HC Deb 22 April 1864 vol 174 cc1505-47

Sir, it is necessary, before I proceed to make the Motion which stands in my name, to explain to the House that, in consequence of some mistake, the Notice which I originally gave upon the subject does not appear in the form in which I first gave it. My Notice was to the effect, that I would call the attention of the House to the disbandment of the Anglo-Chinese force under the command of Captain Sherard Osborn, and I coupled with it the Motion which is on the paper, and which I shall end by moving— That in the opinion of this House further interference on the part of this country in the civil war in China is impolitic and unnecessary. In proceeding to discharge that task I must throw myself upon the indulgence of the House, because it will be necessary for me to occupy some time, and refer to many details. I cannot, however, promise the House, in the present state of excitement on foreign affairs, a discussion presenting so many stirring and interesting incidents as arc now of daily occurrence in the quarrel between Germany and Denmark; but the House may rest assured that there is no question with which the material interests of England are more closely associated, or in which the honour and dignity of the country are more deeply involved, than the one which I am now about to raise. It may be objected to the Motion that it has reference to bygone events, and that the interest attaching to it has ceased to exist; I would urge in reply, that although undoubtedly the piece has been played out, and the curtain may be said to have fallen on the performance, the actors still remain on the stage; and it is incumbent on Parliament to express an opinion as to the manner in which they have played their respective parts. I am anxious, also, in bringing this question forward, that while I refer to the events of the past, the future should not be lost sight of, for upon our future policy in China much depends. We have a very large stake in that country, and our position there is a very peculiar one, and it depends entirely upon our future policy whether we shall secure or imperil that stake, and whether we shall render our commercial relations beneficial alike to England and to China. The history of the Anglo-Chinese expedition is a very simple one, and I will endeavour to pass over it as quickly as possible; but I must refer to the circumstances under which it left and returned to this country. The first idea of forming a European force for the service of the Emperor of China appears to have originated in an interview which took place between Mr. Hart, then Acting Inspector General of Her Majesty's Customs in China (Mr. Lay, the Inspector General, being at that time on sick leave in England), and Prince Kung the representative of the Emperor. That interview took place so far back as the autumn of 1861, and the objects to be obtained by the formation of this force, which was to consist of powerful vessels well armed and manned, and to be under the command of an English officer of experience, were mainly two. The one was the re-establishment of the Imperial authority upon the Yang-tse-Kiang River, and the other the suppression of piracy and smuggling in the Chinese waters, which duty the Chinese navy was altogether incompetent to perform from the fact of their crews being mostly pirates themselves. Well, Sir, Mr. Lay being in this country on sick leave, was selected by Mr. Hart as a fit and proper agent to carry out the purchase of those vessels and to make the necessary arrangements for fitting out the fleet and manning it. The Custom Houses in China contributed their quota in due proportions towards this very large outlay, and the money was forwarded to Mr. Lay. The first document to which I shall refer is a copy of Prince Kung's instructions conveyed in a letter through Mr. Hart to Mr. Lay in England, in which the Prince stated that he transferred the management of this affair to the hands of the Inspector General, who was instructed to purchase vessels, guns, gunpowder, coals, and other miscellaneous articles required for the use of the ships, to engage officers, seamen, and gunners for the service; and, in fact, to make all necessary arrangements for the formation of the fleet. In consequence of the receipt of that letter Mr. Lay proceeded, as the agent of the Chinese Government, to purchase the vessels and make all necessary arrangements. He at once placed himself in communication with Captain Sherard Osborn, an officer who had had considerable experience in China, who possessed the confidence and the respect of Her Majesty's Government, and who was chosen to command the fleet. The next document to which I must call the attention of the House is a copy of an agreement made between Mr. Lay and Captain Osborn in reference to the command he was about to take in the Chinese waters. The name of the Emperor of China, or his representative, does not appear in that agreement. So far from it, this copy of the agreement was altogether ignored by Prince Kung, who, in fact, never acknowledged the receipt of it. When I read the document in question, the House will not be surprised that it was so ignored. The following conditions embody one mutual understanding:— 1. Osborn agrees to take the command of the European Chinese navy for a period of four years, and stipulates that there shall be no other European naval Commander-in-Chief. 2. Osborn, as Commander-in-Chief, is to have entire control over all vessels of European construction, as well as native vessels manned with Europeans, that may be in the employ of the Emperor of China, or, under his authority, of the native guilds. 3. Lay will procure from the Emperor such an authority as may be necessary to cover Osborn's acts as the Commander-in-Chief of the European Chinese navy. 4. Osborn undertakes to act upon all orders of the Emperor which may be conveyed direct to Lay; and Osborn engages not to attend to any orders conveyed through any other channel. 5. Lay, upon his part, engages to refuse to be the medium of any orders of the reasonableness of which he is not satisfied. 6. Osborn will appoint all officers and men on board the vessels of the force, subject, however, to the approval of Lay, as the representative of the Emperor."—Correspondence, China, No. 2 (1864), p. 7. I see the House is as much surprised as I was, when I first read those clauses, which conclude thus— The conditions of this understanding, the terms of the formal agreement, and the printed instructions, shall be formally ratified by the Emperor at Pekin before Osborn shall be called upon to act with the force under his command. I want the House to bear those words in mind. What is the meaning of those words? and what would have been their effect if they had been carried out? The meaning of those words is simply that the absolute and complete control of the whole of the naval operations in China was to be vested in Mr. Lay. And what was the instrument by which that control was to be exercised? An instrument omnipotent for its purposes, an English fleet armed with all the appliances of modern warfare, manned by the élite of the English navy, and commanded by one of the best officers in Her Majesty's service. And what would have been the effect of carrying out the instructions of Mr. Lay, of the nature of which he was in all cases to be the sole judge? Why, that every port and estuary and river in China would have been absolutely at the mercy of the Anglo-Chinese fleet, the whole commerce of China would have been under his absolute control. I say, without fear of contradiction, that such gigantic power, so great an extent of authority, was more than it was safe to intrust to the hands of any two private individuals practically irresponsible—that the possession of such an authority was incompatible with the existence of any legitimate authority in China. Mr. Lay, it will be remembered, in his capacity of Inspector General of Customs, had the whole of the receipts of the Customs revenue in China at his disposal, and I think he was placed in a position of no ordinary trust and responsibility. Can we wonder that Prince Kung ignored the receipt of that agreement? Can we blame him for refusing to accept any such terms? I always liked that old precept which enjoins us "to do as we would be done by." I think the application of the argumentum ad hominem is very useful in certain cases in which self is concerned. It tends to remove from the mind the prejudices we are apt to entertain when discussing the affairs of others in which we are interested. Suppose, then, that one day a distinguished stranger were to present himself in this country, and having claimed an interview with the noble Viscount at the head of Her Majesty's Government were to say to him, "My Lord, your naval affairs, your Board of Admiralty, are infamously mismanaged, your Chancellor of the Exchequer knows nothing about his duties, and the revenues of this great Empire are squandered." There may be some hon. Gentlemen both in the House and out of it who think that the illustrious stranger would have some grounds for making such a statement. Suppose he were to add, "Give me the control of your Admiralty department, place your revenue in my hands, and I will set everything right, but I will not act in concert with yourself or with any one of your colleagues. I will have nothing to do with any Member of the Government, I will receive my orders direct from the mouth of Her Majesty, and Her Majesty alone; and in every case I will be the judge of what those orders are to be." Suppose all this to take place, and the House will have a correct description of the post that Mr. Lay was to occupy in China. If the noble Lord were to listen to any such communication from the distinguished foreigner, I should say he would signally fail in his duty to Her Gracious Majesty and to the country; and I think that if Prince Kung had listened to the agreement between Mr. Lay and Mr. Osborn he would have been a traitor to China and to the Emperor. But he altogether ignored the document; he never acknowledged the receipt of it; and I think the House will agree with me that he was perfectly justified in this course of conduct. Such was the agreement made between Mr. Lay and Captain; Osborn. The fleet under Captain Osborn appears to have arrived in China about the end of August, or the beginning of September. On his arrival Captain Osborn found a pressing letter awaiting him from Mr. Lay, urging him to proceed at once to Pekin to meet him there. On the way from Shanghai to Pekin Captain Osborn appears to have seen that some alteration in the state of affairs had taken place; that all was not going so smoothly as he had been led to expect, In fact, while he was at Shanghai attempts had been made to tamper with some of his crew, and by the offer of increased wages to induce them to take service elsewhere. He received from Mr. Lay a letter of instructions from Prince Kung; and I think the first clause of it will place the House in possession of the difference between the intentions of the Chinese and those of Mr. Lay. The first clause of those instructions is to the following effect: — It has been settled that the post of Chinese Commander-in-chief of the steam fleet now purchased, shall be filled by the high officer selected by the Chinese Government, and that Captain Osborn, C.B., a British subject, shall be assistant commander-in-chief for a period of four years. The affairs of the fleet are to be managed by the said commanders-in-chief in a friendly spirit of co-operation. While Captain Osborn assists the Chinese Government in command of the fleet, he will take the instructions of the governors-general and governors as to the employment or distribution of the force. In all operations he is always to confer personally with those officers before either undertaking or staying these, and is to accept the Chinese decision as final. That is the substance of the instructions sent to Captain Osborn on his arrival in China, from Prince Kung. 3. Captain Osborn will receive his commission from the Foreign Board defining his powers."— Correspondence, 1864 (No. 2), p. 9. Captain Osborn at once saw that were he to accept service on those terms he would be placed under the control and order not of the Emperor of China, not of the authorities he went to serve, but of the local governors, the local mandarins, and governors of provinces, and, in fact, of any persons who might be in command when his services might be required. He felt that to accept service on those terms would be either to ensure the failure of the operations or to engage himself and those under his command in operations, perhaps disgraceful, and certainly not likely to be agreeable to Englishmen. He found that, instead of having the supreme command, he was merely to be employed as an assistant, and that he would be under the rule of the local authorities, and not of the central Chinese Government whom he went out to serve. He refused to accept service on any such terms, and I think he was perfectly right, I think that Captain Osborn throughout the whole of that transaction behaved like a man of honour, and in a manner worthy of an English sailor. His conduct was straightforward and sagacious, but I think that he was deluded by Mr. Lay. I do not say intentionally deluded, but nobody can have read, as I have read, the whole of the transactions, without being convinced that Mr. Lay had exceeded his authority, that he persuaded Captain Osborn, the Government, and himself, that he possessed authority which it was never the intention of the Chinese Government to confer upon him, and which was incompatible with his position—albeit a foreigner, in the service of the Chinese Government, a position with which no foreigner ought to be intrusted in any country. I will not, however, further trouble the House with my own opinions on the subject, but I ask them to follow me while I give them the opinion of our Ambassador, Sir Frederick Bruce, on the matter. The following was the language of Sir Frederick Bruce, when describing the failure of this great expedition: — Mr. Lay mistook his position, and overrated his influence when he resolved on starting his flotilla, without having previously ascertained that the terms agreed upon by Captain Osborn would be accepted. It was not till Mr. Lay arrived in China in the spring, that the Chinese Government had any information as to the com- position of the force or the cost of its maintenance. They looked upon him merely as an agent to purchase ships, and to engage men to man them. Having exceeded his authority, they attributed his conduct to personal motives, and their confidence in the good faith of foreign nations had been very much shaken. Such was the opinion of Sir Frederick Bruce. But it is fair to the Chinese Government to state what they have done with regard to Mr. Lay. Had he not been an English subject, on his exceeding his authority in purchasing ships that were not those required, and in squandering money at his disposal, he might have paid the penalty with the loss of his life or liberty. But the Chinese Government allowed him £2,000 a month for his establishment in Pekin; £8,000 a year salary, to March next; and presented him with a gratuity of £2,000 on leaving their service. The Chinese Government, therefore, cannot be charged with behaving to Mr. Lay either illiberally or harshly. I say then, that, in a great measure, I attribute the blame of all this failure of a great scheme to Mr. Lay for having mistaken his post and exceeded his authority. I will now trace the connection of Her Majesty's Government with all these matters. When Mr. Lay first applied for permission to enlist men and equip vessels for the service of the Emperor of China, grave legal objections presented themselves. The Foreign Enlistment Act stared the Government in the face; and the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office was rather alarmed about a certain Neutrality Act of Sir John Bowring. At the Admiralty Office, the Colonial Office, the Home Office, the Foreign Office, they were all in a state of ferment. The Home Secretary described the application of Mr. Lay as an unusual demand; Earl Russell was alarmed at the neutrality ordinance of 1855, which made interference in the Civil War a misdemeanor punishable by two years' imprisonment and a fine. At the Colonial Office, Earl Russell was informed that the ordinance had ceased to exist in 1858. To my utter astonishment, however, I heard the other day of the trial at Shanghai of a man of the name of George White who had captured a prize in Chinese waters. He was indicted before the consular court on two counts, the one for piracy, of which he was found guilty and sentenced, and the other for a breach of the Hong Kong ordinance of 1855. He was found guilty, and sentenced to two years' im- prisonment on the second count. The unfortunate man had since died. The noble Duke at the head of the Colonial Office distinctly informed the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office that that ordinance had ceased to exist in 1858. It appears, however, that it is still in operation. Another difficulty was the Foreign Enlistment Act. The Law Officers of the Crown were consulted; a great conflict of opinion took place among the heads of the various departments, but it was ultimately smoothed away. Two Orders in Council were passed, the one dated August 30, 1862, which had reference strictly to Mr. Lay, Captain Osborn, and other officers; the other, dated January 9, 1863, and applying to the whole army and navy of England, for every officer in the army and navy was invited to take service under the Emperor of China. The issuing of those Orders in Council confirms me in the belief that this was the crowning act of a policy which had for its object the creation of a British protectorate in China. All this was done without any application to Parliament. It might not have been known to Parliament but for the questions which were from time to time asked by certain hon. Members. Such were the measures taken by Her Majesty's Government to forward the gigantic scheme for the formation of an Anglo-Chinese fleet. Mr. Lay speaks of the great power and responsibility conferred by the Order in Council; and Captain Osborn says, "If I accept the position I shall be acting contrary to the spirit of the Order in Council, and to the wishes of Her Majesty's Government." I there trace the intention of the Government. What they desired was a dictatorship in the person of Mr. Lay, supported a fleet under the command of Captain. Osborn. Now I say that the Government, in the part they took in this matter— inasmuch as they sold some of the ships to the Chinese—set aside the laws of the country to facilitate the formation of this fleet and to enable persons to take service under the Emperor of China. I say that Her Majesty's Government would have been responsible for the success or the failure of the enterprise; and I will tell the House what the opinion of their Ambassador, Sir Frederick Bruce, is on that important point. It is perfectly clear to my mind that this scheme never received the sanction or approval of Sir Frederick Bruce. Sir Frederick says, in page 24 of the Correspondence— Had the Chinese voluntarily accepted the squadron, the onus of the difficulties it would have encountered would have rested on the Chinese Government; but the burden would have been thrown on Her Majesty's Government by the Chinese, and with justice, had it appeared that this flotilla, exclusively British in its character, directed by British officers and agents, and imposed by British pressure, was acting under a Chinese flag, which the Chinese Government, contrary to its wishes, had been compelled to hoist on board the ships."—Page 24. Had Captain Osborn, in the discharge of his duty, come into conflict with a foreign; nation, and the subjects of that nation had applied for protection to their respective Governments, there must have been great complication and embarrassment for which Her Majesty's Government would have been responsible. Had the enterprise failed, and our countrymen been placed in a perilous position through the perfidy of the Chinese, does any hon. Member believe that the matter would have ended there? The English people would have demanded more men and more ships for China, and the demand would have been irresistible, whoever might have been the occupants of the Treasury benches. I wish only to quote one more passage, which has special reference to Her Majesty's Government. Sir Frederick concludes by saying — If it was considered necessary that the flotilla should be taken out of the hands of the Government who paid for it, and the exclusive control over its operations vested in its foreign commander and the foreign agent employed in procuring it, these conditions, of so singular a nature, ought to have been submitted and agreed to before the vessels were allowed to sail for China." Page 24. A harder hit, a more just rebuke, was never administered to a Government at home by a minister abroad. That pass age contains the very pith and gist of the complaint I make against the Government. I complain of the Government that they trusted to the ipse dixit of Mr. Lay as proof positive of the authority he claimed to possess, but which, in fact, was never conferred upon him. They ignored their own ambassador while trusting to the amateur diplomacy of Mr. Lay in this most important matter, and rendered themselves responsible for obligations of which they could not possibly see either the end or the extent. They allowed that fleet to leave the country, perfectly ignorant of the real extent of the authority by which it had been formed. Such is the history of the Anglo-Chinese expedition. I leave my plain, unvarnished tale in the hands of the House, for hon. Members to draw their conclusions from it. And now I proceed to ask the House permission to make one or two observations upon these general facts. Although I do not think the failure of this great scheme very creditable to the promoters of it, I think the Government ought to be congratulated on that failure. I have heard of great successes being described as "untoward events;" and this great failure deserves to be described as an auspicious event. I think all the parties concerned in it have had a great escape. The Emperor of China has had a great escape from an imperium in imperio, which it was the intention of Mr. Lay, with the sanction and approval of Her Majesty's Government, to establish at Pekin, his own capital. Captain Osborn has had a great escape, thanks to his own sagacity and foresight, and straightforward course, from becoming involved in disaster or certain failure. I think Her Majesty's Government has had the greatest escape of all from the embarrassments of the position in which they would have been inextricably involved. Mr. Lay has been dismissed by the Emperor of China; Captain Osborn has returned home, and the fleet has been dispersed. But there is more in the dismissal of Mr. Lay, there is more in the rejection of the service by Captain Osborn than meets the public eye. I cannot help thinking that whilst the Emperor of China has engaged these men to fight his battles, the representatives of foreign Powers have got round the Chinese Government, and have whispered in their ears some words like these—I can imagine them to have said, "England is a selfish Power—England does nothing except it be to promote her own interests—take care how you give England any hold upon China." Of course, we Members of this House know nothing of Cabinet intrigues and secrets, but we know perfectly well that Russia's pet project has been to extend her empire in the East; that France likes to play the first fiddle wherever she may be; we know that America, whose policy in the East I admire because it is conciliatory and pacific, is perfectly insane in her jealousy of England; and I never will believe that the representatives of any of those Powers will sit still at Pekin with their arms folded and see English supremacy paramount in China. I believe that if Mr. Lay had succeeded in establishing himself in the position which he wished to occupy with the customs revenues in his pocket, that would have been the first step, and a very long one, towards establishing English supremacy in China. I have heard it said that the rejection of the services of Mr. Lay and Captain Osborn, and of the fleet, are signs of a retrogressive policy on the part of China. This is the language of what I call the protectorate party in this country. They have able men among them, and have open to them means of expressing their opinions and of guiding public opinion in England which few men possess, and I can imagine that they feel disappointed at the failure of their hopes and expectations. They thought of regenerating China by European influence and means, and feel somewhat annoyed at their want of success; but so far from looking upon this as a sign of retrogression, I regard it as a healthy symptom of Chinese vitality. It seems to mo that this rejection of foreign interference is a proof that the Chinese nation is awakening to a sense of its own degradation, for there is nothing so degrading to a nation as to ask for aid in the internal management of its affairs. There is a very able man in China at this time—the Tsing-Kwo-Fan, governor of the two Kiang provinces, whose influence is paramount, and he is conducting certain siege operations before Nankin with much ability and with great probability of success. And I venture to predict, that unless we confine ourselves strictly to peaceful trading operations, unless we abstain from interference in the internal affairs of China, unless we insist upon a strict fulfilment of treaty obligatious, and that only, we shall experience considerable trouble in our dealings with China. I now come to the Motion before the House, and I will ask the House to say that foreign interference in the civil war of China is impolitic and unnecessary. I expect to be told that the Government have not interfered. Now by interference I mean the system initiated by Admiral Hope and General Stavely—that was so especially followed up by Captain Dew, and which has continued ever since—the system of affording aid to the Imperial cause in China. That material aid has been afforded in two ways—in an indirect and in a direct way. I mean by an indirect way that Her Majesty's forces in China have been employed as an army of reserve to assist and support the Chinese army. Towns have been garrisoned, positions have been occupied, siege guns have been lent, and ammunition to any extent has been afforded to the Chinese forces. Now, this question of supplies is a very serious one. It touches one of the highest constitutional functions of this House. We have been engaged lately in voting supplies for the army and navy, and we are bound to ask for whose service these supplies were voted. Were they voted for the service of the Queen, or for the service of the Emperor of China? I have found a curious document on this subject which I will read to this House. It is a statement made by the lieutenant commanding the Harrer at Ningpo in May last— and he says— Great efforts have been made and assistance afforded by Her Majesty's Government in this neighbourhood, both as to supplies of munitions of war, drilling troops, and otherwise, but I am afraid without effect. The last supply of munitions brought by me from Shanghai and handed over to the Taoutae, by Captain Dew—namely, 1,000 Tower muskets, 100,000 rounds of ball cartridge, besides guns and other stores—I ascertained, too late to remonstrate, have been handed over to the Taoutae and his undisciplined troops, which is almost throwing them away. This is a statement made by an officer in Her Majesty's navy. If this conduct has been pursued in one case, I believe it has been pursued in many others, and that an unlimited amount of guns, stores, and ammunition has been furnished to the Chinese troops for the purpose of enabling them to carry on the war. This is what I call interfering in an indirect way. Last year we heard a good deal about the intentions of the Government to protect the treaty ports, and the district thirty miles round, and especially Shanghai. Now, I want to know what we are to understand by a protection of "thirty miles round." I should have thought the difficulty of protecting a settlement was quite sufficient for any nation to undertake; and I cannot but think that if we are to hold against all comers a radius of thirty miles, it amounts to a military occupation of the country. Let us be told whether that be the effect or not. If it be, the House must consider how this Quixotic undertaking is to be carried cut; for I do not see how it can be done except by the employment of a large military force. It appears to me that we should have some explanation on the subject, for I find among the Parliamentary papers that have been recently laid before the House the following statement made by the Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong to Earl Russell:— The great majority of the respectable commercial classes (foreign) in this country strongly disapprove of the present action of our authorities; and many persons, even who at an earlier period gave all their influence in oposition to the maintenance of neutrality, have seen reason materially to modify their opinion. The commercial body, for the most part, have no faith whatever in the regeneration of China by such foreign aid as is now afforded; nor do they believe that hearty cooperation in introducing the foreign element into the various branches of the Chinese public service Can be expected from any native officials, beyond, perhaps, the few men at Pekin within the personal influence of the foreign ministers…. It may not be too late to withdraw from Shanghai with either safety or honour, but there can be no difficulty in restraining the energy of our military chiefs within the defined thirty mile radius round that city and settlement; and the extension of the system of protected areas round the other treaty ports would, in the general opinion of foreign residents in China, be a most serious mistake, and one much to be deprecated. This is signed by the President of the Chamber of Commerce at Hong Kong. [An hon. Member: What is the date?] The date is October 22, 1863, and the statement is addressed to Earl Russell. After this I hope we shall not hear the argument used that this extraordinary policy has been adopted for the protection of trade. I maintain that our trade has never been attacked, and I challenge the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Layard), to point out one instance in which the property or persons of British subjects have been injured by the Taepings. There may possibly have been an isolated case of a cargo of tea being detained, but there has been nothing in the shape of systematic robbery or injury to British persons or property; and the difficulties to which our trade has been exposed at the hands of the Imperialists has been far greater than ever they have been at the hands of the Taepings. With reference to the occupation of the thirty mile radius, Sir Frederick Bruce says— It was reluctantly, and in deference to the naval and military authorities, that he assumed the responsibility of defending the thirty mile radius. Now I submit that naval and military authorities are not the best judges in such cases. They are men of action and fond of creating work. It is natural—it, is professional. They are not the best judges of policy. I have given the House the opinion of merchants upon this question. I have also given the opinion of our Ambassador. I have said that the aid afforded was of two kinds. I have described the indirect aid afforded by garrisoning towns and by similar movements. But I may remind the House that the aid given has not been limited to the thirty mile radius; for two of the towns, which had been garrisoned under the immediate superintendence of General Brown, were at a distance of sixty miles from Shanghai. As an excuse for our officers I must say that the instructions issued have been so complicated and difficult to understand, that I do not wonder that being unable to make out their meaning they should disregard them altogether. There are, for example, two distinct sets of orders respecting officers taking service in China. The officers on half-pay are allowed to take service where and in what manner they like. There is another class of officers taken temporarily from their regiments to discipline the Chinese. They keep their full pay, but they are forbidden to act with the Chinese troops or in the field, so that if an English officer be drilling a body of the Chinese at a barrack or station, and that station be attacked, he is not allowed to lead his men to repel the attack. I undertake to say that these shilly-shally orders must very much hamper our officers, frustrate their operations, and, in some cases, induce them to disobey their instructions altogether. These indefinite orders, and this lax system, must be both detrimental to discipline and demoralizing to themselves. I will now explain to the House what I mean by direct aid. This has been afforded to the Imperialists under Orders in Council, enabling English officers to serve under the Chinese authorities. I may remark that the Order in Council, authorizing British subjects to enlist, has been lately cancelled. I have every desire to speak with the greatest respect of Major Gordon. I particularly wish to ask some questions relating to that officer. I want to know in whose service he is—whether he is in the service of the Emperor of China, or in the service of the Local Governor of the Province of Kiangsu. I find, on the authority of Captain Osborn, that Major Gordon holds no commission from the Emperor of China at all. Is this the case? The question is a very serious one; for to carry on hostilities in a country without the authority of the Sovereign is not war, but murder. Unless he holds a commission from the Emperor of China, the House must form its own conclusion as to what Major Gordon has been doing for so many months. I find, in confirmation of this view, that another officer (Major Cook) commands another contingent at Ningpo, concerning whom Commander Bosanquet lets fall a remarkable expression—namely, "that the sooner he obtained a commission from Pekin the better." I draw the inference that he does not hold a commission at present. I wish the House to listen to the opinion of Sir Frederick Bruce respecting the employment of these officers. He says that the course which we have adopted in giving the Chinese this assistance has been attended with serious embarrassment, arising from jealousies among the different nationalities represented in China, and that the most effectual means of assisting the Chinese is to throw them entirely on their own resources. I now come to a painful part of my task. I ask these two questions. Who are the men with whom, through this remarkable and unprecedented policy, you have associated your officers, and what have been the consequences of so associating them? Captain Osborn thus describes the character of the men in whose service one of them is employed— Futai Le is as unprincipled as all Chinese officials; he is squandering the revenue of the province, and is in league with unprincipled traders at Shanghai. That is a class of men with whom you have associated your officers. And what is the species of war in which you have allowed them to engage? Of all the wars from which a civilized country and a foreign country ought more especially to abstain, a civil war stands foremost. Civil war lets loose the worst elements of society, and arouses the worst and fiercest passions of mankind. In civil war, honour, humanity, justice, right and law are all forgotten. There is an old saying, but a true one, that no man can touch pitch and not be defiled. The result of our policy has been that the names and persons of English officers have been identified with transactions, with scenes, and with deeds, at which English humanity and English honour alike revolt. We have heard something of the siege of Soochow; we have heard an Order in Council cancelled, to punish the Chinese for the murder of 30,000 persons, carried on for a period of twenty days; we have heard the noble Lord at the head of the Government express his regret at the act of perfidy by which the rebel chiefs fell victims to treachery; we must remember that the night preceding the capture of that town, Major Gordon, with one of the rebel chiefs, concerted a scheme by which the gates were handed over; and we must remember that Major Gordon with his disciplined troops left the town at a critical moment. I do not blame him for what occurred, for his troops being bribed, in all likelihood he was perfectly powerless. But his name is unhappily associated with the perpetrators of these deeds, and I believe that our unhappy connection with the unhallowed proceeding is a retribution upon England for the absence of principle and the abandonment of pledges which for a long time have unfortunately marked our policy in China. I have another miserable event to notice before I sit down. There is in this blue-book an account given of an execution of certain prisoners of war by the Chinese Imperial troops. It is recorded in the papers for which I moved myself, and therefore I am the more justified in referring to it. I will give the simple statement of an eye-witness who saw the transaction. Eight prisoners of war, naked, tied to stakes, were tortured and mutilated, exposed from midday till five o'clock in the afternoon, and afterwards decapitated with a blunt sword. This was witnessed by several officers in Her Majesty's service, and the fact was brought to the notice of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office by the Bishop of Victoria. The noble Lord, of course, ordered a full inquiry into the truth of the statement, and Sir Frederick Bruce says— I am inclined to believe that the punishment of death of a slow description has been exceptionally awarded in this instance; and I shall do my best to put a stop to the infliction of this barbarous punishment—though we have to contend with this difficulty, that it has the sanction of the law. Now, Sir, I am not going to waste the time of the House in any vague declamation upon the horrors of these things. I want the people of England and the House of Commons to know that this is the law of China, and that these are the modes of punishment resorted to by the Chinese soldiery, alongside whom our countrymen are fighting. An Order in Council has been cancelled, we are told, but that will not cancel the memory of these proceedings. The noble lord at the head of the Government has expressed regret at—alas! too late—the horrors of Soochow having taken place; but that will go very little way to remove from the minds of Englishmen the indignation and disgust which the re- cital of these atrocities has produced. I have alluded to the circumstance of the capture of Soochow for these reasons. Since the debate occurred in this House, two remarkable events have transpired: the Footai, the hero of Soochow, has been held up to public esteem, and has received honour and decorations at the hands of his Sovereign for the part he played in the capture of that place; and, what is still more extraordinary, Major Gordon has returned to the service of the Footai. Now, I wish to ask the Government whether Major Gordon's return to that service has received their sanction. Are we to encourage China in such practices as I have very faintly described, and by the presence of our officers to identify ourselves with the disgrace? What is the government that we are supporting so warmly in China? The Manchou dynasty is a foreign dynasty; it is hated by the people over whom it rules. It was founded some 200 years ago in massacre and violence, and it has been maintained ever since by extortion. Now, does the House know what the system of the public service is in China? Persons selected for the service of the Government are chosen in the first instance by public competition; but the young man whose relatives pay the highest premium is ordinarily the successful candidate. The official salaries are miserably small, and they are absolutely encouraged by the system to eke them out by the sale of justice and the oppression of the people. It is a system of extortion from the highest personage to the lowest. Every official carries out this system in his own department, and thus they amass sums of money, by which they purchase promotion to higher offices, and they at last retire on their ill gotten gains to spend their old age in debauchery and sensuality. That is no highly-coloured picture, I believe, of the system of public employment in China. Now, can anybody wonder that, under such a system as this, anarchy prevails? Does anybody believe that whatever the amount of military force or foreign aid, there will not be rebellion against a Government which maintains such a system? It is said that the rebellion is on its last legs; but although it may be trampled out, does anyone believe that the Chinese Government can be stable so long as the system of administration exists that I have described. There are elements of anarchy existing in that country, which may at any moment burst into a flame. Even supposing the Taepings are ejected from their strongholds, the great producing districts of China—the tea and silk I districts—are in their hands. They will spread themselves in all probability like a destroying flood over these districts, and I they will burn and ravage them as they retreat, and defy the efforts of anyone to prevent them. While these districts have: been in their possession, the supplies of silk have been punctual; they have not been interrupted; they have been gradually increasing. We have turned the minds of the Taepings against ourselves. They know perfectly well that if they are ejected from their strongholds it will be by material aid afforded by England to the Imperial forces. They say we have broken our pledge, and that they have fulfilled their obligations to us. It is not improbable that, when deprived of their strong places, they may spread themselves over the tea and silk districts, burning and destroying wherever they go; and, if so, we shall only have our own policy to blame. Now, Sir, I come to the Motion itself before the House. I ask the House to declare that further interference in the war in China is impolitic and unnecessary. I have endeavoured—very inadequately I know—to show that it is impolitic and unnecessary. It is impolitic for the various reasons I have stated, and it is unnecessary because our trade has never been attacked. What I want the House to say is simply this, "We want to trade with China, and China wants to trade with us. If you diplomatists, envoys, and political agents will leave us alone, that trade will go on smoothly and satisfactorily." Now, Sir, I say that the present moment is a turning point in Chinese affairs. There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. It is the turning-point, because China, having rejected the service of the fleet and the dictatorship of Mr. Lay, having rejected foreign assistance, the Government are enabled to recede from the very difficult and dangerous position they have assumed in China without any appearance of fear, without any sacrifice of prestige (if that word can be applied to any honours we have gained in China), and without any appearance of weakness; and I do implore the House of Commons to make that its policy. I have not asked the House to pass a vote of censure on the Government to-night, though I think— and I will not blink my opinion—that the policy of the Government has been erroneous in many material respects. I ask the House, by its vote, simply to join with me in dissuading the Government from a further continuance in a course of policy which I believe is unprecedented in the past, and which I trust will find no imitation in the future.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, further interference on the part of this Country in the Civil War in China is impolitic and unnecessary,"— (Mr. Liddell.) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that the hon. Member for south Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) had on more than one occasion brought the question of China before the House, and he had done so with considerable ability. He would willingly admit that the opinions of the hon. Member, in consequence of the close study he had given to the subject, well deserved the consideration of the House. The hon. Member had to-night concluded his speech with a Motion, and it was only right that the House should at once be informed of the course which the Government intended to pursue with respect to that Resolution. The forms and rules of the House precluded him from moving the Previous Question, but the Government would support the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, to which the Resolution of the hon. Member might be regarded as an Amendment. They would do so because, whatever the words of the Resolution might be, the intention of the hon. Member, as explained in his speech, was that the policy hitherto pursued by the Government should be reversed, and that a course entirely different should be adopted in its stead. He thought he should be able to show that if such a Motion as that were carried, and a report of the debates of that House went out to China, the effect might be so disastrous that he believed no Government and no House of Commons would take on itself the responsibility of passing such a Resolution. He would now call attention to our position in China. The question was one of enormous importance, and the interests at stake were of vast magnitude. He knew that in that matter some persons were of opinion that Her Majesty's Government were something like the ogres read of in children's books, who had no other object than to scatter misery and destruction in all directions; and he must say he had read with surprise a speech made to his constituents in the autumn by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), in which brutality such as made his blood run cold was laid to the charge of the Government, making him almost begin to think that they were as bad as the Taepings. But he appealed to the hon. Gentleman to discuss that subject with him fairly and calmly—to lay aside all the accusations of wilful atrocity, which he had accumulated on the heads of the Ministry, and to look on the question merely as one of policy. The only desire of the Government was that British interests in China should be maintained, and maintained in a manner consistent with right and honour. Many years ago our commerce with China was entirely in the hands of the East India Company. Then those persons who carried on that commerce were under a certain control, their operations were restricted to one port, the trade was limited, and there was no difficulty in dealing with the Chinese Government. That system of monopoly, however, was abolished, the trade was thrown open, and the result was that a large number of adventurers rushed to the East, over whom no control could be exerted. The consequence was that this country was involved in several long and costly wars with China. There ensued, indeed, almost a chronic state of war on our part with China. That position of affairs was brought to an end by the celebrated Treaty of Tien-tsin, or Pekin — the most important instrument ever concluded by this country with any Eastern nation. It completely changed our relations with China. Previously our intercourse had been confined almost entirely to communication with the provincial authorities. When we gained a victory the Central Government was led to believe we were beaten; when we exacted an indemnity, it was told that "the barbarians" had been bribed. But when that treaty was made, we and other European nations were enabled to have a Minister resident at Pekin, and direct relations were opened with the Chinese Central Government. Anybody who read the papers lately laid on the table of the House would be struck with the change that had taken place in that respect. Instead of the former chronic state of war, we were in a state of peace with China such as had been utterly unknown before. we were never more free from war with that country than at the present moment; and the precise relations he had always wished to see established when he sat below the gangway were now carried on, which the hon. Members for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) and Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), ought also to desire to see established—relations which instead of leading us into wars through mere local quarrels, put a stop to wars by placing us in direct diplomatic intercourse with the seat of Government. If we now had any grievances to complain, of, instead of hostilities being at once commenced against some local authority, a correspondence passed between Sir Frederick Bruce and Prince Kung, which was carried on almost in the same way as a correspondence between two European Courts. In fact, we treated China almost for the first time ay a civilized Government. The Chinese Government itself had now began to see the value and importance of these international communications. He was amused the other day to find that an order was given by Prince Kung for the translation into Chinese of a work on international law, for the use of the Chinese Foreign Office and the benefit of its young diplomatists. That marked an extraordinary change in the relations of Western nations with China, and the rise of a state of things which he had long been anxious to see, because it gave the only hope of maintaining peace with that country. If a tithe of the questions now arising in China had arisen fifteen years ago, they would have produced war upon war with her, whereas they were all settled now by diplomacy. Our great difficulty had been to restrain our consuls and different officials at the ports of that country. He did not wish to cast blame on those gentlemen, who possessed great ability and experience in the public service; but they had been brought up in the old school, and had been in the habit, if they had a grievance, to insist at once on redress, sometimes without a good cause, and without a reference to head-quarters. Sir Frederick Bruce had, however, restrained the consuls in many instances, requiring them to communicate with him, in order that he might make representations, where that course was necessary, to the Court of Pekin. After the Treaty of Tien-tsin various ports were opened for commerce in China. But it must be remembered that China was in an exceptional position. He did not think that that put her out of the pale of law, or justified them in treating her differently from any other nation; but, after all, they had to deal with an Eastern people, with different laws and a different civilization from our own. The hon. Member said, as was true, that their modes of punishment were barbarous, and such as we could not submit to—that we could not allow British subjects to he cut in two or exposed to torture. Now, a large number of Englishmen and other Europeans had resorted to the treaty ports. These persons had a certain right to the protection of their own country, and claimed to be under its laws rather than under the barbarous laws of China. These claims wore to a great extent justified. Out of them arose what was called the extra-territorial jurisdiction in China— that was to say, each of the ports had a settlement beyond the Chinese quarter, in which Europeans lived, and were subject only to the law of their own country, administered by the consuls. Thus sprang up a number of these almost independent settlements; and that system, together with the humiliation which the Chinese Government underwent by wars and by the taking of Pekin, greatly weakened the central authority, and rebellions broke out. One important rebellion was that of the Taepings. He could scarcely call that a civil war. The Taepings were admitted to be a horde of mere marauders by everybody but the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen. [Colonel SYKES: No!] Merchants, missionaries, soldiers, sailors, our own consular and diplomatic agents, all parties were agreed as to the fact that the Taepings had no form of government, that they did not aim at establishing any kind of administration, but were a mere set of plunderers, spreading ruin and devastation everywhere they went. There was not a doubt as to that. Having, at last, overrun a large portion of the central provinces, the Taepings came down to the neighbourhood of Shanghai. It was all very well for gentlemen resident at Hong Kong, under the protection of the British fleet and British troops, to pretend to dictate the policy which the Government ought to pursue in regard to Shanghai—a very different place from Hong Kong. But let him quote to the House the opinion expressed by the Bri- tish subjects living at Shanghai itself on that point. [An hon. MEMBER: How long ago?] He thought it was three years ago. That opinion appeared in a blue-book, laid on the table, he believed, in 1862, and, although it had been cited before, yet so entire a misunderstanding seemed to exist on the subject, that he hoped he might be allowed to read it to the House again. When the Taepings approached the neighbourhood of Shanghai, our merchants there were in the greatest alarm, and the Chamber of Commerce met and passed a series of resolutions. [The hon. Member then proceeded to read the resolutions in question, which declared that the meeting felt strongly the advisability of our Government sending a regular; force to protect the residents of the settlement, and prevent the recurrence of panics utterly destructive of trade; that the understood policy of Her Majesty's Government to defend the settlement and city of Shanghai from the rebels had led to a vast accumulation of population and wealth there; that that accumulation of wealth offered a greater temptation to the Taepings to go and plunder the place, move especially after what had happened at Hankow, the rebels being also flushed with the capture of Ningpo; and that the meeting cordially agreed that a considerable permanent addition ought rapidly to be made in the force of troops sent there.] Suppose they had allowed the Taepings to enter Shanghai, the place would have been sacked, trade would have been utterly destroyed, a terrible massacre would have taken place, and the whole Chinese population would have fled. [Colonel SYKES: No!] He would show that presently. But let him ask the House if the Government, notwithstanding the representations of the Chamber of Commerce of Shanghai, of our consuls, of our military and naval authorities, missionaries, and others, had allowed the Taepings to enter Shanghai, and its commerce had been destroyed, what would have been the opinion of the House and the country of the conduct of Her Majesty's Government? One of three things had to be done; to leave the defence of Shanghai in the hands of the Chinese themselves, to defend it with our own troops, or to assist the Chinese by allowing English officers to command and discipline their forces. The Government had to choose one of these three modes of action. To have left Shanghai in the hands of the Chinese would have been virtually to abandon it to the Taepings. Had we taken on ourselves the defence of Shanghai we should have had to maintain an English army in the place, and would not the House have complained had the Government sent more troops there? They took the third course. It was by far the cheapest and most advantageous. They had reduced their troops there to the minimum, and they had encouraged not English officers only, but foreign officers also, to take service under the Chinese, to endeavour to organize and discipline the Chinese troops so as to enable them to defend Shanghai. That was, he contended, a most reasonable policy, and one which was least likely to involve this country either in expense or in embarrassing relations with China. It now became a military question how Shanghai should be defended. It was discussed by Admiral Hope, Brigadier Stavely, and others. It was thought necessary that with regard to Shanghai, but not with regard to all the treaty ports as it had been erroneously alleged, there should be a thirty miles' radius, and instructions, which would be found in the blue-book, were given that British officers should not go beyond that radius. In some instances that radius had been exceeded. In one cage General Brown thought it necessary to exceed the thirty miles' radius in order to prevent Shanghai falling into the hands of the rebels. He wrote to this country and gave his reasons, and what did the Government do? They thought the case entirely exceptional, and, in accepting his explanation, they adhered to their orders that the thirty miles' radius should not be exceeded. The instructions were particularly clear. What the Government said was —Officers on half-pay might take service with the Chinese Government, and go beyond the thirty miles' radius; but so long as men were in the service of Her Majesty they should not in any case exceed the thirty miles' radius. No conflicting instructions were given. In order to allow British subjects to take service under the Chinese, Orders in Council were issued. They were issued after mature deliberation, and after taking the advice of Sir Frederick Bruce and the commanding officers, and communicating with other Powers, we decided to allow English officers, men of character and skill, to take charge of the Chinese troops, with the view of enabling them to defend the treaty ports and of exercising some restraint over them, and thus preventing those horrors which it was the custom of Chinese troops, when under the command of Chinese officers, to commit. No doubt there was some inconvenience in allowing British officers to take service under the Chinese Government. That was fully taken into consideration, but it was considered better to encounter that inconvenience, and have the Chinese army well disciplined, than allow that army to be broken up, and let Shanghai fall into the hands of the Taepings. Major Gordon was a very distinguished officer, a man of great ability, and the accounts of what he had done in China were highly creditable to him. He enjoyed the high opinion of Sir Frederick Bruce, not only as a man of ability and skill, but of humanity. He would not go over the history of Soochow. No doubt it was a very horrible case. His noble Friend at the head of the Government had, on a former occasion, condemned it in appropriate terms. In feet, every one who had spoken on the subject had done so. He was not there to justify it. But he must warn the House against exaggerating these things. They had had a recent instance in Japan connected with the bombardment of Kagosima. He was not going to justify the Footai; but the 20,000 said to have been massacred in Soochow proved entirely a myth. The English papers published in China were not remarkable for diminishing the horrors of any event they might have to describe. The first account of this alleged massacre appeared in the Chinese papers, and the China Mail, of January 1, within a week after that account had appeared, published the following:— Since we wrote last week upon the fall of Soochow further accounts tend to show that the slaughter of the besieged was not carried out to the extent which was on all hands expected. Indeed, from what we can learn, there was little more, comparatively speaking, than a show of bloodshed sufficient to stamp dung's troops with the character of conquerors. It is not unworthy of notice with regard to the Imperial troops under the Footai that, notwithstanding the number of ' eye witnesses' by which they were constantly surrounded, and the demand which existed in the news market, if we may so speak, for reports about Imperial cruelty, sanguinary atrocities, and so on, no instance of cruelty except that at Taitsan was ever adduced against them; and in that case the Chinese commander was remonstrated with…. The Footai in the hour of victory certainly forgot himself, and disgracefully broke faith with Major Gordon, but the indiscriminate slaughter of old and young at first vaguely reported does not prove to have followed as we confess to have expected. There is reason to believe that foreign influence went far to restrain the barbarities of the Imperial troops, and therefore it is advisable that foreign assistance should not too hastily be withdrawn. The hon. Member had asked what Major Gordon's position was. He continued to act under the Footai, and he must say he did perfectly right. The reasons he gave for doing so entitled him to the highest credit, and justified the good opinion entertained of him by those who knew him. He had remonstrated and protested against the conduct of the Footai, but he felt that if he had, thinking only of his own reputation, and acting upon the first impulse of indignation at the act of treachery that had been committed by his aid, thrown up his command, the troops to a man would have gone over to the Taepings, the Chinese would have been defeated, Shanghai would have been sacked, and an enormous amount of British property would have been destroyed. He determined, therefore, to sacrifice his own feelings rather than sacrifice the interests of his country. He thought that Captain Gordon was quite right in the view he took. The hon. Member had asked what, was the position which Captain Gordon now occupied. The answer was that Captain Gordon was no longer in the service of the Chinese Government; because, when Her Majesty's Government learnt the disgraceful act of treachery that had been committed, they immediately repealed the Order in Council which gave permission to British officers to take service under the Chinese Government. His hon. Friend had accused Her Majesty's Government of not only giving the Chinese Government the assistance of British officers, but also of supplying them with arms and ammunition. The fact was that some old stores had been supplied to the Chinese Government, and had been paid for, except a trifling balance, so that there had been no loss to the country on that account. The hon. Member had dwelt at considerable length upon the circumstances attending the expedition of Captain Osborn and his flotilla, but there really was very little in the statement he had made. The British Government had nothing to do with the flotilla, and were not in any way answerable for it; and after the passage which his hon. Friend had quoted from Sir Frederick Bruce's despatch, disclaiming all interference in the matter, and avowing a conviction that the Government at home had not made themselves responsible for the proceedings of the flotilla, it was surprising that any attempt to mix up the British Government in the affair should be persevered in. The real history was that Mr. Lay came to this country stating that he had authority from the Chinese Government, and it was not the business of the British Government to inquire into the nature of the authority. If they had inquired into that and then had said nothing, they would have been told that they had acquiesced in those instructions, and had virtually approved them; but they abstained from all interference. They knew that in the Chinese seas and rivers there were swarms of pirates, which it was for the interest of British commerce should be got rid of; and it appeared that the Chinese Government, instead of relying as heretofore upon the British squadron for that purpose, had determined to obtain a fleet of their own to carry out that object. If they had been able to effect that object, it would have been a great advantage to this country, as it would have relieved our ships from the task of suppressing piracy in the Chinese waters, and the fact that Captain Osborn was to command the squadron was a guarantee that the purpose intended would be attained. Accordingly, Captain Osborn did go out, but when he got to Pekin he found that Mr. Lay had exceeded his instructions and had gone beyond the authority he had received, directly or indirectly, from the Chinese Government. What did Sir Frederick Bruce do then? No one could have behaved with more straightforward candour or with greater impartiality than Sir Frederick Bruce. He determined not to interfere personally in the matter, but requested the United States Minister to settle the question, and to communicate with the Chinese Government. The result was that the negotiations thus carried on were brought to a conclusion without any jealousy having arisen between the English and Chinese Governments. The Chinese Government behaved with great liberality to Captain Osborn and Mr. Lay, but refused to accept the flotilla upon the terms proposed to them, and the ships were sent home to be sold. There was nothing in the whole of these transactions to warrant any condemnation of Her Majesty's Government for the part they had taken, but, on the contrary, Mr. Burlinghame, the United States Minister, spoke in his despatches in the highest terms of the course that had been pursued. Nothing could be more conducive to the maintenance of friendly relations with the Chinese Government, and a good understanding with the representatives of other Powers in China, than the conduct of Sir Frederick Bruce. In one of his despatches Sir Frederick Bruce wrote— The belief that I, as British Minister, would respect the rights of the Chinese, and that I would not force the flotilla upon them from selfish political considerations, induced my colleagues to abstain from interfering while the question was under discussion, and thereby secured for the flotilla a deliberate and unfettered consideration on the part of the Chinese Government; and I am certain that this course was more favourable to the success of the scheme, had success been possible, than any other that could have been adopted. It appeared to me, also, that I should not have been justified in taking a more active part, for I had reason to believe that your Lordship had no cognizance of the undertaking of so novel a character entered into by Mr. Lay with Captain Osborn; and the absence of instructions was to me a significant proof that Her Majesty's Government had no intention of being a party to, or responsible for, the arrangements under which the operations of the flotilla were to be conducted. Nothing could be plainer than these words. The hon. Member had talked about the Government intending to assume a protectorate of China, but the suggestion was really so absurd that it was almost impossible to reply to it in sober seriousness. To talk about intrigues on the part of the British Cabinet to obtain the exclusive control of the Chinese empire was unintelligible, because even if such intrigues could be contemplated they must fail, as the representatives in China of France, Russia, the United States, and other Powers, would exercise a vigilant control to defeat them. Upon that subject, however, he must say a few words more. He had seen an article in a China newspaper alleging that this expedition was a speculation on the part of the British Government, and that Sir Frederick Bruce had endeavoured to force it upon the Chinese Government, who were so indignant that for a whole year Sir Frederick Bruce was not permitted to enter the presence of Prince Kung. Such statements were too ridiculous to need contradiction. But when gentlemen who claimed to be authorities on these subjects signed their names to communications made to the newspapers their statements might require some notice. There was a gentleman not unknown to the world, a professor at Oxford, Mr. Gold win Smith, who, in a letter to a newspaper, used the following expression:— In the case of China a step has been gained, though at the expense of a great dishonour to the nation. The Chinese have detected and frustrated the design of our Government in sending out mercenaries, ostensibly to serve the Emperor of China, but with secret instructions to seize the supreme command. This great England of ours has been placed by her rulers before the world in the position of a pickpocket caught with his hand on a handkerchief, and exposed to the jeerings of the crowd. But the filibustering policy has received a serious check, and the Order in Council inciting British soldiers and seamen in the name of their Sovereign to sell themselves as mercenaries to a barbarian Prince has been withdrawn. If Mr. Goldwin Smith by a reckless disregard for truth had not reduced his authority to the lowest level, it would be necessary to answer such a statement, coming from a professor of history; but did any hon. Gentleman believe that Captain Osborn went out to China with secret instructions to seize upon the country and to obtain a complete control over it? He was sure that if the hon. Member sat upon the Treasury bench and he were to make such a statement, the impression created would he that the person who uttered it was a fit subject for confinement in Hanwell Asylum. But the truth was that Captain Osborn was in a position to make his own terms, but in a manner becoming a gentleman and a British officer, he abandoned the undertaking, which might have been a source of great profit to himself, and returned to this country. Could any one say that Captain Osborn's conduct had been that of a buccaneer or a filibuster? With regard to Mr. Lay, he did not wish to say anything unfavourable, but he believed that Sir Frederick Bruce was correct in saying that Mr. Lay had exceeded his instructions, and had misunderstood his position. Mr. Lay was a man of great capacity, of large views, and extensive schemes, who had rendered most eminent services to China. His efforts in the revenue department had been exceedingly successful; but, in the present instance, it must be admitted that he had made a mistake. But in that mistake he did not receive the support of the British Minister, and he actually complained that he had not received that support. The policy of the Government had been to avoid all interference in the civil war, if such it could be called, that was going on in China, so long as the combatants did not approach the treaty ports. If the order of the Government had been disobeyed, and our officers had gone beyond the thirty miles radius, it was through misconception or from special causes, but the Government had never authorized such expeditions. His hon. Friend had not been quite correct in his statements as regards the increase of the silk trade in the districts occupied by the Taepings, because the silk trade had actually fallen off considerably for the last three years, though our trade had increased in almost every other branch to an enormous extent. In Shanghai, in 1845, the imports and exports connected with the British and foreign trade amounted to £2,571,033; in 1850, £7,449,360; 1853, £11,217,420; 1856, £17,911,280; 1860, £23,589,417; 1861, £25,961,019; 1862, £37,531,359. The tonnage of vessels at Shanghai in 1861, inwards and outwards, was 827,000, while in 1862 it had increased to 1,447,000. The results of the general trade at some of the principal ports in China was exhibited in the. following figures, representing the imports and exports: — Canton, £6,473,261; Amoy, £1,056,510; Swatow, £1,988,043; Foochowfoo, £5,365,425; Hankow, £6,189,952 (showing an increase of £3,011,482 over previous year); Shanghai, £58,604,550. In addition to these amounts, there had been considerable trade at Tien-tsin and at the other open ports, of which the particulars had not been given. Their imports and exports, however, amounted to £2,341,589; making a grand total, in the general commercial movements of those ports, of £60,946,139. He was afraid lest the statistics might prove wearisome to the House, but they were necessary for the purpose of showing that the policy of the Government had been successful and justifiable, and he was certain that there was not a respectable merchant in China who would not have protested against a reversal of that policy. Sir Frederick Bruce, on the 30th of April, 1863, speaking of Shanghai, said— The growth of Shanghai is wonderful; its population is estimated at 1,500,000, and it bids fair to become soon the most important city of the East. The Chinese flock to it on account of the security it enjoys, and the silk manufacture, which was destroyed by the Taeping occupation of Soochow and Hangchow, is taking root at Shanghai. It is a subject of great satisfaction to me that our resolution to save Shanghai from the destruction that menaced it at the hands of the Taeping hordes has not only been productive of great benefit to trade, but has afforded a safe asylum and an escape from ruin to so large a body of the industrious and respectable native population,"—correspondence (No. 3) (1864), p. 93. He believed, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government might fairly take credit for the policy it had pursued with regard to Shanghai. The policy of the United States had been held up for admiration, and recommended to Her Majesty's Government for imitation. He thought it quite fair that our policy should be judged by that of other nations. He would, therefore, read a despatch from Mr. Burlinghame, which would enable the House to see for themselves what the opinion of the American Minister was upon that policy— Mr. Burlinghame to Mr. Seward. Legation of the United States, Pekin, June 20, 1863. In despatch No. 18, of June 2, 1862, I had the honour to write if the treaty Powers could agree among themselves to the neutrality of China and together secure order in the treaty ports, and give their moral support to that party in China in favour of order, the interests of humanity would be subserved. Upon my arrival at Pekin, I at once elaborated my views, and found, on comparing them with those held by the representatives of England and Russia, that they were in accord with theirs. After mature deliberation, we determined to consult and co-operate upon all questions… … In all our conversations Sir Frederick Bruce, with great force, urged the adoption of a co-operative policy in China, and as the representative of the largest trading power here said he was willing to lead in a liberal direction. Indeed, so striking were his views, and so in contrast to what had hitherto been the English policy, and so in accordance were they with the policy strongly urged by me before I came to Pekin, that I expressed a warm desire that he would present them to his Government that they might become the basis of our future co-operation.…Upon this frank avowal of the policy of England, it would be impossible to refuse co-operation. The Russian Minister and myself both concurred in the view that the position of Sir Frederick was just what we desired, and we hailed with delight its avowal. The French Minister, M. Berthemy, agrees with us. Being a broad and experienced statesman, he at once saw the advantages which would flow from the casting down of all jealousies, and by a co-operation on every material question in China…. The policy upon which we are agreed is briefly this—that while we claim our treaty right to buy and sell and hire in the treaty ports, subject in respect to our rights of property and person, to the jurisdiction of our own Governments, we will not ask for nor take concessions of territory in the treaty ports, or in any way interfere with the jurisdiction of the Chinese Government over its own people, nor ever menace the territorial integrity of the Chinese Empire. That we will not take part in the internal struggles in China beyond what is necessary to maintain our treaty rights. That the latter we will unitedly sustain against all who may violate them. To this end we are now clear in the policy of defending the treaty ports against the Taepings, or rebels, but in such a way as not to make war upon that considerable body of the Chinese people by following them into the interior of their country. In this connection, while we feel desirous, from what we know of it, to have the rebellion put down, still we have begun to question the policy of lending Government officers to lead the Chinese in the field, for fear of complications among ourselves, growing out of the relative number to be employed, &c. That while we wish to give our moral support to the Government, at the present time the power in the country which seems disposed to maintain order and our treaty rights, we should prefer that it would organize its own people, as far as possible, for its own defence, taking only foreigners for instruction in the arts of peace and war, and these, as far as possible, from the smaller treaty Powers. To maintain the revenue laws of the Government, to relieve the treaty Powers from the burdens attending the suppression of piracy along the coast, the Chinese Government has been persuaded to purchase several war steamers, and to man them temporarily with foreigners. This fleet is coming out under the command of Sherard Osborn, and is manned chiefly by English sailors, with the understanding that it is a temporary arrangement.… While Sir Frederick Bruce shall remain, or while the policy now agreed upon shall be maintained, no harm can come from it. That the indemnity may be collected and accounted for, and that the Chinese Government may have a fund to maintain a national force, organized upon European principles; that the local authorities may be checked in their corrupt practices, and a uniform system for the collection of the revenues maintained, it is agreed on all hands that the present foreign Custom House system is the best as yet devised, and as it has been administered by Mr. Lay entitled to our support. Indeed, it is alone through such instrumentalities that we can hope to advance the cause of civilization in China. That was the policy which the English Government had uniformly adopted with reference to China, and it was the policy they were now called upon to reverse. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] Hon. Members might say "No," but surely the Government were the best judges and exponents of what their policy was. The hon. Member was mistaken in imagining that the jealousy he had described as being entertained by the representatives of other Powers of the policy of this country really existed in China. It was not true that the merchants in that country were adverse to the policy we had adopted. Mr. Mickie, one of the partners in the well-known firm of Lindsay and Co., a short time since journeyed from Shanghai to England, through China and Russia. Would any Member have ventured ten years ago to predict the possibility of such a journey? The fact, also, that telegraphic communication had been established spoke volumes in favour of the policy of Her Majesty's Government—a policy which he believed would be regarded with favour by every well-wisher of China. When he heard that Mr. Mickie was in this country, he submitted a series of questions to him, arid this is what he said in reply— I have no reason to think that if the Tappings had taken possession of the treaty ports they would have established order and good government, respected our treaties, or protected our trade. My whole knowledge of the Taepings leads me to an opposite conclusion, His hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) had no personal knowledge of the Taepings, and he hoped he never would. Even if they had the will, I esteem them incapable of organizing a civil Government. They have held Nankin for eleven years, with little or no molestation for several years; but it is still only a fortified camp, absolutely without trade or population. The interior of the city is a desert. Having had the privilege of accompanying Admiral Hope in his expedition up the Yang-tze-kiang in 1861, I became acquainted with his views regarding the Taepings, He endeavoured to establish friendly relations with them, and in March, 1861, obtained permission for Lieutenant Colonel Wolsley, Vice Consul Hughes, Rev, Mr. Muirhead, and myself to reside in Nankin for a week, in order to become acquainted with the Taeping chiefs. Colonel Wolsley reported his impressions in his interesting Narrative of the China War in 1860. The impressions of Mr. Hughes and myself, and I think also of Mr. Muirhead, are reported in the Parliamentary blue-book of 1861. During the whole of that year Admiral Hope was indefatigable in his endeavours to keep oh good terms with the Taepings, and in December he again paid a visit to Nankin, accompanied by Sir Harry Parkes, to remonstrate with the chiefs for the violations of agreements of which they had been guilty. In the same month the treaty port of Ningpo was captured by the Taepings, and I know, by personal conference with Admiral Hope, that up to that time he had not abandoned the idea of giving the Taepings a fair chance of showing their ability and disposition to establish an administration under which it would have been possible to carry on trade. How these experiments failed is well known, and it is a significant fact that Sir James Hope, the last friend the Taepings had among British officers, with the exception of one of our Consuls, who years ago committed himself to Taeping advocacy on theoretical grounds, should have been the first officer who took the responsibility of leading a British force to the field against them, which he did with energy and determination in the spring of 1862. Now Admiral Hope was a man of the: most enlarged and liberal views; he was a most humane man—had no prejudice against the Taepings; and yet he was obliged to give up the Taeping cause and was the first to lead an army against them. The course pursued by Sir James Hope towards the Taepings ought to be a convincing proof to impartial minds of the impracticability of maintaining relations with the rebels in China. I need not say that my own opinion on the subject is very strong, and has been for the last five years. I am not aware of any influential firms who were in favour of allowing the Taepings to take possession of any treaty ports, although, no doubt, many were pleased to see Admiral Hope's experiment tried at Nankin and Ningpo. Nor am I aware that any influential firms entered into commercial relations with the Taepings. The agents of European firms who have been engaged in the transport of produce to and from the interior have, no doubt, conic into contact with Taeping troops, and have had to negotiate with them for the passage of goods. A certain class of traders have carried on an extensive and lucrative trade with the Taepings in munitions of war. This traffic is considered disreputable. Munitions of war can only be entered by smuggling and making false declarations — for example, gunpowder has been passed through the Custom House under the name of Bibles, and rifles and bayonets under the name of umbrellas; and to disarm the suspicions of the Custom House officers these packages have occasionally purported to be consigned to missionaries and others. For the sake of accuracy I should also mention that some business has been done with the Taepings in opium and cotton goods, and that they have at times had tea and silk to sell, which has either been seized by them or abandoned in terror by the owners. The British merchants most largely connected with China are in favour of the British Government giving such assistance to the Chinese Government as will enable them to keep the Tacpings out of the treaty ports; nor do I think there is any difference of opinion as to the advisability of pushing our assistance to the ultimate crushing of the rebellion. The modus operandi may have been questioned, and I know some merchants have considered that the Government might with advantage have gone a step further than it has done. But all feel and acknowledge the difficulty and delicacy of the position. The suppression of the rebellion would be deemed an inestimable blessing by all—natives and foreigners; and if peace again reigns in China the means of access we now possess to the interior of the country, and the amount of European enterprise that is in readiness to be let loose, would inaugurate an era of commercial expansion that would be without parallel in history. I do not think there are any merchants of influence in China who would like to see the Government withdraw all assistance from the Chinese, for that would cause anarchy. The great majority, however, have been in favour of the plan pursued, as being the most economical to this country and the soundest in policy, not compromising the British Government more than necessary, and teaching the Chinese to help themselves. It would be disastrous to British trade in China to withdraw from relations with the Chinese Government, and disastrous alike to the Chinese Government and people. It would be a breach of faith with all the merchants and others who have invested large sums in China on the faith of treaties and permanent relations with China. The employment of officers of rank and character has, moreover, done more than anything else to check the rise of that dangerous class of military adventurers in China. The Chinese Government will certainly employ foreigners of some sort, and in the absence of anything better they will accept men of the worst characters. Our commerce with China has increased, and is increasing, under the policy at present pursued by our Government. I doubt if it would have improved more under any other policy. That our trade has increased at all under the incubus of the rebellion, I take to be an earnest of what it may grow to when that incubus is removed. He took that reply to be the most remarkable and complete testimony that could be given of the success of the policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government coming as it did from the representative of one of the most eminent firms engaged in the China trade. But the Government were now asked to reverse that policy. Well, then, what policy was to be put in its place? They had heard lately that it was not for the Opposition to suggest a policy. It was very easy to criticize and protest; but if the Government had done wrong, they who said so were bound to point it out, and show how they could set themselves right. But he had not heard any suggestions of that kind. The opponents of the policy pursued by the Government in China would not, he presumed, admit the Taepings into the treaty ports; would they ask the Government to do so? He had heard that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) said we ought to withdraw from China altogether, establishing ourselves in islands along the coast, or establishing trading factories, and allowing our people to trade at certain fixed stations. He had asked a member of one of the largest Chinese firms if that policy were possible, and what would be the result, and that gentleman replied that the merchants would at once invest £100,000 in well armed steamers, which would engage in smuggling, and would carry on their trade by force. A paper has been actually established at Shanghai, called the Chinese Recorder, and paid in order to advocate the policy that each merchant should be allowed to make his own arrangements with the Chinese authority on the spot, and should only pay such duties as the latter agreed to take—he having, of course, been bribed—and that there should be no diplomatic relations between this country and China. He would not trouble the House to read the answer which had been published in the China Mail; it was to be found in the blue-book; but that answer was so complete that it led, he believed, to the suppression of the Chinese Recorder. The China Mail showed that that policy would lead to a system of buccaneering along the coast, that the large firms would purchase vessels of the kind required, that the very small firms would fail, and that the result would be to involve us in a war with China. No Gentleman in that House would recommend such a course of action, or say that we ought to reverse a policy which, like all other things, had faults, but which on the whole had been attended with the most striking success. He had shown how the most marvellous superstructure of trade had been raised upon that policy —a general trade amounting to something like £60,000,000, most of which was carried on by British subjects. Another policy might be successful; but it might also fail to succeed; and no Government would take upon itself the responsibility of reversing their system merely upon a theory brought forward by an hon. Member who could not have materials at hand to form a correct judgment. The policy of Her Majesty's Government had been approved by merchants in the East; it had been approved by missionaries, by naval and military authorities, by Sir Frederick Bruce, and by Mr. Burlinghame, and he trusted it would receive the approval of the House. If it had been in his power he would have moved the Previous Question, but as he was not able to do so, he thought the best way of meeting the Motion of the hon. Member, since he could not agree to it, was to conclude by moving that Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair.


said, that in his opinion the hon. Member the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Layard), had not met this question at all. There was no one who thought we ought to withdraw protection from our trade in China. The Question before the House was whether they should sanction the interference of the Government in the civil war in China for the purpose of putting down the rebellion? His complaint was that the policy of the Government was not a fair policy as regarded that House. In the debate of last year a question was raised whether Her Majesty's Government intended to interfere for the purpose of putting down the rebellion, and reference was made to the movements of the flotilla. The hon. Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, however, met that question by observing that Her Majesty's Government had done no more in China than they had done for Russia and Turkey. He contended that the steps taken by this country in respect to China constituted as complete a breach of the principle of neutrality as had ever been committed by any nation. We departed from our professed principles of neutrality in the beginning of 1862. Up to that period Sir Frederick Bruce in his despatches expressed the opinion that any interference on behalf of the Chinese Government would be as impolitic as a war for conquest would be hopeless. Subsequently a change came over his mind when he observed the successes of the disciplined Chinese force under the direction of Mr. Warde. Sir Frederick Bruce then wrote to express his hopes in the success of the Chinese Government. In consequence of the receipt of that letter, Earl Russell wrote back to Sir Frederick Bruce, saying that the rational course for us to pursue was to defend our own trade. He agreed in that. The noble Earl went on to add, "to protect the treaty forts." He thought that that might be open to doubt, but that was not the question now. And, continued the noble Earl, "to encourage the Chinese Government to raise such a force as would be sufficient to overcome the rebels, and to reduce them to subjection." Now, that was what the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs called following the principles of neutrality. The noble Earl went un to say, "Should this plan fail, grave questions may arise, which it is not necessary to enter upon now." He thought that this plan had failed, and that graver questions had arisen. The hon. Member the Under Secretary wrote a letter to the Admiralty and a similar one to the War Office, in which he said he was directed by Earl Russell to transmit copies of despatches relative to the measures to be taken against the Taepings, and which had been approved of by Her Majesty's Government; and that was what was called neutrality. The noble Earl even went so far as to express a hope that a disciplined force would be sent out to China to cooperate with the Imperialist troops. [Mr. LAYARD: Hear, hear!] He hoped that as the hon. Under Secretary had sanctioned the suggestion, that some work upon international law should be translated into Chinese for the benefit of the Chinese Government, that he would send out a volume of international law, with his version of the word "neutrality" for their benefit. Her Majesty's Government had sanctioned the principle of our officers enlisting in the service of the Chinese Government, and they had enabled the Imperial Government thus to obtain arms and ammunition which they could not otherwise have procured. But the hon. Under Secretary said that we had nothing to do with this Anglo-Chinese force, which was led by our own officers. What did the blue-book say? General Brown stated that after the death of General Burgevine he had appointed Captain Holland in temporary command of those forces. His hon. Friend said that we had nothing at all to do with, nor were we responsible for, the acts of those men. But we had always that respect for British officers, that when we found them in a difficulty we felt ourselves bound to get them out of it. They had got into such a position in Soochow in consequence of the Chinese General forgetting himself, as his hon. Friend called it, and committing the most barbarous slaughter. And what followed? Why, at a meeting held at the British consulate in China, and at which all the consuls attended, General Brown made a speech, telling all the European officers that Major Gordon was so connected with him as a British officer, that he could not do less than give him his best support. Now, it was impossible in time of war to give material assistance, and the use of British officers and skill, without being responsible. They could not carry on war without suffering the consequences. That policy was tried as regarded the flotilla. When this question was raised, the hon. Member stated that that naval force was intended to put down piracy, and for that object almost alone. He would remark upon the words "almost alone." Before that time a memorandum had been sent by Mr. Lay to Earl Russell, describing what were the real objects of that flotilla. Mr. Lay said that they were twofold: the first and most prominent was to establish the Imperial authority upon the Yang-tse, and commercial security upon the inner waters. Now, that was the precise sort of intervention which we ought not to have been party to. That was the first object. The next object was stated to be to suppress piracy between the open ports. It was evident from this memorandum, that the first and foremost object of the flotilla was to reestablish the Imperial authority over the rebels. He would say, in addition to that, that his hon. Friend ought to have been aware of the conditions entered into between Mr. Lay and Captain Osborn. He contended that Her Majesty's Government ought not to have allowed such a breach of neutrality, such a violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act, as was involved in the sailing of a flotilla from England for the avowed purpose of putting down an extensive rebellion, without being aware of all the conditions laid down by a distinguished officer of their own service, whom they had allowed to go out to China in command of this flotilla. That officer even went out with the blessing given him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society. His hon. Friend said it was unfair to charge the Government with the design of making Mr. Lay a dictator of China. He charged them with great negligence in not making themselves aware of that which they ought to have known must have been the result. If Captain Osborn and Mr. Lay had agreed to carry out that memorandum, he should like to know what other result could be looked for than that Mr. Lay would become the dictator of China. Prince Kung did not suppose that the flotilla had come out to China for the purpose of putting down piracy alone. It was evident that that Prince looked forward to the flotilla as a means of sweeping away the rebellion. Now, an English fleet, commanded by an English officer and manned by British sailors, could not make themselves masters of China without the English Government being from first to last responsible? It was not a question whether we should remain in the treaty ports, it was a question whether we should interfere in this war. He did not wish to use a harsh expression, but he thought that the word "filibustering" might be appropriately applied to such interference. He did not apply that epithet to Captain Osborn, whose conduct had been most noble and honourable throughout. He resisted great temptations, and by his honest and noble conduct he saved the country from the consequences of a false position, in spite of the Government which had sent him out, and such a result they would have rued for years to come. The Government were aware of the theory upon which this affair was conducted. How did Mr. Lay conclude the memorandum which he had sent to Earl Russell? He ended that memorandum by saying that it would in no way compromise Her Majesty's Government, while it possessed at the same time all the advantages without the inconveniences of war. He submitted that they could not have the advantages without the inconveniences of war. If they attempted to give material assistance to any Power, they must be prepared to take all the consequences following such an act. They now wanted to know whether this policy was or was not to go on. The time had come when graver questions had occurred. The policy of Her Majesty's Government had failed; it failed in the case of Major Gordon and in that of Captain Osborn, when he found he could not put himself in communication with the central authority. Therefore he wanted to know whether the Government would go on with this system of intervention and of making private war? They were not now deciding whether they would withdraw from Shanghai or not. His hon. Friend said that there had been no interference in the civil war, except so far as to protect Shanghai. He asked whether Soochow was taken in order to protect Shanghai? It could not possibly have been taken except by the assistance of those officers who were sent out to China, in violation of our professed neutrality. It could not have been taken, except by those officers, for whom General Brown said he made himself responsible, and over whom General Brown had appointed a commander. His hon. Friend quoted the American minister's despatch of the 20th June last year, in support of his view. But there was a long despatch from Mr. Burlinghame, of the 23rd June, in which he stated that the encouragement of foreigners to take part in the war in China was a policy of the grossest injustice to the Chinese, and such as would be likely to cause dangerous complications amongst the Europeans. It was clear from this despatch that Mr. Burlinghame saw the danger of the policy of interference, and, therefore, instead of quoting him in favour of the view taken by the hon. Member, he was an authority totally opposed to it. He granted them that there might be an argument made for the conquest of China. They might be tempted thereto by ambition or interest— but there might, perhaps, be a stronger motive than either actuating Her Majesty's Government. He thought it was impossible, looking back to our connection with that country, not to see that we were possibly in a great measure the cause of the anarchy which at present existed in China. He thought that the noble Lord at the head of the Government could not look back to our relations with China—to the horrible accounts of war and the ravages caused by war — without feeling some regret that the policy which he had so energetically pursued had very possibly been the means of weakening the authority of the Central Government in China, and of causing the rebellions that took place in consequence. Having done that harm to the Chinese people, the noble Lord might well think be ought now to use all his efforts towards the restoration of order. If he could do that, even with some cost of British blood and life, he might say that it was his urgent duty to do so. But this was too great a business for us to undertake. We could not take China upon our backs. The hon. Member said that, as regarded China, we were in a better position now than we were before. It was true that we were at peace with the Chinese Government, but we were not at peace with the Chinese people. No Government could face the country with the idea of making a conquest of China. Then, he said, that the question must be conquest or non-intervention. They could not choose between the two. If they sought to gain the advantages without the inconveniences of war, the result would be they would have all the evils of a distant war, whilst they would be deluding and misleading their own people.


said, he agreed with the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) that the noble Lord at the head of the Government must experience some pain at what had taken place that night, when he considered how he himself must be identified with the policy which we had pursued towards China since 1832. He had heard the noble Lord protest, in eloquent and indignant language, against the atrocities perpetrated in Europe by military despotism; but he (Mr. Ferrand) doubted whether in the whole of Europe, during the last twenty-five years, atrocities had been perpetrated by any European authority to equal those which had been perpetrated in China under the government and instigation of the noble Lord. Atrocities had been perpetrated in the East which neither the British Government nor any other Government would dare to perpetrate in Europe. The noble Lord not long ago denounced the atrocities perpetrated in Poland, and the Foreign Minister declared in another place that the Almighty would not suffer these atrocities to pass unpunished. But the time had now arrived for the House of Commons and this country to inquire whether the atrocities perpetrated in Poland by Russian authorities, or in Denmark by Prussia and Austria, had been equalled by the atrocities perpetrated in China by the British army. We had heard a great deal about the bombardment of Sönderborg, but Her Majesty's Government had acted in a far worse manner in China. He thought it was in 1837 that the Earl of Carlisle, then the representative of the West Riding, at a meeting at Leeds, boasted that the Whigs in 1833 had opened the trade of China without shedding one drop of blood. From 1834 to 1839 the noble Viscount himself tacitly encouraged the opium trade in China, which led to a state of chronic war, lasting up to the present time. From 1834, at which time the noble Lord commenced the persecution of the Chinese Government, for the purpose of forcing them into a war, our policy towards China had been unjust, cruel, and dishonourable. The Whigs and the noble Viscount himself were answerable to this country for the present state of affairs in China. The Conservatives, both in opposition and in office, had opposed their policy, and warned them of its fatal results, but in vain. The noble Viscount and his Government were frequently implored to treat the Chinese with mercy and consideration. Our navy and army were repeatedly engaged in bloody wars in China —wars from which many of our officers had shrunk, and in describing which even our private soldiers, in their letters written home, said they felt disgraced and degraded for having taken such a part against the Chinese. In spite of the advice of the most eminent statesmen of the day they had gone headstrong into that policy, and had brought England into disgrace. In 1840, when a debate took place on the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and more especially on the conduct of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, Sir James Hogg, a man who had lived for many years in the East, and who was thoroughly acquainted with China, expressed his fears that the confidence of the population of China would be shaken in the government of that country, and that the most disastrous consequences would result. The late Sir Robert Peel foretold that state of things which the hon. Member for North

Northumberland had described that evening, though the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had ridiculed the statement. The policy of the noble Lord in China had been condemned, not only by hon. Members on both sides of the House, but it was disapproved of by the country generally. The late Sir Robert Peel prayed to God to avert from China the calamities that would fall upon it from our policy, and turn from this country those evils which, by the neglect and incapacity of our rulers, it had most righteously deserved. But it had not been as the right hon. Baronet wished. The right hon. Gentleman, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, also in the course of a speech delivered by him in condemnation of the noble Lord's conduct towards China, had charged him with having waged a most unjust and iniquitous war in that country. As the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had attempted to gloss over our conduct in China with reference to these wars, he should like to give a brief sketch of some of our warlike proceedings in that country, and he pledged himself to prove that, however cruel Russia had acted towards Poland, and however cruel Prussia and Austria had acted within the last few months towards Denmark, that our conduct as a nation, under the direction and guidance of the noble Lord, had been ten times worse in China.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,

House adjourned at a quarter after Eight o'clock till Monday next.