The Chinese Account of the Opium War

Magic Washer
Magic Washer

The Manchu Annals introduce the history of the English opium war with a statement that, early in the summer of 1838, the Director of the Court of State Ceremonial, Hwang Tsioh-tsz,” represented in a Memorial to the Throne that the growing consumption of foreign opium was at the root of all China’s troubles. Silver,—and coined dollars proportionately, —was becoming scarce and relatively dear, the tael having advanced from 1,000 to 1,600 cash in price;  the revenue was in confusion, peculation rife, and trade disorganized. Opium, he said, came from England ; but, though those foreigners were ready enough to weaken China and absorb her wealth by encouraging its use, so severely did they forbid smoking amongst themselves that offending ships were sunk by heavy guns.

They had possessed themselves of [Koh-liu-pa or] Java by this means, and had endeavoured to seduce Annam, which state, however, had firmly discouraged any relations with them. They were now ruining the bodies and the fortunes of the Chinese with their abominable poison ; and the memorialist proposed that the penalty of death should be decreed against all offenders. In consequence of this the Emperor at once remitted the matt’jr to the consideration of all the high provincial authorities. Without a single exception, those officers recommended the most stringent measures and he amongst them who wrote the most uncompromisingly was LiN TsBH-stJ, Viceroy of Hu Kwang, who was at once sent for to Peking, whence, after receiving the Emperor’s instructions, he was dispatched as Special Imperial Commissioner to Canton, armed with full Admiral’s powers in addition.

Chinese Account of the Opium War


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