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CONTENTS

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WESTERN SOURCES

[From Foreign Mud. Copyright © 1946 by Maurice Collis. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.,

1947. (Rights reverted to Faber and Faber, Ltd., London.) Reprinted by permission.]

THE MISADVENTURES OF A BARBARIAN EYE*

1834-35

By Maurice Collis

(Irish Historian and Biographer; Indian Civil Service 1912–34)

THE APPOINTMENT OF LORD NAPIER

When it was decided to terminate the [East India] Company's monopoly of the China trade, arrangements had to be made to fill

the gap left by the departure from Canton of the Select Committee. The free merchants could not be left without some authority to regulate their actions. A Chamber of Commerce would not suffice alone. In the particular circumstances of the Canton situation, where a miscellaneous body of British merchants was living within the territory of the Emperor of China, who had never accepted the principle of diplomatic representation at his Court, it was clearly essential that they should have at their head a person with authority from the Crown both to oversee and protect them. The Whig administration of Lord Grey, in which Lord Palmerston was Foreign Secretary, was well aware that things were going on at Lintin and on the China coast that could result in consequences hard to foresee, and which, involving as they might matters of high policy, would be too difficult for a non-official head to cope with.

The Viceroy (of the province of Kuangtung, of which Canton was the chief city) had also given some thought to the matter and had expressed the opinion as early as 1831 that a chief merchant would have to be appointed with authority, like the Select Committee's, over the other merchants. The Co-Hong [a corporation of Chinese mercantile contractors] had conveyed this hint to the Select Committee, which reported it to London. The Viceroy was not suggesting that the chief merchant should be an official or that he should enjoy any privileges that the Select Committee did not possess. The present

*NOTE BY SUBCOMMITTEE STAFF.—The entire book, from which this excerpt is taken, is recommended reading.

Commenting on the effort of Dutch envoys sent to Peking in the mid-17th Century to ask for a port and for free trade, Mr. Collis reports that the Chinese Emperor took pains :

to make clear to them that China was a closed country, that he regarded them
as barbarians from beyond the outer confines, but was glad to receive their
tributory presents, for, as Lord of the World and the Dispenser of Light, it
was proper that they had come to admire and worship him. The Dutch de-
plored this view of their efforts to open trade relations, but utterly failed to

modify it. Referring to British forces on the China coast in 1840, Mr. Collis reports another Chinese Emperor saying :

After prolonged negotiation has made the Barbarians weary and exhausted,
we can suddenly attack them and thereby subdue them.

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