SUPPRESSION OF THE OPIUM TRADE
TAIT, Archibald Campbell (1811–1882), archbishop of Canterbury. Autograph letter on mourning paper signed A.C.Canterbury [as Archbishop of Canterbury], 3 sides, 8vo, Addington Park, Croydon, Dec 19th 1879, to The Rev. The Secretary Anglo-Oriental Socy. for Suppression of the Opium Trade, thanking him for his letter of the 18th "enclosing a copy of an Address to the Electors of the United Kingdom on the subject of the Opium Trade "which you asked me to sign ........ This however, I think it would hardly be becoming in me to do. Much as I regret the evil which the opium trade causes, I do not feel that I ought to come forward, in the way you propose, in a matter connected with the approaching election". Fragments of red paper seal at two corners.
The Anglo-Oriental Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade was founded in London in November 1874, and quickly attracted the patronage of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Society's request referred to in this letter was apparently however, a step too far. In the following spring (1880) Disraeli and the Conservatives lost the general election, and the Liberals returned under Gladstone, giving the reformers (most of whom were Liberal supporters) hope for their campaign. Tait re-affirmed his support, but died in 1882. Ten years later, Gladstone, faced with growing pressure for reform, agreed to a public inquiry, but it was not until 1905 that parliament, under another Liberal government, finally and overwhelmingly supported the abolition of the opium trade.