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Title: The Truth about Opium

Author: William H. Brereton

Release date: October 26, 2013 [eBook #44043]
Most recently updated: January 25, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive/American














Let truth and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put
to the worse in a free and open encounter?
”—John Milton.






(All rights reserved.)






[Pg iii]


In the preface to my first edition I expressed a hope that these lectures, however imperfect, would prove in some degree instrumental towards breaking up the Anti-Opium confederacy, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that my anticipations have not been altogether disappointed. The lectures were well received by the public and the press, and struck the Anti-Opium Society and its versatile Secretary, the Rev. Mr. Storrs Turner, with such consternation that, in the language of people in difficulties, “business was discontinued until further notice.” Mr. Storrs Turner,—the motive power which kept the Anti-Opium machine working,—who had hitherto been so active, aggressive, and demonstrative—a very Mercutio in volubility and fertility of resource,—became suddenly silent, mute as the harp on Tara’s walls. He who once was resonant as the lion, like Bottom the Weaver, moderated his tone, and roared from thenceforth “gently as any sucking dove.” Until the delivery of my lectures, no lark at early morn was half so lively or jubilant. Letters to the newspapers, articles in magazines, improvised lectures and speeches, flew from him like chaff from the winnowing-machine. Heaven help the unlucky individual who had the temerity to differ from him on the opium question, for Mr. Storrs Turner would, as the phrase goes, “come down upon him sharp.”

This kind of light skirmishing suited him exactly; it kept[Pg iv] alive public interest in the Anti-Opium delusion, and no doubt brought grist to the mill, without committing him to anything in particular, or calling for any extraordinary draft upon his imagination or resources. He had only to reiterate loud enough the cuckoo cry that his deluded followers had so long recognised as the pæan of victory. But when my lectures were delivered, and it was announced that they would be published, “a change came o’er the spirit of his dream.” Having for so many years had practically all the field to himself, it had never occurred to him that another and more competent witness from China, where all these imaginary evils from opium smoking were alleged to be taking place,—who had had better opportunities of learning the truth about opium than he could possibly have had, and who had turned those opportunities to good account,—should appear and refute his fallacies. This was a dénouement that neither he nor his Society was prepared for, and dismay and silence prevailed in consequence in the enemy’s camp.

And the tents were all silent,—the banners unflown,—
The lances unlifted,—the trumpet unblown.

My lectures were delivered in February, 1882. The Rev. Mr. Storrs Turner attended them and corresponded with me upon the subject. In those lectures I criticized his book and pointed out its misleading features and inaccuracies; but, recognizing the force of Sir John Falstaff’s maxim, that “the better part of valour is discretion,” he never attempted to controvert my case, nor justify himself or the Anti-Opium Society, who for so many years had made such noise in the world. It was only in October, 1882,—eight months after my lectures had been delivered,—after an article appeared in the London and China Telegraph, commenting on the collapse of the Anti-Opium Society,—that Mr. Storrs Turner, like Munchausen’s remarkable hunting-horn, gave utterance to a few feeble notes, to the effect that his Society was still alive; for he well knew that all that I[Pg v] had stated in those lectures I could prove to the hilt,—aye, ten times over.

But if Mr. Storrs Turner has declined the contest, an acolyte of his, Mr. B. Broomhall,—who appears to be the Secretary of the Inland China Mission, and one of the “Executive Committee” of the Anti-Opium Society,—comes upon the scene like King Hamlet’s ghost, declaring that he “could a tale unfold, whose lightest breath would harrow up your souls, freeze the hot blood, and make each particular hair to stand on end.” Plagiarising, if not pirating, my title, with a colourable addition of the word “Smoking,” he produces, in November 1882, a compilation entitled “The Truth about Opium-Smoking,” rather a thick pamphlet, made up of excerpts from all the writings and speeches, good, bad, and indifferent, that have been published and delivered within the last thirty years on the Anti-Opium side of the question, with some critical matter of his own, from all of which it appears most conclusively that he, Mr. B. Broomhall, is perfectly innocent of the subject he undertakes to enlighten the world upon. I think I see through this gentleman and his objects pretty well. With respect to the authors of these writings and speeches, I may say at once that I hold them in as much respect as Mr. B. Broomhall does himself. Some of them are very eminent men, who, apart from this opium delusion, are ornaments to their country, and all, I have no doubt, are men of spotless honour and integrity; but what, after all, does that prove? Why, simply the bona fides of these gentlemen, which no one ever questioned, and nothing more;—that in writing those pamphlets and articles they honestly believed they were giving utterance to facts and recording circumstances which were true, and which it was for the good of society should be widely known. The good and just man is as liable to be deceived as he who is less perfect,—indeed, more so, for his very amiability and guilelessness of heart allay suspicion and make him an easier prey to the designing and unscrupulous. Not one of those[Pg vi] gentlemen, save Sir Rutherford Alcock, and one or two others, whose opinions are coincident, in fact, with my own, have had any actual personal knowledge of the facts they write about, and such a statement as the following might well be printed in the front of each of their books or writings, viz.: “I have read certain books and articles in newspapers, and heard speeches upon the opium question, which I believe to be true, and on such assumption the following pages are my views upon the subject.” To prove to my readers the utterly unreliable and deceptive character of Mr. Broomhall’s compilation, it is only necessary to refer to one passage, which will be found at page 122, where it is gravely put forward THAT THE INDIAN MUTINY WAS BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE INDO-CHINA OPIUM TRADE! After that, Tenterden Steeple and the Goodwin Sands will hardly seem so disconnected as has been hitherto commonly supposed. But then the book is illustrated; there are the pictures copied from the Graphic. There is the poppy, and there is the opium pipe. Of course Mr. B. Broomhall knows all about opium smoking,—or the illustrations would not be there. Mr. Crummles, with his “splendid tub and real pump,” could not have done better.

As to Mr. B. Broomhall’s remarks respecting my book I have very little to say; there is nothing in them. Like Mr. Storrs Turner, he has found it a poser, and has said very little respecting it. When your opponent gets the worst of an argument, if he does not honestly acknowledge his discomfiture, he generally follows one of two courses—either he loses his temper and takes to scolding, or he suddenly discovers something wonderfully funny in your arguments which no one else was able to detect. Mr. B. Broomhall eschews the former, but adopts the latter course. He selects a paragraph or two, and says, “That is ludicrous,” but he never condescends to enlighten his readers as to where the fun lies, or in what the drollery consists.

But, although Mr. B. Broomhall makes light of my book, he has thought proper to imitate its title. He evidently[Pg vii] thought there was nothing ludicrous in that. This was very “smart,” but smartness is a quality not much appreciated on this side of the Atlantic. As my book had dealt a heavy blow to the Anti-Opium Society, and a cheap edition might prove still more damaging, an opposition book, with a similar title, might so confuse the public as to be mistaken for mine. Imitation has been said to be the sincerest flattery, but I dislike adulation even when administered by the Anti-Opium Society. This gentleman and his compilation bring very forcibly to my mind the profound Mr. Pott, of the Eatanswill Gazette, who, having written a series of recondite articles on Chinese Metaphysics, brought his lucubrations to the notice of his friend, Mr. Pickwick. That gentleman ventured to remark that the subject seemed an abstruse one. “Very true,” returned Mr. Pott, with a smile of intellectual superiority, “but I crammed for it—I read up the subject in the Encyclopædia Britannica. I looked for metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter C, and combined the information.” This seems to be the sort of process by which Mr. B. Broomhall has arrived at his knowledge on the opium question, and with similar results. I do not wish to be too hard upon this gentleman, who, after all, may have been only a cat’s-paw in the matter—for it must not be forgotten that there is Mr. Storrs Turner in the background; but he himself, on reflection, must, I think, admit that it was going a little too far to introduce into his compilation a parody—which some might call a vulgar parody—on one of the verses of Bishop Heber’s very beautiful and world-renowned Missionary Hymn. I will not give my readers the “elegant extract,” but they can find it for themselves at page 117.

I have in this edition amplified the matter and given extracts from the Reports of Mr. William Donald Spence, Her Majesty’s Consul at Ichang, and Mr. E. Colborne Baber’s Travels and Researches in Western China, which throw a flood of light upon the opium question. I have also quoted from[Pg viii] a very valuable work of Don Sinibaldo de Mas, an accomplished Chinese scholar, formerly Spanish Minister to the Court of Peking, published in Paris in 1858, which in itself is a complete vindication of the opium policy of Her Majesty’s Government in India and China, and an able refutation of the unfounded views of the Anti-Opium Society; and I believe this edition of The Truth about Opium will be found a very complete defence of the Indo-China opium trade.

30th January 1883.



[Pg ix]


The following lectures were given in pursuance of a determination I came to some six years ago in Hong Kong, viz. that if I lived to return to England I should take some steps, either by public lectures or by the publication of a book, to expose the mischievous fallacies disseminated by the “Anglo-Oriental Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade.” About that time nearly every mail brought out newspapers to China containing reports of meetings held in England condemnatory of the Indo-China opium trade, at which resolutions were made containing the grossest mis-statements and exaggerations as to opium-smoking, and also the most unfounded charges against all parties engaged in the opium trade, showing clearly, to my mind, that not one of the speakers at those meetings really understood the subject he spoke about so fluently. I have now, happily, been able to carry out my intention. Unfortunately, I was deprived of the opportunity of delivering these lectures in Exeter Hall, which was not only more central than St. James’s Hall, but where I could have selected a more convenient hour for the purpose than the only time the Secretary of the latter Company could place at my disposal, the reason being that the Committee of Exeter Hall refused to allow me its use for the purpose of refuting the false and untenable allegations of the Anti-Opium Society, an act of[Pg x] intolerance which I think I am justified in exposing. I trust, however, that any drawback on this account will be compensated for by the publication of the lectures. I am well aware that this volume has many imperfections, but there is one respect in which I cannot reproach myself with having erred, and that is, in having overstepped the bounds of truth. I have the satisfaction of knowing that all I have stated in the lectures is substantially true and correct, and with such a consciousness I entertain a confident hope that they will prove in a humble way instrumental towards breaking up the Anti-Opium confederacy, the objects of which are as undeserving of support as they have proved mischievous in their tendency.



[Pg xi]


Objects of the Lectures.—Lectures based upon principle and not upon grounds of expediency.—Lecturer’s knowledge of the Opium question derived from actual acquaintance with the facts, acquired during nearly fifteen years’ residence in Hong Kong.—Opium smoking as practised by the Chinese perfectly innocuous, beneficial rather than injurious.—Opinion of Dr. Ayres.—Charges made by the Anti-Opium Society and its supporters false and unfounded.—Alleged knowledge of the members and supporters of the Anti-Opium Society founded on hearsay evidence of the worst and most untrustworthy character.—Lecturer not acting in the interests of the British merchants in China, nor of any other party or person.—Has no personal interest in the Opium question, and is actuated only by a desire to dispel the false and mischievous delusions spread abroad in England by the Anti-Opium Society.—British and other foreign residents in China hold opposite views to those disseminated by the Anti-Opium people.—British merchants as a body have no interest in the trade.—China a great Empire as large as Europe, with a much greater population.—Country and people of China described.—Impossible to demoralize and debase such a people.—Opium smoking a general custom throughout the eighteen provinces of China.—Reasons for the prolonged existence of the Anti-Opium Society.—False charges of the Anti-Opium Society respecting the Indo-China Opium trade more fully formulated.—Petition to the House of Commons of the Protestant Missionaries at Peking.—Refusal to sign it of the Rev. F. Galpin.—If half those charges were true the British residents in China would be the first to raise[Pg xii] their voices against the Opium trade.—Official Yellow Book published by Sir Robert Hart, the Inspector-General of Chinese Customs, negatives the allegations of the members of the Anti-Opium Society and the Protestant Missionaries.—Roman Catholic Missionaries make no complaint against the Indo-China Opium trade.—Allegations of the Anti-Opium Society that British trade with China has suffered from the alleged forcing of Opium upon China untrue.—Friendly relations between the British merchants in China and the Chinese people.—Englishmen more esteemed by the Chinese than any other nation.—Hong Kong described.—Government of China described.—Hong Kong the head-quarters of the Indo-China Opium trade, Chinese residing there have better means of procuring the drug than elsewhere—no sufferers from Opium smoking found there.—Exposure by Dr. Ayres, the Colonial Surgeon of Hong Kong, of the fallacy that Opium smoking, although indulged in for years, cannot be dropped without injury to the system.—Fallacy of comparing the Chinese with the savages of Central Africa by the Secretary of the Anti-Opium Society exposed.—Archdeacon Gray, a resident for twenty years at Canton, silent, in his recent work on China and her people, as to the alleged iniquity of the Indo-China Opium trade.—Character of the Chinese as described by various authors.—Chinese a frugal and abstemious people.—Opium smoking less injurious than beer or tobacco.—Charges of the Anti-Opium Society based upon fallacies; those fallacies detailed.—Alleged objections of the Chinese to receive the Gospel on account of the Indo-China Opium trade the merest subterfuge, and utterly absurd and untenable.—The opinion of the late John Crawfurd, Esq., F.R.S., formerly Governor of the Straits Settlements.—His Dictionary of the Indian Islands and Adjacent countries.
Pages 1-49
Hearsay testimony upon which charges of the Anti-Opium Society founded explained.—Chinese a polite people and treat Missionaries courteously, but despise Christianity, and will not tell Missionaries the truth about Opium.—Respectable Chinese would become an object of scorn and disgrace to their fellow-countrymen if they embraced Christianity.—Professing Chinese Christians in most cases impostors.—Heathen Chinese as a rule more trustworthy[Pg xiii] than so-called Christian converts.—Missionary clergymen in China have not the confidence of the Chinese people, and draw their information as to Opium smoking from polluted sources.—Difference between Missionary clergymen in China and the clergymen of all denominations in England as regards knowledge of the people they live amongst.—Missionaries in China wholly responsible for the imposture prevailing in England as to Opium smoking in China.—Although the Chinese are a spirit-drinking people, they never drink to excess.—Drunkenness unknown amongst Chinese.—Chinese-American treaty a sham as regards Opium.—Sir J. H. Pease, M.P., duped by the “bogus” clause as to Opium.—His speech on the Opium question in 1881.—Chinese smoke Opium wherever they go.—As much Opium imported into China now as before the sham treaty.—Opium a luxury which only the well-to-do can freely indulge in.—Explanation of the means by which unfounded statements respecting Opium are propagated.—Apologue by way of example.—Proof of the state of things explained by the apologue furnished by the Rev. Storrs Turner and Dr. Ayres.—First fallacy, that the poppy is not indigenous to China, but has been recently introduced there, presumably by British agency, and the second fallacy, that Opium smoking in China is now and always has been confined to a small per-centage of the population, but which, owing to the importation into the country of Indian Opium, is rapidly increasing, refuted and the truth fully stated.—Testimony of Mr. W. Donald Spence and Mr. E. Colborne Baber, and Sir Rutherford Alcock.
Pages 50-100
Third and fifth fallacies upon which the members of the Anti-Opium Society and its supporters are misled.—Opium eating and Opium smoking contrasted with spirit drinking.—Valuable curative properties of Opium.—Spirit drinking produces organic and incurable diseases, is a fruitful cause of insanity, and leads to ruin and destruction.—The like effects admittedly not due to Opium.—Opium eating and Opium smoking totally distinct.—Whatever the effects of Opium eating, Opium smoking perfectly innocuous.—Anti-Opium advocates cunningly try to mix the two together.—Disingenuous conduct in this respect of the Rev. Storrs Turner—Mr. Turner so great an enthusiast as not to be able to see the difference.—Testimony of Dr. Eatwell as to the use of Opium.[Pg xiv]—Difference between Opium eating and Opium smoking explained in the case of tobacco smoking.—Tobacco taken internally a deadly poison, harmless when smoked.—Medical testimony as to the poisonous quality of tobacco and its alkaloid, nicotine.—Opium a valuable medicine, without any known substitute.—Anti-Tobacco Smoking Society, once formed the same as the Anti-Opium Society, put down by the common sense of the community, the like fate awaits the Anti-Opium Society.—Testimony of Dr. Sir George Birdwood, Surgeon-General Moore, Sir Benjamin Brodie, Dr. Ayres, and W. Brend, M.R.C.S., as to Opium.—Small quantity of Indian Opium imported into China.—Enormous amount of spirits consumed in the United Kingdom.—Anti-Opium Society blind to the latter, energetic as to the former a purely sentimental grievance.—Fallacy of Anti-Opium Society that supply creates demand refuted and exposed.—Remaining fallacies refuted.—Effects of suppression of Indo-China Opium trade.—Missionaries detested in China.—Indian Opium welcomed.—Saying of Prince Kung.—Treaty of Tientsin explained and defended.—Erroneous notions of the Protestant Missionaries as to that treaty.—Abused by Missionaries, yet the treaty the Missionaries only charter.—Testimony of H. N. Lay and Lawrence Olyphant.—Spurious copy of De Quincey’s “Confessions of an Opium Eater,” published by Anti-Opium people.—Testimony of Don Sinibaldo de Mas, formerly Spanish Minister in China, a powerful defence of the Indo-China Opium trade.—Policy of the Indian Government as regards Opium wisest and best.—Alleged proposal of Lord Lawrence to alter that policy.—Fallacy involved in such proposal exposed.—Abrogation of Indo-Opium trade injurious if not destructive to the spread of the Gospel in China.—False charge of smuggling by British merchants in China exposed and refuted.—Un-English policy of the Anti-Opium Society exposed.—Recapitulation.—Benevolence of the British public.—Necessity for seeing that it is not diverted into worthless channels.—Anti-Opium Society, mischievous, presenting a melancholy record of energies wasted, talents misapplied, wealth uselessly squandered, charity perverted, and philanthropy run mad.—Society should be dissolved and its funds transferred to Missionaries.—Missionaries should not mix up Christianity and Opium.—Missionaries defended and encouraged.
Pages 101-174
 [Pg xv]
Official Letter of Francis Bulkeley Johnson, Esq., of the firm of Jardine, Matheson & Co., of Hong Kong and China, Chairman of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce, to Charles Magniac, Esq., M.P., the President of the London Chamber of Commerce, respecting the charge of smuggling against the British merchants in China, and giving particulars of the Indo-China Opium trade.
Pages 177-183



[Pg 1]




The object of these lectures is to tell you what I know about opium smoking in China—a very important subject, involving the retention or loss of more than seven millions sterling to the revenue of India, and what is far more precious, the character and reputation of this great country. With respect to the former, I would simply observe that I do not intend to deal with the question on mere grounds of expediency, strong as such grounds unquestionably are, for, if I believed that one-half of what is asserted by the “Anglo-Oriental Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade,” as to the alleged baneful effects of opium smoking upon the Chinese, were true, I should be the first to raise my humble voice against the traffic, even though it involved the loss, not of seven millions sterling, but of seventy times seven. But it is because I know that these statements and all the grave charges made by the supporters of that society, and repeated from day to day, against the Government of India and the Government of this country, and also against the British merchants of China, to be not only gross exaggerations but absolutely untrue—mere shadowy figments, phantasies, and delusions—that I come forward to draw aside the curtain, and show you that behind these charges there is no substance. Were my knowledge of the opium question derived merely from books and[Pg 2] pamphlets, articles in the newspapers, and ordinary gossip, I would not venture to trespass upon your time and attention, because in that respect you have at your disposal the same means of information as I have myself. But I come before you with considerable personal experience, and special knowledge of the subject, having lived and practised as a solicitor for nearly fifteen years in Hong Kong, where I had daily experience, not only of the custom and effects of opium smoking, but also of the trade in opium in both its crude and prepared state. I had there the honour of being solicitor to the leading British and other foreign firms, as well as to the Chinese, from the wealthy merchant to the humble coolie; so that during the whole of that period down to the present time I have had intimate relations in China with foreigners and natives, especially with those engaged in the opium trade. Under these circumstances I had daily intercourse with the people from whom the best and most trustworthy information on the subject of opium and opium smoking could be obtained, and my experience is that opium smoking, as practised by the Chinese, is perfectly innocuous. This is a fact so patent that it forces itself upon the attention of every intelligent resident in China who has given ordinary attention to the subject. The whole question at issue is involved in this one point, for if I show you that opium smoking in China is as harmless, if, indeed, not more so, as beer drinking in England, as I promise you I shall do most conclusively, then cadit quæstio, there is nothing further in dispute; the Indo-Chinese opium trade will then stand out—as I say it does—free from objection upon moral, political, and social grounds, and the occupation of the Anti-Opium agitators, like Othello’s, will be gone. It is true that the opponents of the Indo-Chinese opium trade interlard their case with political matters wholly beside the question; this they do to make that question look a bigger one than it really is, so as to throw dust in the eyes of the public and impose upon weak minds. For instance, they drag in the miscalled “Opium War” and ring the changes upon it. That war, whether justifiable or not, cannot affect the points at issue. It is an accomplished fact, and it is idle now to introduce it into the present opium question. And though I shall be obliged to go pretty fully into the whole controversy, I ask you to keep your minds steadily fixed upon[Pg 3] the real question, which is briefly this: Is opium smoking, as practised in China, detrimental to health and morals, and if so, does the Indo-Chinese opium trade contribute to these results?

I may now at the outset assure you that I do not give expression to my views in the interests of the merchants of China, whether native or foreign, or on behalf of any party whatsoever; nor do I come before you with any personal object, because neither directly nor indirectly have I any pecuniary or personal concern in the opium question, nor, indeed, in any commercial matter in Hong Kong or China. I simply find that unfounded delusions have taken possession of the public mind upon the subject, which have had most mischievous consequences, and are still working much evil. These I wish to dispel, if I can. Furthermore, I have delivered and published these lectures at my own cost, unaided by any other person, so, I think, under these circumstances, that I have some right to be regarded as an impartial witness.

I am aware of no subject, involving only simple matters of fact, and outside the region of party politics, upon which so much discussion has been expended, and about which such widely different opinions are prevalent, as this opium question. On the one side, it is said that, for selfish purposes, we have forced and are still forcing opium upon the people of China; that the Indian Government, with the acquiescence and support of the Imperial Government, cultivates the drug for the purpose of adding seven or eight millions sterling to its revenue, and, with full knowledge of its alleged baneful consequences to the natives of China, exports it to that country. A further charge, moreover, is brought against the British merchants, that they participate in this trade for gain, or, as it is put by the Rev. Mr. Storrs Turner, formerly a missionary clergyman at Hong Kong, but now and for many years the active and energetic Secretary of the Anti-Opium Society, to enable them to make “princely fortunes.” That is the favourite expression of Mr. Turner, who finds, no doubt, that it takes with certain small sections of the public, readier to believe evil of their own countrymen than of the people of other countries, under the belief, perhaps, that in doing so they best display the purity and disinterestedness of their conduct.

[Pg 4]The Anti-Opium Society and its supporters assert as an incontestable fact that opium smoking is fatal, not only to the body but to the soul; meaning, I suppose, that the custom is destructive to the physical, and demoralising to the moral nature of its votaries, and that the opium traffic is regarded by the people of China with such horror that it prevents the natives from receiving the Gospel from those who help to supply them with this drug, viz., the British people. It is alleged that the use of opium demoralises the Chinese, that it ruins and saps the manhood of the whole nation, with a host of concomitant evils, to which I shall by and by refer more particularly, the whole involving the utmost turpitude, the greatest guilt and the worst depravity on the part of England and the English Government, and still more especially on that of the Indian Government and the British merchants in China. Here I may observe, in passing, that if the objection to opium on the part of the Chinese is so strong, it is rather remarkable that they should not only greedily purchase all the Indian opium we can send them, but cultivate the drug to an enormous extent in their own country. The Anti-Opium Society and its supporters further say that opium culture and opium smoking are of comparatively recent origin in China; and although they do not directly allege that we have introduced those practices, there is throughout all their writings and speeches “a fond desire, a pleasing hope” that the readers or hearers of their books and speeches will form that opinion for themselves. I should tell you that those who hold directly contrary views consist of all the British residents in China, with the exception of some of the Protestant missionaries (of whom I desire to speak with respect), comprising the British merchants, their numerous assistants (an educated and most intelligent body), professional men, traders of all classes, and also all the other foreign merchants and residents in the country—German, American, and others, for there are many nationalities to be met with in China, who with the British form one harmonious community.

Take all these men, differing in nationality and religious persuasions as they do, and I venture to say that you will not find one per cent. of them who will not tell you that the views put forward by these missionaries and the Anti-Opium Society are utterly preposterous,[Pg 5] false, and unreal—who will not declare that opium smoking in China is a harmless if not an absolutely beneficial practice; that it produces no decadence in mind or body, and that the allegations as to its demoralising effects are simply untrue. Those who have taken a special interest in the subject know that the poppy is indigenous to China, as it is to the rest of Asia, that opium smoking is and has been a universal custom throughout China, probably for more than a thousand years; that this custom is not confined to a few, but is general amongst the adult male population; limited only, in fact, by the means of procuring the drug. That is my experience also; it is corroborated by others, and therefore I may assert it as a fact. I have used the adjective “Protestant” because, although there are a great number of Roman Catholic and some Greek missionaries in China, no complaint against the opium trade has ever to my knowledge been made by one of these missionaries.

Now, why is this belief so prevalent? Because those foreign residents daily mix with the Chinese, know their habits and customs, hear them talk, sell to them, and buy from them, and being aware, as they all are, of the controversy going on here about opium, and the strenuous efforts that are being made in this country to prevent the Indian Government from allowing opium to be imported into China, they take a greater interest in the subject, and examine the question more carefully than they otherwise might. They, I say, being on the ground and knowing the very people who smoke opium and who have smoked it for years, without injury or decay to their bodily or mental health, have irresistibly come to the same conclusion as I have. For myself, I may say that I have taken a very great interest in the subject, particularly during the past five or six years. I have tried in vain to find out those pitiable victims of opium smoking who have been so much spoken of in books, in newspapers, and on public platforms. Day after day I have gone through the most populous parts of Hong Kong, which is a large city, having about one hundred and fifty thousand Chinese inhabitants—in both the wealthiest and poorest quarters. I have daily had in my office Chinese of all classes, seeing them, speaking to them, interrogating them upon different subjects, and I have never found amongst them any of these miserable victims to opium[Pg 6] smoking. On the contrary, more acute, knowing, and intelligent people than these very opium smokers I have rarely met with.

Now, Hong Kong may be said to be, and is, in fact, the headquarters in China of the opium trade. It is there that all the opium coming from India and Persia is first brought. It is, in fact, the entrepôt or depôt from which all other parts of China are supplied with the drug. Furthermore, it is the port whence “prepared opium,” the condition in which the drug is smoked, is mostly manufactured and exported to the Chinese in all other parts of the world, for wherever he goes, the Chinaman, if he can afford it, must have his opium-pipe. Moreover, the Chinese of Hong Kong get much better wages and make larger profits in their trades and businesses than they could obtain in their own country; and can, therefore, better afford to enjoy the luxury of the pipe than their own countrymen in China. So that if opium smoking produced the evil consequences alleged, Hong Kong is unquestionably the place where those consequences would be found in their fullest force. They are not to be found there in the slightest degree. One fact is worth a thousand theories, and this I give you as one which I challenge Mr. Storrs Turner or any other advocate of the Anti-Opium Society to disprove. I will now show you how I am corroborated. I have a witness on the subject whose testimony is simply irrefragable. Dr. Philip B. C. Ayres, the learned and efficient Colonial Surgeon, and Inspector of Hospitals of Hong Kong, confirms my statement in the strongest possible manner. That gentleman has held the important office I have mentioned for about ten years. Previous to taking up his appointment at Hong Kong he had been on the Medical Staff of India, where he had made opium and opium eating—for the drug is not smoked in India—a special study. In Hong Kong he has had abundant opportunities of studying the effects of opium smoking and making himself thoroughly acquainted with the wonderful drug, such opportunities, indeed, as few other medical men have ever had. It is part of his daily duties to inspect the Civil Hospital of Hong Kong,—a splendid institution open to all nationalities, and conducted by able medical men,—the Gaol, the Chinese Hospital, called the Tung Wah, which is under exclusive Chinese[Pg 7] management, and all other medical institutions in the Colony. Thus a wide field of observation is presented to him. I may add here that Dr. Ayres is the only European physician who has succeeded in removing the prejudice among the better class of the Chinese against European doctors and in obtaining a large native practice. This fact speaks volumes as to his general abilities as well as to his professional attainments and his means of acquainting himself with the social life of the Chinese. In his annual Report presented to the Government of Hong Kong for the year 1881, a copy of which, I believe, is now, or ought to be, in the pigeon-holes of the Colonial Office in Downing Street, there is the following passage:—

I have come to the conclusion that opium smoking is a luxury of a very harmless description, and that the only trouble arising from its indulgence is a waste of money that should be applied to necessaries. Eight mace is equivalent to an ounce and twenty-nine grains, a quantity of opium sufficient to poison a hundred men, smoked by one man in a day, and this he has been doing for twenty years: that is to say, he has consumed in smoke in that time about one thousand pounds sterling, and for this indulgence he has to deny himself and his family many absolute necessaries. The list of admissions contains thirty-five opium smokers, and the amount smoked between them daily was eighty-four mace and a half, or seven dollars worth of opium. The result of my observations this year is only to confirm all I said on the subject of opium smoking in my report for 1880.

Again, Dr. Ayres has published from time to time in the “Friend of China,” the organ of the Anti-Opium Society, various interesting papers on medical subjects. This is what he says in an article which will be found at length at p. 217 of vol. 3 of that journal:—

My opinion of it is that it [opium smoking] may become a habit, but that that habit is not necessarily an increasing one. Nine out of twelve men smoke a certain number of pipes a day, just as a tobacco smoker would, or as a wine or beer drinker might drink his two or three glasses a day, without desiring more. I think the excessive opium smoker is in a greater minority than the excessive spirit drinker or tobacco smoker. In my experience, the habit does no physical harm in moderation.... I do not wish to defend the practice of opium smoking, but in the face of the rash opinions and exaggerated statements in respect of this vice, it is only right to record that no China resident believes in the terrible frequency of the dull, sodden-witted, debilitated opium smoker met with in print, nor have I found many Europeans who believe they ever get the better of their opium-smoking compradores in matters of business.

Let Mr. Storrs Turner refute this, if he can. If he cannot,[Pg 8] what becomes of his book[1] published in 1876, which may be called the gospel of the Anti-Opium Society, with which I shall make you better acquainted by and by. And what should become of the Anti-Opium Society itself, which has wasted on its chimerical projects hundreds of thousands of pounds—the contributions of the benevolent British public, which might have been spent in alleviating the misery and distress in this vast metropolis, or been otherwise usefully applied.

The Government of Hong Kong, for the purposes of revenue, has farmed out the privilege or monopoly of preparing this opium and selling it within the colony, and I dare say you will be surprised to hear that the amount paid by the present opium monopolist for the privilege amounts to about forty thousand pounds sterling a year. To elucidate this, I should tell you, that opium as imported from India, Persia, and other places is in a crude or unprepared state. In this condition it is made up in hard round balls, each about the size of a Dutch cheese, but darker in colour. To render it fit for smoking it has to be stripped of its outer covering, shredded, and boiled with water until it becomes a semi-fluid glutinous substance resembling treacle in colour and consistence. In this state it is known as “prepared opium.” As such it is put up into small tins or canisters, hermetically sealed, so that it can be exported to any part of the world. Now, I have been the professional adviser of the opium farmer for at least ten years, and from him and his assistants I have had excellent opportunities of learning the truth about opium. I have thus been able to get behind the scenes, and so have had such opportunities of acquainting myself with the subject as few other Europeans have possessed. I knew the late opium farmer, whom I might call a personal friend, intimately from the time of my first arrival in China. When I call him the opium farmer I mean the ostensible one, for the opium monopoly has always, in fact, been held by a syndicate. My friend was the principal in whose name the license was made out, and who dealt with the wholesale merchants, carried on all arrangements with the Government of the Colony, and chiefly[Pg 9] managed the prepared opium business. I knew him so intimately and had so many professional dealings with him, irrespective of opium, that I had constant opportunities of becoming acquainted with all the mysteries of the opium trade. Now the conclusion to which my own personal experience has led me I have told you of before, and I have never met anyone who has lived in China, save the missionaries, whose experience differed from mine. I have tried to find the victims of the so-called dreadful drug, but I have never yet succeeded.

Many people in this country, I dare say, owing to the false and exaggerated stories which have been disseminated by the advocates of the Anti-Opium Society, think that if they went to Hong Kong they would see swarms of wretched creatures, wan and wasted, leaning upon crutches, the victims of opium smoking. If they went to the colony they would be greatly disappointed, for no such people are to be met with. On the contrary, all the Chinese they would see there are strong, healthy, intelligent-looking people, and, mark my words, well able to take care of themselves. I don’t suppose there were five per cent. of my Chinese clients who did not, to a greater or less extent, smoke opium. I have known numbers, certainly not less than five or six hundred persons in all, who have smoked opium from their earliest days—young men, middle-aged men, and men of advanced years, who have been opium smokers all their lives, some of them probably excessive smokers, but I have never observed any symptoms of decay in one of them. I recall to mind one old man in particular, whom I remember for more than fifteen years; he is now alive and well; when I last saw him, about two years ago, he was looking as healthy and strong as he was ten years before. He is not only in good bodily health, but of most extraordinary intellectual vigour, one of the most crafty old gentlemen, indeed, that I have ever met; no keener man of business you could find, or one who would try harder to get the better of you if he could. The only signs of opium smoking about him are his discoloured teeth, by which an excessive smoker can always be detected, for immoderate opium smoking has the same effect, though in a less degree, as the similar use of tobacco, the excessive smoking of which, as I shall by and by show you, is the more injurious practice of the two. The Chinese, as a rule, have extremely[Pg 10] white teeth—the effect, perhaps, of their simple diet, and their generally abstemious habits. They are proud of their teeth, which they brush two or three times a day, so that there is no difficulty in distinguishing heavy smokers from those who smoke in moderation. It is easy to compare the one with the other, and I may state that although the former be not often met with, he will be found to be not a whit inferior to the other in wit or sharpness. The old gentleman I have referred to, like many others of his countrymen, will settle himself down of an evening, when the business of the day is over, and enjoy his opium pipe for two or three hours at a stretch, yet, notwithstanding this terrible excess, as the Anti-Opium people would say, he continues strong and well. Nay, more, he has two sons of middle age, healthy, active men, who indulge in the pipe quite as regularly as their aged father. I have known many others like these men, but have never seen or heard of any weakness or decay arising from the practice.

Now, I have told you that the British merchants in China hold the same views as I do upon the opium question. But it may be said that the merchants are interested persons, and in point of fact Mr. Storrs Turner says as much in his book. And, of course, he would have it inferred that what they allege or think on the subject should not have any weight, because they are the very persons in whose interest this so-called iniquitous traffic is being carried on, and that, therefore, they would not say anything likely to dry up their fountain of profit. I only wish for the sake of my fellow-countrymen that all these declarations about princely fortunes were true. Hills look green afar off, but when you approach them they are often found as arid as the desert; and, unfortunately, like Macbeth’s air-drawn dagger, these splendid visions are not “sensible to feeling as to sight,” but simply princely fortunes of the mind “proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain.” Mr. Turner mentions in his book one eminent firm in particular, the oldest and probably the greatest in China or the far East, a firm respected throughout the whole mercantile world, whose public spirit, boundless charity, and general benevolence are proverbial, whom he stigmatizes as “opium merchants,” and who are, of course, making the imaginary “princely fortune” by opium. Now if that gentleman had taken the least trouble[Pg 11] to inquire before he launched his book upon the world, he would have found that the firm he refers to in such terms had had little or nothing to do with opium for at least twenty years. That is not, perhaps, a matter of much importance. If he had taken the trouble to make further inquiry, he could have had no difficulty in ascertaining, what I tell him now as a fact, and one within my own personal knowledge, that the only merchants in China who are making large profits out of opium are just two or three firms, who, by the undulations and fluctuations inseparable from commerce, have got the bulk of the trade into their hands, and that all the other British merchants throughout China, and all the foreign merchants, Germans, Americans, and others, have really little or nothing to do with the opium trade at all. Of course, merchants now and then will have to execute orders for opium for a constituent who may require a chest or two of the drug, but that is only in the course of business, and is not attended with any profit to speak of. And I am perfectly sure that if it were possible to put a stop to this opium traffic, which is said to be the source of so much profit to many, that, saving the two or three firms I have mentioned, the suppression of the trade would make no difference to the other firms. This gross blunder of Mr. Storrs Turner is characteristic of the general inaccuracy of his book. Before casting odium upon an eminent firm common decency, if not prudence, to say nothing of good taste, should have induced him to make careful inquiries upon the subject. This, it is clear, he has not done, and, as if to make matters worse, although his book appeared so long ago as 1876, in an article published in the “Nineteenth Century” for February 1882, he has again gratuitously referred to this firm in terms as unjustifiable as they are absolutely unfounded. He couples the firm with another house now dissolved, and says, “they were legally smugglers, but the sin sat lightly upon their consciences.” Very pretty this for a minister of the Gospel and the Secretary of the Anglo-Oriental Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade. The statement, even if true, was wholly unnecessary for the professed object of the writer, and why he made it is best known to himself. This is the gentleman by whose persistent efforts those fallacious and mischievous views upon the opium question have during the past eight years been[Pg 12] mainly forced upon the public, and to whom the prolonged existence of that most mischievous organization, the Anti-Opium Society, is due. He is the Frankenstein who has created the monster that has deceived and scared so many excellent people. I will show you that this monster is but a poor bogey after all, with just as much form and substance as that with which Mrs. Shelley affrights her readers in her clever romance. On the other hand, do not let it be thought, as I believe has been said by some enthusiasts, that it is owing to the British merchants in China having discovered that opium is an unclean thing, and to their having washed their hands of all participation in the traffic, that the trade has fallen into the hands of a few, who of course would, by parity of reasoning, be set down as very unscrupulous people. That is a fallacy, and, what is more, it is an untruth. I do not believe there is a British firm, or a firm of any other nationality, in China, which would not, if the opportunity presented itself, become to-morrow “opium merchants,” as Mr. Turner expresses it, if they thought the trade would prove a source of profit, because they hold, with me, that the opium traffic is a perfectly proper and legitimate one, quite as much so as traffic in tobacco, wine, or beer; and a thousand times less objectionable than the trade in ardent spirits.

Before proceeding further, it is important that I should bring to your notice some particulars about China and its people. It is actually necessary to do so, to enable you to grasp the facts and see your way well before you. Although the opium question ought to be a simple one, yet, owing to the sophistries and misrepresentations of the Anti-Opium Society, and in particular of its Secretary and living spirit, Mr. Storrs Turner, a wide field is opened to us across which it will be necessary to lead you to chase the phantom off the plain. The public here are very apt to think of China as if it were a country like Italy, France, or England. They never dream for a moment of the immense empire which China actually is. Perhaps if they did, and could take in the whole situation, they would be slower to believe the extraordinary stories which are spread about our forcing opium upon the Chinese, and, by doing so, demoralizing the nation. We forget, as we grow old, much that we have learned in our youth, especially geography, and I daresay many a schoolboy could enlighten myself and others upon that particular branch of[Pg 13] education. China, it must be remembered, is a country which cannot be compared with France, Spain, or England, for it is a vast empire, as large as Europe, with a population some fifty or sixty millions greater. Now, what a stupendous feat to be able to storm, as it were, that enormous empire, and for a handful of British merchants to succeed in forcing opium upon, and, by doing so, debasing the whole of this wonderful people. Yet this is what is alleged by the anti-opium philanthropists and by Mr. Storrs Turner, who is their priest and prophet, and so his enthusiastic disciples believe, to whom I would merely say,—“Great is thy faith.” These plain facts are not brought forward by the Anti-opium people. The public are addressed and pleas are put forward for their support on the ground that we are dealing with a country of the like extent as our own, inhabited by a primitive semi-civilized people. No greater fallacy, no more downright untruth could be put forward. The Chinese are not only a civilized but an educated people. Until quite recently there were more people in the British Islands, in proportion to their population, who could neither read nor write than in China.

It must be borne in mind that the empire of China comprises eighteen provinces, quite large enough to form eighteen separate kingdoms. I am speaking now of China Proper, and am leaving out Thibet, Mongolia, and Manchuria, immense countries to the West, North-West, and North of China, and also the vast possessions of China in Central Asia, all forming part of that great empire. Many of these eighteen provinces are larger than Great Britain; one of them is equal in extent to France. Although there is in one sense a language common to the whole country, yet not only has each province a dialect of its own, different from that of the others, but it has, so to speak, innumerable sub-dialects. Dialect, perhaps, is hardly the correct word; it is more than a dialect, for not only each province, but each district or county, has a dialect, differing so essentially from each other that the people of one province, or one district, can, in most instances, no more make themselves colloquially understood by those of another than a Frenchman could make himself intelligible to an Englishman, if neither knew the language of the other. You will often find people living in villages not more than fifteen or[Pg 14] twenty miles apart who cannot converse with one another. I have seen in my own office a man belonging to the province of Kwang-tung, in the south of China, unable to speak in Chinese to a native of the adjoining province of Fuh-kien. In this case the native villages of these two were not more than ten miles apart, and the only medium of conversation was the barbarous jargon in which Europeans and Chinese carry on their dealings, called “pidgin English”—a species of broken English of the most ridiculous kind. Now, when you take into account that each province differs in language from each other—for that is really what the case practically comes to—that they have separate dialects in each province, and also, to a certain extent, different customs and certain prejudices, I ask you, does it not appear a gigantic, if not an impossible, task for England, a small and distant country, to be able to demoralize, debase, and corrupt the people of each of these eighteen provinces? Yet that is really the allegation of the Anti-Opium Society against their own country, this small and distant England!

I have said that there are customs peculiar to each of these provinces, but there are others common to all; one of them is opium smoking; another, I am sorry to say, is hatred and contempt of foreigners. They one and all agree in regarding foreigners as an inferior race, whose customs, language, and religion they despise. Among the common people every foreigner, of whatsoever nationality, is called “Fan-Qui,” or “foreign devil.” The designation of foreigners amongst the better classes of people is “outer barbarian.” No better instance could I give you than this to show the strong prejudice held by the whole nation against foreigners. “Fan-Qui” is still the term used by the lower orders to denote foreigners, even in the British colony of Hong Kong. To remedy this state of things, at the time of the making of the Treaty of Tientsin in 1858 (which is the existing treaty between the two nations), Lord Elgin, the author of the treaty, had very properly a stipulation inserted that the term “outer barbarian” should no longer be applied to British subjects. Now, when you take into account that not only are these three hundred and sixty millions of people spread over an enormous empire, having a prejudice common to all parts alike against foreigners, as well as their own prejudices against each other, forming eighteen separate provinces or[Pg 15] kingdoms, speaking different languages, is it reasonable to suppose that they would, so to speak, simultaneously adopt the practice of opium smoking when introduced by the despised foreigner? If these people still despise our customs, as they do our religion, as they do everything, in fact, belonging to us, how can it be said that we are forcing this foreign drug upon them to their destruction?

I have already mentioned that the custom of opium smoking is common to all the people of these eighteen provinces. Whether they live in the valleys or on the hills they smoke opium. Now Mr. Turner is a great enemy of opium smoking; he is its determined opponent, and I do not think I wrong him—I certainly do not mean to do so—when I describe him as a person strongly prejudiced against the practice. The best, the wisest, and ablest among us have prejudices, and it is casting no stigma upon that gentleman to say that he has his. When I make you better acquainted with his book, which I shall soon do, you will, I think, agree with me on this point. When people have those strong prepossessions they are prone not to judge facts fairly; they see things, in short, through a false medium. That which to an ordinary person appears plain and clear enough, to one under the influence of prejudice stands out in different colours, and is passed over as untrue or misleading; sometimes, however, the plain truth will leak out, in spite of prejudice. It is laid down by legal text writers that truth is natural to the human mind, that the first impulse of a man if interrogated upon a point is to tell the truth, and that it is only when he has had time to consider, that he is inclined to swerve from it. Now in this book of Mr. Turner’s, at p. 13, he confirms my statement. This is what he says. I need not read to you the previous part, because the context does not alter the sense of my quotation. He is arguing against the allegation of pro-opium people that opium has a beneficial result in counteracting the effects of malaria and ague, and he says:—

These curious arguments are two. First, that the universal predilection of the Chinese for opium is owing to the malarious character of the country; secondly, that the use of opium is a wholesome corrective to the unwholesome, even putrid, food which the Chinese consume. The reply to the first is that the country over which opium is smoked is in area about the size of Europe, and includes, perhaps, an equal variety of sites, soils, and climates, great plains level as our own fen district, and[Pg 16] mountainous regions like the Highlands of Scotland. Ague is almost unknown in many of the provinces—yet everywhere, in all climates and all soils, in every variety of condition and circumstance throughout that vast empire, the Chinese smoke opium.

Now that is the testimony of the Rev. Storrs Turner, the most strenuous and, as I believe, the ablest advocate against the Indo-China opium trade. But then he adds:—

But nowhere do they all smoke opium. The smokers are but a per-centage greater or smaller in any place.

Well, nobody ever said they all did smoke opium. Females, as a rule, do not smoke, and children don’t smoke. It is only the grown men, and those who can afford to buy the drug, who smoke it. China, for its extent and its vast and industrious population, is still a poor country. Although its natural resources are considerable, the great bulk of the people are in poor circumstances. It is only those above the very poor who can afford to smoke opium occasionally, and only well-to-do people who are able to do so habitually. Opium smoking is, in fact, a luxury in which, every Chinaman who can afford it indulges more or less, just as English people who have sufficient means drink tea, wine, and beer, or smoke tobacco. The effects of opium smoking are no more injurious than are those articles, in daily use in England, nor is its use more enslaving. On the contrary, from my own observation, I feel persuaded that those who habitually drink wine or spirits are far more liable to abuse and become enslaved to the habit than the smoker of opium. This, as you are now aware, is confirmed by the great authority of Dr. Ayres. Yet Mr. Storrs Turner, in the face of that most damaging admission, and his disciples would have the British public believe that by supplying the Chinese with a small quantity of opium, which is used and grown largely in almost every province, district, and village of China, we are demoralizing and degrading the whole people. Now, if this practice of opium smoking has existed, and does exist, throughout these eighteen provinces, over this large and mighty empire, as Mr. Storrs Turner admits, can it be urged for a moment that England has had anything to do with it more than that Englishmen, in common with other foreigners, have imported for the last forty or forty-five years a quantity of the drug very much less than that actually grown in China itself? I[Pg 17] say she has not. I say that opium smoking has existed for a thousand years or more, and that its use by the natives of China is simply limited by the extent of their purchasing power. But how is it that such divergent opinions can exist between Englishmen living in China and certain Englishmen here at home? My answer is, that the former, the English residents in China, derive their knowledge on the subject from actual experience formed from personal intercourse with the natives, from seeing with their own eyes, and hearing with their own ears; whilst people in England obtain their information from hearsay only. Hearsay testimony is their sole guide; and, as I shall show you by and by, this hearsay evidence is of the worst and most unreliable kind. But still the question remains why this should be so; why is it that among the educated and intelligent people of England, in an age when newspapers are universal, and books of travel cheap and plentiful, that such an extraordinary difference of opinion should exist? I will now give you the explanation of these opposite views.

The first is this:—China is ten thousand miles away. If that country were as near to us as the Continent of Europe, to which it is equal in extent, the people of England, including all these Anti-Opium advocates, would be of the same mind as their countrymen in China. The field of the imposture would then be so close to us that the delusion could no longer be sustained—if, indeed, under such circumstances it could ever have existence—it would be seen through at once. If it were sought to prove that we were corrupting and demoralizing the whole of the natives of the Continent by selling them spirits, beer, or opium, and if the persons who did so were to pity, patronize, and caress those people as if they were an inferior race, and but semi-civilized, as the anti-opium people do with the Chinese,—the persons who attempted to act in such an extraordinary manner would be scoffed at as visionaries, if not downright fools; yet the parallel is complete. Indeed, taking into account the existing prejudices of the Chinese against foreigners, the sound sense of the people of China and their frugal and abstemious habits, there should be less difficulty in effecting such wonderful results in Europe than in China. Perhaps, however, the best illustration of this is that afforded by the present agitation here in England, under the leadership of Sir[Pg 18] Wilfrid Lawson against the liquor traffic. The evils of intemperance, unlike those alleged against opium smoking, are real evils, and are admitted to be so by all. Everyone is agreed upon this point; yet a large portion of our revenue, amounting to some twenty-six millions sterling, is derived from taxes upon spirits, wine, and beer, the abuse of which produces these evils. Sir Wilfrid Lawson is as determined a foe to the Indo-China opium trade as he is to the liquor traffic. Why does he not apply the same rule to the one as to the other? Why does he ask the Government to forego the eight millions derived from opium in India, and not demand the abrogation of these spirit, wine, and beer duties which are derived from so wicked a source here in England? He and his Anti-Opium friends would, if they could, prohibit the cultivation and exportation of opium in India, why do not he and his fellow teetotallers call upon the country to prohibit the manufacture of alcoholic liquors? Some few months ago an Anti-Opium meeting took place at, I think, Newcastle, attended by Sir Wilfrid Lawson. In the course of a facetious speech the Honourable Baronet, becoming serious, made quite light of this ridiculously small sum of eight millions sterling derived from the opium trade, and declared that he who did not believe that a substitute for it could be found was a “moral atheist”—whatever that may mean. Why does he not call upon the Government to forego the sum of twenty-six millions derived from alcohol, which is not more to England, if indeed so much, as the eight millions are to India, and declare that any person who said we could not find a substitute was a “moral atheist”? I answer thus: because the one concerns matters here at home with which he and the rest of the public are well acquainted, whilst the other relates to affairs ten thousand miles away, about which he and they know little or nothing. Sir Wilfrid and his followers very well know that if they advocated the abolition of the duties on spirits, wine, and beer, they would be simply scoffed at by the public as fools and visionaries, and that, on the other hand, if they required all our distilleries and breweries and all public-houses to be closed, they would be treated as downright lunatics; but it is quite different as regards India and China. With matters in those countries these enthusiastic gentlemen can and do disport themselves very much as they please, oblivious to the plainest facts.

[Pg 19]The second is this:—There is, here in England, that powerful association, “The Anglo-Oriental Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade,” whose sole object is to attain the end which its name imports, the abolition of the Indo-China opium trade, on the alleged ground that it is demoralizing and ruining the natives of China. That Society, I deeply regret to say, is supported by some of the most influential people in England—noblemen, archbishops, and other dignitaries of the Church, clergymen of all denominations, people justly and deservedly commanding the respect of their fellows—but who, on this opium question, simply know little or nothing, who implicitly believe all that is told to them by the agents of that Society, but otherwise have no knowledge of the facts. When it is taken into account that this body has immense funds at its command, that it has the support of a large part of what is known as the “religious world,” and that the Society has branches and agencies ramified throughout the whole country, the reader will not fail to perceive how this extraordinary hallucination, these false and unfounded delusions respecting opium smoking, have got possession of the public mind. In former times we have had associations formed for the purpose of carrying out great public objects and of disseminating knowledge necessary for the country to comprehend those objects; but you will find that for the most part these societies have dealt with acknowledged and existing facts. For instance, there was the “Anti-Corn Law League.” The purposes of that league were understood by everyone; the main facts were admitted because they existed here in England and were patent to all. It was only a matter of opinion between two great political parties whether they should be dealt with in one particular way or not. That league was formed for a great national object; but the Anti-Opium Society of which I am speaking has been got up to carry out the opinions of a few individuals, most respectable, I admit, but at the same time most enthusiastic—I may say, indeed, fanatical—holding views the most incorrect and delusive upon a subject with which they are most imperfectly acquainted.

Meantime, this Society, through its ubiquitous and indefatigable Secretary, who may be called the “Head Centre” of the confederacy, and its other agents, is for ever on the[Pg 20] alert. Let any gentleman who has bad experience of opium smoking, whether in India or China, write to the newspapers; let him read a paper at a meeting of any of our scientific bodies disputing the alleged facts of the opium-phobists, and he is marked out as a prey. Sir Rutherford Alcock, whose high character, thorough knowledge of China, and great abilities are well known, with a view of putting the opium question before the public in a correct and proper light, published an able and, indeed, unanswerable article in the “Nineteenth Century” for December 1881 (“Opium and Common Sense”), when Mr. Storrs Turner plunged into print with a counter article in the number for February 1882 of the same Review (“Opium and England’s Duty”), to which I have already alluded. This article purports to be an answer to the former one, but it is nothing of the kind, for it is a mere rechauffé of his book, and wholly fails in its alleged purpose. Again Sir Rutherford Alcock, with the same laudable object, early in 1882, read an able and interesting paper on the opium question before the Society of Arts. It was listened to by many scientific gentlemen and others. Sir Rutherford knows the truth about opium, and he told it in his paper. The Rev. Storrs Turner was there; he knew the damaging revelations which Sir Rutherford Alcock had made, and so much afraid was he of the effects of the fusillade, that to rally his dismayed followers he improvised a meeting of his most devoted disciples two or three days afterwards at the Aquarium. I venture to say there was not a pro-opium advocate present at his meeting I do not think the meeting was ever advertised—I certainly saw no advertisement of it in the newspapers—and Mr. Turner, on that occasion, exhorted his followers to hold fast to the true faith, refuting in the way, no doubt most satisfactory to himself and his audience, the facts, figures, and arguments of Sir Rutherford. So it is with articles and letters in the newspapers. Many gentlemen well-informed upon the opium question have published letters dealing with this question on the pro-opium side; whereupon Mr. Turner and other anti-opium advocates at once pounce down upon them, and repeat the same old stale exploded stories about demoralization and what not. But latterly, and since the first edition of these lectures was published, Mr. Turner has preferred to carry on the anti-opium agitation[Pg 21] more quietly, for I think I have thrown cold water upon the zeal of him and his friends. His plan now is to get together in private conclave a few medical gentlemen and others whose opinions he has first made sure of; certain resolutions are then produced ready cut and dry, which are passed with acclamation and inserted in the newspapers. This sort of thing deceives nobody but the infatuated dupes of the Anti-Opium Society, for whose edification they are principally intended; just as the American orator, though speaking to empty benches in Congress, made what his constituents at Bunkum considered a capital speech.

All these anti-opium articles, speeches, and resolutions are based upon the same model. They assume certain statements as existing and acknowledged facts which have never been proved to be such, and then proceed to draw deductions from those alleged facts. This style of argument can scarcely be praised for its fairness; it certainly places those who hold contrary views, and who object to employing similar tactics, at a disadvantage. This is especially remarkable in Mr. Storrs Turner’s article in the “Nineteenth Century.” There the writer, taking all his facts for granted, plunges at once in medias res, and proceeds to enlighten his readers with all the confidence of the pedagogue who, strong in his axioms and postulates, explains to his admiring pupils the mysteries of the “Asses’ Bridge.” The English people have hitherto had little or no knowledge of the opium question, save what they hear through the Anti-Opium Society, in whose teaching some of them put faith, if only for the reason that they are mostly clergymen and others of high character. And here I may observe that, supposing the pro-opium advocates, or perhaps I should more correctly say the general public, had a counter society to disseminate their opinions, that they had organised a committee with command of ample funds, and had officers to carry out their views, this Anglo-Oriental Society would be strangled in three months; for fiction, however speciously represented, cannot hold its own against fact. There is an old saying that “what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business,” and so it has been with the pro-opium side of the question. The foreign merchants in China, as a body, have no interest in the Indo-China opium trade. They would not care if the trade were to be suppressed to-morrow, and therefore they take[Pg 22] no active part in opposing the Anti-Opium Society. The general public also take little or no interest in the matter, and it is really only those who are actuated by a sense of duty, or who, like myself, have followed the question, and who, from practical acquaintance and a thorough research into all its bearings, take more than ordinary interest in the subject, who think of refuting the monstrous misrepresentations of the anti-opium people. Therefore it is that the other side have had practically the whole field to themselves. Upon the like conditions any imposture could for a time be successfully carried on. The days of the anti-opium agitation are, however, happily drawing to a close. A flood of light from various sources has within the past year been thrown upon the subject. The unwholesome mists of ignorance, prejudice, and fanaticism are clearing away, and the truth about opium is becoming visible at last. And here I would observe that in using the word “imposture” I do not mean to impugn the motives of any of the good and benevolent people who support this Society. I speak of the thing, not of those who have created or are supporting it.

I have before slightly touched upon the charges brought against the British Government and the British nation respecting opium. I will formulate them more particularly now; as the subject cannot, I think, be thoroughly understood unless I do so. I have read Mr. Storrs Turner’s book and his reply to Sir R. Alcock, very carefully; I have read anti-opium speeches delivered in London, Manchester, Leeds, and London upon the subject; they all come to the same thing—one is a repetition of the other. As I understand the matter, this is what the charges of the Anti-Opium Society amount to. It is alleged that opium smoking, once commenced, cannot be laid aside, that it poisons the blood, reduces the nervous and muscular powers, so that strong men under the use of opium speedily become debilitated and unfit for labour; that opium smoking paralyses the mind as well as the body, and produces imbecility, or at least mental weakness; that it so demoralises the people using it, that it converts honest and industrious men from being useful members of society into lazy, dishonest scoundrels; that it saps the manhood and preys like a cankerworm upon the vitals of the Chinese people, injuring the commonwealth and threatening even the existence of the nation if the[Pg 23] custom of opium smoking be not stopped, which, it is alleged, can be effected only by the supply of opium from India being discontinued. It is urged, in fact, that the sale of Indian opium to the Chinese is a crime not only against the people of China but against humanity; that much, if not all, of the misery and crime prevalent throughout China are due, either directly or indirectly, to the use of opium; and for all these fearful results England is held responsible. It is further said, that the sale of British opium to the Chinese interferes with legitimate commerce, creating, it is alleged, so much bitterness in the native mind against the English nation, that the Chinese refuse to buy our goods. And, above all, it is contended that the Indo-China opium trade impedes the progress of Christianity, the Chinese refusing to accept the Gospel from a people who have such terrible crimes to answer for as the introduction of Indian opium into China. Since the days of Judge Jeffereys never was there such a terrible indictment, nor one so utterly unfounded as happily it is. In fact, all the objections that in old times were made against negro slavery have been brought forward against this harmless and perfectly justifiable Indo-China opium trade. Indeed Mr. Storrs Turner, in his article in the “Nineteenth Century,” coolly places the two in the same category, and modestly proposes that the revenue from opium should be discontinued, and that England should compensate the Indian Government for the loss, just as she did the slave owners. It is astonishing how liberal your political philanthropist can be in the disposal of other people’s money. Well, I had always thought that the Government of India, for the past sixty years at least, had been actuated by one great and prominent object—the amelioration, the happiness, and prosperity of the teaming millions committed to its care, and I think so still. I have always believed that the Imperial Government, no matter which party was from time to time in power, had the prosperity, honour, and dignity of their country at heart, and were influenced by a sincere desire towards all the world to be just and fear not, and to diffuse as much happiness as possible amongst our own people, and all other nations and races with whom we became associated all over the world, and I remain of that opinion still. Some fifty years ago we washed the stain of slavery from our hands,[Pg 24] performing that great act of justice from a pure sense of duty, without any outside pressure, and also without shedding a drop of blood. This act was unique, for at the time slavery existed in every country, and had so existed for thousands of years. We know that, thirty years later, a similar achievement cost a kindred nation a long and bloody war, and an aggregate money expenditure far exceeding our own national debt—the growth of centuries. That feat of ours showed what the mind and heart of this great nation then were, and I do not believe that we have since degenerated. Since then we have spent many millions of money in sweeping slavery from the seas and in endeavouring to put an end to that accursed evil throughout the world. In doing this our pecuniary loss has been the least of our sacrifices. We have spent more than money. We have lost in the struggle the lives of some of the best and noblest of England’s sons. These are acts worthy of a great nation; compared with them the objects of the Anti-Opium Society sink into utter insignificance. The sublime and the ridiculous could not be brought more vividly face to face.

For the last fifty years there has been one feeling predominant in the minds of the people of England, and that is a manly, generous anxiety to protect the weak against the strong all over the world. Yet these foul and untenable charges against England are now spread broadcast by this Society, whose only warrant for doing so are the statements made to them by a handful of fanatical missionary clergymen, whose unfounded and fantastic views are accepted as so much dogma which it would be heresy to doubt. Why, if we were guilty of but half the wickedness attributed to us, it would not require this Anti-Opium Society to cry it down; the nation would rise as one man to crush it for ever. There is not a British merchant in China who would not raise his voice against it, aye, though he was making that princely fortune which Mr. Turner refers to in his book; for let me assure you that your fellow-countrymen in China, who are but sojourners in that land, as they all hope to end their days at home, have as warm a love for their country and as keen a sense of their country’s honour and dignity as any set of Englishmen residing here at home, however high their station and great their wealth.

To prove to you, if indeed further proof is necessary,[Pg 25] that I have not overstated the case as regards the extreme views of the missionaries and the Anti-Opium Society, I will give you their latest production. It comes from the fountain-head, and takes the form of a petition of “the Ministers of the Gospel in China” to the House of Commons. This petition was prepared by the Missionaries of Peking, and is a gem in its way. It would never do to put the reader off with a mere extract, so I give it in extenso. It was drawn up and sent round for signature during the past summer, and appeared in the Shanghai and Hong Kong newspapers. This is the document:—

To the Honourable
The British House of Commons.

The petition of the undersigned Missionaries of the Gospel in China humbly sheweth:

That the opium traffic is a great evil to China, and that the baneful effects of opium smoking cannot be easily overrated. It enslaves its victim, squanders his substance, destroys his health, weakens his mental powers, lessens his self-esteem, deadens his conscience, unfits him for his duties, and leads to his steady descent, morally, socially, and physically.

That by the insertion in the British Treaty with China of the clause legalizing the trade in opium, and also by the direct connection of the British Government in India with the production of opium for the market, Great Britain is in no small degree rendered responsible for the dire evil opium is working in this country.

That the use of the drug is spreading rapidly in China, and that, therefore, the possibility of coping successfully with the evil is becoming more hopeless every day. In 1834 the foreign import was twelve thousand chests; in 1850 it was thirty-four thousand chests; in 1870 it was ninety-five thousand chests; in 1880 it was ninety-seven thousand chests. To this must be added the native growth, which, in the last decade, has increased enormously, and now at least equals, and according to some authorities doubles, the foreign import.

That while the clause legalizing the opium traffic remains in the British Treaty, the Chinese Government do not feel free to deal with the evil with the energy and thoroughness the case demands, and declare their inability to check it effectively.

That the opium traffic is the source of much misunderstanding, suspicion, and dislike on the part of the Chinese towards foreigners, and especially towards the English.

That the opium trade, by the ill name it has given to foreign commerce, and by the heavy drain of silver it occasions, amounting, at present, to about thirteen million pounds sterling annually, has greatly retarded trade in foreign manufactures, and general commerce must continue to suffer while the traffic lasts.

That the connection of the British Government with the trade in this pernicious drug excites a prejudice against us as Christian missionaries, and seriously hinders our work. It strikes the people as a glaring[Pg 26] inconsistency, that while the British nation offers them the beneficent teaching of the Gospel, it should at the same time bring to their shores, in enormous quantities, a drug which degrades and ruins them.

That the traffic in opium is wholly indefensible on moral grounds, and that the direct connection of a Christian Government with such a trade is deeply to be deplored.

That any doubt as to whether China is able to put a stop to opium production, and the practice of opium smoking in and throughout her dominions should not prevent your Honourable House from performing what is plainly a moral duty.

Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that your Honourable House will early consider this question with the utmost care, take measures to remove from the British Treaty with China the clause legalizing the opium trade, and restrict the growth of the poppy in India within the narrowest possible limits.

Your Honourable House will thus leave China free to deal with the gigantic evil which is eating out her strength, and creates hindrance to legitimate commerce and the spread of the Christian religion in this country.

We also implore your Honourable House so to legislate as to prevent opium from becoming as great a scourge to the native races of India and Burmah as it is to the Chinese; for our knowledge of the evil done to the Chinese leads us to feel the most justifiable alarm at the thought that other races should be brought to suffer like them from the curse of opium.

We believe that, in so doing, your Honourable House will receive the blessing of those that are ready to perish, the praise of all good men, and the approval of Almighty God.

And your petitioners will ever pray.

The thoughts that occurred to me after reading this petition were these:—First it struck me that the missionaries, like the unfortunate Bourbons, “had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.” I thought next of the wonderful solicitude shown by these missionaries for the mercantile interest. “By the ill name the opium trade has given to foreign commerce,” they say, “the trade in foreign manufactures and general commerce has been retarded, and must continue to suffer while the opium traffic lasts.” Well, it is remarkable that this complaint is not made by the people whose interests are alleged to have so suffered, but by missionary clergymen, who ought to know little or nothing upon the subject; they are not merchants, and associate very little with mercantile men, either native or foreign, and certainly, if they minded their own business, could not possibly have that knowledge of mercantile affairs with which they appear to be so familiar. The persons who[Pg 27] ought to know whether foreign manufactures or foreign trade have fallen off owing to the opium traffic, are the foreign merchants resident in China, whose especial duty it is to look after those interests, yet these gentlemen, strange to say, have made no complaint of the kind. Those merchants are directly concerned in foreign manufactures and general commerce either as principals or as agents for absent principals in England and elsewhere; they, in fact, exclusively manage foreign trade in China. There is a chamber of commerce in Hong Kong and another in Shanghai, whose members are all keen men of business, actively alive to their own and their constituents’ interests, and in constant communication with similar mercantile bodies at home; moreover, there are excellent daily papers published in both these places, where such grievances, if they existed, could be freely ventilated; yet the missionaries of the Gospel in Peking would have the House of Commons and the world believe that the foreign merchants in China, who are always wide-awake, are blind to their own interests and slumbering at their posts. Now why have not these merchants ever complained that commerce has suffered from the opium traffic? Why, simply because there is no foundation in fact for such complaint. I am afraid that with the missionaries who make this most unfounded statement the “wish was father to the thought.” Every man ought to know his own business best, and you will generally find that when a stranger professes great interest in your affairs, and presses upon you gratuitous advice upon the subject, he is not really actuated by a desire to promote your interests, but has some other and totally different object in view. So it is with these missionary gentlemen at Peking. There is just one other point connected with this remarkable Petition to which I would call attention. Evidently feeling the ground slipping from under their feet, the framers, adding another string to their bow, extend their sympathies beyond China, and take British Burmah under their patronage. Indeed, it seems to me that these missionary clergymen of Peking would, if they could, not only supersede the Viceroy of India in his management of the Indian Empire, but even Her Majesty the Queen and her immediate Government.

I should here, however, in justice to the entire missionary body, say, that all of them are not so deluded as[Pg 28] their brethren at Peking. There is one bright, particular star, at least, which shines through the Egyptian darkness that enshrouds the rest. The Reverend F. Galpin, of the English Methodist Free Church, is a respected missionary clergyman at Ningpo, an important port on the east coast of China. He, unlike most of his brethren at other places in that country, when asked to sign this curious petition, very properly declined to do so. All honour to Mr. Galpin. He was not afflicted with the midsummer madness of his brethren at Peking. Were all the Protestant missionaries in China like him, we should not have heard of these absurd and monstrous stories respecting the Indo-China opium trade, and there would, perhaps, be larger and better results from the missionary’s labours. This is the manly, sensible, and dignified reply of Mr. Galpin:—

The Rev. J. Edkins and others, Peking.

Sir,—I beg to acknowledge receipt of a copy of your circular, dated June 24th, with form of petition to the British House of Commons against the importation of Indian opium, and also to express my sympathy with the spirit and motives that have suggested the petition; but, at the same time, I must also express disapproval of the proposed petition, and disbelief of many of the statements contained therein.

Looking at Christianity in the broad and true sense, as a great regenerating force breathing its beneficent spirit upon and promoting the welfare of all, of course the excessive use or abuse of opium, and every other thing, is a serious hindrance to its happy progress. But this is a very different position from that of supposing that the present apparent slow progress of mission-work in China is to be attributed to the importation of Indian opium. China is a world in itself, and the influence of Christian missions has hitherto reached but a handful of the people, for there are many serious obstacles to its progress besides opium.

Then, again, I beg to express my hearty dissent from the idea presented in the petition, that the Chinese people or Government are really anxious to remove the abuse of opium. The remedy has always been, as it is now, in their own hands.

Neither do I believe that if the importation of Indian opium ceased at once, the Chinese Government would set about destroying a very fruitful means of revenue. On the contrary, I feel sure that the growth of Chinese opium would be increased forthwith.

I therefore beg to return the petition in its present form, with the suggestion that Christian missionaries had better direct their attention to, and use their influence upon, Chinese.

Yours truly,
F. Galpin,
English Methodist Free Church.

Ningpo, 15th July.

No doubt these most estimable and respectable but infatuated gentlemen suppose that their petition will have some[Pg 29] weight with the Legislature. I believe and hope it will, but not exactly of the kind expected; for I shall be surprised indeed, if it be not treated as it deserves, i.e. as a downright contempt of the House of Commons; for it seems to me to be an insult to the common sense not only of the House in its collective capacity, but of every individual member. In saying this I am far from attributing to these missionary clergymen a wilful intention to state what they knew to be untrue, nor to insult or mislead the Legislature, for I am assured that one and all of them would be incapable of so doing. I am sure they thoroughly believe every word they have stated to be true; but then it must be remembered that the effect upon the public mind and the injury done to society by the publication of fallacious and untrue statements, are in no way lessened because their authors suppose those statements to be, in fact, true and correct.

I have shown you that Mr. Turner admits that opium smoking is common all over China. But, he says, the Chinese do not all smoke. In his book he affirms that it is only in recent years that opium has been grown in China. This is the passage, it occurs at page 2:—“Indigenous in Asia, the first abode of the human species, the poppy has long been cultivated in Egypt, Turkey, Persia, and recently in China and Manchuria. It is well known in our gardens, grows wild in some parts of England, and is cultivated in Surrey for the supply of poppy heads to the London market. From the time of Hippocrates to the present day it has been the physician’s invaluable ally in his struggles against disease and death.”

This is about the most remarkable statement I have ever read. The greater includes the less, and if the poppy is indigenous to Asia it is, of course, indigenous also to China and Manchuria, which with the other dominions of China comprise fully one-fourth of the entire Asiatic continent. This, indeed, Mr. Storrs Turner does not deny in terms, but it is plain he wished his readers to believe that the poppy was not indigenous to those countries, and was only recently introduced there. The passage involves that sort of fallacy which Lord Palmerston termed “a distinction without a difference.” As to the poppy being indigenous to the whole of Asia and notably to the most fertile parts of it, e.g. China and Manchuria, there can be no doubt, and therefore no difference,[Pg 30] but the distinction is that it is only of late years that it has been cultivated in those countries. The poppy may grow wild over a continent, but be cultivated only in a part. I will show you by-and-by, upon excellent authority and by the strongest grounds for inference, that the poppy is not only indigenous to China, but has been cultivated there for various purposes other than for medical ones and for smoking, certainly for two thousand, and probably for four or five thousand years. An ordinary reader, especially one not familiar with the geography of Asia, would conclude from this passage in Mr. Turner’s book that China and Manchuria were not in Asia at all, but that of late years the poppy had been introduced into those countries from that continent. Thus much for the Gospel of the Anti-opiumists.

I now confront Mr. Storrs Turner with another book, which everyone must admit is of greater authority than his. It is a book published towards the close of 1881 by a high official of the Chinese Government, then Mr. but now Sir Robert Hart, G.C.M.G., the Inspector-General of Chinese Customs, a man who knows China and the Chinese better, perhaps, than any living European. That gentleman tells a very different tale about opium to what the Anti-Opium Society has hitherto regaled the world with. This book is an official one, issued from the Statistical Department of the Inspector-General of Chinese Customs at Shanghai for the use and guidance of the Chinese Government. It stands upon a very different footing to the volume published by Mr. Turner, the paid secretary and strenuous advocate of the Anti-Opium Society. Sir Robert Hart has entire control over the revenue of China as far as regards foreign trade. At every treaty port open to foreign vessels there is a foreign Commissioner of Customs, and Sir Robert Hart is the supreme head of these commissioners. He is a man deservedly trusted and respected by the Chinese Government; a man of learning and talents, and I need hardly add of the very highest character, and, I believe, he is one of the most accomplished Chinese scholars that could be found. He says that opium has been grown in China from a remote period, and was smoked there before a particle of foreign opium ever came into the country. This is the passage from his—the now famous yellow-book:—

In addition to the foreign drug there is also the native product. Reliable statistics cannot be obtained respecting the total quantity[Pg 31] produced. Ichang, the port nearest to Szechwan, the province which is generally believed to be the chief producer and chief consumer of native opium, estimates the total production of native opium at twenty-five thousand chests annually; while another port, Ningpo, far away on the coast, estimates it at two hundred and sixty-five thousand. Treating all such replies as merely so many guesses, there are, it is to be remarked, two statements which may be taken as facts in this connection: the one is that, so far as we know to-day, the native opium produced does not exceed the foreign import in quantity; and the other that native opium was known, produced, and used long before any Europeans began the sale of the foreign drug along the coast.

So much for Mr. Storrs Turner’s bold assertion that it is only recently that opium has been cultivated in China; the obvious inference which he wished the reader to draw from it being that it was the importation of the Indian drug into China that induced the natives to plant opium there. Now, with respect to that most unfounded charge of the Chinese disliking the English for introducing opium into their country, and British commerce declining in consequence, I assure you that all that is simply moonshine. These statements are not merely false assumptions, they are simply untrue. No one who has had any experience of China and its people, does not know perfectly well, that of the whole foreign trade with China the British do at least four-fifths; not only have we the lion’s share of the trade, but it is an unquestionable fact that of all the nations who have made treaties and had dealings with China, the British are and have been for many years the most respected by the Chinese people. It is, I say, an indisputable fact, that notwithstanding all our past troubles about smuggling and our wars with China, which Mr. Turner is so fond of dilating upon, that at this day, by high and low, rich and poor, from the mandarin to the humble coolie, England is held in higher regard than any other nation. If trade with China has in any way declined, the fact is traceable to other and different causes, which it is not my province to enter upon.

Now, why are England and Englishmen thought so well of by the Chinese? It is simply because the British merchants and British people in China have acted towards the Chinese, with whom they have been brought into contact, with honour and rectitude—because in their intercourse with the natives they have been kind, considerate, and obliging—because, instead of resenting the old rude and[Pg 32] overbearing manners of the Chinese officials and others, they have returned good for evil, and shown by their conciliatory bearing, and gentlemanly and straightforward conduct, that the British people are not the barbarians they had been taught to believe. By such means the British residents in China have gone far to break down the barrier of prejudice towards foreigners behind which the people of that country had hedged themselves, thus preparing the way for the labours of the missionaries and making, in fact, missionary work possible. If further proof were wanting that the British are held in high estimation by the people and the Government of China, it will be found in the fact, that our own countryman, Sir Robert Hart, who before entering the service of the Chinese Government had been in the diplomatic service of his own country, now occupies the high and honourable position of Inspector-General of Chinese Customs, and is, I may add, the trusted counsellor of the Government of China.

It is not very long since the Governor of Canton paid a visit to the Governor of Hong Kong; such an act of courtesy to Her Majesty’s representative on the part of so great a Chinese magnate was until then, I believe, unprecedented. The constant exclamation of the great mandarin as he was being driven through the streets of Hong Kong was—“What a wonderful place! What a wonderful place!” in allusion to the fine buildings, the wide and clean streets,—a strong contrast to those of Canton—and the dense and busy population around him. And yet more recently, that is during the summer of 1882, a greater personage still paid an official visit to the Hon. W. H. Marsh, who during the absence of Sir George Bowen, the Governor, worthily administers the affairs of the colony—I refer to the present viceroy of the provinces of Kwantung and Kwangsi, commonly called the “two Kwangs,” an official only next in importance to His Excellency Li Hung Chang, the Governor of Petchili. Do you think we should have such a state of things if we were demoralizing and ruining the people of China, as is alleged by the Anti-Opium Society, or if, indeed, the Chinese people or Government had any real grievance against us.

Upon this point I cannot refrain from mentioning an incident that occurred soon after I arrived in China. A[Pg 33] respectable Chinaman asked me to prepare his will. He gave me for the purpose, written instructions in Chinese characters, which I had translated. On reading the translation I found his instructions very clearly drawn up, but what was gratifying to me, and what is pertinent to my subject, was the following passage, with which he commenced them:—“Having,” said he, “under the just and merciful laws administered by the English Government of Hong Kong, amassed in commerce considerable wealth, I now, feeling myself in failing health, wish to make a distribution of the same.” There are thousands like that Chinaman in Hong Kong, and also in Shanghai, and in all the treaty ports of China. In speaking as this man did, he was only giving expression to the feelings of all his countrymen who have had dealings with the English in China. Are such feelings on the part of these Chinese consistent with the consciousness that we are enriching ourselves by ruining the health and morals of their countrymen, as is most wrongfully put forward by the Anti-Opium Society and its allies the Protestant missionaries? No; they bespeak perfect confidence, respect, and gratitude towards us; for oppressed and plundered as the Chinese have been by their own officials, there is no other people on the face of the earth who more thoroughly appreciate justice and equity in the administration of public affairs; thus it is that they respect the British rule, which they have found by experience to be the embodiment of both.

There are very few, perhaps, in this country who know what Hong Kong really is. It is now a flourishing and beautiful city, standing upon a site which, but the other day, was a barren rock. Commerce with its civilising influence has transformed it into a “thing of beauty,” “an emerald gem of the eastern world.” Forty years ago, the English Government sent out a commissioner to report upon the capabilities of the place for a town or settlement. He sent home word that there was just room there for one house. He little dreamt that upon that barren inhospitable spot within a few years would be realised the poet’s dream when he wrote:—

Oh, had we some bright little isle of our own
In a blue summer ocean far off alone,
Where a leaf never dies, midst the still blooming bowers,
And the bee banquets on through a whole year of flowers.

[Pg 34]He little thought that on that very site there would soon be many thousands of houses, some of them palatial buildings, including many Christian churches and some heathen temples, for liberty of conscience reigns there supreme; with a Chinese population of over one hundred and fifty thousand. These people are all doing well. Some of them are wealthy merchants; many of them are shop-keepers; others are artificers; and a very large number of them are labourers or coolies. There is no pauperism in the colony. The people there are all well-to-do, or able to live comfortably, and, what is more, they are all happy and contented. A comparatively small body of police preserves the peace of the colony; for, thanks to a succession of wise and able governors, local crime has been reduced to a minimum; serious offences are very rare amongst the regular inhabitants. It is the criminal classes from the mainland which really give trouble, for Hong Kong labours under the disadvantage of being close to two large cities on the Pearl River—Canton and Fatchan, notorious for piratical and other criminal classes. You might send a child from one end of the town to the other without fear of molestation. Indeed, the natives themselves are the very best police; for, take the Chinese all round, they are the most orderly and law-abiding people in the world. They respect the British Government as much as the British people do themselves. They bring their families to Hong Kong, settle down there, and make themselves perfectly at home, finding more security and happiness there than they ever could attain in their own country; because in Hong Kong there is and has always been perfect equality before the law for every man, irrespective of race, colour, or nationality. The life and property of every man there is secure. This is not the case in China.

These are the fruits of commerce which brings peace and plenty in its train, which sweeps aside the dust of ignorance, fanaticism, and superstition—which has reclaimed the deserts of Australia and North America, and spread flourishing cities there, where law and order, truth and justice, peace and happiness, religion and piety are established. These are the achievements of British merchants who have won for our Sovereign the Imperial diadem she wears, and made their country the mistress of the world. These are the people who have done all this, and better still, made the name of England[Pg 35] honoured and respected throughout the whole world, and sent the Gospel into every land. Yet those very men Mr. Storrs Turner and other anti-opium fanatics would cover with obloquy, because, forsooth, some British merchants have been concerned in this perfectly justifiable Indo-Chinese opium trade.

Mr. Turner in his book speaks of the Chinese Government as a paternal Government, which, the moment it finds any practices on foot injurious to the people, at once takes steps to put them down. I tell you, as a fact, that a more corrupt Government,[2] so far at least as the Judges and high Mandarins downwards are concerned, never existed in the whole world. There is no such thing as justice to be had without paying for it; if it is not a misnomer to say so, for this so-called justice is bought and sold every day. Corruption pervades the whole official class. I could detail facts as to the punishment of the innocent and the escape of the guilty, which came under my own observation, that would make one’s flesh creep. This is why the Chinese of Hong Kong respect so much the British Government, whose rule is just and equitable.

Now there is another point which I wish more particularly to impress upon you, it is this: Anyone hearing of the alleged dreadful effects upon the Chinese of opium smoking, and our wicked conduct in forcing the drug upon them, and making them buy it whether they wish to do so or not, would think that these Chinese were a simple, unsophisticated people, something like the natives of Madagascar,—a people lately rescued from barbarism by missionaries; that they were a weak race, without mental stamina or strength of mind—a soft simple, easily-persuaded race. These are some more of the erroneous views which the Anti-Opium Society tries to impress upon the public mind, and which its[Pg 36] Secretary, Mr. Storrs Turner, in particular, artfully endeavours to inculcate. To prove that this is so, I have only to read you a passage from his work. But before doing so, let me assure you that there is not a more astute, active-minded, and knowing race of people under the sun than the Chinese. For craft and subtlety I will back one of them against any European. At page 3 you will read:—

More opium is consumed in China than in all the rest of the world, and nearly the whole of the opium imported into China is shipped from Calcutta and Bombay. The East and the West, England, India, and China, act and re-act upon each other through the medium of poppy-juice. Simple mention of the relations which these three great countries bear to the drug is enough to show that a very grave question is involved in the trade. England is the grower, manufacturer, and seller; India furnishes the farm and the factory; China is buyer and consumer. The question which obviously arises is this, Is it morally justifiable and politically expedient for the English nation to continue the production and sale of a drug so deleterious to its consumers? Before, however, we enter upon a consideration of this question, we must explain how it has come to pass that the British nation has got into this unseemly position. Otherwise, the fact that the British Government is actually implicated in such a trade may well appear incredible. If, for instance, any minister could be shameless enough to suggest that England should embark on a vast scale into the business of distillers, and with national funds, by servants of Government, under inspection and control of Parliament, produce and export annually ten or twenty millions’ worth of gin and whisky to intoxicate the populous tribes of Central Africa, he would be greeted by a general outcry of indignation. Yet the very thing which we scout as an imagination, we consent to as a reality. We are maintaining our Indian Empire by our profits as wholesale dealers in an article which, to say the best of it, is as bad as gin.

Now, is that a fair parallel? Is it honest or just to place the civilized, wise, and educated Chinese in the same category with the barbarous natives of Central Africa? This, I assure you is but a fair specimen of the misleading character of Mr. Turner’s book and an example of the teaching by which people are made the dupes of the Anti-Opium Society. This is the language which Mr. Storrs Turner applies to his country and countrymen to gratify himself and his fanatical followers. China, though a heathen, is a civilized nation. The civilization of the Chinese does not date from yesterday. When England was inhabited by painted savages, China was a civilized and flourishing Empire. When ancient Greece was struggling into existence, China was a settled nation, with a religion and with laws and literature[Pg 37] dating back to a period lost in the mist of ages. When Alexander, miscalled the Great, fancied he had conquered the world, and sighed that there was no other country to subdue, the mighty Empire of China, with its teeming millions, and a civilization far superior, taken altogether, to any that he had yet known, was a flourishing nation, and happily far away from the assaults of him and his conquering force. Five thousand years ago, as the Rev. Dr. Legge, the Professor of Chinese at Oxford, tells us, the Chinese believed in one God and had, in fact, a theology and a system of ethics known now as Confucianism, certainly superior to that of Greece or Rome. They had then and still have a written language of their own, in which the works of their sages and philosophers are recorded. There are books extant in that language for more than three thousand years ago. In a learned and very interesting book, written by Dr. Legge, entitled “The Religions of China,” it is shown that the Chinese, not only of to-day, but of five thousand years ago, were a great nation. Was it then, I again ask, honest or fair of the Rev. Storrs Turner, who is himself no mean Chinese scholar, to mislead his readers by making use of so forced and inapplicable a comparison? Can there, in fact, be any analogy whatever between the Indo-China opium trade, even supposing that the smoking of the drug were as deleterious to the system as is alleged, and sending whisky from England to the savages of Central Africa? No man could have known better than Mr. Turner that his simile was false and misleading, for he has lived in China for many years. An ordinary person reading that gentleman’s book would swallow this simile as one precisely in point, and end by feeling horrified at the iniquities we were perpetrating in China, which is, no doubt, the exact result that he looked for. I recently met a lady with whom I had been in correspondence for some time on professional business. In the course of conversation we happened to speak about opium, and the moment the subject was mentioned she turned up her eyes in horror and declared that she was ashamed of her country for the wrong it was inflicting upon the natives of China. Mr. Turner’s wonderful parallel between the civilized Chinese and the African savages had plainly produced its desired effect upon her. I very soon, however, undeceived her on the point, as I have since had the pleasure of doing with many[Pg 38] others labouring under the like delusions. I am sorry to say that it is with the gentler sex that our Anti-Opium fanatics make their most profitable converts. I honour those ladies for their fond delusion, which shows that their hearts are better than their heads; that their good intentions run in advance of them, and make them ready victims. Well, well, I trust their charity will soon be diverted into worthier channels. Unfortunately, the minds of many in England have become imbued with the same erroneous belief, which is entirely owing to the mischievous teaching of the Anti-Opium Society, and to the powerful machinery that this Society has available for disseminating its doctrines. I am sorry, indeed, to have to allude thus to Mr. Storrs Turner and his book, for I respect him as a clergyman, a scholar, and a gentleman; but I cannot avoid doing so, for certain it is that if you mean to refute Mahomedanism you cannot spare Mahomed or the Alkoran.

I have already told you something as to the character of the Chinese generally. I will now mention from authority some more specific characteristics of these people, because it is really important that you should thoroughly understand what manner of men these Chinese are, for that is a matter going to the root of the whole question. If I show you, as I believe I shall be able to do most conclusively, that the Chinese are as intelligent and as well able to take care of themselves as we are, with far more craft and subtlety than we possess, you will, I think, be slow to believe that they are silly enough to allow us to poison them with opium, as it is alleged we are doing. A stranger mixture of good and evil could hardly be met with than you will find in the Chinese—crafty, over-reaching, mendacious beyond belief, double-dealing, distrustful, and suspicious even of their own relations and personal friends; self-opinionated, vain, conceited, arrogant, hypocritical, and deceitful. That is the character that I give you of them; but it is the worst side of their nature, for they have many redeeming qualities. I will now place before you their character from another and a more competent authority. The Venble. John Gray, D.D., was, until recently, for about twenty-five years, Archdeacon of Hong Kong, but during the greater part, if not the whole of that time, he was the respected and faithful incumbent of the English Church at Canton, where he resided. Now[Pg 39] Dr. Gray, who is still in the prime of life, is a learned and able man; a keen observer of human nature; a sound, solid, sensible Churchman, and so highly esteemed for his excellent qualities, that I do not think any Englishman who ever lived in China has left a more honoured name behind him than he has. He mixed a great deal amongst the Chinese as well as amongst his own countrymen. He also travelled much in China, and there really could not be found a more competent authority as to the character of the Chinese people; and indeed as to all matters connected with China. In 1878 he published a valuable and trustworthy book.[3] It is not the production of a person who has merely made a flying visit to China; but it is the work of an old and sagacious English resident in that country, a profound thinker and observer, of a man who has studied deeply and made himself thoroughly acquainted with his subject. He says, at p. 15, vol. i.:—

Of the moral character of the people, who have multiplied until they are “as the sands upon the sea-shore,” it is very difficult to speak justly. The moral character of the Chinese is a book written in strange letters, which are more complex and difficult for one of another race, religion, and language to decipher than their own singularly compounded word-symbols. In the same individual virtues and vices apparently incompatible are placed side by side—meekness, gentleness, docility, industry, contentment, cheerfulness, obedience to superiors, dutifulness to parents, and reverence to the aged, are, in one and the same person, the companions of insincerity, lying, flattery, treachery, cruelty, jealousy, ingratitude, and distrust of others.

This is the character which an English clergyman and scholar gives of the Chinese. Dr. Gray was not a missionary, and it is to the missionary clergymen generally that the extraordinary and delusive statements respecting opium which I am combating are due; the reason for which I shall by and by give you. I hold these missionary gentlemen in the very highest respect. In their missionary labours they have my complete sympathy, and no person can possibly value them as such more than I do, nor be more ready than I am to bear testimony to the ability, piety, industry, and energy which they have always displayed. But they are not infallible, and when they forsake or neglect their sacred[Pg 40] functions, and enter the arena of politics; when they cast aside the surplice and enter the lists as political gladiators, they are liable to meet with opponents who will accept their challenge and controvert their views, and have no right to complain if they now and then receive hard knocks in the encounter. They are enthusiastic in their sacred calling; but that fact, whilst it does them honour, shows that their extraordinary assertions as to the opium trade should be received with caution, if not distrust. They are the men who are responsible for the unfounded views which have got abroad on this question.

Now, is it not significant that Dr. Gray, whom the people of Canton esteemed and respected more than any European who has lived amongst them, except, perhaps, the late Sir Brooke Robertson (who was more Chinese than the Chinese themselves), should have said nothing against opium in that valuable and exhaustive work of his? Is it not passing strange that this shrewd observer of men and manners, this intelligent English clergyman, who has passed all these years at Canton, which, next to Hong Kong is the great emporium of opium in the south of China, should be silent upon the alleged iniquities that his countrymen are committing in that country? Dr. Gray is a patriotic English gentleman. Can you suppose for a moment, that if we were demoralizing and ruining the people of the great city of Canton, and above all, that we were impeding the progress of the Gospel in China, that his voice would not be heard thundering against the iniquity? Dr. Gray is an earnest and eloquent preacher as well as an accomplished writer; yet his voice has been silent on this alleged national crime. Is it to be thought that, if there were any truth in the outcry spread abroad by Mr. Storrs Turner and the Anti-Opium Society, he would have omitted to have enlarged upon the wickedness of the opium trade when writing this book upon China and the manners and customs of the Chinese? Is it not remarkable that he has said not a word about that wickedness, and that all these alleged evils arising from the trade are only conspicuous in his book by their absence? And here I would ask, is not the silence of Dr. Gray on this important opium question, under all the circumstances, just as eloquent a protest against the anti-opium agitation, as if he had given a whole chapter in his book denouncing the imposture?

[Pg 41]But to return to the character of the Chinese. Dr. Wells Williams, a missionary clergyman of the highest character, who, being a missionary, I need hardly say, does not hold the views that I do, has written another admirable book upon China.[4] In it he has described the Chinese character very fully. He first tells us, at page 2 of the second volume, what one, Tien Kishi—a popular essayist—thinks of foreigners.

“I felicitate myself,” he says, “that I was born in China, and constantly think how different it would have been with me if I had been born beyond the seas in some remote part of the earth, where the people, far removed from the converting maxims of the ancient kings and ignorant of the domestic relations, are clothed with the leaves of plants, eat wood, dwell in the wilderness, and live in the holes of the earth. Though born in the world in such a condition, I should not have been different from the beasts of the field. But now, happily, I have been born in the ‘Middle Kingdom.’ I have a house to live in, have food and drink and elegant furniture, have clothing and caps and infinite blessings—truly the highest felicity is mine.”

That is still the opinion of every Chinaman respecting foreigners, save those at Hong Kong, Shanghai, and the other treaty ports of China who, having intermixed with foreigners, have found that their preconceived notions respecting them were untrue, but they are but a handful, a drop in the ocean; yet these are the people who, it is said, at our bidding and instigation, are ruining their prospects and their health by smoking our opium. Dr. Williams further says of them, at page 96 of the same volume:—

More ineradicable than the sins of the flesh is the falsity of the Chinese and its attendant sin of base ingratitude. Their disregard of truth has, perhaps, done more to lower their character in the eyes of Christendom than any other fault. They feel no shame at being detected in a lie, though they have not gone quite so far as to know when they do lie, nor do they fear any punishment from the gods for it. Every resident among them and all travellers declaim against their mendacity.

I shall give you by-and-by instances—actual facts known to myself, to prove that every word Dr. Williams has said is true; and further, that the Chinese will indulge in falsehood, not merely for gain or to carry out some corrupt purpose, but for the mere pleasure of romancing, or to[Pg 42] gratify and oblige a friend. Dr. Williams then goes on to moralize, and admits that the Chinese have a great many virtues as well as a great many very foul vices. Unquestionably they have a great many virtues, aye, and virtues of sterling character, and amongst these are commercial honour and probity. For commercial instincts and habits I place them next to the British. In their affection for their parents, their attachment to the family homestead, their veneration for the aged and the virtuous, they surpass every other nation. These are not the class of men to allow themselves to be befooled with opium. Another virtue they possess, and it is one very pertinent to the subject of this lecture, is abstemiousness; they are positively the most frugal, self-denying, and abstemious people on the face of the earth.

Not only are the Chinese abstemious in their use of opium, but also as regards alcoholic liquors. It is not, I think, generally known that there is a species of spirit manufactured, and extensively used throughout China, commonly called by foreigners “sam-shu.” It is very cheap, and there is no duty upon it in Hong Kong, nor is there any, I believe, in their own country. I suppose a pint bottle of it can be bought for a penny. It is a sort of whisky distilled from rice. The Chinese use it habitually, especially after meals, and I do not think there is a single foreign resident of Hong Kong, or any of the Treaty Ports, who does not know this fact. The practice in China is, for the servants of Europeans to go early to market each morning and bring home the provisions and other household necessaries required for the day’s use. I have seen, in the case of my own servants, the bottle of sam-shu brought home morning after morning as regularly as their ordinary daily food. Yet I never saw one of my servants drunk or under the influence of liquor. What is more than that, although sam-shu is so very cheap and plentiful, and is used throughout the whole of Hong Kong, I never saw a Chinaman drunk, nor ever knew of one being brought up before the magistrate for intemperance. I cannot say the same thing of my own countrymen. Does not that form the strongest possible evidence that the Chinese are an extremely steady and abstemious race? Yet these are the people whom Mr. Storrs Turner would put in the same category as the savages of Africa? Well, then, is it likely that a people so abstemious in respect of spirit drinking[Pg 43] would indulge to excess in opium, especially if the drug has the intoxicating and destructive qualities ascribed to it by the missionaries?

The Chinese, I have also said, are a very frugal people. Six dollars, or about twenty-four shillings of our money, per month are considered splendid wages by a coolie. On two dollars a month he can live comfortably. He sends, perhaps, every month, one or two dollars to his parents or wife in his native village; for generally a Chinaman, be he never so poor, has a wife, it being there a duty, if not an article of religion, for the males, to marry young. The remainder they hoard for a rainy day. Now, I say again, if the Chinese are such abstemious and frugal people, and that they are so is unquestionable, does not the same rule apply to opium as to spirits? The truth of the matter is, that it is a very inconsiderable number of those who smoke opium who indulge in it to any considerable extent—probably about one in five thousand. When a Chinaman’s day’s work is over, and he feels fatigued or weary, he will, if he can afford it, take a whiff or two of the opium pipe, seldom more. If a friend drops in he will offer him a pipe, just as we would invite a friend to have a glass of sherry or a cigar. This use of the opium pipe does good rather than harm. Those who indulge in it take their meals and sleep none the worse. The use of the pipe, indeed, wiles them from spirit drinking and other vicious habits. My own belief is that opium smoking exercises a beneficial influence upon those who habitually practise it, far more so than the indulgence in tobacco, which is simply a poisonous weed, having no curative properties whatever. I have seen here in England many a youth tremble and become completely unhinged by excessive smoking, so terrible is the effect of the unwholesome narcotic on the nervous system when it is indulged in to excess; indeed I have heard it often said that excessive indulgence in tobacco frequently produces softening of the brain: such a result has never proceeded from opium smoking.

I have stated in my programme of these lectures that the views put forward by the “Anglo-Oriental Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade” were based upon fallacies and false assumptions, which account for the many converts the advocates of that Society have made. I have now to[Pg 44] tell you what these fallacies and false assumptions are. In fact, these explain pretty clearly how it has come to pass that so many otherwise sensible, good, and benevolent people have been led astray on the opium question.

The first of these fallacies is, that the poppy is not indigenous to China, but has been recently introduced there, presumably by British agency. The truth being that the poppy is indigenous to China, as it admittedly is to Asia generally, and has been used in China for various purposes for thousands of years.

The second is, that opium smoking in China is now and always has been confined to a small per-centage of the population, but which, owing to the introduction into the country of Indian opium, is rapidly increasing. The fact being that the custom is, and for many centuries has been, general among the male adults throughout China, its use being limited only by the ability to procure the drug.

The third is, that opium smoking is injurious to the system, more so than spirit drinking. The truth being that the former is not only harmless but beneficial to the system, unless when practised to an inordinate extent, which is wholly exceptional; whilst spirit drinking ruins the health, degrades the character, incites its victims to acts of violence, and destroys the prospects of everyone who indulges to excess in the practice.

The fourth is, that the supply of opium regulates the demand, and not the demand the supply. When I come to consider this in detail, I think I shall rather surprise you by the statements in support of this extraordinary theory put forward by Mr. Storrs Turner in this wonderful book of his. The use of so utterly untenable a proposition shows to what extremes fanatical enthusiasts will resort in support of the hobby they are riding to death; how desperate men, when advocating a hopeless cause, will grasp at shadows to support their theories. When such persons wish a certain state of things to be true and existing, they never stop to scrutinize the arguments they use in support of them. If Mr. Storrs Turner had not opium on the brain to an alarming extent, and was writing by the light of reason and common sense, he would no more dream of putting forward such a theory than he would entertain the faintest hope of finding any person silly enough to believe in the doctrine.

[Pg 45]The fifth fallacy is, that opium smoking and opium eating are equally hurtful. The fact being that there is the widest difference in the world between the two practices, as I shall hereafter conclusively prove to you. Upon this point, I may tell you, that Mr. Storrs Turner, in the appendix to his book, gives numerous extracts from evidence taken on various occasions as to opium eating, which has no relevancy to opium smoking; not that I am even disposed to admit that even opium eating in moderation is a baneful practice, the medical evidence on the subject being at present very conflicting. And here I may appropriately say, that although an overdose of opium may cause death, the mere smoking of the drug in any quantity will not do so. No case of poisoning by opium smoking has ever been reported or heard of; such a thing, in fact, is a physical impossibility. I daresay this may surprise some people, but it is, nevertheless, an irrefragable fact.

The sixth is, that all, or nearly all, who smoke opium are either inordinate smokers or are necessarily in the way of becoming so, and that once the custom has been commenced it cannot be dropped; but the victim to it is compelled to go on smoking the drug to his ultimate destruction. That, I shall show you, upon the best evidence, is altogether untrue, thousands of Chinese having been to my knowledge habitual and occasional opium smokers, who showed no ill effects whatever from the practice, which, by the way, is far more easily discontinued than the use of alcoholic liquors.

The seventh is, that the Chinese Government is, or ever was, anxious to put a stop to the custom, or even to check the use, of opium amongst the people of China. This is one of the most ridiculous and unfounded notions that ever entered the mind of man. There is a saying that “none are so blind as those who will not see,” and here, I shall show you, is the strongest proof of the adage.

The eighth is, that the British merchants in China are making large fortunes by opium. The fact being that the Indo-China trade is profitable to a very few merchants only, whilst the British merchants as a body have no interest in the trade whatever. This is a pet fallacy of Mr. Storrs Turner, and he has shown throughout his book, and notably in his article in the “Nineteenth Century,” a determination to make the most of it. He has evidently persuaded himself[Pg 46] that some large English firms have made enormous fortunes by the drug, and he seems to have made up his mind never to forgive the enormity.

The ninth is, that the discontinuance of the supply of opium from British India would stop, or effectually check, the practice of opium smoking in China. The fact being that the suppression of the present Indo-China opium trade, if indeed it were possible to suppress it, would have precisely the contrary effect. I shall prove to you clearly, that if the Indo-China opium trade, as at present carried on, were put an end to, such an impetus would be given to the importation of opium into China as would enormously add to the consumption of the drug, and that then British and other merchants who have now no dealings in opium, would in such case become largely engaged in the trade; whilst opium smuggling, the cause of so much strife and unpleasantness in past times, would again become general upon the coast of China.

The tenth is, that the opposition of Chinese officials to the introduction of opium into China arose from moral causes. The fact being, as every sane man acquainted with China knows, that the true reason for such opposition was a desire to protect and promote the culture of native opium to keep out the foreign drug, and thus prevent the bullion payable for the latter from leaving the country.

Last, but by no means least, is the fallacy and fond delusion, that the introduction of Indian opium into China has arrested and is impeding the progress of Christianity in that country, and that if the trade were discontinued, the Chinese, or large numbers of them, would embrace the Gospel. The fact being, that opium smoking has had nothing whatever to do with the propagation of Christianity in China, any more than rice or Manchester goods, as I confidently undertake to show you when I come to deal more fully with this outrageous fallacy. I will only now observe that it is a remarkable fact, that while China is covered with a network of Roman Catholic missionaries, some of whom I had the pleasure of knowing quite intimately, I have never heard of a similar complaint having been made by any of them, but, on the contrary, have always known them to speak triumphantly of their great success in their missionary labours; but then it must be remembered that these Roman Catholic missionaries, greatly to their credit, throw their whole soul into[Pg 47] their work, and devote their whole time to their missionary labours, never mixing in politics or interfering with matters of State. These are the figments which have got hold of the Anti-Opium mind, from which has sprung the monstrosity put forward by the Anti-Opium Society. I shall, in future lectures, return to these fallacies, and dispose of each in turn.

I will close this lecture by giving you the testimony of a very high and entirely impartial authority as to the innocuous effects of opium, which strongly confirms all that I have already stated. The late John Crawfurd, F.R.S., was a savant of high reputation in England, throughout the East, and, I believe, in Europe. He was the contemporary and intimate friend of the late Sir Benjamin Brodie, the eminent surgeon. Mr. Crawfurd had, previous to 1856, been Governor of the three settlements of Singapore, Penang, and Malacca. He resided for a great number of years in the far East, studying there the country and people; he visited Siam, Java, Borneo, and the Phillipine Islands, making himself thoroughly acquainted with those places, the Malay peninsula, and various other countries in the Indian Ocean and China Sea. In 1820 he published, in London, “A History of the Indian Archipelago” (then comparatively but seldom visited by, and less known to, Europeans), a work, I understand, of considerable merit. Thirty-six years afterwards, that is, in the year 1856, having during the interval spent seven years in travelling through India and otherwise making himself perfectly acquainted with his subject, he published “A Dictionary of the Indian Islands and Adjacent Countries.” The book was brought out in London by the well-known firm of Bradbury and Evans, and I have it now before me. It was lent to me by a friend since the first edition of these lectures was published. It is an interesting and valuable volume, affording abundant evidence of the learning, research, vast information and talents, and the studious and energetic character of the writer. The book was published many years before this wonderful confederation “The Anglo-Oriental Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade” sprang into existence, and, indeed, before there was any considerable controversy upon the opium question. The opinions of this eminent man on the subject of opium should, therefore, be viewed as wholly unbiassed, for it is certain that he had no selfish[Pg 48] ends to gratify. Turning to the word “Opium” at page 313, we find the following:—

Opium is at present largely consumed in the Malayan Islands, in China, in the Indo-Chinese countries, and in a few parts of Hindustan, much in the same way in which wine, ardent spirits, malt liquor, and cider are consumed in Europe. Its deleterious character has been much insisted on, but generally, by parties who have had no experience of its effects. Like any other narcotic or stimulant, the habitual use of it is amenable to abuse, and as being more seductive than other stimulants, perhaps more so; but this is certainly the utmost that can be safely charged to it. Thousands consume it without any pernicious result, as thousands do wine and spirits, without any evil consequence. I know of no person of long experience and competent judgment who has not come to this common-sense conclusion. Dr. Oxley, a physician and a naturalist of eminence, and who has had a longer experience than any other man of Singapore, where there is the highest rate of consumption of the drug, gives the following opinion:—“The inordinate use, or rather abuse, of the drug most decidedly does bring on early decrepitude, loss of appetite, and a morbid state of all the secretions; but I have seen a man who had used the drug for fifty years in moderation, without any evil effects; and one man I recollect in Malacca who had so used it was upwards of eighty. Several in the habit of smoking it have assured me that, in moderation, it neither impaired the functions nor shortened life; at the same time fully admitting the deleterious effects of too much.” There is not a word of this that would not be equally true of the use and abuse of ardent spirit, wine, and, perhaps, even tobacco. The historian of Sumatra, whose experience and good sense cannot be questioned, came early to the very same conclusion. The superior curative virtues of opium over any other stimulant are undeniable, and the question of its superiority over ardent spirits appears to me to have been for ever set at rest by the high authority of my friend Sir Benjamin Brodie. “The effect of opium, when taken into the stomach,” says this distinguished philosopher, “is not to stimulate but to soothe the nervous system. It may be otherwise in some instances, but these are rare exceptions to the general rule. The opium eater is, in a passive state, satisfied with his own dreamy condition while under the influence of the drug. He is useless but not mischievous. It is quite otherwise with alcoholic liquors.”—“Psychological Inquiries,” p. 248.

It may be worth while to show what is really the relative consumption in those countries in which its use is alleged to be most pernicious. In the British Settlement of Singapore, owing to the high rate of wages, and the prevalence of a Chinese population, the consumption is at the rate of about three hundred and thirty grains, or adult doses, a year for each person. In Java, where the Chinese do not compose above one in a hundred of the population, and where wages are comparatively low, it does not exceed forty grains. Even in China itself, where the consumption is supposed to be so large, it is no more than one hundred and forty grains, chiefly owing to the poverty of the people, to whom it is for the most part inaccessible. It must not be forgotten, that some of the deleterious qualities of opium are considerably abated, in all the countries in question, by the manner in which it is prepared for use, which consists [Pg 49]in reducing it to a kind of morphine and inhaling its fumes in this state. Moreover, everywhere consumption is restricted by heavy taxation. The opium of India pays, in the first instance, a tax which amounts to three millions sterling. The same opium in Singapore, with a population of sixty thousand, pays another impost of thirty thousand pounds; and, in Java, with a population of ten millions, one of eight hundred thousand pounds. Not the use, then, but the abuse, of opium is prejudicial to health; but in this respect it does not materially differ from wine, distilled spirits, malt liquor, or hemp juice. There may be shades of difference in the abuse of all these commodities, but they are not easily determined, and, perhaps, hardly worth attempting to appreciate. There is nothing mysterious about the intoxication produced by ordinary stimulants, because we are familiar with it; but it is otherwise with that resulting from opium, to which we are strangers. We have generally only our imaginations to guide us with the last, and we associate it with deeds of desperation and murder; the disposition to commit which, were the drug ever had recourse to on such occasions, which it never is, it would surely allay and not stimulate.



[Pg 50]


I closed my first lecture with a list of fallacies, upon which the objections to the Indo-China opium trade, and the charges brought against England in relation to that trade, are founded, stating that I should return to them and dispose of each separately. I also said in the earlier part of my lecture, that the extraordinary hallucinations which had taken hold of the public mind, with respect to opium smoking in China, arose, amongst other causes, from the fact that the public had formed their opinions from hearsay evidence, and that of the very worst and most untrustworthy kind. I say untrustworthy because hearsay evidence, although in general inadmissible in our law courts, may be in some cases very good and reliable evidence. As this point goes to the root of all these fallacies and false assertions, and the delusions based upon them, I wish to show you why hearsay evidence is, in this case, of the worst and most unreliable kind. In the first instance, I would refer you to the general character of the Chinese for mendacity and deceit, admitted by all writers upon the subject of China and the Chinese, and supported by the general opinion of Europeans who have dwelt amongst them. Now, I am far from saying that every Chinaman is necessarily a liar, or habitually tells untruths for corrupt purposes. The point is, rather, that the Chinese do not understand truth in the sense that we do. The evidence of Chinese witnesses in courts of justice is notorious for its untrustworthy character. The judges are not generally contented with the direct and cross-examination to which witnesses are ordinarily subjected by counsel, but frequently themselves put them under a searching examination, and generally[Pg 51] require more evidence in the case of Chinese than they would if Europeans were alone concerned.

From my acquaintance of the Chinese I can say that they are a very good-natured people, especially when good-nature does not cost them much; but they are also a very vindictive people, as, I suppose, most heathen nations are. I have known cases where, to gratify private malice, or to obtain some object, the reason for which would be hard for us to appreciate, a Chinaman has got up a charge without foundation in fact, but supported by false witnesses, who were so well drilled and had so thoroughly rehearsed their parts that it was hard to doubt, and almost impossible to disprove, the accusation. By such means innocent men have been condemned and sentenced to severe punishments, or been unjustly compelled to pay large sums of money. I have, on the other hand, known cases which, according to the evidence brought before me, appeared perfectly clear and good in law; but on taking each witness quietly into my own office, and going through his evidence, the whole fabric would tumble down like a pack of cards; so that, although my client’s case might still be intrinsically good, the witnesses he brought in support of it knew nothing about it beyond what they had heard from others. It would turn out that they had been told this by one person, that by another, and so on, throughout the series of witnesses, not one of them would have any actual knowledge of the alleged facts. In cases like these there would probably be no corrupt motive whatever.

While upon this point I may allude to another peculiar phase in the Chinese character. They are so addicted to falsehood that they will embellish truth, even in cases where they have the facts on their own side. On such occasions they like to add to their story a fringe of falsehood, thinking, perhaps, that by doing so, they will make the truth stand out in brighter colours and appear more favourable in the eyes of the Court and the Jury. Another Chinese peculiarity is the following:—If you put leading questions to a Chinaman upon any particular subject, that is to say, if you interrogate him upon a point, and by your mode of doing so induce him to think that you are desirous of getting one particular kind of answer, he gives you that answer accordingly, out of mere good-nature. In these instances his imagination is[Pg 52] wonderfully fertile. The moment he finds his replies afford pleasure, and that there is an object in view, he will give his questioner as much information of this kind as he likes. Not only is this the case with the common people, corresponding to the working or the labouring classes here, but the habit really pervades the highest ranks of Chinese society. It is mentioned in Dr. Williams’s work, how the Chinese as a people think it no shame in being detected in a falsehood. It is very hard to understand, especially for an Englishman, such moral obtuseness. We are so accustomed to consider truth in the first place, and to look upon perjury and falsehood with abhorrence, that it may seem almost like romancing to gravely assure you of these facts.

If I relate a few short anecdotes which are absolutely true, and in which I was personally concerned, I may put the matter more clearly before you. A Chinese merchant, now in Hong Kong, once instructed me to prosecute a claim against a ship-master for short delivery of cargo, and from the documents he gave me, and the witnesses he produced, I had no hesitation in pronouncing his case a good one, although I knew the man was untruthful. When we came into court, knowing my client’s proclivities, my only fear was that he would not be content with simply telling the truth, but would so embellish it with falsehood that the judge would not believe his story. I therefore not only cautioned him myself in “pidgin English,” but instructed my Chinese clerk and interpreter to do so also. My last words to him on going into court were, “Now mind you talkee true. Suppose you talkee true you win your case. Suppose you talkee lie you losee.” The man went into the witness-box, and I am bound to say that on that occasion he did tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, but I could plainly see by his manner and bearing that the task was a most irksome one. When he left the box, after cross-examination, I felt greatly relieved. The defendant, who, I am glad to say, was not an Englishman, although he commanded a British ship, told falsehood after falsehood. There could be no doubt about this, and the judge, Mr. Snowden, the present Puisne Judge of Hong Kong, at last ordered him to leave the box, and gave judgment for my client. Notwithstanding this satisfactory result, I saw that the plaintiff was still dissatisfied. I left the court and he[Pg 53] followed me out. He still seemed discontented, and had the air of an injured man. When we got clear of the court he actually assailed me for having closed his mouth and deprived him of the luxury of telling untruths. “What for,” said he, “you say my no talkee lie? that man have talkee plenty lie.” I replied, “Oh, that man have losee; you have won.” But with anger in his countenance, he walked sullenly away.

Now I will tell you another—and a totally different case. The judge on this occasion was the late Sir John Smale, Chief Justice of Hong Kong. It was an action brought by a Chinese merchant, carrying on business in Cochin China, against his agent in Hong Kong, a countryman of his, who had not accounted for goods consigned to him for sale. The plaintiff put his case in my hands. When it came into court the defendant was supported by witnesses who seemed to have no connection whatever with the subject-matter of the suit. They, however, swore most recklessly. In cross-examination one of the witnesses completely broke down. The Chief Justice then stopped the case, and characterized the defendant’s conduct “as the grossest attempt at fraud he had ever met with since he had come to China,” and, under the special powers he possessed, sent the false witness to gaol for six weeks. The person so punished for perjury proved to be what we would call a Master of Arts. He was, in fact, an expectant mandarin, ranking very high in China. I should tell you that in that country there is no regular hereditary nobility, nor any aristocracy save the mandarin or official class. The fact is, and in view of Mr. Storrs Turner’s comparison of the Chinese with the savages of Central Africa, I may here mention it, that in China—where these simple, innocent “aborigines,” as it suits the anti-opium advocates to treat them, flourish—education is the sole criterion of rank and precedence. They have a competitive system there, which is undoubtedly the oldest in the world. This man, as I said, was a Master of Arts, and would, in regular course, have been appointed to an important official post and taken rank as a mandarin. He was, I believe, at the time of his sentence, one of the regular examiners at the competitive examinations of young men seeking for employment in the Civil Service of the Empire. When the case ended, I dismissed it from my mind. But, to my great surprise, six or[Pg 54] seven of the leading Chinamen of Hong Kong waited upon me on the following day, and implored of me to get this man out of gaol. They declared that the whole Chinese community of Hong Kong felt degraded at having one of their superior order, a learned Master of Arts, consigned to a foreign prison. They assured me that this was the greatest indignity that could have been offered to the Chinese people. I replied that the fact of the prisoner being a man of education only aggravated his offence, that he had deliberately perjured himself in order to cheat my client, and that the foreign community considered his punishment far too lenient, for had he been a foreigner he would have got a far more severe punishment. But they could not see the matter in that light, and went away dissatisfied. They afterwards presented a petition to the Governor, praying for the man’s release, but without success. My object in narrating this to you is to show the utter contempt which the Chinese, not only of the lower orders, but of the better class, have for the truth. I could supplement these cases by many others, all showing that the Chinese do not regard the difference between truth and falsehood in the sense that we do.

To illustrate more clearly what I have told you, I will read to you a short passage from a leading article in the “China Mail,” a daily newspaper published in Hong Kong. The date of the paper is the 3rd of October 1881. The editor is a gentleman who has been out there for twenty years; he is a man of considerable ability and knows the Chinese character perfectly, and I may also mention that he is a near relative of Mr. Storrs Turner. This is what he says:—

The question of the reliability of Chinese witnesses is one which is continually presenting itself to all who have anything to do with judicial proceedings in this colony, and as jurors are usually saddled with the responsibility of deciding how far such evidence is to be credited in most serious cases, the subject is one which appeals to a large body of residents. An eminent local authority, some time since, gave it as his opinion that he did not think a Chinese witness could give accurate evidence, even if the precise truth would best suit his purpose. This is doubtless true to some extent, and it bears directly on one phase of the discussion, viz. that of reliableness, so far as strict accuracy of detail is concerned. But a witness may be regarded as the witness of truth although he fails in that extremely precise or accurate narration of facts and details which goes so far to strengthen truthful testimony. What is meant here by reliability of witnesses, however, is their desire to tell what they believe to be the truth. It has been somewhere said, by one of authority[Pg 55] on Chinese matters, that it is not particularly surprising that the Chinese, as a people, are so widely known as economisers of the truth, when their system of government is carefully considered. For a Chinaman, life assumes so many phases, in which a good round lie becomes a valuable commodity, that the only surprise remaining is, that he is ever known to tell the truth.

That is exactly what I have already said. It would occupy too much time to read the rest of the article, which is ably written, but the portion I have quoted tends to show the unreliability of Chinese witnesses, even in a solemn Court of Justice.

Now, I think, I have shown you that our Celestial friends present rather an unpromising raw material from which to extract the truth. Yet these are the men from whom the missionaries derive their information as to those wonderful consequences from opium smoking which, the more greedily swallowed, are the more liberally supplied, thus affording an illustration of Mr. Storrs Turner’s extraordinary theory of supply and demand, of which I shall have to speak more by and by. Having exhibited to you the well of truth from which credible evidence is sought to be obtained, I have now to turn to the other side of the question and describe the character and competence of those who draw their facts from that source, and from whom the general public have mainly derived their knowledge of opium and opium smoking.

As regards the missionaries, I have stated already that I hold them in the very highest respect, and they are well deserving of it, and, indeed, of the consideration of the whole community. Were I to state anything to their prejudice or disadvantage, further than what I assert as to their fallacious views and unjustifiable conduct on the opium question, I should certainly be speaking without warrant; for a more respectable, hard-working, or conscientious body of gentlemen it would be difficult to find. Perhaps they are the hardest worked and worst paid class of any foreigners in China. They have a work to perform, the difficulty of which is but partially understood in this country; that is, the task of converting to Christianity these heathen people, who think Confucianism and the other religions engrafted upon it which they follow, and which seem to suit their temperament, immeasurably superior to ours; who point to our prophets and sages as men of yesterday, and look with[Pg 56] comparative contempt upon our literature, laws, and customs. The real difficulty of the situation lies in these facts; believe me, that it is as absurd as it is untrue to say that opium has had anything to do with the slow progress of Christianity in China. Missionary clergymen in China are really not the best men to get at the facts of the opium question. If a foreigner, here in England, were to ask me in which quarter he would be likely to obtain the best information regarding the manners and customs of the English people, I should certainly advise him to get introductions to some of our working clergy of all denominations, because they are the people’s trusted friends and advisers, sharing in their joys and sympathizing in their sorrows, their wants and necessities. They are educated and matter-of-fact men, just the class of persons to afford sound and accurate information as to the country and people. This, I believe, will be generally admitted. The same rule would not apply to our missionary clergymen in China; for they, unlike our clergy at home, are not the trusted friends and advisers of the Chinese people, and, knowing really very little of the inner life of the people, cannot be said to sympathize in their wants and necessities. No doubt there have been some admirable books written on China by missionary clergymen, such as the “Middle Kingdom,” from which I have already quoted, and Dr. Doolittle’s work; but everyone who has lived long in China takes all their statements on every point affecting their missionary labours, and upon many other matters also, cum grano. So far as the manners and customs of the Chinese can be understood from their outdoor life, literature, and laws, they are competent judges enough; but as they are not admitted into Chinese society, and do not possess the confidence of the people, they cannot be accepted as authorities on the inner social life of the natives, so far as regards opium-smoking. They have not at all the same status as regards the Chinese that English clergymen have in respect to their own countrymen here in England; and if a friend were to put such a question to me respecting China and the Chinese, the last people I would refer him to for information would be the missionary clergymen. These missionary gentlemen, if they were at home in England, would, no doubt, have their livings and vicarages, and would take their place with the regular clergy of the country. But in[Pg 57] China things are totally different. There the people not only despise them, but laugh at the creed they are trying to teach. The simplicity of the Gospel is too cold for them. Teeming with the marvellous as their own religions do, no other creed seems acceptable to them that does not deal in startling miracles and offer a continuous supply of supernatural feats. Anyone who reads Dr. Legge’s book, on the religions of China, will see this at once. The Chinese have an accepted belief three or four thousand years older than Christianity, and they are well aware of the fact. Despising Europeans, as they do, and looking upon themselves as a superior race, it is not likely that the Chinese will take missionary clergymen into their confidence, or afford them any trustworthy information about private or personal matters. In short, there is no cordiality between the Chinese and the missionaries.

Still our Chinese friends are a very polite people, and no doubt they are and will continue to be outwardly very civil to missionaries, and, although they may consider them impudent intruders, will give courteous answers to their questions; but it does not follow that they will give true answers. A respectable Chinaman, such as a merchant, a shopkeeper, or an artizan, would consider himself disgraced among his own community if it were known that he had embraced Christianity, or even entertained the thought of doing so. I do not think that, long as I was in China, I had a single regular Chinese client who was a Christian. All my native clients—merchants, shopkeepers, clerks, artizans, and coolies, and I have had professional dealings with thousands of them—were heathens. In very rare instances Chinese professing Christianity will be found holding respectable positions; but, I regret to say, I do not believe that any of such people are sincere. I had myself a clerk in my office for about twelve years; he was a young man educated at St. Paul’s College, in Hong Kong. The College is now closed, but when in existence the pupils there got an excellent education, and were also well clothed and fed. They were not only taught Chinese, as is the case in Chinese schools, but also to read and speak English well. When he went to the school he was not more than seven or eight years old, and left it probably when he was fourteen or fifteen. He was an excellent clerk, a highly[Pg 58] intelligent young fellow, and wrote and spoke English well. Now, if ever there were a case where a lad might be expected to be a sincere convert this was the one. He had been strictly brought up as a Christian, went to church, and read the Bible regularly, and, indeed, was far more kindly treated in the College than English lads are in many schools in this country. Even that boy was not a sincere convert.

When about eighteen years of age he got married, as is the custom with the youth of China. On informing me of his intention, he asked me to procure from the Superintendent of Police the privilege of having “fire crackers” at his wedding, a heathen custom, supposed to drive away evil spirits. I reminded him that I had always believed him a Christian; when he said, “Oh! it’s a Chinese custom.” However, I got him the privilege. But instead of being solemnized in the church, which he had been in the habit of attending when a pupil in St. Paul’s College, according to the rites of the Church of England, his marriage ceremony was celebrated in Chinese fashion, a primitive proceeding, and certainly heathen in its form. He never went near the church at all. A few days afterwards I remarked to him that he had not been married in the church. He laughed, and said, “that as he and his wife were Chinese they could only be married according to Chinese custom.”

Let me give another story in point. I knew a man in Hong Kong who, owing to the difficulty of finding suitable natives who understood English, was for a long time the only Chinese on the jury list. He spoke English fairly well. He was educated at a school presided over by the late Rev. Dr. Morrison, the learned sinologue, who had lived in Hong Kong before my time. His school was an excellent one, and had turned out some very good scholars. I have seen this man go into the jury-box, and often too, into the witness-box, and take the Bible in his hand and kiss it ostentatiously. I used to think he was a sincere Christian, and was glad to see so respectable a Chinaman (for he held a responsible position in a bank) acknowledge in public that he was a Christian. But that man, I afterwards discovered from the best possible authority, was at heart a heathen; he always had idols, or, as we call them, “Josses,” in his house. He also was a Christian in name, and nothing more.

[Pg 59]There was another man educated in Dr. Morrison’s school. Dr. Legge knew him very well, and was a sort of patron of his. I suppose it is pretty well known that polygamy is a custom in China, and that it is quite an exception for a Chinese in any decent position there not to have three, four, or more wives; the more he has the greater his consequence among his countrymen. This man, as a matter of fact, had three wives, and when his so-called first wife died, he was in a great fright lest Dr. Legge should discover that he had two more wives, for it is customary that the other wives should attend the funeral of the first as mourners. Now these are the sort of converts, for the most part, to be met with in China. As a rule, they are far less honest and more untruthful than their heathen countrymen, and many Europeans in consequence will not take converts into their service. In proof of this statement I will here give you an extract from a very able article which appeared in the “Hong Kong Daily Press,” an old and well conducted newspaper, of the 31st October 1882. This is it:—

They [the missionaries] secure some adherence to the Christian religion, no doubt, but what is the value of the Christianity? It possesses, so far as we have been able to judge, neither stamina nor backbone. Foreigners at Hong Kong, and at the Treaty Ports, fight shy of Christian servants, a very general impression existing that they are less reliable than their heathen fellows; and with regard to the Christians in their own villages and towns, there is always a suspicion of interested motives.

Are these Chinese converts the class of the Chinese from which truth is to be gleaned? Is the testimony of such people of the slightest value? Yet these are the persons from whom the missionaries derive their knowledge of opium smoking and its alleged baneful effects. I venture to say that among all the so-called Christian converts in China you will not find five per cent. who are really sincere—all the rest profess Christianity to obtain some personal advantage. These so-called converts are generally people from the humblest classes, because, as I have mentioned, people of the better class, such as merchants, shopkeepers, and tradesmen, not only consider their own religion superior to the Christian’s creed, but they would be ashamed to adopt Christianity, as they would thus be disgraced and make themselves appear ridiculous in the eyes of their[Pg 60] neighbours; and they are a people peculiarly sensitive to ridicule. I will not say that there are not some true converts to be found among Chinese congregations; if there are none, the missionary clergymen are certainly not to blame, for they are indefatigable in their exertions to make converts, proving also by their blameless lives the sincerity of their professions. As I have said, the difficulty attending their efforts is enormous. It must be remembered that in China we are not teaching Christianity to the poor African, or the semi-civilised native of Madagascar or the Fiji Islands; but that we are dealing with civilized men, who consider their own country and literature, customs and religion, far superior to those of England or of any other country in the world. The Chinese are so convinced of this, that the very coolies in the streets consider themselves the superiors of the foreign ladies and gentlemen that pass, or whom, perhaps, they are carrying in their sedan chairs.

I hold the missionaries altogether responsible for the hallucination that has taken possession of the public mind on the opium question. With the Bible they revere in their hands, they think the Chinese should eagerly embrace the doctrine it inculcates, and, unable to account for their failure, they readily accept the subterfuge offered by certain Chinese for not accepting Christianity or attending to their teaching. They feel that it is, or may be, expected of them in this country, that they should have large congregations of native proselytes, such as, I believe, the missionaries have in Madagascar, and in like places, forgetting that no parallel can be drawn between such races and the Chinese. The Protestant missionary clergymen in China are, not unnaturally, anxious to account for their supposed failure in that large and heathen country. They would not be human if they were not. The better class of Chinese, as I have said, will not listen to a missionary, or argue with him. They do not want to hear lectures on Christianity, and grow impatient at any disparaging remark about their own religion. They simply say, “We have a religion that is better than yours, and we mean to stick to it.” The missionaries, however, think they ought to have better success. They are, no doubt, indefatigable in their labours, and as they do not meet with the results that ought, they consider, to follow from their labours, and as their sanguine minds[Pg 61] cling to any semblance of excuse for their shortcomings, they accept the stale and miserable subterfuge, to the use of which their converts are prompted by the Mandarins, that the Indo-China opium trade is vicious, and that before Christianity is accepted by the country, the trade in question must be abolished. This transparent evasion of the Chinese appears to me to bear too strong a family likeness to the famous “confidence trick,” with which the police reports now and then make us acquainted, to be entertained for a moment.

The Chinese, knowing the weakness of the missionaries, play upon it; and one of the best instances I can give you that they are successful is this:—They tell them that the Chinese Government objects to the opium trade upon moral grounds; but it never occurs to the missionaries to retort and say, “If so, why does your Government not prevent the cultivation of opium throughout China? In the provinces of Yunnan and Szechuen, and all over the Empire, indeed, enormous crops of opium are raised every year; why does not your Government, knowing, as you say, that the effects of opium are so fatal, put a stop to the growth of the deleterious drug?” This question would prove rather a difficult one to answer, though the Mandarins, skilful casuists as they are, would no doubt invent some specious one which might impose upon their interrogators. The mental vision of our missionary friends is so limited to one side only of the question, that even here they might be taken in by the astute natives. It is only of late that the Chinese Government has taken up the moral objection, and the reason, I believe, it has done so is because it has found out the weak side of the missionaries, probably through The Friend of China, published at Shanghai.

When it is taken into account that of late years the average quantity of Indian opium imported into China is about one hundred thousand chests, each of which, for all practical purposes, may be called a hundredweight, and that the price of each of these chests landed in China is about seven hundred dollars, and that the whole works up to something like sixteen millions sterling, the strong objection of the Mandarin classes to allow such a large amount of specie to leave the country becomes intelligible. Rapacious plunderers as they are, they see their prey escaping them before their very[Pg 62] eyes, and are powerless to snatch it back. These sixteen millions, they think, would be all fair game for “squeezing” if we could only keep them at home. For although China is an immense empire, with great natural resources, it is still a poor country as regards the precious metals. No doubt an economist would tell these Mandarins: “It is true we sell you all this opium, but then we give you back again all the money you pay for it, with a great deal more besides, for the purchase of your tea and silk.” But a Mandarin would only laugh at such an argument. “Ah,” he would say, “you must have tea and silk in any case; you can’t do without them. We want to get hold of your silver and give you none of ours in return.” That is the true cause, or one of the true causes, of the objection of the Government of China to the importation into that country of Indian opium.

The missionaries, or at all events the greater number of them, have adopted the view, that if they could only put a stop to the importation of Indian opium into China the evangelization of the country would be a question of time only; and in one sense, indeed, this would be true; but the time would not be near, but very distant. The Chinese have a keen sense of humour, and if the British would allow themselves to be cajoled by the specious arguments with which the religious world here is constantly regaled about the opium question, so far as to put a stop to the traffic, such a feeling of contempt for English common sense, and in consequence for the religion of Englishmen, would ensue, that the spread of the Gospel in China would be greatly retarded indeed. The truth about opium is so clear to those who trust to the evidence of their senses, and who look at facts from a plain common sense point of view, that they cannot for a moment see that there is any connection whatever between opium and Christianity. It seems to me that those gentlemen who adopt the anti-opium doctrine, and scatter it abroad, are only comparable to the monomaniac, who, sane upon every subject but one, is thoroughly daft upon that. No better example of this can I give you than by referring to a speech made by a gentleman deservedly respected by the community, whom I have always considered as one of the hardest-headed men sitting in the House of Commons, possessing sound common sense upon all subjects save that of opium. I refer to Sir J. W. Pease, the Member for South[Pg 63] Durham. In the year 1881 the usual anti-opium debate came on in the House of Commons. Sir J. W. Pease delivered a speech on the occasion denunciatory of the Indo-China trade, in the course of which he referred to the treaty recently made between China and America, one of the clauses of which provides that American ships shall not import opium into China, and that no Chinaman shall be allowed to import opium into America, where there is a large Chinese population, especially in San Francisco. The treaty relates to other matters, and this clause is, so to speak, interpolated into it, for a purpose I shall now explain. It was intended to appear as a sort of quid pro quo, for whilst America, in fact, gave up nothing, though she affected to do so, she obtained some commercial advantages by the treaty. This is the clause:—

The Governments of China and of the United States mutually agree and undertake that Chinese subjects shall not be permitted to import opium into any of the ports of the United States; and citizens of the United States shall not be permitted to import opium into any of the open ports of China. This absolute prohibition, which extends to vessels owned by the citizens or subjects of either Power, to foreign vessels employed by them or to vessels owned by the citizens or subjects of either Power, and employed by other persons for transportation of opium, shall be enforced by appropriate legislation on the part of China and the United States, and the benefits of the favoured claims in existing treaties shall not be claimed by the citizens or subjects of either Power as against the provisions of this article.

I happened to be weather-bound in Rome when I first read, in a Hong Kong paper, that amusing and deceptive treaty, which was made in 1880. Knowing thoroughly the situation, and all the facts connected with the Indo-China opium trade, I undertake to assure you that so far, at least, as regards this opium clause, that treaty was simply a farce. With the single exception of a line of mail packet steamers between Hong Kong and San Francisco, America has few or no steamers trading in the China seas. She has protected her mercantile marine so well that she has now very little occasion for exercising her protection. She has no vessels trading between India and China, and never has had any, and, as a matter of fact, no American ships carry one ounce of opium between India or China, or to the port of Hong Kong, or have carried it for many years, if, indeed, any American vessel has ever done so. Nor is there, indeed,[Pg 64] at present the slightest probability that her ships will ever convey opium between India and China. America, in fact, might, with as much self-denial, have undertaken not to carry coals to Newcastle as Indian opium to China. There are regular lines of British steamers plying between the ports of Bombay, Calcutta, and Hong Kong, by which all Indian opium for the China trade is carried direct to its destination.

I declare that anything more absurd, deceptive, and dishonest never formed the subject of an international treaty. The whole affair was so utterly false and misleading that the first thing I did after reading the treaty was to cut it out from the newspaper and forward it, with an explanatory letter, to the “Times,” the usual refuge of the aggrieved Briton. This deceptive clause was intended simply to mislead the simple, benevolent, good-natured John Bull, already, as the framers of the treaty no doubt supposed, half-crazed on the anti-opium movement. A better specimen of American smartness and Chinese astuteness could hardly be conceived than this crafty and fallacious clause. America has no opium to sell or import, and can, therefore, afford to be extremely generous on the point. It is just possible, however, that at a future day opium may be produced in the South-Western States, in which case the American Government—I will not say the American people, for I hold them in great respect—will endeavour to wriggle out of this precious treaty, just as they are now trying to do as regards the Panama convention with this country, when the possibility that gave rise to it is likely to become a reality. The stipulation that Chinese subjects should not be permitted to import opium into any of the ports of the United States is of course absolute nonsense. If the American Government had really intended to prohibit opium from being imported from China, or elsewhere, into their country they should not have confined the prohibition to Chinese subjects, but have extended it to all nationalities; in fact, to have made opium, save for medical purposes, contraband. To explain this point more clearly, you will remember what I have mentioned before, that the exclusive right to manufacture crude opium into the form used for smoking, called in China “prepared opium,” is farmed out. The present farmer pays the Government of Hong Kong two hundred and five thousand dollars, or forty thousand pounds a year for the monopoly. The reason why[Pg 65] he pays so large a sum for this privilege is because of the facilities it affords him for exporting it to other places, and not merely to get the exclusive right of preparing and selling the drug in Hong Kong, for if that were all the benefit to be derived from the monopoly he would not give so large a rent for it. The greater source of profit arises from the circumstance that the Chinese must have the beloved stimulant wherever they roam. If you go to Australia, the Philippine Islands, the Straits, Borneo, or the town of Saigon in French Cochin China, or wherever else dollars are to be made, you will find Chinese in abundance. Go to the South Seas, go to the Sandwich or the Fiji Islands, you will discover the Chinese happy and prosperous, and you will always see in their houses the opium pipe. The advantage of having the exclusive privilege in Hong Kong of preparing and selling opium consists in this, that it is the terminus of an American line of steamers which ply between that port and San Francisco. It is also the port from which British lines of steamers run to Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. These packets always take with them consignments of prepared opium ready for smoking, because at these places there are large and well-to-do Chinese communities who can afford to indulge in the national luxury of opium smoking. I have already told you that I was for about ten years solicitor for that opium firm, and I happen to know a great deal about the prepared opium trade through that medium. The Chinese in California, where there is an immense number of those people, do not consume less, I should say, in the course of a year than one hundred thousand pounds worth of prepared opium. As is the case in Hong Kong, the Chinese have better means to buy the drug there than they would have at home. They get high wages, keep shops, are excellent tradesmen, and can live and make money where a European would starve. They are all, in fact, well-to-do, and wherever a Chinaman has the money he must have his opium pipe. Therefore the privilege of supplying the Chinese in California, Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, and in the South Sea Islands, where are large China colonies, is enjoyed by the opium farmer of Hong Kong, because he has the means of shipping the drug by steamers direct to those places, thus out-distancing all other competitors.[Pg 66] This trade, notwithstanding that wonderful treaty, is still going on, and not one ounce of opium less than was shipped before its ratification is now being carried to San Francisco, and in American bottoms too, for the treaty only says that no Chinaman shall import opium into America; there is no prohibition against Americans or Europeans doing so. What the opium farmer now does, if indeed he has not always done so, is to get an American or other merchant in Hong Kong to ship the drug for him in his own name, handing him, the opium farmer, the bill of lading. The opium is accordingly shipped in the name of Brown, Jones, or Robinson, and on its arrival at San Francisco the opium farmer’s consignee takes possession of it, and it is distributed by him among his countrymen in that flourishing city.

If Sir J. W. Pease were not an enthusiast, ready to swallow without hesitation everything which seems to tell against the opium traffic, and to disbelieve everything said or written on the other side of the question, he would have seen through all this as a matter of course. This is what he said about the treaty in the speech I have referred to, having first delivered a philippic on the enormities and terrible wickedness of the traffic:—

Only last year a treaty was entered into between the United States and China, and one of the articles of that treaty distinctly stated that the opium trade was forbidden, and that no American ship should become an opium trader—a fact which showed that the Chinese authorities were honest in their expressed desire to put an end to the trade.

Sir J. W. Pease is the most confiding of men; to my mind the treaty should be construed in a very different sense. Sometimes, when we want to convey our sentiments to another, we do so indirectly. There is a very well understood method of attaining that object. Instead of opening your mind to Mr. Jones, who is the object of your intended edification, you will in Mr. Jones’s presence address your remarks to Mr. Brown; but in reality, although you are speaking to the latter, you are speaking at the former. Now the whole object of this precious article of the treaty was to play a similar piece of finesse. Both nations well understood what they were about; they were simply trying to hoodwink and make fools of John Bull by putting into the[Pg 67] treaty this false and hypocritical clause, which, as between themselves, each party well knew meant nothing to the other. Here is Sir J. W. Pease, a sensible and astute man of business, with his eyes open, yet, blinded by his good nature and anti-opium prejudice, falling into the trap set for him, and allowing himself to be deceived by this transparent piece of humbug, and quoting in the House of Commons this “bogus” treaty as evidence that the Indo-China opium trade is so infamous that the American Government intended, so far as they were concerned, to put a stop to it, and that the Chinese Government wish to abolish it on moral grounds. I give you this as an example of the lengths to which otherwise sensible gentlemen will go when smitten with opium-phobia, and how oblivious they become under such circumstances to actual facts. Imagine how his Excellency Li Hung Chang, that very able Chinese statesman, and those smart American diplomatists who have thus posed as anti-opium philanthropists, must have enjoyed the fun of being able to so completely bamboozle an English member of Sir J. W. Pease’s reputation!

Now, although I have exposed this Americo-Chinese juggle, I am far from meaning to cast the slightest imputation upon Sir J. W. Pease, whose personal character I in common with the whole country hold in the very highest respect. I am well assured that in bringing forward his motion in the House of Commons he was actuated by a sense of duty, and the very purest motives, and that in referring to the treaty in question he fully believed in its bona fides; upon this point I am at one with his warmest admirers. No one deservedly stands higher as a philanthropist and Christian gentleman, and, save as regards this opium delusion, no man has ever made a nobler use of an ample fortune than he.

I may speak in the same terms of the venerable and universally-respected nobleman who is the president of the Anti-Opium Society, whose whole life has been devoted to the welfare of his fellow men, especially those who stood most in need of his help. I referred in the first edition of this lecture to a Most Reverend Prelate, honoured and beloved both by his own countrymen, and, I believe, the whole Christian world, who is also, I deeply deplore, a believer in the anti-opium delusion, but in doing so nothing was farther from my intentions than to lay aside for a moment the[Pg 68] respect that was due to him as a man and a high dignitary of the church. I revere and honour him and admire his great and noble qualities as much as any man living. Born and brought up as I have been in the Church of England, and sincerely attached to its doctrine and teaching, having near and dear relatives, too, ministers of that church, the last thing I would be capable of doing is to harbour an unkind thought, or utter a disrespectful word, against any of her clergy, much less one of her most honoured prelates. These three good and upright men are, I am sorry to say, but types of a great many other most estimable people, many of them ornaments to their country, who through the purity and overflowing goodness of their hearts, have been dragged into the vortex of delusion set afloat by the Anti-Opium Society—who allow themselves to be cajoled and victimised—led by the nose, in fact, by anti-opium fanatics, who, cunning as the madman and perfectly regardless of the means they resort to in the prosecution of what they consider right, bring to their aid the zeal of the missionary and the power for mischief which superior education and mis-directed talents confer. This is what rouses one’s indignation and compels me to pursue the unpleasant task of discrediting and otherwise painfully referring to men whom, apart from this wretched opium delusion, I honour and respect.

Upon this point I cannot refrain from referring to a gentleman of high standing, who had formerly been in China, and really ought to have known better. That gentleman went so far as to write a letter to the “Times,” in which he said that out of one hundred missionaries in China there was not one who would receive a convert into his church until he had made a vow against opium smoking. Bearing in mind that all these so-called converts made by these one hundred missionaries belong for the most part to the very poor, if not to the dregs of the people, I should think no missionary clergyman would find much difficulty in obtaining such a pledge. He has only to ask and to have. If a clergyman in a very poor neighbourhood in the East End of London proposed to his congregation that they should promise never to drink champagne, he would receive such a pledge without difficulty from one and all; but if any kind person were afterwards to give them a banquet of[Pg 69] roast beef and plum-pudding, with plenty of champagne to wash those good things down, I am afraid their vow would be found to be very elastic.

So it is with the congregations of these missionary clergymen; there is not an individual amongst them who would refuse to enjoy the opium pipe if he got the chance, however much they might declaim against the practice to please the missionary. Opium, as the missionaries must well know, is a luxury that can only be indulged in by those who have the means of paying for it. Now, while twopence or threepence may appear to us a very insignificant sum, such will not be the opinion of a very poor person. Threepence will purchase a loaf of bread. So it is with the Chinese, especially those residing in their own territory. There is only one class of coin current in China. It is known by Europeans as “cash.” Ten should equal a cent, or a halfpenny, but owing to the inferiority of the metal they are made of, twelve or thirteen usually go to make one cent of English money, so that ten cents, or fivepence of our money, would be about one hundred and thirty cash. A poor Chinaman possessing that sum would think that he had got hold of quite a pocketful of money, and so it would prove, so far as regards a little rice or salt fish, which forms part of most Chinamen’s daily food; but were he so foolish as to indulge in opium, a few whiffs of the pipe would soon swallow up the whole. And then there arises the difficulty of getting the cash, so that it is really only people having command of a fair amount of money who can afford to indulge, habitually at all events, in the luxury of the pipe.

Now with respect to the alleged evil effects of opium smoking, you will constantly hear stories from missionary sources of wretched people, the slaves of the opium pipe, crawling to the medical officers of missionary hospitals, who are to a certain extent missionaries themselves, and asking to be cured of the terrible consequences of their indulgence in opium smoking. The medical officer at each of these missionary institutions, a victim himself, in most cases, to the delusions set afloat, accepts their story, pities the men, and takes them into the hospital; and, believing that if they do not get a moderate indulgence in opium smoking they will pine away and die, the good, easy man, full of kindness and[Pg 70] simplicity, gives them a liberal allowance, which his patients are delighted to get. Knowing the bent of mind of the confiding doctor, they fill him with all kinds of falsehoods as to the evils attendant upon opium smoking in general, which he swallows without a particle of doubt. The truth, however, is that those men who go with such tales to the medical missionary are in most, if not all, cases simply impostors, generally broken-down thieves, sneaks, and scoundrels—the very scum of the people. No longer having energy even to steal, they are driven off by their old associates, to starve or die in a gaol. These men are the craftiest, the meanest, and the most unscrupulous on the face of the globe. They well know all that the missionaries think about opium smoking, and, like the accommodating Mr. Jingle, they have a hundred stories of the same kind ready to pour into the ears of their kind-hearted benefactors, who become in turn their victims. Much merriment, I have no doubt, these scamps indulge in amongst themselves at the good doctor’s expense; for the Chinese are not deficient in humour, and have a keen sense of the ludicrous. These people crawl to one of the hospitals; the doctor is delighted with their stories, for they confirm all he has written home or published, perhaps in The Friend of China. He communicates with the missionary; their stories are sent home, and the patients get for three or four weeks excellent food and comforts, including plenty of opium, before they are turned out as cured. The lepers have been cleansed and made whole, but only to enable them to prey once more upon the industrious community. I may here observe that there are no missionary hospitals in Hong Kong, and so we never hear of those wonderful stories happening in that place, yet, if such stories were true, it is there that the strongest corroboration of them should be found, for, although there is no missionary hospital in the colony, there is the large and well-managed civil hospital, as also the Chinese Tung-Wah Hospital, both of which are subject to the inspection of Dr. Ayres.

Such are the tales, and such the authors who have caused much of this clamour about opium smoking. There is scarcely a particle of truth in any one of those stories. No man can indulge in opium to such an extent as to harm himself unless he possesses a fair income, and if such a[Pg 71] person became ill from over-indulgence, he would not go to a foreign hospital, but would send for a doctor to treat him at his own house. It is only the broken-down pauper, thief, or beggar, who, in his last extremity, seeks admission to the hospital.

Dr. Ayres was the first to expose this imposture. On arriving at Hong Kong he found it had been the custom there to allow such of the prisoners in the gaol as were heavy smokers a modicum of prepared opium daily,—it having been supposed by his predecessors that without it such prisoners would pine away and die. Dr. Ayres, however, knew better; and he at once put an end to the custom. He would not allow one grain of opium or other stimulant to be given to any prisoner, however advanced a smoker he might be. The result was that the hitherto pampered prisoners moaned and groaned, pretending, no doubt, to be very ill; but after a little time they got quite well. The Doctor has published his experiences on this subject in the Friend of China.

These persons know what pleases the missionaries, and so they detail to them all kinds of horrible stories respecting opium smoking, which, as I have before stated, are pure inventions. Trust a Chinaman to invent a plausible tale when it suits his purpose to do so. The missionaries do not smoke opium themselves, and have, therefore, no means of refuting the falsehoods thus related to them, or of testing their accuracy. They simply believe all these stories, and send them on to head-quarters in London, to be retailed by eloquent tongues at Exeter Hall and elsewhere. I have no doubt that every mail brings home numbers of apparently highly authenticated tales of this kind, every one of which is baseless. Thanks to the modern excursion agents, and to the present facilities for travelling, gentlemen can easily take a trip to China, and if any of them happen to have opium on the brain, they will take letters of introduction to missionary clergymen. On their arrival at Hong Kong they will perhaps be shown over the Tung-Wah hospital, where they see a number of wretched objects labouring under all kinds of diseases; they will go away fully impressed with the belief that all the patients shown to them are victims of opium smoking. They are then taken to an opium shop, or as the missionaries like to[Pg 72] call it, an “opium den”—though why an opium-smoking shop should be so termed, and a dram shop in London called a “gin palace,” I cannot understand—and are there shown half a dozen dirty-looking men, mostly thieves and blackguards, all smoking opium, and as they are quiet and motionless, they come to the conclusion that they are all in a dying state, having but a few days more to live. If they knew the facts, they would find perhaps that the very men they were commiserating were just then quietly planning a burglary or some piratical expedition for that very night. These kind of travellers go out to China with preconceived notions, and are quite prepared to believe anything and everything, however absurd or monstrous, about opium smoking. They will spend two days at Hong Kong, three at Canton, two or three at Shanghai. They will take copious notes at these places, omitting nothing, however incredible or absurd, that is told them, and return home with a full conviction that they have “done China,” when in reality they have only done themselves, and that, too, most completely. If they have the cacoethes scribendi strong upon them, they will probably write a book upon the subject; and so the miserable delusion is kept up.

’Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print;
A book’s a book, although there’s nothing in’t.

Mr. Turner, in his volume, gives what he calls “a little apologue,” with the object of showing how the Indian Government injures China by supplying it with opium. If you will allow me, I will give you a short one, too. Let us suppose a young gentleman, well brought up, and a member of that excellent institution, the “Young Men’s Christian Association,” where he has heard the most eloquent speeches on the wickedness of this country in permitting the Indo-Chinese opium trade, and thus encouraging opium smoking—for your anti-opium agitator thinks it the height of virtue and propriety to drag his country through the mire on every occasion that presents itself. Let us call him Mr. Howard; it is a good name, and was once owned by a most benevolent man. He makes up his mind to go out to China and to see for himself the whole iniquity; for, despite his strong faith in his clerical mentors at Exeter Hall, he can hardly believe that[Pg 73] his own countrymen could really be the perpetrators of such dreadful wickedness as he has been told. He takes a letter of introduction to a missionary gentleman at Hong Kong, and another to a mercantile firm there. He expects, on his arrival, to see the streets crowded with the wretched-looking victims of the opium-pipe, crawling onwards towards their graves, whilst the merchant who is making his princely fortune by this terrible opium trade drives by in his curricle, looking complacently at his victims, just as a slave-owner of old might be expected to have gazed at his gangs of serfs wending their way to their scene of toil. Not seeing any but active, healthy-looking people, he concludes that the miserable creatures he is looking out for are in hospital, or lying up in their own houses. He calls upon Messrs. Thompson and Co., the mercantile firm to which he is accredited, and is well received by one of the partners, who invites him to stop at his house during his stay in Hong Kong—for our fellow-countrymen in China are the most hospitable people in the world. Mr. Howard declines, as he intends putting up at Mr. Jenkins’s, his missionary friend. The great subject on his mind is opium, so he comes to the point at once, and asks, “Is there much opium smoked in the colony?” “Oh, plenty,” answers Mr. Thompson; “two or three thousand chests arrive here every week.” “Do you sell much?” Mr. Howard asks. “No; we haven’t done anything in it these many years,” is the response. “Do many people smoke?” continues Howard, following up his subject. “Oh, yes: every Chinaman smokes.” “But where are all the people who are suffering from opium smoking?” again asks the inquirer, determined to get at the facts. “Ha, ha, ha!” laughs Mr. Thompson, but that gentleman is writing letters for the mail, and has not much time at his disposal. “Here, Compradore,” he says, addressing a Chinese who has been settling an account with one of the assistants, “this gentleman wants to know all about opium smoking.” The Compradore is the agent who conducts mercantile transactions between the foreign firms and the Chinese; he resides on his master’s premises, and is usually an intelligent and keen man of business, and, I may also add, an inveterate opium smoker. The two try to make themselves understood. Mr. Howard repeats the same questions to the Compradore that[Pg 74] he had just put to Mr. Thompson, and receives similar replies. Disappointed and surprised, Howard calls with his letter of introduction upon the missionary, to whom he tells what he has heard from Messrs. Thompson & Co. “Ah,” says the missionary, “they wouldn’t give you any information there; they are in the opium trade themselves.” But Mr. Howard tells him that Thompson had assured him that they had not been in the trade for years. “Ah,” returns the missionary, “you must not believe what he says. His firm is making a princely fortune by opium.” “But where are the smokers?” asks Howard. “Oh, I will show them to you.” He then calls Achun his “boy.” “This gentleman,” he says to the latter, “wants to know about opium smoking. Take him to the Tung-Wah and to an opium shop, you savee?” “Yes, my savee” (meaning “I understand”), returns Achun, who is, of course, a devout convert, but who, notwithstanding, often in private indulges in the iniquity of the pipe. On they go to the Tung-Wah, which is the Chinese hospital before referred to, where he is shown some ghastly-looking men, all either smoking the “vile drug” or having opium pipes beside them. Two or three are shivering with ague; another is in the last stage of dropsy; another is in consumption, and so on. They are all pitiable-looking objects, wasted, dirty, and ragged. Poor Mr. Howard shrinks away in horror. “Are all these men dying from opium smoking?” he asks of his guide. “Yes, ebely one; two, tlee more day dey all die. Oh! velly bad! olla men dat smokee dat ting die,” says the person questioned, well knowing that what he has said is false, and that the poor creatures before him are only honest, decent coolies in the last stages of disease, who until they entered the hospital may never have had an opium pipe in their mouths. “Their poverty and not their will consented.” They had been admitted but a few days before to the Tung-Wah, where the Chinese doctor in charge had prescribed for them opium smoking as a remedy for their sickness and a relief for their pains. Poor Mr. Howard leaves the hospital bitterly reflecting upon the wickedness of the world and of his own countrymen in particular. As for Mr. Thompson, he is set down for a false deceitful man, a disgrace to his country, who should be made an example of. He and his guide then proceed to the opium shop. I shall, however, proceed there before them, and describe the place[Pg 75] and its occupants. Opposite to the entrance door are two well-dressed men, their clothes quite new, their heads well shaven, and having attached to them long and splendid queues. These men are lying on their sides, vis-à-vis, with their heads slightly raised, smoking away. If it were not for their villainous countenances they might pass for respectable shopkeepers. They are two thieves, who have just committed a burglary in a European house, from which they carried off three or four hundred pounds’ worth of jewellery, and they are now indulging in their favourite luxury on the proceeds. They have also exchanged their rags for new clothes, got shaved and trimmed, as Mr. Howard sees them. Now, wherever an extreme opium smoker is met, he will in general be found to be one of the criminal classes. In this shop there are three other men smoking. They are stalwart fellows, but dirty-looking, as they have just finished coaling a steamer, and are begrimed with coal dust. As the daily expenses of a steamer are considerable, it is a great object with sea captains to get their vessels coaled as quickly as possible, so that they may not be delayed in port. The men employed upon this work are usually paid by the job, and probably each will receive half-a-dollar for his share. They work with extraordinary vigour, and by the time they have finished they are often much distressed, and are inclined to lie down; their hearts, perhaps, are beating irregularly, and their whole frame unhinged. Being flush of money, for half-a-dollar, or two shillings, is quite a round sum for them, they have decided to go to the opium shop, and, by having a quiet whiff or two, bring the action of their hearts into rhythm, and restore themselves to their ordinary state. These poor coolies are honest fellows enough. They work hard, and are peaceful, unoffending creatures. Hundreds of them are to be seen hard at work every day in Hong Kong.

The interior of the opium shop is as described when Mr. Howard enters with the missionary’s servant. The moment the two well-dressed thieves see them, their guilty consciences make them conclude that the one is a European, and the other a Chinese detective in search of them. They close their eyes and pretend to be in profound slumber. They are really in deadly fear of apprehension, for escape seems impossible. Mr. Howard asks his guide who they are. “Oh, dese plaupa good men numba one; dey come[Pg 76] dis side to smokee. To-day dey smokee one pipe; to-mollow dey come and smokee two, tlee pipe; next dey five, six; den dey get sik and die. Oh, opium pipe veely bad; dat pipe kill plenty men.” “You say they are good, respectable men?” says Mr. Howard. “Yes, good plaupa men; numba one Chinee genlman.” “Oh, is not this a terrible thing?” says Mr. Howard, compressing his lips, breathing heavily, and vowing to bear witness, on his return to London, to all the villainy he fancies he has seen. The three men begrimed with coal-dust, although they appear only to be semi-conscious, are in reality taking the measure of Mr. Howard, and enjoying a quiet laugh at his expense. One exclaims, referring to his chimney-pot hat, “Ah ya! what a funny thing that Fan-Qui has got on his head!” The other replies, “It’s to keep the sun away.” “How funny!” retorts the first speaker, “we wear hats to keep our heads warm; they wear hats to keep their heads cool.” “Oh,” returns the other speaker, “the Fan-Qui have such soft heads that if they did not keep the sun off the little brains they have would melt away; and they would die, or become idiots.”[5] Mr. Howard, seeing them in their dirty condition, concludes that they are some of the wretched victims of opium smoking, in the last stage of disease, and leaves with his conductor, pitying them from the depths of his heart; his pity, however, is as nothing compared to the contempt with which these supposed victims to the opium pipe regard him and his chimney-pot hat. As he leaves he asks his guide, “Does the keeper of the opium shop expect a gratuity?” “Oh,” returns the other, “supposee you pay him one dolla, he say, tankee you.” Mr. Howard accordingly gives a dollar to the man, who looks more surprised than grateful, and he leaves the shop, satisfied that he has at last seen the true effects of opium smoking in China. He returns to the missionary, to whom he relates the horrors he has seen, makes copious notes of them, and vows to enlighten his countrymen at home upon the subject. As for his guide Achun, this person loses no time in returning to the opium shop, where he compels the keeper of it to share with him the dollar he has just received, and, having so easily[Pg 77] earned two shillings, he quietly reclines on one of the couches and takes a whiff or two of the pipe, the more enjoyable because it is forbidden fruit. Thus the benevolent British public is befooled by these ridiculous stories about opium.

Now as Achun is a representative character, many like him being in the service of missionaries and other foreigners throughout China, I will give you a further specimen of the way such persons cheat and delude their masters. Achun, in whom Mr. Jenkins, the missionary, places implicit confidence, has of late been much exercised as to his “vails,” for Chinese servants are quite as much alive to the perquisites of their office as Jeames, John Thomas, or any others of our domestics here in England. Indeed, I may safely lay it down as a rule that, like cabmen, domestic servants will be found the same all over the world, “one touch of nature makes the whole world kin,” and no sooner have you engaged your Chinese “boy” than his mind is at once set working as to the amount of drawbacks, clippings, and parings over and above his wages he may safely count upon in his new place. Achun is dissatisfied with the commission or drawback allowed him by Chook Aloong, the shopkeeper or compradore, who supplies Mr. Jenkins’s family with provisions and other household necessaries; he is allowed only ten per cent. of the monthly bill, and he considers that in all fairness he should get double that amount. Thus impressed, he makes energetic remonstrances on the subject to Chook Aloong, who is firm and will give no more than ten per cent. Achun is equal to the occasion. Now Mr. Jenkins and his family are simple and frugal in their dietary, but there are some articles of food they insist upon having of the best kind, in consequence of which their compradore sends them those articles and, indeed, all others of unobjectionable quality. Eggs which are not absolutely fresh, and meat, though it be game, if in the slightest degree “up,” they will have none of. Achun well knows all this, and he has determined to have Chook Aloong displaced. Having himself a partiality for eggs, he begins operations by daily appropriating to his own use some of those fresh eggs and substituting stale ones in their stead. In the like manner, instead of letting the family have the beef, mutton, and fowls nice and fresh as they are delivered,[Pg 78] he holds them over until the bloom of freshness has departed. This state of affairs occasions some commotion in the family circle. The boy is sent for and shown that the eggs are bad and the meat “high”; he expresses great concern, and declares that he will forthwith call upon the compradore and compel him to make good the damage already done, and supply proper provisions in future. Mr. Jenkins, though angry, is not implacable, and is willing to believe that some mishap has occurred; for how could his old and trusted compradore treat him so badly? His hopes are, however, disappointed, for again and yet again the meat is bad, and, worse still, the eggs are—well, not fresh. The climax is reached one morning when poor Mr. Jenkins, in breaking his egg, finds, not the usual bright yellow yolk and spotless albumen within, but a young chick almost fledged. Horror and disgust seize him, the old Adam over-masters him for a moment, and, full of wrath, he roars for the boy. Achun appears the very picture of innocence, when Mr. Jenkins, ashamed of his outburst of wrath and now quite calm explains the contretemps. He has even in the reaction regained some of his good humour. “Look here, Achun,” he says, showing the chick, “this is too bad, you know. Supposee I wanchee egg,—can catchee him; supposee I wanchee chicken—can catchee chicken. No wanchee egg and chicken alla same together.” Achun perceives the joke, and knowing his master’s weakness, says, “Oh, ho, massa, velly good, dat belong numba one. ‘No wanchee egg and chicken alla same togedda,’” continues the cunning rascal, repeating his master’s words, “Oh velly funny, velly good, massa, ho! ho! ho!” Mr. Jenkins is pleased at the mild flattery of his boy, who has now advanced a step or two in his estimation. “Oh, massa, dat man, Chook Aloong, velly bad man,” continues Achun when his merriment had subsided. “Him smokee too much opium pipe; he no mind his pidgin plaupa, he smokee alla day.” “Oh! ho! is that the way?” asks the missionary, a new light dawning for the first time upon him. “And so Chook Aloong is an opium smoker?” “Ye-s,” replies Achun, prolonging the word. “Too much opium, plenty opium. More betta you get anoda compado sah—some good plaupa man dat no smokee.” “Very well, Achun,” says Mr. Jenkins with a sigh. “It is plain I must get somebody else. Find me out[Pg 79] some other man, and, mind, he must not smoke opium.” “Hab got, massa,” returns the boy delighted with his success. “Hab got velly good man, him numba one good compado”; and in walks the person indicated, who has been listening outside all the time. “This belong Sam Afoong, him do all ting plaupa,” the fact being that this very Sam Afoong is the greatest cheat in the whole market. “Oh, you’re the man,” says Mr. Jenkins. “I hope you don’t use opium.” “Oh no, sah,” returns the other, who is in fact an inveterate smoker, “my neba smokee; dat opium pipe velly bad. It hab kill my fadda, my six bludda, my——.” But here he is stopped by a signal from Achun, who saw that his friend, in familiar parlance, was “laying it on too thickly.” Sam Afoong vows to supply the best of good things, and does so, and the Jenkins family are no longer troubled with bad provisions; but had the lady of the establishment gone through the formality of weighing every joint of meat that her new compradore supplied, she would have found that every pound was short of two or three ounces, for thus Sam Afoong recouped himself for the large per-centage bestowed on Achun.

To prove that the missionaries are deceived in the way I have described I will refer you to a passage in Mr. Storrs Turner’s own book, where even he admits that one of his own converts, who had assured him that he never smoked, and no doubt had pledged himself never to do so, was found regaling himself with the iniquity. At p. 32 Mr. Turner says, “I have caught a man smoking who had only half an hour before denied to me that he was a smoker, and condemned the habit.” Yet such are the men from whom the missionaries derive their information about opium smoking. For further proof of this I will quote again from Dr. Ayres’ article, in The Friend of China. This is what he says:—

At the Tung Wah Hospital the stranger may at any time see the most dreadful and ghastly-looking objects in the last stages of scrofula and phthisis smoking opium, who had never previously in all their lives been able to afford the expense of a pipe a day, yet the European visitor leaves the establishment attributing to the abuse of opium effects which further inquiry would have satisfied him were due to the diseases for which the patients were in hospital. From what I have seen there, there is no doubt that the advanced consumptive patient does experience considerable temporary relief to his difficult breathing by smoking a pipe of opium, though it is a very poor quality of drug that is given to patients at the Tung Wah Hospital.

[Pg 80]Thus, as I have shown, it has come to pass that whilst the missionary clergymen, owing to their sacred calling and their unquestionably high character, are accepted in England as the most reliable witnesses and entitled to the greatest credit, they are really the men who are the very worst informed upon the opium question which they profess to understand so thoroughly. They are, in fact, the victims of their own delusions. But saddest fact of all, these missionary gentlemen, with the best intentions and in the devout belief that by carrying on this anti-opium agitation they are helping to remove an obstacle to the dissemination of the Gospel in China, are of necessity by so doing obliged to neglect more or less the very Gospel work they are really so desirous to spread, leaving the missionary field open to their Roman Catholic rivals.

The information placed before the public here in England upon the opium question, tainted as it is at the very fountain head, is sent forward from hand to hand, meeting in its filtrations from China to this country with impurity after impurity, until it reaches the form of the miserable trash retailed at Exeter Hall, or by the agents of the Anti-Opium Society. It is an accepted adage that “a story loses nothing by the carriage.” The maxim becomes, more strongly pointed when it is remembered that the opium tales partake so much of the marvellous, and that the various transmitters of those accounts are, in almost every instance, fanatical believers in the supposed wickedness of the Indo-Chinese opium trade. I am quite sure that out of every thousand people who believe in the anti-opium delusion, you will not find two who have ever set their foot in China, or know anything with respect to the alleged evils they denounce, except from the unreliable sources I have mentioned. Such people, as a rule, are by far the most violent and uncompromising opponents of the Indo-Chinese opium trade. The people I describe generally speak with such an air of authority on the question, that an ordinary person would suppose they had personally witnessed all the evils they describe. If you ask one of them in what part of China he has lived, or when and where he has seen the horrors he speaks of, he will jauntily tell you, “Oh, I have heard Mr. A. or the Rev. Mr. B. explain the whole villainy at[Pg 81] Exeter Hall.” Another will say he has read Mr. Storrs Turner’s great work upon opium smoking, with which I have already made you somewhat acquainted. When General Choke rebuked Martin Chuzzlewit for denying that the Queen lived in the Tower of London when she was at the Court of St. James, Martin inquired if the speaker had ever lived in England. “In writing I have, not otherwise,” responded the General, adding, “We air a reading people here, Sir; you will meet with much information among us that will surprise you Sir.” Just so. These anti-opium enthusiasts have been in China in writing, and understand the opium question upon paper only—a few months in Hong Kong or Canton, freed from missionary influence, would soon disillusionize them. I remember hearing a story once of a most estimable gentleman who had the misfortune to be the defendant in an action for breach of promise. The plaintiff’s counsel, who had a fluent tongue and a fertile imagination, painted him in such dreadful colours, and so belaboured him for his alleged heartless conduct towards the lady that the gentleman so denounced, persuaded for the moment that he was really guilty, rushed out of court, exclaiming, “I never thought I was so terrible a villain before.” That is just the kind of feeling that first comes over one upon hearing of those opium-smoking horrors; for it must not be forgotten that the indictment of the Anti-Opium Society, and of its secretary Mr. Storrs Turner in particular, not only includes the Imperial Government, and the Government of India, during the past forty years, but all the British merchants connected with the Chinese trade, and, indeed, the entire British nation.

Before proceeding to deal with the fallacies I have enumerated, it is necessary that I should again address a few words to you on the subject of evidence, so as to enable you to discriminate between the value of the various witnesses who have attempted to enlighten public opinion on the subject before us. I dislike very much to trouble the reader with dry professional matters, but, under the circumstances, I cannot avoid doing so. It is a rule of law which will, I think, commend itself to the common sense of everybody, that the evidence to be adduced on a trial should be the best that the nature of the case is susceptible of, rather[Pg 82] than evidence of a subsidiary or secondary nature, unless, indeed, no better be forthcoming. In determining matters of fact, the best witnesses would be held to be those who have become acquainted with those facts in the course of their ordinary employment, or in the performance of their professional duties, rather than mere amateurs or volunteers, whose knowledge is derived from accident or casual observation only. For illustration, let us suppose the case of a collision at sea between two steamers, A and B,—that previous to and at the time of the collision, besides the usual officers and seamen in charge of A, there were on deck the steward of the vessel and a passenger. Now, the best witnesses on board of A as to the catastrophe would not be the two latter, although they saw the whole occurrence, but the men who were in actual charge of the navigation of the ship, viz. the look-out man in the bows—whose duty it would be to watch for rocks or shoals, or any ship or vessel ahead, and to give immediate notice to the officer of the watch and the man at the wheel of the presence of such object;—the officer of the watch, usually stationed on the bridge;—and the man at the wheel. Why? Because, it being the peculiar duty of the first two men to look out for and avoid striking on rocks or shoals, or coming into collision with any other vessel, and the duty of the third man not only to keep a look out but to steer as directed by the officer on the bridge, they necessarily paid more attention to, and had their intellects better sharpened in respect to such matters than the others, who had no such duty cast upon them. The next best witnesses would be the other seamen during whose watch the accident occurred, their duty being generally to attend to the management of the ship, her sails and cordage, and obey the orders of the officer of the watch, but who, not having immediate connection with the steering and course of the vessel, would not be expected to have the same accurate knowledge of the circumstances that led to and occurred up to the time of the collision as the first three. The least valuable witnesses would be the steward and the passenger, for the reasons already mentioned. Applying these rules to the question now before us, it follows that the testimony of such a man as Dr. Ayres—some of which I have given you already—and of others which I shall lay before you, should have far[Pg 83] greater weight and be more reliable than that of ordinary persons having no special knowledge or experience of opium or its effects, nor any opportunity of obtaining such knowledge, much less any duty cast upon them to acquire it, e.g. missionaries and other persons unconnected with native and foreign merchants, and having no duties to perform which would bring them into constant intercourse with the Chinese community.

The first of these fallacies which have so much tended to warp the understanding of these Anti-Opium people is this: “That the poppy is not indigenous to China, but has been recently introduced there, presumably by British agency.” With this let us take the second fallacy, viz.: “That opium smoking in China is now and has always been confined to a small per-centage of the population, but which, owing to the introduction of Indian opium, is constantly increasing.” Here I would first inquire—what is the poppy? To this question one person would say, It is the plant that produces that deadly drug, morphia. Another would answer, It is the herb from which laudanum is made; and a third would say, It is the plant which supplies opium, smoked so much in China and eaten so largely in India. These answers would all be correct enough, so far as they go; but they would not be complete, for there are many other uses to which the poppy is applied besides all these. That valuable plant produces not only opium, but an oil used for lighting and for edible purposes, the Chinese using the oil to mollify their daily rice and other food, mixing it also very commonly with another and richer quality of oil. The seeds, when the oil is expressed, are given to cattle, or allowed to rot and form manure. If the oil is not expressed, the seeds can be worked up into cakes. From the capsules medicine is made, and lastly, the stalks and leaves when burnt produce potash. Mr. William Donald Spence, one of Her Majesty’s Consuls in China, to whose valuable “Report on the Trade of the Port of Ichang, and the Opium-culture in the Provinces of Szechuan and Yunnan,” I shall presently introduce you, knows all this as matter of fact, and, indeed, I am mainly indebted to him for the information I now give you. It is admitted by Mr. Storrs Turner that the poppy is indigenous to China, and when it is remembered that the people of that country are and have been for[Pg 84] thousands of years the most civilized in Asia,—that agriculture is considered the most honourable industry in the country, as evidenced by the annual practice of the Emperor to turn over the earth with the plough at the beginning of Spring,—that the Chinese are skilled husbandmen, and of most frugal and thrifty habits, it becomes a matter of irresistible inference that those people must have known that most useful plant, the poppy, and must have cultivated it for economic purposes long before opium was known in Europe. Sir Robert Hart, in his Yellow Book, says “that native opium was known, produced, and used long before any Europeans began the sale of the foreign drug along the coast.” Compare that with the misleading passage at page 2 of Mr. Storrs Turner’s book, where he says “that the poppy had long been cultivated in Egypt, Turkey, Persia, India, and recently in China and Manchuria,” and ask yourselves what credit you can give to that gentleman as a trustworthy guide on the subject of opium. Here is Sir Robert Hart, a great Chinese authority, practically admitting that three or four hundred years ago at the least native opium was grown and produced in China, and Mr. Storrs Turner, in this fallacious statement of his, trying to induce his readers to infer that the drug was only recently produced in that Empire! The reader can choose between these authorities for himself. Now the fact is, that in very ancient Chinese works mention is made of the poppy. In the “History of the Later Han Dynasty” (A.D. 25-220), the brilliant colour of the poppy blossom, of the charms of the juice, and the strengthening qualities of the seeds of the plant, formed the themes of Chinese poets as far back as a thousand years, and probably much farther. The poet Yung T’aou, of the T’ang dynasty (A.D. 618-907), celebrates the beauty of the flower. The poet Soo Cheh (A.D. 1039-1112), dwells, in an ode, on the curative and invigorating effects of the poppy seeds and juice, and another poet, Soo Sung, of the same period, praises the beauty of the plant, which he speaks of as being grown everywhere in China. I am not a Chinese scholar, but I have high authority for these statements. You will thus clearly perceive that opium is a native plant, that its various uses have for many centuries been known to the Chinese, and that the British are in no way responsible for the[Pg 85] introduction of opium into China, much less for the practice of smoking the drug.

I have mentioned Mr. W. Donald Spence as one of Her Majesty’s Consuls in China. Now, every foreign resident in that country knows who and what those consular gentlemen are; but I do not think the public here in England are equally well informed upon the subject, because it is only natural that they should confound them with the ordinary British Consuls at the European and American ports; but that would be a very great mistake, for the two sets of Consuls form quite distinct and separate bodies. The Consuls at the latter ports are no doubt highly respectable gentlemen, often indeed, men who have distinguished themselves in science and literature, or in the army or navy, but still they are simply commercial agents of the British Government, and no more, having little or no diplomatic or other duties to discharge. The Consular Service of China stands upon a totally different footing. In this country Her Majesty’s Consuls are not only commercial agents, but are trained diplomatists, entering the service in the first instance as cadets, after passing most difficult competitive examinations. They are always Chinese scholars, many of them holding high rank as such. The Consuls have very important diplomatic duties to discharge, and have also magisterial duties to perform towards their countrymen in China, all of which demand qualities of a high order, and which only superior education and careful training enable them to discharge. England has acquired by treaty ex-territorial rights, as regards her own subjects, in the ports of China thrown open to her commerce, known as “Treaty ports,” the most important of which are the exclusive right to hear and determine all civil and criminal cases against British subjects. These onerous and important duties are performed by Her Majesty’s Consuls at those ports. These gentlemen, indeed, have more power in many respects than is possessed by the Queen’s Ambassadors and Ministers Plenipotentiary at the various Courts in Europe. They have, in fact, all the powers now vested in the Judges of Her Majesty’s High Court of Judicature here in England, as well as the powers possessed by the Judges of the Admiralty, Probate, and Bankruptcy Courts. Further, and in addition to all these multifarious duties, they are Her Majesty’s special[Pg 86] commercial agents at these treaty ports, with the usual jurisdiction over British ships, their officers, and crew. It is, therefore, a matter of the first necessity that the persons in whom such tremendous powers are placed should not only be gentlemen of the very highest characters and assured abilities, but men of superior education specially trained to fill these important positions and discharge the varied and onerous duties appertaining to them. Such are the present British Consuls in China, and such they have been in the past. There is not, I believe, in this or any other country, a more highly-educated, intelligent, and efficient body of men to be found. If any proof of these high qualities is required, it will be furnished in the fact that notwithstanding the difficult, delicate, and onerous duties cast upon them, no instance of their abuse of these powers has ever occurred. I certainly know of none. I am only here stating, I assure you, what is actually true. It has, indeed, always been to me a marvel that no complaints—no political entanglements, no troubles—have arisen from the abnormal state of things arising out of our commercial and political relations with China, and the extraordinary and exceptional powers necessarily entrusted to our Consular Agents in that Empire in consequence. We can now look back, after a quarter of a century of experience, and congratulate ourselves that all our complicated machinery has worked so well, that no clouds obscure the vista, and that our present position in China is one of serenity and sunshine; that we stand upon the very best terms with the Chinese Government from the central authority at Peking to all its ramifications throughout the vast empire. Nothing, in fact, blurs the landscape, save the miserable opium phantom created by our own countrymen, the missionaries, and magnified to a monster of large dimensions by the “Chinese jugglers,” who here in England keep the machinery of the Anti-Opium Society in motion. These happy results are due to Her Majesty’s Diplomatic and Consular Service in China, controlled by Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in England. And here I cannot but remind you of that distinguished veteran statesman Sir Rutherford Alcock, formerly Her Majesty’s Minister to the Court of Peking, to whose wise and far-seeing policy much of the present happy relations with China is due. There is not an[Pg 87] English resident in China who cannot bear testimony to the splendid talents and genuine patriotism which has marked his career in that vast and interesting country. There is no greater authority living upon Anglo-Chinese affairs than he, especially as regards the period of the famous treaty of Tientsin, some of whose testimony on these points I will lay before you. After a long and honourable career he is now in England enjoying his well-earned repose, and is, happily, a powerful living witness to the fallacies I am now trying to efface.

Now, one of the ablest and most accomplished men at present in the Diplomatic and Consular Service of China is Mr. W. Donald Spence, Her Majesty’s Consul at Ichang, a port on the Yangtze, to whom I have before shortly referred. This gentleman, in the year 1881, paid a visit to Chungking, the commercial capital of Szechuan in Western China. Whilst there he availed himself of the opportunity to make inquiries and investigations into the commercial products of that immense province, and especially into the cultivation of native opium, the extent and condition of opium culture in Western China, and the attitude respecting it of the Chinese Government, and on the effect of opium smoking on the people of those provinces where it appears that habit is all but universal. It was his especial duty to make these investigations. No better proof could be produced as to the abilities of this gentleman than this valuable document on the subject presented by him to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which Mr. Spence, in his covering letter to Lord Granville modestly styles “his Report on the Trade of the Port of Ichang for the Year 1881.” If anyone will read the whole of this Report—and it will well repay careful perusal—he will pronounce it, I think, one of the ablest and most admirable State papers that have ever been penned. In giving you some extracts from it I will, therefore, ask you to treat the author of it, not as a mere hireling, having an interest in certain matters which it is desirable to place in a particular light, as the agents of the Anti-Opium Society would, no doubt, have you believe, but as the honest statement of an upright, high-minded, honourable English gentleman, of superior talents and a cultivated mind, who values truth above everything, who can have no other object in the[Pg 88] matter but to do what is honest, just, and right, and who on this question of opium smoking tells the truth and nothing but the truth to Her Majesty’s Minister. This is what he says as to the cultivation of the poppy in Szechuan:—

Of all the products of Szechuan, the most important nowadays is native opium. In September last year it was my fortune to be sent on the public service to the commercial metropolis of Szechuan, Chungking. I was four months in the province. In the course of that time I visited parts of the great opium country, questioned many people regarding opium culture, consumption, and export, and carefully noted the observations and conclusions on these subjects come to by Mr. Colborne Baber and Mr. E. H. Parker during their official residence there, with a view to giving, as far as possible, exact information in my Trade Report on a matter of great commercial, and no little political, interest at the present moment. The cultivation of the poppy is carried on in every district of Szechuan except those on the west frontier, but most of all in the Prefectures of Chungking Fu and Kweichow Fu. In all the districts of Chungking Fu, south of the Yang-tsze, and in some of the districts of Kweichow Fu, north of that river, it is the principal crop, and, in parts, the only winter crop for scores upon scores of square miles. The headquarters of the trade are at the city of Fuchow, in the first of these prefectures, and, in a considerably less degree, at Fengtu, a district city in Kweichow Fu. Baron Richthofen, writing in 1872, says that the poppy then was cultivated only on hill slopes of an inferior soil, but one sees it now on land of all kinds, both hill and valley. Baron Richthofen himself anticipates this change when he says:—“The Government may at some time or other reduce the very heavy restrictions, and if Szechuan opium then should be able to command its present price at Hankow, the consequence would be an immediate increase in the area planted with the poppy.” Since he wrote, the area given to the poppy has much increased, though not from the cause alleged. Being a winter crop, it does not interfere with rice, the food staple of the people, displacing only subsidiary crops, such as wheat, beans, and the like. When it is planted in paddy and bottom lands, which nowadays is often the case, it is gathered in time to allow rice or some other crop to follow. It can hardly be said of Szechuan that the cultivation of opium seriously interferes with food supplies. The supply of rice remains the same, and the opium produced, less the value of the crops it replaces, is so much additional wealth to the province.

I shall presently show that opium is a more remunerative crop than its only possible substitutes, beans or wheat, and no per-centage of the opium crop being due to the landlord, its cultivation has been greatly stimulated in consequence. Of late years, however, in the districts I have named as being in winter one vast poppy-field, owners of land have become alive to the value to occupiers of the opium crop, and have stipulated for a share of it in addition to their share of the summer crop. Rents, in fact, where opium is in universal cultivation, have practically doubled. Before leaving the subject of tenure, I may add that, in the event of non-payment of rent from causes other than deficient harvests,[Pg 89] the landlord helps himself to the deposit in his hands. In bad years remissions are willingly made by the Government to owners of the land-tax, and by owners to occupiers of the rent-produce.

Now you will remember that this very province of Szechuan, where such extensive cultivation of the poppy is carried on, is the largest and most distant of all the provinces of China; it is one of the westernmost of the eighteen provinces of the empire, being bordered on the west by Thibet. Until quite recently Szechuan was about as accessible to Englishmen as Moscow was fifty years ago, a terra incognita, in fact, to Europeans, so that it cannot be pretended for one moment that the introduction into China of Indian opium has had anything to do with the cultivation of the drug there. Indian opium could hardly ever have found its way into the province, which is not less than one thousand two hundred miles from the sea. It is only since the opening of the port of Ichang in the adjoining province of Hupeh, which took place in April 1877, that the district has become at all accessible. But let us return to Mr. W. Donald Spence. This is another extract from his report:—

The poppy is now grown on all kinds of land, hill slopes, terraced fields, paddy and bottom lands in the valleys. Since 1872, when Baron Richthofen visited the province, a great change has taken place in this respect, for it appears to have been cultivated then on hill lands only. All the country people whom I asked were agreed that opium is most profitably grown on good land with liberal manuring. In India it is best grown on rich soil near villages where manure can be easily obtained, and the Szechuan cultivator has found this out for himself. Poppy cultivation, as practised in Szechuan, is very simple. As soon as the summer crop is reaped the land is ploughed and cleaned, roots and weeds are heaped and burnt, and the ashes scattered over the ground; dressings of night soil are liberally given. The seeds are sown in December, in drills a foot and a half apart. In January, when the plants are a few inches high, the rows are thinned and earthed up so as to leave a free passage between each: the plants are then left to take care of themselves, the earth round them being occasionally stirred up and kept clear of weeds. In March and April, according to situation, the poppy blooms. In the low grounds the white poppy is by far the most common, but red and purple are also grown. As the capsules form and fill, dressings of liquid manure are given. In April and May the capsules are slit and the juice extracted. The raw juice evaporates into the crude opium of commerce increasing in value as it decreases in weight.

Mr. Spence then goes on to compare the value of the wheat with the opium crop, showing that the cultivation of[Pg 90] the latter is just twice as profitable as the former. Space will not allow me to give you full extracts on this subject, but, as some portion of it is germane to this part of my lecture, I give a short extract on the point:—

It must be remembered, too, that every single part of the poppy plant has a market value. The capsules, after the juice has been extracted, are sold to druggists, and made into medicine; oil is expressed from the seeds, and largely used for lighting and adulterating edible oils; the oil-cake left in the oil-press is good manure, as are also the leaves; and the stalks are burnt for potash. Against these advantages opium is subject to a rent, and requires, for profitable cultivation, plenty of manure; whereas wheat, when followed by a summer crop, pays little or no rent, and gets, in general, no manure. Into the relative profits of opium and wheat both Mr. Baber and Mr. Parker have gone very carefully, and their results correspond, in the main, with my own observations.

I will now give you a short account of opium-culture in the province of Yunnan, a more inaccessible part of China still perhaps than Szechuan. Mr. E. Colborne Baber, like Mr. Spence, belongs to the diplomatic service, and is now the secretary of the British Legation at Peking. All that I have stated as to Mr. Spence applies alike to him. He is a gentleman in whom the most implicit confidence should be placed. In 1877 he travelled through Western Szechuan, having, in his own words, on the morning of the 8th July in that year, passed the western gate of Ch’ung-Ch’ung “full of the pleasurable anticipations which precede a plunge into the unknown.” Having finished his journey through Szechuan, he struck into Yunnan, following the route of Mr. Grosvenor’s mission. He has recounted his adventures in a most valuable and interesting book, written in such a pleasing and graphic style, that the reader, when looking at it for reference only, is irresistibly compelled to read further. His book has been published by the Royal Geographical Society, and is well worthy of general perusal. It is one of the few readable books of travel to be met with nowadays. There is very little respecting opium culture in the volume, but what there is upon the subject is very much to the point. This is what he says:—

Of the sole agricultural export, opium, we can speak with some certainty. We were astounded at the extent of the poppy cultivation both in Szechuan and Yunnan. We first heard of it on the boundary line between Hupah and Szechuan, in a cottage which appears in an illustration given in the work of Captain Blakiston, the highest cottage on the right of the[Pg 91] sketch. A few miles south of this spot the most valuable variety of native opium is produced.

In ascending the river, wherever cultivation existed we found numerous fields of poppy. Even the sandy banks were often planted with it down to the water’s edge: but it was not until we began our land journey in Yunnan that we fairly realised the enormous extent of its production. With some fear of being discredited, but at the same time with a consciousness that I am under-estimating-the production, I estimate that the poppy-fields constitute a third of the whole cultivation of Yunnan.

We saw the gradual process of its growth, from the appearance of the young spikelets above ground in January, or earlier, to the full luxuriance of the red, white, and purple flowers, which were already falling in May. In that month the farmers were trying the juice, but we did not see the harvest gathered. We walked some hundreds of miles through poppies; we breakfasted among poppies; we shot wild ducks in the poppies. Even wretched little hovels in the mountains were generally attended by a poppy patch.

The ducks, called locally “opium ducks,” which frequently supplied us with a meal, do really appear, as affirmed by the natives, to stupefy themselves by feeding on the narcotic vegetable. We could walk openly up to within twenty yards of them, and even then they rose very languidly. We are not, however, compelled to believe, with the natives, that the flesh of these birds is so impregnated with laudanum as to exercise a soporific influence on the consumer. They are found in great numbers in the plain of Tung-ch’uan, in Northern Yunnan, and turn out to be the Tadorna vulpanser.

In the same district, and in no other, we met with the Grus cinerea, an imposing bird, which is also a frequenter of opium-fields.

The poppy appeared to us to thrive in every kind of soil, from the low sandy borders of the Yang-tyu to the rocky heights of Western Yunnan; but it seemed more at home, or at any rate was more abundant, in the marshy valleys near Yung-ch’uan, at an elevation of seven thousand and sixty feet (seven thousand one hundred and fifty feet according to Garnier).

I am not concerned here with the projects or prospects of the Society for the Abolition of Opium: if, however, they desire to give the strongest impetus to its growth in Yunnan, let them by all means discourage its production in India.

Now I have given you some very important evidence upon the two fallacies before us; but perhaps, after all, the best testimony upon the subject is that of Mr. Turner himself. He says, at page 13 of his book:—

“Everywhere, in all climates, on every soil, in every variety and condition of circumstances throughout that vast empire, the Chinese smoke opium, but nowhere do they all smoke. The smokers are but a per-centage, greater or smaller in different places.”

I quite agree with him on this point. But here the question arises, where is the drug procured which is smoked[Pg 92] in every part of the eighteen provinces of this vast Empire, equal in extent to Europe? Surely not from abroad, because that great China authority, Sir Robert Hart, tells us in his Yellow Book that all the Indian and Persian opium imported into China is sufficient only to supply one third of one per cent. of the population with a small portion annually of the drug. Not from India, because there are many provinces in China—and a province there means a territory as large as Great Britain—into which a particle of the Indian drug has seldom or never been introduced. Whence, then, comes the great bulk of the drug to satisfy all these smokers? Surely it must be from Chinese soil, from the opium fields surrounding their own homes, which are to be seen in every province of the Empire.

Let us now return to the Yellow-book of Sir Robert Hart, to which I have referred in the former lecture, and which seems to me to afford all the evidence on this subject that is really wanted. It is admitted on both sides that opium smoking is more or less prevalent throughout every province of China, on every soil, whether in the valleys or on the hills and mountains. Sir Robert Hart sent out a circular to the foreign Commissioners of Customs at all the Treaty Ports in China, Hainan, and Formosa,—two large islands lying respectively off the south and south-east coast of China,—and the returns show that there are many opium-smoking shops in each of these Treaty Ports, and that the gross quantity of Indian and other foreign opium imported into China is about one hundred thousand chests. Those returns also reveal the fact that in almost every case foreign opium is used for mixing with the native drug, which is of inferior quality and, there can be no doubt, invariably adulterated; that a large amount of native opium is grown and sold; and that the custom of opium smoking is more or less universal. Suppose we take the case of Canton, as being a very large city. We may find, perhaps, two or three hundred opium shops there, but the people who attend them are not the better class of Chinese. They are exactly the same class of people who frequent the drinking shops of London and other large cities in England. The respectable, well-to-do people in Canton, who can afford to keep the drug in their own houses, would not enter an opium shop any more than a respectable person here would frequent a public-house.[Pg 93] If a stranger in London looked into the public-houses and saw men and women drinking there, he would come to a false conclusion if he thought that none but such people drank beer, spirits, or wine. We know that in almost every private house here there is more or less liquor of all kinds kept and consumed. The drinking shops furnish a mere indication of the amount of alcoholic liquors drunk in a town. It is exactly the same with the opium shops. They show the prevalence of the custom throughout the country. If you find two hundred opium shops in Canton, and I am sure there are not fewer there, you may be not less certain that opium is smoked in the great majority of private and business houses in Canton. It is the same in all the Treaty Ports. The opium-smoking shops in China may be counted by hundreds and thousands, because China is as large as Europe, and more populous.

Sir Robert Hart’s Report, although to a certain extent an anti-opium one, is in this and other respects very valuable, and forms in itself a complete answer to the false and unfounded allegations of the Anti-Opium Society. It is not likely that he would exaggerate the amount of opium grown or smoked in China; the inference, indeed, would be that he, as an official of the Chinese Government, would do just the contrary. There are a great many other important ports in China besides the twenty ports with which foreigners are not allowed to trade, and from which, indeed, they are rigidly excluded; and in the interior of the country there are immense and numerous cities and towns, large, thriving and densely populated, where the opium pipe is used as freely as the tobacco pipe is with us. The provinces in which opium is most grown are Szechuan and Yun-Nan, two of the largest of the eighteen provinces constituting China proper. They are the two great western provinces; but it is also grown in the eastern and central provinces, in fact, more or less, all over the country. Though there are no certain statistics, there cannot be a doubt that opium smoking is more prevalent in the interior provinces than on the coast, because it is there that the most opium is grown, and it is but reasonable to infer that where opium is largely cultivated, especially in a country like China, having no railroads, and few ordinary roads, there you will find it to be most cheap and abundant, and therefore most[Pg 94] consumed. Upon this point I would refer to a most authoritative work by the late lamented Captain Gill, R.E.,[6] whose barbarous murder the whole country deplored. At page 235 of vol. ii. Captain Gill says:—

As we had such vague ideas of the distance before us we were anxious to make an early start, but we were now in Yunnan, the province of China in which there is more opium smoked than in any other, and in which it is proportionately difficult to move the people in the morning. There is a Chinese proverb to the effect that there is an opium pipe in every house in the province of Kweichow, but one in every room in Yunnan, which means that men and women smoke opium universally.

That is the report of a man who was not only a sagacious and close observer of all that he saw in his interesting journey, but who was wholly impartial and disinterested on the subject of opium smoking. Sir Robert Hart does not purport to give in this book correct returns of the quantity of opium smoked or imported, much less of the quantity grown in China. The replies of his subordinates at the different ports, many of them seven hundred or a thousand miles apart, all concur in speaking of the great difficulties they had in getting any figures at all. They are, therefore, not to be taken as absolutely trustworthy, and Sir Robert candidly admits that they are mere approximations. Before I had seen his book I had made a calculation of the probable number of opium smokers in China, on the assumption that the population of China proper was three hundred and sixty millions, and that the custom was universal, limited only by the means of procuring the drug; and I arrived at the conclusion that there were in China three millions of habitual smokers, and about the same number of occasional smokers. Mr. Lennox Simpson, Commissioner at Chefoo, in reply to Sir Robert Hart’s circular, says, at page 13 of the Yellow Book:

Much difficulty has been experienced in eliciting answers to the various questions put to the native opium shops and others, all viewing with suspicion any inquiries made, evidently fearing that some prohibition is about to be put on the trade, or that their interests are in some way to suffer. Hence some of the figures given in the return can scarcely be considered reliable, although every pains has been taken to collect information.

[Pg 95]These commissioners are all gentlemen of good standing and education, and they have a great many subordinates under them, so that they possess means of collecting information such as no foreigner, not engaged in the public service of China, could possibly command. Mr. Francis W. White, the Commissioner at Hankow, replied:

Owing to the entire absence of all reliable figures, the amount of opium put down as produced within the province and within the empire yearly, must be taken as approximate only. I have been careful to collect information from various sources, and this has been as carefully compared and verified as means will allow.

Mr. Holwell, the Commissioner at Kiukiang, wrote:

The total quantity of unprepared native opium, said to be produced yearly in the province of Kiangsi, I find it next to impossible to ascertain with any degree of certainty. Native testimony differs.

I will point out by-and-by the reason why these returns are so unreliable. The most extraordinary of them all are the returns of Mr. E. B. Drew, the Commissioner at Ningpo, and Mr. H. Edgar, the Commissioner at Ichang. The former estimates the entire quantity of native opium grown and consumed in China at two hundred and sixty-five thousand chests, the latter at only twenty-five thousand—less than a tenth of Mr. Drew’s estimate. In the face of all these discrepancies, Sir Robert Hart takes an arbitrary figure, and says, in effect, there is at least as much opium produced in China itself as is imported into China. With the knowledge I have of the Chinese and the opium trade generally, from the calculations I have made, and by the light thrown upon the question by Sir Robert Hart’s Yellow Book, and the Reports of Messrs. Spence and Baber and others, I am induced to come to the conclusion that two hundred and sixty-five thousand chests is much nearer the mark than a hundred thousand chests.

The reason the Chinese opium dealers have been so reticent in affording information to the Commissioners of Customs at these Treaty Ports is, that they are afraid to do so, fearing if they gave correct information, they might in so doing furnish to the Mandarins reasons for “squeezing” them, or for placing taxes and other restrictions on their trade; for the Government officials in China, from the highest to the lowest, are, as I have before said, the most corrupt, cruel,[Pg 96] and unscrupulous body of men in the whole world. Mr. Storrs Turner has told us that the Chinese Government is a paternal one, exercising a fatherly care of its people, and always exhorting them to virtue. Nothing can be more fallacious than this. Theoretically, there is much that is good in the system of government in China, but practically it is quite the reverse. There is little sympathy between the supreme Government and the great body of the people. The Emperor, his family, and immediate suite, are all Tartars, quite another race from the Chinese, differing totally in customs, manners, dress, and social habits. The Governors or Viceroys are pretty much absolute sovereigns within their own provinces. Each has under him a host of officials, commonly known as Mandarins, who are generally the most rapacious and corrupt of men; their salaries, in most cases, are purely nominal, for they are expected to pay themselves, which they well understand how to do. Their system of taxation is irregular and incomplete, and the process of squeezing is openly followed all over the country. There is nothing a Chinese dreads so much as disclosing his pecuniary means, or, indeed, any information that might furnish a clue to them. If he admitted that he cultivated fifty acres of opium, or bought a hundred pikuls of opium in a year, his means and his profits could be arrived at by a simple process of arithmetic, and although he might feel sure that, so far as Sir Robert Hart and the foreign Commissioners under him were concerned, no wrong need be apprehended, yet he is so distrustful and suspicious, that he would fear lest the facts should reach the ears of the higher Chinese officials through the native subordinates in the Commissioners’ Offices.

A Chinaman, therefore, will never tell the amount or value of his property, or the profits he is making by his business. He fears being plundered; that is the simple fact. I know a respectable man in Hong Kong, the possessor of considerable house property there, a man who would be called wealthy even in England. Some years ago, when at Canton, where he had a house, a Mandarin suddenly arrested and put him into prison. What a Chinese prison is you will find in Dr. Gray’s book. It is not the place where a paternal Government ought to house the worst of criminals, or even a wild beast. The man had committed no crime, and had[Pg 97] done nothing whatever to warrant this treatment; in vain he asked what he had been imprisoned for, and demanded to be confronted with his accusers, if there were any. His gaolers shrugged their shoulders and gave him no answer. He was kept there for two or three months. Ultimately he received a hint, which he recognized as an official intimation, that unless he came down handsomely, as the phrase is, and that speedily, he would lose his head. He took the hint, made the best bargain he could, and ultimately had to pay seventy thousand dollars, or about fourteen thousand pounds, for his release. There never was any accusation brought against him.

I knew another man, living at Swatow, who had made a great deal of money in trade. He bought a large piece of foreshore at that place, which he reclaimed and turned into profitable land. A military Mandarin living there thought him a fair object for a squeeze; the same process was gone through as in the case I have before mentioned; but this man, not having the same wisdom as the other, held fast to his dollars. The result was that a false charge of kidnapping, alleged to have been committed twenty years before, was brought against him, and he was taken out and beheaded. That is the way money is raised by the governors and their subordinates in China. So much for Mr. Turner’s benign and paternal Government. There is no regular Income Tax in China, but there is a Property Tax levied in the way I have mentioned. The Chinese authorities will let a man go on making money for many years, and when they think he has accumulated sufficient wealth for their purpose, they pounce down upon him and demand as much as they think they can extort. That is the reason the Chinese opium dealers are so reticent when inquiries are made concerning opium. If the Commissioners at the Treaty Ports had got fair returns, I have no doubt that it is not a hundred thousand pikuls of native opium that Sir Robert Hart would have estimated as the quantity of opium grown in China, but probably four or five times that amount.

Here, again, I must quote from Mr. Spence’s report. Nothing can possibly show better the prevalence of opium smoking in the provinces of Szechuan and Yunnan and Hupah, they being about equal in extent to France, Spain,[Pg 98] and Portugal. This is what he says on the prevalence of opium smoking in those provinces:—

Before giving an estimate of the amount of opium produced in Szechuan, I must refer, in explanation of the large figures I shall be obliged to use, to the extraordinary prevalence of the habit of opium smoking in Western Hupei, in Szechuan, and in Yunnan. It prevails to an extent undreamt of in other parts of China. The Roman Catholic missionaries, who are stationed all over Szechuan to the number of nearly one hundred, and who, living amongst the people, have opportunities of observation denied to travellers, estimate that one-tenth of the whole male adult population of the province smoke opium. Mr. Parker, after travelling all over the thickly-settled parts of the province, estimates the proportion of smokers thus:—

    Per cent.
Labourers and small farmers   10
Small shopkeepers   20
Hawkers, soldiers   30
Merchants, gentry   80
Officials and their staffs   90
Actors, prostitutes, thieves, vagabonds   95

I agree with Mr. Parker that the proportion of smokers varies in different classes according to their means and leisure, but I feel sure his estimate of the per-centage amongst the labouring classes is much too low. One of the most numerous class of labourers in China is the coolie class, day labourers who live by picking up odd jobs, turning their hands to any kind of unskilled work that may be offered. Certainly more than half of them smoke. Of the labouring classes who are not “coolies,” as a whole this much may be said—they only have money at stated intervals; and when out of a gang of forty or fifty workmen or sailors only four or five smoke opium, it does not mean that only ten per cent. are smokers. In all probability half of the whole gang squandered their wages the day they got the money, and have nothing left to buy opium or anything else until the job or voyage for which they have been engaged is finished.

For example, of my junk crew on my voyage to Chungking, only four smoked opium regularly, but seven others who had spent all their wages before we started smoked whenever I gave them a few cash. The total abstinence of a British sailor at sea for months on end proves nothing; it is what he will do when he has ten pounds in his pocket, and is in a street with fifteen public-houses, that decides his sobriety. So of workmen in the west of China, a large number smoke opium when they have money, and do the best they can when they have none. Whatever be the exact per-centage of the opium smokers in Szechuan in the whole population, it is many times larger than in the east.

Now, after all this absolutely irrefutable testimony, many might think it unnecessary to go further. They little know, however, how strong a hold fanaticism takes of the human mind; they little think how difficult it is to eradicate a fascinating LIE from the mind, once its glittering[Pg 99] meretricious form has got hold of it and supplanted wholesome truth. I have, therefore, to deal not only with those whose minds are as a sheet of white paper, but with those in whom the fallacious seeds that beget error and fanaticism have been sown and taken firm root. I will now give you an extract from Sir Rutherford Alcock’s paper, which is deserving of careful study:—

I may say here, that although most of the staple arguments and misleading opinions on opium and its disastrous effects come from the missionaries in China, whose good faith I do not question, there is no stronger protest against exaggerated and sensational statements on record than has been supplied by one of their number, the late Dr. Medhurst, of whom it has been truly said, he was “one of the most able, experienced, zealous missionaries in China.” Opposed in principle to the opium trade in all its aspects, his statements will be readily accepted as unimpeachable evidence. The following remark appears in an official paper, forwarded to the Chief Superintendent of Trade of Hong Kong in 1855. Alluding to a speech of an American missionary who had visited England, and was reported to have told the British public “that the smokers of the contraband article have increased from eight to fifteen millions, yielding an annual death harvest of more than a million,” and further characterizing the traffic as “staining the British name in China with the deepest disgrace,” Dr. Medhurst observes, “such statements do great harm; they produce a fictitious and groundless excitement in the minds of the religious and philanthropic public at home, while they steel against all reasonable and moderate representations the minds of the political and mercantile body abroad. The estimate given has not even the semblance of truth; it is an outrageous exaggeration.” And yet in a memorial presented to Lord Clarendon by two distinguished and justly respected noblemen, the Earls of Shaftesbury and Chichester, on the extent of the opium trade in 1855, these, and still more “outrageous exaggerations” appear with the authority of their names. Lord Shaftesbury officializes the estimate that twenty millions of Chinese are opium smokers, and assumes that of this number one-tenth, that is, two millions, die yearly, and states it as “an appalling fact.” Appalling, indeed! But what if it be a mere figment of the imagination, and absolutely devoid, as Dr. Medhurst says, of a semblance of truth?

This is the way the benevolent British public have been cajoled and misled for the last twenty years, or more, by opium-phobists. No wonder that the Anti-Opium Society can raise fifty thousand pounds so easily, for the British public is a benevolent one, and will subscribe its gold readily where what they believe a proper object presents itself. Sad, indeed it is, that in the present case its munificence represents, not merely so much money lost, but vast sums recklessly squandered in a mischievous agitation, that whilst it[Pg 100] tends to sap and ruin one of the loveliest of all virtues—that charity that endureth long and is kind—paralyses missionary labour, prejudices the trade and revenue of our great Indian Empire, and defames our country in the eyes of the whole world. Sad, sad also to see that venerated nobleman, Lord Shaftesbury, after his long and honourable career, and so many other good and eminent men, made the victims of such miserable delusions.

I think it is now clear, both from the testimony I have adduced, and from Mr. Turner’s own admission, that the poppy is not only indigenous to China, but that it has been cultivated there from time immemorial, and that opium is smoked generally throughout China, the only limit to its use being the means of procuring the drug.



[Pg 101]


In my last lecture I dealt with the fallacy that the poppy is not indigenous to China, but has recently been introduced there presumably by British agency, and that opium smoking in China was confined to a small percentage of the people, which had been steadily increasing since the introduction into China of Indian opium.

I now proceed to discuss fallacy number 3, which is, that “opium smoking is injurious to the system, more so than spirit drinking.” I think I shall be able to show most clearly that exactly the reverse is the case. With this it will be convenient to take fallacy number 5, which is a kindred one, namely, that “opium smoking and opium eating are equally hurtful.” This fallacy lies at the root of the opium controversy, for it alone has enabled the Anti-Opium agitators to give plausibility to their teaching and to obtain some hold, as they lately had, upon the public mind. There is, in truth, about as much difference in the two practices as there is between drinking, say, a pint of ardent spirits and bathing the surface of one’s body with the same stimulant. Before proceeding further, it may be stated that opium is admitted by physicians in all countries to be an invaluable medicine, for which there is no known substitute. Mr. Storrs Turner says that from the time of Hippocrates to the present day it has been the physician’s invaluable ally in his struggles against disease and death.

Pereira thus describes the drug:—

Opium is undoubtedly the most important and valuable remedy of the whole Materia Medica. For other medicines we have one or more substitutes, but for opium none,—at least in the large majority of cases in which its peculiar and beneficial influence is required. Its good effects are not, as is the case with some valuable medicines, remote and[Pg 102] contingent, but they are immediate, direct, and obvious, and its operation is not attended with pain or discomfort. Furthermore it is applied, and with the greatest success, to the relief of maladies of everyday occurrence, some of which are attended with acute human suffering.

This is the description given of opium in Dr. Quain’s Dictionary of Medicine recently published:—

Opium and morphia naturally stand first and still hold their place as our most potent and reliable narcotics, all the more valuable because almost alone in their class they are also endowed with powerful anodyne action, in virtue of which they may relieve pain without causing sleep. Valuable as it is in all forms of insomnia, opium is especially indicated in typhus fever and other acute disorders, when delirium and prolonged wakefulness seem to endanger life. The principal drawback to opium is the digestive disturbance following its use, and the fact that, as toleration is very rapidly established, gradually increasing doses are needed to check the counteracting influence of habit.

The Anti-Opium Society and their followers allege that dram-drinking is not only less baneful than opium-smoking, but they say that the latter practice so injures the constitution, and has such extraordinary attractions for those who indulge in it, that it is impossible to get rid of the habit, and that, in effect, whilst drunkards can be reformed, opium smokers cannot. This is absolutely untrue. The reverse is much nearer the mark. The effect upon the system of constant spirit drinking, leaving actual drunkenness and its consequences aside, is that it produces organic changes in the system, by acting upon what medical men call the “microscopic tissues,” of which the whole human frame is made up; also poisoning the blood, which then, instead of being a healthy fluid coursing freely through the frame and invigorating the entire system, flows sluggishly, producing organic changes in the blood vessels, inducing various diseases according to the constitution and tendencies of the individual. Three of the most usual diseases to which the habitual dram drinker is subject are liver disease, fatty degeneration of the heart, and paralysis. There is not a medical student of three months’ experience who could not, if you entered a dissecting-room, point you out a “drunkard’s liver.” The moment he sees that object he knows at once that the wretched being to whom it belonged had, by continued indulgence in alcohol, ruined his constitution and health, and brought himself to an untimely end. There is another serious consequence arising from habitual drinking. Not[Pg 103] only does the habit irreparably ruin the general health so that cure is impossible, but it induces insanity, and I believe I am not beyond the mark in stating that fifty per cent. at the least of the lunatics in our various asylums throughout the country have become insane from over-indulgence in alcohol. Dr. Pereira, in his celebrated Materia Medica, states that out of one hundred and ten cases occurring in male patients admitted into the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum in 1840, no fewer than thirty-one were ascribed to intemperance, while thirty-four were referred to combined causes of which intemperance was stated to be one; and yet Mr. Turner and his disciples say that spirit drinking is a lesser vice than opium smoking!

I need not remind you of the consequences to others besides the actual victims to spirit drinking, for that is unfortunately told too eloquently and but too vividly brought before us every day in the public newspapers. You will find that those acts of violence, those unfortunate cases that make one shudder to read, happening daily in this country—kicking wives, sometimes to death, beating and otherwise ill-using helpless children, violently attacking unoffending people in the streets—all are the results, more or less, of spirit drinking. Even the missionaries admit that opium smoking does not produce any of these evils. As I have said before, truth is natural to the human mind, and will reveal itself, even where it is not directly relevant to the purpose. Mr. Turner does not venture to dispute this in his book, and I would call your attention to the passage. He says on page 33:—

Even between drunkenness and opium smoking there are perceptible distinctions. We must allow that opium smoking is a much more pacific and polite vice. The opium sot does not quarrel with his mate nor kick his wife to death; he is quiet and harmless enough while the spirit of the drug possesses him.

That is all true so far as the fact goes, but if an insinuation is intended that the Chinaman gets violent after the effect of the drug has passed away, there is no foundation for it in fact. The Chinaman takes opium just because he likes it, and knowing it will act at once as a pleasing sedative and a harmless stimulant. A man who is working hard all day in a tropical climate, whether at bodily or mental work, finds, towards the close of the day, his nervous[Pg 104] system in an unsettled state, and looks for a stimulant, and the most harmless and most effectual one he can find is the opium pipe. When opium and opium smoking are better understood—and I believe the subject is now but imperfectly known by most medical men in this country—I feel convinced that the faculty will largely prescribe opium smoking, not merely as a substitute for dram drinking, but as a curative agency, that in many cases will be found invaluable. In this I am borne out by an eminent medical authority, to whom I shall refer by-and-by. The regular and habitual opium smoker is seldom or never found to indulge in spirits at all. Stimulants of all kinds are so freely taken here that people never look upon them as a poison; but in point of fact they are a terrible poison, and a very active one, too. Another medical work of very great authority is that by Dr. Taylor.[7] It has always received the greatest attention in courts of law; and it is also held in the highest estimation by the medical profession. At page 315, under the head of “Poisoning by Alcohol,” he says:—

The stomach has been found intensely congested or inflamed, the mucous membrane presenting in one case a bright red, and in another a dark red-brown colour. When death has taken place rapidly, there may be a peculiar odour of spirits in the contents; but this will not be perceived if the quantity taken was small, or many hours have elapsed before the inspection is made. The brain and its membranes are found congested, and in some instances there is effusion of blood or serum beneath the inner membrane. In a case observed by Dr. Geoghegan, in which a pint of spirits had been taken and proved fatal in eight hours, black extravasation was found on the mucous membrane of the stomach; but no trace of alcohol could be detected in the contents. The action of a strong alcoholic liquid on the mucous membrane of the stomach so closely resembles the effect produced by arsenic and other irritants, as easily to give rise to the suspicion of mineral irritant poisoning. A drawing in the museum collection of Guy’s Hospital furnishes a good illustration of the local action of alcohol. The whole of the mucous membrane of the stomach is highly corrugated and is of a deep brownish-red colour. Of all the liquids affecting the brain this has the most powerful action on the stomach. A case of alcoholic poisoning of a child, æt. seven, referred to me by Mr. Jackaman, coroner for Ipswich, in July 1863, will serve to show the correctness of this remark. A girl was found at four o’clock in the morning lying perfectly insensible on the floor. She had had access to some brandy, which she had swallowed from a quartern[Pg 105] measure, found near her empty. She had spoken to her mother only ten minutes before, so that the symptoms must have come on very rapidly. She was seen by Mr. Adams four hours afterwards. She was then quite insensible, in a state of profound coma, the skin cold, and covered with a clammy perspiration. There had been slight vomiting. The child died in twelve hours, without recovering consciousness, from the time at which she was first found.

So far Dr. Taylor, a most competent authority on the subject, as showing what a poison alcohol is. Now alcohol, as I have before mentioned, effects an organic change in the system, which opium, if smoked, or even if eaten does not; and when spirits are indulged in to a very considerable extent, the disease produced is absolutely incurable, because it is impossible for any medical skill to give a man new tissues, new blood, a new stomach, or a new liver, where the whole substance and material of all has undergone a complete and ruinous change. Now, the case as regards opium is totally different, because, no matter how much one may indulge in opium, whether in eating or smoking, the effects produced are always curable. This is so as regards opium eating; in respect to the infinitely less exciting practice of opium smoking, the rule applies with very much greater force. A man may smoke opium inordinately until, from want of appetite and impaired digestion, he seems sinking into the grave; he is, however, only labouring under functional derangement, which is always curable. The use of opium in any form produces no organic change in the system whatever. Excessive eating or smoking opium may impair the appetite and digestion, but that will be all. I have very competent medical authority for saying this. This fact places opium and alcohol in two entirely different categories. The one, if eaten in moderation, is, I believe, harmless, if not beneficial; while, as to the smoking of the drug, it is absolutely innocuous;—but if alcohol be freely though not inordinately used, it will prove, sooner or later, destructive to the system, acting upon the frame as a slow poison, which must eventually end, as experience shows, in ruin and death. De Quincey tells us in his Confessions that he ate opium with impunity for eighteen years, and that it was only after eight years abuse of opium eating that he suffered in any way from the practice.

I will now give you another extract from Dr. Pereira’s[Pg 106] book. At page 446, under the heading “Consequences of Habitual Drunkenness,” he says:—

The continued use of spirituous liquors gives rise to various morbid conditions of system, a few only of the most remarkable of which can be here referred to. One of these is the disease known by the various names of delirium tremens, d. potatorum, oinomapria, &c., and which is characterized by delirium, tremor of the extremities, wakefulness, and great frequency of pulse. The delirium is of a peculiar kind. It usually consists in the imagined presence of objects which the patient is anxious to seize or avoid. Its pathology is not understood. It is sometimes, but not constantly, connected with or dependent on an inflammatory condition of the brain, or its membranes. Sometimes it is more allied to nervous fever. Opium has been found an important agent in relieving it. Insanity is another disease produced by the immoderate and habitual use of spirituous liquors.

Now I do not think that, much as they have abused opium smoking, any of the Anti-Opium writers have ever alleged insanity to be an effect or concomitant of opium smoking. It must therefore be taken as generally admitted that opium smoking, or even opium eating, does not produce insanity. We have, then, this undisputed fact, viz. that insanity and acts of violence do not result from opium smoking, whilst they are unquestionably produced by spirit drinking.

I had recently some conversation on the subject of opium with a medical friend who has been in large practice in London, for twenty years. I had previously spoken to him frequently on the same subject, and he has been kind enough to give me his views in a very interesting and concise manner. This opinion, I may tell you, is not paid for, or prepared merely to support a particular purpose, as in the case of trials in the law courts. It is purely spontaneous. We all know that professional men, whether doctors, lawyers, surveyors, and others, are all more or less prone to take the views of the party requiring their services, and they, accordingly, will give opinions more or less coinciding with those views. It does not, however, follow that the persons doing so are guilty of any moral wrong, or that they write or state what they do not believe to be true; on the contrary, they have a complete faith in the statements they make. The natural bent of the mind is to lean towards the views urged by one’s patient or client; and thus two physicians or lawyers of the highest standing and character will be found to hold[Pg 107] different opinions. But this statement with which I have been furnished stands on an entirely different footing. There can have been no bias in the mind of the writer; it is simply the result of study and experience. I have the most perfect confidence in this gentleman’s opinions. He is Mr. William Brend, M.R.C.S. He says:—

There is no organic disease traceable to the use of opium, either directly or indirectly, and whether used in moderate quantities or even in great excess. In other words, there is no special disease associated with opium. Functional disorder, more or less, may be, and no doubt is, induced by the improper or unnecessary use of opium; but this is only what may be said of any other cause of deranged health, such as gluttony, bad air, mental anxiety....

However great the functional disorder produced by opium, even when carried to great excess, may be, the whole effect passes off, and the bodily system is restored in a little while to a state of complete health, if the habit be discontinued. Alcohol, when taken in moderation, unquestionably benefits a certain number of individuals, but there are others whose systems will not tolerate the smallest quantities; it acts upon them like a poison. But in the case of all persons when alcohol is taken in excess disease is sooner or later produced; that disease consists of organic changes induced in the blood-vessels of the entire system, more especially the minute blood-vessels called the capillaries; these become dilated, and consequently weakened in their coats, and eventually paralyzed, so that they cannot contract upon the blood. The result of this is stagnation, leading to further changes still, such as fatty degeneration of all the organs; for it must be remembered that alcohol circulates with the blood, and thus finds its way into the remotest tissues. The special diseases referrable to alcohol, besides this general fatty degeneration, are the disease of the liver called “cirrhosis,” and very frequently “Bright’s disease of the kidneys.” Here, then, we have a great and important difference between opium and alcohol. The second great difference grows out of the first. It is this:—I have said that if alcohol be taken in excess for a certain length of time, depending to some extent upon the susceptibility of the individual, organic change, that is disease, is inevitable; but the saddest part of it is that it is real disease, not merely functional disorder; so that if those who have yielded to that excess can be persuaded to abandon alcohol entirely the mischief induced must remain. The progress of further evil may be staved off, but the system can never again be restored to perfect health. The demon has taken a grip which can never be entirely unloosed. Herein there is the second great difference between the use of opium and of alcohol in excess.

If what I have said of opium eating be true, common sense will draw the inference that opium smoking must be comparatively innocuous, for used in this way, a very small quantity indeed of the active constituents find their entrance into the system. Its influence, like tobacco, is exerted entirely upon the nervous system, and when that influence has passed off it leaves (as also in the case of tobacco) a greater or less craving for its repetition; but as organic disease is not the result, I see no reason why opium smoking in moderation necessarily degrades the individual more than does the smoking of tobacco.

[Pg 108]Here I will give you another extract from Mr. Storrs Turner’s book, which tells against his case very strongly indeed. How he came to insert it I can only understand on the principle I have already mentioned, that truth is inherent to the human mind and will reveal itself occasionally even though it has to struggle through a mountain of prejudice and of warped understanding. This is it, from the evidence of Dr. Eatwell, First Assistant Opium Examiner in the Bengal service; it will be found on page 233:—

Having passed three years in China, I may be allowed to state the results of my observation, and I can affirm thus far, that the effects of the abuse of the drug do not come very frequently under observation, and that when cases do occur, the habit is frequently found to have been induced by the presence of some painful chronic disease, to escape from the sufferings of which the patient has fled to this resource. That this is not always the case, however, I am perfectly ready to admit, and there are doubtless many who indulge in the habit to a pernicious extent, led by the same morbid impulses which induce men to become drunkards in even the most civilised countries; but these cases do not, at all events, come before the public eye. It requires no laborious search in civilized England to discover evidences of the pernicious effects of the abuse of alcoholic liquors; our open and thronged gin-palaces, and our streets afford abundant testimony on the subject; but in China this open evidence of the evil effects of opium is at least wanting. As regards the effects of the habitual use of the drug on the mass of the people, I must affirm that no injurious results are visible. The people generally are a muscular and well-formed race, the labouring portion being capable of great and prolonged exertion under a fierce sun, in an unhealthy climate. Their disposition is cheerful and peaceable, and quarrels and brawls are rarely heard amongst even the lower orders; whilst in general intelligence they rank deservedly high amongst Orientals. I will, therefore, conclude with observing, that the proofs are still wanting to show that the moderate use of opium produces more pernicious effects upon the constitution than does the moderate use of spirituous liquors; whilst, at the same time, it is certain that the consequences of the abuse of the former are less appalling in their effect upon the victim, and less disastrous to society at large, than are consequences of the abuse of the latter.

Could any evidence against the allegations of the Anti-Opium Society be stronger than this? Have I not now a right to say, “Out of the mouth of thine own witness I convict thee!”

My own observation goes to show that opium smoking is far more fascinating than opium eating, and that the opium smoker never relapses into the opium eater. Opium eating, as I think I have already stated, is unknown in China. I think these statements put the question as regards opium smoking, opium eating, and spirit drinking in a very different[Pg 109] light to what the advocates of the Anti-Opium Society throw upon the subject. The latter talk of the importation of Indian opium into China as the origin of the custom of smoking the drug, or, at the least, that it has made the natives smoke more than they otherwise would have done. There is no truth in such representations. Let us take the year 1880, for instance, and adopting the figures given by Sir Robert Hart, and concurred in by the British merchants, which I take to be quite correct, that the amount of opium imported into China from India was in that year one hundred thousand chests, each chest weighing a pikul, which would amount to about six thousand tons. Distribute those six thousand tons over the whole of China, which, as I have before so often said, is as large as Europe, and with a population amounting to three hundred and sixty millions, and you will find it gives such a trifling annual amount to each person, that Sir Robert Hart cannot mark from its use any damage to the finances of the State, the wealth of its people, or the growth of its population. In the United Kingdom, where we have less than a tenth of the population of China, there were two hundred thousand tons of alcohol—whisky, gin, brandy—and one thousand and ninety millions four hundred and forty-four thousand seven hundred and sixteen gallons of wine and beer consumed in that year. If all these spirits, wine, and beer were mixed up so as to form one vast lake—one huge “devil’s punch-bowl”—there would be sufficient liquor for the whole population of the United Kingdom to swim in at one time. But if the tears of all the broken-hearted wives, widows, and orphans that flowed from the use of the accursed mixture were collected, they would produce such a sea of sorrow, such an ocean of misery as never before was presented to the world. Yet philanthropists and Christian people in this country give all their time, energies, and a great deal of their money to put down this purely sentimental grievance in China, and shut their eyes to the terrible evils thundering at their own doors!

The whole purpose of Mr. Storrs Turner’s book, and of the Anti-Opium Society, is to write down opium smoking in China, with the ultimate view of suppressing the Indo-China opium trade; and no man living is better aware than Mr. Turner that opium eating is not a practice with the Chinese; indeed, I doubt if it is known in China at all. Yet, knowing all this,[Pg 110] he puts forward the outrageous theory that opium smoking and opium eating are equally injurious; it therefore becomes a matter of the first importance that the great difference between these two practices should be clearly shown. In the appendix to Mr. Turner’s book there is a mass of evidence, of which a large portion is quite beside the question, for it applies exclusively to opium eating—a practice, I assert and will clearly show, is totally different from, and a thousand times more trying to the constitution than opium smoking. Dr. Ayres says that opium smokers can smoke in one day as much opium as would, if eaten, poison one hundred men, and Dr. Ayres is a very great authority on the subject; for not only has he a large practice among the better classes of Chinese, all of whom are, more or less, opium smokers, but his daily duties bring him into contact with the criminal classes, who are most prone to excessive sensual indulgence of this kind.

This is what Dr. Ayres says upon the subject in his article in the Friend of China:—

As regards opium smoking, no prisoner who confessed to be an opium smoker has been allowed a single grain in the gaol. Neither has he had any stimulant as a substitute, and I do not find there has been any evil consequence in breaking off this habit at once, nor that any precaution has been necessary, further than a closer attention to the general health. Several very good specimens of opium smokers have come under observation; one was the case of a man whose daily consumption had been two ounces a day for nineteen years, and who was allowed neither opium nor gin, nor was he given any narcotic or stimulant. For the first few days he suffered from want of sleep, but soon was in fair health, and expressed himself much pleased at having got rid of the habit.... In my experience, the habit does no physical harm in moderation. In the greatest case of excess just mentioned at the gaol, a better-nourished or developed man for his size it would be difficult to see.

So far as regards opium eating, the best medical authorities are divided as to whether opium eating or drinking in moderation is injurious to the system at all. In any case, opium eating is not the question before us, nor the subject of these lectures, which is opium smoking in China. Mr. Storrs Turner gives, in his appendix, at page 240, extracts from some statements of Lieut.-Col. James Todd, who says:—

This pernicious plant (the poppy) has robbed the Rajpoot of half his virtues, and while it obscures these it heightens his vices, giving to his natural bravery a character of insane ferocity, and to the countenance which would otherwise beam with intelligence an air of imbecility.

[Pg 111]That entirely relates to the eating of the drug by the Rajpoots of India, and has no connection or analogy to opium smoking by the Chinese. There is another quotation on the same page from Dr. Oppenheim, given in Pereira’s Materia Medica as follows:—

The habitual opium eater is instantly recognised by his appearance: a total attenuation of body, a withered, yellow countenance, a lame gait, &c.

And so on. This, as you see, applies to opium eating only. There are many other instances of the effects of such use of opium given in the appendix, which, after these two quotations, it is useless to further repeat. Indeed, so far as relevancy to his subject goes, Mr. Storrs Turner might just as well have introduced into his book medical or other testimony as to the effects of gluttony or spirit drinking. It suits his purpose, however, to mix up the two practices, so as to confuse and mislead his readers. Dr. Oppenheim’s statement, by the way, is completely refuted by Dr. Sir George Birdwood, a distinguished physician, whose long residence in Bombay,—where there is a Chinese colony, most, if not all, of whom are habitual smokers of the drug,—and whose thorough acquaintance with the effects of opium eating and opium smoking, entitle his testimony to the very highest consideration. Again, at p. 8 of Mr. Turner’s volume, reference is made to De Quincey’s book on opium eating, intituled, “The Confessions of an English Opium Eater.” Could anything be more disingenuous than this? De Quincey was an opium eater, not an opium smoker. Here is the passage from Mr. Turner’s book to which I have referred:—

Those “Confessions,” which are not confessions, but an apologia pro vitâ suâ, an elaborate essay to whitewash his reputation and varnish over the smirching blot of a self-indulgent habit by a glitter of a fascinating literary style.

Now did anyone ever hear of such an extraordinary explanation of De Quincey’s motives in publishing that volume? De Quincey, he says, in effect, was ashamed of the practice of opium eating, and wrote the book as an excuse for his conduct, so horrible, disgraceful, and debasing, according to Mr. Storrs Turner, is—not opium eating, observe you, but—opium smoking. How fallacious are such arguments I think I shall make apparent to the most simple mind. If a man has the[Pg 112] misfortune to have contracted a disgraceful habit, such, for instance, as over-indulgence in spirit drinking, the very last thing he would think of doing is to publish a book upon the subject, and thus acquaint the whole world with his infirmity. Yet this is what Mr. Turner alleges against De Quincey. But, in point of fact, he is altogether wrong in supposing that De Quincey was ashamed of opium eating; if he had been, he unquestionably would not have written his book, which, by the way, is one of the most fascinating volumes in our literature. Previous to the publication of it, probably there were not half a dozen people who knew that he, De Quincey, was an opium eater, and in the preface to the work, he says, “that his self-accusation does not amount to a confession of guilt.” I know Mr. Turner to be a gentleman utterly incapable of wilfully acting disingenuously, much less of stating intentionally what he knew to be untrue; but he is so blinded by prejudice, his naturally clear intellect is so warped and distorted, and his faculties and reasoning powers are so perverted, by this opium question, and his duties towards the Anti-Opium Society, that he either does not see the difference between the two things,—opium smoking and opium eating,—or, aware of that difference, thinks himself justified in classing them together, as they both proceed from opium, and thus he would persuade himself and his readers that they are equally baneful. But in this book of his he takes De Quincey, the opium eater, who confesses to having eaten three hundred and twenty grains a day, and compares him with an opium-smoking Chinaman who smoked one hundred and eighty grains a day; the difference between eating three hundred and twenty grains and smoking one hundred and eighty grains a day being about as a thousand is to one, in fact, in such case it would be simply the difference between life and death; and yet Mr. Storrs Turner would strive to mix up the two practices, so that the incautious reader might infer that the effects of the one were as injurious as those of the other. Such is the class of arguments with which the Anti-Opium Society and its credulous supporters have been satisfied, and upon which the whole religious world, the country, and the legislature are called upon to come to the rescue of injured humanity, and abolish this Indo-China opium trade.

[Pg 113]Now, as De Quincey is on the tapis, I cannot refrain from exposing a very disgraceful piece of deception which has been practised upon the public by some of the agents or supporters of the Anti-Opium Society since the first edition of my Lectures appeared. This work of De Quincey, as I have intimated, is a very entertaining book; it is the first of a series of fourteen volumes by the same author, published in 1880 by the eminent firm of Adam and Charles Black, of Edinburgh; the price of each volume is two shillings, which is very moderate indeed, taking the character and quality of the letterpress, the paper, and general “get up” into account, for, as for the copyright, it has expired. Although Mr. Storrs Turner has mis-described the book as a penitential effort on the part of De Quincey, I am afraid that the effect of its perusal on most readers would be to induce them rather to become opium eaters than repel them from the practice, as will be manifest from an extract which I shall shortly give the reader. The truth is, De Quincey, who knew human nature very well, lived by his pen, and was actuated more by the desire to amuse than reform his readers—for, say as you will, a well presented comedy will be always more popular with the multitude than a tragedy, however skilfully performed. Now, I am far from impugning the main features of our author’s “confessions,” but in saying that in writing this very fascinating and original book he went extensively into the picturesque, and drew largely on his imagination, no person who will afford himself the pleasure of reading the book can, I think, deny. Now, some very zealous agent or advocate of the Anti-Opium Society, fearing that the effect of this work of De Quincey’s—brought as it has been into notice in connection with this controversy by Mr. Turner’s and my own book—might be to induce the reading public to think that opium, after all, was not so terrible a drug as the Anti-Opium agitators represent, has set himself to the ignoble task of so garbling the work, and importing into it other matter of his own, as to represent opium eating as the most terrible, fearful, and demoralizing practice in the world, and then printing the concoction and flooding the country with the impudent travesty at the very moderate charge of one penny. All the entertaining and diverting passages have been suppressed, and some wretched stuff inserted. It is called on the title page[Pg 114] “The Confessions of an Opium Eater; the famous work by Thomas De Quincey. Copyright edition.” The whole is nothing more than a burlesque—and a very bad one indeed—of the real volume. In the first place, there is a lie upon the face of it, as the copyright has expired, and it is not in any respect a copy of the original; and secondly, it barely contains one-sixth of the matter of the actual volume, and has “counterfeit” stamped upon every page. It was exposed at the various book-stalls of Messrs. W. H. Smith and Son, in London, and, I believe, also throughout the country. I myself bought two copies at the Charing Cross station a few months ago, but I believe the delectable piece of literary forgery has since been withdrawn. I daresay, however, it has, to a great extent, answered its purpose, i.e. to poison the minds of its readers on the Opium question, by making it appear that opium is a terrible poison, and that the smoking of it is more injurious than the excessive indulgence in alcohol. This “pious fraud” has done a grievous wrong to the memory of a great English author, Thomas De Quincey—whose pure and classic English adorns our language—and also an injury to the general public who have advanced their money for the penny lie upon false pretences. The whole affair is just as defensible a proceeding as that of some tenth-rate dauber who, having copied (?) a masterpiece of Sir Joshua Reynolds, or some other great master of the English school, had the miserable caricature oleographed, and flooded the country with the imposture, in the hope of inducing the public to believe that true copies of the originals were offered to them. But these Anti-Opium fanatics do not stick at trifles, and, in their insane desire to make right appear wrong, do not hesitate to defame the dead and vilify the living. I have mentioned this incident to show my readers the unscrupulous efforts these people will resort to in order to impose their fictions upon the public.

Now, leaving De Quincey and his book for the present, let us see what Dr. Ayres says upon the difference between opium eating and opium smoking. In his article in The Friend of China, from which I have already quoted, he says:—

I have conducted my observations with much interest, as the effects of opium eating are well known to me by many years’ experience in India,[Pg 115] and I have been surprised to find the opium smoker differs so much from the opium eater. I am inclined to the belief that in the popular mind the two have got confused together. Opium smoking bears no comparison with opium eating. The latter is a terrible vice, most difficult to cure, and showing rapidly very marked constitutional effects in the consumer.

Dr. Ayres was quite right, the two have got mixed up together, thanks to Mr. Storrs Turner and his confrères. To further explain the difference between opium eating and opium smoking, let us take the familiar instance of tobacco smoking. It is not, I think, generally known that tobacco, taken internally, is a violent and almost instantaneous poison. A very small quantity of it admitted into the stomach produces speedy death, and it is a wonder to some medical men that its use has not been made available by assassins for their foul and deadly purposes. Tobacco has no medicinal properties; it is simply known to chemists and physicians as a poison. Its alkaloid, or active principle, is nicotine, a poison of so deadly and instantaneous a nature as to rank with aconite, strychnine, and prussic acid. Of the four, indeed, it takes the lead. In Taylor’s “Medical Jurisprudence,” to which I have already referred, it is laid down at page 321, under the head of “Poisoning by Tobacco”:—

The effects which this substance produces when taken in a large dose, either in the form of powder or infusion, are well marked. The symptoms are faintness, nausea, vomiting, giddiness, delirium, loss of power in the limbs, general relaxation of the muscular system, trembling, complete prostration of strength, coldness of the surface with cold clammy perspiration, convulsive movements, paralysis and death. In some cases there is purging, with violent pain in the abdomen; in others there is rather a sense of sinking or depression in the region of the heart, passing into syncope, or creating a sense of impending dissolution. With the above-mentioned symptoms there is dilatation of the pupils, dimness of sight with confusion of ideas, a small, weak, and scarcely-perceptible pulse, and difficulty of breathing. Poisoning by tobacco has not often risen to medico-legal discussion. This is the more remarkable as it is an easily accessible substance, and the possession of it would not, as in the case of other poisons, excite surprise or suspicion. In June, 1854, a man was charged with the death of an infant, of ten weeks, by poisoning it with tobacco. He placed a quantity of tobacco in the mouth of the infant, with the view, as he stated, of making it sleep. The infant was completely narcotized, and died on the second day.... Tobacco owes its poisonous properties to the presence of a liquid volatile alkaloid, nicotina.

[Pg 116]Whilst under the head “Nicotine,” on the same page, he says:—

This is a deadly poison, and, like prussic acid, it destroys life in small doses with great rapidity. I found that a rabbit was killed by a single drop in three minutes and a half. In fifteen seconds the animal lost all power of standing, was violently convulsed in its fore and hind legs, and its back was arched convulsively.

In Dr. Ure’s “Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines,” it is laid down, at page 250, under the head of “Nicotine”:—

This alkaloid is the active principle of the tobacco plant.... Nicotine is a most powerful poison, one drop put on the tongue of a large dog being sufficient to kill it in two or three minutes.

So much for tobacco and its alkaloid as deadly poisons; yet we all know that, unless indulged in to an inordinate extent, tobacco smoking is a perfectly harmless practice, almost universally indulged in; the exception now being to find a man, young or old, gentle or simple, who is not a tobacco smoker. Most of our greatest thinkers, philosophers, poets, statesmen, and mathematicians smoke it, and in most cases, I believe, with advantage. Indulged in moderately, it does no injury to the constitution, but I should rather say its effects are curative and beneficial; you will rarely find a heavy tobacco smoker a drunkard or even a spirit drinker. Yet this plant, which gives comfort and delight to millions of people, is a deadly poison if taken internally in even a minute quantity in its natural or manufactured state. So it is with opium; the habitual eating of it may be injurious, but the smoking is not only innocuous, but positively beneficial to the system. It is a complete preservative against dram drinking and drunkenness, for whilst it produces similar but far more agreeable effects on the nervous system than wine, it does not, like alcohol, poison the blood, destroy the health, and lead to ruin, disgrace, and death. Of course, opium-smoking, like every other luxury—tea, wine, spirits, beer, tobacco—may be abused, but the few who indulge excessively are infinitesimally small as compared with the many who abuse the use of alcoholic liquors. As to opium eating, an overdose produces death, but the opium smoker can indulge in[Pg 117] his luxury from, morning till night without any apparent injury. It is plain, therefore, that opium smoking and opium eating cannot be classed in the same category at all, but stand apart quite separately and distinctly.

I may here again appropriately refer to Sir Wilfrid Lawson’s speech at the Anti-Opium meeting at Newcastle. In the course of his remarks, the speaker referred with some humour to an Anti-Tobacco-smoking Society, a once active organization. At a meeting of this body held at Carlisle, it appears that the chief orator,—an energetic person, with wonderful powers of imagination and a fluent tongue, quite another Mr. Storrs Turner—having exhausted his power of vituperation in denouncing the Virginian weed and its terrible effects upon its votaries, alleged in particular that tobacco smoking tended to shorten human life, but here he was interrupted by one of the audience, a jovial middle-aged north countryman, who said, “I don’t know that Mr. Lecturer, for my father smoked till he was eighty!” “Ah!” exclaimed the other, quite equal, as he thought, to the occasion, “your father’s case was an exceptional one; he was an unusually strong, healthy man. Anyone who sees you, his hale, hearty son, must know that. Had he not been a tobacco smoker he would have lived much longer.” “I don’t know that either,” returned the countryman, “for he is alive and well and still smokes tobacco.” Now had Sir Wilfrid delivered that speech at a meeting formed to protest against the theories of the Anti-Tobacco Society, he would assuredly have scored; but, as matters stood, I must claim his speech as one made in favour of my views upon the opium question; for, to use a famous formula, I would say to the honourable baronet, “Would you be surprised to hear that I can produce to you, not only an aged father and son who are opium smokers, but a father, son, and grandson all living who follow that practice, and have done so all their lives without injury to health?”

But enjoyable as tobacco smoking may be, I contend that, to the Asiatic at least, opium smoking is not only a more agreeable but also a far more beneficial practice. Tobacco has no curative properties, but is simply a poison; opium is the most valuable medicine known; where all other sedatives fail its powers are prominent. As an anodyne no other medicine can equal it. There is[Pg 118] one property peculiar to opium, that is that it is non-volatilizable, or nearly so. If a piece of opium is put on a red-hot plate, it will not volatilize; that is, it will not disappear in the form of vapour, which by chemical means can be preserved in order to resume or retain its original character. But it will be destroyed by combustion; the heat will consume it in the same manner as it would destroy a piece of sugar or any other non-volatilizable body; whereas a substance that is volatilizable, like sulphur, on being subjected to the same process, instead of being destroyed, is simply given out in vapour, and by proper means may be caught again and reformed in the shape of sulphur. So when you place opium into a pipe and put the pellet to the lamp, the effect of the combustion is to destroy the active property of the opium; the smoker takes the smoke thrown off into his mouth, which he expels either through the mouth or nostrils. The only way, therefore, he can get any of the active property of the opium into his system is by smoking it like tobacco. Now tobacco, on the contrary, is volatilizable, but the poison is so volatile, and escapes so freely through the bowl of the pipe in the shape of vapour, and is so rapidly expelled from the mouth, that no harm is produced by the process of smoking the deadly poison, the natural recuperative power of the frame neutralizing the effects of the noisome vapour. The difference between opium and tobacco smoking appears to be this:—In the one case you take into your mouth the mere smoke of a valuable aromatic drug, which, when passed into the stomach in proper quantities as a medicine, has powerful curative properties, the smoke when expelled leaving no substance behind it, but in its passage exerting a pleasant and perfectly harmless stimulating effect upon the nerves.

In the case of tobacco, the fumes with the volatilized substance of a foul and poisonous weed having no curative properties whatever, and having the most loathsome and offensive smell to those who have not gone through the pain and misery necessary to accustom themselves to them, is taken into the mouth. Nicotine, the alkaloid of tobacco, is simply a deadly and rapid poison, useful only to the assassin. Morphia, the alkaloid of opium, is only poisonous when taken in an excessive quantity; whether used internally or injected under the skin, it is the most wonderful anodyne and[Pg 119] sedative known. I fully believe that, when medical men come to study opium and opium smoking more fully, it will become the established opinion of the faculty that opium smoking is not only perfectly harmless, but that it is most beneficial, so that it may ultimately not only put down spirit drinking, but perhaps supersede, to a great extent, tobacco. But few medical men in this country have as yet made opium a special study. They only know its use and properties as described in the British Pharmacopeia; many even of those who have practised in the parts of India where the drug is eaten do not, it seems, as yet fully understand all its properties. Dr. Ayres himself admits that he was astonished after his arrival in Hong Kong to find the great difference between the effects of smoking and eating the drug. I may here remind my readers that we have, or had once, an Anti-Tobacco-smoking Society, just as there is now an Anti-Opium-smoking Society. The former had so many living evidences of the absurdities alleged by its supporters against the use of tobacco, that the agitation was laughed down and has either died a natural death or has only a moribund and spasmodic existence; but had the place where the alleged enormity of tobacco smoking was practised been Africa, I think the Society would have died a much harder death, or at all events shown more vitality. The Anti-Opium Society would have shared the same fate long ago were it not that the scene of all the alleged evils is China, ten thousand miles away, and the witnesses against their absurd allegations live the same distance from us. But still, believe me, the Anti-Opium Society’s days are numbered: it is doomed, and, like the Anti-Tobacco craze, will be numbered soon amongst the things that were. I flatter myself that in the delivery and publication of these lectures I have given the agitation a heavy blow and great discouragement.

I had some time ago the advantage of reading a very interesting and remarkable letter in the “Times” by Sir George Birdwood, to whom I have already referred; he has had more than fourteen years’ experience in India as a medical man, and has made the opium question a special study. I think his testimony is worth a great deal more than that of any layman, however learned or talented; the one has both theoretical and practical knowledge of his subject, the other at best is only a theorist. Believe me, the Roman poet knew human nature[Pg 120] well when he said, “Trust the man who has experience of facts.” The paper, which is a learned and interesting one, is too long to read, but here is an extract from it:—

My readers can judge for themselves from the authorities I have indicated; but the opinion I have come to from them and my own experience is, that opium is used in Asia in a similar way to alcohol in Europe, and that, considering the natural craving and popular inclination for, and the ecclesiastical toleration of it and its general beneficial effects, and the absence of any resulting evil, there is just as much justification for the habitual use of opium in moderation as for the moderate use of alcohol, and indeed far more.

Sir Benjamin Brodie is always quoted as the most distinguished professional opponent of the dietetical use of opium; but what are his words (Psychological Enquiries, p. 248):—“The effect of opium when taken into the stomach is not to stimulate, but to soothe the nervous system. It may be otherwise in some instances, but these are rare exceptions to the general rule. The opium eater is in a passive state, satisfied with his own dreamy condition while under the influence of the drug. He is useless but not mischievous. It is quite otherwise with alcoholic liquors.” Opium smoking, which is the Chinese form of using the drug—for which the Indian Government is specially held responsible—is, to say the least in its favour, an infinitely milder indulgence. As already mentioned, I hold it to be absolutely harmless. I do not place it simply in the same category with even tobacco smoking, for tobacco smoking may, in itself, if carried into excess, be injurious, particularly to young people under twenty-five; but I mean that opium smoking in itself is as harmless as smoking willow-bark or inhaling the smoke of a peat-fire or vapour of boiling water.... I have not seen Surgeon-General Moore’s recent paper on opium in the Indian Medical Gazette, but I gather from a notice of it quoted from the Calcutta Englishman, in the Homeward Mail of the 14th of November last, that it supplies a most exhaustive and able vindication of the perfect morality of the revenue derived by the Indian Government from the manufacture and sale of opium to the Chinese. He quotes from Dr. Ayres, of Hong Kong: “No China resident believes in the terrible frequency of the dull, sodden-witted, debilitated opium smoker met with in print;” and from Consul Lay:—“In China the spendthrift, the man of lewd habits, the drunkard, and a large assortment of bad characters, slide into the opium smoker; hence the drug seems chargeable with all the vices of the country.” Mr. Gregory, Her Majesty’s Consul at Swatow, says Dr. Moore never saw a single case of opium intoxication, though living for months and travelling for hundreds of miles among opium smokers. Dr. Moore directly confirms my own statement of the Chinese having been great drunkards of alcohol before they took to smoking opium. I find also a remarkable collection of folk-lore (Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, by Herbert A. Giles), evidence in almost every chapter of the universal drinking habits of the Chinese before the introduction of opium among them, notwithstanding that the use of alcohol is opposed to the cardinal precepts of Buddhism. What Dr. Moore says of the freedom of opium smokers from bronchial thoracic diseases is deserving of the deepest consideration. I find that, on the[Pg 121] other hand, the Chinese converts to Christianity suffer greatly from consumption. The missionaries will not allow them to smoke, and, as they also forbid their marrying while young, after the wise custom, founded on an experience of thousands of years of their country, they fall into those depraved, filthy habits, of which consumption is everywhere the inexorable witness and scourge. When spitting of blood comes on, the opium pipe is its sole alleviation.

Now Dr. Birdwood is not only well informed upon the opium question, but is certainly one of the ablest opponents of the Anti-Opium agitation who has yet appeared. His letters in the “Times” created quite a sensation, and so alarmed Mr. Storrs Turner that he left no means untried to neutralize their effects. At this point a bright idea occurred to him. Finding that there was a general consensus of opinion against him amongst English medical men and other competent authorities that the outcry against opium was groundless, he hit upon the brilliant expedient of discrediting them all, by the assertion that Englishmen are so prejudiced that they are not to be believed. This is what he says on the subject in his famous article in the Nineteenth Century having in a previous passage imagined a case in which China was the plaintiff and Great Britain the defendant:—

The baneful effects of the opium vice are established by universal experience. One may apply to it the theological maxim Quod semper quod ubique, quod ab omnibus. Two considerations will show that the opposition of a few dissentient voices does not detract from the general conclusion. Most of these are quite clear on the point that opium is bad for everybody but Chinese. They would be horrified at the suggestion that opium should be freely used in England and approve the efforts or supposed efforts of the Indian Government to keep it out of the way of the natives of India. On another point these dissentients are all alike; every one of them is prejudiced in favour of the defendant in the case before us. They are all Englishmen. No French or German medical man, no single Chinese authority has been quoted to testify to the innocence of opium. Some of these apologists are opium merchants, who aver that the drug by which they make their wealth is a boon and a blessing to China; or it is a gentleman employed in the India Office who considers opium smoking as safe as “twiddling one’s thumbs.”

Could the force of folly or fanaticism go further than that? All Englishmen are prejudiced. I wonder, did it ever occur to Mr. Storrs Turner that he, being an Englishman, might be a little prejudiced also—on the other side of the question. Yes; Dr. Ayres, Dr. Eatwell, Surgeon-General Moore, Dr. Birdwood, and a host of other eminent medical men standing in the front rank of their[Pg 122] profession, Sir Rutherford Alcock, Mr. Colborne Baber, Mr. W. Donald Spence, and others are not to be believed—because they are Englishmen! Were they Germans or Frenchmen, they would, of course, be entitled to the fullest credence. Like the priest and prophet of Crete, Mr. Storrs Turner holds that all his countrymen are liars.[8] But, stay, do I not remember that gentleman’s holding a select conference of English medical men, about October 1882, when certain resolutions were drawn up condemnatory of opium? Surely, yes. The invitations were issued by the Earl of Shaftesbury. I should like to ask Mr. Storrs Turner were the medical and other gentlemen then present Englishmen or foreigners? If I do not greatly err they were all Englishmen. Does Mr. Storrs Turner consider those gentlemen worthy of credit? I rather think he does: so that Mr. Turner’s creed runs thus: “Englishmen are to be believed so long as they agree with me on the opium question. When they differ from me on that subject they are not to be believed at all.” Mr. Turner is fond of treating his readers to theological maxims. I will now give him a legal one which, I think, is applicable to his case. It runs thus, translated into plain English: “He is not to be heard who alleges things contrary to each other.” Of course, the reader has seen that Mr. Turner’s sneer at “the gentleman employed in the India Office,” is at Sir George Birdwood, whose pungent articles in the Times have inflicted such damage on his cause, and whose efforts in the interests of common sense and truth he would wish to suppress.

As Mr. Turner’s tastes are exotic, I will furnish him now with some foreign testimony that may perhaps astonish him. For many years previous to 1858, Don Sinibaldo de Mas had been the Envoy-Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Court of Spain at Pekin. That nobleman had travelled much in China, India, Java, Borneo, and Malacca, having learned the Chinese language the better to enable him to utilize his travels in those places. In 1858[Pg 123] he published a book[9] in the French language on China and the Chinese, making special reference to the opium question, to which he has devoted one very interesting chapter exclusively. The book was brought out in Paris, and has never, that I am aware of, been translated into English. Now about the last person from whom one would expect to obtain testimony of the kind is a Spaniard. Yet so it is. This book of Don Sinibaldo de Mas is, indeed, one of the most powerful vindications of British policy in India and China that has yet been written. I hardly think even Mr. Storrs Turner can accuse this gentleman of partiality, or object to his testimony as being influenced by personal motives. This is part of what he says on the subject:—

I may say, in the first instance, that personally neither as a private individual nor as a public functionary have I ever been in the slightest degree interested in this (opium) trade, for be it noted that Spanish vessels have never imported into China a single chest of opium. I consequently approach this subject with complete impartiality. I have known the Chinese at Calcutta, Singapore, Penang, Malacca, Manila, and in many parts of their own country, where I acquired a sufficient knowlege of the Chinese language to enable me to converse with the natives and make myself fully acquainted with the opium question, which I believe I understand, and may be considered thoroughly unbiassed in my opinions.

Opium has been preached against and denounced as a veritable poison, and it has been looked upon as a crime in those who have made the drug an object of commerce or gain. A memorial embodying those views, signed by many missionaries and supported by the Earl of Chichester, was presented to Queen Victoria. A meeting was also held in London, composed of philanthropic gentlemen, presided over by the Earl of Shaftesbury, when a petition to the Queen embodying the same object was drawn up; this document I shall refer to more particularly later on. Lastly, some members of the House of Lords and Commons spoke against the sale of opium. On the other hand, Christian merchants established in China, many men of eminence, such as Sir J. F. Davis and others of the highest respectability, have maintained that the smoking of this drug has less deletorious effects than the use of fermented liquors. I will endeavour to explain this question in all good faith and impartiality. In the maritime towns of India, Malacca, Java, the Philippines, Borneo, and Sooloo the Chinese are at liberty to smoke opium where and when they please, and can buy it cheaper than they can in Canton or Shanghai, not to mention the inland towns: yet it is a well-known fact that in all[Pg 124] these countries, notwithstanding their unwholesome climates, the opium-smoking Chinese are remarkably healthy and strong. These very opium smokers are employed as farm labourers, masons, and porters, enduring great fatigue and performing the most arduous labours; they have acquired such an excellent reputation as colonists that efforts have been made during the last few years to induce them to settle in Lima and Cuba. The percentage of deaths amongst these people does not exceed the usual rate, and I must confess that having known numbers of Chinese emigrants in the various countries I have mentioned, I have never heard of a single death or of any serious illness having been caused by opium smoking.

It was only on my first arrival in China that I was made aware of the dire effects this narcotic is said to produce, and that the vapour inhaled by opium smokers was designated a poison; I must add that in none of the different parts of China which I have visited has it come to my knowledge that death has resulted from opium smoking. Having asked several natives whom I thought worthy of credence whether they had ever heard of a death having occurred from the habit, they answered me that it might have happened to a very inordinate smoker, but only in the event of his being suddenly deprived of the indulgence. One Chinaman related how he had witnessed such a case. He had known an inveterate opium smoker who had become extremely poor, and was found insensible and almost lifeless; some good-natured person passing by puffed some fumes of opium into his mouth, which immediately seemed to revive him, and enabled him shortly to smoke a pipe himself, which most effectually recalled him to life. I admit that opium is in itself a poison, but let me ask what changes does not fire produce in the various substances which it consumes?

I should like to know what does Mr. Storrs Turner think of that. Here is a highly-educated Spanish gentleman, speaking Chinese well, living amongst the natives, studying their habits, especially as regards their use of the opium pipe, declaring that the practice is innocuous. Now, supposing that instead of smoking opium these Chinese in Malacca, Java, Borneo, and the Philippines were addicted to the habitual use of spirits, wine, or even beer, instead of opium, can any intelligent being suppose for a moment that they would be the patient, strong, healthy, hard-working people that Don Sinibaldo De Mas found them, and which they still are?

Let us refer to Mr. W. Donald Spence’s testimony as to the effects of opium. I quote again from his Report of the trade of Ichang for 1881:—

As to the effect of this habit on the people, amongst whom it is so widespread, there is but one opinion. Baron Richthofen, the most experienced traveller who ever visited Szechuan, after noticing the[Pg 125] extraordinary prevalence of the habit, says:—“In no other province except Hunan did I find the effects of the use of opium so little perceptible as in Szechuan.” Mr. Colborne Baber, who knows more of the province and its people than any living Englishman, says: Nowhere in China are the people so well off, or so hardy, and nowhere do they smoke so much opium. To these names of weight I add my own short experience. I found the people of Szechuan stout, able-bodied men, better housed, clad, and fed, and healthier looking than the Chinese of the Lower Yang-tsze. I did not see amongst them more emaciated faces and wasted forms than disease causes in all lands. People with slow wasting diseases such as consumption are, if they smoke opium, apt to be classed amongst the “ruined victims” of hasty observers, and amongst the cases of combined debility and opium smoking I saw, some were, by their own account, pseudo-victims of this type. There were some, too, whose health was completely sapped by smoking combined with other forms of sensual excess. And no doubt there were others weakened by excessive smoking simply, for excess in all things has its penalty. But the general health and well-being of the Szechuan community is remarkable; to their capacity for work and endurance of hardship, as well as to the material comforts of life they surround themselves with, all travellers bear enthusiastic testimony.

Now, allow me to ask the reader, can he suppose for a moment that if the people of Szechuan were prone to spirits, or even to beer drinking, in the same way as they are given to opium smoking, should we have the same results? Would those people be “so well off and so hardy,” so stout, able-bodied, and so much “better housed, clad, and fed, and healthier looking than the Chinese of the Lower Yang-tsze?” I think not. What, then, is the fair conclusion to draw from such a state of things? Why, only that opium smoking is a harmless if not a beneficial practice, unless when indulged in to an inordinate extent, which, it is now plain, is entirely exceptional. I think I am not far from the truth in saying that for one excessive opium smoker to be met with in China you will find in this country a hundred cases, at the least, of excessive indulgence in alcohol—the effects of this being incurable, whilst it is quite otherwise as regards excessive indulgence in opium. The inference, then, I think, is that so far as regards any evil effects from opium smoking, they are out of the range of practical politics and should be relegated to the region of sentiment alone.

I will now give you a passage from a valuable work by the learned Dr. J. L. W. Thudichum, Lecturer to St. George’s[Pg 126] Hospital,[10] which will throw a good deal of light upon this part of my subject. At pp. 88 and 89 of the second volume he says:—

The medical uses of opium have been so well known through all historical times that it is a matter for surprise to find that they are not better appreciated in the present day. In this, as in many other matters, we are in fact only gradually emerging from the condition of those dark times during which, amongst many good things, the knowledge of opium, for example, was lost.... These and other considerations led me to look about for a more convenient mode of producing the effects of morphia without its inconveniences or even dangers. I know from the experiments of Descharmes and Benard (Compt. Rend., 40, 34) that in opium-smoking a portion of the morphia is volatilized and undecomposed, and I therefore experimentalized with the pyrolytic vapours of opium, first upon myself, then upon others; and when I had made myself fully acquainted with the Chinese method of using the drug, I came to the conviction that here one of the most interesting therapeutical problems had been solved in the most ingenious and at the same time in the most safe manner. I held in my hand a power well-known and used largely by Eastern races, yet its use neglected, ignored, denounced, and despised by the entire Western world.

In other and non-professional words, Dr. Thudichum has found opium smoking not only harmless but a valuable curative practice.

As to Chinese evidence on this question I could, had I thought proper, have adduced the testimony of some really trustworthy Chinese merchants and traders, which would have fully borne out all that I have stated as to the innocuous effects of opium smoking. I have refrained from doing so, because such evidence, however strong and reliable, would, I feel assured, be impugned as untrustworthy by the agents of the Anti-Opium Society and missionaries, who on their part would, no doubt, in the best faith and with good intentions, I admit, bring out counter testimony of so-called Christian converts and other natives of a wholly unreliable character. One of these persons, called Kwong Ki Chiu, styling himself “late a member of the Chinese Educational Commission in the United States,” has written, or purported to have written, from Hartford, in Connecticut, a letter on this question to the London and China Telegraph. The statements in this[Pg 127] document are exaggerated, misleading, and, in many respects, actually untrue. I doubt very much if the letter was ever, in fact, written by a Chinaman at all, and suspect it was produced either here in London by some agent or advocate of the Anti-Opium Society and forwarded to Mr. Kwong Ki Chiu for signature, or that it was written by some American missionary. At any rate, it is plain that the writer has no real knowledge of the subject of his letter. To prove this is so it is only necessary to refer to one passage, in which the writer proceeds to show that opium is to a beginner more alluring than tobacco or spirits. He says:—

There is this also to be said as to the difference between the two stimulants: opium is much the more stimulating, and therefore more dangerous. It is also much more agreeable and fascinating. Not every person likes the taste of liquor; the flavour of tobacco is agreeable to very few persons at first: but everyone, of whatever nationality, finds the fragrance of the smoking opium agreeable and tempting, so that I have no doubt that if opium shops were opened in London as in China, the habit would soon become prevalent even among Englishmen.

Now this is not true. Every foreigner who has lived in China knows it to be quite the opposite. During my long residence in Hong Kong I have never known a single instance of an Englishman, or any other foreigner, being an opium smoker, although I have met with many who had smoked a few pipes by way of experiment. All have assured me that the vapour was nauseous, and produced no pleasurable sensations whatever. The fact that Europeans dislike the fumes of opium, and never indulge in the opium pipe, shows that Mr. Kwong Ki Chiu, who has doubtless been since his childhood under missionary tutelage, and therefore interdicted from the use of the drug, knows nothing reliable upon the subject he writes about so glibly. At a proper time and place, I should be prepared to treat Mr. Storrs Turner to such native testimony upon this subject as would make him open his eyes very wide and put him and his disciples to confusion and flight.

Let me now give you an extract from a despatch of Sir Henry Pottinger, formerly Her Majesty’s Governor-General and Minister Plenipotentiary in China, written by him some fifty years ago to the Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It is very important, showing, as it does, the pains that have been taken by Her Majesty’s Government at home[Pg 128] and her representatives in China so long ago to ascertain if there were any truth in the theory that opium smoking was injurious to the health and morals of the Chinese:—

I cannot admit in any manner the idea adopted by many persons that the introduction of opium into China is a source of unmitigated evil of every kind and a cause of misery. Personally, I have been unable to discover a single case of this kind, although, I admit that, when abused opium may become most hurtful. Besides, the same remark applies to every kind of enjoyment when carried to excess; but from personal observations, since my arrival in China, from information taken upon all points, and lastly, from what the Mandarins themselves say, I am convinced that the demoralization and ruin which some persons attribute to the use of opium, arise more likely from imperfect knowledge of the subject and exaggeration, and that not one-hundredth part of the evil arises in China from opium smoking, which one sees daily arising in England as well as in India from the use of ardent spirits so largely taken in excess in those countries.

I may now appropriately give you the promised extract from De Quincey’s Confessions. I recommend it to the notice of Sir Wilfrid Lawson. The distinction which he draws between alcoholic intoxication and the excitement produced by opium eating is instructive and entertaining. He says:—

Two of these tendencies I will mention as diagnostic, or characteristic and inseparable marks of ordinary alcoholic intoxication, but which no excess in the use of opium ever develops. One is the loss of self-command, in relation to all one’s acts and purposes, which steals gradually (though with varying degrees of speed) over all persons indiscriminately when indulging in wine or distilled liquors beyond a certain limit. The tongue and other organs become unmanageable: the intoxicated man speaks inarticulately; and, with regard to certain words, makes efforts ludicrously earnest yet oftentimes unavailing, to utter them. The eyes are bewildered, and see double; grasping too little, and too much. The hand aims awry. The legs stumble and lose their power of concurrent action. To this result all people tend, though by varying rates of acceleration. Secondly, as another characteristic, it may be noticed that, in alcoholic intoxication, the movement is always along a kind of arch; the drinker rises through continual ascents to a summit or apex, from which he descends through corresponding steps of declension. There is a crowning point in the movement upwards, which once attained cannot be renewed; and it is the blind, unconscious, but always unsuccessful effort of the obstinate drinker to restore this supreme altitude of enjoyment which tempts him into excesses that become dangerous. After reaching this acme of genial pleasure, it is a mere necessity of the case to sink through corresponding stages of collapse. Some people have maintained, in my hearing, that they had been drunk upon green tea; and a medical student in London, for whose knowledge in his profession I have reason to feel great respect, assured me, the other day, that a patient, in recovering from an illness, had got drunk on a beef-steak. All turns, in fact, upon a rigorous definition of intoxication.

[Pg 129]Having dwelt so much on this first and leading error in respect to opium, I shall notice briefly a second and a third; which are, that the elevation of spirits produced by opium is necessarily followed by a proportionate depression, and that the natural and even immediate consequence of opium is torpor and stagnation, animal as well as mental. The first of these errors I shall content myself with simply denying; assuring my reader, that for ten years, during which I took opium, not regularly, but intermittingly, the day succeeding to that on which I allowed myself this luxury was always a day of unusually good spirits.

With respect to the torpor supposed to follow, or rather (if we were to credit the numerous pictures of Turkish opium-eaters) to accompany, the practice of opium-eating, I deny that also. Certainly, opium is classed under the head of narcotics, and some such effect it may produce in the end; but the primary effects of opium are always, and in the highest degree, to excite and stimulate the system. This first stage of its action always lasted with me, during my novitiate, for upwards of eight hours; so that it must be the fault of the opium-eater himself, if he does not so time his exhibition of the dose, as that the whole weight of its narcotic influence may descend upon his sleep.

First, then, it is not so much affirmed, as taken for granted, by all who ever mention opium, formally or incidentally, that it does or can produce intoxication. Now, reader, assure yourself, meo periculo, that no quantity of opium ever did, or could, intoxicate. As to the tincture of opium (commonly called laudanum), that might certainly intoxicate, if a man could bear to take enough of it; but why? Because it contains so much proof spirits of wine, and not because it contains so much opium. But crude opium, I affirm peremptorily, is incapable of producing any state of body at all resembling that which is produced by alcohol; and not in degree only incapable, but even in kind; it is not in the quantity of its effects merely, but in the quality, that it differs altogether. The pleasure given by wine is always rapidly mounting, and tending to a crisis, after which as rapidly it declines; that from opium, when once generated, is stationary for eight or ten hours: the first, to borrow a technical distinction from medicine, is a case of acute, the second of chronic, pleasure; the one is a flickering flame, the other a steady and equable glow. But the main distinction lies in this—that, whereas wine disorders the mental faculties, opium, on the contrary (if taken in a proper manner), introduces amongst them the most exquisite order, legislation, and harmony. Wine robs a man of his self-possession; opium sustains and reinforces it. Wine unsettles the judgment, and gives a preternatural brightness and a vivid exaltation to the contempts and the admirations, to the loves and the hatreds, of the drinker; opium, on the contrary, communicates serenity and equipoise to all the faculties, active or passive; and, with respect to the temper and moral feelings in general, it gives simply that sort of vital warmth which is approved by the judgment, and which would probably always accompany a bodily constitution of primeval or antediluvian health. Thus, for instance, opium, like wine, gives an expansion to the heart and the benevolent affections; but, then, with this remarkable difference, that in the sudden development of kind-heartedness which accompanies inebriation, there is always more or less of a maudlin and a transitory character, which exposes it to the contempt of the bystander. Men shake hands, swear eternal friendship, and shed tears—no mortal knows why;[Pg 130] and the animal nature is clearly uppermost. But the expansion of the benigner feelings incident to opium is no febrile access, no fugitive paroxysm; it is a healthy restoration to that state which the mind would naturally recover upon the removal of any deep-seated irritation from pain that had disturbed and quarrelled with the impulses of a heart originally just and good. True it is, that even wine, up to a certain point, and with certain men, rather tends to exalt and to steady the intellect; I myself, who have never been a great wine-drinker, used to find that half-a-dozen glasses of wine advantageously affected the faculties, brightened and intensified the consciousness, and gave to the mind a feeling of being “ponderibus librata suis,” and certainly it is most absurdly said, in popular language, of any man, that he is disguised in liquor; for, on the contrary, most men are disguised by sobriety, and exceedingly disguised; and it is when they are drinking that men display themselves in their true complexion of character; which surely is not disguising themselves. But still, wine constantly leads a man to the brink of absurdity and extravagance; and, beyond a certain point, it is sure to volatilise and to disperse the intellectual energies; whereas opium always seems to compose what had been agitated and to concentrate what had been distracted. In short, to sum up all in one word, a man who is inebriated, or tending to inebriation, is, and feels that he is, in a condition which calls up into supremacy the merely human, too often the brutal, part of his nature; but the opium-eater (I speak of him simply as such, and assume that he is in a normal state of health) feels that the diviner part of his nature is paramount—that is, the moral affections are in a state of cloudless serenity; and high over all the great light of the majestic intellect.

This is the doctrine of the true church on the subject of opium, of which church I acknowledge myself to be the Pope (consequently infallible), and self-appointed legate à latere to all degrees of latitude and longitude. But then it is to be recollected that I speak from the ground of a large and profound personal experience, whereas most of the unscientific authors who have at all treated of opium, and even of those who have written professionally on the materia medica, make it evident, by the horror they express of it, that their experimental knowledge of its action is none at all.

I have now dealt with fallacies 1, 2, 3, and 5. The fourth Mr. Turner gravely states in his book—and I am perfectly sure it is accepted as seriously by his fellowers, that the supply of opium regulates the demand, and not the demand the supply. He says at pp. 152, 153:—

Defenders of the [opium] policy vainly strive to shelter it behind the ordinary operation of the trade laws of demand and supply. The operation of these economic laws does not divest of responsibility those who set them in motion at either end; for though it would be absurd to speak of supply as alone creative of demand, there is no question but that an abundant and constantly sustained supply increases demand whenever the article is not one of absolute necessity. When silk came by caravans across Central Asia, and a single robe was worth its weight in gold in Europe, the shining fabric was reserved for emperors and nobles, and no demand[Pg 131] could be said to exist for it among common people, whereas now the abundant supply creates a demand among all classes but the very poorest. The maid-servant who covets a silk dress may be literally said to have had the demand created in her case, by the ample supply of the material which places it constantly before her eyes and renders it impossible for her to obtain it. Only a few years ago there was no demand for newspapers amongst multitudes who are now daily or weekly purchasers of them. In this case the supply of penny and halfpenny journals may be fairly said to have almost alone created the demand. Such illustrations might be indefinitely multiplied.

After that it may be said that the Birmingham jewellers and Manchester merchants have only to send out to China any amount they please of their wares, and they will find a ready market, the more the merrier. All their goods will be taken off their hands; they will only have to take care that the prices shall not be too exorbitant, for otherwise, as in the case of the maid-servant, though the Chinese working classes may have helped to create the demand, they would be unable to avail themselves of the supply. If that doctrine were sound, a mercantile firm could create as extensive a trade as it desired, and that, too, in any part of the world. Instead of sending out fifty thousand pounds worth this year, as it did last, it would have only to export ten times the amount, and still the demand would continue. The fact is, as every man well knows who is not blinded by enthusiasm and looks at the subject by the light of cool reason and common sense, that the effect of sending to China or elsewhere an excessive quantity of merchandise, even though such merchandise were in request there, would have the effect of glutting the market. It is only where the demand exists, and the desire to possess the article, or where the people want a particular class of thing, that the goods can be readily and profitably disposed of. I am sure that if we sent double the quantity of opium that we do to China, or, indeed, three times the amount, it would be readily bought up by the natives, because there is a great demand there for Indian opium, owing to its superior strength and better flavour. And it must be remembered that China is a vast empire, and that the natives cannot get as much of the Indian drug as they want. I had an opportunity recently of speaking to a German gentleman established here in London, who has been many years in the opium trade generally, who has made opium quite a study, tasting and smelling it, as wine merchants do their wine, and he declares that Indian[Pg 132] opium has a perfume and aroma that is not found in the Chinese or Persian drug, and that, in fact, the smell of the one is comparatively agreeable, while that of the others is offensive. This, I believe, is one of the reasons for the Chinese liking Indian opium. For my own part I must say, that much as I dislike the odour of tobacco, I have a greater aversion still to the effluvium of opium in any form or shape, and I think this is also the case with all Europeans. In fact, opium smoking is a practice peculiar to China.

Nothing proves this so completely as the correspondence between Sir Robert Hart and his various Sub-Commissioners of Customs, as set out in the Yellow-Book to which I have so often referred. These Commissioners say that the Indian drug is almost invariably used to mix with the Chinese article to flavour and make it, so to speak, the more palatable. The proposition which Mr. Storrs Turner lays down is simply preposterous, and cannot for a moment be sustained. I do not wish to utter an offensive word towards that gentleman personally, whose talents and energy are unquestionable, and whom I hold in great esteem. Upon any subject but opium he would be incapable of writing anything but sound sense, but having opium on the brain, he starts theories that are wholly unsustainable, which, I am sorry to say, his devoted followers accept as gospel. But to return to the theory that supply creates the demand. By way of illustration, Mr. Turner goes on to show that, previous to the removal of the duty on newspapers, there were very few in the country, but that the moment the duty was taken off, they multiplied, which he considers proof that in this case the supply created the demand. That is most fallacious. The demand for newspapers always existed, but, unfortunately, owing to the oppressive taxes upon knowledge to which the press in former times was subjected, the supply was limited. In those days even a weekly newspaper was a great undertaking. An enterprising man in a country town might start such a paper, but after a lingering existence it was almost sure to die, not for want of readers, but because it was so heavily taxed that readers could not afford to buy it, the price then being necessarily high. First there was a penny duty on each copy of the newspaper. Next there was a duty of so much the pound upon the raw material, which had to be paid before it left the mill; and then there was a[Pg 133] further duty upon every advertisement; so that the unfortunate newspaper proprietor was met with exactions on every side. A copy, even though an old one, of the Times, or of any of the London morning papers, was in former days eagerly sought for. In his “Deserted Village,” Goldsmith, describing the village ale-house, says:—

Where village statesmen talked with wit profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.

And one can imagine an eager group in that ale-house trying to get a glimpse of a London newspaper over the shoulders of the privileged holder. But when these oppressive duties were removed, a different state of things prevailed. The cost of starting and manufacturing a newspaper was reduced to about one-fifth of what it was formerly. Every considerable town had its daily and its weekly newspaper, because the demand had always existed, whilst, owing to these prohibitive taxes, there was no supply. The craving for news had always been present, and the moment these prohibitive duties were struck off, the ambitious editor, or proprietor, saw his opportunity and started a paper, not because the supply would create a demand, but because he knew the demand already existed, and he printed just as many as he thought he would find readers for, and no more. Had he printed more than was required the excess would have lain on his hands as so much waste paper. But according to Mr. Turner’s theory, the more newspapers he printed the more he would have sold! It will at once be recognised that this theory of supply and demand is simply absurd. If it could be shown to hold water for a moment, China, and other countries also, would be inundated with articles that never were seen there before. There would be no reason why China should not be largely supplied with ladies’ bonnets and satin shoes, which, we know, might lie there for a thousand years and never be used. I have brought before you this notable theory of Mr. Storrs Turner’s, to show you the utterly worthless kind of arguments with which the British public have been supplied, in order to support the silly, unfounded, and most mischievous agitation against the Indo-China opium trade.

The next fallacy is number six, namely: that all, or nearly all, who smoke opium are either inordinate smokers or[Pg 134] necessarily in the way of becoming so; and that once the custom has been commenced it cannot be dropped, and that the consumption daily increases. That is not so at all. It is altogether exceptional to find an inordinate opium smoker; my reasons for saying so I have already given. I am supported in those views by every English resident in China, amongst them by Dr. Ayres, whose authority is simply unquestionable, and whose opinion on the point I have set out at page 7. I have known hundreds of men who were in the daily habit of smoking opium after business hours, and they never showed any decadence whatever. Opium smoking is never practised during business hours, except by very aged people or the criminal classes. This is an absolute fact. The Chinese are too wise and thrifty to while away their time in such luxurious practices during working hours. The opium pipe, as a rule, is indulged in more moderately than wine or cigars are with us, the Chinese being so extremely abstemious in their habits. I never saw any such instances of over-indulgence as Mr. Turner alleges, and I could get hundreds of European witnesses out in China and here in London who would depose to the same fact. Frequently have I compared the small shop-keeping and working people of China with the same classes here at home as regards sobriety, industry, and frugality, and always, I regret to say, in favour of the Chinese.

It is absolutely untrue, as put forward by the Anti-Opium Society and their secretary, Mr. Turner, that opium is so fascinating that, once a man begins to use it, he cannot leave it off; natives will smoke it, on and off, for two or three days, and not smoke it again for a week or more; but the truth is, the habit is a pleasant and beneficial one, and few who can afford it desire to discontinue smoking. The fact undoubtedly is, that if opium smoking were productive of the terrible results that the missionaries and the Anti-Opium Society allege, China would not be the densely-populated country that it now actually is. China could not have held its own as it has done so long and so successfully had all the people been addicted to such a vice as dram drinking. The true way to look at this aspect of the case is to suppose for a moment that, instead of being “opium sots,” as Mr. Storrs Turner puts it, the Chinese, “everywhere in China, in all climates and all soils, in every[Pg 135] variety of condition and circumstance throughout the vast Empire,” to adopt that gentleman’s own language, drank spirits freely. Should we then have the Chinese the hard-working, industrious, thrifty, frugal people that we find them? I trow not. Intemperance carries with it the destruction of its votaries, but no baneful consequences attend opium smoking. Some thirty years ago, as Sir Rutherford Alcock tells us, an American missionary declared that there were twenty millions of opium smokers in China—all, no doubt, induced to that immorality by the British Government and people—and that two millions were dying annually from the effects of the vice! This monstrous tale was implicitly believed in by Lords Shaftesbury and Chichester. Yet we now have a Chinese official, Sir Robert Hart, deliberately telling the Government of China, in his official Yellow Book, that there are but two millions of smokers in the whole Empire; that Indian opium supplies but a moderate quantity of the drug to but half of that number; and that neither the health, wealth, nor prosperity of the people suffers in consequence.

This is what Don Sinibaldo de Mas says upon the subject:—

The most extraordinary of the advocates of the opium trade is the Earl of Shaftesbury, President of the Committee organized in London for the suppression of the traffic. I have not the slightest doubt as to the bona fides and excellent heart of the noble lord. There is something grand and generous in entering the lists for the welfare and protection of a distant and foreign nation, and manfully fighting for it against the interests of one’s own country and one’s native land. I sincerely admire men of such mettle and the country which can produce them, but I regret that Lord Shaftesbury did not act with greater caution, and that before entering upon this question he had not studied it more carefully; especially do I regret that he did not adopt a more moderate and dignified tone in the expression of his opinions. Had he done so, he would have saved himself from the reproach of having lent his name and sanction to a document disfigured by statistical errors, some of which are opposed to common sense, and also of having given gratuitous and undeserved insults to others who differed from his opinions.

He argues in his statement to the Queen’s Government that opium smoking annually kills two millions of people in China. How is it possible that the noble Earl could for a moment imagine that every year so many human beings voluntarily commit suicide! Two millions of adults who destroy themselves to enjoy a pleasure! Does it not strike His Lordship how absurd is such an antithesis as pleasure and death? Can he believe that human nature in China is different to what it is in Europe? Is it logical to give publicity to such strange assertions without[Pg 136] adducing the slightest proofs. If we inquire into the accusations brought forward against the merchants and growers of opium, we find the same discrepancy and the same injustice. It is a mistake to imagine that the English alone trade in opium, for all foreigners alike, especially the Americans, introduce and sell it.

Lord Shaftesbury, in speaking of the value of the opium imported into China, says that the merchants “rob” the Chinese. I scarcely know which is the funnier, the idea expressed by the noble Earl, or the way in which he expresses it. I can assure His Lordship that amongst the merchants who make opium their business there are men of the highest integrity, perfect and most accomplished gentlemen, who not only are incapable of “stealing” anything, but who are equal to any living men in noble sentiments, justice, and practical benevolence; I need only mention one man, and do so because he is not now living. I refer to the late Mr. Launcelot Dent, who, during a most trying and critical time when this question first arose, was considered one of the most interested men in the opium trade.... Everyone who has been in China knows the generosity and the charity for which Mr. Launcelot Dent was renowned. Having on one occasion travelled from India to Europe with him, I saw many of his good deeds, but will only mention one, so as not to wander too far from my subject. A Catholic missionary was amongst the steerage passengers; Mr. Dent having seen this, without saying a word to any person on the subject, took a berth for him in the first cabin and paid the difference, begging me to ask him to take possession. The missionary expressed much gratitude, but said that as he had not a sufficient change of linen he would not feel at home in the state room, especially as there were lady passengers. Mr. Dent understood the difficulty, and having casually heard that the clergymen intended to proceed to Jerusalem, begged of him to accept the sum which the saloon cabin would have cost,[11] which the poor missionary accepted with heartfelt thanks.

I should like to know what Mr. Storrs Turner thinks of that. He objects to British testimony, except when it coincides with his own views. There is the evidence of a Spanish nobleman, a scholar, a traveller, and an accomplished diplomatist, for him! I am afraid he will find the foreign testimony quite as unpalatable as the home article. This Mr. Launcelot Dent, by the way, was a member of the eminent firm of Dent and Co.—since dissolved—which, Mr. Turner says, in his article in the Nineteenth Century, were “legally smugglers.”

The next fallacy, number seven, is that the Chinese Government is, or ever was, anxious to put a stop to or check the use of opium amongst the people of China. That is one of the accepted propositions or dogmas of the Anti-Opium people. There is another fallacy, number ten, which I will dispose[Pg 137] of at the same time. It is that the opposition of the Chinese officials to the introduction of opium into China arose from moral causes. There never was anything more fallacious or more distinctly untrue than that the Chinese Government is, or ever was, anxious to put a stop to the trade upon moral grounds. The sole object of the Government of China in objecting to the importation of Indian opium into the country, as I have stated already, and as everybody except the infatuated votaries of the Anti-Opium Society believes, was to protect the native drug, to prevent bullion from leaving the country, and generally to exclude foreign goods. This Don Sinibaldo de Mas points out in his book written some five and twenty years ago.

If the Chinese Government really wanted to put a stop to or check the use of opium, they would begin by doing so themselves. They would first stop the cultivation of the poppy in their own country. We have it on the high authority of Sir Robert Hart, that the drug was grown and used in China long before foreigners introduced any there. The Chinese are emphatically a law-abiding people, and if the Chinese Government really wished to put a stop to the opium culture, they could do so without any difficulty, just as our Government has put down tobacco culture in the United Kingdom. I suppose that in Cornwall and Devon, and in some parts of Ireland—the golden vein, for instance—tobacco could be grown most profitably. It could be cultivated also in the Isle of Wight, and in many other parts of the country. Why, then, is it not grown here? Simply because it is illegal to do so, and the Government is strong enough to enforce the law. If a farmer in Ireland or in England were to sow tobacco, the fact would be soon discovered, and it would be summarily stopped. The same thing could be done with even greater facility in China. Why, then, does not the Government of China suppress the cultivation of the poppy there? Simply because it does not desire to do so, because it derives a large revenue from opium, both native and foreign, and because the smoking of the drug is an ancient custom amongst the people, known by long experience to be harmless, if not beneficial. If it were possible to put down opium smoking in China, the people would assuredly resort to sam-shu, already so abundant and cheap, and that would indeed cause China’s decadence: for then we should have[Pg 138] the working classes there indulging in spirits, when the quarrellings, outrages, and kicking of wives to death—which Mr. Turner admits are never the result of opium smoking—would ensue. I only wish we could turn our drunkards into opium smokers. If the change would only save those wretched wives and their helpless children from ill-treatment by their husbands and fathers, we should have secured one valuable end. No Government will attempt to interfere with the fixed habits of the people, especially where those habits have existed many centuries, if not thousands of years, and where they are known to be not injurious to themselves or the safety and stability of the State, and to be, in fact, harmless. We have it from Sir Robert Hart’s book, that as far as can be ascertained, the probability is that there is about the same quantity of the drug grown in China as is imported into it. That is admittedly a mere approximation, and Sir Robert Hart gives no data for it, save the returns of his Sub-Commissioners, each of which differs from the other, and which he admits are not reliable. The information upon which these Commissioners made up their returns is simply the gossip collected by them at the Treaty Ports of China: no doubt the best, and, indeed, the only, information which they could procure. But with the light thrown upon the subject by Messrs. Baber and Spence, and numerous other independent authorities, no one can doubt that there is at least three times the quantity produced in China that is imported from abroad.

Both the Customs and Consular reports on trade in China for the year 1880 as well as 1881 bear testimony to the ever-increasing production of opium in the northern and western provinces of China, and missionaries and others who have recently made journeys in the interior report the poppy crops to be much larger than before the Imperial decree purporting to prohibit its cultivation. The report of the Customs’ Assistant-in-charge at Ichang for 1880 shows that the average annual import of the Indian drug at that port does not exceed ten pikuls, while the native production in the Ichang Prefecture is estimated to be over one thousand pikuls per annum. Mr. W. Donald Spence, in his report on trade for 1880, gives an estimate of the total crop of opium raised in Western China in 1880, which is as follows:—Western Hupeh, two thousand pikuls; Eastern Szechuan,[Pg 139] forty-five thousand pikuls; Yunnan, forty-thousand pikuls; and Kweichow, ten thousand pikuls; giving a total of ninety-seven thousand pikuls—as much, in fact, for these districts as the whole amount of Indian opium imported into China for that year. What his report for 1881 is I have already shown you. This, it must be borne in mind, is the production of Western China only. In Shantung, Chihli, the inland provinces, and Manchuria it is extensively grown, and in all the other provinces smaller quantities of the drug are produced. That nothing is being done to check this widespread cultivation of the poppy is notorious. Messrs. Soltan and Stevenson, who passed through Yunnan last year on their way from Bhamo to Chingkiang, described the country as resembling “a sea of poppy”; and Mr. Spence tells us that in 1880 and 1881 a greater breadth of land was sown with poppies in Western Hupeh than in the previous years. In Manchuria, which is a large territory forming part of the empire to the north-east of China, and in the northern provinces of China proper, there was also a general increase in the area under poppy cultivation. No efforts, in fact, are being made to stop it. On this subject Mr. Spence, in his report for 1880, remarks:—

In Western Hupeh there has been no interference with opium farmers or opium cultivation by the officials, nor, as far as I have been able to ascertain, by any of the authorities of the provinces named in this report. In Yunnan it receives direct official encouragement, and in all the cultivation is free. Its production is regarded as a fertile source of revenue to the exchequer, of pelf to officials and smugglers, of profit to farmers and merchants, and of pleasure to all. Nearly everybody smokes, and nearly everybody smuggles it about the country when he can; and in this matter there is no difference between rich and poor, lettered and unlettered, governing and governed.

After this testimony, which is corroborated in the strongest manner by many other and equally disinterested persons, who can pretend to say that the Chinese Government has any real desire to put down the poppy cultivation?

Let us now see what Don Sinibaldo de Mas has to say upon this point. Having gone into the history of the Indo-Chinese opium trade, and shown that the sole object of the Chinese Government in objecting to that trade was to prevent bullion from leaving the country, he says:—

It is totally wrong to suppose that the Mandarins are anxious to prevent the introduction of opium into the country. Many of these[Pg 140] Mandarins smoke it; most of them, if not all, accept presents and close their eyes at opium smuggling. With the exception of the famous Lin-tsi-su and a few others who reside at Court, all the others, and I think even Ki-Ying himself, have profited by this illegal traffic. Sir I. F. Davis when in China as Minister Plenipotentiary frequently called Ki-Ying’s attention to the smuggling that was being carried on under the connivance and encouragement of rural officials.

I referred in my last lecture to a valuable paper read by Sir Rutherford Alcock at a recent meeting of the Society of Arts. Everybody knows this gentleman’s abilities and his high character, which afford the most perfect assurance that he would be incapable of asserting anything that he did not know from his own experience, or from unquestionable sources, to be true. He speaks also with authority. He may be taken to be, therefore, a perfectly unbiassed witness. He has no personal interest in the question, and there is no reason why he should state anything but what is perfectly accurate. He says, in the paper I have mentioned:—

Whatever may have been the motive or true cause, about which there hangs considerable doubt, it is certain that neither in the first edicts of 1793-6, nor as late as 1832-4, when several Imperial edicts were issued against the introduction of opium from abroad, no reference whatever is made to the moral ground of prohibition, so ostentatiously paraded in later issues, and notably in Li Hung Chang’s letter to the Anglo-Opium Society last July. The reasons exclusively put forward in the first of these edicts (in 1793) were that “It wasted the time and property of the people of the Inner Land, leading them to exchange their silver and commodities for the vile dirt of the foreigner.” And as late as 1836, when memorials were presented to the Emperor, showing the connection of the opium trade with the exportation of sycee, they generally regarded the question in a political and financial character, rather than a moral light; and certainly, in several edicts issued between 1836 and 1839, when Lin made his grand coup, there is little, if any, reference to the evils of opium smoking, but very clear language as to the exportation of bullion. When we reflect that this “vile dirt,” as I will presently show, was being extensively cultivated in the provinces of China, and largely consumed by his own subjects, we may be permitted to question whether the balance of trade turned by the large importation of opium, and the leakage of the sycee silver, so emphatically and angrily pointed to in after years, was not the leading motive for the prohibition of the foreign drug. We have it on authority, that “From the commencement of the commercial intercourse down to 1828-29 the balance of trade had always been in favour of the Chinese, and great quantities of bullion accumulated in China. Since that date the balance of trade had been in the opposite direction, and bullion began to flow out of China. As silver became more scarce, it naturally rose in value, and the copper currency of the realm (and the only one), already depreciated by means of over-issues and mixture of foreign coin of an inferior standard, appeared to[Pg 141] suffer depreciation when compared with its nominal equivalent in sycee; and the effects of this change fell heavily upon a large and important class of Government officers, and ultimately upon the revenue itself. Memorials were presented to the Emperor on the subject, and the export of sycee was prohibited.”

How, after that, it can be said for a moment that the Chinese Government was actuated by moral considerations, or was really anxious to put down opium smoking or opium culture, I cannot conceive. The truth is, and it is so palpable that it really seems to me to require no advocacy whatever, that the Government, as Sir Rutherford Alcock and Don Sinibaldo so strongly put it, does not like to see so much bullion leaving the country.

Now, Sir Rutherford Alcock, unlike the missionaries and the agents of the Anti-Opium Society, has acquired his knowledge of opium and the opium trade in the regular course of his ordinary duties, and has necessarily, therefore, acquired an authentic knowledge of the subject. His testimony, like that of Messrs. Spence, Baber, and a host of other unimpeachable witnesses, comes under the head of the “best evidence.” But it is said of Sir Rutherford by the agents of the Anti-Opium Society, with the view of discrediting his testimony, that he has changed his opinions; that formerly he was opposed to the trade which he now defends. I do not believe there is any solid truth in this assertion; but if there is, what does the fact prove? Why, simply nothing at all. Show me the public man who during the past forty or fifty years has not altered or modified his opinions more or less. Sir Robert Peel, one of the greatest of modern statesmen, when he was past sixty years of age, changed the opinions he had held all his life upon free trade. Was he right or wrong in doing so? If Sir Rutherford Alcock had at an earlier period of his life held different opinions to those he now holds on the Indo-Chinese opium trade, it is not unreasonable that on a closer study of the subject, and by the strong light that has been thrown upon it within the past ten or fifteen years, he should have modified or even altogether changed his opinions. This is, again, another instance of the desperate efforts of the Anti-Opium advocates to hold their ground and maintain their unfounded and untenable theories.

[Pg 142]The Government of China have always been protectionists in the strictest sense of the term. Their idea has been that China can support itself; that the people can provide themselves with everything they want, and need nothing from abroad. They will sell the foreigner as much of their produce as he wishes to buy, and cheerfully take his gold in exchange, but they will not buy from him if they can help doing so. This is the real end they are aiming at; but they would not be at all so persistent, or put their case so much forward as they do, were it not for the attitude taken up by the missionaries and that most mischievous, intermeddling, un-English confederacy the Anti-Opium Society, as revealed to them by The Friend of China. The Government of China have in their employment Chinese clerks and interpreters who are excellent English scholars. These men explain everything about the objects of the Anti-Opium Society, and, whilst the Mandarins laugh at the absurdities put forward by that association, they are still quite ready to accept the Society as their ally. Hence Li Hung Chang’s letter to Mr. Storrs Turner, mentioned in Sir Rutherford Alcock’s paper; one would almost fancy that this letter had been written for Li by Mr. Storrs Turner himself. No one knew better than Li Hung Chang that this letter was one tissue of hypocrisy and mendacity. But, stay, there is one part of it that is certainly true. Li says to Mr. Turner: “Your Society has long been known to me and many of my countrymen.” There can be no doubt of the fact. Whilst despising Mr. Storrs Turner and his Society, and cordially hating him and his fellow missionaries, Li Hung Chang and his friends play into their hands and humour them in this matter to the top of their bent. Their real object is to get rid of the Indian opium if they can; or, if they cannot, to have a higher duty fixed upon it, so as to reduce its supply; or, at all events, to augment their own revenues by the higher duty. As matters stand at present, the Chinese Government obtains a net revenue of over two million pounds sterling from the Indian drug, and they derive, perhaps, half that amount from the duty on the home-grown article. They have revenue cruisers constantly watching to put down opium smuggling, and they adopt other rigid steps to prevent the practice; but it is still carried on to a considerable extent, not by Englishmen or other foreigners, mark you, but[Pg 143] by their own countrymen. Very great misconception, I may here say, prevails upon this point artfully spread abroad by agents here of the Anti-Opium Society, but I shall sweep this away before I close. The Chinese Government is quite willing to perpetuate the Indo-China opium trade if it can only get the duty raised to suit its purpose. Therein lies their whole object. Mr. Turner speaks about the paternal character of the Chinese Government. In the Peking Gazette—which is in some respects analogous to the London Gazette—Imperial decrees are from time to time published. Amongst others, there will appear proclamations addressed to the people, warning them to abstain from this and that evil practice. But they have not the least effect, nor is it expected that they will have effect. They are mere shams, and are not heeded; yet they please the people. These proclamations or injunctions are never seriously intended, and Mr. Turner knows this perfectly well. Dr. Wells Williams mentions in his book that two thousand years before Christ the manufacture of spirits was forbidden in China; yet the trade still flourishes there. Spirits are still drunk in moderation throughout China, just as opium is smoked.

Sir R. Hart says that “Native opium was known, produced, and used long before any Europeans began the sale of the foreign drug along the coast.” Mr. Watters, one of Her Majesty’s Consuls in China, states that the poppy is largely cultivated throughout Western China; Mr. Colborne Baber, who has travelled through nearly the whole of China, not only confirms Mr. Watters’ statement, but says that from his own experience one-third of the province of Yunnan is under opium culture. Mr. W. Donald Spence and a host of others thoroughly well informed upon the question also give the strongest corroborative testimony. Now, in the face of the statements of such witnesses as these, can you credit for a moment Mr. Storrs Turner when he says—believing only what he wishes to be true, but having no data whatever for his statements—that it is only recently that opium has been cultivated in China? Of all the existing nations of Asia, the only one that can now be described as civilized is China; and this is the country where Mr. Turner, because it suits his purpose, tells us that this invaluable drug has been only recently known.

China may be said to be the garden of Asia. Opium has[Pg 144] been grown throughout the fertile plains of that immense continent for thousands of years, and is it likely that the oldest and most civilized of all Asiatic nations would be the last to introduce into their country the culture of that drug to whose curative properties Mr. Storrs Turner bears such strong testimony in the opening chapter of his book? The only reason that gentleman could have had for making such a statement is simply, as I have already intimated, to induce his readers to believe that the Chinese would not have cultivated the drug, nor have used it for smoking, were it not for the importation of Indian opium into China. Upon this part of my subject, I may mention that a book has been written by a very learned man, Dr. W. A. P. Martin, President of the Tungwen College at Peking, who shows that China was the cradle of Alchemy, which was known there five hundred years before it was ever heard of in Europe. Are these a people likely to be ignorant of this indispensable medicine, as Mr. Turner characterizes it, or to neglect its cultivation throughout their fertile country? I may add that all, or nearly all, the medicines of the British Pharmacopœia, and a great many more also, have been known to the Chinese for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

The eighth fallacy is, that the British merchants in China are making large fortunes by opium. I have already, I think, pretty well disposed of this, and I need not say much more upon the subject now. One of the great points of the Anti-Opium Society and its supporters seems to be that the British merchants are birds of prey, a set of rapacious and ravenous creatures, without the feelings of humanity in their breasts, who have gone out to China to make princely fortunes, after the manner of that apochryphal youth who, on his departure from the paternal roof, is said to have received this admonition from his canny sire, “Mak money, ma boy—honestly if you can—but mak money”; that thus animated the British merchant arrives in China like a hawk amid a flock of pigeons, and helps himself to one of those princely acquisitions, which, to Mr. Storrs Turner, seem to be as plentiful as blackberries in the flowery land, and who, after having helped to demoralise and ruin the nation, gracefully returns home to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. The best answer to this is the amicable relations that now exist and have always existed between the natives and these merchants. The British[Pg 145] merchants, as a body, have no interest in the opium trade; nor are any of them engaged in smuggling or in any practices detrimental to the natives of China. In point of education, thorough mercantile knowledge, strict integrity, and sound practical Christianity, these gentlemen are second to no other body of men in the British Empire.

Another fallacy, or false assumption, number nine, which the advocates of the Anti-Opium Society are fond of propagating, and which is as fully believed in by themselves as by their deluded followers, is—that the discontinuance of the supply of opium from India would stop or check the practice of opium smoking. They fully believe that if they could only succeed in suppressing the Indo-China opium trade they would deal such a death-blow to this ancient custom, which prevails more or less over the eighteen provinces of the Chinese empire, that we should in a very short time hear of there being no opium smoking at all in China! That is as great a delusion as was ever indulged in. Imagine a person saying that if we ceased to ship beer, stout, and whiskey to Denmark, France, or Italy, we should check the consumption of brandy or other alcoholic liquors throughout Europe, and you have a pretty fair parallel to this assumption.

Suppose it were possible to stop the supply of opium from British India, and that such stoppage had in fact taken place, the result would be that the Chinese would increase the cultivation of the poppy in their own country still more than they have already done, and the Indian drug known as “Malwa opium” would still continue to be imported into China, for the British Government, even if desirous to do so, could not prohibit its manufacture and exportation. The Portuguese, who were the first to import Indian opium into China, would cultivate the drug, not only in their Indian possession of Goa, but in Africa, where they have colonies. Further, they would encourage its increased cultivation in the native states of India, which produce the Malwa opium, and which, as I have just said, we could not prevent. A great stimulus would also be given to the cultivation of Persian opium. Hear, how I am borne out by Don Sinibaldo de Mas, an authentic and thoroughly impartial witness. This is what he says, in his very valuable book:—

It is another fallacy to say that if the East India Company were to prohibit the cultivation of opium in her territories that the article would disappear from China altogether. The poppy grows freely between the[Pg 146] equator and latitudes 30° to 40°; it is produced in large quantities in Java, the Phillipines, Borneo, Egypt, and other places, as well as in China itself, where for many years past some thousands of chests are annually produced. It may be that the opium grown at Java has perhaps a different taste from that grown at Malwa and Benares, and may seem to be of inferior quality, but the consumers would soon become accustomed to that, and would probably prefer the former to the latter. Persons who are in the habit of smoking Havanna dislike Manilla cigars, and those who generally smoke Manillas prefer them to Havannas. At present opium is not exported from other countries because Indian Opium is so cheap.

What, then, may I ask, is the reproach constantly hurled at the East India Company? That it derives an annual income by the culture of opium of at least three millions of pounds sterling. Should the Company prohibit the culture of the drug in order to allow other nations to derive the emoluments arising from it? I who have travelled in both upper and lower India, and know something of the country, am persuaded that the people there are already over-taxed, and to demand from them a substituted tax for those three millions would be a very serious matter indeed. And for whom pray would this sacrifice be made? To reduce the quantity of opium smoked in China? Most assuredly not; for the Chinese would still smoke just as much. This sacrifice on the part of England would only benefit those countries which would take up the cultivation of opium in order to supply the Chinese markets from which the Indian drug had been withdrawn. And what fault can be found with the merchants? Is it not the Chinese who ask for opium, and who buy it of their own free will, although not a single foreigner, either by example or precept, encourages them to do so. Is it not the Chinese who go out of their ports to the “Receiving Ships” to fetch it? Is the Chinese nation composed of children, or of savages who do not know right from wrong? Ought, for instance, the Queen of England to undertake to redress Chinese habits, or let us say vices, and to reform her Custom-house administration by watching the Chinese Coast? By what right could the English Government or any other Government do such things? If that is not what is wished, what is? Against whom and against what is all this outcry?

It is said that the receiving ships are anchored at the mouth of rivers, that British war-ships anchor alongside of them, and that the consuls know this. That is quite true. The consuls admit all this—in fact, they often send their despatches by these very opium ships to Hong Kong. How many times has it happened that the consuls have had discussions with the Chinese governors respecting these receiving ships? They say, “We do not protect these ships; why do you not drive them away?” All this, I repeat, is notorious, and it is to be regretted that it is so; because, under proper legal authorisation, opium might be introduced into the Chinese Empire with such great advantage to the Imperial treasury....

It cannot be expected that the English Government through its naval commanders should prevent its subjects from carrying on a remunerative commerce, whilst Americans, Dutchmen, Danes, Swedes, and Portuguese would continue to carry on the trade with increased profit through the withdrawal of the English.

[Pg 147]Were the supply of opium from British India discontinued we should have a class of merchants who would form syndicates to buy up all the opium that could be found, and Macao would become the great depôt for Persian, Javanese, and Malwa opium for the China market, so that we should have probably four times the quantity of the foreign drug shipped to China that is now imported into that country, and thus the alleged evils of opium smoking in China would be intensified. By a stupid though well-meaning policy, that ultimate demoralisation, degradation, and ruin which the Anti-Opium Society allege is now being wrought upon the natives of China by the existing Indo-China opium trade would be enormously accelerated, whilst England and English missionaries would only earn the contempt of the Chinese nation and the ridicule of the whole world. I have shown you that the Government of China is not sincere in its professed desire to put down opium smoking; for if it was we should never have had the poppy grown so extensively as it is at present all over the empire. The evidence of Sir Robert Hart alone upon this point puts the matter beyond the question of a doubt. How, in the face of that gentleman’s book, this Anti-Opium agitation can continue I really cannot understand. He is an officer of the Chinese Government, and he would be the last man to publish anything damaging to the Government or people of China. Here have these Anti-Opium agitators been forty years in the wilderness without making any progress, but only getting deeper into the quagmire of error and delusion. Even now, although defeated at all points, they persist, as I shall show by and by, in obstructing public business in the House of Commons by again ventilating their unfounded theories.

As matters stand, this book of Sir Robert Hart’s must show to every impartial mind that the teaching of the Anti-Opium Society, from its formation to the present time, has been fallacious, misleading, and mischievous. Yet, in the face of this most damaging official Yellow-Book, we are still calmly and seriously told from many platforms, by dignitaries of the highest position in the Church, and by clergymen of all denominations, that we are demoralising and ruining the whole nation, because we send the Chinese a comparatively small quantity of pure and[Pg 148] unadulterated opium, which is beneficial rather than injurious to them. But what does Sir Robert Hart, with all his official information, say? That all this opium, amounting to about six thousand tons annually, is consumed in moderation by one million of smokers, or one-third of one per cent. of the whole population of China, estimating the number of people at three hundred millions only.

The missionaries and the Anti-Opium Society, in the face of facts which directly contradict them, say that the Chinese Government has a horror of opium; but they never tell us that that Government has a horror of themselves. What was the celebrated saying of Prince Kung to the British Ambassador? “Take away your opium and your missionaries,” said he. Now the Chinese Government does not hate opium; it derives a very large revenue from the drug at present, and it is only anxious to increase the amount. I have very little doubt that Prince Kung, and all the other Imperial magnates, including Li Hung Chang, that strictest of moralists, revel in the very Indian drug they affect so to abhor. But they do detest the missionaries most cordially; so do the whole educated people of the empire, and so do Chinamen generally. None know this better than the missionaries themselves. That disgraceful book, written by a Mandarin, called “A Death-blow to Corrupt Practices,” which was, by the aid of his brother Mandarins, extensively circulated throughout China, but too plainly proves the fact. That infamous volume was aimed at the whole missionary body in China, Roman Catholic as well as Protestant; it attributed the foulest crimes, the most disgraceful and disgusting practices to the missionaries. It was, in fact, the precursor of the fearful Tientsin massacre; yet the missionaries tell us that if we will only discontinue the Indo-China opium trade the millennium will arrive. I may here observe that if opium was the terrible thing, and was productive of so much misery to its votaries, as the Protestant missionaries and the Anti-Opium Society would have us believe, it seems strange that no mention of opium or opium smoking appears in this book. If half the outcry raised against the Indo-Chinese opium trade were true, here was an excellent opportunity for the writer to have inveighed against the wickedness of foreigners in introducing the horrible drug into the country. If the Gospel is objected to because of this Indian opium, what a fine occasion for the[Pg 149] author to have enlarged upon the iniquity. If the Chinese mind had been in any way impressed with the evils proceeding from opium smoking, can it be supposed for a moment that the author of this book, an educated Mandarin—one of the literati, in fact—would have omitted the opportunity of denouncing the missionaries and foreigners generally for introducing the terrible drug into the country and making profit by the vices and misery of the Chinese people? Does not the entire omission of opium from this book prove most eloquently that there is no real truth in the outcry raised by these missionaries against the opium trade? The real fact, believe me, is this, the Chinese dislike and distrust the missionaries not because opium is an evil but because they hate and despise Christianity. From the Anti-Opium Society one never hears anything about the removal of the missionaries; it is all “take away your opium.” I am perfectly sure that, if we agreed to exclude our missionaries from China, the Government of that country would unhesitatingly admit Indian opium into the country duty free. No greater proof can be adduced of this than the zeal and persistency with which the Chinese Government recently and successfully prosecuted the celebrated Wu Shi Shan case, which was in the nature of an action of ejectment against a Protestant missionary body at Foochow. The late Mr. French, the Judge of Her Majesty’s Supreme Court for China and Japan, tried the case, the hearing of which occupied nearly two months. It cost the Chinese Government about one hundred thousand dollars, or twenty thousand pounds; they were well satisfied with the result, although the land they recovered was not worth a tenth of the money.

It is declared by Mr. Turner and the other advocates of the Anti-Opium Society that we have treated the Chinese with great harshness; that we have extorted the Treaty of Tientsin from them, and bullied them into legalizing the admission of opium into the empire; that we began by smuggling opium into China, and ended by quarrelling with the Chinese. It must not be forgotten, on the other hand, how the Chinese have treated us. For more than a century before we introduced opium into China, and began, as it is said, to quarrel with the Chinese, we had been buying their teas and silks, and paying for them in hard cash. During[Pg 150] all that time we were treated by the Mandarins with the greatest indignity. Our representatives and our people were insulted, often maltreated, and sometimes murdered. As to opium smuggling, about which so much is sought to be made by the Anti-Opium people, there is one point that the writers and speakers upon the subject seem to have forgotten. In the first place, I think I will show you that smuggling, in the proper sense of the term, has never, in fact, been carried on in China by Englishmen—or, indeed, by other foreigners—at all. But even admitting, for argument’s sake, that smuggling in its ordinary acceptation did, in fact, exist, how does the matter stand? It has been for centuries the recognized international law of the civilized world that one nation is not bound to take cognizance of the revenue laws of another. This principle has been carried out in past times with the greatest strictness. For instance, there was once a very large contraband trade done between England and France. When brandy was heavily taxed, and when it was thought more of than it is now, smuggling it into England was a very profitable business. It was the same as regards silks, lace, and a great many other articles before free trade became the law of this country. Our Government knew this very well, but they never dreamt for a moment of sending a remonstrance to the French Government upon the subject. Had they done so, the latter would probably have replied: “We cannot prevent our people from doing this. We give them no encouragement whatever. We have enough to do to prevent your people from smuggling English goods into our country, and you must do your best on your side to prevent our subjects from introducing French goods into yours.” For I suppose our people, carrying out the principle of reciprocity, had some contraband dealings with French contrabandists on their own account. That was the law for centuries, and it is so still.

But of late years what is called “the comity of nations” has become more understood, and there is a better spirit spreading between different states on this subject, although, as I have said, the law is still the same. If our Government knew that there was now an organized system of smuggling carried on here with France, they would, I dare say, try to put a stop to the practice,[Pg 151] and would, at the least, give such information to the Government of France as would put their revenue officers on their guard, and I am sure that the French Government would act in the same way towards us. That would be due to the better feeling that has arisen between the two countries within the last forty years. The moment, therefore, it was found that there was a considerable demand in China for Indian opium, British and other vessels brought the article to China; and there can be no doubt that they met with great encouragement from the Chinese officials, but they got no assistance from us. The opium shippers carried on the trade at their own risk. All this has been very clearly shown by Don Sinibaldo de Mas. There was no actual smuggling on the part of the owners of these vessels. The Chinese openly came on board and bought and took away the opium, “squaring” matters, so to speak, with the Mandarins. These so-called smugglers belonged to all nationalities. There were Americans, Portuguese, and Germans, as well as English, engaged in it. According to the international law of European countries, the Chinese Government ought, under the circumstances, to have had a proper preventive service, and so put down the smuggling. But, instead of this, the practice was openly encouraged by the Chinese officials, some of them Mandarins of high position.

Now and then an explosion would occur; angry remonstrances would be addressed to the British Government, and bad feeling between the two nations would be engendered, the Chinese all along treating us as barbarians, using the most insulting language towards us, and subjecting our people, whenever opportunity offered, to the greatest indignities. The missionaries have ignored all this. They appear to have satisfied themselves so completely that we forced this trade upon the Chinese that they have lost sight both of fact and reason. The very existence of an opium-smuggling trade with China shows that the article smuggled was in very great demand in that country. People never illegally take into a country an article that is not greatly in request there. They will not risk their lives and property unless they know large profits are to be acquired by the venture, and such profits can only be made upon articles in great demand. It was because there was found to be a[Pg 152] demand for Indian opium that this so-called contraband trade sprang up. This furnishes the strongest proof that the Chinese valued the opium highly, and that it was on their invitation that the drug was introduced. There is, I believe, a considerable contraband trade now carried on in tobacco between Germany and Cuba and England, just because the article is in demand here, and there is a very high duty upon it. The fact is, that if the arguments of the Anti-Opium people are properly weighed, they will be found, almost without exception, to cut both ways, and with far greater force against their own side.

Now with respect to smuggling, it is right that I should clear up the misconception that seems to prevail upon the subject. Whatever may have been the practice previous to the Treaty of Nankin, which was signed on the 29th of August 1842, and ratified on the 26th of June 1843—forty years ago, I say it advisedly, and challenge contradiction, that no smuggling or quasi smuggling, or any practice resembling smuggling, has been carried on in China by any British subject since the signing of that treaty. Although no mention is made of opium in that convention, it is an indisputable fact that from the time of the making of it until the Treaty of Tientsin in 1858, Indian opium was freely allowed into the country at an ad valorem duty. This is shown by Don Sinibaldo de Mas, in his book, and also by Sir Rutherford Alcock, in his valuable paper. No doubt the Chinese themselves have since then smuggled opium into their country, and are doing so still. They are, in truth, inveterate smugglers, and it has been found impossible for the British authorities of Hong Kong to prevent the practice. For the past thirty years laws have from time to time been passed in the colony with the object of checking the practice, which have not been wholly unsuccessful; for instance, some twenty-five years ago an Ordinance was passed prohibiting junks from leaving the harbour between sunset, and, I think, 6 a.m. on the following morning, and compelling every outward-bound junk to leave at the harbour master’s office a copy of the “Manifest” before starting, and I have known many prosecutions for breach of this Ordinance.

Still smuggling by Chinamen goes on more or less, but not now, I think, to any large extent. As for any connivance[Pg 153] or participation in the practice by the British authorities or the British people, and, indeed, I may say the same for all foreigners in China, there is none whatever. I am fully borne out in this statement by the Friend of China, which you will remember is the organ of the Anti-Opium Society. It would appear that Sir John Pope Hennessy, lately Governor of Hong Kong, made a speech last autumn at Nottingham, on the occasion of the meeting of the Social Science Congress, in the course of which he made some allusion to smuggling by the British community of Hong Kong. I have not myself read the speech, but collect this from the statement of the journal in question, which I shall now read to you. This is the passage:—

The present governor of Hong Kong is extremely unpopular with the British community under his jurisdiction. Into the occasion and merit of the feud we do not pretend to enter, but in reproducing the Governor’s condemnation of the Colony it is only fair to note the fact of the existing hostility between governor and governed. We are sorry, too, that Sir John did not state that these desperate smugglers are of Chinese race. So far as we know there is no ground for inculpating a single Englishman in Hong Kong in these nefarious proceedings; the English merchant sells his opium to Chinese purchasers, and there his connection with the traffic ceases.

So much for the delusion as to smuggling by British subjects in China. As for the “Hoppo” of Canton, who farms from the Chinese Government the revenue of the provinces of Kwantung and Kwangsi, and whose object it is to squeeze as much as he can from the mercantile community of these provinces during his term of office, he has a fleet of fast English-built steam cruisers, heavily armed, ostensibly to put down smuggling, but really to cripple the commerce of the port of Hong Kong, they keep the harbour blockaded by this fleet of armed cruisers to prey upon the native craft coming to and sailing from the colony. Wild with wrath at the prosperity of Hong Kong, the Hoppo and his cruisers lose no opportunity of oppressing the native junks resorting to the place. All those vessels they think should go to Canton to swell the Hoppo’s income. Many Chinese merchants have put cases of oppression of the kind in my hands, where those armed cruisers simply played the part of pirates, seizing unoffending junks, taking them to Canton, and confiscating junk and cargo; but I regret to say that only in a very few cases have I been able to obtain redress. This[Pg 154] state of things has been going on for the past fifteen or twenty years, and should be put down by the British Government. So far as respects the Chinese authorities, and the junk owners, and native merchants, it is simply legalised robbery; whilst as regards the British Government and people of the colony, foreigners as well as natives, it is a system of insult and outrage—a very serious injury, and a glaring breach of international law, which no European Government would tolerate in another. I mention this to show how forbearing and long-suffering the Government of Hong Kong and the Imperial Government have been towards China during the continuance of this most nefarious and unjustifiable state of things. This is in truth a very serious matter. When Sir Henry Elliott took possession of Hong Kong in 1841 on behalf of the Queen, he invited by proclamation the Chinese people to settle in the place, promising them protection for their lives and property, upon the faith of which the natives took their families and property to the colony. But how can it be said now that their property is protected when this piratical fleet, like a bird of prey, hovers round the colony, pouncing down upon the native craft going to or leaving the port?

To close this part of my subject, I may say in short, that the charges brought by the Anti-Opium Society against the importation of Indian opium into China are exactly on a par with the objections of a Society established in France for the purpose of prohibiting the importation into England of cognac, on the grounds that that spirit intoxicated, demoralised, and ruined the English people. If any set of men in France were fanatical and insane enough to set forth such views, they would be laughed down at once. The answer to the objection to the brandy trade would be, “That the English people manufacture and drink plenty of gin and whisky, and if they, the French, discontinued sending them brandy the English would simply manufacture and drink more spirits of their own production.” No two cases could be more alike.

Before proceeding to the last of the fallacies by which the opponents of the Indo-Chinese opium trade have been so long deluding society, I wish to refer to the statements made by Mr. Storrs Turner in his book, and by the advocates of the Anti-Opium trade, respecting the Treaty of[Pg 155] Tientsin. It is alleged that Lord Elgin, who bore the highest character as a statesman and Christian gentleman, extorted the treaty from the Chinese, and forced them to include opium in the schedule to that treaty. Mr. Turner, at p. 95 of his book, typifies the conduct of England thus:—

The strong man knocks down the weak one, sets his foot upon his chest and demands:—“Will you give me the liberty to knock at your front door and supply your children with poison ad libitum?” The weak man gasps out from under the crushing pressure—“I will, I will; anything you please.” And the strong man goes home rejoicing that he is no longer under the unpleasant necessity of carrying on a surreptitious back-door trade.

This metaphor is really absurd, and has no application whatever. Were a man so infamous as to act in the manner stated, it would be a matter of little concern to him whether his poison entered by the front or the back door, so long as he got paid for the article. The fact is, as I have stated, that since the Treaty of Nankin, in 1842, opium has been openly allowed in the country without any difficulty or objection. If there is any point in this metaphor of Mr. Storrs Turner’s at all, it applies not to the insertion of opium in the tariff, but to the clause in the treaty as to the admission of missionaries into China, for that was really the bitter pill the Chinese swallowed. In 1858, when the Treaty of Tientsin was being drawn up, the tariff upon British goods had to be settled. The Chinese Commissioners, not only as a matter of course, and without any pressure whatever, proposed to put down opium in the schedule at the present fixed duty of thirty taels a pikul, but actually insisted upon doing so. There was no necessity for using pressure at all, and none in fact was used. It was included in the tariff just like other goods. Mr. H. N. Lay, who jointly with Sir Thomas Wade, Her Majesty’s present minister at Pekin, was Chinese Secretary to Lord Elgin’s special mission, and who then, I believe, filled the important post in the Chinese service now occupied by Sir Robert Hart, expresses his opinion on the subject as follows:—

Statements have been advanced of late, with more or less of precision, to the effect that the legalisation of the opium trade was wrung from Chinese fears. At the recent meeting in Birmingham Lord Elgin is credited, in so many words, with having “extorted” at Tientsin the legalisation of the article in question. There is no truth whatever in the[Pg 156] allegation, and I do not think, in fairness to Lord Elgin’s memory, or in justice to all concerned, that I ought to observe silence any longer. Jointly with Sir Thomas Wade, our present minister in China, I was Chinese Secretary to Lord Elgin’s special mission. All the negotiations at Tientsin passed through me. Not one word upon either side was ever said about opium from first to last. The revision of the tariff, and the adjustment of all questions affecting our trade, was designedly left for after deliberation and arrangement, and it was agreed that for that purpose the Chinese High Commissioners should meet Lord Elgin at Shanghai in the following winter. The Treaty of Tientsin was signed on the 26th of June 1858; the first was withdrawn, and Lord Elgin turned the interval to account by visiting Japan and concluding a treaty there. In the meantime the preparation of the tariff devolved upon me, at the desire no less of the Chinese than of Lord Elgin. When I came to “Opium” I inquired what course they proposed to take in respect to it. The answer was, “We have resolved to put it into the tariff as Yang Yoh (foreign medicine).” This represents with strict accuracy the amount of the “extortion” resorted to. And I may add that the tariff as prepared by me, although it comprises some 300 articles of import and export, was adopted by the Chinese Commissioners without a single alteration, which would hardly have been the case had the tariff contained aught objectionable to them. Five months after the signature of the Treaty of Tientsin, long subsequently to the removal of all pressure, the Chinese High Commissioners, the signatories of the treaty, came down to Shanghai in accordance with the arrangement made, and after conference with their colleagues, and due consideration, signed with Lord Elgin the tariff as prepared, along with other commercial articles which had been drawn up in concert with the subordinate members of the Commission who had been charged with that duty. The Chinese Government admitted opium as a legal article of import, not under constraint, but of their own free will deliberately.

Now Mr. H. N. Lay is a gentleman whose testimony is altogether unimpeachable, and this is his statement. He explains the whole transaction, and it is substantially and diametrically contrary to the allegations of Mr. Turner and the Anti-Opium Society. His account of the matter has the greater force, because I believe he is rather anti-opium in his views than the opposite, and at the time of the treaty he was in the service of the Chinese Government. The truth is, that we never should have had the Chinese urging us to increase the duty had they not been supported by the Anti-Opium Society. Mr. Laurence Oliphant was Lord Elgin’s secretary at the time of the Tientsin Treaty. This is what he says on the subject:—

As a great deal of misconception prevails in the public mind upon this subject, I would beg to confirm what Mr. Lay has said as to the views of the Chinese Government in the matter.

I was appointed in 1858 Commissioner for the settlement of the trade[Pg 157] and tariff regulations with China; and during my absence with Lord Elgin in Japan, Mr. Lay was charged to consider the details with the subordinate Chinese officials named for the purpose. On my return to Shanghai I went through the tariff elaborated by these gentlemen with the Commissioner appointed by the Chinese Government. When we came to the article “opium,” I informed the Commissioner that I had received instructions from Lord Elgin not to insist on the insertion of the drug in the tariff, should the Chinese Government wish to omit it. This he declined to do. I then proposed that the duty should be increased beyond the figure suggested in the tariff; but to this he objected, on the ground that it would increase the inducements to smuggling.

I trust that the delusion that the opium trade now existing with China was “extorted” from that country by the British Ambassador may be finally dispelled.

But Mr. Storrs Turner will doubtless still say, “Oh! these gentlemen are Englishmen; you cannot believe them.” I do not think, however, this kind of objection will have much weight with my readers or the country at large.

And now, as I am on the political side of the question, I will say a few words on the Indian aspect of the case. The Government of India is charged by Mr. Storrs Turner and the Anti-Opium people generally with descending to the position of opium manufacturers and merchants, and quotes an alleged proposal of the late Lord Lawrence to drop the traffic, leaving the cultivation and exportation of the drug to private enterprise, and recouping itself from loss by placing a heavy export duty on the article. If Lord Lawrence ever proposed such an arrangement, which I doubt very much, I hardly think he could have carefully considered the question. No doubt, in an abstract point of view, it is contrary to sound policy for the Government of a country to carry on mercantile business, much less to take into its own hands a monopoly of any trade, yet the thing has been done for a great number of years, and is still practised by some continental Governments without the existence of any special reason for so doing. The Indo-China opium trade, however, is an entirely exceptional one. When an exceptional state of things has to be dealt with, corresponding measures must be resorted to. The opium industry in India is an ancient one; and the exportation of this drug to China began under the Portuguese, several centuries ago. Were the Government of India to adopt the alleged proposals of Lord Lawrence, the result would be that a much larger quantity of opium than is now produced[Pg 158] in India would be turned out, so that not only would the alleged evils now complained of by the missionaries and the Anti-Opium Society be intensified, but the Government of India would find its revenue greatly increased by its export duty on the drug. This is very conclusively shown by Don Sinibaldo de Mas, a most competent authority, who has studied the question deeply and can have no possible object but the revelation of the truth.

There are numerous objections to throwing open the Indian trade. As matters now stand, the Government of India annually makes advances to the opium growers, to enable them to produce the drug. These advances are made at a low or nominal rate of interest. Let the Government once drop the monopoly and throw open the trade, and then the small farmers—and they form perhaps seventy-five per cent. of the whole, whether they cultivate the poppy or any other crop—would be at the mercy of the usurers, who are the curse of India. Thus the poor cultivator, instead of paying the Government two or three per cent. interest for the advance, would have to pay perhaps five times that amount, with a bill for law costs; and a much larger bill staring him in the future, in case he should be so unfortunate as not to be up to time with his payments. The usurers or Márwáris as I believe they are called, would in such cases profit by the fruits of the soil instead of the growers. As to the morality of the proposed change, I do not see what could be gained by such an arrangement. If it is wrong to derive a revenue from opium by direct, it is equally wrong to do so by indirect means. Before closing this part of the subject, there is another point I wish to say a few words upon. It is put forward by Mr. Turner in his book, with great plausibility, and is, no doubt, accepted by his disciples as fact, that every acre of land put under opium cultivation displaces so much rice, the one being a poison, the other the staff of life. This is perfectly fallacious; wherever rice is grown in China—and I fancy it is the same in India—there are two crops taken in the year. Rice is cultivated during the spring and summer months (that is, the rainy season), for the grain only grows where there is abundance of water.

The poppy thrives only in the dry season, that is, during the latter part of the autumn and the winter, when the rice[Pg 159] crops have been saved. The poppy requires a rich soil, so that before planting it the farmers have to manure the ground well; then, when the poppy crop has been secured, the land is in good heart for rice, and so the rotation goes on. This I stated in the first edition of this lecture; since then Mr. Spence’s Report for 1881 has appeared which fully confirms my view. Thus much for the accuracy of this statement of Mr. Storrs Turner.

I come now to the last of the fallacies, follies, and fantasies, upon which the huge superstructure of delusion put forward for so many years by the Anti-Opium Society has been built. At once the least sustainable, it is the one which carries the most weight with the supporters of that Society, for it furnishes the raison d’être of their whole action. It is that the introduction of Indian opium into China has arrested the progress of Christianity in that country, and that if the trade were discontinued the Chinese would accept the Gospel. No greater mistake, nor more unfounded delusion than this could be indulged in; indeed, it seems to me something very like a profanation to mix up the Indo-China opium trade with the spread of the Gospel in the Empire of China. If the objection to embrace Christianity because we send opium to that country has ever, in fact, been made by natives, that objection was a subterfuge only.

The Chinese are an acute and crafty race; when they desire to attain an object, they seldom attempt to do so by direct means, but rather seek to gain their ends indirectly. They despise and hate Christianity, although they will not tell you so, much less will they argue with you, or enter into controversy upon the subject. They will rather try to get rid of it by a side-wind. They are a very polite and courteous people, and understand this style of tactics very well. I have no doubt whatever that if the British trade in opium were suppressed to-morrow, and that no British merchant dealt any longer in the drug, or sent a particle of it into China, and if a missionary were to go before the Chinese and say, “We can now show clean hands, our Government has stopped the opium trade,” and then were to open his book and begin talking to them of Christianity, he would only be met with derisive laughter. “This man,” they would say, “thinks that because the English have ceased to sell us opium we should all become Christians. If they sold us no more rice[Pg 160] or broadcloth, we suppose they would say that we should become Mahomedans.”

Knowing the cunning and keen sense of humour of the people, I have no doubt they would use another argument also. There is a story told of a Scotch clergyman who rebuked one of his congregation for not being quite so moderate in his potations as he ought to be. “It’s a’ vera weel,” returned the other, who had reason to know that the minister did not always practise what he preached, “but do ye ken how they swept the streets o’ Jerusalem?” The clergyman was obliged to own his ignorance, when Sandy replied, “Weel, then, it was just this, every man kept his ain door clean.” And I can well fancy in the case I have supposed, an equally shrewd Chinaman saying to the missionary, “What for you want to make us follow your religion? Your religion vely bad one. You have plenty men drink too muchee sam-shu, get drunk and fight, and beat their wives and children. Chinaman no get drunk. Chinaman no beat or kill his wife. Too muchee sam-shu vely bad. Drink vely bad for Inglismen; what for you don’t go home and teach them to be soba, plaupa men?” Believe me, the Chinese know our little peccadilloes and are very well informed respecting our doings here at home.

We send but six thousand tons of opium annually to China, which, according to Sir Robert Hart, who ought to be a reliable authority on the subject, inflicts no appreciable injury upon the health, wealth, or extension of the population of that vast empire. The truth is, that the alleged objection of the Chinese against Christianity amounts simply to this: because some of our people do what is wrong, and we are not as a nation faultless in morals, we should not ask them to change their religion for ours. Perfection is not to be attained by any nation or the professors of any creed. If we had the ability, and were foolish enough to stop the exportation of Indian opium to China, the natives of the country would find some other reason for clinging to their own creeds and rejecting Christianity. They could, and doubtless would, point to the fearful plague of intemperance prevailing amongst us; they could also refer to the great number of distilleries and breweries in the United Kingdom, to our Newgate Calendar, and to the records of the Divorce Court.[Pg 161] In short, they would say, “You do not practise what you preach. What do you mean, then, by trying to make Christians of us?” The same doctrine has been used over and over again even in Christian countries, and it is lamentable to see educated and intelligent men becoming victims to such a delusive mode of reasoning. This sad hallucination on the part of the missionary clergymen is the origin of the mischievous and very stupid agitation going on against the Indo-China opium trade, but now rapidly, I believe and hope, coming to an end.

A few years ago I paid a short visit to Japan. Whilst I was at Tokio, the capital, a lecture was given there by an educated Japanese gentleman, who spoke English well and fluently. He introduced religion into his lecture, and considered the question why the Japanese did not embrace Christianity. “Our minds,” said he, “are like blank paper; we are ready to receive any religion that is good, we are not bigoted to our own, but we object to Christianity because we do not consider it a good religion, because we see that Christians do not reverence old age, and because they are so licentious, and so brutal to the coolies.” But these reasons are again merely subterfuges. The Japanese do not smoke opium, and the very same objection they urge against Christianity might also be used by the Chinese. The Oriental mind is very much the same, whether Chinese, Japanese, or Indian. Upon religious or political questions they well know how to shift their ground. As to the Chinese embracing Christianity, I trust the day will come when they will do so. They would then be the most powerful nation in the whole world, and probably become our own best teachers on religion and morals; but at present I see no immediate hope of their conversion. I say this in view of the stand taken by the Protestant missionaries on this opium question. Nothing, in my opinion, is more calculated to impede the progress of missionary work than this most absurd and unfounded delusion. The reason given by the missionaries for the apparently small success which has hitherto attended their efforts, is that the so-called iniquitous traffic in opium has been the one stumbling block in their way. Put a stop to this villanous trade, they say, and the Gospel will flourish like a green bay-tree. This sort of argument takes with the missionaries themselves and with religious people generally, and thus converts to the[Pg 162] anti-opium policy are made. Yet all these statements rest, I can assure you, on an entirely fallacious foundation. We are not dealing with a savage but with a civilized people. You may change a nation’s religion, but you cannot alter its customs, and if China were evangelised to-morrow the Chinese would still continue opium smokers. The Reverend Mr. Galpin has hit the nail on the head when he said in his letter to the missionaries of Peking:—

Looking at Christianity in the broad and true sense, as a great regenerating force breathing its beneficent spirit upon and promoting the welfare of all, of course the excessive use or abuse of opium and every other thing, is a serious hindrance to its happy progress. But this is a very different position from that of supposing that the present apparently slow progress of mission-work in China is to be attributed to the importation of Indian opium. China is a world in itself, and the influence of Christian missions has hitherto reached but a handful of the people, for there are many serious obstacles to its progress besides opium.

As before mentioned, the Roman Catholic missionaries have never complained that their missionary labours were impeded by the opium trade. I had the honour of being Solicitor at Hong Kong to a wealthy and important religious community of that persuasion which has missionary stations all over China, Formosa, and Tonquin, and might call the head of the order a personal friend, yet I never heard a complaint of the kind from him or any of his clergy. I was on very intimate terms with a Roman Catholic gentleman who was in the confidence of the Catholic Bishop at Hong Kong, and the Roman Catholic community generally, and I have had conversations with him on missionary matters. He has never uttered such a complaint, but, on the contrary, has always spoken of the success which attended the Roman Catholic missions throughout China. In this connection it should not be forgotten that the Chinese treat all foreigners alike; they know no distinction between them—English, French, German, Spanish, Americans, Portuguese, are to them one people. The victims of the Tientsin massacre were, with the exception, I think, of a Russian gentleman, a community of French nuns. The petition to the House of Commons set out in my first letter emanated from the Protestant missionaries alone, and it has not, I am well assured, been signed by a single Roman Catholic missionary. It is plain, therefore, that this alleged obstacle to the spread of the Gospel in China by the English and American missionaries[Pg 163] is a monster of their own creation, and has no real existence. Bishop Burden, of Hong Kong, the missionary bishop for South China, who, although no authority on the opium question, ought, on this point at all events, to be well informed, estimates the number of Protestant converts in China at forty thousand, and of Roman Catholics at one million. The disparity is great, but then it should not be forgotten that Roman Catholic missions in China date from a period probably two centuries earlier than Protestant missions. If out of these forty thousand converts I allow five per cent., or two thousand, to be really sincere and able to give a reason for the faith that is in them, I believe that I am not underrating the precise number of true and bona fide converts which these missionaries have made. But knowing this as I do, it is very far from my intention to cast blame upon the missionaries in consequence. To those who understand the difficulties those devoted men have to contend with in the progress of their labours, the wonder is not that they have done so little, but that they have achieved so much. Upon this point, I would say again, I am very far from attributing any blame to our missionaries, save in so far as they have allowed themselves to be cajoled by certain Chinese and others as to opium smoking. No one is more sensible of their piety, learning, zeal, and industry; and a very sad task it has been to me to impugn their conduct and controvert their views as I have done. A good cause, however, cannot and ought not to be promoted by falsehood; for such this Anti-Opium delusion amounts to, and nothing more, and there can be no hope for more solid results from the missionary field until it is swept from the missionaries’ path. Two thousand sincere converts after all is, in my belief, a great and encouraging result, considering the tremendous obstacles our missionaries have to encounter in overcoming in the first instance the prejudice of the Chinese against foreigners, and then in displacing in their minds the idolatrous and sensuous creed that has taken such firm root there, and become, so to speak, engrained in the Chinese nature, and implanting in its stead the truths of the Gospel. Each of these two thousand converts will prove, I am well assured, like the grain of mustard seed that will fructify and in time bring forth much fruit. But it must not be forgotten that China, in the terse and apposite words of the Rev. Mr. Galpin, is[Pg 164] “a world in itself,” containing as it does about a fourth of the whole human race.

The custom of opium smoking has existed in the Empire of China from time immemorial. You might as well try to reverse the course of Niagara as to wean the Chinese from the use of their favourite drug. As to the Treaty of Tientsin, it is unfair and ungrateful of the missionaries to speak of it as they do. It did no more than reduce to a formal settlement a state of things that had been for several years tacitly acquiesced in and agreed to by the Chinese and British authorities and people. That treaty was prepared with the greatest deliberation by an eminent statesman who was singularly remarkable for his humanity and benevolence, assisted by able subordinates who were in no way deficient in those qualities. The missionaries seem to forget that this very Treaty of Tientsin, which they so denounce, is the charter by which they have now a footing in China, with liberty to preach the Gospel there. They would have no locus standi in China but for this sorely abused treaty. There is a special clause in it drawn up by Lord Elgin himself, providing that we should be at liberty to propagate Christianity in the country. That treaty is the missionaries’ protection. It is to it they would now appeal if molested by the Mandarins or people of China. They cry it down for one purpose, and rely upon it for another. I may here not inappropriately observe that the missionaries of Peking seem to have been under a misapprehension as to the nature of this treaty. From their petition to the House of Commons it would appear that they were under the impression that some special clause legalizing the importation of opium into China was introduced into it under pressure from the British Government; but that was a mistake. There is no “clause” whatever in the treaty on the subject of opium. The only place that the word “opium” appears is in the schedule, where it is set down amongst other dutiable articles, such as pepper and nutmegs, exactly as stated by Mr. H. N. Lay. It is plain, then, that these missionary gentlemen had not a copy of the Treaty of Tientsin before them when they drew up their petition, and I doubt very much if any of them ever read the treaty at all. They appear to have got the delusion so strongly into their heads that the legalization of opium was wrung from the Chinese Government that it seems they[Pg 165] thought it quite unnecessary to read the treaty and took everything for granted.

I have now, I think, shown and fully refuted the fallacies which within the past thirty years have crept into the minds of the opponents of the Indo-China opium trade, dimming the faculties, blinding the reason, warping the judgment, ministering to the prejudices, deluding the senses, gratifying the feelings, until these fallacies have become so interwoven and welded together as to form and culminate into one CONCRETE PLAUSIBLE, FASCINATING, DEFAMATORY LIE! A cruel, false, and treacherous lie, that misleads alike its votaries and its victims, and that, too, in the names of religion and charity.—A lie circumstantial,—so highly genteel and respectable,—so sentimental and pious,—so sleek and unctuous,—so caressed and flattered,—so bravely dressed, and so beflounced and trimmed with the trappings of truth, that even those who have bedecked the jade fail to see the imposture they have created, so that the tawdry quean struts along receiving homage as she goes, whilst plain honest Truth in her russet gown wends her way unnoticed.—I have shown that this Anti-Opium scare is a sham, a mockery, a delusion—a glittering piece of counterfeit coin, which I have broken to pieces and proved to you that, for all its silvery surface, there is nothing but base metal beneath.

Let me now recapitulate. I have, I think, made it irrefutably clear—

1. That the Chinese are a civilized people, very abstemious in their habits, especially as regards the use of opium, spirits, and stimulants of all kinds.

2. That there is and can be no analogy or comparison whatever between opium eating and opium smoking, as each stands separate and apart from the other, differing totally in the mode of use and their effects, and that opium eating is not a Chinese custom.

3. That an overdose of opium, like an excessive draught of spirits, is poisonous and produces immediate death.

4. That opium smoking is a harmless and perfectly innocuous practice, unless immoderately indulged in, which rarely happens, as seldom, indeed, as over-indulgence in tea or tobacco in England.

5. That even when immoderately indulged, any depressing[Pg 166] effects resulting from opium smoking are removed simply by discontinuing the use of the drug for a short period.

6. That no death from opium smoking, whether indulged in moderately or excessively, has ever occurred, and that death from such cause is a physical impossibility.

7. That opium smoking is a custom far less enslaving and more easily discontinued than dram drinking or even tobacco smoking.

8. That opium smoking is a luxury which can only be indulged in by those who are well-to-do and is wholly out of the reach of the poor, and, save in Western China and certain other districts, where the poppy is very extensively cultivated and opium comparatively cheap, beyond the means of the working classes.

9. That opium smoking is a universal custom throughout the whole of the immense empire of China, just as tea, wine, or beer drinking is with the people of the United Kingdom, its use being limited only by the ability of the people to procure the drug.

10. That it is admitted by Sir Robert Hart, a high official of the Chinese Government, that the greatest quantity of Indian opium of late years imported into China is only sufficient to supply about one million of people with a modicum of the drug, and that, in his own words, “neither the finances of the State, nor the wealth of the people, nor the growth of its population,” can be specially damaged by a luxury which only draws from five-pence to eleven-pence a-piece from the pockets of those who enjoy it, and which is indulged in by a comparatively small number of the Chinese people.

11. That the poppy is extensively cultivated in all the provinces of China proper as well as in Manchuria, and that there is probably three or four times as much native drug produced annually in China as is imported from abroad.

12. That in the western parts of China, where the poppy is more extensively cultivated and opium more generally smoked than in other parts of the empire, no decadence whatever is produced in the mental or bodily health, or the wealth, industry, and prosperity of the people, but on the contrary, that these very people are peculiarly strong and vigorous.

13. That the Chinese Government is not, and never was, sincere in its professed desire to put down the practice of[Pg 167] opium smoking in the empire, which is evidenced by the fact that the poppy is largely cultivated throughout the country, and that a revenue is derived by the Government from the native drug.

14. That Hong Kong being the great depôt of Indian opium and the place where the drug is most largely prepared for smoking purposes, and where also the native population (about three-fourths of whom are adult males) are in good circumstances, and therefore better able to indulge in opium smoking than their countrymen in the mainland of China, is the place where the alleged evils of opium smoking, if they existed, would be found in their worst form, yet that those evils are unknown there.

15. That the outcry, got up and disseminated for so many years past in England against the Indo-China opium trade has not, and never had, any substantial foundation; that such outcry has arisen from the complaints, of the Protestant missionaries in China, which also are equally baseless, those missionaries having been simply made dupes of by certain designing and mendacious natives for purposes of their own, or of the Government of China.

16. That opium was inserted into the Schedule to the Treaty of Tientsin at the express desire and request of the Chinese authorities; that Lord Elgin wished and proposed to those authorities by his Secretary, Mr. Laurence Oliphant, to place a higher duty than thirty taels on the drug, but that the Chinese officials declined to do so, fearing that, if the duty were raised, an impetus would be given to smuggling.

17. That the career of the Anti-Opium Society has been signalized by a continuous series of mistakes and blunders—commencing with the monstrous figment (the invention of an American missionary) that there were twenty millions of opium smokers in China supplied by the Indian drug, and that two millions of these smokers died annually from the practice,—and that the Anti-Opium confederacy is only kept alive by the continued reiteration of exploded fallacies, sophistries, and mis-statements of the same nature.

18. That the British merchants connected with China in the past and the present were and are wholly free from the stigmas cast upon them by the Anti-Opium Society, anent[Pg 168] smuggling and the opium trade;[12] that, so far from having acted wrongfully towards China and the Chinese, their conduct towards both has been, and still is, emphatically characterized by honour and rectitude, and by uniform courtesy and kindness; and that those merchants, have deserved well of their country.

19. That the Anti-Opium Society, from its formation to the present time, has wrought nothing but mischief, crippling by its pragmatical efforts the action of Her Majesty’s Government, both here and in India and China, abstracting by its mis-statements enormous sums of money from the charitable and benevolent, and squandering that money in the propagation of unfounded theories and injurious reflections against our fellow-countrymen in China; and that the public should withdraw their confidence from the Society, and cease to supply it with one farthing more.

20. That, save in respect of the blockade of Hong Kong by the armed cruisers of the Hoppo or Revenue Farmer of the provinces of the two Kwangs, which inflict great and bitter hardship upon the Chinese merchants of Hong Kong and the junk owners who trade to that place, the British nation, by its Government and people, has amply redeemed the promises made to the people of China by Her Majesty’s representative, Sir Henry Elliott, on taking over Hong Kong, which is amply verified by the flourishing state of that Colony, and its large, thriving, and contented Chinese population.

21. That, whilst it is desirable to maintain the most amicable and cordial relations with the Government of China and its various viceroyalties, that most unjustifiable blockade by the Hoppo or Revenue Farmer of Canton should be promptly suppressed; a matter which has only to be taken in hand by Her Majesty’s Consul at Canton, supported, if necessary, by the British Minister at Peking, and[Pg 169] firmly but courteously pressed upon the Viceroy of the two Kwangs, who cannot but acknowledge the gross injustice and cruel wrong inflicted on Hong Kong and its native merchants by those cruisers, and who has the power and only wants the will to let right be done.

In the course of these lectures I have spoken of some of the vices of the Chinese, and of our own also. The people of England have, however, many virtues, the growth of centuries; one of these is a broad and liberal charity, that pours forth a continuous stream of benevolence over the whole world. It is a virtue that pervades all classes, from our honoured Queen to the humblest of her subjects. It is not without a swelling heart that one can walk through the streets of London and see the noble charitable institutions surrounding him upon all sides, such as hospitals, convalescent institutions, homes for aged and infirm people, educational institutes, and such like, supported by voluntary contributions—living evidences of the charity and benevolence of our people in the past and present. Yet these splendid monuments but faintly testify to the flow of munificence perpetually running its course around us. Observe how liberally the public respond to the appeals made to it almost daily. Look at the case of the persecution of the Jews in Russia, the famine in the North of China, the distress and troubles in Ireland. Then, again, there is the charity “that lets not the left hand know what the right hand doeth,” of which the world sees nothing, but which is known to go on unceasingly, and which probably is the most liberal of all. The history of the world, so far as I am aware, does not record a parallel to this in any other nation or people. With such an active and unceasing charity going on amongst us, we should take care that this beneficent stream is not diverted into worthless channels, for that would be a matter concerning the whole public.

Now, though I hold in respect all the officers and supporters of the Anti-Opium Society, who are actuated, I admit, by the best motives, and whose characters for benevolence and good faith I do not question, I cannot forbear from repeating that their crusade against the Indo-China opium trade is as unjustifiable as it is mischievous, and is well calculated to produce the results I have deprecated. It encourages the Chinese Government to make[Pg 170] untenable demands upon us, under false pretences, and it is an unwarranted interference with an industry, wholly unobjectionable on any but sentimental grounds, affording subsistence to millions of our fellow-subjects in India. It aims, also, at cutting off some eight or ten millions sterling from the revenue of that vast dependency, now expended in ameliorating the condition of its dense population. Furthermore, it offers to useful and legitimate legislation an opposition and obstruction of the worst kind, seeing that it obtrudes upon the Legislature its unfounded and exploded theories, to the displacement or delay of really useful measures.

I say that the Anti-Opium Society, in the course of its agitation for the abolition of this Indo-China opium trade, is vilifying its countrymen and blackening this country in the eyes of the whole world, so that the foreigner can convict us out of our own mouths, and jibe at us for hypocrisy and turpitude we are wholly innocent of, and for crimes we have never committed.[13] I say that the history of this Society presents nothing but a dreary record of energies wasted, talents misapplied, wealth uselessly squandered, charity perverted, and philanthropy run mad. The members of this Society never think, perhaps, of the mischief they have done and are doing. Here has our Government been trying for the past seven or eight years to agree upon a revised commercial treaty with the Government of China, and here also, side by side, is an irresponsible political body doing its utmost to cripple, paralyse, and defeat our Government in its efforts, taking up, in fact, a downright hostile attitude to the action of the Imperial and Indian Governments, by carrying on an unauthorized unofficial correspondence with Li Hung Chang, the Prime Minister, and the most influential public man in China, who is a master of the arts of diplomacy, and who is doing his utmost to get the better of us if he can in the matter of the Chefoo Convention. Here, I say, is this society putting forward Li’s audacious and misleading letter to its secretary, Mr. Storrs Turner, as an embodiment of truth and justice. Is this patriotic or[Pg 171] proper on the part of this Anti-Opium Society? Should that body, instead of setting itself up as a junto, with a quasi-official standing, having a monopoly of all the virtues, be allowed by the Government to carry on its mischievous organization any longer? I think not. I believe there is no other country in the world—not even America, where liberty has run to seed—where such an intermeddling, anti-national and mischievous confederacy would be permitted to exist. Instead of trying to thwart Her Majesty’s Government, as it is doing, it should be the duty of its members, of every Englishman interested in China, and, indeed, of the whole country, to strengthen as far as possible the hands of the Government in its endeavour to bring the pending negotiations for a commercial treaty with China to a successful close. Yet what are the present plans of this pragmatical body? In its latest publication, a compilation of the most fallacious and misleading matter, bearing a title meanly plagiarized from this book, it is announced that the following motion stands upon the Order Book of the House of Commons, and is intended to be moved in the Session for 1883, viz:—

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that in the event of negotiations taking place between the Governments of Her Majesty and China, having reference to the duties levied on opium under the Treaty of Tientsin, the Government of Her Majesty will be pleased to intimate to the Government of China that in any such revision of that treaty the Government of China will be met as that of an independent State, having the full right to arrange its own import duties as may be deemed expedient.

What a modest proposition! The Queen’s Ministers, it appears, cannot be trusted in their negotiations with the Government of China, and Her Majesty in consequence is to be asked to ignore her constitutional advisers, and personally inform the Chinese Minister that his Government shall be treated as an independent state, and so forth. In fact, this proposal is tantamount to a vote, pro tanto at least, of want of confidence in the Government, which, I have little doubt, would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of both sides of the House. I only hope it will be pressed to a division, as the result, I believe, will show to the country in an unmistakable manner, once and for all, the utter insignificance of the Anti-Opium confederacy as a political body,[Pg 172] the falsity and mischief of its teaching, and prove the knell of its existence. If motions like this were to be passed, it would be impossible to carry on Her Majesty’s Government. The matter is really too absurd to be seriously dealt with by Parliament, and I bring it before my readers more for the purpose of showing the downright folly, infatuation and fanaticism which characterize this Anti-Opium confederation than for any other purpose. To these political philanthropists and amateur statesmen I would recommend these lines, which seem to me to meet their case exactly:—

“No narrow bigot he, his reasoned view
Thy interest, England, ranks with thine, Peru;
War at our doors, he sees no danger nigh,
But heaves for all alike the impartial sigh;
A steady patron of the world alone,
The friend of every country—save his own.”

Of the missionaries themselves, beyond this opium craze that has unfortunately possessed them, I have nothing to say except to their credit. A more conscientious and deserving body of men this world has never produced; under hardships, troubles, and unspeakable difficulties, they have sped their way with courage and cheerfulness, undeterred by dangers, great privations and hardships which nothing but their strong faith and unflagging zeal in their sacred mission could have enabled them to surmount. Of their ultimate success I entertain, perhaps, as little doubt as they do themselves; but on this opium question the “zeal of their house hath eaten them up,” and they have unconsciously been playing the game of the crafty heathen. Let them pursue their good cause, and not allow themselves to be cajoled by their bitterest enemies; above all, let them keep clear of politics. No clergyman ever improves by intermeddling in such matters, but, on the contrary, by doing so he invariably becomes a bad politician and a worse priest. Let these vast sums, subscribed for the promotion of a chimera, be transferred to the missionaries’ fund, so as to improve the lot of these missionaries and give them a little more comfort in the hostile climate and the bitter fight that is before them. “The labourer is worthy of his hire,” and it is starving the missionary work not to pay its servants liberally, I should say most liberally. With respect to the Rev. Mr. Storrs Turner, whose name I have so often mentioned, and whose writings I have so frequently[Pg 173] animadverted upon, I had the pleasure of knowing him in China. No worthier or better gentleman, and no more able and zealous missionary clergyman ever set foot there. In referring to him and his writings as I have done, nothing was further from my thoughts than to impute to him for a moment an unworthy motive. He is in the first rank of the missionary clergymen who stood the brunt of the battle, and is deserving of praise and honour. As yet the missionaries have been like husbandmen tilling an unkindly soil, trying to produce wholesome fruit where only gross weeds grew before; and although small apparently has been the fruit as yet, the unfriendly soil has shown signs of yielding, and I feel assured that the day will come when their labours shall be rewarded with a plenteous harvest.

I have now told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on the opium question; certainly such has been my intention. In doing so I am afraid I may have given pain to many good and excellent people; I know that I have given pain to myself. I can only repeat that I have never intended to impute a wrongful or unworthy motive to any of them. Those who are and have been engaged in the Anti-Opium agitation are, I admit, influenced by the best motives. I have myself throughout been solely actuated by a desire to remove the unfounded delusions that have got possession of these worthy people, which have done great injustice to our fellow-countrymen in China, as well as to the benevolent British public, which has kept this Anti-Opium Society provided with the funds that have enabled them to carry on their operations, to the embarrassment of the administration of our great Indian Entire. Personally, I say again, that I have no interest whatever in the matter, nor have I any leaning towards the interests of any of the merchants now engaged in the opium trade. My hands in this matter are absolutely clean. In the preface to the first edition of these lectures I have explained how and why I came to deliver them; that is my explanation without any mental reservation whatsoever. I have, I admit, a very strong feeling upon the subject, but so also have those who differ from me; and I would ask those most excellent and honourable people to remember that there are two sides to most questions,—to imagine, if they can, that there are other persons, totally opposed to their views, who are quite as honest in their[Pg 174] convictions as they are themselves,—to look upon me as one of those persons, and to measure my feelings by the strength of their own. I say this because I have heard that a rumour to the effect of my being in some way personally interested in the Indo-China opium trade has been circulated. If such is the case, this rumour has no foundation in fact. I cannot prevent the dissemination of such reports; but they are, I repeat, utterly groundless. Honest in my purpose, I can afford to treat them with unconcern, and can justly add, whilst far from setting myself up as better than my neighbours, that—

“I am arm’d so strong in honesty,
That they pass me by as the idle wind,
Which I respect not.”



[Pg 175]


[Pg 176]


[Pg 177]


Being an Official Letter from the Hon. Francis Bulkeley Johnson, of the firm of Jardine, Matheson, & Co., Chairman of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce, to Charles Magniac, Esq., M.P., President of the London Chamber of Commerce.


Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce,
Hong Kong, 22nd November, 1882.

Sir,—The attention of the Committee of this Chamber has been called to certain statements recently made in the United Kingdom regarding this Colony, on what must unfortunately appear to the public mind to be competent authority, but which are nevertheless unwarranted and misleading.

The statements referred to are, in the opinion of the Committee, calculated not only to affect injuriously the reputation of the Colony, but to damage its interests by prejudicing the policy of the Home Government and the Imperial Parliament, when dealing with the settlement of questions arising out of the close political and commercial relations which the Island of Hong Kong from its juxta-position must necessarily hold with the Empire of China.

The Committee offers no apology for addressing you on this subject as it ventures to believe that the promotion of British Commercial enterprise abroad in all legitimate channels is one of the objects the London Chamber of Commerce has in view, and, to that end, it is clearly desirable that a true appreciation should prevail, not only among the members of your influential Committee, but throughout the United Kingdom, as to the position and character of British trade and traders in the Colonies and foreign countries.

In the course of an address on the Repression of Crime delivered at the Social Science Congress, recently held in Nottingham, Sir John Pope Hennessy, Governor of this Colony, now on leave of absence in England, is reported to have said—I quote from the Nottingham and Midland Counties Daily Express, of the 22nd September:—“In the little Colony under my government one million sterling changes hands every month in the article of opium. But, with commercial activity and profits, there comes an increase of crime from opium, from its consumption, and from[Pg 178] its smuggling. Hong Kong wages a chronic opium war on a small scale with China. A desperate class of men, the opium smugglers make the Colony the base of their operations—they purchase cannon and ammunition there, they fit out heavily armed junks and engage, within sight of the island, in naval battles with the revenue cruisers of the Emperor of China. Sometimes the Emperor’s revenue officers are killed, sometimes the smugglers. Not unfrequently wounded men of both sides are brought into the Colony. All this gives rise to a class of crimes difficult for the Governor to repress, difficult on account of the influence of those who profit by it, whether they are local traders or the financiers of a Viceroy.”

The picture thus sensationally drawn is one which, from its great exaggerations, gives an untrue representation of the state of things prevailing in these waters, and cannot fail to lead to the formation of wholly incorrect inferences as to the relations existing between the population of this island, for the most part law-abiding and pursuing honest and industrious callings, and the authorities of the neighbouring mainland.

Sir John Hennessy states that opium, to the extent of a million sterling, changes hands in this Colony every month, and this assertion as to the magnitude of the trade was obviously made in order to show the vast and wide-spread interests involved in it, and the influential protection therefore likely to be afforded to a traffic which the general tenour of the remarks just quoted cannot fail to lead ordinary readers to suppose is to a very large extent, if not mainly, contraband.

Your Committee will be able to judge from the following facts how far the injurious imputation, thus plausibly insinuated, if not directly stated, is to be justified by the actual position of affairs.

The import of opium from India and Persia to Hong Kong and the whole of China, for the year 1881 was—

Of Malwa, from Bombay   35,729 chests.
Bengal, from Calcutta   44,124 "
From Persia   6,763 "
Total   86,616 chests.

of an approximate value of £10,000,000 sterling.

With some slight and unimportant exceptions the whole of this opium, the trade in which it is worthy of note is now practically monopolized by British Indian firms, passes through this harbour, but by far the larger proportion of it can only be classed under the head of Hong Kong trade in the sense in which the traffic through the Suez Canal can be considered as Egyptian trade. About one half of the quantity of opium I have named as the entire import, is immediately sent on either in the original foreign vessels conveying it here, or by other vessels, also foreign, to Shanghai, where it is entered regularly at the Custom House under official foreign superintendence.

Of the remainder, about one half, that is to say, one quarter of the whole, is shipped by foreign vessels to other treaty ports open to foreign trade, where it is duly entered at the Customs. The local trade proper of the Colony, whether for shipment to Macao or Canton by foreign and native vessels, or in native bottoms, to non-treaty ports,—i.e. to ports and[Pg 179] places with which foreign vessels cannot trade,—for consumption on the island, and for re-export in a prepared state to California and Australia, or for smuggling purposes, embraces therefore about one fourth of the entire export to China from India and Persia, or say, in quantity about 21,000 chests of an approximate value of £2,500,000, or about £200,000 per month instead of £1,000,000 per month as asserted by Governor Hennessy.

There being no Custom House at this port, it is impossible to obtain thoroughly accurate statistics as to the disposition of the 21,000 chests of opium which form the local trade of the Colony. As regards the local consumption and export in a prepared state, it may be estimated that from 2,500 to 5,000 chests are boiled in the Colony every year, leaving a balance of 16,000 to 18,500 chests to be accounted for. To suppose that this quantity is taken into China by smugglers would be to disregard all the known conditions of the trade and the fact that the preventive service of the Chinese Empire is probably in point of espionage the most carefully organized one in the world. On every road, in every village bordering on a river or waterway, at every port, village, and fishing station along the coast, there is a watchful Customs Station rendering it very difficult for a boat of the smallest size to touch the shore without being overhauled and made to pay levies purporting to be imperial or local dues. To what extent such dues are honestly levied and declared, there is no means of ascertaining. The Customs Stations are believed to be farmed out by the provincial authorities to officials who pay for their appointments, and although a service thus organized would be considered as a demoralized one and its system unreservedly condemned according to Western ideas, it is probable that the receipts of perquisites, and the partial remission of duties by Customs officials who farm the revenue, is a quasi recognized practice acquiesced in by all classes throughout the Empire.

With this system, however, the Colony and merchants of Hong Kong have no concern, and for its results they are in no way responsible. As the vast majority of the junks which leave the mainland with produce or arrive there with imports, undoubtedly obtain from the local Custom Houses port clearances and bills of entry, the large trade, whether in opium or other goods, carried on between this port and places on the coast in native bottoms, being thus subjected to the ordinary fiscal dues levied on the China coast according to the practice of the Empire, is for the most part a strictly legal one.

Smuggling between this island and the mainland in goods other than opium scarcely exists, as an evasion of the low ad valorem duty of five per cent. which is payable on entry at the treaty ports, and is probably the maximum similarly leviable at other ports, would not compensate for the heavy charges which must be incurred by transit over unusual routes even if the ubiquitous Customs officials could be avoided. Opium, owing to its portable character, the facility with which it can be hidden beneath water without serious deterioration, and the high duty imposed upon it, is more readily and profitably smuggled, but the returns which have been received through the Native Custom House at Canton make it nearly certain that the quantity which evades the payment of duty, either at the treaty ports or the ports and places not open to foreign trade, is not greater than 2,000 to 3,000 chests per annum. (See Parliamentary [Pg 180]Papers—China No. 2, 1880.) And the quantity thus estimated to be smuggled is not conveyed, as alleged by Governor Hennessy, in junks heavily armed for the purpose, fighting their way to the mainland through the revenue cruisers, but is concealed, a few balls at a time, about the persons, and in the luggage of Chinese passengers by the steamers plying between this port and Canton, and other places on the coast, or in ordinary trading junks and fishing boats of unpretentious character, or fast pulling boats propelled by a number of rowers, or by various devices such as are practised by the persons who evade the duties on tobacco in the United Kingdom. That the revenue cruisers which surround this island keep up an effective blockade which prevents the smuggling of opium on a much larger scale than at present takes place, is probably true, and it is also true that Chinese junks and boats in the estuary of the Canton river, which do not promptly submit to be overhauled by the cruisers, are chased and brought to for examination, if necessary, by being fired upon. The propinquity, however, of this island to the mainland, so far from being a cause of injury to the Chinese Customs Revenue, operates most advantageously for the collection of fiscal levies upon the foreign trade of the southern coast of the Empire. Were the island situated at a greater distance from the mainland than it is, or did not exist in its present conditions as a free port under a foreign government, the difficulties which would be placed in the way of the Chinese authorities, when engaged in checking smuggling in opium, would be much greater than they now are. Opium in that case would probably be shipped in native vessels from more distant depôts, such as Singapore, Saigon or the French mediatized territory of Tonquin, to Chinese ports and places, and it would be impossible for the revenue cruisers to watch the entire line of their own coast as effectively as they are now able to blockade this island in which the trade is centred and controlled.

There is, therefore, no ground for Governor Hennessy’s statement that this Colony is engaged in chronic war with the neighbouring mainland, or for his implied imputation that the course of its trade is injurious to the Chinese fiscal revenue. On the contrary, the facts of the case show that the physical conditions of the island of Hong Kong not only afford the ready means by which the Chinese Government is enabled to protect its legitimate revenue, but also unfortunately place it in the power of the authorities of the province of Quangtung to surcharge the trade in foreign goods, carried on in native vessels between Hong Kong and the southern ports of China, with additional taxation in excess of that authorized by the foreign treaties.

With the view to make a representation to H.M. Government in support of which it may hereafter be necessary to invite the good offices of your Committee, this Chamber is now engaged in an investigation into the facts, so far as they can be ascertained, relating to this alleged surcharge of duties upon the Colonial trade for the collection of which, as well as for the prevention of an illicit traffic in opium, there is reason to believe the blockade of this island by Chinese revenue cruisers is maintained.

So much as regards the general conditions of the trade of the Colony which evidence the grave misrepresentations contained in the Nottingham address, but in order to show conclusively, by official returns on matters of fact, the groundlessness of the specific accusation made by Sir John Pope Hennessy, your attention is invited to the annexed copies of[Pg 181] correspondence, with its enclosures, between the Colonial Government and the Committee of this Chamber.

In response to the request of the Committee, the Acting Colonial Secretary under the direction of His Excellency the Administrator has furnished the Chamber with the following documents, viz.:—

1. Extracts from a Report by the Colonial Treasurer and Registrar General upon the Opium Trade of the Colony.

2. Return from the Harbour Master, showing the character of the native vessels engaged in Opium Smuggling and the number of cases of alleged smuggling brought before the Marine Court since April 1877.

3. Return from the Captain Superintendent of Police, showing the total number of attacks and seizures made by Customs Revenue Cruisers in the neighbourhood of the Colony and reported to the Police since 1st January 1877.

The Colonial Treasurer’s Report on the Opium Trade for 1876, confirms the figures of the approximate estimate made by this Chamber from independent sources and given above, as to the probable quantity of opium smuggled into China from this Colony.

The Harbour Master’s Return shows that there is no special class of vessels fitted out in the Colony and heavily armed for the purpose of opium smuggling, as alleged by Governor Hennessy, and in the five cases cited in the report which comprise the whole number brought before the Marine Court in the course of five years, it will be seen that the quantity of opium found in the vessels charged with being engaged in illicit trade was so inconsiderable, as to make it obvious that the concealment of opium took place in each case in an ordinary trading junk. It is also clear from this Return that nothing is known in the Harbour Master’s Department of the armed organization for the purpose of opium smuggling which is stated by Governor Hennessy to carry on a chronic war with the Empire of China.

The return from the Captain Superintendent of Police dealing with the entire number of cases reported to the police authorities during the years 1878 to 1882 (inclusive) of seizures by Chinese Revenue cruisers and affrays between the cruisers and native vessels on the neighbouring China coast, is instructive.

The number of cases is 23, but of these only 6 are reported to be connected with the opium trade and the value of the opium seized varies from $3 in one case to the maximum amount in another of $800, showing, in confirmation of the Report by the Harbour Master to a similar effect, the comparatively unimportant character of the opium smuggling which prevails in these waters, and the absurdity of the allegation that there is a large contraband trade conducted in heavily armed junks fitted for the purpose in this harbour.

The remaining 17 cases of seizures by revenue cruisers during five years do not appear by the returns to have been connected with opium; 7 of them were salt junks, 1 sulphur and saltpetre, 3 general cargo, and 2 sugar. In 4 cases the particulars of cargoes are not stated.

The return shows the number of casualties with fatal results reported to the police as having occurred in affrays between native vessels and the revenue cruisers during the period of five years under review. Such casualties have been 8 in number, but not one of them appears to have[Pg 182] had any connection with opium smuggling, or to have arisen out of any case of contraband trading with which this Colony was concerned.

In August 1878, a fisherman on the Hong Kong shore was accidentally killed by a shot fired by a revenue cruiser when pursuing a junk ultimately seized for some breach of Chinese regulations with general cargo on board.

In May 1879, three men of a revenue cruiser were killed in an affray with a junk carrying salt. As salt is not produced or prepared in this island, this affray was not generated in the Colony or within Colonial waters. The preparation of salt in China is conducted as a very strict monopoly by means of Government licenses, and trade in it other than by duly authorized persons is contraband. Serious affrays between salt smugglers and revenue officers are well known to be common throughout the Empire, they are frequently alluded to in the Peking Gazette, and in the case referred to in the Police Report, the junk must have been passing from one part of the territory of China to another part outside of British waters.

On 28th November 1881, a man was killed in a boat which was conveying two gentlemen of this Colony who were returning from a shooting expedition on the mainland. Passing by a Customs Station on the Chinese side of the channel the boat was ordered to heave to; not doing so promptly, musket shots were fired at it and one of the crew was most unfortunately killed. In this case there appears to have been no smuggling attempted.

In April this year a man was killed on board a rowing boat in the narrow channel separating Hong Kong from the mainland, and in June last two men were killed outside British waters in a trading junk carrying sulphur and saltpetre, which are contraband articles of trade in China. In neither case does it appear that opium was concerned.

With reference, therefore, to Sir John Pope Hennessy’s allegations, which were to the following effect:—

a.—That this island is the base of operations for a class of desperate men who carry on a large contraband trade in opium with China;

b.—That for the purpose of carrying on that trade, junks heavily armed with cannon are fitted out here and wage a chronic war with the neighbouring Empire;

c.—That these junks engage, within sight of the island, in naval battles with the Chinese Revenue cruisers resulting in large loss of life on both sides;

The facts are:—

a.—There is no large contraband trade in opium carried on between this Colony and the China coast. On the contrary, the opium smuggled, considering the extent of the trade, is inconsiderable, and for the most part is carried into China in small quantities, portable and easily concealed, just as parcels of tobacco are smuggled into the United Kingdom.

b.—That within the knowledge of the Harbour Master and the Colonial police authorities no armed junks have been fitted out in this harbour during the last five years for the purpose of opium smuggling. Smuggling of opium, when attempted at all otherwise than by passengers in the various steamers trading to the coast of China, is carried on in ordinary trading junks or in rowing boats dependent for success in their illicit trade upon their swiftness and small size.

[Pg 183]

c.—No such contests as those referred to in allegation c have taken place within the last five years, and no loss of life in connection with opium smuggling during the same period has come under the notice of the police. Any serious affrays attended with loss of life which have occurred in the neighbourhood of this Colony between native vessels and revenue cruisers, have been in connection with contraband traffic in other articles on the adjacent China coast with which, so far as is known, this Colony has had no concern. The only instance reported by the police in which revenue officers have been injured, was the case of the salt junk referred to above and shown to be a purely Chinese affair.

It may be added that on goods other than opium there is very little, if any, illicit trade carried on between the Colony and the mainland, and that no allegation has ever been made that foreigners are engaged directly or indirectly in smuggling of any kind.

In conclusion, the Committee cannot refrain from expressing regret that Sir John Pope Hennessy having had the fullest opportunities, as Governor of this island for five years, of obtaining accurate information with regard to occurrences taking place and the state of affairs prevailing here during his term of office, should have been led to make statements, unfounded in fact and misleading in the inferences they are calculated to raise, which could not fail to damage the character of the Colony, the legitimate interests of which it might justly have been expected he would have been most anxious to defend.

Copies of this letter will be sent through His Excellency the Administrator to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, and to the various Chambers of Commerce in the United Kingdom.—I am, Sir, your most obedient Servant,

(Signed) F. Bulkeley Johnson,

Charles Magniac, Esq., M.P.,
President of the London Chamber of
Commerce, London.






[1] “British Opium Policy, and its Results to India and China.”

[2] The loose control possessed by the Emperor over his officials was well described by one of the most trusted ministers of the great Emperor Keen Lung. He said to one of the Jesuit missionaries at Pekin, that “the Emperor himself cannot put a stop to the evils that exist in the service. To displace those officials who have misbehaved themselves, he may send others, but instead of removing the evil they generally commit greater exactions than their predecessors. The Emperor is assured that all is well, whilst affairs are at their worst and the people are oppressed.”

[3] “China: a History of the Laws, Manners, and Customs of the People.”

[4] “The Middle Kingdom.” A Survey of the Geography, Government, Education, Social Life, Arts, Religion, &c., of the Chinese Empire, and its Inhabitants.

[5] As a matter of fact the skull of a Chinaman is fully double the thickness of that of a European.

[6] “The River of Golden Sand; the Narrative of a Journey through China and Eastern Thibet to Burmah,” by Capt. William Gill, R.E.

[7] “The Principles and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence,” by Alfred Swaine Taylor, M.D., F.R.S.

[8] I have a distant recollection of a syllogism with which schoolboys once used to exercise the minds of their juniors, which ran, I think, thus:—

Epimenides said all Cretans were liars,
Epimenides himself was a Cretan,
Therefore Epimenides was a liar,—therefore he was not a liar.

[9] “L’Angleterre, la Chine, et l’Inde.” I am indebted for a transcript of the chapter in question to Mr. H. Henry Sultzberger, Merchant, of No. 10 Cannon Street, City, who has taken such an interest in the opium question that he had the chapter printed at his own expense; and also to M. d’Audlan, a teacher of modern languages, for a translation of it.

[10] “Annals of Chemical Medicine, including the Application of Chemistry to Physiology, Pathology, Therapeutics, Pharmacy, Toxicology and Hygiene.”

[11] In those days about £100 sterling.—W. H. B.

[12] The unfounded charge of smuggling by British merchants and foreigners in Hong Kong has been completely refuted by the Honourable Francis Bulkeley Johnson, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of the Colony, in a very able letter to Charles Magniac, Esq., M.P., the President of the London Chamber of Commerce. This letter, which reached me just before going to press, will be found set out in extenso by way of Appendix. It is full of valuable and interesting information on the Indo-China opium trade, and is well worthy of careful study.

[13] In a recent number of the Temps, England was flouted with playing a humanitarian, hypocritical part towards Tunis, whilst we oppressed the natives of China by forcing them to smoke opium, in order to augment the revenue of the Indian Government.