<br><h3> Introduction </h3> ALBERT IN BEIJING <p> <i>London, April 3, 1848.</i> Queen Victoria's head hurt. She had been kneeling with her face pressed to the wooden pier for twenty minutes. She was angry, frightened, and tired from fighting back tears; and now it had started raining. The drizzle was soaking her dress, and she only hoped that no one would mistake her shivers for fear. <p> Her husband was right next to her. If she just stretched out her arm, she could rest a hand on his shoulder, or smooth his wet hair—anything to give him strength for what was coming. If only time would stand still—or speed up. If only she and Prince Albert were anywhere but here. <p> And so they waited—Victoria, Albert, the Duke of Wellington, and half the court—on their knees in the rain. Clearly there was a problem on the river. The Chinese armada's flagship was too big to put in at the East India Docks, so Governor Qiying was making his grand entry to London from a smaller armored steamer named after himself, but even the <i>Qiying</i> was uncomfortably large for the docks at Blackwall. Half a dozen tugs were towing her in, with great confusion all around. Qiying was not amused. <p> Out of the corner of her eye Victoria could see the little Chinese band on the pier. Their silk robes and funny hats had looked splendid an hour ago, but were now thoroughly bedraggled in the English rain. Four times the band had struck up some Oriental cacophony, thinking that Qiying's litter was about to be carried ashore, and four times had given up. The fifth time, though, they stuck to it. Victoria's stomach lurched. Qiying must be ashore at last. It was really happening. <p> And then Qiying's envoy was right in front of them, so close that Victoria could see the stitching on his slippers. There were little dragons, puffing smoke and flames. It was much finer work than her own ladies-in-waiting seemed able to do. <p> The envoy droned on, reading the official proclamation from Beijing. Victoria had been told what it said: that the Grand Exemplar the Cultured Emperor Daoguang recognized the British queen's desire to pay her respects to the imperial suzerainty; that Victoria had begged for the opportunity to offer tribute and taxes, paying the utmost obeisance and asking for commands; and that the emperor agreed to treat her realm as one of his inferior domains, and to allow the British to follow the Chinese way. <p> But everyone in Britain knew what had really happened. At first the Chinese had been welcome. They had helped fund the war against Napoleon, who had closed the continent's ports to them. But since 1815 they had been selling their goods at lower and lower prices in Britain's ports, until they put Lancashire's cotton mills out of business. When the British protested and raised tariffs, the Chinese burned the proud Royal Navy, killed Admiral Nelson, and sacked every town along the south coast. For almost eight centuries England had defied all conquerors, but now Victoria's name would go down forever in the annals of shame. Her reign had been an orgy of murder, rapine, and kidnapping; defeat, dishonor, and death. And here was Qiying himself, the evil architect of Emperor Daoguang's will, come to ooze more cant and hypocrisy. <p> At the appropriate moment Victoria's translator, kneeling just behind her, gave a perfect courtier's cough that only the queen could hear. This was the signal: Qiying's minion had reached the part about investing her as a subject ruler. Victoria raised her forehead from the dock and sat up to receive the barbaric cap and robe that signified her nation's dishonor. She got her first good look at Qiying. She did not expect to see such an intelligent- and vigorous-looking middle-aged fellow. Could he really be the monster she had dreaded? And Qiying got his first look at Victoria. He had seen a portrait of her at her coronation, but she was even stouter and plainer than he had expected. And young—very, very young. She was soaked and appeared to have little splinters and bits of mud from the dock all over her face. She did not even know how to kowtow properly. What graceless people! <p> And now came the moment of blackest horror, the unthinkable. With deep bows, two mandarins stepped from behind Qiying and helped Albert to his feet. Victoria knew she should make no sound or gesture—and in very truth, she was frozen to the spot, and could not have protested had she tried. <p> They led Albert away. He moved slowly, with great dignity, then stopped and looked back at Victoria. The world was in that glance. <p> Victoria swooned. A Chinese attendant caught her before she fell to the dock; it would not do to have a queen, even a foreign devil queen, hurt herself at such a moment. Sleepwalking now, his expression frozen and his breath coming in gasps, Albert left his adopted country. Up the gangplank, into the luxurious locked cabin, and on to China, there to be invested as a vassal in the Forbidden City by the emperor himself. <p> By the time Victoria recovered, Albert was gone. Now, finally, great sobs racked her body. It could take Albert half a year to get to Beijing, and the same to get back; and he might wait further months or years among those barbarians until the emperor granted him an audience. What would she do? How could she protect her people, alone? How could she face this wicked Qiying, after what he had done to them? <p> <p> Albert never came back. He reached Beijing, where he astonished the court with his fluent Chinese and his knowledge of the Confucian classics. But on his heels came news that landless farm workers had risen up and were smashing threshing machines all over southern England; and then that bloody street battles were raging in half the capitals of Europe. A few days later the emperor received a letter from Qiying suggesting that it might be best to keep a talented prince like Albert safely out of the country. All this violence was as much about the painful transition to modernity as about the Chinese Empire, but there was no point taking chances with such turbulent people. <p> So Albert stayed in the Forbidden City. He threw away his English suits and grew a Manchu pigtail, and with each passing year his knowledge of the Chinese classics deepened. He grew old, alone among the pagodas, and after thirteen years in the gilded cage, he finally just gave up living. <p> On the other side of the world Victoria shut herself away in under-heated private rooms at Buckingham Palace and ignored her colonial masters. Qiying simply ran Britain without her. Plenty of the so-called politicians would crawl on their bellies to do business with him. There was no state funeral when Victoria died in 1901; just shrugs and wry smiles at the passing of the last relic of the age before the Chinese Empire. <p> <p> <b>LOOTYIN BALMORAL</b> <p> In reality, of course, things didn't happen this way. Or at least, only some of them did. There really was a Chinese ship called the <i>Qiying</i>, and it really did sail into London's East India Docks in April 1848 (Figure But it was not an ironclad gunboat carrying a Chinese governor to London: the real <i>Qiying</i> was just a gaily painted wooden junk. British businessmen in the Crown Colony of Hong Kong had bought the little boat a couple of years before and decided that it would be a jolly jape to send it back to the old country. <p> Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and the Duke of Wellington really did come down to the river, but not to kowtow before their new master. Rather, they came as tourists to gawk at the first Chinese ship ever seen in Britain. <p> The ship really was named after the governor of Guangzhou. But Qiying had not accepted British submission in 1842 after destroying the Royal Navy. In reality, he negotiated China's surrender that same year, after a small British squadron sank every war junk it could find, silenced the coastal batteries, and closed the Grand Canal linking Beijing to the rice-rich Yangzi Valley, threatening the capital with starvation. <p> And Emperor Daoguang really did rule China in 1848. But Daoguang did not tear Victoria and Albert apart: in fact the royal couple lived on in bliss, punctuated by Victoria's moods, until Albert died in 1861. The reality was that Victoria and Albert tore Daoguang apart. <p> History is often stranger than fiction. Victoria's countrymen broke Daoguang and shattered his empire for that most British of vices—a cup of tea (or, to be precise, several billion cups of tea). In the 1790s the British East India Company, which ran much of South Asia as a private fiefdom, was shipping 23 million pounds of Chinese tea leaves to London every year. The profits were enormous, but there was one problem: the Chinese government was not interested in importing British manufactured goods in return. All it wanted was silver, and the company was having trouble raising enough to keep the trade going. So there was much joy when the traders realized that whatever the Chinese government might want, the Chinese people wanted something else: opium. And the best opium grew in India, which the company controlled. At Guangzhou—the one Chinese port where foreigners could trade—merchants sold opium for silver, used the silver to buy tea, then sold the tea for even greater profits back in London. <p> As so often in business, though, solving one problem just created another. Indians ate opium and Britons dissolved it and drank it, consuming ten to twenty tons every year (some of it going to calm babies). Both techniques produced mildly narcotic effects, enough to inspire the odd poet and stimulate a few earls and dukes to new debaucheries, but nothing to worry about. The Chinese, on the other hand, smoked it. The difference was not unlike that between chewing coca leaves and lighting up a crack pipe. British drug dealers contrived to overlook this difference but Daoguang did not, and in 1839 declared war on drugs. <p> It was an odd war, which quickly degenerated into a personal face-off between Daoguang's drug czar, Commissioner Lin Zexu, and the British superintendent of trade at Guangzhou, Captain Charles Elliot. When Elliot realized he was losing, he persuaded the traders to surrender a staggering seventeen hundred tons of opium to Lin; and he got the traders to agree to this by guaranteeing that the British government would reimburse them for their losses. The merchants did not know if Elliot actually had the authority to promise this, but they grabbed the offer all the same. Lin got his opium; Elliot saved face and kept the tea trade moving; and the merchants got top price (plus interest and shipping) for their drugs. Everyone won. <p> Everyone, that is, except Lord Melbourne, Britain's prime minister. Melbourne, who was expected to find 2 million to compensate the drug dealers, did <i>not</i> win. It should have been madness for a mere naval captain to put a prime minister on the spot like this, but Elliot knew he could rely on the business community to lobby Parliament to recover the money. And so it was that personal, political, and financial interests thickened around Melbourne until he had no choice but to pay up and then send an expedition to make the Chinese government reimburse Britain for the confiscated opium (Figure I.2). <p> This was not the British Empire's finest hour. Contemporary analogies are never precise, but it was rather as if in response to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency making a major bust, the Tijuana cartel prevailed on the Mexican government to shoot its way into San Diego, demanding that the White House reimburse the drug lords for the street value of the confiscated cocaine (plus interest and carriage charges) as well as paying the costs of the military expedition. Imagine, too, that while it was in the neighborhood, a Mexican fleet seized Catalina Island as a base for future operations and threatened to blockade Washington until Congress gave the Tijuana drug lords monopoly rights in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. <p> The difference, of course, is that Mexico is in no position to bombard San Diego, while in 1839 Britain could do whatever it wanted. British ships brushed aside China's defenses and Qiying signed a humiliating treaty, opening China to trade and missionaries. Daoguang's wives were not carried of to London, the way Albert went to Beijing in the scene I imagined at the beginning of this introduction, but the "Opium War" broke Daoguang all the same. He had let down 300 million subjects and betrayed two thousand years of tradition. He was right to feel like a failure. China was coming apart. Addiction soared, the state lost control, and custom crumbled. <p> Into this uncertain world came a failed civil service candidate named Hong Xiuquan, who had grown up just outside Guangzhou. Four times Hong had trekked to the city to take the arduous civil service entrance exams; four times he had flunked. Finally, in 1843, he collapsed and had to be carried back to his village. In his fevered dreams, angels took him up to heaven. There he met a man who, he was told, was his elder brother, and standing shoulder-to-shoulder the two of them battled demons under their bearded father's gaze. <p> No one in the village could make sense of this dream, and Hong seemed to forget about it for several years, until one day he opened a little book he had been given in Guangzhou on one of his trips to the examination hall. It summarized the Christians' sacred texts—and, Hong realized, held the key to his dream. The brother in his dream was obviously Jesus, which made Hong God's Chinese son. He and Jesus had chased the demons out of heaven, but the dream seemed to mean that God wanted Hong to expel them from earth, too. Patching together a mix of evangelical Christianity and Confucianism, Hong proclaimed a Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. Angry peasants and bandits flocked to his banner. By 1850 his motley crew was defeating the disorganized imperial armies sent against him, and he followed God's will by introducing radical social reforms. He redistributed land, legislated equal rights for women, and even banned footbinding. <p> In the early 1860s, while Americans slaughtered each other with artillery and repeating riles in the world's first modern war, the Chinese were doing the same with cutlasses and pikes in the world's last traditional war. For sheer horror, the traditional version far outdid the modern one. Twenty million died, mostly through starvation and disease, and Western diplomats and generals exploited the chaos to push farther into East Asia. In 1854, looking for coaling stations between California and China, the American Commodore Perry forced Japan's ports open. In 1858 Britain, France, and the United States won new concessions from China. Emperor Xianfeng, who understandably hated the foreign devils who had destroyed his father, Daoguang, and were now exploiting his war against Hong, tried to wriggle out of the new treaty, but when Xianfeng got difficult, the British and French governments made him an offer he couldn't refuse. They marched on Beijing and Xianfeng beat an undignified retreat to a nearby vacation spot. The Europeans then burned his beautiful Summer Palace, letting him know they could do the same to the Forbidden City if they felt like it, and Xianfeng caved in. Shattered even more badly than his father had been, he refused to leave his hiding place or meet with officials ever again, and retreated into drugs and sex. He died a year later. <p> Prince Albert expired just a few months after Xianfeng. Despite spending years campaigning to persuade the British government that poor drains spread disease, Albert probably died from typhoid carried through Windsor Castle's wretched sewers. Sadder still, Victoria—as deeply enamored of modern plumbing as Albert—was in the bathroom when he passed away. <p> Robbed of the love of her life, Victoria sank deeper into moods and melancholy. But she was not completely alone. British officers presented her with one of the finest curiosities they had looted from the Summer Palace at Beijing: a Pekinese dog. She named him Looty. <p> <p> <b>LOCKING IN</b> <p> Why did history follow the path that took Looty to Balmoral Castle, there to grow old with Victoria, rather than the one that took Albert to study Confucius in Beijing? Why did British boats shoot their way up the Yangzi in 1842, rather than Chinese ones up the Thames? To put it bluntly: Why does the West rule? <p> "Excerpted from WHY THE WEST RULES—FOR NOW: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris, published in October 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2010 by Ian Morris. All rights reserved." <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Why The West Rules—for Now</b> by <b>Ian Morris</b> Copyright © 2010 by Ian Morris. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.