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Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

occurred. We hear it reported of Dryden and of Fuseli, in modern times, that they
thought proper to eat raw meat for the sake of obtaining splendid dreams: how
much better for such a purpose to have eaten opium, which yet I do not
remember that any poet is recorded to have done, except the dramatist
Shadwell; and in ancient days Homer is I think rightly reputed to have known the
virtues of opium.
To my architecture succeeded dreams of lakes and silvery expanses of water:
these haunted me so much that I feared (though possibly it will appear ludicrous
to a medical man) that some dropsical state or tendency of the brain might thus
be making itself (to use a metaphysical word) OBJECTIVE; and the sentient
organ PROJECT itself as its own object. For two months I suffered greatly in my
head, a part of my bodily structure which had hitherto been so clear from all
touch or taint of weakness (physically I mean) that I used to say of it, as the last
Lord Orford said of his stomach, that it seemed likely to survive the rest of my
person. Till now I had never felt a headache even, or any the slightest pain,
except rheumatic pains caused by my own folly. However, I got over this attack,
though it must have been verging on something very dangerous.
The waters now changed their character--from translucent lakes shining like
mirrors they now became seas and oceans. And now came a tremendous
change, which, unfolding itself slowly like a scroll through many months,
promised an abiding torment; and in fact it never left me until the winding up of
my case. Hitherto the human face had mixed often in my dreams, but not
despotically nor with any special power of tormenting. But now that which I have
called the tyranny of the human face began to unfold itself. Perhaps some part of
my London life might be answerable for this. Be that as it may, now it was that
upon the rocking waters of the ocean the human face began to appear; the sea
appeared paved with innumerable faces upturned to the heavens--faces
imploring, wrathful, despairing, surged upwards by thousands, by myriads, by
generations, by centuries: my agitation was infinite; my mind tossed and surged
with the ocean.
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