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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Kandahar was captured in April


Emperor Taouk-Wang ordered

Lin Tsiaseu, Viceroy of Houk Wang, to proceed to Canton to put a definite stop to the opium traffic. The peremptory instructions given to Commissioner Lin were "to cut off the fountain of evil, and if necessary to sink the British ships and to break their caldrons, since the hourly thought on the Emperor's part was to do away with opium forever." Within a week of Lin's arrival at Canton he issued an edict wherein he stigmatized the foreigners as a heartless people who thought only of trade and of making their way by stealth into the Flowery Land, whereas the laws of England, he asserted, prohibited the smoking of opium in their own country. A demand was made to surrender to him all stores of opium within three days. To enforce this demand, Chinese troops were concentrated around the European settlement. Eventually more than 20,000 chests of opium were seized and dumped into the sea. After this triumph, Lin wrote a letter to Queen Victoria calling upon her government to interdict the importation of opium. At the same time a memorial was sent to England by the British merchants of Canton begging the government to protect them against "a capricious and corrupt government" and demanding compensation for the opium confiscated by the Chinese. On the part of the British Government no answer was vouchsafed to the demands of the viceroy. In China, matters took their course. Captain Elliot at Canton, on May 22, issued a notice in which he protested against the action of the Chinese Government
"as utterly unjust per se," and advised all British merchants to withdraw to Hong Kong. The merchants acted on the suggestion, and the English factory at Canton, which had existed for nearly 200 years, was abandoned. The British sailors in Chinese waters threw off all restraint. Frequent collisions occurred between them and the natives. In one of them a Chinaman was killed. The Chinese viceroy denounced this act as "going to the extreme of disobedience to the laws" and demanded the surrender of the British sailor who perpetrated the murder. This demand was flatly refused. The Chinese thereupon refused to furnish further supplies to the ships and prohibited all British sailors from coming ashore on Chinese soil. The official notice said: "If any of the foreigners be found coming on shore to cause trouble, all and every one of the people are permitted to withstand and drive them back, or to make prisoners of them." The English naval officers retaliated by sending out their men to seize by force whatever they needed. A boat's crew of the British ship "Black Jack" was massacred. Thus hostilities began. Two British men-of-war exchanged shots with the forts in the Bogue. On November 3, the two frigates "Volage" and "Hyacinth" were attacked by twenty-nine junks-of-war off Chuenpee. A regular engagement was fought and four of the junks were sunk. On the news of the fight at Chuenpee, Emperor Taouk-Wang promoted the Chinese admiral. On December 6, an imperial edict prohibiting all trade with Great Britain was issued. Already a strong British squadron was on its way to China.

[Sidenote: War with Afghans]

[Sidenote: Fall of Kandahar]

[Sidenote: British enter Kabul]

[Sidenote: Failure of Russian counter move]

Simultaneously with these troubles the British had become embroiled in war with the Afghans. The ostensible purpose was to depose Dost Mohammed Khan from his usurpation of the throne of Afghanistan. In reality this chieftain had aroused the ire of England by entering into negotiations with Russia, after Lord Auckland had declined to call upon Runjit Singh to restore Peshawar to Afghanistan. When it was learned that a Russian mission had been received at Kabul, the British Government resolved to dethrone Dost Mohammed Khan and to restore Shah Shuja to the throne of Kabul. War was declared at Simla. Columns were sent out from Bombay and Bengal and were united at Quetta under the command of Sir John Keene. Kandahar was captured in April. In July, Ghasni was taken by storm. It was on this occasion that Sir Henry Durand, then a young subaltern, distinguished himself by blowing up the Ghasni gate. In August, the British entered Kabul. Dost Mohammed Khan fled over the Oxus into Bokhara. Shah Shuja was restored as ruler of Afghanistan under the tutelage of a British resident minister. In response to Dost Mohammed's appeals, the Russian Government sent out an expedition toward Khiva, in November; but the winter weather in the mountains was so severe that the expedition had to return.


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