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fever, or fit of the bile, to be melancholy, and even to do or feel inclined to do an extravagant thing, so it is as common for him to get well, and be quite cheerful again. Thus, it is among witless people that the true insanity will be found. It is the more intelligent that are subject to the other disorders; and a proper use of their intelligence will show them what the disorders are.

But weak treatment may frighten the intelligent. A kind person for instance, in a fit of melancholy, may confess that he feels an inclination to do some desperate or even cruel thing. This is often treated at once as insanity, instead of an excess of the kind just mentioned ; and the person, seeing he is thought mad, begins to think himself so, and at last acts as if he were. This is a lamentable evil ; but it does not stop here. The children or other relatives of the person may become victims to the mistake. They think there is madness, as the phrase is, “in the family ;” and so, whenever they feel ill, or meet with a misfortune, the thought will prey upon their minds, and this may lead to catastrophes with which they have really no more to do than any other sick or unfortunate people. How many persons have committed an extravagance in a brain-fever, or undergone hallucinations of mind in consequence of getting an ague, or taking opium, or fifty other causes! and yet the moment the least wandering of mind is observed in them, others become frightened ; their fright is manifested beyond all necessity; and the patients and their family must suffer for it. They seem to think that no disorder can properly be held a true Christian sickness, and fit for charitable interpretation, but where the patient has gone regularly to bed, and had curtains, and caudlecups, and nurses about him, like a well-behaved respectable sick gentleman. But this state of things implies muscular weakness, or weakness of that sort which renders the bodily action feeble. Now, in nervous disorders the muscular action may be as strong as ever ; and people may reasonably be allowed a world of illness, sitting in their chairs, or even walking or running.

These mistaken pronouncers upon disease ought to be told,

that when they are thus unwarrantably frightened, they are partaking of the very essence of what they misapprehend; for it is fear, in all its various degrees and modifications, which is at the bottom of nervousness and melancholy; not fear in it's ordinary sense, as opposed to cowardice (for a man who would shudder at a bat, or a vague idea, may be bold as a lion against an enemy), but imaginative fear ;-fear either of something known, or of the patient knows not what,--a vague sense of terror,--an impulse,-an apprehension of ill,-- dwelling upon some painful and worrying thought. Now, this suffering is inevitably connected with a weak state of the body in some respects, particularly of the stomach. Hundreds will be found to have felt it, if patients inquire ; but the mind is sometimes afraid of acknowledging its apprehensions even to itself; and thus fear broods over and hatches fear.

These disorders, generally speaking, are greater or less in their effects according to the exercise of reason. But do not let the word be misunderstood. We should rather say, according to the extent of the information. A very imaginative man will indeed be likely to suffer more than others; but if his knowledge is at all in proportion, he will also get through his evil better than an uninformed man suffering great terrors. And the reason is, that he knows how much bodily unhealthiness has to do with it. The very words that frighten the unknowing might teach them better, if understood. Thus, insanity itself properly means nothing but unhealthiness, or unsoundness. Derangement explains itself, and may surely mean very harmless things. Melancholy is compounded of two words, which signify dark bile. Hypochondria is the name of one of the regions of the stomach,-a very instructive etymology. And lunacy refers to effects, real or imaginary, of particular states of the moon, which, if anything after all, are nothing more than what every delicate constitution feels in its degree from particular states of the weather ; for weather, like the tides, is apt to be in such and such a condition when the moon presents such and such a face.

It has been said

“Great wits to madness nearly are allied.' It is curious that he who wrote the saying (Dryden) was a very sound wit to the end of his life ; while his wife, who was of a weak understanding, became insane. An excellent writer (Wordsworth) has written an idle couplet about the insanity of poets :

“We poets in our youth begin in gladness ;

But thereof come in the end despondency and madness." If he did not mean madness in the ordinary sense, he should not have written this line. If he did, he ought not to have fallen, in the teeth of his information, into so vulgar an error. There are very few instances of insane poets, or of insane great understandings of any sort. Bacon, Milton, Newton, Shakspeare, Cervantes, &c., were all of minds as sound as they were great. So it has been with the infinite majority of literary men of all countries. If Tasso and a few others were exceptions, they were but exceptions, and the derangement in these eminent men has very doubtful characters about it, and is sometimes made a question. It may be pretty safely affirmed, at least, upon an examination of it, that, had they not been the clever men they were, it would have been much worse and less cquivocal. Collins, whose case was, after all, one of inanition, rather than insanity, had been a free liver, and seems to have been hurt by having a fortune left him. Cowper was weak-bodied, and beset by Methodists. Swift's body was full of bad humours. He himself attributed his disordered system to the effects of a surfeit of fruit on his stomach, and in his last illness he used to break out in enormous biles and blisters. This was a violent effort of nature to help and purify the current of his blood,—the main object in all such cases. Dr Johnson, who was subject to mists of melancholy, used to fancy he should go mad; but he never did.

Exercise, conversation, cheerful society, amusements of all

sorts, or a kind, patient, and gradual helping of the bodily health, till the mind be capable of amusement (for it should never foolishly be told “not to think ” of melancholy things, without having something done for it to mend the bodily health) —these are the cures, the only cures, and, in our opinion, the almost infallible cures, of nervous disorders, however excessive. Above all, the patient should be told that there has often been an end to that torment of one haunting idea, which is, indeed, a great and venerable suffering. Many persons have got over it in a week, a few weeks, or a month, some in a few months, some not for years; but they have got over it at last. There is a remarkable instance of this in the life of our great King Alfred. He was seized, says his contemporary biographer, with such a strange illness while sitting at table in the twenty-fifth year (we think) of his age, that he shrieked aloud ; and for twenty years afterwards this illness so preyed upon him, that the relief of one hour was embittered by what he dreaded would come the next. His disorder is conjectured by some to have been an internal cancer; by others, with more probability, the black bile, or melancholy. The physicians of those times knew nothing about it; and the people showed at once their ignorance, and their admiration of the king, by saying that the devil had caused it out of jealousy. It was probably produced by anxiety for the state of his country; but the same thing which wounded him might have helped to keep him up, for he had plenty of business to attend to, and fought with his own hand in fifty-six pitched battles. Now, exactly twenty years after, in the forty-fifth year of his age (if our former recollection is right), this disorder totally left him, and his great heart was where it ought to be, in a heaven of health and calmness.

[NOTE.-In the “Autobiography” of Leigh Hunt will be found a curious account of a nervous disorder from which he himself suffered at various periods, and which probably suggested the foregoing essay. (See Chapters VIII. and XV., together with some references in other places).-E. O.]



'HE world never feels so cheerless as when it is undergoing

mists and fogs. As long as there are objects to look at,

it is hard if we cannot find something to entertain our thoughts ; but when the world itself is shut out from our observation,—when the same mists that shut it out come clinging round about us with cold, and when we think what the poor are likely to suffer from the approaching winter,—we seem to feel, not only that we are dreary, but that we ought to be so.

And so we ought, as far as our own dreariness will the more excite us to relieve that of others. Sympathy is our first duty, let it come either in the shape of pain or pleasure. But when we have done our duty to others ; when we have refused, as much as in us lies, to take our own pleasures till we have done what we can to share them with others, whether by a fortunate power to bestow, or by other personal helping, less fortunate, but sometimes more noble, or even by nothing but the dissemination of instructive and cheerful thoughts,-smiles which even a poverty-stricken hand may sometimes sow in the warm earth of humanity,—then we have the fullest right to gather enjoyment from all we can; and then also, because we have the fullest right, we have the greatest power.

And yet, at the same time, when we speak of right, we are struck with the inconclusiveness which is to be found in decisions apparently the kindest as well as most useful. Who shall say

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