to Mr. Evarts.
Peking, December 3, 1880. (Received January 31, 1881.)
Sir: After the departure of the two commissioners, my colleagues, I received from Mr. William N. Pethick, of Tien-tsin, a letter which contains some interesting statements addressed to the commission. I have thought it well to forward you a copy.
Mr. Pethick’s views are of interest, not only because of his intelligence and his long residence in China, during a portion of which he has held official positions under our government, but especially because of his close and confidential, perhaps we may say official or semi-official, relations with Li-Hung Chang, the grand secretary and viceroy of this province. It is by no means a violent presumption that Mr. Pethick’s letter reflects the views of the viceroy, and so gains a value which makes it worthy of transmission to you.
Moreover, the figures which he gives in elucidation of the disastrous influence of the opium trade in China, in a purely commercial point of view, are very impressive. When we see that China pays more for opium annually than she receives for her whole exportation of silk, or than she receives for her whole crop of tea, we can understand why intelligent Chinese statesman, like the viceroy of this province, regarding the importation only as a business transaction, deeply regret it.[Page 217]
But no figures can give even an approximate idea of the ruinous effects upon the health and the demoralizing effects upon the character which are produced by the rapidly increasing use of opium in this empire. One must live here and see the wretched condition of the victims of the drug to appreciate what a curse it is to this nation. It is a matter of congratulation that so few of our citizens suffer themselves to be engaged at all in its importation or sale.
In this connection I beg leave to refer you to Mr. Low’s dispatch No. 46, of January 10, 1871, which contains some very interesting statistics and comments on the subject.
I have, &c.,