Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

is not prepared, and which will implicate some of the highest officers in the country. An aide-de-camp stands at the palace gate, and receives every paper with his own hand.”

In the meanwhile Circassia, the object of the Emperor's inordinate and grasping ambition, withstands his power; and indeed throughout the Russian Caucasian provinces, his controul is slight, unless where regular garrisons are established. We conclude with some evidences of what we have just now asserted :

•“ It is almost as difficult to obtain any correct information in Georgia, regarding the war in Circassia, as it is in England. I have spuken on the subject with many officers who have served against them, and can only learn that it is a complete guerilla warfare. All agree that these mountaineers are as brave as steel, and that there is no prospect of a speedy termination to the contest.".

Post guards :

“Before us lay the fort of Vladikawkas, on the site of a more ancient castle. A large force is stationed here, whose only duty is to escort the post across the dangerous plain of the Kabaràs. The heavy post, which arrives once a week from Petersburg, is guarded by a hundred men, and one, and sometimes two field pieces; the extra, or light post, which is also weekly, is escorted by a patrol of Cossacks, to which is generally added a detachment of infantry, one foot soldier being more feared by the Circassians than a dozen Cossacks."

Confined range for tourists on the road-side :

“ Ardouskoi is one of those small Russian forts, so common on the frontiers of Circassia, beyond the range of whose guns its inmates are not safe. Its situation is isolated, and its sole use is to shelter the garri. son which furnishes the escort. While the horses were feeding, and the escort being relieved, I strolled to the gate, and the sentry would hardly permit nie to pass out. I wanted to walk round this little fort, but had not been five minutes without the gate, when several soldiers, with lanterns, came in search of me. And this is the only road by which Russia communicates with the provinces of Georgia and Armenia."

We do not follow the Captain to Armenia, or any of the ulterior stages of his travels ; but conclude with saying that his work would at all times be entertaining; and that at present, as our readers will now admit, it adds to our knowledge of certain matters and relations in the East, some minute, as well as exceedingly striking facts, caught by the eye even of a skimming tourist, that may be advantageously pursued to more hidden principles, and their probable and fuller development.

258

Art. XI. - The Iniquities of the Opium Trade with China. By the

Rev. A. S. THELWALL, M.A., of Trinity College, Cambridge. Lon

dun: Allen. 1839. There are some abuses on the part of man of such a wide-spread, prolonged, and systematic nature, as not only to sicken the heart when earnestly contemplated, but that are calculated, when long and solely reflected upon, to excite despair relative to the destinies of the majority of the human race. One is tempted to think that what is vauntingly called civilization is even of itself a question. able good, when the train of evils and calamities which accompany its development are weighed against its advantages. Science and the arts appear often to originate as much injury as benefit. If a new product in nature is discovered, or new combinations are invented, so as to put within man's power a larger supply than before for the daily use of our race, there is sure soon to

go

hand-in-hand with the blessing such a perversion as almost to force the philanthropist to wish that the preceding condition of ignorance were restored.

Talk of civilization, of the higher views of the capacities of our nature, our wants, and our powers, as you please ; declaim about the beauties of enlightened and mighty nations, their free institutions, their generosities, and eminence; but ten to one the very loftiest and noblest spectacle of the kind can with equal truth be charged with the crime of enslaving, brutalizing, and torturing wantonly multitudes of human beings, and that too at a rate continuous, accelerating, and increasing, nearly in proportion to the enlarging grounds of boast or complacency which the fair and beauteous side of the picture presents.

But the slave trade and slavery, where the rich prey upon the poor, where the strong tyrannize over the weak, where the enlightened take advantage of the ignorant, and where the civilized employ their peculiar resources to entrap and reduce to the condition of beasts of burden the savage and the children of the wilderness, are not only perversions and revolting contradictions, that tempt the overloaded imagination of the contemplative man, who may bend his eye chiefly to one aspect of human history, almost to entertain doubts concerning the truth of there being a moral Governor of the universe. When he looks to what science and art have accomplished in reclaiming wild nature on the face of the earth,-in controuling exuberant fertility, in fertilizing sterile soils, in obtaining such a mastery over the grossly strong, or the insiped and feeble, exhibiting man as little less than a creator, how shocked on the other hand must he be, how querulous and sceptical does he become, when he finds concomitantly, and maintaining a most obstinate and regular parallelism with all this, the large manufacture of strong poisons that are most tempting to the taste, and that are to be transmitted to every region, savage, semi-barbarous, and refined, where there is gold or valuable thing to be given in exchange! The corn which the Almighty has enabled man so plentifully to cultivate and rear, and which is the staff of human life, is made to yield a liquid that has slain far more than the sword ever did, at all times sending over the face of society a tide of moral contamination and disease, and entailing eternal death. The herbs 80 numerous and various, the flowers of the field so gratifying to the eye and so fragrant, have become the subject of skilful analysis, and been discovered with delight and gratitude to be the repositories of potent medicines to arrest sickness and to restore to sweet health. But alas ! among and out of some of the most wonderful of these god-like provisions the fellest foe of physical, mental, and moral life has been evoked, who now strides forth with gigantic steps over many of the fairest regions of the earth, mainly invigorated and supplied by the very people who boast most loudly, and, we doubt not, justly of their civilization and humanity. The Poppy is the parent of Opium; British India is its chief nursery. The drug ihat ought never to be applied but to heal, is by British merchants and British countenance allowed and encouraged to be the slayer of tens of thousands annually.

We have glanced at the views of mankind and the world which an oversanguine, or a gloomy and misanthropic person may be supposed to take, without, however, professing ourselves attached to either of the exclusions. Far from it ; for, while unable to solve apparent contradictions in the moral government of the world, we have strong reasons for believing that the predominance of ultimate good may be hopefully and confidently contemplated. Still, for the very purpose of advancing this good, it is proper, needful and wise to take a full and impartial view of the real state of things as displayed in the history of the human family; and when an enormous and growing evil is presented, it behoves every man to look at it fairly and steadfastly. The Opium Trade with China is such an evil, and at this moment of monstrously frightful growth. Its devastations have been incalculable, and are upon the increase at a rapid pace. But are we to despair ? No; there is hope the moment that an appeal is made to the British public on the subject; there are grounds for laying hold of gladness the moment that the British mind is awakened to any crying evil which its voice can reach. Such an appeal is now made, and in the very pages before us. The call may be new or unthought of by many of our readers, but it will not on that account be less loud or arousing. But let us hear it :

“ The Iniquities of the Opium Trade with China,' methinks, (thus commences Mr. Thelwall) I hear some one exclaim, on reading the title,

of my book; • I never heard before that we carried on any such traffic ; much less that any iniquities were connected therewith.”

Such indeed was the author's own condition, he informs us, till very lately ; but having had his attention called to the subject three or four months ago by several gentlemen connected with the India trade, who were deeply interested in the cause of humanity, and who put into his hands a number of documents corroborative and illustrative of their statements, he has digested the whole and thrown them into the small volume before us.

The author, accordingly, first states the facts of the case as fully and correctly as his means have allowed'; and concludes with some remarks, in order to bring the subject practically home to the minds of his readers.

The first of his facts is, that the effects of Opium, when used as a stimulant or intoxicating drug, are most pernicious and destructive; that of all intoxicating substances it is the most baneful and frightful.

It cannot be required to show our readers how useful, yet how cautiously adminstered opium must be in the case of disease. But what are its consequences when taken as a mere luxury? Some passages from different authors will in part answer the question :

“ The use of opium for the purpose of exhilarating the spirits has long been known in Turkey, Syria, and China, and of late years it has been, unfortunately, adopted by many, particularly females, in this country. Russell says that, in Syria, when combined with spices and aromatics, he has known it taken to the amount of three drachms in twenty-four hours. Its habitual use cannot be too much reprobated. It impairs the digestive organs, conseguently the vigour of the whole body, and destroys also gradually the mental energies. The effects of opium on those addicted to its use, says Russell, are at first obstinate costiveness, succeeded by diarrhea and flatulence, with the loss of appetite and a sottish appearance. The memories of those who take it soon fail, they become prematurely old, and then siuk into the grave, ubjects of scorn and pity. Mustapha Shatoor, an opium-eater in Symrna, took daily three drachms of crude opium. The visible effects at the time were the sparkling of his eyes, and great exhilaration 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; bis gums eaten away, and his teeth laid bare to the sockets. He could not rise without first swallowing half-a-drachm of opium. (See Phil. Trans., xiv., 288-290.)

“In moderate doses, opium increases the fulness, the force, and the frequency of the pulse, augments the heat of the body, quickens respiration, and invigorates both the corporeal and mental functions, exhilarating even to intoxication; but by degrees these effects are succeded by languor, lassitude, and sleep; and, in many instances, headache, sickness, thirst, tremors, and other symptoms of debility, such as follow the exces

sive use of ardent spirits, supervene. In very large doses the primary excitement is scarcely apparent, but the pulse seems to be at once dimi. nished, drowsiness and stupor immediately come on, and are followed by delirium, sighing, deep and stertorous bieathing, cold sweats, convul. sions, apoplexy, and death. The appearances on dissection are those which indicate the previous existence of violent inflammation of the stomach and bowels; but notwithstanding the symptoms of apoplexy which an overdose, when it proves fatal, occasions, no particular appear. ance of an inflammatory state or fulness of the brain is perceived.-London Encyclopædia, p. 461.

" Opium retains, at all times, its power of exciting the imagination, provided sufficient doses are taken. But when it has been continued so long as to bring disease upon the constitution, the pleasurable feelings wear away, and are succeeded by others of a very different kind. Iustead of disposing the mind to be happy, it now acts upon it like the spell of a demon, and calls up phantoms of horror and disgust. T'he fancy is still as powerful as ever, but it is turned in another direction, Formerly it clothed all objects with the light of heaven; now it invests them with the attributes of hell. Goblins, spectres, and every kind of distempered vision, haunt the mind, peopling it with dreary and revolting imagery. The sleep is no longer cheered with its former sights of happiness. Frightful dreams usurp their place, till, at last, the person becomes the victim of an almost perpetual misery. Nor is this confined to the mind alone, for the body suffers in an equal degree. Einaciation, loss of appe. tite, sickness, vomiting, and a total disorganization of the digestive functions, as well as of the mental powers, are sure to ensue, and never fail to lerminate in death, if the evil habit which brings them on is con. tinued.-Macnish's Anatomy of Drunkenness, p. 51."

The foregoing extracts refer to the habit of eating opium, which is the mode of taking it adopted in Turkey and some other countries. In China the general practice is that of smoking it, after certain preparations, through a pipe. But the effects are much the same.

The following statement is by a native of China, in a memorial addressed to the Emperor :

When any one is lung habituated to inhaling opium, it becomes necessary to resort to it at regular intervals, and the habit of using it, being inveterate, is destructive of time, injurious to property, and yet dear to one even as life. Of those who use it to great excess the brealh becomes feeble, the body wasted, the face sallow, and the teeth black: the individuals themselves clearly see the evil effects of it, yet cannot refrain from it.

“It will be found on examination, that the smokers of opium are idle, lazy vagrants, having no useful purpose before them.

And though there are smokers to be found who have overstepped the threshold of age, yet they do nol atlain to the long life of other men."

We must now refer to a curious and striking illustration of the VOL. 11. (1839). NO. II.

T

*

*

« PredošláPokračovať »