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The Russians, notwithstanding their boasted 'treaty of peace,' have been treated with scarcely less indignity than the Dutch, or all other 'outside barbarians,' who have come in contact with the Chi
In 1720, Leoff Vassiloveck Ismailoff, a Russian ambassador, made his public entry into Peking. He was treated with the greatest respect,' but the outer door of the house where he lodged was locked and sealed with the emperor's seal. It was not without much expostulation that this and other 'mortifications' were removed. On regulating the ceremonial of the ambassador's audience, he contended for delivering his credentials into the emperor's own hands, and being excused from bowing nine times on entering His Majesty's presence; both these requisitions were however deemed inadmissible. Finally, after a 'negotiation of some days, the ceremonial was adjusted on the following terms: 166 That the ambassador should comply with the established customs of the court of China, and when the emperor sent a minister to Russia, he should have instructions to conform himself in every respect to the ceremonies in use at that court." But all these flattering appearances' ceased with the departure of the ambassador; and with the exception of six ecclesiastical and four lay members, 'fixed’ at Peking, the Russians, during the last century, have enjoyed no more rights and immunities in China, than the Dutchmen have, 'pent up in their prison-house' in Japan.
Thus it appears, from a long series of historical facts, that the Chi. nese practically deny the existence of relative rights among nations. The government proceeds on the supposition that its subjects have no rights; this position once established, all rights and immunities are and must be denied to outside barbarians. As there is but one sun in the heavens, so there can be buit one great supreme power on earth :' that power is the emperor. He is the vicegerent of heaven; and to his sway all both within and without the four seas must submit; and whoever and whatever does not, ought to be annihilated. In this assumption of all right and dominion, foreigners have acquiesced. This acquiescence has grown out of the doctrine, (very prevalent in the West,) that nations have a right to manage their own affairs in their own way, and have no responsibilities in reference to other portions of the human family; and that so long as one permits intercourse in a way it chooses, and refuses it in any other way, or interdicts it altogether, other nations have no right to interfere or complain. This doctrine is well expressed in the old adage, “Keep what you have got, and get what you can." It assumes not only the infallibility of rulers, but its kindred dogma, that
might gives right;' and if personitied would consort with that of the hero who thought,
s. Better reign in hell, than serve in heaven.” The doctrine is equally opposed to the laws of God, to reason, and
Ignorance, superstition, pride, and ambition, have acted jointly to strengthen, establish, and perpetuate it.
its hideousness has long since been apparent; and it is becoming daily more and more an object of detestation. It stands opposed to riglit, as night does to day; and not more surely will darkness fly before the rising sun, than it before the light of truth.
A just view of this doctrine will be obtained, if we suppose it to be carried into effect in a small community. Imagine, then, an extensive estate equally divided among twelve sons. Together with a large landed property and flocks and herds, it embraces a variety of manufactories; rivers, canals, and highways intersect the whole, and in such a manner as to make each one of the parts, in a measure, dependent on and serviceable to all the other parts. This mutual relation was designed; and eleven of the sons perceive this and act accordingly, keeping up the relation and intercourse which their father had established for their mutual benefit. But to their surprise, one of the twelve takes a very different course; he draws around his portion a line of separation, and declares death to any one of his domestics who shall pass that line; and enacts the same penalty against his brothers and any menibers of their households, who shall presume to enter the forbidden territory. And he stops not here. He denies the existence of any relationship or obligation to his brothers; denounces thern as barbarians, and treats them accordingly. But some of them venture to enter a remote corner of his part of the estate, and after many disputes, are at length 'graciously permitted' to lodge there, and buy and sell : but all intercourse beyond this is interdicted.
It is unnecessary to pursue this illustration farther; it shows at once, in a clear light, the very unnatural attitude which China has assumed. And what, in the case supposed, ought to be the course of conduct pursued with regard to the individual who has adopted this exclusive system? He has evideutly frustrated the intentions of his father, much to the injury of the whole family. Ilis brothers have perceived this, have felt the injury, and have tried various expedients to remove the evil. They have sent messengers to him, repeatedly and at great expense; but he has treated them with neglect, contempt, and insult, requiring them to do him homage in the name of their masters. With regard to an individual of this description, there would be evidently but one course that could be pursued with strict justice. It would be necessary, as a matter of expediency and of duty, to restrict and restrain him, and with a hand so strong as to prevent the possibility of his doing injury to his neighbors. With special care being taken not to do him any harm, this rigid course should be followed up till he acknowledges and respects his kindred, reciprocates their offices of kindness, and gives bonds for good behavior in future. So it should be with China.
The evils of the existing state of intercourse with this country are neither few nor small. Numerous and grievous as they are, however, they may be removed, and many of them easily and without delay. In the case supposed above, with eleven individuals against one, it would not surely be very difficult to persuade or conipel that one
to adopt a line of conduct consistent with their rights and his obligations ; there would indeed be occasion for force, but not for cruelty and wrong; and when he saw his true position (for we have not sup posed him bereft of reason), he would at once submit to what he had not the power to resist. The government of Great Britan could alone, were it necessary, dictate to the Chinese, and enforce any terms it pleased ; and could, by the exercise of its naval power, eifect the removal of all the grievances which it is the province of governinent to remove. This power, we hope, will speedily be exerted, and this effect produced. Recent injuries demand this. Humanity demands it. And justice will approve of it. But as the evils affect not one nation, but all; the efforts to remove them should not be put forth by one alone, but jointly and simultaneously by all. For every natiou that comes in contact with China, has rights which it may claim, and duties which it must perform. The true basis of the civil state-of the relative rights and duties among nations—is the ordination of heaven; and it has not been left optional with any natiou to enter that state, or to keep aloof from it, at pleasure.
As most of the evils in question have their origin in the political creed of the Chinese, it is necessary to examine it, and see how it produces such bad effects. The penal code of the Chinese has been pronounced, by one of the most competent judges that ever lived, to be in his opinion superior to the institutes of Menu, the precepts of Zoroaster, the rules of the Koran, and the laws of England.' Parts of the code, however, are as injurious in their effects as they are extravagant in their assumptions; and the predominant spirit of the whole is, in our opinion, very bad. An instance of the latter is found in the first section of that work. In ancient times, culprits, were ping choo sze e, cast forth upon the surrounding regions,' that they might have no part in the righteous sway of China ; but now, since the empire includes all the territory within the sze hue, 'four seas,' there is no place to which criminals can be thrown off;' and therefore 'banishment' has become 'transportation.' On the spirit of the Chinese laws, the following remarks written by Dr. Morrison, are to our purpose :
"That the foreign visitor in China should form a right estimate of the feelings and conduct of the natives respecting himself, and have jisst expectations on that subject, it is necessary that he should know their legal condition as regards intercourse with foreigners; for much of their behavior must be attributed to that, and not to their natural disposition. This knowledge will prevent the visitor from entertaining too high expectations on the one hand; or, on the other hand, dealing out unjust blame, when such expectations are disappointed. When ignorant of the laws of a country, we are very naturally guided by what we consider reasonable. But when law speaks, reason must be silent; for whether the law be reasonable or otherwise, it insists on being first heard. And in what nation are there not many unreasonable laws!
“ In China, the laws, whether the fundamiental ones in the imperial
code, or the subsidiary rules, or the provincial and local orders of government, or the law of usage among the people, -are all more or less hostile to a free and ainicable intercourse with foreigners. The native who violates these laws runs a risk, affecting his respectability in society, his personal safety and that of his family and connections, the loss of his property by confiscation, or the infliction of flogging, imprisonment, transport, or death, according as the case may be under varying times, circumstances, and persons in authority. A risk is run, and a man may suffer death, legally, for that which, being not bad or unreasonable in its own nature, he has been doing with impanity for years in respect of intercourse with foreigners. There are many of the ordinary transactions between natives and foreigners at Canton, which, when the government wishes to punish a man, it interprets as a traitorvus intercourse with the enemies of the state, and, in an especial degree, of the Tartar dynasty; affixing to the culprit the appellation of Han keën, or Chinese traitor,' a person whom the law sentences to death. We have known the term applied by government to a respectable hong-merchant, for being supposed to give information to foreigners of the law of homicide, when the life of one of their fellow-countrymen was in danger. We have also known it applied to another respectable hong-merchant, for having bought a sedan-chair for a foreigner; and not merely applied but acted on. The merchant was seized, thrown into prison, and there soon died.
"Now what we would impress upon the foreign visitor is, that considering the legal risk a native runs when holding intercourse with him, he should not blame too severely the Chinese who declines to incur that risk in order to serve him, although it be in a manner which reason approves. It is enough that the law condemns it. It is not a century since a man lost his head for writing a petition for foreigners, and showing them the way to the city gate with it! The carriage of domestic and commercial letters to and from Canton and Macao is not yet legalized; it is done by the postman at the risk of a flogging, and by the boatman at the risk of that and of the confiscation of his boat also. The post for foreign letters and parcels is conducted by fees, bribery, and connivance, contrary to law.
"The laws concerning intercourse with foreigners contained in the Lcuh-le, or penal code, the standard, fundamental, or permanent part of which was so elegantly translated by Sir George T. Staunton, are chiefly contained in the sections numbered 224 and 225. It did not enter into the translator's plan to give the supplementary clauses of the code, which are more or less altered on every revision, at intervals of five or ten years.
Hence the translated code is not so full on many points of actual law as it would otherwise have been.
“ The laws of China recognize the duty of pity to foreigners in distress, such as shipwrecked seamen, or needy traders who require the necessaries of life for their starving native countries! But in any other light the law views them as rivals and enemies, to be distrusted and guarded against. Hence it is, that all intercourse with them, excepe under the immediate eye of government, is constructive treason.
A foreigner must not buy Chinese books; he must not see their gazettes; no scholar, gentleman, or official person must visit him. He must remain in his warehouse or factory, and be guarded by hong-merchants, compradors, and coolies! Servants to attend on his person he nuust not have. The law of the province requires the couk and coolies whom he employs, to act the part of spies on his conduct. They must tell the linguists, the linguists must tell the hong-nerchants, and the hong-merchants the government, of all that the foreigner dues ! The law has done its duty in guarding against foreigners, and if the people would do their's, the life of a foreign inerchant in Canton would be insupportable.
But, we are told, the laws are broken. True, they are not intended, even by those who issue them, to continue at all times in force. Well then, it may be objected, they do no harm. This is a mistaken inference. They do much harm; they are broken at a risk; and for the risk the foreigner must pay. Now and then, also, the risk is realized; the native has, at the least, to suffer loss of property; perhaps, as we have already said, the loss of his liberty or his life, with all the degradiltion and pain which attend imprisonment in a Chinese jail (a place which they call hell). In fact, the edicts fulminated by government are generally intended to answer the double purpose of holding up foreigners to the contempt of the people, and of oppressing them, under cover of old regulations, whenever it is convenient to do so. The consequence is that often the most contradictory regulations are passed, 80 as to entangle the unwarý "barbarian' in the net of the law, whichever way he may turn himself." (See the Commercial Guide.)
The whole system of measures, adopted by the Chinese in regard to foreigners is very bad. Even the terms, e jin, wae ', 'barbarian,' 'outside barbarian,' &c., in constant use by the government, are contemptuous, degrading and injurious, and ought never to be allowed. As for 'fixed regulations, properly so called, there are none. In the plain matter of duties on exports and imports, even the honginerchants themselves can not explain the mystery of the iniquities that are practiced. We do not wonder that the 'benevolent emperor' should say, as he does in a late edict, that "if, as now reported, the Canton merchants hare of late been in a feeble aud deficient state, and have in addition to the governmental duties, added also private duties; while fraudulent individuals have further taken advantage of this to make gain out of the custom-house duties, peeling off (from the barbarians) lager after layer, and have gone also to the extreme degree of the government merchants incurring debts to the barbarians, heaping thousands upon ten thousands ; — whereby are stirred up sanguinary quarrels; if the merchants, thus, falsely and under the name of tariff duties, extort each according to his own wishes, going even to the extreme degree of incurring debts, amount upou amount, it is not matter of, surprise, if the said barbarian merchants, unable to bear their grasping, stir up disturbances.” And His Majesty adds, with regard to the affair of the English Lord Napier' and others, this year, we have no assurance that it was not owing to the numerous