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years-Robert Hart remained the devoted and loyal employee of the government of China. It is interesting to recall here what Miss Juliet Bredon points out in her book The Romance of a Great Career (written while its subject was still living): In accepting his resignation from the consular service in 1859 the British government cautioned young Hart that should he once leave its employ it would be vain for him to petition to reenter it, if he should subsequently desire to do so. Twenty-six years later the position was reversed when that government of its own accord offered to Sir Robert Hart the post of envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Peking!
In May, 1861, Mr. Lay went to England on leave of absence, and Hart was promoted to fill his place as acting inspector general. Mr. Fitzroy, the commissioner of customs at Shanghai, was to act conjointly with Hart, but as he was unacquainted with the Chinese language, the leadership fell inevitably into Hart's hands. The first thing to be done was to open customs offices according to the new model at those other treaty ports in which the old purely Chinese system had hitherto remained unchanged. Canton had been reformed in 1859, as I have already said; and in 1860 the new form of office had been opened also at Swatowthe only one that year. Meanwhile the allies (British and French) were invading north China, taking Peking, and completing by a supplementary treaty there the re-adjustment of their relations with China, which they mistakenly supposed they had finally accomplished two years before. After 1860 a long peace ensued with improved mutual understanding. The foreign legations now established at the capital began by turning over a new leaf and taking a conciliatory, sympathetic, helpful, friendly attitude towards the Chinese government. The ministers, Bruce and Burlingame, maintained this policy with all their influence. China had had castigation enough; let her now practice the new lesson; grant her time to recuperate and patiently help her to accept and get used to the new conditions to recover from the violent wrench away from many time honored but evil traditions and methods to which she had been so harshly subjected.
It was to be an era of good feeling, of leading, of hope, of economic revival. Now France and Britain even aided the imperial government in suppressing the Taipings in the region of Shanghai, Soochow and Nanking; and most justly too, for the "coolie Kings" had sunk to the level of bandits and plunderers, and had quite forfeited the first expectations of a pure and honest regime for the peasantry of the Middle Kingdom. With Ward and Gordon as their lieutenants, and enjoying too the open sympathy of the British and French commanders in China, the leaders of the imperialist armies, Tseng and Li, restored the authority of the government between 1861 and 1863; and the great rebellion ended in July, 1864, with the recovery of Nanking, the Taipings' last stronghold. Hart fully shared the aims of all these leaders; he coöperated with them in the purpose of a pacific and patient re-construction; he aided actively in persuading Gordon to take the field again after he had withdrawn in disgust when the rebel chiefs were executed at Soochow; and most of all he threw himself earnestly into his own special task of creating in the mixed (foreign and Chinese) service now to be developed an institution which China should perceive made for stability of government, encouragement of trade, increase of financial resources, and good will between native and foreigner. Early in 1861 the new customs institutions were opened at Chinkiang, Ningpo and Tientsin. The same year Hart opened offices at Foochow, and also at Hankow and Kiukiang on the Yangtsze. In 1862 he opened Amoy; in 1863 Chefoo and two ports in Formosa, and lastly Newchwang (in Manchuria) in 1864. The tale of open treaty ports for foreign trade was now complete, with a custom house of cosmopolitan personnel in Chinese pay at each place. What was done in these formative years was Hart's work. I ay was absent from China between May, 1861 and May, 1863; and when he returned he remained only a few months. He was dismissed in November in consequence of the Lay-Osborn fleet dispute. He represented a dictatorial era which had expired, and even his own legation did not regret his departure.
With his head office established in Peking, Hart threw
himself unsparingly into the task of developing and perfecting the service but recently planted at the 14 ports of trade. He set himself to improving on the personnel engaged at the outset, educating all concerned to a better knowledge of their work, raising the general morale, and unifying the methods of procedure at the custom houses. The foreigners (by which term is meant Europeans and Americans) first employed had in some instances been emergency men picked up locally haphazard; some were even adventurers; some were too old to learn new duties, and to acquire the Chinese language; and a few were inferior socially and in education to the other foreigners about them occupied in commerce or in official life. A service thus partly manned with inferior material was regarded with disdain by the public, and Hart at once took steps to change all this. He sent to Europe and to America and secured young men of good birth and university education; these men he trained; he required them to learn Chinese; and he exacted absolute accuracy and efficiency in their office routine. Men who satisfied him he advanced rapidly in those early days, so that within half a dozen years the customs employees rose to a footing of social equality or even better-with the men about them. At the same time Hart was unfailingly considerate in his treatment of deserving employees who could not attain to his standard for the highest posts. None were discharged because they were old; and to those of mediocre capacity were assigned posts where the work was what they were competent to do.
The service was cosmopolitan; its strength lay partly in the fact that subjects of all the great powers were distributed through every grade. For example, in the custom house at Foochow, when under my charge some years ago, the commissioner was American, his senior deputy was French, and in the successive junior ranks were Germans, Scandinavians, British and Japanese. Of course, in every office by far the largest number of employees were Chinese. The official languages were English and Chinese; in a few departments only one of these, while in most departments, e.g., duty accounts and returns, statistics, expenditures, published
reports on the trade, correspondence, etc., both English and Chinese were used. There was no fixed proportion of employees determined for each nationality, but the patronage was based roughly on each country's commercial interest in the China trade. Britain had the largest share; America, Germany and France came next; and the service contained a lesser number of Danes, Italians, Japanese, Russians, etc. In the highest appointments, called commissionerships, and deputy commissionerships, of which there were in the sixties some 20 and 12 respectively, nearly all these nationalities were represented, though not in equal proportion; in 1907 when the number of commissioners and deputy commissioners had risen, with the increased number of treaty or open ports, to so many as 37 and 25 respectively these posts were thus distributed, viz., Of the 62 commissioners and deputy commissioners, 37 were British, 5 were American, 5 were French, 5 were German, 3 were Russian, 1 was Danish, 1 was Japanese, 1 was Italian, 1 was Dutch, 1 was Belgian, and 2 were Norwegian.
Hart never lost sight of the practical fact that the service must be cosmopolitan, and that there could be no favoritism as towards one nation or another. He was obliged to satisfy the Chinese foreign office whose authority was the only superior he must recognize that his selection of men, and distribution of appointments were just and could withstand the possible complaint or displeasure of each and every Legation. The Chinese foreign office gave Hart absolute control of the service; he would brook no interference with his power and responsibility. The foreign ministers sometimes tried to interfere, or sometimes complained; certainly this happened in an exasperating form in the early years of Hart's career, before his prestige had been established-when it was hard for him to maintain his ground. But as time went on his confidence and authority grew greater; and while he had always to be circumspect and to have sound reasons for his selections and promotions, he took his own way and the foreign ministers preferred to leave these things to his fairness and judgment. It is true to say that in his official acts, and from his official viewpoint Hart was first and fore
most a Chinese official, second cosmopolitan, and never partial towards his own nationality. Nor do I think that with the vast patronage which he exercised-was compelled to exercise for nearly fifty years, he was ever influenced against, or in favor of a man by prejudice due to nationality. The organizing work done by Hart in the decades of the sixties and seventies was as immense in amount and importance as it was varied in nature. And then, as subsequently, Before 1864, i.e., while he
he did most of it himself alone. was instituting the offices from Canton in the south to Newchwang in the north, he visited in person the places concerned, became acquainted with his men-chiefs and juniors-and arranged matters by personal interviews with the local Chinese officials. These officials naturally had but a dim comprehension of his purposes, or of their correct relation to the new "foreign" customs, as they termed it; while they were amply equipped with anti-foreign distrust, far from unwarranted. Hart had to meet and overcome this feeling, as best he might; and he had also to impress upon his European staffs and their native territorial colleagues what their relative powers, duties, and responsibilities were, and what mutual relations they would be expected to cultivate. Indeed, he had to depend on his own thinking and foreseeing brain for his plans and opinions, and then to teach subordinates to act accordingly. Before him at the outset was only a clean slate a new institution of vast potential development to be reared, its future uncertain and himself alone the architect. But he had imagination, confidence, vison,and he went forward, seldom hesitating or looking back.
In 1864 he made Peking his permanent headquarters, directing and organising the distant offices by correspondence from the capital, while in close personal touch with the Chinese foreign office and with the legations. The new system, not obstructive to trade, but managed simply and without corruption, brought in a yearly growing revenue which in amount surprised as well as rejoiced the Peking exchecquer,
and made the service and its head persona grata with the central government, however inwardly ill-disposed were the native local officials at the ports, whose time-honored "rake