« PreviousContinue »
OH THE 8ASTSEN MOUNTAIN TIGERS KAT MEN J ON THE WESTERN
its complete cessation. At that time in Soochow alone there were more than 3700 dens, big and little. All these were ordered to close at once. This so frightened the smokers that their souls flew away and their spirits departed from their place. After a great consultation there were empty reports spread abroad, such as that if the many attendants at the opium dens lost their work there would be a riot and bloodshed. This was with the idea of frightening the officials into easy methods of suppressing the opium and so slackly carrying out the Imperial commands—and in the meantime they would find some easy means of subverting the same, whereby they would be enabled for a few more days to go on with their smoking. For a day more of smoking would be a day more of enjoyment. But the officials were not at all moved—for the thunder rolled and the wind still blew. The doors of the recalcitrant dens were closed and those falling under the mandate were punished, so that the dens were closed both in and out of the city, even in by-ways and alleys; the whole was swept clean. Then followed some more idle reports, saying that the selling of opium by licensed shops was not to be allowed, and the habitues were sorrowful unto death.
"About this time some, thinking to take time by the forelock, bought several chests of opium and had them prepared and buried in the ground. But the most laughable case took place in a family by the name of Pan. The craving in this family was very great. Not only did they prepare opium and bury it, but besides they had a pot prepared, and took a cotton wadded robe and steeped it in the opium for three days until several pounds of the opium had soaked into the cotton. It was then hung up to dry slowly. Afterwards the man began to wear the garment. Everybody was very anxious to know his meaning, but could not fathom this deep secret, over which Pan was smiling and unwilling to give it away. But his son began to talk, and said it had thus been prepared lest when the final edict of prohibition should be put into effect, and during the disturbance arising therefrom, it should not be possible to get opium; would not the craving become unbearable and his father die? Therefore he had soaked his robe in opium so that when the time came that no more opium could be secured, he would take the garment and chew a piece of it for a while and the craving would be satisfied. Why, then, should he give away this most excellent plan? I hope you who hear this will not kill yourselves laughing.
"But after all is said, the Soochow man is born with a natural weakness. He is seldom ashamed. Not only is this not enough, but he must add to this the poison of opium, and he enters deeply into its very essence. How then shall he be blamed with the laughable things he does? For the government has issued strict injunctions against smoking opium. To comply with the instructions is to bring immediate calamity on one's self. What then will be the condition of the opium fiends and what will be the world to them? If you, reader, do not believe this, just take a cursory look at these fiends. At this very time when opium is being suppressed, their mouths are full of such expressions as this: 'Suppress opium? The government taxes will be less by the amount collected on several million of lamps, and that would not be a good riding-whip to handle.' In their hearts they really hope outside kingdom men will not agree to the prohibition and will insist on importing the smoke stuff that they may control this great sluice-gate of traffic. So that when they hear that in the open ports opium-smoking is going merrily on, there is not one of them that is not secretly glad^ hoping as the senile old Blossoming Talent hopes for another examination, that he may try again for his second degree.
"When he thus expresses himself, is it not deceptive beyond compare, and is it not evidence beyond question? But, dear reader, do not listen to their talk about opium and be deceived by them. For that stuff is the' Heartbreaking Weed. When the poor eat it, they waste their time and lose their trade. If persons of means smoke, it is said they can thus protect their property and prevent their sons from the wild ways of youth, this being an efficacious preventive. They do not know that when opium is first eaten it is a powerful excitant to lewd ways. More than half the habitues, without sickness or pain, use the excitant of opium to become truly degraded. When they have indulged for some considerable time, they realise that there is no advantage in it. Any one with a small amount of perception may see in Soochow a class of opium-besotted prodigals who spend their time in nothing else but planning ways and means for leading astray silly women. Having become sots they can do nothing of worth. They think only of their food and how they may satisfy that fearful craving that must be satisfied. They can but devise some means for meeting this demand. There are two most used. He who has some natural good appearance endeavors to marry some rich woman; then eating her, and using her, and relying on her, he passes over a few more days of pleasure. The other is with facile tongue and enticing words and heart schemes deceitful; he only thinks of finding a rich friend, whom he deceives into gambling and leads into lewdness. With flattering sycophancy, stooping to any device in order that he may pass the days he sticks to his prey like a leach.
"Thus it is evident that opium-smoking leads to gambling and lewdness and every evil—nothing is beyond its depths of degradation. Of old it was said, 'Idleness leads to thoughts of lewdness.' Daily lolling about, smoking opium to the exclusion of everything else, how shall such idleness lead to anything else but such thoughts? Therefore biting hard on my teethroots I can but say, this is an injurious poison, ruining the kingdom and breaking up families. This is not because I have any enemies among this class of people. I have another reason which I will give. About ten years ago, when opium was in a most flourishing condition, there were two silly women in Soo done to death by opium sots. The whole circumstance was pitiable, productive of sighs and tears, and should be sung abroad in lays and stanzas. Therefore I have put my hand to the work of making a book, called 'THE HEART BREAKING WEED.' Whoever reads this book may know that the aff ections and customs of the Soo people are truly bad. And although I shall be hated by the opium-smoking class, still I should not be blamed for crying out in protest against this evil."
To such a preface, who cannot but say "Amen!" and hope that soon the drug will be removed from the land?
PART I.—THE SOUTHERN CAPITAL
Nanking is not the capital of a province, but it is the seat of a viceroy who superintends the three governors at Anking, Nanchang, and Soochow. As these are capitals of populous and important provinces, the viceroy here is one of the most influential personages in the Empire and his residence clearly demands notice. Moreover, while at present it ranks only as a city in the province of Kiangsu, yet it has been the capital of a kingdom and even of the Empire. There is another city in the same plight—Peking. This is a city in the province of Chihli, whose nominal capital is Paoting, yet Peking is the capital of the whole Empire. Compare with the United States. Each State has its own capital; a tour through Atlanta, Columbia, Raleigh, Richmond, Annapolis, Dover, Harrisburg, Trenton, Albany, Hartford, Newport, Boston, Concord, Montpelier, and Augusta which should profess to deal with the Atlantic capitals might be technically correct, yet people would marvel at the omission of Washington, New York, and Philadelphia on the plea that they were not " capitals." So we mean to add to the provincial capitals of China the two capitals, Nanking and Peking.
And another paradox: These two are titles, not names. Strictly, the words mean " Southern Capital," "Northern Capital." Their names are Kiangning and Shun-t'ien1 though the nomenclature of Peking is a
1 The real name of Peking is Shun-t'ien. "Kingsz" (% &f) simply means "capital" or "metropolis." It is the Kinsny, or Quinsay, of Marco Polo, by which of course he meant, not Peking, but the modern Hangchow, which was the capital under the Sung dynasty.