Letter: Appreciation of pot

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article regarding the possible decriminalisation of cannabis (22 July) reminded me of a few verses from a rare edition (1785) of Dr Erasmus Darwin of Lichfield's prescient The Botanic Garden, written to instil a love for natural science into an ignorant public:

Slow treads fair cannabis the breezy strand,

The distaff streams dishevell'd in her hand;

Now to the left her ivory neck inclines,

And leads in Pophian curves its azure lines . . .

While the verses are perhaps obscure to modern readers, the footnote is plain enough. Darwin wrote how 'Chinese hemp is superior to the hemp of other countries' and that a letter from the celebrated botanist, Joseph Banks, assured him that it had been sown in England on 4 June.

A brighter and braver England relished the thrill of discovery. But then, there were brighter and braver Englishmen.

Yours expectantly,


Lichfield, Staffordshire