By the Golden Gate eBook

Joseph M. Carey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about By the Golden Gate.
I was told that Europeans and Americans sometimes sought the opium-joints for the purpose of indulgence in the vice of smoking.  Even women were known to make use of it in this way.  The old man whom I visited was lying on his left side, with his head slightly raised on a hard pillow covered with faded leather.  He took the pipe in his right hand, the other, as I have already said, having been cut off in the mines.  Then he laid down the pipe by his side with the stem near his mouth.  The next movement was to take a kind of long rod, called a dipper, with a sharp end and a little flattened.  This he dipped in the opium which had the consistency of thick molasses.  He twisted the dipper round and then held the drop which adhered to it over the lamp, which was near him.  He wound the dipper round and round until the opium was roasted and had a brown colour.  He then thrust the end of the dipper with the prepared drug into the opening of the pipe, which was somewhat after the Turkish style with its long stem.  He next held the bowl of the pipe over the lamp until the opium frizzled.  Then putting the stem of the pipe in his mouth he inhaled the smoke, and almost immediately exhaled it through the mouth and nostrils.  While smoking he removed the opium, going through the same process as before, and it all took about fifteen minutes.  What the old man’s feelings were he did not tell us, but he seemed very contented, as if then he cared for nothing, as if he had no concern for the world and its trials.  But one must read the graphic pages of Thomas De Quincey in his “Confessions of an English Opium Eater,” in order to know what are the joys and what the torments of him who is addicted to the use of the pernicious drug.  It was while De Quincey was in Oxford that he came under its tyranny.  At first taken to allay neuralgic pain, and then resorted to as a remedy on all occasions of even the slightest suffering, it wove its chain around him like a merciless master who puts his servant in bonds.  But though given to its use all his life afterwards, in later years he took it moderately.  Still he was its slave.  A man of marvellous genius, a master of the English tongue, he had not full mastery of his own appetite; and one of such talent, bound Andromeda-like to the rock of his vice, ready to be devoured in the sea of his perplexity by what is worse than the dragon of the story, he deserves our pity, nay, even our tears.  He tells us how he was troubled with tumultuous dreams and visions, how he was a participant in battles, strifes; and how agonies seized his soul, and sudden alarms came upon him, and tempests, and light and darkness; how he saw forms of loved ones who vanished in a moment; how he heard “everlasting farewells;” and sighs as if wrung from the caves of hell reverberated again and again with “everlasting farewells.”  “And I awoke in struggles, and cried aloud, ‘I will sleep no more!’”


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By the Golden Gate from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.