In Burns' 'Death and Hornbook' (let's call it the best narrative poem
in 'English'), Death complains that Hornbook is 'sae weel acquaint wi'
Buchan' that he, Death, can't do his deathing, with his limp
lolly. This is Buchan's Domestic Medicine (1769), the PDR
of its day, the key to Hornbook's astounding life-saving successes.
But Hornbook is also a murderer. By his 'skill' with 'drap an' pill.'
A poisonous driveller. And what about Willie Buchan?
I've found him out, and this I didn't remember. De Quincey tells us
in both of his Confessions that Buchan would kill a man with
opium. Buchan's advice is a maximum draft of 25 oz (which could kill
something like thirty De Quinceys) instead of 25 drops (1 grain). Then,
'most probably you must do what is particularly disagreeable to any
man of regular habits, viz. die.' Oh, slippery Buchan. Like Hornbook
who'd stuff you in the ground with 'his damn'd dirt!'
The 'dirt' that's 'harm' or 'poison.' The dirt that poppies grow so
well in, even when nothing else will.