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as possible; and finally, into the space betwixt the stakes they throw red-hot stones. They have among them a species of hemp resembling flax, except that it is both thicker and larger. . . . . The Scythians take the seed of this hemp; and placing it beneath the woollen fleeces, . . . they throw it upon the red-hot stones, when immediately a perfumed vapour ascends stronger than from any Grecian stove. This to the Scythians is in the place of a bath; and it excites from them cries of exultation."
Dioscorides and Galen allude to certain properties of hemp as a pain-allayer. M. Virey has endeavoured to show that the "Nepenthes, which the wife of Thone
In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena,"
must have been no other than hashish. This drug seems always to have been known to the Egyptians; who of old argued, according to Diodorus Siculus, that Homer must have lived in their country, from his possession of the secret known to the women of Egyptian Thebes. Pliny mentions hemp as adverse to virile power. In the Arabian Nights hashish is mentioned under the name of beng. But the chief historical interest of the drug is in connection with the strange and formidable sect of the Ishmaelites, who, in the time of the Crusades, spread throughout and beyond the Mussulman world a terror out of all proportion to their numbers. By means of this narcotic, the chief of the sect, the "Old Man of the Mountain," obtained over his followers an influence more absolute than has ever, before or since, been possessed by one man over others. Henry Count of Champagne visited the leader of the sect, who took him to the top of a high tower, on the battlements of which were stationed men in white robes. "I doubt," said the Old Man, "whether you have any subjects so obedient as mine;" and, making a sign to two of the sentinels upon the tower, they precipitated themselves from it, and were dashed to pieces. Summoned by the envoy of a powerful enemy to submit, the sheik called a soldier, and ordered him to kill himself, which he forthwith did. "Tell your master," said the Ishmaelite, "that I have sixty thousand men who would do the same." Marco Polo's romantic and picturesque account of the discipline by which this terrible sect of the "Assassins" was created and maintained seems to be true in its main features:
"You shall hear all about the Old Man of the Mountain, as I Marco Polo heard related by many persons. He was called in their language Alaodin; and had caused to be formed in a valley between two mountains the largest and most beautiful garden that ever was seen. There grew all the finest fruits in the world; and it was adorned with the most beautiful houses and palaces, the interior being richly
gilded, and furnished with finely-coloured pictures of birds and beasts, and the most striking objects. It contained several conduits, through which flowed water, wine, honey, and milk. Here were ladies and damsels, unequalled in beauty and the skill with which they sang and played on instruments of every description. Now the Old Man made his people believe that this garden was Paradise; and he formed it there because Mohammed had given the Saracens to believe that those who went into that place would meet great numbers of beautiful women, and find rivers of water, wine, milk, and honey: hence the visitors were led to think that this was really Paradise. Into this garden he admitted no man, except those whom he wished to make Assassins. The entry to the spot was commanded by a castle so strong, that he did not fear any power in the world. He kept in his court all the youths of the country between twelve and twenty years of age; and when he thought proper, selected a number who had been well instructed in the description of Paradise. He gave them a beverage which threw them into a deep sleep, then carried them into the garden and made them be awakened. When any one of them opened his eyes, saw this delightful spot, and heard the delicious music and songs, he really believed himself in the state of blessedness. When again, however, he was asleep, he was brought out into the castle; when he awoke in great wonder, and felt deep regret at having left that delightful abode. He then went humbly to the Old Man, worshipping him as a prophet. The chief then named to him a great lord whom he wished him to kill. The youth cheerfully obeyed; and if in the act he was taken and put to death, he suffered with exultation, believing that he was to go into the happy place. . . . . Thus scarcely any one could escape being slain, when the Old Man of the Mountain desired it."
Marco Polo's account is corroborated by Arabian writers; and the historian Von Hanmer does not dispute its probable veracity. Sylvestre de Sacy has demonstrated that the word 'assassin' is a corruption of hashishin, and has provided us with much curious information on the subject of hashish. The following account of the discovery of the herb-or rather one of its discoveries, for we have seen that it was known to the ancients-is taken by M. Sylvestre de Sacy from the Arabic:
"In the year 658 [of the Hegira], I asked the Scheik Djafar Schirazi, the son of Mohammed, and monk of the order of Haïder, how the properties of this drug came to be discovered; and how, after being confined to the Fakirs, its use became general. This was his answer: 'Haïder, the chief of all the scheiks, practised many exercises of devotion and mortification. He took but little nourishment, carried his detachment from every thing belonging to the world to a surprising extreme, and was of the most extraordinary piety. . . He himself lived alone in a corner of his convent, and there passed more than ten years without going out or seeing any one but myself. One very hot day the scheik went out alone into the country; and when he returned, we remarked an air of joy and cheerfulness on his countenance
very different from its usual appearance. He allowed his Fakir companions to visit him, and began conversing with them. When we saw the scheik thus humanised. . . . we asked him the cause of so surprising a circumstance. . . . . He replied, . . . . "I noticed that every plant was in a state of perfect calm, without experiencing the least agitation, by reason of the extreme heat, and the absence of the slightest breath of wind; but, passing by a certain plant, I observed that it waved gracefully with a gentle swaying, as if inebriated by the fumes of wine. I began plucking the leaves of this plant and eating them; and they have produced in me the gaiety you have noticed.""""
The poet Mohammed Dimaschki, the son of Ali, also attributes the discovery to the Sheik Haïder, in an ode of which these are specimen passages:
"Leave wine, and take instead the cup of Haïder, which exhales the smell of amber. Never has wine evoked the delight which is produced by this beneficent cup: close your ears, then, to the madman who would dissuade you from the draught. Never has the priest
of a Christian sacrifice mingled the juice of it in his profane goblet."
Another poet, Ahmed Halebi, likewise attributes the discovery to Haïder; and celebrates particularly one of the properties for which the herb is famous in the East, in verses which M. S. de Sacy thus renders into French :
"Telle jeune beauté a la taille légère, que j'avais toujours vue prête à prendre la fuite, dont jamais le visage ne s'était offert à mes regards qu'avec les traits farouches d'une fierté cruelle.
Je l'ai rencontrée un jour avec un visage riant, une humeur douce et facile, et toutes les grâces d'une société pleine de douceur et de charmes.
Je lui ai témoigné ma reconnaissance de ce
qu'à tant de rebuts avait enfin succédé un accueil favorable.
Tu n'en es pas redevable, m'a-t-elle répondu, au caractère que j'ai reçu de la nature. Rends grâces à celui qui t'a concilié mes faveurs, au vin de l'indigent:
C'est le haschischa, l'herbe de la joie
Veux-tu te rendre maître à la chasse d'une jeune et timide gazelle? aie soin qu'elle paisse le feuillage du chauvre."
As a set-off against the praises of hashish by the Arabic poets, let us hear what an Arabic physician says: "Let us turn aside from the erroneous paths of men. The truth is, that there is nothing more injurious to the human constitution than this herb." Alaeddin, son of Nefis, also bears witness: "I have had ample experience; and I have seen that the use of this drug produces low inclinations, and debases the soul. The faculties of those who take it are degraded more and more; so that at last, so to say, they have none of the attributes of humanity left." Makrizi (translated by M. de Sacy) tells us, that for a long
period it was considered disgraceful to eat hashish; and that laws were made against the use of it, one of which was, that the offender should have all his teeth extracted. "But at last, in the year 815, this cursed drug began to be publicly used, . . . and the most refined persons were not ashamed of making presents of it to one another. The consequence was, that vileness of sentiment and manners became general; shame and modesty vanished from among men; they learned to boast of their vices; and nothing of manhood remained but the form."
Let us now set before our readers such authentic personal experiences as we have been able to collect from books and otherwise. These accounts of the "pleasures of hashish" carry their antidote with them; and few, we imagine, will be disposed to become "assassins" under penalties so unpleasant as we shall set before them.
M. Moreau, who has gone more fully into the subject of the effects of hashish upon the human system than any other writer, concludes that there is not only an analogy, but an identity, between the mental conditions of insanity and fantasia produced by this narcotic. Even the general exhilaration, which is the result of a moderate dose of hashish, closely resembles that which is very frequently the precursor of a paroxysm of madness. This exhilaration is thus described by M. Moreau :
"It is real happiness which is produced by hashish; an enjoyment entirely moral, and by no means sensual, as might be imagined. For the hashish-eater is happy, not like the gourmand, or the famished man when satisfying his appetite, or the voluptuary in the gratification of his desires; but like one who hears news that fill him with joy, or like the miser counting his stores, or the successful gambler, or the ambitious man in the moment of attainment."
In a more advanced stage of the intoxication
"We become the sport of impressions of every kind. The course of our ideas may be broken by the slightest cause. We are turned, so to speak, by every wind. By a word or a gesture, our thoughts may be successively directed to a multitude of different subjects with a rapidity and lucidity truly marvellous. The mind becomes possessed with a feeling of pride corresponding to the exaltation of its faculties. Those who make use of hashish in the East, when they wish to give themselves up to the fantasia, withdraw themselves carefully from every thing that could give a melancholy direction to their delirium. They take all the means which the dissolute manners of the East place at their disposal; . . . and they find themselves almost transported to the Paradise of the Prophet."
Under the influence of hashish, M. Moreau has frequently found distance immensely exaggerated, every thing appearing to
the eye as it does through the wrong end of an opera-glass. Such are frequently the illusions of true insanity. But in nothing are the hashish-visions and lunacy so curiously identified as in the consciousness and partial power of will which commonly characterises both. For a time the power of hashish may be yielded to or not, at the choice of the will; and it is only in extreme intoxication that the visions are wholly uncontrollable. "The marked correspondence," says a writer in the British and Foreign Medical Review, "between the phenomena of insanity and those which are induced by the introduction of such substances into the blood, must not be overlooked in any attempt to arrive at the true pathology of the former condition, or to bring it within the domain of the therapeutic art."
M. Berthault, in his Thesis for the Doctor's Degree, gives the best summary of the physical and psychical effects of hashish which we have met with; he also adds some interesting experiences of his own as to the fantasia. One day he had swallowed a large dose; and while under the effect of it, the band of a regiment of dragoons suddenly began to play beneath his windows. Never, he tells us, had he known what music was till then. His perceptive powers were so much intensified, that he became able to distinguish the part taken by each instrument in the band as well as the best leader of an orchestra could have done. He experienced, in a remarkable degree, that extraordinary materialisation of ideas, which seems to be one of the most constant effects of the drug when taken in large quantities. The elements of the harmonies heard by him assumed the form of ribbons of a thousand changing colours, intertwisting, waving, and knotting themselves in a manner apparently the most capricious: "untwisting all the chains that tie the hidden soul of harmony," says Milton; and what occurs to the poet as the best figure under which to represent his idea, with the hashish-eater assumes reality. The experience of Theodore Gaultier, the artist, when under the effects of hashish, was curiously the converse of that of M. Berthault. Colours to him represented themselves as sounds, which produced very sensible vibrations and undulations of the air. M. Berthault's hallucination of the ribbons after a while changed; but only to become more material and tangible. Each note became a flower; and there were as many different kinds of flowers as notes; and these formed wreaths and garlands, in which the harmony of the colours represented that of the sounds. The flowers soon gave place to precious stones of various kinds; which rose in fountains, fell again in cascades, and streamed away in all directions. The next phase of the vision will at once suggest Coleridge's Kubla Khan, which, our readers will remember, was written under a similar inspiration. The band began to play a