HC Deb 12 March 1861 vol 161 cc1841-59

On rising to call the attention of the House to that portion of the papers laid before the House upon China affairs relating to events at Shanghai, and to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what line of policy it was intended to pursue in our future relations with the Taepings or national party in China, and to move an Address for any further papers that may have been received relating to events at Shanghai— said, that upon a proper understanding by the House of Commons of the relative positions of the two great contending parties in China, it depended whether or not we should maintain permanently military garrisons along the coasts, and armed fleets upon the interior waters of China, at the expense of the taxpayers of this country. In the year 1644 the Manchoo Tartars had been called in as auxiliaries by the Emperor of China to assist in putting down a rebellion, and they had put down the rebellion and the Emperor also. They spread over the country and had seized its Government, but they had never fully amalgamated with the Chinese. Most of the cities were garrisoned by Tartar troops, who lived apart by themselves in a portion of the city walled off from the Chinese inhabitants, and almost all offices of trust and dignity were filled by Tartars. In consequence there had been numerous rebellions, and many secret societies had been formed, the last of which were known as the Triads, in hostility to the Government. In the year 1849 a rebellion broke out in the province which adjoined that of Kwantung, or Canton, under the direction of a loader, who assumed the name of Taeping. The rebels advanced to Canton and besieged that place, but being disheartened by demonstrations of English war-steamers they were repulsed, and retired to the neighbouring province, whither they were pursued by the Tartars. Whenever these Tartars came to a village which had not resisted the rebels they burnt the place, and put the inhabitants to the sword. Commissioner Yeh was said to have beheaded no less than 60,000 people in one yard in Canton, which became a mass of gory mud, and an American gentleman who called on him on Saturday last told him that he had been a witness to the necessity of straw being laid down before an execution. Notwithstanding those 60,000 executions, the chief of the Taepings made head. He went from province to province, and in 1853 he and his followers were found to be in possession of Nankin, having traversed from south-west to north-east, half the diameter of China, and possessing themselves of six of the finest provinces of China. In that year Sir George Bonham and Mr. Meadows went up the river to Nankin, and discovered for the first time that there was a religious as well as a political element in the movement, and that the religious element was in favour of the introduction of Christianity into China. They also found that the chief of the Taepings had been instructed in one of the missionary schools at Hong Kong, and had acquired there a certain amount of knowledge of Christian principles and Christian history. He had made his followers believe that he had been taken up to Heaven, that he had seen God, and had seen Christ, and that he had been commanded by the Father and the Son to propagate Christianity in China, and to extir- pate idolatry. The Taepings maintained themselves in Nankin from 1853 to 1858, apparently doing little, and an impression began to prevail that the movement was in a state of retrogression. At length the Tartars collected troops round Nankin, invested it upon three sides, and reduced the Taepings to great extremities. It was expected that the rebel party would become extinct, or would be driven again to the south-west, and the soldiers became so disheartened that their chief to restore their confidence composed a kind of hymn for them to sing— Our heavenly Father, God, mightily reigneth; Therefore, the Celestial Dynasty shall stand for ever. and for ever. Our heavenly elder Brother, Christ, mightily bears our burden; Therefore, the Celestial Hall is full of glory, for ever full of glory! Shortly after this verse was commenced to be sung by the besieged, two Taeping armies which had been out in the north and the west, suddenly returned to Nankin, and on the 3rd of May took place the utter defeat of the Tartar troops, who threw down their arms and dispersed themselves over the country, burning and plundering wherever they went. They tried to enter Soochow, but were repulsed by the inhabitants, and in revenge plundered and burnt the suburbs of the city, and eventually they made their way with their plunder to Shanghai; but the Tartar governor of that city plundered the plunderers, beheaded a great number of them, and turned the remainder out into the country. The rebels considered their being enabled to raise the siege of Nankin a miraculous interposition, and the verse or hymn is now engraved upon the dynastic seal, but the real cause of the renewed vigour of the rebels was probably owing to Hung Jen, the present Prime Minister, having joined them, an able man who had been educated by missionaries at Hong Kong, and had become a convert and preacher of Christianity. Upon the defeat and dispersion of the Imperial troops the garrison of Nankin followed in pursuit, making their way to Soochow, which they took possession of on the 26th of May. Soochow is about 100 miles from Shanghai. They remained at Soochow until early in August last, courteously receiving visits from Europeans of all nations, mercantile men, missionaries, and others. Early in August they wrote letters to the various consuls at Shanghai, stating that they were coming to take possession of that place on behalf of the national party. Consequent upon the receipt of these and former letters Consul Meadows wrote to Mr. Bruce on the 27th of July, stating that— Mr. Grew, of Shanghai, brought to me a Chinese despatch, addressed by the chief authority of the Taepings, in occupation of the city of Soochow, to the Plenipotentiaries of England, France, and United States. I recommended him to deliver it to yourself directly, and I accompanied him to introduce him and interpret. On that occasion you were pleased to decline receiving the despatch; the knowledge of which fact makes me deem it proper to apply to you now for instructions. A foreign cover has just been handed to me, on opening which I found a Chinese envelope, addressed from Soochow by Hung Jen, holding the rank of Prince and Military Councillor to Messrs. Smith, Edan, and Meadows, the three consuls. He is a relative of the Heavenly Prince, the introducer of Christianity, and is the author of a book upon the principles of Christianity. On the 31st of July Mr. Bruce wrote to Consul Meadows— With reference to the letter addressed to you in common with the Consuls of France and America by one of the leaders of the insurgents, I am clearly of opinion that it is both inexpedient and objectionable, on principle, that Her Majesty's consuls should hold any communication with the insurgents at Soochow, and I have therefore to instruct you to take no notice of it. A letter from the insurgents was also sent through Mr. Jenkins, the interpreter of the American Consulate, to the three consuls; and Mr. Bruce, writing to Lord J. Russell, says— It is very undesirable, in my opinion, that the consuls should enter into communication with the rebels, and I accordingly instructed Mr. Meadows to that effect. I also directed him in future to decline receiving any letter addressed to himself or others. On the 1st of August the English missionary, Edkins, was invited by Hung Jen to visit him at Soochow. Mr. Bruce, after a personal conversation with him, writes to Mr. Edkins— That it was very undesirable that he should visit the rebels, although other people went there for traffic. On the 17th of August Mr. Bruce wrote to Lord John Russell— I think the insurgents will come owing to visits and sympathy of foreigners so openly expressed by them, that if they appear in force we may be persuaded to give up the town to them. In consequence of Mr. Bruce thinking that the rebels would come to Shanghai, he arranged with General de Montauban to de- fend the city, although we were at war with the Tartar Government and the foreign settlements were not in any danger, as they were outside the suburbs of the city and well barricaded. On the 17th of August, the day before the Taepings arrived, Mr. Bruce resolves with the French General to intimate to the rebels that Shanghai will be held militarily, and on the evening of that day, Friday 17th, sends the Kestrel and the French steamer Hong Kong up the river to deliver some documents to the insurgent chiefs, if they were to be met with, as was supposed, in the neighbourhood of Sung Kiang. Scarcely had the steamers reached the village of Ming Hong and got out of sight of Shanghai than the rebels appeared and took Zee-ka-Wei, four miles from Shanghai, and afterwards stormed a camp and redoubt mounted with cannon, two miles from the walls, and chased the imperialists into the city, and tried to get in with them. We had previously manned the walls, and Captain Cavanagh, on duty then, ordered the bridge over the moat to be destroyed, and gave the insurgents a rather warm reception from the city wall with rifles and canister. The rebels took shelter in the south suburb, got into a missionary's house, but finding his avocation left his house and himself untouched. A sharp fire was then directed against a body advancing with the flags they had captured from the imperialists. The firing from the walls both from cannon and rifles was excellent. As soon as canister was useless the foe were treated to shell, thrown time after time into the very middle of their flags. When driven from the south-gate Lieutenant 0'Grady, who was waiting for them with a piquet at the southwest angle, gave them another dressing. Captain Maxwell, with the Sikhs at the little south-gate, inflicted no small loss. There was a European killed amongst the rebels, and others were seen. Parties were then sent from various parts to burn down such houses in the suburbs as could afford shelter to the enemy, and the fires raged outside the west and south gates during the whole of Saturday night. Thus ended the first days' work, with no small loss to the enemy, but without a single casualty to report on the foreign side. Sunday morning broke on a scene of conflagration and destruction. During the night the rebels worked round almost to the French quarter, and had planted some flags in the Temple of the Queen of Heaven.

The French fired the suburb, which was the residence of the wealthy merchants. The flames sprang up with fearful grandeur, particularly where a sugar warehouse caught fire. About two o'clock the Kestrel and French steamer came back, not having found the rebels up the river, and not having, therefore, delivered their proclamations. The narrative speaks of fine rifle practice, and twenty men are said to have fallen to Lieutenant O'Grady's rifle. On Monday, the 20th of August, the rebels returned in greater force than ever. A heavy fire was kept up on them, to which, strange to say, scarcely a shot was returned. The Pioneer vessel of war went up the river and dropped 13-inch shells wherever clumps of banners were seen. On Tuesday, the 21st, the rebels had retreated out of range. The conflagration raised by the French in the water suburb was still raging, and it was melancholy to see warehouse after warehouse full of valuable goods falling a prey to the devouring elements. On Wednesday, the 22nd, Mr. Forrest volunteered to take to the insurgent camp the despatches which the steamers had failed to deliver. He rode to the camp and was civilly met by an officer, who complained of the resistance that the foreigners had offered to them, asserting at the same time that the insurgents had been invited to Shanghae by the foreigners of all nations, and Mr. Forrest was pressed to go to Zee-ka-Wei to see the chief Wang, the commander-in-chief. No damage was done in the English or French settlements. The above details are extracted from a narrative published in The North China Herald, dated 25th August, 1860. Mr. Bruce wrote to Lord John Russell, dated Shanghai, 28th October, 1860, that he had demanded payment for the expenses of defending Shanghai and the pay of the troops and their rations, &c. Mr. Bruce refused to admit of an Imperial garrison of 3,000 men into Shanghai, because it was held by the Allies. Previously the Tartar authorities being pressed for funds to meet the insurrection, had asked the consuls to aid them in collecting the Customs' duties. European inspectors (Mr. Lay one of them) were given them, and on the 26th of October, Mr. Bruce, in a letter to Lord John Russell, says that in one year the revenue doubled itself; and in 1859 was 2,902,377 taels or £900,000 sterling. Mr. Bruce, on the 4th of September, wrote to Lord John Russell— On Sunday, 2nd September, a letter was brought to me by a chairbearer of the American Consulate. Le, the loyal prince, &c, to the three consuls. Previously to moving my army from Soochow, I wrote to you acquainting you that it would soon reach Shanghai, and that if the residences of your honourable nations and the mercantile establishments would hoist yellow flags as distinguishing marks, I would give immediate orders to my officers and soldiers prohibiting them from entering or disturbing them in any way; as you would consequently have received and perused my letter, I supposed you would act according to the tenour of it. But though the past is done with, precautions can be taken for the future. My army is now about to proceed directly to Shanghai; and in the towns and villages through which it will pass, should there be churches, I earnestly hope that you will give orders to the people of them to stand in the doors to give information that they are churches, so that there may be no mistake in future. As soon as I personally arrive, I purpose personally discussing with you all other business. —10 year, 7 moon, 9 days. A second letter was sent from Chung Wang, 10 year, 7 moon, 12 day, to the three Consuls. It says—" The foreigners, contrary to agreement, have made arrangements with the Imperial Officers to protect Shanghai. That the foreigners, particularly the French, had invited him to Shanghai. It also says— The French, having broken faith, will not be permitted to enter Taeping territory. I came to Shanghai to make a Treaty, in order to see us connected together by trade and commerce. I did not come for the purpose of fighting with you. Should any of your honourable nations regret what has occurred, and hold friendly relations with our state to be best, they need have no apprehensions in coming to consult me; but if you continue to be directed by imps, follow their lead in all things without reflecting on the differences between you. You must not blame me if hereafter you find it difficult to pass along channels of commerce, and if there is no outlet for native produce to pass along channels of commerce. I trust you will favour me with a reply. Hence I shall for the present repress this day's indignation, and charitably open a path by which to alter our present positions towards each other. That the chiefs were sincere in these professions is shown by the courteous reception of Mr. Forrest, and that European establishments were spared is shown by Lieutenant Pricket who went with an escort to the Jesuit College at Zee-ka-Wei on the 31st August. Two French priests showed them over the church, which was in a state of filth and confusion, but no great damage had been done, and The North China Herald—no friend of the Tae-pings—said the rebels in their retreat had not destroyed the crops round Shanghai. The noble Lord, the Foreign Secretary, with the consistency of character which belonged to him, had ordered his subordinates in China to remain neutral in the struggle between the Tartars and the Taepings; but the extracts he had just read showed how little attention had been paid to those instructions; and he needed now to pause a moment to picture the extraordinary and humiliating position in which the authorities had placed the British at Shanghai. We were at war with the Tartar Government, and at the very time that our army was advancing upon Pekin, and that British officers were being tortured to death with the sanction of the Emperor of China, we were, by means of our own officers, collecting the customs' duties of the port of Shanghai, amounting to about;£900,000 sterling and even more per annum, and handing them over to Tartar officials, to be employed in the war against ourselves and against the national party. We manned the walls of the Imperial City of Shanghai, and repulsed the attacks of the rebels with great slaughter; who asserted that they had been invited to come to Shanghai by the foreign communities, and which Mr. Bruce himself admits, and we had not the justification of self-defence, as the foreign settlements were free from the city and suburbs, and prepared for resistance; moreover, we had demanded from the Tartars payment for the services rendered by our troops in the shedding of blood—making our troops mercenaries—a proceeding which left an almost indelible stain upon our honour. This strange anomaly of fighting for our enemies and killing our would-be friends would seem to find an explanation in the opinions Mr. Bruce entertained of the rebels, as expressed in a letter to Lord John Russell, dated— Shanghai, September 4. Every day shows more strongly that no principles or ideas of policy animate its leaders. Even the extermination of the Tartars, the only principle put forward, seems rather a pretext for upsetting all Government and authority, and enabling the stronger to pillage the weaker, than an object necessary of itself as a step necessary towards establishing a more national Government. The framework of society is entirely broken up in the districts occupied by them, by the flight of the educated and respectable classes, &c, &c. And, again— But as the chief is an ignorant fanatic, if not an impostor, and the bulk of his adherents are drawn from the dangerous classes of China, the result is the rule of the sword in its worst form and the pillage of large districts, &c. Again— Their system differs in nothing, as far as I can learn, from the proceedings of a band of brigands organized under one head. And Mr. Bruce "Looks upon Hung Jen's book as a crafty device to conciliate the missionary body." These opinions would seem to have been founded upon statements made by Europeans who were in the pay of the Tartar Government, as inspectors of customs and collectors at Shanghai, and upon a private letter from an American missionary of the name of Holmes, printed in the North China Herald; several other private letters from American and English missionaries not being noticed nor transmitted to the Foreign Office with Mr. Holmes's letter. Now, he was not the apologist of the rebels, and he did not doubt but that the waste of life, the plunder, the burnings, and the anarchy spoken of by Mr. Bruce really occurred; but in civil wars, exasperated by religious fanaticism, where the feeling is "to kill, or submit to be killed," to attribute to one side only all the crimes committed, is to forget history and become a partizan. At all times and amongst all peoples such wars have the same lamentable accompaniments. The Jews extirpated the Canaanites; the polished Greeks put the populations of cities to death, as in the case of Miletus. At the Sicilian Vespers, in 1272, nearly 8,000 Frenchmen were massacred, and every Frenchman in Sicily sought out and put to death. The Constable of Bourbon, when he sacked Rome in 1527, inflicted greater evils upon the inhabitants than even the Huns had done. The dungeons of Naples have recently appalled us in their revelations, and in the Abruzzi the most revolting outrages are being now committed. Add to the civil, the religious element in strife, and we find that Gibbon tells us that the difference of a dipthong in two Greek words, implying a difference in religious belief, occasioned bloody contests amongst Christians in the fourth century; he tells us also that the enthroning of Bishop Macedonius cost above 3,000 lives; that the Latin Christians were massacred at Constantinople in the fifth century, and that in the Iconoclastic schism, in the seventh and eighth centuries, thousands perished. The massacre of St. Bartholomew, in 1572, and our own Smithfield fires testifyunhappily to the virulence of religious rancour; and we shudder at the massacres now perpetrating in Syria. The Taepings profess to have a command from God to extirpate idolatry and to introduce Christianity into China, and to expel their foreign rulers the Tartars. It is war to the knife, therefore, between them and the Tartars, and though the Chinese Buddhists are now Idolaters, yet they are not zealots, and Buddhism is not the State religion of China; nevertheless, all the Ecclesiastical establishments will be hostile to the Taepings. Idolatry was no part of original Buddhism, and it was not until more than 100 years after the death of Buddha, and after the first convocation at Rajgriha in Behar in Bengal, in the fifth century before Christ, to settle the dogmas of Buddhism, that an image of Buddha was set up, and this innovation in the process of time has led to Buddhist temples being filled with images of imaginery beings, but without much reverence being paid to them. Buddhist belief, therefore, is not likely to oppose great obstacles to conversion, and the destruction of the images in the temples, which is complete in Nankin, seems not to have had much effect upon the minds of the Chinese. Mr. Bruce states the rebels create a desert wherever they go; but for ten years past they have overrun six of those provinces which produce tea and silk, and the official returns of the exports from Shanghai indicate that this production has not been interrupted. In 1844–45, the export of tea from Shanghai was 3,800,627lbs; in 1859–60, it was 53,463,7711bs, and the export of silk rose from 6,433 bales to 67,874 bales. In 1854–55, two years after the rebels had been in possession of Nankin, the export of tea was 80,221,2451bs. and 53,965 bales of silk; and in 1856–57 the export of silk rose to 92,160 bales. The rebels are now in possession of Soochow, the Paris of China from its art manufactures; and a leader in the North China Herald of the 15th December last, says:— News has reached the city authorities from Tangkow near Soochow, to the effect that the gentry and people anxious to return to their homes have given in their submission to the rebel authorities, and agree to pay tribute. They also agree to collect tolls from all vessels passing. This submission to the insurgents is becoming pretty general now, and a more settled form of Government is beginning to develope itself at Soochow and other places occupied by Chang-maos. A person named Hsiung is at present in command at Soochow, the Chung Wang having gone to Nankin. The Rev. Mr. Griffith John, an English missionary, in his narrative of a visit to Nankin in November last, says— Everywhere they are busy in rebuilding the place. And Nankin, he says, is— As inhabitable as any other Chinese city I know of. And, he adds— There is no public tobacco and opium smoking, nor spirit drinking in the city: all these are strictly forbidden. In a letter dated 21st December, 1861, sent to the North China Herald by Mr. B. Jenkins, the interpreter to the American Consulate, he states the "animus of the Imperial Government is plainly adverse to religious toleration;" and he encloses a letter from the Rev. Messrs. J. W. Lambuth and Y. I. Allan, who visited Hang Chow in proof of it—the soldiers refusing to receive religious books, while the rebels gladly took them— We reached Kaze on Monday at noon, and were detained at the rebel custom house awhile. We distributed Christian books to the soldiers, answered all their inquiries concerning religion, and sang for them, as we should have been glad to do for the imperialists if they had permitted it. We heard that in this city there were four foreigners who had been attacked by imperial soldiers on their way to Shanghai, robbed of more than a thousand dollars, and stripped of everything. The rebels were treating them kindly, and were going to send them to Shanghai by way of Soochow. And in contradiction to the assertion of the universal devastation caused by the rebels, Messrs. Allan and Lambuth say— The Tartar officers in charge of the gates would not permit us to enter the city; but a couple of our servants were allowed to enter. They represented the Tartar city to be in ruins as far as they went, which was to the Mahommedan Mosque. At the village of Vung Ka Gyan, 30 li from Ka Shin, the people were very quiet, buying and selling silk, and a rebel tax-collector in their midst receiving tribute; they pay him about 700 taels every fifteen days. His presence did not appear to be disagraeablo to the villagers. The great city of Hang Chow we reached on Thursday, December 13. The villages in the neighbourhood of Hang Chow are all in ruins. Here, at least at Vung Ka Gyan, the framework of society was not so much broken up as in the Tartar city of Hang Chow. Mr. Bruce says the rebel-leader is an "ignorant fanatic if not an impostor," and that the books printed and published in Chinese by Hung Jen, now a prince of the rebels, was a "crafty device to conciliate the missionary body." He (Colonel Sykes) held in his hand an analysis of that book, which comprised not merely the chief points of the Gospel clearly stated, but also questions of political, commercial, and social economy. In one chapter he advocates the introduction of railroads, steamers, life and fire insurances, newspapers, and other western inventions. These are described, and the advantages stated. Who knows but that ere many decades shall have passed over our heads, this noble country—vast in its extent, and exhaustless in its resources, will be penetrated and intersected by railroads, and startled into life by the rattling of the fire-carriage, and the flashing of the electric stream? Foreign nations are to be treated on terms of equality; and foreigners are never to be called by any opprobrious names. Missionaries will be at liberty to go everywhere to preach the Gospel. We have since learnt that Hung Jen is extremely anxious that a number of missionaries should proceed forthwith to Nankin to teach the people, as most of them, he says, are very ignorant. The Rev. I. J. Roberts, a missionary who has been thirty years in China, bears testimony to the honesty of the professions of the rebels in the following letter:—

To the Editor of the China Mail. Soochow, 26th September, 1860. Dear Sir,—I have the pleasure of informing you that I arrived safely at this place on the 20th inst. I have had an interview or two with Chung Wang, the faithful king, who is commander-in-chief of the army that took Soochow and had thoughts of taking Shanghai, but had no intention of fighting with the foreigners there! He received me with all kindness and courtesy, and the probability is will accompany me to Nankin in a few days. Kan Wang returned here about seven days before I arrived. This King, Chung Wang, has no disposition to get into collision with foreigners; hut, on the contrary, wishes to maintain the greatest friendship and cordiality, both in commerce and religion. He is greatly at a loss to know how two nations worshipping the same great God, like the Western Powers, and Taeping Wang can fall out and fight: he is not inclined to be caught in such an inconsistency ! He wishes to speak to the western kings on the subject. I told him if he would write a letter to the English Ambassador, I would translate and circulate it through the newspaper system, so that the western kings should see it, and their subjects too—the very thoughts of his heart which he wished to communicate should be spread far and wide, and have their due effect in moulding public opinion in reference to him and his doings. This seemed to be a new idea to him, at which he rejoicingly laughed heartily, and agreed immediately to do so. He has written a letter, which is now before me in course of translation, and will be ready for the press before I leave thin place. My health is very good, spirits fine, and prospects promising. I have preached once to the King and his councillors, and to about a hundred of his highest offi- cers by invitation, and received from all every attention and courtesy that I could ask. In haste, yours truly, I. J. Roberts. The Rev. Griffith John, in November, 1860, obtained at Nankin from the Taeping King an edict for the complete toleration of Christianity, and he had conversations with the King Chang, whose vague ideas of the Gospel had shocked Mr. Holmes; and he said to Mr. John— You foreign brethren have had the Gospel for more than 1,800 years, but we have had it as it were only eight days. Your knowledge must be correct and extensive, ours must necessarily be imperfect and limited. You must bear with us for a season and gradually we shall improve. The letter alluded to by Mr. Roberts was a manifesto of the Taeping King, addressed to the Governments of England, France, and America, a copy of which was printed in the London Times, also in Paris and New York. Mr. Bruce considers that the forces of the rebels are greatly over estimated, and that having once sustained a signal defeat, the country people would dispose of the fugitives, and the rebellion would disappear. But the Rev. Mr. Roberts, in a letter dated Tau Yung, October 8, 1860, and printed in the North China Herald of the 17th November, gives proofs from personal observation to the contrary. He says— Tau Yung, Oct. 8th, 1860. Mr. Editor,—This place is the capital of a district called A-Hin, about thirty miles from Chin Kong, called by foreigners Chin-kiang-foo, at the point where the Grand Canal crosses the Yang-tszo River, and about sixty miles from Nankin. We arrived here on the 7th instant, having left Sooehow on the 4th. On the way we had little worthy of note; passed two, this making the third walled city since we left Soochow; all of which are garrisoned by the revolutionists. When told in Soochow that Chung Wang had more than a hundred thousand soldiers under him, I was at a loss to know where they were: but now I have no reason to doubt but he has more than that number, as these places and Soochow are garrisoned by them, while he is marching a large army of fifty or sixty thousand, they say to attack and retake Chin-kiang-foo, which is now in the hands of the imperialists. We saw a great number of them marching on their way as we came up. We found it to be a fact, in the temples on the way, and those I have seen in this city to-day, that the Revolutionists make havoc among the idols of past days. We here met another King, ChongWong, from Nankin, who had come down to consult with Chung Wang—hold a council of war, I presume, in relation to the present expedition against Chin-kiang-foo. He also received me with the same courtesy and kindness by which I had been received by Chung Wang, and invited me to dine with him, which I did with pleasure. Having little or nothing to do to-day, Chung Wang kindly granted me a horse, conductor, and waiting man, to go around and take a good look at the city, before I proceed to Nankin, which is now called Teen-king; and, as a borrowed horse rides free, I went all over the city as near as I could, visited two or three temples, one ancestral hall, a pawnbroker's shop, and the places between. Found all in a sad condition, the idols broke down, and temples, too, outside of the city; the tablets in the hall, removed, shattered, forlorn, and the shop quite gutted of its many bright and costly robes. Of the original inhabitants, consisting perhaps of fifteen to thirty thousand, few are now here, hut the place is garrisoned with some ten to fifteen thousand revolutionists. The idea, while riding through this city and Soochow, kept running through my mind—' The nation that will not serve Thee shall perish.' This is literally fulfilled in this case, and the people seem mad on making their own destruction sure. Some cut their own throats, and others act as foolishly in fighting the revolutionists, and making them cut their throats, when they would save them alive and protect them, if they would only act like people with half common sense, attending to their own business with quietness and prudence. But I verily believe, if it must take such a scourging as this to wean them from their idolatry, and break it off, the sooner they get it the better. The flowery flag is quite popular up this way; most of the vessels trading with the revolutionists, of whatever nation they be, carry it as evidence of its popularity ! We speak of kings among the revolutionists, but these titles are only about the same here as lords and dukes in England, and when one of them is commander-in-chief, as in the case of Chung Wang, of course it increases his power if not his dignity; as in the case of Lord Elgin when appointed Ambassador; but each is accountable to his own Queen or Emperor, as much as any other subject under like appointment. But as we are told in the Scriptures, that kings shall become nursing fathers in the Church of Christ. I would fain hope that these are the ones alluded to, and that that prediction will become as literally fulfilled as the destruction of their idols: nor do I think this improbable ! And as to the revolution, I verily believe it will go on to consummation. If it be of God no device of man can put it down; if not more than likely it would have gone down ere this ! I. J. R. The Rev. Messrs. Allan and Lambuth, in a different quarter, bear similar testimony. On their way back to Shanghai from Hang Chow in the possession of the Tartars, they say— They left Hang Chow on Friday, the 14th December, 1860, at noon, after a stay of twenty-four hours, returning by the grand canal. At noon, on Saturday, we passed Za Mung, which appeared to be abandoned to the crows, like several other places which we passed. An imperial force of about three hundred was stationed in the neighbourhood. On the morning of Sabbath 16th, when about forty miles from Hang Chow, we suddenly and unexpectedly perceived the rebel banners waving in the distance. Considering an advance better than a retreat, on we went; and the rebel forces opened on the right and left, to capture us; but as soon as they discovered we were foreigners, some cried 'foreign devils,' and others ' foreign brethren,' and at once dropped their flags and spears, and had a hearty laugh. We anchored for two hours, hoping that the force would soon pass by, but seeing there was no end to it, we determined to go a-head. For the distance of twenty miles the grand canal was densely crowded with rebel boats. Had we remained stationary it would have taken a day for the force to pass us by. They represented the number of boats to be more than ten thousand; on board some we counted twenty-seven men, on others not more than three. A Cantonese opium-smoker carried off from our boat without leave a nice opera glass which we hope they will return when convenient. A large number of boats were armed with three and six pounders. This force was under the command of General Liau. We visited General Lee, and were kindly received. He told us that Chung Wong had gone North and the Kan Wong to Nankin. We saw that war had desolated the country in many places, that large and small bodies of rebels ravaged the country extensively on their foraging and looting expeditions; and often saw sickening sights, which the rebels, as well as the imperialists, must avoid if they would gain the good opinion of civilized nations. Now, if an average be taken of ten men per boat, the missionaries passed through an army of 100,000 men, and as the rebels have garrisons in many cities and other armies in the field, it is plain their military power must be very considerable. Now the whole of the above communications are in absolute contravention of the opinions expressed by Mr. Bruce, but it would seem we are to risk a contest with the rebels. An expedition is ordered up the Yung-tze-Kiang. Merchant vessels are to be armed, and to have passes from the consul on the condition of not visiting the cities or towns, occupied by the insurgents. Upon the merchant vessels arriving abreast of a rebel battery on shores in the possession of the rebels for some hundred miles up the river, a shot will be fired to bring her to; she replies, and the battery opens, and either sinks the vessel or drives her back. Our ships of war are called upon to avenge the indignity; the battery is silenced, and thus commences a war with the Chinese as a successor to the war with the Tartars. Such is the present state of the contending parties in China and our relations with them. On the one hand, an insurgent national party, holding one third of China, pledged to the expulsion of the Tartars, the extinction of idolatry, and the introduction of the Christian religion. On the other hand a feeble, foreign Tartar despotism, which has proved faithless to treaties with European nations, and is inimical to Christians, both parties being engaged in exterminating each other. The English professing neutrality, nevertheless, interfering and defending Tartar cities against the national party, and collecting customs duties for the Tartar Government, in the case of Shanghai particularly, handing over nearly a million sterling per annum to be employed by the Tartars against the insurgents, and to prevent the introduction of the Bible into China, and now proceeding hostilely up the Yung-tze-Kiang. He asked the noble Lord how long this policy was to be continued, which would involve the maintenance of permanent garrisons on the coasts of China, and armed fleets on its inland waters at the expense of the taxpayers of England. The noble Lord has obtained the gratitude of the Italian people by the moral support he has given to their struggles against despotism, and the noble Lord also directed non intervention between the contending parties in China; but while the noble Lord, with the consistency of his political life, was upholding a great principle in Europe, his subordinates in China were greeting the same principle with salvos of shot and shell and the destruction of its supporters. He trusted, therefore, that the noble Lord would be able to assure the House, that for the future in China, he will not permit his subordinates to blow hot and cold in the same breath, to play fast and loose with the principle, that peoples are justified in their attempts to shake off a cruel despotism, and that our position will be one of absolute neutrality. He begged to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of any further Papers that may have been received relating to events at Shanghae.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed.


It is very difficult to deal with the observations of the hon. and gallant Member, as I cannot quite perceive to what object they tend. I do not consider a proper subject of discussion here the question of what may be the religious doctrines held by these rebellious armies in China. But I am bound to admit that it is a question for this House whether or not Mr. Bruce and Mr. Meadows behaved properly during the events at Shanghai. The last part of the hon. and gallant Member's speech was directed to that question. After the example set by the hon. and gallant Member I do not wish to read any lengthy documents; but I must give Mr. Bruce's account of the rebel expedition against Shanghai. In a despatch dated August 17, 1860, he says— Shanghai is menaced with a serious attack from the insurgents. It appears that they feel the advantage they derive from the contest now being carried on in the North, and they declare they will not lose this opportunity of making themselves masters of the city.… The accounts received are not very clear as to the position of the rebel expedition, but they show the merciless character of their proceedings. Two gentlemen who came down the river yesterday from the silk districts describe it, above Sung-kiang, as full of corpses; most of them had their arms tied behind them and their throats cut, showing that they had been murdered in cold blood. The native trade on the river is stopped, and the country is full of trembling fugitives who have abandoned their homes on the approach of the forces. Looking to their previous doings and to the acknowledged inability of. their chiefs to restrain the excesses of the plunderers who swell their army, I am little inelined to attach weight to their assurances of respecting foreign persons and property, or to allow them, if it can be helped, to obtain possession of the city, where, with the arms and ammunition they would obtain, they would completely command the settlement in the event of any misunderstanding, or should circumstances lead them to wish to plunder. That is the opinion of Mr. Bruee with respect to the rebels. Mr. Meadows said in apprehension of an attack— Shanghai is a port open to foreign trade, and the native dealers residing therein have large transactions with the foreigners who resort to the place to carry on their business. Were it to become the scene of attack and of civil war, commerce would receive a severe blow, and the interests of those, whether foreign or native, who wish to pursue their peaceful avocations in quiet, would suffer great loss. These are the plain and practical considerations which influenced Mr. Bruce and Mr. Meadows, and determined them to resist the attack of the rebels. My hon. and gallant Friend says no notice of our intention was given to this rebellious army; but Mr. Bruce says quite the contrary, and adds that Mr. Edkins went to the place where they were gathered in large numbers, and informed them that their attack would be resisted. They, therefore, had plenty of notice, and I conceive that our Minister and Consul were fully justified in resisting their attack. Everybody knew that at Nankin and other places the rebels had murdered a great number of the inhabitants; that they had laid half the town in ruins, and had made the country a desert; and our Minister did not choose that Shanghai, which was an important commercial station, where our merchants transacted business with the native traders, should be desolated by these people, who considered it their duty to murder the "imps," as they called the Imperialists, and to lay waste the country. That was the view taken by our representatives, and I told Mr. Bruce that Her Majesty's Government entirely approved his conduct; that we did not wish to interfere between the Imperial Government and the rebels; that we meant to be entirely neutral; but that we could not remain neutral when the town where the English and foreign merchants were established was attacked by the rebel forces. I may say that the first advance of these forces did not give a favourable impression of what their conduct would be if they had taken possession of Shanghai. We are told of Jesuit priests who were at the head of a number of Chinese youths whom they were instructing. One of these priests was dressed in Chinese costume, and the rebels, according to their custom of murdering everybody who obeyed the Emperor of China, murdered him, and cut off the heads of these poor children. Was not that a sign of the barbarous conduct which might have been expected from these rebels if they could have got possession of Shanghai? I do not wish to enter into the question of their religious opinions and doctrines. Whoever wishes to know what their opinions are, and how totally their conduct is at variance with their professions, may obtain full information in the account furnished by Mr. Holmes, an American Baptist missionary, who lived some time among them and became entirely disgusted with them. Their doctrine is really a blasphemous parody on Christianity. They have added to the tenets of our faith an idolatrous religion of their own. Some among them claim to be the sons and brothers of Christ, and, governing according to their own cruel and profligate fashion, they call this Christianity. I have nothing to do with any comparison of their religion with that of the Tartars and Chinese; but when my hon. and gallant Friend asks me to back up these men because they are the national party and the disciples of Christ, I must say that there does not appear to be a word of truth in such a statement. They are really idolaters, and are no better than the Chinese idolaters whom they profess to despise. With regard to our policy the only course we can take is that of perfect neutrality, at the same time not allowing the towns where our merchants are congregated to be destroyed, simply because some persons in this country have a false notion that they are a national party and that we ought to support them. As to the only practical question before the House, I say that Mr. Bruce and Mr. Meadows have done no more than their duty in the course they have pursued, and I do not think the House will be of opinion that they are open to censure. I cannot agree to the terms of the Motion with which my hon. and gallant Friend concluded, but if any further papers arrive which will throw a light on this question, I promise that they shall be produced.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.