Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History


The nominal price of Malwa is about 480 dollars a chest, but deliveries continue to be made at Namoa at 540 dollars, though latterly on a very limited scale owing to the competition arising from so many vessels (about 15 in number) scattered on different parts of the Coast. The legalization of the trade is no longer thought of; and government is evidently making a strong effort for the entire suppression.

James Matheson in Guangzhou to Captain Alexander Grant in London, 20 October 1837*

London, the capital of the British Empire, was a lynchpin within the Jardine-Matheson Global Network. At the beginning of the 1830s, London's importance to the firm was chiefly commercial and financial: it is where deals were arranged for the import of tea from China and the export of Manchester cloth to China, and was the heart of the financial wheeling and dealing the firm was famous for. The quote above shows that by the late 1830s, the firm also was keeping their agents in London abreast of the latest news about the illegal opium trade. Captain Grant, the recipient of the letter above, was actually the former captain of Jardine-Matheson's opium hulk at Lintin, the distribution center for all the opium arriving in China.

By the late 1830s, London was also assuming increased importance for the firm as a place for political lobbying. William Jardine left China in January 1839, erecting a new home in London's Upper Belgrave Street (pictured above). The Opium War erupted during his journey home, and Jardine rushed to London to advise Prime Minister Palmerston on how he believed the war should play out, while also lobbying incessantly for the British Government to ensure Jardine-Matheson would be compensated for the opium destroyed by Lin Zexu in March of 1839.

*China Trade and Empire: Jardine, Matheson &Co. and the Origins of British Rule in Hong Kong, 1827-1843, ed. Alain le Pichon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 312.

This page has paths:

This page has tags: