After the First Opium War ended successfully for England with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, Gunnery Lieutenant James Fitzjames of the HMS Cornwallis composed a poem about the whole affair. His poem was published in The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle between 1842-1844, under the pseudonym of Tom Bowline.
This name was an interesting choice: Tom Bowline was a generic name for a sailor, but also a name that was given to boys conceived on the ship’s deck during a debaucherous stay in a port. (Battersby, pp. 139-140) Illegitimate boys…
So how do we know that it was Fitzjames who wrote this poem?
The answer lies in the correspondence of Fitzjames with John Barrow jr. The entire correspondence had been given by Barrow Jr. to Sir Clements Markham, after whose death it remains in the Royal Geographical Society’s archive until this day. Included among the correspondence is the entire Voyage of the HMS Cornwallis poem, extracted from The Nautical Magazine. Above the first page Barrow Jr. wrote “Verses by Fitzjames”.
But the ultimate proof lies in an undated letter to Barrow Jr. sent from Bombay in which Fitzjames himself mentions that he is the author of the poem:
“You will perceive that
at Ching Kiang I could not
help introducing myself
Which is as well — as people
might otherwise have
fancied I wrote them.
My friends out here
want me to publish them
all in a separate book.”
He says of the poem:
“It is sad trash however
though laughable sometimes”
Fitzjames ends his letter by saying “Let the Nautical have all you have got”, which must mean that Barrow Jr. was the one forwarding Fitzjames’ poem to The Nautical Magazine for publication.
Letter extracts ©Royal Geographical Society, reproduced here for educational purposes.
“My poor rhyme, which like a bad pun,
The worser it is; more better the fun.”
THE VOYAGE OF THE HMS CORNWALLIS
CANTO THE FIRST
From Hong-Kong to Chusan against the North-East Monsoon, in the Winter of 1841-2.
I wrote to you last, my dear friend, from Hong-kong,
And our voyage to Chusan has not been very long—
If you only just take into consideration,
That the north-east monsoon causes much botheration:
Such reefing of sails, and such sailing by reefs,
And such currents to drift one, are past all belief.
The month was December, the day twenty-eight
When we sailed from Hong-kong at a deuce of a rate!
Four days took us into the Babuyan Isles,
When a gale drove us back about three hundred miles,
The ship is crammed full of shot, rockets, and bread,
And dived down so deeply she stove in her head:
To our caterer’s great joy the pigs were all out,
For, if one had been lost he’d have set up a shout.
At last through the haze Formosa was seen,
Or, Tai-ouan (an isle off the coast of Fokien).
The ship was then shoved ’twixt Gadd’s reef and Tobago,(1)
Where if you have luck, in safety you may go.(2)
We now were well out in the Western Pacific,
When a northerly gale made us all rather sea-sick,
(The last words I assure you are merely for rhyme,
For we’ve been out at sea a precious long time.
Seven months are now gone, since Old England we’ve seen,
And the days spent in harbour are barely nineteen.)
We then stood east by south for three days at the most.
And quickly regained the time we had lost,
For an easterly wind took us past Ty-pin-san
In two days exactly,—then was fair for Chusan.
This breeze took us on two days more in good style,
But again we were doom’d to be stopped for a while.
A north-westerly gale, (without current however,)
Taught vs all once again, not to trust in the weather.
We stretched over at last, without striking a rock,
And anchored one night off Patch-he-cock.
From thence we had water quite smooth all the way,
And went up with flood tides in two days to Tinghae.
We here found our chief whom we’d been so long hunting,
From our masthead now floats, the “bit of red bunting.”
The old Wellesley is here, (but soon bids us adieu,)
Also Pelican, Blonde, and a steamer or two.
The Blenheim has sailed with the great Plenipo;
The rest of the squadron are up at Ningpo.
There was pretty good fighting before we arrived,
But Celestials are not to be taken alive;
They fought very well—then took to their legs,
When they look’d at our shells, (which they call “devil’s eggs.”)
So here we are moored, just three weeks from Hong kong,
Which brings me to nearly the end of my song,
The Chinese are the funniest beggars I’ve seen,
With long tails and thick shoes, and are not very clean.
In fact they have much of the pole-cat about ’em,
For they smell very strong whenever you rout ’em.
They eat all sorts of dirt—rats, sharks’ fins, and dogs,
Cats, lizards, and snakes, and mostly partial to hogs.
They call one a name, which signifies brother,
And we get on together well—somehow or other.
For coats—they wear bed-gowns, which mostly are blue;
Those, at least, that we’ve seen from Ting hae and Hang-choo.
We get plenty of rice, fowls, eggs, and chow-chow’
But no milk to our tea, though so near to My-cow.(3)
We were fried in the summer, now we’re frozen alive,
For the glass has been seen much below twenty-five.
The consequence is, that pea-jackets are riz;
But that must soon end, or we shall soon all be friz!
What is next to be done, I know no more than you,
But we hear ’tis intended to take Hang-choo-foo,
In six weeks or two months, when the cold’s had its fling,
And then we all hope to go up to Nanking.
Should the sun and moon’s brother not then cry “peccavi.”
There’ll be plenty more work for the army and navy.
I now come to a close—as left there is no line,
So believe me as ever, yours truly,
(1) Off the south-east end of Formosa
(2) There was an old man of Tobago,
Who lived on rice, gruel, and sago;
The doctor one day,
Unto him did say,
To a roast ‘eg of mutton you may go.
Canto the Second
The Attack at Tsekee, on the 15th of March, 1842
My last letter described in a summary way,
Cornwallis’s cruise from Hong-Kong to Tinghae,
I now purpose to give you a bit of a spree,
We had t’other day at the town of Tsekee.
But first it is perfectly right you should know,
The Chinese made a furious attack on Ningpo,
Some six or eight thousand came on in the night,
Burst in one of the gates, but were soon put to flight—
By a little three pounder, well loaded with grape
Fired right in amongst them, they were glad to escape;
But many remained in the streets till next day,
Piled one above t’other like trusses of hay.
They were beat at all points with terrible slaughter,
Though they made an attack on the shipping by water,
By sending down boats full of powder and wood,
Which made a great blaze, but all to no good.
The troops were embarked from the town of Ningpo,
As soon as t’was settled which way we should go.
In number twelve hundred, blue jackets and all,
The Admiral’s flag being carried by Hall
In the Nemesis steamer, as also Sir Hugh,
So a fight was intended we very well knew.
Our squadron of ships, at least steamers I mean,
Consisted of Phlegethon, Nemesis, Queen;
While the boats of the Columbine, Blonde, and Modeste
Cornwallis, Sesostris, completed the rest.
With these bvats all in tow, up the river we flew,
And managed to land all the soldiers by two.
Off we started in column, our hearts full of glee,
A capital road leading on to Tsekee.
Behind which as we marched we could easily spy
The tents of the enemy, perched up on high.
On nearing the town some firing began,
So ladders were planted, and up them we ran,
Then round on the walls, at pretty good rate,
But meeting with no one came out at the gate,
The Chinese on the tops of two hills were now seen,
A road leading between, through a sort of ravine,
Here rushed “forty-ninth” with Sir Hugh at their head,
The naval brigade by Sir William was led,
And passing along at the foot of the walls,
Were exposed to a pretty good pepper of balls,—
From matchlocks and gingalls all worked in good style,
From the tops of the hills with loud shouts all the while.
Rockets, arrows, and balls thick as hail came across us,
(We found a large store next day in the joss-house,)
Our party was covered by rockets, (three-pounder,)
As over the paddy fields now they did flounder.
Here many poor fellows were laid on their back,
The marines under Captain (now Major Uniacke).
Close under some houses for a short time took shelter,
Excepting two squads who went up helter-skelter,
Under one of our officers, Elliot by name,
(Poor Hambly was shot in the foot—so was lame).
With the Admiral up went Captains Richards and Watson,
Bourchier, Whittingham, Tennant, and also his Cox’an.
At the top of the hill they made a slight stand,
When Hodgson received a deep cut in the hand,
For a great big Chinese in the midst of the Melee
Made a furious assault, but got stuck in the belly:
The tide was now turned, down the hill they all ran,
And those who delayed were shot to a man.
So much for the left hill, let us look to the right
Where a much larger force were soon put to flight—
By “Eighteenth” “Twenty-sixth” and the Rifle Brigade,
Whilst over their heads the artillery played.
Colonel Knowles drove his rockets night into their camp
So that mob was equally glad to decamp.
And now there was seen a regular race,
All the rest of the force having joined in the chase,
While to make it more certain and settle it well,
The steamers began to play on them with shell,
Having found a canal up which they had run,
and arrived just in time to partake in the fun.
The face of the hills and beneath in the plains,
Were strewed with Chinese, mostly shot through the brains.
Each man who is shot of course down he goes,
And the light of his match makes a blaze of his clothes.
One can see at a glance all the wounded and killed,
By the smoke which curls up from the grilling and grilled.
A Chinese field of battle is terrible work,
And oh! such a horrible smell of roast pork!
Our men being now pretty tired of fight,
Made their beds in the enemy’s camp for the night.
Caps, jackets, and matchlocks, lay scattered about,
Peacocks’ feathers, and swords, thrown away in the rout.
Another large camp was not far off we learnt,
(Before starting next day a large store house was burnt
As also the tents, and some arms being found
Near a Mandarins house, it was burnt to the ground.)
A walk of six miles brought us up to a range
Of high and steep hills, the sight was most strange
To see soldiers and sailors, holding on by the roots
Of the trees, climbing up like a parcel of goats.
When we got to the top, the camp was deserted,
So in vain as we found all our strength was exerted.
In a grove of bamboos a large store house was fired,
Then to Tsekee we marched all pretty well tired.
The feast of St. Patrick, which happened next day,
Sent the General back without further delay.
Here ends my poor rhyme, which like a bad pun,
”The worser it is; more better the fun.” —T. B.
H.M.S. Cornwallis, Chusan, 1st April, 1842.
Canto the Third
The Attack on Chapoo, on the 18th, of May, 1842
Cornwallis at last, has had something to do
For since I last wrote we have taken Chapoo;
From the fight at Tze-kee at we Chusan we lay
Seven weeks: and then anchored at “Just-in-the-way.”
Here we gathered our to make a good show
Every man was withdrawn from the town of Ningpo.
The Chinese had of late kept us on the qui-vive,
After what they had seen. You will scarcely believe
That one night, as we quietly lay in Chusan,
Fire rafts through the southernmost passages ran,
Which were none of them seen in the darkness of night,
Till the harbour burst out in a fine blaze of light.
In they came! some two or three hundred in number,
Now and then one blew up with a noise loud as thunder.
They consisted of two or three boats lashed together,
Filled with powder, saltpetre, and bundles of leather.
Such a noise to be sure! such shouting and screaming,
(Broad lights on the face of the smooth water gleaming;)
Here and there a large raft was seen to explode,
Threatning quite to destroy all our ships as they rode.
But our boats towed them all from the vessels quite clear,
Though some of them certainly passed rather near.
They then drifted on shore in all parts of the bay,
And some were still burning and smoking next day.
A small fleet which intended another surprise,
Before being fired were settled by Wise.
The China men also got into a plan,
If they caught by himself an unfortunate man,
(Having first of all stopped up his mouth with a gag,)
Of walking him off on a pole in a bag.
For taking the ships so close in to Chapoo,
We’re indebted to Kellett and Collinson, who
By dint of hard work, perseverance, and sounding,
Anchored all of us close to the shore, without grounding.
The currents are rapid. The water quite shallow,
And so full of mud that the colour is yellow.
The town is commanded by hills,—a low range
Which stretch to the east. That they might arrange
On the plan of attack, Sirs William and Hugh
Reconnoitred the place, and had a good view
Of the sort of defences the Tartars had made,
Comprising a six foot high gingall stockade.
Two miles from the town, about half a mile long,
We could plainly distinguish the heads of the throng
As they crouched the whole length of the hills and the dales;
With their banners and spears, their buttons and tails.
On the hill next the town were two forts with brass cannon,
At the town, one was spied as the two steamers ran on.
Before four o’clock on the eighteenth of May,
The troops were beginning to land in a bay
Some three or four miles from the walls of the town,
The Columbine anchored not quite so low down:
With the Algerine, Starling, and Bentinck, (“now Plover;”)
And the steamers, all destined the landing to cover.
Tenasserim took the Cornwallis in tow,
And we very soon found ourselves anchored below
The fort in the town;—where the Blonde and Modeste
Had been placed—the Cornwallis reserving the rest.
As soon as the Bentinck a signal had made
That the troops were ashore, on the batteries we played;
This did not last long, for the troops now let loose,
Carried hill after hill—running on like the deuce.
They were met at the first mentioned gingall stockade
By a terrible volley. But the Tartars afraid
Of the fury, with which our brave troops “went ahead”
Turned their tails, and ran off, leaving numbers of dead.
The red coats now close to the ships hove in sight,
So we landed our boats, the Chinese in full flight;
And just came in time, in the rear of the town,
To see Colonel Mountain get shot, and knocked down.
A large joss-house well placed in a gorge of the valley,
Made a capital place for the Tartars to rally.
They opened a volley of matchlocks so well,
That Tomlinson heading his regiment fell;
Oh! certainly nought gained by England that day
For the loss of such gallantry ever could pay.
With the powder of Pears and the rockets of Knowles,
The building was very soon pierced with large holes,
And then catching fire, the smoke was so thick
That the Tartars were routed like rats in a rick.
The main Chinese force finding fighting all vain
Left the town to itself, scampered off in the plain.
As we moved round the walls, the scene just below
Was outwardly lovely—within all was woe.
That part of the town where the Tartars reside
Is walled off from the rest. The streets not very wide,
Are composed of long rows of small cottages standing
Like tents in a camp,—arms ready for handling
In each house were found. Such thousands of bows
Arrows, matchlocks, and spears, as were there no one knows.
After two or three days I walked over the place,
The small and neat houses were void,—not a face
To be seen,—not a soul to be found;
But the wells and canals filled with bodies all drowned.
In one of the gardens some young “demoiselles”
Were found dead, with their feet sticking out of the wells.
Heavy showers had fallen and completed the gloom,
Yet the sun was now shining; the roses in bloom.
Our total of wounded and killed on this day
Amounted to sixty,—I omitted to say
That of all who were hurt in this terrible scramble
The man who most suffered was poor Captain Campbell.
We remained here ten days—then embarked all the force,
Having burnt and destroyed every store house of course.
In the harbour were numbers of junks large and small,
(And having a prepared a good train in them all)
As the troops left the town we created a blaze
Which was seen to illumine the sky for some days.
A royal salute, six days after the fray,
Was fired, to honour our Queen’s Natal day;
And our Admiral’s flag “Blue at the Fore”
Caused another salute. I shall now say no more
Except,—the remains of brave Tomlinson sleep—
In the son of a sailor’s right berth “In the deep.”
Rugged Islands, near the Yang-tze-Kiang, June lst, 1842
Canto the Fourth
Enter the Yang-tze-Kiang.—The Fight at Woosung, June 16th, 1842
I left off at Chapoo—events are now thickening,
The Chinese have just had another good sickening;
But before I describe the late Woosung affair
Let us take a look back to our last action; where
Having burnt all the junks, arms, stores, and so forth;
We left all the ships setting sail for the North.
We reached some small islands called “Rugged” next day,
Then off started Kellett to find out the way
To the Yang-tze-Kiang river,—and very soon found
the Cornwallis might enter without taking ground.
In spite then of fogs, tide, currents, and calm,
We reached “Amherst rocks” without coming to harm.
Ariadne while sounding here felt a great shock,
And found that her bottom had stuck on a rock,
Which forced its way through and left a large hole,
In which flowed much water on engines and coal.
She nearly went down; and t’was found the best plan
That Sesostris should take her in tow to Chusan;
Where she left her quite safely hauled up on the shore,
But one night she slipped off, and was never seen more!
Small ships to the number of six thereabout,
Were made use of as buoys, to mark out the route.
Modeste with two steamers was sent to Woosung,
While a nasty thick fog for some days round us hung,
Which prevented our sailing so soon as intended;
But we all made a start whenever it mended,
With a fine breeze right aft, and tide in our favour,
And ran up in one day without very much labour.
Kellet took the Cornwallis, and Collinson—Blonde,
And right well they had worked as the Admiral owned.
For our “big ship” had just three feet to spare,
But we well knew our men so did not despair.
Our Siamese twins(4) always working together
Having the channel in spite of the weather.
As we sailed the South bank very soon came in sight,
And a few hours after, the North bank on our right:
Both low and well wooded, while the rich cultivation
That appeared as we passed; shewed the wealth of the nation.
We lay anchored three days to prepare for the fight,
As the surveyors sounded and buoyed in the night
The mouth of the river Woosung, at the spot
Where it joins the Great river, close to where we had got.
For a length of three miles on the right as you enter,
Was a long line of guns, with a fort in the centre.
At one end of this line was a creek well defended
By a fort of ten guns, on which Woosung depended;
At t’other end of the line where it joined the Yang-tze
Was the town Paou-shan hidden under its lee;
On the opposite side of this line of defence,
Was another fort,—shewing they spared no expense
To make it impregnable; yet in two hours
From the time the ships anchored, the whole place was ours.
Each ship had a steamer fast to her at dawn,
And were all under way at six in the morn.
The Blonde with Tenasserim lashed to her leading,
Followed close by the “Flag” with Sesostris;—not heeding
The volley which opened as soon as we closed;
Not a shot was returned till our ship was opposed
To the double banked fort—then with anchors astern,
We opened our fire from both sides in return,
Modeste with the Nemesis passed us quite close,
The Columbine followed, to give them a dose,
By the Phlegethon towed; and by way of a freak
Modeste shoved her nose right into the creek,
Clio towed by the Pluto, and small Algerine,
Anchored somewhere about us:—and now there was seen
A sight for which every true Englishman longs,
A capital instance of “hammer and tongs.”
All the steamers cast off having towed us in well,
And commenced on the larboard hand forts to throw shell.
The first shot that was fired on Blonde as she led,
Wounded two or three men and took off Hewitt’s head.
And two shots while our chief on the poop was commanding
Struck the mizen mast just above where he was standing.
At the end of the fight, we saw not very far ‘
A ship coming in which we found was North Star;
She passed on ahead, and partook in the fun
Just in time, for the China-men soon “cut and run.”
From the mast head we saw parties running pele mele,
So we sent in among them some well pointed shell.
Then into the boats as fast as we could,
And soon our marines on the “long battery stood.”
Notwithstanding that some of the steamers had stranded,
In a very short time the were all landed,
And marched to the little walled town Paou-shan;
But the Chinese as soon as they saw them all ran,
It is worthy of notice in this late transaction,
T’is the first time that steam has towed ships into action,
It certainly has been a glorious lark!
The country around us is just like a park,
So rich and so fertile, fine clumps of trees,
The green bamboos waving to and fro in the breeze.
A party of sailors were now well employed
In burning the tents, which were soon all destroyed;
These tents were in rows, in the rear of the guns
Which were found of all sizes,—some weighing three tons.
The copper ones all were embarked and we tried,
To destroy all the rest, and nearly got fried;S
For just at this time the sun’s heat was intense,
And the work that was gone through was really immense.
However by dint of the greatest exertion,
They all were got off, and then some diversion
Was caused by exploding the powder we found,
In the numberless houses, well filled all around.
The fort was encased (not less curious than true)
In a species of hurdling made of bamboo.
Loose stones being thrown between it and the wall,
Our shot often stuck without splintering at all.
The batteries were terribly battered about,
Which must have “astonished the natives” no doubt.
To conclude this epistle, I’m sorry to say,
The beautiful Dido arrived the same day
That the action was fought,—but her luck did not serve,
To reach us in time though she strained every nerve.
H.M.S. Cornwallis, Woosung, 20th June, 1842.
(4) Them Siam youths so neatly glued together.
What keeps each other warm in frosty weather.—Song.
Canto the Fifth
Capture of Shang-hai, and Progress of the Expedition up the Yang-tse-kiang to Chin-kiang-Foo
After taking Woosung, two steamers next day
Were sent up the river which leads to Shang-hai.
The small craft on whom all the light work now fell,
Were towed up by steamers, and did their work well;
They destroyed two large batteries, which opened their fire
On the vessels ahead. They then went up higher,
To the town of Shang-hai, where more batteries in wait
For the ships, blazed away, but met the same fate.
Shang-hai was then taken; a mercantile city,
Surrounded by walls, It was really a pity
To see how the the people moved off day and night —
With their goods, they were in such a terrible fright.
The rabble were also beginning to “loot,”
And a true Chinese robber is really a brute.
Now, talking of “loot;” (A Bengal word for plunder,
See “Jocelyn on China,”) ’tis really no wonder,
That finding ourselves in the pawnbrokers’ houses,
So full of odd things we remembered our spouses;
And took little shoes “jude-stone,” mandarin silk,
Caps, fur cloaks, and gongs, and odd things of that ilk,
Whenever we saw them; but I’ll take my oath,
I got very little,—although nothing loath.
Whenever the soldiers had taken a place,
All the houses and rooms in a certain marked space
Were “billets for troops.” And the mandarins’ dwellings,
Being officers’ quarters—to go on would be “tellings.”
The troops at Shang-hai famous quarters had got
In the oddest of places—a beautiful spot,
To the south of the town, where Chinese take their tea,
With grottoes and bridges, most curious to see,
Of a labyrinth form; in fact, such a scene
As appears on our English blue plates (when they’re clean).
The three iron steamers now went on to a lake
Some fifty miles farther,—I believe for the sake
Of exploring the river, as far as Hang-choo,
And went to within thirty miles of Soo-choo,
Destroying two small five-gun forts on their way;
But the water then shoaling, went back to Shang-hai.
The Plenipo came from Canton in the Queen,
Here joined us to see what there was to be seen.
Reinforcements were now coming up every hour;
A force well worthy to show England’s power
At Woosung had collected. The troop-ship Apollo,
Calliope, Childers, and Rattlesnake follow
Belleisle, with the whole of the Queen’s Ninety-eight;
And Endymion fearful of being too late,
With the Auckland, and wherefore has never been known,
We were joined by a French frigate called “Erigone.”
On the 6th of July, in five grand divisions,
Set sail this most famous of all expeditions,
With a vessel of war and a steamer to each;
And fine was the sight as reach after reach
Of this beautiful river we passed in succession;
There never was seen a more glorious procession
Than we formed, as we sailed with a fine breeze right aft,
The flag-ship ahead, with all the “small craft ”
Pioneering before her; and each of them shewing
In what number of fathoms the ship was then;
Seventy-three was the number composing the fleet;
There were forty-eight transports well found and complete,
Four troop-ships, ten steamers, (five small and five large),
And twelve men-of-war. There was one left in charge
Of the town of Woosung, with a transport or two,
To stop the great trade going on with Soo-Choo.
Each squadron contained in itself a brigade,
The “head quarters” with first. And the Plenipo staid
In the Queen, which attended the third; while the second
Artillery took. The rest need not be reckoned.
Aground near the Isle of Tsung-ming the first day,
We floated at night; but did not get away
Till the morn of the eighth, when without steam we ran,
About twenty-eight miles to the town of Foushan.
A few batteries here were destroyed, all quite empty;
And we bought fresh provisions and bullocks in plenty
On this day, soon after the whole of the ships
Had anchored, we witnessed a total eclipse
Of the sun, which appeared our friend Gutzlaff to pleace,
It being thought “ominous” by all the Chinese.
Through some intricate channels, the next day we ran,
Which the Surveyors with small boats called “sampan.”
And then sailing within a few yards of the shore eae
The people who never had witnessed before
Such a curious sight, came running in droves
Crowding down in the beautiful gardens and groves.
Foushan is the last place where Captain Bethune,
Had taken the Conway,—two years since in June.
Next day we lay quiet; the stream ten miles wide,
And now and then running a very strong tide:
We had three hours sailing next eve before night,
Some green hills at sunset reflecting the light;
On the 12th, clouds and rain, passed the town of Kiang-Yin,
With a hill, a pagoda, and fort with nought in;
Here the Clio was left to take care of the town,
Blockade a canal, and stop junks coming down.
Off a long, low, rich island, two days we remained
In ten fathoms water, current strong; and it rained
Very hard the first day; but the next it was hot;
We landed, and plenty of provender got,
The poor Chinese finding, we paid very well,
Brought plenty of fowls, eggs, and French beans to sell.
On the 14th we sailed, forty miles without towing,
Most fertile the country through which we were going.
Towards evening we came to a range of high hills,
From the west end of which the Chinese sent some pills
At the squadron ahead; but they soon ran away,
For Modeste threw a broadside without much delay.
Here we stopped for four days, the wind having chopped round,
And our anchor was sticking so fast in the ground.
We tried three times to way it,—so the Vixen then ran
With the two chiefs close up to the isle of Kishan,
Near to which a few guns on the Phelgethon fired,
Which she answered so warmly they very soon tired.
The Blonde and small craft were sent up to the mouth
Of the Grand Canal, thus cutting off north from south.
At the mouth of each creek, stopping junks, one remains,
(The Nemesis only some hundred retains)
This rigid and really judicious blockade,
Will do much more than fighting, by stopping their trade.
The 19th brought us up to the famed “Golden Isle”
Or Kinshan—And here let me pause for awhile,
To describe if I can what a beautiful view
Met our sight, as the squadron approached Ching-Kiang-Foo;—
The reach of the river (on the left fringed with rushes)
Is here four miles long,—at the end the stream gushes
Past a beautiful green, wooded island, by name
“Silver Isle” or a Chinese term meaning the same.
Rounding this, at the top of the reach one then sees
In the midst of the stream, Kinshan, covered with trees,
And yellow roofed palaces in the sun shine
Glittering like gold, and then a long line
Of houses and turrets, and curious old towers,
At the base stretch along; and small ladies’ bowers
From the trees seemed to peep, while surmounting it all
Is a fine old pagoda, with a bright golden ball
And bells hung to the roofs.—To our greatest delight,
The British flag waved from its top before night.
The sun setting behind threw the whole into shade,
Most lovely and rich were the shadows it made,
Sometimes when the water was thick it would seem,
Like an emerald stuck in a bow] of rich cream.
The Grand Canal running some six hundred miles,
Here crosses the river, between these two isles;
And passing close under the walls of the city,
Its mouth on the south forms a sort of long jetty.
Ching-Kiang from the right bank some five hundred yards
Is seen the suburbs, and perfectly guards
The canal, while some pretty high hills to the west,
Seem purposely placed to defend all the rest.
But for steam ’twould have taken a long while
To get through the whirlpools around Silver Isle;
Here Jupiter grounded, and for two days stuck fast,
But Endymion and steam got him off safe at last.
Before evening the wholee of the fleet were in sight,
Belleisle having anchored the very same night.
And next day we beheld to our great satisfaction
All the ships close around us and ready for action.
Here I stop for the present in hopes that next time,
I shall have something worthy of putting in rhyme.
H.M.S. Cornwallis, off Ching-Kiang-Foo, in the Yang-tze-Kiang, July 20th, 1842.
Canto the Sixth
Storm and Capture of Ching-Kiang-Foo, on the 21st, July 1842
My last letter dated the twentieth July,
Brings nearly the whole of the force pretty nigh
To the town of Ching-Kiang, which, as every one knows,
Is a very large city or “Foo.” So here goes
To describe in few words how the Tartars defended
Their homes to the last, before the fight ended.
The landing as usual effected by steam,
Commenced before dawn, nor did any one dream,
From the silence and quiet then reigning around,
That aught worth the name of a foe would be found.
The army was split into three grand brigades,
With a party to each of guns, ladders, and spades.
What with currents and some of the ships having struck
On the shoals, it was only by very good luck,
That all hands got on shore in time for the fun;
And, before all were landed, the work had begun.
Lord Saltoun moved first, with all his division,
To attack three large camps which appeared in position,
South-west of the town, The Madras “forty-first,”
And Bengal volunteers, on the Chinese then burst,
With the Queen’s “ninety-eighth,” and they soon tumbled down,
All their banners and tents, Let us now to the town,
Leaving Saltoun’s brigade in the midst of the fields,
Eating cucumbers, melons, and kicking their heels.
The prettiest thing in the whole of the day,
(We saw it quite well from the ships where we lay,)
Was the storming the walls, (which by Cuddy was led,)
With the second brigade, commanded by Shoedde,
At the north-eastern angle his ladders were reared,
While the rifles picked off every man who appeared.
Then over their heads the Auckland threw shell,
And Knowles from a hill threw his rockets in well.
Of the “second” and “sixth ” Shoedde’s division consisted,
Which with Queen’s “fifty-fifth” could not be resisted,
Besides “thirty-sixth.” So the walls having gained,
They made but short work of all those who remained.
Colonel Drever was killed in this gallant affair,
And of wounded severely a pretty good share—
Majors Warren and Simpson, Cuddy, Travers and Carr,
And the rest, I must say, I don’t know who they are.
General Bartley’s division now comes into play,
They attacked the west gate about noon in the day.
“Fourteenth,” “forty-ninth,” and “eighteenth” Royal Paddys,
Composed this brigade: with the “twenty-sixth” laddies.
Who not having landed so soon as the rest,
The third brigade joined—and with them did their best.
The Commander-in-chief having seen the affair,
With Lord Saltoun’s brigade, now bent his steps where
There was work, (for although it had not been so planned)
The tops of the walls were by Tartars well manned.
Our dragoman Gutzlaff, whose correct information
Here failed, nearly caused us some real botheration.
For when the first Tartar was seen on the wall,
He cried, “Sare! I say there are no troops at all!”
The Admiral who thought we should have nought to do,
Attended by Tennant went on with Sir Hugh,
The great grand canal which here crosses the river,
Was said at the town, to be shallow, however
Gough, Hodgson, and Loch disdaining all fears,
To come at the truth, went in head over ears—
And thus found the canal was too deep to be forded,
But a bridge shewed the place where the walls might be boarded.
The navy were not in the “Bill of the Play”
To have had (except landing the troops) aught to say
In the department—unless it required,
To cover the landing some shell might be fired.
But the boats of the Blonde with artillery freighted,
In the famed grand canal got severely checkmated.
Drifting suddenly under the walls of the town,
They received such a volley that most were knocked down;
Their office, Crouch, got three shot in his hull,
And young Lyon, a mid, got whack on his skull.
The Artillery major came off in a crack,
To beg Captain Richards would get his guns back;
This was done in a trice, and I’m happy to say,
Our boats on the walls very soon blazed away;
Under cover of which and a rocket or two,
The Marines scaled the walls without much more ado,
Captain Richards led on. And to fill up the names,
Stoddart headed the boats. With the rockets—Fitzjames.
A detachment of “fourteenth” Madrasses (Maclean’s)
Had joined us and in the work helped the marines.
Captain Watson was also in time for the fun,
And our Major Uniacke, got a stroke of the sun,
Of which he soon died, and was buried next day,
On the isle of Kinshan, in the river mid-way,
From the top of the wall we went down in the street,
The Chinese who opposed having beat a retreat.
The guard-house on the gate was enveloped in flames,
By small rockets sent from the street by Fitzjames.
And while we were resting and merry making,
General Bartley’s division came tumbling in.(5)
Not aware what had happened the Madras engineers,
Blew the gate in, directed by brave Captain Pears.
“Why how,” roared out one “how the deuce came you here?”
“Over all to be sure, which we found just as near”.
The burst of the gate was a beautiful sight,
And glad of the chance to contribute our mite,
On this terrible day—our little brigade
By the Admiral joined, a slight movement made,
On the ramparts and sheltered ourselves from the sun,
In a guard-house and found a good dinner just done,
Consisting of bacon, and beans nicely stewed,
And great cauldrons of tea which we found very good.
The heat was intense—Fahrenheit “ninety-six”
So most of us down on the ground slept like bricks.
But two or three vollies below soon began
To disturb us; so into the town we all ran,
Where we heard such a noise, and very soon found,
That the Tartars were hotly disputing the ground.
With Bartley’s brigade, the same which of late,
So gallantly rushed “sword in hand” through the gate:
We came on their rear just in good time to meet,
A pretty sharp volley of balls down the street,
From some Tartars, secured by a small barricade,
Which accounts for the very good stand they had made.
The marines charging on, and a few rockets plied,
Fitzjames got a shot through his arm and his side.
While standing quite close to young Charley Napier.
The main body however soon ceased to appear,
Being pretty well licked before we came near.
The town being taken; the Tartars then living,
Either strangled or drowned themselves or their women.
Many cut their own throats, and our men cut some down,
Who were hanging in different parts of the town.
Our wounded and killed (with those struck by the sun,)
Were (counting three missed) fourteen dozen and one.
The brave Tartar chief whose name was Hailing,
Having first of all sent an account to his King
Of the fall of the town, and devotion of those,
Who fought to the last; made a pile of his clothes,
Wife, children, and goods, and ascending the mass,
Made a blaze of the whole, with himself,—like an ass.
H.M.S. Cornwallis, off Ching-kiang-Foo, 26th of July, 1842.
(5) As they were in glee and merry making—heigh ho, says Rowley,
The cat and her kittens came tumbling in,
With a rowley powley, gammon and spinnage. —Nursery Song.
Canto the Seventh
Arrival at Nanking—Treaty signed
Oh! the horrors of war! we have all of us read,
That after a battle, the dying and dead,
And the wounded all lying quite helpless and gory,
Are enough to cure man of the mania called glory.
No description could paint such a horrible view
As was seen in the streets of the great Ching-Kiang-foo;
The stench of the dead, and the heat of the weather,
The terrible silence—the gloom altogether,
Cannot be one while at each of the gates
Where the soldiers were quartered, one fancied the Fates,
Or the Furies, had suddenly come on the earth,
So mad was excitement—so boisterous the mirth.
To make room for themselves the chambers were cleared,
Silks, satins, and riches of all sorts appeared
In the gutters and streets, where the wretched Hindoos
Who follow our troops, with wild looks pick and choose
Some fine gaudy colour, (in which they all glory);
But a truce to such scenes—let’s go on with the storys
Again under way, Vixen lashed alongside;
(Having tried on the first to stem the strong tide,
And only advanced three miles from Kinshan);
We got off on the third, and before sunset ran
To some steep and red cliffs, ten miles from Nanking,
Having passed the pagoda and town of Eching,
At six the next morning, we started again,
And at noon were well moored in a beautiful plain,
Near the walls of Nanking—and quite close to the shore,
The depth being twenty-five fathoms and more.
Before leaving Ching-Kiang, in a terrible fright,
A white-knobbes mandarin, known as Corporal White,
Came off with a message from old Eleepoo,
To try and detain us, but found ’twas no go.
The Chinese had so often pretended to treat;
That we almost believed this was only a cheat
To gain time.—But it seems they were really now frightened,
As the fall of Ching-Kiang had their senses enlightened.
On the ninth all the transports and come to;
Leaving Shoedde and three regiments at Ching-Kiang-Foo.
The landing commenced without further delay,
And soon the whole force was in battle array,
And ready to batter, and storm if required,
This ancient metropolis, so much admired.
To describe with all justice a city so vast
In its size, I must candidly tell you is past
My poor powers; however, as doubtless you’ll like
To hear something about it, why—“never say strike.”
To begin then, the walls are some thirty miles round,
Enclosing of course an immense tract of ground,
About one-third of which, I should say at the least,
Is filled up with the town, on the south and the east.
The north-western angle comes down very nigh
To the river’s bank where it is forty feet high.
Here Blonde and Cornwallis were lying in wait
With the steamers, to batter the small Ifung gate,
The northern face runs for some miles to Chung-shan,
A high and steep mountain. The general’s plan
Was to batter wall near the point where it turned
To the south from the hill, as somehow he had learned
That, the part of the city appearing inside
Was the principal place where the Tartars reside,
Well walled and defended.—His battery in all
Consisted of sixty-two guns large and small,
Our soldiers, the villages soon occupied,
Which extend with rich gardens for some miles outside
The walls of the city. High hills in their rear,
Most lovely and covered with wood, were quite near;
In the front were two gates, which they destined to take
And nearer the river a marsh and a lake.
(Commencing again from the ships) the west face,
For two or three miles ran along at the base
Of a range of low hills clothed with grass, trees, and bushes,
Thence down to the river, were swamps and tall rushes.
The wall leaving the hills, runs a mile or two more,
Then turns sharply towards the part mentioned before.
A broad deep canal which empties its mouth
Close to us—fLows along this west face and the south,
Where a steamer could go,—did the bridges allow her,
One of which leads across to the famed porcelain tower,
When we came, we observed, little white flags suspended
All along on the walls, and knew well it some portended
A settlement. But we used often to long
For another fight, though I believe it was wrong.
Then messengers passing each day to and fro
Between the Chinese and our own Plenipo,
Shewed that something was brewing; ’twas settled at length
That respecting our warlike position, and strength,
These hitherto proud and morose sons of Han,
Should make the first call on the great Englishman,
Who had sent to assure them, the very next day,
The attack would commence, should they further delay,
One fine morning the little Medusa was seen
Coming out of the creek with Keeying and Nin-kien,
And old Eleepoo; who with full powers were vested
By the Emperor; though he had often protested
To his “Killers of rebels” He never would stop
Till he saw all “Barbarians” kicked out “neck and crop.”
They were followed by Mandarins blue, white, and red,
Whose balls (on their caps) shew their rank so ’tis said,
All dressed in blue silk with thick boots. And a dandy
Named Chang, twirled his fan with a grace,—Cherry brandy
They drank, ate some biscuits and fruits,
And found for the first time, we were not quite brutes.
They “chin-chin’d” and salaam’d and the vessel admired
Then walked off, while to honour them three guns were fired.
In two days, our three chiefs set their feet on the land,
Taking with them a party of troops, and a band,
And an army of officers, red coats and blue,
To whom this grand meeting, of course, was quite new.
We pulled into the creek—landed under an arch,
Walked over some planks,—and had a short march
To a joss-house, which purposely, as it appeared,
For this wonderful visit was recently cleared.
It was situate under the walls of the city,
But outside and not in, which I think was a pity.
Some rum-looking scarecrows stuck up without arms,
Did the duty of soldiers, and made their salaams
As we entered the yard, while a horrible blast
Of trumpets and horns burst forth as we passed;
The men were received in a small room inside
While we little ones, in a large room were well plied
With fruit, sweetmeats, and cakes,—tea, shamshoo, and pipes,
And certainly some little fear for our tripes.
A rather soft band of flutes, tom-toms, and bells,
With a sort of harmonicon filled up the spells,
The visit then ended—we went as we came,
Having thus most auspiciously opened the game.
At last when of waiting we nearly were tired
Came the day which by all was so truly desired;
On the twenty-ninth day of this August at noon,
The three noble slaves of the son of the moon,
With a Salute of twenty-one guns,
Signed and sealed the Great Treaty, which to this purpose runs:
Dollars twenty-one million by Chinese to be paid,
Free permission for all British subjects to trade
At five ports; videlicet, Canton, Ningpo,
Shang-hai, Amoy, Foo-chow-foo; and to go,
From Amoy and Chusan (where a force now remains)
When the money is paid,—and then England retains
The whole of the island and bay of Hong-Kong,
To show the Chinese we were not in the wrong.
A Consul in each of these five ports to live;
“Native traitors,” the Emperor agrees to forgive.
The same parties who figured at both previous meetings,
Came on board with the same most affectionate greetings;
Poor old Eleepoo, not having been in the air,
For some days (being ill) was brought up in a chair;
Our chief and Sir Henry received him on deck,
And supported him aft; he was then such a wreck.
Sir Hugh and his staff were also on board,
And all the “diplomatists” who could afford
A laced coat.—We were all in full dress,
Buttoned up; which we found pretty hot you may guess.
The interpreters drawn up in solemn array
Thom, Morrison, Gutzlaff, (Merry-belly,) and Lay,
As soon as the whole had been signed, sealed, and read,
All the big-wigs sat down and partook of a spread;
Drank the Emperor’s health with a royal salute;
So thus ends all fighting, our pigeons and loot.
Sesostris will start off at once with the news.
Captains Richards and Whittington go,—if they choose
Straight to Suez.—But if it will cause no delay,
They will probably go from this place to Bombay,
And so on to Egypt, through Malta and thence
To England, where doubtless they’ll be three months hence.
This news will I hope make you joyful and sing
“A British fleet moored off the walls of Nanking.”!
H.M.S. Cornwallis, off Nanking, August 29th, 1842.
Canto the Eighth
Description of the Porcelain Tower—Ratification of the Treaty— Return of the Expedition from Nanking to Chusan
This letter’s a quiet one—war has its charms.
For those whose profession it is to bear arms;
But after such times of exertion and riot,
’Tis delightful to rest for awhile, and be quiet.
The Treaty was sent to Pekin to be signed,
The Emperor having now made up his.
Set his seal with good grace, so that in a fortnight
Back it came again “ratified,” which means “all right.”
The Auckland with Malcolm immediately started
To get our Queen’s signature; and he departed
With orders to go without stopping to Suez,
So if he’s not a lucky chap, I don’t know who is.
And now we amused ourselves walking about
All over the country—we went in and out
Of the villages, gardens, and fields, and the peasantry
Now divested of fear, gave us tea with much pleasantry.
The Admiral and Plenipo also went in
Now and then to the government house in Nankin;
And the governor gave a great feed to a party,
Who rode through the town, they made quite a hearty
Dinner—for dishes of all sorts were seen,
Birds-nests soup—samchoo, shark’s fins, and tea black and green.
The sight which we all thought most worthy of note
Is the famed ‘“Porcelain tower,” to which I devote
A few lines.—With the base ’tis nine stories in height,
And I never beheld a more beautiful sight
Than the sun setting on it—’twas like burnished gold;
For the bricks glisten bright, though three hundred years old,
And their colours dark green, but each story is faced
With bricks of fine white, and real porcelain most chaste!
It has eight equal sides, four of which have a door
To a balcony leading—a railing before;
In each of the chambers of which there are nine
Are hundreds of josses. In the ground floor a fine
Large one sits cross-legged on a stone table,
The small ones in rows placed wherever they’re able;
All China is covered with little gilt josses,
Which answer the purpose of Catholic’s crosses;
(Though I once knew a Puseyite parson who swore
They don’t bow down to them, but only before.)
To each story a roof turned up at the edges,
With a bell at each corner—the whole of the ledges
And tiles on the roofs are bright yellow, which shine
In the sun,—the effect being gorgeous and fine,
On the top of the roof is a long iron spire
Surrounded with hoops—and mounting still higher,
Is a large golden ball in the shape of a pear,
With the narrow end up, pointing into the air.
The height from this ball to below in the street,
Is exactly two hundred and sixty-one feet,
From the top is obtained a most beautiful view
Of the mountains, the suburbs, the river, and through
The whole of the city. An abbot resides
In a house near the tower,—the old fellow prides
Himself on the neatness with which it is ae
And made a complaint that some sailors had crept
Outside on the roof, and with true English taste
Had broken the bricks, and a whole side laid waste;
This might have been true, but we tried hard to see
Where the damage was done by these men’s thoughtless spree,
I really believe that some English barbarians
Did take some bricks, but these were “Tractarians”
(As parsons are now called,) and soldiers to boot,
And doctors all ready as sailors to loot;
Some persons asserted, that taking the mean,
T’was not soldier nor tar, but a jolly marine.
However though every one said “who’d have thought it,”
I’ve got a fine brick, from the abbot—I bought it.
On the east of the city, a wonderful thing,
Is the place where are buried the old race of Ming,
Who ruled over China before the Manchoos,
Took the land, which the Ming were thus destined to lose.
Close under a hill just outside of the town,
On a smooth turfy plain, like our English south-down,
Is a right-angled avenue,—figures of stone
About twelve feet in height—each one standing alone.
Four women, four warriors, four dogs, and four horns,
Four elephants, camels, wolves, lions, and josses,
Of each sort, two sitting, two standing upright,
Form, I safely may say, a most curious sight.
There is also a joss-house, with three frogs side by side,
At one end of this line, and a large one beside
With a slab on his back at the other end; which
By a wall is enclosed ten feet thick, with a niche
Or arch’d entrance, on each of the sides, (it is square,)
And the top of it open, exposed to the air.
I don’t think in my former epistles I said
What terrible ravages sickness had made
In our force; since the town of Ching-Kiang had been taken,
Not a ship or a regiment but what was shaken
Most fearfully;—cholera also prevailed,
And the “ninety-eighth” many fine fellows bewailed.
In some of our ships every man was unwell,
And what was the cause of it, no one could tell.
Cornwallis whose crew of seven hundred consisted,
Had half of them sick, but still she persisted
In helping the rest, and I often have known
Her men furling ship’s sails, which could not furl their own,
Our good doctor, King, really worked “like a horse,”
Or doubtless our loss would have been ten times worse.
As soon as the treaty was signed, all the force
Began to embark, and each transport, of course
Made the best of her way, when the troops were on board,
The rain at this time with great violence poured:
The river was also uncommonly high,
The banks were o’erflooded, the plains far and nigh
Were vast sheets of water,—in the river, the tide
Ran with violence quite to a torrent allied.
Six millions of dollars forthwith to be paid,
Was all that detained any ships, so we staid;
Before starting the Admiral wishing to see
All the men of war off, and well deep with sycee.
On the first of October from Nanking we started,
Our anchor so fast having stuck that we parted
The cable; and left sixty fathoms and more
With the anchor about eighty yards from the shore.
The Driver walked off with us, Ching-Kiang we passed
At a slapping pace,—but we dropped anchor at last
For the night—some thirty-six leagues having gone,
And started again before six the next morn,
Passed Kiang-Yin—the “Marion’’ was stuck on a rock
Near Ching-Kiang, and to day with a violent shock
On we went, but luckily only a shoal
Or we might in our bottom have made a large hole.
We hove and we strained, and we worked might and main,
We got off in the night—and then got on again;
Next day we heeled over some twenty degrees,
Most unhappy we looked, as the ships with the breeze
Ran past us, as also Sir Hugh in the Marion;
But at noon we got off, too tired to carry on
That night.—So we anchored and waited a day
To put things to rights—we then went on our way
Through the flats of Foushan, as we went through before,
Then ran past Hung-Ming, and grounded no more.
At Woosung on the “‘sixth,” in the evening at five,
“Shaking hands with ourselves” to get so far alive.
Ships coming and going all next day (the seventh,)
The whole fleet down to Woosung on th’ eleventh
The Admiral and Plenipo, went to Shang-hai,
Their last visit was hostile—this time all was play,
The town densely peopled—trade going on bravely,
In the river some five hundred junks riding safely.
On the fifteenth, a number of ships with us sailing,
We got clear of Woosung—there was not much bewailing
As we left Yang-tse-Kiang the next day—all was smiles
When we saw about sunset our friends “Rugged isles.”
The seventeenth took us to “Just in the way”,
It blew very hard with much swell the next day,
And the next—on the “twentieth” Driver at last
Took us into Chusan—on our passage we passed
The little Modeste, going home with her freight,
The Blonde will go soon, but a short time must wait
The harbour is now full of ships of all sizes,
Men-of-war, transports, steamers, troop-ships, but no prizes.
For in our late war—but I cannot tell why,
Though we knocked down all forts, we let all junks go by.
Perhaps ’tis as well gold did not us allure,
We’re supposed to fight better whenever we’re poor.
H.M.S. Cornwallis, Chusan, 28th October, 1842.
Canto the Ninth
From Chusan to Hong-Kong, touching at Amoy.—Return of the Treaty ratified by Her Majesty
Cornwallis’s cruising now comes to a close,
As far as her fun with the Chinamen goes.
I began at Hong-Kong, so at Hong-Kong I’ll finish,
With a hope that “your shadow may never diminish.”
At Chusan we finished our Christmas dinner,
And there seemed little chance of our getting much thinner;
The market so full of good things was supplied,
We could not have been short of grub if we’d tried:
The weather was lovely, the air cold and clear,
We left it with sorrow though not with a tear.
The Admiral had plenty to do night and day,
In paying off transports, and sending away
The troops (white and black) which in numbers were sent
To India; delighted they were when they went!
Several ships had arrived since we lay here before,
For some months the Thalia had been “Commodore,”
With the Hospital Minden, and a new brig or two,
Which arrived rather late to have much work to do.
Intending to visit Foo-choo on the way,
We started at last on the thirtieth day
Of a cold January morn, and passed Ty-woo-shan,
Through a new channel, bidding adieu to Chusan.
Two days took us down to the mouth of the Min,
And we took refuge under the lee of Pe-Kuin.
Or, “White Dog Isles:” terribly barren and wild,
Twenty miles from the river—the weather not mild;
After waiting two days we sent a boat in
To see if the Phlegethon was in the Min;
And found this fine steamer hauled up on the shore,
Having knocked a great hole in her bottom before
We arrived; so the trip to Foo-choo as intended
Was put off, the hole taking some days to get mended.
We then went on our way, but the wind was so strong,
And the current,— we nearly ran down to Hong-Kong.
Instead of a quiet sail in the next morning
We had to beat back—so ye seamen take warning!
Arrived at Amoy—in the beautiful bay
Just outside the harbour, the Cambrian lay
With Wanderer, Pelican, Serpent.—Inside
Off the town the large junks, in great number ride,
The hills of Amoy are large masses of rock
Tumbled one above t’other as if some great shock
Had suddenly capsized the whole of the island,
Torn great stones from the sea, and pitched them on dry land.
The long granite battery of course we inspected,
Now tumbled to pieces and all quite neglected.
’Twas of this place friend “Punch,” in fun always revelling,
Said “Sir Willlam had shewn his ideas to be levelling.”
Kolong-seu, a small island not far from the fort,
Which flanks the Jong battery, forms a safe port;
It is covered with rocks, and large trees evergreen
With their roots twining round them in numbers are seen.
Some beautiful neat little spots here and there,
Where rich Chinese merchants once came for sea air,
Are now officers’ quarters; they seemed quite to my eye,
Like the houses and gardens one sees at Pompeii.
Sir William inspected the Cambrian’s lads,
Who in gunnery greatly excelled under Chads;
Colonel Cooper commanding the isle Kolong-seu,
To honor the Admiral had a review
Of the whole of the troops. After which the “hounds met,”
And I cannot describe what a curious set
Shewed off—such descriptions not being my forte,
But here’s one of my shipmate’s account of the sport.
The Hunt at Kolongseu.
Come round me all you sporting blades, come listen now to me,
Whilst I relate with grief and shame, what’s called a glorious spree.
An isle there is, some three miles round, near China’s rocky coast,
Is garrisoned by Briton’s bold—as our brave land can boast.
Bold though they be in fight or fray, (what Englishmen are not?)
I think I’m right when this I say—to sporting they’re a blot.
Sons of the chace! pray just conceive—a little bow-legged hound,
And an imaginary dog—a pup, who soon threw off and found.
What did they find ? A wretched cur—just well enough to crawl,
Whose Chinese master late had lost—his house, his land, his all.
Such were the hounds, and such the game, the field now let us view,
Ten men I think were all that came—arrayed in red and blue;
One on a jack-ass trotted on, the others ponies straddled,
Some lame, one blind, in fact such brutes, never before were saddled.
Didst ever see a chimney sweep, on rump of donkey seated,
Flourish his brush, and with a grin, canter till he got heated?
If so, then to your mind, a dozen washed and shaved,
In red and blue, instead of black, and just as well behaved.
Foremost came on a sailor bold—in scarlet coat attired,
And all who saw him as he rode, his white-topp’d boots admired.
He had no breeches on, but as he looked round for applause,
No one would guess that such a swell was riding in his drawers.
Yet in his own conceit each man, a pack of hounds was following,
And when the cur was tir’d and tlagg’d, commenced his senseless hollowing
The end I now with pain unfold, which called forth many a blush!
The dog escaped—a cat was killed—the “huntsman” took her brush!
Should any Nimrod read this lay, and doubt its being true,
Ask any one who saw, I pray,“—The Hunt at Kolong-seu.”
The north-east monsoon which still blew us along,
Took us down in two days to the bay of Hong-Kong;
With the Pelican following, so here end our labours,
We now “take it easy,” as well as our neighbours.
The Agincourt’s here—Admiral Cochrane (Sir Thomas)
Who we fancied at first, was to take the ship from us;
The transports and troop ships are all spread abroad
Sir Hugh gone to Calcutta, to talk to “My Lord.”
We had been here three weeks in a most anxious state,
For the packet from home, we knew would not be late;
The Vixen at last steamed in one fine night,
On the sixteenth of March, with (the moon shining bright,)
Colonel Malcolm, the Treaty; and more to our notions,
A list quite as long as my arm of promotions,
Which delighted all hands, though I wish from my heart,
That Sir William (as well as Sir Hugh) was a Bart.
It was pleasant to find with what glee the whole nation,
Heard the news of the treaty—no consideration
Of money, or Empire, in their feelings were blended,
There was only one cry—“Thank God, the war’s ended.”
Old England will always be very well off,
If her fleets have a Parker—her armies a Gough.
And experience has proved that one straight forward man,
Is worth more than, of half and half humbugs, a clan.
To Pottinger then England’s praises are due,
And so, my dear friend, I now bid you adieu.
H.M.S. Cornwallis, Hong-Kong, April 1st, 1843.