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Title: Drugging a Nation - The Story of China and the Opium Curse
Author: Merwin, Samuel, 1874-1936
Language: English
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Libraries.)



DRUGGING A NATION



[Illustration: H. E. TONG SHAO-I One of the Leaders of the Opium Reform
Movement in China]



  Drugging a Nation

  The Story of China
  and the Opium Curse


  A Personal Investigation, during an
  Extended Tour, of the Present Conditions
  of the Opium Trade in China
  and Its Effects upon the Nation


  By SAMUEL MERWIN


  NEW YORK   CHICAGO   TORONTO
  Fleming H. Revell Company
  LONDON AND EDINBURGH



  Copyright, 1908, by
  FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY

  Copyright, 1907-1908, by
  SUCCESS COMPANY


  New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
  Chicago: 80 Wabash Avenue
  Toronto: 25 Richmond Street, W.
  London: 21 Paternoster Square
  Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street



NOTE


These chapters were originally published during 1907 and 1908 in _Success
Magazine_. Though frankly journalistic in tone, the book presents
something more than the hasty conclusions of a journalist. During its
preparation the author travelled around the world, inquiring into the
problem at first hand in China and in England, reading all available
printed matter which seemed to bear in any way on the subject, and
interviewing several hundred gentlemen who have had special opportunities
to study the problem from various standpoints. The writing was not begun
until this preliminary work was completed and the natural conclusions had
become convictions in the author's mind.



CONTENTS


     I. CHINA'S PREDICAMENT                                 9

    II. THE GOLDEN OPIUM DAYS                              20

   III. A GLIMPSE INTO AN OPIUM PROVINCE                   53

    IV. CHINA'S SINCERITY                                  70

     V. SOWING THE WIND IN CHINA--SHANGHAI                101

    VI. SOWING THE WIND IN CHINA--TIENTSIN AND HONGKONG   129

   VII. HOW BRITISH CHICKENS CAME HOME TO ROOST           154

  VIII. THE POSITION OF GREAT BRITAIN                     178

  APPENDIX                                                204



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                             _Facing page_

  H. E. TONG SHAO-I                                                _Title_

  KNEADING CRUDE OPIUM WITH OIL TO MAKE ROUND OR FLAT CAKES             27

  MAKING ROUND CAKES OF OPIUM                                           27

  THE OPIUM HULKS OF SHANGHAI                                           50

  AN OPIUM RECEIVING SHIP OR "GODOWN" AT SHANGHAI                       50

  THE VILLAGES WERE LITTLE MORE THAN HEAPS OF RUINS                     54

  AT LAST HE CRAWLS OUT ON THE HIGHWAY, WHINING, CHATTERING AND
  PRAYING THAT A FEW COPPER CASH BE THROWN HIM                          54

  WRECK AND RUIN IN CHINA                                               68

  ENFORCING THE EDICT AT SHANGHAI                                       88

  IN AN OPIUM DEN, SHANGHAI                                            114

  OPIUM-SMOKING                                                        114

  WEIGHING OPIUM IN A GOVERNMENT FACTORY IN INDIA                      154

  WHERE THE CHINAMAN TRAVELS, OPIUM TRAVELS TOO                        172



Drugging a Nation



I

CHINA'S PREDICAMENT


In September, 1906, an edict was issued from the Imperial Court at Peking
which states China's predicament with naïveté and vigour.

"The cultivation of the poppy," runs the edict, in the authorized
translation, "is the greatest iniquity in agriculture, and the provinces
of Szechuen, Shensi, Kansu, Yunnan, Kweichow, Shansi, and Kanghuai abound
in its product, which, in fact, is found everywhere. Now that it is
decided to abandon opium smoking within ten years, the limiting of this
cultivation should be taken as a fundamental step ... opium has been in
use so long by the people that nearly three-tenths or four-tenths of them
are smokers."

"Three-tenths or four-tenths" of the Chinese people,--one hundred and
fifty million opium-smokers--mean three or four times the population of
Great Britain, a good many more than the population of the United States!

The Chinese are notoriously inexact in statistical matters. The officials
who drew up the edict probably wished to convey the impression that the
situation is really grave, and employed this form of statement in order to
give force to the document. No accurate estimate of the number of opium
victims in China is obtainable; but it is possible to combine the
impressions which have been set down by reliable observers in different
parts of the "Middle Kingdom," and thus to arrive at a fair, general
impression of the truth. The following, for example, from Mr. Alexander
Hosie, the commercial attaché to the British legation at Peking, should
carry weight. He is reporting on conditions in Szechuen Province:

"I am well within the mark when I say that in the cities fifty per cent.
of the males and twenty per cent. of the females smoke opium, and that in
the country the percentage is not less than twenty-five for men and five
per cent. for women." There are about forty-two million people in Szechuen
Province; and they not only raise and consume a very great quantity of
opium, they also send about twenty thousand tons down the Yangtse River
every year for use in other provinces. The report of other travellers,
merchants, and official investigators indicate that about all of the
richest soil in Szechuen is given over to poppy cultivation, and that the
labouring classes show a noticeable decline of late in physique and
capacity for work.

In regard to another so-called "opium province," Yunnan, we have the
following statement: "I saw practically the whole population given over to
its abuse. The ravages it is making in men, women, and children are
deplorable.... I was quite able to realize that any one who had seen the
wild abuse of opium in Yunnan would have a wild abhorrence of it."

In later chapters we shall go into the matter more at length. Here let me
add to these statements merely a few typical scraps of information,
selected from a bundle of note-books full of records of chats and
interviews with travellers of almost every nationality and of almost every
station in life. The secretary of a life insurance company which does a
considerable business up and down the coast told me that, roughly, fifty
per cent of the Chinese who apply for insurance are opium-smokers. Another
bit comes from a man who lived for several years in an inland city of a
quarter of a million inhabitants. The local Anti-opium League had 750
members, he said and he believed that about every other man in the city
was a smoker. "It is practically a case of everybody smoking," he
concluded.

Twenty-five years ago, when the consumption of opium in China could hardly
have been more than half what it is to-day, a British consul estimated the
proportion of smokers in the region he had visited as follows: "Labourers
and small farmers, ten per cent.; small shopkeepers, twenty per cent.;
soldiers, thirty per cent.; merchants, eighty per cent.; officials and
their staff, ninety per cent.; actors, prostitutes, vagrants, thieves,
ninety-five per cent." The labourers and farmers, the real strength of
China, as of every other land, had not yet been overwhelmed--but they were
going under, even then. The most startling news to-day is from these lower
classes, even from the country villages, the last to give way. Dr. Parker,
the American Methodist missionary at Shanghai, informed me that reports to
this effect were coming in steadily from up country; and during my own
journey I heard the same bad news almost everywhere along a route which
measured, before I left China, something more than four thousand miles.

Perhaps the most convincing summing up of China's predicament is found in
another translation from a recent Chinese document, this time an appeal to
the throne from four viceroys. The quaintness of the language does not, I
think, impair its effectiveness and its power as a protest: "China can
never become strong and stand shoulder and shoulder with the powers of the
world unless she can get rid of the habit of opium-smoking by her
subjects, about one quarter of whom have been reduced to skeletons and
look half-dead."

This then is the curse which the imperial government has talked so
quaintly of "abandoning." This is the debauchery which is to be put down
by officials, ninety per cent of whom were supposed to be more or less
confirmed smokers. Such almost childlike optimism brings to mind a certain
Sunday in New York City when Theodore Roosevelt, with the whole police
force under his orders, tried to close the saloons. It brings to mind
other attempts in Europe and America, to check and control vice and
depravity--attempts which have never, I think, been wholly
successful--and one begins to understand the discouraging immensity of the
task which China has undertaken. Really, to "stop using opium" would mean
a very rearranging of the agricultural plan of the empire. It would make
necessary an immediate solution of China's transportation problem (no
other crop is so easy to carry as opium) and an almost complete
reconstruction of the imperial finances; indeed, few observers are so glib
as to suggest offhand a substitute for the immense opium revenue to the
Chinese government. And nobody to accomplish all this but those sodden
officials, of whom it is safe to guess that fifty per cent have some sort
or other of a financial stake in the traffic!

In the minds of most of us, I think, there has been a vague notion that
the Chinese have always smoked opium, that opium is in some peculiar way a
necessity to the Chinese constitution. Even among those who know the
extraordinary history of this morbidly fascinating vegetable product, who
know that the India-grown British drug was pushed and smuggled and
bayoneted into China during a century of desperate protest and even armed
resistance from these yellow people, it has been a popular argument to
assert that the Chinese have only themselves to blame for the "demand"
that made the trade possible. Of this "demand," and of how it was worked
up by Christian traders, we shall speak at some length in later chapters.
"Educational methods" in the extending of trade can hardly be said to have
originated with the modern trust. The curious fact is that the Chinese
didn't use opium and didn't want opium.

Your true opium-smoker stretches himself on a divan and gives up ten or
fifteen minutes to preparing his thimbleful of the brown drug. When it has
been heated and worked to the proper consistency, he places it in the tiny
bowl of his pipe, holds it over a lamp, and draws a few whiffs of the
smoke deep into his lungs. It seems, at first, a trivial thing; indeed,
the man who is well fed and properly housed and clothed seems able to keep
it up for a considerable time and without appreciable ill results. The
greater difficulty in China is, of course, that very few opium-smokers are
well fed and properly housed and clothed.

I heard little about the beautiful dreams and visions which opium is
supposed to bring; all the smokers with whom I talked could be roughly
divided into two classes--those who smoked in order to relieve pain or
misery, and those miserable victims who smoked to relieve the acute
physical distress brought on by the opium itself. Probably the majority of
the victims take it up as a temporary relief; many begin in early
childhood; the mother will give the baby a whiff to stop its crying. It is
a social vice only among the upper classes. The most notable outward
effect of this indulgence is the resulting physical weakness and
lassitude. The opium-smoker cannot work hard; he finds it difficult to
apply his mind to a problem or his body to a task. As the habit becomes
firmly fastened on him, there is a perceptible weakening of his moral
fibre; he shows himself unequal to emergencies which make any sudden
demand upon him. If opium is denied him, he will lie and steal in order to
obtain it.

Opium-smoking is a costly vice. A pipefull of a moderately good native
product costs more than a labourer can earn in a day; consequently the
poorer classes smoke an unspeakable compound based on pipe scrapings and
charcoal. Along the highroads the coolies even scrape the grime from the
packsaddles to mix with this dross. The clerk earning from twenty-five to
fifty Mexican dollars a month will frequently spend from ten to twenty
dollars a month on opium. The typical confirmed smoker is a man who spends
a considerable part of the night in smoking himself to sleep, and all the
next morning in sleeping off the effects. If he is able to work at all, it
is only during the afternoon, and even at that there will be many days
when the official or merchant is incompetent to conduct his affairs.
Thousands of prominent men are ruined every year.

The Cantonese have what they call "The Ten Cannots regarding The
Opium-Smoker." "He cannot (1) give up the habit; (2) enjoy sleep; (3) wait
for his turn when sharing his pipe with his friends; (4) rise early; (5)
be cured if sick; (6) help relations in need; (7) enjoy wealth; (8) plan
anything; (9) get credit even when an old customer; (10) walk any
distance."

This is the land into which the enterprising Christian traders introduced
opium, and into which they fed opium so persistently and forcibly that at
last a "good market" was developed. England did not set out to ruin China.
One finds no hint of a diabolical purpose to seduce and destroy a
wonderful old empire on the other side of the world. The ruin worked was
incidental to that far Eastern trade of which England has been so proud.
It was the triumph of the balance sheet over common humanity.

And so it is to-day. British India still holds the cream of the trade, for
the Chinese grown opium cannot compete in quality with the Indian drug.
The British Indian government raises the poppy in the rich Ganges Valley
(more than six hundred thousand acres of poppies they raised there last
year), manufactures it in government factories at Patna and
Ghazipur--manufactures four-fifths of it especially to suit the Chinese
taste, and sells it at annual government auctions in Calcutta.

The result of this traffic is so very grave that it is a difficult matter
to discuss in moderate language. To the traveller who leaves the railroad
and steamboat lines and ventures, in springless native cart or swaying
mule litter, along the sunken roads and the hills of western and
northwestern China, the havoc and misery wrought by the "white man's
smoke," the "foreign dust," becomes unpleasantly evident. Some hint of the
meaning of it, a faint impression of the terrible devastation of this
drug--let loose, as it has been, on a backward, poverty-stricken race--is
seared, hour by hour and day by day into his brain.

A terrible drama is now being enacted in the Far East. The Chinese race is
engaged in a fight to a finish with a drug--and the odds are on the drug.



II

THE GOLDEN OPIUM DAYS


In the splendid, golden days of the East India Company, the great Warren
Hastings put himself on record in these frank words:

"Opium is a pernicious article of luxury, which ought not to be permitted
but for the purpose of foreign commerce only." The new traffic promised to
solve the Indian fiscal problem, if skillfully managed; accordingly, the
production and manufacture of opium was made a government monopoly. China,
after all, was a long way off--and Chinamen were only Chinamen. That the
East India Company might be loosing an uncontrollable monster not only on
China but on the world hardly occurred to the great Warren Hastings--the
British chickens might, a century later, come home to roost in Australia
and South Africa was too remote a possibility even for speculative
inquiry.

Now trade supports us, governs us, controls our dependencies, represents
us at foreign courts, carries on our wars, signs our treaties of peace.
Trade, like its symbol the dollar, is neither good nor bad; it has no
patriotism, no morals, no humanity. Its logic applies with the same
relentless force and precision to corn, cotton, rice, wheat, human slaves,
oil, votes, opium. It is the power that drives human affairs; and its law
is the law of the balance sheet. So long as any commodity remains in the
currents of trade the law of trade must reign, the balance sheet must
balance. It is difficult to get a commodity into these currents, but once
you have got the commodity in, you will find it next to impossible to get
it out. There has been more than one prime minister, I fancy, more than
one secretary of state for India, who has wished the opium question in
Jericho. It is not pleasant to answer the moral indignation of the British
empire with the cynical statement that the India government cannot exist
without that opium revenue. Why, oh, why, did not the great Warren
Hastings develop the cotton rather than the opium industry! But the
interesting fact is that he did not. He chose opium, and opium it is.

The India Government Opium Monopoly is an import factor in this
extraordinary story of a debauchery of a third of the human race by the
most nearly Christian among Christian nations. We must understand what it
is and how it works before we can understand the narrative of that greed,
with its attendant smuggling, bribery and bloodshed which has brought the
Chinese empire to its knees. In speaking of it as a "monopoly," I am not
employing a cant word for effect. I am not making a case. That is what it
is officially styled in a certain blue book on my table which bears the
title, "Statement Exhibiting the Moral and Material Progress of India
during the year 1905-6," and which was ordered by the House of Commons, to
be printed, May 10th, 1907.

It is easy, with or without evidence, to charge a great corporation or a
great government with inhuman crimes. If the charge be unjust it is
difficult for the corporation or the government to set itself right before
the people. Six truths cannot overtake one lie. That is why, in this day
of popular rule, the really irresponsible power that makes and unmakes
history lies in the hands of the journalist. As the charge I am bringing
is so serious as to be almost unthinkable, and as I wish to leave no
loophole for the counter-charge that I am colouring this statement, I
think I can do no better than to lift my description of the Opium Monopoly
bodily from that rather ponderous blue book.

There is nothing new in this charge, nothing new in the condition which
invites it. It is rather a commonplace old condition. Millions of men, for
more than a hundred years, have taken it for granted, just as men once
took piracy for granted, just as men once took the African slave-trade for
granted, just as men to-day take the highly organized traffic in
unfortunate women and girls for granted. Ask a Tory political leader of
to-day--Mr. Balfour say--for his opinion on the opium question, and if he
thinks it worth his while to answer you at all he will probably deal
shortly with you for dragging up an absurd bit of fanaticism. For a
century or more, about all the missionaries, and goodness knows how many
other observers, have protested against this monstrous traffic in poison.
Sixty-five years ago Lord Ashley (afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury) agitated
the question in Parliament. Fifty years ago he obtained from the Law
Officers of the Crown the opinion that the opium trade was "at variance"
with the "spirit and intention" of the treaty between England and China.
In 1891, the House of Commons decided by a good majority that "the system
by which the Indian opium revenue is raised is morally indefensible." And
yet, I will venture to believe that to most of my readers, British as well
as American, the bald statement that the British Indian government
actually manufactures opium on a huge scale in its own factories to suit
the Chinese taste comes with the force of a shock. It is not the sort of a
thing we like to think of as among the activities of an Anglo-Saxon
government. It would seem to be government ownership with a vengeance.

Now, to get down to cases, just what this Government Opium Monopoly is,
and just how does it work? An excerpt from the rather ponderous blue book
will tell us. It may be dry, but it is official and unassailable. It is
also short.

"The opium revenue"--thus the blue book--"is partly raised by a monopoly
of the production of the drug in Bengal and the United Provinces, and
partly by the levy of a duty on all opium imported from native states....
In these two provinces, the crop is grown under the control of a
government department, which arranges the total area which is to be placed
under the crop, with a view to the amount of opium required."

So much for the broader outline. Now for a few of the details:

"The cultivator of opium in these monopoly districts receives a license,
and is granted advances to enable him to prepare the land for the crop,
and he is required to deliver the whole of the product at a fixed price to
opium agents, by whom it is dispatched to the government factories at
Patna and Ghazipur."

This money advanced to the cultivator bears no interest. The British
Indian government lends money without interest in no other cases.
Producers of crops other than opium are obliged to get along without free
money.

When it has been manufactured, the opium must be disposed of in one way
and another; accordingly:

"The supply of prepared opium required for consumption in India is made
over to the Excise Department.... The chests of 'provision' opium, for
export, are sold by auction at monthly sales, which take place at
Calcutta." For the meaning of the curious term, "provision opium," we have
only to read on a little further. "The opium is received and prepared at
the government factories, where the out-turn for the year included 8,774
chests of opium for the Excise Department, about 300 pounds of various
opium alkaloids, thirty maunds of medical opium, and 51,770 chests of
provision opium for the Chinese market." There are about 140 pounds in a
chest. Four grains of opium, administered in one dose to a person
unaccustomed to its use, is apt to prove fatal.

Last year the government had under poppy cultivation 654,928 acres. And
the revenue to the treasury, including returns from auction sales, duties,
and license fees, and deducting all "opium expenditures," was nearly
$22,000,000 (£4,486,562).

The best grade of opium-poppy bears a white blossom. One sees mauve and
pink tints in a field, at blossom-time, but only the seeds from the white
flowers are replanted. The opium of commerce is made from the gum obtained
by gashing the green seed pod with a four-bladed knife. After the first
gathering, the pod is gashed a second time, and the gum that exudes makes
an inferior quality of opium. The raw opium from the country districts is
sent down to the government factories in earthenware jars, worked up in
mixing vats, and made into balls about six or eight inches in diameter.
The balls, after a thorough drying on wooden racks, are packed in chests
and sent down to the auction.


[Illustration: KNEADING CRUDE OPIUM WITH OIL TO MAKE ROUND OR FLAT CAKES]

[Illustration: MAKING ROUND CAKES OF OPIUM]


The men who buy in the opium at these monthly auctions and afterwards
dispose of it at the Chinese ports are a curious crowd of Parsees,
Mohammedans, Hindoos, and Asiatic Jews. Few British names appear in the
opium trade to-day. British dignity prefers not to stoop beneath the
taking in of profits; it leaves the details of a dirty business to dirty
hands. This is as it has been from the first. The directors of the East
India Company, years and years before that splendid corporation
relinquished the actual government of India, forbade the sending of its
specially-prepared opium direct to China, and advised a trading station on
the coast whence the drug might find its way, "without the company being
exposed to the disgrace of being engaged in an illicit commerce."

So clean hands and dirty hands went into partnership. They are in
partnership still, save that the most nearly Christian of governments has
officially succeeded the company as party of the first part. And
sixty-five tons of Indian opium go to China every week.

As soon as the shipments of opium have reached Hongkong and Shanghai (I am
quoting now in part from a straightforward account by the Rev. T. G.
Selby), they are broken up and pass in the ordinary courses of trade into
the hands of retail dealers. The opium balls are stripped of the dried
leaves in which they have been packed, torn like paste dumplings into
fragments, put into an iron pan filled with water and boiled over a slow
fire. Various kinds of opium are mixed with each other, and some shops
acquire a reputation for their ingenious and tasteful blends. After the
opium has been boiled to about the consistency of coal tar or molasses, it
is put into jars and sold for daily consumption in quantities ranging from
the fiftieth part of an ounce to four or five ounces. "I am sorry to say,"
observes Mr. Selby, "that the colonial governments of Hongkong and
Singapore, not content with the revenue drawn from this article by the
Anglo-Indian government, have made opium boiling a monopoly of the Crown,
and a large slice of the revenue of these two Eastern dependencies is
secured by selling the exclusive rights to farm this industry to the
highest bidder."

The most Mr. Clean Hands has been able to say for himself is that, "Opium
is a fiscal, not a moral question;" or this, that "In the present state of
the revenue of India, it does not appear advisable to abandon so important
a source of revenue." After all, China is a long way off. So much for Mr.
Clean Hands! His partner, Dirty Hands, is more interesting. It is he who
has "built up the trade." It is he who has carried on the smuggling and
the bribing and knifing and shooting and all-round, strong-arm work which
has made the trade what it is. To be sure, as we get on in this narrative
we shall not always find the distinction between Clean and Dirty so clear
as we would like. Through the dust and smoke and red flame of all that
dirty business along "the Coast" we shall glimpse for an instant or so,
now and then, a face that looks distressingly like the face of old
Respectability himself. I have found myself in momentary bewilderment when
walking through the splendid masonry-lined streets of Hongkong, when
sitting beneath the frescoed ceiling of that pinnacled structure that
houses the most nearly Christian of parliaments, trying to believe that
this opium drama can be real. And I have wondered, and puzzled, until a
smell like the smell of China has come floating to the nostrils of memory;
until a picture of want and disease and misery--of crawling, swarming
human misery unlike anything which the untravelled Western mind can
conceive--has appeared before the eyes of memory. I have thought of those
starving thousands from the famine districts creeping into Chinkiang to
die, of those gaunt, seemed faces along the highroad that runs
southwestward from Peking to Sian-fu; I have thought of a land that knows
no dentistry, no surgery, no hygiene, no scientific medicine, no
sanitation; of a land where the smallpox is a lesser menace beside the
leprosy, plague, tuberculosis, that rage simply at will, and beside
famines so colossal in their sweep, that the overtaxed Western mind simply
refuses to comprehend them. And De Quincey's words have come to me: "What
was it that drove me into the habitual use of opium? Misery--blank
desolation--settled and abiding darkness----?" These words help to clear
it up. China was a wonderful field, ready prepared for the ravages of
opium--none better. The mighty currents of trade did the rest. The
balance sheet reigned supreme as by right. The balance sheet reigns
to-day.

But we must get on with our narrative. I will try to pass it along in the
form in which it has presented itself to me. If Clean and Dirty appear in
closer and more puzzling alliance than we like to see them, I cannot help
that.

It was not easy getting opium, the commodity, into the currents of trade.
There was an obstacle. The Chinese were not an opium-consuming race. They
did not use opium, they did not want opium, they steadily resisted the
inroads of opium. But the rulers of the company were far-seeing men. Tempt
misery long enough and it will take to opium. Two centuries ago when small
quantities of the drug were brought in from Java, the Chinese government
objected. In 1729 the importation was prohibited. As late as 1765, this
importation, carried on by energetic traders in spite of official
resistance, had never exceeded two hundred chests a year. But with the
advent of the company in 1773, the trade grew. In spite of a second
Chinese prohibition in 1796, half-heartedly enforced by corrupt mandarins,
the total for 1820 was 4,000 chests. The Chinese government was faced not
only with the possibility of a race debauchery but also with an immediate
and alarming drain of silver from the country. The balance of the trade
was against them. Either as an economic or moral problem, the situation
was grave.

The smoking of opium began in China and is peculiar to the Chinese. The
Hindoos and Malays eat it. Complicated and wide-spread as the smoking
habit is to-day, it is a modern custom as time runs in China. There seems
to be little doubt in the minds of those Sinologues who have traced the
opium thread back to the tangle of early missionary reports and imperial
edicts, that the habit started either in Formosa or on the mainland across
the Straits, where malaria is common. Opium had been used, generations
before, as a remedy for malaria; and these first smokers seem to have
mixed a little opium with their tobacco, which had been introduced by the
Portuguese in the early seventeenth century. From this beginning, it would
appear, was developed the rather elaborate outfit which the opium-smoker
of to-day considers necessary to his pleasure.

Nothing but solid Anglo-Saxon persistence had enabled the company to
build up the trade. Seven years after their first small adventure, or in
1780, a depot of two small receiving hulks was established in Lark's Bay,
south of Macao. A year later the company freighted a ship to Canton, but
finding no demand were obliged to sell the lot of 1,600 chests at a loss
to Sinqua, a Canton "Hong-merchant," who, not being able to dispose of it
to advantage, reshipped it. The price in that year was $550 (Mexican) a
chest; Sinqua had paid the company only $200, but even at a bargain he
found no market. Meantime, in the words of a "memorandum," prepared by
Joshua Rowntree for the debate in parliament last year, "British merchants
spread the habit up and down the coast; opium store-ships armed as
fortresses were moored at the mouth of the Canton River."

In 1782, the company's supercargoes at Canton wrote to Calcutta: "The
importation of opium being strongly prohibited by the Chinese government,
and a business altogether new to us, it was necessary for us to take our
measures (for disposing of a cargo) with the utmost caution."

This "business altogether new to us" was, of course, plain smuggling. From
the first it had been necessary to arm the smuggling vessels; and as
these grew in number the Chinese sent out an increasing number of armed
revenue junks or cruisers. The traders usually found it possible to buy
off the commanders of the revenue junks, but as this could not be done in
every case it was inevitable that there should be encounters now and then,
with occasional loss of life. These affrays soon became too frequent to be
ignored.

Meantime the British government had succeeded the company in the rule of
India and the control of the far Eastern trade. As this trade was from two
thirds to four-fifths opium, a prohibited article, and as the whole
question of trade was complicated by the fact that China was ignorant of
the greatness and power of the Western nations and did not care to treat
or deal with them in any event, a government trade agent had been sent out
to Canton to look after British interests and in general to fill the
position of a combined consul and unaccredited minister. In the late
1830's this agent, Captain Charles Elliot (successor to Lord Napier, the
first agent), found himself in the delicate position of protecting English
smugglers, who were steadily drawing their country towards war because
the Chinese government was making strong efforts to drive them out of
business. From what Captain Elliot has left on record it is plain that he
was having a bad time of it. In 1837, he wrote to Lord Palmerston of "the
wide-spreading public mischief" arising from "the steady continuance of a
vast, prohibited traffic in an article of vicious luxury," and suggested
that "a gradual check to our own growth and imports would be salutary."
Two years later he wrote that "the Chinese government have a just ground
for harsh measures towards the lawful trade, upon the plea that there is
no distinction between the right and the wrong."

He even said: "No man entertains a deeper detestation of the disgrace and
sin of this forced traffic;" and, "I see little to choose between it and
piracy." But when the war cloud broke, and responsibility for the welfare
of Britain's subjects and trade interests in China devolved upon him, he
compromised. "It does not consort with my station," he wrote, "to sanction
measures of general and undistinguishing violence against His Majesty's
officers and subjects."

It will be interesting before we consider the opium war and its immense
significance in history, to glance over the attitude of the company and
later of its successor, the government, towards the whole miserable
business. The company's board of directors, in 1817, had sent this
dispatch from Calcutta in answer to a question, "Were it possible to
prevent the using of the drug altogether, except strictly for the purpose
of medicine, we would gladly do it in compassion to mankind."

It would be pleasant to believe that the East India Company was sincere in
this ineffective if well-phrased expression of "compassion." The spectacle
of a great corporation in any century giving up a lucrative traffic on
merely human and moral grounds would be illuminating and uplifting. But
unfortunate business corporations are, in their very nature, slaves of the
balance sheet, organized representatives of the mighty laws of trade. I
have already quoted enough evidence to show that the company was not only
awake to the dangers of opium, but that it had deliberately and
painstakingly worked up the traffic. Had there been, then, a change of
heart in the directorate? I fear not. Among the East Indian
correspondence of 1830, this word from the company's governor-general came
to light: "We are taking measures for extending the cultivation of the
poppy, with a view to a larger increase in the supply of opium." And in
this same year, 1830, a House of Commons committee reported that "The
trade, which is altogether contraband, has been largely extended of late
years."

G. H. M. Batten, a formal official of the Indian Civil Service, who
contributed the chapter on opium in Sir John Strachey's work on "India,
its Administration and Progress," has been regarded of late years as one
of the ablest defenders of the whole opium policy. He believes that "The
daily use of opium in moderation is not only harmless but of positive
benefit, and frequently even a necessity of life." This man, seeing little
but good in opium, doubts "if it ever entered into the conception of the
court of directors to suppress in the interests of morality the
cultivation of the poppy."

Perhaps the most striking testimony bearing against the policy of the
company was that given by Robert Inglis, of Canton, a partner in the large
opium-trading firm of Dent & Co., to the Select Committee on China Trade
(House of Commons, 1840). Here it is:

Mr. Inglis.--"I told him (Captain Elliot) that I was sure the thing could
not go on."

Mr. Gladstone.--"How long ago have you told him that you were sure the
thing could not go on?"

Mr. Inglis.--"For four or five years past."

Chairman.--"What gave you that impression?"

Mr. Inglis.--"An immense quantity of opium being forced upon the Chinese
every year, and that in its turn forcing it up the coast in our vessels."

Chairman.--"When you use the words 'forcing it upon them,' do you mean
that they were not voluntary purchasers?"

Mr. Inglis.--"No, but the East India Company were increasing the quantity
of opium almost every year, without reference to the demand in China; that
is to say, there was always an immense supply of opium in China, and the
company still kept increasing the quantity at lower prices."

Three years later, just after the war, Sir George Staunton, speaking from
experience as a British official in the East, said in the House of
Commons, "I never denied the fact that if there had been no opium
smuggling there would have been no war.

"Even if the opium habit had been permitted to run its natural course, if
it had not received an extraordinary impulse from the measures taken by
the East India Company to promote its growth, which almost quadrupled the
supply, I believe it would never have created that extraordinary alarm in
the Chinese authorities which betrayed them into the adoption of a sort of
_coup d' etât_ for its suppression."

Sir William Muir, some time lieutenant-governor of the Northwest Provinces
of India, is on record thus: "By increasing its supply of 'provision'
opium, it (the Bengal government) has repeatedly caused a glut in the
Chinese market, a collapse of prices in India, an extensive bankruptcy and
misery in Malwa."

The most interesting summing-up of the whole question I have seen is from
the pen of Sir Arthur Cotton, who wrote after sixty years' experience in
Indian affairs, protesting against "continuing this trading upon the sins
and miseries of the greatest nation in the world in respect of
population, on the ground of our needing the money."

What was China doing to protect herself from these aggressions? The
British merchants and the British trade agent had by this time worked into
the good-will of the Chinese merchants and the corrupt mandarins, and had
finally established their residence at Canton and their depot of
store-ships at Whampoa, a short journey down the river. In 1839 there were
about 20,000 chests of opium stored in these hulks. In that same year the
Chinese emperor sent a powerful and able official named Lin Tse-hsu from
Peking to Canton with orders to put down the traffic at any cost.
Commissioner Lin was a man of unusual force. He perfectly understood the
situation in so far as it concerned China. He had his orders. He knew what
they meant. He proposed to put them into effect. There was only one
important consideration which he seems to have overlooked--it was that
India "needed the money." His proposal that the foreign agents deliver up
their stores of "the prohibited article" did not meet with an immediate
response. The traders had not the slightest notion of yielding up 20,000
chests of opium, worth, at that time, $300 a chest. Lin's appeals to the
most nearly Christian of queens, were no more successful. He did not seem
to understand that China was a long way off; it was very close to him.
Here is a translation of what he had to say. To our eyes to-day, it seems
fairly intelligent, even reasonable:

"Though not making use of it one's self, to venture on the manufacture and
sale of it (opium) and with it to seduce the simple folk of this land is
to seek one's own livelihood by the exposure of others to death. Such acts
are bitterly abhorrent to the nature of man and are utterly opposed to the
ways of heaven. We would now then concert with your 'Hon. Sovereignty'
means to bring a perpetual end to this opium traffic so hurtful to
mankind, we in this land forbidding the use of it and you in the nations
under your dominion forbidding its manufacture."

Her "Hon. Sovereignty," if she ever saw this appeal (which may be
doubted), neglected to reply. Meeting with small consideration from the
traders, as from their sovereign, Commissioner Lin set about carrying out
his orders. There was an admirable thoroughness in his methods. He
surrounded the residence of the traders, Captain Elliot's among them,
with an army of howling, drum-beating Chinese soldiers, and again proposed
that they deliver up those 20,000 chests. Now, the avenues of trade do not
lead to martyrdom. Traders rarely die for their principles--they prefer
living for them. The 20,000 chests were delivered up, with a rapidity that
was almost haste; and the merchants, under the leadership of the agent,
withdrew to the doubtful shelter of their own guns, down the river.
Commissioner Lin, still with that exasperatingly thorough air, mixed the
masses of opium with lime and emptied it into the sea. England, her
dignity outraged, hurt at her tenderest point, sent out ships, men and
money. She seized port after port; bombarded and took Canton; swept
victoriously up the Yangtse, and by blocking the Grand Canal at Chinkiang
interrupted the procession of tribute junks sailing up the Peking and thus
cut off an important source of the Chinese imperial revenue. This resulted
in the treaty of Nanking, in 1843, which was negotiated by the British
government by Sir Henry Pottinger.

Sir Henry, like Commissioner Lin, had his orders. His methods, like Lin's,
were admirable in their thoroughness. He secured the following terms from
the crestfallen Chinese government: 1. There was to be a "lasting peace"
between the two nations. 2. Canton, Amoy, Foochou, Ningpo, and Shanghai
were to be open as "treaty ports." 3. The Island of Hongkong was to be
ceded to Great Britain. 4. An indemnity of $21,000,000 was to be paid,
$6,000,000 as the value of the opium destroyed, $3,000,000 for the
destruction of the property of British subjects, and $12,000,000 for the
expenses of the war. It was further understood that the British were to
hold the places they had seized until these and a number of other
humiliating conditions were to be fulfilled. Thus was the energy and
persistence of the opium smugglers rewarded. Thus began that partition of
China which has been going on ever since. It is difficult to be a
Christian when far from home.

It is difficult to get an admission even to-day, from a thorough-going
British trader, that opium had anything to do with the war of 1840-43. He
is likely to insist either that the war was caused by the refusal of
Chinese officials to admit English representatives on terms of equality,
or that it was caused by "the stopping of trade." There was, indeed, a
touch of the naively Oriental in the attitude of China. To the Chinese
official mind, China was the greatest of nations, occupying something like
five-sixths of the huge flat disc called the world. England, Holland,
Spain, France, Portugal, and Japan were small islands crowded in between
the edge of China and the rim of the disc. That these small nations should
wish to trade with "the Middle Kingdom" and to bring tribute to the "Son
of Heaven," was not unnatural. But that the "Son of Heaven" must admit
them whether he liked or not, and as equals, was preposterous. Stripping
these notions of their quaint Orientalism, they boiled down to the simple
principle that China recognized no law of earth or heaven which could
force her to admit foreign traders, foreign ministers, or foreign
religions if she preferred to live by herself and mind her own business.
That China has minded her own business and does mind her own business is,
I think, indisputable.

The notions which animated the English were equally simple. Stripped of
their quaint Occidental shell of religion and respectability and theories
of personal liberty, they seem to boil down to about this--that China was
a great and undeveloped market and therefore the trading nations had a
right to trade with her willy-nilly, and any effective attempt to stop
this trade was, in some vague way, an infringement of their rights as
trading nations. In maintaining this theory, it is necessary for us to
forget that opium, though a "commodity," was an admittedly vicious and
contraband commodity, to be used "for purposes of foreign commerce only."

In providing that there should be a "lasting peace" between the two
nations, it was probably the idea to insure British traders against
attack, or rather to provide a technical excuse for reprisals in case of
such attacks. But for some reason nothing whatever was said about opium in
the treaty. Now opium was more than ever the chief of the trade. England
had not the slightest notion of giving it up; on the contrary, opium
shipments were increased and the smuggling was developed to an
extraordinary extent. How a "lasting peace" was to be maintained while
opium, the cause of all the trouble, was still unrecognized by either
government as a legitimate commodity, while, indeed, the Chinese, however
chastened and humiliated, were still making desperate if indirect efforts
to keep it out of the country and the English were making strong efforts
to get it into the country, is a problem I leave to subtler minds. The
upshot was, of course, that the "lasting peace" did not last. Within
fifteen years there was another war. By the second treaty (that of
Tientsin, 1858) Britain secured 4,000,000 taels of indemnity money (about
$3,000,000), the opening of five more treaty ports, toleration for the
Christian religion, and the admission of opium under a specified tariff.
The Tientsin Treaty legalized Christianity and opium. China had defied the
laws of trade, and had learned her lesson. It had been a costly
lesson--$24,000,000 in money, thousands of lives, the fixing on the race
of a soul-blighting vice, the loss of some of her best seaports, more, the
loss of her independence as a nation--but she had learned it. And
therefore, except for a crazy outburst now and then as the foreign grip
grew tighter, she was to submit.

But China's trouble was not over. If she was to be debauched whether or
no, must she also be ruined financially? There were the indemnity payments
to meet, with interest; and no way of meeting them other than to squeeze
tighter a poverty-stricken nation which was growing more poverty-stricken
as her silver drained steadily off to the foreigners. There was a solution
to the problem--a simple one. It was to permit the growth of opium in
China itself, supplant the Indian trade, keep the silver at home. But
China was slow to adopt this solution. It might solve the fiscal problem;
but incidentally it might wreck China. She sounded England on the
subject,--once, twice. There seemed to have been some idea that England,
convinced that China had her own possibility of crowding out the Indian
drug, might, after all, give up the trade, stop the production in India,
and make the great step unnecessary. But England could not see it in that
light. China wavered, then took the great step. The restrictions on
opium-growing were removed. This was probably a mistake, though opinions
still differ about that. To the men who stood responsible for a solution
of Chinese fiscal problem it doubtless seemed necessary. At all events,
the last barrier between China and ruin was removed by the Chinese
themselves. And within less than half a century after the native growth of
the poppy began, the white and pink and mauve blossoms have spread across
the great empire, north and south, east and west, until to-day, in
blossom-time almost every part of every province has its white and mauve
patches. You may see them in Manchuria, on the edge of the great desert of
Gobi, within a dozen miles of Peking; you may see them from the headwaters
of the mighty Yangtse to its mouth, up and down the coast for two thousand
miles, on the distant borders of Thibet.

No one knows how much opium was grown in China last year. There are
estimates--official, missionary, consular; and they disagree by thousands
and tens of thousands of tons. But it is known that where the delicate
poppy is reared, it demands and receives the best land. It thrives in the
rich river-bottoms. It has crowded out grain and vegetables wherever it
has spread, and has thus become a contributing factor to famines. Its
product, opium, has run over China like a black wave, leaving behind it a
misery, a darkness, a desolation that has struck even the Chinese, even
its victims, with horror. China has passed from misery to disaster. And as
if the laws of trade had chosen to turn capriciously from their inexorable
business and wreak a grim joke on a prostrate race, the solution, the
great step, has failed in its purpose. The trade in Indian opium has been
hurt, to be sure, but not supplanted. It will never be supplanted until
the British government deliberately puts it down. For the Chinese cannot
raise opium which competes in quality with the Indian drug. Indian opium
is in steady demand for the purpose of mixing with Chinese opium. No
duties can keep it out; duties simply increase the cost to the Chinese
consumer, simply ruin him a bit more rapidly. So authoritative an expert
as Sir Robert Hart, director of the Chinese imperial customs, had hoped
that the great step would prove effective. In "These from the Land of
Sinim" he has expressed his hope:

"Your legalized opium has been a cure in every province it penetrates, and
your refusal to limit or decrease the import has forced us to attempt a
dangerous remedy--legalized native opium--not because we approve of it,
but to compete with and drive out the foreign drug; and it is expelling
it, and when we have only the native production to deal with, and thus
have the business in our own hands, we hope to stop the habit in our own
way."

The great step has failed. Indian opium has not been expelled. For the
Chinese to put down the native drug without stopping the import is
impossible as well as useless. The Chinese seem determined, in one way or
another, to put down both. Once, again, after a weary century of struggle,
they have approached the British government. Once again the British
government has been driven from the Scylla of healthy Anglo-Saxon moral
indignation to the Charybdis behind that illuminating phrase--"India needs
the money." Twenty million dollars is a good deal of money. The balance
sheet reigns; and the balance sheet is an exacting ruler, even if it has
triumphed over common decency, over common morality, over common humanity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Will you ride with me (by rickshaw) along the International Bund at
Shanghai--beyond the German Club and the Hongkong Bank--over the little
bridge that leads to Frenchtown--past a half mile of warehouses and
chanting coolies and big yellow Hankow steamers--until we turn out on the
French Bund? It is a raw, cloudy, March morning; the vendors of queer
edibles who line the curbing find it warmer to keep their hands inside
their quilted sleeves.


[Illustration: AN OPIUM RECEIVING SHIP OR "GODOWN" AT SHANGHAI The
Imported Indian Opium is Stored in These Ships Until it Passes the Chinese
Imperial Customs]

[Illustration: THE OPIUM HULKS OF SHANGHAI "They Symbolize China's
Degredation"]


It is a lively day on the river. Admiral Brownson's fleet of white
cruisers lie at anchor in midstream. A lead-gray British cruiser swings
below them, an anachronistic Chinese gunboat lower still. Big black
merchantmen fill in the view--a P. and O. ship is taking on coal--a
two-hundred-ton junk with red sails moves by. Nearer at hand, from the
stone quay outward, the river front is crowded close with sampans and
junks, rows on rows of them, each with its round little house of yellow
matting, each with its swarm of brown children, each with its own pungent
contribution to the all-pervasive odour. Gaze out through the forests of
masts, if you please, and you will see two old hulks, roofed with what
looks suspiciously like shingles, at anchor beyond. They might be ancient
men-of-war, pensioned off to honourable decay. You can see the square
outline of what once were portholes, boarded up now. The carved, wooden
figure-heads at the prow of each are chipped and blackened with age and
weather. What are they and why do they lie here in mid-channel, where
commerce surges about them?

These are the opium hulks of Shanghai. In them is stored the opium which
the government of British India has grown and manufactured for consumption
in China. They symbolize China's degradation.



III

A GLIMPSE INTO AN OPIUM PROVINCE


The opium provinces of China--that is, the provinces which have been most
nearly completely ruined by opium--lie well back in the interior. They
cover, roughly, an area 1,200 miles long by half as wide, say about
one-third the area of the United States; and they support, after a
fashion, a population of about 160,000,000. There had been plenty of
evidence obtainable at Shanghai, Hankow, Peking, and Tientsin, of the
terrible ravages of opium in these regions, but it seemed advisable to
make a journey into one of these unfortunate provinces and view the
problem at short range. The nearest and most accessible was Shansi
Province. It lies to the west and southwest of Peking, behind the blue
mountains which one sees from the Hankow-Peking Railroad. There seemed to
be no doubt that the opium curse could there be seen at its worst.
Everybody said so--legation officials, attachés, merchants, missionaries.
Dr. Piell, of the London Mission hospital at Peking, estimated that ninety
per cent. of the men, women, and children in Shansi smoke opium. He called
in one of his native medical assistants, who happened to be a Shansi man,
and the assistant observed, with a smile, that ninety per cent. seemed
pretty low as an estimate. Another point in Shansi's favour was that the
railroads were pushing rapidly through to T'ai Tuan-fu, the capital (and
one of the oldest cities in oldest China). So I picked up an interpreter
at the _Grand Hotel des Wagon-lits_, and went out there.


[Illustration: THE VILLAGES WERE LITTLE MORE THAN HEAPS OF RUINS These
Holes in the Ground are Occupied by Formerly Well-to-do Opium Smokers]

[Illustration: AT LAST HE CRAWLS OUT ON THE HIGHWAY, WHINING, CHATTERING
AND PRAYING THAT A FEW COPPER CASH BE THROWN TO HIM]


The new Shansi railroad was not completed through to Tai-Yuan-fu, the
provincial capital, and it was necessary to journey for several days by
cart and mule-litter. While this sort of travelling is not the most
comfortable in the world, it has the advantage of bringing one close to
the life that swarms along the highroad, and of making it easier to gather
facts and impressions.

Every hour or so, as the cart crawls slowly along, you come upon a dusty
gray village nestling in a hollow or clinging to the hillside. And nearly
every village is a little more than a heap of ruins. I was prepared to
find ruins, but not to such an extent. When I first drew John, the
interpreter's, attention to them, he said, "Too much years." As an
explanation this was not satisfactory, because many of the ruined
buildings were comparatively new--certainly, too new to fall to pieces. At
the second village John made another guess at the cause of such complete
disaster. "Poor--too poor," he said, and then traced it back to the last
famine, about which, he found, the peasants were still talking. "Whole lot
o' mens die," he explained. It was later on that I got at the main
contributing cause of the wreck and ruin which one finds almost everywhere
in Shansi Province, after I had picked up, through John and his cook, the
roadside gossip of many days during two or three hundred miles of travel,
after I had talked with missionaries of life-long experience, with
physicians who are devoting their lives to work among these misery-ridden
people, with merchants, travellers, and Chinese and Manchu officials.

Before we take up in detail the ravages of opium throughout this and other
provinces, I wish to say a word about one source of information, which
every observer of conditions in China finds, sooner or later, that he is
forced to employ. Along the China coast one hears a good deal of talk
about the "missionary question." Many of the foreign merchants abuse the
missionaries. I will confess that the "anti-missionary" side had been so
often and so forcibly presented to me that before I got away from the
coast I unconsciously shared the prejudice. But now, brushing aside the
exceptional men on both sides of the controversy, and ignoring for the
moment the deeper significance of it, let me give the situation as it
presented itself to me before I left China.

There are many foreign merchants who study the language, travel
extensively, and speak with authority on things Chinese. But the typical
merchant of the treaty port, that is, the merchant whom one hears so
loudly abusing the missionaries, does not speak the language. He transacts
most of his business through his Chinese "_Compradore_," and apparently
divides the chief of his time between the club, the race-track, and
various other places of amusement. This sort of merchant is the kind most
in evidence, and it is he who contributes most largely to the
anti-missionary feeling "back home." The missionaries, on the other hand,
almost to a man, speak, read, and write one or more native dialects. They
live among the Chinese, and, in order to carry on their work at all, they
must be continually studying the traditions, customs, and prejudices of
their neighbours. In almost every instance the missionaries who supplied
me with information were more conservative than the British and American
diplomatic, consular, military, and medical observers who have travelled
in the opium provinces. I have since come to the conclusion that the
missionaries are over-conservative on the opium question, probably
because, being constantly under fire as "fanatics" and "enthusiasts," they
unconsciously lean too far towards the side of under-statement. The
published estimates of Dr. Du Bose, of Soochow, president of the
Anti-opium League, are much more conservative than those of Mr. Alex
Hosie, the British commercial _attaché_ and former consul-general. Dr.
Parker, of Shanghai, the gentlemen of the London Mission, the American
Board, and the American Presbyterian Missions at Peking, scores of other
missionaries whom I saw in their homes in the interior or at the
missionary conference at Shanghai, and Messrs. Gaily, Robertson, and
Lewis, of the International Young Men's Christian Association, all
impressed me as men whose opinions were based on information and not on
prejudice. Dr. Morrison, the able Peking correspondent of the London
_Times_, said to me when I arrived at the capital, "You ought to talk with
the missionaries." I did talk with them, and among many different sources
of information I found them worthy of the most serious consideration.

The phrase, "opium province," means, in China, that an entire province
(which, in extent and in political outline, may be roughly compared to one
of the United States) has been ravaged and desolated by opium. It means
that all classes, all ages, both sexes, are sodden with the drug; that all
the richer soil, which in such densely-populated regions, is absolutely
needed for the production of food, is given over to the poppy; that the
manufacture of opium, of pipes, of lamps, and of the various other
accessories, has become a dominating industry; that families are wrecked,
that merchants lose their acumen, and labourers their energy; that after a
period of wide-spread debauchery and enervation, economic, as well as
moral and physical disaster, settles down over the entire region. The
population of these opium provinces ranges from fifteen or twenty million
to eighty million.

"In Shansi," I have quoted an official as saying, "everybody smokes
opium." Another cynical observer has said that "eleven out of ten Shansi
men are opium-smokers." In one village an English traveller asked some
natives how many of the inhabitants smoked opium, and one replied,
indicating a twelve-year-old child, "That boy doesn't." Still another
observer, an English scientist, who was born in Shansi, who speaks the
dialect as well as he speaks English, and who travels widely through the
remoter regions in search of rare birds and animals, puts the proportion
of smokers as low as seventy-five per cent. of the total population. I had
some talks with this man at T'ai Yuan-fu, and later at Tientsin, and I
found his information so precise and so interesting that I asked him one
day to dictate to a stenographer some random observations on the opium
problem in Shansi. These few paragraphs make up a very small part of what
I have heard him and others say, but they are so grimly picturesque, and
they give so accurately the sense of the mass of notes and interviews
which fill my journal of the Shansi trip, that it has seemed to me I could
do no better than to print them just as he talked them off on that
particular day at Tientsin.

"The opium-growers always take the best piece of land," he said, "in their
land--the best fertilized, and with the most water upon it. They find that
it pays them a great deal better than growing wheat or anything else.
Around Chao Cheng, especially, they grow opium to a large extent just
beside the rivers, where they can get plenty of water. The seeds are sown
about the beginning of May, and they have to be transplanted. It takes
until about the middle of July before the opium ripens. Just before it is
ripe men are employed to cut the seed pods, when a white sap exudes, and
this dries upon the pod and turns brown, and in about a week after it has
been cut they come around and scrape it off. The wages are from twenty to
thirty cents (Mexican) per day. Men and women are employed in the work.
The heads of the poppy are all cut off, when they are dried and stored
away for the seed of the next year.

"It is a very fragile crop, and until it gets to be nine inches high it is
very easily broken. The full-grown poppy plant is from three to four feet
high. The Chao Cheng opium is considered the best.

"In the Chao Cheng district the people have been more or less ruined by
opium. I have heard of a family, a man and his wife, who had only one suit
of clothes between them.

"In Taiku there is a large family by the name of Meng, perhaps the
wealthiest family in the province of Shansi. For the past few years they
have been steadily going down, simply from the fact that the heads of the
family have become opium-smokers. In Taiku there is a large fair held each
year, and all the old bronzes, porcelains, furniture, etc., that this
family possesses are sold. Last year enough of their possessions were on
sale to stock ten or twelve small shops at the fair.

"Another man, a rich man in Jen Tsuen, possessed a fine summer residence
previous to 1900. This residence contained several large houses and some
fine trees and shrubs, but during the last seven years he has taken to
opium and has been steadily going down. He has been selling out this
residence, pulling down the houses and cutting down the trees, and selling
the wood and old bricks. He is now a beggar in the streets of Jen Tsuen.

"All through the hills west of Tai Yuan-fu the peasants are addicted to
the use of opium. About seventy per cent. of the population take opium in
one form or another. I was speaking to a number of them who had come into
an inn at which I was stopping. I asked them if they wanted to give up the
use of opium. They said yes, but that they had not the means to do so.
Everybody would like to give it up. The women smoke, as well as the men.

"The smoker does not trouble himself to plant seeds, nor to go out.

"The houses in Shansi are very good; in fact, they are better than in
other provinces, but they are rapidly going to ruin owing to the excessive
smoking of opium, and wherever one goes the ruins are seen on every side.
On the roads the people can get a little money by selling things, but off
the main roads the distress is worse than anywhere else.

"Up in the hills I stopped at a village and inquired if they had any food
for sale, and they told me that they had nothing but frozen potatoes. So I
asked to be shown those, and I went into one of the hovels and found
little potatoes, perhaps one-half an inch across, frozen, and all strewn
over the _kang_ (the brick bed), where they were drying. As soon as they
were dry, they were to be ground down into a meal of which dumplings were
made, and these were steamed. That was their only diet, and had been for
the past month. They had no money at all. What money they had possessed
had been spent on opium, and they could not expect anything to make up the
crop of potatoes the following autumn. I noticed in a basin a few dried
sticks, and I asked what they were for, and the man told me they were the
sticks taken from the sieve through which the opium was filtered for
purification. These sticks are soaked in hot water, and the water, which
contains a little opium, is drunk. They were using this in place of opium.
I gave this man twenty cents, and the next day when I returned he was
enjoying a pipe of opium.

"While passing through an iron-smelting village I noticed that the
blacksmiths who beat up the pig iron were regular living skeletons. They
work from about five in the morning until about five in the evening,
stopping twice during that time for meals. When they leave off in the
evening, after a hasty meal they start with their pipes and go on until
they are asleep. I do not know how these men can work. I presume that it
was the hard work that made them take to opium-smoking.

"On asking people why they had taken to the drug, they invariably replied
that it was for the cure of a pain of some sort--for relieving the
suffering. The women often take to it after childbirth, and this is
generally what starts them to smoking.

"The wealthier men who smoke opium nearly all day cannot enter another
room until this room has first been filled with the fumes of opium. Some
one has to go into the room first and smoke a few pipes, so that the air
of the room may be in proper condition.

"There was an official in Shau-ying who used to keep six slave girls going
all day filling his pipes. The slave girls and brides very often try to
commit suicide by eating opium, owing to the harsh treatment they
receive."

Everywhere along the highroad and in the cities and villages of Shansi you
see the opium face. The opium-smoker, like the opium-eater, rapidly loses
flesh when the habit has fixed itself on him. The colour leaves his skin,
and it becomes dry, like parchment. His eye loses whatever light and
sparkle it may have had, and becomes dull and listless. The opium face has
been best described as a "peculiarly withered and blasted countenance."
With this face is usually associated a thin body and a languid gait. Opium
gets such a powerful grip on a confirmed smoker that it is usually unsafe
for him to give up the habit without medical aid. His appetite is taken
away, his digestion is impaired, there is congestion of the various
internal organs, and congestion of the lungs. Constipation and diarrhoea
result, with pain all over the body. By the time he has reached this
stage, the smoker has become both physically and mentally weak and
inactive. With his intellect deadened, his physical and moral sense
impaired, he sinks into laziness, immorality, and debauchery. He has lost
his power of resistance to disease, and becomes predisposed to colds,
bronchitis, diarrhoea, dysentery, and dyspepsia. Brigade Surgeon J. H.
Condon, M. D., M. R. C. S., speaking of opium-eaters before the Royal
Commission on Opium, said: "They become emaciated and debilitated,
miserable-looking wretches, and finally die, most commonly of diarrhoea
induced by the use of opium."

When a man has got himself into this condition, he must have opium, and
must have it all the time. I have already pointed out that opium-smoking
not only is perhaps the most expensive of the vices, but that, unlike
opium-eating, it consumes an immense amount of time. Few smokers can keep
slaves to fill their pipes for them, like that wealthy official at
Shau-ying. It takes a seasoned smoker from fifteen minutes to half an hour
to prepare a pipe to his satisfaction, smoke it, and rouse himself to
begin the operation again. If he smokes ten or twenty pipes a day, which
is common, and then sleeps off the effects, it is not hard to figure out
the number of hours left for business each day. When he has slept, and the
day is well started, his body at once begins to clamour for more opium. He
must begin smoking again, or he will suffer an agony of physical and
mental torture. His ten to twenty pipes a day will cost him from fifty
cents or a dollar (if he is a poor man and smokes the scrapings from the
rich man's pipe), to ten or twenty dollars (or more, if he smokes a high
grade of opium). I learned of many wealthy merchants and officials who
smoke from forty to sixty pipes a day.

It is just at this period, when the smoker is so enslaved by the drug that
he has lost his earning power, that his opium expenditure increases most
rapidly. He is buying opium now, not so much to gratify his selfish vice,
as to keep himself alive. He becomes frantic for opium. He will sell
anything he has to buy the stuff. His moral sense is destroyed. A
diseased, decrepit, insane being, he forgets even his family. He sells his
bric-a-brac, his pictures, his furniture. He sells his daughters, even his
wife, if she has attractions, as slaves to rich men. He tears his house to
pieces, sells the tiles of his roof, the bricks of his walls, the woodwork
about his doors and windows. He cuts down the trees in his yard and sells
the wood. And at last he crawls out on the highway, digs himself a cave in
the loess (if he has strength enough), and prostrates himself before the
camel and donkey drivers, whining, chattering, praying that a few copper
cash be thrown to him.

Since there are no statistics in China, I can give the reader only the
observations and impressions of a traveller. But Shansi Province is full
of ruins. So are Szechuan and Yunnan and Kuei-chow, and half a dozen
others. It is with the province as a whole much as it is with the
individuals of that province. The raising of opium to supply this enormous
demand crowds off the land the grains and vegetables that are absolutely
needed for human food. The manufacture of opium and its accessories
absorbs the energy and capital that should go into legitimate industry.
The government of the province and the government of the empire have
become so dependent on the immense revenue from the taxation of this
"vicious article of luxury" that they dare not give it up. In the body
politic an unhealthy condition not only exists, but also controls.
Drifting into it half-consciously, the province has been sapped by a
vicious economic habit. That is what is the matter with Shansi. That is
what is the matter with China. All the way along my route in Shansi I
photographed the ruins that typify the disaster which has overtaken this
opium province. And a few of these photographs are reproduced here, all
showing houses of men who were well-to-do only a few years ago. It will be
plainly seen from the cuts, I think, that these ruins are not the result
of age. The sun-dried bricks of the walls show few signs of crumbling.
The walls themselves are not weather-beaten, and have evidently been
destroyed by the hand of man, and not by time.


[Illustration: WRECK AND RUIN IN CHINA These Houses were Torn Down by
their Owners, the Woodwork and Bricks Sold, and the Money Used to Purchase
Opium]



IV

CHINA'S SINCERITY


China is the land of paradox. If it is an absolute, despotic monarchy, it
is also a very democratic country, with its self-made men, its powerful
public opinion, and a "states' rights" question of its own. It is one of
the most corrupt of nations; on the other hand, the standard of personal
and commercial honesty is probably higher in China than in any other
country in the world. Woman, in China, is made to serve; her status is so
low that it would be a discourtesy even to ask a man if he has a daughter:
yet the ablest ruler China has had in many centuries is a woman. It is a
land where the women wear socks and trousers, and the men wear stockings
and robes; where a man shakes his own hand, not yours; where white, not
black, is a sign of mourning; where the compass points south, not north;
where books are read backward, not forward; where names and titles are put
in reverse order, as in our directories--Theodore Roosevelt would be
Roosevelt Theodore in China, Uncle Sam would be Sam Uncle; where fractions
are written upside down, as 8/5, not 5/8; where a bride wails bitterly as
she is carried to her wedding, and a man laughs when he tells you of his
mother's death.

Chinese life, or the phases of it that you see along the highroads of the
northwest, would appear to be a very simple, honest life, industrious,
methodical, patient in poverty. The men, even of the lowest classes, are
courteous to a degree that would shame a Frenchman. I have seen my two
soldiers, who earned ten or twenty cents, Mexican, a day, greet my cook
with such grace and charm of manner that I felt like a crude barbarian as
I watched them. The simplicity and industry of this life, as it presented
itself to me, seemed directly opposed to any violence or outrage. Yet only
seven years ago Shansi Province was the scene of one of the most atrocious
massacres in history, modern or ancient. During a few weeks, in the summer
of 1900, one hundred and fifty-nine white foreigners, men, women, and
children, were killed within the province, forty-six of them in the city
of T'ai Yuan-fu. The massacre completely wiped out the mission churches
and schools and the opium refuges, the only missionaries who escaped being
those who happened to be away on leave at the time. The attack was not
directed at the missionaries as such, but at the foreigners in general. It
was widely believed among the peasantry that the foreign devils made a
practice of cutting out the eyes, tongues, and various other organs of
children and women and shipping them, for some diabolical purpose, out of
the country. The slaughter was directed, from beginning to end, by the
rabid Manchu governor, Yü Hsien, and some of the butchering was done by
soldiers under his personal command. But the interesting fact is that the
docile, long-suffering people of Shansi did some butchering on their own
account, as soon as the word was passed around that no questions would be
asked by the officials.

Apparently, the Shansi peasant can be at one time simple, industrious,
loyal, and at another time a slaying, ravishing maniac. The Chinaman
himself is the greatest paradox of all. He is the product of a
civilization which sprang from a germ and has developed in a soil and
environment different from anything within our Western range of
experience. Naturally he does not see human relations as we see them. His
habits and customs are enough different from ours to appear bizarre to us;
but they are no more than surface evidences of the difference between his
mind and ours. Thanks to our strong racial instinct, we can be fairly
certain of what an Anglo-Saxon, or even a European, will think in certain
deeply human circumstances--in the presence of death, for instance. We
cannot hope to understand the mental processes of a Chinaman. There is too
great a difference in the shape of our heads, as there is in the texture
of our traditions.

But we can see quite clearly that the imperial government of China is,
while it endures, a strong and effective government. It is significant
that the Chinese people rarely indulge in massacres on their own account.
Why not? The hatred of foreigners must be always there, under the placid
surface, for these people rarely fail to turn into slaying demons once the
officials let the word be passed around. There have been thirty-five
serious anti-foreign riots and massacres in China within thirty-five
years, besides the Boxer uprising of 1900; and among these there was
probably not one which the mandarins could not have suppressed had they
wished. The Boxer trouble was worked up by Yü Hsien while he was governor
of Shantung Province. When the foreign powers protested he was transferred
to Shansi, which had scarcely heard of the Boxer Society, and almost at
once there was a "Boxer" outbreak and massacre in Shansi. The Peking
government meanwhile carried on Yü Hsien's horrible work at Peking and
Tientsin. The siege of the legations at Peking was conducted by imperial
soldiers, not by mobs. During all the trouble of that bloody summer, Yuan
Shi K'ai, who succeeded to the governorship in Shantung, seemed to have no
difficulty in keeping that province quiet, though it was the scene of the
original trouble.

Chang Chi Tung, "the great viceroy," subdued the Upper Yangtse provinces
with a firm hand, though the Boxer difficulty there was complicated by the
ever-seething revolution. In a word, the officials in China seem perfectly
able to control their populace and protect foreigners. As Dr. Ferguson, of
Shanghai, put it to me, "No other government in the world can so
effectively enforce a law as the Chinese government--when they want to!"

You soon learn, in China, that you can trust a Chinaman to carry through
anything he agrees to do for you. When I reached T'ai Yuan-fu I handed my
interpreter a Chinese draft for $200 (Mexican), payable to bearer, and
told him to go to the bank and bring back the money. I had known John a
little over a week; yet any one who knows China will understand that I was
running no appreciable risk. The individual Chinaman is simply a part of a
family, the family is part of a neighbourhood, the neighbourhood is part
of a village or district, and so on. In all its relations with the central
government, the province is responsible for the affairs of its larger
districts, these for the smaller districts, the smaller districts for the
villages, the villages for the neighbourhoods, the neighbourhoods for the
family, the family for the individual. If John had disappeared with my
money after cashing the draft, and had afterwards been caught, punishment
would have been swift and severe. Very likely he would have lost his head.
If the authorities had been unable to find John, they would have punished
his family. Punishment would surely have fallen on somebody.

The real effect of this system, continued as it has been through
unnumbered centuries, has naturally been to develop a clear, keen sense
of personal responsibility. For, whatever may occur, somebody is
responsible. The family, in order to protect itself, trains its
individuals to live up to their promises, or else not to make promises.
The neighbourhood, well knowing that it will be held accountable for its
units, watches them with a close eye. When a new family comes into a
neighbourhood, the neighbours crowd about and ask questions which are not,
in view of the facts, so impertinent as they might sound. Indeed, this
sense of family and neighbourhood accountability is so deeply rooted that
it is not uncommon, on the failure of a merchant to meet his obligations,
for his family and friends to step forward and help him to settle his
accounts. It is the only way in which they can clear themselves.

All these evidences would seem to indicate that the Chinese people, on the
one hand, have an innate fear of and respect for their government and
their law, such as they are; and that the government, on the other hand,
is, in the matter of enforcing the traditional law, one of the most
powerful governments on earth. None but an exceedingly well-organized
government could deliberately incite its people to repeated riots and
massacres without losing control of them. The Chinese government has
seemed to have not the slightest difficulty in keeping the people
quiet--when it wanted to. The story of Shantung Province makes this clear.
It was driven into what appeared to be anarchy by a rabid governor. But
only a few months later this governor's successor had little difficulty in
keeping the entire province in almost perfect order while the adjoining
province was actually at war with the allied powers of the world and was
overrun with foreign troops. No; a government which has within it the
power, on occasion, to carry through such an achievement as this, can
hardly be called weak.

We begin, then, by admitting that the Chinese government has the strength
and the organization necessary to carry out any ordinary reform--if it
wants to. The putting down of the opium evil is, of course, no ordinary
reform. It is an undertaking so colossal and so desperate that it staggers
imagination, as I trust I have made plain in the preceding articles. But
setting aside, for the moment, our doubts as to whether or not the Chinese
government, or any other government on earth, could hope to check so
insidious and pervading an evil, we have to consider other doubts which
arise from even a slight acquaintance with that puzzling organism, the
Chinese official mind. If the Chinese business man is, as many think, the
most honest and straightforward business man on earth, the Chinese
official, or mandarin, is about the most subtle and bewildering. His
duplicity is simply beyond our understanding. He has a bland and childish
smile, but his ways are peculiar. Most of us know that our own state
department has a neat little custom of issuing letters to travellers
ordering our diplomatic and consular representatives abroad to extend
special courtesies, and sending, at the same time, a notice to these same
representatives advising them to take no notice of the letters. In Chinese
diplomacy everything is done in this way, but very much more so. Documents
issued by the Chinese government usually bear about the same relation to
any existing facts or intentions as a Thanksgiving proclamation does. You
must be very astute, indeed, to perceive from the speech, manner, or
writing of a mandarin what he is really getting at. Motive underlies
motive; self-interest lies deeper still; and the base of it all is an
Oriental conception of life and affairs which cannot be so remodelled or
reshaped as to fit into our square-shaped Western minds. No one else was
so eloquent on the horrors of opium as the great Li Hung Chang, when
talking with foreigners; yet Li Hung Chang was one of the largest
producers of opium in China. When the Chinese army, under imperial
direction, was fiercely bombarding the legations in Peking, the imperial
government was officially sending fruit and other delicacies, accompanied
by courteous notes, asking if there was not something they could do for
the comfort of the hard-pressed foreigners.

This indirection would seem to be the result of a constant effort, on the
part of everybody in authority, to shirk the responsibility for difficult
situations. Under a system which holds a man mercilessly accountable for
carrying through any undertaking for which he is known to be responsible,
he naturally tries to avoid assuming any responsibility whatever. An
official is punished for failure and rewarded for success in China, as in
other countries. And the official on whom is saddled the extremely
difficult job of pleasing, at one time, an empress who believes that a
Boxer can render himself invisible to foreign sharpshooters by a little
mumbling and dancing, a set of courtiers and palace eunuchs who are
constantly undermining one another with the deepest Oriental guile, a
populace with little more understanding and knowledge of the world than
the children of Israel in the Sinai Peninsula, and a hostile band of keen,
modern diplomats with trade interests and "concessions" on their tongues
and machine guns and magazine rifles at call in their legation compounds,
is not in for an easy time.

It hardly seems, then, as if we should blame the Chinese official too
harshly if his whole career appears to be made up of a series of
"side-steppings" and "ducks"--of what the American boxer aptly calls "foot
work." On the other hand, it is not difficult to sympathize with the
foreign diplomat who has, year after year, to play this baffling game. He
is always making progress and never getting anywhere. He has his choice of
going mad or settling down into a confirmed and weary cynicism. In most
cases he chooses the latter, and ultimately drifts into a frame of mind in
which he doubts anything and everything. He takes it for granted that the
Chinese government is always insincere. It is incredible to him that a
Chinese official could mean what he says. And so, when the Chinese
government declared against the opium evil, the cynical foreign diplomats
and traders at once began looking between and behind the lines in the
effort to find out what the crafty yellow men were really getting at. That
they might mean what they said seemed wholly out of the question. But what
deep motive might underlie the proposal was a puzzle. At first the gossips
of Peking and the ports ran to the effect that the real scheme was to
arouse the anti-opium public opinion in England, and force the British
Indian government to give up its opium business. Very good, so far. But
why? In order that China, by successfully shutting out the Indian opium,
might set up a government monopoly of its own, for revenue, of the
home-grown drug? This was the first notion at Peking and the ports. I
heard it voiced frequently everywhere. But it proved a hard theory to
maintain.

In the first place, the Chinese government could set up a pretty effective
government opium business, if it wanted to, without bothering about the
Indian-grown drug. Opium is produced everywhere in China. The demand has
grown to a point where the Indian article alone could not begin to supply
it. But, on the other hand, the stopping of the importation is necessarily
the first step in combating the evil; for, if the Chinese should begin by
successfully decreasing their own production of opium, the importation
would automatically increase, and consumption remain the same.

In the second place, if it is wholly a "revenue" matter to the Chinese
government, why give up the large annual revenue from customs duties on
the imported opium? In asking the British to stop their opium traffic the
Chinese are proposing deliberately to sacrifice $5,000,000 annually in
customs and _liking_ duties on the imported drug, or between a fifth and a
sixth of the entire revenue of the imperial customs.

One very convincing indication of the sincerity of the Chinese government
in this matter, which I will take up in detail a little later, is the way
in which the opium prohibition is being enforced by the Chinese
authorities. But before going into that, I should like to call attention
to two other evidences of Chinese sincerity in its war on opium. The
first is the patent fact that public opinion all over China, among rich
and poor, mandarins and peasants, has turned strongly against the use of
opium. I have had this information from too many sources to doubt it.
Travellers from the remotest provinces are reporting to this effect. The
anti-opium sentiment is found in the highest official circles, in the
army, in the navy, in the schools. Within the past year or so it has been
growing steadily stronger. Opium-smoking used to be taken as a matter of
course; now, where you find a man smoking too much, you also find a group
of friends apologizing for him. I have already explained that
opium-smoking is not tolerated in the "new" army. There is now a rapidly
growing number of officials and merchants who refuse to employ
opium-smokers in any capacity.

Now, why is the public opinion of China setting so strongly against opium?
Even apart from moral considerations, bringing the matter down to a
"practical" basis, why is this so? I will venture to offer an answer to
the question. Said one Tientsin foreign merchant, an American who has had
unusual opportunities to observe conditions in Northern China: "If the
Chinese do succeed in shutting down on opium, it may mean the end of the
foreigners in China. Opium is the one thing that is holding the Chinese
back to-day."

Ten or twelve of the legations at Peking now have "legation guards" of
from one hundred to three hundred men each. In all, there are eighteen
hundred foreign soldiers in Peking, "a force large enough," said one
officer, "to be an insult to China, but not large enough to defend us
should they really resent the insult."

Twelve hundred miles up the Yangtse River, above the rapids, there is a
fleet of tiny foreign gunboats, English and French, which were carried up
in sections and put together "to stay." At every treaty port there are one
or more foreign settlements, maintained under foreign laws. The Imperial
Maritime Customs Service of China is directed and administered throughout
by foreigners; this, to insure the proper collection of the "indemnity"
money. Foreign "syndicates" have been gobbling up the wonderful coal and
iron deposits of China wherever they could find them. And so on. I could
give many more illustrations of the foreign grip on China, but these will
serve. And back of these facts looms the always impending "partition of
China." The Chinese are not fools. They have sat tight, wearing that
inscrutable smile, while the foreigners discussed the cutting up of China
as if it were a huge cake. They have seen the Japanese, a race of little
brown men, inhabiting a few little islands, face the dreaded bear of
Russia and drive it back into Siberia. Now, at last, these patient
Chinamen are picking up some odds and ends of Western science. They are
building railroads, and manufacturing the rails for them. They are talking
about saving China "for the Chinese." In 1906 they mobilized an army of
30,000 "modern" troops for manoeuvres in Honan Province. If they are to
succeed with this notion, they must begin at the beginning. Opium is
dragging them down hill. Opium will not build railroads. Opium will not
win battles. Opium will not administer the affairs of the hugest nation on
earth. Therefore, no matter what it costs in revenue, no matter how
staggering the necessary reform and reorganization, opium must go.

China may be a puzzling land. The Chinese officials may be capable of the
most baffling duplicity. But we are forced to believe that they are
"sincere" in putting down the opium traffic. It appears, for China, to be
a case of sink or swim.

The next question would seem to be, if the Chinese are really trying to
put down the opium traffic, how are they succeeding? We will pass over
that part of the problem which relates to Great Britain and the Indian
opium trade, with the idea of taking it up in a later chapter. Let us
consider now what China, flabby, backward, long-suffering China, is
actually doing in this tremendous effort to cure her disorder in order
that she may take a new place among the nations. We will deal here with
the enforcement of the edict in Shansi Province, taking up in later
chapters the results of the prohibition movement in the other provinces.

The plan outlined in the edicts prohibiting opium is clear, direct,
forcible. It was evidently meant to be effective. It provides (first) that
the governors of the provinces shall ascertain, through the local
authorities, the exact number of acres under poppy cultivation. The area
of the land used for this purpose shall then be cut down by one-ninth part
each year, "so that at the end of nine years there will be no more land
used for such purposes, and the land thus disused"--I am quoting here from
the Chinaman who translated the regulations for me--"shall never be used
for the said purposes again. Should the owners of such lands disobey the
decree, their lands shall be confiscated. Local officials who make special
efforts and be able to stop the cultivation of poppy before the said time,
they shall be rewarded with promotions."

The plan provides (second) that "all smokers, irrespective of class or
sex, must go to the nearest authorities to get certificates, in which they
are to write their names, addresses, profession, ages, and the amount of
opium smoked each day." Latitude is allowed smokers over sixty years of
age, but those under sixty "must get cured before arriving at sixty years
of age. Persons who smoke or buy opium without certificates will be
punished. No new smokers will be allowed from the date of prohibition. The
amount of opium supplied to each smoker must decrease by one-third each
year, so that within a few years there will be no opium smoked at all."
Officials who overstep the law are to be deprived of their rank. In the
case of common people, "their names will be posted up thoroughfares, and
will be deprived of privileges in all public gatherings."

Opium dens, as also all restaurants, hotels, and wine-shops which provide
couches and lamps for smokers were to be closed at once. If any regular
opium den was found open after the prohibition (May, 1907), the property
would be confiscated. No new stores for the sale of opium could be opened.
"Good opium remedies must be prepared. Multiply the number of anti-opium
clubs. If any citizens who can, through their efforts, get many people
cured, they will be rewarded.... All officials, and the officers of the
army and navy, and professors of schools, colleges, and universities, must
all get cured within six months." And further, it was decided to "open
negotiations with Great Britain, arranging with that power to have less
and less opium imported into China each year, till at the end of nine
years no opium will be imported at all." The Chinese, it is evident, are
not wanting in hopeful sentiment. Reading this, it is almost possible to
forget that India needs the money.

"There is another drug, called morphia, which has done (thus my Chinaman's
translation) or is doing more harm than opium. The custom authorities
are to be instructed to prohibit strictly the importation of it, except
for medical uses."


[Illustration: ENFORCING THE EDICT AT SHANGHAI

Burning Opium Pipes of Ivory and Costly Woods

Breaking the Opium Lamps]


A clean-cut programme, this; apparently meant to be effective. It was with
no small curiosity that I looked about in Shansi Province to see whether
there seemed any likelihood of enforcement. The time was ripe. It was
April; in May the six months would be up. Opium had ruled in Shansi: could
they hope to depose it before the final havoc should be wrought?

The nub of the situation was, of course, the limiting of the crop.
Theoretically, it should be easier to prohibit opium than to prohibit
alcoholic drinks. Wines and liquors are made from grains and fruits which
must be grown anyway, for purposes of food. It would not do to attempt to
prohibit liquor by stopping the cultivation of grains and fruits. The
poppy, on the other hand, produces nothing but opium and its alkaloids. In
stopping the growth of the poppy you are depriving man of no useful or
necessary article. The poppy must be grown in the open, along the
river-bottoms (where the roads run). It cannot be hidden. As government
regulating goes, nothing is easier than to find a field of poppies and
measure it. The plans of the Shansi farmers for the coming year should
throw some light on the sincerity of the opium reforms. Were they really
arranging to plant less opium? Yes, they were. Reports came to me from
every side, and all to the same effect. West and northwest of T'ai Yuan-fu
many of the farmers had announced that they were planting no poppies at
all. This, remember, was in April: planting time was near; it was a
practical proposition to those Shansi peasants. In other regions men were
planting either none at all, or "less than last year." The reason
generally given was that the closing of the dens in the cities had
lessened the demand for opium.

The officials were planning not only to make poppy-growing unprofitable to
the farmers, they were planning also to advise and assist them in the
substitution of some other crop for the poppy. But here they encountered
one of the peculiar difficulties in the way of opium reform, the
transportation problem. All transportation, off the railroads, is slow and
costly. No other product is so easy to transport as opium. A man can carry
several hundred dollars' worth on his person; a man with a mule can carry
several thousand dollars' worth. That is one of the reasons why opium is
a more profitable crop than potatoes or wheat. But the law descends
without waiting for solutions of all the problems involved. The closing of
the opium dens all over Shansi had the immediate effect of limiting the
crop. It also had the effect of driving out of business a great many firms
engaged in the manufacture of pipes and lamps. Sixty-two manufacturing
houses in one city, Taiku, either went out of business altogether during
the spring months, or turned to new enterprises. I add an interesting bit
of evidence as to the effectiveness of the enforcement. It is from a
missionary.

"I was calling on one of the foreigners in T'ai Yuan-fu and found a beggar
lying on one of the door-steps, with his pipe and lamp all going. I told
him to clear out. I asked him why he was there, and he told me he had
nowhere else to go, now that the smoking-dens were all closed, and that he
had to find some sheltered nook where he could have his smoke."

It was not the plan to close the opium sale shops; theoretically, it will
take nine or ten years to do that. But after closing all the places where
opium was smoked socially and publicly, it should become possible to
register all the individuals who buy the drug for home consumption. It was
the closing of the dens, the places for public smoking, in all the cities
of Shansi, which had the immediate effect of limiting the crop and the
manufacture of smoking instruments. The one hundred and twenty-nine dens
of T'ai Yuan-fu were all closed before I arrived there. In T'ai Yuan-fu,
as in Peking, you could buy an opium-smoker's outfit for next to nothing.
Cloisonné pipes, mounted with ivory and jade, were offered at absurd
prices.

One of the saddest features of the situation in Shansi is the activity of
the opium-cure fraud. The opium-smoking habit can be cured, once the
social element is eliminated, as easily as the morphine or cocaine
habits--more easily, some would claim. I do not mean to say that a
degraded, degenerate being can be made over, in a week, into a normal,
healthy being; but it does not seem to be very difficult to tide even the
confirmed smoker over the discomfort and danger that attend breaking off
the habit. In Shansi, as in all the opium provinces, "opium refuges" are
maintained by the various missions. The usual plan is to charge a small
fee for the medicines administered, in order to make the refuges
self-supporting. It takes a week or ten days to effect a cure by the
methods usually followed. The patient is confined to a room, less and less
opium is allowed from day to day, stimulants (either strychnine or
atropine) are administered, and local symptoms are treated as may seem
necessary to the physician in charge. Some of the missions at first took a
stand against the reduction method, believing that medical missionaries
should not administer opium in any form; but after a death or two they
accepted the inevitable compromise, recognizing that it is not safe to
shut down the supply too abruptly. But the number of these refuges is
pitifully small beside the extent of the evil. They have been at work for
a generation without bringing about any perceptible change in the
situation. There are now fewer refuges than formerly in Shansi Province,
for none of the missions is fully recruited as yet, after the terrible
set-back of 1900.

The opium-cure faker in China, as in the United States and Europe, usually
sells morphia under another name. Dr. Edwards, the author of "Fire and
Sword in Shansi," last year spent five weeks in travelling northwest of
T'ai Yuan-fu, and reported finding a great many men employed in selling
so-called anti-opium medicines. The demand for cures existed everywhere.
Now that the popular sentiment is setting in so strongly against the opium
habit, the Chinese are peculiarly easy prey for these rascals. They have
no conception of medicine as it is practiced in Western countries, and
eagerly take whatever is offered to them in the guise of a "cure." The
following, told to me by an Englishman who lives in the province,
illustrates this:

"There is a lot of mischief being done in Shansi just now by men who have
bought drugs in Tientsin, are selling them at random, and making a good
thing for themselves. I was travelling one day and was taken violently
ill, and I happened to reach a place where I knew a man who had some
drugs, so I sent for him and asked him to bring me some medicine. He came
along with three bottles, none of which was labelled. He could not tell me
what any one of them contained. He said they were all good for
stomach-ache, and proposed to mix the three up and give me a good, strong
dose. It is needless to say I refused. That man is running a proper
establishment and making a lot of money on the drugs he sells, and that
is all he knows about the business."

The upshot of my investigations and inquiries in Shansi was that the
anti-opium edicts were being enforced to the letter. This conclusion
reached, I naturally looked about to find the man behind the enforcement.
Judging from the work done, he should prove worth seeing. Further
inquiries drew out the information that he was one of the three rulers of
the province, with the title of provincial judge, and that his name was
Ting Pao Chuen.

Calling upon a prominent Chinese official is, to a plain, democratic
person, rather an impressive undertaking. The Rev. Mr. Sowerby had kindly
volunteered to act as interpreter, and him I impressed for instructor and
guide through the mazes of official etiquette. It was arranged that I
should call at Mr. Sowerby's compound at a quarter to four. From there we
would each ride in a Peking cart with a driver and one extra servant in
front. There was nothing, apparently, for the extra servant to do; but it
was vitally important that he should sit on the front platform of the
cart.

A Peking cart is a red-and-blue dog house, balanced, without springs, on
an axle between two heavy wheels. The sides, back, and rounding roof are
covered with blue cloth. A curtain hangs in front. In the middle of each
side is a tiny window, and it is at such windows that you occasionally get
the only glimpses you are ever likely to get of Chinese ladies. There is
no seat in a Peking cart; you sit on the padded floor. When you get in,
the servant holds up the front curtain, you vault to the front platform,
and, placing your hands on the floor, propel yourself backward, with as
much dignity as possible, taking care not to knock your hat against the
roof, until you have disappeared inside. If you are long of leg, your feet
will stick out in front of the curtain, leaving scant room for the two
servants, who sit, one on each side, with their feet hanging down in front
of the wheels. The two carts, two drivers, and two extra servants, set out
from the Baptist Mission compound, to convey Mr. Sowerby and me to the
Yâmen, or official residence, of His Excellency.

Every Yâmen has three great gates barring the way to the inner compound.
If the resident official wishes to humiliate you, he has his man stop your
cart at the first gate and compels you to enter on foot. Fortunately for
us, since it was raining hard, His Excellency had chosen to treat us with
marked courtesy. The carts halted at the second gate while Mr. Sowerby's
servant ran in with our red Chinese cards. There was a brief wait, and
then we drove on through a long courtyard to the inner or screen gate,
where massive timbered doors were closed against us. Soon these swung
open; the carts crossed a paved yard and pulled up under the projecting
roof of the Yâmen porch; and we scrambled down from the carts, while two
tall mandarins, in official caps and buttons, dressed in flowing robes of
silk and embroidery, came rapidly forward to meet us. One of these, the
younger and shorter, I recognized as Mr. Wen, the interpreter for the
Shansi foreign bureau.

The other mandarin was a man of ability and charm. Some of us, perhaps,
have formed our notion of the Chinaman from the Cantonese laundryman type
which we may have seen at his bench or on the Third Avenue elevated
railway in New York. This would be about as accurate as to call the coster
at his barrow the typical Englishman; just about as accurate as to call
the Bowery loafer the typical American. His Excellency appeared to be
close to six feet in height; he was erect and lithe of figure, with marked
physical grace. He greeted Mr. Sowerby by clasping his hands before his
breast and bowing, then turned, and with a genial smile extended his right
hand to grip mine. He used no English, but the Chinese language, as he
spoke it, was both dignified and musical, and not at all like the singsong
jabbering I had heard on the streets and about the hotels.

Ting led the way into a reception-room which was furnished in red cloth
and dark woods. There was a seat and a table against each side, and two
red cushions on the edge of a platform across the end of the room, with a
low table between them. An attendant appeared with tea. Ting took a
covered tea bowl in his two hands, extended it towards me, bowed, then
placed it on the low stand--thus indicating the seat which I was to take,
on the platform. Mr. Wen said, in my ear, "Sit down." Mr. Sowerby was
placed at the other side of the stand; the two Chinese gentlemen seated
themselves at the two side-tables, facing each other. One thing I
remembered from Mr. Sowerby's coaching--I must not touch my bowl of tea. I
must not even look at it. The tea is not to drink; it is brought in order
that the caller may be enabled to take his leave gracefully. The Chinese
gentlefolk are so wedded to life's little ceremonies that guest and host
cannot bring themselves to talk right out about terminating a visit. The
guest would shiver at the notion of saying, "Well, I must go, now."
Instead, he fingers his tea bowl, or perhaps merely glances at it; and
then he and his host both rise.

His Excellency fixed his eyes on me and uttered a deliberate, musical
sentence. "He says," translated Mr. Sowerby, "that you have come to help
China." I am afraid I blushed at this. It had not occurred to me to state
my mission in just those words. I replied that I had come, as a
journalist, to learn the truth about the opium question. We talked for an
hour about the wonderful warfare which China is waging against her
besetting vice. "China is sincere in this struggle," he said. "Public
opinion was never more determined." He asked me if I had investigated the
new Malay drug which had lately been heralded as a specific for
opium-poisoning. "If," he said, "you should learn of any real cure, while
you are investigating this subject, I wish you would advise me about it."
I promised him I would do so. I had already heard from a number of sources
that Ting was personally giving two to three thousand taels a month (a
tael is about seventy-five cents) to the support of opium refuges and for
the purchase of drugs for distribution among the poor. "China is sick," he
said; "she must be cured so that she may hold up her head among the
nations."

Shortly after we had driven back through the rain and had mounted the
stairs to Mr. Sowerby's library, a Yâmen runner was shown into the room,
bearing presents from the provincial judge. The runner bowed to me and
presented his tray. On it, beside the large red "card" of Ting Pao Chuen,
were four bottles of native wine, or "shumshoo," two cans of beef tongue,
and two cans of sauerkraut!



V

SOWING THE WIND IN CHINA--SHANGHAI


In her development China is dependent on the adoption of Western ideas and
is influenced by the example set by Western civilization. This modernizing
influence is strongest at the point where the Westerner meets the
Chinaman, where the two civilizations come into direct contact. At
Shanghai, Tientsin, Hankow, Hongkong, and the other ports there are some
thirty to forty thousand Europeans, Englishmen, and Americans. They build
splendid buildings and lay good pavements. They bring with them the best
liquors. The life they live gives about as accurate an impression of
Western civilization--of what the Western nations stand for--as the great
majority of the Chinese (a most observing race) are ever likely to
receive. We have examined into China's sincerity, now let us examine into
the honesty of purpose of the foreign "concessions" and "settlements"
which fringe the China Coast. If these communities are representing our
civilization out there, it seems fair to ask whether they are
representing it well; for if they are misrepresenting us, if they are
contributing to the sort of international misunderstanding which breeds
trouble, we may as well know it.

When, in the course of her gropings and strugglings towards civilization,
China turns for enlightenment to the great, successful nations of Europe
and America, what does she see? Well, for one thing, she sees Shanghai.

Shanghai has been called the Paris of the extreme East. It is the paradise
of the adventurer and the adventuress, of the gambler, the beach-comber,
and the long-chance promoter. Midway of the China Coast, at the mouth of
the mighty Yangtse River, it is the principal port of entrance into China.
From England, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, the United States, and
Canada comes an endless column of steamships to Shanghai. To Hongkong,
Saigon, Bangkok, Singapore, Chefoo, Tientsin, and the uppermost ports of
the Yangtse, 1,250 miles inland, go endless columns of steamships from
Shanghai. And of the travellers on these ships nearly all have, or expect
to have, or have had, business or pleasure at Shanghai.

It is the most truly cosmopolitan city in the world; for Paris, after all,
is mainly French; London, after all, is mainly English; New York, after
all, is mainly American. Shanghai has its French hotels, its imposing
German Club, its English Country Club, its race-track, its Russian Bank,
its Japanese mercantile houses, its American post-office. It is ruled by a
council of Englishmen, Germans, and Americans. It is policed by English
bobbies, Irishmen, Sikhs from India, and Chinamen. On the Bubbling Well
Road, of a sunny spring afternoon, where the latest thing in motor cars
weaves through the line of smart carriages, you may see Spaniard elbowing
Filipino, Portuguese jostling Parsee, Austrian chatting with Bavarian; and
they all talk, gamble, drink, and buy in pidgin English.

This settlement of fifteen thousand Europeans, living apart from that
public opinion which compells the maintenance of a social standard in
every European country, and indifferent to that local public opinion which
keeps up a certain curious standard among the Chinese themselves, seems to
have practically no standard at all. The problem of every decent American
or Englishman who finds himself established in business is whether he
dare bring his wife and family and introduce them into circles so degraded
that families disintegrate and children grow up under disheartening
influences. The heavy drinking of the China Coast ports is proverbial, yet
the drinking seems little more than an incident in a city where the social
atmosphere is tainted and altogether unwholesome.

I stood one night in the barroom of one of the big hotels. It was one
o'clock in the morning, and nearly every one of the dozen white men in the
room was more or less drunk. They were roaring out maudlin songs, and
shouting incoherent cries. Two men, well-dressed gentlemen, were on the
floor. And behind the bar, yawning, waiting for an opportunity to close up
and go to sleep, stood two Chinese men and one boy. They were neat,
respectful, and perfectly sober. Their almond eyes flitted about the room,
taking in every detail of that beastly scene. It would be impossible to
say what they were thinking, but I observed that they did not smile as a
Chinaman usually does. Perhaps, to the reader who does not know the China
Coast, it seems unfair to cite this case as an example of the active
influence of our civilization in China. I will not do so. I will merely
ask if you could ever hope to make those three young Chinamen believe that
our civilization is superior to theirs.

Where such a low moral tone prevails, in a self-governing community, it is
bound to limit the perception and the power of the government of that
community. Let any observing visitor acquaint himself with Shanghai and
its social and moral standards (which will not be difficult, for these
will be thrust upon him soon after his arrival) and he will soon see for
himself that the residents of Shanghai, while they freely and hotly
criticize their council, never accuse it of priggishness or of moral
restraint. This is enough to show that the council makes no effort to
oppose the prevailing sentiment. The gambling business attains, in
Shanghai, to the altitude of a considerable industry. During the race
weeks, spring and fall, the vacant lots near the race-track are rented at
high rates by those gamblers of all nations who have no regular quarters,
and the games go on merrily in the open air, within full view of the
crowds in the road. Now seven of the nine members of the council are
Englishmen. English ideas are supposed to prevail in the settlement,
feebly seconded by German and American. And the laws under which Shanghai
is theoretically governed forbid gambling.

All the lower forms of organized vice combine to form a large and highly
profitable branch of Shanghai's commerce. Partly because of the
willingness of the locally stronger nations to shoulder off the
responsibility for a disgraceful state of things, and partly because of
the number of adventurous and unprincipled Americans who have drained off
to the China Coast, America has had to endure more than her share of the
blame for this condition. For years every degraded woman who could speak
the language has called herself an "American girl"; until the term, which
at home arouses a natural pride, has grown so unpleasant that decent
Americans have chafed under the insult. To-day it is best not to use the
phrase "American girl" on the China Coast.

Of the other and less vicious sorts of adventurers who turn up like bad
pennies at Shanghai, the beach-comber is easily the most picturesque. Many
writers, notably Robert Louis Stevenson, have employed him as a character
in fiction. The majority of the beach-combers probably are or have been
seafaring men. Next in numerical order, probably, come the discharged
soldiers and the deserters. It takes either a certain amount of money or
a certain amount of ability for any unattached American or European to get
out to the China Coast, and an equal amount for him to get back. Therefore
the stranded soldiers and sailors, brought out there at the cost of nation
or ship owner, beating their way from port to port, drinking, gambling,
starving, ready for any dubious enterprise that promises quick returns on
a small investment, are a sorry lot. The sharps, swindlers, and shadowy
promoters, on the other hand, are men necessarily possessed either of
money or wit sufficient to get them out to China, and not unnaturally they
represent the higher grades of their various crafts. From Peking to
Hongkong, the coast is infested with these gentlemanly rascals, each with
impressive garments and a convincing story. Josiah Flynt once wrote a tale
of some enthusiastic young promoters who undertook, at a considerable
outlay in capital and in personal risk, to sell a steam calliope to the
Grand Lama of Thibet. After a brief acquaintance with the diverse and
ingenious schemes that sprout, flower, and go to seed on the China Coast,
this tale seems not nearly so improbable as it perhaps sounds to the
casual reader.

Other, and more recent, types of adventurers are the stranded free-lance
journalist and camp-followers who were lured Eastward by the prospect of
pickings along the trails of the Japanese and Russian armies during the
late war, and who later found themselves unable to get back home. In 1906,
Consul-General Rodgers, of Shanghai, reported as follows on the subject of
unscrupulous Americans who have been imposing on the Chinese to the
detriment of American trade:

"There are many things which can be given as current reasons for retarding
American trade in the Orient. The advent of a class of Americans, like
those who came from Manila after a brief experience there, and those who
tried their fortunes in connection with the events of the Russo-Japanese
War, has done a great deal to injure the American name and reputation with
the Chinese. This class, usually indigent, has, by reason of imposition
upon the Chinese, destroyed to some extent a confidence which has existed
for many years and which had borne good fruit. There are good reasons for
saying that every American firm which contemplates sending a
representative to China should be very certain of his character, and,
other things being equal, should choose the quiet, orderly person rather
than the reverse type, in spite of the current opinion that such are
indicated for the Orient."

If Shanghai is the sort of a place that it would here appear to be, if it
sets a vicious example in its government, in its business practice, and in
the character of many of its inhabitants, the fact would seem to indicate
that it is most decidedly misrepresenting out there the sort of
civilization that we, Europeans as well as Americans, have always supposed
that we stood for. It would appear that the Chinese, at the point of
contact with our civilization, are getting a false impression of us. It
would be easy to dismiss as remote and unimportant the vicious example set
by a group of adventurers and promoters on the China Coast; but
unfortunately this little group is the most important single contributing
factor in the exceedingly delicate matter of the rapidly developing
relations between China and the great Christian nations.

The influence of the Shanghai example on China is real and positive.
Geographically, Shanghai commands the trade of the middle coast, the
immense Yangtse Valley, and the Grand Canal. Every night a big river
steamer leaves for Hankow and the intermediate river ports. Every day a
big river steamer comes in from the same cities. Trading junks and small
steamers innumerable ply between the river and coast ports and Shanghai.
Chinese merchants come from hundreds of miles around to trade with the
foreigners or with the native "compradores" attached to foreign houses. On
their return to their various interior cities or villages these traders
spread tales of the foreign devils who inhabit the great city near the
sea. Foreign merchants, travelling salesmen, engineers, and insurance
agents travel up and down the great river, up and down the coast; they
penetrate, by steamer, railroad, mule-litter, or cart, into the interior
cities of the great provinces, leaving everywhere on plastic minds
distinct and ineffaceable impressions of their manners, business methods,
and morals.

In the foreign settlement of Shanghai, and apart from the population of
the native city which adjoins it, there are, roughly, 450,000 Chinese who
have chosen to dwell in the territory and under the laws of the white men.
This population is not fixed, but fluctuates as the floating element comes
and goes; and everywhere that this floating element travels when out of
the city it leaves an impression--a story, a bit of gossip, an example of
the sharp dealing learned from the foreigner--of the manners, business
methods, and morals of Shanghai. The native newspapers comment frankly on
life and conditions in the great seaport, and their comments are reprinted
in the papers of the interior. Shanghai exerts a direct and
result-breeding influence on fifty to seventy-five million native minds,
and an indirect influence on all China. How many scores of fair-minded,
straightforward merchants, how many thousands of scattered missionaries
and teachers will it take, think you, to counteract that influence?

China, grappling with the problem of decay, fighting desperately against
an evil which the most nearly Christian of the Christian nations has
fastened on her, looks westward for enlightenment, and sees--Shanghai. And
Shanghai--well Shanghai plays the races and the roulette wheel, and
drinks, and forgets the sacred significance of marriage and the economic
importance of the home, and goes to the club, and except in casting up
profits gives never a thought to that vast, muttering populace that
waits--waits--for the day of the under-dog to come.

Such was the condition of things when the Chinese war on opium began to
assume effective proportions during the spring of 1906. Now, Shanghai--the
"settlement," that is--was in a peculiar, an unfortunate, condition as
regarded the anti-opium crusade. I have already given, in an earlier
chapter, the estimate of Robert E. Lewis, general secretary of the Y. M.
C. A., at Shanghai, that there were, in 1906, nearly 22,000 places in the
international settlement, little and big, where opium could be purchased,
more than 19,000 of which kept pipes, lamps, and divans on the premises
for smokers. All of the dens which were openly conducted were paying a
regular license fee to the municipal government, amounting last year to
98,000 Shanghai taels, or about $70,000 in gold. It is against the law to
permit women or children to enter the smoking-dens, and a clause to this
effect is printed on the license as a condition in granting it; yet when
Captain Borisragon, the chief of police, was asked how many regular women
inmates were in the dens, he replied, in writing, that there were at least
3,200 women so kept, and doubtless a great many more who did not appear
on his records. When the tax and license department was asked why this
clause was not enforced, the reply was made, without the slightest attempt
at excuse or explanation, that when a license was issued to the keeper of
an "opium brothel" the clause prohibiting women inmates was erased.

These curious facts combine to present an appearance familiar to one who
has studied the municipal protection of vice in this country. It is asking
too much of human credulity to expect one to believe that this clause was
regularly erased for nothing. But apart from what individual graft there
may have been in it, that $70,000 in revenue was an item not to be lightly
given up by the hard-headed municipal council. And the amount of money put
into circulation by the patrons of these dens was also an attractive item,
as Shanghai sees things. The prevailing opinion among the foreigners of
"the settlement" was simply and flatly that the settlement could not
afford to close the dens. The leading English newspaper hastened to defend
the sordid attitude of the council by explaining that, as the licenses
were issued for a year, they had no right to close the places, at least
before the spring of 1908.

The interesting and significant fact is that while this miserable
condition of affairs was allowed to drag along in the international
settlement, where the white men rule, the Chinese native city, immediately
adjoining, was strictly enforcing the anti-opium edicts. The Chinese
authorities went about the enforcement in a thoroughly effective manner.
The date set for the closing of the dens was May 22, 1907. There was some
fear that the closing down might precipitate a riot, and, accordingly, the
authorities took measures to keep the populace in hand. Chinese soldiers
were placed on guard at the places where crowds would be most likely to
gather, the dens were quietly closed, padlocked, and the shutters put up;
and red signs, calling attention to the imperial edict prohibiting opium,
were pasted up on doors or shutters. It was quite evident that the
proprietors of these dens took the enforcement most seriously. Some of
them went immediately into other lines of business; others made their
places over into tea-houses.


[Illustration: IN AN OPIUM DEN, SHANGHAI]

[Illustration: OPIUM SMOKING]


So at Shanghai the Chinese warfare on the "foreign smoke" was waged
earnestly and effectively in the native city. The Chinese authorities
closed the dens--permanently, it seems fair to believe. And the only
result of their heroic action,--and it is an heroic action to suppress a
prosperous and thoroughly established branch of commerce in any city,--the
only result was that the opium business went over to the adjoining city of
the foreigners, who gladly accepted it, and took the money which had
formerly been spent in the native city. The foreigners live wholly outside
of and above Chinese law. They have their own strips of land, their own
courts, their own local government, all guaranteed to them by the treaties
which China has, at one time or another, been forced to sign. When the
Chinese first proposed to stamp out opium, these foreigners laughed, and
talked about the chronic insincerity of the Chinese government. When the
yellow men did stamp out opium in that native city a mile or so away,
these foreigners said that it would not be fair to the holders of licenses
to close down in the settlement. As I have had occasion to say before, the
Chinese are not fools. They grasped the significance of the situation, and
spoke out frankly. The local mandarins protested to the settlement
council. The native newspapers called attention to it. And all this clear
insight into an extraordinary situation and the frank comment on it were
communicated, by the routes and the means which I have described earlier
in this chapter, to the fifty or seventy-five million Chinese who are
directly influenced by conditions at Shanghai. Now, in the light of these
facts, in the light of what they see and know, it is time to ask, and to
ask with feeling--How can you hope to make those fifty to seventy-five
million Chinamen believe that our civilization, with its science, and its
whisky, and its keen grasp on "revenue," and its contradictory and
confusing teachings of Christianity, is superior to their civilization?
And if they do not believe that our civilization is superior, how long do
you suppose they will endure the treatment they receive from us? As time
rolls on, there will be more "Boxer" uprisings in China, more crazy and
disastrous protests against foreign domination and exploitation. When
these troubles come, it will be well to recall that Shanghai,--not the
individual inhabitants, but the government of that little "settlement" of
foreigners which lies upon the west bank of the Woosung River,--officially
and for profit maintained its traffic in the drug that is China's curse
after the Chinese had stopped their own opium traffic. It will be well to
recall it, because it is quite certain that the Chinese themselves will
not have forgotten it.

I have gone thus at length into the deplorable example which Shanghai, the
most important foreign settlement in China, exhibits to the struggling,
opium-ridden yellow men, because it is typical of the whole course of the
foreigner in China. In the next chapter we shall consider further evidence
in looking into the conditions of life and of the opium problem at
Hongkong and Tientsin. It is of course peculiarly unfortunate that
Shanghai, when the great opportunity came to extend a helping hand to
China in the opium fight, should have failed, utterly, ignominiously. But
the slightest acquaintance with the place is enough to make it plain that
Shanghai, as it has been and still is, is not likely to extend a helping
hand to anybody. The helping hand is not exactly what Shanghai stands for.
It really stands for the domination of the great Yangtse Valley, for the
exploitation of China, and, incidentally, for a sort of snug harbour for
criminals and degenerates. There can be no doubt that the fifty to
seventy-five millions of Chinese who come directly within the radiating
influence of Shanghai know this perfectly well. It is also quite likely
that these and the few hundred other millions who make up "the Middle
Kingdom" know perfectly well, that the complicated commercial
establishments of all the various foreign nations in China stand for
similar principles. And they doubtless know further that the very
important and very cynical gentlemen who represent the great and
prosperous foreign powers at Peking, are there for no other purpose than
diplomatically to put on the pressure whenever China chances to block a
move or gain a piece in this sordid and unholy game of chess. So perhaps
we had better give up, once and for all, any serious consideration of the
charges made by certain foreign powers that China is insincere in her
warfare on opium. Such charges and insinuations, coming from such sources,
hardly command respect.

It is plain that this greedy exploitation, going so far as even to snatch
a profit out of the opium struggle, is not a healthy basis of intercourse
between great nations. If the Chinese were a Congo tribe, or a race of
American Indians, this policy might pay commercially; for in that case it
would be a matter for the Christian nations of simply killing off the
Chinese or driving them off the land, and then of fighting among
themselves over the division of the spoils. But this policy, which
succeeds against weak and numerically small nations, will hardly succeed
in China. Driving four hundred million Chinese off the land would be a
large order, a very different thing, indeed, from wiping out a tribe of
"Fuzzy Wuzzys" with machine guns. All of the military observers with whom
I have talked in China show a tendency to grow thoughtful over the subject
of China's potential military strength. From the days of the T'ai Ping
Rebellion and "Chinese" Gordon's "ever victorious" army, down to the
review of 30,000 of Yuan Shi K'ai's troops, with modern weapons and modern
drill, in Honan Province in the summer of 1906, it has been plain that the
Chinese make splendid soldiers when properly led. And yet it seems to have
occurred to few white statesmen that the deepest interests of trade
itself, sordid trade, demand that China be treated fairly and that the
relations between China and the powers be established on a basis that
makes for mutual respect and for peace, rather than on a basis that makes
for exploitation, outrage, massacre, warfare, "indemnity," and smouldering
hate. John Hay saw over the balance-sheet, when he established the "open
door" policy. Elihu Root has seen over the balance-sheet in arranging to
waive the future claims of this country for indemnity money. And Lord
Elgin, for England, saw over the balance-sheet when he outlined that sound
policy which he was afterwards one of the first to violate--"Never to make
an unjust demand of China, and never to recede from a demand once made."
To-day it seems apparent that the great nations cannot be brought together
to agree on any really enlightened policy in China. Even had such a thing
been possible a few years ago, the untrustworthy methods of Russia and the
growing ambitions of Japan would make it impossible to-day. Nations which,
when brought together in a "Peace Conference," cannot even agree upon the
rules of war, will hardly forego the chance of seizing some special
advantage in the colossal grab-bag which is China. And so it seems likely
that the genial commercial adventurers and gamblers and vice promoters of
Shanghai will go on sowing the wind in China--and that the sullen hate of
those silent, observing millions of yellow men will deepen and smoulder
until the final day of reckoning, the day of reaping, shall come.

There is one ray of light which, to-day, illuminates the China Coast. It
is a small ray, when we consider the number of dark corners to be
illuminated, and yet there is the bare possibility that it may prove the
beginning of better conditions. Somewhat less than two years ago the
United States government established a wholly new institution, the United
States Court for China. L. R. Wilfley, one of the legal officers whom
Judge Taft had trained in Manila during his governorship of the
Philippines, was appointed the first judge of this court, and was sent
out, with a district attorney, a marshal, and a clerk, to administer
justice to Americans up and down the China Coast and along the Yangtse
River. By treaty, all American citizens are exempt from judgment under the
Chinese law, that peculiar jumble of tradition, superstition, common
sense, and Oriental severity. Formerly, justice had been dealt out in
courts presided over by the consul-generals and the consuls in their
respective districts.

Now it should be obvious to the most casual observer that the peculiar
conditions and the peculiar industries which thrive in the treaty ports
give rise to a considerable number of legal entanglements. There is, of
course, a large volume of legitimate business transacted on the Coast,
which gives legitimate employment to a few lawyers; but there is a volume
of illegitimate and semi-legitimate business which would also naturally
give employment to other lawyers. At the time of Judge Wilfley's
appointment one thing was clear to the enlightened heads of our Department
of State at Washington; the consular courts, thanks to the skill and
resource of the American lawyer on the Coast, were in a constant tangle of
perplexed inefficiency, and the American name was sinking steadily lower
in China.

It is likely that no American judge ever faced so peculiar and difficult a
task as that assigned to Judge Wilfley. It was his duty to take the place
of a lacking public opinion, and to raise the drooping prestige of his
country. He had behind him no settled code of laws, but merely a few
treaties and a few orders from the Department of State. He had not only to
judge cases between Americans, but also cases between Americans and
citizens of other nationalities, including the Chinese themselves. He had
to establish rulings on the most complicated matters of coastwise
commerce, in a land where coastwise commerce is involved with perplexing
local customs and superstitions. Above all, he had, from the start, to
fight a well-organized, well-entrenched band of shady characters who had
run their course for so long without anything in the nature of a public
opinion to hold them in check that they resented his advent as an
encroachment on their vested right to do as they chose. The last and most
perplexing of his problems was that in rooting out these evils he was in
danger at every turn of arraying against him the citizens of other
nationalities and even of arousing the active enmity of the courts and the
officials of other nations, most of whom had been content to let Shanghai
jog along in its easy-going, sordid way.

It is to Judge Wilfley's everlasting credit that, with a full knowledge of
the difficulties and dangers before him, he went straight to the heart of
the problem. Seeing that certain American lawyers had long stood between
the old consular courts and anything which could be called justice, he
set to work first to solve the problem of the lawyers. His campaign for a
higher standard on the Coast has not been without its humorous moments.
Mr. Bassett, his shrewd young district attorney, preceded him to Shanghai
to "look the ground over." The little group of American lawyers at
Shanghai made haste to get acquainted with him. One of the ablest among
them invited him, casually and informally, to dinner. When Bassett arrived
at the dinner he found himself, to his astonishment, confronted with
thirty or forty "leading citizens," including all the American lawyers and
several men of questionable business character whom he rather expected to
be prosecuting a little later on.

After the coffee and cigars, the host rose, and in a neat little speech
called on Bassett to tell the company something about Judge Wilfley and
what work he meant to do in Shanghai. It was a difficult situation. A
slow-witted man might have found himself in a fix. But Bassett, if I may
credit the account which reached me, was equal to the situation. He rose,
and looked around the table from face to face.

"Gentlemen," he said, "as I have come unprepared for this pleasure, I
shall have to fall back on story-telling. In the small hours, one morning,
two men who had been having rather too good a time were navigating from
street corner to street corner. Said Smith, 'Jonesh, shtime to go home.
Shgetting broad daylight. Theresh sun shining up there.'

"'No, Shmith,' replied Jones, 'you're mistaken. Tha'sh moon up there, and
it's night.' They staggered down the street, Smith insisting that it was
day, Jones insisting that it was night, until they met a fellow inebriate
clinging to a fire plug. To him they appealed their dispute. He heard them
out, and then looked thoughtfully up at the moon. For a long time he
puzzled over the problem, and finally, giving it up, turned to them and
said politely, 'Gentlemen, you'll have to 'scuse me. I'm a stranger in
town.'

"And, gentlemen," said Bassett, again looking about from face to face,
"you'll have to excuse me. I'm a stranger in town."

Judge Wilfley began by calling upon every American lawyer who was
practicing in Shanghai to bring a certificate of good moral character and
to pass an examination before he could be admitted to practice in the new
court. The examination was given, and only two of the lawyers passed. At
once there was a hubbub. The judge was attacked hotly. One of the lawyers
who failed to pass hurried over to this country, making a speech at
Honolulu, on the way, in which he insinuated charges of corruption against
Judge Wilfley. Shortly after his arrival at San Francisco, he prevailed
upon the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, on the Pacific Coast, to reverse
one of Judge Wilfley's decisions without having the facts of the whole
case in hand and without a hearing from the China court. He went on to
Washington, and within a month or two last winter actually got a bill
through the United States Senate reinstating all the disqualified lawyers.
The bill is before the House at this present session. He has conducted a
newspaper campaign against Judge Wilfley in this country since his return
last year. It seems only fair to call attention to these facts on a
fearless and able man, because Judge Wilfley is too hard at work in a
distant country to be able to defend himself. In the course of my travels
from port to port last year, it became clear to me that this new court was
the one uplifting factor in a distressing general condition.

Judge Wilfley, like his district attorney, seems to hold no visionary
theories, in spite of the high standard he has set. Before leaving China,
I made it a point to call on him and talk with him about the work he is
doing in the interest of the American name. He seemed to recognize clearly
enough that vice and depravity can no more be put down out of hand in
Shanghai than they can be put down out of hand in New York or Chicago or
Boston. But he maintained that the disreputably open flaunting of vice can
be stopped. In fining the "American girls" $500 (gold) each, and driving a
number of them off the Coast, his attack has been directed mainly against
the dishonourable use of an honourable phrase. In imprisoning or driving
away the American gamblers, he has been trying to put gambling down more
nearly to the place it occupies, in this country, as a minor rather than
as a major branch of industry. Judge Wilfley has undertaken an Herculean
task. It seems to be the hope of all that patient minority, the better
class of Americans on the China Coast, that he will be permitted to
continue his fight unhampered by political machinery "back home."

There are two other points, besides Shanghai, at which the two kinds of
civilization, Western and Eastern, come into contact--Hongkong and
Tientsin. Each is different from the other as well as from Shanghai; and
each plays a curious part in the opium drama. We shall take them up in the
next chapter.



VI

SOWING THE WIND IN CHINA--TIENTSIN AND HONGKONG


If you could avoid the suburbs of mud huts and walled compounds, and step
directly down from an airship on the broad piazza of the Astor House at
Tientsin (no treaty port is complete without its Astor House), you might
also imagine yourself in a thriving English town. Set about this piazza
are round tables, in bowers of potted plants, where sit Britishers,
Germans, and Americans, with a gay sprinkling of soldiery. Across the
street there is a green little park, where plump British babies are
wheeled about and children romp among the shrubbery, and where the Sikh
band plays on Sundays. There is nothing, unless it be the group of
rickshaw coolies at the curb, or the fat Chinese policeman in the roadway,
to recall China to the mind.

Yet Tientsin dominates all Northern China much as Shanghai dominates the
mighty valley of the Yangtse. The railways and waterways (including the
Grand Canal) all lead to Tientsin. It is Peking's seaport. The viceroy of
the Northern Provinces makes it his seat of government. The chief point of
contact between these Northern Provinces and Western civilization, it is
through Tientsin that the new ideas which are stirring the sluggish
Chinese mind to new desires and to a new purpose filter into one hundred
million Mongoloid heads.

The foreign settlement is simply a polyglot cluster of nationalities, each
with its "concession" or allotment of land wrung from a browbeaten empire,
each with its separate municipal government ruled by its own
consul-general, and the whole combined, for purposes of defense and
aggression, into a loosely knit city of seven or eight thousand whites
under the general direction of a dozen consulates. The British have their
polo, golf, and racing grounds; the French have their wealthy church
orders and their Parisian moving pictures; the Germans have their beer
halls and delicatessen shops. The Japanese, the Russians, the Italians,
the Austrians, all the powers, in fact, excepting the United States--which
holds no land in China--contribute their lesser shares to the colour and
the activity of this extraordinary place. And only a mile or two away,
further up the crooked river, lies the huge, sprawling Chinese city, where
nine hundred and fifty thousand blue-clad celestials--nearly a round
million of them--ceaselessly watch the squabbling groups of foreigners,
and by means of newspapers, travelling merchants, and the thousand and one
other instruments for the spreading of gossip, tell all Northern China
what they see.

Tientsin, then, like Shanghai, is a potent, an electric, force in its
influence on China. Whatever the Chinese are to become in their struggle
towards the light of day will be in some measure due to the example set by
these two cities, the only samples of Western civilization which the
Chinaman can scrutinize at close range. The missionary tells him of the
God of the Western peoples, and of how His Spirit regenerates humankind;
the Chinaman listens stolidly, and then turns to look at the samples of
regenerated peoples that fringe his Coast. What he actually sees will
stick in his mind long after what he merely hears shall have passed out at
the other ear. And these impressions that stick in the Chinaman's mind are
precisely the highly charged forces that are revolutionizing China to-day.

While still at Peking, I had picked up more or less gossip which seemed
to indicate that the Tientsin foreign concessions were setting an
unfortunate example in the matter of opium. In several of the concessions
there are thousands of Chinese traders who have crowded in the white man's
territory, in order to make a living. These Chinese districts demand their
opium, and they have always been allowed to have it. The opium shops and
dens are licensed, as are our saloons, and the resulting revenue is
cheerfully accepted by the various municipalities. When the Chinese
officials set out to fight opium last winter and spring, they asked the
foreign consuls to cooperate with them. This could be no more than a
friendly request, for the concessions are foreign soil, that have passed
wholly out of China's control; but it was obviously of no use to close the
dens of the native city if smokers could continue to gratify their desire
by simply walking down the road.

This request bothered the consuls. The Chinese had adroitly placed them in
a difficult position. A failure to cooperate would look bad; but revenue
is revenue, on the Chinese Coast as elsewhere. More, if they could play
for time, the enforcement in the native city, by driving the smokers over
into the concessions, would actually increase the revenue. So the consuls
played for time. They spread the impression "back home" that they were
going to close the dens. When? Oh, soon--very soon. There were matters of
detail to attend to. The licenses must run out. Then, too, perhaps the
Chinese proposals were "insincere"--a little time would show.

The British concession boasted proudly that it had no opium dens. This was
true. The concession is wholly taken up with British shops and British
homes, and there is no room for Chinese residents. The German concession
had so few natives that it closed some of its dens and took what credit it
could. The Japanese quietly put on the lid. But all the other concessions
remained "wide open."

So ran the Peking gossip. It seemed to me worth while to follow it up; for
if it should prove true that the concessions were actually profiting, like
Shanghai, by the native prohibition, that fact would be significant. It
would leave little to say for the representatives of foreign civilization
in China.

There was a particular reason why the prohibition should be made
effective in and about Tientsin. The one official who stood before his
country and the world as the anti-opium leader, who personified, in fact,
the reform spirit which is leavening the Chinese mass, was Yuan Shi K'ai,
the Northern viceroy. Tientsin was his viceregal capital. Before he could
hope to convince the cynical observers of Britain and Europe that the
anti-opium crusade was really on, he had to make good in his own city.

Yuan Shi K'ai is a remarkable man. Unlike some of his colleagues who have
travelled and studied abroad, he has never, I believe, been over the sea;
yet no Chinese official shows a firmer grasp on his biggest and most
bewildering of the world's governmental problems. Practically a self-made
man (his father was a soldier), he worked up from rank to rank, himself a
part and a product of the antiquated absolutism of his country, until he
emerged at the top, a red-button mandarin, a viceroy, with a personality
towering above the superstitious, tradition-ridden court, and yet
sufficiently able and skillful to work with and through that court. We
have seen, in an earlier chapter, how Yuan, then a governor, kept Shantung
Province quiet during the Boxer outbreak. It is he who is building up the
"new army" with the aid of German and Japanese drill-masters. It is he who
succeeded in introducing the study of modern science into the education of
the official classes. He is committed to the abolition of the palace
eunuch system. He has, during the past year, made great headway with his
bold plan to remodel this land of fossilized ideas into a constitutional
monarchy, with a representative parliament. But first, and above all else,
he places the opium reforms. Unless this curse can be checked, and at
least partially removed, there is no hope of progress.

Throughout this magnificent struggle for a new China, Viceroy Yuan has
radically opposed the very spirit and genius of his race; but far from
ostracizing himself or splitting the government, he has grown steadily in
power and influence, until now, as a sort of prime minister, he appears to
hold the substance of imperial authority in his hands. Try to imagine a
self-made, reform politician outwitting and beating down the traditions of
Tammany Hall in New York City, multiply his difficulties by a thousand or
two, and you will perhaps have some notion of the sheer ability of this
great man, who has risen above the traditions, even above the age-old
prejudices of his own people. There are many Europeans in his
retinue--physicians, military men, engineers, educators--all of whom
apparently look up to him as a genuine superior. An _attaché_ summed up
for me this feeling which Yuan inspires in those who know him: "You forget
to think of him as a Chinaman," said this _attaché_, "as in any way
different from the rest of us."

The viceroy took a personal hand in the Tientsin situation. On December 2,
1906, he issues the following document to the North and South Police
Commissioners of Tientsin native city. Rather than altar the quaint
wording, I quote just as it was translated for me:

"I have just received instructions from the cabinet ministers enjoining me
to act according to the regulations which they presented to the throne,
and which received their Majesties' consent. The evil effects of opium are
known to all. It is the duty of us all to act according to the
regulations, and do our utmost to get rid of them.

"The North and South police commissioners are authorized to close the
opium dens, which have been the refuge of idle hands and young people who
are not allowed to smoke at home. The said dens are to be closed at the
end of the Tenth Moon (December 14th), at the same time notifying the
keepers of restaurants and wine shops not to have opium-smoking
instruments or opium prepared for their customers, nor are their customers
allowed to take opium and smoke there.

"As to the concessions, the Customs Taotai is authorized to open
conference with the different consuls, asking them to close the opium dens
within a limited time."

The two police commissioners at once made the proclamation public; and, as
is evident from the following "Reply to a petition," met with difficulties
in enforcing it:

"It is impossible to change the date of closing dens. What is said in the
petition, that the keepers cannot square their accounts with their
customers, may be true, but the viceroy's order must be obeyed. The dens
shall be closed at the specified time."

These orders were carried out. It is one of the advantages of a
patriarchal form of government that orders can be carried out. There were
no injunctions, no writs to show cause, no technical appeals. The few den
keepers who dared to violate the prohibition were mildly punished on the
first offense--most of them receiving two full weeks at hard labour. The
real responsibility was placed upon the owners of the property rented out
to the den keepers. It was recognized that these owners were the ones who
really profited by the vice. They were given an opportunity to report any
violations occurring on their property; but if a violation occurred, and
the owner failed to report, his property was promptly confiscated. Here we
see successfully employed a method which we in this country have been
unable as yet to put into effect. The futility of punishing engineers and
switchmen for the sins of railroad corporations, of punishing clerks for
the offenses of bank directors, of punishing keepers of disorderly houses
in cases where we know that the real profit goes, in the form of a high
rental, to the respectable owner of the property, has long been recognized
among us. In China, while we see much that seems intolerable in the
enforcement of law, we must admit that it is refreshing to find laws
really enforced, and to see responsibility sometimes put where it belongs.
We of the United States are far ahead of the Chinese in all that goes to
make up what we call civilization. But we have, among others, a law
forbidding the sale of liquor on Sundays in New York City. We couldn't
enforce the law if we tried; and we haven't enough moral courage to strike
it off the books for the dead letter it is.

Yes, the Tientsin situation has its refreshing side. Yuan Shi K'ai--a
Chinaman,--set about it to close the opium dens that supplied this
swarming cityful of Chinamen, and succeeded. He solved that most difficult
problem which confronts human governments everywhere--in every climate,
under every sky--the problem of moral regulation. He drove the
manufacturers of opium and of opium accessories out of business. He cut
his way through a tangle of "interests," vested and otherwise, not so
different in their essence from the liquor interests of this country.
Thanks to his own character and resource, thanks to the cheerful
directness of Chinese methods of governing (when directness and not
indirectness is really wanted), he "got results." And not only in Tientsin
native city, but also in Peking, and Pao-ting-fu, and all Chili Province,
and throughout Shansi Province, and over large portions of Shantung,
Shansi, and Manchuria. It was not a case of Maine prohibition, or Kansas
prohibition, or New York excise regulation. He closed the dens!

While he was accomplishing this result, and while the native Chamber of
Commerce was appropriating a sum of money to found a hospital for the cure
of opium victims, the "Customs Taotai," obeying the viceroy's
instructions, courteously requested the consuls, as rulers of the foreign
city, to help along by closing the dens in their municipalities. It was
mainly to see whether or not the consuls were "helping" that I went down
to Tientsin. There was no need to ask questions or to burrow among
statistics. The opium dens of the concessions were either or they were
not. Accordingly, I set out from the Astor House at nine o'clock one
evening, by rickshaw. For interpreter I had Mr. Sung, the secretary of the
Native Young Men's Christian Association, and with us went a young
Englishman who spoke the language. This test seemed a fair one to apply,
for it was April 23d, nearly five months after Viceroy Yuan's
proclamation, and several weeks after the closing of the last dens in the
native city.

We began with the French concession; and our first glimpses of the
thriving opium business of the little municipality astonished us. The
Taiku Road, the main street, where one finds churches, mission compounds,
offices, and shops, displayed a row of red lights. Our three rickshaws
pulled up at the first and we went in.

An opium den usually takes up one floor of a building. Against the walls
is a continuous wooden platform, perhaps two feet high and extending over
seven or eight feet into the room. This platform is divided at intervals
of five or six feet by low partitions, sometimes but a few inches in
height, into compartments, each of which accommodates two smokers, with
one lamp between them. Sometimes a rug or a bit of matting is laid on this
hard couch, sometimes not; for the Chinaman, accustomed to sleeping on
bricks, prefers his couches hard. A man always lies down to smoke opium;
for the porous pill, which is pressed into the tiny orifice of the pipe,
cannot be ignited, but is held directly over the lamp and the flame drawn
up through it.

The first den we entered was on the second floor of a rickety building. We
climbed the steep, infinitely dirty stairway, crossed a narrow hall, and
opened a door. At first I found it difficult to see distinctly in the dim
light and through the thick blue haze; and the overpowering, sickish fumes
of the drug got into my nose and throat and made breathing a noticeable
effort. There was a desk by the door, behind which sat the keeper of the
den, with a litter of pipes and thimble-like cups before him. In a corner
of the desk was a jar of opium, a thick, sticky substance, dark brown in
colour, in appearance not unlike molasses in January. There were twenty
smokers on the couches, some preparing the pellet of opium by kneading it
and pressing it on the pipe-bowl, some dozing off the fumes, and a few
smoking. An attendant moved about the room with fresh supplies of the
drug. For each thimbleful, enough for one or two smokes, the price was
fifteen cents (Mexican).

The smokers seemed to be mainly of the lower classes; though hardly so low
as coolies, who are lucky to earn as much as fifteen cents in a day. It
was evident to both of my companions, from the appearance of these men and
from their talk, that they could ill afford the luxury. The number of
smokes indulged in seemed to range from three or four up to an indefinite
number. The youngest and healthiest appearing man in the room told us that
after three pipes he could go home and go to sleep in comfort. He had been
at it less than a year, he said; and, judging from the expression of
peaceful content that came over his face as he held the pipe-bowl over the
lamp and drew the smoke deep into his lungs, he had not yet begun to feel
the ravages of the drug.

The next den we entered was small, crowded, and dirty. The price was only
ten cents. But the third den was the largest and decidedly the most
interesting of any that we saw. Like the others, it was situated in a
prosperous section of the Taiku Road, with its red light conspicuously
displayed over the door. From the facts that it was frankly open for
business and that not the slightest concern was shown at our entrance, it
seemed fair to believe that the keepers had no fear whatever of publicity
or of the law. Even when we announced ourselves to be investigators, our
questions were answered cheerfully and fully, and the man who escorted us
from room to room was apparently proud of the establishment. The couches
were not all occupied, but I counted thirty-five men sitting or reclining
on them. One man had a child with him, a girl of some six or eight years
of age, and when he had prepared his pipe and smoked it he permitted her
to take a whiff or two. In a rear room we saw four women smoking with the
men. The price of a smoke in this den was twenty-five cents.

I do not know how many opium dens were open for business in the French
concession on this particular April 23d, 1907, but of those that were open
I personally either entered or at least saw fifteen or sixteen, and that
without attempting anything in the nature of an exhaustive search. In the
Italian and Russian concessions I found about sixty dens open, mostly of a
very low grade. But the worst of the concessions, in this regard, was the
Austrian. Lying nearest to the native city, it had profited more largely
than any of the others by the native prohibition. It seemed also to have
the largest Chinese population; indeed, in appearance it was more like the
quaint old Chinese city than any of the other foreign municipalities.

We entered only three of the Austrian dens. But we saw the signs and
glanced in through the doorways of so many others that I was quite ready
to accept Mr. Sung's rough estimate of the total number within the narrow
confines of the concession: he put it at fifty to one hundred. It is
difficult to be exact in these estimates, because where laws are so
languidly enforced the official returns hardly begin to state the full
number of flourishing establishments. These three dens which we entered
were enough to make an ineffaceable impression on the mind of one
traveller. I have eaten and slept in native hostelries, in the interior,
so unspeakably dirty and insanitary that to describe them in these pages
would exceed all bounds of taste, but I have never been in a filthier
place than at least one of these Austrian dens. And the other two were
little better. It would require some means more adequate than pen, ink,
and paper, to convey to the reader an accurate notion of the mingled,
half-blended odours which seemed to underlie, or to form a background for,
the overpowering fumes of what passed here for opium. What this drug
compound was I really do not know; but it was sold at the rate of two
pipes for three cents, Mexican, equivalent to a cent and a half, gold. For
real opium, of fair or good quality, it is quite possible, in China, to
pay from ten to twenty times as much. Such dens as this, then, are not
only vicious resorts maintained for the purpose of catering to a
degrading habit; they are also breeding places of disease and pestilence.

Thus one night's work made it plain that the foreign concessions were
taking no steps that would evidence a spirit of coöperation with the
Chinese authorities in their vigorous attempt to check and control the
ravages of opium. Tientsin, like Shanghai, did not care. Tientsin, like
Shanghai, is sowing the wind in China.

Let us now turn aside for a moment to consider the third important point
of contact between the two kinds of civilization--Hongkong.

Hongkong is neither a "settlement" nor a "concession." It is a British
crown colony, with its own government and its own courts. The original
property, a mountainous island lying near the mouth of the Canton River,
was taken from the Chinese in 1842, as a part of the penalty which China
had to pay for losing the Opium War. Later, a strip of the mainland
opposite was added to the colony. Hongkong is one of the most important
seaports in the world. It is the meeting place for freight and passenger
ships from North America, South America, New Zealand and Australia, India,
Europe, Africa, and the Philippines and other Pacific islands. It
commands the trade of the Canton River Valley, which, though not
geographically so imposing as the wonderful valley of the Yangtse,
supports, nevertheless, the densely populated region reached by the
innumerable canal-like branches of the river. The city of Canton alone,
eighty or ninety miles inland from Hongkong, claims 2,500,000 inhabitants.
It is safe to say that fifty million Chinamen are constantly under the
influence of the civilizing example set by Hongkong.

What is the attitude of the Colonial government towards the opium
question? Simply that the opium habit is a legitimate source of revenue.
The British gentlemen who administer the government seem never to have
been disturbed by doubts as to the morality or humanity of their attitude.
Let me quote from the report of the Philippine Commission:

"Farming is the system adopted (renting out the monopoly control of the
drug to an individual or a corporation) and a considerable part of the
income of the colony is obtained from this source. The habit seems to be
spreading. No effort--except the increased price demanded by the farmer to
compensate for the increased price he has to pay to secure the
monopoly--is made to deter persons from using opium in the colony. Most of
the opium comes from India."

The attitude of the residents and merchants of the colony seems to be
expressed plainly enough by an editorial in a leading Hongkong paper which
lies before me, dated December 1, 1906: "It will take volumes of imperial
edicts to convince us that China ever honestly intends or is ever likely
to suppress the opium trade. It is up to China to take the initiative in
such a way as to leave no doubt that her intentions are honest and that
the native opium trade will be abandoned. Until that is done, it is idle
to discuss the question."

In other words, Hongkong refuses to consider giving up its opium revenue
until the Chinese take the market away from it.

I think we may consider the point established that Great Britain is
directly responsible for the introduction of opium into China, and,
through the ingenuity and persistence of her merchants and her diplomats,
for the growth of the habit in that country. To-day, in spite of an
unmistakable tendency on the part of the Home government (which we shall
consider in a later chapter) to yield to the pressure of the anti-opium
agitation in England, the government of India continues to grow and
manufacture vast quantities of the drug for the Chinese trade. To-day the
representatives of that government at Hongkong are profiting largely from
a monopoly control of the opium importation. To-day, at Shanghai, where
the British predominate in population, in trade, and in the city
government, the opium evil is mishandled in a scandalous manner, and--as
elsewhere--for profit. Small wonder, therefore, that other and less
scrupulous foreign nations, where they have an opportunity to profit by
this vicious traffic, as at Tientsin, hasten to do so.

These three great ports--Shanghai, Tientsin, and Hongkong--are in constant
touch commercially with a grand total of very nearly 200,000,000 Chinese.
They are, therefore, constantly exerting a direct influence on that number
of Chinese minds. As I have pointed out, this influence, because it is
concentrated and tangible, is much stronger than the admittedly potent
influence of the widely scattered missionaries, physicians, and teachers.
From the life and example of the Western nations, as they exist at these
ports, the Chinaman is drawing most of his ideas of progress and
enlightenment.

In a word, the new China that we shall sooner or later have to deal with
among the nations of the world is the new China that the ports are helping
to make--for this new China is to-day in process of development. She is
struggling heroically to digest and assimilate the Western ideas which
alone can bring life and vigour to the sluggish Chinese mass. And yet,
turning westward for aid, China is confronted with--Shanghai, Tientsin,
and Hongkong. Turning to Britain for a helping hand in her effort to check
the inroads of opium, she hears this cheerful doctrine from the one
British colony which China can really see and partly understand,
Hongkong--"It is up to China." Dr. Morrison has stated in one of his
letters to the _Times_ that Britain's attitude towards China is one of
sympathy, tempered by a lack of information. One very eminent British
diplomat with whom I discussed the opium question assured me that that
attitude of his government was "most sympathetic." Later, in London, I
found that this same government was quieting an aroused public opinion
with assurances that steps were being taken towards an agreement with
China in the matter of opium. All this was in the spring and summer of
1907. Six months later, the one British colony in China, and the two great
international ports, were cheerfully continuing their cynical policy of
sneering at or ignoring the attempts of the Chinese to overcome their
master-vice, and were cheerfully profiting by the situation.

It would perhaps seem fanciful to suggest that the great nations should
unite to regulate the coast ports. It would appear obvious that such
regulation, in so far as it might create a better understanding between
the Chinese and the representatives of foreign civilizations with whom
they must come in contact, would work to the advantage of commercial
interests. Anti-foreign riots are in progress to-day in China which have
their roots partly in racial misconception, partly in a long tradition of
injustice and bad faith; and it is hardly necessary to suggest that an
atmosphere of injustice, bad faith, and rioting is not the best atmosphere
in which to carry on trade. But, nevertheless, the inevitable difficulties
in the way of drawing the great nations together in the interests of a
better understanding with the Chinese people would seem to make such a
solution academic rather than practical.

But, still hoping that something may be done about it, something that may
lessen the likelihood of the reaping of a whirlwind in China, suppose that
we alter the phrase of that Hongkong editorial and state that instead of
the problem being up to China, it is distinctly up to Great Britain? Great
Britain brought the opium into China. Great Britain kept it there until it
took root and spread over the native soil. Great Britain has admitted her
guilt, and had pledged herself by a majority vote in Parliament, and by
the promises of her governing ministers, to do something about it. Suppose
that Great Britain be called upon to make good her pledge? It would be an
interesting experiment. All that is necessary is to cut down the
production of opium in India, year by year, until it ceases altogether,
and with it the exportation into China. This course would solve
automatically the opium problem at Hongkong; and it would put it up to the
municipal authorities at Shanghai and Tientsin in an interesting fashion.
It would in no way jeopardize Britain's interest in the diplomatic balance
of the Far East. It would work for the good rather than the harm of the
trade with China. And it would be the first necessary step in the arduous
matter of cleaning up the treaty ports and setting a higher example to
China.

To this course Great Britain would appear to be committed by the
utterances for her government. But the world, like the man from Missouri,
has yet to be "shown." In a later chapter we shall consider this question
of promise and performance in the light of Britain's peculiar governmental
problem.



VII

HOW BRITISH CHICKENS CAME HOME TO ROOST


We have seen, in the preceding chapters, that the Anglo-Indian government
controls absolutely the production of opium in India, prepares the drug
for the market in government-owned and government-operated factories, and
sells it at monthly auctions. Let me also recall to the reader that
four-fifths of this opium is prepared to suit the known taste of Chinese
consumers. The annual value to the Anglo-Indian government of this curious
industry, it will be recalled, is well over $20,000,000.

Now we have to consider the last strong defense of this policy which the
British government has seen fit to offer to a protesting world, the report
of the Royal Commission on Opium. Against this stout defense of the opium
traffic in all its branches, we are able to set not only the findings of
other governments, such as those of Japan, the Philippines, and Australia,
which have opium problems of their own to deal with, but also the
curious attitude of a certain British colony, amounting almost to what
might be called an opium panic, on that occasion when the Oriental drug
found its way near enough home to menace British subjects and British
children.


[Illustration: WEIGHING OPIUM IN A GOVERNMENT FACTORY, INDIA]


The men who administer the government of India have a chronically
difficult job on their hands. In order to keep it on their hands they have
got to please the British public; and that is not so easy as it perhaps
sounds. It would apparently please both the government and the public if
the whole opium question could be thrown after the twenty thousand chests
of Canton--into the sea. But the British public is hard-headed, and proud
of it; and the spectacle of the magnificent, panoplied government of India
gone bankrupt, or so embarrassed as to be calling upon the Home government
for aid, would not please it at all. Of the two evils, debauching China or
gravely impairing the finances of India, there has been reason to believe
that it would prefer debauching China. That, at least, is what successive
governments of Britain and of India seem to have concluded. It has seemed
wiser to endure a known quantity of abuse for sticking to opium than to
risk the cold British scorn for the bankrupt; and, accordingly, the Indian
government with the approval of one Home government after another, has
stuck to opium. The only alternative course, that of developing a new,
healthy source of revenue to supplant opium, the unhealthy, would involve
real ideas and an immense amount of trouble; and these two things are only
less abhorrent to the administrative mind than political annihilation
itself.

But there came a time, not so long ago, when a wave of "anti-opium"
feeling swept over England, and the British public suddenly became very
hard to please. Parliament agreed that the idea of a government opium
monopoly in India was "morally indefensible," and even went so far as to
send out a "Royal Commission" to investigate the whole question. Now this
commission, after travelling twenty thousand miles, asking twenty-eight
thousand questions, and publishing two thousand pages (double columns,
close print) of evidence, arrived at some remarkable conclusions. "Opium,"
says the Royal Commission, "is harmful, harmless, or even beneficial,
according to the measure and discretion with which it is used.... It is
[in India] the universal household remedy.... It is extensively
administered to infants, and the practice does not appear, to any
appreciable extent, injurious.... It does not appear responsible for any
disease peculiar to itself." As to the traffic with China, the Commission
states--"Responsibility mainly lies with the Chinese government." And,
finally (which seems to bring out the pith of the matter), "In the present
circumstances the revenue derived from opium is indispensable for carrying
on with efficiency the government of India."

To one familiar with this extraordinary summing-up of the evidence, it
seems hardly surprising that the Rt. Hon. John Morley, the present
Secretary of State for India, should have said in Parliament (May,
1906)--"I do not wish to speak in disparagement of the Commission, but
somehow or other its findings have failed to satisfy public opinion in
this country and to ease the consciences of those who have taken up the
matter."

The methods employed by a Royal Commission which could arrive at such
remarkable conclusions could hardly fail to be interesting. The Government
opium traffic was a scandal. Parliament was on record against it. There
was simply nothing to be said for opium or for the opium monopoly. It was
"morally indefensible"--officially so. It was agreed that the Indian
government should be "urged" to cease to grant licenses for the
cultivation of the poppy and for the sale of opium in British India. This
was interesting--even gratifying. There was but one obstacle in the way of
putting an end to the whole business; and that obstacle was, in some
inexplicable way, this same British government. The opium monopoly,
morally indefensible or not, seemed to be going serenely and steadily on.
If the Indian government was urged in the matter, there was no record of
it.

Two years passed. Mr. Gladstone, the great prime minister, deplored the
opium evil--and took pains not to stop or limit it. Like the House of
Peers in the Napoleonic wars, he "did nothing in particular--and did it
very well." So the vigilant crusaders came at the government again. In
June, 1893, Mr. Alfred Webb moved a resolution which (so ran the hopes of
these crusaders) the most nearly Christian government could not resist or
evade. Sure of the anti-opium majority, the new resolution, "having regard
to the opinion expressed by the vote of this House on the 10th of April,
1891, that the system by which the Indian opium revenue is raised is
morally indefensible,... and recognizing that the people of India ought
not to be called upon to bear the cost involved in this change of policy,"
demanded that "a Royal Commission should be appointed ... to report as to
(1) What retrenchments and reforms can be effected in the military and
civil expenditures of India; (2) By what means Indian resources can be
best developed; and (3) What, if any, temporary assistance from the
British Exchequer would be required in order to meet any deficit of
revenue which would be occasioned by the suppression of the opium
traffic."

The crusaders had underestimated the parliamentary skill of Mr. Gladstone.
He promptly moved a counter resolution, proposing that "this House press
on the Government of India to continue their policy of greatly diminishing
the cultivation of the poppy and the production and sale of opium, and
demanding a Royal Commission to report as to (1) Whether the growth of the
poppy and the manufacture and sale of opium in British India should be
prohibited.... (4) The effect on the finances of India of the prohibition
... taking into consideration (a) the amount of compensation payable; (b)
the cost of the necessary preventive measures; (c) the loss of revenue....
(5) The disposition of the people of India in regard to (a) the use of
opium for non-medical purposes; (b) their willingness to bear in whole or
in part the cost of prohibitive measures."

Mr. Gladstone's resolution looked, to the unthinking, like an anti-opium
document. He doubtless meant that it should, for in his task of
maintaining the opium traffic he had to work through an anti-opium
majority. Mr. Webb's resolution, starting from the assumption that the
government was committed to suppressing the traffic, called for a
commission merely to arrange the necessary details. Mr. Gladstone's
resolution raised the whole question again, and instructed the commission
not only to call particular attention to the cost of prohibition (the
shrewd premier knew his public!), not only to find out if the victims of
opium in India wished to continue the habit, but also threw the whole
burden of cost on the poverty-stricken people of India--which he knew
perfectly well they could not bear. The original resolution had sprung
out of a moral outcry against the China trade. Mr. Gladstone, in beginning
again at the beginning, ignored the China trade and the effects of opium
on the Chinese.

But more interesting, if less significant than this attitude, was the
suggestion that the Indian government "continue their policy of greatly
diminishing the cultivation of the poppy." Now this suggestion conveyed an
impression that was either true or false. Either the Indian government was
putting down opium or it was not. In either event, if Mr. Gladstone was
not fully informed, it was his own fault, for the machinery of government
was in his hands. The best way to straighten out this tangle would seem to
be to consult the report of Mr. Gladstone's commission. This commission,
on its arrival in India, found no trace of a policy of suppressing the
trade. Sir David Balfour, the head of the Indian Finance Department, said
to the commission: "I was not aware that that was the policy of the Home
government until the statement was made.... The policy has been for some
time to sell about the same amount every year, neither diminishing that
amount nor increasing it. I should say decidedly, that at present our
desire is to obtain the maximum revenue from the opium consumed in India."
As regarded the China trade, Sir David added: "We will not largely
increase the cultivation because we shall be attacked if we do so." And
this--"We have adopted a middle course and preserved the _status quo_ with
reference to the China trade."

Mr. Gladstone's resolution was adopted by 184 votes to 105, the anti-opium
crusaders voting against it. And the Royal Commission, with instructions
not, as had been intended, to arrange the details of a plan for stopping
the opium traffic, but with instructions to consider whether it would pay
to stop it, and if not, whether the people of India could be made to stand
the loss, started out on its rather hopeless journey.

One thing the crusaders had succeeded in accomplishing--they had forced
the government to send a commission to India. They had got one or two of
their number on the body. The commission would have to hear the evidence,
would be forced to air the situation thoroughly, showing a paternal
government not only manufacturing opium for the China trade, but actually,
since 1891, manufacturing pills of opium mixed with spices for the
children and infants of India. If the Indian government, now at last
brought to an accounting, wished to keep the opium business going, they
could do two things--they could see that the "right" sort of evidence was
given to the commission, and they could try to influence the commission
directly. They adopted both courses; though it appears now, to one who
goes over the attitude of the majority of the commission and especially of
Lord Brassey, the chairman, as shown in the records, that little direct
influence was necessary. Lord Brassey and his majority were pro-opium,
through and through. The Home government had seen to that.

The problem, then, of the administrators of the Indian government and of
this pro-opium commission was to defend a "morally indefensible" condition
of affairs in order to maintain the revenue of the Indian government. It
was a problem neither easy nor pleasant.

The Viceroy of India was Lord Lansdowne. He went at the problem with
shrewdness and determination. His attitude was precisely what one has
learned to expect in the viceroys of India. A later viceroy, Lord Curzon,
has spoken with infinite scorn of the "opium faddists." Lord Lansdowne
approached the business in the same spirit. He began by sending a telegram
from his government to the British Secretary of State for India, which
contained the following passage: "We shall be prepared to suggest
non-official witnesses, who will give independent evidence, but we cannot
undertake to specially search for witnesses who will give evidence against
opium. We presume this will be done by the Anti-Opium Society." This
message had been sent in August, 1893, but it was not made public until
the 18th of the following November. On November 20th Lord Lansdowne sent a
letter to Lord Brassey, "which," says Mr. Henry J. Wilson, M. P., in his
minority report, "was passed around among the members [of the commission]
for perusal. It contained a statement in favour of the existing opium
system, and against interference with that system as likely to lead to
serious trouble. This appeared to me a departure from the judicial
attitude which might have been expected from Her Majesty's
representatives."

From this Mr. Wilson goes on, in his report, to lay bare the methods of
the Indian government in preparing evidence for the commission. To say
that these methods show a departure from the expected "judicial attitude"
is to speak with great moderation. It is not necessary, I think, to weary
the reader with the details of these extended operations. That is not the
purpose of this writing. It should be enough to say that Lord Lansdowne
and his Indian government ordered that all evidence should be submitted to
the commission through their offices; that only pro-opium evidence was
submitted; that a government official travelled with the commission and
openly worked up the evidence in advance; that the minority members were
hindered and hampered in their attempts at real investigation, and were
shadowed by detectives when they travelled independently in the
opium-producing regions; and, finally, that Lord Brassey abruptly closed
the report of the commission without giving the minority members an
opportunity to discuss it in detail. The result of these methods was
precisely what might have been expected. Opium was declared a mild and
harmless stimulant for all ages. No home, in short, was complete without
it.

There is an answer to the report of the Royal Commission on opium more
telling than can be found in speeches or in minority reports. In an
earlier article we examined into the beginnings of opium. We saw how it is
grown and manufactured; how it passes out of the hands of the British
government into the currents of trade; how it is carried along on these
currents--small quantities of it washing up in passing the Straits and the
Malay Archipelago--to China; how it blends at the Chinese ports in the
flood of the new native-grown opium and divides among the trade currents
of that great empire until every province receives its supply of the
"foreign dirt." Now let us follow it farther; for it does not stop there.

The Chinese are great traders and great travellers. The weight of the
national misery presses them out into whatever new regions promise a
reward for industry. They swarmed over the Pacific to America in a yellow
cloud until America, in sheer self-defense, barred them out. They swarmed
southward to Australia until Australia closed the doors on them. They
swarm to-day into the Philippines and into Malaysia. In the Straits
Settlement, in a total population of a little over half a million, more
than half (282,000) are Chinese. When America would build the Panama
Canal, her first impulse is to import the cheap Chinese labourer, who is
always so eager to come. When Britain took over the Transvaal she imported
70,000 Chinese labourers. And where the Chinese travel, opium travels too.

The real answer to the Royal Commission on opium should be found in the
attitude of these countries which have had to face the opium problem along
with the Chinese problem. Let us include in the list Japan, a country
which has had a remarkable opportunity to view the opium menace at short
range. What Japan thinks about opium, what Australia and the Transvaal and
the United States think, what the Philippines think, is more to the point
than any first-hand statements of a magazine reporter. We will take Japan
first. Does Japan think that opium is invaluable as a general household
remedy? Does Japan think that opium is good for children?

Here is what the Philippine Opium Commission, whose report is accepted
to-day as the most authoritative survey of the opium situation, has to say
about opium in Japan:

"Japan, which is a non-Christian country, is the only country visited by
the committee where the opium question is dealt with in the purely moral
and social aspect.... Legislation is enacted without the distraction of
commercial motives and interest.... No surer testimony to the reality of
the evil effects of opium can be found than the horror with which China's
next-door neighbour views it.... The Japanese to a man fear opium as we
fear the cobra or the rattlesnake, and they despise its victims. There has
been no moment in the nation's history when the people have wavered in
their uncompromising attitude towards the drug and its use, so that an
instinctive hatred possesses them. China's curse has been Japan's warning,
and a warning heeded. An opium user in Japan would be socially a leper.

"The opium law of Japan forbids the importation, the possession, and the
use of the drug, except as a medicine; and it is kept to the letter in a
population of 47,000,000, of whom perhaps 25,000 are Chinese. So rigid are
the provisions of the law that it is sometimes, especially in interior
towns, almost impossible to secure opium or its alkaloids in cases of
medical necessity.... The government is determined to keep the opium
habit strictly confined to what they deem to be its legitimate use, which
use even, they seem to think, is dangerous enough to require special
safeguarding.

"Certain persons are authorized by the head official of each district to
manufacture and prepare opium for medicinal purposes.... That which is up
to the required standard (in quality) is sold to the government: and that
which falls short is destroyed. The accepted opium is sealed in proper
receptacles and sold to a selected number of wholesale dealers
(apothecaries) who in turn provide physicians and retail dealers with the
drug for medicinal uses only. It can reach the patient for whose relief it
is desired only through the prescription of the attending physician. The
records of those who thus use opium in any of its various forms must be
preserved for ten years.

"The people not merely obey the law, but they are proud of it; they would
not have it altered if they could. It is the law of the government, but it
is the law of the people also.... Apparently, the vigilance of the police
is such that even when opium is successfully smuggled in, it cannot be
smoked without detection. The pungent fumes of cooked opium are
unmistakable, and betray the user almost inevitably.... There is an
instance on record where a couple of Japanese lads in North Formosa
experimented with opium just for a lark; and though they were guilty only
on this occasion, they were detected, arrested, and punished."

That is what Japan thinks about opium.

The conclusions of this Philippine Commission formed the basis of the new
opium prohibition in the Philippines, which went into effect March 1,
1908. The plan is a modification of the Japanese system of dealing with
the evil.

Australia and New Zealand have also been forced to face the opium problem.
New Zealand, by an act of 1901, amended in 1903, prohibits the traffic,
and makes offenders liable to a penalty not exceeding $2,500 (£500) for
each offense. In the Australian Federal Parliament the question was
brought to an issue two or three years ago. Petitions bearing 200,000
signatures were presented to the parliament, and in response a law was
enacted absolutely prohibiting the importation of opium, except for
medicinal uses, after January 1, 1906. All the state governments of
Australia lose revenue by this prohibition. The voice of the Australian
people was apparently expressed in the Federal Parliament by Hon. V. L.
Solomon, who said: "In the cities of the Southern States anybody going to
the opium dens would see hundreds of apparently respectable Europeans
indulging in this horrible habit. It is a hundredfold more damaging, both
physically and morally, than the indulgence in alcoholic liquors."

That is what Australia and New Zealand think about opium.

The attitude of the United States is thus described by the Philippine
Commission: "It is not perhaps generally known that in the only instance
where America has made official utterances relative to the use of opium in
the East, she has spoken with no uncertain voice. By treaty with China in
1880, and again in 1903, no American bottoms are allowed to carry opium in
Chinese waters. This ... is due to a recognition that the use of opium is
an evil for which no financial gain can compensate, and which America will
not allow her citizens to encourage even passively." By the terms of this
treaty, citizens of the United States are forbidden to "import opium into
any of the open ports of China, or transport from one open port to any
other open port, or to buy and sell opium in any of the open ports of
China. This absolute prohibition ... extends to vessels owned by the
citizens or subjects of either power, to foreign vessels employed by them,
or to vessels owned by the citizens or subjects of either power and
employed by other persons for the transportation of opium." Thus the
United States is flatly on record as forbidding her citizens to engage, in
any way whatever, in the Chinese opium traffic.

The last item of expert evidence which I shall present from the countries
most deeply concerned in the opium question is from that British colony,
the Transvaal. Were the subject less grim, it would be difficult to
restrain a smile over this bit of evidence--it is so human, and so
humorous. For a century and more, Anglo-Indian officials have been kept
busy explaining that opium is a heaven-sent blessing to mankind. It is
quite possible that many of them have come to believe the words they have
repeated so often. Why not? China was a long way off--and India certainly
did need the money. The poor official had to please the sovereign people
back home, one way or another. If a choice between evils seemed
necessary, was he to blame? We must try not to be too hard on the
government official. Perhaps opium _was_ good for children. Keep your
blind eye to the telescope and you can imagine anything you like.


[Illustration: WHERE THE CHINAMAN TRAVELS, OPIUM TRAVELS TOO A Consignment
of Opium from China to the United States, Photographed in the Custom
House, San Francisco]


The situation was given its grimly humorous twist when the monster opium
began to invade regions nearer home. It came into the Transvaal after the
Boer War, along with those 70,000 Chinese labourers. The result can only
be described as an opium panic. I quote, regarding it, from that
"Memorandum Concerning Indo-Chinese Opium Trade," which was prepared for
the debate in Parliament during May, 1906:

"The Transvaal offers a striking illustration of the old proverb as to
chickens coming home to roost.

"On the 6th of September, 1905, Sir George Farrar moved the adjournment of
the Legislative Council at Pretoria, to call attention to 'the enormous
quantity of opium' finding its way into the Transvaal. He urged that
'measures should be taken for the immediate stopping of the traffic.' On
6th October, an ordinance was issued, restricting the importation of opium
to registered chemists, only, according to regulations to be prescribed
by permits by the lieutenant-governor--under a penalty not exceeding £500
($2,500), or imprisonment not exceeding six months.

"Any person in possession of such substance ... except for medicinal
purposes, unless under a permit, is liable to similar penalties. Stringent
rights of search are given to police, constables, under certain
circumstances, without even the necessity of a written authority.

"The under-secretary for the colonies has also stated, 'that the Chinese
Labour Importation Ordinance, 1904, has been amended to penalize the
possession by, and supply to, Chinese labourers of opium.'"

Apparently opium is not good for the children of South Africa. That it
would be good (to get still nearer home) for the children and infants of
Great Britain, is an idea so monstrous, so horrible, that I hardly dare
suggest it. No one, I think, would go so far as to say that the Royal
Commission would have reached those same extraordinary conclusions had the
problem lain in Great Britain instead of in far-off India and China. Walk
about, of a sunny afternoon, in Kensington Gardens. Watch the ruddy,
healthy children sailing their boats in the Round Pond, or playing in the
long grass where the sheep are nibbling, or running merrily along the
well-kept borders of the Serpentine. They are splendid youngsters, these
little Britishers. Their skins are tanned, their eyes are clear, their
little bodies are compactly knit. Each child has its watchful nurse. What
would the mothers say if His Majesty's Most Excellent Government should
undertake the manufacture and distribution of attractive little pills of
opium and spices for these children, and should defend its course not only
on the ground that "the practice does not appear to any appreciable extent
injurious," but also on the ground that "the revenue obtained is
indispensable for carrying on the government with efficiency"?

What would these British mothers say? It is a fair question. The
"conservative" pro-opiumist is always ready with an answer to this
question. He claims that it is not fair. He maintains that the Oriental is
different from the Occidental--racially. Opium, he says, has no such
marked effect on the Chinaman as it has on the Englishman, no such marked
effect on the Chinese infant as it has on the British infant. I have met
this "conservative" pro-opiumist many times on coasting and river steamers
and in treaty port hotels. I have been one of a group about a rusty little
stove in a German-kept hostelry where this question was thrashed out. Your
"conservative" is so cock-sure about it that he grows, in the heat of his
argument, almost triumphant. At first I thought that perhaps he might be
partially right. One man's meat is occasionally another man's poison. The
Chinese differ from us in so many ways that possibly they might have a
greater capacity to withstand the ravages of opium.

It was partly to answer this question that I went to China. I did not
leave China until I had arrived at an answer that seemed convincing. If,
in presenting the facts in these columns, the picture I have been painting
of China's problem should verge on the painful, that, I am afraid, will be
the fault of the facts. It is a picture of the hugest empire in the whole
world, fighting a curse which has all but mastered it, turning for aid, in
sheer despair, to the government, that has brought it to the edge of ruin.
Strange to say, this British government, as it is to-day constituted,
would apparently like to help. But, across the path of assistance stands,
like a grotesque, inhuman dragon,--the Indian Revenue.



VIII

THE POSITION OF GREAT BRITAIN


An observant correspondent recently wrote from Shanghai to a New York
newspaper: "China has missed catching the fire of the West in the manner
of Japan, and has lain idle and supine while neighbour and foreigner
despoiled her. Her statesmanship has been languid and irresolute, and her
armies slow and spiritless in the field. Observers who know China, and are
familiar at the same time with the symptoms of opium, say that it is as if
the listless symptoms of the drug were to be seen in the very nation
itself. Many conclude that the military and political inertia of the
Chinese is due to the special prevalence of the opium habit among the two
classes of Chinamen directly responsible: both the soldiers and the
scholars, among whom all the civil and political posts are held in
monopoly, are notoriously addicted to opium."

The point which these chapters should make clear is that opium is the
evil thing which is not only holding China back but is also actually
threatening to bring about the most complete demoralization and decadence
that any large portion of the world has ever experienced. It is evident,
in this day of extended trade interests, that such a paralysis of the
hugest and the most industrious of the great races would amount to a
world-disaster. Already the United States is suffering from the weakness
of the Chinese government in Manchuria, which permits Japan to control in
the Manchurian province and to discriminate against American trade. This
discrimination would appear to have been one strong reason for the sailing
of the battleship fleet to the Pacific. If this relatively small result of
China's weakness and inertia can arouse great nations and can play a part
in the moving of great fleets, it is not difficult to imagine the
world-importance of a complete breakdown. Every great Western nation has a
trade or territorial footing in China to defend and maintain. Every great
Western nation is watching the complicated Chinese situation with
sleepless eyes. Such a breakdown might quite possibly mean the
unconditional surrender of China's destiny into the hands of Japan;
which, with Japan's growing desire to dominate the Pacific, and with it
the world, might quite possibly mean the rapid approach of the great
international conflict.

We have seen, in the course of these chapters, that China appears to be
almost completely in the grasp of her master-vice. The opium curse in
China is a dreadful example of the economic waste of evil. It has not only
lowered the vitality, and therefore the efficiency of men, women, and
children in all walks of life, but it has also crowded the healthier crops
off the land, usurped no small part of the industrial life, turned the
balance of trade against China, plunged her into wars, loaded her with
indemnity charges, taken away part of her territory, and made her the
plundering ground of the nations. She has been compelled to look
indolently on while Japan, alight with the fire of progress, has raised
her brown head proudly among the peoples of the West. So China has at last
been driven to make a desperate stand against the encroachments of the
curse which is wrecking her. The fight is on to-day. It is plain that
China is sincere; she must be sincere, because her only hope lies in
conquering opium. She has turned for help to Great Britain, for Britain's
Indian government developed the opium trade ("for purposes of foreign
commerce only") and continues to-day to pour a flood of the drug into the
channels of Chinese trade. Once China thought to crowd out the Indian
product by producing the drug herself, as a preliminary to controlling the
traffic, but she has never been able to develop a grade of opium that can
compete with the brown paste from the Ganges Valley.

This summing up brings us to a consideration of two questions which must
be considered sooner or later by the people of the civilized world:

1. Can China hope to conquer the opium curse without the help of Great
Britain?

2. What is Great Britain doing to help her?

In attempting to work out the answer to these questions, we must think of
them simply as practical problems bearing on the trade, the territorial
development, and the military and naval power of the nations. We must try
for the present to ignore the mere moral and ethical suggestions which the
questions arouse.

First, then: can China, single-handed, possibly succeed in this fight, now
going on, against the slow paralysis of opium?

China is not a nation in the sense in which we ordinarily use the word. If
we picture to ourselves the countries of Europe, with their different
languages and different customs drawn together into a loose confederation
under the government of a conquering race, we shall have some small
conception of what this Chinese "nation" really is. The peoples of these
different European countries are all Caucasians; the different peoples of
China are all Mongolians. These Chinese people speak eighteen or twenty
"languages," each divided into almost innumerable dialects and
sub-dialects. They are governed by Manchu, or Tartar, conquerors who
spring from a different stock, wear different costumes, and speak, among
themselves, a language wholly different from any of the eighteen or twenty
native tongues.

In making this diversity clear, it is necessary only to cite a few
illustrations. There is not even a standard of currency in China. Each
province or group of provinces has its own standard tael, differing
greatly in value from the tael which may be the basis of value in the next
province or group. There is no government coinage whatever. All the mints
are privately owned and are run for profit in supplying the local demand
for currency, and the basis of this currency is the Mexican dollar, a
foreign unit. They make dollar bills in Honan Province. I went into Chili
Province and offered some of these Honan bills in exchange for purchases.
The merchants merely looked at them and shook their heads. "Tientsin
dollar have got?" was the question. So the money of a community or a
province is simply a local commodity and has either a lower value or no
value elsewhere, for the simple reason that the average Chinaman knows
only his local money and will accept no other. The diversity of language
is as easily observed as the diversity of coinage. On the wharves at
Shanghai you can hear a Canton Chinaman and a Shanghai Chinaman talking
together in pidgin English, their only means of communication. When I was
travelling in the Northwest, I was accosted in French one day by a Chinese
station-agent, on the Shansi Railroad, who frankly said that he was led to
speak to me, a foreigner, by the fact that he was a "foreigner" too. With
his blue gown and his black pigtail, he looked to me no different from the
other natives; but he told me that he found the language and customs of
Shansi "difficult," and that he sometimes grew homesick for his native
city in the South.

That the Chinese of different provinces really regard one another as
foreigners may be illustrated by the fact that, during the Boxer troubles
about Tientsin, it was a common occurrence for the northern soldiers to
shoot down indiscriminately with the white men any Cantonese who appeared
within rifle-shot.

This diversity, probably a result of the cost and difficulty of travel, is
a factor in the immense inertia which hinders all progress in China.
People who differ in coinage, language, and customs, who have never been
taught to "think imperially" or in terms other than those of the village
or city, cannot easily be led into coöperation on a large scale. It is
difficult enough, Heaven knows, to effect any real change in the
government of an American city or state, or of the nation, let alone
effecting any real changes in the habits of men. Witness our own struggle
against graft. Witness also the vast struggle against the liquor traffic
now going on in a score of our states. Even in this land of ours, which is
so new that there has hardly been time to form traditions; which is alert
to the value of changes and quick to leap in the direction of progress;
which is essentially homogeneous in structure, with but one language,
innumerable daily newspapers, and a close network of fast, comfortable
railway trains to keep the various communities in touch with the
prevailing idea of the moment, how easy do we find it to wipe out
race-track gambling, say, or to make our insurance laws really effective,
or to check the corrupt practices of corporations, or to establish the
principle of local municipal ownership? To put it in still another light,
how easy do we find it to bring about a change which the great majority of
us agree would be for the better, such as making over the costly,
cumbersome express business into a government parcels post?

But there are large money interests which would suffer by such reforms,
you say? True; and there are large money interests suffering by the opium
reforms in China, relatively as large as any money interests we have in
this country. The opium reforms affect the large and the small farmers,
the manufacturers, the transportation companies, the bankers, the
commission men, the hundreds of thousands of shopkeepers, and the
government revenues, for the opium traffic is an almost inextricable
strand in the fabric of Chinese commerce. In addition to these bewildering
complications of the problem, there is the discouraging inertia to
overcome of a land which, far from being alert and active, is sunk in the
lethargy of ancient local custom.

No, in putting down her master-vice, China must not only overcome all the
familiar economic difficulties that tend to block reform everywhere, but,
in addition, must find a way to rouse and energize the most backward and
(outside of the age-old grooves of conduct and government) the most
unmanageable empire in the world.

On what element in her population must China rely to put this huge reform
into effect? On the officials, or mandarins, who carry out the
governmental edicts in every province, administer Chinese justice, and
control the military and finances. But of these officials, more than
ninety per cent. have been known to be opium-smokers, and fully fifty per
cent. have been financially interested in the trade.

Still another obstacle blocking reform is the powerful example and
widespread influence of the treaty ports. Perhaps the white race is
"superior" to the yellow; I shall not dispute that notion here. But one
fact which I know personally is that every one of the treaty ports, where
the white men rule, including the British crown colony of Hongkong, chose
last year to maintain its opium revenue regardless of the protests of the
Chinese officials.

Putting down opium in China would appear to be a pretty big job. The
"vested interests," yellow and white, are against a change; the personal
habits of the officials themselves work against it; the British keep on
pouring in their Indian opium; and by way of a positive force on the
affirmative side of the question there would appear to be only the
lethargy and impotence of a decadent, chaotic race. How would you like to
tackle a problem of this magnitude, as Yuan Shi K'ai and Tong Shao-i have
done? Try to organize a campaign in your home town against the bill-board
nuisance; against corrupt politics; against drink or cigarettes. Would it
be easy to succeed? When you have thought over some of the difficulties
that would block you on every hand, multiply them by fifty thousand and
then take off your hat to Tong Shao-i and Yuan Shi K'ai. Personally, I
think I should prefer undertaking to stamp out drink in Europe. I should
know, of course, that it would be rather a difficult business, but still
it would be easier than this Chinese proposition.

So much for the difficulties of the problem. Suppose now we take a look at
the results of the first year of the fight. There are no exact statistics
to be had, but based as it is on personal travel and observation, on
reports of travelling officials, merchants, missionaries, and of other
journalists who have been in regions which I did not reach, I think my
estimate should be fairly accurate. Remember, this is a fight to a finish.
If the Chinese government loses, opium will win.

The plan of the government, let me repeat, is briefly as follows: First,
the area under poppy cultivation is to be decreased about ten per cent.
each year, until that cultivation ceases altogether; and simultaneously
the British government is to be requested to decrease the exportation of
opium from India ten per cent. each year. Second, all opium dens or places
where couches or lamps are supplied for public smoking are to be closed at
once under penalty of confiscation. Third, all persons who purchase opium
at sale shops are to be registered, and the amount supplied to them to be
diminished from month to month. Meantime, the farmer is to be given all
possible advice and aid in the matter of substituting some other crop for
the poppy; opium cures and hospitals are to be established as widely as
possible; and preachers and lecturers are to be sent out to explain the
dangers of opium to the illiterate millions.

The central government at Peking started in by giving the high officials
six months in which to change their habits. At the end of that period a
large number were suspended from office, including Prince Chuau and Prince
Jui.

In one opium province, Shansi, we have seen that the enforcement was at
the start effective. The evidence, gathered with some difficulty from
residents and travellers, from roadside gossip, and from talks with
officials, all went to show that the dens in all the leading cities were
closed, that the manufacturers of opium and its accessories were going out
of business, and that the farmers were beginning to limit their crops.

The enforcements in the adjoining province, Chih-li, in which lies Peking,
was also thoroughly effective at the start. The opium dens in all the
large cities were closed during the spring, and the restaurants and
disorderly houses which had formerly served opium to their customers
surrendered their lamps and implements. Throughout the other provinces
north of the Yangtse River, while there was evidence of a fairly
consistent attempt to enforce the new regulations, the results were not
altogether satisfying. Along the central and southern coast, from Shanghai
to Canton, the enforcement was effective in about half the important
centers of population. In Canton, or Kwangtung Province, the prohibition
was practically complete.

The real test of the prohibition movement is to come in the great interior
provinces of the South, Yunnan and Kweichou, and in the huge western
province of Sze-chuan. It is in these regions that opium has had its
strongest grip on the people, and where the financial and agricultural
phases of the problems are most acute. All observers recognized that it
was unfair to expect immediate and complete prohibition in these regions,
where opium-growing is quite as grave a question as opium-smoking. The
beginning of the enforcement in Sze-chuan seems to have been cautious but
sincere. In this one province the share of the imperial tax on opium
alone, over and above local needs, amounts to more than $2,000,000
(gold), and, thanks to the constant demands of the foreign powers for
their "indemnity" money, the imperial government is hardly in a position
to forego its demands on the provinces. But recognizing that a new revenue
must be built up to supplant the old, the three new opium commissioners of
Sze-chuan have begun by preparing addresses explaining the evils of opium,
and sending out "public orators" to deliver them to the people. They have
also used the local newspapers extensively for their educational work; and
they have sent out the provincial police to make lists of all
opium-smokers, post their names on the outside of their houses, and make
certain that they will be debarred from all public employment and from
posts of honour. The chief commissioner, Tso, declares that he will clear
Chen-tu, the provincial capital, a city of 400,000 inhabitants, of opium
within four years; and no one seems to doubt that he will do it as
effectively as he has cleared the streets of the beggars for which Chen-tu
was formerly notorious. When Mr. J. G. Alexander, of the British
Anti-Opium Society, was in Chen-tu last year, this same Commissioner Tso
called a mass-meeting for him, at which the native officials and gentry
sat on the platform with representatives of the missionary societies, and
ten thousand Chinese crowded about to hear Mr. Alexander's address.

The most disappointing region in the matter of the opium prohibition is
the upper Yangtse Valley. In the lower valley, from Nanking down to
Soochow and Shanghai (native city), the enforcement ranges from partial to
complete. But in the upper valley, from Nanking to Hankow and above, I
could not find the slightest evidence of enforcement. At the river ports
the dens were running openly, many of them with doors opening directly off
the street and with smokers visible on the couches within. The viceroy of
the upper Yangtse provinces, Chang-chi-tung, "the Great Viceroy," has been
recognized for a generation as one of China's most advanced thinkers and
reformers. His book, "China's Only Hope," has been translated into many
languages, and is recognized as the most eloquent analysis of China's
problems ever made by Chinese or Manchu. In it he is flatly on record
against opium. Indeed, when governor of Shansi, twenty odd years ago, this
same official sent out his soldiers to beat down the poppy crop. Yet it
was in this viceroyalty alone, among all the larger subdivisions of China,
that there was no evidence whatever last year of an intention to enforce
the anti-opium edicts. The only explanation of this state of things seems
to be that Chang-chi-tung is now a very old man, and that to a great
extent he has lost his vigour and his grip on his work. Whatever the
reason, this fact has been used with telling effect in pro-opium arguments
in the British Parliament as an illustration of China's "insincerity."

The situation seems to sum up about as follows: The prohibition of opium
was immediately effective over about one-quarter of China, and partially
effective over about two-thirds. This, it has seemed to me, considering
the difficulty and immensity of the problem, is an extraordinary record.
Every opium den actually closed in China represents a victory. Whether the
dens will stay closed, after the first frenzy of reform has passed, or
whether the prohibition movement will gain in strength and effectiveness,
time alone will tell. But there is an ancient popular saying in China to
this effect, "Do not fear to go slowly; fear to stop."

We have seen, then, that while the Chinese are fighting the opium evil
earnestly, and in part effectively, they are still some little way short
of conquering it. Also, we must not forget, that all reforms are strongest
in their beginnings. The Chinese, no less than the rest of us, will take
up a moral issue in a burst of enthusiasm. But human beings cannot
continue indefinitely in a bursting condition. Reaction must always follow
extraordinary exertion, and it is then that the habits of life regain
their ascendency. Remarkable as this reform battle has been in its
results, it certainly cannot show a complete, or even a half-complete,
victory over the brown drug. And meantime the government of British India
is pouring four-fifths of its immense opium production into China by way
of Hongkong and the treaty ports. It should be added, further, that while
the various self-governing ports, excepting Shanghai, have very recently
been forced, one by one, to cover up at least the appearance of evil, the
crown colony of Hongkong, which is under the direct rule of Great Britain,
is still clinging doggedly to its opium revenues. The whole miserable
business was summed up thus in a recent speech in the House of Commons:
"The mischief is in China; the money is in India."

What is Great Britain doing to help China? His Majesty's government has
indulged in a resolution now and then, has expressed diplomatic "sympathy"
with its yellow victims, and has even "urged" India in the matter, but is
it really doing anything to help?

There are reasons why the world has a right to ask this question.

If China is to grow weaker, she must ultimately submit to conquest by
foreign powers. There are nine or ten of these powers which have some sort
of a footing in China. No one of them trusts any one of the others,
therefore each must be prepared to fight in defense of its own interests.
It is not safe to tempt great commercial nations with a prize so rich as
China; they might yield. Once this conquest, this "partition," sets in,
there can result nothing but chaos and world-wide trouble.

The trend of events is to-day in the direction of this world-wide trouble.
The only apparent way to head it off is to begin strengthening China to a
point where she can defend herself against conquest. The first step in
this strengthening process is the putting down of opium--there is no
other first step. Before you can put down opium, you have got to stop
opium production in India. And therefore the Anglo-Indian opium business
is not England's business, but the world's business. The world is to-day
paying the cost of this highly expensive luxury along with China. Every
sallow morphine victim on the streets of San Francisco, Chicago, and New
York is helping to pay for this government traffic in vice.

But is Great Britain planning to help China?

The government of the British empire is at present in the hands of the
Liberal party, which has within it a strong reform element. From the Tory
party nothing could be expected; it has always worshipped the Things that
Are, and it has always defended the opium traffic. If either party is to
work this change, it must be that one which now holds the reins of power.
And yet, after generations of fighting against the government opium
industry on the part of all the reform organizations in England, after
Parliament has twice been driven to vote a resolution condemning the
traffic, after generations of statesmen, from Palmerston through Gladstone
to John Morley, have held out assurances of a change, after the Chinese
government, tired of waiting on England, has begun the struggle, this is
the final concession on England's part:

The British government has agreed to decrease the exportation of Indian
opium about eight per cent. per year during a trial period of three years,
in order to see whether the cultivation of the poppy and the number of
opium-smokers is lessened. Should such be the case, exportation to China
will be further decreased gradually.

The reader will observe here some very pretty diplomatic juggling. There
is here none of the spirit which animated the United States last year in
proposing voluntarily to give up a considerable part of its indemnity
money. The British government is yielding to a tremendous popular clamour
at home; but nothing more. Could a government offer less by way of
carrying out the conviction of a national parliament to the effect that
"the methods by which our Indian opium revenues are derived are morally
indefensible"? The English people are urging their government, the Chinese
are diplomatically putting on pressure, the United States is organizing an
international opium commission on the ground that the nations which
consume Indian and Chinese opium have, willy-nilly, a finger in the pie.
And by way of response to this pressure the British government agrees to
lessen very slightly its export for a few years, or until the pressure is
removed and the trade can slip back to normal!

There are not even assurances that the agreement will be carried out.
While this very agitation has been going on, since these chapters began to
appear in _Success Magazine_, the annual export of Bengal opium has
increased (1906-1908) from 96,688 chests to 101,588 chests. And it is well
to remember that after Mr. Gladstone, as prime minister, had given
assurances of a "great reduction" in the traffic, the officials of India
admitted that they had not heard of any such reduction.

A few months ago, the Government issued a "White Paper" containing the
correspondence with China on the opium question, so that there is no
dependence on hearsay in this arraignment of the British attitude. Let us
glance at an excerpt or two from these official British letters. This, for
example:

"The Chinese proposal, on the other hand, which involves extinction of the
import in nine years, would commit India irrevocably, and in advance of
experience, to the complete suppression of an important trade, and goes
beyond the underlying condition of the scheme, that restriction of import
from abroad, and reduction of production in China, shall be brought _pari
passu_ into play."

Not content with this rather sordid expression, His Majesty's Government
goes on to point out that, under existing treaties, China cannot refuse to
admit Indian opium; that China cannot even increase the import duty on
Indian opium without the permission of Great Britain; that before Great
Britain will consider the question of permanently reducing her production
China must prove that the number of her smokers has diminished; that the
opium traffic is to be continued at least for another ten years; and then
indulges in this superb deliverance:

The proposed limitation of the export to 60,000 chests from 1908 is
thought to be a very substantial reduction on this figure, and the view of
the Government of India is that such a standard ought to satisfy the
Chinese Government for the present.

Even by their own estimate, after taking out the proposed total decrease
of 15,300 chests in the Chinese trade, the Indian Government will, during
the next three years, unload more than 170,000 chests of opium on a race
which it has brought to degradation, which is to-day struggling to
overcome demoralization, and which is appealing to England and to the
whole civilized world for aid in the unequal contest.

We must try to be fair to the gentlemen-officials who see the situation
only in this curious half-light. "It is a practical question," they say.
"The law of trade is the balance-sheet. It is not our fault as individuals
that opium, the commodity, was launched out into the channels of trade;
but since it is now in those channels, the law of trade must rule, the
balance-sheet must balance. Opium means $20,000,000 a year to the Indian
Government--we cannot give it up."

The real question would seem to be whether they can afford to continue
receiving this revenue. Opium does not appear to be a very valuable
commodity in India itself. Just as in China, it degrades the people. The
profits in production, for everybody but the government, are so small that
the strong hand of the law has often, nowadays, to be exerted in order to
keep the _ryots_ (farmers) at the task of raising the poppy. There are
many thoughtful observers of conditions in India who believe it would be
highly "practical" to devote the rich soil of the Ganges Valley to crops
which have a sound economic value to the world.

But more than this, the opium programme saps India as it saps China. The
position of the Englishman in India to-day is by no means so secure that
he can afford to indulge in bad government. The spirit of democracy and
socialism has already spread through Europe and has entered Asia. In
Japan, trade-unions are striking for higher wages. In China and India, are
already heard the mutterings of revolution. The British government may yet
have to settle up, in India as well as in China, for its opium policy. And
when the day for settling up comes, it may perhaps be found that a higher
balance-sheet than that which rules the government opium industry may
force Great Britain to pay--and pay dear.

Yes, the world has some right to make demands of England in this matter.
China can make no real progress in its struggle until the Indian
production and exportation are flatly abolished.

The situation has distinctly not grown better since the magazine
publication of the first of these chapters, a year ago. If the reader
would like to have an idea of where Great Britain stands to-day on the
opium business, he can do no better than to read the following excerpts
from a speech made last spring by the Hon. Theodore C. Taylor, M. P., on
his return from a journey round the world, undertaken for the purpose of
personally investigating the opium problem.

First, this:

"We shall not begin to have the slightest right to ask that China should
give proof of her genuineness about reform until we show more proof of our
own genuineness about reform, and until we suppress the opium traffic
where we can. China has taken this difficult reform in hand. She has done
much, but not everything. In Shanghai, Hongkong, and the Straits, we have
done nothing at all. I want to say this morning, as pricking the bubble of
our own Pharisaism, that from the point of view of reform, the blackest
opium spots in China are the spots under British rule."

And then, in conclusion, this:

"I am convinced, and deeply convinced, as every observant and thoughtful
man is that knows anything of China, that China is a great coming power. I
was talking to a fellow member of the House of Commons who lately went to
China, and went into barracks and camps with the Chinese, and who made it
his business to study Chinese military affairs, which generally excite so
much laughter outside China. He spent a good deal of time with the Chinese
soldier. He said to me, as many other people have said to me, 'The
Chinaman is splendid raw material as a soldier, and, if his officers would
properly lead the Chinaman, he would follow and make the finest soldier in
the world, bar none.' It will take China a long, long time to organize
herself; it will take her a long time to organize her army and navy; it
will take a long time to get rid of the system of bribery in China, which
is one of the hindrances to putting down the opium traffic; but, depend
upon it, the time is coming, not perhaps very soon, but by and by--and
nations have long memories--when those who are alive to see the
development of China will be very glad that, when China was weak and we
were strong, we, of our own motion, without being made to, helped China to
get away from this terrible curse."



Appendix--A Letter from the Field

THE OPIUM CLIMAX IN SHANGHAI


_Editor "Success Magazine":_

It is fitting that in the columns of _Success_, a magazine which has so
recently investigated and so thoroughly and ably reported upon the opium
curse in China, there should appear the account of a unique ceremony held
in the International Settlement of Shanghai, illustrating in a striking
manner the general feeling of the Chinese towards the anti-opium movement
and setting an example that will make its influence felt in the most
remote provinces of the empire. In response to liberal advertising there
assembled in the spacious grounds of Chang Su Ho's Gardens, on the
afternoon of Sunday, May 3, 1908, some two or three thousand of Shanghai's
leading Chinese business men, together with a goodly sprinkling of
Europeans and Americans, to witness the destruction of the opium-pipes,
lamps, etc., taken from the Nan Sun Zin Opium Palace. In America, such a
scene as this would have appeared little less than a farce, but here the
obvious earnestness of the Chinese, the great value of the property to be
destroyed and the deep meaning of this sacrifice, should have been
sufficient to put the blush of shame upon the cheeks of the Shanghai
voters and councilmen, who, representing the most enlightened nations of
the earth, have compromised with the opium evil and permitted
three-fourths of this nefarious business to linger in the "Model
Settlement" when it has been so summarily dealt with by the native
authorities throughout the land.

Within a roped-in, circular enclosure, marked by two large, yellow
Dragon-Flags, were stacked the furnishings of the Opium Palace, consisting
of opium boxes, pipes, lamps, tables, trays, etc., and as the spectators
arrived the work of destruction was going rapidly on. Two native
blacksmiths were busily engaged in splitting on an anvil the metal
fittings from the pipes, and a brawny coolie, armed with a sledgehammer,
was driving flat the artistic opium lamps as they were taken from the
tables and placed on the ground before him. Meanwhile the pipes, mellowed
and blackened by long use and many of them showing rare workmanship, were
dipped into a large tin of kerosine and stacked in two piles on stone
bases, to form the funeral pyre, while the center of each stack was filled
in with kindling from the opium trays, similarly soaked with oil. On one
of the tables within the enclosure were two small trays, each containing a
complete smoking outfit and a written sheet of paper announcing that these
were the offerings of Mr. Lien Yue Ming, manager of the East Asiatic
Dispensary, and Miss Kua Kuei Yen, a singing girl, respectively. Both
these quondam smokers sent in their apparatus to be burned, with a pledge
that henceforth they would abstain from the use of the drug.

During the preparations for the burning, Mr. Sun Ching Foong, a prominent
business man, delivered a powerful exhortation on the opium evil to the
enthusiastic multitude and introduced the leading speaker of the
afternoon, Mr. Wong Ching Foo, representing the Committee of the
Commercial Bazaar. Mr. Wong spoke in the Mandarin language and stated that
all of China was looking to Shanghai for a lead in the matter of
suppressing opium and that it was with great pleasure the committee had
noticed the earnest desire of the foreign Municipal Council (and he was
_not_ intending to be _sarcastic_!) to assist the Chinese in their
endeavour to do away entirely with this traffic. It was a very commendable
effort, and he was sure the foreigners there would agree that no effort on
their part could be too strong to do away with this curse, which was not
only undermining the best intellects of China, but by the example of
parents was affecting seriously the rising generation. To-day a gentleman,
who had been a smoker for twenty-nine years and had realized the great
harm it had done him, was present, and had brought with him his opium
utensils to be destroyed with those from the opium saloons of French-town.
The Nan Sun Zin Opium Palace, from which the pipes and other opium
utensils had been brought for destruction, was the largest in Shanghai
and, he had heard, the largest in China, patronized by the most notable
people. The example of Shanghai was felt in Nanking, Peking, and all over
China, for the young men who visited here took with them the report of the
pleasures they saw practiced in this settlement and thus gave the natives
different ideas. These young men often came here to see the wonderful
work accomplished by foreigners, and it was not right that they should
take this curse back with them. It had been originally intended to burn
also the chairs and tables from the palace, but as this would make too
large and dangerous a fire it had been decided to sell these and use the
proceeds for the furtherance of the anti-opium movement.

Among the pipes were some for which $500 had been offered, but the
Committee of the Commercial Bazaar had purchased the whole outfit to
destroy, and they hoped to be able to buy up a good many more of the
palaces and thus utterly destroy all traces of the opium-smoking practice.
Mr. Wong remarked that China had recently been under a cloud and in
Shanghai there had been protracted rains, but to-day it was fine and it
was evident that heaven was looking down upon them and blessing their
efforts. With heaven's blessing they would be able to overcome the curse
and be even quicker than the Municipal Council in completely wiping out
this abominable custom.

As the speeches were concluded, the Chinese Volunteer Band struck up a
lively air and amid the deafening din of crackers and bombs a torch was
applied to the oil-soaked stacks of pipes which at once burned up
fiercely. Extra oil was thrown upon the flames and the glass lamp-covers,
bowls, etc., were heaped upon the flames, thus completing a ceremony full
of earnestness and meaning.

It has come as a matter of great surprise to many sceptical foreigners
that the Chinese should be making such strenuous efforts to do away with
the opium-smoking curse. Not a few have thrown cold water upon the
scheme, sneered at the Chinese in this endeavour, and doubted both their
desire and ability to suppress the sale of opium. The Commercial Bazaar
Committee, consisting of well-known Chinese business men, is not only
seconding the Municipal Council in its gradual withdrawal of licenses in
the foreign settlements but has also accomplished the closing of many
opium dens through its own efforts by bringing pressure to bear upon the
owners of the dens. Already, many private individuals have given up their
beloved pipes and some dens have voluntarily closed. It has also been
agreed by the Chinese concerned that all of the shops run by women are to
cease the sale of opium. This activity on the part of the Chinese
themselves is a striking rebuke to those who cast suspicion upon the
honesty of purpose of both the Chinese government and people, refusing to
immediately abolish the opium licenses in the foreign settlements of
Shanghai, despite the appeals from the American, British, and Japanese
governments, the petitions of the leading Chinese of the place and the
general popularity of the anti-opium movement. Yielding to great pressure
from all sides, the Shanghai Municipal Council _did_ consent to introduce
a resolution upon this question before the Ratepayers Meeting to be held
March 20th, but the concession made was small indeed compared with what
was generally desired or what might be anticipated from the leading lights
of "civilized and highly moral" nations. The resolution was as follows:--

"_Resolution VI._ That the number of licensed opium houses be reduced by
one-quarter from July 1, 1908, or from such other early date and in such
manner as may appear advisable to the Council for 1908-1909."

While there was in this a definite reduction of one-fourth of the
opium-joints in the settlement, there was nothing definite as to any
future policy, though the implication was that the houses would be all
closed within a period of two years. In his speech introducing this
resolution before the ratepayers, the British chairman of the council
said, among other things, "I feel sure that every one of us has the
greatest sympathy with the Chinese nation in its effort to dissipate the
opium habit, but we are not unfamiliar with Chinese official procedure,
and how far short actual administrative results fall when compared with
the official pronouncements that precede them. It is impossible not to be
sceptical as to the intentions of the Chinese government with regard to
this matter, although on this occasion we quite recognize that many
officials are sincere in their desire to eradicate the opium evil, and I
am sure there is every intention on the part of this community to assist
them. Yet we know of no programme that they have drawn up to make this
great reform possible, if indeed they have a programme.... The absence of
these, so to speak, first business essentials, on the part of the Chinese
government, was among the reasons which led us to the view that the
settlement was called upon to do little more than continue its work of
supervision over opium licenses, and wait for the cessation of supplies of
the drug to render that supervision unnecessary.... The advice we have
received from the British Government is, in brief, that we should do more
than keep pace with the native authorities, we should be in advance of
them and where possible encourage them to follow us."

In the following quotations from a letter written by Dr. DuBose, of
Soochow, President of the Anti-Opium League, to the municipal council, the
attitude of the reformers is clearly shown.

"The prohibition of opium-smoking is the greatest reformation the world
has ever seen, and its benefits are already patent. Let the ratepayers
effectually second the efforts being made by the Chinese government to
abolish the use of opium throughout the empire.

"It has proved a peaceful reformation. In the cities and towns about
one-half million dens, at the expiration of six months, were closed
promptly without resistance or complaint. The government will grant all
the necessary privileges of inspection to the municipal police in the
prevention of illicit smoking.

"The consumption of opium in the cities has fallen off thirty per cent.;
in the towns fifty per cent.; while in the rural districts in the eastern
and middle provinces it is reduced to a minimum. It is well for Shanghai
to be allied with Soochow, Hangchow, and Nanking, and not to permit itself
to be a refuge for bad men.

"The Chinese merchants in the International Settlement have sent in
earnest appeals to the Council on this question. As friends of China,
might not the ratepayers give their appeals a courteous consideration?

"The question of opium at the Annual Meeting commands world-wide attention
and Saturday's papers throughout Christendom will bear record of and
comment upon the action.

"To close the dens is right. Shanghai cannot afford to be the black spot
on Kiangsu's map. _Opium delendum est._

  "In behalf of the Anti-Opium League,
      "HAMPDEN C. DUBOSE, _President_."

The appeals from Great Britain, America, China, and Japan, like the
petitions of merchants, missionaries, and officials, were without effect.
The "vested interests" carried the day, and a resolution, ordering the
closing of the dens on or before the end of December, 1909, was lost by a
vote of 128 to 189, the council, as usual, influencing and controlling the
votes and carrying the original motion--the only concession it would grant
to this gigantic movement.

Another surprise came to the cynical foreigner, when, on April 18th, the
whole of the opium licensees participated in a public drawing in the town
hall, to decide by lottery which establishments should be shut down on the
1st of July, numbering one-fourth of the total number, this method being
adopted by the council to avoid any suspicion of partiality in the
selection. The keepers of the dens cheerfully acquiesced in the proposal,
the sporting chance no doubt appealing to the gambling spirit for which
they are noted, and in the town hall this remarkable drawing was held
without any sign of disfavour or rowdyism. The keepers of the Shanghai
opium shops are no doubt thoroughly convinced that the feeling of the
native community is entirely against the retention of these places and
are ready to bow to the inevitable. None of the trouble or rioting feared
by the Council, materialized, and it is certain that the entire list of
licenses might have been immediately revoked without disturbance of any
kind--and without protest. Three hundred and fifty-nine licenses thus
cease with the end of June, and it is doubtful, with the present spirit
manifest in the Chinese, that such another drawing will be necessary at
all. The funeral pyre of opium-pipes, we trust, marks the end, or the
immediate beginning of the end, of Shanghai's reproach, and it is
distinctly to the credit of the 500,000 Chinese living within the
jurisdiction of this foreign community, that they themselves are taking
the lead in wiping out this stain on the "Model Settlement"--doing what
the foreigner _dared not_ and the "vested interest" _would not_ do.

CHARLES F. GAMMON.



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Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "sod" corrected to "pod" (page 26)
  "suport" corrected to "support" (advertisements)

Other than the corrections listed above, inconsistencies in spelling and
hyphenation have been retained from the original.





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