« PreviousContinue »
THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BURMAH,
SIAM, AND THE SHAN STATES,
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK,
AS A MARK OF THE
HIGH ESTEEM IN WHICH I HOLD THE NOBLE WORK
THE AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSION AND
THE AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MISSION
IN CIVILISING AND CHRISTIANISING
THE PEOPLE OF INDO-CHINA.
The importance of the Eastern markets to European commerce has long been recognised, and since the famous Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the close of the fifteenth century, and the Portuguese occupied Malacca and established factories or trade depots in Burmah at Martaban and Syriam, the trade of Western China and Indo-China has been a prize which has attracted the commercial aspirations of every maritime mercantile community in Europe.
In 1613, the Portuguese were ousted from Burmah, and six years later, the English and Dutch established factories in that country. Some years afterwards the Dutch were expelled, and in the middle of the next century the French became our rivals for a short time. In 1756 the chief of their factory was executed, and their factory was destroyed, never to be resuscitated.
The first Englishman whose name is recorded in history as travelling in Siam and the Shan States is Thomas Samuel, who happened to be at Zimmé when that place was recaptured by the Burmese in 1615. In Purchas’s ‘Pilgrims' it is related that he had proceeded from Siam to Zimmé “ to
discover the trade of that country.” From that time to 1687, when the English were turned out of Siam for killing some of the natives in a scuffle, many English merchants resided there.
Whilst the coast of Burmah was under native dominion, our traders had to content themselves with travelling along the great rivers; and it was not until 1829, three years after we had annexed the Burmese provinces of Tenasserim and Arakan, that steps were taken by us to establish overland trade with Northern Siam, the Shan States, and China. In that year Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General of India, ordered a mission to proceed, under Dr Richardson, from Maulmain to the Siamese Shan States, to ensure friendly relations and trade in that direction; and in 1837, Lord Auckland, then Governor-General, despatched Captain (late General) MacLeod, vid Zimmé and Kiang Hung to China, with the view of opening up trade with that country. Notwithstanding the favourable reports of these and subsequent missions, and the frequent petitions of our mercantile community asking for the connection of Burmah with China by railway, no action has been taken by the Indian Government in the sixty years that have elapsed since Dr Richardson's mission, for improving the overland routes leading from Burmah to the great undeveloped markets which immediately border our possessions on the east. Burmah might as well have remained for these sixty years in native hands, for all the good that its acquisition has been to the furtherance of our trade with the neighbouring regions.
When I retired from Government service at the end of 1879, the French were again in the field. They had annexed the south-eastern corner of Indo-China, had seized Cambodia from the Siamese, were determined to wrest Tonquin from China, which they have since succeeded in doing, and had openly avowed their intention to eject British trade from Eastern Indo-China, and to do all they possibly