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distinguished most of our High Com- opportunities during a century in which missioners in China; oblivious to the there was no suggestion of outside interreal position, and unmindful of the ference, it is not surprising that our rights accorded him as the Queen's rulers have failed utterly in maintainrepresentative by the second article of ing the interests of this country since the Treaty, did not even demand an we have been face to face with rival inaudience with Hienfung. Nor did he terests. The lack of information which leave his army at Tientsin to guarantee found vent in apathy has given way to the fulfilment of the concessions made. a series of alternations of impulse which Accordingly, when his brother, Mr. has resulted in our being worsted on Frederick Bruce, reached the Peiho as every occasion on which we have Minister to exchange the ratifications matched ourselves against our rivals. of the Treaty at Peking, he found the The greatest foes of Great Britain durriver impassable, and had to retire, ing recent happenings in the Far East amid the jibes of the people. In con- have not been the Russians, but the sequence of Lord Elgin's stupidity the shallowness, ignorance, and indifference whole operation had to be repeated. of our statesmen. China has been po
The High Commissioner once more litically dead these three years. Her went north, and after much more oppo- views, her actions, are alike unimporsition and the loss of many men, suc- tant. It is no longer a question of ceeded in reaching Peking, where he what she will accord, but of what her established himself early in the autumn despoilers will insist on. In her senilof 1860. Desiring to return to the ity, decrepid and corrupt to the core, coast before the river became frozen, her one idea is how she may best prohaving remained at the capital a little long her existence, not with a view to over a week, Lord Elgin left a second emulate the example of her neighbors, time without having been received by and take a place in the councils of the the Emperor to whom he had been world, but merely in order that she may accredited.
continue her methods of peculation, of Is it surprising, in face of such a robbery, and of fraud upon her subrecord of combined incapacity and stance. Discredited because exposed, pusillanimity, that the influence of this conscious that without some support country in the Far East is on the wane? she must infallibly meet her doom, she Up to the point reached in the above seeks a friend on whom to lean in order survey, the struggle was an individual that she may escape the extinction she one between the British and Chinese. so richly merits. At the outset, the During recent years this simplicity of Chinese politicians turned toward Great contest has disappeared among the Britain. This country was regarded as varied and conflicting interests of a the natural protector of the Empire. number of competing nations. It is no The English were the first to come into longer a question of what England de- contact with the Celestials. Our power sires to obtain from the Chinese. The has been felt in China, and the Chinese problem to-day is what will Russia, were not slow in the hour of need to France, or Germany permit China to realize that if it were once enlisted on accord ? and the wily Celestial, the very her side, she would be scatheless to the first to realize this position, does not world. Our interests are more widely hesitate to benefit by the number of his spread and more deeply rooted than suitors, and plays one off against the those of other nations in the land, and other with admirable cleverness and despite the frequent troubles that had sang froid. And this very multiplicity been, China had come to realize that of despoilers has proved China's great England was more fair and more honest est support; for each, jealous of the in her dealings, than any of the other others, resents any attempt at dismem- nations with whom she had come into bering the Empire, excepting on her contact. Overtures were accordingly own behalf.
made, without result. On the concluHaving neglected to make use of our sion of the China-Japanese war, Eng
land refused to come to the protection as we show, by force of arms, if need of the vanquished. So China turned be, that we are yet a factor to be reckto Russia, and found that comfort oned with. We are discredited at which was denied her by ourselves. Peking by our pusillanimity as much The result was fatal to British influ- as we are discredited in Europe by our ence in the Far East. To-day, China defeat. Our opportunities have passed looks to Russia as her friend and ally away, and we are left to realize at For the first time in her history she leisure our discomfiture. has fully committed herself to the keep- From the first chapter in this record ing of a foreign Power. The Cassini of disaster, we have been consistent only Treaty, kept a secret for so long, makes in our errors. After wasting blood and the emissaries of the Czar the virtual treasure in the obtaining of treaties for rulers of the Celestial Empire: and the furtherance of intercourse, we have having forfeited the respect of China not successfully imposed the observby neglecting our manifest duty to take ance, of a single one, upon the recalciher under our protection, we achieved trant Celestial. We have sacrificed our her contempt by being so easily tricked rights and imperilled our reputation over the Russian seizure of the Liao not only by foregoing privileges, but by Tong Peninsula.
.condoning breaches of faith which have Even at this stage, however, we might rendered us ridiculous. We have met have retrieved the past, and secured the Celestial chicanery with lack of repremier position in the Far East. source, and Russian ability with an Wearied of the constant exactions of admission of impotence. And when all her chosen protector, the Chinese Cab- too late the approaching partition of inet, so recently as the 31st of January the Empire is realized, we blandly pin last, made a final appeal for the sup- our faith to an impossible catchword port of Great Britain. Replying to Sir known as the “Open Door," originatClaude MacDonald on the subject of the ing in Exeter Hall, and based on the suggested British loan, the Tsungli Ya- most truly Christian quality of univermen stated that it would be prepared sal charity, but utterly untenable, and, to endorse his views and co-operate with from the standpoint of the political this country if the Government would student, absurd. It is to be doubted afford protection against Russia, this whether a more insane proposal was being the only thing that would help ever laid down by a jaded minister, them. The offer, like those which had than this suggestion of the “ Open preceded it, was declined, in proof of Door.” Its very idea, signifying the our being as slow to secure an advan- accordance of equal rights to all nations tageous position in the Far East, as at all times, or, as it is termed, “equalwe have always been in attaining an en- ity of opportunity,” is opposed to every forcement of our rights or compensa- principle of national policy. It is a tion for injuries. No greater contrast theory only possible to a nation which, is to be found between the policy of like ourselves, is capable of holding its England and that of other countries own in the commercial field against all in the Far East, than that afforded by competitors. Such a policy, if the sugthe uncertainty and procrastination gestion deserves the title, would, withwhich invariably attends any assertion out doubt, be advantageous to ourselves, of our prestige. More than a year was inasmuch as it would afford us all the permitted to elapse between the brutal advantages of a preferential sphere, murder of Augustus Margary and the without the attendant expense of supersigning of the Treaty of Cheefoo, and vision or protection. But to all other when this was ordained, its provisions countries the “ Open Door” would proved ridiculously inadequate to mark mean a loss of opportunity for protectthe enormity of the deed commemo- ed trade, and the Powers, whose only rated. Our controlling influence in chance of successful competition rests China, so far as effective power is con- on the imposition of tariffs sufficiently cerned, is lost to us, until such a time high to keep British manufactures at arms' length, could never consent to impotent and ridiculous, awaiting a bolt accepting a proposal which would be from the blue to extract us from a poequivalent to making a free gift of val. sition which any nation but our own uable future markets to this country. would speedily discover to be untenTo talk of the “Open Door” as a poli- able. cy, is about as idiotic as to repeat the And now, while we stand discounted threadbare dictum that “ British Inter- and helpless, there comes the rumor ests in China are commercial, not po- that the Government is attempting to litical.” The existence of the one idea come to an understanding with Russia. is as impossible as is the other. And, Nor is the suggestion singular. There notwithstanding, the Government cling are signs to be read by those skilled in to their Utopian dream, and, in face of such matters, that there is a growing their every statement being discredited feeling among the supporters of the by fact, attempt to justify a copybook Government that we have not done sufheading!
ficient justice to Muscovite ambition, At the very moment when the British and that our discomfiture has been Government was dilating on the beau brought about by the distrust we have ties of the “ Open Door," the partition all along manifested of Muscovite of the Chinese Empire had begun. faith! I have little doubt but that Russia was secretly but effectively send- Lord Salisbury would be willing to ing troops into Manchuria, France, close with any offer of a Russian underrefusing to learn from experience the standing which did not press too hardly hopelessness of her methods of coloniza. on British pretensions in the Far East. tion, was seeking further extension Nor do I question the readiness of the northward in the provinces of Yunnan Ministers of the Czar to accede to what and Kwangsi, and Germany was fully is desired. Pledges, undertakings, and occupied prospecting the metalliferous treaties with Russia resemble those deposits of Shantung for her exclusive made by her nearest neighbor in Asia. benefit. Great Britain, possessed of the Such things are entered on with the dismost authoritative claims to a voice in tinct intention of being observed as litthe matter, alone refrained from tak- tle as circumstances will allow. An ing part in the scramble for territory, understanding with Russia endures for and her reiterated cry for the “Open so long as it is her interest to maintain Door” found its answer in the projec- an appearance of being bound. Her tion of a Franco-Russian line of railway policy is too stable to permit her to be across the heart of that sphere which long affected by any concession, while, she had always deemed exclusively her in the case of China, there is too little own. Driven at last by the indigna- stability to enable her to carry out any tion of its supporters, as much as by treaty. No agreement with either is the sneers of its rivals, to attempt some- worth the paper it is written on, unless thing, the British Government hastened the other signatory possess the force to do something wrong, and took Wei to compel adherence to its terms, Hai Wei, a harbor indefensible by land and is prepared to use it. The quesand exposed to the sea; and goaded to tion then arises—Do we possess the faca declaration of assumed activity, Lord ulty of profiting by our discomfiture? Salisbury and his lieutenants declared Are we capable, ere it is too late, of their unalterable intention to do what making a stand, and insisting, by force they had never done, and protect Brit of arms if need be, on the respecting ish interests in China under all circum- of our undoubted rights? Is Lord Sal. stances. The immediate answer to this isbury too old to learn; or is he bent on statement has been the cancelling of pursuing his “gou, gou” attitude, and the Newchang Railway concession, and continuing his aspect of smug indifwe stand face to face with Russia in ference to the bitter end? Is it within China, defeated in every move, discred- the capacity of the Government to imited before the world, without a policy, port into its Eastern policy a modicum
of practical common sense, sufficient to manage a Shoolbred's or a Whiteley's? Is it possible to extract Imperial rule from an Imperial Government? On
the answer to these questions pends the fate of Britain in the Far East.-Fortnightly Review.
THE AFRICAN GUANO ISLANDS.
NOTWITHSTANDING the advanced it fetches from £8 to £9; but prior to state of development attained by the the manufacture of artificial fertilizers modern art of globe-trotting, and the the market-price has been as high as. comprehensive accomplishments of its £17 or £18 for first-class stuff. Each numerous votaries, there still remain island, it should be observed, produces some spots on our planet not the least a different kind, or rather quality, decharm of which lies in the fact of their pending more or less on the amount of being outside the ordinary bighways sand and grit with which the guano of travel. Away in the South Atlan becomes mixed ; Mercury, for instance, tic, lying between latitude 28° S. and which is nothing but a barren rock, 24° S., quite out of the track of steam- furnishing the commodity in the most ers and sailing vessels ploughing the unsophisticated form, ammonia being ocean between England and the Cape a constituent part to the extent of no of Good Hope, and fringing the shores less than 19 per cent. of Great Namaqualand and German In consequence of certain alleged Damaraland, are a dozen islands, bleak, irregularities brought to light in the barren, and unpromising in themselves public prints, the government in July beyond description, and yet the natural last resolved to appoint a comunission depot of one of the most fertilizing to inquire exhaustively into the workagents known to commerce. Their ing and general administration of the names are Plum pudding, Albatross, islands; and, among other things, a Sinclairs, Pomona, Long, Possession, surprise-visit was arranged, with a view Halifax, Seal, Penguin, Ichaboe, Mer- to ascertaining on the spot the actual cury, and Hollamsbird Islands, the state of affairs. To this end a small largest some three miles long by half-a- steamer was chartered, and, with sevmile in breadth, and the smallest a eral officials on board, among whom mere islet of rock.
was your correspondent, in the capacity By an act of Parliament passed in of secretary, proceeded on a cruise of 1874, these islands, generally known inspection, an opportunity being thus. as the Ichaboe group, were annexed to afforded of visiting what, to most the Cape Colony, and for many years people at all events, is a terra incognita. were leased out to private individuals, The coastline of southwestern Africa. who reaped a rich harvest as the reward for a very considerable distance north of their enterprise. As the leases fell of the Cape of Good Hope presents in, howerer, the colonial governinent but few features of interest ; indeed it. undertook the business, the immediate may be described as a wearisome and management being delegated to an monotonous picture of barren-looking agent, who has hitherto been remuner- rocks, alternating with long, arid ated by a commission on the net yearly stretches of sand dunes, the desolation profits, amounting to 15 per cent. on of the scene being completed by the the first £8000, 5 per cent. between angry surf which with ceaseless and £8000 and £15,000, and 3 per cent. depressing rhythm beats upon the between £15,000 and £20,000. For shore. At the same time, the atmosthe last seven years the annual produc- phere in these comparatively rainless tion has been about 2770 tons, and the latitudes is singularly pure and invigcost of working is put down at £3 58. 7d. orating ; one feels as if it were almost per ton, while the price at which guano a luxury to breathe ; and when night is sold to the colonial farmers is at closes in, the starry heavens present a. present £6 10s. per ton. In England glorious spectacle to the eye, while all.
around the vessel the sea flashes and guano or excrement begins ; and this sparkles with the phosphorescent rays on the larger islands furnishes employemitted by countless forms of marine ment for thirty or forty hands, the life.
ranks being recruited from all sorts Possession Island, the largest of the and conditions of men, even a brokengroup, is about five hundred miles from down barrister having been known to Capetown, and viewed from a short cast in his lot amid these uptoward distance off looks uncommonly like a surroundings. At the time of the visit huge drab-colored clinker set down in of the commission there were over mid-ocean. It is crescent-shaped, and 2000 tons of guano stacked on this islshelters Elizabeth Bay from the west- and in a large heap, representing a ward, the mainland being well defined money-value of close upon £15,000. in the distance. On nearer approach At one time Possession Island must one experiences a sensation much akin have been the haunt of innumerable to that induced by a theatrical trans quantities of seals, for the remains of formation-scene, the forbidding and these creatures are to be seen in all apparently untenanted waste being directions, abundantly confirming the alive with birds enjoying to the full statement of Captain Morrell, who, the immunity secured from predatory when describing his visit here many foes, and showing but little sign of years since, said, “I saw the effects of timidity from outside intrusion. Thou- a pestilence or plague which had visited sands upon thousands of penguins line these inhabitants of the ocean with as the shore, strutting about with great much malignancy as the Asiatic cholera self-importance, and jealous, one does the bipeds of the land. The might almost imagine, that Nature has whole island was literally covered with not endowed them with the power of the carcasses of fur-seals, with their flight like their comrades, the malagas, skins still on them. They appeared a very handsome bird about the size of to have been dead about five years, and an ordinary goose, and with much the it was evident they had all met their same plumage except that the head fate about the same period. Froin the and neck are tinted with yellowish immense multitude of bones and carfeathers. Enormous flocks of these casses, not less than half-a-million malagas are to be seen in every direc- must have perished, either through tion, either standing in solid groups, some mysterious plague or disease, or covering a large extent of ground, or from the effects of a sand-storm." wheeling about in the air, now and The accommodation on Possession then darting out seawards in quest of Island for the men employed far surfish, upon which they pounce with un- passes that on any of the others, and erring accuracy. Then there are va consists of a substantial wood and iron rious kinds of gulls, guillemots, and building and store in close proximity other sea-birds. In July and August to the beach, where a rough kind of is the breeding season, and it is not jetty has been constructed to facilitate till later in the year that the islands the shipinent of guano. There is also are what is technically called “in full a small cooperage where the water-casks bloom,” when the birds are more are repaired. Not a drop of fresh numerous than ever. Some of the water is to be found on any of the islhabits of the penguin are very peculiar. ands, and the conveyance of water from Their nests consist of a hole scratched Capetown is consequently an imporin the sand, or just a crevice in the tant business. An attempt has been rock, into which they drag a few made to condense sea-water by solarstones, pieces of seaweed, or any rub- heat, an apparatus something like a bish available ; and here they deposit cucumber frame being used for the two, or at the most three, eggs, the purpose ; but the birds frequently inperiod of incubation lasting six weeks. terfere with its successful manipulation. When the young birds are hatched they On Possession, Halifax, and Ichaboe very quickly take to the water. Short- Islands headmen are stationed, whose ly after the breeding season is con- duty it is to control the collection and cluded, the work of collecting the shipment of the guano and generally