Monday, January 5, 2015

Henry Pottinger Letter to William Parker and Hugh Gough (8/17/1842)

Their Excellencies Vice-Admiral Sir W. Parker, K.C.B., and Lieut.-General sir Hugh Gough, G.C.B., Commander-in-chief.

Gentlemen, - It affords me great satisfaction to have it in my power to inform you that my negotiations with the Chinese high officials who have been appointed by the Emperor to treat for peace, have advanced to that state that authorizes me to beg that you will consider hostilities suspended.

I had hoped to have been able some days earlier to make this communication to your excellencies, but the necessity for carefully translating the already voluminous correspondence which I have had with the Chinese Commissioners, as well as for replying in Chinese (translations) to all their memorials and messages, together with the distance which we are from the city, and which precludes more than one daily communication back and forward, have combined to unavoidably prolonging my proceedings.

The Treaty is now, however, drafted in English and Chinese, and will this day be sent to the High Imperial Commissioners. After they have finally acceded to its tenor and forms (which latter are difficult to convey in a Chinese translation), it is to be signed by those high officers and myself, and then dispatched to Peking for the Emperor's assent, which it is estimated will be received back here in about twelve or fourteen days from the date of its dispatch, so that we cannot, at the soonest, reckon on a final reply in less than three weeks from this date.

The high commissioners would be very glad to persuade me to act at once on the provisions of the treaty, by requesting your excellencies to withdraw the ships and troops, but I have distinctly informed them that that cannot be done; and it is almost needless for me to say that, in the (I trust most improbable) event of the Emperor declining to confirm the acts of his commissioners, it will then become necessary to renew hostilities with increased vigor.

I have etc.,
Henry Pottinger.
Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary.
Steam Frigate, Queen, off Nanking, 17th August, 1842.

Source: 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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