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liant garments that shone in the sun, besought me to give them the blessing of water. Their hands were full of branches of the coralhoneysuckle, in bloom. These I took; and breaking off the flowers one by one, set them in the earth. The slender trumpet-like tubes immediately became shafts of masonry; the lip of the flower changed into a circular mouth of rose-coloured marble; and the people lowered their pitchers, and drew them up again, filled to the brim and dripping with honey."
Strange to say, all the time these visions were going on, Mr. Taylor was perfectly conscious that he was seated in an apartment of Antonio's hotel in Damascus, and that his dreams were all simply the result of having taken hashish.
"Metaphysicians," he remarks," say that the mind is incapable of performing two operations at the same time, and may attempt to explain this phenomenon by supposing a rapid and incessant vibration of the perceptions between the two states. This explanation, however, is not satisfactory to me; for not more clearly does a skilful musician with the same breath blow two distinct musical notes from a bugle than I was conscious of two distinct conditions of being in the same moment. Yet, singular as it may seem, neither conflicted with the other. My enjoyment of the visions was complete and absolute, and undisturbed by the faintest doubt of their reality; while, in some other chamber of my brain, Reason sat coolly watching them, and heaping the liveliest ridicule on their fantastic features."
It will occur to many of our readers, that the only phenomenon that resembles the above, in a normal mental state, is that of what is commonly and expressively called poetic inspiration, in which the most lively and passionate realisation of a series of events and images goes on simultaneously with the conscious exercise of the cold skill of the artistic intellect.
"The drug, which had been retarded in its operation on account of having been taken after a meal, now began to make itself more powerfully felt. The visions were more grotesque than ever, but less agreeable; and there was a painful tension throughout my nervous system. . . . I was a mass of transparent jelly, and a confectioner poured me into a twisted mould. I threw my chair aside, and writhed and tortured myself for some time to force my loose substance into the mould. At last, when I had so far succeeded that only one foot remained outside, it was lifted off, and another mould, of still more crooked and intricate shape, substituted. I have no doubt that the contortions through which I went to accomplish the end of my gelatinous destiny would have been extremely ludicrous to a spectator, but to me they were painful and disagreeable. The sober half of me went into fits of laughter over them. . . . . I had laughed until my eyes overflowed profusely. Every drop that fell immediately became a large loaf of bread, and tumbled upon the shop-board of a baker at Damascus. The more I laughed, the faster the loaves fell, until such a pile was raised
about the baker that I could hardly see the top of his head. 'The man will be suffocated,' I cried; but if he were to die, I cannot stop.' My perceptions now became more dim and confused. I felt that I was
in the grasp of some giant force, and in the glimmering of my fading reason grew earnestly alarmed; for the terrible stress under which my frame laboured increased every minute. A fierce and furious heat radiated from my stomach throughout my system; my mouth and throat were as dry and hard as if made of brass; and my tongue, it seemed to me, was a bar of rusty iron."
In this condition Mr. Taylor remained for some time, deriving no alleviation from great draughts of water, "heaving sighs that seemed to shatter his whole being;" and yet, at this crisis of his insanity, he was fully able to remark that "there was a scream of the wildest laughter, and my countryman sprang upon the floor, exclaiming, Ye gods, I am a locomotive! This was his ruling hallucination; and for the space of two or three hours he continued to pace to and fro, with a measured stride, exhaling his breath in violent jets; and, when he spoke, dividing his words into syllables, each of which he brought out with a jerk; at the same time turning his hands at his sides, as if they were the cranks of imaginary wheels.". The Englishman, on finding the drug begin to act, characteristically retired to his apartment, and could never be prevailed upon to relate the results. Midnight arrived, though every minute appeared centuries, and the terrific trance still continued:
"By this time I had passed through the paradise of hashish, and was plunged into its fiercest hell. . . . . The excited blood rushed through my frame with a sound like the roaring of mighty waters. It was projected into my eyes until I could no longer see; it beat thickly in my ears; and so throbbed in my heart, that I feared the ribs would give way under its blows. I tore open my vest, placed my hand over the spot, and tried to count the pulsations; but there were two hearts; one beating at the rate of a thousand beats a minute, and the other with a slow dull motion. My throat, I thought, was filled to the brim with blood, and streams of blood were pouring from my ears. . . . . I fled from the room, and walked over the flat terraced roof of the house. My body seemed to shrink and grow rigid, and my face to become wild, lean, and haggard. . . . . Involuntarily I raised my hand to feel the leanness and sharpness of my face. O horror! the flesh had fallen from my bones, and it was a skeleton-head I carried on my shoulders. With one bound I sprang to the parapet, and looked down into the silent courtyard, then filled with the shadows thrown into it by the rising moon. Shall I cast myself down headlong? was the question I proposed to myself; but though the horror of the skeleton delusion was worse than the fear of death, there was an invisible hand at my breast which pushed me away from the brink. I made my way back to the room in a state of the keenest suffering. My companion
was still a locomotive, rushing to and fro, and jerking out his syllables with the disjointed accent peculiar to a steam-engine. His mouth had turned to brass, like mine, and his hand raised the pitcher to his lips in the attempt to moisten it; but, before he had taken a mouthful, set the pitcher down again with a yell of laughter, crying out, 'How can I take water into my boiler, while I am letting off steam?"
Mr. Taylor tells us that he was too far gone to fall into the absurdity of this. He felt himself sinking deeper and deeper into unutterable agony and despair. There was nothing resembling ordinary pain; but a distress, from tension of nerve, which could not be described, because unlike any previous experience, and which was far worse than any pain. The remnant of the will was gradually disappearing, without any corresponding diminution of consciousness; and a dreadful fear arose that what he was now suffering was real and permanent insanity. Indeed, it appears from a fact mentioned by Dr. Madden in his Travels in Turkey, &c., that this fear was not so groundless as Mr. Taylor afterwards came to regard it. Dr. Madden assures us that out of thirteen male inmates of a Turkish madhouse, no fewer than four had gone mad from over-doses of hashish. The rest of this profoundly interesting and vividly-expressed description, which we have reluctantly abridged, must be given in Mr. Taylor's words:
"The thought of death, which also haunted me, was far less bitter than this dread. I knew that in the struggle which was going on in my frame, I was borne fearfully near the dark gulf; and the thought that, at such a time, both reason and will were leaving my brain, filled me with an agony, the depth and blackness of which I should vainly attempt to portray. I threw myself on my bed, the excited blood still roaring wildly in my ears, my heart throbbing with a force that seemed to be rapidly wearing away my life, my throat dry as a potsherd, and my stiffened tongue cleaving to the roof of my mouth. My companion was approaching the same condition; but as the effect of the drug upon him had been less violent, so his stage of suffering was more clamorous. He cried out to me that he was dying, and reproached me vehemently because I lay there silent, motionless, and apparently careless of his danger. Why will he disturb me?' I thought. He thinks he is dying, but what is death to madness? Let him die; a thousand deaths were more easily borne than the pangs I suffer.' While I was sufficiently conscious to hear his exclamations, they only provoked my keen anger; but after a time, my senses became clouded, and I sank into a stupor. As near as I can judge, this must have been three o'clock in the morning, rather more than five hours after the hashish began to take effect. I lay thus all the following day and night, in a state of blank oblivion, broken only by a single wandering gleam of consciousness. I recollect hearing François' voice. He told me afterwards that I rose, attempted to dress myself, drank two cups of coffee, and then fell back into the
same death-like stupor; but of all this I did not retain the least know. ledge. On the morning of the second day, after a sleep of thirty hours, I awoke again to the world, with a system utterly prostrate and unstrung, and a brain clouded with the lingering images of my visions. I knew where I was, and what had happened to me; but all that I saw still remained unreal and shadowy. There was no taste in what I ate, no refreshment in what I drank; and it required a painful effort to comprehend what was said to me, and return a coherent answer. Will and reason had come back, but they still sat unsteadily on their thrones. My friend, who was much further advanced in his recovery, accompanied me to the adjoining bath, which I hoped would assist in restoring me. It was with great difficulty that I preserved the outward appearance of consciousness. In spite of myself, a veil now and then fell over my mind; and after wandering for years, as it seemed, in some distant world, I awoke with a shock to find myself in the steamy halls of the bath, with a brown Syrian polishing my limbs. . . . A glass of very acid sherbet was presented to me; and after drinking it, I experienced instant relief. Still the spell was not wholly broken, and for two or three days I continued subject to frequent involuntary fits of absence, which made me insensible for the time to all that was passing around me. I walked the streets of Damascus with a strange consciousness that I was in some other place at the same time, and with a constant effort to reunite my divided perceptions. Previous to the experiment, we had decided on making a bargain for the journey to Palmyra. . . . . But all the charm which lay in the name of Palmyra, and the romantic interest of the trip, was gone. I was without courage and without energy, and nothing remained for me but to leave Da
Yet, fearful as my rash experiment proved to me, I did not regret having made it. It revealed to me deeps of rapture and of suffering which my natural faculties never could have sounded. It has taught me the majesty of human reason and of human will, even in the weakest; and the awful peril of tampering with that which assails their integrity."
The action of hashish, like that of opium, is very different with different persons. We have heard of several attempts to excite the fantasia proving utter failures; indeed, failure seems to be far more frequent than success. Probably the experience of M. de Saulcy and his friends, recorded in his Journey round the Dead Sea, would be that of at least nine English, or French, hashish-eaters out of ten. "The experiment," "The experiment," says this traveller, "to which we had recourse for an amusement, proved so extremely disagreeable, that I may say with certainty that none of us is likely to wish to try it again. Hashish is an abominable poison,.. which we had the folly to take in excessive doses one New-Year's day. We expected a delightful evening; but were nearly killed through our imprudence. I, who had taken the largest dose, remained insensible for above twenty-four hours;
after which I woke to find myself completely shattered in nerves, and subject to nervous spasms and incoherent dreams, which seemed to last hundreds of years."
It is to be observed, that almost all the foregoing experiments were made with doses far greater than are usually taken by habitual hashish-eaters in the East. According to Dr. O'Shaughnessy, half-a-grain is considered a sufficient quantity to be taken at a time in India. There is no proof that, when taken with moderation, and with the purpose only of causing the gentle exhilaration produced by a prudent use of wine or tea, the one would be more damaging than the others. The testimonies of Dr. Burnes, Dr. Macpherson, and Dr. Eatwell (quoted by Johnston), concerning the amount of effect produced by opium in countries where it is habitually taken, might probably stand good for hashish also. Dr. Burnes, long resident at the court of Scinde, writes, that "in general the natives do not suffer much from the use of opium. It does not seem to destroy the powers of the body, or to enervate the mind, to the degree that might be imagined." Dr. Macpherson observes of the Chinese, that "although the habit of smoking opium is universal among rich and poor, yet they are a powerful, muscular, and athletic people; and the lower orders more intelligent, and far superior in mental acquirements, to those of corresponding rank in our own country." Dr. Eatwell writes:
"The question to be determined is, not what are the effects of opium used in excess, but what are its effects on the moral and physical constitution of the mass of individuals who use it habitually, and in moderation, either as a stimulant to sustain the frame under fatigue, or as a restorative and sedative after labour, bodily or mental? Having passed three years in China, I can affirm thus far, that the effects of the abuse of the drug do not come very frequently under observation; and that when cases do occur, the habit is frequently found to have been induced by the presence of some painful chronic disease, to escape from the sufferings of which the patient has fled to this resource. . . : There are doubtless many who indulge in the habit to a pernicious extent, led by the same morbid influences which induce men to become drunkards in even the most civilised countries; but these cases do not, at all events, come before the public eye. As regards the effects of the habitual use of the drug on the mass of the people, I must affirm that no injurious results are visible. . . . I conclude, therefore, that proofs are wanting to show that the moderate use of opium produces more pernicious effects upon the constitution than the moderate use of spirituous liquors; whilst, at the same time, it is certain that the consequences of the former are less appalling in their effects upon the victim, and less disastrous to society at large, than the consequences of the abuse of the latter." Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. xi.
Hashish is now in considerable use as a medicament, under