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Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

by crocodiles; and laid, confounded with all unutterable slimy things, amongst
reeds and Nilotic mud.
I thus give the reader some slight abstraction of my Oriental dreams, which
always filled me with such amazement at the monstrous scenery that horror
seemed absorbed for a while in sheer astonishment. Sooner or later came a
reflux of feeling that swallowed up the astonishment, and left me not so much in
terror as in hatred and abomination of what I saw. Over every form, and threat,
and punishment, and dim sightless incarceration, brooded a sense of eternity
and infinity that drove me into an oppression as of madness. Into these dreams
only it was, with one or two slight exceptions, that any circumstances of physical
horror entered. All before had been moral and spiritual terrors. But here the main
agents were ugly birds, or snakes, or crocodiles; especially the last. The cursed
crocodile became to me the object of more horror than almost all the rest. I was
compelled to live with him, and (as was always the case almost in my dreams)
for centuries. I escaped sometimes, and found myself in Chinese houses, with
cane tables, &c. All the feet of the tables, sofas, &c., soon became instinct with
life: the abominable head of the crocodile, and his leering eyes, looked out at me,
multiplied into a thousand repetitions; and I stood loathing and fascinated. And so
often did this hideous reptile haunt my dreams that many times the very same
dream was broken up in the very same way: I heard gentle voices speaking to
me (I hear everything when I am sleeping), and instantly I awoke. It was broad
noon, and my children were standing, hand in hand, at my bedside--come to
show me their coloured shoes, or new frocks, or to let me see them dressed for
going out. I protest that so awful was the transition from the damned crocodile,
and the other unutterable monsters and abortions of my dreams, to the sight of
innocent HUMAN natures and of infancy, that in the mighty and sudden revulsion
of mind I wept, and could not forbear it, as I kissed their faces.
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