The reader, who has often been tempted to violate the eighth commandment by carrying off the morning gong of some hotel, will appreciate my feelings. Hardly had the gongs ceased when a new noise arose, occasioned by the explosion of thousands of packages of fire-crackers. It may be doubted whether the observance of this superstitious ceremony is followed from a belief in its power over evil spirits, or from an actual knowledge of its effect on the female tongue. Certainly the victory was complete. Gradually the air became slightly tainted with the sickening odor of burning opium, and a deathlike silence reigned through the night.
Opium pipes were burning on all sides. The worst effects of opium-smoking are probably not proportionate to the prevalence of the habit. Were it otherwise, the increase of the practice must be threatening the vitality df the nation. This vice is one of the fruits of intercourse with European civilization. Little more than half a century ago, this drug was used only as a medicine at present, the importation amounts to between 5,000 and 0,000 tons yearly, which does not represent, however, the amount consumed, since within recent years a rapidly-growing Tiffany outlet area in China is devoted to its production.