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thousand chests are, every year, landed upon principal facts of the case in due perspective the coast of China, at a cost to the people of before the reader, we must go back a few many millions sterling, and at a profit to the steps, and trace the course of things from its Indian Government of not less than five origin in India; and show what is the relamillions. For many years past
tion of the opium trade to the interests of
the East India Company. "a fleet of fast-sailing vessels, or steamers, fitted The poppy, as we all know, flourishes out in the most complete manner, and fully armed, within a wide isothermal belt; it gives a is constantly traversing the eastern seas, laden flaunty gaiety to our cottage gardens; and with this drug, each vessel carrying seven, or in the painter's eye, it relieves, in a happy eight thousand chests : while large receiving ships, moored at various points along the coast of manner, the monochrome of the ripening China, constitute so many floating warehouses, to wheat-field. In every land, almost, it draws which the Chinese smugglers have recourse, openly the eye to itself, and speaks its power to and constantly, and in defiance of the Government assuage pain : the milky exudation of the -its own officers conniving at the traffic.” seed-vessel, when the petals have just fallen,
comes into the hand of the pharmaceutical At a time within the memory of men now chemist as perhaps the most extensively living, the opium-pipe in China was the useful, and the most urgently needed, of all luxury of the opulent only; and the indul- the remedies he prepares, as the means of gence, well known to be of dangerous tend- alleviating sufferings. But this plant, alency, was kept within bounds, by all but a though it thus offers itself to the service few ; but in consequence of the endeavours of man, in almost every land, yet loves the made of late years to extend a trade which warmest climates; and, to be available in a has been found to be more lucrative than commercial sense, for the production of any other, the drug has been placed within opium, it is scarcely cultivated further north the reach of the middle and lower classes. than the fortieth, or thirty-fourth degree
of latitude, on this side the equator. It is “Smoking-shops have been opened, and the
grown, as an article of commerce, in Turkey, needful smoking appliances have been brought and on some fertile and well-watered plains within the means of the poorest, so as that at this of Asia Minor, and Persia ; but nowhere time, and for some years past, the less wealthy gentry, the official class, tradesmen, mechanics of with so much advantage as on the plains of all kinds, labourers, and women, have very gen- central India. It is there, and under a careerally become habitual opium-smokers. Although ful system of culture, that the poppy luxucalculations in cases of this sort can be little more riates, and that it yields its juice in the greatthan approximately correct, they are quite as est abundance, and of the best quality. It is likely to fall short of the truth, as to exceed it. It calculated that 100,000 acres of the richest has been assumed as a basis of such a calculation, lands watered by the Ganges, and in the that an habitual opium-smoker consumes about seventeen grains daily ; reckoning at this rate, plains of central India, are given to the 10,000 chests would supply one million of such poppy. smokers for a year; but of course a much larger A very laborious husbandry is required to number, if we include those who do, or who are render the lands devoted to this growth recompelled to allow themselves a smaller quantity munerative; constant weeding and irrigadaily. But lately 50,000 chests have been im- tion are needed. When the flower falls, and ported annually into China ; and this quantity, the unripe capsule is exposed, a knife, formed distributed according to a probable supposition, for the purpose, is used to make an oblique over those districts within which opium hitherto has been freely offered to the mass of the people, incision around it, from which exudes a will show that a larger per centage of the adult milky juice, that becomes inspissate by the population has become the victim of the poison.” | heat of the sun; and the next day is removed,
and collected as a dark brown tenacious But whether this proportion be larger or semi-solid. The many processes which this smaller, it is a proportion that is always on matter undergoes, first in India, and afterthe increase; and at the same time the area wards in China, to refine it, and to fit it for its over which it prevails is always extending. different applications, it would be beside our
When we say that the average daily con- purpose to describe. It is enough just to sumption is seventeen grains, there are many say that, when compacted into cakes or balls, who use a much larger quantity ; and as to it is packed in chests—each weighing from a the cost of the indulgence, men of the labour- hundred and twenty, to a hundred and forty ing class, questioned indiscriminately by Dr. pounds; and when carried to China, the Smith (bishop of Victoria) acknowledged chest is worth about £150, or £160 sterling. that their opium-smoking took from them It is as thus made up in chests, for exportatwo-thirds of their daily earnings.
tion, that we have to speak of it on the preBut now for the purpose of bringing the sent occasion.
As to the culture of the poppy in Hindoo. it is a part upon the regularity of which, and stan, if it were left to take its course along upon its constancy of increase, the Indian with other congenial products of the soil-Government can, with the most confidence, such as sugar, indigo, cotton, and corn, it rely. To such an extent is this the fact that would not be very extensively admitted the question has presented itself in this the labour being comparatively great, and form the chances, dependent upon the season, being many of a failure ; for one untimely “How is the Government to go on at all, and storm of wind and rain may destroy a crop.
how is the British Empire in the East to be mainThe growth of the poppy, if not interfered the forced production in India
, and the forced in
it ; if with, would be confined to the most favour- troduction of opium into China, should in any able spots; and in that case it would adjust way cease, or even if it should reach a limit, and itself to the demand for medicinal purposes. in any degree decline ?" But this is not the state of the case; nor has it been for many years past. In all those So long as ten years ago the East India parts of British India the soil and climate of Company received, in one year, a net revewhich are at all favourable to opium farm- nue of three millions sterling from its monoing, the occupier of the soil—the ryot, holds poly, and from that time to this, with variahis land under a stringent obligation to pro- tions arising from the seasons, and from the duce a certain quantity of opium, yearly, political and commercial condition of China, which he is bound to sell to the agents of the trade has been augmenting at a rapid the Government at a price fixed by them. rate. The average cost of a chest of opium, Regulations the most severe have been de- up to the time when it is sold at Calcutta, vised, and are rigorously enforced, for the at the monthly auction, and when it passes purpose of keeping up the supply, and of into the hands of the merchants who ship it securing a constant increase of it, such as for China, is about thirty-five pounds. The shall furnish the opium markets at Calcutta price obtained at these sales varies considerand Bombay monthly with not less than ably, but an average may be £105; often it 3000 chests for the one, and a third of that rises much above this amount. Looking quantity for the other.
back twenty years, the profits hence derived It is, to a great extent, by means of advan- by the company have steadily increased, and ces from the Government that the ryot—the are in course of auginentation. These pronative cultivator—is enabled to carry on the fits arise, not merely from its own dealings culture round the year; his condition, there- directly, as producers of opium, but from fore, is always that of a debtor to the party the duty levied, as pass-duty, upon every to whom he is compelled to sell his produce. chest which reaches Bombay from the dis
The opium which reaches Bombay is pro- tricts that are not under its control. This duced chiefly in countries that are not under duty has amounted to forty or forty-five the control of the Indian Government, and pounds upon the chest. On the whole, the the conditions of the culture are there dif. revenue derived from this source is so consiferent.
derable, as we have stated above, that the This particular produce having been thus opium question has come to be one which forced up to its actual state, by a direct in- has been thought to touch, perhaps we terference on the part of the Indian Govern- might say, the existence of the British suprement-a Government absolute and irresisti- macy in the East; and if, without admitble—its relation to other kinds of produce is ting any considerations of a moral kind into altogether artificial; so that at any moment, our calculations, we were thinking simply if, by any means, this interference were to and coldly of the stability of that power, it be withdrawn, and at the same time the ef- must be with some anxiety, nay, a deep forts of the Chinese Government to exclude anxiety, that we come to understand the the drug, were to become effective, the pop- precariousness of a trade, upon the continupy growth of India would fall into its properance and the increase of which everything relative insignificance, and the same lands seems to depend. would, with advantage to India and to the At this point we turn to Lord Dalhousie's world, give themselves to husbandries that Minute, named at the head of this Article need no such forcing.
a splendid record as it is of his term of of. But how shall any such desirable change fice! Nothing of the kind, perhaps, has latebe brought about? An answer to this ques- ly appeared which better deserves perusal, tion may be difficult. The revenue derived by or which suggests so many reflections, touchthe East India Company from their monopo- ing the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of ly of the opium trade has gradually come to the human family. But we keep to our im. constitute a large part of its revenues, and mediate purpose. In Articles 19 and 20 of
this Minute, the noble Marquis reports the ment, understanding its commercial interrevenue of the Indian empire for the year ests, would come to the conclusion—that, if 1854-55.
now to deny opium to the people be a hope
less matter, it would at the least be better " By the several territorial acquisitions which for China to grow the poppy at home, than have just been enumerated, a revenue of not less to pay five times its cost to foreigners. Exannual income of the Indian Empire. Stated in tensive districts within the limits of the em. general terms, the revenue of India has increased pire are as well adapted to this culture as from £26,000,000 in 1847-48, to £30,000,000 in are the plains of Hindoostan; labour is 1854-55 ; and the income of the present year, ex- cheaper in China than in India : the entire clusive of Oude, has been estimated at the same profits of the East India Company, the proamount of £30,000,000 sterling. Without enter-fits of the merchants concerned, and the costs ing into any close detail, it may be stated that of the transit, may be saved ; and it scarcethe main sources of revenue are not less produc- ly admits of a question that opium agricultive than before ; while the revenue derived from opium has increased from £2,730,000 in 1847-48, ture in China might be so carried on as to £4,700,000 in 1854-55, and is estimated at up would enable the native dealer very far to wards of £5,000,000 for the present year.”—Min- undersell the importer of his drug. It is ute, Art. 20.
not easy to see why a change of this sort
may not be introduced, clearly as it is indiFrom this statement it appears that the cated by the facts of the case, if only they traffic in opium, which is mainly with China, be understood in China. Even the present yields as much as one-sixth part of the en- disturbed state of the empire may lead to tire revenue of the Indian Empire. it; for whereas, while the Imperial authori
If, then this source of revenue—the opium ty was everywhere recognised, and, as to trade with China-be, as we think it must the interior of the country, was effective, the be granted that it is, of a precarious kind, culture of the poppy might not be possible then a due and prudent regard to the stabil. -easy as it would be for the Government ity of the British rule in the East will give to come in upon all who should attempt it, urgency to the question—whether provision it may now be the fact, or it may ere long should not be made—timely provision-for come to be the fact, that districts favourable supplying a probable deficiency from sources to this culture may have ceased to yield that are less remote from British control ? obedience to the Imperial authority, and This question steers clear entirely of all mo that the occupiers of the soil in those disral considerations; it is political or econo- tricts may find themselves at liberty to purmic purely. The possible failure or decline sue their own interests. When it is conof the opium trade with China, may arise in sidered that every chest of opium paid for several different ways, which it may be well on the coast of China costs at least five briefly to mention.
times what it would cost if the poppy were It is not to be imagined as at all a prob- grown, and the opium were manufactured able event, that the Chinese Government by the Chinese people for themselves, it should be able to effectuate its earnest en- must be felt that, if once the prohibitive deavours to exclude the drug, and to sup- measures of the Government were removed, press the smuggling trade. Hitherto, and or were in any way to cease to take effect, in the present distracted state of the empire, the Indian opium trade would become dethese endeavours are still less likely to suc- pendent entirely, or to a great extent, upon ceed; thus far they have utterly failed. The the continued ignorance of the Chinese peoopium war—that dark passage of British ple as to their own interests; or, if not so, history-has taught the Chinese Govern- upon their utter want of capital, as well as ment and the people, that to any extent, in- of the spirit of enterprise. land, to which European armaments may If at one and the same moment the facts penetrate, resistance to our military power concerning the opium trade were to break is vain. The feebler race, and the less perfect in upon the Chinese mind, and the Imperial civilisation, must take law-right or wrong authority were to be weakened, and the pre—from the stronger, and the more knowing. sent strain upon the monetary resources of But even this consciousness of its weakness China were to reach a crisis, the result, as may lead the Government, or those separate affecting the Indian trade, would seem to be Governments that may result from the pre- inevitable, or nearly so : sent conflict, to defend themselves, commercially, at least, in another manner.
“Fifty or sixty thousand chests of opium, at
the cost of a hundred and thirty pounds sterling nual drainage of silver from China, on this per chest, are annually paid for by China, either account alone, is such as to drag it down. in hard silver, or in goods, equal to silver in relaward toward ruin; and a far-seeing Govern- tion to the resources of the country. This draio has gone on always increasing, until the disturb. ficial to the peoples—many—that are subing and ruinous effect of it has reached a point ject to it. We have no space for historical where it threatens a wide-spread calamity : the comparisons, but may assume it as certain, mass of the people is in course of becoming indi. that no well-informed Englishman, who is gent to a degree which cannot be exceeded. It is only as the opium plague spreads further and not. perverted by malign and unpatriotic farther inwards, over the empire, that the fands prejudices, would attempt to deny that the upon which it draws can be maintained. Bat British domination in the East-the object these funds are not inexhaustible. The tea and as it is of wonder and admiration to the the silk which China brings in her hands, in part world, -is a good, incalculably great, to the payment of the chest of opium, do not suffice for nations of India; or that the overthrow of this purpose. For a long course of years the de- it would be a calamity, the depth of which ficiency has been made up each year by something
none could estimate. like fifteen millions of dollars, paid in hard silver. This drain has deranged the monetary condition
To treat any question touching the stabiof the empire to an extent which cripples its in- lity of the Indian Empire with indifference, dustry, and which has spread so much discontent must be an affectation. We hold this to be among the people, as to have aggravated, if it certain; nor should we give heed for a mohave not originated, the intestine commotions by ment to any argument relating to the opium which, at present, it is torn. The silver mines of trade, the ground of which was this, that hued that the richest of them have long been exhaust manity at large has no concernment with ed, and that the Government has sent its agents
the maintenance and perpetuation of that in search of new veins. How far this search may empire. It is with a feeling altogether of a have been successful, is not known ; but this is contrary sort that we go about to inquire certain, that the exhausted condition of the em- whether the Indian revenue, is, in fact, so pire at large has not been relieved.”
do dependent upon this one source of income
as has been, and is usually assumed. On such grounds as these, let it be for a Lord Dalhousie's report of his eight moment admitted as probable, that China years' administration brings under view, should cease, whether gradually or suddenly, within the compass of a few pages, the to be willing, or to be able to take at our territorial acquisitions which have taken hands the opium of India. If this cessation place during these eight years, and the conshould imply the abandonment of the per- sequent augmentation of the revenue to the nicious practice of opium smoking to a amount of not less than four millions stergreat extent, all humane persons must re- ling. The income for the present year is joice, and rejoice, too, whatever might be estimated at thirty millions sterling. We come of Indian revenue. But let us suppose must abstain from going into details, any nothing more than this, that China resolves further than these may touch our conclusion to save itself the three or four hundred per in the question before us. During these cent. of artificial cost, and to raise and pre- eight years, “ the tonnage which sought the pare its own opium. In that event, it is port of Calcutta has more than doubled in trưe, humanity has gained nothing; but at amount.” At the same time, internal trade, the least, the British conscience stands re- as well as those means which so vastly falieved from a heavy burden. China con- cilitate the measures of Government, have tinues to destroy herself with this poison; received incalculable aids by the completion but we no longer are the receivers of the of a thousand miles or more of railwaypieces of silver which hitherto the suicide by the extension and improvement of has brought into our hands.
canals; and, not least, by the extension of But now, in such an imagined case, which the electric telegraph through four thousand implies nothing very improbable, what miles of country.* course would the Indian Government, or the But as to these territorial acquisitions, “ Honourable Court” at home, adopt and the direct increase accruing to the revenue pursue? In attempting a reply, we turn is far from being the most important part again to Lord Dalhousie's Minute. This of the advantage thence arising—or likely record of an eight years'administration may to arise. well be read with amazement by our European neighbours—north and south, and by “ An extensive trade is springing up in Pegu, us with a consciousness—let it not be in the and when the deficient popolation of the country world's vain dialect, “a proud conscious shall have been supplied as it will be under the
firm British rule — the province of Pegu will ness” of a domination to which nothing in history is comparable domination so wide, so various in the national elements it
* While writing, we see that the Company has
just now authorized the further extension of this embraces-50 vast in its resources, and exer- system over more than three thousand miles of its cised, on the whole, in a manner so bene- territory.
equal Bengal in fertility of production, and will But this exposition of the resources of surpass it in every other respect." — Minute, India touches our present purpose at yet Art. 26.
In India canal navigation is usually, if not The acquisitions of the Company in Berar in every case, a double-handed blessing :and Nagpore have brought under its im- it is the pathway of trade--the cheapest and mediate control those districts which are the surest; it is the source of irrigation most favourable to the culture of cotton. Nothing connected with the British Em: over wide levels--provinces, through which pire in the East, and with its bearing terior to European manufactures, and at the
passes. So it has already opened the inupon our manufacturing supremacy, can be
same time has—may we not say so ?-semore important than is the increase of the cured India to a great extent against those . cotton culture in India: a large supply of visitations of famine which have not failed cotton from that quarter, free-grown, if it
to decimate the people periodically. At were equal in quality, and on a level as to price with that of the slave States of once to facilitate and extend trade, and to America, is in every sense intensely to be exempt the people from these devastations,
mpire desired. An increase, in this article alone, incalculably. On this subject we must cite might quickly make good a deficiency in the the Governor-General again :revenue that is now drawn from the opium traffic. Some districts in the kingdom of
“ Of all the works of public improvement Pegu are likely also to be devoted to the which can be applied to an Indian province, cotton culture,
works of irrigation are the bappiest in their “ The coltivation of tea in Assam,” we are And foremost among all the works of irrigation
effects upon the physical condition of the people. here told, Minute
, Art. 79, " has prospered in a that the world has as yet ever seen, stands the remarkable degree. The plant has also been Ganges canal, whose main stream was for the largely introduced into the upper districts of the first time opened on the 8th April 1854.... north-west provinces; and, some years ago, plan- Within
eight years the main lines of the Ganges tations were established in the Deyrah Dhoon, canal, applicable to the double purpose of irrigaand in Kumaon and Gurhwal. More recently tion and navigation, have been designed, executMr. Fortune has been employed to bring plants ed, and opened. Extending over 525 miles in and seeds in large quantities from China, and to length, measuring in its greatest depth 10 feet, engage Chinese workmen for the manufacture of and in its extreme breadth 170 feet, the main the tea. The cultivation has extended along the irrigation line of the Ganges canal is justly deHimalayas. Extensive plantations are
scribed as a work which stands unequalled in its growing up on the heights toward Kangra ; and class and character among the efforts of civilized in experimental plantation has been formed on nations.”—Minute, Art. 87. the Murree Hills, above Rawul Pindee. Further to the eastward, in Kumaon and Gurhwal, the Zemindars have adopted the cultivation of the This Report then goes on to mention, in plant themselves. Very large quantities of tea their order, as many as twenty-six public are now manufactured every year. It sells works connected with inland navigation, readily at a high price. There is every reason with irrigation, and with maritime security, to believe that the cultivation of the tea plant which have either been completed within will be very widely spread in future years, and that the trade in tea produced in India will be
the same term of years, or which are now come considerable in extent."-Minute, Art. 80.
To canals succeed roads
almost novelties in India ;—then railways, The growth of flax, of silk, the rearing of and the electric telegraph; in which last sheep in Pegu, and of horses—the pre- class of improvements India seems to be servation and renewal of forests (especially taking the lead in all the world :--but we in the kingdom of Oude) “will now be must refrain, and answer the questioncarefully regulated and preserved.” An How do these magnificent undertakingsextensive survey of districts likely to contain magnificent because beneficent, how do they mineral treasures—coal and iron especially, touch our present subject-the opium rehas been carrying forward for some time, venue of India ? and promises to be productive to an im- They touch this subject in two ways disportant extent.
tinctly. In the first place, they spread before
us a prospect not unsubstantial, or in any “ On the ground of these encouraging facts, sense visionary, of such a development of fair hopes may be built that the present most the vast natural resources of India, and of urgent want of India, in connexion with her ma: such an expansion of its internal trade, and terial improvement, namely, an ample supply of of its commerce, as may warrant a sure good iron, within her own bounds, may at no distant date be abundantly supplied." — Alinute, calculation of the gradual, and probably Art. 85.
the rapid increase of the revenue. It is