Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

In certification of what Commander Foote here says of the opinion of other Americans then in Canton and vicinity in regard to his course of action, the following letter to Captain Foote, signed by influential American residents in China, is of value:

“ Macao, February 9, 1858. “DEAR SIR, — We have been informed that in some of the American newspapers it has been stated in a communication from China that the force taken by you to the factories at Canton, in the month of October, 1856, while difficulties existed between the English and Chinese authorities, was not only not necessary there, but that you were requested to withdraw it. In justice to yourself, we beg to say that of the necessity for the force there, at the period in question, we are fully satisfied, and that it imparted great confidence and security to the Americans generally in Canton. We, of course, can not know if you were requested to remove it, but are convinced that had you done so, the danger to life and property would have been greatly increased.

“We are happy also to avail ourselves of this opportunity to express to you our acknowledgment for the prompt and willing manner in which you have given your assistance and support to your countrymen in this part of China, whenever it seemed to you that you could be of any possible service or that circumstances required them. We remain, dear sir, your friends and countrymen,

“JAMES PURDON & Co. (of Canton)," and others.

The remainder of the cruise of the Portsmouth must be more briefly treated. She dropped down to Hong-Kong, and stayed there until the 1st of January, 1857, when she was sent north to Shang-Haï; and after remaining twenty days at that port, she came south to Ningpo, on account of alleged disturbances there. Commander Foote and his officers were invited to an entertainment by the governor, or Taontai, who pledged himself to protect American lives and property. From Ningpo the Portsmouth proceeded to Foo-Chow, where it was found that the Canton difficulties had not extended to the detriment of our interests. Amoy was the next stopping-place; thence they returned to Hong-Kong on March 14th, having

visited all the Chinese ports north of Canton opened by treaty.

On the 11th of April the Portsmouth sailed once more from Hong Kong to Singapore, her commander being charged with orders to obtain full information in regard to the case of the Dutch bark Henrietta Maria, that had been abandoned at sea by her officers and most of her men, and brought into that port by the American ship Cæur de Lion, in a perilous and constructively piratical condition, for adjudication. . The difficulty was one of salvage with the British civil officer, and involved a somewhat lengthened correspondence between the Governor of Singapore, Edward A. Blundell, Esq., and the commander of the Portsmouth. This business being attended to with his usual thoroughness, Foote set sail May 21st for Bangkok, taking on board Dr. Bradley, bearer of the treaty to the King of Siam. While at Bangkok the officers of the Portsmouth were presented to both kings, and were treated with the highest consideration.

The second king of Siam having made many inquiries about the ship, and manifesting a good deal of interest in ordnance and firearms, Commander Foote invited him to visit the ressel, which he did, although this was the first time that a king of Siam had been aboard a foreign man-of-war. The king came down from Bangkok, forty miles, to where the Portsmouth was anchored, with a suite of twenty princes and nobles, and remained during the day. A grand banquet, taxing the artistic powers of the Portsmouth in this line to the utmost, was got up for the occasion.

The treaties of Siam with the United States, England, and France are fast developing the agricultural resources of the country, especially the culture of sugar; and Commander Foote remarks: “ It is due to the American missionaries to say that, owing to their indirect influence, favorable treaties have been negotiated. Previously to their coming, the Siamese

[blocks in formation]

were almost as exclusive in their commercial policy as the Japanese. Our consul, the Rev. Mr. Mattoon, in consequence of his personal popularity with the kings and officers of state, his knowledge of the langnage and business habits, has exercised a stronger influence upon the government and people than any other foreigner, and to him we are chiefly indebted for the good opinion of Americans which prevails in Siam.” While in Siam, Foote visited the missionaries in state, in order that the natives might be led to pay them more respect.

The Portsinouth returned to Hong-Kong, arriving on the 26th of June, whence she departed a second time for ShangHaï, to carry Consul Bradley to that post. After dry-docking and repairs at Shang-Haï, the good ship, which had seen such continual service, meeting in these long voyages in the China seas many severe storms and typhoons, and once being aground in a dangerous condition in the Min River, set sail from ShangHaï on the 22d of August for Simoda and Hakodadi in Japan. The day before reaching Simoda, breakers ahead were discovered in latitude 34° 14' N., longitude 138° 17' E., not laid down in the charts, and were named “Portsmouth Breakers." If they had been running at night, the cruise of the Portsmouth would have been brought to an abrupt termination. Commander Foote says of Simoda :

“The appearance of Simoda, in fact the entire country around, is beautiful. Deep ravines lie between the mountain ranges, while the highly cultivated terraced fields stretch up to the very hill-tops. Again, green thickets were seen creeping up the valleys; and lawns of verdant turf here and there overlapped the precipices. The town added no beauty to the scenery. As soon as we had anchored, a large boat came alongside, with four officials high in rank, who in the name of the governors—bear in mind the duality of the Japanese-gave us a courteous and cordial welcome. These representatives were inquisitive, and manifested a degree of intelligence corresponding to their courtesy. We were favorably impressed with the cleanliness of the officials and of their men and boat, which their celestial' neighbors might do well to copy."

Many incidental remarks occur in Foote's journal respecting the Japanese, whom he seems to have studied, and their history, with great interest in the brief time he was in Japan

-some of which seem almost to have suggested the wonderful development of that people in these late years. He writes that on a visit to the Governor of Simoda, “one of them remarked that he hoped the day was not far distant when the Japanese would visit America; they readily admit our superiority, and seem to be strongly impressed by our country.” Hakodadi was also visited, which place pleased the commander even better than Simoda. He remarks upon its spacious harbor, completely land - locked, and capable of containing two hundred sail in an anchorage of from five to twelve fathoms. He thought it the most desirable harbor, in point of security and health, for a man-of-war that he had ever visited. Its position in relation to California, and to Russia and the Amoor River, make it a port of trade and supply of great importance to our government, far preferable to Simoda, whose harbor is too small to admit of more than five or six vessels obtaining a good anchorage. A feast was given to the Governor of Hakodadi and his suite on board ship, where the oblique-eyed natives did straight justice to their fare, and handled knife and fork with an intuitive dexterity. The hospitality was not, however, very generously returned. The supply of bullocks fell short, and since, as Commander Foote remarks,“ beef sometimes involves a principle," a peremptory demand for fresh beef, with the guns of the Portsmouth to back it, brought at once an abundant supply. Our hero was shorter than some in his diplomacy with the Orientals, and, it may be added, more successful. After placing a buoy at the termination of the spit which forms the harbor of Hakodadi, rendering the entrance easier than when Commodore Perry visited this port, Foote sailed for Hong-Kong, which he reached October 26th, after a passage of sixteen days. On his passage, he speaks of

Correspondence with the Kings of Siam.

131

the phosphorescent appearance of the sea in a heavy gale of wind at night as resembling immense banks or shoals.of snow in constant motion. At Hong-Kong he learned of the fall of Delhi, and of the approaching end of the Indian rebellion. While lying here he also received an interesting letter from the second king of Siam, the English of which is remarkably good. In his answer to this royal epistle, he says: “It is impossible to say where we shall cruise for the future. We all hope to go home in the course of five or six months. A sealife is monotonous as well as dangerous in these seas of typhoons and currents and shoals. I presume that your majesty will cruise about the Gulf of Siam in the man-of-war yacht. You will certainly work chronometer and meridian observations well. You will also take lunar observations. The vessel will be as well navigated as any in the China seas should your majesty handle the instruments.” Our bluff sailor knew how to pay a compliment when the time for it came. A letter was addressed by him to the first king of Siam in acknowledgment of the gift of a gold and silver cigar-case, which was accompanied by an autograph letter; and still another epistle to the second king, dated January 11, 1858, informing him of the bombardment and capture of Canton by the combined forces of the English and French, with a stately letter from the first king, received during the civil war in America, deploring the war, but giving all his sympathies to the cause of the Union, closed this curious correspondence, which seems to have originated purely from personal liking or friendship, and had nothing of an official character.

In December, 1857, the Portsmouth ran twice over to Macao, once to carry Mr. Reed, the American minister, and suite, and a second time to protect American citizens during the assault of the English forces on Canton. In February, Commander Foote left Hong-Kong for Manilla, and there quite unexpectedly received orders for home. He sailed March 5th for Anjer,

« AnteriorContinuar »