American Diplomacy in the Orient/Chapter I

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American Diplomacy in the Orient by John W. Foster
Chapter I
Published in 1903



THE people of the United States of America, as soon as they had achieved their independence in 1783, manifested a notable spirit of commercial and maritime adventure. Within two years after peace was secured the flag of the new nation had been carried by American ships into all the waters of the globe. When they reached the Pacific Ocean in quest of avenues of trade, they found almost all the ports of the countries of Asia closed against them. Within the brief lifetime of this young nation a great transformation has been wrought in that region of the globe, which is vitally affecting the! political and commercial relations of many nations. L this transformation the United States has borne a conspicuous and an honorable part. A narrative of its participation in the events which have brought about this change in the affairs of the world will be the subject of this volume.

For two hundred years before the beginning of the nineteenth century and for a considerable time after


that date, the free access of foreigners to most of the countries of Asia was prohibited, and commerce was carried on under very burdensome and restricted conditions. This state of affairs may be attributed mainly to two causes: first, the gross ignorance of those countries respecting the rest of the world; and, second, the violent and aggressive conduct of the Europeans who visited them soon after the maritime discoveries of the fifteenth century. A review of these conditions will enable us the better to understand the difficulties encountered by the Americans in their early relations with the countries of the Orient, and the important part taken by the government of the United States in bringing them out of their seclusion and opening them up to commercial and political intercourse with the outside world.

An examination of the history of the Asiatic nations shows that the restrictive policy was of comparatively modern origin. The earliest records of Japan give accounts of embassies and intercourse with Korea and China dating from two thousand years ago to recent times. Japanese mariners had sailed their ships to all the regions of Asia, and from the time the first Europeans came into the Pacific, throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Japanese vessels carried on commerce with India, Siam, Malacca, the Philippines, China, and Korea, and had even reached the coast of America.

Chinese records contain reference to intercourse with the people of the West as early as the Greek invasion of Asia under Alexander; and the classic writings, both


Chinese and Latin, show that there were some trade relations with Rome in the time of the early emperors. During the period of the Byzantine empire quite an overland traffic was maintained, and we find accounts of frequent embassies to and from Arabia and India from the beginning of the Christian era onward through the medieval period. But the most authentic and detailed narratives are those of Arab travelers and merchants in and after the ninth century, showing an extensive trade by sea from the ports of Arabia and the Persian Gulf; and even at that date Chinese junks were making voyages to India, Ceylon, and still farther west. As indicating the state of intercourse during the Mohammedan ascendancy, it may be noted that in 1420 a Chinese embassy was commissioned to go to all the nations of the Western Ocean extending as far as Arabia Felix, and the record is that it was well received by them. 1 When European vessels began to visit China foreign

1 1 Cathay and the Way Thither, translated by Colonel Yule, London, printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1866, preliminary essay, sections i.-v.;

1 The Chinese, by Sir John F. Davis, New York, 1837, chap. i.;

2 History of China, by Charles Gutzlaff, New York, 1834, chap. xx.; Arabs and Chinese, by Dr. E. Bretschneider, London, 1871; Ancient Account of India and China, by two Mohammedan travelers, by E. Renaudot (translation), London, 1733. See review of same in 1 Chinese Repository, Canton, 1833, p. 6.

The Chinese Repository, one of the most valuable publications extant concerning Chinese matters, was founded in 1832 by Rev. E. C. Bridgman, the first American missionary sent to China, a gentleman of decided literary merit, who was enabled to render useful diplomatic service to his own country and devoted his life to the elevation of the Chinese. With him was associated in the publication of the Repository Dr. S. Wells Williams, to whom frequent reference will be made in this volume. The publication continued through twenty years.


trade was carried on from ports of the various provinces south of the Yang-tse-Kiang. The first European vessel reached Canton in 1516, and was of Portuguese nationality. It was received in a friendly spirit, and created a favorable impression on the authorities. It was followed the next year by an armed fleet of eight vessels, seeking trade and bearing an envoy to the emperor of China. Delay and disappointment were experienced by the envoy, and the presence of such a fleet soon created suspicion, which was followed by a collision with the Chinese navy. Other vessels followed the visit of the fleet, and Portugal, then at the height of its power, pushed its commerce with China along up the coast, establishing entrepots at Amoy and Ningpo. By their violent conduct they brought upon themselves within a few years the hostility of the natives. At Ningpo, in one assault alone, eight hundred Portuguese were slaughtered and thirty-five ships burned. One of the charges of lawlessness which brought about this act of vengeance was that the Portuguese were accustomed to send armed parties into the neighboring villages and bring in the women who fell into their hands. 1 . Holland early became a formidable power in the East. In 1622 a Dutch squadron of seventeen vessels appeared ofP the coast of China, and after being repulsed at Macao \ by the Portuguese, with whom they were at war, they 1 seized the Pescadores Islands, lying between the mainland and Formosa, established themselves there, and

1 2 History of China, Gutzlaff, p. 126; View of China, R. Morrison, 1817; 1 The Chinese, Davis, 28; 1 Chinese Repository, 398, 425; Historical Sketch of Portuguese Settlements in China, Boston, 1836.


began to erect fortifications. This led to hostilities with the Chinese, and they finally withdrew to Formosa, of which they took possession, with the design of making it a permanent Dutch colony; but after a constant fare of twenty-eight years with the Chinese and the natives, they were finally expelled. 1

The British made their first visit to Canton in 1635. Four vessels fitted out by the East India Company, commanded by Captain Weddel, entered the river, and were halted at the Bogue forts. A parley ensued, in which they insisted on proceeding up to Canton, but were asked to await the consent of the authorities. Disregarding the port regulations and the warning cannon shot of the Chinese, the whole British fleet, quoting the narrative of the voyage, "did on a sudden display their bloody ensigns, and...each ship began to play furiously upon the forts with their broadsides." Within two or three hours the forts were silenced, a force of men landed, occupied and destroyed the forts, "put on board all their ordnance, fired the council house, and demolished what they could." The fleet then moved up to Canton, and demanded the privilege to trade, the vessels being filled with merchandise. The authorities still hesitating, the fleet again began hostilities, "pillaged and burnt many vessels and villages...spreading destruction with fire and sword." An agreement was finally reached whereby the British were allowed to land and trade. Sir George Staunton, secretary of the first British embassy to China, in recording this event says: "The unfortunate circumstances under which the

1 1 The Chinese, Davis, 42; 2 History of China, Gutzlaff, chap. xxii.


English first got footing in China must have operated to their disadvantage, and rendered their situation for some time peculiarly unpleasant." It was thirty years thereafter before another British vessel visited Chinese waters for purposes of trade.

The Spaniards occupied the Philippines in 1543, and their cruel treatment of the Chinese who were established there operated to the great prejudice of the former at Canton and other ports, and their trade with the country never was of any considerable value. The French, in the early European intercourse with the East, never sought to establish trade with China; but the French missionaries entered the country more than two centuries before the European vessels reached it. They were not only successful in their missions, but had attained much influence with the authorities of the empire. 2

In the sixteenth century the Chinese empire and its dependencies extended from Korea to India. Its rulers did not fail to note the aggressive spirit of the Portuguese, Dutch, and Spaniards, who had taken possession by force of the Philippines, Java, and other islands, and had acquired a foothold in India and the Malay Peninsula. The early intercourse in its own ports with these nationalities and the English, so marked by violence and bloodshed, led the Chinese authorities tq stringent

1 Embassy to the Emperor of China, by Sir George Staunton, London, 1797, p. 8; 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, chap, xxiii.; 1 The Chinese, Davis, chaps, ii. and iii.

2 For early Nestorian missions, see 1 Cathay, by Colonel Yule, preliminary essay, sec. vi.; for Roman Catholic missions, 2 Cathay, Yule, 529; 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 43.


measures in the seventeenth century, which resulted in the closing of all ports except that of Canton, and even at that port foreign intercourse was conducted under very onerous conditions. 1

From the beginning European commerce encountered two serious obstructions. The emperor and the ruling classes recognized no equality in other nations, and all who held intercourse with them were regarded as subjects of vassal nations, and their envoys as tribute-bearers. This led to very humiliating demands upon foreigners, and in part explains the early conflicts. The Europeans, also, in their contact with the Chinese officials, found in existence a system of bribery and corruption which constituted a heavy tax upon trade, and was the cause of much dissatisfaction.

The experience of the Japanese with the early European voyagers and merchants was somewhat different from that of the Chinese, but it ended even more disastrously to the newly established relations. The Island Empire was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Pinto in 1542, and he was soon followed by merchant vessels, which met with a welcome from the native princes, and within a few years a profitable trade was maintained. The Portuguese were followed by the Spaniards, who were likewise freely admitted. The first Dutch vessels came in 1600, reaching Japan in distress. The captain returned to Holland to report on the new found land of trade, but the pilot Adams, who was an

1 1 The Chinese, Davis, 28, 32; Narrative of Voyages, by A. Delano, Boston, 1817, p. 531; China and the Chinese, by Rev. J. L. N. Nevius, New York, 1869, p, 299; A History of China, by S. Wells Williams, edited by F. W. Williams, New York, 1897, p. 55.


Englishman, remained in the country, teaching the natives the European art of shipbuilding and becoming a great favorite at court. Other vessels arrived in 1609, and from that date they began to divide the trade with the Portuguese, who had heretofore enjoyed almost a monopoly of it. The English established themselves in 1613, and within a few years had factories at Hirado, Nagasaki, Osaka, Yedo, and various other ports. 1

While in China there was a constant drain of silver from Europe to maintain the balance of trade, in Japan gold and silver were plentiful, as also copper, which was then a scarce metal in Europe. During the seventeenth century the Dutch exported from Japan 43,482,250 pounds sterling in gold and silver, principally gold, and in that and the next century 206,253 tons of copper. For nearly one hundred years Europeans enjoyed a free and lucrative trade with the empire, but an influence was at work in the country which was destined to create an effectual barrier to trade and intercourse.

1 One of the most frequently cited works on the early intercourse of Europeans with Japan is Dr. E. Kaempfer's History of Japan. He was attached to the Dutch factory at Deshima. The following are accessible translations and abstracts: History of Japan, by E. Kaempfer, translated by J. J. Scheuchzer, London, 1727, 2 vols.; abridged edition, London, 1853; J. A. Pinkerton's edition, London, 1811; abstract by R. G. Watson, Transactions of Asiatic Society, Japan, vol. ii., Yokohama, 1874. As to Kaempfer, Things Japanese, by Professor Chamberlain, London, 1891, p. 242. Histoire du Japon, par le P. Fr. de Charlevoix, Paris, 1754, 6 vols. Memorials of the Empire of Japon, by T. Rundall, London, Hakluyt Society, 1850. 6 Chinese Repository, pp. 460, 553; 7 ib. p. 217. Diary of Richard Cock, 1615-1622, by E. M. Thompson, London, 1883. Letters of William Adams, 1611-1617, reprinted from Hakluyt Society, Yokohama, 1878. Extracts from Cock and Adams will be found in RundalPs Memorials above cited. As to Adams, Chamberlain's Things Japanese, 13.


With one of the earliest Portuguese ships came the great missionary apostle of the Jesuits, Francis Xavier, who landed at Kagoshima in 1549. He was kindly received, and during his short sojourn his labors were attended with wonderful success. Other laborers followed, and the toleration was so complete that in a few years the Christians numbered hundreds of thousands, and within fifty years it was estimated that they had increased to nearly two million adherents. 1 Among them were found princes, generals, and the flower of the nobility. Both in regard to religion and commerce it may be said that the government of Japan at that period exhibited more liberality to the nations of Europe than the latter exhibited to each other. Velasco, the governor-general of the Philippines, in an account of a visit which he made to the country in 1608, relates an anecdote of the Shogun, who was urged by the Buddhist priests to suppress the Christians. "How many sects may there be in Japan?" he asked. "Thirty-five" was the reply, referring to the many Buddhist sects. "Well," he said, "we can easily bear with thirty-six." 2

In 1582 three of the nobility, representing as many of the Christian princes, attended by a suite befitting their station, made a visit to Rome to pay their respects to the head of the Catholic Church. They were received with distinguished attention by the crowned heads and people in their journey through Portugal, Spain, and

1 Memorials of Japon, Hakluyt Society, preface, v.; The United States and Japan, by I. Nittobe, Baltimore, 1891, p. 10.

2 Memorials of Japon, 184.


the various states of Italy. They were welcomed with all possible pomp and ceremony by the aged Pope, who at the close of the audience pronounced the words of Simeon: Nunc dimittis. Throughout Catholic Europe their visit was accepted as the assurance that Japan was soon to become a Christian nation. They reached Nagasaki in 1590, after an absence of eight years. They were received in audience by the Shogun and told their marvelous story. It was anticipated that it would have a favorable effect on the government, but events were taking place which were to bring about other results. 1

For forty years the Catholic missionaries were freely permitted to carry on their propaganda, and the native Christians enjoyed the same treatment by the authorties as the Buddhists. In 1587 the first indication of trouble with the government arose, when the Shogun dispatched commissioners to make investigations of charges brought against the Christians. These commissioners reported that they were overzealous in pressing their faith on the people, that they had destroyed national temples, insulted and ridiculed the Buddhist priests and assaulted their monasteries, and that Christian traders were carrying away the natives into slavery. Based upon this report, the Shogun issued an edict expelling the priests, but exempting the traders so long as they observed the laws of the empire. But the order was not generally put into force, and the missionaries were able to evade it.

1 Histoire du Japon, Charlevoix. An account of the embassy based upon Charlevoix will be found in 8 Chinese Repository, 273.


The country was filled with friars of various orders; their conduct and habits were not always exemplary, and they were not politic in making prominent their devotion to the Pope. Their claim of a superior obedience to a foreign potentate and the visit of the Japanese embassy to Rome alarmed the imperial authorities, and orders were issued for a strict enforcement of the edict. This caused a rebellion of the native Christians, which was with great difficulty suppressed. Incensed at these events, the Shogun issued a second edict in 1637, expelling, not only the missionaries, but all foreigners, prohibiting their entrance into the country, and forbidding the Japanese to go abroad. In the language of the Dutch historian of the period, "Japan was shut up." By 1639 not a single Portuguese or Spaniard merchant or missionary remained in the country, and it was supposed that every native Christian had recanted or been slaughtered. Only the Dutch, not of the "evil sect," were permitted to remain, and they were confined to the little island of Deshima in the harbor of Nagasaki. Thenceforward for more than/ two centuries the liberal policy of foreign intercourse was reversed, and only through this small Dutch factory did the Japanese government and people communicate with the outside world. 1

Merchants of all nationalities for a century had found

1 1 History of Japan, Kaempfer, passim; 3 Histoire du Japon, Charlevoix; Letters of William Adams. A full discussion of the accounts of the persecution, by Kaempfer (Protestant) and Charlevoix (Catholic), will be found in the preface to Memorials of Japan, already cited. The Mikado's Empire, by W. E. Griffis, New York, 1876, pp. 248-259.


a free and open market, and the ports of Japan had furnished a friendly harbor for all vessels. The market had been not only free but very remunerative, as one hundred per cent, profit was not an unusual return. 1 The testimony of all writers of the period is that the Japanese in their intercourse with foreigners were distinguished for high-bred courtesy, combined with refined liberality and generous hospitality. On the other hand, the merchants and mariners with whom they came in contact were usually of bad manners and morals, overreaching, avaricious, and cruel; the missionaries were often arrogant, ambitious, and without proper respect for native customs; and the naval and other officials of foreign governments were haughty, actuated by a spirit of aggression, and unmindful of the comity of nations. The history of the time shows that the policy of exclusion adopted by Japan in the seventeenth century was not inherent in the constitution of the state or the character of the people, but that it was adopted in consequence of the unfavorable character of the relations with Europeans.

It will be of interest to note the conditions under which the limited intercourse with the Dutch factory was carried on. The island of Deshima, artificially built in the harbor of Nagasaki, six hundred feet long and two hundred and forty feet wide, was surrounded by a high stone wall, which permitted only a distant view to its inmates. It was connected with the mainland by a stone bridge guarded by Japanese police and had only one other outlet, the sea gate. Both of these gates were

1 Memorials of Japon, p. iv.; Chamberlain's Things Japanese, 296.


closed and guarded by night. In this veritable prison eleven Dutchmen were permitted to reside. They were occasionally allowed to pass beyond its walls for exercise, but only on written application to the governor of the province twenty-four hours in advance, and then always accompanied by a numerous police retinue. Owing to the bitter hostility of the Dutch to the Catholic missionaries and merchants, the Japanese supposed that the Christians worshiped two Christs, and when it was found that both sects acknowledged the same God, the Dutch at Deshima were prohibited from observing the Sabbath and were carefully to abstain from any manifestation of their faith. The Japanese assistants and servants employed by them were not permitted to remain on the island overnight; and before entering on their duties they were obliged to sign, with their blood, an oath to contract no friendship with the Dutch, to afford them no information, and have no communication with them except in their recognized functions. No persons except these employees and government officials were ever admitted to the island. 1

Two Dutch vessels annually were permitted to come to the factory, but under the strictest surveillance. The cargoes when landed were delivered to Japanese authorities, who sold the imported merchandise, fixed the price on the goods to be exported, and gave in their unchecked accounts to the Dutch president of the factory. The trade thus carried on was comparatively

1 A similar establishment was allowed certain Chinese merchants in another quarter of the harbor of Nagasaki. For account of Chinese trade, 9 Chinese Repository, 378.


insignificant. The total value of the two cargoes was estimated not to exceed 70,000, and the profits must have been small after the presents, tribute and fees were deducted. When the ships were ready to sail on their return voyage the president had to wait upon the governor of the province in formal audience to obtain permission, at which time he was required to sign a document that they would neither bring in nor hold any intercourse with the Portuguese and would advise the authorities of any hostile designs against Japan which came to their knowledge.

No direct intercourse was held with the government of the Netherlands, except through the Dutch East India Company at Batavia. On the arrival of each ship presents had to be given to the governor of the province; and a visit and tribute paid to the Shogun at his capital, Yedo, at first every year, but during the last century the visit was made once in four years, though the tribute continued to be sent annually. The Japanese nobility and higher authorities affected a great contempt for trade, and it was their practice to hold no direct intercourse with the Dutch officials. Though many of the factory presidents familiarized themselves with the language, they never could address the higher authorities directly. In his intercourse with the president the governor spoke to his secretary, the secretary repeated his words to the interpreter (a Japanese), and the latter translated it to the president; and the president's answer came back through the same current of communication.

The visit of ceremony of the president of the factory


to the Shogun was made in great state. Two other Dutchmen and a number of Japanese officials accompanied him, and the entire retinue consisted of about two hundred persons. They visited on their journey the local princes, with whom they exchanged presents. On the arrival of the embassy at Yedo they were kept in strict confinement, and permitted to go out only on visits of ceremony. The audience of the Shogun was in the following form. When the president entered the hall of audience, they cried out, "Holanda Capitan," which was the signal for him to draw near and make his obeisance. Accordingly, he crawled on his hands and knees to a place indicated, between the presents he had brought ranged on one side and the place where the Shogun sat on the other; and then, kneeling, he bowed his forehead quite down to the ground, and so crawled backwards like a crab, without uttering a single word. The stillness of death prevailed during the audience, which lasted scarcely sixty seconds. The Dutch chronicler's comment is: "So mean and short a thing is the audience we have of this mighty monarch." Although cut off from the outside world, Japanese commerce did not languish. Kaempfer, writing in 1692, says that confined within the limits of their empire the people enjoyed the blessings of peace and contentment, and did not care for any commerce or communication with foreign parts, because such was the state of their country they could subsist without it.

1 1 History of Japan, Kaempfer. An account of the Dutch factory at Deshima, taken from Kaempfer and other Dutch and German authorities, will be found in 9 Chinese Repository, 291.


"How much," he remarks, "is carried on between the several provinces and parts of the empire! How busy and industrious the merchants are everywhere; how full their ports of ships; how many rich and mercantile towns up and down the country! There are such multitudes of people along the coasts, and near the seaports, such a noise of oars and sails, and numbers of ships and boats!" One of the presidents of the Dutch factory, in giving an account of his visit to the Shogun, states that there were as many as a thousand vessels in the bay of Yedo.

The measures of exclusion adopted had the effect to deter the European nations from further attempts at intercourse, either commercial or political, with Japan, but not so as to China. The trade of that vast empire was greatly coveted, and the profits which were derived from the limited commerce through Canton, even with its burdensome conditions, only whetted the appetite of the avaricious merchants for greater facilities. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries repeated attempts were made by the governments of Portugal, Holland, Great Britain, and Russia, by imposing embassies sent to Peking, to secure greater trade privileges. The embassies of the first three governments were invariably attended with failure. 1 Russia, however, occupied a different relation. She was not seeking for maritime intercourse. Her vessels of war did not come into Chinese waters to awaken alarm and commit out as to Portuguese embassies, 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 129, 137, 139; as to Dutch embassies, 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 152, 159; as to early European embassies, China, by R. Montgomery 'Martini London, 1847, p. 257.


rages. Her commerce had to be established over a long land route. Besides, Russia had become a coterminous neighbor of China, and it was necessary to establish some kind of political relations. By 1637 the Cossacks had advanced across Siberia and stood on the shores of the Pacific at the Sea of Okhotsk. The Amur River had become a part of the boundary, and Mongolia and Manchuria touched the Russian frontier. The aggressive spirit of the Czar's representatives soon brought them into conflict with the Chinese, resulting in a state of war, in which the Russians were worsted and sought for a peaceful adjustment. This brought about the treaty of Nipchu or Neverchinsk, signed in 1689; and as it was the first treaty negotiated by the emperor of China upon terms of equality with a European power, it calls for more than a passing notice.

The negotiations took place on the frontier, and in the presence of the armies of both contestants. The Chinese plenipotentiaries were accompanied by two Catholic missionaries, who acted both as advisers and interpreters, and exercised an important influence on the result. The negotiations were quite prolonged, each party indulging in very wordy discussions. The final scene of the signature of the treaty was enacted in a tent erected for the ceremony, midway between the two armies. The treaty was read aloud, and each party signed and sealed the two copies that were to be delivered to the other, viz., by the Chinese, one in their own language, and a second in Latin; by the Russians, one in their language, and a second in Latin; but the Latin copies only were sealed with the seals of both


nations. The contracting parties, as described by the priest Gerbillon, then "rising altogether and holding each the copies of the treaty of peace, swore in the name of their masters to observe them faithfully, taking Almighty God, the sovereign Lord of all things, to witness the sincerity of their intentions." The exchange of copies of the treaty followed, and the parties embraced each other, trumpets, drums, fifes, and hautboys sounding all the while. On the next day presents were exchanged and the plenipotentiaries separated, bearing their respective copies of the treaties to their sovereigns.

The treaty fixed the boundaries of the two countries, Russia agreed to withdraw from the Chinese territory which it had occupied for some years, free trade across the frontier was stipulated, and provision was made for the extradition of criminals and fugitives. The Chinese emperor then reigning was Kang-he, one of the most celebrated of the Manchu dynasty. He took great credit to himself for the treaty, saying of his reign, "Since I ascended the throne I have directed military operations to a great extent. I have crushed rebels, I have taken possession of Formosa, I have humbled the Russians."

The exchange of ratifications of this treaty did not take place till four years after its signature, when Peter the Great sent an envoy to Peking attended by a large

1 Description de 1'Empire de la Chine, etc., par J. B. du Halde, 1735. For text of treaty, Treaties, Conventions, etc., between China and Foreign Courts, prepared by Inspector-General of Customs, Shanghai, 1887, p. 3; also Archives Diplomatiques, Paris, t. i. p. 270; 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 247; 8 Chinese Repository, 417.


retinue, and a year and a half were required for the journey. 1 The treaty of 1689 did not secure satisfactory results, and in 1719 another ambassador, Ismailoff, was sent to Peking to secure by treaty better trade facilities. When his train reached the frontier a curious incident occurred illustrative of an oriental peculiarity. Some of the Russians had brought their wives with them. "We have women enough at Peking," the Chinese official said. Appeal was made to the emperor, many weeks were lost, and at the end the women had to be sent back. The same exclusion was observed at Canton, where no European women were admitted even to the foreign factories until just previous to the British war of 1840. A similar rule was enforced by the Japanese at the Dutch factory at Deshima. It is recorded that in the year 1817 a new president of the factory arrived, bringing with him his young wife and their new-born babe; and that it threw the whole town of Nagasaki population, government, and all into consternation. It was made the subject of a court council at Yedo, and the young wife was forced to return to Holland. 2

On his arrival at Peking, Ismailoff was notified that he could transact no business until after his audience

1 From Moscow Overland to China, by E. Y. Ides, Ambassador from the Czar of Muscovy, translated into English, London, 1706; Journal of Russian Embassy Overland to Peking, by Adam Brand, Secretary of the Embassy, 1698; 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 248; 8 Chinese Repository, 520.

2 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 251; 9 Chinese Repository, 297; Narrative of Voyages, A. Delano, Boston, 1817, p. 540; A Cycle of Cathay, by W. A. P. Martin, New York, 1896, p. 20.


of the emperor, at which he must perform the obeisance known as the kotou or kowtow. To this he strongly objected, as derogatory of the dignity of his sovereign, and protracted discussions followed, but in the end he was forced to yield. A detailed account of his reception is given by Father Bipa, a Catholic missionary, who acted as interpreter. After describing the emperor and the gorgeous display with which he was surrounded, he says Count Ismailoff on entering the hall immediately prostrated himself before the emperor, holding up the Czar's letter with both hands. His majesty "now thought proper to mortify him by making him remain some time in this particular posture. The proud Russian was indignant at this treatment, and gave unequivocal signs of resentment by certain motions of his mouth and by turning his head aside, which, under the circumstances, was very unseemly." The emperor, however, soon relieved him from his embarrassment, received the letter from him on his knees, and held some conversation with him. The narrative states that "after the presentation of the letter the ambassador, attended by the master of ceremonies, returned to his former place in the open vestibule; and behind him stood his principal attendants. When all were marshaled, at particular signals given by the master of ceremonies, they all went down on their knees, and, after the lapse of a few minutes, bent their heads thrice to the ground. After this all arose upon their feet, then again kneeled down and prostrated themselves three times. In this manner they kneeled thrice, and performed nine prostrations."


After all this abasement the ambassador was refused his treaty, but assurances were given that the caravan trade should be allowed, and that his secretary might remain at Peking as a permanent charge. But obstacles continued to be thrown in the way of trade by the Chinese authorities, and another embassy had soon to be sent to Peking. 1

In 1727 a new treaty was made between the two empires, which reestablished the boundaries, fixed more accurately the trade relations, and provided for a permanent ecclesiastical mission. Caravans were to be dispatched every three years, and six priests and four i lay members were permitted to remain at Peking to learn the language, thus furnishing interpreters and secretaries for the Russian government. This treaty * continued in force for more than a century, and was I only displaced by the treaty of 1858. Under it a limited trade was maintained, the traffic being mainly the exchange of furs for tea. But that was of an unsatisfactory character, being subject to frequent impediments on the part of the Chinese government. The acquisitive spirit of Russia also caused trouble on the border, and the Czar dispatched successive envoys to Peking to negotiate in respect to these matters, but they were either turned back at the frontier for refusal to make the prostrations, or failed to effect anything at the capital. An attempt was made in 1806 to open a trade at Canton by Captain Krusenstern of the

1 Travels of John Bell of Antermony, 1763; Father Ripa's Residence at the Court of Peking (Extract in U. S. Foreign Relations, 1873, p. 163); 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 250.


Russian navy, but he was refused, the edict being that the trade of that nation should be confined to the overland traffic. 1

The commercial supremacy of Great Britain was becoming more pronounced throughout the world during the eighteenth century, and English merchants under the East India Company were enjoying the greater share of the Chinese trade allowed through Canton, but it was conducted under the most embarrassing conditions. For this reason it was resolved that a special effort should be made at Peking to secure for British commerce freer facilities in the empire. Lord Macartney, governor-general of India, a nobleman of considerable diplomatic experience, was chosen as the head of an embassy, which was notable for its personnel and the display with which it was sought to impress the Chinese government and people. It was dispatched in a man-of-war, accompanied by two ships laden with merchandise for barter. The embassy disembarked at Tientsin, and ascended the Peiho in boats, from which the Chinese displayed flags bearing the words, "Ambassador bearing tribute from the country of England." 2 As it passed overland from Tung-chau to Peking it presented a most striking appearance. The ambassador, his secretary, and other officers of his suite were carried in palanquins, they were followed by sixty carts conveying the escort of British soldiers and servants, with a much larger train for the private baggage,

1 For text of treaty of 1727, Treaties, Conventions, etc., of China, Shanghai, 1887, p. 8; 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 257-264. 3 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 195; Staunton's Embassy, 306.


and four hundred coolies, employed to transport the effects of the embassy and the presents to the emperor and high officials. 1

It was received with the highest marks of distinction by the Chinese authorities; but when Lord Macartney met the emperor's representatives to ask for an audience, he was told that he would be required to make the prostrations observed at all ceremonies attending the audience of tribute-bearers. Much time was taken up in the discussions on this point, but finally it was agreed that the ambassador should be received by the emperor kneeling only as he delivered the king's letter. The emperor was at Jehol, an imperial hunting lodge some distance north of the Great Wall, and thither the embassy had to wend its way. When the audience was over, Lord Macartney was told that the business of his mission would be discussed with the emperor's ministers on his return to Peking. But he had scarcely arrived at the capital when he was ordered to depart and quit the country. No opportunity was afforded him to dispatch or even to discuss the business which had brought him on this long and expensive journey, and the entire embassy had been kept constantly under close surveillance during its stay. The departure was effected almost with precipitation. The author of one of the narratives of the embassy writes: "We entered Peking like paupers; we remained in it like prisoners; and we quitted it like vagrants." 2 The return journey was made overland to Canton, attended by high mandarins and a display of

1 Narrative of British Embassy, Anderson, Philadelphia, 1795, p. 128.

2 Ib. 237.


Chinese etiquette all along the route. It is said that the expenditures of the imperial government alone for the entertainment of the embassy amounted to ^SSO^OOO. 1

One of the principal objects of the mission was to obtain the privilege to trade at Ningpo, Chusan, Tientsin, and other ports besides Canton. So far from granting this permission, no conference respecting it was held; but the emperor, in his letter of reply to the one from the king of England handed him by Lord Macartney, stated that the trade must be confined to the port of Canton. He adds: "You will not be able to complain that I had not clearly forewarned you. Let us therefore live in peace and friendship, and do not make light of my words." Notwithstanding this rebuff, the king of England sent return presents to the emperor in 1795, which were received at Canton and transferred overland to Peking, and it was recorded that tribute had been sent by the king of England to the "Son of Heaven." It is said that the English were henceforth registered among the nations who had sent tribute-bearers, and that the embassy was regarded by the Chinese as one of the most splendid testimonials of respect that a tributary nation had ever paid their court. 2

The embarrassments to British trade at Canton did not cease; and the English government, not discouraged by the ill success of its last embassy, resolved to dispatch a second one, in the hope of securing the establishment of a permanent mission at Peking and the

1 Travels in China, by John Barrow, London, 1804.

2 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 194; 1 The Chinese, Davis, pp. 76-79; History of China, Williams, 102; Letter from the Emperor of China to King George III., Nineteenth Century, July, 1896, p. 45.


opening of other ports to trade. In 1815 a British man-of-war with two consorts arrived off Tientsin, having on board Lord Amherst, governor-general of India, an able corps of assistants, and a numerous suite. They were received in great state en route, and escorted to Peking. On his arrival there Lord Amherst was informed that he must perform the kotou. This he refused to do, pleading the precedent of Lord Macartney's visit, but to no purpose. The Chinese were obdurate, and he returned to his man-of-war, and sailed away without seeing the emperor or discussing his business with the imperial ministers. 1

This ended the efforts of Great Britain to establish diplomatic relations with China until an accumulation of causes brought the two nations into armed conflict, and marked the first step in the forcible opening of the great empire to intercourse with the outside world. It was the aggressive spirit and the violent conduct of the European nations which led the Chinese to close their ports against foreign commerce, and, after two centuries of seclusion, it was a like influence of aggression and violence on the part of the same nations which was destined to compel the Chinese to reverse their policy and again to open their ports to the world. The first act of the drama was played before the United States had an existence. It will be our task to study the part which the young republic has taken in the second act.

1 Journal of Embassy to China, by Henry Ellis, London, 1817; 2 Hist. China, Gutzlaff, 207; 1 The Chinese, Davis, 95.