THE OPIUM TRADE
INDIA AND CHINA
SOME OE ITS PRESENT ASPECTS.
Reprinted from, â€œThe Colonial Intelligencerâ€ for December, 1869, and May, 1870.
PUBLISHED FOR THE ABORIGINESâ€™ PROTECTION SOCIETY, BY WILLIAM TWEEDIE, 337, STRAND.
Price One Shilling.
Sir Wilfrid Lawson has given notice of the following motion, which stands for debate on the 10th of May :â€”
â€œ That this House condemns the system by which a large portion of the Indian Revenue is raised from Opium.â€
A desire to contribute some information on the subject of this motion has induced the Committee of the Aborigines* Protection Society to order the republication of the two articles which appear in the following pages. The writer is conscious of their defects; but he has spared no pains to obtain accurate information upon a subject which has excited little public discussion in this country since the date of the excellent pamphlets written by General Alexander and the Rev. William Tait. The attention of members of the House of Commons is especially invited to the evidence which is now brought before them, in the hope that, by supporting Sir Wilfred Lawsonâ€™s motion, they will help to reverse a policy which has proved as injurious to the reputation of Great Britain as it has been disastrous to the people of China.
Communications on the subject should be addressed to F. W. CHESSON,
Secretary of the Aboriginesâ€™ Protection Society.
7, Adam Street, lsi May, 1870.
THE OPIUM TRAFFIC.
After the lapse of many years the question of the Opium Traffic Parlia-
has again been discussed in Parliament. The country owes a debt
of gratitude to Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Mr. R. N. Fowler, and Mr.
Arthur Kinnaird for their earnest protests against the forced
cultivation of a drug which is notoriously the means every year of
poisoning many thousands of the people of China, and producing
physical and moral evils of the most appalling character. In the
first instance Sir Wilfrid Lawson asked the Under Secretary for
India whether it was true, that whilst an Imperial order had been
issued prohibiting the cultivation of opium in India, steps had
been taken to increase its production in Bengal. Mr. Grant Duff
replied that there was no connection between the two events ; that,
in fact, the only object sought by the Indian Government was â€œ to
steady prices and to mitigate some of the uncertainties which
embarrass the Indian financier.â€ We think that this explanation
can hardly be deemed a satisfactory one ; at all events, it is both
immoral and impolitic to endeavour to relieve Indian finance of
embarrassment by producing opium in enormous quantities for the
Chinese market. The Celestial Government has issued another edict J^ict of the Kmpe
prohibiting the domestic cultivation of the drug, but so long as the ror. foreign trade continues it is impossible that the edict can be any thing more than a bruturn fulmen. It appears that in February 1869 one of the censors addressed a memorial to the throne complaining that the native cultivation of the opium poppy was injuring the production of food, and causing the starvation of thousands of the people. The censor, according to Mr. Edkins the missionary at Pekin, stated that there had been, â€œa great â€œ scarcity of food in Shensi and Kiangsu, where the opium farm-â€œ ing mostly prevailsâ€ ; and that â€œthe labourers give their strength â€œ and time to the poppy while wheat and millet are neglected.â€
The Pall Jtfall G-azette states that the cultivation of the poppy, which had its origin in Tunnan, has spread to Szchuen, Shensi,
Indian opium revenue.
Shansi, Kiangsu, Honan, Shantung and Manchuria. Another journal declares â€œ that last year the crop in Szchuen produced 50,000 piculs, while a traveller who lately visited Manchuria found that in the richer and more fertile districts the poppy was rapidly superseding all other crops.â€ No further proof is needed of the rapid and desolating progress of opium cultivation in China.
There is no doubt that the Mandarins are a corrupt class, â€œ only too accessible to bribes,â€ but it is manifest that the gigantic opium trade, which was legalized by the treaty of Tientsin, and which is supported by the whole authority of Great Britain, equally tends to render the Imperial edict inoperative.
England ought surely to blush at the fruits of her own policy, as seen in the lamentably disorganized condition of China. The rulers of that country have always been sensible of the miseries which the opium trade has inflicted upon the people. But the enforced importation of a steadily increasing foreign supply, amounting to eighty thousand chests a year, or four times the quantity the destruction of which by Commissioner Lin occasioned the notorious opium war of 1841, has naturally led to the more extensive cultivation of the drug in China itself, and to the consequent inability of the Governmentâ€”cruelly weakened as it has been by foreign wars and dofnestic rebellionsâ€”to enforce its own edicts. In seventeeen years the value of the opium exported from India has risen from 5,500,000Z. to 12,000,000Z., and our Indian administrators are now able to urge the plausible excuse that the abandonment of the traffic would entirely derange the revenues of India, and create a deficit large enough to put an end to all expenditure for public works. It is impossible to admit this as a valid argument, or to withhold assent from the proposition laid down by Sir Wilfrid Lawson, that â€œ morality should be preferred to revenue.â€ We believe that the Government of China would gladly prohibit the importation of opium if it dared ; but, in its present enfeebled state, it naturally fears to provoke the hostility of a nation which, in the East, has too often employed its enormous physical power to enforce its purely material interests. If it were free to act towards the foreign trade according to its better instincts, it might then be strong enough to put the law in force against the Chinese opium growers who, as well as the Indian Government, pander to the depraved tastes of three or four millions of the people. At all events, the fact that the Chinese are demoralizing one another is no reason why we should implicate ourselves in this crime against human nature. In the light of morality we share their guilt, if indeed we are not the authors of it.
Sir Charles Wingfield, in the recent debate, pointed out that half of the increase in the Indian revenue was derived from opium and saltâ€”sources of revenue as precarious as they are immoral. Salt is a prime necessity of life : yet in the north of India it is subjected to a tax of six shillings per eighty pounds, and, south of a certain line, it is taxed to half that amount. A country cannot be called either prosperous or financially well governed whose revenue from opium amounts to 9,000,000Z. and from salt to 5,700,000Z. per annum. The Hindoo Patriot of the 23rd August explains the nature of British connection with the cultivation of the poppy in India:â€”â€œ In the British territory it is grown only in Behar and Benares, and, out of it, it is produced in Malwa. As the cultivation of the poppy has been prohibited in the British territories by law, except under the agency of the Government, no private individual can manufacture it. The whole of the profits, as a matter of course, is appropriated by the Government. As regards the Malwa drug, the Government levies a pass duty which compensates it.
The proceeds of this duty are credited to the Bombay treasury.â€ According to the Indian Economist nine-tenths of the opium that finds its way to Bombay is grown in territories of the native princes of Central India, chiefly Malwa, and this opium is allowed to pass the frontier only upon payment of a duty of Ils. 600 per chest of 140 lbs. ; but as is pointed out by the Hindoo Patriot (although the object of the writer was to illustrate a different argument)
â€œ we now held the whole sea-board of India, and the merchants of Malwa could find no outlet for their opium, save through British territory.â€
These explanations substantially agree with Mr. Grant Duffâ€™s statement, that â€œ our opium revenue was derived from two sources â€œ â€”first, from the opium grown under our own superintendence â€œ and prepared for exportation at Patna, in Bengal, and at Gazee-â€œ pore, in the North-west provinces, after which it was sold by â€œ public auction for Government account; and, secondly, from a â€œ transit duty levied on the opium grown in the States of Central â€œ India and shipped at Bombay.â€
Mr. Grant Duff remarked that â€œ no one who occupied himself Grant â€œ about Indian finance could he altogether happy about this re- Duffâ€™s â€œ venue.â€ We should think not. views.
â€œ It was exposed, as it seemed to liim, to three dangers ; first, torthe possibility of some movement in China which might effectually close that market; secondly, to an effective competition in the Chinese market from other countries; and, thirdly, to such an improvement in the manufacture of opium in China itself as to
make it independent of the Indian supply. The first of those dangers was not an imaginary one, for we knew that hostility to the poppy was one of the many strange characteristics of that terrible rebellion, mis-named the Great Peace, which lately desolated so many cities in the Flowery Land, and added by its results one more irony to history. Nevertheless, he could not believe that any movement of this kind would ever be so general in Chinaâ€”a country, be it remembered, which was equal in size to eighteen Great Britainsâ€”as to lead to anything like a cessation of our traffic. Nay, he rather expected that increased communication with Western China would favour it. As to the second dangerâ€”the increase of competition from other countries, especially Persiaâ€”some persons thought it the gravest of the three, but it had not yet been proved that the supply was likely to increase very much. As to the third danger, the best authorities told us, that although the poppy was very largely grown in some parts of Chinaâ€”for instance, in the great province of Szchuenâ€”the Chinese drug could not compete with the Indian, which stood to it in the relation of the Havana cigar to the ordinary European produce. At the same time, no one could venture to say that this superiority would always continue.â€
Surely no line of argument could more conclusively prove the desirability of our not continuing to regard opium as a permanent source of revenue; while, on the other hand, the reasons which the Under Secretary gives for taking a more hopeful view of the prospects of the traffic are manifestly injurious to the character of this country. It is no credit to Great Britain that she cultivates opium which stands to the Chinese commodity in the relation of the Havana to the European cigar; and it is certainly no credit to her that advantage is to be taken of an improved communication with Western China to foist upon the inhabitants of those provinces a pestilent drug.
The Chi- Mr. Grant Duffâ€™s somewhat optimist view is not shared in by planting1" Â°^er authorities. The Globe states, that at â€œ the present day the Indian â€œ prepared native opium has almost entirely supplanted that of
opium. Â« Indian growth in many districts formerly supplied from Hankow,
â€œ and has recently found its way to Shanghai, where it has been â€œ offered in the market, at prices far below the cost of the foreign â€œ drug ; and although the rapid spread of opium smoking among â€œ all classes of the Chinese has prevented any decline in the quan-â€œ tity of Indian opium imported, the competition it has met with â€œ has materially lowered its price.â€ It appears from the figures quoted by our contemporary, that while Malwa in 1866 was worth 650 taels per chest, in 1868 it fetched only 500 taels, and that, although the native opium â€œ is at first unpalatable to those un-â€œ accustomed to its use, a taste for it is very easily acquired, while â€œ its comparative cheapness is an irresistible argument in its favour.â€ There is also the further advantage in favour of the native grower that â€œ while the import duty on the foreign drug is as much as
: â– ' w ;
â€œ thirty taels per picul, the taxes on the same quantity of native â€œ opium amount to only three taels and a halfâ€”a difference which â€œ partly enables the grower to sell his opium at a price about 250 â€œtaels per chest less than that which is imported.â€ Thus the more extensively the native poppy is cultivated, the greater is the loss to the Imperial revenue ; that is, so far as the native growers supersede the foreign merchants. It is therefore probable that tbe motive which prompted the Emperorâ€™s decree was a mixed one.
He sees his revenue declining in consequence of the successful competition of the home-grown with the foreign poppy. He sees his people starving, and yet the richest districts of his empire as really unproductive as if they had been devastated by fire and. sword: fire and sword, indeed, would be far less permanently injurious than opium.
â€œ A Calcutta merchant,â€ in a letter published in the Times of the 3rd November, strongly confirms tbe views of those who regard the prospects of the Indian opium revenue with despondency. He quotes the following abstract of the report of a deputation of the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce which had ascended the great river Yang-tze for a distance of about 1500 miles :â€”â€œ Upon the question of the â€œ competition of the native-grown opium with the foreign drug, the â€œ delegates, after carefully reviewing the subject, express their â€œ opinion that no other conclusion can be arrived at than that the â€œ native-grown opium is actually superseding the foreign produce.
â€œ Since the year 1SG6 the Indian trade has not increased, while â€œ there is undoubted testimony to the fact that the actual con-â€œ sumption of the drug in China is growing steadily from year to â€œ year. The native drug is allowed to have neither the strength â€œnor flavour of imported opium, but its low cost lias.enabled it â€œ to displace it in the interior.â€ It appears that Mr. Caine, the British consul at Hankow, makes a similar report from that city and states thatÂ«the opium grown in the province of Szchuen â€œ costs â€œ only about 230 taels against 615 taels, the last price of Malwa.â€
So again with regard to Persia, Mr. Grant Duffâ€™s vaticinations Persian appear to be open to considerable doubt. The Pall Mall G-azette Compel i states, that â€œ fifteen years ago what opium was raised in the for-â€œ mer country was sold in the bazaars for export through Herat,
â€œ Bokhara, and Tartary, to the Chinese border, at an average price â€œ of four guineas for the man of 13 jib. The cost of transport and â€œ the risk made the traxle insignificant. Last year about 600 â€œ mans were grown for home consumption alone, and nearly 1500 â€œ mans were exported either through Aden, by French steamers â€œ or to Batavia direct for transhipment to China. As the cli-
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â€œ mate is everywhere favourable to the plant, there is hardly a â€œ province where it is not grown. In Yezd and Ispahan the out-â€œ turn is very large, though the quality is poor. The price for the â€œ unprepared drug in the Persian market now ranges from 7Z. to â€œ 11Z. a man, and for a man of the best kind of the drug, in its â€œ manufactured state, 12Z. is without difficulty obtainable. The only â€œ way in which the Indian Government can recoup itself for the loss â€œ by competition, is by inducing Persian merchants to use Indian â€œ ports and ships for the purpose of the export. At present the â€œ law does not allow of this, but a Bill is before the Legislative â€œ Council which will permit transhipment for a moderate fee.â€
From these statements it will appear that the opium revenue is really exposed to great danger; that it is the duty of the Indian Government at once to set its house in order; and that a feeling of compassion for the difficulties which beset the rulers of China (to say nothing of higher considerations) should induce Great Britain, while there is yet time, to withdraw from all active participation in the iniquities of the traffic, and to assist the Chinese Government, by the weight of her moral example and influence, to close their ports against the drug, and thus to enable them to enforce the laws against their own subjects.
Moral and We are, however, gravely assured that â€œ the use of opium is not
physical a curse pu^ a comfort and a benefit to the hard-working Chinese.â€
evils of the . Â°
traffic. There are men who can say this, although Mr. Grant Duff is not
one of them ; for he, it will be remembered, declared that no one who occupied himself with Indian finance could be altogether happy about the opium revenue. The G-lole saysâ€”and a greater amount of truth was never expressed in fewer wordsâ€”that â€œ the great diminution in the rate of increase of population, the widespread poverty, and the rapid growth of brigandage, are in a great measure traceable to its influence.â€ Opium taken at twenty, if its use be freely indulged in, kills at thirty ; and it is estimated that every year one hundred thousand Chinese are destroyed by this fatal habit. A British merchant has said that â€œ there is no slavery on earth to name with the bondage into which opium casts its victims ; â€ and a native painter, after the manner of Hogarth, has pourtrayed the progress of the opium smoker from his vigorous youth to his premature grave.
Innumerable opinions might be quoted in support of these statements. Mr. Fowler cited the declaration of the East-India Company, that if it were possible to restrict the consumption of opium to strictly medical purposes, they would gladly do it for the sake of humanity. Dr. Medhurst, whose authority will hardly be
questioned even by those who regard the use of opium as â€œ a comfort and a benefit,â€ says that â€œ those who grow and sell the drug, while they profit by the speculation, would do well to follow the consumer into the haunts of vice, and mark the wretchedness, poverty, disease, and death, which follow the indulgence ; for did they but know the thousandth part of the evils resulting from it they would not, they could not, continue to engage in the transaction.â€ Similar testimonies might he quoted from Dr. Lockhart, the author of â€œ The Medical Missionary in China,â€ M. Hue, the French traveller, Mr. Williams, the author of â€œ The Middle Kingdom,â€ and many other writers of repute. But there is one authority on this subject whose remarks are so replete with instruction, that we are tempted to quote them without abridgement. Dr. Bridges, now a Poor Law-Commissioner, in the essay on China which he contributed to the volume entitled â€œ International Policy,â€ says,â€”
â€œ It is the interest, or the supposed interest, of the Indian Government to derive a revenue of from five to eight millions from the sale of opium to China. Every sophistry is therefore used to persuade the public, of what every medical man in Europe knows to be false, that opium, in quantities of a few grains daily, is not injurious to health ; and on the basis of that falsehood to found the inference, that if its excess be hurtful, that is no more than may be said of the abuse of alcoholic liquor; that its prohibition by Government would therefore stand on the same footing as the prohibition of wine, beer, and spirits, demanded by the supporters of the Maine liquor law, condemned by most reasonable men, on the ground that the abuse of a thing is no argument against its use. I say then, first, that every every medical man in Europe knows, that whereas the use of beer or wine in small quantities is in most cases not injurious, the constant use even of small doses of opium, except in certain cases of disease, is injurious exceedingly. Secondly, whereas beer or wine can easily be taken in moderation, like tea or coffee, from year to year, without increasing the quantity, opium cannot. It requires constant increase to produce its pleasurable effects. This is a practical distinction of the greatest moment. In large manufacturing towns especially, where mothers of families work in factories, the physician sees its baneful effects on children to whom it is given by the tired nurse. The dose must be constantly increased. Two drops of laudanum, that is, one tenth of a grain of opium, are enough to kill an infant of a month old. But under the sedulous ministrations of the nurse, a dose of sixty drops, equal to three full doses for an adult, is at last tolerated and demanded. In Bradford the rate of mortality for all classes is high, 25 to 28 per 1000, as compared with the average in the community of 22. But the mortality of children under five years is out of proportion even to that high standard, 230 per 1000, as compared with the general English rate of 150. This I know from personal experience to be largely due to opium. But it would be entirely erroneous to measure the mischievous effects of opium merely or mainly by its effects in shortening life. Nor is it on the intellectual faculties that its worst evils primarily and directly fall ? It is the manhood, the energy, the will, the concentration of purpose that in the first place are attacked and undermined. The life-long suicide of Coleridge aud De Quincy is painful evidence of this.
â€œ I need not say, that in the consensus of our nature morale and physique are inextricably bound together; and that this moral degradation is accompanied or followed by physical suffering. â€˜Among the symptoms that present themselves,â€™ says Dr. Medhurst, quoting from a medical report, â€˜ are griping pains in the bowels pain in the limbs, loss of appetite, so that the smoker can only eat dainty food disturbed sleep, and general emaciation.. The outward appearances are, sallowness of the complexion, bloodless cheeks and lips, sunken eyes, with a dark circle round the eyelids, and altogether a haggard countenance. There is a peculiar appearance in the face of a smoker not noticed in any other condition ; the skin assumes a pale, waxy appearance, and as if all the fat were removed from beneath the skin. The hollows of the countenance, the eyelids, root of the ala nasi, fissure and corners of lips, depression at the angle of the jaw, temples, &c., take on a peculiar dark appearance, not like that resulting from various chronic diseases, but as if some dark matter were deposited beneath the skin; there is also a fulness and protrusion of the lips, arising perhaps from the continued use of the large mouth-piece peculiar to the opium pipe. In fine, a confirmed opium smoker presents a most melancholy appearance, haggard, dejected, with a lack-lustre eye, and a slovenly, weakly and feeble gait.â€™ And if these evils are supposed exceptional, read the following description of our own native coolie force in China, written by one of its English officers :â€”â€˜ They all behaved well underfire, and some of them did acts that would have given the Victoria cross to any Englishman, had he done the same. Their powers of endurance are wonderful: I have known them work hard in a hot sun for ten or twelve hours, and not grumble, when they saw that a certain amount of work had to be done. They drink very little, they are great hands at languages :
.........Their great bane is opium : and I do not think it is possible for any
of them who have taken it to give it up ; consequently, by the time they are forty years old they are old men.â€™ â€
Sir Wilfrid Lawson has given notice of his intention to bring forward, in the next session of Parliament, a motion condemnatory of the traffic. We hope he will persevere with his intention, and that our countrymen will sustain him in his efforts to relieve them of a load of shame. They cannot do better than act in the spirit of a Chinese statesman, who, in reference to this very evil, said, that â€œhaving a clear conviction that the thing is highly injurious to men, to permit it notwithstanding to pervade the empireâ€”nay, even to lay on it a dutyâ€”is conduct quite incompatible with the dignity of the great and illustrious Celestial Empire.
In conclusion, we cannot forbear quoting an impressive passage, in which the present Prime Minister, speaking in the year 1810, denounced the war with China, and stigmatized the nefarious traffic which was the cause of that unhappily too successful attempt to foist upon the Chinese a poisonous narcotic. â€œ A war more unjust in its origin,â€ said Mr. Gladstone, â€œ a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent disgrace, he did not know and had not read of ! If the British flag were never to he hoisted except as it was then hoisted on the coast of China, we should recoil from its sight with horror. Justice, in his opinion,
was with the Chinese. Whilst they, the Pagans, had substantial justice on their side, we, the enlightened and civilized Christians, were pursuing objects at variance both with justice and religion.
â€œ Truth eventually will prevail. Stubborn facts will force their on
way through the scanty covering thrown around them by interested the first falsehood and special pleading, and will be laid bare to the gaze of Â°P,um wai-an indignant world in their native deformity. The crimes and follies, the mixture of arrogance, meanness and cruelty, which have marked the conduct of the contraband dealers in opium, and the forbearance and leniency of the Chinese Government, will be ascertained and duly appreciated. And it will be seen that this property, the confiscation of which is the pretext for war, was not torn from unoffending merchants by a tyrannical power, nor with sudden violence, but was lawfully and reluctantly taken upon high and pure moral grounds by the hand of retributive justice.â€*
These solemn words of a British officer, who had the courage to arraign the fatuous policy of his country in the East when to do so was to invite personal obloquy and misrepresentation, would appear to be on the eve of realization. Certain it is that the old rules of action with regard to China have been discarded, that the mission of the late lamented Mr. Burlingame was followed by the general recognition of the status of China as an independent state, entitled to take her place in the family of nations, and that now in no quarter is there a disposition to defend the iniquities of the old opium war. Captain Bullockâ€™s pamphlet was written in reply to an elaborate piece of special pleading by Mr.
Samuel Warren, who exhausted a lawyerâ€™s ingenuity in devising reasons to justify our going to war with China. Mr. Warrenâ€™s tortuous and tawdry arguments are forgotten, and what stand out in history are the ugly facts, that for the sake of the opium merchants and their illicit trade we embarked in an unjust and sanguinary war with the Chinese empire ; that after destroying thousands of lives and entailing untold misery upon the people whose dwellings we fired and whose commerce we ruined, we levied an enormous tribute upon them to defray the expenses occasioned by the war ; that having accomplished our immediate object, we
* â€œThe Chinese Vindicated.â€ By Captain T. H. Bullock. London, 1840.
never rested until a treaty sanction was imparted to a traffic by which millions of Chinese have been degraded in mind and body, and hurried prematurely to their graves; that we have, by exceptional means, stimulated tbe growth of the poison in our Indian empire, devoting to the purpose some of the best lands in that country ; and finally, that we have, by a succession of wars, all growing out of the original wrong, so weakened the Chinese Government, so enfeebled its authority over its own subjects, that, in spite of successive edicts prohibiting tbe cultivation, opium is now grown in districts which formerly supplied food for the people, thus inflicting upon the Chinese a dearth of the necessaries of life, and rendering them liable to the horrors of famine. These are the fruits of the opium war of 1840, a war for which England is exclusively responsible.
The question now is, whether England is prepared to continue in the path which she has pursued for thirty years with a steadfastness worthy of a far better object. For the answer to this question we must look to the division which will take place on the motion which Sir Wilfred Lawson is about to submit to tbe House of Commons. It will then be seen whether, in the judgment of that assembly, the cause of morality and the obligation of a Christian nation to enforce its own precepts by a consistent example, are to be subordinated to mercenary considerations,â€”whether, in fact, the Chinese shall be sacrificed that India may not suffer from a deficit.
Sir Wil- The arguments in favour of the retention of the opium traffic as n^nuteUir ? a source revenue are two-fold. In the first place, it is asserted that the Indian Government cannot afford to lose the seven millions sterling per annum which is the net contribution to tbe Indian exchequer from this nefarious source ; and it is also alleged that the ryots who are engaged in the cultivation of the poppy are better off than the great majority of their countrymen of the same class. On this point a correspondent in Bombay writes as follows:â€” â€œ Two years ago Sir W. Muir, the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces, wrote a minute, in which he earnestly contends, mainly on fiscal and political grounds, against the con-
tinuance of government cultivation. His views were not accepted by bis colleagues, mainly, I believe, because of their apprehension that, by relegating the production to private enterprise, the ryot would come to grief; and most assuredly very close magisterial supervision, and perhaps vexatious legislation, would be necessary for his security, whereas under the present system of government cultivation, the growers of the weed are, I believe, in a much better position than the ordinary Bengal ryot, tbe victim of the zemindar.â€
We cannot admit that, in a matter so nearly touching the national honour, the question of the morality of the government connection with the cultivation of opium is at all affected by the improved condition of the ryot under the existing system. The fact, however, that the throwing of the cultivation of opium into private hands would exert a deteriorating influence on the ryot certainly constitutes an argument, not only against our attempting to evade the responsibility of carrying on the cultivation by transferring it absolutely to the Indian peasantry, but also in favour of our suppressing the trade altogether. If it be admitted, with Sir W. Muir, that a change is desirable on â€œ fiscal and political grounds,â€ it is surely important that the change should not be of a nature to render the cultivators of the soil liable to extortion and injustice ; and the only other alternative is to stop the growth and exportation of the poppy entirely, except for medicinal purposes. The adoption of stringent measures might also tend to check the use of opium among the Rajpoots, who are great consumers of the drug.
A large portion of Sir William Muirâ€™s minute is taken up with an attempt to show that some â€œ standard should be recognised â€œ by which the tension of the duty (levied by the Government of â€œ India) should be tested from year to year,â€ and that the duty should either be raised or lowered according to the reports received from the Chinese market. Sir William thinks that this would help to steady the marketâ€”a view in regard to which it is unnecessary that we should follow him. Incidentally he remarks, that â€œ by â€œ increasing its supply of â€˜ provisionâ€™ opium, it (the Bengal Govern-â€œ ment) has repeatedly caused a glut in the Chinese market, a col-â€œ lapse of prices in India, and extensive bankruptcy and misery in â€œ Malwa. The uncertainty so produced has gone a great way to-â€œ wards stimulating the spirit of unsound speculation and gambling â€œ which characterizes the trade, and has ruined many a firm in â€œ Western India.â€ Sir W. Muir then proceeds to make this yet more important statement:â€”â€œ I am the more in earnest,â€ he says, â€œ in seeking that a satisfactory standard should be adopted for the â€œ adjustment of the Bombay rate of export duty, because in this â€œ course lies the only prospect of superseding the singular, and to â€œ my mind objectionable, arrangement under which the Bengal â€œ Government monopolizes the growth, manufacture, and sale of â€œ the drug. While in the Revenue Board of the North-west â€œ Provinces, I ventured repeatedly to bring the subject before â€œ Government, and to urge the expediency of substituting for the â€œ monopoly a system of export duty. Further consideration â€œ strengthens my conviction that an attempt should be made in
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â€œ that direction.â€ Sir William pursues his economical argument at some length, and particularly remarks upon â€œ the inconvenience â€œ and loss to Government from the locking up of the enormous â€œ sums distributed in advance to the cultivators.â€ No interest on these monies is charged to the opium department, although, according to Sir Charles Trevelyan, â€œ the greater part of the advances of â€œ two years must always be outstanding ; â€ the amount lent out being, in 1861, estimated at two millions and three quarters sterling. The closing paragraphs of the memorandum, which is dated 22nd February 1868, are too remarkable to be omitted :â€”
Proposed â€œ The change would relieve the British government from the odious imputation separation of pandering to the vice of China by over-stimulating production, over stocking Indian 6ie mar^e^â€™ an(^ flooding China with the drug, in order to raise a wider and more govern- secure revenue to itself; an imputation of which, at least on one occasion, I fear ment from that we are not wholly guiltless. A few years ago, when the government of the traffic. Bengal was straining every nerve to extend the cultivation of the poppy, I was witness to the discontent of the agricultural population in certain districts west of the Jumna, from which the crop was for the first time being raised. Where the system of advance has long been in vogue, and the mode of preparing the drug well understood, no doubt the poppy is a popular crop ; though even there the system of government monopoly gives to government officers a power of interference over those who have once taken their advances which must be liable to abuse. But the case to which I allude was that of new districts, where the poppy had not hitherto been grown, and into which the Bengal Board were endeavouring to extend the cultivation by the bait of large advances among an unwilling peasantry, and at the risk of inoculating them with a taste for a deleterious drug, and all this with the sole view of securing a wider area of poppy cultivation, and thus a firmer grasp of the China market. Witnessing this when on, circuit in 1864, the impropriety of the position was to my mind so painful, that, as the Governor-general may perhaps recollect, I ventured at the time to
address His Excellency directly on the subject.
â€œ By retiring from the monopoly, the government of India will avoid these and
all other unseemly imputations. China wants opium, our traders and merchants are ready to supply it. The licence duty will still support the revenue ; and thus the action of government will be that of check, and no longer of stimulus. The fluctuations in the demands of China will be met in the ordinary source of trade, by corresponding variations in the supply from India. The area of cultivation will be adjusted by the direct action of the Chinese themselves upon speculators and producers, and will no longer depend upon the arbitrary will of the government.
â€œ To bring about results so desirable in themselves, and so closely affecting the good name of the British government, is surely a sufficient warrant for the appointment of a Commission.
Opinions expressed by so high an authority have no doubt produced a powerful impression in official quarters â– and indeed the statement has been made with great confidence that the Indian government is now considering the expediency of relegating the cultivation of the poppy to private hands.
It is true that the abandonment of opium as a source of revenue would have the effect of occasioning a temporary derangement of the finances of India, although it must be remembered that the same result will be produced by the increased growth of the poppy in Chinaâ€”an increased growth which will never he arrested so long as the Chinese Government is compelled to pass the foreign article through its custom-houses. But experience has shown that the Indian revenues are not unelastic. As great works of public utility are carried out, and private enterprise becomes more widely diffused, the revenues of the empire will be proportionately augmented, so that the deficit would at best prove only a temporary inconvenience ; while the removal of a fiscal element so fluctuating, uncertain, and immoral as that of opium, would in the end impart a security to Indian finance which is now unknown.
But admitting that these views are of a somewhat abstract Deficiency character, and have yet to be tested by the result, there is one of food consideration, not generally borne in mind, which admits of but little dispute. It is, that the area given up to opium is really required for the production of food. India periodically suffers from famine ; and although drought and pestilence are calamities which cannot always be averted by human means, their severity may be mitigated by the more extensive cultivation of those products which minister to the physical necessities of man. The area given up to opium is really needed to provide cereals for the teeming millions of the people of India. Upon this subject Major-General Robert Shaw has supplied evidence of a valuable â€¢ kindâ€”valuable not only because it goes to the root of this question, hut also because he speaks with the authority of an Indian officer of experience, and with the feelings of a man who deeply sympathises with the people.
Writing in March 1865, on the increase in the area of land General which had been, in his time, taken up with the cultivation of testhnmy opium he says,â€”
â€œI know not what area (it must be immense) of the best land in the country-fit will not grow on poor soil) this must take up, to the displacement of cereals, or other healthful products, and the perverted application of valuable labour.
Opium is in fact very largely the product of two crops. Hemp is first sown, and when it has grown to about two feet high it is ploughed with much toil into the ground, as green manure, to prepare it for the poppy. I do not know to what extent this is done, but from what I have myself seen, I should judge it to be a very general practice in Malwa. To collect the inspissated juice is a laborious piocess, and to get the fixed price of it from the Government native functionaries is said to be another. I do not think I shall be far wrong in saying, that the
tillage thus devoted to produce the destroyer, which English fathers would rather see their sons coffined than addicted to, would be quite sufficient to raise crops of cereals from double the area so prostituted, and it will not he said that this increased area would not easily be available, if labour were ready to utilize it. About thirty-four years hack, and again about twenty-four years ago, I passed through the entire length of Guzerat. In that far away time I did not see a single poppy. In 1856 and 1858 I went over the same ground, and I saw numerous fields of poppy. Thus poor folks are starving for bread, while opium is supplanting corn in what would be normally the very garden and granary of our Presidency. Furthermore, the government service, which was so eagerly sought for once, is being deserted and despised, a painful dilemma, hut a just punishment, from what were once liberal salaries being now insufficient for subsistence.
â€œ I am not called on to take any part of the opium system separately. The less objectionable shape it has in Bombay must be taken in connection with the Government monopoly and manufacture in Bengal. Both conjoined were the cause of our first Chinese war, and have been at the bottom of all our disgraceful complications in that country ever since.
â€œ The exorbitant price of food, and the stimulus which the American war has given to the cotton trade, point this out as a time when steps might be taken to sever the government connection with the trade, and when means might be initiated sincerely intended to suppress production and export as a means of ministering to vicious indulgence. Ill-gotten money brings no good. India is not the first country in which the gold men lust for has not brought riches, but poverty. The grandees of Spain, in her early decline, had plate on their sideboards, with rags on their backs; and her once skilful artisans were proportionately destitute, while all the precious metals from the worldâ€™s richest mines were poured into her without stint. The process in India may be different, but the result is likely to be the same if the money we gain continues to be the price of blood. But I must have done. If difficulty, and dismay, and disgrace, and disaster, are warnings to amend, â€˜ to break off our sins by righteousness, and our iniquities by showing mercy,â€™ we have had enough of these warnings and to spare.â€™
In another letter dated 9th August 1865, General Shaw writes,â€”
â€œ If the staff of bread for man has been injuriously diminished, food for beast has been no less dangerously undermined. The forage of the country was composed far more largely of the straw of cereals than of the produce of the wild grass lands. The natives were, in fact, little in the habit of storing anything else for their cattle. What means the reported difficulty of obtaining proper meat rations for the soldiery ? I have seen it in the papers attributed to the larger demand now than formerly, and no doubt there is this increased demand; but it is pure folly to suppose that the large displacement of the corn provender is not far more seriously operative ; and if this acts to the diminishing of animal food, it acts in an equal degree on the draught and pack carriage of the country, which is quite as essential to the general welfare, if not more so, than railways. There is little chance also of these proving an economic success, if the indigenous means of transport which would feed them be greatly reduced, and tillage, of whatever kind, is not likely to flourish, if oxen for the plough become scarce.â€
That there is a danger of the cultivation of cereals in India
becoming too restricted for the wants of the population is proved, not Cotton di merely by the testimony concerning opium, which we have already quoted, hut also by a somewhat alarming view with reference to the extended growth of cotton which has been taken by other writers of authority. Cotton is as useful an article as opium is a deleterious one, and yet we find the Bombay Guardian, in its issue of the 27th November last, objecting to the indefinite cultivation of the cotton plant, on the ground that â€œ a million acres more given to cotton means a million acres less given to grain.â€ The article in the Bombay paper is as follows :â€”
. â€œ We are sorry to learn from the report of Mr. Forbes, Cotton Commissioner, that there is an increase of nearly a million acres in the area of cotton cultivation in Western India this year as compared with last. We are sorry to hear it, because increase of cotton culture mean8 famine. A million acres more given to cotton means a million acres less given to grain. The equlibrium of supply and need in the matter of grain has always in India been so very delicate that the least disturbance entails a famine somewhere. Since the great stimulus given to cotton culture seven years ago, there have been famines in Madras, Orissa, the Central Provinces, the North-west Provinces, Rajpootana. We have not yet had any very serious or general famine in this Presidency ; shall our turn come next ?
Have any steps been taken to secure an extra cultivation of a million acres of grain somewhere else, to counterbalance the million here withdrawn from it ? We are distinctly told that one cause of the terrible famine that has beenâ€”not decimating, but tertiatingâ€”the population of Rajpootana, has been the substitution of cotton for grain culture ; and we were told the same thing when a million and a half perished of starvation in Orissa. The good people of Manchester hold meetings and pass strong resolutions to the effect that it is the duty of the Indian Government to secure them all the cotton they need; and the Indian Governments give reverend heed to the admonitions of the Manchester people; but there is too much reason to fear that the interposition of Government is costing India more than the gain that accrues to cotton-dealers here and in England. The people of this country can do better without piece-goods than they can without food. Cotton is falling in Liverpool) it is just possible that the larger crop expected next year may not realize more than last yearâ€™s crop. This is a wretched argument to adduce after the terrible one already stated ; but, alas! it is one that weighs with men, as much perhaps as the other.â€
We, of course, do not pledge ourselves to every statement contained in the foregoing paragraph. Cotton is now King in a sense in which both his sceptre and his sway may be willingly recognised by the free nations of the world ; and it would be a very hard thing to impose restrictions on the ryots who have profited so largely by the demand for Indian cotton which has been uninterrupted since the period of the American war. No such considerations, however, apply to opium. This drug is an unmixed curse to the infatuated dupes who consume it, and in so far as its cultivation diminishes the supply of grain in a country so dependent as India is upon her own productive resources, it is fraught with evil to the people.
. ?-â– > , r : v' â€¢
General Shaw, in a letter we have received from him, makes some pertinent comments on the article which we have quoted from the Bombay Guardian. He says,â€”
â€œ My own belief is, that but for opium there would have been room for corn and cotton, with both men and cattle to till them. I saw the other day an extract from the Calcutta Economist, edited by Robert Knight, in which he stated that the soil of India was becoming greatly impoverished from the natives using the cattle dung so largely for fuel. I have no doubt of it. The immense displacement of cereals has diminished vastly the manure which would otherwise have been available after subtracting for fuel. The roots and rejected parts of jomaree straw are used at a pinch to the saving of cow dung. This I merely mention by the way. I saw in an Indian paper a few years ago that the Rajah of Puttialla thought the scarcity of cattle so 'serious that he had a bill prepared to bring before the Legislative Council, prohibiting the slaughter of cattle by the natives (chiefly the Mussulmans) for food, but he refrained, fearing ridicule, and probably on advice taken. I wish he had persevered ; for though, according to our notions, it was foolish, it might have led to useful discussion, and exposed a serious danger. The desire of all natives to possess cattle, and these in abundance, is very strong, and nothing but sheer necessity can thwart it.â€
Gambling in opium.
These facts, and others which we have cited, point irresistibly to the conclusion that there is an intimate relation between the conversion of the best lands in India into opium farms and the backwardness of agricultural operations of a legitimate character ; and it is obvious that in this, as in all other instances, inflexible fidelity to a course of moral rectitude accords with the true interest alike of a nation and of the individual man.
One phase of the traffic which is especially injurious to the morality of a commercial community is the system of gambling in opium, which is one of the most noteworthy features of the Indian markets. We are assured, on good authority, that opium â€œ time bargainsâ€ have exerted a most prejudicial influence on the trade morals of Bombay, and that, hut for the reckless spirit of speculation thus generated, the share mania, which some time ago was attended by disastrous results, would never have been carried to such lengths. An illustration of the infatuation of the opium gamblers is supplied by the Englishman (Calcutta) in its issue on the 8th of December 1809.
â€œ We drew attention yesterday morning to the excitement occasioned by the operation of speculators in the opium market. The presence of strong bodies of police, applied for by both Bulls and Bears, and yet more the opportune interference of some attorneys of the High Court, prevented the usual outbreak anticipated on such occasions. We shall endeavour, according to the best information we could obtain, to give a consecutive account of the origin of the matter. Two of the richest kooteewals had, before the sale, as stated yesterday, bought chilties for upwards of 3000 chests of Patna opium. At the sale only 2070 chests were disposed of, and of this quantity about one-fourth were purchased by
Mr w' tw â– /.â– Â«
bona fide shippers ; another fourth fell into the hands of some of the sellers of small chitHes, and the remainder was bought by the two kooteeivals alluded to.
At the end of the sale the matter therefore stood thus. With deliveries to be made of 3000 chests, there were only a little over 400 chests available from the present sale, and a small quantity, estimated at less than 500 chests, from previous sales, leaving a deficit of 2000 chests. Demands for these 2000 chests were made last evening, and, as a matter of course, refused, through the inability of the sellers to make delivery. It is said they offered to pay the difference upon the average of the sale, but the buyers demanded either the delivery of the drug, or a payment at the rate of 2000 rupees per chest. At this juncture the gentlemen of the law appeared on the scene, and demanded, in a perfectly legal form, delivery. Thenâ€™ demand was met by a promise on the other side to reply through other gentlemen of the same profession, and law having thus got hold of the dispute, both sides kept the peace, and the appearances which threatened an affray speedily subsided. We suppose this will lead to a fresh crop of opium chilly suits, similar to those which were instituted almost a generation ago, %nd some of which we believe are yet undecided. Those suits arose through the speculators bidding up a single chest to nearly 12,000 rupees, when the Bears, in a manner similar to that seen on Monday night, repudiated their contracts.â€
A Supplementary Convention to the Treaty of Commerce and The new Navigation of June 26, 1858, was provisionally concluded on the Conven-24th of October last, and now awaits ratification at Pekin. The tion. Article which relates to opium reads as follows: â€”
â€œArticle 12.â€”It is agreed that opium shall pay import duty at an increased rate. On the other part, China agrees :â€”1. That British subjects holding passports may use their own vessels, resembling Chinese craft and propelled by oars or sails, when visiting non-treaty ports or places in the interior. 2. That bonded warehouses shall be established for British subjects at such treaty ports as may be expedient. 3. That the Superintendent of the Customs at Kiu-Kiang shall provide a tug for the use of British-owned Chinese-like boats on the Poyang Lake, and in the vicinity of Hukew. 4. That bonds entered into by British merchants for the re-export of tea shipped from Yangtsze ports shall, as an experiment, be done away with. 5. That the Imperial Commissioner in the South shall open coal mines at two or three places; and, 6. That the duty on native coal exported -by British merchants from the southern ports shall be reduced.â€
The six concessions made in return for the increase in the opium duty are an honourable quid pro quo, and afford evidence of the willingness of the Chinese to promote legitimate trade with Europeans. The Shanghae correspondent of the Times is, however, dissatisfied with the arrangement. Writing on the 25th of November last, lie says,â€”
â€œ The next important, clause is a concession to the Chinese, which will be variously viewed. An addition of twenty taels a chest is to be made to the present duty on opium, raising the tax to fifty taels. Apparently, the effect will be to still further discourage Indian opium, which already has difficulty in competing with the native drug. The production of opium in China has increased enormously of late years, and the effect of the extra tax on its foreign competitor must be to encourage still further the cultivation of the poppy. In this view the concession
seems an unwise one, and likely to affect very seriously Indian finances. If the design were to check the consumption of opium, the very large majority of people, who look on opium smoking as a terrible evil, would hail the change; but it is not likely to do this, especially as the use of the drug and the cultivation of the P0PPy have now gained such ground in China that it would be most difficult for even a strong government to check it. If we repent of the harm we have done by encouraging the consumption of opium, and are satisfied that the Chinese Government is anxious and able to stamp out the vice, we should let the tax be raised to 100 or 150 taels, so as to make the price almost prohibitive ; but the increase of twenty taels can attain no good object, at the same time that it will in jure Indian interests. The only other tariff alterations are an increase of 1 l-7th to the export duty on silk, the removal of the import duty from foreign coal and dock stores, and a slight reduction in the duty on watches, pepper, and tin. The tax on native coal, which has hitherto been very heavily mulcted, is also largely reduced.â€
The correspondent is probably quite right in his surmise that the raising of the tax from thirty to fifty taels will exercise no material influence on the consumption of the drug, and that â€œ if we are satisfied that the Chinese Government is anxious and able to stamp out the vice, we should let the tax be raised to 100 or 150 taels, so as to make the price almost prohibitive.â€ There is reason to believe that the Chinese Government is sincere in its professed anxiety to extinguish the cultivation of the poppy in those provinces of the empire in which it has taken root; but it is useless to attempt this so long as opium is imported into the country at prices which place it within the reach of the masses of the people. It is far easier to assume that the statesmen at Pekin are insincere than it is for us to prove that our policy is a just one.
Indian We quote the annexed paragraph from the Friend of India (the
tl'mCon- organ Â°f the Calcutta Foreign Office) for the sake of the important venfion. admission which is made in the final sentence: â€”
â€œ The Chinese Government is henceforth to take half a million sterling of our net opium revenue, and our representative in Pekin has agreed to this. Such is the very serious meaning of the article in the new Convention made by Sir R. Alcock on 23rd October, to which we briefly alluded last week. The new treaty raises the duty on opium from 10/. to 17/- a chest, or by more than 400,000/. on the average import of the last few years. An article extracted elsewhere from the Daily News of North China shows what it is thought of on this spot. We cannot believe that the Government of India will allow this Convention to pass without remark. If there were any doubt that the object of Prince Kung or his advisers was to protect the indigenous drug at the expense of India, without affecting the customs revenue derived from the latter, it is seen in the fact that opium alone is to continue subject to transit dues in the interior, while all other foreign manufactures are to be exempt. There is still time for Lord Mayo to interfere, since the Convention has to be approved by the other treaty powers. We cannot say that we regret this increase of the duly, so far as China is concerned, and it
will be a blessing if the Indian Government is forced to face the whole opium difficulty before the collapse comes.â€
The admission which is here made entirely agrees with the argument which we have already advanced. The Pioneer (another Indian paper) gives additional point to the article from which we have just quoted.
â€œ The Friend of India, says the Pioneer, conceives that Lord Mayo will protest at home against the Revised Treaty with China, which increases the duty on opium by twenty taels a picul, involving, according to the Friend's calculation, an average loss to the Indian revenue of more than 400,000/. per annum. The loss is serious, but the protest will be difficult. Great Britain might protest against the protective tariff of the United States, but would have little success from the step to boast of. If China be an independent empire its Government has a right to arrange its customs duties for its own greatest advantage. If opium were quinine, or any medicine of immense unmixed beneficence, the Chinese Government would still have the strict international right to tax it even for prohibition. Is it to be debarred this right in the case of a poison which is rotting their humanity out of the population ? â€â€”Asiatic, Feb. 2.
This is only repeating in other words what the East-India Company said many years ago. The Court of Directors, in a letter dated so far back as the 13th January 1832, affirmed that is whatever may be the position which Great Britain holds in the scale of nations, or however extensive her empire in the East, we have no pretensions beyond the subjects of other nations to dictate to the Chinese Government the principles upon which alone they are to carry on her trade with other nations.â€*
What action the Indian Government may take of course remains to be seen, but it is a subject for congratulation that the Chinese merchants, who recently memorialized Lord Clarendon in favour of certain modifications of the treaty, expressly disclaimed any intention to interfere with the higher duties which are to be levied on opium. That, they said, was a matter with which it was the exclusive province of the Indian Government to deal, and Mr. Hugli Matheson, in a letter to the Times, expressed, in emphatic terms, his own repugnance to the traffic, and his desire to separate it from the legitimate commercial interests of this country in the East.
Mr. S. Lloyd, who presided over the annual meeting of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, also made some remarks on the subject which pointed in the same direction.
The New York Observer, in a recent issue, has instituted a striking The opium contrast between the trade in opium and the trade in tea and silk, the^rade*1 It is a painful reflection that the value of the pestilent drug which in tea and constitutes the principal staple article of our commerce with China ^ted"'
* â€œ The Chinese Vindicated,â€ p. 10.
is nearly as great as that of all the tea and silk which the Chinese export. Their contribution to the worldâ€™s commerce is an unmixed blessing to mankind, while the return we make is to force upon them a poison which destroys both mind and body. In republishing the article which has appeared in the New York paper we commend the attention of our readers to the statement, which is abundantly confirmed in other quarters, that â€œ the dislike of the people of China towards all foreigners is really founded as much on their continual sense of wrong received by having the opium forced upon them as by any vague conceit of their own comparative high position and learning â€ : â€”
â€œThe Official Report by the Imperial Chinese Customsâ€™ Service for 1867, contains the following figures:â€”
â€œ Import of opium from India during the year 1867. 62,566 chests -(equal to 8,321,278 lbs.), sold for 31,990,919 taels (or 45,701,313 dollars), to which must be added 25,582 chests smuggled in from Hongkong, which sold at fully the same rate, making the total value of the 88,148 chests exported from India for China to be 45,071,356 taels, or 54,500,009 dollars.
â€œExport of tea from China during the year 1867, 1,122,384 piculs (or 149,277,072 lbs.), 33,754,009 taels. Export of silk, raw and manufactured, 39,299 peculs (or 5,226,767 lbs.), 15,724,380 taels ; total, 49,478,889 taels, equal to 70,683,413 dollars, or only about six millions of dollars more than the value of the opium. The value of the imports and exports have approached nearer during the year 1868.*
â€œ This may surely be called a disastrous exchange for the Chinese, who furnish the tea and silk which have for ages been their chief and best commodities, and receive back a drug whose consumption destroys to a certain extent their ability to reproduce them. In addition to this import, the native growth of the poppy and manufacture of opium have increased in greater proportion than the sale of the foreign article, but the amount and the value of the home product cannot even be guessed at, enormous as it is. In Manchuria on the north-east, Szchuen and Yunnan on the west, and in many of the central provinces, the cultivation is carried on without interference of any kind from the authorities, so that it is within bounds to estimate the consumption of the native article at twice that of the foreign, or about seven million pounds avoirdupois of prepared drug. But its price is not one half that of the latter, and its potency may not be so great in proportion to the amount smoked, owing chiefly to the inferior skill of those who collect and manipulate the juice.
â€œIts use among the Chinese is spreading, and no human power can restrain its onward march, which is attended with poverty, sickness, weakness, crime and death, as every one who has personally examined the condition of its victims testifies. No doubt many hundreds of smokers are able to continue without apparent detriment to health, but the largest part, sooner or later, are victimized, and shorten their lives by the habit. I think that the Chinese mode of taking opium through the pipe, whereby the noxious fumes are brought in contact with the delicate tissues of the lungs, acts on the muscular and nervous systems of
* These statistics agree with those given in the Chinese Recorder for September 1869.
'.... â€”â€”â– â€” - â€¢ - _________________
the body sooner and more vigorously than the European mode of swallowing it in pills or extracts ; but whether it be so or not makes no difference in the result.
At this time, when increasing interest is directed towards this empire, and efforts made to develope its trade and resources, the prospect of any real good resulting by the extension of foreign intercourse is very doubtful. The dislike of the people of China towards all foreigners is really founded as much on their continual sense of wrong received by having the opium forced upon them as by any vague conceit of their ow;n comparative high position and learning. The evils and misery endured by the use of the yang yioh or foreign medicine,â€”as opium is generally called,â€”are urgent and present, and are all associated with the foreign name and deeds; while, with the perverse reasoning usual among such people, those who suffer the most from their own vicious habits denounce most bitterly the foreigners as the cause of their woes. Our name is popularly bound up with the opium trade; and whenever missionaries come to a new place any dislike which the literati or officials may feel against them can always be strengthened and excited by bringing up the opium trade and opium smoking. In the recent outbreak at Yangchau, the attack was made on Mr. Taylorâ€™s party before any of them had begun to preach, and it was hardly known among the inhabitants for what they had come to the city : the enmity was against them as foreigners more than as missionaries.
Commenting on this article from the New Jforlc Observer,^ correspondent of our own writes :â€”
â€œYou will observe that the imports from India in 18G7 was 88,000 chests.
Besides the export to China there is a considerable export to Malaya and the Eastern Islandsâ€”at least there used to be. The Malays are dreadful opium eaters. This export would not be so infamous as that to China, because it has never been a forced trade. If I am right in believing that there is still a considerable export to the Eastern Islands, I do not think I am far wrong in having put down the entire export at 100,000 chests.â€
The sincerity of the desire of the Chinese Government to sup- T]10 SÂ°Â°d press the traffic has been impeached in various quarters; but tjK; it is impeached mainly by those who are opposed to its being Chinese put to the test. One thing we certainly can point to in proof n
of the good faith of the Chinese Government. A continuous series of edicts have been fulminated against the use of opium ; and so long as the central authority had the power to enforce its decrees, strong measures were employed to compel obedience to them. When our first war with China took place, no one could pretend, even with a show of fairness, that the Government was wanting in sincerity. It was the very earnestness and resolution of its purpose which constituted in the eyes of the opium interest a casus belli. No one, indeed, can have read the edict issued by Commissioner Lin without being impressed with the conviction that the authorities were at that time determined to destroy the traffic root and branch, and that, while they were disposed to behave with great moderation towards the European
opium smugglers, they had made up their minds to inflict the severest penalties on the Chinese accomplices of the law-breaking foreigners. How the foreigners in those days were in the habit of evading the law is graphically set forth by Heu Naetze, Vice-President of the Sacrificial Court, in a memorial to the Emperor. These people, in order to evade the prohibition which was stringently enforced at Macao, took their opium to Lintin, which â€œ has a free communication by water on all sides â€”
â€œ Here,â€ say Heu Naetze, â€œare constantly anchored seven or eight large ships, in which the opium is kept, and which are therefore called * receiving ships.â€™ At Canton there are brokers of the drug who are called melters : these pay the price of the drug into the hands of the resident foreigners, who give them orders for the delivery of the opium from the receiving ships. There are carrying boats plying up and down the river, and these are vulgarly called â€˜ fast crabsâ€™ and â€˜ scrambling dragons.â€™ They are well armed with guns and other weapons, and are manned with some scores of desperadoes, who ply their oars as if they were wings to fly with. All the custom-houses and military posts which they pass are largely bribed : if they happen to encounter any of the armed cruising boats, they are so audacious as to resist, and slaughter and carnage ensue.â€
So grimly in earnest was the Chinese Government at the period of the opium war, that the promoters of the traffic had recourse to all the agencies of violence and corruptionâ€”carried on, in fact, a private war against a power which was ostensibly on terms of friendship with Great Britain. The Chinese Government has been, it is true, compelled to yield to physical force, and since the treaty of Tien-tsin opium has found a place among lawful articles of commerce; while as a consequence of the increasing use of the drug, and the inability of the Government to suppress the foreign trade, the home growth of the poppy has been enormously extended, and thus has come to pass the gloomy forebodings of a Chinese stateman * of the last generation, who said:â€”
â€œ If all the rich and fertile ground be used for planting the poppy, and if the people, hoping for a large profit therefrom, madly engage in its cultivation, where will flax and the mulberry tree be cultivated, or wheat and rye be planted ? To draw off in this way the waters of the great fountain, and to lavish them upon the root whence calamity and disaster spring forth, is an error which may be compared to that of a physician, who, when treating a mere external disease, should drive it inwards to the heart and the centre of the body. It may in such a case be found impossible to preserve life. And shall the fine fields of Kwang-tung, that produce their three crops every year, be given up for the cultivation of this noxious weed ?â€
That the Chinese Government is really sincere in its desire to suppress the opium traffic, although hampered by its obligations * Choo-Tsun.
to Great Britain and by the corruption which prevails among the mandarin class, the latter being the result of a weak and impoverished administrationâ€”is manifested by circumstances which are only susceptible of one interpretation. If the Government is insincere why should it continue to issue edicts against the use of opium ? It can have no possible motive for proclaiming anew the yet unrepealed law of the empire, if its sympathies are with the law breakers. On this subject we are glad to be able to quote the testimony of the Rev. Arthur E. Moule, a clergyman of the Church of England, long resident in China. Our correspondent, in answer to some inquiries which we addressed to him, says,â€”
â€œ I can myself confirm the report in the Bombay Gazette, as to the proclama- The gm_ tion issued by the Chinese Government, forbidding the cultivation of opium in peror and China; and to the list of provinces in which opium is grown mentioned on opium, p. 152 of the Intelligencer, the Chen-Kiano province must be added. Shortly before the promulgation of this edict, another was issued forbidding the use of the drug to all magistrates throughout the whole empire, on pain of dismissal after one monthâ€™s notice. These two proclamations, though concealed as much as possible, were yet matter of common talk; and the origin of the edict forbidding the use of opium to mandarins as related by the Chinese was as follows: â€”
The young Emperor discovered one of the eunuchs of the palace smoking opium (in the autumn of 1868), and being curious as to the odour, he not only compelled the officer to resume his pipe, hut smoked it himself, and to such excess as to bring on a swoon from which it took two days to recover him. The palace was quite in an uproar; and an investigation was set on foot which opened the eyes of the Empress Mother, who has great influence, to the wide-spread â€” almost universalâ€”use of the drug amongst the magistrates. The unfortunate eunuch was beheaded ; and this proclamation was issued.
â€œ I mention this merely by the way. It is hardly the kind of information which can be used in a Parliamentary debate; but it may serve to throw some light on the subject suggested in your note, namely, the real feeling of the Chinese Government in regard to the traffic in opium.â€
In an interesting article published in the Chinese Recorder (May 1869) Dr. Dudgeon affords some additional evidence tending to show the feeling with which the use of the opium is regarded in the highest quarters. He says,â€”
â€œ My own experience is limited to a five yearsâ€™ residence in the capital where the most stringent regulations exist, and where it is occasionally punished, as, e.g., when a great crime or calamity occurs, an atrocious murder or a great conflagration takes place, or when new officials succeed to office. The sale of the drug in the Tartar city since the end of last year, after the death of the Lieutenant Governor and the accession of his successor, has been strictly prohibited. Many sellers and smokers had their effects seized, and were themselves cast into prison for two months. In the Chinese city great laxity prevails. To the reigning family it seems of paramount importance to keep the Mantchus free from thiÂ§
Experience of the Missionaries in China.
vice. But notwithstanding all their exertions and vigilance, it is growing and extending among the lazy pensioners and soldiers.â€
The testimony of Dr. Dudgeon, and other writers, as to the abhorrence with which the vice is regarded by tbe common people, even by those who practice it, is not less remarkable. The above gentleman states, that â€œ out of 18,315 patients, of all classes and both sexes, seen at the hospital of the London Mission in Pekin, during four years, 634 were opium smokers, with one or two exceptions all men who applied solely to be cured of their inveterate habit.â€ The missionaries at Pekin,* in their letter to Sir Rutherford Alcock, dated the 14th July 1869, mention a fact which tends to show that the prejudice against their order is attributable far more to political causes than to the character of their religious teaching; that in fact the opium trade occupies a chief place among the grounds of hostility to the missionaries. They state that â€œthe Chinese look on missionaries as representatives of all foreigners ; and all foreigners they believe to be encroachers on the rights of others, seekers after money and territory, or opium sellers. Almost every abusive placard that has been issued against Protestant missionaries has charged them either with secret designs of conquest, or with being engaged in the coolie or opium trades, and making the teaching of virtue a cloak for these abominations. A. missionary not long ago was driven out of a large city, in the province of Ilonan by a mob led oh by the native gentry, the cause of whose hatred was given to him in these words, shouted after him as he left the cityâ€”â€˜ You burned our palace, you killed our emperor, you sell poison to the people, and now you come to teach us virtue.â€ It will thus be seen that hostility to foreigners is not entirely founded on an ignorant prejudice against â€œ outside barbarians,â€ but is in a great degree the result of our own policy, for which unfortunately the missionaries are made to sufferf. Again, the latter, after expressing their fear that British commerce in China has bad the effect of demoralizing rather than benefiting the people, remark that â€œ the main branch of the British commerce in China is opium, an article which the Chinese believe to have been the cause of our
* Messrs. Edkins, Burdon, Collins, and Dudgeon, M.D.
f This testimony is confirmed by the Rev. William Muirhead in his excellent work â€œChina and the Gospelâ€ (p. 119). He says,â€”â€œThe smokers themselves charge us with having brought the drug into the country, and having ensnared them into the use of it. The friends of such deluded victims, who have been called to suffer in consequence, bring it against us and many others who see its evil working in their native country.â€
first war in China ; and which, however eagerly it may be sought
after, they regard as injurious to them mentally, morally, and physically.â€ In another part of their memorial they state, that â€œ the enormous advance of the amount imported from India since the early years of its introduction is a cause, far more than a result, of the immense demand for it. It has given an impetus to the growth of native opium, which (as in Szchuen) is gradually superseding the foreign article. Since the opening of the Yang-tsze the native drug has become one half cheaper, and the number of smokers has been trebled.â€ Dr. Dudgeon* speaks emphatically with regard to the moral and physical evils of the traffic. â€œ It is met with,â€ he says, â€œ everywhere, and everywhere it is acknowledged as a vice. An opium smoker always stands self-convicted. Although the traffic is now legalized, the people still look upon it as morally wrong to smoke, and no amount of casuistry will make them believe that it is an innocent luxury.â€ Opium shops, those â€œ ante-chambers of hell,â€ as they have been justly characterized, appear to be as common in Pekin as beershops are in London. â€œ The police at night beguile their cold watches with the drug; and their offices on the streets, without fires or mats, and they themselves almost without clothes, present one of the most pitiable sights in the capital.â€ Dr. Dudgeon quotes the following passage from a letter which he had received from an opium smoker : â€” â€œ The evils of opium are great. Those who take it lose their property, waste their time, destroy their morals, and injure their reputation ; those who have ability become dull and stupid, their strength and vigour change into weakness and frailty, they fall into a low stage, and sink into the rank of demons.â€ Strong language this, but a man who speaks from personal observation and experience may surely be pardoned for expressing himself in such terms. A member of the literati class made a similar statement to the same authority. He said that â€œ Opium smoking destroys life ; it unfits for the discharge of all duties ; it squanders substance, houses, lands, money, &c. ; it diminishes the population, half of the confirmed opium smokers being childless, and the other half only having a few, and those sickly and ill-conditioned.â€ The same fact is mentioned by Mr. A. C. Bruce, in his report on the tea plantations of Assam. â€œ This vile drug,â€ he states, â€œ keeps down the population ; the women have fewer children compared with those of other countries, and the children seldom live to become old men.â€ It is difficult to imagine a greater curse afflicting the human race.
The effect of this iniquitous traffic is equally disastrous to the interests of legitimate commerce in the East. The writer from
* Chinese Recorder, February 1869.
Legitimate whom we have so largely quoted expresses himself strongly on in'i"l'eerCe subjec^- -He states that the opium trade â€œ certainly destroys
East. the value of the Chinese market for western manufactures, prevents them taking increased quantities of western commodities, and enhances the prices of Chinese productions to western consumers. The trade is also injurious to the British, American, and Chinese merchants engaged in the Chinese trade, but who refuse, as a matter of conscience, to have anything to do with the traffic. Were the whole country thrown open to our commerce, our manufactures introduced, railways, &c., and the importation of opium forbidden, and it rendered piracy to introduce it by all governments, then would there dawn, as it were, a new era for the world and China. Our merchants, and India too, might well afford to give up its production and transit. The exchange between the different countries would soon re-arrange itself, and instead of paying several millions of pounds in barter for tea and silk, we would have our manufactures taken in exchange, and such an
impetus given to trade as has never been known. The Chinese would be saved from beggary, starvation, and death, and they would become our best customers, and their productions would be
greatly cheapened to the western consumers.... The Taoutai at
Shanghae was once asked what would be the best means of increasing our commerce with China, and his answer was, â€˜ Cease to send us so much opium, and we will be able to take your manufactures.â€™ â€ As matters stand, silk, for example, is often taken in barter for opium, and British manufactures suffer by the exchange. No event would more certainly contribute to the revival of trade in the industrial centres of the United Kingdom than the abolition of the opium trade.
Opium We regret to learn that the Chinese settled in California are
h^Calito greatly addicted to opium smoking and eating. Although the
nia. duty imposed by the United States amounts to 100 per cent, it yet
appears that, in the fiscal year ending June 30, 1867, 14,121 lbs. of â€œopium prepared for smokingâ€ were imported into that country. This was in addition to 94,0001bs. otherwise prepared. No doubt the drug is imported in this form that the Chinese may indulge in their besetting vice. The whole subject demands the attention of the Federal Government; and it may be hoped that Mr. Charles Sumner, who has proved himself to be keenly alive to the iniquities of the coolie traffic, will consider the expediency of moving Con-
gress to place opium equally under its ban.
Mr. Charles Dickens, in the first chapter of his new story, â€œ The
Mystery of Edwin Drood,â€ has described, with a master-hand, the
interior of an opium smokerâ€™s lodging house in the East End of London. The picture he gives of the vice as practised by the Lascars who dwell in the purlieus of Ratcliffe Highway is appalling enough; but in China the same physical deterioration and misery may be said to exist on a national scale ; and it exists there, as we have shown, mainly because England has insisted upon forcing the poison on an unwilling government and people. It remains to be seen whether a Christian nation can continue to reconcile its active participation in this iniquity either with its sense of morality, or even with a just perception of what are its true material interests; for in the words of a recent American writer of authority :â€”
â€œ Leaving justice out of the question, the material interests of the West require a thorough change in its policy towards Orientals. Throughout Eastern Asia we have to deal with people on whom, at present, we are far more dependent than they are upon us ; at the same time we are hoping to create among them the principal markets for the products of our industry. The creation of such markets pre-supposes the creation of wants, which are wholly inconsistent with a condition of decay, and which can be gratified only by the products of an industry of which a vigorous national vitality must necessarily be the basis. Everything that tends to impair that vitality, whether it be the indirect encouragement of anarchy through the weakening of the government, or by the forced introduction of opium, operates directly against the interests of the West.*
* â€œ Across America and Asia,â€ p. 126.
AV. M. WATTS, PRINTER,
28, AVHITEFRIARS STREET, AND 52, ST. JOHNâ€™S SQUARE