Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CHINA AND JAPAN , by LT James D. Johnston, U.S.N. (1860

CHINA AND JAPAN , by LT James D. Johnston, U.S.N. (1860)

James D. Johnston, lieutenant, U.S. Navy, executive officer of the Steam-Frigate Powhatan, wrote an account of the trip of the Powhatan to open diplomatic relations with China and to transport the first Japanese ambassadors to the United States less than seven years after Commodore Matthew C. Perry forced his way into Japan in 1853.

These were also the last years before the Civil War, before Southerners such as Johnston entered the Confederate Navy.

This book is now annotated to show what was meant by passing references which were much clearer at the time it was written, and also to trace events in the lives of the participants after the voyage.

The preliminary part of the book includes a table of contents explaining what the various chapters listed below actually cover. Or just start reading the book from the beginning.

"...with thanks, by order of the Emperor, to His Majesty King Kamehameha IV..."

Source: The Polynesian: Sat., Nov. 16, 1861.

Depatches from Jedo, or 5th and 31st August last, from the Government of Japan, through His Excellency Townsend Harris, the Minister of the United States, with thanks, by order of the Emperor, to His Majesty King Kamehameha IV., for his kind reception of the Japanese Embassy, and with valuable presents to His Majesty in acknowledgement of that kind reception were received at the Foreign Office yesterday. 

The First United States Vessel to Japan

Source: The Polynesian. Honolulu: May 19, 1860.

The first United States vessel to Japan was the ship Franklin, of Boston, belonging to James and Thomas H. Perkins, and commanded by James Devereaux, of Salem. Felt says that this ship sailed Dec. 11, 1798 for Batavia and Japan, and reached a port of the latter country on June 17th of the next year. Returning, she arrived back at Salem May 10th, 1800. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An 1860 Description of the Hawaiian Islands: Richmond (Virginia) Enquirer

The following article was featured in The Polynesian, published in Honolulu on November 16, 1860. “We have been favored with a copy of the annexed letter, published in the Richmond Enquirer in May last. We re-publish it to show the impressions of the writer respecting the Islands, Government, &c.” It is dated March 15, 1860, which was just before the Japanese ambassadors set off for California on their journey to Washington, D.C. The author is not named.


To the “Enquirer,” Richmond, Va.:

This, I presume, is the first letter ever received by you from the ‘Island World.’ It is written to afford some little information to your readers, and to friends, who have kindly requested letters on the subject. To comply with each individual request for “a letter” would be impossible, and I therefore throw myself on your kindness and ask its publication.

Outside of New England very little seems known respecting these beautiful and interesting Islands:- when about to visit them, on a late occasion, in taking leave of friends in Virginia and Washington, some of them appeared alarmed at the idea that your correspondent should venture to go to a land inhabited by “cannibals.” I hope after they read this letter, they will have no fears that I shall be “killed and eaten up,” unless, indeed, it shall be done by kindness, such as never has been exceeded by any people, in whose midst my lot has been cast.

In the year 1778 the Islands were discovered by Cook, and the whole group, eight in number, were supposed to contain a population of some four hundred thousand, quiet, peaceable and contented ‘Polynesians,’ living of course, in a primitive state-but happy. From various causes the number at present is much diminished. Some thirty or forty years since the missionaries made their appearance; and it is but simple justice to them to say, that they have done much toward Christianizing the natives- (I will not say civilizing them, for it is difficult to imagine, to see them in their present state, that they ever were otherwise than a civil race). They have done much towards educating them. Most excellent schools and colleges have been established, and are in successful operation; and already some of the natives (and among them the present King) have been well educated, and reflect great credit on their institutions.

Is conducted under a written constitution, which in its provisions is liberal and enlightened-it is modeled very much after some of our State Governments- the “Laws enacted by the King, the Nobles and Representatives in Legislative Council” are respected by all and rigidly enforced.

Is a well educated and talented man-dignified and gentlemanly in his deportment; is very well informed; speaks and writes the English language very well; has traveled in the United States and Europe. He lives in great comfort, quite as much as the President of the United States; has an ample income, and is much respected by foreigners, and loved by the natives. He is only twenty-seven years of age. He appoints his successor.

Is only about twenty-one years of age; said to be very charitable, good-hearted and kind to her people, who appear to idolize her.

Consists of “a Minister or Foreign Relations,” “a Minister of Finance” and “a Minister of the Interior.” The first is filled by a talented Scotch gentlemen, who has been much in the United States, and holds our institutions and Government in very high estimation. He holds office not for its salary, (he being very wealthy and without a family) but solely to give the Government the benefit of his experience and services.

The office the Minister of Finance is held by our late United States Commissioner from Illinois, a native of New York. He is a gentleman of fine talents and general information.

The Minister of the Interior is a native, brother of the King. He is well educated and is very popular. On the whole, the Government is a very good one.

As I have already said, the natives are quiet and happy, easily governed, kind in their disposition, very friendly to all foreigners, and especially Americans. Many of them are well educated, especially the females, who are intelligent and genteel. The higher class dress with great aste, and life the foreigners, some of them are pretty. The lower class, kanakas, (men), also dress like foreigners, but the wahine (women) of that class dress in very loose dresses, often made of fine silks, but frequently go barefooted. All classes, native and foreign, ride on horseback, and at full speed. The wahines ride as fast as men do, and very gracefully. It is a fine sight to see of an evening hundreds of them on horseback, with long scarfs “thrown to the breeze.” All classes look neat and clean. No people pay greater attention tom personal cleanliness. As a race, the natives, in size and personal appearance, I think are greatly superior to the Chinese, Japanese, or any of the Polynesian race I have seen.

The whole area of all the islands is about six thousand square miles, or three million, eight hundred and forty thousand acres. They are within an area of about three hundred and fifty miles, and in latitude from 20 to 22 they are called the “pathway” to China and Japan. The climate is a very equably one. The thermometer varying from 68 to 80 all year round. It is never oppressively hot in the day, and always pleasant at night, never too warm to dispense with a blanket.

Every species of fruit raised in the tropics, are grown on some of the Islands, and very many kinds not found on other islands. The same may be said of vegetables of almost every kind. Wheat and Indian corn, in some localities, are successfully cultivated, especially wheat. Coffee of a very superior quality has heretofore been extensively and profitably raised. But within the last year or two, an insect has attacked and injured the trees. It is said to be similar to the insects which have done much damage to other coffee growing countries, and for a time almost put a stop to its cultivation, and then wholly disappeared. Doubtless it will be the same on these Islands. Sugar is, and will no doubt continue to be, the great staple of the Islands. The cane continues to grow for two years, and attains a size which is almost incredible. It “rations” from eight to ten years-never, of course, being injured by frosts, as they are unknown. The quantity raised is about two tons to an acre-often four and six have been raised-which commands in the San Francisco market from eight to nine cents per pound. Labor (in abundance) is obtained at from five to six dollars per month, and the whole cost of feeing (the only expense) is about two dollars per month. Lands of a very fine quality can be purchased at from five to ten dollars. It will be seen from the above that sugar can be raised at three cents per pound, and that the profit is immense. The quality of that now being made is very superior.

Grazing is also an extensive and profitable business. The increase of cattle is so great that many thousands have to be killed off to keep the stocks under, and the hides alone saved. I may mention in this connection, that in the year 1793 Vancouver placed on one of the Islands, four head of cattle only, and from their increase some thirty thousand have been killed, and the same number still remains. The beef and mutton are very superior-quite equal to any in Virginia. The living on the Islands is equal to any anywhere. Fish and fowls tame and wild, are supplied in great abundance, and of fine quality. The best fish are kept in large ponds, fed as we feed our poultry, and taken out when wanted.

About eight-tenths of the trade of the islands is with the United States-the larger portion with California. There is, however, a good deal of trade and intercourse with China, Japan, England and France, Germany, &c. Some fifteen or Twenty Governments are represented here by Consuls. The whale fishery, carried on in American vessels, is immense. In former time, some eight or ten millions of dollars worth of oil and bone come into this port alone annually, and some two hundred ships were employed in the business. Of late years, the business has, from various causes, greatly diminished. Still it is of very great importance.

This is said to be the only foreign port in the world in which Americans outnumber all others. The foreigners are, generally speaking, very well informed, and most of them have traveled a great deal and have seen much of the world, and of course have enlarged and liberal views. They are very social, very friendly and moral. The churches (of which they have quite a large number) are better attended than in any country I have seen. They have excellent Ministers, to whom the congregations are much attached. I may mention among them the Rev. S.C. Damon and the Rev. Eli Corwin. I mention these two not to disparage others, but because it has been my good fortune to become better acquainted with them than others.

The great volcano on the island of Hawaii is said to be one of the grandest in the world, and is visited by all travelers who visit the North Pacific. I have not seen it yet, but design doing so in May, when I will attempt to give you a description of that, and many other things which may be worth writing about. I may here say that I have been favored with a view of the ‘Robes’ worn by the King and Queen in state occasions. They are made of the feathers of birds interwoven in fine canvas. The colors are varied, rich and beautiful, only two feathers from each bird. Many, many millions of birds must have been caught, and the two feathers only taken from their plumage. It is said that it has required some seventy or eighty years to complete them. Of course no monied value can be placed on them. When we reflect that all this was the work of “Nature,” having at that day no intercourse with the world, they are indeed remarkable.

The population is about twelve or thirteen thousand. The dwelling houses, many of them built of coral, are very comfortable, and many of them spacious. They are built in the rear of the streets, and the yards are filled with ornamental trees, flowers and shrubbery, all having an air or neatness and comfort. But that which would look strange to us, is to see a considerable town built up without a single chimney. Of course they are not required, as fires are never wanted. On the whole, it is a most agreeable place for a residence. The society, male and female, is very pleasant. I must close this crude letter. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Ambassadors Return to Japan -It was not a warm welcome

The December 15, 1860 edition of The Polynesian featured news of the return of the Japanese ambassadors to their homeland. Dated from Kanagawa on November 13, the article initially presented news about currency questions, the death of Prince Meto (who opposed the presence of foreigners, an assault on an attache from the French legation, the failure of an unnamed Prussian admiral to secure a treaty, and so on.

The following is the text of the middle section of the article:

The Niagara, with the Japanese Commissioners, arrived on the 10th Nov., all well. Off Yokohama a courier was sent ashore to proceed over land to Yeddo. No notice was taken of their arrival at Kanagawa by the Japanese, nor did they themselves exhibit any signs of curiosity or interest on their near approach to home. They appeared entirely indifferent, and Tommy, the ladies man, looked as dirty as though his face had not been washed since the belles of Washington had last kissed him. 

No notice was taken of them or the Niagara at Jeddo, except the usual salute to the ship. The Commissioners were not permitted to land in the ship's boat, but were quietly landed in a common Custom House boat in a remote part of the town, without any attention paid them. No official notice had been taken of the Niagara's arrival by the Government, no thanks presented nor gratitude expressed for the courtesies extended to them in America. The  Niagara would remain until the 15th, two days longer, to give them an opportunity should they desiree to improve it. 

The common talk on the streets of Kanagawa was that Uncle Sam had been sold. It was said that none of these Commissioners were men of rank, except what might have been conferred upon them temporarily, but that they were merely spies sent to ascertain the strength and condition of the American people, that when they had made their report, they would pass away and be heard of no more. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


The Polynesian: March 2, 1861, 2nd page:


It having been duly represented to her Majesty’s Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Japan, that the Japanese Government denies the right of any foreigner, not a subject of a Treaty Power, landing in Japan (with the exception of such Chinese as take up their residence at Nagasaki under the jurisdiction of the native authorities by the virtue of ancient privileges.) The undersigned is instructed publicly to notify for the information of all concerned, that any such shipmaster giving passage to such foreigners, will be compelled to take them away again; and any attempt to land them will subject him to further penalties for breach of treaty. G. HOWARD VYSE,
H.B.M.’S Consul Kanagawa
British Consulate, Kanagawa, 20th June, 1860.

It will be remembered that, in the Polynesian of March last, was published a dispatch in which by order of the King, the Minister invited the Japanese Ambassadors to form a treaty with this Kingdom, similar, in all respects, to that formed with the United States; and that their Excellencies declined, on the ground of having no powers from the Tycoon to negotiate a treaty with this Kingdom; also that, while acknowledging the reply to that effect, the Minister requested them, on their return to Jeddo, to make known to his Majesty the Emperor of Japan, the wishes of his Sovereign in regard to such a treaty, as they had promised to do.
We are authorized to state further that by order of his Majesty, the Minister wrote to the Honorable Lewis Cass, requesting the friendly influence of the President of the United States, to obtain a treaty with Japan for this Kingdom, such as that which was about to be ratified with the United States, and that a very courteous reply was received, expressing the friendly interest of the President in that object.

Thus it will be seen that if the merchants residing in this Kingdom be subjected to any loss or inconvenience, under the foregoing notification, it has not been owing to any want of political foresight of his Majesty, whose policy is to encourage, extend and protect the commercial relations of his Kingdom, with all nations, by every proper and possible means.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Japanese Letters: The Polynesian. Honolulu: July 21, 1860

Japanese Letters.
The Polynesian. Honolulu: July 21, 1860.

Some traducer of the Institutions of his country has supplied information to the Japanese embassy at Washington, from which the following dispatch has been composed. The President has complained of the publication of the dispatch as a violation of diplomatic etiquette and privilege, and the subject has been referred to the Covode Committee. In the meantime, a Southern Member of Congress has notified Fudgee Nokami, the Chief Commissioner, that if he intends any reference to the ladies of the South, he will blow the top of his head off in a minute. –Am. Exchange.

Most Esteemed Hakodadi: We have been invited to visit, next in order, the great city of Philadelphia, or “the place consecrated to fraternal affection,” the capitol of the province which is the birthplace of the American Tycoon. Our reception, we are informed, will be attended with the most august ceremonies that the city ever offers to its most distinguished guests. The Councilmen, after examining our credentials, have decided to place us on a footing with “the most favored” foreign Fire Companies.

The details of our reception by the American Tycoon you have in my former letter. He is called, not Tycoon, but “President,” sometimes, however, by a strange analogy of language, “old coon.” I at first this an attempt to pronounce our Japanese phrase, but am assured that it is strictly idiomatic, and implies astuteness and age. It certainly seemed applicable to the head of the nation who received us.

We find it very difficult to comply with the demands of our sovereign, forbidding us to touch the women of this country. Not from any disposition on our part to disobey, but from their desire to seize our hands. They are apparently allowed here the greatest of freedom, but it is only in appearance. Every woman, married or single, is fastened in a cage of bamboo or flexible steel, extending from the waist to the feet. This seems to be so arranged as to give them no uneasiness, but they are very much ashamed of it, and conceal it under so many coverings that it renders their appearance quite ludicrous. They are unrestricted as to the upper parts of their persons, which they are permitted to expose as much as they wish. This they seem to avail themselves of, and on all occasions of high ceremony wear very low dresses. As in all barbarous nations, they slit their ears, and suspend from them ornaments of gold and silver. They also paint and powder themselves, and after greasing their hair, twist it into fantastic shapes, and fasten it up with long pins and combs.

Some of them would be fine looking if they did not disfigure themselves by the hideous and vulgar custom of wearing eyebrows, and keeping their teeth white. Be assured, therefore, that we are in no danger of being captivated by their appearance; we feel nothing but regret that the barbarous and absurd customs of man should thus destroy the charms which cultivation and refinement would so much improve.

Nothing strikes us so much as the want of respect these barbarians show even to their highest dignitaries; they never hesitate to spit before them, and it requires considerable activity to prevent being spat upon at times. The custom of wearing one sword, it seems, originated from this cause, as it enables you to avoid with greater facility the saliva of your neighbor. Chewing tobacco is much prized, it seems, from the saliva it produces, which is preserved, if possible, in handsome vases of porcelain, and placed in prominent positions.

None of the inhabitants do reverence by crawling on their bellies, except after the election of a new Tycoon, when those in search of office come to the central city and perform that ceremony. Those who are fortunate enough to meet with honor from the Tycoon, seldom walk upright during their whole term in office. The unfortunate applicants become at once censors or spies upon their others, and their silence has to be bought at a high price. All public servants have their price, which rises or falls according to the necessities of the Tycoon. But I shall reserve my reflections on political topics till I have another opportunity to address you. Until then rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Charles Guillou, the U.S. Exploration Expedition and the Japanese Embassy of 1860

One of the most overlooked stories from American history is covered in Nathaniel Philbrick’s Sea of Glory: America’s Voyage of Discovery The U.S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842. 

Go to this link for an electronic edition of the book:

Recently, I re-read Philbrick’s book at which time I happened to come across a name familiar to me through my current research on the Japanese Embassy visit to Hawaii: Charles Guillou.
In an earlier posting I mentioned that in the October 24, 1857 edition of The Polynesian it was announced that Dr. Guillou was taking charge of the American Consular Hospital in Honolulu.
In yet another posting my research uncovered a March 10, 1860 article from The Polynesian that reported on a ball held at Dr. Guillou’s home honoring Admiral Josiah Tatnall and the officers of the U.S. S. Powhatan. That event was attended by Kamehameha IV, Queen Emma, with some of the Japanese delegation present.

Guillou was apparently a very popular and well-connected gentleman among the residents of Honolulu.

It also turns out that Dr. Charles Guillou was the assistant-surgeon of the U.S. Exploring Expedition (also known as the “U.S. Ex Ex.”). Go to this link to learn more.

The first mention of his name in Philbrick’s book is on page 154 in the chapter on Antarctica.

Click here for a page on Wikipedia, and this one with the College of Physicians in Philadelphia:
Charles Fleury Bien aime Guillou, naval surgeon, was born in Philadelphia on 26 July 1813. He married Dinah Postlethwaite (b. 1817) in 1852; they had one daughter, Margaret A. Guillou Blackmore, and an adopted daughter, Eloise ("Polly") Thibault. Guillou died of pneumonia in New York on 1 January 1899.

In Philadelphia, Guillou studied medicine with a naval surgeon, Thomas Harris, and, in 1836, received an M.D. from the Universityof Pennsylvania. He also attended courses at the Medical Institute of Philadelphia and the Therapeutic Institute of Philadelphia.

In 1836, Guillou was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the United States Navy. He served aboard the "Peacock" as part of the United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) under Charles Wilkes. In 1842, he helped William P. C. Barton to organize the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

While Surgeon of the "Columbus" in 1845, he was present at the ratification of the first treaty between the United States and China. Guillou was later assigned to the U.S. Frigate "Constitution" and attended Pope Pius IX.

He was assigned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard as Surgeon aboard the Receiving Ship "North Carolina", circa 1852. He resigned from the Navy in 1854 to assume charge of a Marine Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii.

During his sojourn in Hawaii, Guillou was Court Physician to King Kamehameha IV, the first secretary of the Hawaiian Medical Society, and Italian Consul.

He left Hawaii in 1866, moving first to Petersburg, Virginia, then to New York City, where he became a manufacturing pharmacist.

Dr. Guillou died in New York City on New Year’s Day, 1899 at 86 years of age. His obituary appeared in the January 3 edition of the New York Times on Page 9:

Dr. Charles F. Guillou, formerly a Surgeon in the United States Navy, died on Sunday at his residence, 26 East Eleventh Street, of pneumonia. He was born in Philadelphia, July 26, 1813, and was educated in the University of Pennsylvania. He was appointed an Assistant Surgeon in the Navy in 1883 [note: this is a typo in the Times piece], and was later assigned to the United States ship Peacock. He served in the Mexican War, and was afterward appointed Surgeon of the United States ship Columbia, going on an extended cruise in Asiatic waters on board of her. He was afterward assigned to the United States frigate Constitution, and when on one of her cruises in European waters the vessel touched at Gaeta, Italy, Dr. Guillou went with the American Consul and the Captain of the Constitution to visit King Ferdinand II and Pius IX. These personages visited the Constitution the next day, when the Pope was taken ill and was attended by Dr. Guillou. The day after Dr. Guillou was sent for by his Holiness, who wanted to confer an order upon him. Dr. Guillou being an American, this could not be done, but the Pope granted him a plenary indulgence. Dr. Guillou on his return home was detailed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, from which service he resigned in 1854 to assume charge of the hospital in Honolulu. While in the Hawaiian Islands he also served as Italian Consul by special appointment of Victor Emmanuel. He remained in Honolulu until 1867. He married in 1852 Miss Dinah Postlethwaite of Natchez, Miss., who died several years ago. There was but one daughter, Mrs. Blackmore of Hampton, Va., but there was an adopted daughter, Miss Heloise Thibault, Dr. Guillou’s constant companion until his death. Dr. Guillou was a thirty-third degree Mason and a member of the Medical Society of the County of New York. His body will be taken tonight to Petersburg, Va., for burial beside that of his wife. A private mass will be celebrated to-morrow morning at St. Ann’s Church.

I was paging through the 1857 editions of The Polynesian, the government newspaper published in Honolulu. This is a story from the October 24, 1857 edition that mentioned Dr. Guillou's appointment:

The Right Men in the Right Place:

Mr. Pratt, the U.S. Consul, has recently made the appointment of the officers of the American Consular Hospital, and short as the time since his arrival the parties selected are exactly those whom the community, if it was any business of theirs to speak in the matter, would have pointed out. Dr. Chs. F. Guillou, Consular Physician and Surgeon, enjoys a professional reputation of the highest order, whilst his urbanity of manners renders his visits agreeable to his patients. There is a great deal in that. But the doctor's long experience as a Surgeon in the U.S. Navy, makes him especially fit to take charge of a hospital. He knows Jack's ways and wants, and has a good inkling of his tricks. Capt. G.T. lawton, the new Purveyor, is of course just as well or better posted. He is a very noiseless man, but those who know him speak of him in the highest terms. We have not the pleasure of his special acquaintance and therefore only speak of him according to his reputation, which stands on the "first letter." 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Recriminations: British Defeat at China's Pei-ho in 1859

The Polynesian’s September 3, 1859 edition reported that the U.S.S. Powhatan had arrived in Hong Kong on May 10.

“The U.S. steam-frigate Powhatan arrived at Hongkong, May 10, with Gen. Ward, the American Minister. The Powhatan leaves for Tien-tsin [Tianjin today], and will be the first to test the reported obstructions at the mouth of the Pei-ho. It is supposed the Russians will have a steamer of light draft awaiting the arrival of Gen. Ward.”

In the same story is this: “There is a report that the Russian Government has given eight thousand pieces of cannon to the Chinese in consideration of land cessions at the Amoor.”

I was looking for specific references to Commodore Josiah Tatnall’s coming to the aid of a British ship during the military exchanges with the Chinese. None were found.

More details of the “disastrously defeated” British naval forces were prominently featured in the October 8, 1859 edition of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, published in Honolulu. “The British naval force at the mouth of the Pei-ho made an attack upon the Chinese on the 25th of June, and were disastrously defeated with terrible loss of life.” More detailed were featured on the first page of the October 15 edition of the paper.

The January 12, 1860 edition of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser provided further details through a published letter from R.S. Maclay on the third page, dated September 21, 1859 from “Fuhchau, China.” Despite the battle at the Pei Ho the following is reported regarding American Minister Ward:

“Mr. Ward, the American Minister, arrived at Pekin about the 28th of July, 1859, and remained there fifteen days with his suite. The President’s letter was delivered at Pekin, and the exchange of the treaties took place at Pehtang, a town at the northern entrance of the Peiho.” But still no mention of Commodore Josiah Tatnall.
The September 3 edition of the Polynesian also reported infighting in the Japanese government, casting doubt on the Japanese Embassy visit to the United States:

“THE MINISTER FROM JAPAN TO THE UNITED STATES. The latest number of the China Herald has this paragraph:
There seems to be considerable doubt if the proposed embassy to the United States will take place. The conservative party, who are opposed to all innovations, are determined to prevent this infraction of the law which prohibits Japanese from leaving their country. The two delegates who have been named for Washington are themselves anxious to go but their departure will certainly be delayed for the present at least. A council for foreign affairs has been established at Jeddo, consisting of five princes.”

I found this story from the October 8, 1859 (page 2, column 5) edition of The Polynesian:

Late and Important from China.
SEVERE BATTLE-THE ENGLISH FORCES DISASTROUSLY DEFEATED. –From the San Francisco Times we learn that the bark Sea Nymph arrived at Victoria, V.I., on the 13th ult., 37 days from Hong Kong, with files of China papers up to the day of sailing. The news is important.

The British naval forces at the mouth of the Pie-ho made an attack upon the Chinese on the 25th of June, and were disastrously defeated. The fleet consisted of 12 vessels, mounting 28 guns and manned by 1,000 to 1,200 men.

There were 7 officers killed, and 28 wounded. The affair seems to have grown out of a misunderstanding of the preliminaries to the exchange of treaties between the allied ministers and the Chinese authorities, consequent on which an attempt was made by Admiral Hope to force the passage of the Pei-ho.

The North China Herald says that the total loss is as follows: -British, total killed and wounded, 464; French, 4 kiled and 10 wounded (including Captain Tricault of the Chayle, wounded in the arm.)
A correspondent of the China Mail (Hong Kong) says: The belief is universal throughout the squadron that Europeans manned the batteries, as well as Chinese. Men in grey coats with close cropped hair and with Russian features, were distinctly visible in the batteries, and the whole of the fortifications were evidently designed by Europeans.

The Mail says:
The lamentable intelligence we have to convey by this mail is a new difficulty with the Chinese authorities, which led to an attack on the 25th of June from and upon the Taku forts at the mouth of the Pei-ho, resulting in the total defeat of the British force, with the loss of no less than five gunboats, and between four and five hundred men, or about one-third of our force employed.

This matter will form a subject of Parliamentary discussion. The Hon. Mr. Bruce has not the power to collect troops for carrying on a new war with China; and if he applies for assistance, as it is reported he has done, to the Governor-General of India, we trust that Lord Canning will not comply with the request until her Majesty’s government have had time to examine the whole affair. There is more in it than meets the eye, and the most intelligent in this country-are disposed to believe that the Chinese are entirely to be blamed.
Five Days later.
By the ship Maria, arrived at this port from Hong Kong, we have dates to Aug. 9. From the Overland Mail we quote:
Since then matters have gone from bad to worse, and more unsatisfactory tidings than this mail communicates, were never perhaps taken from China. In the first place, as to the effect of the Peiho disaster upon political relations. The dispatch of Sangkolinsin, the Tartar Generalissimo, (a translation whereof is affixed,) duly appeared in the Pekin Gazette. This completely fastens upon the Chinese as deliberate act of treachery, for whist the Generalissimo boasts of the conception and perpetuation of the deed, the High Commissioners had studiously by their fair promises completely discarded all ideas of resistance from the minds of the members of the foreign Legation.

Since the defeat, the British and French Ministers have wisely forborne to negotiate with the Chinese authorities, either directly or otherwise, and are evidently awaiting instructions from their respective governments.

Nothing has been heard from the United States Minister since the dispatch of the last mail. He certainly proceeded north of the Peiho to the point indicated by the Chinese authorities where an officer of rank would meet and convey him to Pekin. The Chinese have it that he has actually proceeded thither, which would appear very probable.

Of Russian complicity to the disaster at Takow, there can be no doubt whatever. The Cantonese aver that Russian engineers built the forts, Russian guns armed them and Russian artillerymen manned them.