CHAPTER XIX. THE SECOND FOREIGN WAR

The events which caused the second foreign war began to come into evidence immediately after the close of the first; and for the sake of clearness and brevity they have been left for consideration to the same chapter, although they happened while Taoukwang was emperor. After the departure of Sir Henry Pottinger, who was succeeded by Sir John Davis, and the arrival of the representatives of the other European powers, who hastened to claim the same rights and privileges as had been accorded to England, the main task to be accomplished was to practically assert the rights that had been theoretically secured, and to place the relations of the two nations on what may be called a working basis. The consulates were duly appointed, the necessary land for the foreign settlements was acquired, and the war indemnity being honorably discharged, Chusan was restored to the Chinese. With regard to the last matter there was some maneuvering of a not altogether creditable nature, and although the Chinese paid the last installment punctually to date, Chusan and Kulangsu were not evacuated for some months after the stipulated time. It was said that our hesitation in the former case was largely due to the fear that France would seize it; but this has been permanently removed by the expressed assertion of our prior right to occupy it. A far more gratifying subject is suggested by the harmony of the relations which were established in Chusan between the garrison under Sir Colin Campbell and the islanders, who expressed deep regret at the departure of the English troops. The first members of the consular staff in China were as follows: Mr. G. T. Lay was consul at Canton, Captain George Balfour at Shanghai (where, however, he was soon succeeded by Sir Rutherford Alcock), Mr. Henry Gribble at Ainoy, and Mr. Robert Thorn at Ningpo. Among the interpreters were the future Sir Thomas Wade and Sir Harry Parkes. Various difficulties presented themselves with regard to the foreign settlements, and the island of Kulangsu at Amoy had to be evacuated because its name was not mentioned in the treaty. At Canton also an attempt was made to extend the boundaries of the foreign settlement by taking advantage of a great conflagration, but in this attempt the Europeans were baffled by the superior quickness of the Chinese, who constructed their new houses in a single night. These incidents showed that the sharpness was not all on one side, and that if the Chinese were backward in conceding what might be legitimately demanded, the Europeans were not averse to snatching an advantage if they saw the chance.

The turbulence of the Canton populace, over whom the officials possessed but a nominal control, was a constant cause of disagreement and trouble. In the spring of 1846 a riot was got up by the mob on the excuse that a vane erected on the top of the flagstaff over the American Consulate interfered with the Fung Shui, or spirits of earth and air; and although it was removed to allay the excitement of the superstitious, the disturbance continued, and several personal encounters took place, in one of which a Chinese was killed. The Chinese mandarins, incited by the mob, demanded the surrender of the man who fired the shot; and that they should have made such a demand, after they had formally accepted and recognized the jurisdiction of consular courts, furnished strong evidence that they had not mastered the lessons of the late war or reconciled themselves to the provisions of the Treaty of Nankin. The fortunate arrival of Keying to "amicably regulate the commerce with foreign countries" smoothed over this difficulty, and the excitement of the Canton mob was allayed without any surrender. It was almost at this precise moment, too, that Taoukwang made the memorable admission that the Christian religion might be tolerated as one inculcating the principles of virtue. But the two pressing and practical difficulties in the foreign question were the opening of the gates of Canton and the right of foreigners to proceed beyond the limits of their factories and compounds. The Chinese wished for many reasons, perhaps even for the safety of the foreigners, to confine them to their settlements, and it might be plausibly argued that the treaty supported this construction. Of course such confinement was intolerable, and English merchants and others would not be prevented from making boating or shooting excursions in the neighborhood of the settlements. The Chinese authorities opposed these excursions, and before long a collision occurred with serious consequences. In March, 1847, a small party of Englishmen proceeded in a boat to Fatshan, a manufacturing town near Canton which has been called the Chinese Birmingham. On reaching the place symptoms of hostility were at once manifested, and the Europeans withdrew for safety to the yamen of the chief magistrate, who happened unfortunately to be away. By this time the populace had got very excited, and the Englishmen were with difficulty escorted in safety to their boat. The Chinese, however, pelted them with stones, notwithstanding the efforts of the chief officer, who had by this time returned and taken the foreigners under his protection. It was due to his great heroism that they escaped with their lives and without any serious injury.