§ Lord Ashley
*said, that he had three petitions to present on the subject of the opium trade with China. The first was from the committee of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, praying that the House would adopt effectual measures for the abolition of the opium trade between the British possessions in India and China. The two other petitions were of a similar nature, and were from the committee of the Baptist Missionary Society, and the directors of the London Missionary Society. The petitions having been laid on the Table, Lord Ashley spoke as follows: Sir, the House will, perhaps, accept as an apology from me for venturing to obtrude on them the consideration of this subject, that, although I have long felt and deplored the iniquities of the system which 1 shall now endeavour to exhibit, I should not have presumed to introduce it to their notice, had I not been pressed in such a manner as to make me prefer the charge of arrogance to that of indifference. I have no ends or purposes to serve; I have no connection, political or commercial, with the matter before us; nor are my constituents concerned in the cause beyond the interest they all must entertain* From a corrected report.363 as common subjects of this great empire. But what is the position in which we now find ourselves? We are arrived at the conclusion of a sad war, of the origin of which I shall now say nothing; we are arrived at the conclusion of this war, and are most desirous of commencing the relations of peace, and of entering on an honourable and lucrative commerce. It is necessary to do all that lies in our power to avoid a recurrence of hostilities; and yet this is our condition: the causes of the war are not removed, on the contrary they are more ripe than ever; every exasperating motive is at work; audacity on the one side, and resistance on the other seem mightily increased; what has occurred once, may occur again; and will occur again, unless we hasten, while there is yet time, to be not only prudent, but generous and just. Sir, this cause is too important for mere rhetorical declamation, and too strong for argument only; it consists of simple, hard, and indisputable facts; if these can be disproved, the whole case falls at once to the ground; if otherwise, there is no alternative but to affirm the resolution which I shall have the honour to propose. Now, Sir, I have but two grounds of apprehension: the one, that I may be accused of presumption in undertaking to handle so weighty a matter; the other, that I may appear as acting in a hostile feeling towards the Court of Directors of the East India Company. Of such a feeling, I can truly say, that I am utterly unconscious: I entertain the strongest esteem privately for the character of several of that body, and publicly for many parts of their administration; I am convinced that they have conferred very great benefits on the empire they are appointed to govern; and, if there be any guilt in the system which I shall develope, the guilt is not theirs, at least theirs exclusively: it is shared by the Legislature and the whole nation; it is shared by the Members of this House, which, in the year 1832, sanctioned by a law, the revenue derived from the opium trade, commending the production of the drug, and actually approving its destination. Now, Sir, I will first assert, and then I will endeavour to prove that, so long as this traffic shall continue on its present footing, all our interests, commercial and political, must be left in perpetual hazard of interruption; and that there can, under such a state of things, be no well-grounded hope of 364 pacific and honourable relations with the celestial empire. Now what has occurred once, in all probability may occur again. Everything that has been said by experienced and observant men previously to the late war will hold equally good at the present moment. All the warnings which were given before the war took place, are warnings at the present time; and every syllable which I can quote of that testimony, is as valuable as though it were delivered at this very hour. I will now proceed to refer to the language of those practical men who pointed out in earlier days the fearful consequences of our nefarious practice; and which no one can gainsay as applied to our actual position. The first authority I shall refer to is a gentleman well known to many in this House, who had long experience with the subject, having resided for seventeen years at Canton, in the service of the East India Company. I mean Mr. Majoribanks, who said, in 1830,—One of the greatest changes that has taken place, and which, in my own opinion, will, sooner or later, affect the security of our trade, is the enormous extent of the smuggling trade now carried on in China; I do not imagine they possess the means of putting it down, at least by any marine force which they have.Again, Captain Alsager, who had made nine voyages in the company's service to China, said an increase in the smuggling trade—Would lead to riot and disturbance, which would put a stop to the trade altogether.This was equally seen by intelligent foreigners residing on the spot. In confirmation of this I will refer to a work by an American gentleman of the name of King, who had long been a merchant residing at Canton. The work is entitled the "Opium Crisis," a letter addressed to the chief superintendent of the British trade with China, and written in 1839. He says,—I have been present at several of the collisions, which have taken place in our day, between the residents and Chinese; and have remarked, that the sympathies of this people have always been ranged on the side of their rulers, and against the foreigners. I have heard of late some outbursts of the native sense of injustice, at the impunity of the foreigner, under regulations which punish the Chinese opium-dealer with cruel severity. I was an eye-witness of the riot of December 12th, when the populace turned upon us, at an idle 365 blow and but for the interposition of the city-guard, would have forced and rifled the factories. The allusion of the commissioner to 'popular indignation,' is to me full of meaning; yet I am concerned, not so much because he made it, as because I see the introduction of opium has lost us the affections of the good, has made us panders to the appetites of the bad; and we nay well fear lest we one day safer by the outbreaking of passions, to whose excitement we ourselves have ministered.Now let the House compare this with the accounts from Canton lately received. He goes on to say, and this is a most lamentable fact,—For nearly forty years, the British merchants, led on by the East India Company, have been driving a trade, in violation of the highest laws and the best interests of the Chinese empire. This course has been pushed so far, as to derange its currency, to corrupt its officers, and ruin multitudes of its people. The traffic has become associated, in the polities of the country, with embarrassments and evil omens; in its penal code, with the axe and the dungeon; in the breasts of men in private life, with the wreck of property, virtue, honour, and happiness. All ranks, from the emperor on the throne, to the people of the humblest hamlets, have felt its sting. To the fact of its descent to the lowest classes of society, we are frequent witnesses; and the Court gazettes are evidence that it has marked out victims for disgrace and ruin even among the Imperial kindred.This statement is true, and it is five-fold stronger at the present time.—Now let me add the testimony of a gentleman formerly in the East India Company's service in China, and which I the rather quote because that Gentlemen's opinions are opposed to my own. This is from Mr. Hamilton Lindsay, who gave the following opinion on the subject, in a pamphlet which he wrote, entitled, "Is the war with China a just one? He says,As it is, nothing can be more injurious to the British character than the mode in which the opium-trade is at present conducted. It is now real smuggling, accompanied by all its worst features of violence, and must frequently be attended with bloodshed and sacrifice of life.But I now wish to draw the attention of the House to the language of a person long on the spot, to the warnings by official authority; there were few men more competent to give an opinion on the subject; his predictions have been perfectly verified, and be spoke of things so 366 completely similar to the present state, that no one can hesitate to acknowledge the resemblance. Captain Elliot, the Superintendent of the trade at Canton in 1837, wrote to Lord Palmerston, expressing himself strongly against the trans in opium. He said in the despatch, dated November, 1837,—The trade is proceeding tranquilly for the present; but the vast opium deliveries at Whampoa, under extremely hazardous circumstances, may certainly, at any moment, produce some grave dilemma.Again, in February, 1838, he said—In ray judgment, the interruption of the trade is less likely to ensue from the commands of the court, than from some grave disaster arising out of collision between the Government craft and our own armed boats on the river.And in April of the same year he observes that—The deliveries of opium have frequently been accompanied by conflict of fire-arms between those vessels and the Government preventive craft.In an official notification to her Majesty's subjects, dated December, 1838, Captain Elliot says, that—After the most deliberate reconsideration of this course of traffic (which he heartily hopes has ceased for ever), the chief superintendent will once more declare his own opinion, that in its general effects it was intensely mischievous to every branch of the trade; that it was rapidly staining the British character with deep disgrace; and, finally, that it exposed the vast public and private interests involved in the peaceful maintenance of our regular commercial intercourse with this empire, to imminent jeopardy.Sir, it is necessary that I should apologize to the House for referring to such an abundance of documents; I know the weariness that unavoidably accompanies such details; I have nevertheless thought it better to recite the facts and the statements of those who are practically acquainted with the subject, and who hare seen the operation of the system, than to indulge in mere appeals and general observations. In another letter to Lend Palmerston, dated January, 1839, Caption Elliot says,—It had been clear to me, my Lord, from the origin of this peculiar branch of the opium traffic, that it must grow to be more and more mischievous to every branch of the trade, and certainly to none more than to that of opium 367 itself. As the danger and the shame of its pursuit increased, it was obvious that it would fall by rapid degrees into the hands of more and more desperate men; that it would stain the foreign character with constantly aggravating disgrace, in the sight of the whole of the better portion of this people; and lastly, that it would connect itself more and more intimately with our lawful commercial intercourse, to the great peril of vast public and private interests. Till the other day, my Lord, 1 believe, there was no part of the world where the foreigner felt his life and property more secure than here in Canton; but the grave events of the 12th ultimo have left behind a different impression. And all these desperate hazards have been incurred, my Lord, for the scrambling and, comparatively considered, insignificant gains of a few reckless individuals, unquestionably founding their conduct upon the belief that they were exempt from the operation of all law, British or Chinese.Again he said—In the meantime, however, there has been no relaxation of the vigour of the Government, directed not only against the introduction of the opium, but in a far more remarkable manner against the consumers. A corresponding degree of desperate adventure upon the part of the smugglers is only a necessary consequence; and in this situation of things, serious accidents and sudden and indefinite interruptions to the regular trade, must always be probable events.After the lapse of some months, Captain Elliot again writing to Lord Palmerston, speaks of it as—A traffic, which by the present manner of its pursuit must every day become more dangerous to the peace of this ancient empire, and more discreditable to the character of the Christian nations under whose flags it is carried on.He adds—But, my Lord, the difficulties in China are not confined to this matter of opium. The true and far more important question to be solved is, whether there shall be honourable and extending trade with this empire: or whether the coasts shall be delivered over to a state of things which will pass rapidly from the worst character of forced trade to plain buccaneering.Attend to these words!—In the last despatch which I shall quote of that officer, dated November, 1839, it is impossible to speak in stronger language on the subject than he does. The letter is written on board the Volage, and he says:—If my private feelings were of the least consequence upon questions of a public of a public and 368 important nature, assuredly I might justly say, that no man entertains a deeper detestation of the disgrace and sin of this forced traffic on the coast of China than the humble individual who signs this despatch. I see little to choose between it and piracy; and in my place, as a public officer, I have steadily discountenanced it by all the lawful means in my power, and at the total sacrifice of my private comfort in the society in which I have lived for some years past.Now, I have no hesitation in saying, that the present state of things is' in a precise degree parallel, or something worse. In proof of this, I will refer to the address of the British and Indian merchants at Canton to Sir Henry Pottinger, dated December, 1842; and a portion of the reply of that excellent functionary. The merchants say in their address—That there is a spirit of hostility to the English very general among certain orders in Canton, and that the common people are guided and influenced by parties who have means and ability of giving effect to their operations in a more systematic manner than could be expected from an ordinary mob.What says Sir Henry Pottinger in his reply?So far as the mass of the population was concerned, they were, I have understood, as civil and as well-disposed as I have invariably found them in all parts of the empire which I have had occasion to visit since the peace was concluded. It thence follows, that the change which at that time came over the people, and which has gradually led to their present state of exasperation and excitement, must have been brought about by ourselves—that is, partly by mismanagement, and partly by ill-treatment; and I believe both these causes to have had a share in bringing matters to their present crisis.This officer speaks in strong terms, but they are evidently only such as he deemed necessary for the occasion; they manifest very clearly his own opinion of our national conduct. But hear the opinions of Mr. Ritchie, who is supposed to be the apologist of the East India Company, in his pamphlet entitled the Opium Trade."Such," (says he, meaning the opium trade), "was the proximate cause of the war declared in 1840; but such was not the end of the opium trade. The hostilities between the two nations had the effect, not of putting down the traffic, but merely of enhancing the value of the article. At length, after the destruction of many thousand lives, peace was concluded by Great Britain a few months ago. And what became of the opium trade, the cause of such dire ef- 369 fects? It was not even alluded to in the treaty!Now, therefore, I contend that the cause of the war remains in full activity, and is quite as dangerous as before hostilities. What, therefore, can you expect but a 'renewal of the outrages which recently led to such lamentable results? The opium trade was the original cause of all the mischief that has ensued, and under present circumstances there is every probability of a renewal of those collisions which issued in a war. Why, let the House contrast two statements given lately in evidence, the legitimate with the illegitimate trade; and this testimony alone will be better to prove my case than whole hours of argument. It appears from the evidence of Mr. Jardine, given before the committee of 1840, appointed to inquire into the trade with China, that while the legitimate trade with China was carried on in unarmed ships, it was necessary to arm those engaged in the opium traffic. He was asked,Had not the East India Company's ships always a considerable force in sailors and guns?' 'No, (was his reply), the East India Company's ships arrived generally in September, October, and November, and left again in January or February, and through the rest of the year we were without any force.' (He was afterwards asked), 'What force had the ships engaged in the opium trade? ''The Indiamen (he replied), were all there at the time, they had probably 150 or 160 men among them. I mean the opium ships.' 'And they had guns?'—'Yes.'Now, what necessity was there that ships engaged in the opium traffic should be armed with guns, while those engaged in the peaceful and legitimate traffic were wholly without them I cannot produce a stronger proof of the nature of this traffic than the fact, that ships which were engaged in the regular and legitimate trade went unarmed, while those engaged in the traffic in opium were provided with crews of from 150 to 160 men with arms and cannon, and all the munitions of war. I will now quote the opinion of a right hon. Gentleman, himself a Cabinet Minister at the time he used the language I am about to read. I quote this in no spirit of partizanship—far from it, but in confirmation of my own opinions. I refer to Sir John Hobhouse, President of the Board of Control, who in the course of his speech in the debate arising on the notion of ray right hon. Friend, the 370 Secretary of the Home Department, on the war with China, declared—It was the opium question which had given rise to many of the difficulties with which they had now to contend, and he agreed with the noble Lord (Lord Sandon), that it was to that question, that Government ought to direct their attention. And although he did not agree with the noble Lord, that they deserved any censure now for having neglected that question, still he admitted that it became any persons to whom the administration of the affairs of this great empire was entrusted, to turn their immediate and serious attention to it.And in the subsequent part of his speech Sir John Hobhouse said:—Far be it from him to wish to say anything less than was deserved of the unfortunate results of that traffic, or to palliate them. He could not but deprecate it as a vice, for a great vice it was.Let me add an extract from a letter from a merchant, dated Canton, Sept., 1841:—At Whampoa (the port of Canton), there are no less than seven opium vessels, selling openly, day and night. It will be disgraceful if the Home Government do not make some regulations for these vessels, though hard to say what they ought to do. The character and behaviour of some of the scoundrels who command them is hardly a grade better than than that of a pirate or slave captain. The provincial government of Canton is now perfectly helpless in regard to them.Again, Mr. Gutzlaff, a gentleman who was so intimately acquainted with the Chinese people, said:—If by a generous and noble resolve on the part of the growers, this evil could be counteracted, and the name of the pernicious drag erased from our price current, we should have done very much toward bringing our political relations with this country to an honourable conclusion.Now, Sir, such a state of things cannot but be highly injurious, not only to peace, but to anything like a steady and honourable intercourse with the empire of China. But this trade presents another aspect, and is productive of other evils, which have a more direct bearing on the interests and well-being of the people of this country; for I think, that I shall be able to show satisfactorily, that the opium trade has operated most injuriously on our trade in substituting that pernicious drug for the produce and manufactures of Great Britain. It was here that I thought I perceived a connecting link between the 371 question and myself;—having been so long engaged in an endeavour—an unwise one, perhaps, it may appear to many—to promote the welfare of the working-classes, conceived that I was labouring in my vocation when I made an attempt to extend our commerce, and open new markets for our manufactures. Now, Sir, in contemplating the past and the present state of our trade, we cannot but ask why no progress has been made in the commerce with China; or rather why at the present time, when compared with an anterior period, we have gone back in our importations into that country. Can it be said that our manufactures or other products are deteriorated in quality or have risen in price? Quite the reverse. Can it be said that the jealousy of the Chinese with respect to out manufactures has induced them to adopt a hostile tariff, so as to render the importation of British goods into their country almost impossible? No such thing. Can it be said that the Chinese are adverse to commercial intercourse with foreign nations? If that be said, let me quote the evidence of one whose testimony on such a point is entitled to the greatest credit. Lord Napier, in the year 1834, wrote:—The Chinese are most anxious to trade with us.And again,It is a perfect axiom, that the Chinese people are most anxious for our trade, from the great wall to the southern extremity of the empire.Sir George Robinson also states, in 1835;—The people are intensely desirous to engage in traffic.M. Gutzlaff affirms—English woollens are in great demand, yet we have still to look for that time when the spirit of British enterprise shall be roused, for in regard to China it is almost dormant.Lord Napier, indeed, said that it was true the—Tartar government were anti-commercial.It may be so;—but why is not commerce carried to the fullest extent of the privilege we have? Simply, as Captain Elliot stated, because the opium traffic is—Intensely mischievous to every brine of the trade.372 If this be not the cause, the reason must be sought for from some other source; but if the House will have patience to listen to me, I have no doubt of being able to establish the statement which I have just made. Now the exports of the East India Company to China, in woollens alone, for six years of monopoly, from 1803 to 1808 inclusive, amounted to 1,128,557l. yearly average, while the average number of pieces was 297,388. Now let the House compare this with the total exports, not of woollens alone, but of all exports of all kinds of British goods under free-trade, from 1834 to 1839 inclusive, (the six years between the opening of the trade and the interruption occasioned by the war), containing shipments on American account, which may be estimated from 200,000l. to 250,000l., and the yearly average will be found only 996,441l., the average number of pieces of woollen being 156,535, at the value of 458,688l. Now, the balance to make up this sum of 996,441l., is, cotton goods, 331,603l. cotton twist, 139,663l. sundries, 66,486l. Nor can it be said that we have made a progress in the China trade at all proportionate to the progress made in our trade with other oriental nations. During the same period the yearly average of shipments of cotton goods to the East India Company's territories, was 1,970,239l., and of cotton twist 594,026l. It will therefore be seen, that of cotton goods we exported nearly six times as much, and of cotton twist between four and five times, to supply a population of not one-half the amount of the population of the empire of China. Again, from the year 1838 to 1841 inclusive, the cotton manufactures exported by this country to all parts of the world, gave the yearly average of 17,051,960l., of which there went to China much less than the value of half a million. But to be able to form an accurate judgment of the export trade to China, it will be necessary to look to the general progress this country made during the same time. The exports of British and Irish products, from 1803 to 1808 inclusive, were of the yearly average of 22,556,885l. official value. The total declared value of shipments to various countries during the five years ending with 1841, inclusive, was 51,583,900l.; but if the official value were taken, it would more strongly demonstrate the progress of our 373 trade, for the yearly average would amount to not less than 82,000,000l. This being question of relative process, let the House compare the statement as to our trade with China in detail with the trade to, the rest of the world. If our trade with China be compared with that to Russia, it will be seen to be about one-half; with that to the British West Indies it is not one-third; to the Brazils it is little more than one-third; to Turkey, Morea, and Greek Islands, much below; to Cuba, and foreign West Indies, about on a par; to Germany, one-fifth; to Holland, one-third; and relatively to the whole of the world, it is not one-fiftieth. Nor can it be said that our trade with China is limited or crippled in consequence of the incapacity of that country to export goods in return for our products. On the contrary, for several years back, there has been a great increase in the exports from China. I find that from April, 1834, to March, 1835, inclusive, the imports of tea from China to this country were in value 11,149,674 dollars; of silk, 2,485,365; and of sundries, 2,476,104; making together, 4,027,785l. sterling, taking the dollar at 5s. From April, 1835, to March, 1836, the total value of goods exported from China was 5,102,347l. The total exports from July, 1836, to June, 1837, inclusive, was 6,475,183l. The exports from Jul, 1837, to June, 1838, amounted to 3,259,981, the yearly average of the exports from China during this period being 4,716,334l., a sum nearly five times as much as the value of British goods imported into China. Now, here let the House look to the capabilities of China to give her produce in exchange for British goods. In l831,and 1832, and 1833, years previous to the opening of the trade with China, the average export of tea was 31,805,2081bs. From the year 1835 to 1839, inclusive, which was after the opening of the tirade, the average export was 40,564,521lbs., and the present delivery for consumption and export is 42,000,0001bs. From the year 1800 up to 1810 inclusive, the annual average of the exportation of silk from China was 79,7531bs.; from 1831 to 1833 inclusive, 19,552Ibs.; and after the opening of the trade from 1835 to 1840 inclusive, 967,623lbs. And yet after all, is this state of things favourable to British manufactures? State the case in round numbers. We receive from China, in tea, silk, and sundries, to the amount 374 of 4,500,000l. yearly, and in silver. 1,500,000l. The value of the silver in probably, even larger; because it is not easy to ascertain the amount realised by sales of opium on the coast; but these taken together make a total of about six millions sterling. Now, what if given in return? We give raw cotton and sundries from India to the amount of 1,000,000l., British goods about another million, but in opium, 4,000,000l., probably more for the reason above stated, making a total of 6,000,000. Next, observe the pernicious effects of the import of opium on the import of produce of all kinds into China; and first as to the trade of India. The following statement is extracted from "an account of the value and quantity of cargoes imported into Canton and Macao, on the tonnage employed annually in the country trade, between the different ports of British India, Canton, and Macao, specifying particularly the quantities and value of raw cotton and opium, in the following years," signed "J. Thompson," and dated "East India House, June 1, 1829:"—
I have not been able to continue the tables to the present time; but the. House will observe, almost without exception, an ascending scale of opium, and descending scale of goods, year by year, until, in 1840, the Indian trade amounted in cotton and sundries, to 1,000,000l., and in opium to 4,000,000l., showing that, in 1817, the trade in cotton goods, &c., was three times greater than that in opium, and that now the trade in opium is to four times that in cotton and sundries. Looking to the English trade, I find that the number of chests of opium imported into China, from 1803 to 1808, was, the yearly average, about 4000; the 375 number of pieces of woollen goods, 297,388; whereas, in 1839, the number of chests of opium was 40,000, and the number of pieces of woollen goods, 156,535. The cause of this is remarkably exemplified in a passage of the memorial presented on the 19th of July, 1842, to the First Lord of the Treasury, from merchants and manufacturers:
Years. Opium. Cotton and sundries. £ £ 1817–18 737,775 2,32,625 1818–19 1,98,250 1,91,568 1819–20 1,116,000 1,248,233 1820–21 1,621,500 910,429 1821–22 1,041,562 1,251,011 1822–23 2,332,250 984,812 1823–24 1,822,150 946,102 1824–25 1,128,750 1,627,389 1825–26 2,445,625 1,479,594 1826–27 2,317,456 1,609,851 1827–28 2,810,874 1,150,537The Scotland (says that document) laden with British manufactures, consigned to a respectable British firm in China, was sent up to Chusan during the time the British were in possession of that island. The sale went on satisfactorily till two opium clippers arrived, after which not a bale could be disposed of, the dollars being given for the purchase of the drug.Now, Sir, my object is, and, I hope, the object of the House will likewise be, to abolish this enormous evil, and to prevent persons from forcing this drug upon the tastes of the Chinese. I am convinced that, if the temptation were removed, the Chinese would readily give their produce in exchange for our goods, which they very much require. You all know what has been effected in Ireland by the temperance movement; there it has been found that the persons who abstained from throwing away their money on spirits, spent it on bread, meat, better clothes, and in improving their dwellings; and it is well ascertained that the persons who have expended their money in this way are better by far, and happier, and more prosperous people. A parallel case would occur in China—the principle I seek to establish in this respect is clearly laid down by the gentlemen who signed the memorial, from which 1 have just quoted, and is confirmed by Mr. Medhurst, who observes, that,By paying four millions for opium, the Chinese show that they have money to spend, and if we can but induce them to take our cottons and woollens instead of our opium, we shall be blessing them and enriching ourselves.This memorial, I may observe, is signed by no fewer than 230 great firms, some of them among the largest firms in the world; of these twenty-three signatures Were from Liverpool, forty from Manchester, fifty-one from other parts of Lancashire, twenty-seven from Leeds, thirty from the West Riding, and the remainder from other parts of England and Scotland, and they are all of opinion that it would 376 be eminently to the advantage of our commerce to put an end to the opium traffic. What said Mr. Marjoribanks (and surely a gentleman of higher experience cannot be quoted)?—It is quite a vulgar error to believe that the Chinese are otherwise than a very commercial nation, they are without exception the most trafficking people in Asia; they continue the great traders of the east.And yet what is the state of things as exhibited by Mr. Lindsay, of the factory at Canton?—Here is, in China, a nation, in population nearly doubling that of all Europe, combined with a sea-coast of fully 3,000 miles, abounding with the finest rivers and harbours in the world. Its ports and cities are filled with an industrious, enterprising, wealthy, and commercial people, and yet not 800,000 yards of broad cloths are consumed amongst them annually, although their numbers amount to 360,000,000, thus not giving an average of one yard among 450 persons.Sir, in addition to these testimonies, I must read an extract from a letter which I have received from Mr. Dunn, the proprietor of the Chinese collection at Hyde Park-corner, a gentleman of very great talent, observation, and experience, who resided in China from the year 1818, up to the year 1831. These are his words—The Chinese are naturally kind and conciliating, and feel keenly when treated with injustice: they possess a strong predilection for commerce, and a great taste for foreign manufactures. The principal barrier to the rapid increase in the consumption of British goods is, I conceive, the opium trade. … Stop the opium trade, and you will have their warmest friendship—a friendship that will so facilitate and increase the consumption of your manufactures, that a few years only would show them to be your best customers.This gentleman resided in China for a great many years, and it was precisely to the circumstance of his having had no dealings in opium that he was admitted to the friendship of many of the Chinese, who gave him this striking mark of their friendship, that by their intervention the extraordinary collection he now possessed was brought down to him from various parts of the interior, and put on board ship, without undergoing examination on the part of any of the official personages. But, Sir, another, and by far the greatest, consideration remains behind; that for which kings reign, and princes decree justice; the consideration of that which 377 affects the moral welfare of whole nations. For what purpose, I ask, is all governments instituted? I speak not of the practice—that is too often corrupt—but of the principle of government. For what purpose are all rulers invested with power, bat to encourage religion and morality, to protect and advance the real interests of those committed to their charge, and to bold forth to their subjects and to the world the example of wisdom and virtue? Has it been so here? Has such been our conduct in this particular? Quite the reverse. I will venture to assert that our encouragement to this nefarious traffic has retarded the progress of Christianity, and impeded the civilization of mankind. I will first state generally what are the effects of this drug upon the persons who use it as a luxury. In the Philosophical Transactions, it is said by Mr. Russell—It impairs the digestive organs, consequently the vigour of the whole body, and destroys also gradually the mental energies. The memories of those who take it soon fail, the become prematurely old, and then sink into the grave, objects of scorn and pity. Mustapha Shatoor, an opium-eater in Smyrna, took daily three drachms of crude opium. The visible effects at the time were the sparkling of his eyes, and great exhileration of spirits. He found the desire of increasing his dose growing upon him. He seemed twenty years older than he really was; his complexion was very sallow, his legs small, his gums eaten away, and his teeth laid bare to the sockets. He could not rise without first swallowing half a drachm of opium.
, in his Travels in Turkey, states, in describing some opium eaters,—Their gestures were frightful; those who were completely under the influence of the opium talked incoherently, their features were flushed, their eyes had an unnatural brilliancy and the general expression of their countenances was horribly wild. … The debility, both moral and physical, attendant on its excitement is terrible; the appetite is soon destroyed, every fibre in the body trembles, the nerves of the neck become affected, and the muscles get rigid; several of these I have seen in this place at various times who had wry necks and contracted fingers; but still they cannot abandon the custom;—they are miserable till the hour arrives for taking their daily dose.Again, M. de Ponqueville, in his Travels in the Morea, observes,—He who begins taking opium habitually at twenty, must scarcely expect to live longer 378 than to the age of thirty, or from that age to thirty-six: the latter is the utmost age, that for the most part they attain. After some years they get to take doses of a drachm each; then comes on a frightful pallidness of countenance and the victim wastes away in a kind of marasmus that can be compared to nothing but itself; alopecia and a total loss of memory, with rickets, are the never-failing consequences of this deplorable habit. … Always beside themselves, the theriakis are incapable of work, they seem no more to belong to society. Toward the end of their career they, however, experience violent pains, and are devoured by constant hunger; nor can their paragoric in any way relieve their sufferings; become hideous to behold, deprived of their teeth, their eyes sunk in their heads, in a constant tremor, they cease to live long before they cease to exist.Sir, I have read these passages in order to show what is the general effect upon its victims of this abominable drug, which we consider so worthy of the care of an imperial government. Now let me refer to its effects on the Chinese, for whom it is destined. Mr. Majoribanks, president of the select committee at Canton, observed, in reference to its use by the Chinese:—Opium can only be regarded, except the small quantites required for the purposes of medicine, as a pernicious poison. … To any friend of humanity (he adds) it is a painful subject of contemplation that we should continue to pour this black and envenomed poison into the sources of human happiness—the misery and demoralization are almost beyond belief.Again,—Any man who has witnessed its frightful ravages and demoralizing effects in China, mu3t feel deeply on this subject,Mr. Medhurst remarked, that it—Would be well if the rich opium merchants could see the frightful effects which the use of their drug produced upon the unhapppy beings who used it.I think so too; and it would be well if the Court of Directors of the East India Company, if Members of the Government, and if Members of Parliament, could also be present to see the effects of this pernicious and detestable drug—Calculating, therefore, the shortened lives, (he adds) the frequent diseases, and the actual starvation, which are the results of opium smoking in China, we may venture to assert that this pernicious drug annually destroys myriads of individuals.It often happens that the drug which has been partially used by the richer 379 classes, is mixed up with other substances and sold again at a low rate, so that not even the poorest are exempted by the narrowness of their means from the contagion of this terrible vice. The effects are well stated by a British merchant in his essay on the opium trade—There is but one point of difference (he says), between the intoxication of ardent spirits and that of opium deserving of particular attention here; and that is, the tenfold force with which every argument against the former applies to the latter. There is no slavery on earth to name with the bondage into which opium casts its victim. There is scarcely one known instance of escape from its toils, when once they have fairly enveloped a man.As to the effects of this drug at Singapore I shall say nothing, since a noble Friend of mine, who has written so graphic a work upon China, will probably state to the House this evening the results of his own experience. Now, let me proceed to exhibit the baneful effects on the nations of India. Here is an extract from the work of that eminent officer, Colonel James Tod, late political agent to the western Rajpoot states. On the Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan. What does this gentleman say,This pernicious plant has robbed the Rajpoot of half his virtues; and while it obscures these, it heightens its vices, giving to his natural bravery a character of insane ferocity, and to the countenance, which would otherwise beam with intelligence, an air of imbecility. Like all stimulants, its effects are magical for a time, but the reaction is not less certain; and the faded form or amorphous bulk, too often attest the debilitating influence of a drug which alike debases body and mind.He afterwards terms it,An execrable and demoralizing plant.Sir, I set, indeed, a very great value on these documents, and it will be for those who follow me on the other side of the question, to disprove, if they can, which is not very probable, the truth of the facts, or the justice of the deductions. I will now proceed to read what I regard as a very important document indeed, a dissent placed on record, in October, 1839, by one of the most able, experienced, and accomplished directors of the East India Company, Mr. Henry St. George Tucker, who protested against the whole of this traffic. Observe his words:By promoting the growth of the poppy throughout Central India, as we have done; 380 by paying high prices, and by giving the native chiefs an interest in producing, rather than restricting the cultivation, we become accessory to the probable extension of a pernicious habit among a race of men whose well-being ought never to be an object of indifference to us." … By encouraging and extending, (he continues), the growth of the poppy in our own provinces, and becoming the retail vendors of the drug, we shall promote the introduction or extension of the same pernicious habit, which is calculated to debase our native subjects.These are the sentiments of Mr. Tucker and 1 wait to hear what answer can be given to them. But I have another, and a most important document to read, an extract from the Report OH the Tea Plantations in Assam, by Mr. C. A. Bruce, formerly in the service of the East India Company, and now superintendent of tea culture in that country. Listen to this gentleman, and learn from him the effects of this drug on our own fellow-subjects. I must here request particular attention from the House to the following statement, and from those who answer me a direct refutation, if such be possible.I might here observe, (says Mr. Bruce), that the British Government would confer a lasting blessing on the Assamese and the new settlers, if immediate and active measures were taken to put down the cultivation of opium in Assam, and afterwards to stop its importation. If something of this kind is not done, and done quickly too, the thousands that are about to emigrate from the plains into Assam will soon be infected with the opium mania—that dreadful plague which has depopulated this beautiful country, turned it into a land of wild beasts, with which it is overrun, and has degenerated the Assamese from a fine race of people, to the most abject, servile, crafty, and demoralized race in India. This vile drug has kept, and does now keep down the population: the women have fewer children compared with those of other countries, and the children seldom live to become old men, but in general die at manhood; very few old men being seen in this unfortunate country in comparison with others. But those who have resided long in this unhappy land know the dreadful and immoral effects which the use of opium produces on the native. He will steal, sell his property, his children, the mother of his children, and finally, even commit murder for it. Would it not he the highest of blessings if our humane and enlightened Government would stop these evils by a single dash of the pen, and save Assam, and all those who are about to emigrate into it as tea cultivators, from the dreadful results attendant on the habitual use of opium? We should in the end be richly rewarded by having a fine 381 healthy ruse of men growing up for the plantations to felt our forests, to clear the land from jungle and wild beasts, and to plant and cultivate the luxury of the world. This can ever be effected by the enfeebled opium-eaters of Assam, who are more effeminate than women.This statement is confirmed by a private letter, from an official gentleman in Assam, who says,The cultivation of Opium is free in Assam; the fearful results from its use, which every day present themselves to notice, are very painful to witness.Sir, it is not necessary for me to comment upon passages like these; every man's heart must lead him to the just conclusion, and be satisfied that this drug has produced the most disastrous effects upon the happiness, the physical and moral welfare of all those who use it. I trust the House will agree with me that the parliament and the Government of this country, and all parties concerned, must strain every nerve to put an end to the system altogether. But mark, Sir, how different were the Assamese of a former period when they were unacquainted with this fatal drug. In the Hedikees-as-sef, a Mahomedan account, in 1658, of the operations of Mir Jumla against that country, there is a description of the Assamese in the following terms:—The men are healthy, robust, and enterprising.In this account, which gave a full description of their habits, no mention is made of opium among the products of the country, or of its use by the people. Such, then, is the result of the administration of our philanthrophic and Christian Government—this, the effect of our paternal rule; this, our addition to human happiness. It is out of the question to suppose that Christian doctrines can have any weight in a country where those who profess and inculcate those doctrines encourage this most immoral and wicked traffic. A gentleman who bad been in office in India told me, that to a missionary of exemplary character, and great energy, who went out there on his pious vocation, the people whom he addressed, replied,You tell us very fine things, certainly; but the things you say, and the things your countrymen do, are so little in keeping, that we cannot listen to you.I will now go to another district, and 382 quote part of a communication form Mr. Sym, for some time opium agent at Gorukpoor, dated March, 1849. He states:—The health and morals of the people suffer from the production of opium. Wherever opium is grown it is eaten, and the more it is grown the more it is eaten; this is one of the worst features of the opium question. We are demoralizing our own subjects in one-half of the crime in the opium dirt murders, rapes, and affrays, have their origin in opium-eating. Both Hindoos and Musealmen eat the drug; and its pernicious effects are visible on the population of the opium districts, particularly in the neighbourhood the depôts." "One opium cultivate wards adds) demoralises a whole village.He states also, the great and visible difference in appearance between men of old opium villages, and those where none is grown. Nest, the practice of growing opium in India is productive also of the most cruel oppressions. It is said, in defence of the system, that it is not compulsory upon the ryots to give up their land to the cultivation of opium; but it is not to be denied that Government proceeds in such a manner as is tantamount to compulsion. In the Chinese Repository, for February, 1837, there is this account of the very remarkable operation which was gone through in reference to the ryots in this matter:—The growing of opium (says the writer) is compulsory on the part of the ryot Advances are made by Government, through its native servants, and if a ryot refuses the advance, the simple plan of throwing the rupees into his house is adopted; should he attempt to abscond, the peons seize him, tie the advance up in his clothes, and push him into his house. The business being now settled, and there being no remedy, he applies himself as he may to the fulfilment of his contract.Such proceedings, it is true, are net authorised by the Government; nevertheless, the practice is general; it has been ascertained on inquiry by official persons long resident in India, and welt acquainted with the whole subject; and it furnisher another proof of the enormous evils and abuses arising out of a system carried on by a vast body of ill-paid native agents, who, every one of them, from the highest to the lowest, have a commission on the produce, and consequently an interest in making that produce as large as possible Thus we exercise an influence equivalent to force. By enforcing this system over so large a portion of India, are we not 383 manifestly declaring that we govern that country simply and solely with a view to our own interest, without any regard to the interests, the rights, the wishes, and happiness of its people? What is it the people of India—the tillers of the soil require? They show what they want by this fact, that in every instance where a ryot is left to himself, he cultivates, not the poppy, but sugar, potatoes, corn, and other grain. But consider, too, what splendid regions are laid waste by the cultivation of this pernicious weed:—Vast tracts of land, (it is stated) formerly occupied with other articles, are now covered with poppies, which require a very superior soil, in order to produce opium in perfection. Hence, its cultivation has not extended over waste and barren lands, but into those districts and villages best fitted for agricultural purposes, where other plants, grown from time immemorial, have been driven out before it.
, one of the collectors of the East-India Company's revenue, said, in 1840:—The Benares province is our Jamaica; it is the great sugar district of India. … The valley of the Ganges is a tract of alluvial country of extraordinary fertility, about 1,000 miles long, and from 150 to 300 miles abroad, and if perfect freedom of trade prevailed, and the necessary degree of capital and skill were applied to the production of sugar, it might grow sugar sufficient for the consumption of the whole world. It might get its grain from the neighbouring countries, which are suited only for the production of grain, and might itself be given up to the growth of sugar, indigo, tobacco, and other valuable productions.Perhaps it may be urged that the poppy has taken the place of the weed, and by its growth rendered the wildest soils beneficial to man: no such thing; it has banished useful agriculture. Mr. Lang-ford Kennedy, an opium agent, distinctly stated in 1832, that poppy is—Never cultivated on waste land, but on land before appropriated to tobacco and potatoes; both these, with opium, are crops which require the richest soil; in every particular case the poppy, where I increased the cultivation, was substituted for other articles which had been grown from time immemorial.Sir, having now shown what is the effect in China, upon our own population in India, and on man in general, of the encouragement of this drug, I will now call the attention of the House to the 384 manner in which this detestable traffic is carried on. The conduct is worthy of its origin; as it begins, so it continues, and so it ends, in fraud, violence, and oppression. In a letter dated Macao, 14th June, 1839, the writer says:—The opium trade is not annihilated. It has only, as it were, changed hands. It has passed to a class of men prepared to carry on the traffic at all hazards, to overcome all obstacles that may oppose their progress, by the weapons of war, and who for this purpose, at this time, both here, at Manilla, and Singapore, are fitting out vessels in such a manner as will defy all the naval power of China.Another letter, from a gentleman at Macao to his friend in London, dated Macao, August 6th, said:—Vessels armed to the teeth are employed along the coast, and actually forcing it into the country.A third communication, from the head of a mercantile house, dated Hong Kong, 8th August, 1839, said:—The smuggling trade, as now carried on on the coast, too closely approximates to murder, ever to enable them to defend the morality of it, whatever they may say of the drug; to fire upon parties who endeavour to stay them in an illegal act, or to sell the opium to men who choose to risk their heads for money, is neither a gentlemanly nor honourable trade.A letter from a merchant at Bombay to a firm in London, dated December 31, 1839, contains these passages:—The opium trade is carrying on with the greatest vigour, and enormous prices are being realized. We have seen a letter from an officer of the Lady Grant, a clipper that left this in September with about 700 chests of opium. She was leaving Singapore with twelve guns, and a crew of fifty-five men, for the coast of China. A letter from——,of the Vansittart, states—(it is dated Hong Kong, October 17), that a vessel has just arrived from Calcutta, carrying eighteen guns and forty Europeans, besides her Lascar crew. Our last letter would inform you that the Bengal government put up 6,000 chests on the 4th of January. The Sir Edward Ryan has just arrived with a full cargo, and fully armed and manned by a set of desperate fellows, who burn and destroy everything that comes in the way of their disposing of their opium.Now, let the House hear what is the effect of these things on the native mind. The following is from a native Hindoo, dated Calcutta, August, 1839:—If from what was before known in Eng- 385 land, one book has been published 'On the Iniquities of the Opium Trade,' there will be dozens when the people in England know as much of this trade as we now know. The papers will supply you with ample information on this head. The latest circumstance I will relate myself. The Red Rover and Sir Edward Ryan, lately arrived from China, and they have both sailed out of a British port, under the sanction of the British Government, with the avowed object of landing their opium, and selling it at all hazards on the east coast of China. They will probably fall in with some Chinese guard-boats, and will not hesitate to murder and plunder them if they can. Good God! will it be hereafter believed, that British merchants, in the nineteenth century, could, in the face of the world, without a cloak, and without a blush, engage in such a nefarious and piratical adventure for the sordid love of pelf? And yet no voice is raised, save that which is heard from the pulpit, against this murderous expedition.The correspondent in China of a mercantile house in India, observes:—To show you that more of such occurrences may be expected, we conversed the other day with a gentleman just arrived from China, who informed us, that before he left Macao, he had been in company with four captains of opium vessels, who declared to him that they had fully made up their minds to attack and sink all that opposed them in any way whatever.This, Sir, which I shall now read, I had from an eye-witness. He had seen, he states—The clippers lying in the Hoogley, with crews double in number to what was required for the navigation of the vessels, carrying guns, and fully armed, (cannon, cutlasses, and muskets), with captains determined to fight their opium in at all hazards.I had yesterday the advantage of seeing a gentleman, recently returned from China, after a residence there for seven years, who gave me some curious information on the subject. That gentleman stated these heads—The Lintin smuggling fleet keep in use a set of signals. In 1838, a dispute between the Chinese and the opium ship, Hercules; a small village subsequently set on fire by the English opium smugglers. In 1833–4, collisions and loss of life. 1835, Opium ships continue to increase, frequently fire into the Chinese junks: send armed boats to cover the landing of the opium. 1837–8. The smuggling in the Canton river, in schooners and small craft, commenced about August; much murder and much bloodshed must have taken place. In the night the sound of firearms on the river might be heard in the foreign factories. The 386 commanders of clippers openly boast of their exploits in firing on the Mandarin boats. The commander of a boat told me 'they had fired ten barrels into one boat at one time.' The very last accounts report six opium ships at Chusan. There are now, probably, thirty or forty armed ships smuggling opium on the coast of China."Is it possible, I ask, that this state of things can continue, that the government will not exert itself to extinguish such an evil? Surely it would become her Majesty's Government to take some steps towards the repression of this illicit and outrageous traffic; if not in respect to the Chinese, in deference, at least, to the feelings of the civilised and Christian nations of the world. But I have something even beyond this; I have a letter from a gentleman of great experience, written a few days ago:—When I was in Bombay, in the latter part of 1839," says the writer, "I learnt from good authority that the opium clippers were supplied with arms." From where, does the House think? From the merchants' stores? No. From private depositories? No. But actually from "the very arsenals of the Government itself." Sir, is this to be tolerated? The letter goes on to say, "Our opinm clippers assumed the style of our ships of war when in Whampoa reach, firing morning and evening guns, and in no way differing; so that the Chinese could only recognise them as ships of war.Now, all this, no doubt, is unknown to the Government; it is carried on in obscurity, in a corner? Quite the reverse. These proceedings form part of the fiscal arrangements of the Government; they constitute an important portion of the imperial policy of India. The opium is grown by advances from the imperial Government, carried down to Calcutta, and put up to sale under the Government authority; it is shipped in opium clippers lying in the river, and the whole trade is carried on with the support and under the eyes of the supreme Government. I will confirm the statement by the official account or regulation on the subject, which is to be found in a letter from the Governor-general in council, in Bengal, to the Court of Directors, dated August 3, 1830;—Full information," it says, "of the new plan on which it is proposed to conduct the concern in Malwa will be communicated through the board of customs, salt and opium, to all persons concerned in the opium trade to China, at this presidency; and we informed 387 the Bombay Government that it was our intention to continue to encourage the extension and production of the articles on this side of India."?With reference to the advances made by the Indian Government, Mr. Langford Kennedy, assistant opium agent at Patna, and opium agent at Behar, from 1811 to 1829, in his evidence before the committee of the House of Commons in 1832, said, that—Advances were made by him to the Gomastah, by the Gomastah to the Suddor Mattoo, by the Suddor Mattoo to the Village Mattoo, and by the Village Mattoo to the Ryo;" and he adds, "the Gomastah obtains a further income by a species of extortion.He proves clearly enough, that the whole cultivation is effected by Government advances, and under the Government control. But this is not all; not only is the supreme Government of India desirous to encourage and extend the growth of this pernicious drug, but they take great and minute care, a vast deal, I must say, in the style of shopkeepers, to study the taste of their customers, and pander to the vitiated palates of the Chinese, and inflame the temptations, so as to ensure an ample demand. Let the House listen to this statement, the policy of a Government that rules 100,000,000 of of men ! The proof of the fact rests on the statement of its own officers. Dr. Butter, the opium examiner of the Benares agency, says, in his paper on the preparation of opium for the Chinese market,—The great object of the Bengal opium agencies is to furnish an article suitable to the peculiar tastes of the population of China, who value any sample of opium in direct proportion to the quantity of hot drawn watery extract obtainable from it, and to the purity and strength or the flavour of that extract when dried and smoked through a pipe. The aim, therefore, of the agencies should be to prepare their opium so that it may retain as much as possible its native sensible qualities, and its solubility in hot water. Upon these points depends the virtually higher price that Benares opium brings in the China market, and the lower prices of Behrá, Malwa, and Turkey opium.This is the lestimony of an agent of the supreme Government, of Bengal; it shows pretty evidently that it is the intention of the directors that the opium should be prepared to entice and to suit the vitiated taste of the Chinese consumer. Now all this had been enjoined at the same time 388 that the opium-trade with China was known and declared to be contraband, and the Government made profession of not allowing their own servants to be engaged in anything so unlawful. I have another document to quote; it shows an almost parental care, on the part of the East India Company, to ensure the safe delivery of the real article. In 1829 it granted licenses to country ships to trade between Calcutta and Canton, and these were the conditions:—We do hereby grant a license, for, and in the name of the said united company, to the said ship to proceed upon and throughout the said voyage, to the said port of Canton, in China, and back again, &c. … Provided and upon condition that this license shall cease and be void, if and so soon as any foreign opium, or other opium than such opium as shall have been sold at the public sales of the said united company in Bengal, shall be laden with the knowledge or concurrence of the master or commander thereof, on board the said ship.All this time, I say again, the Government knew the trade to be contraband; the Legislature, too, knew and confirmed the system. The report of the committee of this House which sat in 1832 on the opium-trade, said,—The monopoly of opium supplies the Government with … of revenue." It does not appear advisable to abandon so important a source of revenue, which appears, on the whole, less liable to objection than any other which could be substituted.I do think that this proves how deeply culpable we all are. Parliament itself is responsible for much of the mischief. I was in Parliament myself at the time, and I share in the responsibility; but I had not at that time the most remote idea of the enormities which the details of the system have since brought to light. That committee were cognizant of the detestable and cruel manner in which the trade was carried on. We may see that we have thrown a veil over these enormities by our own vile legislation, and done a great deal to blunt the moral perceptions of the people engaged in it. See the effect; when Mr. Jardine was examined before a committee of the House in May, 1840, a question was asked of him, whether—The Europeans engaged in the trade were not aware of the moral objection to the trade?Now, what was his answer?—When," says he, "the East India Com- 389 pany were growing and selling opium, and there was a declaration of the House of Lords and Commons, with all the bench of bishops at their back, that it was inexpedient to do away the trade, I think our moral scruples need not have been so very great.Sir, there is a great deal of truth, as the world is constituted, in that answer of Mr. Jardine, and a great deal to be learned from it.—I hope the House will excuse me for entering into all these details. When I had undertaken to bring this question before the House, 1 felt myself bound to do it completely, and set before the House, by statements and facts, all the causes and consequences of this system, and the effects produced, both on India and China, by the contraband trade. But now, Mr. Speaker, let us come to the first and highest consideration of all; the consideration of the effects derived from the imperial sanction of this trade on every thing that is of sterling value—on the progress of society, the civilization of man, and the advancement of the gospel. I remember well, for I much admired, the language of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Edinburgh, in the debate on the gates of Somnauth. "Every act," said the right hon. Gentleman,Which tended to bring Christianity into contempt was high treason against the civilization of the human race.I heartily concurred in that sentiment, and I proved my sincerity by voting for the motion, and with the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will do the same for himself, and prove his sincerity by voting with me; because I can show, from the testimony of thinking men, that opium and the Bible cannot enter China together. What said Mr. Medhurst? He said,It has been told, and it shall be rung in the earn of the British public again and again, that opium is demoralizing China, and becomes the greatest barrier to the introduction of Christianity which can be conceived of. But the difficulty of convincing others of the truth of Christianity, and of the sincere intentions of Christians, is greater in proportion to the extent of the opium trade to China. Almost the first word uttered by a native, when urged to believe in Christ is"—And this I beg the House to consider well—Why do the Christians bring us opium, and bring it directly in defiance of our own laws? That vile drug has poisoned my son; 390 has ruined my brother; and well nigh led me to beggar my wife and children. Surely, those who import such a deleterious substance, and injure me for the sake of gain, cannot wish me well, or be in possession of a religion that is better than my own. Go, first, and persuade your own countrymen to relinquish this nefarious traffic, and give me a prescription to correct this vile habit, and then I will listen to your exhortations on the subject of Christianity.' … Should the Chinese," he adds, "Ever determine on stopping the trade, it will be from a far different motive than a wish to exclude the gospel. The determined perseverance and the audacious daring with which the opium traffic is pushed forward, to the real injury of his people, as well as the defiance of his authority, exasperates the emperor a great deal more than the distribution of tracts along the coast.What, too, says Mr. Squire, who has resided for several years in China, as an agent of the Church Missionary Society? Speaking of the opium shops in Canton, he says,Never, perhaps, was there a nearer approach to a hell upon earth than within the precincts of these vile hovels, where gaming is likewise carried on to a great extent. Here every gradation of excitement and depression may be witnessed." He adds, "Truly it is an engine in Satan's hands, and a powerful one; but let it never be forgotten, that a nation professing Christianity supplies the means; and further, that that nation is England, through her possessions in Hindostan.Again, the Rev. Howard Malcolm, of the United States, said the same thing; and I wish much to impress it on the House—The great blot on foreigners at Canton, though not all, is the opium trade. That men of correct moral sensibilities and enlightened minds should be so blinded by custom, or desire of gain, as to engage in this business is amazing … We have little reason," He continues "To wonder at the reluctance of China to extend her intercourse with foreigners; nearly the whole of such intercourse brings upon her pestilence, poverty, crime, and disturbance. No person can describe the horrors of the opium trade … That the government of the British India should be the prime abettors of this abominable traffic, is one of the grand wonders of the nineteenth century. The proud escutcheon of the nation which declaims against the Slave-trade, is thus made to bear a blot broader and darker than any other in the Christian world.Sir, these observations are most true; I am fully convinced that for the country to encourage this nefarious traffic is as 391 bad, perhaps worse, than encouraging the slave-trade. That terrible system of slavery does not necessarily destroy the physical and moral qualities of its victims. It tortures and degrades the man, but it leaves him susceptible of regeneration. But the opium trade destroys the man, both body and soul, and carries a hideous ruin over millions which can never be repaired. You may abolish the evil this night; but you cannot restore the millions who have been tempted by the proceedings of the government of India to indulge in the use of the pernicious drug. Now a fact has just occurred, than which nothing, I am certain, can reflect greater disgrace on all our conduct; it occurred on Wednesday last. The Baptist Missionary Society—a society which has done a great deal in effecting the spread of the gospel among heathen nations, and which has produced some most eminent and pious men—at a meeting last Wednesday, took into consideration the propriety of sending out missionaries to China; and it was decided to work through the agency of the American missions, because the public feeling in China was so strong against the English, that if the missionaries hoped to work at all, it must be through America, which had kept aloof, in a great degree, from this disgraceful traffic. And what was the result? Why the Baptist Missionary Society of England voted 500l. to be put at the disposal of the American missionaries for the propagation of the gospel in China!—So, Sir, it has come to this, that England, which professes to be at the head of Christian nations, is precluded by her own immoral conduct from sending her own missionaries to that part of the world which she herself has opened for the advancement of civilization and the enlightenment of Christianity. There is another still more curious document to which I must refer as it tends to show how the conduct of this country to China has been calculated to bring Christianity into disrepute with that nation. It appears that in 1677,The Emperor Kanghe sent men to weep before the corpse of a missionary, Father Magaillans; he supplied also a costly shroud, and directed the chief men of his court to attend the funeral, to show the high esteem he had for the preachers of the gospel.Until the year 1836 there had been issued no edict against Christianity itself, 392 though there had been edicts against certain professors of Christianity. But in 1836 there was published the following document:—Decree by Imperial Commission, dated Canton Taon-Kwang, 16th year, 29th day, 4th moon, against Christianity, from the Treasurer Goo and Superior Judge Van. To spread the Christian religion is to deceive the people; that religion is, in fact, the ruin of morals and of the human heart. Why do you believe fables which only destroy the human heart? Why do you seek vile gain, and thus procure your destructionWhen I read that edict, I solemnly declare, it conveyed to my mind a feeling of horror I had never before experienced. I felt that by the unprincipled acts of our government towards that people, we had made the "name of God to be blasphemed among the heathen." Let the House look to the facts adduced by Mr. Tucker:—I have never been without some faint hope," he says, "that a system, to my mind most pernicious and discreditable to us, would sooner or later be abandoned. … The utmost efforts have been used to extend the cultivation of the poppy in our old provinces. Premiums and rewards have been held out; new offices and establishments have been created. … The supreme government of India, too, have condescended to supply the retail shops with opium for domestic consumption, and have thus added a new feature to our fiscal policy.Was there ever before, Sir, such a thing perpetrated by a government?I believe," he adds, "that no one act of our Government has appeared in the eyes of respectable natives, both Mahomedan and Hindoo, more questionable than the establishment of the abkarry or tax on the sale of spirituous liquors and drugs. Nothing, I suspect, has tended so much to lower us in their regard. They see us derive a revenue from what they esteem an impure source." … "Was it becoming," he continues, "in a great government to exhibit itself as the purveyor of opium to publicans, or to establish shops on the part of the government (I use the word of the regulation) for the retail sale of the drug?' Is it desirable that we should bring it to the very door of the lower orders, who might never otherwise have found the article within their reach, and who are now tempted to adopt a habit alike injurious to health and good morals?He then goes on to mention thatThe cultivation of the poppy has now been spread throughout a large portion of Rajpootana, as well as in our own and the Mahratta districts of central India and the 393 Affghan state of Bhopal. Negotiations have been entered into, and treaties concluded, such as are not, I believe, to be paralleled in the whole history of diplomacy. We have undertaken to pay Holkar the sum of six lacs of rupees annually; and we are anxious that Scindia should be induced to accept a subsidy of the same description. Oudpoor, Kotah, Boondi, and other Rajpoot states are all to receive, and some of them do actually receive, annual payments from us on account of opium. And for what purpose?Why, to the exclusion of other products, in some instances, the sugar-cane, cotton, and other things which constitute the riches of a country, and minister to the wants and comforts of the people. This, Sir, is the statement of the evil, its causes and results: the mischief it has done must guide us to a judgement of the mischief it will do, unless speedily abolished by the intervention of this House. I will now venture to consider the remedy that may be proposed. In the first place, I contend that you ought to destroy the monopoly which the East India Company possesses of the growth and manufacture of opium in India. I follow the opinion of experienced persons when I state that it may be abolished. It is the opinion of such persons that the abolition of the monopoly would alone abate nine-tenths of the mischief: nothing but monopoly could have forced the enormous extension of the traffic. This was the opinion of Mr. Robert Inglis, a gentleman long connected with the opium-trade, and who was examined before the committee in 1840.How long ago," he was asked, "had you said that you were sure that the thing could not go on?"—"For four or five years past; the last time I was in England 1 remember more than once saying that the thing could not go on." "What gave you that impression?"—"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." "When you use the words 'forcing it upon them' do you mean that they were not voluntary purchasers?"—"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." "Do you use the word 'forcing' in the same way that you would use it in reference to a large supply of cotton goods, or anything else?"—"Yes." "When you say 'The East India Company,' you mean that it was opium grown in India?"—"Yes; I say the East India Com- 394 pany, because I conceive that nothing but a monopoly could have forced the opium in the way in which it was done.The same is confirmed by Lieutenant-Colonel Tod:—Our monopoly," says that officers, "acted as an encouragement to this vice, for no sooner was it promulgated that the Compani Sahib was contractor-general for opium, than prince and peasants, nay, the very scavengers, dabbled in the speculation. All Malwa was thrown into a ferment; like the Dutch tulip bubble, the most fraudulent purchases and transfers were effected by men who had not a seed of opium in their possession.And further than this,The Government encourged the growth of the drug by allowing the collectors a per cent-age on the produce; and not merely a per centage on what was produced, but on the quantity produced under each collector above what was produced under the former collector. The local government allowed the collectors of the districts a per centage at the sales in Calcutta, upon the surplus produce over and above what was produced by their predecessors?" "Hence." said the opium agent, "the great stimulus given to cultivation in Behar and Benares.And no wonder; for is the House aware of the influence and power of such functionaries? The collectors are far greater officers than their names would signify; they assess the districts, they are magistrates, and, as it were, a house of commons in themselves. Any one at all acquainted with oriental habits will say that the wish of a collector is nearly tantamount to a command. The first thing, then, that I will propose, is the abolition of the monopoly of the Indian government, and I will adopt, to recommend my proposition, words more emphatic than I could devise of my own; I will propose the abolition inThe hope (with reference to internal consumption) that it will tend to restrain the use of this pernicious drug." …I will add,Were it possible to prevent the use of the drug altogether, except strictly for the purpose of medicine, we would gladly do it in compassion to mankind.Now whose words are these? Are they the words of some sorry pamphleteer? of some disappointed candidate for official appointment? No. They are the words of the Directors of the East India Company themselves, in a letter to the Governor-General and the council in Bengal. 395 They adroit that the use of the drug is pernicious, and they say that, out of compassion to mankind, they would gladly prevent its use altogether, except as a medicine. This is a noble sentiment of the court; and it is now the duty of the Legislature to come forward to their help, and enable them to carry out their wise and beneficent intentions. Now, Sir, to remove another feature of the evil, I would prohibit altogether the cultivation of the drug in the territories of the East India Company. Many, I fear, will differ from me on this head; and the resolution I shall have to propose does not affirm such a course. It would, however, be a practicable measure; it has been done before, and it may be done again; it has been effected partially, and may be so universally. The whole system in India is one of prohibition; the drug had been suppressed by the presidency of Bombay. I find a paper, requesting from the supreme government a communication of the views of the Bombay government as to the best method of checking the exportation of Malwa opium,—the Bombay government states in reply, that the cultivation of the poppy had been prohibited in Guzerat (1803), by the influence of the British Government, so, by the same influence, the cultivation of the drug for exportation might be prohibited in Malwa. What said Lieutenant-Colonel Tod, whose remarks are extremely important.If the now paramount power, instead of making a monopoly of it, and consequently extending its cultivation, Would endeavour to restrict it by judicious legislative enactments, or at least reduce its culture to what it was forty years ago, generations yet unborn would have just reason to praise us for this work of mercy. It is no less our interest than our duty to do so, and to call forth genuine industry for the improvement of cotton, indigo, sugar-cane, and other products, which would enrich instead of demoralising, and therefore impoverishing the country.But again, to return to the question of the prohibition of the growth of this plant. If it has been prohibited in many parts of India, why not prohibit it in all? It is not a thing that is grown in a night; it must be sown and lie on the ground for a considerable time, at least four months. Mr. H. St. George Tucker, an East India director, tells us that such measures have been successful.In prosecuting our policy," he says, "we 396 went so far as to prohibit the cultivation of the poppy in the districts of Bhaugalpore and Rungpore, where it had long been grown extensively, and where the produce had theretofore been appropriated to the purposes of the monopoly; and at a period not very remote, on information being obtained that cultivation in Rungpore had been clandestinely renewed, the Government did not hesitate to order the plant to be eradicated in the most preremptory and arbitrary manner.The opinion as to the possibility of the prohibition of the growth of the poppy is likewise confirmed by the board of directors of the Assam Tea Company. They say in the report in 1841,—The growth of the poppy on their lands is entirely prohibited. This prohibition it will be as much the interest as the duty of the company strictly to observe; and it is to be hoped, that the Government itself will take active measures to put down the cultivation of opium throughout the province, for to the very general use of this drug may be mainly attributed the scantiness of the population, the wretched condition of the Assamese, and the difficulty of obtaining labour from a race enfeebled by its effects.I have, therefore, the testimony of the Assam Tea Company, that not only is the prohibition carried out in their territories, but they likewise express a hope, that this prohibition may be rendered general throughout the province by the Government. And who are the parties who have expressed this opinion? The chairman of the company at that time was Sir George Gerard de Hochepied Larpent; deputy chairman, Sir W. Baines, bart.; directors, Messrs. John Alliston, Francis Fox, William Manning, Alexander Rogers, Foster Reynolds, William R. Robinson, John Small, Richard Twining, John Travers, Thomas Weeding, and last, though not least, Mr. Ross D. Mangles, Member for Guilford, who, I feel assured, will give his vote this night in conformity with his opinion. I will quote one other opinion, the opinion of no unimportant person on this subject—the opinion of Sir G. B. Robinson, as expressed to Lord Palmerston on the 5th of February, 1836.Whenever," said that gentleman, "his Majesty's Government direct us to prevent British vessels engaging in the traffic, we can enforce any order to that effect; but a more certain method would be to prohibit the growth of the poppy and manufacture of opium in British India."(cheers.)Sir, it is very singular that the opinion 397 I have just read should be received with cheers from both sides of the House; by the parties composing the two governments of late years, which have seen the evil, and applied no remedy. Both have deplored it; and both have allowed it to remain. "The difficulties, no doubt, have been great; but so are the crime and the danger, which mast now be met, and boldly met, by the principles and the energy of a Government. Now, Mr. Speaker, in opposition to these several proposals, there have been raised a variety of arguments, which I will briefly consider. The first of these is grounded on the assumed insincerity of the Chinese rulers, that they are not sincere in their professions of anxiety to exclude the opium. Now, supposing it to be so, their insincerity is no business of ours. Law is law, and must be respected. It would be no affair of ours, if the French government should pretend moral motives for the prohibition of our goods, when its objects, in fact, were exclusively fiscal; we must pay regard to national regulations. What people give us credit for honesty and principle in suppressing the slave-trade? We feel ourselves grossly wronged by such suspicions. Let this infuse into us a particle of charity, and make us believe that it is possible for the emperor of China to be guided by a desire of good, and the moral welfare of his people. But, Sir, I believe in the total and complete sincerity of the supreme government of China on this subject; not of the local government, for that has been most completely corrupted by us in a long course of bribery and intimidation. Look at the whole history of the opium trade with China. According to Mr. Ritchie,—In Kienlung's reign, as well as previously, opium was inserted in the tariff of Canton, as a medicine, subject to a duty. After this it was prohibited. As soon as his successor, Keaking, mounted the throne, opium-smoking was declared to be an offence punishable by the pillory and the bamboo. In the fourth year of his reign (1799) the sale was interdicted; and the punishment annexed to a contravention of the law increased gradually to transportation and death by strangling. In the following year its importation was utterly forbidden, and heavy penalties denounced against offenders.Now, as to the opinion of the Chinese government, what has been recorded? There is not a single case, under any circumstances, since 1783, in which opium 398 has been admitted by imperial edict into China. The question was put to Mr. Jardine in 1840—"There is no instance of an imperial edict sanctioning the trade?"—"Never," he replied. Surely such a continuous mode of action for nearly sixty years is sufficient indication of a determination to exclude a particular drug; and the fact of there having been no relaxation during that period must be taken, if anything could be so, as an indication of sincerity. But let the House look at the recent facts. The whole of the opium seized by the emperor was destroyed, although it might have been sold for an amount equal to 3,000,000l. The emperor did not convert a grain of it to his own use, but had it all destroyed in the presence of eye-witnesses. Surely, if he were not sincere in his opposition to the drug, he would not have acted so prejudicially to his own pecuniary interests. But if he be not opposed to its admission, why does he not realize a revenue from it, and allow it to be admitted at a high duty? On 40,000 chests, at 25l. per cent, ad valorem duty, he would realise 1,500,000l. I know that the emperor's opposition to the introduction of this drag into his dominions is charged to his anxiety because of the oozing out of the Sycee silver to the extent of about 2,000,000l. a-year. But surely this is a fair matter for the Goverment to be anxious about when we consider that any derangement of the currency here produces such ferments in the country, and talk in this House as if the nation were at the last gasp. But because the emperor of China puts that argument forward as one reason and only one reason, for his opposition to this trade, he is to be taxed with insincerity. Again, it is said, that the poppy is grown to a great extent in China. Now this is rather a proof of extreme weakness in the internal government, beause we know well that there are constantly edicts against its cultivation. Mr. Jardine is asked,Have you ever heard of any attempts made by the Chinese government to put down the growth of opium in China?"—Frequently, in former days there used to be translations of the Pekin Gazette to that effect. Again: Before reading the discussions at Pekin about the suppression of the trade, did you know that opium was extensively grown in China?—"Yes, in consequence of having seen it in the Pekin Gazette, when it used to be translated for the company, that autho- 399 rities had been sent out to destroy the poppy in the provinces in which it is grown.Besides, if the emperor were not opposed to its use in his dominions, why does he not encourage its cultivation at home? This would put a stop to smuggling and the efflux of Sycee silver, and would prevent collisions with the English, besides realizing a large revenue, for the climate of China is very favourable to the growth of the plant. But I will quote another curious fact, to prove the sincerity of the emperor's opposition to the consumption of this drug, for which I am indebted to the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Aldam). This is an extract from Recollections of Siberia, by Mr. Cottrel, 1840. Speaking of Semipolatinsk, near the river Irtysh, in Omsk, he says,—The trade with China is here very considerable; about 40 poods, or 1,440 pounds weight of opium, are generally imported into China yearly from this, but in 1839 it was all seized and confiscated.Hence we must infer, that the seizure of the English opium in Canton in 1839, and of the Russian opium introduced by the Russian merchants, was part of a new fiscal system and of a general measure, not directed exclusively against the British. But, Sir, if this be our opinion of the conduct of the Chinese emperor, why not charge another oriental monarch with similar insincerity? Yet I find the following passage in the treaty between the East India Company and the king of Siam:—Merchants are forbidden to bring opium, which is positively a contraband article in the territories of Siam, and should a merchant introduce any, the governor shall seize him, and destroy the whole of it.Surely we may, in decent consistency, allow to the emperor of China the same liberty that we allow to the king of Siam. Next, it is urged, that we might as well interdict the growth of barley as the growth of opium. I will meet that objection at once. If we could say no more for the utility of the growth of barley than for the utility of the growth of the poppy, I would interdict it at once. But is this so? Is not barley convertible to the sustenance of animals, to the sustenance of man? But opium is applicable only to medical purposes, and the Indian opium is not even fit for that. Here is the testimony of Dr. Butter, in the journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal? he says, that— 400But for the unfortunate superabundance of narcotine, and comparative paucity of obtainable morphia in Indian opium, the manufacture of the muriate on a large scale might advantageously be established at one of the Bengal agencies for the supply of our India medical department with this admirable preparation.So we see that India, from the peculiar quality of its opium, is not able to supply its own department with that useful and necessary medicine. Indeed, it has never been the object of the Indian Government to cultivate opium with a view to its medical properties. This question has been put to Mr. Stark, a most intelligent gentleman at the India board:—According to the information that you have obtained, can opium be cultivated more cheaply and with greater advantage in Bengal, than in any other part of the East, taking into consideration both quantity and quality?—The Bengal Government have never attempted," he replies, "to produce opium with reference to its medical qualities, but entirely with a view of meeting the taste of the Chinese.I hope, therefore, that no one will contend that the plant is grown in India for medical purposes. If grown as a medicine, it is a hundredfold more than is necessary for the whole world; but, if grown as a stimulant, let me read to the House a letter which has been put into my hands, written by a celebrated surgeon, and signed by a vast number of eminent physicians. I will request to this the serious attention of the House. The writer says,—However valuable opium may be when employed as an article of medicine, it is impossible for any one who is acquainted with the subject to doubt that the habitual use of it is productive of the most pernicious consequences—destroying the healthy action of the digestive organs, weakening the powers of the mind, as well as those of the body, and rendering the individual who indulges himself in it a worse than useless member of society.Some people may think it is a beneficial stimulus. This doctor says,—I cannot but regard those who promote the use of opium as an article of luxury, as inflicting a most serious injury on the human race.The first gentleman who signs this letter is Sir B. Brodie, and to the letter is attached this statement:—The following gentlemen state, that they entirely agree with Sir B. Brodie in the opinion expressed by him in the foregoing letter, and 401 have accordingly attached their signatures to it;—Sir Henry Halford, Bart., M.D., F.R.S, F.H.S., President of the Royal College of Physicians; Anthony White, Esq. President of the Royal College of Surgeons, and Surgeon to Westminster Hospital; W. F. Chambers, M.D., F.R.S.; Thomas Hodgkin, M.D.; Geo. Gregory, M.D.; C. Locock, M.D.; Robt. Ferguson, M.D.; Henry Holland, M.D.; Anthony Todd Thomson, M.D.: Thomas Watson, M.D.; Charles J. B. Williams, M.D.; John Glendinning, M.D.; F.R.S.; James Carrick Moore, Esq.; Benjamin Travers, Esq.; F.R.S.; John Ayrton Paris, M.D.; John Forbes, M.D.,; F.R.S.; Richard Bright, M.D.; Robert Liston, Esq., F.R.S.; J. M. Latham, M.D.; Roderic Macleod, M.D.; Cæsar Hawkins, Esq.; James Johnson, M.D.; Frederick Tyrrell, Esq.; and C. Aston Key, Esq.Again, it is said if we abandoned the growth of the poppy others would take it up; but it must be allowed, that if the growth of the poppy were put down in British India, years must elapse before the same quantity could be grown elsewhere; meanwhile, we might hope for an improved morality, for an improved policy, and for a better taste growing up amongst the Chinese. But of this lam sure; that if the growth of the article should be entirely prohibited, if it be no longer grown under the superintendence of the supreme Government, capitalists will be backward to enter on the cultivation, and will be deterred by the hazard of exposure when the produce of it shall be visited with severe measures. Look, too, at what has been done by other governments. Let us, first, take the Spanish possessions in the Philippines; the supply of opium from Manilla, by last returns, is only ninety-four chests, of which five-sixths had come to England, and one-sixth had gone to China, of very bad quality. Here the growth is voluntary, and not encouraged by the Government. A highly respectable and well-informed merchant, recently returned from Manilla, states, in a letter dated January 24th, 1843, that—The import of opium for home use in the Phillippine Islands is strictly prohibited, and there is no inland trade in the article.He adds also, that—Opium imported in Spanish vessels is permitted to be bonded for re-exportation, except to China, to which country Spanish vessels are not allowed to carry it.Contrast this conduct with ours, and which will come out with the greatest 402 "honour? Which will appear the more becoming, the more moral, the more humane, ay, and I will venture to add, the more Christian? Why, that of the Spanish government, of which it has been said that it is in a state of decay. Sir, I prefer such a decay to our vigour, "although," continues the same merchant,This regulation is frequently evaded, by the vessels clearing out for a false destination, does not this manifest, on the part of the Spa-Spanish authorities, respect for the laws of China?Again: what is the policy in the Dutch colonies? It appears from a Parliamentary return, that the average annual value of the imports of opium into Java, from the year 1826 to 1841, was 15,598l. A gentleman of high commercial standing, recently returned from Batavia, where he has resided for many years, has stated:—Not a poppy for the product of opium is permitted to be grown in Java or any other of the (Dutch colonies. The Government monopolizes the import, which is from 300 to 400 chests annually, the Dutch East-India Trading Company acting as their agents in purchase and import. Formerly its import for re-export was allowed, but now, since last year, as it led to smuggling, it has been prohibited,But the Dutch Government protects its own subjects.The opium." (he adds) "is sold to persons being the highest bidders, who farm the sale in different districts, of which there are about twelve. The Government condemns the use of opium, and would profess that they limit the supply for this reason—the native chiefs also are inimical to it. There is no chance whatever of the growth being permitted, even if abandoned by the British, because, among other reasons, the land is occupied with more valuable productions, as coffee, tea, sugar, and indigo.Next it is asserted that, if Malwa opium were interdicted, a passage through the Company's territories, it would be taken to Demaun and shipped there. In refutation of this opinion, I will read an extract from a letter dated Bombay, September 28, 1840. The writer says:—Formerly a considerable portion of the Malwa opium was shipped from Demaun, which is 100 miles north of Bombay. It was taken through Mewar, north of Deesa and Cutch, to Kuratchee, whence it was shipped to Demaun. In 1838, Kuratchee was taken possession of by the British, and as we have possession of all the ports of Scinde, opium 403 cannot reach the sea except by smuggling, which can only be done to a very small extent, as the regular roads are carefully guarded.The next and last objection which I have to combat is, that the suppression of the opium trade will inflict a severe blow upon the revenue of India, and diminish it without affording any hope of the deficiency being replaced by other means. Until I had been in conversation with persons who are more intimate with the subject than myself, I was not aware that so few financial difficulties stood in the way of the removal of this evil. I will not detain the House by an enumeration of plans. But whatever the obstacles may be, and whatever objections are advanced, I must say with regard to this revenue, what Sir Stamford Raffles said of the Dutch—The European Government, overlooking every consideration of feeling and humanity, allows an addition to their finances to outweigh all regard to the ultimate happiness of the country.The House will surely agree in the sentiments expressed in the protest of Mr. Tucker, a director of the East India Company—I must contend that, if a revenue cannot be drawn from such an article as opium, otherwise than by quadrupling the supply, by promoting the use of the drug, and by placing it within the reach of the lower classes of the people, no fiscal consideration can justify our inflicting upon the Malays and Chinese so grievous an evil.This, Sir, is the statement on which I rely; and while I most sincerely thank the House for the kindness and indulgence with which they have listened to me, I may be allowed, perhaps, to express a hope that those who reply will answer me with facts and statements of equal authority. Now, Sir, let us make the case our own. What would be said, if any other nation were to treat us as we treat the Chinese? What would be said in this country, and what an amount of just indignation would there be in this House, if we were told that French buccaneers were ravaging our coasts, defying our laws, and murdering our fellow subjects!—Should we venture to act thus towards any other state that was bold enough, and strong enough, to make reprisals upon us? Certainly not. And in admitting this, we admit that our conduct 404 towards the Chinese is governed by our pride and our power, and not by our own estimate of justice. Yet who are the people who receive such treatment at our hands? How are they described by a person who knew them wel:—I have been a long time in this country, and I have a few words to say in its favour; here we find our persons more effectually protected by laws than in many other parts of the east of the world. In China, a foreigner can go to sleep with his windows open, without being in dread either of his life or property, which are well guarded by a most watchful and excellent police; but both are perilled with little or no protection in many other states: business is conducted with unexampled facility, and in general with singular good faith, though there are of course occasional exceptions, which only the more strikingly bear out my assertion. Neither would I omit the general courtesy of the Chinese in all their intercourse and transactions with foreigners. These, and some other considerations, are the reasons that so many of us so oft revisit this country, and stay in it so long.Remember that this speech was delivered at Canton before the war in 1839; and that these are the words of Mr. Jardine, a gentlemau who was very much mixed up with the transactions which we all of us deplore. Do you know, or are you indifferent to, the opinions and language of foreign nations? Can you take up a single foreign journal, without finding it full of sarcasm and contempt of our conduct and policy? Have you heard the honest, sober, and conscientious opinions of foreign statesmen? Do you value the sentiments of foreign historians? Here is the language of Count Bjornsterna, in his authentic work on the British Empire in the east, a work that is widely circulated on the continent.Strictly speaking, the whole trade with India," (says the Count) "rests at present on a highly immoral basis; on 15,000 or 20,000 chests of opium, of the value of 2,000,000l. or 3,000,000l. sterling, with which the Chinese are every year poisoned. Thus a country which had for thousands of years accumulated the gold of the world, which is destined by nature to bear the finest fruits and the dearest spices which contribute to the enjoyment and refreshment of man, has been compelled in our days to bear a noxious drug, which spreads physical and moral debility among the millions of inhabitants of the celestial empire.If such accusations as these were unjust, I should altogether despise them; but, knowing that they are richly deserved, they are to my mind absolutely intolera- 405 ble. Sir, although I may be animadverted upon, and perhaps rebuked for having presumed to handle so important a matter, I shall ever be thankful that I have acted as an instrument to lay this abominable evil before the eye of the public. I shall deeply regret to have given offence to this House, or to any individual; nevertheless, I shall rejoice in the disclosure, and the possible removal, of the mischief. Sir, the condition of this empire does demand a most deep and solemn consideration; within and without, we are hollow and insecure. True, it is, that we wear a certain appearance of power and majesty, but, with one arm resting on the east, and the other on the west, we are in too many instances trampling under foot every moral and religious obligation. I confess I speak most sincerely, though few, perhaps, will agree with me; but I do say—it is in my heart and I will bring it out.—if this is to be the course of our future policy; if thus we are to exercise our arts and arms, our science and our superiority of knowledge over the world—it all these are to be turned to the injury and not to the advantage of mankind, I should much prefer that we shrink within the proportions of our public virtue, and descend to the level of a third-rate power. But a great and a noble opportunity is now offered to us, of being just and generous in the height of victory. In such a spirit, and with such an aim, there is hope that we may yet be spared to ran a blessed, a useful, and a glorious career; directing all our energies and all our vows—all that we have, and all that we shall receive—to that one great end of human existence, "Glory to God in the highest; on earth pace, goodwill towards men." The noble Lord concluded by moving—That it is the opinion of this House, that the continuance of the trade in opium, and the monopoly of its growth in the territories of British India, is destructive of all relations of amity between England and China, injurious to the manufacturing interests of the country by the very serious diminution of legitimate commerce, and utterly inconsistent with the honour and duties of a Christian kingdom; and that steps be taken, as soon as possible, with owe regard to the rights of Government and individuals, to abolish the evil.
§ Mr. Brotherton
said, he reluctantly intruded himself upon the notice of the House, but he could not refuse to second the resolution of the noble Lord. It was 406 not a party question—it was one of universal interest, and one upon which several petitions bad been presented to the House. He believed, that the striking statements made by the noble Lord would produce an extraordinary effect on the public mind, with respect to this most important question; for important it was in a national, moral, humane, and religious point of view. On the decision the House came to, depended the prosperity and happiness of a great portion of the human race. He had not considered the subject in all its bearings, but he believed the object of the motion must be good in its tendency, and promote a friendly relation between this country and the Chinese. It would advance the commerce of this country, promote peace and good will amongst men, and remove a stain which he believed still remained upon the nation. It was, therefore, worthy of the serious attention of the House. It only remained for them to consider the principles which they should regard in a discussion of this sort. The noble Lord had quoted the opinions of Lord Ellenborough and other eminent men; and what he cited forcibly reminded him (Mr. Brotherton) of an observation made by Mr. Fox—What is morally wrong, can never be politically right.He could not see how the opium trade could be considered as any other than a great moral evil, or what right the East-India Company, or any other body, had to spread a poison amongst a people, which was calculated to produce disease, immorality, crime, and death. He traced the evil to the monopoly of the East-India Company, who had power to increase or to suppress it as they pleased. 40,000 chests of opium were every year produced and forced upon the Chinese in a manner which could not be justified. It was delivered to the Company's servants, who made a profit by it and disposed of it to the merchants; and, although the East India Company did not trade in opium themselves, they permitted the merchants to traffic in it, and they connived at all the means adopted to enforce it upon the Chinese. We could newer be justified in sanctioning such a system as that. Although it was said, that the support of the poppy trade brought 1,250,000l. to the Indian revenue, he could not conceive that any fiscal advantages would justify the trade. But it was not unusual for persons to defend that 407 which served their pecuniary interests. He remembered, that when it was attempted to abolish the slave-trade, the people of Liverpool said, the result would be the ruin of the place, which would afterwards be frequented only by a few fishing boats, and that in fact it would become depopulated, a fear that had not been realized. So with regard to State lotteries, it was argued that their abolition would be injurious to the country, but it had not proved so. The noble Lord, on the contrary, had shown that in proportion as our trade in opium had increased, so had our trade in cotton and other manufactured goods diminished; and it must be clear to every man of common sense that if the amount of all the silk and teas we received from China was more than the amount of opium sent thither, the balance of trade must be against us. How, then, could we expect them to take our manufactures? Seeing the manner in which the opium was conveyed—seeing the manner in which the importation was resisted, he did beg of the House, for the sake of the people of India and China—for the sake of our own people—for the sake of British commerce, and for the advancement of justice and humanity, to put a stop to this iniquitous trade. But he would not enter into details. The noble Lord had indeed exhausted the subject, and it was only left for him to say, that he gave the motion his cordial support.
§ Mr. W. Bingham Baring
should feel, he said, great difficulty in addressing the House upon this occasion, if he thought the arguments and the statements of the noble Lord were only to be met by casuistry. He was far from wishing to deny that great and palpable evils had arisen from this traffic; but, allowing that there was good foundation for much that the noble Lord had advanced, he was still prepared to contend that there had been great exaggerations of those evils, and he was further ready to declare, that if he could believe them to admit of the easy remedy proposed, and if he could suppose, that the East India Company offered the only impediment to the application of that remedy—in that case he would not remain one minute in his office, subordinate as it was, without declaring himself willing to lend the noble Lord every possible assistance. But to proceed to the arguments the noble Lord had used. In the first place, he had stated, that the cultivation of opium in India might be easily put 408 down. Now, he (Mr. Baring) feared, that that was an erroneous assumption. How could it be put down? At the present time the Mahomedan population of British India made use of opium as the only stimulant their religion permitted. There was no prohibition of its use, and it was impossible to prevent them from using it, grown as it was in Malwa and other territorities, from which no power we could raise—no system we could establish—could prevent its circulation. It must be recollected, that we had already attempted to put down the cultivation in Malwa. That attempt, however, had proved unsuccessful. On the cessation of disturbances in British India, when peace was restored, and the people were enabled to return to their ordinary pursuits, then, in spite of the negotiations and remonstrances of the supreme courts, the growth was carried on by the independent states to such an extent, as to create a danger of the production of the drug at a reduced rate, and of its introduction by smugglers into other parts of the peninsula. In order to avoid such an evil, and in some sort to control the cultivation, the company attempted to form treaties with the native chiefs. In some cases they succeeded in this endeavour, but in other instances they were not enabled to obtain the concurrence of the chiefs. A system of smuggling then commenced. Armed bands arose—men accustomed to follow any leader, or to place their swords at the disposal of any party giving them employment, in accordance with the custom of their fathers and forefathers, they were willing to lend their aid to those who would pay them. It was Sir C. Metcalfe, who, finding that we were about to create another Pindaree warfare, advised the Government to yield, told them that they would not be successful, and, in lieu of suppressing the cultivation, induced them to establish an export duty, which should be fixed as high as possible. From this it was evident, that the company had made every effort to put down smuggling, and had yielded only to an absolute necessity. If we attempted to take the same course now, smuggling would be revived, and we should soon find that we were no more successful in India, than the emperor of China is in his dominions. But, having shown the impossibility of suppressing the cultivation in Malwa, he would beg to ask the hon. Gentleman how he thought it could be suppressed in the 409 territory under our own control? To the Mahomedans in our territories opium was as necessary as wine and spirits were to our own population. They would have it, and the only way of checking its consumption would be to raise a host of excise and customs' authorities, whom it would be perfectly impossible to maintain in authority in India. The House must remember, that in India the population had no feeling with us, but, on the contrary, every disposition to thwart our rule. In many districts of large extent the only persons to support our interests were a collector, and at most deputy-collector, with a magistrate perhaps and his deputy; and could it be supposed, that these unsupported could be able to maintain our sway? But, even supposing they were successful in upholding our authority, what would be the consequence? Would the population be saved from the evils now made the subject of complaint? Why, there were other drugs in India infinitely more prejudicial to physical health and energy than opium. There was an exhalation of the hemp plant, easily collected at certain seasons, which was in every way much more injurious than the juice of the poppy; indeed, when a suggestion was once made to stop the cultivation of opium in Assam, it was suggested that the population of that territory would in such case have recourse to other stimulants, and that the second condition of the people would be worse than the first. But the noble Lord had argued, that the poppy was raised with injury to the ryots—that they were shamefully treated by those who had authority over them. Now, he feared, that it was not only those engaged in the cultivation of the poppy who were oppressed by the native officers, and it was in other remedies than the prohibition of poppy cultivation that would lie the real relief from such grievances as these. But then, the noble Lord complained, that the Government made advances for the promotion of the cultivation. Now, why were those advances made? Simply because prepayment was the best and cheapest mode of making a payment, and because, if there were not a payment in advance, the cultivator would be less independent of his landlord. "Oh, but," said the noble Lord, "your monopoly is extending the cultivation through the length and breadth of the land." Now, if this were the case, this particular monopoly was widely different in its effect from most other mono- 410 polies, for generally the tendency of a monopoly was to limit cultivation. If the noble Lord would examine the report for 1832, he would find there a suggestion for the abolition of the monopoly. But on what ground, let him ask, was that suggestion made? Was it made with any views similar to those of the noble Lord? Certainly not: the report was wholly based on commercial considerations; those who drew it up considered that the monopoly enhanced the price of production, and for the purpose, not of limiting, but of extending the sale, they had suggested this important alteration. That this was a right interpretation was clear from the recorded expressions of Mr. Holt Mackenzie, a gentleman whose opinion had great weight with the committee on that occasion. Mr. Mackenzie wholly dealt with the matter on commercial considerations, arguing in favour of opening the trade, on the ground that a cheap and abundant supply would be the consequence. In fact, there could be little doubt, that to throw open the cultivation would have the effect, not only of extending that cultivation and the general consumption, but also would operate as an incitement to the baneful and lawless proceedings of the smuggler. The noble Lord had suggested no measures by which the Government would be enabled to guard the coast of China, with the view of preventing the introduction of opium into that country. Were this country to send out to China a powerful navy, assisted by steamers and aided by all the officials of China, he (Mr. B. Baring) would defy them to put a stop to those scenes of rapine and disorder which would inevitably occur on the coast of China, were the attempt made to put a stop to the trade. The only remedy for the evil complained of was for the emperor of China to legalise the trade. There was reason to suppose that the next despatches from that country might bring the intelligence, that the trade in opium had been legalised. Should such be the fact, then it would be unnecessary to affirm the first proposition of the noble Lord, to the effect, that the monopoly of the growth of opium in the territories of British India was destructive of all relations of amity between England and China. The truth of the noble Lord's proposition was contingent upon the failure of the negotiations now going on with the emperor of China for legalising the trade. No course could be adopted until that question was settled, as to the second 411 proposition of the noble Lord, that the trade of opium was injurious to the manufacturing interests, by the very serious diminution of legitimate commerce, he doubted whether the House would venture upon such an assertion. It was true, that our imports from China were purchased with opium instead of manufactures, but how was that opium purchased. The noble Lord would find, that our exports to India had increased with the exportation of opium from India. But even if this were not so, what right should we have to drive the Hindoo from competing with us in fair commercial rivalry in the ports of China; and in how far would it be consistent with the honour and duties of a Christian kingdom, to put down this competition, this fair and equal competition of trade by the exertion of our supremacy over a subject race. With these objections therefore to both the propositions of the resolution of the noble Lord, he could not give them his support, but rather than meet them with a direct negative he would take a course more respectful towards the noble Lord—more consonant with the feelings of the House—more compatible with the general disinclination of the House to affirm abstract resolutions. He should therefore conclude by moving the previous question.
§ The motion and the amendment having been put,
§ Sir George Staunton
said,* Sir, before 1 enter into the immediate subject of the motion, I am anxious to guard myself against any misconstruction, in respect to the claims of those persons who surrendered their opium to Captain Elliott, for the purpose of being delivered up to the Chinese government. However pernicious and impolitic the traffic in opium may be, and whatever opinion this House may pronounce to-night against its further continuance, we ought to recollect that these persons engaged in this traffic under the full sanction, and indeed encouragement, both of the Indian and the home Government; that they were deprived of their property by an act of violent and unjustifiable outrage on the part of the Chinese authorities; and that they received, at the same time, from her Majesty's Superintendent of Trade, on behalf of the Government, a distinct and specific pledge of reimbursement. I think, therefore, whatever may be the fate of the present motion, these individuals are clearly entitled to full, fair,*From a corrected report.412 and entire indemnification for their losses. If the question now before the House had not been so peculiarly connected, as it is, with our existing relations with China; had it been solely based on those great religious and moral considerations of a general nature which my noble Friend has submitted to the House with so much force and ability; although I should still have given the motion, as I shall now do, my most cordial support, I should probably have contented myself with a silent vote. At the same time, I am certainly not insensible to the importance of these considerations, I think, that if we were to treat them with levity and indifference; if we were to deal with the great questions of commerce and finance that come before us, only as matters of pounds, shillings, and pence, without any regard to the moral feelings and moral condition, of those, at home or abroad, who are affected by them, we should ill represent the feelings and wishes of our constituents. I know that the bearing of these moral and religious considerations upon this question has been denied. A supposed analogy has been drawn between the consumption of opium and that of ardent spirits; and it has been argued that, because we cannot control abuses in the one case, we ought not to attempt to do so in the other. I think, however, that this analogy is altogether fallacious. I see no analogy whatever between excess in the use of articles in daily and beneficial consumption, and the perversion to the purposes of vicious luxury, of a poison, the legitimate use of which is exclusively medicinal. I do not, however, wish to dwell on this branch of the subject. My main object in rising, is to address myself to the great practical question, how far the countenance now given to the growth and cultivation of opium in British India, and to its exportation to China on a large scale, under the British flag, is compatible with the preservation of the peace happily re-established between the two countries. I am deeply impressed with the conviction, founded both on ray experience when in China, and on a full consideration since, of subsequent events, that the real issue which we are about to decide, is, whether the vast and various interests involved in our friendly relations with China, shall be preserved and improved to an extent of which it is not easy to assign the limits; or whether the peace 413 now existing shall be converted into a hollow truce, and probably, within a few months changed into a sanguinary war, of which no man can undertake to foretell the length or the result! Entertaining these sentiments, I think I should not be doing my duty if I did not endeavour, however imperfectly, to state the grounds of my opinions to the House. I do not disguise from myself that the question is attended with difficulties; but when such great interests are at stake, I think we are bound to grapple with them. The House has heard a good deal about the revenue which is hazarded by the adoption of my noble Friend's motion; it should also hear something of the nature and extent of those great interests which the adoption of his motion will tend to maintain and preserve. I trust, therefore, I shall not be deemed to depart from the question if I dwell, in some detail, upon those interests. I need not say much regarding the advantages we derived from our position in China previous to the war. It is well known that we had long derived from China exclusively, our supply of the article of tea; that the China trade bad yielded an annual revenue to the Exchequer of nearly four millions sterling, and that, even under the much reprobated monopoly of the East India Company, it was the medium by which the disposal was effected of above a million sterling in value of the manufactures and productions of this country. It is true, as observed by the hon. Member who preceded me, that this large export of British produce was effected at a considerable sacrifice on the part of the East India Company, and that the amount fell off under the free-trade system. But this only shows that the impulse thus given by the East India Company to our exports to China may be considered to have been a part of the price they paid for the enjoyment of their monopoly. The advantageous commerce which we had thus enjoyed in China was, however, certainly subjected to some considerable drawbacks, which were viewed, at the time, in a very serious light by many persons; and there were some who were desirous even that a temporary interruption might take place in our relations with China, with a view to effect their removal. This was very much the opinion of the mercantile community, upon the case of the unfortunate Lord Napier; but the ultima ratio of war is so tremen- 414 dous an evil, that nothing but an whelming necessity can justify it, and I did the utmost in my power at that time to dissuade from a recourse to hostilities. The greatest, perhaps, of these drawbacks was the confinement of our trade to a single port in China, and that port the least advantageous as regards the wants of our trade; for the province of Canton does not produce the tea which we consume; every chest of the tea we consume has been hitherto conveyed to Canton on men's shoulders over a high chain of mountains; thus, of course, increasing considerably the expense of exportation. Mr. Ball, a gentleman long resident in the Company's service in China, (to whose sagacity this country is certainly indebted for the discovery of the superior advantages of the port of Fou-cheou-foo,) has calculated the annual loss to us, on one single description of tea, from this circuitous conveyance, at upwards of 150,000l. Another objection to Canton arose from its being the southernmost port of China, so that our woollen manufactures had to be sent a long distance by land to the northern provinces, where they were most in demand. We are now, however, admitted to four other of the finest ports in China, and in the central and richest parts of the empire. The next drawback of which we had to complain, and it was a very serious one, was the frequent occurrence of disputes and occasionally the entire suspension of the commercial intercourse, whenever any of our countrymen were unfortunately guilty of homicide. In these cases, the guilty were often obliged to be protected, to avoid the risk of sacrificing a possibly innocent person, by surrendering him to the native tribunals, where a fair and impartial trial was not to be expected. This embarrassing dilemma has been happily removed. In one of the lately published imperial edicts, the emperor declares that, in future, Chinese subjects committing offences shall be tried by a Chinese tribunal, and that British subjects committing offences shall be tried by a British tribunal. A more important and satisfactory concession, with a view to the peace and security of the anxious to take this opportunity of drawing the attention of her Majesty's Government to the fact, that unless this concession on the part of the Chinese authorities 415 receives early confirmation and assistance from the British Legislature, it will be of little or no advantage. I trust that the present Session will not be allowed to pass over without the adoption of those measures which the pressing necessity of the case evidently requires. If the matter is postponed till next year, on the plea that the formal ratification of the treaty cannot reach England before the prorogation, the new powers which can only be given by Parliament, and which will be requisite to give effect to the concessions of the Chinese authorities, will not reach China till July, 1844, and a state of anarchy, of Lynch law, or of no law at all, will arise in our newly-planted factories, and continue there for no less than fifteen months. The result would probably be, if not absolutely a renewal of the war, at least collisions of the most deplorable nature. Another drawback to which I would advert, is the fact of the trade having little or no security for justice and fair dealing to appeal to, beyond that of prescription. Our merchants were only tolerated in China—admitted upon sufferance. This defect is now happily removed; and, upon all disputed questions, our merchants will, in future, be enabled to appeal to the articles of a public and solemn treaty, sanctioned by the highest authority in the state. The last drawback which I need mention is the degrading position in which our merchants and our trade have been sometimes placed by the insults of the people and the oppressions of the Mandarins. On this matter, I think there may exist some misconception. It is undoubtedly true that, in the official style of the Government, very arrogant language was often employed, and foreigners were frequently described as if they were really an inferior race. The trade was also sometimes certainly subjected to vexatious interruptions and obstructions. But it is generally admitted by most persons who have been engaged in the China trade, that it was carried on, upon the whole, with great practical facility. 1 can also say, for myself, that, as far as personal annoyance is in question, I have experienced a more vexatious interference with personal comforts from the police-officers and passport-officers of the Continent of Europe than I ever experienced from the officers and mandarins of the Emperor of China! There was, nevertheless, certainly room for improvement in the conduct of 416 the Chinese towards foreigners; and, as the treaty stipulates for the intercourse between the officers of the two nations being conducted upon honourable and equal terms, it may be hoped that some improvement will be experienced. But with respect to the insults which foreigners occasionally experienced from the populace, I apprehend the cure of this evil must chiefly depend upon our own conduct. We have long been unpopular at Canton, and that unpopularity has latlerly increased to a degree of animosity almost amounting to intense hatred; of which we have had a lamentable instance in the recent destruction of several of the British factories, and the plunder of large sums of treasure by the mob. This state of things, from whatever cause it may originate, is a great misfortune, and it is very consolatory, that our trade is now no longer confined to the spot where we have to encounter so much enmity, but extended to four other ports, where the most favourable disposition towards us has been exhibited, and which good disposition, if not forfeited by our own fault, I have no doubt will be preserved and increased. Our present great commercial advantages in China, which I have, perhaps, detailed at too much length, have been obtained by the vigorous employment of our united sea and land forces in the proper quarter, and with the advantage, I must say, of considerable good fortune; for a single untoward casualty, either on land, or in that unexplored navigation, might have marred the whole campaign. We were also fortunate, not only in what we accomplished, but in what we did not accomplish; we did not subvert the complicated and ancient fabric of the Chinese government; we did not spread anarchy and confusion over its fine provinces. We subdued the government to that extent only which was requisite to dispose it to make the necessary reparation for the injuries which we had received, and to grant to us those commercial concessions which, I doubt not, will prove as beneficial to them as to ourselves. It has been my fortune to have twice travelled through the interior of that great empire, and my official position gave me opportunities of communicating freely with the natives of all ranks. From all that I heard and saw, I cannot conceive any people with whom an extensive commercial connection is likely to prove more advantageous to this 417 country. They possess the sagacity to appreciate the practical advantages to be derived from our improvements and discoveries, and they are not tied down, or precluded from their adoption by any distinctions of caste, or religious prejudices. Every one who has read the recent valuable work of our late superintendent in China, Mr. Davis, a gentleman whose talents and experience give him great authority, will, I think, draw the same conclusions that I have done respecting the general character of the Chinese people. I would now appeal to the House, and to every individual Member who hears me, whether it is wise and politic to throw away, or at least put to the greatest hazard, all the various advantages which are apparently opening upon this country through our improved intercourse with China, for the sake of propping up a monopoly in the growth and export of opium, which is disgraceful in itself, discreditable to us as a nation, and which, whether we give it up at present or not, it is obvious cannot very long be retained in our hands! I have already said, that I feel confident that our friendly relations with China cannot long co-exist with a large smuggling trade in opium on the coast of China under the British flag. This fact appears to me fully established by a review of past events. When I addressed the House in 1840, on the occasion of the motion of the right bon. Baronet, the Member for Dorchester, I certainly maintained the abstract justice, as well as the practical expediency of the war with China, in which we were then about to engage. I contended, that no act of smuggling which might have been committed by ships or individuals on the coasts of China could justify, or even palliate, the acts of outrage and violence committed by the Chinese authorities upon the whole British community at the port, and that, therefore, it was absolutely necessary to maintain our honour and interests in China, by a demand of ample reparation, supported by an adequate force. But I never denied the fact, that if there had been no opium-smuggling, there would have been no war. Even if the opium traffic 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 suddenly quadrupled the supply, I believe it never would have excited that extraor- 418 dinary alarm in the Chinese authorities, which betrayed them into the adoption of a sort of coup d'état for its suppression. But it is said, that whatever may have been the former views of the Chinese government on the subject of the opium trade, they are now inclined to view the matter in a very different light. They are at length said to be aware that they cannot suppress it, and are therefore going to legalize it, on the single proviso, that it does not conduce to their main objection, the "oozing out of the sycee silver." I entirely deny all these propositions. In point of fact, it is well known, that the Chinese authorities could and did stop the traffic effectually for four months previous to the seizure of the opium; that there was not a single chest sold for the whole of that period. When it is recollected that this was done by the Chinese, without the aid of any discouragement of the traffic on our part, I cannot help being sanguine in expecting, that if the House were to support the resolutions of my noble Friend, and measures were taken conformably to these resolutions, it would be found quite practicable to put down the opium trade on the Chinese coasts altogether. As to the chance of the Emperor being prevailed on to legalize the trade, the only authority I find for this expectation is a letter from Sir Henry Pottinger to the British merchants, in which he says he has a "faint hope," only a faint hope, he admits, of obtaining such a concession, restricted however to cases of barter, and of course under a duty. It was no doubt very natural that Sir Henry Pottinger should desire to obtain such a concession, but can any man suppose that the legalizing of opium for barter, and under duties more or less heavy, would prevent smuggling? Even if I believed that such legalization had actually taken place, I should not be at all shaken in my confidence, either in the policy or the wisdom of my noble Friend's motion. But I believe the fact to be, that this traffic neither has been, or ever will be, legalized in China. In proof of this, I beg to read to the House a short extract from a letter I have received from Mr. Thorn, our acting Consul at Canton, dated in that city on the 24th of December last. Mr. Thom says,—The opium question is left in statu quo, and may yet cause trouble. In England we might set such a subject at rest by legalizing 419 the drug, seeing that better could not be done; but not so in China. If the Emperor, after having opposed the introduction of opium with all his strength, after having stigmatized it as a poison, and cut off the heads of great numbers of people for selling it, and even for smoking it, were now to turn round and make it a Government monopoly, and set himself up as the principal vendor and encourager of the evil, I do not think he would be a month longer on his throne. The Emperor may wink at its being smuggled, but I do not think he can ever legalize it: and while it thus continues to be a prohibited article, it puts our friendly relations in jeopardy every hour.This is the opinion of a gentleman who has been connected with one of the principal mercantile houses in China, who is well acquainted with the language and literature of the Chinese, and has recently been selected by Sir Henry Pottinger to fill a very important post. I think the House will agree with me that his opinion is no mean authority on the point in question. As to the "oozing out of the sycee silver," there can be no doubt that the sudden drain of four millions sterling upon the currency of China, did produce, as it would do in any other country, a great sensation, and occasioned great inconvenience, from the derangement in the prices of articles and the value of money; but it ought to be recollected that the introduction of opium had been declared contraband for more than forty years before the "oozing out of the silver" was thought of, and very severe measures had been occasionally enforced for its suppression. It is, therefore, I think, a great mistake to suppose that the preserving the silver is the main object, or that the Chinese have at all abandoned their original moral ground of the prohibition of the trade. This is stated very distinctly in the following extract from a remarkable letter, from one of the Chinese Ministers of State, to Sir Henry Pottinger, dated the 27th of July last, containing the first overtures for peace, and in language throughout studiously conciliatory, but yet retracting nothing of the original principle laid down as to opium:—We have been united, by a friendly commercial intercourse, for two hundred years. How, then, at this time, are our old relations so suddenly changed, so as to be the cause of a national quarrel? It arose, most assuredly, from the spreading opium poison. Opium is neither pulse nor grain, and yet multitudes of our Chinese subjects consume it, wasting their property and destroying their lives; and the 420 calamities arising therefrom are unutterable. How is it possible for us to refrain from forbidding our people to use it?In the state paper, from which the above is an extract, we have the sentiments of the Chinese authorities, down to the very period at which the treaty was under negotiation; and I think it must be at least conceded, that, under these circumstances, it will not be worthy of this country, nor consistent with our professions of a desire to preserve peace, if we sanction, directly or indirectly, the actual smuggling of opium into China. Our Consuls at the five ports, will therefore, no doubt, be instructed, as laid down in Beawes' Lex Mercatoria, (the best authority, I believe, on the duties of Consuls, according to the received principles of the law of nations,) "to take especial notice of all prohibitions and admonish all British subjects against carrying on an illicit commerce, to the detriment or the violation of the laws of his own country, or the country in which he resides." The select committee of the East India Company in China, exercising consular powers by Act of Parliament, always acted strictly on these principles in respect to the opium trade, while I had the honour of being in charge of their affairs. So confident were the Chinese authorities that the servants of the Company acted, in this respect, with perfect good faith, that no participation in, or sanction of, the trade was ever imputed to them, nor any injuries sustained through the traffic by the legitimate commerce of their employers. If we act upon these principles, as we unquestionably are bound to do in any country with which we have amicable relations, we must go a step further, or we shall act very inconsistently. We certainly cannot consistently allow the drug to be entered at our custom-houses at Bombay, Madras, or Calcutta, for shipment for the Five ports, neither can we allow it to be shipped from our ports for the island of Hong Kong. It may be said, indeed, that Hong Kong is a free port; still if we were to allow it to be made a mart for the reception and housing of opium, considering that the island is but one mile from the Chinese coast, how could we deny that we, in effect, gave the smuggling of opium our sanction. The evil consequences of such smuggling are fully admitted, even in the island of Hong Kong itself, for I see in the Hong Kong Gazette, of the 15th of December, it is remarked, that if the 421 opium trade is not legalized a rupture in a few months appears inevitable. That is to say, if the Emperor did not legalize the drag, and the smuggling system was nevertheless persisted in, war would be the result. What will then be the effect of your measures? If they are successful in put-tine down the smuggling of opium into Chirm, you have destroyed your opium revenue as effectually as if you had rooted out the poppy in India. Unless the opium can be sold in China, it can of course yield no revenue from its export to that country. If the smuggling is not put down, you will still have lost part of your revenue from opium, by throwing difficulties in the way of its disposal in China, and you will have lost (according to the writer in the Hong Kong Gazette) the whole of your China trade. The only sure and consistent course, therefore, I believe to be that which is recommended by my noble Friend in his motion, namely, to take steps simultaneously, both to check the trade and to check the cultivation, as far as is consistent with the rights of Governments and individuals. The objections chiefly relied on to this course, appear to be, that it would be unjust to our own subjects in India to refuse to allow them to cultivate the poppy; that beyond the limits of our dominions, it is not in our power to put down the cultivation; and lastly and principally, that we cannot afford to lose the revenue. The answer is, that, in the first place, it is well known it is only by means of the advances made to the ryots by the Company that the cultivation it carried on at all, end that no on undertakes it en his own unaided resources. If the Company desire to put it down, no unjust interference need take place; they have only to withhold the advances. The Company has not, of course, the same power of controul beyond its frontiers, but they will at least be able, in great degree, to prevent the passage of the opium through their own territories, from the place of its growth to the sea. If we cannot do every thing we should at least do all in our power. We could certainly be able materially to reduce the produce, even if entire suppression prove impossible. With regard to the difficulty and inconvenience of interfering with so large a portion of the Indian revenue, it must at once be admitted that is the strongest and most plausible argument against the motion. But even here we 422 have very high authorities in our favour—authorities who certainly cannot be suspected of bias against the Company. First, even if the loss were to be conceded to be as great as apprehended, the Directors have never professed, and I am sure would be far from wishing, to place the interests of the Company in contradistinction to those of the empire at large, or in opposition to considerations of a high moral nature. My noble Friend has already quoted the declaration of the Court of Directors as a body, that they would put down the consumption of opium altogether if they could (except as a medicine), in compassion to mankind. He has quoted also the dissent of Mr. St. George Tucker, a director of the highest authority for character and talents, who has held the high and responsible office of chairman of that body, that he did not consider any fiscal objects would justify the infliction of such an evil as the general diffusion of opium amongst the Chinese and Malays, by means of our monopoly. In addition to these authorities, I beg to quote that of Sir Charles Forbes, who was well known as a very high authority on all Indian affairs, when formerly a Member of this House. In the following answer to a question put to him in committee of the House of Commons, he expressed a decided opinion that the opium monopoly might be abolished, not only without loss, but with probable advantage.Do you conceive that it would be possible, in any other way than by monopoly, to raise, as was raised in 1829 and 1330, 1,931,000l. from salt, and 1,757,000l.. from opium?—I think it might be raised, in due time, to perhaps as large, if not a larger amount, through a much less objectionable medium, through the medium of increased and increasing revenues and customs, upon an increased and flourishing trade, carried on by an improved and improving population, having perfect confidence that they would in no way be interfered with by the company in their operations, either agricultural or commercial; and that, under such a system, if happily it shall be introduced, the prosperity of India would rise to a degree incalculable, and consequently in every way tend to the advantage as well as the credit of its rulers."—Parliamentary Papers on Opium, p.46I must beg here to remark, that the motion of the noble Lord pledges the House to no specific measures, it only indicates their tendency, namely, "that steps should be taken, as soon as possible, 423 with due regard to the rights of governments and individuals, to abolish the evil." This, in fact, goes but little beyond the terms of the declaration of the Court of Directors, on the 24th of October, 1817, that "were it possible to prevent the use of the drug altogether, (except strictly for the purpose of medicine,) they would gladly do it, in compassion to mankind," and that they would "endeavour to regulate and palliate an evil which cannot be eradicated." But if any Member objects to the terms of the motion, as too stringent and positive, I hope he will move an amendment embodying his views, and I shall be most happy to give my assistance in support of it, provided it carries out the principle. I am, indeed, most anxious that something should now be done towards discountenancing and putting down the traffic in opium, with a view to the security of our present friendly relations with China. I am anxious that this should be done before it be too late—before our relations with China are again interrupted. The time, I conceive, will soon arrive, when Government will feel itself compelled to declare the opium trade so mischievous, that it must, at any cost, be put down; but, looking to the great evil hazarded by delay, I trust that the Government will recollect the homely proverb that "prevention is better than cure." I have all along admitted the difficulties that surround this case. The downward course which we have too long followed of spreading the opium poison throughout the East has been comparatively easy. It is, no doubt, much less easy to retrace our steps—Facilis descensus averni;Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere adaurasHoc opus, hic labor est.Whatever the difficulties may be, I conceive it to be our duty to make the attempt to surmount them. I trust my noble Friend will not be discouraged by any want of success his motion may be destined to meet this night; and that he will remember that his illustrious predecessor, Mr. Wilberforce, when he first advocated the abolition of the slave-trade, met, in the outset, a still more determined opposition, and yet persevered, and lived to see (as I trust my noble Friend will do) the complete triumph of his principles. I beg to thank the House for the attention 424 it has afforded me, and to give my cordial support to the motion.
§ Lord Jocelyn
said he regretted that he felt it impossible to support the motion at present before the House; and the more so, because he was well aware that it originated from an anxious desire to disconnect this country from a trade generally considered disgraceful, and to put a stop to a traffic, the effects of which had proved most baneful and demoralizing to the people of China. Having paid the utmost attention to the speech of his noble Friend, and the arguments which he had adduced in favour of this motion, he must acknowledge that they had called to his recollection scenes which he had witnessed of the lawless character of the trade, and in all that his noble Friend had stated as to the moral, political, and physical evils he concurred. If he could bring himself to believe that an enactment framed upon this motion would check the evil,—if he could imagine that by legislation we could abolish a trade derogatory to the character of this country, because tending to the degradation of the human species, he would not hesitate to give it his support; but when, on the contrary, he believed it would have an entirely opposite tendency, he thought he should be acting worse than foolishly, because against the dictates of his own conscience, to support a motion which must necessarily engender measures pregnant with evils, unless he was satisfied that some counteracting good would ensue. The line which he took in opposing the motion was from no wish to encourage those engaged in the opium trade, nor to support the improper and illegal manner in which that trade was carried on; neither had he any desire to palliate the moral and physical evils which necessarily followed too great an indulgence in the use of the drug. All these evils he admitted and acknowledged. He had had personal evidence of the truth. He could state to the House the lawless manner in which armed vessels prowled around the coast of China, laden with their baneful cargoes, ready to defend themselves against the government whose laws they were there to infringe. He could bring forward instances of individuals who were pointed out to him as once intelligent and healthy, with their mental and physical faculties destroyed by the too great indulgence of a depraved appetite; but he would not trouble the House with these details. We had too many instances of the same kind 425 in this country; for the gin-drinker in this Christian land was equally as great an object as the opium smoker in China. In the object of the motion, he fully agreed with his noble Friend; it was in the remedy they differed. Acknowledging and deploring these evils, since he believed it to be wholly impossible to abolish them, he would not part with what he considered to be a check. Although no friend to monopolies in general, he would yet support the continuance of this. He opposed the abolition of the present monopoly of the growth of opium in British India upon two grounds; first, because he believed it would tend to increase production, and thereby increase the evils; and secondly, because he considered it must conduce to measures which would tend to encourage smuggling to a frightful, uncontrollable, and demoralizing extent. If these were merely his own opinions, they would be unworthy the attention of this House; but they were founded upon the evidence and statements of servants of the Indian government, whose knowledge of the character of the people, the localities of the country, and acquaintance with the details of government, made them worthy of credence. The monopoly of the growth of opium in British India, which the Government enjoyed, invested them with a power of limiting the production within the necessary demand. He acknowledged the correctness of the statement of his noble Friend, that the Indian government had within the last few years stimulated production to a great extent, but he denied that it had been for the purpose of creating new or fresh markets. It had been for the purpose of meeting the increased demands of the Chinese; they had stimulated cultivation, because they found a ready market for all that India could produce. Previous to the competition between the monopoly opium and that grown in the independent states, it had been the policy of the Indian government (viewing opium merely as a matter of revenue) to produce as large a revenue with as small a production as possible. The competition which had since taken place had obliged the government to increase the cultivation to enable them to compete with the native states; but he would ask his noble Friend, had the increased production diminished prices at Bengal? At certain periods he would allow that it had, when hostilities and a probability of a stoppage of all trade seemed likely to ensue, but only at such 426 periods of political excitement. Hitherto the price of opium had been maintained at such a height as to render it inaccessible as an article of general consumption amongst the native populations of India. It is not that their tastes differed from other eastern people, for it was well known, that whenever they had the means of obtaining it, it was their daily food, as in Guzerat and Rajpootana; it was, that their means were inadequate to become purchasers. The government knew and feared the evils of an abuse of opium within the British dominions, they therefore kept the price as high as possible; they had a selfish interest at stake, as well as a natural wish for the welfare of those whom they governed. But he feared this would not be the case if the cultivation was thrown open to speculation; there would be no paternal feelings of this nature to check production; a selfish feeling would exist, which would induce them to encourage new markets. Their great object would be successful competition and gain. He feared that this new demand would ere long be found in British India, and then the same evils, only to a greater extent, would arise, which they were now deploring in China. This he considered the strongest argument in favour of this monopoly, for he believed it to be no small advantage for the welfare of India, that the Government should have the power of checking the production, and keeping it from general consumption by the natives of Hindustan. In that opinion he was strengthened by the evidence of the servants of the East-India Company, and of persons of no small note in their employment, and who had practical knowledge of the working of the monoply. Mr. Fleming, a civil servant of the East-India Company, in a letter to the Government in 1832 on the revenue administration of India, amongst other reasons which he stated in favour of the monopoly, made use of the following expressions:—The monopoly being in some measure discouraging the internal consumption of a drug so pernicious as opium is surely a rational object of policy.Thomas Fortescue, another civil servant of the Government, in answer to the following query before the committee in 1842—namely, to submit observations on the system of levying revenue from opium, replied:—The monopoly of opium is in some re- 427 spects not objectionable, as restraining the excessive use of opium, to which all the people of the East are so much addicted.Another argument that had been brought forward by his noble Friend for the abolition of the monopoly was the dislike that the ryots employed in its production have to the cultivation. His noble Friend states, that although nominally not compelled to cultivate against their wishes, yet that was not really the case; and they were so in fact. But he could bring evidence equally good as that which his noble Friend produced to prove the contrary. Mr. Fleming, the gentleman whom he had before quoted, and who was employed in the management of the opium cultivation the last few years of his residence in India, stated—I have reason to believe that the cultivators are as well paid as any trade could afford; that is, if a tax was levied likely to produce a revenue equal to that now realized by the drug.He likewise stated, that the cultivators were at liberty to enter into engagements with the opium agent and his deputies. It followed, that the culture would rapidly decrease if it was not profitable. Mr. Langford Kennedy said, in speaking of the proposed change from a monopoly to an excise duty—The ryots would not approve of the change as far as oppression went. They would make more money by speculations under a change of system, but they would not be treated so well. It is impossible to legislate without taking into consideration the revenue of the country.He must likewise add, that if a traveller's eyes might be depended upon, the ryots in the poppy-growing districts in India were apparently more comfortable and in better circumstances than the generality of the cultivators of other produce that he had seen. It was impossible in legislating, however philanthropic the motives, entirely to forget the revenue of the country for which you were enacting laws, and he should put it to hon. Members to say, more particularly those whose attention had been turned to the late debates upon Indian subjects, whether the condition of the Indian finances was so flourishing as to justify an experiment with a revenue of upwards of a million per annum? He acknowledged, that his noble Friend had promised in other ways to make good the deficiency; but, as all men were liable to err in their calculations, and as this 428 was a deficiency which must be made up, should even these expectations fail, he would ask him whether he would propose, in such a case, for the sake of sympathy towards the people of China, to tax the already overburthened people of Hindostan to make good this deficiency? He thought that he could answer that such a proposal he would never for a moment admit of. Then the only method to make good this deficiency would be the imposition of an excise duty, such as was imposed upon hops and productions of the same kind in this country; but he doubted whether great difficulties would not arise; at least, such was the opinion of many persons who underwent examination before the committee at the renewal of the last charter. If the duty imposed should be too low to meet the deficiency, it would require increased production, and a fair calculation might be formed of the necessary increase, by comparing the quantity of the monopoly drug exported from Bengal, and the quantity of the Malwa opium, paying the transit or pass duty exported from Bombay; and he thought it would be found, although the quantities were nearly equal, the revenue derived from the (Patna and Behar) monopoly opium was nearly treble that which paid the duty from Bombay. If, on the other hand, a high duty was imposed, it must necessarily induce smuggling to a fearful and ungovernable extent. A severe lesson had already been taught the Indian government of the effects of too high a duty. Not many years ago, when they attempted to put down the production of opium in the native states, by placing a prohibitory duty upon it, it led to such scenes and to such demoralization that, at the earnest request of Sir C. Metcalfe, the system was changed to the present one. He would read to the House the opinion upon this subject of one of the ablest senators of the Indian government. Mr. Langford Kennedy stated, in answer to a question of what would happen if the Government thought fit to abandon the trade altogether in India, and to look to opium only as a source of revenue, collecting it as the British Government did Excise-duties:—A tax upon opium, in the shape of an Excise-duty, to be as productive as the revenue the Government at present derive, must necessarily be a very heavy one, and would afford, of course, great temptation to smuggling, and carrying opium clandestinely out of the country, which I conceive it would be im- 429 possible to prevent, the facilities are so great for the accomplishment of such a purpose.He adds in another place:—The great difficulty that occurs to me as standing in the way of levying a duty upon opium commensurate with the revenue at present derived, consists in the great inducements that so high a duty as must necessarily he imposed would afford to smuggling, added to the great facilities which the nature of the article, the localities of the country, and the dishonesty of our Excise officers, present to its successful accomplishment.Likewise, he added, in speaking of the guard that would be necessary to watch he crops if the trade were thrown open.—I apprehend, as I have already said, that the speculators, whoever they may be, would collude with the officers appointed by Government, and we could not by any pay which we could afford to give those officers, make them honest under the temptation that the speculators would hold out to them.The monopoly and the machinery with which that monopoly had invested the Government enabled them at various times to put down the production of the poppy, although they found it entirely impossible to put down smuggling. Doubtless the effects of a high duty would be to raise up bands of men hostile to law and all good government, and the coasts of India and their neighbourhood, where now an honest commerce was carried on, would be turned into harbours for smugglers and desperate characters, whilst, as in former times, the Portuguese and other settlements would be the depots for the prohibited article. A demand had been created in China which all our legislation could never control, and speculators both European and native would be found to invest their capitals at any risk in the cultivation when such great inducements were offered and such a promise of gain was held out. But his noble Friend had gone still further than the wording of his motion would imply—he had declared his anxious desire that the Government of India should place an entire prohibition on the growth of opium within its territories, and had declared it to be his opinion and the opinion of others, that they had the power to carry out such a prohibition, and his noble Friend, would, doubtless, bring as an example, Rungapoor, Baghaulpoor, ? but he would reiterate what he had before declared, that it was the monopoly which he wished to abolish, which gave them that power; and the officer who had been 430 employed to put down the production in Rungapoor stated, that with all the force that the Government had placed at his disposal it was put down with the greatest difficulty. He would recall to the recollection of his noble Friend the effect of the stringent act of 1736, which was intended not merely to repress the sin of gin-drinking, but to root it out altogether.The populace, (said M'Culloch), as in all similar cases, espoused the cause of the smugglers and unlicensed dealers; informers were hunted down like wild beasts, the officers of revenue were openly assaulted, and drunkenness, disorder, and crimes increased with fearful rapidity.In two years, (said Tindal), the act had become odious and contemptible, and it was found requisite to mitigate its penalties.He would put it to any Member of the House acquainted with India, its internal government, and the means and resources at present at its disposal, whether he believed that the Government had within them the power to put an entire stop to the cultivation within their own dominions? Let any hon. Member of the House take up a list of the servants of the East India Company, and let him calculate their resources, then let him examine the map of India inquire into the different races, their habits, prejudices, and characters, who inhabit that wide territory—let him make himself acquainted with its productions and different soils—let him remember the inducements that would be held out, and the openness of all Eastern people to bribery;—again, let him compare the means in the hands of the Government to carry out a measure to put a stop to any production of the soil, if opposed to the wishes of the people, and he felt assured that they would agree with him, that British India must bristle with bayonets, and her coasts be lined with revenue cruizers to effect that object. Believing, therefore, that an attempt to abolish the trade would be impracticable and impolitic, he would not relinquish what he considered to be a check. He would far rather that the government of India should be tainted by the manner in which their revenue was levied upon opium, since it invested them with a power and a control, than that the monopoly should be abolished, and the field for cultivation opened to speculators, who would have no object but gain—no limit but demand.
§ Captain Layard
said, that after the 431 eloquent and able speech made by the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, he bad no hesitation in giving that motion his support, believing, as he did, that whenever that noble Lord broke a lance, it was always in the bright cause of humanity; and that, if he did not command success, which he (Captain Layard) trusted he would in this case, at any rate he deserved it. He trusted the House would grant him its kind indulgence for a short time. It had been his fortune some years since to have visited China, actuated by no other motive but an anxious desire to learn and see as much as possible, and induced to do so by what he had read and heard of that wonderful and extraordinary people; and therefore the evidence he should bear to the fearful effects of the trade in opium would at any rate be impartial and unbiassed. In his voyage from Calcutta to Canton, the vessel was some days at Singapore, where he had an opportunity of visiting the smoking houses and a more deplorable sight to his mind could not be imagined- In them he saw men reduced by this fatal indulgence to be the very pictures of a hopeless decline; and there he saw the moping idiot; and there he saw men bereft of that best and richest gift of Providence—a sound and unclouded mind.Atque omni damno major dementia, quænecNomina servorum, nec vultum agnoscit amici.Were the Government and the country prepared to lend a hand in support of those who introduced the cause of such misery and degradation? He trusted not. He knew he should be told that the loss of revenue to the East India Company would be great—it had been said above 1,000,000l. But though he felt we might be ill able to bear that loss, yet the loss of character which must follow from continuing such a system would be far worse in his opinion. In a pamphlet written by Mr. Ritchie it was stated, that in 1836 a memorial was presented to the Emperor by Heu Mactoi, vice-president of the Sacrificial Court, in which he says, amongst other things, opium may prevent those who consume it largely from attaining to the length of days of other men. But what of that? This may do well for a political economist in the shape of a Chinese mandarin, but he trusted that it was an opinion that would never be upheld by men in a Chris- 432 tian country—that no man would advocate a cause which was proved, by the showing of its best advocates, to be destructive to human happiness and human life. He knew he should be told that it would be impossible to prevent opium being smuggled into China; but was that any reason that because you could not prevent it, you yourselves were to promote it? He believed it might be greatly lessened. To enable the cultivators of the poppy in Bengal to carry on their cultivation it was necessary every season to make them a liberal advance. Now, he believed if this advance was withheld, the cultivation of the poppy would soon become nearly extinct. It was stated by Mr. Langford Kennedy, in his evidence before the House in 1832, that the finest crops, the most abundant produce, might be, and continually were, destroyed by hail-storms in a very short space of time; and that the country that had been covered like a sheet with the white flowers of the poppy was devastated so completely, that it was difficult to say in what manner the ground had been cultivated, and thus by its uncertainty making it impossible to be carried on without the support of the company. Besides, the trade had called into existence a system of smuggling of which the people of this country had not the slightest idea. He had been an eye-witness to it when the opium ships used to lie in Whampoa-reach, and in which vessels immense quantities of opium were stowed; to remove which the smugglers were accustomed to come down in long-boats, pulling from twenty to thirty muffled oars, all fully armed and equipped; and though the mandarin boats constantly watched them, yet from the desperate character of the smuggling crews, they seldom captured them, the smugglers well knowing that death in its worst shape was far preferable to being taken and undergoing every species of torture, such as cutting off their hands and feet. He had seen many men crawling about the streets of Canton in that miserable and mutilated condition. Should we be inclined to allow such a system of smuggling to be carried on in the Thames—should we be inclined to allow the French or any other nation to countenance such a system, even though they did not do it openly Certainly not. We should at once declare war with that country, and China would be justified in declaring war with us. But you say, oh, 433 no. China is weak, and will not declare war with us. We are strong; is your strength a reason for doing wrong? Far from it. True it is you have the strong hand of power. But the strength of that hand is given from above, and you know not how soon that hand may be palsied if used in the cause of iniquity and guilt. In his opinion, the opium trade was a gambling and smuggling transaction from beginning to end, and would entail disgrace upon all those who in any way upheld it. More fortunes had been lost than made in its pursuit, which was proved by the fact that the personal of the trade has been continually changing, consisting at one time of Baboos, and afterwards of Portuguese and English houses. He looked upon the late peace with China as the one bright spot in our otherwise clouded commercial horizon, and which, by being taken proper advantage of, might relieve the difficulties under which the manufacturing class was suffering. But it was not only the manufacturer who would be benefited. He believed all classes would, though perhaps in not so large a degree. All naval men knew the advantage of using a chain cable, but that was not an invention of our own, it was taken from the Chinese. All agriculturists knew, and could bear witness, to the advantage of the drill-plough, though perhaps they were not all aware that it was a Chinese invention. Should not our trade be put upon a fair footing, there would, in his opinion, be no chance of maintaining peace, with China. Do not let hon. Gentlemen suppose, that should that peace be broken, the next war might be brought to so quick and happy a termination. Having examined, as far as he had an opportunity, into the military arrangements of the Chinese, when in that country, he had always felt convinced, that from their want of discipline, and the inefficiency of their arms, they would not be able to withstand regular troops for an instant—an opinion which he had the honour to state to the late lamented commander of the forces shortly before the news arrived of the taking of Canton. But to suppose, that the Chinese cannot be made good soldiers is a mistake. Remember, that however good a wrestler you may be, that if you continually wrestle with the same man, he may in the end give you the fall. To suppose that men, who, to escape, as they believed, from 434 bondage, cut their own throats (which many of the Tartars did), may not be persuaded, that as far as they are concerned, it would be a pleasanter operation to try to cut ours, seemed to him preposterous. When we consider the distance we are in that country from our resources, how liable our troops are to suffer from the vicissitudes of climate, it behoved the Government not to give any unnecessary cause of quarrel. When it was remembered, that at the highest calculation, there are only 2,000,000 of opium smokers, out of 360,000,000, he was astonished that this destructive vice could not be repressed. Had they not a glorious example in Ireland of what might be done by even a single individual, unbacked by any superior advantage, if influenced by that noblest of all motives, the good of his fellow-creatures? Was not there an instance of a nation giving up a degrading vice which seemed almost to have become a second nature, and, instead of having the finger of scorn pointed at them as examples of inebriety, being now held up as a pattern of sobriety and temperance? Now might be said of of them with truth, that which formerly was written in derision—For green is the Emerald Isle of the ocean,Whose daughters are fair as the foam of the wave,And whose sons, unaccustomed to rebel commotion,Though joyous are sober, though peaceful are brave.He believed it was the opinion of mercantile men, and at any rate the opinion of one who was, he believed, the very best authority in that House upon this subject—he alluded to the hon. Baronet, the Member for Portsmouth—that if the Government meant to carry out means with regard to trade, that might really benefit the country—if they wished, as undoubtedly they did wish, to drive a flourishing trade with China, they must discountenance the opium trade, and suffer those who broke the laws to be punished in the way that they deserved. He could not help again repeating, that it was his belief, that if we had any hand or participation in this miserable traffic, we could not maintain the peace; that there was now an opportunity, unshackled by the fetters of monopoly, to try the advantages of an unrestricted commerce. There might be difficulties, but they would be overcome—at 435 any rate, those difficulties ought not to deter them:—Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise;He who defers this work from day to day,Doth on a river's bank expectant stay,That the whole stream, which stopped him shall be gone,Which runs, and as it runs, for ever will run on.For his part, he believed that it would be found in political as in private life, and never more so than on the present occasion, that the adage was most true that tells us that "Honesty is always the best policy."
§ Mr. Hogg
greatly regretted that he felt it his duty to give his decided opposition to the motion of his noble Friend. He was well aware of the weight and influence that his noble Friend's advocacy of any measure connected with the great interests of morality and humanity, would have, and ought to have, both in that House, and throughout the country. He hoped he might not be misunderstood, he regretted as deeply as his noble Friend, the injurious and demoralising effects of the excessive use of opium, or any other stimulant. But that was not the question. The House must not be led away by having it supposed, that they were merely called upon to make an abstract declaration of their abhorence of intoxication, and its ruinous consequences. His noble Friend had proposed a remedy, and had stated his means—upon that ground he was prepared to meet him—he was prepared to shew, that the measures proposed were impracticable, and if practicable, that they would not only fail in accomplishing the object in view, but would aggravate the evils complained of. Perhaps, he might, without presumption, suppose that the House was not generally acquainted with the history of the opium cultivation in India; and with their permission he would give a brief sketch of it. The poppy had been cultivated in India for several centuries, more particularly in the provinces of Bengal, Behar, and Benares, and in Central India in the Malwa and Rajpootana States; and under the Mogul dynasty, a considerable revenue was derived from opium, which was farmed out to influential and opulent individuals. The subject, including the very questions now raised, attracted the attention of the Bengal government, in the year 1786, and was fully discussed, particularly by Lord Cornwallis, who gave it that enlightened consideration which he bestowed upon every matter that embraced the in- 436 terests of the Indian Government, and the welfare of the people over whose destinies he presided. After arguing the question with great ability, and reviewing in detail all the methods that had been suggested, he came to the conclusion, that the last mode of deriving a revenue from opium was, by the system of monopoly at first hand from the ryots or native cultivators; and in arriving at that conclusion, he states, that he was influenced by the consideration of what would be most beneficial to the ryots and the country. The system of monopoly has accordingly been pursued and with great success, and in 1799 the cultivation of the poppy was limited to the provinces of Behar and Benares, This limitation enabled the Government to superintend and control the cultivation, and rendered illicit culture almost impossible. The object of the Indian government was to realise the greatest possible revenue from the smallest possible quantity of opium, and in that object they fully succeeded; for the exports from Calcutta varied very little up to the year 1818, when a new state of things arose. The restoration of general peace in Europe led to the export of Turkey opium to China, while the tranquilizing of Central India, consequent upon the expulsion of the predatory Pindarree bands by Lord Hastings, caused extensive shipments of Malwa opium to China. The supercargoes at Canton called the attention of the government of India to the increased and increasing shipments of Malwa opium, which threatened greatly to reduce, if not to destroy the revenue derived from the monopoly in our own provinces. Under these circumstances, the Government, anxious to avoid the increased production that must result from competition, entered into treaties with as many of the independent states in Central India as would consent to the arrangement, whereby they endeavoured to obtain the control over the cultivation of the poppy in these states, by the payment to their respective rulers of stipulated sums. These opium treaties continued in force until the year 1830, when they were abandoned, from political and not from financial considerations, and the pass system which now exists, was then introduced. The Government no longer attempt to interfere in the culture of the poppy, but for a specified sum, they grant a pass which secures a free transit to a chest of opium from Malwa to Bombay; the price of the pass being fixed at a sum less than the duties likely to be levied by 437 the native states intervening between Malwa and the foreign ports of Dice and Demaun. He would now proceed to address himself to the speech of his noble Friend, whose argument as regarded India, he would endeavour to state correctly. The noble Lord contended that the monopoly ought at all events to he abandoned, as injurious to the ryots, and as unnecessarily identifying the Government with the traffic in opium. The noble Lord went further and contended that we had the power to prevent, and ought to prevent the cultivation of the poppy in our provinces. That by our influence with the chiefs in Central India, we might control, if not prevent the cultivation in these districts; and lastly, that if unable to prevent the cultivation of the poppy, we could prevent the export of opium from any of our own ports in India, while the possession of Kuratchee gave us the control over the Indus, and the Portuguese ports of Dice and Demaun. He believed he had stated correctly the argument of his noble Friend, and he would endeavour to answer it, and first as to the monopoly. He contended broadly that the existing monopoly ought not be disturbed, and that it afforded the only effectual means of controlling the cultivation, and preventing smuggling in our own provinces. The monopoly enabled the Government to limit the cultivation to two districts, Behar, and Benares, and to particular parts of these districts, so that the superintendance was complete. No man could cultivate a piece of ground the size of the table except under an engagement with Government, and all other opium must of necessity be contraband. What other system, he asked, could afford such effectual control? Would the noble Lord wish to introduce a system of excise, and to inflict on the country a host of subordinate revenue officers? If the free cultivation of the was permitted throughout British India, could any man estimate the numbers the expence of the establishment that must be maintained for the prevention of smuggling or what was of more moment, the extent of misery and oppression that would be inflicted on the people? To remove tibia very evil, the transit duties had been abolished—at least, they had been abolished entirely in Bengal and Bombay, and nearly so at Madras. The Government had disregarded all considerations of revenue, when put in competition with the evils and oppression occasioned 438 by the number of Custom-house officers it was necessary to retain. This was no new question. It had, as he had already stated, been fully considered in 1786 by Lord Cornwallis. From that time to the present the system of monopoly bad prevailed, and had worked well, at least in our own provinces; producing the largest revenue from the smallest amount of cultivation. The subject underwent the fullest investigation previous to the last renewal of the charter in 1833; all the objections now urged by the noble Lord had been then most fully considered, and all those most competent to afford information on the subject were then examined before the committees of both Houses of Parliament. He would not trouble the House by entering into any detail of the evidence, but he would beg permission to refer to the evidence of Mr. Mill, the historian. He states that the existing monopoly is the only system by which a large revenue could be raised, and smuggling prevented, and that it was not attended with any injury or hardship to any class of persons. When asked as to the condition of the ryots who cultivate the poppy, he states that he believed their condition to be better than that of other cultivators of the soil, and that it was perfectly optional with them to grow opium or not. He (Mr. Hogg) was astonished at the statements made by the noble Lord with respect to the ryots who cultivated the poppy, and knew not from whence he derived his information. The evidence of Mr. Mill, and of every witness who had been examined, proved that the cultivation of the poppy was optional, and that the condition of the ryots engaged in it was superior to that of the other cultivators of the soil, and he begged to assure the noble Lord that be had been grossly misled by those who professed to inform him on the subject. But to return to the proceedings to which he had alluded. The select committee of the House of Commons in 1832, composed of forty-eight members, reported as follows:—In the present state of the revenue of India, it does not appear advisable to abandon so important a source of revenue, a duty on opium being a tax which fails principally upon the foreign consumer, and which appears upon the whole, less liable to objection than any other which could be substituted.He need scarcely say that if the monopoly was abolished, the quantity of opium produced would be immeasurably increased, as the cultivation would then fall into 439 the hands of private speculators who would compete with each other. Witness the results in Malwa—while the Government had a kind of monopoly by means of the treaties, the average production was 2,600 chests; but when the treaties were abrogated, and the pass system adopted, the average production was 10,300 chests. He next came to the statement of the noble Lord, that by means of an influence with the native chiefs, we could control, if not suppress, the cultivation of the poppy in Central India. He contended that it was not in our power to control, and that we ought not to attempt to interfere with the cultivation of the poppy in the independent states of Malwa and Rajpootana. This did not rest upon assertion, nor was it any matter of speculation; the attempt had been made, and had utterly failed. It had been made too, under circumstances that compelled the Government to put forth their whole strength, and to use every legitimate effort to accomplish their object. He had already explained, that in the year 1820, the revenue derived from the opium monopoly in our own provinces was in danger from the great export of Malwa opium to China. The Indian government, anxious to avert such a loss, used all their influence with the native chiefs in Central India to induce them to enter into treaties, whereby they granted to the Indian government for a stipulated consideration, the control over the opium grown in their respective territories. They succeeded in inducing most of the chiefs to enter, though reluctantly, into these engagements. Several however refused, and among the number, Scinde and the states of Jyepore, Joudpore, and Kishengurh. What was the result? Universal discontent among both the chiefs and the people, the most extensive and daring smuggling, and general disorganization throughout the countries. Anxious to secure the control over the growth of the poppy in those regions, the Indian government persevered for several years in maintaining these treaties, till at length the discontent and disorder became so great, that they saw the necessity of abandoning them. Determined, however, to proceed with every caution, they first addressed circulars to all the political agents resident at those courts, requiring their opinions. Upon the receipt of the replies to these circulars. Government came to a resolution which, with the permission of the House he would read. 440The Governor-General in Council having taken deliberately into consideration the several despatches received in reply to the circular instructions dated 21st of March 1828, and subsequent correspondence proceeds to record the following observations and resolutions on the subject of our Malwa opium arrangements. The general tenor of the evidence now before the Government leads irresistibly to the inference that evils of a very serious nature are inflicted by our monopoly system in Central India, on all who fall within the sphere of its operation. It had been found altogether impracticable to enforce that part of the original scheme which contemplated a positive reduction of the poppy cultivation, and we have already therefore determined to abstain from any direct interference with the production of the article, and have instructed the local authorities accordingly. Nearly all our agents concur in representing that our measures for controlling the transit and exportation of Malwa opium are oppressive and vexatious to the people, unpalatable and offensive to their rulers, whilst we have abundant proof of their imperfect efficacy, in the continually increasing prevalence of smuggling, and in the yearly augmentation of the export of the drug from Dice and Demaun to the China market. The intervention of Scindia's scattered and extensive possessions, which it has been found impossible to include in the general arrangement, would alone defeat our hopes of preventing the escape of contraband opium in considerable quantities from Central India And further the temptations to smuggling are so powerful, the pursuit of the illicit traffic is so congenial to the tastes and habits of the wild tribes and dissolute adventurers who abound in Malwa, and the public sentiment is necessarily so hostile to our monopoly, that it may reasonably be doubted whether the native states, however well disposed to cooperate, and anxious to fulfil their engagements are strong enough to carry the system into complete effect, either with or without the constant and minute interference of our local agents. In the meantime there is reason to fear that the repeated and desperate efforts made to pass the opium beyond the limits of our restrictions by large armed bands of smugglers, and their open systematic defiance of the local authorities, whilst engaged in the enterprise, are operating to demoralize and disorganize the country, and to revive the ferocious and turbulent habits of the Meewahs and other uncivilized tribes, in a degree which demands the most serious consideration.These treaties were abandoned then from political, and not from financial considerations, and after such experience, he was surprised to hear it contended that we had either the right or the power to control the growth of opium in Central India. Upon coming to the resolutions which he had read, the Government determined to 441 abstain from all interference with the Malwa opium trade, and adopted the pass system which he (Mr. Hogg) had before explained, and which had since prevailed. But his noble Friend had said, that if the Indian Government could not suppress the growth of opium in Central India they could at all events prevent its export, and he had suggested the means of doing so. He begged to tell his noble Friend that, if on this and other points he had applied his own mind to the inquiry, instead of trusting to the statements of others, he would have been more correctly informed. How he asked could the Indian government prevent the opium grown in Central India from reaching the foreign ports of Dice and Demaun? It could be conveyed to Cambay, Baroda, Broach, or any other ports in the gulf of Cambay, and thence to Dice or Demaun, without passing through any part of our territories; or it could be conveyed through Scinde to the bank of the Indus, and thence to Kuratchee by the Indus or by land. The noble Lord had said that we had possession of Kurachee, and could thus control the export by the Indus. But the Indus had more mouths than one. Besides Kuratchee, there were the ports of Vickhue, Darajee, and Garrah, from any of which opium might be shipped. If we had now the complete control over the Indus and Scinde, still the opium of Central India could be exported despite of our interference. Upon the coast of Beloochistan there was the port of Sonmeeanee a place of considerable traffic, and opium might be conveyed there without passing through Scinde. By keeping to the north of Scinde, it might be conveyed to Mittun Kote, where the rivers of the Punjaub join the Indus, and thence through Beloochistan to the port of Sonmeeanee. Suppose for a moment that the cultivation of the poppy could be effectually suppressed throughout the whole of India, would they he would ask, be one step nearer the object his noble Friend had in view? Was India the only country where opium could be grown? He could give a catalogue of countries where opium had been grown, and from which it would be shipped in abundance if we were to fling away a revenue of 1,200,000l. There was Turkey, Java, Persia, the Philippine Islands, Egypt, and he believed South America. Opium had also been grown in the Punjaub, where from the nature of the soil and the climate it could be produced to any extent, and there was every facility for con- 442 veying it by land into China. There still remained China itself, where opium, though of an inferior quality was grown to a great extent and always had been grown. It was stated by Choo Lien in his memorial that opium was grown in six provinces, and in one of them, Yunnan, to the extent of several thousand chests. He (Mr. Hogg) had in his possession a report from a public officer, showing that opium was imported into Ava from China. His noble Friend had narrated a recent occurrence for the purpose of showing that the Americans were highly favoured and esteemed by the Chinese, because they had abstained from smuggling in opium. He was at a loss to conjecture from whence his noble Friend could derive such information. What, the Americans not deal in opium? Why, who supplied the Turkey opium to China? The Americans had the whole of that trade, and he believed that they also purchased opium at the Company's sales. What said Mr. Jardine, who was examined before a committee, of which he (Mr. Hogg) was a member? He was asked if he could name any individual who had never dealt in opium, and he replied, that he believed Mr. King, an American merchant, had never dealt in the drug. He said that Mr. King objected to the trade as demoralising, and that he also considered it immoral to smuggle; but Mr. Jardine added, that though Mr. King did not smuggle opium, he smuggled every thing else. His noble Friend had portrayed in most frightful colours the effects of the use of opium, and in dealing with this part of the subject, he (Mr. Hogg) hoped he might not be misunderstood. He admitted that the excessive use of opium was injurious to health, and demoralising, but he must say that the picture presented by his noble Friend was very highly coloured, and his statements much exaggerated. He believed from all he had heard and read, that the use of opium was less fatal to health, and less injurious to morality than dram-drinking; and that dram-drinking prevailed more extensively in England than opium smoking did in China. He had seen it stated in a report on the Canton Medical Missionary Dispensary, that out of 4,576 cases, only fifteen arose from opium smoking. He would also beg permission to read an extract from the work of Dr. Mc Pherson, who had been in China with our troops,—From the earliest periods in every nation, and among every people, we find some de- 443 scription of stimulus in common use among them; and were we to be led away by the popular opinion that the habitual use of opium injures the health and shortens life, we should expect to find the Chinese a shrivelled, and emaciated, and idiotic race. On the contrary, although the habit of opium smoking is universal amongst the rich and poor, we find them to be a powerful, muscular, and athletic people, and the lower orders more intelligent, and far superior in mental acquirements to those of corresponding rank in our own country," It may also be mentioned, that, at the time fevers prevailed so extensively among our troops at Hong-Kong, but comparatively few of the Chinese suffered, though exposed throughout to the same exciting causes.His noble Friend had dwelt upon the general and excessive use of opium throughout the states of Rajpootana, and upon the melancholy consequences it induced; and he had read extracts from the work of Colonel Todd in support of his statement. Now he (Mr. Hogg) was quite willing to take the example selected by the noble Lord, and to refer to the same authority, for a higher than Colonel Todd could not be adduced. It was quite true that the Rajpoots had for several centuries indulged in the excessive use of opium which they gave to their children in their infancy. If the statements of the noble Lord were correct, we should expect to find them a miserable, weak, emaciated, enfeebled and demoralised race. But what was the fact? They were beyond all question the finest people in India—physically, the most powerful, athletic and muscular; and morally, the most generous, the most high-minded, and with the highest sense of honor. He hoped the House, Would allow him to read a few extracts from Colonel Tod, whose admiration of the character of the Rajpoots rendered his description almost poetical. He says—High courage, patriotism, loyalty, honour, hospitality and simplicity, are qualities which must at once be conceded to them; and if we cannot vindicate them from the charges to which human nature in every clime is obnoxious;' if we are compelled to admit the deterioration of moral dignity, from the continual inroads of, and their consequent collision with, rapacious conquerors, we must yet admire the quantum of virtue which even oppression and bad example have failed to banish. Reduced in power, circumscribed in territory, compelled to yield much of their splendour and many of their dignities of birth, they have not abandoned an iota of the pride and high bearing arising from a knowledge of their illustrious and regal descent. The poorest Rajpoot of this day retains all the pride of ancestry, often 444 his sole inheritance; he scorns to hold the plough, or to use his lance save on horse back.
§ Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone
, the first living authority as to anything relating to India, while he laments the excessive use of opium throughout Rajpootana, thus speaks of the people.The sort of feudal system that prevailed among the Rajpoots, gave additional stability to this attachment, and altogether produced the pride of birth, the high spirit and the romantic notions, so striking in the military class of that period. Their enthusiasm was kept up by the songs of their bards, and inflamed by frequent contests for glory or for love. They treated women with a respect unusual in the East; and were guided, even towards their enemies, by rules of honour, which it was disgraceful to violate. But, although they had so many of the characteristics of chivalry, they had not the high strained sentiments and artificial refinements of our knights, and were more in the spirit of Homer's heroes, than those of Spencer's or Ariosto's. If to these qualities we add a very strong disposition to indolence (which may have existed formerly, though not likely to figure in history,) and make allowance for the effects of a long period of depression, we have the character of the Rajpoots of the present day.He thought the extracts he had read were sufficient to satisfy the House that the statements of the noble Lord were much exaggerated, and that the use of opium might be indulged in, even to excess, without inducing the melancholy consequences depicted by him. The Chinese themselves were also a brave, hardy, muscular race, with energy and enterprise equal to any nations or Europe. The Malays and Javanese who also used opium were hardy, strong, and muscular. He lamented as much as his noble Friend could do, the excessive use of Opium or any other stimulant, and the evil consequences that must result from such indulgence; but he was anxious to place the matter in its true light, and to remove the erroneous impressions which the statements of the noble Lord were calculated to produce. The noble Lord had read a very strong report made by Mr. Bruce, with reference to the districts in Assam, where the tea plantations Were: but the effects attributed to the use of opium by Mr. Bruce, Were really produced by the dreadful climate of that country. In corroboration of what he stated, he would appeal to his hon. Friend opposite, the Member for Guildford, who was well ac- 445 quainted with the deadly character of the climate, and with the difficulty which the Assam Tea Company had in consequence experienced, in procuring labour for their plantations. The Hill Coolies who were ready to encounter a sea voyage, and to proceed to the Mauritius, could not be induced to work in tea plantations in Assam. Before leaving this part of the subject, he would ask permission to refer again to the evidence of Mr. Jardine, who had for many years been at the head of the first commercial establishment in China. He says that he considers dram-drinking more injurious, both to health and morality, than opium smoking. He says, that the comprador or cashkeeper of his firm, had smoked opium for thirty or forty years, and that no bad effects had resulted from it. He adds, that he was one of the cleverest fellows he had ever met with, and that in thirty years he had never known him to make a mistake. [Here some hon. Members laughed.] Hon. Members seemed amused at this statement, but he used the very words of Mr. Jardine, and he would appeal to the hon. Member for Montrose, as to the almost incredible correctness of the native cashkeepers in the East. But to proceed with the evidence of Mr. Jardine. He says, that he had known many opium smokers die at the age of seventy or eighty, with their faculties in full vigour. He says, that many take opium steadily as we take wine, and that taking opium had no more tendency to excess than spirits. He adds, that during his long residence in China, he had not known more than six or eight persons injured by smoking opium. He had not been able to follow very distinctly the statistics of the noble Lord, but he could show the fallacy of one statement that had been prominently dwelt upon by him. The noble Lord referred to the remarkable falling-off, in a particular year, in the exports of British manufactures to China, and added that it resulted from the increased export of opium. Now the noble Lord Would find, that In that same year, there was a corresponding increase in the export of British manufactures to India, which was thus to be explained. China being then in an unsettled State, the exports were not shipped directly to that country, but were sent to Bombay, and from thence to China. It thus necessarily followed, that the increase in the exports to India was met by a corresponding decrease in those to China. He had hitherto 446 endeavoured to address himself to the arguments used by his noble Friend with reference to India, and he now came to China, and with the permission of the House, he would state very shortly, the history of our trade with that remarkable country, more particularly with reference to our trade in opium. The Portuguese commenced their traffic with China in the year 1516; first at Ningpo, and afterwards at Macao, where they were established in the year 1537. In the year 1637 the East India Company attempted to establish a trade with China, but failed. In the year 1683 they made another and more successful effort, and from that period, subject to occasional interruptions, we have had an unlimited traffic with that country. The importation of opium into China was formerly permitted at a fixed duty: but in the year 1796 it was prohibited by an edict issued by the late emperor Keaking. This edict was never practically enforced, and opium continued to be imported, paying fees to the Canton authorities, instead of duties to the Government. The mode of proceeding was this: the opium was not brought to Canton, but remained on board the vessel at Whampao. After a sale was made, an order for the delivery of the quantity sold was given to the Chinese purchaser, who proceeded to the ship, and received and removed it at his own risk. The late emperor died in the year 1821, and was succeeded by the present emperor; and upon his accession, severe measures were adopted by the then viceroy of Canton, who compelled the ships to move from Whampao and proceed to Lintin, where they have since remained. These measures led to no result beyond the removal of the ships, and the trade in opium continued as before. For a few years, the Chinese admiral annually visited Lintin, and went through the form of ordering away the ships, but even this ceremony was soon discontinued. His noble Friend, when treating of our past trade with China, and of our future prospects, had entirety lost sight of the peculiar nature of our relations with that country. He had even compared our trade with China with that carried on with countries with which we had commercial treaties, and friendly political relations. Now he must deny that there could be any analogy between the cases. He would state broadly that we never had any trade with the Chinese as a nation—our traffic was barely tolerated, and was limited to a 447 few merchants denominated "the Hong," and was not carried on with the Chinese. It was not of a national, but of a corporate character. Again, he did not think it could be said, that the British merchants were cognizant of the Chinese laws, or owed them obedience. They could not appeal to them for redress, and derived no protection from them—our relations with China, as regarded trade, depended on the whim of the Hong; and as regarded law, on the will of the Viceroy. Here, then, he would ask, could his noble Friend attempt to compare our trade with China, with that carried on with European nations with whom we had political and commercial treaties. He (Mr. Hogg) did not believe that our differences with the Chinese originated in the increased importation of opium. He believed that feelings of alarm and suspicion were first excited in the minds of the Chinese, by the changes consequent upon the opening of the trade in 1834. Unused to change themselves, they could not understand or tolerate it in others. They saw the withdrawal of the Company's super-cargoes, the only authority they had ever recognised, and they had a vague, undefined feeling of apprehension as to our future intentions. Then came Lord Napier, who made demands and asserted privileges that had never before been claimed by foreigners. He thought that the British merchants in China had been dealt with rather harshly by public opinion in this country. He thought it most unfair and most unfounded to brand them as smugglers, and to attribute the recent rupture with China intirely to their trading in opium. He (Mr. Hogg) did not mean to justify the opium trade; but he wished that the House should be apprised of the real nature and character of the traffic. The viceroy of Canton, the Mandarins and other public-authorities not only sanctioned the trade in opium, but they themselves took an active part in the traffic. The Chinese cruizers employed in the preventive service and the custom-house officers, all received, not occasional bribes, but regular stated fees, and often granted passes for the protection of the drug. In fact, the trade in opium was like any other trade in China, save that the duties levied went to the authorities at Canton, and not to the State. The authority of Captain Elliot had been referred to by the noble Lord, but what said Captain Elliot on this subject? He said, that it was a misapplication of terms 448 to call the opium trade smuggling, when it was not only sanctioned, but encouraged by the local authorities. The names of the ships, the price of the opium, the deliveries, and the stock were published as regularly in the Canton Gazettee, as was similar information in the commercial lists in this country. If now and then edicts were issued for the suppression of the opium trade, the local authorities took special care to nullify them by adopting measures for the encouragement of the traffic. In 1837, some measures seemed to be adopted in good earnest for the suppression of the trade, and thirty or forty of the boats engaged in bringing the opium from the ships were publicly destroyed. With this interruption of the trade, ceased the income derived by the Viceroy from that source, and what did the House suppose the Viceroy did? Why, he started four boats of his own, not small boats like those destroyed, but thumping large boats, holding 100 chests each, and in which he brought the opium from the ships to Canton, with his flag flying at the mast. Call this smuggling, or by any name they liked, but it was a trade openly sanctioned and encouraged by the only public authorities known to the foreign merchants. The real ground of the alarm entertained by the Chinese, and the real cause of the measures they adopted, was not the importation of opium, but the export of silver occasioned by it. Up to the year 1828, silver had always been imported into China. From that period the exportation commenced, and amounted according to the Chinese authorities to 50,000,000 or 60,000,000 of dollars in fifteen years; one of the Chinese privy councillors stated, that it would require the produce of the mines of China for 1,000 years to replace the silver that had left the country. And let it be borne in mind, that the Chinese think that national wealth consists in the precious metals. Yet his noble Friend had said, stop the opium trade, and you will receive for British manufactures the silver now paid for the drug. He (Mr. Hogg) hoped that the manufacturers would not be deluded by any such vain hope. He saw opposite him an hon. Member (Mr. Mattheson) who could tell the manufacturers that they would be grievously disappointed if they expected to receive Sycee silver in exchange for their goods. If the ships at Lintin, instead of being laden with opium, had teen freighted with the woollen and cotton 449 manufactures of this country, the outcry would have been the same: moral grounds would no longer have been urged; but it would have been said, you are impoverishing China, by ruining her native manufactures and injuring her native industry. There were some very remarkable documents which tended to throw much light on the subject before the House, but he had already trespassed so long on their kind attention, that he would not venture to refer to them at any length. He alluded to the memorial of Hew-Naetse recommending the legalising of the opium trade, and the minutes of the different councillors of state to whom the subject had been referred by the emperor. These papers are written with great ability, and the question is argued almost exclusively in political and financial, and not upon moral grounds. Some recommend legalising the trade; some, increased measures of severity, and some an effectual blockade of the coast; but all agree in this, that the great national calamity to be averted and guarded against is the drainage of silver from the country. Even the councillors, who recommend the legalizing of the trade, expressly stipulate that the opium must be paid for in goods, and that no silver shall be permitted to leave the country under any pretence. While the exportation of opium was legal, the trade was moderate and under control, after it was declared contraband, it flourished and defied all restraint. Such had ever been the case when the Government of any country had attempted to prohibit the importation of any article which the people were determined to have. It was the vain attempt to accomplish what all experience had proved to be impracticable, that had occasioned all the evils attendant upon smuggling, which had been so powerfully described by the noble Lord, and the existence of which he was ready to admit and lament. He contended, that the best, nay the only mode of putting an end to these evils, was to legalize the trade. He most anxiously hoped, that our envoy would not enter into any arrangement, binding this country to put down smuggling on the coast of China, and he had such confidence in the ability and discretion of Sir Henry Pottinger, that he felt assured he would enter into no such engagement. It would be utterly impossible for this country by any effort to fulfil such an engagement even with regard to her own subjects, and every infraction of it would afford a fresh 450 ground for dispute. Talk of putting down smuggling on the coast of China, why, what had we been able to do on our own coasts? When we, with the enormous expenditure devoted to that object had not been able to prevent the smuggling into our own ports of brandy and tobacco; were we to attempt to prevent the smuggling of opium into China with a coast of 1700 or 1800 miles, abounding in harbours and cities, and studded with islands, thus affording every facility for smuggling? The attempt would only aggravate the evil, and drive the trade into the hands of the most daring and lawless. After the Chinese authorities had fostered and encouraged the trade in opium for half a century, it was too much to contend, that they had a right to call upon us, now to act as a preventive service to put it down. He was most anxious that the trade in opium should be put under efficient control, and repeated his conviction that the only mode of doing so, was to legalize it. In the observations he had addressed to the House, he had endeavoured to show that the existing monopoly was the best mode of growing opium, with reference both to the revenue derived from it, and the interests of the people of India; and that the changes suggested by his noble Friend would only tend to aggravate existing evils. He had stated his reasons for believing that the noxious qualities of the ding had been greatly exaggerated. He had endeavoured to explain the real character of the trade, and the true cause of the measures recently resorted to by the Chinese. And he had pointed out the danger and impracticability of any attempt to put down smuggling by any other means than by legalizing the trade, and would feel it his duty to oppose the motion of his noble Friend.
§ Sir T. E. Colebrooke
hoped that, from his having been some time resident in India, the House would indulge him with a patient hearing. First, with respect to the statements of the noble Lord, he must say his own impression, derived from his acquaintance with India, was, that those statements were rather overcharged. Having been a good deal about in India he was never in a district in which the vice of indulgence in this drug had been carried to any extent, or to an extent anything resembling that which the noble Lord described as prevailing in Assam. It so happened that when in India he had 451 never had an opportunity of seeing any one under the influence of opium. Of course, he saw frequent examples of other kinds of drunkenness, but never of this. In the district in which he resided opium was grown to a very considerable extent, and he only mentioned the fact of his never having seen a case of the kind to show that although the vice might be dangerous and insidious, yet the article might be consumed with moderation. In what he was about to say he wished to set aside the question of monopoly altogether. He was in general favourable to the suppression of the monopoly, though not to any wild scheme for the suppression of the trade; but he would put that question quite out of his consideration at present. A considerable part of the noble Lord's remarks were directed to the many evils which arose out of the cultivation of opium, but those evils were susceptible of remedy. The abuses which the noble Lord described he had no doubt did occasionally arise, but having been engaged in superintending the advance of money to the cultivators, he should say that the existence of these abuses was by no means the rule. As to the effects which the noble Lord stated the trade to have on the manufacturing industry of this country, he concluded, from an observation the noble Lord made in the course of the speech of the hon. Secretary to the Board of Control, that the noble Lord was rather inclined to abandon that part of his argument, and that he gave up the position that it was injurious to the manufacturing interests here, and he understood the noble Lord now to rest his motion entirely on moral grounds. At any rate, it was a misapprehension on the part of the noble Lord, that if the importation of opium into China were forbidden, our manufactures would immediately pour into that country instead; but, however this fact might be, he contended that they had no right to mix up that question with the question of the trade in opium; for that was not a fair way of dealing with the question. If the noble Lord brought forward the question on moral grounds, then alone moral considerations ought to be sufficient to decide it; if not, they had no right to interfere with the cultivation in India in order to benefit the British merchants. That argument was just the converse of that which hon. Members opposite were accustomed to urge, against 452 the repeal of the Corn-laws. Next, with respect to the question of international authority many hon. Members had relied on the argument that because the trade was forbidden by the Chinese government we were bound to suppress the trade. He could not agree with that; he was not aware that we were at all bound to suppress the trade because it was forbidden by the Chinese government, any more than the French government was bound some time ago to suppress the manufacture of silks when French silks were forbidden to be imported into England, and the whole channel swarmed with smugglers. But the question must be decided entirely on moral grounds; it was one on which there could be no compromise; we must either suppress the trade entirely, getting the whole world to join us in doing so, or the trade must be legalised. On this point, too, the noble Lord seemed to him to falter. Then, with regard to the power of this country to suppress the cultivation in India, he agreed with the hon. Member for Beverley (Mr. Hogg), and he was glad to find his own opinion confirmed by the opinion of others. At one time he had thought that the cultivation might be suppressed, but when he came to consider how the object was to be effected he was staggered; for the extent of the country and the knavery of the native population presented obstacles which it would in his opinion, be most difficult, if not impossible, to surmount. It would be exceedingly difficult, amongst a population scattered over so large a district, and whose communications with each other were so restricted. Under such circumstances any restrictive law would be difficult of enforcement as even in this country, where the law was held in respect, the inducement was in too many instances more than a match for the law. Such a course might be adopted with active and intelligent agents; but where, instead of being active and intelligent, the agents would be found dull, the cultivation by the natives would go on, in spite of all law, even though it were put down in some districts. The consequence would be, that a sort of smuggling warfare would ensue, more injurious and demoralizing in its results than any effects which could be produced by an open trade, Though he did not underrate the difficulties connected with the question in a commercial point of view, he would not then enter into 453 that part of the question; but, discussing it on moral grounds, there was more to be feared as regarded India than as regarded China. Nothing would throw more difficulties in the way of our future prosperity than encouraging a belief that the trade in opium was about to be suppressed. The notion that the trade was about to be suppressed should be discouraged in every possible way and he feared the expectations likely to be created by the speech of the noble Lord (Lord Ashley) would tend to increase the difficulties. One part of the speech of the right hon. Member was important to be considered, namely, the favourable disposition of the Chinese to allow us to judge in their dominions over our own subjects; and he (Sir E. Colebrooke) mentioned it to show that he was not insensible to existing evils. If the Chinese continued to impose the penalties, and we were at the same time to enforce our own laws, how were we to act as respected the enforcement of the Chinese edicts?
§ Mr. Lindsay
did not rise to defend the opium trade, but rather to confirm the statements made by the hon. Member for Beverley. If the House believed that the trade was attended by evils equal to those described by the noble Lord who opened the debate, it would be the duty of this country to put it down at all risks; but he believed that the alleged evils were greatly exaggerated. He would read a letter, which was well worthy of the attention of the House, having been written by a gentleman who had the fullest opportunity of ascertaining what were the moral add physical effects of the use of opium on the people of China. That gentleman had been for seventeen years a surgeon in the service of the East India Company in China; he was now president of the Medical Mission Society in China, and during Six of the years that he had been in the Company's service, upwards of 4,000 patients had been relieved by his skill. The letter of Dr. Colledge ran as follows:—Cheltenham, March 28, 1843.Dear Sir,—From your long residence in China, I presume you are already aware that opium is not used by the Chinese in any other way than in their own peculiar manner of smoking it. It is never taken in the solid or fluid state, either as an article of luxury or medicine; and it is most important to bear this in mind, in any discussion you may be engaged in regarding its baneful effect on the human frame. So much has been said and written on the effect of opium on the animal economy, 454 that any opinion I can offer regarding its action will not, I fear, add much to what is already known on the subject. My firm belief is, that all intoxicating, stimulating, and narcotic matters, whether taken in the solid, fluid, or gaseous form, to excess, by persons in health, affect more or less injuriously the constitution; but I do not conceive, so for as my experience goes, that the particular article opium (especially in the state of smoke) is so rapidly destructive either of the intellectual or corporeal energies as dram drinking; and not one of us, assuredly, who has lived in China for years, has ever witnessed, either within or without doors, the disgusting and brutal scenes which are everywhere thrust upon our view in countries where the inhabitants indulge uncontrolled in the use of ardent spirits. Those of our countrymen who have been in the habit of conversing with Chinese, who have long smoked opium habitually, but in moderation, must have been satisfied that their intellect seemed to be rather brightened than obscured while under its influence; whereas the intellect of the habitual dram-drinker or 'heavy-wet' drinker is either deranged to a degree bordering on madness, or lulled into a state of almost dead insensibility. M'Nish, in his essay on drunkenness, remarks,—'Of two evils, we should always choose the least; and it is certain that, however perniciously opium may act on the system, its moral effects, and its power of injuring reputation, are decidedly less formidable than those of the ordinary intoxicating agents.' He here means opium in the solid or liquid form, and I conceive that, in a state of smoke, it is still less injurious. Opium used in the state of smoke appears to act specifically on the nervous system, and so long as the individual using it in this way has the means of supplying himself with the stimulus he is able to go on, by daily winding up the energies of his system, to an indefinite period. Contrast with this the observations on habitual drunkenness by the same acute observer already quoted:—"If the drunkard refuses to lay aside the Circean cup, let him reflect that disease waits upon his steps—that dropsy; palsy, emaciation, 'poverty, and idiotism—followed by the pale phantom, Death, pursue him like attendant spirits, and claim him as their prey.' Sodden death is occasionally the consequence of a merry debauch from ardent spirits, without a single trace of organic derangement in the brain being discoverable, but, what is most surprising, alcohol in such cases has been found in the ventricles of this organ, proving, in my opinion, that ardent spirits possess a narcotic principle, capable, under certain circumstances, of destroying life by their direct action on the sensorium, whereas death from a momentary excess in smoking opium has never come under my notice amongst the Chinese. The idea seems to be prevalent in this country, that opium is both eaten and taken in a liquid form by the Chinese, but I may safely assert that 455 we have no knowledge of its being used by them in any other way than that of smoking it, except it be administered with a suicidal or murderous intention, when it is invariably swallowed. Chinese physicians, in obstinate and protracted complaints, which resist their ordinary means of cure, are accustomed to recommend the opium pipe to their patients, not being permitted even to name the drug in their prescriptions, or to compound it in any way, as a remedy for alleviating the agony of disease, the imperial prohibition against its use extending equally to soldiers, citizens, peasants, and physicians. What would the members of our Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons do if our most gracious Sovereign were to issue her mandate denouncing the use of opium in her dominions? There are cases of emergency daily occurring, both in the practice of medicine and surgery, in which opium is our sheet-anchor, our sole dependence, and, without it at our command, we should be as much perplexed as the poor Chinese doctors, and, I have no doubt, would feel as ready to assist our suffering patients in procuring it, even if such aid caused us to rebel and act in open violence to established laws; but fortunately we live under a more happy system of government than our Celestial contemporaries, and are not prohibited from the exhibition of any article which may be thought to benefit suffering humanity. I beg to draw your attention to this fact of the Chinese physicians often feeling themselves compelled to recommend the opium-pipe, as the confirmed habit of smoking is in many instances to be traced to this source. A very worthy English physician has lamented what may be considered a parallel evil—that in prescribing brandy-and-water in stomach complaints he had innocently made many drunkards. Do not let the tendency of these remarks be misunderstood, for I consider opium as an article of luxury altogether unnecessary and injurious; but, so far as I have been able to form an opinion, I do not believe that opium used in the state of smoke is either morally or physically so destructive as the use of ardent spirits.Believe me, dear Sir,Yours very faithfully,J. R. COLLEDGE.To H. H. Lindsay, Esq., M.P.That was the opinion of a man well qualified to form an opinion on the subject. He must, therefore, say without questioning the propriety of the motion of the noble Lord, that we ought to look at home, and endeavour to remove the beam from our own eye before we attempted to take the mote from our neighbour's. He held in his hand the opinions of several other persons, which were to a similar effect, but at that late hour he would not read them. One of them was that of Mr. Trotter, who 456 had had the charge of the opium cultivation in Benares for nine years, and who distinctly and positively denied that the system of opium cultivation was open to the charges and objections made against it; that, on the contrary, it was one which was perfectly congenial to the wishes and feelings of the people who were engaged in it. The noble Lord held that peace or good-will with China was inconsistent with a trade in opium. He would readily admit, that there never could be peace between the two nations so long as the smuggling of opium in armed vessels was carried on. Indeed, of that he was perfectly convinced. But how was that evil to be removed? He should not object to see the use of opium as an article of luxury entirely abolished, if it were possible; but possible he did not believe it to be. The hon. Member for Beverley had ably pointed out the evils which had followed the attempt to extirpate its growth in India; but as regarded China, the coasting trade being in the hands of two or three leading individuals of that country, it had been carried on with every desire to avoid offence or injury to the people; men of the highest character were put in command of the vessels trading on the coast and for many years an extensive trade had been conducted without any collision with China; but the smuggling in Canton vessels was in every respect discreditable to the country. It was, however, chiefly carried on by parties whom he considered as not connected with the legitimate trade of China. Looking to the question with every wish to see the trade with China placed on a proper and respectable basis, he must express a hope that the hint which had been thrown out by the Secretary of the Board of Control would be acted upon. He hoped, that the able negotiator who was intrusted with our affairs might succeed in endeavouring to convince the Imperial Government that the only effectual mode by which the evils of the trade could be removed was by legalizing the trade itself. He wished to see the opium monopoly remain in the hands of the company, so that they might restrict the trade as far as possible, instead of enlarging it. He adverted to the strictures passed on the British merchants at Canton by Sir H. Pottinger, and said that one of the greatest evils they complained of was the want of a controlling power over their countrymen, 457 who frequently committed great excesses there. It was requisite, for the sake of peace, that the Government should give to the Consul a summary power to deal with parties who acted improperly. He concluded by saying, that he could not give his support to the motion of the noble Lord.
§ Mr. Hindley moved that the debate be adjourned.
§ The House divided on that motion—Ayes 26; Noes 118: Majority 92.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aldam, W.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Protheroe, E.|
|Bernal, Capt.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Brotherton, J.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Thornley, T.|
|Colquhoun, J. C.||Trelawney, J. S.|
|Fielden, J.||Tufnell, H.|
|Fleetwood, Sir P. H.||Walker, B.|
|Gill, T.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Hastie, A.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Howard. hn. C.W.G.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||TELLERS.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Hindley, C.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Bowring, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ackland, T. D.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Eastnor, Visct.|
|Acton, Col.||Eaton, R.J.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Allix, J. P.||Eliot, Lord|
|Antrobus, E.||Escott, B.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Farnham, E. B.|
|Ashley, Lord||Flower, Sir J.|
|Astell, W.||Fox, C. R.|
|Baillie, Col.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Gaskell, J. Milnes|
|Beckett, W.||Gladstone. rt. hn. W.E.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Gladstone, Capt.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Gordon, hn. Capt.|
|Borthwick, P.||Gore, M.|
|Botfield, B.||Goulbourn, rt. hn. H.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Greenall, P.|
|Buckley, E.||Greene, T.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Clayton, R. R.||Grimston, Visct.|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Clive, Visct.||Hardinge, rt. hn. SirH.|
|Colvile,C. R.||Hardy, J.|
|Corry, rt. hn. H.||Henley, J. W.|
|Cripps, W.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Darby, G.||Hodgson, R.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Hope, G. W.|
|Howard, Lord||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Parker, J.|
|Hussey, T.||Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.|
|Ingestre, Visct.||Pollington, Visct.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Praed, W. T.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Russell, C.|
|Knatchbull, rt hn.SirE.||Scarlett, hon. R. C.|
|Lawson, A.||Scholefield, J.|
|Layard, Capt.||Sheppard, T.|
|Lefroy, A.||Smith, J. A.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Smith, rt. hon. T. B.C.|
|Lockhart, W.||Stanley, Lord|
|Lyall, G.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|McGeachy, F. A.||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Strutt, E.|
|March, Earl of||Sutton, hn. H. M.|
|Martin, C. W.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Tollemache, hn. F. J.|
|Masterman, J.||Towneley, J.|
|Matheson, J.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Meynell, Capt.||Vivian, hon. Capt.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Morris, D.||Young, J.|
|Murray, C. R. S.|
|Ossulton, Lord||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Oswald, J.||Pringle, A.|
§ Viscount Sandon
resumed the debate after some further conversation a bout adjourning it, and said, that he was quite ready to go on if the House desired it, although at that hour and amid the confusion which prevailed it was impossible to do justice to the subject of the debate. He had heard a great deal on minor points, but had received no assistance on the great question, whether it was possible that our relations with China could coexist with the opium trade. Among other things they had heard was a long speech about the glory of the people who ate opium; but had they not evidence of every kind, evidence not only from missionaries, but from persons engaged in the cultivation of the soil, to the effect that the growers and consumers of opium were a people generally in the lowest stats of degradation Then another hon. Member had told them that opium was the only stimulant permitted to be used by Mussulmans. He believed, however, that opium-eaters were looked on by their fellow Mussulmans with much scorn and contempt, and that they were no more permitted by their religion to consume it that they were permitted to consume any other intoxicating liquor. But all these, as he said before, were minor questions com- 459 pared with the one great point for consideration. What we wanted was a permanent and peaceful intercourse with 300,000,000 of people, with whom we might, under certain restrictions, carry on a most profitable and flourishing commercial intercourse. To lose such a golden opportunity would be worth an infinitely greater sacrifice than the sacrifice of the opium trade. For the loss of that trade, if we did relinquish it, we should soon receive more than ample compensation. If we did not relinquish it, if we did not act honestly and manfully, let us not console ourselves by supposing that the Chinese would give credit to any shuffling apologies. The Chinese were now an enlightened people. They read our newspapers, and were acquainted with our customs, and they were fully aware of how, and by whom, this opium trade was supported. It was time that the Government took steps to redress the evil, and if they did not take such steps, upon them must rest the responsibility. We must show the people of China that we had no hand in forcing this drug upon them. The Chinese Government had been honest and uniform in its opposition to the introduction of this drug. He could not remain silent and see a question of this nature treated with levity, on which the character of 300,000,000 of people depended. He heartily supported the noble Lord's resolution. It was a disgrace to a Christian nation to carry on the opium trade as we had done. He entirely concurred with the opinion expressed by every port and large manufacturing town out of London, that the existence of the opium trade would make it utterly impossible that our manufactures could have any considerable expansion in China, or any permanent reception there.
§ Sir R. Inglis
said he wished first that the whole House could have heard the speech of his noble Friend; and next (in which he hoped to give no offence) that no Member would, he would almost say presume, to vote, without having heard it; for that speech must convince any man that had a heart or a head that this question was not one to be treated with levity, or to be dismissed because it was half-past twelve or half-past one; but ought to be considered with the calmest deliberation by the assembled representatives of the people of England. He also felt, that our commer- 460 cial intercourse with China could not be suffered to remain as it now was; and when the House Was told by the hon. Member for Beverley on the one hand, that a revenue of 800,000l. or 1,200,000l., was dependent upon this half-legalised traffic, and heard, on the other hand, from those best conversant with the subject, that the traffic was inconsistent with a state of peace—he asked his hon. Friend whether one year's war would not absorb all that was expected to he gained by continuing the trade. He might be told, that equal horrors were to be found in some of the gin palaces of England. He believed, that practically no such evils were to be found in the worst sinks of the worst towns in England. An hon. Member who was not now present had referred to some nameless abominations which took place under the influence of opium. He held in his hand a passage, in a letter from Batavia, contained in the New York Observer, in which the writer said,I visited one of the opium-houses, and shall I tell all I saw in this ante-chamber of hell? I thought it impossible to find anything worse than the results of drinking ardent spirits, but I have succeeded in finding something far worseHe went on to detail enough to make any man conceive he had seen something unutterably bad. He said he saw Malays, Chinese, men and women, old and young, in one mass, in one common herd, wallowing in their filth, beastly, sensual, devilish, and this under the eyes of a Government, a Christian Government. Was it for the sake of 1,200,000l. that they were willing to continue such fiscal regulations, the natural results of which were to bring their fellow-creatures into a state like this? Were they to continue a trade too against the will of the Chinese Government, the effects of which were so demoralising to its' subjects. He would take an analogous case. Supposing, in spite of our laws against the introduction of corn, the French chose to employ fast sailing clippers to introduce corn into this country by every means in their power. What would be the conduct of the British Government—no matter whether it was a Whig or Tory—a pro-corn Jaw or an anti-Corn-law government? Would they permit the smuggling of an article, the most innocent or beneficial? and could it be supposed, that in the present case the Chinese Would tamely submit to a similar course of pro- 461 ceeding with regard to an article the most deleterious and pernicious, that one man could grow, and another receive? We had continued this course, contrary, as he believed, to the laws of God and man, and we must be prepared to retrace our steps, or to encounter the natural and necessary results in a future war. Let us be wise in time, now there was an opportunity. He did not wish to see that trade legalised either in China or any where else; but an arrangement might now be made by her Majesty's representative and the goverment of China, by which the introduction of that article into China would be rendered for ever impossible. He was willing to Vote for the resolution as he found it, without meaning to say that he might sot have wished it to have been slightly altered. He thought that negotiations might tend to produce a desirable re Milt, which, without preventing the growth of the article altogether, might prevent its introduction into China, contrary to the withes of the Chinese Government. He thought the House would best discharge its duty to the people of India and China by adopting the resolution which his noble Friend had moved with a degree of talent, eloquence, and Christian principle which reflected the highest credit upon him.
§ Sir Robert Peel
was surprised at the conclusion to which his hon. Friend and his noble Friend the Member for Liverpool had come with reference to this resolution. Here was a matter of the greatest delicacy and importance, involving a revenue of 1,200,000l., When the revenue of India is in a state requiring the utmost care, and his hon. Friend and his noble Friend called on the House to adopt a resolution which would injure the revenue to the extent be had stated, and compel the cultivators of the soil to give up another portion of their scanty earnings. In a matter of this delicacy he could not help expressing his surprise at the admission of his noble Friend who said that the resolution should be modified, and that parts of it required consideration, and should be amended. His hon. Friend who spoke last, said that there was now an able negotiator at the court of China, and who, it was possible, might by his exertions do much to modify the evils of the trade. Now how did his hon. Friend know that some such beneficial results were not in the course of being brought about, through the exertions of this able negotiator? If such negotiations were 462 pending, and if there was a chance of changing the feelings of the Chinese government on the subject, so that some amicable arrangement could be effected, was it not unwise to interfere by adopting a course like the present? Might they not defeat the object which the negotiator had in view? This resolution prohibited the growth of opium, and supposing that the Chinese government heard of this resolution, the hopes that might otherwise be entertained, that by diplomatic means the object In view would be obtained, would be entirely at an end. If there was one thing more important than another for the House of Commons to maintain its weight and authority in the country, it was that it should weigh well the resolutions to which it came. A resolution was not like a bill, for one vote decided the matter; and there was no opportunity of reconsidering it, as there were various stages at which a bill could be thrown out. Ought the House, then, after the admissions of his noble Friend, and his hon. Friend, to come to a vote of this kind tonight, which would at once decide the matter? Why not rather adopt the other course which had been proposed, and declare that the House was not in Such a state as regarded their then knowledge of the subject as to enable them to a vote on a resolution which they were told by its supporters required amendment? But what was the resolution of his noble Friend, of whose motives he spoke with the utmost respect, doing justice to the humanity which induced him to bring the subject forward, and also to the ability which his noble Friend had displayed on the occasion; but he knew his noble Friend too well not to know that he was willing that his resolution should be canvassed with the utmost freedom. What was his noble Friend's resolution?That it was the opinion of the House of Commons, that the continuance of the trade in opium, and the monopoly of its growth in the territories of British India is destructive of all relations of amity between England and China.This was the first part of the resolution, and it excluded any possibility of legalising the trade in opium. But it was also impossible entirely to interdict the trade, for opium, besides being produced in our Indian possessions, could be obtained from Turkey or from Manilla, or British capital would be engaged in 463 cultivating it in the state of Malwa and other places. Would the House aver, that the "continuance of the trade in opium is destructive of all amicable relations? and at the same time decide, that the monopoly of the growth in the hands of the East India Company is unwise? There were two questions to be considered; one, whether you will vote, that if this country should sanction the illegal trade in opium, that would be contrary to the wishes of the Chinese government; and another perfectly distinct from this,—whether by this resolution, you can prevent the growth of the vegetable in our possessions in India. He would show why it was better to postpone their coming to a decision on the subject. The matter had not only occupied a considerable share of attention from the present Government, but also from the late Administration. The late Government instructed Sir H. Pottinger to communicate with the Chinese government on the subject. Now, had Sir H. Pottinger acted at all in a spirit favourable to the opium trade? Did not Sir H. Pottinger, on a recent occasion, almost stand alone, while he had to confront! the displeasure of powerful parties in China, in consequence of the part which he took in condemnation of that traffic? Sir Henry Pottinger had been instructed to make a respectful application to the Chinese government on the subject, and to show them the impolicy of endeavouring entirely to interdict the trade. He was instructed to show in how many countries this vegetable could be produced, and to point out the great extent of the coast of out in the instruction he had just referred China, and the almost impossibility of putting down the smuggling trade in opium; and he was directed to point out the tranquillising effect in one respect, and the advantages that might be obtained from it as an article of revenue, if the Chinese government would look at the question in the same way as European governments regarded questions of this kind—namely, getting rid of smuggling by legalising the trade, and imposing a duty on the import. This was a matter of such importance, that he was sure that the House would excuse him for reading a portion of the instructions that had been sent out by the present Government to Sir Henry Pottinger, to guide him as to the course that he was to pursue. He referred to this extract from the instructions to Sir Henry Pottinger, for the 464 purpose of proving to the House, that her Majesty's Government was not indifferent to the question, but was fully aware of its importance, as well regarding the interests as the honour of this country; and also to show that it condemned the principle of British subjects, with immense capital, engaging in a traffic against the municipal laws of the Chinese. The instructions were written by Lord Aberdeen to Sir H. Pottinger, and were dated 29th of December, 1842. The extract, which he would read, was as follows:—Whatever may be the result of your endeavours to prevail upon the Chinese government to legalise the sale of opium, it will be right that her Majesty's servants in China should hold themselves aloof from all connexion with so discreditable a traffic. The British I merchant, who may be a smuggler, must receive no protection or support in the prosecution of his illegal sale; and he must be made aware, that he will have to take the consequences of his own conduct. Her Majesty's Government have not the power to put a stop to this trade on the part of the British smuggler; but they may impede it in some degree by preventing Hong Kong and its waters from being used as a point by the British smuggler, as a starting point for his illegal acts. That is to say, when Hong Kong is ceded—until that the smuggling of opium cannot be prohibited there; but as soon as it is ceded, you will have power to prevent the importation of opium into Hong Kong, for the purpose of exportation into China.Did not that prove, that this important question had not escaped the attention of her Majesty's Government; and such being the case, was not the course marked out in the instruction he had just referred to a much wiser course than that proposed in the resolution? If they adopted it, the chances would be, that the negotiations of the able man to whom his hon. Friend had alluded would be put a stop to; he therefore urged upon his noble Friend the propriety of leaving the matter in the hands of her Majesty's Government, so that the object which his noble Friend so anxiously had in view should not be defeated. So much for the illegal traffic in this article. Now, with regard to the other question, whether it were politic or just for the House of Commons to attempt to interdict the growth of a certain vegetable by the people of India, within the territory of the East India Company? He was afraid, that a very erroneous construction would be put upon the motion of his noble Friend. He was 465 sure that his noble Friend's intention was a just and a good one; but when he was called upon to interdict the growth of this opium, in order to benefit the manufacturers of this country, he became doubly unwilling to sanction this resolution; first of all, because upon that ground it was assumed, that the growth of this vegetable ought not to continue, and secondly, it was most unwise that we should undertake, because persons in another country abused the use of it; because they had not a sufficient control over their own appetites; because, by their own good sense, they could not abstain from the use of the vegetable, it was most unwise, that, therefore, the English Government should resort to the extreme step of preventing the growth of it altogether in their possessions in the East. He thought, that it had been shown in the course of the debate, that there could be no control over the growing of opium beyond the British provinces. In the state of Malwa there was in one year produced 10,000 chests, and if we chose to attempt to control the growth there, we could have no security that British capital would not be taken to other spots, where the climate and soil were favourable to its growth. This was not a question, however, of absolute prohibition—we could not prohibit the growth. The question was, whether it would not be better to attempt its regulation. If they could not interdict the growth, the question they had to decide was, whether opium should be grown under the regulations of a monopoly, or under free-trade. He implored the House to act with great caution in this matter. If it were a question merely affecting the commercial interests of this country, he would ask the House to come to no hasty decision, but to weigh calmly all the points connected with the subject: of how much greater importance was that when the interest of so large a country and so great a body of people was at stake? If you abolish monopoly altogether, and substitute in its place free-trade, the House could not anticipate the evils which may arise to India itself. With regard to this question, he would refer to the opinion of Lord Cornwallis. What does his Lordship say on the point? Lord Cornwallis had many opportunities of studying and watching the interests of the great country committed to his charge. When examined in 1786 by the East India Company with re- 466 ference to a free-trade in opium, his Lordship said, that he was opposed abstractedly to all descriptions of monopoly. He had maturely and deliberately considered the question, and he must confess that he saw the great advantages which resulted from keeping the opium trade in the hands of the Government. He expressed an opinion decidedly in favour of monopoly. Lord Cornwallis thought it was necessary in order to protect and preserve the public interest. He would refer the House to another authority, the opinion of Mr. Mill, the historian of British India. That gentleman a man of great talent and whose opinion certainly ought to carry great weight on a question of this character, took the same view of the matter. Mr. Mill was in favour of monopoly. He considered a free-trade in opium would lead to great abuse of the opium trade in India. Mr. Flemming also expressed a similar opinion in favour of monopoly and against free trade. If that House consulted all the authorities on the point it would be found that a monopoly of the trade of opium was considered preferable to that of free-trade. He did not ask the House to enter upon a consideration of this question with the view to its settlement this night. He asked the House to vote for the previous question, and not for the abstract resolution of his hon. Friend. How was it possible that they could affirm this resolution with the imperfect information which the House possessed on the subject. They were going to affirm a resolution in defiance of the opinion of Lord Cornwallis, in defiance of the statement of Mr. Mill, that monopoly ought not to be abolished, that it was necessary for the wellbeing of that country that a free trade in that drug should not be established. Opium was an article of agricultural produce. He considered it very questionable whether the House had a right to limit its growth, in order to introduce into China with much greater advantage the produce of British manufactures. What has been our policy with regard to that country? India had a flourishing cotton manufacture; that, this country had destroyed. India is in a different position from what you found her. If you destroyed her manufactory of cotton, you left her in undisturbed possession of her agriculture. If the traffic in opium could be legalized, it would be most unjust, if, for the purpose of opening a market for the British 467 manufactures, you adopt measures which must inevitably have the effect of destroying the agriculture of India. Are hon. Members so very sensitive on the subject of opium? Did we not derive a large revenue from tobacco; a revenue to the amount of 3,400,000l. on the tobacco smoked and chewed, to excite and stimulate us. [An hon. Member: And compose us]. And this in addition to a duty on gin, spirits, brandy, and wine, luxuries which men who had no command over their appetites could and did abuse. We who raised 8,000,000l. or 9,000,000l. by the duty on barley alone, and 3,400,000l.on a weed which many considered most noxious, would yet interdict the growth of opium in India in order to preserve the morals and take care of the health of the Chinese. The ryots were very glad to grow opium, because, according to Lord Cornwallis, there was a degree of protection derived from it against undue and unauthorised exaction, which was not the case with other commodities; and, moreover, the cultivation of indigo and opium was healthful to the inhabitants. Was it for the House to say to the people of India "we will prohibit the cultivation by you of that part of your agricultural produce which is most safe, most profitable, and most healthy," and to do this in order to substitute the cotton manufacture of this country, in making which we employed a child for twelve or fourteen hours a day. He did say that it was not quite fair, after we bad destroyed the cotton trade of India by the superior cheapness of our own, to destroy also its chief agricultural produce. It was absolutely necessary to consider this question with great caution in the present state of India, in the present state of the labouring population, and in the present state of the revenue; seeing that if that revenue were deficient additional sums must be derived from direct taxation which would fall upon labour and be paid out of the produce of the soil. His noble Friend said, that 1,000,000l., or 1,200,000l. a-year was a small amount; but they might depend upon it that the revenue in India was a matter of the utmost importance, and that they could not diminish the revenue by one million without engendering the necessity for fresh taxation which must fall on the labouring population of that country; and, unless they were perfectly clear as to the justice of the change they were about to make, 468 they ought not to subject to additional burthens those who were already taxed to the utmost advisable extent. The resolution declared:—That the continuance of the trade in opium and the monopoly of its growth in the territories of British India is destructive of all relations of amity between England and China; … and that steps be taken as soon as possible, with due regard to the rights of governments and individuals, to abolish the evil.They might depend upon it that it was not by the summary course, even if they could abolish the trade, that they could effect this abolition safely. He would not at that late hour of the night, enter into any further discussion; he trusted he had said enough to induce the House to believe that her Majesty's Government were not negligent in this matter, that it would be unwise to pass this resolution on a single night's debate, that its terms were too decisive and emphatic, and that, upon the whole, the best course would be to leave the subject to her Majesty's Government, for their cautious consideration. He did not ask the House to reject the resolution; he did not ask them to negative it; but in the present state of the revenue of India, he only asked the House to leave the subject where it ought to be left, in the hands of her Majesty's Ministers.
said, that after the speech of the right hon. Baronet, he certainly could not support the motion of his noble Friend; but at the same time he hoped it would not be supposed that he was indifferent to the moral considerations involved in the resolution. He desired to express no opinion on the theoretical question of monopolies, and he did wish that the House might be saved from the necessity of expressing any opinion whatever on the subject.
§ Lord Ashley
, in reply, said, that after the indulgence which the House had kindly given to the remarks with which he had introduced the subject to the House, he would much rather submit to the effects of misconception and misrepresentation, than trespass upon the attention of the House for more than a few moments at that late hour. There was, however, one remark which he wished to make, namely, that the minute made by Lord Cornwallis in the year 1786, relative to the circumstances of those times was 469 not applicable to the present state of affairs. When it was said, that he (Lord Ashley) wished to strike out one great article of Indian production, for the purpose of conciliating the British manufacturers, he must say, that his object was to get rid of this drug, and to allow the Indians to return to the original cultivation of the soil, displaced as it had been by this noxious poison. He conceived, that the cultivation of opium was inconsistent with the welfare and happiness of the Indian nation. When, however, he heard from the lips of his right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel), the First Minister of the Crown, that by a motion of his, negotiations now pending, relative to India and China, might be prejudiced, he was, and he would be, the last man to press such a motion, under such circumstances, to a division. He would certainly have been glad to have heard the opium trade spoken of by his right hon. Friend, in stronger terms of reprobation. At the same time, after what his right hon. Friend bad stated, he would, with permission of the House, withdraw his motion.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, it was extremely difficult for him to speak positively on the subject of negotiations. Most certainly, negotiations were pending, and the noble Lord bad heard the spirit in which reference had been made to them. Every one must see it was perfectly possible that if those negotiations were not concluded before the news of that motion arrived at the seat of those negotiations, the adoption of such a motion by the House must have a material effect upon their progress.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at two o'clock.