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I myself have had frequent opportunities of seeing them carried out. Drink occupies no such place in the West. Drink is manufactured, sold, drunk and the government realises from it a handsome yearly income. Opium is imported from abroad (here we do not notice the native growth which has arisen out of it), sold and consumed, and a foreign State derives such a sum from it yearly, that the financial stability of that State is dependent upon this source of revenue. The Christian Government is content to go on drawing its enormous annual revenue from the vice and misery of its own people; the heathen Government refuses to do do this; the former cannot pass a permissive or prohibitive bill by reason of internal opposition; the latter cannot do the same by virtue of the application of external force. In the one case drink must stand or fall by the will of the majority of the nation; in the other it is forced upon her by a foreign power; and according to Sir Rutherford "could only be excluded on the same principle as that on which Prince Gortchakoff declared that Russia would not submit to the continued neutralization of the Black Sea; that is, they must be prepared to fight for it.” China is not her own mistress to prohibit or raise its taxation. In view of such points as these, is it fair to go on using such arguments. It is distressing to see the leading English journal lend itself to such reasoning, and hitherto it has refused to admit anything on the other side. If an M.D. and a newly created knight choses to write the most preposterous things regarding the innocuousness of opium, the columns of this daily paper are freely thrown open to him.
But even supposing opium-smoking were no worse than gin-drinking, is the perpetration of one offence to be the palliation for another. Are we come to such a pass that we require to measure crime by crime ?
Another fallacious argument employed by Sir Rutherford and other writers is, that if we do not supply the Chinese with opium other nations will, and better have our good opium than their bad. The latter is a favourite way of putting it by Sir George Campbell; that is, injury will be committed, and if not done by us, others will or may probably perpetrate the crime and receive its hireling reward. And this is the justification of professing Christians towards the end of the nineteenth century. Infinitely better to abjure the name of Christianity and call ourselves heathen. Heathen morality teaches them not to do to others what they would not have others do to them. Sir Rutherford instances Turkey, Persia, Egypt, Mozambique, Malwa, and many other foreign sources. China may safely be left to deal with the non-treaty opium producing countries. She is now arranging all her new treaties as they are made or fall to be revised, so that these countries shall not be at liberty to engage in the opium trade. Not only is the native production stimulated by the Indian growth, but so also is the growth in these other countries and its import into China. Once opium ceases to reach China under the British flag, philanthropists and pro-opium advocates may rest assured that all trade in opium with these small countries will soon cease.
China I believe will be prepared to give substantial pledges and commercial advantages as à quid pro quo for the entire cessation of the opium
Some such plan of mutual repression extending over a few years with mutual guarantees, with suitable penalties annexed, would no doubt be acceptable to the Chinese and would be accepted as a proof of our sincerity.
It used to be very common to hear it said that if our government stopped the growth in Bengal, it would still be carried on in the native states. And this argument is reiterated. It was instanced in the late lecture at the Society of Arts. When reasons are wanted to satisfy our consciences in any questionable procedure in which we are interested, we do not require to seek far for arguments to support such a cause. As Sir Rutherford quotes so good an authority as the late Rev. Dr. Medhurst in regard to the exaggeration of the mortality from the vice, it may be as well to hear him also on the growth in the native states of India from the same able paper, prepared at the instance of Sir John Bowring in 1855. In substance he tells us that the E.I.C. contracted burdensome treaties with the Rajpoot States to introduce and extend the poppy cultivation. The greatly extended cultivation of the opiuin in Malwa was the result of the direct interference of the company; and we derived benefit from this extension and on the annexation of Scinde in 1845, we raised the rate from 125 rupees to 200, then to 300 and in 1846, to 400 per chest. This use to which the acquisition of Scinde was applied is rarely adverted to. It prevented the Malwa from finding its way to the two Portuguese ports of Damaun and Diu. On every chest, the company make as much out of Malwa as out of Bengal. It is preposterous to say that we have nothing to do with Malwa. The power that can levy so many rupees per chest can increase that rate or prohibit it altogether. We are therefore responsible for the introduction of both into the Chinese market.
Sir Rutherford seems to doubt the power of one or even of both Governments united to put an end to the trade and prevent the culture of the poppy in their respective dominions. He denies to the Chinese Government both the power and the will to stop it. He throws grave doubts upon their sincerity, but in his evidence before the E.I. Finance Committee, he stated his belief that the Chinese were perfectly sincere in their desire to put an end to the consumption of opium. Now he admits merely hearty sincerity in condemnation of the habit as prolific of evil. I do not think the British Government or public is prepared to believe that they cannot put down the cultivation of opium in India, and I know that the power of the Chinese Government in its own territories is much greater than British power in India. With the Emperor nothing is impossible. Let the heads of one or two Governors or Cabinet ministers fall and opium cultivation ceases. When the time comes for the Emperor of China to issue an edict to stop the growth, all China will know that he is in earnest and that he means what he says. The system of Government in China is such that there is a power connecting the chief authority with the meanest subject, both legally, morally, and above all administratively, that edicts can, if desired, be carried out most thoroughly.
I think the language used as “to perfect freedom and open encouragement of the poppy culture all over Western China," without
any limit as to time and to the frequent and so far successful edicts hurled against it, is strong language and calculated to mislead. "Other witnesses attest in like manner that there is no obstacle whatever to the cultivation of opium throughout the length and breadth of the land." This is unjustifiably strong language and is not borne out by the facts of the case.
Again we are told "the Chinese knew nothing of international law and treated every foreigner with profound contempt. We knew this law and a higher law too, but we acted up to neither and treated the Chinese as semi-barbarians towards whom it was not necessary to observe the ordinary rules of justice and law. It looks ridiculous to speak of the Chinese ignorance of international law when we ourselves in our contraband trade set all laws of God and man-of China and our own country-at defiance, for the sake of the filthy lucre which accrued to us. I know one foreigner in the early part of his career in China, who was inclined to resent the opprobious epithet so frequently flung at foreigners by the Chinese, but who after becoming acquainted with our opium relations and the wars flowing therefrom, resolved no longer to resent the language of disrespect but to admit, that from their standpoint, if not our own, we were entitled to the designation— foreign devils.
Sir Rutherford believes "opium exercises some salutary influence and is not simply noxious and destructive." Its beneficial effects are very short-lived and are only experienced during the first few months or years while the habit is in the act of forming. After its formation opium is only evil and that continually, in every respect. The writer thinks it "is only destructive to those who take it to excess and these are not the many but the few, formerly but a small percentage on the whole." There is I admit a movable 20 per cent., which cannot be said to derive very much evil beyond squandering time and money and shewing a bad example; but this percentage is never stationary; it is on the one hand being continually recruited by young smokers and on the other hand, its members are perpetually dropping into the class of confirmed sots. The time taken to pass through this territory of comparative innocuousness-i.e. palpable to the public eye, for secretly it wastes some of the powers of nature long before that-is undefined and depends on a large number of circumstances; it may range from a few months to one or two years and in a few cases to ten and sometimes twenty years. But the result is inevitably the same, physical, moral and financial ruin. As a cause of crime opium is we admit publicly less dangerous than intoxicating liquors. But there is nevertheless a vast amount of crime perpetrated to obtain opium, more than most foreigners have any conception of. I have been struck too, with the number of suicides in China from opium poisoning. Formerly it was not such an easy thing to take away life; now deaths by opium poisoning are lamentably frequent all over the Empire.
Sir Rutherford makes another assertion which he would find hard to substantiate, viz., that the use of opium has been general amongst Asiatic nations as a stimulant and narcotic from a time unknown and in one form or another as beer, wine, spirits by Europeans." Its use
in China, first as a medicine and then as a luxury, are well-known. The first Chinese author who mentions opium takes us back to the end of the 15th century and its use as a luxury began with the present century. There was a little smoked in the South during the previous century as far back at 1730 if not earlier. The earliest mention of it as a drug of India is by Babasa in 1511; and according to the late Dr. Wilson of Bombay, an acknowledged Indian authority, whose evidence stands side by side with Sir Rutherford's, in the E.I. Finance Committee says-No. 7350:-“Do you know when the poppy or the use of opium was introduced into any part of India? I should say speaking generally, within a century. Perhaps the Mahommedan Princes of Delhi knew of it and used it; no doubt the doctors knew of it, but it never came into common use to any great extent till within the last 100 years.'
The above evidence is sufficient to refute the statement therefore that it was a common stimulant and narcotic from time immemorial.
Sir Rutherford tells us that the legalisation of the opium still left the Chinese—the moment the drug passed into the interior—free to tax it as they chose. The treaty of Tientsin did not touch this unrestricted power of taxation. By removing it from the list of prohibited articles, it took away the right of the Chinese to seize and confiscate both ships and goods engaged in the traffic. If it were simply to secure us against seizure and confiscation, why limit the import duty to Tls. 30, and why object now to the increase ? Why object to the Chinese wishing to collect their lekin tax, within the port, at the same time as the import duty ? In other words why is the Chefoo convention not ratified? It is but natural and right that the Chinese should wish to collect all their customs duties at the port of import. The area of distribution is too large and a class of foreigners are ever anxious to assist the Chinese to evade the lekin. It will be found that the reason for the non-ratification of the Chefoo convention, is fear that the Indian revenue might be seriously affected, and here the little word force crops up again uncomfortably.
Sir Rutherford does not believe that one ounce the less would be smoked by the stoppage of the Indian. The chief authorities tell us, that if the Indian were stopped, China must stop hers. She will have “no face,” as the Chinese express it, were she not to do so. At present we have no face in the matter of opium. “If our friends should do 80 much for us”-said one official to me, “think you, we shall do nothing for ourselves. We should be obliged to act—face is all im
portant.” If we stop the Indian, China will certainly stop hers. This is the unreserved expression of opinion and it is always the same, from many of the leading Chinese minds at Peking. They say the Emperor will never touch the opium question again at the risk of a war with England. The Emperor tried it before and was defeated, and demoralization and disorganisation was the result. China believes that England is not sincere in her attachment, and hence the greater confidence always reposed in the United States and Germany. They hear a good deal of a desire on the part of some to stop the Indian growth, the Chinese heliere it is intended merely to deceive and so induce the Empire to stop the Chinese growth and thus add to the foreign gains. They have not the slightest faith in our good promises or good feelings towards them. How can they, from a review of our past relations with them? If she could bring herself to believe that this is not a blind, China would no doubt be willing to enter into arrangements so as to give us some guarantee of her good faith, and no doubt also we should have greatly extended commercial privileges, and what India lost Great Britain would gain. If we should stop ours, we need not be scared with Turkey, Persia and Egypt. These countries have no treaties and although they import the drug at present-I presume under our flagthey will then receive but scant consideration. By mutual evidences of sincerity and a mutual and gradual withdrawal from the cultivation an untold boon would be conferred on millions of the race and the cause of civilization.
P.S.—The Times, as the leading journal in Great Britain, has miserably failed at the present time to grasp and represent the opium question in its true light. In this matter, as in others, it has been quite at sea and instead of leading public opinion it has had to follow at an immense distance. Its standard of morality and Christian principle are very low for an influential English journal
. As its name implies it sails with the times and sooner or later it will require to tack to catch the rising breeze. To talk so ignorantly and superficially of opium being to China what beer spirits tobacco, tea and coffee are to us is, as a Consul said in relation to opium "perilously like nonsense.” It understands forcing opium only in the sense of holding a man's nose and pouring the substance down his throat. It never dreams of allow- . ing the Chinese to do what they like in the way of taxing it the moment it reaches her shores as any sovereign power ought to be able to do. It does not reflect that every chest of opium introduced from 1793, if not from 1782, to 1860 was in deliberate defiance of the Chinese Government. Some of its other crudities are answered in the present paper-particularly its statement that Indian opium fails to penetrate at all into one half of the Empire and that the drug satisfies a felt want of some hundreds of millions of the human race. These statements have unfortunately nothing but the “rhetorical flourishes" for a foundation. Where are the hundreds of millions that have their felt want of a nervous stimulant satisfied with opium? But grant the deep-seated craving of humanity for some stimulant, have the Chinese not already the means of satisfying it to the full measure in one or other by the many substitutes which the Times mentions as taking the place of opium in the West. Dr. Birdwood makes the pleasure consist not so much in the narcotic drug as in the smoking, and anything else would gradually become just as popular. Where then is the natural craving for a stimulant, when at best it is but a mere idle and expensive child's toy? And Birdwood writes thus in the Times !