Whilst the Commodore and his people were labouring at the fire, and the terror of its becoming general still possessed the whole city, several of the most considerable Chinese merchants came to Mr. Anson to desire that he would let each of them have one of his soldiers (for such they styled his boat’s crew from the uniformity of their dress) to guard their warehouses and dwelling-houses, which, from the known dishonesty of the populace, they feared would be pillaged in the tumult. Mr. Anson granted them this request, and all the men that he thus furnished to the Chinese behaved greatly to the satisfaction of their employers, who afterwards highly applauded their great diligence and fidelity. By this means the resolution of the English at the fire, and their trustiness and punctuality elsewhere, was the subject of general conversation amongst the Chinese, and the next morning many of the principal inhabitants waited on the Commodore to thank him for his assistance, frankly owning to him that they could never have extinguished the fire of themselves, and that he had saved their city from being totally consumed. And soon after a message came to the Commodore from the Viceroy, appointing the 30th of November for his audience, which sudden resolution of the Viceroy, in a matter that had been so long agitated in vain, was also owing to the signal services performed by Mr. Anson and his people at the fire, of which the Viceroy himself had been in some measure an eye-witness. The fixing this business of the audience was, on all accounts, a circumstance which Mr. Anson was much pleased with, as he was satisfied that the Chinese Government would not have determined this point without having agreed among themselves to give up their pretensions to the duties they claimed, and to grant him all he could reasonably ask; for, as they well knew the Commodore’s sentiments, it would have been a piece of imprudence not consistent with the refined cunning of the Chinese to have admitted him to an audience only to have contested with him.
At ten o’clock in the morning, on the day appointed, a mandarin came to the Commodore to let him know that the Viceroy was ready to receive him, on which the Commodore and his retinue immediately set out. And as soon as he entered the outer gate of the city, he found a guard of two hundred soldiers drawn up ready to attend him; these conducted him to the great parade before the Emperor’s palace, where the Viceroy then resided. In this parade a body of troops, to the number of ten thousand, were drawn up under arms, and made a very fine appearance, being all of them new clothed for this ceremony, and Mr. Anson and his retinue having passed through the middle of them, he was then conducted to the great hall of audience, where he found the Viceroy seated under a