Monday, January 12, 2015

Imperial Proclamation (6/5/1842)

Updated January 13, 2015

Date:June 5, 1842 清宣宗道光二十二年(壬寅)四月二十七日(乙巳 )(the twenty seventh day of the fourth month in the twenty second year of the reign of Tao-kuang)
Subject Matter:The Suppression of Opium and the British Invasion

I, the Emperor, on account of opium flowing like poison into China, bringing down calamities on the people, have in former years sent down, in edicts, my express orders directing it to be strictly prohibited in every province.
Again, and a third time have I, with the most assiduous heedfulness, given clear and explicit orders and warnings; and because Canton was the place were the outside barbarians traded, I gave especial orders to Lin Tsihseu to proceed thither, examine into and manage the business.
The barbarians of each nation eagerly and sincerely obeyed the restraints, and bound themselves by promises; it was only the English barbarian, Elliot, on account of the destruction of the opium dirt, made a pretense to cause disturbance.
Lin, on account of his bad management, was immediately degraded and banished to the frontier.
Yet the said rebel, in the 6th month of the twentieth year of Taoukgang, rat like, sneaked into the waters of the province of Chekeang, and stealthily took possession of the city of Ting Hae, and then proceeded to the offing of Teentsing, announcing the presentation of a petition.
I, the Emperor, consider China [middle, or Middle Kingdom] and outside nations with one heart and mind, and esteem it of importance to cherish and treat with mildness, men from afar, and not contemplating that his (Elliot's) first thoughts were of rebellion, and to tell and explain his grievances, his last, without any consideration of (his country's trade) being rejected and cut off, I again commanded Keshen to proceed to Canton, and verify to examine into and manage the facts.
Further, the General Eleppo, the commissioner in the province of Chekeang, seized the barbarian officer Gantihhae, (Anstruther) and many others, and by great favor saved them from death; and when Tin Hae was evacuated (by the English) sent them back to their country.
But the said barbarian, crafty and deceitful, still begging with unsatiated appetite, and clearly understanding the pacific intentions and language of Keshen, who did not prepare proper means od defense, at length summoned troops, and first attacked successively the forts at Shakeo and Takeo (Chuenpe and Tykoktow); killed my great officers, and troubled my blackhaired race on the coasts;
and the causes of disturbance and war have been occasioned by the selfish selling of opium by the rebellious foreigners; further, he openly begged for favors, and secretly used deceptive schemes; turning his back upon truth, and making useless all my favors. At such conduct both gods and men were indignant, and I, the Emperor, ordered my officers to lead forth my troops. These are the real circumstances of the case.
When the rebel-quelling general, Yih, arrived at Canton, the rebellious foreigners, rat like, entered the inner waters, spying about the provincial city; and the reason that the great officers then assembled their troops, was occasioned by the avaricious and greedy desire for profit of the said rebel, who, meditating trade, earnestly begged that the debts owing by the Hong merchants to the said foreigners, should be paid.
I, the Emperor, treat all with perfect sincerity, and have never cherished ill feelings in my bosom. Thus, if he (Elliot) really obtained profit, he said there should be peace, and cause disturbance. On this account, I considered the bestowal of this favor (the six million dollars) as a very little matter, and certainly did not grudge it. Doltish fool of a hateful race! how can he attempt to equal or rival me, the Emperor of the heavenly dynasty? But my anxious thoughts and care being for my people in the maritime provinces, could not but comply with the force of circumstances. Who could have imagined that the rebellious foreigner cherished such an evil heart in his bosom, deceiving heaven and opposing reason?
The province of Canton was left in quiet, but the provinces of Fuhkeen and Chekeang were again agitated like ocean waves; Ting-Hea was again furtively watched, and the city again invaded and kept; and my minister (Yukeen) died in defense of his country; and my officers threw away their lives, and numbers of my people were slaughtered. Elliot's crimes it is difficult to number.
I especially ordered the awe-inspiring General Yihking and others, to lead on their troops, attack and exterminate the English. Some time ago the robbers retired from Ning-po, and then laid Chappoo in ruins. When the said foreigner was in the province of Canton, after his schemes were satiated, he went to Chekeang, where he plundered the province for the subsistence of his army,
such is his cruel, barbarous disposition; but the measure of his iniquities is full, and no larger respite will be granted by heaven. When the heavens above look down on his deeds, the barbarian will surely be exterminated. What crimes have my people committed, that they should be afflicted with such cruel calamities?
On self-examination, my mind (origl. five viscera) is filled with anxiety and distress; and my every thought is, that the poisonous sprout (Elliot) is not yet cut off, and that I cannot rescue my subjects; with a painful feelings I severely blame myself and hate myself for being unequal to my duties: for me repose by day or night is difficult.
Ye generals, leaders, governors, lieutenant-governors, the civil and military officers at Peking and in the provinces, all ye ministers should regard the state of my mind, and hasten to save the people, and not have a thought of repose, but attend to the present emergency and divest yourself of selfishness and deceptive conduct, to cause your name not to stink in after times.
As to officers and men always talking of the strength of their ships and their destruction gunnery; the murderous fire of which it is hard to bear; why immediately they see the robbers they are frightened, and fly like the wind in disorder; and then the thieves entered the river without your knowledge; and soon then became aware of your danger,
and the troops rushed forward with ardor, and entering into battle, did not retreat, and they were also aided by the bold villages. But the power of lord and guest (the Emperor and Captain Elliot) is by no means equal, and the difference in the numbers of the people of our countries is great, but on account of the richness of my country, he has availed himself of an opportunity for making war; but what difficulty will there be in conquering him? As such are the barbarous dispositions of the rebellious barbarians, the spirits of my troops are not equal to them.
The connection of the native traitors with rebellious barbarians, has been caused by the poverty of the ignorant people, or it has sprung from their distressing difficulties, and on account of profit, thus have they been deceived, and induced to connect themselves willingly with robbers, that they might procure sufficient food for their families; and thus, through their avidity the robbers have attacked and plundered several places, and when the robbers came, they were sent in advance, and thus they were the first exposed to slaughter; and when the robbers retired, they were placed in the rear, and were subject to seizure by the troops, and forthwith executed. Yet the people have the disposition of men, and should know how to repent and return to their allegiance.
I, the Emperor, am your heavenly appointed lord; if you will only regard that which is before your eyes, you will rest in repose, and not be troubled with great affairs hereafter. But had I been careless of the broad-flowing poison and not have prohibited it, I should firstly have been ungrateful to my imperial father, from whom I received the important favor of the government of the empire; and secondly, I should have proved myself incapable of preserving the lives of my people; thus, how was it possible for me to exert my utmost strength in prohibiting it?
Now, although the traitors and barbarians are causing trouble, and on account of avaricious desires of profit are daily committing murder and robbery, all ye leaders, ministers, soldiers, &c., as you have received my gracious favors, you should manifest heavenly principles and a good heart, and clearly explain the laws, and the excite the valiant, and those who strive to be first on them rewards shall be forthwith conferred; but for those who retreat, instantly execute them without mercy. If these orders are obeyed, what attack will they not be equal to? And what place will they not be able to hold?
To officers who have managed badly before (Lin, Keshen, &c.), each have been dismissed; yet if they atone for their crimes and established meritorious deeds hereafter, they may be excused; but if they again lose the opportunity, and ruin my people, and connive with the foreigners, then shall they be treated according to the severest course of law, and I shall be unable to show my further indulgence.
Amongst the multitude of my people there are many valiant men of talent; excite them to a righteous zeal, to preserve themselves and their country; and the officers and troops to recover the lost cities; to guard important passes from the entrance of the robbers; to burn the barbarians' ships, and seize the leaders of the robbers; or to lay hold of the act by the principles of right reason, and announce to all the foreigners, that they cause the English to know, that if they repent, and are able to length of time to establish meritorious deeds, they shall become the recipients of inexhaustible and the greatest favors.
The first affairs is, to prohibit opium, that I may compassionate the people's lives; in opposing the enemy, the which is to preserve the people's lives; I, the Emperor, have night and morning anxious thoughts, and cannot but attend to the most trifling concerns;
all ye ministers should agree together in the measures of managing business, and excite the troops to battle, devising measures, exciting the people to join the ranks, without disorder or hurry; if the civil and military officers act thus we can exclude the barbarian worthless sprouts, sweeping them into the depths of the wide ocean, and give to the people of the empire to enjoy the blessings of peace and tranquility.
This is special as concerning the management of the affairs relating to the barbarians from first to last: for my first thought is to exclude calamities from the people.
A special edict. Let it be made known far and near. Respect this. 4th moon, 27th day (June 5).

Translation by John Slade, Editor of Canton Register.

Source: Chinese: 清實錄道光朝實錄 (Qing Shilu, Daoguangchao Shilu) [The Truthful Record of Qing Dynasty: The Truthful Record of the Reign of Daoguang]. English translation: Murray, Alexander, Doing in China: Being the Personal Narrative of An Officer Engaged in the Late Chinese Expedition, from the Recapture of Chusan in 1841, to the Peace of Nanking in 1842, London, Richard Benntley, 1843.


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