Abbildungen der Seite

barren districts of the coast of Fokien, has never found a ready or remunerating market.”

The progress of time alone could show if greater success was to be expected, in the attempts to introduce European manufactures on the east coast, than had attended recent experiments. The late Dr. Morrison observed, as far back as 1823, that “the opening of any ports to the north (eastward) for the resort of European ships is not a likely occurrence while the present rulers of China reign. They will not even allow tea to be carried coastwise to the south, from the ports near to the places of growth, lest the traders should carry their cargoes to European ships or ports, and so deprive government of the revenue arising from the inland carriage ; but most of all lest a “traitorous intercourse' with Europeans should be opened, and the tea get into the possession of the English without passing through the Canton customhouse.” Down to the year 1840 the opium smuggling on the coast gradually increased, until its exclusion from Canton by Commissioner Lin drove the whole of it to the eastward. At that time it appeared to be carried on with great profit in armed ships, one of which was said to carry fourteen guns; and conflicts occasionally took place in which lives were lost. With all this, however, European manufactures were as unsaleable as ever!

In the experimental voyage of the “ Amherst’ we have before* seen that, after a cruise of six or seven months along the whole coast, even to the neighbourhood of Peking, nearly the entire quantity of the few articles shipped were brought back as they went. Experiments were soon afterwards made by private individuals in imitation of the Company. A small vessel sold some opium in 1832, and proceeded as far as a port in Fokien.

Vol. i. p. 107.

The supercargo in vain sought some channel of trade; his views were frustrated by the vigilance of the government. He observed, on his return, through the local newspaper of Canton, “ My mind is made up that, until some important change in the relations of the two countries takes place, the only chance of pushing English manufactures on that coast is by having them as a small item in an opium cargo.” Another small vessel proceeded up to the Yellow Sea, and even touched on the coast of Tartary, but her endeavours to trade were generally fruitless. A Mr. Gordon, who was despatched from Bengal to procure tea-plants from the neighbourhood of the provinces where they are, cultivated, saw a great deal of the attempts to trade on the coast ; and he was of opinion that, without the consent of the Chinese government, any prospect of an advantageous or creditable intercourse did not exist. · The engrossing taste of all ranks and degrees in China for opium, a drug whose importation has exceeded the aggregate value of every other English import combined, deserves some particular notice, especially in connexion with the revenues of British India, of which it forms an important item. The use of this powerful narcotic became as extensive as the increasing demand for it was rapid from the first. The contraband trade was originally at Macao ; but we have already seen that the Portuguese of that place, by their shortsighted rapacity, drove it to the island of Lintin, where the opium was kept stored in armed ships, and delivered to the Chinese smugglers by written orders from Canton, on the sales being concluded, and the money paid, at that place. From the following statement it will be seen that, while the quantity imported into China increased more than five-fold, the average price fell to about one-half :

Year. 1821 1825 1830 1832


...... 4,628, average price 1,325

.. .. .. 18,760

587 ...... 23,670


Total dollars ...... 6,132,100 .. .. .. . 6,955,983 .. .. .. 11,012,120 .. .. .. 15,338,160

This had at length the effect of drawing the serious attention of the Peking government to the growing evil, and it seems certain that the aggregate value of the importation, which in 1832 exceeded the enormous amount of 15,000,000 dollars, or between three and four millions sterling, afterwards diminished for some time. From the original MS. translation of a Chinese state. paper, the following abstract may be interesting. A late memorial to the emperor from one of the censors laid open the evil in all its deformity, and showed its prevalence among the officers of government:-“ I have learned,” says he,“ that those who smoke opium, and eventually become its victims, have a periodical longing for it, which can only be assuaged by the application of the drug at the regular time. If they cannot obtain it when that daily period arrives, their limbs become debilitated, a discharge of rheum takes place from the eyes and nose, and they are altogether unequal to any exertion; but, with a few whiffs, their spirits and strength are immediately restored in a surprising manner. Thus opium becomes, to opiumsmokers, their very life; and, when they are seized and brought before magistrates, they will sooner suffer a severe chastisement than inform against those who sell it.

“ The local officers sometimes receive bribes to connive at the practice, or they are induced in the same way to desist from a commenced prosecution. The greater number of traders who carry about Canton goods for sale smuggle opium with them ; and when the magistrates sieze opium-smokers, these declare they cannot identify the persons from whom they bought the drug. It is my

humble opinion that the injury done by opium is twice as great as that which results from gambling ; therefore the offence of smoking it should not be more lightly punished than the other. Now the law provides that gamblers shall declare where they obtained their gaming utensils, and unless they inform against the sellers they shall be considered as accomplices, and punished with a hundred blows and three years' transportation. Every convicted gambler must be punished, under any circumstances, with eighty blows, and, if he be an official person, his punishment shall be increased one degree. But the opiumsmoker, who will not inform against the seller, is simply pilloried and beaten for his own crime. I have therefore to propose the enactment, that all convicted opiumsmokers who declare that they do not know the names of the sellers shall be considered as accomplices with them ; and that, if the offenders be mandarins, or their dependents, they shall be punished one degree more severely. Thus may the severity of the law deter from the practice; the habitual smokers will not dare to persevere, and others will not venture to imitate their example.

“ It seems that opium is almost entirely imported from abroad: worthless subordinates in offices, and nefarious traders, first introduced the abuse ; young persons of family, wealthy citizens, and merchants adopted the custom ; until at last it reached the 'common people. I have learned on inquiry, from scholars and official persons, that opium-smokers exist in all the provinces, but the larger proportion of these are to be found in the government offices ; and that it would be a fallacy to suppose that there are not smokers among all ranks of civil and military officers below the station of provincial governors and their deputies. The magistrates of districts issue proclamations interdicting the clandestine

sale of opium, at the same time that their kindred, and clerks, and servants smoke it as before. Then the nefarious traders make a pretext of the interdict for raising the price. The police, influenced by the people in the

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

public offices, become the secret purchasers of opium, instead of labouring for its suppression ; and thus all interdicts and regulations become vain.” And they became so utterly vain as to end in the uncontrolled freedom of,

« ZurückWeiter »