The next day the merchants returned to Mr Anson, and told him that the viceroy was then so fully employed in preparing his dispatches for Pekin, that there was no getting admittance to him for some days, but that they had engaged one of the officers of his court to give them information as soon as he should be at leisure, when they proposed to notify Mr Anson’s arrival, and to endeavour to fix the day of audience. The commodore was by this time too well acquainted with their artifices not to perceive that this was a falsehood; and had he consulted only his own judgment, he would have applied directly to the viceroy by other hands: But the Chinese merchants had so far prepossessed the supercargoes of our ships with chimerical fears, that they were extremely apprehensive of being embroiled with the government, and of suffering in their interest, if those measures were taken, which appeared to Mr Anson at that time to be the most prudential; and, therefore, lest the malice and double-dealing of the Chinese might have given rise to some sinister incident, which would be afterwards charged on him, he resolved to continue passive as long as it should appear that he lost no time by thus suspending his own opinion. With this view, he promised not to take any immediate step for getting admittance to the viceroy, provided the Chinese with whom he contracted for provisions would let him see that his bread was baked, his meat salted, and his stores prepared with the utmost dispatch; but if by the time when all was in readiness to be shipped off (which it was supposed would be in about forty days,) the merchants should not have procured the viceroy’s permission, then, the commodore proposed to apply for himself. These were the terms Mr Anson thought proper to offer, to quiet the uneasiness of the supercargoes, and, notwithstanding the apparent equity of the conditions, many difficulties and objections were urged; nor would the Chinese agree to them till the commodore had consented to pay for every article he bespoke before it was put in hand. However, at last, the contract being past, it was some satisfaction to the commodore to be certain that his preparations were now going on, and being himself on the spot, he took care to hasten them as much as possible.
During this interval, in which the stores and provisions were getting ready, the merchants continually entertained Mr Anson with accounts of their various endeavours to get a license from the viceroy, and their frequent disappointments, which to him was now a matter of amusement, as he was fully satisfied there was not one word of truth in any thing they said. But when all was completed, and wanted only to be shipped, which was about the 24th of November, at which time too the N.E. monsoon was set in, he then resolved to apply himself to the viceroy to demand an audience, as he was persuaded that, without this ceremony, the procuring a permission to send his stores on board would meet with great