« ForrigeFortsett »
up in a pint bottle: and peace of a pound, and Turkey eight: and, mind could be sent down in gallons thirdly, that if you eat a good deal by the mail coach. But, if I talk in of it, most probably you mustthis way, the reader will think I am do what is particularly disagreeable laughing: and I can assure him, that to any man of regular habits, viz. nobody will laugh long who deals die. * These weighty propositions much with opium: its pleasures even are, all and singular, true: I cannot are of a grave and solemn com- gainsay them: and truth ever was, plexion; and in his happiest state, and will be, commendable. But in the opium-eater cannot present him- these three theorems, I believe we have self in the character of l'Allegro: exhausted the stock of knowledge as even then, he speaks and thinks as yet accumulated by man on the subbecomes Íl Penseroso. Nevertheless, ject of opium. And therefore, worI have a very reprehensible way of thy doctors, as there seems to be jesting at times in the midst of my room for further discoveries, stand owu misery: and, unless when I am aside, and allow me to come forward checked by some more powerful feel and lecture on this matter. ings, I am afraid I shall be guilty of First, then, it is not so much affirmthis indecent practice even in these ed as taken for granted, by all who annals of suffering or enjoyment. ever mention opium, formally or inThe reader must allow a little to my cidentally, that it does, or can, proinfirm nature in this respect: and duce intoxication. Now, reader, aswith a few indulgences of that sort, sure yourself, meo periculo, that no I shall endeavour to be as grave, if quantity of opium ever did, or could not drowsy, as fits a theme like opium, intoxicate. As to the tincture of 80 anti-mercurial as it really is, and opium (commonly called laudamum) so drowsy as it is falsely reputed. that might certainly intoxicate if á
And, first, one word with respect man could bear to take enough of it ; to its bodily effects: for upon all that but why? because it contains so has been hitherto written on the sub- much proof spirit, and not because it ject of opium, whether by travellers contains so much opium. But crude in Turkey (who may plead their pri- opium, I affirm peremptorily, is incavilege of lying as an old immemorial pable of producing any state of body right), or by professors of medicine, at all resembling that which is prowriting ex cathedra,--I have but one duced by alcohol; and not in degree emphatic criticism to pronounce- only incapable, but even in kind :: Lies ! lies! lies! I remember once, it is not in the quantity of its effects in passing a book-stall, to have merely, but in the quality, that it caught these words from a page of differs altogether. The pleasure some satiric author :-“ By this time given by wine is always mounting, I became convinced that the London and tending to a crisis, after which newspapers spoke truth at least twice it declines : that from opium, when a week, viz. on Tuesday and Sa once generated, is stationary for turday, and might safely be depend- eight or ten hours: the first, to bored upon for -the list of bank- row a technical distinction from merupts." In like manner, I do hy dicine, is a case of acute the second, no means deny that some truths have of chronic pleasure: the one is a been delivered to the world in regard fame, the other a steady and equable to opium : thus it has been repeated- glow. But the main distinction lies ly affirmed by the learned, that in this, that whereas wine disorders opium is a dusky brown in colour; the mental faculties, opium, on the and this, take notice, I grant: se- contrary (if taken in a proper mancondly, that it is rather dear; which ner), introduces amongst them the also I grant : for in my time, East- most exquisite order, legislation, and India opium has been three guineas harmony. Wine robs a man of his
Of this, however, the learned appear latterly to have doubted : for in a pirated edition of Buchan's Domestic Medicine, which I once saw in the hands of a farmer's wife who was studying it for the benefit of her health, the Doctor was made to say — Be particularly careful never to take above five-and-twenty ounces of laudanum at once ;' the true reading being probably five and twenty drops, which are held equal to about one grain of crude opium.
self-possession: opium greatly in- brightened and intensified the convigorates it. Wine unsettles and sciousness—and gave to the mind a clouds the judgment, and gives a pre feeling of being ponderibus librata ternatural brightness, and a vivid suis:" and certainly it is most abexaltation to the contempts and the surdly said, in popular language, admirations, the loves and the ha- of any man, that he is disguised in treds, of the drinker : opium, on liquor: for, on the contrary, most the contrary, communicates serenity men are disguised by sobriety; and and equipoise to all the faculties, it is when they are drinking (as some -active or passive: and with respect old gentleman says in Athenæus), to the temper and moral feelings in that men arlès éu avicuou oitures siglo general, it gives simply that sort display themselves in their true comof vital warmth which is approved plexion of character; which surely by the judgment, and which would is not disguising themselves. But probably always accompany a bodily still, wine constantly leads a man to constitution of primeval or antedilu- the brink of absurdity and extrava. vian health. Thus, for instance, gance; and, beyond a certain point, opium, like winė, gives an expan- it is sure to volatilize and to disperse sion to the heart and the benevolent the intellectual energies : whereas affections: but then, with this re- opium always seems to compose what markable difference, that in the sud- had been agitated, and to concenden developement of kind-hearted- trate what had been distracted. In ness which accompanies inebriation, short, to sum up all in one word, a there is always more or less of a man who is inebriated, or tending maudlin character, which exposes it to inebriation, is, and feels that he to the contempt of the by-stander. is, in a condition which calls up into Men shake hands, swear eternal supremacy the merely human, too friendship, and shed tears—10 more often the brutal, part of his nature: tal knows why: and the sensual but the opium-eater (I speak of him .creature is clearly uppermost. But who is not suffering from any disthe expansion of the benigner feel- ease, or other remote effects of ings, incident to opium, is no febrile opium) feels that the diviner part access, but a healthy restoration to of his nature is paramount; that is, that state which the mind would the moral affections are in a state of naturally recover upon the removal cloudless serenity; and over all is the of any deep-seated irritation of pain great light of the majestic intellect. that had disturbed and quarrelled This is the doctrine of the true with the impulses of a heart origin- church on the subject of opium : of ally just and good. True it is, which church I acknowledge myself that even wine, up to a certain point, to be the only member- the alpha and with certain men, rather tends and the omega: but then it is to be to exalt and to steady the intellect: recollected, that I speak from the I myself, who have never been a ground of a large and profound pergreat wine-drinker, used to find that sonal experience: whereas most of half a dozen glasses of wine advan- the unscientific authors who have tageously affected the faculties at all treated of opium, and even of
Amongst the great herd of travellers, &c. who show sufficiently by their stupidity that they never held any intercourse with opium, I must caution my reader specially against the brilliant author of “ Anastasius.” This gentleman, whose wit would lead one to presume him an opium-eater, has made it impossible to consider him in that character from the grievous misrepresentation which he gives of its effects, at p. 215 -17, of vol. 1.Upon consideration, it must appear such to the author himself: for, waiving the errors I have insisted on in the text, which (and others) are adopted in the fullest manner, he will himself admit, that an old gentleman “ with a snow-white beard,” who eats “ ample doses of opium,” and is yet able to deliver what is meant and received as very weighty counsel on the bad effects of that practice, is but an indifferent evidence that opium either kills people prematurely, or sends them into a mad. house. But, for my part, I see into this old gentleman and his motives : the fact is, he was enamoured of the little golden receptacle of the pernicious drug” which Anastasius carried about him ; and no way of obtaining it so safe and so feasible occurred, as that of frightening its owner out of his wits (which, by the bye, are none of the strongest). This commentary throws a new light upon the case, and greatly improves it as a story: for the old gentleman's specch, considered as a lecture on pharmacy, is highly absurd: but, considered as a hoax on Anastasius, it reads excellently,
those who have written expressly on on a logical error of using the word the materia medica, make it evident, intoxication with too great latitude, from the horror they express of it, and extending it generically to all that their experimental knowledge modes of nervous excitement, instead of its action is none at all. I will, of restricting it as the expression for however, candidly acknowledge that a specific sort of excitement, conI have met with one person who nected with certain diagnostics. bore evidence to its intoxicating Some people have maintained, in my power, such as staggered my own hearing, that they had been drunk incredulity: for he was a surgeon, upon green tea : and a medical stuand had himself taken opium largely. dent in London, for whose knowI happened to say to him, that his ledge in his profession I have reason enemies (as I had heard) charged to feel great respect, assured me, the him with talking nonsense on poli- other day, that a patient, in recovertics, and that his friends apologized ing from an illness, had got drunk for him, by suggesting that he was on a beef-steak. constantly in a state of intoxication Having dwelt so much on this from opium. Now the accusation, first and leading error, in respect to said I, is not primâ facie, and of ne- opium, I shall notice very briefly a cessity, an absurd one: but the defence second and a third; which are, that is. To my surprise, however, he in- the elevation of spirits produced by sisted that botli his enemies and his opium is necessarily followed by a friends were in the right: “I will proportionate depression, and that maintain,” said he, “ that I do talk the natural and even immediate connonsense ; and secondly, I will main- sequence of opium is torpor and tain that I do not talk nonsense upon stagnation, animal and mental. The principle, or with any view to profit, first of these errors I shall content but solely and simply, said he, solely myself with simply denying; assurand simply,--solely and simply (re- ing my reader, that for ten years, peating it three times over), because during which I took opium at interI am drunk with opium; and that vals, the day succeeding to that on daily." I replied that, as to the which I allowed myself this luxury allegation of his enemies, as it seem was always a day of unusually good ed to be established upon such re- spirits. spectable testimony, seeing that the With respect to the torpor supthree parties concerned all agreed in posed to follow, or rather (if we it, it did not become me to question were to credit the numerous pictures it; but the defence set up I must of Turkish opium-eaters) to accomdemur to. He proceeded to discuss pany the practice of opium-eating, I the matter, and to lay down his rea- deny that also. Certainly, opium is sons: but it seemed to me so impo- classed under the head of narcotics; lite to pursue an argument which and some such effect it may produce must have presumed a man mistaken in the end : but the primary effects of in a point belonging to his own pro- opium are always, and in the highest fession, that I did not press him even degree, to excite and stimulate the when his course of argument seemed system : this first stage of its action open to objection: not to mention always lasted with me, during my that a man who talks nonsense, even noviciate, for upwards of eight hours; though “ with no view to profit," so that it must be the fault of the is not altogether the most agreeable opium-eater himself if he does not partner in a dispute, whether as op so time his exhibition of the dose (to ponent or respondent. I confess, speak medically) as that the whole however, that the authority of a weight of its narcotic influence may surgeon, and one who was reputed descend upon his sleep. Turkish a good one, may seein a weighty opium-eaters, it seems, are absurd oue to my prejudice : but still I must enough to sit,' like so many equesplead my experience, which was trian statues, on logs of wood as greater than his greatest by 7000 stupid as themselves. But that the drops a day; and, though it was not reader may judge of the degree in possible to suppose a medical man which opium is likely to stupify the unacquainted with the characteristic faculties of an Englishman, I shall symptoms of vinous intoxication, it (by way of treating the question ilyet struck me that he might proceed lustratively, rather than argumenta
tively) describe the way in which I terlude, as she often did, and poured myself often passed an opium even- forth her passionate soul as Androing in London, during the period mache, at the tomb of Hector, &c. between 1804-1812. It will be I question whether any Turk, of all seen, that at least opium did not that ever entered the Paradise of move me to seek solitude, and much opium-eaters, can have had half the less to seek inactivity, or the torpid pleasure I had. But, indeed, I hostate of self-involution ascribed to nour the Barbarians too much by the Turks. I give this account at supposing them capable of any plea-" the risk of being pronounced a crazy sures approaching to the intellecenthusiast or visionary: but I re- tual ones of an Englishman. For gard that little: I must desire my music is an intellectual or a sensual reader to bear in mind, that I was pleasure, according to the temperaa hard student, and at severe studies ment of him who hears it. And, by for all the rest of my time: and cer the bye, with the exception of the tainly I had a right occasionally to fine extravaganza on that subject in relaxations as well as other people: Twelfth Night, I do not recollect these, however, I allowed myself but more than one thing said adequately seldom.
on the subject of music in all literaThe late Duke of — used to say, ture: it is a passage in the Religio “ Next Friday, by the blessing of Medici* of Sir T. Brown; and, Heaven, I purpose to be drunk: though chiefly remarkable for its and in like manner I used to fix be- sublimity, has also a philosophic vaforehand how often, within a given lue, inasmuch as it points to the time, and when, I would commit a true theory of musical effects. The debauch of opium. This was seldom mistake of most people is to supmore than once in three weeks: for pose that it is by the ear they comat that time I could not have ven- municate with music, and, therefore, tured to call every day (as I did that they are purely passive to its afterwards) for “a glass of laudanum effects. 'But this is not so: it is by negus, warm, and without sugar." No: the re-action of the mind upon the as I have said, I seldom drank lau- notices of the ear, (the matter comdanum, at that time, more than once ing by the senses, the form from in three weeks: this was usually on the mind) that the pleasure is cona Tuesday or a Saturday night; my structed: and therefore it is that reason for which was this. In those people of equally good ear differ so days Grassini sang at the Opera: and much in this point from one another. her voice was delightful to me be- Now opium, by, greatly increasing yond all that I had ever heard. I the activity of the mind generally, know not what may be the state of increases, of necessity, that particu. the Opera-house now, having never Jar mode of its activity by which we been within its walls for seven or are able to construct out of the raw eight years, but at that time it was by material of organic sound an elabomuch the most pleasant place of rate intellectual pleasure. But, says a public resort in London for passing friend, a succession of musical sounds an evening. Five shillings admitted is to me like a collection of Arabic one to the gallery, which was sub- characters: I can attach no ideas to ject to far less annoyance than the them. Ideas ! my good sir? there pit of the theatres : the orchestra is no occasion for them: all that was distinguished by its sweet and class of ideas, which can be available melodious grandeur from all English in such a case, has a language of orchestras, the composition of which, representative feelings. " But this is I confess, is not acceptable to my a subject foreign to my present purear, from the predominance of the poses : it is sufficient to say, that a clangorous instruments, and the ab- chorus, &c. of elaborate harmony, solute tyranny of the violin. The displayed before me, as in a piece choruses were divine to hear : and of arras work, the whole of my past. when Grassini appeared in some in- life--not, as if recalled by an act of
I have not the book at this moment to consult : but I think the passage begins-“ And even that tavern music, which makes one man merry, another mad, in me strikes a deep fit of devotion," &c.
memory, but as if present and incar- pleasures of the poor, their consolanated in the music: no longer pain- tions of spirit, and their reposes from ful to dwell upon: but the detail of bodily toil, can never become opits incidents removed, or blended in pressive to contemplate. Now Sasome hazy abstraction; and its pas- turday night is the season for the sions exalted, spiritualized, and sub- chief, regular, and periodic return limed. All this was to be had for of rest to the poor: in this point five shillings. And over and above the most hostile sects unite, and acthe music of the stage and the ore knowledge a common link of brochestra, I had all around me, in therhood : almost all Christendom the intervals of the performance, the rests from its labours. It is a rest music of the Italian language talked introductory to another rest : and by Italian women : for the gallery was divided by a whole day and two usually crowded with Italians: and nights from the renewal of toil. On I listened with a pleasure such as that this account I feel always, on a Sac with which Weld the traveller lay turday night, as though I also were and listened, in Canada, to the sweet released from some yoke of labour, laughter of Indian women; for the had some wages to receive, and some less you understand of a language, luxury of repose to enjoy. For the the more sensible you are to the sake, therefore, of witnessing, upon melody or harshness of its sounds : as large a scale as possible, a specfor such a purpose, therefore, it was tacle with which my sympathy was. an advantage to me that I was a so entire, I used often, on Saturday poor Italian scholar, reading it but nights, after I had taken opium, to little, and not speaking it at all, wander forth, without much regardnor understanding a tenth part of ing the direction or the distance, to what I heard spoken.
all the markets, and other parts of These were my Opera pleasures : London, to which the poor resort on but another pleasure I had which, a Saturday night, for laying out as it could be had only on a Sa- their wages. Many a family party, turday night, occasionally struggled consisting of a man, his wife, and with my love of the Opera ; for, at sometimes one or two of his chilthat time, Tuesday and Saturday dren, have I listened to, as they were the regular Opera nights. On stood consulting on their ways and this subject I am afraid I shall be means, or the strength of their exrather obscure, but, I can assure chequer, or the price of household the reader, not at all more so than articles. Gradually I became famiMarinus in his life of Proclus, or many liar with their wishes, their difficulother biographers and auto-biogra- ties, and their opinions. Sometimes phers of fair reputation. This plea- there might be heard murmurs of sure, I have said, was to be had only discontent: but far oftener expreson a Saturday night. What then was sions on the countenance, or uttered Saturday night to me more than any in words, of patience, hope, and tranother night? I had no labours that 1 quillity. And taken generally, I must rested from; no wages to receive: say, that, in this point at least, the what needed I to care for Saturday poor are far more philosophic than the night, more than as it was a sum- richấthat they show a more ready and mons to hear Grassini ? True, most cheerful submission to what they conlogical reader: what you say is un- sider as irremediable evils, or irreanswerable. And yet so it was and parable losses. Whenever I saw oce is, that, whereas different men throw casion, or could do it without aptheir feelings into different channels, pearing to be intrusive, I joined their and most are apt to show their in- parties ; and gave my opinion upon terest in the concerns of the poor, the matter in discussion, which, if chiefly by sympathy, expressed in not always judicious, was always some shape or other, with their dis- received indulgently. If wages were tresses and sorrows, I, at that time, a little higher, or expected to be so, was disposed to express my interest or the quartern loaf a little lower, by sympathising with their plea- or it was reported that onions and sures. The pains of poverty I had butter were expected to fall, I was lately scen too much of; more than glad : yet, if the contrary were true, I wished to remember: but the I drew from opium some means of