The
temples are gaudily ornamented, and sometimes elegantly planned. You
are struck with the succession of shrines, one within the other, the
huge gilded statues of Budha, and the monstrous images by which they
are surrounded and attended. The temples are generally built in a
hollow, or at the bottom of a valley, so that the different shrines or
buildings of the principal monasteries rise one above the other, being
built on the declivity of the mountain's side, which terminates in
the valley. The yellow tiles of some of them indicate former imperial
protection. The most picturesque sites have been chosen for them,
and even caverns in the rocks have in some parts been turned into a
succession of gilded temples.

There are good causeways leading to every part of the island; on every
crag there is either a temple or a little image; the gardens are laid
out with extreme care and neatness; and were you not startled by the
gross idolatry which surrounds you, and repelled by the dull, vacant,
half-idiotic look of ignorant superstition stamped upon the countenance
of every man you meet, you might be almost tempted to believe that
it is a rich and happy,--a favoured and contented spot. Some of the
temples are very striking, and might be called beautiful. In one of
them was a very large library for the use of the monks; but, as far
as I could judge, the books appeared to have been little, if at all


[62] There are three religions systems prevailing in China, and
tolerated by the government--viz., those of Confucius, of Laoutze, and
of Budha. The two former were contemporaries, and flourished about five
hundred years before the Christian era. That of Budha was introduced
from India, very soon after the beginning of our era, and gained such
hold among the common people of China, that it is now the general
superstition of all the lower classes, and its showy temples and gilded
images abound throughout the land. Confucius, on the other hand, was
simply a political and moral philosopher, and in his temples no images
are found; but he was a politician, and was employed in the public
service, _long before he became a moralist_.

Laoutze was a contemplative enthusiast, who taught the cultivation
of reason, abstraction from the world, self-denial, &c.; and then
wandered into the absurdities of magic arts and demoniac possessions.
Nevertheless, he is said to have had some glimmerings of a future
state. His followers are in the present day called the sect of Taou.

The Budhism of China probably differs little from that of India; the
daily prayers are repeated in a language of which the priests do not
understand a syllable. In the temple are the three huge Budhas--the
Past, the Present, and the Future; with a Goddess of Mercy, a God of
War, a God of Wealth, and others. There is, in front of the altar, a
large bronze cauldron, for burning gilt paper; and a huge drum and a
bell, to awaken the especial attention of the god. Such are the temples
of Pooto.

In cases of extreme emergency, as during the prevalence of great
drought and threatened famine, the Emperor orders prayers to be offered
up in the temples of all the three sects, for a cessation of the evil.
But the Confucian is the system of religion to which the Emperor and
his court adhere.


At the commencement of the month of May, 1842, it became generally
understood, that a movement was very soon to be made upon Chapoo, which
was to be followed by the advance of the whole expedition up the great
Yangtze river. Ningpo, however, is deserving of one or two further
observations, for it is one of the most important trading cities in
China; and, from its position, and its vicinity to several large and
wealthy cities, such as Hang-chow-foo, Soo-chow-foo, and others which
border upon the Imperial Canal, there is every reason to believe, that
an extensive trade will soon be opened there.

Ningpo lies at the distance of only fifty miles from the trading town
of Chapoo, which possesses a monopoly of the whole trade with Japan
and Corea. Hence there is reason to believe, that our manufactures
will soon find their way into these latter countries, (which have
hitherto excluded the foreigner, more pertinaciously even than the
Chinese,) indirectly by way of Ningpo; and, that, in a few years, many
articles expressly adapted for the Japan market, will be ordered to be
manufactured in this country, and sent to Chinese merchants at Ningpo.
This city is famous for its silks, which are very beautiful of their
kind; and the shops are elegant, and well supplied with all kinds of
Chinese manufactures. It is a wealthier and much handsomer town than
Amoy, and is much superior in commercial importance, to Foo-chow-foo,
another of the newly-opened ports. Large junks are even built on the
Ningpo river, and the people have always shewn a great disposition to
trade with foreigners. Indeed, this is the case in every part of China
where the people have not been held back by their mandarins.

Mr. Gutzlaff, in one of his early voyages, obtained a list of all
the foreign ships which had formerly visited Ningpo, and found their
number to be considerable; and it was stated to him that some of the
very old people still retained a faint recollection of the foreigners.
The Portuguese traded at this place in the sixteenth century, and the
English had a factory there as late as the middle of the last century.
It was finally pulled down in 1759, and all foreign trade was then
absolutely prohibited, by express orders from Pekin.

The principal objection made by the government at that time to permit
trade at Ningpo, was simply "the loss of the imperial revenue,
accruing from the overland carriage of tea and other goods, to and from
Canton." Add to this, the great extortions of the local officers, who
here, as well as at Chusan, demanded such exorbitant fees and bribes,
that it was found impossible to carry on trade with any chance of

It was at Ningpo that the Jesuit missionaries first set foot in China;
and thence, making their way to Pekin, succeeded, by _good policy_,
scientific acquirements, and conciliatory demeanour, in winning the
good-will of the people, and the toleration of the government. This
was towards the end of the seventeenth century. For a time they
possessed great influence; and sanguine expectations were entertained
of the valuable results of their labours, and of the rich fruits which
would ripen to maturity, as soon as the tree of Christianity which
they planted in China, should spread its roots throughout the land.
Various causes conspired to produce their downfal in China, principally
connected with the political state of Europe at that time. But it
has been well observed by Sir George Staunton, in his preface to the
translation of the Penal Code of China, that "the extinction of the
order of Jesuits in that country, caused the adoption of a plan of
conversion more _strict_, and probably more orthodox, but in the same
proportion, more unaccommodating to the prejudices of the people, and
more alarming to the jealousy of the government. Generally speaking,
it threw the profession _into less able hands_, and the cause of
Christianity and of Europe lost much of its lustre and influence. The
Jesuits were generally artists or men of science, as well as religious

Ultimately, the teaching of Christianity at Pekin was strictly
prohibited, and particular objection was made to the printing or
translation of books into the _Chinese and Tartar languages_; and, in
1805, all books of this kind were ordered to be seized and destroyed,
and the Tartar subjects were specially exhorted to attend to the
language of their own country, and the admonitions of their own
government; and, above all, to _practise riding and archery_, and
to study the works of the learned and virtuous, and particularly to
observe all the _social duties_.

On the 7th of May,