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diminution, or the entire failure of the think it stands quite alone on this ground) opium trade with China. We believe that opium, as available for purposes of tranif a better direction were given to agricul- sient delirium, is a substance sui generis : ture and trade throughout India, it would it is not one of a class of drugs amongst quickly overtake any temporary deficiency. which a substitute might easily be found. We assume it to be certain, in the second If this one drug-opium, can be kept out of place—That the Indian government, and the the reach of the mass of the people, the evils imperial government of China, if the two it entails meet at once an effective remedy. were in accordance, and if they were so Opium invaluable, indispensable, as a minded, might with ease prevent the impor- means in the hands of the medical practitation of opium along the coast of China. tioner, has a use which is so limited, and At present a fully armed marine force, on which is so well defined, that, even if it may a large scale, is employed in defending and still remain within reach of the few, it may maintaining the importation, being as it is easily be placed on a high.shelf, where none contraband. It needs only a good under- but the long arms of the wealthy can lay standing between the Indian and the Chinese their hands upon it. governments to render the smuggling trade Then as to the production of this drug, dangerous and difficult to such an extent as the same kind of singularity attaches to it. would bring it to an end, or nearly so. A It is not one of a class of products, to repress lawful and a profitable trade with China or forbid the whole of which would clearly would well pay the cost of a force in the be impossible. As an agricultural product. Eastern seas sufficient to keep them clear the poppy-field stands out with a broad and both of pirates and of smugglers.
glaring individuality among the cereals, and But assuming these things as certain, the the grasses, and the legumens, just as the question has still its difficulties—some of single poppy in flower declares itself in the them apparent only, and some real. It is midst of a field of wheat. Every way, popwell understood that measures of prohibi- py farming is marked off from every other tion, or of restriction, are much more easily produce. It demands, if cultivated on a devised than carried out and made effective. Iarge scale for commerce-it demands esOften have even the strongest and the most pecial conditions of soil, and of temperadespotic governments been compelled, after ture: it needs atmospheric steadiness; and undergoing a series of mortifying defeats, to the nearness of cheap labour, for the husleave things to take their course, Effect- bandry of it is costly. Poppy farming ively to exclude anything from a country is not within reach of every occupier of by high duties is to offer a premium to the land under a tropical sun; it has its chosen smuggler to limit the consumption of it spots. Then the opium manufacture must when already in the country, is an endea- adjoin the poppy field. Opium is not like vour impracticable; or quite impracticable whisky, which if you give it only its share in a free country sumptuary laws and out of every stack-yard may be made to run domiciliary intrusions upon the privacies of a perennial stream from a kettle, in any life are out of the qnestion, or ought now to hovel deep hid among the mountains. The be thought so. Nevertheless there are ex- poppy is, in a literal sense, and in a figuraceptional cases—there are instances on be- tive sense too, the creature of the sun-it half of which a special course may reasona- cannot be hid; the opium manufacture in bly be pleaded for, and must in fact be al- India could no more be put under a bushel, lowed. The promiscuous sale of the more than could hay-making be so served in Engactive poisons is an instance of this kind ; land. the difficulty attaching to which is precisely What is the inference ? Just this, that this—that the restriction which is sought for opium culture offers itself as an exceptive must be made to bear upon a very large product of agricultural labour, which more number of the articles that are kept for pop- readily, perhaps, than any other that could ular use in every druggist's shop. It may be named, might be brought under control, be asked, which are the poisons? If arse and be made to confine itself within prenic and strychnine are to be shut off from scribed limits, and which, without inflicting popular use, there are a dozen pernicious any damage or disadvantage either upon the drugs out of which the suicide or the mur- occupancy of land, or upon any vested inderer may make his choice, though they terests, might be hedged in by statutes or may not be quite so convenient in the appli-regulations, easily and certainly enforced. cation.
If a man may say to his gardener, "Don't put But no such difficulty or ambiguity at- in any more parsnips this year, they are not taches to the article with which now we are wholesome," so may a government—if, inconcerned. In a singular degree (and we deed, it can do anything-if it can enforce
any sort of restrictive rule, it may say, "No that such a man is offended and alarmed by more poppy farms--so many acres in such what he learns concerning the opium trade. a district may be given to this plant; but He finds that it is carried on in violation of no more.”
the admitted principles of international law; But it is said, if the opium manufacture that what may fitly be called the perpetration were abandoned, or were only restricted in of this trade is consigned to the hands of India, a stimulus would be given to the buccaneers--men who would be hanged by culture elsewhere ; the people of China will dozens if their services were not in this case destroy themselves in this way, and the In- needed, and that the use of opium in China dian government may as well profit by their is attended with miseries deeper and more infatuation. This is the old plea for all widely spread than those which sprang from kinds of abominations. It is, or it was, the the slave trade. This alarm, and this reargument of the slave-trader: it is the plea vulsion of feeling, leads such a man-to of those who live and fatten upon detestable whom the care of the eastern world has been practices--it is the plea of all who live by committed to make inquiry concerning the the crimes and vices of others-it is the traffic, on the common grounds of commerpretext of the receiver of stolen goods-it cial policy, and to ask, Are we really doing
is, and ever has been, the legend upon the ourselves any good by this infernal trade? · rogue's escutcheon, all the world over-“I Or can it be true that a barter which des
don't make the wickedness, I only live by troys the buyer and the consumer, and it.” It would be a great wrong to suppose which stains with blood the hands of the that such a doctrine should be taken up and seller, is a good trade on the whole ? Such used, either in Leadenhall Street, or the a man will soon convince himself that it is Government House, Calcutta.
not so, The time is passed, or it is passing away, A good bargain is defined to be a transacin which courses of conduct on the part of tion which is advantageous to both the pargovernments or corporations, which the in- ties; and it should be equally advantageous Jividual man would abhor, may be palliated, to both, all things allowed for. It may be connived at, and left to weigh upon the soul good for a man, in certain cases, to give a of the automaton whose business it is to sign diamond ring for a threepenny loaf; but this official documents. That which is false and is not trade. Lately it was not understood, wrong, and cruel and ruinous to the weak but now it is perfectly understood, that trade and the ignorant, is coming to be scouted is at its best when both parties are flourishas a mistake in political economy, as well as ing, and are making money in the exchange. a crime.
Lately it was not understood, but now it is The opium traffic of the East India Com- well understood--thanks to the establishpany with China has come down to us along ment of free-trade principles that nations with many other evil things and great mis- do not prosper in an inverse ratio to the takes from times when atrocities and politi- prosperity of their neighbours; but, on the cal errors hugged each other complacently, contrary, directly by means of their mutual and were seldom called to give an account prosperity. Need these things be demonof themselves. But the opium traffic, along strated at this time? Surely not. with other mischievous usages, must now be We may imagine a future Governor. prepared to show cause why it should not General to be not merely a man of enlarged be condemned, not only as a source, and the views, but one who is full of English feeldirect cause of incalculable miseries, but as ing; that he is more than an able adminisan enormous error in the international pol- trator of Indian affairs ;- let him be a statesity. That it is, in fact, a mutual mischief man, and he will then govern India, thinking might be demonstrated in detail, and placed of it as part and parcel of the British Empire; beyond the reach of doubt. An exact and he will be fixed in his resolution to look at copious statement of the results and the China as it stands related to the commercial course of European and American trade prosperity of the British Empire--not as it with China will show this, At present we chances to relate to the Indian revenue. can only make an appeal to common sense Thus regarded, the question of the opium on more general grounds.
traffic would quickly resolve itself, and be Let it be imagined now, for a moment, determined in a sense consonant with the that a future Governor-General of India dictates of humanity, and of international right-minded as a man and a Christian, and justice. He would see that national interests, well informed in the principles of commerce, largely understood, are not in this instance, and also, by structure of mind, holding in any more than in any other instance, at vadue contempt the small wisdom which so riance with the eternal principles of justice often flourishes and prevails in public offices; and humanity. It is nothing more than an
imaginary necessity which, in this case, stands to descend to the details on this ground. in the way of our perceiving, that the enor. Let the reader, who would properly undermous wrong we are doing, for the sake of an stand the subject now referred to, first acimmediate gain, is even now avenging the quaint himself with all that can be known of injured people upon ourselves, and is sure to the processes and the means of the industrial make thorough work with us in the end, arts in China; and then let him pass at with a full measure of disastrous results. leisure through those vast structures—the
The Chinese people, whether they number, spinning "sheds,” the “mills,” the “ shops” as is said, three hundred and forty millions of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and of the or some millions more or fewer--it does not manufacturing districts of Scotland ; let him signify to our argument-are just in that inform himself of the lowering of prices in state of imperfectly developed civilisation various articles, looking back ten years. which, under conditions we shall specify, These reductions of price having been might render them customers for British brought about almost entirely by the immanufactures, to an extent that is incalculable. provements and the extension of machinery, Their modes of life and their tastes embrace and by various perfectionments in the modes as large an assortment of the products of the of applying it. The result of such an explomechanic arts as is required for what we may ration must be the conviction, that the staple call the “outfit” of more highly advanced British manufactures may, for long years to western nations. Their own imitative inge- come, and probably for ever, undersell the nuity, the traditionary perfection of some of industry, of China, even when charged with the arts among them, and their eminent freightage and the profits of merchants. handiwork skill, their domestic habitudes, But it must be well understood that the their love of decoration, their needs, as oc- enjoyment of this advantage, in any but a cupants of a region inclusive of great ine- very limited degree, is not a matter of course; qualities of temperature ;-all these influen- for it is dependent upon certain conditions. ces bring them before us, if we speak now We have already learned this to our cost. as traders, as the buyers to a large extent of To make up cargoes for Canton and Shangwhat we have to sell. It is true that native hai may be easy, but to obtain a ready sale skill and industry, and cheap labour have for these consignments on remunerative hitherto sufficed, and will long suffice, for terms, is another matter, and is not so easy. meeting the demand in certain of the indus- The conditions of an extensive and evertrial arts, especially in those in carrying for- enlarging and remunerative trade with China ward which hand-labour has its advantages, are several—some of which are beyond our as compared with the products of machinery. present subject, but some bear upon it diIn the ceramic manufactures, and especially rectly. in the decorative branch of it, the Chinese There is ground for believing that, al. potter and painter will be able to hold his though the absolutely indigent and destitute own against the men of the Staffordshire class in China may not be a larger propor potteries. Whoever has walked through tion of the entire population than in some the potteries, with an eye fixed upon China, European countries, the class of those who will have seen that the antiquated processes subsist upon almost the minimum of the which are there adhered to, especially in the means of life is very large. What can we decorative department, are so many premi- look for from these millions of barely-clad ums put into the hand of the Chinese potter. rice-eaters as customers for British manufacThen, again, it is not likely that we should tures! Very little in their actual condition, ever manufacture paper here in England, or but much gradually, if only we can reach be able to print books upon such paper ad- them extensively. In a mechanical sense vantageously, for the Chinese reading public. the masses of China are now accessible : On various points this ingenious people pos- their system of inland navigation is such that sesses an advantage which we must be con- if these water courses were opened to Eurotent to leave in their hands.
pean means of transit, these vast regions But it is otherwise in almost every one would at once spread themselves out before of those industrial arts in which the com- our enterprise ; and to us, as a trading and mand of boundless capital and the applica- manufacturing people, a nation of hundreds tion of machinery on the largest scale serve of millions would, in this sense, be born to at once to secure the highest excellence in us in a day. Not that the masses of the the work, and cheapness too, in a degree people, even if we had unrestricted access to which goes far beyond the limit of hand- them, would immediately, or soon be buylabour, however cheap it may be, and with ers of all we could send them. But it is a whatever ingenuity it may be employed. sure principle that the feeling, the taste, the We should far exceed our limits if we were coveting for conveniences and decorations, the factitious need to have, and to enjoy er himself, by thousands or by millions; or what has been presented to the eye, and has it is bringing him down from a condition lodged itself in the imagination--these ten- which is improvable, to a condition of desdencies, so deep-seated as they are in human perate and irrecoverable wretchedness. nature, require to be stimulated and to be If the British commercial policy were to be cultured, and then they are sure to grow. thought of as a whole--as a devised scheme When stimulated to a certain extent, and of national enterprise, what we are doing, when they have become habitudes, they described in its naked reality, is just this, we bring with them, or they actually create, the are drugging to the death the man whom we very means of further expansion. Those are hoping to see enter our shop daily, purse races especially that are constitutionally in- in hand ! dustrial, are peculiarly apt to admit this It is true that, within the encyclopedia of kind of stimulus. It is by help of the taste commerce, and as related to fiscal questions, for conveniences and for decorations--it is there are instances analogous to this of the the desire for things which lie a little.way opium traffic: there are instances, we admit, beyond the border of primary necessity, which a determined controvertist might bring that individuals and that communities are forward and insist upon, in bar of the conclulifted out of the slough of physical wretched- sion to which we would come. There are inness, and are urged to labour, to patient en-stances resembling this of the trade in opium; durance, frugality, enterprise. Human na- but, we confidently say it, there is no inture does better when led than when driven. stance strictly parallel to it;-there is no Drive him by the lash, or by the imminent instance so unambiguous, none so little comdread of hunger and nakedness, and man re- plicated by admixture with impracticable mains a savage. Lead and tempt him for- exceptions - there is no instance in the ward by the prospect of comforts, and of a round of international intercourse which better condition of his home, and of an attire might so easily be dealt with, or in dealing which shall allow him to maintain self-re- with which so vast an amount of evil might spect, and then his energies wake up, and be mitigated, or wholly excluded, at so small you see what is in him.
a cost. Our limits forbid that we should go If in the course of whatever changes in the into any of these comparisons. Rather than internal condition of the Chinese empire-its do so let it be granted that the principles breaking up, for instance, we should gain which we should apply to the trade in opifree access to the masses of the people-let um ought, in consistency, to be applied to us wisely use such an opportunity for pro- other similar cases. We do not, in fact, almoting their domestic and industrial habits low it to be so; but allow it for the moment, by tempting them to buy what we can sell and then return to the instance in question. them-a good article and cheap. Open be- Opium is not one of a class of produets, fore the people of China your packages of some of which, or many perhaps, it would printed goods from Lancashire;- shew them be impossible to exclude or prohibit. It is your Sheffield cutlery ;-offer them all those one drug, having a well-defined, and easilygoods and wares which may be seen welling marked, and conspicuous individuality. forth daily as a torrent from the vast ma- There is not, either in its legitimate quality chineries of manufacturing England and as a medicine, or as a means of vicious inScotland.
dulgence, a substitute at hand. If the poppy But it is just at this point that we reach the were altogether to fail, the medical practidifficult, and, in truth, the afflictive stage of tioner would be hopeless of supplying its our present argument. The opium chest is place :-if the poppy culture were to be rea block of adamant in the way, stopping the duced within the limits of the demand for it course of British industry and enterprise, as on the part of the pharmaceutical chemist, toward the vast regions, and the many islands the opium smoker must resign himself to that lie east of the Straits of Malacca. We the misery of wanting his dose. Opium need not revert to the facts to which already eating and smoking may, alas ! come in the we have made a cursory reference. These place of intoxicating liquors; and this fatal facts are, for the most part, out of question : substitution has, it is to be feared, extenthey are established by the concurrence of sively taken place in consequence of the illalmost all testimonies, and they leave us no considered attempt to reform drunkards by room to doubt that the opium chest, landed a vow. But while neither gin nor rum will upon the whole line of Continental China, bring about the opium delirium, opium and rapidly making its way inland upon the more than meets the cravings of the dramrivers and canals, is not merely draining the drinker. country of its means as a customer for our This clearly defined simplicity, attaching, goods, but is actually destroying our custom- as it does, to the instance before us, there is solid ground for the inquiry-What would | jab to Pegu, and from the temperate flanks happen if, induced by considerations of what of the Himalaya to Cape Comorin. In five ever class, whether moral, or political, or years, or less time, the Indian revenue will fiscal, the Honourable the East India Com- have recovered itself, and far more than repany should resolve to make up its revenue covered the momentary defalcation. But from other sources, and to wash its hands the second of these results of such a course of the trade in opium ? Already, in the would be, a gradual and indefinite enlargecourse of this article, we have affirmed it as ment of the British commerce with China, certain that a system of prohibition, if it is and the Eastern Islands. China, even if to be effective, must be made to rest upon a it continued to consume opium, would compact between the Company and the rul- obtain it at a fraction of the present cost; ing power in China-either the present im- and its twenty millions of silver would be perial, or its vanquisher; the cordial inten- annually available for the purchase of comtion of which compact would be, to prevent modities which, instead of paralyzing the the importation of opium into China. And, national industry, stimulate and feed it, and moreover, as the Chinese official persons open before it new fields of gainful enteralong the coast are utterly venal and un- prise. Instances many and various in iltrustworthy, it must be understood that the lustration of this assumption might be ad. opium trade has been denounced as piracy ; duced : take one ;-any one who may chance and that it must be followed and hunted out, to have seen those samples of Chinese dyed along the coasts, and in all the eastern woven fabrics, which at different times have waters, as the slave trade has been in the been exhibited in Manchester, will have Atlantic. On any conditions short of these, gathered from these specimens two inferenother trading nations—we will not say the ces; first, that from whatever causes, whe
Americans--would step into the place we ther of climate or of chemical intelligence, · had vacated, and the mischief would be or of manipulative skill, the Chinese dyer is scarcely checked.
likely to beat us, perhaps always, in bring But it is not to be supposed that the con- ing out brilliant and deep-toned colours, the sumption of opium in China could be abso- blues, the purples, the crimsons. But then lutely and universally brought to an end. the woven tissue to which these rich dyes To attempt an issue of this kind would be to are imparted are far outdone in evenness of fail, and perhaps to aggravate the evil. In- thread and beauty of texture by the looms stead of doing this, the Chinese Government of Lancashire : our machinery does its office, might safely legalize the culture of the both as spinner and as weaver, in a manner poppy, and hold it under limitations. Grant which defies rivalry. And although we do it that measures of this sort would be diffi- not reach the splendour of Chinese colours cult in the execution ; we are not called (not in woven fabrics any more than in deupon to consider or to devise the means for corated potteries) we are able, and on terms obviating such difficulties. What we have of the extremest cheapness, to print what to do with, are the results of such a course we weave: the printed goods of Lancashire as affecting ourselves ; and yet, before we will please the people of China, if only we pass on, we may observe, that it must be a first send to China for the pattern, and then far easier task on the part of a government faithfully copy it. On this ground then to make a fence round a poppy-farm, and to it is one among many instances—there is a say to the occupiers" these acres, and no division of labour instituted between nations more for this plant”-than to keep a look on the opposite sides of the planet :-it is a out, night and day, along a thousand miles distribution of tasks which is founded upon of indented and dangerous coast, so as to the nature of things within the two countries intercept the armed smuggler: this latter is respectively; and it is therefore likely to be a means of keeping opium out of the reach permanent; nor is it out of reason to imagine of the people, which the Chinese government, that cotton, grown on the flats of the Missisif unassisted, could never make effective sippi, and spun and woven in England, should the former is at least supposable, and might be sent to China to be dyed, in whole colours, be found easy.
and then returned to the shops of London As affecting ourselves, we mean British and Paris, taking a place, and commanding interests at large, inclusive of those of our a price as goods not to be matched, and as empire in the East, the consequences of a evidences of what may be done when Europe, relinquishment of the trade in opium with America, and Asia join hands and work upon China would be, in the first instance, an ear- a system-a system which nature has chalked nest endeavour to develop, in a fuller degree, out for them. Only take the poppy out of this the several elements of national wealth world-wide field and we shall all fare the betthroughout the Peninsula--from the Pun- ter--China, India, England, and America.