HC Deb 18 March 1862 vol 165 cc1802-19

said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the position of British merchants in China, and to move that due protection be afforded to them and their property in the treaty ports of that Empire. He proposed his Motion not in the interests of the merchants alone, but also to give an example to the Chinese of perfect honesty in our transactions. He did not propose to embark in another China war, either against the old Government or the Taepings. He merely desired to act on principles of self-defence, and that when the life and property of British subjects were threatened they should he protected. By the Treaty of Pekin we were entitled to enter the Celestial Empire, and thus to enter into communication with 400,000,000 souls. He believed that we had no reason to complain of the Imperial Government at present, and that Prince Kung was well disposed to foreigners. He had been in communication with several gentlemen who had recently returned from China, and with many others resident in that country. Some hon. Members were very favourable to the Taepings, and they had been called the national party of China. All the evidence he had accumulated, however, went to prove that, so far from being a national party, they were a gang of robbers and murderers. One gentleman, who left China in 1861, assured him that the Taepings were an unmitigated curse to China. Another said they were no better than brigands. Mr. Hamilton said, although the Imperial Government was weak and corrupt, the people could live under it; but that the approach of the Taepings was the signal for panic, flight, and desolation. He had in his hand extracts from letters asserting that the Taepings were land-pirates; that their only object was plunder, and that Her Majesty's Government ought to put them down. He had been told by no less an authority than Mr. Ward, the late American Minister, that the Taepings ought rather to be called robbers than rebels, and that the Western Powers could have no treaty with them. They had had possession of many Imperial cities, but only long enough to destroy their peace and prosperity. The missionaries were at first disposed to think them the reformers of China, but they had now changed their opinion. Mr. Bruce, in 1860, issued a proclamation, with a view of preventing Shanghai from being exposed to massacre and pillage; and so late as January 18 of the present year it had been necessary to muster all the volunteers who could be found among the British residents to protect their life and property. It was also stated that the villagers were flocking into our settlements for protection, that at least 100,000 men were preparing to attack them, and were hemming them in on all sides, and burning their houses. Moreover, the rebels made no secret of their intentions to starve the British out of the five ports. In the 18th article of the treaty concluded with Her Majesty's Government it was laid down that the Chinese authorities were at all times to afford the fullest protection to the persons and properties of British subjects; therefore the Imperial Government ought to be required to make some further effort to defend those who were now in danger from the rebels. But for the rebels, everything was tranquil in China. With regard to the fall of Ning-po, The Times, in a leader on the 26th of February, said— Thus, without a blow, fell one of the strongest and most defensible cities in China. A handful of determined men might have saved the place. But it is because there are no determined defenders that those things are done, for there is no more real courage on the part of the rebels than there is on the part of the Imperialists. Now, what he had to ask the Government was, what measures were they prepared to take to secure life and property in Shanghai? If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer were in his place there, he would tell him that the revenues from the duty on tea were about £4,500,000 a year; but if the rebels went on as they had done, they would cut us off from tea altogether. On the other hand, our manufacturers received from China silk to the astonishing amount of £7,000,000 a year. In conclusion, he would express a hope that the Government would declare that British subjects in China should be protected from lawless violence, and that all interference with trade at the ports mentioned in the treaty should he prevented. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving, "That," &c.


said, he rose to second the Motion. He could confirm the statement that the trade of China, and particularly of Shanghai, was of the greatest importance to the people residing in that part of the country which he represented, and he felt satisfied that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would feel the loss in the revenue of this country if that trade was interrupted by the Taepings. But he also hoped that the Motion would prove to be unnecessary, as he felt satisfied that Her Majesty's Government had already turned their attention to this subject. They must have seen that the proceedings of the Taepings required watching. He believed that the volunteers of Shanghai, gallant as they were—and they were men possessing a gallant spirit of resistance—would be overpowered by numbers. The merchants at Shanghai had immense property there, and that must be protected. But not the property alone, but the valuable lives of the merchants and their families who were settled at that port for the purpose of carrying on a peaceful commerce required protection. This country had nothing to do with the civil war between the Chinese and the Taepings or rebels, but he repeated he felt confident that the Government would consider it their duty to interfere in the defence of their own interests and the lives of their fellow subjects.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That due protection be afforded to British Merchants in China and their property in the Treaty Ports of that Empire.


said, he fully concurred in the general terms of the Motion. There was not a nation on earth that did not insist upon its subjects and their property being under the protection of their respective Governments, in whatever part of the world they might be; but his hon. Friend had not given to the House one instance in which British subjects or their property had been endangered or destroyed through the Taepings in China. There had been a panic no doubt at Shanghai, but his hon. Friend appeared to be very oblivious as to what had formerly taken place there. The Taepings came to Shanghai in 1860, after having taken Soochow and defeated the imperialist army which had been besieging them at Nankin. When that army was defeated and dispersed over the country, the worthy soldiers of the Imperial Government plundered wherever they went; and their seeking refuge in Soochow having been resisted by the Tartar Governor, in revenge they burnt the suburbs—an act of atrocity which was falsely charged against the Taepings. The Taepings then captured Soochow, which has remained in their possession ever since, and a constant intercourse has been kept up with the Taepings by the European merchants at Shanghai. From Soochow, in August, 1860, the Taepings advanced upon Shanghai, at the invitation of the French (they said), to take peaceable possession of the city; but when within 200 yards of the walls they were received with shot and shell from French and English guns, losing 200 men. They did not return a shot, but made their way to the suburbs, where the French set upon them, and to dislodge them, set fire to the houses and destroyed hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of property. When they retired from Shanghai, these devastating rebels, as they are called, so far from desolating the country, left the crops standing. Overtures had now again been made to the European population of Shanghai to permit them to take peaceable possession of the Tartar city of Shanghai, but it was said they could not be trusted. What ground was there for refusing to trust them? Had they ever broken faith with Europeans? When they went to Ningpo, they sent word beforehand that in case no resistance were made, no European pro- perty would be destroyed; but the Governor of the city was compelled to remain, and an assault took place; they gained possession, but the Europeans have remained unmolested ever since. Indeed, convivial intercourse had taken place between the European residents and the Taepings; for a dinner was given to their generals, and it is stated in one of the Shanghai newspapers that champagne flowed so freely, that under its influence a roast goose was sent as a missile from the hands of one of the European hosts at the head of another of the European hosts; and the Taeping generals, in consequence, made a precipitate retreat, wondering at the manners and customs of the outer barbarians. Why not put faith in them, therefore? If the Taepings were the desolating locusts that they were represented to be, it was a singular fact that during the time they have held Nankin the silk and tea produce has shown a considerable annual increase. The Taepings, unfortunately for themselves, were Reformers and Puritans—they professed to be eradicators of idolatry, and also of their Tartar conquerors. They also had a religious ordinance which denounced the use of opium and of liquor, and in Nankin and the other cities they captured, neither opium nor spirit shops were permitted; and the traffickers in opium and liquor found that those customs were an obstacle to what they considered to be progress, and he was much afraid that much of the hostile feeling to the Taepings was caused by selfish views. He was not their advocate, but he was the advocate of an honest adherence to our professions of neutrality; for in case we interfered between the belligerents, we must have another China war.


said, the question was one of so much importance that he regretted to hear it discussed in so thin a House. Few hon. Members were probably aware of the very large amount of money belonging to Englishmen sunk in China. The greatest interest would be felt in China in the result of this debate, and the news of the course which the Government might take would be anxiously expected at the treaty ports in that country. England had spent a great amount of life and treasure in the establishment of an enormous trade in China. It was not for him to discuss now the policy which led them there. They were there; and, being there, the Government were bound to protect the lives and property of Bri- tish subjects. The country had gone to great expense in establishing consulates in the various ports and cities of China, and these must be maintained, and the results brought about by them supported. The Government had endeavoured to pursue in the internal affairs of China a policy of strict neutrality and non-intervention; but it was exceedingly difficult to pursue this policy when dealing with such a country as China, and with two parties like the Imperialists and the Taepings. If those two parties contending for empire were parties either of whom could establish and maintain a settled and responsible Government, there would be no great difficulty—indeed, none at all—in carrying out such a policy. They would be bound to allow the strongest party to establish a Government, and, when they had established it, to recognise and open relations with them. They would then have a right to expect that the party in power would observe treaty obligations. But that was not the case in China. In dealing with the Taepings had they a party either capable or desirous of forming a strong Government? He believed—notwithstanding the statements of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeen—that they had not. All the information received from the agents of Her Majesty's Government in China went to show that the Taepings had no defined policy, and that they were utterly unable to organize any adequate system of administration. Their followers were a rabble rout of marauders and plunderers. There had been at one time an idea that the Taepings would establish the Christian religion in China, and that, actuated by motives of patriotism, they were desirous of setting up a native dynasty, and expelling the Tartar race that had conquered the Chinese people, and established its rule in China. That delusion had, he believed, entirely disappeared, except from the mind of his hon. and gallant Friend. He thought the Taepings were fortunate in having so persevering an advocate, but he could not congratulate his hon. and gallant Friend on his clients. As regarded their pretension to Christianity, what was it? True, as was stated by his hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster, one or two of the chiefs had been brought up by Protestant missionaries; but that had not prevented a denunciation of missionaries. A most interesting letter had been pub- lished in the Wesleyan Messenger by Mr. Cox, in which that gentleman described his journey to Nankin, and the interview he had had with one of those chiefs. There he found a missionary, Mr. Roberts, who appears to have been no better treated than other missionaries. A threat had been pronounced against him that he should lose his head if he taught any doctrine but that of the divine origin of the Taeping king, the "Heavenly Father or King," as he was called. His hon. and gallant Friend looked through papers coming from China for extracts favourable to the Taepings, and generally favoured him with these quotations. In one of these it was perhaps stated that the Heavenly Father of the Taepings ordered that no one should kick his wife while she was pregnant, and this fact was immediately cited as a proof of Christianity; but that was followed by an order that all the chiefs should marry eleven wives before the royal birthday came round again. The second manifesto was, of course, calculated to dispel the hopes raised in the Christian mind by the appearance of the first. At one time it was announced that the Bible had been carried on a pole before the Taepings, but that news was speedily followed by an announcement that they had concocted a Bible of their own. It appeared that the King was only a dreamy enthusiast, who lived surrounded by women in Nankin, holding no intercourse with the outer world, but ruling his subjects with great cruelty and oppression. His army was merely a mob composed of that brigand population which from time immemorial had existed in the Chinese Empire. It was stated that a great part of that army consisted of mere boys, and that atrocious cruelties were committed by them. Were the Chinese themselves with the Taepings? Was it a patriotic movement against the Tartar dynasty? It was not so. According to the best information, not a single Chinese of respectability—not a man of landed property, of literature, or of trade—had joined the rebels. On the contrary, wherever the Taepings appeared, every person of respectability or property moved away before them. They had no regular system of taxation, but merely levied what they could, and, after devastating and impoverishing the country, passed on. The leaders of the rebellion were wofully ignorant. Few of them could read or write, and still fewer were acquainted with the Court or official language of China. All their communications were conducted in a barbarous jargon of their own. He understood that the "Heavenly Father" had framed an alphabet of his own, and Mr. Cox stated that a writer employed by Mr. Roberts to trans late the New Testament having formed a letter in a way not pleasing to the Heavenly Father, that individual ordered the writer's head to be cut off and those of two or three others of his brother scribes. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen had said that they did not plunder. Why, if they did not plunder, the whole movement would come to an end at once. They lived by plunder, and it was only by allowing their followers to do what they liked with the property of the people that the leaders were able to keep them together. Having seized upon a district, they did not attempt to establish themselves permanently or to organize any form of Government; but after a while moved on to some other place, leaving that which they had occupied utterly desolate. The younger part of the population they carried off, compelling them to be soldiers, and the older part they destroyed, men and women alike. Some hon. Gentlemen might have seen a flight of locusts. Early in the morning there arose a sound as of a distant wind. Soon the air became darkened, and the whole earth seemed to move. Then was heard a strange noise, resembling that which would be produced by the grinding of innumerable teeth. On the following morning the cloud rose and passed onwards, but every green thing on the face of the earth was gone. So it was with the Taepings, They passed over a country, and nothing whatever remained, neither city, nor village, nor cultivation. They were told in ancient histories of the havoc committed by the devastating bands of Tartars which passed over Asia and parts of Europe some 800 or 900 years ago; how Tamerlane and other Tartar conquerors had exterminated whole populations; but he confessed that until he read the accounts of what was happening in China in their own day, and under their own eyes, he could not understand the atrocities perpetrated centuries ago. Everybody had heard of the Great Canal of China. Perhaps no part of the world was more beautifully cultivated than the country traversed by that canal. The canal itself was covered with shipping; its banks were studded with numerous towns and great cities, some containing above a million of inhabitants, and the whole country around bloomed like a garden. What was the state of that district at the present moment? Here was the account given by Mr. Forrest, our able Vice Consul, of his approach to Nankin— Words cannot convey any idea of the utter ruin and desolation which mark the line of Taeping march from Nankin to Soochow. The country around the last unfortunate city will soon be covered with jungle, while the vast suburbs, once the wonder of even foreigners, are utterly destroyed; a few miserable beings are met with outside the gates selling bean curd and herbs, but with these exceptions none of the original inhabitants are to be found, and we actually flushed teal in the city moat, where only a year ago it was barely possible to find a passage, from the immense number of boats actively engaged in commerce and traffic. The interior of the city is equally desolate; the whole of the house-fronts have been torn down, and the numerous watercourses are filled with broken furniture, rotten boats, and ruin. The same may he said of all cities on the canal; and as for the villages and places unprotected by walls, they have been burnt so effectually and carefully that nothing but the blackened walls remain. That letter was written on the 28th of March, 1861. Mr. Parkes, writing on the same day, said— The city of Taeping is obliterated. For some time I walked by a high bank without knowing that it was the remains of the city wail. The stone facing of the wall, and the bricks of most of the houses within the city, have been used for the construction of walled camps outside. Taeping, in 1853, contained some 40,000 or 50,000 inhabitants. The people of these district, according to Mr. Bruce, showed an unparalleled and almost incredible industry. The great city of Soochow within a few weeks was reduced from 1,000,000 to 130,000 inhabitants. Another was reduced from nearly 1,000,000 to 40,000 inhabitants, while the population of a third was entirely extirpated. Mr. Alabaster, an interpreter attached to our mission in China, describing an interview with the rebel chiefs at Chafu, wrote as follows:— A new crucifix was leaning against the wall; there was an evident attempt to inspire awe and respect on all beholders, but the universal coolie look, the want of intelligence even in the higher ranks, and the utter inability of the highest to write more than (that with great difficulty) their names, must have utterly failed to excite any feeling, unless fear, and, as it did with us, disgust. We were impressed with the energy with which a portion of the wall was being repaired, and the manner in which they had staked the ground surrounding the wall; but, the long walk through the burnt and plundered suburbs; the fearful dogs and gaunt cats, stalking about, frightened from the bodies, still lying here and there, by our approach; the titter desertion of the country, as far as we could see; the contrast between what the place had been and what it was then, made every one echo heartily the answer of our greatest rebel admirer when asked, on returning, whether he was disenchanted—'Quite.' He could no longer admire the horde of savages who seemed ruining the country that they might prey on its destruction. He had already informed the House of the condition of Nankin. Only that morning he was talking to Mr. Consul Parkes, a gentleman whose name was not unknown to the House, and whose energy, whose ability, and whose bravery had been an, honour to the English name in China. Mr. Parkes informed him that in an expedition up the Yang-tze-kiang he arrived at a city, called Hang-kow, so admirably situated and so crowded with people that he at once concluded that it was the best position which could be selected for consular and trading establishments. He remained there four or five days, when suddenly one morning news came that the Taepings were advancing. Within a few hours the population of the city, computed by M. Huc a few years ago at 8,000,000, by our missionaries at 3,000,000, and by Mr. Parkes himself at 1,000,000, had migrated, and the city was left a perfect desert. The people rushed in multitudes to the boats; some were trampled to death; some fell into the river, and were drowned; others committed suicide; but all had disappeared before nightfall, so great was the terror inspired by the Taepings. Fortunately, through the intervention of one of our agents, the Taepings did not advance to the city, but returned whence they came. The inhabitants once more occupied their homes, and they had since been our best customers on the Yang-tze-kiang. That great river had been ascended 700 miles by English steamers. It opened into a vast lake district, and the whole country abounded in every kind of produce. All that tract had now been opened to us, and, according to the last accounts, was affording an amount of trade which the most sanguine could not have anticipated only a short time ago. If the Taepings were to take possession of it, the whole of that district would be reduced to a desert. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) had condemned the Tartar dynasty. He was not there to defend the Tartar dynasty, which had doubtless been guilty of many crimes; but even that dynasty furnished a remarkable contrast to the Taepings. Wherever the Imperialists had occupied a territory previously held by the Taepings, a great change for the better had immediately taken place. Even the missionaries, who might be called the last adherents of the Taepings, had given them up. He had seen letters to the same effect from missionaries of the Church of England and of Baptist and other denominations. His hon. and gallant Friend had said that at Ningpo the state of things was different, and that, whatever atrocities might have been committed elsewhere, none had there taken place. In the first place, Ningpo had been almost deserted, but of the few inhabitants who did remain, many, according to later accounts, had been massacred. An English clergyman (Mr. Russell), who had previously imagined the Taepings to be a well-behaved and respectable people, and whose evidence would accordingly be accepted as impartial, went up to Ningpo for the purpose of communicating with them. On the 11th of December last he wrote as follows;— Since the capture of Ningpo by these: extraordinary men, the first time I had been brought into personal contact with them, I have to confess that my views, hitherto ever oscillating for and against them, according to the varying rumours which have reached me from time to time, are now assuming a most unfavourable character. If the men now at Ningpo are a fair specimen of what they are elsewhere, the whole movement I must regard as one of the most hopeless imaginable for all purposes but the work of desolation and destruction. I have already had interviews with representatives of all classes among them; and, had I not heard them and seen them myself, I could hardly have been persuaded by others that such bad, unprincipled, and uncivilized beings could be found among the generally quiet and naturally respectable Chinese.' That he took to be as strong and impartial testimony as could well be produced to the House. Now, what hopes were they justified in entertaining with regard to the Imperialists? Within a very short time a great change had taken place; a coup d'é tat had been effected which led to a change of Ministers, and produced what might fairly be called a Ministerial crisis, because the Ministry that went out of office went, as was usual, out of the world at the same time; they were either strangled or despatched themselves as soon as they received the order. Prince Kung and the two Empresses had called together a new Ministry and had inaugurated a new policy; for the first time a Chinese Government had admitted the rights of foreigners, and consented to treat with them as equals. Of course, he could not say how far the promises held out by the new Ministry would be performed, but the British Minister on the spot wrote as if he believed that a great change had taken place. There was no greater mistake than to suppose that the people of China, on the whole, were unfavourable to foreigners. The evidence of those who had travelled in China confuted the supposition. Any one who read Mr. Fortune's interesting works would find that in many parts of China to which Europeans had not previously penetrated he was received with great kindness. It was perfectly true that at many of the ports the Chinese did regard foreigners with disfavour, but the reason, wherever the true reason could be traced out, was that the Europeans with whom they had to deal belonged to so bad and disreputable a class, that there was no difficulty in accounting for the antipathy with which they were viewed. The House saw, then, on the one hand, how easily the Chinese people were to be governed, how well inclined they were towards commerce, and how industriously they themselves were disposed; they saw, on the other hand, a rebellion set on foot by bands of marauders and plunderers, bent only on destruction and desolation. The great emporium of British commerce was threatened; were we to stand with folded arms and look on while it was destroyed? The question was not one of neutrality and non-intervention. There could be no neutrality or non-intervention where the parties consisted simply of the murderer and his victim. Putting aside the consideration of our rights, the question resolved itself into one almost of humanity.

Were hon. Members aware of the enormous increase which had taken place in our trade with Shanghai? It had risen from £24,000,000in 1858 to £29,105,000 in 1860; and by the last returns the exports and imports of that single port, had risen above £30,000,000. His hon. Friend was entirely in error in stating that the tea and silk embarked at Shanghai came from districts overrun by the Taepings. Shanghai, had become a great port for the reception of the trade down the Yang-tze-kiang, and most fortunately the upper parts of that district had hitherto escaped the ravages of the Taepings. It was said that in order to maintain neutrality a distinction should be drawn between the city and the settlement of Shanghai. But these had so penetrated each other that it would be difficult to make a division; and if the city were destroyed, what would be the use of the settlement? They had gone to China for purposes of trade, not of colonization, and if they allowed the great cities to be destroyed, what would become of their trade? It was proposed some time ago that the Imperialists should pledge themselves not to make the treaty ports a basis of operations, and that the Taepings should be called on to respect the treaty ports. But to that the Taepings would not agree, and by the latest accounts they were determined to destroy Shanghai. According to that morning's advices, a large body had advanced to a point within five miles of Shanghai, but a single discharge of French cannon sent the whole party flying. Were these people to be allowed to destroy that great city, and to annihilate a vast English trade, when almost by holding up their little fingers they could preserve it? The Taepings advanced on Shanghai in 1860, but the appearance of a few marines on the walls frightened them away. Would it not he criminal in the House, under these circumstances, to neglect the sacred interests of British property and British life? He was happy to say that the Government had not been neglectful. Instructions had gone out to defend Shanghai against all risk, and he was still more happy to say that he believed the Admiral, with the aid of a few British troops, would be amply prepared to defend the city from the horrors of a Taeping occupation. More than that, Her Majesty's Government had determined on defending the other treaty ports to the best of their ability, and orders to that effect had been given. His hon. Friend would, perhaps, say that we were about to engage in another Chinese war, and that for the purpose a great army would be required. No such thing. The operations of the Taepings showed that they had no organized system of warfare; they were not about to institute a well-matured campaign, or to deliver a simultaneous attack on all the treaty ports. Having destroyed one spot, they moved like the locusts to which he had already alluded to another, and, he repeated, it would be criminal on the part of the British Government to permit such destruction of life and property to take place. He trusted his hon. Friend would be satisfied with the assurance he had given him. Her Majesty's Government, he might feel confident, were keenly alive to the important responsibilities devolving on them. A great duty in respect to nonintervention was imposed on a Government, but a still higher duty rested upon it, that of protecting from danger and destruction the property and lives of its subjects.


said, much misconception and delusion existed respecting the origin and objects of the insurrectionary movement; and if time were afforded, it would be a matter of interest to go into that part of the subject. No one could doubt that the collision of the Imperial authority with the British Government had been a primary cause of the disorganization which was producing such fatal effects. Till then the Chinese Government had rested on public opinion; but when the population of the south saw that their mighty empire was crumpling up on coming into collision with Occidental civilization, the prestige of the Government departed. He remembered that in 1849 the whole coast of China was ravaged by pirates, and their enormities arrived at such a pitch that the British Government was obliged to interfere. We pursued them and destroyed their junks. Many of the crews, who were good gunners, then went into the interior, and formed the nucleus of the rebellion which had assumed such proportions. It was not a little singular that nothing did more to damage the Chinese Government than the Canton raid of 1847, when our ships rushed up the Canton river and spiked 127 guns, and the capital was placed at our mercy. Shortly after that event the originator of the rebellion first became a Christian inquirer. Struck with the feats of the English sailors, he went to Mr. Roberts and inquired about the foreign Scriptures of a people that could do such deeds. He afterwards became a seer of visions and a dreamer of dreams, till he ultimately became the founder of this mighty insurrectionary movement. He (Mr. White) had some acquaintance with gentlemen who had inquired into the character of the Taepings, and a relative of his had visited their camp. He gathered that the Christian principles they professed amounted to nothing more than a high appreciation of Colt's revolvers in comparison with the native match-locks, and that they much preferred cherry brandy to the native sam-chow. The rebellion, taking its rise in the provinces, proceeded northward, and, striking upon the great river Yang-tze-kiang, approached, and in 1853 took possession of Nankin, which was the finest military position of China, and from which the Government had been unable to expel them. Latterly there had been a fresh outbreak. They had captured Ningpo, which was one of the treaty ports; and he (Mr. White) could not help thinking, that if the Government had any intention of expelling them from that city, they would do well to make that intention known; a mere announcement to that effect would be of the greatest importance. With regard to Shanghai, having been one of the first to settle there, he was confident, from his knowledge of the appliances and means placed at the disposal of the British Community by Government, that not the slightest apprehension need be entertained for its defence. He did not approve of our past Chinese policy, but he would not adopt a tone of captious criticism or censorious remark. To do so would be odious and ungracious to officials placed in a country so remote and in circumstances of a most difficult nature; but he must regret that the principle of non-intervention, of which they had heard so much, had not been more rigidly observed in this internecine war. Our plenipotentiary used as an argument in his communication with Prince Kung that we had driven the rebels from Shanghai. A Chinese collectorate had been established there, and an arrangement had been made by which it had been placed under the direction of Europeans, many of whom had left the employment of the British Government. When the Taepings saw those indications of our connection with the Chinese Government, they had some right to complain of interference. As had been pointed out, the Imperial Government had not complied with the 18th Article of the Treaty of Pekin, which stipulated that the Chinese Government should defend the lives and property of our merchants in that empire. But the whole funds of the collectorate, except what was required for the establishment and the indemnity, were sent up to Pekin, and absolutely nothing was done for the defence of British lives and property. None complained more of this than the subordinate class of Chinese officials. The claims of the provincial establishments were overlooked, and the Chinese agents there were obliged to impose on British commerce double duties, and there was consequently a great augmentation of the duties now levied. In the regulations re- cently issued for carrying on the trade in the Yang-tze-kiang Europeans were forbidden to have any intercourse with the Taepings, and a vessel from England to Nankin would he compelled to call at Shanghai or some other port to pay duty to the Imperial Government; and on its arrival at Nankin the cargo would have to pay duty again. But the Government had not gone far enough. He could understand the policy of rigid non-intervention; he could also understand the policy of active intervention; but the Government had pursued neither the one nor the other Under these circumstances it became a question of great importance to inquire what was to be done. No one would advocate a policy that would lead to war; and he would urge most strongly that instructions should be given to the agents of the Government that the policy of non-intervention should be most rigidly observed China was so vast, and afforded such facilities for exportation that the receipts of" tea and silk would not in any way be interfered with by the continuance of this struggle. He was anxious that the Government should impose upon its agents a policy of non-intervention, but he thought that the hour had arrived when a friendly intervention might produce a settlement of that dreadful intestine struggle. Whilst concurring in the opinions that had been expressed of the Taepings, he would say that we could not shut our eyes to the fact that for nine years they had been the possessors of Nankin. A Government did not exist so long in Europe before it was acknowledged. In the interest of humanity it might not be unwise if we were to come to some arrangement with the Taepings, who had such a wholesome fear of us, Their chiefs had been the body servants, grooms, and attendants of Europeans, and they had the sagacity to see that if they came into conflict with us, their power would be shattered. He had received a letter from a gentleman who formerly sat on the Opposition side of the House, and now held a judicial position in China. He visited Nankin four months ago, and saw one of the principal chiefs there. He had had an interview with the real ruler of the rebels, and had strongly urged him to adopt the European mode of warfare. On his part the rebel chief stated that he had twenty millions of people under him; complained that while professing neutrality, England constantly took part with the Imperialists, and suggested that the British Government should support a scheme by which the country should be divided between the Taepings and the Imperialists. For himself he thought there was wisdom in the suggestion, having a better opinion of the rebels than some hon. Gentlemen; and he did not believe that if they did take Shanghai, any ill consequences would result to the British residents. He could fully confirm what had been said respecting the beauty of the interior of the country and. the marvellous industry of the people, having passed through it along the Grand Canal. To those who desired to be vividly and truthfully informed of those particular districts where the disturbances are now going on, he would recommend the perusal of Mr. Wingrove Cooke's very interesting book, China in 1857 and 1858. In conclusion he would once more strongly advise the Government to endeavour to promote peace between the contending parties.


said, it was very gratifying to him to hear the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that measures were to be taken for the protection of British subjects in China. He wished, however, to remind the Government that Shanghai was not the only spot at which that protection ought to be afforded. The fact was that foreigners were better able to protect themselves at Shanghai than at any of the other centres of commerce in China; and it was at the remote points that the life and property of Europeans were most endangered.


said, that as the House had heard so much of the atrocities of the Taepings, it would not be out of place for him to relate what had happened to the Chinese in Australia. A few years ago the ruling power in that country, the working classes, became alarmed lest their exorbitant wages should be reduced by the immigration of the Chinese. Many vile accusations were got up against them, but as far as he could ascertain they were without foundation. The absence of women among the Chinese emigrants was an incident which belonged to all gold-diggers, whether Germans, French, or even Britons. A Bill was introduced into the Cololian Parliament to expel the Chinese from the country; but after careful inquiry a Committee of the Upper Chamber reported in favour of the Chinese, and the measure was dropped. He had had a great many of those people in his employ- merit, and could bear testimony from experience to their frugality, industry, and freedom from all vices, save gambling and opium-smoking. At one of the diggings, a dastardly and brutal attack was lately made oft the Chinese. ["Question!"] He was speaking to the question. If they wished the Chinese to do justice to them, they must first see that they did justice to the Chinese. Some of the Australian clergy had issued an address, commending the Chinese to the goodwill of the English, and he hoped that the ill-treatment to which they had been subjected would not be repeated.


said, in reply, that he had experienced much gratification at hearing the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and he would not press his Motion to a division.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.