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questions as the following might have been addressed-What are the effects of opium-smoking and eating in health and disease ? What constitutes “moderate” opium-smoking? What quantity, if any,
and for what length of time, can opium be taken daily without injury? After what length of time or amount of opium-smoking (in other words what strength of the habit) is it with difficulty abandoned ? Is the habit when confirmed curable ; and if so, what medical or other means would you propose? In what percentage are such "moderate” smokers found, according to your definition of the term ? In what proportion do the smokers stand to the general population of your district? Is the poppy grown in your district or province, and since when was it begun to be cultivated ? Has opium any effect in warding off or in curing malarious diseases ?
In the work under review, the Inspector-General, Mr. Hart, gives us a carefully drawn up Introductory Note, based for the most part on the statistics furnished by the Commissioners of Customs and others at the nineteen treaty ports. The Opium-smoking Returns embrace Thirteen Questions, which we shall notice and comment upon in their order. These Reports from the different treaty ports are given for convenience in a tabulated form, from which the results may be seen and compared at a glance. Then follows a return of the Annual Import of Opium into Hongkong from 1858 to 1880 inclusive, and the volume of eighty pages closes with the circular of 1864 calling for information respecting native opium, and the replies in answer to this circular from the then twelve open ports. I believe that another work of interest on the opium trade will shortly be issued from the same press, the work consisting for the most part of extracts from the annual Reports on Trade bearing upon the poppy cultivation in China, arranged in the order of the ports, beginning with the northernmost, and following the line of coast, the extracts under each port being arranged in chronological order. We look with interest to the publication of this work. It will save much trouble in consulting the various annual reports, a complete set of which may not be in the possession of everyone. Most likely matter from other than Custom sources, bearing upon native opium, will find a place also in this work.
The Inspector's Introductory Note contains a resume of the results arrived at in answer to the question-How many smokers does foreign opium in China supply? The Thirteen Questions put, and to which answers are wanted, cover a much larger field than the question thus propounded. To this, however, we do not object. We could have wished for even a more extended series. The number of smokers reached by the foreign drug can be easily deduced from the well-known quantity
imported, minus the loss in converting the crude into the prepared drug, and the average amount smoked, for all of which already abundant data exist. The importance of some of the other questions introduced, the answers received, and the deductions therefrom, demand a somewhat closer investigation. The difficult questions relating to the extent of the native growth-the population of China, the adulteration of the drug, the resmoking of the opium ashes, and finally the eating of them by the poorer class, (for nothing is thrown away) are some of the essential points needed, to arrive at anything like an exact or a fairly approximative estimate. We shall point out how at least the last three of the above points have been completely left out of the calculation, and we shall try to show how very materially the general result is affected thereby, and therefore that the results reached in this opium brochure cannot be accepted as conclusive. In the Returns here given, one writer after another speaks of the difficulty of obtaining accurate information, tells us of the different results elicited by enquiries, of the suspicion that was aroused that interests were to be affected, and of the evident spirit of exaggeration in regard at least to the native growth which one writer had evidence of at different ports and places. All that the Commissioners claim, after sifting and balancing the answers received and striking an average, is approximation. The values annexed may, however, they say, be considered as fairly correct.
The Commissioners of Customs, it will be admitted by all parties, were specially well qualified to answer most of these questions. The figures so honestly given, and free of all bias, are of much value. Those who view this question might be divided into two classes, the missionary and merchant; the one shewing perhaps an inclination to say the very worst of opium, and the other as apologists for the trade; both at the same time expressing their convictions founded on their observations. Up to the measure of their knowledge the statements of both classes may be accepted as true. The brochure before us represents neither class, but the subject is treated in a straightforward light. The Returns are all good. Some are much fuller than others-sometimes arising out of the circumstances of the port, the nature of the opium imported, etc. ;-most have affixed to them longer or shorter memoranda which are most useful, and indicate the knowledge of the subject possessed by the writer, the care he has exercised, and the mode he has employed in arriving at his conclusions. The Returns should invariably be read in the light of these explanatory statements. Among these we note the Returns from Chefoo, Hankow, Kiukiang, Ningpo, Wenchow, Taku and Canton, all of which are more or less full, showing a considerable acquaintance with details of the subject. The returns from Kiukiang, Ningpo, Wenchow and Canton are particularly valuable. The returns from Tientsin, Ichang, Chinkiang, Tamsui, Swatow, Kiungchow and Pakhoi, have not a single word of comment. This brochure is the first really authoritative declaration on the subject, drawn from a large mass of facts and embracing a large extent of country and people, placed under very different climates and geographical and dietetic conditions. Individual clerical and medical missionaries have, at various times, published their views and made their calculations, which do not materially differ from those here given. This brochure has, as a matter of course, been received as authoritative, and the influence it has already exerted has not been small. As it stands, there is much in it that both sides may lay hold of. It will be our purpose to examine the various points presented as impartially as possible, and to indicate where, in our opinion, they fail to convey a correct impression of the case.
We have said that the Commissioners of Customs are a body of men well situated for giving correct and unbiassed opinions on the subject; and that they have performed their part well none will deny. In regard to questions of import and export, the selling price of the drug, the cost at the smoking room, the duties leviable after payment of import duty and even as regards the quantity produced in the province in which the port is situated, I know no source more reliable than that of the Customs; but when it comes to the question of how much a beginner, an average and a heavy smoker, consume daily, and after what time is the habit abandoned with difficulty, one might reasonably suppose that they were not in a good position to answer these questions. In answer, they might be said to be peculiarly illfitted to give reliable information on some of these points from the peculiarities of their surroundings. We may suppose their informants to be Chinese in their employment, privately or publicly, Chinese acquaintances, and opium dealers; and it is not difficult to imagine that statements received from such quarters might become more or less distorted and so unwittingly convey a wrong impression. Facts solicited by the authority of the Inspector-General and presumably by the Chinese Government, would put servants, opium dealers and others on their guard. It would be natural to expect a crusade against opium, or an increase in the duty or lekin, or dismissal of the victims, as the result of such enquiries; opium-smokers under these circumstances would be very apt to minimise the evils of the habit and to extend the period before the habit becomes confirmed and cannot easily be abandoned. But notwithstanding all these supposed difficulties, it is remarkable how very correct the Returns are. The answers in the
12th column are the least satisfactory, making the period in which the habit is not easily given up extending from two or three months to ten and fifteen years. We shall review the Returns from the various ports, taking the Thirteen Questions in the order in which they are given, glancing in passing at the Inspector-General's deductions therefrom, and finally criticise the precis given, in many particulars not hitherto discussed or referred to. The first question relates to the loss of drug in the preparation of the smokable article; how much prepared opium does 100 catties of crude drug yield? The Returns are drawn out for the five kinds of opium found in the Chinese market, viz., Malwa, Patna, Benares, Persian and native Chinese. And here, at the very threshold, we are struck with the great divergence of results; the different drugs giving different results, and the same drug widely different results at the various ports. A large number of points come in here for discussion—the purity of the drug, degree of dryness of the same, different modes of boiling and testing,—and surely after admitting all this, the difference between the three Indian sorts at the different ports is still left to a large extent unexplained. One or two only of the memos refer to this subject. The Takow Return says "owing to opium being generally boiled in small quantities here, no accurate account of the out-turn is in most cases kept, while the addition of adulterating ingredients,—the ashes of opium already smoked, molasses, etc.,increases the difficulty of arriving at an accurate result. I may add, too, that even where opium is boiled in any quantity by the large dealers and sold in its prepared state, it is often, for the sake of mixing with the sound, some damaged drug difficult otherwise to dispose of; and the different qualities, especially with the Persian druç, give different results." Here the cause is traced to extensive adulteration with non-opium articles, inferior sorts, or opium-ashes. These inferior sorts, including the Persian and native Chinese used for purposes of adulteration, themselves differ also widely. The Canton mem dum contains a note on the same subject. “The quantity of prepared opium yielded by any given weight of unprepared drug depends very much upon the experience and skill of the operator by whom the process of preparation is conducted, and the result will in any case be a greater or less quantity in proportion to the age of the article, the prepared produce of new opium being almost 10 per cent higher than that of old. The figures which appear under this heading in the Return are what are considered to be the average results obtained. Malwa and Persian yield in preparation almost equally, and much more fruitfully than Patna and Benares, the thickness of the skin which envelopes each ball of the latter two kinds widening considerably the proportion · between the weight yielded by manufacture for smoking and the gross
weight of the article, in its crude state. The quality of native opium, and consequently, its yield in preparation vary according to the situation of the producing district; the many impurities in the article, too, owing to defects in primary manufactures, tend to decrease its value and make it compare unfavourably with that imported from India." The Amoy Return says “The process of inspissation is attended during hot weather, as compared with cold, by a loss of at least 5 per cent. .
The above are the only Returns throwing any light on this question. Whether it is altogether satisfactory, is for the reader to judge. We should suppose that the Indian sorts, and especially the Bengal monopoly opium, manufactured by the British Government, would have given more uniform results. We were prepared to believe that the British Government was a monopoliser, but not an adulterator at the same time. We should suppose the large boiling houses at Hongkong, Macao, Canton, Shanghai, etc., had sufficient experience and skill to turn out a pretty uniform article. In the Kiukiang Return, a most admirable, and carefully, and trustworthily drawn up memorandum accompanying it, gives us the loss per cent down even to sixteenths of a catty for the five sorts, while the Amoy Return ranges them between 50 and 90. The native enquirer at Wenchow gives the yield of Malwa at 70 per cent.; a foreign employé at the same place, at from 50 to 70. The former figure alone is adopted in the tabulated statement. The Patna is given from 50 to 55; the higher figure only is given in the tabular form. We have taken the pains to make the necessary calculations of the yield for the various sorts; at the different ports, throwing off the Kiukiang sixteenths, and take the average of the Amoy returns, and we find the figures stand as follows:-Malva ranges from 20 to 30 per cent of loss, the average making 26 per cent; Patna from 40 to 50, giving 47 as an average; Benares from 25 to 60, with an average of 46 p.c.; Persian ranges from 23 to 50, the average being 37; the native Chinese opium ranges from 12 to 50 with an average of 32. Some of these figures are rather astounding, and lead one to suspect that there must be some error. Surely such great differences do not really exist. Malwa preserves the most regular percentage. The Newchwang, Hankow, Tamsui and Takow Returns make the loss reach only 20 p.c.; Tientsin, Chefoo, Shanghai, Wenchow, Foochow and Canton, give 30 p.c.; Ichang, Wuhu, Chinkiang, and Ningpo make it 25 p.c., and the other ports are intermediate. Kiukiang is, as already said, the most precise, giving sixteenths of a catty; Amoy the vaguest, ranging from 50 to 80. Patna ranges from 40 to 50 p.c.
of loss giving 47 as the average. Ichang gives the lowest percentage of loss; the others preserve a pretty uniform rate. Benares ranges from