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without disguise of the discomfiture army belonging to one of the most of the Chinese armies. Gutzlaff's warlike nations in Christendom. account, by the way, is almost in spite of wars with neighbouring word for word identical with that States, the empire of Burma may given by the despised Burmese be said to have remained intact historian, excepting that he merely till the year 1824, when the arrocontents himself with recording gance of Burmese statesmen led that a treaty was made, without them to invade territory under entering into particulars with re- British protection, and thus comgard to its details.
pelled England to wage war against The most amicable relations have Burma, resulting in the cession to ever since existed between the two the former of the provinces of Aracountries, in spite of not a little kan and Tenasserim. Suffice it to provocation to misunderstanding, say, similar causes led to the wars owing to overtures made by the of 1852-53 and 1885-86, causing pseudo-King Suleiman of Talifu to first the loss of Pegu, her fairest his Majesty of the Golden Foot. province, and ultimately all that The late King Mengdoon, stanch remained to his Majesty of the in his loyalty to his “Elder Bro- Golden Foot. Burmese history, ther,” denounced Suleiman as a as detailed in the Maha Raja Wen rebel. Not so the English, who, or Great Chronicle of Kings, it according a warm reception to must be admitted, tells a different Panthay envoys in 1872-73, in de- tale : “ Prosaic, and perhaps bifiance of their obligations to China, assed Western writers affirm that incensed the latter against Eng- no defeats are recorded in those land, and caused her, by measures courtly pages ; reverses are charmed short, sharp, and decisive, to re- into acts of clemency; armies as assert her power and make a clean vast as those that people dreamsweep of the Panthays. Thus, by land march through its chapters; British intrigues, China was awak- its heroes are of the old ballad ened to a sense of her responsibil. type."1 With the fall of Manities as regards Yunnan, just as dalay, or the City of Gems, the French intrigues influenced Eng- Court historiographer, like Othello, land in precipitating the inevitable found his occupation gone, so that as to Upper Burma.
the records of recent events, Though a profound peace has seen through Burmese spectacles, characterised the relations between will probably never see the light. the Burmese and Chinese since The Chinese, however, as already 1769, they have both been involved hinted, were satisfied with the in various wars with powerful Euro- results of their encounters with a pean States, with results affecting European foe, especially as they the fortunes of both very differ- were not to blame for the disturbently; for Younger Brother was ance of the peace in that portion dismayed to find his patrimony of the Golden Chersonese belongwrested from him, and himself an ing to the Sun of Heaven. Really exiled prisoner—while Elder Bro- they were the victims of an insather was elated at the nation that tiable earth-hunger, as well as a he had successfully withstood, and morbid political ambition, which, actually defeated, the flower of an of late years, has distinguished the
French, whose twofold object- to heart, and utilise the enormous as they cynically admit-was to rough material they possess, by acquire a new colony in Tonquin subjecting it to proper discipline and supplant the English as the and organisation, as well as centraldominant power in Farther India. ised administration and control, by So long as France confined herself the aid of railways and the teleto Cochin-China and Annam, China graph-there is reason why contented herself with a policy they should not be able to defy which she found convenient in the the world. Baron Hubner, in his case of the British annexation in very interesting work,' declares he Burma, remaining quiet while the is frightened at the results of latter absorbed the maritime pro- Chinese emigration, which in a vinces, but asserting her alleged comparatively short space of time suzerain rights when they ap- has flooded three-quarters of the proached nearer to her. When globe, and indulges in the followthe French, however, under the ing reflections: “ Two enormous flimsiest of pretexts, ventured to reservoirs; two rivers are issuing occupy Tonquin, China very natu- from them, the white river and the rally demurred to part with a pro- yellow river—the one fertilising vince which undoubtedly belonged the lands through which it runs to the Celestial Empire, and in sup- with the seeds of Christian civilisaport of her contention was obliged tion, and the other threatening to to appeal to arms—a challenge destroy them. Already at several accepted by France with a light points these rivers are meeting and heart. After a weary campaign, contending for the mastery. What which taxed the resources of both will be the final issue? the twensides to the utmost, and caused a tieth century will determine it in its terrible loss of life,each side emerged annals.” If there be substantial from the conflict, loudly asserting grounds for the Baron's misgivit was the victor. It is unneces- ings, how truly appalling would be sary to our present purpose to de- the prospect if the Celestials should cide this knotty point; but the take it into their heads to carry fact that raw levies, consisting of fire and sword into the countries peasants, robbers, and ragamuffins they now overrun in the interests of all kinds, armed, 'tis true, partly of peaceful industry ! with weapons of precision, but which Agreeably to the convention were worse than useless owing to entered into at the close of the their want of practice—cheated by war of 1769- already noticedcommissariat officers and pay- embassies have since been despatchmasters, and led by officers, who, ed by both countries at irregular considering discretion the better intervals. Judging by the light part of valour, took up th: ir posi- brought to bear on these events, tions a day's march or so from the by persons behind the scenes, both front- should more or less be able sides have practised the most glarto hold their own against well-dis- ing deceptions on each other in the ciplined French troops, commanded matter of the ambassadorial perby experienced officers, offers food sonnel and the treatment of the for serious consideration. For if envoys accredited to their Courts. the Chinese should take the lesson Laughing in their sleeves, as it
were, at their own knavish tricks, end of the Buddhist Lent, when all they never dreamt that they them- the official and great men of the selves were hoodwinked by pre- country, as well as the tributary cisely similar tactics. Neither, for chiefs, were bound to do homage at instance, deemed it incumbent on the Golden Foot, presenting gifts them to select men of high rank to as tokens of allegiance to the Lord represent them.
of the White Elephant. Anomalous as it may appear, no Burmese envoys deputed to Peeffort was spared on either side kin were apparently paid back in to welcome envoys with becoming their own coin by the Chinese, honour, and to make their official who, by way of relieving the monreception as brilliant and imposing otonous existence of the former, as the requirements of ancient cus- caused them to stand in the streets tom demanded. The traditionary with the gaping crowds, and dance canons as to the barbaric pomp attendance on the Emperor when inevitable on such occasions were he chose to go out for an airing, adhered to most religiously. Yet, to visit monasteries and tea-garwith all this, the officials of both dens, or besport himself on the ice. Courts seemed to take a childish With exquisite, though mayhap pleasure in offering every con- unconscious irony they also insisted ceivable slight to their seemingly on their putting in an appearance highly honoured guests, endeavour- at the Emperor's annual levee, ing to mortify them in every pos- identical with the Burmese kadaw. sible way, under the mistaken im- The most barefaced imposition on pression that by so doing they the Chinese part was when the exalted themselves at the expense Viceroy of Yunnan practised on of their friends. What is now the well-known amorous propen. known as the shoe question was, sities of Mentaragyi, King of Buras an engine of oppression, a never- ma, by sending in charge of his own failing source of delight to the subordinates three Yunnan women, Burmese, for the process of un- whose inferior social position was booting within the palace precincts evidenced by their normally shaped was as abhorrent to the Chinese as feet, and palming them off as printo Europeans. This infatuation cesses escorted by envoys from the would have caused the loss of their Sun of Heaven. country in the thirteenth century, When the English obtained prachad Kublai Khan chosen to take tical sway over the magnificent it, and doubtless had not a little highways of the Brahmaputra to do with the final catastrophe. and the Irawadi, and a glance at Causing misguided foreigners to the map proved that the traditionperform unnecessary obeisance was ally rich and densely populated a practical joke of perennial flavour, south-western provinces of China the most stiff-necked being unwit- were far nearer British territory tingly forced to become victims than the sea-coast of the Flowery thereto by being led through door- Land, the desirability of tapping ways so low that they necessarily them in the interests of direct bowed their heads ! But the plan commerce was apparent to the of all others for humbling strangers meanest comprehension. As it which pleased them most, was to was well known that from time induce them to attend the great immemorial Chinese caravans had annual kadaw or levee, held at the done this, the natural inference
was that we ought to be equally indefatigable Captain Sprye, which successful. But it appears to have was ridiculed by an Under-Secrebeen based on wrong premisses in tary of State in his place in Parsupposing that our administrators liament as a myth, is now apwere endowed with the political proved by many experts, and has and commercial sagacity of former practically been adopted by Messrs Chinese rulers, which recognised Colquhoun and Holt Hallett. The the free intercourse between Cathay" • Times' and other newspapers held and the Golden Chersonese as of it as a good sign that the most the utmost importance to both, important Chambers of Commerce and in believing that our mer- in the United Kingdom should, chants and others interested in the after hearing what these gentlequestion possessed the indomitable men had to say about the trade and well-disciplined energy which routes, recommend for the favoursuccessfully overcomes obstacles able consideration of Government sufficient to deter less enterprising that their valuable services should people.
meet with suitable recognition ; Several projects have been forgetting, perhaps, that scarcely mooted for developing our trade two decades ago the gallant Sprye with south-western China, with could boast of exactly similar exwhose details it is unnecessary to perience, and that, consigned to weary our readers, as very lately neglect and oblivion, he ultimately they have been fully discussed at died of a broken heart. meetings held by various Chambers In, a leading article in the of Commerce and in the public Times' of the 4th April 1885, press. The records of the heroic pointing out the futility of enattempts made by numerous trav- deavouring to rouse the official ellers from both starting - points world to appreciation of the imto bring these plans to a practical portance of new railways, new issue were extremely interesting markets, and new political relabut confessedly abortive; for after tions, declaring “it is the nature all we have not advanced farther, of officialism to go on like 'melanbeyond realising the fact that the choly smooth Meander, gently purobject in view is not nearly so easyling in a round," and bemoaning as it looks on the map. The same the defects of a parliamentary sysmay be said of the notable French tem that provides no motive power expedition, culminating in one of to force officialism into any more the most brilliant geographical ex- fruitful kind of activity," it is sugploits of modern times, in which gested that if plans of this kind the disappointment was enhanced are good for British commerce, by the discovery that the Mehkong British merchants should take the was by no means a second Irawadi. initiative without relying on GovThe subsequent failure by which, ernment assistance. This reasonat vast cost of lives and treasure, ing would be sound enough if the it was found that the alternative projected routes were entirely in route by the Soukoi or Red River British territory; but, when leadwas also impracticable, is similarly ing to far Cathay, they are desa case in point.
tined to traverse regions more or By the strange irony of fate, it less free from control by any rehappens that the project so ably sponsible Government, involving and persistently advocated by the conditions wherein the considera
tion of the political elements are with expectation.'' ? That the inevitable, even the most reckless Chinese should go heart and soul speculator might reasonably hesi- with us is, of course, much to be tate. But if both England and desired, for by mutual co-operation China prove that they are fully great results may be expected ; but determined to act up to the spirit even passive indifference or actual of the convention executed at obstruction on the part of officials Pekin the 24th July last, will not avail in the long - run. Article III. of which binds both For if we, alive to our manifest to protect and encourage trade duty, bring home to the minds of between China and Burma, there intending settlers that our terriwill be no excuse for the mercan- tory is a safe, pleasant, and profittile world hanging back any longer able country in which to reside, --indeed it will be to blame, if and in this way offer sufficient intogether with both they do not ducernents to traders and agricul. rise to the level of the situation. turists to emigrate to the Irawadi
Without wishing to harass our valley, they will come, and if we readers with the details of the re- would, we could not stop them; cent controversy regarding the re- the muore so if, by improving the lations between China and Burma, communications between the two we cannot very well avoid refer- countries, we practically prove ence to a matter of paramount that the easiest and most conveinterest and importance to the nient outlet for the pent-up trade regions we now discussing. of the south-western provinces of We allude to Lord Roseberry's the Middle Kingdom is through convention, which practically ac. British territory.
British territory. The Chinese knowledges the Sun of Heaven Government at one time successas suzerain of a country which fully managed to put an embargo not many months ago was declared, on emigration; but this craze soon by royal proclamation, to be part developed proportions which defied and parcel of the British empire. control. A like result is inevitIts inherent weakness, as noted by able in reference to the developMr Demetrius Boulger, “is that it ment of the trade of, and emigraleaves China precisely in her old tion from, this region. When once position—that is to say, with the they have been fairly started, even option of choosing whether she will the ukase of the Sun of Heaven have trade intercourse with Burma will be as ineffectual to arrest their or not." If Mr Boulger unhap- progress as was the bidding of pily reflects Celestial opinion, it King Canute in the case of the would be impracticable in this obstinate waves of the sea. matter, for he declares the Chinese Let us look at the situation “instinctively dread the prospect frankly. If Lord Rosebery's conof unrestricted trade
between vention does not prove a dead British territory and Yunnan, and letter, these results may be acthat nothing is further from their cepted as a foregone conclusion. wishes than that opening of It will be, therefore, useless to south-western China,' which has deprecate, as some do, the natural set all the factories of Lancashire pressure of Chinese immigration and Birmingham alive, at least to the valley of the Irawadi, which
1 Asiatic Quarterly Review, Oct. 1886.
2 Ibid., April 1886.