John Francis Davis.

China : a general description of that empire and its inhabitants; with the history of foreign intercourse down to the events which produced the dissolution of 1857 (Volume 1) online

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J- Vols



CHINA:



A GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THAT EMPIRE
AND ITS INHABITANTS, &c.



IX TWO VOLUMES.
Volume I.



CHINA:



A GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THAT EMPIRE
AND ITS INHABITANTS;



WITH THE



HISTORY OF FOREIGN INTERCOURSE DOWN TO THE

EVENTS WHICH PRODUCED THE

DISSOLUTION OF 1857.



By SIR JOHN FRANCIS DAVIS, Bart., K.C.B.

F.R,S., &c.

LATE HER MAJESTT'S PLENIPOTENTIAKT IN CHINA ; AKD
GOVERNOE AKD COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE COLONY OF HONGKONG.



A NEW EDITION, REVISED AND ENLABGED.
IN TWO VOLUMES.— Vol. I.



it)^ Illustrations.



LONDON:
JOHN MUKRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.

1857.

Tlie riyht of Travtlation is reserved.



LONDON" ; rRINTKI) UY W. CXOWES AND SONS, STAMFOUD STREET,
ASD CHAIIING CnOSS.



P5

V. I

TO

VISCOUNT PALMERSTON,

K.G., G.C.B.,
FIKST LOBD OF THE TEEASURY,

THE STEADY PROTECTOH OF BRITISH INTERESTS IN CHINA,



>■ ^h ^tbmti moxk,



AFTER TWENTY-ONE YEARS TRIAL,



IS INSCRIBED



BY THE AUTHOR.



544672

f'^OGRAPHt



PREFACE.



The exhaustion of several previous Editions,
and the sort of Chinomanie created by the late
discussions in Parliament, with the events in
which those discussions originated, as well as
those to which they tended, called for a new
and enlarged impression of this work, which has
been augmented by an additional Chapter (the
fifth), bringing the history of British trans-
actions down to the present time.

Hollywood, Oloucestershire,
ifJi May, 1857.



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.



CHAPTER I.

EARLY EUROPEAN INTERCOURSE.



Cliina little known to the ancients — Embassy from IVIarcns Antoninus
— Nestorian Christians — Arabian travellers ; Ibn Batuta — Maho-
medanism — Jews — First Catholic missions — fliarco Polo — Por-
tuguese — Chinese oiDiniou of Europeans — Pinto — Desire for
foreign commerce — Settlement of Macao — Fniitless embassies to
Peking — Catholic missions — Quarrels of missionaries — Persecu-
tions — Spaniards — Dutch at Formosa; expelled by Chinese —
Russian embassies Page 1



CHAPTER II.

BRITISH INTERCOURSE TO THE FIRST EMBASSY.

First trade between England and China — Misrepresentations of Por-
tuguese — Treaty of commerce at Formosa — Troubles at Canton —
Charges on trade -^ Commodore Anson — Intrigues of Hong mer-
chants — Mr. Flint — Quarrels of English and French — Trade
forbidden at Ningpo — Seizure of Mr. Flint — The ' Argo ' — The
' Lord Camden ' — Portuguese justice — Chinese maxim for ruling
barbarians — Conduct of a ship-master — Debts recovered from
Chinese — Shocking case of an English gunner — Mission of Lord
Blacartney 33



X CONTENTS OF VOL. I.

CIIArTER III,
BRITISH IXTKRCOURSK TO TIIK OPEXIN'G OF TRADE.

Objects and results of Loril IMacartncy's embassy — Affair of the ' Pro-
vidence' — Americans at Canton — Expedition to Macao — Mission
to Oochin-China — Admiral Linois defeated — Ladrones — Success-
ful resistance to mandarins — Second expedition to Macao — 111
success of Admiral Drury — Interdict against Mr. Eoberts — The
• Doris ' — Successful measures of the committee — Embassy of
Lord Amherst — The ko-tow — The ' Alceste ' — Cases of homicide

— Conduct of Americans — The ' Topaze ' — Fire of Canton —
Failure of Hong merchants • - Discussions — Affair of Parsecs —
Factory invaded by Fooyuen — Opium-smuggling — The ' Amherst '

— Affrays of smugglers with Chinese — Termination of Company's
charter Page 61

CHAPTER IV.

BRITISH INTERCOURSE TO THE 'WAK OF 1840.

Commons' committee of 1830 — Act of 1833 — Lord Napier appointed
cliief commissioner to China — ■ His difficulties and death — ]Mr.
Davis succeeds — Edicts of the viceroy — Administration of Sir
George Robinson — Increase of smuggling — Tlic opium-trade —
Debts of Hong merchants — Visit of Admiral Maitlaiid — Evils of
the opium traffic — Efforts for its suppression — Proceedings of
Commissioner Lin, and their results — Massacre of an English boat's
crew — The ' Volage ' — Affray with war-junks — The ' Psyche ' —
Affair of the ' Thomas Coutts ' — Collision with Chinese vessels —
English trade stopped — War declared Ill

CHAPTER V.
BRITISH INTERCOURSE TO THE EXPEDITION OF 1857.

First captirre of Chusan — Visit to Peiho — Hostilities at Canton —
Reinforcements — Capture of Amoy — Recapture of Chus;m —
Chinliae and Ningpo taken — Land operations — Capture of Chapoo

— Of Woo-simg and Shanghae — Chinkeangfoo stormed — Treaty
of Nanking — Troubles at Canton — Kejnng's visit to Hongkong

— Convention of Boca Tigris — Restoration of Chusan — Riot at
Canton — Assaults on Englishmen — Expedition of 1847 — Chinese
murderers executed — Progress of rebellion to Nanking — Sir John
Bowring — Outrage on the flag 14G



CONTEXTS OF VOL. I. XI



CHAPTER VI.

GEOGllArHICAL SICETCH OF CIIIXA.

Eighteen provinces of Cliina — Dimensions — Temperature — Prin-
cipal mountain-chains — Two great rivers — Imperial Canal —
Crossing the Yellow Eiver — Great Wall — The provinces — The
Meaou-tse — Volcanic symptoms in the west — Manchow and
Mongol Tartary — Neighbouring and tributary countries — Chinese
account of Loo-choo — Intercourse with Japan . . . . Page ISO



CHAPTER VII. :

SUMMARY OF CHINESE HISTORY.

Chinese mythological history — Authentic history commences with
Chow — Confucius — The first emperor — Erection of Great Wall

— Race of Han — • The " Three States " — Law against female
mlers — Nestorian Christians — • Power of the eunuchs — Feudalism

— Invention of printing — ■ Tartar encroachments — Reign of Koblai
Khan — His successors driven out of Cliina — The Ming dpiasty —
Catholic missionaries ■ — Conquest of China by Manchow Tartars —
Kang-hy — Kien-loong — First British embassy — Kea-king"s will

— The late emperor Taou-kuang — Final expulsion of Catholic
missionaries 217



CHAPTER VIII.
GOVERNMENT AND LEGISLATION.

Chinese government parental — Practice at Canton exceptional — In-
fluence of public opinion — Motives to education — Love of peace
— Reverence for age — • Influence of wealth — No hereditary aris-
tocracy — The emperor — Ministers — Macliinery of government —
Pro\incial magistrates — Civil ofiicers superior to military — The
army — Implements of war — Penal code — Its arrangement —
Punishments — Privileges and exemptions — Crimes — Testimonies
in favour of the code — Sanctions superior to will of emperor . 249



xii CONTENTS OF VOL. I.

CHAPTER IX.

NATIONAL OIARACTER AND INSTITUTIONS.

Worst specimens of Chinese at Canton — Instance of gratitude —
Good and bad traits — Pride and ignorance — Respect for age —
Regard to kindred and liirthplace — Infanticide — Physical cha-
racteristics — Earliest iuliabitants — Personal appearance — Caprices
of national taste — Primitive features — Imperial kindied — Im-
portance of talent and learning — Descendants of Confucius —
Absence of ostentation — Condition of women — Marriage cere-
monies — Desire of male progeny — Education — Funeral rites —
Primogeniture Page 296

CHAPTER X.

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.

The new year — Presents — Feast of lanterns — Fireworks — Con-
trariety of customs to our own — Festivals — Meeting the spring
— Encom-agements to husbandry — Festival for the dead — Cere-
monial usages — Feasts and entertainments — Description of a
dinner — Asiatic politeness — Articles of food — Taverns and
eating-houses — Amusements — Gambling — Conviviality — Kite-
fljing — Imperial himts — Skating 345

CHAPTER XI.

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS — (continued.)

Costume of upper classes — Arms not worn — Summer and winter
costume — Paucity of linen — Furs and skins — No sudden changes
of fashion — IModes prescribed by authority — • Honours to just
magistrates — Shaving and shampooing — Female dress — Dwell-
ings — Gardens — Furniture — Travelling by land — The post —
Itinerary — Conveyance of goods — Travelling by water — The
vessels — Passing a sluice — Antiquity of canals 383



CONTENTS OF VOL. I. xiii

CHAPTER XII.

CITIES — PEKING,

External walls — The Tartarian city — The YeUow Wall — The
Chinese city — Occasional scarcity — Dangers of the emperor —
Gardens of Yuen-ming-yuen — Scene in last embassy — Expenses
of the court — Tartars and Chinese — Police — Murder of a French
crew — Punishment of assassins Page 420

CHAPTER XIII.

CITIES — NAXKIXG AND CANTON.

Nanking partially depopulated — Occurrence in last embassy — View
within the wall — Similarity of Chinese cities — Canton : streets
and shops — Blercantile corporations — • Fhes — Charitable insti-
tutions — Clans and fi-aternities — Temples — Inundation of foreign
factories — Their limits — China-street and Hog-lane — Population

— Female infanticide — Kidnapping childi-en — People of the coast

— The military — Forts 4:47



ILLUSTRATIONS.



Pace

View on Canton Kiveb 42

TuE Emperoe Kien-loono 63

Sketch neae Canton 100

Passing a Sluice 186

Plan, Elevation, and Section op the G-eeat Wall .. .. 193

BuDHiST High Peiest 214

Chinese Military Station, with Soldiees 246

Mandaein seated in a Sedan 271

Chinese Shield 276

Insteuments of "Wae 277

Punishment of Wooden Collae 284

Small Feet of a Chinese Lady 312

Chinese Booksellee 336

Chinese Sepulchee 340

Chinese Lanteens 348

Oblations 355

Teacups on Stands 358

EicE-BOWL AXD Chopsticks 366

Chinese Jugglee 380

Fan and Case and Belt 384

PUESE 384

SUMMEE AND WiNTEE CaPS 386

Chinese Gentleman and Seevant 388

Men's Shoes 389

Audience of Kien-loong 392

Husbandman 397

Inteeioe of Mansion 402

Chinese Jaes and Household Oenaments 406

Mandaein bearing Empeeoe's Lettee 408

Accommodation-Barge 413

Nine-stoeied Pagoda 451



OTEODUCTIOK



The following- work owes its orio-in to a collection of
notes which the author made while resident in China 5
and these notes were compiled for a reason not altogether
dissimilar to the motive which a French writer alleges
for an undertaking of the same kind — " le desir de tout
connaitre, en etant oblige de le decrire." A residence of
more than twenty years (which terminated in the author
succeeding the late amiable and unfortunate Lord Napier
as his Majesty's chief authority in China) was perhaps
sufficiently calculated to mature and correct those opi-
nions of the country and people which he had formed,
as a very young man, in accompanying Lord Amherst
on the embassy to Peking in 1816. If some acquaint-
ance, besides, with the language and literature of the
Chinese empire was not of considerable use and assist-
ance to him in increasing the extent and accuracy of
his information, it must have been his own fault entirely,
and not any want of opportunities and means.

It is singular that no general and systematic work on



xvi INTRODUCTION.

China had ever yet been produced in this country, not-
withstanding that our immediate interest in the subject
was vastly greater than that of any other European
nation. At the head of travels^ both as to date and
excellence, stand the authentic account of Lord Macart-
ney's Mission by Staunton, and Barrow's ' (Jhina,' to both
of which works it will be seen that reference has been*
more than once made in the following pages. The above
authorities have not been superseded by anything that
has since appeared, though the works of Mr. Ellis and
Dr. Abel, the results of Lord Amherst's embassy, are of
a highly respectable class, and contain much valuable
information on those points to which they confine them-
selves. Still no general account of the Cliinese empire
had ever issued from the English press ; and Pfere du
Ilalde's heavy compilation long remained the only me-
thodised source of information on the subject. Above a
century has now elapsed since that voluminous and in
many respects highly valuable work was first printed. A
great deal has of necessity become antiquated, and it is
not easy for any one, who is personally unacquainted with
China, to separate the really sound and useful information
it contains, from the prejudice which distorts some por-
tions and the nonsense which encumbers others. Of the
last, the endless pages on the ' Doctrine of the Pulse '
may be taken as one specimen.



INTRODUCTION. xvii

The following work being intended wholly for the use
of the general reader, so much only of each subject has
been touched upon as seemed calculated to convey a
summary, though at the same time accurate, species of
information in an easy and popular way.

The superiority which the Chinese possess over the
other nations of Asia is so decided as scarcely to need
the institution of an elaborate comparison. Those who
have had opportunities of seeing both have readily ad-
mitted it, and none more so than the Right Honourable
Henry Ellis, formerly our ambassador to Persia, whose
intimate personal acquaintance with China and India, as
well as with Persia, rendered him peculiarly calculated to
form a just estimate. The moral causes of a difference
so striking may perhaps occur to the reader of the
subjoined work : the physical causes consist, it may
reasonably be supposed, in the advantages which China
possesses from its geographical situation ; in the generally
favourable climate, the average fertility of soil, and the
great facility of internal intercourse with which the
country has been favoured by nature, and which has been
still farther improved by art. The early advancement of
China, in the general history of the globe, may likewise
be accounted for, in some measure, by natural and
physical causes, and by the position of the whole of that
vast country (^with a very trivial exception) within the

VOL. I. I



xviii INTRODUCTION.

temperate zone. On this point the author will repeat
some observations which he long since made in another
place ; that " an attentive survey of the tropical regions
of the earth, where food is produced in the greatest
abundance, will seem to justify the conclusion, that
extreme fertility, or power of production, has been rather
unfevourable to the progress of the human race ; or, at
least, that the industry and advancement of nations have
appeared in some measure to depend on a certain
'proportion between their necessities and their natural
resources. Man is by nature an indolent animal, and
without the stimulant of necessity will, in the first
instance, get on as well as he can with the provision that
nature has made for him. In the warm and fertile
regions of the tropics, or rather of the equinoctial, where
lodging and clothing, the two necessary things after food,
are rendered almost superfluous by the climate, and
where food itself is produced with very little exertion,*
we find how small a progress has in most instances been
made ; while, on the other hand, the whole of Europe,
and by far the greater part of China, are situated beyond
the northern tropic. If, again, we go farther north, to
those arctic regions where man exists in a very miserable
state, we shall find that there he has no materials to work

* Sec the observations of Humboldt ou the use of the banana in
New Spain.



INTRODUCTION. xix

upon. Nature is such a niggard in the returns which
she makes to labour, that industry is discouraged and
frozen, as it were, in the outset. In other words, the
proportion is destroyed : the equinoctial regions are too
spontaneously genial and fertile ; the arctic too unkindly
barren ; and on this account it would seem that industry,
wealth, and civilisation have been principally confined to
the temperate zone, where there is at once necessity to
excite labour, and production to recompense it," There
are, no doubt, other important circumstances, besides
geographical situation, which influence the advancement
of nations ; but this at least is too considerable an ingre-
dient to be left out of the calculation.

Since the above observations were first written, I have
been gratified by Sir Emerson Tennent's recognition of
their truth in his late valuable work on Ceylon, where he
quotes them, and varies the terms of the same proposition
thus : —

" The industry of man will always be the complement
of the liberality of nature. Where she confers or refuses
everything, exertion loses either its impulse or reward,
and man alike rests in ease or despondency. But in that
bounteous mean where the earth yields or withholds her
gifts in proportion as they are sought for and elaborated,
men, under the conjoint influence of necessity and hope,
mature the intellectual and physical powers on which



XX INTRODUCTION.

invention and energy arc dependent, l)ut which lie dor-
mant and undeveloped when the lavish luxuriance or the
hopeless sterility of nature withdraws the motive or the
recompense, and renders labour respectively superfluous
or vain."

J. F. D.



CHINA.



CHAPTEK I.

EARLY EUROPEAN INTERCOURSE.

Cliiua little known to the ancients — Embassy from Marcus Antoninus
— Nestorian Christians — Arabian travellers : Ibn Batuta — Maho-
medanism — Jews- — First Catholic missions — Marco Polo — Por-
tuguese — Chinese opinion of Europeans — Pinto — Desire for
foreign commerce — Settlement of Macao — Fruitless embassies to
Peking — Catholic missions — Quarrels of missionaries — Persecu-
tions — Spaniards — Dutch at Formosa ; expelled by Cliinese —
Russian embassies.

It is intended in the following pages to give such an
account of the manners and customs, the social, political,
and religious institutions, together with the natural pro-
ductions, the arts, manufactures, and commerce of China,
as may be deemed interesting to the general reader. The
most fitting introduction to this sketch will be, a cursory
view of the early acquaintance of the western world with
the country of which we are about to treat, followed up by
some notices of the more modern intercourse of Europeans,
and particularly the English, with the Chinese.

Antiquity affords us but a few uncertain hints regarding
an empire so far removed to the utmost limits of Eastern
Asia as to have formed no part in the aspirations of
Macedonian or of Roman dominion. Were a modern
conqueror to stop on the banks of the Ganges, and sigh
that he had no more nations to subdue, what has been
admired in the pupil of Aristotle himself would be a mere
absurdity in the most ignorant chieftain of these more

VOL. I. B



\

2 EARLY EUROPEAN INTERCOURSE. Chap. I.

eiili^hteiiod tiinos. We may reasonably hope that the
science and civilisation which have already so greatly en-
larged the bounds of our knowledge of foreign countries
may, by diminishing the vulgar admiration for such pests
and scourges of the human race as military conquerors
have usually proved, advance and facilitate the peaceful
intercourse of the most remote countries with each other,
and thereby increase the general stock of knowledge and
happiness among mankind.

It seems sufficiently clea^* that the Sei-cs mentioned by
Horace, and other Latin writers, were not the Chinese.*
This name has, with greater probability, been interpreted
as referring to anothm- people of Asia, inhabiting a country
to the westward of China ; and the texture, termed by the
Romans serica, in all likelihood meant a cotton rather than
a silken manufacture, which latter was distinguished by
the name homhycina. There appears sufficient evidence,
however, for the fact, that some of the ancients were not
altogether ignorant of the existence of such a people.
Arrian s])eaks of the Sinaj, or Thinae, in the remotest parts
of Asia, by whom were exported the raw and manufac-
tured silks which were brought by the way of Bactria
(Bokhara) westwards. It was under the race of Han,
perhaps the most celebrated era of Chinese history, that
an envoy is stated to have been sent in A.D. 04, by the
seventeenth emperor of that dynasty, to seek some inter-
course with the western world. This minister is said to
have reached Arabia ; and as it is certain that Hoti/^ the
prince by whom he was deputed, was the first sovereign of
China who introduced the use of eunuchs into the palace,

* It is noticed by Floras that ambassadors came from the Seres to
Augustus ; but Horace notices the Seres in a way which makes it un-
likely they should have been the Chinese. " Nee sollicitus times quid
Serci', et rcgnata Cjto Buctra parent."



Chap. I. THE NESTORIAXS, 3

it may be deemed probable that he borrowed them from
thence. The contests of the Chinese with the Tartars,
even at that early period, are stated to have been the
occasion of a Chinese general reaching the borders of the
Caspian at the time when Trajan was Emperor of Rome.
The growing consumption among the luxurious Latins of
the valuable and beautiful silk stuffs with which they were
supplied through the medium of India, seems to have
tempted the Emperor Marcus Antoninus to despatch an
embassy to the country which was reported to produce
those manufactures. The numerous obstacles presented by
a land journey induced him to send his mission by sea,
A.D. 161. Like most attempts of the kind, this appears
to have been an entire failure, and the ambassadors re-
turned from China without having paved the way to a more
frequent or intimate intercourse with that secluded country.

The Jesuits have informed us that some of the Romish
missionaries discovered, in the year 1625, at one of the
principal cities of the province Shensy, an inscription in
Syriac letters, recording the first introduction of Christianity
into China in the year 635, by certain Nestorian bishops,
who had been driven eastward by persecutions in the
Roman provinces. We are not indebted, however, to these
refugees for any early account of the country. Their
existence in the same province of Shensy, at the period
when Marco Polo visited China, is clearly stated by that
traveller, as may be seen in Marsden's edition, page 404.
To those who travelled by land from Syria, and other
countries bordering on the Mediterranean, it was the
easiest of access, as being the most westerly point of the
empire towards Peking ; and they were probably induced
to settle there, from finding it one of the most populous
and civilized portions of China at that early period.

Marco Polo, besides, states that in a city in the neigh-

13 2



4 EARLY EUROrEAX INTERCOURSE. Chap. I.

hourhood ofNankin;t»', on the banks of the Yang'-tse-Keang,
there were ''two churehes of Nestorian (Jhristians, which
were built in 1274, when his majesty the emperor aj)-
pointed a Nestorian, named Mar Sachis, to the govern-
ment of it (the city) for three years. By him those churches
were established where there had not been any before, and
they still subsist." * The editor justly observes that the
existence of these churches, of which no reasonable doubt
can be entertained, is a curious fact in the history of the
progress made by the Christian religion in the eastern or
remoter })arts of China. " It is remarkable," he adds,
" that De Guignes, in describing a religious building not
far from this city, mentions a tradition that gives strength
to the belief of an early Christian establishment in that
quarter : ' Les Chinois racontent qu'un Chretien, nomme
Kiang-tsy-tay, vivoit dans ce lieu il y a trois cents ans ; on
montre encore son appartement dans la partie de Test.' "

It is to the Arabs that we owe the first distinct account
of China, and of its peculiar institutions and customs.
Their far-extended conquests brought them to the confines
of that remote empire ; and the enlightenment of science
and literature, which they })ossesscd in no small degree
during the eighth and ninth centuries, led many indi-
viduals among them to explore unknown countries, and



Online LibraryJohn Francis DavisChina : a general description of that empire and its inhabitants; with the history of foreign intercourse down to the events which produced the dissolution of 1857 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 37)