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Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

great eminence, viz., ammoniated tincture of valerian. Medical account,
therefore, of my emancipation I have not much to give, and even that little, as
managed by a man so ignorant of medicine as myself, would probably tend only
to mislead. At all events, it would be misplaced in this situation. The moral of the
narrative is addressed to the opium-eater, and therefore of necessity limited in its
application. If he is taught to fear and tremble, enough has been effected. But he
may say that the issue of my case is at least a proof that opium, after a
seventeen years' use and an eight years' abuse of its powers, may still be
renounced, and that HE may chance to bring to the task greater energy than I
did, or that with a stronger constitution than mine he may obtain the same results
with less. This may be true. I would not presume to measure the efforts of other
men by my own. I heartily wish him more energy. I wish him the same success.
Nevertheless, I had motives external to myself which he may unfortunately want,
and these supplied me with conscientious supports which mere personal
interests might fail to supply to a mind debilitated by opium.
Jeremy Taylor conjectures that it may be as painful to be born as to die. I think it
probable; and during the whole period of diminishing the opium I had the
torments of a man passing out of one mode of existence into another. The issue
was not death, but a sort of physical regeneration; and I may add that ever since,
at intervals, I have had a restoration of more than youthful spirits, though under
the pressure of difficulties which in a less happy state of mind I should have
called misfortunes.
One memorial of my former condition still remains--my dreams are not yet
perfectly calm; the dread swell and agitation of the storm have not wholly
subsided; the legions that encamped in them are drawing off, but not all
departed; my sleep is still tumultuous, and, like the gates of Paradise to our first
parents when looking back from afar, it is still (in the tremendous line of Milton)
With dreadful faces throng'd, and fiery arms.
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