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is a ludicrous “Character of Holland,” which might be pro-
“Holland, that scarce deserves the name of land,
Glad then, as miners who have found the ore,
Transfusing into them their dunghill soul."
“How did they rivet with gigantic piles
* Dryden afterwards, of fighting for gain, in his song of “Come, if you dare”:-.
“The Gods from above the mad labour behold." | A Free Ocean.
A daily deluge over them does boil ;
We can never read these or some other ludicrous verses of Marvell, even when by ourselves, without laughter; but we must curtail our self-indulgence for the present.
FATAL MISTAKE OF NERVOUS DISORDERS
OME affecting catastrophes in the public papers induce us
to say a few words on the mistaken notions which are so
often, in our opinion, the cause of their appearance. It is much to be wished that some physician, truly so called, and philosophically competent to the task, would write a work on this subject. We have plenty of books on symptoms and other alarming matters, very useful for increasing the harm already existing. We believe, also, there are some works of a different kind, if not written in direct counteraction ; but the learned authors are apt to be so prodigiously grand and etymological in their title-pages, that they must frighten the general understanding with their very advertisements.
There is this great difference between what is generally understood by the word insanity, and the nervous or melancholy disorders, the excess of which is so often confounded with it. Insanity is a consequence of malformation of the brain, and is by no means of necessity attended with melancholy, or even illhealth. The patient, in the very midst of it, is often strong, healthy, and even cheerful. On the other hand, nervous disorders, or even melancholy in its most aggravated state, is nothing but the excess of a state of stomach and blood, extremely common. The mind, no doubt, will act upon that state and exasperate it ; but there is great reaction between mind and body; and as it is a common thing for a man in an ordinary 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 its 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.