§ Earl Stanhope
regretted, that the motion which he was about to propose to their Lordships on the subject of the traffic in opium, had not been taken up by some person of greater abilities, and better able to do justice to the question than he was. But it might, in some degree, compensate for any deficiency on his part, when it was recollected that the individual who brought the subject forward was altogether unconnected with any other party, and could have no other object in view than the honour and interest of his country in introducing a question which deeply involved both the one and the other. In submitting this subject to their Lordships' consideration, he hoped that he should not be obliged to trespass on their Lordships for any great 2 length of time, and, with that view, he should carefully abstain from introducing any extraneous or irrelevant matter, and confine himself, as much as he possibly could, to those points which were intimately connected and interwoven with the question. He trusted that at the outset he might be relieved from the necessity of attempting to demonstrate that which, he believed, was admitted by all to be a political axiom. He believed that no man would dispute the principle, that every foreigner was bound to pay absolute, implicit, unconditional, obedience to the laws of the empire in which he resided, and even more so than to the laws of his own country. This principle was especially recognized and pointed out in the instructions, under the sign manual, given to our superintendent of trade in China. It was there set forth:—And we do require you constantly to bear in mind and to impress, as occasion may offer, upon our subjects resident in, or resorting to China, the duty of conforming to the laws and usages of the Chinese empire.Now, he did not find any exception to 3 this rule with regard to the trade in opium, whether that traffic was carried on within or without the Canton river. It was quite immaterial, and could not, in any decree, affect the duty of obedience and submission on the part of foreigners, what were the grounds upon which particular laws were founded. Whether they were founded on religious and moral feelings, or solely on commercial and fiscal regulations, made no difference. Obedience was still due by the foreigner to those laws. It mattered not whether the prohibition to import opium arose, as he considered that it did, from a wise, benevolent, and magnanimous determination on the pan of the Emperor of China to interdict the importation of a poisonous drug, which had debased the intellect, depraved the character, demoralized the conduct, and destroyed the health and happiness and lives of millions amongst the countless in ha bit ants of that mighty empire; or whether it arose partly or principally from a desire to prevent the exportation of silver, still those laws ought to be obeyed. A learned Gentleman, who had recently written a sort of brief on this subject, had wasted a great deal of paper and ink, in endeavouring to prove that the real cause of the prohibition of the import of opium arose from an anxiety to prevent what the Chinese government, called "the oozing out of silver." He, however, denied that such was the fact. At the same time admitting, for argument's sake, that the statement was true, it would be proper to look at the effect which this drainage of silver was calculated to produce in China. A great rise bad taken place in the value of silver in that country, in consequence of its extensive exportation. The value of the Chinese ounce of silver was equal to 6s. 8d. of English money; and this, at par, was equal to the value of 1,000 cash or copper coin. But, in consequence of the extent of exportation, instead of the ounce of silver being represented, as heretofore, by 1,000 cash, it became equal to 1,500 cash, so that a rise in value to the amount of 50 per cent, had taken place, in consequence of the exportation of silver. This change greatly deranged and most injuriously affected the currency of that country, and occasioned considerable embarrassment to the officers of the Government. With respect to this point, it was stated in the memorial of Hwang Tseotye, in 1838:— 4That the land and capitation taxes, and the contributions for the supply of grain, are paid, for the most part, in all the provinces and districts in copper cash. When the sums collected are accounted for to government, these copper cash have to be exchanged for silver. The loss now experienced upon this exchange is so very heavy, that in consequence of it, the officers have everywhere to supply deficiencies in the revenue; whereas, formerly there was in general, an overplus. The salt merchants of the several provinces always sell the salt for copper coin, while they are invariably required to pay the gabelle in silver.And the memorialist added—If this state of things continues a few years longer, the price of silver will become so enhanced that it will be a question how the revenues collected can possibly be accounted for, or the gubelle paid up.Was it not advisable, then, in such a state of things, that the Chinese Government should take this course? They all very well knew what embarrassment was invariably occasioned to the money and commercial transactions of this country, when a very large exportation took place, and the rate of exchange was thereby turned against us. The consequence always was, that our money transactions were involved in the greatest difficulties. Of course, the exportation of silver must have produced equally unfavourable results in China. According to another memorial, the loss to the Chinese Government was calculated at 3,000,000l. sterling, or to more than the value of 10,000,000 of ounces of silver. Indeed it was stated, in a Canton paper, in April 1833, thatPerhaps nothing could contribute more readily to the final reduction of the Chinese people to reasonable terms with foreigners than this steady and never ceasing impoverishment of the country, by the abstraction of the circulating medium.Here they had an open statement, a candid avowal, that the real object sought to be attained by the opium trade, was to impoverish, and thus to enfeeble the Chinese empire, in order to compel the Government to accede to our demands. Such a declaration, coming from such a quarter, was well calculated to excite the jealousy and suspicion of the Chinese Government, and to induce them immediately to take the most effectual measures to put an end to a system which manifestly tended to the destruction of the liberty and independence of the Chinese empire. This part of the subject however, had only 5 reference to the question, or consequences of the undue stress which had been laid upon the motives alleged to have influenced the Chinese in respect to the exportation of silver. It had been said by those who were interested in the nefarious traffic, and by those who accustomed themselves to repeat by rote, without the trouble of examination, the assertions of those who were thus interested, that there existed, on the part of the Chinese Government, with respect to the opium trade, prohibition in theory, but permission in fact, that the imperial proclamations were considered no more than so much waste paper, and that fees were openly paid to officers who connived at the traffic. Now, he believed that corruption existed in the Chinese empire as well as in other countries, even in our own. Smuggling was carried on to a very great extent here. It was perfectly well known, that foreign silks could be imported here, on the payment of an insurance often per cent., the parties importing taking on themselves all the risk. The consequence was, that our unfortunate silk manufacturers were greatly injured. Now, although smuggling might have been connived at in China, he totally denied that the Imperial Government was cognizant of it. Undoubtedly, while the opium trade was inconsiderable in amount —while the number of its victims was comparatively small—while the pernicious effects of the poisonous drug were but little known, there was nothing particular to excite the apprehension of the Chinese Government, or to call for additional vigilance on its part. But whatever had been the conduct of some of the imperial mandarins—whatever corruption might have existed amongst them, certain it was, that the determination of the Government to put down this trade, when its evils became manifest, was fixed and immutable as the Polar star. After the year 1836, measures were taken, as their Lordships would hereafter see, to put an end to the trade, and, in many instances, with signal success. This he would prove from the evidence on their Lordships' table, and he would clearly show, that there never existed any connivance with respect to this scandalous trade on the part of the Chinese Government. To show what the feeling of the Chinese Government was, he would refer to a secret memorial (which had been surreptitiously obtained) sent to the emperor in 1834, by the officers of the local 6 government, in which they "complained of the daily increase of ships selling opium clandestinely in the outer seas." An imperial edict of November 3rd, 1834, noticed that clandestine sale, andImposed penalties on those who take the opium from the ship, on the officers who are negligent in keeping guard, on those who take fees to connive, and on those who melt (or prepare) opium, and threatens a, stoppage of the trade.Captain Elliott, on the 2nd of February, 1837, acknowledgedThe actual degree of rigorous prohibition," and stated "that for the last two months, the local Government has been keeping a system of severe restriction, with respect to this branch of the trade, which has been successful to a, great extent.Hen Naetze, one of the imperial ministers, in a memorial to the Emperor, stated,That it is indispensably necessary to enact severe prohibitions against the use of opium.Another memorial to the Emperor, in October, 1836, sets forthThat the laws are not wanting in severity, but there are those in office who, from want of energy, fail to carry them into execution.Again, a memorial from the sub-censor, of the same date, observes,But that it (the opium trade) has gone to this length, is altogether attributable to the conduct of the great officers of the abovenamed province in times past; to their sloth and remissness, their fearfulness and timidity, their anxiety to show themselves liberal and indulgent, by which they have been led to neglect obedience to the prohibitory enactments, and to fail in the strict enforcement of the precautionary regulations;and he threatened,If the receiving ships are again brought, that the commercial intercourse shall assuredly be altogether interdicted, and on the resident foreigners of the said nation, the laws shall be executed capitally.He entreated their Lordships to mark this fact, that, even in 1836, the Chinese Government declared, that the traffic in opium called for punishment of a capital nature. In November, 1837, Captain Elliot acknowledgedThat he had frequently been urged to dismiss the opium ships from the usual anchorage outside the port.An edict was published from the Go- 7 vernor, and Lieutenant-Governor of Canton (August 4, 1837), directing, in the name of the Emperor, that the vessels anchored outside the port be immediately sent away, and that "steps be taken to punish all natives engaged in the smuggling of opium." There was another edict from the same (August 17, 1837) again desiring, that those ships be immediately sent away, and stating, "that no contraband articles, such as opium, must be imported." The Prefect of Canton, in writing to Captain Elliot (Sept. 29, 1837), renews that demand, and states that "such receiving ships are to be prohibited ever again coming hither," and that no opium is to be imported. Captain Elliot (November 19, 1837,) mentions "the vigorous proceedings of the provincial government against the native smugglers at the outside anchorages," and allows that "the native boats have been burned, and the native smugglers scattered." Again, Captain Elliot (November 29, 1837,) talks of "the vast opium deliveries at Whampoa, under extremely hazardous circumstances," which he adds, "may certainly, at any moment, produce some dilemma." November 20, 1837. The Prefect of Canton, addressing the Hong merchants, complains that the receiving ships still remain, although two months have elapsed, desires that they may be sent away in one month, and threatens the stoppage of the trade. Captain Elliot, February 5th, 1838, transmitted a memorial from the provincial government, proposing to the Emperor the "stoppage of the regular commerce, until the receiving ships shall have finally taken their departure." He states (April20, 1838) that, in the course of the last two months,The deliveries of opium have frequently been accompanied by conflict of fire arms between those vessels and the Government preventive craft,And that a Chinese was executed for smuggling opium, and "mainly with a view to the intimidation, and for an example to foreigners." Again, (Dec. 8, 1838,) he mentions thatThe Governor has lately incurred the severe displeasure of the court, upon the ground of the lax execution of the orders concerning the more effectual prevention of the traffic in opium," and adds, "a remarkable increase of activity has ensued.The same officer says, (January 21st, 1839), 8There has been no relaxation of vigour of the Government, directed not only against the introduction of the opium, but in a far more remarkable manner against the consumers;And (January 30th, 1839) he observes,There seems, my Lord, no longer reason to doubt that the court has firmly determined to suppress, or more probably, most extensively to check the opium trade.The Governor and Lieutenant-Governor (January, 1839) state, that in consequence of increased severity, "consecutive reports of seizures had been the result, to the number of many hundreds," and again demand that the warehousing ships should be sent away. On the 6th of April, 1839, Captain Elliot said,I had certainly come to the conclusion, for some months since, that the determination of the court to put down the trade was firmly adopted.On the 28th of November, 1839, he stated, "That four months before the arrival of the commissioner, there had been scarcely any deliveries," and that "prices had fallen to between 200 and 300 per cent, below the cost of production and charges." The Hong merchants set forth, in their address to the Chamber of Commerce, December 5th, 1838,By the foreigners smuggling opium we are constantly involved in trouble;" and they add, "that they are determined no longer to suffer for others' misdeeds.In the placard published by their order they observed,We have repeatedly written to the foreigners, begging them not to infringe the prohibitory laws.Here let it be observed, that he did not quote the opinions of those who agreed with him in sentiment on this subject. He should refer to what had been said by Mr. Lindsay, a gentleman who had been long resident in China, and who was perfectly well acquainted with the subject in all its bearings. Mr. Lindsay admitted that the real measures for the suppression of the opium trade commenced in 1837. This was also the opinion of Mr. Warren, that in 1837 and 1838 stringent measures were published by the Chinese, and that the aspect of affairs was becoming every day more and more threatening. In December, 1838, three princes of the imperial family were deprived of their honours for bad practices, of which opium eating was the principal. He might 9 have contented himself by appealing to any impartial man, whether, if it had been the policy of the Chinese Emperor to connive at the traffic, he would not have remained perfectly quiescent, whether he would not have allowed the existing laws to fall into oblivion, and to become a dead letter, and whether he would have called the attention of his subjects, as well as foreigners, against the trade, by renewed edicts. Nay more, their Lordships need not be told that the opium trade was carried on from the receiving ships in a species of galleys which were propelled by a number of oars, and if the wind was favourable by sails, which moved with extraordinary rapidity, and which received from the Chinese the singular appellation of "fast crabs and scrambling dragons," and he would ask whether these appellations and these precautions were not proofs that the trade was known to be illegal, and that measures were necessary to avoid the vengeance of the Chinese Government. They found, also, that the Chinese Government was obliged to construct similar vessels in order to pursue and capture the smugglers. If the continuance of smuggling in any country was the proof of the connivance of any government in it, all the members of the Government of this country were to be charged with connivance at smuggling, for there never was a period in which smuggling was carried on to a greater extent than at present, by persons both of rank and fashion, and by persons whose wealth ought to have prevented them from resorting to such a disgraceful transaction. They were told by some anonymous writer that the mere fact of the long existence of the smuggling of opium was a proof of the connivance of the Government of China. If this gentleman had not designated himself as a barrister at law, he could not have been supposed to belong to any profession, and certainly could not be thought to have considered the value of the weight of evidence, or to have in any manner exerted his reasoning faculties. The character of the opium trade, the disgrace which attended it, the injuries to which it must lead, required no other evidence than that of Captain Elliot himself. He would here trouble their Lordships with a very few extracts to confirm what he said. So far back as February 21, 1837, Captain Elliot stated— 10The fact of such an article being known to be by far the most important part of our import trade, is in itself a source of painful reflection, and the wide-spreading mischief, which the manner of its pursuit has necessarily entailed, so ably and so faithfully represented in some of the papers I have had the honour to transmit to your Lordships, aggravates the discomfort of the whole subject.'' "It cannot be good that the conduct of a great trade should be so dependent upon the steady continuance of a vast prohibited traffic in an article of vicious luxury, high in price, and liable to frequent and prodigious fluctuation. In a mere commercial point of view, therefore, I believe it is susceptible of proof that the gradual diversion of British capital into other channels of employment than this would be attended with advantageous consequences.In November of that year Captain Elliot stated—The actual state of things cannot continue to be left to the turn of events without seriously risking vast public and private interests, or without such deeply-rooted injury to the national character in the estimation of this huge portion of mankind as it is indeed painful to reflect upon.He calls it a trade that is carried on under circumstances that are very discreditable to us. In January 1839, he says—It had been clear to me, my Lord, from the origin of this peculiar branch of the opium traffic, that it must grow to be more and more mischievous to every branch of the trade, and certainly to none more than to that of opium itself. As the danger and the shame of its pursuit increased, it was obvious that it would fall by rapid degrees into the hands of more and more desperate men; that it would stain the foreign character with constantly aggravating disgrace in the sight of the whole of the better portion of this people; and, lastly, that it would connect itself more and more intimately with our lawful commercial intercourse, to the great peril of vast public and private interests. And all these desperate hazards have been incurred, my Lord, for the comparatively insignificant gains of a few reckless individuals, who unquestionably found their conduct on the belief that they are exempt from the operation of all law, British and Chinese.Captain Elliot held the same language in a speech which he had made at a general meeting of all the foreign residents, in December 1838, he said—Such courses exposed us more and more to the just indignation of this Government and people, and diminished the sympathies of our own.In a letter to the Governor of Canton, December 23, 1838, he says— 11The undersigned is without doubt that the continuance of this traffic in the inner waters will involve the whole foreign community at Canton in some disastrous difficulty; and his gracious Sovereign would not interfere for the protection of their property on the behalf of those British subjects who continue to practise these dangerous disorders, after your Excellency's public warning shall be authentically made known to them through the officers of their own nation.In his official notice to the British subjects he declared that this trade—In its general effects was intensely mischievous to every branch of the trade, and that it was rapidly staining the British character with deep disgrace, and, finally, that it exposed the vast public and private interests involved in the peaceful maintenance of our regular commercial intercourse with the empire, in imminent jeopardy.In the Following month, in January, 1839, he again represented—The urgent necessity of arresting the growing audacity of the foreign smugglers.He held the same language after the confiscation of the opium, and called—For the putting down of that trade which every friend of humanity must deplore." "A traffic which by the present means of its pursuit, must every day become more dangerous to the peace of this ancient empire, and more discreditable to the character of the Christian nations under whose flags it is carried on.In his public notice to her Majesty's subjects, dated Macao, June 21, 1839, he spoke again of—'The great evils so justly denounced by his Imperial Majesty, and calls for the suppression of the opium traffic, "and for" a great moral and religious reformation.'And he added—But it is asked on the other hand, whether the wise and good purposes of the Emperor cannot and should not be fulfilled? Most assuredly they can, and they ought.Even in one of the most recent communications in writing to Captain Smith, on October 27, 1839, he calls the illicit trafficDangerous and disgraceful in the last degree," and says "none other than lawful commerce will ever receive the least countenance or protection from the Queen's Government.Now, was it creditable that, after receiving all these and other declarations from the British superintendent of Canton —after these repeated warnings, recording 12 opinions that had been expressed as to the disgraceful and dangerous character of the traffic, was it creditable that her Majesty's Ministers had made no communication whatever to Captain Elliot? On the contrary, the chief attention of the noble Lord, who held the seal of the Foreign-office seemed to have been directed to a point the most insignificant—to the mere question as to the writing to the viceroy in the character "pin." The whole question did not signify a pin; it was not of the value of a Chinese cash— the thousandth part of 6s. 8d. The trade in opium was forbidden within the Canton river; but he had yet to learn what it was which rendered dangerous, disgraceful, and deserving of condemnation and punishment, a trade carried on within the Canton river, but which rendered it perfectly safe, and innocent, and harmless without the river. He was reminded by it of a story told by Mr. Fox of a lady who had been in India, and whose conduct had been represented as much distinguished for gallantry, and who was apologized for by one of her friends, who said that the charges could not by possibility be denied whilst she was in India, but that they were not true on this side of the Cape of Good Hope. So said Captain Elliot,Whether the opium is carried outside the river and lodged and carried afterwards on shore it is sufficient for me, though no British vessels navigate the river.Their Lordships would find an important principle in these extracts, that repeated warnings were given, that reiterated demands were made that the receiving ships should be sent from the outside anchorage; and he would ask, whether such a demand were not in the utmost degree justifiable and proper? Would their Lordships tolerate for an instant, that foreign smuggling vessels should lay at anchorage at Spithead? He did not believe that many days would elapse before fair means or foul would be devised to drive them from thence. He wished now to call the attention of their Lordships to what had been done by Captain Elliot. It was strange and lamentable to see no instructions given to him by any of her Majesty's Ministers; and he was grieved to find in the conduct of any British officer a want of frankness and good faith, which characterized the conduct of Captain Elliot. In the despatch, an ex- 13 tract from which he had taken the liberty of reading to their Lordships, Captain Elliot had been repeatedly required by the Chinese government to send away the opium vessels. What had he done? On September the 25th, 1837, he had acted in a mariner highly unworthy of his character, as well as of the situation in which he was placed, and of the profession to which he belonged. He stated, thatHe sees only the papers of British ships which arrive within the port, and that, therefore, he is without any public means of knowing whether the ships resorting to these anchorages are British ships, what is the nature of their pursuits, whence they come, or whither they go.In November 17th, 1839, he stated,My commission extends only to the regular trade with this empire.And on the following day, November 18th, he stated that—He had no formal knowledge of the existence of any other trade than that to Canton.And on the 19th of that month, he had recourse to an excuse wholly inapplicable to the question, and said that—Her Majesty had neither the right nor the power to forbid the importation of opium in foreign bottoms.Certainly not, if the Chinese wished us to send away the opium in foreign bottoms. On the 21st of November, 1837, heAgain announces in distinct terms, that lie has no authority to pursue the course indicated in the edict of the 20th.On February 5, 1836, Sir George Robinson said,Whenever her Majesty's Government direct us to prevent British vessels engaging in the traffic, we can enforce any order to that effect.Now the sending away of the opium vessels was comparatively of less importance when it could no longer prevent some of those calamitous events which have occurred to disturb the commercial intercourse and peaceful communication, which have so long existed between the two countries. In writing to Captain Blake of the Lame, on the 23rd of March, 1839, he mentioned the British shipping on the outside anchorages, and saidNo doubt many of them have been engaged in the illicit traffic.14 On April the 6th, 1839, he statedBefore the arrival of the High Commissioner, I had steadily considered the expediency of formally requiring all the British ships engaged in the opium trade to sail away from the coast of China,What was the use of such consideration when it was too late? On the 11th of September last he required "that all British vessels engaged in the traffic of opium should immediately depart from the harbour and coast." Why, had he not informed them that he had no authority for that course? He (Earl Stanhope) should wish to know, if ever he had received subsequent authority; whether he did not enjoy the same authority on the 21st of September, 1837, when he had made the first communication, as he did on the 11th of September, 1839, when he made the last. In the first case it might have been useful, in the second case it was of much smaller value; but if he possessed the power, he ought to have used it at the proper time. It was clear that he exercised that power, and that the exercise of it had never been called in question as to its legality and propriety. They all knew that in judicial investigations of cases of strife that arose between different nations, it was most important, and was the in variable practice of the tribunal, to examine what had been the previous disposition and conduct of the parties. Now, if they referred to what had been the previous conduct of the Chinese, they found that it had been, as had uniformly been the case, conciliatory. In the year 1834, notwithstanding the provocation which the Chinese had then recently received, an edict was published by the Emperor to prevent the exactions of the Hong merchants, and which, from the circumstances which attended it, he considered to be of particular value. The Chinese state that "there decidedly must not be the least tendency towards what will occasion the commencement of a bloody quarrel, and commencement of disturbance." In June, 1837, Captain Elliot gave his opinion—Strengthened by every day's experience in this country, that there is an increasing disposition, on the part of the Chinese government, to conciliate that of his Majesty.He praises the humane and generous treatment by the Chinese of some shipwrecked seamen; and in January, 1839, he said, 15I offer these opinions, because I am sure that the Chinese have great confidence in the good faith of the Europeans.Unhappily that confidence appeared entirely misplaced—And because, too, I believe they are, in many important respects, the most moderate and reasonable people on the face of the earth. Seeking nothing but justice (and no people are more capable of clear perceptions of the reality of what they receive under that name), I am persuaded that they will have the good sense, for the sake of mutual convenience, to take it at our hands; regarding, indeed, the form under which it is administered to them with feelings of perfect indifference.Now what was, on the other hand, the conduct of the Europeans? He found, by referring to the papers on the table, that the most insulting and offensive language was used, that the most outrageous conduct was pursued, that the most hostile intentions were manifested, that repeated demands were made for what was called a demonstration of force, and that Captain Elliot himself allowed, so far back as January, 1836, thatThe peaceful and conciliatory policy by which the King's Government appear to me to desire to maintain and promote the commercial intercourse with this empire is not very generally approved amongst the fifty or sixty resident merchants at Canton; and a determination to give it effect, so far as depends upon me, is the least popular task I could have proposed to myself.He trusted that their Lordships would not assent to this measure against China, without passing in review the conduct of Captain Elliot, and examining into the conduct of her Majesty's Ministers. And yet he was told of an enlightened assemblage meeting somewhere in that neighbourhood (composed as it was for the purpose of talking over public affairs, without any degree of party spirit or personal object, but solely for the public good; and, therefore, exhibiting a very laudable and rare instance of public spirit), in a discussion which there took place on the subject of China—not, indeed, as to the injustice of the war which we were on the point of commencing, if we had not actually commenced it, not with respect to the injustice or iniquity, the expediency or inexpediency, of continuing the opium trade, for these topics were, for some reasons or other, most carefully avoided, but a discussion entered into generally with a view 16 of examining what was the conduct of her Majesty's Government—that in this discussion of three days nothing at all was said of the conduct of the Government, and great compliments were paid to the speakers for not having mentioned Captain Elliot. This seemed to him to be just as reasonable as what he had heard of a company of strolling players who had performed the play of Hamlet leaving out the character of the Prince of Denmark. For all the acts of Captain Elliot, whatever they might appear to be, her Majesty's Ministers were responsible to their Lordships and to the country; not, indeed, as having advised or directed those acts at the time, or as being cognizant of them then, but as having been, what was called in law, accessaries after the fact. This was his position, and he held it to be quite incontrovertible; for it was not perfectly clear, that if Captain Elliot had omitted to perform any part of his instructions from home, or done anything which he had been directed not to do, or which he ought not to have done, her Majesty's Ministers ought to have recalled him, whatever family he belonged to. Retaining him in his position was a tacit approval of his conduct on the part of the Government. What that conduct had been, he (Earl Stanhope) should next proceed to explain, and in doing that, he begged their Lordships to give him their attention continuously. On the 27th of December, 1837, Captain Elliot wrote to the effect, that no Government can afford to be reduced to utter contempt in the sight of its own people by a handful of heedless foreigners; the sacrifice, in point of public estimation, is far too considerable. He (Earl Stanhope) knew it had been said, and much insisted upon by those who viewed all questions through the distorted views of party politics, that all these disasters had arisen from the want of sending sufficient powers to Captain Elliot, but without inquiring into this any further, he would content himself with asking had not Captain Elliot powers of non-intervention at least? Yet their Lordships would find, that in February 1837, at a time when the Chinese government had made a formal communication to Captain Elliot, that certain individuals among the English were more than suspected of being concerned in smuggling opium, among others, an English gentleman who was designated by the Chinese 17 as "the iron headed old rat." Captain Elliot went the length of stating,Your Lordship may rely upon my measured but firmest opposition to an intolerably injurious aggression of this practical nature.A great deal had been said about the imprisonment, as it was called, of Captain Elliot in Canton, and it was asked what can be thought of a foreign nation which imprisons the ambassador of a friendly state? But, in the first place, Captain Elliot was no more an ambassador at Canton than he was; Captain Elliot was no more than a mere consular agent. In the second place, was it imprisonment that he suffered? But between detention and imprisonment, there was a great difference. The noble Earl opposite (Lord Minto) was far too acute not to see that; the difference was as great as that between an ambassador and a consular agent. And how were the Chinese to blame? Captain Elliot had forced his way up to Canton, when he found that the English merchants were detained there, and in his opinion justly detained, and then Captain Elliot was astonished, as he professed, that he should be detained too. But there was no reason for his astonishment, for he (Earl Stanhope) denied that he was detained. There was, as far as he could find, no evidence whatever that having arrived at Canton, Captain Elliot applied for permission to return, and that such permission was refused. But what was the reason of his going up to Canton! He went, notwithstanding the "earnest dissuasion" of a chief Mandarin, and in defiance of opposition. What was the reason of the detention of the merchants then? A Mr. Dent, a leading merchant, having been charged with importing opium in large quantities, the Chinese provincial government thought it necessary to take strong measures. And yet, notwithstanding that the supplies were accordingly stopped, and stopped, as the merchants declared, in consequence of Mr. Dent's opposition to the high commissioner's "summons," Captain Elliot took Mr. Dent to his house and refused to allow him to attend upon the high commissioner, although he declared that if Mr. Dent would willingly go and see the commissioner the trade should be reopened; and although three officers, sent by the provincial government, had called Heaven to witness that they would safely conduct and bring back Mr. Dent. Was there any thing blameable in this? Was 18 it unusual that when persons were charged with an offence they should be taken up to prevent their absconding? He would ask whether persons in our own country, or in any other country in Europe, when accused of an offence, were not bound to render obedience to the orders of the magistrates of the country? But this kind of conduct continued throughout. Captain Elliot arrived in Canton on the 24th of March. On the 25th he sent a letter to the Governor. The letter hardly could have reached the Governor before Captain Elliot seemed to have repented, and wrote to the Governor requesting that the letter might be returned, and an officer sent to him that all might be peaceably settled. Well, the Chinese Government sent not one officer, but five, three prefects, and two magistrates, and that, not once, but several times; but Captain Elliot did not to the last even show himself. On the 27th of the same month Captain Elliot ordered the surrender of the opium for the service of her Majesty's Government, and declared himself responsible on the behalf of the Government, to those who surrendered it. On the 13th of April he offered to the Portuguese Governor of Macao "immediate facilities on the British Treasury to any extent" for the purpose of putting the works at Macao "in a state of effectual defence, and for the equipment of a sufficient number of armed vessels." And here he wished to know whether Captain Elliot had authority for making this offer any more than any other consular agent has authority to draw on the British Treasury to any extent; whether he had any authority, direct or implied, to make this offer to the Portuguese government, "for the purpose of putting the works at Macao into a state of effectual defence, or for the equipment of a sufficient number of armed vessels?" The fact was, that in the one case equally with the other he had no authority at all for his conduct. With respect to the responsibility of the Government at home for Captain Elliott's acts, he was willing to rest the whole case upon the declaration of Lord Palmerston, made by him in writing to Captain Elliot on June 15, 1838. The noble Lord said:—Her Majesty's Government cannot interfere for the purpose of enabling British subjects to violate the laws of the country to which they trade. Any loss, therefore, which such persons may suffer, in consequence of 19 the more effectual execution of the Chinese law on the subject, must be borne by the parties who have brought that loss on themselves by their own actsAfter that letter of Lord Palmerston, the case of Captain Elliot, in his opinion, had not a leg to stand upon. That letter was an express condemnation of the whole of the case. With such a document proved against it, nothing could prevent its being hooted out of any court of justice in the country. How was it, then, that Captain Elliot and his acts were still supported by the Government? He would like to know, too, when that despatch was received by Captain Elliot, and why it had not been promulgated? If it had, the evils which they were then deploring Would never have taken place. But then the blame was attempted to be thrown upon the Chinese Government. In answer to this, he would request their Lordships to consider themselves in a similar position to that government, and then reflect what would be their course. Would they basely, meanly, ignominiously submit to see their laws violated by a handful of reckless individuals who despised the customs, usages, and laws of the country, as well as the edicts of its magistrates; or would they consider themselves bound to give up their independence and submit to any terms that a foreign people might choose to dictate. If they were not sunk and fallen to be the lowest of the creation —if they determined to vindicate their own laws and ordinances from repeated insults, how would they have acted according to the Chinese calm method? In October, 1836, edicts were in existence declaring capital punishment to be the penalties for dealing in opium. The law now in force was, therefore, not an ex post facto law as had been said. He would willingly have referred to that edict, but he found it was not in the documents which had been published by order of Government. However, Captain Elliot certainly ought to have presented that document to the Government here. If he had not done so, he had neglected his duty. The document provided as an alternative that persons found dealing in opium might be sent to be slaves to the military on the confines of Tartary. What would be the consequence of an infringement of such a law in England? By the last statute for preventing smuggling, the 3rd and 4th William 4th, c. 53. sec. 44, 20Every person who shall assist, or be in any way concerned in the illegal removal of any goods from any warehouse or place of security in which they shall have been deposited, shall forfeit either the treble value thereof, or the penalty of 100l.Such was the treatment awarded to smugglers by the laws of England, and if the Chinese had acted on a similar plan, they would have confiscated not merely the value of the opium which was seized, but treble the value. The Chinese, therefore, acting as they had done, had not acted up to the spirit of their own laws; they had not acted in the spirit of our laws, they had acted with kindness instead of rigour in all their proceedings with respect to the trade in opium, and to those who ought to have been punished for violating their laws, and there was, therefore, no ground of complaint against them. But it was asked, why had they not resorted to their old system of stopping the trade? The reply was, because that would have been to punish the innocent along with the guilty, for to stop the trade would have punished the ship-owners, and the owners of goods shipped for China from this country, and many other persons who were not guilty of any offence against the government of China or its edicts. In this respect; therefore, the conduct of the Chinese government was kind and considerate; indeed, he was at a loss to know to what the general terms made use of in her Majesty's proclamation referred, in which it was stated that injurious proceedings had been taken by the officers of the Chinese government against her Majesty's officers and subjects. He (Earl Stanhope) did not know what these injurious proceedings were. He thought that the opium smugglers had been treated by the Chinese government with more kindness than if they had been proceeded against either according to the spirit of the English or of Chinese law. Then, again, if reprisals were necessary on our part, why had not the Americans made reprisals? Was it because they were less careful of the national honour? Or that they were less able to resent an insult than the British; or that they were less prepared for war? The fact was, they were better prepared than we; they had no national debt to cripple their resources; and whatever the noble Earl opposite might think, their navy was far more formidable than ours; and, moreover, it was manned by British 21 seamen. Then, as to the stoppage of trade, it must not be forgotten that if Canton was the only place where the trade could be carried on, in consequence, among other reasons, of the necessity of constant communication with the Hong merchants; and if Captain Elliot was responsible for the departure of the merchants from Canton, as he undoubtedly was, for he ordered it, then Captain Elliot was properly responsible for the cessation of the trade. But what was his course afterwards? He had read in the papers on the table for the first time, that a British officer, forgetful of the flag under which he served, and which had never before had a stain, had thrown himself upon the protection of an officer of the Portuguese Government, the governor of Macao. For his part, he must say, that sooner than have thrown himself upon a foreign officer for protection, there was no extremity of difficulty or danger which he would not have gone through. This expedient, too, was resorted to for so light an object as the gain of a little time merely, for three days afterwards he applied to the Governor-general of India forAs many ships of war as can be detached and armed vessels;" "the whole to be instructed to conform to my requisitions.The application, however, did not seem to have been very successful, and he had no doubt, while the conduct of Captain Elliot was such as he had attempted to describe to their Lordships, the Governor-general of India would hesitate to entrust Captain Elliot not only with the control of as many ships of war as could be detached, but with that of a single man-of-war's boat. Their Lordships would next find Captain Elliot, on the 5th of September, allowing that he was "responsible for causing the first shot to be fired" at Kow Lune; and he spoke ofThose feelings of irritation which have betrayed me into a measure that I am sensible, under less trying circumstances, would be difficult, indeed, of vindication.Difficult! He might have said not that it was difficult, but that it was altogether impossible to vindicate such conduct. He attacked the ships at Hong-Kong without justifiable cause. It might be true that the bond which the Chinese government required to have signed was improper; but if it was considered a decided objection to the continuance of traffic with them, how was it that the Americans, who refused to 22 sign that bond, still continued their residence there? Undoubtedly Captain Elliot had this duty to perform—to give warning to the captains of British ships of the new situation of difficulty and danger they were likely to be placed in, and then to leave them to act upon their own discretion. Captain Elliot complained of the extreme inconvenience of the submission of the Americans; but he afterwards found it not only convenient, but very profitable, to the Englishmen in that part of the world; for it enabled them to make a transshipment of their goods into American vessels. It was but just to state that the Americans participated in a much less degree than the English in the guilt attending this traffic in opium. From a paper laid before the Chamber of Commerce it appeared that the proportion of opium introduced into China under the English flag was one-half, and under the American flag one-thirtieth; and the American subjects were formally warned that the trade in that article was not sanctioned by the American Government. Their Lordships were aware that an affray, in which three Chinese subjects lost their lives, took place at Wharnpoa; and Captain Elliot expressed his readiness to assist in the discovery of the guilty persons. But the measures which he adopted could not by possibility have led to such a result, for he seemed to have expected among his own crew not only witnesses, but accusers also. He ought to have required the presence of those Chinese who had witnessed the affray, and have identified the murderer, and the investigation should have been carried on in the presence of the representatives of both nations. The Chinese government, therefore, were justified in saying that they would not allow foreigners to remain in their territory who, after the murder of a Chinese subject, declared they could give no redress. Captain Elliot at length proposed, when too late, a joint investigation, congenial to the customs of both nations, and the Governor of Canton replied, that as soon as the witnesses were able to confront the parties, there would be no difficulty in discovering the murderer. Captain Elliot next proceeded to declare a blockade, because a boat sent up the river by British subjects did not return at the expected period, and he concluded that it had been detained by the Chinese. Subsequently the boat reappeared, and the blockade was declared 23 to be raised; but in the mean time a circumstance of some significance had occurred, though it was not communicated in Captain Elliot's despatches. The American merchants at Canton formally protested against the blockade, and declared that they should hold Captain Elliot responsible for the loss of life and property thereby occasioned. Then again Captain Elliot had issued a paper, denouncing the opium trade, but that document which would have satisfied the Chinese authorities if it had been published in proper time, was issued too late, and had the appearance of being a subterfuge. Again Captain Elliot had engaged in a contest with the Chinese fleet and had sunk three Chinese junks, which was not the way to restore the interrupted harmony. He should say nothing respecting the evil effect of the opium traffic, because they were sufficiently known, but he would make a short statement as to the extent of the mischief produced among the Chinese population by the importation of opium. It had been computed by Dr. Sigmond, who had paid much attention to the subject, that the smoke of about three grains and a-half of opium, which might be inhaled at a single inspiration, was sufficient to produce intoxication, and that the daily consumption of a confirmed opium-smoker was thirty-one grains. The quantity of opium imported into China was sufficient to supply 12,000,000 of smokers annually, or, in other words, to send so many human beings to another world at no great distance of time. A recent traveller in China had stated that it was estimated that, in the year 1836, the quantity of smokable extract prepared was 32,200,000 taels weight, and this was supposed to have supplied about 12,500,000 of smokers during the year. What was the character of the population among which this poison was introduced? China was not a state narrow in its limits, or small in its population. It contained about 1,200,000 square miles, and, he believed, a population of about 400,000,000 souls, equal to nearly two-fifths of all the inhabitants of the globe. The Chinese were not a barbarous nation, though if they were, they would, like all the members of the human family, be entitled to justice and protection; but they were a people not only the most numerous and most ancient, but the most industrious, intelligent, and ingenious; the best edu- 24 cated that ever had existed either in ancient or modern times; adorned by amiable qualities, by a constant cheerfulness and good humour. But it was said, that this trade could not be prevented. True, and neither could the slave trade be prevented, yet their Lordships had thought right about thirty years ago to cast from them the infamy and guilt attending that iniquitous and nefarious traffic. Their Lordships could not prevent slavery, but they had deemed it right to make an enormous sacrifice of money in order to have the satisfaction of knowing that shivery no longer existed in any part of the British kingdom. Among other idle observations, it was said, was it intended that the British Government should establish a sort of coast guard or preventive service for the empire of China? Unquestionably not. But it was desired that British subjects should be prevented from violating the laws of that country, and trampling on the most solemn obligations; that they should be prohibited from doing that which was not only disgraceful in its nature, but detrimental in its consequences to the interests of this nation. The illicit traffic in opium was injurious to the legal trade of this country with China, for, as the exportation of opium from the British dominions increased, the exportation of other commodities decreased. Their Lordships were aware that loud complaints were made in the manufacturing districts respecting the decay of trade. Let them, then, take care, lest, by the measures adopted against China, the distress now existing should be increased. Could it be a matter of indifference that, conjointly with the loss arising from what was called the great penny-postage stamp scheme, there should also be a sacrifice of 4,000,000l. of revenue formerly collected on Chinese merchandise? In addition to this, if hostilities against China were to stop to-morrow, new taxes would be required for the payment of the expenses already incurred ill preparing the expedition. He wished to warn their Lordships of the consequences which must ensue if our Government attempted to blockade the river of Canton. If the Americans recognized the blockade, the whole China trade would be lost to this country, as well as the revenue derivable therefrom, and the consumption of an article, which had become one of the first necessaries of life, would be prevented in this country. 25 If the Americans did not recognize the blockade, and the British attempted to enforce it, the former would have no difficulty in putting an end at once to all disputes respecting the frontier in North America, and ending for ever all discussions in their Lordships' House and elsewhere, with respect to Canada, by wresting from England the whole of her remaining possessions in that part of the world. He was informed, that a noble Secretary of State, on being asked what was the object of the war with the Chinese, replied—" Indemnity, satisfaction, and improved intercourse." With respect to indemnity, the noble Lord ought to have recollected what had been stated by one of his own colleagues in these despatches respecting Chinese affairs —thatThose who violated the laws of the Chinese empire must do so at their own risk.As well as what had been stated by Captain Elliot, who in his despatch of the 28th of November represented—The stock of opium given up to the Chinese as nearly useless, and its confiscation as a measure nothing short of salvation to the opium trade generally considered.He feared that this aggression against the Chinese, though recently committed, had not been so recently imagined. He feared it had been mainly induced by a notion that the Chinese government was weak, as a military power, and unprepared for defence. Whether this was or was not the case, could only be known by the result; but he could not believe, until events forced him to believe it, that a people unbounded in population, animated by the purest patriotism and by the most enthusiastic attachment to the laws and institutions under which they had enjoyed prosperity and peace, that a population pre-eminently distinguished above all others for intelligence and sagacity would succumb to the outrage meditated against them. The British might commit acts of piracy and murder on the coast of China; their progress might be marked by fire and blood; but they would be doing that which was abhorent in the sight both of God and man, and would call down the vengeance of Heaven on their heads; and if, as he believed, the loss of their Indian empire should be the result of a war, unnecessary and unjust, this would be but a small retribution for their crime. But, 26 whatever the result of the war might be, it would be a war of most flagrant injustice, utterly indefensible on the only principle upon which war, with all its calamities and horrors could be justified:—Justum bellum quia necessarium—pia arma quibus nulla nisi in armis salus. The necessary effect of this war would be not only to retard, but to prevent, if not to render altogether impossible, the propagation of the Gospel in China. The people of that country would be led to view the missionaries merely as canting hypocrites or vile impostors, seeing that the English brought the Bible in one hand and poison in the other. He had thus endeavoured to show that the opium traffic had been the sole cause of the war which had already commenced; that it was dishonourable and disgraceful in its character, detrimental to all the interests of this country, and an infraction of all the rights of independent states, which, whether great or small, powerful, or powerless, it was the duty of this country alike to respect. He had also pointed out some of the consequences which were likely to flow from it; and he entreated their Lordships to join with him in voting for an address to her Majesty, the object of which was to prevent the continuance of this traffic, and thus to establish the only firm and secure footing on which commercial intercourse could exist between the two countries. Having discharged his duty, however feebly and imperfectly, in bringing this subject before their Lordships, he should certainly take the sense of the House upon the motion, however small might be the number who should divide with him. He now begged to move —That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, to express to her Majesty the deep concern of this House in learning that an interruption has occurred in the friendly relations and commercial intercourse which had so long subsisted with the Chinese empire; and to represent to her Majesty that these calamities have, in the opinion of this House, been occasioned by British subjects having persevered in taking opium to China, in direct and known violation of the laws of that empire; and to request that her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take immediate measures for the prevention of such proceedings, which are so dishonourable to the character, and so detrimental to the interests of her subjects; and to assure her Majesty, that if any additional powers should be found requisite for the purpose, this House will readily concur in granting them to her Majesty.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, the noble Earl had commenced his speech by making two promises, one of which was, that he would discuss this matter with perfect coolness, calmness, and temper, and without any political or personal allusion whatever; the second, that he would occupy but a small portion of their Lordships' attention. He did not think the noble Earl had kept the first of these promises; he felt perfectly certain he had not adhered to the second. Yet, considering the great importance of the subject, the number and length of the documents to which it was necessary to refer, perhaps, the noble Earl had not taken up more of their Lordships' time than was requisite to elucidate and discuss the question. The noble Earl began by laying down the principle, that a foreigner was bound, at all times, not only to respect, but to pay much more implicit obedience to the laws of that country in which he resided than even to his own. This certainly was somewhat startling in sound; but unquestionably there was much truth in the observation, because a foreigner might by his acts affect the question of peace or war between the country in which he resided and his own—a responsibility which did not rest upon him while at home. It was, therefore, the moral duty of every individual residing in a foreign country, to pay deference, obedience and respect to its laws; but whether the high degree of morality was to be expected of those who were engaged in the pursuits of gain he must leave their Lordships to determine. There was another observation made by the noble Earl in the commencement of his speech, in which he entirely agreed.—it was not for us to inquire into the sincerity of the Chinese government, and whether they were really actuated by the high motives of morality they professed or by the apprehension of losing the circulating medium by an undue exportation of silver. The law of that country being known, it should be respected, and no country should encourage or abet in its subjects the violation of the laws of another. At the same time it was matter of question how far one country could enforce the prohibitory laws of another, and how far the Government of the one could prevent the violation particularly of the fiscal, revenue, and protective laws of the other. This introduced quite a new consideration, which went to the 28 very root of the present question. He did not quite agree with the noble Lord' political economy, although it was borrowed from the Chinese Minister, with respect to the great detriment that empire must suffer from the exportation of its silver; but it was not necessary now to enter upon that subject. The noble Earl stated what was no doubt true, that for a long series of years, as appeared from various parts of this correspondence, there had been very strong intimations, symptoms not to be mistaken, that matters were coming to a crisis with respect to the opium question, and that it was almost impossible something should not take place in relation to it. But the noble Lord said there was great fault on the part of the Government in not sending out instructions suitable to the emergency. He maintained there was no fault whatever in the conduct of the Government in that respect. It was quite impossible, looking at this correspondence, to point out any period at which instructions could have been sent out which would not have found a state of circumstances wholly different from that which must have been contemplated at the time they were determined on and framed. And their Lordships would recollect, looking at these matters, that the trade in opium, increasing to a vast extent, had attracted the very serious and deliberate notice of the Chinese government. It was quite clear something must be done, but it was quite uncertain what would be done. It was a question whether the trade would be prohibited or legalized. The noble Earl had read an extract from an exceedingly able paper drawn up by a person whose name he would not venture to pronounce, strongly urging the legalization of the trade in opium. It was generally supposed that in the government of China there was a considerable contest on the subject. He had even heard the majority stated by which the question had been decided. Unquestionably it had been very long in debate and discussion, and it could not be anticipated what the decision would be, and no doubt the expectation that the trade might be legalized had led to an increase of speculation in the drug. The opium trade was an old Indian monopoly. It had been adopted by Lord Cornwallis in 1787, with the view of protecting the revenue, without reference to the Chinese market, and without considering the poli- 29 tical advantages or difficulties that might ensue. Upon looking into the subject on Indian finance, when it was detailed year by year to the other House of Parliament, their Lordships would find that Java and the other Dutch islands were the markets for the vend of opium; and the revenue was collected with reference more to the political relations of this country and Holland than with the view of smuggling it into China, A Dutch war interrupted the trade more than any prohibition. The trade with China was open till 1796, when the importation of opium was prohibited. The importation was then very small; it had since grown to a great amount. The noble Earl complained of the want of adequate instructions. In no view could instructions more definite have been sent out than those which were to be found in the despatches of his noble Friend, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The noble Earl confined the charges against his noble Friend to this point, but he had made a most severe, bitter, and in many respects most unjustifiable attack on the gentleman to whom were committed the interests of this country in that quarter of the globe, and who had conducted himself throughout with the greatest coolness, ability, and judgment. It afforded some presumption in favour of Captain Elliot, that considering the nature of the debate, and the asperity with which the whole of this question had recently been discussed in all its bearings upon the Government, no complaint had been made; on the contrary, there was a general assent as to the prudence, propriety, and wisdom of that officer's conduct in the trying and novel circumstances in which he had been placed. The noble Earl said, the Government was responsible for the acts of Captain Elliot, if not by previous instruction and authorization, at least by subsequent approbation. That most distinctly was so. Considering the situation in which Captain Elliot was placed—considering the novelty of the circumstances with which he had to deal, and the dangers by which he was surrounded—he was not prepared to say, that every act was precisely the best that could have been suggested, but at the same time he was very loth, at so great a distance and in ignorance of the circumstances, to pass any censure upon him; on the contrary, so far as he could form a judgment, that officer appeared to have conducted himself with the greatest judgment, the 30 greatest prudence, the greatest firmness, and the greatest resolution. He did not wish to say anything against the character the laws, institutions, and character of the Chinese. The noble Earl seemed evidently to be strongly impressed with admiration of that country, their laws, institutions, and the whole of their conduct; and he seemed to think that the whole duty of Captain Elliot was to carry into effect the laws of the Chinese, not to afford protection to her Majesty's subjects, whose interests were committed to his care. Instead of sheltering Mr. Dent, the noble Earl seemed to think that it was the duty of Captain Elliot to send him before the High Commissioner. But violence being apprehended, that officer had acted most wisely and firmly in determining that Mr. Dent should not surrender. The noble Earl ascribed the banishment of the English from Canton and the cessation of their traffic to the conduct of Captain Elliot; but, considering how they had been surrounded and imprisoned, and threatened to be deprived of all sustenance, it was his duty to do his best to deliver them from the danger and violence to which they were exposed. Captain Elliot's application to the Portuguese governor of Macao was also, under the circumstances, perfectly justifiable. The firing on the junks at Hong Kong was certainly his most imprudent act; but, considering the circumstances in which he was placed, the irritation to which he had been subjected, and the fact that he could not obtain the supplies he sought for, even if there had been some imprudence in the act, he did think it should be entirely overlooked and considered in no degree blameable. The same might be said of the blockade established, because he thought a boat's crew had fallen into the hands of the Chinese, and that measure was considered necessary to extricate them from the dangerous situation in which they were supposed to be placed. The noble Earl had addressed to their Lordships a great deal of declamation connected with this subject, and asked whether he was indifferent to the present state of our relations with China, and the condition of our revenue at home. He was not insensible to those matters; he felt their importance and their difficulty, as much perhaps, as the noble Earl could; but when the noble Earl called upon their Lordships to agree to this address, at once 31 to put an end to any hostilities at present meditated or likely to take place, he must ask whether there was any ground to suppose that if agreed to it would produce any such effect? On the contrary, it must have an entirely different effect, not only on any hostilities that might take place, but on any negotiations which might be instituted by the country. He (Viscount Melbourne) was sorry that the use of opium prevailed in China, just as he was sorry that intoxication by means of ardent spirits existed in this country; perhaps he did not go quite to the same extent as the noble Earl, who maintained the principle of total abstinence, and probably considered temperance as a greater heresy than excess; but as far as regarded the intemperate use of stimulants or narcotics, he (Viscount Melbourne) deplored it as much as the noble Earl. He was unquestionably sorry that the trade in opium had grown up to its present extent, he was sorry, although no fault could be charged upon any one for it, and he felt great concern and regret when he saw the government was so connected with the cultivation and export of the drug; and, although he was not prepared to give a pledge that the cultivation should be discontinued, still he felt concern that a system should be pursued which, in the eyes of the world, identified the Government of this country in some degree with the propagation of the evils arising from the use of opium. But he begged the noble Earl and their Lordships to consider what was the actual state of the question: here was a great empire, of immense extent; and if we were to believe the accounts which were given of it, of a still more immense population, whose desire for this drug was unlimited. It was found he believed, among all nations in which the use of wine and spirits was either prohibited by religion or discountenanced by custom, that the want was supplied by stimulants of another kind. It was said by some that the means taken in this case to supply the want were more deleterious than the use even of ardent spirits; that he could hardly conceive to be the case. The statement certainly surprised him very much. Of course, his surprise could not be put in competition with actual proof, but he should be astonished if the case against opium was as strong as that against ardent spirits or fermented liquors; in the first place it was not so palatable. 32 The reason why wine and brandy were so dangerous was, that exclusively of the excitement and feeling of satisfaction which they produced, they were very agreeable to the taste. It was the union of these two qualities which made it so difficult to refrain from the use of spirits and fermented liquors, although it would perhaps be better for our health if we did. But these inferences of course could not contradict facts, and it was said that opium was sought for with an avidity almost uncontrollable. There was then an empire in which this demand existed, and there were territories of our own in which there was an almost unlimited power of raising the poppy from which the opium was prepared; besides this, there were great independent states in which the cultivation had been increased to an unlimited degree. If we limited the growth of the poppy in our own dominions, how could we put a limit to its growth in independent states? He imagined it was not proposed to do more than limit the growth; it could not be absolutely forbidden, for it furnished one of the most powerful drugs with which we were acquainted, and the physician could less dispense with it than with almost any other. It was one of the most powerful remedies for numerous diseases which science had discovered and art applied. Suppose, then, we succeeded in limiting the growth of the poppy in our own dominions, or even throughout the peninsula, still along the whole line of the Indus, through the Punjab and Scinde, the trade would continue, and when the drug was to be had, it could not be supposed that our traders, who were as adventurous as any in the world, would not be engaged in carrying it to a profitable market. If the address were carried, it would only hold out delusive expectations which we should never be able to fulfil, for we should not have the power of restraining our own subjects from smuggling opium, and we should incur the disgrace and reproach of trying in vain to suppress the trade, and we should be accused, as we had been on former occasions, and particularly with reference to the slave trade, of having made these demonstrations without any serious intention of putting down the traffic, but for the purpose of deterring others from engaging in the trade, in order that we might gain greater profit from it ourselves. He thought that their Lord- 33 ships hardly intended to interfere at present by an address to the Crown with the measures which were about to be taken for the purpose of bringing the dispute with China to a satisfactory conclusion, and he begged leave to say, that this address, if carried, would be considered as a vindication of the conduct of the Chinese authorities, and as a complete declaration in their favour. It would also have the effect of anticipating one of the principal terms which we should have to offer, supposing the measures now in progress led, as he hoped they would, to a speedy negotiation with the Emperor of China. By agreeing to such an address their Lordships would probably be throwing away one means of gaining an advantage in that negotiation. He thought the address was not quite correctly framed; it commenced by expressing to her Majesty the deep concern of this House on learning that an interruption had occurred in the friendly relations and commercial intercourse which had so long subsisted with the Chinese empire. More could not have been said if the address were speaking of Austria or any other power with which we were engaged in alliance. The address was next "to represent to her Majesty that these calamities have, in the opinion of this House, been occasioned by British subjects having persevered in bringing opium to China, in direct and known violation of the laws of that empire." He (Viscount Melbourne) admitted, that the interruption of our relations had been occasioned by the opium trade, which had been the immediate cause of bringing the matter to a crisis; but that trade had been carried on and had increased by the connivance of the Chinese authorities at the place where it was carried on. One high functionary, to be sure, was anxious for the honour of the emperor and the supreme government, and declared that he had never taken any part in the proceedings, but had been firm as the polar star; but still among the imperial mandarins there was a general connivance at the trade, and, in fact, it was only by means of such connivance that the trade could possibly have arrived at the extent which it had reached. It was, therefore, hardly fair to ascribe the whole evils of the traffic to the obstinate perseverance of English traders. The address was to conclude by requesting that "her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take immediate mea- 34 sures for the prevention of such proceedings, which are so dishonourable to the character and so detrimental to the interests of her subjects, and by assuring her Majesty that if any additional powers should be found requisite for the purpose, this House will readily concur in granting them to her Majesty." This appeared to be the most objectionable part of the proposed address, for it held out expectations which there was no prospect of fulfilling. It would be a mere delusion. There were great difficulties in the way, the traffic being of great extent, and the habits on which it depended inveterate. He was of opinion that it should receive serious consideration whether a better system might not be introduced, which would give less encouragement to the traffic, and have less the appearance of connecting it with the Government of this country; but, seeing at present no means of accomplishing this, he could not give any further pledge on behalf of himself or the Government.
§ The Duke of Wellington
felt as strong objections as the noble Viscount did to the interference of the House in a question of this description. He should therefore propose to their Lordships to vote for the previous question. He desired to give no opinion as to the course which ought to be followed in negociating with China. He thought the House ought not to interfere and decide upon the present discussion that the Chinese government and the Chinese authorities were right, and that her Majesty's subjects and her Majesty's superintendent of trade upon the spot, and her Majesty's Government at home, were wrong. He said that that question was one on which he desired that the House should forbear giving any opinion. It was a question on which he was not himself prepared to give any opinion. He might be prepared with the knowledge which was to be gathered from the blue books and the documents which were before their Lordships, but he did not know the force, he did not know the means, he was ignorant of the resources which could be brought to bear in order to avenge the insult and injury which we had sustained, supposing an insult had been offered to her Majesty and an injury had been done to her Majesty's people. Therefore, he entreated their Lordships not to give any vote on this address, being determined himself, if he could not prevail upon their 35 Lordships to vote for the previous question, to give no vote at all, because he would not make himself responsible for a war or for operations, without knowing what means there were for carrying on operations; nor, on the other hand, would take upon himself the responsibility of advising her Majesty and the country to submit to an insult and to injuries such as he believed had never been before inflicted on this country. [Hear.] He could prove it. He maintained that such insults had never been offered to any person residing under the protection of a foreign Government as had been offered to her Majesty's superintendent on the part of the Chinese authorities. It was perfectly true, as had been stated by the noble Earl, that the opium trade was carried on contrary to the laws of China, but it was carried on with the knowledge of the local authorities upon the spot where the trade was carried on. They received large payments by way of bribes or duties, or possibly both, on the importation of opium for admission into the ports of China. This fact appeared by the voluminous and very able report upon their Lordships' table. This report showed, that the existence of the trade, although forbidden by law, was perfectly well known to the authorities, to the Emperor himself, and to the principal servants of the Government for many years, and that a discussion had continued for many months upon the question, whether the trade should be allowed and continued with a duty, or discontinued altogether. He was sure that the noble Earl, who contended so strongly for the morality of the empire of China would not contend that the morality of the empire, so far as it was affected by the consumption of opium, would be at all improved by the circumstance of the drug being introduced at a large duty, instead of being introduced by means of smuggling and bribes paid to officers of the Government, and being brought from the exterior to the interior waters in mandarin boats—that was, by boats either in the service of Government, or, at all events, under the charge of its officers. He did not see the force of the noble Earl's argument with respect to the illegality of the trade, when it was as clear as possible, that it was known to the Government of China, and that no steps were taken to put it down, and that when it was finally put down and discontinued, 36 it was only because it was supposed to occasion the export of a large quantity of native or sycee silver. Neither the noble Earl nor the noble Viscount had adverted to a report from Captain Elliot in the month of February, 1837, stating that, at the same time, the export of native silver was prohibited, and the trade in opium would be continued and legalized. Now, while the noble Earl was addressing their Lordships, he (the Duke of Wellington) had looked for the date when that report was received, and he found that it was received in the month of November, 1837; so that up to this period, at all events, the Government in this country had reason to believe that the trade would be allowed to go on. With respect to the trade in opium, as far as British interests were concerned, he conceived that the question must be looked at in another point of view. The trade was well known to the Government of India; it was well known to both Houses of Parliament; it was well known to her Majesty's Government, as well as to the Government of the East-India Company, and to the Governments preceding the present Administration. He had sat upon a committee in that House to inquire into this, among other branches of trade, and he declared that one of the great objects which they then had in view was, that this trade in opium should be continued after the monopoly of the East-India Company was done away with. Questions were put to the witnesses, whether it were possible to extend the trade of India, particularly that branch of it which consisted of the trade in opium; and in the report of the committee of the other House of Parliament it was expressly stated to be desirable that the opium trade should be continued. Under these circumstances it was really a little hard to turn round upon these merchants, and to say, they had been guilty of an offence for which they ought to be punished, not only by the loss of their property, but by being absolutely abandoned by their own Government—to tell them that they had been the cause of the war, and of these great misfortunes, and that they should never have any redress whatever. He, for one, could not see the justice of such a proceeding. He wanted to see what it was that had immediately caused this war. He saw clearly it could not be opium. He wanted to see what was the cause of the war, and, then, what were the means 37 of carrying it on, and what resources there were, before he ventured to give any opinion on the subject. And he did entreat their Lordships to avoid giving any opinion until the last moment, either on one side or the other, and until they knew more of what were the real intentions and objects of the Government. It would then be their duty to take that course which they thought proper, and he hoped it would be to give the Government that support which they ought to receive, if the war was a just and necessary one. In the mean time, it would be better for their Lordships to avoid coming to any vote on the subject. He had been the more anxious concerning it, because he must say, that he had not for a long time read accounts of such proceedings as had taken place at Canton on the subject of the surrender of this opium; and even after the commissioner had taken upon himself to order the surrender of all the opium in the possession of her Majesty's subjects, whether belonging to themselves or consigned to them by others at a distance, and after arrangements had been made for delivering it up to the officers of the Chinese Government at Canton, he declared he never had in his life seen on the part of the authorities of any country such language as had been written to Captain Elliot by the officers of the Chinese Government. The noble Earl had talked of provocation having been given to the Chinese government by the language of British subjects. Why, there might have been such provocation, but he saw plenty of provocation given by other nations. At the same time, he never heard of a person filling a high station in another country being treated in such a manner as Captain Elliot had been treated by the authorities of the Chinese government at Canton. He said, as an Englishman, he had passed fifty years of his life in the honourable service of this country, and he could not bear to see that a servant of the British Government doing his duty in his situation at Canton should be treated in a manner and with language such as that which would not have been used to the meanest criminal in any other country in the world. Captain Elliot had been charged with an attempt to deceive, with every meanness and low conduct that could be imputed to any man; he had been cut off from all provisions, from all means of subsistence, from almost all the common comforts and decencies of life; 38 and this, in order to force him to do what? —that which this gentleman stated he was ready to do—viz., to surrender the whole of the opium into the hands of the Chinese government; and, in point of fact, he did so surrender it. His noble Friend had stated that this war, or this war that is to be, was to be attributed to the opium trade; but there was no British opium in China at the time these other outrages were committed. At the time when the language he alluded to was held, it was so he would admit, and, as far as he was able to judge, would have been the cause of war; but at the time he was now speaking of, there was no such thing; the Chinese had got orders for the whole of it, and a gentleman had gone down the river to deliver it all over to them. In fact, they had got it all, and it had either been sent to Pekin, or had been destroyed. But the war had risen out of another set of circumstances, and first of all, a claim for the surrender of Englishmen to be put to death, because a Chinese had lost his life in an affray. That was one cause of the war. Captain Elliot had, as became him as an officer, inquired whether or not any of certain persons who had been on shore had been guilty of this murder; and the result of that inquiry was, that he could not bring it home to any one nor had he reason to suspect any one. The Chinese government, however, still insisted on it that those six men who had been on shore were to be given up, although Captain Elliot had made inquiry, and declared that there was no reason to believe that any one of them had been guilty of the murder of the Chinese. And this was one of the causes of the war. Another cause was, that a promise had been made that matters should be restored to their former state in proportion as the opium should be delivered up; that the British inhabitants should resume the use of their servants; that they should have the common comforts of life, provisions, and that which was necessary for their subsistence; and, finally, that trade should be opened, and matters should return to their usual course. Having received that promise, it was discovered that this Chinese had lost his life in an affray with American seamen as well as Europeans, who were on shore at the time. And then there was advanced a fourth proposition, which was this—that the captain of every vessel proceeding to the Canton river, was 39 to sign a bond, submitting himself and all on board his ship to be dealt with according to the law of China. The noble Lord had found fault with Captain Elliot for interfering in this matter, and in another matter also; but that appeared to him most extraordinary, and tended to prove, that the noble Lord, although he had paid great attention to that particular book which had been laid on their Lordships' Table, was not very well acquainted with former transactions in that country. Had he been so, he would have found, that the traders had invariably refused to deliver up their men, and would rather have broken off the trade than give up British subjects to be dealt with according to the law of China. He was of opinion that Captain Elliot did no more than his duty, and the manner in which it was done was much to Captain Elliot's credit, because it showed great firmness on his part in resisting the demand. He said it would have been most unjust if Captain Elliot had given up those six men to be dealt with according to the laws of China—to be put to death—when he was convinced, from the inquiry he had made, that none of them were guilty of the crime with which they were charged. Then there was another circumstance for which captain Elliot was blamed, and that was the protection that he had given to Mr. Dent. After it had been said that the opium trade should not be continued, it was supposed that this Mr. Dent had been a party very much concerned in it, and had made a large fortune, as he believed many had, in this illicit trade; and Captain Elliot was blamed, because he, her Majesty's representative in that country, the superintendent of our trade, and charged with her Majesty's affairs in chief in China, should have stepped forward and said he would not allow that gentleman to be given over to the Chinese government to be treated as they might think proper. He should be ashamed of the name of an Englishman if he could have found one in her Majesty's service capable of giving up a gentleman under such circumstances. It was his duty, he would say, to protect Mr. Dent, ay, even to shedding the last drop of his own blood. He had no right to give up that gentleman, who was living under the protection of the British Government in China. It was his duty to protect him, he did protect him, as he ought to have done; and be (the Duke of 40 Wellington) should ever approve of his conduct. It would have been impossible for him, it would have been a total dereliction of his duty, if he had given up Mr. Dent to be destroyed by the Chinese government. Then the noble Lord told their Lordships there was a great deal of difficulty on the subject of this fourth proposition, as the Americans had accepted it. But the Americans had also given up their seamen, on former occasions, to be dealt with according to the Chinese law. He was sorry for it. He wished they had not done so. They would have done better to have taken a leaf out of our book, and to have followed the example of the East-India Company, by putting an end to trade rather than risk the life of one of her majesty's subjects by giving him over to such authorities. These were facts which he now brought under the notice of their Lordships; but he would intreat their lordships not to pronounce an opinion on the subject to-night, not to interpose their authority in respect to transactions of this description, so as to encourage a notion that their Lordships had cast blame on an hon. officer engaged in these transactions. Captain Elliot had been placed, from the very commencement of the period when he undertook this service, in a very unfortunate and critical position. He confessed that from the beginning he had never approved of the system on which we had been acting with regard to China. What his opinion was originally he had already stated to the House. There were present on the records of their Lordships' House amendments moved by him to the China Trade Bill, and the other bill connected with China, in order to induce the Government and Parliament to continue the trade in the hands of the East-India Company simultaneously with her Majesty's subjects at large, and to leave in the hands of the East-India Company most particularly the management of the whole with the Chinese government at Canton. Some noble Lords now present would recollect that that was his opinion. He did not know whether that was also the opinion of many others; but that was the course which he then recommended, and he protested against the bill when it passed, because that amendment was not adopted. He was of the same opinion still, and he thought, if they looked through the history of our transactions in China, they would see that that opinion had been 41 already confirmed. But that of which he particularly disapproved was, that the Government had not carried into execution themselves the measures which they chalked out originally, and which at this moment they had left undone. He did not mean to say, that the adoption of those measures would have entirely precluded the events which had happened, though he believed that would have had that effect; for, in our intercourse with China, we had made such an impression on the minds of the Chinese of justice and fairness in our proceedings, that we might have hoped to have avoided some of the violence under which we had suffered. Now, one thing that had not been done up to the present moment, had been the establishment of a court of judicature. That court had been repeatedly called for by every one of the gentlemen who had been in the situation of superintendent, and whose letters were contained in the volume of papers on their Lordships' table, and most particularly by Captain Elliot, and even up to the very last moment when his letters had been received. And the noble Earl should have adverted to that point in considering this question. The Act of Parliament gave to her Majesty the power of regulating the trade of her subjects in China by an order in council. Where was that order in council? There was no such order. That order in council had never been issued to this day. The noble Lord blamed the superintendent because he did not send away the ships as they came in—because he did not order the owners of those ships to do certain things; and at last it was said he found he had not the power of doing it. That was to say, when he came to the extremity of starvation, and he and all the British population wanted subsistence, he was under the necessity of prevailing with all of them to give up the opium, and of taking it in the name of her Majesty, undertaking at the same time that the Government should pay for all that was given up. But he had no authority by an order in council to enable him to perform that Service. He performed it at his own risk; and this country and the Government owed him thanks for performing the service at that risk, and by an act of courage and self-devotion, such as few men had ever had an opportunity of showing, and probably still fewer would have shown. Then there was another thing. From the 42 commencement of the period at which this gentleman had charge of the station at Canton, he had been crying out for a naval force. Those gentlemen who preceded him did the same. Mr. Davis did the same, and so did Sir George Robinson. He believed that, up to this period, there was no naval force at the station of the superintendent. The conduct of the Chinese, the threats that were held out at a very early period, even during the time of Lord Napier, all clearly showed that a large naval force was necessary; and all the superintendents had repeatedly desired to have the assistance of a naval force. It was necessary not only to give the superintendent the authority of a naval force in his political negotiations with the Chinese government, but it was also necessary for the management of her Majesty's subjects themselves. If their Lordships read the papers on their table with attention, they would see that some of her Majesty's subjects in China threatened that they would make war themselves with China—that they would fit out vessels to cruize against China in consequence of the seizure in the river of some of the smuggling boats. The authority of the order in council would have been necessary, as well as the naval force, in order to enable the superintendent to deal with those persons as he ought to have done; and it was possible—he did not go so far as to say probable—that if the superintendent had been strengthened as he ought to have been by means of a naval force to carry on his duly, it was possible, he said, that he might have prevented things going to the extent to which, notwithstanding all his efforts—and he (the Duke of Wellington) would admit that he had made all efforts in his power—things had gone, and might have made them go in the way in which they ought to have gone. Under these circumstances, he again entreated their Lordships not to agree to the address moved by the noble Lord; but to vote for the motion which he meant to submit to them—namely, the previous question. That motion did not call on their Lordships to pledge themselves in any way as to what might be done hereafter on this question of opium; and at the same time it did not approve of the conduct of China, of which they were asked to approve by the noble Earl. In respect to putting down the trade in opium, he did not see any right this coun- 43 try had to interfere with the Indian Government to put an end to the growth of opium in their territories. He did not know that this country had any right to interfere with the opium monopoly, or any part of the revenue of India. But that was another question. What this country had a right to do was, not to encourage illicit trade anywhere; it was not for this country to interfere with the revenue laws of China or of any other country in the world. If our merchants went to China, they should do as they did in Spain, or Portugal, or France, or any other country. Under the circumstances, he must vote against the motion of his noble Friend.
agreed with the noble Duke, that the Chinese had now put themselves in the wrong, though they had formerly been in the right, and had thereby rendered war inevitable. British subjects had, however, originally caused the war, and blame must rest somewhere. By the terms of the noble Earl's motion, their Lordships were not called upon to discuss that question now. He could not look upon the war but with feelings of the deepest regret, and he could not sympathize with the feelings of exultation with which some persons talked of prosecuting this most rigorous quarrel to a righteous end. He feared that nothing deserving the epithet righteous belonged to it, and that nothing deserving the name of triumph would result from it, though he trusted that the issue might place our commercial relations with China on a fair and just footing with respect both to us and to the Chinese government. With great reluctance he must vote against the motion of the noble Earl.
§ Lord Colchester
said, that though it might be difficult to enforce obedience upon our merchants to abstain from the opium trade, we might leave the Chinese government to themselves. Previous to the arrival of the Imperial Commissioner at Canton, an edict had been issued, the last of a series of warnings addressed to the foreign merchants, reminding them of former edicts against the opium trade, and of the execution of native offenders, and desiring them to send away the opium vessels, and confine themselves to lawful trade, or the Emperor would close the ports for ever. Of this warning our merchants took no notice. Under these circumstances, the Imperial Commissioner, on his arrival, considered which of two measures he should adopt— to expel the opium vessels by force, or to 44 seize the merchants. It appeared that he had at first intended to adopt the former; but at length he sent for Mr. Dent, as the principal opium merchant, who refused to go. In this resolution to resist the order of the Imperial Commissioner, the merchants concurred, and ultimately Captain Elliot himself, who consequently identified himself with them. Although it might be contrary to our notions to confine foreign merchants to their own houses, yet it was not so according to the notions of the Chinese, in whose view the whole society had identified themselves with the opium trade. The Commissioner might be wrong in this; but at least he carried into effect the Emperor's edict, and seized the opium, without any shedding of blood, and by only confining the merchants for a few days. He could not agree with the noble Earl, however, that this was the only cause of the war. The Imperial Commissioner had been justified up to that point; but, as the noble Duke had said, he had done other acts which were not justifiable, and especially demanding an English subject in return for the life of a Chinese. The Chinese law of homicide should be attended to. By that law all homicides were considered capital crimes, not only such as were accompanied by malice, but any killing whatever. This was a state of the law which our merchants could never submit to, and which, in our negotiations with the Chinese, should be borne in mind. Much as he deprecated war, he trusted that our course of proceeding would be made so clear in the eyes of all Europe, that whatever might be the result, this country would be justified, and that no demand for remuneration would be made, still less an attempt to obtain territorial acquisitions.
said, he should not have offered himself to their Lordships' notice if it had not been for an observation of the noble Viscount as to the conduct of the negotiation with the Chinese. The noble Viscount had objected to the last part of the address of the noble Earl, that her Majesty be entreated to prevent these proceedings in China, and to grant further powers to the superintendent for that purpose, the noble Viscount objecting that it would hold out delusive expectations, and he went further, and said that, by agreeing to it, their Lordships would embarrass her Majesty's Government in their negotiations with the Chinese government, and prejudice the whole discussion. He thought that this was a subject for serious conside- 45 ration. If the noble Viscount was right, as he believed he was, that we could not prevent the smuggling of opium into China, how could it become a subject of negotiation, and how could we make any proposition to the Chinese government that we would endeavour to prevent the smuggling of the commodity—how could we do so in good faith, if it was impracticable on our part to prevent the smuggling? He trusted that in all our communications with the Chinese government we should act with perfect good faith. The noble Viscount had said he hoped that the opium trade would be placed on a different footing, and that the connexion of our Indian government with it would be made less apparent. He (Lord Ellenborough) did not understand that this was to be a principle of negotiation with the Chinese government, if it was, how could we offer that as a real proposition which was only to be apparent? But how could we make the connexion less apparent? The whole connexion of the Indian government with the opium trade was this:—The East-India Company gave leave to any one to cultivate the poppy, on condition that the opium should be furnished to the government at certain prices, and it was sold by the government at periodical sales, which yielded a monopoly profit of nearly 1,500,000l. a year. This was supposed to be an encouragement of the opium trade, a tax of 1,500,000l. a year imposed on opium was treated as an encouragement, whereas if a direct tax were substituted, the connexion of the government would still be the same. Was it to be expected that throughout the whole territory of India we should prohibit the cultivation of the poppy, giving up a million and a half a year paid by foreigners, and transfer the tax upon our own subjects? But it was well known that more than half the opium which went from India to China was Malwa opium, and if its cultivation in British India was prohibited, the quantity from Malwa would be doubled. This was not mere speculation, for the experiment had been tried. About 20 years ago, the East-India Company, endeavouring to monopolize the whole opium trade, entered into treaties with all the Malwa chiefs, except one, that the cultivation of opium in their territories should be diminished, and that the drug should be delivered to the company's government at a certain price. These treaties continued for seven or eight years, and what was the consequence? The system produced such 46 a feeling of hostility to the East-India Company's government, and that of the native princes, that commissioners were despatched to inquire into the operation of the treaties, and, with the exception of one, they agreed in the necessity of abrogating them. But did the system prevent smuggling? Not in the slightest degree. The contraband opium was conveyed by a circuitous route by Bhaugulpore and Omerkote, descended the Indus, and was carried to the Portuguese ports of Diu and Demaun, and thence exported to China. At that time no less than 4,500 chests a year went to China in this way. He well recollected, 11 or 12 years ago, entertaining a notion that the system of smuggling might be stopped by purchasing or the Portuguese government the ports of Diu and Demaun, so as to secure the monopoly. For that system, that of granting passes was substituted, but he believed that the smuggling trade still continued to a great extent, from the small number of passes. The conclusion he had come to was, that the smuggling trade would continue, and that if we got rid of the cultivation of opium in the company's territories, it would be grown to an equal extent in other provinces, and the same quantity would go to China, whilst we should lose a million and a half a year, paid by the subjects of China, to which extent it would be necessary to tax our own subjects. But morals and Christian principles had been introduced into the discussion of this question, and had been blended with commercial views; it had been said, that if opium was not sent to China, more broadcloth would be sent, and in a petition to this House the arguments against the opium trade had been put in this order—first, that its abolition would increase the exportation of broadcloth; secondly, that it would be a compliance with Christian principles. But he hoped that neither this House, nor the other House, would be led to adopt, on the supposition of a great increase in the exportation of broadcloth, an experiment which would be injurious to our Indian subjects, and not only not diminish, but greatly increase, the trade in opium. We had tried to extinguish the slave trade, but we had not succeeded; and if we endeavoured to put down the opium trade, we might give to that trade, as Captain Elliot apprehended, a piratical character. Finally, he did hope that our trade would be placed on a different and on a better footing; and he further trusted 47 that her Majesty's Government would avoid all measures injurious to British subjects in that quarter of the world, or calculated to increase the existing evils, of which there was such strong reason to complain.
§ Lord Ashburton
observed, that even if we applied all our efforts to satisfy the Chinese government, he believed that we should be unable to effect that object; and he could not but feel that there were circumstances attending these transactions of a description which did not make the country enter into this contest with as much good feeling, and as much confidence as if the occasion were altogether different. At the same time he felt that we had no alternative—that we must make some demonstration of force. The authorities at Pekin imagined that England trembled at their name, and he must say, that he thought they would never give us credit for being influenced by those considerations of humanity upon which the noble Earl laid so much stress. All his humanity, he was sure, would be thrown away upon the Chinese. He could not but further observe that no pains had been taken in this matter by way of negotiation or discussion with the Chinese. Some of their papers were equal to any that Europeans could produce; they were a much more understanding people, and a much more understanding government, than was generally supposed; and he thought that if proper pains and care were taken, the whole matter might be brought to an amicable adjustment. It was impossible that a people who reasoned so acutely should not be open to reason. He was the more confident in his belief that reason and negotiation could not fail to lead to beneficial results, when he recollected the success which attended various missions from this country to China. Those missions had been attended with considerable success, and he saw no reason why similar experiments should not again be tried. The Chinese were a sensible and well-judging people; he confessed that, looking at their papers, he could not help thinking so, and the first thing needful was to convince them that we desired nothing more than to carry on trade peaceably and in good faith. At these objects he thought the Queen's Government should aim, endeavouring at the same time, as far as possible, to remedy the ill effects resulting from past mismanagement—for example, the extreme mismanagement of leaving a British officer for so long a time without any system of 48 arrangement or decision, the people under him, and the Chinese government with whom he had to deal, being both equally ignorant of the nature and extent of the authority with which he was clothed, or the purposes for which he was sent out. He quite agreed with those who thought that a naval force ought to make its appearance on the coast of China he thought that the Chinese government should be overawed by its presence; nevertheless, he could not help complaining that Parliament knew so little on this subject; they knew that a great armament was going out, but that was all. They knew nothing of the number, or the nature of the force. Again to revert to the subject of negotiations, he must be permitted to say, that they ought to be had recourse to, notwithstanding all that might already have taken place, and he thought that such negotiations should by all means be preceded or accompanied by a direct communication from the Queen to the Emperor of China. It was likewise his opinion that the negotiators for such a purpose ought not to be taken, from the quarter-deck, but rather from amongst those who could practise the suaviter in modo, as well as the fortiter in re. He felt strongly persuaded that the occasion was one in which no pains should be spared for the purpose of bringing about an amicable result, and even if the Governor-general of India could, without detriment to the public service, proceed upon a mission to China, he should be requested to undertake it.
§ Earl Stanhope
, in reply, said, that the observations which he had felt himself called upon to address to their Lordships, had not yet been answered; he had not taken exception to the conduct of Government because of his objection to the use of intoxicating substances, though for years past he had the honour to be a teetotaller; on the contrary, he founded his objections to their proceedings upon the principles of international law. The noble and illustrious Duke had moved the previous question, a course which was very proper when a subject was not proper to be discussed; and he could not help saying that the noble and illustrious Duke would have taken a more manly course if he had met his motion by a direct negative. However their Lordships might deal with his motion, he should at least have the satisfaction of recording his sentiments on the journal of their Lordships' proceedings.
§ Amendment passed without a division.