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I. THE NIGHT ENTRANCE About the shop of my friend Anderson the apothecary1 there always existed a peculiar fascination, which early marked it out as my favorite lounging-place. In the very atmosphere of the establishment, loaded as it was with a composite smell of all things curative and preventive , there was an aromatic invitation to scientific musing, which could not have met with a readier acceptance had it spoken in the breath of frankincense. The very gallipots grew gradually to possess a charm for me as they sat calmly ranged upon their oaken shelves, looking like a convention of unostentatious philanthropists, whose silent bosoms teemed with every variety of renovation for the human race. A little sanctum at the inner end of the shop, walled off with red curtains from the profane gaze of the unsanative,2 contained two chairs for the doctor and myself, and a library where all the masters of physic were grouped, through their sheep and paper representatives , in more friendliness of contact than has ever been known to characterize a consultation of like spirits under any other circumstances . Within the limits of four square feet, Pereira and Christison3 condensed all their stores of wisdom and research, and Dunglison and Brathwaite4 sat cheek by jowl beside them. There stood the Dispensatory , with the air of a business-like office, wherein all the specifics of the materia medica had been brought together for a scientific conversazione,5 but, becoming enamored of each other’s society, had resolved to stay, overcrowded though they might be, and make an indefinite sitting of it. In a modest niche, set apart like a vestibule from the apartments of the medical gentlemen, lay a shallow case, 010 c1-c4 (15-47) 4/26/06 10:28 AM Page 15 which disclosed, on the lifting of a cover, the neatly-ordered rank of tweezers, probe, and lancet, which constituted my friend’s claim to the confidence of the plethoric community; for, although unblessed with metropolitan fame, he was still no “Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.”6 Here many an hour have I sat buried in the statistics of human life or the history of the make-shifts for its preservation. Here the details of surgical or medical experiment have held me in as complete engrossment as the positions and crises of romance; and here especially, with a disregard to my own safety which would have done credit to Quintus Curtius,7 have I made upon myself the trial of the effects of every strange drug and chemical which the laboratory could produce. Now with the chloroform bottle beneath my nose have I set myself careering upon the wings of a thrilling and accelerating life, until I had just enough power remaining to restore the liquid to its place upon the shelf, and sink back into the enjoyment of the delicious apathy which lasted through the few succeeding moments. Now ether was substituted for chloroform,8 and the difference of their phenomena noted, and now some other exhilarant , in the form of an opiate or stimulant, was the instrument of my experiments, until I had run through the whole gamut of queer agents within my reach. In all these experiences research and not indulgence was my object, so that I never became the victim of any habit in the prosecution of my headlong investigations. When the circuit of all the accessible tests was completed, I ceased experimenting, and sat down like a pharmaceutical Alexander, with no more drug-worlds to conquer. One morning, in the spring of 185-,9 I dropped in upon the doctor for my accustomed lounge. “Have you seen,” said he, “my new acquisitions?” I looked toward the shelves in the direction of which he pointed, and saw, added since my last visit, a row of comely pasteboard cylinders inclosing vials of the various extracts prepared by Tilden & Co.10 Arranged in order according to their size, they confronted me, as pretty a little rank of medicinal sharpshooters as could gratify the 16 THE HASHEESH EATER 010 c1-c4 (15-47) 4/26/06 10:28 AM Page 16 eye of an amateur. I approached the shelves, that I might take them in review. A rapid glance showed most of them to be old acquaintances. “Conium, taraxacum, rhubarb—ha! what is this?11 Cannabis Indica?” “That,” answered the doctor, looking with a parental fondness upon his new treasure, “is a preparation of the East Indian hemp, a powerful agent in...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813541143
Print ISBN
9780813538686
MARC Record
OCLC
78583948
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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