Darkest India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 142 pages of information about Darkest India.
“The wide and spacious shops in front of which are strewn broken potsherds, and whose contents are two or three kegs and a pile of little pots; are the liquor-dealer’s establishments.  The groups of noisy men seated on the floor are drinking ardent spirits of the worst description absolutely forbidden to the British soldiers, but sold retail to natives at three farthings a gill.”

Mr. Caine goes on to say that in the city of Lucknow, with a population of some 300,000 inhabitants, there were in 1889 thirty distilleries of native spirits and 200 liquor-shops.  The Government exchequer receipts from spirits in the North-West Provinces amount to nearly L600,000, having doubled themselves during the last seven years.  This means that in round numbers L1,000,000 worth of native spirits is sold in these provinces per annum.

Now consider first that as a rule with rare exceptions a native of India who uses the fiery country liquors drinks for no other purpose than to become intoxicated.  They are manufactured with a view to this, and not as in Europe to provide a thirst-quenching potation.  Mr. Caine says:  “The people of India, unlike other people, only drink for the purpose of getting drunk, and if we make them drunken we destroy them more rapidly than by war, pestilence and famine.”

Nothing is clearer than that a rapidly increasing multitude in this country, once remarkable for its sobriety and thrift, are rushing headlong into the disastrous vice of intemperance and its attendant horrors, almost without check.  Something must be done.  We cannot cold-bloodedly abandon them to a gospel of despair.

(b) The Opium Slaves.

Darker still perhaps is the dreadful night, and more sickening the miasma, which lies around the opium creeks, multiplying and increasing and slowly sucking down into their slimy depths thousands upon thousands of those who dare to seek momentary relief from sorrow in its lethal stream.  Mr. Caine thus describes an opium den in Lucknow:—­

“Enter one of the side rooms.  It has no windows and is very dark, but in the centre is a small charcoal fire whose lurid glow lights up the faces of nine or ten human beings, men and women, lying on the floor.  A young girl some fifteen years of age has charge of each room, fans the fire, lights the opium pipe, and holds it in the mouth of the last comer, till the head falls heavily on the body of his or her predecessor.  In no East-end gin palace, in no lunatic or idiot asylum, will you see such horrible destruction of God’s image in the face of man, as appears in the countenances of those in the preliminary stage of opium drunkenness!  Here you, may see some handsome young married woman, nineteen or twenty years of age, sprawling, on the ground, her fine brown eyes flattened and dull with coming, stupor; and her lips drawn convulsively back from her glittering white teeth.  Here is a young girl sitting among a group of newly
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Darkest India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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