The making of Burma

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The making of Burma

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THE MAKING OF BURMA

By the same author:

THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA

DOROTHY WOODMAN

THE MAKING OF BURMA

LONDON

THE CRESSET PRESS MCMLXII

Copyright

© 1962 by Dorothy Woodman

Published in Great Britain by The Cresset Press, 11 Fitzroy Square, London, W. First published 1962

Printed in Great Britain by The Camelot Press Ltd., London and Southampton

Preface

T

he 4th of January 1948 was the most memorable day of my life. On that day, at 4 o’clock in the morning, I was privileged to take part in the celebrations of the transfer of sovereign power from Great Britain to the Union of Burma. To this deeply moving experience I was able to add others in many parts of Burma in the course of three more visits to the country; to the Kachin States and the Chin Hills; to the Naga areas and the Shan States. Again and again I met friends who outlined to me the history of their own area; the Sama Duwa Sinwa Nawng, Duwa Zau Rip, U Zan Hta Sin and Major Shan Lone in the Kachin States; Sao Saimong and Mi Mi Khaing in the Shan States; Vum Ko Hau in the Chin Hills. None of them have the slightest responsibility for what I have written, but I am greatly indebted to them for the interest they stimulated as well as for the data with which they supplied me. The self-appointed task of telling the story of the making of Burma up to the point when, in October i960, she acquired a complete frontier was made easier and happier by the encourage¬ ment and friendship of Burmese scholars; of Dr. Maung Maung, author of Burma in the Family of Nations and The Constitution of Burma\ Dr. Hla Pe, Reader in Burmese at the School of Oriental Studies and chief editor of a new Burmese-English Dictionary; U Tet Htoot, who is supervising the printing of the Encylopedia Burmanica\ Ma Thoung, Khin Maung Nyunt, Dr. Yi Yi, all colleagues in the India Office Library whilst working for their Ph.Ds., and Thet Tun for his M.A. There are also British scholars; the late J. S. Furnivall, who gave me much helpful advice in the early stages of the book and who, a few days before he died in July i960, repeated the encouragement which has endeared so many students to him, and Dr. D. G. E. Hall, who has been generous enough to allow me to consult him on specific points. None of them shares any responsibility for the views I have expressed nor for the errors which I may have made. The Making of Burma could not have been written without access to the unrivalled documentation in the India Office Library in London. I am specially indebted to Mr. S. C. Sutton, its Director, to Mrs. Molly Poulter, and to Mr. D. Matthews, in

VI

THE MAKING OF BURMA

charge respectively of the Manuscript Collection and Microfilms, and to the staunch Paperkeepers, the indispensable link between researcher and material. I am also indebted to the London Library, the Library of India House, Senate House Library, the School of Oriental Studies; the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and the Royal Commonwealth Society. And, finally, I must thank Mrs. Betty Paddon for her help on many occasions, and for preparing the Index, and Miss Maureen Travis who so patiently and accurately deciphered and typed the manuscript.

CONTENTS CHAP.

PAGE

Preface

v

Introduction

i

PART ONE.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

I.

Early Travellers in Burma

n

II.

The First British Traders

24

III.

Rivals on India’s Eastern Frontier

41

IV.

The First Anglo-Burmese War

60

PART TWO.

V. VI. VII. VIII. IX.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

Into the Interior Developing Trade

103

The Second Anglo-Burmese War

122

Pegu and Ava

154

All Roads lead to China

171

PART THREE.

X.

83

ANNEXATION

Extending Frontiers

205

Trade and the Third Anglo-Burmese War

222

Appeasing China

247

XIII.

Britain, China, and the Irrawaddy

275

XIV.

Britain, France, and the Mekong

296

XI. XII.

PART FOUR.

XV. XVI. XVII.

RESISTANCE IN UPPER BURMA

Pacifying the Kachins

335

The Story of Chin Resistance

380

Absorbing the Shan States

422

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Vlll

PAGE PART FIVE.

XVIII. XIX.

FRONTIER ISSUES

The Controversial Frontier

455

China and Burma’s Frontier

518

APPENDICES

To Chapter VII 1.

Minute by the Governor-General, 22 January 1852

540

2.

The Reply of Commodore Lambert to the Criticisms contained in Governor-General Dalhousie’s Minute

545

The Governor-General’s Reply to Commodore Lam¬ bert’s Statement

546

3.

To Chapter VIII An Account of the Guerrilla Leader, Myat-Htoon, by Captain J. Smith

548

To Chapter XVIII 1.

Articles on the Iselin Commission by W. Stark Toller

551

2.

The Hpare Incident, 1900

554

To Chapter XIX 1.

2.

3.

Agreement between the Government of the Union of Burma and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the question of the Boundary between the two countries, 28 January i960

562

Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Non-Aggression be¬ tween the Union of Burma and the People’s Re¬ public of China, 28 January i960

564

Boundary Treaty Between the Union of Burma and the People’s Republic of China, 1 October i960

567

Bibliography

577

Index

583

List of Maps Following page 566 1. Map illustrates the Shen-hu Gate, one of the eight Frontier Gates marking the Momein frontier with Burma. 2. Map shows the Chinese frontier as drawn on the Jesuit map of China (seventeenth century). 3. Captain Pemberton’s map of 1838. This shows a definite boundary. The Chinese part is copied from a French map based on the Jesuit map of China. 4. Chinese frontier as shown on Government of India Survey Map (1870). 5. Map compiled from Chinese sources reprinted in Shanghai, about 1880. 6. Map to illustrate Agreement of 1897 which modified the Convention of 1894. 7. Rough sketch map to illustrate Acting Consul G. Litton’s journey along the undelimited Burma-Yunnan frontier in 1904. 8. Chin Hills, etc. 9. Kachin Hills, Bhamo, Katha. 10. Map to illustrate Frank Kingdon-Ward’s journies in 1937-9 in the Triangle and to the country north of Putao (Fort Hertz). 11. The Political Divisions of the Union of Burma. (Frontier settled by the Boundary Agreement of i960 shown as still un¬ demarcated.) 12. The territory claimed by China in Chinese Atlasses, and the areas settled in the Boundary Treaty of i960.

.

Introduction

O

i October i960, the Prime Ministers of the Union of Burma and the People’s Republic of China signed a frontier agreement in Peking. For the first time in history, these two countries have a delimited and a demarcated boundary. Except for a small area in the Naga Hills—still undemarcated between Burma and India—the making of Burma is at last complete. Her frontiers are fixed with all her neighbours, India, Pakistan, Malaya, Siam, Laos, and China. The Burmese take frontiers seriously. In the Myanma Min Okchokpon Sadan1 the thirteen causes of war are listed in this order; one, boundary disputes; two, desire for riches (loot); three, desire for good elephants and horses; four, desire for princesses, etc. Trade, which as this book will show, is often a fertile cause of war, is only eleventh on the list. The Making of Burma spans the twenty centuries between the date when Ch’ang Ch’ien advised the Emperor of China to open up trade with the nations on the western frontiers and i960, when Burmese trade missions visit Peking as well as the capitals of most western nations. The search for trade explains the successive waves of European travellers from Portugal, Holland, France, and Great Britain, and it is a constant factor in the story of British relations with China in South-East Asia. The earlier chapters of this book cover events which have been described by Western historians who were usually British officials. But the documents on which they are based and most of the books in which the story has been told are difficult of access. Many of them have been long out of print. The treatment and interpretation of these events in this book are often based on a different approach. Wherever possible, I have relied on con¬ temporary descriptions. In what we may call the pre-British period, I have quoted at length the accounts of travellers and traders who were usually from the Western world. In the three wars that Britain fought against Burma culminating in the annex¬ ation of Upper Burma in 1886, I have relied particularly on the first-hand accounts of soldiers who took part in them, and on N

1 By Pagan U Tin. A compilation on the system of government under Burmese Kings based on the Hlutdaw records and royal orders.

2

THE MAKING OF BURMA

the unbowdlerized reports of officials who were involved in the complex network of diplomacy connecting London, Simla, Peking, and Paris with Mandalay and Rangoon. This has, I believe, been a useful corrective to narratives based on Blue Books and White Papers published at the time to justify British policy and then quoted as ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’. Documents on both the Second and the Third AngloBurmese wars which have never before been published bear witness to the charge that truth is war’s first casualty. The final stages of British conquest were only accomplished by the ‘pacification’ of the Chin Hills and the Kachin States, while the Shan States were not so easily or so peacefully subdued as it is generally assumed. The last stages of this ‘pacification’ took place within living memory. I have had the exceptionally good fortune to discuss these events in the very frontier villages where they took place, with old men who remembered them from their childhood and with younger Kachins who had heard stories of resistance from their parents; in the Chin Hills and the Shan States with the descendants of those who led resistance. Such memories are not necessarily reliable, but they have illuminated, and in some cases corrected, the official story. On my return I set about working on the vast official documen¬ tation which is now open for historical research in the India Office Library. I found little factual disparity between what I learnt in the remote parts of Burma and what I could read in the evidence of British military and civilian officials. Their reports indeed were often admirably composed, but by their very nature they did not challenge the objectives of policy. They were arrogant in their assumptions. The real disparity usually began when the letters and reports of men on the spot were turned into official documents for publication. The disingenuous note was introduced in White¬ hall where extracts were selected for the convenience of Ministers when brought face to face with Members of both Houses of Parliament and, in later times, with a Press Lobby. With few exceptions, these original reports have not been published, and, for this reason, I have given what might otherwise seem unduly long quotations. Eye-witness accounts often make comments superfluous. The major problems in the making of Burma have involved the 2,ooo-miles-long frontier with China. After the first AngloBurmese war, commercial interests in Britain increasingly saw Burma as the backdoor to the potential riches and markets of China. Strategists, regarding Upper Burma as a buffer between China

INTRODUCTION

3

and the then Indian Empire, were determined to prevent China from gaining access to the Irrawaddy. Diplomats in Whitehall, who did not always see eye to eye with those nearer the spot in Simla, had to strike a convenient balance. How far and how fast could they move without upsetting China? India also had to be considered. ‘Ripon points out with great force, I think,’ Lord Kimberley (Secretary of State for India) wrote to the Marquess of Dufferin (Viceroy), ‘that it is most important not to alarm the Indian Princes by the absorption of any independent Native territory. We can equally attain our end by establishing our influence over Mandalay by means short of annexation.’1 Annexation was the logical last act in the story of British colonial policy in Burma. While King Mindon tolerantly practised co¬ existence with a foreign country already in occupation of the larger half of his territories, expansionists in Britain seriously considered annexation and commercial interests were its most fervent advocates. Thus annexation of Upper Burma in 1886 did not require the excuse of the unfriendliness of Theebaw, or the ruthlessness of his Queen, the unsatisfactory handling of teak contracts, or even the potential rivalry of French traders. These were important factors which influenced timing, but they were not the causes of annexation. When the third and last act of forcefully taking the whole of Burma into the British Empire was planned, the indispensable condition was not to provoke China from her neutrality. Much new material on this aspect of the making of Burma has become available in the past few years; the Viceregal papers of Dufferin and the translation of some of the Diaries kept by Chinese Minissters in London are but two examples. Dufferin himself was uncertain about the wisdom of annexation as late as November 1885 when he discussed with the Queen’s Private Secretary, General Sir Henry Ponsonby, the alternative of a ‘buffer’ state, turning down the idea because ‘there is as little elasticity in Burma as in a pat of butter’. ‘On the other hand’, he continued, ‘the Chinese show an inclination to raise difficulties, and it would be very unwise to come to loggerheads with them on the subject, if we can possibly avoid it. Our Empire is certainly large enough, and nothing would have induced me to have extended our terri¬ tories if it could have been avoided; but unless we had acted promptly, a very difficult situation would have been created in the valley of the Irrawaddy hereafter, as Theebaw was determined to

1 Dufferin Papers, Microfilm reel 517, India Office Library, Dufferin to Kimberley, 12 January 1885.

4

THE MAKING OF BURMA

get the French in, and was becoming more and more hostile in his attitude towards us.’1 At about the same time he pointed out to Lord Randolph Churchill, who was urgently pressing for annexation, the danger of giving ‘serious offense to Chinese who might thus be induced ‘to stir up the wild frontier tribes against us .2 Four months later, Lord Randolph Churchill had won over the Marquess of Salisbury to his annexationist policy and Dufferin himself wrote to Kimberley that if the Chinese approached the Irrawaddy, he feared they would ‘burst any back door against which they chose to press their shoulder’.3 The diaries of Chinese Ministers in London during this period reveal their concern. Marquis Tseng, at the Court of St. James’s in 1885, was well aware of the preoccupation of the India Office and the Foreign Office with their policy in Burma. He therefore advised the Yamen to send troops from Yunnan to occupy Bhamo and the Upper Salween ‘for commercial purposes so to prevent the British from approaching our boundaries’. But Peking was a long way from Yunnan and the Burmese border, and the Yamen felt confident Britain would realise that China considered Burma as a vassal state sending tribute to the Imperial Court. Further, they had just fought an unsuccessful war with France in Tongking. They therefore assumed caution was the better part of valour even when Marquis Tseng telegraphed: ‘They annex Burma, we occupy Bhamo; they make Burma their protectorate, we make Bhamo ours’. The Marquis wanted China to be allowed her share of Kachin territory before Britain had time to annex the whole area of Upper Burma. Peking, however, was at that time scarcely interested in the areas on her western frontier inhabited by ‘barbarians’. The Chinese Government only became aware of the question when a rival imperialist power from the west arrived on the scene. She then attempted to gamble on the assumption of the myth that Burma was a vassal state. Her main concern at that time—in 1886—was to keep a British mission out of Lhasa. The result was that the two powers agreed on a spheres of influence policy; China did not challenge Britain’s annexation of Upper Burma. The British Government gave up her idea for the time being of sending an agent to Lhasa. The final stages in the making of Burma were primarily con¬ cerned with British and Chinese expansionist objectives. British 1 Dufferin Papers, Microfilm reel 517, India Office Library, Dufferin to General Sir Henry Ponsonby, 22 November 1885. 2 Home Correspondence, 1886, Vol. 85. 3 Dufferin Papers, Microfilm reel 518, Dufferin to Kimberley, 8 March 1SS6.

INTRODUCTION

5

policy in Upper Burma was geared to the calculations of what the Chinese would, or could do on their side. Internal Chinese affairs slowed down China’s moves in the remote parts of the Kachin States. British surveys were followed by a thin skeleton of admin¬ istration. The Triangle, between the two branches of the Irra¬ waddy, was not occupied until the early nineteen-thirties, and then the expeditions were instructed ‘to enquire into Chinese intrigues’. This referred to the activities of a series of Chinese agents who had distributed flags to Kachin Chiefs, telling them to prepare for a Chinese invasion and that those who did not not possess them would be treated as enemies. At the time Britain withdrew from Burma under pressure of Japanese invasion, her frontier with China was still unsettled. It has been customary to overlook the significance of China in any evaluation of British policy in the final stages of the making of Burma. Policy, like profits, was concentrated in Lower Burma, and the same is true of historical interest. Further, the annexation of Upper Burma is such relatively recent history, that the complete documentation is only now gradually becoming available. The story told in The Making of Burma is far from complete. The fifty-year rule which prevents the use of official records until those who are responsible are safely beyond the bounds of human criticism has meant that they are safely buried. Thus it has not been possible in this book to deal fully with the rivalry between Britain and China for the control of the N’Maikha-Salween watershed; with the transactions of the Simla Conference in 1913-14 when Britain acquired, though the Chinese refused to ratify, the McMahon Line (she accepted it in i960, but saved face by calling it the traditional customary line); nor with the relations between Britain and Kuomintang China at the end of the Second World War. The Making of Burma is also incomplete for yet another reason, and one that is extremely important. It cannot give the Burmese side of the story. Now that the Union of Burma is an independent country, her historians have an opportunity to make known to the world the indigenous writing which they were not always en¬ couraged to do under colonial rule. The earliest full-scale historical work, U Kala’s Mahayazawin (The Great Chronicle of Kings) was not compiled till the first half of the 18th century. It covered the whole period of Burmese history from the beginning of the world to a.d. 1714, making full use of literature in verse and prose with its frequent historical references, though the inscriptions on stone, the earliest extant chronicles were less quoted. Then, in

6

THE MAKING OF BURMA

1829, King Bagyidaw, appointed a committee of ‘learned monks, learned brahmans and learned ministers’ to correct any errors in U Kala’s Chronicle, ‘to purify it by comparing it with other chronicles and a number of inscriptions, each with the other, and to adopt the truth in the light of reason and traditional books’. This committee also brought the history of Burma up to 1821. The Hman Nan Chronicle, as it was called, covered the century 17211821, when the making of Burma was greatly influenced by in¬ ternal struggles between Mon and Burman, and, externally, by wars with Siam and China; by expeditions to Manipur and Assam. The compilers stopped deliberately at 1821. The First AngloBurmese War had ended in 1826 with the loss of Arakan and Tenasserim to the British. As Dr. Hla Pe, in a lecture on Burmese chronicles points out, ‘the inclusion of this episode would have been most embarrassing to the king, and the compilers felt that 1821 was a convenient place to stop.’ A tiny section of the Hman Nan Chronicle was translated into English by U Pe Maung Tin and Professor Gordon Luce, and published as The Glass Palace Chronicle. Burmese history was again brought up to date at the request of Bagyidaw’s nephew, King Mindon. This Second Chronicle (1821-1854) as it is called, was compiled by a committee of five— two learned monks, two scholarly ministers and a secretary. The accounts of the Anglo-Burmese Wars (1824-6 and 1852-4) are described in detail without distortion. The Third Chronicle (1854-86), usually known as the Konbaungset was compiled by a Burmese scholar, Mandalay U Tin, from diaries and records of the Court and memoirs and papers kept by princes and ministers in the last period of Burmese rule. U Tin wrote a postscript of King Theebaw’s death in 1916, but he ignored the period between 1886 and 1916. Thus, the official story of Burma by Burmese historians ends in 1886. That is not to say that a number of Burmese writers have not dealt with different aspects of Burmese history, the foremost among them being Mandalay U Tin, U Pe Maung Tin and Taw Sein Ko. Much of their work has appeared in the Journal of the Burma Research Society founded in 1910 by J. S. Furnivall (whose greatest contribution to Burma was his encouragement to Burmese to think for themselves), U May Oung, and others. In 1955 the Burma Historical Commission was set up with the expressed object of producing a standard history of Burma. Although the first volume has not yet appeared, a great deal of the raw material which is the basis of history has continued to appear

INTRODUCTION

7

in the Journal of the Burma Research Society; in the first three volumes of the Encyclopedea Burmanica published by the Burma Translation Society; in a series of books on Burmese heroes, by U Po Kya, U Thein Maung and others. There is valuable data in Burmese periodicals, notably The Guardian, founded and then edited by Dr. Maung Maung, who is himself engaged on writing the history of the national movement. Articles on the Kachin States, the Shan States and the Chin Hills help to redress the balance of the Rangoon-centricity of most Burmese writers. Sao Saimong is shortly publishing a history of the Shan States. To this list of material, mainly on contemporary history, we must add the well-produced and documented publications of the Ministry of Information and the published speeches of U Nu, as well as his fragment of history, Burma under the Japanese rule. Finally, indigenous historical writing is now given international recognition. Between 1956 and 1958, the School of Oriental and African Studies in London held study conferences on historical writing about the peoples of Asia. The new approach of western historians towards indigenous writing was reflected in two papers, ‘The Nature of Burmese Chronicles’ and ‘Modern Historical writing in Burmese’, by U Tet Htoot and U Tin Ohn respectively. Thus The Making of Burma is not only incomplete; it is written at a time of transition in the study of Burmese history. None the less, I hope that it may be of service to Burmese historians in presenting a short study based mainly on the official records of those who once ruled their country and then made so honourable an exit.

PART

ONE

Burma before Colonial Rule

CHAPTER I

Early Travellers in Burma

T

convenient thesis that Burma is a happy little country, geographically self-contained and psychologically uninterested in its neighbours, does not correspond with the facts of history. Burmese Kings behaved like those of other countries; Alaungpaya was as anxious to keep a tight hold on trade and make a good deal with the foreign merchants as William IV proved when he made profitable arrangements with the East India Company. The Burmese fought wars with their neighbours, sometimes aggressive, sometimes defensive, and, at the stage when Great Britain was the enemy, Burma was at the height of her expansionism. Burmese history provides a long story of internal strife, of wars between different groups fighting for domination. When the French and the British were both courting Alaungpaya they supported now the Burmans, and now the Peguers; they occasionally made a common front and often transferred their allegiance—and their arms—to whichever seemed to be the winning side, and therefore in a position to make the most profitable business contacts. The Marcopolarization of history and geography has provided highly coloured spectacles for the writers of Asian history. Marco Polo was a brilliant journalist and he was fortunate in having one of the great biographers of Western exploration. But centuries before he recorded so personally the well-trodden footsteps he followed, many Chinese traders and warriors and searchers after Buddhist truth had plodded across Central Asia, and some of them took the southern routes which brought them into touch with the people of Upper Burma. The best known of them in the pre-Christian era, when such great leaders as Gautama Buddha in India and Con¬ fucius in China had developed scientific thought and moral practice, was Chang Ch’ien. His importance in the context of Burma is that he added so much to China’s knowledge of the geography of states as far west as Persia and Mesopotamia and as far to the south as Upper Burma. In 128 B.c. Emperor Wu Ti of the Han Dynasty sent his Minister Chang Ch’ien to the powers of West Central Asia to find allies against the Huns. He was taken prisoner, and during ten years of captivity he discovered a great he

12

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

deal of information about China’s neighbours, friendly as well as hostile, and about existing trade routes. In the report which he subsequently made to the Emperor he said: ‘When I was in Ta-hia, I saw there a stick of bamboo of Kiung (Kiung-chou in Ssi-ch’uan) and some cloth of Shu (Ssi-ch’uan). When I asked the inhabitants of Ta-hia how they had obtained possession of these, they replied: “The inhabitants of our country buy them in Shon-tu (India).” Shon-tu may be several thousand li to the southeast of Ta-hia.’1 Chang Ch’ien then recommended the opening up of trade be¬ tween China and the Western world, with the result that the Emperor gave orders that exploring expeditions be sent out from Kien-wei of the Shu kingdom (the present Su-chou-fu on the upper Yangtse) by four different routes at the same time. One of them was to pass through the ‘elephant-riding country’ called Tien-yue (possibly meaning the Tien, or Yunnan, part of Yue or South China) ‘whither the traders of Shu (Ssi-ch’uan) were wont to proceed, exporting produce surreptitiously. Thus it was that by trying to find the road to Ta-hia (Bactria) the Chinese obtained their first knowledge of the Tien country (Yunnan)’. And, beyond Yunnan, the route lay through Upper Burma. The Emperor set out to subdue these countries. His purpose, C. P. Fitzgerald describes, after reading historians of the early Han Dynasty, ‘was to make a chain of provinces stretching to India and Ta Hia, or Bactria’.2 It proved too expensive, as twenty centuries later British traders found their outlay of capital too great and the profits too small to build a railway following the same route from Assam to Yunnan. Two centuries later, in a.d. 97 and 121, envoys from Li-chien, now accepted by Sinologues as Alexandria, visited China, and as Professor Gordon Luce points out, they ‘plainly passed through Burma, for they arrived at Yung-ch’ang, the extreme south¬ western prefecture of China, the headquarters of which lies east of Teng-yueh some 60 or 70 miles from the present Burma frontier. Whether they followed the line of the Irrawaddy or cut across the north of Burma, it is difficult to say: the latter is, I think, more probable.’3 1 ‘The story of Chang K’ien, China’s Pioneer in Western Asia.’ Text and translation of Chang K’ien’s travels. Journal of American Oriental Society, September 1917. 2 China. A Short Cultural History, by C. P. Fitzgerald, Cresset Press, 1935, p. 182. 3 Journal of the Burma Research Society, Volume XIV, Part II, 1924. Special number on China and Burma by Professor Gordon Luce.

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL

RULE

13

Whilst efforts continued to find a road between China and the Roman East without intermediary brokers, pilgrims started out to study the land of the Buddha. The most important of them, and, as far as Burma is concerned, the pilgrim who passed nearest to Burma is Hsuang-chuang. In a.d. 648, whilst travelling through India, he visited Samatata, on the coast north of Chittagong. There were certainly contacts between China’s south-western provinces and Assam at that time, and Upper Burma stretched between them. The King of Assam made a special request to Hsuang-chuang to visit him. The Chinese pilgrim, then at Nalanda, the most famous of Buddhist monasteries, at first pleaded that he was due to return to China. But his fellow monks persuaded him that it was his duty to visit this King who was not a Buddhist, but a Brahman. When he arrived in Kamarupa (Assam) the King told him: ‘At present in various states of India a song has been heard for some time called the “Music of the conquests of Ch’in (Tsin) wang’ of Mahachina—this refers to Your Reverence’s native country I pre¬ sume.” ‘The pilgrim replied: “Yes, this song praises my sovereign’s excel¬ lence.” ’x The song suggested the likelihood of contacts between Nan-chao (Yunnan plus some adjacent areas) and Assam, and the path linking them was across Upper Burma. Certainly, in the eighth and ninth centuries, Upper Burma was largely influenced by Nan-chao. Professor Luce, quoting Chinese sources, describes how the Nan-chao armies crossed to the west of the Mekong and then northwards. A line of walled forts was built up to the Tibetan border, and various tribes, subdued by the Nan-chao armies, forced to enlist and fight with them as far away as Hanoi. These campaigns reopened the road to India described in Chinese records and summarized by Professor Luce: ‘One route led due west from Yung-ch’ang to T’eng-yueh, and thence approximately to Waingmaw (Li-shui town), Mogaung (An-shi) and the Tuzu gap to Gauhati and Magadha; the other went S.W. to the Pyu capital, and so to Gauhati by the Chindwin (Mi-no chiang) and Manipur. It was a time of development for the north of Burma. Gold ore was sought in the mountains of the (Nmai Hka (Lu-tou chiang)): seven or eight-tenths were exacted by the officials, and the miners were exempt from further taxation or military service. Gold dust was 1 On Yuan Chwang’s Travels in India, A.D. 629-645, by Thomas Watters, R. Asiatic Society, 1904, p. 348. (Yuan Chwang is an alternative spelling of Hsuang-chuang.)

14

THE MAKING OF BURMA

washed from the sands of the Irrawaddy (Li-shui), criminals and prisoners of war being sent for the purpose. Amber was mined in the mountains “18 stages W of Yung-ch’ang”. Salt wells were worked at Mei-lo-chu, between Myitkyina and Mogaung; also in Hsenwi and the hills near the ’Nmai Hka; lump salt of fixed weight was used as the medium of exchange. Horses were bred plentifully around T’eng-yueh by the P’u and Wang-chu, long-horned oxen by the Wang-wai-yu, elephants for ploughing by the Mang of Hsenwi, yaks ? zo) on the Upper Chindwin.’1 The boundaries of the Nan-chao kingdom are not certain, but it exercised a good deal of control in Upper Burma, north of Bhamo, and up the Hukong Valley leading into Assam. Early in a.d. 800 the Chinese Governor of Hsi-ch’uan included Pyu musicians in a music troupe which appeared at the T’ang Court. Subsequently, the Pyu King sent a formal embassy to China via Nan-chao, and this mission is described at some length in Chinese texts of that period. The Chinese Court, impressed by the music of the Pyus, were interested to know more about their country, and the poet Po-Chu-I composed a poem on a Burmese Pwe. Fortunately, Arthur Waley has given us a translation: ‘Music from the land of P’iao, music from the land of P’iao; Brought hither from the great ocean's south-west corner Yung Ch’iang's son Shunant’o Has come with an offering of southern tunes to fete the New Year Our Emperor has taken his seat in the courtyard of the palace. He does not press his cap strings to his ears, he is listening to you.'

The poem then relates how the Emperor is so attracted by this music from the land of P’iao, he ignores the old farmers hoeing the land. The poem concludes: ‘Music of P’iao, in vain you raise your din. Better were it that my Lord should listen to that peasant's humble word.'’2.

This was the last visit, as far as we know, which the Pyus paid to the Chinese Court. In 832, Chinese texts say that the Nan-chao or tribes under Nan-chao ‘plundered the Pyu kingdom (or capital) and took captive 3,000 persons altogether; they banished them into servitude’ at Yunnan Fu where ‘their sons and grandsons still eat fish and insects. These are the remnants of their tribe.’ A variety of events now began to change the picture of Burma, 1 ‘Burma down to the fall of Pagan’, by G. H. Luce and Pe Maung Tin, Journal of the Burma Research Society, December 1939. 2 Journal of the Burma Research Society, December 1939. Also see ‘A Medieval Burmese Orchestra’, by D. C. Twitchett and A. H. Christie, Asia Major, i960.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

15

and her relations with her neighbours. The first was the movement of the Burmans who came down from the region between the ’Nmai Hka and the Salween into the plains and built Pagan. Burmese Chronicles record that this was the beginning of the Pagan Dynasty, which continued for the next four centuries. To the north, the rising power of Islam restricted east-west contacts along the land routes on which Upper Burma was most nearly situated. Trade now began to develop between the Arabs and the Chinese by way of the sea; via Ceylon, the Nicobars and the Andamans, thus by-passing the Burmese coastline. Another event which influenced Burma’s history was the Mongolian invasion of the kingdom of Wesali in 957. This changed the focus of its interest from Bengal to Pagan. Arakan became a feudatory state to Pagan, although it had an individual life and it was on its own merits a Holy Land for Buddhist pilgrims for the next five centuries. They visited the country to pay homage to the Mahamuni Buddha, believed to have been a likeness of the Buddha made during his lifetime. Burma’s relations with other powers during this period were primarily concerned with religious relics. During the Pagan period, Anawrahta, one of the most popular and adventurous of Burmese kings, conquered the north of Arakan, hoping that he might thus be able to obtain the Mahamuni Buddha. He then marched through Bhamo towards Nanchao (Yunnan) in search of a golden tooth of the Buddha. He did not succeed, but the ruler of Nanchao gave him a jade image which was considered sacred because it had been in contact with the tooth. Similarly, Anawrahta, responding to a request from the King of Ceylon for Buddhist scriptures, asked in return for the Buddha tooth. He was given a duplicate which has remained since that time in the Shwezigon Pagoda in Pagan. Pagan became the centre of a kingdom which roughly stretched from the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy to the Delta, and it included, in varying degrees of control, Shan states to the East and Arakan. Relations with Ceylon were mainly confined to religious affairs, though in the later period of the Pagan Dynasty trade developed. Buddhist monks from India, sometimes fleeing from persecution, arrived in Pagan as exiles and settled there. There were contacts between China and Pagan, both overland through Yunnan and by sea. Then, in the middle of the thirteenth century an event occurred which had far-reaching results, not only on Burma, but on China. Across the plains of central Asia Mongol troops moved swiftly, invading one country after another, and defeating the Arabs who had shared with China the control

i6

THE MAKING OF BURMA

and the trade of this vast area. In 1253, the Mongols invaded Yunnan and introduced new neighbours on Burma’s eastern frontier. They assumed that the Burmese would bow to their greater military strength and accept their overlordship. But when Mongol envoys arrived in Pagan, the then King, Narathihapate, made them wait for an audience and sent them back with one of his ministers to Peking to worship a Buddhist tooth. Kublai Khan sent a second group of envoys, reminding Narathihapate that he himself had received the Burmese and hinting that refusal would mean war and Burma’s defeat. The King’s response was to execute the Mongol envoys. War did not happen at once, but four years later, when, in 1277, the Burmese advanced into the state of Kanngai on the Taping River to revenge the local chieftain who had sworn loyalty to China, Kublai Khan gave orders to march. War followed. Pagan was destroyed. After Kublai Khan’s victory, the Shans spread over Upper Burma, and some of their leaders paid tribute to the court in Peking. Recent research throws light on this subject of tribute. Mr. J. K. Fairbank and S. Y. Teng, both of Harvard University, in a preface to their study ‘On the Ch’ing Tributary System’, analysed the traditional role of tribute in Chinese history: ‘Since all foreign relations in the Chinese view were ipso facto tributary relations’, they wrote, ‘it followed that all types of international intercourse, if they occurred at all in the experience of China, had to be fitted into the tributary system.’ They then quoted from the prefaces to the sections on tributary ritual in the Ta Ming chi’li, Collected Ceremonies of the Ming Dynasty. Under section 2, ‘Foreign Envoys presenting tribute at Court’, the following occurs: ‘In the Yuan period from the time of the Emperor T’ai-tsu (Jenghis Khan 1206-1227) the Uigurs, the Moslems, the Tanguts, the Western Regions and Koryo all sent envoys to present tribute. After the time of the Emperor Shih-tsu (Kublai Khan 1260-1294), Annam, Champa, Yunnan, Laos, Northern Burma, Tali and Fu-lang, all sent envoys to offer up tribute.’1 After the fall of Pagan, in 1287 the Arabs were the greatest explorers of the Asian world. Ibn Batuta, the greatest of all medieval travellers (he covered 75,000 miles between 1304 and 1347) may have touched the Arakanese coast. The first Westerner to give an eye-witness description of Burma was Nicolo di Conti. In the first half of the fourteenth century this Venetian sailed along the coast of India to Ceylon, thence to Sumatra by way of 1 Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1941, Vol. VI.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

*7

the Andamans. On his return journey, thanks to the winds rather than to his owTn choice, he reached Arakan, and sailed up a river for six days to a large city ‘called by the same name as the river, and situated upon the bank thereof’. ‘Quitting this city he travelled through mountains void of all inhabit¬ ants (the Arakan Yomas) for the space of seventeen days, and through open plains for fifteen days more, at the end of which time he arrived at a river larger than the Ganges, which is called by the inhabitants Dava. Having sailed up this river for the space of a month he arrived at a city more noble than all the others, called Ava, and the circumfer¬ ence of which is fifteen miles.’1 From this time onwards, the emphasis in Burmese history is largely determined by the age of exploration which began in Europe in the fifteenth century, and developed into the age of trade and then into the age of colonialism. The sea route to the East now became a highway for Italians, then Portuguese, then Dutch, and, lastly, British travellers. Lower Burma played a larger and larger role, and Pegu is mentioned again and again in traders’ journals. The most interesting traveller of this period was Varthema, who gave his reason for travelling ‘a desire to behold the various kingdoms of the world’, adding that he wanted to see those countries ‘which had been the least frequented by the Venetians’. Did he imply that Marco Polo had exhausted the subject of China, and that he, Ludovico di Varthema, from the same city, meant to find new pastures? With most of his travelling we are not here concerned, but he visited Tenasserim and Pegu, where the King gave him an audience. Varthema and his com¬ panion showed him their corals, which the King offered to barter for rubies. Varthema offered him the corals, whereupon the King determined not to be outdone ‘in liberality’ gave him about 200 rubies. ‘Wherefore’, Varthema wrote, ‘by this he may be considered to be the most liberal king in the world, and every year he has an income of about one million in gold. And this because in his country there is found much lacca, a good deal of sandalwood, very much brazil-wood, cotton and silk in great quantities, and he gives all his income to his soldiers.’2 Varthema was the last of what we might describe as the casual travellers, who stopped in Pegu for a few days, and found the king 1 Cathay and the Way Thither, Volume IV, Hakluyt Society, Series II, Volume XLI. 2 The Travels of Ludovico di Varthema, Hakluyt Society, Vol. XXXII (Old Series).

i8

THE MAKING OF BURMA

most accessible, combining generous hospitality with a sharp eye to business. Characteristically, the king ordered a room to be given to Varthema and his travelling companion, ‘furnished with all that was requisite for so long as we wished to remain there’. There is no suggestion of hostility to the foreigner either by officials or by the people in this or in earlier records. But after Varthema, the type of traveller changed. The riches of the East lured the Europeans. First, the Portuguese, of whom Hugh Clifford writes in a chapter called ‘The Filibusters’: ‘It was in a spirit of frank brigandage that the Portuguese, from the highest to the lowest, swarmed into Asia. They were utterly without any sense of responsibility in so far as the lands and the men who were their appointed victims were concerned, for the belief in the mission of the white races to order the destinies of the East for the greater good of the Orientals is a comfortable doctrine of quite modern growth.’1 The same writer points to a vitally important distinction that must be made between these traders, even if, as often happened, they were associated with Christian missions, and the Asians who had invaded parts of South-East Asia. ‘It was here’, he wrote, ‘that the white men differed so materially from the Arabs, the natives of India, and the Chinese, all of whom had during many centuries carried on an extensive commerce in Asia. With none of these people were exploration and conquest synonymous terms. . . . The Portuguese, on the other hand, and many of the white nations after them, trusted, not so much to peaceful commerce, but to lawless pillage for their speedy enrichment, and the annual fleets sent out from Lisbon started on nothing more nor less than a succession of filibustering raids.’2 Plenty of evidence points to the importance of Pegu as a trad¬ ing centre in the fifteenth century. For example, Hieronimo di Stefano, a Genoese, who, having bought corals and other mer¬ chandise in Cairo, started for India, and ultimately ‘reached a great city called Pegu’. ‘This part is called Lower India. Here is a great lord, who possesses more than ten thousand elephants, and every year he breeds five hun¬ dred of them. This country is distant fifteen days journey by land from another, called Ava, in which grow rubies and many other precious stones. Our wish was to go to this place, but at that time the two princes were at war, so that no one was allowed to go from the one 1 Further India, by Hugh Clifford, in ‘The Story of Exploration’ Series, 1904, p. 48. 2 Ibid., pp. 51-52.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

!9 place to the other. Thus we were compelled to sell the merchandise which we had in the said city of Pegu, which were of such a sort that only the lord of the city could purchase them. He is an idolator, like the before-mentioned. To him, therefore, we sold them. The price amounted to two thousand ducats, and as we wished to be paid we were compelled, by reason of the troubles and intrigues occasioned by the aforesaid war, to remain there a year and a half, all which time we had daily to solicit at the house of the said lord.’1 The Portuguese now became the dominant European power in South-East Asia and often visited Burma. Dalboquerque, a king among pirates received Ambassadors from the King of Pegu, the King of Siam and others, and had close relations with China. When an English trader named Walter Payton travelled in the ‘Expedition’ on his twelfth voyage to the East Indies in 1612, he made out a ‘briefe declaration of the Ports, Cities and Townes, inhabited and traded unto by the Portugall’—‘the slanderous Portugals’, as he called them, ‘betwixt the Cape of Good Hope and Japan’, such as he could learn ‘by diligent enquiry’. Of Burma, he wrote: ‘In Pegu, they have a Factory, and likewise in Aracon and in the River of Martaban.’2 One of the most perceptive travellers in Pegu in the latter half of the sixteenth century was a Venetian. Caesar Frederick’s description of Pegu is intelligent reporting; he gives a genuine picture of the social and business life of the times. The Peguers were good business-men and the King himself played a con¬ siderable role in the country’s commerce. Caesar Frederick set out from Venice in 1563 ‘very desirous to see the East parts of the World’, and for eighteen years he travelled, round India, to Malacca and beyond to Siam, always making a careful record of the customs of the people, and of their resources. He reached the Gulf of Tavoy four years later, then travelled on to Martavan, and from there to Pegu, doing the journey by sea rather than by land because it was ‘better for him that hath merchandise to goe by Sea, and lesser charge’. In the old city of Pegu he found the ‘Merchant strangers, and Merchants of the Countrie, for there are the greatest doings and the greatest trade’. In the new city ‘is the Palace of the King’, he wrote, ‘and his abiding place with all his Barons and Nobles, and other gentlemen’. He described the King’s passion for elephants, above all for a white elephant, and the royal pastime of elephant hunting. And he himself regarded 1 India in the Fifteenth Century, edited by R. H. Major. P. 6 of Journey of Hieronimo Di Santo Stefano. 2 Purchas His Pilgrimes, Hakluyt Society, Vol. IV, p. 308.

20

THE MAKING OF BURMA

the elephants with great respect: ‘In my judgement there is not a beast so intellective as are these Elephants, nor of more under¬ standing in all the world; for he will doe all things that his keeper sayth, so that he lacketh nothing but humane speach.’1 This sixteenth-century traveller was in fact an early edition of Elephant Bill. Caesar Frederick was naturally concerned to show the poten¬ tialities of trade with Pegu and other Burmese ports. From the East Indies, he said that there was no merchandise that was ‘good to bring to Pegu, unless it be at some times by chance to bring Opium of Cambaia’. Most important of all in the trade from Saint Tome was ‘red yarne, of Bombast died with a root which they call Saia, as aforesaid, which colour will never out’. Then follows this description of Martavan trade: ‘From Malaca to Martavan, which is a Port in Pegu, there come many small ships, and great, laden with Pepper, Sandolo, Porcellan of China, Camfora, Brueno, and other merchandise. The ships that come from Mecca enter into the Port of Pegu and Cirion, and those ships bring cloth of Wooll, Scarlets, Velvets, Opium, and Chickinos, by the which they lose, and they bring them because they have no other thing that is good for Pegu; but they esteem not the losse of them, for that they make such great gaine of their commodities, that they carrie from thence out of that Kingdome. . . .’2 Since all kinds of difficulties arose later on when British traders came to Pegu and found the need to come to terms with the King, it is interesting to see what Caesar Frederick had to say on the King’s role in trade: ‘God deliver every man that he give not a wrong note, and entrie, or thinke to steale any Custome; for if theur doe, for the least trifle that is, he is utterly undone, for the King doeth take it for a most great affront to bee deceived of his Custome; and therefore they make diligent searches, three times at the lading and unlading of the goods, and at the taking of them a land. In Pegu this search they make when they goe out of the ship for Diamonds, Pearles, and fine Cloth which taketh little roome; for because that all the Jewels that come into Pegu, and are not found of that Countrie, pay Custome, but Rubies, Saphrys and Spinels pay no Custome in nor out; because they are found growing in that Countrie.’3 The Venetian trader’s picture implies a well-organized Customs. In Pegu the King had eight brokers, called Tareghe, who were 1 Purchas His Pilgrimes, Vol. X, p. 124. 2 Ibid., p. 128. 3 Ibid., p. 129.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

21

bound to sell the merchandise which came to the city ‘at the common or the current price’. Shortly after Caesar Frederick’s visit to Burma, the first English¬ man arrived in Pegu. Ralph Fitch had joined a small Portuguese trading vessel on the Hugh on 28 November 1586, and he visited Pegu both on his outward and his return journey to Chiengmai. Ralph Fitch was one of a group of men to whom Queen Eliza¬ beth gave a Charter to travel by land into and from the East Indies. And so, he writes: ‘In the yeere of our Lord 1583,1 Ralph Fitch of London marchant being desirous to see the countreys of the East India . . . did ship my selfe in a ship of London called the Tyger.’ The first sight he had of Burma was in 1587 when the boat approached Negrais Point—a ‘brave barre’ as he called it. He then travelled in and out of the creeks in the Delta, stopping in Pegu, at that time a port, and on to Syriam (Cirion) a ‘good towne, and hath a faire porte into the sea, whither come many ships from Mecca, Malacca, Sumatra, and from divers other places. And there the ships staie and discharge and send up their goods in Paroes to Pegu.’ The greater part of the trade was with the East Indies, China and the Middle East. The trade with India, which went to the bar of Negrais and to Cosmin, he described as ‘Opium of Cambaia, painted cloth of S. Thome, or of Masulipatam, and white cloth of Bengala, . . . cotton, yarne red coloured with a root which they called Saia, which will never lose his colour’. But the Shwe Dagon made the most vivid impression on him and he observed in detail the lives of the Buddhist priests and the people: ‘About two dayes journey from Pegu there is a Varelle or Pagode, which is the pilgrimage of the Pegues: it is called Dogonne, and is of a woonderfull bignesse, and all gilded from the foot to the toppe. And there is an house by it wherein the Tallipoies which are their Priests doe preach. This house is five and fifty paces in length, and hath three pawnes or walks in it, and forty great pillars guilded, which stand between the walks; and it is open on all sides with a number of small pillars, which be likewise gilded; it is gilded with golde within and without. There are houses very faire round about for the pilgrims to lie in: and many goodly houses for the Tallipoies to preach in, which are full of images both of men and women, which are all gilded over with golde. It is the fairest place, as I suppose, that is in the world; it standeth very high, and there are foure ways to it, which all along are set with trees of fruits, in such wise that a man may goe in the shade above two miles in length. And when their feast day is, a man can hardly passe by water or by land for the great presse of people, for they come from all places of the kingdome of Pegu thither at their feast. In Pegu

22

THE MAKING OF BURMA

they have many Tallipoies or priests, which preach against all abuses. Many men resort unto them. When they enter into their kiack, that is to say, their holy place or temple, at the doore there is a great jarre of water with a cocke or a ladle in it, and there they wash their feet; and then they enter in, and lift up their hands to their heads first to their preacher, and then to the Sunne, and so sit downe. The Tallipoies go very strangely apparrelled with one camboline or thinne cloth next to their body of a browne colour, another of yellow doubled many times upon their shoulder; and those two be girded to them with a broad girdle; and they have a skinne of leather hanging on a string about their necks, whereupon they sit, bareheaded and bare footed; for none of them weareth shoes; with their right armes bare and a great broad sombrero or shadow in their hands to defend them in the Summer from the Sunne, and in the Winter from the raine. When the Tallipoies or priests take their Orders, first they go to schoole untill they be twenty yeares olde or more, and then they come before a Tallipoie appointed for that purpose, whome they call Rowli; he is of the chiefest and most learned, and he opposeth them, and afterward examineth them many times, whether they will leave their friends, and the company of all women, and take upon them the habit of a Tallipoie. . . . Their houses be for the most part by the hie wayes side, and among the trees and in the woods. And they go with a great pot made of wood or fine earth, and covered, tied with a broad girdle upon their shoulder, which cometh under their arme, wherewith they go to begge their victuals which they eate, which is rice, fish, and herbs. They demand nothing, but come to the doore, and the people presently doe give them, some one thing, and some another; and they put all together in their potte; for they say they must eate of their almes, and therewith content themselves. They keepe their feasts by the Moone; and when it is new Moone they keep their greatest feast; and then the people send rice and other things to that kiack or church of which they be; and there all the Tallipoes do preach, many of the people cary them gifts into the pulpit where they sit and preach. And there is one which sitteth by them to take that which the people bring. It is divided among them. They have none other ceremonies nor service that I could see, but onely preaching.’1 Fitch’s report was only one of many made by travellers to SouthEast Asia during this period. The distinguished Dutch geographer, J. Huyghen van Linschoten, and two Englishmen, Raymond and Lancaster all stimulated British and Dutch trading voyages to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. The Portuguese, leading in the science of exploration in Europe, had kept a monopoly of the trade with Asia. Their settlements included one in Pegu. The first challenge resulted from events in

1

Purchas His Pilgrimes, Vol. X, pp. 192-4.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

23

Europe. Following the defeat of the Armada, and Philip IPs decree forbidding the Dutch to trade with Lisbon, the Dutch themselves despatched a fleet to the East Indies in 1595. It was the beginning of Portugal’s downfall in Asia and of Dutch supremacy in the East Indies. The second challenge came from Britain, and its success led to the foundation of Britain’s empire in Asia. Competition was fierce. Stripped of the glamour which exploration in the Eliza¬ bethan days has been given by historians and the authors of schoolboy tales, the story of the European’s arrival in Southern Asian seas is one of hardships, brigandage and profits. Gradually, the Dutch transferred most of their interests to the East Indies. Meanwhile, the first British traders to stay in Burma appeared on the scene.

B

CHAPTER II

The First British Traders

T

basis of colonial rule was now established. Whereas the Portuguese can be called pirates and private traders the Dutch and the British were organized in companies which had the sanction of their respective governments. Trade was a weapon of foreign policy and piracy gave way to the search for, or the im¬ position of, special concessions. In 1617 the East India Company sent Henry Forest and John Staveley to Burma and this date can be described as the beginning of British-Burmese trade. Henry Forest and John Stavely went to Rangoon to obtain the goods left by a servant of the Company who died in Syriam whilst trading on their behalf. The two men arrived in October 1617 and sent back letters to their Company’s Headquarters in Masulipatam, where the official in charge was a Norfolk man named William Methwold. He recorded them in his Relations of the Kingdome of Golchonda and other neighbouring nations with the Gulfe of Bengala, Arracan, Pegu, Tennasserim, etc., and the English Trade in these parts.1 The coming of foreigners was an important event. The King sent four galleons with presents to greet Forest and Staveley and ‘word that he did much rejoyce’ at their visit. After a week, the King’s brother sent for the two men. He sat ‘in a large house of bamboson in great state, bedeckt with jewels in his eares, with gold rings with rich stones on his fingers’. After sending presents to the King and receiving presents from him, they were finally sent for on 27 December 1617 and given an audience, but they did not find any opportunity to raise the point of their visit. Three months later they were still waiting to settle the problem of the property left by Thomas Samuel when he died in Burma. They were afraid that they might be kept as slaves. They had spent their money and had done no trade. But they found ways and means of staying in the country, and finally left under a cloud; William Methwold described Forest as losing money ‘at dice’, as ‘a vearie villane, debaucht, most audacious and dishonest’. He accused both of them, in a letter to the London Headquarters of he

1 Hakluyt Society, Series II, Vol. LXVI, p. 45.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

25

the Company as having ‘framed and exhibited a formlesse and false accompt’ and of being ‘royotous, vitious and unfaithful’.1 However, they arrived back in Masulipatam in April 1620 ‘with a letter from the King, written upon a palmito leafe signifying his desire to give free trade and entertainment to the English nation, if they would with their shipping repaire unto his country’.2 And he sent a present of a ring set with a ruby, two mats, two betel boxes and two pieces of damask. The King’s invitation to trade was not accepted until 1647. Internal conditions were difficult, but the slowness of the East India Company reflected their rivalry with the Dutch and to a less degree with the Portuguese traders who had settled down to a prosperous trade some years earlier with the East Indies and had successfully restricted the development of English trade. Finally, on 15 September 1647 a ship sailed from Masulipatam with a cargo of goods for Burma and with instructions to open a factory in Syriam. The ship was called the Endeavour and the three men were Thomas Breton, Richard Potter and Richard Knipe. In spite of high Customs duties and a number of misadventures, the profits of the first trading with Burma amounted to ‘upwards of 40% if all debts stand good’. The King, who now lived in Ava, sent for the traders, exchanged presents, and gave them permission to build a house and a dock in Syriam. The Syriam venture was highly successful at first. The Burmese were anxious to buy cotton goods and were willing to sell ganza, rice and large Martaban jars which were widely used for carrying fresh water and grain on the Company’s ships as well as for household purposes. One of the difficulties was that the exports from Burma were limited; they were mainly rubies, gold, tin, lac, wax, and buffalo horns. Otherwise, a Company official wrote, ‘the trade would bee the profitablest of any you now have or (since that of Manela) have formerly prosecuted in many years’. These early optimistic reports were soon belied. The Burmese were more wide awake than the merchants assumed. After five years’ experience, the Government at Ava forbade the sale of tin and ivory to foreign traders and set ‘diverse men watchers ... on the way to Martavan, from whence most part of those commodi¬ ties were formerly brought’. The export of ganza was stopped. Then the Burmese became less anxious to buy goods, and for this there was a very good reason. The merchants on the Coro¬ mandel Coast began to dump inferior cloth on the Burmese 1 Factory Records: Miscellaneous, p. 55. 2 Hakluyt Society, Series II, Vol. LXVI, p. 45.

26

THE MAKING OF BURMA

market. This is admitted in a letter from Greenhill and Gurney to the Company in January 1652: ‘Lastly be pleased to take notice that wee are advised from the Bay the Broadcloth sent thither proves soe damnified as it will not vend there, for which cause it is intended to Pegu.’ And the importers in Syriam, alive to this dumping of bad goods, are reported to have said: ‘If it come from Metchlapatam, wee will not medle with it.’ Unfortunately, Burmese records have not yet presented Burm¬ ese reactions to foreign trade during this first quarter of a century of their relations with Europeans. The King obviously kept a tight hold on affairs. He was perfectly willing to trade, but was not prepared to give the free hand the Europeans assumed was their right. He was the chief trader; he had the special royal privilege of making anything he chose his own monopoly. He took a per¬ sonal interest in business; when the Governor of the Dutch East India Company’s Batavia Council complained that trade was at a loss, it was the King who answered. Some Kings were shrewder than others. The Dutch enjoyed a most ‘favoured nation’ position in Burma and, until the outbreak of the Anglo-Dutch war in 1652, they were willing to carry some of the British trade in their ships. When the war ended two years later, the East India Company’s affairs were faced with such difficulties that the decision was taken to close down the Syriam factory in 1657. This did not mean the end of trade: a number of private traders stayed on in Syriam, many of them smugglers, sometimes separately, sometimes in league with Dutch traders. Ordinary transactions—the trade in Indian piece-goods of cloth were the most important—were sub¬ ject to a variety of Customs. In 1676, the Dutch decided to shut down their trading station in Burma. The British had a free hand. This was a most convenient moment; they were badly needing lac and saltpetre for their Indian factories. In February 1680, the then Agent-Governor in Fort St. George, Sir Streynsham Master, sent a Portuguese named Joao Pereira to Burma to start negotiations. His envoy knew Burma intimately and the Company was prepared to pay him generously for any concessions he obtained. By any standards, the demands he was told to make of the King were sweeping. They included the right to ‘voyage to and fro at their pleasure in pur¬ suance of their trade, sell, buy, and barter according to the Custome of the Country’ free from any ‘let or hindrance’ by the King’s Governors or Ministers, and to tarry there ‘as long as they think good and depart the Country again when they please’.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

27

The Burmese were in no mood to consider such concessions. The argument that similar concessions had been obtained by the Company in India did not impress the King and his Ministers. They believed themselves strong enough to dictate terms, and they were undoubtedly realistic enough to allow trade only on terms which they considered would safeguard themselves and make maximum profits. On both sides ‘business was business’, but the Company was in no position to ride roughshod over the Burmese, however irritating some of their hesitations might be. The Burmese were unwilling to bind themselves to any written agreement. If the Company sent its own representatives to Ava, their demands would be considered. This was the reply taken back by Joao Pereira. He did not return alone. He was accompanied by Burmese merchants carrying quantities of rubies. The Customs authorities in Madras were told to treat them well, and in due course their trade in rubies led to that of other products, notably lac and musk. This new development encouraged the Directors of the Company to explore other opportunities of trade with Burma; they had been less than lukewarm about Sir Streynsham’s first efforts. The next time—in 1684—an English trader, Captain Peter Dod, was sent to Ava to negotiate on the basis of the original Articles of Trade and to find out whether there might be facilities for opening up trade with China via Bhamo. Captain Dod returned to Madras and appeared again in 1685. His negotiations came to nothing. In 1686, Dalrymple records: ‘All thoughts of settling were given up, as they insisted, very reason¬ ably, that some Person of consequence should be sent; at this time a Letter from Ava was received by Dod.’ What was written in the letter is not known. We may be sure that the King met the demands with a shrewd idea of their implica¬ tions. Dalrymple refers to a letter received in 1688, which might have some bearing on it: ‘In 1688 A Letter was received from the Government of Syriam, professing great Friendship, and inviting to a Settlement which was taken under consideration, and many arguments urged to the company in favour of it, though this Project was rejected by them. . . .’1 These discussions did not materialize Company was far more interested in other of all because they realized the potential who, like themselves, were courting Siam.

for some years. The parts of Asia, not least rivalry of the French, Interest in Burma was

1 Oriental Repertory, Vol. II, pp. 103-4.

28

THE MAKING OF BURMA

directly related to strategic requirements. For this reason, Negrais was the most conveniently situated spot in Burma, and later in 1686 the Company decided to send an expedition to claim the island. With the sordid story of this expedition and the double¬ crossing of the adventurer, Samuel White, we are not here con¬ cerned. The island was occupied, and claimed, with the loss of fifty Englishmen. But Negrais was not settled for another half a century, by which time Britain’s position in India had become more stabilized. The Company became more and more alive to the commercial advantages of opening up trade with Burma, and the Burmese themselves appreciated their own chances and sent out feelers to the Company to put trade on a sound basis, not depend¬ ent on the whims or racketeering of private individuals. Thus, when, in 1695, the Council at Fort St. George sent Edward Fleetwood and James Lesly on a mission to Ava, the Burmese Court was much more forthcoming. The two men had several objectives: they wanted to secure the release of a private trader who had been imprisoned; they hoped to obtain the property left by a trader who had died in Burma and they hoped to persuade the Burmese to grant some of those concessions which Joao Pereira had failed to obtain fifteen years earlier. The mission was well primed and lavishly supplied with presents. Not only were the personal preferences of the King and his Ministers studied, but Fleetwood had a letter addressed to the King’s favourite mistress in case this proved a useful short-cut to a good business deal. The Fleetwood Mission reached Ava on 23 December 1695, and presented this letter to the King: Letter from Nathaniel Higginson, Esq., etc., Governor of Fort St. George to the King of Ava, 10 September i6gj ‘To his Imperiall Majesty, who blesseth the noble City of Ava, with his Presence, Emperour of Emperours, and excelling the Kings of the East and of the West, in glory and honour, the clear firmament of Virtue, the fountain of Justice, the perfection of Wisdom, the Lord of Charity and Protector of the Distressed; The first mover in the Sphere of Great¬ ness, President in Councill Victorious in Warr; who feareth none and is feared by all Center of the Treasures of the Earth and of the Sea, Lord Proprietor of Gold and Silver, Ruby's Amber and all precious Jewells, Favoured by Heaven, and honoured by men, whose Brightness shines through the World, as the light of the Sun and whose great name will be preserved in perpetuall memory’, etc.

The letter, as ceremonially worded as any letters sent by the Kings of Ava, then asked for the estate of a merchant, Adrian

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

29

Tilbury, who had died three years earlier in Martaban. It also asked the King to allow the Rt. Honourable English Company to permit factors ‘to buy and sell, in such commoditys and under such Privieleges, as your Royall bounty shall please to grant’. The Governor also asked for facilities to repair ships and to allow a factor to reside at Syriam. Dr. D. G. E. Hall, the leading authority on this period of relations between Britain and Burma, has this to say about Governor Higginson’s communication: ‘Much of what he wrote in his letter to the King was so far from the strict truth, that it was necessary in his instructions to explain to the chief envoy the correct “interpretation” of it, that he must bear in mind so as not to commit himself to any indiscretions likely to place Higginson in a difficult position with either London or Ava.’1 Fleetwood kept a diary of his visit to Ava. The mission was treated with great courtesy and with a kind of hospitality which those who know Burma today can easily imagine. The King’s influence depended on his personality. He was surrounded by a great deal of ceremonial, but the real power rested with his Minis¬ ters. There were two separate Governmental bodies: the Byedaik, composed of men who had special functions in the Court, and the Hlutdaw, which had the greater power and acted as the Supreme Court of the country. Presents were exchanged between the King and the mission, and many gifts were handed round to officials wherever this seemed likely to produce dividends. After many meetings and many exchanges of gifts, a procedure which tried the patience of the mission, the Burmese, in their own good time and in their own way, finally summoned Fleetwood at the end of January 1696 to attend a meeting of the Hlutdaw. The King had referred his requests to this Council. The Burmese Govern¬ ment now gave this reply to Governor Higginson: ‘We have ordered the Governors of Sirian, that the Shipmen and Merchants that come upon your Ships, to Sirian, shall have houses, Godowns, Docks and all things necessary for the fitting of Ships; and that they shall despatch the same, or see the same done, upon the arriwall of your Ships as shall be necessary. To your Messengers, we have given the same place and houses, that formerly belonged to the said Company. ‘Concerning the Goods of Adrian Tilbury who died at Martavan, in the Kingdoms of his Imperiall Majesty, we have no account of it by writing, nor know certainly anything of it. ‘As for the Petition for the restoring of Bartholomew Rodrigues, his 1 Early English Intercourse with Burma, by Dr. D. G. E. Hall, p. 161.



THE MAKING OF BURMA

Ship and his goods, it is such as has never yett been granted, by any of his Majesty’s Predecessors. But in consideration of its being made by the Governor of Madrass, who is his Ancient Servant, he has con¬ ceded to the giving liberty to Bartholomew Rodrigues and all his People. ‘Concerning the Customs, we have likewise prevailed with his Majesty to abate one third part to all the Ships, that belong to the Governour of the English Company. ‘To the Company’s Messenger, we gave all assistance, and gave him, the same house and Godowns that formerly belonged to the said Company, and by our Petitions to his Majesty, have caused him to be dispatched, that he may return this Monsoon. ‘In compliance with your Messengers request, for the releasement of all the English, that were in the Empire of his Majesty, we have asisted, and interceded with his Majesty, to release those English, which fell into the Port of Tavoy in a boat. ‘The mighty and powerful Emperor has done the honour to the Governour for the English Company in Madrass, to send him a Present, being 1500 Viss Lack. 2500 Viss Tin, 300 Viss Ivory, 6 Earthen Dishes and 8 Lackered Boxes.’1 This letter did not completely convince the Company at Fort St. George of the value of Burmese trade, but for some years individual traders were encouraged to trade under its auspices. This was an unsatisfactory state of affairs; the Burmese were never certain whether a trader represented the Company or his own interests. In a number of cases, they ran both lines at the same time. Occasionally individual traders settled in Burma, but the more usual plan was for the Company to appoint a Chief of the Affairs of the English nation each year at the beginning of the open season. He was often one of the Madras traders who returned to that city when the monsoon broke. His position was never clearly defined and his authority was never such as to embarrass traders whose activities were not entirely above board. As for the Burmese, they began to take increasing interest in affairs outside their own frontiers. The King sent ambassadors to the Mughal Emperor in 1706. Five years later, the Mughal Emperor exchanged presents with the King of Burma, sending a ceremonial dress and receiving twelve elephants which the Customs authorities in Madras had the good sense to allow through without paying any duty. The same year, the King wrote to the Company in Fort St. George, saying that he understood ‘that among the English Nation there are many able men and that without much trouble a Clock may be had’. ‘I desire’, he said, ‘that it may be 1 Oriental Repertory by Dalrymple, Vol. II, pp. 390-3.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

31

thus vizt: that it strikes the hours distinctly beginning in the morning by one and soe on till twelve having two Images to strike the hours on the bell or Clock this and another Clock of Make [«c], with a Woman’s image pouring oil in a Vessell which runns all the hour, and when it is out the said image fills it againe, and soe every hour, the King having heard of these things will have much to be done to get them, and if not be goot, to send a man here to make them, and shall return to his Country.’1 Any examination of the English records of this period, does not suggest that Burmese were anxious to avoid relations with the foreign traders. There were, of course, restrictions; the King and his Ministers kept a tight hold on foreign trade, and the Customs authorities expected the foreigner to accept existing rules and regulations. The question of ‘presents’ sometimes made difficul¬ ties, but English traders, either as individuals or as representing the Company usually treated this practice as a form of expense account. Burmese officials were sometimes intransigent, but the Company at Fort St. George considered Burmese trade as of secondary importance. In 1753 the Company decided to make a settlement in Negrais, for strategic rather than trading reasons. Dalrymple, writing his Oriental Repertory, ‘Published at the Charge of the East India Company’ and with first-hand contacts with the Company’s men in Burma, wrote: ‘In the year 1753, an Expedition to settle at Negrais was undertaken; As the particular Motives, for this Scheme, were communicated only to a Secret Committee, of these, or the Plan laid down, if there was any, I can therefore say nothing.’ But he adds as a footnote: ‘I received from my deceased Friend, Governor Saunders, some years after my return to England in 1765, A Paper, which seems to have been the Foundation of the Negrais Expedition; I cannot tell who was the Author of this Paper; perhaps Mr. Thomas Taylor, who, I have been informed, was at Negrais in 174.. in H.M. Ship Exeter; but, I have heard it reported, it was Capt. Barton who recommended to The Court of Directors, That a Settlement should be made at Negrais. I shall print the Paper received from Governor Saunders.’2 Dalrymple not only had access to private papers, for he was employed on secret service work, but he was an extremely honest reporter. Moreover, his reports often include personal touches of 1 Madras Public Proceedings, 24 February 1711. 2 Oriental Repertory, by Dalrymple, Vol. I, p. 97.

32

THE MAKING OF BURMA

great interest. For example he mentions a prophecy ‘universally received’ at that time in Burma. ‘It is a Report’, he writes, ‘that, about this period, a Nation wearing Hats, shall conquer the Empire and overthrow the Government.’ This, he suggests, ‘greatly impeded any Grant’ from the Government.1 The paper received from Governor Saunders, entitled ‘The Consequence of Settling an European Colony on the Island Negrais’, is an important document, revealing the intentions of the East India Company when they first decided to occupy a piece of Burmese territory. For the idea of the settlement in Negrais was more than that of a factory site; it was land over which the Company would have sovereignty. It was believed that Syriam in any case would be silted up in a few years’ time, making it of little value for large ships. Negrais had ‘the advantage of having com¬ munication by large navigable Rivers, into all parts of the King of Ava’s dominions, from whence the Trade of the Country might be easily ingrossed in a few years, and the Island supplied with all the Commodities that Kingdom affords, as also made convenient for shipping, either to repair, or build new ones on, with a consider¬ able less Risque of Danger than the Port of Syriam is at present.’2 Further, ‘being so conveniently situated’, the author points out, ‘with a moderate charge’, it ‘may be made capable of Defence against a considerable Force’. He saw the advantages of a settle¬ ment in Negrais, both from the point of view of extending British influence in Burma and of a port which could be conveniently used in the struggle for power with the French. Internal disturbances also stimulated foreign intervention. The Mons and the Burmese were at war. The Mons were at first successful, and, after taking Prome and Toungoo, and holding it for several years, they attacked Ava, burnt down the city, and took the King as prisoner to Pegu. This was the end of the Toungoo Dynasty (1486-1752). At a point when the Mons believed they had control both of Upper and of Lower Burma, a young man emerged on the scene who became known as Alaungpaya (embryo Buddha, and the equivalent in Pali to Boddhisatva). His career began with a refusal to take the oath of allegiance to the Mons when they arrived in his town of Shwebo. This inspired local resistance, and within a year Alaungpaya had sufficient followers to recapture Ava. It was the beginning of a successful campaign which led to the recapture of Prome in the spring of 1755. After consolidating his forces, he moved on to Lwunhse, where he built a pagoda and renamed the town ‘Myanaung’ which means ‘speedy 1 Oriental Repertory, Vol. I, pp. 107-8.

2 Ibid., p. 129.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

33

victory’. In April he occupied the land round the Shwe Dagon pagoda, and chose it as his capital. He laid it out as a new city and named it Yandon (Rangoon)—‘the end of strife’. Whilst Alaungpaya was building up his forces, the English and French traders in the Delta were staking their rival claims, both supporting now the Burmese, now the Mons, whoever seemed to be on the winning side. A mission, led by Captain George Baker, with orders to con¬ clude a treaty of friendship and alliance between the King and the Company was sent to Ava in 1755. Fortunately, he kept a diary and his close friend Dalrymple, published it in his Oriental Repertory. Captain Baker wrote: ‘On the 17th in the morning, I was given to understand that he intended to admit me to a Public Audience, in the evening; and, for that pur¬ pose (having disposed of everything to the best advantage for the dis¬ playing the grandeur of his State) I set out at 4 o’clock, accompanied by 10 or 12 of his Officers, the 4 Chests of Powder, some Shot, 2 Musquets, 2 Brass Carbines, 1 Gilt Looking Glass, 2 bags of red Earth, and 6 Bottles of Lavender, being carried, with the Governor’s letter, on a piece of clean Muslin, in procession before us; and entering the Gate, passed through two ranks of Elephants and Horses, promiscuously disposed of, and interspersed with Crouds of People (perhaps the major part of the inhabitants of the Town) until we came to a Street leading to the Palace-Yard, where were disposed of in rows, about 200 Pieces of Brass Patareroes, and cannon, and having advanced near the Yard Gate, where we could view the King on his Throne, began our Com¬ pliments.’1 Captain Baker described in a footnote the gestures of respect normally performed by Burmese but which were as difficult for the limbs of the European as they were embarrassing to his superior instincts. ‘Which [the gestures] were performed on the Knees, bowing the Head three times low down; this was repeated three separate times, from the Place, where it was first begun, to the Palace Steps. It must be confessed it was an extraordinary Ceremony, as I had it in my power to have refused, at least not voluntarily to have submitted to the performance of it, but what would have been the Consequence?’2 Captain Baker decided that it was bad tactics to refuse to per¬ form the ceremony. He believed that ‘by prudent management’ it might ‘in a great measure be got over’. He calculated carefully what might be the results of performing it, not, apparently, con¬ sidering that if any Burmese visitors had arrived at Buckingham 1 Ibid., p. 148.

2 Ibid., p. 149.

34

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Palace in those days, their ceremonial would have been just as precise. The King, then confidently planning his campaign against Syriam, did not want to commit himself to any treaty, but he was perfectly willing to discuss trade. He chose a good supply of arms on the spot rather than an ‘annual present’ of them. He told Captain Baker that ‘he would grant the Negrais and Persaim to the Honourable Company, with a Place at Dagon, where he intended to build a Town himself in return for an immediate supply of 1,000 muskets and twenty pieces of canon.’ Captain Baker could not supply the lot then and there, but replied that if only the King would sign the articles of the draft treaty he had taken with him, then arms would be supplied at Negrais. The King was willing to grant permission to put up factories at Persaim and Dagon, but he had his doubts about Negrais. ‘However’, he told Captain Baker, ‘I don’t tell you not to stay there, but let me see the Company’s generosity and then they shall see mine; we are yet but Strangers, this is the first time you have ever seen my face, I don’t yet well know your Intention of staying there, for what instance have I had of your sincerity, I treated your ships at Dagon, with singular kindness, and they proved traitorous to me after it; let me see how the Company will behave this time, let them show their generosity, and mine shall not be wanting. I don’t care if they bring all Madras to Negrais, if they behave kindly now; for this is the only time by which I shall judge of their friendship. . . d1 The King invited Captain Baker to go to the palace. At that time, however, the King’s favourite concubine became dangerously ill and he asked the English envoy to come again the next day. But once more the interview was postponed, for at the time of the proposed audience, the Princess had just died. Captain Baker then left for Negrais, but the King was as good as his word and the negotiations were carried on in Rangoon early in 1756. He agreed to recognize the Company’s settlements in Burma, and this time he included Negrais. In the first letter addressed directly to a King of England by a King of Burma, Alaungpaya wrote to George II: ‘The King, Despotick, of great Merit, of great Power, Lord of the countries Thonahprondah, Tomp Devah and Camboja Sovereign of the Kingdom of Burmars, the Kingdom of Siam and Hughen and the Kingdom of Cassay, Lord of the Mines of Rubies, Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron and Amber, Lord of the White Elephant, Red Elephant and Spotted Elephant, Lord of the Vital Golden Lance, of many Golden 1 Oriental Repertory, Vol. I, pp. 158-9.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

35

Palaces and of all those Kingdoms, Grandours and Wealth whose royal person is descended of the Nation of the Sun, Salutes the King of England, of Madras, of Bengal, of Port St. David and of Deve Cotah, and let our Compliments be presented to His Majesty and acquaint him that from the time of Our Ancestors to Our Time, there has been a great Commerce and Trade carry’d on by the English and Burmars, with all possible Liberties, Affection, Advantage and Success, till the time of the Revolution in Pegue, when an entire stop was put to them and to our Correspondence, tho’ our inclination and desire of cor¬ responding with His Majesty and his Subjects remain’d always lively and Constant with us. ‘At the time of the Revolution in Pegue, His Majesty our friend was pleased to send Mr. Brooke to settle at Negrais the one End of our Kingdom, of which we were apprised after his arrival there, and tho’s Jealousy naturally reigns in Kings, yet We were greatly pleased and Rejoiced at the News, and to give proof of our sincere Amity with His Majesty and his Subjects, we have, on Mr. Brooke’s applying to Us in His Majesty’s Esteemed Name, given and granted the Place he wanted at Passaim personally to attend to Measure and deliver up the said desir’d place, which has accordingly been Done. ‘If one King be in Union and Amity with another they may be of Utility to the Interest to each other. ‘We and our Generation are inclin’d to preserve a Constant Union and Amity with His Majesty and his Royal Family and Subjects. ‘Given the ioth of the Moon of the Month of Cawchong year (1118 Burman Stile) (being April 1756 English Stile). Let this letter be engraved upon a Golden Plate, and forwarded to the King of England.’1 This English version of the King’s letter omits a passage which has now been supplied by U Tet Htoot, who translated it from a manuscript (Chevilliot 3503) in the India Office Library, entitled ‘Orders issued by the Great Righteous King, founder of the City of Ratnasingha Konbaung’, i.e. Orders issued by Alaungpaya. The passage omitted reads: ‘Apart from customary presents as in the past, the ships personally owned by the (English King) will be free of custom duties, and that normal customs duties will be collected from merchants by Myo Wun, Sitke, Nakhan and secretaries in Bassein.’ The same Burmese historian also challenges the view often expressed by British writers that ‘the Golden Feetwould not demean themselves by an agreement with a mere official’, and quotes other letters from Alaungpaya to British traders expressing his desire for friendly relations as evidence. Certainly, the King showed his willingness to negotiate with a British envoy in July 1757, although he had not received any reply to his letter to the King of England. Why was a treaty required,

1

Home Miscellaneous Proceedings, Vol. 95.

36

THE MAKING OF BURMA

he asked Ensign Robert Lester? Nevertheless, after protracted talks, he agreed to a treaty and affixed to it his royal seal. The Treaty of Friendship and Alliance made considerable concessions: ‘Art. 1. The King of Ava and Pegu doth hereby, for himself, his Heirs and Successors, freely and absolutely grant unto the said Honourable United Company, and their Successors, the Island of Negrais, which from henceforth for evermore they shall and may peacable and quietly possess and enjoy, together with all Benefits and Advantages arising therefrom.’1 Article 2 gave to the Company a piece of land which they could ‘quietly possess and enjoy, together with all Benefit and Advantage arising thereby, and with full Liberty to build Fortifications, and erect such other Buildings thereon, as they shall think fit’. Other articles in what was a far-reaching Treaty, allowed privileges of trading, guaranteeing the Company’s protection. In return, the Company promised the King of Ava and Pegu and his successors, the privileges of trading at the Company’s ports of Fort St. George, Fort St. David, Deve Cotah, and Vizagapatam or any other of the Company’s Ports in India, ‘without any Let or hindrance, and free of all Duties and Customs whatsoever, provided that the Com¬ mander of every Ship, arriving at the said Ports’ produced ‘a Certificate, under the King’s Chop, that the Goods on board such Ship, are the sole Property of the King or his Subjects’. The eighth article pledged the Company ‘to aid, assist, and defend, the King of Ava and Pegu, and his Successors against all their enemies by Sea and Land, and for that purpose to furnish such a number of Troops, with proper Warlike Stores’, etc., and, lastly, that if the King of Tavoy took up arms against the King of Ava and Pegu, no assistance would be given, but, on the contrary, the King should be protected. This was a generous treaty. Within less than a month, Ensign Lester took possession of the land which King Alaungpaya had conceded. On 22 August 1757 he made the following note in his diary: ‘This Morning I went on the other side of the River, and took possession of the Spot of Ground, in the Name of the Honourable United East India Company, having the King, Allaum Prazv’s Liberty for so doing. I hoisted our Colours, and fired three Vollies of small Arms on the Occasion.’2 The Company flag was the signal that the English traders now 1 Oriental Repertory, Vol. I, p. 223.

2 Ibid., p. 222.

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL

RULE

37

held in their possession a small area of Burmese territory. But it was another thirty-five years before they were able to take advantage of the treaty. The Company’s Directors were so little convinced of the trade potentialities of Negrais, they decided it was not worth while spending money. Their main concern was ‘to prevent giving the French a pretext for taking possession by our totally deserting it’. Orders were given by the Company to Governor Pigot at Fort St. George to observe the utmost economy in Negrais, a decision which was not changed by the Treaty with Alaungpaya in 1757. The Company’s Directors were more interested by opportunities in India than by experiments in Burma. The King’s letter reached London in March 1758. Mr. John Payne, writing from the Company’s offices in Lothbury, informed Mr. Pitt that they had also received ‘a letter very much to the purport of that addressed to His Majesty, but wrote on paper instead of plate gold’.1 It was ignored, or overlooked. The King had given special treatment to the Company’s envoy and he felt humiliated when no response was forthcoming. This only served to increase the suspicions which he already had of the Company because it had helped the Mons against him. And this was rein¬ forced by the sudden arrival in Prome in 1759 of a Mr. Whitehill, who three years earlier had actively supported the Mons. They had defeated Alaungpaya, who thereupon had to give up his projected invasion of Manipur. Thus, when Mr. Whitehill returned, the King took his revenge, seized his ship, and put him in irons. The official account reads: ‘Mr. Whitehill having presented to the Board a Letter dated the 12th. instant, as entered after Consultation 13th. instant setting forth that when he was confined by the King of the Burmahs, the King then told him that one reason for his ill treatment of the English was that he had sent a Letter with a large Ruby for the King of England to the late Chief of the Negrais of which no Notice was ever taken a charge which being similar to that what is contained in two other Letters wrote hither from Persons at Pegu and no such ruby been ever received here, though the letter was.’2 Mr. Whitehill was soon released, as well as most of his crew, on payment of ransom. A few months later relations between the King and the Company were considerably strained by the mas¬ sacre at Negrais. Captain Southby had set out from Bengal for Negrais to collect teak ‘and to secure the right of possession in 1 Madras Public Proceedings, Vol. 95, 1760. 2 Madras Public Proceedings, Consultation, 20 May 1760.

38

THE MAKING OF BURMA

case it might afterwards be thought proper to resettle at that Place’. He was met by three Burmese war-boats, the Governor of Bassein, and Antonio, a Portuguese friendly with Alaungpaya. The next day, when Antonio was dining with Southby, Burmese entered, and, having singled out their victims beforehand, stabbed and killed all but one of the British present. They then killed men, women, and children at the fort and set fire to everything, including the Company’s teak timbers. The reason for this unhappy affair was undoubtedly the King’s suspicions that the British were helping the Mons. U Tet Htoot, describing the Hman Nan (Burmese Chronicle) account, writes: ‘They wrote that Alaungpaya sent Min Ye Kaung Pon and a cavalry officer called Min Naya Theinkha to attack Negrais after he got informa¬ tion from Mon prisoners of war at the battle of Tamwe, Rangoon, that the English helped the Mons with guns and ammunition.’1 Captain Alves, who visited Rangoon the year after this tragedy, described a talk he had with Antonio: ‘I asked what Reasons also the Buraghmah King assigned for cutting off Negraise, after a great many Encomiums on the Buraghmah King, and Invectives against the Chiefs of Negraise he told me, that Mr. Hope had given four or five Musquets, with some Powder and Shott, also provisions to the Peguers; and that Gregory the Armenian had represented this, as if it had been 400 or 500 Musquets that had been given . . . and said that the English were a very dangerous People, and if not prevented in time, he would find, would act in the same manner as they had done in Bengal, and on the Coast; where the first Settle¬ ments were made in the same manner at Negraise, but that, by degrees, they had fortified themselves, and brought Men, and all manner of Military stores, in, under various Pretences, till they thought they were strong enough, then they pulled off the Mask, and made Kings whom they pleased, and levied all the Revenues of the Country at Discretion; This he said was the principal Reason, though there were others, which the Governors of Negraise had given rise to, by hindering Merchant Vessels from going to Perseen; by which the Buraghmah King lost his Duties; However everything that could in the least be made to serve as an argument against the English, was always aggravated and put in the worst light possible, by Gregory, to the Buraghmah King. He told also, that the Buraghmah King was very sorry for what he had done, and had given orders to him, to invite all English Ships that should touch at Negraise, to come and trade on the same footing as before; and that, in particular he would be very glad of our Arrival, in order to make friendship again with the English; but at the same 1 ‘A Few Sources for a Future History of Burma’, by U Tet Htoot, S.E. Asia Seminar, School of Oriental and African Studies, 1957.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

39

time told me, as we had not come on the Score of Trade, but as an Embassy to settle a Friendship; that unless we came up to Per seen, the Buraghmah King would be suspicious of our Intentions; and he’was sure the Armenians would take all opportunities of fomenting the Quarrel, and representing us as Spys. . . .n But by the time Captain Alves heard this explanation Alaungpaya was dead, and his eldest son, Naungdawgyi, proclaimed King. Naungdawgyi clearly shared his father’s suspicions, but also wanted to make friends with the Company. He therefore wrote to Captain Alves: ‘In the reign of the Great King, my Father (who being wearied of this World is now gone to Govern a better) Captain Hope, who was then Governor of Negraise, did not shew the Customary Respects, nor perform the promises made by The Company to my Father, the Great King, but did just as he thought fit, built Fortifications where he pleased, and also held a correspondence with the Peguers whom he supply’s with Arms, Ammunition, Provisions, etc., which being told to the Great King, my Father, he accordingly sent a Party of Men to Negraise, and Seized all the Stores, Arms, Ammunitions, etc. Now, as I am informed of your Arrival at Diamond Island, with Letters, and Presents for me, and if the Governors of Madras or Bengal want to settle at Negraise or Perseen, they have free Liberty to do so, and Trade, after paying the usual Customs, or if you have any merchandise, you may freely enter and trade either at Negraise or Perseen (after you have paid the usual Customs) but as Perseen is now uninhabited, you may stay at Negraise, till it is repeopled. In the meantime, I desire you will come in Perseen, and bring the Letters, and Presents you have brought from the Governors of Bengal and Madrass, as also everything of your own, you have to sell, that your Country and my Country may be one, and you shall have whatever you desire.’2 Captain Alves also took letters to the Governor from Antonio and from the Viceroy of Bassein, both dissociating themselves from the massacre at Negrais and urging the renewal of trade relations. He returned to Burma in 1761, and this time a reply was sent to the King’s letter. The Governor of Bengal wrote: Fort William. 4 September 1761. ‘TO THE MOST HIGH AND MIGHTY KING OF PEGU, THE SOLE AND SUPREME LORD

OF THE THREE PEGU KINGDOMS WITH ALL THEIR PROVINCES.

MASTER OF THE MINES OF GOLD, SILVER, DIAMONDS, RUBIES, SAPPHIRES, EMERALDS, AMBER AND ALL MANNER OF PRECIOUS STONES ETC., ETC., ETC. THE HONBLE

HENRY VANSITTART

ESQR. GOVERNOR

OF

BENGAL,

SENDS WISHES FOR HIS HEALTH AND LONG AND HAPPY REIGN. 1 Oriental Repertory, Vol. I, pp. 358-9.

2 Ibid., pp. 369-70.

40

THE MAKING OF BURMA

‘The gracious Letter your Majesty was pleased to honor me with by the Hands of Captain Alves was safely deliver’d to me, and made me happy beyond Expression. According to your Majesty’s Commands I have now sent Captain Alves back to wait upon you and have sent under his Charge such of the Things as your Majesty wrote for as could be procur’d at this Time. A list thereof is enclos’d with this Address, and Captain Alves will have the Honor of layin them at your Feet. As Captain Alves’ Vessel is too small to carry the Horse and Mare and Male and Female Camels you were pleas’d to write for, I propose with your Majesty’s Permission to send a larger Ship by which Oppor¬ tunity they shall be forwarded, together with such other of the Articles as your Majesty wrote for as can be procured at this place. I request you will dispatch Captain Alves back as soon as it may be convenient to your Majesty, and request you will give him your Royal Permission to bring away as many of the Company’s Timbers as possible, and that you will also give leave to Messrs. Robertson and Helass the two Englishmen who were left by your Permission to take care of the said Timbers to have them brought down to a proper Place that they may be ready to be embark’d on any other Ship that may be sent for them. I with Pleasure observe your royal Indulgence in granting me your Permission to establish a Factory under your auspicious Government upon Condition of paying the Duties establish’d at your Court, which I shall take the first favourable Opportunity of Embracing hoping thereby to create a firm and lasting Friendship and Alliance with your most Gracious Majesty and be a Means of settling a Trade advanta¬ geous to both Nations.’1 The letter did not produce results. No treaty was forthcoming. The factory in Bassein was now closed down, and official relations between the King and the Company ceased for thirtyfive years. But in the wars between Britain and France in 1778, the French used Burmese ports for refitting their ships, and both Mergui and Rangoon sheltered French buccaneers who were on the lookout for British ships. The fears of the King that his ports might be used in wars between the two European powers were amply justified. Indeed, one French Captain went so far as to recommend to his Government that Burma was the country where they could best defeat British power in the Far East. The French Government considered the suggestion impracticable, and the French factory in Rangoon was closed down. The Dutch had left Burma some years before. It was left to the British to stake their claims to Burma when the time arrived, and Burma again became strategically important as well as commercially desirable. 1 Journal of the Burma Research Society, Vol. XXII, Part II, ‘The Negrais Settlement and After’, by S. C. Sarkar. Ibid., Vol. XXI, Part III, is devoted to a detailed account of the tragedy of Negrais, by Dr. D. G. E. Hall.

CHAPTER III

Rivals on India's Eastern Frontier the closing down of the factory in Bassein there were only l \ casual contacts between the two countries until GovernorGeneral Shore sent an official delegation to the Court of Ava in I795- Its leader, Michael Symes, wrote a fascinating description of a country which was different from any other of his experience, and his eye-witness story was subsequently published—in 1800— in three volumes, inscribed ‘To the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Directors of the Honourable East India Company’. ‘Of the kingdom of Ava, or the Birman Empire’, he writes in his Preface, ‘so little is known to the European world, that many persons of liberal education, when the name of the country has been men¬ tioned, were at a loss on what part of the globe to seek for its position; and some were even unacquainted with the existence of such a nation.’ Whilst in Ava, awaiting an audience by the King, Michael Symes found, much to his surprise, that he was at a considerable disadvantage. A French agent in Rangoon had spread the rumour that, ‘the Dutch and Spaniards having joined the republicans, the utter ruin of the English was not far distant’, and Armenians who were quite influential in the court circle in Ava, told the story of ‘a combination of all the powers of India, to deprive Great Britain of her possessions in the East, and to expel all Europeans from those shores which they were represented to have first visited as merchants, and afterwards invaded as usurpers’. Symes believed that whilst the Burmese did not give ‘implicit credit’ to this rumour, yet the news from Europe at that period ‘co-operating with their own pride determined them to persist in that arrogant assumption of superiority’ which officials had shown in action, if not in words. With a letter from the Governor-General and with a variety of presents, graded according to the status of the in¬ tended recipient, Symes assumed that he would at once be re¬ ceived by the King. He had overlooked two points: first, that the Burmese court was surrounded by every kind of ceremonial, some of which undoubtedly seemed arrogant and unwarranted to the Western mind, and, secondly, that since his letter was from the After

42

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Governor-General and not directly from the King of England, the Burmese King and his officials considered that the mission was only a second-class affair. Symes was sensitive on this point. It became necessary to inform them’, he wrote, describing the delays in reaching the throne, ‘that the Governor-General of India was not, in his relation to their court, or to that of any other eastern potentate, a subordinate provincial officer; but a personage in whom sovereign authority over a widely extended empire was efficiently vested; that, as the representative of such authority, I held an indisputable claim to whatever consideration was granted to the ministers of other nations; and that the withholding it, would be accounted an incivility so great, as probably to prevent the English government from making any further advances for the establishment of a friendly and confidential intercourse.’ In the conditions which existed in 1795, the implied threat in this message was not considered in good taste. The Burmese court was proud of its recent military victories and it was certainly unaware of the superior resources to which the English foreigners could turn, if they so desired. In the circumstances, the Symes Mission was given far more consideration than is sometimes suggested. Symes had no direct conversation with the King, but he was present during an official audience. His description of the court ceremonial and the attention given to ‘the minutest point of etiquette’ gives the atmosphere of Ava at that time, and the degree to which power was concentrated in the hands of the King. The journey from Rangoon to Ava, the hospitality provided by officials, the countryside—all these are described in detail, and they imply that the Mission was treated with friendliness and great courtesy. ‘The Birmans’, Symes states, ‘sensible of the advantages of com¬ merce, but inexpert in the practice, desirous to improve, but unacquainted with the principles of trade, had of late years given toleration to all sects, and invited strangers of every nation to resort to their ports; and being themselves free from those prejudices of cast which shackle their Indian neighbours, they permitted foreigners to inter-marry and settle amongst them.’1 Symes described Burmese festivals; he was there for the gayest of all of them, the water festival; the journey to Pagan with its pagodas, ‘once a place of no ordinary splendour’; the food, the customs, the occupations of the people and their laws, their religion, and the type of administration. Amongst the foreigners who visited him in Rangoon was Vincentius Sangermano, an Italian missionary: ‘he seemed a very respectable and intelligent 1 An Account of an Embassy to the Kingdom of Ava, Vol. 3.

BURMA

BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

43

man, spoke and wrote the Birman language fluently, and was held in high estimation by the natives for his exemplary life and inoffensive manners’. Sangermano had the great advantage over Michael Symes of having spent many years in Burma; he was there from 1783 till 1808. He knew the language, and his Description of the Burmese Empire, published in 1805, compiled chiefly from Burmese documents, was the first book by a European to reflect an understanding of Burmese cosmography, Burmese history, Burmese religion and culture. To all of which accomplishments we must add that he had a commission to make a chart of the port of Rangoon, which he prepared with so much ability that the British Government gave him a pension. The Symes Mission returned to India with a letter from the King to Sir John Shore, the then Governor-General. After the customary titles which commenced all such documents, ‘The Lord of Earth and Air, the Monarch of extensive Countries, the Proprietor of all kinds of precious stones . . . mines of Gold, Silver . . . and Petroleum . . . Sovereign of valiant Generals and victorious Armies, Master of the white, red and mottled Elephants, etc.’, the King of Ava concluded: ‘I, the King Immortal, whose philanthropy is universal, whose anxiety for the benefit and welfare of all mankind never ceases, ‘i DIRECT

‘That all merchants of the English nation, who resort to Burman ports, shall pay customs, duties, charges, warehouse hire, searchers etc., agreeably to former established usage, English merchants are to be permitted to go to whatever part of the Birman dominions they think proper, either to buy or to sell, and they are on no account to be stopped, molested, or oppressed; and they shall have liberty to go to whatever town, village, or city they choose, for the purpose of buying, selling, or bartering: and whatsoever articles of the produce of this country they may be desirous of purchasing they shall be allowed to do so, either in person, or by their agents: and English merchants having been long accustomed to trade to Birman ports without molesta¬ tion, it is commanded, that they continue their trade in future without molestation; and should the English Company think proper to depute a person to reside at Rangoon, to superintend mercantile affairs, maintain a friendly intercourse, and forward letters to the Presence, it is ordered, that such person shall have a right of residence; and should any English merchant be desirous of sending a representation, the officers of Government, in any port, district, and town, shall for¬ ward such representation; or if such a merchant should be inclined to present in person a petition at the Golden Feet, he shall be allowed to come to the Golden Presence for that purpose:—This is peremptory.

THE

44

MAKING

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And as English merchants are unacquainted with the Birman language, they are to be allowed to employ whatever interpreters they think proper: and as, in the stormy season, English ships are often dismasted, and driven into Birman ports by stress of weather, ships in this un¬ fortunate predicament shall be supplied with all necessary wood, workmen, etc., at the current rates of the country. . . .’x Sir John Shore was sufficiently impressed by the welcome given to Michael Symes and by the terms of the King’s letter to send a British Resident to Rangoon. For although the King’s letter was written in flowery language (‘turgid extravagance’ was Symes’s own description) and the attractiveness of much that he saw in Burma may have given too rosy a picture, both Symes and the Governor-General assumed that a basis had been provided for the development of trade. Symes was cautious about the Burmese attitude, but he believed that, with mutual confidence, the terms of his letter could be fulfilled and that they represented considerable concessions. They had been negotiated with the Wungyis of the Hlutdaw and registered as a royal order. Sir James Shore showed his confidence in Symes’s judgement by sending out a Resident to cultivate good relations between the Ava Government and the Company, to look after the interests of British traders in Burma and to keep an eye on French activities. His choice of Captain Hiram Cox proved unfortunate, and Cox’s mission from 1796 to 1798, especially that part of it which was spent at the capital, stimulated Burmese suspicions rather than their confidence. He wanted to be treated as an ambassador whereas he was, in fact, merely British Resident at Rangoon. The Burmese thought of him as a business representa¬ tive, and in Rangoon some of the merchants saw him as a potential competitor, In the capital, he acted against his instructions by demanding certain ceremonies when negotiating with Burmese Ministers, and when he failed to receive honours to which he was not entitled, he left Amarapura in disgust and of his own accord. The authorities in Fort William subsequently sent an apologetic letter to the Court at Ava, thus recognizing Cox’s responsibility for the failure of his mission. But Cox himself tried to place some of the responsibility for failure on Michael Symes’s favourable report, and he described the Burmese Court as ‘an assembly of clowns’ and their followers as ungrateful, rapacious, cruel, treacherous, avaricious and lazy. His Journal which was badtempered and misleading, provided the basis of one of the most hostile accounts of Burma ever written in time of peace. The 1

An Account of an Embassy to the Kingdom of Ava, Appendix No. III.

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

45

author, Dr. G. T. Bayfield, wrote his Historical Review of the Political Relations between the British Government in India and the Empire of Ava while Acting Assistant to Colonel Henry Burney in 1834, six years after Britain and Burma had already fought the first of three wars. He had access to official documents of the period from 1795 to 1834, and historians have frequently quoted Bayfield, since, as Dr. D. G. E. Hall points out ‘it has saved them the trouble of going to the original documents themselves’. Yet, the same writer points out ‘it is full of blemishes’ and in places ‘Bayfield’s anti-Burmese prejudice has led him to be deliberately misleading, or even to falsify the record’. One particularly glaring case concerned Bayfield’s account of Michael Symes’s second mission, which has been treated as authoritative and quoted by most historians for more than a century. There is no longer any excuse for this misrepresentation. Dr. Hall, who writes that he ‘must plead guilty of accepting it’ has now made a thorough examination of the original documents, and exploded the Bayfield myth. In accepting the Symes version rather than that of Cox, repeated by Bayfield, Dr. Hall says: ‘Symes’s fault was that he tried to understand, and present, the Burmese point of view.’ Michael Symes’s second mission to Burma in 1802 must be judged in the light of events on the Arakan frontier, where the impact of Anglo-Burmese rivalry could already be felt. Fortun¬ ately, we can read his Journal, edited with a valuable Introduction by Dr. Hall.1 TROUBLE IN ARAKAN

In 1783, Burmese troops had successfully attacked and occupied the town and fort of Arakan which was then made a province of the Burmese empire. Burma and Britain had thus become neighbours, with the River Naaf as the boundary line. Smuggling over this frontier became a favourite pastime and smugglers found it convenient to take their goods over the Naaf into Chitta¬ gong Province, where as Symes reported, ‘being then under the protection of the British flag, they disposed of their spoils to advantage, and lived at ease, until returning want impelled them to renew their predatory inroads’. In 1794, the Year before Symes arrived in Burma, King Bodawpaya sent 5>°00 men to bring back dead or alive a group of these smugglers. The Company replied by sending General Erskine with troops from Calcutta to Chittagong. The Burmese General, Seree Nunda 1 Michael Symes, Journal of His Second Embassy to the Court of Ava in 1802, edited with Introduction by Dr. D. G. E. Hall.

46

THE

MAKING

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Kiozo, replied that he had crossed the Naaf to capture the smug¬ glers, and that he would not leave until the British handed them over. General Erskine said that as long as Burmese troops were on British soil he could not talk, and that if the Burmese did not withdraw, he would use force. If they left, there would be an inquiry. The Burmese withdrew. The inquiry was held. The men were found guilty and they were handed over to the Burmese authorities, who duly punished them. When Symes was in Rangoon, he had discussed this incident and the matter seemed settled. But in 1798 Arakanese refugees in large numbers escaped over the Naaf into British India. They were not smugglers, but political refugees. The British authorities gave refuge to about 10,000 of them, led by Nga Than De. This brought the number of Arakanese in British territory up to about 50,000. The large-scale movement of refugees had started when Nga Than De escaped across the frontier rather than provide 40,000 men and 20,000 muskets for the war which the King was then fighting against Siam. Burmese reaction to this large-scale escape was to send the Army after the refugees. When the Mayor of Chittagong failed to persuade them to leave, he sent a small force of sepoys to attack their defences. The Burmese soldiers retired over the frontier whilst their leaders insisted that they had no hostile intentions against the British. In June 1799 Lord Wellesley, the then Governor-General, sent Captain Thomas Hill to explain the position to the Burmese Viceroy and then, in 1802, sent Michael Symes on his Second Mission. British policy was equivocal, for difficulties in India made it most inopportune to risk troubles in Burma. At the same time, Burma must not be allowed to encroach on what was considered British preserves. Thus, while Symes was sent to come to friend¬ lier relations with the Court of Ava, ‘with the least practicable delay’, Lord Wellesley at the same time ordered that ‘a force should be immediately despatched to Chittagong for the purpose of over¬ awing the Rajah of Arakan, or of resisting any attempt on his part to carry his hostile menaces into execution, as well as of supporting the representations of the British Government at the Court of Ava’. The Rajah of Arakan was duly informed that if he ‘should unfortunately pursue the rash and extravagent course of attempting to disturb the tranquility of the British frontier, the attack will instantly be repelled by a powerful body of British troops from Chittagong’. Lord Wellesley was anxious to obtain a treaty with Ava which

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

47

would allow for the permanent residence of a British Ambassador, and a Consul in Rangoon. He believed that ‘the increased degree of power and eminence, which the British Empire in India has attained within the last five years’ was certainly not overlooked in Ava. This increase of power, military and commercial, seemed, in Lord Wellesley’s imperial eyes to impress on Ava the superior values of alliance with Britain to those which were already under consideration with the French, and the Symes’s Mission was aimed at underlining this superiority. ‘It seems impossible to suppose that the Court of Ava’, the memorandum of instructions stated, ‘could balance between the policy of connecting itself with a nation possessed of no resources on this quarter of the globe, and with a power capable from its local situation and the magnitude of its resources, of being either a formidable foe, or a powerful ally of the Burman Empire.’1 Then follows this masterpiece of diplomatic wisdom: ‘For although it might not be proper under the existing articles of peace with France to attempt to conclude a positive engagement with the Court of Ava on the basis of the exclusion of the French from the Birmese dominion, the same objection does not appear to exist against the application of any such suggestions to that Court, as might induce it to prefer any alliance to that of France.’2 Symes was told to convince the Government of Ava ‘of the danger to which its interests would be exposed by a connexion with France’. On political issues his instructions stated: ‘His Excellency considers the exclusion of the subjects of France deem any establishment within the Dominions of Ava, and the supersession of their influence in the concerns of that state, to be objects of the greatest importance.’3 But it was not only in relation to policy towards France that Captain Symes was instructed to intervene in Burmese affairs. He was also told that the Government in India had reason to believe that in the event of the death or the abdication of King Bodawpaya, his younger son, would ‘endeavour by force or intrigue to supercede the heir apparent in the succession to the throne’ and that in so doing he would have the support of the Siamese. If such events took place either during the stay of the Symes Mission in Ava or previous to his arrival, then the argument ran, the young Prince ‘may solicit the assistance of the British power in support of his pretensions to the throne, under the promise of concessions 1 Bengal Secret and Political Consultations, 29 April 1802, No. 20. 2 Ibid, 3 Ibid,

48

THE

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highly advantageous to the interests of the Company’. The instructions to Symes were quite specific. As far as ‘the policy of any interference on the part of the British Government in the domestic contentions of the State of Ava’, ‘His Excellency in Council directs me to observe that such a state of events would precisely constitute that crisis of affairs which is most to be desired for the purpose of establishing the British influence and of promoting British interests in the Burmese empire.’1 As to which of the two parties should be supported: ‘His Excellency observes that every consideration of justice and public honor requires that the aid of the British power should be directed to the support of a regular succession to the throne in the person of the heir apparent. ‘His Excellency therefore directs me to inform you that in either of the contingencies above described you are authorised to proffer the aid of British forces for the support of the dominion and authority of the Heir Apparent, under such conditions as may appear to you to be best calculated for the attainment of the important objects of your mission to Ava.’2 After details of the regiments which were to be used, these instructions emphasised the opportunity of obtaining a military foothold in Burma: ‘His Excellency considers it to be extremely desirable that the Government of Ava should consent to subsidize permanently the British force, which may be furnished on this occasion, or even a larger portion of British troops, and His Excellency accordingly desires that in the event supposed, you will exert your endeavours for the attainment of that important object.’3 But supposing the Captain was not asked for the help of British troops? This eventuality was foreseen in the following paragraphs: ‘The preceding instructions provide only for the case of a direct applica¬ tion to you from the Court of Ava for the aid of British troops. ‘His Excellency, however, deems it expedient to authorise you to offer that assistance without previous solicitation on the part of the Government of Ava, provided that the state of affairs in that country should be such as to induce you to expect that the offer will be accepted, and that the Court is merely witheld from a direct application for that purpose by considerations of fear or jealousy, which your arguments or assurances may enable you to remove.’4 1 Bengal Secret and Political Consultations, 29 April 1802, No. 23. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. ^ Ibid_

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

49

Lord Wellesley’s wishes must have been father to this thoughts. The King was in no mood to abdicate when the Second Symes Mission was planned. It is true that three years earlier his younger son had planned to seize the throne. But his intentions were known to his father, who took the precaution of leading troops in person against his son, putting to death many of his followers and moving him to the capital in disgrace. When the Mission arrived in 1802, the son was out of sight, and as far as the King was concerned he was in good health, and outlived Captain Michael Symes. Why did Lord Wellesley consider that he could influence Burmese affairs and play the strong man with Bodawpaya? His idea of sending an enormous escort with Captain Symes was regarded, not as a sign of strength, but as a warning. Further, whilst Lord Wellesley thought that King Bodawpaya was greatly impressed by British military strength in India, the opposite was the case. Isolated from the rest of the world, he even considered offering military assistance to Lord Wellesley to defeat the French. In this atmosphere, it was unlikely that any mission could succeed, however much the Burmese respected Symes’s personal integrity and goodwill. Captain Symes arrived in Rangoon on 31 May 1802. He soon had difficulties with the local authorities. Their first request to him was—in his own words—‘to discontinue firing the usual gun at daybreak in the morning and 8 at night, assigning a curious reason for the latter, that being wholly unaccustomed to hear the sound of cannon, and it being a breach of law in a Birman to fire even a musquet at such untimely hours, the report of our gun created alarm so general as to endanger every pregnant woman in the city with miscarriage’.1 Difficulties arose on such subjects as the salute of guns and precedence in being received at Court. Fortunately for his Government, Symes did not expect the Burmese to treat him as if he represented the only important nation in the world. And, although he often felt frustrated, he was never impatient. He even found the time to apprehend an English¬ man named Tolly in Rangoon whose conduct ‘has been such as to disgrace his countrymen’, and would have sent him back to Bom¬ bay if the Burmese had not interceded for him. He recognized the importance of Rangoon to the general trade of India; several vessels were laid down and launched each week in the docks, some of the principal mercantile houses in Calcutta had trans¬ ferred their agents to Rangoon, which he described as ‘the most favorable river in the world for naval architecture’. As for Burmese 1 Ibid., 2 September 1802, No. 2.



THE MAKING OF BURMA

behaviour towards the British, he observed, as he had done on his first mission, that ‘our principal inconveniences arise from the malevolence of foreigners rather than any ill disposition on the part of the Birmans’. He was referring to the Armenians. How well he understood Burmese psychology is indicated in a letter he wrote to Fort William on 12 July 1802—three months after his arrival: ‘.. . I continue to maintain a good understanding with the Government of Rangoon, . . . the most perfect harmony subsists between the inhabitants and the natives of India, who compose my suite. By sub¬ scribing implicitly to the rules of the garrison and not making any unnecessary display of military parade, in their streets, I avoid giving umbrage to their pride, and in consequence we enjoy unlimited free¬ dom, whilst a ready attention is paid to my representations on every subject. ‘I wish it were in my power to report favourably of the conduct of the generality of British subjects, who reside at, and trade to, this place. Their number at present amounts to about 60, some of whom (but, I am sorry to add, very few) are men of respectable conduct.’1 As the months passed by and Symes travelled via Pagan to Ava, he noticed that the authorities omitted certain courtesies ‘so incon¬ sistent with the punctilious attention which the Birmans them¬ selves pay to all ceremonies of a publick nature’ that they could escape no one ‘who well knew the characteristic pride of this arrogant Court’. The fact was that the Burmese were also playing a political hand. Symes explained their conduct on the grounds of French influence, and, in particular, to the arrival of a boat from Mauritius, with which island the Burmese King had close trading relations. But there was more to it than trading relations, and by October Symes wrote in his diary that his situation had ‘become extremely arduous’. ‘I have to combat the prejudice of a proud and half-mad bigot’, he wrote, describing King Bodawpaya, ‘who though not ignorant of, yet little regards the laws of nations. . . . He has avowed his partiality for the French, and animosity to the English, and every voice in his Court re-echoes his sentiments; nor can any person presume to express others, whatever he may think. In so unpleasant a predicament surrounded by such a gang, in the power of a gloomy, capricious tyrant, who debates whether or not he shall violate the most sacred of all public rights, I have nothing left but to temporize. . . . My most prudent line is to try to lull their suspicions by apparent frankness, and treat their impertinence with perfect equanimity.’2 1 Bengal Secret and Political Consultations, 2 September 1802, No. 9. 2 Ibid., 17 May 1804, No. 160A.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

51

Symes tried hard to impress the Burmese Court on the superior value of a British alliance to that of the French. India was given as a warning: ‘Tippoo had brought down destruction on himself by forming an alliance with the French.’ This and other illustra¬ tions proved ‘our irresistible force and vast possessions’ in India. The Viceroy of Pegu was much more convinced than the King by Symes’s arguments, and an answer to the British requests was delayed until a French mission arrived. When they came, they were far less impressive than Symes and his escort; they seemed vulgar and impolite to the protocol-ridden Court. The King was disappointed and soon got rid of them. He was then more forthcoming to Symes whom he saw for the first time, after a delay of six months. The French were now ‘suffered to sink into neglect’, whilst the Symes Mission was courted, and visits to the homes of the Princes and gifts of elephants’ teeth, rubies and stick lack were offered as a way of atonement for earlier neglect. Symes gallantly presented muslins, velvets, and silks to the two Queens and two Princesses. But he had to wait until 16th December 1802 for a reply to four points raised in his note on 30 October; the first dealt with ships of war belonging to an enemy; the second, beginning with the phrase ‘that it is not the wish of the British Government in India to extend its territorial acquisitions’, went on to ask for exclusive rights in Burma; the third confirmed the arrangements made in 1795 and the fourth recognized a resident on the part of the Company at Rangoon. The Burmese were much less formal; it was not their habit to sign on any dotted line. When Symes left the Court on 23 December he had no treaty, but he had a letter signed by the four principal Ministers, or Woongees, expressing the King’s views, addressed to the Governor General. Symes wrote of the King that he is ‘now pleased to be reconciled, declares his disposition to be friendly, and his ports free to us as usual. ... It seems he will treat with no power on earth as an equal, but he graciously received under his protection, China, Ceylon, Assam and the British Empire in India. He will grant a boon, but will not make a treaty; and whatever he gives, it must be in the form of a mandate, issued in favour of a sup¬ pliant. . . . His Majesty was angry, but is now in good humour; he was offended, and now forgives.’ On several points the King had markedly refrained from com¬ ment—the threat implied by the Rajah of Arakan, and the treaty which was to exclude the French from Burma. Symes believed that several advantages had been obtained from his mission:

52

THE MAKING OF BURMA

‘A positive, and to us a very detrimental, alliance between the Birmese and the French has been prevented; and French influence, if not eradicated, has at least been considerably diminished, even in his Majesty’s mind; whilst a powerful party has been formed in favour of the British, which, let the result be peace or war, cannot fail to give us an advantage, either in preponderating weight in their counsels, or (if such aid were necessary to our success) an easy conquest in the field. ‘On the policy of peace or war, as far as relates exclusively to the Birmese nation, I shall defer offering my opinion until I have the honor of a personal conference; but to avoid committing your Lordship to the necessity of pursuing measures, which might, for many reasons I could not judge of, be inexpedient, was ever the object of my most earnest solicitude. ... I have acquitted Ava with sufficient provocation to justify war, and with civility enough to continue at peace; nor do I apprehend that much advantage will acrue to our rivals in either event. At the same time when there is a choice there may be a preference; and I am decidedly of opinion that a paramount influence in the Government and administration of Ava, obtain it how we may, is now become indispensibly necessary to the intrest and security of the British possessions in the East.’1 Convinced of the importance of a British interest in Burma, and with a sense of personal responsibility and prestige, Symes was determined that the links he had made should not be snapped apart. He therefore persuaded the Company at Fort William to send Lieutenant John Canning back to Burma—he had proved a highly responsible member of the staff of Symes’s Second Mission. He himself instructed Lieutenant Canning. This officer was told ‘not to contend for public ceremonials of distinction’. So long as he was ‘treated with the respect due to a gentleman, and enjoy the same degree of freedom, that other strangers do’, he was ‘on no account to manifest dissatisfaction’. Lieutenant Canning did not have the patience which Symes showed on his own two visits to the Court of Ava. He arrived in Rangoon in May 1803 and until November he was on good terms with the local authorities. At this point, the Raywoon, who was very anti-British, and who would have had a quarrel with Captain Symes but for the latter’s patience, showed the same behaviour towards Lieutenant Canning. When the Raywoon directed that Canning’s letters should be opened, the young Lieutenant at once left for Bengal. Within a month, the Raywoon was out of favour, and the Viceroy of Pegu, who was friendly to the British, even wrote to Canning, apologizing for the incident. The King and his Court might have been capricious, but the Company’s men in Calcutta wanted 1 Bengal Secret and Political Consultations, 17 May 1804, No. i6oa.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

53

everything their own way. They assumed that they could treat the Burmese as they were treating the Indian maharajahs. Captain Canning went back to Burma a second time and he could not complain that his Missions were summarily treated. On 28 February 1810 he was received by the King. ‘The King . . . said that he rejoiced at the friendship that had long subsisted between the Burmah and British Governments which had at various times been strengthened by the Missions of Ambassadors, but that the Governor General, however friendly his intentions, holding only a delegated authority, he thought himself entitled to an Embassy from the King of England who was his equal in rank wishing me at the same time to convey such his sentiments to His Majesty in England. To this I replied that the King of England equally rejoiced with himself at the harmony subsisting between the two Nations and that I should make known his wish to the Governor General. . . . The King next enquired if there was a road from Benares to Europe and whether the Monsoon were favourable for our return to Bengal, observing at the same time that there was a good road by land. To the first I replied that a road does exist from Benares to Europe, but extremely difficult and to the second that the season was far advanced and that I feared we should find much difficulty in making our passage to Calcutta.’1

The Captain gave a very full and lively picture of the Burmese Court, and of the servility with which some of the Ministers treated the King. One of them, in drafting the King’s reply, wrote that the King of England was a vassal of the King of Burma. This had a quite different effect on the astute King from that which was intended; he asked who was the writer of such nonsense, ‘saying at the same time that the Sovereign of England was a King and carried a whole Parasol as well as himself’. Some of the Ministers guessed what was in Captain Canning’s mind about Arakan. One of them asked: ‘Why should we suffer these strangers to observe our country and become acquainted with the passes in the Moun¬ tains?’ He also heard that several Brahmins and Mussulmen were talking about the facility with which the provinces of Chittagong and Dacca might be added to the Burmese dominions, 2,000 men being judged sufficient for the operation. The King appeared still undecided as whether he should have recourse to force. When Captain Canning returned to Rangoon in April, he was on the lookout for any French influence: ‘I have not been able to discover that any Agent in the pay of France resides at Rangoon. The few French that are there are of the lowest and most despicable class. ... I have taken every precaution towards 1 Bengal Secret and Political Consultations, 29 May 1810.

54

THE MAKING OF BURMA

obtaining the earliest information should any French or Dutch Agent arrive at Rangoon and towards procuring copies of any official papers of which they may be Bearers.’1 Captain Canning was also thinking in terms of an invasion of Arakan, and found out all he could from people who came from that province. He had the impression that it was depopulated ‘and the few inhabitants that remain anxiously looking for a change’. The logic of this position is clear in his next remarks: ‘A small force would therefore probably be sufficient to effect the conquest of it. The possession of Arrakan offers considerable advantages to the British Government to which it seems destined by nature to belong, being a continuation of the plain that extends from Chittagong as far as Cape Negrais, and bounded on the East by the high range of Mountains that anciently formed the boundary of the Burmese Empire. The possession of this Province would place the entire extent of Coast from Cape Comorin to Cape Negrais under the British power, and eventually exclude French ships of war from their favourite haunts of Ramree and Chedate. The British territory would at the same time be secured from all future attacks from the Burmahs by the impenetrable barrier of the Arrakan Mountains which at a moment when our European enemies are endeavouring to excite that Nation against us, may be deemed a consideration of some importance.’2 To the Burmese, the picture looked quite different. They also had their ambitions and saw no reason why the provinces of Dacca and Chittagong should not belong to the Empire of Ava. Matters came to a head when the son of an Arakanese who had escaped to Chittagong in 1798 crossed the Naaf with troops, probably 20,000, and occupied land which had belonged to his father. His name was Kingbering (the Arakanese name is Chin Pyan). This was in 1811. The Burmese were suspicious. How, for instance, could King¬ bering have collected troops, armed them, seized boats and sailed across the Naaf without being observed by the local authorities? (In this case, the Magistrate of Chittagong, a Mr. P. W. Pechell.) When the Viceroy of Arakan complained, the Magistrate was extremely slow in making investigations. Meanwhile Kingbering recruited more men from among his compatriots in Chittagong, and by the middle of June he had overrun most of the province of Arakan. The capital finally capitulated on condition that the people s lives should be saved, but as soon as Kingbering’s troops occupied it, they were massacred. A British Officer, Captain White, who was on the spot shortly afterwards, heard the boasts o Kingbering s men, who paraded the streets with the heads of 1 Bengal Secret and Political Consultations, 29 May 1810. 2 Ibid.

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

55

their victims on tall bamboo poles. They were, they said, having their revenge on the Burmans who had occupied their country less than twenty years earlier. ‘The magistrate of Chittagong, and also the Government of Fort William, clearly saw the evil consequences likely to follow, and that the Burmese would conclude that the Mughs, who had for so many years been refugees under the protection of the British Government, inhabit¬ ing a populous and fertile part of the province of Chittagong, sur¬ rounded with the civil power and an efficient police, could not possibly have concocted their plans, concentrated their forces, and equipped themselves with arms and warlike stores adequate to risk such an enterprise, without the connivance, if not the aid of the British Govern¬ ment.’1

Captain White was correct. That is just what the Burmese believed. And it is here that Captain Canning comes into the picture again. The Government in Calcutta considered that he, with his knowledge of Burma, would be the best man to convince the Court of Ava that Kingbering did not have British support. Accordingly, in October 1811—that is, five months after Kingbeging had crossed the Naaf—Captain Canning was appointed to lead a Mission to the Court of Ava for the third time. Armed with letters and with presents, valued at 10,000 rupees, he arrived in Rangoon on 18 October. He met the British Resident who reported that so certain had been the Burmese Viceroy of British support for Kingbering, he had called them together and then laid an embargo on all their ships in the Port of Rangoon. The British community was equally convinced that Kingbering had not had British support, and had sent a letter to Calcutta on these lines, after which the embargo was removed. Captain Canning’s first step therefore was to address an official note to the Viceroy assuring him ‘that Kingbering and his adherents would not be allowed an asylum within the British territories, which on the contrary they would not, if possible, be permitted to enter, or having entered would be compelled to quit’. Whilst Captain Canning was in Rangoon, two flotillas started out, one from Rangoon, the other from Bassein, to attack King¬ bering. He was defeated and Arakan was reoccupied. Kingbering and some of his followers escaped to the mountains, whilst many of his troops escaped over the frontier into Chittagong. In spite of Lord Wellesley’s pledge ‘that the insurgents should not be received within British territories’, the Government in India 1 A Political History of the Extraordinary Events which led to the Burmese War, by Captain W. White, 1827, p. 27.

56

THE MAKING OF BURMA

informed the Court of Directors on 23 January 1812: ‘Such of the natives of Arracan who had been established in the district of Chittagong, as accompanied Kingberring, the magistrate has been directed to desire the commanding officer of the British troops to permit them to take refuge within the limits of our territories.’ Captain Canning was just starting for Ava when he was in¬ formed—on 18 March—of another incident on the frontier where the Burmese troops had crossed over into Chittagong. The Bengal Government at the same time sent ships to Rangoon to provide for their envoy’s safety, and, if necessary, to evacuate European residents. The Burmese interpreted the arrival of the ships as a warning that the British intended to occupy the town—a reflection of the suspicion which the Burmese had already acquired in their dealings with the Company. Captain Canning suggested to the Viceroy that if Burmese troops were withdrawn from the British frontier, and the damage they had done made good, the Governor-General was still willing to listen to their proposals. On five occasions Captain Canning was urged to go to the Court at Amarpoora. He refused, believing that he might be kept as hostage, a fear which he felt was con¬ firmed when he was warned that he might be taken prisoner in Rangoon. He stayed on in the city, and his long despatches in the Proceedings of the Bengal Government meticulously detail every hour. Once more, when relations were almost normalized, news came through in June 1812 that Kingbering had collected a con¬ siderable body of Mughs and had invaded Arakan. He had hidden for some months between the British advance posts on the frontier. According to Captain White’s report, on the night following the withdrawal of these posts to join the headquarters of the army at Ramoo, Kingbering and 500 of his followers took possession of one of them, and himself occupied the bungalow of the British officers. The entire possession of the frontier was now his since the British troops retired to Chittagong. Once more the Burmese believed in British connivance with Kingbering, and these suspicions were not removed when the Governor-General proclaimed ‘a reward tor the apprehension of Kingbering, and any of his chiefs’. The Rajah of Arakan was told that the Government ‘had under con¬ sideration the adoption of such further measures directed to the object of preventing the increase and repetitions of the late evils, as were consistent with the principles of British law’. When Kingbering invaded Arakan for the second time, he was met by Burmese troops near the frontier, and defeated. Once more he withdrew into British territory for protection. But when the

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL RULE

57

Burmese asked whether, in the event of Kingbering being taken, he would be delivered up, Captain Canning replied: ‘he had no authority to discuss that point, and that if the King of Ava had any claims on that or any other subject to make on the British Government, it was expected that he would send an ambassador to Bengal for that purpose’. Captain Canning still refused to go to Amarapoora, and left Rangoon on 16 September 1812, still believing that the King wanted to get him to the Court and to keep him as a hostage for the surrender of the chiefs taken in Arakan. In a lengthy letter (25 September 1812) which he sent to the Council, he described the moodiness of the King—his despotic and absolute commands and his ungovernable rage if they were not immediately obeyed. Whilst Captain Canning now advocated a threat to blockade Rangoon, his sub-interpreter, Edward De Cruz, was left in Burma to visit the Court. He was well received, but the King was ex¬ tremely angry that Captain Canning had refused to come himself. Mr. Edward De Cruz returned to Calcutta in February 1813, and no further envoy was sent to Burma. Relations were not broken off, but they remained difficult as long as the Arakan problem remained. The Governor-General in Council had not ruled out the possibility of war and even during Captain Canning’s stay in Rangoon (on 4 March 1812), he had said in a despatch to the Court of Directors: ‘It might indeed contribute to the future tranquility of our eastern territory, which has repeatedly been disturbed by the aggressions of the people of Arracan, and to the permanent relief of our government and our subjects from the effects of that arrogance and insolence to which both have so frequently been exposed, and which may, in a great degree, be described to anterior forbearance and concession on our part, if by example and experience that government were led to form a just estimate of the greatness of our power, and the weakness of its own. We state this observation, however, rather as tending in the present instance to alleviate the regret with which we must ever con¬ template the necessity of war, than as constituting on our part a prin¬ ciple of action.’1 The Burmese Court was undoubtedly arrogant, and the King had a childish love of display and enjoyed his power to demand, though not to compel, a suitable recognition by the Company, which now ruled India. But the Burmese considered that it was their right to demand the fugitives whom the British authorities stopped on their frontier. In April 1813, as Captain Canning had himself 1 Bengal Secret and Political Consultations, 4 March 1812.

58

THE MAKING OF BURMA

^ggested, a Mission arrived in Calcutta from Rangoon, formally SU demanding the surrender of Kingbering and other insurgents. The deputies said that they wanted them, not to inflict punish¬ ment, but to keep them so as to prevent them from engaging in further attempts to subvert Burmese authority in Arakan. Whether that was a serious objective or merely intended as an inducement to the Governor-General to hand over the insurgents, we do not know, but the request was turned down. The result was that the British authorities continued to give protection to those whom the Burmese Government considered as insurgents. Kingbering himself remained at large, and in August 1813 he sent a letter to the commanding officer of the British post at Ramoo, stating that he was planning another invasion of Arakan. He asked for British support, in return for which he would become their vassal, but if they opposed him, he was their enemy. The patience of the Company now began to wane, and in 1814 the Governor-General decided that the best method of defeating Kingbering was co-operation with the Burmese. Thus, after four years during which relations between Burma and Britain had deteriorated, the Governor-General in Bengal instructed the Magistrate of Chittagong to tell the Burmese authorities in Arakan that as they themselves had failed to seize Kingbering, they now invited the Burmese troops to enter the hills in the province of Chittagong to capture and disperse the Mugh insurgents. The Rajah of Arakan suspected this change in British policy, and, thinking that this might be a trap, arrested the messenger and kept him a prisoner for twenty days. Nevertheless, by the spring of 1814, the Burmese authorities, who were seriously concerned about the fugitives, co-operated with the British, and Kingbering sustained his first serious defeat when he raided Arakan for the fourth time early in April 1814. He was never again so formidable a leader. His followers gradually deserted him, and he remained a fugitive in the province of Chit¬ tagong until his death in April 1815.1 But peace did not come to the province of Arakan; Mugh refugees still continued their activities, and from time to time they were chased over into Chittagong. In May 1817, the Rajah of Kamree s son arrived with a letter from his father asking for the surrender of the Mugh fugitives. He made this observation: IT1?6 ,Enghsh Govemment does not try to preserve friendship. You seek for a state of affairs like fire and gunpowder. The Mughs of hal LySociety■Vo1' xxln-,933-

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL

RULE

59

Arracan are the slaves of the King of Ava. The English Government has assisted the Mughs of our four provinces, and has given them a residence. . . . There will be a quarrel between us and you, like fire. . . . Formerly the Government of Arracan demanded the Mughs from the British Government, which promised to restore them; but at length they did not do so. . . . Again the Mughs escaped from your hands, came and despoiled the four provinces, and went and received pro¬ tection in your country. If at this time you do not restore them accord¬ ing to demand, or make delays in doing so, the friendship now subsisting between us will be broken.’1 The Magistrate discovered that this letter had been written at the command of the King of Ava, who still believed that unless the Mughs were delivered up to the Burmese, there would never be ‘tranquility’ on the Chittagong frontier. The British Govern¬ ment’s reply was that ‘they could not, without a violation of the principles of justice on which it invariably acts, deliver up a body of people who had sought its protection’. But, they added, ‘that no restraint would be exercised for the purpose of effecting their removal from the British territories’. In plain language, the Government was beginning to take the matter of Mugh fugitives more seriously. At the same time, they were always suspicious of the Burmese. The fact was that the Burmese army had marched into Assam in 1817, defeating the Assamese army which was dependent on British arms. The Company saw the substitution of Burmese authority in Assam for the then feeble administration as a threat to their eastern frontier. Further, if the Company were to be sure of this frontier, they calculated that they must control Manipur, Cachar and Jaintia as well as Assam. In all three cases, they found themselves face to face with the Burmese, or those whom the Burmese supported. It was a case of the Company’s satellites against the satellites of Burma. The Burmese were now rivals on eastern frontiers of India and the First Anglo-Burmese war was the result. 1 Wilson, Doc. No. 4.

CHAPTER IV

The First Anglo-Burmese War

T

he Governor-General in Bengal now began to take a more

active interest in events on his frontier with Burma. When Lord Amherst succeeded the Marquis of Hastings, he was soon faced with a Burmese demand that the Company’s sepoys should be withdrawn from the island of Shapuree in the Arakan channel, since the Burmese maintained it belonged to the King of Ava. To a second letter three weeks later the Magistrate replied that the island had been in the possession of the Company from time immemorial. Further, if the Burmese tried to take it by force, the British would immediately repel it. In August 1823 a Burmese Vakil arrived in Chittagong with a letter from the Governor of Arakan to the Governor-General: ‘Our Sovereign is extremely fortunate, he reigns the great Kingdom by inheritance from his grandfather, since his accession to Paradise; he is replete with religious principles, a strict observance of the ten commandments, and of the twenty-eight articles of virtue; to him has descended the throne of his grandfather, which he now fills. There is a certain island, known, by the name of Sheen mabu,1 where a stockade has been erected, and a guard of native sepoys stationed; in order to their being removed I forwarded a letter on the subject to the Governor of Chittagong, by the hands of General ungdob, who brought an answer written on a sheet of paper, in the English, Arracanese, Persian and Hindu characters, declaring the said island of Sheen-mabu to belong to the English; I ask, therefore, if this communication is to be considered as an authorised one on the part of the Governor-General, if it be so, I assert that the Island of Sheenmabu does not appertain to the Bengal Government; from the time Arracan was subject to the original Arracanese Ruler, and since it came o t e o den possession, the island was always annexed to the Uerhawaddy [Arracanese] territories, and still belongs to our Sovereign. e guar stationed at that place, may be the occasion of disputes ^,0I.lg *he lower order of People, and of obstruction to the merchants “rs now carrying on commerce in the two great countries, and eventually cause a rupture of the friendship and harmony subsisting ThelnglfshTame wal'shapoo^or lhapurS!'bh°0’ ^ W°man’S

BURMA

BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

6l

between the two mighty states; to prevent such occurrences, it is requested that the guard now stationed at Sheen-mabu may be removed.’1 Lord Amherst reasserted the Company’s rights to the island. He regretted that the first communication he had had with Ava should have expressed any difference of sentiment between two friendly powers. If the Burmese were not convinced by his argu¬ ments, he would depute a high-ranking officer to adjust the frontier jointly with a qualified Burmese. But the Burmese were suspicious; they did not believe the gesture, and on 24 September they took matters into their own hands, and 1,000 men landed on the island of Shapuree, attacked and routed the guard of Sepoys, killing three and wounding four. After taking possession, the Burmese evacuated the island, and it was again occupied by British troops. The Governor-General addressed letters to the Rajah of Arakan and the Viceroy of Pegu stating his belief that the incident was a local one, carried out without reference to the Court of Ava, and that, pending reference to the Court, he gave the Rajah an opportunity of making reparations. The Rajah was not in this mood. ‘If you want tranquility’, he replied to the GovernorGeneral on 23 October 1823, ‘be quiet. But if you rebuild a stock¬ ade at Shein-ma-bu, I will cause to be taken by force of arms the cities of Dacca and Mooshedabad, which originally belonged to the great Arracan Rajah, whose Chokies and Pagodas were there.’ He added, verbally, through the messenger sent with the letter, that if the British Government tried to retake the island, he would invade Bengal by Assam and Goolpara and would enter Chittagong by the mountains from Goorjeeneea; the King of Ava was ready to invade British dominions from every point and had ordered the attack on Shapuree. When the British troops reoccupied the island, the Rajah informed the Magistrate of Chittagong that continued occupation would lead to war. By this time the issue of war or peace between Burma and Britain had already been settled by the Bengal Government. The records of the Secret Department, Bengal Military Proceedings, read: ‘October 8, 1823. Extract. Relative to the contemplated employment of Capt. Cheap. (Ass. Surveyor General) in the survey of the Chittagong Frontier, for the purpose of fixing our boundaries on the SouthEastern Quarter. For Communication to the Surveyor General. ‘October 17, 1823. Extract. Relative to the return of Capt. Baker 1 Documents illustrative of the Burmese War with an Introductory Sketch of the Events of the War, by H. H. Wilson. Doc. No. 17.

62

THE MAKING OF BURMA

whose services as interpreter to Political Assistant with the Expedition to Chittagong are for reasons stated no longer necessary, and regarding the preparation for the Defence of the Naaf and Chittagong Rivers for information and orders. ‘November 14, 1823. Extract. On the subject of the Flotilla and the Command of Lt. Bedingfield, to the means of Defence, against any invasions of our frontier by a Burmese force, and various necessary arrangements for consideration.’ The problem was not only the island of Shapuree, but of the frontier of Assam, where the Governor-General had taken certain steps months earlier. He planned to take Cachar, the backdoor to Chittagong, and as early as June 1823 he had informed the Court of Directors, of his plans to take advantage of internal dissensions in Cachar. He was proposing to determine, he told them, how far it would be expedient to extend to Cachar, the protection of the British Government, either on the usual conditions of political dependence or by any arrangement for the transfer and annexa¬ tion of the country, to the dominion of the Company, suitable provision being made for the chiefs and families. Thus the Rajah of Arakan was not so far wrong when he doubted the peaceful intentions of the Governor-General follow¬ ing the Burmese occupation of the island of Shapuree. For whilst Shapuree was, strategically speaking, the front door to Arakan, Cachar was the back door. The Burmese now also turned their attention to Cachar. Early in November 1823 they amassed a large force on the frontier of Assam, bordering Sylhet. At once the Burmese Commander was told to desist from invading Cachar, on the grounds that the British Government had prior rights ‘to interfere for the settle¬ ment and protection of the state’. The British Adjutant-General was already assuming war when he wrote: The Commander in Chief can hardly persuade himself that if we place our frontier in even a tolerable state of defence, any very serious attempt will be made by the Burmese to pass it; but should he be mistaken in this opinion, he is inclined to hope that our military operations on the eastern frontier will be confined to their expulsion thmLTnftemtrleu and,t0,tl|e re-establishment of those states along the line of our frontier which have been overrun and conquered by the SrAa,,TPt ,his> ,he internaI d0“in10ns ot the King of Ava, he isbey°?d inclined to Upon deprecate as instead of JTS’ ^resses and cities, he is led to believe that’we’should find nothing but jungle, pestilence, and famine.

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

63

It appears to the Commander in Chief, that the only effectual mode of punishing the insolence of this power is by maritime means; and the question then arises, how troops are to be created for the purpose of attacking the vulnerable parts of the coast.’1 The Burmese had no doubt that matters were approaching a showdown. At the beginning of January 1824 the Officiating Magistrate at Sylhet, writing to the Bengal Government, reported that 6,000 to 7,000 Burmese were assembled on the Manipur Side, and were probably destined for Cachar. Captains stationed at various points began to ask the Magistrate whether, if the Burmese army entered Cachar, they had his permission ‘to advance and give them battle’. This is what happened. On 17 January 1824 a British division under Major Newton, the officer commanding on the Sylhet frontier, advanced against the invading army from Assam before they were able to complete their entrenchment. ‘An attack upon the positions was immediately made in two divisions . . . upon the south face of the stockade . . . and upon the village adjoining. The Burmans in the village presently gave way, but those in the stockade made a resolute resistance. The Burmans lost about a hundred men, whilst six Sipahis were killed on the part of the British’.2 This was the first skirmish in the First Anglo-Burmese War. But before the two countries were formally at war, communica¬ tions passed between the two protagonists. ‘The Burmese Gen¬ erals’, the Agent to the Governor-General on the north-east frontier wrote to the Bengal Government, ‘have entered Cachar upon an invitation formerly given by Govind Chunder; they pro¬ fess to have no desire of retaining the country themselves, but said they mean to return to Assam via Jynteah, after re-visiting Govind Chunder, and securing the persons of their enemies, Gumbheer Sing, Margeet and Chourjeet, whom they declare they have orders to follow and seize wherever they may have retired.’ The Agent, Mr. David Scott, goes on to say that he has told the Burmese Commander-in-Chief, in three different letters, ‘that the country of Cachar was under the protection of the British Government, and that the occupation of it would therefore be resisted’. Then follows this report of his ultimatum: ‘I further called upon him, now that he was convinced that we were in earnest, to evacuate the country without delay, and prevent worse consequences; and I acquainted him that in case of refusal, I should 1 Wilson, Doc. No. 24.

2 Wilson, Historical Sketch, pp. 13-14.

64

THE MAKING OF BURMA

be compelled, however unwillingly, to order the advance of our troops, not only into Cachar itself, but also into Assam, whence the chief part of the invading army had proceeded.’1 The Burmese Chief Commanding in Assam was equally emphatic about his intentions: ‘Should Jorajeet, Marajeet, Kambeera Sing and the Cassayers enter the English territories, appre¬ hend and deliver them, to save any breach of friendship; so doing, no rupture will take place, and the commercial intercourse, now in existence, will continue. If the Cassayers enter the English territories and their surrender is refused, and if they receive protection, know that the orders of the most fortunate Sovereign are, that without reference to any country, they must be pursued and apprehended.’2 Whilst both sides were preparing on the Assamese Border for hostilities which now seemed inevitable, events were happening in Arakan, the Company’s main objective. Early in January 1824 the Governor-General warned the Court of Directors in Leadenhall that war might result if the island of Shapuree was reoccupied. He laid down this overall policy: ‘The most effectual measure, however, to humble the overweening pride and arrogance of the Burmese monarch; to bring the contest to a speedy termination; and to secure ourselves from petty encroach¬ ments and aggressions in future, would unquestionably be the con¬ quest and occupation of the principal islands and sea ports in the Ava dominions, such as Ramre, Cheduba Rangoon, and other places, for which purpose it would become necessary to fit out a combined naval and military expedition at the presidency. We do not indeed con¬ template this measure as one of immediate or probable occurrence, but in our communication to the Commander in Chief, we adverted to it generally, in order, that it might come within the scope of his excellency s consideration in deliberating on the nature and extent of the military arrangements which it would become expedient to adopt, it we should be forced, by the hostile acts of the Burmese government into an open rupture with that state. . . ,’3 The Governor-General concluded his despatch with the assertion that the is and of Shapuree was a British possession, that he had apprised the Court of Ava’ of his ‘determination to reoccupy it and maintain it as such’. J Any subsequent attack on that island therefore’, he concluded ‘oj any attempt on the part of the Burmese to execme their threais o’ 1 Wilson, Doc. No. 21.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., No. 23.

BURMA

BEFORE

COLONIAL

RULE

65

invasion elsewhere, must necessarily be considered hereafter, as under¬ taken by the King of Ava, and must be treated, accordingly, as a declaration of war.’1 The British troops did not stay long on the island of Shapuree. After reoccupying it, they fell victims to a form of sleeping sick¬ ness. When the Commanding Officer withdrew them, he suggested to the Rajah of Arakan that he should depute two men to meet two British officers to define and settle the boundary. The Rajah sent four men, who demanded the unconditional surrender of the island. These envoys argued the folly of going to war about this island, and suggested that they would be satisfied with a declara¬ tion that it be considered neutral ground, and remain unoccupied by either party. The Magistrate of Chittagong, who met them, firmly believed that if a post were re-established on the island, the Burmese would attack it. With this in mind, he told the Burmese envoys that the Company was determined to hold on to Shapuree, that they were prepared ‘to inflict instant and signal chastisement on those who might attempt to cross the Naaf for the purpose of disturbing that possession’. A few days later, four Ministers arrived from the Court of Ava. They crossed the Naaf in four large boats with armed men, landed on the island of Shapuree, stayed an hour, burnt the only hut, and withdrew. The Company, after withdrawing from the island, ordered an armed pilot schooner, the Sophia, to take up a position with the gunboats, immediately off the north-east point. On 20 January an armed Burmese vessel pulled alongside the Sophia, and then a second boat arrived from Mungdoo with an invitation to the Commander to call on the following morning at the post. Two men who went to Mungdoo were arrested and taken off into the interior, where they were kept for a month. The Magistrate of Chittagong at once addressed a letter to the Rajah of Arakan, pointing out that they believed the arrest was ordered by Ava, demanding the return of the men within a fixed time, and that unless this was done ‘the relations of peace between the two governments, already so seriously disturbed by past proceedings, would be held to be dissolved, and war to have actually com¬ menced’.2 The Rajah of Arakan replied, ‘distinctly avowing that Messrs. Chew and Royce were seized by the orders of the generals of the sultan of Ava, because their vessel was anchored off the island of Shapuree, and promising, at the same time, to treat them well’. The Magistrate reported that he considered the letter to 1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., No. 28.

66

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

have diminished his hopes for the release of the two men. Why, the documents do not suggest. What is much more significant is that the Governor-General, basing his instruction on Mr. Robert¬ son’s despatches, told him that ‘even should the demand for the release of Mr. Chew and his companions be complied with within the specified time, there would still remain two conditions to be required of the Burmese, compliance with which could alone induce the British Government to abstain from the just measures of retaliation, which we had provisionally authorized him to adopt. The first was ample apology and reparation for the insult offered to his government, by the treacherous seizure and temporary detention of the Hon’ble Company’s Officers—and the second, a declaration in writing, that the Burmese abandon all pretension to island of Shapuree, and engage to withdraw the troops they have assembled at Lawudhung and Mungdoo, and to reduce the detachments to their usual strength.’ The Governor-General in Council’s despatch continued: ‘We observed on this occasion, that the hostile and insulting conduct of the Burmese officers, in attacking and slaughtering our guard at Shapuree, which the government of Ava had failed to disavow, and had thereby acknowledged as its own act, after ample space had been allowed for explanation, might justly be considered to have already placed the two countries in a state of war, and to warrant the adoption on our part, of instant measures of retaliation without further notice.’1 The Burmese also assumed war, and assembled forces in a number of places on the Chittagong-Arakan frontier. The Governor-General, referring to the Mayor of Chittagong’s observations, wrote: 6 f“rther remarked, that considering the state of affairs in Cachar, lit dU^0 the Burmese on the Naaf, the British Government must be regarded as virtually at war with the empire of Ava, and that every measure of hostility might therefore justly be resorted to A

favou/of'offen^ve openrtions!,aaVOWed ^



M^sS«rrd“tee hdd ,he Same 1 Wilson, Doc. No. 28.

Their Secre, 2 Ibid.

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

67

February 20. 1824. Containing observations on the outrageous conduct of the Burmese in various parts of the Eastern Frontier and on the resolution of Government for chastising them, and securing the evacuation of Arrakan and Assam and fixing the boundary on the SE frontier of Chittagong. The necessary orders to be issued from this Department for carrying on the views of Government into effect. ‘February 20, 1824. Containing the Resolution of Government that the Force of Goalpara may be advanced into Assam.’ Four days later, the Governor-General in Council issued a long and solemn declaration, full of diplomatic cliches. It ended: ‘Anxious, however, to avert the calamities of war, and retaining an unfeigned desire to avail itself of any proper opening, which may arise for an accommodation of differences with the King of Ava, before hostilities shall have been pushed to an extreme length, the British Government will be prepared even yet, to listen to pacific overtures on the part of his Burmese majesty provided, that they are accompanied with the tender of adequate apology, and involve the concession of such terms as are indispensable to the future security and tranquility of the eastern frontier of Bengal.’ The Governor-General, Lord Amherst did not wait long for a reply. On 5 March he made a formal proclamation of war: ‘The conduct of the Burmese having compelled the British Government to have recourse to arms in support of its rights and honour, the Governor General in Council hereby notifies, that the Government of Ava is placed in the condition of a public enemy, and that all British subjects, whether European or Native, are prohibited from holding any communication with the people of that state, until the differences now unhappily existing shall be terminated.’1 The Viceroy of Pegu on behalf of Ava reasserted Burma’s claims to Shapuree, Chittagong and Dacca and announced that if the Governor-General wanted peace, he could address a petition to Maha Bandula who was fully empowered to settle the matter in dispute. But the war went on. General Sir Edward Paget advised the Government in India to aim at the following objectives: T. The explusion of the Burmese from the territory they had recently annexed in Assam. ‘2. To despatch an expedition by sea to subdue the maritime provinces of Ava, and, if possible, penetrate to the capital by the line of the Irrawaddi River. ‘3. To maintain a defensive attitude for the present on the Sylhet and Chitttagong frontiers, merely strengthening the forces there so as to 1 Wilson, Doc. No. 30.

68

THE

MAKING

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prevent any further incursions from the Burmese forces in Manipur and Arakan.’1 And so the First Anglo-Burmese War began. Ignorant of the causes, and even more uninterested in Asian affairs than they are today, the British public scarcely reacted to the declaration of war. One of the very few protests was made by Captain W. White in his small book, A Political History of the Extraordinary Events which led to the Burmese War. He based his facts almost entirely on the records of the Indian Government, presented to Parliament. It is factual and fully documented. This lone rebel did not oppose the war when it came, but he firmly believed that the East India Company possessed too much power and that India should be brought under the control of Parliament. Captain White was not alone in thinking that the East India Company in India had allowed the situation to drift into open warfare. Directors in London were perturbed, since their treasury was already depleted by a series of wars in subjugating India. It seemed doubtful wisdom to them ‘to court further military adventures in the barbarous borderlands’. But Lord Amherst and officials near these ‘barbarous borderlands’ were now for the first time free to tackle the King of Ava. The war was started in the Brahmaputra, in Cachar and in Arakan. The Burmese in Assam were regarded as controlling ‘a situation the most favour¬ able for making a sudden descent’ into the Company’s territories in northern and eastern Bengal. The Burmese troops in Cachar and in Arakan, Lord Amherst told the Court, were ‘fully bent on invading the British territory’. The Intelligence Branch Division of the Chief of the Staff Army Headquarters, India, gave the following as official reasons for the war: The extensions of the Burmese frontiers to the north and west, beyond the mountain ranges forming the western watershed of the Irrawaddy . ^increased the national arrogance and proved a source of friction with British India. The situations which in this way arose from time to time were the preponderating causes of both the first and second Burmese wars. And, as neither of these very severe lessons could teach the Burmese court that the British Empire in India was of a more 1 ai\ resipting nature than any of the countries mentioned in their oyal Chronicles, similar causes in course of time led to the total extinction of the Burmese monarchy and of national independence.’ Put more simply, the Company would allow no awkward rival on its frontiers, however limited that rivalry might be in actual 1 G. W. DeRhGPhihpe, A Narrative of the First Burmese War, p. 35.

BURMA

BEFORE

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69

practice. The Burmese were regarded as dangerous neighbours. On their side, the Burmese, with an inadequate knowledge as to what was involved, believed that they could drive out the white strangers from their western frontiers and consolidate their position in the Bay of Bengal. The British plan was to attack on three fronts: Assam (including Cachar); Arakan (including the islands of Cheduba and Ramree); and the seaports of Rangoon, Syriam, Martaban, Tavoy and Mergui. Captain Canning was the chief adviser since he had made three visits to the country. The troops had practically no know¬ ledge of what was happening. A young officer thus described his feelings when Sir Archibald Campbell, Commander-in-Chief, told the Commanding Officer of the Madras European Regiment to hold his corps in readiness for embarkation: ‘The regiment was all in commotion, and every one sought for informa¬ tion as to this new scene of operations; of which, however, there was but little to be obtained, as with the exception of Colonel Symes’s imperfect history, written many years previously, nothing was known of the people or country we were soon to invade.’ On the Assam front, the British forces were superior in numbers and equipment, and these factors, combined with what would now be called political warfare, determined the campaign. On entering Assam territory, a proclamation was made to exploit the unpopularity of the Burmese: ‘Inhabitants of Assam’, it said, ‘It is well known to you that some years ago, the Burmese invaded your territory, and that they have since dethroned the Rajah, plundered the country, slaughtered Brahmins, and women, and cows, defiled your temples, and committed the most barbarous outrages of every kind, so that vast numbers of your country¬ men have been forced to seek refuge in our dominions, where they have never ceased to implore our assistance. . . . Our victorious army has crossed the boundary, and ere long we will drive the barbarians beyond the Burmakhoond nor cease until we restore peace and security to your distracted country. . . . Come forward, therefore, without fear for the present or the future. . . . You may rest assured that we will never consent to depart until we exclude our foe from Assam, and re-establish in that country a government adapted to your wants, and calculated to promote the happiness of all classes.’1 The issue on this front was decided by the fall of Rangpur in January 1825, for this secured for the British troops ‘a key to all points from whence any future irruptions might be attempted from the eastward’.2 The morale of the Burmese armies was now 1 Wilson, Doc. No. 32.

2 Ibid., No. 92(c).

70

THE

MAKING

OF

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beginning to crack, mainly as the result of internal divisions. They could not depend on the local Assamese, and they failed to get the reinforcements they needed from Ava. Burmese sources explain that at this point the troops had been recalled to Rangoon,, where the main battles of the war were fought. In any case, Cachar was evacuated by the Burmese, leaving the Brahmaputra Valley under British control. There remained Manipur. Brigadier-General Shuldham, commanding Eastern Frontier, abandoned his first attempt; transport and the beginning of the monsoon made it impossible. Gambhir Singh, a Manipur prince, whom the British had used earlier against the Burmese with a promise of the territory if he could conquer it, now took up the challenge. The British authorities supplied the arms for 500 troops. Gambhir Singh advanced successfully and took the town of Manipur (famous during the Second World War as Imphal). MAHA BANDULA, A BURMESE HERO

The Arakan campaign was distinguished by the exploits of the Burmese Commander, Maha Bandula. He is still a great hero in Burma, and when sovereignty was transferred to the Burmese by the Labour Government in 1948, the big square in the centre ot Rangoon was renamed after him. His name first appears in official records in 1819, when he served as Sitke in the Burmese operations in Manipur. Two years later he led the army which occupied Assam, taking Gauhati, the terminus of the road between Burma and Assam. He returned to Ava, and became a close adviser of King Bagyidaw. In January 1824 when British preparations in Chittagong suggested the likelihood of war, he was sent to Arakan to command about 6,000 men. This was one of the factors which persuaded the Company in Bengal to declare war on 5 March 1824. P y Ear|y in May 1824, a portion of Maha Bandula's army crossed the ab0Ut fourteen miles J gl‘Shr Captaln Noton tried unsuccessfully to dislodge the Burmese, who then pushed on to Ramu. There ey almost anmhiHted the British force opposed to them Maha “ass wmTe-

^ 00ncern through°ut

Major

name of Bunnhan spreading dread and terror among ae populS

BURMA BEFORE COLONIAL

RULE

7i

The peasants on the frontier fled in dismay from the villages, and every idle rumour was magnified so industriously by timid or designing people, that the native merchants of Calcutta were with difficulty persuaded to refrain from removing their families and property from under the very guns of Fort William.’1 Lieutenant DeRhe-Philipe describes the popular belief that Maha Bandula would follow up his victory at Ramu by immedi¬ ately marching on Chittagong and Dacca. British reinforcements were at once poured into Chittagong. But Maha Bandula retired into Arakan before the end of July, and then opposed the advance of the British forces commanded by Sir Archibald Campbell in Rangoon. This now became the main centre of operations. Sir Archibald Campbell had organized his forces in the Anda¬ man Islands. His idea was to occupy the maritime provinces of Ava, and then to advance by the line of the Irrawaddy to the capital. On n May 1824 Sir Archibald Campbell with his fleet landed in Rangoon. They found the whole town deserted. His estimate was that out of a large population not more than 100 men were in the town. An officer of the Madras Regiment described the scene: ‘When the troops landed at the town of Rangoon, and found that it was deserted by the inhabitants, they wandered about in all directions to see what could be found; when, by some chance, a large party of Europeans discovered a cellar adjoining the house of one of the mer¬ chants, where there was a considerable quantity of brandy, which was soon broached, and the men as soon drunk. Information of this discovery quickly spread amongst the other part of the troops, who soon followed their example, and by nighttime the greater part of the European force in the town were intoxicated, and in this state they went rambling from house to house with lighted torches, and as may be fully antici¬ pated, the town was set on fire and a great portion of it consumed in consequence. . . . Fortunately for the troops in Rangoon, there was not a watchful enemy near them, as, from the state they were then in, few could have offered much resistance, had an attempt been made to retake the town. . . . The night was intensely dark, and the conflagration was certainly a magnificent sight, seen from the opposite side of the river at Dallah, where the regiment was stationed.’2 Two regiments were stationed in the stockade at Rangoon, surrounded by high grass. This same officer wrote: ‘The Burmese used to creep up on their hands and knees so silently 1 Narrative of the Burmese War, by Major J. J. Snodgrass, 1828, p. 74. 2 Anonymous Sketch of the Services in Burma of the Madras European Regiment.

72

THE

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OF

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through the long grass, as to approach within a few paces of a sentry without being perceived, when they would dart their spears at him, and glide away as swiftly as possible. Our pickets and sentries were kept constantly on the alert by secret and daring attacks of this nature, as they were unable to discover what force might be coming against them at night, when the enemy were lurking about the different pickets; this was often the cause of a good deal of firing.’ From Rangoon—that is, from the area round the Shwe Dagon— the men made visits to the surrounding jungle. They came upon armed parties of Burmese troops, often occupying stockades. These were attacked and there was a heavy loss of life on both sides. The first large-scale attack was a combined military and naval expedition on 3 June against the strongly fortified stockade on Kemmendine. One stockade was captured, but the attack on the principal fortification was a failure. The second attack on the Kemmendine stockade was successful —on 11 June—and this gave Sir Archibald Campbell the com¬ mand of the river immediately above Rangoon. The Burmese now withdrew their forces to Donabyu, fifty miles up the river. During the summer months, Sir Archibald Campbell carried out several campaigns and captured some of the southern maritime possessions. The district of Tenasserim, comprising Tavoy and Mergui, had long tracts of sea-coast, and potential supplies of cattle and grain. Tavoy was conquered easily on 8 September. At Mergui, H. H. Wilson records, ‘a more effective resistance was offered; a heavy fire was opened from the batteries of the town, which was returned by the cruisers with such effect, as to silence it in about an hour. The troops then landed, and after wading through misty ground between the river and a strong stockade, which defended the town, and being exposed to a brisk fire from the enemy they advanced to the stockade, and escaladed in the most gallant style.’ Mergui was occupied on 6 October 1824. In November, Martaban was occupied. The town was ‘stormed under a heavy fire of musketry. . . . The enemy did not leave the fort till we were within a few paces of them, and they even threw stones at us, when we were too much under the fort for the fire to reach us. Lieutenant Godwin and his troops entered the town on 1 November 1824. It was completely deserted. The houses too were emptied, ‘showing every preparation had been made, if the place was captured, to prevent our getting any property’. The rainy season was now over, and operations were again concentrated on Rangoon. Here the Burmese army had been re¬ inforced by the appointment of Maha Bandula. The Government

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL

RULE

73

of Ava, realizing the danger to the country when British transports arrived in Rangoon, had decided to call back their ablest General from Arakan and entrust him with the campaign in the delta. At the height of the rainy season, he had marched down the coast from Arakan and then over the An Pass. ‘After a march which for sheer bodily discomfort alone must have constituted a record they appeared before Rangoon ready and willing to fight. It had been a magnificent feat. Between Burma proper and Arakan lie the Yomahs, a long range of tumbled hills mounting to peaks 3,000 feet high. In August they are covered with sodden, un¬ inhabited jungle, the rain pours down incessantly, a thick mist drifts daylong across the hillsides and it is, comparatively speaking, bitterly cold. All the streams are in flood; leeches abound and there is little, if any shelter; the anopheles mosquito, carrying in Arakan a particularly unpleasant type of malaria which affects the digestive organs, is abroad in the jungle day and night and is reinforced by un-numbered quantities of other, non-malarial but equally ravenous, varieties. . . . Local legend still speaks of the epic journey of Bandula’s men and records vaguely that many died. They undoubtedly did; it must have been a water¬ logged nightmare.’1 The tactics of the Government in Ava now changed. The idea of Maha Bandula’s leadership was to fight a pitched battle with the foreigners. They aimed at exterminating the invaders or taking them as captives to Ava. Everything was done in the way of supplies to equip Maha Bandula and his troops. His arrival in Ava Captain Snodgrass describes as having ‘acted as a spell in drawing forward the lately reluctant peasantry to range themselves under the banner of so popular a leader’. ‘If I can trust the information I receive’, Sir Archibald Campbell wrote in a despatch dated 16 October 1824, ‘I may conclude that the united strength of the Burmhan empire is now collecting in my front. . . . The Bundoola, all the prisoners say, has arrived at Donoobew, with unlimited powers, and is to make a general attack on our position early in the ensuing moon.’ Subsequently reconnoitring parties reported that, from the number of war-boats and fire-rafts collected together, an attack was intended by Maha Bandula on Kemmendine. An eye-witness describes the night of 30 Novem¬ ber: ‘The night passed off with a challenge being heard; but before the day began to break, the river above Kemmendine suddenly became illum¬ inated by an immense mass of moving fire, and it was a grand sight, as 1 Journal of the Burma Research Society, ‘Danubyu’, by M. O. Tanner, August 1939.

74

THE

MAKING

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raft after raft came floating down towards us, blazing high and brilliantly. Every now and then, we saw men flitting about like demons around the fires, which hissed and cracked again as fresh combustibles were heaped on. But the most imposing part of the scene was a battery of warboats that followed close upon the rafts, presenting in the glare of the fires a most formidable appearance. ‘These fire-rafts are made of large beams of timber and bamboos tied together loosely, so that if the mass came athwart a ship’s bows, it could swing round and encircle her. On this platform is placed every kind of combustible; fire-wood, and petroleum or earth oil (which abounds in Burmah, and ignites almost as quickly as gunpowder and slightly explodes on being fired) being the principal materials. . . . Everyone felt the scene before us to be a grand and imposing spectacle; the whole jungle was illuminated, the Golden Pagoda at Rangoon, and everything round about us, was as clearly visible as at noon day; but this pause of admiration and astonishment was over as soon as the warboats came abreast of the stockade and commenced firing on us. At the same time we became aware that the enemy had also established themselves in the jungle, and had surrounded the stockade. ... On the land side the enemy appeared to be collecting in large masses, but they did not expose themselves, or seem inclined to begin the attack; and soon after, we saw them commence entrenching themselves on all sides, which they continued till they had completely invested the stockade, in defiance of a constant fire that we kept up on their working parties, which by-the-bye they returned with some effect.’1 Maha Bandula’s troops were planned in a semicircle from Dalla, round through Kemmendine and the Shwe Dagon Pagoda to the village of Pazundaung. His first attack on the British post at Kemmendine was repulsed. On 3 and 4 December he returned to the attack. The passage of the river was defended by British ships against the most furious assaults of the enemy’s war boats, ad¬ vancing under cover of the most tremendous fire-rafts which the unwearied exertions of British sailors could alone have con¬ quered . Then, on 5 December Sir Archibald Campbell success¬ fully attacked Bandula’s right wing. The total defeat of Bundoola’s army’, he wrote to the Company’s becret and Political Department, ‘was now most fully accomplished. His loss in killed and wounded, from the nature of the ground, it is impossible to calculate, but I am confident I do not exceed the fairest lmit, when I state it at 5,000 men. In every other respect the mighty os , w ic so lately threatened to overwhelm us, now scarcely exists.2 i\/rSilr nrCh,ib,al.d’S calculation Pr°ved wrong. On 14 December Maha Bandula s emissaries set fire to Rangoon and destroyed a 1 Officer's Narrative, p. 64.

2 Wilson, Doc. No. 76.

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

75

quarter of the town. On 16 December we find him saying in a despatch that Maha Bandula had succeeded in rallying and forming a force amounting to between 20,000 and 25,000 men, who ‘immediately commenced intrenching and stockading with a judgement, in point of position, such as would do credit to the best instructed engineers of the most civilised and war-like nations’. With this great superiority in numbers the Burmese General believed that he could defeat the British forces, and official despatches make no secret of what was involved. ‘When it is known’, Sir Archibald Campbell wrote, ‘that thirteen hundred British infantry stormed, and carried by assault, the most formidable, intrenched, and stockaded works I ever saw defended by upwards of twenty thousand men, I trust it is unnecessary for me to say more in praise of men performing such a prodigy.’1 Maha Bandula’s defeat in Kokine, combined with the loss of nearly 200 of his war-boats, forced a reconsideration of his position. He did not again attempt offensive operations, but concentrated on defending his positions along the river. He established his headquarters at Danubyu on a raised part of the Delta, command¬ ing the then main water route from Rangoon up country, at a point where the road from Rangoon to Bassein crossed the main Irrawaddy and continued along the high ground to Bassein. ‘In other words’, the Journal of the Burma Research Society article points out, ‘it was a central junction and supply depot; it was probably the disinclination to abandon the supplies of all kinds collected there that determined Bandula to hold the fortress.’ Sir Archibald Campbell now tried to persuade the Mons in the Delta to rebel. A proclamation addressed to them reads: ‘Inhabitants of Pegue; what folly can actuate you to attempt any further opposition to the British arms, you know and have seen, how weak and contemptible all the efforts of the Burmese army have proved, in combat with the troops I have brought against them. Against you, inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Pegue and the noble Talian race, we do not wish to wage war. We know the oppression and tyranny under which you have been labouring for a length of time, by the cruel and brutal conduct of the Burmese government towards you; they acknowledge you by no other title than the degrading and ignominious appelation of slaves; compare, therefore, your condition with the comfort and happiness of the four maritime provinces: viz Mergui, Yeah, Tavoy and Martaban, now under the protection of the British flag ... choose from amongst yourselves a chief, and I will acknowledge him! ! !’2 1

Wilson, Doc. No. 8i(a).

2

Ibid., No.

121(B).

76

THE MAKING

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There was some response, and Mon support to the British armies in the rear was an important strategic asset when troops began their march to Ava. By the middle of February plans were ready. One column of 2,468 men marched by road under Sir Archibald Campbell; the other of 1,169 men went by the river under General Cotton. A reserve of 3,781 was left in Rangoon. When General Cotton arrived near Danubyu, he found Maha Bandula ready to fight with about 15,000 troops. He sent a flag of truce to the Burmese General on 1 March, with a summons to surrender the place, giving one hour for reply. Bandula’s reply arrived. It was dignified and conclusive: ‘We are each fighting for his country, and you will find me as steady in defending mine, as you in maintaining the honour of yours. If you wish to see Donabew come as friends and I will shew it you. If you come as enemies, Land!’ General Cotton’s first attack failed, and he was reinforced by Sir Archibald Campbell’s column on 25 March. He reported to the Secret and Political Department: ‘We are now, night and day, employed in preparations for the reduction of Donabew. It is commanded by Maha Bundoola in person, and the garrison is rated at fifteen thousand fighting men, of whom ten thousand are musqueteers.’ The real attack on Danubyu began on 1 April. ‘The heavy guns were now ready in battery by the afternoon but were not brought into regular use, only the necessary shots for ranging pur¬ poses being fired. The mortars and the rockets however were kept hard at work and the fire was continued all night causing much loss inside the crowded fortifications. At daylight the breaching batteries opened in earnest and for a short space of time smashed their heavy missiles into Danubyu but to the utter surprise of everyone practically no reply came from the ramparts. Suddenly a group of Burmese deserters together with a couple of lascars who had been taken prisoners, ran into the British trenches with the astounding news that Danubyu had been evacuated. The troops who were already waiting under arms simply walked peacefully across the open ground and into Danubyu unopposed. Resistance had collapsed like a house of cards. . . . The reason for the abandonment was not far to seek. On April 1st Bandula himself had been killed by a rocket or a mortar shell and with his death his army fell to pieces. There was nobody to take his place although it is related that his brother tried to assume command with indifferent success, his failure being rewarded by execution.’1 1 Journal of the Burma Research Society, Vol. XXIX, Part II.

BURMA BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

77

Bandula’s tactics at Danubyu have often been questioned. If he had continued to adopt the guerrilla tactics of his earlier days, he could have presented the British forces with a problem not unlike that in Malaya. Professor Pearn states that if he had continued ‘the harassing tactics of making frequent small scale attacks on out¬ posts and cutting off foraging parties, the Company’s force would have been kept immobilised until in disgust the whole operation was abandoned’. That seems unlikely, but the suggestion is prob¬ ably correct that Maha Bandula had not grasped the overall tactics of British military strategy. ‘In many ways he was simply the child of his age and clime but his bravery and audacity, his unquestioned ability as a soldier, his tremen¬ dous personality and his unique driving power, all prove that he had that touch of genius that constitutes the real commander. Few but a Bandoula could have held his army together in its march from Arakan across the hills in the depth of the rains, whilst his attacks at Rangoon, his field-works at Danubyu, his prompt recognition of the weakness of the British right and his equally prompt attack on it, his final endeavour to deal with the British forces in detail when he realised that the flotilla would succeed in passing his guns, all bear the hall-mark of the born soldier. ... Had the discipline and the organisation of the Burmese Army been commensurate with the genius and ability of its commander, it is a question whether the War itself could have been brought to a successful conclusion without an expenditure of time, men and money on the part of John Company utterly disproportionate with the benefits to be expected from victory. As it was, however, the removal of the keystone, namely Bandula himself destroyed at one blow the cohesion, that elevated his forces into a real army. The debacle was complete.’1 Sir Archibald Campbell left Danubyu on 3 April 1825, crossed the Irrawaddy and marched on to Prome, meeting little resistance. By withdrawing Maha Bandula from Ramoo and following up his victories, the Burmese had, as H. H. Wilson remarked, ’restricted the fruits of a battle gained to the construction of a stockade’. Resistance in Arakan collapsed, and when Sandaway was occupied at the end of April, the entire province of Arakan was under British control. On the third front—in Assam—the Burmese had already retreated from Cachar and the Brahmaputra Valley, and Manipur was taken by Gambhir Singh. In spite of this gloomy picture, some Ministers in Ava strongly favoured continuing the war. Sir Archibald Campbell sent out reconnoitring parties from Prome in August 1825, on the basis of whose reports he wrote to the Secret and Political Department in 1 Ibid.

78

THE

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Bengal: ‘The total of this army, I have reason to think, upon the most moderate calculation, will not fall short of forty thousand men, under the chief command of a half-brother of the King, named Memeeaboo, second Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese army since the death of Bandula.’ He had less than 3,000 effective men to oppose them. On instructions from Bengal, Sir Archibald Campbell wrote to the Burmese Ministers saying that he was authorized to start negotiations for peace. Immediately he received a reply inviting him to send a mission to Prince Memia-Boh to state his terms. A mission left at once for Ava. The British officers were cordially received and an armistice arranged for one month. In October the British Commander met the Kee Wonghee and Burmese Com¬ missioners at Newbenzeek, where, after the usual compliments, they presented the British terms for peace: that the Government of Ava recognize the independence of Manipur; desist from inter¬ ference with Assam and Cachar; cede Arakan and its dependencies; receive a British Resident at Amarapoora; pay 2 crores of rupees to pay for the war, Rangoon, Martaban and Tenasserim provinces being held in pledge by the British Government until the fine was discharged. An extension of the armistice was arranged in order to give the Court more time to discuss the terms. A few hours before it expired, on 1 November, the Burmese complained that the English generals had ‘brought forward too many subjects’ at the meeting at Newbenzeek that during the armistice, naval movements indicated the insincerity of the generals. They con¬ cluded : If you sincerely want peace, and our former friendship re-established; according to Burman custom, empty your hands of what you have, and then, if you ask it, we will be on friendly terms with you, and send our petition for the release of your English prisoners, and send them down to you. However, after the termination of the armistice between us, if you shew any ^ inclination to renew your demands for money for your expenses, or any territory from us, you are to consider our friendship at an end.’1 This was the end of negotiations for the time being. The Burmese Court was highly indignant at the proposed terms, and ordered the renewal of the war. The first move they made was on Prome. Despatches from officers commanding the regiments taking part suggest a far bigger attack than was anticipated. Such phrases 1

Wilson, Doc. No.

149(B).

BURMA

BEFORE

COLONIAL RULE

79

occur as ‘heavy well-directed and destructive fire’; ‘very heavy fire’; ‘great boldness’; ‘the enemy’s galling fire’; ‘a dreadful harrassing march’; ‘every way well armed’. The attack continued throughout November; the Burmese armies moved southwards and almost encircled the British troops, thus threatening com¬ munications between Rangoon and Prome. On i December Sir Archibald Campbell made a combined naval and military attack on every possible part of the Burmese line. The Burmese armies retreated, leaving their commissariat, guns and muskets and horses on the ground. Their losses in men were very heavy, and included the General Maha Nemiow. At this point a Burmese messenger from the King of Ava arrived under a flag of truce, with powers to conclude a peace treaty. They wanted a truce for twenty-five days. Sir Archibald Campbell agreed to twenty-four hours. When the Burmese allowed a British flotilla to pass them and to occupy Ne-lown, the British authorities considered this as evidence of Burmese sincerity, and negotiations thereupon com¬ menced. The British repeated the terms put forward on the former occasion in October. The Kolein Menghie was obviously agitated about the financial clauses and said that if their treasury had not been completely emptied by the war, the King would not have been willing to give his consent to peace talks. The Kolein Menghie was willing to give up Assam and Manipur, but objected to the suggestion of Gambhir Singh as the ruler of Manipur. He was willing to concede Yeh Mergui and Tavoy, but made a strong claim to Arakan. To this, the British General Robertson replied: ‘We must keep Arakan. If it be returned to you, no care that our judges or your Governors can take will prevent eternal quarrels upon the frontier. We must have the mountains as a barrier between us and you to prevent the possibility of the recur¬ rence of war. The question is not how much you will cede to us, but how much we shall return to you’. A draft treaty was signed on 3 January 1826 and an armistice agreed on till 18 January. One other condition which was in Lord Amherst’s mind, but which Sir Archibald Campbell did not put forward, was that the King of Burma should be asked to agree not to allow any American or any subject of any European power except England to settle or to trade in his dominions. The man on the spot thought that the idea betrayed far too much official British anxiety and might upset some of the European merchants in Burma. When the day arrived for the return of the ratified treaty from Ava, the messengers asked for a further delay of six or seven days.

8o

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

This was refused and hostilities recommenced. A few days after¬ wards, two prisoners—the American missionary, Price, and the English Dr. Sandford—were released and sent as envoys to the British camp. They were told that the terms still held good; that the British army would return to Rangoon on the payment of 25 laks of rupees, that the Burmese territory would be evacuated upon the payment of another similar amount and that the remain50 lakhs should be paid in equal instalments in two years. The King objected to the money payments and Sir Archibald Campbell advanced on to Yandabo. Here he was met by Mr. Price and Dr. Sandford, two Burmese ministers and all the British prisoners. The Burmese were authorized to sign a treaty embodying all British demands. The delegation then and there paid 25 lakhs of rupees in gold and silver bullion. The Treaty of Yandabo was signed on 24 February 1826. The war had lasted two years. By this Treaty, the King of Ava gave up all claims to, or right of interference with, Assam, Jaintia, Cachar and Manipur. He ceded to the East India Company in perpetuity Arakan proper, Ramree, Cheduba, and Sandoway, and agreed to the Arakan mountains as the boundary between the two countries. He also ceded the four districts of Tenasserim, Yeh, Tavoy and Mergui. He agreed to receive a political resident at the Court of Ava, to conclude a commercial treaty and to pay a fine of 1 crore of rupees in four instalments. The British agreed to retire at once to Rangoon, and to quit the territories of Ava when the second instalment of the fine was paid. The cost of the war in lives and in money to Great Britain was enormous. In all 40,000 troops were employed, and of these 15,000 died in Burma. The proportion of casualties in action was small; for example, of the 3,586 British troops who landed in Rangoon on the first expedition, 3,115 were buried in Burma from wounds or disease, only 150 being killed in action. The war cost .£13 million, of which £1 million was recovered from Burma by indemnity.

PART

TWO

Prelude to Empire

CHAPTER V

Into the Interior

T

First Anglo-Burmese War had been primarily an affair of military strategy. It was important to the planners in Calcutta to have a strategically viable frontier on the north-east and the east of the newly acquired territories of India. The strategist saw Burma as a door to a much wider area. ‘Its interesting situation between Hindoostan and China’, J. Blacker, Surveyor to the Government, told the Governor-General, ‘is a striking fact and leaves nothing to be wished, but the means and opportunity of exploring it.’1 And as soon as Rangpur was reached in the begin¬ ning of 1825 and the Burmese troops retired from Assam, sur¬ veying parties were sent out to make a detailed examination of newly acquired territories. The war was not yet over on other fronts, so that no final arrangement could be made about Assam. Lieutenant Burlton was instructed to explore the Brahmaputra, and with only a surveying compass and without any instruments for measuring distances he surveyed the river as far as Sadiya. Later he was found to have made practically no error in his calculations. Captain J. F. Neufville explored another route—from Rangpur through the Hukawng Valley to Ava, which was the way the Burmese had entered Assam in 1817 and 1820. And in 1825 this was their road of retreat from British troops. Captain Neufville was energetic and ruthless. He assumed that it was his right and his duty to push the Burmese out of Assam and initiate the so-called ‘wild tribes’ into a full appreciation of Britain’s role as empire-builder. He was well stocked with gifts for the chiefs, ‘both civilized and savage’, as he described them; cloth, scissors, clasp knives, native rum, spying glasses, flints. He reported his activities to Mr. David Scott, a political agent who had been put in charge of negotiations with anyone who might be friendly. he

‘The expulsions of the Burmese from the Assam portion of the Singpho country leaves me at liberty to adopt such measures for the liberation of the remaining captives and the general pacification of the low country as circumstances place at my command and I regret to say that 1 Bengal Secret and Political Proceedings, 14 May 1824

84

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

I see no alternative other than forcible subjection to our will and power.’1 On the easternmost parts of the country, inhabited by the Moamarias, the Khamtis and the Singphos, there was consider¬ able resistance to British administration. Mr. Scott told Captain Neufville that it was his pioneering work ‘to conciliate these tribes and to form a band of alliance to resist all irruption from the eastward and southward’. In tracing a way as far as Ava, through the Khampti country, David Scott told his young officer: Tar. 5. Under the color of making use of them to defend the passes of the above mountains, it might not be inconsistent with the policy if Government to grant annual stipends to some of the most influential Chiefs in that quarter and to endeavour by such means to carry into effect some arrangement for the prevention of depredations in the low¬ lands such as were formerly adopted in the Boglepore Hills under somewhat similar circumstances.’2 At this time, 7,500 Singphos armed with 650 muskets attacked the Moamaria country on the eastern front of Assam. An appeal for British help was made, and Lieutenant Neufville was empowered to help the chiefs and to conduct negotiations with the Singphos. The Council in Calcutta viewed these events with great concern, but their representative was given every help he needed. Reinforcements arrived, which he took right into the heart of the Singpho territory, anticipating a Burmese offensive. Before he could complete operations the appearance of a Burmese force induced the Singphos to resist and military operations lasted for more than six months. This is how he described the tactics adopted by the Burmese: ‘It is a common ruse de guerre of the Burmese when placed in difficult circumstances to detach a small party secretly by night to a distance which on the following day rushes into the village or stockade with noise and clamour announcing itself as a reinforcement from Ava and followed up by other bodies. The same manoeuvers are in turn resorted to to bring up the succeeding parties till the impression is firmly established throughout the surrounding country of the actual arrival of fresh forces.’3 The Singphos had taken Assamese as slaves. Lieutenant Neufville organized raids on the villages, and took away the slaves. 1 ^eljer 10 David Scott, Agent to the Governor-General, from Lieutenant ^9Un"l e’ DfPuty Q M.G., 25 June 1825, Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 330. Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 330, 8 April 1823 3 Ibid., Vol. 331, 1 May 1825.

2

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

85

In the course of six months at least 6,000 men and women were removed. Some of them were incorporated in his army; others were put on the land. The word ‘slaves’ is something of a mis¬ nomer. When Neufville’s men removed them from Singpho homes, they were allowed to take away stores of rice and food, so that during the first few months of their emancipation they were no charge on the British forces. Towards the end of his campaign against the Singphos, Lieutenant Neufville wrote: ‘I am happy to state that the greater part of the Assamese slaves liber¬ ated in the former Expedition were far from being in a destitute con¬ dition, having almost all of them brought away the plunder and property belonging to their Masters, where they were employed to carry at the time of their escape, and also numerous heads of cattle, the whole of which I permitted them to appropriate and take to their own houses whither they were most anxious to proceed without delay. They had almost as much grain as they could carry for a temporary supply (which they had been for some time unaccustomed to) and I trust that they will not have experienced subsequently any severe privation.’1 Lieutenant Neufville’s operations against the Singphos lasted until the end of August 1825. When resistance no longer seemed possible, seven of the leading Singpho chiefs or Gams surrendered their arms, their ammunition and their Assamese slaves. At the end of December Burmese forces again appeared, but they were beaten back by the Rangpur Light Infantry, and they retreated towards the Hukawng Valley. Had the Burmese and Singphos joined their forces, Lieutenant Neufville would have had a much tougher problem. THE HUKAWNG VALLEY

The Company now began to pay more attention to Assam and to share the views of David Scott, who regarded it not only as a potentially rich province itself, but as the link between India and China. The Singphos lived on the direct trade route through the Hukawng Valley. He saw Sadiya as a commercial centre as well as an administrative headquarters and a military outpost. But the Singphos were not so interested in trade, if only because it meant the increase of British influence. Although most of the Gams had signed the agreement with the Company in 1826, they still dreamed of expelling the foreigners and revenging the paci¬ fication carried out by Lieutenant J. B. Neufville. For three years they prepared their insurrection. 1 Letter from Lieutenant J. B. Neufville to Agent to the Governor-General, dated Seeying, 4 August 1825, Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 333.

86

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Neufville, as Political Agent, Upper Assam, informed Mr. David Scott in December 1829 of the resistance he had to meet from local chiefs, led by Rajah Gunder Kowar. Rajah Gunder Kowar, the son of the Pretender, had addressed letters to a number of people which Neufville described as ‘of a decidedly treasonable nature’. ‘I have the honour to report that whilst at Suddeya I received accounts of a conspiracy formed against us by some of the ex-nobles of Assam who were implicated in the former insurrection of Goodhur Khoor in 1828, and other desperate characters, who having secreted themselves in the hills and jungles to the eastward of Rungpore, had hitherto eluded our endeavour to apprehend them, and now, taking advantage of the late irruption by Wackun Khoonjun and the renewal of dis¬ turbances in the Casseya Country (with both of which they are said to be acting in concert) had collected about 3 or 400 men, with the vow of making head against us, and were dispatching their companies in all directions to rally the disaffected and to detach our adherents from their allegiance, but with so little previous circumspection that almost all their letters were regularly transmitted to me by means of one of which I was able to intercept and apprehend the son of the leading rebel the Ex-Bur Gohain, who was deputed to raise the Khamtis. ‘I yesterday received a report that they had attempted to surprise the post at Rungpore on the 25th inst., which Lt. Matthee had previously increased to a Semadar and thirty. Their usual plan of attack is by secretly setting fire at night to some of the huts in or near the lines, and then falling upon their adversaries in the confusion, which with undisciplined troops is generally successful, in this instance they were of course repelled by the Sepahees and put to flight with the loss of three Assamese, iron guns, with other rude arms, and were followed by the Semadar for about 10 miles (in which a few were taken) till all trace of them was lost. Immediately dispatched a part of the Regiment to Rungpore with some Assamese Militia to proceed against them with orders to follow them up till they are utterly broken and as I had previously called upon the surrounding Chiefs of the North and East of them to co¬ operate I trust it will be impossible for the leaders to escape either death or capture. I am assured that this conspiracy has numerous secret partisans at this place, and attempts have been already made to set fire to my lines by arrows and other missiles an exploit in which the Assamese are perilously expert and which I fear it is quite impossible to guard against for any length of time without exhausting the men by incessant harrassing duty.’1

The Wackun Khoonjun mentioned in the letter was one of the „T^nra6^011^B; ^eufvi*ie to,C- Fagan, Adjutant-General of the Army, 21 April 1830, Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 357. 3

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

87

leading Khamti chiefs, and was the leader of resistance for several years. He was a subject of the King of Ava, and the British officers were convinced that he and others were obtaining Burmese sup¬ port. Mr. George Swinton, Secretary to the Government in Council, told Major Burney how to make a protest without an open quarrel with the King: ‘. . . It will be sufficient to give the Burman Ministers to understand that an improper use is made by our rebellious subjects in Assam when taken in arms, of the name of His Burmese Majesty as lending his countenance to their petty insurrections, an assertion to which your Government takes no credit; but the truth of which you are assured His Majesty will be happy to have an opportunity of distinctly disavowing.’1

About 2,000 Singphos from the hills bordering the Hukawng Valley left their homes at the beginning of 1830. Singpho Chiefs, who had agreed (in the Treaty of 1826) to keep a special lookout for any gathering of people, were friendly to them, and the British authorities at Sadiya were given so many differing versions that they had no idea of what was really happening. Bisa Gam, whom Lieutenant Neufville had considered a British ally, proved to have retained his loyalty to his own kinsmen, and tried to please both sides. Lieutenant Neufville took up a position about ten miles up the Brahmaputra commanding the mouth of the River Noa Dihing. He received intelligence that the Singphos had come down the river on bamboo rafts and were trying to gain a foothold on the bank of the Brahmaputra. He then successfully took the Singphos by surprise and dispersed them. When they reassembled and erected stockades, he sent a detachment to make the attack on them. The Singphos abandoned their stockade and were again routed. This was their last organized rebellion on a considerable scale until 1843, though they rose in revolt several times. The Singphos temporarily pacified, the next move was to find a way through the Hukawng Valley to Ava. The Resident, Major Burney recognized that this meant opening a back door to Ava as well as giving access to the rich amber and jade mines in the Mogaung area. Suddenly he was presented with an opportunity to spy out the land. The King had appointed a new Governor of Mogaung, and he was just making plans to leave Ava to take up his new duties. Major Burney suggested that one of his officers might accompany the Governor. The Burmese were unwilling at first; they were suspicious of the Resident’s desire to wander about 1 Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 357.

88

THE MAKING OF BURMA

in their country. Ultimately they gave way, and Major Burney appointed Captain Hannay to do the job. His instructions to the Captain show that the Burmese had some grounds for suspicion. They read: ‘It would be useful for you to ascertain as many routes as you can from Bamau into China, and from Mogaung into Assam. You will also take particular pains to ascertain how far the plan proposed by Captain Jenkins of establishing a regular route between Suddiya and the Burmese dominions is likely to succeed, what are the difficulties of the overland route between Mogaung and Assam, and how they may be removed, what are the products and their usual prices on the Burmese side, what articles of British and Indian manufacture are in demand there, and the present rate at which they are selling; what duties are levied, and in what manner, what oppressions or difficulties traders are subjected to and in short ascertain the present state of this commerce and the best mode of extending and improving it, taking also every opportunity of pointing out to the Governor of Mogaung and other Burmese officers the great advantage and convenience to themselves of establishing a regular trade between their territory and Suddiya.’1

On 22 November 1835 the new Governor of Mogaung and Captain Hannay left Ava with a force of about 1,200 men, in a fleet of thirty-four ships of various sizes. Above seventy miles beyond Ava, Captain Hannay wrote in his journal, they found no one was allowed to navigate the Irrawaddy except the Chinese, ‘and no native of the country even is permitted to proceed above that post, excepting under a special licence from the Government. The trade to the north of Ava is entirely in the hands of the Chinese and the individuals of that nation residing at Ava have always been vigilant in trying to prevent any interference with their monopoly’. Captain Hannay was greatly impressed by Pagan stretching as far as the eye could reach. At Shwezi-goung a large pagoda, he was able to get a good view of the sourrounding country and to find out more accurate information of the site of the celebrated mines of Momeit than had been practicable at an earlier period of his voyage .« He discovered a considerable trade in the rubies of Momeit, in ngapi and pickled tea. On 13 December the party reached Katha, and even at this remote spot he found a ‘tolerable display of British goods, and a bazaar well stocked with ‘good native vegetables of various sorts, fresh and salt fish, pork sold by Chinamen, dried cocoanuts, sugar-cane, and rice from the coarsest to the best quality’. 1 India Political Consultations, Range 194, Vol. 5, Consultation 15, 6 February 1036.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

89

On the journey, the local people were always extremely hospit¬ able; houses were erected for Captain Hannay’s accommodation wherever they stopped; presents of rice, food and vegetables were given to him daily, and invariably in the evenings a band of singers and dancers entertained him. The fact that Captain Hannay was an officer accompanying the Governor of Mogaung probably made a difference. There was nothing to suggest that he was in fact spying out the land for future occupation. When the party arrived in Bhamo, they found a cosmopolitan town: Chinese, Shans, Kachins as well as Burmans and Assamese. People lived in ‘large comfortable houses, which are thatched with grass, and walls made of reeds’. ‘With the exception of Ava and Rangun’, he wrote, ‘it is the largest place I have seen in Burmah, and, not excepting these places, I certainly think it the most interesting.’ Captain R. B. Pemberton, who accompanied Hannay, made this first-hand observation: ‘The people of Bamo were so strongly impressed with the idea that Capt. Hannay’s only object was to find a road by which British troops might penetrate to China, that he found it extremely difficult to obtain any information from them regarding the routes into that country. The Chinese themselves, however, proved more communicative, and from them he learnt the existence of several passes from Bamo into Yunan.’1 When the party left Bhamo, the escort was reinforced by 150 soldiers and a number of families, who enjoyed the protection of such a large convoy. At Tshenbo, they all transferred to smaller ships better adapted for the navigation of the Mogaung River. Finally, on 5 January 1836, they arrived. The new Governor was met with much ceremony. Captain Hannay shared it; he and the new Governor ‘proceeded hand in hand through a street of Burman soldiers, who were posted from the landing place to the Myo-Wun’s house, a distance of nearly a mile’. They were pre¬ ceded by people carrying spears, gilt chattas, etc., ‘and at intervals during our walk, a man in a very tolerable voice, chanted our praises’. The new Governor soon settled down to work; the next day he started a system of taxation which would pay for his appointment. His predecessors had had the same idea, and the local people were poorer as a result. They were astonished to see Captain Hannay; they looked at his compass and at his sextant, which they believed 1 Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, April 1837. Abstract of the Journal of a Route travelled by Captain S. F. Hannay. By Captain R. B. Pemberton.

90

THE MAKING OF BURMA

enabled him to see what was happening in other countries. He obtained beautiful specimens of jade. Captain Hannay saw that the position of Mogaung at the junc¬ tion of Namyang and the Mogaung Rivers gave it a special im¬ portance as a trading centre. Then, as now, a considerable Chinese population was skilled in the working of jade. In 1956 I watched Chinese planing large pieces of rock, and polishing the jade. The art of knowing the value of the stone is one that has gone down from generation to generation, and this family, in which the men were polishing and the women were selling brooches and other jewellery, is probably descended from the Chinese Captain Hannay described more than a century ago. He observed: ‘The Chinese choose pieces which, although shewing a rough and dingy-coloured exterior, have a considerable interior lustre, and very often contain spots and veins of a beautiful bright apple-green. These are carefully cut out, and made into ring stones, and other ornaments, which are worn as charms. The large masses are manufactured by them into bracelets, rings and drinking cups, the latter being much in use amongst them, from the idea that the stone possesses medicinal virtues.’1 The Governor of Mogaung was not surprised to find Hannay insisting on exploring the Paktoi Range, and he refused to give him permission to go any further than the amber mines. ‘Repeated remonstrances were necessary’, Captain Pemberton records, ‘to induce the governor to proceed even so far, and it was not until the 19th of the month that an advanced guard crossed the river, and fired a feu de joie, after performing the ceremony of sacrificing a buffalo to the Nhatgyee (or spirits of the three brothers Tsaubuas of Mogaung) without which no expedition ever marches from the town. Even then, the dogged obstinancy of the governor induced him to delay his depar¬ ture, and it was not until Captain Hannay threatened that he would instantly return to Ava if there were any longer delay, that the wily diplomatist could be induced to move.’2 Captain Hannay started out on 22 January 1836 with about 800 men, who marched in single file, each man carrying his own equipment, provisions and cooking-pots as well as his musket. They went over the thickly forested mountains into the Hukawng Valley; they found lemon and citron trees, finer than any they had seen before, and tea plants, and in the streams they found sienite and serpentine with scales of mica in it. He made careful notes of the goods in the bazaar in Maingkom, 1 Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, April 1837.

2 Ibid.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

91 capital of the Hukawng Valley. He met Singphos from the border of China, who gave him information about the places where gold was found and the routes to that country. He sent a sepoy to Sadiya to establish the route to Assam. Burmese guides took the sepoy a long way round, as he discovered when he made the return journey. By this time Ministers in Ava had asked Major Burney to withdraw the Captain. Burney fully recognized the importance of Hannay’s mission, and of the road through from Sadiya discovered by the sepoy. He suggested to his Government that these routes between Assam and Ava, having been explored, should be kept open and fre¬ quented; ‘and with this view’, he wrote, ‘I would recommend that some pretext should be found for sending an officer from Assam to me here via Maingkom and Mogaung. After two or three such occasions’, he continued in this letter— ‘not only a trade between Assam and this country would be placed on a more secure footing, but I think the Court of Ava would remove the prohibition which it now interposes to our traders proceeding above Ava towards Bamau and Mogaung and disturbing the monopoly which the Chinese have long enjoyed of the whole trade in that quarter.’1 The Chinese naturally heard of this potential challenge to their monopoly. In May 1836 Burney reported to the Political Depart¬ ment: ‘Par. 4. I beg further to report that having received intelligence that a letter had lately arrived here from the Chinese Provincial Governor of Yunan remonstrating with the Court of Ava for having allowed an English officer to proceed to the northward and ascertain the route into China, I questioned the Burmese Ministers who admitted the fact of a letter having been received from China but denied that its Contents were anything more than a Complimentary communication relative to a new title conferred by the Emperor of China on his mother. I am inclined however to credit the intelligence I have heard because I am aware that shortly after Captain Hannay left Ava, in December last a Deputation of Chinese Merchants residing here waited on the Prince Minthagyee to demonstrate against the Mission. Their remonstrance proceeded however from a natural apprehension that the monopoly which they have long held of the whole trade to the North of Ava and of the province of the Amber and Serpentine mines, might be dis¬ turbed by an English officer exploring the country in that direction and communicating freely with its inhabitants.’2 1 India Political Consultations, Range 194, Vol. 15. 2 Ibid., 1836, Ava, 9 May 1836.

THE MAKING OF BURMA

92

A few months later he obtained a Burmese version of the letter through a secret agent. The first paragraph read: ‘The Royal Elder brother Tauk Kwon [Tau Kwang] Emperor of China who assisted by the Thagya Nat rules over a multitude of umbrella wearing chiefs in the great Eastern Empire, affectionately addresses his Royal younger brother the sun descended King Lord of the Golden Palace who rules over a multitude of umbrella wearing chiefs in the Great Western Empire.’ Then, after a number of purely ceremonial remarks about the homage paid by the Royal family to their ancestors and suitable gifts made to the living, the letter concluded: ‘Everything that occurs in Elder brother’s Empire shall be made known to younger brother with respect to younger brother’s Empire. It is not proper to allow the English after they have made war, and Peace has been settled to remain in the city. They are accustomed to act like the “Pipal” Tree (wherever this plant takes root and par¬ ticularly in old temples and buildings it spreads and takes such firm hold that it is scarcely possible to be removed or eradicated. I believe Pipal does not grow in the northern parts of China but the Burmese word Nyoung is applied to many species of Ficus). Let not Younger Brother therefore allow the English to remain in his country, and if anything happens Elder Brother will attack, take and give.’1 Major Burney suspected that the warning added to the original ceremonial letter was written by the Viceroy of Yunnan, through whom such letters were normally sent. But the fact was that the Chinese now saw a rival on their frontier. Meanwhile, the Com¬ pany s interest in Burney’s ambitious schemes increased and Captain Hannay and the Sepoy Sindur Singh were called to Fort William to give their first-hand accounts of the Hukawng Valley exploration. They suggested that a natural scientist, Dr. Griffiths, should accompany the men on their return journey, which should be made via Assam. This was a long way round, and the Burmese regarded the idea with suspicion. This seemed confirmed when Major Burney suggested sending a small military mission to the Assam frontier with a few Burmese officers, so that they might consider on the spot the feud between Daffa Gam (a Burmese protege) and Bisa Gam, who had been made a British citizen for services he had rendered during the Singpho rebellion. The Bur¬ mese suspected that the British were collecting a military force in Assam with the intention of occupying the country north of Mogaung. 1

Appendix History of the British Residency in Burma, by W. S. Desai.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

93

Finally, the Burmese agreed. Burney sent an officer named Bayfield, who in due course joined up with Captain Hannay and Dr. Griffiths. By political pressure and exploration, the road had been established from Assam through the Hukawng Valley to Ava. More than this, the men on the spot could see that a way between Assam and China had been established. THE AN ROUTE

The An route between Arakan and Ava had long been con¬ sidered of military importance, since it was the shortest as well as the most accessible. The King of Ava had it in mind when he subtly asked Symes whether the monsoon would allow him to return that way to Bengal. Immediately hostilities were ended in 1826, Captain Ross, Lieutenant Trant and Lieutenant Bissett of the East India Company’s service, examined the practicability of moving a body of troops through the Arakan mountains from Prome to Arakan. At the end of their journey they wrote: ‘We had thus successfully accomplished in twelve days a march through a range of mountains heretofore entirely unknown to Europeans, and the existence of any road, by which a body of troops could move, was not believed. This point is now decided, and in any future war with the Burmese this knowledge may be of great importance, leading as the route does into the very heart of the Burmese Empire.’ The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal published Lieuten¬ ant Trant’s description of the journey: ‘Nature indeed could not have formed a more formidable, or easierto-be defended barrier than the Arracan mountains, every step pre¬ senting a Pass or hill, which might be defended by a handful of men against hundreds, and the jungle offering a sure asylum to the van¬ quished.’1 Arakan itself was not considered of great commercial import¬ ance; ‘all the advantages anticipated from its annexation to our empire’, the first British administrator of Arakan wrote, ‘being comprised in the exclusion of the Burmese from a province where the local peculiarities enabled them to disturb the tranquility of the contiguous country’.2 Nevertheless, no opportunity was ever missed of finding out more about the way from Ava to Bengal via Arakan. And one such opportunity occurred in 1830. The Burmese had never given 1 Vol. 2, Part 2, 1842. 2 Bengal Secret Consultations, 9 June 1826, No. 12.

94

THE MAKING OF BURMA

up their hopes of modifications in the Treaty of Yandabo. And when Major Burney arrived in Ava as Resident, the King believed that he could now reopen the question. He suggested a mission to Calcutta. Burney agreed. The more the Burmese knew of the British, he argued, the better the chance of improving relations. The Court selected two men to go to Calcutta with the following objectives: (1) The return of the Kubo Valley; (2) that part of the Martaban district which lay to the east of the Salween, the dividing line between British and Burmese territory, but a great part of Martaban lay to the east of the Salween and it was this the Burmese claimed; (3) the abrogation of Article 7 of the Treaty of Yandabo which provided for the exchange of residents; and (4) the return of Arakan and Tenasserim as an act of friend¬ ship. The King still felt the presence of a foreign resident was a humilia¬ tion. ‘Whenever an opportunity for conversing pleasantly arrives’, the envoys were formally instructed, ‘you must say that the two countries have become friends—there is no cause for either dis¬ trusting the other and everything is right and quiet. By stationing people in the English country, great expense is incurred in main¬ taining them, and the English chief also cannot station people in the Burmese country without incurring much outlay in money and necessaries. The two countries have no cause for distrusting each other and therefore it would be better for the English and the Burmese Chiefs to withdraw the men stationed by each, and to send Royal and friendly letters to each other once in five years, and in this manner keep open the communication and intercourse between the two countries and cultivate friendship.’1 The two Burmese envoys left Ava by water on 9 October 1830. Major Burney was anxious to know the possibilities of trade between Burma and the Company via the overland route from the Irrawaddy to Arakan. He therefore persuaded the Burmese to travel that way, and sent his younger brother, Captain George Burney, to escort the mission and keep him well-informed. The Burmese mission numbered eighty-four; there were wives and daughters, attendants, male and female, interpreters, draftsmen, and a physician. They were in no hurry to get to Calcutta and made the most of their grand tour. They stopped at almost every pagoda on their route down the river, made offerings and 1 India Political Consultations, Range 193, Vol. 79.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

95

asked for a safe return. The young Captain Burney not only sent back his own reports to his brother, but often had access to those which the Burmese sent to their families and to the Court. They were sometimes shrewd, sometimes a mixture of what seemed sheer mumbo-jumbo. For instance, when they were passing through Arakan they saw many paddy birds flying from eastward to westward, and then crows and kites. A Burmese astrologer explained this unusual flight of birds as a forecast that the English would not long remain in Arakan, but that they would be con¬ quered by the Burmese King from the eastward. The envoys were above all anxious to see the GovernorGeneral and to give him the letter from the King of Ava. What happened can only be described either as stupidity or as a deliber¬ ate effort to pay back in the same coin some of the delays which British envoys had experienced when visiting Ava. When the party arrived in Calcutta, the Governor-General, Lord Bentinck, was in the north. When they offered to go north to see him, they found they needed his permission. This took ten months. Major Burney, embittered by experience in Ava, where he not only waited for audiences with the King, but, like everyone else, had to take his shoes off in the King’s presence, advised the authorities in Calcutta to make the Burmese envoys wait as long as possible before being honoured with an audience of the Governor-General. During their enforced stay in Calcutta, the Burmese met all kinds of people, and heard a great deal about the British—some true, some rumours. They also saw the lighter side of British life in India. At a ball in Calcutta, they described how ‘the English great functionaries and military officers and noblemen and noblewomen, holding and pulling each other’s hands and resting on their toes were agitating their bodies, and jumping and dancing’. The English women, had they known, may—or they may not—have been flattered to hear the description of them¬ selves in ‘gold and silver lace, gold and silver flowers, and as they were jumping and dancing dressed in extremely rare dresses and with ear-rings and ear-drops made of fine diamonds and other stones, the glitter of the lights of the precious stones and of the gold made them very beautiful to the sight like women in the Burmese country when dressed and jumping and dancing in the dance with soft music’. Ten months in Calcutta were an expensive holiday. The envoys had fixed salaries from their Government for themselves, followers and servants. The India Government paid Rs.250 for house rent, Rs.200 for carriages and Rs.300 for bazaar expenses. Then came

THE MAKING OF BURMA

96

a message that the Government would see them in Benares, and off they went up the Hugh accompanied by Captain George Burney. They wanted to stop en route to see the Sacred Tree in Budhgaya, but they postponed this religious duty so that they could arrive in time to see Lord Bentinck. Again they were dis¬ appointed. His Lordship was in Farukhabad. They protested, but went on to Farukhabad, arriving there on 31 March. Still no Governor-General. The rains had begun, and Lord Bentinck was in Delhi. Well, said the envoys, we will go by road to Delhi. (No large boat could go further than Farukhabad.) But, replied Captain Burney, they needed his Lordship’s permission to go to Delhi. After twenty-seven days, the reply arrived. Lord Bentinck was in indifferent health, these persistent envoys were informed. He would pass the four hot months and the four rainy months in Simla, and then he would be able to meet the Burmese. The envoys were now beginning to lose patience. Farukhabad was of no interest to them; firewood was scarce, rice was expensive, they did not relish bread baked with fire made of cow-dung and withered or dirty grass. ‘The cause of our coming to Hindostan’, they wrote back to Ava, ‘was not in order to learn that the Goombhanee [Company] was enjoying the cool air, but we came to meet him because we had matters to discuss for improving and prolonging the friendship between our two countries.’ For eight months the envoys stayed in Farukhabad, picking up odd bits of information about England and about India. Major Burney, whose account1 of the mission is remarkably interesting, describes how they found an old Bengal dictionary, and from it copied out names of the Royal Family, Ministers, the Directors of the East India Company. It seemed invaluable information to pass on to the King. They had to produce some evidence that they were not just wasting their time and Burmese money. They also liked to impress the King. Finally, on 18 November 1832, the Governor-General arrived near Agra and on the 23 rd he granted the first interview to the Envoys. The day before, their presents were arranged by Captain Burney; 2 Ruby rings of great value; 2 sapphire rings of great value; 10 pieces of Burmese silk cloth of from 31 to 19 stripes; 30 pieces of Burmese silk, plain; 37 Burmese lacquered boxes of all kinds and sizes; 1,000 cut rubies and polished; 1,000 rubies rough and unpolished. After a great deal of ceremonial the envoys at last presented their letter. It was nearly two years since the mission had left Ava. 1

Bengal Secret Consultations, Vols. 360 and 366.

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When at last they saw the Governor-General face to face, they found he would be in Agra only two days, and that they must discuss their demands with his Council and secretaries in Calcutta. They tried to get round this point by giving the GovernorGeneral a private letter summarizing their business when he received them in audience. The letter was returned to them two days later. They were naturally annoyed, and said: ‘The reason why we have come such an immense long journey was because we had public business on which to speak to the Goombhanee. But now that we have met the Goombhanee, we were told that we must speak with the Woongyee only on such business. If the business could really have been settled by our speaking to the Woongyee only, we should have had no occasion to come to Hindostan.’ And they concluded by saying that if without discussion the letter is returned to them, then also the Royal letter and all the presents should be returned to them as well. After visiting the Taj Mahal and the Fort of Agra, the envoys started their return journey. This time they were able to see the sacred bodhi tree, where suitable offerings were made and prayers spoken. By the time they arrived in Calcutta, the GovernorGeneral had summoned British officers to discuss the claims made by the King to the Kubo Valley. The fact was that there had been frequent clashes in the Kubo Valley, whilst the King had always considered it a humiliation to concede this area to Gumbheer Singh. Gumbheer Singh was a protege of the British, and Article 2 of the Treaty of Yandabo, stipulating that should he return to Manipur, the King should recognize him as ‘Rajah’, was a source of great irritation to Ava. When Major Burney first arrived in Ava, he at once sensed the importance of this matter. Not that the valley was so important from an economic point of view; it was humiliating to the King to lose it to Gumbheer Singh. Major Burney began by advising his Government that there were only two alternatives: to be tough with the King or to divide the valley between him and Gumbheer Singh. Ultimately, Major Burney, after many conferences with Burmese Ministers as well as the King, decided that it was the better part of valour to make a concession. It had become so much a matter of prestige with the Court that he was convinced the Burmese would risk another war rather than see the British puppet, Gumbheer Singh, in possession. He accordingly advised his Government to change their policy. The Governor-General, very much surprised at this change of tactics, asked Burney for a

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THE MAKING OF BURMA

detailed expose on the subject. The document that resulted was most persuasive, both in historical evidence and in political strategy. But a decisive fact was that it had now been established that no British army would ever venture to march by that route against the capital of Ava— ‘that British alliance and protection are a far better defence to Munnipare against Ava than any line or boundary whatever.’ The Governor-General had had this statement from Major Burney whilst Burmese envoys were chasing him in India. He was sufficiently impressed by it to decide to hold a conference on the subject, and this was held in Calcutta. He was persuaded of the wisdom of returning the Kubo Valley to Ava. The Government’s reply to the King’s letter was given to the envoys on 16 March; it announced the return of the Kubo Valley. The other claims were all turned down. The Burmese had never been very optimistic about the return of territories ceded at the Treaty of Yandabo, but for some reason they believed that Article 7 (Exchange of Residents) might be open to com¬ promise. The Governor-General saw the envoys on several occasions, mainly at social functions in Calcutta. When they finally left for Ava, he presented them with gifts for the King: Rees' Encyclo¬ paedia, 45 volumes; 2 pieces plum-coloured velvet; 2 rolls red velvet: 12 pieces fine English handkerchief; 2 rolls gold brocade; 1 roll blue velvet; 1 roll green velvet; 2 pieces fine gold flowered muslin; 1 fine large looking-glass; 2 English carpets 10 cubits square; 1 fine gilded chair. They also took back a large image of Buddha in black marble which they had admired in the premises of the Asiatic Society. This was specially appreciated by the King. Indeed, ‘nothing the Burmese Envoys had done during their absence from Ava’, Burney wrote, ‘gave so much satisfaction to their Court or gained so much credit to themselves as the measure of bringing this image of Buddha (Gaudama) into the Burmese Dominions.’ As for the practical outcome of the mission, its most important achievement was the return of the Kubo Valley. This happened in 1834, when, in a Treaty signed by the British Commissioners, Major Grant and Major Pemberton, on 9 January, it was agreed to make over to Woondouk Alaha IVIengyon Raja and Tsardangee Ne Moyookan, Commissioners of the King of Ava, the villages in the Kubo Valley, the Ungocheng Hills and the strip of valley running between the eastern foot and the western bank of the Ningthee and Khyeddwen River. Article 2 stated:

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‘The British Commissioners to withdraw Munipoore Thannes now stationed in this tract of country, on condition that the Burmese agree to the boundaries which the British Commissioners point out and refrain from any interference direct or indirect with the people residing in the Munipoore side of that boundary.’1 Whilst the mission was in India, British officers were exploring the newly acquired Arakan territories. Captain Jenkins and Captain Pemberton were given their instructions. They were told to find a position which could be defended by one regiment. 'Such a position ought not to be too far Southward as in that case there would be some risk of the land communication being interrupted in the event of war on that frontier; and particular pains must be taken to ascertain what other passes there may be in the mountains besides that of Aeng through which an army might eventually be enabled to act with effect upon our only line of operation from Chittagong.’2 On 26 March 1831 they were able to report: ‘Having just returned from an examination of the Aeng Pass, and knowing the importance with which it is viewed by Government,with reference to the facilities it affords for the advance of troops in case of necessity against Ava, it gives us considerable satisfaction to state that even in its present condition we consider this route perfectly practicable for troops, and if preceded by two Companies of Pioneers we are not aware of any obstacle likely to impede the advance of cavalry and artillery as well as infantry; elephants might be occasionally required to assist in dragging the Guns up the most steep acclivities, but in no case would this important arm be exposed to the risk it incurred during the Nepaul war of being conveyed on the backs of elephants up the passes as there is not one in the whole line of route sufficiently difficult to render such a measure necessary.3 YEH, TAVOY, MERGUI AND TENASSERIM

Article 4 of the Treaty of Yandabo ceded to Britain the pro¬ vinces of Yeh, Tavoy, Mergui and Tenasserim, together with the islands and dependencies thereunto appertaining, taking the Salween River as the line of demarcation on that frontier. Again strategic questions played a vital part, this time with Siam. Siam had been a doubtful ally during the war, capable of changing sides if the fortunes of battle had changed. The Governor-General’s views were these: 1 Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 380, 9 January 1834. 2 Ibid., Vol. 360. 3 Letter from Jenkins and Pemberton to the Chief Secretary to Governor, 26 March 1831, Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 360.

THE MAKING OF BURMA

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‘It is my belief that in interposing a British force and British possession between the Burmese and Siamese at this moment, we are rendering essential benefit to the former in the present weak and distracted state of their Government and that the Court of Ava is itself sensible of this advantage. So far therefore from our immediate removal from these Provinces being desired by the Burmese, it is more than probable that they feel the security it affords them from attack by their immediate enemies and it must be a source of consolation to us to reflect, that if we are compelled to continue to incur a considerable expense on account of the maintenance of the provinces in question we are making the only return in our power to the unfortunate people who are the sufferers of the war and who may thus be spared the further horrors of Siamese invasion and Siamese Captivity. In the course of a short time, we may hope that the Government of Ava will be enabled to restore its country to order and be better able to provide for the protection of the Tennasserim Provinces, should they be restored to them, either as a free gift or as payment of such sum as we might deem it expedient to demand and in the meantime the cherished hope of recovering these Possessions either gratuitously or for a money payment would of itself be an inducement with the Burmese to conciliate and propitiate the British Government by a strict adherence to the letter of their engagement.’1 Tenasserim proved a very difficult proposition. In the first year, the total military charges were 194,000 rupees, whilst revenue receipts were only 165,000 rupees. The Court of Directors began to doubt its value and suggested that Tenasserim be retroceded to Ava. They returned to this idea in 1828, by which time it was clear that the expectation of a large migration of Burmese subjects would not materialise. Lord Ellenborough, President of the Board of Control pointed out ‘that the Tenasserim provinces are an undesirable possession, and regret may be expressed that we insisted upon their cession’. Opinions were divided as to the best solution. Some suggested that Tenasserim be sold to the Siamese. Others, that it be made an independent State. Some thought it would be simplest to return it to the King of Ava. In any case it was thought wise to find out what were the views of the Burmese on the matter, and this was one of the main reasons why, in 1829, Major Burney had been appointed the first British Resident at Ava. He was told to find out: What equivalent the Burmese Court is able or willing to give in exchange for a portion or whole of the Tenasserim provinces, and also whether the Burmese Court could be disposed to cede the island of Negrais with some part of the neighbouring country, including or otherwise the town 1

Bengal Secret Consultations, 23 April 1826.

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IOI

of Bassein in exchange for a portion of our Territory on the Tenasserim Coast.’1 Major Burney was surprised to find that the Burmese were well aware that Tenasserim had so far proved an economic liability to the Company. The King had had passages from the Calcutta Press translated to him and he was shrewd enough to suggest to the Commissioner, Mr. A. D. Maingy, through a friendly business¬ man, that he would take over the province. But he was not willing to trade some other piece of Burmese territory for Tenasserim. When Major Burney realized how keen the Burmese were to regain Tenasserim he threatened that Siam seemed willing to give Queda and other places in the Malay states in exchange for Ten¬ asserim. This did not impress the sophisticated Burmese who calculated that if they held out long enough, the Company would find Tenasserim so unprofitable that they would themselves pro¬ pose its retrocession. Finally, on 25 August 1830, Major Burney insisted to Burmese Ministers that Tenasserim would never be given back without some equivalent. He reported: ‘The Ministers looked blank, and asked me, whether those provinces were not held by us merely as a kind of pledge or pawn for the due payment of the instalments, and whether after Ava had repaid to us all the expense of the late War, we could fairly ask for anything more from her. ... I recommended the Minister to consider the subject well, and to recollect that the Siamese are anxious to obtain possession of the Tenasserim provinces for which they are disposed to offer some equivalent.’ ‘What, will the English turn Merchants and sell those provinces to the highest bidder? ... I laughingly answered in the affirmative.’2 Two months later, the Burmese Ministers asked, ‘why their ancient dominions should be given to their enemies the Siamese’. They proposed giving Negrais in exchange for Tenasserim on condition that if within ten years they also paid one-half crore of rupees they would be allowed to redeem the island for this amount. Major Burney said that his Government would never listen to such a proposition. Finally, in 1833 when there seemed hopes that it might become an asset, the Court of Directors decided to retain Tenasserim permanently. The Burmese did not give up hope. In September 1837, the Governor of Rangoon said to Major Burney: 1 Governor’s Letter of Instructions to Burney, 31 December 1829. No. 32, Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 357. 2 Bengal Secret Consultations, Vol. 358, Par. 169.

102

THE MAKING OF BURMA

‘You are all wrong in supposing that the King is going to attack you immediately. He has plenty to do just now in settling his Kingdom; but in two or three years hence, when we are better prepared, we shall either ask you to sell us the Tenasserim provinces back, or fight you like men and try and recover them.’ This was only a personal opinion. Tenasserim gradually settled down under the administrative guidance of the energetic First Commissioner, Mr. A. D. Maingy. Ten years after the signing of the Yandabo Treaty, Yeh, Tavoy, Mergui and Tenasserim had been incorporated in the British Empire, and the Salween was now their easternmost frontier.

CHAPTER VI

Developing Trade

N

o w that the new frontiers were established, the next step was the development of trading facilities with Burma, as well as with Siam and, above all, with China. Mr. A. D. Maingy, the first Commissioner for the Province of Tavoy and Mergui, had the whole province of Tenasserim under his energetic guidance and he distributed the benefits of British rule ‘on the most liberal and equitable principles’ from the capital of Moulmein. He was optimistic—too optimistic, as it proved—about the commercial advantages of Tenasserim. Moulmein, he prophesied would become a ‘great commercial Emporium’, and with an increased population, and the industry and enterprise of British and Chinese merchants, he expected that the ancient commerce formerly carried on with Siam would be revived and the manufactures of England and British India ‘widely dispersed’.1 Mr. Maingy’s enthusiasm convinced Major Burney, who selected a friend of his, Dr. Richardson, to make the first journeys into these newly acquired territories bordering China and Siam. He left Moulmein on n December 1829, travelled up the Salween River for about 100 miles and then over difficult mountainous country to the Siamese frontier. He was often regarded with suspicion, and odd rumours spread about him; that he had a force a 1,000 strong; that he was taking cholera and smallpox infections. At Mainglongyi, the chief tried to persuade him to return to Moulmein, and it was only when he mentioned the name of a friendly Siamese, Chow Chi Wit, that elephants were provided for him to take the place of coolies who were exhausted. At Labong, his destination, he heard that Chinese caravans regularly came to trade. And, whilst waiting for them, he observed that there were thousands of cattle and buffaloes. This seemed to solve the difficult problem of finding meat for the troops in Moulmein. The Chinese had not arrived at the beginning of February. He therefore returned to Moulmein. The Sawbwa of Labong over¬ came his prejudices, and sent one of his officers and fifty people 1 See ‘The Fashioning of Leviathan’, by J. S. Fumivall (Journal of the Burma Research Society, Part I, April 1939), for a brilliant account of Mr. Maingy’s Empire-building.

THE MAKING OF BURMA

104

with nearly 300 cattle and elephants to accompany Dr. Richardson to Moulmein. The journey had been a great success; trade had been opened with the Siamese Shan States, and in the first half of 1831, over 1,000 cattle were sold in Moulmein, and British manu¬ factures, piece goods, etc., soon found their way to Labong and beyond. Dr. Richardson made a second and a third journey, the last being to Laos and the Karenni country. His instructions always emphasized the value of direct talks with Chinese, and on his last visit he tried to persuade them to go down to Moulmein. His diary for 29 December 1834 reads: ‘At Zimmay, I found the caravan of Chinese traders consisting of 200 mules and horses. 300 more were said to be at Moungnan where cotton is abundant. ... I had a good deal of conversation with the two heads of the caravan who seemed to be intelligent, enterprising characters. They said they had long entertained the idea of visiting Maulmayne; and now that they were invited to do so, and were assured of protection, they would undoubtedly do so next season; the present one being too far advanced to allow of their increasing their distance from home.’1

Dr. Richardson’s diary is full of interesting personal touches and details of the ways of life of people who had rarely seen a European: ‘Our guide today was a Doctor, who was quite an amateur in his pro¬ fession, and spread out all his medicines under a tree and began pre¬ scribing gratis for our people. He had in his store of medicine the thigh-bone of a dog, the jaw of a monkey, the vertebrae of a fish, part of a grinder of an elephant, the fore-tooth of a rhinocerous, some bones of a turtle, and two or three pieces of broken china. The rest of his collection consisted of little bits of sticks, and roots of all colours, to the number of two hundred and eighty-one (I had the curiosity to count them) the names and virtues of all of which he professed to know. Not the least curious part of the collection was his mortar or substitute for one, it was a turned wooden bowl ten inches in diameter, with a handle to it, and inside opposite the handle a piece of coarse flinty sandstone fixed with lac about four inches square, and sloping towards the bottom of the bowl; on this the various articles are ground down, in sometimes a quart of water if the patient is very ill.’2

In April 1835 a Red Karen chief who had original views of the human race and tried to prove to Dr. Richardson (in ‘four of the longest hours he had spent amongst very protracted ones’ in his mission) that his views of the superiority of British power 1

Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. 5, 1836, pp. 607-8. 2 ibid., pp. 6y8-g.

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105

were ‘incorrect, or at least uncertain’. But Dr. Richardson’s patience bore fruit and the chief, promised his protection to traders from Moulmein. He noted in his diary: I need not descant upon the great importance of opening a market into the frontiers of China for British goods by means of the caravans of British traders. ‘An extensive opening for our inland trade has been made by securing the goodwill towards us of the Red Karens, and it is possible that the intercourse with these people now commenced may lead eventually towards their civilisation. . . .’x Some, at any rate, of Dr. Richardson’s hopes were fulfilled. At the end of 1835, a party of Chinese caravans arrived at Moul¬ mein. The potentialities of trade with China now impressed the new Commissioner, Mr. Blundell. At the end of 1836 he had persuaded the Governor-General to depute an officer to go to China by the overland route. His Junior Commissioner, Captain W. C. McLeod, was chosen, and he and Dr. Richardson started out together from Moulmein: McLeod to go to the frontiers of China, Richardson to find a way through to Ava. From Dwom Tulwee onwards the country had never before been visited by a European. Dr. Richardson passed through the Karennee country: ‘Their own term for the nation collectively is Kaya, the meaning of which I did not learn. To the eastward the Salween may be reckoned their boundary; for though they have a few miles of territory and some common Kareans subject to them, I believe there are no Red Kareans live to the east of that river; north they have the Burman Shan States, west the Burmans, and south, a somewhat extensive track, inhabited by the common Kareans, who, under their own chiefs, pay tribute to both the Burmans and Shans.’1 2 He described the tin and lead found in the country, and found Mok-mai a busy town: ‘February ig, 1836, Mok-mai. There are many Chinese here buying cotton at 60 ticals of Ken which is a very fine Chinese silver; the 100 viss of cleaned cotton; 1,000 or upwards are said to be sent annually to the Shan territory, chiefly from Tali, a Chinese frontier town 45 days 1 Ibid., p. 706. 2 Copy of Papers relating to the Route of Captain W. C. McLeod from Moulmein to the frontiers of China, and to the Route of Dr. Richardson on his Fourth Mission to the Shan Provinces of Burmah or Extracts from the same. Return to an Address by the Honourable the House of Commons dated 6 Augusti 869. (Dr. Ma Thoung has summarized the Richardson and McLeod journeys in her thesis, British Interest in Trans-Burma Trade Routes to China, 1826-1876.)

io6

THE MAKING OF BURMA

from Monay. Four or five have gone this year to ascertain the state of the Maulmain market, and unless they find it answer their expectations, I do not believe there will be much trade by this route for some time to come. The Shans are so much afraid of the Kareans on one hand and their energies, and any motive to attempt the acquisition of property so destroyed by the oppressive nature of the Burman Government, which is unable to protect them, on the other, that though there is a decided taste for our finer cotton fabrics (which reach them by Ava, exposed certainly to heavy duties, but having the advantage of water carriage within 233 miles of Monay) the uncertainty of retaining the profit of their labour will, I fear, prevent them putting themselves within reach of their lawless and savage neighbours. The people with me have had as favourable a market as the size of the place would warrant them to expect; and should the demand continue or increase which under favourable circumstances it will do, the supply must be furnished by people from our Provinces.’1 From Mok-mai Dr. Richardson travelled on to Monay. One official told him that he was trespassing by visiting the place without an order from the Meng Myat Boo. He challenged this statement. He referred to the Treaty of Yandabo and the Com¬ mercial Treaty arranged by Mr. Crawfurd, which gave British officials the right to enter the Burmese dominions at any point and proceed in any direction without let or hindrance. He stayed for one and a half months in this town, and then after sending a letter to the Resident, he was allowed to go on his way. Nyaung Shwe was his next stop. He saw the Sawbwa, a man about fortyfive years old. April igth, 1836. Nyaung Shwe. I solicited his protection and count¬ enanced to our traders who might come here, and promising the same to his people at Maulmain gave him a musket, carpet and three or four finger glasses ... he has little to say, but was as friendly as I had reason to expect from the strong recommendation of the kind and gentlemanly old Tsoboa of Monay.’2 y And the next day: Visited the Tsoboa’s brother today who seems a man of more inte lgence and energy than the Tsoboa, He was formerly exceedingly dissipated, a drunkard, and opium smoker, but has for some years quite reformed. 3 J On the 28th Dr. Richardson had a letter from Ava. Instead of ^.roya.1J?rder to, Proceed, he was directed to wait until the new King (Tharawaddy) had consulted his Ministers. He had time to 1 Ibid.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

I07

visit Inle Lake, which he described in the greatest detail, and on 16 May he was given an order to proceed to Ava: 'June yth. Crossed to Tset-kyne, and had an interview with the King, who refuses most positively and unconditionally to acknowledge the Treaty of Yandabo, or to treat with the Governor-General, who, he says, must write to the Woonghee of Rangoon, who is of his own rank. He wishes the late reign to be sunk in oblivion, he says the war was a mistake, and wishes our intercourse to be on the same footing as before it took place; when there had been nothing but friendship between the two States. He will not ask the Resident to stay, nor will he order him away; . . . that we conquered the late Government and frightened them into signing whatever we pleased; that he had never been conquered, and was not like the old Government; if it should come to war, he never would ask for peace; says he does not wish for war, but knows that our officers would be glad of it.’1 He left Ava on 17 June and summarized his Mission: ‘It may, perhaps, be thought superfluous now to state what would have been the advantages gained by my mission had our relations with Ava remained at its conclusion on the same footing as they were at the time it was undertaken; but as we may hope that the present state of affairs can¬ not long continue, I may briefly state that, in the first place, we have acquired some little information regarding countries hitherto lotally unknown; of the fertility, populousness, and resources, I am sorry to say too high an estimate had been formed. In the second place, we have opened a direct route to the Burman Shan States through the wild tribes of Karens which none of the neighbouring native States would have ventured to attempt, by which fairer field is given for the advance of civilisation, and incalculable benefits promised to some thousands of human beings degraded by superstition and barbarism. And, in the third place, a road has been opened, and protection assured, for those engaged in traffic with the Shan States, where a taste and demand for our manufactures, which will, under favourable circumstances, annually increase, has already been exerted by their introduction in small quan¬ tities by the circuitous route of Ava, where all our finer cotton goods meet with ready market, and whence a return can be made in horses, gold, coarse silver and various articles consumed by our native popula¬ tion here, at a profit of from 50 to 70 per cent.’2 During these months Lieutenant McLeod blazed another trail for British manufactures. He was told by the Assistant Com¬ missioner to read the accounts of Dr. Richardson’s earlier missions, and he was given letters of introduction to the Chiefs of Laboung and Zimmay. He was given a free hand when he arrived at Monha, as the 1 Ibid.

2 Ibid.

io8

THE MAKING OF BURMA

country beyond this point was entirely unknown. But he was asked to consider how to return by another route and especially to direct his ‘attention towards reaching either Ava or our settle¬ ments in Assam’. He was instructed not to use surveying instru¬ ments, except with caution, and not to arouse jealousy or suspicion in any way. Lieutenant McLeod’s journey, like Dr. Richardson’s before him, was extremely difficult: he followed the course of the Mekong River which he crossed fifteen times, and went to Laboung, as Dr. Richardson had done. On io January 1837 he met the Laboung Court Officers. ‘I took the opportunity of expressing how glad we were at the continued supply of cattle we received, and that the cattle merchants I had met on the road were chiefly from this place. . . . They rejoiced to hear that I had come up for the purpose of opening a communication with China, and with their northern neighbours. I saw the Chinaman mentioned by Dr. Richardson ... he informed me that the Chinese who visited Moulmein in 1836 were well pleased with the market, but until the road is made they cannot travel by it. He, however, promises to endeavour to take 100 or 200 mules down this year or next. He doubts whether I shall be permitted to enter China, but promises to send a younger brother, who had been two years here, with me.’ Zimmay. January 12th. At night some Chinese merchants, residents here, came to visit me, and had a long intervit w with my Chinese interpreter. They are rejoiced at the idea of my going to China, and do not apprehend the slightest difficulty to my penetrating as far as Puer. The only objection they made to the Moulmein t 'ade, which they say is profitable to them, is the road. They strongly urged me to go by Kiang Tung; that the road travelled by the Chinese caravans is very bad, over exceeding high mountains, impassable for elephants, and having only a few scattered villages elongmg to various hill tribes on it; whereas by the other I should not on y find a good road and few hills of consequence, but meet many towns where our traders would be enabled to dispose of their goods, besides seeing a great number of Chinese merchants. They begged that I would not mention to the authorities here that I had had any com¬ munication with them. The Kiang Tung road is closed, even against the Chinese, from the excessive jealousy of the Siamese towards the Burmans.’ January 28th, 1837. 180 mules belonging to the Chinese arrived this Bengal Political Consultations, Con. 21 November McLeod s journal contained in Mr. Blundell’; report.

1837.

Lieutenant

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

IO9

McLeod now decided to delay his departure for a day to see these Chinese. For he had by this time already received permission to move on towards China. The Chinese muleteers welcomed the idea of trade down to Moulmein provided the road was improved. They saw no difficulty in his entering China, but he would have to do so through Kiang Hung and Esmok, which were the frontier towns. ‘They say that to ensure a regular trade with Moulmein I must communicate with the chief merchants in China who make the necessary advances to those who accompany the mules, and fix upon the place they are to visit. They rejoice at my going up, and promise to come next year expressly for Moulmein; that they will go this year, if they do not find a ready market here. They likewise say that they have heard that the road to Moulmein is very bad—much worse than any other they travel over. I shall leave a person to conduct them should they wish to go on, and to stimulate him to exert himself in persuading them, have promised him a remuneration if he succeeds.’ ‘February 20th. (From Maung Khien to Kiang Tung.) I was conducted to a very fine large, new enclosed seat (built expressly, as I was told, for officers coming on missions from other States) near one of the gates of the town. Crowds of people had collected to witness my entry; none of the Chiefs even ever having before seen an European.’ ‘February 22nd. I was introduced to Tsobua today. . . . The Palace itself, a shabby-looking pile of wood, raised about 15 feet from the ground on high pillars. . . . The interior of the building was very richly gilt, forming a strong contrast with its exterior. ... I was much struck with the grandeur of everything compared with what I had seen at Zimme. . . . The Tsobua is a remarkably fine tall man of about 55, but blind, which I did not know till afterwards—He evidently thinks and acts for himself. He spoke in Shan, but understands Burmese perfectly. He addressed me immediately I was seated, saying that he was truly glad to find the English were willing to establish a friendly intercourse with him... that he had attempted to communicate with us, as I might have heard, but the jealousy of the Zimme people would not permit it . . . with respect to my journey to China, he said that it was useless my attempting it, that the whole of the Kiang Hung district was in a state of anarchy and confusion.’ ‘February 27th. He promised to give our traders every encouragement and facility for trading; that they might go where they pleased, and if they wanted cattle or anything, and did not wish to go out to the villages he would order the owners to bring them in. That no duty, either export or import, should be levied on our merchants, and that the only things he objected to be made a traffic of and taken out of the country were men and women. I explained to him our abhorence of this trade. He ex¬ pressed a hope that I would repeat my visit, and that any officer visiting

IIO

THE MAKING OF BURMA

him should be at liberty to go where he pleased through his territories.’1 Lieutenant McLeod went on to Muang Ma. He observed the good cultivation of tobacco and indigo, and the number of cattle. The river valleys were rich. The rice was particularly white. The houses were superior with verandas, nice gardens, tobacco, rad¬ ishes, peas, indigo and safflower. On towards the Chinese frontier the people were wearing a mixture of Chinese, Shan and Burmese costumes. There were water wheels ‘on the principle of the Persian wheel, large hollow bamboos being substituted for buckets or chatties’. Some people had a little knowledge of hydraulics ‘for the water was brought up to the verandah of the houses from the ground below through upright bamboos, serving as pipes’. Gradually the temples began to show Chinese influence. Nearer the frontier he saw ‘Chinese porters carrying^cloth and cotton to China and some trading from village to village with dried fish and radishes’. On 9 March he arrived at Kiang Hung, where the Maha Devi, the Tsobua’s widow, was acting as Regent and had full power and authority to transact and settle all business in the name of the young Tsobua. They said that the State was tributary to ‘China and to Ava but it was nearer the former and looked upon it as its father’. ‘March 10th. The Talan Tsobua is evidently a clever shrewd man, and very inquisitive on subjects to which I have never before known a Burman or Shan turn his thought; he is the only one here who appears to know anything about the Tenasserim coast and the cause of our being there. . . . The Minister spoke in terms of praise of the Chinese; that they are upright and just as a nation, though very particular in insisting upon every fraction due to them being paid; yet they never exacted more than they had a right to claim, and never retained any sum, however small, to which they were not entitled. In proof of their dis¬ interestedness he mentioned that the Tsobua of Kiang Khing or Kiang Klaing, a small State to the Southward of this, and tributary to Ava, wished lately to throw off its allegiance to that Kingdom, and place himself under China, but the offer was unhesitatingly rejected.’ At this point Lieutenant McLeod had the Commissioner’s letter translated into Chinese and dispatched to China, and a reply was received on 24 March: March 24th. He (Talan Tsobua) called today with the letter from China. It set forth that the authorities there had consulted all their historical works, and could not find a precedent for any officer entering China by the Muang La road; that English vessels daily repaired to Canton, Bengal Political Consultations, Con. 21, November 1837.

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

III

to which place I ought to have gone. It contained the same observation about no merchants having accompanied me etc., as were urged here, but ended, I was told, by inviting our merchants to come up and trade, and that their own traders were at liberty to proceed to Moulmein if they wished it, that orders had been issued to the authorities at Kiang Hung, which place was a town of their own, to pay me every attention and settled all my business; that if I still persisted in coming up, it would be necessary to obtain the Emperor’s sanction. . . .’ Lieutenant McLeod found that silver and iron were mined in the Kiang Hung territory, but the silver was so small in quantity that the mines were scarcely worked. The Bau-dwen or silver mines in the Muang Lem territory were, he found, very produc¬ tive; they were worked by Chinese, who were usually employed by the villagers. Lead was also found, and this was sent to China. When he left the district he emphasized that the object of his visit was purely commercial: ‘When I spoke about the extension of our territories, they immedi¬ ately called out, “We know that well, for you might have had Ava had you wished it, and you did not even retain what you had taken by force of arms.” ’ Lieutenant McLeod was not always satisfied with the type of British trader. Whilst still at Kiang Tung, he wrote: ‘Some of the traders I left here have been quarelling amongst them¬ selves, and, I fear, giving the officers no very good opinion of their respectability. Many have returned to Moulmein, some are to accom¬ pany me and some to remain.... It is a great pity that more respectable persons do not come both to Zimme and this place; the men who now carry on the trade are, generally speaking, a vile set, and a disgrace to the British name.’ Before he left, the Tsobua asked for a secret interview: ‘He was anxious to form an alliance, both offensive and defensive, that we should assist him when called upon, and we were to consider his country as ours, and he would bind himself faithfully to obey us in all matters. He was quite prepared to place himself under our protection but I did not countenance the proposal.’ A footnote which Lieutenant McLeod made to this entry in his diary suggests that perhaps the Tsobua was privately aware of the success of the Tharawaddy rebellion and thought that with British help he might now throw off the Burmese yoke. ‘April 30th. A Burman here mentions his having accompanied some Shans in 8 days from Moulmein by some particular route. The Shans

112

THE MAKING OF BURMA

are unwilling that we should become acquainted with the different passes, of which there are more than one, and all far better and shorter than the road we frequent.’1 Lieutenant McLeod then returned from Zimme to Moulmein. He had not achieved his object of crossing into Chinese territory. But he had been convinced that the Chinese could be tempted to come down to Moulmein and then to take back British manu¬ factures. Provided the road to China was once opened, it would be opened to the Shan States. But this did not happen. The Zimme Shans proved to be exclusive. They did not want Burma to trade with them, neither would they allow the British to go through their territory to China. The Chinese considered the alternative route—the Muang Nan or Dakhong road the Zimme Shans provided—not only much more difficult, but much longer. There was a further reason why little could be done at this particular moment to follow up the results of McLeod’s and Richardson’s journeys. Prince Tharawaddy had just become King as the result of a successful revolu¬ tion against Bagyidaw. Burney had been personally friendly with Prince Tharawaddy, and when he was approached to be a gobetween at the height of the revolution, his intervention had helped a peaceful transference of power from Bagyidaw to the younger brother. No sooner had Tharawaddy become King than he proved more suspicious of the British than his predecessor. He was determined to find some way out of the humiliating position of recognizing the Treaty of Yandabo. Even more than his brother, who had been in ill-health for the last few years of his reign, he realized the signific¬ ance of the missions carried out by Dr. Richardson, Lieutenant McLeod and Mr. Bayfield. Major Burney’s first interview with the new King had been to facilitate Dr. Richardson’s journey from Nyaung Ywe to Ava, where the local authorities were loath to let him travel by a road not before visited by Europeans. The two treaties—Yandabo and the Commercial Agreement made by Mr. Crawfurd—loomed larger and larger in relations between the King and Burney. Burney himself began to be highly critical. He reported: ‘The truth is, His Majesty’s military advisers are not yet prepared to quarrel with us. The Treaties which we forced upon the Burmese are no doubt viewed by the present as well as the late Government with much vexation and mortification, and as the leading members of the 1 Bengal Political Consultations, Con. 21, November 1837.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

lr3

present Government consist of military officers puffed up with their own success and ideas of their immediately thirsting for plunder and profoundly ignorant, some early attempt may be made to shake off these irksome Treaties. ... I am privately informed that his Chiefs are offering to recover for him all the territory ceded to us by what they consider the late imbecile government, but that the present Burmese year which commenced on the 13th ultimo is considered unlucky, and that the next year 1200 will according to the astrologers be a pro¬ pitious one for engaging in war.’1 The Resident wrote this letter less than a month after Tharawaddy had come to the throne. He had already made up his mind that the Burmese must be taught a lesson. On 17 May the King in open court had declared that ‘he had nothing to say to the Treaties which had been concluded with the English in the reign of his brother’ and on the 22nd, he had told Burney, when he happened to refer to Yandabo— ‘that he would have nothing to say to those treaties and desired no reference should ever be made to them, that they are a matter of re¬ proach and shame to the Burmese, that the English frightened the Burmese officers into signing them, and now always referred to them when they desired to shame the Burmese into granting anything which they desired.’2 The King was determined to return to the boundaries of his country before the Treaty of Yandabo. He told Burney: ‘I am determined to place the relations between the two countries on precisely the same footing as they were previous to the reign of the late King who committed a blunder in going to war with you, and all of those acts I wish to have annulled and forgotten. If I had a desire to go to war with you I would order you to quit the capital, but I will not tell Mr. Bayfield or you to go or stay, you may stay or go, just as you please. If you stay I will make use of you, and if you want more officers I will send for them; but then you must all stay here not upon a treaty as a matter of right, but dependent upon my will in the same manner as Col. Symes and Capt. Canning came to this country in the time of my grandfather.’3 Burney replied that the Treaties could not be annulled in this manner. Such issues were usually settled by war. The King said that he would appeal to the Kings of France, Persia, Turkey and 1 Burney’s letter, 24 May 1837, para. 48, India Political Consultations, Range 194, Vol. 41. 2 Burney’s letter, 24 May 1837, para. 65, India Political Consultations, Range 194, Vol. 41. 3 Burney’s letter, Rangoon, 12 fuly 1837, para. 12, India Secret Consultations, Vol. 8.

114

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Siam. When Burney suggested that such action might imply disputing the territories ceded to the British by the Treaty of Yandabo, he answered: ‘Oh no, I have no intention of seizing those countries from you.’ On 9 June, when the King was leaving for his new capital, Kyauk-Myaung, Burney referred not only to the treaties, but to some disparaging remarks which the King had made about the Governor-General. Tharawaddy considered it an affront to his royal position to be addressed by the Governor-General; he held that as a King he should be addressed by a man of equal rank in England. In this last talk with Burney, Tharawaddy stated: ‘I will have nothing to say to the treaties, I will not acknowledge or grant anything to which you may found your right upon them, but in everything else you shall be treated much better than you ever were before.’1 A week later, Burney, acting on his own responsibility, left Ava for good. He travelled down to Rangoon, which he considered the more suitable place for the Residency. He did not intend any step which might lead to the breaking off of relations, but his attitude towards the King was very hostile. Burney suggested the two following alternative policies to the Governor-General: ‘One is to leave him alone for a time, and see if he will recover his reason and good sense, and if after he has settled his government and appointed intelligent and respectable Ministers, he will hear and follow better counsels, recognise the existing treaties, and allow the British Residency to return and remain with him on the same footing as it was during his Brother’s reign. . . . The other plan is, to decide at once to declare hostilities against His Majesty and frighten or beat him into reason.’2 When Burney arrived in Calcutta, where he was summoned to defend his policy—especially his withdrawal from Ava without orders from the Government in Bengal—he repeated his views that Tharawaddy would never accept the Treaties without a show of force. Two months later when he was back again in Rangoon, he proposed to the Governor-General that this was an opportune moment to enforce terms on the King: We should proceed, if forced by the King’s obstinacy even as far as to threaten to invade his country, and that we should not neglect the 2 nurney,s !etter> Rangoon, 12 July 1837, India Secret Consultations, Vol. 8. Burney s letter, Rangoon, 12 July 1837, India Secret Consultations, Vol. 8.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

IJ5

present opportunity of establishing a more extensive influence and control over the Court of Ava, and of placing our relations with this country on a more solid and secure footing. ... No English officer should be sent to the King until after he has been distinctly made to acknowledge the subsistence of the Treaty, the authority of the Gover¬ nor-General, and our right to have a Resident stationed permanently near him; and if the King will not do so without our making an exten¬ sive military demonstration against him, I think we should not hesitate to adopt such a step. To intimidate him and his Court into terms just now would be easy when compared with what it will be when the King has reconciled his subjects and increased his means, and when he may take advantage of any occupation which some other power may give our armies in Hindosthan.’1 The Burmese were friendly to a Resident in Rangoon, but they did all they could to avoid having him in Ava. The GovernorGeneral explained to Sir Henry Fane, Commander-in-Chief in India: ‘The language of the Burmese authorities has of late been generally pacific, and there is strong ground for hoping that hostilities with that country may not be forced upon us, though on the other hand the tone of the Court is at least repulsive, its domestic administration is one of barbarous violence, and its external policy is yet unsettled and is open to the adverse speculations of all who wish us evil, and without abso¬ lutely threatening war it makes peace precarious. ‘The Government has determined under these circumstances upon tendering a Resident to the Court of Ava . . . and upon the manner of his acceptance or rejection the course of the measures to be presently adopted must depend. But though I have every hope and every desire for the preservation of peace, I would not overlook the chances of War, and it behoves us at least to be so far prepared as to have the means of waging it.’2 If the Governor had listened to the men on the spot, his plans for the invasion of Burma up the Irrawaddy from Rangoon would have been fulfilled in 1837. Major Burney was not alone in believing that a war would force Tharawaddy to accept the Treaty. This view was shared by a famous American missionary, Dr. Judson, whom the Resident, Colonel Benson, described: ‘This gentleman avows himself predisposed for war, as the best, if not the only means of eventually introducing the humanising influences of the Christian religion.’3 1 Burney’s letter, Rangoon, 25 August 1837, India Secret Consultations, Vol. 8. 2 India Secret Consultations, 29 August 1839, No. 2. 3 Benson’s letter, 18 July 1838, India Secret Consultations, 22 August 1838.

n6

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Colonel Benson did not agree with Dr. Judson’s views. He took the wise precaution of discouraging missionaries from travelling in the interior. The Governor-General was undoubtedly anxious to avoid war. Not only was he fully committed in Afghanistan; he was not convinced that the Burmese were seriously considering hostilities. He strongly disapproved of Burney’s attitude. He had already criticized his withdrawal from Ava on his own initiative, and he now challenged Burney’s proposals for a pre¬ ventive war. Lord Auckland felt that Burney had unnecessarily annoyed the King by frequent references to the Treaty of Yandabo. No subject was more humiliating to the Burmese, and Burney undoubtedly rubbed salt into an open wound by constantly using the Treaty of Yandabo to justify his own position. Two months after Burney’s ill-tempered withdrawal from Ava, Lord Auckland wrote this minute: ‘To the immediate declaration of War I am directly and unequivocally opposed. Hostile operations of the most decisive character should follow close upon a declaration of war. For these we are not ready, the very seasons would indeed not admit of it even were there not upon other grounds the strongest reasons against such a course (and among these the obvious one that Col. Burney has withdrawn the Residency from Ava by his own voluntary act, and has parted with the King on friendly terms) every consideration of prudence would oppose itself to our thus hastily and violently committing ourselves.’1 The Governor-General’s views were expressed by members of his Council. Mr. Morrisson wrote: ‘I deprecate War with that state as one of the greatest evils, from which, whatever, it might cost, and however successful it might prove, we can derive no ultimate benefit.’2 On the same day, i September 1837, Mr. Shakespear’s minute read: ‘No event is more to be deprecated than a war with the Burmese; neither honour nor advantage would be gained by it, while the disasters of the late war, the loss of Troops by the unhealthiness of the climate and the ruinous expenses attending it from which we are only now beginning to recover are still fresh in our recollection.’3 DRIFT TOWARDS WAR

Gradually relations between the two countries became more difficult. The Burmese persisted in their attitude towards a 1 India Secret Conmltations. 8 September 1817 Vol 8 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

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Resident in Ava. Colonel Benson did not succeed in having any interview with the King, not because Tharawaddy refused to see him, but because he was not willing to be presented unless the Ministers agreed to read the Governor-General’s letter and to make a suitable reply in the King’s name. The Burmese view was that the Residency had been withdrawn on British initiative. How could anyone therefore return to Amarapura without discussions with the government in Ava? Subsequently, when Benson was allowed to meet Ministers, he refused to shake hands with the Woongyees. This behaviour made a bad impres¬ sion on the Burmese, even though, after a four and half hours’ conference, Benson relaxed. On his side, he felt that the treatment he received and the annoyances and insolences which he experi¬ enced were such that no Englishman should be exposed to. Yet Benson was realistic. In spite of his soreness at the treatment he received, he saw no useful purpose in war with Ava. He wrote: ‘No political, territorial or commercial advantages to be gained in this quarter can to any satisfactory degree counterbalance the evils of diverting our attention and resources from the proper field of our duty—the Great Empire of India.’1 He believed that the Residency should be withdrawn from Amarapura. The Govern¬ ment doubted this view in the belief that the King was not seriously planning war. The King was in a dilemma. He did not want the Resident and he did not want to fight a war with an enemy which he knew was far better equipped. Nevertheless, at the end of 1838 both sides began to think in terms of war. The Governor-General took all precautions of strengthening military units on the Burma frontier. In January 1839 he wrote this minute: ‘It is by no means clear to me that we have any right to contemplate a resort to hostilities with the view only of procuring the higher honour and respect which we desire for our Resident. There would be a cause of War if though a Resident were nominally received, omissions and indignities foreign to the natural usages were practised in regard to him by the King, but we have not the right to declare War, only because the King chooses to adhere as nearly as he can, consistently with the stipulations of the Treaty, to the old and known policy of his country which towards foreign agents has ever been of a repulsive character.’2 About this time, twenty British soldiers deserted from Tenasserim into Burmese territory. The King gave instructions that 1 Ibid., 9 February 1838, Vol. 15. 2 Auckland’s minute, 13 and 15 January 1839, No. n, India Secret Consulta¬ tions, Vol. 15.

Il8

THE MAKING OF BURMA

such desertions should be encouraged wherever possible, and every deserter who arrived at the capital was paid 15 to 20 ticals per day. The Burmese were perfectly well aware that the British could not then take on a war against their country. They therefore took every advantage of British reverses to strengthen their own position. The Resident was a symbol of their defeat in the First Anglo-Burmese War, and although he was treated politely as far as any personal relations were concerned, difficulties and humilia¬ tions were many, and Benson saw no point in remaining in Amarapura. He left in March 1839. Captain McLeod, who succeeded him, was at once visited by Ministers, who tentatively asked him whether he would like to see the Palace. He accepted their invitation and at the same time he paid his respects to the King. It was a friendly affair; presents were exchanged, the Resident was shown over the gardens and treated in a perfectly friendly manner, but nothing political was introduced. McLeod soon recognized the fact that his presence was no less objectionable than those of his predecessors, and for the same reason; the King and his Ministers saw him as a symbol of their humiliation at Yandabo. But he frequently visited the Hlutdaw and raised questions with the Woongyees; sometimes it was a matter of complaints by British subjects in Burma, sometimes a question of incidents on the frontier. The Burmese made it clear to McLeod that as long as these difficulties were raised on a personal basis, they would do everything in their power to settle them, but it was a matter of friendly rather than official relations, which they considered implied recognition. In July 1839 Captain McLeod decided that nothing was to be gained by staying on in Amarapura, and he withdrew the Resid¬ ency. Relations, he reported, were becoming more and more strained, and the King was less and less dependable: ‘All I can say is that Tharawaddy is not to be depended on for one instant, life or death is quite a matter of indifference with him, he will certainly not remain quiet now that he is convinced he can fight us, and that we are afraid of him, but he can do as he pleases having carried every point yet.’1 When McLeod informed the Hlutdaw that he was leaving, the Burmese tried to persuade him to stay on probably suspecting that withdrawal might be a first step towards war. The Woondook of Rangoon received McLeod with great court¬ esy and the two men were on good personal terms as long as thev were in Rangoon. They discussed the difficulties put in the 1 McLeod’s journal, India Secret Consultations.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

II9

Resident’s way in Amarapura. The Woondook frankly suggested that the British had been ill-advised to send up a Resident before considering what would be the reactions of the King: ‘I urged that no new resident should be appointed for some time know¬ ing the King’s capricious and vain disposition. He was a new King and had obtained the throne easily, and it was natural he should be some¬ what elated with his success. Had the Residency not gone up as I advised for a year or two, allowing His Majesty time to get his palace ready and the country settled, I should have accompanied it and all would have been right.’1 The Woondook told McLeod one day that the King was not against foreign representatives. Missions from China and from other countries were treated with every courtesy. They were in a different category from the British, since ‘they were only tempor¬ ary visits during which vanity caused each state to vie with the other in politeness etc.’ When the Woondook returned to Amara¬ pura in December 1839, the Governor-General thought that this might be a suitable moment for McLeod to withdraw the Resid¬ ency and settle in Moulmein. But the Woondook argued against any such withdrawal. The Burmese themselves were divided on the question of war with Britain. The Prince of Pagan and a few of his hot-headed relatives thought that British preoccupation in Afghanistan gave them an opportunity to regain territories lost in 1826. The King strengthened his army and made military appoint¬ ments—three of the Princes were put in charge of Rangoon, Bassein and Toungoo, all with a considerable force. But the most influential group of Ministers in Amarapura, aware of their military inferiority, were against war. They were in favour of undermining the British by any means short of war. The official British attitude had already changed in the autumn of 1839. It was now only a question of time before the Burmese were defeated once and for all. The Governor-General now wrote: ‘War with the Burmese is to be altogether avoided if it be possible, and if unavoidable, it is to be postponed by every means consistent with national honour, until the time at which it may be most con¬ venient for ourselves to enter upon it. . . . On the reasons which induce me to deprecate such war at this time, I need not enlarge in much detail. ‘It will be sufficient to say that our measures for the increase of our military strength are yet immature, and that all our attention and 1 McLeod’s journal, India Secret Consultations, 18 September 1839, No. 5, Vol. 25. E

120

THE MAKING OF BURMA

care are still required for the affairs of our North Western frontier.’1 There was also China to consider. McLeod was told that it was desirable ‘to make something more than a demonstration in that quarter and that ‘more than ever expedient to avoid pre¬ cipitating an unfavourable issue with the Burmese’. So McLeod was instructed to stay on in Rangoon so long as he was treated with consideration and the Rangoon authorities regarded his presence ‘as an assurance of hostility not being meditated’.2 However, a series of incidents, none of any great significance, led to McLeod s withdrawal of the Residency in January 1840. He sent a circular letter to the British merchants in Rangoon telling them that his departure was ‘in no way connected with any intended invasion of the country or other hostile act on the part of the British Government’. The Residency was officially abolished on 12 August 1840. For the next twelve years no efforts were made to reopen diplomatic relations. A business-man in Rangoon, Mr. J. Brown, kept the Government in Calcutta informed of what was happening in Burma. The Commissioner of Tenasserim, Mr. Blundell, sent official reports which were often alarmist. As the Governor-General had said of him earlier, he was ‘influenced in all cases by one idea, that namely, of the ultimate certainty of hostdities, and the propriety under this contingency of treating every peaceful overture with contempt and distrust’. A good example of the misjudgement of this warlike Com¬ missioner of Tenasserim is his report when King Tharawaddy visited Rangoon in 1841. Blundell immediately sent an alarming report to the Governor-General that ‘the idea of an attack on us being meditated by the King is become much more generally entertained; indeed, it is now difficult to ascribe any other motive for his making the immense preparations in men and material which he appears to have done’. He added that if ‘undoubted evidence’ were available to prove that the King intended an invasion, then the Burmese should be driven from the banks of the Salween, so that they would be unable to cross the river. But the King showed no signs of invading Moulmein, or of any other war venture. British historians have accepted Blundell’s version. Indian historians have not. Mr. W. S. Desai wrote: ‘Finally, in October 1841, His Majesty arrived, and people thought he would attack the British m Tenasserim; but he was possessed of enough 1 2

India Secret Consultations, Vol. 25, 18 September 1839. No. Ibid., Vol. 33, 12 February 1840, No. 116.

2.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

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understanding not to embark upon so foolish and dangerous an enter¬ prise. He left Rangoon in February 1842, and was back again in Amarapura on 14 March.’1 Mr. A. C. Banerjee, describing the same incident, says: ‘No authentic information was, however, available about the King’s real intention. It was reported that he wanted to found a new town near Rangoon. ‘The Government of India now felt convinced that no serious invasion was contemplated, by the Burmese King. ... It became clear . . . that whatever the King’s original plan might have been, after his arrival in Rangoon he devoted himself entirely to the foundation of a new town and the renovation of a temple.’2 The fact that Blundell could have assumed the King was planning war is sufficient evidence of the lack of trust between the two countries. In 1848 when Lord Dalhousie became GovernorGeneral, relations were seriously strained. He was the advocate of a forward policy in India. He may have assumed a future war with Ava, but in 1848, he was much too preoccupied with his conquests in India to run risks in Burma. At the beginning of 1850, the Governor of Rangoon was replaced by the Collector of Customs, and difficulties with British business-men in Burma increased. There was a Mr. Potter, for instance, who wanted to build a ship. But the new Collector of Customs soon began to interrupt Mr. Potter’s activities ‘by all manner of petty annoyances, and under various false pretences . . . with the avowed intention of extorting money from him’.3 Then heavy duties were levied, and, finally, he had to pay 16,000 rupees before he was allowed to launch it. The Government of India does not seem to have taken the story with the same seriousness Mr. Potter felt it deserved. When, however, other difficulties arose in 1851, the situation was different. In fact, Lord Dalhousie’s hands were free to deal with Burma. Dr. Hall, describing the efforts by the new Governor of Rangoon to extract money from British or any other foreign traders, suggests: ‘No more inopportune moment could have been chosen. Two years had elapsed since Lord Dalhousie had brought the Sikh War to a suc¬ cessful conclusion, and his hands were reasonably free to deal with this old running sore, now beginning to give fresh trouble.’4 1 2 3 4

History of the British Residency in Burma, by W. S. Desai. The Eastern Frontier of British India, by A. C. Banerjee, p. 523. Annexation of Burma, by A. C. Banerjee, pp. 49-50. Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, by D. G. E. Hall, Introduction, p. xvii.

CHAPTER VII

The Second Anglo-Burmese War

N

o war in colonial history was more casually undertaken than the Second Anglo-Burmese War and none provoked so little interest in England. Those were days when annexation was taken for granted, when vast areas in Asia were added to the British Crown by energetic Governor-Generals whose policy and prowess were then acclaimed by successive Parliaments. The war was vehemently and brilliantly attacked by Richard Cobden at the time in a pamphlet entitled How Wars are got up in India. Lord Ellenborough, who had had experience of India, denounced it in the House of Lords. These criticisms attracted scant attention, and Cobden remarked that he had not ‘been able to meet with anybody, in or out of Parliament who had read the two Parliamentary Papers relating to hostilities with Burma’.1 If, in fact, the Blue Books had been complete and not tactfully selected extracts, their criticisms would have been far stronger. But the documents are now fully available, expurgated passages included, and there has been no excuse for the past fifty years for any modern historian not to tell the whole ugly truth, instead of putting their faith in Blue Books. Here, for the first time, as an Appendix, the suppressed passages are revealed. Burma was a remote country; that part of it which had been annexed at the end of the First Anglo-Burmese War was settling down to a foreign administration. For ten years—after the with¬ drawal of the Residency—no British representative was in Rangoon. Relations between British merchants and merchants from Burma were governed by the Commercial Treaty concluded on 23 November 1826 by John Crawfurd on behalf of the East India Company and the King of Ava. In 1851 complaints from British traders increased as they found themselves in difficulties with the then Governor of Rangoon. These were primarily con¬ cerned with taxes and levies imposed by the Governor, harbour dues, and a variety of charges some of which at any rate merited sentSTw'°j£iUecB°0kS arCJ vapT ™latinS t0 futilities with Burma, preif"5 \e}atinR t0 Hostilities with Burma and C *608

h

^

C'

6°8' ThCSe

UC

S 3re r£ferred t0 as C‘ r49°

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

123

the description, ‘extortion’. But many of them were completely frivolous. Two events of a more serious nature occurred in the summer of 1851, when the captains of the British boats Monarch and Champion were charged with murder and other offences. Fines and fees were imposed on them, though there was no trial and the cases were not proved. The two captains appealed to the Government of India, claiming together £1,920 for reimbursement of fines and compensation and unlawful imprisonment. The Government cut the amount down to £920 and, as Richard Cobden commented ‘it was in enforcing payment of this sum that the present war arose’.1 Lord Dalhousie took the cases of Sheppard and Lewis seri¬ ously: ‘British subjects and traders have, undoubtedly, a just right to expect that they shall be protected by their own Govern¬ ment from injustice, oppression and extortion.’ He laid down that the Government of India should ‘demand reparation from the Government of Ava, if its officer should refuse to make a proper submission for the injury he has done, and the insult he has offered’. And since there was no accredited British representative to the Court of Ava, he suggested that Commodore Lambert, then in the Hoogly River, should proceed to Rangoon with certain ships under his command in order to bring pressure to bear on the Governor to make the reparation which was due to the British Government. ‘Although there seems no reason to doubt the accuracy of the depositions, or the veracity of the deponents’, Lord Dalhousie said in his instructions, ‘it would be right that the Commodore should in the first instance be satisfied on this head.’2 Their conclusion was equally clear: ‘It is to be distinctly understood that no act of hostility is to be com¬ mitted at present, though the reply of the Governor should be unfavour¬ able, nor until definite instructions regarding such hostilities shall be given by the Government of India.’3 The Governor-General envisaged war as an instrument of colonial policy, but only as a last resort. In the first instance he believed that the presence of British ships in the harbour of Rangoon would persuade or intimidate the Governor, Maung Ok, to pay compensation. If this imperial demonstration did not sufficiently impress the Governor, then, Dalhousie wrote to Sir Henry Elliot, the Government of India would be entitled ‘to 1 How Wars are got up in India, by Richard Cobden, M.P., p. 6. 2 India Secret Consultations, Vol. 171, No. 23, 1851. 3 Papers relating to Hostilities with Burma, C. 1490, p. 14.

124

THE MAKING OF BURMA

proceed to exact reparation by force of arms, or to inflict such punishment on the Burmese State as circumstances might seem to require’.1 But he saw an intermediate step between a demonstra¬ tion of strength and the outbreak of hostilities: ‘The Government of India could not, with justice, proceed to such extremities, until it had communicated with the Court of Ava, respecting the con¬ duct of its servant, the Governor of Rangoon, and had thereby afforded it an opportunity of disavowing his acts, and of making the reparation which he had refused to concede.’ He therefore suggested a letter to the King. If the Governor of Rangoon refused or evaded the demands made by Commodore Lambert, then this letter from the President in Council to the King should be delivered by the Commodore for transmission by the Governor, saying that an early reply was expected, and that if it should not arrive in due time the Govern¬ ment of India would ‘proceed to take such measures’ as they might ‘think necessary and right’.2 Although Dalhousie at this stage could foresee that war was not ruled out, his dispatches reflect his conviction that the dispute could be settled by peaceful means—if not with the difficult Governor of Rangoon, then in direct talks with the King. He wanted a showdown, but he did not want war. In a private letter he wrote: ‘If deliberate and gross wrong should be tamely borne from such a people as this, without vindication of our rights or exaction of repara¬ tions for the wrong, whether the motive of our inaction were desire of peace or contempt for the Burman power, it was felt that the policy would be full of danger; for the Government of India could never consistently with its own safety, permit itself to stand for a single day in an attitude of inferiority towards a native power, and least of all towards the Court of Ava.’3 , Th p 31

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

129

to Lambert instructing him to station a British Agent at Rangoon and to reinforce him with a war-steamer, well-armed, in the river. Dalhousie had to consider the possibility of the King’s refusal to reply, or of an unsatisfactory reply. If the King failed to give an answer, ‘whether through arrogance, indifference, or the intrigues of his servants in keeping the letter from him’, then the British Government could not ‘tamely submit to the injury and the insult it has received in the persons of its subjects’. But this must be done, Dalhousie wrote, without ‘recourse to the terrible extremity of war, except in the last resort and after every other method has been tried without success’. The bombardment of Rangoon, he wrote, ‘would be easy’, but it would ‘be unjustifiable and cruel in the extreme, since the punishment would fall chiefly on the harm¬ less population’. The occupation of Rangoon or Martaban with an armed force would be easy also, Dalhousie said, ‘but it would render inevitable the war which we desire in the first instance by less stringent measures to avert’. If the King’s reply proved unsatisfactory, then a blockade of Rangoon was envisaged, and in this case, Lambert was told to take away the British subjects as soon as it was established. But the King’s reply was favourable and it arrived two days before the ultimatum expired. ‘In accordance to the great friend¬ ship which now exists, and taking into consideration the subject of the letter from the President of the Council of India, we have to inform you’, the letter said, ‘that we have recalled the Governor of Rangoon to the Golden Foot (Ava). A suitable Governor shall be appointed to administer the affairs of Rangoon; and with regard to the merchants who have been unjustifiably insulted and illtreated, proper and strict enquiries shall be instituted, and in accordance to custom it shall be decided.’1 Commodore Lambert commented to the Council: ‘I am of opinion that the King is sincere, and that his Government will fully act up to what he has promised. The future Governor of Rangoon vested with full powers to settle the demands, is daily expected from Prome.’2 Dalhousie was perfectly satisfied with the King’s reply and wrote in his minute to the Council: ‘The reparation thus afforded by the Court of Ava for the acts of its officers, ought to be received by the Government of India as fully satisfactory.’ He then advised that the inquiry, which it must be assumed would be ‘entered upon in good faith’, should be related only to the two 1 C. 1490, p. 35.

2 C. 1490, p. 34.

130

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

incidents which Commodore Lambert had been sent to investigate. As we have seen already, he did not take seriously the long list of complaints by British traders who suddenly thought they had a chance to get money from the Burmese and take their revenge on Governor Maung Ok. The King’s reply could have ended the incident. Dalhousie’s minute of 12 January 1852 suggests that he believed the incident was over. He discussed the rank of the proposed British represen¬ tative in Rangoon; he would be more suitably a Political Agent rather than a Resident, since most of his communications would be with the Governor of Rangoon—not, as in the case of a Resident, with the Court of Ava. With a new Governor of Rangoon and the promised payment of compensation, his opinion was ‘that peace and harmony’ would be restored, ‘which (as the Government of of India had anticipated) it is the declared wish of the Court of Ava to maintain and which the Government of India, upon its part, sincerely desires to confirm’.1 He also proposed that a Min¬ ister be stationed at Ava, and ended this minute with the remark that although his colleagues did not entirely agree with him, yet he believed that the Government of India should express their lively satisfaction’ of the way Commodore Lambert had handled the situation which had terminated in the reply of the King. Unfortunately, the Governor-General was not aware at that moment that, following an absurd incident, the Commodore, on his own responsibility, had taken steps which could only lead to war. J The King had been as good as his word. A new Governor of Rangoon arrived from Ava on 4 January. The next day, Com¬ modore Lambert sent Mr. Edwards, an assistant interpreter, to ask for an interview, and this was immediately granted. The new Governor at once consented to remove the embargo imposed by his predecessor by which people had been prevented from communicating with the ships of the Commodore’s squadron. iNext, Mr. Edwards, accompanied by two captains and two officers of.the steamer Hermes, went to the Governor’s house to deliver the Commodore’s demands. Mr. Edwards went ahead, and according to one of the Captains—Captain Latter—the following incident occurred: 6 At the foot of the outer steps, one of the Governor’s suite drew his fnnSr wi!111?’ 3nd th,ref'emngty asked him how he dared thus to approach the Governor’s house. Mr. Edwards replied that he had no Dalh°USie> 12 JanU3ry l852’ India Secret

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

!3I

intention of entering without the Governor’s permission. On being called into the Governor’s presence, he stated that his life had been threatened, and mentioned what had occurred. The Governor sent for the offender, and punished him in the presence of Mr. Edwards in the usual Burmese manner, namely, by having him taken by the hair of the head, swung round three times, his face dashed to the ground, himself dragged out by the hair and pitched down stairs.’1 Mr. Edwards now presented the message to the Governor, add¬ ing that a deputation was ready to see him. The Governor replied that he wished to have the communication directly through him and not through anyone else. This was impossible, Mr. Edwards replied, as the deputation of senior officers was already on its way. When it arrived shortly afterwards, the officers were told that the Governor was asleep and they were asked to wait until he was awake. The fact was that, in accordance with the ceremonial of the Governor’s office, an interview with the Governor needed certain preparation; whereas a clerk like Mr. Edwards could, and did, go in and out of the office, and saw the Governor without any preparation, the same procedure would have been considered impolite to the deputation of senior officers, and the Governor himself would have lost face with his own officials. When Commodore Lambert heard that the deputation had not been received by the Governor, he immediately, and on his own initiative, decided on a course of action which could only result in war. Without waiting to hear from the Governor, without referring either to the King of Ava, who had sent a conciliatory letter and acted on it, without informing the Governor-General of India, he warned all British residents to be prepared to leave Rangoon that afternoon. Several hundred British subjects took refuge on board ships in the river and before it was evening the vessels had sailed. As soon as it was dark the Commodore gave orders that the King’s ship, anchored near the squadron, should be seized. Then, within less than ten hours of the deputation’s visit to the Governor, and in consequence of them being kept for a quarter of an hour in the sun waiting, unsuccessfully, to see him, the Commodore issued this Notification: ‘In virtue of authority from the Governor-General of British India, I do hereby declare the rivers of Rangoon, the Bassein and the Salween above Moulmein, to be in a state of blockade; and with the view to the strict enforcement thereof, a competent force will be stationed in, or near, the entrance of the said rivers immediately. ‘Neutral vessels, lying in either of the blockaded rivers, will be 1 C. 1490, p.

44-

132

THE MAKING OF BURMA

permitted to retire within twenty days from the commencement of the blockade. ‘Given under my hand, on board Her Britannic Majesty’s frigate, Fox, of the town of Rangoon, the 6th of January, 1852. ‘George R. Lambert ‘Commodore in Her Brittanic Majesty’s Navy.’1

The Commodore sent this letter to the Great Ministers of State of H.M. the King of Ava on the following day: ‘It is with deep regret I have to inform you that in consequence of the insults offered by the Governor of Rangoon, I have been obliged to suspend further communication with the Burmese Empire, until I have received further instructions from the Governor General of British India and to declare its coasts under a state of blockade. ‘I have further to acquaint you I have detained a vessel belonging to the Government, until the claims that were demanded for money extorted by the late Governor are paid.’2

The letter was not only precipitate and sent without orders; it was also untrue. He had not been given instructions to suspend further communication with the King or to blockade the coasts. The Commodore’s letter was, as the Governor of Rangoon described it, ‘a manifest inclination to implicate the two nations in war . On Wednesday, 7 January, at daybreak, the British steamer Hermes took the King’s ship in tow, and the whole squadron sailed down the river, the frigate remaining just below Dallah. The Governor of Dallah’s interview with Commodore Lambert is fully described by Captain Latter’s report. The Governor of Rangoon had sent his colleague to see what could be done in a threatening situation. The Commodore informed him ‘in con¬ sideration of his [the Commodore’s] personal regard for him and as a mark of the appreciation in which he held his admirable conduct during the whole time the expedition had been lying off Rangoon, he would in a measure deviate from his first intentions and that he would again open communications with the present Governor, if that officer would come himself on board his frigate and express^ h!S regret for the insult that he had offered to the British Flag by refusing to see the deputation. The Dallah Governor returned a few hours later with a letter from the Governor of Rangoon saying that he really was asleep when the deputation reached him, that he did not wish to see a anrwirndllnpn0r that he W°uld see the Commodore and wished the Commodore to go to him. This the Commodore refused to do and gave the Governor of Rangoon till noon of the C-

1490, p. 39.

2 Ibid., pp. 39-40.

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

I33

next day to make up his mind. The next day the Governor of Dallah went on board the frigate, and stated that ‘he was very anxious that the Commodore should give up the King’s ship, as that any punishment the King might inflict upon his servants for its loss might be partially visited upon him, as the ship was taken away in the waters between his government and that of the Governor of Rangoon’. The request was refused, but the Com¬ modore prolonged the time for the Rangoon Governor to accede to his terms from noon till sunset. At this point, the Governor of Rangoon sent a message to the Commodore ‘to the effect that if he attempted to take the King of Ava’s ship out of the river, he would fire on him’. According to Lieutenant William Laurie— ‘The Commodore replied that if even a pistol were fired, he would level the stockades with the ground. And with this mutual determina¬ tion may be said to have commenced the second Burmese war!’1 Shortly after daylight on io January the Commodore weighed anchor. ‘On my arrival off the great stockade’, he wrote, ‘I anchored, and found it occupied by a considerable force. An immense number of large warboats, with guns mounted in them, were also lying close to the shore, and at the entrance of a small creek, under the walls of the stockade, and were fully manned. Their behaviour was exceedingly threatening, but I refrained from interfering with them, as I had promised yesterday that I would not fire on the Burmese first. ‘Her Majesty’s steam-sloop, Hermes, with the King of Ava’s boat in tow, passed us at half-past nine, when the stockade opened a sharp cannonade on Her Majesty’s ship Fox which was instantly returned with shot and shell, and the Burmese battery was in a short time silenced. On the smoke clearing away, not a person was to be seen on the shore or in the boats. Our fire, I have no doubt, must have done great execu¬ tion, for I have reason to believe that at least 3,000 men were opposed against us. One or two of the enemy’s shot struck the Fox, but did very trifling damage. Their shot in general fell short, a few only passing over us, and their small arms did no execution.’2 Later that same day (10 January 1852) Commodore Lambert wrote to Mr. Halliday, Secretary to the Government of India: ‘It is with deep regret I have had to commence hostilities with the Burmese Nation, but I am confident the Marquis of Dalhousie and the Government of India will see it was unavoidable, and necessary to vindicate the honour of the British flag.’3 1 The Second Burmese War. A Narrative of the Operations at Rangoon in 1852, by William F. B. Laurie, p. 28. 2 C. 1490, p. 41. 3 Ibid., p. 42.

r34

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

War at this moment was not unavoidable. Had the Commodore wished to avoid war, he still had an opportunity to do so on n January, when a petition was signed by Armenian, Mogul, Sooratte, Parsee, Mussulman and other merchants and inhabitants of Rangoon to the effect that since the Governor of Rangoon and the Commodore had failed to meet, the Governor now wished to make the following representations: ‘That he is willing to abide by the provisions of the Treaty of Yandabo treaty. ‘To agree to a Resident being appointed. ‘To pay the sum of upwards of 9,000 rupees. ‘And to have a Residency house erected. In accordance with the Royal order, the above subjects were to have been discussed by the two great men in an amicable and friendly manner, but Commodore Lambert has not given him an opportunity of doing so.

J

‘Your petitioners and the merchants both great and small, at Rangoon and at the Capital of Ava amount to upwards of 600 souls “who are in a condition of being stranded in shallow water”. ‘Your petitioners, therefore most humbly entreat you, in the name of Almighty God, to have pity upon them, and to save and protect them from ruin and destruction.’1

But Commodore Lambert made no reply to these proposals, e had already decided on war. The decision was on his own responsibility. He had acted, as Dalhousie wrote to his friend bir George Couper, ‘in disobedience of his orders’. Dalhousie and his colleagues on the Council still believed that it was possible to avoid a war. The Commodore simply assumed its inevitability and there is not a word in his despatches to suggest that he was anxious to avoid it. Dalhousie was most critical of Lambert but was not willing to dismiss him, as he could have done. His minute of 22 January 1852 was an outspoken condemnation of the Commodore After sending it off to the Council he wrote a private note to his closest friend, telling him how the Commodore and the General had not hit it off’ and told the story of the King’s ship: So all that fat is in the fire. I am just on the point of setting off from

HiD \n\tT a ? Jr yaCh 3^

J0Urney to Calcutta> instead of f pleasant 1 stiI1 think matters will be accom^ stren§thening the frontiers, and

d°7n the nver-

1 C. 1490, p. 42.

pp. mV-T

°f tke

0f Dalhousie, edited by J. G. A. Baird,

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

135

The full text of Dalhousie’s minute has never been published. It was so heavily expurgated in the Blue Book, which historians have seemed satisfied to quote, that the real strength of Dalhousie s criticism, and therefore of his weakness in not dismissing Lambert have not emerged with sufficient clarity. Dalhousie him¬ self wrote to his friend, Sir George Couper, that his despatches criticizing the Commodore had been ‘suppressed in the Blue Book', but he made no public disavowal of Lambert at the time, nor any public complaint that he had been misinterpreted. Those who compiled the Blue Book understood perfectly well that the ex¬ posure of Dalhousie’s reprimand would weaken the case they were building up for Parliament to justify the Second Anglo-Burmese War. A study of the omissions taken side by side with the pub¬ lished passages show how every effort was made to obscure Dal¬ housie’s view that Lambert was ‘wholly responsible for the acts of hostility which have been unfortunately committed on both sides’; that Lambert ‘had no . . . justification ... in seizing the ship which belonged to the King of Ava’; that by seizing the ship, Lambert ‘took a step which naturally—almost necessarily—led to an act of hostility by the Burmese, and which now threatens to embroil the two nations in a second War’; that in spite of hostilities, the petition from the merchants of Rangoon still left the door open for negotiations and the restoration of harmony between the two peoples. In para. 13 he suggested that someone other than the Commodore should be appointed to carry out negotiations. When Dalhousie’s minute was discussed by the Council, the President fully approved of his proposals and instructions. The Hon. Sir F. Currie wrote a minute to the effect ‘that a judicious or temperate management of the negotiation, on the arrival of the new Governor of Rangoon would have led to the result desired by our Government’. He suggested that any reprimand of the Com¬ modore ‘should be as little painful as possible’: ‘I do not think Commodore Lambert is prepared for the Governor General taking the view of his conduct contained in His Lordship’s Minute, tho’ he must be aware from his conference with the Council, yesterday week, that this is precisely the opinion entertained by the President in Council. ‘I concur in thinking it quite necessary that further negotiations, at the present stage, should not be committed to Commodore Lambert, and I gathered from his statement to the Council that it would not be agreeable to him to be made the channel of negotiating with the Governor of Rangoon, till that chief had made an apology to him for not

136

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

receiving Commander Fishbourne and his letter on the quarter deck of his frigate.’1 The Hon. J. Lowis also approved of Dalhousie’s observations and concluded his own minute: ‘In spite of the apparent difficulties now in the way I am still sanguine that peace with Burma will ultimately be maintained because I believe that the Government of that country is in reality as desirous of peace as we are.’2 But Lambert held his position, and avoided any public criticism, except that of Cobden and Lord Ellenborough. He made his defence in a letter to the Governor-General which is also omitted from the Blue Book. He wrote that the operations he had carried on with the Burmese had been ‘animadverted on so strangely by the Governor-General of India, as to call for some explanation’. This is included as an Appendix to this chapter, as well as Dalhousie’s very spirited but dignified reply.3 This correspondence is a com¬ plete answer to those historians who seek to excuse Dalhousie’s unwillingness to get rid of Lambert because he was not immedi¬ ately responsible to him, but to the Lords of the Admiralty. The passages omitted from Dalhousie’s minute of 22 January show that he was at that time still reluctant to become involved in war with Ava. On 25 January he informed the Secret Committee: I . . . still entertain a hope that a peaceable adjustment will be obtained. In the meantime, all due precautions for the defence of our eastern frontier are being taken by the Government of India.’ On the next day his mind was moving nearer to the acceptance of war as an instrument of colonial power. That day he wrote a minute to the effect that upon mature consideration’ he believed that it would ‘not be prudent to delay sending a reinforcement to the Arracan province . He was supported by Currie and Lowis. Yet even at this late stage the Burmese were trying to avoid war. An interesting sidelight on their attitude is provided by the correspondence of Colonel Bogle, Commissioner of Tenasserim, who not only knew the people and the language intimately but strongly disapproved of the Commodore’s attitude. On 30 Jan¬ uary he reported that two Burmese messengers had come to tell im about an attack made by British police on the small village of Pagat. It appearing to me’, Colonel Bogle wrote, ‘from the tone of the Burmese authorities, that the intelligence they had sent was true, and 1 India Secret Consultations, Vol. 173, No. 69. see pages 545-547.

2 ibid ’

No 70 ' ' '

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

r37

that they were actuated by a very friendly feeling, and not having received any report of the matter from any other source, I thought that the best way of settling the affair was to get into a steamer and proceed to the spot at once ... the steamer took the ground close to the Martaban fortification, and remained fast for twenty minutes, within short musket-shot of the walls. The place was well filled with men, and I observed a couple of guns mounted on the ramparts; but no advantage was taken of the steamer being aground; and we remained unmolested until the tide rose and the Phlegethon proceeded on her voyage. . . . Nor did the Burmese appear to entertain any fears that we would annoy them.’1 The significance of Colonel Bogle’s story is that the incident happened three weeks after Commodore Lambert had blockaded the coasts. The Commodore at that time told the Government of India again and again that the Burmese had hostile designs. Colonel Bogle’s honest despatch concluded: ‘Now, coupling all the circumstances of this trip with the recent com¬ munications from the Governors of Rangoon and Martaban, noticed in my letter of the 27th instant, it appears to me probable that the pacific tone assumed by the Burmese is in consequence of orders from the Governor of Rangoon, to whom Martaban is now subordinated, or it may be dictated by weakness, and a backward state of preparation.’2 On 7 February Colonel Bogle received two Burmese officials from Martaban. They carried gold umbrellas and a letter enclosed in an ivory case and a red velvet cover which they asked Colonel Bogle to transmit to the Governor-General in Calcutta. The letter was the King’s reply to Commodore Lambert’s letter of 7 Jan¬ uary. It was sent to Colonel Bogle because the Ministers in Ava heard that the Commodore, far from being on his way to Calcutta to present their earlier letter, was blockading Rangoon and holding the King’s ship. They believed that Colonel Bogle was more likely to want friendly relations. The Colonel had to stand up for the Commodore and to insist that all he could do was to forward the letter. But he had no doubts as to the significance of the visit, and he wrote in his own covering note to the Commodore: ‘The circumstances of the Burmese Government having sent a letter to the Governor-General at all, and the speed with which it has come, would certainly indicate a desire that hostilities may be averted, at least for the present.’3 The King’s letter, after describing events in Rangoon, asked what were the intentions of the British Government, and whether 1 C. 1490, p. 60.

2 Ibid., p. 61.

3 Ibid., p. 72.

138

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Commodore Lambert had been deputed simply to dispose of the question concerning the merchants ‘or whether he has been sent to begin by an attack, which should have the effect of bringing on hostilities between the two countries’.1 The King’s letter was not the only chance the Burmese pro¬ vided of averting war. The Governor of Rangoon replied to the Government of India’s demands in a terse, but dignified letter on 2 February. He concluded: ‘As soon as the officer which the Government of India is prepared to appoint, in conformity with existing treaties, shall arrive, a satisfactory and amicable arrangement can be made of the payment of the 9,948 rupees extorted from Captains Lewis and Sheppard; also with reference to the re-delivery of the King of Ava’s ship, seized by Commodore Lambert. ‘With reference to the question of the disrespect said to have been shown to the deputation sent with a letter by Commodore Lambert, it should be borne in mind that the English officers have been stating their own version of the case, and consequently, whilst shielding themselves, they have thrown all the blame on the other side.’2 The letter from the Governor of Rangoon to the Government of India and the King’s letter to the Governor-General may have been the Burmese way of playing for time, though the evidence certainly suggests the opposite—that they were trying desperately to avoid war. Undoubtedly these letters provided a basis of nego¬ tiations which the Governor-General did not explore. He described the King’s letter in a personal note to a friend: ‘It may be meant as an olive branch, or it may be a hum.’ He behaved as if it were a hum . He also considered the Governor of Rangoon’s reply as totally unsatisfactory, and it was from this moment that he assumed the inevitability of war and decided that he had reached the point of no return. This is clearly shown in Dalhousie’s minute of 12 February, which is written in a different mood from his earlier despatches. The reply of the Governor of Rangoon’, he wrote, ‘far from making the required concessions, has evaded them all. . . . This letter leaves to the Government of India, in my deliberate judge¬ ment, no alternative but to exact reparation by force of arms’. His mood had changed. He now began to use the language which all colonial powers have used to justify their wars: ‘If, allured by the specious appearance of a desire for reconciliation, contained in the Governor’s suggestion that an Envoy shall now be 1 C. 1490, p. 70.

2 Ibid-> pp 62.3>

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

I39

sent, the Government of India shall acquiesce in that request, it will suffer itself to be decoyed into a feeble and false position.’1 And then, after recapitulating in bitter terms, the Minutes he had so soberly written, he completely justified the war in these words: ‘I desire to record my fixed conviction, that the Government of India will commit an error, perilous to its own security, and at variance with real humanity, if, acting on this view, it shall yield to the pretensions of the Burmese, and shall now patch up a hollow and unsubstantial peace. ‘Among all the nations of the East, none is more arrogant in its pretensions of superiority, and none more pertinacious in its assertion of them, than the people of Burmah. With them, forms are essential substance, and the method of communication and the style of address are not words, but acts. ‘The British power in India cannot safely afford to exhibit even a temporary appearance of inferiority. Whilst I should be reluctant to believe that our empire in India has no stay but the sword alone, it is vain to doubt that our hold must mainly rest upon the might of the conqueror, and must be maintained by that power. The Government of India cannot, consistently with its own safety, appear for one day in an attitude of inferiority; or hope to maintain peace and submission among the numberless princes and people embraced within the vast circuit of the empire, if, for one day it give countenance to a doubt of the absolute superiority of its arms, and of its continued resolution to assert it.’2 Dalhousie expressed the same imperialist ideas in a more personal form to one of his friends: ‘We can’t afford to be shown to the door anywhere in the East; there are too many doors to our residence there to admit of our submitting to that movement safely at any one of them.’ dalhousie’s ultimatum

The next step was the order for war. The King’s letter had left the door open, but Dalhousie’s mind was made up. On 13 Febru¬ ary 1852 his Secretary, Mr. Halliday, wrote to Commodore Lambert: ‘The Burmese authorities having now finally rejected the demands that were last transmitted through you, the Government of India has determined to proceed at once to exact by force of arms the reparation which it has failed to obtain by other means. ‘It is expected that a considerable force from Bengal and Madras may be dispatched soon after the 25th of March.’3 1 Ibid., p. 64.

2 Ibid., p. 66.

3 Ibid., p. 67.

I40

THE MAKING OF BURMA

The decision to make war had been taken, but the GovernorGeneral kept up a pretence of negotiations. On 18 February he sent a note to the King of Ava: ‘It is still within your Majesty’s power to avert from your Kingdom the disasters of war; but this can only be done by a prompt disavowal of the acts of your Majesty’s servants at Rangoon and by a full com¬ pliance with the several demands which are hereinafter enumerated: ‘1. Your Majesty, disavowing the acts of the present Governor of Rangoon, shall by the hands of your Ministers express regret that Captain Fishbourne and the British officers who accom¬ panied him were exposed to insult at the hands of your servants at Rangoon on the 6th January last. ‘2. In satisfaction of the claims of the two Captains who suffered exactions from the late Governor of Rangoon in compensation for the loss of property which British merchants may have suffered in the burning of that city by the acts of the present Governor; and in consideration of the expenses of preparation for war, your Majesty will agree to pay, and will pay at once, ten lacs of rupees to the Government of India. ‘3. Your Majesty will direct that an accredited Agent, to be appointed in conformity with the 7th Article of the Treaty of Yandabo and to reside at Rangoon, shall be received by your Majesty’s servants there; and shall at all times, be treated with the respect due to the Representatives of the British Government. 4. Your Majesty will direct the removal of the present Governor of Rangoon, whose conduct renders it impossible that the Govern¬ ment of India should consent to any official intercourse with him. ‘If without further delay negotiations or correspondence, these con¬ ditions shah ne consented to and shall be fulfilled on or before the 1st day of April next, hostile operations shall be stayed, peace between the States shall be renewed, and the King’s ship shall be restored. But if, untaught by former experience; forgetful of the irresistible power of the British arms in India; and heedless of the many additional proofs that have been given of its might in the successful fall of the powerful Sovereigns of Bhurtpoore, of Scinde, of the Sikhs and of many other Princes, since last the Burman rulers vainly attempted to resist t e British troops in war, the King of Ava shall unwisely refuse the just and lenient conditions which are now set before him the British Government will have no alternative but immediate war. The guilt and the consequences of war will rest upon the head of the Ruler of Ava. 1 This was in fact an ultimatum of war. It could not be inter¬ preted in any other way by an independent King. The President 1 C. 1490, p. 75.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

I4I

of the Board of Control later described it as ‘couched in too severe terms’. Lord Dalhousie, whatever his personal sentiments might have been had no doubts that it was his right and his duty to assert British superiority. Lord Dalhousie selected Lieutenant-General Godwin to com¬ mand the expedition. He had already proved to be an effective general in the First Anglo-Burmese War. General Godwin’s own views can be followed, as the diary which he kept during the war was subsequently published by his family. These are some of its entries: Government House, Calcutta. March 14, 1852. p. 5. ‘The King of Ava has been allowed until the 1st of April to make up his mind whether to pay indemnities or make certain concessions, or abide the consequences. Our first demand was 900 rupees (£90); now it is ten lacs (£100,000). This beats the Sybil’s terms hollow. I feel no doubt whatever but that he will refuse the payment and try his strength. The operations at Rangoon are to be considered as all that can be done before the rains.’ Government House, Calcutta. March 21, 1852. pp. 7-8. ‘I have just come up from a long conversation with the Governor-General, and I am more than ever satisfied with my position! His Lordship said “I intend to leave you a free agent in the Civil Dept, to make a peace, under your instructions, in such a way as may appear to you best, knowing the people and country as you do. . . . ‘ “My private instructions dated the 24th March are given among the printed papers. They are as follows: ‘ “Should a letter have come from the Court of Ava, I was to ascer¬ tain its contents; and should it accede to the demands of the British Government, I should abstain from hostilities. ‘ “Should the Court of Ava seem disposed to accede to our demands, as soon as practicable, I was to suspend hostilities and treat in a fair and liberal spirit. ‘ “Should there be no communication from the Court of Ava, or a direct refusal to accede, I was to proceed to act.” ’ p. 8. ‘The views of the Government are explicitly stated as follows: ‘ “The Governor-General in Council has directed the assembling of this force in hope that a powerful blow struck promptly now may reduce the Burmese to reason; may obtain compliance with our demands and so may avert the necessity for war upon a more extended scale, after the close of the coming monsoon.” ’ Events moved according to the pattern the Governor-General described. War steamers and other vessels took up position in the

142

THE MAKING OF BURMA

river, bombarded the Rangoon and Dallah shores. There was little resistance. The Commanding Officer’s journal reads: Rangoon. April 23, 1852.

p. 10. ‘. . . The storming into the Great Pagoda was a beautiful sight. The 800 men had to descend from a height where a battery was (and where we lost a good many, the shots plunging in on us constantly); then to traverse a pretty valley to the ascent to the Pagoda. They marched through the battery, wound their way silent and steady, till they reached the foot of the rising ground on which the Pagoda stands. Then came the rush up it, under cannon and musketry. In a few minutes the shout told all. The men then spread out, and drove all before them. My reward was, and ever will be, in that loud huzza which all the regiments in the rear heard and understood. The support was ready to advance, and all were in in an hour.’1 The Governor of Rangoon had left the Pagoda on 13 April, realizing that it was impossible to hold this position. General Godwin sent an expedition after him to a village some seven miles inland, but he had already left. On 2 May Lord Dalhousie wrote to a friend: ‘The Governor of Rangoon sent in a paper to General Godwin, after his retreat, to say we had beaten one army, no doubt, but that there were two more still. Nevertheless, to prevent effusion of blood, he was willing to allow things to return to what they were before hostilities. These are the people whose insolence, it is said, we should pass without notice. General Godwin gave back the letter with a polite intimation to the effect that if he caught his Excellency, he would hang him. Provided he does not do it (which I have warned him against), the answer was in the proper style for these people.’ So the war continued. Bassein fell on 20 May; this was a serious blow to the Burmese, who, according to General Godwin, had intended that it should take the place of Rangoon as a trading port ‘and also to maintain a threatening attitude towards the south of Arracan’. On the other side of the Delta, British forces beat back, more than 10,000 Burmese troops stationed there Genera1 Godwin next concentrated on Pegu. The expedition, led by Major Cotton and Captain Tarleton, occupied the city in the beginning of June. Captain Tarleton marched on to Prome and held it for twenty-four hours before withdrawing to a site in the vicinity. Thus, within three months Dalhousie’s schemes to seize Martaban Rangoon and Bassein before the monsoon had been achieved. He now expected that the Burmese had been taught their

1

Burmah. Letters and Papers written in 1852-53,

by Major-General Godwin.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

J43

lesson, and he expected that they would ask for terms. ‘But the beasts don’t give in’, he wrote to a friend at the end of May; and this sort of passive resistance is perhaps as embarrassing for my part of the business as anything could be, for I can’t get a result. They give and take no terms.’ In another private letter (on 27 June) he wrote: ‘There is no symptom of submission, and I now give up all hope of it, except, perhaps, at a distant time, when our expenses will have risen to such a sum that the reimbursement we must demand will either be refused or can be met only by cession of territory—odious to them and undesired by us. Daily I am more mortified and disheartened by the political necessity which I see before me. . . . Conquest, I have officially said, is a calamity; but in this case the avoidance of it would be a calamity greater still. If the Court choose to elect the alternative of immediate convenience at the price of certain future recurrent of the present evil in a worse form, they may do so.’1 Dalhousie’s advice to the Council was to annex Pegu. In his minute of 30 June 1852,2 he put forward five alternative sug¬ gestions. First, ‘withdraw its armies from all Burmah; and exacting nothing, retaining nothing, it may trust entirely to the influence of this second manifestation of its power, for protecting its subjects and territories against Burmese violence in the future’. This policy ‘would, in the eyes of Asia, be tantamount to a defeat’. Secondly, the district of Martaban alone might be annexed, after which the army would withdraw. This he main¬ tained would be ’misunderstood and misrepresented, and no valid security would be afforded for future peace’. Thirdly, Rangoon as well as Martaban might be annexed. The argument against this was that the Burmese would then build up Bassein as an alterna¬ tive to Rangoon, thus forcing the British to spend large sums on the defence of Rangoon. The same argument was used against his fourth alternative—namely, that Martaban, Rangoon and Bassein should all be annexed. The military expenses would be great and there would be no local income to offset them. The last, and the policy which he advocated, and what was accepted, was to annex the entire province of Pegu, extending somewhat beyond Prome. His minute showed that Dalhousie was determined to teach the Burmese a lesson: ‘There is now no power in Asia to which the British Government can less afford to give even an apparent advantage; for there is none which ventures to assert the same pretensions to superiority in strength and 1

Private Letters of the Marquess of Dalhousie,

pp. 207-8.

2 C. 1608, p. 45.

144

the making of burma

dignity, and none so ready to support those pretensions by force of arms.’1 He could not understand from his Olympic heights how the Burmese could refuse to admit defeat in 1826: ‘But there is abundant evidence to be found, as well upon written record as in the subsequent conduct of the Court of Ava, that neither the King nor his Chiefs regarded themselves as conquered; and that they have neither recognized their actual inferiority to the British power, nor were at all anxious to avoid a fresh encounter with it.’2 No minute of this great empire-builder sets out so clearly the basis of British colonial policy. On 10 August 1852, by which time the issues had been settled, Dalhousie wrote to the Council: ‘We are masters of the sea-coast from east to west. We control by our steamers the whole of the streams of the Irrawaddy, from Prome to the Sea. With the exception of a few thousand men near Prome, and a still smaller body towards Martaban, no Burmese troops whatever can be heard of in the Lower Province. In the Upper Province, no army has been collected. No defences have been constructed at Prome, and no force remains there. ‘The Burmese have betrayed a total want of enterprise, courage, power and resource. Large bodies of them retire at the mere sight of a steamer, or in the presence of a few Europeans, so soon as they are landed. At the same time, no sign has been shown of an intention to submit, or to treat, nor is there the slightest ground for believing that any such overtures will be made.’3 He was not in favour of advancing beyond Prome, though General Godwin was anxious to do so. Lord Dalhousie saw that it would involve considerable transport, that it might mean a heavy loss of life through exposure to climate, and that it would ‘occupy so many months as would render it necessary for the army to pass the hot season of 1853 at Ava’. And, finally, he was not thinking in terms of the retention of the upper provinces of Burma, and believed that it was better tactics to consolidate Pegu. So the General s enthusiasm was curbed. He was provided with troops only for the campaign to Prome. Prome fell on 15 October 1852 and the main military operations were over by the end of the year. It is astonishing to find how little interest was shown in these events in the British Press or in Parliament. Richard Cobden was an exception. His papers in the British Museum show that he was continuously in touch with the Peace Society, and there are many 1 c- l6o8> P- 4i.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid _ p

6s

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

T45

letters to the then Secretary, the Rev. H. Richards, of which these two are examples: August io, 1852.

My dear Sir, I have come up to town for a few days and received your letter just as I was starting this morning from the country. There is little doubt but you are right to the letter about our bloody work at Rangoon etc. It is upon a par with the doings of our forefathers in the East. I was told by an East India Director that the war was totally unnecessary— that it grew out of the violence of the Navy Envoy—that if a civilian had been employed hostilities would not have begun at all—and that Lord Dalhousie disapproved of the conduct of the Admiral in seizing the ship of war. But nobody of any authority will publicly disavow the acts of these fighting men—esprit de corps, the spirit of nationality, and the great social sway of the military class, all tend to sweep us more and more into the martial vortex. If God really rules this earth (as I solemnly believe he does) upon the principle of a self-acting retributive justice, then British doings in India and China involve a serious reckon¬ ing with us on our children. And assuredly the day will come.’1 And on 24 August 1852: ‘In a weekly overland China Mail which has just reached me I find an allusion made in a leading article to another article in the Bengal Harkaru (which however does not appear in the columns of the China Mail) exposing the pompous pretensions of our fighting men in Burmah. In fact the bulletins of General Godwin, in last Saturday’s Times are worthy of Bombastian Furiore himself—when one compares the talk and the results. It is quite clear that our so called battles with these people are nothing but battues. They have no more chance against our 64 lb. red shot and other infernal improvements in the art of war than they would in running a race on their roads against our railways. War has become like manufacturing and industrial rivalry, very much a com¬ petition of capital, skill and chemical and mechanical discovery. Don’t forget that the day on which we commenced the war with a bombard¬ ment of shot shells and muskets—which made an eye witness remark that the natives must have thought it an onslaught of devils, was Easter Sunday.'2

When Prome fell on 15 October the Secret Committee in London was already intensely interested in the potentialities of new territory in Burma, and they pressed the Governor-General to insist on a treaty. It was much against Dalhousie’s judgement to do so; he was only too conscious of the difficulties his predecessors had had at the time of the Yandabo Treaty. He believed that it was better to bring an end to the war, and to establish relations 1 British Museum Additional Manuscripts, 43,657, Vol. XI.

2 Ibid.

146

THE MAKING OF BURMA

with the Burmese on what might seem an indefinite, but what was in reality a more satisfactory basis. He regarded a treaty with Burma as ‘an evil to be avoided’. He wrote a minute on 3 Novem¬ ber 1852, saying: ‘The only consideration which would induce such a Power as Burma to refrain from hostilities, and to save our subjects harmless, is fear of our power, and of the consequences, if they should provoke its exercise. If they have that fear, a treaty is superfluous for our protection; if they have it not, a treaty is worthless.’1 Dalhousie believed that the Court of Ava ‘would not openly assent to a cession’ of territory, but that it might ‘silently acquiesce in a loss’. Nevertheless, the Secret Committee insisted, and on 16 November 1852 the Governor-General sent a proposed draft to the King. Article 1 laid down ‘perpetual peace and friendship’. Article 2 ceded to the Honourable East India Company ‘in per¬ petual sovereignty, the Province of Pegu’. Article 3 bound each Government ‘to permit the subjects of the other to carry on trade within their respective dominions’. No answer came from the Court to this proposal. And, until a Burmese historian provides a detailed account of what was happening at that time in Ava, we have to depend on second¬ hand sources for any evaluation of the balance of power in the Court. But the reports of British officials suggest that the division of opinion on the war contributed to the palace revolution. Its leader, Mindon Min, had been in favour of peace for some months, as the two following letters indicate: 25 October 1852. A letter from J. C. Avetoon: ‘The King is said to be somewhat labouring under the family disease insanity. He listens to no intercession for peace. Even his own brother Men-doon-Men’s the Grand Prince within the Kingdom, is disregarded. They are disunited, within Councils, most of them being for peace and tranquility, the fear of the King alone hindering them from open declaration. The King has declared that if unable to resist the advance of the British, he will retire with his family—perhaps to Com-boun, the native country of his ancestor Alow-Phra.’2 4 December 1852. A letter from Captain Fytche: ‘It is suspected there is a serious conspiracy to dethrone the King of Ava, laid by Maung-taw, and his Uncle the Kyouk-padaung MengGyee. They have been placing their relations and connections with every Post of Power and emolument and the whole of the Treasure and Arms supplied of late from the Royal Treasury and Arsenal, has fallen into 1 India Secret Consultations, 26 November 1852, Vol. 6.

2 Ibid.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

147

their hands. My informants on their journey to Amarapoora met the Let-ya-ywe-bo, who is a connection of the Party, with 2,000 men pro¬ ceeding to his District which lies along the left bank of the Khye-ndwen River, under secret instructions, it is supposed to fall upon Amarapoora, when the plot was ripe. *• • • From the information that these two people have brought, as also from that derived from other sources, I should not be astonished to hear of a rebellion being raised against the authority of the King of Ava by Maung-Twa, who is now in fact the Ruler of the State, the King being an imbecile, and completely in his hands. If such an event happens, Thoung-twa will probably try to make terms with the Govern¬ ment. If the force of circumstances proceed from whatever source they may, induce the King to forsake the capital, his cause is ruined beyond redemption.’1 THE ANNEXATION OF PEGU

But these events in Ava did not materially alter what was happening in Rangoon and in Pegu. On 20 December 1852 the Proclamation of the Annexation of Pegu was announced by Captain Phayre, who had already been selected by the GovernorGeneral as Commissioner of Pegu. ‘The just and moderate demands of the Government of India have been rejected by the King’, the Proclamation stated, though no answer had been forth¬ coming from Ava. ‘Wherefore in compensation for the past and for better security in the future, the Governor-General in Council has resolved, and hereby proclaims, that the Province of Pegu is now, and shall be henceforth, a portion of the British Territories in the East. . . . ‘The Governor-General in Council having exacted the reparation he deems sufficient, desires no further conquest in Burmah, and is willing to consent that hostilities should cease. But if the King of Ava shall fail to renew his former relations of friendship with the British Govern¬ ment, and if he shall recklessly seek to dispute its quiet possession of the Province it has now declared to be its own, the Governor-General in Council will again put forth the power he holds and will visit with full retribution, aggressions which, if they be persisted in, must of necessity lead to the total subversion of the Burman State, and to the ruin and exile of the King and his race.’2 This Proclamation inevitably deepened the conflict in Ava between those who were willing to negotiate and those who were prepared to carry on at all costs. It so happens that we have a precise idea of Mindon’s views about the war with the British. On 19 January 1853 two Catholic priests, Father Domingo Tarolly and Father Paulo Abbona, 1 India Secret Consultations, December 1852.

2 C. 1608, pp. 160-1.

148

THE MAKING OF BURMA

visited Captain Phayre with a letter from Mindon ‘To be given to the English General and the Ayebaing or Commissioner.’ After customary formalities, Mindon wrote: ‘ In the time even of his royal elder brother [he] always said it was not proper to make war and forbade to do so. But the King, his Ministers and nobles would not hearken and the people of the two countries not being saved from evil and suffering, the people likewise not being well disposed towards, but dissatisfied with, the royal elder brother and his Ministers and nobles, set them aside, on assuming the royal duties, taking over and holding the country the Umbrella and the Palace, agreeably to the former friendship for the English rulers in India [he] wishes for the like friendship. The business of taking and governing the country, the Umbrella and Palace is onerous, varied and extensive, and therefore persons of rank are not now sent.’1 Captain Phayre replied at once: ‘The English General and Commissioner . . . informs the Ministers and Generals . . . they they are glad the Meng-toon Gyee Phra desires to have rest and peace which they also wish for but they can only treat with those who may possess and have due authority over the country, the Umbrella and the Palace with whom the former friendship can be renewed and a treaty made on Burmese Ministers of a suitable rank being deputed to Prome for the purpose.’2 Captain Phayre sent a copy of the Proclamation annexing Pegu, as a polite reminder of what had happened. Dalhousie and General Godwin both approved of the reply Captain Phayre sent to Mindon. But they were not taking any chances. Suddenly the situation changed, though until Burmese records are available we do not know in detail what happened. The Magwe Mangyi changed sides, and since he was the King’s chief Mumster this meant victory for Mindon. On 18 February, Magwe Mingyi took possession of Amarapoora, and deposed Pagan. Mindon arrived from Shwebo and was crowned King. As we have already seen, Mindon approached the British authorities before he was King. One of his first steps now was to send the two Catholic Priests on a second mission, with a message that envoys would soon follow who would be entrusted with peace negotiations. I hey arrived on 2 March and again saw Captain Phayre, not, as t ey had expected, at Prome, but at Myede, fifty miles further up the river. This is what had happened. The Proclamation annexing Iegu had not indicated the frontiers of the newly occupied territory. After the Proclamation, which Captain Phayre had made in Rangoon, he visited Prome to investigate the question of the

1

India Secret Consultations, 1893, Vol. 1.

2 j^id.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

I49 boundary. Then, without any reference to the Burmese, though with Lord Dalhousie’s blessing, he made his own boundary: ‘As the Proclamation gave no details of the boundary, about which there existed in people’s minds the greatest vagueness’ he wrote to the Governor-General ‘and as the Golden Feet still disdained to take any notice of the British, what therefore prevented an advance to a more suitable and healthy site for a cantonment and the inclusion of a rich belt of teak forest in British territory.’ The two Catholic priests—Tarolly and Abbona—assumed that the changeover in Ava from Pagan to Mindon must change the British mind, and lead to the recall of the Proclamation of Annexa¬ tion. ‘The Priest’, Captain Phayre wrote to Dalhousie, referring to Domingo Tarolly, ‘was very anxious in the matter, to a degree which showed he was foolish enough to hope it might be effected.’ Captain Phayre told him that the Proclamation was ‘irrevocable’. He suspected the priests had their own reasons for being so anxious about Pegu. The King, it seems, had promised to rebuild the Catholic Church and to safeguard the lives of ‘Native Christians’. Besides, if the Catholic priests were able to procure the terms King Mindon wanted, then they would be in a better position to secure the expulsion of their rivals, the American Baptist missionaries. King Mindon’s envoys duly arrived on 31 March 1853, only to be met with a draft treaty. Captain Phayre was now not only putting forward the original Proclamation of Annexation, but adding to it a clause relating to the fifty miles of rich teak forests which he had annexed after it was made: ‘I have proposed to carry our boundary to the end of the Meeaday jurisdiction, and also to the end of the Toungoo district. The General, however, thought that this might make it so unpalatable to them, as even to endanger the ratification of the treaty by the king. No doubt this might happen. ‘As carrying the boundary far beyond Meeaday is of no advantage to us, as it gives us no rich country; as we could scarcely go far enough to get near the Aeng Pass; and as the hill country only would not afford us a road to that pass, or be of any great use for Police purposes, I finally adopted with the General the following line, namely: six miles North from the Fort of Meeaday—The line to be run in that latitude West to the Arakan hills, and East to the Sitang River and Red Karen territory. This will secure to us all the best country, and, I believe, the best of the Toung-ngoo forests.’1 The envoys were thus faced with a fait accompli. It is all very 1 Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Letter 23, p. 44.

150

THE MAKING OF BURMA

well for an apologist for British policy to write: ‘Thus had Pagan Min’s dilatory tactics caused him to lose not only the fair province of Pegu up to Prome, but in addition a further slice of territory, which made the acquisition of altogether higher value to the conquerors.’ The fact is that Captain Phayre had taken advantage of the situation in Ava and, in spite of Mindon’s declared friend¬ ship for the British, grabbed fifty miles of rich teak territory before the talks began. The Burmese, when they found that an appeal to revoke the Proclamation of Annexation met with no response, then opposed the treaty on the grounds that the boundary now laid down was not in accordance with it. That this was a legitimate complaint is confirmed by the disagreement which General Godwin and Commodore Lambert both expressed during the negotiation, and which was reported by Phayre to Dalhousie: ‘On the Burmese Commissioner referring to the Proclamation of the 20 December 1852, and saying that the boundary, laid down in the treaty, was not in accordance with it, to my great surprise General Godwin openly said it was true that they were not in accordance with each other, and that the Burmese had the best of the argument. He was joined in this by Commodore Lambert. . . d1 Further light on this disagreement appears in General Godwin’s letter home written on the same day: Prome, April 9, 1853.

‘I have only time for a few lines to tell you of the failure of the treaty. Our demands so far exceeded the proclamation that the Burmese Com¬ missioners said that they were ready to conclude a treaty agreeably to our own professions, but that they would not sign away 100 miles of territory above what we had so clearly defined as the limit of our wishes namely, the old Kingdom of Pegu. We had nothing to urge against this, and so the matter has been referred to the Governments of Calcutta and Ummerapoora. The use of the word Pegu was un¬ fortunate ; we should have demanded the cession of the territory we had occupied up to that time. The Woonghee, the first Burmese Com¬ missioner, and Minister of the King, is a shrewd, clever, collected man. For the twentieth time I have again urged, as the only means of settling this war, that to find peace for Pegue, you must go to Ava.’2 When the matter was referred to Calcutta, Lord Dalhousie was quite clear as to the importance to be attached to the frontier. He replied to Captain Phayre that although the Burmese envoy has not a leg to stand upon in reason and fact’, yet the Captain * Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Letter 26, p. 51. 2 General Godzvin’s Letters to His Family.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

151

must ‘give up that “debateable land” if the envoy holds out’.

If, however, he attempts another turn of the screw, and proves to be humbugging altogether, you are not to give in one inch further. The Governor-General added: ‘public opinion is adverse to the war and would strongly, and I think, justly, condemn this Government, if it lost a Treaty merely for the difference between Meeaday and Prome’.1 Dalhousie had never believed that it was good tactics to demand that the King should sign a Treaty. Pressure in London—where Burmese psychology was much less appreciated—forced this policy on him. In the letter just quoted, it is clear that he would have been willing to give up the fifty-mile stretch of territory between Meeaday and Prome which Captain Phayre had so unceremoniously grabbed, if by so doing the King had been will¬ ing to put his signature to a document accepting the annexation of Pegu. ‘I am quite aware that the annexation and occupation of Pegu without a treaty of peace is an anomalous policy in European eyes’, he wrote to his friend, Couper. ‘I knew it would produce ridicule and outcry. But my duty is to do what is best for those I serve. . . . The war was an evil—any conquest was an evil; the occupation and halt in Pegu was an evil, but it was a less evil than going on to Ava, and therefore I adopted it. . . . In the meantime I still hope that we shall get a treaty.’2 Meanwhile, the Burmese envoys stayed one side of the river and Captain Phayre and his colleagues stayed on the other. The Captain was taking the precaution of preparing a list of suitable presents for Mindon’s Queen. She was reputedly of a ‘scientific turn . . and was highly educated after the Burmese fashion’. An English merchant had taught her astronomy in Ava and she could calculate eclipses. So Captain Phayre thought that this thirty-sixyear-old Burmese lady would appreciate telescopes, celestial and terrestial globes, a miscroscope, a sextant, pocket compasses and—a concession to a scientifically minded lady—a singing bird toy. But negotiations between the Captain and the Burmese envoys broke down on 10 May. Dalhousie wrote to Phayre on 21 May: ‘We need not trouble ourselves at present, I apprehend, about presents for the new Queen with such very blue stockings.’3 Mindon was now presented with a memorandum scarcely calculated to encourage the renewal of talks. Yet he was personally so determined to establish good relations with the British, he did 1 Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Letter 27, p. 56. 2 Private Letters of the Marquess of Dalhousie, Baird, pp. 251-2. 3 Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Letter 36, p. 70.

152

THE MAKING OF BURMA

not behave as if it were an ultimatum. The Memorandum arbit¬ rarily laid down: ‘The boundary proposed by the draft of treaty presented to the Burmese Commissioner on the 4th April 1853 having been rejected, the frontier of the British territory is fixed at six miles north of Meeaday. ‘The British Commissioners have been directed by the GovernorGeneral of India in Council to warn the Court of Ava to respect that frontier and to cause it to be respected by Burmese subjects and to cause it to be respected by Burmese subjects for all of whose acts the Court of Ava will be held responsible. ‘The Governor-General of India is sincerely desirous of Peace, but he is also fully prepared for War, and he once more declares that if aggression be renewed he will again put forth the might of the British Government for the execution of measures which can lead to no other result than the total subversion of the Burmese power.’1 The King behaved in a characteristically Burmese manner. He did not accept the memorandum, but he did not retaliate. He called together a Council of the Princes and principal officers of State of the Kingdom, who supported his proposals to allow foreigners to enter or leave the country as they liked, hoping that the British might act reciprocally in their territories, and ordered Burmese frontier officials not to allow any attack on British forces at Meeaday and Toungoo. Mindon seems to have made one last effort to suspend the annexation of Pegu. He summoned up to Shwebo an English merchant, Mr. Spears, who had won his confidence, and put forward a new proposal: ‘It was that he would agree to pay within a fixed period, say two years, any sum which might be mentioned such as he could not possibly pay, and that if the sum be not paid within that time, the whole territory to be forfeited to the British Government. The object, as hinted or avowed in this extraordinary proposal, was for the King to save his honour, and to show that he had done his best to avert the disgrace of separating [«c] Pegu from the Burmese Empire. Or, he said, Pegu proper could be signed away, and the remainder be held on the same terms by the British Government for a fixed time, in case a sum to be named was not paid by him.’2 Mr. Spears thought that any such proposition was ‘totally inadmis¬ sible’, and when he was told about it, Dalhousie described it as ‘nonsense’.3 Although there was no treaty, the war was effectively at an end. 1 India Secret Proceedings, Consultation, 27 May 1853, No. 80. 2 Dalhousie-Ph ay re Correspondence, Letter 51, p. 83. 3 Ibid., Letter 52, p. 85.

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

153

Both Dalhousie and the King wanted to find a modus vivendi. Dalhousie wrote privately: ‘The war in Burma is closed, and peace will be proclaimed on Mon¬ day. . . . The King writes to ask for peace. He announces that he has ordered ‘his governors not to allow anybody to attack Meaday and Toungoo, where the British have put garrisons’ and he has given up all the prisoners, and has asked that the river should again be opened for trade. ‘These requests comprise all the Treaty. They afford no security for peace, but they afford just as much security as a treaty. Our real security is our military power, and I will take care that that is main¬ tained. Of course I have accepted this, and so the war is over.’1 The last meeting with the Burmese envoys was on io May 1853. They refused to sign away territory. Captain Phayre broke off negotiations and delivered a memorandum stating that the frontier of British territory was fixed six miles north of Meeday. The Second Anglo-Burmese War was over. The Times called it a ‘generally inglorious war’. Beginning with a claim on the Burmese for less than £1,000, it ended with the occupation of Pegu at a cost of about £1 million to the British exchequer. For Burma it was the beginning of the end of her independence as a sovereign power. Henceforth, as a Burmese writer put it, ‘she could reach the world only by the sufferance of the British. The remaining years of the kingdom were a lease of life.’2 1 Private Letters of the Marquess of Dalhousie, p. 259. 2 Burma in the family of Nations, by Dr. Maung Maung, p. 44.

CHAPTER VIII

Pegu and Ava

I

little more than a quarter of a century, Britain had added Assam, Manipur, Tenasserim, Moulmein, Martaban and Rangoon to her Asian possessions. From the Persian Gulf to Sumatra, as Dautremer described it, Britain was ‘absolute mis¬ tress’. ‘What did it matter’, he asked, ‘that there was left in the interior of Burma, on the upper waters of the Irrawaddy, a piousminded King, who was wrapped up in his white elephants and his Buddhistic books, and who wanted nothing more than to be left at peace in the new capital which he had built himself and called Mandalay.’1 It was a rhetorical question and certainly not a correct evaluation of Mindon. And it did not allow for the existence of leading business firms which regarded Upper Burma as the shortest cut to the riches of Yunnan and a large market for the industrial goods of Lancashire and Yorkshire. On both sides, those who were responsible for policy did not want a renewal of hostilities. Mindon was unwilling to sign a treaty, but he was perfectly willing to develop friendly relations with Britain provided the sovereignty of his reduced country was not violated. In Amarapura, in Calcutta and in Rangoon some British people behaved as if hostilities had not ended. Captain Phayre, the very level-headed first Commissioner of Pegu, did not believe rumours spread by merchants and missionaries that Burma was preparing for war. He was closely in touch with events in Ava through a sober Scotchman, Thomas Spears, whom Dalhousie had agreed should act as unofficial representative. Spears had spent fifteen years in Burma, selling cloth, piece goods and silks. He-had been imprisoned by Pagan Min and then released by Mindon Min, who charged him to deliver a letter to the GovernorGeneral proposing the reopening of talks. His appointment was an extremely important one, since from December 1853 until 1861 he was the main channel of information in Amarapura, and in Mandalay, when the King changed his capital. He often acted as a go-between.. He was, in fact, an agent, though he held no official post. He did not conceal the fact that he corresponded with N

1 Burma under British Rule, by J. Dautremer, Fisher Unwin, 1913, p. 65.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

IS5

the Commissioner, and Mindon Min knew that he received pay¬ ment from the Governor-General, although he was ostensibly a business-man. It was a shrewd appointment, and Spears was clearly an intelligent and likeable man who could transmit messages from the King to the Governor-General or from British authorities to the King without the formality or, for that matter, the official commitments of either party. The Governor-General called him ‘a very safe and sensible and judicious correspondent’ and con¬ sidered his letters of such importance and reliability that he circulated them to the Council, and often acted on their advice. It was Spears who convinced the Governor-General that Mindon Min had no intention of making war, that he wanted trade and friendly relations. At the same time he would not lose any oppor¬ tunity to advocate the return of Pegu. On one occasion—in January 1854—when business-men in Rangoon and frontier officials were spreading rumours of war, Mindon Min sent a message through Spears to Commissioner Phayre: ‘His Majesty says that he has heard from various parties lately arrived from Rangoon, that a number of people had been circulating reports down there to the effect that the Burmese were actually prepared to march into the British territories with a large force. The King requests that you will take no notice of such foolish rumours, as if he should wish to go to war with the English, a thing he has never done yet, as you well know, he will send them notice in due form.’1 In the same letter Spears reported an audience with the King when only two other people were present (an Italian Priest, Father Abbona, an old friend of the King and a Portuguese, Camaretta, an official of the Court): ‘His Majesty says he cannot consent to sign a treaty on the terms now offered by the British Government, as he considers those terms unjust, and if acceded to by him would reflect the greatest dishonour on his name. . . . ‘His Majesty also spoke about the boundary line, which he has heard it is your intention to draw 3 taings above Meeaday. This boundary the King says he cannot recognise, as in the first place he has never been consulted in the matter at all, and again that it would include far more territory than was even asked for from him by the British, when the Woongyee was at Prome, in the beginning of last year. Altho’ the King says he cannot recognise the boundary as at present proposed to be drawn by the English, he has sent no orders to his people down there to oppose them in any way, and he hopes that if any collision should 1 Thomas Spears to Captain Phayre, Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Hall, Letter 82, pp. 124-5.

I56

THE MAKING OF BURMA

take place out of that affair, the English will, without taking further steps of a hostile nature, refer the matter up to him, as he is anxious to con¬ tinue on the most friendly terms with them.’1 The Governor-General stood firmly on the subject of Meeaday. ‘The boundary at Meeaday, of course, must stand where it was laid down, and where I in person declared it to stand. It must also be carried up to the top of the hill on the west side of the river, where we saw our flag flying.’ But after this point, he was willing to meet the King’s wishes about Mengdoon, ‘provided always that there are no serious military objections’. On this Phayre replied: ‘The Mendoon district extends Eastward to about half¬ way between the Irrawaddy and the Arakan Mountains. I know of no serious objection, military or otherwise, to restoring this tract to the Burmese. ... By getting back Mendoon he [the King] will be able to save his credit, and this certainly should make him ready to do as your Lordship directs.’ Mindon Min now decided to send envoys to Calcutta. Dalhousie informed Phayre that he must insist before they left Rangoon ‘that as regards Mengdoon it is “now or never”; that if they will treat on the terms I specified to you, the King shall have Mengdoon. If it is not done now, the British Government will not hereafter entertain the question’2 (3 August 1854). A month later the King asked whether Spears thought the Governor-General ‘would be angry if the envoy was to ask back Pegu, on condition that the expenses of the war was paid’? Spears replied that whether or not Dalhousie would be angry he did not know, but that he was certain the answer would be ‘No’ and that no useful purpose would be served in putting forward the suggestion. ‘Well’, replied Mindon, ‘should the Governor-General get angry, my Ambassador will have instructions to withdraw all demands, as I have not sent him round to Calcutta for the purpose of quarrelling, but that by an interchange of presents—which by my subjects will be looked upon as a sure sign that all differences have ceased to exist—promote a friendly intercourse between the two countries. The question of Mendoon was again raised. The King agreed, that in the event of it being restored, he would send down Commissioners to mark out that part of the boundary with Commissioners appointed by the British.3 The mission from Mindon was a high-powered mission. It

1 Dalhousie-Phay re Correspondence, Hall, Letter 82, pp. 124-5. - Letter from Dalhousie to Phayre, Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Hall Letter 135, p. 209. ’ ’ 3 Ibid., Letter 158, p. 246.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

*57 carried presents in 140 boxes, which required 300 coolies and several boats to land. They were treated with great courtesy in Calcutta—a significant change from the behaviour towards a mission sent some twenty years earlier. On the eve of their depar¬ ture, they asked for a private interview with Lord Dalhousie. Fortunately, we have his own account of what happened: ‘Governor-General: I wish to know, Major Phayre, whether the only object of the deputation of the Envoys by H.M. the King of Ava was the delivery of the friendly letter which they brought or whether they were furnished with powers to negotiate any Treaty? ‘Major Phayre: The Envoys have this morning written a few words which they desire to have explained to your Lordship. ‘Governor-General: I shall be happy to listen to any representation which the Envoys desire to make. ‘A paper was then produced by the Woondouk Maha Meng Deng Meng Gyou and read out passage by passage, each passage being inter¬ preted by Major Phayre. The substance of the document was as follows: ‘By reason of the friendship which existed of old between the British Government and His Majesty’s ancestors, we have been deputed with a letter and presents to your Lordship. The War, which unhappily interrupted the amicable relations between the two States, originated in very trifling circumstances and is to be deeply regretted. Now Peace has been restored and His Majesty is anxious for its continuance. But it is the custom of all Governments that on the return of Peace things should be restored to the position they were in before the commencement of war. We represent therefore that the villages and lands which have been occupied by the British Government may now be restored to H.M. the King of Ava. We trust that if we be entrusted with a reply to the letter which we have delivered to the Most Noble the Governor General, we may be made acquainted with its contents.’1

The Governor-General asked whether this meant that the restoration of territories was ‘a condition of the continuance of peace’? ‘No, my Lord,’ replied Major Phayre, ‘the envoys merely explain that it is the custom of States on the return of peace to restore things to the footing on which they stood before Peace was disturbed.’ ‘Then, Major Phayre,’ said the Governor-General, ‘you will be good enough to inform the envoys that I am to reply to their representation distinctly and frankly.’ ‘The war was not commenced by the British Government. It was com¬ menced by the King of Ava. ‘The occupation of territory that followed the cessation of war was forced upon us by a regard for our own security and our own interests. 1 India Secret Proceedings, 26 January 1855, Consultation No. 36.

THE MAKING OF BURMA

158

‘You may tell the Envoys that so long as the sun shines, which they see, those territories will never be restored to the Kingdom of Ava. ‘The King of Ava has sent me a friendly letter, and I will cause a reply ... to be addressed to His Majesty. ‘I will do more than this. The King of Ava has shewn his confidence in the British Government by withdrawing a portion of his Troops from the frontier. I entirely reciprocate this confidence, and will as soon as may be possible recall some of our troops from the Frontier in like manner. I have already made known to the Envoys that at the proper season of the year an Embassy will be sent on the part of the Government of India with a letter and presents to the King of Ava and I trust that His Majesty in the wisdom which he has shown on many occasions will seize that opportunity to confirm by a formal Treaty the professions of friendship which are expressed in the letter the Envoys have brought. ‘I myself have full confidence in the good and amicable intentions of His Majesty, but there are those who do not feel satisfied and secure without a formal Treaty, and there are among ourselves here many merchants who may be deterred from pursuing a trade with the King¬ dom of Ava by the consideration that no such engagement has been executed.’ The Mengyee answered: ‘The quarrel which led to the war arose in the time of the late King now deposed. He was hostile. His present Majesty is friendly and is anxious for the continuance of amicable relations.’ The Governor-General: ‘Tell the Envoys that we did not go to war with the King, but with the Nation. Nations war with Nations; not individuals with individuals.’ The Woundauk: ‘The present King of Ava is friendly to the British Government. It is the custom of States on the restoration of Peace to give proof of a desire for its continuance and of friendly sentiments by some concession.’ The Governor-General’s last words were: What is past is past. The declarations which were made at the termina¬ tion of the war are fixed and irrevocable.’1 In spite of this last interview, the Burmese mission had been impressed by their treatment in Calcutta. Spears believed that the request had to be made, and that if the Governor-General showed displeasure it was not to be insisted on. But Lord Dalhousie, still thinking of the treaty, said that even the cession of Mengdoon 1 India Secret Proceedings, 26 January 1855, Consultation No. 36.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

*59 was ruled out. He wanted a treaty in black and white and he now sent a mission to Ava to discuss it. The mission to Ava was composed of experts: Dr. John Forsyth to obtain information ‘regarding the climate, the sanitary character, and the natural productions of the Country’; Major Grant Allan ‘to gather information and to make valuable observation for the Government on all military questions connected with Burma and the route to the capital’; Captain Rennie to investigate the Irrawaddy above Myedel and changes in its course since 1826; Professor Oldham, Superintendent of the Geological Survey of India, to discover ‘what are the existing and available mineral resources of Burmah, and especially what is the quantity; the quality and commercial value of the coal beds ... in the neigh¬ bourhood of Ava; Mr Colesworthy Grant, an artist, who could reproduce the features of the country and portraits of the people and cities; Captain Linnaeus Tripe, a photographer, who could satisfy the King’s curiosity about producing ‘sun pictures’ Captain Henry Yule was chosen Secretary. He was Deputy Secretary to the Public Works Department of the Government of India and an expert on fortifications. But the interest of this appointment lay in the fact that he was a brilliant Oriental scholar. His record of the Mission is a sensitively written and valuable document. It was well produced in 1862 and illustrated with sketches made by Colesworthy Grant. The originals may still be seen in the India Office Library. Dalhousie described the mission as ‘so agreeable’ and ‘so interesting’ that he had often wished he could go himself as a ‘counterfeit attache’. Phayre’s own diary of his Mission has been transcribed from official documents by Dr. D. G. E. Hall in the Journal of the Burma Research Society. The Mission stayed in Amarapura from the end of August 1855 until 21 October. A few extracts from Yule’s account show the friendly relations between the King and those who had so recently been his enemy: p. 193: ‘. . . The King is, without doubt, a remarkable man for a Burman; but rather in moral than in intellectual character, though his intelligence also, is above the average. ... He is, in fact, as far as we can judge, a man of conscience and principle. The very monopolies of trade which he has established in his own behalf have been created with the intention (however shortsighted) of securing a revenue without the infliction of taxation on his people. And if there is any extravagence in his expenditure, it shows itself rather in the liberality of his gifts than in selfish indulgence.’ pp. 193-4: ‘There can be no doubt of his personal popularity. The

i6o

THE MAKING OF BURMA

people speak in terms of admiration of his good qualities, and uniformly, and with apparent sincerity, declare that they never had a King so just and so beneficient. The contrast with what they have known hereto¬ fore, by experience or by tradition, must be powerful. ‘He is too sagacious to suppose, that he can stand against the British power, and, as long as he lives and reigns, peace will probably be maintained. But he does not the less continue to hanker after the pro¬ vince he has lost and to listen eagerly to reports which hold out a chance, however vague or distant, of his being able one day to recover it through some disaster to the British power.’1 Mindon did not change his mind on a treaty. On 16 October Phayre writes: ‘I received from him [the Wongyee] a definite refusal of a treaty with a short written document. . . . The ground taken by the Ministers today was entirely changed. Till now, they had only urged that the treaty should not be executed in a hurry. Now they declined it altogether as contrary to Burman custom. We had some further discussion on the subject, and of the inconveniences which might result from the non-conclusion of the treaty, but the new parrot cry of “Contrary to Custom” was the only reply or argument from these Burmese Ministers.’2 Lord Dalhousie did not consider the Mission a failure. ‘I for my part’, he wrote, ‘am entirely content with the results of the Mission, and I desire to record my firm conviction, that peace with Burma is to the full as secure as any written Treaty could have made it.’3 Thus, no treaty ended the Second Ajnglo-Burmese War. A boundary was arbitrarily laid down by British proclamation from Fort William on 30 June 1853. was never officially notified, but it was locally recognized. The King could say that he had never signed away any Burmese territory. The British got more or less what they wanted. The main architect of the frontier between Pegu and Ava was Major Allan, who, by 14 September 1854, was able to send to Commissioner Phayre three maps showing the positions of bound¬ ary pillars from the mountains of Arakan to the Sittang River; the route traversed from Prome to Toungoo; the return to Meeaday; the route from Toungoo to Mariban the frontier village on the Sittang. And he enclosed the first Field Book of Pegu with routes described in the minutest detail. Major Allan’s work was so ably done that it won the warmest praise from Dalhousie. He called it 1 Narrative of the Mission to the Court of Ava, by Sir Henry Yule; published, 1862. 2 India Secret and Political Proceedings, 25 January, 1856, Consultation No. 7. 3 Minute by Dalhousie, 13 December I°5S» ibid., 25 January 1856.

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

161

‘workmanlike’, ‘clear-sighted’, ‘true in its large views’, and ‘of a professional character’, and he added that this survey ‘entirely corroborated the conviction which was formed and expressed by the Government of India, of the eligibility and defensible character of the frontier it had selected for the Province of Pegu’.1 There were inevitably disputes along the frontier, and British troops who marked it out did not always have a peaceful life. Further, troops were able to extend British territory, specially in the Karen areas. Mr. R. R. Langham-Carter, after investigating old reports and listening to the descendants of eye-witnesses of the boundary marking wrote: ‘An actual line was cut in the turf along the boundary, and white masonry pillars were erected at distances of from two to ten miles, with police outposts at intervals. The Burmese threw down some of these pillars, while others were destroyed by jungle growth, but some remain to the present day. Sir Arthur Phayre, the Chief Commissioner of British Burma, inspected them when he made a tour along the frontier in April 1855. There were no pillars east of the Sittang for “the Yimbaws and Padoungs” who dwelt in the hills were supposed to be fierce tribesmen who had never acknowledged Burmese suzerainty and would object equally to the British. Subsequently missionaries from Toungoo found the hillmen less savage than they had expected, and British influence extended to the north of what was really the frontier into the small thinly-populated Karen State of Alegyaung-Bawgata.’2 From time to time, British officers made reconnaissance tours, travelling for miles beyond what was supposed to be the frontier. Take the case of Captain O’Riley who was based on Toungoo and visited Karen chiefs, presenting them with bayonets, ammu¬ nition, muskets and coloured cloths. He reported to Commissioner Phayre: ‘With the view of conciliating these tribes of Karens whose fears have been excited by the proximity of the Burmese, whom they justly regarded as tyrants and oppressors, I avoided all show of a warlike nature, taking with me only five armed Burmese from this place and by a distribution of trifling articles in the shape of beads, handkerchief etc., and paying them for all assistance afforded me, I gained their goodwill, dissipated their fears of oppression from us, and established a friendly understanding that I trust will have a beneficial effect in our relations with them for the future.’3 1 India Secret Consultations, Vol. 188, 1854. Consultation No. 38, 29 Dec¬ ember 1854. 2 Article by R. R. Langham-Carter, ‘Burmese Rule on the Toungoo Frontier’, Journal of the Burma Research Society, April 19373 India Secret Consultations, Vol. 191, 1855. Consultation No. 3,27 April 1855.

162

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

Captain O’Riley described range after range of mountains he crossed with scarcely a level space for days. It was this inaccessi¬ bility which he believed was the reason for Karen independence. Only on rare occasions, he noted, when they went down to Toungoo to buy salt did they ‘evince their allegiance by a few presents of their native produce to the higher officials of the city’. They practically never paid any taxes. He did not find them very friendly. They were usually suspicious and he was often conscious that they deliberately told him untruths to put him off the scent. He thought that if this area was opened up by roads, ‘not only would a rapid progress in the civilization of these tribes follow, but much mineral wealth would become developed’ and all sorts of veget¬ ables and drugs of commercial value be made available. Further, here was an area with a good climate ‘salubrious and restorative to the European constitution’. He made a strong case for putting the boundary of Toungoo east of this desirable valley. He prepared the way by persuading some of the Karen chiefs that British rule would be good for them. Commissioner Phayre was impressed by O’Riley’s activities. But Dalhousie deprecated any efforts to extend the frontier beyond the spot which Major Allan had laid down, because he wrote that it was ‘never the intention of the Government to assert a right of conquest or of sovereignty over these independent tribes. And as it was not the intention of the Government to assert any such rights over Karennee when Pegu was declared to be a British Province, I conceive that it should be the policy of the Government to abstain from endeavouring or consenting to acquire such rights over Karennee now.’ . . . If, however, the course of events hereafter should be calculated to indicate any ambition in the Court of Ava to obtain possession of the Karennee country, I think it would be right that the Government of India should interpose to defeat that object for altho’ the Karennee country would be of no value to us, the occupation by the Burmese of a territory running for some distance on our frontier would be open to great objection.’1 In other words, Dalhousie was anxious to keep the Karenne country a ‘no-man’s-land’, unless and until the King of Ava showed greater interest in the area. And apart from mutually recognized changes of a small area in the country of the Karens, the frontier laid down by British Proclamation on ao Tune 18C2 remained until the Third Anglo-Burmese War. JJndia Secret Consultations, Vol. I93) 1855. Consultation No. 25, September

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

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When British troops took possession of the country many Burmese officials in Pegu escaped to Upper Burma, and many others went into the jungle to form resistant groups. The Province of Pegu was not effectively pacified until three years after the war had ended. Resistance was spasmodic and from the few accounts that can be found in British official documents, it seems to have been thinly spread over a wide area. But the detailed story of this period is still one of the many unexplored fields of Burmese history. The more outstanding examples of resistance can be read in official reports. Like all stories of resistance, they are confused by such words as ‘dacoits’—the word ‘terrorist’ had not yet been established in the vocabulary of resistance. Occasionally, however, an incident occurred which suddenly focused a spotlight on an individual or on a particular area. One such example is that of Myat-Htoon, for whose head Commissioner Phayre offered a reward. Lord Ellenborough, who fought a lone battle in the House of Lords, put down a question on the subject, and Dalhousie asked Phayre for an explanation. The Commissioner replied: ‘. . . I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter . . . relative to the statement made in the House of Lords, on the 6th of June last, by the Earl of Ellenborough that a reward had been offered by my authority for the Head of Myat-Htoon, and a town containing 3000 inhabitants had been burnt. ‘I feel grateful for the assurance conveyed to me in your letter under reply, that the Most Noble the Governor-General in Council is aware there was a foundation for the first part of the above allegation. ‘No such reward was ever offered, and I would lose all self respect if I deemed myself capable of such an act. I did offer a reward for the capture of Myat-Htoon, and I did so on the following grounds. ‘That person held for some years past under the Burmese Govern¬ ment the office of Pameng, or steersman of one of the Royal war-boats. By virtue of that office, he was in civil charge of a Circle, the district of Danchen, named Tha-Byoo. For the last ten or fifteen years he has been a turbulent character, constantly refusing to pay his quota of taxes to the Myothoogye of Danchen by whom he has more than once been denounced as a rebel and and outlaw, but by making valuable presents he managed to secure powerful influence at Court and was pardoned. The man’s character was always that of a desperado, and on the first occupation of the Province by the British forces, he took advantage of the confusion into which the country was thrown to advance his own interests. The Province of Pegu was annexed to the British territories on the 20th December 1852. Both previous and sub¬ sequent to that time Myat-Htoon had invariably pursued the same course of plunder. He, by dint of terror, drove off all the inhabitants of

164

THE MAKING OF BURMA

the Danchen district from their homes, and forced them to live within the Forest Tracts, whence he was at last driven out by the forces under Brigadier-General Sir J. Cheape. This was on the 19th of March 1853. From December Myat-Htoon had been ravaging the country, and coercing the inhabitants though the Province had become British territory; the Sovereign by whose authority alone he could profess to act had been dethroned (10th February 1853) and that Sovereign’s successor had opened negotiations for Peace with the British Com¬ missioner, acknowledging at once that the late King was to blame for the war and that he desired Peace. Under all the circumstances I should have deemed myself guilty of a gross dereliction of duty had I failed to regard Myat-Htoon as any other than what the whole Burmese people of the country called him, namely “Robber and Chief”. These were the circumstances under which I offered a reward for the apprehension of that man.’1 On the question of the burning down of the village, the Com¬ missioner wrote to Dalhousie in the same report: ‘The only town I know of having been burnt down, was the stronghold of Myat-Htoon’s in which Sir J. Cheape in his despatch dated the 25th March 1853 estimated there were from 10 to 20,000 people; and after the fall of Myat-Htoon they “began to come in”. That is they were rescued by the British troops from the thraldom in which they had been held by that Robber Chief; and they now (still to use the words of Sir J. Cheape) began to move off with such property as they had, in boats. The stronghold it was determined to burn, and notice was given to that effect. It caught fire accidentally and was burnt to the ground. This is the only town which can possibly be referred to, and the houses had been the abodes of Myat-Htoon with his band of ruffians. They kept a large population under restraint, the women and children being held as security for the men. No fire rendered those captives destitute when the reign of terror was over they fled to their own homes.’2 This story shows how difficult it is to establish the facts of resistance to foreign rule. Lord Ellenborough’s question in the House of Lords proved that where there was smoke there was fire. Commissioner Phayre had not offered the reward for the head, but. for the apprehension of this resistance leader. A town was scheduled to be destroyed, but it caught on fire accidentally and the leader s stronghold was thus burnt out. More light was thrown on the character of this guerrilla leader by the Deputy Commissioner of Sarawah, who sent his biography to Commissioner Phayre, who passed it on to the GovernorGeneral on 7 September 1853. By this time, of course, Lord l S SeCret Consultations, Vol. 4, 1853. Consultation 30 September 1853.

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Ellenborough’s question had been answered in the House of Lords, and Myat-Htoon had been put on record as a dacoit and a terrorist. But Captain J. Smith’s account, published as an Appen¬ dix to this chapter, presents a different picture. This account is personal, honest and unbiased. It gives a vivid impression of the guerrilla leader’s courage and ruthlessness. Dalhousie himself said that it would not do to treat him ‘as a dacoit or as a robber, and to deal with him criminally’. In a private letter to Phayre, he described Myat-Htoon. ‘A man’, he wrote, ‘who had 4,000 men under him, who repulses three British attacks, and after a very stout defence is finally routed only by a Brigadier-General, after a month’s operations, and with severe loss to us, must be regarded as a chief and a Soldier—and a good one too.’1 Reports of administration in the first three years after Pegu was occupied reveal typical guerrilla conditions. Events were exagger¬ ated or underplayed, according to the reporter. Monasteries were often described as ready to accommodate men. Informants were made prisoner. Local officials were retained in posts even though their loyalty was suspect because their removal might lay the ‘area open to insurgents’. Depositions were obtained by men who had overheard discussion of how to attack the British. Reports were made of people who were found in the possession of arms. When the rains ceased in Upper Pegu, Phayre described to Dalhousie (10 September 1853) how plans were being drawn up ‘to put down the opposition which has been organized by a few Burmese chiefs, to the introduction of British rule. . . . Under the orders of these Chiefs, plunder, burning of villages, and attacks both on the shore and on the rivers in which lives have been lost, have been very numerous, upon those of the inhabitants who adhered faithfully to British rule or those who were engaged in traffic.’ ‘I think then’, Phayre continued, ‘that I should have the power of trying summarily all persons who may be found with arms in their hands, within the Districts of Sarawah and Prome, opposing British authori¬ ties civil or military, and be empowered to carry out a sentence of Death in such cases upon those Persons whom I consider it necessary to make an immediate example of.’2 Phayre received this authority. ‘I think it quite essential that the Commissioner should be entrusted with the special powers he 1 Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Letter 28, p. 57. 2 India Secret Consultations, Vol. 4, 1853. Consultation No. 19, 30 September 1853-

166

THE MAKING OF BURMA

asks for’, Dalhousie wrote in a minute, and the members of the Council wrote one after the other: ‘I concur.’ Another example of a guerrilla leader is Maung Bo. Before the annexation of Pegu, he was Burmese Governor of Myede. When the frontier was arbitarily laid down to include this town¬ ship in British territory, he did not accept foreign rule. He moved over into a township called Malun, where he became Governor. Operating from Malun, he was able to make the lives difficult of those who collaborated with the British and to give leadership to those who resisted. Phayre reported that during 1854 and the first few months of 1855, he had ‘forced’ 2,000 families to leave the British side of the frontier and to go over to his. The story may look quite different when we have access to the Burmese records of this period. Malun was one of those frontier towns where guerrilla activities were the most likely. Maung Bo clearly had a following—men who were willing to go backwards and forwards over the frontier challenging British officers who were busy erecting pillars along an arbitrarily decided line. One of these border disputes occurred when Commissioner Phayre was visiting the frontier with Major Allan. The British were trying to include controversial Karen villages within their territory. Maung Bo had ordered the people to leave, and when they were unwilling he drove them away— according to Phayre’s version. Phayre was so angry that he wrote off at once to Dalhousie suggesting that a letter and presents which the Governor-General was about to send to the King should be withdrawn, that a British officer should be deputed to go among the people and induce them to return and that the guerrilla leaders should be removed from the frontier. As Dr. Hall points out in his Introduction to The Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Phayre lost his head on this occasion and suggested ‘a course of action as would have rendered an early resumption of war inevitable’. alhousie far-sightedly saw the repercussions of such action and in a minute (24 May 1855) he wrote at length about the con¬ tinuous border skirmishes: . . . while it is in my opinion impracticable for the Burmese to continue attacks in force, a predatory frontier skirmish we have ample means of meeting. Being met, and the villages aiding as they will do with con¬ fidence when supported lam inclined to believe that it would very soon cease. But if it did not it is my firm conviction that half a century of such forays would be infinitely preferable to the occupation of Burmah. . . . 1 ® Kmg of Ava may.justlY be required to restrain his servants and subjects from committing outrage upon our frontier. But the King

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

167

of Ava, on his part, has a just right to expect that we shall take all reasonable precautions for the defence of our subjects there and for protecting them from ordinary violence, which may be committed by subjects of his, contrary to his orders and at a distance from his control. ‘We must needs confess that such precautions have been wholly neglected by us.’1 The end of Mating Bo provides an interesting commentary on Mindon’s policy. He was called to Ava to give an ‘account of his trust’. Thomas Spears saw him in Amarapura in January 1855 and wrote to Phayre: ‘Mong Bo, Governor of Maloon, the man who has been giving so much trouble on the frontier, arrived here six days ago. I saw him the other day at the Kyouk Maw Woongee’s house, where I had some talk with him, and certainly from his appearance and conversation I would not have supposed him to be a man of the bad character he had by his acts proved himself to be. But appearances are sometimes deceitful. Within the last three days numerous petitions have been received from Maloon and other places, formerly under his charge, accusing him of having levied, a short time before he left for this, large sums of money on false pretences. Although Mong Bo is a man of sixty, he does not look much above fifty and upon the whole has a rather prepossessing appearance.’2 In February Maung Bo lost his job as Governor of Malun. Whether this was because the King was convinced of his inability as a Governor, or whether he was also impressed by Thomas Spears’ reports of his frontier activities, we do not know. But in May 1855 Thomas Spears wrote to Phayre that Maung Bo and others were to be brought up as prisoners. ‘I feel assured’, Spears wrote, ‘that no more outrages of the nature of the one com¬ plained of now will again take place on the frontier’, and added that the King would do his best to put down any future incidents of this nature. One other example can be given of a guerrilla leader—in the Tharawaddy district. Moung Khoung Gyee was Governor of Tharawaddy before the annexation of Pegu. He was never pre¬ pared to accept foreign rule. At the beginning of 1853, Phayre reported to Dalhousie that Khoung Gyee had ‘escaped to the hills’, but that the country was settling down. But in July British boats on the Irrawaddy were being intercepted by Khoung Gyee’s men. Captain Smith burned down several villages as retaliation and was reprimanded by Dalhousie, who said that this was ‘at 1 India Secret Consultations, Vol. 2, 1855, Vol. 191. Consultation No. 35, 29 June 1855. 2 Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Letter 192, p. 294.

i68

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

variance with the policy of the British Government’. At this point the guerrilla leader was so powerful that Phayre believed only a march into Tharawaddy would defeat him. He decided to wait until the end of the rains, and then ‘to hunt him out’. In December Phayre believed that he had scotched a plot to capture the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, set fire to the Government buildings, plunder the Treasury and murder all Europeans in Rangoon and he sus¬ pected that Khoung Gyee was one of its leaders. Phayre went off to Tapoon in March, and found that all villages around had been burnt and the people driven out by Khoung Gyee. A plan was made for two separate columns to attack Khoung Gyee’s depots, which were established about thirty to forty miles north-east of Tapoon, towards the hills. Phayre clearly thought that this plan should have been adopted earlier, but the officer in charge at Tapoon said that it was not practicable ■—Khoung Gyee had nearly all the heads of villages with him, and no one dare complain or give information. Phayre took the matter in hand energetically. Khoung Gyee was hunted up to the edge of the Pegu Yoma in January 1854 and only just escaped capture. When the cold-weather season started in August that year, military operations were started on a considerable scale. Gradually Khoung Gyee’s followers deserted him. Dalhousie wrote astringently to Phayre: ‘The symptoms from Tharawaddy and the surrender of the Chief’s are very satisfactory. Rats desert a falling house in Pegu as well as in Parliament Street; and I regard these “comings in” as an indication of Khoung Gyee s approaching downfall.’1 ^i°y/fVer’ t^e §uerri^a leader of Tharawaddy was not defeated until March 1855, when two officers D’Oyly and Brown system¬ atically surrounded him. They never captured him, and the end of his story may only be known when a Burmese historian dis¬ covers it from local records. Similarly, we shall have to wait for a Burmese historian to tell us how far resistance was encouraged or assisted by the Court, ihomas Spears, who was in Ava until he died in 1861, was on very rien y terms with King Mindon, and occasionally he referred to guerrilla leaders in his letters to Phayre. For example, n January 1854

when the British authorities were operating

withM^d011118 mTg Gyeu’ hC t0ld Phayre that a Element wav H, hl CaSler if this man were out of the way. He had asked for help from Ava, but Phayre said that he had

tfT Td1? 1

Dalhousie-Phayre Correspondence, Letter 139, p. 218.

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

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received none, either in men, arms or money. About the same time he wrote this about the King: ‘His Majesty disclaims any connection with the bands of robbers now said to be infesting the country below Prome, and to show that he is sincere in his assertion should any of these robbers take refuge in his territories, after having committed depredations in the territories held by the British, he will, sufficient proof being given, see that they are punished in the severest manner, and as there should be reciprocity in all things, His Majesty hopes that you will do the same with all robbers and other bad characters, that may after having committed depredation in his Kingdom, take refuge with you.’1 Spears believed that the King was sincere. Dalhousie, whose main source of information was Spears, may not have been com¬ pletely convinced, but he acted on the assumption of sincerity. Mindon never recognized the boundary between Pegu and Ava, and maintained his belief that the British had tricked him in placing the frontier three miles north of Myede. But he told his people not to oppose British officers who were marking out the frontier. He had complete control of the situation. He dominated his Ministers. His brother welcomed organized resistance to the British and showed his sympathies were with Myat-Htoon, Maung Bo and Khoung Gyee. He entertained ideas of renewing the war with Britain, but his enthusiasm was tempered by Mindon, and much that he said was bravado. Had a lesser King than Mindon ruled at Ava, the history of Burma would have had a different time sequence, and British forces might have occupied Upper Burma thirty years earlier. Mindon was willing to establish a modus vivendi. He knew the difficulties of co-operation. He felt, as he one day told Father Abbona, ‘as if in prison’ and he hoped that he might be allowed the port of Bassein, ‘either territorially or so that he might have free and unrestrained intercourse by that Port with the rest of the world’. If he were given this concession, he said that he would be willing to allow English steamers to ply up the Irrawaddy as far as Bhamo. And this was as far as he allowed the Chinese on their ten-yearly visit. There is no full-length study of Mindon, not even in the Burmese language. A Burmese biography might throw light on such unlit aspects of his policy as Burmese relations with China. In the meantime this period of Burmese history is on record primarily through the reports of men like Spears and Father 1 India Secret Consultations, Vol. 186, 1854. Consultation No. 8, 31 March 1854.

170

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Abbona. Spears’ despatches were personal and perceptive and Dalhousie increasingly accepted them as wise in their judgement and counsel. Spears, as his letters show, was convinced of Mindon’s friendliness towards the British, and Dalhousie was pre¬ pared to take the risk of assuming it was genuine. Everything in Dalhousie’s training and temperament indicated the need for signing on the dotted line, and for a specific treaty with Mindon. Spears convinced him that this was not the way Mindon thought. From long experience of the Burmese and perhaps from his own personal life, as he had married a Burmese lady, he was sure that this was not the Burmese way of looking at life. Mutual trust between Mindon and Spears was an important factor in the relations between Pegu and Ava.

CHAPTER IX

All Roads lead to China

T

o the commercial interests in Britain the immediate importance of Burma was not in its riches, for they were largely unknown, but in its geographical position of a bridge with China. ‘I need not descant upon the great importance to England and to India of opening up a trade with the south-west frontier of China for British and Indian goods and Chinese products’, Dr. Richardson had said in 1835. Between then and the period covered by this chapter the Treaty of Nanking in 1846 had forced open Chinese ports, and British commercial interests were as excited by the prospect of millions of customers for the industrial products of Lancashire and Yorkshire as American firms were about a century later. Sheffield firms sent out knives and forks, in which the Chinese showed little interest: they had to be sold as junk in Hong Kong. A London firm of piano manufacturers argued that as China had 200 million women, there would be at least one in every 200 who would want to learn the piano. ‘The Chinese’, The Times special correspondent wrote, ‘remained faithful to their gongs and trumpets and refused all hospitality to this intrusive flight of squares, uprights and horizontals.’ So the pianos were also dumped in Hong Kong and the consignees insisted that every European resident should buy one. They soon went damp, so the musical standards of Hong Kong were not improved. At the end of the commercial year 1854, the balance of trade between China and Great Britain was estimated at £2 million sterling against China. Exports to Great Britain soon increased. There seemed to be no limit to Chinese silks. The question now was whether Burma could be the bridge between India and the potential trade of China’s interior. Two of the most enthusiastic advocates of trade with western China were Captain Richard Sprye and Mr. R. H. F. Sprye. Captain Sprye had served in the Madras Army in the First AngloBurmese War and was then employed on survey work in Tenasserim. There was very little knowledge of the back door into China through Upper Burma. The Spryes (father and son) complained,

172

THE MAKING OF BURMA

in an address to the Royal Geographical Society, that people were so ignorant that their scheme was attacked as involving the conveyance of merchandise ‘to and from between Rangoon and Western China by carrying it up and across the snowy ranges of Tibet in the far North, or over wild mountain ranges very near to them’. Others said that it meant going over Tanen-Tounghee ranges on the Siamese frontier, which British officials had shown were 8,000 to 14,000 ft. high. Yet others said that it meant going south from Rangoon across the Kra Isthmus to Bangkok, and then by land to the south-west Chinese frontier. Even in official circles, people had vague ideas. The two Spryes first addressed H.M.’s Ministers in 1852, ‘soliciting their attention to the rich field which existed, generally, in Eastern Asia, for the peaceful and profitable extension of the foreign trade of the United Kingdom; but more especially as regarded Burma and Ava, Siam, the West of China and Japan At that time—this was before the annexation of Pegu—they were met with scepticism. In 1858, after the occupation, they returned to their campaign, advocating ‘the construction of a cheap single line of railway for commerce, from H.M.’s new port of Rangoon on the east of the Bay of Bengal to the north-east of the now British-Indian provinces of Pegu and Martaban; and thence, across the two south-eastern Shan States of Ava or Burma, on to the most eligible point of the Meikong or upper Kamboja river, near to where it issues from the Chinese Yunan province, navig¬ able, even in the dry season for deeply laden junks’ ‘The King of Ava s consent to this railway’, these enthusiasts wrote, ‘and the cordial co-operation of his Government in its construction and maintenance , they would demonstrate as ‘readily attainable, if sought in the manner’ they suggested that it should be. The Foreign Office did not at once respond to the Spryes. They turned their attention to the organization of memorials from Leeds, radford, Halifax, Huddersfield and other Chambers of Commerce. Year after year they were sent to the Foreign Secretary, but the Foreign Office was guided by the Viceroy, and he and his Council were far more interested in opening a way between Assam and the north-west of Yunnan than between Rangoon and the pper Kamboja province.

River

on

the

south-west

frontier

of

that

The main interest of British traders in the new Province of 1 egu, as well as in the as yet unconquered Ava, was whether they could get into China ‘by the back door’. The Spryes concentrated all their pressure on what was known as ‘the Sprye’ route. The

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

173

tea-planters in Assam were equally anxious to open up trade with China and to get cheap Chinese labour from Yunnan. Finally, continued pressure, by these groups, especially by the Spryes, per¬ suaded the Government to ask Dalhousie whether these schemes were practicable. Commissioner Phayre, to whom the inquiry was naturally passed, knew the terrain well, and the likely reactions of the King when approached on the subject. Phayre was not against opening up trade with China on principle, but he knew how easy it was to connect two places on an incomplete map with a line and say this was where a telegraph or a railway should be built. Unlike the commercial agitators in London, who were prepared to ride roughshod over kings or tribesmen who stood in their way, Phayre knew the personnel of the Court and the traditions of the Burmese people. Deputy Commissioner Fytche was also opposed to the Sprye plan. He had his own pet scheme, which was a land-and-sea route across the Kra Peninsula. He was a great enthusiast for trade with China. He described an expedition to this Eldorado as brightening up ‘the hopes of every merchant in Burma with the prospect of new markets for British industry, new fields for British capital and enterprise’.1 He felt that the British public was too little aware of the trade which already existed between Upper Burma and western China, Burma exporting cotton, salt and rubies; China exporting silk, tea and gold leaf. In 1854, Fytche says, the trade via Bhamo between the two was £500,000. Between these two countries were hills and valleys, ‘occupied by barbarous and semi-civilized tribes known as Kakhyens and Shans’. ‘They are’, he wrote, ‘as ignorant and credulous as children, but are fully alive to the profits of the carrying trade.’2 This prosperous state of affairs had ended about 1855 by the Panthay revolution in Yunnan. But Fytche believed that here was the grand oppor¬ tunity for the British traders to step in, and he forecast that ‘the revival of this trade under British auspices would render Burma the most flourishing province in the empire of British India’.3 Yet another proposal came from Mr. Spears, who from the strategic post of Amarapoora was well aware of the possibilities of trade. He reported several times on the mineral wealth of the Shan States, from which area lead and other mineral products arrived in Amarapoora, but he saw that trade with China was still virtually closed. His idea was to open up trade with Yunnan via 1 Burma Past and Present, by Lieut.-General Arthur Fytche, Kegan Paul, 1878 (in two volumes), Vol. 2, p. 96. 2 Ibid., p. 97. 3 Ibid., p. 98.

174

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Bhamo. As the first British citizen to be on close friendly terms with Mindon, he was, in effect, the pioneer of the idea of a direct route between Bhamo and Yunnan. He saw the Chinese caravans arriving in Bhamo from Yunnan. Why shouldn’t British trains take their place? Eight years after the Second Anglo-Burmese War, trade had revived in what was now called British Burma, and the potentiali¬ ties of Mindon’s territories were better understood. Frontier dues were a source of trouble. There was an import duty of 10 per cent on goods passing from Upper Burma to British Burma, except on raw cotton and livestock, and an export duty on salt and paddy, two essential needs of Upper Burma. This provided a source of revenue and also a number of check-points for the export of arms and ammunition to Upper Burma. In i860 Dalhousie sent Mr. Temple and Colonel Bruce to Burma to confer with Phayre on administrative and commercial problems, and their report, printed subsequently by the House of Commons, provided a basis of a commercial policy. Some of its paragraphs are worth quoting in full: Par. 20. ‘At present opium is sold in Pegu exclusively through licensed parties, and under certain restrictions. And its importation into the Ava territory is apparently prohibited by the British authorities. The use of the drug is more or less forbidden by the Ava Government to its sub¬ jects. The people of that kingdom, however, are probably quite as willing to consume opium as the people of China or of India. A question may therefore arise, whether it is necessary for the British authorities to prohibit the export of opium into the Ava dominions. It appears possible that a considerable addition to the opium revenue might accrue were the present restrictions on the export to be removed.’ Par. 23. ‘. . . It may here, too, be observed, that as yet no English merchants have established business at Ava; but it appears probable, t at if the King of Ava had acceded to the Treaty that some time ago was proposed to His Majesty by the British Government, there would ere this, have arisen an English trade at Ava. It is certain that the Burmese are largely inclined to take British piece goods, and that if only a Treaty had existed, British enterprise would transport quantities of such goods to Ava.’ Par 24. The well known and important line between China and British Burmah from Yunnan down to the Valley of the Irrawaddy via uhamo and Ava, has, for some time, more or less impeded Ava. This is muc to e regretted, and the precise cause is not easy of ascertainment. 1 he Ava Government attributed the difficulty, as we learn from Colonel hayre to disturbances in some of the Yunnan districts in the Chinese jurisdiction. We might venture to suggest, whether some useful

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

*75

information on this head might not be obtained through Her Majesty’s officers in Siam and China.’1 Dalhousie had been convinced that all three routes to China had ‘recommendations which merit consideration’, and Phayre was also converted to the idea of the mills of Lancashire pouring out their goods into the bazaars of Yunnan. Dalhousie now instructed Phayre to go to Ava to negotiate a commercial treaty. Phayre arrived in Mandalay on 8 October 1862. The King was undoubtedly anxious to develop trading relations. It is uncertain whether or not he realized at the time that this was the thin edge of the wedge into his territory. The treaty, which was signed in November 1862, provided for the protection of British traders in Burmese territories, and for Burmese subjects, specially traders, in British territories; duties were regulated on sea-borne goods meant for importation into Burmese territory; such goods to pay at Rangoon 1 per cent, on their value and might be conveyed through Burmese territory to other countries free of duty; Article 5 provided that goods imported into Burma from China for export to Rangoon would pay a duty of 1 per cent, to the Burmese Government. Article 6 allowed Burmese merchants to travel in British territory. Article 7 authorized British mer¬ chants to proceed up the Irrawaddy into Burmese territory ‘in such manner as they please without hindrance’ and to purchase whatever they may require and to settle in any part of Burmese territory. This meant that the road to China was open and that British merchants could go up to Bhamo and there trade with Chinese caravans. The King also gave permission to Colonel Phayre to send a joint survey mission to explore the caravan route to Yunnan through Bhamo. The treaty was described by Phayre as ‘highly favourable to British interests’. The Government of India had thought of exclusive interest, and suggested to Fytche that the following should be incorporated in the treaty: ‘The Burmese ruler engages not to enter into negotitions or communication of any kind with any foreign power, except with the consent, previously obtained of the British ruler.’2 Professor Pearn, commenting on this suggestion, shows that Fytche knew better than the Governor-General what could and what could not be said to the King: 1 Copy of the Report upon the Income and Expenditure of British Burmah, by R. Temple and H. Bruce, i860. Published by House of Commons, 1865. 2 ‘The Commercial Treaty of 1862’, by B. R. Pearn, Journal of the Burma Research Society, 1937, Vol. 27.

176

THL MAKING OF BURMA

‘Fytche, however, felt that any attempt to establish suzerainty would fail, and would jeopardise the whole of the negotiations; for, apart from the natural reluctance of the King to place himself in a subordinate position, the foreigners who frequented his Court would see in this the end of their influence and would do all that they could to fill the King’s mind with mistrust and alarm. The proposal was therefore not intro¬ duced in the discussion at Mandalay.’1 And the same author comments: ‘These Commercial treaties are interesting also as indicating the gradual increase of British influence in Upper Burma; first, an agreement for freedom to travel in the King’s territories; then the establishment of capitulations; and, at the same time, tentative ideas of establishing a protectorate. The treaties were, in fact, steps forward in the extension of empire.’2 The Bruce-Temple Mission now published a report urging Calcutta to use the Irrawaddy as a main route to China. They wanted a private company, which they believed would more quickly expand trade. Phayre supported their idea. He wanted to see the expansion of trade envisaged in his treaty of 1862 and at the same time to cut down the cost of running a flotilla. The ideal compromise was a workable agreement between the Govern¬ ment and a private company willing to take over the Irrawaddy transport. Phayre subsequently invited tenders for the Govern¬ ment’s freight and passenger traffic on the river, and Messrs. Todd Findlay’s was accepted. This firm already had branches in Moulmein and Rangoon and connexions with Glasgow. In May 1864 the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was formed. Whilst these negotiations were proceeding, Dr. Clement Williams was exploring the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy beyond Mandalay. Dr. Williams had proved invaluable to Phayre in the treaty negotiations of 1862 and now again his special knowledge and his personal relations contributed to the opening up of the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy. He was a versatile man. His bedside manner was pleasing to the King and some of his Ministers. He knew the Burmese language extremely well. He lived for some time in Thayetmo where he combined the study of Burmese literature with that of the trade routes between Burma and China. The ancient caravan road to China seemed as romantic, and as cmnmercially sound, as the road to Mandalay among later British officials in Burma. Dr. Williams, Dr. Ma Thoung suggests, ‘was 1 Journal of the Burma Research Society, 1937, Vol. 27.

2 Ibid

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

177

admittedly a possessor of the essential qualities of a diplomat whose medical skill added a premium to his other qualities of “tact” and “discretion”.’ One of the Ministers in Mandalay told him con¬ fidentially that ‘the King was exceedingly kindly disposed towards him.’1 His reports of conversations at the homes of Burmese Ministers led Phayre to agree to his proposition for an expedition to Bhamo and from there, into Yunnan. The urgency of such an expedition arose in 1861 when reports began to trickle through of similar ideas in the minds of Frenchmen in Mandalay. Rumours spread that imaginative Frenchmen were considering railways and telegraph linking Cochin China, Canton, Mandalay, Zimme, Bangkok with the north of India without passing through British territories. Dr. Williams lost no time. He knew that the King’s permission was essential for the journey. By suggesting that he would inspect the tea plantations in the Upper Myitnge area and giving the King some estimate of what they were worth to the royal kitty, Dr. Williams killed two birds with one stone; his own self-interest by getting access to the tea districts and Mindon’s wish to know how much they might add to his treasury. This ingenious Political Agent won only half the battle. He visited the tea plantations, but his visit to Bhamo was postponed until after Phayre had left Mandalay. Early in 1863, he set off for Bhamo, not only with Mindon’s permission, but in a boat provided by him. On 24 January 1863, the doctor-cum-Political Agent moved out of the creek where his boat had been anchored and found the way ‘blocked up by barges and boats as densely . . . as . . . London Bridge or Cheapside by cabs and omnibuses . . . about 150 boats of all sizes—large paing, heavily laden with grain, firewood, grass, etc., passenger loungs, and hucksters’ canoes, carrying vegetables and other produce to the city market’.2 Dr. Williams settled down at once in Bhamo in a house pro¬ vided by the Governor of the city. The Governor told him that the road to the Chinese frontiers was ‘impracticable on account of the Kakhyeens, who had even had the boldness to murder a man and steal his musket within a short distance of the town’. On his first day, two Chinese visited him. They confirmed that trade was impossible, at least for themselves. Large quantities of goods, chiefly cotton, were piled up in the town, waiting for export to 1 British Interest in Trans-Burma Trade Routes to China, 1826-1876, by Dr. Ma Thoung, p. 236. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, London, 1954- India Office Library, Eur. MSS. C. 129. 2 Through Burmah to Western China, by Clement Williams, Blackwood, 1868.

I78

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Yunnan. He told them the welcome news of the treaty of 1862, though their hopes were qualified by difficulties in their own country, where the Panthay rebellion was playing havoc with trade. The Chinese were always willing to talk about trade, but they were most uncommunicative about routes. Dr. Williams established that there were four routes: the Tali route, the Bhamo route, the Irrawaddy route and the Shweli route. He became more and more convinced of the potential trade with Yunnan. Whilst Dr. Williams talked with all and sundry in Bhamo, his assistant, Raj Singh, strolled through the surrounding villages, meeting people who did not know there was any connexion between the two men. Raj Singh met Kachins and Shans, collected data and made sketches which the Shans at Bhamo helped Dr. Williams to ‘put into pro¬ portion’. These were the basis of maps for later expeditions. Dr. Williams one day met the interpreter of the Commander-in-Chief of the Panthay forces, who visited Ava to buy arms. He told the doctor how to get to Talifu by the easiest route, but when he tried to use it he found that the King’s pass specified only the journey to Bhamo and not any land route. Whilst awaiting an extension of his pass, he managed to get as far north as Sinbo. He was there forced to go back to Mandalay because Mindon’s son had rebelled and escaped into British territory. Mindon told Raj Singh, who pleaded for the extra pass: ‘No, no; go and tell Williams I will give him permission to go anywhere next time, but now I want him here immediately. There is business, and he must come down.’ Dr. Williams had made an important discovery—that steamers could go further north than Bhamo. He was well informed for his campaign for the Irrawaddy-Bhamo route to China. Phayre also was enthusiastic about this discovery. Dr. Williams was very persistent, and finally persuaded the Wungyis in Mandalay to give him another pass. Once more it did not permit him to go around in the vicinity of Bhamo. ‘If I were to go , he wrote, ‘I must either go with a passport entitling me to go to the limit of the Burman territory, or when there go without passport as a right by treaty and under the protection of an escort purchased by money and presents.’* He tried to get permission several times in 1864, but he was always told it would be incon¬ venient. The Burmese were not anxious for him to make the journey. They knew perfectly well that this was a test case. So the doctor tact and charm and persistence notwithstanding, never reached Chinese territories. In January 1865 Dr- Williams was instructed by His Majesty’s 1 India Political and Foreign Proceedings, Consultation No. 129,17 March 1863.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

179

Government to hand over to Captain Sladen and to return to the Army. But the gallant doctor had been bitten by the bug of trade, adventure and travel. He resigned from the Service rather than return to the routine of Army life. His skill as a public relations officer was so well known, he was at once offered and took a post as the Mandalay Agent for the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. His journal as Political Agent and Raj Singh’s maps were published by permission of Fytche, now Chief Commissioner, in the hopes that this would have the effect ‘of facilitating any efforts that may be made to establish permanent steam traffic on the Upper Irrawaddy’.1 Dr. Williams, now spokesman for the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, applied his great energy to schemes for exploring the routes between Bhamo and West China. Phayre had long supported the idea. His successor, Fytche, had been won over to the idea, as he had found the Siamese suspicious of his Kra scheme. They believed that it would provoke French penetration. The Spryes still kept up their agitation for the overland route to Yunnan. Phayre was somewhat influenced in its favour by many resolutions of chambers of commerce. But the Governor-General never believed in the Sprye route, and he did not allow any specific mission to examine it, maintaining that the expense was too great and that it would excite suspicions in the Burmese Court. On the other hand, he gave permission for an expedition to the Salween, and, since part of this route coincided with part of the Sprye route, a report—an adverse one—was finally made as to its practicability. The country was described as a congeries of mountain ranges with rarely an acre of even ground—country where a railway was of no use and the elephant and the bullock the only suitable means of transport because of their climbing qualities. The Sprye route agitation failed when at the beginning of 1864 the Secretary of State notified the chambers of commerce in England that he was not prepared to order the survey of the country between Rangoon and Kenghung. Interest now began to concentrate on the Salween. Phayre had often thought that this river flowing through western China in its upper reaches was a natural artery of trade, and his idea was warmly supported by the timber merchants of Moulmein. The river was difficult to navigate, and the problem was to ascertain by survey how much of it was navigable above the rapids, and at what points a canal would be a worth while proposition. In May 1863 the Governor-General agreed to Phayre’s proposal for a 1 India Political and Foreign Proceedings, Consultation No. 75, July 1867.

i8o

THE MAKING OF BURMA

survey. Lieutenant G. C. Sconce of the Indian Navy, Master Attendant of the port of Moulmein, and Lieutenant C. E. Watson, Artillery of India (Madras), Assistant Commissioner of Shwegyin, were chosen for the expedition. The Governor-General appreci¬ ated the sensitivity of Mindon and the suspicions that had been aroused by British officers surveying his territory. He therefore told Phayre that these two lieutenants must be instructed to go up the Salween as far as practicable, but in no circumstances to alienate Burmese feelings or to upset any of the hill peoples who lived along its banks. Commissioner Fytche of Tenasserim gave various letters of introduction to the two lieutenants. To the Sawbwa of Monpagi, Fytche made the very broad hint that it would be in his interests ‘to take into careful consideration the advantages accruing to his subjects and the people of Cambodia by cementing the friendship of the English rulers’. If the great Sawbwa would send letters in charge of the lieutenants, they would be forwarded to the ‘great W oongyee and Ruler of India’. These hints were far beyond any¬ thing Phayre had suggested. It is not very surprising' that they created difficulties for the expedition in the Shan States. Sconce and Watson started their journey in November 1863. They reached the Salween on 29 December and their troubles soon began. For in this area disputes between Karens and Shans were frequent. So they took the route passing through Kyebogvi, meaning to strike out there to Mongpai and Mongnai. Professor Pearn, following their journey, points out: ‘None of the people believed that the object of their visit was only for purposes of exploration; they suspected some political motive; and by this time the suspicions of the Burmese authorities had been aroused, for though this was not really within the Burmese frontier, an official had just arrived from lawnghwe who questioned them about their movements and their intentions. On the 13th, they resumed their journey and on the 15th reached Mongpai in the southern Shan states. Here their troubles really began.’1 The Sawbwa of Mongpai was absent, and the officers, not liking his brother, continued their journey to the Burmese stockade at Pekon. Burmese troops surrounded them and kept them for eleven days. They were questioned about the contents of their luggage and treated with suspicion. Why hadn’t they the Kind’s • ,X ^fCc.by

Pe.arn> ‘Journey of Lieutenant Sconce and Captain Watson

December i924fvol* 1*4, {^T'^

°‘ ""

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

181

pass? they were asked. And why had they made this extraordin¬ arily difficult journey when they could so easily have travelled from Mandalay? Captain O’Riley had accompanied them part of the way and this confirmed Burmese suspicions that this expedi¬ tion had some military objectives. ‘And it must be admitted’, Professor Pearn points out, ‘that the circumstances gave the Burmese officials very good ground for their suspicions; what, after all, would have been the attitude of any officers in British Burma who had found a party of Burmese officials entering their district under similar conditions?’1 These two British officials were indiscreet (or enterprising) enough to have secret talks with some of the Mongpai Sawffiwa’s followers, who wanted to know whether the British would help the Shans if they rose against the Burmese. Night after night these men talked with the officers, and once suggested that they start their attack right away. Fytche’s letter encouraged their belief that they had found allies. He was subsequently reprimanded by the Governor-General for his lack of tact. King Mindon was anxiously following the mission and Dr. Williams noted in his diary for io February 1864: ‘The King said “There is one thing I do not like, and that is not right; two officers from Shoay Gyeen have come into Burman Shan territory, and at these times, when we are at war with rebel Shans, for English officials to go there without my knowledge is not good.” I replied: “As to any other officer or official I know nothing, but it is nearly 3 months ago that I informed the Woongyees that two British officers, Lts. Watson and Sconce, would be passing through the Shan States near Mone on their way to the Salween river; which river they intended to descend to examine whether the navigation might be improved.’ ”2

The expedition proved ill-timed, tactless and abortive. Sconce and Watson left for Inle virtually under escort. Only a few months before, the Sawbwa of Yawnghwe had risen against the Burmese, and driven the soldiers out of the garrison. Rebellion was still in the air, and other Shan Sawbwas were thought to be considering fighting the Burmese. Against this background, it is easily under¬ stood how suspiciously the British officers were regarded. They were kept at Inle for seventeen days, and, much to their chagrin, they were not allowed to shoot birds in the attractive woods and marshes around the lake. They commented in their diary on the richness of the district: every inch of land was cultivated with paddy, sugar-cane, cotton, groundnuts and a wide variety of 1 Journal of the Burma Research Society, December 1924, Vol. 14, Pt. 3. 2 India Political and Foreign Proceedings, Consultation No. 129, April 1864.

l82

THE MAKING OF BURMA

vegetables. They noticed beautiful pagodas, and they were lucky enough to be at Inle for the new moon festival in February. When they were asked to leave and deliberately marched in the direction opposite to that which was outlined to them, they reaffirmed them¬ selves in the eyes of officials and people as British spies making a reconnaisance of the area preliminary to invasion. No wonder they were stopped and armed men posted along the banks of the river to prevent assistance being provided for them. They were lucky to get away with their lives when they finally decided to take the easy road back to Mandalay, through the Nateik Pass and Kyaukse. Their expedition had been a failure and they were recalled. Phayre did not give up the idea of the Salween exploration. He now began to press the new Governor-General for permission to make another effort on the grounds that he had good reason to believe the Upper Salween was navigable for boats and small river craft right up to the Chinese frontier. He told the GovernorGeneral : I do believe that there is no greater object now open to British enter¬ prise in Asia than that of opening out the long-sealed-up, Salween river, so that steamers shall pass from the river’s mouth to the 25 degrees north latitude where hitherto no European, since the time of Marco Polo had dared to show himself openly.’1 Dr. Williams proved an admirable public relations officer with the King and his Ministers in Mandalay. In August 1864, when the Governor-General gave his permission, the King promised to give his pass. Lieutenant Watson was again chosen, but this time his companion was Francis Fedden, Assistant in the Geological Sur¬ vey Department, and charged with investigating the silver- and ead-mines. In November 1864 Watson and Fedden started out trom ioungoo, and cut right across country to the Salween, ihey travelled via Yamethin, over the Sindaung Mountain, into the Shan States. Beyond Inle they met a Shan caravan of 250 bullocks with stic-lac, cane-sugar and other products, and Fedden noted that people were mining silver and lead. Later, at Legya, they heard that conditions were still unsettled. The rebellion had now been suppressed in Hsenwi and they were allowed to take KUt t0 ^ Salween. However, the short-cut was imhveH St 6 beCTaust°f dlsturbed conditions among the people who hved between Lashio and the Salween, and Watson subsequently took a more southern route. When he crossed the Sukat ferry 1 India Political and Foreign Proceedings {General), 12 July 1864.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

^3

to Oo-Noung on the banks of the Salween, he was surprised to find European goods for sale—silk, cotton, muslins, needles, thread and cutlery, all of them about four times more expensive than in Rangoon. The chief produce of the district, raw cotton, was sent almost entirely to Talifu in Yunnan. The expedition had proved that the Upper Salween was not navigable. The Salween route, like the Sprye route, to West China, was not practicable. The Kra route was impracticable. The Salween was impractic¬ able. The next idea was a railway from Toungoo through the Shan States to the borders of China. Messrs. Gladstone, Wyllie & Company and the Burma Company Limited sponsored this proposal. They wanted the Government’s blessing, but did not ask for a financial guarantee. They needed half a mile on each side of the proposed railway line and a guaranteed 5 per cent, per annum on the capital they invested. The Secretary of State, Lord Ripon, said ‘No’ to any kind of financial aid, but he was willing to make a conditional grant of land. In July 1866 he was succeeded by Lord Cranbourne, who was far more receptive to expansionist ideas. He was greatly impressed by the campaign which chambers of commerce had carried on in Britain and Burma for several years.1 They organized well-drafted memorials to the Govern¬ ment urging the extension of trade and trade routes with China and they dropped the hint that the Emperor of the French was ‘fully alive to the great commercial advantages’ of China and planned to use the Mekong to open up the Chinese market in competition with the British trader. Cranbourne took up this matter at once, and in August 1866 he asked his GovernorGeneral, Sir John Lawrence, to give his opinion as to the cost of a railway survey as well ‘as the political possibility of making it, having regard both to the temper of the Burmese, and of their tributaries, the Shans’. Sir John Lawrence and members of his Council were not enthusiastic; they foresaw the cost to their exchequer, and they feared that Burmese suspicions might seem to be con¬ firmed. But Cranbourne wanted the facts which only a survey could obtain, so that he could ‘tell the mercantile bodies of the various towns who are anxious on this question, whether the scheme is practicable or not, and if practicable, at what cost’. 1 This campaign is well summarized in the memorial addressed to Disraeli, then First Lord of the Treasury, by the Wakefield Chamber of Commerce: ‘Direct Commerce with the Shan States and West of China by railway from Kiang-Hung on the Upper Kambodja River (Mekong) on the South-West Frontier of China’, presented, London, 15 November 1868.

184

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Cranbourne was thinking in wider terms than one particular railway. ‘I do not myself anticipate that any such road can be of service till the Shan States are tributary to us instead of to Burmah. Such a change would not I think be acceptable to Englishmen generally—and the state of Burmah may any day force it upon us. I do not think that any extension of influence on that frontier would be undesirable, if it can be obtained peacefully.’1 Cranbourne was referring to a Palace revolution which had failed to unseat Mindon a few months earlier. At this stage he was not thinking in terms of military occupation, but he envisaged annexation at some later date. Lawrence was still unconvinced about the railway survey, which he realized was a step towards annexation. In December 1866, after seeing Fytche in London, Cranbourne wrote to Lawrence: ‘In the present state of Indian finances I should certainly hear of any military operations with regret. But it is of primary importance to allow no other European power to insert itself between British Burmah and China. Our influence in that country ought to be paramount. The country itself is of no great importance. But an easy communica¬ tion with the multitudes who inhabit Western China is an object of national importance.’2 On 5 February 1867 Lawrence was still discussing the survey, and its repercussions on Burma: ‘I wish to do all I can to stave off an annexation of Burmah proper. We have already more on our hands than we can properly manage, and that country for many years would be a burthen on us and entail large outlay.’3 A month later, one of the King’s sons escaped to the Shan States and raised an insurrection. Mindon’s position seemed rather insecure. Lawrence reported: All our merchants and traders long for a bouleversement and would probably do what they could to bring one on. The annexation of Burmah proper will no doubt come sooner or later, but the longer it can be staved off the better. If we cannot swallow the ripe plum in the shape of Mysore, consolidated by upwards of 30 years’ careful admini¬ stration of British officers, surely we need not desire to anticipate events in Burmah . To divert our energies and resources then, to an outlying wilderness like Burmah proper, appears to be very impolitic.’4 2 tuT™ Letterslndi^Office Library Eur. MSS. F. go, 16 October 1866. ? £?}•’ l866Ibld-> 5 February 1867. 4 Ibid., 2i March 1867.

P/'CeT?bZ

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

185

Annexation was already in the minds of the Secretary of State’s Department. Sir Stafford Northcote was as convinced as Law¬ rence that the railway survey in the Shan States would mean trouble in Burma and arouse suspicion in China. As to Burma, he added: ‘I hear whispers about its future destiny and annexation, which are unpleasant.’ And again in June 1867, when the survey had already been made, Northcote wrote: ‘The annexation of Burmah would be a very unfortunate measure for us to take; and I am convinced that if we began railway making in the Shan States we should run a great risk of being forced into it.’1 The railway was postponed, but later that year, Fytche led a Mission to Ava. The result was a new treaty, which was signed on 25 October 1867. Nothing could have been more friendly than the negotiations. ‘From the time the party crossed the frontier, until it left Mandalay’, Fytche wrote, ‘there was the most manifest desire to show every consideration and respect towards the representative of His Excellency the Viceroy and GovernorGeneral. . . . Frequent expression was given to the desire for a lasting and close friendship between the respective Governments.’2 The treaty was commercial in character, though it had political undertones. Sladen and Fytche had decided that it was tactless to suggest that a clause should be inserted restricting the King’s intercourse with other European states to those made through British representatives. Whilst most of its clauses were commercial, others gave the British a foothold they had vainly tried to get in earlier negotia¬ tions. Article V, for example, laid down: ‘The British Government is hereby privileged to establish a Resident or Political Agent in Burmese territory, with full and final jurisdiction in all civil suits arising between registered British subjects at the capital. Civil cases between Burmese subjects and registered British subjects shall be heard and finally decided by a mixed court composed of the British Political Agent and a suitable Burmese officer of high rank. The Burmese Government reserves to itself the right of establishing a Resident or Political Agent in British territory who¬ ever it may choose to do so.’ Other articles dealt with such matters as extradition, the right to appoint British officials to reside at any or each of the stations in Burmese territory at which Customs duty may be leviable.3 1 Ibid., 26 June 1867. 2 Burma Past and Present, by Lieut.-Colonel A. Fytche, Vol. 2, Appendix p. 281. 3 See Papers relating to British Burmah Correspondence relative to the Treaty of the 26th October 1867.

186

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

The treaty of 1867 was so far-reaching that it was in effect a green light for future annexation. Some observers saw it this way. Captain Sprye, for example, described it as the fruit of indirect coercion over the Burmese authorities. His view may have been a little jaundiced, since Fytche had won the day in the battle for a route to China and Sprye’s own campaign had failed with the Government of India. He also felt that Fytche had double-crossed him, for, after seeming to support his route as ‘a really useful and thoroughly practical project for more rapid communication with the West of China’ in 1861, he had subsequently ‘devoted himself to diplomatic intercourse with the court of Burma ... to prosecut¬ ing and realizing his Bhamo route’. Captain Sprye saw political interests behind this Bhamo agitation, and described it as serving the purpose of ‘those who desire and strive to bring about the annexation of Upper Burma and its dependencies; of those who, as holders of tea plantations in Assam, etc., erroneously believe it would lead to the opening of a way across the wilds of Upper Burma by which they should receive from Bhamo unlimited and cheap Chinese labour; and of those others at Rangoon, Calcutta and Glasgow, who, forming the Irrawaddy Steam Flotilla Company, too naturally desire that that river should be the sole route for trade with the west of China’. The phrase tasted of sour grapes, but Sprye was in such close touch with commercial interests that he could not be described as uninformed. He referred to the too loud cry of some officials and merchants for annexation’. THE IMPORTANCE OF BHAMO

No sooner had the 1867 treaty been signed than Colonel Sladen, British Agent at Mandalay, started off to explore the trade route to China via Bhamo. The King had agreed to the expedition, and ordered all officers within his territories ‘to further the progress of the English party by every means in their power’. Colonel Sladen knew precisely what he was doing and what would ultimately be the political repercussions. From the time Pegu was occupied, he could see where British policy would lead. He was acting in a dual capacity: he was Political Agent and agent for the commercial interests in Rangoon. In his first role, he had to keep on good terms with Mindon and the Burmese Court. In his second role he made plans, the logic of which was the occupation of Upper Burma. The control of Bhamo was essential to the development of trade with south-west China, and in the account of his expedition in 1867 he admitted:

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

187

‘What Burmah has always dreaded is that British interests would not be confined to British possessions but that contingencies might arise which would give the foreigner the right of extending his influence to Upper Burmah, and to a point above, and beyond the limits of the present Burmese capital. Such a contingency was always imminent as long as it could be made demonstrable in any way that Bhamo might again become the natural emporium of a direct overland trade between Burmah and China. The same objection did not hold good provided Mandalay could be made the mart for that trade instead of Bhamo, for in that case the intrusive foreigner would still be somewhat under control and his operations for good or evil would not probably extend themselves in the same dangerous degree and direction as they seemed destined to do if allowed to ramify from an emporium on the extreme confines of the Empire, and in direct continuity with races which did not owe allegiance to His Majesty of Burma.’1 Sladen’s expedition was financed by commercial interests in Rangoon. His own summary of its achievements is quoted from his lecture to the Royal Geographical Society in London: ‘The expedition itself reached a point in China as far as, and beyond that to which the discretionary powers with which it was invested per¬ mitted. Agreements to facilitate trade were made with every person or chief who had any resemblance of authority in the region the expedition traversed.’2 Two at least of Sladen’s companions on the Mission to Momein— Dr. Anderson, who was a scientist, and Captain Bowers, a com¬ mercial agent—related their experiences in books published at the time. They were useful ammunition in the campaign for a Bhamo route. Dr. Anderson explained: ‘If these routes to Sechuen and Tibet were once opened to trade via the Brahmaputra, the success of tea cultivation in Assam would be an accomplished fact, and the province which is second to no other district in India in fertility, would be in a position which would favour the full development of its natural resources. As a teagrowing country, with a splendid water communication with Calcutta, from whence it could derive its supplies of Manchester and Sheffield goods, which find such a ready sale in Sechuen and Tibet, Assam has everything in itself which would enable it successfully to compete with the Yangtse-kiang for the markets of Tibet, and even western Sechuen; and ultimately, perhaps, to absorb a very large portion of the trade that now finds the way thence by a circuitous course through the breadth of China, and 1 Official Narrative of the Expedition to Explore the Trade Routes to China via Bhamo under the Guidance of Major E. B. Sladen, Political Agent, Mandalay, zuith connected papers. Ordered to be printed, House of Commons, 17 April 1871, p. 4. 2 Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Vol. 41, 1871, p. 280.

i88

THE MAKING OF BURMA

the Brahmaputra would be put in possession of a traffic that naturally belongs to it.’1

Captain Bowers published a very long report on the practicability of reopening the trade route between Burma and Western China. He believed that ultimately the British government would become more aware of Burma. ‘That it will come sooner or later, must be patent to every one; and it is for our rulers in England to take into consideration the growing power of the French in Saigon, and the Americans in China, with Russia on the north, with her insidious advancement in a southerly direction.’2

The commercial results of the Sladen expedition were far short of expectations. But the importance of Bhamo was established, and from now onwards it becomes a focal point in British policy in Upper Burma. Mindon, who saw the advantages of increasing trade with China, recognized the need for better communications. But he was an independent sovereign who also wanted to safe¬ guard his supremacy in his own country. He felt that this was challenged when Sladen wanted to send boats to Bhamo. ‘The population generally’, he told Sladen, ‘may be led to believe that Burmah is again invaded and the steamers may get into difficulty.’ He was willing to make his own steamers available for all cargo and goods between Bhamo and Mandalay. It was a shrewd move, both politically and financially, but it did not fit in with Sladen’s schemes. Sladen now adopted a policy which was frankly colonial. He wanted an alliance with Shan and Kachin chiefs whose antipathy to the Burmese he could exploit. In an exhaustive memorandum to Fytche, written from Mandalay in September 1868, he outlined his plan: Par. 3. I have for some time past had in consideration the question of an annual subsidy to be paid to Kakhyen sawbwas as a means of making them our friends and of securing a safe and ready means of transit across their hills The idea of a subsidy originated of course with the assumption and belief that by no other practicable means would it them btnCn P°S?b 6 t0 enllst the sympathy of these hm people or cause advTntaalegarj ^ presence m the caPacity of traders as a source of advantage and prosperity to themselves. Having satisfied myself i87i^f?77°”

t0

WeSt6rn Ylmnan Via Bhamo> by °r. J. Anderson, Calcutta,

sfsMas? “ssion-

IwgsT* T,adt ?0UU

tsz

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

189

however, by ample experience that Kakhyens are more eager and interested in the reopening of a trade route through their hills than we are ourselves, and that their ready co-operation may be freely relied on in any attempt we may make, either to open out old routes or con¬ struct new ones, I have been advisedly led to avoid the inconvenience and complications which a subsidy might have given rise to, and hold to the fact that fair dealing and kind and straightforward treatment on our part are all that is required to secure the friendship of these people and ready access to Kakhyen land for all the essential purpose of any through route between Bhamo and South-West China.’

The second part of Sladen’s scheme was the appointment of a British Agent at Bhamo who would have several engineers and surveyors on his staff to prepare the way for ‘a highway (road, tramway, or railway) which must eventually and at no great dis¬ tance of time connect the Irrawaddy with Yunnan, or Bhamo with Momein’. In March 1869 Captain G. A. Strover of the Madras Staff Corps was appointed Assistant Political Agent. The Burmese were highly suspicious of this step, and had it not been for Mindon’s patient determination to avoid any open conflict with Sladen, relations between the two countries would have rapidly deteriorated. He was already suspicious of Sladen, whom he had earlier befriended. One day, in the company of Sladen’s successor and other British officials who were taking his part, Mindon com¬ mented : ‘In my uncle’s reign, Burney who was English Resident was very unpopular; so it is with Sladen. I am not against him. Good people are liked, and have a good repute; bad people are disliked, and people will speak ill of them. No one, not even I, can gag public opinion. ‘For instance, I never heard any one speak ill of Phayre, which proves that he is good and estimable, for he requires no one to blazen out his good qualities. A rotten fruit will stink, no matter how much perfume you may pour on it! In speaking as I now do of Sladen, I simply reflect public opinion.’1

The King had every reason for suspecting the activities of Sladen and his Political Agent at Bhamo. Soon after Strover’s arrival, he sent out missions to thirty-nine of the surrounding Sawbwas and visited those whose co-operation was indispensable for the development of the trade route to China. He had imagina¬ tive ideas about Bhamo and took with him from Rangoon business¬ men and specimen goods. He persuaded the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company to run a weekly trip to Mandalay and a monthly steamer to Bhamo for a monthly Government subsidy of 5,000 rupees. 1 India Foreign Department Proceedings, Range 438, Vol. 9, March 1870.

190

THE MAKING OF BURMA

This might be described as normal commercial development. But Strover went much further than this; he sent scouts to Momein, one of whom was a Kachin Laloo to find out what goods the Panthay Governor would like to exchange. The Panthay rebel¬ lion was still going on, and the Governor of Momein was most anxious to get the British Political Agent’s active support and to obtain armaments. This might have seemed difficult, but Strover obtained permission to send him a few guns from time to time, and they were listed under the imaginative title ‘Durbar presents’.1 MINDON’s MISSION TO EUROPE

The Burmese could scarcely watch this collaboration and remain free from suspicion about British motives. Mindon now made up his mind to have direct relations with the British Queen. His officials were anxious that every item of royal protocol should be observed and they consulted McMahon, Political Agent, Mandalay, on the correct way to address Queen Victoria. Chief Commissioner Fytche did not approve of the King approach¬ ing British royalty and officialdom direct, believing that they were trying to by-pass the Governor-General and Viceroy. Acting as if Mindon were merely a puppet instead of an independent sove¬ reign, Fytche complained that McMahon had gone too far. MacMahon stood up for himself. I respectfully protest’, he wrote, ‘against these conclusions as incon¬ sistent with the real facts of the case, and in justice to the Burmese Government I must declare that their action in this matter was blame¬ less, whatever their short-comings may have been in other respects_ these gentlemen were introduced to me by the Prime Minister at e ralace; they paid me an official visit afterwards, and previous to their departure called on me in a friendly way. ‘Far from wishing to ignore any of the representatives of the British Government, much less the Viceroy, the Burmese Government was ra"s!,“lou.s t(1 be guided in every way by our instructions. . . . Whilst absolving the Burmese Government from the charge pre¬ ferred against it in this instance, there is no doubt that it has latterly ahown a tendency to correspond with Her Majesty the Queen and her Ministers in England as well as with her representatives in this country. sTatinTtW ong‘nated/rom the perusal of paragraphs in the paper tn tK CVen, x£dePendenl Rajas and Chiefs in India have written to the Queen and Secretary of State and have received gracious replies to their communications. 2 ° “ 2 [wf Fc°reign PePartment Proceedings, Range 438 Vol 10., 1870. Ibid., September 1878, Range 438, Vol. lofi^o.

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

I9I

Fytche angrily described McMahon as having a ‘strange ignorance and want of tact’. He felt that the visit of the Burmese mission to Europe was a defeat for the British representatives at Mandalay. His Secretary wrote to the Secretary to the GovernorGeneral on 28 July 1870: ‘Had General Fytche not been unfortunately absent from Rangoon at the time on privilege leave, he believes that he could have prevented the departure of the two Burmese to Europe, as it will be seen from the correspondence noted in the margin that he succeeded in preventing a similar attempt to send a Mission to France in 1867.’1

The King had always found it humiliating that in his relations with Britain he had to deal with the Governor-General of India and not with the Queen, who was on his own level. Chief Com¬ missioner Fytche was not in a position to prevent the mission from going abroad, but he scarcely concealed the fact that it was not good taste to visit London. Here, he told the Kinwun Mingyi, the mission ‘may be really and literally confined at home to matters of ceremony, as otherwise its effects may prove most mischievous’, and said that any mission to the court of Her Majesty Queen Victoria would be ‘regarded solely as one of a ceremonial charac¬ ter’. ‘No diplomatic discussions or representations of a business character will be permitted by Her Majesty’s Government, except through the Government or India, which must be addressed through the usual channel.’ The mission travelled via Cairo, where they looked at the Pyramids, and then to Rome, where the Foreign Minister discussed a treaty of friendship and commerce. In Rome the King of Italy received them with royal ceremonial. The Italians were very much impressed by the elaborate clothes the mission wore: rich velvet covered with gold—as The Times correspondent rather acidly commented—‘so that the general effect was sufficiently quaint and rich to impress the assembled Italians with the necessary pomp and circumstance of the repre¬ sentatives of a distant Eastern Power’. The most impressive gar¬ ment was the gilt head-dress worn only in the presence of royalty. There was a gala night at San Carlo, and the mission reviewed the troops in Naples. The Burmese were presented with the cross of Commander. Again The Times correspondent facetiously wrote: ‘I am pretty sure they all went to bed last night with the crosses carefully stowed away under their pillows after the manner of good and deserving children with new playthings.’ The Italian Press gave the mission excellent publicity and revealed that the 1

Ibid.

192

THE MAKING OF BURMA

British Government had protested against the way it was treated. They have certainly been made enough of’, wrote the same cor¬ respondent, ‘but as an Italian said to me today, lQue voulez-vous. We learn all this from you English. And do not you English spoil your dear natives, and we but try to follow you? Voila tout!’1 In London, Major McMahon, was employed by the Political Secret Department of the India Office to accompany the mission and to report on its activities. He was told that he must ‘scrupul¬ ously abstain from political discussion’. Dr. Maung Maung, in Burma in the Family of Nations, has published translations from the Kinwun Mingyi’s diary showing how the Burmese reacted to British hospitality. They found the chambers of commerce were the most interested and entertained them in London, Birmingham, Birkenhead, Liverpool, Man¬ chester, Bradford, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin and Killarney. These were mainly the chambers of com¬ merce which had passed resolutions some years before urging the Government to open up trade between Upper Burma and Yunnan. They had written memorials on this subject, usually briefed by Captain Sprye and his son. The Council of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, always in the forefront of agitation for trade with western China, gave the Kinwun Mingyi a great ovation. ‘The Council, the Chairman said, ‘having always considered the rich products and the fertile lands of Burma as affording great induce¬ ments to the spread of commerce and agriculture, have from time to time carefully considered the many projected trade routes through the possessions of His Majesty the King, to open up a commei cial highway to the unlimited resources of western China.’ Everywhere the Kinwun Mingyi and his party arrived, the mayors and the lord mayors arranged receptions at which the extension of trade was discussed eloquently, and hints made about e reduction of duties, the abolition of monopolies and the linking of Burma and the Chinese province of Yunnan, the El Dorado of those days. To these speeches the Kinwun Mingyi replied. The following, .which was made to the Liverpool Chamber of Com¬ merce on 21 August 1872, is characteristic of them all:

L

L°rd He KmLg’ wishm§t0 build cordial relations, as becomes to bear dftgn ”,atl0ns’ between our two countries, has commanded us to bear gifts and pay our homage to Her Majesty the Queen of Britain Secondly, our Lord the King, dedicated as he d to the cause of peace has commanded us to carry his message of peace and friendship^ all two

1

The Times, 25 May 1872.

PRELUDE TO

EMPIRE

I93

the nations. From Paden Wundauk who has been here before, we have heard vaguely about England. Hitherto in affairs of state we have had to deal only with the Viceroy of India. Now the countries have become more close with the emergence of the telegraph, railways and steamers, the time, we consider, has come when our two countries should have more direct relations. Our relations with the Government of India have been cordial, but as you are doubtless aware there is a difference between dealing through agents and direct dealing between principals. It is our fond hope that in order to further promote existing friendship and trade relations, we could get the approval of Her Majesty’s Government to the appointment of a Burmese Consul in London.’1

In other words, the mission considered itself as representing an independent sovereign nation, not a satellite of British Burma or of India, nor merely as a bridge between the latter and the untapped wealth of western China. In those days, the Americans were still conscious of their recent emancipation from British colonialism, and the American Ambassador in London made this report to his Government: ‘There has been a “Burmese Embassy” here. ... A good deal of parade was made, and special attention extended to them while they were in England, apparently with a view to making on their minds an impression as to the great importance and value of good relations be¬ tween their King and Her Majesty’s government. I think, however, they were intelligent enough to observe that, although coming accred¬ ited to this court in a diplomatic character, their presentation to Her Majesty, and the delivery of their credentials, were under the auspices not of the minister of foreign affairs, but accompanied by the Secretary of State for India. There seemed a significance in this fact. It was as if the government here was willing to consider questions of relations with Burmah, as belonging to the policy which controls in regard to the eastern possessions of Great Britain, and not to the treatment which is to be given to an independent power.’2

The Burmese mission paid a second visit to Paris. Again, the British behaved as if they already ruled over Upper Burma. The British Ambassador offered to present the Burmese mission to the French authorities. They politely declined. As a mission from an independent country, they exchanged courtesy calls with the embassies of Britain, the1 Netherlands, Italy, the United States, Sweden and Denmark. They sent Mindon full reports of these foreign countries. 1 Burma in the Family of Nations, by Dr. Maung Maung, p. 51. 2 ‘Burma and the American State Papers’, by J. L. Christian, Journal of the Burma Research Society, 1936, Vol. XXVI, Part 2. Letter from Schenke to Fish, 5 March 1873, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1873, Part I, p. 318.

THE MAKING OF BURMA

194

The King was encouraged by the mission which cost him more than 10 lakhs of rupees. He wanted good relations with foreign countries, partly because he was a shrewd man who realized the growing restrictions which were implicit in his isolated position and partly because he was a man with an international outlook. Burma was only able to exist, as a British official once said, ‘by the sufferance of two powerful neighbours, namely China on her northern frontier, and British Burma on her southern frontier.’1 But whilst Mindon received the fullest reports of European countries, his mission signed commercial conventions only with France and with Italy. Both conventions provided for the exchange of diplomatic agents, for reciprocal trading rights, for trade con¬ cessions, and for facilities for missionaries, scientists, geographers, naturalists and others to travel in Burma, with reciprocal rights for Burmese. COMMERCIAL PRESSURE GROWS

. From this time onwards, British commercial interests recogniz¬ ing the potential rivalry with France and Italy, increased their pressure and many meetings took place at which influential speakers advocated the opening up of trade between Burma and China. Sir Arthur Cotton, a well-known engineer of South India who took part in the First Anglo-Burmese War, told a meeting of the Society of Arts (26 January 1872) that the missing link of communications was between the Irrawaddy and the Brahamputra. If this distance of only about 100 miles could be linked, then the produce of south-west China could flow down to Calcutta as well as to Rangoon. The lecturer, Commander Manners, wanted easy steam communication and then, ‘with Burma as the highway, Great Britain and India would have no difficulty in tapping the resources of south-western China, and also other adjacent states’ Salween

3^

°f ^ MekonS’the Menam and the

There were two schools of thought about the most profitable way of tapping the resources of south-west China and finding a mute the second, se^^R8' The ^ W£mted t0 the Bha™> route, the the route pioneered by develoP the Sorves from Rangoon through Kiang Tung and Kiang Hung. The BhaZ route was favoured by the tea-planting interests fn Assam who wanted cheap labour from Yunnan, and also saw Cdcutta s a more convement port than Rangoon. The case was put in a paper

7

?£b°ys Wh“‘“' -

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

*95

read to the British Association in Bradford (20 September 1873) by Dr. John McCosh, late Bengal Medical Staff. He described communications between Assam and Yunnan, between India with 200 millions and China with 300 million people. British public opinion seemed to him ‘morbidly sensitive’ as far as the north-western frontier of India was concerned, but utterly in¬ different as to the countries on the north-east. He wanted to see an international thoroughfare between Assam, Burma and China. This was his vision. ‘The King of Burmah is now a convert to free trade; a British Embassy is now established at his Court, a Political Agent is stationed at Bhamo, and British steamers regularly navigate the Irrawaddy as far north as Bhamo. Moreover, all the hill tribes west of Burmah are under British protection; there is a British Resident at Munipoor, and a good road from the Indian frontier to its capital.’1

All that was needed now was the road for cheap labour from far Talifu (where it linked with a road to the Yangtze), Momein, Bhamo and then through Manipur. Then the streams would flow, not with milk and honey, but with good strong Assamese tea. Dr. McCosh had a wonderful picture in his mind, when no more tigers, leopards, bisons, elephants, etc. should be driven from their strongholds, and ‘gardens of tea, coffee, oranges and lemons shall take the place of the now impenetrable jungle. When the brawny hill tribes shall drop their bows and arrows and take up the spade and pick-axe; when the slothful Burmese shall bestow as much care on the cultivation of his fields as on the tattooing of his person.’ His peroration was that of an evangelist rather than a sur¬ veyor : ‘When the prodigious commerce of the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, the Ning-llee, the Irrawaddy and the Yang-tse-kiang shall be hoisted upon trucks and rolled from east to west, from west to east in one grand tide, ever ebbing, ever flowing, everlasting, and when London and Liverpool, Manchester and Bradford, Glasgow and Paisley, Dundee and Aberdeen shall dip their pitchers in the sacred stream and deal out its bounty to the people of the land.’

Mr. Thomas Thornville Cooper was another enthusiast, but he pitched into the jungles and made adventurous journeys, which he recaptured in several books. He thought that it was possible to tackle this problem from a different angle—by road from China to 1

A paper on Assam and an overland communication with China, London,

1873-

196

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Assam. The i860 Treaty of Peking had obtained permission for British subjects to wander more or less as they chose into the Chinese interior. In a highly enterprising state of mind, Mr. Cooper imagined a viaduct across Upper Burma, linking up the Yangtze-kiang and the Brahmaputra. Mr. Cooper was at one time a representative of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce; he was inspired by Dr. Clement Williams of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company and encouraged by a business firm in Shanghai to make the journey linking China and Calcutta. His first effort failed when local opposition at Bathang forced his return. The second effort, financed by Calcutta merchants, also failed, this time because he contracted fever, and then the Tibetans per¬ suaded the Mishmis to refuse him assistance when he arrived at the first Tibetan post. The Calcutta merchants had asked him to find a link between India and China ‘by the easiest route possible, be it through Tibet, or any other country lying between Assam and China’.1 In 1872, a Deputation from the Associated Chambers of Com¬ merce waited on the Duke of Argvll, the then Secretary of State

U I,n]dl1a’ and urged that the SPrye survey for a railway project should be started; a line of railway, less than 600 miles from Rangoon to the western frontier of China, by means of which ‘the distance from England to the Western Provinces would be short¬ ened by 3,000 miles’. The further point in favour of the Southern route was that it was ‘so far from the King of Burma’s capital that in the event of hostilities it could easily be kept open by us and it can be used all the year round, instead of only in the drv season as is the case with the Bhamo route’.2 J The opening of trade routes with China acquired greater significance in 1873, when the Panthay rebellion in Yunnan ended and Chinese authority was established in Talifu. The Chinese themselves were anxious to revive trade and the Governor of unnan informed Mindon that he hoped routes would at once be mrkSed'>K°0n lAUgu meS °f Chinese muleteers, their animals packed with goods began to pad along the tracks, whilst the Urawaddy Flotilla Company had to put on more steamers on its monthly service from Mandalay to Bhamo and then to make it a

nlSZi"**

* R- G. Liverpool, Webb,

PRELUDE TO EMPIRE

197

fortnightly run. Lord Northbrook, the then Viceroy, wrote to his Ambassador in Peking inquiring what were the chances of the Chinese Government ‘being induced to open out trade’ through Yunnan. Ambassador Wade replied that there was none, that the western and south-western frontiers were ‘as jealously closed as ever’. But the pressure of commercial interests in Burma con¬ vinced the Viceroy of the importance of trade with Yunnan, and the growing threat of French competition. The British business¬ men used this argument to strengthen their case. As events proved, French competition was not such an important factor. French explorations into Yunnan from Tongkingwere regarded suspici¬ ously by the British in Burma, where they were already assuming a monopoly. Gamier, the naval officer, colonial administrator and explorer had found the Mekong unnavigable as a trade route from Saigon to Yunnan in his journey in 1866-8; Charles Dupuis, who, working with Gamier and then with the Chinese as an arms con¬ tractor, had travelled from Yunnan-fu via the Red River to Tongking in 1871. In 1873, Count de Rochechouart, on his way to China had exchanged ratifications of the Commercial Convention concluded by the Kinwun Mingyi in Paris. He left behind in Mandalay two officers, who started out to explore the Burmese Shan States and to find a way via Kenghung and Laos to Tong¬ king. But they both died of fever, and this was the end of that project. The Chief Commissioner realized that if the French found a route from their newly acquired territories in Indo-China to Yunnan, they would challenge British trade between Upper Burma and Yunnan. He told the Viceroy that it was now urgent to pay ‘increased attention to the projects which have so long existed to reach the Western provinces of China through Burma’. He urged a British-Burmese mission to Yunnan, and thought that Mindon would see that this was also to his advantage. ‘No measure would more perfectly assure His Majesty on this point than the appointment of a British Officer as agent or consul at the town of Talifu. If it be possible for the Foreign Office to obtain the consent of the Chinese government to some such appointment, the trade of Western China would be secured to Burma, and through it to British Burma.’1

The forward movement in Upper Burma was given a con¬ siderable fillip in 1874 when Lord Salisbury, who as Lord Cranbourne had sanctioned the expedition to Yunnan in 1867, was 1 India Political and Foreign Proceedings, 18 July 1873.

198

THE MAKING OF BURMA

back again in the India Office. He requested Lord Derby to take up the matter in Peking. Ambassador Wade thereupon obtained passports and the Yamen consented to instruct provincial govern¬ ments to give assistance to a mission. No Burmese was included in this mission, because Wade believed that this might arouse Chinese suspicions. Mindon was informed only when the ‘all clear’ was given in Peking. He at once acquiesced, but said that he had no power to guarantee the mission’s safety in Chinese territory. He persuaded the British to take the Bhamo route instead of that through Hsenwi, where at that moment he was faced with a rebellion. This mission acquired international significance because one of its members, A. R. Margary, was murdered by the Chinese.1 He was a young interpreter who had made a spectacular overland journey from Shanghai to Bhamo. Colonel Browne, the leader of the mission, was attacked by Chinese and forced to return to Burma. The mission failed. The two incidents, which were quite separate, made a bad impression in Upper Burma, where King Mindon at once instructed his Foreign Minister to explain to the British Resident that he had had no hand in the plot and that he would assist any investigation of the affair. In England, the matter was raised in Parliament and an investigation demanded. In Peking, the Yamen, after trying unsuccessfully to meet the situation by its own inquiry, was presented with a series of ultima¬ tums by Ambassador Wade. They practically amounted to an unfriendly action against the Chinese. He justified taking them on his own responsibility by the slowness of communications with London. Several times Wade threatened to break off diplomatic relations, and it seemed as if war would result from the mission to Yunnan. Finally, the Yamen agreed to a joint investigation. Wade was very suspicious; when the British members joined it, the Chinese had already found some renegades, whom they put for¬ ward as the guilty men. Wade demanded a large indemnity and took advantage of his position to add other demands: changes in taxation, trade facilities, the stationing of consular officers and the right of British officers to attend any investigation affecting British persons or property, in the interior of China. Meanwhile, he sent home for reinforcements, and for a time the issue of peace or war was in the balance. Finally, a settlement was made at , 1 Tte J°urn(fl of Augustus Raymond Margary from Shanghai to Manwyne (to which is added a concluding chapter by Sir Rutherford Alcock), London, Macmillan 1876. Also The Margary Affair and the Chefoo Agreement, by S. T. Wang, O.U j ■>I940, who wrote this as a B.Litt. thesis based on the documentaLdbrarjr 6 *n G g •G i-i cot; 60 O

«£ S.sp

.2

fS —

u

03

u J*

cl

"e .a^ «s CJo o o rs o.Sffl — w C3

Chinese frontier matted PnftlOO Ol ClllWW |(.-.r-„

StoJrsKilrr*

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Kamef in Indian M4;, »r;t;w> Barnes uken frau.ChiiKie fcUp. umlrrUord ,n -*d,

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We ee

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T. L. Bit LOCK. J>ait>tary iMS.

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»A*i

MAHOALA

2

Map showing the Chinese frontier as drawn on the Jesuit map of China

(seventeenth century). The thick line is the red line of Chinese frontier.

Extract tram Captain Pemb«rt,m> reap of Trwtia and the adjacent countries, 1833.

riifct®s .-*: nor

-

3

9 Mlusi," ..ti/to Lei Ten Ti TvLrwE m” Lmn Tl Fhe line then follows the Nam Mot (Nan Mai), the Nan Tung (Nam Tung) and the Nam Ta Rivers to Hsing Kang Lei Shan (Loi Makhinkawng). ° (17) From Hsing Kang Lei Shan (Loi Makhinkawng) the line runs eastwards along the watershed between the Nam Nga River and its upper tributaries on the one hand and the Nam Loi River (including

r

^ °ther' *° ^ ^ °f

(18) From the top of kwang Pien Nei Shan (Kwang Peknoi) the line runs generally north-eastwards along the Hue Le (Nam Luk) River and the course of the Nam Nga River as at the time when the

APPENDIX TO CHAPTER XIX

575

boundary was demarcated in the past, to the junction of the Nam Nga and the Lanchang (Mekong) Rivers: thence down the Lanchang (Me¬ kong) River up to the south-eastern extremity of the Burmese-Chinese boundary line at the junction of the Nam La and the Lanchang (Mekong) Rivers. III. The alignment of the entire boundary line between the two countries described in this article and the location of the temporary boundary marks erected by both sides during joint survey are shown on the 1/250,000 maps indicating the entire boundary and on the 1/50,000 maps of certain areas which are attached to the present Treaty. Article VIII The Contracting Parties agree that wherever the boundary follows a river, the midstream line shall be the boundary in the case of an unnavigable river, and the middle line of the main navigational channel (the deepest watercourse) shall be the boundary in the case of navigable river. In case the boundary of river changes it course, the boundary line between the two countries shall remain unchanged in the absence of other agreements between the two sides. Article IX The Contracting Parties agree that: 1. Upon the coming into force of the present Treaty, the MengMao Triangular Area to be turned over to Burma under Article II of the present treaty shall become territory of the Union of Burma; 2. The area of Hpimaw, Gawlum and Kangfang to be returned to China under Article I of the present Treaty and the areas under the jurisdiction of the Panhung and Panlao tribes to be turned over to China under Article II shall be handed over by the Burmese Govern¬ ment to the Chinese Government within four months after the present Treaty comes into force; 3. The areas to be adjusted under Article III of the present Treaty shall be handed over respectively by the Government of one Contracting Party to that of the other within four months, after the present Treaty comes into force. Article X After the signing of the present Treaty, the Burmese-Chinese Joint Boundary Committee constituted in pursuance of the Agreement be¬ tween the two countries of 28 January i960, shall continue to carry out necessary surveys of the boundary line between the two countries, to set up new boundary markers and to examine, repair and remould old boundary markers, and shall draft a protocol setting forth in detail the alignment of the entire boundary line and the location of all the bound¬ ary markers, with detailed maps attached showing the boundary line and the location of the boundary markers. The above-mentioned proto¬ col, upon being concluded by the Governments of the two countries,

576

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

shall become an annex to the present Treaty and the detailed maps shall replace the maps attached to the present Treaty. Upon the conclusion of the above-mentioned protocol, the tasks of the Chinese-Burmese Joint Boundary Committee shall be terminated and the Agreement between the two parties on the question of the boundary between the two countries of 28 January i960 shall cease to be in force. Article XI The Contracting Parties agree that any dispute concerning the Boundary which may arise after the formal delimitations of the boun¬ dary between the two countries shall be settled by the two sides through friendly consultations. Article XII The present Treaty is subject to ratification and the instruments of ratification will be exchanged in Rangoon as soon as possible. The present Treaty shall come into force on the day of the exchange of the instruments of ratification. Upon the coming into force of the present Treaty, all past treaties, exchanged notes and other documents relating to the boundary between the two countries shall be no longer in force, except as otherwise pro¬ vided in Article X of the present Treaty with regard to the Agreement between the two parties on the Question of the Boundary between the Two Countries of 28 January i960. Done in duplicate in Peking on the first day of October i960, in the Burmese, Chinese and English languages, all three texts being equally authentic. (Sd.) MAUNG NU Plenipotentiary of the Union of Burma.

(Sd.) CHOU EN-LAI Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China.

BIBLIOGRAPHY I. Primary Sources

In the India Office Library, London The India Office Library in London is the main repository of un¬ published documentation on the history of Britain’s relations with Burma. This includes the monthly record of correspondence between the Foreign Office, the India Office and British representatives abroad; the record of political proceedings inside Burma and correspondence between officials and the Lieutenant-Governor; monthly records of letters and telegrams exchanged between the British Government, the British Indian Government and the British Government of Burma. Among the many records consulted were: A Factory Records: Miscellaneous. Madras Public Proceedings. Bengal Secret and Political Consultations. ,, ,, ,, ,, Proceedings. India Political Proceedings. India Secret Proceedings. India Political Consultations. India Political and Foreign Proceedings {General). India Foreign Proceedings. Home Miscellaneous Series. Letters from India. Political and Secret Series. Home Correspondence. India. Political (iSgg-iS'jf); Secret (i8jg-i8yf); Political and Secret {i8yg-igo2). Burma Foreign and Political Proceedings i884~i8gg Burma Political Proceedings i8gg-igio. Burma Military and Marine Proceedings, i884~i8gg. Military {confidential) i8gg-igio. India Upper Burma. Political Proceedings. 1886-1888. Reports on the North-East Frontier. igog-ig2j inclusive. B Reports of expeditions and military situations compiled by Intelligence Officers. {Confidential. Unpublished, printed records.) 1. Memorandum on the Eastern frontier of Burma. Captain E. W. Dunn. 1886. 2. Military report on the Kampti-Singpho countries. Major C. R. Macgregor. 3. Report on the operations on the frontiers of Upper Burma. 1889.

578

THE MAKING OF BURMA

4. Report on the Burma-China Boundary between the Taping and the Shweli. Captain H. R. Davies. 1894. 5. Report on the expedition sent with Chinese officers to find the Huchu, Tienma and Hanlung Frontier Gates. Captain H. E. Davies. 1894. 6. Report on the part of Yunnan between the Bhamo frontier and the Salween. Captain H. E. Davies. 1895. 7. Report on a Reconnaisance in the Southern Shan States, i8grj.-i8gg. Captain J. Harvey. 8. Report on the Kachin Hills North-East of Bhamo. Captain G. H. H. Couchman. 1892. 9. Report of Intelligence Officer attached to the Southern Party, BurmaChina Boundary Commission, i8gy-i8g8. Colonel George MoreMolyneux. 10. Report of Intelligence Officer attached to the Northern Party, BurmaChina Boundary Commission, i8g8-i8gg. 11. Report on the Anglo-French Buffer State Commission, i8g4~i8gg. Captain H. B. Walker. 12. Report of an Exploration on the North-Eastern frontier of Burma, March-June i8gy. Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger. 13. Diary of an Intelligence Officer, Jade Mines Escort. Lieutenant E. S. Carey. 1896. 14. Memorandum on the military situation in the Trans-Salween States, i8gy-i8g6. Major E. G. Barrow. 15. Brief Notes on the Was. 1896. 16. Report on the country East of the N’Maikha and North of the Administrative border, Kachin Hills. i8gg-igoo. Captain B. Holloway. 17. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India. Compiled by the Intelligence Branch, Division of the Chief of Staff, Army Head¬ quarters, India. Simla. 1907. Vol. IV. North and North-Eastern frontier tribes. Vol. V. Burma. 18. Reports of Military Police Officers accompanying the Expeditions to the Triangle, ig30-ig3i; ig2g-ig30. Manuscript Collections in the India Office Library

1. Northbrook Collection relating to Indian Affairs of T. G. Baring, 1st Earl of Northbrook, Under-Secretary of State for India, 18 1861 and 1861-1866; Viceroy and Governor-General of India, i8j2-i8j6. MSS. Eur. C.144. 2. Papers of Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple Blackwood, 1st Marquis of Dufferin and Ava. As Viceroy and Governor-General of India, 1884-1888. Microfilm. Reels 516-34. 3. Papers and Correspondence of Richard Assheton Cross, 1st Viscount Cross. As Secretary of State for India in Council, i886-i8g2. MSS. Eur. E.243. 4. Papers of the Marquis of Lansdowne as Viceroy and GovernorGeneral of India, i888-i8g4. MSS. Eur. D.558.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

579

5. Hamilton Collection. Correspondence of Lord George Francis Hamil¬ ton. Under Seeretary-of-State for India, 1872-1876. MSS. Eur. D.508-510. 6. Papers of the gth Earl of Elgin while Viceroy and Governor-General of India, i8g4-i8gg. MSS. Eur. F.84. 7. Correspondence, dated iSgg-igog and igo4 of Sir Hugh Barnes. Foreign Secretary to the Governor of India, igoo-igog. LieutenantGovernor of Burma, igog-igoy. Microfilm. Reel 603. 8. Temple Collection. Papers of Sir Richard Temple. MSS. Eur. F.86. 9. Papers of Sir Richard Carnac Temple. MSS. F.98. 10. Papers of Sir Herbert Thirkell White. MSS. Eur. E.254. 11. Expedition to quell Mholaing Rebellion, l88g. Captain Smith. From Blano. MSS Eur. B.65 (K.526). 12. Minor Collections. Mission to Ava. Ijgy-ijg6. MSS. Eur. 63. (K.I55).. 13. Translation of letter from Rajah of Chittagong. MSS. Eur. E.2. (K.111). 14. Journals of Sir J. G. Scott. MSS. Eur. C.102-14. 15. Col. C. J. O. Fitzgerald’s Diary kept during the campaign of 18861888. Microfilm. Reels 605-6. 16. Catalogue of Burmese Mss. by E. Chevilliot. MSS. Eur. D.452. 17. Report of Journey to Naga Hills by Lt. Col. Macgregor. MSS. Eur. D.517. 18. History of the Chin Hills Battalion, i8g4~ig4g. Started in i8g8 by Capt. G. Tracy Robinson, Assistant Commander, Chin Hills Battalion and continued thereafter by various members of the Battalion till ig4g. MSS. Eur. E.250. II. Unpublished Theses The Burma-China Boundary Since 1886, by Maung Khin Maung Nyunt. Ph.D.Thesis. London University, i960. Anglo-Chinese Diplomacy Regarding Burma, i88$-i8gj, by Iu So Yankit. Ph.D.Thesis. London University, i960. British Interest in Trans-Burma Trade Routes to China, 1826-1876, by Ma Thaung. Ph.D.Thesis. London University. 1954. Strategic Aspects of India’s Foreign Policy, by V. B. C. Sharma. Ph.D. Thesis. London University. 1956. Burma’s Relations with Her Eastern Neighbours in the Konbaung Period, iyg,2-i8ig, by Maung Kyaw Thet. Ph.D.Thesis. London Univer¬ sity. 1950. The Problem of Tibet in Sino-British Relations, by Li Tieh-tseng. Ph.D. Thesis. London University. 1956. Indian External Policy, with Special Reference to the North-west and Eastern Frontiers, i8y6-i8g8, by Damodar Prasad Singhal. Ph.D. Thesis. London University. 1957. Anglo-French Relations with Siam, i88o-igo4, by Dr. B. S. N. Murti. Ph.D.Thesis. London University.

580

THE MAKING OF BURMA

The Conquest, Pacification, and Administration of the Shan States by the British, 1886-1897, by Clarence Hendershot, Ph.D.Thesis. University of Chicago. 1936. III. Parliamentary Publications First Anglo-Burmese War 1. Papers relating to the Burmese War. Presented to both Houses of Parliament. February 1825. 2. Discussions with the Burmese Government. 1812-1824, House of Commons Paper. 360. 3. Treaty with the King of Ava. 1826. 4. Burmese Prize Money. 1827. House of Commons Paper. 534. Second Anglo-Burmese War 1. Papers relating to Hostilities with Burmah {1852). C. 1940. 2. Further Papers relating to Hostilities with Burmah {1853). C. 1608. Third Anglo-Burmese War 1. Correspondence relating to Burmah since accession of King Theebaw. October 1878. C. 4614. 1886. 2. Further correspondence relating to Burmah. C. 4887. 1886. 3. Further correspondence relating to Burmah. C. 4962. 1887. 4. East India (Bombay-Burmah Trading Corporation). Parliamentary Paper. 346. 1889. Commercial Papers 1. East India (Burmah). Copy of Treaty with King of Burmah. 1862. House of Commons Paper 327. 1863. 2. Burmah Commercial Treaty in 1862 between H.M. the King of Burmah and His Majesty's late Viceroy and Governor-General of India and Report of Envoy. House of Commons Paper 300. 1864. 3. Copy of the Report upon the Income and Expenditure of British Burmah. By R. Temple and Lt.Col. H. Bruce, i860. House of Commons Paper 405. 1865. 4. Papers relating to British Burmah. House of Commons Paper 231. 1869. 5. Copy of Major Sladens Report on the Bhamo Route. House of Commons Paper 165. 1871. 6. Copy of Letter from Capt. R. Sprye to Secretary of State for India relating to Trade with Western China direct from Rangoon. House of Commons Paper 341. 1871. 7. Papers connected with the Development of Trade between British Burmah and Western China and with the Mission to Yunnan of 1874-5. C. 1456. 1876. 8. Papers relating to Recent Negotiations between the Governments of India and Burmah. C. 3501. 1883. 9. Treaty between the Court of Ava and France. C. 864. 1873.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

581

Relations with China 1. Mission to Yunnan and attack on Mr. Margary. C. 1422. C.1456. C.1605. C.1712. C.1832. House of Commons Paper 170. 2. Despatch from H.M.’s Minister in China transmitting Convention between H.M. and H.M. the Emperor of China relating to Burmah. Signed Peking. July 24, 1886. C. 4861. 3. Convention between H.M. and H.M. Emperor of China relative to Burmah and Thibet. 1887. C. 5164. 4. Convention between Great Britain and China giving effect to Article III of the Convention of July 24. 1886 relative to Burmah and Thibet. C. 7547. 1894. 5. Convention between Great Britain and China respecting junction of Chinese and Burmese Telegraph Lines. C. 7710. 1895. 6. Agreement between Great Britain and China modifying the Con¬ vention of March I, i8g4 relative to Burmah and Thibet. C. 8654. 1897. 7. Burma-Yunnan Boundary. Exchange of Notes, signed at Nanking April 9, IQ35 between H.M.G. and the Government of India and the Chinese Government regarding the Establishment of a Commission to determine the Southern Section of the Boundary between Burma and Yunnan. C. 4884. 8. Burma-Yunnan Boundary. Exchange of Notes between U.K. Burma and representatives of China regarding Burma-Yunnan Boundary. Chungking. June 18 th, 1941. CMD 7246. 9. Exchange of Notes between H.M.G. in the United Kingdom and the Government of Burma, and the National Government of the Republic of China concerning the Burma-Yunnan Boundary, Chungking. June 18th. 1941. Treaty Series No. 48 (1936). This paper replaces CMD 7246, and is CMD 40. 10. China No 3. (1903). Report by Acting Consul Litton on a Journey in North-West Yunnan. CMD. 1836.

IV.

Official

Publications concerning the Transfer of Power

1. Burma: A

2. 3.

4.

5.

Statement of Policy by His Majesty's Government. May 1945. Cmd. 6635. Frontier Areas Committee of Enquiry. 1947. Report presented to H.M.G. in the United Kingdom and the Government of Burma. Treaty between the Government of Burma and H.M.’s Government in the United Kingdom regarding the Recognition of Burmese Independ¬ ence. Cmd 7240 and Cmd 7360. Conclusions reached in conversations between H.M.G. and Delegation from the Executive Council of the Government of Burma. 1947. Cmd. 7029. Relevant sections of Report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff. By the Supreme Allied Commander, Southeast Asia. 1943-1946. H.M.S.O.

582

THE

MAKING

OF

BURMA

6. Relevant sections in British Military Administration in the Far East x9£?-j946. By F. S. V. Donnison, H.M.S.O. 1945. 7. Parliamentary Debates. V. Bibliographies Until 1956, there was no specialised bibliography on Burma. But a number of historians included a bibliography in their published works, and, for convenience, they have been listed below in chronological order, as well as the two specialized bibliographies edited by Dr. Frank Trager. 1907. The Province of Burma, by Alleyne Ireland. I925- History of Burma, by G. E. Harvey. 1928. Early English Intercourse with Burma, 1587-1743, by D. G. E. Hall. 1942. Modern Burma by J. L. Christian. 1944. Burma and the Japanese Invader (a revised version of Modern Burma with additional bibliography), by J. L. Christian. 1956. Burma Bibliography, edited by Frank Trager. (Human Relations Area Files.) I957- The Union of Burma, by Hugh Tinker. *957- Japanese and Chinese language sources on Burma. An annotated Bibliography, prepared by Frank Trager. (Japanese sources, Hy¬ man Kublin; Chinese sources, Lu-Yu Kiang; Human Relations Area Files). 1958. A History of Modern Burma, by John F. Cady.

Index Abbona, Father Paulo, 147-9, 155,169 Adamson, Captain, 345 Adamson, Mr. H. (later Sir Harvey),

495, 502-3 Adung Wang Valley, 509 A.F.P.F.L. (Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League), 527, 530, 535 Agreements (see also Treaties, Con¬ ventions), boundary (i960), 536, text, 562-6; Chefoo (1876), 199, 266, 273; Franco-British (1896), 315-16; Simla (1914), 512; Western Karennee (1875), 212 Ahkyang Kha, 479, 504, 509 Alaungpaya, King, British and French, 2; British mission, 33; Campaign against Mons, 32; Letter to King George II, 34, 35, 37; Negrais massacre, 37-9; Treaty with E.I. Company, 36 Allan, Major, 159-60, 162, 205 Alves, Captain, 38-9 Amarapura, 56, 57, 117, 118, 119 Amherst, Lord, 60-1, 67, 68 Anderson, Dr., 187 Anglo-Chinese convention, 1886, 272-3 Anglo-French Buffer Commission, 309-11 Annam, 229, 296 Annexation, campaign, 230-46; dis¬ cussion, 1867, 184-5; pressure com¬ mercial interests, 216 An Pass, 73 An Route (also Aeng), 93-9 Antonio, 38-9 Appendices, 540-66. Arakan, Burmese occupation, 45-56; cession of, 80; Kingbering, 54-7; Maha Bandula, 73; Raja of, 46, 51, 58, 61, 62, 65; refugees, 4546; routes to Ava, 93-5 Archer, W. J., 300, 324 Argyll, Duke of, 196 Armenians, 39, 50 Assam, Burmese occupation, 59; Burmese retreat, 77; Dzayul Valley, 508-9; Irrawaddy, 282; Nanchao, 13-14; N’Maikha-Salween water¬ shed, 507-8, 509; Rajah of Arakan, 61; rivalry on frontier, 62-4, 69; routes to Ava, 91, 93; routes to

Yunnan, 172-3, 194-5, 200-1, 274, 179; Singphos, 84; South Lushai Hills transferred, 419; Yandabo Treaty, 80 Auckland, Lord, 116 Aung San, Bogyoke, 520 Ava, Baker’s Mission, 33; British representative, 115; Burney’s with¬ drawal, 114; Canning’s Mision, 52-4; Fleetwood’s Mission, 28; Fytche’s mission, 185; Hukawng Valley route, 87-93; King and First Anglo-Burmese War, 120-53; Limbin Confederacy, 299; Phayre’s mission, 175; Richardson’s visit, 105-7; Syme’s missions (1st) 41-4; (2nd) 45-51; Throne, 246, 262-3; Yule’s mission, 159-60 Bagyidaw, King, 70 Baker, Captain George, 33-4 Bandung, 524 Banerjee, Mr. A. C., 121 Barnard, J. T. O., 510 Barton, Mr., 470 Bassein, 39-40, 143, 169 Ba Swe U, boundary terms, 531-2, 533; Chou En Lai’s reply, 535, Mangshih Conference, 530-1; Pre¬ mier, 527; visit to China, 534 Ba-t’ang, 514 Bawdwin (Bau-dwen) silver mines, in Bayfield, Dr. G. T., 45, 112 Bell, Sir Charles, 514 Benson, Colonel, 115-16 Bentinck, Lord William, 95-8 Bernard, Charles (later Sir Charles), annexation, 230-231; Buddhist hier¬ archy, 260; Burmese concessions, 224-5; Burmese monopolies, 220; Post-annexation 275; Shan States, 423 Bhamo (also Bamo), Chinese claims, 271, 273, 519; Chinese troops, 268; Chinese relations, 276; Gen¬ eral Prendergast, 268, 336; im¬ portance, 268; Mindon’s attitude, 169; Namkhan Road, 293, 476-8; pacification, 241, 336, 351-2; rising, 375-7; trade with China, 27, 89, 174. 177, 187-9, 234

584

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Bibliography, 577-82 Bhutan frontier, 511 -12 Bisa Gam, 92 Bissett, Lieutenant, 93 Blacker, J., 83 Blundell, Commissioner, 105, 120 Bo, Maung, 166-7, 346 Bombay Club, 199 Bodawpaya, King, Arakan, 45; British troops, 49; Canning’s Mission, 53-7; Mughs, 58-9; Symes’s mis¬ sion, 50-2 Bogle, Colonel, 136-7 Bombay-Burma Corporation, Bern¬ ard’s views, 232-3; Burmese En¬ voy’s letter, 234-5; relations with Theebaw, 232-3, 236, 251; Times correspondent, 239 Bo Pada, 345 Bo Po, 371 Bo Ti, 360 Bowers, Captain A., 187-8 Bowerman, Brigadier J. F., 519 Brenan, Consul, 248 Brown, Mr. J., 120 Browne, Colonel, 198 Burgess, Mr. G. D., 341 Burma-China boundary, Conference (1892-4), 284-95; Convention (1894). 295; Convention revised (1897), 330-i; Demarcation Joint Commission, 455-6; Frontier Con¬ ference brief, 279; Policy Memo¬ randum, 277; post-1941 account, 518-39; rival claims, 456-517 Burma Corporation, 470 Burne, Sir Owen, Burmese-Chinese missions, 258-60; monopoly of Burma policy, 228-9; reply to protests, 238-9 Burney, Captain George, accompanied Burmese Mission to Calcutta, 94-6 Burney, Captain Bayfield (later Major), 45, 93; Burmese mission to Calcutta, 94-6; Hannay’s mission, 91; Kubo (Kubaw) Valley, 97-8; Resident, 87; Tenasserim, 100-2; withdrawal from Ava, 114; Yandabo Treaty, 112-15 Bweman Village, 384 Cachar, 59, 62, 63 Calcutta, Burmese mission, 94-6, 98; Burney’s report, 114; Mindon’s mission, 156-8 Campbell, Sir Archibald, 69-80 Canning, Lieutenant John (later Captain), 52-8, 69

Carey, B. S., Chin-Manipur Bound¬ ary Commission, 416; Nwengals, 412-13; Political Officer, ChinLushai Expedition, 387-95; Siyins, 397, 4°7-n, 4i7, 418; Tashons, 405-7; Thetta, 418 Carnegy, Captain, 402 Caulfield, Captain, 409-10 Chamdo, 508, 513 Chang Ch’en Sun, 327, 466, 471, 502 Chang Ch’ien, 11, 12 Chao Erh-feng, 508-9 Chaukan Pass, 509 Cheape, Brigadier-General Sir J., 164 Cheduba, 80 Chefoo Agreement, 199, 266, 273 Chen, Shu-peng, 524 Ch’en I-fan (Mr. Ivon Chen), 511-12 Chen Pien, 463 Ch’en Yu-k’o, Mr., 470 Chiang Kai-shek, 519 Chimeli Pass, 503 China, Anglo-Chinese Convention, 1894, 284-95, revised, 1897, 32931; Bhamo, 336; concessions to France, 324-8; Early contacts, 1214; frontier claims, 522-4; frontiers, Wa States, 456-78; N’Maikha-Salween watershed, 478-507; TibetoBurman, 507-17; Kachins, 276, 280-1, 283, 286-7, 292, 354-5, 3657, 376-8; Kachin villages, 528-38; Keng Hung, 318-20, 325; Keng Ma, 323; A. D. Margary, 198; Mengko, 323; Mengtung, 323; Mong Lem, 318-23; missions to Burma, 119; Namwan Assigned Tract, 456, 475-8, 519, 523, 531-8; Tibet, 274, 275, 284; trade, 102-12, 171-3, 175, 176-7, 183, 186, J94-7, 199-200, 234, 236; tribute, 16, 247-67; troops in Wa area, 524-7; Union of Burma, 520-39 Chinboks, 395 Chindwin, 380 Chingpaws, 355, 377 Ch’ing, Prince, boundary proposals, 467-8, 487, 495-6; British policy, 261; interview with O’Conor, 324-5 Chins, Administration, 419-21; Chin¬ ooks, 395; Chin-Lushai Expedi¬ tion, 387-97; Hakas, 380, 402, 405; Haka village, 401-3; Kanhaws, 384-7, 39o-i, 399-401, 408; Krum, 420-1; Klang-klangs, 402, 4x5, 420; Nwengals, 406-15; Pimpi, 394, 408; Sagyilains, 391; Siyins, 380, 381, 383-6, 391, 393-5, 397-99, 405,

INDEX Chins—cont. 407-11, 420; Sokte, 399-401; Tashons, 380-2, 384, 386-7, 393, 404, 411; Thetta, 399, 401-4; Thetta village, 418-19; Tiddim, 380, 385, 399-400, 410-12, 419; Toklaing, 384-6, 416; Wethet, 395-6; Yokwas, 388 Chin Kup, Chief, 410, 414 Chin-Lushai Expedition, 387-97 Chin-Manipur Boundary Commis¬ sion, 416 Chipwi (also Chipwe, Chipway, Shippwe) boundary, 482, 497; Chinese, 485, 492-3, 504; Hertz, 501; Pottinger, 480 Chittagong, 54, 60-1, 380-2, 387, 389, 39o; column, 388, 392; Mayor of, 46, 65 Cholmeley, N. G., 375 Chou En-lai, boundary exchange, 468; Boundary Treaty, 538; Gen¬ eral Ne Win, 535-6; Kachins, 502; U Ba Swe, 530-2; U Ba Swe and U Kyaw Nyein, 534; U Nu, 524, S27, 529, 532, 537; i94i line, 528 Churchill, Lord Randolph, annexa¬ tion policy, 250-1, 253; annexation proclaimed, 245; Burmese status, 243-4; Chinese acquiescence, 2601; commercial pressure, 233-4; Dufferin’s views, 230; French policy, 237; Peace resolution, 238; Shan States, 270; sharing Burma, 227-8 Churchill, Sir Winston, 245 Clague, Mr. J., 474 Clark Kerr, Sir Archibald, 475 Cobden, Richard, Lambert criticised, 136; opposition to war, 144-5; pamphlet, How Wars are got up in India, 122-3 Cochin-China, 296 Colquhoun, A. R., 199-200 Conti, Nicoli di, 16 Conventions, Anglo-Chinese (1886), 267, 272-4, 275, 283-4, 317, 508; Anglo-Chinese (1894), 294-5, 296, 320, 476, 495; Commercial and Consular (1885); 296-7; Lhasa (1906), 508 Cooke, Captain (later Lieut.-Colonel,) 337 Cooke-Hurle, Lieutenant E. F., 36970 Cooper, Mr. T. T., 195-6 Cotton, General (later Sir Arthur), 76, 194 Couchman, Captain G. H. H., 362-7

585

Couper, Sir George;, 134, 135 Cranbourne, Lord (later Lord Salis¬ bury), 9, 183-4 Crawfurd, Mr. John, 112, 122 Crisp & Co., 125 Cross, Lord, 282, 361 Crosthwaite, Sir Charles, Chin cam¬ paign, 386-7; Chinese frontier, 336; Dufferin’s advice, 275; Dur¬ bar, 439; ruby mines, 339; Sawlai, 442 Cruz, Edward de, 57 Currie, Hon. Sir F., 127-8, 135 Currie, Sir Philip, 263-5, 273 Curzon, Lord, ‘Forward’ policy, 508; Sir George Scott, 463; TibetoBurman border, 513 Cutting, Suydam, 507 Dacca, 54 Daffa, Gam, 92 Dalai Lama, 514 Dalhousie, Lord, Burma policy, 121, Commodore Lambert, 123-4, I34. 540-7; Karenee, 162, 205; King’s reply, 129-30; Mindon’s mission, 156-8; Minute, 127-8, 135-8, 5405; Pegu, 143-4; Phayre, 151, 166, 175; Spears, 169-70; TempleBrace mission, 174; Treaty with Ava, 150-3; Yule mission, 159-60 Dallah, Governor of, 132-3 Dalrymple, 27, 31 Daly, Lieutenant, Chinese influence, 318-22; Superintendent, N. Shan States, 353, 423-4; Wa States, 320-2, 447; Upper Burma reports, 281, 286 Danubyu, 73, 75 Davies, Captain H. R., 476-7 De, Nga Than, 46 Deloncle, M., 297, 323-4 Dent, Lieutenant, W. H., 367 Derby, Lord, 198 Desai, Mr. W. S., 120-1 Diphu Pass (also called Talok), 511,

5H

Dod, Captain Peter, 27 Doktaung, 391-2, 408-9 Donnison, F. S. V., 518-9 Dowsan, 381 Draper, Mr., 470 Duff, Inspector, 371-2, 480 Dufferin, Lord, annexation, 3, 232, 243-4; Buddhist hierarch, 260; Crosthwaite, 275; French policy, 229, 323; Hlutdaw abolished, 246; Mandalay, 245-7; Shan States, 423-5; tributary status, 263

586

THE MAKING OF BURMA

Duncan, Colonel, 213 Dutch, the, 23, 26, 40 Dwom Tulee, 105 Dzayul Valley, 508 East India Company, 1, 24, 25, 68, 80, 122 Eden, Sir Ashley, 260 Edwards, Mr., 130-1 Elias, Ney, 304 Eliott, Lieutenant L. E., Bhamo surveys, 278; Chinese influence, 285-6; pacification, 350, 355-6, 446-7 Ellenborough, Lord, Myat-Htoon, 163-4; Opposition to war, 122, 125, 136; Tenasserim, 100 Elliot, Sir Henry, 123 Endeavour, the, 25 Erskine, General, 45 Esmok, 109 Exchange of Notes between the United Kingdom and Burma, with China (1941), 475, 535 Falam, 391, 405-6 Farukhabad, 96 Faunce, Brigadier (later

General),

383-5

Fedden, Francis, 182 Ferry, M. Jules, British warning, 222; Burmese mission, 224-5; Com¬ mercial and Consular Convention, 296-7; ‘Forward policy’, 229; re¬ placed by de Freycinet, 229 Fen-shui Leng Pass, 499, 504 Fitch, Ralph, 21-2 Fleetwood, Edward, 28-9 Forest, Henry, 24 Forestier-Walker, Major M., 406 Forsyth, Sir Douglas, 211-13 Fort Hertz (Putao), 521 Fort White, 385, 387, 405-n Fowler, Mr. E. D., 408-9 France, Anglo-French claims re¬ conciled, 331; Anglo-French Con¬ vention, ’331; Anglo-French rivalry, 194, 222-3, 296-8; British warnings, 222; Burmese mission, 223-4; Franco-Burmese Treaty, 228-9; Franco-Chinese Treaty, 1895, 3248, 476; Mekong claims, 305-6; M. Deloncle’s claims, 323-5; Min¬ ute Paper, ‘France and Burma’, 226; Myosa of Keng Cheng, 304-15; spheres of influence, 227-8 Frederick, Caesar, 19-21 French, the, 50-2, 53 de Freycinet, M., 225-7, 237

Frontier Arms Committee of En¬ quiry. 452 Fytche, Captain (later Sir A.), Bhamo route, 179; Burmese mission, 1901; Commercial Treaty, 175-6; mission to Ava, 185; Rebellion, 146; Sladen’s schemes, 188; Sprye plan, 173; Treaty of 1867, 185 Fryer, Sir Frederick, 49 Fu Chio-chin, Dr., 521 Gambhir Singh, 77-8, 97 Gamier, Lieutenant, 197 Gawlum, see Hpimaw Area Geary, Gratton, 240-1 George, Mr. E. C., 481 Germany, 236 Godwin, Lieutenant, 72 Godwin, Lieut-General, 141-2, 144, J5° Govind Chunder, 63 Grant, Captain (later Major), 98 Greenhill and Gurney, 26 Grey, Sir Edward, 512-13 Griffiths, Dr., 92-3 Grose, Mr. F. S., 474 Guardian, the (Rangoon), 526-6 Gyee, Maung Khoung, 167-9 Gyi, Meung Pa, 380 Hakas, see Chins Halderman, Minister-Resident J. A., 216 Hall, Dr. D. G. E., 29, 45, 121, 166 Halhday, Mr., 133, 139 Hannay, Captain, 88-93 Harrison, Lieutenant Sadon, 357-60, 364 Hart, Sir Robert, Bhamo, 267; Mar¬ quis Tseng, 251; Sir Owen Bume, 260; Telegrams re-annexation, 2495°. 253, 254; Tsung-li Yamen, 249, 252 riartington, Lord, 219 Hausun, 397-8 Hendershot, Dr. C., 442 Hertz, H. F. Hobday Line, 292-3; Hpare incident, 483, 554-61; Kachin Hills Expedition, 362-3' 368; N’maikha-Salween watershed, 484

Hertz, W. A., Hpimaw, 497; Hispaw Expedition, 446 Higginson, Governor, 29 High Conical Peak, 456, 529 Hildebrand, A. H., 304, 436, 438, 440 Himalayas, 508 Hkam Leng (see also Kan Hlaing), 345-8, 351-2, 354

INDEX Hkampti Long, 509-10, 514 Hkamti Shans, 510 Hkun Saing, Sawbwa of Hsipaw, 42632, 445 Hkun Ti, Sawba of Mong Pawn, 437 Hla Maung, Ambassador U, 528, 535 Hlutdaw, Bombay-Burma Corpora¬ tion, 232; Chinese document, 276; Chinese relations, 264, Dufferin abolishes, 245-6; Fleetwood, 29; McLeod, 118; Prendergast and Sladen, 241; Symes, 44 Hmethaya Prince, 346-7 Hoare, Sir Samuel, 470 Hobday, Major, Chinese control, 281, 285-6; Kachin Expedition, 355; Map, 279, 291-3, 363, 365 Hoche, General, 338 Honamnawng, 446 Hopong, 437 Howchin Kup, Chief, 410, 414 Howsum, 381 Hpala, 497 Hpare (Chinese name, Pailai), Chinese claim, 495; Incident, 483, 554-61; Litton’s report, 493-4 Hpimaw area (Chinese name, Pienma); includes Kangfang and Gawlum), Archibald Rose, 499-500; Chinese claims, 502, 528, 529, 531, 532; Expedition, 501-2; General Ne Win, 535-6; Incident, 498-9; Kach¬ in opposition, 528-9, 530-1, 536-7; F. Kingdon-Ward, 503-4; Litton’s report, 493-4; Pottinger, 479; J. K. Stanford, 505-7; W. Stark Toller, 507; Transfer Agreement, 538; U Ba Swe, 530-1, 533; U Ba Swe and U Kyaw Nyein in Peking, 530; Dr. Wang 469-70; Withdrawal troops, 530 Hsenwi, 432 Hsenwi, Sawbwa of, 427 Hsiaochang, see Ngaw Chang Hsipaw, Sawbwa of (see Hkun Saing), 426-32, 445 Hsong Ramang (also Songra-mang), 525 Hsuang-chuang, 13-14 Hsueh map, 460-1 Htawgaw, 504 Htensan, 380 Htoot, U Tet, 35, 38 Hukawng Valley (also Hukong), Ad¬ ministration, 288; Chinese opposi¬ tion, 515-16; Hannay expedition, 88-93; route to Ava, 87; Singphos, 9i

Hunlungkwan, 290-1

587

India, 228, 265, 269, 524 Indin, 381-2 Indo-Chinese Peninsula, 227, 238, 298 Inge Kham, 360 Inleywa, 423 International and Peace Association, 238 Irrawaddy, Britain and China, 27595; Chinese claims, 286-7, 289; Chinese halted, 296; Chinese post, 270-1, 283; Column, 355-9; Flotilla Company, 176, 179, 186, 189, 219; route to China, 176, 178 Iselin Commission, 472-5, 551-4 Isu Razi Pass, Burmese proposals, 528-9; Frontier marked, 514; Simla Conference map, 511 Italy, 194, 236 Jaintia, 59 Japanese, 518-19 Jenkins, Captain, 99 Johnston’s Atlas, Keith, 279 Jordan, Sir John, 513-14 Judson, Dr., 115-16 Kachins (also spelt Kakhyen), Bhamo, 178, 378; British policy, 278-9, 280, 373-4; chiefs, 275-6; Chinese claims, 523-4, 535; Chinese contacts, 277-8, 281, 286; Kaukkwe Column, 369-70; Mong Mit and Mong Lem, 345-8; Myitkyina, 378-9; N’Maikha operations, 371-2; north¬ eastern column, 361-9; Opposition Boundary Agreement, 528, 529, 530, 536, 537-8; pacification, 33579; Ponkan, 352-4; punitive ex¬ peditions, 348-51 (from Mogaung), 351-2 (from Bhamo); Sana Column, 374-5; Sinkan Column, 371; Slad¬ en, 188; spheres of influence, 289; Triangle, 516-17 Kaikam, 408, 417 Kakhyen, see Kachin Kala Maung, 337 Kale, Sawbwa of, 382 Kale State, 380 Kalemyo, 380-1 Kalewa, 383 Kambale, 383 Kamti (Khamti), 84, 279 Kangfang (also spelt Gangfang and Khangpfang), see Hpimaw area. Kanhows, see Chins Kanhlaing (also Hkam Leng), 345-8, 351-2, 354 Kanlyang Pass, 480 Kaptyal, 408, 412-13

588

THE

MAKING

Karennee (also Karenni), Eastern, 205-9, 213, 216, 306, 439-42; independence, 206; Richardson, 104; Western, 205-12, 215 Karens, 161-2, 211 Karmlung, 413 Karwan, 353-4 Katha, 342, 344-5 Kaukkwe Column, 369-70 Kawn Kiao Intaleng, Sao, 303 Kemmendine, 72-4 Keng Cheng, France, Britain and Siam, 304-415 Keng Hung (also spelt Kaing Hung), Anglo-Chinese Convention, 317; cession, 295, 320, 324, 476; Chinese claims, 288, 320; Daly Expedition, 318-19; McLeod, 109-n; tribute, 282-3 Keng Ma, 323 Keng Tawng, 443 Keng Tung (also spelt Kengtung and Kiang Tung), Limbin Confederacy, 422, 435; Chinese, 520; McLeod, 108-11; Siam, China and France, 298-304; sovereignty, 298 Khrum, 420-1 Kiddle, Major, 462 Kimberley, Lord, annexation pres¬ sure, 232-3 ; Burmese in Paris, 223 ; Chinese Memorandum, 325 ;French Convention, 327; French docu¬ ment, 323; negotiations, 291; par¬ tition, 288 Kingbering (Chin Pyan), 54-8 Kingdon-Ward, Frank, 503-4, 507 Kinwun Mingyi, Deloncle, 323-4; Forsyth mission, 212; letter to Vice¬ roy, 1879, 217-19; mission to Eng¬ land, 1872, 192-3; mission to Paris, 1873, 296; Strover, 208 Kiozo, Seree Nunda, 45-6 Klangklangs, 380, 402-4, 420 Kokang, 288, 292, 295, 322 Kokine, 75 Konglu, 510 Kong-ming-shan, 465, 473 Koonsha, 205, 210 Koon Tee, 205, 208, 209, 210 Koset, 384 Kower, Raja Gunder, 86 Kubo Valley (also spelt Kubaw), Burmese demands, 84; conference in Calcutta, 97-8; returned to Burma, 98; Wuntho Sawbwa, 339-40

Kukis, 414 Kumlao Tract, 480 Kungming Shan, 465, 473

OF

BURMA

Kunlong, 295 Kun San Ton Hon, 432-4 Kuomintang, 523 Kuppow, Chief, 417 Kwoon Koon, 394 Kyaw Nyein, U, 427, 534-5 Kyay-pho-gyee, 205 Labong, 103 Lalwe, 415, 420 Lambert, Commodore, Dalhousie’s minute, 135-7, 54°-7; Dalhousie’s ultimatum, 139; deputation to Governor, 130-1; disobeys orders, 125-32; hostilities commenced, 133; instructions, 123; Phayre, 150 Langham-Carter, R. R., 161 Lansdowne, Lord, 279, 298, 487 Laos, 104, 296 Lashio, 447, 477, 525 Lashis, 372 Latter, Captain, 126, 130, 132 Laukkang, 507, 518 Laurie, Lieutenant William, 133 Lawk Sawk, Sawbwa of, 436-7 Lawrence, Sir John, 183 Laza, 510 Leonard, P. M. R., 516 Lepper, Mr., 200 Lester, Ensign, 36 Lethbridge, Colonel, 505 Liang Yu-kao, 474 Li Chao Yuen, 327 Li Tieh-tseng, 524 Lienpunga, 390 Limbin Confederacy, 299, 425, 435-7; Prince, 299, 424, 428-9, 434-8 Lishaws (also Lisus), 510 Litton, G. J. L., Boundary Com¬ mission, 491; Chinese claims, 48990, 494; Meng Turn, 462; report, 466-7; Salween-Irrawaddy water¬ shed, 494-5; Teng Yueh, 489 Liu, General, 458, 463-5. 477 Liu-Chen Line, 473 Lloyd, Major, 209-10 Lofenglu, Sir C., 483-4 Lohit River, 511 Loikaw, 440 Loilon, pacified, 449, 450; resistance, 45i Loing, U, Lonchen Shatra, the, 512-13 London, 192, 223-34 Lone, Major Shan, 538 Longe, Major, 329 Lowis, Hon J., 127-8, 136 Lufang, 470 Lunno, 446

INDEX

Lushai Hills, 406-7 Lushais, 408 Lyen Kam, 385 Lyons, Viscount, British Ambassador in Paris, 222-4, 234. 238, 296 Lytton, Lord, 214 Macartney, Sir Halliday, adviser, Chinese Legation, 248; AngloChinese discussions, 260-5 ; Bhamo, 268, 283; Burma-China Confer¬ ence 1892-4, 284-93; Bume, 260; Salisbury, 256; supports Chinese claims, 270; Trans-Salween States, 273, 284 Macaulay, Colman, 272 McCosh, Dr. John, 195 Macdonald, Sir Claude, 465, 481-2, 487 McKenzie, Sir A., 298 McLeod, Lieutenant (later Captain) W. C., 105-12, 118-20 McMahon, Major, 190-1 McMahon, Sir A. H., Line, 511-12, 514, 529; Lonchen Shatra, 511, 512; Simla Conference, 511 McNabb, Lieutenant, 402-3 Maha, Sao (also Saw), 321, 446, 448 Maha Bandula, Arakan campaign, 70-1; Danubyu, 76-7; GovernorGeneral, 67;Rangoon, 71-6 Maingy, A. D., 102-3 Malikha, River, Chinese influence, 281, 286, 287, 288, 481; explora¬ tion, 509-10 Malun, 166 Manangpum, 496 Manao Column, 525 Mandalay, Bhamo, 187; Brititsh Resident, 189, 216-17, 218; British ultimatum, 234; Buddhist Hierarch, 260; capital, 154; Chinese popula¬ tion, 276; fall, 239; Feudatory Prince, 423; Irrawaddy Flotilla Co., 189; Jules Ferry, 229; mas¬ sacres, 231; occupation, 247; Prendergast, 237 Mangleun Convention, 1894, 323; Daly’s expedition, 320-1; Sawbwa, 32i, 323, 446-7 Mang Lon, 391, 409 Mang Shih, 530 Manipur, 59, 155, 230 Manwyne, 276 Margary, A. R., 198 Martaban, 137, 143 Martini, Mr., 343, 374-5 Master, Sir Streynsham, 26 Matet, 446-7

5^

Matun, Sawbwa, 336 Maung, Dr. Maung, 192, 222 Maung, Thakin Chit, 536 Mawk Mai, Sawbwa of, 435, 440 Maymyo, 318, 320 Meeaday (also see Myede), 148-9, 152, 155-6, 160 Mekong, River, 108, 183, 229, 296, 300, 456 Meng Ko, 323 Meng Tung, 323 Meng Turn, 462 Mergui, 99 Methwold, William, 24 Middlesbrough Society of Friends, 238 Mindon, King, crowned, 148; Dalhousie, 157-8; East Karennee, 205-6, 213-14; Forsyth mission, 212-13; Fytche, 191; Margary, 198; mission to Calcutta, 156-8; mission to Europe, 191-4, 296; Peace Group, 146-7; peace terms, 149; Peace Treaty, 151-3, 160, 205; Phayre, 149, 151, 175; resistance, 166; Sconce and Watson, 181; Sladen, 188-9, 201; Spears, 155, 156, 168, 169, 170; Striver, 207-8, 210; West Karenee, 205-13; Wil¬ liams, 176, 177-8; Yule mission, 159-60 Mogaung, 88-90, 276, 348-SL 354, 378-9

Mogaung, Governor of, 88-9 Mok-mai, 105 Mole, River (also Mohlay), 289-90 Momein, 103, 276 Mong Hsing, 305-15 Mong Lem (also Meung Lem), Chinese claims, 317-20; Chinese policy, 282, 288; Convention, 1894, 324, 330, 476; Daly’s expedition, 320-1; excluding French, 298; Sawbwa, 448; Warry’s proposal, 322

Mong Leng, 345 Mong Mit, 345 Mong Nai, 300, 425, 435; Sawbwa of, 435, 437-8 Mong Pai, Sawbwa of, 180-1 Mong Pawn, 435 Mons, 32-3, 75 Motlei, 446 Moulmein, 103-5, 179, 271 Moung Shway Gyee, Tseetkay, 211 Mountbatten, Admiral, 518 Muang Ma, no Muang, U, 324 Mughs, 56-9

590

THE

MAKING

Myat-htoon, Captain Smith, 548-50; Phayre, 163-85 Myaw Hke Nawng, 359 Myede (see also Meeaday), 166, 169 Myingyan, 239, 240 Myitkyina Airfield, 518; Chinese claims, 521, 523; Chinese influence, 286; expeditions, 510; rising, 3789; settled, 377 Myngoon prince, 228 Myint Thein, Justice U, 533-4 Naaf, River, 45, 46 Naga Hills, 452, 515 Namkha, 457 Namkhan, Bhamo, 291, 293, 294; District, 434; Namwan Triangle, 329-30 Namtu—Bawdwin Mines, 470 Namwan Assigned Tract, border conferences, 477-8; Chou En-lai talks, 531-8; rent fixed, 477; rent payments 519, 522; terms, 456; 1894 Agreement, 294 Namyaw, 362 Nation, the, 526-7 Naungdawgyi, 39 Nawhkam, U, 447-51 Naw Hseng, Sawbwa of Loi Lon, 447; Scott, 449-51 Nawkataung, 414 Nawngma, 477 Negrais, Expedition, 31; massacre, 37-40; occupied, 28; settlement, 32, 34, 36 Nehru, Prime Minister, 527 Neufville, Lieutenant J. B., 83-7 New Benzeek, 78 Ne Win, General, 535-6 Ngma Hmat, 343 Ngawchang alley (Chinese name, Hsiao Chang), Chinese claims, 478, 485, 490-4; Hertz Expedition, 501; Pottinger 478 Ngeklet, 446 Ngek Te, 450 Ngekting, 446, 451 Nikwe, Chief, 406-7 Njamjang, River, 511 N’Kram, 367-8 N’Krang, 367 N’Maikha, Burmese administration, 287; Chinese authority, 281, 494; Chinese claims, 504, 506; frontier, 278, 286, 486; Pottinger, 478, 480 N’Maikha—Salween watershed, Brit¬ ish policy, 482, 485, 494-6; Burmans, 15; Chinese claims, 481, 487, 489-90, 521; Chinese policy, 483,

OF

BURMA

484, 487-8, 496; Chinese troops, 484, 486; Hpimaw Expedition, 498-500; Litton, 489, 492-3; Sur¬ vey, 509-10; Young, 509; U Nu, 529 Norman, General, 241 Norrins, Martin, 473 Northbrook, Lord, 197 Northcote, Sir Stafford, 185 North-east column, 361-9 Northern Theinni (also Hsenni), 288, 292 Noton, Captain, 70 Nu, U, Boundary Agreement, 538-9; Chinese ambitions, 523; Chou Enlai, 527, 529-30, 532; Kachin villages, 498, 502, 528, 529, 530, 532; Namwan Assigned Tract, 522, 533, Nehru, 527; Peking talks, 524, 536; Wa, 468 Nungs, 510 Nwengal Column, see Chins Nwengals, see Chins Nyaung-Ywe (also Nyaung Shwe), Dr. Richardson, 106, 112; Sawbwa, 215,425-6 Nyunt, Dr. Khin Maung, 331 Oberlander, 469 O’Conor, N. (later Sir N.), Chinese cessions to France, 325-8; tele¬ grams from Peking: (i) frontiers, 267-74, (ii) tribute, 247-67; TransSalween States, 273, 317 O’Donnell, Captain, 349-50 Ok, Maung, 123, 130 Oo-Noung, 183 O’Riley, Captain, 161-2, 181, 205, 208 Pagan, Anawrahta, 15; building, 15; fall, 16 Paget, General Sir Edward, 67 Pahpoon, 214 Pailai see Hpare Palmer, General, 411 Panghung-Panglao, 532-3 Panglong, 469, 470 Panhung, 470, 471, 473 Pank’Uang, 470 Pan Lao, 472 Pan Lung, 471, 473 Pansenkha, 480 Panthay Rebellion, 190, 196, 259 Panwa Pass, 504 Parkes, Harry S., 268 Patkoi Range, 90 Pavie, Auguste, Mong Hsing, 325; Myosa of Mong Hsing, 310-15; Scott, 310-15

INDEX

Pe, Dr. Hla, 6 Pearl Harbour, 518, 521 Peam, Professor B. P., 175, 180-1 Pechell, P. W. Magistrate of Chitta¬ gong, 54 Pegu, annexation, 142-3, 147-52; Burmese officials, 163; Caesar Frederick, 19-20; frontier with Ava, 160-1, 169; Mindon, 155; Ralph Fitch, 21; trading centre, 18; Viceroy, 51-2, 67 Peile, Major S. C. F., 369 Peking Gazette, 258, 259, 260, 277, 317; General Ne Win, 535-6; Justice U Myint Thein, 533; Treaty, 196; tribute, 257-8; U Hla Maung, 528; U Nu, 527, 538-9 Pemberton, Captain R. B. (later Major), 89, 98-9 Peng, General, 513 Pereira, Joao, 26-7 Phayre, Captain (later Sir Arthur), Annexation Pegu, 147-53; Com¬ mercial Treaty, 175; Dalhousie, 162, 166, 167; Myat-Htoon, 163-5; resistance, 165, 166; Spears, 168; Sprye Plan, 173 Phillipe, Lieutenant de Rhe, 71 Pienma, see Hpimaw Pilcher, Mr., Burmese Missions, 259; Shan States, 423-7 Pimpi Chins, see Chins Pomba, 409 Ponkan, Sawbwa, 352-4 Po Saw, 377, 348, 360 Po Thein, 343 Pottinger, Lieutenant Eldred, 478-80 Prendergast, General, annexation, 235, 237; Armistice, 239-40; Bhamo, 241, 268, 335 Price, Mr., 80 Prome, Dalhousie, 144; fall, 145; Godwin, 144; Mons, 32; Tarleton, 142; Whitehill, 37 Putao (Fort Hertz), 379, 510, 514, 517 Raikes, Captain (later Major), 380-3; 386 Rainey, Lieutenant, 395-6 Ramree, Rajah of, 58 Ramu, 70, 80 Rangoon, annexation campaign, 230, 242; Bombay-Burma Corporation, 239; Boundary talks, 529, 531, 534, 537; British Resident, 44, 115; Burney, 114; Canning, 52-3, 55, 57; Chin Chiefs, 404, 415; First Anglo-Burmese War, 70-8; Founded, 33; French, 40-1; Hsipaw

591

Sawbwa, 426-7; King Tharawaddy, 120; McLeod, 118; Second AngloBurmese War, 123-47; Symes, 49; Times correspondent, 239 Rangpur, 69, 84 Red River route, 230 Richardson, Dr., Ava, 107, 112; journeys from Moulmein, 103-6; trade with China, 171 Rip, Duwa Zau, 530 Ripon, Lord, 183, 221 Robert, Captain V. G., 516 Rochechouart, Count de, 197 Rodrigues, Bartholomew, 29 Rome, 191 Rose, Mr. Archibald, 499-501 Rosebery, Lord, Chinese frontier, 285-91; Shweli River, 270 Ross, Captain, 93 Rumklao, 420 Rundall, Captain (later Major), 397401 Sabu Pum, 291, 480 Sadiya, 83, 85, 91 Sadon, Chinese claims, 278, 285; Chinese looters, 519; Inspector Duff, 371; exploration, 480; Kachin resistance, 355-61; Lieutenant Har¬ rison, 357-61; Sawbwa of Sadonkong, 357, 360 Sagaing, 338 Sagyilains, 381, 391 Saimong, Sao, 316 Sajyang Pass, 503, 506 Salaw Hkan Nawng, 516 Salaymyo, 220 Salisbury, Lord (see also Lord Cranbourne), Annexation, 244; Chinese frontier, 465; Chinese policy, 250, 253, 255, 265, 270, 280, 483; French policy, 225-7, 237-8; Margary affair, 197-8 Salween, River, exploration, 317, 318; King Theebaw, 216; Lloyd, 209; Phayre, 179; Salween and N’Maikha, see N’Maikha-Salween watershed; Trans-Salween States, 270, 283; Watson and Fedden, 182; Western Karennee, 211 Sama, Pa, 365 Sana Kachins, 374-375 Sanderson, Sir Thomas, 293-4 Sandford, Dr., 80 Sandoway, 80 Sangermano, Vincentius, 42 Sansi, 364 Sao Hkam Hpo, Sawbwa of Keng Tung, 299

592

THE

MAKING

Sao On, Sawbwa of Yaung-ywe, 436 Satow, Sir Ernest, Chinese frontier, 483, 488; Chinese government, 46568; Revision 1897 Convention, 494-5

Saunders, Governor, 31-2 Sawlawpaw, 304, 439-42 Saw Myint, Colonel, 537 Sconce, Lieutenant G. C., 180-1 Scott, David, 63, 83-6 Scott, J. G. (later Sir George), Chin Hills, 419; Keng Cheng, 304-11; Keng Tung, 30-4; Sawbwa Hkun Kyi, 299-300; Sawbwa Mongnai, 437-8, 443-4; Sawbwa Yaung-ywe, 436; Shan States Memorandum, 270-2; Wa States frontier, 456-9; Wa States pacification, 447-52 Shaftesbury, Earl, 238 Shakespear, Captain, 407 Shans, Burmese, 181; Dr. Williams, 178; McLeod, 111-12, Sladen, 188 Shan States, Absorption, 422-52; Administration, 246; Chinese claims, 270, 524; Deloncle, 297; Dr. Williams, 182; Fytche, 180; Mekong, 316; railway, 183; Scott, 270-2; state formed, 520; survey, 184-5; Trans-Salween, 273 Shapuree, 60-2 Shih Aung-shao, 466-7 Shingawkha, 480-1 Shore, Sir John, 41, 43-4 Shuldham, Brigadier-General, 70 Shwe Dagon, 21-2, 72, 74 Shwe Gyo Byo, Prince, 382-3 Shweli, River (also Shwaylee), Chinese boundary, 269-71, 286, 294, 329, 330; demarcation, 456, 476; Namkhan, 434, Namwan river, 291, 294, 476 Siam, British policy, 216; Dr. Rich¬ ardson, 104; Frontier, 103-4, 216; Independence, 315-16; Mekong boundary, 288, 299, 331; Myosa of Keng Cheng, 305-8 Sidmouth, Lord, 297 Sieh Ta-jen, Burma-China Con¬ ference, 284-94; Chinese Minister, 256; memorandum, 283-4; policy pamphlet, 256; Salisbury, 280; Trans-Salween States, 283-4; 320 Sihaung, 381, 383 Sikang, 523 Sikaw, 371 Sima, cession to China, 294; Chinese claims, 293; Inspector Duff, 371; Kachin rising, 368-9

OF

BURMA

Simla, Agreement, 512-14; Confer¬ ence, 511-14 Sin, U Zan Hta, opposition Hpimaw area, 528, 530, 531, 536 Singphos, Burmese, 200-1; David Scott, 83-4; Hukawng Valley, 85-7; Lieutenant Neufville, 84-5 Sinkan Column, 371 Sinwa Nawng Sama Duwa, 530, 537 Siyin, see Chins Si-u, 351-2 Skinner, Colonel G. J., 389-90 Sladen, Captain (later Colonel), Bhamo, 277; Commercial Treaty, 185; Expedition, 186-90; Karennee, 205-7; Mandalay campaign, 239-41; succeeds Williams, 179 Snodgrass, Major J. T., 70-1 Soktes, 380, 384, 405 Somu, 288, 323, 456 Songra-mang (also spelt Hsongramang), Burma Army 6th Infantry Brigade, 525 Sonpek, 381 Spears, Thomas, Bhamo-Yunnan route, 173-4; Burmese Mission, 158; Dalhousie, 154, 169, (170; King Mindon, 152, 154-6, 168-9; Maung Bo, 167 Sprye, Captain Richard and R. H. F., Kinwun Mingyi, 192; Sprye route, 172-3, 179, 196; Treaty of 1867, 186; West China, 171-2 Stanford, Colonel J. K., 505-7 Staveley, John, 24 Stedman, Colonel, 429-30, 436-7 Stilwell, General, 518 Sterling, Mr., 307, 311-14 Strover, Captain, appointed, 189; King Mindon, 207-12; Sawbwas, 189-90 Subansiri, River, 511 Sum Lup Gam, 359 Summu, 459 Sunglong, 446, 451 Sun Yat-sen, 516 Sutherland, Mr., 462 Sylhet, 62, 63 Symes, Captain Michael, Canning, 52; mission to Ava, (first) 41-4, (second) 45-51; Sir John Shore, 43 Symons, General, Chin-Lushai Ex¬ pedition, 387-91; Thettas, 401 Syriam, 25-30 Tachien Lu, 508, 513 Tadzu Valley, 509 Talifu, 183 Talok Pass (also called Diphu) Boundary settlement, 538; British policy, 511; McMahon Line, 514

INDEX

Tan Gietwoun Douauk Win, 234 Tao Yung, 522 Taping, River (also called Tapeng), boundary cairns, 481; Chinese claims, 269, 293; demarcation, 456 Tarolly, Father Domingo, 147-9 Tartan, 385, 394 Tarun Valley, 509, 511 Tashons, see Chins Taung Baing, 432-3 Tavoy, 99 Tawlang, 479 Tawngpeng, Sawbwa of, 446 Temple and Bruce, mission of, 174-6 Teng Chung, British Consul, 477 Teng Keng, Chinese chief, 498, 502; Chinese claims, 490-2 Tengyueh, Archibald Rose, 499; Railway, 468-9; W. Stark Toller, 506 Tennasserim, A. D. Maintry, 102; British policy, 99-102; Incorpor¬ ated, 102; King Tharawaddy, 120; Yandabo Treaty, 80 Thama, 348-9, 379 Tharawaddy District, 167-8 Tharawaddy, King, becomes King, 112; Benson, 117; Rangoon, 120; rebellion, 112; Yandabo Treaty, 112-17 Thayetmo, 176, 217-19 Theebaw, King, Bhamo, 267; Bombay-Burma Corporation, 232-3; Britain, 216-17, 220; British ulti¬ matum, 236; France, 228-30, 234, 296-7; Limbin Confederacy, 422-3; monopolies, 220-1; proclamation, 237; reply to British ultimatum, 239-41, 247; Thayetmyo, 217-20 Thetta, see Chins Thonze, 429-31, 445 Thornton, Mr., 505 Thoung, Dr., Ma, 176-7 Tibet, Anglo-Chinese Convention, 272-3; British mission, 266-7, 508; demarcation, 456, 494; Status, 524; Tibeto-Burma frontier, 292, 494, 507-17, 523; Tibetan question, 274 Tiddim, see Chins Tighe, Lieutenant, 396 Tilbury, Adrian, 28-9 Tilin, 395 Tingkri, Tusu of, 504 Tingsinkha, 480 Toklaing, see Chins Toller, W. Stark, 474-5, 506-7, 551-4 Tongking, 197, 296 Ton Hsang, Sawbwa, 321

593

Ton Son Hang, Sawbwa of Mongleun, 443

Toungoo, boundary, 214; Karens, 161-2; Major Lloyd, 209; Mons, 32; Prome route, 160; railway, 183, 215, 216, 225 Townsend, Captain E. C., 484-5 Trans-Salween States, 273, 283 Trant, Lieutenant, 93 Tregear, Colonel, Chin-Lushai Ex¬ pedition, 388-91; Klangklangs, 402 Treaties: Anglo-Chinese, modifying 1894 Convention (1897), 330-1, 455-7, 464, 474-5, 477, 495; Boundary (i960), 537-8, text, 56776; Commercial (1826), 112, 122; Commercial (1867), 185-6; FrancoChinese (1895), 324-8; FrancoSiamese (1893), 3i2;Friendship and Alliance (1757), 36; Friendship and Mutual Non-aggression (i960), 536; text 564-6; Kaungton (1769), 256 7; Nanking (1846), 171; Tientsin (1885), 229-30; Yandabo (1826), 80, 97-9, 99-102, 113 Triangle, the, administration, 516-17; Chinese Society, 514-17; expedi¬ tions, 516-17; exploration, 514; Kachins, 514-17; occupation, 5 Tribute, British policy, 247, 251, 253, 254, 256, 257, 258, 267; Burmese missions, 258-9, 262, 267; Chinese policy, 249, 265; Hart, 249-50; Hlutdaw memorandum, 264; Peking Gazette reports, 259-60 Tsang, Po, 511 Tsari Sarpa, 511 Tsawlawpaw, 205, 208 Tseng, Marquis, Bhamo, 273; Chin¬ ese Minister, 4, 248; Hart, 251; Kachins, 287; Macartney, 265; Salisbury, 250, 252, 255; Shan States, 270 Tso Karpo, 511 Tu Yun-tan, Dr., 522 Tumbao, 480 Tun Ming, Maung, 409 Tungzang, 400-1 Tunsun, 380-1 Twet Nga Lu, 422-5 Twum Tong, 408-9, 414 Union of Burma, 294, 520 Upper Burma, annexation, 242-7; British monopoly, 226-30; China, 171, 274, 277, 278, 282; Duncan, 213; Lloyd, 20; Mindon, 214; showdown, 220-1 U Tai, 324

594

THE

MAKING

Vacle, M., 315 Vanderzee, Lieutenant J. H., 480 Varthema, Ludovici di, 17, 18 Vendee, La, 338 Vernay, Arthur, 507 Victoria, Queen, 190-1 Wa States, Anglo-Chinese Agreement, 456; boundary talks, 528-38; Brit¬ ish policy, 323, 457, 465; Chinese policy, 458-72; Communist troops, 524-6; Daly expedition, 318, 3202; Frontier Areas Commission, 452; Hobday’s map, 292; Hpimaw exchange, 503; Iselin Commission, 474-5; K.M.T., 523; Litton, 462; Matet, 447; Namtu-Bawdwin Mines, 470-1; Naw Hkam U, 447, 450; Naw Hseng, 449-51; Oberlander, 469; Pacification, 446-52; Relations with China, 321; Scott (Sir George), 447-52, 458-72; Shih Hung-shao, 466-8: Ton Son Hang, 447; Wa Kha, 526; Warry’s proposals, 322-3 Wackun Khoonjun, 86-7 Wade, Ambassador, 197, 198 Waddington, M. French Ambassador, 225-7; French policy, 227, 238 Waingmaw, 335, 519 Wa-kha, 525-6 Walker, Captain H. B., 310, 457 Walsham, Sir John, 267, 283 Wa-maw, 525 Wang Chang Chi, 472 Wang Chung Hui, Dr., 475 Wanting, 521 Warry, Mr., Chinese adviser, 276; Chinese frontier, 276; East Mangleun, 321; memorandum on BurmaChina boundary, 297; policy proposals, 322 Watson, Lieutenant C. E., 180-1, 182 Wellesley, Lord, 46-9 Wethet Chins, see Chins Whennohs, see Chins White, Major-General Sir George, Commander, Burma Field Force, 337; Ponkan Sawbwa, 352; Siyin resistance, 383-5; Wuntho Sawbwa, 339

White, H. Thirkell (later Sir H. T.), Civil Officer, 371; Hsipaw Sawbwa, 427, 430-1

OF

BURMA

White, Captain W., 54-5, 68 Whitehill, Mr., 37 Williams, Dr. Clement, 176-83 Wilson, H. H., 77 Win, U Tun, 536 Wolseley, General, 353-4, 398 Wunkathe, 385 Wuntho Sawbwa, 339-45, 370 Wuntho, North, 339-43; South, 343-4 Yahow, country, 406, 420; people, 380 Yahwel, 399 Yahwit, 403 Yandabo, Treaty of, British rights, 128, 221; Burmese mission, 94-8, 221; Burney, 112-14; King Tharawaddy, 112-14; Richardson, 106; Salween frontier, 98; signed, 80 Yan Naing, Saw, Hkam Leng, 347-8; Mandalay conspiracy, 346-8; Ponhan Sawbwa, 352-4; rising Mong Mit, 348 Yawnghee (see also Nyaung-ywe), Sawbwa, 436; Sconce and Watson, 180-1 Yawyins, 364-5, 479 Yeh, 80, 99 Yeh, Chun, 520 Yindam, 480 Yinming-te, 474 Yokwa, 380, 388 Young, E. C., 509 Younghusband, Sir Francis, 499 Younghusband, Lieutenant G. J., 298-9 Y’Sao Wei, Mr., 504 Yuan Shih-kai, President, 501 Yule, Colonel, 159-60, 260 Yunnan, Anglo-French rivalry, 296, 324-8; Assam, 13-14, 194-5; British frontier, 471-2; Burmese missions, 263, 264, 265; Chinese troops, 519-20; Golquhoun, 199-200; Dr. Williams, 178; French, 197, 229; Hart, 250, 251, 253; Iselin Com¬ mission, 475; Kuomintang, 470; Mining Bureau, 470; Muslim re¬ bellion, 252; Nam wan Assigned Tract, 477-8; Nan-chao, 13-15; Prince Ch’ing, 324-5; Spryes, 172; Viceroy, 92, 277, 318, 355, 456, 459, 466 Zimmay (Zimme), 104

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