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cans wbo had taken service with the Tai-pings were by no means satisfied with their position. The result was that Colonel Gordon had a private interview with Burgevine himself, when that gentleman stated that he was determined to leave the Rebels, but would not do so unless his officers and men could obtain some guarantee that they would not be held responsible for the acts they had done when with the Tai-pings. On this Colonel Gordon guaranteed that the authorities at Shanghai would institute no further proceedings against those men; and offered to take as many of them as he could into his own force, and to assist the remainder in leaving the country. At another interview Burgevine proposed to Gordon to unite with him, and together to seize Soochow; to keep both Rebels and Imperialists out of it, and then to organise an army of 20,000 men, with which to march on Peking. He said that in Soochow alone there was sufficient money to enable them to carry out this plan ; but was at once informed that Colonel Gordon would not entertain any such idea. The situation was complicated by the fact that at this moment General Ching was making attacks of his own on the Tai-ping position, and also by the fear that these proposals for surrender might only be a ruse to cover secret tampering with the disciplined force. While these interviews were taking place, severe fighting still went on, and a desperate attempt of the Rebels to recapture Wokong was repulsed with great loss on both sides. In the middle of October, however, Burgevine and the other Europeans in Rebel employ sent information that they intended, under pretence of making a sally, to throw themselves on Gordon's protection. This accordingly they did, rushing on board the steamer Hyson as if they were capturing it, on which thousands of the Tai-ping
THE FOREIGN ALLIES DESERT THE TAI-PINGS.
troops came out to their assistance, only to be driven back with volleys of shell and shot from the Hyson's artillery, while the steamer turned back and safely landed the deserters in the besieging camp.
When these men were landed it was found that Burgevine himself and several other Europeans were not among them. Morton, their leader, made the excuse that the Moh Wang appeared to suspect their intention, and so he had thought it wisest to leave at once, without waiting for his commander. Fearing that Burgevine would be decapitated in consequence of this movement, Colonel Gordon at once sent a letter and presents to the Mob Wang, entreating him to spare Burgevine's life, and also returned all the Enfield rifles with which the deserters had been armed. It is highly honourable to the Taiping chief that after these events he sent Burgevine off in safety; and that worthy, after being received in Gordon's camp, was sent down to Shanghai. In this bloodless way the Tai-pings lost the greater number of the Europeans who were ranked on their side; and Colonel Gordon must have conducted the affair with boldness and skill, for the Imperialist authorities, aware of the negotiations that were going on, suspected even his loyalty, and he ran the risk of his own officers being enticed over to the enemy. The majority of the Foreigners who thus left the Tai-pings were seamen who had been taken from Soochow to Shanghai, with very little idea of their ultimate destination, Mr Mayers, the acting British Vice-Consul at Shanghai, who was sent to investigate this affair, states in an official letter,* that at one moment, while offering to surrender, Burgevine proposed to bis Lieutenant, Jones, a plan for entrapping Gordon, but the more honest nature of his companion
# Blue-Book, China, No. 3 (1864), p. 169.
revolted against such treachery. The following extract from the statement of Mr Jones, regarding an occurrence which took place immediately before Burgevine's escape, will give a curious idea of the relationships which existed between these adventurers: “At noon I went to Burgevine, who was lying asleep on board a 32-pounder gunboat, and asked him whether I should assist him to get ashore, as many of our officers and men were making remarks on the condition he was in. On his demanding the names of those who had made remarks, I declined giving them, and shortly afterwards again attempted to remonstrate with him, in company with another officer. On my again declining to give up names, Burgevine drew out his four-barrelled pistol, which he cocked and discharged at my head from a distance of about nine inches, The bullet entered my left cheek and passed upwards. It has not yet been extracted. I exclaimed, “You have shot
your best friend l'His answer was, 'I know I have, and I wish to God I had killed you!'” The only reply which Burgevine made to this statement in a letter on the subject which he published in the Shanghai papers, is the following remarkably ingenuous one: “Captain Jones's account of the affair is substantially correct; and I feel great pleasure in bearing testimony to his veracity and candour, whenever any affair with which he is personally acquainted is concerned."
It may be well to notice here Burgevine's further proceedings and unfortunate fate. After his surrender at Soochow the Futai delivered him up to the American Consul, and at the request of Colonel Gordon, that latter functionary waived proceedings against him on condition that he would leave the country. For some time he remained residing quietly at Yokobama, in Japan, where the recalcitrant Daimio, Cho-shiu, who was fighting
BURGEVINE TRIES TO REJOIN THE REBELS.
against the Tycoon, and who had heard of the absurd terror which Burgevine's name inspired in China, offered him an important post in his army. While hesitating as to accepting this offer, the adventurer was prevailed upon to make a trip to Shanghai, early in 1865, in the steamer Fei-pang; and from Shanghai he went down in another vessel to Amoy, near which place a remnant of the Taipings were still in arms. His return to the coast of China seems to have been purely an accidental affair, though extremely improper and imprudent; and on the passage, when spoken to on the subject of joining the Rebels, a few of whom still made a stand at the city of Changchow in Fukien, he expressed his conviction that their game had been played out, and that neither honour por profit were to be got from that quarter. Unfortunately, when he reached Amoy, he fell into the hands of some Rebel sympathisers, and whilst in a state of intoxication, was induced to pledge himself to visit Changchow, and to give all the assistance in his power to the expiring Taiping cause.* It was the duty of the American Consul at this port to have immediately arrested the misguided adventurer on his return to China ; but nothing of the kind was done, and so the Chinese authorities were compelled by the duty which they owed their country to take the matter into their own hands.
The movements of Burgevine were betrayed to these authorities by a black servant who accompanied him, and he was arrested on the 15th May, along with two companions, armed to the teeth, and proceeding to the Rebel lines. Being confined in the Yamun of the district magistrate, the American Consul now demanded his rendition, and to avoid a dispute on this point be was secretly forwarded to Foochow, and there the Consul also demanded bis delivery ; but this request was positively refused, the chief magistrate stating that Burgevine would be sent on to Li, Futai of Kiangsoo, under whose orders he had formerly acted. Immediately on intelligence of this affair reaching Peking, Prince Kung wrote to the American Minister, informivg him of the circumstances, and stating that Burgevine, having made himself amenable to the laws of China, would be judged by these laws, and might be executed as a felon, while three or four other Foreigners who had been taken along with him would be handed over to the jurisdiction of their respective Consuls. Dr S. W. Williams, the acting American Minister at Peking, a gentleman of high character, and of almost unrivalled knowledge of China, seemed disposed to accede to this proposal, but requested his Highness to detain Burgevine in confinement for a few months, free from all insult and injury, whilst the Government at Washington was consulted on the subject. In writing to Mr Seward on this case, Dr Williams said, “I am under the strong impression that this man's conduct has been a reproach to the fair name of all Western nations; for all other Foreigners, so far as I know, who commanded the Imperialists, have acted honourably in this particular, leaving the service if they were dissatisfied, and not turning against it. I am mortified that an American should have held this bad posi
* North China Herald, September 14, 1865.
Dr Williams further pointed out that, wbile the Act of Congress of June 22, 1860, made rebellion against the Chinese Government a capital offence, and while there was no doubt whatever of Burgevine's guilt, the absence and death of important witnesses would render it extremely difficult to convict him in an American court. At the same time, it was very desirable to
* American Diplomatic Correspondence for 1865, p. 454.