John Elliot Bingham.

Narrative of the expedition to China, from the commencement of the war to its termination in 1842; with sketches of the manners and customs of the singular and hitherto almost unknown country (Volume online

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Online LibraryJohn Elliot BinghamNarrative of the expedition to China, from the commencement of the war to its termination in 1842; with sketches of the manners and customs of the singular and hitherto almost unknown country (Volume → online text (page 1 of 20)
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Late First Lieutenant of H. M. S. Modeste.







HARR.'sr/X & CO., rr.iNTERS,
ST. martin's lane.

35./ 7^















Advertisement to Second Edition . , . ix
Preface . , . . . . xi

Introduction . . . . . .1



Orders to proceed to China — Arrival of Blonde and Py-
lades — Krewmen dislike going — Island of Mauritius
— Placed in Quai-antine — Seychell Islands — Coco de
iner — Penang — Straits of Malacca — Water-spout —
Malays — Upas Tree — Malacca — Straits of Sincapore
— SaU from Sincapore — Make the Ladrones — Chow-
Chow water — Anchor at Macao — Men of war in
River — An-ival of Expedition — Blockade declared —
Scale of Rewards — Arrival of Cape Squadi-on —
Method of claiming Rewards — Sail for Chusan —
Ock-sue Islands — Formosa — Black Island — Buffalo's
Nose — Fishing Boats — Want of Interpreter —
Pirate's escape — Boats sail — Chusan Harbour —
Compradore seized — Blonde at Amoy — Ning-po
under Blockade — Elephant's Trunk — Process of
making Salt — Difference of rank . . .141


Clear the Islands — Pylades and Transports join — Capture
of Pirates — Heavy SquaU — Enter Imperial Sea —
Gulf of Petche-li — Board Junk — Proceed to the
Pei-ho — Pilots useless — Capture Chinaman — Manda-
rins spoil their Boots — Appearance ; of the Shore —
Sounding River — Showie Pih, alias Captain White
— Visit to Alceste Bay — Procure BuUocks — Good
Water — Volage visits INIantchow Tartary — Welles-
ley at Toke — Plan for bringing Emperor to terms —
Present to Squadron — INIeeting with Keshen — Sick-
ness disappears — Procure Millet — Arrangement for
quitting Imperial Sea . . . 199





Quit the Pei-Ho— Toke— City of Tong-Tcliou-foo—
Chinese Ladies — Defences — Manning the Guns —
Chinese Banners — Arms — Paoupang — Jealousy of
Mandarins — Mia-tau Group — Artificial Harbour —
Dandy Mandarin — Dissertation on Tails — Mandarin's
Attendant — Tlie Cabin and Curiosity — Rejoin Ad-
miral — ]Mountain of Flesh — His Appetite — Admira-
tion of Fatness — Mia-tau — Loss of Pinnace — Use
of Telescope — Chinese Df-jeiuie — Sculling-boats —
Chin-chin not Chin-chin — Quelpert — Ordered off
Ning-po — Wreck of Kite — Cruel Treatment of her
Crew — Dimensions of Cages — Death of Prisoners —
Their Release — Capture of Captain Anstruther —
Attempts to kidnap Messrs. Pencraft and Prattent . 243



Proceed to Ning-po — Captain Elliot applies for release of
Prisoners — Their better Treatment — ChineseCavalry
' — Return to "Spithead'' — Yang-tse-kiang — Cruise
of the Conway — Death of jNIr. Harvey — Algerine at
Chapoo — Bravery of Mandarin — Loss of Indian Oak
— Nimrod's Cruise — Loo-choo — Manners of its Inha-
bitants — Seaman's Grave — Quelpert — Sickness
amongst our Troops — Chusan — Ting-hai — Taoutow
and Joss-house Hill — Position of Troops — Robberies
— Chinese Coffin — Debasing of Coin — Temples —
Arsenals — Arms — The Six Boards — Burning the
Archives . . . . . .291


Good effects of Discipline — Lingua Franca — Resources of
Chusan — Its Vegetable Productions — Paddy — Ma-
nure — Anecdote — Cotton — Bricks — Roads — Death
of Lieut. Conway — His Funeral — Watering — IMel-



ville Repaired — Present from Elepoo — The Fever —
Truce — Innumerable Duck's Eggs — Little Feet-
Pain well Borne — Women's Hair — Marriage — Arti-
ficial Flowers — Charms of an Anchor Button — Ad-
miral sails for Canton — Starboard Jack — Elepoo's
Change of Policy — Chinese Liners— Cast large Guns
— Houses used as Fire-Wood — Elepoo's Threat to
burn the City — Keshen's Treachery — Lew appointed
Commander-in-Chief — His Expedition postponed
sine die — Beneficial effects of Cold Weather — Orders
to evacuate Chusan — The Evacuation — Climate and
Range of Thermometer — Squadron sail from Star-
board Jack — Fishing-boats — Arrival at Toong-koo . 341



Proceedings at Macao during the absence of the Admiral
— Smuggling by the Broadway — New Rewards for
British — Enlisting Troops — Chalking Fingers — Two
Officers robbed — Abduction of Mr. Staunton — His
Treatment — Demanded by Captain Smith — Account
of the Barrier — Return of the Taou-tae — Answer to
Captain Smith's Demand — Preparations for attack-
ing the Barrier — Victory thereat — Effects of it^
Chinese claim the Battle — Chinese leave INIacao —
Lin delivers up his Seals — Lin's Character — Arrival
of 37tli Madras Native Infantry — Lin's Memorial-
Force in River — Flag of Truce again fired on —
Queen's 68-pounders — Toong-koo^ Roasting Soldiers
— Sentence of Paoupang — Squadron proceed to Chu-
enpee — Admiral resigns the command — Anecdote-
Joss-house — Female Offering — Release of ilr.
Staunton — Christmas-day — Captain Smith and Man-
darin . . • 385



Volume I.


Emperor of China To face Title-page.

Mouth of the Pei-ho 212

The Method in which the English Prisoners at Ning-po

were carried about 276

Volume II.

Temple of Matsoo-po, at Amo-ko, in IMacao.

To face Title-page.

Map 37




A SECOND edition of my Narrative having
been called for, I have taken the opportunity
of throwing the Opium Question into the
form of an introduction, thus enabling the
reader who feels no interest in that subject
to pass it entirely over, and commence with
the expedition itself at page 1 54.

Slight errors have been corrected and
some anecdotes introduced, upon the autho-
rity of the actors in the scenes described.
An additional chapter has also been added,
bringing the proceedings in China up to the
date of the latest intelligence, and I trust to
the conclusion of the affair.

Some of my friends have appeared
puzzled by the word pigeon, which frequently
occurs in the Chinese Lingua Franca: it
means neither more nor less than business,
a word that no Chinaman can pronounce,
making it pigeoness, but more commonly
pigeon. J. E. B.



Promotion having for the moment thrown
me out of active service, I have been tempted
to draw up the following Sketch of the
various events connected with the present
war in China.

I commenced my Narrative with the idea
of bringing it before the public under the
auspices of the periodical press ; finding,
however, that such a mode of publication
would have occupied many months, while
the Narrative itself must have lost much of
its interest to the reader, by being presented
to him at considerable intervals, and in a
disjointed shape, I have been induced to let
it assume its present form.

I shall be found accurate, I believe, in all
the details of the transactions which I de-
scribe. In many of the incidents selected I
was myself an actor ; where that was not the
case, and 1 am consequently unable to speak


from personal knowledge, I have had re-
course to the most correct and authentic
sources of information.

I must beg the indulgence of my readers
for any errors into which I may unintention-
ally have fallen. Should I, however, from the
short space of time allowed me for the compo-
sition of the latter chapters, have been guilty
of omission as to the names or achievements
of any of my late companions in arms, I must
crave their forgiveness ; but should the pub-
lic so far approve of my humble labours as
to call for a second edition of my little work,
I shall rejoice in the opportunity of supplying
such deficiencies, and shall be happy to insert
any additional facts with which friends may
be kind enough to favour me, as well as the
names, if any, of individuals inadvertently

I must freely confess I have met with the
difficulties common to all travellers on exa-
mining their note-books ; and probably^ in
selecting matter for publication, may have
passed by unrecorded some circumstances
which would have afforded entertainment.


while others may have been related in which
the general reader can feel comparatively
little interest. I have done my best ; let
the critic remember

'Tis glorious e'en to fail in great attempts ;
and permit me humbly to remind him that
a British sailor is more accustomed to handle
the tiller than the pen.

For centuries our intercourse with China
has been purely commercial. It has been
left to the year 1840 to open that new era,
which should bring this mighty oriental
nation into angry collision with the inha-
bitants of the western world, to whom they
had been known previously only as semi-
barbarians, supplying us, in exchange for our
manufactures, with that fragrant herb, be-
come now among us almost a necessary of
life, and whose balmy essence fills

The cup
That cheers but not inebriates.

They, however, despising all '' outside
barbarians," have ever wrapped themselves
up in their own pride and self-sufficiency,
flattering themselves that their " celestial


empire'' was at least the most, if not the
only, civiUzed portion of the world ; while
they have made even geography itself con-
tribute to their exaltation and supremacy, —
China being depicted on their charts as the
central nation of the earth !

This age of darkness and ignorant arro-
gance must fast melt away before the pre-
sent movement. It is consoling, under the
sufferings which the obstinacy and perfidious
conduct of their government compel us to
inflict upon the people, to reflect that the
contest now in progress must result in throw-
mg open the vast empire of China to a more
intimate communication with Europeans than
has ever yet existed j and thus while it
benefits both them and ourselves, in a
commercial point of view, must, under God,
be the means of elevating them from their
present degradation to a state of real civiliza-
tion. Above all, it may open to the labours
of the Christian missionary one-third of the
population of the globe !

The Chinese are essentially a commercial
people immured in darkness, and all bowing


down before the shrine of Mammon. When
we consider their habits and customs, they
may be said to be a mass of contradictions to
all European nations, — the very opposite to
ourselves in almost everything.

The facts in the following pages relating
to the manners and customs of this stransie
and most peculiar race are recorded prin-
cipally from my own observation. I am,
however, indebted to the work of Mr.
Slade, the Editor of the Canton Register,
for my account of the proceedings which
led to the present war. I have also found
the Chinese Repository , a periodical published
at Macao, of essential service, in furnish-
ing information on Chinese affairs.

The memorials and edicts in the Appendix
will I trust prove amusing, while they will
be found to throw a strong light on the
treachery and duplicity, which the Chinese
authorities have without scruple practised
throughout their late dealings with the

The rule in our language is so undefined
for the orthography of Chinese names, that


in the following pages when speaking of
provinces, rivers, districts, or cities, I have
followed that used in Wyld's maps ; thereby
affording the reader a ready means of fol-
lowing up the different movements of the

I must avail myself of the opportunity here
afforded me of publicly expressing to Messrs.
Matheson, W. Dent, Stewart, and Captain
T. Larkins, with many other residents at
Macao, my warmest thanks and acknowledg-
ments for the unremitting kindness I ex-
perienced at their hands while confined
there by the consequences of a severe and
painful wound received during the operations
at the Bocca Tigris. To Mr. Matheson I
feel the thanks of the entire squadron are due;
and I feel assured that numbers of the officers
of the ''China Expedition" will cordially
unite with me in offering grateful acknow-
ledgments to that gentleman, whose house
was ever found open and ready for the recep-
tion of the sick or the wounded.

New House Gosj^ort,
October, 1842.


The barbarians are like beasts, and not to be ruled on the same
principles as citizens. Were any one to attempt controlling
them by the great maxims of re ason, it would tend to nothing
but confusion. The ancient kings well understood this, and
accordingly ruled the barbarians by mis-rule ; therefore to rule
barbarians by mis-rule is the true and the best way of ruling
them. — Davis's China,

Many of my readers may probably be igno-
rant of the numerous insults that have been
heaped upon the British nation, through the
gross ignorance and overbearing pride of
the Chinese Mandarins. I have, therefore,
thought it worth while to give the following
introductory account of the transactions that
took place for about the space of four years
immediately preceding the date of my own
arrival at the scene of action, which must be
considered as the more legitimate commence-
ment of my Narrative.

The Opium war, as it has generally been
misnamed, from the Chinese having taken
their stand on that question, professing that]
to save the morals of the people the trade
in that drug must absolutely be cut off, has



raised doubts, in the minds of many indi-
viduals, as to the justness of our present pro-
ceedings in China. But neither the morals,
nor the health of the subject, has been the
real cause ; which may more properly be
found in the "oozing out of the sycee silver
from the central flowery land."

It must be borne in mind that, during the
monopoly of the trade held by the East India
Company, many differences and quarrels
arose between them and the Chinese, but on
all which points the Company gave way
rather than forfeit, from any feeling of pique,
the advantages they were enjoying. This
system could never be followed after the
trade became open and the transactions with
China assumed a national character; but this
difference of position the Chinese never took
into consideration.

We had accordingly a long series of insults
to be redressed, among which were these: —
our flag fired upon ; — the representative
of our government with our merchants im-
prisoned; — their property seized, confiscated,
and destroyed ; — their memorials and repre-
sentations treated with barbarian ignorance,
and their persons expelled from Canton. But


SO fully conscious were the Chinese authori-
ties of the great benefit arising to their own
country from foreign trade, that I conceive,
if they had entertained an idea for one
moment of the war which has arisen out of
their proceedings, they would never have
taken any steps that could have led to a
collision between the two nations; but our
having given way on former occasions made
them fimcy we should yield to them for ever.
A short time before the commencement of
the present century, opium was admitted
into China as a medical drug, and a duty was
paid on it of fifty cents per lb.; but it does
not appear to have been generally indulged
in as a Chinese luxury at that time; though
in the Eastern Archipelago, and in many
.parts of India, it has always been an
article of increasing traffic. Probably its
use was originally introduced into China
from these islands, or perhaps from Cochin
China; for we find that in 1781, when the
Company, in consequence of the India seas
being infested with French cruisers, freighted
a ship on their own account with o])ium for
the China market, Singua, one of the Hong
merchants, became the purchaser, at the mo-

B 2


derate price of 210 dollars per chest, but
that he reshipped the principal part of it to
the Malay peninsula. It was not until the
year 1793 that the opium traders began to
experience any annoyance from the Chinese
authorities ; when, in consequence of their
increased vexations, while the Chinese pirates
or Ladrones were becoming very trouble-
some, the traders at Lark's Bay, where the
opium traffic had been long established, in
1794 loaded one of their vessels exclusively
with that drug, and fearlessly moved up to
Whampoa. She remained there for nearly
eighteen months without molestation from
the mandarins or others; and from such a
beginning the trade at that place continued
to thrive until 1819.

In 1799, Kielking, governor of the pro-
vince of Kwang-tung, memorialized the
emperor to prohibit the introduction of the
drug, and the opposition became so great
from the Chinese authorities, that the Com-
pany's supercargoes at Canton recommended
the importation of it to be discontinued;
but it was becoming to our Indian possessions
too lucrative an export to be lightly given
up, and each year saw the demand for opium


increased and increasing. The depot-ships,
as before stated, remained at Whampoa, and
many opium clippers were employed in the
transportation of it from India to that
place. These are remarkably fine vessels,
selected for their sailing qualities, and
make the passage to and from China against
the monsoon in a comparatively short

In April, ]820, Yuen issued a proclama-
tion prohibiting the drug, which, combined
with the increased vigilance of the subor-
dinates, caused the depot-ships to establish
an anchorage off the Island of Lintin, shift-
ing to Cum-sing-moon as a more secure road-
stead during the typhoon season, where the
trade still flourished.

The Chinese admiral, accompanied by his
war-junks, occasionally came down firing
away his guns, when a shot or two from
some of the opium traders warned him it
was time to anchor; after which, attended
by his officers, he would visit the ships, and
harangue much in the following language : —
** That Emperor send chop makee strong
talkee, must drive away all ship, my chin,
chin you, Mr. Captain ; katchee anchor, makee


vvalkee, my can talkee that Ison Tuck (Vice-
roy) all ships have go away!" The dep6t-
ships would then move to the other side of
the island, or the admiral returned, stating
he found nothing but ships in distress

These fellows were in the habit of receiv-
ing; a bribe of from five to ten dollars a
chest, which they would request the captain
to keep back for them from the Chinese
smugglers, preferring rather to trust to
English honour than to their own country-
men. About once a month they would visit
the ships for payment on the number of
chests smuggled.

The following paragraph from the Cal-
cutta Englishman of the 30th January,
1837, will put the reader in possession of the
flourishing state of the trade at that time; —
*' Cum-sing-moon is the anchorage of the
opium depot-vessels during the south-west
monsoon. It is a spacious harbour, formed
partly by islands and partly by the main-
land with a narrow entrance^ having an
island in the centre of it. Both the islands
and the main are lofty, and the ships so well
sheltered that, in general, they ride out even


the typhoons, against which no anchorage
would seem perfectly secure.

" The animated scene witnessed at Cum-
sing-moon may well arrest our attention
awhile. Of the numerous vessels of various
sizes in the anchorage, several are depot-
vessels, chiefly for opium. These do not move
for years, except from one anchorage to the
other, at the change of each season. From
daylight to sunset you see alongside of these
vessels the smuggling-boats which carry
away the opium. These boats are in length,
1 should think, from fifty or sixty to eighty
or ninety feet, pulling from thirty to forty
oars, and decked or hatched over, with their
long masts, large mat sails, and the conical
bamboo caps of the rowers, painted red,
white, and blue; they are altogether very
picturesque, and you behold them in every
variety of situation in this busy scene.

*' There are always one or two alongside
the depot-vessels, others approaching for
opium, foaming along under sail as if they
would dash their stems against the vessels,
but suddenly sheer alongside with a skill
and dexterity which are truly admirable;
others shoving off with their precious freight.


and hoisting their sails; others already pul-
ling and sailing away for Canton at a rapid
rate with their cargoes, in defiance of the
f celestial emperor and the mandarins. The
/ whole scene is one of busy life indeed, for
while the depot-vessels are supplying the
smuggling-boats, the clippers, and other
vessels importing the drug, are supplying
them ; and launches, cutters, and even jolly-
boats are engaged in the work of tranship-
ment of opium and cotton, which last article
is often unloaded here from vessels of com-
paratively small burthen, and sent up in
large ships; collecting in this way a full
freight, and enabled thus to pay the port
duties that would be ruinous to those less
burthensome, on which the charges would
be nearly the same.

* ' Step on board the opium vessels, and there
again the evidence of an active and lucrative
trade are everywhere around you. On one
side of the deck you see ranges of chests of
Patna and Benares, — the other strewed with
the contents of chests of Malwa, which is
not packed in balls like the Patna, but in
loose cakes, every one of which the opium
dealer examines, rejecting many chests, per-


haps, before he takes one. Turn your eyes
aft, and you see again in one place boxes of
dollars marked 2,000, others marked syceCy
and in another place the Chinese employed
for the purpose, emptying bags of dollars
and sycee silver, and shroffing or examining
them. The large sycee lumps are like small
pigs of lead in form and size, nearly ; but
the brightness of the pure silver, of course,
would prevent your mistaking one for the

''It is impossible to behold these symbols
of wealth in such abundance as you do in
these vessels, and so carelessly scattered about
as it appears to be (only appears, for it is in
reality well looked after), without being
strongly impressed with a conviction of the
magnitude and importance of the trade. The
capital embarked in it is indeed very large,
involving nearly twenty millions of dollars.
The bargains for opium are mostly made in
Canton, though a great many chests are
actually sold, and not merely delivered, on
board. When the opium is sold in Canton, the
sellergives an order to the opium broker for the
delivery ; and if it is Patna or Benares, there
is little trouble^, and his purser or agent gets

B 3


at once the quantity of the marks specified in
his order. If Malwa opium, the latter will
examine every cake, and then weigh the
whole, and perhaps he will not complete
half his order. For great tricks are played in
Malwa, and the contents of chests are some-
times changed between the time of purchase
and shipment, and a spurious article sub-
stituted, — and I have heard of a chest of
bricks being substituted by the clever rogues
at Bombay. A great portion of the opium
is paid for on board in dollars or sycee silver;
and a kumshah, or present, of five dollars
upon every chest is paid to the commander,
for him and the officers.

" It is quite a mistake to suppose, as many
do, that the smuggling-boats take in their
cargoes, and run them at night. The truth
is, they carry on their trade, not only in the
face of day, but in the presence of the man-

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Online LibraryJohn Elliot BinghamNarrative of the expedition to China, from the commencement of the war to its termination in 1842; with sketches of the manners and customs of the singular and hitherto almost unknown country (Volume → online text (page 1 of 20)