Charles Elliot to Viscount Palmerston September 5, 1839

Charles Elliot to Viscount Palmerston September 5, 1839

I YESTERDAY proceeded to Kow Lune, in the cutter Louisa, distant about 4 miles from this anchorage, where there were three large men-of-war junks, whose presence, I collected from the natives about us, prevented the regular supplies of food. I was accompanied by the Pearl, a small armed-vessel, and Captain Smith of the Volage was so good as to lend me the pinnace of his ship, and to go with me himself. But I can assure your Lordship, that though I am responsible for causing the first shot to be fired, I did not anticipate any conflict when we left, and went accompanied solely for purposes of sufficient defence against insult or attack.

The violent and vesatious measures heaped upon Her Majesty's officer and subjects will, I trust, serve to excuse those feelings of irritation which have betrayed me into a measure that I am sensible, under less trying circumstances, would be difficult indeed of vindication. ...

They returned to me with this intelligence, and greatly provoked, I opened fire from the pinnace, the cutter, and the other vessel, upon the three junks. It was answered both from them and the battery, with a spirit not at all unexpected by me, for I have already had experience that the Chinese are much under-rated in that respect. After a fire of almost half-an-hour against this vastly superior force, we hauled off from the failure of our ammunition; for I have already said, anticipating no serious results, we had not come in prepared for them. It was evident, however, that the junks had suffered considerably, and after a delay about three-quarters of an hour, they weighted and made sail from under the protection of the battery, with the obvious purpose of making their escape through an adjacent outlet. ...

The only casualty I have to report on this occasion, is a flesh wound in the arm to Captain Douglas, of the ship Cambridge, in a gallant attempt to carry one of the junks at the close of the day; and two of his boat's crew also wounded rather more severely....

The Inclosure, No. 4, is a paper I have circulated on shore since the affair of yesterday.

Inclosure 4 in No. 157 Notice to the Chinese People regarding the peacefulness of our objects, September 5, 1839

The men of the English nation desire nothing but peace; but they cannot submit to be poisoned and starved. The Imperial cruizers they have no wish to molest or impede; but they must not prevent the people from selling. To deprive men of food is the act only of the unfriendly and hostile.