Intoxication of one kind or another

Dalrymple notes Kipling’s youthful opium use in a discussion of his first published work (BMJ subscription required):
It is not surprising, then, that opium dreams, and illusions and hallucinations, are important in his first works of fiction—for example in The Phantom Rickshaw. The very first of his fictional works, written and published when he was only 19, is “The Gate of a Hundred Sorrows,” an account of an opium den in Lahore narrated by a Eurasian habitué of it. Very brief, it is an astonishingly assured piece of work.
The narrator, Gabral Misquitta, is in receipt of a legacy that yields sixty rupees a month, which he entrusts to the owner of the opium den known as the Gate of a Hundred Sorrows, an old Chinaman called Fung-Tching. In return Misquitta has unlimited access to opium, which he calls the Black Smoke. Under the influence of the drug, the black and red dragons “and things” that adorned the pillows “used to move about and fight.”
Misquitta’s notion of happiness is that of many people today, and perhaps explains why they go in for intoxication of one kind or another:
Sometimes when I first came to the Gate, I used to feel sorry for it; but that’s all over and done with a long time ago, and I draw my sixty rupees fresh and fresh every month, and am quite happy. Not DRUNK happy, you know, but always quiet and soothed and contented.

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