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Ode in praise of Tea, and a small volume by Mr. Davis, are nearly all the specimens we possess in English, of Chinese Belles Lettres, in an authentic form.

The present drama is founded on the national prejudice among the Chinese, of the necessity each father feels himself under, of having a son if possible, to perpetuate the family name, and perform the usual posthumous ceremonies. Hence, if a Chinese have no son by his first wife, and is not likely to have any, he may take a second wife for the purpose, during the life of the first

In the present drama, the story turns upon the second wife becoming pregnant of a son; being hated by the old man's son-in-law on that account, she is privately removed and concealed by the sonin-law's wife, until the proper opportunity occurs of discovering and presenting her and her son to the old man, who has been long lamenting her supposed disease.

There is nothing in this plot, or in the character, or in the dialogue, that affords us any higher idea of Chinese talent than we have already. They seem, from all we know of that nation, to be comparatively an ignorant and imbecile people.

To this review of the play in question, is added, an account so far as the circumstances are yet known, of lord Amherst's rejection at the court of the emperor of China. This account no where else that we know of to be found in any authentic detail, imperfect as it is, our readers will thank us for extracting.

Recent accounts from the embassy state, that on the arrival of the ships in the gulph of Pe-tche-lee, on the 28th July, two military officers came off from the shore, and expressed some surprise at their having reached that anchorage in so short a time after notice had been first received of the embassy; and it was evident that no preparations had been made for its reception. Two days afterwards, however, the same officers returned with intelligence that three mandarins of rank had been appointed to attend the ambassador to the capital; the first of the name of Quong, the imperial legate, and a Tartar; the second, Chang, a civi. lian; the third, Yin, a military officer; being the exact counterparts of the three Ta-jin, or great men, appointed to wait on Lord Macartney; and, to make the parallel complete, the Tartar legate announced his intention of receiving the ambassador on shore, while the other two paid their respects to him on board the Alceste. They brought with them a fleet of junks, as on the former occasion, containing the imperial present of refreshments for the ships' crews, intended also, when unloaded, to convey back the presents and baggage of the ambassador and his suite. The present did not contain such a vast profusion of hogs, fowls, pumpkins, and pears, as on the former occasion, from the want, most probably, of a longer notice to provide them; but it was ample; and the friendly attentions of these two men, as well as the conciliating manners of the legate, held out the promise of a favourable and honourable reception in Pekin. Two circumstances, however, were casu. ally mentioned, that in some degree cast a damp over this agreeable prospect. In the first place, it was rumoured among the Chinese on shore that the emperor would set out for Gehol, in Tartary, on the 9th September, previously to which, he would receive the ambassador in Pekin, and give him his final audience of leave: secondly, the two man

darins Chang and Yin insinuated pretty plainly that the usual ceremony of prostration would be expected from the ambassador; if the former point was not got over, it was quite evident that no time would be allowed for the transaction of any kind of business, and the question of the ceremony was considered as a point of vital importance as, on the refusal or compliance with this degrading and humiliating demand, England must continue to maintain, in the eyes of this haughty government, that high rank and independent spirit for which she had hitherto been known to them, or set the seal of vassalage to her submission, and be registered among the number of their petty tributaries. However, as these men seemed not to have any positive instructions on that head; and as every thing hitherto had been conducted on the same plan and princi-. ples as heretofore, it was hoped that no such concession would be persisted in, or any material deviation be demanded, inconsistent with the precedent established by lord Macartney.

Some little objection was at first made to the number of persons attached to the embassy, which, with the guard, band of music, and servants, amounted to seventy-five; the orders from Pekin limiting the number to fifty. The objection, however, was immediately removed, and a fleet of more than thirty commodious barges appointed to carry them

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the river to Tong-shoo, within twelve miles of the capital; and so studious were they to follow the former precedent, that a vessel was prepared to receive two cows, to supply the English with milk for their tea.

Here ends our direct information from the embassy; the rest is from Chinese authority, which is, in fact, no authority at all; the most audacious falsehoods were daily published when the former embassy was in the country, and lord Macartney had constant occasion to observe, that

their ideas of the obligations of truth were very lax;' besides, whatever appears in the Pekin Gazette is prepared solely and exclusively for the Chinese. No foreigner is supposed to know any thing of what passes in China. It would seem then, from this gazette, that the emperor had not seen the ambassador, nor received the regent's letter and presents; and that the reason assigned for this unfriendly proceeding was the refusal, on the part of lord Amherst, to go through the degrading ceremony required from all the petty kingdoms nominally under the protection of the empire; a ceremony which, as we have stated, is the sign and seal of their vassalage. This ceremony requires the person to fall down at the word of command on both knees, and, on another word being given by a kind of herald, to bow the head nine distinct times to the ground. It has been conjectured, that our quarrel with the Nepaulese had some share in the untoward circumstances of the embassy; but this is not likely; much less is it so that the emperor should have been first informed of that quarrel by lord Amherst. He had in fact appointed a general, and marched an army through Tartary to Thibet, long before the arrival of the embassy; and that general reached Lassa about the same time that lord Amherst arrived at Tien-Sing. The first appearance of discontent is manifested at the circumstance of the ships leaving the gulf of Pe-tche-lee without orders; it insinuates that these ships went off for some bad purpose, and with the design of examining the coast; and circular orders were sent to the officers of the maritime provinces, directing them not to permit the ships to anchor, or a single man to land, VOL. X

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but to desire them immediately to proceed to Macao, and there to wait the arrival of the ambassador. This ignorant government could not conceive the danger of a large ship of war lying at anchor in the middle of an extensive gulf, in less than four fathoms water, and eleven miles from shore, at a time too when the change of the monsoon was momentarily expected, and when those horrible hurricanes called typhoons prevail, and in one of which, in fact, the Alceste was caught in her return to the southward:-deceitful in all its proceedings; its conduct at variance with all its moral and political maxims; it could only impute bad motives to measures of necessary precaution, though the same measures had also been adopted by sir Erasmus Gower on the former occasion.

The danger, in fact, was stated to the legate and the two mandarins; and so well satisfied were they with the reasons assigned for not remaining in that open anchorage, that they furnished captain Maxwell with a letter, ordering the provincial authorities, wherever he might touch, to supply the wants of the ships. If they neglected to inform his imperial majesty of this circumstance, they alone were to blame. However they did not trouble the coast of China; they stood across the gulf of Leatong, saw the great wall, winding up one side of steep mountains and descending the other, down into the very gulf; and instead of meeting with the eastern coast of Corea, where it appears on our charts, they fell in with an archipelago of a thousand islands, among which were the most commodious and magnificent harbours; the real coast of the Corean peninsula being at least 120 miles farther to the eastward. From hence they proceeded to the Leiou-Kieou islands, where they met with a harbour equal to that of Port Mahon, and with the most friendly reception from the poor but kind-hearted people of those islands. Finally, from hence they stood across direct før Canton.

In the mean time the embassy proceeded to Pekin; and on their arrival at Tien-Sing, so it is stated in the gazette before us, a grand entertainment was given to lord Amherst, agreeably with the established ceremonies of the empire; for which, however, his lordship is said not to have been sufficiently thankful. Another edict, bearing date the 28th of August, announces the arrival of the ambassador at Pekin, bearing a letter and tribute from the king of England; and another edict, in the next day's gazette, proclaims the conclusion of the mission, orders it to quit Pekin the same day, points out its route through the provinces to Canton, commands the great officers of the provinces and the criminal judges to attend the ambassador, together with a large military escort; and it is difficult to say whether suspicion, weakness, or pusillanimity most preponderates in the precautions dictated in these absurd orders; or whether petulance or timidity is most apparent in them. It states that the letter and presents have not been received, because the ambassador could not present them; and the reason for not presenting them is thus announced:

* This was the day which his imperial majesty had appointed to receive lord Amherst, the ambassador from the king of En land; but when he came to the door of the interior palace, he was suddenly taken so ill that he could neither walk nor move. The second ambassador' (sir George Staunton) was also affected in the same manner; they could not therefore have the happiness of receiving the gracious favours and the presents of the celestial emperor.'

This sickness of the ambassador is a stale trick of the Chinese; the explanation of which we conjecture to be this: On finding that lord Am

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berst was inflexible, they endeavoured to ensnare him by an apparent relaxation of the demand, when on arriving at the hall of audience he detected their stratagem, and resisted the attempt to enforce the ceremony, which they would have made no scruple to do. The autocratof two hundred millions of people could not at once tell his slaves that a foreign ambassador would not, he therefore qualified the refusal with suggesting that he could not, through sickness, see his heavenly face.'

The ambassador did not, however, leave Pekin on the 29th August, in conformity with the imperial mandate: it was generally believed in Canton that he did not set out on the journey till the 7th September; what happened in the intermediate time does not appear, but on the 6th September another edict was published. It begins by noticing the grand banquet given at Tien-Sing; the vefusal of the ambassador to comply with the prostrations there, with which his imperial majesty was not made acquainted, and for which neglect the two mandarins, Quong and Yin, were ordered to be degraded three degrees; and it proceeds to say, that the ambassador was lodged at a certain place, called Yu-yuen, near the capital, that from thence he was conducted to the imperial palace, •Where (observes his Chinese majesty) I was just about to ascend the throne to receive them, when the first and second were both taken ill, and could not appear before me. In consequence of which I ordered them instantly to return to their own country, for it then occurred to me, that they had declined to comply with the ceremonies of the celestial empire. With respect to their king who sent them on so long a voyage across the vast ocean, to present to me a letter and to offer tribute, it was undoubtedly his intention to pay us homage, and to obey our commands, which mark of submission we are unwilling entirely to reject, lest we also should fail to observe one of the fundamental rules of the celestial empire, that of affording our protection to petty kingdoms. For this rea. 600 we have thought fit to select the most trifling and least valuable of his articles of tribute: namely, four maps, two portraits, and ninety-five prints, which we receive in order to confer some marks of our grace and favour. We have also ordered presents to be given to the king in return, namely, a Yu-ske, four large and eight small silk purses; to be conveyed to the said king; and this we do in conformity with the ancient and accustomed rules of the celestial empire, of making rich gifts in return for things of little value. The ambassadors on the receipt of these presents were much delighted, and showed evident signs of surprise and astonishment.'

Well, indeed, they might!—This extraordinary state-paper then proceeds to order the viceroy of Canton to prepare an entertainment for the ambassador, and dictates the speech he is to make on that occasion, which is nearly a repetition of what we have quoted; and it concludes by saying, should the annbassador again entreat that the rest of the presents may be received, you are merely to say, we have express orders to the contrary from the celestial emperor, and we dare not again offend his ears and with these words you will reject their supplications. Preparations were accordingly making by the viceroy for a grand entertainment when the last ships came away, and he had sent a notice to the chief of the factory, that he had received the emperor's letter to the king of England, which would be delivered to the ambassador on his arrival.

These edicts contain all that was known at Canton of the proceedings of the embassy. It is clear enough, however, from them, that it had failed; that is to say, that the ambassador had saved his own character and the character of the nation he represented, at the expense of foregoing the

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gratification of beholding the dazzling rays of the celestial countenance, and having the valuable presents sent out by the East India Company returned upon their hands. This is the sum total of the fail. ure; for we must repeat, that not only has the national character been upheld by the refusal of lord Amherst to comply with a disgusting and degrading ceremony, which a former English and a Russian ambassador had also refused; but that, individually, he will have experienced more consideration and attention from those very people who have failed in their attempts to degrade him, and, through him, the whole nation; for the less that is conceded to this pusillanimous and insolent people, the more will their fears for the consequence begin to operate. What the issue of the embassy would have been, provided lord Amherst had waved all personal considerations, and submitted to undergo the degrading ceremony, may be collected from the extreme condescension of the two Dutch ambassadors, Titsingh and Van Braam. After lord Macartney's fuilure, as it was also called, these two men imagined that a fine opening was afforded to the Dutch to obtain, by an unconditional submission, all that the English had lost by their obstinate refusal. They began at Canton to bow their heads nine times to the ground before a yellow skreen; to thank the emperor for having graciously condescended to permit them to appear before him with a letter and tribute; and, before their return, they were brought on their knees and bowed their heads to the ground ninety-nine times at least, pour faire le salut d'honneur,' as Van Braam, with true Batavian composure, calls this humiliating ceremony; - but after all this compliance on the part of the Dutch, when they found themselves in the capital, thrust into a stable where some cart horses were standing, poor Van's phlegm began to move a little, and he ventures to exclaim, . Nous serions-nous attendus à une pareille avanture! This was not all; for they were passed through the country literally like so many vagrants; lodged in wretched hovels neither wind nor water tight; left sometimes by their bearers, perched in chairs in the midst of heaths, or on the summits of mountains; frequently without any provisions for whole days; and, in short, went through so many hardships, that Van Braam, who was a large man, says that he had lost on his return a full foot in circumference! whereas, in the case of lord Macartney, far from manifesting any petulance or ill humour, which might have been expected from mortified pride, the Chinese showed every attention to the ambassador and his suite during the whole of their progress through the country.

But why object, we have heard it asked, to a ceremony which is the established uaage of the country? Lord Macartney, we think, has satisfactorily answered that question in urging the propriety of distinguishing between the homage of tributary princes, and the ceremony used on the part of a great and independent sovereign;' and that it could not be expected that an ambassador of an independent sovereign should pay a greater homage to a foreign prince than to his own master, unless the compliment was made reciprocal.' It is not true that the Chinese think little or nothing of their humiliating ceremony; had that been the case, the court of ceremonies would not have objected 10 lord Macartney's proposal of a person with equal rank to his own performing the same ceremony before the king's portrait that he should be required to perform before the emperor. We know not of course, whether lord Amherst was prepared to propose this reciprocity of compliment; but if he

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