Before China dips below the horizon in our onward march I will give a further instance of the actions to which Britain’s commercial policy led.

According to the treaty of Tien-tsen, made in 1858 by Lord Elgin and Baron Gros on behalf of Great Britain and France respectively, both countries were to be represented at the Chinese Court by envoys. In March 1859 Mr. Frederick Bruce (brother of Lord Elgin) was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to China, with orders to proceed by Peiho to Tien-tsen and thence to Pekin to exchange the ratification of the treaty.

As the then Foreign Secretary, Lord Malmesbury, anticipated strong objections on the part of the Chinese to the presence of an Envoy in Pekin, he impressed upon Mr. Bruce the necessity of not being put off, and the naval commander-in-chief out there was instructed to provide a sufficient naval force to convey the Envoy to the mouth of the Peiho.

For what followed I will quote Justin McCarthy’s “A Short History of Our Own Times” (already referred to on several occasions) page 234 :

“The entrance to the Peiho was defended by the Taku Forts. On June 2Oth, 1859, Mr. Bruce and the French Envoy reached the mouth of the Peiho with Admiral Hope’s fleet, some nineteen vessels in all, to escort them. They found the forts defended ; some negotiations and inter-communications took place, and a Chinese official from Tien-tsen came to Mr. Bruce and endeavoured to obtain some delay or compromise. Mr. Bruce became convinced that the condition of things predicted by Lord Malmesbury was coming about, and that the Chinese Authorities were only trying to defeat his purpose. He called on Admiral Hope to clear a passage for his vessels. When the Admiral brought up his vessels the forts opened fire. The Chinese artillerymen showed unexpected skill and precision. Four of the gunboats were almost immediately disabled. All the attacking vessels got aground. Admiral Hope attempted to storm the forts. The attempt was a complete failure,
It seems only fair to say that the Chinese at the mouth of the Peiho cannot be accused of perfidy. They had mounted the forts and barricaded the river openly and even ostentatiously. The English Admiral knew for days and days that the forts were armed, and that the passage of the river was obstructed. Some of the English officers who were actually engaged in the attempt of Admiral Hope frankly repudiated the idea of any treachery on the part of the Chinese, or any surprise on their own side.”

Accordingly, after this fiasco, France and England, in the time-dishonoured fashion, sent out an army which, after various successes, marched upon Pekin. The Chinese then endeavoured to enter into peace negotiations. Before the negotiations took place, however, several English and French were seized under a flag of truce and sent to various prisons, where, as a result of ill-treatment, thirteen died. This fact may appear bad against the Chinese, but the reader must bear in mind the injustices China had already suffered (one or two of which have been narrated in these articles) from the Europeans-which had aroused their hatred, and also the unprovoked invasion of their country, or, in the “Great War” terminology, the “violation” of their “territory.” It is further necessary to bear in mind that the customs and practices during warfare of a native population such as the Chinese differ, from those of the Western nations, and the former, therefore, cannot be judged according to Western standards of morality.”

However, the gentle manner in which the agents of the European Governments initiated the Chinese into their code of morals (which they do not adhere to themselves !) will be gathered from the following further quotation from McCarthy (p. 236) :

“It was only after entering the city that Lord Elgin learned of the murder of the captives. He then determined that the Summer Palace should be burnt down as a means of impressing the minds of the Chinese Authorities generally with some sense of the danger of treachery and foul play. Two days were occupied in the destruction of the palace. It covered an area of many miles. Gardens, temples, small lodges, and pagodas, groves, grottoes, lakes, bridges, terraces, artificial hills, diversified the vast space. All the artistic treasures, all the curiosities, archeo-logical and other, that Chinese wealth and Chinese taste, such as it was, could bring together, had been accumulated in this magnificent palace. The surrounding scenery was beautiful. The high mountains of Tartary ramparted one side of the enclosure. The buildings were set on fire; the whole place was given over to destruction.”

Who were the first “Huns” and “Vandals” ? Could Louvain or any other case hold a candle to this tremendous destructive revenge perpetrated by the ‘”cultured” nations ? But I forget—this was simply a means of impressing Christian civilisation on the heathen Chinee!

McCarthy concludes with the somewhat cynical remark—

“Perhaps the most important gain to Europe from the war was the knowledge that Pekin was not by any means so large a city as we had all imagined it to be, and that it was on the whole rather a crumb­ling and tumble-down sort of place.”



From China to Australasia.

A thousand miles off the coast of Queensland lies the group of volcanic islands known as the New Hebrides, which were discovered by Capt. Cook in 1771. When these islands first came within the ken of Europeans they were inhabited by simple, timid, and trusting savages. In the wake of Cook, however, followed the usual double-dealing sandalwood and other traders to fleece and “civilise” the natives.

Originally the native population of these islands was put at some hundred thousand souls, but the cankering influence of the civilised nations has year by year reduced the population.

During 1906 England and France entered a convention for the more thorough exploitation of these islands, and an examination of the correspondence relating thereto (Cd 3288, published in 1907) brings to light some interesting facts as to the condition of affairs and the exceeding happiness thrown upon the natives by the shadow of “our” great British Empire !

Article VIII. of the regulations lays it down that natives shall not be able to become citizens or even subjects of the two signatory powers but yet shall be compelled to obey all police regulations and other laws made by the Powers.

Articles XLII,. XLVII., and XLIX. deal with a labourer who has been idle or absent without leave or has been unusually slow or stupid, or has broken any of his owners’ rules, or has refused to obey an order of his task-masters, some of whom may be New Caledonian convicted criminals. In any of these cases he may be fined or imprisoned or his term may be lengthened. A labourer who escapes from bondage is to be seized and forcibly returned to his owner. No one may harbour a refugee or give him work or food or help him to escape.

The natives work fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, for a wage of 10s. per mouth. No compensation is allowed for death or injury.

The Aborigines Protection Society have republished the investigations of M. Pierre Bernus, which originally appeared in the French Press in 1913. He says :

“The great anxiety of the settlers is to recruit native labour. This becomes every day more difficult, for, from a variety of causes, the population is going down. . . . It is very probable that if they offered the natives fair wages and assured them of humane treatment, the settlers would get the labour they need, but the natives are treated like beasts of burden, and even this is a euphemism, for beasts of burden are taken care of. Their work is overwhelming and their wages ridiculously small, often paid in kind, contrary to the terms of the regulations. It has become nearly impossible to obtain voluntary labour, and so one of the most disgusting forms of slavery has been established to procure labourers. The settlers equip a boat and go from island to island ; sometimes by craft and sometimes by violence they seize the native men and women whom they want. This is what the English call kidnapping, or as we call it in good French, “La Traite.” Women and young girls are forcibly taken away from their husbands or relatives, and often find themselves at the mercy of the savage crews of the ships before they are sent to the plantations. Cases of sheer violence are numerous and are established by irrefutable documents. . . .
In truth the slave trade is re-established under the most abominable conditions, and it is tolerated by the authorities, who look upon kidnapping as an offence of no importance. . . . When taken to the plantations the natives are there treated like slaves during the years of their pretended contract of engagement They are detained by force and cruelly flogged if they try to escape. If a labourer succeeds in running away, his comrades are subjected to a long term of servitude. What difference is there between this and the slavery of old times ?”

Now one last quotation just to buckle the case—and this one shall be from an eminently religious source which is, of course, above, all doubt !

The “Daily News and Leader” published (15.8.13) an article relating to a document received from a conference of Protestant Churches in the New Hebrides, held at Paam. The following extracts from this article give further information for working-class archives of the oppression of the toilers. The document states :

“The time has come when we can no longer refrain from calling the attention of the people of the British Empire to the deplorable condition of things existing in this group of islands. . . .
A Frenchman named Le C——, it is related, was indicted before the French National Court on July 16, 1912, for the murder of a Santo native named Nip at Big Bay, Santo, in the month of October, 1911. It appeared from the evidence of six natives and a white man that Le C——, who was the captain of a small recruiting ship called the St. Joseph, was at anchor near the shore ; several natives came on board for the purpose of trading, or partly out of curiosity. Le C—— suddenly pulled up anchor and hoisted sail. There was then a scene of some disturbance, the natives protesting against their being taken away. The boy Nip jumped overboard, apparently with the object of swimming ashore. Le C—— fired two shots at him with his revolver. Blood was seen by six of the witnesses on the boy’s neck. He was seen to struggle for a moment and then disappeared from view, and has never been seen again.
The Court found Le C—— guilty of common assault, and under Article 311 of the French penal code he was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment with the benefit of the First Offenders Act, and walked out of the Court a free man. . .
It has been the glory of Britain that wherever the flag flies the native born has in course of time been brought under elevating influences. Here, on the contrary, the things that make for degradation and oppression are still operative. Grog selling, illegal recruiting, and kidnapping are as rife as ever, and there is no improvement in the moral situation so far as governmental initiative is concerned.
The majority of French plantations furnish examples of an exploitation which can only be denominated slavery.”

Such are the doings of our great and good masters in the New Hebrides.



We have arrived in New Zealand, the land of the Maori—until the white man appropriated it !

In 1862 the Maoris rebelled against the inroads of the colonists. It was the old tale—the last stand of the natives against the grasping policy of the Western traders, land-grabbers, and exterminators of native populations.

I think I cannot do better than give an account of the insurrection in the words of Justin McCarthy (p. 253) :

“The tribe of the Waikatos, living near Auckland, . in the Northern Island, began a movement against the colonists, and. this became before long a general rebellion of the Maori natives. The Maoris are a… remarkably intelligent race, and are skilful in war as well as in peace. They had a certain literary art among them ; they could all, or nearly all, read and write ; many of them were eloquent and could display considerable diplomatic skill. They fought so well in this instance that the British troops actually suffered a somewhat serious repulse in endeavouring to take one of the Maori palisado-fortified villages. In the end, however, the Maoris were of course defeated. The quarrel was a survival of a long-standing dispute between the colonists and the natives about land. It was, in fact, the old story : the colonists eager to increase their stock of land, and the natives jealous to guard their quickly vanishing possessions. The events led to grave discussion in Parliament. The Legislature of New Zealand passed enactments confiscating some nine million acres of the native lands, and giving the Colonial Government something like absolute and arbitrary power of arrest and imprisonment. The Government at home proposed to help the colonists by a guarantee to raise a loan of one million to cover the expenses of the war, or the colonial share of them, and this proposal was keenly discussed in the House of Commons. The Government passed their Guarantee Bill, not without many a protest from both sides of the House that colonists who readilv engaged in quarrels with the natives must at some time or other be prepared to bear the expenses entailed by their own policy.”

Before continuing our tour I will just remind the reader of a recent incident that occured in New Zealand, this time not to the natives, but to our white fellow slaves.

The “Daily News and Leader” contained certain reflections of the effect of Compulsory Military Service under the Defence Act in New Zealand, from which the following is culled :

“numerous were the youths who elected to go to prison rather than pay the fines, that the usual places of incarceration became too small, and for a time they were confined two in a cell. Afterwards the Military Fortress of Pipa Island was utilized, and those whose conscience forbade their undertaking military duties were removed thither.
The life of a prisoner on this island is anything but pleasant, according to Mr. Worrall’s story to a “Daily News” representative. Twenty-three hours of the day are spent in solitary confinement, half an hour each in the morning and evening being set apart for exercise. The little food allowed is of indifferent quality, and on one occasion the prisoners resorted to a hunger strike, demanding either sufficient and good food or none.
On conviction only the initial offence is expunged, and refusal to enrol at the time of liberation means, certain re-arrest. Thus a lad convicted at the age of 14 might spend the next sixteen years of his life in the Fortress.”

Yes, dear friends, this happened within the pale of the Great and Glorious Freedom-Loving British Empire and, note well, before the commencement of the European war.

Well, I have no doubt you will all rush to crush Prussian militarism after the above instance of British freedom !

Come, pull up your socks, and we’ll seek scenes fresh, and pastures new.


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