Not only was this terrible rebellion which laid waste the fairest provinces a sequel to the first war with England, it was prolonged and aggravated by a second war which broke out in 1857. In 1863, the last stronghold of the rebels was recaptured, and the rebellion finally suppressed, after twelve years of dismal carnage. In bringing about this result, no names are more conspicuous than those of Li Hung Chang and General Gordon, whose sobriquet of “Chinese Gordon” ever afterwards characterized him. Li’s good fortune served him well in this war. Having won the favor of the Court, he was in command of the forces of eastern Kiangsu, and all the brilliant successes of Ward and Gordon were credited to him. He was not only made governor of the province, but also created an Earl in perpetuity.
THE “ARROW” WAR; THE TREATIES.
Never did a smaller spark ignite a greater conflagration. In 1856 a native junk named the “Arrow,” sailing under a British flag, was seized for piracy, her flag hauled down and her crew thrown into prison at Canton. On demand of Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong, they were handed over to Consul Parkes (later Sir Harry); but he refused to receive them because they were not accompanied by a suitable apology. The haughty Viceroy Yeh put them all to death, provoking reprisals on the part of the British, resulting in the occupation of Canton and the capture of Peking after three campaigns to the north.
In this war England had France for ally; as the two powers had been associated in that hugest of blunders, the Crimean War. Nor was the alliance a less blunder on this occasion. Napoleon’s excuse for participation was the murder of a missionary in Kwangsi; but his real motive was a desire to checkmate Great Britain, and prevent the conquest of new territory. In the Opium War she had stopped at Nanking, leaving the pride of China unhumbled, and the state of relations so unstable that another war was required to place them on a better footing. England, with unselfish generosity, invited the co-operation of Russia and the United States. Either power might have found as good a pretext for hostile action as that of France; but they chose to maintain an attitude of neutrality, offering only such moral support as might enable them to gather up the apples after the others had shaken the tree. In 1857 Canton was taken and held by the allies. The next spring the envoys of the four powers, each with a considerable naval force, proceeded to the mouth of the Peiho, the gateway to a capital as secluded and exclusive as that of the Grand Lama. The forts made a show of resistance, but they were put to silence in less than half an hour; and negotiations which had been opened by the neutrals were resumed at Tientsin.