Salina thought of a medicine recently discovered in the United States of America which could prevent suffering even during the most serious operations and produce serenity amid disaster. "Morphia" was the name given to this crude substitute for the stoicism of the ancients and for Christian fortitude.
This quotation is excerpted from a really lovely book recommended to me by my grandmother called The Leopard: A Novel by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa. The book--originally published in 1958 but with action spanning the mid to late 19th Century--is something of a extended, poetic meditation on death both symbolic and literal; highly recommended.
Image: Morphine, painted by Santiago Rusiñol in 1894. More on Rusiñol and his relationship to morphine here.