Thoughts On Coca, Cannabis, Opium & Tobacco – Gifts Of The Great Spirit

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The Physiological Action Of Opium

(From) “Opium And The Opium Appetite”, by Alonzo Calkins, MD (1870)

Chapter VI: The Physiological Action Of Opium

“Impia sub dulci melle venena latent.” – Catullus.

“A dance of spirits, a mere froth of joy, That mantling high, now sparkles, now expires, Leaving the soul more vapid than before.” – Young.

Opium exerts its stimulative action in a twofold direction; upon the body, and upon the mind. The earliest ab-interiori impression is an indisposition to locomotion and an inaptitude to exertion every way. Muscular play, whatever there is of it, seems fortuitous rather than determinative, the lower propensities abate their intensive force and settle into torpidity, and the physical state is that of an automatic inertia. The will too, “that power triumphant where it dares,” lapses into a careless quiescence, the dormancy of reverie.

The transformations wrought upon the intellectual sense and the emotional susceptibilities during the opium-paroxysm partake indeed of the marvellous. The volitional faculty, that primum-mobile of the intellectual man, having shrunk into a mere passivity, judgment the balance wheel, now swayed this way and that in the conflict between the centripetal and centrifugal forces reason and imagination, is jolted. Opium, from its pivot-poise, and the soul now disenthralled from terrene clogs is wafted away upon fancy’s exultant pennons as by an electric rebound.

“Winging its flight from star to star, from world to luminous world, as far as the universe spreads its flaming wall,” to traverse if it may find some empyrean of a more ethereal and enrapturing entrancement than dull earth affords. The vision is as of some fairy mirage, without the tantalizing sense of vacuity, without the vapid disrelish arising from satiety.

Illustrative of this spiritual metamorphosis is the recorded experience of the hospital patient Mr. B.:

“Opium intensifies all the capacities for thought, with all the emotional capabilities; lifting the man to a higher plane of existence, where he may enjoy in panoramic perspective as it were, illusions no longer negations in seeming but veritable realities rather. The votary has now become a child in sensibility, a youth full-grown in vividness and splendor of conception, a more than man in copiousness of ideas and grasp of thought.”

The emotional developments are as novel and incongruous as are the proper conceptual creations. Querulousness and irascibility, though native to the man, recede for a space and give transient place to an amiable self-complacency, a self-satisfied disposition that would maintain accord with everybody and everything. Flashy wit in turgid declamation (the “rauca garrulitas”) here breaks out, to expire perchance even in the very utterance.

Another scenic “Paradise of Fools” has opened to the view; yet through all these transitional stages of rhapsodic exaltations and ephemeral inanities, the sense of personal identity is at no stage altogether effaced.

A few hours at the longest having lapsed, sleep begins. This may for a brief space be profound and death-like, a “consanguineus leti sopor,” as indicated by stertor and a dropping of the nether jaw, or it may be unquiet and fugitive at best, a hurried slumbering merely. The pattamaras (letter-carriers) on their journeys from Lahore, having reached their halting-stations, drop at once into a slumber which is profound only in the appearance; woe to the wayfarer who carelessly disturbs them! Not like the sleep on whose inventor the Governor of Barataria so piously invokes a blessing is this opium sleep, but rather a fitful yet oppressive somnolence, that leaves behind an aching brain, a fevered throat, and a languor and depression paralyzing to the whole body.

In sleep (but not with all) comes the dream. This, as if through some, spontaneity of working, takes shape and coloring less or more from the occupations and the musings of the day just gone, when, however, the “ruling passion,” under all diversities “Simulacra lacessunt Haec eadem animos nostros, quae cum vigilamus.” – Lucretius, of temperament or bias, is sure to come uppermost. The gamester is shuffling his cards once more, the stump orator boils over in vociferous harangue, the miser gloats again over his coffered hivings, the gourmand renews the feast at tables laden with appetizing viands, the castle-builder awakes to raptures anew, in a “chateau d’Espagne” his fancy has reared and decorated, the enthusiast devotee bending before Superstition’s shrine, hails in rapturous ejaculation the paradise o£ his dream where hope shall be exhausted in fruition.

Here too, libertinage finds its congenial atmosphere, but in enjoyments “linguae reticenda modestae,” for “Les sensations d’un tel reveur sur l’appareil genitale sont non-seulement voluptueuses, mais en rapport avec les tendences habituelles” (Libermann).

Such in its “best estate” is the virginal paroxysm of the opium-dreamer; a spasmodic ecstasy, an illusory enchantment, which in the recurrence becomes toned down to what has been termed a “static equilibrium, that can never be transcended again by any effort or device”.

The Bazaars and shops present a various and altogether a very repulsive picture. In a company some may be absorbed in their reveries and incognizant of the scenes around them; others grow mirthful and loquacious, breaking out into cachinnations the most absurd, and all because they cannot help it; others again, with pallid face and shrunken lips, are earnestly waiting in expectation of that excitement that shall dispel care and melancholy, and make them for a season oblivious of themselves.

Fatuity bordering on idiocy is the prominent feature around. Madden, on making acquaintance with the theriakis, remarked the glassy lustre and the incessant agitation of their eyes, the flushy hue of face, the swaying to and fro of the body in its unsteadiness, the ridiculous incoherency of their talk, and the extravagance of their maladroit gesticulations.

In the New Court, London, the camp-ground of a colony of foreigners, Chinese, Bengalese, Greeks, and others, is one of these opium dens under the direction of Ya-Hi, a man eighty-years old and himself an inveterate smoker, who makes the ordering of the nightly entertainment. Here in a close room styled “the Divan” the air of which is enough to stifle a stranger, may be seen numerous visitors arranged squat around the tea trays upon which their pipe-bowls rest, now indulging in vapid twaddle, now relapsing into idiotic mutterings, with the accompaniment of a motion of the lower jaw, sheep-fashion, or all may be quiet for the time, ready to break into mirthful extravagance at any instant – and for any or no cause. These people confess their willingness to work all day for procuring the furtive but fugitive enjoyment this receptacle holds out for the night.

Certain amateur explorers in the mines of experiment – all of course having specially in view “the general weal,” have recorded their sensations from making trial of opium.

Dr. Madden then sojourning at Constantinople visited the Theriaki Tchartchiffi or Grand Bazaar – the Lunatic Asylum, by some singular conjunction, stands fronting directly opposite – partly with the view of taking notes, but as much for making trial of the course, secundum artem, in his own person. After swallowing in succession several lozenges to the amount of 4 grains in all, he began to have an unwonted feeling of self-expansion corporeally, while at the same time things as seen in vision appeared in an exaggerated amplitude. Singularly indeed, so often as he opened his eyes the phantasmagorial figures would flit off and vanish, to return again and again. The doctor’s anticipations were in the sequel fulfilled only very indifferently.

Dr. Macgowan experimented upon himself in China, and with more satisfaction. His sensations assimilated much to those that come of inhaling nitrous oxide.

Note. In Winslow’s Journal of Psychology, 1859, is described in its details a very curious phenomenal case, that of a lady, who, for an organic sexual malady, had recourse occasionally to morphine. The case is the more remarkable in consideration of the extreme disproportion of symptoms to the inconsiderable amount of dose, which was 3 1/2  grains only.

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Traditional Methods Of “Eating” Opium

(From) “Opium And The Opium Appetite” by Alonzo Calkins, MD (1870)

Chapter V: Methodical Forms Of Opium Stimulation

“Que voulez-vous? Il est fait comme cela.” – Fr. Proverb

“Oh, that men should put an enemy into their mouths to steal away their brains!”- Othello.

A Gentleman’s Chandu Tools

The term Opodipsesis or Opodipsia is a legitimate coinage, being pathognomonic of the morbid condition; Opophagesis or Opophagia (Opium-eating) is a pseudonym. This latter term, however, being in accommodation to the popular idea – though indeed in no proper sense is opium ever taken by any eating process, unless hypothetically so – may serve for a technical convenience as well as any.

Among opium eaters two prevalent usages obtain: one consisting in swallowing a draught or a bolus, the other in firing a boulette or pea (the chandoo), and then inhaling the smoke through a pipe adapted to the purpose. Such pipe is known in China by the appellative yen-tsiang or opium-pistol. The people of the Flowery Kingdom universally smoke the chandoo; in Persia and the Levant they swallow the lozenge.

In the base of the bowl is a chink for transmitting the smoke into a stem, and above this is laid the pellet. The smoker, having taken the position of recumbency with a sideward inclination, the pipe in one hand and a small lamp for flame in the other, makes one full inspiration. Experienced operators swell the lungs to their full expansion, and after retaining the smoke a considerable time, as long practice enables them to do, finally exhale the fumes through the nostrils. When the spirituous preparation is used in such way, as by the grandees, a single whiff of the vaporized liquid permeates the entire cell area as with a thrill from a galvanic circuit.

For the novice a single pellet may suffice; not so for the practised smoker. Surgeon Hill describes a scene he witnessed on board the ship Sunda. The smoker, a young man of twenty-four years only, used eight pellets of the pea-size one after another, and all in the course of twenty minutes, making one long inspiration after each; he then fell into a profound sleep, which continued unbroken for three hours. The breathing was heavy and the circulation depressed, the pulsations being reduced by about one in twenty.

The progress towards stupefaction is less speedy as experience grows into a habit. Old stagers may require hours and many repetitions ere the coveted excitation is secured. Libermann, an attache of the Imperial army against the Yaous, and the author of surgical memoirs covering several years, speaks of pellets of 10-15 centigrammes in weight, 10, 20, or 30 of which, even up to 200, might be requisite to the complete somnolescence. Suppose the full influence attained in two hours, it will hold for four or five.

In certain regions modes altogether peculiar obtain. The Rajpoots, a military class exclusively, have the following fashion. On the arrival of a friend, the first question put to him is, “Umul Nya – Have you opiumed?” At their festive gatherings a big bowl of water, into which has been dropped a lump of opium, is set in the centre of the table. When the guests around have a dip each in turn, making a cup of the hollow of the hand. (Col. Tod, 1829.)

Another mode is observed in Siam. Here the company, be it opium or bhang that makes for the time the entertainment, sit squat in a circle, just like a Choctaw with his squaw and the rest, when settled in a ring around they are ready to pass from mouth to mouth the whiskey canteen.

The opium shops in the cities (where the hoi polloi, the “filth and scum” are prone to hive) are narrow rooms, secluded from outside observation, dingy and dank, with a solitary lamp suspended midway, apparently for the purpose of making darkness visible rather, and which are packed almost to suffocation. These dens of dissoluteness and debasement are but rarely visited by merchants and others of better class, unless with a view to greater privacy for the time.

“At the mansions of the rich (says Hue) there is usually found fitted up for the accommodation of friends, a private boudoir, richly ceiled, and garnished with superb adornments, such as art only can achieve and wealth procure; and here rich paintings, with choice scraps from Confucius, adorn the walls, and carvings in ivory with other articles of virtu, grace the tables. Here also is provided in chief the gilded opium pipe with all its appurtenances; and here host and guests, unrestrained by curious eyes, deliver themselves up without concern to the inebriating chandoo and its beatific transports.”

In Constantinople the bazaars are adorned in a style more accordant with the Asian pomp of the Ottoman. The visitor, having placed himself reclining upon a dais, the servitor in waiting, with a tactus eruditus such as ever designates the trained expert, deftly lays a single lozenge upon the tongue of the recipient, like as is the manner in a Christian country with the knight of the mortar and pestle, who “(Most mild of men!) Bids you put out your tongue, Then put it in again.”

As between pipe and bolus, in view of their pathologic consequences, says Surgeon Smith, there is little to choose. The chandoo being partially denarcotized, has the advantage in respect of purity, an advantage evenly counterbalanced if not more than that in this, that the area of cellular surface in the expanded lungs directly exposed to the narcotizing action is in excess so many times over of that of the stomach-membrane.

A third mode of bringing the system under the desired influence, is the Hypodermic method – subcutaneous injection by means of a syringe. In this way one-third the quantity that would ordinarily be taken by the mouth suffices, i.e. the same amount exerts a triple force. The practice, as favoring the habit, appears to be less hazardous in instances, but not certainly. Eulenberg in a case of disease made 1200 injections in all, and without manifest injury appertaining. For withdrawal he advises graduated reductions, with atropia incorporated in proportionately increased quantities. Any reliance placed upon this form of use, however, for its supposed comparative security, is likely to prove delusive.

Dr. Sewall of N. Y. has just reported two cases. In the first, the practice, after a two months’ continuance, was arrested, but not without much embarrassment; the second patient still continues on, writhing as helplessly as if, Laocoon-like, he were wound around in the coils of some monster-serpent. This gentleman, now of middle life, having suffered much from a diseased ankle, was advised (professionally) to use morphine hypodermically. The immediate effect being found most soothing and satisfactory, an indefinite continuance was suggested; and now, after a habituation for two years, the invalid is hopelessly delivered over, an abject slave to the habit, enervated in body and enfeebled in mind. The thigh of the affected limb is literally studded with punctures, to be counted by the score.

There is a case reported by Dr. Parrish, marvellous indeed in every view. The patient, a country physician, having now become an inmate of the Sanitarium, thus introduces himself before the public.

The Probe: by Joseph Parrish, M.D., Media, Penna., No. 1, 1869.

“Two years ago, I was suffering under a violent attack of neuralgia; meanwhile I could procure no sleep, not even any respite from suffering through the agency of any one of the recognized narcotics as employed in the usual modes. A medical friend suggested morphine, eighth-grain doses in solution by the subcutaneous mode. The relief experienced so sudden, so complete, I can never forget. Delivered of all pain, I was furthermore enjoying a repose indescribably entrancing. From the day on which these sensations occurred, I date my present bondage to a habit that has well-nigh ruined my health, prostrated my business, and blasted my hopes for coming time.”

This gentleman, of good position at home, with a moral constitution peculiarly sensitive under the pangs of self-reproach, and the mortification arising from having yielded to a fascination whose history he was sufficiently familiar with, now lay prostrate under the inertia of despair. The quantity he had fixed upon for the day was 5 grains regularly, and for 730 consecutive days he had used his instrument at home when time allowed, or again when abroad in his carriage; by the roadside; at the house of a patient; or during a halt at the tavern. The punctures, averaging several a day, were made irrespective of locality, though commonly near the seat of the central pain, and not unfrequently to the depth of an inch. They numbered altogether 2190. The morphine consumed amounted to 3650 grains, the equivalent of thrice such quantity taken in the ordinary way, that is to say, 23 ounces. For the sequel vide c. xxi.

Methodical Forms of Opium-Stimulation (Chapter 5, continued)

This being eminently an age of novelties and experimentations, there falls in here, not malapropos, a case quite unique in character certainly, and illustrative of what may be more delicately described perhaps by a euphemism, the Methodus per Inversionem. The case is contributed by Dr. L. of New York. Mrs. B., demi-veuve, age 25, of delicate habit and fair complexion, had been habituated to morphine three to four years, introducing solutions of the same intra-rectum, by means of a small acuminated glass syringe.

Repeated efforts to break off, with veratria for a substitute, had been of no permanent avail, for the appetite would not thus be put down. One day, in the height of the gold-excitement (Sept. 1869), the lady (a frequenter of the bourse) went down to Wall Street about ten o’clock in the morning, but without her usual supply which she in her hurry had left behind. Suddenly seized with overpowering tremors, she rushed into the first saloon she could find and swallowed a full tumbler of raw whiskey, and again a second after a little interval only, besides purchasing a bottle for use on the return home.

The doctor found her about 7 p.m., tremulous all over in body, and in great mental perturbation, for she had drunk, as appeared, a good deal besides the extra bottle, though without any inebriating feeling. Ale was advised for the night, and several pints were taken, but no sleep came. The case proving intractable (for “she must have her morphine or die” – so she said), was, after a few days’ treatment, abandoned. Her mode of using was (the account is her own), to pour into the palm of the hand a quantity – about 10 grains, as she illustrated by drawing a vial from beneath her pillow – then to transfer the same with water to another vial for solution, and from this to charge the instrument. The operation was repeated several times in the day, and abroad as well as at home; any by-place serving as a convenience, a side-room in a broker’s office, or a nook in a secluded street. Verily “knowledge by witty inventions” is not yet, it would appear, “past finding out.”

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Dr. Calkins Chapter IV: The Pharmacology Of Opium

The “War on Drugs” has been a great success in achieving its true intent – to fund the bloated bottomless budgets of untouchable government agencies, to pay outrageous salaries to squads of goons who otherwise couldn’t keep a minimum-wage job, to give half-human morons unrestricted license to kill, destroy and imprison millions of people, and to empower soul-dead halfwits with the freedom to practice their piggish racism.

As an intro to Chapter 4 of Dr. Calkins’ book, I thought that I would offer you a brief excerpt from an excellent article “Ethical and practical issues with opioids in life-limiting illness” By Robert Fine MD (in) Proceedings Of Baylor University Medical Center Journal 2007.

While Dr. Fine’s references are from the 1980s and 1990s, before the current “Opioid Epidemic”  whose advocates love to screech “Just one pill and you’re hooked”, the observations of these research studies are worth thinking about.

Quoting Dr Fine:

“… the reality is that opioids are rarely addictive in the setting of life-limiting illness. Substantial information in the peer-reviewed literature backs up this statement. For example:

  • In 1980, Porter and Jick reported on a prospective study of 12,000 hospitalized patients who received at least one opioid preparation for moderate to severe pain. They found only four reasonably well-documented cases of addictive behavior (1)

  • In 1981, Kanner and Foley noted that the medical use of opioids rarely leads to drug abuse or to iatrogenic opioid addiction among cancer patients (2)

  • In 1982, 181 health care professionals with an average of 6 years of experience who worked at 93 burn units and cared for at least 10,000 hospitalized patients reported no case of addiction in patients treated for burn pain (3)

  • In 1992, Schug et al reported only one case of addiction among 550 cancer patients who experienced pain and were treated with morphine for a total of 22,525 treatment days (4)

  • In 1992, Zenz et al reported no incidents of serious toxicity or addiction among 100 patients with diverse pain syndromes who received narcotics for prolonged periods (5)

  1. Porter J, Jick H. Addiction rare in patients treated with narcotics. N Engl J Med. 1980;302(2):123. [PubMed]

  2. Kanner RM, Foley KM. Patterns of narcotic drug use in a cancer pain clinic. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1981;362:161–172. [PubMed]

  3. Perry S, Heidrich G. Management of pain during debridement: a survey of U.S. burn units. Pain. 1982;13(3):267–280. [PubMed]

  4. Schug SA, Zech D, Grond S, Jung H, Meuser T, Stobbe B. A long-term survey of morphine in cancer pain patients. J Pain Symptom Manage. 1992;7(5):259–266. [PubMed]

  5. Zenz M, Strumpf M, Tryba M. Long-term oral opioid therapy in patients with chronic nonmalignant pain. J Pain Symptom Manage. 1992;7(2):69–77. [PubMed]

(From) “Opium And The Opium Appetite”, by Alonzo Calkins, MD 1870

Chapter IV: The Pharmacology Of Opium

“Incedis per ignes Suppositos cineri doloso.” – Horace.

O true Apothecary, thy drugs are quick!” — Romeo and Juliet.

Opium (from Onos, the Juice) – Ufiyoon in Arabic, Ufeent in Hindu, O-fu-jung in Chinese – is the crystalline liquid that exudes from the capsules of the Poppy, and what Galen has poetically denominated “Lachrymae papaveris” – poppy tears. All species of the family yield opium in some proportion; that known to commerce is in botanical nomenclature the Papaver Somniferum.

Opium by pharmaceutical classification ranks among the gums. It is stimulant and exhilarating, tonic and roborant, or anodyne and soporific, according to the indications for using, the quantity employed, and the period of use.

The purest extract is procured from the borders of the great Mediterranean basin; Europe and the United States (where the poppy has scarcely as yet secured a habitat) have their supplies mainly from India.

Bengal opium, often adulterated by admixture with foreign ingredients, is inferior in strength to that from Turkey. At the Exposition Universelle held in 1867, specimens from Persia and the Levant proved to be of double the strength as compared with others from India (Schroff). The opium of the Peninsula is bitter and nauseous to the taste, that from Western Asia is more acrid and heating. In France the imported gum, having been subjected to a process of depuration, is afterward compacted into masses of definite strength and inclosed in a stamped envelope of metal-foil. This is the “opium titre,” as known in the Paris market.

Prepared Opium, alias Smoking-opium, is properly an extract, procured by subjecting the crude gum to a thorough filtration with water assisted by heat for the menstruum. In China the process is conducted with the most scrupulous care, as anything of an inferior quality would be rejected by the chief purchasers, i.e. the grandees, positively and altogether. This article, known as the Chandoo (Tschandii), which constitutes about 54 percent of the original, is marked by a more pronounced development of the exhilarant and sedative properties, with a corresponding reduction upon the narcotic element. A similar preparation is the Ya-pieu-kao, made up of Indian and native opium in mixture.

The residuum of all (faex) is denominated Tye or Tinco, and there is further a refuse of a refuse, the Samshung.

In the region of the Bosphorus there is used a confection made by combination with aromatics, and fashioned into the lozenge form. Pellets of the sort are put up in packets bearing the label Mash-Allah or Maslach (“The great gift of God”), to be exposed for public sale (Ollivier).

Opium is variously combined, besides, with other narcotics. At Cairo is found a conserve, El Mogen (Magoon), in which hyoscyamus is the adjunct. In India it is cannabis resin, or the datura, or nux vomica. In Borneo opium and tobacco are often smoked together.

The Turks supplement the gum with the Sublimate of mercury to the extent even of 10 percent of the mass, and for the purpose of intensifying the stimulation. There was an opium eater at Broussa who used 40 grains of the sublimate. A more marvellous instance is the case of Suleyman Yeyen, a centenarian well known towards the close of the last century as a familiar pedestrian about the streets of Constantinople, who had attracted the notice of De Pouqueville, Hobhouse, and other Europeans. This veteran among the eaters, having used opium a lifetime until with him it had become effete, betook himself one day to the shop of a Jew, and procured a drachm of the mercurial. This Israelite in name that was (but not “an Israelite indeed”), having anxiously expected for over a day the reappearance of his singular customer, began to apprehend a summons from the Cadi to answer to the charge of complicity in a suicide, and forthwith shut up shop. To his intense relief the desired visitant returned after the lapse of two days, and for a fresh supply.

Just give it a try – free sample!

Morphia (Morphine) is an alkaloid extract, in which the sedative property is amply developed, but where the narcotic force is reduced to the minimum. Good opium yields 8 to 10 percent or more. This is the form preferred by the more intelligent classes, and what is held in superior favor by the sex. The “dear morphine” it is that commands the especial patronage of English ladies. An additional reason for preference is this, that in the protracted use less disturbance of the stomach eventuates.

Laudanum – in the French Codex an Alcoole – is a spirituous solution. This form, which in China is limited to the gentry rather, is in the U. S. the choice of plebeians, and of such as have broken down upon alcoholic potations. In Persia there is made a vinous liquor of similar character, the Coquemar or Cocomar (D’Herbelot). Laudanum has long been the favorite agent for effecting suicide, but of two hundred cases of direct attempts and accidental substitutions through mistake, as appears from a collation of cases made by the writer, laudanum was the form in 138 of them; and of 60 suicides pure, 46, or 4 out of every 5, were accomplished by the same means.

The record for England and Wales, 1863-67, is 682 out of an aggregate of 2,097 instances. In reference to the suicidal propensity generally it may be here observed, that when traceable to moral obliquities it is commonly consummated, if not by laudanum, then by some other poison proper; whereas cases that have their origination in pure despondency are oftener finished by the more summary process of self-strangulation.

Opium in conjunction with alcohol in any form operates with a revivified energy. This reciprocal action did not escape the notice of Galen. Champagne wine or anisette-cordial, for instance, would be an “extra hazardous” adjunct. In a goodly city of ours, among whose conspicuous adornments are the long colonnades of towering elms that enfilade its avenues, there was an Esculapian brother, whose wont was to prepare himself with liberal potations of the like preparatory to the expected soiree, and once mingled with the throng, to grow decidedly impulsive and loquacious in the general not only, but amusingly demonstrative and ingratiative in the particular.

Black-Drop (Quaker Drop) is an acetous tincture. This, as compared with laudanum, exerts a duplicated sedative action, but holds in narcotic influence an inferior place. The merits of this “drop” are certified to by a Philadelphian, a purchaser of the stimulus by the gallon for a good while, who, after ample trial, assures her friends that the preparation is less perturbative of the proper nerve energy, and is furthermore less damaging to the complexion.

McMunn’s Elixir is a denarcotized laudanum, prepared with ether for a menstruum. Extensively used empirically, and held in request by eaters, it has a large patronage in regular practice.

Paregoric is an aromatized laudanum, camphor being the adjunct. This elder elixir, originally intended for the infantile period, has long enjoyed a most intimate family hospitality.

Accept No Substitutes!

Godfrey’s Cordial. This and the preceding, with “Mistress Winslow’s Syrup,” constitute together a sort of triad of household idolship undisturbed by any rivalling interlopers. The monopoly of patronage so long secured to the first two named is now arrogated by the Soothing Syrup and its arriere-garde, “Mother Bailey’s Quieting Syrup.”

The basis of Winslow – “haud ignota loquor” – is morphine; what had been certified to before upon indubitable testimony is now assured by a recent analysis, which gives nearly one grain of the alkaloid to an ounce of the liquid. The dose for an infant, as per label, is at least five times over what ordinary prudence would authorize. This nostrum, now distributed broadcast over the country, has well-nigh distanced all competitors.

Such are the elixirs and syrups which, as administered whether by deluded mothers or crafty nurses, have soothed many and many a luckless infant into that state of quiet that knows no after-disturbing. Among our publicans there obtains only a very vague apprehension of the pregnant fact that the popular nostrums of the day, the cholera-drops, the pain-killers, the lung-troches and other pectorals, draped as they are in a flaunty incognito, or ensconced as they may be behind the objective screen of a caveat – enough, if mustered into line, to make up a regiment — owe whatever inherent virtue (if any) they possess to the omnipresent leaven, opium.

The stereotyped cautionary phrase, Caveat Emptor, should be the statutory appendix to every one of their trade-marks.

The manipulators in this species of manufacture – marauders upon society they are, for out of the life-blood of the people comes their bread – would appear to be the legitimate representatives, by a sort of apostolic succession, of a class described by Celsus, the Circulatores (“homines circumforanei”), who went about enticing and amusing the popellum or dregs by their high-and-low tumbling, and all, “lucri causa”, for filthy lucre’s sake.

The only difference between now and then appears in this – the originals circulated themselves, their imitators circulate placards.

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Commercial Origins Of The Global Opium Pandemic

(From) “Opium & The Opium Appetite” by Alonzo Calkins, MD published 1870

Chapter II: The Commercial History Of Opium In Europe And The Orient

“Audax lapeti genus Ignem fraude mala gentibus intulit.” – Horace.

“Japheth shall dwell in the tents of Shem” – The Patriarch

Among Semitic peoples it originally was where the poppy extract, Opium, found its marts and consumers; and if Egypt was the originator, Persia certainly “cette patrie ete pivot” says Ferishta, is the historic foster-mother. The Moslem, it is reckoned, carried opium to the China-frontier as early as the tenth century or before. Chardin, the traveller, who visited Persia towards the close of the seventeenth century, found the article a familiar acquaintance there, for Schah Abbas had put it under the ban of a decree a hundred years before this. According to this author, the Tartar hordes at the era of the Conquest, 1644, took opium along with them across the Great Wall; yet for more than a century after, the new immigrant made no measurable advance, being restricted to medicinal purposes solely, e.g., in dysentery and melancholia.

The importations into China, from alien sources, had not by 1767 exceeded 200 packages annually. From so small beginnings the trade thus initiated by Portuguese adventurers at Whampoa has now, upon various estimates, Johnston’s with the rest, so expanded as to comprehend an aggregate of populations numbering above 700,000,000 of individuals, in their various distributions over Persia, India, China and Tartary, Malacca and the Sunda Isles, and Turkey and the Levant, even to Mauritania and Egypt; indeed, whithersoever the Crescent has conducted migrations opium has borne company, finding for itself successive lodgments.

The introduction of opium into the Island of Formosa is credited by Choo-Tsun to the Hung Maou or red-haired (the English); another account implicates more directly the Dutch merchants of Batavia.

Hindustan, which furnishes eight-tenths of the total supply for China, might be styled, and without hyperbole, an immense poppy-garden. The importations from India into China were: 1767 – 200 caissons. 1800-1810 – 2,500 piculs (133 lbs/picul), average. 1820 – 4,700 (7,000) piculs; 1830 – 18,700 piculs 1840 – (1838, 48,000) 50,000 piculs; 1850 – (1848-9, 54,000) 55,000 piculs 1860 – 60,000 piculs upon estimate; 1867 – 75,000 piculs (=10,000,000 lbs.)

For the later decennial periods there has been a falling off below the two percent of annual increase that was, a reduction variously ascribable to poverty, increasing celibacy, and impaired fecundity and infanticide, the direct and palpable offshoots of the national vice.

Opium being in China a dutiable article, a large margin must be allowed for the contraband traffic. Some presumptive estimate may be formed of the extent of such traffic from an item of the commercial history of the country for 1839.

About this year had been issued the famous “Edict,” which proscribed and condemned to destruction all the opium then in the ports. Within a twelve month thereafter there passed through Canton 1800 piculs, upon 700 of which only, or 40 percent of the whole, was the duty paid. In view of the fact that there is to be guarded a coastline of twenty-five hundred miles, swarming with a population whose supreme passion is the procurement of opium at all hazards, legitimately or illicitly, an addition of 12 percent to the customs figures would be a safe reckoning.

There is besides a large home production, which Dr. Macgowan, more than twenty years since, estimated as coming up to twenty-five percent on the importations. The cultivation has proceeded for years in the southwest province, Yunnun, and has extended (on the authority of Waterton) to at least six provinces, from one of which alone there annually go out several thousand chests. The accounts for 1869 are, that the manufacture as well as the consumption is increasing at rapid rates, particularly in Mongolia and Mantchuria. The home growth must be very large; indeed, upon a calculation made by G. S, Cooke, then resident in the country, it approximates to the amount imported.

Suppose this domestic supply to have now reached 35 percent only as compared with the foreign, the people of China are now (1867) consuming in a single year 110,620 piculs = 14,750,000 pounds of opium. To such swelling proportions has this “cloud no bigger than a man’s hand” expanded itself, and within the range of just one century!

The tabulated records are confirmed every way by miscellaneous facts. As long ago as 1842, Surgeon G. H. Smith, of Pulo-Penang. estimated that one-tenth of the people of the kingdom were then addicted to the opium pipe, and one-third of that proportion in Malacca. The returns made by Sir John Bowring for Canton and the contiguous districts give a ratio of 26 percent; three local reports, made by native officials, comprise 4,600 smokers out of a total of 13,500 individuals. In Rajpootana (Col. Todd), the use of opium in one form or another is well- nigh universal; and what is true of this district is equally so of Tartary, where the Abbe Hue found the pipe in requisition among all classes and everywhere, their tribunals and solemn assemblies not excepted.

In 1843, when the Rev. Mr. Lowrie was at Amoy, it seemed to him that almost everybody was given to the stimulus; and Johnson, missionary at Fou-Cliow in 1S67, found a state of things well-nigh as bad. As for the hospitals and almshouses of China, they present records to which nothing corresponding as chargeable to alcoholics is yet furnished by similar institutions in our own land. In 1844, at Dr. Little’s House of Correction in Singapore, of the 44 inmates, 4 out of 5 were found to be consumers; a proportion agreeing exactly with the observations of Surgeon Smith.

Compare now, by way of contrast, 1867 with 1840. To the 50.000 pounds of 1840 add 25 percent (for the home culture), making no allowance for clandestine importations where there was little or no inducement to such, the ratio of advance for this 27 years is as 185 : 100, which, compounded with that of population.

In 1840 the East India Company realized out of the opium traffic with China the sum of $4,000,000; in 1850 the receipts reached $15,000,000, a figure which had doubled by 1858. More than ten years back (1854) the Chinese paid this company for opium alone a sum exceeding in valuation the total export of their teas and silks together. Indeed, as Dr. Allen has calculated, the annual surplus profit at the time from this branch of trade alone was adequate to the liquidation, in the course of seven years, of the twenty million debt that had been incurred by the act of colonial emancipation, principal and interest both.

To such proportions has this species of trade tentatively undertaken by a few roving mariners now culminated, fostered as it has been by the indomitable greed of English merchantmen. The humanising tendencies of British civilization, as enforced and supported by British artillery, are very palpably illustrated in a saying current among the people of China, of this sort: “During the opium war the English gave their Chinese acquaintance cannonballs of iron, and after the war, cannonballs of opium; so that our people had the desperate privilege of choice as between being shot to death and poisoned to death.”

“ Revenons a nos moutons – oh nos cheres moutons!” 

Great Britain & The Continent

Paracelsus introduced opium to the notice of Europeans just about two centuries ago. All over Europe the gum bears the highest repute for its therapeutic powers, but as a narcotic stimulant it is little known beyond the limits of the English people and the Parisians. England alone (for Scotland is exempt, and Ireland nearly so) probably consumes more than France and Germany and the Peninsula altogether.

Importations into Great Britain (vide Parliamentary Documents). 1830 – 22,000 pounds; (over re-exportations). 1835- 30,400; 1840 – 41,000; 1850 – 44,000; 1860 — 98,300; 1867 – 125,000. 

Population. 1840 – 27,000,000, 1860 – 29,000,000. 1867 – (1869, 31,000,000) 30,000,000.

1856 Dr. Hawkins of King’s Lynn ascertained upon inquiry that the chief consumption was in Lancashire and other districts, within which are embraced the large manufacturing centres, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Preston, Nottingham – cities that make up an aggregate population bordering on two millions. The operatives in Lancashire alone (Liverpool excluded) number about two hundred thousand. A chemist in one locality informed Dr. H. he had, in a single year, sold in divided parcels to the amount of two hundred pounds of the drug. Another dealer had thus disposed of a hundred and forty pounds, with the extras of Laudanum and Godfrey’s Cordial, to the extent of ten gallons per week. Here was opium enough, sold at one shop alone, adequate to the supplying of fifteen hundred persons with one drachm of laudanum every day of the year. In the town of Preston, 1843, as was ascertained, sixteen hundred families were regular purchasers of Godfrey, making a ratio of twelve and a half upon the entire population.

Editor’s Note: Godfrey’s Cordial (also called Mother’s Friend) was among the most widely used patent medicine given to infants and children in England and the United States during the latter years of the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries. It was almost always given without a physician’s advice, and was used for a wide variety of symptoms ranging from run-of-the mill fretfulness and colic, to the severest forms of dehydration caused by explosive, bloody diarrhea. Despite the innocuous name, it was a dangerous preparation for infants because of its heavy opium content; Godfrey’s Cordial contained one grain of opium in each two ounces.

Some years since, Dr. A. S. Taylor, an eminent toxicologist, presented, by appointment, to a Committee of Parliament, a report of observations and inquiries made upon a survey of Marshland and the contiguous districts. A druggist whom he met in one parish, assured him he had made sales in small packages during the year previous to the amount of a thousand pounds; a quantity not equal to the demand by a half. This informant declared further, that there was not a village in all that region round but could show at least one shop and its counter loaded with the little laudanum vials, even to the hundreds, for the accommodation of customers retiring from the workshops on Saturday nights. Thus has an aggressive trade with the foreigner recoiled to plague the aggressor in his own homesteads.

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The Opium Poppy & The Ancient World

(from) “Opium & The Opium Appetite”, published in 1870 by Alonzo Calkins, MD

Editors note: This is Dr. Calkins’ short introductory chapter with some interesting classical references to the Opium Poppy and its widespread medical and popular use in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Off We Go, In Search Of The Legendary Poppy

Chapter I: The Poppy – Its History, Mythic And Traditional

“Pro magna, teste vetustas Creditur.”- Ovid.

“Pauvres humains, qui bonheur attendez, Levez vos coeurs et nos dictes entendez.” – Rabelais

In the ancient mythologies; Greek and Roman, the early existence and use of the Poppy have abundant attestation. Cybele, mother of the gods, is represented on the old monuments as wearing a wreath of poppies, a symbol of fecundity (Jacques).

The Romans accounted the plant a gift of Demeter or Ceres, the goddess of corn, and she is described as bearing a sceptre in one hand, and in the other the symbolic capsule.

Ovid introduces Night advancing with the significant emblem in her coronet: “Interea placidam redimita papavera frontem Nox venit, et secum somnia nigra trahit.”

Somnus also was often painted as reposing upon a bed of snowy poppies. Silius Italicus speaks of him as wandering about by night, scattering from his loaded horn the medicated herb as he passes along: “Curvoque volucris Per tenebras portat medicata papavera cornu.”

Virgil in the Georgics instances the injunction to make an offering of the poppy to the infernal deities for the repose of the manes of Orpheus: “Inferias Orphei Lethaea papavera mittes.”

Catullus adverts to the “Lethaea papavera” and Tibullus to the “medicata papavera.”

Homer, earlier than any of the rest, who dates about 900 b.c., names the poppy among the familiar embellishments of the garden. The poets, careful observers of natural phenomena and faithful chroniclers of antique lore as they ever are, have thus assigned to the poppy a prehistoric existence as also a foremost preeminence. Expede Herculem – allusions thus distinctive and positive must have an origination outside of the mere unsubstantial creations of the poet’s brain.

Diodorus relates that the women of Thebes were acquainted with an herb having properties analogous to those of the poppy certainly, though he does not specify the name. Pliny, while he does not include the poppy in his enumeration of the indigenous products on the Nile border, plainly well understood its virtues, as is evident from the following passage: “Succus papaveris densatur, cui non vis soporifera modo inest, verum si copiosior hauriatur, mortifera per somnos.”

The poppy was evidently known to the Romans at least five centuries before the Christian era, being spoken of by Livy as conspicuous in the gardens of Tarquinius Superbus. Hippocrates, 460 b.c., was acquainted with the same, and among all the physicians and herbalists of his period, the plant ever holds a prominent place. The famous Mithridaticum, which consisted of thirty-six ingredients, and upon which, as a basis, Andromachus, physician to Nero, compounded his Theriaca, contained poppy-extract in large proportion. Here was the Philonium also, an opiated electuary (as commonly supposed, combining hyoscyamus), a compound experimentally known to Plato, who, it appears, was wont to innovate upon his vegetarian habitudes with something more potent than beans and cress. This doughty champion in the van of the philosophers thus turns up in a novel association, as a pioneer to the long line of opium eaters.

Dioscorides, the Linnaeus by anticipation of his day, and Galen, the erudite physician of a period somewhat later, both accord to the poppy a precedent rank.

To Egypt, mother of the ancient civilization and cradle of art, medical writers have from earliest times been prone to point, as having been also the original herbarium of the botanic world. All refer with various speculations to the Nepenthes of the Odyssey as described in Lib. iv. 220. Thirty centuries since it was, as we measure the veiled past, when on the occasion of a nuptial banquet in the halls of Menelaus, at which Telemachus was present as a guest of honor, Helen, the famed in Trojan story, is related to have commingled for the use of her company a cordial of some sort: “A mirth-inspiring bowl, To clear the clouded front of wrinkled care, And dry the tearful sluices of despair” as it would do through twenty-four hours continuously.

The essential element, or what imparted to this liquor its intoxicant virtue proper, has been generally thought to have been a poppy-essence. Such is the view maintained by the learned Sprengel; and Van Swieten indicates his belief in the following passage: “Papaver, instar Helena: Nepenthes, oblivionem omnium malorum inducit.” That the prevalent opinion in the time of Claudian was in accordance with this, is plain from the following significant passage, indicative both of the origin of the plant which affords our opium, and of the primitive mode of preparation. The lines belong to an epithalamium dedicated to Palladius: “Nuiacm pingue desuuat vulnere cortex.”

The Nepenthes, a complex compound, and what Pliny thus adverts to as the “Nobile Nepenthes oblivionem tristitis afferens,” not unlikely, as indeed Dioscoridcs suspected, combined the Cannabis besides.

At the beginning of the present century and later, says Lane, among the common people of Egypt the Cannabis in one or another form, as compared with opium, was in more familiar use; and to this day a wine is made corresponding in character to the description by Dioscorides, and which, mingled with their booza or barley-wine, bears the name of bandji.

In Constantine, Algeria, the fashion at the soirees is to smoke the herb, and also to commingle the wine in their coffee; and thereupon ensues singing and dancing with hilarious extravagance in every way. Galen adverts to a virous liquor made from the seeds of the hemp, a beverage anciently used for its exhilarating inspirations. This much is rendered certain, the Cannabis was a familiar stimulant in the period of the Caliphate.

Very noticeable is the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures, amid references to balsamics and other aromatics, with their confections, make no distinctive allusion to the poppy, nor indeed to any narcotic extract, unless myrrh be so accounted. For such omission there is to be found a measurable explanation, perhaps, in the consideration that the Hebrew family, that “peculiar people” though having sojourned in the land of Egypt, their “house of bondage” for four hundred years, were kept nevertheless by the ruling power carefully segregated from the indigenous race, and under the governance of rigid taskmasters who made their lives “bitter with hard bondage.” The “strong drink” repeatedly spoken of in Leviticus and the prophetic writings was inebriating rather than soporific (Prov. XX-I, and Isa. V.- 11); though myrrhated and absinthiated liquors were employed of old for their recognized stupefactive powers. Vide chap. xxii.



A Rational Perspective On The Opium Poppy

Readers of this blog have encountered the remarkable Sir George Birdwood before in my previous post “A Dismal End To The War On Drugs Predicted – in 1885”.

Birdwood was not only a strong voice of reason arguing for an enlightened approach to Opium regulation, but was also an informed observer of the realities of Opium in India and China, as well as a vigorous critic of the actions of the British Government acting through its commercial surrogate the British East India Company to wage war on China for the “right” to addict the Chinese people for profit.

I am writing “The Poppy Juice Papers” in order to argue, as I am doing with regard to Coca Leaf, that access to this great natural medicine should not be denied to individuals who choose to grow their own poppies. As I describe in my book “The International Cultivators Handbook: Coca, Opium & Hashish” the Opium Poppy is just about the easiest plant in the world to grow and harvest, and offers anyone with the faintest tinge of green on their thumb a slam-dunk to producing a fine personal crop of pure, natural Opium. I would not argue for unrestricted rights to grow Opium Poppies on a commercial scale in order to produce Morphine and Heroin, any more than I am arguing that Coca Leaf ought to be freely available for commercial production of Cocaine.

Cocaine is the product of the industrial manipulation of the natural medicinal Coca Leaf, just as Morphine and Heroin are industrial manipulations of the Poppy Flower, and the insidious motivations behind these industrial products – which do have some limited health benefits – do not, in my mind, justify allowing them to be exploited by criminal syndicates on either side of the law. The Cartels and the DEA’s of the world are simply two sides of organized criminal enterprise – as is all government, to a large degree. But the natural medicines that are the gift of nature, whether the Coca Leaf or the Poppy Flower, ought to be as freely available to any person who wants and needs them, and especially who wants to grow them in their own garden for personal use, as is the right to choose a God to believe in and worship, whatever others may think of one’s choice.

That said, I am certain that readers of this blog will enjoy the fine mind and acute perceptions of Sir George Birdwood in this short essay as he dissects the myths and the realities of Opium in China. You will encounter his work in other equally interesting contexts when “The Poppy Juice Papers” is finally published.

(Please note that I have not “corrected” Sir Birdwood’s spelling, which is of course impeccable by 1800’s standards but out-of-date today.)

Opium Smoking
Sir George Birdwood
January 17, 1882

Opium smoking, which is the Chinese form of using the drug, for which the Indian Government is specially held responsible, is, to say the least in its favour, an infinitely milder indulgence. I hold it to be absolutely harmless. I do not place it simply m the same category with even tobacco smoking, for tobacco smoking may, in itself, if carried into excess, be injurious, particularly to young people under 25; but I mean that opium smoking in itself is as harmless as smoking willow bark or inhaling the smoke of a peat fire or vapour of boiling water.

Opinions, of course, differ. Medhurst (“China”) is the weightiest lay authority against it, and Marsden (“Sumatra,” pp. 278-279). In its defence. Professor O’Shaughnessy (“Bengal Dispensatory,” pp. 180-181) admits that what is recorded against it applies only to the abuse of the practice. Dr. Oxley, quoted in Crawford’s “Dictionary”(p. 313), Dr. Smith (“Lancet,” Feb. 19, 1842, quoted at sufficient length by Pereira, Dr. Eatwell (“ Pharmaceutical Journal,” 1851-52, pp. 264-265), and Dr. Impey (in his Report on Malwa opium) all protest against the indiscriminate condemnation directed by prejudiced or malicious writers against it.

I have not seen Surgeon-General Moore’s recent paper on opium in the “Indian Medical Gazette,” but I gather from a notice of it quoted from the “Calcutta Englishman” in the “Homeward Mail “ of the 14th of November last, that it supplies a most exhaustive and able vindication of the perfect morality of the revenue derived by the Indian Government from the manufacture and sale of opium to the Chinese.

He quotes from Dr. Ayres, “No China resident believes in the terrible frequency of the dull, sodden-witted, debilitated opium smoker met with in print.” and from Consul Lay: “In China the spendthrift, the men of lewd habits, the drunkard, and a large assortment of bad characters, slide into the opium-smoker; hence the drug seems to be chargeable with all the vices of the country.”

Mr. Gregory, Her Majesty’s Consul at Swatow, says Dr. Moore, never saw a single case of opium intoxication, though living for months and travelling for hundreds of miles among opium smokers.

Dr. Moore directly confirms my own statement of the Chinese having been great drinkers of alcohol before they took to smoking opium. I find, also, in a remarkable collection of folk-lore (“Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio,” by Herbert A. Giles), evidence in almost every chapter of the universal drinking habits of the Chinese before the introduction of opium among them, notwithstanding that the use of alcohol is opposed to the cardinal precepts of Buddhism. What Dr. Moore says of the freedom of opium-smokers from bronchial and thoracic diseases is deserving of the deepest consideration.

I find that, on the other hand, the Chinese converts to Christianity suffer greatly from consumption. The missionaries will not allow them to smoke, and, as they also forbid their marrying while young, after the wise custom, founded on an experience of thousands of years, of their country, they fall into those depraved, filthy habits of which consumption is everywhere the inexorable witness and scourge. When spitting of blood comes on the opium pipe is its sole alleviation. The opium, as retailed to the smokers, is already diminished by various admixtures in narcotic power, and is, apparently, still more so by it’s preparation in the form of pure “smokeable extract.”

Then the pill so prepared is placed in a flame, where it is instantly set ablaze. It blazes furiously, and its vapour is at the same instant inhaled into the throat and lungs in one inspiration.

But none of the active principles of opium are volatilizable! And if any one of your readers will get Indian opium, as retailed in the bazaars, and prepare pure chandoo from it, and smoke as many pills of it as he pleases, in the above manner, he will find that they will not produce the slightest effect on him, or any one else, one way or the other, beyond causing that pleasant and peaceful warmth throughout the body which comes of sitting over a peat fire on a chilly day, or inhaling the fragrant vapour from a bowl of whisky toddy as you stir the boiling water into it, or, for that, from the simple steam issuing from a jug of boiling water.

I conclude myself that nothing passes from the deflagrating chandoo pill into the lungs but the volatile resinous constituents of opium. At least, if this be the fact, it explains the antiseptic and prophylactic action of opium-smoking in the pulmonary affections of the Chinese.

I conclude (my chemistry is of 1850-54 and quite out of date) that the rarefied resinous vapour inhaled protects the surface of the bronchial passages and lungs from the outer air, and that, when consumption has once set in, this empyreumatic vapour has the effect of checking the suppuration. This might be tested at the Brompton Hospital. Only one inspiration is taken from each pill, and the residuum is then mixed up with such drugs as Indian hemp, Tobacco, and nux vomica, and resold at a greatly reduced rate to the poorer smokers. It is really this tye-chandoo, or “refuse chandoo” that has given opium smoking so bad a name among superficial and untrained observers. But even in respect of it, considering the exhaustive incineration the pill undergoes in being smoked, I doubt whether anything but harmless smoke passes into the lungs.

It is the general debauched habits of the lower outcast populations of the cities of China which are really responsible for their cachetic appearance, and not the accidental circumstance that some of them indulge in opium smoking. As to the alleged special aphrodisiac properties of opium, I discredit them altogether. At all events, it must never be forgotten, as a factor which tends to confuse even expert observation that is not severely verified, of any such alleged effect, that throughout the East the great majority of the people are always deliberately plying themselves with aphrodisiacs or reputed aphrodisiacs. The whole system of Eastern medicine seems based on the idea of the aphrodisiac or anti-aphrodisiac properties of things. European medical men are pestered all their days in the East, from Morocco to Shanghai, by simple natives persistently supplicating them for some potent aphrodisiac of which it is believed they have the golden secret. I know a medical officer who, when serving in the Indian Navy, was followed from port to port, all up and down the Persian Gulf, by a picturesque old Arab Chief in quest of aphrodisiac pills, and nothing would content him but to have them, although they consisted only of pellets of bread crumbs rolled in magnesia.

Every medical man who has practised in the East is familiar also with the phenomenon of the sudden wasting away, in body, mind, and soul, of the healthiest and most beautiful and intellectual boys on their reaching the critical period of adolescence. At the other critical period, between 45 and 50, the best and strongest of good men also suddenly turn bad, and “go to the dogs” utterly. Opium has nothing to do with these sad catastrophes of daily occurrence; while I am convinced that some form of smoking might often prevent them.

Those, indeed, who can believe that opium is injurious to the morality of the Chinese can have little idea of what morality means in Eastern Asia – much less immorality. I need add no more. I do not seek to support any particular financial or commercial policy in India. I desire simply to instruct the consciences of my countrymen.

I have been charged with having a private purpose to serve by the argument I have taken in this controversy. The views I hold on opium I first stated as a student in a discussion before the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh. In a work I published before 1868 on the “Vegetable Products of Western India,” which went through two editions, I maintained the same views, founded on facts gathered from every region of the globe. I might, therefore, be credited with now writing on the subject from strict conviction. I hold opium smoking, in short, to be a strictly harmless indulgence, like any other smoking, and the essence of its pleasure to be, not in the opium itself so much as in the smoking it.

If something else were put in the pipe instead of opium, that something else would gradually become just as popular as opium, although it might not incidentally prove so beneficial. It was in this way that the Red Indians took to smoking willow bark in place of tobacco, which was too costly for them. It is in this wav that one is often able to substitute harmless prescriptions for harmful philters among the nympholeptic sons of Ham and Turan.

In China and the Indian Archipelago, and wherever else opium is smoked, we ought to endeavour to supply it as pure and cheap as possible. It makes milder smoking than tobacco, and is evidently beneficial in many ways; and we may rest assured that mankind, where it has once taken to it, will never give up smoking either opium, tobacco, or some other such stuff, however silly it may look. It is not really sillier than eating and drinking, or any other natural action to look at, while it is undoubtedly one of the least alloyed of the pleasures of the senses, if, indeed, it may not be said to be almost a supersensuous pleasure; for it seems, in some way past searching out, to possess the true magic which spiritualises sense.