« EdellinenJatka »
MANNER OF SMokING opium. 391
employer's till, or a temperate blood-letter, who only takes a spoonful daily from his veins) can seldom exceed a mace weight, or about as much of prepared opium as will balance a pistareen or a franc piece; this quantity will fill twelve pipes. Two mace weight taken daily is considered an immoderate dose, which few can bear for any length of time; and those who are afraid of the effects of the drug upon themselves endeavor not to exceed a mace. Some persons, who have strong constitutions, and stronger resolution, continue the use of the drug within these limits, for many years, without disastrous effects upon their health and spirits; though most of even these moderate smokers are so much the slaves of the habit, that they feel too wretched, nerveless, and imbecile, to go on with their business without the stimulus. The testimony regarding the evil effects of the use of this pernicious drug, which deserves better to be called an “article of destruction” than an “article of luxury,” are so unanimous, that few can be found to stand up strongly in its favor. Dr. Smith, a physician in charge of the hospital at Penang, says, “The baneful effects of this habit on the human constitution are particularly displayed by stupor, forgetfulness, general deterioration of all the mental faculties, emaciation, debility, sallow complexion, lividness of lips and eyelids, languor and lack-lustre of eye, and appetite either destroyed or depraved, sweetmeats or sugar being the articles that are most relished.” These symptoms appear when the habit has weakened the physical powers, but the unhappy man soon begins to feel the power of the drug in a general languor and sinking, which disables him mentally more than bodily, from carrying on his ordinary pursuits. A dose of opium does not produce the intoxication of ardent spirits, and so far as the community and his family are concerned, the smoker is less troublesome than the drunkard ; the former never throws the chairs and tables about the room, or drives his wife out of doors in his furious rage; he never goes reeling through the streets, or takes lodgings in the gutter; but contrariwise, he is quiet or pleasant, and fretful only when the effects of the pipe are gone. It is in the insupportable languor throughout the whole frame, the gnawing at the stomach, pulling at the shoulders, and failing of the spirits, that the tremendous power of this vice lies, compelling the “victimized” slave “to seek it yet again.” There has not yet been opportunity to make those minute investigations respecting the extent opium is used among the Chinese, what classes of people use it, their daily dose, the proportion of reprobate smokers, and many other points which have been narrowly examined into, in regard to the use of alcohol; so that it is impossible to decide the question as to which of the two is the most dreadful habit. These statistics have, heretofore, been impossible to obtain in China, and it will be very difficult to obtain them, even when a person, who may have the leisure and abilities, shall undertake the task. Various means have been tried by benevolent natives to dissuade their countrymen from using it, such as distributing tracts showing its ruinous effects, compounding medicines for the smoker to take, to aid him in breaking off the habit, and denouncing the smoking-shops to government. A painter at Canton made a series of admonitory pictures, showing the several steps in the downward course of the opium-smoker, until beggary and death ended the scene; one of them, showing the young debauchee at his revels, is here introduced.
EFFECTS OF THE USE OF Opium. 393
prevent lassitude. “It exhausts the animal spirits, impedes the regular performance of business, wastes the flesh and blood, dissipates every kind of property, renders the person ill-favored, promotes obscenity, discloses secrets, violates the laws, attacks the vitals, and destroys life.” Under each of these heads, he lucidly shows the mode of the process, or gives examples to uphold his assertions. “In comparison with arsenic, I pronounce it tenfold the greater poison; one swallows arsenic, because he has lost his reputation, and is so involved that he cannot extricate himself. Thus driven to desperation, he takes the dose and is destroyed at once ; but those who smoke the drug are injured in many ways. It may be compared to raising the wick of a lamp, which, while it increases the blaze, hastens the exhaustion of the oil and the extinction of the light. Hence, the youth who smoke will shorten their own days, and cut off all hopes of posterity, leaving their parents and wives without any one on whom to depend. From the robust who smoke, the flesh is gradually consumed and worn away, and the skin hangs like a bag. Their faces become cadaverous and black, and their bones naked as billets of wood. The habitual smokers doze for days over their pipes, without appetite; when the desire for opium comes on, they cannot resist its impulse. Mucus flows from their nostrils, and tears from their eyes; their very bodies are rotten and putrid. From careless observers, the sight of such objects is enough to excite loud peals of laughter. The poor smoker, who has pawned every article in his possession, still remains idle; and when the periodical thirst comes on, will even pawn his wives and sell his daughters. In the province of Nganhwui, I once saw a man named Chin, who being childless, purchased a concubine, and got her with child; afterwards, when his money was expended and other means all failed him, being unable to resist the desire for the pipe, he sold her in her pregnancy for several tens of dollars. This money being expended, he went and hung himself. Alas, how painful was his end s” The thirst and burning sensation in the throat, which the wretched sufferer feels, only to be removed by a repetition of the dose, proves one of the strongest links in the chain which drags him to his ruin. At this stage of the habit, his case is al
• Chinese Repository, Vol. VII., page 108.
most hopeless; if the pipe be delayed too long, vertigo, complete prostration, and discharge of water from the eyes, ensue; if entirely withheld, coldness and aching pains are felt over the body, an obstinate diarrhoea supervenes, and death closes the scene. The disastrous effects of the drug upon the constitution seem to be somewhat delayed or modified by the quantity of nourishing food the person can procure, and consequently it is among the poor, who can least afford the pipe, and still less the injury done to their energies, that the destruction of life is the greatest. The evils suffered and crimes committed by the desperate victims of the opium pipe are dreadful and multiplied. Theft, arson, murder and suicide, are perpetrated in order to obtain it or escape its effects. Some try to break off the fatal habit, by taking a tincture of the opium dirt in spirits, gradually diminishing its strength until it is left off entirely; others mix opium with tobacco, and smoke the compound in a less and less proportion, until tobacco alone remains. The general belief is that the vice can be over. come without fatal results, if the person firmly resolve to forsake it, and keep away from sight and smell of the pipe, laboring as much as his strength will allow in the open air, until he recovers his spirits, and no longer feels a longing for it. Few, very few, however, ever emancipate themselves from the tyrannous habit which enslaves them ; they are able to resist its insidious effects until the habit has become strong, and the resolution to break it off is generally delayed until their chains are forged, and deliver. ance felt to be hopeless. The resolution in their case has, alas, none of the awful motives to enforce its observance, which a knowledge of the Bible would give it; the heathen dieth in his ignorance. Opium is often employed to commit suicide, by swallowing it in spite, when displeased with others, or to escape from death, oppression, or other evils. The missionary physicians are often called upon to rescue persons who have taken a dose, and been found before life is gone, and the number of these applications painfully show how lightly the Chinese esteem life. A compari. son is sometimes drawn between the opium-smoker and drunkard, and the former averred to be less injured by the habit; but the balance is struck between two terrible evils, both of which end in the loss of health, property, mind, influence, and life." Opium imparts no benefit to the smoker, impairs his bodily vigor,
PROGRESS OF THE OPIUM TRAFFIC. 395
beclouds his mind, and unfits him for his station in society; he is miserable without it, and at last dies by what he lives upon. The manufacture is beyond the country, so that every cent paid for the drug is carried abroad, and misery in every shape of poverty, disease, and dementation left in its stead, attended with mere transitory pleasure while the pipe is in the mouth. Fully one hundred millions of dollars have “oozed ‘’ out of China within the last fifty years for this article alone, and its productive capital decreased fully twice that sum. Towards the close of the East India Company’s charter in 1834, the contraband trade in opium off the Bogue, and along the coast eastward, had assumed a regular character. The fees paid for connivance at Canton were understood, and the highest persons in the province were not ashamed to participate in the profits of the trade. The attempts to sell it along the eastern coast had been mostly successful, and almost nothing else could be sold. In a trip undertaken in 1823, by Mr. James Matheson, he proceeded no further than Tsiuenchau fu or Chinchew, in Fuhkien, and on the whole made a losing voyage. The next year, a ship remained at Namoh, but the sales were suspended there for a time, in consequence of the opposition displayed by the authorities; vessels were also sent to Amoy and Formosa, and met with varied success, sometimes selling most of the cargo, at others returning with it. In 1831, the Jamesina, with Mr. James Innes, went up the Min to Fuhchau fu, besides visiting other places, in the course of the voyage making sales of opium to the amount of $330,000. One reason, probably, why the people at these ports were disinclined to buy cloths, was, that the stamp placed upon every piece imported at Canton, virtually advertised such as had it not to have been smuggled. The luck of the Jamesina induced Mr. Marjoribanks, in 1832, to send the Lord Amherst on a more extensive voyage to all the large ports along the coast; but the experiment proved a complete failure, and the loss over five thousand pounds. Considerable information was obtained, charts of the harbors and mouths of the rivers made, and the officers with whom Mr. Gutzlaff conversed made acquainted with their designs in the voyage. Soon after this, the Sylph, a fast-sailing vessel, chiefly loaded with opium, was sent northward and reached Kinchau in Liautung. The vessel was ashore for some hours on this bleak coast