MR. FITZ HUGH LUDLOW, well known to the readers of this Magazine, in which many of his most brilliant papers have appeared, sends to the Easy Chair the following letter:
New York, June 18, 1870
DEAR EASY CHAIR - Today sailing for Europe, an invalid, with all the uncertainties of return which attend such a one, may I ask to say through you a word or two, in parting, to the class of our suffering fellow men and women for whom, as you know, I have spent a large part of my life - all that part, indeed, which is usually the leisure of a laborious profession?
In the book published two years since by the Messers. Harper, under title of "The Opium Habit," whose earlier chapters were edited by, and the two closing ones original with me, I gave to the public as condensed a statement as my limits made imperative of the course of treatment which many years' medical and scientific study, together with an experience among opium-eaters scarcely to be surpassed in extent, had taught me was the safest, quickest, least painful, exit from a hell over whose interior penetralia at least Humanity had for years concurred to write, with a sigh, "Lasciate ogni speranza." There I showed the possibility of a release, and, so far as could be done in such broad touches, sketched the means. There I promised a salvation I had repeatedly seen effected, and accumulated all the incentives and encouragements to seek it which I knew; but with these I was obliged to preach a Spartan - say rather a Christian - courage such as few women and fewer men can summon to their aid in the protracted agonies of the contest by which the opium-eater must win his freedom, even under the many palliating and relieving circumstances which I there revealed. I had not then found what I confess has been one of my life's ruling passions - a very agony of seeking to find - any means of bringing the habituated opium-eater out of his horrible bondage, without, or comparatively without, pain. Thus far I had failed in my wrestling interrogations of Nature for the antidote, the substitute, the agent, whatever it might be, by which opium might be so gradually replaced and eradicated as to present the slave, some bright celestial morning, with his manumission, before he could feel the blows which struck the shackles from his feet.
I ask you, dear Easy Chair, to rejoice with me that, in all probability, that wonderful discovery has now been made; that henceforth the salvation of the opium-eater, like that from any other chronic disease, may be accomplished in such a way that the cure brings not an increase but a relief of the original suffering; that the process of giving to him his new self may now be not a terrible volcanic throe that tears soul and body to pieces, but a gentle, painless change, like those milder forces of nature shown in the progress of the seasons, the unbinding of the frost, the return of the sun and gentle rains. A year ago I was almost in despair of such a blessing; but I must believe - must declare - what my eyes have looked upon.
I have had under my care a patient who had been an habitual user of opium for years - whose daily rations of morphia had now reached the terrible amount of thirty grains (a case quite astounding to minds not experienced among opium-eaters, but having numerous parallels in my acquaintance) - who abandoned the drug at once in its every form, and never touched it again from that moment (four months ago) to the present time. I have seen him going on with his daily avocations, suffering no pain which required him to lie down for a single day, feeling no temptation to seek opiates, although he constantly carried about his old morphia powders on his person, and had made the un-Spartan resolve to resume his relief if the new experiment for a moment failed. He was expecting anguish all the time for his first month of trial; but it never came, has not come, and is most unlikely to come now that, after all these months, his digestion has regained its vigor, his step its elasticity, his eyes and cheeks the freshness of health. Besides this case I have seen numerous others, when their various complications are considered, no less remarkable, and from many more have had letters, all joyfully unanimous in the testimony that their exit was painlessly accomplished, and that the opium-craving was not only appeased, but quite eradicated, by the process of cure. I have been compelled to confess that the life-long object of my search seemed most marvelously accomplished.
Were I staying in this country, instead of going abroad as my last chance for life and health, I would joyfully continue to answer the correspondence which floods me on this subject from all parts of the Union, and, at any expense to myself, make known this salvation to the most sorrowful sufferers of this world. Were this an article, instead of a communication receiving your hospitality, dear Easy Chair, and were Harper's a technical magazine, in which I could develop the process of substitution and elimination by which this marvelous blessing is accomplished, I would now speak more at length. It is now sufficient to say that the discovery is one which ranks in importance to human weal and woe with vaccination, chloroform, or any grandest achievement of beneficent science which marks an age. The many who can hear me witness how willingly I have responded to all inquiries for help to the opium-eater, by visit or letter, will be glad to know that during my absence such inquirers may apply to my noble-hearted and philanthropic friend, Mr. Henry Read, of Lowell, Massachusetts, who possesses all my information on the subject, and has kindly consented to let me roll off upon his shoulders the loving but heavy burden of answering such questions as might, if I staid here, be addressed to me.
By letting me say these parting words from your kindly elevation, my dear Easy Chair, you will bless thousands of sorrowful souls, and send one away to Europe far less sorrowful, because most hopeful, for them.
FITZ HUGH LUDLOW.
In the August Number of this Magazine a letter was published from Mr. Fitzhugh Ludlow to the Easy Chair, stating that a remedy had been discovered, which seemed to him almost infallible, for the relief of opium-eaters, a subject in which Mr. Ludlow has been, as is well known, long interested. Mr. Ludlow was just sailing for Europe, and referred inquirers to Mr. Henry Read, of Lowell, Massachusetts. Letters which the Easy Chair presently received, from persons evidently painfully anxious upon the subject, stated that a large sum was required to be paid in advance, and that the whole business had a mysterious and suspicious aspect. The Easy Chair, which had printed the letter of Mr. Ludlow as that of an old correspondent of the Magazine, and an authority upon the subject, wrote to Mr. Read, and received from him a long and detailed account of the facts. Mr. Read confirms the statement of our correspondents, that an enormous price is demanded for the antidote; but he claims that he is not responsible, being an agent only, and that neither he nor Mr. Ludlow, who both attest the efficacy of the remedy, has any control of the price.
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