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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/70

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64
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
V.

It may be seen from the two experiments which I have described in some fullness that, in general character, the physical and psychic manifestations of mescal somewhat recall those produced by haschisch, the most famous and typical of the 'artificial Paradises' which man has found for himself. No other drug, indeed, can be said to approach so nearly to haschisch in its effects. They are alike in the variability of their effects on different individuals and in the difficulty of obtaining a reliable preparation.[1] They both slow the heart, tending in some cases to produce intermittence, and both affect the respiration. They both produce muscular weakness and incoordination, exaggerate the knee-jerk and dilate the pupils. They both, moreover, possess the same vision-producing properties. I cannot speak from personal experience on this point, but one of my subjects, a poet who has paid much attention to the methods of generating visions, assures me that in his experience the virtues of the two drugs are about equal and that he has no preference for haschisch over mescal.

While there are thus marked and fundamental resemblances[2] between mescal and haschisch, there also appear to be numerous points of difference. On the whole it may be said that mescal has a more restricted, a less generalized action than haschisch. In some of the early accounts of haschisch, which may now almost be said to be classic, great stress was laid on its exuberant motor manifestations, the uncontrollable antics, and the loss of all sense of time. These manifestations are much less conspicuous, and often do not appear at all, in the later accounts of haschisch, so that they are evidently not essential.

Under mescal, so far as I have been able to observe, they seldom appear. Mescal may at one stage produce a sense of well-being, vigor and intellectual lucidity, but there is no actual motor exhilaration, or loss of self-control, usually no mental failure at any point, except that when the influence is strongest attention may be impaired, so that one realizes when under mescal how much attention is a matter of muscular coordination. The action of mescal on the motor system is to depress, so that there is a tendency to tremulousness of the muscles which feel weak, and it seems to the subject that he must exert more than usual care


  1. Haschisch is said to vary in accordance with season, as well as with the district in which the hemp is obtained. The Indians believe that mescal is only active at one season of the year. I found one supply that reached me to be almost or quite inert, and it is possible that it was gathered out of season.
  2. The resemblances between haschisch and mescal come out most clearly in the latest and most reliable investigations, see, e.g., W. E. Dixon, 'The Pharmacology of Cannabis Indica,' British Medical Journal, November 11, 1899, and E. B. Delabarre, 'Report on the Effects of Cannabis Indica,' Psychological Review, March, 1899. The latter is only a brief summary, but Professor Delabarre informs me that he hopes to publish a full account of his investigations.