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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 10 - Volume 12.djvu/591

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10 s. XIL DEC. is, 1909.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


THE OPIUM DEN, FACT AND FICTION. It is curious that, although the Chinese opium den has long been a familiar feature in London, Paris, New York, and other great cities, and figures in many popular works of fiction, yet not one of our novelists has succeeded in describing it correctly. Some of them, to judge by internal evidence, would appear never to have seen an opium den at all. Others perhaps owe their in- accuracies to hasty and more or less appre- hensive observation, leading inevitably to exaggeration and misrepresentation.

In the serial now running in The Daily Mail ('The Mystery of the Green Heart') Mr. Max Pemberton describes (chap, xxi.)

  • ' as strange and gaudy a cellar as the mind

of man has yet conceived." There are " strange lamps which exhale strange odours n (probably paraffin), and there are " cabalistic signs in mildewed gold.'* It is true that cabalistic signs " all plintee in Chinee, " as a Pidgin English poet puts it are a feature of all opium dens, but I fancy Mr. Pemberton is mistaken in his interpretation of them as " the fables of the Ming dynasty. n It is a pretty flight of fancy, but personally I have never come upon anything more esoteric than a Chinese almanac, a translation of the Aliens Act, or a request " not to spit when smoking."'

Mr. Pemberton notices " the boy attend- ants who carried the little pipes of opium." It is singular how enduring is the delusion that opium is smoked from a " little " pipe. In a back volume of The Strand Magazine I recently came upon a sketch depicting a Chinaman smoking opium, while sitting bolt upright (which is practically impossible), from a slender pipe of churchwarden shape. I once thought I was actually on the track of the " little " pipe. I discovered a curio dealer near Temple Bar who said he could sell me one. It turned out to be a Japanese tobacco pipe. The genuine opium pipe is of portentous size one of the largest pipes known a tremendous mouthful. Whence did Mr. Pemberton get his notion that the opium pipe is little ? I see that he makes his Orientals smoke opium and hashish under the same roof. Since hashish really is smoked from small mouthpieces on wooden stems, the author may possibly have con- iused the two drugs. JAS. PLATT, Jun.

" HOPPING JOHN." In George Cruik- shank's ' Three Courses and a Dessert,* p. 26 (2nd ed., 1830), this term is applied to half a gallon of cider, qualified by a pint of brandy and a dozen roasted apples, hissing

hot. The same odd phrase was applied, and perhaps still is, in the southern part of the United States, to a stew of bacon with peas or rice. My references are dated 1838 and 1856. These differing uses would seem to be independent of each other.

RICHARD H. THORNTON. 36, Upper Bedford Place, W.C.

ISAAC Vossius's LIBRARY. (See 10 S. ii. 361.) At the above reference will be found an account of how this famous private library left these shores, and it may consequently be of interest to note the record of the arrival of some of the books in this country fifteen years previously.

There is the following entry on p. 848 of the recently issued ' Calendar of Treasury Books, 1672-5 l :

" Nov. 20, 1675. [Warrant from Treasurer Danby to the Customs Commissioners] to deliver, customs free, several parcels of books as in a schedule [missing] which ' Dr. Isaac Vossius informs me that he has caused to be brought into the port of London from parts beyond the seas ' : the same being first opened and viewed by a scholar and one or more of the Company of Stationers appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbxiry and the Bishop of London, and the bringing in thereof licensed according to the Act in this case provided."


BENTLEY PRIORY, STANMORE. As this building is of great historic interest, deriving its name from a Priory of Austin Canons existing at Stanmore, Middlesex, as far back as 1243, the following cutting from The Daily Chronicle of 15 June last is, I think, worthy of a place in ' N. & Q.' :

"There was an important building estate sale at the Auction Mart, Tokenhouse Yard, yesterday, when Messrs. Hampton & Sons disposed in one lot of the Stanmore estates of the late Mr. Frederick Gordon, the founder of the Gordon Hotels, for 275,050*. The lands embrace the Bentley Priory, Stanmore Park, Manor House, and Woodland Estates at Stanmore, in Middlesex, having a total area of nearly 800 acres. The present income is 10,000*. a year from ground and other rents on pro- perties already erected. Offered as a whole, the property realized 50*. over the upset price of 275,000*.

"The late Mr. Frederick Gordon at one time lived at Bentley Priory. One of the monasteries suppressed at the time of the Reformation, the Priory became in 1543 the property of Henry VIII., who ultimately disposed of it. It was purchased in 1788 by the first Marquis of Abercorn, who made it the venue of many interesting gatherings. Amongst those who frequented the Priory during the marquis's possession of it were Sir William and Lady Hamilton, the Duke of Wellington, and Sir Walter Scott.

" Later it was the rendezvous of the King of Prussia, the Prince Regent, who was afterwards