"The Spirit (Demon, shall I not rather say?) of Hasheesh had entire possession of me. I was cast upon the flood of his illusions and drifted helplessly..." The complete manuscript of "The Visions of Hasheesh", published as chapter 10 in Bayard's travelogue, "The Lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain" (New York: G.P. Putnam & Co., 1855). In 1851, after the death of his wife, Taylor undertook a series of travels throughout the Middle East and Asia. The author had his first experience with hashish in Egypt and a second, more powerful one, in Damascus, which he describes in the manuscript at hand.
Although, at that time, poets were beginning to experiment with drugs as a creative tool, Bayard Taylor focuses here on the historical use of hashish and on his own physical experience of the drug: "The spirits of height, color, odor, sound, and motion were my slaves; and, having these, I was master of the universe (...) Though the whole vision was probably not more than five minutes long in passing through my mind, years seem to have elapsed (...) One set of nerves was thrilled with the bliss of the gods, while another was convulsed with unquenchable laughter at that very bliss."
Taylor ends the chapter with a word of caution to the reader: "[If I have] awakened that restless curiosity which I have endeavored to forestall, let me beg all who are thereby led to repeat the experiment upon themselves, that they be content to take the portion of hasheesh which is considered sufficient for one man, and not, like me, swallow enough for six". For many American readers, this account was their first introduction to the drug.