Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/106

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the pernicious habit of opium-smoking. Into the solemn subject of England's guilt in compelling the people of this great empire to permit the importation of the drug sixty years ago, I cannot now enter; but I would point out that the cultivation of the poppy is very largely on the increase in the Fukien province. A few years ago a field of these beautiful flowers, in which, alas! the deadly poison lies concealed, was almost a curiosity; now thousands of acres are bright with their hues, and there is scarcely a city whose wall is not surrounded with wide-stretching fields of what the Chinese call the "opium flower." The Fukienese are much addicted to opium-smoking, and whole villages may be found in the Foochow plain, once prosperous and flourishing, but now ruined and decayed through the introduction of this baneful drug. It is the easiest poison procurable, and as a consequence an opium suicide is a most common occurrence, the foreign doctor being generally called in too late for his services to be of any avail. One cannot help feeling saddened to know that the vessels which bring missionaries to China in their cabins, bring also in their holds chests of Indian opium. May the great Disposer of events soon gather this stone out of the way of the progress of Christ's Kingdom in this dark land. We do what we can to help those who are addicted to this debasing vice to free themselves from it, but not one in ten thousand of its victims can be reached by us, and they are passing away day by day unwept and unmourned.

It is said on good authority that Fukien is more adequately supplied with missionaries and Mission stations than any other part of this great empire, and lest our friends should think we are treading on each other's toes, and that there are no unoccupied cities in the province, I should like to point out that of the 47 counties into which Fukien is divided, only 27 are occupied by European missionaries, and several have never yet been entered at all. The idea, therefore, that a network of stations, in touch with each other, covers the province is a mistaken one. "There remaineth therefore much land to