⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ George Crabbes Use Of Opium In Literature

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George Crabbes Use Of Opium In Literature

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Crabbe's shortcomings as a poet are evident. He regarded writing verse as a "task and labour", and produced a steady 30 lines a day. His lack of technical curiosity led the subtle metrist Tennyson to complain of Crabbe's "tramp, tramp, tramp, a merciless sledge-hammer thud". The three volumes of "Tales" he produced in later life reward the patient reader with unpredictable moments of beauty, wit, insight and sometimes clownish humour, but they are generally low-wattage, lacking the old anger and momentum. Crabbe rarely achieved the urgency with which Pope could animate long passages of heroic couplets. Nor could he convincingly unify larger structures.

For all his steadiness of manner, he shows the opium-addict's mixture of formal ambition and shortness of reach. Powell is too severe a critic to forgive these lapses or to attempt to recapture the long-evaporated taste for them. His biography has no illustrations, no maps, and one of those unbearable indexes which says, for instance, "Burke, Edmund" followed by a list of 32 page numbers. It's perhaps apt that it's a rather stodgy book, but a shame that it shouldn't be fired by a keener affection for the poet or his work.

Powell is the first to tell one what's wrong with the poems, and consistently reads Crabbe's behaviour in a strangely unfriendly light - for instance, as coy, smug, sly, cunning, disingenuous perhaps 10 times , "ignorant and prejudiced" twice within seven pages. Crabbe needs, if not indulgence, then a bit more sympathy than this. The context is often thin, too, so that, for instance, the fascinating weeks Crabbe spent as a widower in the literary high society of London which might almost make for a whole book by a writer such as Alethea Hayter rush past without a word to explain who Thomas Campbell and Ugo Foscolo were, or who wrote Glenarvon and why Crabbe should have disapproved of it.

There are dozens of places where a critical biography might have sharpened our sense of Crabbe's bearings in the literature of his two centuries. It feels as if Powell has got the subject up, rather than having it in his blood. Education Schools Teachers Universities Students. Claws out for Crabbe. Alan Hollinghurst. In his first major poem, The Village , he gave an unsparing picture of just such a place, of the "wild amphibious race" who led their joyless lives there, and the heartless professions that pretended to minister to them: "A potent quack, long versed in human ills, Who first insults the victim whom he kills; Whose murd'rous hand a drowsy Bench protect, And whose most tender mercy is neglect.

One section of his paper describes how opium was believed to treat pain, cause sleep, increase perspiration, raise the spirits, and relax the muscles. With these things in mind, it was recommended for pain and any sort of irritation to the nerves or motions of spirits. George Crabbe was prescribed opium in to relieve pain, and he continued to use it for the rest of his life. At the time of George Crabbe's first prescription, the East India Company began hiring Indian Villages to cultivate large quantities of opium. Some wrote into newspapers, such as The Times , and emphasized the dangers of giving a child medication such as the "Syrup of Poppies" or other potent medications, which contained an unspecified amount of opium known to be dangerous to give to infants.

Following a larger dose, "all these symptoms continue to increase; and tremors, convulsions, vertigo, stupor, insensibility, and deprivation of muscular action appear". Abrams argued that opium users during the Romantic era became "inspired to ecstasies" [19] when experiencing opium's effects. It was not assumed that poetry was created during the opium-induced stupor, but that the images that were experienced provided the raw material of the poem, and the poet had to create a surrounding framework to support it.

Abrams writes how opium-using poets, "utilized the imagery from these dreams in his literary creations, and sometimes, under the direct inspiration of opium, achieved his best writing. A poet who did not use opium could not gain access to the planet opened solely by the symptoms of using. This unfamiliar realm, known only to users, according to M. Abrams, supplied the material for some of the Romantic poet's best and most influential writing.

Another direction, more recently postulated by Elisabeth Schneider and in opposition to Abrams, utilizes evidence based on medical and textual evidence. While earlier views embodied the idea that opium-induced dreams inspired the production of poetry that was otherwise inaccessible, Schneider's view suggests that literary critics and some physicians who have not specifically studied opiates have an inadequate account of the effects of opium. This occurs partly from a lag in time, but also because of the fallibility of early medical writing on opium. Most of the medical writing on opium, up until the s, was based upon accounts from De Quincey in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater , Coleridge, or from other users.

Schneider writes "The relaxation of tension and conflict, accompanied by a sense of pleasant ease, occasionally helps to release for a time the neurotic person's natural powers of though or imagination or rarely of action, though it does not give him powers that he did not have or change the character of his normal powers. A recent argument put forward by Alethea Hayter suggests that opium opens up the individual's mind toward recollecting the raw materials found within one's own life and the dreams, reveries, or hypnagogic visions, and the results are then translated into art.

In essence, she states, "the action of opium may reveal some of the semi-conscious processes by which literature begins to be written" [24] —i. Everyone is exposed to these everyday images, but opium adds a further dimension to those images. Hayter specifies that while opium may enhance these images into a creative piece of text, ironically it also robs the individual of the power to make use of them, because the images are not easily recalled and recorded when sober. The necessary tools to create work like that of the opium-fuelled Romantic poets therefore must include not only the ability to daydream under the influence of the drug, but also the necessity of being able to communicate those visions on paper later.

Typical use and dependence within the middle-class were not confined to the literary circle, although the records of famous users are more readily available. In fact, all of the Romantic poets, with the exception of William Wordsworth, appear to have used it at some point. Opium preparations were sold freely in towns and country markets, indeed the consumption of opium was just as popular in the country as it was in urban areas. And as twenty or twenty-five drops of laudanum could be bought for just a penny, it was also affordable. Two tablespoonfuls of vinegar, Two tablespoonfuls of treacle 60 drops of laudanum. One teaspoonful to be taken night and morning. Laudanum addicts would enjoy highs of euphoria followed by deep lows of depression, along with slurred speech and restlessness.

Withdrawal symptoms included aches and cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea but even so, it was not until the early 20th century that it was recognised as addictive. Many notable Victorians are known to have used laudanum as a painkiller. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley suffered terrible laudanum-induced hallucinations. Many of the opium-based preparations were targeted at women. Children were also given opiates. Overuse of this dangerous concoction is known to have resulted in the severe illness or death of many infants and children.

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