PROCEEDINGS OF A CONFERENCE,
THE CITY OF LONDON TAVERN, LONDON,
On FRIDAY, NOV. 13, 1874.
PUBLISHED FOR THE
ANGLO-ORIENTAL SOCIETY FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF THE OPIUM TRADE,
YATES & ALEXANDER, 7, SYMONDS INN, CHANCERY LANE.
Price One Shilling.
In preparing this report for the press, the Secretary has been much assisted by the principal speakers, who have themselves revised the reports of their speeches. Owing to the imperfect short-hand report other speeches are very meagrely represented here: but in all cases it is hoped that a correct outline of their main thoughts has been given. The occasion of the Conference is sufficiently explained in the ensuing papers. The Committee earnestly entreat all true Christians and all sincere patriots, to co-operate with them in the effort now set on foot to relieve our country from the reproach of trading in opium. It is hoped that such an expression of public opinion will be elicited as will greatly support those who introduce the question into the House of Commons next year.
F. S. TURNER,
21, Arundel Square,
On Friday, 13th November, at the early hour of nine, there was a considerable muster of merchants, missionaries, and others connected with China, and officials of the Missionary Societies, and other friends, at the City of London Tavern, who had been assembled to breakfast by invitations, issued in the name of Thomas B. Smithies and Edmund Sturge, at the instance of Mr. Edward Pease, of Darlington. After breakfast, Mr. Alderman McArthur, M.P., was called to the chair, and opened the conference in the following speech:â€”
Ladies and Gentlemen,â€”It is my belief that we can put down the opium traffic as we put down the slave trade. The English people and the Christian churches have been supine in this matter. Few people know that we raise nine millions of Indian revenue by the opium traffic. The subject has been allowed to sleep since Lord Ashley (the present Earl of Shaftesbury) brought it forward in the House of Commons, till it was revived by Sir Wilfrid Lawson. I voted with Sir Wilfridâ€™s small minority because I considered the ventilation of the subject was very useful, and that it ought to be brought before the House every year. My speech in the Llouse was made on commercial grounds. When the ports were opened by treaty, we expected to do a large trade with China. Instead of doing the large trade we had anticipated, we sent to China, with its 400 millions of population, but six millions poundsâ€™ worth of exports, while the Australian colonies, with four millions of people, took as much as fourteen millions poundsâ€™ worth of our goods. On religious grounds, much more might be said. I am sure that we cannot expect the blessing of God upon our connection with India if we continue the opium traffic. There will be a day of retribution if this accursed trade is not put down. Whatever the difficulties in the way, I am sure that nothing which
is morally wrong can be politically right. We have many able speakers here this morningâ€”many eye-witnesses of this evil in China. In order that all may be heard, I propose that each speaker should limit himself to ten minutesâ€”[Voices: Five minutes]â€”five minutes thenâ€”and I first of all call upon Mr. Smithies to give some account of how we come to be here.
Mb. T. B. SMITHIES saidâ€”After your emphatic enunciation of the subject of our meeting, I will not occupy time by lengthy explanations. This meeting originated with Mr. Edward Pease, of Darlington, who, early in the year, offered, by advertisement, two prizes of Â£200 and Â£100 for essays upon the British opium policy, and its results to India and China, and thus stirred up attention to such a mass of facts that we felt something ought to be done. Our countrymen are very ignorant on the subject. It really is the fact that not only does our Indian Government protect the revenues, but it leases the land to be planted, appoints inspectors to look after the crop, and advances cash to the Indian farmer. But I must introduce our Secretary, Mr. F. S. Turner, who will read a short paper giving an account of the present state of the opium trade.
Me. F. S. TURNER,â€”Sir, I must first lay before you several letters expressive of sympathy with the objects of the meeting from Edward Pease, Henry Richard, M.P., Dr. Duff, J. Hudson Taylor, of the China Inland Mission and others. Extracts from two of these I beg leave to read. The first is from Edward Pease :â€”
â€œ This Opium Traffic grows upon, one, both as to its complication and its simplicity.
* â€˜ If looked at in all its difficulties and relations, political, commercial, social, it is intricate enough to absorb the minds of the most profound statesmen; while, on the other hand, viewed as an enormous wrong, perpetrated by a professedly Christian nation, it is transparent to the most ignorant.
â€œ Yet even taking it up in its complicated
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succeed in destroying our trade ; hut whether she will succeed, even by this means, in stamping out this evil is very problematical, not to speak of the legion of which it is the fruitful parent. And what a frightful price she will have to pay for the attempt! Who can contemplate it without horror ? Can we wonder at her bitter hatred of the power which inflicts such a wrong, and compels her to accept such a frightful alternative ?
â€œAsa medical missionary, T am but too familiar with the moral and physical evils wrought, directly and indirectly, by the use of opium. Many of them have often been dwelt upon, but there is one result which, during the last two years, has filled me with grave concernâ€” the rapid increase in the consumption of spirituous liquors, and consequent increase of drunkenness and misery. The use of a sedative and astringent narcotic affects the appetite, impairs digestion, and lowers the vital powers. Stimulants are resorted to with temporary relief, and habits, expensive, and every way prejudicial, result. The number of retail shops for the sale of these beverages has increased threefold in the last five years in some districts I am acquainted with, according to native testimony, confirmed by my own observations.
â€œ Have these facts been sufficiently dwelt on in connection with their undoubted cause, the opium traffic ? Fifteen years ago drunkenness was rare ; now it is very common. And many persons who have escaped the seductions of the pipe are falling victims to the cup, to the ruin of their families ; for the opium smoker does not drink alone. In several districts total abstinence societies have been formed thi ough my efforts ; but while we are saving units, drink is ruining its thousands.
â€œ Some years ago I had charge of a hospital for a time, one wing of which was devoted to the cure of opium smokers. They paid for their hoard, and some of them came ten, twelve, and even fifteen daysâ€™ journey to the hospital, remaining a month or more, and then having the long journey home again. The labour and expense to which these poor men went speaks volumes as to their sufferings and the weight of their bondage.
â€œ May God prosper your efforts to free China from the yoke, and us from further national complicity iu the trade!
â€œ Believe me, yours faithfully,
â€œJ. Hudson Taylor.â€
I will now proceed to read as much of my paper as time permits.
Alderman McArthur, Ladies and Gentlemen,â€”It falls to me, as temporary secretary of this movement, to give a brief outline of what the Opium Trade is, especially for the sake of those friends who, in these busy days, have not had an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with its nature. I will make my tale as succinct as possible, and pray the forbearance of those who know the facts already. Time forbids my entering upon the
form, do we not find each difficulty allied with an evil, and so giving added reasons for agitation ?
â€œ Its hold on the official mind of India, shows that it keeps a body of able men employed, who would he of immense use in developing the legitimate resources of the country ;â€”its importance in the Native States will, in the event of our dropping the cultivation, enable the Native mind to appreciate the sacrifices we make, and the more readily yield to the discouragements that might thereafter he placed in the way of their trade in the article.
â€œ The money magnitude of the revenue prompts to close inquiry as to the wisdom and economy of a system of Government, to the carrying out of which so huge an income is declared essential.
â€œ Still, we may well feel the greatest incentive of all to exertion is that, while we talk, the evil grows; more of the best land in India is devoted to destroying, in place of supporting, life; the wretched victims of whom we have all read die in greater numbers ; die from the consumption of an article, the trade in which, we, as part and parcel of the British Government, sedulously foster.
â€œ All this, while we profess ta believe that â€˜ it is righteousness that exalteth a nation and sin is a shame to any people,â€™ and to obey the law of God ; a law fulfilled in love : the love that â€˜ worketh no ill to his neighbour.â€™
â€œ Earnestly desiring a blessing on the Meeting and the consequent efforts,
Yours truly, Edward Pbash.
The other is from a well-known missionary, who is better acquainted, by personal observation, with the interior of China than most,â€”the Rev. J. Hudson Taylor,â€”who says :â€”
â€˜ â€˜ I have just returned from a tour of visitation of the stations of the China Inland Mission, which has occupied two years, and has extended into five provinces. When I compare the present state of China with that of twenty years ago, when my itineration in the interior commenced, the contrast is startling. Then the traffic in the drug was contraband ; away from the free-ports the dens for opiumsmoking were few and hidden, and the number of smokers was comparatively small. Now, the trade is legalized; the dens are unblush-ingly opened in large public streets ; and the number of victims has increased at least tenfold ; in some districts well-known to me, I incline to think it has increased fully a hundredfold.
â€œNotwithstanding the failure of the rice crop in a large part of the province of Cheh-kiang in 1873, I saw hundreds of acres under opium this spring, much of it for the first time, and hut for the great scarcity and consequent high price of grain, I was told that there would have been a great deal more planted. China is determined to take the trade out of our hands, if we will not give it up, cost what it may, in hope of its eventual extinction! To a large extent, I conceive, she will ultimately
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past history. I will keep to the present state of the trade.
All the opium that reaches China from abroad, with an insignificant exception, arrives from India. All the opium exported from India, with, as as far as I know, no exception, goes to China and Chinese settlements in the Straits and islands. The trade therefore concerns India and China. Let us glance at India first.
In India there are two great opium-producing regions, one in British territory, one in the Native States. The opium from the Native States, called in commerce Malwa opium, goes west to the sea, and is shipped from Bombay. Our British opium is grown in Bengal and passes out at Calcutta. Our British Indian Government has nothing to do with the production of Malwa opium. It simply guards its own interests by the exaction of a pass-duty of 600 rupees per chest. This Bombay pass-duty brings in something over two millions sterling, more than a quarter of our opium revenue.
In Bengal it is very different. There we hold a rigidly-exercised monopoly of the trade. From the time the seed is put in the ground to the time the finished article is sold for export, it is Government property. The system is this. Government determines beforehand how much opium it will produce. On the part of the ryot the cultivation is voluntary, nominally so at least. If willing to grow he gets his land registered, a licence is given, money is advanced. He sows his seed. More money is advanced. He harvests the juice, takes it to the Government factory, and receives the balance due. Henceforth Government officials watch over the opium and prepare it for sale. A small proportion, about one-twentieth part, is sold in India to licensed dealers. The great bulk is specially prepared and packed for the China market. It is brought down to Calcutta and sold by auction by a Government official. That closes our Indian Governmentâ€™s connection with it. The profits of the sale form our Bengal opium revenue. They average about 300 per cent, on cost of production. In the year ending March, 1872, 49,695 chests of Bengal opium were sold in Calcutta for export. In the same year 39,225 chests were shipped from Bombay.
The net revenue for that year was Â£7,656,000.
Important questions arise as to the working of the monopoly in India, its effects upon the ryot, its tendency to restrict the use of the drug in India, or otherwise. These I must leave, hoping that gentlemen personally acquainted with India will take them up. One thing only I notice. It has been clearly and emphatically recognised by the Indian Government that the consumption of opium is a vicious indulgence, highly injurious to the people. The minute of the Board of Revenue of Bengal in 1859 defends the monopoly on the ground that its abolition â€œ will deprive the Government of all power of checking the local consumption of the drug.â€ So we are every year manufacturing about 8,900,000 lbs. weight of a confessedly noxious drug, which we desire to keep from our own subjects, for sale to a foreign land!
We must now follow the opium to China. Does the drug change its quality on the sea ? or are Chinese constitutions poison-proof ? We shall see.
There are curious and difficult questions with regard to opium in China. Why does it possess so fatal a fascination for Chinese more than all other people ? Who first introduced the poppy ? Who first invented smoking? It is a little hardy to assert that ice taught the Chinese opium-smoking, when neither we nor the Hindoos have yet acquired the art. How much opium is produced in China ? The Chinese have grown the poppy for generations in their western provinces. My own investigations point to the conclusion that cultivation and importation began about the same time, and have increased pari passu. The latest estimate I have seen by the Chinese Imperial Customs makes the quantity of native opium rival that of the imported. This, however, is a mere vague estimate.
But as regards Englandâ€™s connection with the opium trade, all these perplexing questions are beside the mark. Two facts, and two only, settle the moral character of our opium trade. The first is, that the use of opium is fearfully injurious to the Chinese. The second is, that we are compelling them to admit our opium against their will.
Now, if proof be demanded for the
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drug must be taken to appease the inexorable demands of the tyrant craving. Now, without entering into medical discussions, without even taking for granted that the Chinese popular notion of opium is absolutely correct, we have this fact before us, that the Chinese people regard the habit as a ruinous vice. Drinking has no lack of defenders amongst ourselves. The majority agree that it is excess, not use, which injures. It is not so with opium * I do not think that such an idea as the possible moderate use of opium has entered a Chinamanâ€™s mind.
My second point is, that we are forcing our opium upon China. Good people in England, who have no practical acquaintance with the politics of the far East, may be surprised to hear this. They thought that the trade was now a legal one. So it is ; opium was introduced into the tariff of the Treaty of Tientsin in 1858. But what was the basis of the Treaty of Tientsin ? Nothing but our superior military power. There was no pretence of willingliood on the Chinese side. When that treaty was made, it required another war to get it ratified. Not till our troops had taken the gates of Peking, destroyed the Emperorâ€™s summer palace, and driven him to take refuge in Tartary, did the Chinese finally yield. The simple fact is, we
* As this was misapprehended hy at least one gentleman in the meeting, let me explain. My intention was not to pronounce upon the fact, but to allege general, I believe universal, Chinese opinion as to their view of the fact. Probably, as matter of fact among the millions of smokers, there are a few who, hy some happy peculiarity of nervous temperament, do not feel what the Chinese call the a p' in yan, the fatal quality that makes the dose of opium require to be constantly increased to produce the same effect once produced hy a small quantity. But â€œ one swallow does not make a spring;â€ â€œexceptions prove the rule. What I aver is, that there is no numerous class of moderate opium-smokers, as there is amongst us a numerous class of moderate drinkers. On the contrary, they are so few that the popular mind has not discovered their existence.
Dr. James Begge stated at the meeting that he had known missionaries discuss whether moderate opium-smokers might be baptized. This exactly confirms my statement, and I thank the doctor for mentioning it. I have known this too. But I have never known, and he, I think, has never known, Chinese originate such an idea. As he said, the native Christians stamped out the notion as soon as mentioned.
first fact, I will not attempt to work upon your feelings by harrowing descriptions of isolated cases. I find my proof in the universal testimony of the Chinese people. They are of age, ask them. They are the only opiumsmoking people on the face of the world. They have tried it now for three generations. They ought to know. Ask them. Sir, I do not think on any matter subject to human testimony you could find such another instance of perfect unanimity of testimony. The Emperor condemns it. The officials condemn it. The people condemn it. The opium-smokers condemn it: they most loudly and bitterly of all. Ah! well they know, about whose souls the fatal serpent coil of the fascinating poison has wrapt its adamantine folds. Well do they know who come crowding round the missionary begging for some medicine to release them from the habit they feel is dragging them to poverty and death. Never during eleven years in China did I hear one single Chinese commend or even so much as excuse the opium pipe. I think you might traverse China from the Great Wall to the Southern Sea, from the mouth of the Yang Tsze to the Passes of Thibet, without hearing from 400,000,000 lips one word in favour of opium. It is popularly one of the triad of vices: gambling, opium-smoking, debauchery. You ask why, if there is such a unanimous condemnation of the vice, why do they buy opium, why do they grow it? Why do men sin ? Sin is pleasant at first. There are plenty of people in China, as in England, who will minister to any vice for money.
One hears opium-smoking compared to the drinking customs of England. These analogies are perilous things, and always require to be measured with the facts before they can be trusted. People say alcohol is a stimulant; opium is a stimulant; here there is moderate drinking and drunkenness ; surely in China only excess in the use of the opium pipe is evil, a moderate use cannot be harmful. So I should have reasoned from analogy, but the facts conduct to a different conclusion. Opium appears to possess such qualities that its regular use becomes a slavery ; after a while it is no more a pleasure, but a physical necessity, and increasing doses of the
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are all along forcing ourselves into Chinaâ€”our ambassador, our consuls, our merchants, our missionaries : the whole foreign intercourse with China, without exception, has been based upon, and is maintained by, force : and opium, in this
| respect, is only one most offensive and objectionable item in a totality of relations supported simply and solely by the British fleet and army. But if the Chinese are compelled sorely against their will to admit us and our commerce according to so-called treaties, which are our declarations of the terms on which we choose to hold intercourse with China, they may object to one part of this intercourse more than another. And they do, specially, and in set terms, object to the opium trade. They have expressly and emphatically demanded to be released from their treaty obligation. They have complained that opium is destroying their country, and that they cannot put their own laws in force against the native-grown opium, because they are compelled to admit our Indian opium. They appeal to our justice, our mercy, our sense of religion. They intimate the probability of this opium trade leading to another war. Oh ! such a despatch as this,* written by Pagan statesmen to a Christian ambassador, makes oneâ€™s heart sink with shame. There is no reply. There is no excuse. The dishonour weighs us down. We feel that, as a country, we have sold justice and humanity, religion, peace, goodwill among men, the very honour of our God and our Saviour Christ, for gold. That terrible pile of eight million golden sovereigns ; it has outweighed every consideration of true political expediency, of righteousness, of philanthropy. But is it yet too late to repent, and to endeavour to retrieve our lost character, and, if it may be, avert that impending retribution which we cannot but believe God has in store for such iniquities as this ?
It has been my task to set before you the opium trade as it is, not to suggest the remedy. Until we feel the evil, until the national conscience is aroused, and the people of England demand that this iniquity shall be no more, what hope is there of remedy ?
* Vide Parliamentary Report, East India Finance, 1871, p. 266.
Let me conclude with a parable. We in England are not familiar with the use of opium, but we know what rum and whiskey are, and we have heard reports of the terrible injury inflicted by ardent spirits on the Bed Indians of North America; how that tribes and nations have withered away, and become extinct, before the deadly influence of the â€œ fire-water.â€ It has long seemed to you one of the most melancholy chapters in the history of the human race to read how the wild children of the forest have perished before the destructive agencies of the vices of civilization. You marvel that any white man can be so heartless as to sell this deadly poison to the savages; but individuals will always be found in every nation ready to pander to the worst vices of mankind for filthy lucre. What, however, would you say if you were told that the Government of the United States long ago established immense State distilleries, to convert the corn of their magnificent prairies into whiskey for sale to the Indians ? What would you think if you were told that the Government of the United States sedulously nourished this trade, placing it under the care of intelligent officials, devoting thought and pains, and an immense capital, to ensure a constant supply of exactly that strength and flavour of the liquor best liked by the Indians, and sending it out in Government packages, under Government marks ? What would be your opinion of the Americans if you heard that they realised immense profits by this trade, which were appropriated to the salary of their President, the support of their army, their courts of justice, their national schools ? This is not all. Would it not shock you to hear that once the poor Indians made a determined effort to bar the entrance of the pernicious drink ? After a grand palaver of all their chief sachems and medicine-men they gave notice to the traders that they had resolved never to permit another keg of fire-water to come within their hunting grounds. The traders defying this prohibition, the Indians stopped a caravan laden with barrels of the fiery liquor, burst the hoops of the barrels, and poured the streaming poison into the Mississippi. Would you believe it if you were to hear that the Government of the United
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States thereupon sent an expedition against the Indians, shot their warriors, burnt their wigwams, harried their tribes, until they made the survivors pay a compensation in furs for every drop of the spilt whiskey, and compelled them to tolerate the trade ever after ? Oh, the monstrosity of such doings in the face of high Heaven! Stay, my friend. We have been speaking in parables. As Nathan said unto David, â€œ Thou art the man !â€ This is a picture of the proceedings of our own Government. Put opium for whiskey, Chinese for Red Indians, ourselves for the Americans, and the case is not any longer imaginary, but an imperfect representation of the hideous fact. I know that this fact is disguised from many by the complications of our Chinese relations. I know that on the Chinese side there have been many and grievous errors and faults ; all the more reason, therefore, that we should drag out this fact in its naked hideousness to the light of day. Reduce this case to its elements, and what have we ? On one side, national honour and Christian duty, the claims of justice and of compassion, pity for the perishing, and desire for peace and the spread of the Gospel; on the other, what ? Eight millions of money!
Never, perhaps, was there a clearer illustration of the Masterâ€™s words, â€œYe cannot serve God and Mammon!â€
Before this paper was quite concluded the time was spent, and the Chairman called on the
Rev. Dr. LEGGE, who said:â€” Mr. Chairman, I cannot say that I came here this morning altogether unprepared to be called on to speak, for I did get an intimation from Mr. 'Turner that I should be expected to say something. 1 did not, however, put anything in writing, nor have I arranged my thoughts with a view to anything like an argumentative address, and it is as well, as the speakers now can only be allowed each a few minutes.
I am here, I suppose, as one of the missionaries referred to in the card calling the meeting; but I prefer to think of myself as being here, simply because I am a British subject. I might indeed speak specially as a missionary about the opium traffic, for missionaries suffer from it in a peculiarly aggravating and bitt r way. It is a
very great trial to us sometimes to have our converts, who had been rescued from the -vices of heathenism, carried back into them, or into other vices as bad, by the seduction of the opium pipe; some, moreover, who had been opium sots have been led to abandon the drug, and I have myself baptized individuals of this class, but I was never able to be without great anxiety about them, lest they should again fall into its snare. As a missionary, also, I could speak of the way in which opium-smoking is regarded by Chinese Christians. Mr. Turner has told the meeting how the Chinese people universally are opposed to, or at least speak against, the practice; but the Chinese Christians are specially opposed to it. I have taken part in meetings of missionaries, when the question was discussed whether the use of the opium pipe in moderation should be a bar to the administration of baptism, and there have been differences of opinion on the point. Among the members of Chinese Churches I never found any such difference of opinion. An applicant for baptism who was to any extent committed to the practice would be rejected. In no other way could they so emphatically express their opinion of the evil and the danger of the practice.
But I prefer, as I said, to be here simply as a British subject, for I have always felt that the opium traffic was a just subject of reproach to usâ€”do we not feel so ourselves ? And people of other nationalities do the same, and are not slow to express their judgments. I have often had to hang my head in shame, when the subject has come up in conversations which I have had about it with Americans, Prussians, Russians, and others. The cultivation of the poppy in India under Government auspices, as in fact a Government monopoly, and the way in which the trade in the manufactured opium has been pushed in China, and forced upon it are, indeed, a reproach to our nation, and have done and are doing much to take away any moral prestige which it has in the world.
I brought the subject up at the British Legation at Peking last year, where it was freely admitted that the traffic was a most deplorable evil. In speaking of the plea which I have oft en heard urged in its behalf, that merchants
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had been justified in the trade because multitudes of the Chinese people wished to get the opium, and many of the authorities had connived at the selling of it to themâ€”connived, that is, for a consideration, or because they were vicious themselves, I urged that all that was futile as a defence of the procedure of our Government. That had only to regard the wishes of the Chinese Government. Concerning the sincerity of its opposition to the introduction of the article among its people, there could be no question; and that the British Government should have disregarded that sincere opposition, and acted as it had done, was a thing that could not be thought of with patience. All this was admitted; and it was said that if there had been a full and free interchange of opinion between the two Governments at the time of the first treaty in 1842, something might have been done, and probably would have been done ; but that it was now too late to do anything to abate or remove the evil.
Is it really so that nothing can be done to remove the evil ? I hope it is not so, and rejoice that this Society is about to be formed with a view to cope with it. I do not think that the struggle with the opium traffic will be so severe and difficult as that with slavery was. There we had to do with the interests of a widely ramified system, whose roots extended through all the British people. My opinion is that much opposition to the object of our association is not now to be apprehended from the British merchants in China. I have had much association with many of them of a very pleasant kind. Those of them who are engaged in the opium trade, I have considered to be so mainly by their misfortune. They came into connection with the old houses who were in it, and think they are obliged to carry on the old system. Some of them have retired rather than do so; and I venture again to express my opinion that it would now be a relief to the British merchants in China to be freed from the odium of the opium traffic.
On the difficulties in the way of abating and finally removing the preparation of the opium in India, which are very great, I have not time to say anything; and I will conclude by referring to two things of a different
character, which it is right that the members of this Association should have before them.
The one of these is a very sad thing â€”the extent to which the cultivation of the poppy has increased, and is increasing, in China. This complicates the problem of how to rescue the Chinese from their opium-smoking very much. I had painful evidence of the fact last year in travelling with Mr. Ed-kins overland from Peking to Shanghai. Then we found the poppy largely grown in Shan-tung and the other eastern provinces, where it was not known before that such a thing existed. The most painful day of that journey was the one on which, as we drew near to the city of the Chinese sage Confucius, we came upon the first opium field. We entered into conversation on the subject with some old grey-headed men on the way-side, deploring the sight of the flaring poppies. They said they deplored it as well, and that the young men in the district would grow up in consequence deteriorated in character, that, in fact, the prosperity of the place would disappear. From that day, for many days after, we everywhere saw opium fields. One told us he would make six times as much by growing poppies as by growing wheat; others gave us a smaller figure, but the lowest was that poppies were twice as profitable a crop as wheat. If only that smaller gain be the correct statement, yet how great the temptation to withdraw the land from the production of what is good, and give it to the production of what is evil! All this growth of the poppy is against the laws of the country, and must tend greatly to the demoralisation, in the first place, of those who engage in it. Our problem becomes, in consequence, more difficult; but it is a most melancholy consideration that for all the demoralisation of the Chinese people, and the disorganisation of the Chinese Government consequent on it, this country is in no slight degree responsible.
The greater gain made by growing the poppy is, I said, the temptation to grow it, and this suggests to me the thought that it is not a nice thing, looking at it commercially, that by its monopoly of the poppy and opium in India, the Government should be making 300 per cent. But, leaving this, I
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come to the last thing which I wish to refer to. Happily it is of a different character. How do our relations with Japan contrast with our relations with China? How wonderful has been the progress in Japan in a few years of kindly feeling towards other nations, and in the adoption of the habits and ways of our civilisation! When I saw the vessels of Commodore Perryâ€™s Expedition to attempt the opening up of Japan, lying in Hong-Kong harbour, in 1853, I was not without fear that the bringing the country into alliance with other nations might lead to the rise of an opium trade with it, and I venture to say here that I prayed that such might not be the case. Most fortunately it was not so. In the American Treaty with Japan, subsequently framed by Consul Harris, the prohibition of opium as an article of commerce was recognized ; and, in Lord Elginâ€™s Treaty, immediately after, there was the same prohibition, and with a more stringent condition. The opium trade has embarrassed our relations with China, and hindered the growth of kindly feeling towards us on the part of the Government and people, and will continue to do so while it exists. This has not existed in Japan, and we have the natural result. There is no man in this meeting who has more of the patriotic feeling of an Englishman than I have; but I thank God that the United States preceded us in opening up Japan.
Dr. J. P. NEWMAN, Chaplain to the Senate, U. S., said : My interest in this question was so great, I came from a sick chamber to protest against the iniquity. I am loth to speak of so terrible a thing, for, in all my journeys around this globeâ€”whether in the isles of Japan, or in the Celestial Empire, or in India, or in the Persian Gulf, in Mesipotamia, in the Mediterranean, and along the gates of Labradorâ€”wherever I have been I have seen the English flag; wherever I have seen the English flag I have seen liberty ; and wherever I have seen the English flag, there I have seen houses of mercy, schools of learning, halls of justice, temples of piety. I regret, however, to say that, both in China and India, I witnessed the terrible effects, physical and moral, and, I may say, gentlemen, financial, of the use of opium. But, sir, the moments that I have to speak I wish to speak as an American citizen. Across the Atlantic,
by the blessing of God, after a 100 years, we emancipated the last slave, and now we are endeavouring to grapple with a domestic iniquity, in the form of Mormonism. Four thousand nine hundred of the adherents of that creed come from across the Atlantic ; but we are crushing out that, and, in a short time, we shall be free from that abomination, from that which outrages the sacred rights of morality, which is a crime against society, and a sin against God. But, Mr. Alderman McArthur, and gentlemen, we are now employed with another evil, which exists on the West Coast, whither the Chinese come in great numbers as domestic servants, washermen, labourers, miners, &c. We are doing what we can to civilize and Christianize themâ€”for we are giving them schools of learning and temples of religionâ€”but they have come to us debilitated, they have come enervated by the influence of opium. We need them as labourers, need them as servants, we need them as citizens ; for on that great region, from the Missouri to the Golden Gate there is less than one million of white inhabitants. We therefore bid them welcome, but we cannot bid them welcome as opium-smokers, and, therefore, America protests against the opium traffic in China, which is connected with California, with all our Pacific Coast. I regret to say, that from the city of Hong-kongâ€” where the name of Dr. Legge is a tower of strengthâ€”from the city of Hongkong, no less than 133,000 dollarsâ€™ worth of opium is sent annually to the Pacific Coast. You can readily see the evil effect of that.
Mr. NG-A-CHOY saidâ€”Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am not in the habit of making speeches, and I think that this is the first time I have ever had the pleasure of addressing a public meeting. I am glad to hear tint a space of only five minutes is limited to each speaker, and probably I shall occupy less than that time. I have to ask your indulgence in one point. Being a Chinese, I should prefer to express my thoughts in my native language, but as this would not be intelligible to many of you here, I shall speak in your language : therefore, if in the course of the remarks I am about to make I should not be so clear to you as you might desire, I hope you will forgive me.
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There cannot be, I think, two opinions about the desirability and necessity of abolishing the opium traffic, because of the pernicious effects produced by the use of opium. The whole nation of China has been demoralized by it. It is a proverb amongst us that of the four common vices, drunkenness, gambling, fornication, and opium-smoking, opiumsmoking is the worst. Its evil influence extends to all classes of my countrymen, from the highest to the lowest. The rich and the poor, the educated and the ignorant, nay, from the prince down to the peasant, all are under its sway. If evidence is needed go to the official circles, and you will find many mandarins rendered lazy and indolent from the effects of opiumsmoking. Turn to the family circles, and you will see innumerable victims who present a melancholy spectacle. They are weak and enervated both in mind and body. The injurious effects are not confined to the smokers alone, but their offspring are the sufferers also. There is a marked difference between the children of the opium-smokers and the children of those who are not smokers; the one are weak, thin, and sickly, while the others are healthy and strong. Further, opium-smoking leads to the commission of crime. It has been the cause of some people selling their parents, wives, and children, in order to obtain money to buy opium, and of others who pilfer, steal, and commit robberies from want of money to purchase opium to satisfy their craving.
[A Voiceâ€”What is the remedy then ?]
I am not here to suggest means, especially as I am a foreigner, but I must remark that if England could afford to pay such an enormous sum of money as Â£20,000,000 for the emancipation of slaves, as was done, if I am not mistaken, some forty years ago, surely 6he can afford now to forego a smaller sum in the shape of about Â£6,000,000 a-year for the abolition of this injurious traffic. But there is another reason why the opium traffic should be discontinued ; that is, it creates an ill-feeling between the two nations â€” I mean England and China. The lower class of my countrymen are under the impression that opium was first introduced into China by the English people, and though this has been found not to be
the case, yet are they not responsible for the large importation of the drug carried in every mail to China ? Therefore there is some cause for the hostile animus, and if you wish the bad feeling to cease, let the opium traffic cease first.
In conclusion, I must say that I am very much pleased to be present at this meeting, and to see so many benevolent people here taking such a deep interest in the opium question with a view to devise means for stopping this trade. I wish every success to this meeting. I can assure this meeting that I am expressing the sentiments of my countrymen when I say that if any encouragement is needed, you may count upon the support and co-operation of my countrymen.
General ALEXANDER said:â€”Mr. Chairman, our time is limited and it would take too much of it to give even an outline of the horrors of wars, and unavailing struggles of the Chinese, which constitute the blood-stained history of the British opium traffic. You have alluded to a pamphlet I wrote on the subject ? In addition to that I wrote others, an article in the Excelsior Magazine, and at my request the late Mr. Isaac Taylor, author of The History of Enthusiasm, gave the aid of his powerful mind and ability by an article in the North British Eeview. All these may be useful now, though since then circumstances have changed, and as the result of unjust wars, bloodshed, and devastation, the slaughter of men, women, and children, the trade is now legalised at five ports in China ; while, with our former Tunica fides, a contraband traffic in opium, grown and supplied by the British Government, is still atrociously carried on along the coasts of China. Whatever the opinion may be worth, I cannot but think that you may take ground â€™that it is illegal and unconstitutional for the Government of our country to hold any monopoly, and either directly or indirectly to enter into adventure of any kind of trade. Although I can no longer bear the active part by which I formerly endeavoured to serve in the great and good cause you now undertake, I shall be ready to submit to your acceptance any information I then acquired, and to serve it in any way in my power as you and your colleagues may see good to desire.
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DONALD MATHESON : I cannot see any possibility of accomplishing the abolition of the opium traffic by means of political agitation. Previous to the signing of the Treaty of Tientsin there were some grounds for hoping that the country might be roused to bring the weight of public opinion to bear upon our Government, and I took my share in that effort; but it failed, and since then each year has only added to the difficulty of reversing the policy of legalization. For many years it has been my conviction that the only remedy within our reach is the extension of Christian Missions. I have very great doubts of the Chinese Government having any honest desire to abolish the traffic, and it has occurred to me that the best way to test the matter would be to invite a deputation from the Court of Pekin to visit this country, and inform us of their views on the whole question.
The Rev. E. E. JENKINS said: I had no expectation of saying a word on this subject when I entered the room: but as an old missionary I cannot but feel a deep interest in the discussion. I do not profess to dispute the evil which has been described, but who can suggest the remedy? I believe it is impossible for us, here, to advance any further than just in front of the question. But we can do something that shall prepare the mind of this country to deal with the question of the Opium Traffic by-and-bye. Let us print and circulate the facts which have been brought before us to-day by Mr. Turner and by Dr. Legge. The history of this fearful trade is almost unknown even by intelligent men. Our hope lies in the circulation of facts in every possible form. Let the churches take the matter up, and through their journals, on their platforms, and in their social gatherings, let them expose this foul blot that stains the hand of the Indian Government. I shall do what I can both in private and in public to promote such an exposure.
Mb. HANBURY: I would like specially to bring to the notice of the meeting the words of Mr. Wade, the British Minister to the Court of Pekin, as printed on page 20 of the Parliamentary Reports before you, because, as a resident in China for many years, it appears to me that this statement, coming from the highest authority,
conveys in condensed language the best idea of the frightfully injurious effects of opium smoking as practised by the Chinese. Mr. Wade says : â€”
â€œ It is to me vain to think otherwise of the use of the drug in China, than as of a habit many times more pernicious, nationally speaking, than the gin and whisky drinking which we deplore at home. It takes possession more insidi; ously, and keeps its hold to the full as tenaciously. I know no case of radical cure. It has insured in every case within my knowledge the steady descent, moral and physical, of the smoker, and it is, so far, a greater mischief than drink, that it does not, by external evidence of its effect, expose its victim to the loss of repute which is the penalty of habitual drunkenness.â€
Now, having seen much of opium smoking in China during the past twenty years, I may say I think Mr. Wade does not exaggerate his estimate of the evils produced by the habit.
Our Chinese friend here, who has spoken, has alluded to the baneful effects of the drug on smokers. It is, indeed, too true, and one cannot but see everywhere the physical evils that are caused by it. The opium-smoker of yearsâ€™ standing, I believe I am correct in stating, ceases to hope for children ; that is one of the dreadful results of the use of the drug, which seems slowly to consume the vital powers of those who become its victims.
I regret much to notice that British merchants trading with China are scarcely at all represented at this meeting, but, as one of them, I am very happy to tell you that there are many who utterly condemn the opium traffic, and, further, that two-thirds, perhaps three-fourths of the trade is at present carried on not by Englishmen, as many in this country suppose, but by our Indian subjects, Jews, Parsees, and Moormen.
Further, I believe, that most of those engaged in the other branches of our trade with China, look on opium as impoverishing that country, and, therefore, tending to prevent that legitimate extension of commerce which has by no means come up to the expectations formed of it when the last treaty with China was made.
As all present are doubtless fully convinced of the evils of opium, the
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most important question to consider is what can be done most effectively with a view to the suppression of the trade. My answer to this is somewhat different to what has been propounded by previous speakers, who have only urged arousing public opinion here, and bringing pressure to bear on the Government, with a view to stopping the culture of the poppy in India, and the export of opium to China. I would say, let us hold out the hand of friendship to China ; let us give her to understand that the majority of our countrymen condemn the conduct of our Government, in 1839-42, in forcing the Chinese to continue to admit opium when they were determined to stop the traffic. Let us say to China, we will now do what we can to help you to put down the fearful curse of opium-smoking in your country ; and whenever you feel yourselves strong enough again to decree the prohibition of its import from India, and its culture in your own country, you may count on our hearty co-operation in the good work, even at the sacrifice to ourselves of the large revenue we now derive from the article. Were such an assurance to be made by the English Government, it would, in my opinion, do more than anything else to remove that unfortunate feeling of mistrust and dislike which the Chinese Government evinces towards us, and which stands in such marked contrast to our relations with Japan. One hears much now of the rapid advances the Japanese are making in learning and adopting the benefits of European civilisation ; and at the same time remarks are often added contrasting the slowness and stupidity of the Chinese in failing to appreciate such advantages; but, I ask, is it likely that an intelligent and patriotic Chinaman, carefully studying the history of the intercourse of his countrymen with Europeans during the past fifty years, would think that the benefit of such intercourse had on the whole outweighed the evils ? I fear he would come to exactly the opposite conclusion.
But I would ask is the comparison fair, considering that, in the one case, we evinced at the outset a friendly feeling and careful regard for the wellbeing of the Japanese,â€”Lord Elgin, when making the treaty, taking care specially to prohibit the introduction
of opium ? But in the case of China, we have had two wars with that country during the past fifty years, each ending in a treaty of peace that must have been considered deeply humiliating by her rulers. One of the results of these treaties has been that the consumption of opium has increased in the most alarming manner, so that the value of the imports of the drug has more than doubled in the last twenty-five years.
Look at the number of Japanese students now in this country : but where are the Chinese youths who should be studying our civilisation, our literature, our religion? I regret to say they are not to be found; and the young man you have just heard address the meeting with such intelligence and point is apparently the only representative of China who is with us to-day. Is this as it should be ? Look at what is doing in the United States. We see the Chinese Educational Mission started and conducted by the Chinese, who have fifty-six boys being educated there at this present moment, and more are about to follow. This educating of Chinese boys up to the standard of our Western civilisation will, in my opinion, exercise a considerable bearing on the future of the opium trade. They will probably occupy important positions when they return to their country, and may hereafter influence public opinion in China in no slight degree. They will, I trust, at least, carry back with them the conviction that another opium war in the present state of public opinion throughout the civilised world is an impossibility, and that most Englishmen would be only too glad to see their nation wash its hands of all participation in the traffic.
Professor AMOS: I think the word remedy has been used. I think it is not for us to find a remedy, but it is the duty of Parliament to do so. We are to say what the Government shall not do. If we cast upon them the duty of finding the revenue for India, we are entitled to protest againÂ»t an immoral source of revenue and to express the dictates of our conscience, and say what Government shall not do. Make this matter public. We have now to go forth from this meeting and so to make it known to the people, that it may be heard and responded to by the voice of the nation. We shall
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then go to the House of Commons and say, however you govern .India, you must do without the revenue received from opium, and cease from forcing this iniquitous traffic upon a country which does not want it.
Mr. ARTHUR ALBRIGHT (of Birmingham), said, he had travelled by mail through the night, and at some sacrifice, to represent an Anti-opium Committee formed at Birmingham, and also at the earnest entreaty of his friend, Edward Pease. He wished that the present meeting should recognise how much we were indebted to that gentleman into whose breast it seemed to him the almost expiring conscience of the nation on this grave question had taken its last refuge. He trusted, however, that now Mr. Peaseâ€™s earnest spirit had been communicated to all present, and that in being afresh aroused by the powerful evidence and speeches to which they had just listened, every one would feel a responsibility laid on them to represent this cause.
The Birmingham Committee alluded to, had been formed as the result of two meetings, but very poorly attended, held about a year ago. Mr. Reynolds the gentleman interested in the question, had called on himself with this remark from a clergyman, a friend and neighbour of his. â€œ Go to Mr. Albright, he and the â€˜ Friends â€™ are the people to call a meeting and to work the question.â€
He did not feel at liberty to refuse his aid, and he could promise that so far as other pressing claims would allow, his help, and that of some others at Birmingham, should still be rendered.
A great difficulty was, in the throng of public questions, to get an audience for a new or a revived subject like this. He thought that if the suggestion of Mr. Donald Matheson of getting an influential deputation from China, representing officially the Imperial Government of that Empire, to visit this country, could be carried out, it would be a most efficient manner of getting this question well before the British mind; that men must be enlightened, a public opinion formed, a public conscience aroused that would not allow even the great obstacle of the replacement of seven millions of revenue to stand in the way of the abolition of this enormous evil.
He recollected that an even greater obstacle was placed in the path of those who contended for the abolition of West Indian Slavery by the statement of Sir Robert Peel, that it would require at least 140 millions of pounds sterling to compensate the planters.
Unaffrighted by this awful ghost, the abolitionists pushed forward and obtained their end at the cost of a loan, subsequently made a gift, of 20 millions sterling. The conscience of the nation must now in like manner be educated to any needful pecuniary sacrifice ; but Professor Sheldon Amos was right that the Executive Government of Great Britain must devise the means and methods of giving practical operation to the national will.
Rev. W. BRADEN: I rise to support the representations which have been made as to the necessity of rousing public opinion. As representing the younger brethren in this assembly, I may say that very probably many were like myself, until a few minutes ago, not aware of the real state of our opium relations. But I have felt, as I believe every one would feel who had the means of obtaining the information, a very hearty indignation against the iniquity and a conviction that this traffic ought to be abolished; and I rise to make a new suggestion, that as Mr. Grant Duff is just on the eve of his departure for India, to study the whole of the Indian question in its connections with this country that he should be specially invited to study this question. He is a man of one idea, and a man who will make a still larger mark if he comes back to this country, with knowledge gained upon the spot of all these complicated Indian questions, and able to speak with the authority of personal experience upon them. We are told that the Indian Budget deficit will be for the years 1872 to 1875 something like twelve millions ; that is, every year for three years a four millions deficit, and were we to add to that the revenue from opium of seven millions, the deficit would be something like eleven millions in the revenue. Our first duty is not to trouble ourselves with what seems to us the difficulty of providing a substitute for the opium revenue, but to press the matter upon the public conscience until we have at the back of our
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movement a very strong and powerful public opinion.
Mk. HUTCHINSON said : At first sight the difficulties, financial and political, appear so great, that one might almost despair. Remembering, however, what was done by England in the matter of the slave trade, the financial difficulty cannot be insurmountable. Two points I should have liked to have asked information on are theseâ€”Is there such an expression of public opinion in China, against the introduction of opium, as would serve to us as a lever by which to work ? The other point is if the trade now legalised is ever made contraband, are we prepared by our naval force to assist the Chinese in keeping down the efforts sure to be made to introduce opium by smuggling ? Without such aid from us, could the Chinese keep out foreign opium ? and, if not, is our Government likely to use their power for the very opposite purpose to that for which it was first employed ? A hopeful argument may be drawn from the abolition of the African Slave-trade ; for those who are familiar with the history of the slave trade must remember that the very Government settlements which we knew were engaged in promoting the trade upon the West Coast of Africa are now used by Government to put it down.
HENRY HIPSLEY observed that
the first practical step appeared to be, for the Indian Government to withdraw itself from the monopoly of opium cultivation in Bengal, placing that product exactly in the position of Malwa opium, with an export duty of 600 rupees per chest or any higher amount. Having thus cleared ourselves from national complicity with the production, we should see our way more clearly in attempting to abolish the traffic altogether.
Mk. CHESSON proposed a resolution :â€”
â€œ That, having regard to the enormous evils which the Indian opium trade inflicts upon the Chinese Empire, and being painfully impressed with the heinous moral responsibility which the British nation has incurred and still continues to incur, by the cultivation and sale of the poppy in India, and by the importation of the manufactured drug into China, this meeting desires to express its cordial sympathy with the Association which has been formed for the purpose of promoting the abolition of the traffic, and pledges itself to support the movement by every means in its power.â€
THOMSON SHARP, of South Warwickshire, seconded the resolution.
The resolution was passed unanimously, and this terminated the Conference.