22 a. At Damascus, 1852. Took a teaspoonful of paste, made from the dried leave of C. indica, sugar, and spices, soon after dinner in the e., letting it dissolve slowly on the tongue. After the lapse of an h. no change in feelings. Took another half teaspoonful followed by a cup of hot tea. Not long afterwards a fine nervous thrill shot through me accompanied with a burning sensation in epigastrium. It shot, throbbing along the nerves to the extremities of the body. The shot, throbbing along the nerves, to the extremities of the body. The sense of limitation confinement of one’s senses instantly fell away. The walls of my frame were burst outwards and tumbled into ruin; and without thinking what form I wore losing sight even of all idea of form I felt that I had existed through a vast extent of space. The blood pulsed from my heart sped through uncounted leagues before it reached to my extremities; the air drawn into my lungs expanded into seas of liquid ether, and the arch of my skull was broader than the arch of heaven. Within the concave that held my brain were the fathomless deeps of blue; clouds floated there and the winds of heaven rolled them together, and there shone the orb of the sun. All sensations, as they arose, suggested more or less coherent images. They presented themselves to me in a double form; one physical, and therefore to some extent tangible; the other spiritual, and revealing itself in a succession of splendid metaphors. The thrills which ran through my nervous system became more rapid and fierce, accompanied with sensations that steeped my whole bin in unutterable rapture. I was encompassed by a sea of light, through which played the pure, harmonious colours that are born of light. I fancied myself at the foot of the pyramid o Chops. I wished to ascend it, and was immediately there. Looking down it seemed built of plugs of Cavendish tobacco. Other and more wonderful illusions arose. I was moving over the desert in a barque of mother – of – pearl and studded with jewels of surpassing lustre. The sand was grains of gold, and my keel slid through them without jar of sound. The air was radiant with excess of light with no sun in view, and full of delicious perfumes, and harmonies floated around me. I revelled in a sensuous elysium, which was perfect, and beyond all I was filled with a boundless feeling of triumph over the grandest as well as subtlest forces of nature. My feelings took a warmth and glow from that pure animal joy which degrades not, but spiritualizes and ennobles our material part. The barque of pearl, the rainbows, the desert of golden sand vanished, and I was in a land of green and flowery lawns, divided by hills of gently undulating outline. But there was no water; all were asking for water. Honey was drawn up in dripping pitchers.
22 b. A remarkable fact was, that while I was most completely under the influence of these illusions, I knew myself to be seated in the tower of Antonio’s Hotel in Damascus, knew that I had taken haschisch, and that the gorgeous and ludicrous fancies were the effect of it. While gliding over the valley of the Nile and over the desert I saw the furniture and the mosaic pavement the niches, the ceiling, and the couch, and my companions in the room. Both sensations seemed simultaneous and equally palpable. I felt the absurdity of my illusions. I was double, not “swan and shadow” but rather Sphinx like, human and beast.
22 c. Later, the drug, which had been retarded by the influence of the dinner, began to make itself more powerfully felt. The visions were more grotesque and less agreeable; and there was a painful tension throughout my nervous system. I was twisted into various shapes, according to the ruling fancy, and yet convulsed with laughter at my own ridiculousness. Later still, my perceptions become more dim and confused I felt that I was in the grasp of some giant force and grew earnestly alarmed at the terrible stress under which my frame was labouring more and more. A fierce and furious heat radiated from my stomach throughout my system; my mouth and throat were dry and hard as if made of brass; and my tongue seemed as if a bar of rusty iron. I seized a pitcher of water and drank long and deeply; but I might as well have drunk so much air, for not only did it impart no moisture, but my palate and throat gave me no intelligence of having drunk at all. I stood in the centre of the room brandishing my arms convulsively, and heaving sighs. “Will no one,” I cried, “cast out this devil that has possession of me?” I no longer saw the room, nor my companions, but I heard one of them saying, “It must be real; he could not counterfeit such an expression as that; but it does look much like pleasure.” In my ignorance I had taken haschisch enough for six men, as I afterwards learned. The excited blood rushed through my frame with a sound like the roaring of mighty waters. It was projected into my eyes until I could no longer see; it beat thickly in my ears, and so throbbed in my heart that I feared the ribs would give way under its blows, I tore open my vest, placed my hand over the spot and tried to count the pulsations; but there were two hearts, beating one at the rate of a thousand beats a m., and the other with a slow dull motion. My throat I thought was filled with blood, and the streams were pouring from my ears. I felt them gushing warm down my cheeks and neck. With a maddened desperate feeling I fled from the room and walked over the flat terraced roof of the house. My body seemed to shrink and grow rigid as I wrestled with the demon, and my face to become wild, lean and haggard. I fancied my head a fleshless skull; I was tempted to leap from the parapet, but something pushed me back. I made my way back to my room in a state of keenest suffering. I was sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of unutterable agony and despair. The nerve tension gave me a sensation of great distress. My will seemed to grow weaker – I felt I should soon be powerless in the hands of the demon. I had a mortal fear of insanity. I threw myself on the bed with the excited blood roaring wildly in my ears, my heart throbbing with a force that seemed to be rapidly wearing away my life; my throat dry as a potsherd and my stiffened tongue cleaving to the roof of my mouth resisting no longer, but awaiting my fate.