Project Canterbury



















I am sincerely grateful for the permission to dedicate to your Lordship the following humble but earnest appeal to the Clergy of the Church of England on the subject of the Indo-Chinese Opium Trade.

Your Lordship's position as the honoured Chairman of this year's Church Congress, before which the substance of the following paper was read, and as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade, seems to give a special fitness to such a Dedication.

But your name, my Lord, is of peculiar value in the present instance, as plainly indicating that this Anti-Opium agitation is not the mere offspring of (perhaps) prejudiced Missionary enthusiasm, but is felt to be a subject of practical Christian morality, attracting the inquiry and the sympathy of our foremost Christian Scholars and Divines.

I am, my Lord,

Your Lordship's most obliged and faithful servant,



15 Dec., 1881.


THE liberality, of a kind and revered friend, the Rev. John Venn of Hereford, has made possible the publication of a large edition of the following Essay, as an appeal to English Churchmen. The Nonconformist Churches are to a great extent awake and stirring in this question of the Opium Trade, and the Church of England must not be behind-hand in dealing with it.

It has been said, perhaps with some reason, that Englishmen are a little too apt to accuse themselves of national selfishness and injustice; to indulge in a self-denunciation, the very whisper of which from outsiders would be strongly resented. But there is a tendency surely, at least as strong, that leads Englishmen to wrap themselves in a mantle of supposed integrity, and to let conscience be lulled into oblivion of national crimes and international immoralities;--lulled, I mean, partly by success, partly by mere local distance, partly by the shifting of strictly national responsibility to the shoulders of individual statesmen or of particular Governments.

The object of the following Essay, is to lead Churchmen to study for themselves the subject [v/vi] of the Opium Trade. If this study leaves them satisfied that there is no grave moral wrong in the past history or present status of the Trade, then by all means let them discountenance this war of ours against a shadow! But if, on the other hand, it convinces them that grievous wrong-doing is involved in this traffic, then let them "agitate, agitate, agitate," till the wrong is redressed.

It is no small hindrance to a Christian Missionary, to have cast at him such a Chinese proverb as this: "You bring incense in one hand, a spear in the other;" which is, being interpreted, "You bring us the Bible in one hand, opium in the other."

The financial difficulty is referred to more than once in the following pages, and it is of course recognised as real and great. But surely, if moral wrong is admitted, we cannot accept pecuniary considerations as an apology. In Mr. Scott Holland's serious words, "It sounds to a religious ear a strange excuse for refusing an act of penitential reparation, that we shall lose something by it." "Better have unsullied poverty," says the Chinese proverbial philosophy, "than turbid wealth"!

Yes! let the time past suffice us to have made, not "friends," but enemies of a great pagan nation with this "mammon of unrighteousness"!

There must be something that calls for the Immediate and earnest attention of Churchmen, when the Archbishop of Canterbury could speak of the Trade in the words with which I will close my Preface: "I have, after very serious consideration, come to the conclusion that the time has arrived [vi/vii] when we ought most distinctly to state our opinion that the course at present pursued by the Government in relation to this matter, is one which ought to be abandoned at all costs."

November, 1881.

THREE points seem to be included within the bounds of my subject.

I. What is this Opium Traffic?

II. Has the Church any responsibility in the matter?

III. If so, what is the extent of that responsibility?

I. What is this Opium Traffic? I shall occupy the greater part of this paper in the consideration of this first point, because on a right understanding of this, the other two immediately depend. Of the Opium Trade, absolutely nothing is, I believe, known to many Churchmen; and to many more it is known only vaguely as a question which calls for an occasional outburst of righteous indignation. Those who have studied its history, and are acquainted with the arguments urged in its defence, can alone join intelligently in that attack which is now steadily gathering force in England.

The East Indian Opium Trade with China is out one hundred years old. Previous to the [9/10] year 1769, the trade was insignificant, and in the hands of the Portuguese. Instead of the 80,000 chests of the present day, about 200 only were imported into China; the Portuguese purchasing from the Danes in India, and the Danes in their turn from the English. In 1757, by the victory of Plassey, the sceptre of India was virtually transferred to England; and in 1765 the old monopolies held by the native rulers, passed, with the supreme power, into the hands of the conquerors. The Court of Directors of the East India Company took over three of these, saltpetre, salt, and opium, into their own hands. In 1775, Warren Hastings presented the opium monopoly to Mr. Stephen Sullivan, a son of the Chairman of the Company; wishing thus to secure support during the stormy days of his eventful life.

But the monopoly would not pay. Opium was unsaleable in Bengal. A market must be found somewhere; and two heavily-armed vessels, the Nonsuch and Patna, laden with opium, dropped down the Hooghly bound for Canton. The necessity for precaution was known to the Company's engineer; for already the Chinese had taken alarm, and had forbidden the importation of opium under very severe penalties; the opium, on seizure, was to be burnt; the vessel in which it came to port, confiscated; and the Chinese in whose possession it was found, put to death. The trade did not succeed at first; and for about twenty years, opium was introduced in small quantities under the name of foreign medicine. In 1797 the Chinese again formally prohibited importation.

[11] In 1821, when the East India Company more formally adopted and worked the monopoly as their own enterprise, the Court of Christian Directors expressed "their utter repugnance to the trade; and longed, they said, to abolish the consumption of the drug; yet, as the Chinese would have it," they continued deliberately to grow and prepare opium expressly for the Chinese market, and to ship it, though known to be contraband, under the English flag. The heathen Governor of Canton, meanwhile, made in his master's name, a solemn appeal to Portuguese, English, and Americans alike, to abandon this pernicious trade; assuring them that the gods would carry fair dealers in safety across the ocean; but that over smugglers the terrors of the royal law on earth, and the wrath of the infernal gods are suspended."

This smuggling went on for sixty years. Chinese hereditary exclusiveness, and their offensive arrogance to foreigners, added to numerous instances of magisterial connivance, emboldened the English merchants in the belief that the outcry against opium was not genuine.

But in 1834, the old Emperor Tao-kwang, himself a reclaimed opium-smoker, determined if possible to save his country. He first of all took the sense of the people through his high officials, Shall we legalize and tax the trade, or shall we annihilate it?

The reply was overwhelmingly in favour of the latter alternative; and the energetic Lin was sent to exterminate the plague. "Go," said the Emperor with tears, "see, inquire, and act."

By an illegal stretch of power, Lin seized and [11/12] utterly destroyed 20,283 chests of opium; and by his outrageous behaviour to Lord Napier, to Captain Eliot, and to the Canton residents, he brought on the war of 1.841. The Chinese were beaten; Hongkong was surrendered; five ports were opened for trade, and six millions indemnity were paid; but the Chinese Commissioners steadily refused to negotiate on any terms for the admission of opium.

England answered China's appeal, made at this time, to suppress the trade, by offering, in a manner the very reverse of generous, to issue a proclamation in the Queen's name, calling on all opium ships to leave Chinese waters on pain of confiscation, if the Chinese alone would enforce the penalty. How dared they do this, when beaten and humiliated by the war, the great cause of which was, as Sir Henry Pottinger himself declared, the Trade in Opium? But make the offer now, and the Chinese, with their strong and vigorous Customs service, might return a different answer.

Fourteen years, passed. Opium poured in through the five newly-opened ports. The Chinese Government were greatly irritated by the continued and unabashed smuggling. On Oct. 8th, 1856, the lorcha Arrow was illegally seized on suspicion. War followed; Canton was stormed; and the expedition, moving northwards, occupied Tien-tsin. A treaty was concluded on June 26th, 1858; and in the next year Sir Frederick Bruce, Lord Elgin's brother, on his way with a squadron to ratify the Treaty at Pekin, was repulsed at the Taku forts. The war was resumed. Pekin fell, and the Convention of Pekin was added to the [12/13] Treaty of Tien-tsin, and both were signed at Pekin, Oct. 24th, 1860. Mr. Lay and Mr. Oliphant, who were personally engaged in the conclusion of the treaty, assure us that the Chinese Commissioners themselves suggested the legalization of opium, which was therefore introduced into the new tariff rules by Articles xxvi. and xxviii. I can well believe it. Tired and alarmed by England's long and discreditable conflict with the moral objection of Chinese rulers and people, they were afraid to leave this bone of contention unremoved. But in Li-Hung-Chang's words, written in the present year, "The war must be considered China's standing protest against the legalization of such a source of revenue." And since that period, in 1869, at the time of the negotiation of a commercial convention by Sir Rutherford Alcock, and again in 1877, by the Che-foo Convention, and more recently in the new treaty with America, the Chinese authorities have given sufficient evidence of their desire to restrict, and, if possible, to suppress the trade. [See Appendix, Note A.] I sum up this brief historical sketch in the words of the Emperor Tao-kwang. The trade in opium and the use of opium have caused the vice and misery of my people;" and Christian England is, in the eyes, not of the Chinese only, but of the world, the chief offender in this calamitous business.

Now, is it conceivable that for a hundred years and more a Christian country should have been engaged in such a traffic; not as a private enterprise, observe, for which the nation could not be held [13/14] responsible, but as a Governmental and therefore a national undertaking?

Is there no defence to be set up for the Opium Trade? I proceed to enumerate in a brief review the points in the defence, and believe the consideration will but increase the persuasion that the force of the attack is irresistible.

(i.) I take the first three arguments together. We are told that the trade in Opium is simply a commonplace instance of demand and supply and in corroboration of this view we are assured that opium-smoking in China is an ancient vice, and that England is not directly responsible for the creation of a bad habit. The Shanghai correspondent of The Times writes that two of H. M. consular agents in Western China believe that opium-smoking is many centuries old; that they state that it is as common and almost as reputable in those regions as tobacco smoking; and moreover, that it is not injurious when taken in moderation. In reply to these statements, observe that the first shipments of opium to China were a failure. Exactly one hundred years ago the cargo was sold at a loss, and actually transhipped to the Archipelago by the Chinese purchaser. The taste for opium has been created in other places, notably in Aracan, and the demand thus originated by Bengal opium agents through the means of free distribution for a while; and we may conclude from this at least thus much, that a pre-existent market and an established taste were not necessities in order to account for the experiment of Warren Hastings.

[15] Further, if this be an ancient custom, it is very strange that Marco Polo, in his minute and elaborate and for the most part trustworthy description of Chinese habits and productions 600 years ago, should make no allusion to opium-smoking and the poppy plant. The Roman Catholic missionaries, in their writings, from 1580 down to the end of the last century, do not refer to opium-smoking. All along the eastern coast of China, 100 years ago, it was a new and a partial vice.

In the at city of Hang-chow, four days' journey inland, as my Chinese teacher, a native of the place, informs me, you could scarcely find a single opium den sixty years ago; and now the city is full of them. During the past twenty years I have myself observed the great extension of poppy cultivation in the Cheh-kiang province, and also the alarming symptom of an increasing number of opium-smoking women applying for treatment at our opium hospitals. And to travel farther westwards, Father Deschamps, who had resided for more than thirty year in Sze-chuen, told Mr. T. T. Cooper that he had seen the growth of the poppy introduced into that great province.

A missionary of the China Inland fission, travelling last year in Yunnan, where poppy cultivation and opium-smoking especially abound, was informed by the old men with whom he conversed, that opium had been introduced only thirty years ago, that they considered it a terrible curse, and that they believed it had come from foreign countries--(from whence undoubtedly it did come, either in ancient or modern times; overland from India [15/16] in Mongol days, in the reign of Tae-tsoo, of the Yuen dynasty, A.D. 1280-1295, as a Chinese geography, by Son, formerly Lieut.-Governor of the Fuh-kien province, seems to imply; or by sea in these later days to the eastern sea-board, and thence penetrating westwards). With this agrees the opinion given by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wen-seang, in conversation with Sir R. Alcock, to the effect that "inseparable and continuous injury was inflicted upon the whole empire by the foreign importation of opium," "impoverishing and demoralizing and brutalizing the people; a deadly poison, most injurious to mankind." Mr. Hart's testimony also to Chinese feeling on this subject is of the very first importance. As Commissioner-General of the Imperial Maritime Customs in China, Mr. Hart issued a pamphlet on "Opium" in July of the present year. He proves, as he believes to demonstration, (1) that opium provides the Chinese Government with a large revenue, and (2) that this is brought about by a luxury which affects an "infinitesimally small percentage of the population." And yet (to quote his concluding words) even "the Chinese who have studied the subject," and "admit all this, do not find any sufficient reason for welcoming the growth of the trade, or for desisting from the attempt to check the consumption of opium." [Cf. Friend of China, Oct., 1881, p. 894.] It is a significant historical fact also, that the Tai-ping rebels, whose desire it was to re-establish the Chinese dynasty, and so to give expression to a popular idea, set themselves resolutely against opium, and the British Government have recently acknowledged the force of the outcry raised against the plague of opium-smoking in British Burmah by closing two-thirds of the opium shops. [Cf. "The Opium Question," pp. 46, 47.] A writer in the Times, commenting on the evidence furnished by H. M. Consular agents, makes these two damaging admissions: 3. It is incontestable that opium enslaves, enfeebles, and must kill, all who take it to excess. 2. It is incontestable that opium impoverishes all except the well-to-do. But lay aside if you please this rebutting evidence, and accept as decisive and unimpeachable the evidence of H. M. Consuls. Observe the strange dilemma into which the evidence introduces the upholders of the trade who may rely upon it in their arguments.

(a) Opium-smoking is acknowledged to be most injurious in British Burmah; to quote Lord Hartington's words, it is "an almost unmitigated misfortune." [Debate on the Opium Trade, p. 29.] (b) But it is said to be comparatively innocuous in W. China. (c) We reply that, on the contrary, it is injurious in W. China. (d) We are met by the retort, that, even so, we are not responsible for this state of things, for Indian opium goes no higher up the Yang-tse than the neighbourhood of Han-kow; and all W. China opium is home-grown. (e) We rejoin, that this is a damaging admission; for if Indian opium only affects E. China, what has the state of W. China to do with the question of demand and supply, and of ancient custom throughout the whole of China? (f) And further, if British Burmah and Yunnan, separated by the comparatively narrow belt of the Shan states, differ so widely that opium is a curse [17/18] in the one and a harmless luxury in the other, who can deny that opium-smoking may be, as in fact it is, a great curse in E. China, where Indian opium is directly to blame, whatever it may be in far remote W. China, which it is said never to reach? [See Appendix, Note B.]

(I) But we are told that the trade in opium scarcely differs from the trade in spirits; and that the use of opium in China corresponds with the use of spirits in England. Without pausing to animadvert on the wider question of the doubtful morality involved in the Governmental taxation and regulation of vice, then reply to this defence is simple and direct. (a) There is a great difference between manufacture and taxation. The Indian Government do not merely tax heavily the native growth manufactured in the native states of Holkar and Scindia, they also hold in their own hands the monopoly of the growth and manufacture and sale in the crow lands of India. (b) The English Government have never interdicted; the trade in French brandy, and the French Government have never gone to war with England in order to compel the legalization of the trade; and Lord Hartington's retort, that England would never venture to forbid such a trade whilst sanctioning the manufacture of other spirits in England itself, is hardly fair, for at the time of the Opium wars, the cultivation of the poppy and the revenue from native opium were comparatively unknown in all E. China. Sir Thomas Wade, though quoted repeatedly, must once again bear witness: "It is to me vain to think otherwise of the use of the drug in China, than as a habit many [18/19] times more pernicious, nationally speaking, than the gin and whisky drinking which we deplore in England."

(iii.) We are told by Mr. Denzil Onslow,--and to my mind this argument is the stronghold of the defence,--that "we must not rule India by our rigid notions of Christian morality"; [Debate on Opium, p. 18.] and by Lord Hartington, that "the opium traffic provides a source of income which the whole of the people of India, if they were consulted, would be in favour of retaining." [Ibid., p. 24.] But this is a dangerous doctrine to propound. If admitted and pursued to its legitimate conclusion, it would, lead to the re-establishment of suttee and of immoral and murderous rites in open day; and it would bring to a sudden standstill all Christian Mission work in British India. Of course what Lord Hartington meant to imply was, that if the poor Indian ryots are to be taxed to supply the six or eight millions derived annually from the Opium Trade,--on the supposition of its abolition, they would prefer the present system. But they ought not to be so taxed. The people of India are not responsible for the trade. The people of England are to blame, and must bear the consequences. If taxation must supply the deficiency (and remember that it is not a perpetual "disheartening" drain of six or seven millions annually which is required; [See Times leading article, Oct. 22, 1881.] we want only to tide over the period of transition, and to give time for the development of the revenue from other sources, and for the restoration of 700,000 acres of the best [19/20] land in India to the growth of crops, if less remunerative,) certainly less poisonous. [But cf. "Indian Finance and Opium," p. 8, where sugar-cane is asserted to be a more profitable crop than the poppy.] Ten years' purchase would probably suffice--some sixty millions sterling, a sum which could be raised as easily in England now as the twenty millions to abolish the slave trade fifty years ago)--if such taxation must come, then the people of England must suffer, and not the poor of India. Indeed, the temporary aid required by India may prove less than one-half or even one-third of this sum; for there are possibilities of retrenchment in Indian expenditure which require only a compulsory motive to be made actual. And it may well be remembered, as a gleam of hope over the gloomy prospect, that should the use of opium in China be restricted and abolished, it would imply, (to quote figures probably far below the mark, however official,) two million purchasers with £25,000,000; or, taking the foreign drug alone, one million of purchasers with £16,800,000 set free for the import trade in English manufactures. [See Friend of China, Oct. 1881, p. 392.]

(iv.) We are told that others will take up the trade if we abandon it. Let them do so! China will know how to deal with them, if we give her liberty.

(v.) We are told that the Chinese are dishonest; [See on the whole subject, Appendix, Note B.] that they wish themselves to reap all the advantages of the trade; that they could check the inland transit of opium now, if they were so minded; and [20/21] moreover that the stoppage of the Indian trade would merely lead to the limitless extension of the home growth in China--a growth already of vast proportions, and beyond the reach of prohibition. But surely, we may reply, Lin was honest, however illegal, in 1839, when he utterly destroyed the 20,000 chests of opium, instead of secretly selling them. The great Chinese general Tso-Tsung-T'ang, whose victories have brought Russia and China face to face, has set himself resolutely against poppy cultivation in Shen-si and Kan-suh; and reports only this year on the consequent improvement in the state of the country. In 1879, the opium crop in Ho-nan and Shensi was reduced to a minimum by vigorously executed anti-opium decrees. [See Friend of China, Oct. 1881, p. 386.] Chinese fear of offending England by a prohibitory policy as to inland transit has been proved not to be groundless by the four years' delay in ratifying the Che-foo Convention.

(vi.) We are reminded, that if the Indian Government abandons (as is more than likely) the monopoly, yet that this step will merely throw the trade open for private enterprise; and that anything like prohibition of the growth of the poppy is out of the question in India. But surely the very principle of the monopoly implies this same impossible power of restriction and prohibition; and as a matter of history, the poppy has been uprooted before now from large tracts in North India by order of Government. [Cf. Parliamentary Papers on Opium, p. 66, and "The Opium Question," p. 77.] And further we may observe, that [21/22] if this objection be true, if the poppy will still he grown in India and opium still he wanted by the hint, then the British Government may abandon the monopoly without the financial panic alluded to above; and find after all that morality is "cheaper" than Lord Hartington seems to dread. [See Appendix Note B.] Prohibition in the native States is of course out of the question but even in this case the transit dues have been from time to time very largely increased, and perhaps have not yet reached their possible limit, a possibility which might be semi-prohibitory.

(vii.) One point more remains to be used by the defenders of the present system, "We are not responsible," say they, "for the mistakes and. the wrong-doing of our predecessors." Yet surely, if we deliberately continue the same policy, and have continually derived profit from the results brought about by the wars and treaties with China, are we not,--the people of England in the present day, impenitent and unyielding as to this Opium Traffic, as verily guilty to China as England was in 1775, in 1821, in 1841, or in 1860?

II. But does this mercantile question concern the Church? Yes, immediately and urgently. England and Christianity am united in Chinese thought, The Chinese assume that every foreigner is a Christian. And the acts of the British Government are supposed to be the expression of Christian morality. If the policy is condemned, Christianity is condemned. And does it not affect the Church of England, to be told by the most powerful man in [22/23] China, Li-Hung-Chang, writing in May of the present year, that England and China can never meet on common ground. China views this whole question from a moral standpoint; England, from a fiscal!" Is it nothing to be told by Chinese moralists, that "The hindrance presented by the Opium Trade to Christian Missionaries, renders their efforts fruitless"? Are we unmoved by the admission of Mr. Denzil Onslow, in his vigorous defence of this Trade, that "there may be some tinge of immorality in the Opium Traffic"? [Debate on the Opium Trade, p. 18.] A tinge of immorality! But the Church is to be holy and without blemish." And this "tinge of immorality," on England's fair fame, means a stain on the white robes of the Church itself.

III. What then is to be done, and what are the limits of our responsibility? We must act at once. It is the eleventh hour; but we may yet be in time. The Opium Trade was more valuable than ever last year, and reached the total net value of £8,468,000. It is still possible to retire willingly, and with honour. But we must act INSTANTLY. The Chinese Government is moving. They propose to increase the tax on foreign opium, and to legalize by taxation the native growth, a double policy which. may prove the ruin (1) of our Indian trade, (2) of all hope of curing China of opium-smoking, (3) of all hope of honourably purging Christian England from the long shame of a fight against the moral protests of a great heathen people.

(a.) Let the clergy therefore master this subject. Ill-informed denunciation and ignorant indignation [23/24] do no good. If on examination the Opium Trade be deemed morally defensible, then let it alone; but if it be pronounced morally wrong, then--

(b) Let the clergy bring the subject before their people and prepare them for self-sacrifice. The sneer "cheap morality" has been heard. We must be ready for dear morality, for righteous dealing at any price. And remember, that until the people have spoken, we cannot expect the Government of the Queen to act. The people of England are asleep because ignorant as to this Trade; and the Church will be distinctly responsible if this ignorance and silence continue.

(c) Be practical, and join the Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade. The Bishops of Durham, Ripon, Salisbury, Liverpool, and Mid-China are amongst its Vice Presidents; and such Churchmen as the Dean of Llandaff and Canon Liddon are on its General Council.

(d) Pray. The walls of Shanghai were placarded in 1.877 with a heathen exhortation to intercede before Heaven for the abolition of the opium plague. "During a former dynasty" said this document, "Heaven prohibited opium; during this dynasty it can be interdicted only by Heaven."

Until this shame be removed from the Christian name, the Church cannot be free either for advance into rebel heathen lands, or for the great fight with infidelity and immorality here at home. If, through God's mercy, it be, though late, removed, the time will be nearer when the Church shall go forth "fair as the moon; clear as the sun," "conquering and to conquer."


NOTE A. --A writer in the Times calls this stipulation in the Treaty with America, "a piece of hypocrisy"; because the Americans have no opium to sell, present or prospective.

But is not this an ignorant sneer? More than one hundred years ago the Portuguese, who were the opium agents for China, had no opium of their own. They purchased from the Danes; and the Danes from the English. It is surely conceivable that American merchants might purchase from the Parsees, as the Parsees purchase from the Government auctions at Calcutta; and that opium might thus reach Chinese ports under the American flag. It is this, I presume, which is prohibited, and that surely not without significance, by the new treaty.

NOTE B.--Sir Bartle Frere, in the course of his paper, read before the Newcastle Church Congress, after recapitulating in forcible words the charges of failure on England's part in the duties of international morality during the long history of this Opium Trade, urges as a first practical measure, that the Indian Government should withdraw as speedily as possible from all direct connection with the manufacture and sale of opium. He believes that by the abandonment of the monopoly and the assimilation of the practice in Eastern India with that now existing in Western and Central India, by raising revenue, that is, from excise and not from [25/26] direct sales, there would be little financial risk involved. This is a statement, of the first importance, coming as it does from the pen of an eminent Indian Governor and financier; because the financial panic is always kept in reserve as the conclusive argument by the upholders of the Trade.

Sir Bartle Frere proceeds to express his doubts as to the sincerity of the Chinese Government in their desire to put an entire stop to the consumption of opium in China. Be suggests the necessity of our Government "coming to a better understanding with the Chinese Government on the subject of its dealings with the opium question."

It is interesting to remember that similar suggestions and definite offers of this kind were made some forty years ago in the Chinese Emperor's name by Commissioner Liu. "We in this land will forbid the use of opium; and you" (addressing the Queen), "in the countries under your dominion, will forbid its manufacture."

An article in the Record newspaper, October 19, 1881, on the subject of the practical moral effect which would be produced by the abandonment of the opium monopoly, is well worth reading.

Sir Charles Trevelyan, whose name stands very high as an Indian authority, gives us in the Times of October 26, 1881, his "life's experience" on the subject of opium, compressed into the limits of a few sentences. Sir Charles believes the present opium policy of the Indian Government the best possible plan for the mutual good of China and India; raising, as it does, a large revenue for India on a carefully restricted quantity of opium sold to [26/27] China, and controlling effectually uggling and illicit manufacture. He appears to regard the abandonment of the monopoly as an unmixed evil.

Such an opinion cannot be despised or lightly set aside.

Cardinal Manning, at the Mansion House meeting, October 21, 1881, pleaded hard for the maintenance of the monopoly; Lord Shaftesbury, on the same occasion, strongly urging its abandonment. But the Cardinal and the Earl were entirely agreed n their ultimate object; and both of them join issue with Sir Charles.

Cardinal Manning would reserve the monopoly as it were in durance vile for extinction at an early date; and would not release the criminal, even as a ticket-of-leave man, for private enterprise u this noxious opium traffic.

Sir Charles is significantly silent as to the past history of the Opium Trade; deploring beyond doubt, as much as Lord Shaftesbury can do, the darker passages of its history; but arguing, perhaps, that we are not responsible for the past, and must deal only with present possibilities. But his sober and important arguments are seriously invalidated by the opinion with which he closes, to the effect that opium, as a luxury and a stimulant, is "one of God's gifts," and on the same footing as spirituous liquors, and (as I suppose Sir Charles would add) narcotics, such as tobacco. Sir Benjamin Brodie and the twenty-four eminent physicians who signed his "opinion," thought differently: "I cannot but regard those who promote the use of opium as an article of luxury, as inflicting a most serious injury [27/28] on the human race." ["The Opium Question," p. 52.] Neither is this opinion of Sir Charles Trevelyan's borne out by Chinese sentiment. "A Chinaman never touches his opium pipe without shame." These words of the Bishop of Victoria, though possibly capable of some modification, and subject to individual exceptions, represent the moral feeling and moral rule of the Chinese with far greater accuracy than does the theory of Sir Charles Trevelyan.

A very lengthy epistle appeared in the Times of Dec. 6th, signed G. Birdwood, M.D., late Professor of Materia Medica, and Curator of the Government Central Economic Museum, Bombay.

Dr. Birdwood was knighted by Her Majesty on Dec. 7th; and, from his position and experience, the opinion of Sir George must not be despised or ignored.

He argues in favour of the "downright innocency of opium-smoking;" and as a consequence he confidently absolves England of all moral blame in the matter of the opium trade. Without attempting to analyse his letter at length, I would point out

(1) That Sir George Birdwood has had, apparently, no experience whatever as to opium in China, but only in Western India.

(2) That his conclusions are diametrically opposed, not only to the opinions of such a man as Sir Benjamin Brodie (possibly better known to Englishmen even than Sir George Birdwood), but also to the well-nigh unanimous opinion of medical men in China, with experience at least as long and varied as that of Sir George himself.

[29] (3) That argument is never the better for violence; and that such expressions as "undiscriminating and manufactured agitation," "blind philanthropy," "ignorant prejudiced opposition," "crotchet-mongers," "ignorant if well-meaning agitators," with which his lengthy philippic abounds, detract seriously from the value of his opinions.

NOTE C.--Mr. Hart divides his estimated two-million opium smokers into two equal parties; one-half consuming the Indian drug, and one-half using native Chinese opium. This estimate hardly bears out Lord Hartington's supposition that Indian opium is the luxury of the rich alone. For opium is largely used by all classes and one million of rich smokers would imply six millions or more of the middle and poorer classes. Moreover, from official returns, it appears that Chinese opium is improving in quality and in price. In Shanghai, according to recent returns, native opium was worth 320 taels a picul; and Benares, 346. So that cheap Indian opium, though dearer than the best Chinese, would not be beyond the reach of all but the richer classes.

NOTE D. Another acknowledged authority on Indian finance has spoken since my Essay was written. Sir George Campbell, in a letter to the Times of Nov. 11th 1881; criticizes at very considerable length the speeches made at the Mansion House meeting. His conclusions seem to be as follows: (1) that there is no middle course to choose between the existing system of the Government monopoly, and absolute prohibition of the cultivation and [29/30] sale of opium. (2) Sir George thinks that the Indian revenue cannot possibly bear the strain which would follow from the loss of the profits from opium; that England would never be willing to supply the deficit, and that even were such an experiment possible, the prohibition of the trade would lead to genera smuggling, with the certain result of another Chinese war. (3) Sir George Campbell "believes as strongly as any one in the wickedness of the opium wars, and holds decidedly as any one that we are not justified in enforcing treaties for the admission of opium extorted by those wars."

I will not attempt an answer to this letter, since most of the points insisted upon by. Sir George will be found discussed in the body of the Essay. Neither will I attempt to criticize his financial figures, for must fairly confess that do not understand his calculations.

I will merely draw attention to two points; (1) Sir George protests that prohibition of poppy cultivation throughout British India is impossible. But he admits, that it is "absolutely prohibited in 95 per cent. of the British territories." There appears therefore to be no inherent impossibility in the enforcement of prohibition; and why the remaining 5 per cent. of ground should not be cleared of the poppy, must be accounted for on other grounds than the general principles of liberty and freedom. (2) The consensus of opinion as to the wrong done to China by the wars of 1840 and 1869 is very remarkable. Dr. Arnold, writing to a friend from Rugby in, March, 1840, speaks as follows, "I really do not remember in any history, a war [30/31] undertaken with such combined injustice and baseness. Ordinary wars of conquest are to me far less wicked, than to go to war in order to maintain smuggling, and that smuggling consisting in the introduction of a demoralizing drug, which the Government of China wishes to keep out."

These are strong words; and are capable of considerable modification when we take into consideration the hereditary exclusiveness and the arrogance of the Chinese. But Dr. Arnold's words are not stronger than Sir George Campbell's. And our contention lies here; if it be true, as even the advocates of the existing state of the Opium Trade admit, that the opium wars were "wicked," and that in the questions arising out of the Opium Traffic, we did grievous harm to China, then either one thing or the other must happen: we must either acknowledge our wrong; and make such reparation as is possible, by a reversal of policy and an abandonment of wrong; or else we must bear the penal consequences of persistent continuance in wrong-doing. Gain cannot in any degree condone for the sins of a Christian nation. And the very accumulation of arguments to prove the difficulty if not the absolute impossibility of abandoning the Opium Traffic, instead of clearing the air, and solving the perplexity, does but deepen the gloom which surrounds the subject, and adds immensely to the solemnity of the whole question.

NOTE E. The following letter was addressed to the Editor of the Times by Dr. Lockhart, well known as the author of "The Medical Missionary [31/32] in China."--With a Chinese experience of nearly thirty years' duration, his opinion is of the first importance. But the letter has not been inserted in the Times, and we therefore print it here in connection with the close of Note B.

"I cannot understand how Dr. Birdwood can say that the smoking of opium is a perfectly innocuous indulgence. This is so great a mistake that it cannot be too strongly protested against. Opium-smoking is extremely injurious, and in the large majority of cases is carried to a constantly increasing extent and consequent increasing injury on the physical condition of the smoker. Opium-smoking is not so great a social evil as spirit-drinking, but it is a very much greater personal evil to the individual himself. I do not think that opium entices people away from spirit-drinking; those who smoke opium are, in my experience, ever ready to use the spirit, more especially when they cannot get opium. I cannot believe that if Dr. Birdwood knew from long-continued personal experience of the effects of opium-smoking on the Chinese, and the frightful consequences thereby induced, he would write as he has expressed himself in his letter to the Times of 6th December."

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