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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Glasgow consumers of Laudanum in large dozes


THE following facts are recorded by Daniel Frazer, Esq., Buchanan Street, as incidents of the laudanum drinking capacity of two early customers of his firm.

"The earliest was that of a then well-known glazier in Glasgow, who had for some years been a purchaser of laudanum through my brother, when assistant in the Glasgow Apothecaries’ Hall. When I knew him (about 1831) he was in the habit of drinking, in our presence, a full wine glassful (equal to four table spoonfuls), quite undiluted. He also regularly purchased about two pints at a time, supplied to him in metal flasks. These he was in the habit of carrying with him when travelling about the country in connection with his extensive business.

"The origin of this habit of laudanum drinking was the taking of it under medical advice for severe rheumatism in the head. The dose had gradually been increased till a wine glassful was substituted for the twenty or thirty drops taken at first. Anxious, at times, to wean himself of taking this huge doze, this gentleman dropped a bit of putty into the bottom of the wine glass used for the laudanum. Succeeding with this, he gradually added more, till the top of the glass was nearly reached, endeavouring, by this method, to get rid of the habit altogether. But just as this hope had, on several occasions, dawned upon him, a return of rheumatism, or the recurrence of some domestic affliction, induced a renewal of the craving, the putty was removed, and the full dose resumed. He was quite a gash old fashioned Scotchman, and was in the habit of telling the number of puncheons (!) of laudanum that he had swallowed in his day.

"Another instance occurred a good many years later— probably about thirty years ago. In this case the quantity taken at once was from two to three table spoonfuls, and was also swallowed by the unfortunate victim without dilution. So far as I know, this was not a daily habit with the gentleman in question, although a very frequent one. I often asked this gentleman if he had ever tried to give up the habit, and he replied:

"‘Yes, very frequently, but could not overcome it. I often put off taking it,’ he used to say, ‘to the last, till the inward sinking and exhaustion that I felt made me fear that my brain would give way unless I had recourse to it.’

"Even the largest dose referred to had, he stated, no perceptible effect upon his system than that of arresting the feeling of inward sinking and exhaustion that called for its use."


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