The Writings of Revilo P Oliver 1908-1994


by Dr. Revilo P. Oliver

(Liberty Bell, January 1992)

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Antique Advertisement: Cocaine Toothdrops

The picture above is reproduced from the cover of Science News, 7 September 1991, where it appears without identification or explanation to call attention to an article about the effect of excessive use of cocaine on the foetus of pregnant women. It is obviously an advertisement that appeared in many newspapers in the 1890s or early 1900s and was also issued as a handbill printed in colors.

The advertisement comes from a time when cocaine 1, a tincture prepared from the leaves of the coca plant, was carried in stock by all pharmacies and available to any purchaser. It was generally used as an analgesic and local anaesthetic in ophthalmology and dentistry, where compounds of it are still employed. The cocaine drops here advertised were undoubtedly effective and infallibly relieved toothache; a small vial of them was certainly worth the cost, fifteen cents (real money, not the intrinsically worthless trading stamps printed by the fraud called the Federal Reserve). If the drops were now available, I would suggest that you keep some on hand.

As everyone knows, a seven-percent solution of cocaine was taken intravenously by Sherlock Holmes when he had no absorbing problem to occupy his mind; in two or three of the stories Dr. Watson mildly remarks that habitual reliance on cocaine may be deleterious to health. Cocaine is also a stimulant, like chocolate, that provides energy and temporarily replaces food; the leaves of the coca 2 plant are chewed (with a little powdered lime) by the natives in Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, giving them remarkable powers of endurance, and the leaves are probably necessary for hard labor at high altitudes in the Andes. Cocaine was used as a mild stimulant in the Edwardian Age.

As he remarks in his memoirs, Harry Elmer Barnes, when he worked as a clerk in a drug store to earn money for college, commonly sold cocaine to customers. So did countless other men employed in pharmacies. It was recommended by many physicians 3, who naturally did not write prescriptions for a medicine available over the counter in every pharmacy and in many general stores. Proprietary tonics containing cocaine as the active ingredient were on sale everywhere and obtainable from Sears, Roebuck & Co. and other mail-order houses. Cocaine was also the active ingredient of a patented beverage, frankly called "Coca-cola," that was then coming into general use and was especially commended and promoted by "temperance workers" as a pleasant and wholesome substitute for beer, wine, and whisky, which contained the diabolical and soul-destroying drug called alcohol.

Holy men were probably yapping about cocaine. They are always yapping about something in a disgruntled effort to regain the power and pleasure they had in the Great Age of Protestantism, when they could imprison sinners who danced, engaged in mummery, witnessed theatrical performances, celebrated Christmas 4, or otherwise offended their strange God; when they could punish persons who laughed on Sunday by putting them in the stocks and exposing them to rotten tomatoes and similar missiles thrown in their faces by the jeering rabble, while God's men chortled with satisfied righteousness.

As I vaguely recall -- the point is not worth the effort of looking it up -- in Massachusetts and Illinois the social reformers did procure legislation intended to make cocaine and similar drugs available only on prescription, to the profit of the medical profession (in those far-off days it was a profession, not a business). But in the years around 1900 the holy men and their sedulous apes, "do-gooders," chiefly fat-headed women, were concentrating their efforts on routing Satan's chief lieutenant, the Demon Rum, and on prohibiting use of the devil's weed in the wicked form of cigarettes 5. They did succeed in inducing prohibition of alcoholic beverages in five or six of the more rustic states 6 and in quite a few backward towns or similar localities, and in prohibiting cigarettes in Wisconsin, Kansas, and perhaps some other states in which Bible-banging was endemic.

As I have frequently pointed out before 7, in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries opium was also on sale in all pharmacies, especially in the form of its tincture, laudanum, and kept on hand in many households, as is aspirin today, for the relief of insomnia, headaches, and arthritic or rheumatic pain. The most common derivative of opium, morphine, for injection by hypodermic syringe, was also freely available, recommended by many physicians as a sedative and anodyne, and was warmly commended by some reformers as a means of ending dependence on nasty alcohol. Chemists produced, by fairly intricate processes, other derivatives of morphine, which had a limited use 8.

When cocaine, laudanum, and similar narcotics were comparatively inexpensive and available to everyone, there was no problem of 'drug addiction.' That is a highly significant fact and worthy of your best attention.

There was no problem (except in the clamor of the "unco' guid") because our racial ethos had not yet been nullified by our enemies and fools, and we skill retained, on the whole, the sanity of common sense.

It was known, of course, that the drugs in question could become addictive through excessive or continual use of them, but most things are addictive. Aspirin and all somniferent and 'tranquilizing' medicines are notoriously addictive. Coffee, tobacco, and sweetmeats undoubtedly are, and sugar can produce a compulsive addiction 9. Old men, who can remember a time when college athletics were an activity of actual undergraduates, instead of a business with ignorant but highly paid performers 10, may have known young graduates who had become so addicted to daily exercise that they found it difficult and painful to adjust to sedentary employment.

All forms of addiction are psychic as well as physical, and craving for the sensations produced by the drug is probably more potent than the strictly physiological reaction of a body accustomed to it. Some of the most baneful addictions, indeed, produce no physical symptoms. A recent "survey" reports that Americans (including children) spend an average of seven hours a day staring at their boob-tubes, usually in a state of hypnotic trance, the consciousness receiving impressions without the intervention of thought. In its effect on our people, that form of addiction is far more baneful than the total of addiction to cocaine, heroin, marijuana, 'crack,' and similar drugs.

In the era before there was a "drug problem," it was known, of course, that some men and even women became ruinously addicted to cocaine and opium, just as a great many became hopelessly addicted to whisky or gin or even beer, but it was rationally assumed that, with a very few possible exceptions in extraordinary circumstances, the addicts were, in the words of the eminent British pharmacologist, Edward Morell Holmes, weak-willed "moral imbeciles" who were commonly also "addicted to other forms of depravity." It was also rationally taken for granted that the sooner such individuals rid society of themselves, the better. Although sentimental women may squawk, that is simply true -- a necessary truth enforced by biological processes and ignored only by nations that are themselves not fit to survive in the harsh reality of the natural world. That may seem cruel to persons addicted to lying to themselves about the real world, but it is the common sense that is apparent to everyone not hopelessly addicted to hallucinatory drugs or superstitions.

For example, in Trollope's Doctor Thorne, perhaps the best volume in the Barchester series, Sir Louis, the son of the nouveau riche engineer, Scatchard, destroys himself with brandy -- and a very good thing it is too, for everyone concerned 11. A friend kindly sent me a whole sheaf of cuttings from newspapers in San Francisco and Sacramento that describe the prevalent and almost epidemic addiction to "crack" (synthesized amphetamines) and "ice" (crystallized methamphetamine), relatively cheap substitutes for cocaine and heroin. Assuming that the addicts interviewed or seen by the journalists were accurately described, it is sheer madness for a society to waste money in efforts to save such creatures from themselves. Despite the journalists' obligatory efforts to conceal the facts of race, it was obvious that most of the addicts were animated garbage that should never have been admitted to, or subsidized in, this country, while a comparatively few were degenerates of our race.

A sane society, instead of wasting its resources on efforts to salvage such worthless wreckage, would tacitly encourage all such addicts to eliminate themselves as soon as possible, thus mitigating the most noxious and dangerous form of environmental pollution.

The nature of what is called 'addiction' is generally misunderstood. The effects are largely determined by heredity, i.e., both by intellectual capacity, which is entirely genetic and only elicited or blighted by education, and by a genetically determined propensity to addiction.

De Quincy was brilliant, even as a boy; he became addicted to opium to relieve neuralgia when he was nineteen or twenty, but that did not prevent him from becoming one of the great and universally acknowledged masters of English literature. He was the master of his addiction, not enslaved by it. When it became harmful, he was able to discontinue the use of opium, to resume it later when he needed an anodyne to sorrow, and again to discontinue use of the pleasurable narcotic. There is no evidence that he sustained any demonstrable physical or mental injury from his use of opium.

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1.. Cocaine (C17H21NO4.) is sometimes called benzoylmethyl ecgonine by persons who, for some reason, wish to avoid the common term.

2. Coca (Erythroxylon coca), the source of cocaine, must not be confused with another South American plant, cacao (Theobroma cacao), the source of chocolate, a drug which produces similar but much milder effects.

3. It was also enthusiastically recommended by the Kike who did so much to convince the world that the Jews' sexual obsessions were a function of human nature. Freud was himself an addict of the drug he recommended; see his Cocaine Papers, which are available in a good English translation that I cannot locate on my shelves at this moment. Carl Jung was, I believe, the first to denounce the inherent fallacy of the Freudian hoax: "It is an unpardonable mistake to accept the conclusions of a Jewish psychology as generally valid." (Two Essays on Analytical Psychology = Collected Works, Vol. VII [= Bollingen Series, Vol. XX] (2d ed., New York, Pantheon Books, 1966), p.152.

4. You will recall that John Evelyn in his diary describes the incident in which he and some close friends, who had foregathered to celebrate secretly the traditional rites of Christmas, were denounced by some spy or informer, and were surprised and caught, flagrante delicto, by a file of soldiers who arrested them for criminal merriment.

5. It should be noted that tobacco was evil when used in cigarettes, but not when used in cigars, which were smoked by politicians who would not have tolerated curtailment of their own favorite means of relaxation, and not when smoked in pipes or used as snuff, for there was a limit to the meddling that farmers and the like would endure from dervishes. Cigarettes were comparatively expensive and chiefly smoked by college students and other fashionable young men, although they were also used in private by some women who were so immoral they put powder on their shameless faces.

6. Maine, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and perhaps others. In some states the prohibition was frankly intended only to keep liquor out of the hands of niggers and Indians and often of the White proletariat also. The Puritans of New England had such fits of do-gooding in the early part of the century, but promptly repented, and around the 1880s some states, including Illinois, temporarily lapsed into such legislative foolishness, but soon came to their senses. Everyone remembers the insanity of national Prohibition, enacted by holy men and do-gooders, who, as often happens, were in alliance with ambitious criminal syndicates and the Communists, eager to establish a precedent for subversion of the nation and the enslavement of free men. Oklahoma, even after 1933, tried to exclude spirituous liquors from the state, and I can remember having entered the state in an automobile of which the trunk was weighted down with cases of bottled cheer for an acquaintance who lived in that desert. That is an adequate commentary on the whole folly of legislated uplift.

7. Especially in Liberty Bell, July 1987, pp. 9-11; February 1990, pp. 11-14.

8. What is now the best known and most widely used derivative, diacetylmorphine, was developed by the Bayer Corporation, which became the foremost producer of drugs to alleviate pain and comparable distress. The corporation marketed with great success both acetylsalicylic acid, for which it devised the trade name 'aspirin,' and diacetylmorphine, to which it gave a name with commendatory connotation, 'heroin.' The latter was specifically approved and recommended by the American Medical Association as an alternative to morphine, especially when hypodermic injection was to be avoided. See David F. Musto, The American Disease: the Origins of Narcotics Control (New Haven, Connecticut; Yale University Press, 1973).

9. I was once acquainted with a young Englishwoman from a good county family, an undergraduate in one of the Oxford women's colleges, who could make a two-pound box of chocolate creams evaporate faster than a drop of ether. She could have been a pretty blonde, but at seventeen or eighteen she was already uncomely and unpleasingly pudgy, having sacrificed face and figure to her bulimia. She was said to be doing passable work in her college, but her mentality, possibly affected by her vice, was apparent in her denigration of her family's social position and her poise as an "intellectual" who (c. 1930) told everyone, "I'm awffy keen about Laybah; ahen't you?"

10. Not long ago a nigger coach in a large university was accustomed to offer $80,000, a sports-model automobile, and, by implication, a copious supply of White whores to long-legged and long-armed niggers whom he wanted to hire to play basketball for his institution. Some of his prospects were so stupid that they boasted of the offer to everyone they knew and tried to use it to obtain more largesse from other "educational" institutions, so there was a minor scandal that took a little while to hush up, but I am told that the practice in now virtually universal.

11. The novel is realistic (except for the probability that Sir Louis also had vices of which Victorian readers were determined to remain ignorant), and you need only consider how doleful would have been the catastrophe, had not Sir Louis removed himself from a world that he encumbered. You may take this as an instance of what happened many times in Victorian society, almost always with benefit to innocent and decent persons, though sometimes with regrettable hardship or sorrow to others.

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This article originally appeared in Liberty Bell magazine, published monthly by George P. Dietz from September 1973 to February 1999. For reprint information please write to Liberty Bell Publications, Post Office Box 21, Reedy WV 25270 USA.

Copyright ©1999 Kevin Alfred Strom.  Back to Revilo P. Oliver Index