Abbildungen der Seite

At the present time, the prohibitions of government being most strict against it, none dare openly to exchange goods for it; all secretly purchase it with money .. The annual waste of money somewhat exceeds ten millions of taels (tael=6s. 8d. sterling). ... Always in times past, a tael of pure silver exchanged for nearly about 1000 coined cash, but of late years the same sum has borne the value of 1200 or 1300 each ; thus the price of silver rises but does not fall. In the salt agency, the price of salt is paid in cash, while the duties are paid in silver : now the salt merchants have all become involved, and the existing state of the salt trade in every province is abject in the extreme. How is this occasioned, but by the unnoticed oozing out of pure silver (in exchange for opium)?

Is it proposed entirely to cut off the foreign trade, and thus to remove the root, to dam up the source of the evil ? The celestial dynasty would not, indeed, hesitate to relinquish the few millions of duties arising therefrom. But all the nations of the West have had a general market open to their ships for upwards of a thousand years, while the dealers in opium are the English alone; it would be wrong, for the sake of cutting off the English trade, to cut off that of all other nations.'

Besides, he argues it would be impossible by this means to prevent clandestine importation. He next describes the mode in which the trade is carried on.

• At Lintin there are constantly anchored seven or eight large ships, in which the opium is kept, and which are therefore called 'receiving ships.' At Canton there are brokers of the drug, who are called melters.' These

pay the price of the drug into the hands of the resident foreigners, who give them orders for the delivery of the opium from the receiving ships. There are carrying boats plying up and down the river, and these are vulgarly called “fast crabs and

scrambling dragons.' They are well armed with guns and other weapons, and are manned with some scores of desperadoes, who ply their oars as if they were wings to fly with. All the custom-houses and military posts which they pass are largely bribed. If they happen to encounter any of the armed cruising boats, they are so audacious as to resist, and slaughter and carnage ensue.

There are also, both on the rivers and at sea, banditti, who, with pretence of acting under the orders of government, and of being sent to search after and prevent the smuggling of opium, seek opportunities for plundering.'

The next memorial we shall notice is from Chou Tsin, member of the Council and of the Board of Rites, and is obviously intended as a reply to the foregoing. He exposes very forcibly, and with some satire, the fallacy of much of Heu Naetse's reasoning, and shows on high moral grounds the danger of relaxing the prohibitory system, the inefficacy of which he plainly



charges upon the negligence and notorious corruption of the officers appointed to carry it into effect. The extracts we give from these papers are such as elucidate our own argument, and by no means afford a complete idea of the intellectual powers of the several writers. Those who are interested in inquiring into Chinese civilization and statemanship must consult the documents at length in Mr. Thelwall's book.

• To sum up the matter,' says Chou Tsin, “the wide spreading and baneful influence of opium, when regarded simply as injurious to property, is of inferior importance; but when regarded as hurtful to the people, it demands most anxious consideration ; for in the people lies the very foundation of the empire. Property, it is true, is that on which the subsistence of the people depends. Yet a deficiency of it may be supplied, and an impoverished people improved ; whereas it is beyond the power of any artificial means to save a people enervated by luxury. In the history of Formosa we find the following passage :• Opium was first produced in Kaoutsinne, which by some is said to be the same as Kalapa (or Batavia). The natives of this place were at the first sprightly and active, and, being good soldiers, were always successful in battle. But the people called Hung-maou, (Red-haired.) came thither, and having manufactured opium, seduced some of the nalives into the habit of smoking it. From these the mania for it rapidly spread throughout the whole nation ; so that, in process of time, the natives became feeble and enervated, submitted to the foreign rule, and ultimately were completely subjugated. Now the ENGLISH ARE OF THE RACE OF FOREIGNERS CALLED HUNG-MAQU. IN INTRODUCING OPIUM INTO THIS COUNTRY, THEIR PURPOSE HAS BEEN TO WEAKEN ENFEEBLE THE CENTRAL EMPIRE. If not early aroused to a sense of our danger, we shall find ourselves ere long on the last step towards ruin.'-pp. 72, 73.


Chou Tsin is particularly happy in exposing the absurdity of Heu Naetse's proposal to permit the common people to smoke opium, while the practice is forbidden only to the military and civil officers and soldiers. We have not room for his plain and sound reasoning on this subject, but his facts are too important to be omitted.

The great majority of those who at present smoke opium are the relatives and dependants of the officers of government, whose example has extended the practice to the mercantile classes, and has gradually contaminated the inferior officers, the military, and the scholars. Those who do not smoke are the common people of the villages and hamlets.'

Alas ! how soon and how certainly will the example of the influential classes extend to these.

The memorialist shows also, that opium has already demoralized the army.

While the stream of importation of opium is not turned aside, it is impossible to attain any certainty that none within the camp do ever secretly inhale the drug. And, if the camp be once contaminated by it, the baneful influence will work its way, and the habit will be contracted beyond the power of reform. When the periodical times of desire for it come round, how can the victims (their legs tottering, their hands trembling, their eyes flowing with child-like tears) be able in any way to attend to their proper exercises ? Or, how can such men form strong and powerful legions ? Under these circumstances, the military will become alike unfit to advance to the fight, or in a retreat to defend their posts. Of this there is clear proof in the instance of the campaign against the Yaou rebels, in the 12th year of our Sovereign's reign (1832). In the army sent to Leënchor on that occasion, great numbers of the soldiers were opium-smokers ; so that, although their numerical force was large, there was hardly any strength to be found among them.'— pp. 76, 77.

• As to levying a duty on opium,' says Chou Tsin, the thing ‘sounds so awkwardly, and reads so unbeseemingly, that such a duty ought surely not to be levied.'

Heu Kew, another memorialist, goes over the same ground, and enters into a still more detailed account of the mode of

carrying on the traffic and the parties implicated in it, than the preceding writers. On the question of admitting opium under a duty he nobly says, “Having a clear conviction that the thing is “highly injurious to men,- to permit it notwithstanding, to pervade the empire—nay even to lay on it a duty—is conduct

quite incompatible with the yet uninjured dignity of the great • and illustrious Celestial Empire. With Chou Tsin, he proposes greater stringency and severity in carrying out the prohibitory system, commencing with the native dealers, and then

• The treatment of those within having been rendered severe, we may next turn to these resident foreigners, examine and apprehend them, and keep them in arrest, then acquaint them with the established regulations and compel them, within a limited period, to cause all the receiving ships anchored at Lintin to return to their country. They should be required also to write a letter to the King of their country, telling him that opium is poison which has pervaded the inner land, to the material injury of the people ; that the Celestial Empire has inflicted on all the traiterous natives who sold it, the severest penalties ; that with regard to themselves, the resident foreigners, the government, taking it into consideration that they are barbarians and aliens, forbears to pass sentence of death upon them ; but that, if the opium receiving ships will desist from coming to China, they shall be indulgently released, and permitted to continue their commercial intercourse as usual ; whereas, if they will again build receiving vessels, and bring them hither to entice the natives, the commercial intercourse granted them in teas, silk, &c., shall be assuredly altogether interdicted, and on the resident foreigners of the said nation the laws shall be executed capitally. If commands be issued of this plain and energetic character, in language strong, and in sense becoming, though their nalure be the most abject —that of a dog or a sheep, yet having a care for their own lives, they will not fail to seek the gain, and to flee the danger.'—pp. 87, 88.

We have quoted enough to show that the Chinese government are fully informed of the evils of the Opium Trade, of the means employed in carrying it on, and of the parties implicated in the daring and systematic violation of the laws of the Empire. The representations of the high officers of state, whose memorials we have last quoted, have produced their intended effect, and the Chinese have attempted the suppression of the trade with an energy and determination which compel our unqualified admiration. The late wholesale confiscations of opium, and breaking up of the haunts of the resident and highly respectable British smugglers, will, it is hoped, produce a salutary impression. We cannot bring ourselves to regret these events, notwithstanding the immense sacrifice of property involved, and that the honor of our country is deeply implicated. We have been dealt with according to our deserts. May it provoke us to repentance and a change of conduct! It is most humiliating to an Englishman and a Christian, to contrast the relative positions of his own and of the Chinese governments with regard to the Opium Trade. The latter have taken their stand from the first on moral principle and enlightened patriotism, the former have acted with equal consistency under the influence of mammon, utterly regardless of the dictates of religion and humanity. The emperors of China, says Mr. Medhurst, have wisely and patriotically determined ' from the very moment they spied the onward march of the *threatened evil

, to denounce and resist it, and instead of admitting it, on the payment of a duty, have, as rulers, resolutely refused to derive any profit from the vices of the people.'

We could name some Christian governments, which would do well to imitate this Heathen ruler. No one who considers these facts can wonder at the critical state of our relations with China, at the frequent interruptions of our trade, at the insults heaped on our countrymen and their official superintendent and protector, and at the increasing suspicion with which every movement of

the violent and crafty English' is watched. The Chinese are not insensible to the danger of a contest with England, but on this point they resolutely face danger. The question of danger is formally discussed by Heu Kew in his memorial to the emperor, and he concludes, that our possession of the right gives us such energy and strength, that those barbarians will not dare to slight and contemn our government. The pusillanimous Chinese are

ht, the British arm is powerless in so bad a cause, and we have no alternative but to endure their insults and the world's contempt in shame and silence, meditating not revenge but amendment.

The British Opium Trade is not only an intensely wicked traffic, but it is as impolitic as wicked. The following extracts from a letter published in the Canton Register, by a highly respectable firm, will show in the strongest light the blighting and destructive influence which the Opium Trade exercises on our legitimate commerce with China. The writers, (Oliphant and Co.,) faithful among the faithless, can bear their honorable testimony, We have not, never have had, and never will have, 'any participation in the growth, transportation, or sale of the drug. We believe these gentlemen are Americans.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE CANTON REGISTER, Dear Sir,- We long and deeply felt, that our interests as merchants, our liberty as residents, our sympathies as men, and our highest and purest hopes as Christian philanthropists, are crossed and violated, and frustrated by the opium trade.

Notwithstanding this conviction, we have been well content these many years, with simply abstaining from any participation in the traffic, and this negative position we should still prefer to preserve, did we not see reason to think with you, and with others around us, that the present is a favourable time to lay open the condition and lighten the evils of the trade.

* In fact, the steadily increasing pressure of the official measures aimed at the traffic in the drug, but falling on the whole commerce of the port, must soon compel us all, whether opium men or not, to a common consultation, what part of our old ground we must endeavour to preserve, and what we must give up ?

‘A short time ago, our ships, on their arrival in the waters of China, took their choice of the outside anchorages, but the opium trade came to centre there, and they are now suspected places to the government, and communication with them forbidden, and sometimes almost cut off.

On the arrival of ships at Whampo, we used to get permits to discharge immediately; but the drug found its way there too, and regulations have been revived, which cost us in demurrage 500 Sp. dlrs. or more per ship.

* We had, a while ago, a frequent and convenient intercourse with Macao, but the packet-boats became opium-boats, and consequently fell under ban, so that both the passage of the Bogue and the landing at Macao have become difficult and unsafe.

Through these and other lesser evils, the vista opens before us, upon Imperial censures, stoppage of trade, capital punishments, fc. Nor can any man among us say, that the opium-trade may not cost him yet his liberty, his fortune, or his life. The Imperial government, an unlimited and despotic authority, is in open collision with the foreign residents, and none can predict, with any claim to confidence, what the contest will yet involve, or where it will cease.

« ZurückWeiter »