THE PORTUGUESE IN HONGKONG AND CHINA
Their Beginning, Settlement and Progress during One Hundred Years
First published in 1944 and reprinted in 1978 and 1998; published on the internet circa 2009.
This is the 1944 version. JP Braga did not complete this booklet before his death. JM "Jack" Braga edited and published this work after his father's death. Stuart Braga, JP Braga's grandson, made some editorial changes. I converted the text to a format suitable for the website, with links to Person Pages, etc. JP Braga only gave the initials for many people and others had common names, so that identification has proved difficult. Readers are warned that many of the links given here could in fact be wrong; if you find any errors, please let me know.
Numbers are used for JP Braga's footnotes and letters for footnotes added by Stuart Braga and me – Henry "Quito" d'Assumpcao
|CHAPTER I:||Early Portuguese Voyages of Discovery of a Sea Route to China|
|CHAPTER II||The Portuguese impress the Chinese who desire Peace and Friendship with Portugal|
|CHAPTER III||The Portuguese Padroado and the Jesuits College at Macao|
|CHAPTER IV||Services of the Jesuits to China. Subordination of Portugal's National Interests|
|CHAPTER V||Dutch and English envious of Portuguese trade - The British at Macao – The Macaense race|
|CHAPTER VI||Recourse to Macao during the Anglo-Chinese War – Captain Elliot's Memorable Proclamation|
|CHAPTER VII||Early Hongkong from Portuguese and other records – Departure of Captain Elliot|
|CHAPTER VIII||The Rise of Hongkong – Early Portuguese Settlers|
|CHAPTER IX||Growth of the Portuguese Community in Hongkong – The Portuguese as Interpreters.|
|CHAPTER X||Catholic Churches and Schools in Hongkong|
|CHAPTER XI||Early relations between Macao and Hongkong – Last Days of Portuguese Shipping in the East.|
|CHAPTER XII||Portuguese Interest in Land Development in Hongkong – Genesis of Kowloon – Some Interesting Personalities among the Portuguese of Old Hongkong|
This is José Pedro Braga's book. Nay, it is his tribute to his race, the Portuguese in China. "Our people", he called them.
None better than he knew the latent worth of these people. None better than he could tell of all that was best in them. None better than he understood their frailties. It is right, then, that he should have written their story, but he did not live to complete it. He had hoped to lead them, as he had led them before, and in the renascence of this people to write Finis to his work.
But it was not to be. God has removed him, leaving it to others to carry on the service, a service to which he devoted so much energy and so many tireless years.
He was in the direct succession of the Portuguese who went to Hongkong as its original pioneers, and he loved to talk of Mr. Delfino Noronha, his grandfather on his mother's side, who recognised his grandson's worth and passed on to him the mantle of the splendid example and noble traditions of the Portuguese from old Macao.
When, on the 1st June, 1942, my father came from Hongkong to Macao, I cast about for something to which he might devote his time and employ his mind, that energetic and enthusiastic mind. Nothing seemed more practical than a book in which the story of "our people" in Hongkong might be told and thus preserved. He was eminently suited to the task. He had had the advantage of hearing from his grandfather thrilling, first-hand accounts of Hongkong's early days, and for fifty years he had, himself, taken a constant and intelligent interest in the activities of the Portuguese in Hongkong.
It was fitting, therefore, that in the peace and quiet of this cradle of the Portuguese Far Eastern communities, he should have accepted the task – he considered it a duty – of writing this book. He did it at the suggestion of His Excellency Commander Gabriel Maurício Teixeira, Governor of Macao.
Thus it was that in the summer and autumn of 1942, I was busily engaged in the task, a proud and pleasant one, of helping my father with his book. His own papers had been left behind in Hongkong, and lost, but I placed before him, day after day, such material as I happened to possess. Drawing from this material and from his memory, my father prepared his notes and the book was written.
After an excellent beginning his efforts slackened, for he was distressed over nameless things, which interfered with the sequence of his thoughts. Shortly before his death, however, he resumed his interest, and just when it seemed that the book might be completed before many weeks, he suddenly passed away.
He had also interested himself during the last few weeks of his life, in the projected Technical School in Macao, and as Chairman of the Committee he was hopeful that he would, in this way, be able to help his fellow nationals yet once again. Is will not be long, however, before classes will commence, and in view of his efforts and zeal for its establishment, kind friends have graciously suggested that it should be named the J. P. Braga Memorial School.
The book as prepared by my father is not complete, but the first 15 chapters were almost ready for publication at the time of his death. He had only to revise them once before they would have been ready for the press. The notes assembled and the typescript completed, however, of a further 8 chapters. It will fall to me to revise these, and I must accept full responsibility for such defects as these chapters will contain. The final chapters must be written by me from my own notes and from the views my father expressed as the work progressed. I shall be fully responsible for their shortcomings. My father also prepared a number of biographical notes, which he intended inserting, with others he contemplated writing, in various places in the text of his book. These will be used where it seems he intended them to appear.
To the fact my father was not spared to revise the book must be attributed the lack of a great deal of valuable material. However, rather than withhold the information contained in the chapters already written, I have thought it expedient to present this book as it is, so that the information contained in it may be made available, to serve as a stimulus for the Portuguese and to be a pleader for them, as intended the book to be, before the tribunal of fair-minded public opinion, regarding the services rendered by the Portuguese in the past.
It was father's cherished hope, which he sought by precept and example to encourage, that "his people", especially the younger generation of the Portuguese in China should assist one another in every way and not lose any opportunity to contribute by active and intelligent service to the welfare of one another as well as of the community among whom they live. He hoped to see the rise of good leaders, dedicated to the welfare of their less fortunate brethren, and the last of the projects he had the opportunity of initiating had such an object in view.
And this book, containing some of his posthumous papers, may speak to the reader of one who devoted himself unstintingly and disinterestedly to a good cause. If this account of the achievement of "his" people during the last century serves to stimulate the energies and actuate the motives of this people in the years to come, then Mr. J. P. Braga's book will not have been written in vain.
Early Portuguese Voyages of Discovery of a Sea Route to China
It is in no spirit of idle boastfulness that this modest volume is introduced to its readers with a quotation from the famous Portuguese poet Camoens:
"E se mais mundo houvera,
("If there had been more of the world,
they would have reached it.")
When it is remembered that the foregoing lines were written in the third quarter of the XVIth century, it will be granted that Camoens was not exercising the privilege of poetic licence but was recording what he honestly believed to be the possible achievement of the Portuguese in their search for new lands under the enthusiastic inspiration of the famous Prince Henry, the Navigator, who sponsored and encouraged the voyages of the Portuguese pioneers to "seas never before navigated". He was a contemporary of the great heroes of that time and it was given to him to bequeath to the world the priceless legacy of an epic writing which is acclaimed by the world as one of its most famous poems of lands and scenes which he himself saw and peoples with whom he made himself personally acquainted.
Old Portuguese documents record that when in 1508 Diogo Lopes de Sequeira went to discover Malacca he carried elaborate instructions to enquire about the Chinese, their country, religion, trade, etc.1 It was Prince Henry, whose grandiose imagination, kindled by the torch of Faith, raised high the fire of Hope in the breasts of his fellow-countrymen, casting a brilliant searchlight into the darkness of the great unknown world, till then spoken of only in bated whispers by even the most adventurous spirits amongst the navigators of mediaeval times.2
Sequeira arrived at Malacca on the 11th September, 1509. It is recorded that in Malacca he collected cloves from the Moluccas, nutmegs from Banda, sandalwood from Timor, camphor from Borneo, gold from Sumatra and Loo Choo, and gums, spices, and other precious commodities from China, Japan, Siam, Pegu, etc. The conquest of Goa in November, 1510, led Affonso de Albuquerque to adopt measures for the proper administration of the city with a view to making Goa the capital of the eastern empire of Portugal.
The first Portuguese to land on Chinese territory was one Jorge Alvares, reputed to have been one of Albuquerque's most distinguished officers; this was in the year 1514. To commemorate the landing Alvares erected a stone pillar, called a padrão, at Tamão. The pillar, one of many similar ones, had carved on it the arms of Portugal. The Portuguese of the time were in the habit of taking with them the engraved pillars on their voyages of exploration. These pillars were set up wherever it was thought expedient to erect them upon every new Portuguese discovery, to avoid, so it might be presumed, disputes arising from any unscrupulous claimant to the discovery of land that had previously been discovered by the Portuguese. And because, in the early days, there was a great lack of men and materials to protect their trade routes and to guard their newly acquired possessions, the discoverers did not always assert their claims to several newly found lands. Thus it was that their right to some of their new discoveries sometimes lapsed in favour of others with neither moral nor legal claims.3 Hence, it will be seen that there was good reason for the erection of the padrões with clearly distinctive markings for the purpose of defeating the non-existent rights of unworthy claimants.
"Exploration",4 according to Prof. Edgar Prestage, "was also carried on by land and for the sake of knowledge, not of trade or dominion, and in this the Jesuits won the palm."
"The dominion he (Albuquerque) established consisted of the overlordship of the ocean, the shores of which were dotted with fortresses in a huge semi-circle from the coast of East Africa to the Moluccas, and his successors did but develop the policy he had laid down. In less than a century and a half from his death in 1515 this dominion crumbled. Portugal had not the resources to maintain her monopoly against the attacks of the Dutch and English. But that she should have held it so long against the Mahommedan world was, in the words of Sir William Hunter, a lasting glory to her and Christendom. With Admiral Ballard we may say that the name of Albuquerque is still the greatest, not only in the history of the Portuguese in the East, but in the annals of the Indian Ocean. His captains and men also deserve to be remembered, for, to quote again from Hunter, the achievements of the Portuguese in the East would have done credit to a great Power, and when carried out by a small kingdom they read like a romance."
From the Chinese magazine, the "Tíen Sha", Shanghai, May, 1939, pp. 424 and 425, the following note is taken from a contribution to that publication by Mr. J. M. Braga whose articles on the ancient historical monuments of Macao have appeared:
"The name of Jorge Alvares deserves well of the Portuguese. It was in 1514, quite possibly even in 1513, that Jorge Alvares erected the padrão on an island at the mouth of the Pearl River and on the same occasion buried his son, probably the first Portuguese to be buried on Chinese soil. Seven or eight years later, Jorge Alvares himself died at the same spot and was buried next to the spot where he had buried his son. João de Barros, the Portuguese chronicler-in-chief and Historian, records the event and states:
"Though his flesh will be consumed by the soil of that land of idolatry, where for the honour of his fatherland he placed his padrão to mark his discoveries at the very ends of the earth, the memory of his tomb will not be consumed so long as this our writing endures..."
"A glorious epitaph forgotten by nearly every one!" exclaims Louis Keil.5 "Let us hope that the Portuguese in Macao will remember him, and engrave in letters of gold the undying words of João de Barros, on a new padrão, where the sphere, and the castles and coat-of-arms of the Portuguese may commemorate, in the Island of Ta-Mang, the arrival of the first Portuguese who landed on China's shore".
At the very "ends of the earth" the Portuguese went seeking the Prester John, who, they considered, would be a desirable Christian ally for the great crusade against the Infidels. The search began as a vision in the prophetic mind of Prince Henry and the prosecution of that search stimulated the creation of modern nautical science, for though cut off from Asia by the Moslems in the Holy Land by the land route, the Portuguese, who had just succeeded in the 14th century in ridding their land of the Moors, under Prince Henry looked towards the sea and there they found their destiny.
To reach that Prester John, however, better ships, more seaworthy and higher out of the water were required, the primitive knowledge and rules of navigation had to be improved, the equipping and provisioning of ships had to be changed, and the science of astronomy had to be subordinated to the navigators needs. For the application of the knowledge of latitude and longitude, it became necessary to determine the position of ships at sea, and the map of the world had to be drawn, where no maps had existed before, the use of instruments had to be learned, and the tides and currents studied as had never been thought necessary before. Nautical science was being created and the search for Prester John went on, while the fears of mythical monsters and supernatural forces, which were believed to exist in the unknown spaces of the earth, had to be overcome.
Slowly but surely the Portuguese pressed on with their objective. The sea was made to give up its secrets to these hardy sailors and navigators who sailed from the port of Sagres and went farther and ever farther out onto the seas beyond the end of Europe and shores of Africa. Finally the day came when Bartholomeu Dias returned to Lisbon and reported that the continent of Africa was not an impassable mass of land, that the way to India lay open to discovery, that the search for Prester John, to help the Portuguese in their campaigns against the enemies of the Cross, would be all the easier when the Portuguese ships could reach the shores of Asia and bring the wonders of the East within the reach of Western nations.
So well did those Portuguese ship-builders and navigators do their work that the whole course of history was changed when Vasco da Gama came back to Lisbon and dropped anchor in the Tagus in the year 1499. The route which he followed by the Western fringe of the Atlantic could not be improved upon even by the sailing vessels of the XIXth century on their way from Europe to the shores of India and China and other parts of the Asiatic continent.
"To find the sea-path to the Thesauris Arabum et divitis Indiae, till then known only through faint echoes of almost forgotten tradition, was the object to which Prince Henry devoted his life. The goal which he thus set before himself was at an unknown distance, and had to be attained through dangers supposed to be insurmountable and by means so inadequate as to demand a proportionate excess of courage, study and perseverance."6 "Although the son of a king, he relinquished the pleasures of the court, and took up his abode on the inhospitable promontory of Sagres, at the extreme south-western angle of Europe. It was a small peninsula... Another spot so cold, so barren, or so dreary, it were difficult to find on the warm and genial soil of sunny Portugal."7 (On the wall of the main stairway of the Governor's Palace, on Praia Grande, Macao, will be found a life-size painting in oils of Prince Henry in a characteristic pose on the barren rocks of Sagres calmly contemplating the sea).
"The glory of Prince Henry," Mr. R. H. Major writes, "consists in the conception and persistent prosecution of a great idea, and in what followed therefrom... That glory is not a matter of fancy or bombast, but of mighty and momentous reality – a reality to which the Anglo-Saxon race, at least, have no excuse for indifference" In order to arrive at an approximate estimate of the wonderful successes in the field of noble enterprise, we turn to Mr. Major's book in English, The Discoveries of Prince Henry the Navigator; for a conscientious student's view of the apparently "insurmountable" difficulties and dangers that have been successfully overcome.
To be duly appreciated, the Navigator's achievement "must be viewed in relation to the period in which it was conceived.' The last of the dark ages,' the fifteenth century has been rightly named, but the light which displaced its obscurity had not yet begun to dawn when Prince Henry, with prophetic instinct, traced mentally a pathway to India by an anticipated Cape of Good Hope. No printing press as yet had given forth to the world the accumulated wisdom and experience of the past. The compass, though known and in use, had not yet emboldened men to leave the shore and put out with confidence into the open sea; no sea-chart existed to guide the mariner along those perilous African coasts; no lighthouse reared its friendly head to warn or welcome him on his homeward track. The scientific and practical appliances which were to render possible the discovery of half a world had yet to be developed. But, with such objects in view, the Prince collected the information supplied by ancient geographers, unweariedly devoted himself to the study of mathematics, navigation, and cartography, and freely invited, with princely liberality of reward, the co-operation of the boldest and most skilful navigators of every country.
"If it be the glory of Great Britain that by means of her maritime explorations the sun never sets on her dominions, she may recall with satisfaction that he who opened the way to that glory was the son of a royal English lady and of the greatest king that ever sat on the throne of Portugal." Such is the reflection with which Mr. R. H. Major permitted himself, with just pride, to conclude the preface to his historical work. Prince Henry, the Navigator, was the fifth child and fourth son of King John I, "of good memory," (also surnamed "the Great", and "Father of his Country,") and of Queen Philippa, daughter of "old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster." He was thus the nephew of Henry IV of England and great-grandson of Edward III.
Prince Henry, unfortunately, did not survive to enjoy the earliest fruits of his life-long devotion to his country, for his untimely death took place at Sagres in 1460. It was in 1498 that the voyage to India was accomplished, when Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut, and Camoens records in his great epic the exclamatory wish of Vasco da Gama: "We seek Christians and spices!" From India the next stage of Portuguese expansion was when Lopes de Sequeira, as has been already stated, landed at Malacca in 1509. The Portuguese first landed in Canton in 1517, when Thomé Pires reached the place as the first Portuguese ambassador to China. Unfortunately, through mutual misunderstandings due to the language difficulty the attempt to found a settled trade in China ended disastrously. However, a clandestine trade of sorts was carried on subsequently along the southern coasts of Kwangtung, Fukien and Chekiang. From the year 1518 the Portuguese trafficked in various ports of this Kingdom, and ultimately in the port of the island of Sanchuan, whence the earliest beginnings of this City originated, and where St. Francis Xavier, second Apostle of India and guardian saint of this city, died in 1552.
This is related by Antonio Bocarro, in his description of Macao, translated by Major C. R. Boxer, in his great History, Macao Three Hundred Years Ago.8
The exact date of the "permanent" settlement of Macao cannot be established with certainty. Major Boxer, in whom confidence was expressed that he might establish the authority for a precise date, definitely states that the date is still "a matter of dispute". As to the grounds which enabled the Portuguese to form a settlement at Macao, in 1557, Major Boxer quotes "the most commonly accepted version of a recognition of the Portuguese services in expelling a pirate band that made the place their stronghold". Nevertheless, this story is made with the reservation that it "has yet to be confirmed by a reliable contemporary Chinese source". "But there is nothing inherently improbable in it," he adds.
It may be pertinent to interpose here the views of another writer,9 C. A. Montalto de Jesus, who wrote: "At the same time an adjacent island, Lampacao (Lang-peh-kau), was assigned as a resort for carrying on foreign trade. By agreeing to pay duties, it is said, the Portuguese obtained leave to settle there as well as to trade at Canton. At bottom, however, this rapprochement may have been mostly due to the fact that a formidable piratical incursion at this epoch rendered it advisable for the Chinese to centre their foreign trade at Canton instead of at the offing. Soon the community at Lampacao rose to over five hundred Portuguese, carrying on a flourishing trade, mostly in pepper bartered for silk and musk. Thenceforward they lived in peace and without the casualties which in former times befell their vessels, for, cleared out of every harbour, they moored at the offing, exposing themselves to typhoons which few survived. The compromise was effected by Leonel de Sousa, the commodore of a fleet bound for Japan, who in a letter dated 1554 to the Infante Dom Luiz, remarked that the Portuguese, it would seem, were then only for the first time known as such to the Chinese, having been up to this period denominated Franks – term among Orientals for Europeans in general. According to Gaspar da Cruz, the Portuguese were now styled "foreign people", instead of "foreign devils" as they had been yclept since the days of Andrade's escapades".
On the subject of the deliverance of the South China coast from the marauding incursions of piratical hordes, Montalto de Jesus is more specific. He writes on page 24 that "The China Sea was infested by pirates and insurgents who wrought havoc on the trade and shipping, when, after due preparation, the Portuguese assailed the marauders, and soon cleared the sea of the scourge, to the great relief and joy of the Chinese. The Portuguese then bore down upon Heungshan, where large tracts were held by a powerful pirate chieftain. After staunch resistance he was vanquished, and the island taken by vassals of the crown of Portugal; whence it results that the sovereignty in question is founded on the right of conquest, acquired by the arms of Portugal and at the cost of Portuguese blood. The island occupied, and Macao being best adapted for trading purposes, the city was built on that peninsula".
The Portuguese impress the Chinese who desire Peace and Friendship with Portugal
Raphael Perestrello, a factor, was sent in 1515 with orders to conduct trade in China. He travelled in a junk, and returned with a rich cargo and the news that the Chinese desired peace and friendship with Portugal and that they were "good people". Perestrello's voyage was not invested with any official status.
The first embassy was conducted by Fernão Peres de Andrade, appointed leader by Lopo Soares de Albergaria, who had succeeded Albuquerque as the Governor of India. He made a stop at Tamão at the mouth of the Canton River. Later his fleet sailed up the river. After some months, objection to receiving Thomé Pires was waived by the Emperor who agreed to receive the Portuguese ambassador. Fernão Peres de Andrade left Pires in China and on his return voyage carried a valuable cargo to Malacca with him. The leader of the next trade venture was also an Andrade, but one lacking the tact and ability of his predecessor Fernão; the second Andrade was called Simão, and his disagreements with the Chinese ended in fisticuffs and even the use of arms. His escapades were reported to Peking, where Thomé Pires was awaiting an audience with the Emperor. Upon Thomé Pires fell the ire of the Chinese Court, and from Peking he was sent in chains as a prisoner to Canton. There he and all his companions died.
Thenceforward there was a break in the chain of commercial events with the Chinese. The interruption permitted of business being conducted between the Portuguese and the Chinese in, first, the islands off Chekiang Province, called Liampo by the Portuguese, and then, successively, on the coast off Fukien, near Chuen-chow, and, later still, on the islands off the Kwangtung coast in the vicinity of Sanchuen and Lampacao, from which last place it moved to Macao.
Meanwhile Japan had been discovered and trade conducted with great success. The trade of China and Japan with Europe was carried on through Macao. Each year a regular fleet of ships fully laden set from Lisbon for the East. The cargoes they carried were of a diversified kind made up for the most part of woollen goods, coloured cloths, glassware, manufactures of clockwork and Portuguese wines, which have always found favour in foreign markets. On the return voyages the ships were laden with a general cargo of valuables consisting for the most part of spices, but also gold, silk, musk, pearls, ivory carvings, lacquered-ware and porcelain. Because of their better quality the lacquered objects of Japan found greater fame in the European market. On the other hand, "chinas" (i.e., porcelain ware of Chinese origin) were more highly appreciated than the Japanese. A singular point of history is worthy of record. It is that when Vasco da Gama returned from his maiden voyage to India, the great explorer laid at the foot of the dais on which the Queen was sitting musk and porcelain which he had bought in Calicut. The porcelain had cost in India its own weight in silver, thus speaking well for the quality and material of produce of Chinese manufacture and the appreciation in which the Ming ware of the time was held even in Asia. The initial shipment tickled the fancy of the Portuguese to such an extent that, in subsequent voyages eastwards, instructions to bring home porcelain from China were included among the directions issued in connection with the journeys of the Far Eastern traders.
This fancy for chinaware became quite a fashion not only in Lisbon but throughout Eufbrilhanrope, so much so that even up to very recent years it is recalled that invoices to Portugal and other European capitals invariably had listed among the "chow chow" (i.e., mixed) cargo, whether in execution of orders or on consignment, at least one complete tea or dessert set of Chinese porcelain. However, it was usually stipulated that they must not be of any European design but essentially of Chinese costume or of Chinese domestic scenes preferably with the figures clothed in official Chinese robes faithfully depicting Court dresses and with the Imperial yellow, or the red for "good luck", so predominant in Chinese social life.
More interesting still was the value set upon this porcelain by the aristocracy in Europe from the earliest times. For instance, upon the death of King Manuel I, it was found that among the highly prized articles in the inventory of the royal estate were a number of pieces of Chinese porcelain. From this fact alone it will be seen that the chinaware in the possession of highly placed Portuguese families was regarded with some degree of pride as an heirloom belonging to the elite class.
In this connection it is worthy of remark that in the heyday of the English East India Company at Canton and Macao, British firms were known to take pride in having for daily use crockery made to special order at Canton. The more prosperous firms were known to have burnt in on the plates, dishes and other pieces of tableware, large and small emblematic designs distinctive of the firms, as for example, national flags, or armorial bearings.
In other cases, illustrations of the firms' ships and vessels, the memory of which it was the pride of many firms of those days to preserve with the national flags floating to the breeze, were a favoured design. Until a decade ago a complete set of chinaware from soup plates to coffee cups was kept as an heirloom in a Hongkong home. It bore the design of a Portuguese ship and was kept in the home of a direct descendant of the original owner. The origin of the design of the plate is of sufficient interest to be recorded. The ship perpetuated the name of the good ship Brilhante, which used to ply between Macao and Brazil in the early days of the XIXth century. It was in this ship that a Portuguese, Mr. João António Alves, a native of Selavisa, in Portugal, sailed from Brazil to Macao in his youth, as the result of which voyage he amassed a small fortune. This led the Portuguese merchant to wish to preserve the memory of the Brilhante. Following the custom of the period, Mr. Alves placed an order with the Chinese in the interior for a dinner service. A casual chance enabled a globe-trotter a few years ago in Hongkong to get into touch with the owner, a descendant of Mr. João Alves, by whom the porcelain set was disposed of. Doubtless the treasure is now safely deposited in some wealthy American home as a relic of bygone days when Macao was the home port of intensely keen trade competition for fast-sailing majestic vessels of elegant lines and graceful masts and sails which were the pride and boast of their owners.
It was left to the pertinacity of the pioneering spirit of the Portuguese to prove to the Chinese that, in spite of their belief that trade was beneath the notice of the ruling class, much could be gained mutually by an interchange of goods between the East and the West. Chinese mandarindom spurned the advances for commercial intercourse. Notwithstanding, Macao was not discouraged but persisted in a regular interchange from year to year and so developed a trade of small proportions in the beginning which slowly increased with the passing years. Silk from China, carvings in ivory and wood, decorated screens and fans, precious jade, all found their way to Portugal in ever-increasing quantities and higher values. In exchange for these Lisbon exported the wares and goods collected by Portuguese merchants from the industrial centres of Europe.
In the heyday of Portuguese prosperity, grandees sported silk-woven robes and brocades of elaborate design and workmanship. Tea was made fashionable in Portugal and its popularity in England was attributed to the Portuguese princess Catherine when she was married to King Charles II of England. In England tea became so fashionable that a contemporary English poet wrote an ode in praise of the Portuguese princess and her favourite beverage:
"The best of queens and best of herbs we owe
To that bold nation who the way did show
To the fair region where the sun doth rise,
Whose rich productions we so justly prize."
From this modest beginning the trade, which like that of all other commodities exchanged between Lisbon and China was based on a principle of fairness and justice, assumed greater and greater proportions. The English East India Company throve on the origin of the tea trade which in turn produced benefits to China beyond the dreams of avarice.
Textiles and sundries of British manufacture and other goods of Continental make became more and more appreciated by Chinese consumers. Gold and silver, and metals like copper, iron and lead, metalware and knives and scissors found their way into China, until with time practically all items of merchandise were listed in the profitable trade between the Orient and the Occident. The Portuguese unselfishly showed the way to beneficial reciprocity, thus setting the first example of the "Open-door" policy which became such a burning question during the last years of the XIXth century in China. The slamming of the door in the face of competitive nations has been the cause of wars in the past!
Portugal nevertheless steadfastly adhered to the principles which she had enunciated. More than that, she actually put them into practice despite the envy of unsuccessful maritime shipping ventures and disgruntled foreigners. In dealing with the Chinese, these competitors, whose tactlessness and ignorance caused their own failure, did not hesitate to lay the blame on the Portuguese. It is not sought to minimise the gravity of this statement, in substantiation of which it is only necessary to reproduce portion of a protest from Macao dated the 28th August, 1637.10 The protest was addressed to the Commander and Factor of the English fleet, of Captain Weddell's trading expedition to China. The extract we refer to reads as follows:
"Any trade that we might have with you would cost us many vexations and annoyance with the great Mandarins, and loss of property; and that although the ship London came with a Portuguese factor and merchants and anchored at a great distance from this City, nevertheless she brought great trouble and loss upon this city; how much more so your Worships who came without order from our King or from the Lord Viceroy of India.
"But although we foresaw these evils, yet we gave order with all good will, that your Worships should be supplied with everything you asked for, both provisions and equipment for your vessels as far as was possible to us. And in spite of all the reasons we brought forward and the many we gave your Worships verbally, you paid no heed to them, but sent your pinnace to the river of Canton to speak with the Mandarins, a course which fills us with amazement, for it is likely to cost us much unpleasantness with these natives. And later your Worships proceeded to the mouth of the river of Canton with all your four ships, endeavouring to do commerce there, greatly to our prejudice, it being the only port on which we depend for our livelihood. For which reason the Mandarins are much disturbed and anxious, seeing your ships where our vessels have never reached, and they send us many orders, that we do command your Worships to quit their kingdom, compelling us to make your Worships put out to the open sea, and deliver their ports from you. And that which your Worships have done at present is to the Chinese one of the worst crimes, and it will all fall on us, as time will show; and it is certain that did your Worships understand what you have done, we believe you would never have done it; since what your Worships are doing is accumulating great crimes to this city, and giving you that we are the cause of your stay, they (the Mandarins) send express orders to us to make your Worships leave the port where you are".
Captain Weddell's use of the waters of Macao on this trading voyage to Canton was made the excuse for the imposition of a penalty of 80,000 taels by the mandarins. It must be conceded therefore that the Portuguese had good grounds for lodging the protest as firmly and in as courteous a language as they did against the unauthorised forcing of the passage to Canton in violation of Chinese prohibition.
The substantial figures of the annual foreign trade of China, during recent years, as compared with its extremely modest beginnings, are testimony to the pertinacity of the early Portuguese traders at Macao. They are also the consequence of the Portuguese perseverance and confidence which was so evident in the people who moved the enterprising voyages to the East, for did not these voyages give Europe the sea-passage and the wealthy markets of China and Japan? There is no reason to doubt that the hard-working and trustworthy Portuguese, with their will and ability to serve, will continue with much the same spirit and signal success, for generations to come, to support the prosecution of a policy that has benefitted the peoples of the East and West so long and so well.
The Portuguese Padroado and the Jesuits College at Macao.
From his eyrie at Sagres Prince Henry was ever looking with visionary eyes southward, seeing the cities of the unknown world opening before him, and travelling in his imagination along the coast of his dreams, voyaging in his mind to the uttermost limits of far Cathay.11 These were not the idle speculations of a daydreamer, but the ability to peer into a dim future, given to a genius, divine-inspired, as it were, to see with a clear vision the distant realisation of the "Portuguese Empire yet to be". In the preceding chapter we have outlined the outcome of the earliest successes of the voyages to the East. Other nations who trailed behind the intrepid discoverers of the sea route to China had in their minds trade and commerce; but not so the Portuguese pioneers. None will be found so bold as to deny that the Nations which followed in the train of the Portuguese in the successes resulting from the early voyages of discovery have not been singularly successful in founding colonies and developing a maritime trade which has brought to them colossal wealth. This wealth has been of cumulative effect.
"Before the day of Discoveries and Conquests the Gospel was almost entirely confined to Europe. But as soon as the Portuguese entered the gateways of the East and distributed their forts along the coasts of the Dark Continent and of Asia the light of Christianity quickly spread to all places, with an invitation to the peoples of territories accepting the new rulers no less than those who continued to rule themselves to accept the benefits of Christian civilisation." 12 "... We are essentially a missionary nation," concludes His Grace Dom José da Costa Nunes.
Antonio Bocarro is an early authority for the statement that Macao is "the port by which the Apostle Saint Thomas entered China by sea from India, and by which in these times (circa 1635) the Holy Gospel is carried by the religious of the Company of Jesus into these Kingdoms, and to those of Japan and Cochin-China, with great glory to God, and to the increase of His Church". From this stage I rely on the authoritative account of the Portuguese Padroado by His Lordship the Bishop of Macao (now His Grace the Archbishop of Goa) contributed to the Macao Review of January, 1930. I quote:
"The Diocese of Macao was established in the year 1575, at the request of Dom Sebastião, King of Portugal, by Papal Bull, Super specula militantis Ecclesiae, of Pope Gregory XIII. It comprised at that time China, Korea, Japan, Tonquin, and adjacent islands, with a total population of five hundred million souls.
"To serve this enormous number of non-Christians the Portuguese had the services of a great number of religious congregations, national and otherwise.
"That was a time when all Europe had raised a paean of admiration and acknowledgment to the tiny country which had succeeded in such great accomplishments over the seas, when Portugal succeeded in revealing new worlds to the old. To Portugal then there came a continual succession of groups of ministers of religion, undertaking to serve in the Missions of the Portuguese Padroado.
"In this manner it was possible for the Portuguese nation to spread the story of the Gospel through Africa and over all their vast Eastern domains succeeding in a work so great that even to-day, to a person unprejudiced in his investigations and searching genuine sources, there is real cause for admiration.
"Macao contributed in no small measure to the development of this work. And after the seeds of evangelisation had been sown here, other seeds were soon carried to and germinated in other territories at this other end of Asia. From the lovely City of the Name of God there went forth the first apostles to preach the story of Christianity to the Chinese and the Japanese and the Tonquinese and others, teaching a doctrine which those peoples had never heard of and a moral that did not lose sight of the ancient precepts of their own philosophers.
"Portugal came to be known and admired by the peoples of the East; for the men who ventured forth from old Macao, burning with earnest fervour and love for souls, bore in their hearts a fond love for the Portuguese nation, and wherever they preached they told of the greatness and prestige of her name.
"But, as may be expected, in consequence of the spread of Christianity there were established new centres of missionary activity and, ere long, other dioceses were constituted in regions which were gradually separated from the erstwhile diocese of Macao. Thus, in 1588, His Holiness Sixtus V separated Japan from the diocese of Macao, creating by Papal Bull, Hodie Sanctissimus, dated 14th February, the Portuguese diocese of "Funay".
"In 1659, Pope Alexander VII entrusted the diocese of Tonquin to the Vicar General, Mongr. Pallu, to whom was also given the work of evangelisation among the people of Yunnan, Kweichow, Hunan, Szechuan and Kwangsi; and in the same year Rome confided to the care of Mongr. Cotolendi, the provinces of Kiangsu, Anhwei, Kansu, Shensi, Shansi, Chihli, Shan Tung, Manchuria, and the kingdom of Korea. On the same occasion Mongr. de Lamotte-Lambert was entrusted with the diocese of Chekiang, Kiangsi, Fukien, Formosa and Kwangtung and Hainan.
"The Padroado was born, so to speak, at Ceuta, even though in a more restricted manner it had Goa for its cradle, and it extended along the coast of Africa, penetrating to Ethiopia and Abyssinia, and spread through Hindustan, to Pegu, Macao, China and Japan, forming important centres of Christianity, many of which are to this day administered by the Portuguese clergy."
The stately ruin of Macao's San Paolo, which was in the day of its prime the headquarters of the mighty missions which depended upon Macao for their very existence, is spoken of by the Rev. Father J. D. Francis, in the Rock (reproduced in the Macao Review of March, 1930). He called it a "Symbolical Ruin". We reproduce the description hereunder:
"We shall never understand Macao if we consider it merely as a 16th century edition of Hong Kong. The fact is that old Macao differed from new Hong Kong as much, and in the same way as the spirit of the old empires differed from the empires of to-day. Therein lies the difference between them and the ancient empires of Portugal and Spain. This is not to say that commercial motives did not play a part and an important part. Such a statement would be manifestly false. But commercialism was not the exclusive motive, nor even the dominating one, in the minds of the people. They believed that they were fulfilling a duty incumbent on Christian nations to bring the light of faith to those who sat in darkness.
"I have recently been reading an old book written in 1644 in Portuguese and later translated into Italian and finally into French. It is an Account of the (Jesuit) Province of Japan, by an ardent Portuguese missioner, Father Cardim. The author left the great Portuguese missions. He was to return to the East again later and then in his great Batalhas da Companhia de Jesus (1650) would be still more fervid in praise of Macao. But for the moment I am concerned with his first work. In it there is a passage on the trade of Macao and the spirit of its citizens which can hardly be read without thinking of Hong Kong and making comparisons which ndash; let us admit- are hardly in favour of the modern Empire's outpost. 'Macao, he writes, 'is put together of very fair buildings and is rich by reason of the commerce and traffic that go on there by night and by day; it has Noble and Honourable Citizens. In fine, it is held in great renown through the whole Orient inasmuch as it is the store of all those goods of gold, silver, silk, pearls and other jewels, of all manner of drugs, spices, and perfumes from China, Japan, Tonkin, Cochinchina, Siam, Cambodia, Macassar, Solor, and above all for that it is the Head of Christendom in the East'.
"Notice the last passage. Trade was a big factor in Macao; it is the only factor in Hong Kong. The old Empires doubtless had their eye to business, but "above all" they claimed to be the bearers of the Gospel of Christ. It makes little difference to our present subject that they often fell woefully short of this ideal. At any rate, they had an ideal.
"In the Batalhas da Companhia de Jesus (1650), Cardim sings the praises of Macao in an even more unrestrained tone. It becomes the foster-mother of martyrs, the fortress whence captains sally forth to defeat idolatry and hell, the quiet harbour whence bodies broken with toil send forth merit-laden souls to heaven. In fine, the Province that bleeds in Japan or Cochinchina, and toils gloriously in Annam or Tonkin, Hainan, Cambodia, and the Laos should be called, not the Province of Japan but the Province of Macao.
"This was no empty nor lightly won praise. In 1640, for instance, Macao had sent a noble embassy, led by some of its most distinguished citizens, to Japao and sixty-one Portuguese or Chinese members of it had been put to death; the survivors testified how punctiliously "Roderic Synches de Paredoz" had assured himself by a thrice-put faith of Jesus Christ. They got free of their bonds in order to scourge themselves with ropes in prison. Macao celebrated the news of their death, not with mourning but ndash; as was fitting for the death of martyrs ndash; with the pealing of church bells, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Te-Deums, salvos of artillery, and twenty days of festival.
"You catch this same atmosphere of triumphant faith in the Oriente Conquistado of de Sousa. At the end of the Fourth Conquest, for example, you have the description of the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at dawn on Easter Sunday, with the music of drum and flute and hautboy, the torches and the dances, the maidens, flower-crowned at the windows, the roses and the rose-water flung upon the crowds and upon the Canopy over the Sacred Host.
"Such is the setting you must recall as you mount the broad stepped approach to Macao's Sao Paolo. It is a Sacred Way and you are approaching an Arch of Triumph ndash; the Capitol of the Missions of the East is before you. Even the ruin is symbolical. It speaks at once of a glory that is gone, of the spirit that inspired what was best in the great age of a great nation. And it is not, perhaps, without significance that the ruins of Sao Paolo should be ever present to the eyes of the citizen of Macao as he dreams of an empire that has vanished and seeks for causes of its disappearance.
"Our photograph shows the approach (than which nothing more majestic was seen by Cardim, even in Rome itself) and the façade. The church was built in 1602 in honour of the Virgin Mother. The façade and the steps were added in 1640 through the labour of Japanese Christians, driven from their homes by persecution, and in 1835 the whole building was destroyed by fire leaving only the façade and the approach of granite steps. Even in its ruins, the church is a testimony to the prosperity of that town of "2,000 hearths and little less than 40,000 Christian souls, each family having twenty persons, the Portuguese there being in very easy circumstances with plenty of servitors and having constantly 8,000 soldiers in garrison for so important a place.'
Chinese members of it had been put to death; the survivors testified how punctiliously "Roderic Synches de Paredoz" had assured himself by a thrice-put faith of Jesus Christ. They got free of their bonds in order to scourge themselves with ropes in prison. Macao celebrated the news of their death, not with mourning but ndash; as was fitting for the death of martyrs ndash; with the pealing of church bells, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Te-Deums, salvos of artillery, and twenty days of festival.
"You catch this same atmosphere of triumphant faith in the Oriente Conquistado of de Sousa. At the end of the Fourth Conquest, for example, you have the description of the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at dawn on Easter Sunday, with the music of drum and flute and hautboy, the torches and the dances, the maidens, flower-crowned at the windows, the roses and the rose-water flung upon the crowds and upon the Canopy over the Sacred Host.
"Such is the setting you must recall as you mount the broad stepped approach to Macao's Sao Paolo. It is a Sacred Way and you are approaching an Arch of Triumph ndash; the Capitol of the Missions of the East is before you. Even the ruin is symbolical. It speaks at once of a glory that is gone, of the spirit that inspired what was best in the great age of a great nation. And it is not, perhaps, without significance that the ruins of Sao Paolo should be ever present to the eyes of the citizen of Macao as he dreams of an empire that has vanished and seeks for causes of its disappearance.
"Our photograph shows the approach (than which nothing more majestic was seen by Cardim, even in Rome itself) and the façade. The church was built in 1602 in honour of the Virgin Mother. The façade and the steps were added in 1640 through the labour of Japanese Christians, driven from their homes by persecution, and in 1835 the whole building was destroyed by fire leaving only the façade and the approach of granite steps. Even in its ruins, the church is a testimony to the prosperity of that town of "2,000 hearths and little less than 40,000 Christian souls, each family having twenty persons, the Portuguese there being in very easy circumstances with plenty of servitors and having constantly 8,000 soldiers in garrison for so important a place.'
"Let Father Cardim introduce the church and the college that stood to the right as one mounts the steps: 'the college of the Society of Jesus at Macao, is built on a high group and ordinarily keeps sixty persons; it has the standing of an University; all the sciences from Grammar to Sacred Theology included are taught there and the degree of Doctor is there conferred upon the fit; our church is fair indeed and very spacious, having with other ornaments certain bronze statues of our Saints on its façade and moreover the statues of the Virgin of Virgins and of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul likewise of bronze; the Citizens attend in remarkable numbers and many of the Fathers are constantly employed in hearing confessions, in preaching and other functions.' In the 'Batalhas' he tells us of the alms collected and distributed and of the private retreats made in the college by many citizens. It was an active life and the poor ruin must feel lonely now.
"When Cardim wrote those words in his 'Account' of 1644, he could not have seen the new façade; perhaps he had seen the plans or perhaps some sketch of the completed structure ndash; more likely the former for there are no statues of St. Peter and St. Paul on the building now nor could have been. It is indeed called São Paolo but that is a confusion and yet no wrong is done the missioners; the great Apostle was their favourite patron in Macao as in Goa. But the church was the Church of the Mother of God; so the proud carving over the main door proclaims and the whole façade confirms.
"It will not be unprofitable with the help of the photograph to read the story which this monument of old Macao wishes to tell us. The style is typical; it proclaims itself afar as the Baroque of the 17th century with all its associations of Rome and Europe ndash; a Catholic style for all Christendom starting from Rome. The Ionic and Corinthian pillars have learned the newer style of Rome and there too learned the ornamental function of bearing only the weight of cornices and obelisks; and dwarf obelisks themselves have come from Egypt through the same Rome, a Rome that now weds them to Chinese characters and Eastern craftsmanship.
"The façade reminds me of the engraved frontispieces of the period, full of architectural design and symbolism with broad Latin lettering of the title of the book. Here the content is just a great sermon in stone ndash; the vital story of the Incarnation and the great part which Mary played in it. Consequently in the three important central places, starting from the pediment above, you will find if you consult the accompanying photo, first the Dove of the Holy Ghost, next the Christ Child whose left hand once carried the orb of Kingship, and finally, the Mother of God. Under her is the empty space that was once a window and under that the door.
"Few façades tell their tale so clearly ndash; but few centuries have been so systematic in their theology as the 17th and few have been so finished in the logical and rhetorical utterance of their theology. If we could live into all the associations of this majestic ruin, the streets, the harbour, the sea at Macao would be peopled for us with visions of ardent, heroic men and their ships bearing the name of the Great Captain to the people that were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death; the view from São Paolo would widen into Eternity, for me who lived within that college walls often bore the slashes of pagan tortures for the adornment of their bodies and in that church men once said Mass who thereafter died in the smoke pits of Japan."
Enough has been stated in the preceding pages to establish the truth so forcefully established by Dom José da Costa Nunes that "We (the Portuguese) are essentially a missionary nation". There is almost a paraphrase of that statement in the book Jesuits at the Court of Peking by a Protestant missionary, the Rev. C. W. Allen.13 The paragraph reads:
"It is a well-known fact that the early Portuguese navigators and discoverers were not merely traders seeking new success of wealth, they were also filled with a zeal for the extension of the Catholic Faith. The opening up of the world presented new areas for the conquests of the Cross, and these hardy adventures were armed with royal commissions to occupy territory in the name of the Holy Church of Christ.
"The Papal Bull of Alexander VI which declared the King of Portugal 'Lord of the Navigation, Conquests and Trade of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India', indicated that all those territories came under the jurisdiction of the Holy See, claiming them for the Christian religion."
From our long experience and intimate knowledge of Macao, it can be safely asserted that Christian evangelisation and medical missionary work go hand in hand. Montalto de Jesus14 writes: "Zealous as Macao was for the work of evangelisation, it was amidst great joy that the accomplished Ricci started to establish (in China) the mission which, scientifically as well as religiously, proved so glorious to Western prestige in China". He thus anticipated the tribute so fairly paid to Macao by the American Medical Missionary Society at Canton. When that Society celebrated the first hundred years (1835-1935) of the foundation of the Canton Hospital, Dr. Wm. W. Cadbury, A.M., M.D., F.A.C.P., Superintendent of that institution, in collaboration with Miss Mary Hosie Jones, B.A., produced a report, in the form of a book under the title of At the Point of a Lancet, in which the following passage appears: –
"In 1557 the Portuguese acquired Macao which is situated on the coast, less than a hundred miles from Canton. This city has played an important part in the introduction of Christianity and western medicine to China. The Portuguese set up a hospital and a leprosarium soon after their possession of this city and it is possible that to them belongs the honour of founding one of the first hospitals in the world . . . Macao's historical importance lies in the fact that she was the bridge to the almost hermetically sealed city of Canton. Had Macao not belonged to a foreign country, it is safe to say that Christianity and Western medicine would not have come into China until a much later date". 15
To go into greater detail, it might be stated that the honour of setting up the hospital and leprosarium, referred to by Dr. Cadbury, belongs to the founders of the Santa Casa da Misericordia (the Holy House of Mercy), an institution created with funds first raised by the forefathers of many Portuguese now resident in Hongkong and elsewhere in the Orient. The hospital, St. Raphael's, was founded in 1569 and is still functioning as a very useful and charitable institution. For example, free medical attendance is given to all comers seeking shelter in Macao; in most cases also medicine is distributed free on the prescription of the medical officer of the Hospital, whose professional services are also available free of charge to those not in a position to pay. It was through this hospital and its free services that the Chinese first came to know of the advantages of Western medicine, and the curative properties of the drugs used in Western pharmacopoeia. Chincona, from Brazil, was first introduced into Macao and the wonderful medicinal properties which this famous bark contains were made known to the Chinese who obtained the advantages of Western treatment by the doors of St. Raphael's being open to them.
Wherever they went the Portuguese sought for plants with curative properties. Among the precious documents in the archives in Lisbon there is a letter addressed to the King of Portugal, dated at Cochin, 26th January, 1516, "regarding some plants, and medicinal drugs in the Indies". It was written by Thomé Pires, who was later selected as the first Portuguese envoy to China, and this letter proves his exceptional medical qualifications ndash; that he was not a mere apothecary, as some writer have tried to make out, but that he could write (at a time when few except the clergy could even read) and that his knowledge of medicine was not limited to the treatment of ills but also included special qualifications in the selection and study of plants of curative value, while he enjoyed the privilege of direct personal communication with his sovereign. Among the medicinal plants and drugs listed by him are Incense, Opium, Tamarind, Galangal, Myrabolams, Aloes, Spikenard, Myrrh, Mummy, Betel, and Seed-pearl. In many cases he explains the properties of each, the value of the familiar Rhubarb being extolled in Pires's list.
It should be noted, in passing, that rhubarb, from China, figured as an important article among Far Eastern exports to Europe, and continued to figure prominently in the invoices for nearly four hundred years.
Speaking of rhubarb, Garcia da Horta says, "it comes from China by land, horses are purged with it in Persia. It is called ravam chini, and the Moors call it only ravam, but all confess that there is no other but that from China. So that the rhubarb of ravam indico does not come from Barbary, but that which is brought to India is taken on to Barbary, coming first from China to India".
Mention must also be made of Garcia da Horta's famous book16 which may well be called a classic, but to which justice was not done till very recent years. It is an exhaustive treatise of all the medicinal products of the Far East, with full particulars of the properties and uses of each, and details of the most important remedies for the common diseases. The book includes the very earliest description of cholera morbus, as a deadly tropical disease of the intestinal organs.
The medical services of the early Portuguese made an impression particularly in Japan, and though it cannot be said that their influence in China was rapid, it can be claimed that the acquaintance by the Chinese with a number of important drugs was due entirely to the work of the Portuguese. As a matter of fact, till very recent times, medicinal plants brought from Europe were to be found in the gardens of the gentry of Macao.
An example of the enthusiasm displayed by at least one among several Portuguese priests is given of Father João de Loureiro who wishing to enter Cochinchina decided to dedicate himself to the study of botany and thus serve the inhabitants of that country as a physician. He acquired the text book by Linnaeus, then just published, and applied himself so assiduously to his work that he was able to compile the Flora cochinchinensis, the publication of which earned for him all the highest scientific distinctions of Europe, including the Fellowship of the English Royal Society of Arts. He was the first Portuguese to be so honoured.
It was in Macao that vaccination against small-pox was first practised among the Chinese, also ophthalmic surgery, etc.
The establishment of the leprosarium at Macao in 1569 is another service of which the Portuguese may also well be proud. The priests in association with the laity were responsible for this humanitarian service.
With the arrival of Francis Xavier on the coast of China in 1552 the first serious attempt to establish a base for Portuguese missionary enterprise in China began, and the first documents traceable to Macao are two letters in Lisbon with the place date of Macao which show that even at that early date Portuguese missionaries became active in the missionary field. The letters were written respectively by Father Melchior Nunes Barreto and Fernão Mendes Pinto. The latter enjoys the reputation of being the author of the celebrated "peregrinations" and was one of the first Portuguese to land in Japan.
Between Malacca and Japan, Macao became the half-way house where travellers, priests as well as merchants, could rest between monsoons before continuing their voyages. It was not long before the Jesuits decided to establish a Mission at Macao, and in 1565, the first Mission House was established in the Portuguese colony, to be followed not long after by a college and seminary for preparing youths for the priesthood, in order that they might serve in Japan and other places where the Jesuits had commenced the work of evangelisation. From small beginnings grew the College of St. Paul, regarding the magnificent work of which Father J. D. Francis waxes so enthusiastic. The missionary successes of Francis Xavier and those who followed in his footsteps in the Portuguese missions stirred the imagination of scholars all over Europe, and learned men of all nationalities, anxious to take part in the services which the Portuguese discoveries enabled men to create, flocked to the banner of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the world-famed Jesuit Order. The Relations and Collections of Letters which were published in Europe describing the work of the Jesuit missions yet further served to stimulate the enthusiasm, while the Tractado das Cousas da China by Father Gaspar da Cruz, the first published description of China and the people of this country, became known to the literary world through several translations and plagiarised editions.
Father Matheus Ricci was one of the enthusiastic and learned missioners to reach Macao, and after a period of training here was sent to China. He set himself to work to master the difficulties of the Chinese language in Macao and entering China his great learning and zeal eventually brought him to the notice of certain of the literati, despite the jealousies of the eunuchs and the recalcitrant members of the Board of Rites. His tact and ability earned for Ricci the loyal friendship of several of the highest mandarins, through whom he was introduced to the Emperor Wan Li.
The success of Father Ricci made possible by the support he received from Macao, marked a great step forward in Christian evangelisation and it was not long before a wide circle of learned priests made their mark at the Court of Peking. This statement is supported in a letter dated Peking, 22nd August, 1608, which appears in Tacchi Venturi's Opere Storiche del P. Matteo Ricci (Macerata, 1913), Vol. II, p. 367, from which it is gathered that Father Matheus Ricci, founder of the Peking Mission and justly styled the "First Sinologue", did not stop from appealing to the Provincial General of the Society of Jesus to send more and more men of letters and learning ndash; "huomini di buono ingegno e litterati" – and with reiterated appeals he begged that he might be given, for the Court of Peking, "one astronomer capable of correcting with certainty the astronomical errors of the Chinese and so earn for the missionaries the necessary authority for the ministry as Masters of Religion". The wishes of the illustrious sinologue were suitably complied with and the knowledge of the mathematicians and astronomers and geographers who came to the Court of Peking was something new in the eyes of the astute Emperor. Thus it was not long before Wan-Li was conferring distinctions upon these scholars from the West. Nothing was too good for them: land and money for churches and colleges were heaped upon them and the highest honours were given to the priests, not only in their lifetime but posthumously.
For instance, upon the death of Ricci in 1610, Emperor Wan Li allotted the land, north of Peking city, now known as the Cemetery of Chala, within the extensive grounds of the imperial estates, and now forming part of the beautiful and well-kept grounds of the Provincial House of the Lazarist Mission, and of the College of the Marists Brothers. Among the tombstones erected in the Cemetery of Chala is one in marble, over Father Ricci's tomb, presented by the Chinese Emperor with an inscription traced from the Emperor's own calligraphy. This tombstone survived the vandalism of the Chinese fanatics of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Within this cemetery now stands a chapel dedicated as a memorial to the Catholic priests who suffered martyrdom in that Rebellion, and round the walls of the chapel can be read the names of all these martyrs. Also buried in Chala are famous missionaries like Fathers Verbiest, Francisco Cardoso, Caetano Pires (Bishop of the Lazarist Mission), Gabriel de Magalhães, Antonio de Magalhães, Nicolas Longobardi, Thomas Pereira, Alexandre de Gouvea (Bishop of the Lazarists), João Schall von Bell, Augustine de Hallerstein, Felix da Rocha, André Pereira, and, among many others who made their mark, several Macao-born priests of the Jesuit Order.
The mention of these great names brings to mind the fact that the mathematicians and other scientists sent to China by the Superior General of the Society of Jesus included priests who would have been recognised as astronomers of the first rank even in Europe at the time. Father Adão Schall von Bell, a German, and his Portuguese colleagues, Fathers Gabriel de Magalhães and Manoel Dias, were followed by the celebrated Father Ferdinand Verbiest, a Belgian, and Father Thomas Pereira, Portuguese astronomer, machinist and musician.
Together these form a splendid combination of talent and would have left their mark in any court of Europe. Father von Bell was made President and Director of the Observatory not without the envy of some of the Chinese, with honours never before conferred by the Chinese on any foreigner. Father Magalhães was his humble and modest assistant at the Astronomical Board, and together with Father Manuel Dias he directed the work of between a hundred and fifty and two hundred assistants. Father Manoel Dias also wrote on geography and astronomy and his books printed in Chinese are classics which attest the admiration in which his knowledge was held by the Chinese. Father Verbiest succeeded Father Schall as President of the Astronomical Board and his knowledge of astronomy and mathematics marks him as one of the greatest scientists of his day. After him came Father Thomas Pereira at the Mathematical Board, as President and he, like his predecessor, whose assistant he was for many years, was a mandarin in China of the highest rank. He served the Chinese as Envoy to Russia for the demarcation of the boundaries between Russia and China.
As geographers, these priests drew the first satisfactory maps of China, works which are still considered wonders of accuracy. In this work they had the splendid example and tradition of the fine maps and charts which the Portuguese cartographers of the XVIth century had made celebrated. The travels of the priests overland, often forgotten by modern travellers, are achievements which would be considered remarkable even at the present day when modern equipment and paraphernalia and the best means of transport are available. Father António de Andrade visited Tibet in 1600, walking overland from Goa, and in the land of the Lamas set up a mission which survived for many years, but closed down through shortage of missioners. The journey of Brother Benedict de Goes, overland from India to Peking, is now better known, through the efforts of modern writers, and is an achievement of the first rank.
The priests at Peking had, as assistants, scholars from the College of St. Paul in Macao, among them Chinese students whose education had qualified them for admission into the Church. The superiors at Peking were glad to welcome them as invaluable coadjutors in the field of missionary labour in the expanding communities of converts in China. Among the converts of the pioneering missionaries were Chinese officials of very high rank who proved themselves to be of the utmost aid to Christianity throughout the Empire. Hsü Kuang-chi, a Ko-lao and a native of Shanghai, who gave the Portuguese Mission the property of Siccawei which the French Jesuits now occupy, and Li Chih-tsao, another high ranking official, accepted the Christian faith. The services of these two officials to the cause of Christianity in China deserve the highest praise and have earned for them recognition which has created for them niches in the temple of fame to preserve their names in undying memory. The first Chinese to become a Jesuit hailed, as might be expected, from Kwangtung. His name was Ching Ming-chen; he was also known by his Portuguese name of Sebastião Fernandes. He came of a wealthy family but gave up all worldly attractions to follow in the footsteps of his teachers, whom he served long and well.
Foreign rivalries in Japan had been followed by the terrible persecutions in that country, and at length not only the priests but Portuguese traders were forbidden to set foot on Japanese soil. This was a severe blow to Portuguese trade centred at Macao, from which were derived the funds to enable mission work to be carried on all over eastern Asia, and the success of the Jesuits at Peking led the Portuguese to hope that a new era was about to dawn in China. As a matter of fact, Christianity in the Middle Kingdom was making such headway that it is recorded that members of the Court had embraced the Catholic faith. It was at this juncture that the Manchus invaded China, and the Portuguese of Macao can take special pride in the fact that they equipped and despatched several expeditions, including cannon, artillerymen and troops, to aid the Ming emperors against the invaders. At this time they taught the Chinese the art of casting the modern culverin which had been manufactured with such success in Macao.
Major C. R. Boxer, in one of his studies regarding the Portuguese in China, published, in this connection, an excellent article containing much material, based on long and assiduous research, in the Tíen Hsia Monthly (Shanghai), August, 1938, from which the following telling extract is made:17
"Most important . . . was the help rendered to Yung Li, the last, and for a time the most successful, pretender to the Ming Throne. Yung Li had raised the standard of rebellion in 1646, and was soon master of the southern provinces of Kwangtung and Kwangsi. The Manchu counter-attack was not long delayed, and Canton fell to the Tartars in January 1647. Yung Li retired to Kweilin, provincial capital of Kwangsi, which sustained a five months' siege from March to July, when the assailants finally withdrew. The repulse of the Manchus from the walls of Kweilin in July 1647, was the signal for a general revolt in South China, not only in Kwangtung but seven provinces in all rallied to the banner of Yung Li. This successful defence of Kweilin was due in no small measure to the assistance rendered by a Portuguese contingent of 300 men from Macao under the command of Nicolao Ferreira, who had apparently been enlisted towards the end of 1646... According to other contemporary sources, Yung Li again appealed for help to the City of Macao in the autumn of 1648, shortly after the baptism of several members of his household, including his mother, wife and son and heir. It is said that on this occasion the Portuguese supplied a further contingent of 300 men with full equipment and two mortars . . . (but) Yung Li was again in desperate straits, and the victory of the Manchus was clearly only a matter of time. In November 1650, the Manchus retook Canton with great slaughter and Kweilin fell a few days later. Yung Li was now little better than a hunted fugitive in Kweichow and Yunnan, in which last province he met his death at the hands of Wu San-kwei, after having been betrayed by the Burmese with whom he had taken refuge... Fortunately- and somewhat inexplicably ndash; the Manchus at first do not seem to have borne any grudge against Macao or the Jesuits for their staunch support of the failing Ming cause; and, in fact, the new dynasty at first treated the foreigners with even greater consideration than their immediate predecessors.
"Summarising the different occasions on which the Portuguese rendered military assistance of one king or another to the Ming Dynasty, we find the following:
1620. Proposal by Drs. Hsü and Li to use Portuguese cannon against the Tartars.
1621. Four guns and bombardiers sent from Macao. Bombardiers turned back at Canton but guns let through.
1623. Board of War memorializes Emperor in favour of Portuguese gunners.
1624. Seven Portuguese gunners arrive in the North, one of whom João Correa, is killed afterwards in an accident.
1630. Expedition of Gonçalves Teixeira and Antonio del Campo from Macao to Nanchang in Kiangsi, where majority are sent back.
1631. (?) Death of Teixeira in the defence of Tengchow.
1643. One cannon and four gunners dispatched from Macao to Canton and Nanking at request of Cantonese provincial authorities.
1646. Nicolas Teixeira and 300 men join Ming pretender Yung Li.
1647. Successful defence of Kweilin by Ferreira.
1648. Alleged formation of an expeditionary force of 300 men and 2 mortars in Macao in behalf of Yung Li".
History records many debts of gratitude owing from the Chinese nation to the Portuguese at Macao. In the sphere of scientific, cultural and medical knowledge, the Jesuits from their headquarters at St. Paul's College spared no sacrifice or personal labour to contribute to the store of knowledge among the Chinese not only in the Imperial capital but all over the provincial districts of China from the earliest times of missionary activity in the Middle Kingdom to the present day. In the carrying of the doctrine of Christianity to the furthermost borders of China so great was the belief of the early missionaries in the Divine injunction for them to go and preach to all nations that many sacrificed even their lives in fanatical persecutions to uphold the Christian doctrine in the new world open to them through the successes of the earliest Portuguese navigators.
During the Manchu invasion of China, when the cause of the Ming dynasty was declining, the Portuguese at Macao offered to help China against the foreign invaders. Meanwhile Hsü Kuang-chiwas persistently endeavouring to persuade the Chinese Emperor to accept Portuguese military assistance. Up to this stage the Emperor remained indifferent and when China's cause appeared on the point of being completely lost the Chinese Court eventually thought better of their rejection, and so accepted the friendly help proffered by the Portuguese at Macao. It will be seen, by the extract from Major Boxer's careful study, how the Portuguese as genuine friends in case of need were willing to sacrifice their lives, and sometimes did so, on behalf of the Mings.
With the assumption by the Manchus of the government of China and their seizure of the reins of Government at the Capital in 1644, Macao's trade was badly hit and piracy once more became rampant on the coast of China, to the serious detriment of the trade of the would-be saviours of the Ming, that is a Chinese and not a foreign dynasty. The set-back to the commerce of Macao had its reflection on the colonial resources and it is not to be wondered at that with the diminution of trade and the curtailment of the revenues of the traders the contributors to the Mission resources were also affected to the extent that they could not live up to the contributions which it had been their wont to make in the past. With curtailed means, the missionary society was restricted in its efforts and its work suffered in consequence. Furthermore, the immunity enjoyed by the Jesuits at Peking against persecution at the hands of the Manchus came to an end when the Regents of the Empire, during the minority of Emperor K'ang Hsi, ordered the arrest and imprisonment of all the priests in China.
Arrest and imprisonment of all the priests in China! What irony of Fate! Was that the sum of reward for the sacrifices, gallantry and chivalry of the priests, for services rendered without any thought of gain to free the Chinese nation from foreign domination! The Catholic priests of the Mission under the patronage of Portugal were no mercenaries. As heroes among the earliest successful Portuguese navigators, the priests had subordinated material gains to the victory of the Cross in order to preach the doctrine of Christianity in a country where they came for "Christians" first and then for "gold".
There were compensations. With the coming of age of Emperor K'ang Hsi there began in China one of the most brilliant pages in the history of Christianity in the Middle Kingdom. The young monarch was to learn of the great capabilities and disinterested service of men from "the Western Ocean", and he took the lead in showing that "of all the nations it is China that appreciates more than others the sciences of Mathematics and Astronomy to such an extent that it might appear that she considers that the conservation of the monarchy and good government of the State depend upon these sciences".
Father Verbiest, who had already displayed such outstanding qualities under the Mings, was to achieve even greater fame, curiously enough, under the Manchus. His successor as Chief of the Portuguese Mission, Father Thomas Pereira, was a worthy disciple of Verbiest, the distinguished master. So great was the influence which Father Pereira was able to wield at the Court that he obtained from Emperor K'ang Hsi the promulgation of the celebrated Edict of Toleration, in 1692, that which no law of the old Empire gave greater liberty of action to foreigners in China.
Subsequent to the issuance of this famous Edict and as a token of gratitude to the Jesuits for having effected his recovery from two attacks of illness, Emperor K'ang Hsi made the gift of a piece of land with a home thereon inside the Imperial City. This evidence of Imperial favour was made in July, 1693. K'ang Hsi did not stop at this gracious act and later donated an adjoining piece of ground, with a substantial subscription for the erection of a Church. In due course the edifice was built and dedicated in December, 1703. In an age when intolerance and bigotry reigned almost supreme in Europe, here was a Chinese emperor, who, through the genial advice and friendly prompting of a Portuguese priest, showed the way to the nations of the West how to set aside religious prejudice so detrimental to the advancement of Christianity. Sects of mushroom growth in recent years, in foreign countries, and introduced into China, have shown a tendency to undermine the fundamental principle of the Christian doctrine of the Golden Rule.
Father Pereira was not only President of the Chinese Board of Astronomy but was also a mandarin of the highest rank, and had the ear of the Emperor in many things. Never did the chances of Christianity in China seem so bright. It might have been thought that they would have been seized upon to advance the Cause so devotedly advocated by the Portuguese chief of the Mission, but the short-sighted handling of the situation by the officials in Rome and Paris, who thought more of their national interests, brought all Father Pereira's efforts to naught. K'ang Hsi's famous Edict was allowed to lapse.
After the death of Father Pereira another Portuguese priest, Father Francisco Cardoso, a distinguished teacher of mathematics in Portugal, was sent to China and he, too, succeeded in gaining the good graces of Emperor K'ang Hsi, in spite of the cloud under which the priests were labouring due to the errors of judgment on the part of Cardinal Tournon. Cardoso's knowledge of geography and map drawing was a special qualification. At the head of a number of assistants, among whom were several Jesuit priests, Fr. Cardoso set out to map the regions of Western China. For five years he travelled through the length and breadth of China and the result of his labours was the fine map published at Peking in 1718, reproduced by Father Du Halde in his famous Book on China, and first printed in Paris in 1730-1734. For his service, Father Cardoso was also created a mandarin of high rank.
Father Andre Pereira, a new missionary, reached China while Father Cardoso was still at work on his maps of China. After studying the Chinese language at Macao he proceeded to Peking, where his knowledge of astronomy and mathematics won him instant recognition. His work and observations reported in European academies were applauded by scientific institutions, and Father Andre Pereira took rank among the great astronomers of his day. He was made an Assessor and high ranking mandarin by the Emperor of China. His work carried out in conjunction with Father Hallerstein, another member of the Portuguese Mission, an Austrian and an astronomer of distinction, deserves to be better known.
Father Felix da Rocha was one more, among many other Portuguese, to earn mandarin rank. And though the influence of the priests had begun to decline at Peking, especially after the death of Emperor K'ang Hsi (1722), the Jesuits continued to direct the work at the Imperial Observatory under K'ang Hsi's successors Emperor Yung Cheng, who reigned from 1722 to 1735, and Emperor Ch'ien Lung, who reigned from 1735 to 1795. Father Rocha was president of this service from 1774 to 1781. During Father Rocha's term of office as President of the Observatory important maps of the outlying parts of China were drawn, the work being entrusted to Father José de Espinha, who visited Tartary, travelling to the borders of Turkestan.
For more than two centuries, from 1583 to 1805, in spite of frequent persecutions and of the ill-will and jealousy of mandarins, the Jesuits succeeded in carrying on their good work in China as scientists and even as craftsmen of clockwork contrivances – lions and tigers that walked, and figures of men that moved were made by them ndash; by retaining the presidency of the Board of Astronomy, until the death of the last of the Portuguese Jesuits in China. When Father Bernardo de Almeida passed away on 12th November, 1805, at the advanced age of 77 years, he was the last of the foreign priests to attain mandarin rank in China.
The history of the Imperial Observatory of Pekin has yet to be written, but when the time comes for this to be done a conscientious writer will be called upon to reveal the full extent of the services rendered to China and to science by all those priests who worked there under the aegis of the Portuguese Mission, while the University of Macao – as the College of St. Paul might well be called ndash; will fill an important page in that history. The community of this colony, who provided liberally that the work might go on, will also be remembered.
In the middle of the XVIIIth century, the Royal College of St. Joseph was established at Macao for the training of evangelists from Macao and of Chinese nationality for the China missions. It is a melancholy reflection that the work of St. Joseph's College had to cease, when St. Paul's was also closed down, before it had accomplished anything, and the Jesuits were compelled to leave Macao in 1762. Intellectual posterity and Portuguese prestige in China were made to suffer when that step was taken! The tragedy of it all is that the bigotry of hasty legislators does not seem to pause and reflect upon the dire consequences of far-reaching import to which ill-conceived legislation may lead a nation. The persecution of the Jesuits is one of the instances in point, for it cost Portugal a great deal. But other nations have been made to suffer also by precipitate legislative enactments. St. Paul's at Macao, as is well known, was destroyed by fire over a century ago, but St. Joseph's, an educational off-shoot of St. Paul's, is functioning again, after various vicissitudes, and may yet one day come to enjoy the reflected glory and learning of the parent institution.
The work of Peking Observatory continues at Siccawei, near Shanghai, on the grounds bequeathed to the Portuguese Mission by Hsü Kuang-chi. At Siccawei the French Jesuits now conduct the famous Siccawei Observatory on a settlement housing thousands of persons composing a native community almost entirely Catholic. The prominent steeples of the Siccawei Cathedral, which stands on the grounds nearby, and the Observatory, can be seen for distance of miles from the French Concession of Shanghai. The Observatory is of world-wide repute and has been a God-send for the sea-faring community and "all who go down to the sea in ships". It supplies Shanghai regularly two or three times a day, and oftener when necessary, with meteorological observations and weather fore-casts of almost mathematical accuracy. These observations are broadcast by wireless to all weather Stations along the Coast of China, and have been the means of correctly predicting weather conditions on the China coast. In the typhoon season mariners have placed more reliance on the Siccawei storm-warnings than on anything else. They have been the means of saving thousands of lives from shipwreck; and ships with valuable cargoes are steered into shelter by cautious shipmasters guided by the timely warnings received from Siccawei during the typhoon seasons.
It is good to reflect on the source of all this service: the work of the priests in the little colony of Macao.
Services of the Jesuits to China.
Subordination of Portugal's National Interests.
The program of carrying out, with patience and fortitude, the Divine mission, not infrequently at the cost of physical suffering and even death, in pursuance of their task to win adherents to the Christian faith, constitutes a glorious chapter in the annals of Portuguese Christian evangelisation in the East. Assailed as they often were by base ingratitude, the Christian pioneers went meekly and confidently on maintaining their good work in spite of discouragement and constant, cruel persecution.
To the genius and learning of the men of the Society of Jesus I have made some reference, but have not exhausted the topics covering the services rendered by them to China and the Chinese.
With no thought of worldly gain or national aggrandisement the Jesuit priests have given of their best to the countries of their adoption, while a selfish world looks on unmoved and forgets the immensity of all that service. Nay, the fiat, that went forth "to arrest, imprison and expel the priests from the Kingdom of China", can be likened by analogy to the reference by Shakespeare when he put into the mouth of Marc Antony the words:
"The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones".
So it has been with mission labourers under Portuguese patronage. The properties gifted to the Portuguese by grateful monarchs have been made over to other peoples without so much as a "by your leave", and their services to humanity have been ignored and allowed to sink into oblivion until some conscientious scholar like Dr. Prestage or Major Boxer unearths the neglected story and brings it to the notice of a world all too poor in the knowledge of the past and too unconcerned with the golden deeds of a nation that deserves better of an ungrateful world.
Of one thing the Portuguese can boast: At no time did they utilise the achievements of the priests to further their own national aims; they subordinated, rather, the national interests of Portugal to those of the Church. They found their destiny on the seas and placed their discoveries, their own resources of ships and men, and the very lives of their seagoing nationals at the disposal of the Church. In no country was this idealism more glowingly seen than in China, while Macao, as the fulcrum of the evangelical work of the whole of the Far East, provided unstintingly for the needs of the missions which to spread the story of Gospel among the peoples of the East.
In 1557, the Portuguese established themselves at Macao, and soon afterwards one of the early steps taken by the missionaries was to prosecute their intensive studies in preparation for carrying on their religious mission. To this end, printing was looked upon as a valuable aid. Printing was then still in its infancy in Europe, and many still thought that books were the work of the Evil One.
However, we can consider the dynamic force that created the demand for printing in the Far East.
As early as 1588 the Jesuits brought a printing press and fonts of movable type from Lisbon and set up a small printing establishment in Macao at the College of St. Paul and industriously began the printing of books from movable type. They recognised that the best method of widely disseminating knowledge of Christian doctrine would be by means of printed books. Gifted as they were with the facility of acquiring knowledge of foreign languages, they began by assiduously studying and mastering the Chinese language, both written and spoken.
It was to Japan, however, mainly that the Jesuits first directed their attention with the printing plant for the production of books, like catechisms and books on Christian doctrine. To the credit of Father João Rodrigues, S. J., belongs the distinction of being the first missionary to produce, in printed form, a dictionary of the Japanese and Portuguese languages. This book bears the historical imprint of "1591". Like many of those that followed it was intended for the use of the Christian congregations of the promising new fields of Jesuit evangelising efforts. Other books were adaptations in Japanese of important books of Christian worship, and were based on their European originals.
In the year 1611, owing to persecution in Japan, the press was brought back to Macao. The last book printed in Japan to bear the title of the press was dated 1611 at Nagasaki. The next book of which we have any knowledge was dated 1620, printed at Macao, and after that nothing has been recorded of the press, but some scholars believe that it was used in Peking for the printing of books in the Chinese capital. It is known, for instance, that the Jesuits of the Portuguese mission in China wrote, in Chinese, at least one hundred and twenty-five books which were printed in China before the year 1640.
Then came the Manchu Dynasty and many documents and books were lost or destroyed, which possibly explains why no information is available to account for the date of the press. Some scholar may come across some information in the archives in Portugal to shed light on this subject.
We do know, however, that the best of the books written by the Jesuits were produced in the days of the new, i.e., the Ching, Dynasty, and it is more than likely that the priests were able to impress the Emperor of China with the fact that European printing hand press was superior to that used up to that time in China, for history records that the priests, then working in the Portuguese mission in Peking, were able to persuade Emperor K'ang Hsi to permit them to cut copper matrices of Chinese characters for the casting of metal types for the printing of books in Peking.
"As we glance over the imposing array of names, our hearts experience a thrill of pride at the wonderful feats of self-sacrifice and the accomplishments of the good fathers in those old days, and we realise how great was the Portuguese contribution to the noble cause. We notice, for instance, among many others, the names of Father João Rodrigues (dictionaries and grammars), Father Manuel Barreto, Father Luis Sequeira, (writer of important letters), Father Nicolao Pimenta, Father Luis Froes (who wrote many important letters and books), Father Gabriel de Mattos, Father Luis Pinheiro, and the names of martyrs, who suffered and died for their Faith, of heroes of every kind, of explorers and discoverers, and of men in every walk of life who wrote Portugal's name in ineffaceable letters across the story of the Far Eastern world." 18
The scientific treatises published by the Jesuits in Peking were of such interest that they impressed some of the greatest Chinese minds, and it is interesting to speculate what would have been the results for world civilisation generally and on Christian expansion in China in particular if the Ming Dynasty had not been subjugated by the Manchus; for, with the introduction of a new regime, the foreign rules, seeking some support, decided to throw the weight of their authority on the side of the Chinese literati of the old school, and Confucianism and the conservatism of the mandarin class came back to China. The doors which had seemed to be opening to science were again closed. Because of their profound learning, however, the Jesuits had obtained a high reputation and this began to make itself felt on the minds of the Chinese once more, and the book written by them on mathematics, astronomy, physics, geography and the renascent sciences of Europe once more soon began to get their due measure of attention.
The reform of the Calendar had secured the reputation of the Jesuits, and though Chinese scholars might have scoffed at the foreign scientists, Emperor K'ang Hsi gave them the fullest support, and had it not been for the tactlessness of Cardinal Tournon there is no telling to what heights the Jesuits in China might not have risen. The conciliatory K'ang Hsi, disgusted with the Europeans, turned from the Christian priests to the scholars of China once more, and Emperor Ch'ien Lung was even more lavish in his support of the literati of his own race, while the influence of the Church in China began to wane.
It is gratifying, however, to note that the scientific books of the Jesuits were not despised and were given an honoured place among the classics of China. Their scientific instruments were prized among the great "works of art" of the nation. All the famous collections of works printed by the emperors of the Manchu dynasty contain a large number of Jesuits books. For instance, Emperor Ch'ien Lung's famous Ssu Ku Chuan Shu contains eleven Jesuit works in the Astronomical and Mathematical sections alone, and the Tsung Mu Ti Yao speaks of the stimulus which the Jesuits gave to scientific knowledge even though the Chinese neglected it. It was no fault of the priests that the Chinese did not take advantage of the opportunities which they held open to them.
Father Luis Pfister's Notices Biographiques et Bibliographiques19 contains a large number of titles of books written in Chinese and published by the Jesuits who served in China in the Portuguese Missions all over the country. The subject of these books is an interesting chapter in the annals of the work of the Church and its missioners for the benefit of the Chinese people.
The compiled list reproduced hereunder of Jesuit scholarship furnishes abundant evidence of a part of the materials placed within Chinese reach by these indefatigable workers. It was in 1727 that, in response to a request by the Russian learned societies, Father André Pereira sent to the Academy of St. Petersburg a collection of books published in Peking on astronomy and the sciences. From the list of these books it is possible to form an idea of the books issued by the Imperial Astronomical Academy of China. It reads as follows: –
"1. – Four tomes or sets relating to Chinese Astronomy prepared under the patronage of Emperor K'ang Hsi. The first contains 16 books, which in addition to an introduction and a treatise on Spherical Trigonometry explains the theory of the Sun and the Moon and of eclipses, and other planets; the second contains 10 books explaining practical Astronomy in accordance with the older as well as the new processes of calculation by the Chinese method and the use of Astronomical tables; the third and fourth cover Astronomical Tables of various kinds distributed in 16 books.
"2. – One set, with the same title, consisting of Astronomical Appendix, including the two books of luni-solar Tables recently corrected.
"3. – Two sets containing 8 books covering Tables of Sines, Tangents and Cosines, as well as the Logarithms of Sines, Tangents, etc., and of natural numbers from 1 to 100,000.
"4. – Two sets, one of them containing 7 books, with various tables explaining the instruments of the Public Astronomical Observatory, the other containing 7 books also with the Tables of Longitude, Latitude, Lines of Direct Ascension and Declinations for all the fixed stars for the year 1673. In addition there are 2 other volumes, large folio in size, containing 117 illustrations, representing the instruments of the Observatory and their construction, and many other things concerning Mechanics.
"5. – One set of 8 books: The first 5 deal with the Artificial Sphere and its various uses; the 6th teaches the construction and use of Compasses of Proportion; the 7th explains the arithmetical problems of Napier's rods; the 8th explains the nature and use of the telescopes.
"6. – One set containing 5 books comprising the compendium of the Chinese annals and their chronological cycles of 60 years.
"7. – 1 book regarding "Falcone".
"8. – Folded maps representing the star map of China on the lines of the maps of Father Pardies.
"In addition two big general Maps of the stars or Astrolobes: one, the larger, in eight sheets and the smaller of one sheet."
Casual readers of the present time, glancing over the history of China may feel inclined to accept as authoritative such books on China and the people of this great country as crowded the bookshelves of the middle and end of the XIXth century. These books furnish the views of writers who gave a wholly erroneous impression of the real China, for these latter-day Europeans were the foreign trading classes and their hangers-on who lived in the Treaty ports of the Middle Kingdom and who came in contact with only the classes of Chinese who were not at all representative of Chinese thought and culture.
It might not have seemed likely to the average reader of those days that another type of book – a better and more scholarly type, revealing the true China – was already known to Europeans and duly appreciated by scholars of the West two or three centuries earlier. Serious students, who have delved into the actions and reactions of Chinese history, know, however, that there had existed a period in European cultural history when the wave of ever-swelling interest in "things Chinese" was created by the books written by members of the Portuguese missions. Limited, at first, to Portugal and Italy, the interest spread later to Spain, France, Germany, and England, and by the middle of the XVIIth century had compelled the attention of the intellectuals of Europe, and extended to wider areas of society by the middle of the XVIIIth century.
All through the XVIth century, the Jesuits issued in Portugal and Italy book after book of collections of letters from their brethren in the East, containing first-hand accounts of the civilisations of the East and the progress being made in the establishing and developing of contacts with the West by the priests themselves. Father João de Lucena's Life of St. Francis Xavier came a few years after Father Gaspar da Cruz's book on China. Both these books were printed in Portugal and aroused great enthusiasm in ecclesiastical circles all over Europe, eliciting wonderful interest in further missionary enterprise. Then followed the series of Jesuit Annuals, or reports, of which those by Father Fernão Guerreiro are the most outstanding, containing detailed particulars of the manner in which the teaching of Christianity was progressing among the peoples of Asia, and giving many details of the life and customs of the Eastern races. In this class of work the Portuguese took first place among the Europeans, though the Italians, with the printing presses and resources of Rome and Venice at their disposal, were also very active. Learning had not yet become universal, however, and these books appealed most of all to the priestly class, and in consequence the stream of missionaries eager to do the work of evangelisation included some of the great intellectuals of Europe. They were among the leaders of the time, and the accounts written by them of China and other countries – but of China in particular – of all they saw and experienced, of the need for understanding the deep social observances of the people, of the fine culture, profound philosophy and deep reverence of the Chinese for learning, began to awaken a new interest in Europe, which spread in ever widening circle as education developed and more and more people learned to read and appreciate reading.
The new missionaries soon mastered the languages of the lands of their predilection and many were the dictionaries which they compiled. A few of these were published, but in most cases transcripts of many of them were made and, passing from hand to hand, served to help those who came after, but the very existence of those Mss. seems to have been ignored by modern writers. It was not long before the books written by the missionaries, treating of China with the utmost sympathy for Chinese views and the deepest appreciation of Chinese problems and difficulties, were printed in Europe.
Father Alvaro Semedo's famous book on China was translated into many languages and became very popular, while Father Ignacio da Costa's work on Chinese learning and philosophy appealed to the learned in Europe. Father Gabriel Magalhães's Doze Excellencias da China became known to Europe through a French translation; it has been turned into many other languages. Father Thomas Pereira's book on the music of the Chinese appealed to others. Father Jacinto de Deus, a Macao-born Portuguese, wrote among other works the celebrated Vergel de Plantas e Flores which was a popular book in its days and Father António Francisco Cardim, an historian of note, wrote several books about the work of the Jesuit Missions. These were a few of the works which attracted interest among the scholars of the West.
It soon became the fashion for writers in Europe to produce their own works, based on the first-hand accounts written by the missionaries in the East for the benefit of the people in Europe. Of these, Father Anastacio Kircher's China Illustrata was one of the earliest and most popular, with its fine steel engraved plates and illustrations of the flora and fauna of Asia and particularly of China. The first edition was published in Rome in 1667. For originality and versatility the book is difficult to rival; it covers every aspect of Chinese life and customs; the illustrations include the costume of men and women in every province of China. The fact that it passed though five editions in a few years is eloquent testimony of the excellence of the book and the wide welcome accorded to it upon its appearance. Father Du Halde's General History of China, in 4 volumes, was another very popular work, as evidenced by the large number of editions published in a very short period. Neither Father Kircher nor Father Du Halde ever visited China, but their works were based on the books written by and the annual letters from the missionaries in China.
Then followed a new period when the enthusiasm for mission work reached France, and the great Jesuits from France came out to join their colleagues in the Portuguese Missions. It was not long before the King of France secured a greater influence in the nomination of priests for the Portuguese Peking Mission than the King of Portugal. Among the French priests in this Mission were Father Jean de Fontaney, Father Joseph de Premare, Father Joachim Bouvet, Father Jean-Francois Gerbillon, Father Dominique Parrenin, Father Louis Porquet, Father Antoine Gaubil, and Father Jean-Joseph-Marie Amiot, to name a few. The French Court was sending only the best and most learned of the priests of France to China. Their advent and the subsequent work they performed in the field of research and science left a deep impression in China.20
The books of the learned Frenchmen contributed very greatly to the continuance of the good work which the Portuguese had so well begun. It was a great opportunity. Europe was then, as now, all attention for anything Chinese, and a profound admiration for Chinese literature, art, and culture prevailed not only in intellectual circles but in all circles of society. Much might have come out of this great meeting of the best of the East and the West. Chinese veneration for learning had had a corresponding interest among the Chinese for western thought and culture from which much might have resulted. But this was not to be. The traders of many nations were already knocking insistently at the doors of Canton, with their interest centred principally on that which the Chinese scholars despised most. It was a misfortune for the spiritual outlook in China that the Europeans began to take a larger interest in the other side of China's activities, viz., the material, as interpreted by the merchants who were irritated and sometimes even humiliated by the restrictions to which they had to submit in their dealings with the Chinese.
If we turn from the intellectual pursuits of the Jesuits in the field of missionary labours to their activities in the spread of beneficent influences, such, for instance, as the popularising of fruits and vegetables and economic plants of one country in another, a wide gap presents itself to view. But Garcia da Orta's Colloquios dos Simples e Drogas da India and articles on the subject of Mariano de Saldanha in the Oriente Português (Nova Goa, Vols. V and VI, 1908 and 1909) are two illuminating Portuguese works that cannot be ignored in any reference to this subject.
I borrow the opening sentence from Mr. J. J. Campos's Addendum to his book The Portuguese in Bengal, p. 253; 1, when I quote that "the Portuguese not only brought to India new kinds of goods, a new language and new creeds, but also added very much to the flora of India". In a talk, on the 24th March, 1942, in a series from the Broadcasting Station of the Macao Radio Club, Mr. Jack M. Braga, alluding to the food problem created by the large influx of Portuguese and other evacuees into Macao, said that "while the major problem continues to be that of the rice supply for Macao's abnormal population, it is interesting to observe that to a certain extent the difficulties were mitigated by the large quantities of sweet potatoes and maize obtainable in the market". Speaking of sweet potatoes, he said:
"There is an interesting passage in a book The Commercial Handbook of China (1919), by Julian Arnold, the well-known Commercial Attaché of the United States Legation in China. This passage reads:
'There is a mistaken idea abroad that every Chinese man, woman and child in China eats rice every day. As a matter of fact, there are millions of Chinese living in Shensi, Shansi, and north-western China, where rice is not grown, who have never seen or tasted rice. There are millions in the rice-producing sections who cannot afford to eat rice regularly, . . . and, strictly speaking, there is reason to believe that the sweet potato occupies an even more general place in the dietary of the people throughout all sections of China than does rice'.
"This is a passage to stir one's curiosity. It is probably not known to most listeners of this radio talk, and yet when one looks around Macao at the present time and considers the very high cost of rice, it is brought home to the observer that the sweet potato occupies a much more important place as a food in China than is generally believed. And, curiously enough, the sweet potato, as distinct from the Irish potato, known among the Chinese as the Dutch tuber, was introduced into China only after the arrival of the Portuguese and it is, therefore, of comparatively recent origin in China.21
"In fact there is reason to believe that it is to the Portuguese that the Chinese owe this useful tuber-plant. As far as it has been possible to ascertain, we find that the tuber was first described in a book by a Spaniard about the middle of the XVIth century, and it was then recorded as growing in various parts of South America including the Portuguese possession of Brazil. Not unlikely, the sweet potato was included in the larder of every Portuguese ship, and it is reasonable to conclude that is was long before the Portuguese were planting the sweet potato in their orchards and gardens at Macao. From Macao its value began to be diffused and it would not have been difficult for it to be introduced into China. To the present day, Ka-Tai, one of the villages just over the Macao border, is famous for its sweet potatoes.
"There is nothing surprising about this. The Portuguese were active carriers of economic plants from one part of the world to another. For example, Chinese oranges were spread by them in Brazil and Portugal, and from Brazil they were carried to California. The Portuguese started tea plantations in several places, and some of the early plantations, in the Azores Islands, still survive. Similarly, they carried various American products to India and other places in Asia, and China owes the cultivation not only of the sweet potato to the Portuguese but also the pineapple, the custard-apple, the pawpaw (or papaia, as the Portuguese call it) and maize. The introduction of peanuts might also be due to Portuguese influence, while the Chinese learned from a Portuguese priest, in the 16th century, how the bean sprout should be produced".22
Careful inquiry has led us to believe that no exhaustive study has been made of the introduction of the flora of foreign countries into China through the medium of the early Portuguese. That they did do much in this connection cannot be doubted, and some useful purpose might be served, therefore, in examining what has been done for India by the Portuguese in this respect, something similar to which must have happened in Macao. To Campos's Portuguese in Bengal I owe the precise information contained in the following paragraphs: "Not only did the Portuguese bring new plants to India but they carried Indian plants to Europe, America, and Africa. Some kinds of canes carried by the Portuguese from Bengal and used in the Portuguese Army were called Bengalas and the word is still a common application to any sort of cane".
"Bengal lawyer" is a good example of a stout cane used as a walking stick, and the term has now this meaning.
The following is a brief list of some of the plants which Bengal owes to the Portuguese and is taken from Campos's Addendum:
I have been favoured by a friend with a list in Portuguese, of a consignment of fruits shipped from Hongkong a number of years ago. By whom, or to whom, the consignment was made; there is no means, at this distance of time, of establishing. I reproduce the list all the same in the hope that, prompted by curiosity, some searching mind may be exercised to trace the source and destination of the consignment is question. The translated list is given in three columns below:
"This is the list of fruits we are sending, stressing the fact that we do not guarantee the correctness of the scientific names given in each case:
|Names used in Macao||Scientific terms||English|
|Ata||Anona Squamosa||Custard apple|
|Figos de Portugal||Ficus carica||Fig|
|Gamute||(?)||Wild azalea fruit|
|Jacca||Artecarpus integrifolia||Jack fruit|
|Limãosinho||Citrus minimum||Chinese lemon|
|Lencock||Trapa bicornis||Water caltrop|
|Marmello bravo||(?)||Quince (Chinese)|
"We are sending therefore 33 kinds of fruits, the production of which can be greatly increased, if there should be good taste and knowledge of what this colony lacks in agriculture, to the point where it should be possible to take advantage of the land, which though limited in area, can be properly developed.
"DESCRIPTION OF THE MACAO PERSIMMON
"The plant which produces this fruit is capable of being greatly developed and is of great importance in China.
"Generally a tree of 7 years produces more than 2,000 fruits, the form and size of which vary. Some are round like oranges and others flat. The latter are larger, the smaller are longish.
"This fruit is generally from 1/2" to 5" in diameter. It is green but after ripening it becomes red like a tomato, and always fetches a good price.
"By a simple process of drying the fruit can be converted into an excellent paste (Gelatinous pulp) which yields considerable profit.
"The value of the exports of this fruit from Hongkong exceeds $ 60,000 (a year); the fruit is obtained from neighbouring districts and from Japan.
"The tree is very strong and withstands severe typhoons. Its branches are flexible and easily bent, and the wood is useful for handles for tools and is much used in the building of boats and for cars. In spite of the hardness of the wood, the tree grows rapidly and reaches a height of 40 to 50 feet. The leaves are large and round, drying and falling off in winter, leaving golden coloured tufts on the bare branches, containing the beautiful fruit ready to grow in spring, the bright colours of which present an enchanting picture.
"Macao has existed for three and a half centuries and it is a pity to see so much land lying fallow and undeveloped, whereas somebody might embark upon the business of an orchard of this profitable and useful fruit".
The foregoing remark, appended to the invoice, is very true and gives food for thought. This colony possesses neglected and unproductive land which for many reasons of public interest should be made use of.
"The tree of this fruit is a most useful one. It can grow to a height of from 30 to 35 feet, and produces about 200 fruits a year; it begins to bear fruit when only 7 or 8 months old.
"The leaves are very bitter and can be used as soap, they remove stains and can be used as an anti-vermicide and for various household remedies. The roots are used for curing worms in dogs. The fibres, after being dried, can be made into rope and woven into a king of cloth, like that of the Manilam called sinamai, a kind of nuno or linen of a cheap Chinese kind, yellow in colour.
"The fruit is green in colour when unripe, and is good for flavouring food; it contains lactative properties very useful for nursing mothers. It is also used for sour pickles and for preserves.
"When ripe, the fruit is of a dark yellow and is then sweet and makes delicious eating. It is long in shape and is generally six inches in diameter. The proper season for it is May to July, but some trees yield fruit as late as winter, when the leaves dry up and fall off, the tree standing quite bare in December.
"The flowers differ according to the sex of the tree, and are used for flavouring shell-fish in dishes".
The above description of the uses to which the Papaya can be put is but one example of many ways in which fruit and vegetables, first introduced by the Portuguese into the East, can be profitably used for cooking, thus creating for them a marketable value not ordinarily thought of. Adepts with an eye to business might be found to test the hint here given.
The older generation of Macao women, and quite a few of the younger, have shown remarkable aptitude in many household accomplishments: they specialise in the making of pickles, sweets, and the other branches of the culinary art. Many of the dishes they prepare contain ingredients from countries where the Portuguese had their previous establishments, and in many cases the flavours of India, Malacca, the East Indies and China may be detected in combination with that of far-off Portugal. This is particularly noticeable in some of the dishes prepared according to time-honoured recipes, some of which are jealously treasured in the family with as much pride as if they belonged to copyrighted recipes of great commercial value.
No one who has partaken of an old-time Macanese festive board can soon forget the attractive delicacies of such a meal. Sauces are a specialty. (Chile sauce, oyster sauce, shrimp and other sauces have been commercialised by enterprising Chinese servants, once in the service of some Macao household but the commercial products have suffered by the desire for larger profits. Hence the production of a cheaper article at the expense of the excellence of the real articles from the original Macanese recipes.) The original genuine sauces defy competition. Sweets, jellies, jams, syrups, puddings are delicious and have a merit all their own, and of cakes, pastries, large and small, of both the sweet and salty variety, there is a large assortment from which to pick and choose. A jelly made from the Chinese pear (perada) is widely and popularly known in almost every Portuguese home in the Far East. The same can be said of pumpkin jam (doce de camalenga), crystallised fruits and fruit-peels, like figs, plums, pumelo-peel, orange peel, and an almost endless variety of other things to add to the list. Pickles are made from a large variety of vegetables, fruits, etc. in various combinations with spices of different kinds any one of which would be gladly accepted by manufacturers in other countries, as great delicacies. They have only to be packed in attractive containers suitably labelled to command a ready sale.
There are seasonal sweetmeats and pastries which are closely associated with all the Church festivities through the year, from Christmas to All Souls' Day. The traditional production of these delicacies is carried out with almost religious regularity in Macao. The tradition connected with these seasonal attractions is still preserved by the women-folk from Macao to Hongkong, Shanghai and other centres of the Portuguese in the Far East. It is well that ancient custom of associating delicacies with Church festivals has not been lost in the rush to adopt modern customs. May it long be preserved!
Let but one old-time sweet be mentioned to trace the earlier Portuguese associations with India and China. Those of us who have resided in India for any time, will recall how, at certain seasons of the year, a much-prized sweet from Persia finds its way into the bazaars of Calcutta. The sweet in question is called in Hindustani Allua. It is a sort of gelatinous pudding made of rice with ghee flavoured with pistasch and it is packed in a sealed circular container and among those who can pay the price it never fails to command a ready sale. The Macao equivalent of the Persian Allua is known by a very similar name, it is called Halua in the Macaense dialect. The ingredients do not differ vary materially. The difference consists in this; that the Macao article is made of fine butter instead of ghee and the flavouring nut is almond, with grated coconut, instead of pistasch. The Halua is in great vogue in Portuguese homes at Christmas time and is very popular. Wedding and Christmas cakes and decorations and christening and birthday favours form a branch of household art at which Macao women appear to excel; they delight in accepting orders for these and take great pleasure in producing "favours" of original design, appealing to the eye and acceptable at these social functions, as keepsakes by the guests who have been known to vie with one another in the effort to acquire them.
If only the Macao women would attempt to produce the various delicious preparations in commercial quantities for the export trade there can be no doubt that a profitable industry could be usefully developed. The idea is here put forward in the hope of seeing it taken up some day by an enterprising industrialist, and it is one of those things that should command Government support. Modesty has held back Macao women from venturing into the remunerative field of industry, but there is every reason to believe that given encouragement there is a promising future for Macao women in the preserved-foods industry. This recommendation should make an appeal to the Macao Government, which might help in the marketing of the output and thereby employ Macao labour to advantage and profit.
Macao women are known to be adepts also at needlework, like embroidery and lace-making. At knitting and crocheting they are very proficient, making lovely bed-spreads of wonderful design and in this they can take their place with the best trained in other countries. They have passed on this skill to women and girls, inmates of convents and other charitable institutions. Great industries in various places in China can trace their origin to Macao.
In the commodities exchanged between Europe and China is included a large variety of natural products from the East and of manufactured articles from the West. In earlier chapters, we have touched upon the wealth of spices and such like produce with which the early Portuguese voyagers filled the holds of their galleons and which they deposited at various stopping places on the homeward journey. How eagerly they were traded for the manufactures of the Occident. Woollen goods and other heavy cloths for garments, for the cold latitudes of Northern China found their way to the East, while cotton textiles and lighter materials, such as the celebrated gangas and nuno cloths and brightly coloured cotton material, in a variety of multi-coloured patterns, found their way into Macao and thence to Canton for use in South China. Through the latter channel, Canton, the chitas (as the variegated cotton prints for short jackets and skirts were called) were exported to Malacca and the East Indies. Mirrors and glassware, clocks at first (and watches, later), perfumes of every king, small tools and mechanical appliances, and such like, were very popular with the Chinese.
The Portuguese created markets which at a later period passed into other hands and for which, towards the end of the XIXth century, the Germans catered. In the second and third decades of the XXth century the Japanese stepped in as successful competitors. Their less expensive productions made possible through skilful industrial organisation and effective advertising were responsible for this.
A system of weights and measures, currency facilities and procedure, stores for ships' supplies, and above all a lingua franca, which all others after them utilized for many years, were among the contributions made by the Portuguese to the trade of the East. We may pass over their educative work in other directions, e. g., in architecture, their plans and designs for houses, with broad roofed-in verandahs, eminently suited to tropical climates, with comfortable, spacious and lofty rooms, glass panes, shuttered windows; furniture, like tables and chairs; cutlery, lamps; new articles of vegetable foods, like bread, cocoa, coffee, etc.; new methods of agriculture resulting in new industries; new social customs and several domestic influences.
Of the Portuguese it can truly be said that "they looked to the sea and there they found their destiny!" Yet what a pathetic community, which once had so many ships! On account of the total absence of regular sea communication between Portugal and her colonies, both the Mother Country and her colonies have languished in an age when competitors have forged ahead by leaps and bounds to reap the advantage which the courage, foresight and determination of Portugal's sons made possible to others with the ability not to lead her but to follow.
Under the guidance of the world-famous Salazar, however, Portugal may now be resurrected from her somnolence in trade and mercantile navigation, and be given courage and determination to revive her commercial intercourse with, on the one hand, her African dominions and, on the other, her Eastern Colonies. The vast territories of Angola and Portuguese East Africa have been lying fallow for years and may, if further neglected, in time, be lost on the commercial map of the world.[a] But let another Lusitanian arise, of the broad and confident outlook and spirit of a Henry the Navigator – never fearing, never faltering – and he will revivify the Portuguese once more into shipping activity. And we shall see what the progenitors of Portugal of the XVth and XVIth centuries may not do again the bustling XXth century! The world is on the very verge of a great transformation following this cataclysmic war, and every Portuguese looks up to a successor of Prince Henry to restore his country to "a place in the sun" before it is too late and the unique chance be lost once and for all!
It may be a pious hope, but, nevertheless, it is one, that Portugal and China may march along hand in hand as the two Nations which in 1554 first reached the spiritual understanding which Providence has shaped into the material growth of China. The prodigious wealth of this country, its illimitable resources and widespread influence have made the whole world pause and begin seriously to think that none can predict what is going to be China's ultimate destiny! Let it be hoped that Macao will be permitted a generous share in the great future of the East!
All forms of sweet potato are not native of India but have been introduced from Africa or Brazil probably by the Portuguese. Watt remarks that the Batatas mentioned by Linschoten were a form of Dioscorea (Yams). Return
Dutch and English envious of Portuguese trade –
The British at Macao – The Macaense race.
No account of international relations in the East can overlook the fact that the death of King Sebastian of Portugal in 1580 leaving no issue, and the usurpation of the Portuguese Throne by the King of Spain, involved the Portuguese colonies in the quarrels between Spain on the one hand and England and the Netherlands on the other. King Philip of Spain, the Champion of Catholicism, in 1594 closed the port of Lisbon, the principal market in Europe of the produce of the East, to the ships and traders of the peoples who had rebelled against the Church of Rome. Only too glad of an excuse to invade the Portuguese domains known to be the sources of great wealth, Dutch trading vessels and warships, followed some years later by English ships, came seeking the spices and other wares of Asia. It was not long before they began attacking the Portuguese colonies everywhere, and they eventually appeared off the China coast and even in the waters of Japan.
The English, it should be noted, confined their fighting to Indian waters. The Dutch, who sought to attack the Portuguese everywhere, ventured to harass Portuguese shipping. They attacked the most flourishing of the Portuguese trade depots, which fell into their hands. The warships which should have been sent from Lisbon to protect the Portuguese empire were diverted to the Great Armada, in King Philip's abortive attack on England, or to convoy the treasure ships from the Spanish Main to Seville, while the Portuguese colonies lay at the mercy of freebooters. The Dutch penetrated to the China Seas, and appeared off Macao, pouncing upon peaceful ships engaged in the trade between Macao and Japan.
At length, the Dutch came against Macao with a powerful fleet, under Admiral Ryerszoon, the naval force consisting of eighteen ships of the line, with over a thousand men at arms.
The attack began on the 23rd June, 1622, when some of the ships engaged the Macao forts, to be followed by a landing on the following morning of nearly a thousand well equipped infantrymen at Cacilhas Bay. They advanced upon the city but were bravely opposed by the residents of Macao, who, though quite unprepared, put up a stout resistance, the tiny Portuguese garrison being assisted by the burghers and their retainers, while even the women took a hand in defending Macao against the invaders.
Many Dutchmen fell in the engagement, the Dutch commander being also killed by a well directed shot. The battle swayed backwards and forwards through the long summer day, and when late in the afternoon a shot from a culverin on Monte Fort hit and blew up their ammunition waggon, the Dutch were seized with panic and fled in disorder, seeking the shelter of their ships. In attempting to gain their pinnaces many more Hollanders were slain, a number being taken prisoner, and others were drowned in the overcrowded boats.
Drawing off, the Dutch set up Casteel Zeelandia on Formosa Island, from which they would sally forth and capture Portuguese ships plying between Macao and Japan. They made no further attempt to take Macao, so costly had been their adventure.
Among the leaders who distinguished themselves in the fighting at Macao were Lopo Sarmento de Carvalho, Captain-General of the city, Tomaz Vieira, Father Rho (the artilleryman-priest), and others. A marble pillar marking the place where the Dutch were routed has been erected in the park now known as the Vasco da Gama Gardens, but, following the repulse of the Dutch, called for almost three centuries the Campo dos Arrependidos.23
Had the Portuguese failed to hold Macao, the course of history would most probably have been changed, for in Portuguese hands Macao has served many peoples in the relations between the East and the West. It is not likely that any other people would have been so gracious as the Portuguese.
Macao still celebrates every year the victory won by the arms of her gallant and loyal residents. Poorly equipped though they were, the Portuguese beat off an enemy well organized, better armed, and greatly superior in numbers.
Since this book seeks to set out the relations between the British and the Portuguese in China, readers should be interested in the account, which follows of the arrival of the first English women at Macao, after the Unicorn of the East India Company was wrecked off the China coast in 1620. The facts are culled from the Account by Peter Mundy of Captain Weddell's trading expedition to China, already referred to earlier in this book. Mundy states: 24
"Here (that is, in Malacca) is allsoe an Englishwoman Married to a Portugall Mestizo of some quality, are well to live, and have betweene them one pretty boy. Shee came from England some 18 or 19 yeares since when Captain Carter was Master of the Unicorne bound For Japan. Then was shee Maid-servauntt to one Furbisher, a Carpenter, who with his Family was passing thither to remayne in the Country as Cheiffe Carpenter to trymme and repaire the East India Companys shippes, having then trade in those parts. The said shippe Unicorne in her voyage thither was cast away on the Coast of China, and with what they saved From her boughtt China vessells, and proceeding on their voyage were taken by the Portugall Nere unto Macao, Wee then beeing att Difference with them in these parts; her and shee remayned among the Portugalls, where shee was brought upp by the Misericordia, an order that takes care of Orphanes and their bringuing uppe. At length this Man desired her to wiffe and For her Dowry had an office given in the Custom house. She was called Judith and now Julia de la garcia."
Sir Richard Temple states that Peter Mundy's details supplement the account of the Frobishers contained in the India Office Records. Frobisher, mentioned in the extract, served the East India Company as master carpenter, and in 1620 he sailed from England together with his wife and family and a maid-servant, Judith, in the Unicorn. The ship was wrecked off the China coast, but "the Companie saved themselves" and landed at Macao "with a chest of money" with which they bought "two barks". Frobisher and his wife sailed for Malacca, leaving Judith behind in Macao. Frobisher died in Malacca but his wife was ransomed, though her children did not survive, and when she returned to England she petitioned the Court as "Johan Cranfield, late wife of Richard Frobisher, deceased... that her maid turned Catholic". The reference by Mundy to the service rendered by the Santa Casa da Misericordia,25 founded at Macao in 1569 and still carrying on its charitable work, is very interesting; but Mrs. Frobisher's case cannot be traced in Macao; the old records of the Santa Casa have been destroyed by white ants and only documents of more recent years are available for consultation.
The attractions of the China trade grew as the years went by, and by the beginning of the XVIIIth century English and French trading vessels were frequent visitors to Macao en route to Canton or to Amoy or Ningpo, where they were trying to persuade the Chinese to let them establish permanent trading settlements for foreign traders. The mandarins would, however, permit trading at no place except Canton, and ships had to wait off Macao, at the Taipa Anchorage, for permission to go up the river to Whampoa, the port of Canton. Eventually, the authorities at the provincial capital granted permission for the foreigners to establish only a small number of temporary factories on the foreshore at Canton, but required the traders to leave at the end of each trading season, that is, in February or March, saying they would be permitted to return in September or October, when the next trading season would begin.
All dealings with the Chinese had to be conducted solely through the members of the Co-hong, the membership of which was limited to a restricted number of wealthy Chinese merchants, closely in touch with the mandarins. The Co-hong was a system of dealing between Europeans and Chinese on a monopolistic basis, and was therefore a sort of link between the two parties – the official mandarinate and the foreign traders. From the Chinese merchants, the mandarins exacted commissions on the transactions with foreign traders. The Co-hong-ites paid over the required tribute in return for the monopoly they enjoyed of the foreign trade, which resulted in profits amounting to considerable sums of money in the aggregate. The leading Chinese Co-hong member is reputed to have accumulated the largest fortune in the world at that time. He was said to have been worth twenty-six million taels at the time of his death. In perpetuation of his memory, or as a reminder of the palmy days of the Canton trade, in quite a few "board-rooms" in Hongkong can be seen in frames on the walls a portrait of the last-century Croesus in China, painted by George Chinnery, the Irish artist who lived in Macao for twenty-seven years. This painting has been reproduced in a number of magazines and books.
The foreign merchants were not at all satisfied with the arrangement whereby they should leave China at the end of each trading season and return at the beginning of the next, and they cast about for some suitable place wherein to reside between seasons. The officials of the East India Company and other foreign traders had occasionally lived in Macao for short periods; for longer residence special permission had to be obtained from the Lisbon Government. After various negotiations the Macao officials decided to permit Portuguese residents to lend their names for the leasing of property to be occupied by the foreigners at Macao during the long summer months. Thus it was that in July, 1772, for the first time, it was possible for the officials of the English East India Company to report to London that they had 26
"Agreed with Antonio Joze da Costa for a lease of his large House on the Pria (Praia) Grande and the upper house for the term of three years ... at the rate of Four Hundred and Fifty Spanish Dollars per Annum for the two Houses to be in our Option prolong the lease for two years more."
It was not long before the other East India Companies were following the example of the English Company, and so it was that the French, Dutch, Danish and Swedish Companies came to occupy fine residences at Macao. They were followed by independent traders of other nationalities. For a time, the English East India Company succeeded in resisting attempts by "interlopers", as they called them, to enter the China trade, but some of their own employees after retiring from the Company's service began to go in for private trading by securing the consular representation of states such as Sardinia, Hanover, Sicily, Prussia, Spain, etc. As consular agents in China the new merchants were able to engage in trade, greatly to the irritation of the Company. The growth of the tea and silk trade became an important factor in China's foreign trade, and there was keen competition for it.
Some of the smaller merchants found it more profitable to do their business entirely at Macao, and it was not long before the foreign community of Macao became a large one. In time the city assumed a truly cosmopolitan character, for persons of many lands mingled with the Portuguese at Macao.
The foreign merchants were not slow to appreciate the conveniences and comforts they enjoyed by living in Macao. The attractions of Macao as a place of residence have been extolled by several writers, but I cannot do better than quote from Basil Lubbock's excellent book, The Opium Clippers :
"The Portuguese colony on the island of Macao has the distinction of being the oldest European settlement in the East. Just before Lintin became popular as an anchorage it was at the height of its prosperity, being an old-world walled city with grim forts frowning from its heights, and solidly built churches and houses bounding its plazas and streets, including a convent and a senate house. Here came the jaded Europeans from Canton, as soon as the tea season was over and the ships despatched to their destinations.
"Crowned by the Monte Fort and circling round its bay, Macao has been called the Naples of the Orient. The broad esplanade of the Praya Grande with its well-built row of houses, facing out across the outer harbour, has a fine view over the water towards the Nine Islands, in the North, and Lintin and Lantao to the North-eastward.
"The Inner Harbour, too shallow to accommodate large ships, was bounded by the island of Lappa, once built over with Portuguese villas and beautifully laid out with gardens, but abandoned to decay through the difficulty of combatting raiding pirates.
"In spite of its beautiful situation and its fine climate – it rejoices in ever-refreshing breezes – Macao, the "land of sweet sadness", has gradually lost its position as a world port...
"The Praya Grande is now occupied by wealthy retired Chinese merchants; beneath the banyan trees that fringe the low sea wall one no more sees the 'foreign devils' dozing in the shade, but a band plays in the Plaza, below the railed-in grotto and garden of Camoens, where black-eyed Portuguese signoritas flirt their fans at young garrison officers. Macao, even in its most busy and prosperous days, was a sleepy, easy-going port, which only woke up for a while on the arrival of the Factory of the John Company at the end of the N. E. monsoon. Then indeed the influx of young English and Americans caused a flutter amongst the dove-cots; picnics were promoted; sailing matches took place; and daring cavaliers stormed the barred windows of the old Praya Grande mansions."27
And writing of Macao in that charming little work, Bits of Old China, Mr. William C. Hunter, who lived in Macao in the good old days, closes a description of the little Portuguese colony with these words:
"altogether such views as few cities can offer, and full of interest geographically, historically and politically. If thereto be added the salubrity of its climate, the pureness of its skies, and its balmy atmosphere, it is not a matter of surprise that many 'old Cantoners' chose it for their permanent abode".
Alluding to the practice of securing the help of local Portuguese for permission to reside in Macao, Mr. Hunter mentions his own experience as follows:28
"Macao has been from 1722 the summer resort of the residents of Canton. The custom existed of having to be secured', as at Canton, and to declare the length of sojourn for which a permit was granted, but there was no difficulty in renewing it. My own 'security' was Senhor Bartolomeo Barretto, whose family had identified itself with the place for many generations".
The Barrettos mentioned by Hunter were an old Portuguese family of merchants of good repute in India, whence they travelled farther East to settle at Malacca, Singapore, Macao and Hongkong, and latterly at Manila. In Calcutta and Hongkong the surname Barretto is found among the best known families in social circles. As late as the last quarter of the last century, great-grandsons of the earlier Barrettos were in prosperous business at Hongkong. Four brothers of the same family were in partnership as import and export merchants. They held a leading position in the rice export trade from Hongkong to San Francisco and to South American ports.
Hunter was employed in the firm of Messrs. Russell & Co., the leading American firm in China for over half a century and predecessors of Shewan, Tomes & Co. He was a sociable gentleman and during his residence in Macao he made many friends among the Portuguese.
"At Macao", Mr. Hunter states in his Bits of Old China, "visitors can freely enjoy the exquisite climate, its magnificent view over sea and islands of every form and in endless number. The Macaistas generally speak English and are a kind and hospitable people. They enjoy the privilege of living in a city untouched by change as regards its public building and defences, which remain to-day as they were originally built nearly three hundred years ago, and which bear silent witness to the courage and enterprise of their forefathers, the first to lead the way via the Cape of Storms to the Far East, and who have here left many of the works of their own hands".
Another interesting reference to Macao was made by Sir George Staunton, Secretary to Lord Macartney's Embassy to China in 1792-4:29
"In this small spot the Portugueze, to whom it (Macao) was granted at the period of their power and enterprize, carried on for long a considerable trade, not only with the Chinese empire, where they, almost alone of all Europeans, then resorted; but likewise with other countries in Eastern Asia ... In this traffic they soon enriched themselves, the marks of which remain in many large and costly public and private buildings in Macao, several now in a neglected state. It was so much a colony of commerce, that its government often lent money to individuals to carry it on, at a certain rate of interest, which the profits of their voyages enabled them to pay ... Events took place which deprived them of all intercourse with Japan, one great source of their advantages. Revolutions in other countries where they traded, rendered speculations there precarious, and often unfortunate to the undertakers. The settlement gradually fell from its former prosperity.
"The Portugueze settlers lend their names, for a trifling consideration, to foreigners belonging to the Canton factories, who reside part of the year at Macao. These, with more capital, credit, connections, and enterprize, are more successful; but require to be nominally associated with Portugueze, in order to be allowed to trade from the port of Macao".
Relations between the foreigners and the Portuguese at Macao were maintained on a very friendly footing, even though, in the sphere of commerce, the newcomers were in some cases in active competition with the Portuguese merchants themselves. The foreigners were able to avail themselves of the services of Portuguese assistants in various capacities. As interpreters and translators, clerks and copyists, many Macaenses rendered excellent service to their employers. Some of them were gifted linguists, interpreting with ease English conversation into Chinese and vice versa, or from English to Portuguese; in the tri-lingual rendering of the two European languages into Chinese, their work has been recognised as specially meritorious. Considering the importance of accurate translation at the time, the purpose for which it was required, and the necessity of secrecy in mercantile transactions, the foreign traders were indeed fortunate in being able to secure the services so rendered of capable and trustworthy Macaense assistants, often upon a nominal monetary consideration only.
It became in time practice of smaller Chinese merchants not enjoying the privileges of membership of the Co-hong to conduct their business with foreigners in Macao, in direct opposition to the law in Canton prohibiting dealings between Chinese and foreigners except through the medium of the Co-hong. The law was honoured more in the breach than in the observance; and this became more and more apparent as the clandestine opium trade, which was proscribed in Canton, assumed greater proportions in Macao.
In explanation of the Chinese attitude towards foreign merchants, Staunton in his Authentic Account remarks that:30
"the vast superiority of rank, over all merchants, assumed by persons in authority in China, became an obstacle to all social or familiar intercourse between them, and the only Englishmen who went there. And, notwithstanding a British factory had been established upwards of an hundred years, not the least approach was made towards that assimilation of manners, dress, sentiments, or habits, which, in similar institutions elsewhere, tends so much to facilitate the views of commerce, as well as to promote the comforts of those immediately engaged in it ... One port only was left open for foreign ships; and, when the trading season came for their departure, every European was compelled to embark with them or leave, at least, the Chinese territories: thus abandoning his factory and unfinished concerns, until the return of the ships in the following year. There was little scruple in laying those restrictions on foreign trade, the government of China not being impressed with any idea of its importance to a country including so many climates, and supplying within itself, all the necessaries, if not all the luxuries, of life".
It was Emperor Ch'ien Lung, to whom Lord Macartney's Embassy was despatched, who was responsible for the statement:"The Celestial Empire possesses all things in prolific abundance and lacks no product within its borders. There is therefore no need to import the manufactures of outside barbarians in exchange for our own products".
As tea and silk became more popular and large importations were made into England from China, it became increasingly difficult to balance the trade between the two countries, since China at that time did not see itself under the necessity of importing merchandise from England to offset the value of tea and silk exported from China. The British had therefore to look about for items of export that could make up for the drain of bullion from England. Raw cotton furnished the first commodity to make up the deficiency in part, cotton in bulk being shipped from Calcutta to China; and this found immediate favour with Chinese importers and consumers. The East India Company found it difficult to control the trade by themselves, because of native "interlopers" who shipped cotton from Calcutta on their own account. This was a time when Portuguese merchants of substance were prosperous in Bengal; they in their turn saw the benefit to themselves of shipping the procured fibre to China, through Macao. Defeated in their attempt to establish a monopoly in cotton, the English East India Company then resorted to the doubtful expedient of sending large consignments of opium to China, the trade in which was developing by the independent action of the outside traders.31
Opium was used in China at first for its medicinal properties only, but a new use was found for it later. Lionel Curtis is an important authority to quote in this connection:32
"The conquest of the Philippine Islands by Spain presently led to a large immigration of Chinese, who there acquired the habit of smoking tobacco, which the Spaniards brought from America. Their surgeons had learnt to treat malaria by mixing opium and arsenic with the tobacco smoked by their patients. The Chinese copied this treatment and presently found that opium could be smoked by itself. It was thus, through tobacco that a useful drug began to demoralise this enormous section of the human race."
In the same manner, the Dutch had a share in spreading the opium habit among the Chinese. As a matter of fact the first recorded mention of an opium-smoking divan is contained in Kampfer's History of Japan, where he explains that visiting Java in 1689, he smoked there opium diluted with water and mixed with tobacco. Authorities agree that, as the Dutch controlled Formosa and its trade from 1624 to 1662, it is more than probable that the practice of opium smoking among the Amoy Chinese, who visited Formosa for purposes of trade, began at this time by the use of opium mixed with tobacco.
The habit took long to spread, however, and it was not till the middle of the XVIIIth century that the popular demand for the deleterious drug began to grow; and since the East India Company did not countenance the trade at first, it was carried on by the "outside" traders. In course of time the enormous profits of the opium trade became an obsession, and the so-called "interlopers" were making such profits as led the Company, in 1781, to embark upon the trade in China too, against Chinese official condemnation of the traffic. Sad to relate, Portuguese merchants at Macao were not above trafficking in the "black mud" of such evil repute.
The Macao authorities looked askance at the opium trade, however, and, upon representations by the Canton Government, the Portuguese subjects gave up that traffic. The non-Portuguese foreigners, loth to part with the large profits earned from opium, changed the location of the opium depot from Macao to Lintin Anchorage, on the Pearl River.
The supercargoes of the English East India Company became more important as the China trade increased in value, and eventually each of the five supercargoes had a grand residence of his own in Macao, while two large buildings on the Praia Grande were occupied by the rest of the staff. The chief supercargo became quite a lordly personage, his salary and emoluments amounting to about $25,000 – fully a quarter of the total allowance made by the Company for expenses in China. The Company leased, from Mr. Manuel Pereira, for the residence of the Chief, the property known to-day as Camoens' Gardens, the finest estate in the colony.
Let us borrow the picturesque description of "Camoens' Grotto" by Sir George Staunton, as the place appeared to him at the time of his visit to China, in 1792:33
"The cave", wrote the Ambassador's Secretary, "is a little below the loftiest eminence in the town, and called Camoens' Cave, from a tradition current in the Settlement, that the Portuguese poet of that name, who had certainly resided a considerable time at Macao, wrote his celebrated poem of the Lusiad in that spot. This interesting cave is now in the middle of a garden belonging to a house where the Embassador and two of his suite resided at Macao, upon an invitation from one of the gentlemen of the factory, who dwelt in it when not called upon to be at Canton. This house and garden command a very extensive prospect. In laying out the latter, none of its advantages have been neglected. It preserves every variety of surface, and contains a number of beautiful shrubs and fruit trees, growing in such apparent irregularity as to look like the spontaneous production of the place."
It was amidst surroundings of such sylvan beauty, that Jean François Galaup, Comte de Laperouse, in command of the French geographical expedition aboard the Boussole and the Astrolabe, in 1787 was able to carry out observations for scientific information regarding terrestrial magnetism. All the courtesy due to the high rank of the French visitors was extended to them by the Macao Governor, Bernardo Aleixo de Lemos, who ordered the Macao pilots to take the ships to the naval anchorage at Taipa Island. "Governor Lemos received these officers as if they were his own countrymen, complied with all their wishes in the kindest manner, and even offered to place his own dwelling at their disposal". On an eminence in Camoens' Gardens, at a point overlooking the Inner Harbour, the Observatory was built. Up to recent years, the pavilion was still intact. It is a sad commentary that not a vestige of this historical construction can be found in the gardens at the present time.
A brief reference to the history of the ownership of Camoens' Gardens may be worth recording in these pages. Privy Councillor Manuel Pereira, from whom the palatial house and garden were leased by the East India Company, was the father of Mrs. Maria Ana Josefa Pereira Marques, wife of Commendador Lourenço Marques. Mrs. Marques (née Pereira) inherited the large estate in her own right on the death of her father. She and her highly respected husband, the veteran Commendador, took great pride in maintaining the exquisite grounds in their primeval beauty, with a wealth of large fruit trees, firs, and ornamental palms.
Commendador and Mrs. Lourenço Marques were survived by three sons: Dr. Lourenço Marques (a graduate in medicine of Dublin University), Mr. Francisco Xavier Marques[b], and Mr. António Marques, none of whom was married and all three of whom are since deceased. A descendant of Manuel Pereira appeared in Hongkong on military service over fifty years ago, when he took part in the organising of the First Hongkong Regiment, a British force of Chinese recruited for the most part from the hefty natives of Shantung Province. He was a junior officer at the time; later he became Brigadier-General Wm. Pereira in the British Army. He lost his life as a member of an expedition which attempted to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in the Himalayas.
Visitors of various nationalities have contributed verses of charming beauty dedicated to Portugal's epic poet; and the verses have been engraved in marble and granite tablets erected on both sides of a pedestal surmounted by a bust of Camoens. The bronze bust was cast in Lisbon to the order and at the cost of Commendador Lourenço Marques; who, besides, kept an autograph album in his own mansion to preserve memories of distinguished persons who had visited the Grotto. In this album appear the signatures of such prominent men as Ex-President Ulysses Grant of the U.S.A., His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, Sir John Davis and Sir John Bowring, both Governors of Hongkong, to mention only four among many others. Bowring's Sonnet is here reproduced for its singular beauty:
Gem of the Orient Earth and open sea,
MACAO! that in thy lap and on thy breast
Hast gathered beauties all the loveliest,
Which the sun smiles on in his majesty.
The very clouds that top each mountain crest
Seem to repose there, lingering lovingly.
How full of grace the green Cathayan tree
Bends to the breeze – and now thy sands are prest
With gentle waves which ever and anon
Break their awakened furies on thy shore.
Were these the scenes that poet looked upon,
Whose lyre though known to fame knew misery more?
They have their glories, and earth's diadems
Have naught so bright as genius' gilded gems.
Not to be behind his foreign colleagues, a Manchu mandarin dedicated to Camoens a verse inscribed on a pailau, or honorific commemorative arch, erected in front of the Grotto. This arch is unfortunately not now standing.
One of the last tributes to the memory of Camoens came from a British diplomat when on a holiday visit to Hongkong and South China. It was a bronze laurel wreath from Sir Miles Lampson, H. B. M.'s Minister to China, and it was placed with due ceremony at the foot of the granite pedestal.
Shortly before the death of Commendador Lourenço Marques, he sold the Gardens and mansion to the Government of Macao. May this national memorial never be alienated by the Portuguese Government on any consideration!
Prominent among the independent traders in Macao, in the second quarter of the 19th century, were the brothers Magniac, who were succeeded by Dr. Jardine and Mr. Matheson, working in partnership, as consular agents for Prussia and Hanover. The name "White Horse Hong", in Chinese, still commemorates the occupation in those days of the firm's premise at Rua de Hospital, Macao, by the firm. Jardine, Matheson & Co. still flourishes as one of the leading British trading companies in China. Others were Mr. Thomas Dent, founder of the firm of Dent & Co., representing Sardinia; Andrew Ljungstedt, Consul for Sweden, long after all legitimate Swedish trade in China had ceased; Thomas Beale; James Innes; and the American Samuel Russell, founder of the celebrated Russell & Co., an employee of whose (Mr. William C. Hunter) was the author of Bits of Old China, The Fankwae at Canton, and Old Canton, telling us in a number of pen-pictures many stories of the old China traders.
The above-mentioned Mr. Beale owned a fine house on the slopes of Monte Hill with an extensive garden and an aviary. A contemporary journal34 gives an account of this interesting estate:
"Up to 1838, Mr. Thomas Beale's aviary of curious and beautiful birds was one of the principal attractions of Macao. It was a wire house about 40 feet long and 50 feet high, surmounted by a dome, and contained a variety of shrubs and even large trees with basket nets. The greatest attraction was a living Bird of Paradise from the Moluccas, which was in the owner's possession eighteen years; also a magnificent peacock from Damau, besides nearly thirty species of pheasants, among them the Reeves's pheasant from the north, whose tail feathers approached the extraordinary dimension of six feet, forming a magnificent train. Four cocks were brought from Canton in 1830, purchased for $130, also a medallion pheasant with a beautiful membrane of resplendent colours (purple, red and green). There was also a large assortment of macaws and cockatoos, a pair of superb crowned pigeons (Goura coronata), several Nicobar ground pigeons, Mandarin ducks with their brilliant and variegated plumage, except during four summer months when changing feathers; and some one hundred and fifty other birds of different sorts."
"The Botanic Garden which contained this aviary was also a valuable collection of trees and plants and upwards of 2,500 pots, mostly Chinese flowers, probably the richest collection of Chinese flowers ever made by any foreigner – serving in fact as the nursery in which some of the rarest productions of China have been prepared for transmission to the West."
Macao, for its diminutive size, has been a nursery of considerable value from which the great cities of Europe have drawn quite a number of influences; as a matter of fact many curious Oriental plants cultivated in Macao were introduced to Europe by Portuguese travellers returning from China in the early days.
Besides the merchants, there lived in Macao, in those times, other foreigners who have made a name for themselves, notably George Chinnery, the artist, and Robert Morrison, the missionary. Morrison reached Macao in 1807, on board an American ship from New York, having been refused permission by the East India Company to take passage in a British vessel from London. The British community in China rallied to his help, and it was mainly through the efforts of Sir George Staunton that he was given a salary of £1,000 a year as interpreter for the East India Company, to enable him to carry on missionary work, for which purpose the East India Company also sent out from England a complete printing press and two professional printers, at considerable cost, in 1813.
In connection with the printing press, which had been such a feature in Portuguese cultural work in the interest of China in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries, it might be stated that it came into considerable prominence at Macao in the early days of the XIXth century, when it was used to a great extent by the English, in Macao. The visitors printed a large number of important books, tracts, papers, etc., in Chinese and English. In Macao Morrison prepared and published his Chinese-English dictionary, as well as other books.
It speaks well for the tolerance of the Macao authorities that they closed an eye despite the fact that to the publishing work then being illegally carried on by Morrison and others in the colony of Macao, the Portuguese themselves were prohibited by the Lisbon Government from doing any printing in the colonies. This liberal gesture by the Portuguese in favour of Morrison's work has never been acknowledged, so far as I know, by any writer at any time. Since the English and all other foreigners were forbidden by the Chinese to publish books at Canton, during the months when they resided in the foreign settlements for purposes of trade each year, Morrison's work, as well as that of his missionary colleagues who followed him, was greatly facilitated by the impetus which the printing of these books in Macao gave to the spread of the gospel by the London Missionary Society and similar organisations at the time.
The Manchu authorities at Canton opposed, to the point of fanaticism, the introduction of Christianity into China. What they really feared was the introduction of new ideas – ideas which, they felt, might conflict with all the traditional deep-rooted Chinese beliefs and the classical learning associated with the mandarin system which then prevailed in their country. Thus, by not impeding Morrison's work in the printing laws, the Portuguese did indirectly assist Protestant missionary work in China.
That gesture was typical of the people of Macao. All through the long history of this colony, the Portuguese have distinguished themselves by their invariable courtesy and open-hearted hospitality to those who have visited Macao. Foreign visitors have almost always been granted facilities which Portuguese visitors to foreign lands would probably not have enjoyed in other countries, and it is a sad commentary on the conduct of not a few the visitors that they have not shown anything like proper gratitude or even common courtesy for the concessions and hospitality given to them in Macao.
In some instances the Portuguese have even been insulted by men who have been sheltered in Macao. The history of Macao contains many glaring instances of this kind, but the most flagrant of these was the case of Mr. Andrew Ljungstedt's studied affront to his Portuguese hosts, for he went so far as to repay their generous hospitality with the most outrageous libels and incivilities. I feel called upon to take up the cudgels against Ljungstedt on behalf of the Portuguese.
In order that what follows may be correctly appreciated, it will be necessary to reproduce the opinions of Ljungstedt on the origin of the Portuguese race in China from the time of the settlement of Macao in 1557. The author of the book 35 in question, Andrew Ljungstedt, actually had been for a time a resident of Macao in the capacity of a merchant-consul, and had abused the hospitality of the colony in his references to the origin of the Portuguese. He took advantage of that hospitality even beyond strictly social matters; he availed himself of the library of the Macao Senate, and obtained the loan of documents and notes in the possession of scholars like Bishop Saraiva and Mr. Miranda e Lima, who placed their own rare books and manuscripts unreservedly at his disposal when Ljungstedt expressed a wish to write an account of the Portuguese settlements in China. What the object of his approach to the Senate and to the Church dignitary and also to the Macao official must have been it should not be difficult to discern! He must have had in view the obtaining of material for the preparation of his essays, with the purpose of offending the very people whom he so barefacedly approached for favours which he used for an unworthy and undignified purpose.
In the preface to his book Ljungstedt, the author, made the admission that since his "two Historical contributions", concerning the Portuguese settlements in China, and principally that of Macao, might be of some public utility, "I resolved to revise my essays, correct mistakes, enlarge the view and connect occurrences in a natural series of chronology, ... that any inquirer may satisfy his curiosity by referring to the places alluded to, and decide on their relative merits". It is in the revised version of the "Essays" that the offensive passages appear. Chapter IV of the work is devoted to a glaringly imperfect and ill-digested summary of the "population" of Macao so as, in the words of the 'preface', to "gratify general inquisitiveness".
It is necessary to set up Ljungstedt's bogey of alleged facts "concerning the Portuguese settlements in China" in order that it may be most effectively and completely demolished by the citation of authoritative writings by authors of various periods who enjoy a reputation above that of the bigoted Ljungstedt.
The opportunity of rebutting Ljungstedt's charges offers itself on the present occasion when I feel that, for the honour of my ancestors, I must accept what I regard as a challenge, and seek, to the best of my power, to dissipate the falsehoods that have obtained currency far too long.
From Chapter IV the following paragraphs36 are extracted. They contain all the ingredients of the most insulting calumnies. Serious exception is taken to them from the fact that they have been quoted in books that have commanded a certain degree of attention and have remained unchallenged all these years. I now call into question these paragraphs and take up the gauntlet defence of the progenitors of Macaistas (or Macaenses), who are proud to trace their origin to the intrepid followers of great Portuguese of sterling character and distinction like Prince Henry the Navigator and Affonso de Albuquerque.
The following are the extracts referred to in the above paragraph:
"The inhabitants of Macao are divided into three distinct classes, viz., vassals of Portugal, vassals of China, and foreigners; of each we shall in turn give a brief account.
"If what a grave historian asserts- and there is no ground for impeaching his veracity – be true, that the 'prisons of Portugal are now and then emptied, and the vicious tenants, and even culprits, who should have finished their career in the galleys, were sent on board the royal fleets to serve in India; – we have less reason to shudder at the enormities perpetrated by the Portuguese in many parts of Asia. Some of this unholy stock respected neither friends nor foes; they seized every opportunity to enrich their commander and his horde. They were at times pirates or smugglers; at times strolling merchants. Several of this contaminated caste settled, no doubt, at Macao, with men of more correct morals. By this mixture, those who had reluctantly run the race of vice, were by good example recalled to the comforts of social life, which were soon enhanced by nuptial ties. Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and other women became their partners in wedlock, and mothers of a generation the descendants of which are perhaps still members of the community. Their progeny is distinguished by the denomination of 'Mestiços', or mongrels. Next to this class range those whose forefathers were not Portuguese, but either Malays, Chinese or Japanese converts; but they, like the posterity of the Portuguese, are free citizens."
By contrast let the writing of a Portuguese author speak for itself. "The influence of the Portuguese in the East," J.J.A. Campos writes in his History of the Portuguese in Bengal, "has not yet been adequately dealt with, though a lot has been written on the Portuguese navigators, their conquests, and their heroic feats. The permanent Portuguese influence, largely working unknown, is felt in numerous walks of life in India. The Portuguese were the first to establish an intimate contact between the East and the West. The first impressions of the East about the West were largely such as the Portuguese created. These impressions were, therefore, more profound and lasting than is generally recognized". Campos was one of the joint editors of The Century Review, and was a member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
"Mongrels", applied to the Macaenses, is a word possessing neither the merit of truth nor elegance! Campos, on the other hand, is proud to think that among the various relics the Portuguese have left "the most notable are their descendants."
Ljungstedt's choice of words is unjustifiable, to say the least; his language is as unfortunate as it is offensive. The use of the term "Mestiços" – or "mongrels", with its malicious implication – and perverted phrases like "unholy stock" and "contaminated caste", betray a mentality above which Ljungstedt does not appear to be able to rise.
It is refreshing and profitable to consider, in its true light, the other side of the gloomy picture presented by Ljungstedt.
Major C. R. Boxer, who has carried out careful research into the history of Portuguese exploration and colonisation and has published the results of his findings in learned books, has this to say of the first Portuguese who settled in China:37
"From the year 1514, in which the Portuguese first came to China, they trafficked in various parts of this Kingdom ... In the year 1555 the trade was shifted to the island of Lampacao, whence in 1557, it was transferred to this part of Machao, where a populous settlement arose through trade and commerce. In the year 1585, when Dom Francisco Mascarenhas was Viceroy of India, it was made a city by His Majesty, under the title of the Name of God, being granted the Cross of Christ for a coat of arms, and these liberties which it enjoys under the same privileges as the city of Evora... The families in this city number 850 Portuguese with their children" – (who certainly cannot, except by a diseased, prejudiced imagination, be described as mongrels)- "who are much stronger and lustier than any others in the East ... In addition to this number of married Portuguese, there are about as many native families, including Chinese Christians ... Besides these, the city contains many Portuguese sailors, pilots and masters, the majority of them married in the Kingdom (i. e., Portugal) whilst other are bachelors, who sail in the voyages to Japan, Manila, Macassar, Solor and Cochin-China. There are over 150 of these, some of them very wealthy with capital of over 50,000 xerafims".
Dr. Edgar Prestage is another authority to cite. He is an author with a name and a reputation to maintain; he is a Professor in the University of London, he holds the degrees of M.A., F.R.H.S., F.R.G.S., and he is acknowledged as one of the leading authorities in the world on Portuguese Literature and History. His writings certainly command a far wider hearing and entitle him to much greater respect than do those of an obscure, pretentious person like Ljungstedt. I quote the following from one of Dr. Prestage's historical works:38
"When Albuquerque died in 1515, he had laid the foundations of European sovereignty in the East, and his action has special importance in world history, because the Portuguese, after breaking through that fear of unknown seas which kept Europe apart from Asia, set up a model which their successors imitated in varying degrees. They had in the beginning no idea of establishing a political dominion. As happened afterwards to the Dutch and English, it was forced upon them when in the pursuit of legitimate trade. The latter, however, had only commercial objects in view, but the Portuguese monarchs were also crusaders and evangelisers. They sought to continue in the East that war against the infidel which they had waged for centuries in the West, and to spread the Gospel. Under the banner of the Quinas, which displayed the symbol of Redemption, the missionaries they sent out founded native Christian communities which still exist on the Malabar coast and in Ceylon, and in Japan a church which, though destroyed by persecution, gave martyrs not inferior in heroism to those who adorned Rome under the Caesars. But this work of evangelisation, associated with the name of St. Francis Xavier, began only in the reign of John III; the time of King Manoel was one of empire-building and trade, of which Albuquerque was the great instrument. His first task was to drive Mohammedans from enemy states off the Indian Ocean, and next to regulate its commercial traffic for the benefit of his countrymen, an undertaking new to history. His predecessors had required that every native vessel should carry a Portuguese passport. He enforced this, but would give none for the Red Sea. On the land he rested his dominions on four bases; direct rule over the chief trading centres, Ormuz, Malacca and Goa, the last being the pivot of the whole; fortresses at strategic points on the east coast of Africa and in India, as naval bases, and to protect the factories; where fortresses were impracticable, suzerainty over the native rulers, who paid tribute to the King of Portugal; and, lastly, the colonisation of the territory of Goa, by means of marriages between Portuguese and native women."
Wise and far-sighted was Albuquerque, greatest of Portugal's governors of India, in advocating a policy of inter-marriages as one of the bases of successful colonisation. Bigoted and narrow-minded was the man Ljungstedt who sought to cry down this policy by defaming the descendants of persons of mixed races.
It was in the XVIth century that Albuquerque enunciated his policy of inter-marriage of Europeans and Asiatics. Confucius would have been in complete accord with that idea, nor did he not say, "Within the four seas, all men are brothers"? Whole-hearted agreement with such an idea was expressed in a commemorative tablet erected by a distinguished Chinese scholar in the Temple of the Queen of Heaven, at Mongha in Macao at the end of the devastating Taiping Rebellion, over three and a half centuries after Albuquerque (Within the precincts of this same ancient, historic temple was the first treaty of commerce and friendship signed between Caleb Cushing, the American Plenipotentiary, and Commissioner Ki Ying, on behalf of the Emperor of China.) A free translation of the commemorative tablet reads as follows:
"Where beauty lingers in mountains and streams, Nature is king. In the midst of such loveliness in Macao, men's hearts were touched with goodness. That is why, though many places in China were destroyed and many people were killed during the Taiping Rebellion, the people of Macao lived tranquilly and at peace. And refugees came to Macao, to escape the turmoil of China. The Portuguese colony became a little paradise on earth, protected by the holy invocation of the gods, as a reward for the goodness of its people. Let it be hoped that the residents of this place will honour one another, live and inter-marry harmoniously, trade profitably, harvest plentifully, worship faithfully, and then will happiness reign supreme."
To continue the extracts from Dr. Prestage's book: 39
"He (Albuquerque) hoped by this policy (of inter-marriage) to induce his countrymen to settle down and forma loyal population. As it was impossible to send white women to India, his scheme of mixed marriages seemed the only solution, and it was made practicable by the fact that the Portuguese had no objection to mixing their blood. They had already done so at home with Africans brought home by the early navigators. He could not keep his officers in the East, but he was anxious to maintain there a body of artisans, soldiers, and especially gunners, for his power depended, next to personal valour, on artillery. After his final conquest of Goa, he married some hundreds for his men to natives, mostly widows of slain Moslems. He presided at the wedding and is said to have conducted the ceremony himself, and he gave dowries. There were many candidates for these unions, but according to his own statement he chose them carefully, and only 'granted leave to marry to men of good character and services'. It seems, however, that at first they were convicts, which made the fidalgos laugh at him. They said that the Christian community he aimed at could never be established by such means. But they were wrong, as Barros points out, for in his day the first settlers of the island of St. Thomas and later those of Australia belonged to the same class.
"The half-caste population which came into being tended to degenerate, and had not the virility of Europeans... Albuquerque suggested that they should be sent to Portugal at the age of twelve and only return at twenty-five. Yet some of these half-breeds were to distinguish themselves both in military and civil posts, and in view of the scanty population of Portugal and the calls on it from settlements in so many quarters of the globe, her Eastern rule could scarcely have been supported so long as it was in any other way."
"The district of Goa contained a large native population, which could not be displaced and had to be governed. Albuquerque kept the city under his own authority, established a senate modelled on that of Lisbon, the first in the East, but he entrusted the administration of justice and finance to native officials. He respected Eastern customs, except in the case of the cruel practice of sati, which he abolished at once, while the English tolerated it for long after they had established an effective rule. He maintained the ancient village communities, an integral part of Indian life, and after his death a register was complied which served as a guide to future administrators. He made use of Hindu clerks, not only in the revenue department, but also in the factories, and established schools to educate native children and teach them Portuguese. The language of the conquerors became a lingua franca throughout the East and, though much corrupted, it is still used in some parts, while their names are found everywhere. The Dutch, who ruled for about as long, left no such trace behind them."
Contrast Dr. Prestage's guarded caution in approaching the question of the coming of the Portuguese to India with Ljungstedst's unrestrained language. "It seems that at first they were convicts," writes Dr. Prestage. Because some, a few perhaps, of the first arrivals, in India may have been convicts, is it in any sense fair, reasonable, or just to class, as Ljungstedt does, all persons in Macao of mixed Portuguese and Asiatic descent as "mongrels"? "Several of this contaminated caste settled, no doubt," Ljungstedt goes on, "at Macao ... those whose forefathers were not Portuguese, but either Malays, Chinese, or Japanese converts, like the posterity of the Portuguese, are free citizens". By a complete lack of common courtesy, not to say honesty of purpose and moral dignity, Ljungstedt displays his true motive: to insult, brazenly and unjustly, the people who permitted him to live at Macao, when he could not do so in China, and who treated him hospitably, assisted him and even entertained him in this colony for so many years.
Albuquerque's hope that his policy of marriages between the Portuguese and native women would induce his countrymen to settle down and forma loyal population was fully justified. The distinguished Portuguese Governor served as the chief instrument in the carrying out of his monarch's "King Manoel's) scheme of empire-building and trade, based on the Christian principle of founding Christian communities. In the colonization of territory, to a great extent by means of marriages between Portuguese and native women, Albuquerque was singularly successful. These unions were not indiscriminately permitted. There were many candidates for these mixed marriages, but Albuquerque, according to his own statement, "chose them carefully, and only granted leave to marry to men of good character and services". The soundness of this policy was amply demonstrated with the passing of years, in the growth of a large population of persons of mixed parentage in the East, many of whom were endowed with the best qualities of the Western and Eastern races.
An outstanding characteristic of the descendants of the Portuguese settlers in Asia is loyalty to the Fatherland and to Mother Church which India's first Portuguese Governor envisaged as a result of the principle of inter-marriage.
Friendliness and hospitality; readiness to please and to serve; industriousness and fidelity to employers; courage in the face of danger, fortitude in adversity. These are all notable qualities of the people of mixed Portuguese and Asiatic blood. Last but not least: kindness and sympathy with those in distress and practical help in relieving their distress, are manifested wherever these people have settled.
Certain prejudiced writers, ungrateful foreign guests in Macao, lacking that Christian spirit which some of them were at such pains to impress upon their readers, have even gone so far as to dispute the tenure of Macao by the Portuguese. I need not quote from either Ljungstedt or Morrison, two among those guilty of base ingratitude, but the appositeness of a quotation from Sir George Staunton is obvious. Staunton, it should be noted, was a careful observer, an able writer, and an accomplished sinologue. The passage referred to reads:40
"In the senate house, which is built of granite and two stories high, are several columns of the same material, with Chinese characters cut into them, signifying a solemn cession of the place (Macao) from the Emperor of China. This solid monument is, however, an insufficient guard against the encroachments of its Chinese neighbours, who treat the Portuguese very cavalierly; exact duties sometimes in the port of Macao; punish individuals within their walls for crimes committed against Chinese, particularly murder."41
What more indisputable authority can be quoted than the provisions of a solemn treaty? Article II of the Protocol, done at Lisbon, on the 26th March, 1887, and signed by Henriques Barros Gomes, on behalf of the Portuguese Government, and James Duncan Campbell, on behalf of the Government of China, provides that:
"China confirms the perpetual occupation and government of Macao and its dependencies by Portugal, as any other Portuguese Possession."
The Rev. W. H. Medhurst, who lived with Robert Morrison in Macao, referring to the situation in Macao in 1816, states:42
"The houses all belong to the Portuguese; into the dwellings of Europeans, the Chinese authorities never enter, not even to apprehend offenders of their own nation; ... Thus, a foreigner has only to rent the dwelling of a Portuguese citizen, and that house is his castle; where he may print books, in any quantities, without danger of interference from the mandarins; he may even have a Chinese school, and retain a number of writers and teachers about him, so long as these do not put themselves in the way of the native police. A missionary, however, who intends carrying on Chinese printing, in Macao, should be somewhat acquainted with the language and employ principally foreign servants, so that no natives may be implicated in vexatious proceedings, on his account. He may then open his doors to any poor or enquiring Chinese, who may come to him for relief or advice, while he shuts them against all Chinese police officers, who are, in China, the least respectable part of the population."
As for Ljungstedt's ideas of propriety, I do not seek to disguise my contempt for his disparaging remarks concerning the Portuguese in Macao and assertions of historical "facts". Unfortunately they have been repeated by several writers who have accepted unsifted, distorted statements as facts.
The Portuguese were partly to blame for not having troubled to refute Ljungstedt's claims long before now and for allowing his book to remain unchallenged for so many years. That indifference was unfortunate, for Ljungstedt's ungracious statements have been repeated in later publications whose authors, relying on Ljungstedt for their material, have perpetuated the uncomplimentary language to which I take such strong exception. Hunter, whose little book I have quoted so often, also fell into like error in all good faith, in his belief that Ljungstedt was "really" an authority, and he had this to say about the Swedish writer:
"There lived at Macao when I arrived there (the self-styled) Sir (?) Andrew Ljungstedt and Mr. Ullmann, the former the last chief of the old Swedish Company's Factory, the 'Suy Hong'. Both finally retired to Macao and eventually died there, the former in November, 1835, after sixty years, and the latter after sixty-five years from the date of his arrival. During the last years of his life Sir (?) Andrew occupied himself in writing a history of the Portuguese possessions in the East, and a history of Macao, both full of most curious and reliable information."
As to the "reliability" of the information I must join issue with Mr. Hunter, who was in no position to judge of the "reliability" to which he refers. Subsequent investigations confirm me in my first judgment, which I have no hesitation in re-stating for the greater reason that, in the course of my reading of historical records relating to Macao, I have regretfully come across, besides others, the following passage in a book by Mr. R. Montgomery Martin:43
"Their (Portuguese) progeny is called mongrels. Next to this class are those whose forefathers were either Malay, Chinese, or Japanese converts."
I have already stated, at some length and in unequivocal language, my opinion of Ljungstedt. He and men of his ilk have failed to understand that there is no dishonour in being descended from Christian parents of different races, legitimately married according to the sacred rites of the Catholic Church, and in accord with the policy of inter-marriage first enunciated and actively encouraged by Portugal's governor and the greatest of European Viceroys of India.
It bears repeating that the selection of partners for the mixed marriages was not perfunctorily or indiscriminately carried out; care was exercised to see that the husbands were men deserving of their Christian spouses. We the descendants of the Portuguese pioneers in Asia, are happy and proud to think that we are inheritors of the Christian faith and ideals of our forefathers. We seek to be guided by the Christian morality enjoined by the Sacrament of Matrimony, and to provide, as far as in us lies, for the spiritual no less than the material well-being of children who are the offspring of unions contracted and solemnised with all the formalities and requirements of our Holy Mother the Catholic Church.
Recourse to Macao during the Anglo-Chinese War –
Captain Elliot's Memorable Proclamation
Shortly before 1839 a series of incidents in Canton, with and without official connivance, were shaping events of far-reaching consequence. These events finally resolved themselves into the establishment of a British settlement at Hongkong and, as it proved in later years, practically sealed the fate of Macao as a trading port of the influence and importance to which it had attained.
Only a few years before the cession of Hongkong to the British, Macao was dragged into dispute between the Chinese officials at Canton and the British merchants there. As has been seen, British trade with China was originally and for a long time carried on mainly through the English East India Company. When the Company's monopoly lapsed in 1834, certain demands were made on the British merchants in China, restrictions being placed, furthermore, on their movements. However, most of them continued trading in Canton, but they established their residences in Macao, where their families lived, the men-folk joining their wives and children after the trading season at Canton had closed each year.
The monopoly granted to the East India Company ceased to exist in China on the 21st April, 1834, by virtue of an Act of Parliament passed on the 28th August, 1833, whereby no restrictions were placed on British subjects trading with China. In the preamble to that Act44 it was stated furthermore that "whereas it is expedient, for the objects of trade and amicable intercourse with the dominions of the Emperor of China, that provision be made for the establishment of a British authority in the said dominions," a Commission, consisting of three of His Majesty's subjects, was appointed to superintend the trade of British subjects in China.
The Commission thus took the place of the Select Committee of the East India Company, and was, at first, composed of the Right Honourable Lord William John Napier, as Chief Superintendent, Mr. John Francis Davies, Second Superintendent, Sir George Best Robinson, Third Superintendent, and Mr. John Harvey Astell, Secretary to the Superintendents, Mr. John Robert Morrison, Chinese Secretary, Captain Charles Elliot, Master Attendant, Dr. Thomas R. Colledge, Surgeon, Mr. Anderson, Assistant Surgeon, and Mr. A. R. Johnston, Private Secretary to Lord Napier.
Lord Palmerston, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his specific instructions to the Superintendents for the discharge of their duties, enjoined them "to abstain from and avoid all such conduct, language or demeanour, as might needlessly excite jealousy or distrust amongst the inhabitants of China, or the officers of the Chinese Government; or as might unnecessarily irritate the feelings, or revolt the opinions or prejudices of the Chinese people or Government; and that they do study by all practicable methods to maintain a good and friendly understanding, both with the officers, civil and military, and with the inhabitants of China, with whom they may be brought into intercourse or communication". The Instructions concluded: "And we do require you constantly to bear in mind and to impress, as occasion may offer, upon Our subjects resident in, or resorting to, China, the duty of conforming to the laws and usages of the Chinese Empire, etc".
Reaching Macao Lord Napier, by consent of the Governor of Macao, established in the Portuguese colony the Superintendency of British Trade in China. From Macao the Chief Superintendent endeavoured to get into touch with the Viceroy of Canton, with a view to acquainting the latter with the changes that had taken place in the status of British traders in China. The Canton officials created not a few difficulties on the ground that the Chief Superintendent's letter did not bear the Chinese character for the word "petition", as, according to the Chinese custom, hitherto observed, it was proper usage to address a business letter as a petition rather than as a diplomatic communication. Napier would not, and could not, share the Chinese view on this, as it appeared to him, petty question. But it was important enough from the viewpoint of the Chinese, who would insist on making it appear that the English were "a nation of barbarians" who should be made to respect and conform to Chinese requirements in the matter of the submission of official communications. Lord Napier, on the other hand, mindful of his own high office, and the dignity of his Sovereign, insisted on a footing of equality in the form of address.
As the divergent standpoints could not be reconciled, a deadlock was reached: neither party would yield to the other, each being strongly determined to keep his own "face" and to impress on the other party the power and dignity of his own Sovereign. Hence, when Napier went to Canton the personal interview which he sought with the Viceroy did not take place. In July and August, 1834, the Chinese issued Edicts, intended for the Superintendents, through the Hong Merchants, in conformity with the procedure they had followed in the past with the East India Company. Lord Napier took umbrage at this course and was determined to have matters put right, "to ensure the rights and protect the interests of the foreign merchants in China". That was the substance of his despatch to his own Government.
About the third week in August, the Canton Government, in another edict, insisted on the retirement of the British Superintendent to Macao, and added that they would cut off the British trade altogether if the Superintendent refused to carry out the command of the edict. As might be expected, Lord Napier did not yield to the requirements of the Canton authorities, whereupon, on the Viceroy's instructions, a proclamation was issued on the 2nd September, 1834, breaking off all intercourse with British subjects. This proclamation was not, however, put wholly into effect.
The vexations he had endured at Canton had so seriously impaired Lord Napier's poor health that he decided to return to Macao. Two days after his arrival he passed away and was accorded a funeral, with full military honours, in keeping with the dignity of his office. Napier's remains were laid to rest in the English Cemetery at Macao, and, some time after, his body was exhumed and the remains removed to England.
After the death of Lord Napier, Mr. (later Sir) John Francis Davies was appointed Chief Superintendent of Trade, to be succeeded in turn by Sir G. B. Robinson. (Both these men later became Governors of Hongkong.) Meanwhile, changes of importance to Britons in China were taking place in England. With the return of Lord Palmerston to the Foreign Office, Captain Charles Elliot, R. N., became Palmerston's appointee to the position of Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China. Lord Palmerston's policy, which had been one of consideration and regard for the susceptibility of Chinese customs, practices, and usages, now took a different turn, and he instructed that "the Superintendent was to hold no communication with any but officers of the Chinese government, and that on no account should his written communications with the Chinese government assume the name of petitions". As a result of this more positive policy, Captain Elliot succeeded, in April, 1837, in doing away with the old procedure in his communications with the Chinese officials.
The events referred to in the opening paragraph of this chapter had to do with the thorny question of the opium trade in China, and the irreconcilable differences between the Chinese authorities and the foreign merchants on the subject. No good purpose, it is felt, would be served by reviving now, after the lapse of over a hundred years, all the details of that unhappy controversy, which led eventually to what has been called the First Anglo-Chinese War. But we may touch on the salient stages of the controversy for a proper understanding of the important changes in Anglo-Chinese relations that resulted therefrom, culminating in the taking over of Hongkong by the British, and so on to the main purpose of this book: to tell of the Portuguese in Hongkong; their migration from Macao; their establishment in the "Isle of Fragrant Streams" and later in Kowloon as well; and their steady growth into a community of several thousand souls, forming an important part of the resident and commercial population of the British colony of Hongkong.
The Chinese Imperial Court at Peking aggravated matters when it enunciated a policy directed not only against the opium traffic but against foreign trade in general. That policy naturally invited opposition from those whose mercenary interests were seriously threatened.
The British decided to take strong action. They showed their resentment to the Chinese policy by seeking a suitable anchorage of their own for their shipping, where their merchant vessels could be under the protection of their own ships of war. Thus it was that they resorted to the waters which came to be known in time as the Harbour of Hongkong. The merchants came to realise, however, that commerce could not be driven from its old channels, and greatly to the disgust of the British officials the traders would be found with their ships stealing a march on one another in the reaches of the Canton River.
It was in the opium trade that the most serious difficulty arose between the British traders and the Chinese authorities. The volume of this trade had assumed such proportions that the Chinese considered controlling it or abolishing it altogether, more particularly when some of the merchants of Canton made Macao their home and place of trade after they were ordered out of Canton under instructions from the Emperor through High Commissioner Lin. This apparently arbitrary demand, one, as some asserted, "entirely opposed to international law," had its origin in the dispute over the importing of opium into China by the foreigners. Among the Chinese officials, the advocates of total abolition of opium-trafficking won the day, and Lin, the Imperial Chinese High Commissioner at Canton, decided to enforce the opium prohibition law. Threatening application of the extreme penalties of the law, he called upon foreigners of all nations to surrender all the opium in their possession. The British Trade Superintendent himself expressed (to Lord Palmerston in a despatch) his "deep detestation of the disgrace and sin of this forced traffic".
In a despatch to the Governor of Macao on the 22nd March, 1839, Captain Elliot asked for protection for British residents at Macao, because of rumours of an impending attack by Chinese mobs in the city. Three weeks later (on the 13th April), in another despatch, Elliot placed all British subjects, ships and property at Macao under Portuguese protection, offering to co-operate with the Portuguese in the "effectual defence of the colony and the harbour of Taipa, for equipment of vessels of coast-guards, and, if necessary, to reinforce and provision the colony, ... the terms for any assistance mutually rendered to be adjusted by the respective Governments, and all British subjects at Macao to be placed under the Governor's command, if desirable, to defend the rights of the Portuguese crown, and common life and property".
There was an impression that Captain Elliot assumed a rather peremptory attitude in his representations to Governor Silveira Pinto of Macao. In justice to Elliot it should be stated that he was on the horns of a particularly difficult dilemma. The insistence of the Chinese demand on Elliot that all opium in the possession of his nationals must be surrendered, forced on him an action which he felt would be contrary to his instructions. However, he considered that compliance with the demand was the only course open to him, to safeguard British lives and property. On the other hand Elliot was persuaded that it would be contrary to the instructions of his Government to accede to the demand.
In the choice of the two alternatives, implicitly relying on the old friendship existing between England and Portugal, Elliot might have felt he was not exceeding his powers in having recourse to the Governor of Macao. The Governor, A. A. Silveira Pinto, replied that he was in "a very peculiar position that imposed on him the bounden duty of observing a strict neutrality as long as he was not constrained by cogent reasons to adopt a different policy, or until there should be evidence of the peril apprehended, in which case the generous facilities proffered would be freely availed of. " The Governor renewed his assurance that,45 "as far as lay in his power, he would protect the lives and property of British subjects, with the sole exception of such as were concerned in the interdicted opium trade".46
Storm-clouds were fast gathering. By order of the Canton Government a Chinese opium dealer was executed outside the British factory at Canton and another outside the walls of Macao. Then, acting on Elliot's advice, the foreign traders surrendered to the Chinese authorities over 20,000 chests of opium (valued at $6,000,000) at Lintin. In an atmosphere of high tension, charged with all the elements for an explosion of Chinese feeling against the "red-headed devils," the British traders left Canton and flocked into Macao for protection under the Portuguese flag. On the pretext that Macao had been harbouring British women and children, the Chinese issued a set of new regulations prohibiting the importation through Macao of British produce and manufactures.
The seriousness of the situation aroused the Government in England, as wealthy merchants and others there interested in trade with China gave earnest consideration to the critical state of affairs. These men succeeded in getting the ear of influential elements in Parliamentary circles and the consequence was that the whole tenor of Lord Palmerston's Instructions was changed; he directed that a demand be made for reparations on the Chinese for past injuries and some security for the future. Commissioner Lin's attitude did not show the least sign of appeasement; on the contrary, it was openly hostile. New demands were made and new conditions imposed on the British. Compliance with those demands would have been ultra vires as regards Elliot's Instructions, just received. The conflict of two great civilisations was thus left to two men to settle locally.
The issues were many and varied. China was determined to resist all the attempts by foreign traders to intrude upon the age-old seclusion of the self-sufficient Chinese system. The Chinese could not, and would not, tolerate the attempts by self-seeking merchants – of all classes of society the lowest in the scale among the Chinese – and "barbarian" merchants at that, to dictate to the Chinese. The foreign merchants who had come to China, determined to drive a profitable trade, were not easily to be dissuaded from their purpose to make money quickly, cost what it might. It was the duty of Chinese officials to see to the extinction of the opium traffic, it is true, but many of them could not resist the temptation to obtain the perquisites which that valuable trade created! "Die-hards" in England were conducting a "wordy" war in recriminatory pamphlets suggesting the seizure by England of some convenient harbour for British trade ships on the coast of China, to take the place of Canton as the terminal port for British trade. A few voices- those of Gladstone and Macaulay among them- were raised against the iniquity of the suggestion, but a situation containing all the elements for a resort to arms between England and China was brought about. A great deal has been said and much been written regarding the opium traffic in China and the war which followed its phenomenal growth. Each writer has presented his personal opinions according to his bias. From the nature of the traffic and the opposition which it aroused in various circles it might be supposed that the missionaries were opposed to dealings in opium as a regularised traffic. It would therefore be interesting to see what the missionaries in China thought and said of the operations then about to begin in China. The views of one of them, living in China at the time, might be well worth quoting. Writing from Macao to his father his home town in America, and commenting on the British Expedition to China in a letter dated 20th August, 1840, Rev. S. Wells Williams stated:47
" ... The whole expedition is an unjust one in my mind on account of the intimate connection its sending here had with the opium trade, but we shall find very few expeditions that have not had a good deal to find fault with in them. There is a way some have of saying that 'it will all work well, and that good will come out of evil,' which is only a sheer excuse for leaving themselves in indolence. For my part, I am far from being sure that this turn up is going to advance the cause of the Gospel half so much as we think it is. England has taken the opium trade upon herself nationally, and can that be a cause to bless? for the success of her arms here would extend that wicked traffic ten thousand times more than the Church is ready to extend her stakes here. The 50,000 chests now annually brought to China would rise to hundreds of thousands shortly, and only think of the destruction of it ..."
As already pointed out, Elliot himself was strongly opposed to the opium trade. The difficulties of his position, added to his multifarious duties and responsibilities, already sufficiently harassing, were aggravated by circumstances beyond his control. He had publicly indicated his strong disapproval of the opium traffic, and with the British merchants he, therefore, stood in great disfavour. A history of the events in China published not long after their occurrence, seeking the good graces of those who benefited by the opium trade, left an entirely erroneous impression for later writers to quote. Elliot had, in point of facts, an extremely onerous task to perform in complying with instructions from London. One in a position to judge of Elliot's real worth – not influenced by any direct interest in the trade and not a compatriot of Elliot's – considered that "few foreign officials who have come to China have been superior in talent to Capt. Elliot, or better fitted than he to fulfil the important duties devolving upon him. He also had the advantage of having as interpreter and adviser John R. Morrison, Dr. Morrison's son, a man whom it was impossible to know without loving, and who, born in the country and familiar with Chinese from childhood, was in some respects better qualified than his father to act in these capacities. He was a man whom I remember with a respect and love which I feel it hard to describe. He received me when I came to China with that kindness which never failed to leave an impression. Both he and Capt. Elliot recognized very clearly the ideas which the Chinese have on the subject of their unchallengeable supremacy over all other nations – ideas that appear to have grown up in the earliest period of their history and are to be found in all their writings. Indeed, it is hardly to be wondered at if they felt themselves vastly superior to the handful of foreigners who dwelt in the Canton factories, intent only on trade, which as you know is the lowest of the four categories into which the Chinese divide human professions and pursuits".48
Commissioner Lin's position was no less difficult than Capt. Elliot's. He was one of those who consistently condemned the introduction of opium into China and had repeatedly written against it in his despatches to Peking. In the view of the Court at the capital, Lin was considered to have presented the strongest indictment against opium and the most cogent grounds for its abolition, so much so that in the end the Emperor appointed him Commissioner for the Suppression of Opium. The same writer who had such a good word for Captain Elliot had this to say of Commissioner Lin: "I may observe that of all the Chinamen I have ever seen, Lin was decidedly the finest-looking and the most intelligent. He was indeed a very superior man, and if he had only been better informed he might have brought the difficult business entrusted to him to a more creditable issue than he did; but this his ignorance and the conceit that accompanies ignorance prevented. He was naturally much elated at his rank, and the absolute power entrusted to him led him to commit acts of rashness which recoiled upon himself. .... Lin did, however, write a letter to the Queen of England, and a singular document it was. It showed how fully be appreciated the perplexities of the situation he was in, and how helpless he felt to extricate himself from them. He implored the Queen to put a stop to the opium trade". It was not his fault that the letter was never delivered!
While the negotiations were dragging along between Captain Elliot and Commissioner Lin, after the surrender of the opium and its destruction, and when there seemed, at times, to be a likelihood of an amicable arrangement being reached, unfortunate incidents involving sailors kept cropping up from time to time. The worst of these incidents resulted, from a drunken brawl, in the death of a Chinese. An account of this lamentable incident and the consequences arising therefrom was given by Dr. S. Wells Williams, then living at Macao, in a personal letter to his father. The relevant passages of that letter are as follows:
Macao, August 28, 1839.
"... all our English friends have been compelled by the proceedings of the Chinese authorities to leave Macao, and go on board the shipping in the anchorages, and at this time there is hardly a single Englishman in the place. The proximate causes of all this harshness flow from the law of the Chinese, which under all circumstances requires blood for blood ... About a month ago some sailors were ashore near the anchorage,49 and getting drunk, made an attack upon this village nearby, and most inhumanly killed a man passing by. Captain Elliot held a court on board of the shipping, but was, after the most diligent search, unable to convict the murderer, though he sentenced several to imprisonment. The Chinese were, however, not so easily satisfied. After a while a demand is made by them for the murderer, and a threat that in case he is not given up they will proceed to extremities in order to force the surrender. Soon after this another edict was received, saying that in three days the servants should all be removed unless he was given up, their provisions stopped, and no communication allowed them. Upon this, Captain Elliot called a meeting of the British, and told them he never should give up a man who had not been proved guilty, and even if a man was convicted he was not to be executed by the Chinese. He therefore recommended them to deliberate, and some prepared to leave. After three days not a Chinese was allowed to come near their houses, and they were supplied with provisions through the Portuguese for about a week.50 The Commissioner, finding that the English were sustained in this manner, sent an edict to the Governor of Macao telling him that if he did not send the English away the town should be invested with troops. Upon this, those still remaining prepared to depart, and by Monday night, the 26th., not one was left; men, women and children all having to go, or be held as guilty, and in imminent danger of being seized by the Chinese as hostages for the murderer. Hundreds of people have thus been obliged to leave their business, forsake their homes, and go on board confined ships, their dwellings containing thousands of dollars of furniture, books, pictures, etc., all remaining at the mercy of those behind. These are some of the consequences resulting from a glass of grog, a thing that many would not deprive the sailor of, lest his comforts be reduced and his burdens increased. Oh when will people call things by their right names, and trace effects to their proper causes! What else will ensue we cannot tell; but all these things – bad as they are – shall work together for good ..."51
The conflict between Chinese and foreign ideas as to the requirements of their respective laws was strikingly brought out in the passage of Dr. Williams's letter where he set out the harshness of the Chinese view requiring under all circumstances "blood for blood". This conflict emphasises the extreme difficulty of Elliot's position at having to carry out, to the letter, his Instructons in "the duty of conforming to the laws and usages of the Chinese Empire". It is unnecessary to go further than this to find, in these vital divergences, the principal reason, I believe, for the establishment of extraterritoriality (since relinquished) in China, so that foreign lives might be protected in a country in which a life was demanded for a life as in the case of the Chinese killed by sailors in circumstances which, under Western laws, would have been regarded as no worse than those of manslaughter.
Commissioner Lin's unbending attitude in compelling the stoppage of all food supplies and servants reaching English homes at Macao was creating a difficulty threatening almost the very existence of the boycotted English. While the anti-British ban was in force, the Portuguese saw to it, without considering the risks they themselves ran, that their friends, the British, obtained the necessaries of life. So far as I have been able to ascertain, this friendly gesture has never been made clear in any published account of the events of this critical period, when intercourse between the British officials and the Canton Authorities was reaching the breaking point. The only exception was the brief reference by Wells Williams in the letter quoted above.
The discovery of this impartial statement in Dr. Williams's letter, of the assistance given by the Portuguese in provisioning the homes of British residents in Macao, has given me much pleasure, providing an opportunity to lay stress on the aid which Macao so often has been in a position to render but which has not been always as graciously acknowledged. It must be borne in mind that Macao performed this deed of kindness despite having to risk the displeasure of a neighbouring authority definitely at loggerheads with the British and threatening dire consequences on the undefended colony of Macao if assistance to the British were not discontinued. It might be suggested that this point is being unduly laboured. I do not think so. Emphasis is used because the Portuguese have been unjustly accused of the grossly unfriendly act of expelling the British from Macao whereas, in reality, they acted in an entirely different manner, as has just been pointed out. Not only were the threatened homes of the British residents provisioned by the Portuguese, but to the credit of the Portuguese, it may be mentioned, the British ships which were at anchor off Macao were supplied with food by them. When the Chinese discovered that the Portuguese were furnishing supplies to the British they threatened to cut off all food supplies to the Portuguese within Macao itself.
Portuguese aid to the British community in their difficulties was not limited to supplying them with food. When intimidated Chinese domestic servants left the employ of all British residents, many Portuguese friends and acquaintances came forward with every good grace to help them. Eitel, in his Europe in China,52 does not convey the correct impression of the Portuguese readiness to please when he writes "British residents at Macao supplied the places of their Chinese servants with Portuguese". The implication of Eitel's version might easily be that there was a demeaning servility on the part of the Portuguese towards the British. There was no need for this. The sense of personal dignity of the Portuguese would have rendered them incapable of any action which would have had a derogatory reflection on the community as a whole.
In the end it was Captain Elliot who advised the departure of his nationals from Macao, so that should not continue to embarrass the Portuguese any further. They thereupon embarked on the British ships in the harbour. Some of the ships proceeded to the harbour of Hongkong but the majority left for Taipa Anchorage within Macao's territorial waters. The British vessels which anchored at the Taipa Anchorage continued to be provisioned with foodstuffs by the people of Macao. Some of the women and children at Taipa Anchorage preferred the conveniences and comfort of their homes ashore to life on board ship; they, therefore, returned to Macao and took up residence in their former dwellings, upon which those who were living on board ship in Hongkong Harbour – there was no residential accommodation on shore at Hongkong in those days – also returned to their homes in Macao.
Dr. Williams, in his letter quoted above, mentioned that when the English left Macao for their ships they were abandoning their homes with all their furniture and personal belongings therein, at the risk of loss to themselves. No statement can be traced to show that, upon these British homes being reoccupied, any of the valuables of their owners had been taken away during their absence. This well illustrates how law and order were maintained by the police of Macao in the guarding of property that might otherwise have been plundered, just as, in other places and at other times, homes temporarily vacated have been thoroughly looted by lawless elements when police control was difficult to maintain in periods of crisis.
The account I have given of the various events narrated in the preceding pages would seem to some readers to conflict with Eitel's version of the same events, appearing in his "history" of Hongkong.53 Eitel, who could never find anything favourable to the Macao Government or the Portuguese, seemed bent on painting as adverse a picture of the Portuguese as his imagination was capable of conjuring up. As an example of his method in attempting to disparage the Portuguese, I give below his account of the departure of the British community from Macao on the 26th August, 1839. Side by side with Eitel's version of the event is presented that of a Portuguese writer, Mr. C. A. Montalto de Jesus. Intelligent, impartial readers will draw their own conclusions after reading the two accounts. For too long has Eitel held the field unchallenged, at the expense of Macao, which has always sought to maintain friendly relations with all within and without her borders.
"The night was spent in watching for an armed attack expected to be made simultaneously on all British houses by the Chinese soldiery. Nothing happened, however, and at noon on Monday, August 26, 1839, the second British exodus commenced. Men, women and children, with bag and baggage were hurried through the streets of Macao amidst terrible excitement of the whole population, expecting every moment a massacre by the Chinese soldiery. The refugees assembled on the Praya in the presence of Governor Pinto who had the whole of the Portuguese troops (some 400 Indian lascars and 500 Caffre slaves) under arms, and embarked hurriedly on board British ships, lorchas, schooners and boats of all descriptions, which immediately set sail for Hongkong harbour, a mournful procession, to seek refuge on board the ships at Hongkong".
"Lin now demanded the expulsion of the Britishers from Macao; and the mandate being disregarded, he menaced the colony. Amidst an infernal din of gongs and the yelling of a raving populace, Chinese troops in considerable number mustered at night round about the British quarters, close to the grotto of Camões, whence they were driven away by a detachment of the garrison led by Silveira Pinto himself. Elliot then proposed the withdrawal of the British community from Macao and this was resolved upon at a meeting. On the other hand, Silveira Pinto declared that, notwithstanding the ordeal, he would never press the British to leave the colony; and though sensible of the slender forces at his disposal to ward off an overwhelming Chinese onset, he promised, if they remained, to defend them to the last. But they preferred to leave for the Hongkong anchorage; and as they embarked, the garrison with Silveira Pinto in his military uniform stood by to prevent an apprehended Chinese attack."
Besides the exaggerated description by Eitel just quoted, there were other imaginative threads which he saw fit to draw from his fertile brain when writing his book. In one of these, which he attributed to Governo Pinto of Macao, he made "all the British refugees at Macao more or less felt that they had ceased to be welcome guests".56 What evidence does Eitel furnish for this supposed feeling? None, so far as can be ascertained. There is evidence, however, which puts a very different complexion on the matter. I have pleasure in quoting from The Chinese Repository57 the following appreciation of Governor Silveira Pinto from a prominent Briton:
"James Matheson, Esq., one of the most enterprising, able and liberal members of the foreign community, and the founder of the British Press in China, having commenced the Canton Register in 1827, about to leave China after a residence of many years, gave Governor Pinto of Macao $ 5,000 (March 9, 1842) to be put to some permanent purpose of public benevolence, as a testimony of his grateful sense of the protection afforded him and others by the Macao Government."
It goes without saying that the gift from the head of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co. was made as a token of his sincere appreciation of the assistance which the Portuguese had extended to their British friends in their time of great need.
It is interesting to note to what useful purpose the money gifted by Mr. Matheson was put. In 1872, a former Portuguese resident of Macao, Mr. Leoncio A. Ferreira, well acquainted with the history of the place, was engaged in collating data for the production of a brochure on The Jesuit Teachers of Macao and the Education of the Macaenses.58 He records:
" ... Com mui louvavel zelo fizeram os membros déssa camara uma subscripção, tomando por base umas $5,000, legadas pelo illustre negociante Jardine Matheson, no seu regresso a Europa, e conseguiram estabelecer uma pequena escola, composta de um director que ensinava o portuguez e o latim, de um professor de primeiras letras, e de um outro das linguas ingleza e franceza. Esta escola apezar de seu limitado pessoal e varios outros defeitos na sua organisação, tem sido mui util a juventude pobre de Macao, e chegou a ter mais de 300 alumnos."
Rendered into English, the passage reads:
" ... With praiseworthy zeal, the members of this Council (Senate) raised a subscription having for its initial payment a sum of some $5,000 gifted by the distinguished merchant Jardine Matheson59 on his retirement to Europe and succeeded in establishing a small school, consisting of one director who taught Portuguese and Latin, and of a teacher in elementary subjects, and of another for the English and French languages. This school, in spite of its limited personnel, and various other defects in its organisation, has been very useful to the poor youth of Macao, and reached an enrolment of over 300 scholars."
Following the return of the British to Macao there was a period of suspense; intercourse between the British and Chinese officials became more and more strained from month to month. It was the prelude to the storm. In the latter part of the year 1839 there were clashes of arms on a small scale between British warships and Chinese forces. At the end of June, 1840, a strong British expeditionary force arrived in South China waters. The Chinese Government forthwith issued proclamations calling on all Chinese fishermen to send their wives and families to Canton while the authorities were engaged in exterminating the enemy!
Captain Elliot had found that battles and victories in South China, when, for instance, the Bocca Tigris forts were taken, in the previous year, were of little avail. The authorities at Canton never apprised the Court at Peking of the true state of affairs. The instructions Elliot received with the expeditionary force were to the effect that the war should be carried into the North.
On the 4th July, 1840, the storm broke. Under the command of Sir J. J. Gordon Bremer, an advance squadron of the expedition bombarded and took Tinghai in Chekiang Province, after which the British warships pushed further northward.
On the 9th August, 1840, the British Plenipotentiaries arrived off Taku, near Tientsin. High Commissioner Ke-shen was appointed to treat with the British "barbarians" and he brought into play all the subtleties of Oriental diplomacy. His instructions appeared to have been to persuade the British to return South, and after many discussions he succeeded in his object. The negotiations at Taku were transferred to Canton.
Macao was naturally much perturbed at the course of events. The presence of a considerable number of British men, women and children at Macao when hostilities between Great Britain and China were resumed gave cause for alarm to the Portuguese authorities, and as if they did not have sufficient matter for anxiety, incautious persons added to the worries of the officials by creating incidents at this time of crisis. One of these incidents took place in Macao and concerned the Rev. Vincent Stanton, an English missionary. He was, as a matter of fact, nor supposed to reside at Macao, and he might have avoided much unnecessary trouble if he had acted with sense and discretion.
It should be borne in mind that, after the outbreak of hostilities between the British and the Chinese, a list of rewards was issued by the Canton authorities for the capture, dead or alive, of Britons. The account of Stanton's apprehension by the Chinese, reproduced below, is taken from yet another letter from Dr. Wells Williams to his father. The value of Williams's letters lies in the fact that they were written by an impartial and reliable observer who was actually living in Macao during this period; they were obviously not intended for publication, and for this reason there is nothing in them that can be said to have been written with the object of pleasing or otherwise influencing interested parties. Wells Williams's letter60 on the Stanton incident reads as follows:
"About three weeks since, Mr. Stanton, one of our number, was seized by the Chinese while going alone very early to bathe beyond the walls of the town. He was carried to Canton in a rough manner, but, after undergoing an examination there before the Governor and other high officers, has been treated with kindness, supplied with a change of clothes, a servant and other conveniences, the officers considering him as a prisoner of war, not to be severely handled. Capt. Smith, the senior officer on this station made a demand upon the Portuguese Governor of Macao for Stanton, inasmuch as Macao, being considered a neutral place for all parties, no English troops had been landed for the protection of the English residing here. The Governor demanded him of the Chinese, and the taoutai, or Intendant of the place, started for Canton to get Mr. S. from the Governor. However, instead of procuring his release, it is said the Governor was highly indignant with him for having allowed the English to remain in Macao, (as it appeared on Mr. Stanton's examination that they were there), took away his button and sent him back to Macao post haste to order the Portuguese Governor to drive the English away from the settlement, telling him that he (Gov. Lin) was coming with thousands of troops to help him. Capt. Smith on hearing such an answer, waited for a day or two, but nothing being done by the Chinese that indicated an intention of delivering Mr. Stanton up, yesterday anchored two sloops and an armed steamer near the barrier which separates Macao from the Chinese territory and opened a fire upon the troops stationed there. This barrier is a solid stone wall built across an isthmus, having a few houses on the Chinese side of it, but clear of everything on the Port side, except a large temple where several hundred Chinese soldiers were quartered. Nine war junks were anchored in the mud on the opposite of the barrier. As soon as the ships opened their fire, the barrier fort and the junks returned it, the latter keeping up a scattering fire with them for an hour. The ships were so far off that their shot did little execution, and the troops were landed beyond the barrier in Chinese territory about two hours after the firing had commenced. The Chinese made little or no resistance, nothing like a line being formed, or a volley of musketry fired from their hundreds. As soon as the English troops landed they took possession of the barrier, as everyone had fled from it, and began to fire upon the troops in the temple. Many shots had been fired at the temple from the ships, but a projection in the hill and the building itself protected them, the balls passing overhead. As soon as the sepoys opened a fire of musketry upon the temple the scattering shot warned the soldiers there to get out of the way, while a discharge from their field piece silenced the junks. The Chinese soon left the place, and the English after setting fire to the buildings at the barrier went aboard ship again. The number killed among the Chinese is said to be five, but it is probable there are more, as many shots hit the junks, and the muskets of the sepoys were directed towards a number of Chinese.
"This morning Mr. Bridgman and I went to look at the temple. There were great numbers of natives thereabouts, looking at the damage – what little there was – and talking over such an unexpected event. Thousands of them covered the hills, witnessing the action, and many of them were not displeased to see their braggadocio troops routed. They walked over the ruins of the Barrier, where were now no more insulting soldiers; for to understand this feeling it should be mentioned that a body of soldiers is one of the greatest annoyances to a Chinese village that can infest it. Many of the soldiers fled into town, only to leave it again this morning for the country, and to-day there is not a soldier in the place. During the action no excitement or irritation was seen among the populace; they quietly looked on, and when the action was over, returned home to tell what they had seen. One spectator, unluckily wounded in the leg, came to-day to the hospital to be cured; the ball was cut out, and he will probably soon go home quite well."
After negotiations Stanton was released from confinement at Canton by order of Commissioner Ke-shen on the 12th December, 1840, none the worse for the adventure.
As indicated earlier, it is not intended to recite fully in this book the events, already so well known and appearing in so many publications, connected with the first Anglo-Chinese War. The main results were the cession in perpetuity to the British of the Island of Hongkong; the leasing to them of a small strip of the mainland of Kowloon; the opening of five Treaty Ports in China to international trade; and the establishment of intercourse between Great Britain and China on a footing of complete equality.
Upon the completion of the peace negotiations, Charles Elliot issued his celebrated proclamation to the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty. The announcement was dated at Macao, 20th January, 1841, and appeared translated into Portuguese in a Macao newspaper, O Portuguez na China. Several historians have reproduced the essential features of Elliot's Proclamation but have omitted, without explanation, the rest of the document. I find myself privileged to print a complete translation from the Portuguese version of this important statement:
"Macao, 20th January, 1841.
"To Her Britannic Majesty's Subjects.
"Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary has now to announce the conclusion of preliminary arrangements between the Imperial (Chinese) Commissioner and himself, involving the following conditions:-
"1. – The cession of the Island and Harbour of Hongkong to the British Crown. All just charges and duties to the Empire (of China) upon the commerce carried on there to be paid, as if the trade were conducted at Whampoa.
"2. – An indemnity to the British Government of Six millions of dollars, one million payable at once, and the remainder in equal annual instalments, ending in 1846.
"3. – Direct official intercourse between the two countries upon an equal footing.
"4.- The trade of the port of Canton to be opened within ten days after the Chinese New Year, and to be carried on at Whampoa, till further arrangements are practicable at the new settlement.
"Details remain matters of further negotiation.
"The Plenipotentiary avails himself of this earliest opportunity to declare that Her Majesty's Government has not sought any exclusive privilege in China to the benefit alone of British merchants and ships, but he only complies with his duty of offering the protection of the British flag to all subjects, citizens and ships of Foreign Powers that resort to Her Majesty's possession. Whether there shall be established any port or other facilities by the British Government rests on Her Majesty's final decision.
"The Plenipotentiary now takes the liberty of offering a few general observations:
"The forgetting of past injuries, now happily ended, will naturally accompany the genuine sentiments of Her Majesty's subjects. They will certainly bear in mind that no degree of change brought about solely by political factors alone can be effective for the permanent improvement of our condition unless it be methodically aided by a conciliatory treatment of the people and with due regard for their institutions and Government of the Province within which we are about to establish ourselves.
"It only remains for the Plenipotentiary to make a short observation regarding the zeal and discretion of the Commander of the Expedition to China and the exceptional ardour, patience and benignity that have characterised all the officers and troops at all points of occupation or where operations were carried on.
"He is fully persuaded that the British community will share with him his sentiment of abiding respect for His Excellency the Commander and all his forces, and he regrets that these sentiments have not been expressed in adequate terms.
"He cannot conclude without declaring that one of the reasons that rendered possible the settlement of the difficulties peacefully should be attributed to the scrupulous good faith of the most eminent person with whom negotiations are still pending.
(Signed) Charles Elliot,
Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary in China.
A copy of the original in English not being obtainable, I am happy to think that it has fallen to my good fortune to rescue from oblivion Elliot's Proclamation in an almost perfect state of preservation. No doubt it must suffer to some extent from being rendered, in the first instance, from English into Portuguese, and from the translated version back into English. But the text of the announcement has been scrupulously preserved, and as careful a translation has been made as is capable conveying Elliot's lofty sentiments intact, without substantially impairing the beauty of the language. The Proclamation stands as an enduring record of Elliot's high aims and his honesty of purpose. He was an official of rare worth to Britain during an exceedingly difficult period, when he conducted delicate negotiations on behalf of his country with great tact and discretion. The outcome of his diplomacy, oftentimes unsupported and unencouraged, has resulted, as events have proved, to the greatest benefit and advantage of the British Government and its subjects in China.
Having given a complete translation of Elliot's Proclamation, it is fitting that I should do likewise with Ke-shen's Edict, which, fortunately, is found also in the Portuguese language in the same issue of the newspaper O Portuguez na China. An English translation from the Portuguese version of Ke-shen's Edict is given below:
"Ke-shen, one of the Principal Ministers of State, Supreme Imperial Commissioner, member of the Hereditary Nobility of the Second Rank, at present Governor of the Two Kwang Provinces, issues the following for the information of the Tung-chi, or Kuen-Ming-Fu of Macao:
"The English 'barbarians' have now obeyed orders and by an official document will restore Tinghae and Shaokiu (Chuenpee); they have petitioned, with the greatest importunity, for me to intercede on their behalf to the Emperor.
"Matters are now in a better state. Orders were once given to stop all British trade and to impede the supply of provisions to them; but the observance of these orders is not now exacted. For this purpose I have issued this order to the said Tung-chi, who shall obey the same.
"This is a special Order."
In a short leading article, the Portuguese newspaper had not any very flattering remarks to offer on the outcome of the Elliot-Ke-shen negotiations, which have been referred to elsewhere as "The Chuenpi Convention". The paper propounded the following question: "What becomes of Macao?" Although the leader writer could not predict the consequences to Macao of the cession of Hongkong to the British, we shall presently see how the British colony became to many sons of Macao the home of their adoption in the years that followed.
Their departure for Hongkong, their settlement there, and the signal success of their labours and those of their descendants in the British colony for fully one hundred years will be related in the next and succeeding chapters of the history of The Portuguese in Hongkong.
Early Hongkong from Portuguese and other records –
Departure of Captain Elliot
For close on three hundred years, from the year 1557, Macao had been the "home from home" not only of Portuguese nationals but also of subjects of other countries who came seeking commercial relations with the Chinese. It was as much Camoens's "land of sweet sadness" as it was the "Gem of the Orient Earth" of the staid British diplomat, the "haven of refuge" of the merchant and the woman pioneer, or the missionaries' "bridge" to the almost hermetically sealed city of Canton. Here in this pleasant little city – a bit of Portugal transplanted on the shores of China – all were able to live in peace and tranquillity, and engage freely in their lawful pursuits.
Macao had known days of glory and had prospered greatly. She had had ups and downs, but the hospitality of her shores had not been denied to anyone. Here, early in the year 1841, officials of the British Government were actively engaged in preparations for the setting up of an establishment at Hongkong, ceded to Great Britain by China under the Chuenpi Convention.
Before introducing the young Macao "hopefuls" who were about to emigrate to the barren, mountainous island which the British had chosen as their outpost in the Far East, mention may be made of certain physical features of Hongkong which are of historical interest. The most striking is the eastern approach to the harbour of Hongkong: it is known as Lyeemun Pass and is the passage way through which most ocean-going vessels enter and leave Hongkong Harbour.
There exists, in the library of the Academia das Sciencias in Lisbon, an old Portuguese portulan map in original, of the coast of South China from Ilha de Carapuça de Mandarin (the same name is preserved in present-day British Admiralty charts) to Pedra Branca, east of Hongkong, in which Lyeemun Pass, the eastern entrance to Hongkong Harbour, is distinctly shown, but the Portuguese had another name for it. On that map Lyeemun Pass is called by the Portuguese Boca do rio do sal (The Mouth of the Salt River).
There are various theories to explain this curious name. One of them is that the narrow entrance to Hongkong Harbour was then so called because it was believed in those days that there were salt-pans on the mainland, not far from old Kowloon City, similar to the saltpans that can be seen at the present time in the New Territories on the southern side of the roadway linking the village of Taipo-Tsai with the district of Saikung to the North. It is more likely, however, that the name refers to the passage running from Tun-Mun (between Lintin Island and the mainland at Castle Peak) through Cap-Sui-Mun, Hongkong Harbour and Lyeemun Pass, forming a sort of channel or "river" of sea-water between the two points of Tun-Mun and Lyeemun. The early Portuguese navigators, it should be observed, were in the habit of testing the water upon the approach of their vessels to any opening in the coast where a swift current was noticed, to discover whether they were in the vicinity of an entrance to a river or to a strait. The test they applied was to cast an empty bucket at the end of a length of rope into the water and draw up a small quantity of water which they tasted. If the water happened to be salty they concluded that had found a strait, but if it was "fresh" the inference was that they were near the mouth of a river. It was this test which indicated to Magellan, for example, that the strait which now bears his name was a passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. The test at Lyeemun proved that the Portuguese mariners were right in their supposition of the existence of a strait running the whole length from the mouth of the Canton River, at Tun-Mun, across Castle Peak Bay, through Cap-Sui-Mun, and the Harbour of Hongkong to Lyeemun Pass, at the sea end of the beautiful natural landlocked anchorage which bears the name of Hongkong Harbour. While the salt-pans theory should not be dismissed as without any foundation whatsoever, the explanation just given is more likely to be the correct one.
I can discover no printed books in any European language mentioning Lyeemun Pass by the original Portuguese name of the Mouth of the Salt River; but that name can be found in a Portuguese manuscript, now lying in the archives of the Public Library of Ajuda in Lisbon. The text of the manuscripts was published for the first time, with notes and correlated documents from the Macao archives, by Major C. R. Boxer and Mr. J.M. Braga, in the Arquivos de Macau.61 From that account we may learn that Father Pimentel, a Portuguese Jesuit, writing of the Embassy of Manuel de Saldanha to the Court of Peking, mentions the place. He begins by referring to the losses sustained by the Chinese government as a result of the enforcing of the Edict issued by the Regents of China in 1662. This edict, published during the minority of Emperor K'ang Hsi, ordered that all the inhabitants of China living near the coast should retire into the Chinese interior from the littoral, and aimed at depriving the Ming-supporting pirates under Koxinga of all trade and, so the authorities believed, of all means of earning a livelihood. Father Pimentel explains that that Decree was so prejudicial to the Chinese themselves that "the Emperor lost large revenues, in the 'Salt River' not far from Macao, among other places, which amounted to 18,000,000 taels a year".
This is a reference to the taxes collected at the Revenue Station which once existed at Lyeemun. Dues were collected there on all merchandise passing from the coast of China, through Hongkong Harbour via Cap-Sui-Mun to Tun-Mun and so on to Canton. The closure of the Customs stations on the Coast meant the loss to the Manchu Government of many millions of taels of revenue each year.
Might not "Customs Pass" on the summit of the new Clear Water Bay road beyond "Jat Pass", traversed by the old Anderson military road in the New Territories, be a reminder of the old Ming revenue-collecting station, the abandonment of which mean the loss of so much revenue annually to the Emperor's chest in Peking?
Mr. S. F. Balfour, who specialises in research into the early history of the region of Hongkong and the New Territories, has published the results of his researches, from rare Chinese sources, in a contribution to the T'ien Sha Monthly,62 reproduced in book form under the title of Hongkong before the British. From the pages of the booklet 63 are reprinted the following extracts of considerable historical interest:64
"There are so many isthmuses and shallows, the most important being Mirs Bay itself, the Taipo Sea and the Sha Táu Kok isthmus, above which is the highest mountain of all Ng T'ung.
"This region has a country population consisting of four distinct communities known in Chinese as the Tanka, the Hoklo, the Punti and the Hakka.
"The Tanka or the Tan people are the Cantonese-speaking fishing population. The word Tan is a proper name and dictionaries define it.
"In 1723 an imperial edict was passed allowing them all the privileges of ordinary Chinese citizen, except the right to compete in the public examinations which they never obtained.
"The word Hok is a dialect variation of Fukien, and Hoklo are the Fukienese fishing people of our region, but there is another term for them always used in literature, Man. We have already seen that the Tanka are considered a branch of the Man tribe. The word is very ancient and is used synonymously for 'barbarian' or 'uncouth'. From the name alone you can judge that the Hoklo were once considered by the Chinese as barbarians.
"The Punti are the Cantonese-speaking peasants, The word means 'native to the country' and is a weak adjective of the type used by one man to describe himself in relation to a different person. It therefore gives no clue to the origin of the people bearing it. They themselves claim to be of pure Chinese stock and to have colonised the province of Kwangtung from North China, and they refer to themselves as men of T'ang, meaning the T'ang dynasty. In many cases they can trace their ancestry back to Chinese settlers of northern stock, though there is no record of any arriving in the region earlier than the Sung dynasty (A. D. 960).
"The word Hakka means the 'stranger people'; it is used to describe the peasants of a different dialect to Cantonese, who have settled in the hills and along the coast of our region. They themselves acknowledge that they are the latest comers into the region, and that they migrated from exclusively Hakka-speaking country between Kwangtung, Fukien and Kiangsi provinces. The Hakka of those parts declare that they migrated from North China and this tradition is confirmed in every way by scholars, often Hakka themselves, who have collated separate family histories. From these studies it is possible to know that the Hakka did not migrate south of Kiangsi before the 10th century A. D. and we can infer this that their appearance in this region was several centuries later."
Elsewhere in his booklet,65 Mr. Balfour writes of the mass withdrawal of the population from the littoral of South-east China, mentioned by Father Pimentel, enlarging on the Jesuit priest's brief reference to the subject:
"From the very beginning of the dynasty the coastal population was looked upon by the government with extreme suspicion. They were accused of being in sympathy with the cause of the Ming dynasty which was still being kept alive in certain centres along the coast. The Manchu government was never able to muster a good enough fleet to defeat the Ming remnants... the coastal shipping had been the last refuge of the defeated dynasty, the last hope of the Ming dynasty was centred in a fleet which they based at Formosa where they were entirely independent.
It occurred to the Manchus that the only way to avert the danger was to move the entire population of the China coast inland and to fortify the coast more completely. This colossal undertaking was put into practice without much organisation and without a thought of the suffering it entailed. The official reason given was the danger of pirates and the necessity of protecting the population against them ...
"The evacuation was announced by a proclamation giving the people three days in which to remove behind a boundary which had been set up roughly 50 li from the coast. This was disregarded and soldiers had to be marched in to drive the people away... A second and more stringent evacuation took place ... The evacuation in fact led to more disorder on the coast than there had ever been before ... In 1663 for instance the Tanka fishermen who were prevented from earning a livelihood revolted all over the Canton estuary and at one time attacked Canton itself ... In spite of this evacuation lasted from 1662 to 1669 ... The return from evacuation was allowed partly because it had led to greater disturbance than before and partly because of the loss in taxes, which was estimated at 300,000 taels."
I have mentioned the eastern gateway to Hongkong – Lyeemun Pass. There are two other entrances to Victoria Harbour: Sulphur Channel, the western approach from the open Sea, which lies between Green Island and Hongkong, and Cap-Sui-Mun Pass, known among the European sea-faring community as the "Inner Passage". Cap-Sui-Mun has been described by the late Mr. Justice Lindsell as "the Gate through which water is sucked in"66 "The metaphor is taken from a fish inhaling, or more probably Kap Shui Mun, the gateway of rushing waters. In either case the name is obviously derived from the swirling currents which make the navigation of the Pass very tricky. "This channel connects the Canton River with Hongkong Harbour.
Having digressed to touch upon some of the geographical characteristics of Hongkong Harbour, let us now follow the steps taken in connection with the constitutional changes necessitated by the settlement of Hongkong and its merging into the British Dominions.
Captain Charles Elliot in a Circular dated 20th January, 1841, written from Macao, after the cessations of hostilities with the Chinese, declared that.
"pending Her Majesty's further pleasure, all British subjects and foreigners residing in, or resorting to, the island of Hongkong, shall enjoy full security and protection, according to the principles and practice of British law, so long as they shall continue to conform to the authority of Her Majesty's government in and over the island of Hongkong, hereby duly constituted and proclaimed."
Another proclamation issued in the joint names of the Commander-in-Chief Sir J.J. Gordon Bremer, and Captain Charles Elliot, Plenipotentiary, made known to the inhabitants of the Island of Hongkong "that that island has now become part of the dominions of the Queen of England, and all native persons residing therein must understand that they are now subjects of the Queen of England, and to whom and to whose officers they must pay duty and obedience. The inhabitants are hereby promised protection in Her Majesty's Gracious Name, against all enemies whatever; and they are further secured in the free exercise of their religious rites, ceremonies and social customs and in the enjoyment of their lawful private property and interests. "
The British flag was hoisted in Hongkong, according to O Portuguez na China,67 on Tuesday, 26th January, 1841, when "the English took possession in the name of Her Majesty Queen Victoria of the new establishment ceded by the Chinese to the British. " Shortly after the cession, a number of British and foreign merchants residing at Macao, went over to Hongkong to ascertain the possibilities of the new colony for themselves. With the merchants went missionaries also. Suitable sites for dwellings, store-houses, schools and churches were selected.
From the first, members of the Portuguese community at Macao were among the emigrants to the new British colony. Doubts existed, at the beginning, as to the permanency of Hongkong as a settlement; hence most of the British and foreign merchants continued to reside in Macao with their families. They preferred the greater salubrity and better security of the place which they knew and liked so well to the uncertainty of life on the bleak, rocky island of Hongkong, especially in view of the continued hostility in Canton against the British, despite Elliot's eloquent appeal to sink their differences. On the 27th January an Imperial Chinese Edict declared inter-alia that
"A report had been received from Ke-shen, setting forth the attack on and capture of certain forts by the English. The rebellious dispositions of these foreigners being plainly manifest, there remains no other course but to destroy and wash them clean away, and thus display the majesty of the empire. Troops from Szechuen, Kansi, and Hunan, in all 100,000, were ordered to Canton."
In the beginning of February the Chinese Government announced the renewal of war, and hostilities were resumed on the 18th February, 1841. The Battle of the Bogue commenced on the 26th, all the forts guarding the entrance to Canton falling in quick succession to the British troops commanded by Sir Gordon Bremer. After the fall of the city of Canton, hostilities ceased for the time being.
Among the bombards and culverins taken in the Chinese forts in the course of the hostilities were five bronze guns manufactured by the Portuguese at Macao in 1627, and which the Portuguese had presented to the Ming emperor at the time of the Manchu invasion of China. In a report appearing in the Macao weekly,68 the guns were described as very fine and valuable. They were distributed: 2 to the frigate H.M.S. Melville, 2 to H.M.S. Blenheim, and 1 to the ship Queen. The same newspaper stated that guns similar to those found at Ananahoy Fort were to be found at Ceylon, Bombay, Malacca and in other places which formerly belonged to the Portuguese, and which are to-day British possessions. These guns had been manufactured by Manuel Bocarro in Macao, and have been described by Major C. R. Boxer in his recent history Macao Three Hundred Years Ago.69 As stated by Major Boxer, one of these fine guns may be seen at the present time in the Tower of London.
Though Captain Elliot had hoped that the occupation on the South China capital would have led the Chinese to realise that the British were in earnest in their desire that conventions should be respected, the Canton authorities persisted in their hostile attitude towards the 'barbarian' invaders. The Manchu Court of Peking dismissed Ke-shen, and the next commissioner, Eleepoo, was also removed from office for not succeeding in defeating the British. All communication between Canton and Hongkong was strictly forbidden by the Chinese Government and other provocative edicts were published. Eventually, hostilities broke out again, and Canton was invested once more (26th May, 1841), and a new treaty signed. It might have been thought that the Chinese had had enough of defeats, but fighting continued at intervals for some time longer.
Even while the hostilities were going on, a few of the more enterprising foreign merchants in Macao began setting up their businesses in Hongkong. With the help of the Chinese labourers from Macao (for workmen were not available from Canton) it did not take long for a number of temporary sheds to be erected on the foreshore of Hongkong Island for the storage of merchandise and for use as shops. A few Chinese shop-keepers, also from Macao, transferred to Hongkong, and so went to increase the population of the young settlement. There was no trade to speak of, business for the most part being conducted at Macao, as in the past.
In between spells of hostilities, Captain Elliot found time to devote to plans for the development of Hongkong. A number of ordinances for the regulation of the new settlement were accordingly framed and put into force. The port was declared to be free, and traders of all countries were invited to bring their vessels into the waters of Hongkong; lots of land with marine frontage were sold by public auction to persons contemplating the building of houses; and various parts of the colony were laid out for commercial development and for residences, barracks, hospitals and churches.
Among the merchants who were anxious to try their fortunes in Hongkong none had greater faith in the new colony than Mr. James Matheson; but the majority of the British community in Macao had no good word for Hongkong, especially after terrifying reports began to circulate that a deadly fever caused by "morbific poison", as they called it, arising from the soil,70 and fatal dysenteries, and intermittent ague were taking heavy toll among the pioneers of the new settlement. Captain Elliot was loudly blamed for having chosen a place "that had nothing to recommend it save a good anchorage and good water".
The British Superintendency of Trade continued to function at Macao, where the Hongkong Government Gazette was published till 1842. As a matter of fact only the most enterprising of the traders were not disheartened by the obstacles encountered in Hongkong. With the help of their Portuguese clerical assistants and Chinese artisans and tradesmen from Macao, the various parts of the new settlement began to take shape.
Echoing the feelings of the community generally in Macao, early in the month of July, a dismal note was struck in the Macao weekly newspaper71 regarding the future of Hongkong when it referred to the damage Hongkong had suffered, more than had been thought likely, from the ravages of white ants and fever, the former destroying buildings and often clothing, and the latter killing many officials and soldiers. "If this state of things continues," the newspaper went on, "Hongkong will have for its name 'the Island of the Dead', or the 'Hospital of the Sickly' ". In this respect O Portuguez na China anticipated the gloomy views expressed later in the columns of the English journals in Hongkong itself, and even in England, concerning the poor outlook for Hongkong.
Despite this early pessimism, Hongkong survived the perilous period of its infancy. Soon O Portuguez na China was able to report72 that 1,500 labourers were engaged in site formation, road levelling, and construction of the barracks and Government offices, etc. in Hongkong. The wages paid the workmen of the coolie class consisted of the modest sum of $5 each a month. It was difficult to secure a sufficient number of mechanics and artisans for employment because of the scarcity of skilled labour at that time.
In those early days, the buildings in Hongkong were of the native matshed type, but these were followed not long afterwards by houses of a more substantial nature, consisting of a ground floor of stone, or brick and stone, with a brick and wooden upper floor. The lower portion of the building was generally used for the storage of merchandise, and the first floor as offices or residence. This type of structure had been first adopted by the Portuguese in their colonies in the Far East, and many fine old buildings in this style may still be seen not in Macao but in cities like Malacca and a score of other places first colonized by the Portuguese.
As increasing numbers of masons and carpenters and other artisans arrived in Hongkong, residences for the officials and merchants were, in course of time, built on the lower slopes of the hills, above the city itself. Tradesmen, like shopkeepers, tailors, washermen, etc., were able to find scope for their activities in the new settlement. A report appeared in O Portuguez na China, the Macao weekly, to the effect that such a large number of tradesmen had gone from Macao to Hongkong, that the Portuguese colony was suffering somewhat. The paper stated that it had been informed that Chinese officials had warned the families of the Chinese in Macao having relations in Hongkong that if these relations did not return to their former homes their families would be handed over to the mandarins. The Portuguese authorities did not, however, restrict the freedom of the people. Nor does it appear that the Chinese officials actually carried out their threat.
In Hongkong everything pointed to progress, in spite of sickness and the heavy mortality. Unfortunately there occurred "during the summer of 1841 one of the worst typhoons that ever visited Hongkong". A vivid description of the storm appears in Basil Lubbock's book The Opium Clippers.73 "At daybreak on July 21", he writes,
"the anchorage was crowded with shipping; all the men-of-war, transports and store-ships were in the harbour, getting ready for the descent upon Amoy. In addition there were a great number of merchant ships – Indiamen and free-traders from London and Liverpool; country craft from Bombay and Calcutta; opium receiving ships, clippers and coasters; American fur traders and South seamen; sandalwood and beche-de-mer brigs and schooners from the Fijis; one of the Bobby Towns' decrepit Sydney-side island traders; and several nondescript traders of various nationalities, which had come 'seeking' to the new free port.
"Daybreak found nearly every ship preparing for the worst, furling awnings, sending down yards, housing top-masts, veering cable, putting on extra lashing, etc., though even at 6 o'clock there were about a few slack ships with royal yards across the awnings blowing about.
"Several transports, which had been busy transhipping stores, etc., alongside each other, now hurried to cast off and find clear berths, whilst hundreds of tanka boats, lorchas and junks were busy getting under way in the hopes of being able to get across to the Kowloon shore, where they would find shelter and smooth water.
"On the high stern of every junk stood a man beating a gong with all his might in an attempt to appease the storm-fiend; others of the crew were busy letting off crackers.
"In the midst of these unnerved Chinamen, a daring little schooner stood away for Macao. She had treasure aboard – 100,000 dollars so it was said – and two or three passengers. She was never seen or heard of again.
"Up above the growing town of Victoria, on the brow of the hill, was a hospital, built of bamboo and palmyra leaf, 200ft. Long by 18ft. broad, which was crowded to overflowing with officers and men from the 37th Regiment, some with fever, some with wounds, some with dysentery; indeed there was only one officer out of 18 and 100 men out of 600 still fit for duty. The doctor, MacPherson, was halfway through his rounds when this whole hospital was picked up by the storm and removed several feet away from its foundations. One can hardly imagine the terrifying scene; the shrieks and groans of the crushed patients, the crash of breaking beams, the howling of the wind, the splash and hiss of the rain, all combined to stun the senses of those who were striving to rescue the unfortunates pinned under the uprooted building. Barrack after barrack was levelled to the ground like the hospital, the wind even tore up the wooden flooring; officers' quarters fell, and the wreckage was piled up and hurled along by the storm-fiend, so that it was dangerous to stay in the lines and there was a general sauve qui peut into the bush. Along the shore, the sea was soon flooding in far beyond the high-water mark, until it met the cascades of rain water which was pouring off the hills. The breakers, a mass of drift-wood, wreckage, bilged sampans and tanka boats, and mangled corpses, swept the beach, whilst masses of loose stones, rolling down the mountains, destroyed shops and godowns, whose inmates ran out into the storm, shrieking for help from their indifferent gods.
"The damage done by this typhoon was reckoned to be 9 vessels totally lost, viz., 2 barques, 1 ship, 1 brig, 4 schooners, and H. M. cutter Louisa.
"That historic little cutter, the Louisa, which had a peculiar knack of finding herself in the thick of everything, was wrecked in this typhoon.
"Both the Plenipotentiaries – Captain Elliot and Sir Gordon Bremer – were on board of her and barely escaped with their lives. They were on their way across from Macao. Soon after sunset of the 20th, it being calm and the tide against them, it was decided to anchor about 3 miles S. E. of the S. W. point of Lantao.
"Finding they were drifting down to Tchow, Captain Elliot ordered the cable to be slipped and a shred of the mainmast set. It was in the strain and stress of raising the head of the mainsail, with every wave sweeping the cutter from stem to stern, that her commander was knocked overboard by the boom and drowned.
"Captain Elliot at once took the helm and succeeded in steering the Louisa through the middle of the Luna islets, escaping rocks which could only be seen at the very last moment by a hair's breadth.
"However, when the island of Myloo appeared right ahead, it was seen that the only chance was to anchor; but they were already in breaking water and no anchor could hold in such heavy surf, so that in a very short time the Louisa had bilged herself on the rocks and filled.
"In various ways, everyone managed to get ashore, some crawled over the rocks, others swam, and a few were hauled by means of a rope.
"For the rest of the night they crouched in a fissure in the side of the cliff, down which a torrent was pouring. At daylight they were discovered by fishermen who had come down to pillage the wreck. They had hardly bargained to be landed at Macao for 1000 dollars when another lot of fishermen arrived; these last stripped them of all their clothing including a star of the Hanoverian Guelphic Order.
"By this time bodies of dead Chinamen, some lashed to spars, some horribly lacerated, were being washed up on the shore, and for a time black looks were turned upon the Europeans as if they were the cause of the typhoon.
"Luckily Captain Elliot happened to know two of the fishermen, and with them he bargained for the shipwrecked crew to be taken to Macao for 3,000 dollars. But their trials were not over.
"On their way they were hailed by an armed mandarin boat, looking for wrecks. Luckily the fishermen had made Captain Elliot, Sir Gordon Bremer, Lord Amelius Beauclerk and one other hide in the bottom of the boat under the floor mats, for there was a reward of 50,000 dollars offered for either Plenipotentiary alive and 30,000 dollars dead. But the fishermen remained staunch; and presently Captain Elliot stepped ashore at Macao clad in a pair of striped trousers and a monkey jacket without a shirt, the commodore being even further disguised in a blue worsted frock.
"In this plight they were recognised by the Portuguese officer of the guard, who would have liked, but tactfully refrained, from turning out the guard in their honour."
This typhoon was followed by a second, five days later. Starting at five o'clock in the morning, the storm went on increasing in violence until 10.00 a. m. and the barometer fell from 29.34 to 28.94. Further heavy damage was done at sea and shore, and one historian went so far as to state that "the last days of Hongkong seemed to be approaching". The damage of the two typhoons was still being repaired when a conflagration broke out among the matsheds and huts forming the commercial and residential district of the Chinese (12th August 1841), and destroyed almost all the frail structures.
To make matters worse for the new British colony, the Canton authorities continued to cause trouble. They had, in earlier days, drawn perquisites from the foreign trade of Canton, and the setting up of a free trade policy in Hongkong, over which the Chinese had no control, meant that the profits of office in Canton had practically disappeared. It is not surprising, therefore, that they did all they could devise to harass the infant colony of Hongkong. Rewards were offered by them not only for the high British officials mentioned by Lubbock in the quotation above, but for any other "red-headed devil" seized and delivered to the Chinese authorities.
Macao continued to extend a friendly welcome to all who sought a haven from danger, and its sanctuary was availed of then, as it had been availed of in earlier days and has been on more than one occasion since; often it has been given in Portuguese homes. This hospitality has not been confined to Europeans only. It has proved, in a very real sense, a bond of friendship with the Chinese, too, from the earliest days of the little colony's existence, and continues to the present time.
In the early stages of the existence of Hongkong as a British colony, there was a sense of rivalry it is true between the old colony of Macao and the young township of Hongkong, yet, although the Portuguese realised that in Hongkong the British were steadily building up a trading centre that would some day overshadow Macao, a feeling of intimacy, and even of friendship, continued between the colonists of the two European countries, born in all probability of hardships endured and dangers faced together in Macao during the troubled years before peace between Britain and China was restored. It is significant that that friendship – marred at times by thoughtless actions on the part of irresponsible, impetuous individuals, or sectarian enthusiasm shown by some misguided visitor – has endured through all these years. Official relations between the representatives of the Governments of the neighbouring colonies have been maintained on a most cordial basis, engendered by the mutual understanding and respect existing for centuries between Great Britain and Portugal. It would be well for succeeding generations to recall the good fellowship of the past and to remember that the Portuguese have never failed their friends in adversity.
On the 29th July, 1841, information reached Captain Elliot that the British Government had expressed disapproval of the Chuenpi Convention, and had appointed Sir Henry Pottinger to succeed him as British Plenipotentiary in China. Twelve days later Sir Henry Pottinger arrived at Macao, and Elliot surrendered his office to the new Plenipotentiary. A feeble attempt to preserve Elliot's name in Hongkong was made when what is now known as "Glenealy" was first named "Elliot's Vale"; but even that poor recognition was ungraciously withdrawn by an official of a later generation. The spot which at one time bore Elliot's name is a beautiful hollow, or glen, through which runs a road with a profusion of tropical verdure on both sides, descending from Conduit Road at the entrance of the late Sir Paul Chater's house – "Marble Hall" – to Queen's Road at its junction with Wyndham Street.
With the departure from Macao for England, on the 24th August, 1841, of Captain Charles Elliot, R. N., on board H. M. S. Atlanta, let me bring this Chapter to a close; and, incidentally, let the curtain drop on the eventful career in China of a British official of rare intellect and gifted with the ability and resolution to steer a safe course for British honour through the most stormy period in the whole history of Anglo-Chinese relations.
When the sails of the Atlanta had filled to the breeze and the stately ship got under way on her long voyage homeward bound, the Portuguese accorded the usual honours due to the high rank of Captain Elliot with a salute of thirteen guns fired from the Monte Fort. It was a fitting "farewell". Though his countrymen failed to recognise his worth, Elliot left the shores of Macao bearing the good-will of the Portuguese colonists, from whom he had earned sentiments of high respect and esteem. The warm send-off he was given from Macao was not the "bowed-out-of-Macao" gesture which Eitel so sarcastically calls it in his book Europe in China. The Macao Government's procedure was the customary and correct one, in accordance with International usage, and there was no reason why it should have been otherwise. Governor Silveira Pinto directed the adoption of the most courteous proceedings in the departure ceremony, in keeping with the dignity of Captain Elliot's position and in token of respect from the representative of the Portuguese Government to a distinguished colleague of a friendly government.
The Rise of Hongkong – Early Portuguese Settlers
The ill favour with which the early British residents of Hongkong viewed the prospects of the new settlement was reflected in despatches to the British Government in London, and can also be gathered from newspaper reports by men who doubted that the island of Hongkong was worth developing as an integral part of the British Empire. The early pessimists were many. Time has shown to what extent the predictions of the "doubting Thomases" have been falsified.
A typical criticism is the following report which appeared in the Friend of China and Hongkong Gazette74:
"We have no native merchants settled in the colony; neither is produce imported, nor goods exported, to any of the five ports, except it be on British account; and all mercantile transactions are concluded at those ports, whilst the harbour of Hongkong is completely deserted. Not an anchor of a junk is dropped in the bay of Hongkong; they flee from it as a man would from a pestilence ... Hongkong, a free port, is deprived of all trade further than the transhipment of goods, and a supply of articles for local consumption, the commissions upon which would barely pay the expenses of a first class mercantile establishment".
On another occasion the same newspaper reported in an editorial that:75
"The respectable Parsee firm, whose extensive premises near Messrs. Dent & Co. are now nearly finished, have determined not to remove to Hongkong; others, who contemplated settling here, have changed their minds and remain at Macao."
The poor estimation in which Hongkong was held by the merchants already settled there was also voiced by the same journal on yet another occasion:76
"We hesitate not to assert, that with the exception of two or three houses, who have a large coasting trade (this refers to the opium trade), nearly every merchant in the place would cheerfully dispose of his property at cost price, and abandon this island; and even the exceptions we have made, could manage their business equally well at Macao".
The majority of the merchants continued to favour Macao as a place of residence, not only for themselves but principally for their families, and a memorial to Lord Stanley, Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time, from a number of firms, including Jardine, Matheson & Co., Dent &Co., and other British merchants who had set up establishments in Hongkong, dated "Victoria, 13th August, 1845", contained a significant passage:
"The Americans and all other foreigners remain in Canton and Macao, notwithstanding all the boasted advantages of Hongkong as a free port".
Macao became, as a matter of fact, the health resort for Hongkong residents needing a rest or a change of air. This is evident from an extract culled from the Civil Service Report of the Government of Hongkong, for the year 1844. There were others in similar vein. The extract reads:
" ... Colonial Secretary very ill, went on sick leave to Macao; officiating Surveyor-General very ill, went on sick leave to Macao; Colonial Engineer twice ill, went on sick leave to Macao; Auditor-General very ill, went on sick leave to Macao; the Harbour Master and Marine Magistrate went on sick leave to England, his successor proceeded on sick leave to Macao ..."
The inscriptions on the tombstones in the English Cemetery at Macao also tell a significant story, for until Hongkong became healthy and tranquil enough, the merchants who moved over to Hongkong to try their fortunes in the new British settlement would not risk taking their wives and children with them, but left them behind at Macao. Some of these women-folk and children of the Hongkong merchants died in the Portuguese colony and the tombstones over their graves in Macao remain to tell the plaintive tale.
There were also many deaths at Macao among the men of the British and foreign communities, in the early' 40's most of whom had been stricken ill at Hongkong. So little confidence was there, at the time, in the permanency of the British settlement at Hongkong, that it is said that so high an official as Sir Humphrey le Fleming Senhouse, R.N., C.B., K.C.B., Senior Officer in Command of the British Fleet in the China Seas, who died on board H.M.S. Druid at Hongkong, on the 13th June, 1841, expressed a desire, before his death, that his remains might be buried at Macao. The interment took place, in accordance with his wishes, in the Portuguese colony.
The tombstone erected over his grave records the "testimony of esteem and respect for their distinguished and lamented chief, by the officers of the Army and Navy, comprising the China Expedition in 1841".77
Among the tombstones in the English Cemetery at Macao must be noted, among others, one of particular interest. It will be found over the grave of the Right Honourable Lord Henry John Spencer Churchill, 4th son of George, 5th Duke of Marlborough.78 He was Captain of H.M.S. Druid and Senior Officer in command of the British Fleet in the China Seas before Sir Fleming Senhouse. He died on board his ship in the Macao Roads on the 2nd June, 1840, aged 43 years. The inscription on his tombstone records that "This monument is erected by his officers and petty officers in testimony and affection".
In other ways the British merchants showed their lack of confidence in the permanence of Hongkong as a Crown Colony. Horse-racing and yachting, for instance, have long been popular sports among the British, yet up to as late as 1845, the British trading community did not indulge in their favourite sports in Hongkong but confined their horse-race meetings and yachting excursions to Macao. There was no proper course laid out in the Portuguese colony for horse-racing, it is true, but the open fields then extending from the city gates, known as Porta do Campo, to the Barrier were used for the purpose. The yachts and other pleasure craft of the British residents were sailed in the placid waters of Macao's Inner Harbour, on most afternoons. For longer excursions and picnics the boats sailed from Praia Grande Bay to Taipa and also to Lappa, or to Green Island, returning to Macao by the Inner Harbour.
Everything indicates that the British as a community were thoroughly disgusted with Hongkong; and books were even written condemning the choice of the barren island, while the newspapers in England were just as critical of the choice which had been made, as were the press of Hongkong. Not only was Hongkong "an unhealthy, pestilential, barren rock" held "in ill repute by the Chinese nation", where "the withering sense of desolation and death, which flickers before the mental vision of the spectator, is overpowering", but Henry Charles Sirr, the first barrister practising in Hongkong, exclaimed: "We deem it a duty which we owe our fellow-men to speak truthfully and plainly of the insalubrity of China generally, but especially of Hongkong, for had we had but one sincere friend, who would have told us the honest truth concerning that charnel-house Hongkong, not all the wealth of the East would have lured us thither", and he ranted against "the wretched diplomacy evinced in selecting an insalubrious, piratical island for a Colonial possession".79
The census taken in May, 1841, showed that there were 5,650 Chinese residents, among them 2,000 boat people, but five years later, the Rev. Mr. George Smith, later the first Bishop of Victoria (Hongkong), speaking of the increasing numbers, felt that "the lowest dregs of native society flock to the British settlement, in the hope of gain or plunder, and although a few of the better class of shopkeepers are beginning to settle in the colony, the great majority of the new comers are of the lowest condition and character".80 Among these there moved British and foreign sailors, rough men from the ships which thronged Hongkong Harbour, who frequented the drinking saloons, hardly the company which the merchants and shipowners would have liked their women-folk to meet, and regarding whom the Rev. Mr. Smith said: "It is with unfeigned regret and reluctance that the author states, that scenes frequently occur in the public streets, and in the interior of houses, which are calculated to place the countrymen of missionaries in an unfavourable aspect".81
It is not surprising that the British generally were disgusted with Hongkong, and the London Times gave utterance to public opinion in Britain with regard to the new colony:
"Hongkong is always connected with some fatal pestilence, some doubtful war, or some discreditable internal squabble, so much so that, in popular language, the name of this noisy, bustling, quarrelsome, discontented little island may not inaptly be used as a euphonious synonym for a place not mentionable to ears polite. Every official's hand is there against his neighbour. The Governor has run away to seek health or quiet elsewhere. The Lieutenant-General has been accused of having allowed his servant to squeeze. The newspaper proprietors were, of late, all more or less in prison or going to prison or coming out of prison... The heads of the mercantile houses hold themselves quite aloof from local disputes and conduct themselves in a highly dignified manner, which is one of the chief causes of the evil..."82
Yet, by 1860 the population had reached 92,441 Chinese residents, and 2,476 British and other non-Chinese individuals, including the garrison. And contrast the glowing account of Hongkong, by Sir William Des Voeux, the Governor, less than half a century after the British flag was first hoisted on the Island, with the gloomy views quoted in the preceding pages, and, for that matter, any of the "authorities" on the subject of early Hongkong. This account is contained in Sir William Des Voeux's despatch dated 31st October, 1889, forwarding the Colony's Blue Book for 1888 to the Right Honourable Lord Knutsford, Secretary of State for the Colonies:
"Hongkong has indeed changed its aspect; and when it is remembered that all this has been effected in Her Majesty's reign and indeed during a space of less than fifty years on ground in immediate contact with the most populous Empire in the world, by a comparatively infinitesimal number of an entirely alien race separated from their homes by nearly the whole earth, and, unlike their countrymen in Australia and Canada, living in an enervating and trying climate; and when it is further remembered that the Chinese, whose labour and enterprise under British auspices have largely assisted in this development, have been under no compulsion, but have come here as free men, attracted by liberal institutions, equitable treatment, and the justice of our rule; and when all this is taken into account, it may be doubted whether the evidences of material and moral achievement, presented as it were in a focus, make anywhere a more forcible appeal to eye and imagination, and whether any other spot on the earth is thus more likely to excite, or much more fully justifies pride in the name of Englishmen".83
There was cause indeed for Sir William Des Voeux to feel the satisfaction which he expressed in his report, but no one who has followed the history of the past century can feel otherwise than that Hongkong, in the hands of a British administration, was bound to be a success. And when the success is measured in terms of material welfare and financial growth it must be conceded that its prosperity was indeed assured. The subsequent rise of Hongkong to position of eminence as one of the greatest ports in the world has demonstrated, more effectively than any words of praise, the soundness of Elliot's judgment in his choice of Hongkong as a British settlement. It was in the second half of the '40's that the British merchants began to see the greater possibility of permanent residence at Hongkong, after the authorities had introduced health measures, and the more cautious persons who had continued living at Macao for such a long time began to bestir themselves and move over to join their fellow nationals in the British colony. As the number of Europeans in Hongkong increased, churches and schools were built on the Island, not only for the British community but for the Portuguese there as well.
The praise meted out by Sir William Des Voeux to the pioneers of Hongkong embraces all sections of the community of Hongkong, British as well as others, specially those who braved the trials and tribulations of the early days when the merchants seemed so nervous and chary about living in the new settlement. Among the non-British pioneers who assisted the British colonizers, the Portuguese can claim a proud and honourable place.
The decision of the British to transfer to Hongkong, on the 27th February, 1842, the official headquarters of British trade in China showed the determination of the Government to push forward their plans for the building up of their own trading centre in China, despite the serious difficulties attending the founding of the new settlement. It was a move that opened up a new outlook for the Portuguese in China: and who will say that Hongkong did not benefit by it? The Portuguese endured with the British pioneers the trials, hardships, and horrors of those early years of Hongkong's history, and shared with them the labours which resulted in the building up of Hongkong on a foundation "well and truly laid".
From the very beginning, younger members of the Portuguese community at Macao in the service of British firms accompanied the latter to their new establishments in Hongkong. The loyalty of the Portuguese was thus displayed at the earliest stage of Hongkong's existence and it has remained as one of the outstanding traits of the Portuguese in Hongkong during the past one hundred years. Venturesome young men among the Macao Portuguese also emigrated from Macao to try their fortunes on their own account in the new field.
When Sir Henry Pottinger moved over the Superintendency of British Trade in China from Macao to Hongkong it was just such people among the Portuguese at Macao who threw in their lot with the British officials and built their new homes on the fever ridden island of Hongkong. Included in the staff of the Superintendency transferred to Hongkong as well as in most of the British firms were Portuguese young men filling clerical and other essential positions, some of them qualified interpreters in three or more languages. Regarding the competency of the Portuguese to interpret in the English, Chinese, Malayan and Portuguese languages, a tribute must be paid to the Fathers of St. Joseph's College at Macao for their excellent work in the teaching of these languages.
None will be found to grudge the Portuguese migrants the rewards which their loyalty, devotion to duty, ability, integrity, and law-abiding characteristics earned for them in Hongkong. It will be my endeavour to furnish a chronicle of what Hongkong gave to some of them in return during the years which followed.
Among the first Portuguese to go over to the new British colony, pride of place must certainly be given to the two brothers Almada – Mr. Leonardo d'Almada e Castro and his younger brother, Mr. José Maria d'Almada e Castro. They went over to Hongkong from Macao with the British as members of the staff of the Superintendency of British Trade in China when that organisation was transferred t Hongkong in 1842.
There can be no disputing the propriety of assigning the premier place among the Portuguese pioneers of Hongkong to these young men, both of whom were subsequently raised to positions of honour and distinction in the service of the Government of Hongkong, as were descendants of the younger of the two brothers – Mr. J. M. d'Almada e Castro. It is altogether fitting to record, in this book on the Portuguese in Hongkong, the long and honourable service of these two brothers with the British Government.
In the Hongkong Almanack and Directory for 1849 will be found the names of both the brothers Almada. The elder (Leonardo) appears as Clerk of Councils to both the Executive and Legislative Councils of the Government of Hongkong and concurrently Keeper of the Records in the Colonial Secretary's Office. He first entered the service of the British Government in 1836, at Macao, in the office of the Superintendency of British Trade in China. The younger brother (José Maria) was Second Clerk in the British Trade Superintendency, having first joined the service at Macao. He, like his brother, was transferred from Macao to the Colonial Secretariat in Hongkong.
Details of their careers in the Hongkong Colonial Service are given in Mr. Norton-Kyshe's work on the history of the laws and courts of Hongkong. Recording the death, on the 15th January, 1875, of Mr. Leonardo d'Almada e Castro, at the age of sixty-one, Kyshe's History states:84
"At a meeting of the Legislative Council on the 23rd February, in the absence of the Governor, The Chief Justice, Sir John Smale, referred to the death of Mr. d'Almada, its sad circumstances, and his long service, both under the Superintendency of Trade, which was formerly vested in the Governor of Hongkong, and as Clerk of Councils. Sir John Smale dwelt at length on Mr. d'Almada high qualifications, zeal, discretion, and conduct of business, and moved as follows:
"That this Council greatly regrets the death of Leonardo d'Almada e Castro, Esq., the oldest public servant in this Colony, who, having in 1836 entered the service of the Crown in the Office of the Superintendency of British Trade in China, was, since May, 1847, Clerk of the Councils and First Clerk in the office of the Colonial Secretary. The Council cordially records its high estimate of his public services in these important offices, the duties of which he has discharged, faithfully and with great ability, assiduity, and discretion; and expressing its appreciation of the private worth of the deceased, it offers its condolence to his widow and family".
"The motion was put and carried unanimously. The Colonial Secretary referred to the deceased officer as a "very dictionary of public events, transactions, and correspondence received during an official career of thirty-four years," and concluded with the following motion:
"That, in consideration of the fidelity, zeal, and efficiency, with which the late Mr. Leonardo d'Almada e Castro performed the duties of his appointments under this Government during a period of more than thirty years, a pension at the rate of $150 per month be granted to his widow and daughter during their natural lives, $100 thereof being payable to Mrs. d'Almada and $50 to her daughter".
"The motion being put was carried unanimously".
Regarding Mr. Leonardo d'Almada e Castro, there was an important decision by the Government of Great Britain the circumstances of which go to make an event that constitutes something of an unwritten page in the history of the Portuguese in Hongkong and which I feel honoured to record in this book. When, in 1882, seven years after the death of Mr. Leonardo d'Almada, Sir John Pope Hennessy was about to lay down the reins of Government in Hongkong, the Portuguese employees of the Government sent a deputation comprised of their oldest members, to call at Government House to present an address. In the course of his reply to the address, Sir John Pope Hennessy said:85
"In my office there is a despatch, written more than twenty years ago, from the Duke of Newcastle, instructing Sir John Bowring to appoint Mr. L. d'Almada e Castro to be the Colonial Secretary of Hongkong. I cannot find any record explaining why Governor Bowring did not carry out these instructions. But as far as I am concerned, I prefer the policy laid down by so wise and good a man, and one who knew his Sovereign's wishes so well, as the Duke of Newcastle".
Had Mr. d'Almada e Castro lived longer and served under Sir John Pope Hennessy, it is likely that he would have been honoured by being appointed Colonial Secretary of Hongkong – the highest position in the Government of the Colony after that of Governor.
In private life the Almada brothers were noted for their generosity. In the early 1870's Mr. Leonardo d'Almada assigned a piece of land on Caine Road to the Canossian Order of Nuns and so enabled them to establish their first footing on the Island of Hongkong in a building of their own. The original plot of ground donated to the Canossian Sisters by Mr. L. d'Almada e Castro was subsequently enlarged by a gift from the younger brother, Mr. J. M. d'Almada e Castro, of a more extensive tract of land for the large school and orphanage so well known at the present time as a home of Christian charity. The Almada brothers did well in Hongkong, it is true, but their gifts of land represented a useful payment in kind to the land of their adoption.
Mr. Leonardo d'Almada e Castro had two daughters, the younger of whom entered the novitiate of the Canossian Sisters of Charity, and took the veil in 1878, assuming the name of Sister Anita; she died in Hongkong at the advanced age of ninety, in 1938. The elder daughter married a Mr. Remedios, by whom she had two daughters and two sons. When her husband died, she took her children to England, where her sons died at a comparatively early age. The male numbers of this branch of the family thus died out, leaving no sons to carry on the family name.
Mr. José Maria d'Almada e Castro, as we have seen, joined the service of the British Government at Macao in 1836, and came to Hongkong in 1842. He rose step by step in the service of the Hongkong Government, and in 1877, Sir John Pope Hennessy showed his appreciation of his services by appointing him his Private Secretary. At the time of his death (23rd January, 1881), José Maria d'Almada held, as his brother had done before him, the post of Chief Clerk of the Colonial Secretariat and Clerk of Councils of the Hongkong Government. He married in Hongkong, and had a large family of boys and girls. The eldest son (Luiz) entered the Government service and remained a Government employee till his death, and dying early did not have the opportunity of rising as high as his uncle and father before him.
The second son, Joaquim Telles, named after his grandfather,86 was employed in the Hongkong office of the International Banking Corporation, and held the position of Chief Clerk at the time of his retirement. The other sons, named respectively Francisco Xavier d'Almada e Castro and Leonardo d'Almada e Castro, Senior, were both solicitors in Hongkong and did well in their profession. The son of Mr. F. X. d'Almada e Castro, named after his father, has also embraced the profession of his father. The elder son of Mr. Leo. d'Almada e Castro, Sr. – the Hon. Mr. Leo. d'Almada e Castro, Jr. – is a barrister-at-law, and was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of the Hongkong Government in 1937, and the younger son – Mr. C. d'Almada e Castro – was appointed Assistant Crown Solicitor in Hongkong, in November, 1941. Of the daughters of Mr. J.M. d'Almada e Castro, the eldest, Maria Theresa, married Mr. Alexandrino dos Remedios, and among their children are Mr. J.M. d'Almada e Remedios, a Hongkong solicitor, Mr. F.E. d'Almada e Remedios, a partner of the Union Trading Company, Ltd., a well known Hongkong firm, and Mr. F.X. d'Almada e Remedios, employed by the General Electric Company, of China. Another daughter, Camilla Maria, married Mr. Jose Gutierrez, of the Hongkong Colonial Secretariat staff. Ignez Maria married Mr. Fernando Carvalho, of the Hongkong office of the Hongkong &Shanghai Banking Corporation, and Anita married Mr. J. Mowbray Jones, who was engaged in insurance business at Canton.
Another Portuguese gentleman occupied a responsible position in the Colonial Secretariat in Hongkong in the 1840's. He was Mr. Alexandre Grande-Pré, who held the post of 4th Clerk and like the Almada brothers went from Macau to Hongkong with the British establishment. He was the son of Major A.J. Grande-Pré, A.D.C. to the Governor of Macao in 1825-1827. He also served the Hongkong Government as Interpreter of Malay, Bengalee, and Portuguese. He was later transferred to the Hongkong Police Establishment.
A very strenuous life of it did the police force of Hongkong lead in the hectic '40's and '50's of the last century. The growing young port of Victoria was a pioneer town in the true "frontier" tradition. In those old days the main street of Hongkong ran along the waterfront, which was where Queen's Road is to-day. From the ends of the earth came trading ships to Hongkong, and tanned and bronzed sailors, rough men of many nations, came ashore intent on pleasure and a gay time after long voyages. To cater for them saloons and boarding-houses abounded, some of decidedly ugly reputation; and they did a roaring business in Hongkong town. Fights, in which knives and pistols were sometimes used, were of frequent occurrence, for here gathered men who were of the veriest riff-raff of society in Europe and America. Some of the more desperate among them joined Chinese corsairs, preying on the shipping of the South China waters, and armed robbers were so bold that they even entered Government House, banks, and mercantile establishments, while two high officials were murdered when they attempted to defend their homes. All in all, the policeman's lot in early Hongkong was, in the words of an old song, not a happy one. It is not surprising that word began to go round that the police were in collusion with the bandits, causing an historian to record that the Police Force had "sunk into the most wretched and ineffective condition such as admitted of robberies occurring nightly and people being often knocked down in the centre of the town in the middle of the day".87
Something drastic had to be done, and it is to the credit of Mr. Grande-Pré that he obtained permission to secure the assistance of police officers from Macao, who helped the Hongkong authorities until Mr. Charles May, sent from London, where he was an Inspector of the Metropolitan Police, was able to reorganize the Hongkong Police Force and introduce some semblance of order and discipline.
For a while, Mr. Grande-Pré's assistance in the reorganization of the Police Force was recognized. He was promoted to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Police and even as Superintendent of Police – the only time this important post in Hongkong has been held by a foreigner.
But time passed and, sad to relate, the memory of Mr. Grande-Pré's valuable work soon faded. He appears to have become one of the earliest victims in Hongkong of that unfair racial discrimination so wrongly practised in after years in British Colonial administration, as may be deduced from brief glimpses into his career:
"On the 1st August, 1855, Mr. Alexandre Grande-Pré was appointed to the office of Assistant Superintendent of Police and General Interpreter in the room of Mr. Caldwell, resigned, being gazetted on the 9th. Mr. Grande-Pré was represented as an alien, and in other respects his appointment was unfavourably commented upon, and as a Police Commission had been sitting since the 1st August, this appointment was suggested as one for inquiry, having regard to the qualifications for the office of the senior officers passed over. His next appointment was that of Acting Superintendent of Police under Mr. May's (Acting Chief Magistrate's) occasional supervision."88
"The Assistant Magistrate, Sheriff and Marshal of the Vice Admiralty Court, having obtained six months leave of absence on the 30th May, Mr. May was appointed, as before, to act in the various positions, Mr. Grande-Pré taking over the acting Superintendentship of Police. On the 1st January, 1858, it was notified, however, that, in consequence of the Assistant Superintendentship of Police having been abolished, the Governor has appointed Mr. A. Grande-Pré to be Collector of the Police and Lighting Rates – a position, it was said, which much better fitted him."89
He died in 1865, aged forty-six years. His family seem to have retired to Macao, where his only son died some years later, the family name dying out with him.
Portugal was one of the first countries to be represented by a Consulate in Hongkong, the first Portuguese consul being appointed as early as the year 1846. He was Mr. Francisco José da Paiva, a prominent merchant of Macao, who transferred his business to Hongkong. Mr. Paiva died in 1849, and his successor in business was appointed Portuguese Consul in his place. Incidentally, Mr. Paiva's name is perpetuated in Macao by the street named after him – Travessa do Paiva, off Praia Grande, just beside Government House- and the family residences, at the top of the same street, are among the very few remaining houses of the old merchant princes of Macao's prosperous days at the beginning of the XIXth century.
Among the Portuguese listed in the Hongkong Almanack and Directory for 1849 is Mr. Eugenio L. Lança, of the Judicial and Police Establishments, doing duty in the Supreme Court. He appears to have been a son of Lieut. Francisco Xavier Lança of Macao.
Another Portuguese so listed is Mr. João B. dos Remedios, who was appointed Clerk in Charge of the Canton office of the Hongkong Postal Service when that branch office was opened in 1846.
Reference to a clerk, Mr. J. B. Rodrigues, on the staff of the Superintendency of British Trade in China transferred from Macao to Hongkong in 1842 is made by Mr. E. J. Eitel in his book Europe in China90 no mention of this name can be found in the Directory for 1849.
A survivor of the East India Company days in Macao, in the person of Mr. J. Hyndman, is named in the Directory of 1849. In Hongkong he was first employed in the office of His Majesty's Plenipotentiary and Chief Superintendent of Trade. He is listed in the Directory as acting Fourth Assistant in the Diplomatic Department. Mr. Hyndman's father, Captain Henry Hyndman, was in the service of the English East India Company, at Singapore, but resigned his commission and settled down in Macao, where he married; his sons acquiring Portuguese citizenship thereby. His failure to retain the citizenship of his grandfather (General Henry Hyndman) probably militated against Mr. João Hyndman's preferment to the higher posts in the Hongkong Government Service. Upon his retirement Mr. Hyndman withdrew to Macao where he held a number of honorary commissions of great importance. He married twice, his first wife being the sister of his office colleague Mr. Grande-Pré, and he left a large family.
A brother of Mr. J. Hyndman, Mr. Henrique Hyndman, was at one time working in Duus & Company, and later as book-keeper with the firm of Messrs. M.C. Rozario & Co., in Hongkong. He joined the China Sugar Refining Co. and was for some time in the Company's office at Swatow. Later transferred to Shanghai, he was placed in charge of a printing business which Mr. Delfino Noronha, of Hongkong, had bought in the northern port, from which he returned to Hongkong to take up employment at Mr. Noronha's Hongkong office. Some years later, Mr. Henrique Hyndman with his three daughters returned to Macao. In Macao he was engaged as a teacher in English at the Instituto Comercial of the Associação Promotora de Instrucção dos Macaenses, and later still at the Macao Government Lyceum.
Mr. Henrique Hyndman enjoyed the respect and esteem of his pupils. The love in which he was held by his former students is borne out in the following extract from an anonymous article in the Macao Tribune, on the 25th December, 1943:
"Across the street there lived a nonagenarian than whom Macao could boast of none more upright, wise and good. It is extraordinary how my whole outlook on life was so deeply influenced by this grand old man. His was a life that inspired others with devotion to duty, his was the voice that only uttered words of truth and wisdom, his was the heart that harboured no malice against anyone. Rather, to him used to come old and young when they needed advice.
"To say that Henrique Hyndman was a philosopher, a sage, a teacher, and, above all, a just man, is but to render fitting homage to the memory of one whose name, although not inscribed on a rich marble monument with an ill-suited epitaph, was certainly engraved in the hearts of those who knew him."
What a noble sentiment to inspire!
Like his brother João, Henrique had a large family. His eldest son, Henrique, also had many children. This son Henrique took a prominent part in the great fire in Hongkong, in 1878, being commended by the authorities for his work at the head of the demolition squads through whose efforts the fire prevented from spreading further than it did. Mr. Henrique Hyndman, Jr., also had a large family. One of his sons, Alberto, volunteered for service in the Great War, in 1914, and I shall have occasion to mention him later in this book. Of the daughters of Mr. Henrique Hyndman, Jr., one, Angela, married Mr. F.X. Soares, of the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, in Hongkong, and another, Branca, married Mr. P.J. Lobo, the distinguished Macao official. Another son, Luiz, is a skipper in the Portuguese mercantile marine. His other sons have found employment in Hongkong, Manila, and other places.
The Hyndmans, it might be of interest to add, are relatives of Sir William Hyndman-Jones, Chief Justice of Singapore in the early days of the present century.
Mr. Venâncio Gutierrez is mentioned in the 1849 Directory as Secretary of the Hongkong Club (British). He later acquired some wealth through his shrewd investments in landed property in Hongkong. I shall refer to him later in this book.
Mr. E. Pereira is bracketed, in the Directory, among the Committee of the Royal Asiatic Society in Hongkong (China Branch). A son of Councillor Manuel Pereira, owner of the Camoens Gardens at Macao, Mr. Eduardo Pereira was a brother-in-law[h] of Commendador Lourenço Marques, and will also come under wider notice in these pages.
Mr. Delfino Noronha, whose imprint the Hongkong Almanack and Directory of 1849 bears, has an entry all to himself in the Almanack, to the effect that the annual was "Printed and published by Mr. Delfino Noronha for the Editor and Proprietor (Mr. Tarrant)". For Mr. Noronha can be claimed the distinction of being one of the first, if not the very first, Portuguese to establish a commercial enterprise of his own in the new colony. He dared to face the rigours of the climate and the social uncertainties of young Hongkong without the assurance of a fixed salary and thus has a special claim on our attention.
Delfino Noronha was the son of Manuel José dos Remédios Noronha and his wife Ana Rita Noronha. A native of Macao, he left the Portuguese colony in the early '40's of the last century, with a small printing plant which he set up in Hongkong. The printer settler was then not yet twenty years of age. From small beginnings, he gradually built up a business of quite considerable size, employing a large staff of skilled workmen, many of them Portuguese. Like the Almadas, Mr. Noronha had many dealings with the British Government, and early found his reward when he was appointed printer to the Government of Hongkong. It was Sir Richard Graves Macdonnell, the Governor of Hongkong in 1866 to 1872, who, in expressing his appreciation of the services of Noronha & Co. (the firm name adopted by Mr. Delfino Noronha), stated that "so long as the firm should continue to give satisfaction they would remain the printers of the Government in perpetuum".
Mr. Noronha was himself an expert compositor. Until his business justified the larger staff which he came to employ in later years, and sometimes even after then, he would often set up the type himself for the more important of his publications, a practice which he dropped, however, in the last decade of his life. Nor is it generally known that in the first years his wife used to help with the inking and the working of the printing press, thereby proving herself to be a true woman pioneer who was willing to share the hardships and the work of the men who ventured forth into new fields of endeavour.
By dint of hard work and thrift, and in spite of the ravages of the climate and other handicaps of life in Hongkong's early days, Mr. Delfino Noronha brought up a large family of children and grandchildren and built up a prosperous business. Though some of his sons went to Canton, Shanghai, Manila, and Singapore, there to launch out on their own in the printing business, the Noronhas, like the Almadas, have been continuous residents of Hongkong since the Colony's earliest days. Mr. Delfino Noronha died in Hongkong on the 1st February, 1900, at the ripe age of seventy-six years.[e].
Mr. Delfino Noronha was my grandfather on my mother's side, and of him I cherish fond memories, with his gentle ways and courteous manners. He was small and slight, and was always immaculately dressed, and he was my ideal of a perfect gentleman. He was popular not only in Hongkong but he also enjoyed a wide circle of Macao friends. At his table I met many interesting figures of the day. Among these was the Filipino patriot, Jose Rizal, while on his last visit to Hongkong, not long before his arrest and murder by the Spanish in Manila. From this gentleman I received a poem in Spanish which was reproduced in the pages of Odds and Ends, a short-lived magazine which I edited and printed in my grandfather's printery. I still recall the horror and indignation which filled the Portuguese community in Hongkong when the news reached the British colony of the treacherous manner in which the beloved leader of the Filipino people had been done away with.
A whole book could be filled with the thoughts and impressions I received from the people who visited my grandfather in his later years. Among them were Church dignitaries, Ambassadors and Governors, Consuls, Colonial Secretaries and other Government officials.
During his long association with the printing business Mr. Noronha published a large number of books on a variety of subjects and in different languages. In addition to the official organ of the Government of Hongkong, the Hongkong Government Gazette, which has appeared week after week with unfailing regularity under the imprint of Noronha & Company, from the earliest issues, some of the important publications issued from Mr. Noronha's office were: A Digest and Index of all the Ordinances of Hongkong (to the close of 1849), by William Tarrant, in 1850; The Ordinances of Hongkong, 1868; The Ordinances of the Legislative Council of the Colony of Hongkong. Concise Edition, From 1844-1890, compiled by A. J. Leach, in 2 vols., 1891-1892; A Chinese Dictionary in the Cantonese Dialect, by E. J. Eitel; The Currency of the Far East from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, by J. H. Stewart Lockhart, 1895; A Chinese and English Dictionary, by W. Lobscheid, 1871; Manuel pratique de la langue chinoise, by C. Imbault-Huart, 1892; The Cities and Towns of China: A Geographical Dictionary, by G. M. H. Playfair, 1879; Mesny's Chinese Miscellany – a magazine ; The Hongkong Town Messenger – an afternoon daily newspaper, which was short lived; for many years, Government Blue Books, Departmental Reports and Sessional Papers, some of them of the greatest value; the Civil List and Street Index, both official annual publications for the Government of Hongkong, devotional works in Portuguese and English, etc. Mr. Noronha was responsible for the singularly attractive programme done in satin for the Hongkong Jockey Club, presented by the Stewards of the Club to the young lady chosen to hand out the Ladies' Purse at each annual race meeting of the Jockey Club.
There were a good few compositors and printers of Portuguese nationality in Hongkong during the Colony's early years. As a matter of fact, "the early compositors were all Portuguese, and this was case certainly up to the Seventies. Chinese compositors were not employed until comparatively late in local printing history".
This can be verified by referring to the Almanack and Directory of 1849. The staffs of compositors in newspaper offices at that time were all Portuguese:
- The Hongkong Register (newspaper):
- António Jozé Homem de Carvalho, Jr.
- Jozé F. Homem de Carvalho
- Cipriano do Rozario
- Agostinho do Rozario
- The China Mail (newspaper):
- Jozé Maria da Silva
- Francisco Cicílio Barradas
- Manuel Luiz da Roza Pereira
- Vicente Francisco Barradas
- João Braz Garson
- Athanásio Agostinho de Fonseca
- Joaquim da Silva
- The Friend of China Office (newspaper):
- Luiz de Azevedo
- António Vidigal e Roza
- Roque Vidigal e Roza
A Mr. António Fonseca was then (in 1849) the only compositor employed in Mr. Noronha's printing establishment.
The more enterprising compositors, such as the brothers Homem de Carvalho and Silva e Souza, about whom I shall have some remarks to make later in this book, tried their fortunes subsequently in Hongkong and at Shanghai with printing and stationery businesses of their own. By 1861 the number of compositors of Portuguese nationality in Hongkong had increased to thirty-three, not a small number for such a small community.
The explanation for the steady increase in the number of Portuguese compositors in Hongkong can be found in the fact that there had been a printing press at St. Joseph's College in Macao at which Portuguese lads were given training as compositors and printers. Some of the young type-setters upon completing their apprenticeship migrated to the neighbouring British colony as the demand there for men skilled in this class of work increased with the growth of the settlement.
The priests of the well-known school had adopted the idea of giving instruction in the art of printing as a means of providing the youths of Macao with a desirable profession when the older calling of the mariners' career no longer offered the rewards which could be had by them in older days. During the second and third decades of the XIXth Century increasing numbers of foreign ships had appeared in Far Eastern waters, competing for China's trade, and sharing in the trade between Macao and a number of other places. The wealthy trading concerns of Britain, the United States, and other countries had greater resources than the Portuguese, and this had the effect of reducing the number of Portuguese vessels engaged in commerce in the East. This meant fewer opportunities at sea for Portuguese youths in Macao who were seeking employment. For some of such youths the printing press at St. Joseph's College, at Macao, offered a training in a new craft which provided a remunerative living, as it proved, in Hongkong and elsewhere in China.
The young Portuguese compositors trained at that institution were the ones who staffed the printing works not only of the British and American missionaries and other foreign printing establishments at Macao, Hongkong, Canton and other places, but also the composing rooms of Hongkong's newspaper offices for several decades. But for these Portuguese compositors, the newspapers in Hongkong could not have functioned, as the expense of engaging compositors form England or elsewhere would have been prohibitive.
Other Portuguese printers besides Mr. Noronha went on from Hongkong to places farther North, as new ports were opened to trade along the China coast, and they started their own printing businesses at Canton, Swatow, Amoy, Foochow, and Shanghai. From the Portuguese as well as the missionary printeries the Chinese learned the trade of setting up the foreign style type and the art of printing by the "strange methods" of these foreigners.
When we think of the great daily newspapers and the thousands of well printed and illustrated books which pour out of the large printing establishments in the Far East at the present time, we do well to remember the debt that is owed to Macao. It was from that little Portuguese colony that the art of modern printing spread to Hongkong and to the rest of the Far East. The pioneer printers at Macao, whose names even are unknown or unremembered to-day, have not been given their proper due for the contribution they made to the advance of Western knowledge in the Orient. Their work is apt to be forgotten, though it well deserves an honoured place in the story of the spread of man's civilising influences by means of the printed word.
I have often pondered on the foresight of those priests of old Macao, who, early in the XIXth century, gave a thought to the material needs of their flock and furnished so many of them with a knowledge of the printer's art, thus enabling quite a number of Portuguese youths to earn a living in a new profession. What a fine thing it would have been if the educational authorities of Hongkong, civil as well as ecclesiastical, had been as thoughtful of those whose education had been entrusted to them! Had they but thought it their duty to look ahead and provide instruction adapted to the individual natural aptitudes of the youth of Hongkong, what a difference it might have made too many members of the Portuguese and other communities in Hongkong!
I trust that in the newer world which is coming, the needs of the young men and women of Hongkong will not continue to be disregarded, and that they will be given the necessary preparation and opportunity to enable them to fill a worthy place in the world.
[NOTE. – In the foregoing pages references have been made to some of the early members of the Portuguese community in Hongkong; others will be mentioned in the next few chapters. The particulars were prepared by my father, but he did not complete them. I have endeavoured to add to my father's observations, but am conscious of omissions in family records. I should be thankful, therefore, if those in possession of pertinent information would supply me with particulars, so that they may be included in later chapters or in any reprint of this book which it may eventually be possible to make. – JACK M. BRAGA].
Growth of the Portuguese Community in Hongkong -
The Portuguese as Interpreters
The strength of British colonial enterprise was demonstrated in the case of Hongkong in less than a decade after the founding of the settlement. There were disabilities, misunderstandings, recriminations, and criticisms, it is true, but Hongkong was taking shape as an outpost of empire. It was not long before an increasing number of British and foreign firms followed in the wake of the Superintendency of British Trade, to open up trading establishments in Hongkong. With the advent of more business houses, more Portuguese clerks moved over to the British colony. Most of the newcomers to Hongkong were employed by the same firms with which they had previously worked in Macao and Canton, but a number of them also tried their fortunes in new enterprises.
In the first decade, or so, of Hongkong's establishment, the well-to-do Portuguese merchants of Macao apparently were not attracted by the reported advantages offered in Hongkong, and so, like a number of the British and other foreign traders, they continued to carry on business at Macao, although some of them had agents in Hongkong. In several cases these Hongkong agents were British firms. As soon, however, as the young British colony showed signs of vitality and growth, they, too, began to employ their energies and their resources in the bustling new trading centre.
As the trade of Hongkong grew, that of Macao decreased. But Macao became the recruiting ground for clerks and other commercial assistants for whom Hongkong provided a livelihood which was not obtainable at Macao, as business in the Portuguese colony rapidly declined. Hongkong's early traders, British as well as foreign, were able to secure in adequate numbers all the Portuguese assistants they required, at very low salaries. The young Macaense emigrants gave of their best to their employers, and it is not surprising that the demand for their services continued all through the century which followed. Their steady application to their work and their trustworthiness earned for them the confidence of their employers, and this provided the best recommendation for more men of their class. Their excellent penmanship was another qualification.
One story is worth relating, going back to the days before the introduction of typewriters for the transcription of letters and despatches. Sir William Des Voeux, Governor of Hongkong from 1887 to 1891, used to draft despatches in his own handwriting, stenographers being yet unknown in Hongkong in those days. Sir William wrote so badly that there were times when he could not read his own handwriting! Whenever this happened, a trusted Portuguese clerk from the Colonial Secretariat had to be sent for, and he it was who reduced the Governor's seemingly illegible manuscript into folios of what looked like copper-plate "copy" for the eyes of the Secretary of State in Whitehall. Those were the days when penmanship was taught in the schools, and the records in many an old Hongkong firm testify to the excellent calligraphy of their Portuguese clerks. Penmanship as an accomplishment has become old-fashioned, apparently, to judge from the handwriting of the lads now turned out in the schools of Hongkong!
The Portuguese clerk just mentioned, whose services were so greatly appreciated by the Hongkong officials half a century ago, was Mr. José Maria Gutierrez. Mr. Gutierrez served under Dr. Frederick Stewart, who was for several years Colonial Secretary of Hongkong and by whom he was well liked. Such was the esteem in which Mr. Gutierrez was held and such the confidence reposed in him that, on two or three occasions when, in the Governor's absence for short periods, Dr. Stewart acted as Officer Administering the Government, Mr. J. M. Gutierrez was appointed Acting Colonial Secretary of Hongkong.
Nothing seems to have been written elsewhere about the conditions under which the majority of the Portuguese settlers lived during the early decades of Hongkong's history. Those conditions were far from easy. The hours of work were long, and the salaries paid to the Portuguese clerks were meagre, and it was only by dint of unremitting thrift that they were able to provide for the maintenance of their families. Fortunately, the housewives who came over from Macao to join their menfolk were capable and industrious young ladies, who plied needle and thread dexterously in making clothes for themselves, their husbands, and their children, and who with very limited means produced tasty and wholesome meals which they had learned to cook in their old homes in Macao. These women, it must be admitted, had had practically no schooling in Macao. What knowledge they possessed had been acquired in their homes, and they put that knowledge to good practical use in Hongkong.
Housing accommodation seemed always insufficient for the demands of the growing population of early Hongkong, and most of the Portuguese families had to be content with living in quarters which were close and uncomfortable to say the least. What with the periodic influxes of Chinese families from Canton, during the Taiping Rebellion, and the "Arrow" War, and on other occasions when life was insecure in China – which, by the way, contributed very greatly to the commercial life of Hongkong, for the newcomers brought their fortunes with them and set up in business in the city – the population of the British colony mounted by leaps and bounds. For the Portuguese clerks, for whom the housing problem was always a difficult one, the incursion of so many Chinese was a serious matter; it was not until very many years later, when they could stand on their own feet, that the situation improved for some of them.
In their homes, the Portuguese migrants in Hongkong must have led drab lives. There was little outside entertainment to be had after the day's work. At night the only illumination came from oil-lamps; the streets were none too safe, and the rowdy life in the town held no attraction for the home-loving Portuguese. Within their own family circles and in the company of congenial friends they spent their leisure hours, and enjoyed their simple pleasures. They had little in common with the British community, and lived very much among themselves. A hard-working and law-abiding community were the Macaense settlers who helped in the development of what has become the great port of Hongkong.
Sir John Pope Hennessy, Governor of the Colony forty years after its establishment, once discussed the Portuguese in Hongkong.
He had a high regard for the members of the Portuguese community who, in spite of their disabilities and the difficulties they had to overcome, rendered such good service in the home of their adoption. Sir John gave it as his opinion that the Portuguese servants of the British Crown "should stand on a footing of perfect equality with every class in the service of the Hongkong Government". In taking that view he said that he "had but followed the spirit of the Queen's Instructions and the high authority and example of one of the most eminent statesmen who had ever held the Seals of the Colonial Department". 91 Sir John's statement was not a hollow, meaningless declaration, for he himself is our authority for the assertion that the "clerical work of Hongkong was mainly conducted, and admirably conducted by the Portuguese." 92 Sir John's own experience and his observation of the Portuguese in Hongkong, after almost five years' residence, enabled him to make that statement. Would that the admirable principle laid down by this good, far-sighted administrator – of more generous treatment for the Portuguese – had been acted upon by his successors in office! History has proven how loyal the Portuguese of Hongkong have been, and loyalty, surely, should have its reward!
At first the services rendered by the Portuguese were mainly of a clerical nature, but as the years went by and they came more closely into contact with the British and other communities, they took an increasingly important part in every phase of the British colony's activities. And have they not occupied positions of responsibility and trust in the community life of Hongkong?
They are represented in a number of professions, serving the community as physicians, lawyers, engineers, accountants, and in other capacities. They are engaged in almost every branch of commerce, and have held seats on the directorates of a number of British public companies, in friendly collaboration with British and Chinese colleagues. They have served in His Britannic Majesty's forces in the regular army in war time, and in the Hongkong Volunteer Defence Corps, the Hongkong Police Reserve, and Air-Raid Precautions and Auxiliary Nursing Divisions. They have rallied to the call of the Government in every emergency, offering their services eagerly, and, as in duty bound, have served faithfully and enthusiastically at all times. In the less important phases of the social life of Hongkong they have not been found wanting, and their contribution has received its meed of praise. They have been, indeed, part of Hongkong.
In the pages of this book on the Portuguese in Hongkong I shall have occasion to describe in greater detail some of the services rendered by the Portuguese. It is gratifying to think that their contribution to the social amenities in Hongkong has been favourably commented upon by many, including the English press of the colony. The South China Morning Post, for instance, referring to the Portuguese on one occasion stressed the fact that "their services to the community generally have been willingly and ungrudgingly given".
From very humble beginnings the Portuguese community of Hongkong has risen to a creditable position – a position which it has attained by hard and honourable work, performed at times in the face of great difficulties. Its success has brought honour to the name of Portugal, and given pleasure to all who have at heart the interest of the Portuguese in Hongkong.
As a result of their early training and home influence, the Portuguese have been staunch friends of the Catholic clergy and helpers in Church activities, just as they have supported the charitable institutions conducted by the Catholic Missions, especially the Convents of the Canossian Sisters of Charity. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was an early creation in Hongkong. It has been supported in such large measure by the Portuguese, both by active service in the work of the Society and by contributions to the Society's funds, that it might almost be called a Portuguese society. An important phase of the work of the Society was the regular visiting, for purposes of personal investigation, of those applying for aid. It must regretfully be admitted that excessive zeal on the part of some of the visiting committee members has at times amounted almost to abuse, but such cases have been the exceptions which have properly been frowned upon by other members of the community. Relief was given to the poor, irrespective of creed or race, and to the sick and others in distress, who relied on the Society for their maintenance and for the education of their children.
In later days, recognising the need for a mutual-aid society, with objects differing somewhat from those of St. Vincent's, the Portuguese formed amongst themselves an association called the "Associação de Socorros Mútuos," about which more will be said later. Long before its establishment the Portuguese had started, in 1865, their premier social club – Club Lusitano, to which a whole chapter of this book will be devoted.
Concerts and other forms of entertainment organised for charitable purposes have not failed also to receive general support from the Portuguese in Hongkong; their contributions to the performances have invariably been appreciated. There have been a number of singers of merit among both the ladies and the men, in past times, but shyness (or was it modesty?) kept most of them from taking part in public concerts. Less shy have been our young lady singers whose names have figured in concert programmes on various occasions in recent years. At different times the Portuguese have staged dramatic and musical performances for charitable purposes, generally with the greatest success. As musicians they are known to be very proficient. The Band of the Hongkong Police Reserve Force, in the last war, for instance, was composed almost exclusively of Portuguese; and members of the Portuguese community have taken part in choirs and orchestras, and been associated with musical and other organisations providing public entertainment in Hongkong. The occasional balls and other festive gatherings, public and private, in their own club houses on the island of Hongkong and, later, at Kowloon as well, were functions marked by the greatest conviviality and open-handed hospitality. Celebrations on the occasion of national anniversaries provided the opportunity for a demonstration of friendship and goodwill. These functions were largely attended by officers (including the Governor and the highest representatives of both of His Majesty's Services and the Consular Body), members of the professions, leading merchants and other prominent citizens. At these ceremonies felicitous speeches were exchanged in an atmosphere of marked cordiality.
In sport, Portuguese participation was not material in the early years, but from the second generation onwards the Portuguese have played an increasingly prominent part in the sporting life of Hongkong. As individual performers they have done well in shooting, billiards, swimming, and rowing, and athletics in its various forms, as well as horse-racing; in the collective games of football, hockey, lawn bowls, water-polo, rowing, tennis, and cricket they have held their own. The trophy known as the Lusitano Cup, presented by members of the Club Lusitano for one of the events at the big annual horse race meeting held in the Spring by the Hongkong Jockey Club, has been keenly competed for each year. So much interest is attached to the Lusitano Cup that on one occasion, not many years ago, a superb trophy of Portuguese design was entrusted to one of the ablest craftsmen in Portugal to make and send out to Hongkong. The Portuguese silversmith's work of art was greatly admired in Hongkong, and but for the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, in 1939, other similar trophies would have been commissioned from Portugal.
I shall later revert to and treat more fully of a number of the activities of my fellow-nationals in Hongkong, but must here admit that although their individual contributions to the community efforts of the British colony have been of some value, collectively they might have achieved a greater measure of good if their efforts had been unified in singleness of purpose. Unfortunately they were not, and opportunities for improving the welfare of the community as a whole were missed on many occasions. It has regretfully to be admitted that the failure of the Portuguese to combine their material and intellectual strength for the common weal has been due principally to their inherent jealousy of one another's success, and in the case of those who have been blessed with an abundance of this world's goods to the lack of the right civic spirit in the bigger things of community life. These traits have been markedly evident all through the history of the Portuguese in Hongkong. Had these defects been remedied by proper education there are few attainments which they might not have achieved successfully.
The following remarks by Professor Aubrey Bell93 on the traits of the Portuguese people generally apply with peculiar emphasis to the Portuguese of Hongkong:
"The quick intelligence, the dreaming melancholy . . . the wit and imagination, and the power of expression in words a population hard-working, vigorous, and intelligent (modified at times by foreign influences and the blood of many races) but the real people of Portugal has never yet come into its own; although it was on the point of doing so at the beginning of the XVIth century and if it can be given a national government, and a national policy and ideals, it may yet surprise the World and if a Portuguese does not easily forget that Portugal was once the greatest empire in Europe, he considers that other nations forget it too often . . . It must always be remembered that the foreigner often views the Portuguese at his worst, in an artificial atmosphere, rarely in his natural life and surroundings. He seldom has occasion to see him in his home life nor to realise the nobility and delicacy of his dreams and ideals which are so often shattered by harsh reality, and the genuine kindliness which proves that his politeness and courtesy are not merely superficial If they are capable rather of occasional heroic actions than of securing a gradual prosperity, they are nevertheless a people peculiarly gifted, under proper guidance, to achieve what, presumably, is the end to which modern civilisation aspires – a state of peace and culture".
That is it. "Under proper guidance". And one is inclined to ask, "Will that guidance not be given?"
While the Portuguese in the British colony, lacking in proper guidance and leadership, and co-ordination of effort, missed many an opportunity for advancement as a community, Hongkong as a colony went on from strength to strength. It was during the first World War (1914-1918) and the period immediately after the conclusion of the Armistice that the prosperity of Hongkong reached its zenith. Again, in the late 1930's, with hostilities breaking out in China and the war-clouds gathering in Europe, Hongkong – and Kowloon in particular – experienced boom conditions. But the Colony suffered not a few setbacks from time to time. There were the crises of the early years, during one of which the great Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation narrowly missed going under; but from each financial set-back Hongkong emerged stronger than ever before. After the first Great War, the big shipping strike of 1922 caused serious losses in Hongkong, while the general strike of 1925 was a disaster from which the Colony took a long time to recover. During the period of 1919 to 1925, the Portuguese, to their sorrow, were drawn into the vortex of the severe speculation that raged in the Colony, and many burned their fingers badly. The community as a whole lost heavily. Many were the lessons that the Portuguese learnt during the one hundred years of Hongkong's existence!
The severest trial of the Portuguese in Hongkong came when they were overtaken by the cataclysm of the 8th December, 1941. The Portuguese community, in common with their fellow residents of Hongkong, were overwhelmed. Numerous deaths and many heart-rending experiences, the breaking up of quiet, happy homes through the enforced separation of parents, children and friends, not to speak of the enormous material losses incurred when people, of comfortable means, were reduced to utter destitution in a matter of hours, were the lot of the Portuguese, amongst countless others, in Hongkong. For the first time in its history, Hongkong tasted the horrors of war, with all its awful aftermath. Their sad plight moved the Governor of Macao to render aid and succour to his helpless and distressed nationals. Thus it came about that in Macao, the land of their forefathers, their sorrows and anxieties have been partially assuaged, and they are given practical assistance and a shelter where they may perhaps forget, if they will, the bitter experiences that they, in common with so many other victims of this War, have suffered. A benign Providence, in whom the faith of the Portuguese community rests, will ensure that they will emerge with fresh courage and hope undimmed from the dark times through which they have passed.
The bitter trials and tribulations of the past few years have provided the crucial test for the peoples of the world. The Portuguese of Hongkong have not escaped the anguish of so severe a test. But Providence may yet cast the Portuguese character in a new mould – "Under proper guidance" – from which a community invigorated and purged from the dross of egotism will arise, imbued, let us hope, with a strong sense of their communal duties and obligations, thus to fulfil their destiny in a new and better world: the attainment under Divine guidance of their greater well-being. A.M.D.G.![f]
A compilation from the earliest Hongkong directories available, viz., for 1849 and 1861, gives some idea of the Portuguese employed in Hongkong Government offices and mercantile establishments in those days, with a few others doing business on their own account. Some of the men listed are the grandfathers and great-grandfathers of many of the present generation of Hongkong Portuguese.94 I give, first, the names of those Portuguese who started on their own account, compiled from the Hongkong Almanack and Directory for 1849:–95
|Victoria Dispensary||J. J. Roza Braga (Managing Proprietor)|
|Medical Hall||José L. Pereira (Managing Proprietor)|
|C. Markwick||(Government and General Appraiser)|
|António Luiz d'Encarnação||(Auctioneer)|
|Albano António Cordeiro||(Teacher of Music and Piano tuner)|
Portuguese employed in commercial establishments are listed below:
|Blenkin, Rawson & Co||F. F. Marques|
|Dent & Co. (a partner of which was Mr. Eduardo Pereira)||Joaquim V. Caldas|
|J. d'Almeida Pereira|
|Fletcher & Co||António M. Cortella|
|Gibb, Livingston & Co||António Gonsalves|
|J. Skinner||Cândido J. Osório|
|Jardine, Matheson & Co||J. A. Barretto|
|José M. do Outeiro|
|Floriano A. Rangel|
|Lindsay & Co||A. Barradas|
|B. dos Remédios|
|Macvicar & Co||J.P. Campos|
|Turner & Co||Manuel V. Marques|
|Camajee, Pochajee & Co||J. M. Monteiro|
|Bush & Co||R. Rangel|
|M. de Sousa|
|A. de Sousa|
|N. Duus & Co||A. Lubeck|
|Oriental Bank||José de Noronha|
|Hongkong Dispensary||Jesuíno da Rosa|
|Florencio de Sousa|
|Norcott D'Esterre Parker||A. Gutierres|
|F. A. dos Remédios|
|W. Gaskell||M. Telles|
|C. Markwick||Joaquim Vítor de Jesus|
|G. Duddell||Rufino Gutierres|
|A. L. d'Encarnação||Manuel Francisco Barradas|
|Smith & Brimelow||Lauriano F. Vieira Ribeiro|
|R. Rutherford||João Câncio Vieira Ribeiro|
|J. Inness||Francisco de Sá|
Similarly, separate lists are made out, as above, from the China Directory for the year 1861:
|Medical Hall Dispensary (J. J. Braga, Proprietor)||João L. Britto|
|F. da Rosa|
|Queen's Road Dispensary (A. de Sousa, proprietor)||D. Danenberg|
|Roberto Duarte Silva (chemist)||Inácio Quadros|
|A.L. Agabeg, Jr||G. L. Agabeg|
|J. J. dos Remédios (Ship-owner)||A.G. Romano|
|A. A. dos Remédios|
|J. A. dos Remédios|
|E. O. dos Remédios|
|I. M. Cruz (Proprietor and manager)|
|Querino Gutierrez||R. Ribeiro|
|Delfino Noronha (Printer)||J. J. da Silva e Sousa|
|H. C. Pereira|
|J. M. da Silva. (Proprietor and manager)|
|C.J. and V.E. Braga (Chemists)||F. Braga|
|Hongkong Soda Water Co. (J.P. da Costa and D. A. D'Eça, proprietors)||F. Neves|
|P.P. Rosário (Proprietor and manager)|
|F. P. Soares & Co. (General Merchants)|
Among the Portuguese in Hongkong Government employ, according to the Directory for 1861, were the following:
|Colonial Secretariat||L. d'Almada e Castro|
|J.M. d'Almada e Castro|
|D. Pio Marques|
|Colonial Treasury||J. A. Carvalho|
|Auditor-General||J.M.A. da Silva|
|A. F. Alves|
|Police and Lighting Rates||Alexandre Grand-Pré|
|Ciríaco de Sousa|
|Supreme Court||Rafael do Rosário|
|L. J. Fernandes|
|Post Office.||D. J. Barradas|
|I. P. Pereira (Agent in Macao)|
|Medical Service||F. Noronha|
|Miss M. Noronha|
|Magistracy||R. A. do Rozario|
|Naval Dockyard||J. da Cunha|
|British W.I. Emigration Agency||Luiz Barreto|
|Royal Engineers||L.F. Carvalho|
|Military Stores||F.C. Silveira|
|Military Medical Department||V. Maher (Staff Asst. Surgeon)|
|F. Fernandes (Apothecary)|
Among the Portuguese employed in British and other commercial establishments (not being Portuguese firms) in Hongkong, at the time, were:
|James A. Brooks||J. do Rosário|
|Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London & China||D. A. da Silva|
|P. M. Carvalho|
|M. A. da Silva|
|Commercial Bank of India||G. A. da Gama|
|Oriental Bank Corporation||Joze Noronha|
|José G. Brandão|
|Hongkong Club||L. Graça|
|Edward H. Pollard||Florentino dos Remédios|
|S. C. Fox.||R.F. Gutierrez|
|Birley & Co||A.B. da Rosa|
|M. da Rosa|
|John Burd & Co||M. de Sousa|
|Bull, Purdon & Co||António dos Santos|
|N. Duus & Co.||H. Hyndman|
|Dent & Co||C.J. Osório|
|Francisco A. Gomes|
|Augusto J. Gomes|
|Simão da Rosa|
|Silvano dos Remédios|
|Ellissen & Co||F.V. Ribeiro|
|E. J. Rosário|
|Fletcher & Co||H.A. Leiria|
|J. C. dos Remédios|
|J. P. Xavier|
|Gibb, Livingston & Co||L. J. da Silva|
|A. F. dos Remédios|
|Gifford & Co||L. J. Gutierrez|
|Gilman & Co||J. da Costa|
|T. da Silva|
|Heard & Co||F.A. Seabra|
|H. C. V. Figueiredo|
|L. F. Vandenburg|
|Charles Jameson||N. Campos|
|Jardine, Matheson & Co||J. A. Barretto|
|José F. da Costa|
|José Maria d'Outeiro|
|A. F. Vandenburg|
|Johnson & Co.||F. A. Marçal|
|Royal Engineers||L. F. Carvalho|
|Lyall, Still & Co||C. A. Osório, Jr.|
|L. A. Rosário|
|M. A. de Sousa|
|L. A. d'Encarnação|
|Lindsay & Co||A. Barradas|
|J. L. Pereira|
|G. dos Remédios|
|F. dos Remédios|
|D. W. Mackenzie & Co.||N.T. da Costa|
|Olyphant & Co||J. F. d'Oliveira|
|Oxford & Co.||A. do Rosário|
|Russell & Co||Q. A. Gutierres|
|E. A. Encarnação|
|Sassoon, Sons & Co||M.J. d'Aquino|
|Eduard Schellhass & Co.||G. da Silva|
|Smith, Kennedy & Co||H. Marçal|
|Stephenson & Co. (Mr. M.C. do Rosário was a partner)||C. Marques|
|Turner & Co||M. A. Carvalho|
|Vaucher Freres||C. T. Gonsalves|
|Wetmore, Cryder & Co.||M. Simoens|
|A. de Barros|
|J. de Simoens|
|Walker, Borradaile & Co||L. C. da Silva|
|China Mail Office||Francisco D. Barradas|
|Miguel B. do Rosário|
|Alexandre Marçal, Jr.|
|Albino T. F. Gordo|
|Dorindo T. Rosário|
|Januário do Rosário|
|Adelino V. Ribeiro|
|António A. Pereira|
|Daily Press Office||António J. da Silva e Sousa|
|Hongkong Register Office||M.L. Rosa Pereira|
|João A. da Luz|
|Eduardo S. Ferreira|
|Ângelo A. da Silva, Jr.|
|J. C. Cowper.||Januário da Luz|
|Harper & Co||J.G. de Jesus|
|A.F. de Jesus|
|Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co||V. Gutierres|
|J. de Brito|
|Lane, Crawford & Co||Francisco de Sá|
|F. Louis Juvet||W. Silveira|
|Douglas Lapraik||H. A. do Rosário|
Some of the firms named above call for special mention.
One of the most noteworthy is the great American firm of Messrs. Russell & Company, a very prominent commercial establishment in the Far East, also well known in Boston and New York, with its fine fleet of Clipper ships, trading in tea and other Far Eastern produce. The senior partner of the firm at that time was Mr. Warren Delano, a relative of Mr. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the present President of the United States of America. For a long time did Russell & Co's. house-flag appear in China waters, from the early part of the XIXth century, when the firm had an office at Macao, till it was superseded by Messrs. Shewan, Tomes & Company later in the same century. Messrs. Russell & Co. employed Portuguese assistants in Macao, and in 1816, out of the seven employees serving under Mr. Delano in Hongkong, three were Portuguese. Never has Portuguese association with Russell & Co., or their successors in business, Shewan, Tomes & Co., been disrupted. To this day Portuguese continue in the service of the latter firm.
The Portuguese were also long associated with Messrs. Dent & Company. In the days before the closure of the English East India Company, Dent & Company had established commercial connections at Macao, where their agent was Mr. Manuel Pereira, owner of the Gardens of Camoens. When the East India Company left the Far East, Dent & Co. who were still doing a thriving business moved into the large premises which still stand in these gardens, but gave them up when the firm was permitted to purchase property of its own in Macao. The Gardens of Camoens were then taken over by Mr. Lourenço Marques from his father-in-law, Mr. Manuel Pereira. Among the properties purchased by Dent & Co. was the fine estate known as "Santa Sancha", now the residence of the Governor of Macao. "Santa Sancha" had been the country home of Baron Cercal, grand-father of the well-known Macao merchant, Mr. A. A. de Mello. It is interesting to recall that, when other firms, including Portuguese houses, had lost interest in Macao as a trading centre, and gone over to Hongkong, Dent & Co. remained behind and continued to carry on a considerable tea and silk trade from the Portuguese colony. Among the partners of Messrs. Dent & Company was Mr. Eduardo Pereira, son of the veteran Councillor Manuel Pereira of Macao. Mr. Eduardo Pereira held a prominent position in the Portuguese community of Hongkong by virtue of his association with the important firm of Dent & Co. He was one of the founder members of the Hongkong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and a member of the Committee as well, a distinction which I believe he has been the only Portuguese to hold. Mr. Pereira was of a retiring disposition and took little interest in the affairs of his fellow-nationals. This was a pity since he might have done much for the Portuguese in Hongkong.
The name of Jardine, Matheson & Co. also revives recollections of an old friendship with the Portuguese. The firm, which has been in existence for more than a century, succeeded the earlier Magniac and Company, of which firm Dr. William Jardine and Mr. James Matheson were partners. Successive heads of "Jardine's" have had occasion to praise the loyalty of their Portuguese employees, and Mr. James Matheson himself, as we have seen in an earlier chapter, felt moved to offer a token to the Macao Government for the help he received from the Portuguese. It is gratifying to record that Portuguese assistants have been employed by Jardine, Matheson & Co. – one of the most enterprising of Hongkong's big commercial "hongs" – from its earliest days, not only in Macao and Hongkong but also in its branch offices in the Far East. The Company has always been closely connected with shipping, its ships as well as those of the firm's associated companies, being well known in the principal trading ports of the East. In the old days Portuguese were also employed in the junior posts on board "Jardine" ships.
Another very old Hongkong firm is Messrs. Gibb, Livingston & Company. This concern has also been closely identified with the development of Hongkong's mercantile activities and like nearly every firm in Hongkong has found how useful are the services of their Portuguese assistants. This Company's ships figured prominently in the China trade for many years.
Reference to the old Banks in Hongkong shows how enterprising the British colonists were – Macao did not have its Portuguese bank until the year 1900! The banking establishments of Hongkong have all employed Portuguese clerks. Of the banks named in the list of early Hongkong business concerns, the Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London and China, has been absorbed by the Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China, but the other two banks mentioned did not survive the financial crises of 1866. The Oriental Bank Corporation took a prominent part in the early financial organisation of Hongkong and was well known in business circles all over the Far East. Just before this bank's closure, the better known Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation was established in 1865, and survives as one of the greatest financial institutions in this part of the world.
Olyphant & Co. is a name not remembered to-day, but it was a firm with a fine reputation in the old Canton and Macao days. This concern, which was closely identified with the tea trade, was one of the very few businesses which steadfastly refused to have anything to do with the opium trade. The Olyphants were ardent supporters of missionary work in Macao and South China, and their names recur frequently in the early records of the missionary societies when acknowledgment is made for the accommodation given to missionaries seeking passage in their ships.
The mention of the Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Company also recalls an old link with the past. Hongkong was, and still is, an important port of call of "P. & O". ships, and for a long time the Company's vessels provided the principal link between Europe and the Far East. Besides the clerical staff, the P. & O. Company had several Portuguese in the employ of their harbour department. The names of these do not appear in the Directory.
The firm of Lane, Crawford & Company is another of Hongkong's earliest concerns. The Company flourished in the shipping trade, with a stevedoring department figuring prominently in Hongkong's directories for many years, and like most of the other British business establishments in the Colony "Lane, Crawford's" have employed Portuguese assistants continuously.
Of the early Portuguese firms in Hongkong I shall have more to say, but it is interesting to observe here that for the first few decades of Hongkong's existence the principal chemists in the British colony were Portuguese. I regret that my fellow-nationals of succeeding generations did not follow in the footsteps of their ancestors in the chemists' calling. As it is, the Portuguese can regard with a certain pride the fact that they, for a number of years at the beginning, maintained nearly all the pharmacies of Hongkong.
In their old home in Macao, the Portuguese had made a good living from the sea, deriving their wealth from overseas trade. In the home of their adoption, Hongkong, they assisted others in building up and maintaining an immense sea-borne commerce. Had the Portuguese at Macao not forgotten that their "destiny is on the sea," and had they not frittered away their substance, they might have retained at Macao much of the former importance of their Portuguese settlement as an entrepot of trade, and provided employment for many Macaenses in commercial pursuits. But this was not to be, and with the passing of the years, it was to the neighbouring British colony that most of the sons of Macao looked for a living.
If the Portuguese pioneer settlers in Hongkong had recalled the lessons of the past they might have repeated the success of their fore-fathers. The changing nature of trade and the greatly increased cost of ships created new problems, it is true, but the difficulties of the newer age could have been overcome had the Portuguese been willing to club together in joint stock enterprises. Unfortunately, however, the peculiar jealousy they harboured of one another's success proved to be an impediment to any attempt at Portuguese collective enterprises. The children of those who did succeed seldom inherited the thrifty and business-like traits of their fathers, and great fortunes were lost by the second or third generation.
Of the early Portuguese settlers in Hongkong, there was one at least who did very well in business. He was Mr. J. J. dos Remedios, who took with him a fortune from Macao and continued to prosper in Hongkong. He was an enterprising man and among his ventures was a shipping service. Among the ships owned by him I remember hearing my grandfather speak of the "Maria". It is said that at the time of his death his estate exceeded a million dollars – a vast fortune for that time.
Another Portuguese shipping man was Mr. Marcos do Rosário, about whom I shall have something to say in a later chapter. He was a partner of Messrs. Stephenson & Co., having business dealings with Australian ports, and did well. Like Mr. J. J. Remedios he left a large estate at his death.
One looks in vain, in the old Hongkong Directories, for the names of the Portuguese merchants who flourished at Macao earlier in the century – the Veigas, the Barretos, the Cortelas, the Andrades, the Paivas, the Marqueses, the Almeidas. Most of them had wound up their businesses and returned to Portugal. They were replaced by a new generation – the Mellos, the Jorges, the Fernandeses, the Gomeses – who prospered in a new generation.
I must not overlook the name of Mr. Roberto Duarte Silva, a Portuguese chemist who moved over to Hongkong from Macao in 1859 seeking wider scope for his professional activities. He made the acquaintance of officers of the French Expeditionary Force, quartered in Hongkong during the "Arrow" war, and at the suggestion of his French friends, Silva accompanied them to Paris at the conclusion of the Sino-French hostilities. In Paris he distinguished himself to such an extent that he was elected President of the Society of Chemists of Paris, the highest honour French chemists could confer upon a foreigner. Mr. Silva died in Paris.
No account of the Portuguese in Hongkong can ignore one of the most important of the early services rendered by the Portuguese to the British at Hongkong, and in many other places in the Orient also – that of language interpretation between the new colonists and the natives of the place. This service is seldom, if ever, mentioned in books dealing with the early history of the colonies of the East; it is nevertheless one which was of the very greatest importance.
During the early period of Hongkong's settlement, the British officials and merchants had not yet begun to learn Chinese, nor did the Chinese merchants know sufficient English to express themselves intelligibly in the strange Western tongue. There was a "pidgin" English, it is true, but this was not satisfactory for the transmission of ideas on anything but minor social relations and petty trading. Later, Chinese residents of Hongkong applied themselves to the study of English and some of them, when they had acquired a smattering of the language, earned a living by teaching what they knew to their fellow-countrymen in Hongkong; but it was many years before it was really possible for Britons and Chinese to converse together direct without the help of an interpreter. It was during those early years, in business establishments and Government offices, that the Portuguese interpreters proved to be so valuable to the British community of Hongkong.
I have referred previously to the work of the priests of the Royal College of St. Joseph, at Macao, in the teaching of languages to the young Portuguese who became interpreters to the British authorities. In this connection the name of Father Joaquim Afonso Gonsalves, a Lazarist priest from Portugal, deserves special mention.
Father Gonsalves dedicated himself to the study of Chinese and soon mastered the intricacies of the language, making a name for himself later as a sinologue. He compiled Chinese-Portuguese dictionaries and other books on the study of Chinese, which were printed and published at the printing press of the College, and were used by him for teaching Chinese to his students.
Among his pupils were Mr. João Rodrigues Gonçalves, Mr. José Martinho Marques, Mons. Jean Marie Callery, and several others. Mr. Gonçalves was the official interpreter and translator for the Macao Government for many years, and Mr. Marques was also employed by the Portuguese authorities in the same capacity. After the death of Mr. James R. Morrison the Hongkong Government experienced difficulty in obtaining a suitable interpreter to replace him, whereupon Mr. Marques, by invitation from the British authorities was appointed on the 1st March, 1847, "Interpreter to the Hongkong Government and Interpreter and Translator to the Supreme Court at Hongkong". The remuneration was so low, however, that Mr. Marques returned to Macao not long afterwards and continued in the service of the Macao Government till his death.
One of the Portuguese interpreters whose work has merited the attention of historians is Mr. Rafael do Rosário, who is referred to by Mr. Norton Kyshe in the following terms:96
"An old interpreter of Chinese in the Supreme Court in the person of Mr. Rafael Aconjo do Rosário died on the 26th March (1881), at the age of fifty-six. Mr. Rosário joined the service during the troublous times when want of correct interpretation in the Courts formed the focus of most dissensions then prevalent. He was appointed Interpreter to the Police Court in 1857, and subsequently gave very valuable service as Interpreter to the British Expeditionary Force to Canton during the war with China and received a medal and clasp in recognition of his merits. He was always active in the discharge of his duties, and frequently aided in the capture of pirates. In June, 1862, he was appointed an Interpreter in the Supreme Court; he spoke several Chinese dialects; and, although his interpretation at times was questioned he, nevertheless, proved a valuable acquisition to the Court at a time especially when no really trustworthy interpreter was to be had in Hongkong for 'love or money' and especially so after the dismissal of Mr. Caldwell, who not only considered himself as the most valuable and 'irreplaceable' of the public servants of the time but was actually looked upon as such by the Government."
Mr. Rosário was not, let it be noted, a Chinese scholar; he had not studied the language and his knowledge of Chinese came from a natural aptitude for languages. There were many like him among the early Portuguese settlers in Hongkong, and it is very likely that most of the clerks in the employ of British firms did a great deal of interpretation as well as the ordinary clerical work for which they had been engaged. They were thus of two-fold use to their employers. Had there been sufficient inducement, by way of satisfactory remuneration for a knowledge of the Chinese language, it is safe to assume that many of the Portuguese would have applied themselves to a study of the language instead of being content with a common-place smattering of colloquial Cantonese. It is much to be regretted that no encouragement was given to the Portuguese in this matter. The Government was equally at fault. If more generous rewards of office had been offered to the Portuguese interpreters – a more liberal scale of salaries and better service conditions – it is likely that others among the young Portuguese would have devoted themselves to the mastery of languages, so as to qualify for official posts as interpreters. The Portuguese might thus have rendered even better service in this connection to the community of Hongkong than they did. Many of the Portuguese have a natural aptitude for languages which would have served them in good stead. Penalized as they were by differential treatment, which did not improve with the passing years despite official declarations to the contrary, the Portuguese worked on patiently, reaping little for their years of long service with the Government.
The influence of the services rendered by the Portuguese as interpreters lingers on in many an Asiatic tongue, and although the Portuguese language had lost most of its importance in Far Eastern trade by the time Hongkong was established, it is interesting to observe the manner in which the Portuguese interpreters, in contact with the British, introduced words into the English language as well. I make no claim to a knowledge of philology, but feel that I should mention how, partly as a result of the work of Portuguese interpreters, first at Macao and later in Hongkong, many Portuguese and other words used by them have become adsorbed into the English language, while several Portuguese terms are in wide use by English-speaking people throughout the Far East. My task has been made all the easier by information derived from a talk on the subject by Mr. Jack M. Braga, which was broadcast from the Macao Radio Club.97 We learn that:
The influence of European words on Asiatic tongues and dialects has engaged the attention of a number of scholars, prominent among whom are Sir Henry Yule and Mr. A. C. Burnell, who produced the authoritative Hobson-Jobson, and Monseigneur Sebastião Rodolfo Dalgado, who compiled Glossário Luso-Asiático, while Mr. David Lopes, studying Portuguese influences, wrote the book A Expansão da Lingua Portuguesa no Oriente.
"It would be interesting," the speaker said, "to trace the course of words introduced by the Portuguese from Macao. This little colony, as is generally known, has – or rather had – a colloquial all its own, compounded out of the successive Portuguese contacts with widely-dispersed races over the world. Modern teaching has definitely discouraged, and even condemned, the old patois, but this patois has left an unmistakable impress on other tongues.
"A profound philological study of Hongkong's language and business terminology would show, for instance, that Macao's contribution has been quite an interesting, if not a sufficient, one. It would repay investigation to trace many of the words used by those men from Macao a hundred years ago.
"Some of the terms used by those early interpreters in Hongkong were already in use in Macao before the establishment of the British colony, and can still be seen in old records and documents. Not few of the old words employed have dropped out of use in Hongkong. But many are still retained. Some of these are peculiar to Hongkong only, but quite a number have found their way into the English dictionary and are to-day in common use, while a few have even become completely Anglicized. Not many people ever give any thought to discover their origin.
"A number were taken direct from the Portuguese language; others had been adopted by the old Portuguese pioneers from native languages, in various parts of the world, given a Portuguese form, and then passed on."
It is worthy of note that most of the words which survive today are closely connected with trade. Referring to currency and money, for example, the Portuguese employed their own terms to describe Chinese and other Asiatic weights and measures, and these are still used in English, to wit, picul, catty, tael, mace, and candareen. They are distinctly not of Chinese origin, and they were first used by the Portuguese in their own trade and finally found their way into the English language. On the other hand, sycee and cash were corrupted by the Portuguese from a Chinese and an East-Indian word, respectively, and thus came into common use. Of words commonly used in Hongkong, praia or praya is unadulterated Portuguese, while bazaar and compound were introduced by the Portuguese from India, and savee, maskee, and cumsha, to name only a few, were adopted into pidgin-English at Macao, and used certainly by the Portuguese interpreters at Macao, in the early days of the English East India Company's China trade.
Other words employed in Hongkong's business parlance include such terms as compradore, a pure Portuguese word, and linguist, shroff, factory, and factor, used by the Portuguese traders in Asia three hundred years before Hongkong entered anybody's mind. The origin of amah, coolie, and lascar is not difficult to discover; the words were picked up by the Portuguese long ago in various places in the East and travelled farther Eastward. Chop and chit are English variations of Chinese words and were first popularised by the Portuguese with a slightly different spelling.
In another sphere, mandarin is Portuguese in form; pagoda, caste, bonze, and fetish are Anglicized forms of words which had been employed by the Portuguese for a very long time, while joss, first used in pidgin-English, is also derived from a Portuguese word.
The use of sampan, junk, pirate, typhoon, and monsoon can also be traced to the Portuguese, who derived them a great many years ago from Asiatic tongues in slightly different form; from the Portuguese these words passed into the English language. The advent of steamships and the passing of the sailing ship are responsible for the dropping of many Portuguese words from the vocabulary of the British in the Far East, of which lorcha and sea-cunny are typical of quite a few.
Articles of household use the names of which came into the English language through the Portuguese are porcelain, parasol, palanquin, cuspidor, kimono, calico, tafeta, and nankeen; tank had its origin with the Portuguese in India; verandah also came from India through the Portuguese language.
Other examples of terms employed for articles of commerce, of Portuguese origin, or which were first introduced by the Portuguese, are bamboo, banana, mango, mangosteen, plantain, saffron, sago, camphor, sandalwood, lac, teak, beche-de-mer, cocoa, coconut, agar-agar, arrack, copra, and ginseng, to name a few, while terms like cholera, beri-beri, malaria, though not of Portuguese origin, were used by the Portuguese and later employed in other European languages. The names in English of some animals and insects, like mongoose, alligator, garoupa, cobra, and mosquito, also owe their origin to Portuguese use.
It is not to be wondered at that the Portuguese gave hundreds of names to places all over the world, and though very many of these place-names have been replaced by others of later origin in modern atlases, quite a number have survived unaltered or but slightly changed from their original form. A limited number of these old names might have been used before by earlier travellers, like Marco Polo, but it can be claimed for the Portuguese that they familiarised these names. There are, nevertheless, many places that still bear the old Portuguese original names. In this last class we find Formosa (The Beautiful), the Ladrones (The Pirate Lairs), Pratas (The Silver Reefs), Pedra Branca (White Rock), the Moluccas (The Islands of the Kings), Flores (The Flowery Isles), and Bocca Tigris (The Tiger's Mouth – from the Chinese original), to mention a few of the places with which South China residents are familiar.
The Portuguese also gave names adapted from native words to many other places in Asia, a good number of which survive at the present time in the form which the old Portuguese gave to them. Examples of these are Canton, Korea, Japan, Borneo, Cochin-china, Singapore (Portuguese: Singapura), Burma, Malacca, Johore, Sumatra, Sunda, Celebes, Colombo, Bengal, and Bombay.
The name Canton, it is probably not well known, arose from a mistake. The term is really a corruption by the Portuguese pioneers of a Chinese name; they gave to the city of Canton the name of the province of Kwangtung in place of the name by which the Chinese call the city (Kwong Chow), and the mistakes remains unaltered to the present day. Numbers of other similar mistakes have been perpetuated in modern atlases.
Some of the names given by the old Portuguese remained in use for many years and have been changed only in recent times. For instance, Siam has been dropped for Thailand. The Japanese have adopted the name Taiwan (the original Chinese name) in place of Formosa, so pleasing to the ear and much the more suitable name. The very mention of "Formosa" evokes visions of the beautiful island: the wild grandeur of the rock-bound eastern coast, with range upon range of dark-green mountains towering beyond; the gently-rising west coast, with verdure clad hills merging into the mountainous interior Not all changes make for improvement!
Portugal's impress on the Chinese language, too, has not been unimportant, and has formed the subject of study by Chinese scholars, the fruits of whose researches have yet to be revealed to foreign readers.
The Portuguese language as the lingua franca of the Orient served for well-nigh three hundred years those who came to the East seeking trade; but it was eventually displaced. The English language, with all its vigour, usefulness, adaptability, yes, and beauty, too, has come to be the medium whereby millions of the peoples of Eastern lands are able to communicate with one another. Many of the Portuguese in Hongkong and in other places in the Far East have been enabled by a knowledge of English to make a fair living, while some have attained a certain degree of proficiency in the language. Had the standard of English taught in the Hongkong schools been higher than it was, it is just possible that the Portuguese community of Hongkong might have contributed to some extent – who knows? – to English letters in the Far East!
Catholic Churches and Schools in Hongkong
Among the forces which influence the lives of men one of the strongest is that of religion. Let me therefore devote a chapter to the religious activities of my compatriots in Hongkong, where complete toleration of creeds and customs has been such a marked feature of British rule.
The Portuguese have clung in simple faith to the religion of their forefathers, and the effect of the teaching of the Catholic Church may be traced in the very fabric of their lives – in the formation of their character, in their mental outlook, and in their mode of living. None are to be found more zealous in the Christian faith than the Portuguese, and wherever they have gone, the Catholic Church has set its roots and flourished.
Born and bred as the Portuguese pioneers of Hongkong had been in the intensely Catholic atmosphere of Macao, it was to be expected that the mental attitude and ethical traditions of their children and grandchildren should have been Catholic and that they should have accepted and maintained the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church. Further, it can confidently be affirmed that no Catholic cause in Hongkong has failed to win prompt and willing support from the Portuguese community.
It is well, therefore, to trace the origin and growth of the Catholic Church in Hongkong, its influence on the Portuguese there, and the support which the Portuguese gave to the priests who were entrusted with the task of establishing the Church in Hongkong.
An article in the well-known Catholic journal, The Rock, 98 relates that "in the year 1839 a certain Mr. Board, a Catholic, sent from Hongkong an appeal for Catholic priests to the Procurator of Propaganda then resident at Macao.99 He told the Procurator, Mgr. Theodore Joset, of the sad plight of the Catholic (Irish) soldiers, owing to the fever which was raging among the troops. Four or five Catholics were dying daily without spiritual ministrations as there was no priest in the new settlement. " There was a shortage of priests in the Macao Diocese at the time, and as Hongkong formed part of the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Macao, the inability of the Portuguese Missions to send priests to Hongkong provided Mgr. José with the opportunity he required. "On April 22nd, 1841, Propaganda issued a decree removing Hongkong from the jurisdiction of Macao ... commending all spiritual care and administration of the said Island and the neighbouring country to the extent of six leagues to the Rev. Procurator of the Sacred Congregation resident at Macao ... with faculty of sending there such missionaries as he will judge convenient." The article mentioned goes on to state that Mgr. Joset kept the decree secret and again approached the Portuguese ecclesiastical authorities at Macao asking them to send priests to Hongkong, and that when the Portuguese Mission could not comply with the request, the Italian priest thereupon "published the decree by which Hongkong came under the immediate jurisdiction of Propaganda and by which he, as its first Prefect Apostolic, was empowered to make provision for the spiritual needs of the new colony."
Mgr. Joset left Macao and reached Hongkong on the 3rd March, 1842. He chose a spot for his church and received a grant of land from the Government of the new colony upon which he "erected a structure of matsheds for Catholic service. But even on the first day on which it was opened this structure was insufficient for the congregation, consisting of soldiers and others (especially Portuguese) who had already begun to settle in the new colony."
The first Mass in Hongkong was celebrated on the 26th February, 1842, in a matshed, the officiating priest being Father Michael Novarro. Four months later the first Catholic church building of any pretensions, a brick structure erected by Mgr. Joset, began to be built.
The article above mentioned goes on to state that the church in brick cost about $7,000, of which sum $4,000 was subscribed by the Portuguese and English-speaking residents of Hongkong, Mr. Antonio Freitas, a Portuguese, contributing $500 towards the building fund, with a later donation of $800. The church was situated off Wellington Street in the lower part of the town, in the midst of the homes of the Portuguese community at the time, and remained in use for fourteen years.
With the withdrawal of the greater part of the garrison from Hongkong, when the need for troops for the China campaign was over, the growing Portuguese community formed a ready-made congregation for the Catholic Mission. For many years they were the mainstay of the Church in Hongkong. Thus was established a connection between the Portuguese residents and the Catholic Mission, an affiliation which has been as advantageous to the Portuguese as it has been beneficial to the Catholic clergy of Hongkong.
The growing needs of the Catholic community in Hongkong led to the construction, in 1856, of a larger church building on the site at Wellington Street. It was Father Ambrozi, Prefect Apostolic, who was mainly instrumental in getting this done. The new church and the adjoining mission house were, unfortunately, destroyed in a fire which broke out in that part of the town on the 19th October, 1859. A subscription for replacement of the destroyed Church buildings met with a very ready response, the Portuguese who formed the major part of the Catholic community contributing liberally. A fine new church was built, but a quarter of a century later this edifice, too, was found to be much too small, for
"it had become surrounded by buildings which left no room for the expansion necessitated by the growth of the Catholic population, which had trebled since the year in which the first Cathedral building was built. Bishop Raimondi realised, therefore, that the time had arrived for him to seek a more extensive building area, and he was fortunate in being able to acquire the splendid site of the present Cathedral in Glenealy. This new Cathedral cost $120,000, a very considerable sum, even for a building of this type, in those days. This sum was met by proceeds of the sale of the old lot in Wellington Street and by subscriptions collected in Hongkong and North and South America by Bishop Raimondi and Fr. Borgazzi. The names of the principal Hongkong donors are inscribed on marble tablets set in the great granite columns of the interior. The building was designed by Mr. Crowley [Crawley & Co.], but his plans were somewhat modified by Father Vigano. The building was solemnly dedicated on the 7th December, 1888."100
Dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, the Cathedral is an example of continental Gothic, with a tower at the intersection of the cruciform structure. The principal features of the interior are the beautiful altars. That of the Immaculate Conception is of Italian marble, the statue over it being presented by Mr. and Mrs. J. M. E. Machado. The altar dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, also of Italian marble, was presented by my father, Mr. V.E. Braga, and his brothers. A third altar, dedicated to St. Joseph, was a gift from King Victor Emmanuel II, grandfather of the present King of Italy. The memory of St. Francis Xavier, the great pioneer missionary of the Far East, is commemorated in a small altar of Italian workmanship. The Bishop's throne is also from Italy, the work being Venetian. The organ, though small, is a fine instrument of Italian make; it was presented to the Cathedral by the Portuguese community of Hongkong. The pictures representing the Stations of the Cross were painted at an atelier in Rome. The marble tiling of the floor was the gift of Mr. A. M. L. Soares and Mr. Choa Po-sien. The names of donors to the building fund are inscribed in marble slabs in the building, and it is interesting to observe the many names of the Portuguese who contributed substantial sums, as it was fitting that they should.
A much criticised modification to the original plans of the Cathedral was the placing of the campanile (which, incidentally, was for many years one of the tallest structures in Hongkong) in its present position some distance from the Cathedral proper. The original design called for the campanile to form part of the Cathedral building.
The Cathedral compound is small, but it has been the scene over the years of many religious processions and ceremonies, at tended by large numbers of Catholics, Portuguese invariably taking a prominent part. In the same grounds, also, the St. Vincent de Paul Society's annual al fresco fetes and bazaars – which as the years went by became more and more popular with both children and adults – used to be held. The various stalls and side-shows were in nearly all cases got up and conducted by enthusiastic Portuguese ladies and gentlemen.
Leaving the Cathedral, to which I propose to make further reference elsewhere in this book, I have now to refer briefly to the various churches established from time to time by the Catholic Mission to serve the needs of widely separated sections of the Catholics in Hongkong.
In the 1870's, St. Francis Chapel was erected at Wanchai, for long the residential area of the seafaring population of the Colony, from the days when sailing ships still frequented Hongkong Harbour. The old chapel has since been enlarged and is now known as St. Francis Church.
To serve the Portuguese who in the old days lived in the West Point area, for many years a large warehousing district, St. Anthony's Church was built. The Portuguese did not remain in West Point for very long and in course of time moved away to other parts of the Colony, principally to Kowloon. St. Anthony's Church then ceased to fill a need and so was pulled down in the 1920's. On the site it occupied there now stands the fine new Government school for Chinese boys, known as King's College.
In Kowloon, the unpretentious Rosary Church was for some years the spiritual home of all Portuguese residing on the mainland. The Portuguese population of Kowloon increased so rapidly that Rosary Church was soon hardly big enough to accommodate the large numbers of the faithful attending it. With the extension of Kowloon, chiefly in the direction of Homuntin and Kowloon Tong, where numerous Portuguese families made their homes, it became imperative for another church to be built on the mainland. This time, with funds subscribed by Portuguese and others, a larger church building was erected. St. Teresa's Church, with its attractive tower, is now a prominent landmark on Prince Edward Road.
Yet another church building has been erected in recent years by the Catholic Mission to serve the Catholics, the majority of whom are Portuguese. This is St. Margaret Mary's Church near the Race Course at Happy Valley.
Though intended primarily for Catholics in the garrison stationed at Hongkong, St. Joseph's Church, on Garden Road, has always had many Portuguese in its congregation, and its choir has been composed largely of Portuguese singers, both men and ladies.
Closely associated with, and in close proximity to, the Cathedral and St. Joseph's Church have been the Catholic Union Club and St. Patrick's Club, respectively. The membership of both these clubs has included Portuguese, those of the Catholic Union Club being almost wholly Portuguese.
I shall have occasion to refer at greater length, later in this book, to several of the churches mentioned above, as well as numerous associations, sodalities, and leagues, composed more or less of Portuguese. They have been in existence for many years in Hongkong, all strengthening the already strong ties existing between the Portuguese community and their Mother Church.
For the first half-century after the setting up of the Catholic Mission in Hongkong, the congregations of the Catholic churches were almost entirely Portuguese. The students attending the Catholic schools were also nearly all Portuguese. Indeed, until the XXth century, when the gradually increasing number of Chinese converts and the larger numbers of British, French and other Catholics broadened the scope of the work of the Catholic clergy in Hongkong, the priests had few friends outside the Portuguese community.
I remember some of the older members of the Portuguese community who maintained the closest friendship with the Catholic clergy, friendships begun in earlier days and continued till death thinned the ranks of the pioneering citizens of Hongkong, on the one hand, and of the priests, on the other.
One of them was my grandfather, Mr. Delfino Noronha, in whose home some of the priests were frequent and welcome guests. A regular, weekly guest was Father Vigano, the Roman Catholic naval and military chaplain, who in his younger days had fought under the famous Garibaldi. He was an excellent conversationalist and was very popular with the younger folk.
Another of Mr. Noronha's close friends was the respected Bishop Volonteri, who was responsible for the drawing up of the map of the San On District in the New Territories. The map was published by the firm of Noronha & Company, and it formed the basis for the survey of the northern districts of the New Territories when Mr. (later Sir) James A. Stewart Lockhart was appointed Commissioner of the New Territories following the leasing of the area to the British by the Chinese Government under the Kowloon Convention of 1898.
The Portuguese community and the Catholic Church in Hongkong cannot, in a broad sense, be considered apart from each other. They have grown together, from the early years of Hongkong's existence as a British colony to the present time. I recall speeches by Bishop Raimondi and Bishop Pozzoni – both of whom knew intimately the difficulties under which the Portuguese laboured – acknowledging the faithful, loyal and unstinted help given by the Portuguese members of their flock to the good work of the Church in Hongkong.
Something has been said in Chapter IX regarding social services, but it may not be out of place to mention here an important contribution by members of the Portuguese community to another public service, namely, the provision of economical – and in many cases free – funerals for the Catholic poor in Hongkong, Funerals were becoming an expensive ceremony – Hongkong had already shown many signs of being a place primarily for the rich – when the late Rev. Father Peter de Maria, Pro-Vicar Apostolic in Hongkong and Rector of St. Francis Church at Wanchai, drew up a scheme devised at reducing the heavy burden of cost on the poorer members of the Catholic community of laying to rest their dear ones who had passed away. At a meeting of the Catholics of St. Francis Church, Father Peter de Maria put forward his scheme for Christian burials. He was ably supported by Mr. Henry Dixon, President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and Mr. M. Fernandes, a charitable member of the Wanchai congregation, and the scheme was adopted.
Resulting from that meeting the St. Raphael's Society was "formed by members of the Confraternity of the Most Blessed Sacrament, St. Francis Church, Wanchai, in 1919, its object being to provide, when practicable, free Christian burial to all those who died in poor circumstances. Upon application the Society may undertake the burial of others than those unable to pay for their funeral. All Catholics are eligible for membership."
A service of like nature has been given in Macao from its earliest days by the charity organisation, the Santa Casa da Misericordia. In carrying on the traditions of the Macao institution, St. Raphael's Society in Hongkong has followed a worthy example.
The Society started with a modest hand-drawn hearse, but by 1940 was in a position to acquire a motor-driven vehicle. The coffins supplied have been of different qualities, from expensive oak caskets with trimmings, for the well-to-do, to plain China-fir coffins for those whose families have been unable to pay any fee at all. The principle upon which the Committee have based their charges is that the rich should pay for the poor. This policy has been very successful indeed, and through careful and excellent management the St. Raphael's Society has rendered splendid service to the Catholics in Hongkong.
Nearly all the members of the Committee of St. Raphael's Society in Hongkong have been Portuguese and they have performed their onerous services gratuitously.
The Portuguese have been just as prominent in all the other Catholic benevolent institutions in Hongkong, following the example of the older eleemosynary societies of Macao. St. Raphael's Society and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are concrete examples of their work in this direction.
The influence of Macao has likewise been a compelling one in the more essentially religious aspects of the life of the Hongkong Portuguese. In no other direction have the close ties of affection between the Portuguese communities of the neighbouring cities been more apparent than in the observances during religious festivals. On such occasions, public gatherings at church and in processions are an important feature of the community of the Portuguese in Macao; this has been repeated in Church observances in Hongkong.
A student of ethology might discern in the close connection between the Catholics of Hongkong and the religious observances of Macao a subject of interest. I have in mind the pilgrimages made by Hongkong Portuguese to Macao on the occasion of a number of processions. The most important of these is the ceremony connected with the Procession of the Cross, held each year on the first Saturday and Sunday of Lent. At this procession, in which vast throngs of the faithful take part, the Saviour's image is borne through the streets of Macao. Of recent years similar processions have been held at the Cathedral, at Rosary Church, and other churches in Hongkong, where the number of Portuguese taking part is a striking commentary on the religious zeal of these people.
One has only to observe the large numbers of Portuguese communicants at Mass every Sunday, and also the intense interest displayed by Hongkong Portuguese in the annual Lenten Retreat – many of them attending the services after a hard day's work – to realise that there is a great deal of deep religious feeling among them. The Retreats, formerly conducted by the Redemptionist Fathers from Manila, and by Jesuit preachers latterly, last for a week or longer, with services every morning and evening at the Hongkong Cathedral.
All Souls' Day (2nd November) is dedicated each year to the remembrance of dear ones departed. It is the custom for floral tributes to be laid on the graves in Catholic cemeteries on this day, and, as a rule, the ceremony of blessing the graves is conducted by the Bishop himself. This day is regularly and faithfully observed by the Portuguese of both Hongkong and Macao.
Christmas has its own special religious ceremonies, principal among which are those of the Midnight Mass, and they are all observed with the utmost devotion. This used to be the greatest day in the Church calendar for Hongkong Portuguese, and I well remember the many ceremonies formerly connected with it. The women folk, and those of the men who could do so, attended Mass every morning for many days before Christmas; we observed days of fasting and abstinence with great scrupulousness; and for days on end special preparations were made for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, when everyone at church received Holy Communion. The Crib, showing the Infant Christ in a manger, was installed in every home, and the children were made to feel that Christmas was, in a special way, their day. The grown-ups took special pains to make the children happy. There was one rich old miser, whose name I will not mention, who could never be induced to give anything to anyone, but on Christmas Day he gave five cents to every child he met. The old tradition worked a miracle even in the case of the old skinflint.
I must deplore the changes which have taken place in recent years. No longer do the children's interests count for much. The grownups have come to adopt new practices. The old celebrations in the homes have been going by the board. A few presents are given to the children, who are left to go their own way, a few decorations are put up in the home, but the cabarets and the hotels have become the venue for parties in place of the good old family festivities, with their sober and salutary influence on the younger generation. I notice that the sensible Portuguese Christmas customs are dying out in Hongkong. It would be good if an earnest attempt were made to preserve them, and thus secure their perpetuation, a suggestion which I commend to those responsible for the moral upbringing of Portuguese youth in the British colony.
At the end of the year, a Te Deum is sung in the Catholic Cathedral and in all the parish churches of Hongkong, just as it is done in Macao, when the congregations join in offering thanks to God for all favours and blessings received and enjoyed during the year. The Portuguese generally are particularly careful to attend this New Year's Eve ceremonial, but here again I have detected a decided falling-off of interest on the part of some of my fellows in the community. After the service, friends greet one another and exchange hearty good wishes for the New Year. The old-fashioned families then go quietly home, and there in the blessed atmosphere of the family hearth each family holds a reunion. Prayers are offered, when the head of the family returns thanks to the Almighty for the preservation of the family group and for benefits received. A "Happy New Year" is proposed, the little ones are put to bed, the elder children possibly go to some community gathering of the younger men and women, but the elder folk remain at home to welcome, with prayer, the coming of the New Year, their hearts filled with thanks for God's mercies to their children, and with confident hope in the future.
As I look back on scenes such as these in the life of the Portuguese community in Hongkong, I am reminded of Burns's immortal lines:
Then homeward all take off their several way;
The youngling cottagers retire to rest:
The parent-pair their secret homage pay,
And proffer up to Heav'n the warm request,
That He who stills the raven's clamorous nest,
And decks the lily fair in flowery pride,
Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,
For them and for their little ones provide;
But chiefly in their hearts with grace divine preside.
Is it to be wondered at that I regret the introduction of new ways and new uses in place of the good old customs which the Portuguese brought with them from Macao to Hongkong in the days of long ago?
These lines by Burns also remind us of the family gatherings over prayers, for no attempt to delineate an average Portuguese family in Macao or Hongkong would be complete without a description of the family prayers and devotions which are an important part of life in most Portuguese homes- and especially of the old-fashioned homes. The family group assembles in the parent's room, as a rule after the evening Angelus. The senior feminine member generally leads the prayers, and the responses are said by the others in unison before the little family altar (no matter how humble, each home has its family altar.) The whole of the five mysteries of the rosary are recited. At the conclusion, upon rising, the children in turn take the right hand of their parents and kiss them "Good-night", invoking their blessing in a single word: "Benção", to which the parents reply: "Deus dei graça" ("May God bless you.")101
The value of the simple, homely observances of the Portuguese cannot be overstated. They are part of their national inheritance – to be prized as something exceedingly precious and to be handed down intact to their children and their children's children. Above all, it is devoutly to be hoped that their fealty to their Mother Church will remain ever unchanged.
In Hongkong, among other races of varying temperaments and traditions, the Portuguese have fitted themselves into the common community life, and if, possessing the Latin temperament themselves, they have been swayed at times by motives too impassioned and impulsive, they have, nevertheless, brought with them all the fervent loyalty inherited from their forefathers. Often too shy to assert themselves, partly because of a consciousness of deficient education, they have nevertheless plodded along faithfully and doggedly and have become an inherent part, and a useful part, of Hongkong's cosmopolitan community. The one thing which has characterised their individuality as a community in Hongkong has been their steadfast adhesion to the faith of their fathers.
A keen British observer, Sir George Young, has sought to analyse some of the traits of the Portuguese:102
"We may perhaps find the national religion of the Portuguese," says he, "in their humane conscience and their consciousness of a common humanity, for both are national characteristics. An appeal to the charity or to the courtesy of a true Portuguese is unfailing; if we except those urban classes in whom circumstance, as in every race, have extinguished their national characteristics. In the same way an appeal to the humanity of the Portuguese, as a whole, has never been in vain. The humanity of the Portuguese is especially evident in their treatment of foreigners, inferiors, criminals or animals."
Sir George had only to add their traditional hospitality, which is proverbial, as all who have been entertained by the Portuguese can bear out, to complete his picture.
May no harmful new doctrines be permitted to work their way into the deep Christian faith of these people; and may educational influences be directed towards the cultivation of all that is good and elevating in the character of the Portuguese in Hongkong and Macao!
One of the most important of Catholic principles is the provision of a Christian education for children in Catholic schools. There were hardly any children of British, Portuguese or other foreign parentage in Hongkong during the first two or three years of the Colony's existence, when living conditions in the settlement were notoriously unwholesome and unhealthy. However, as early as 1844 the Catholic Mission opened its first school in Hongkong, designed to provide some instruction in the English language, principally for boys of Portuguese parentage. Recognising the difference between the standards of Portuguese and British lads, the Mission opened a separate school for British children in 1845, under the charge of a Mr. Caine. This school had seven students at the beginning. In the following year Mr. Caine was succeeded by Dr. A. Batachi, who realised how unpractical it was to keep a school for British children only, when the number of students was as limited as it was. Accordingly, he admitted children of other nationalities as well, and the school had then a mixed enrolment of twenty-one pupils, some being European and others Chinese. The need for another school led to the opening by the Catholic Mission, some two years later, of an Anglo-Portuguese school, with eighteen Portuguese boys, and Father Girard as headmaster.
Other changes followed, and from this period onward educational facilities for boys were firmly established. Portuguese youths in Hongkong thus obtained an all-round education of sorts, sufficient to enable them to secure employment with the Government and with British and other firms in Hongkong.
It is a sad reflection that, during this time and for many years after, Macao suffered from a deficiency of properly organised schools for Macaense boys, even in the Portuguese language. In spite of the interest shown by some, and subscriptions in later years from the Portuguese community of Hongkong, it was a very long time before really satisfactory educational facilities were made available for the youth of Macao.
On the other hand, the schools in Hongkong improved from decade to decade. In the years 1849 and 1850, three more schools were opened in the British colony, all being for boys. The teachers were, in every case, members of the Portuguese community possessing a knowledge of the English language. The standard of these schools could not have been very high, but they filled a need, and were a move in the right direction, and it was with the indifferent knowledge of English received in these schools that so many of the Portuguese found employment.
All the Catholic schools in Hongkong came under the personal influence and direction of Rev. Father Felix McMahon, with Father Prudence Marie Girard as special delegate, to minister to the Portuguese Catholics in Hongkong. Not long afterwards, Rev. Father D. L. Ambrozi was nominated Prefect Apostolic in Hongkong, with Rev. Father T. A. Raimondi as Vice-Prefect.
Father Raimondi (later Bishop Raimondi) enjoyed a long and distinguished association with the Catholic educational movement in Hongkong. He had a warm place in his heart for the Portuguese community, and took a special interest in the education of Portuguese lads.
He occupied among Catholic educationalists the same prominent and fruitful position which Dr. Legge, whom he so much resembled also in character and shrewdness, occupied among the Protestants. Bishop Raimondi, however, became the strongest opponent in the Colony of that educational secularism which Dr. Legge had established and to which the Protestant missionaries meekly submitted for many years thereafter. From the time of Father Raimondi's arrival, the English Roman Catholic Schools, which had previously commenced to supply local offices with English-speaking Portuguese clerks, redoubled their efforts.103
Churches and schools are essential amenities contributing to the expansion of any community, and the rapid growth of the new Catholic educational institutions in Hongkong, at a time when there was a paucity of schools at Macao, was one of the factors that led, I believe, to a greater exodus of the Portuguese from Macao to Hongkong. This was particularly noticeable as the school education in Hongkong fitted young men to earn a livelihood in the British colony. Nor did the Portuguese, at any time, question the nature of the education which the Catholic schools provided. Conscious of the material advantages gained from such education side by side with their compliance with the prescriptions of the Church's decrees (which do not permit, except in special circumstances, attendance by Catholics at non-Catholic schools), the Portuguese were happy to pay the modest fees necessarily charged by the Mission schools.
On the 27th November, 1858, there appeared in the Hongkong Government Gazette a notification about Government schools. It informed parents and guardians that schools for gratuitous instruction had been established by the Government of Hongkong, within the city of Victoria and throughout the Island.104
At that time the Catholics had no free schools in Hongkong for European children, but there was a free Chinese school, with 8 Catholic pupils, and an orphanage for Chinese girls at L'Asile de la Sta. Enfance, which was then the only Catholic charitable establishment in the Colony.
With the coming of the Sisters of the Canossian Order, schooling for girls was placed on a better footing. It was in April, 1860, that a band of six earnest Sisters arrived in Hongkong from Canossa, Italy, to found a branch of the Mother-house of their Order in Hongkong. Sister Maria Stella was leader of the group. She was later appointed Mother Superior of the Canossian Sisters in Hongkong, where she laboured for many years and where she died at over eighty years of age. Before her, the first Superioress was Sister Lucia Cupis, who died in 1869. In less than a month from the date of their arrival, the Sister's numbers were increased by the addition of a new adherent to the Order in the person of Miss Bowring, who entered the novitiate with the name of Sister Aloysia. Miss Bowring was a daughter of Sir John Bowring, who had been Governor of Hongkong from 1854 to 1859.
The first school of the Canossian Sisters in Hongkong was opened in rented premises not far from the present site of the Convent, on Caine Road. I remember being told that their first pupil was Carolina, eldest daughter of Mr. Delfino Noronha, the printer. The connection, thus early begun, between the Canossian Sisters and the Noronha family has never been broken. Carolina Noronha married Mr. Vicente Emilio Braga (my father) and all their family of four boys and four girls were taught by the Italian Sisters, the boys finishing their schooling in Catholic schools for boys in Hongkong. My mother maintained her father's tradition of service to Catholic institutions, and in the annual bazaars held by the Convent – quite a feature of Hongkong's social amenities – she always helped as one of the lady stallholders.
As regards schools for boys, in September, 1860, was opened the first free Roman Catholic School for European boys in Hongkong. It was inaugurated in a small house in Staunton Street, and had two teachers to begin with. "Gradually the Italian Convent School and the school in Staunton Street developed themselves and became, the first, the larger Italian Convent in Caine Road; the second turned first into St. Saviour's College and then into the present St. Joseph's College."
"The little school for Chinese Catholic boys had the number of its pupils increased and a small Seminary for Chinese pursuing ecclesiastical studies was also opened at the Roman Catholic Mission House."
Not long after, there were three schools for Portuguese boys only. Two of them were in Wellington Street, one under Mr. J. A. Pereira and the other under Mr. R. Freire. The third Portuguese school for boys was in Stanley Street, and was under the direction of Messrs. J. J. Souza and B. Souza.
Sensing the convenience of having all its schools under one roof, the Catholic Mission amalgamated, in 1865, all the boys' schools under its charge into one institution, and thus it was that St. Saviour's College in Pottinger Street came into existence. The new school began with 152 scholars and a staff consisting of Messrs. T. T. Terry, J. Mayer, V. Pereira, J. Baptista and C. Wagner. In 1875, the non-Chinese boys attending St. Saviour's College were placed in the charge of the Christian Brothers, who in that year arrived in Hongkong and opened St. Joseph's College.
Descriptions of the first years of the Italian Convent and St. Joseph's College, culled from authoritative sources, make interesting reading.
Of the early success of the Italian Convent we read in a report by Father Raimondi on the occasion of the prize-giving at the Convent in 1872:
"During the ten years the Italian Convent has been opened nearly one hundred girls of good family have received a complete education of the best description. Two hundred Chinese destitute children have been saved from death, and trained up to be useful girls and women. Upwards of 300 girls over ten years of age have been rescued from misery and fed, clothed and taught. These girls and infants but for the Sisters must have been eventually become a charge upon the Colony. About eighty girls have been respectably married." 105
Further details of the work of the Italian Sisters during their early years in Hongkong are given in another old report:106
"The ITALIAN CONVENT is one of the largest and most important of the Catholic establishments in Hongkong and its speciality is female education. There is no other establishment like it in Hongkong.
"The good Sisters of the Italian Congregation of Canossiane who direct it are quietly and unobtrusively doing a great and a good work in our midst and are daily extending the sphere of their labour. It is only seventeen years ago that the first members of the Sisterhood arrived here, six in number, shortly afterwards to be increased to seven by the reception of a daughter of the late Sir John Bowring. In those seventeen years they have opened five houses, two in Hongkong, one in Macao, one in Amoy and the fifth in Hankow.
"There are five separate departments within the walls, each with its special and proper staff.
" (a) There is first a Boarding and Day School for the education of young ladies .... The boarders were about 20 in number. The day scholars (girls) about 120 divided into two classes, and there is a third class for little boys under eight years of age of whom there were usually 24.
"(b) There are two orphanages, one for Europeans and one Chinese girls. Both together numbered at the end of the last year, 129.
"(c) There is the 'Holy Childhood', for foundlings. 45 little ones are kept here, their ages varying from two to five years.
"(d) There is an Asylum for old and invalid women ...
"(e) There is a small Hospital for women. It is always full and many applicants have to be rejected for want of room. It has helped many to renewed health and strength.
Concerning St. Joseph's College, the report above mentioned, stated:107
"There are nearly 300 inmates to be provided for daily in this Convent, over and above the number of the day scholars, and large as is the house it is not by any means large enough for the proper accommodation of the work in it...
"The Government grant of $80 a month towards the expenses of this establishment is well bestowed and profitably employed."
"ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGE, under the direction of the Christian Brothers. The education here given is essentially commercial.
"All the students are European, the greater number of them being Portuguese, the classes other than Chinese formerly held at St. Saviour's having been transferred to the new College.
"It is extraordinary how these schools have prospered under the direction of the Christian Brothers. These admirable teachers first arrived in Hongkong and took charge of the European boys at St. Saviour's on the 15th November, 1875... There were then only 70 pupils and three of the Brothers were more than sufficient for the work. In the month of June 1876 the pupils were 125 and nothing but the want of accommodation prevented a large increase in the number. The transfer to the present premises in Caine Road was made about that time and a fourth class was formed. At the end of last year the pupils frequenting St. Joseph's school numbered one hundred and sixty-five and as we write there are not far from two hundred with five masters, thus leaving more room, at St. Saviour's, for the Chinese among whom also has been an increase lately...
"We have every reason to be satisfied with the attendance of the boys at St. Joseph's. There has been a great improvement in that respect latterly although we have not yet come up to the English standard... The indolent habits incidental to birth and residence in a hot climate must count for something also and a wise administration will allow for it. If all these things are taken into consideration it will be seen that there are difficulties in the way of a high average number of attendances here as well as in England though they differ in kind and degree. In other English colonies similarly situated these difficulties have been taken into consideration and allowed for to an extent no one would ever look for here. Hongkong is not London, neither can European boys in Hongkong be expected to bear the climate as well and do as much work as Chinese boys."
Those were the early years in the life of the two great Catholic institutions of learning in Hongkong. Their growth has synchronised with the development of education in the Colony, and it can be said without fear of exaggeration that most of the Portuguese, the men as well as the women, owe very much to these schools. Their upbringing their outlook on life, their moral standards, the very instruction enabling them in the case of the men, to find employment, and, in the case of the women, to become worthy mothers of succeeding generations of the Portuguese in Hongkong, they owe in large measure to the teachers and the directors of these two schools. In their turn, the Portuguese have made several contributions to the expansion of these institutions. We have seen how gifts of land were made by early Portuguese landowners. I have not been able to remember all the names of those to whom the Canossian Sisters are indebted for landed property, but one of the latest was from yet another member of the d'Almada family. Regarding this gift we read that
"In memory of his late daughter, another Portuguese resident and his wife emulated the example of his father in his benevolence to the Canossian Sisters. This benevolence assumed the form of a Home for Blind Girls, at Pokfulam, named 'Honeyville' which is the generous gift of Mr. and Mrs. F. X. d'Almada e Castro. There are 35 blind girls housed in Honeyville."108
I shall attempt, in a later chapter, to deal with certain features of the education given in these and other Hongkong schools. I may, at this stage, mention that until comparatively recent times, no attempt appears to have been made to teach Portuguese to Portuguese children in Hongkong. A number of Portuguese fathers endeavoured to provide some sort of education in Portuguese by the publication of newspapers and the founding of a library; but the educational authorities of Hongkong ignored the need for the study of Portuguese until only a few years ago.
It is not surprising, however, that the reaching of the "language of Camoens" was neglected in Hongkong, seeing that in Macao itself there was for a long time a lack of really satisfactory educational facilities. But for this, parents might have sent their sons to Macao to learn Portuguese, as quite a number did subsequently, when the form of education obtainable in Macao had improved.
I believe that, from a purely academic point of view, a knowledge of Portuguese is very helpful in the study of English. A great number of English words can be traced to Latin languages, and are thus not unrelated to similar words in Portuguese, while other features of the language can possibly exert an influence for good in the other.
It may be true that there was little inducement for the study of the Portuguese language in Hongkong, and many years were to pass before the study of Portuguese became part of the school curricula; but at no period was there lack of persons who took pride in learning generally with considerable effort, the language of their Fatherland. Finally, at the instance of patriotic Portuguese gentlemen in Hongkong, and with the friendly co-operation of the Superioress of the Italian Convent and the Director of St. Joseph's College, and the support of the Education Board in Hongkong, arrangements were made for the inclusion of a Portuguese class in each of the bigger Hongkong schools having a sufficiently large enrolment of Portuguese boys and girls. Moreover, the Faculty of the Hongkong University decided to require that for the second language in the matriculation examination, Portuguese candidates should be encouraged to take their own language. This was only achieved about two decades ago, when teachers of Portuguese in Hongkong began to enjoy a small annual grant from the Government of Macao. This grant was not forthcoming with great regularity, however. It is worthy of note that when Governor Teixeira of Macao made his first official visit to Hongkong, in 1941, His Excellency made a gift of money to the Little Flower Club for Young Ladies, to be used for starting a Portuguese class under the auspices of the committee of that promising club. The gift was to have been renewed annually as a grant from Macao.
It may be interesting to quote a Hongkong newspaper which offered the advice that "the sooner the Macanese change their language from Portuguese to English the better for the rising generation."109 A knowledge of Portuguese might not have provided bread and butter for the majority of the Portuguese of Hongkong, it may be true, but who will gainsay the value of a knowledge of another tongue, more especially if it be one's own mother tongue?
Not only material advantages are to be gained from a good education, but great cultural benefits too, and I may be excused for urging the younger folk among the Portuguese to study the Portuguese language as well as English. A knowledge of and love for English literature enriches the mind and brings priceless joys, but I would add that a knowledge of the Portuguese language opens up fresh vistas of beauty and intellectual wealth which more than repay the little effort required to learn Portuguese. It is, furthermore, right and fitting, that men and women of Portuguese descent should know the beautiful "language of Camoens." I should be happy to see a wave of enthusiasm among the younger Portuguese for such things as the study of our language. I might remind them that there is no time like youth for study. Ruskin puts it well. "Work while you have light," he says, "especially while you have the light of morning. There are few thing more wonderful to me than that old people never tell young ones how precious their youth is. They sometimes sentimentally regret their own earlier days, sometimes prudently forget them, often foolishly rebuke the young, often more foolishly indulge, often most foolishly thwart and restrain, but scarcely ever warn or watch them. Remember... that the happiness of your life, and its power, and its part and rank in earth or in heaven, depend on the way you pass your days now."
Early relations between Macao and Hongkong -
Last Days of Portuguese Shipping in the East.
In earlier chapters we have seen how cordial were the relations between the Portuguese and the British at Macao during the opening decades of the last century. This was specially in evidence shortly before the outbreak of the "Opium" War, when the British merchants evacuated Canton and sought refuge with their families within the confines of Macao. The friendly relations then established between the British and Portuguese authorities were continued in the early days of the settlement of Hong Kong, and have remained unimpaired for a hundred years.
Successive governors have maintained the old friendship between the neighbour colonies of Macao and Hongkong. An interchange of official visits and personal calls became a matter of recognised practice, strictly observed by every new governor after his assumption of office.
The earliest governors of Hongkong, Sir Henry Pottinger, Sir John Davis, Sir George Bonham, and Sir John Bowring, were frequent visitors to Macao. During the period of their administration, conditions not only in Hongkong but also in Macao were by no means conducive to a restful existence. Sporadic disturbances of the peace were a market feature of life, and affrays involving the shedding of blood were not uncommon. One of the most tragic of these was the assassination of the Governor of Macao, Councillor João Maria Ferreira do Amaral.
Mr. (later Sir) Rutherford Alcock, who became an important figure in diplomatic circles in the Far East, gives an account in his book 110 of the lamentable incident which occurred at Macao, in the evening- just before sunset- of the 22nd August, 1849, when the Portuguese Governor, accompanied by his aide-de-camp, was set upon by a band of Chinese ruffians just inside the Macao Barrier. The affair is well known, but a sympathetic reference by a contemporary British official of the standing of Sir Rutherford, bears quoting:
"Captain Amaral, the Governor here alluded to, was a distinguished naval officer, who fell a victim to his zeal for the improvement of the colony, and its emancipation from Chinese rule. He was assassinated in open day while riding out, by a hand of Chinese, and his head was carried off to the Chinese authorities, by whom it was carefully pickled; and only delivered up to the Portuguese some weeks later, after an enormous amount of hard swearing. This act of atrocity, so well illustrating the principle on which the Chinese rulers would fain have regulated their dealing with foreigners, was a fit sequel to the torture and murder of four English clerks, at Whang-chu-kee, a village near Canton, only a short time before. The present Governor (in 1861) of Macau, Captain Guimarães, a naval officer also, of great ability and energy, has known how to draw all profit that was possible from the emancipation from Chinese rule which his predecessor had effected at the cost of his life. Aided by the unsettled state of the whole province, which induced the Chinese to flock to the colony for security, the revenue so wonderfully improved, that a surplus was remitted to the mother-country – very much to its surprise, it must be imagined: Portuguese colonies, like our own, being chiefly known as sources of expenditure – draining the home exchequer instead of feeding it! Holland and Spain alone seem to have preserved the art of reversing the process, and making their colonies pay."
After the murder of Amaral, the government of Macao devolved upon the Government Council, who decided "to notify the lamentable occurrence to the Ministers of Spain, France, and the United States of America (all of whom resided at Macao at that time) and also to the Governor of Hongkong, as representatives of countries that were Allies of His Most Faithful Majesty the King of Portugal." The Governor of Hongkong, Sir George Bonham, hastened to offer his services to the Colony of Macao in case of need, and his despatch reproduced below, dated Victoria, Hongkong, 24th August, 1849, is proof, were evidence needed, of the friendship between Hongkong and Macao. The document reads:111
"Excellent Sirs: –
"It is with extreme pain that I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch of yesterday's date, with its enclosure, which has just reached me, relative to the distressing subject of the death of Your late Excellent Governor.
"Early yesterday the sad tidings of the melancholy events reached me, and Captain Troubridge of Her Majesty's Ship Amazon, the Senior Naval Officer, at this Station, having volunteered his services to proceed immediately to Macao, left this Harbour about mid-day, together with H. M. steamer Medea. These vessels, no doubt, arrived last night, and I am in hopes that their presence will prove sufficient to ensure the tranquillity of Macao, and to suppress the excitement that must naturally be expected in a settlement the Governor of which has been deprived of his life in so atrocious and brutal a manner.
"Captain Troubridge will remain at Macao for the present, and I trust the arrival of H. M. vessels at this juncture will be sufficient to shew the Chinese Authorities that the British Government fully sympathize with that of Her Most Faithful Majesty on this distressing occasion, and that the Chinese will, if evilly disposed, be induced in consequence to refrain from any further acts of aggression.
"I yesterday addressed a Letter to the High Commissioner on the subject of this atrocious murder, and informed him that I conceived it to be one in which all the Representatives of the Foreign Powers in China were directly concerned, and that I fully expected that he would cause the perpetrators of the bloody deed to be at once apprehended, should they have taken refuge within the dominions of the Emperor of China.
"Condoling with You as I do in all sincerity on this distressing occasion, – I have the honor to remain, Excellent Sirs –
(Signed) S. G. Bonham.
"The Right Reverend Dom Jeronimo,
Bishop of Macao, etc.
His Honor Joaquim Antonio de Moraes Carneiro,
Major Ludgero Joaquim de Faria Neves,
Miguel Pereira Simões, Esq.,
José Bernardo Goularte, Esq.,
Manoel Pereira, Esq.,
Council in charge of the Government of Macao."
The effect of this news – of the murder of Governor Amaral – upon the Portuguese community in Hongkong, a small community so recently arrived from Macao, where there were ties of blood and friendship, can be well imagined. I remember being told that when the awful tidings reached Hongkong, the entire community wanted to volunteer for service for the defence of Macao. Awful rumours spread like wild-fire among the small, but patriotic, Portuguese community in Hongkong, while the daily newspapers, carrying the news of the occurrences in Macao, were eagerly awaited and were read with bated breath.
Suddenly, however, their anxiety was relieved by the thrilling report of an exploit that will be remembered as long as Macao lives.
The Chinese officials, whose interests had been affected by the measures which Amaral had introduced, and who, it is believed, had instigated the murder of this governor, had mustered a force of some two thousand "warriors" in a fortress overlooking the Barrier Gate of Macao. From this stronghold they were meditating an attack. The Portuguese colony was in dire peril. At this critical moment, a brave Macaense lieutenant of artillery, Vicente Nicolau de Mesquita, in a feat of daring, led a small band of his fellow-nationals against the Chinese positions, utterly routing the would-be invaders and freeing Macao from the threatened attack.
The story of this achievement is well known, but so large does it loom in the minds of the Macaense that space must be given to it in the pages of this book. Montalto's version112 compiled from sources contemporary with the events, is well worth reproducing:
"On the morning of the memorable 25th August 1849, while the conscripts patrolled the city, a detachment of the regulars proceeded with a field-piece to guard the barrier-gate. Other available detachments followed. From the fort of Pakshanlan, about a mile to the north, the Chinese forthwith opened fire upon the barrier. The Portuguese forces there posted now numbered but a hundred and twenty men, with three guns. At the inner harbour an armed cutter and a lorcha stood by, guarding the approaches thereto from Pakshanlan. The Chinese forces numbered over two thousand, about five hundred being lodged in the fort, and the rest posted with artillery along the adjoining heights, with reinforcements pouring in from inland routes. The field-pieces at the barrier, the guns of the lorcha and cutter, proved of little or no avail; and while the enemy's position stood beyond range of the fortresses at Macao, the artillery of Pakshanlan ranged as far as the barrier; and such was the fire that soon the Portuguese found their exposed position untenable. It was imperatively necessary either to silence that fort or to abandon the barrier. But whilst a retreat would have paved the way for an imminent descent upon the colony, a sortie was deemed unadvisable, in view of the inadequate forces for offensive as well as defensive purposes, at a moment when Macao stood endangered from within and without. Moreover, the foreign ministers dissuaded the council from adopting offensive measures under actual circumstances.
"At this psychological moment a young Macaense sub-lieutenant of artillery, Vicente Nicolau de Mesquita, then serving as the council's aide-de-camp, resolutely stepped forward and, in forcible words pointing to the urgency for prompt, decisive measures, volunteered to storm the fort of Pakshanlan with a party selected by himself. The foreign ministers, who attended the council, deemed it the height of temerity. The council, however, granted Mesquita the desired leave, and exemption from any possible hindrance on the part of Captain Sampaio, the commanding officer at the barrier. The president of the council, Bishop Matta, enjoined Mesquita to observe above all the strictest prudence, dismissing him with a waving of the hand suggestive enough of a benediction as off he dashed for the front.
"At the head of sixteen men with a howitzer – the gift of a French naval commander to Amaral – Mesquita rushed to the scene of action, handed Captain Sampaio an order from the Council to advance with the forces as far as the paddy fields, and there himself loaded and trained the howitzer. The shell, bursting where the crowd stood densest in the fort, created an evident scare. It was the only effectual shot fired. At the recoil a wheel broke, disabling the howitzer. Mesquita then formally asked leave of the commanding officer to storm the fort, producing the council's warrant for this purpose; then, addressing the troops, he bade those who would follow him to step to the front. Twenty braves113 did so, and with the select sixteen who had brought the howitzer, proceeded in single file along the slender tracks hedging the paddy fields, beyond which, on the crest of a craggy hillock, the port of Pakshanlan puffed and boomed. At their approach, its cannonade and fusillade were such that Captain Sampaio ordered a retreat. At the bulge-call to this effect, Mesquita, sanguine of success, ordered his bugler to sound the advance; and as this was done, a shot, sweeping past, rent the bugle in twain. Urged by Mesquita's shouts, forward then dashed the gallant thirty-six, with an élan worthy of the proudest days of Lusian prowess. The spirit of the one-hundred hero of Itaparica114 seemed to dwell now upon the dashing hero of Passaleão – as Pakshanlan was thenceforth called. Those who from Monte witnessed the exploit, including the foreign ministers, stood rapt in admiration of the sight of that handful of men advancing under a ceaseless fire, across an open, difficult track to storm a stronghold teeming with defenders. But fortune favoured the braves; as they neared the hill-crested fort, its artillery, high-ranged, could no longer be brought to bear on them.
No less ineffective was the fire of unwieldy jingals, to which alone they were now exposed. As they scaled the craggy height firing, the enemy got panic-stricken and abandoned both the fort and the adjoining hills. Almost exhausted under a scorching sun, Mesquita and his followers bounded into the fort just in time to shoot a soldier who was about to fire the magazine by means of a flint. The guns – twenty 18-pounders – were then spiked. One of the heroes, who brought a Portuguese flag folded up in his breast, unfurled, and amidst frantic cheers, waved it over the battlements of Passaleão, carried at the cost of only one soldier severely wounded. The enemy's loss could not be ascertained as the retreating forces carried away both the wounded and dead. A mandarin who, stretched over an embrasure, distractedly offered a futile resistance, was the last to fall. With questionable taste, his head and one of his hands were cut off, affixed on spears, and brought away as trophies. From the magazine Mesquita laid a train down to where the party now mustered, and there ignited it. With a fearful boom the magazine flew into atoms, and the adjoining wall gave away, dismounting several guns.
"Meanwhile despairing citizens of Macao prepared for the worst, dismayed ladies and children prayed for deliverance, at the sight of a signal of distress hoisted at the Fort of São Francisco- the national ensign flown upside down. In response, British marines landed, but did not march to the front; and on a proposal to guard the fort being declined, they were stationed before the headquarters at Praia Grande. In the absence of news from the scene of action, the city laboured under strange and dark illusions. The distant roar of artillery having ceased, the silence was regarded as confirmatory of the apprehension that some disaster had befallen the handful of defenders at the barrier-gate, and that the invaders were rushing into the city unopposed. At the headquarters bewildered crowds, anxiously awaiting news, now stood aghast at what was believed to be a cry of alarm resounding from afar; thus was misconstrued the hearty cheers with which the guards of Monte hailed the flag waved at Passaleão. In hot haste a messenger on horse-back now approached the headquarters; his excited appearance seemed to bespeak the apprehended catastrophe. The British marines, shouldering arms, stood on the alert. A moment of breathless suspense, of feverish curiosity, ensued. Then came the happy disillusionment. Great was the relief when the messenger imparted to the council the welcome tidings of Mesquita's heroism and triumph. Enthusiastic crowds ran forward, and meeting the heroes in the way back, greeted them with an ovation worth of the feat of arms which not only averted the doom of Macao, but also vindicated the military prestige so impaired of late, and, foiling the sinister designs of mandarindom, consolidated Amaral's glorious achievements.
"Further danger, however, was apprehended. By way of a demonstration, the British marines, under Captain Troubridge, marched up to the scene of Mesquita's exploit the day after. The inadequacy of the colony's defensive resources led the foreign representatives to adopt precautionary measures against any sudden and treacherous attack... Reinforcements were requisitioned from Goa and Lisbon."
All these details and more were related in Hongkong, and great was the pride which swelled in the hearts of the Portuguese there over the exploit of Mesquita and his gallant little band. And when "a stirring call to arms was addressed to the Portuguese it was promptly responded to by several patriots at Hongkong," adds Montalto.
It is difficult, after the lapse of years, to recapture the scenes of enthusiasm which swept through the little community of Portuguese in Hongkong. I remember, as a young man, hearing my elders speak of them, and wish some of those old gentlemen had left some written description of what happened in the little Hongkong community, as it was then. It is known, however, that they decided to commemorate Mesquita's achievement by offering him a sword of honour. For this purpose a circular was printed and circulated among the Macaense in Hongkong. Translated, it reads:
"Some of the Macaenses residing in this Colony of Hongkong, feel that a bounden duty devolves on them to give expression, publicly and openly, to the gratitude which is felt to Second-Lieutenant Vicente Nicolau de Mesquita, their fellow countryman, for the singular valour, intrepidity, and intelligence shown by him in the memorable action which took place on the 25th August last, and in particular for the courageous manner in which Passaleão Fort was captured. This enterprise was successfully effected with the help of only thirty-two heroes under his command, in the case of the hottest artillery and musket fire by the Chinese, and it was a feat that is not only a glorious achievement for Portuguese arms but it has saved our city and our families from alarm, terror, and even death and conflagration. It has been thought fitting, therefore, to invite subscriptions for the purpose of presenting a sword to Lieutenant Mesquita as a memento of appreciation and in acknowledgment of his services. The above mentioned Macaenses believe that their fellow members of the community in this settlement (Hongkong) are moved by identical feelings and should not be deprived of an opportunity to participate in this public manifestation, and have resolved therefore that this circular should be sent to every single Macaense in Hongkong without exception.
"Hongkong, 3rd September, 1849."
The patriotic elation over Mesquita's exploit did not die out for many a day, and there was a splendid response to the appeal for funds. A sword was ordered from Portugal, and a year later the presentation ceremony took place, when a small delegation of Portuguese citizens from Hongkong, led by Mr. Francisco Candido Pereira de Silveira, visited Macao, on the 1st September, 1850, and handed the sword to Lieutenant Mesquita.
The sword is described as being of splendid workmanship, with letters engraved in the blade, inlaid with fine gold. The inscription read:
"Ao valor intrepido do Tenente de Artilheria Vicente Nicolao de Mesquita – Seus patricios os macaenses em Hongkong, em memoria da acção de 25 de Agosto de 1849 – Esta espada dedicam."
Translated this may be rendered:
"To the intrepid valour of Lieutenant of the Artillery Vicente Nicolao de Mesquita, his fellow countrymen, the Macaenses in Hongkong, in memory of the feat of the 25th August, 1849, dedicate this sword."
Mesquita became the hero of all his countrymen in the Far East. His name and his deeds have become things to conjure with among his fellow-nationals. In Macao, a large statue of the hero – a composition very dramatic in appearance – stands in the principal square of the city, before the Senate building;115 in Shanghai, the Portuguese Company of the Volunteer Corps has been named after him; and his memory lives on among all the Portuguese communities in the Orient.
Co-operation between Macao and Hongkong was once again seen not long after the Amaral incident, when a concerted expedition, organised in Hongkong, of British, American, Portuguese and Chinese forces was sent against a fleet of piratical junks anchored at Koulan Island (or Kuhlan) near Tylo Island, some sixty or seventy miles south-west of Macao. As a result of consultations between the Governor of Hongkong (Sir John Bowring) and the British Naval Commander-in-Chief, Sir James Stirling, and the Viceroy of Canton, it was decided to comb the waters within the Imperial Jurisdiction of China for a particularly daring band of pirates.
The American Commodore placed a steam vessel (the Rattler) at the disposal of the British Admiral, and the Governor of Macao also offered to assist with a ship and a naval detachment. The Portuguese contribution to the punitive flotilla was the lorcha Amazona, commanded by Lieut. Commander José da Silva Carvalho.
The expedition left Hongkong on the 3rd August, 1855, and the attack on the pirates' stronghold began at dawn the following morning. The pirates of this region were adepts at the game of hide and seek, and the allied forces had their work cut to accomplish their task. The brigands' lair was situated in difficult, hilly country, while the approaches to the island were guarded by a large fleet of comparatively well-armed junks. Despite the initial advantage of location enjoyed by the pirates, in their own waters, and on their own land, Captain O'Callaghan, who led the expedition, decided to attack. A whole week was taken up before the punitive force was able to report complete victory over the pirates, many of whom were killed and a number taken prisoner.
The victory was not gained before the sea-robbers had put up a desperate resistance, at the end of which, besides those killed and captured, they suffered the loss of fifty junks and the destruction ashore of two strongly fortified batteries with twenty-seven guns between them. A British officer's eye-witness narrative of the combats related that the Portuguese and Americans were conspicuous in the affray. The Portuguese attached themselves to the marines (British), and with them scoured the island. Capt. O'Callaghan publicly thanked Lieut. Commander Carvalho and the gallant crew of the Amazona for the way in which they acquitted themselves in the battle.116
By her brilliant exploits the Amazona made a name for herself in the shallow waters of the Chinese coastal regions, not only near Hongkong but as far north as the waters in the vicinity of Ningpo. She was considered one of the best war vessels on the coast at that time. Owing to her shallow draft and splendid sailing qualities she had the facility of entering harbours where pirates sought shelter, destroying their vessels and villages, and rendering better service than any other European gunboat in Chinese waters. Captain Silva Carvalho, her commander, was eulogised by the British and French admirals and by the Chinese officials for the services he and his men rendered against the Chinese freebooters. The Amazona, it is interesting to record, ended her career as a receiving ship for the water police in the Mozambique River.
The lorchas – the Amazona was a ship of this class – were first designed and built at Macao early in the XIXth century, on Portuguese stocks. They incorporated characteristics of European (mainly Portuguese) and Chinese sailing vessels, and were made of teak and camphorwood. Easily manoeuvrable, they were speedy and seaworthy craft, able to run down the fastest junks, in any kind of wind. Being armed with light cannon, the lorchas came to be engaged as armed escorts, to convoy fleets of trading junks from port to port, when piracy assumed serious proportions on the China coast, and the need arose for protection against the ruthless buccaneers infesting these waters.
The lorchas were generally of about 100 tons deadweight, but the largest exceeded 150 tons and the smallest were under 50 tons. The armament consisted of as many as 20 guns in the case of the larger ships, the cannon being mounted on swivels, while the crew were generally supplied with muskets, as well as pikes and other activities of the people of Macao at this period, mentions that the lorchas were "quaint-looking and gaily painted, adding greatly to the picturesqueness of Macao. They were her best hope, constituting as they did a pledge of her welfare economically as well as politically. And acting for the same cause which had shed lustre on the colony's origin, the Macaenses showed that they had not lost the mettle of their historic forefathers in fighting the pirates and thereby winning China's goodwill for Macao."
Montalto devotes several pages of his history of Macao117 to the subject of the lorchas. He explains that "they frequented not only the treaty-ports, but any river or port on the way. The mandarins hired them, not only at the instance of merchants and fishermen but for their own safeguard too. As convoys the lorchas sometimes went as far as Corea, Japan, and Formosa... and were known to have ventured even across the Pacific to California." The historian of Macao goes on to tell how the mandarins employed these little vessels (with their crews) as flagships of the Imperial fleets when expeditions went out against the pirates. Although the Portuguese craft sometimes fell victims to the pirates the Portuguese were usually successful in these encounters. For instance, "in 1847 seven Portuguese lorchas volunteered to sweep away the pirates that infested Ningpo waterways, and, after a bloody encounter, accomplished their hardy task, obtaining rewards from the mandarins as well as rich spoils from the enemy. In 1848 sixty imperial junks met at Ningpo, and led by five Portuguese lorchas, proceeded to dislodge the pirates from their strong-hold at Hoe Shan Island, which, after a desperate struggle, was taken – a feat which the imperial fleets of Shanghai and Chapoo had repeatedly failed to accomplish. Such was the confidence and good will won by the Portuguese at Ningpo that, when English and French convoys sought to oust them from the fisheries guarded by them, the leading fishermen proceeded to make a joint and formal declaration at the British Consulate, in 1855, to the effect that they wanted none but Portuguese convoys."118
Ruffians of various nationalities soon appeared on the scene, hoping to wrest the service of convoying from the hands of the Portuguese. On one occasion a battle actually took place, at Chin-hae, not far from Ningpo, ending in the Portuguese convoys defeating some of their French competitors. After this, the Frenchmen recruited Cantonese pirates and were joined by British, Italian and American desperadoes. In the engagements which ensued many Portuguese lost their lives, not only lorchamen but peaceful Portuguese civilians on shore at Ningpo as well. Matters went from bad to worse and at last Mr. Francisco João Marques, Portuguese Consul at Ningpo, appealed to Mr. T. T. Meadows, British Consul, asking him to intervene, to prevent a meditated attack on the Portuguese. The British official, turned a deaf ear to all intercessions, and on the 26th June, 1857, an assault was made on all the Portuguese ashore and afloat at Ningpo. "The Portuguese consulate was pillaged and wrecked, the flag hauled down and trampled upon, and while a native Christian sheltered the consul and his family at the French chapel, from the British consulate hunted Portuguese refugees were driven out to meet the shot and steel that awaited them; and Portuguese prisoners were tortured and butchered within view of that consulate."119
The arrival of the French warship Capricieuse "soon checked the pirates, and eventually brought away to Macao the Portuguese consul and his family, as well as other survivors."
The sanguinary affairs at Ningpo are a black page in the history of Europeans in China. The abandonment of the convoy trade by the better type of Portuguese lorchamen left the business in the hands of blackguards of all nationalities, and the court records of Hongkong, with their many cases of crimes committed by foreigners at this time, indicate to what level the moral condition of many Europeans in China, had sunk. It must not be wondered at that Chinese officials thought so little of foreign generally in those days!
With the closure of Ningpo to the Portuguese lorchas, due to the activities of the outlaws of various nationalities, few Portuguese ships ventured into those waters, and Portuguese owners despatched their vessels to other places. Among the new ports where they strove to build up trade were Bangkok, Haiphong, Singapore, India, Batavia, and other places in the East Indies. But Hongkong had superseded Macao as the main entrepôt of foreign trade with China; and when the sail was displaced by steam, and steam warships of foreign powers appeared in Far Eastern seas, taking over the patrolling of Chinese waterways, the picturesque lorchas gradually passed from the seas.
It is unfortunate that the men who sailed these old ships do not appear to have left any written record of their adventurous lives. They were worthy successors to the Portuguese mariners who ventured in through unknown seas, braving, any peril that might betide. The earlier times story of the accomplishments of the lorchamen is fast fading; some accounts have been handed down from father to son, it is true, but they are in danger of being forgotten altogether. What tales might not a Joseph Conrad or a John Masefield have penned could he have drawn from the experiences that befell those hardly Portuguese sailors in Eastern seas – tales of running fights with pirates, tragedies of blood and fire, of capture and hideous torture at the hands of corsairs, stirring stories of heroism, and of victories against great odds! Much of the romance of the East and the West can be here found in the story of a few lives!
A number of Portuguese families in Hongkong can trace their connection with forefathers who owned and sailed the lorchas in Far Eastern waters for almost fifty years, during the XIXth century. (*) Of them, in due course, some interesting traditions may survive, which, handed down from generation to generation, will live on and testify to a courageous race. And let us hope that in some future day, when their stories shall be told, "no doubts of worldly-wise sceptics will rob the hearers of all the glorious realms owned by happy credulity."
(*) The late Mr J.P. Braga left a few notes about the owners and masters of lorchas, intending to add to them. May I appeal once again to all those who can furnish any information on this and other aspects of the activities of the Portuguese in China to lend me their papers or notes? They will be returned, and if used due acknowledgment will be made. (Jack M. Braga)
Portuguese Interest in Land Development in Hongkong
- Genesis of Kowloon
– Some Interesting Personalities
among the Portuguese of Old Hongkong
Speaking generally, the Portuguese of Hongkong may be said to be the descendants of two elements of the people of Macao who emigrated to the British colony – the commercial element and the shipping element. The early Portuguese settlers in Hongkong were, in the main, the sons of men engaged in trade or employed in business firms at Macao; but, with the passing of the lorchas, many a young Portuguese who had served his apprenticeship before the mast found himself compelled to make a living ashore. Thus it happened that quite a few of the sea-faring folk of Macao joined the growing Portuguese community in the thriving British settlement.
The majority of the Portuguese in Hongkong occupied very humble positions, and they were seldom well paid. A few, however, were men of some means, who had brought their capital from Macao, and there were others who, by their own enterprise or through good fortune, succeeded in making their way in the world. Most of those who prospered invested in land and houses, and some of them eventually made small fortunes as their property mounted in value with the rapid growth of Hongkong into a sea-port of great importance.
When the city of Victoria in Hongkong expanded and the business quarters encroached upon the residences which bordered the earlier commercial part of the town, the Portuguese were driven out of the urban areas of Hongkong through economic pressure. They began to look around for districts outside the city limits in which to build new houses, or for houses built by others and let to tenants at a reasonable rental, while those with a natural bent for agriculture sought plots of land which might be cultivated, to indulge their hobby of vegetable and flower gardening.
The first Portuguese resident to buy land really far from town was Mr. J. J. dos Remedios. He acquired a Farm Lot at Pokfulam, where he built his family residence, with enough spare land for a sizeable flower and vegetable garden from which the family table was supplied with fresh produce daily.
Those were the days when trams, motor-cars and buses were not even dreamt of, so that Mr. Remedios must have had considerable enterprise to build a home in such a far-off suburban district. But he was one of the fortunate few who could afford the upkeep of a small buggy and pony to provide the means of quick transport to the city and back for his ordinary daily business. Most of the business offices were situated in the then central district, comprised within Wellington Street, Hollywood Road, Lyndhurst Terrace, and Gage Street, besides Queen's Road, while the residential district of the Portuguese more or less adjoined that area. The reclamations which were carried out in later years have provided the areas for the business premises of more modern times.
As has already been stated, the Almadas invested in land on the Caine Road level. It was from their property in this area that the two brothers gave so liberally to the Canossian Sisters of Charity the land on which was erected the first Convent building as well as the extensions of the institution carried out in subsequent years. Gifts of land were also made to the Italian Mission by other Portuguese.
Parallel with Caine Road, on a slightly higher level, Robinson Road came to be planned afterwards. It was in that area, at the junction of Robinson Road with Mosque Street, that the brothers Venâncio , Rufino and Adelino Gutierrez acquired some property. There they built several houses of modest proportions, within the means of Portuguese clerks to rent. The eldest of the three brothers – Venancio – rather more ambitious than the others, reserved a long strip of land for a garden.
The youngest of the brothers owned a small house, which he occupied with his family, together with a narrow triangular plot of ground between Wyndham Street and Arbuthnot Road. Some years after he had built his home, Government decided to resume the land and building, and to erect there quarters for the Indian married staff of Victoria Gaol. The Portuguese owner was notified in the ordinary way to call at the Treasury for the compensation that was offered to him. He had, of course, to give up the property, but he ignored the notice to collect the money offered to him – several tens of thousands of dollars. Again and again he was reminded to collect the money, yet he consistently refused to do so. At last, he was informed that, if he would not call for his cheque, his right to it would lapse in favour of the Government, and the money would pass to the general revenues of the Colony. This had the desired effect, for Mr. Gutierrez then, reluctantly, and after a great deal of grumbling, accepted the award. But still nursing his grievance, he finally collected the sum which the Government had offered. In the meantime he had suffered the loss of accrued interest, and the opportunity to employ the money in other investments. It is the only case I have heard of a man entitled to a substantial sum of money from the Hongkong Government refusing to collect until he had received serious warning that further persistence in refusing to exercise his right of collection would entail the loss of the entire sum. Mr. Gutierrez retired to Macao, bought property, and sported a little cart drawn by a donkey, and, as can be imagined, became quite a character in the old Portuguese town.
Of the three brothers, J.J., V.E., and C.J. Braga, whose names have been mentioned in an earlier chapter, the eldest – João José – appeared to be the one most favoured by Dame Fortune. He was married to a Macao lady, whose dowry helped him to set up in business. His business throve and he put his savings into property, choosing for his investments land and houses in Lyndhurst Terrace, Gage Street, and Arbuthnot Road. He had one son. When the lad grew to school-going age, his parents took the boy to England, where they planned to embark him on a medical career. However, before the youth had completed his university course, he married an Irish lady, where-upon his parents decided to wind up their business in Hongkong and remain in England. An agent was appointed to look after their Hongkong properties while they were able to live comfortably in England on the income from their fortunate investments.
There were four issues of the Portuguese-Irish match – three boys and a girl – all of whom were brought up and educated in England. On the death of their parents, the grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. João José Braga paid a visit to the land of their forefathers. In Hongkong, they discussed with their agents the matter of their property, and the four legatees of the Senior João José Braga decided to wind up their grandfather's estate. In due course the properties in Arbuthnot Road, Lyndhurst Terrace and Gage Street were sold at the height of a land boom, bringing in a pretty figure. The same plots of land, which the far-sighted old gentleman had acquired from Government for a mere pittance, and on which he had built, had soared fantastically in value within the span of only two generations!
The head of a Portuguese family noted for their taste in flower and vegetable culture found scope for the development of his hobby on a tract of land in the western district of Saiyingpun, where he erected a pretty bungalow for his residence. Mr. Mathias Soares was the gentleman in question. He had been the designer of and had superintended the laying out of the San Francisco Garden in Macao – a very charming spot it was in the old days before changes were made which left it as we see it to-day – at the northern end of Praia Grande. It is claimed for Mr. Mathias Soares that he introduced into Hongkong from Malacca the root of the ginger-lily, a plant which has since become so popular with flower growers in Hongkong and South China. Mr. Mathias Soares passed on his love of flowers to his son, Mr. Francisco ("Frank") Paulo de Vasconcellos Soares.120
There were other Portuguese owners of property in Hongkong in the early days, and although I cannot recall the names of the others among my co-nationals who invested their savings in land, in the central districts and other parts of the Colony, evidence of Portuguese land ownership has cropped up from time to time. Here is an instance. During the terrible epidemic of bubonic plague in Hongkong in 1894,121 when so many died of the dreaded disease, and the district of Taipingshan was found to be such a focus of infection that the entire population of the district was evicted and all buildings in the area were condemned to be pulled down, among the houses demolished were three of Portuguese ownership. The Government considered that the drastic step of tearing down a large number of dwellings, as one of the measures taken to attempt to root out the frightful disease, was worth the expenditure involved in the resumption of the whole district. An Arbitration Board was appointed to consider the claims of landholders for the resumption of their houses, and among the numerous claimants – if my memory serves me correctly – were Mr. Marciano A. Baptista, the artist, Mr. A. C. Botelho, a Government employee, and Mr. Mathias A. d'Azevedo. 122
Before concluding these references to early Hongkong Portuguese land-owners, I must not leave unmentioned the name of Mr. Delfino Noronha, which appears so frequently in these pages. He was another owner of property on the "Mosque" district.123 He used to take pleasure in recounting to his friends reminiscences of old Hongkong.
One of these had to do with early land tenure on the Island. An English business friend of his had been among the purchasers of the first lots of Crown land (all marine lots) sold by public auction shortly after the British occupation. This friend had no faith in the future of the Colony, and early decided to return to England. Before his departure, he offered Mr. Noronha the gift of two marine lots near the old Supreme Court building, opposite the site of the present King's Theatre on Queen's Road.124 Mr. Noronha had only to fulfil the building covenant and pay the annual Crown rent. Unfortunately, Mr. Noronha's usual excellent business acumen failed him on this occasion. He declined the offer. By doing so, he missed a golden opportunity, for within a few years the property had appreciated very greatly in value. With characteristic good humour, Mr. Noronha, when referring to this in his old age, used to say that the Portuguese are fine workers but, while keeping their heads bent to their tasks, they are apt to lose sight of good business opportunities flitting past them.
It was at Kowloon, on the mainland opposite the island of Hongkong, that the Portuguese displayed their greatest enterprise in land development. After its cession to the British in 1861, Kowloon attracted the attention of men with foresight and faith in the future of the Colony. Curious to relate, it was not in Kowloon proper, i. e., the area around the old Kowloon City, or in the peninsula of Tsim Tsa Tsui[g], usually included within the generic term of Kowloon, that the earliest development of Kowloon began. The district of Yaumati was first chosen as the most desirable locality for habitation by the few foreigners who led the way in building up as a residential area the suburb of Hongkong known as Kowloon.
Mr. Delfino Noronha was the first Portuguese to invest in land across the harbour. His earliest investments in landed property on the Island of Hongkong were, as we have seen, in the vicinity of Robinson Road – then considered the Ultima Thule for development in Hongkong. It is possible that chagrin over his failure to seize the opportunity of acquiring valuable waterfront sites in Hongkong, as mentioned above, led him to look for another desirable opening for investing in land. However that may be, he bought land at Yaumati.
The first plots of land sold in the area were not originally building lots; they were known at the beginning as "farm lots" and were sold by public auction. Two of the first lots, namely F. L. 2 and 3, of a total area of five acres, were bought by Mr. Delfino Noronha from the original owner, and he subsequently acquired an additional lot consisting of a further five acres of land adjoining his first purchase. He then invited his friend Mr. Marcus Calisto do Rozário to become joint owner with him of this land. Mr. Rozario agreed, and as a distinctive name for the property, the partners adopted the initial syllables of their Christian names. Thus it came about that the estate came to be called "Delmar".
Mr. Rozario was absorbed in his business undertakings, including an interest in the shipping trade, and left it to his more enthusiastic partner to develop the property. Mr. Noronha found time to build up the estate in an attractive manner. He laid out a huge garden, with a beautiful and spacious summer house in the centre, surrounded by trees imported from Australia, Malaya, and other places. The house was based on a Malayan design, probably adapted from the early Portuguese, and was the first of its kind in brick and stone in Yaumati. Mr. Noronha, who had a "soft" place in his heart for everything Portuguese, engaged as caretaker of the house a retired sergeant from the Macao garrison named Manuel Calderada. By the children, with whom he was a special favourite, he was called "Senhor Manuel".
The grounds of "Delmar" were a feature of the estate. Here were planted Australian fir and pine trees, which grew to a fine height. In one section, palms known as the areca, or betel-nut, as well as coconut palms, and other specimens of tropical flora, all well spaced out, gave it the appearance of a tropical plantation. In addition, fruit trees, flowering shrubs, and a host of other plants, including vegetables in abundance, flourished luxuriantly at "Delmar".
Mr. Noronha thus became a keen horticulturist. Among his equally enthusiastic horticulturist friends were Mr. Mathias Soares, mentioned earlier in this chapter, and Mr. Charles Ford, Superintendent of the Botanical & Forestry Department. These three gentlemen, it is interesting to record, became the moving spirits in the Hongkong Horticultural Society at its inception, at a time when it had but few supporters. Many and varied were Mr. Noronha's exhibits of flowering plants and vegetables at the annual horticultural show held at Hongkong, from which, much to his delight, Mr. Noronha invariably carried off prizes and awards.
Through his connection with the shipping trade, Mr. Marcus Callisto do Rozario on one occasion succeeded in importing a number of Australian sheep with the object of creating an experimental sheep farm at Yaumati. However, owing to the unfavourable climate and the complete absence of suitable pasturage for the animals, the experiment proved a failure. The entire flock died one after, another. The proprietors of "Delmar" realising the futility of further trials, gave up their short-lived venture in animal husbandry.
The foreshore of Yaumati Bay, before the Government permitted the breaming of trading junks and sampans, was a beautiful, sandy beach and was, for some time, one of the most popular bathing resorts on the mainland. In the hot summer months, "Delmar" offered many attractions to the families of their joint owners, as well as their friends, who came over from the Island on picnic excursions and week-end visits.
A fact not generally known is that Mr. Noronha operated the first steam-launch ferry between Hongkong and the Mainland. The termini of the ferry-boat were, for Hongkong, a Government pier for private launches opposite the old Central Market (on the seawall in front of the present Fire Brigade building, on the Des Voeux Road side), and, for Kowloon, a bamboo pier in front of the Yaumati Police Station in Temple Street. The service began with a single deck steam-launch called the Blanche, which, after its name, was all painted white. At the beginning, a single fare amounted to less than one cent, and so fares were collected in cash (a cash was worth one-tenth of a cent)! There was no regular time-table. A long blast from the boat's whistle announced the impending departure of the ferry, which took place when the Chinese coxswain thought that the launch had a sufficient complement of passengers on board. In the early morning hours, the passengers from Hongkong were mostly farm women (pig-wash women), returning from their rounds of Hongkong houses to the pig-rearing districts at Yaumati, Homuntin, and Kowloon Tsai. Who will say that the ferry service inaugurated by Mr. Noronha did not contribute to the development of Kowloon?
Mr. Noronha's Blanche was the forerunner of an improved ferry service which was organised later by a Parsee gentleman, Mr. Dorabjee Nowrojee. Mr. Dorabjee Nowrojee promoted the "Star" Ferry Company, which was subsequently acquired by and operated with great success as a subsidiary company of the Hongkong & Kowloon Wharf & Godown Company, Ltd.
At the time of which I write Kowloon was more or less an agricultural area. Yaumati was covered with paddy fields, and so were the districts further inland, including Homuntin and Kowloon Tsai.
These places offered good ground for wild-pigeon and snipe shooting and were much frequented by sportsmen from Hongkong.
But Government soon realised that a time was fast approaching when Kowloon would cease to remain merely a rice and vegetable growing district. A proposal was put forward by the then Surveyor General (as the Director of Public Works was called in those days), Mr. James M. Price, recommending the conversion of the Farm Lots into Inland Lots – in other words, building-lots – with compensation to owners for any portion of their land surrendered for public roads. Mr. Price's suggestion was eventually put into effect, and it applied to Yaumati and all the other villages in Kowloon Peninsula.
This led to greater interest being taken in Kowloon. Before long a foreshore site was sought on the western side of the Peninsula of Kowloon suitable for the construction of a graving dock. The enquiry was the result of a contention between two groups of shareholders in an already existing Dock Company. The "bulls" party endeavoured to force up the price of the Company's shares; the "bears," on the other hand, were for pushing it down. The side selected for the projected new dock was "Delmar", which, with its extensive foreshore rights, was one of the most valuable sites in the area. A representative of one of the contending groups of shareholders then approached Mr. Noronha with a view to its purchase. He was offered a small sum for an option, but the old Portuguese gentleman was shrewd enough to insist on an out-and-out sale. He sold the property to the share speculators for a tidy sum, but though "Delmar" passed out of the hands of its Portuguese owners the projected dock never materialised. Mr. Noronha never told whether the share speculators really intended to carry through the dockyard scheme, or whether, having cleared sufficient profits from their "ramp," they were glad to get rid of the land at some sacrifice. Nor did he ever reveal the identity of the would-be dockyard builders!
Besides the "Delmar" estate, Mr. Noronha bought land for Chinese shops and tenements in another part of Yaumati some distance from "Delmar". At his death, this property was disposed of; but had his heirs retained in they would have owned property which subsequently, with the merging of Yaumati into "Greater Kowloon," with its hundreds of thousands of inhabitants and its scores of thriving industries, became very valuable indeed.
There were other Portuguese owners of farm-lots in Yaumati besides Mr. Noronha and Mr. Rozário. Mr. José M. d'Almada e Castro bought a garden lot, with a small "sugar-loaf" hill on it abutting on the northern boundary of "Delmar." Opposite Mr. d'Almada's land was a plot of ground, also with a hillock, owned by Mr. J. A. Remedios (this "J. A." must not be confused with the pioneer Remedios, "João Jose," the founder of the firm of Messrs. J. J. dos Remedios & Co.). On the summit of the hill, Mr. Remedios built a small house as a week-end residence and picnic resort for his family and friends, and called it "Bimini" after his wife.
The first Portuguese to settle in the Tsim Tsa Tsui area of Kowloon was Mr. Mathias A. d'Azevedo. He was one of two brothers who went to Hongkong from Macao with an early batch of emigrants from the older colony in the 1840's. Mathias d'Azevedo earned prominence by his unwavering faith in the future of Kowloon, which he was never tired of proclaiming in very enthusiastic terms. In him was to be found the good old Portuguese type of settler, sturdy and self-reliant. He bought one of the first Inland Lots in Tsim Tsa Tsui, below Signal Station Hill, and braving the malarial conditions of the early Sixties, when the efficacy of quinine was not generally recognised, he built on his land "Rose Terrace" (named after his wife, Maria Rosa), and occupied one of its four houses until his death. Other members of the family lived in the same house for many years after. By leading the way for others to follow, Mr. Azevedo did for Tsim Tsa Tsui what Mr. Noronha did for Yaumati. He enjoyed the reputation of being one of the first non-Chinese settlers – if not the very first – on Tsim Tsa Tsui Peninsula.
When Mr. Azevedo first went to live at Tsim Tsa Tsui the seashore came almost to the steps of his house, and the sandy shores of the bay were dotted with matshed hutments (much like the present swimming shacks at Castle Peak Bay and along the shores of the New Territories). These matsheds on Tsim Tsa Tsui beach were often used as week-end residences by Hongkong families. They were built on single-acre lots, sold originally by the Government at the uniform price of seventy-five Mexican dollars – as the unit of currency in Hongkong was then – apiece. Those same lots were worth about as many thousands in 1900, so phenomenally had the price of land risen in value! What each lot was worth in 1941 – probably a quarter of a million dollars at the very best – could never have entered the heads of the original purchasers!
It is doubtful whether Mr. Azevedo ever dreamt what the value of his property would eventually turn out to be. Although his land had little commercial value at the beginning, yet with the steady development of the Peninsula and the construction of Kowloon's main thoroughfare, Nathan Road, on which "Rose Terrace" fronted, the property increased in value from year to year. His legatees eventually sold the site for a substantial sum. It was only shortly before the War came to Kowloon (in 1941) that "Rose Terrace" was pulled down. In its place stands to-day the group of shops know as "Chungking Arcade." The syndicate which purchased the site from the Azevedo family had originally contemplated erecting a skyscraper, eighteen storeys high, for shops and apartments, but the scheme was dropped because of the war in China.
Besides Mr. Azevedo, the pioneer Portuguese residents who invested in land at Tsim Tsa Tsui included Mr. João M. A. da Silva, clerk in the Government Audit Office, and later the first Hongkong Government electrician in the Colony,125 Mr. F. X. Chagas, clerk in the Hongkong Government Harbour Office;126 and a Mr. Ribeiro. There were others, but their names escape me.
From small-scale investments in land on the Island of Hongkong and at Kowloon, the Portuguese participated in various projects undertaken by joint-stock companies requiring large capital to ensure success. In fact, their contribution to Hongkong's public companies was neither negligible nor half-hearted, especially in the early years when the Chinese had not yet begun to take great interest in British companies as forms of investment for private fortunes or trust funds.
In the beginnings of British trade in China, all commerce was financed by the immensely wealthy and powerful East India Company; but the advent of independent traders and the subsequent closing down of the great Company created a number of new problems, among which was the need by traders with limited capital at their disposal to pool their resources in order to ensure a sufficiency of money and credit for mutual assistance and protection.
There are in particular two companies in which British merchants in China have every reason to pride themselves: the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (founded in 1864) and the Union Insurance Society of Canton, Ltd. (founded in 1835). The great insurance company, as it has become today, began in a small way in Canton, before the establishment of Hongkong, when the leading British merchants there combined together to supply funds, not for the purpose of profit, they declared, but to safeguard their businesses against abnormal losses.127
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, on the other hand, was a purely Hongkong creation. No sooner did the promoters invite subscriptions towards the capital of the Bank, than the Portuguese both at Macao and in Hongkong applied for shares. As evidence of the faith and confidence reposed by the Portuguese in the promoters of the Hongkong Bank, it suffices to cite two cases: one of a lady at Macao and the other of a Portuguese resident of Hongkong, on whose deaths, many years later, there were found, in the inventories of their estates, scrips of the original Bank shares, as well as "Bonus" and "New Issue" shares allotted to the applicants. In old homes in Macao, people occasionally come across early notes of the Bank, issued in its very first years.128 My friend Mr. J.M. Marques da Silva is my authority for the statement that, in its early days, and especially during the difficult years when Mr. (later Sir) Thomas Jackson, after the Bank had come on hard times, was putting the Bank on its feet again, Portuguese in Macao as well as Hongkong were urged by Mr. Manuel Felix Pereira129 to deposit their money in the Hongkong Bank and not to withdraw under any circumstances, so as to assist the Bank authorities to hold their own during that trying period in Hongkong. The Bank proved a veritable gold mine to the early investors. The British can truly be proud of the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation and the Union Insurance Society. From small beginnings these concerns have become "institutions" of world-wide importance, and it rightfully can be said that the Bank is the chief bulwark of British finance in China. The paid-up capital, which was originally (in 1864) $2,500,000, had by 1941 increased to the imposing figure of $50,000,000 with reserves amounting to £6,500,000 and $10,000,000 in Sterling and Silver respectively, and a note issue of well over $200,000,000 in Hongkong alone.
All through its long history, the Bank has employed Portuguese assistants not only in Hongkong and Shanghai but elsewhere in the Far East; and who will gainsay the value of their service? In fact, this important institution is known affectionately among the Portuguese as "The Bank." May the happy association between "The Bank" and the Portuguese communities in the Orient always remain as close and as friendly as it has been in the past!
As I write of the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank, an interesting item has come to my notice. It appears in the budget of the Santa Casa da Misericordia, Macao, for the financial year 1874-1875, published in the Boletim da Provincia130 (Government Gazette), exactly ten years after the Bank opened its doors in Hongkong. The item refers to a sum of $470 received as interest for the year 1874, being as to $200 interest on $4,000 deposited with the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank at 5%, and as to $270 interest on $5,400 deposited with the Chartered Bank, at 5%.
Besides the Union Insurance Society of Canton, Ltd., and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, mentioned above, the Hongkong Fire Insurance Company and the Canton Insurance Office (both under the management of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co., Ltd.), the China Fire Insurance Co., and several other old companies with head offices in Hongkong were approved favourites for investment by the Portuguese.
The confidence in Hongkong company investments having been established, interest was further developed when in 1865 the Hongkong, Canton and Macao Steamboat Company was started, to provide steamship connection between Macao, Hongkong, and Canton. Among the first directors of the new Company were the Baron de Cercal and Mr. J. J. dos Remedios. As it should be, Portuguese gentlemen have been associated with the Company for many years, both on the Board of Directors and on the executive staff. Mr. P. A. da Costa was Secretary of the Company at one time; he died in a disastrous explosion on the Company's steamer Yotsai in 1884. Portuguese gentlemen, besides the Baron de Cercal and Mr. Remedios, who have served on the Board, include Mr. F. D'A. Gomes, Mr. J. A. Gomes, Mr. J. M. Alves, Mr. C. A. da Roza, and Mr. J. P. Braga. The American shallow-draft river steamers Kinshan (the first boat of this name), White Cloud, and Fire Dart were the Company's earliest acquisitions. The White Cloud was a paddle-wheeled vessel, which was sold out of the Company during the Spanish-American War. A number of Portuguese have been members of the Company's floating staff over the years. For considerable time past the efficient Macao agent of the Steamboat Company has been Mr. A. A. de Mello, grandson of the early director, Baron de Cercal.
It is sought to preserve in this book a record of the part played in the pageant of life in Hongkong by quite a few of "our" people, in different rôles. In this and preceding chapters the names of some of the early Portuguese residents of Hongkong have come under notice. Apart from those whose activities brought them into prominence, there were many whose collective efforts contributed towards the forming of their community into a stabilising element in the settlement of the British colony. Descendants of many of the first generation of Portuguese settlers will recall with pride the names of forbears whose doing should serve as examples for emulation.
Summarised notes regarding a few more prominent early Portuguese residents are presented in the remaining pages of this chapter. No claim is made to complete accuracy in every case; and for any inadvertent errors, and also, probably, important omissions, a plea for indulgence is entered. Much material relating to the Portuguese of Hongkong which the writer had laboriously gathered over a number of years is now, unfortunately, no longer available, and he has had to rely largely on his memory, now by reason of advancing years not a very dependable guide. It is hoped, however, that these notes may fill a gap. Those who may be in a position to add to them or correct any inaccuracies of mine will be doing a service by kindly offering the required information. For any unintentional mistakes or omissions, my apologies are offered.
Arranged alphabetically, the principal names mentioned below are of Portuguese gentlemen who may be regarded as belonging to the earlier period- as distinct from the later period- of the first century of the Portuguese of Hongkong.
The first name to come under notice is that of Mr. Mathias Azevedo (already referred to in this chapter), who was an assistant to Edward H. Pollard, a member of the legal profession. As far as can be remembered, he never left the employ of lawyers' firms. Upon Mr. Pollard's departure from Hongkong, Mr. Azevedo worked for Messrs. Brereton and Wootton, who were joined later by Mr. Victor H. Deacon, by whose name the well-known firm of solicitors, Deacons, is called to-day. Like so many other Portuguese, Mathias Azevedo was an unassuming man, who brought up his small family in a quiet, modest way.
Appearing in the early directories as a mercantile assistant of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co. is the name of Mr. J. A. Barretto. He was one of the Barrettos who had been well known as merchants and philanthropists in Bengal earlier in the century. After playing a leading part in the community life of the Portuguese at Hongkong, Mr. Barretto went to Manila. Announcing his death there in 1881, the Hongkong Telegraph131 summarised his activities and stated that "Mr. J. A. Barretto was mentioned as one of the oldest residents of the colony of Hongkong. Mr. Barretto was for a long time bookkeeper to Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co. in Hongkong. His name was closely associated with the establishment of the Club Lusitano; in fact, he may be said to have been the prime mover in the foundation of that institution, as he advanced no less than three-fourths of the money necessary for its establishment."
I have no means, here in Macao, of ascertaining whether this Mr. J. A. Barretto was the same gentleman who with his old friend José Maria de Castro Basto visited Europe for the purpose of raising funds for floating a company to exploit the mineral resources, principally petroleum, of Portuguese Timor. A few years after their return from Europe, the International Petroleum Company was formed in Hongkong with the object of ascertaining if the oil fields of Timor could be exploited to commercial advantage. Whether from shortage of funds, or the failure to "strike oil", the Company was wound up, since when no more has been heard of the projected oil enterprise.
Mr. Marciano Baptista's name is one which will endure for a long time to come. He was the son of the skipper of a lorcha. As a young man, Marciano, who early showed an aptitude for painting, was a pupil of the famous Irish artist, George Chinnery, at Macao. He was reputed to be Chinnery's best pupil. He achieved a high standard of excellence as a painter in water colours, for the correctness of details and fine colouring of his pictures. Quiet and gentle in manner, Marciano was always ready to help in any good cause. Mr. Baptista will be best remembered by "old-timers" of Hongkong for his splendid work in connection with theatrical shows produced by the Hongkong Amateur Dramatic Society, and in particular one of the Society's most brilliant successes, the pantomime Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
The very effective stage scenery on that occasion was for the most part the work of Mr. Baptista and Captain Clayton, the producer. Mr. Baptista was responsible furthermore for redecorating the dome of the Theatre Royal in Hongkong every year until his death. Marciano's artistic gifts were inherited by one of his sons, and then by a son of that son. I overheard a curious remark quite recently: that only the Baptistas christened "Marciano," of the first, second and third generations of Hongkong Baptistas, were any good at painting, as none bearing a different Christian name has ever shown the same proficiency with paint and brush. The Marciano of to-day, grandson of the old gentleman, is an artist of unquestioned merit, and is just as obliging as his grandfather used to be. In recent years, nearly every illuminated address and farewell presentation gift to retiring officials or other important persons requiring special artistic treatment has been entrusted to Mr. Baptista, whose work has never failed to please by its originality and fine execution. The elder Marciano Baptista had a large family, who were all brought up in the best traditions of the Portuguese, and their children in turn are also stalwarts of the Church and useful members of the Community.
The name of Mr. Antonio D'Eça (known among his intimate friends as "Dom Antonio") is recorded in the China Directory for 1861 as an assistant in the firm of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co. He was afterwards appointed purser of the old paddle-wheel river steamer White Cloud upon its acquisition by the Hongkong, Canton and Macao Steamboat Co. He remained a purser until his death, when, in recognition of his long and faithful service, the post was given by the Company to his eldest son, Mr. Celidonio D'Eça, upon whose death he, in turn, was succeeded as purser by his younger son, Francisco ("Dico").
Mr. Joaquim P. Campos figures in the Hongkong Almanack of 1849 as a mercantile assistant of Messrs. MacVicar & Co. His name appears again in the China Directory for 1861, with those of several other Portuguese assistants in the service of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., when Mr. Maximilian Fischer was Superintendent of its Hongkong branch and the celebrated Mr. (later Sir) Thomas Sutherland was chief assistant. Mr. Campos was an uncle of Mr. F. P. de V. Soares, whom he brought, when a young man, into the service of the P. & O. S. N. Co. many years later.
Mr. Januario A. de Carvalho was one of the early arrivals in Hongkong from Macao. Entering Government service, he rose to become Chief Cashier in the Treasury. On the 7th October, 1878, he was nominated by the Governor, Sir John Pope Hennessy, to be Acting Colonial Treasurer, with a seat on the Executive and Legislative Councils of the Colony. Eitel tells us132 that "the appointment had, however, to be revoked, as it was found that Mr. Carvalho, being an alien (Portuguese), could not take the oath of allegiance." Mr. Carvalho continued to enjoy the greatest consideration, however, and was appointed an official Justice of the Peace of the Colony. His elder son, Edmundo A. Carvalho, stepped into his father's shoes after the latter's retirement and, in due course, also became Chief Cashier in the Treasury. From this post he retired on pension to England, where he died some years after. Two sons of Mr. E. A. Carvalho were educated in England, one of whom died at a comparatively early age; the other established his home in Shanghai. The younger son of old Mr. Januario A. de Carvalho was Mr. Carlos Francisco de Carvalho. He was employed at the head office of the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, rising to the post of Chief Clerk of the "local" staff. He married Guilhermina ("Nina"), the daughter of Mr. João Albino Cabral, a Colonial Treasurer of Macao. On retiring from the Bank's service, Mr. Carlos Carvalho proceeded to London, but did not live to enjoy his retirement long; he died within a year, and his widow died in Portugal not long after. Mr. Carlos Carvalho built and owned his house, which he named "Valverde," on May Road, on the upper middle levels of the Hongkong Island. He left a considerable fortune at his death.
Mr. Marcus A. de Carvalho was the eldest of the four brothers Carvalho. The second was Mr. Januario A. de Carvalho, just referred to, the other two being Mr. Luciano de Carvalho, employed as writer in H. M. Naval Dockyard, and a painter of no mean ability; and Mr. Geraldo M. de Carvalho. Marcus was first engaged as a clerk in the firm of Messrs. Turner & Co., merchants. He served this Scottish firm long and well under several chiefs, including such well known Hongkong personages of those days as the Hon. Mr. Phineas Ryrie, the Chamber of Commerce representative on the Hongkong Legislative Council, Mr. E. C. McCullough, and Mr. James H. Cox, of Kowloon fame. Mr. M. A. de Carvalho was married to a daughter of Mr. João Baptista Gomes, who was at one time Acting Chief Justice of Macao. At the time of his death, Mr. Carvalho was the owner of "Craigengower," a fine private residence with extensive grounds on Caine Road, opposite Mr. C. P. (later Sir Paul) Chater's home on the same road. "Craigengower" was afterwards rented by a Mr. Braidwood, who used it as a school – the Craigengower English School for boys – which thus derived its name from Mr. Carvalho's house. The students of "Craigengower" later formed a sporting club, which perpetuates the name of the school, in the Happy Valley district of Hongkong.
The fourth Carvalho, Mr. Geraldo M. de Carvalho, after a period of clerkship in Hongkong, married a daughter of Mr. Delfino Noronha and went to Kobe (Japan) in the employ of a mercantile firm. Returning to Hongkong he joined the book-office of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co.
Mr. José M. V. de Figueiredo was connected by marriage to the old and well-to-do Macao family of João Baptista Gomes. He was employed by the old firm of Augustine Heard & Co., and was a man of culture. He was much attached to the Club Lusitano in its early days, just as his son, Mr. Eduardo José Figueiredo, also was many years after, and played a prominent part in the activities of the Club. Mr. J. M. V. de Figueiredo became a partner with his brothers-in-law, the Gomeses of Macao, in the firm of Brandão & Co., with offices in Wellington Street, Hongkong, and at Rua da Sé, Macao. All the partners took an active part in the Portuguese community life in the neighbour colonies.
Mr. Marcus Callisto do Rozario, who has been mentioned earlier in this chapter as joint owner with Mr. Delfino Noronha of "Delmar," belonged to the group of the earliest Portuguese settlers in Hongkong. He was at first a partner of Mr. James Stevenson in the firm of Messrs. Stevenson & Co., shipping agents and merchants trading with Australia. Later (in 1857) he established his own firm under his own name, and did a large and profitable business.
Mr. Rozario married Miss Virginia Machado, by whom he had two sons and several daughters. Both sons were educated in England. The elder took his degree in civil engineering, but never practised his profession after returning to Hongkong. The younger son – Mr. Augusto J. Rozario – was married to Miss Eugenie Leiria. He carried on the business established by his father and at one time acted as consul in Hongkong for one of the South American republics. Mr. Rozario had an only daughter, who joined an order of Catholic nuns in the United States of America.
Mr. Albino Silveira will be remembered by the older generation as the Portuguese ancião of Hongkong. His venerable appearance, with his long, white, flowing beard, and his courtly manners, inspired respect. Born at Macao, he resided for a long time in that city, where he cultivated an intimate friendship with Comendador Lourenço Marques and his wife. A group photograph is extant, in the possession of Mr. J. M. Marques da Silva, showing Mr. Silveira with the distinguished couple, Comendador and Mrs. Lourenço Marques, in their old age, in the Marques mansion at Camoens Gardens in Macao.
Mr. Silveira was at one time in the employ of the Union Insurance Society of Canton, Ltd., in Hongkong. Being of a religious nature, he employed his spare hours mostly for the benefit of religious and charitable institutions. The work done by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Hongkong appealed to him most and for several years in succession he was elected the Society's President. A single man, he made his quarters in the old Lusitano Club, in Shelley Street, and enjoyed the affection and esteem of a wide circle of friends. With the passing of the kindly old gentleman the community lost a charming and gracious personality, one whose presence at any gathering invested it with the dignity that is associated with length of years and a noble character.
Besides the persons mentioned in the preceding pages, there were many other Portuguese, men and women, of Hongkong who contributed their modicum of effort to the building up of the city in which they "lived and moved and had their being." Those individuals, and many like them of other races in Hongkong, may not be known; but it would be unthankful to forget them. They worked for their own livelihood, it is true; but the results of their united labours were a contribution to those of the British leaders, and it has been by the combined efforts of many that Hongkong has become what it is. In claiming for the Portuguese of Hongkong a part of the honour of that achievement, I claim no more than is their just due for their share in the common endeavour with their contemporaries of other nationalities.