Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

1

great an oppression of the thoughts, and thus interrupted their ordinary operations. Although insanity is not confined to persons in any rank of intellect, it will be found that those are chiefly exposed to it, whose sensibility is most acute, and whose feelings are most susceptible of impression. It would therefore appear that this afflicting malady is to be assigned rather to moral than physical causes; and that its alleviation or removal is most to be expected from the influence which may be obtained over the mental faculties. Viewing the subject in this light, it is of great importance to observe what objects and what train of thought are most apt to excite the paroxysms of the disorder, since it may thus become possible to lead the patient to such as are likely to soothe, and divert him from what has had a destructive effect upon his mind.

Among the improvements in the treatment of insane persons which bave been introduced, the most important is the relinquishment of terror and coercion, which it has been clearly proved had no small tendency to irritate the disease. It is by no means improbable that farther observation may discover means to alleviate its violence, and sometimes to prevent its parosysms.

In the narratives of the work before us we find a confirma. tion of the fact that insanity, in almost every instance, has the effect of developing the master passion, and rousing to violence the feeling which had been concealed or checked by

A striking case is given of the fatal consequence of sudden terror.

“ Thomas Dowle, aged twenty-eight, admitted 28th October, 1822. This unfortunate young man is the son of a farmer near Chepstow, in Monmouthshire. No taint of insanity ever before appeared in any of his family. Sudden fright was the immediate cause of his derangement, and he now presents a deplorable example of the mischievous consequences of those practical jokes, so frequently played off for the momentáry diversion of inconsiderate young people, upon their unsuspecting companions, and but too often productive of lamentable, and even fatal, consequences. Numerous are the instances wherein dementation, and even death, have followed the too sudden excitement of the stronger passions. The momentary impulse of excessive fear, grief, and even of joy, bave produced those effects. The superstitious tales of ghosts and goblins, so frequently impressed on infant minds, have often proved indelible through life, in spite of education, philosophy, and all the powers of reason; and we have heard numerous instances of brave men, who have intrepidly mounted a breach, or stormed a battery pregnant with death, who yet could hardly summon firme ness enough to go alone in the dark, or cross a church-yard after

reason.

4

[ocr errors]

nightfal, merely from the early impressions of nursery-tales told them in their childhood. A frightful mask, a strange noise, a pretended ghost, or even the sudden bouncing on a person, wholly unaware of the trick, have often caused the most deplorable consequences, not only in children but in adults, to the loss of reason, and even of life.

“ Poor Dowle, the unhappy subject of this article, was a simple peasant; and as he was one inorning crossing his father's fields, on his way to his usual labours, cheerful, guardless, and, like another Cymon,

• Whistling as he went, for want of thought,' an intimate rustic acquaintance saw him coming, knew his simplicity, and in mere frolic, stepped aside, and concealed himself behind a bush until Dowle came up, when he suddenly rushed out upon him with a' loud shout. He was so astounded by the shock that he was struck almost senseless: he staggered, fell, and fainted away. The current of his blood seemed for some time arrested, and his pulsation ceased. He was taken up and conveyed home; delirium ensued; and confirmed madness followed, which has ever since continued without abatement, to a degree not only pitiable, but dangerous to all who approach him. His propensities are fierce and vicious; he tries to kick at all who come near him, and even to bite at them, with all the rabid fury of an eoraged dog. In this manner he continually snaps at all who pass him. He seizes and tears rugs, blankets, his own clothes, and any thing within his reach. In this state of course, he is not suffered to have intercourse amongst the other patients, but is fastened to the coal-chest in the basement' gallery. His malady has shewn no signs of abatement since he came in, and probably he may never recover his reason. He appears quite unconscious of his situation, or of the place where he is, nor does he seem to feel his confinement irksome; his only object seems to be, watching for the approach of any one whom he may attack.

“ Such, in his case, are the miserable effects of a practical joke, which cannot fail to embitter for life the feelings of the unthinking author, as well as those of the unfortunate young man's family. P. 182.

The following account is given of the maniac who became so notorious from her attempt to assassinate the late King:

“ Margaret herself, when much more communicative than of recent years, has given a very different account of the transaction which led to her confinement, from that which appeared in the public prints of the time. She has declared, that she had not the remotest intention to injure his Majesty ; on the contrary, that she had a great notion of him.' She had lived with a great family where his Majesty used to visit occasionally, and the King frequently looked at her in a manner which she thought bespoke

kindness and regard. That being afterwards out of situation for some time, she imagined the King a likely person to recommend her to a good one, and considering that he had always regarded her with a look of more than common attention, she had, therefore, determined to petition his Majesty as her last resource. She inquired, and learned the time and place most likely to meet with his Majesty, and that he would be at St. James's on a particular day; she attended with her petition, and took her post at the garden gate leading to the palace. That, unfortunately, having a knife in her pocket along with the petition, and being rather anxious and confused, and afraid of missing her presentation, as the King passed from his carriage, in the hurry of the moment she drew out the knife instead of the paper, and rushed forward to deliver it into his royal hand; when she was instantly seized, and accused of attempting to stab his Majesty, than which nothing could be farther from her intention.

“ But it appears that her story, if she told it at the time, was not believed ; and she has now been a sojourner in confinement above thirty-six years, and has never evinced any proininent symptoms of insanity beyond the occasional irritation, perhaps naturally enough resulting from her situation. She was transferred from Old Bethlem hither when this building was finished; has long since made up her mind to her confinement, and appears perfectly tranquil and contented ; she very seldom speaks, has totally lost her sense of hearing, nor would the discharge of a cannon at her ear in the least disturb her. Snuff seems to be her favourite luxury, of which she takes a great quantity, and seems to enjoy it with peculiar satisfaction. She has contracted a singular' aversion to bread, and never can be induced to eat any. The cause of this antipathy is unknown, but she is allowed gingerbread and biscuits, which she eats with good appetite, in moderate quantities. Tea is also allowed her, and she has, besides, the exclusive privilege of living apart from all the other criminal patients, in a ward appropriated as a nursery for the aged and infirm, and such as are quiet and harmless. She enjoys a good state of health, is regular, cleanly, and attentive to her little concerns, and is. desirous to render herself useful, so far as her great age will permit.

" Reports of her death have been circulated from time to time: but Margaret is still living, and healthy evidence in refutation of such premature rumours. P: 255.

In the course of the volume, numerous expressions and details occur which could not but offend a mind of

any cacy. There is throughout an air of levity that is totally incompatible with a topic of such deep and awful interest; which must excite compassion in the hardest heart, and force upon the most unthinking the reflection that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

[ocr errors]

deli

We are far from desiring to impose the slightest check upon the persevering investigation of so important a subject, but we have yet to learn how the purposes of scientific observation can be advanced by recording the indecent and blaspbemous expressions of a maniac. There are but slight indications of talent displayed in the course of the work, but we sincerely wish that the author bad directed whatever he may possess to a more profitable purpose than the present. By dedicating his labours to the President of Bethlem Hospital, and prefacing them with an account of its foundation and management, an endeavour is made to give these lucubrations an authoritative air. But we feel confident that there is no ground for such an imputation upon the Governors, and we hope that their disavowal of all connection with the Sketches will be publicly expressed.

[ocr errors]

Art. III. The Three Perils of Woman ; or Love, Leasing,

and Jealousy. A Series of Domestic Scottish Tales. By James Hogg, Author of " The Three Perils of Man,

Queen's Wake," &c. &c. 3 vols. 12mo. Longman & Co. · 1823. We do not at this moment recollect which of the innumerable fry of minor Scottish authorlings first scratched Mr Hogg into public notice, but we are heartly rejoiced to find that he is making all laste to scribble himself once again out of it. The penance which we have endured in wading through the three volumes now before us might justify the expression of a bitterer wish than that which we are preparing to offer; and it is no small exertion of charity, on rising from his pages, to content ourselves with a hope that they may soon be forgotten.

Love, of course, is the first and greatest peril to which woman is exposed, and Gatty Bell is the heroine of Mr. Hogg's Tale, which is to exemplify these hazards. She is the daughter of a rich and respectable Scotch Farmer, and has unconsciously bestowed her heart upon M'Ion, the College friend of her brother. M'Ion has had no fair opportunity of declaration during the summer visit in which this mutual, though unavowed attachment has taken place; and his capricious mistress, in consequence of his silence, persuades herself into a belief that female delicacy requires her to distinguish him with marks of the most decided aversion. Du

Вь VOL. XX. OCT. 1823..

ring a residence in Edinburgh which her father has projected for the completion of her education, she succeeds in convincing her unhappy swain that his suit is utterly hopeless : and at the very moment in which she is dying to throw herself into his arms, she contrives to entangle both parties in the most distressing perplexities. Her good nurse Mrs. Johnson is astonished at the young Lady's coquetry, and remonstrates with her in vain. M’Ion in a passion makes love to Gatty's cousin Cherry, and promises her marriage just at the time in which by an unseasonable repitéTEIG he is discovered to be possessed of a large property, to be Chief of his Clan, and son of Mrs. Johnson: for this good lady is no other than a she Laird in disguse, who by a series of mishaps which every novel reader may easily imagine has been long deprived of her rights, and left ignorant of the fate of her son the fruit of a clandestine marriage. Mrs Johnson who knows Gatty's secret attachment is most anxious to break off the match with Cherry, and eventually succeeds. Gatty is married to M’lon, and the deserted Cherry who nobly surrenders her betrothed, is the victim of her generosity, and dies of a broken heart.

Here, as might be imagined, the story should naturally end: but here in fact, for aught we see, it only begins.

M’Ion after all is but a gay deceiver. He loved Gatty first and Cherry afterwards, just as he promised Cherry marriage but married Gatty; Cherry clearly loved him, and, if we are to believe his own words when Cherry is dying, he loved her also: yet besides this he loves Mrs. M'Ion and Mrs. M'Ion loves him. In these variations we suppose consist the perils of loving. After Cherry's death Gatty dies also, at least for nearly a dozen pages, we supposed her to be dead. But this is not really the case. While the mourners were gathered round her death bed

“Behold the corpse sat up in the bed in one moment! The body sprung (sprang) up with a power resembling that produced by electricity. It did not rise up like one wakening out of a sleep, but with a jerk so violent that it struck the old man on the cheek, almost stupifying him; and there sat the corpse, dressed as it was in its dead. clothes a most appalling sight asman ever beheld. The whole frame appeared to be convulsed, and as it were struggling to get free of its bandages. It continued, moreover, a sort of hobbling motion as if it moved on springs. The women shrieked and hid their faces, and both the men retreated a few steps, and stood like fixed statues, gazing in terror at seeing the accomplishment of their frantic petitions. At length M’lon had the presence of mind to unbind the napkin from the face. But what a face was there exhi

« AnteriorContinuar »