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India, including that of China, was opened to private adventurers. The functions of the Board of Directors were thenceforth limited to the administration of the vast territory under their charge, including the distribution of its affluent patronage. That they should, as subjects of Britain, be permitted to rule such a territory without control would be at variance with the principles of the British Constitution by establishing a power which might rival that of the imperial government. Accordingly the mutual adjustment of the privileges of the Company and the power of the crown was a matter of delicate and difficult settlement. The "Board of Control," with a certain defined power of checking the proceedings of the Court of Directors, became a recognized branch of the imperial government, the president becoming a high officer of state. While separate presidencies were under the immediate executive authority of local governors, the governor-general, assisted by the Supreme Council, had the general superintendence and control over the territories of British India. Though the governors were named by the Court of Directors, the functions of the Board of Control placed the choice virtually in the crown or the ministry of the day. The Company, though it thus had not the absolute appointment of the governors of India, was entitled to recall them, and the Court of Directors exercised this power in a very conspicuous manner.
About the year 1837, some alarm for the safety of the British Eastern empire was created by the intrigues of Russia. Persia showed a hostile temper, while her army, as if prepared for invasion, was officered by Russians, and Russian diplomatic agents were at work in the small states of Central Asia. The mountainous territory of Afghanistan -the Switzerland of Asia-which had become an important state since the decline of the Mogul empire, appeared to be the natural barrier between British India and Persia, or a Russian force approaching in that direction.
It was suggested therefore that the policy of the Indian government was to secure the friendship and co-operation of Afghanistan. Dost Mahomet, khan of Cabul, aided by his brother the chief of Candahar, was virtually the supreme ruler. Overtures of alliance were made to him, but the result was not satisfactory, and the British authorities resolved to aid his
deposed rival Shah Shujah to regain the throne. A force of nearly 30,000 men, called the Army of the Indus, under the command of Sir John Keane, marched through the Bolan and Kojuck passes to Candahar. There in May, 1839, Shah Shujah was solemnly restored to his throne without opposition. The fort of Ghuznee was stormed, and Cabul taken. The Army of the Indus deeming its task finished returned, leaving behind it a force of 8,000 men to aid the new monarch against the somewhat turbulent chiefs, who but partially owned his sway. The arrangement had all the appearance of being eminently satisfactory; but it has been said that the British authorities should have remembered that their easy acquisition of authority in other parts of India was owing to the docility of the natives, who sought British intervention and rule as a protection from invaders of a more oppressive kind, while Afghanistan was inhabited by hardy mountain warriors jealous of interference. Matters seemed quiet until November, 1841, when a sudden insurrection broke out at Cabul, in which Sir Alexander Burnes was killed. In a conference with Akbar Khan, the son of Dost Mahomet, Sir William Macnachtan, the British representative, and other officers, were murdered. It was now clear that the Afghans were determined to exterminate the British force. The leaders should have known that with tribes treacherous by principle, their only resource was a desperate defence; but they made the mistake of treating for permission to retreat on Jellalabad, where General Sale held out. The result was, that in a winter march through the snow they were attacked and slaughtered in the Khyber pass, and of more than 4,000 men, one only reached Jellalabad to tell their fate. The details of this ghastly event will be found in England.
Extreme anxiety was entertained for the fate of the prisoners, several of them ladies, and there was a universal feeling, not only in British India but at home, that however unwisely the Afghan expedition had been undertaken, there was now but one course for Britain-to assert her power by an overwhelming force, protect the captives, and punish the treacherous savages. While General Nott advanced from Candahar, a force marched under General Pollock to Jellalabad, still defended by Sale. The Afghans were attacked and beaten in the scene of their butchery, and Nott. and Pollock
entered Cabul triumphant. The captives had been in the meantime removed towards Tartary, but were rescued by an advanced party, an event spreading joy far beyond the circle it immediately affected. The supremacy of the British arms asserted, forts destroyed, and punishments inflicted, it was wisely resolved not to occupy the territory.
Ere this war was ended another was commenced on the opposite side of Hindustan, and against a people totally different in character. All the intercourse with the Chinese had hitherto been conducted in the manner which the vanity and seclusion of that peculiar people dictated. The East India Company, tempted by the large profits of an exclusive trade, readily submitted to the etiquette which treated them as servile barbarians humbiy approaching the centre of the world to supplicate for participation in the fruits of its benignity. When the trade was opened and enlarged, it soon became clear that this fictitious homage would not be submitted to, and the British commerce, as it gradually increased, strengthened its position until it alarmed the recluse government of Pekin. The chief import trade was in opium, extensively produced in India, and largely consumed in China both as a medicinal and an intoxicating drug. On the profession that, by the simple and immediate act of cutting off the supply, all the demoralizing effects of opium smoking would be at once abolished, the Chinese government prohibited the importation of the drug. The prohibition was, however, only nominal. A pretty regular system of importation was established by the payment of fees or bribes. The commodity, however, being contraband, the holders, like all smugglers, would take payment only in bullion, not trusting to paper money, which might be affected by the character of the transaction. The government was consequently alarmed by the rapid drain of silver to pay for opium.
It was in these circumstances that Lin Tsih Sew, the imperial commissioner at Canton, engaged to put down the opium trade. In 1839, he ordered all the vessels containing opium to leave the Chinese coast. Captain Elliot, the British superintendent of trade, sanctioned this order by directing them in the meantime, and until the question was adjusted, to leave the Canton river. It is an absolute rule of Chinese character, that compliance always leads to
further exaction, and Lin, emboldened by the readiness thus shown, surrounded the quarter occupied by the British residents on the 2d of March with armed guards, and threatened to starve them to death if all the opium in the vessels on the coast were not given up. Captain Elliot extending to the owners a promise of indemnity, it was surrendered, and a mass worth from two to three million pounds was destroyed by the Chinese authorities. Nor could even this submission have purchased safety from the elated commissioner, had not a war vessel opportunely arrived for the rescue of the captives. Two war vessels now blockaded the port. A whole fleet of the heavy lumbering junks of the Chinese bore down on them to annihilate them, but were themselves blown to pieces. The local authorities soon saw how useless it was to contend with such a force, and a treaty was arranged, by which the British were to receive Hong Kong, and be paid an indemnity. The necessity for yielding was not, however, understood in the quiet seclusion of imperial Pekin, and when the British residents were preparing to adjust themselves to their position, they were awakened to a new sense of it, by finding that imperial instructions had reached Canton to put them all to death.
It was now resolved to act effectively. The Bogue forts, which the Chinese deemed impregnable, were battered to pieces; and a steamer of light draught scudded up the shallow waters impenetrable to Chinese vessels, scattering destruction wherever it found fortifications or armaments. At length a position was taken on the heights around Canton so effectively, that the town was entirely at the mercy of the British troops without the necessity of a siege. That soldiers could do mischief to a rich populous town utterly unprotected, was an anticipation within the reach of the Chinese mind, and a large ransom was paid, while the suspended trade was permitted to be resumed. Sir Henry Pottinger arrived, as plenipotentiary of the British government, on 10th August, and assuring the government of Canton that the truce would be observed on the British side so long as the Chinese abstained from hostilities, he made arrangements to strike effectively at the heart of the empire. Proceeding northward with a sea and land armament, Amoy, Ningpo, and other places of importance, were successively taken. The captures were easily made,
but they were attended by a distressing feature, in the number of lives lost by the Tartar troops in efforts which, if their knowledge of warfare had not been a century behind that of their invaders, they would have known to be utterly useless. In June, 1842, the fleet entered and commanded the great arterial system of communication by the ship canal. In the middle of August the troops had disembarked at Nankin, and were preparing to attack that great city, supposed to contain nearly half a million of people.
The capital and the imperial throne were now immediately threatened. Had there not been a speedy arrangement, indeed, the small British force would have found it necessary to be master of the central government of China, and Britain might have had to solve the perplexing question how to dispose of an empire ready organized, which would have given its obedience as implicitly to the mandates of a British governor-general as to those of a Tartar emperor. It is not known whether the whole question had now only for the first time come before the central government; but a genuine treaty was at last transacted with imperial commissioners before Nankin, and subsequently ratified. It stipulated for the payment of a sum of money to reimburse Britain for the expense of the war; but its most important provisions were the adjustment of a tariff on imports, and the opening of the ports of Canton, Amoy, Fuchau, Ningpo, and Shanghai, to foreign trade generally. Britain stipulated for no special trading privileges to herself. She acquired the island of Hong Kong-it was a burden, rather than a benefit, since she undertook to retain an establishment there to protect a trade, as much that of all the world as it was hers. By a less important stipulation, the Chinese authorities admitted their conquerors and other civilized governments to communicate with them on terms of equality.
The trade with China continued to prosper, and the peaceful relation of the empire with the trading nations have not been very materially disturbed. When the old emperor Taou-Kwang died, he was succeeded by his son Hienfung, who created a household revolution, dismissing the ministers of his father, who were supposed to have seen the necessity of some new spirit being infused into Chinese institutions. A wide insurrection was raised under a leader who, with the name or title
of Tien-teh, professed to represent the ancient Chinese dynasty of emperors. He has been spoken of as the supporter and propagator of a species of Christianity.
Returning to the territories now immediately connected with the British empire in the East, new contests are found arising out of the Afghan war. The territory of Scinde had been subject to peculiar observation and consideration, as occupying the path, as it were, from the properly British territories to the theatre of war. The country was governed by a body of Ameers or chiefs owning a sort of feudal allegiance to the East India Company. From the difficulty of trusting in critical circumstances to such a capricious body, it was proposed to treat with them for the absolute purchase of a line of territory suited to protect the passage of the Indus. They entered on and protracted the negotiation while they were arming to attack the few British who were among them, and having signed a treaty on February 12, 1843, within three days they ferociously attacked the small party of only one hundred men who protected the British residency. These were able to force a passage and join Sir Charles Napier at Hala. His force was inconsiderable-not 3,000 men, but trusting to their high discipline, he attacked and routed the Scinde army of 22,000 men at Meance. The Ameers immediately offered their submission; but it is the practice of such tribes never to keep terms while they can break them, and another battle was fought at Dubba ere they were subdued.
This contest was hardly at an end, ere a far more formidable enemy had to be encountered in the Punjaub, where indeed the ascendency of Britain in the East ran such a risk as it had never previously incurred since the subjection of Tippoo Saib. Runjeet Singh, the rajah of Lahore, had succeeded to a domain which his father had increased from a mere chiefship to a large territory. Like Frederick the Great of Prussia, he pursued on a greater scale his father's aggrandizing disposition, and in his old age ruled over a wide and affluent dominion, with an army of 70,000 picked men, besides other troops, disciplined by European officers, and abundantly possessed of the best modern arms. Runjeet Singh, a man of singular sagacity and ability, kept close to the British interest, and flourished by the connection. His death, which occurred in 1839, was fol