Though the ships, in consequence of the Viceroy’s permit, found no difficulty in purchasing provisions for their daily consumption, yet it was impossible for the Commodore to proceed to England without laying in a large quantity both of provisions and stores for his use during the voyage. The procuring this supply was attended with much embarrassment, for there were people at Canton who had undertaken to furnish him with biscuit and whatever else he wanted, and his linguist, towards the middle of September, had assured him from day to day that all was ready and would be sent on board him immediately. But a fortnight being elapsed, and nothing being brought, the Commodore sent to Canton to enquire more particularly into the reasons of this disappointment, and he had soon the vexation to be informed that the whole was an illusion; that no order had been procured from the Viceroy to furnish him with his sea stores, as had been pretended; that there was no biscuit baked, nor any one of the articles in readiness which had been promised him; nor did it appear that the contractors had taken the least step to comply with their agreement. This was most disagreeable news, and made it suspected that the furnishing the Centurion for her return to Great Britain might prove a more troublesome matter than had been hitherto imagined; especially, too, as the month of September was nearly elapsed without Mr. Anson’s having received any message from the Viceroy of Canton.
It were endless to recount all the artifices, extortions, and frauds, which were practised on the Commodore and his people by the Chinese. The method of buying all things in China being by weight, the tricks made use of by them to increase the weight of the provision they sold to the Centurion were almost incredible. One time, a large quantity of fowls and ducks being brought for the ship’s use, the greatest part of them presently died. This alarmed the people