Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

in such small quantities not exceeding 200 chests in any year as to lead us to believe, in the known absence of the native cultivation and the general vice of opium smoking, that it was for the most part of legitimate medical use. Sir Rutherford himself tell us that in 1781, the trade was so insignificant that 1,600 chests could not be sold, and he rightly argues “ that if the Chinese had any acquaintance with opium otherwise than as a medicine, they did not derive their supplies from abroad.” Finding himself in a difficulty here, that the British had actually created a vice, or at least had pandered to a vice just then springing up and had stimulated it from that time onwards by every effort in their power, he therefore quotes Dr. Williams as supposing the poppy to be indigenous from the description given of it in the Chinese Herbal, and therefore thinks he is clearly entitled to infer that it was well known at this period and in common use otherwise than as a medicine. Dr. Williams, a learned sinologue and a resident of forty years in China, at the same time doubts whether the Chinese had long known opium, eren as a medicine. Now it can be shown incontestably that the poppy is not indigenous to China, that it was not well known two centuries ago, and that it was not in common use otherwise than as a medicine up almost to the end of last century. Then follows the stock quotation from the Hankow Customs' Report of 1868 about opium being a common product of a prefecture in Yünnan in 1736. My friend Dr. Bretschneider, a well-known botanist, who has, at my request, examined this point, finds that the paparer rhoeas—the corn poppy-is placed among the cultivated garden flowers; and that under a class called "curious productions” and bracketed with four other substances, not one of which is indigenous to China, and all of which must have come from India, in the prefecture of Yungchangfu, he finds ha-fu-yung, and added in small characters, as if to explain to the reader-this is opium. Nothing is said in the description of Yünnan about the cultivation of opium. Sir Rutherford then goes on to tell us what the Chinese have been doing since the end of last century, in the production of native opium. He assumes the Imperial Edicts and proclamations of local authorities as indisputable evidence of the poppy culture in China. He tells us that it is commonly assumed that all these edicts were solely directed against the importation of foreign opium and all who consumed it. But many of them are directed against the Emperor's own subjects for growing the poppy against his reiterated commands. And then without however proving this point he goes on to quote Mr. Watters' evidence in support of the general prevalence of opium cultivation by the Chinese. In 1865 this consular officer was led to the conclusion that opium smoking bad existed for centuries. Not a particle of proof is vouchsafed for the sweeping statement. The only sort of evidence the writer adduces is Mr. Watters' statement that Indian opium in 1865 does not pass higher up the Yangtsze than Hankow and is not imported by any channel into the Western provinces. What is consumed in the West is locally produced : Indian opium is only consumed, as a rule, in the provinces, in which the Treaty ports are situated. And yet in the Delegates' Report it is said that prepared opium to the extent of from 70 to 80,000 taels' worth is annually smuggled as a luxury into Chungk'ing by Cantonese. Cooper, the traveller, too misunderstood completely how the Nepaulese failed to dispose of the Indian drug in Szechuen at a cheaper rate than the native. I have discussed this point in my article on the History of Opium-smoking in China. As a statement of the present condition of the trade, no one will deny the general correctness of Mr. Watters' facts, but it does not hold good in a past review of the case. All the evidence we have collected from Chinese books, travellers, missionaries, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, Chinese residents of the provinces and the only two British officials who have as yet resided in Szechuen, is to the effect that the growth of the poppy there is not yet forty years old. The evidence on the other side is supplied by Watters, T. T. Cooper and Winchester. Cooper however tells us that the R.C. inissionaries in the West told him that when they came as young men to the province, the poppy was not cultivated.

And yet notwithstanding this overwhelming evidence, he believes it was grown for at least two centuries! The Delegates' too give the story of its recent introduction from Canton, and of the Indian drug which supplied the West, before the native drug was begun to be grown. The Times' Shanghai correspondent lately quoted Mr. Watters, and the evidence was triumphantly paraded in Parliament by Lord Hartington, that not only had opium-smoking (and by inference the cultivation of the poppy) been known and practised for centuries in Szechuen, but that among the family sacra burned to the dead or placed in the coffin after death, was a complete set of opium-smoking apparatus. Now this is too much for one's gravity. The origin of the native growth and the practice of smoking being so recent, any such practice as is here referred to must, also, of necessity, be recent. And so we find it. And it is not at all remarkable, but consistent with Chinese ideas. What a man has been accustomed to in this life, he must needs also require in the other world. What if the insatiable craving should attack the spirit and there be nothing to gratify it? He is supplied with gold, silver, precious stones, tea, a new suit of clothes, his official button, why should he not have his opium pipe, if he has been a confirmed smoker? This practice has come into vogue in other parts of China within the past few years. I have heard of it in Shantung and Canton and I believe it must exist elsewhere.

Sir Rutherford makes much of his statement that the West does not consume any Indian opium and that the people there form a large proportion of the Chinese opium-smokers, and that they are to this day practically unacquainted with foreign opium. Having pointed out the error of such statements, it is only necessary in addition to say that the rapid growth of the poppy is the direct result of our trade. Our traffic has been the cause of the development of the native growth, and thus it comes now that the native growth is pleaded as a justification of our traffic. The Times lately, in speaking of the Burman opium evils introduced by us, honestly takes blame to ourselves for it, but said China growing her own poppy was on a different footing. The time was forty years ago when the conditions in China were precisely the same as Burmah at the present day. Sir Rutherford adopts the same line of argument: “The Chinese alone were and are responsible for all the Western and Southern provinces, exceeding to all appearance, in area of cultivation and amount of produce, the land so employed in India and all the foreign opium imported.".

The charge is brought against Li Hung-chang and his brother Li Han-chang of openly encouraging and profiting by the native culture of opium. It has never been denied that the brothers Li were inclined to promote or at least wink at the native cultivation of the poppy, for the well understood reason as stated to me at the time, now many years ago, by one of the leading foreign officials in China, to whom the Viceroy had said it—that being unable to prevent the Indian import and wipe out the evil inflicted upon China, he had thought of the plan of ousting the foreign article, without rupturing foreign relations, and that when the Indian was driven from the market, the native would be prohibited. A similar course was shadowed forth in Prince Kung's celebrated despatch to Sir Rutherford, which Sir R. has himself referred to in his evidence before the E.I. Finance Committee, No. 5696. And there is no one who will deny but that this course may yet succeed and one that the Chinese are keeping steadily before their eyes, should every other plan fail, and instead of the fact of the extensive native cultivation being used as an argument why we should not desist from the trade, and as proof of the insincerity of Chinese protestations and the futility of Imperial edicts, we think the native growth tells very strongly in the other and opposite direction. The native growth has already affected the foreign drug at several ports. If the Dutch in view of an invasion by a foreign power, whom they were unable to wear or drive out, were to flood their country, and, after the departure of the enemy, to set their windmills to work to pump out the water, what should we say of their patriotism, sincerity and power? What motive lead the Russians to burn Moscow ? In China why are houses pulled down to prevent a conflagration spreading ?

Sir Rutherford expresses himself very strongly when he says that “neither before Lin's high handed proceedings at Canton in 1839, the one solitary instance of decided action before or since that period, nor subsequent to the Treaty of Nanking, has any Chinese authority attempted to give effect to the successive edicts prohibiting the import of opium by foreigners and the culture of the poppy by the natives on Chinese soil.” I think we have said enough to prove both points, and the native growth at least subsequent to 1839. Our Blue Books are full of Edicts and so are the Peking Gazettes ; Consular and Customs' reports continually refer to them, and they have not been dead letters, as is evidenced by the marked increase of the demand for the foreign drug after every edict; the executions, transportations, confiscations and punishments of offenders; the plucking up by the roots of the poppy in Shansi, Szechuen and elsewhere times and again, and some so late as three years ago. Opium-smoking servants of foreigners iq Peking, have within the last few years, within my own knowledge, been seized at these smoking-rooms and imprisoned, the keepers of the shops fined, their goods confiscated and they themselves banished. One of the seven charges brought against the late Governor-General of Nanking last year, and which caused his dismissal was opium-smoking. That nothing has been done with the Indian drug since 1839, I candidly confess, beyond hurling edicts against the vice, but this is easily explained. China was then taught a severe lesson for meddling with the contraband trade of British merchants, although Lord Palmerston told Capt. Elliot that“H.M.'s Government could not interfere for the purpose of enabling British subjects to violate the laws of the country to which they trade. And she has not dared to touch it since. What is it that has paralysed the Government and stimulated the native growth, but the legalization of the Indian drug. The great bulk of the native growth dates from this period. And so long as Chiva is obliged to admit the foreign opium, can she with any face before her own subjects, carry out her edicts? The people say "Our Emperor draws a revenue from the foreign drug, he cannot stop it, why should we be debarred from growing it too and reaping some of the high profits ? Must all our silver go to the foreigners ?”

One of the very strangest sentences in the article under review is that in which it is said that the “ Chinese have no justification for charging the British or Indian Government with having imposed upon them by force and against their will, a pernicious drug and an injurious trade. They have been consenting parties and participators in the trade and in its profits from the first day to the last.” Is the Chefoo convention yet ratified? Why was the Alcock convention not signed ? Why are the Chinese not allowed to put what amount of duty they please upon opium at the Treaty ports and to have the whole of their duties collected at the port of import by their own foreign Customs' service? The answer to these three simple questions, not to refer to any other, will provide the answer to Sir Rutherford's first charge of the non-employment of force. The second indictment, that they have been consenting parties and participators in the trade and its profits from first to last, belies all the history of our relations for the past hundred years, and is a most sweeping and unguarded statement. It leaves out of sight the wars, the bloodshed, the indemnities, the humiliations and so on. What Sir Rutherford has in his mind's eye, is probably the complicity of some of the Chinese officials at Canton in the contraband transactions, which was notorious and afforded the commonest excuse of the advocates of the trade. The sincerity of the supreme Government of China and of the great bulk of the people in their disapproval of the opium traffic has never been questioned. The best reply to a charge of this sort is that of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, “as if it would justify a burglar who had broken into one's house, to say he was in league with the footman." The local authorities found themselves unable to dislodge the intruders, even when inclined to do 80; the opium smuggling vessels were anchored at the outside limit of the ports and were heavily armed, and thus the officials easily fell into the habit of winking at the trade for a pecuniary consideration.

Sir Rutherford never loses an opportunity of giving us the wellworn argument that every nation yet discovered possesses some stimulant and parcotic; that the Chinese take to opium as European nations take to one form or other of alcohol, forgetting that the opium has not supplanted any stimulant in China but added to those that were already in existence, and that the opium consumer ought not to be compared with the moderate drinker. This argument has been again and again presented by the advocates of the opium trade and by the public prints, and it is astonishing with what effrontery. It is one of the flimsiest of arguments and carries weight solely on account of the ignorance of the home public in the matter of opium, or of our own demoralising drinking habits to which opium is so often compared, and the inference follows that as we cannot put down our own vicious indulgences, it is vain to think of attacking an evil thousands of miles distant. The ordinary reader at home fails to see the fallacies lurking in such a statement. We have already pointed out two, viz., that the use of opium is not a substitute for drink or any other stimulant, but is superadded to the wine, beer, spirits and tea already in existence. The Chinese drink huge quantities of tea, which is of a far more stimulating character than that exported. The use of tobacco has, during the last 300 years, become almost universal, and some varieties of it are said to be mixed with arsenic, poppy leaves, saturated with opium juice, etc. . Samshoo, a coarse spirit, containing much fusel oil, is largely drunk all over the empire by the middle and lower classes and yet drunkenness is almost unknown. The Chinese are perhaps the soberest nation on the globe. Wine, or more properly. a fermented beer—a beverage resembling our sherry—is extensively drunk among the higher classes. A double tyranny is thus established as between opium and drink, not to mention the other stimulants. The second fallacy is like unto the first, viz., that the opium consumer and the moderate drinker stand on the same platform. Opium, by the vast majority who use it, is simply and confessedly an indulgence and one which passes quickly from the place of servant to that of master. Once the habit is formed, the opium-smoker may be said to have passed out of the ranks of the moderate class into that of the drunkard, with which he ought more fairly to be compared. What would be said of a man at home to whom his morning and evening glass was indispensable; who could not do without it; who carried the indulgence to excess in the course of a comparatively brief period and whom it seriously affected morally, physically and financially? Another fallacy in such a comparison lies in supposing that drink and opium stand in the same category in relation to the state and the individual. In England the moderate use of stimulants is approved and partaken of by the great body of the people; in China there is but one opinion among all classes, the smokers themselves included, as to the deleterious nature of the habit. As Sir Rutherford himself says, “every smoker looks upon himself as morally criminal.” Prof. Legge says, “I have heard foreigners try to defend or palliate the habit, but I never heard a Chinese do so.” This is the experience of every one who has mixed much with the people. This is its relation to the individual. Its relation to the State is also different from drink at home. Severe punishments for cultivating, selling and smoking the drug stand to this day on the statute book of China, and

« AnkstesnisTęsti »