9 JANUARY 1841, Page 1


THE Opium expedition to China thrives apace. The news re- ceived this week blows peace and war with the same breath. At Macao, some smart cannonading had been directed against the Chinese fortifications at the barrier : it lasted nearly as long as the cannonading of Acre, and was returned with more spirit than the Chinese had previously shown, though with as little success. The object of this sudden attack is stated to have been to teach the Chinese a" severe lesson," that they must not make preparations for war in the presence of an English force. The ships got under weigh with the first fair wind, took up their positions, and opened their fire without a warning. After destroying the forts, killing about sixty Chinese, and wounding double that number, the ships retired, luckily, without having received much damage.

The accounts of the doings of the expedition on the North- eastern coast are very indefinite. The facts can only be surmised from statements in letters hastily written by parties but imper- .fectly informed. According to these statements, at the time of the attack on the Chinese barrier at Macao, a communication had been opened in the Pekin river between the English Commissioner and the Celestial Emperor, for a treaty of peaCe. Negotiations were carried on during eighteen days ; and then the English squadron re- turned to Chusan. The result of the negotiation is rather guessed at than ascertained' but a report had gained credence, that the terms of a treaty had been agreed upon, by which China is to pay three millions sterling for the lesson which the English have taught the Celestials in the art of war, and Commissioner LIN, against whom all Captain ELLIOT'S proclamations have been directed, is to be delivered up to be dealt with according to English will and pleasure. These, however, reach us in the shape of mere rumours, not unaccompanied by a surmise that the object of the Chinese is only delay ; though it may be presumed that unless some basis of agreement had been laid, the Admiral would not have returned With his squadron without firing a shot. Meanwhile, the posses- sion of Chusan threatens to prove infinitely more destructive to the English forces than its capture. The climate was rapidly thinning their ranks. The opium-vessels follow in the wake of our ships of war; and a good deal of illicit trading continued to be car- ried on with the natives. The Chinese, being a practical people, very naturally suppose that all our warlike opeiations are undertaken for the purpose of opening the market for the sale of the drug : the close proximity of the opium-ships to those of the Royal Navy must needs give countenance to such a supposition.