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A Fragment: Borgins, Burke, Blacks, Flints - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
A Fragment: Borgins, Burke, Blacks, Flints

It had been a pious – or, rather, a political – fiction that the Statute of Secrecy had succeeded, or had been meant to succeed, in wholly segregating the Muggle and Wizarding worlds.


This was especially so in commerce, in politics, and, most particularly, where the two intersected.


For much of the 16th through 19th Centuries,
AsiaChina in especial – was a vast sink into which the specie of Europe vanished without a trace: tea, spices, porcelain, materials both raw and finished, emanated from Asia, and could be paid for only in cash.  Asia wanted nothing that the West could supply.


Or so it was on the Muggle level.  Wizarding trading was another matter entirely, and the interpenetration of the two could occasionally be glimpsed.


The Borgins had come to
Britain – to England, specifically to London – from across the Channel.  There were those who said that the name was originally ‘Bourgin’ and that their flight was not that of persecuted Wizards, but rather of persecuted Huguenots.  There were those who said that the name was indeed Borgin, and that they were Baltic Jews fleeing the latest pogrom.  What was undeniable was that they were Wizards, and that they were born to mercantile genius – based in no small part to an indifference to traditional and Ministerial distinctions between goods Light and Dark.  To the Borgins, business is business. 


The Burkes, by contrast, consisted of two branches, not counting all the Muggles who shared the de Burgh – Burke surname: a line of Wizarding Nonjurors who refused to accept the Statute of Secrecy 1692, and a branch whose obsessions with blood-purity and segregation, and whose tenuous ties to the worse elements of the House of Black, kept them firmly in the Wizarding world even as their fortunes declined and they dwindled from merchant princes to mere shopkeepers.


It was the Flints who were largely responsible for fostering closer ties between their Black and Burke kinsmen, and this was made the easier because of the somewhat double-minded Wizarding view of those in trade: at the end of the day, in a world in which cauldrons and tea-kettles are magical and the products of magic in their making, the usual class distinctions were rived through by the fundamental separation of those who practised magic, even in their jobs of work, and those who did not and could not do.


In 1736, a young man who would otherwise have been starting Hogwarts, one James Flint, a Squib, found himself in
Macao, where it was hoped that his youth would be an asset to him in his learning Mandarin, a tongue which continued to baffle older European Wizards and Muggles alike.  His employers were the Court of Directors of the Honourable East India Company.  By 1759, a wholly sinicised young man who now spoke Mandarin and several other dialects, and who lived, dressed, and dealt wholly in the manners and customs of Canton, Flint was the official interpreter to John Company’s Canton factories, agents, and ship captains.  He was also the public face of the East India Company’s challenge to the local Hoppo and the Cantonese Co-Hong: for which pains he found himself spending three years’s detention, by decree of the Imperial authorities, at Macao and at Ning-po.


Within a decade of
Flint’s release from detention, the first in the train of events he had – largely inadvertently – begun, had come to pass.  John Company had, through him, found out China’s weakness, a means of exchanging something other than specie for Asia’s inexhaustible supply of goods: the opium trade.  Squib he may have been, but had James Flint been able to attend Hogwarts, there is little doubt that he should have been sorted into Slytherin. 


The East India Company Act 1773, the rise of Warren Hastings, the Opium War of 1840, the seizure of Hong Kong, all these things emanated, in the end, from seemingly inconsequential decisions made by a Squib in Company service, a living embodiment of the sub rosa links between the Muggle and magical worlds; and the impeachment of Hastings, the eventual end of the East India Company, and much else besides, may be seen as a family quarrel involving branches of the House of Black, the Flints, the Dark Burkes, their Borgin partners, and the scion of that branch of the Burkes that stood against the Statute of Secrecy, the man who, himself a shareholder in the Company, was instrumental alike in its attempted regulation and in Hastings’s impeachment, Edmund Burke.


Edmund Burke was the first, and remains one of the greatest, of the Cunning Men, the dissidents who refused to accept the secrecy regime, to have played a great part in the Muggle political arena.  The last to attain the dignity of a Cabinet seat before the Great Rebellion of Tom Riddle and the Restoration changes to the Statute of Secrecy was a member of a dissenting, pro-Muggle, Devon branch of another traditionally Slytherin family, a family from the Vale of the River Otter, hard by Ottery St Catchpole: the Tory Defence Minister during the Falklands War, John Nott.

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Comments
From: kaskait Date: July 10th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I love you, that was fantastic. Do you mind if I rec it to my flist on my lj?

I've been fooling around with ideas about the Warlocks and their behind-the-scenes control of the WW. Your essay clicks a lot into place.

Rowling states her crowd of dissident warlocks were from Liechtenstein. They opposed one of the Ministers because he wanted to give rights to Trolls. I looked up Liechtenstein and they were a pretty quiet area. Except for the fact that the nobles who ruled the area didn't live in the country for many, many years. Rowling didn't go into detail but she set this strongarm maneuver during the age of Revolutions. Sometime between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Hmmmm. I can't tie it up yet. But they are the ones behind this Riddle trouble.

I think for sure that Borgin and Burke's and maybe Ollivander have contacts with the Warlocks.

Thank you!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 10th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Of course.

You need never ask. I lock nothing, and anything I publish is always fair game.

Thank YOU.
bufo_viridis From: bufo_viridis Date: July 10th, 2006 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)
tea, spices, porcelain, materials both raw and finished, emanated from Asia, and could be paid for only in cash. Asia wanted nothing that the West could supply.

China, not especially, but only. I don't remember any other country which had "silver only" policy; during the period the Dutch extended their hold of what is now Indonesia and Spanish in Philippines in Philippines and often paid in sword for the goods. While the duth carried a brisk trade between China and Japan in silks (and even during the period of "closed doors" in Japan sold quite a lot of stuff there, e.g. firearms).

James Flint, a Squib, found himself in Macao, where it was hoped that his youth would be an asset to him in his learning Mandarin

His youth could be an asset, but the location was not; and the greatest problem was that what we understand by "mandarin" didn't exist at the time :(
The highest ranks of the bureaucracy and the court did indeed use a kid of lingua franca, based on Northern dialect, called guan hua - from which today's standard Chinese is to some extent derived. However, they wrote in other language, classical Chinese, and this was their most important qualification. They were also likely to use Manchu, as the ruling dynasty was of Manchu origin.

But in Macao (or in Canton) there would be a handful people using any of those spoken languages; except for oft-rotated governors they would those very governors' translators, enabling them to communicate with local, lowe level officials.
None of them would have time to teach Flint guan hua and it will be of no use to him. Everybody in Canton would use Cantonese anyway.

By 1759, a wholly sinicised young man

Hardly a chance for that. The Europeans were not allowed to reside in China and the missionaries had been ordered to Canton by Yogzheng's decree of 1724. He might learnt a couple of dialects in Macao, but full sinicization would be hard to achieve and would put him on bad footing with his European companions.
Besides if he was "fully sinicised" he would not be so brash to sail to Tianjin this very year and sent his petition, which enraged the emperor so much, that he further limited the trade with the Europeans to Canton, got Flint's teachers executed and him banished.
He served three years in Macao for visiting Ningpo without permission and than Tianjin. The foreigners were expelled as a rule, so he rather didn't serve anything in Ningpo.

John Company had, through him, found out China’s weakness
The Dutch exported opium to China for many years and the British too. In fact first decree prohibiting the selling is from 1629. In 1730 the Brits exported ca. 15 tons of opium in China and that was before Flint arrived there.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 10th, 2006 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)

You're the expert, old man.

John Keay's The Honourable Company was my source, and quotes, although I've not seen the primary source document, Flint's own 1739 journal (he was temporarily back in the Bombay Presidency) that he was to return to Macao and thence to Canton to renew his 'endeavours to make myself acquainted with the Mandareen', whence he travelled inland in disguise as far as Fukien. [A note for those following along at home: James Flint is a real, historical personage, and all his deeds are recorded by historians, quite as much as applies here to Edmund Burke; only his Squibbery and connexion with the Potterverse Flints and Burkes is feigned for purposes of this fiction.] By 1746 he was the EIC's official linguist in Canton, at 90 taels a shipload (thirty quid), and is recorded as dressing, living, and wearing a queue all in the Chinese fashion. I'm sure you're right that all his detention was served in Canton, it was an unwarranted stretch of mine to assume he was held for any appreciable time in Ningpo.

As for the specie issue, the EIC at least found itself unable to sell much in the way of European goods even in India in the period, although, again, I defer to yr expertise. I seem to recall, also, that a lot of Mexican silver ended up in Manila precisely to serve as specie in the Asia trade (as when Anson took the Manila galleon as a prize); nor can I imagine that Japan imported many firearms after the Shimabara Rebellion: didn't that lead to a firearm ban?

And it was, surely, in '73, the same year as the Act and the creation of the Governor-Generalship in India, that John Company formalised its opium monopoly in Bengal, conditioned upon its reselling the opium, by back-channels, to China in defiance of the ban; was it Lintin where the drug-running was centred? In any case, that seems to be the 'official' beginning of significant trade.

Thank you vy much for yr input, I rely upon yr superior knowledge.
bufo_viridis From: bufo_viridis Date: July 11th, 2006 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: You're the expert, old man.

My comments were actually a clear case of TMI, combined with uni-style nitpicking.
If you make two small changes:
where it was hoped that his youth would be an asset to him in his learning Mandarin, a tongue which...
exchanging "Mandarin" for "spoken and classical Chinese, tongues which..."
and changing
By 1759, a wholly sinicised young man who now spoke Mandarin and several other dialects, and who lived, dressed, and dealt wholly in the manners and customs of Canton, Flint was the official...
to
"By 1759, this young man who now spoke several several Chinese dialects, who read and wrote ideograms with a fine brush, who lived, dressed, and dealt wholly in the manners and customs of Canton, Flint was the official..."
you'd be on a very safe ground. Particularies of style I leave of course to you, me trying to emulate your style would be ridiculous :)

The date of 1773 is true, but it marks not a real "start" of the opium trade, as the great increase in quantity, due not to the buyer, but, as you wrote yourself, supplier. In any case, tying Flint too much with start (not the development) of the opium trade would not be too true, I believe.


wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 11th, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks.

It's for the superior expertise of others that I post these as galleys, seeking criticism.

Thank you for doing just that, with skill and grace.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: July 11th, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

Glad it served either to amuse or to divert.
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