We do not exactly see why we should pay exceptional
honour to Li Hung Chang when he arrives here. He is entitled, of course, to all the respect usually paid to the representative of a first-class Power, but the shrewd and smooth old gentleman has no personal claim upon the British for anything beyond courtesy. We do not want anything which he can grant, and if we did it is doubtful whether a cool ceremoniousness would not impress him a great deal more than the flatteries which have been poured upon him in Berlin, and which are to be poured upon him in Paris. As to impressing him by Royal ceremonial, he has seen a good deal of it, and is much more likely to be impressed by London than by anything else, except possibly a fleet of war-ships. It is extremely doubtful if unusual honour has any effect upon an Oriental beyond confirming his own estimate of himself, which in the case of a Chinese Mandarin is the precise cause of his customary unreasonableness. He will take us, we may be sure, for a set of barbarians, whatever we do, and will grant or refuse our requests without reference to anything but the interests of China, and his own place among the counsellors of the throne. He probably knows very accurately the comparative power which European nations have of giving trouble to Pekin, and he will act upon that knowledge, and not upon any consideration of gratitude for our smiles.