The Chinese expedition: a letter from China

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“The following is an extract of a letter from an officer on board the Zuleika, at present in China, to his friends in Leith, describing the reception they met with from the Chinese on their arrival in Odin Bay: –

The letter

“When we arrived here the people of the village had taken away into the interior their wives, families, and all valuables they were possessed of, but leaving undisturbed in their joss-houses their gods to protect themselves, trusting, I suppose, to their imputed sacred character to effect their security, even with barbarians. Before the troops landed, natives came off to the ships with fowls and pigs for sale. They required a good deal of persuasion before they would venture on board. They made signs by tapping their foreheads and reclining their heads on the palms of their hands, which expressed the idea that they thought we wished to inveigle them to kill them. One morning we got two of those Tartar poulterers on board; on stepping from the gangway they immediately wished for fire; having got that, they lit their pipes, and would look at nothing until we all had taken a whiff in amity with them; this ceremony over, they began to survey things about the deck. Right facing them stood two twenty-four pounder howitzers in the carriages; they stared at them for a little while, then pointed in the direction of Pekin, and ejaculated 'bo-omb, bo-omb,' which showed that they knew where we were going, and what we intended to do. They came into the cabin while we were at breakfast, and seemed much delighted. This peaceful state of things on the part of the natives was overthrown by a parcel of Chinese coolies belonging to the expedition. They had gone on shore to dig wells, but one evening, when the day's work was over, they set to pillaging the village and robbing the poor unoffending Tartars of everything, even to their wearing apparel. Upon this they took flight, and next day the village was deserted by them. Then every cottage and joss house was stripped of everything that was portable, and Chinese wooden gods were ruthlessly thrown in the sea or taken on board ship for firewood, or any other use they could be put to. After all was over, the authorities put a provost-martial into the village to put a stop to further looting. Soon after the troops had landed there was a marquee erected, intended for a market, and the natives were invited, with assurances of protection, to bring in their stock and produce. Consequently they came, and got well paid for what they had to sell. They are now gaining confidence by the kindness shown to them, and are bringing in a gradually increasing supply.”
Quoted in the Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (Dublin, Ireland), Saturday, 6 October, 1860.

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Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser
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