13 JANUARY 1894, Page 3

The body of evidence now being taken in India as

to the .use of opium will, it seems clear, be strongly in favour of the harmlessness of the drug as compared with alcohol. This harmlessness, it should be observed, though as yet no evidence has been taken about it, is known to be due to the extreme refinement of the Indian article, due to a century of rigidly 'careful manufacture. Indian opium is, in fact, to the opium used in Europe, what claret is to whisky, and is therefore never employed in medicine in England. The two new facts which have come out in the inquiry, are the vast extent of the consumption—which in Lucktow,lor example, includes one- half of the Mussulman population—and the great political -danger which would attend prohibition. The people regard their opium as an innocent luxury, and would attribute its 4egal suppression to pure malice. Practical suppression is of course impossible. It has been tried in Lucknow, with the result that the eleven licensed shops were succeeded by sixty illicit houses.