Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/111

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Bruce
Bruce
105

rewarding rebels for rebellion, and on the occasion of the governor-general giving his assent to it, his carriage, as he left the House of Parliament, was pelted with stones, and the House of Parliament was burnt to the ground. A few days later, on his going into Montreal to receive an address which had been passed by the House of Assembly condemning the recent outrages and expressing confidence in his administration, he was again attacked by the mob, some of his staff were struck by stones, and it was only by rapid driving that he escaped unhurt. The result of these disturbances was that Montreal was abandoned as the seat of government, and for some years the sittings of the legislature were held alternately at Toronto and Quebec. Later on the situation was embarrassed by a cry for annexation to the United States, caused mainly by the commercial depression consequent upon free trade and the absence of a reciprocity treaty with the States. The latter was at last conc uded in 1854, after negotiations conducted by Elgin in person. Another source of considerable anxiety at this period was the practice in vogue among certain English statesmen of denouncing the colonies as a needless burden upon the mother country. But all these difficulties were radually overcome, and when Elgin relinquished the government at the end of 1854, it was generally recognised that his administration had been a complete success.

For two years after leaving Canada Elgin abstained from taking any active part in public affairs. On the breaking up of Lord Aberdeen's government in the spring of 1855, he was offered by Lord Palmerston the chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster with a seat in the cabinet ; but wishing to maintain an independent position in parliament, while according a general support to the government of the day, he declined the offer.

In 1857, on differences arising with China in connection with the seizure of the lorcha Arrow, Elgin was sent as envoy to China. On reaching Singapore he was met by letters from Lord Canning informing him of the spread of the Indian mutiny, and urging him to send troops to Calcutta from the force which was to accompany him to China. With this requisition he at once complied, sending in fact the whole of the force, but he proceeded himself to Hongkong in the expectation that the troops would speedily follow. Finding that this expectation was not likely to be fulfilled, and that the French ambassador, who was to be associated with him in his mission, had been delayed, he re ired to Calcutta in H.M.S. Shannon, whicgahe left with Lord Canning for the protection of that city. Later in the year he returned to China, fresh troops having been sent out to replace those which had been diverted to India. Canton was speedily taken, and some months later a treaty was made at Tientsin, providing among other matters for the appointment of a British minister, for additional facilities for British trade, for protection to protestants and to Roman catholics, and for a war indemnity. He subsequently proceeded to Japan, where he made a treaty with the governmeut of that country, under which certain ports were opened to British trade, and foreigners were admitted into the country.

On his return to England in the spring of 1859 Elgin was again otfered ofiice by Lord Palmerston, and accepted that of postmaster-general. He was elected lord rector of Glasgow University, and received the freedom of the city of London. In the following year he was again sent to China, the emperor having failed to ratify the treaty of Tientsin, and committed other unfriendly acts. On the voyage out the steamer in which Elgin was a passenger was wrecked in Galle harbour. The mission was not accomplished without fighting. The military opposition was slight, but the Chinese resorted to treachery, and after having, as was supposed, accepted the terms offered by the two envoys (Baron Gros, on the part of the French, was again associated with Elgin), carried off some officers and soldiers whom Elgin had sent with a letter to the Chinese plenipotentiary, and also the ‘Times' correspondent, Mr. Bowlby [q.v.] who had accompanied them. The latter and one or two other members of thc party were murdered. In retribution for this treacherous act, the summer palace, the favourite residence of the emperor at Pekin, was destroyed. A few days later the treaty of Tientsin was formally ratified, and a convention was concluded, containing certain additional stipulations favourable to the British government. Visiting Java on his voyage home, Elgin returned to England on ll April 1861, after an absence of about a year.

Elgin had hardly been a month in England when he was offered the appointment of viceroy and governor-general of India, which Lord Canning was about to vacate. It was the last public situation which he was destined to fill, and he appears to have accepted it with some forebodings. In a speech which he made to his neighbours at Dunfermline shortly before his departure, hc observed that ‘the vast amount of labour devolving upon the governor-general of India, the insalubrity of the climate, and the advance of years, all tended to render the prospect of their again meeting remote and uncertain.’