9 APRIL 1836, Page 15

It will have been gathered by this time, that "

war, open or concealed," is advocated by every one connected with China, and by all who write upon its affairs, (except Sir GEORGE SrAumrem and the Quarterly Review,) whilst upon Mr. MsruesoN has devolved the task of proving that the war will be a righteous one. No commercial treaty, indeed, exists, under which we can claim a right to trade with China at all; but he endeavours to show that, by at-quiescence and lapse of time, we Lave acquired a pre-criplive right equivalent to any treaty. The long historical induction by which he attempts to maintain his view, is, we must confess, less convincing to us as establishiug any thing like prescription, than interesting (hr showing that exclusion of foreigners does not seem to be a fundamental law of the empire—that much greater freedom n of trade and communication was permitted in former times—that the present restrictions both in port end person have been of slow growth, more or less attributable to the East India Company's mismanagement—and that the disposition of the Court of Pekin is, upparently, favourable to foreign trade, the exactions upon which are traceable to local authorities. But grant a prescriptive right, and what would it avail? "The memory of man," on which it must rest, is competent to prove continual changes in the regulations and mode of conducting it. There is no Methuen treaty with a clause drawn from the decrees of the Males and Persians. There is nothing to prevent China imposing such portcharges and import-duties as would be equivalent to prohibition; and most assuredly, the internal fillancial regulations of an independent state are no legitimate ground of warfare upon a plea which must resolve itself into this, that they deprive foreiguers of the power of selling with a profit. If, however, foreigners, trading with a country under prescriptive permission, are injuriously handled in a way contrary to what prescription justifies,—or if a national representative, acting under this implied treaty, is used in a manner contrary to the law of nations,—a case seems to arise which gives a right to demand satisfaction, and if refused, to proceed to hostilities. Judging from our present lights, this case seems to have arisen. According to Mr. MATHESON,

" Lord Napier was sent out to China at the express instance of the Chinese Government.

"lii 18:31, the Viceroy of Canton stated, in an edict, issued with reference to the ehange which he understood as likely to take place in the mode of carrying on the British trade,

" I hereby issue an order to the Hong merchants, that they forthwith enjoin my command on the said nation's Chief, eatly to send a letter home, that if indeed after the thirteenth year of Taou Kwang, the Company be dissolved, it will, as heretofore, be incumbent to deliberate and appoint a chief who understands the business, to come to Canton, for the general management of the commercial business ; by which means affairs may be prevented from going to confusion, and benefits remain to commerce.' His Lordship was ordered by our Government to reside within the limits of the port of Canton, and nut elsewhere. On his arrival at Canton, the Viceroy refused to receive his letter,. announcing his mission, unless it were sent through the Hong merchants,--a step which Lord Napier, for sufficient reasons, declined to adopt. His right to proceed to Canton, without an express permit, was disputed, though European boats had for years past been permitted to do so, without any necessity for such a document. After three or four weeks' negotiation on this point, all British trade was stopped from the Wall of August till the 27th of September, to the grievous injury of the British merchants having valuable cargoes then in port and waiting at the mouth of the Canton river till permitted to enter the port. During this period, the Chinese went the length of interdicting all supply of provisions to Lord Napier, and cut off his communication with the ships of war. His health, under these harassing circumstances, began to suffer to such a degree, that it became neee,sary to remove him from Canton; the only means of effecting whieh was in a Chinese boat, provided by the Governmeut, who wantonly detained the dying nobleman five lays on the passage from Canton to Macao, ordinarily accomplished in two days, subjecting him, at the same time, to other indignities and cruelties ; under the combined effects of which he sunk, and expited shortly afterwards at Macao."

We have quoted this passage at length, chiefly to refresh the memory of the reader as to the entire facts of the case : for the losses to British subjects, the death of Lord NAPIER, perhaps his personal ill-treatment, and all other unpleasantnesses, are mere sequences following the refusal of the Viceroy to receive him. And in this, we think, is the cams bell. He knew the Company might be dissolved. In that contingency he demands from the King of England, and for his own benefit, that a chief should be sent to Canton; and then refuses to receive either his credentials or himself, unless in a way derogatory to a national representative. Had Lord NAPIER been properly instructed, who can deny that it would have beroi his duty to demand anti enforce satisfaction from the Court of Pekin? And, without pronouncing any opinion as to Lord NAPIER'S obstinacy, the original cause of all the evil seems clearly, the arrogance and misconduct of the Viceroy. At all events, there is sufficient ground of complaint, in his nonreception alone, to warrant a demand of satisfaction from Pekin.

If this be made, all the writers without exception agree, that the embassy should be formidably accompanied, to strike terror at once. They also maintain, that every attempt at enforcing the derogatory forms of the Chinese should be promptly met at the beginning,—in plain English, that the Chinese should be well bullied at starting.

SatiVaction is no doubt desirable for the national honour ; and if refused, it requires nothing more than a war of reprisals, which can be carried on by sea and at small cost. But if satisfaction be yielded at once or after a short delay, what becomes of the proposed treaty of commerce? Hostilities indeed might be designedly precipitated, or, once begun, might be persisted in for ulterior objects, apart from the just ground ofquarrel; but, waiving the dishonesty of such proceedings, if demands of' the kind alluded to are once made, and the Chinese turn out to be stouter than we imagine, we must disgracefully succumb, or work out the war. During its continuance, there is an end to all trade; the victories and advantages of the war are contingent, its expense alone is certain. If however we should obtain all we want, we might leave rankling'in the minds of the Chinese people, and certainly a disposition in the court to throw obstacles in the way of our commerce amongst their own subjects when the first terror has subsided. We must still depend upon the government, where so much rests with the personal character of the rulers, and still have to act amongst, with, and by foreigners of customs, manners, and characters very contrary to our own. If these difficulties could not be avoided, they must of course be met as best we might; but such is not the fact. There is a safe, an honourable way to remove them, and at the same time obtain all the advantages sought for. It is now admitted by the most opposite parties, that the plan of forming commercial stations on some of the islands along the coast of China, to which we called attention fur the first time about four years ago,* is safe and practicable.

" Your memorialists," say the East India Association of Glasgow, " presume further to suggest to your Lordship, that failing a satisfactory arrangement with the Chinese Government, it would be of the greatest advantage to British trade in that part of the world, were his Majesty's Government to obtain one or more of the islands near to China, as an empo r i ttt n for carrying on commerce free from the exactions, control, or annoyance of the Chinese Government." • " If the British community should be once more compelled," observes Sir GEORGE StrauNrox, "as they were in 1814, to retire from Canton ; and should their negotiator not be solicited by the Chinese authorities to return and resume his functions (as I was at that period, as noticed by Mr. Matheson, p. 44), they will in that ease, no doubt, be driven to the necessity of taking another position. If Sincapore be deemed to be too distant for a suitable commercial entrepiit, there is an infinite number of Mtn mediate islands, possessing every facility and convenience both for navigation and commerce, which might be taken possession of, not only without a contest, but without the violation of any right in practical exercise; and I agree with Mr. Matheson in the justice of the remark he quotes (p. b9), that ' the Chinese would not hesitate to trade with foreigners there, if they could lie assured of receiving protection ;' and that such an intermediate stat. might, under such circumstances, become one of the most flourishing places in the East.' "—(Sir Georye Staunton, page 42, 43.) The following is the passage from Mr. MATHESON, alluded to in the preceding extract ', , If Great Britain were to take possession of Macao, garrison it with native troops from Bengal, and declare it a free port, it would be fille of the most flourishing places in the East.' In this opinion, however, this intelligent traveller (Mr. Holman) has been misinformed; for Macao would be worse than useless to Great Britain,--owing to the humiliating tenure on which it is held from the Chinese, and its want of a suitable anchorage for any but vessels of the smaller class. If any island is taken possession of, it should be in a central part of China—Cu USA N, for instance, as suggested by Sir James Urmston, formerly chief of the Company's factory. Then, indeed, might we hope to see it become one of the most flourishing places in the East ; for,' continues Mr. Hobnail, ' the Chinese are so fond of smuggling, that they would not hesitate to trade with foreigners if they could be assured of receiving protection; and there is no doubt that they would use all those arts of bribery with their own countrymen, which would be necessary to promote their own ends, and which are so irresistible to the equivocal integrity of the Chinese. By these means, therefore, there is not a doubt that a very extensive and productive trade might be established with China, and very important advantages secured to the British nation.'" But whether this plan be adopted or neglected, something must be done, not only for the sake of the mercantile interest, but of the public at large. Indeed, the people are the most interested in the proper settlement of the business, as they, after all, are the main sufferers. Whatever may be the expense of transporting tea and silk from one extremity of China to the other, the additional cost -eventually falls upon them. The port-charges, the exactions of the provincial authorities, and the expenses springing from the restrictions of the Hong, are merely disbursed by the merchants; it is the consumers in England who finally pay for them. The inconveniences suffered by the residents limit the number of merchants who would otherwise engage in the trade ; by which competition is checked, enhanced price maintained, and the demand for British manufactures diminished, as well as the supply of Chinese commodities. Lastly, if we consider that the trade of a single port—and that at the extremity of the empire—takes off six millions of British goods, a considerable part of which are too cheap to bear the cost of extensive carriage, some idea may be formed of the immense trade which is awaiting us if our Government will only be at the trouble of opening up channels in which it -may flow. * Spectator, No. 19l; 31 March 1332.