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to draw upon me. I neither am myself his debtor, nor do I hold the funds of any third party who is." But what was the answer of the English Government, when summoned to make good the engagements of their agent? Did they say boldly-" We disavow this agent we disown this debt: we desire that these bills may be noted and protested?" No: but evasively, perfidiously, as speaking to ruined men, they reply:-" Oh, really, we have not funds to meet these bills; and, if we should go to Parliament for funds, we have a notion that there will be the deuce to pay for contracting so large a debt!" Like a riotous heir, they dare not show to their public guardians the wild havoc of funds which they have authorized.
The sole evasion of this argument would be, if it could be alleged that the bills were bad bills, that they were given without a consideration. But that can be maintained only by those who are misinformed as to the facts. Were it the case that Lin could have seized the opium, though in honour the Government would still be answerable for the acts of their agent, and though a contract is a contract, still it might have been said that the British merchants, after all, had been placed in no worse situation by the act of Captain Elliot. But, as the case really stands, the total loss-every shilling of it was a pure creation of Elliot's. The ships were not in the situation of an army having to stand the hazard of a battle before they could carry off the contested property; in which case it might have been wise to pay some fine for escaping a struggle, however certain the issue. No: they had but to raise their anchors and spread their sails; a lunar month would have seen the opium safe in the waters of Bengal, from which it would have been landed to await the better market of the following year.
But, say some extravagant people, the Chinese had the right of seizure, though not the power to enforce that right; and the inference which they would wish us to draw from that is, that it was the duty of the British merchants to show respect for the laws and maritime rights of China. What! at the cost of two and a half millions sterling? Verily, the respect for China must be somewhat idolatrous which would express itself on this
magnificent scale. But, waiving that, mark the reply: Nobody doubts the right of China to seize contraband goods when they are landed, or in the course of landing; because, by that time the final destination of the goods is apparent. And our own Govern ment at home-but having power to sustain their claim-go somewhat further; they make prize at sea of cargoes which are self-demonstrated as contraband. But who in his senses ever held the monstrous doctrine, that a smuggler is under some obligation of conscience to sail into an English port, and there deliver up his vessel as a victim to the majesty of the offended revenue laws? The very most that China could in reason have asked was, that the opium ships should sail away, and not hover on the coasts. Even this is a great deal more than China had a right to ask-conceding also throughout that China had not herself for years invited this contraband commerce, cherished it, nursed it, honoured it-because it is certain that a maritime kingdom, without a revenue fleet, has no more right to complain of smugglers in its defensive diplomacy, than offensively it has to declare a port or a line of coast under blockade without bona fide efforts and means to enforce that blockade. Certainly not, it will be said; and the English opium ships were acting under no recognised maritime law when they so foolishly surrendered their cargoes. But it will be alleged in apology for that rash surrender, that perhaps it might not be merely the Elliot indemnification which persuaded them to this act— that barely made it a safe act. What made it a politic act was probably the belief, that, for any less price, they could not purchase back the general renewal of Chinese commerce. now we come to the truth. This was the equivalent, beyond a doubt, understood between Lin and Elliot, as the condition upon which the surrender was to take effect. Well understood, most assuredly it was; and if it was not expressed, was not reduced to writing, the blame of that is to be divided (in such proportions as may hereafter be settled) between the confiding folly of our English dupe and the exquisite knavery of the Celestial Lin. Non nostrum tantas componere lites.
We have stated these two dilemmas
more diffusely-and yet not diffusely, since nothing has been said twice over; but more, however, in detail than else might have been necessary-because a transaction of this kind, unless kept steadily before the eye for some time, is too easily forgotten, and no proper impression of its nature is retained. But the broad result from the whole is that Lin used Captain Elliot as an engine for cheating Englishmen; the roasting chestnuts could not be extracted from the fire: Lin knew that: he was well aware that he must have burned his own paws in attempting it; and, like the monkey in the fable, he wisely used Elliot as his cat's-paw. 2dly, That Lin also cheated the English out of that commerce, the restoration of which he had in effect sold to them, and again through Elliot; and 3dly, that the English Government has cheated the English merchants out of two and a half millions of pounds sterling-again, for the third time, through Elliot; and, in fact, were it a case at Bow Street against the swell mob, the English Government would
have been found in rank collusion with
Lin. Lin picks the left-hand pocket, first of opium, and secondly of trade: the Government then step in, whilst the merchants are all gazing at Lin, and pick the other pocket of money: both speaking at first through Elliot, but finally speaking directly in their own persons.
Even this is not all: there is something still worse and more jesuitical in the conduct of our home Government. They proceed to decree reprisals against China. But why? Very fit it is that so arrogant a people should be brought to their senses; and notorious it is that in Eastern lands no appeal to the sense of justice will ever be made available which does not speak through their fears. We, therefore, are the last persons to say one word against this ultima ratio, if conducted on motives applying to the case. By all means thump them well: it is your only chance-it is the only logic which penetrates the fog of so conceited a people. But is that the explanation of war given by Government? No, no. They offer it as the only means in their power of keeping faith with the opium-dealers and not breaking with Elliot. "What do you want?" they say at the Treasury,"Is it money? Well, we have none;
but we can take a purse for you on the Queen's highway, and that we will soon do." Observe, therefore, you have them confessing to the debt. They do not pretend to deny that. Why, then, what dishonesty it was to say in the first instance to the billholders "We have no funds?" They had then, it seems, been authorizing engagements, knowing at the time that in respect of those engagements they were not solvent.
This is the first thing that meets us ; viz. that, at all events, they had meditated fraud. But when, after some months' importunity for payment, a Treasury attorney suggests this new fashion of paying just debts, which is in effect to go and kick up a spree in the Oriental seas, and to fetch back the missing funds out of all the poor rogues whom they can find abroad,note this above all things: letters of marque and reprisals may be fair enough against European nations, because as much commercial shipping as they have afloat, so much warlike shipping they have to protect it. The one is in regular proportion to the other; fair warning is given: we say, take care of yourselves; your war shipping ought to protect your commercial shipping; and if it cannot, the result will be a fair expression that we have measured forces against each other, nation against nation-the result will be one of fair open fighting. Now, in the Chinese seas there are none but commercial ships. are no fighting ships worth speaking of. Consequently no part of the loss will fall on the state. Our losses in opium will be made good by the ruin of innumerable private traders. That cannot be satisfactory to any party; and quite as little can it satisfy our British notions of justice, that the rascally Government, and that "sublime of rascals," Lin, will escape without a wound. Little teasings about the extremities of so great a power, and yet, in a warlike sense, so unmaritime a power as China, will be mere flea-bites to the central government at Pekin; not more than the arrows of Liliput in the toes of Gulliver, which he mistook for some tickling or the irritation of chilblains.
Are we then comparing our own naval power, the most awful concentration of power, and the most variously applicable power which
the earth has witnessed, to the efforts of Liliput? Not so, reader; but of what avail is any power under circumstances which forbid it to act? The power of gravitation is the greatest we know of; yet it is nothing at all if you would apply it to the sending up of rockets. The English navy might as reasonably throw bomb-shells into the crater of Vesuvius, by way of bidding it be quiet, or into the Kingdom of the Birds above us, as seek to make any deep impression upon such a vast callous hulk as the Chinese empire. It is defended by its essential non-irritability, arising out of the intense nondevelopment of its resources; were it better developed, China would become an organized state, a power like Britain at present it is an inorganic mass-something to be kicked, but which cannot kick again-having no commerce worth counting-no vast establishments of maritime industryno arsenals- no shipbuilding towns -no Portsmouths, Deals, Deptfords, Woolwiches, Sunderlands, Newcastles, Liverpools, Bristols, Glasgows; in short, no vital parts-no organs-no heart-no lungs. As well deliver your broadsides against the impassive air; or, in Prospero's words,
"Stab the still closing waters
With all-bemock'd-at wounds.” Indeed, it is a more hopeful concern to make war upon the winds and the waters; for both are known to suffer great changes during some time after the continued cannonading of a great sea-fight; whereas China is, like Russia, defensible, without effort of her men, by her own immeasurable extent, combined with the fact of having no vulnerable organs-no local concentrations of the national power in which a mortal wound can be planted. There lay the mistake of Napoleon in his desperate anabasis to Moscow: in the whole area of interminable Muscovy, which centuries could not effectually traverse with armies, there was but one weak or vulnerable place, and that was the heart of the Czar. But it was too deadly a stake to throw upon that single chance the fate of so vast an army, and the future prestige of the French military name. Moscow having perished, which, after all, was a flea-bite even as regarded the annual income of the land; for it contained
little more than gilt furniture and boxes of sweetmeats, (see Segur,) all had perished that could perish for Russia, after which every loss must be a French loss. Even without the winter, the French army was a condemned body after that. There surely was a deadly miscalculation. And such a miscalculation is ours in meditating the retrieval of our losses by war upon this inert and most lubberly of masses.
But perhaps it will be said we shall not altogether depend on sea-captures. We shall seize the island of Formosa; may be we shall seize Canton. even in those places we shall find no such accumulations of government stores as would be found in any of our active and warlike European states. Some old fixtures in the shape of buildings, palaces, halls of justice, &c., will be the most that we can count upon as government property; or perhaps Lin, in his hurry of absconding, may leave his snuff-box behind, his opium-box, or his peacock's feather. But we can hardly hope to bring the Celestial fixtures to a Demerara “vendue.” It is true there are the revenues. These we can divert, either in Canton or in Formosa, to our own exchequer. But, unless we adopt the French plan of instant requisitions, (which, if at any time fair, would surely be far otherwise in a case where there is no shadow of a quarrel with the people, but only with the Government,) we must stay for some years to gather in any considerable harvest: because the great source of Canton wealth will be dried up by the inland embargo upon the tea provinces; and the Formosa prosperity depends much upon coasting commerce with the mainland of China, which will now be subject to all the hazards of a contraband trade. Besides, these two occupations will require a land force; and the very expenses of such occupations may very easily be such that we shall all think it a happy thing if the interrupted local revenues should satisfy them.
But finally, in dismissing this opium part of the general question, we would wish to press upon the attention of any interested parties, that they should not look at the several parts of the affair as insulated cases, but should review the entire series as a whole, in which the last stage is adapted to the first, in which the first movement contemplates the end. This war upon
China may be otherwise useful; we ourselves believe it will, and for purposes which we are going to notice. But at present we are dealing with it as a I measure adopted by our Government to meet certain difficulties created (with or without reason) by themselves, and defended upon specific grounds. It is those grounds we speak to; we argue ad hominem. The defence put forward for this war isthat thus we shall recover the value of the surrendered opium. By whom surrendered? Not, as one might think, by some former thoughtless Tory administration; no, but by themselves, and a very few months ago. Was ever such a Penelope's policy, such weaving and unweaving, adopted by any rational Government? They (for of necessity their undisavowed agent is they) one fine day give up like lambs more than £2,000,000 worth of property, and on another fine day like tigers they say, Let us fetch it back by war. We did a most drunken act last night we gave up our watch and purse to a fellow because he had the impudence to ask it. This morning, being sober, let us pitch into" him and fetch it back.
ranteeing that is now impossible. But, were it not so, two home considerations remain 1st, How many mercantile establishments, or their creditors, may have gone down whilst waiting? 2d, If the money principle of the war is to pay the merchants in the first place, and to leave the costs of the expeditions as a charge against the country, why not, by a simpler process, have created the charge, in the first place, as a direct indemnification to the merchants, and then afterwards go a campaigning for glory and repayment? Unless the proceeds from the expeditions shall be found to cover both debts, what is this but to create a secondary debt for the purpose of covering a primary debt, and with the vast disadvantage of certain intermediate bloodshed, with prodigious waste of energy, and by a process most absurdly lingering as well as childishly circuitous?
So much for the opium question, which, when probed, does not seem to colour the state of our foreign relations very favourably for the present Administration. But, as it may be thought that the general bearing of this review is unfavourable also to the entertainment of a Chinese war, we will now turn to that side of the question.
War, as a measure of finance—as a mere resource of a delinquent and failing exchequer, is certainly less likely to succeed with an empire like China, so compact, so continental, so remote
Upon every principle of plain dealing, every British merchant who surrendered his opium will have a right to say-indemnified or not indemnified by a war, he will have the right"Captain Elliot, as commissioner of the British Government, as an honour< able Englishman, one of a nation that is generous and noble, (be its faults and, beyond all other disqualifying otherwise what they may,) and that circumstances, so inorganic-than with disdains all trickery, can you lay any other in the known world. The your hand upon your heart and look French have an expression for a man me in the face whilst you say, that who is much mixed up in social relaeither I ought to have understood, or sions that he is repandu dans le that you thought I understood, by monde; or, as Lord Bolingbroke once that solemn guarantee to see me reim- said of Pope, by translating that bursed, simply this remote-this con- phrase, scattered and diffused in sotingent this fractional chance from ciety. Now this is the very descripsuch a war as we can wage with tion of our own English condition as China? Will you say that, for my a people; and, above all other facts, it children's bread, as a thing understood proclaims our indomitable energy, and and recognised between us, I was to our courageous self-dependence. Of all exchange a certain property, in ab- nations that ever have been heard of, solute possession, for some aerial we are the most scattered and exclaims upon some distant fighting ex- posed: we are to be reached by a cursion against some place or places thousand wounds in thousands of outunknown, in a kingdom almost be- lying extremities; the very outposts of longing to another planet?" The thing civilisation are held by Englishmen, is too monstrous for evasion: it speaks every where maintaining a reserve of for itself. No reimbursement can reliance upon the mighty mother in clear the honour of the parties gua- Europe-every where looking to her
in the last extremities for aid, or for summary vengeance, in the case of her aid coming too late; but all alike, in the ordinary state of things, relying upon themselves against all enemies; and thinking it sufficient matter of gratitude to England that she has sent. them out with stout arms-with a reverence for laws-with constitutional energy, and, above all, with a pure religion. Such are we English people such is the English condition. Now, what we are in the very supreme degree, that is China in the lowest. We are the least defended by massy concentration-she the most so. We have the colonial instinct in the strongest degree-China in the lowest. With us the impulses of expatriation are al most morbid in their activity-in China they are undoubtedly morbid in their torpor. At one time, and it may be so still, the Chinese Government absolutely refused to treat, on the cheapest terms, for the redemption of certain Chinese captives, or even to defray their return home-on the Roman plea, that they had abjured their country but how? Not upon the Roman principle that, having fled in battle, or having yielded to captivity, they had disgraced their sacred mothercountry and ceased to be her children: no; but because, having exiled themselves in quest of bread, they had dared to think any other more hopeful than the Celestial soil. With such principles it is not to be supposed that Chinese colonies can ever prosper, or ever become other than a degraded limb of the Chinese state. It is vain to expect much energy in a direction which is habitually frowned upon by the Chinese authorities and institutions. And accordingly, not now only, but for a very long futurity, we must expect to see sailors, shipbuilders, colonists, foreign capitalists, merchants, &c., thriving only as those thrive who are a despised class of offcasts. There is not motion enough in the stagnant state of Chinese society to hope for any material change. And to China as it is not China as it might be-we must adapt our future relations, which are annually becoming more important.
A war for money, a war for indemnities, cannot be a hopeful war against a lazy, torpid body, without colonies, ships, commerce, and consequently without any great maritime depots. A
rich seaside, a golden coast, that is what we need to make a naval war lucrative. But what then? We need war for other purposes than instant gain. And these purposes it is our next duty to press upon the attention.
All our misfortunes or disgraces at Canton have arisen out of one original vice in the foundation of our intercourse. This began under the unhappy baptism of two unequal con tracting sponsors; a great and most arrogant emperor on the one side, a narrow company of mercantile adventurers on the other. In Europe, governments treat with governments, merchants with merchants. therefore, goes rightly. But in Asia, until we also became a great Asiatic potentate, the case was constantly as between the Roman logician armed with a book, and his imperial opponent backed by thirty legions. In China, for local reasons of shyness towards all foreigners, the case was worse than elsewhere; there was a simple counting-house and ledger on the one side, there was a great throne and its satellites on the other. Every cause of dispute and repulsion was called into action between the parties, mutual religious horror being superadded; and for a cement, for a link, for reciprocal attraction, there was but the one mean principle of reciprocal gain.
Here, however, we pause to notice one capital oversight in political economy. It has been said many scores of times, in derision of our English hold upon China, that in so vast a territory our tea demand, large as it seems, must be a bagatelle. Must it so? Now mark how three sentences shall put that down.
1. Our demand is not little in any sense it is great relatively, it is great absolutely. So poor are the majority of the Chinese, that they never taste such a beverage as tea; more than Hungarian peasants drink tokay, or French peasants champagne. And it has been repeatedly computed that our English exportation is one clear moiety of the crop.
2. But if it were barely a-tenth instead of a-half, nay a-fiftieth, it would operate most powerfully on the Chinese funds, were it only for this reason, that the tea provinces are but a small part of China. Consequently, whatever loss follows any decay of English purchases, falls (after allowing for the