1880s

Laudanum Poison! Dose Three months old, 2 drops; one year old, 4 drops; four years old, 6 drops; ten years old, 14 drops; twenty years old, twenty drops. Steelman and Archer, Wholesale Druggists, No. 117 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pa.

‘A room like a dream, a really spiritual room, where the stagnant atmosphere is lightly tinted rose and blue.

‘Here the soul bathes in indolence, scented with desire and regret.-It seems like a twilight, the pale blue and rose, a voluptuous dream in an eclipse.

‘The shapes of the furnishings are long, prostrate, languid. The furnishings are dreamlike; they seem endowed with somnambulist life, like vegetal and mineral existence. The fabrics speak a muted language, like flowers, like skies, like sunsets.

‘No artistic abominations on the walls. Compared with pure dream, and unanalyzed impression, all definite, all representational art is blasphemy. Here everything has abundant light with the delicious dark of harmony…

‘To what well-wishing demon do I owe this ambiance of mystery, of silence, peace, and these perfumes’ O blessedness! What we generally call life, even in its happiest unfolding, has not one thing in common with the supreme life I am knowing now and savoring minute by minute, second by second!

‘No! There are no more minutes; there are no more seconds. Time has disappeared. Eternity reigns, an eternity of bliss!

‘But a loud, terrific knocking shakes the door, and, as in a hellish dream, I feel as though I just took a pickaxe in my stomach…

‘And the perfume of another world that intoxicated my perfected sensibility, alas! has been replaced by fetid odors of tobacco mixed with I don’t know what nauseating mustiness. Now I’m breathing the rancid stink of desolation.

‘In this world, so narrow yet so filled with disgust, only one thing makes me smile; the vial of laudanum, my old and terrible lover; like all my lovers, alas! fertile with caresses and betrayals.’

Charles Baudelaire, trans. William H. Crosby, ‘La Chambre Double’ (‘The Double Room’), Le Spleen de Paris (Paris Spleen)

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