Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

tumultuous imagery and indefinable wretchedness. This miserable state frequently results on the first employment of the drug, but is probably always superinduced after it has been habitually used for some time.

The influence of habit in rendering the system capable of enduring certain actions, which under other circumstances would inevitably lead to fatal consequences, is remarkably exemplified in the drug under consideration. “ About six grains of solid opium,” says Dr. Sigmond, “could not be taken with impunity by those unaccustomed to it;" and there is a case on record in which four grains and a half, in combinanation with camphor, actually occasioned death in nine hours. After such statements as these, the enormous quantities swallowed by habitués may well excite astonishment. One of the most extraordinary instances is that of De Quincey, from whose Confessions we have already had occasion to quote. His ordinary dose was 8,000 drops of laudanum, which he estimates as equivalent to 320 grains of crude opium. For the first eight years he took this only once a week, but afterwards he continued it daily during three years. He then suddenly, and without any considerable effort, descended to 40 grains, or 1,000 drops of laudanum. About this time he was affected in a most remarkable manner. “At night,” says he, “when I lay awake in bed, vast processions passed along in mournful pomp; friezes of never-ending stories, that to my feelings were as sad and solemn as if they were stories drawn from times before Edipus or Priam, before Tyre, before Memphis. * * * The sense of space, and, in the end, the sense of time, were both powerfully affected. Buildings, landscapes, &c., were exhibited in proportions so vast as the bodily eye is not fitted to receive. Space swelled, and was amplified to an extent of unutterable infinity. This, however, did not disturb me so much as the vast expansion of time; I sometimes seemed to have lived 70 or 100 years in one night, nay, sometimes had feelings representative of a millennium passed in that time, or, however, of a duration far beyond the limits of any buman experience. * * * Under the connecting feeling of tropical heat and vertical sun-lights, I brought together all creatures, birds, beasts, reptiles, all trees and plants, usages and appearances, that are found in all tropical regions, and assembled them together in China or Indostan. From kindred feelings I soon brought Egypt and all her gods under the same law; I was stared at, hooted at, grinned at, chattered at, by monkeys, by paroquets, by cockatoos. I ran into pagodas, and was fixed for centuries, at the summit, or in secret rooms; I was the idol ; I was the priest; I was sacrificed. I fled from the wrath of Brama through all the forests of Asia ; Vishnu hated me; Seeva laid wait for me; I came suddenly upon Isis and Osiris : I had done a deed, they said, which the ibis and crocodile trembled at. I was buried for a thousand years, in stone coffins, with mummies and sphinxes, in narrow chambers at the heart of eternal pyramids. I was kissed, with cancerous kisses, by crocodiles; and laid, confounded with all unutterable slimy things, amongst reeds and Nilotic mud.”

Namerous other illustrations might be given of the effects of opium, but we have only space for the following account, written by Mrs. Guthrie, from Eupatoria. She mentions that she observed, at a Tartar mosque, a sort of holy wheel composed of whirling fanatics, who, having indulged in the use of opium, kept flying round in a circle, more like the votaries of Bacchus than the disciples of Mahomet. In the middle of the circle an aged dervise turned round like a top, muttering all the while in concert with his brethren, the following maxim from the Koran: “ This life is precarious; but it is here (pointing to the earth) that we must take up our abode.” The centre of this curious group is always the place of honour and of danger, as the reverend father who occupies it, in right of his years and wisdom, keeps spinning round till he turns his brain, and if he expires on the spot, which sometimes happens, he becomes a martyr-saint of the Mahometan church, and the envy of his surviving stronger-headed companions.

Almost every traveller in Turkey and Persia has described the disastrous results of the practice of opium-eating. Thus, according to Dr. Oppenheim,* “ The habitual opium-eater is instantly recognised by his appearance. A total attenuation of body, a withered, yellow countenance, a lame gait, a bending of the spine, frequently to such a degree as to assume a circular form, and glossy, deep-sunken eyes, betray him at the first glance.” Dr. Madden † likewise observes : “ 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 Pouqueville says I: “He who begins taking opium habitually at twenty, must scarcely expect to live longer 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.

* Always beside themselves, the theriakis are incapable of work; they seem no more to belong to society. Towards the end of their career, they, however, experience violent pains, and are devoured by constant hunger; nor can their paregoric 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."

But evidence has been adduced to prove that opium is not so destructive to health and life as the preceding extracts would lead us to infer, and Dr. Christison has given abstracts of eleven cases occurring in his own private practice, all of which tend to establish the opinion which is now generally gaining ground, that the popular supposition is incorrect.

The Chinese mode of smoking the drug is described as entailing the same fearful consequences that follow the practice of opium-eating.

* Pereira's “ Materia Medica," Vol. ii. + "Travels in Turkey," Vol. i.

I “Voy. en Morée, en Constant.” t. ij.-Lord Ashley's Speech.

[graphic]

The process is generally conducted as follows :-Having first purified the opium by maceration in water, it is placed in the pipe; and the voluptuary, lying upon a couch with his head elevated, takes a whiff, and, after retaining the smoke for a short time, expires it through his nostrils, and perhaps also through his ears and eyes. Immediate intoxication follows, and is succeeded by a delightful stupor ; on recovering from which the smoker sips his tea or spirits, and again returns to his pipe, over which he will continue to dose for several days. As a witness to the misery induced by the practice, we will permit a Chinaman to speak for himself. Our author is Koo-king-shan, a literary graduate of Keang-ning, province of Keang-soo, and his work is entitled, Foreign Opium, a Poison, which is illustrated in ten paragraphs, under the following titles :-“ It exhausts the animal spirits; it impedes business ; it wastes the filesh ; it dissipates property ; it renders the person ill-favoured; it promotes licentiousness; it discloses secrets; it violates the laws; it attacks the vitals; it destroys life.” In his introduction, he says, “ Opium is a poisonous drug, brought from foreign countries. What are its virtues ? It raises the animal spirits, and prevents lassitude. Hence the Chinese continually run into its toils. At first they merely strive to follow the fashion of the day; but, in the sequel, the poison takes effect, the habit becomes fixed, and the sleeping smokers are like corpses, lean and haggard as demons. Smoking opium, in its first stages, impedes business; and when the practice is continued, it throws whole families into ruin, dissipates property, and destroys man himself. 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. The poor smoker, who has pawned every article in his possession, still remains idle and inactive; and, when he has no means of borrowing money, and the periodical thirst returns hard upon him, he will pawn his wives and sell his daughters.”*

Our limited space will not permit us to enter more deeply into the subject. The discrepancies that exist between the accounts which we receive from travellers and others, and the facts of which we ourselves can take cognizance, may perhaps in some measure be accounted for by the effect of climate and other external circumstances, which undoubtedly exercise great influence. But in all probability, the instances that have been brought forward are exceptions to the general rule; and whilst we occasionally hear of inveterate opium-eaters attaining the ages of sixty, seventy, or even eighty years, hundreds of others may sink into a premature grave unpitied and unknown.

*“ Asiatic Journal," Nor. 1839.

Prize Essay.
KNOWLEDGE PROMOTED BY CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

BY T. W. s. THAT knowledge has been promoted by Christian Missions, is a fact fully attested, by its wide and immediate circulation in those countries where the glorious Gospel of the blessed God has been received ; and of this, if we take a brief survey of each field of missionary labour, we shall still be more fully convinced. With truth has it been asserted that the great extension of literature in India, the translations going an in the various languages of that country, the large increase of schools for the instruction of the natives, is entirely to be attributed to the labours of missionaries, and although the arts and sciences, which once flourished here, are now no longer caltivated, at least to any extent by the native population, still we doubt not but that in a few years, India will again have to boast of her native mathematicians, and of her native astronomers.

In South Africa, civilization and learning have rapidly advanced-in the land There, a few years since, the inhabitants were mere slaves, where every species of vice, and cruelty, and villany were prevalent, peace, harmony, and love, now, to a great extent, reigns,-in the country where the people where deemed " so extremely sitage and ferocious that they were incapable of being civilised,"--many of the useful arts are now practised, in the land where the people were stated to be the connecting link between the intellectual and brute creation, — learning now flourishes, and not only do they feel disposed to receive instruction, but they evince a readiDess and wit in its acquisition which is truly surprising. One or two instances will fully establish these assertions. At the village of Guadental, containing a population of 1500 souls, 450 children are receiving instruction at the mission schools. “The village contains the mission-houses and workshops, and about 260 neatly-thatched cottages of unburnt brick, or mud and gravel, which stand very well in this warm climate. A stream turns a corn-mill of two pair of stones, and a bark-mill ;" and the plots of ground, adjoining the dwellings of the inhabitants, are cultivated with great care and attention." In approaching Pecalsdorp," says Mr. Backhouse, “its little chapel with a steeple, the school-house and the dwellings of the missionaries, and cottages of the Hottentots, gave it the appearance of an English village.” “Could the people of Great Britain," he says again," have seen the effect that is produced by the operation of Gospel principles, carried out in Christian instruction, and in general education, they would no doubt have joined in the exclamation, 'What hath God wrought!' Many of the half-naked degraded Hottentots had been raised to a state nearly equal to that of the labouring classes in England : and in some respects superior, certainly above that often found in some of the manufacturing districts. They were dressed like decent plain people of that class; and in the sixteen schools of the Kat river district, which were kalf supported by the people themselves, and conducted by native youths, they had about 1200 scholars, and an attendance of about 1000. He may indeed well say, when viewing these wonderful changes," It is difficult to a feeling mind to look on the country without emotion, on beholding the hills covered with herds of cattle, and the the valleys with corn ; and contemplating these as the possessions of a people just rescued from oppression, robbery, and spoil, but now dwelling in safety and peace.”*

If we turn our attention to the despised Negro of the West Indies, we shall be no less surprised at what has there been accomplished, through the instrumentality of Christian Missions. What was his former condition? He was despised, deemed a mere beast of burden, sold as a portion of the goods and chattels of his master, he was compelled to toil in chains, and was lashed with the whip. One might have thought that this was degradation enough for the benighted descendant of Ham; but but no, to all this was added mental degradation, ignorace of the arts and sciences; he was unallured by the enjoyments of civilized society, and by whatever is sublime and beautiful in natural scenery; he was altogether destitute of taste and genius, his whole thoughts ranged not beyond his daily task, and the wants of savage life;+ * Backhouse's Visit to the Mauritius and South Africa, pp. 97, 125, 186, 189.

+ Phillippo's " Jamaica."

[graphic]

and some writers, as in the case of the Hottentots and Bushmen, have described him as possessing no intellectual powers, as an inferior species of human being, as affiliated to the ourang-outang, and like it, actuated by instinct and not by reason. Hume, Montesquieu, Long, and a host of others like them, have asserted these infamous falsehoods. But Christian Missions have triumphantly refuted them; she has established schools and raised the negro from his former degradation to his present condition; and instead of being destitute of mental powers, he possesses intellectual faculties, which will successfully rival those of his late oppressors; * his hand is as skilful, when properly trained, at any of the mechanic arts and manufactures as those of the operative of this country.

But it may be urged that all this has followed from the emancipation of the Negro from his cruel and unjust servitude. This we admit may have aided in the accomplishment of this work; but we assert that it is Christianity, and Christianity alone, as contained in the Bible, which has wrought the change. For if emancipation from the fetters of slavery could have produced it, how is it that the inhabitants of a neighbouring island, Hayti-they having been blessed with freedom for a much longer time than the Negroes of the British West India Islands, have so long been without these blessings? how is it that they are so harrassed by riolent and lawless conflicts? how is it that they have not yet, to any extent, established schools and colleges among themselves, for the education of their rising generation? or how is it that the crash of the printing press has not yet reverberated among their glens, “pouring forth its intellectual bounties” How is it? Because true religion, upon which all permanent improvement is based, has not yet been received by them.

Again, civilization and learning have kept pace with the progress of religion in the South Sea Islands. The miserable hut has been exchanged for the comfortable house, supplied with even some of the conveniences and elegancies of Europe; ships of considerable size have replaced the canoe ; intercourse, and regular commerce, have superseded rude barter and lawless plunder. As well as the South Africans, the Polynesians are anxious to obtain, and are quick in receiving, instruction; and the process of training under which they have been brought, and the new wants and desires created by the supply of knowledge, have not failed to enlarge and elevate their already quick understandings. One instance only, selected from numerous others, will be given to illustrate this fact. At Lahainaluna, in Hawaii,t there has been established a mission seminary, of which Mr. Clarke, one of the tutors, gives the following account: “ The school now contains sixty pupils, all boarding scholars. They even now furnish a great part of the matter for the ‘Kumu Hawaii ;' I and are in this way speaking to their more ignorant countrymen. Their engravings speak for themselves. I have now a class in navigation, a branch of study to which they have long desired to attend, owing to their proximity to the sea, and intercourse with seafaring men. They will soon have a far better knowledge of this art, than graduates generally in America. So far as capacity is concerned, we have every encouragement to go forward.” The course of studies embraces the simplest rudiments, as well as the higher branches of education, natural philosophy, history, geography, arithmetic, &c.

The heathen are not, however, the only people who are benefited by these benevolent exertions. Britain and the whole civilized world, partake of these advantages. A knowledge of geography has been extended by the enterprise of Christian Missionaries; of topography by their exertions ; of geology by their researches ; of natural history by their discoveries; of botany by their observations. Our literature also has been enriched by the works of Williams, Moffat, Ellis, Jowett, Phillippo, and others too numerous to mention, who are all intimately connected with missions. Moreover, “new fields of discovery have been opened to the philosopher. They have penetrated into regions where the foot of other travellers has never trod; and have explored many regions unknown before. They have presented man under aspects the most peculiar and interesting in which he can be contemplated. They have added new facts to his natural history, and new features to his physical character. They

* In support of this, it may be stated that there are thirty-two editors of Newspapers in the British West Indies, who are Negroes.

+ One of the Sandwich Islands.
# A newspaper in the native language.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »