Opiate Use in Literary and Middle-Class Society

use always attracted most attention. But at all levels of society,
opium and laudanum were commonly and unselfconsciously bought and used.
Few who took the drug regularly would have bothered to analyse the
reasons behind their consumption. As the discussion of popular
self-medication has shown, the drug could originally have been taken
for what can be called a `medical‘ need – sleeplessness, headache,
depression – but as it was often and quite normally self-prescribed,
the use continued perhaps after the strict `medical‘ condition had
gone. In reality the medical uses of opium shaded imperceptibly into
’non-medical‘ or what can be termed `social‘ ones. The type of
terminology now taken for granted in discussing opiate use and abuse
was not at all applicable to the situation when opium was openly
What would now be called `recreational‘ use of opium (and
what in the nineteenth century was termed the `luxurious‘ or
`stimulant‘ use of the drug) was, however, rarely spoken of. Although,
as reminiscences of the Fens indicate, even working-class use could
have its `stimulant‘ and recreational effects, at first opium was not
usually taken with such effects in mind, even if it did in practice
produce them. Self-medication was the most common reason for opiate
use. It is therefore surprising that historically the most attention
has always concentrated on examples of recreational use. The use of
opium in the early part of the nineteenth century by the circle of
Romantic writers and poets, and by their friends and associates, has
attracted the bulk of interest, even though, as Chapters 3 and 4 have
shown, popular usage was far more extensive at that time. In the
Romantic circle, the opium addiction of Thomas De Quincey and Samuel
Taylor Coleridge has been particularly emphasized. Some discussions
have drawn very direct and unsubtle parallels between the life of these
opium eaters in nineteenth-century England and the current drug
`scene‘. De Quincey has been equated with a ‚high-school drop-out‘, and
his pattern of opiate use has even been related to the current American
programme of methadone maintenance.1 A paraphrase of De Quincey’s life
was quite a regular component of medical journals at the height of the
drug `epidemic‘ of the 1 960s. Calculation of his dosage of opium in
current terms and analysis of his psychology, or of his experiences
under the influence of opium, somehow did duty as historical input to
the debate on drug use. Analysis of his untypical individual case was
easier than an examination of the place of opium in nineteenth-century
society as a whole.
Much more valuable work has been done from a
literary point of view; and the Romantics‘ use of opium has been widely
studied in so far as it contributed to their literary output. De
Quincey and Coleridge have attracted most attention in this respect,
too. Abrams, in a short study, The Milk of Paradise (1934), long ago
stated the view that opium had affected patterns of imagery in the
addicted writers, leading to `abnormal light perception‘ and
`extraordinary mutations of space‘. Elizabeth Schneider, however, in
Coleridge, Opium and Kubla Khan (1953), discussed in some depth the
poet’s composition of the poem long considered the epitome of an opium
reverie. Casting doubt on whether Coleridge really wrote the poem when
he said he did, in the summer of 1797, she traced its origins from a
`complex literary tradition‘ involving pseudo-oriental writing, the
Gothic fashion and even Milton. `There is reason to believe,‘ she
concluded, `that its special character was not determined or materially
influenced by opium.’2 Alethea Hayter’s recent work, however, allows
opium a more active role in literary creation. Her view, and
Schneider’s, that the `stimulant‘ effects of opium were new, and
largely confined to the Romantic circle, is open to criticism. A study
of opiate use in eighteenth-century society indicates that such effects
were widely known, but unrevealed because of `cultural prejudices‘ and
literary convention. The Romantic recognition of the value of the
imagination brought to the fore not new, but unspoken effects.3 But her
main assessment, that opium did indeed have an effect on literary
creation, stands as the most acceptable current analysis. In her view
the opium dreams of De Quincey, Crabbe or Wilkie Collins `crystallized
the particles of past experience – sensory impressions, emotions,
things read – into a symbolic pattern, an „involute“, which became part
of the life of the imagination and could be worked into literature‘ .4
The difficulty, however, remains, in proving that it was indeed opium
that aided the literary result. As De Quincey himself noted, `If a man
whose talk is of oxen should become an opium eater, the probability is
that … he will dream about oxen.’5
The poets‘ use of opium was
also not without its wider social significance. The life histories of
opium eaters like Coleridge and De Quincey are in no sense a substitute
for an analysis of opium’s place in nineteenth-century society; but
they do indicate what were contemporary attitudes and practice. De
Quincey’s flight from school, his wanderings through Wales, his journey
to London to raise money, his months of near starvation there in the
winter of 1802-3 and his friendship with the fifteen-year-old
prostitute, the famous `Ann of Oxford Street‘, are well-known, and
particular to his own experience. But the ease with which he could buy
the drug and the self-medication thereby involved were typical of any
opium user in the first half of the century. De Quincey’s first
purchase was in 1804, from a druggist near the Pantheon in Oxford
Street: `when I asked for the tincture of opium, he gave it to me as
any other man might do; and furthermore, out of my shilling, returned
to me what seemed to be a real copper halfpence…“ De Quincey’s dose
may at times have been enormous
– 320 grains a day in 1816, 480 grains in 1817-18 and in 1843.
the self-treatment of minor complaints involved in his story was
entirely commonplace. De Quincey first took it, on the recommendation
of an undergraduate friend, as a remedy for gastric pain and also to
ward off the incipient tuberculosis to which he was thought to be
succumbing. Indeed, at the height of the debate on Britain’s
involvement in the Indo-Chinese opium trade at the end of the century,
Surgeon-Major Eatwell even made an analysis of De Quincey’s medical
history from which he concluded that he had been suffering from
‚gastrodynia‘ and a chronic gastric ulcer -‚whatever might have been
the degree of abuse of opium, this drug had in reality been the means
of preserving and prolonging life‘.‘
The origin of each other’s
opium habit was always subject to intensive debate between De Quincey
and Coleridge. Each was anxious to accuse the other of taking opium for
the pleasurable sensations which resulted. After Coleridge’s death in
1834, Gillman, in a life of the poet, published a letter in which De
Quincey was said to have taken opium solely to obtain pleasurable
effects. Coleridge, on the other hand, maintained that he himself had
taken it only as an anodyne -’nor had I at any time taken the
flattering poison as a stimulus, or for any craving after pleasurable
sensations…‘ .S De Quincey, who had become friendly with Coleridge
while on a visit to Somerset in 1807, was deeply wounded. In response,
his Reminiscences of the Lake Poets were not charitable in their
treatment of Coleridge. In Coleridge and Opium Eating, De Quincey
reiterated his view that Coleridge had begun opiate use solely as a
source of luxurious sensations. `He speaks of opium excess … the
excess of twenty-five years – as a thing to be laid aside easily and
for ever within seven days; and yet, on the other hand, he describes it
pathetically, sometimes with a frantic pathos, as the scourge, the
curse, the one almighty blight which has desolated his life.“
reality, the origin of both writers‘ opium habits was a particular
illustration of the intertwining of `social‘ and `medical‘ usage so
much a feature of opiate; use at the time. De Quincey may have begun
taking the drug in self-medication – but he also took it for
pleasurable sensations and as a relief from anxiety. At times of
particular stress – for instance after the death of little Kate
Wordsworth in 1812, of whom he was particularly fond – his opium
consumption was enormous. Coleridge, too, was less than honest about
his habit. His contention that he was `seduced‘ into the use of
narcotics during a period of painful illness at Keswick in 1801 has
been widely accepted. In a letter to Poole in May of that year, he
described `the disgust, the loathing, that followed these fits, and no
doubt in part, too, the use of the brandy and laudanum which they
rendered necessary‘. 10 But Coleridge had been known to take laudanum
before this date. It had been given to him in Christ’s Hospital sick
ward; and in 1796 he had taken large quantities of laudanum for
toothache while at the cottage near Stowey. Kubla Khan was written in
the following year while Coleridge was taking opium ostensibly for
dysentery, but possibly, too, to combat the anxiety caused by financial
Such controversies are clearly important in any
evaluation of the poets‘ lives and writings. But they ignore the point
that self-medication could easily shade into recreational use.
Similarly, Coleridge’s accusation, made in 1830 and repeated by
Gillman, that De Quincey’s Confessions had `seduced‘ others into `this
withering vice through wantonness‘ ignored the established place of the
drug in Society. 12 The accusation that more of the pleasures than the
pains of opium eating appeared in the Confessions was to some extent
remedied by De Quincey himself in his 1856 revised version. Examples of
opium eaters who attributed their experimentation to reading the book
are undoubtedly to be found. The writer James Thomson and the poet
Francis Thompson both acknowledged such a debt. Certainly the author of
the anonymous book Advice to Opium Eaters (1823) maintained that it had
been hastily brought out to warn others from copying De Quincey.13 De
Quincey’s own defence against this charge stressed the links between
`stimulant‘ and `narcotic‘ use, medical and non-medical. `A man has
read a description of the powers lodged in opium,‘ he wrote in 1845,
`or … he has found those powers heraldically emblazoned in some
magnificent dream due to that agency … but if he never had seen the
gorgeous description of the gorgeous dress, he would (fifty to one)
have tried opium on the recommendation of a friend for toothache, which
is as general as the air, or for earache, or (as Coleridge) for
rheumatism. …114 The `medical‘ use of the drug could, he recognized,
easily develop into something more, even without specific advocacy.
acceptability of non-medical opiate use comes out most clearly in the
public response at the time. When the Confessions were first published
in the London Magazine in 1821 (and republished in book form in the
following year), the literary reaction was one of excitement. The opium
eating of the anonymous author and his stimulant use of the drug was a
matter for moral condemnation from some quarters. But in general the
reaction was interested and calm rather than hysterical. The
Confessions were the first detailed description of English opium
eating, although there were earlier, less widely circulated, medical
analyses. The majority of descriptions available up to that time had
presented the habit, along with opium smoking, as a peculiarly Eastern
custom.“ De Quincey’s eulogy of the drug proved the reality could be
different, and that English opium eating was possible. Reaction was
indeed a `mixture of intelligent appreciation and sanctimonious
condemnation‘. 16 The Confessions undoubtedly caused a furore, but the
overriding impression is of calm interest even where the reaction was
condemnatory. John Bull mounted a libellous attack on the author in
1824; Sir James Mackintosh praised the piece. The poet James
Montgomery, writing in the Sheffield Iris, and the North American
Review both cast doubt on its genuineness. 17
Opium eating was a
prime concern, but the literary value of the work and the identity of
the anonymous author were as important. The British Review was not
`disposed to acquiesce in the justness of this panegyric on opium‘. 18
The Medical Intelligencer, however, was full of admiration for the
`beautiful narrative‘ and concluded that opium itself should be more
widely used.19 The Confessions aroused interest, not fear or a desire
for control. They even became a subject for humour. De Quincey appeared
as the `English opium eater‘ in his friend John Wilson’s ‚Noctes
Ambrosianae‘, semi-humourous literary dialogues published in
Blackwood’s Magazine. General Hamley, a regular contributor to
Blackwood’s, wrote `A recent confession of an opium eater‘, a humorous
‚take-off‘ of De Quincey’s work, when it was republished in a collected
edition in 1856.20 Opium eating as a subject for humour, however
heavy-handed, indicated a relaxed reaction.
On the other hand,
Coleridge’s attempts to reduce or break off his habit also indicated
increased medical intervention in the condition and the beginnings of
changed reactions. Between 1808 and 1814 he consulted many physicians
and tried to restrict his quantity without success. After a period
under the care of Dr Brabant, he removed finally to Highgate in 1816 to
be permanently under the medical supervision of Dr Gillman. Here too,
however, he continued to obtain lesser amounts of opium secretly. Dunn,
the Highgate chemist, supplied him with three quarters of a pint of
laudanum at a time, enough for five days‘ supply.21 Coleridge’s habit
was never as notorious as De Quincey’s in his own life-time, and was
not well-known even to his close friends. Campbell states that his
indulgence in opium may have been suspected by the Wordsworths in 1802.
But it was only on his return from his stay in Malta in 1806 that his
friends were acquainted with the secret. Joseph Cottle, while on a
visit to Coleridge in Bristol in 1813, noted the strangeness of his
look. When both men called on Hannah More, Coleridge’s hand shook so
much that he spilled wine from the glass he was raising to his lips.
Cottle was told by a friend that this `arises from the immoderate
quantity of opium he takes.22
The social context of opiate use is
thus implicit in the life-histories of the two men – the use of the
drug in self-medication, its availability and the lack of concern
evoked. But their own impact on the place of opium in society was also
important. Their opium eating affected, as well as illustrated, the
response to opium.
Cottle’s own revelation of his friend’s opium
eating in his Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert
Southey was one indication of how later reactions to such usage were no
longer as tolerant as they had once been. Cottle waited until after
Coleridge’s death before publishing. By the late 1830s there was more
concern about the practice than there had been in the early 1820s.
Taking as justification a letter of the poet’s to Mr Wade in which he
had expressly ordered that a `full and unqualified narrative of my
wretchedness‘ be given after his death, Cottle heightened, as well as
expressed, the changed response. `When it is considered also, how many
men of high mental endowments have shrouded their lustre, by a passion
for this stimulus, and thereby, prematurely, become fallen spirits,‘ he
declaimed, `would it not be a criminal concession to unauthorised
feelings, to allow so impressive an exhibition of this subtle species
of intemperance to escape from public notice? … In the exhibition
here made, the inexperienced, in future, may learn a memorable lesson,
and be taught to shrink from opium, as they would from a scorpion….
The `lesson‘ of opium eating came increasingly to be read into
the experience of the two men. Indeed in some respects the social
significance of Coleridge and De Quincey was in the last, rather than
the first, decades of the century. Although the Confessions and
evidence of Coleridge’s opium use were never absent from discussions on
opiate use in the first half of the century, it was during the period
of anti-opium debate that their experiences were most directly related
to changed reactions to opiate use. De Quincey and Coleridge were an
established part of the domestic evidence with which the protagonists
in the debate could buttress their arguments for and against the drug’s
consumption. Reissues of De Quincey abounded. There were at least
thirteen editions and reissues of the Confessions between i880 and
1910, more than in the first half of the century. The poets‘
consumption of opium, their dosage, their periods of moderate addiction
and their longevity were all cited as evidence .24 Coleridge, De
Quincey and Wilkie Collins were `melancholy and well-known instances‘
of opium eating to the Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade
(even if in this case the object was to stress the harmfulness of
smoking rather than eating the drug). In evidence to the Royal
Commission on Opium in the 1 890s, by contrast, their longevity and the
consequent possibilities of long-continuing consumption were the point
at issue .25
De Quincey and Coleridge were, after all, only
exceptional and well-publicized instances of the commonplace use of
opium in respectable circles in the first half of the century.
Excessive concentration on their spectacular histories of addiction,
and, at times, enormous dosages, has tended to disguise the overlapping
of addiction, social and medical usage throughout middle-class society
at the time. Among the writers, medical men and friends of the two men,
use and addiction intermingled. In the circle which gathered round Dr
Thomas Beddoes of Bristol, a disciple of Dr John Brown, were Coleridge
and De Quincey, Charles Lloyd and Tom Wedgwood, the photographer, whose
reliance on opium was notable in the last years of his life. It was
through a recommendation of opium in Beddoes‘ edition of Brown’s
Elements of Medicine that Coleridge was supposed to have first taken
the drug. Two of Tom Wedgwood’s brothers married two sisters, whose
third sister was married to James Mackintosh. Mackintosh, the
philosophical writer and lawyer, was, like Beddoes, also a student and
admirer of Brown. He was generally reported to be an opium addict, and
while out in India, as Recorder of Bombay, he was in the habit of often
taking laudanum. Mackintosh was a friend of Robert Hall, the Baptist
preacher. Hall, too, was an opium addict and took as much as 120 grains
a day. The stirring quality of his sermons was said to result from his
use of the drug.26
Such a chain of inter-linking addiction is
remarkable only in that it was documented; patterns of literary
consumption were always the most accessible. Byron, for instance, took
laudanum occasionally. When his wife, thinking him insane, had his
belongings searched, she found not only a copy of Justine, but a phial
of Black Drop. In 1821, six years later, he recorded that he was using
alcohol, not opium, to raise his spirits – `I don’t like laudanum now
as I used to do.’27 Shelley was also heavily reliant on laudanum at
times of excessive physical and mental stress. He recorded, after a
violent disagreement with Southey in 1812, that `I have been obliged by
an accession of nervous attack to take a quantity of laudanum which I
did very unwillingly and reluctantly….‘ On his parting from his wife,
Harriet, at a time when he was suffering much bodily pain in addition,
`he would actually go about with a laudanum bottle in his hand, supping
thence as
need might be‘.28
Keats was taking laudanum in 1819 and
1820 and at one stage intended to commit suicide with the drug before
his death in Italy.29 Sir Walter Scott wrote The Bride of Lammermoor in
1819 in the course of a painful illness for which he was being given up
to two hundred drops of laudanum and six grains of opium a day.30
Branwell Bronte was overtly dependent on the drug (his consumption of
it originally began in imitation of De Quincey). For sixpence he could
buy a measure of laudanum at Bessy Hardacre’s drug store opposite The
Bull in Haworth; and he sometimes wheedled opium pills out of her when
he had no money. 31 Dickens took opium occasionally at the end of his
life, in particular to mitigate the stresses and physical ailments
induced by his reading tour in America in 1867-8. The drug’s effects
provided a notable theme in his unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin
Drood (1870). James Thomson’s poem `The City of Dreadful Night‘,
inspired by his use of opium; the secret addiction of Francis Thompson
who, taking six ounces of opium a day, had descended into destitution
before Wilfrid and Alice Meynell rescued him to write for Merry
England; James Mangan’s compensation for poverty and ill-health by
laudanum and alcohol – all were part of the interlocking patterns of
use and addiction.
Many other writers were undoubtedly dependent on
the drug. Wilkie Collins took laudanum originally to deaden the pain of
a rheumatic complaint and went on taking it for the rest of his life.
Towards the end of his life Collins was in almost constant pain,
carrying his supply of laudanum in a silver flask with him wherever he
went. He had written in 1865:

Who was the man who invented
laudanum? I thank him from the bottom of my heart … I have had six
delicious hours of oblivion; I have woken up with my mind composed; I
have written a perfect little letter … – and all through the modest
little bottle of drops which I see on my bedroom chimneypiece at this
moment. Drops, you are darling! If I love nothing else,
I love you!32

was in Collins’s writing that the influence of opium was most clearly
expressed. The Moonstone itself (1868) was written under the influence
of opium as Collins, aware of his mother’s impending death, struggled
to meet a deadline while plagued with acute pain in his eyes. Like his
part-autobiographical character, Ezra Jennings, the opium addict of the
novel, he found that the `progress of the disease has gradually forced
me from the use of opium to the abuse of it‘. 33
Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, whom Pickering has called `a well-balanced addict‘, took
opium and morphia regularly. Robert Browning was shocked to find that
`sleep only came to her in a red hood of poppies‘. As she wrote to Miss
Mitford, in 1840, `I took two draughts of opium last night – but even
the second failing to bring sleep. It is a blessed thing! – that sleep!
– one of my worse sufferings being the want of it. Opium – opium –
night after night – ! and some nights, during east winds, even opium
won’t do. …‘ Muriate of morphia she called her `elixir‘, but she was
quite able to give up the drug altogether when she was pregnant and
worried about its effect on the unborn child. Her use of the drugs was
simply a fact of her life and not an important one for her literary
output; Julia Ward Howe’s jealous contention that Mrs Browning relied
on `pinions other than her own‘ for the imagery and depth of her
writing remains in doubt.34 Jane Carlyle, too, although probably not
addicted, was taking much morphia in the 1840s. She was using the drug
quite regularly from 1846 to 1853 to help her depression and
sleeplessness. A dose given for her cough in 1846 induced, according to
Caroline Fox, `not beautiful dreams and visions, but a miserable
feeling of turning to marble herself and lying on the marble, her hair,
her arms, and her whole person petrifying and adhering to the marble
slab on which she
Regular middle-class use and addiction
was not simply a literary matter, although evidence for it in those
circles is most plentifully documented. Throughout `respectable‘
society addicts were to be found, with most note being taken of the
habits of the famous. Clive of India died in a fit after taking a
double dose of the opium to which he was accustomed. William
Wilberforce was first prescribed opium for ulcerative colitis in 1788;
Lord Carrington commented of him half a century later that `it is
extraordinary that his health was restored by that which to all
appearances would be ruined by it, namely the constant use of opium in
large quantities‘.36 In 1818, thirty years after his first
prescription, he was still taking the same dose, a four-grain pill
three times a day. Gladstone’s sister Helen, a convert to Rome, was an
invalid and a laudanum addict whom Gladstone himself found in Baden
Baden in 1845 `Very ill from laudanum‘, having taken a dose of three
hundred drops .37 John Thomson, whose Street Life in London was one of
the earliest documentary photographic series, was also an opium addict.
He, unlike most other users, had developed the habit after a lengthy
visit to the Far East.38 George Harley, Professor of Practical
Physiology at University College Hospital and later a writer on the
uses and abuses of opium, also became dependent on morphia (which he
took orally) after suffering intense eye pain. `I … crawled back into
bed, put out my hands, laid hold of the bottle containing the draught
of morphia, and drained it to the bottom.‘ Harley later cured himself
of his addiction by an agonizing period of abrupt withdrawal. After
eight sleepless nights, ten hours of oblivion left him cured.39
although not strictly dependent on the drug, took it for `stimulant‘
purposes. Horace Walpole remembered Lady Stafford saying to her sister,
`Well, child, I have come without my wit today‘ when she had not taken
her opium `which she was forced to do if she had any appointment, to be
in particular spirits‘. Jane, Duchess of Gordon, likewise took opium
regularly and was lively and gay.40
Florence Nightingale took opium
on her return from the Crimea, partly to counteract the effect of the
ending of her work there, partly, too, for a medical reason. In July
1866, when suffering severe back pain, she wrote that `Nothing did me
any good, but a curious little new fangled operation of putting opium
under the skin which relieves one for twenty-four hours – but does not
improve the vivacity or serenity of one’s intellect.’41 Southey’s
mother took opium in large quantities during her last illness. Southey
himself took the drug for sleeplessness, as did many others. In a
letter to Sir Humphry Davy, another of the circle round Beddoes at
Bristol, he complained of `nervous feelings of pain and agitation.
Tonight I try if opiates will send me to sleep, and when I sleep,
preserve me from broken yet connected dreams …‘.42
George IV was
given opiates, too, for their narcotic effect. The Duke of Wellington
commented in 1826 on the King’s excessive use of spirits : `he drinks
spirits morning, noon and night; and he is obliged to take laudanum to
calm the irritation which the use of spirits occasions …‘. Jane
Austen’s mother had opium similarly to help her sleep. Lady Sarah
Robinson, whose only daughter had recently died, was in 1826 calmed
from `an overwhelming rage‘ by the administration of `a quantity of
laudanum‘ .43
Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife, who suffered from
tuberculosis and a spinal deformity, was addicted to laudanum and died
of an overdose. Yet Rossetti nevertheless strongly urged Janey Morris,
in the course of a romance obsessively over-concerned with illhealth,
to take chlorodyne for neuralgia. 14 Oliver, the son of Ford Madox
Brown, Rossetti’s associate, advised Frederic Shields, the artist and,
like Rossetti, addicted to chloral, to take `A dose of chloral Monday,
sour milk Tuesday, Laudanum Wednesday, on Thursday a little spirits,
while on Friday you might modestly content yourself with fifteen to
twenty-five drops of chlorodyne. In this way you would not grow
hardened to any one of them, and each would retain its full power and
proper efficiency. 145
There were other less famous but nonetheless
`respectable‘ opium eaters. In Morwenstow in Cornwall, the opium taking
of the Rev. Robert Hawker was exaggerated by the stress of his wife’s
death in 1862. Hawker had a neighbour, Oliver Rouse, whose favourite
tipple was gin and paregoric.46 Mostly the opium use of these less
known circles went unremarked. In general, a gallery of such individual
opium users and eaters is certainly no reliable guide to the incidence
of usage at that time. It is, however, a valuable indication of how the
situation of open availability operated before the 1868 Pharmacy Act
and to a great extent beyond it. It is perhaps surprising to find that
famous personalities of the period were dependent on, or regular users
of, a drug the use of which is now shunned or regarded most usually as
symptomatic of a diseased or disturbed personality. Many managed their
dependence without the physical and mental deterioration, the social
incapacity, or the early death which is the stereotype of contemporary
narcotic addiction. Addiction, in fact, was not the point at issue for
those users of the drug and their contemporaries. The experiences, and
their publication, of Coleridge and De Quincey may with hindsight be
seen as landmarks in the process of changing perspectives on opiate
use, as helping gradually to engender a harsher, more restrictive
response. But for their contemporaries, opium was a simple part of
life, neither exclusively medical nor entirely social.


For an example of this tendency, see R. E. Reinert, `The confessions of
a nineteenth century opium eater: Thomas De Quincey‘, Bulletin of
Menninger Clinic, 16 (1972), pp. 455-9.
2. E. Schneider, Coleridge, Opium and Kubla Khan (University of Chicago Press, 1953), p. 17.
A. Knight, `The milk of paradise in the patent remedy: a study of the
uses of opium in eighteenth century English society and literature‘,
unpublished typescript, c.1971, argues that `stimulant‘ effects of the
drug were experienced by eighteenth-century writers. I am grateful to
Judith Blackwell for loaning me this typescript.
4. A. Hayter, Opium and the Romantic Imagination (London, Faber and Faber, 1968, paperback edn 1971), p. 335.
5. Quoted by A. Hayter, op. cit., p. 107.
6. T. De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater (London, Taylor and Hessey, 1822, Penguin edn 1971), P. 71.
W. C. B. Eatwell, `A medical view of Mr De Quincey’s case‘, appendix 1,
in A. H. Japp, Thomas De Quincey: His Life and Writings (London, John
Hogg, 1890).
8. J. Gillman, The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (London, William Pickering, 1838), vol. 1, p. 245.
Some of De Quincey’s criticisms of Coleridge are in `Samuel Taylor
Coleridge‘, pp. 93-4; and ‚Coleridge and opium eating‘, pp. 7 ][-111 in
The Works of Thomas De Quincey, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, Adam and Charles
Black, 1862).
10. J. D. Campbell, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. A Narrative of the Events of His Life (London, Macmillan, 1894), p. 122.
M. Lefebure, Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Bondage of Opium (London,
Victor Gollancz, 1974), P. 44, 199-200,251; E. L. Griggs, `Samuel
Taylor Coleridge and opium‘, Huntington Library Quarterly, 17 (1954),
PP. 357-8.
12. J. Gillman, op. Cit., p. 245.
13. Anon., Advice to Opium Eaters (London, W. R. Goodluck, 1823), preface.
14. H. A. Page, Thomas De Quincey: His Life and Writings, with Unpublished Correspondence (London, John Hogg, 1877), pp. 271-2.
15. Baron de Tott, Memoires du Baron de Tott, sur les Turcs et les Tartares (Amsterdam, no publisher, 1784), pp. 158-9.
M. Elwin, ed., Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, in Both
theRevised and the Original Texts with its Sequels, Suspiria de
Proftmdis and The English Mail Coach, by Thomas De Quincey (London,
Macdonald, 1956), Introduction.
17. H. A. Page, op. Cit., Pp. 237-8.
18. `Confessions of an English Opium Eater‘, The British Review and London Critical journal, 20 (1822), PP, 474-88.
19. `Confessions of an English Opium Eater‘, Medical Intelligencer, 3 (1822), pp. 116-18.
‚Noctes Ambrosianae‘, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, r4 (1823), PP.
485-6; `A recent confession of an opium-eater‘, ibid., 8o (1856), pp.
21. E. L. Griggs, op. Cit., pp. 36o and 364-78.
22. J.
Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey
(London, Houlston and Stoneman, 1847), pp. 360-61; J. D. Campbell, op.
Cit., p. 200.
23. J. Cottle, op. cit., pp. 348-9; Cottle’s `wretched
reminiscences‘ of Coleridge’s opium eating were heavily criticized in
the Quarterly Review, 59 (1839), PP. 1-33.
24. ‚Coleridge and opium‘, British Medical Journal, 2 (1884), p. 1219, and ibid, r (1885), pp. 109, 210.
`Opium eating and opium smoking‘, Friend of China, 11 (189o), pp.
138-40; P.P. 1894, LXI: Minutes of Evidence of the Royal Commission on
Opium, q. 16872.
26. This circle of opium users and addicts is
described in M. Lefebure, op. cit. pp. 61-2, and in A. Hayter, op.
Cit., pp. 27-8.
27. L. A. Marchand, Byron, a Biography (London, John Murray, 1957),
vol. 2, p. 559; P. Quennell, ed., Byron, a Self-Portrait. Letters and
Diaries, 1798-1824 (London, John Murray, 1950), vol. 2, p. 566.
T. L. Hood, ed., Letters of Robert Browning (London, John Murray,
1933), pp. 223-4; R. Holmes, Shelley, The Pursuit (London, Weidenfeld
and Nicolson, 1974), pp. III, 113, 115 and 391-2.
29. A. Hayter, op. cit., pp. 306-28. I am grateful to Robert Gittings for the information about Keats‘ suicide plans.
30. A. Hayter, op. Cit., p. 293.
31. W. Gerin, Branwell Bronte (London, Thomas Nelson, 1961), pp. 159, 289.
32. Quoted in P. Haining, ed., The Hashish Club (London, Peter Owen, 11975) pp. 66-8.
33. W. Collins, The Moonstone (London, 1868, Penguin edn 1966), p. 430.
G. Pickering, Creative Malady (London, Allen and Unwin, 1974), pp.
262-4; A. Hayter, Mrs Browning. A Poet’s Work and Its Setting (London,
Faber and Faber, 1962), pp. 58, 60-62, 67-8; A. Hayter, Opium, op.
Cit., pp. 278-9.
35. W. Monk, ed., The Journals of Caroline Fox
(London, Elek, 1972), p. 171; A. Hayter, A Sultry Month (London, Faber
and Faber, 1965), p. 156; L. and E. Hanson, Necessary Evil: The Life of
Jane Welsh Carlyle (London, Constable, 1952), PP. 388, 439 and 516.
36. J. Pollock, Wilberforce (London, Constable, 1977), P• 79.
37. S. G. Checkland, The Gladstones. A Family Biography 1764-1851 (Cambridge University Press, 1971) Pp. 290-91, 351 and 377-80;
M. R. D. Foot and H. C. G. Matthew, eds., The Gladstone Diaries (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1974), vol. 3, p. 487.
38. C. Beaton and G. Buckland, The Magic Image (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975), P. 74.
Mrs A. Tweedie, ed., George Harley (London, Scientific Press, 1899),
pp. 174-6. I am grateful to Mr L. M. Payne for drawing this reference
to my attention.
40. H. Walpole, Selected Letters (London, Dent,
1926), p. III ; A. Calkins, Opium and the Opium Appetite (Philadelphia,
J. Lippincott, 187 1), P• 139
41. G. Pickering, op. cit.
42. H. Davy, Fragmentary Remains, Literary and Scientific (London, John Churchill, 1858) PP. 42-3.
Duke of Wellington, Wellington and His Friends (London, Macmillan,
1965), pp. 69-70; R. W. Chapman, ed., ,lane Austen’s Letters to her
Sister Cassandra and Others (London, O.U.P., 1952), p. 26; V.
Dickinson, ed., Miss Eden’s Letters (London, Macmillan, 1919), p. 132.
J. Bryson and J. C. Troxell, eds., Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Jane
Morris: Their Correspondence (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1976), pp.131-2.
D. I. Macht and N. L. Gessford, `The unfortunate drug experiences of
Dante Gabriel Rossetti‘, Bulletin of the Institute for the History of
Medicine, 6 (1938), PP. 34-61.
46. P. Brendon, Hawker of Morwenstow. Portrait of a Victorian Eccentric (London, Jonathan Cape, 1975), pp. 194-7, 200, 212, 224.




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