From 'London Magazine', September 1821.
were known to me, directly or indirectly, as opium-eaters; such, for instance, as the eloquent and benevolent -, the late Dean of -, Lord -, Mr.--the philosopher, a late Under- Secretary of State (who described to me the sensation which first drove him to the use of opium in the very same words as the Dean of -, viz., "that he felt as though rats were gnawing and abrading the coats of his stomach"), Mr. -, and many others hardly less known, whom it would be tedious to mention. Now, if one class, comparatively so limited, could furnish so many scores of cases (and THAT within the knowledge of one single inquirer), it was a natural inference that the entire population of England would furnish a proportionable number. The soundness of this inference, however, I doubted, until some facts became known to me which satisfied me that it was not incorrect. I will mention two. (1) Three respectable London druggists, in widely remote quarters of London, from whom I happened lately to be purchasing small quantities
The great-great-granddaddy of every whiney, self-pitying addiction book written in the Western world. True to form, the first half of the book is the story of his childhood and youth, which makes him the victim. The next section is the joys of occasional, recreational opium. The last section is the story of his descent into daily addiction.
De Quincy is highly educated, and educating a fool is like adding a handful of prunes to a diet of beans--a lot of noxious activity. The writing uses elevated diction, triple the number of needed adjectives, Latin, Greek, unattributed quotes, and meanders around each topic a couple of times before addressing it.
It's a classic.