d. 1894 Terrien de Lacouperie.

The children of China. Written for the children of England online

. (page 16 of 18)
Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 16 of 18)
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themselves, to get more opium. It takes away every wish to
be good themselves, or to do good to others, every wish for
anything, except more and more opium.

Even the smokers themselves say that opium is bad and only
bad, for the man who is a slave to opium, and has none, w^ill do
anything, however bad, to get some. A Chinese mandarin once
said, " It is not the man that eats the opium, but the opium that
eats the man."

You may imagine what a terrible thing it is to a Chinese wife
or mother to find out that her husband or son has begun to smoke
opium, and she knows too well wdiat the end will be. A little
while ago, the women in the villages round Canton wrote a
petition, begging that the sale of opium in their villages might be
stopped. This is part of what they said : —

" When in youth we went to the homes of our husbands, we
did not suffer from cold and hunger ; but from the time our
husbands and sons smoked opium, the children that were dressed
in green and red, in the twinkling of an eye came to rags ;
ornamented halls and grand houses all vanished in smoke ; those
wdio before took care of their families have now come to look like
beggars. The beds have no covers, the dishes have no food left
on them. Hungry, there is nothing for us to eat ; cold, there are
no clothes for us to wear; the fault is surely with opium."

Even the children whose fathers have been opium smokers are
not like other children, but are always pale and sickly.

Kich men often have special rooms in their houses, where
they go to lie down on beds and smoke ; the poor go to opium
shops, which are always open, like our public-houses. They are



generally in low, dark streets, whicli would remind yon, I expect,
of the words of the Lord Jesus — " He that doeth evil hateth the

i.,|iii'ii'iiiiil|ir / ji'fsv


light, neither cometh to the light " ( ) ; they are very

dirtj^ places too, filled with bad air and lighted only by dim lamps,
just enough to show the men lying on benches, which are either

OPIUM. 271

quite bare or covered with a straw mat. The men themselves
have often hardly any clothes on. Some of them are quite yonug
and healthy looking, as they have only just begun to smoke ;
others look like living skeletons, all they have in the world being
a filthy rag to cover them.

The number of opium-smokers gets larger every day ; in some
cities on the coast, fifty out of every hundred men smoke opium,
though in other places there are not so many. In one city alone,
with 400,000 people in it, there are 2,700 opium shops, that is
one shop to 14:8 peo23le, and out of the 148 only about thirty would
be men, and the rest women and children. There are not many
women in China who smoke opium, compared with the number
of men who do, still I am sorry to say there are some. The
Chinese used to be the most sober people in the world, and now
they are fast becoming slaves to opium, which is taken by rich
and poor alike.

Why does not the Emperor make a law, you will say, that
the people are not to buy it ? So he has, but the law is never
kept, because the mandarins, who have to punish those who break
the laws, smoke opium themselves, and do nothing to others who
use it, because they know they would get into trouble themselves
if they did.

And yet the very men who take it are angry with themselves
for doing it, and say they would give anything to be saved from
it. They constantly come to the missionaries, begging them to
give them some medicine which will take away the longing for
opium, and the missionaries who speak the most strongly against
opium are those who are most loved and respected by the Chinese.

A Chinaman once went to the English Hospital at Swatow,
and asked to be cured of the habit of opium-smoking. He was a
learned man, but a great smoker ; he had got so used to having
opium, that he almost died when he gave it up, so, as the only
hope of saving his life, the doctor gave him back his opium pipe


and let him smoke again ; then he began to get better. As soon
as he felt his strength coming back, he asked the doctor to try
again, but the doctor said, " I have tried already, and you were
almost dead ; I cannot venture to try again." The poor man's
answer was, " Teacher, whether I live or whether I die, I want
you to try to cure me, I take all the risk." So the doctor tried
again, and this time the man was cured, though he suffered
terribly and was in great danger.

More than ten million pounds are spent every j'ear by the
Chinese on opium. And who do you think gets all the money ?
This is the saddest part of the whole thing, that although the
Chinese have asked again and again that opium may be kept out
of their country because it is ruining them, large quantities are
constantly forced upon them by England, because the money paid
for opium is paid to the British government in India, and rather
than give it up, they have even gone to war twice with China,
in 1840 and 1847, to make them take it, or rather to force the
emperor to give permission to the Chinese merchants to buy
opium of the English merchants in India, when the emperor and
all his people want to have a law forbidding opium to be bought
or sold in China, except in very small quantities for medicine.

It was in the year 1773 that opium was first taken to China
in large quantities, and ever since then the Chinese have used it
more and more. In 1776, a thousand chests were bought, in 1833
there were twenty thousand chests, costing more than three
million pounds, that is, more than China got from England for tea.
Opium merchants now settle in all parts of China. When a shop is
first opened in a town or village, it never gets on well, because the
people there have not learned to like opium, so the owner of
the shop gives away little bits and persuades the people to buy
it, and when once they try, they soon come back for more, and
get it very cheap at first, till they have got so fond of it, that they
are willing to buy it at any price, and so the evil habit spreads.

OPIUM. 273

You will not wonder that the Chinese are puzzled to know
how it is that the same country should send missionaries to teach


them a pure, holy religion, and opium to destroy hotli their bodies
and their souls. A Chinese ambassador said to an English gentle-
man a little while ago — '' You say that England is a more moral



country tlian China: why tlien does England insist upon onr taking
her opium ? " This question is constantly being asked of the
missionaries. Men say to them, "You tell us that Jesus taught
men to love others as well as themselves, and always to bear in
mind the golden rule, " Do to others what you would like thein
to do to you,' but every year you send opium to China, aud
injure millions of your fellow-creatures : when men only think of
what will profit themselves, and do not care how much harm they
do to other people, how can they be said to love others as them-
selves ? how can we believe and follow their religion ? "

Some people say to the Chinese — " Well, but you need not
smoke opium if we do sell it ; you are not obliged to buy it." To
this the Chinese reply : " If you will stop sending it from India,
the emperor will make a law that it shall not be made in China,
and then there will be none to smoke ; but so long as you keep
sending it to us, it will be of no use for the emperor to say it is not
to be made here ; the only difference that would make would be,
that we should buy it all from you, instead of some from you, and
some from each other."

Then others say — " If we do not sell opium to the Chinese,
there will not be enough money to keep up the Indian govern-
ment." I think the youngest of you would be able to answer tliat.
Wrong is wrong, even if good comes out of it. It is like a thief
saying, " I must steal, because if I don't, I shall die of bunger."
And after all, many wise people think that England would not
suffer at all by giving up the opium trade, because the fields that
are now used for growing poppies might be used for rice or cotton
or other things. And besides this, if the Chinese did not waste so
much money on opium, they would have more to spend on other
things made by English people. The money spent now on opium
by the Chinese is about as much as i\i^ Chinese get from England
for both tea and silk, so they have no money left to bay English

OP/VM. 275

A great statesmau, who died a few years ago, said that if we
were to add up all the money we had got frora China for forty
years for opium, we should find it had not come to anything like
so much as we had spent on the wars with China, caused hy our
trying to force opium upon them.

England loses in another way too. So much of the hest land
in India is given up to poppies, that there is not enough for rice
and other things for the people to eat, so there are often famines
in the parts of India where poppies are grown ; and it costs the
government a great many millions of money to feed the starving
people. Then the people in India where the opium is made are
beginning to smoke it, so that our own subjects are sinking lower
and lower, as well as the Chinese ; so you see we have lost
every way.

One more set of figures I must give you, and this will be the
last. In one year, quite lately, nearly nine million pounds were
paid by China to India for opium, and in the same 3'ear only
seventy thousand pounds were spent by England on missions
to China ; so is it any great wonder that the Chinese do not like
the English, and think we do them more harm than good ? Less
money is spent by England on missions to China in five years,
than is spent in England on beer and wine in one day ! For the
money spent in England in strong drink in one year is a hundred
and thirty-five million pounds ; that is very much more than the
Chinese spend in opium, and yet think what a little place England
is compared to China. There are five millions of people in England
who have said that they will never touch wine or beer or spirits,
because they see how much harm it does to people, and they want
by theii* example to do all they can to keep it from spreading any
further. If every boy or girl who reads this book will promise
never to drink these things, there will soon be more than five
million, and I think England will have a better right to tell the
Chinese not to take opium, when the English have given up using



things that are almost as bad. See if you can find a text which
shows that it is a good thing to give up drinking wine and beer.
Perhajos you will find more than one, so I will leave you a whole
line to put them in.

( )

You will be glad to know that a great many people in
England are trying very hard to get the Government to stop send-
ing opium to China. There is a society on purpose for this, that
you will see mentioned in the list at the end of the book. I have
often seen petitions to the parliament about it, prepared for
people to sign. I hope, when you are old enough for such things,
you will all sign them, and that till then you will often send in
a petition to a still higher government, the King of heaven and
earth, asking Him to help the people who are trying to stop it,
so that no country may have to say of us, that we go to it with the
Gospel in one hand, and destruction to soul and body in the other.




)W that you know so much about China and the
Chinese, I am sure you will be wondering what the
missionaries are doing for them, and how they are

getting on.

The first
were neither
Catholics sent

men who told the Chinese about Jesus
Protestants nor Englishmen, but Italian
Roman Catholics sent by the Pope. They got on very well
indeed, because they told the Chinese that even if they became
Christians, they might keep on worshipping their dead relations ;
and that is the part of their own religion which the Chinese think
more of than any other ; so they did not so much mind giving up
their belief in other things, if they might keep this. As you have
seen already, part of the Roman Catholic religion has got mixed up
with Buddhism, so that it does not make much difference to a
Buddhist if he becomes a Roman Catholic ; he worships saints
instead of gods, and eats meat ; that is nearly all.

It is only since the year 1800 that Protestant missionaries
have begun to go to China. The first that went was Dr. Morrison,
in 1807, and you may fancy a little, from what you have read,
what very hard work his was. First he had to learn the language,
and that was very difficult, and when he knew it he could not
teach the people much, because there were no words in Chinese
for the things he wanted to talk about ; so he had to make new
words, and even then the Chinese could not tell what the words


meaut, till tliey were explain ed to them. Dr. Morrison worked
very hard and prayed very much for China. By the time he had
been there seven years, he had managed to put all the New
Testament into Chinese, and four years later, with the help of
another gentleman who went to him from England, he finished the
whole Bible, and the British and Foreign Bible Society printed it
for him. Since then many better words have been made, and new
translations, so that it is not Dr. Morrison's Bible that is used in
China to-day.

When he had finished the Bible, Dr. Morrison wrote a
Chinese and English Dictionary ; I think that must have been
even more difficult than the Bible. He wrote books and tracts
too in Chinese, and he had a dispensary, where sick people might
come for medicine, so you see he worked very hard indeed. In
1821 he came home for a holiday, which he wanted very much,
and in 1826 he went back again, and preached and worked in
China for eight years more, and then he died ; and after all his
twenty-two years of hard work, he only knew of three or four
Chinese wdio had come to Jesus, and there was not one church or
school. But Dr. Morrison had opened the way for other mission-
aries, and interested English people in China, and made it easier
for them to learn the language, so that after he died other people
went to China, and now, fifty years later, there are thirty-two
different Protestant societies working in the Chinese Empire,
and nearly five hundred missionaries.

But what can five hundred missionaries do for three hundred
and sixty millions of people ? There would only be one missionary
for every seven hundred thousand people, even if the missionaries
were scattered all over the country ; but instead of that, most of
them are in the large cities and towns on the sea-coast ; and in
some parts in the inside of the country, away from the sea, there
is not so much as one missionary to two million people, so that
nearly thirty-three thousand Chinese die every day, without ever


liaviug heard of Jesus and His love. It is only lately that English
people have been allowed to live anywhere except at large sea-side
towns, but now missionaries are beginning to go all over the country,
especially those belonging to the " China Inland Mission," which
has sent missionaries into fifteen out of the eighteen Provinces.

But even of those Chinese who do hear, very few care, and
yon will be able to understand many reasons for this. Perhaps the
greatest reason of all is, that the Chinese dislike English people so
much, and because they dislike the English, they dislike their
religion. This dislike is most strongly felt on the sea-coast, where
most of the missionaries are, because it is there that most English
people live, and it is there that most opium is brought, so it is not
very strange that the Chinese should think that Christianity and
opium have something to do with each other, and that as the one
is all bad, the other cannot be very good.

Another difficulty is, that the Chinese think they are so much
better than any other people, that their religion must be better
than any other religion ; so though they will listen to preaching
out of curiosity to know what the barbarians' doctrine is, they will
not often even try to find out whether it is better than their own.
This is why people in the villages, where they are not so learned,
are often more ready to become Christians than those in
the towns.

But though the learned men will not listen thoughtfully to the
missionaries, they are nearly always ready to take books and
tracts ; so we cannot tell how many are reading and thinking
about Christianity, though nobody knows about them. A
gentleman was once travelling about in the middle of China, far
away from the sea, where there were no missionaries at all ; he
had been sent by the British and Foreign Bible Society to try to
sell Bibles and Testaments to the Chinese. One day he sold a
New Testament to a Chinaman, who took the book home and
began to read it ; he was so interested, that when the night came,


lie quite forgot to go to bed, but read straight on till the morning,
by which time he had just got to the end of St. Matthew. He
only stopped to eat, and then went back to his book, and hardly
left it till he had got right to the end. And then he thought he
had better tell someone else about it, so he invited all his friends
to his house, and read the book to them. They all hked it so
much, that they sent to ask a missionary to come and teach them,
and now there is quite a group of Christians in that place.

Think hciw uncomfortable it must be for the missionaries who
go to live in out-of-the-way places in China, with no nice houses
like we have here, and with quite different kinds of food to eat,
often with nowhere to sleep, except in those dreadful hotels that
yon have read about, with no doctor to come to them if they are
taken ill, and no trains to take letters to their friends, or to bring
letters from them, despised by all the people round them because
they are not Chinese, and perhaps hardly able to speak to the
peo23le, or to understand what the j^eople say to them, because
they do not know the language well enough.

A missionary in China is much more lonely than a missionary
in India, because there are not so many English people about, and
because travelling is so much slower and more difficult.

But if the missionaries love God and love the Chinese well
enough to suffer all this for the sake of telling the Chinese about
a God who loves them and a Saviour who died for them, don't you
think it ought to be very easy for you, even if you only love God
and the Chinese a very little bit, to go without some of the things
you like, for the sake of helping God to let the Chinese know
about the great Present God has given for them and for you
( ) ? Of course God could send angels from heaven

to preach to the Chinese if He liked, or He might put money
into the fishes' mouths ( ) for the missionaries, or send

them bread and meat by the birds, as he did to one missionary
long ago ( ) ; but He does not do this, because He



wants you to do the work for Him. Yon see it is not everything
we can do. We cannot make the world light in the morning and
dark at night ; we cannot make it rain or snow or freeze ; we
cannot make the flowers grow, or the corn or the trees ; so God
does all that for us ; but we can tell people about Jesus, and give
money to other people to go and tell those that we cannot get at
ourselves ; so God leaves this for us to do. How many of us
are doing it, I wonder ?

And what about the Chinese who do become Christians ?
They have a great many difficulties too. Chinamen often say
they would become Christians, if they might go on smoking opium
and working on Sundays. The Eoman Catholic missionaries let
them do this, but not the Protestant ; so if a man wants to be a
Protestant Christian, he must give up a great deal for Jesus' sake.
If he keeps a shop and shuts it on Sundays, he will lose many of
his customers, if not all, as they will choose rather to go to a shop
that is always open ; and if he has work in a government office, he
will rot be allowed to keep it and rest on Sunday. He will have to
give up worshipping his ancestors, and most likely all his friends
will hate and despise him for this, even if they do not take him to
the judge and get him punished.

One good thing that comes from this is, that there are very
few half-and-half Christians in China ; if a man loves God well
enough to give up his business and his father and mother, and
to be hated and despised by all his friends rather than disobey
God, he is pretty sure to be a real, earnest, working Christian.
Some of the Chinese Christians are paid by the missionaries to
teach in their schools, or to go about the country preaching ;
then their friends mock them and say they are only " rice
Christians," by which they mean that they have only become
Christians for the sake of what they can get by it ; yet a great
many Chinese Christian workers get no pay at all, but ask the
missionaries to let them work for nothing.


There is a special reason now why Christian people should
work harder than ever for China ; that is, that the Chinese are
beginning to leave their country in great numbers. Some of
them go to America, but others go to Sumatra, Java, Borneo,
the Philippine Islands, the Sandwich Islands, and many other
places where people from Europe cannot live, because the climate
makes them ill; but the Chinese can live there without getting
ill at all. Many go to live in Thibet and Mongolia and Manchuria,
where there are very, very few missionaries, so that if only the
Chinese were Christians, millions of other people would hear about
Jesus through them.

And the Chinese make good workers for Jesus too. One
day a missionary's servant was going through a part of the country
where he had not often been before, and he saw a crowd of men
at a httle distance, so he went up to them to see what was
happening. He soon found that it was a Chinaman talking to
Chinamen, so he listened to hear what he was speaking about,
and think how surprised he was to find that he w^as preaching
about Jesus ; of course the other men were listening as they never
would have listened to a " barbarian." When the address was
over", the servant went up to the man and asked him where he
had learned all this that he had been teaching, and the man
said he had often been to the misson chapel and listened to the
preaching of the missionary (the master of this servant) ; that he
had never spoken to anyone there, but that what he had heard
had led him to give up his false religion and to become a servant
of the true God. Afterwards the missionary found out that there
were three hundred others working in the same office with this
man, and that nearly all of them had heard from him about

And the zvomen of China, what is being done for them ?
There are ver}^, very few lady missionaries working amongst them,
only about a hundred altogether, besides the missionaries' wives,


ill all that great country, with its himdred and fifty millions of
women and girls. The gentlemen missionaries would speak to
the women if they could, hut no Chinese woman would ever
think of listening to a man talking in the street, and the men
would think it terrihly rude if a strange man were to sj)eak to fi
woman in the road ; so you see the only way in which the women
of China can ever hear of Jesus is by Christian women of other
countries, who know^ and love Him, going to them to tell them
of Him, and only this very small number have gone yet.

The poor women can very easily be got at ; they are nearly
always ready to listen, and are very pleased if English ladies
will go into their houses to speak to them, or open a room where
they may come together to hear of Jesus. The richer ladies,
who are kept shut up, are not so easily told about Him. Very
few rich houses have been visited yet by the missionary ladies,
and no lady would ever dare to go to one of them, unless the
master or mistress of the house invited her, which does not often
happen, never unless they have in some way got to know the
missionary lady and to like her. This is because foreigners are
so much disliked ; even tiny children are told dreadful stories of

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Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 16 of 18)