The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861 - Vol. 3

By Queen Victoria; Viscount Esher et al. | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTORY NOTE
TO CHAPTER XXVI

THE closing months of 1856 had witnessed the beginning of a dispute with China, a party of Chinese having boarded the lorcha Arrow, a vessel registered under a recent ordinance of Hong Kong, arrested the crew as pirates, and torn down the British flag. The Captain's right to fly the flag was questionable, for the term of registry, even if valid in the first instance, which was disputed, had expired (though the circumstance was unknown to the Chinese authorities), and the ship's earlier history under the Chinese flag had been an evil one. But Sir John Bowring, British Plenipotentiary at Hong Kong, took punitive measures to enforce treaty obligations; Admiral Seymour destroyed the forts on the river, and occupied the island and fort of Dutch Folly. In retaliation, the Chinese Governor Yeh put a price on Bowring's head, and his assassination, and that of other residents, by poison, was attempted. The British Government's action, however, was atigmetised as highhanded, and a resolution censuring them was carried in the Commons, being moved by Mr Cobden and supported by a coalition of Conservatives, Peelites, and the Peace Party,--LordJohn Russell also opposing the Government. In consequence of this vote, Parliament was dissolved, and at the ensuing election the Peace Party was scattered to the winds; Bright, Milner Gibson, and Cobden all losing their seats. Lord Palmerston obtained a triumphant majority in the new House of Commons, of which Mr J. E. Denison was elected Speaker in succession to Mr Shaw-Lefevre, now created Viscount Eversley. At the end of the year an ultimatum was sent to Governor Yeh, requiring observance of the Treaty of Nankin, Canton was bombarded, and subsequently occupied by the English and French troops.

Hostilities with Persia were terminated by a treaty signed at Paris; the Shah engaging to abstain from interference in Afghanistan, and to recognize the independence of Herat.

A century had passed since the victory of Clive at Plassey, but the Afghan disasters and the more recent war with Russia had caused doubts to arise as to British stability in India, where the native forces were very large in comparison with the European. Other causes, among which may be mentioned the legalising of the remarriage of Hindoo widows, and a supposed intention to coerce the natives into Christianity, were operating to foment dissatisfaction, while recent acts of insubordination and symptoms of mutiny had been inade

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The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861 - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents iii
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Introductory Note To Chapter XXIII 1
  • Chapter XXIII 1854 3
  • Introductory Note - To Chapter XXIV 63
  • Chapter XXIV - 1855 65
  • Introductory Note To Chapter XXV 158
  • Chapter XXV - 1856 160
  • Introductory Note - To Chapter XVII 223
  • Chapter XVII - 1857 225
  • Introductory Note - To Chapter XXVII 261
  • Chapter XXVII - 1858 263
  • Introductory Note To Chapter XXVIII 307
  • Chapter XXVIII - 1859 309
  • Introductory Note To Chapter XXIX 379
  • Chapter XXIX - 1860 382
  • Introductory Note - To Chapter XXX 420
  • Chapter XXX - 1861 422
  • Index 479
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