Confessions of an English Opium-Eater HTML version

Introduction To The Pains Of Opium
Courteous, and I hope indulgent, reader (for all MY readers must be indulgent ones, or
else I fear I shall shock them too much to count on their courtesy), having accompanied
me thus far, now let me request you to move onwards for about eight years; that is to say,
from 1804 (when I have said that my acquaintance with opium first began) to 1812. The
years of academic life are now over and gone-- almost forgotten; the student's cap no
longer presses my temples; if my cap exist at all, it presses those of some youthful
scholar, I trust, as happy as myself, and as passionate a lover of knowledge. My gown is
by this time, I dare say, in the same condition with many thousand excellent books in the
Bodleian, viz., diligently perused by certain studious moths and worms; or departed,
however (which is all that I know of his fate), to that great reservoir of SOMEWHERE to
which all the tea-cups, tea-caddies, tea-pots, tea-kettles, &c., have departed (not to speak
of still frailer vessels, such as glasses, decanters, bed-makers, &c.), which occasional
resemblances in the present generation of tea-cups, &c., remind me of having once
possessed, but of whose departure and final fate I, in common with most gownsmen of
either university, could give, I suspect, but an obscure and conjectural history. The
persecutions of the chapel- bell, sounding its unwelcome summons to six o'clock matins,
interrupts my slumbers no longer, the porter who rang it, upon whose beautiful nose
(bronze, inlaid with copper) I wrote, in retaliation so many Greek epigrams whilst I was
dressing, is dead, and has ceased to disturb anybody; and I, and many others who suffered
much from his tintinnabulous propensities, have now agreed to overlook his errors, and
have forgiven him. Even with the bell I am now in charity; it rings, I suppose, as
formerly, thrice a-day, and cruelly annoys, I doubt not, many worthy gentlemen,
and disturbs their peace of mind; but as to me, in this year 1812, I regard its
treacherous voice no longer (treacherous I call it, for, by some refinement of
malice, it spoke in as sweet and silvery tones as if it had been inviting one to a
party); its tones have no longer, indeed, power to reach me, let the wind sit as
favourable as the malice of the bell itself could wish, for I am 250 miles away
from it, and buried in the depth of mountains. And what am I doing among the
mountains? Taking opium. Yes; but what else? Why reader, in 1812, the year we
are now arrived at, as well as for some years previous, I have been chiefly
studying German metaphysics in the writings of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, &c. And
how and in what manner do I live?--in short, what class or description of men do I
belong to? I am at this period--viz. in 1812--living in a cottage and with a single
female servant (honi soit qui mal y pense), who amongst my neighbours passes
by the name of my "housekeeper." And as a scholar and a man of learned
education, and in that sense a gentleman, I may presume to class myself as an
unworthy member of that indefinite body called GENTLEMEN. Partly on the
ground I have assigned perhaps, partly because from my having no visible
calling or business, it is rightly judged that I must be living on my private fortune; I