CHAPTER TWELVE Tonking, to the Settlement

IN the last months of 1884 more and more was happening to strengthen the section of opinion in England which regretted the Franco-Chinese war, against the opposite tendency to welcome it. To begin with, China was becoming a dangerous place for all foreigners. There were formidable riots at Canton in 1883 and at Hankow and Wenchow in 1884; reports were coming in of inflammatory placards at Wuhu, unrest at and around Chinkiang, anti-Catholic outbreaks at Swatow.1 Moreover, French agents in China were threatening a blockade of the Gulf of Pechili in the spring, for the purpose of cutting off rice from the capital. This, Parkes realised, would not cripple Peking, but it would cripple British trade in the north.2 The effects of the Formosa blockade, re-established from 7 January, were described as "very serious to foreigners, but almost harmless to the Chinese".3 Foreign vessels, Admiral Dowell explained, were pulled up by the French, whereas native junks slipped in and out as they pleased.4 The Governor of Hongkong wrote that all traders there welcomed Britain's mediation, the hostilities being "disastrous to the interests of that great commerce, of which England enjoys by far the greatest share".5 An Englishman in Chinese service, Captain Harvey--inventor of a Sea Torpedo--wrote to a friend at home: "If the contest with France continues trade will be ruined, the people will rise first against the foreigners, then against the mandarins, and there will be horrible doings.

____________________
1
Parkes248, 4.11. 84), 27. 2716; 254 and 255, 6.11. 84), 27. 2716; 260 and 261, 10.11. 84), 27. 2716; 282 and 283, 24.11. 84), 27. 2717; 287, 25.11. 84), 27. 2717; 300, 301 and 302, 1.12. 84), 27. 2718.
2
Parkes319, 13.12. 84), 27. 2719.
3
Parkes343, 31.12. 84), 27. 2719.
4
Extract from letter to Sir C. Key, 27. 2769.
5
Bowen381, 17.11.84, 27. 2719.

-172-

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