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XII. TO-DAY, ZEUS; TO-MORROW, PROMETHEUS1 At what precise time in my experience I began to doubt the drug being, with me, so much a mere experiment as a fascinating indulgence , I do not now recollect. It may be that the fact of its ascendeney gradually dawned upon me; but, at any rate, whenever the suspicion became definite, I dismissed it by so varying the manner of the enjoyment as to persuade myself that it was experimental still. I had walked, talked, and dreamed under the hasheesh influence; I would now listen to music and see acting, that, under such circumstances , I might note the varying phenomena, if any occurred. To reach New York for the purpose I would go by water, sailing down the glorious Hudson under the full moon; and this would still be another opportunity for experimenting. Upon one of the largest and most beautiful of the steamers which ever glided down the shining pathway of the river upon a moonlight night of summer, I stepped, at eight o’clock in the evening, accompanied by several of my friends, and carrying in my pocket a box of boluses. The gang-plank was drawn in, and we were on our way. In the few moments which elapsed before the steward appeared, brandishing his noisy harbinger of things edible, I managed to swallow , unseen, a number of the spheroids contained in my box. On regaining the deck from that savory, subaqueous cavern where, amid sepulchral lights, five hundred Americans of us had, for the incredible space of fifteen minutes, been fiercely elbowing each other in insane haste to secure that grand national end, indigestion , we found the broad disk of the moon just above the horizon, 030 c12-c18 (117-172) 4/26/06 10:29 AM Page 117 and, on arm-chairs taken forward, sat down, with our toes thrust into the bulwark-netting, for our post-cœnatial2 smoke. Cigars and studently habits of thinking impelled us toward song, and for two hours, at least, the low rocks which skirt the upper channel echoed with “There is music in the air,” “Co-ca-che-lunk,” and other collegiate harmonies.3 The Opera, with its glory of lights, passionate song, orchestral crashes, and scenery, whirls the soul on with it, indeed, in a bewildering dance of delight; the ballad we love, sung feelingly by the woman we love, at that hour when to lift the curtains would only let in more twilight, is a calm rapture which is good for the heart; if it be not too near, the bugle discourses rich melody and spirit-stirring among the mountains of its birth; yet, beyond all other music, grant me a song trolled from manly throats, which keep good chord and time, and first learned within those homely walls which, to the true American collegian, are dearer than all the towers of Oxford. Reverend Union! it is not thine to deck thyself in the outworn trappings of feudal pomp; not even is it thine to bear upon thy brow the wrinkles of unnumbered years, though long before thou lackest such prestige its sign shall come upon thee. Thou hast no high places for lineage nor fat tables for gold; thou art beautiful neither in marble nor carved workmanship. Yet art thou the mother of thinkers and workers—high souls and brave hearts, which make their throb felt in the giant pulses of a great nation. To these Gracchi of thine dost thou point and say, “Behold my jewels.”4 With the love of thy sons thou art crowned more royally than turrets might crown thee; and better than all the remembrance of coronets upon thy calendar and ermine in thy halls is the thought that, grasping thy protectress hand, merit hath so often struggled up to fame out of the oblivion of namelessness and the clutch of poverty. It is in the American college, with its freedom from fictitious distinctions , its rejection of all odious badges, which set genealogy and money over mind and heart; its inculcation of manly self-government rather than the fear of tyrannic espionage; its unrestrained intercourse between congenial souls, and its grouping of congenialities by society bonds, that the most perfect development of the social and 118 THE HASHEESH EATER 030 c12-c18 (117-172) 4/26/06 10:29 AM Page 118 individual man takes place. Here it is that, by attrition of minds, unworthy eccentricities are rubbed off, while the personal...


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