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Title: The Chinese Opium-Smoker
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  _Reproduced from the Chinese._]



  Showing the Ruin
  which our Opium Trade with China is
  bringing upon that Country.













  No. 1.

  The incipient opium-smoker is reclining (as is usual) on a couch in
  his mansion, while his companion is indulging in tobacco through the
  water-pipe common in China.


  No. 2.

  The opium-smoker, still portly and well-dressed, is entreated by
  his poor wife on bended knees to desist from the disastrous habit.
  His child is running off with the dreaded pipe; while the aged
  grandmother is seen coming, leaning on her staff, to add her tears
  and entreaties--now for the first time proved to be powerless. The
  hold of the pipe is already established; interest, duty, affection,
  reputation--all prove too feeble to arrest the downward career of the
  smoker. Sad indeed is the prospect; the husband is already doomed to
  poverty, shame, and an early grave; his wife to ruin, his child to
  beggary. His mother will die of a broken heart.


  No. 3.

  Representing the progress in dissipation of the once sober gentleman,
  who has now, alas! become the victim of this vice. To him day has
  now become night, and night day. He can no longer sleep at night;
  and to banish the tedium of its long quiet hours, and to drown
  thought of the sure ruin awaiting him, becomes an absolute necessity.
  Regardless, therefore, alike of entreaty and censure, he now openly
  introduces into his house singing men and women, and gives himself up
  to their society. His books, formerly the companions of his choice,
  now lie unheeded on his table, and will not long retain even their
  place there. As for his poor family, powerless to prevent, or even
  retard, the downward progress of events, they can only consult their
  own safety by keeping altogether out of sight.


  No. 4.

  All trace of literary occupation is now gone: the opium scales have
  taken the place of the classics. In the foreground a servant is
  preparing extract of opium, for crude opium is never smoked. Before
  the portable stove stands a small bucket of water, and a little
  charcoal lies on the ground beside it. The opium is boiled in water,
  and filtered; and the dregs are again boiled, till all the soluble
  matter is extracted. The watery solutions are then boiled down to the
  consistency of treacle, when it is ready for use.

  At the table, by her husband, the wife of the smoker sits with
  pencil in hand, and with a long strip of paper before her. Now she
  needs to augment the family income. Happy is the wife who in these
  circumstances is able to execute Indian-ink drawings, or to write out
  ornamental quotations from the classics.


  No. 5.

  Creditors will no longer forbear. Either the habit must at once and
  for ever be given up, or all hope of retaining possession of the
  ancestral property must be lost. The very graves of the ancestors
  join, as it were, in the last appeal of the weeping wife and mother,
  and of the weeping child, whose hopes of education, of literary
  advancement, and thus of promotion to office, are destroyed by the
  baneful narcotic.

  The aged mother, now needing the support of a staff, is bringing hot
  tea for her son. Will he bring down _her_ grey hairs with sorrow to
  the grave? Will he see her turned out, a homeless wanderer, out of
  the mansion in which she nursed and tended him when a helpless babe
  upon her lap?


  No. 6.

  It is easy to imagine the feelings of the unfortunate wife, who,
  seeing the misery and wretchedness wrought in her once comfortable
  home, determines to destroy the whole of the smoking apparatus. The
  tray and lamp are dashed upon the floor, a few more moments will see
  the destruction of the pipe itself; but the noise has reached the
  ears of her lord, who rushes in, and, forgetful of all the teachings
  of his great master, Confucius, proceeds to belabour her with the
  bamboo stick he has seized for the purpose, in spite of the cries of
  their unfortunate child. The entrance of an old and faithful retainer
  alone prevents him from inflicting serious injury.


  No. 7.

  Still lower sinks the opium victim in his miserable career. The
  comfort and shelter of his paternal home are now things of the past.
  A roof which, from the absence of tiles, can hardly be said to cover,
  with at one side some bamboo matting to screen from the blast, and a
  mat, arranged to form a shelter, covering the place where meals, when
  forthcoming, may be cooked, is all that now remains to him of home.
  Surely he will see his folly, and give up the practice which has
  wrought him such ruin? _He cannot._ The appetite is perpetuated and
  intensified by that upon which it feeds. Without medical aid it would
  now probably be impossible to give up the habit, and indulgence in it
  has taken away all desire for assistance.


  No. 8.

  Not much better than the shed in which he lives by day, is the
  shelter in which he now spends the night. Somewhat screened by the
  garden fence, his bed, supported at one end on a pile of bricks,
  at the other on his only remaining stool, is still covered by his
  curtains, and his opium lamp is sufficiently sheltered to keep
  alight. Most of his clothes have gone to the pawnshop; ere long his
  curtains will follow them. His wife and child, the picture of misery,
  can only look with hopeless sorrow on the living and half-naked
  skeleton of the once portly and well-dressed gentleman. Wealth and
  property have gone, clothes and respectability have gone, home and
  health have gone, and what remains? Ah, what indeed! There is a
  ruined soul in that poor, heartless, wrecked body, almost beyond the
  possibility of salvation.


  No. 9.

  The victim of opium is now a homeless beggar, squatting in some
  out-of-the-way corner, and dependent upon charity for a morsel of
  bread. His unshaven head well agrees with the general squalor of
  his appearance, and the ground is now his only bed and table. His
  sole remaining possessions are his opium-pipe and a few earthenware
  cooking utensils. Some compassionate person, perhaps a former
  farm-servant, is bringing him a small flattened loaf.


  No. 10.

  Crime too often follows the destitution caused by opium-smoking;
  for _at all costs_ opium _must_ be had. Thefts, robberies, or even
  murders may result. The wretched culprit may have to flee from
  justice, or to make his escape from a neighbourhood which will no
  longer tolerate him. The very dogs pursue him. Probably the bucket
  in which the wanderer carries his pipe, and the labourer’s hat slung
  behind him, are both stolen. Some cave among the hills may shelter
  him, or the rocks may shield him from the cutting wind.


  No. 11.

  The downward course of the opium-smoker is now very rapid. Exposure
  to the weather and want of food accelerate the injurious effects
  of the opium. No one would think of giving a night’s shelter to a
  man whose imperious craving for opium would compel him to rob his
  benefactor before morning. Endeavouring to warm himself in the
  sunshine, with unshaven head and haggard countenance, the sower
  coming with his seed-basket finds him in a sheltered corner of the


  No. 12.

  Winter draws on apace. The fields supply nothing that the wretched
  opium-smoker can eat. All he can beg is insufficient to purchase
  that opium without which he could not exist for a single day; he has
  therefore exchanged his only shirt for a little opium, to quiet for
  a time what an opium-smoker well called “the torments of the hell
  within.” All power of enjoyment has long since passed away: now there
  is nothing before him but suffering--suffering beyond the grave!
  With trembling steps and a shivering frame he seeks the shelter of a
  cave among the rocks, in which he will lie down and _die_. Nor is he
  alone in his misery; thousands of similar victims are living, dying,
  dead--they are to be found everywhere.




On this point the evidence of Mr. (now Sir Thomas) Wade, K.C.B., Her
Majesty’s minister at the Court of Peking, given in Government Blue
Book, No. 5 (1871), p. 432, is so decisive, that it precludes the
necessity of further testimony. He says:--

“It is to me vain to think otherwise of the use of the drug in China,
than as of a habit many times more pernicious, nationally speaking,
than the gin and whisky drinking which we deplore at home. It takes
possession more insidiously, and keeps its hold to the full as
tenaciously. I know no case of radical cure. It has insured in every
case within my knowledge the steady descent, moral and physical, of the
smoker, and it is so far a greater mischief than drink, that it does
not, by external evidence of its effect, expose its victim to the loss
of repute which is the penalty of habitual drunkenness.”



In the absence of an official census, we can only select the most
reliable evidence to be had on the subject.

J. Dudgeon, Esq., M.D., C.M., of the Peking Mission Hospital, estimates
that of the male population in China generally, probably 30 to 40 per
cent. smoke opium; of the general city population, 40 to 60 per cent.

The former of these statements is perhaps rather excessive, seeing
that the same authority gives the number of agriculturists and field
labourers as averaging only 4 to 6 per cent.

Of the city population we have from various quarters more minute
estimates to guide us.

Taking three important cities from various parts of the country, we
find that the number of opium-smokers does in each case exceed the
estimate given by Dr. Dudgeon.

  I.--Suchow, the capital of the province of Kiang Su. The Rev. C. H.
  Du Bose, a resident missionary, writes:--“As a minimum estimate,
  seven-tenths of the adult males smoke opium. To this fact all of the
  natives you ask will attest.”

  2.--Ningpo, a city of 400,000 inhabitants in the province of Chekiang.

  “It contains 2,700 opium-shops, or a shop for every 148 inhabitants,
  or every thirty men.”
                     (_v. Mander’s “Our Opium Trade with China,” p. 8._)

  3.--Tai Yuen, the capital of the province of Shansi. A resident
  missionary writes:--

  “It is estimated that six or seven out of every ten men you meet are
  addicted to the habit of opium-smoking, and a larger proportion of
  women than I have seen in any other city. There are about 400 retail
  opium-shops, and seventy or eighty wholesale dealers.”

It is probable that these cities exceed the average number of
opium-smokers throughout the city population in China; indeed, had not
the number been extraordinary, the estimate would probably not have
been made, but if the number be reduced by one-half, we have still 30
per cent. of the city population throughout China--in other words, some
tens of millions--who are the slaves of the opium-pipe.



Summary of facts bearing upon the relation of Great Britain to the
Chinese opium-trade:--

  1.--When China, as a nation, knew nothing of the vice of
  opium-smoking, British merchants introduced the drug, enriching the
  treasury of the East India Company to the demoralisation of the
  Chinese nation.

  2.--When the Chinese Government vigorously remonstrated and
  strenuously opposed, England carried the legalisation of the trade at
  the point of the sword.

  3.--When the Chinese, discomfited in the field, appealed to the
  generosity and humanity of the British Government for the suppression
  of the trade, the British Government continued and upheld the policy
  they had inaugurated by force of arms.

  4.--When the subject is brought before the Houses of Parliament,
  the trade is acknowledged to be unjustifiable, yet, because of
  the revenue it brings to the Indian empire, and the difficulties
  surrounding Indian finance, it is upheld by the Government and
  supported by the Opposition.


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