Chinese Opium Smoker -Twelve Illustrations Showing the Ruin which our Opium Trade with China is bringing upon that Country

Material Information

Chinese Opium Smoker -Twelve Illustrations Showing the Ruin which our Opium Trade with China is bringing upon that Country Incipient opium-smoker (illustration 1)
Series Title:
Objects of instruction : treasures of SOAS
程連蘇, 1861-1918 ( Soo, Chung Ling, 1861-1918 )
On permanent loan from the Council for World Mission Archive.
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:
H22.4 x W14.3 cm in


Subjects / Keywords:
Opium abuse ( lcsh )
Wives ( lcsh )
Abused wives ( lcsh )
亚洲 -- 中国
亞洲 -- 中國
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- China
35 x 105


This illustrated account of the evils of opium smoking, and of British complicity in the trade, was probably written by Benjamin Broomhall (1829-1911), executive director of the China Inland Mission. The legalisation of the opium trade in China in 1860 led to an apparent increase in consumption, and to a renewed campaign against the drug by some government officials, and by Protestant missionary groups in China and overseas. -- Although the work claims to have been originally produced by Chinese anti-opium campaigners, it bears a striking similarity to George Cruikshank’s caricatures for the temperance movement, The Bottle (1847) and The Drunkard’s Children (1848). (Text by Tom Tomlinson, from the exhibition catalogue: Objects of instruction : treasures of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Anna Contadini, Editor. London : SOAS, University of London, 2007.) ( en )
General Note:
Chung Ling Soo was the stage name of the American magician William Ellsworth Robinson (April 2, 1861– March 24, 1918) who is mostly remembered today for his death after a bullet catch trick went wrong.
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : Soo, Chung Ling, 1861-1918 : 3576066
General Note:
Source: A. Contadini (ed.), Objects of instruction : treasures of the School of Oriental and African Studies. London : SOAS, University of London, 2007. Listed as item number: 113
General Note:
From: Soo, Chung Ling. Chinese Opium Smoker -Twelve Illustrations Showing the Ruin which our Opium Trade with China is bringing upon that Country
General Note:
Number 6 of CMWL C.1/59

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS, University of London
Holding Location:
Archives and Special Collections
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
CMWL C.1/59 ( soas manuscript number )


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Full Text


Showing the Ruin
which our Opium Trade with China is
bringing upon that Country.
S \V. l'-'.p.'X'ridge & Co., 9, Paternoster Row.

Showing the Ruin
which our Opium Trade with China is
bringing upon that Country.
S. W. Partridge & Co., 9, Paternoster Row.

The following engravings, intended to depict the course of hun-
dreds and thousands of opium-smokers in China, were originally
published in the form of cartoons by the Canton Anti-Opium
Association—a purely native institution.
The explanations following are for the most part taken from
“ China’s Millions,” the monthly publication of the China Inland

The Chinese Opium-Smoker. Twelve Illustrations.
Opium-Smoking in China compared with the Drinking
Habits of England.
The Extent of the Evil.
England’s Responsibility in regard to the Opium-
England’s Duty in regard to Him.

No. i.
The incipient opium-smoker is reclining (as
is usual) on a couch in his mansion, while
his companion is indulging in tobacco through
the water-pipe common in China.

No. 2.
The opium-smoker, still portly and well-dressed,
is entreated by his poor wife on bended knees to
desist from the disastrous habit. His child is
running off with the dreaded pipe; while the
aged grandmother is seen coming, leaning on
her staff, to add her tears and entreaties—now
for the first time proved to be powerless. The
hold of the pipe is already established; interest,
duty, affection, reputation—all prove too feeble
to arrest the downward career of the smoker.
Sad indeed is the prospect; the husband is al-
ready doomed to poverty, shame, and an early
grave; his wife to ruin, his child to beggary.
His mother will die of a broken heart.

No. 3.
Representing the progress in dissipation of the
once sober gentleman, who has now, alas! be-
come the victim of this vice. To him day has
now become night, and night day. He can no
longer sleep at night; and to banish the tedium
of its long quiet hours, and to drown thought of
the sure ruin awaiting him, becomes an absolute
necessity. Regardless, therefore, alike of entreaty
and censure, he now openly introduces into his
house singing men and women, and gives himself
up to their society. His books, formerly the
companions of his choice, now lie unheeded on
his table, and will not long retain even their
place there. As for his poor family, powerless to
prevent, or even retard,the downward progress of
events, they can only consult their own safety by
keeping altogether out of sight.

No. 4.
All trace of literary occupation is now gone : the
opium scales have taken the place of the classics.
In the foreground a servant is preparing extract
of opium, for crude opium is never smoked. Be-
fore the portable stove stands a small bucket of
water, and a little charcoal lies on the ground
beside it. The opium is boiled in water, and
filtered; and the dregs are again boiled, till all
the soluble matter is extracted. The watery
solutions are then boiled down to the consistency
of treacle, when it is ready for use.
At the table, by her husband, the wife of the
smoker sits with pencil in hand, and with a long
strip of paper before her. Now she needs to
augment the family income, blappy is the wife
who in these circumstances is able to execute
Indian-ink drawings, or to write out ornamental
quotations from the classics.

No. 5.
Creditors will no longer forbear. Either the
habit must at once and for ever be given up, or
all hope of retaining possession of the ancestral
property must be lost. The very graves of the
ancestors join, as it were, in the last appeal of
the weeping wife and mother, and of the weeping
child, whose hopes of education, of literary ad-
vancement, and thus of promotion to office, are
destroyed by the baneful narcotic.
The aged mother, now needing the support of
a staff, is bringing hot tea for her son. Will he
bring down her grey hairs with sorrow to the
grave ? Will he see her turned out, a homeless
wanderer, out of the mansion in which she
nursed and tended him when a helpless babe
upon her lap ?

No. 6.
It is easy to imagine the feelings of the unfor-
tunate wife, who, seeing the misery and wretched-
ness wrought in her once comfortable home,
determines to destroy the whole of the smoking
apparatus. The tray and lamp are dashed upon
the floor, a few more moments will see the de-
struction of the pipe itself; but the noise has
reached the ears of her lord, who rushes in,
and, forgetful of all the teachings of his great
master, Confucius, proceeds to belabour her with
the bamboo stick he has seized for the purpose,
tn spite of the cries of their unfortunate child.
The entrance of an old and faithful retainer alone
prevents him from inflicting serious injury.

No. 7.
Still lower sinks the opium victim in his’miser-
able career. The comfort and shelter of his
paternal home are now things of the past. A
roof which, from the absence of tiles, can hardly
be said to cover, with at one side some bamboo
matting to screen from the blast, and a mat,
arranged to form a shelter, covering the place
where meals, when forthcoming, may be cooked,
is all that now remains to him of home. Surely
he will see his folly, and give up the practice
which has wrought him such ruin ? He cannot.
The appetite is perpetuated and intensified by
that upon which it feeds. Without medical aid it
would now probably be impossible to give up the
habit, and indulgence in it has taken away all
desire for assistance.

No. 8.
Not much better than the shed in which he lives
by day, is the shelter in which he now spends the
night. Somewhat screened by the garden fence,
his bed, supported at one end on a pile of bricks,
at the other on his only remaining stool, is still
covered by his curtains, and his opium lamp is
sufficiently sheltered to keep alight. Most of his
clothes have gone to the pawnshop; ere long
his curtains will follow them. His wife and child,
the picture of misery, can only look with hopeless
sorrow on the living and half-naked skeleton of
the once portly and well-dressed gentleman.
Wealth and property have gone, clothes and
respectability have gone, home and health have
gone, and what remains ? Ah, what indeed!
There is a ruined soul in that poor, heartless,
wrecked body, almost beyond the possibility of

No. 9.
The victim of opium is now a homeless beggar,
squatting in some out-of-the-way corner, and
dependent upon charity for a morsel of bread.
His unshaven head well agrees with the general
squalor of his appearance, and the ground is now
his only bed and table. His sole remaining pos-
sessions are his opium-pipe and a few earthen-
ware cooking utensils. Some compassionate per-
son, perhaps a former farm-servant, is bringing
him a small flattened loaf.

No. io.
Crime too often follows the destitution caused
by opium-smoking; for at all costs opium must be
had. Thefts, robberies, or even rrfurders may
result. The wretched culprit may have to flee
from justice, or to make his escape from a neigh-
bourhood which will no longer tolerate him. The
very dogs pursue him. Probably the bucket in
which the wanderer carries his pipe, and the
labourer’s hat slung behind him, are both stolen.
Some cave among the hills may shelter him, or
the rocks may shield him from the cutting wind.

No. 11.
The downward course of the opium-smoker is
now very rapid. Exposure to the weather and
want of food accelerate the injurious effects of the
opium. No one would think of giving a night’s
shelter to a man whose imperious craving for
opium would compel him to rob his benefactor
before morning. Endeavouring to warm himself
in the sunshine, with unshaven head and haggard
countenance, the sower coming with his seed-
basket finds him in a sheltered corner of the field.

No. 12.
Winter draws on apace. The fields supply
nothing that the wretched opium-smoker can eat.
All he can beg is insufficient to purchase that
opium without which he could not exist for a
single day; he has therefore exchanged his only
shirt for a little opium, to quiet for a time what
an opium-smoker well called “the torments of
the hell within.” All power of enjoyment has
long since passed away: now there is nothing
before him but suffering—suffering beyond the
grave! With trembling steps and a shivering
frame he seeks the shelter of a cave among the
rocks, in which he will lie down and die. Nor is
he alone in his misery; thousands of similar
victims are living, dying, dead—they are to be
found everywhere.


On this point the evidence of Mr. (now Sir Thomas)
Wade, K.C.B., Her Majesty’s minister at the Court of
Peking, given in Government Blue Book, No. 5 (1871),
p. 432, is so decisive, that it precludes the necessity of
further testimony. He says :—
“ It is to me vain to think otherwise of the use of the
drug in China, than as of a habit many times more per-
nicious, nationally speaking, than the gin and whisky
drinking which we deplore at home. It takes posses-
sion more insidiously, 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.”

In the absence of an official census, we can only
select the most reliable evidence to be had on the
J. Dudgeon, Esq., M.D., C.M., of the Peking
Mission Hospital, estimates that of the male
population in China generally, probably 30 to 40
per cent, smoke opium; of the general city
population, 40 to 60 per cent.
The former of these statements is perhaps
rather excessive, seeing that the same authority
gives the number of agriculturists and field
labourers as averaging only 4 to 6 per cent.
Of the city population we have from various
quarters more minute estimates to guide us.
Taking three important cities from various
parts of the country, we find that the number of
opium-smokers does in each case exceed the
estimate given by Dr. Dudgeon.
1.—Suchow, the capital of the province of Kiang Su.
The Rev^C. H. Du Bose, a resident missionary, writes :—.
“ As a minimum estimate, seven-tenths of the adult
males smoke opium. To this fact all of the natives you
ask will attest.”

The Extent of Opium-Smoking in China.—
2. —Ningpo, a city of 400,000 inhabitants in the
province of Chekiang.
“ It contains 2,700 opium-shops, or a shop for every
148 inhabitants, or every thirty men.”
(v. Mander's “ Our Opium Trade with. China” p. 8. J
3. —Tai Yuen, the capital of the province of Shansi.
A resident missionary writes:—
“ It is estimated that six or seven out of every ten
men you meet are addicted to the habit of opium-
smoking, and a larger proportion of women than I have
seen in any other city. There are about 400 retail opium-
shops, and seventy or eighty wholesale dealers.”
It is probable that these cities exceed the
average number of opium-smokers throughout
the city population in China; indeed, had not
the number been extraordinary, the estimate
would probably not have been made, but if the
number be reduced by one-half, we have still 30
per cent, of the city population throughout
China—in other words, some tens of millions—
who are the slaves of the opium-pipe.

Summary of facts bearing upon the relation of
Great Britain to the Chinese opium-trade:—
1. —When China, as a nation, knew nothing of the
vice of opium-smoking, British merchants introduced the
drug, enriching the treasury of the East India Company
to the demoralisation of the Chinese nation.
2. —When the Chinese Government vigorously re-
monstrated and strenuously opposed, England carried
the legalisation of the trade at the point of the sword.
3. —When the Chinese, discomfited in the field, ap-
pealed to the generosity and humanity of the British
Government for the suppression of the trade, the British
Government continued and upheld the policy they had
inaugurated by force of arms.
4. —When the subject is brought before the Houses of
Parliament, the trade is acknowledged to be unjustifiable,
yet, because of the revenue it brings to the Indian em-
pire, and the difficulties surrounding Indian finance, it
is upheld by the Government and supported by the

As a nation, our duty before God is plainly the
abandonment of the Government opium monopoly
in India, and the rendering our aid and influence
to the Chinese Government towards the execution
of all just measures for the suppression of the
vice in China.
For the accomplishment of this, the following
suggestions may be specified ;—
1. —A fearless vote on the part of the members of both
Houses of Parliament in support of the above measures,
and a careful consideration of the best means that can
be devised to meet the difficulties of Indian finance.
2. —A conscientious inquiry on the part of the electors
of the various constituencies throughout Great Britain,
at the parliamentary elections, as to the views of their
representatives in the House of Commons on this sub-
ject, and the registering their votes only for those candi-
dates who are determined to support the abandonment
of the Government opium monopoly in India.
3. —A willing co-operation on the part of the people
of Great Britain with their rulers, to make all needful
sacrifice to meet the deficit of £8,000,000 sterling in the
Indian exchequer.
4. —Above all, earnest prayer to Almighty God, on
the part of the Christian churches, that this evil may be
put away from us, calamity averted, and this barrier to
the establishment of the kingdom of God in the world
Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Printers, London and Aylesbury.