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with any thing like the amplification due to its interesting nature, and we shall pass on to the next Essay, which is entitled The fear of death."
That boasting man is at best but a tissue of contradictions, is sufficiently shewn by the remarkable peculiarities connected with his feelings and fears, in reference to life and death. He courts and retires from the same object in the same moment. Constantly complaining of life as a load, that load he is nevertheless loath to lay down, and it is a circumstance somewhat ' remarkable, that those persons should be found to dread most 'their departure from this state of being, to whom it has actually proved least productive of enjoyment.' The cowar'dice' which conscience occasions, is confessedly the prime and principal source of this seeming inconsistency; but independently of any apprehensions in respect of faturity, there is a reluctance amounting to horror in the prospect of severing that bond of sympathy, by which we are united to our fellowsufferers. An individual feels the pang of repugnancy in contemplating the cessation of life, inasmuch as he cannot take with him those with whom he has participated in all life's anxieties; and this, perhaps, may be in part the reason that those who have known the most of sorrow, evince the most of solicitude to prolong the present state of existence. It is, however, a remarkable fact, that the desire of which we have been speaking, operates in a measure in producing its own destruction: the very apprehension of premature death has been known to accelerate its approach. Fear acts upon the mind, and through the mind upon the body, with sedative force, and thus is
the advance of death' often hastened by an anxiety to retard its progress. The trembling hand of the apprehensive invalid, (as our Author impressively states it,) involuntarily shakes the glass in which his hours are numbered.'
It is part of a professional man's duty, as it will be found his interest, to take advantage, as far as is consistent with a conscientious regard to truth, of this susceptibility to the impressions of hope and fear. It is certain that his manner should be such as to inspire confidence in the efficacy of his prescriptions, when he sees that the complexion of the malady itself is as much influenced by that manner, as by the matter of the prescribed potion. The semblance of hope ought indeed never to be assumed under an absolute conviction of incurable disease; but, in cases which at the worst are but of doubtful aspect and uncertain result, the physician acts wisely by assuming a determinateness of mien, and an air of authoritative conviction, respecting the rectitude and efficiency of his plans of treatment. These remarks may appear too much in the way of obvious truisms. We are however disposed to suspect that the influence
VOL. VI. N. S.
of faith in the power, upon the efficacy of the prescription, is by no means duly appreciated, either in respect to its practical consequences, or its pathological bearings.
Practitioners, (Dr. Reid remarks in another part of his treatise,) who have by any means become celebrated or popular, are often, on that very account, more successful than others in the treatment of diseases. A similar remark may be made with regard to medicines themselves. A new medicine will often obtain a fortuitous fame, during the continuance of which, there is no doubt that it actually produces some of those salutary effects which are ascribed to it. But the fault of these new medicines is, that they will not keer. For as soon as the caprice of the day has gone by, and fashion has withdrawn its protecting influence, the once celebrated remedy is divested of its beneficial properties, if it do not become positively deleterious ; by which it would appear, that its reputation had not been the result of its salutary efficacy, but that its salutary efficacy had been in a great measure at least the result of its reputation. However sceptical a physician may be with regard to the inherent or permanent qualities of a specific in vogue, it is his duty perhaps to take advantage of the tide of opinion as long as it flows in his favour. He may honestly make use of his patient's credulity, in order to relieve him from the pressure of his disease, and render the partial weakness of his mind, instrumental to the general restoration of his corporeal strength. A wholesome prejudice should be respected. It is of little consequence whether a man be healed through the medium of his fancy or his stomach.'
The next subject on which our Author treats in these Essays on insanity and other nervous diseases,' is Pride, a very common malady indeed of human nature, and we are compelled to say he has treated it in a rather common-place manner. We might pass the same sentence also on the subsequent chapter, on Remorse, were not its character for originality and utility in some measure redeemed by the following important, and if duly applied, salutary hints against the reception of that creed which ascribes a positive virtue to the mere sentimental indulgence of contrite feelings, while the heart remains radically unaltered, and the conduct continues the same.
• Remorse itself (it is well observed) is considered perhaps too indiscriminately as a compensation for misconduct. When it is an unproductive feeling merely, and not a regenerating principle, instead of mitigating, it can serve only to aggravate our offence.'
There is nothing which is perhaps in its principles more actually incorrect, or in its effects more extensively mischievous, than what may be termed sentimental piety. To compound for so much vice by an equivalent proportion of devotional feeling and periodical abstractions from worldly concerns, is as insulting to common sense as it is contrary to every
precept of pure morality. We are too apt, however, to censure this tenet in the gross, and to countenance it in the detail. Popery is indiscriminately condemned by many who are in essence and practice as papistical as the most decided devotees to the Ronnish ritual. Unproductive principles, while they are peculiar to no sect, insinuate themselves into all, under false colours, and are sometimes the most dangerous, when they are the least suspected.
Reflections on the Influence of Solitude, which is the subject of the next Essay, cannot be expected to be marked with much originality. We must allow however in this, as in several other parts of the treatise, that the force of manper compensates in a great measure for the deficiency of matter. The following remarks are expressed with considerable force and beauty.
An unnatural exile from the world, so far from necessarily implying a superiority to its pollutions, often exposes a man even more imminently to the risk of moral contamination. The voice of the appetites and passions is heard more distinctly amidst the stillness of retirement. The history of hermits, of monks, and even of nuns, serves abundantly to demonstrate that sensuality may be indulged in solitude, and debauchery practised in the desert.' The title
of the treatise before us will, with reason, be objected to on the ground of a want of correspondence with its general contents. It is not, however, entirely destitute of remarks on the very interesting but obscure subject of insanity. It is well known to all who are familiar with works on mental distempers, that madness is for the most part distinguished into Melancholia and Mania; the one state characterized by more than ordinary torpor, the other marked by inordinate excitement. Dr. Reid very properly combats the propriety of this division. The distinction is untenable, inasmuch as it assumes a comparative inactivity and deadness to sensation on the part of the melancholic, who, perhaps, under the semblanee and seeming of exterior composure, has by far more busy, and complicated, and intense emotions working in the interior of his mind, than he that is agitated with the most violent paroxysms of maniacal excitation. This remark may indeed admit of useful application to the sane state of the mind. The charges of insensibility and dulness are often grounded on ignorance and misconception. We are too apt to judge of the susceptibility of others by the excitement of our own minds, and thus to fall into the error of confounding quality with quantity of feeling. The author of “ Hygeia” has some very pertinent reinarks on this head, one or two of which we shall extract, as we consider the subject under discussion to be of prime importance in several points of view. · Torpid melancholy: torpid grief! (exclaims the writer to whom we have just alluded ;)
you may as well apply the epithet to the boisterous state of passion or insanity, and speak of torpid anger, or torpid phrenzy.' We may find occasions for pronouncing that sensi'bility is misplaced; but it is much seldomer lost or decayed than is commonly supposed. Where the treasure is, there will the heart be also. But if the treasure be in a wrong place, is there therefore no heart? DR. JOHNSON, somewhere in his Rambler, speaks of a mathematician, who, when sudden intelligence was brought him that the flames were gathering round him, instead of catching the alarm, sedately replied, that fire naturally tends to move in a circle. The anecdote is said to be authentic, but the relater, from this one trait, labours to make out a whole character, of which the essence may be gathered from the appellation of GELIDUS. For my part, I do not see any reason for believing that this GELIDUS had less warmth of disposition than the most frightened of those who were in haste to carry their property, or their children, or themselves, out of the reach of the conflagration. The affections of the mathematician, it is true, were bent upon none of these first. But there are such things in the world as co-efficients and abscisses and by these were his affections pre-occupied. He ought to be qualified as mad if you please, but not, for any thing that appears, as cold.
To any man (Dr. Beddoes goes on to say) who has had great interests to meditate, the apparent or real inattention of the melancholic (consistently with profound sensibility) to the objects noticed by others, ought not to seem a strange or puzzling doctrine. At one time, while reviewing particular ideas, we hear and see without manifesting to the by-standers any tokens of our impressions. At another we are lost in thought, ' and the clock strikes unnoticed. The sound cannot introduce
itself among the links of the passing train. The melancholic is still more lost when the fit is on him, and he notices nothing; ¿ or else, he draws every thing about him into the whirlpool of bis sensations. If the minds of others may be in any measure compared to vanes, which take their direction from without, his mind is a machine, which, by its rapid circumgyrations, not only resists the common mover, but takes this, as it were, " into tow, and forces it to become its minister.'
Nothing can be better expressed, or more just in sentiment, than the last sentence especially of the above extract; and we have called the reader's attention more particularly to the subject, because, as we have before hinted, we consider that erroneous notions of character, founded upon the supposition of defective sensibility, often lead to much mistake in regard to practical consequences, as it applies both to the management of madness and the cultivation of intellect. Unconscious talent which for a long time may have lain dormant and concealed,
but which only waits for the spark of excitation to burst into life, and energy, and splendour, is capable of explication upon the principle we are now considering; and, for want of its due appreciation, many serious errors are fallen into by superficial observers in regard to the disposition as well as capacity of young persons. Boys are often condemned for the absence of those very qualities which they possess in an eminent degree; and oftentimes a roughness, and obstinacy, and insensibility, are assumed, in revenge as it were for their being unjustly supposed to exist. An interesting character may thus become radically and irrecoverably injured, by a deficient discernment on the part of those who are professionally employed to watch and assist in its development.
The Essay intitled “ Intemperance,' contains some very striking and apposite illustrations of the inconsistency and futility, as well as the criminality of those temporary and fallacious resources to which the inebriate person has recourse as remedies against the evils of life. To say that the afflicted does not drown, he only
dips his sorrow, in the flood of intemperance, may seem to be dealing too much in prettiness of expression, and wordy play; but when the Author, rising above these prettinesses, into a manly tone of moral sentiment, makes the drunkard amenable to the crime of suicide, we are compelled to admit the justness of the charge, and to admire the energy with which it is urged. Let the inebriate man read the following sentences, and tremble under the consciousness of the moral turpitude in which his practices involve him.
• It is a condition scarcely distinguishable from despair, which can alone account for the obstinacy with which many an intemperate person deliberately pursues his disastrous course. In his mind the heavy foot of calamity has trampled out every spark of hope. He feels as if he could scarcely be in a more wretched, or is ever likely to be in a better condition. The exaggerated dimensions of his present misery, so completely fill, his eye as to prevent him from seeing any thing beyond it. He is habitually in a state of agitation or despondeney, similar to that in which suicide is committed. His, is only a more dilatory and dastardly mode of selfdestruction. He may be compared to a person who, in attempting to cut his throat, from a want of sufficient courage or decision, lacerates it for some time, before he completely perpetrates his purpose.' p. 102--3.
On the subject of Lunatic Asylums, we still think as we thought when first we saw his opinions in writing, that Dr. Reid's expressions of condemnation are too indiscriminately strong and severe. He makes an appeal to the transactions that have recently taken place, as a justification of himself against the inputation of groundless invective and inordinate