Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

made more secure for English commerce. At the same time, England had prolonged the existence of the Ottoman Empire.

“ The war may perhaps secure peace in the east of Europe for the next twenty-five years,” Lord Aberdeen said. The practical gain from the war belonged, in the end, to England, notwithstanding her disappointments and failures, while the military glory fell to the share of France, intoxicated too often with successes in which are lacking the elements of real and lasting advantage.

CHAPTER IX.

THE INDIAN MUTINY.

[ocr errors]

THE important advantages which she alone had derived from

the Crimean war did not console England for the feeling of humiliation which weighed upon her. Her army's exploits had been glorious; the indomitable courage of her soldiers had been conspicuous in every engagement; the nation's strength and her liberality had been displayed before the eyes of Europe in all the phases of the struggle, but the broad daylight of free speech and a free press had revealed the faults of generals as well as the courage of the troops, the incapacity of the administration as well as the wealth of the country, which had, in the end, supplied all deficiencies, so that at the close of the war the English soldiers were better fed and better cared for than those of England's allies. The national pride still suffered keenly from those early failures in management which had revealed to England and to the entire world how serious was the disorganization into which the army of Great Britain had fallen during the long years of peace; the national pride was wounded by the last military episode of the war, terminating, as it did, immediately after a disaster suffered by the English troops. This jealous susceptibility soon showed itself in the dissensions which broke out at the close of the year 1856 between England and China, and it weighed heavily in the political balance of the home government.

A little boat - a lorcha, to use the local designation — had taken the name, the “Arrow," and sailed under the English flag.

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

Her crew was composed of Chinese, who occupied themselves in piracy. She was boarded in the river Canton by Chinese officers, and most of her sailors were arrested. The owners of the lorcha maintained that she was registered as an English vessel, and the English consul at Canton demanded that the sailors should be set at liberty. The Chinese governor, Yeh, formally refused. The registration of the “ Arrow” had expired a few days before, and, in respect to the flag, the Chinese governor argued in this way: “A Chinese lorcha buys an English flag," he said; “does that make her an English vessel ?” Upon this the English consul appealed to Sir John Bowring, the English plenipotentiary at Hong Kong, and the latter, with decision, supported the demand of the consul and the pirates' claims: “It is no matter whether the lorcha • Arrow' had the right to fly the English flag or not; the Chinese government had not the right to board a vessel protected by the colors of Great Britain.” Notwithstanding this haughty declaration, the Chinese authorities still declined to give up the prisoners, and Sir John Bowring ordered the bombardment of Canton by the English fleet. Upon this, Commissioner Yeh offered a reward for the head of every Englishman. From the 23d of October to the 13th of November the town was besieged; the suburbs were destroyed, the forts reduced, and many Chinese war vessels captured. The English plenipotentiary was believed to have been actuated by a childish desire to make a formal entry into Canton.

Upon the opening of the session of Parliament in February, 1857, the royal speech announced that war had existed for seyeral months between Great Britain and China.

Her Majesty informed the country that the insults offered to the British flag, and the infractions of treaties by the local authorities at Canton, had obliged her officers in China to have recourse to force in order to obtain the satisfaction which was refused them. On the 24th of February, Lord Derby brought forward in the

« AnteriorContinuar »