Sir John Strachey’s *India: its Administration & Progress*

This is a fascinating and indeed highly readable book.  The third edition dates from 1903 but it is based on some 1884 lectures.  Here is one excerpt:

If the richer classes in China were deprived of Indian opium they would suffer as the richer classes in Europe would suffer if they were deprived of the choice vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy, or as tobacco-smokers would suffer if not more cigars were to come from Cuba.  In such a case, in our own country, the frequenters of public-houses would be conscious of no hardship, and the vast majority of the opium-smokers of China would be equally unconscious if they received no more opium from India [TC: China itself produced a lot of opium].  If, in deference to ignorant prejudice, India should be deprived of the revenue which she now obtains from opium, an act of folly and injustice would be perpetrated as gross as any that has ever been inflicted by a foreign Government on a subject country.  India now possesses the rare fortune of obtaining from one of her most useful products a large revenue without the imposition of taxes on her own people…

Recommended, especially if you like to discover what people were really thinking at the time.


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