Confessions of an English Opium-Eater HTML version

From the "London Magazine" for December 1822.
The interest excited by the two papers bearing this title, in our numbers for
September and October 1821, will have kept our promise of a Third Part fresh in
the remembrance of our readers. That we are still unable to fulfil our engagement
in its original meaning will, we, are sure, be matter of regret to them as to
ourselves, especially when they have perused the following affecting narrative. It
was composed for the purpose of being appended to an edition of the
Confessions in a separate volume, which is already before the public, and we
have reprinted it entire, that our subscribers may be in possession of the whole of
this extraordinary history.
The proprietors of this little work having determined on reprinting it, some
explanation seems called for, to account for the non- appearance of a third part
promised in the London Magazine of December last; and the more so because
the proprietors, under whose guarantee that promise was issued, might
otherwise be implicated in the blame--little or much--attached to its non-fulfilment.
This blame, in mere justice, the author takes wholly upon himself. What may be
the exact amount of the guilt which he thus appropriates is a very dark question
to his own judgment, and not much illuminated by any of the masters in casuistry
whom he has consulted on the occasion. On the one hand it seems generally
agreed that a promise is binding in the inverse ratio of the numbers to whom it is
made; for which reason it is that we see many persons break promises without
scruple that are made to a whole nation, who keep their faith religiously in all
private engagements, breaches of promise towards the stronger party being
committed at a man's own peril; on the other hand, the only parties interested in
the promises of an author are his readers, and these it is a point of modesty in
any author to believe as few as possible--or perhaps only one, in which case any
promise imposes a sanctity of moral obligation which it is shocking to think of.
Casuistry dismissed, however, the author throws himself on the indulgent
consideration of all who may conceive themselves aggrieved by his delay, in the
following account of his own condition from the end of last year, when the
engagement was made, up nearly to the present time. For any purpose of self-
excuse it might be sufficient to say that intolerable bodily suffering had totally
disabled him for almost any exertion of mind, more especially for such as
demands and presupposes a pleasurable and genial state of feeling; but, as a
case that may by possibility contribute a trifle to the medical history of opium, in a
further stage of its action than can often have been brought under the notice of
professional men, he has judged that it might be acceptable to some readers to
have it described more at length. Fiat experimentum in corpore vili is a just rule
where there is any reasonable presumption of benefit to arise on a large scale.
What the benefit may be will admit of a doubt, but there can be none as to the
value of the body; for a more worthless body than his own the author is free to
confess cannot be. It is his pride to believe that it is the very ideal of a base,
crazy, despicable human system, that hardly ever could have been meant to be