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The New York Times July 1, 1890, p. 8



The long-prevalent impression that the people of the United States rank first among the nations in the spirit of enterprise must be modified in the light of the recently-discovered fact that the "unspeakable Turk" has unsuspected stores of the article bottled up under his tanned and inexpressive countenance. The fact was revealed by the journey of a Turk all the way from Smyrna to this city to set up the business of adulterating opium.

Immediately on his arrival he called on a member of the firm of McKesson & Robbins and proposed to start the business on the co-operative plan, he to furnish the experience and McKesson & Robbins the capital. It must have been a severe shock to his Oriental habits of thought when he was politely informed that he was in the wrong house for that kind of business. But he was not dismayed, and fortune was more than kind. After further search he fell in with a relative, who had preceded him to this country, and by the latter's help operations were immediately begun. The drug was materially increased in volume, but correspondingly reduced in strength, by the addition of liberal quantities of fig paste, colored with a decoction of yellow berries. The product of this new industry was placed upon the market at a very moderate price by a commission house outside of the drug trade, but in communication with the retail branch of it through the furnishing of kindred articles.

When the adulterated drug began to attract attention, which it quickly did, little difficulty was encountered in tracing the manufacture to its source, and although there was no law under which the offenders could be made to discontinue business or be punished, yet a very effectual remedy was found in exposure. This was employed with so much success that after a few months the adulterated article was practically unsalable, the new industry was paralyzed, and the gentleman from Smyrna retired in disgust to his native town. The collapse of this international venture insures to the people of this country the continued use of pure opium, as the precautions of the United States Government effectually prevent the importation of the adulterated article. It is said by authorities on the drug that the adulteration of opium cannot be detected except by analysis, and that special skill is required even in analyzing it.

[NOTE: The article from which this file was excerpted may include additional text and accompanying illustrations.]

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