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Title: Curiosities of Medical Experience
Author: Millingen, J. G. (John Gideon)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street,
Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty.

Whiting, Beaufort House, Strand.

  M.D., F.R.S., K.T.S., &c. &c.


The rapid sale of the first edition of this work has induced the publisher
to reprint it with considerable additions in a less expensive, and more
concise form--and the author embraces this opportunity, gratefully to
acknowledge the liberality with which it has been received, and the
indulgence shown to its many imperfections. At the same time he cannot but
regret, that in some quarters it has been surmised that he yielded
credence to the many strange relations which he has recorded from various
medical works, but which he merely narrated, to show the fallacy even of
experience, and the many dangers that may arise from the most ingenious
theories and doctrines, in the very ratio of their apparent plausibility.

Although these sketches were not intended for the profession, yet they may
prove of some utility to the pupil who commences the arduous study of
medicine. They may convince him, that great names, however justly
respected and renowned, do not constitute a sufficient basis, on which to
rest a satisfactory and conclusive judgment; and, as Locke has justly
observed, that "_reverence or prejudice must not be suffered to give
beauty or deformity to any of their opinions_." He will find that of which
further experience will subsequently convince him, that medical
investigation is too often founded upon analogy and hypothesis--but let
not this painful and disheartening impression arrest his progress, or
deter him from seeking to assist his judgment by collecting "the scattered
parts of truth," for in speaking of hypothesis, Dr. Crichton has thus
expressed himself: "There is a period in knowledge, when it must be
indulged in if we mean to make any progress; it is that period when the
facts are too numerous to be recollected without general principles, and
yet, where the facts are too few to constitute a valid theory. If the
exterior form of an edifice is often the principal motive with men for
examining its internal structure; so it is in science, that the splendour
of an hypothesis, and the desire of proving its solidity, are more
frequent motives for research than a mere love of knowledge."

Notwithstanding our boasted progress in scientific pursuits, and our
supposed approach to perfection, there never perhaps was a period, since
the fanciful days of Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Van Helmont, when more
deceitful and fascinating reveries were indulged in than at the present
_enlightened_ moment, nor more ingenuity and disingenuousness displayed in
seeking to give substance to a vision or overthrowing its baseless fabric.
It is painful to be obliged to admonish the would be legislators of our
belief, in the words of the sceptical Bolingbroke:

"Folly and knavery have prevailed most where they should be tolerated the
least, and presumption has been excused most where diffidence and candour
are on many accounts the most necessary.

  "Quale per incertam lunam sub luce maligna
  Est iter in Silvis."

  _Hanwell Lunatic Asylum,
  Dec. 1838._


The great success and correspondent utility of D'Israeli's "Curiosities of
Literature," have induced me to add to the ample harvest of that ingenious
writer a few gleanings from another field. They may not afford the same
amusing variety to the general reader, but they may tend to draw some
attention to many important points that affect the chequered lot of
mankind. The progress that every science has rapidly made during the last
half-century has been astounding, and seems to have kept pace with those
struggles of the intellectual faculties to burst from the shackles of
prejudice and error that had ignobly bound them for so many ages. Groping
in darkness, man sought the light, but unfortunately the sudden refulgence
at times dazzled instead of guiding his steps in the pursuit of truth, and
led him into errors as perilous as those that had surrounded him in his
former mental obscurity. His gigantic powers were aroused, but, too
frequently misapplied, they shook the social edifice to its very
foundation. The daring hand of innovation destroyed without contemplating
what better fabric could be raised on the ruin: and while the nobler
faculties with which Providence had gifted us were exerted for the public
weal, the baser parts of our passions sought liberty in licentiousness.
Ambition degenerated into ferocity, scepticism led to impiety, and even
apparent virtue sought to propagate the doctrines of good, by assuming the
"goodly outside" of vice. Religion was overthrown because priestcraft had
deceived, and high rank was held up to detestation because princes and
nobles had been corrupt; and to use Shakespeare's words,

                      Thus we debase
  The nature of our seats, and make the rabble
  Call our cares, fears; which will in time break ope
  The lock o' the senate, and bring in the crows
  To peck the eagles.

In ten short years this mighty revolution in the intellect of man took
place,--in a country too that may be considered the cradle of the future
weal and woe, perhaps of the universe;--in ten short years we beheld
Montesquieu, Raynal, Rousseau, Voltaire, Condillac, Helvetius, beaming
like rising meteors in the dark firmament, and shedding a fearful gleam on
the past, the present, and the future; boldly tracking a path once trodden
with groping steps by Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, and Gassendi![1] No longer
trusting in blind confidence to the scholastic rules of those dignitaries
of science whose conclusions were considered sufficient to command our
faith, man became sceptical and positive; doubt and disbelief were carried
into every investigation; the reign of _prestiges_ was over; the former
monopolists of power and of science, the two great levers of society (the
more effective since their fulcra rested on timidity and ignorance), were
thrown from their antiquated stand, and found themselves brought face to
face in explanatory contact with their once all-believing and obedient
pupils, but now become a neoteric generation;--the crown and the sceptre,
the cap and the gown, were baubles in their eyes. When the faculty of
reasoning was not able to prevail, the shafts of ridicule were drawn from
the quiver of philosophic wit, and inflicted rankling wounds where they
could not destroy. Ancient systems were exploded with ancient prejudices,
theories were overthrown with dynasties, and doctrines with
governments;--one might have imagined that the formidable power of steam
had been communicated to the mind, illustrating the words of Milton,

  The mind is its own place, and in itself
  Can make a heaven of hell, and hell of heaven.

Science, now aimed at generalization-the physiologist, the chemist, became
legislators, stepping from the academic chair to the senatorial seat, and
from teaching how to benefit mankind they hurried to destroy, forgetful,
in their ambitious dream, of the noble encomium of Cicero, "_Homines ad
deos nullâ se proprius accedunt, quam salutem hominibus dando_."

Philosophy and the study of medicine were now inseparable; this generous
science was not to be attained in books only, but in the study of mankind.
Rousseau thus spoke of physicians when writing to Bernardin de Saint
Pierre:--"_Il n'y a pas d'état qui exige plus d'étude que le leur; par
tous les pays, ce sont des hommes les plus véritablement savans et
utiles_." Voltaire was of a similar opinion when he thus expressed
himself:--"_Il n'est rien de plus estimable au monde, qu'un médecin qui,
ayant dans sa jeunesse étudié la nature, connu les ressorts du corps
humain, les maux qui le tourmentent, les remèdes qui peuvent le soulager,
exerce son état en s'en défiant, et soigne également les pauvres et les

How came it then that these great observers did not partake of the
prejudices of Montaigne, Molière, and other writers, who invariably
stigmatized the practice of physic? simply because it was no longer a
dogmatic profession exercised with scholastic pedantry, but a science
founded on the study of nature, and the immutable laws of sound
philosophy. Although a classic education forms an indispensable part of a
physician's education, yet it is in more important pursuits that his
experience should be obtained: the knowledge of ancient languages is
principally useful in discovering the errors of the olden writers, and in
detecting the barefaced plagiarisms of the moderns.

Much valuable time, however, may be lost in the pursuit of ancient lore;
and Montaigne has justly observed, "There are books which should only be
read, but others that must be learnt." This discrimination is of the
utmost importance; for it may be said of the bookworm's library,
"_Multitudo librorum sæpe est nubes testium ignorantiæ possessoris_."
Aristippus very properly replied to a man who boasted of his reading, "It
is not those who eat the most that are hale and healthy, but those who can
best digest." Hence the distinction that arose between the philosophical
physician and the dogmatizer. The one was guided by the observation of
facts, the other by glossarial records. Men of erudition are seldom men of
genius. The exploring mind is ever anxious to take flight from the
prison-house of scholastic restraints. Scepticism, moreover, is frequently
the result of deep study, which leads the neophyte into such a labyrinth
of conflicting opinions, that decision and conviction are not easily
attained. Laugier, a most learned German physician, had no faith in his
profession: being reproached with his incredulity, he replied, "_Credo,
Domine, adjuva incredulitatem meam_."

The preceding observations lead to an important, and at the same time a
painful reflection. Will this rapid intellectual progress tend ultimately
to meliorate the condition of mankind? Nations have been compared to Man:
having once reached the acme of prosperity and strength, their vigour like
his gradually declines. History offers nothing more than a chronicle of
such facts. Whatever may be the causes of this degeneracy, is a matter
foreign to my present subject; although I may be permitted to observe by
the way, that it may have arisen from the great disparity and inequality
in the condition of society that tends to lull the wealthy into apathetic
indifference and blind security in their power, while it urges the poor
and the bold to rapine and destructive deeds. This perilous state can only
cease to exist when general education is improved: if this most important
source of real prosperity is attended to, we perhaps need not seek in
particular events, gloomy anticipations of the future.

Whatever may be the destinies of nations in the wreck of empires and the
destruction of men, the philosopher calmly seated on ruins that often
"speak that sometime they were a worthy building," reflects with pride
that science has withstood the withering hand of time. It is true, that in
every study errors have been heaped upon errors; but truth will often
result from falsehood, and doubt that brings on investigation, leads to
comparative certainty. Locke has justly observed, that the faculty of
reasoning seldom or never deceives those who trust to it: its
consequences, from what it builds on, are evident and certain; but that
which it oftenest, if not only, misleads us in, is, that the principles
from which we conclude, the grounds upon which we bottom our reasoning,
are but a part--_something_ is left out which should go into the reckoning
to make it just and exact. This _something_ is the constant pursuit of the
philosopher. The name of a country may be obliterated from a map, the
deeds of heroes be effaced from the annals of the world; the pursuit of
truth can only cease when man is no more;--its light may be veiled by
ignorance, craft, or cupidity,--but it cannot be extinguished. The cities
that gave birth to the illustrious philosophers of old have long ceased to
exist, yet the immortal works of those sages that have escaped the
ravages of time, are still as fresh and luxuriant as when their glorious
oratory enchanted and captivated their disciples' ears.

No science has been cultivated with more difficulty than that of Medicine.
The following papers will show how fearfully it has had to contend in turn
with the power of priestcraft, that sought to monopolize its practice, as
a privilege from the gods, and with the furious opposition of contemporary
members of the profession, whose cupidity and vanity were alarmed by the
introduction of novel doctrines, which they were too old, too busy, or too
obstinate to learn. The extracts from Medical Literature that I have given
will show that most of our modern notions were known to the earliest
writers, and were only improved in succeeding ages, as in like manner our
present doctrines will in all probability be advanced by future
generations. The destruction of kingdoms and of chronicles, the inroads of
barbarism,--the more destructive inroads of ignorance and bigotry, have
not been able to produce a void in the world of science; the catenation of
philosophic inquiry has never been broken in its connexions. Oppression
only riveted the chain more firmly, as if to resist the united power of
man and time. Adversity, which

  Like the toad, ugly and venomous,
  Wears yet a precious jewel in its head,

has always been considered the best school of practical wisdom: and it is
thus that, amidst the portentous events which have shaken every
institution, and which perhaps still menace further dissolution, the fane
of science has oftentimes been more vividly illumined by the surrounding

The evils that desolate society too frequently arise from the hasty acts
of intemperate men, who deem it necessary to meet the tumultuous demands
of the multitude with decided and energetic, but, at the same time,
perilous measures: the progress of science, on the contrary, is gradual,
and of course more likely to be eventually permanent. While political
speculations are daily becoming more uncertain in their operations, the
triumph of intellectual superiority over prejudice is every where
apparent;--unjust disabilities are being abolished, and the gates of
learning thrown open to every candidate, whatever may be his religious or
his political tenets.

In our country, more than in any other, industry and perseverance have
ever had a fairer chance of attaining social pre-eminence, despite the
shackles imposed upon the candidate for fame by institutions framed in the
darker ages. What then may we not expect, when we behold the bright era
that opens before us,--when exclusive institutions will be considered the
obsolete remnants of expiring bigotry and intolerance! May we not indulge
in the most sanguine hope, that our former glories are only the historic
earnest of still more glorious days? If the spirit of the immortal Locke
could hover over our earth, he would feel, with some degree of pride, that
his admonitions have not been unheeded; and that "those who live mewed up
within their own contracted territories, and will not look abroad beyond
the boundaries that _chance_, _conceit_, or _laziness_ have set to their
inquiries, but live separate from the notions, discourses, and attainments
of the rest of mankind," have at last felt the necessity of yielding to
the voice of reason, or rather of their own welfare.

In the following work I merely rank myself as a compiler. I have only
sketched--sometimes perhaps with too fanciful a pencil, subjects of great
importance, which, by being thus rendered popular, may induce abler pens
to imbody them in a more permanent form. The variety of matter introduced
has obliged me to be discursive, and to have recourse to some repetitions
that were necessary to illustrate subjects not easily abridged. Whenever I
have held up errors and evil passions to exposure, I have not, in one
single instance, I trust, been influenced by any hostility towards men or
parties--ranks or creeds. If I have unwillingly and unwittingly given
offence, I shall most sincerely lament it. My materials have been gleaned
from the works of many contemporaries, whose well-known and
justly-appreciated names will in general appear: but I should be wanting
in candour, did I not avow that I have derived much valuable information
from _Le Dictionnaire des Sciences Médicales_, an elaborate compilation,
containing more "CURIOSITIES OF MEDICAL EXPERIENCE" than any existing

  _48, Eaton Square,
  January, 1837._



  Obesity                                                      1

  Dwarfs                                                       9

  Gigantic Races                                              12

  Unlawful Cures                                              19

  Voice and Speech                                            32

  Ecstatic Exaltation                                         37

  Varieties of Mankind                                        44

  On the Inhumation of the Dead in Cities                     54

  Buried Alive                                                63

  Spontaneous Combustion                                      66

  Brassica Eruca                                              70

  Cagliostro                                                  71

  Lunar Influence on Human Life and Diseases                  73

  Spectacles                                                  76

  Leeches                                                     77

  Somnambulism                                                79

  Medical Powers of Music                                     88

  The Food of Mankind                                         96

  Influence of Imagination                                   125

  Ancient Ideas of Phrenology                                135

  Perfumes                                                   136

  Love Philters and Potions                                  141

  Ventriloquism                                              148

  Chaucer's Description of a Physician                       151

  Dæmonomania                                                152

  The Plague                                                 164

  Abstinence                                                 185

  Poison of the Upas, or Ipo                                 190

  Homophagous and polyphagous                                196

  Causes of Insanity                                         202

  Leprosy                                                    221

  The Aspic                                                  227

  Selden's Comparison between a Divine, a Statesman, and
    a Physician                                              229

  The Lettuce                                                230

  Medical Fees                                               231

  Enthusiasm                                                 237

  Medical effects of Water                                   252

  Proverbs and Sayings regarding Health and Disease          259

  The Night-mare                                             262

  Incubation of Diseases                                     266

  Quackery and Charlatanism                                  269

  On the use of Tea                                          277

  Mandragore                                                 281

  Barber-Surgeons, and the Progress of Chirurgical Art       285

  On Dreams                                                  295

  On Flagellation                                            312

  On Life and the Blood                                      317

  Of the Homoeopathic Doctrines                              337

  Doctrine of Signatures                                     365

  Coffee                                                     370

  Aqua Tophania                                              374

  Plica Polonica & Human Hair                                377

  Animal Magnetism                                           384

  Poisonous Fishes                                           397

  Memory & the Mental Faculties                              404

  Affections of the Sight                                    420

  Hellebore                                                  426

  Sympathies and Antipathies                                 428

  The Archeus of Van Helmont                                 439

  Monsters                                                   443

  Longevity                                                  453

  Cretinism                                                  472

  Temperaments                                               476

  Solar Influence                                            482

  Sweating Fever                                             485

  Smallpox                                                   491

  Drunkenness                                                507

  Decapitation                                               516

  Mummies                                                    518

  Hydrophobia                                                527

  Rise and Progress of Medicine                              534

  Medicine of the Chinese                                    552

  Experiments on Living Animals                              559



Various are the opinions concerning the cause of excessive corpulence. By
some it is attributed to too great an activity in the digestive functions,
producing a rapid assimilation of our food; by others, to the predominance
of the liver: while indolence and apathy, such as is commonly observed in
the wealthy monastic orders, are considered as occasioning a laxity of
fibre favourable to this _embonpoint_. Boileau has thus described one of
these fat lazy prelates, who

            Muni d'un déjeûner,
  Dormant d'un léger somme, attendait le dîner.
  La jeunesse en sa fleur brille sur son visage;
  Son menton sur son sein descend à triple étage;
  Et son corps ramassé, dans sa courte grosseur,
  Fait gémir les coussins sous sa molle épaisseur.

It is certain that exercise, anxiety of mind, want of sleep, and spare
food, are circumstances opposed to fatness. This fact is illustrated by
Shakspeare, when Cæsar says to Antony,

  Let me have men about me that are fat,--
  Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights;
  Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
  He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

Antony and Dolabella were both men of some corpulence. The Roman ladies
dreaded above all things too voluminous a development of the bosom: to
prevent it they were in the habit of applying to their breasts the raw
flesh of a fish called Angel. Hippocrates has maintained that obesity was
an obstacle to conception. This assertion which was partaken by other
medical writers, may, in some measure account for the dread of
corpulence. Strange indeed have been the fancies on this subject amongst
various nations.

Fat is a fluid similar to vegetable oils, inodorous, and lighter than
water; besides the elements common to water, to oils, and wax, it contains
carbon, hydrogen, and sebacic acid, which is pretty similar to the acetic.
Human fat, like that of other animals, has been frequently employed for
various purposes. A story is told of an Irish tallowchandler, who, during
the invasion of Cromwell's army, made candles with the fat of Englishmen,
which were remarkable for their good quality; but when the times became
more tranquil, his goods were of an inferior kind, and when one of his
customers complained of his candles falling off, he apologised by saying,
"I am sorry to inform you that the times are so bad that I have been short
of Englishmen for a long time."

Obesity may be considered a serious evil, and has exposed corpulent
persons to many _désagrémens_. The ancients held fat people in sovereign
contempt. Some of the Gentoos enter their dwellings by a hole in the roof;
and any fat person who cannot get through it, they consider as an
excommunicated offender who has not been able to rid himself of his sins.
An Eastern prince had an officer to regulate the size of his subjects, and
who dieted the unwieldy ones to reduce them to a proper volume. In China
this calamity is considered a blessing, a man's intellectual qualities are
esteemed in the ratio of corporeal bulk.

There are cases on record among ourselves where unwieldiness led to
estimation. The corpulent antiquarian Grose was requested by his butcher
to tell all his friends that he bought his meat from him; and the paviers
of Cambridge used to say, "God bless you, sir!" to a huge professor when
he walked over their work. Fatness has often been the butt of jocularity.
Dr. Stafford, who was enormously fat, was honoured with this epitaph:

  Take heed, O good traveller, and do not tread hard,
  For here lies Dr. Stafford, _in all this church-yard_.

And the following lines were inscribed on the tomb of a corpulent

  Here lies in earth an honest fellow,
  Who died by fat and lived by tallow.

Dr. Beddoes was so uncomfortably stout that a lady of Clifton used to
call him "the walking feather-bed." At the court of Louis XV. there were
two lusty noblemen, related to each other: the king, having rallied one of
them on his corpulency, added, "I suppose you take little or no exercise?"
"Your majesty will pardon me," replied the bulky duke, "for I generally
walk two or three times round my cousin every morning."

Various ludicrous anecdotes are related of fat people. A scene between
Mrs. Clive and Mrs. Pritchard, two corpulent actresses, must have been
very amusing. They were playing in the parts of Lady Easy and Edging, in
the Careless Husband, when the former desires Edging to pick up a letter
she had dropped; and Mrs. Clive, who might as well have attempted to raise
a hundred pound weight, exclaimed, "Not I indeed, take it up yourself if
you like it." This answer threw the audience into roars of laughter, when
Mrs. Pritchard replied, "Well, if you won't take up the letter, I must
find some one who will;" and so saying, she beckoned to a servant in the
wing, who came forward and terminated the dispute.

In some countries, especially in the East, moderate obesity is considered
a beauty, and Tunisene young ladies are regularly fattened for marriage; a
different practice from that of the Roman matrons, who starved their
daughters, to make them as lean as possible on such occasions. Thus

    Nostræ virgines--si bono habitu sunt, matres pugiles esse aiunt, et
    cibum deducunt.

Erasmus states that the Gordii carried their admiration for corpulence to
such an extent, that they raised the fattest amongst them to the throne.
It is well known that the preposterous size of some of the Hottentots is
deemed a perfection, and one of their Venuses was not long since exhibited
in London.

There is no doubt that food materially influences this condition of
mankind, although we frequently see enormous eaters who are miserably
lean, and fat persons whose diet is most scanty. During the late war, a
ravenous French prisoner was known to eat four pounds of raw cow-udder,
ten pounds of raw beef, and two pounds of candles, per diem, diluting his
meals with five quarts of porter; yet this carnivorous brute was a perfect

Amongst the many predisposing causes of obesity we may rank emasculation.
An epicurean fishmonger of the name of Samuel Tull performed this
operation on fishes, to render them more delicate. His curious experiments
were submitted to the Royal Society. The same practice has been
subsequently illustrated by Professor Dumeril. Father Charleroix informs
us that Caraib cannibals had recourse to this process to fatten their
prisoners before they were devoured.

Anatomical pursuits are also known to occasion _embonpoint_. This has been
frequently observed amongst medical pupils. Professor Mascagni attributed
his corpulence to his constant attendance on dissections; he also excused
his amorous propensities on similar grounds.

For the cure of corpulency, diminution of food of a nutritious nature has
been generally recommended; added to this, little sleep and much exercise
are advised. Acids to reduce fatness are frequently administered, but have
done considerable mischief. Amongst other wonderful accounts of their
efficacy in such cases, it is related of a Spanish general who was of an
enormous size, that he drank vinegar until his bulk was so reduced that he
could fold his skin round his body.

For a similar purpose soap has been frequently recommended, particularly
by Dr. Flemyng. He began this experiment with one of his patients who
weighed twenty stone and eleven pounds (jockey weight): in July 1754, he
took every night a quarter of an ounce of common Castile soap. In August
1756 his bulk was reduced two stone, and in 1760 he was brought down to a
proper condition.

Darwin is of opinion that salt and salted meat are still more efficacious
than soap. All these experiments, however, are in general not only useless
but pernicious, and frequently prove fatal. Mr. Wadd, from whose curious
work on corpulence much is extracted in this article, properly observes
that, "certain and permanent relief is only to be sought in rigid
abstemiousness, and a strict and constant attention to diet and exercise."
Dr. Cheyne, who weighed thirty-two stone, reduced himself one-third, and
enjoyed good health till the age of seventy-two. Numerous instances of the
kind are mentioned, where journals of gradual reduction were kept: the
following is an abstract of one of them, in the case of a person who, on
the 17th June 1820, weighed twenty-three stone two pounds:--

  June 17           23 stone 2 pounds.
  July 27           21   "  10   "
  September 10      20   "   7   "
  October 10        19   "   3   "
  November 10       18   "  11   "
  December 10       18   "   4   "
  December 25       18   "   1   "

In another case, attended by Dr. Gregory of Edinburgh, the patient weighed
twenty-three stone, and by a regular system of diet was brought down to
fifteen stone. In this instance brown bread, with a certain quantity of
bran in it, was employed; and it is well known that the alimentary
secretions are materially altered by the quality of bread. The article of
drink also requires much attention. Corpulent persons generally indulge to
excess, and in this case, every endeavour to reduce them will be vain. We
frequently see our jockeys reducing themselves to the extent of a stone
and a half in the week. A lower scale of diet is by no means as injurious
as it is generally supposed; the English prisoners made by Tippoo Saib,
though kept upon a scanty pittance of bread and water, found themselves in
better health than before, and some of them were cured during their
captivity of liver complaints of long and severe duration.

One of the most corpulent persons known was Mr. Lambert, of
Leicestershire, who weighed fifty-two stone eleven pounds (14 lbs. to the

At Hainton, there died in 1816, Samuel Sugars, aged fifty-two; and his
body, with a single coffin weighed fifty stone.

In 1754 died Mr. Jacob Powell, of Stebbing in Essex: his body was above
five yards in circumference, and weighed five hundred and sixty pounds;
requiring sixteen men to bear him to his grave.

In 1775 Mr. Spooner, of Skillington near Tamworth, weighed, a short time
before his death, forty stone and nine pounds, and measured four feet
three inches across the shoulders.

Keysler mentions a young man in Lincoln who ate eighteen pounds of beef
daily, and died in 1724, in the twenty-eighth of his age, weighing five
hundred and thirty pounds.

A baker, in Pye Corner, weighed thirty-four stone, and would frequently
eat a small shoulder of mutton, baked in his oven, and weighing five
pounds; he, however, persisted for one year to live upon water-gruel and
brown bread, by which he lost two hundred pounds of his bulk.

Mr. Collet, master of the Evesham Academy, weighed upwards of twenty-six
stone; when twelve years old, he was nearly as large as at the time of his
death. At two years of age he required two nurses to lift him in and out
of bed, one of whom in a fit of anger he felled to the floor with a blow
of his hand.

At Trenaw in Cornwall, there was a man, known by the name of Grant
Chillcot, who weighed four hundred and sixty pounds; one of his stockings
could contain six gallons of wheat.

Our poet Butler must have met with some such enormous creatures in the
type of his Saxon Duke, who, in Hudibras,

  ------did grow so fat,
  That mice (as histories relate)
  Ate grots and labyrinths to dwell in
  His postique parts, without his feeling.

If obesity has been the subject of ungenerous jokes, leanness has not
passed unnoticed. An anecdote is related of a reverend doctor of a very
ghostly appearance, who was one day accosted by a fellow with the
following salutation: "Well, doctor, I hope you have taken care of your
_soul_?" "Why, my friend?" said the divine. "Because," replied the
impertinent interlocutor, "your _body_ is not worth caring for."

A poor diminutive Frenchman being ordered by his Sangrado to drink a quart
of ptisan a day, replied, with a heavy sigh, "Alas! doctor, that I cannot
do, since I only hold a pint."

When the Duke de Choiseuil, a remarkably meager man, came to London to
negotiate a peace, Charles Townshend being asked whether the French
government had sent the preliminaries of a treaty, answered, "He did not
know, but they had sent the _outline of an ambassador_."

That change of spare diet to a more nutritious food may bring on some
corpulence, is evidenced in an anecdote of Colly Cibber, who relates that
a poor half-starved actor, who used to play the Apothecary in Romeo and
Juliet, to the life, and with great applause, received an augmentation of
salary in consequence of his popularity. Unfortunately, increase of
wealth led him to increase his fare, until he gradually assumed a
plumpness which unfitted him for the worn-out pharmacopolist; and not
being able to perform in any other line, the poor man was discharged.
However, poverty once more brought him down to his original condition,
when he reappeared upon the boards as triumphantly as ever.

If _embonpoint_ is generally a sign of good-humour and a cheerful
disposition, leanness frequently betokens a sour, crabbed, and ill-natured
character. Solomon has said, "A merry heart doeth good like medicine; but
a broken spirit drieth the bones." This observation, however, cannot be
considered a rule in forming a judgment of various tempers. This is by no
means an easy attempt in our intercourse with the world, when physiognomy
is not always a sure guide in the selection of our companions. Dr.
Franklin tells a singular story on this subject:

"An old philosophical gentleman had grown, from experience, very cautious
in avoiding ill-natured people. To endeavour to ascertain their
disposition he made use of his legs, one of which was remarkably handsome,
the other, by some accident, crooked and deformed. If a stranger at the
first interview regarded his ugly leg more than his handsome one, he
doubted him; but if he spoke of it, and took no notice of his handsome
leg, that was sufficient to determine the philosopher to have no further
acquaintance with him. Every body has not this two-legged instrument; but
every one, with a little attention, may observe signs of this carping,
fault-finding disposition, and take the same resolution of avoiding the
acquaintance of those infected by it. I therefore advise those querulous,
discontented, unhappy people, if they wish to be respected and beloved by
others, and happy in themselves, _to leave off looking at the ugly leg_."

Various expedients, in addition to a better diet, have been resorted to,
to restore lean persons to a better case; but amongst the most singular
that we have on record is that of flagellation. Galen says, that
horse-dealers having been observed to fatten horses for sale by flogging
them, an analogous method might be useful with spare persons who wish to
become stouter. He also mentions slave-dealers who employed similar means.
Suetonius informs us that Musa, the favourite physician of Augustus, used
to fustigate him, not only to cure him of a sciatica, but to keep him
plump. Meibomius pretends that nurses whip little children to fatten them,
that they may appear healthy and chubby to their mothers. No doubt but
flagellation determines a greater influx of blood to the surface, and may
thus tend to increase the circulation, and give tone to parts which would
otherwise be languid. With this intention, _urticatio_, or whipping with
nettles, has been frequently used in medical practice with great
advantage. Xenophon thawed his frozen soldiers by flagellation. In amorous
despondency and grief, Coelius Aurelianus recommended this process, and
Elidoeus Paduanus advises it to bring out tardy eruptions. The most
singular effect of this castigation is recorded by Meibomius, in his work
_De flagrorum usu_, &c., dedicated to a councillor of the Bishop of
Lubeck, with the following epigraph:

  Delicias pariunt Veneri crudelia flagra.
    Dum nocet, illa juvat; dum juvat, ecce nocet.

Menghus Faventinus had long before extolled this practice, mentioned also
by Coelius Rhodiginus, and various ancient writers, and more recently
recognised as effectual by Rousseau, in his Confessions.

A remarkable case of leanness is mentioned by Lorry in a priest, who
became so thin and dry in all his articulations, that at last he was
unable to go through the celebration of mass, as his joints and spine
would crack in so loud and strange a manner at every genuflexion, that the
faithful were terrified, and the faithless laughed. One of these miserable
laths once undertook a long journey to consult a learned physician on his
sad condition, and having begged to know, in a most piteous tone, the
cause of his desiccation, was favoured with the following luminous answer:
"Sir, there is a predisposition in your constitution to make you lean, and
a disposition in your constitution to keep you so." Another meager patient
being told that the celebrated Hunter had fattened a dog by removing his
spleen, exclaimed, with a deep sigh, "O, sir! I wish Mr. Hunter had


We can scarcely believe that the ancients gave any credence to the
fabulous accounts of dwarfish nations, or could be persuaded of the
existence of those pigmies spoken of by Aristotle and other writers, who,
in all probability, described as such a species of diminutive monkeys.

Athenæus mentions a race of dwarfs who were in perpetual war with cranes,
who harnessed partridges to their chariots, and were obliged to cut down
corn with felling-axes, like forest trees. Pliny asserts that their
constant enemy, the crane, drove them out of Thracia, but that they still
were to be met with in Ethiopia, near the source of the Nile, and above
the rise of the Ganges, where they were named _Spithania_, their stature
not exceeding three palms. Nicephorus Calixtus, in his Ecclesiastical
History, mentions an Egyptian who was not longer than a partridge, and
who, at the age of twenty-five, displayed considerable mental endowment.
Strabo, however, judiciously observed that these stories arose from the
circumstance of the small size of every animal in intemperate regions.
Various modern travellers have recorded the most absurd stories of
diminutive men, as well as of gigantic nations; but to most of them we may
apply the words of Congreve--

  Fernandez Mendez Pinto was but a type of thee,
  Thou liar of the first magnitude.

It is nevertheless true, that man exhibits differences of stature in
various climes. The Laplanders and Samoïdes in Europe, the Ostiacks and
Tungooses in Asia, the Greenlanders and Esquimaux in America--all the
natives indeed of high northern latitudes are remarkably short, measuring
little more than four feet; and Niels Sara, the Laplander mentioned by Von
Buch in his Travels, and who measured five feet eight inches, may be
considered as a gigantic exception. It had been reported by travellers,
that a nation of white dwarfs, called _Quimos_ or _Kimos_, existed in the
interior of Madagascar; but Flacourt has positively denied the fact,
although Commerson, the naturalist of Bougainville, and De Modave, confirm
the former statement. It has also been remarked by various travellers,
that dwarfs are not uncommon amongst robust and manly races, instanced in
Poland and Lithuania. Sigismund de Herbestein made the same observation in
Samogitia, the population of which was of a high stature.

It is by no means evident that climate or any external agency invariably
produces this effect; for, in the very regions inhabited by the stunted
Hottentot, the shortest race in Africa, since the Bosjernan tribe scarcely
ever exceed four feet, we find the strong and tall Kaffer. Amongst these
it is also to be remarked, that there exists a singular difference between
the sexes. Langsdorf thus expresses himself on the subject: "The Kaffer
women were mostly of low stature, very strong-limbed, and particularly
muscular in the leg: the men, on the contrary, were the finest figures I
ever beheld; they were tall, robust, and muscular. A young man of about
twenty, of six feet ten inches high, was one of the finest figures that
perhaps was ever created. He was a perfect Hercules; and a cast from his
body would not have disgraced the pedestal of the deity in the Farnese
Palace." He further adds, "There is, perhaps, no nation on earth, taken
collectively, that can produce so fine a race of men as the Kaffers: they
are tall, stout, muscular, well-made, elegant figures. They are exempt,
indeed, from many of those causes that in more civilized societies
contribute to impede the growth of the body. Their diet is simple, their
exercise of a salutary nature; their body is neither cramped nor
encumbered by clothing; the air they breathe is pure; their rest is not
disturbed by violent love, nor their minds ruffled by jealousy; they are
free from those licentious appetites which proceed frequently more from a
depraved imagination than a real natural want. Their frame is neither
shaken nor enervated by the use of intoxicating liquor; they eat when
hungry, and sleep when nature demands it. With such a kind of life,
languor and melancholy have nothing to do. The countenance of a Kaffer is
always cheerful, and the whole of his demeanour bespeaks content and peace
of mind."

Are diminutive races more productive than those of stronger formation? The
brute creation has been taken as an example in support of this opinion;
large animals producing one or two young ones, while the smaller species
are singularly prolific. The lioness seldom brings forth more than two or
four whelps, the cat will have a litter of eight or ten kittens; the
pullulation of insects is incredible. But is not this circumstance an
illustration of the wisdom of Providence? If the larger species were as
abundant as the lesser races, where could they find sustenance in regions
where the produce is, under the influence of the seasons, occasionally
abundant or scarce? In the ocean, this is not the case; the myriads of its
creatures suffice to support each other, and we therefore meet in the
deep, the largest of animals in numerous shoals, while the small fry are
generated in marvellous abundance.

That the facility of obtaining food and the nature of the nutritious
substances that animals may find, influence their stature, is evident. In
sandy and arid plains poor in pasture, we find horses and cattle of a
stunted breed: the herds of Flanders widely differ from those of Wales and
of the Ukraine, and the Scotch and Welsh cattle cannot be compared to
those of Holstein. At the same time, it must be observed, that in regard
to dwarfs, although it frequently does occur that they are labouring under
a hereditary lowness of stature, this is not invariably the case. In these
instances dwarfs may be considered as morbid phenomena. Thus Bebe, the
dwarf of Stanislaus of Poland, who was thirty-three French inches high,
was weak, of delicate health, became deformed as he grew up, and died at
the age of twenty-three; his parents were of the usual stature: whereas
the Polish nobleman Borwlaski was well-made, active, intelligent: he
measured twenty-eight inches; he had a brother of thirty-four inches, and
a sister of twenty-one. Stöberin, of Nürenberg, was nearly three feet high
at twenty, well-proportioned, and possessing a cultivated mind: his
parents, brothers, and sisters, were all dwarfs. Such natural dwarfs have
been known to evince brilliant qualities. Uladislas, king of Poland,
surnamed _Cubitalis_ from his only measuring a cubit in height, was
renowned for his warlike exploits; and we find a dwarf of the name of
Kasan, a khan of Tartary, boldly leading their enterprising bands. These
individuals sprung from dwarfish parents; whereas the dwarfs we generally
meet with are deformities of nature; their head is voluminous, their
intellectual faculties obtuse, they are mostly childish in their ideas and
pursuits, and are rarely able to propagate their race.

Held in contempt by the people, dwarfs naturally become peevish and
irritable; and the diminutive names given to them to match their apparent
natural imperfection tend constantly to increase their irritability. Thus
the Latins called them _Homunciones_, the Italians _Piccoluomini_, the
Flemings _Mennekin_,--whence, no doubt, our term _Mannikin_ given to
little men, and _Minikin_ applied to small pins. A very curious case of a
dwarf born from parents of the usual stature was exhibited in Paris in
1819: her name was Anne Souvray; she was born in the Vosges, and was only
thirty-three inches in height. She was at that period seventy-three years
of age; was gay, animated, good-humoured, and danced with tolerable grace
with her sister Barbe, seventy-five years of age, and taller than her by
two inches. In 1762, King Stanislaus wanted to marry her to his Bebe; the
bridegroom, however, did not live to contract so desirable a match; but,
faithful to her lover, she ever afterwards called herself _Madame Bébé_.

Jeffrey Hudson, the dwarf of King Charles, must also have been of a very
diminutive stature, since we find that he was served up in a pie to the
royal table, and jumped out when the crust was raised. It appears that
introducing live pies in those days were not an uncommon frolic; hence
there may be some truth in the old song of

  Four-and-twenty black-birds bak'd in a pye,
  When the pye was open'd the birds began to sing,
  Was not that a dainty dish to lay before a king?


While we dismiss as fabulous all ancient and modern accounts of dwarfish
races, we must also treat with the same scepticism the relations of
gigantic nations. Although individuals of incredible stature have been
occasionally seen, the word giant must be considered not only comparative
as regarding primary races, but in many instances allegorical. Thus the
Hebrew word, _Nophel_ and _Giboor_ (_Nephilim_ and _Gibborim_ in the
plural), did not signify giants, as commonly translated, but cruel and
violent men. Athletic power and uncommon energies were naturally
associated with the idea of supernatural stature, though intellectual
accomplishments were not always included in the association: on the
contrary, we find the ancient axiom _Homo longus rarè sapiens_ frequently

In temperate climates the height of the human race averages from four feet
and a half to six feet, but occasional instances have been met with of men
reaching eight and nine feet--nay, some authors go so far as ten and
eighteen; but the latter assertions seem to refer to fossil bones
attributed to man, but which evidently belonged to other animals. Buffon
mentions gigantic human bones discovered at Lucerne, but which upon
examination Blumenbach pronounced to be the remains of an elephant.
Halicot, in his work called _Gigantosteologia_, describes bones found in a
sepulchre in Dauphiny over which was a stone inscribed TEUTOBOCCHUS REX:
this skeleton was twenty-five feet and a half high, and ten feet broad at
the shoulder. Riolan, the celebrated anatomist, disputes the fact; and in
his book entitled _Gigantomachia_ positively affirms that they also
belonged to an elephant. It is worthy of remark, that in this controversy
each party considered his opinion and decision of sufficient weight to
need no illustration, and therefore neither of them thought it necessary
to confirm his _dixit_ by drawings and engravings of the questionable
remains. Such is the vanity of the learned! An infallible philosopher
informs us that Adam's stature was one hundred and twenty-three feet nine
inches; Eve's, one hundred and eighteen feet nine inches and three
quarters; Noah's, twenty feet short of Adam's; Abraham's, twenty-eight
feet; Moses', thirteen; and Hercules', ten.

That the first races of man were of larger dimensions than those of our
contemporaries, has ever been a general opinion. Thus Virgil in his

  Grandiaque effossis mirabitur ossa sepulchris.

Lucretius ascribes the same superiority to animals.

  Jamque adeò fracta est ætas, effoetaque tellus
  Vix animalia parva creat, quæ cuncta creavit
  Sæcla, deditque ferarum ingentia corpora partu.

And again the Mantuan poet,

                Sic Omnia fatis
  In pejus ruere, ac retrò sublapsa referri.

Not only have our forefathers been considered more gigantic in stature,
but of more vigorous power. Hence Juvenal says,

  Nam genus hoc, vivo jam decrescebat Homero.
  Terra malos homines nunc educat, atque pusillos.

It is however obvious, that former races, although they might have
excelled the present generation in vigour from the nature of their
education and pursuits, could not claim any pre-eminence in stature. The
remains of human bones, found in tombs and Egyptian mummies, demonstrate
this fact most clearly; and the armour, helmets, and breastplates of the
ancients confirm it. Their swords were as light, nay, much lighter in many
instances, than those of the present day; and those enormous ones of the
times of chivalry were only wielded to inflict one overwhelming blow with
both hands, and could scarcely be recovered for protection.

Ancient writers corroborate this opinion. Homer, when speaking of a fine
man, gives him four cubits in height and one in breadth. Vitruvius fixes
the usual standard of man at six Roman feet: the giant Gabbarus mentioned
by Pliny did not exceed nine feet. Aristotle's admeasurement of beds was
six feet; and certainly the doorways of ancient edifices by no means
indicated taller inmates than our present generation. It is therefore
pretty clear that the supposed fossil remains of gigantic human bones
belonged to the _Megatherium_, the _Palæotherium_, and other individuals,
which certainly prove that in remote ages there existed animals of much
larger dimensions than any now in being, though we have no reason to
suppose that this variety extended to our species.[2]

The origin of the fabled giants has led to marvellous disquisitions. Many
fathers of the church, amongst whom we may quote St. Cyprian, St.
Ambrosius, St. Chrosostom, St. Cyrillius, Tactantius, Tertullian, and
several others, gravely maintain that giants were the favoured offsprings
of holy maidens and angels. This may seem an impious conclusion, since the
gigantic monsters of sacred history were any thing but angelic; for the
Canaaneans, the Moabites, and the sons of Anak, descended from giants,
(compared with whom the Israelites seemed as grasshoppers,) were most
ferocious, and their land devoured its inhabitants; (though Neuman gives a
different signification to the scriptural passage, which according to his
paraphrase merely meant "that the number of inhabitants was so great, that
they eat up all the land;") Og, king of Bashan, whose country was
delivered into the hands of Israel, had an iron bedstead nine cubits in
length and four cubits in breadth; and Goliath, the reproach of Israel,
was six cubits and a span (which according to Cumberland makes eleven feet
English) in stature. It is therefore difficult to imagine why so many
saints considered giants as an angelic progeny.

To the present day, however, we find various races distinguished by their
elevated stature. Humboldt says, that the Guayaquilists measure six feet
and a half, and the Payaguas are equally tall, while the Caribbees of
Cumana are distinguished by their almost gigantic size from all the other
nations he had met with in the New World. Hearne saw in the cold regions
north of Canada individuals of six feet four inches. The Patagonians, or
Tehuels, were stated by Pigafitta and the Spanish early navigators as
measuring seven feet four inches; and although it appears that this
account is exaggerated, more recent travellers, amongst whom we may name
Bougainville, Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Carteret, and Falkner,
affirm that their height ranges from six to seven feet.

From the best authenticated observations, it appears that the tallest
persons on respectable record, did not, according to Haller, exceed nine
feet. A young man from Huntingdonshire was exhibited in London, and
measured about eight feet at the age of seventeen; he was, as usual, born
of the ordinary size, but began to grow most rapidly; his sister was of
great height, and all his family were remarkably tall.

Dwarfs generally die from premature old age, and giants from exhaustion. A
curious instance of marvellous growth is recorded in a tract called
"_Prodigium Willinghamense_," or an account of a surprising boy who was
born at Willingham, near Cambridge, and upon whom the following epitaph
was written:--"Stop, traveller, and wondering, know, here buried lie the
remains of Thomas, son of Thomas and Margaret Hall; who, not one year old,
had the signs of manhood; at three, was almost four feet high, endued
with uncommon strength, a just proportion of parts, and a stupendous
voice; before six, he died as it were at an advanced age." Mr. Dawker, a
surgeon of St. Ives, Huntingdon, who published this account, viewed him
after death, and the corpse exhibited all the appearances of decrepit old
age. This is a confirmation of the case of the boy of Salamis, mentioned
by Pliny as being four feet high, and having reached puberty at the age of
three; and may also confirm the account of the man seen by Craterus, the
brother of Antigonus, who in seven years was an infant, a youth, an adult,
a father, an old man, and a corpse.

The experiment of Dr. Berkeley, bishop of Cloyne, to ascertain the
influence of food in promoting extraordinary growth, is curious. He
selected for this purpose an orphan child of the name of Macgrath; and, by
dint of feeding, at the age of sixteen he had grown to the height of seven
feet; but his organization had been so exhausted by this forced process,
that he died in a state of moral and physical decay at the age of twenty.

In the development of organized bodies, the effects of light contribute
materially. Dr. Edwards, an English physician in Paris, and one of our
most distinguished physiologists, has shown that by excluding tadpoles
from the light, they will grow to double and triple their ordinary size,
but are not metamorphosed into frogs. He thinks that the _Proteus
Anguinis_ is the first stage of an animal prevented from growing to
perfection by inhabiting the subterraneous waters of Carniola.

The influence of food on the changes of animals is further shown in the
aphidivorous flies, that are larvæ for eight or ten days, pupæ for about a
fortnight, and perfect insects in about the same time, in the whole living
about six weeks; whereas a pupa deprived of food underwent no change, and
lived for twelve months. Rapid development of the organism invariably
brings on premature dissolution. A case is recorded of a girl who cut four
teeth at the end of the first fortnight; walked about, and had hair
reaching to the middle of her back after the seventh month; exhibited
signs of puberty at the ninth month, but perished in a state of exhaustion
in her twelfth year. Dr. Comarmond, of Lyons, relates the case of a female
infant, who was perfectly developed at the age of twenty-seven months,
but she sank under rachitis when she had attained her twelfth year.

Precocious mental attainments are frequently as destructive of life as a
rapid growth. The wonderful Baratier, at the age of four, spoke and read
Latin, French, and German; was an excellent Greek scholar at six; and when
ten years of age, translated the Scriptures from the Hebrew; at nineteen
he died of exhaustion. The vulgar saying, "The child is too clever to
live," is founded upon observation. These early specimens of superior
intellect are sometimes followed by a state of imbecility. Antiochus tells
us that Hermogenes, who was a celebrated rhetorician at fourteen years,
was ignorant in the extreme at twenty-four; and of him it was said,

  In pueritia senex, in senectute puer.

Tall men generally produce children of high stature. The celebrated
grenadier guards of Frederick William, in the words of Dr. Johnson,
"_propagated procerity_;" and the inhabitants of Potsdam are remarkable
for their height. Haller states that his own family were distinguished by
their tallness, without excepting one single grandchild, although they
were very numerous.

In the hereditary transmission of physical and moral qualities, many
curious observations have been made. Women of high mental attainments have
been known to produce children of genius, more frequently than men of a
superior intellect; although Haller relates the singular case of two noble
females who married wealthy idiots on account of their fortunes, and from
whom this melancholy defect had extended for a century into several
families, so that some of all their descendants still continued idiots in
the fourth and fifth generation. Horace had observed this tendency to
produce offsprings resembling their parents,

  Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis:
  Est in juvencis, est in equis patrum
  Virtus: nec imbellem feroces
  Progenerant aquilæ columbam.

This remark, however, is more applicable to physical transmissions, and
certain peculiarities characterize whole families. Pliny mentioned
examples of six-fingered families, who bore the name _Sedigita_. C.
Horatius had two daughters with a similar deformity. Mr. Carlisle knew a
family in which supernumerary toes and fingers were observed for four
generations: they were introduced by a female who had six fingers on each
hand, and as many toes on each foot. From her marriage with a man
naturally formed, were produced ten children, with a supernumerary member
on each limb; and an eleventh, in which the peculiarity existed in both
feet and one hand, the other hand being naturally formed. The latter
marrying a man of ordinary formation, they had four children, of which
three had one or two limbs natural, and the rest with the supernumerary
parts; while the fourth had six fingers on each hand, and as many toes on
each foot. The latter married a woman naturally formed, and had issue by
her eight children; four with the usual structure, and the same number
with the additional fingers and toes: two of them were twins, of which one
was naturally formed, and the other six-fingered and six-toed.--The
well-known porcupine family, that were exhibited in London and elsewhere,
is a remarkable example of hereditary transmission of organic
peculiarities. They were all covered with dark-coloured horny
excrescences, which they shed annually in the autumn or winter. Their
names were Lambert. Two brothers, John and Richard, grandsons of the
original porcupine men, were shown in Germany.--One of these unsightly
individuals, who was exhibited some time ago in Bond-street, stated that
he was descended from the fourth generation of a savage found in the woods
of America; and he further asserted that the females of the family were
exempted from this lucrative but uncomfortable peculiarity: all the males
had them, and shed them regularly until the thirty-sixth year, when these
species of quills grew to a considerable length. We have examples of
bristly hair being shed in a whole family every autumn.

Amongst animals, gigantic races no longer inhabit the regions which bore
them in ancient times. An extensive whale-fishery was once carried on at
Biariz, in the Gulf of Gascony; and the hippopotamus is no longer to be
seen on the banks of the Nile.

Gigantic bones having been occasionally discovered with the remains of men
and horses and fragments of armour, it has been imagined that in ancient
times armies were attended by terrific giants; but it is more than
probable that these large fragments of departed warriors belonged to
their war-elephants, which with their horses were not unfrequently
immolated on their master's tomb.

Skeletons of giants were considered by the ancients as curious as in the
present day; and those of Secondilla and Pusio were carefully preserved in
the gardens of Sallust.

Some naturalists have maintained that giants had more numerous vertebræ
than ordinary men; but this has not been confirmed by observation, nor has
it been found that the spinal bones of dwarfs are in smaller number.

Schreber, who has collected the description of the principal modern
giants, found few above seven feet and a half; although he mentions a
Swedish peasant of eight feet Swedish measure, and one of the guards of
the Duke of Brunswick eight feet six inches Dutch. Not so Hakewell, who
informs us, from the testimony of Nannez, that the Emperor of China had
archers and porters fifteen feet high. Howbeit, Ol. Magnus's account
surpasses his; for he tells us of a "_puella--in capite vulnerata, mortua
induta chlamyde purpurea, longitudinis cubitorum 50, latitudinis inter
humeros quatuor_!"


One can scarcely credit that at any period there could have existed men of
science and genius who believed that there were supernatural means of
curing disease, did we not even to the present day find imbeciles who
verily dread the malpractices of the devil and his vicarious agents.
Ancient writers divided their cures into _lawful_ and _unlawful_. The
former were obtained from divine aid; the latter from sorcerers, witches,
magicians, wizards, and cunning men, who treated all maladies by spells,
cabalistic words, charms, characters, images, amulets, ligatures,
philters, incantations, &c.; by which means, according to Cardan,
Artesius, Picatrix, and sundry wise men, the aforesaid sorcerers and
witches could prevent fire from burning, find out thieves and stolen
goods, show absent faces in a glass, make serpents lie still, stanch
blood, _salve_ gout, biting of mad dogs, toothache, _et omnia mundi
mala_. "Many doubt," says Nicholas Taurellus, "whether the devil can cure
such diseases he hath not made, and some flatly deny it; however, common
experience confirms, to our astonishment, that magicians can work such
feats, and that the devil, without impediment, can penetrate through all
the parts of our body, and cure such maladies by means to us unknown."
Some of these means were rather singular; for St. Austin mentions as one
of these processes, "_Agentes cum patientibus conjungunt, colligere semina
rerum eaque materiæ applicare_;" and learned divines, moreover inform us,
that to resist exorcisms these witches and magicians had St. Catherine's
wheel imprinted on the roof of their mouths, or on some other part.
Taurellus asserts, that to doubt it is to run into a sceptical extreme of
incredulity. Godelman affirms that Satan is an excellent physician;
Langius maintains that Jupiter Menecrates was a magician; and Marcellus
Donatus pays the same compliment to Solomon, who, he says, "cured all the
diseases of the mind by spells, charms, and drove away devils, and that
Eleazar did the same before Vespasian." Galen, in his book "_de
Medicamentis facilè purandis_," observes after a preparation, "_hæc enim
suffita, dæmonus abigunt_."

This fact being clearly ascertained, the next question was whether it was
lawful in a desperate case to crave the help of the evil one on the

  Flectere si nequeunt Superos, Acheronta movebunt.

Paracelsus rather impiously argues that we might, as it matters not, he
says, "whether it be God or the devil, angels or unclean spirits,
(_immundi spiritus_,) that cure him, so that he be eased. If a man fall in
a ditch, what matter is it whether a friend or an enemy help him out? If I
be troubled with such a malady, what care I whether the devil himself, or
any of his ministers, by God's permission, redeem me?"--and he therefore
concludes, that diseases brought on by _malefices_ can only be cured by
_incantations_. However, this doctrine was denounced as abominable by
Remigius, Bodinus, Godelmannus, Erastus, and various divines and
schoolmen; and Delrio plainly declares, "_mori præstat quàm superstitiosè
canari_." Therefore pontificial writers and sages recommend adjuration and
exorcism by "fire, suffumigations, lights, cutting the air with swords
(_gladiorum ictus_), sacred herbs, odours," &c., though some hungry devils
can only be cast out by fasting.

Witches and impostors, says Lord Bacon, have always held a competition
with physicians. Galen complains of this superstition, and observes that
patients placed more confidence in the oracles of Esculapius and their own
idle dreams than in the prescriptions of doctors. The introduction of
precious stones into medical practice owed its origin to a superstitious
belief that, from their beauty, splendour, and high value, they were the
natural receptacles for _good_ spirits. Mystery, in the dark ages, and,
alas! even now, increases the confidence in remedial means; reveal their
true nature, the charm is dissolved: "_Minus credunt quæ ad suam salutem
pertinent si intelligunt_," said Pliny. One cannot but wonder when we
behold men pre-eminent in deep learning and acute observation becoming
converts to such superstitious practices. Lord Bacon believed in spells
and amulets; and Sir Theodore Mayence, who was physician to three English
sovereigns, and supposed to have been Shakspeare's Dr. Caius, believed in
supernatural agency, and frequently prescribed the most disgusting and
absurd medicines, such as the heart of a mule ripped up alive, a portion
of the lungs of a man who had died a violent death, or the hand of a thief
who had been gibbeted on some particular day. Nauseous medicines have ever
been deemed the most efficacious, on the reasoning that as every thing
medicinal is nauseous, every thing that is nauseous must be medicinal. The
ancients firmly believed that blood can be stanched by charms; the
bleeding of Ulysses was stopped by this means; and Cato the Censor has
given us an incantation for setting dislocated bones. To this day charms
are supposed to arrest the flow of blood:

  Tom Pots was but a serving-man,
    But yet he was a doctor good,
  He bound his kerchief on the wound,
    And with some kind words he stanch'd the blood.

Sir Walter Scott says, in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel,"--

  She drew the splinter from the wound,
  And with a charm she stanch'd the blood.

The strength of imagination in effecting wonderful cures has been observed
in all ages; and Avicenna declares, "that he prefers confidence before
art, precepts, and all remedies whatsoever." Our learned Burton says,
"that this strong imagination or conceit is _Astrum Hominis_, and the
rudder of this our ship, which reason should steer, but overborne by
phantasie, cannot manage, and so suffers itself and the whole vessel of
ours to be overruled and often overturned."

Nothing could be more absurd than the notions regarding some of these
supposed cures: a ring made of the hinge of a coffin had the power of
relieving cramps; which were also mitigated by having a rusty old sword
hung up by the bedside. Nails driven in an oak-tree prevented the
toothache. A halter that had served in hanging a criminal was an
infallible remedy for a headache, when tied round the head; this affection
was equally cured by the moss growing on a human skull, dried and
pulverized, and taken as a cephalic snuff. A dead man's hand could dispel
tumours of the glands by stroking the parts nine times, but the hand of a
man who had been cut down from the gallows was the most efficacious. To
cure warts, one had nothing to do but to steal a piece of beef from the
butcher, with which the warts were to be rubbed; then inter it in any
filth, and as it rotted, the warts would wither and fall.

The chips of a gallows on which several persons had been hanged, when worn
in a bag round the neck, would cure the ague. A stone with a hole in it,
suspended at the head of the bed, would effectually stop the nightmare;
hence it was called a _hag-stone_, as it prevents the troublesome witches
from sitting upon the sleeper's stomach. The same amulet tied to the key
of a stable-door, deterred witches from riding horses over the country.

Rickety children were cured by being drawn through a cleft tree, which was
afterwards bound up, and as the split wood united, the child acquired
strength. Creeping through a perforated stone to cure various disorders
was a Druidical rite, still practised in the East. In the parish of Marden
there is a stone with a hole in it, fourteen inches in diameter, through
which children are drawn for the rickets; and, in the North, infants are
made to pass through a hole cut in a _groaning_ cheese the day of their

Second sight, which, as an hereditary faculty, was deemed a malady, was
cured in the Isle of Man, according to Mr. Aubrey's account, by baptizing
a child upon the first sight of its head. This ceremony exempts the
succeeding generation from the troublesome gift.

It is a melancholy reflection that, at various periods, impostors have
impiously called in Scriptural aid to promote their sordid or ambitious
views. Chiromancers have quoted the Bible in support of their doctrines
and adduced the following lines of Job,--"He sealeth up the hand of every
man, that all men may know his works:" while, in the like manner, the Holy
Inquisition of Spain and Portugal justified their atrocities on the score
of the parable of the marriage of the king's son, in the 22nd of St.

Unlawful cures, as they were called, being thus anathematized, lawful
remedies were resorted to, and the patient was first ordered to pray with
due devotion before he took his physic; or, as Burton observes, not one
without the other, but both together; for, as he adds, to pray alone, and
reject ordinary means, is to do like him in Æsop, that, when his cart was
stalled, lay flat on his back, and cried out "Help, Hercules!" However,
Hyperius maintains that no physicians can hope for success unless "with a
true faith they call upon God and teach their patients to do the like."
Comineus, when he addressed the Christian princes after the overthrow of
Charles of Burgundy, bade them "first pray with all submission and
penitency, confess their sins, and then take physic."

Another question of importance that led to much controversy was, whether
it were lawful to seek the aid of the saints; the learned Burton's remarks
on this controverted point are so curious that they are worth relating.
"They (the papists) have a proper saint for almost every peculiar
infirmity: for poisons, gout, agues, Petronella; St. Romanus, for such as
are possessed; St. Vitus for madmen, &c.; and as, of old, Pliny reckons up
gods for all diseases. All affections of the mind were heretofore
accounted gods: Love and Sorrow, Virtue, Honour, Liberty, Contumely,
Impudency, had their temples; Tempests, Seasons, _Crepitus Ventris_, _Dea
Vacuna_, _Dea Cloacina_. Varro reckons up thirty thousand gods; Lucian
makes Podagra, the gout, a goddess, and assigns her priests and ministers.
'Tis the same devil still, called heretofore, Apollo, Mars, Venus, &c.;
the same Jupiter, and those bad angels, are now worshipped and adored by
the name of St. Sebastian, St. Barbara, &c.; and our Lady succeeds Venus
in many offices; and God often winks at these impostures, because they
forsake his word, and betake themselves to the devil, as they do, that
seek after holy water, crosses," &c.

Amidst this violent denunciation against popery and devilment, evil
spirits and saints, it is somewhat singular to find a spirit of anomalous
perversity which justifies suicide to rid ourselves of disease and
suffering; and these very sanctimonious censors quote ancient and modern
authorities to sanction a practice which every Christian must condemn. Let
us pursue the disquisition of our learned bookworm Burton:--"Another doubt
is made by philosophers, whether it be lawful for a man in such extremity
of pain and grief to make away himself, and how those men that do so are
to be censured. The Platonists approve of it, that it is lawful in such
cases upon a necessity. Plotinus (_L. de Beatitud._) and Socrates himself
defend it (_in Plato's Phædon_): _If any man labour of an incurable
disease, he may despatch himself, if it be to his good_. Epictetus and
Seneca say, _Quamcunque veram esse viam ad libertatem_;--any way is
allowable that leads to liberty. _Let us give God thanks no man is
compelled to live against his will. Quid ad hominem claustra, carcer,
custodia? liberum ostium habet._ Death is always ready at hand: _Vides
illum precipitem locum, illud flumen?_ There is liberty at hand. _Effugia
cervitutis et doloris sunt_, as that Laconian lad cast himself headlong,
_Non serviam, aiebat puer_; to be freed of misery. Wherefore hath our
mother earth brought out poisons (saith Pliny) in so great a quantity, but
that men in distress might make away themselves? which kings of old had
ever in readiness, _ad incerta fortunæ venenum sub custode promptum_. Many
worthy men and women, _quorum memoria celebratur in ecclesiâ_, sayeth
Leminctius, killed themselves to save their chastity and honour, when Rome
was taken. Jerome vindicates the same, and Ambrose commendeth Pelagia for
so doing. Eusebius admired a Roman matron for the same fact, to save
herself from the lust of Maxentius the tyrant. Adelhelmus, the Abbot of
Malmesbury, calls them, _beatas virgines quæ sic, &c._ Sir Thomas More, in
his Utopia, commends voluntary death if one be _sibi aut aliis molestus;
especially if to live be a torment to him_, let him free himself with his
own hand from this tedious life, or from a prison, or suffer himself to be
freed by others." However, be it said in justice to our worthy Burton, he
condemns this practice as "a false and pagan position, founded in prophane
stoical paradoxes and wicked examples;" and although he denounces most
fulminating anathemas on papists, he concludes by saying, "we ought not to
be rash and rigorous in our censures, as some are; Charity will judge and
hope best; God be merciful unto us all!"

But why should we marvel at the credulity and superstition of our
forefathers, when we daily observe equal absurdities? Fanaticism and
bigotry will ever strive to speculate on human weakness, and endeavour to
surround with impenetrable mists every rebel to their power who gropes for
the shrine of reason and of truth. Johanna Southcote had her votaries, and
Prince Hohenlohe is still considered by many a pious person, as a
vicarious instrument of divine mercy. No miraculous recovery recorded in
the dark ages can surpass the tenebral absurdity of the following relation
of one of his cures:

Miss O'Connor was a nun in a convent near Chelmsford, and in December
1820, being about thirty years old, was suddenly attacked by a violent
pain in the right hand, which extended with much swelling and inflammation
up the arm. The whole limb became red, swollen, extremely painful, and
entirely useless. Every remedy, both topical and directed to the system,
was tried in vain for a year and a half. There was no suppuration, nor any
formation of pus; but the malady continued obdurate, and yielded to no
application. The resources of the flesh having manifestly failed, Mrs.
Gerard, the worthy superior, very properly betook herself to those of the
spirit. She made a request through a friend to Prince Hohenlohe to assist
the patient in this her extreme case; when the following precious
document, which it would be impious to translate into heretical English,
was received:

    "_Pour la Religeuse Novice d'Angleterre._

    "Le trois du mois de Mai, à huit heures, je dirai, conformément à
    votre demande, pour votre guérison, mes prières. Joignez-y à la même
    heure, après avoir confessé et communié, les votres, avec cette
    ferveur angélique et cette confiance plénière que nous devons à notre
    Rédempteur J. C.: excitez au fond de votre coeur les vertus divines
    d'un vrai repentir, d'un amour Chrétien, d'une croyance sans bornes
    d'être exaucé, et d'une résolution inébranlable de mener une vie
    exemplaire, afin de vous maintenir en état de grace. Agréez
    l'assurance de ma considération.


    "Bamberg, Mars 16, 1822."

It is to be regretted that this letter, which was no doubt a circular to
his proselytes, with necessary blanks to be filled up _pro re natâ_, as
the doctors have it, was not drawn out in better French. Howbeit, on the
appointed day, asserts Dr. Baddely (the lady's unsuccessful medical
attendant), Miss O'Connor went through the religious process prescribed by
her princely physician. Mass being said, Miss O. not finding the immediate
relief she expected from her faith, or faithfully expected, exclaimed
somewhat impatiently, not having the fear of Job before her eyes, "Thy
will be done, O Lord, since thou hast not thought me worthy of this cure;"
when behold! _immediately_ after she felt an extraordinary sensation
throughout the whole arm to the end of the fingers. The pain _instantly_
left her, the swelling gradually subsided, and Dr. B., who no doubt was
the pet physician of the nuns, declares that the hand shortly resumed its
natural size and shape.

Now, Miss O'Connor was most likely a young lady from Ireland, where this
miraculous cure was re-echoed in every chapel. The protestants were
naturally offended by a report which seemed to impugn the sanctity of the
reformed religion, and they thought it incumbent on them, for the welfare
of church and state, to get up a miracle of their own which would cast
Prince H., Nun O., and Dr. B. in the shade. The following statement was
therefore published and certified upon oath by sundry most respectable and
most worthy Orangemen:

"I pledge you the word and honour of an Orangeman that the following
facts, sworn to by all present, occurred yesterday evening. A party of
gentlemen dined with me, and after dinner a vase, containing some orange
lilies, was placed upon the table by my directions. We drank several
toasts; but on the glorious and immortal memory being given, an _unblown
lily_, which the party had remarked, _expanded its leaves and bloomed
before us_ in all its splendour!" How appropriate are the lines of Otway
when applied to the propagators of such absurdities, who dare to call upon
our faith to give credence to their impostures.

                  You want to lead
  My reason blindfold like a hamper'd lion
  Check'd of its noble vigour; then, when baited
  Down to obedient tameness, make it crouch
  And show strange tricks, which you call signs of faith:
  So silly souls are gull'd, and you get money.

A curious anecdote is related of Lord Chief Justice Holt. When a young
man, he happened, with some of his merry companions, to run up a score at
a country inn, which they were not able to pay. In this dilemma they
appealed to Holt, to get them out of the scrape. Our young lawyer had
observed that the inn-keeper's daughter looked very ill, and, passing
himself for a medical student, asked her father what ailed her, when he
was informed that she suffered from an ague. Holt immediately gathered
various plants, mixed them up with great ceremony, and after rolling them
up in parchment, scrawled upon the ball some cabalistic characters. The
amulet, thus prepared, he suspended round the neck of the young woman,
and, strange to say, the ague did not return. After this cure the doctor
offered to pay the bill, to which the grateful landlord would not consent,
allowing Holt and his party to leave the house.

Many years after, when on the bench, a woman was brought before him,
accused of witchcraft--the very last person tried upon such a charge. Her
only defence was, that she possessed a ball invariably efficacious in the
cure of agues. The charm was produced, handed to the judge, who recognised
the identical ball which he had prepared in his youthful frolics.

Not only did these victims of superstition firmly believe that evil
spirits had the power of inflicting disease, and afterwards salve the
mischief, but they were also invested with the privilege of killing and
subsequently restoring to life. The story related of the truly learned
Agrippa, who was falsely represented as a necromancer, is curious.

Agrippa had occasion one time to be absent for a few days from his
residence in Louvain. During his absence he intrusted his wife with the
key of his museum, but with an earnest injunction that no one on any
account should be allowed to enter it; Agrippa happened at that time to
have a boarder in his house, a young fellow of insatiable curiosity, who
constantly importuned his hostess, till at length he obtained from her the
forbidden key. The first thing that attracted his attention was a book of
spells and incantations. He spread the volume before him, and, thinking no
harm, began to read aloud. He had not long continued this occupation, when
a knock was heard at the door of the chamber. The youth took no notice,
but continued reading. Presently there followed a second and a louder
knock, which somewhat alarmed the reader. The space of a minute having
elapsed, and no answer been made, the door opened and a demon entered.
"For what purpose am I called?" said the unwelcome visitor in a stern
voice: "What is it you demand to have done?" The youth was seized with the
greatest alarm and struck speechless. The demon then rushed upon him,
seized him by the throat, and strangled him, indignant no doubt in having
been interrupted in some more interesting pursuit to no purpose.

At the expected time Agrippa came home, and to his great surprise found a
number of devils capering about, and playing strange antics on the roof of
his house. By his art he caused them to desist from their gambols, of
which he demanded the cause. The chief of them then related to him what he
had done, how he had been disturbed and insulted, and how he had thought
proper to revenge himself. Agrippa became much alarmed at the probable
consequences of this unfortunate adventure, and he ordered the demon,
without loss of time, to reanimate his victim, and walk about the streets
with him, that the public might behold him alive. The infernal spirit
reluctantly obeyed, and went forth with the student in the marketplace and
promenades. This excursion over, however, he maliciously allowed his
companion to fall down, when life once more flitted from his body. For a
time it was thought that the student had been killed by a sudden attack of
illness; but, presently, the marks of strangulation became evident, and
the truth came out. Agrippa was thus suddenly obliged to quit the town,
and seek refuge in a distant state.

It was further related of this supposed wizard, that he was always
accompanied by a familiar spirit in the shape of a black dog; and that
when he lay on his deathbed he was earnestly exhorted to repent of his
sins. Struck with remorse, he took hold of the dog, and removed from his
neck a collar studded with cabalistic nails, exclaiming, "Begone, wretched
animal, that has been the cause of my perdition!" and lo! the dog
immediately ran away, and, plunging into the river Soane, disappeared. It
is to be regretted that historians do not relate whether the water hissed
or not when the canine devil took his last leap.

It merits notice, that the mystic and medicinal celebrity of various
substances have to this hour survived the traditions of their
superstitious origin; coral, for instance, which was considered as
possessed of the power of keeping off evil spirits, and rendering effete
the malefices of the evil eye, was constantly worn as an amulet; and
Paracelsus informs us that it should be worn round the necks of infants,
as an admirable preservative against fits, sorcery, charms, and poisons.
We still find necklaces of this substance suspended by fond mothers and
nurses round the necks of infants. In the West Indies these chaplets are
worn by the negroes as a magic protection against Obiism, and they even
affirm that the colour of the coral is affected by the state of health of
the wearer, and becomes paler when he is ill.

The irrational belief in the mysterious powers of certain remedies went so
far in former days, that when they were applied to the weapon that had
inflicted an injury, their indirect sympathetic action was considered as
effectual as if they had been used to heal the wound. The sympathetic
powder of Sir Kenelm Digby, which was nothing else but pulverized green
vitriol, was eulogized in a discourse pronounced by its inventor, at
Montpellier, in 1658. Our James I. purchased this wonderful discovery from
Sir Kenelm, who pretended that he had obtained it from a Carmelite friar,
who had learned it in America and Persia. This superstitious practice is
alluded to by Walter Scott, in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel:"

  But she has ta'en the broken lance,
  And wash'd it from the clotted gore,
  And salved the splinter o'er and o'er.

Dryden has also illustrated this absurdity in his "Enchanted Island,"
where Ariel says,

  Anoint the sword which pierced him, with this
  Weapon-salve, and wrap it close from air
  Till I have time to visit it again.

Sir Kenelm's sympathetic powder was applied in the same manner; the weapon
being covered with ointment and dressed three times a day. But it was not
mentioned that at the same time the wound was to be brought together, and
bound up with clean linen bandages for seven days. This wonderful cure was
then simply the process of what surgeons call healing by first intention,
which means uniting the lips of the wound without suppuration. Dr. Paris
apprehends that this secret was suggested to the worthy knight by the
cures operated by the rust of the spear of Telephus, which, according to
Homer, healed the injuries it had occasioned; and this rust was most
probably verdigris.

To this day the Irish peasantry, and even many of the superior classes,
firmly believe in the malevolent and destructive effect of the evil eye,
when cast upon man or beast. Hence the absurd custom that prevails,
especially in the western provinces, of adding "God bless it," to any
expression of admiration; and if perchance a Sassenagh traveller exclaimed
"What a sweet child!" or, "What a fine cow!" without the adjunctive
benediction, he would be suspected of malefice, and the priest forthwith
summoned to save the devoted victim of sorcery. In Scotland dairy-maids
drive cattle with a switch of the mountain ash, or roan-tree, considered
as held sacred since the days of Druidism; and in some districts the sheep
and lambs are made to pass through a hoop of its wood on the first day of

The toad was also considered to be possessed of marvellous qualities for
the cure of various maladies, more especially the stone that was supposed
to be occasionally found in the reptile's head, and which was called
_Crapaudina_. Lupton, in his seventh book of "Notable Things," thus
instructs us how to obtain it. "You shall knowe whether the tode stone be
the ryght and perfect stone or not. Holde the stone before a tode, so that
he may see it; and if it be a ryght and true stone, the tode will leape
towarde it and make as though he would snatch it, he envies so much that
man should have this stone." This famous toadstone is simply one of the
fossil teeth of various fishes, and is chiefly formed of phosphate of
lime. Its high polish and convexity has often induced lapidaries to have
it set in rings and other jewels, to which marvellous powers were

Pulverized toads were not only employed in medicine with supposed
advantage, but were also considered a slow but certain poison. Solander
relates, that a Roman woman, desirous of poisoning her husband gave him
this substance; but instead of attaining her criminal desire, it cured him
of a dropsy that had long perplexed him. Boccaccio relates the story of
Pasquino and Simona, two young lovers, who, wandering in a garden,
plucked some sage-leaves, with which Pasquino rubbed his teeth and gums.
In a few minutes he fell ill and expired. Simona accused of being his
assassin, was brought before a magistrate, who ordered an immediate
investigation of the matter, when, on proceeding to the garden, Simona,
after relating the particulars of the case, took some leaves from the same
plant and used them in a similar manner. In a few minutes the lovers were
reunited in death; when it was discovered that a large toad was under the
root of the plant to which it had communicated its deadly venom.

Regarding unlawful cures, have we not seen vaccination, when first
introduced, condemned from the very pulpit as an impious interference in a
disease which seemed to have been assigned to mankind by the Creator as an
inevitable doom? Did not these desperate bigots even pronounce that we
were not warranted to seek in the brute creation a human remedy or
preservative? What is still more worthy of remark, is the coincidence of a
similar idea in India, where the greatest obstacle vaccination encountered
arose from a belief that the natural smallpox was a dispensation of a
malicious deity, called _Mah-ry-Umma_, or rather that the disease was an
incarnation of the goddess herself into the person who was affected by it:
the fear of irritating her, and of exposing themselves to her resentment,
necessarily rendered the natives averse to vaccination, until it was
impressed upon their easy belief, that _Mah-ry-Umma_ had altered her mind,
and chosen this new and milder mode of manifesting her visits to her

Could there ever have existed a more superstitious belief than that which
vested in the regal touch a healing power? Yet from Edward the Confessor
to the accession of the House of Hanover, it was generally thought in
these realms that our kings could cure scrofula with their anointed

Dr. Paris's truly philosophic remarks on this subject, in his valuable
work, entitled Pharmacologia, are worthy of quotation:--"Credulity,
although it is nearly allied to superstition, yet differs from it widely.
Credulity is an unbounded belief in what is possible, although destitute
of proof, and perhaps of probability; but superstition is a belief in what
is wholly repugnant to the laws of the physical and moral world. Credulity
is a far greater source of error than superstition; for the latter must be
always more limited in its influence, and can exist only, to any
considerable extent, in the most ignorant portions of society; whereas
the former diffuses itself through the minds of all classes, by which the
rank and dignity of science are degraded, its valuable labours confounded
with the vain pretensions of empiricism, and ignorance is enabled to claim
for itself the prescriptive right of delivering oracles, amidst all the
triumph of truth and the progress of philosophy. Credulity has been justly
defined _belief without reason_, while scepticism, its opposite, is
_reason without belief_, and the natural and invariable consequence of
credulity; for it may be observed that men who believe without reason are
succeeded by others whom no reasoning can convince."


Blumenbach has given us a most ingenious definition of this wonderful
function. The voice, properly speaking, is a sound formed by means of
expiration in the _larynx_, which is a most beautifully constructed organ,
fixed upon the top of the windpipe, like a capital upon a column. It is
composed of various cartilages, united in the form of a little box, and
supplied with numerous muscles, that, moving altogether or separately,
produce the variations of sound.

The part of the _larynx_ most concerned in producing the voice is the
_glottis_, or narrow opening of the windpipe, having the _epiglottis_
suspended over it like a valve. The air expired from the lungs strikes
upon the glottis, and thus becomes sonorous. The change that the glottis
undergoes in the modulation of the voice has been matter of much
controversy. Aristotle and Galen compared the glottis to a wind
instrument; Ferrein assimilated it to a chorded one. This latter
hypothesis was objected to, on the principle that a chord, to vibrate,
should not only be in a state of tension, but dryness; characters which
this organ does not possess, being constantly lubrified with mucus, and in
a state of greater or lesser relaxation. Fulgentius considers the human
voice to be composed of ten parts: the four first are the front teeth, so
useful for the appulse of the tongue in forming sounds, without which a
whistle would be produced instead of a voice; the fifth and sixth are the
lips, which he compares to cymbals striking against each other; the
seventh the tongue, which serves as a plectrum to articulate sounds; the
eighth is the palate, the concavity of which forms the belly of the
instrument; the ninth the throat, which performs the part of a flute; and
the tenth the lungs, which supply the place of bellows.

That every degree of action in the _glottis_ is due to the muscles of the
_larynx_ is proved by the experiment of tying or dividing the recurrent
nerves, when the voice is destroyed or weakened.

Speech is a peculiar modification of the voice adjusted to the formation
of the sounds of letters, by the expiration of the air through the
nostrils and mouth, and in a great measure by the assistance of the tongue
applied and struck against the neighbouring parts, the palate and front
teeth in particular, and by the diversified action of the lips. This is
Payne Knight's doctrine, in his analytical essay on the Greek alphabet,
and an illustration of the notions of Fulgentius.

Singing is compounded of speech and a musical modulation of the voice, a
prerogative peculiar to man even in his most savage state; for, despite
the assertions of the visionary Rousseau, who maintained that it is not
natural to our species, we find that even in the uncivilized regions of
Ethiopia, Greenland, and Kamtschatka, singing is a solace and a comfort.

The mechanism of speech and articulation is so intricate, that even the
division of letters and their distribution are attended with difficulties.
The following is the division of Amman in his work _Surdus Loquens_,
published at Amsterdam in 1629, and enlarged under the title of _Dissert.
de Loquela_, 1700, and is, perhaps, the most natural and intelligible.

He divides into, I. Vowels; II. Semi-vowels; III. Consonants.

I. The vowels are _simple_, _a_, _e_, _i_, _o_, _u_; and _mixed_ _ä_, _ö_,
_ü_: these are formed by the _voice_ only. The semi-vowels and consonants
are articulated by the mechanism of _speech_.

II. The semi-vowels are _nasal_, _m_, _n_, _ng_ (_n_ before _g_, which is
nearly related to it), that is, the labio-nasal _m_, the dente-nasal _n_,
and the gutture-nasal _ng_; or _oral_ (lingual), _r_, _l_, that is, _r_
with a vibration of the tongue, or _l_ with the tongue less moved.

III. The consonants he distinguishes into _sibilant_ (pronounced in
succession), _h_, _g_, _ch_, _s_, _sh_, _f_, _v_, _ph_, that is _h_,
formed in the throat, as it were a mere aspiration; _g_ and _ch_, true
consonants; _s_, _sh_, produced between the teeth; and _f_, _v_,
_ph_--formed by the application of the lower lip to the upper front
teeth--and _explosive_ (which are as it were suddenly exploded by an
expiration for a time suppressed, or interrupted), namely _k_, _q_, formed
in the throat; _d_, _t_, about the teeth; _p_, _b_, near the lips; and
_double_ (compound), _x_, _z_.[3]

It has been thought that the tongue was indispensable for the purposes of
speech, yet there are instances on record in which this has not been found
an invariable rule. Dr. Conyers Middleton mentions two cases of distinct
articulation with at least little or no tongue. In his exposure of the
_pious_ deceptions of weak and wicked Christians during the first
centuries of the Christian era, he notices a pretty tale of an Arian
prince cutting out the tongues of some of the orthodox party, and these
being as able to talk as before; nay, one of them, who had been dumb from
his birth, gained the faculty of speech by losing his tongue! We find
various accounts of persons who spoke more or less fluently without this
organ. Jussieu has inserted in the _Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences_,
1718, the case of a Portuguese girl, who instead of a tongue had merely a
little protuberance of about four lines in diameter in the middle of her
mouth, and endowed with the power of contraction and dilatation; she spoke
distinctly, but experienced difficulty in pronouncing _c_, _f_, _g_, _l_,
_n_, _r_, _s_, _t_, _x_, and _z_, when she was obliged to bend her neck
forward to upraise as it were the larynx. In this case, deglutition could
not be well performed, and she was obliged to use her finger to propel the
masticated food downwards.

Dr. Eliotson observes, that it is by no means improbable that the progress
of modern art may present us at some future period with mechanical
substitutes for orators and preachers; for, putting aside the magic heads
of Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon, Kratzenstein actually constructed an
instrument to produce the vowels. De Kempelin has published a full account
of his celebrated speaking machine, which perfectly imitated the human
voice. The French celebrated mechanician, the Abbé Mical, also made two
heads of brass, which pronounced very distinctly entire phrases; these
heads were colossal, and their voices powerful and sonorous. The French
government refusing, it is said, in 1782, to purchase these automata, the
unfortunate and too sensitive inventor, in a paroxysm of despair,
destroyed these masterpieces of scientific ingenuity.

It has been observed, that in various races the pronunciation seemed to
depend upon some peculiar and characteristic conformation; and Adelung
informs us that in the Hottentots, the bony palate is smaller, shorter,
and less arched than in the other races, and that the tongue, especially
in the Bosjesman tribe, is rounder, thicker, and shorter. Hence their
pronunciation is singular, and has been compared to the clucking of the
Turkey, or the harsh and broken noises produced by some other birds. They
combine their aspirated gutturals with hard consonants, without any
intervening vowels, in a manner that Europeans cannot imitate.

No doubt the differences of language are as numerous as the other
distinctions which characterize the several races of men. The various
degrees of natural capacity and of intellectual progress; the prevalence
of particular faculties; the nature of surrounding circumstances; the ease
or difficulty with which our different wants and desires are gratified,
will produce not only peculiar characters in the nature and construction
of language, but in its copiousness and development.

One of the most curious points in the subject of language, is the
continued existence in a large portion of Asia, very anciently civilized,
and considerably advanced, at least in the useful arts, of simple
monosyllabic languages, which are not in the slightest degree connected
with the peculiar organization of the Mongolian variety, to which these
people belong, and whose language is distinctly polysyllabic.

The attempts that have been made to trace the origin of languages to the
varieties of our species, or to the influence of climate, have hitherto
been fruitless, and the doctrines broached on the obscure subject refuted
by observation. Mr. Jefferson states that there are twenty radical
languages in America for one in Asia; more than twenty languages, he adds,
are still spoken in the kingdom of Mexico, most of which are at least as
different from one another as the Greek and the German, the French and the
Polish. The variety of idioms spoken by the people of the new continent,
and which without the least exaggeration may be stated at some hundreds,
offers a very striking phenomenon, particularly when we compare it to the
few languages spoken in Asia and in Europe. Vater also informs us, that in
Mexico, where the causes producing insulation of the several tribes
have been for a long time in a course of diminution, Clavigero
recognised thirty-five different languages. Some of these words are
rather of difficult pronunciation, and Humboldt tells us that
_Notlazomahuiztespixcatatzin_ is the term of respect with which they
addressed their priests. During the French revolution, a learned Jacobin
discovered that the early Peruvians adored a divinity who patronized the
_Sans-culottes_, of their day, and who was named _Cawaltze-quos_, i. e.
without breeches. Such barbarous words do not constitute that engaging
tongue that Shakspeare calls "_speaking holiday_," but rather confirms
Byron's ideas of the Russians' difficult expressions, which no man has
leisure to pronounce except on high-days and holidays.

Although brutes pronounce no articulate sounds, there is, no doubt but
they have a language perfectly intelligible to one another. Their manner
of expressing their different emotions is in some instances perfectly
distinct; and birds have most decidedly a peculiar language. The following
may be said to be the words of a nightingale's strain observed by
Bechstein, an ingenious ornithologist, and committed to paper several
times while he listened with deep attention to that sweet bird's
"complaining notes," that "tune our distresses and record our woes."

                Tiouou, tiouou, tiouou tiouou
                Shpe, tiou, tokoua
                Tio, tio, tio, tio.
                Kououtio, kououtio kououtio,
                Tskouo, tskouo, tskouo,
            Tsii, tsii, tsii, tsii, tsii, tsii, tsii, tsii tsii tsii,
                Kouoror tiou. Tskoua pipitskousisi
  Tso, tso, tso, tso, tso, tso, tso tso, tso, tso, tso, tso, tsirrhading!
                Tsisi si tosi si, si, si, si, si, si, si.
                Tsorre tsorre tsorre tsorrehi
            Tsatn, tsatn, tsatn tsatn tsatn tsatn tsatn tsi,
            Dlo, dlo, dlo dla, dlo dlo dlo dlo dlo
                Kouioo trrrrrrrrtzt
                Lu, lu, lu, ly ly ly li li li li
                Kouio didl li loulyli
                Ha guour, guour, koui kouio!
            Kouio, kououi kououi kououi koui, koui, koui, koui,
                Ghi ghi ghi
                Gholl, gholl, gholl gooll ghia hududoi
                Koui koui koui ha hia dia dillhi!
  Hets, hets, hets, hets, hets, hets, hets hets, hets, hets
                Hets, hets, hets, hets, hets
                Tourrho hostehoi
  Kouia, kooia, kouia, kouia, kouia kouia kouia kouiati!

A story is related of an irascible Irish piper of the name of _Molroy_,
who declared a war implacable against the feline race, as he swore that
they invariably pronounced his name in their nocturnal concerts. Gall and
various observers of animals have fully ascertained that the attention of
dogs is awakened by our conversation. He brought one of these intelligent
creatures with him from Vienna to Paris, which perfectly understood French
and German, of which he satisfied himself by repeating before it whole
sentences in both languages. A recent anecdote has been related of an old
ship-dog, that leaped overboard and swam to the shore on hearing the
captain exclaim, "Poor old Neptune! I fear we shall have to drown him!"
and such was the horror which that threat inspired, that he never
afterwards would approach the captain or any of the ship's company, to
whom he had previously been fondly attached. It must, however, be observed
that in the brute creation, as in ours (sometimes more brutal species),
peculiar attributes, that do not belong to the race, distinguish
individuals gifted with what in man we might call a superior intellect,
but which in these animals shows a superiority of what we term instinct.
Spurzheim relates an instance of a cow belonging to Mr. Dupont de Nemours,
which, amongst the whole kindred herd, was the only one that could open
the gate leading to their pastures; and her anxious comrades, when
arriving at the wished-for spot, invariably lowed for their conductor. It
is also related of a hound, who, unable to obtain a seat near the fire
without the risk of quarrelling with the dozing occupants that crowded the
hearth, was wont to run out into the court-yard barking an alarum that
brought away his rivals in comfort, when he quietly reentered the parlour,
and selected an eligible stretching-place. This animal displayed as much
ingenuity as the traveller who, according to the well-known story, ordered
oysters for his horse for the purpose of clearing the fireside.


This rapturous excitement is not unfrequently the province of the
physician. Fortunately perhaps for the patient, it is an incurable malady,
illustrating the lines of Dryden,

  There is a pleasure, sure, in being mad,
  Which none but madmen know.

If we admit this state of ecstasy to be a mental aberration, it is surely
of an enviable nature, since it elevates the soul to a beatitude which is
rarely the lot of man.

No definition of this state can equal that given by St. Theresa of her own
feelings. By prayer she had attained what she calls a "celestial
quietude,--a state of union, rapture, and ecstasy." "I experienced," she
continues, "a sort of sleep of all the faculties of the soul--intellect,
memory, and volition; during which, though they were but slumbering, they
had no conception of their mode of operation. It was a voluptuous
sensation, such as one might experience when expiring in raptures in the
bosom of our God. The soul is unconscious of its actions; she (the soul)
knows not if she speaks or if she remains silent, if she laughs or if she
cries. It is, in short, a blessed extravagance, a celestial madness, in
which she attains in the knowledge of true wisdom, an inconceivable
consolation. She is on the point of merging into a state of languor;
breathless, exhausted, the slightest motion, even of the hands, is
unutterably difficult. The eyes are closed by a spontaneous movement; or,
if they remain open, the power of vision has fled. In vain they endeavour
to read: they can distinguish letters, but are unable to class them into
words. Speak to a person in this absorbed condition, no answer will be
obtained; although endeavouring to speak, utterance is impossible.
Deprived of all external faculties, those of the soul are increased, to
enjoy glorious raptures when conversing with the Deity and surrounding
angels." These conversations the blessed St. Theresa relates; and she
further states, that after having remained about an hour in this joyous
trance, she recovered her usual senses, and found her eyes streaming in
tears, as though they were weeping for the loss she had experienced in
being restored to earthly relations.

Now, with all due deference to St. Theresa, this state was most probably a
hysteric condition. Zimmerman relates two cases somewhat of a similar
kind. Madame M. experienced effusions of divine love of a peculiar
nature. She first fell into a state of ecstasy, motionless and insensible,
during which, she affirms, she felt this love penetrating her whole being,
while a new life seemed to thrill through every fibre. Suddenly she
started up, and seizing one of her companions, exclaimed, "Come, haste
with me to follow and call Love, for I cannot sufficiently call upon his
name!"--A French young lady was the second instance of this affection. She
also frequently lost the power of speech and all external senses, animated
with a love divine, spending whole nights in ecstatic bliss, and
rapturously embraced by her mystic lover. It is difficult, perhaps, to
separate this amorous feeling from physical temperament; and the following
remarks of Virey on the subject of St. Theresa are most judicious:--"She
possessed an ardent and sensitive disposition, transported, no doubt, by
terrestrial affection, which she strove to exchange for a more exalted
ardour for the Deity; for devotion and love are more or less of a similar
character. Theresa was not fired by that adoration which is exclusively
due to the infinite and invisible Intelligence which rules the universe;
but she fancied a sensible, an anthropomorphous divinity; so much so, that
she not unfrequently reproached herself with bitterness that these
raptures were not sufficiently unconnected with corporeal pleasures and
voluptuous feelings."

St. Theresa was not the only beatified enthusiast who suspected that the
evil spirit occasionally interfered in those ecstatic visions. St. Thomas
Aquinas divides ecstasies into three classes;--the first arising from
divine power, and enjoyed by the prophets, St. Paul, and various other
saints. The second was the work of the devil, who bound down all external
senses, suspended their action, and reduced the body to the condition of a
corpse: such were the raptures in which magicians and sorcerers were
frequently entranced, during which, according to Tertullian and other
writers, the soul quitted the body to wander about the world, inquire into
all its occurrences, and then returned with the intelligence it had
obtained to its former abode. The third rapturous category of St. Thomas
he simply attributes to physical causes, constituting mental alienation.

May not all these ecstatic raptures be considered as belonging to this
third class? It has been observed that women, hysteric ones in particular,
were the most subject to this supposed inspired affection; and amongst men
it has also been remarked, that the enraptured individual was in general
nervous, debilitated, and bald; and it is well known that the fall of the
hair is frequently the result of moral and physical weakness, brought on
by long studies, contemplation, grief, and illness, all of which may
occasion mental aberration; for what other denomination can be given to
the ecstatic state of the Monks of Mount Athos, who pretended or fancied
that they experienced celestial joys when gazing on their umbilical
region, in converse with the Deity? Hence were they called
_Omphalopsychians_, whose notions in the matter are thus described by
Allatius: "Elevate thy spirit above earthly concerns, press thy beard upon
thy breast, turn thine eyes and all thy thoughts upon the middle of thine
abdomen, hold thy breath, seek in thy bowels the abode of thy heart--then
wilt thou find it unalloyed with dense and tenebral mists; persevere in
this contemplation for days and nights, and thou shalt know uninterrupted
joys, when thy spirit shall have found out thy heart and has illumined

Bernier relates an act of supposed devotion amongst the Fakirs nearly as
absurd, when, to seek the blessings of a new light, they rivet their eyes
in silent contemplation upon the ceiling; then gradually looking down,
they fix both eyes gazing, or rather squinting, at the tip of their nose,
until the aforesaid light beameth on them.

St. Augustin mentions a priest who could at will fall into one of these
ecstasies, during which his external senses were so totally suppressed
that he did not experience the pangs of the torture. Cardanus affirms that
he was possessed of the same faculty. "_Quoties volo_," he says, "_extra
sensum quasi in exstasim transeo--sentio dùm eam ineo, ac (ut veriùs
dicam) facio, juxta cor quandam separationem, quasi anima abscederet,
totique corpori res hæc communicatur, quasi ostiolum quoddam aperiretur.
Et initium hujus est à capite, maximè cerebello, diffunditurque per totam
dorsi spinam, vi magnâ continetur; hocque solùm sentio, quad sum extra
meipsum magnâque quâdam vi paululum me contineo._"

This state of mind is usually succeeded by contemplation, which has justly
been considered one of the attributes of Genius. This contemplation,
however, may be applied to positive relation, or to the workings of
fiction. In the latter case it becomes to a certain degree mental, and
beyond the control or the influence of our reason, although we cannot
regulate the rationality of our mental pursuits by any given or
acknowledged standard. The pseudo-philosopher, who searches for the
_elixir vitæ_ or the power of transmuting metals, and the judicial
astrologer, are in the eyes of society madmen: yet, do they reason on
certain rational principles, and in many respects may be considered wise;
one might figuratively say, that here the mind must have taken flight
beyond its natural limits, if we can limit thought. In the wild wanderings
of Theosophy man has fancied that by abstracting himself from the world,
he might place himself in relation with the Divinity, and has so forcibly
indulged the flattering illusion, that he actually believes that he is in
converse with his Creator or his angels. Unquestionably this is a state of
mania, yet is it founded upon a systematic train of ideas, that, strictly
speaking, does not partake of mental aberration, but rather of enthusiasm.
Although an indulgence in this may terminate in mania, still there is
something delightful in these fond aberrations. A new world--a new
condition is evoked--we are freed from the trammels of society and its
prejudices--and perhaps encompassed by misery we burst from its shackles
into another orb of our own creation, when the eyes closed in a vision of
bliss--a meridian sunbeam, through the darkness of night. If the slumber
of the visionary ushered in death, his destiny might be enviable--he had
already quitted the world, seeking the presence of his God--his soul had
already soared from its earthly tenement.

There is no doubt that such contemplation may lead us to a better
knowledge of the Supreme Being, whose image and attributes have been
distorted by ignorance and superstition. It has been truly said, that
until the light of Christianity shone upon mankind, God was unknown. He
had been represented as wrathful and revengeful--implacable in his
anger--insatiable in his thirst for blood--when he was revealed to us
upon the earth, gentle, forgiving, loving, humble, and charitable. The
type of all excellence--and delivering doctrines so pure, so convincing,
as to entitle him to the name of _Saviour_, even were his godhead
doubted--for who could question the salvation of those who followed his
laws. Until ambition swayed the church and polluted the altar with blood
and rapine--how happy, how blessed were these followers--even in the midst
of persecution and in agonies--pardoning their barbarous murderers and
praying for their conversion.

Unfortunately according to the temperament of individuals their ecstasy
has frequently led to an enthusiasm which knew no bounds, and induced the
illuminated visionary to consider all men who did not coincide in his
opinions the enemies of Divinity--hence arose fanaticism and
persecution--yet did these murderous madmen conceive that they were
wielding their hateful sword in the cause of an offended God; and,
although we read of their excesses and cruelty with horror, they were not
bad men, and many of them imagined that they were fulfilling a heavenly
mission. I have known many worthy and amiable ecclesiastics in Spain and
in Portugal who advocated the inquisition as a useful institution,
although they readily admitted that it had too frequently been rendered
instrumental to ambition and political intrigues.

This state of mental exaltation is not unfrequently within the province of
a physician's care. The treatment like that of all moral affections is a
task of great difficulty. Perhaps the best curative means to be adopted is
occupation of the body in active pursuits. St. Augustine was so convinced
of this necessity of occupation to prevent ecstatic habits, that the monks
of the Thebaid cultivated their ground with such industry, that they
freighted several vessels with their produce. Priest has observed in his
extensive practice in insanity that he never met with an insane
naturalist. Travelling is also to be enjoined. Marriage has also been
advised, although it is to be feared that the little charms men of this
description may have to suit a woman's fancy, might lead to contemplation
of a nature widely different from beatitude. The Jewish Rabbi tell us,
that as soon as Moses became contemplative and prophetic, his wife
Marjarin left him. It is certain that enthusiasm produces a concentration
of mind prejudicial to all other functions.[5]

There is no doubt that melancholy or intense cogitation may bring on this
morbid condition. Zimmerman relates that the mathematician Viote was
sometimes so wrapped up in calculation, that he was known to remain three
days and three nights without sleep or food: and Mendelsohn the
philosopher, who was called the Plato of Germany, fell into a swoon the
moment philosophy was talked of; and he was therefore ordered by his
doctor not to think. Being asked one day what he contrived to do when not
allowed thought, he replied, "Why, I go to the window and count the tiles
on the roof of the opposite house."

This morbid condition of our intellectual faculties has been admirably
described by Johnson, in his Rasselas. "To indulge the power of fiction,
and send imagination out upon the wing, is often the sport of those who
delight too much in silent speculation. He who has nothing external that
can divert him, must find pleasure in his own thoughts, and must conceive
himself what he is not; for who is pleased with what he is? He then
expatiates in boundless futurity, and culls from all imaginary conditions
that which for the present moment he would most desire; amuses his desires
with impossible enjoyments, and confers upon his pride unattainable
dominion. The mind dances from scene to scene, unites all pleasures, in
all combinations, and riots in delights which nature and fortune, with all
their bounty cannot bestow. In time, some particular train of ideas fixes
the attention: all other intellectual gratifications are rejected; the
mind, in weariness or leisure, returns constantly to the favourite
conception, and feasts on the luscious falsehood whenever she is offended
with the bitterness of truth. By degrees the reign of fancy is confirmed;
she grows first imperious, and in time despotic. Then fictions begin to
operate as realities, false opinions fasten upon the mind, and life passes
in dreams of raptures or of anguish."

The celebrated physician Boerhaave was once engaged in so profound a
meditation that he did not close his eyes for six weeks. Any fixity of
idea may be considered as a monomania. Pascal, being thrown down on a
bridge, fancied ever after that he was standing on the brink of a terrific
precipice, which appeared to him an abyss ever ready to ingulf him. So
immutable was this dread, that when his friends conversed with him they
were obliged to conceal this ideal peril with a chair, on which they
seated themselves, to tranquillize his perturbed mind. This is an
instance of a painful fixity of thought, the result of which is
melancholic mania; whereas ecstatic exultation is the enjoyment of a
delicious sensation unknown in our habitual earthly enjoyments, and
beautifully expressed by Shakspeare, when Pericles thus addresses

  O Helicanus! strike me, honoured sir;
  Give me a gash,--put me to present pain,
  Lest this great sea of joy, rushing upon me,
  O'erbear the shores of my mortality,
  And drown me with their sweetness.

Archimides was heedless of the slaughter around him. Father Castel, the
inventor of the ocular harpsichord, spent an entire night in one position,
ruminating on a thought that struck him as he was retiring to rest. And it
is related of an arduous student, that he was reflecting so deeply on some
interesting and puzzling subject, that he did not perceive that his feet
were burnt by the fire near which he was seated.


The most approved classification of mankind is that of Blumenbach. He
divides them into five varieties: 1. The Caucasian; 2. Mongolian; 3.
Ethiopian; 4. American; and 5. Malay: and the following are the
characteristics of each.


The skin white; the cheeks rosy--almost a peculiarity of this variety; the
hair of a nut-brown, running on the one hand to yellow, on the other into
black, soft, long, and undulating; the head symmetrical, rather globular;
the forehead moderately expanded; the cheek-bones narrow, not prominent;
the alveolar edge round, the front teeth of each jaw placed
perpendicularly. The face oval and pretty straight; its features
moderately distinct; the nose narrow and slightly aquiline, the bridge of
it rather prominent; the mouth small; the lips, especially the lower,
gently turned out; the chin full and round. This variety comprehends all
Europeans, except the Laplander and the rest of the Finnish race; the
Western Asiatics as far as the Obi, the Caspian, and the Ganges; and the
people of the North of Africa.


Skin of an olive colour; the hair black, stiff, straight, and sparing. The
head almost square, the cheek-bones prominent outwards; the superciliary
arches scarcely perceptible; the osseous nostrils narrow; the alveolar
edge arched obtusely forward; the chin somewhat projecting. The face broad
and flattened, and its parts consequently less distinct; the space between
the eyebrows very broad as well as flat, the cheeks not only projecting
outward, but nearly globular; the aperture of the eyelids narrow and
linear; the nose small and flat.

This comprehends the remaining Asiatics, except the Malays of the
extremity of the Transgangetic Peninsula, the Finnish races of the North
of Europe, Laplanders, &c., and the Esquimaux, diffused over the most
northern parts of America, from Behring's Strait to the farthest habitable
point of Greenland.


Skin black; the hair black and crisp. Head narrow, compressed laterally;
forehead arched; the cheek-bones projecting; the osseous nostrils large,
the jaws lengthened forward; the alveolar edge narrow, elongated, more
elliptical; the upper front teeth obliquely prominent, the lower jaw large
and strong; the skull thick and heavy; the face narrow, and projecting at
its lower part; the eyes prominent; the nose thick and confused with the
projecting cheeks; the lips, especially the upper, thick; the chin
somewhat receding; the legs in many instances bowed.

This comprehends the inhabitants of Africa, with the exception of the
Caucasian variety which inhabits the northern parts.


Skin of a copper colour; hair black, stiff, straight, and sparing.
Forehead short; cheek-bones broad, but more arched and rounded than in the
Mongolian variety; the orbits generally deep; the forehead and vertex
frequently deformed by art; cranium usually light. The face broad, with
prominent cheeks, not flattened, but with every part distinctly marked if
viewed in profile; the eyes deep; the nose rather flat, but still

This comprehends all the American, excepting the Esquimaux.


Skin tawny; hair black, soft, curled, thick, and abundant; head rather
narrow; forehead slightly arched; cheek-bones not prominent, upper jaw
rather projecting. Face prominent at its lower part; the features viewed
in profile more distinct; the nose full, broad, bottled at its point;
mouth large.

This comprehends the inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean, of the Marian,
Philippine, Molucca, and Sunda isles, and of the Peninsula of Malacca.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Caucasian variety derives its name from _Mount Caucasus_, where we
meet with a beautiful race--the Georgians; and because, so far as the
imperfect light of history and tradition can guide us, the original abode
of the species appears to have been in that quarter. In this class are
included all the ancient and modern Europeans; the Assyrians, Medes,
Chaldeans, Sarmatians, Scythians, and Parthians; the Philistines,
Phoenicians, Jews; the Turks, Persians, Arabians, and Hindoos of high
caste. Blumenbach is inclined to believe that the primitive human race
belonged to this variety. In support of this opinion it may be stated,
that the part of Asia which seems to have been the cradle of the race has
always been, and still is, inhabited by tribes of this formation; and the
inhabitants of Europe in great part may be traced back for their origin to
the West of Asia.

Are all these various tribes, brethren descended from one stock? or must
we trace them to more than one? The physiologists who have ventured to
express the latter opinion have been stigmatized by intolerance and blind
bigotry as atheists and unbelievers; yet this question belongs to the
domain of the naturalist, and the philosopher has an unqualified right to
moot it without incurring the heinous charge of infidelity. To form an
opinion on this difficult subject, it will be necessary, as Lawrence
justly observes, to ascertain carefully all the differences that exist
between the various races of men; to compare them with the diversities
observed among animals; to apply to them all the light which human and
comparative physiology can supply, and to draw our inferences concerning
their nature and causes from all the direct information and all the
analogies which these considerations may unfold. "It is quite clear,"
continues the same ingenious writer, "that the Mosaic account makes all
the inhabitants of the world descended from _Adam_ and _Eve_. The entire,
or even the partial inspiration of the various writings comprehended in
the Old Testament, has been and is doubted by many persons, including
learned divines and distinguished Oriental and Biblical scholars. The
account of the creation, and subsequent events, has the allegorical
figurative character common to Eastern compositions, and it is
distinguished amongst the cosmogonies by a simple grandeur and natural
sublimity, as the rest of these writings are by appropriate beauties in
their respective parts. The representation of all the animals being
brought before Adam in the first instance, and subsequently of their all
being collected in the ark, if we are to understand them as applied to the
living inhabitants of the whole world, is zoologically impossible. How
could the polar bear have traversed the torrid zone? If we are to believe
that the original creation comprehended only a male and female of each
species, or that one pair only was saved from an universal deluge, the
difficulties are increased; the carnivorous animals must have perished
with hunger, or destroyed most of the other species." On this obscure
subject Adelung has expressed himself with much ingenuity: "Asia has been
at all times regarded as the country where the human race had its
beginning, and from which its increase was spread over the rest of the
globe. Tracing the people up to tribes, and the tribes to families, we are
conducted at last, if not by history, at least by the tradition of all old
people, to a single pair, from which tribes and nations have been
successively produced. What was the first family, and the first people
descended from it?--where was it settled?--and how was it extended so as
to fill the four large divisions of the globe? It is a question of fact,
and must be answered by History. But History is silent: her first books
have been destroyed by time; and the few lines preserved by _Moses_ are
rather calculated to excite than to satisfy our curiosity.

"We must fancy to ourselves this first tribe endowed with all human
faculties, but not possessing all knowledge and experience, the subsequent
acquisition of which is left to the natural operation of time and
circumstances. As Nature would not unnecessarily expose her first-born and
inexperienced son to conflicts and dangers, the place of his early abode
would be so selected that all his wants could be easily satisfied, and
every thing essential to his existence be readily procured. He would be
placed, in short, in a garden of paradise. Such a country is found in
central Asia, between the 30th and 50th degrees of north latitude, and the
90th and 110th of east longitude (from Ferro); a spot which in respect to
its height, can only be compared to the lofty plains of Quito in South
America. Here, too, all the animals are found wild, which man has tamed
for his use, and carried with him over the whole earth."

This ingenious historical investigation points out the east as the
earliest and original seat of our species, the source of our domesticated
animals and our principal vegetable food; but it by no means decides
whether the globe was peopled by one or several original stocks.

The startling nature of this question on the first view of the subject
must induce us to consider the circumstance of these five distinct
varieties arising from one stock as miraculous; but when we compare them
with the corresponding difference in animals, we can easily come to the
conclusion that the various races of human beings are only to be regarded
as varieties of a single species, without supposing the intervention of
any supernatural agency.

The sceptic Voltaire, who evinced more wit than learning in his endeavours
to invalidate Scriptural tradition by ridicule, thus expresses himself:
"Il n'est permis qu'à un aveugle de douter que les blancs, les négres, les
albinos, les Hottentots, les Lapons, les Chinois, les Américains, soient
des races entièrement différentes;" but had this philosopher been better
versed in zoology and physiology, he would not have made so groundless an
assertion. "Analogical and direct facts," says Dr. Elliotson, "lead to the
conclusion that none of the differences among mankind are so great as to
require the belief of their originality." A contrary opinion, however,
should not be stigmatized by bigotry, for Locke has justly observed that
only matters above human reason are the proper subjects of revelation; and
Bacon has also maintained that religious and philosophical inquiries
should be kept separate, and not pompously united. Dr. Bostock, than whom
no man could be less sceptical, plainly admits that we do not find that
the writer of the book of Genesis lays claim to any supernatural source of
information with respect to natural phenomena, while the whole tenour of
his work seems to show that on such topics he adopted the opinions which
were current among his contemporaries.

The causes of the difference of our species have been the subject of as
great a discrepance in opinion. Most of the Greek and Roman Historians
have attributed it to the influence of climate; and amongst the moderns,
Montaigne, Montesquieu, Buffon, and Zimmerman, have considered the
modification of the individual and the degeneration of the offspring as
the result of this external agency. Lord Kaimes, Hume, and many other
philosophers, have entertained a contrary opinion. No doubt, the influence
of climate may materially affect colour, stature, hair, features, and even
the moral and intellectual character; but it must be considered as
inadequate to act upon conformation. The prevalence of light colours in
the animals of polar regions is well known: the arctic fox, the white
bear, the snow-bunting, are striking instances of this peculiarity; but
these circumstances are purely superficial. The skulls of these
individuals are similar to those of the Europeans; nay, it is well known
that light races are found among dark nations, and many protected parts of
the body are blacker than those which are exposed. Buchanan tells us, that
the Jews in Cochin are divided into white and black classes, though born
under the same parallel; the white Jews having been known there for
upwards of one thousand seven hundred years. Dr. Shaw and Bruce describe a
race of fair people, near Mount Aurasius in Africa, with red hair and blue
eyes, and who are, according to tradition, descended from the Vandals. We
find the red Peruvian, the brown Malay, and the white Abyssinian in the
very zones peopled by jet black races. This influence of temperature upon
colour frequently varies according to the seasons. Pallas observed that
even in domestic animals, such as the horse and cow, the coat is of a
lighter colour in winter. The Siberian roe, red in summer, is white in the
winter; the fur of the sable and the martin is much deeper in the warm
months; and the squirrel and mustela nivalis, which become white in
Siberia and Russia, do not change their hue in Germany. The winter coat,
it has been observed by naturalists, is found far advanced in the
preparatory autumn. This bounteous provision of nature seems to have been
extended to the vegetable kingdom and it has been observed that the
pellicle of onions is much thicker on the approach of a severe winter than
on that of a more temperate season. But if further proof were necessary to
impugn this doctrine respecting climate, we may adduce the fact of a woman
having borne twins of different complexions, a white and a black. With all
due respect to the much-lamented Bishop Heber, we must receive with some
degree of hesitation his assertion that the Persian, Greek, Tartar, and
Arabian inhabitants of India, assume, in a few generations, without any
intercourse with the Hindoos, a deep blue tint, little lighter than that
of a negro; and that the Portuguese, during three hundred years' residence
in that climate, have assumed the blackness of a Kaffer. The same learned
prelate is of opinion that our European complexion was not primitive, but
rather that of an Indian; an intermediate tint is perhaps the most
agreeable to the eye and instinct of the majority of the human race. Dr.
Heber, perhaps, had not seen, in various Roman catholic treasures,
portraits of the Virgin Mary, painted, according to tradition, by St.
Luke, and in which she is represented as a negress.

That solar heat produces blackness of the integuments is an ancient
opinion, and is illustrated by Pliny, who tells us, "Æthiopes vicini
sideris vapore torreri, adustisque similes gigni, barba et capillo
vibrato, non est dubium." Buffon asserts that "climate may be regarded as
the chief cause of the different colours of man;" and Smith is of opinion
"that from the pole to the equator we observe a gradation in the
complexion nearly in proportion to the latitude of the country."

Blumenbach, under the same impression, endeavours to account for this
black tinge by a chemical illustration somewhat curious. He states that
the proximate cause of the dark colour is an abundance of carbon secreted
by the skin with hydrogen, precipitated and fixed by the contact of the
atmospheric oxygen. Our creoles, and the British inhabitants of India, may
esteem themselves particularly fortunate in not being subject to this
chemical operation!

On the other hand, it is well known that a black state of the skin has
been produced in white races under peculiar circumstances; and Le Cat and
Camper mention cases of women who turned dark during their pregnancy. It
would be idle to dwell further on the hypothetic illustrations regarding
this supposed operation of climate, which the observation of every
unprejudiced traveller can impugn. Yet the following remarks on the
subject by an American divine, the Rev. J. S. Smith are worthy of notice:

"In tracing the globe from the pole to the equator we observe a gradation
in the complexion nearly in proportion to the latitude of the country,
immediately below the arctic circle a high and sanguine colour prevails.
From this you descend to the mixture of red and white. Afterwards comes
the brown, the blue, the tawny, and at length the black as you proceed to
the line. The same distance from the sun, however, does not in any degree
indicate the same temperature of climate. Some secondary causes must be
taken into consideration, in connecting and limiting its influence. The
elevation of the land, its vicinity to the sea, the nature of the soil,
the state of cultivation, the course of the winds, and many other
circumstances enter into this view. Elevated and mountainous countries are
cool in proportion to their altitude above the level of the sea,
increasing to the ocean, just in opposite effects, in northern and
southern latitudes; for the ocean being of a more equal temperature than
the land, in one case corrects the cold, and in the other moderates the
heat. Ranges of mountains, such as the Apennines in Italy, and Taurus,
Caucasen, and Iman, in Asia, by interrupting the course of cold winds,
render the quite dry country below them warmer, and the countries above
them colder, than is equivalent to the proportionate difference of
latitude. The frigid zone, in Asia, is much wider than it is in Europe;
and that continent hardly knows a temperate zone."

Climate also receives some difference from the nature of the soil, and
some from the degree of cultivation; sand is susceptible of greater heat
than clay, and an uncultivated region shaded with forests and covered with
undrained marshes, is more frigid in northern and more temperate in
southern latitudes, than a country laid open to the direct and constant
action of the sun. History informs us that when Germany and Scythia were
bound in forests, the Romans often transported their armies across the
frozen Danube; but since the civilization of those barbarous regions, the
Danube rarely freezes.

Migration to other countries has also been adduced as one of the causes of
variety in mankind; but the permanency of the characteristic distinctions
of any race militates against this supposition. The physical character of
the Celts, who peopled the west of Europe at an early period, is still
observable in the Spaniard, most of the French, the native Welsh, the
Manks, and the Scotch Highlander; whereas the German race, who occupied
the more northern and eastern settlements, are still distinguished by
their transparent skin, rosy complexion, flaxen hair, and blue eyes; and
in Ireland, the race of the Danes and the Milesians can to this day be
recognised in their respective characters. Shaw and Bruce traced the
descendants of the Vandals who passed from Spain into Africa in the fifth
century; and, after a lapse of thirteen centuries, Bruce says that they
are "fair like the English, their hair red, and their eyes blue." Negroes
have been introduced into the New World for upwards of three centuries,
where, despite of a new clime and different habits, they still retain the
character of their race; and the Jews who have not intermarried out of
their nation, have preserved their features for nineteen centuries.

Not only do we observe the peculiarities of physical conformation
resisting the destructive or degenerating hand of time, but certain
imperfections in their faculties have been equally permanent in certain
tribes. It is a curious fact that the Mamelukes, who have resided in Egypt
for upwards of five hundred and fifty years, have never perpetuated their
subsisting issue. Volney observed, that there does not exist one single
family of them in the second generation; all their children perishing in
the first or second descent. The same observation applies to the Turks,
who can only secure the continuance of their families by marrying native
women, an union which the Mamelukes disdained. This singularity, remarked
by Volney, has been since confirmed by late travellers.

It will be found that the progress of domestication, the natural result of
civilized improvement, tends more materially to operate a wonderful change
in the animal conformation, than any other supposed agency. The head of
the domestic pig differs as much from that of the wild one as the Negro's
from the Caucasian's. At Padua, it has been observed that fowls have a
cranium perforated by numerous holes, and hollowed out like a shell. In
some countries, nay districts, cattle and sheep have or have not horns;
and in other instances sheep have so many of them as to have acquired the
epithet of _polycerateous_. Wild animals continuing to inhabit the place
that bore them, undergo little or no change, and their fossil remains and
skeletons are similar to the present species; but nothing can form a
stronger contrast to this specific uniformity than the numerous varieties
to be found in those races that have been crossed in breed and
domesticated by man. We could scarcely imagine that our sheep owe their
origin to the mouflon or argali, (_ovis ammon_,) an animal large in size,
fleet, and fierce. The sheep of Senegal and India are those that have
undergone the least degradation; while those of Barbary, Egypt, Arabia,
and Persia, have experienced greater degeneration. We daily see dogs
degenerate before our eyes, and it has not yet been satisfactorily
ascertained whether they arise from one or several species. Cuvier, in his
diligent researches, has concluded that our oxen do not originate in the
urus or bison of the ancients formerly found in various parts of Europe,
and still met with in the forests of Lithuania, and on the Carpathian and
Caucasian chains; but he is of opinion, from the examination of fossil
remains, that, like the camel and the dromedary, the species has been
destroyed by civilization: the causes of these changes do not appear to
operate by altering the parents but disposing them to produce offsprings
more or less dissimilar in colour, form, and disposition.

Dr. Prichard observes, that the negro slaves of the third and fourth
generation differ materially from the natives of Africa.

In opposition to this doctrine, which admits this wonderful degeneration
under the plastic influence of domestication, it has been shown that, as
far as we know, the lapse of ages has not produced any change in the
generality of animals. The zoological descriptions given by Aristotle
twenty-two centuries ago apply distinctly to the same species of the
present day, and every work of art in which these animals are represented
corroborates the fact. Geoffroy de St. Hilaire brought numerous mummies of
animals from the sepulchres of Egypt, and found no more difference between
their skeletons and the osseous conformation of the present races, than in
the relics of the human mummy and the bones of our contemporaries.

The following luminous conclusion of Lawrence illustrates the observation
of the foregoing fact: "If new characters are produced in the domestic
animals because they have been taken from their primitive condition, and
exposed to the operation of many, to them, unnatural causes,--if the pig
is remarkable among these for the number and degrees of his varieties,
because it has been the most exposed to causes of degeneration,--we shall
be at no loss to account for the diversities in man, who is, in the true,
though not in the ordinary sense of the word, more of a domesticated
animal than any other. We know the wild state of most of them, but we are
ignorant of the natural wild condition to which man was destined. Probably
there is no such state; because Nature having limited him in no
respect,--having fitted him for every kind of life, every climate, and
every variety of food,--has given him the whole earth for his abode, and
both the organized kingdoms for his nourishment. Yet, in the wide range
through which the scale of human cultivation extends, we may observe a
contrast between the two extremities, analogous to that which is seen in
the wild and tamed races of animals. The savage may be compared to the
former, which range the earth uncontrolled by man; civilized people to the
domesticated breeds of the same species, whose diversities of form and
colour are endless."

It is therefore obvious that the various causes which operate upon animals
in producing these alterations from the primitive race, although the
manner in which they act is unknown, are sufficiently evident to convince
us, by analogy, that they may account for similar phenomena in the human
race, without the gratuitous assumption of different original species,
tending to invalidate the Mosaic account of the creation. Despite the
witticisms of Voltaire and other philosophers on this subject, sound
philosophy teaches us to assign the same causes to the same effects
without calling in the adventitious aid of other possible influences; and
no difficulties prevent us from recognising the unity of the human
species, which are not applicable to all other animals.


From time immemorial, medical men have strongly pointed out to municipal
authorities the dangers that arise from burying the dead within the
precincts of cities or populous towns. Impressed with the same conviction,
ancient legislators only allowed to the most illustrious citizens a
sepulchre in the temple of the gods. Euclides was interred in the temple
of Diana Euclis, as a reward for his pious journey to Delphi in search of
the sacred fire; the Magnesians erected a monument to Themistocles in
their forum; Euphron received the same honour in Corinth; and Medea buried
her two sons, Mermerus and Pheres, under the protection of Juno Acræa's
altars, to guard their ashes from their persecutors. Lycurgus was perhaps
the only Grecian legislator who recommended inhumation in temples and in
cities, to accustom youth to the daily spectacle of death.

The primitive Grecians, it appears, buried their dead in or about their
dwellings; and we find a law amongst the Thebans, ordaining that every
person who built a house should provide a repository for the dead upon his
premises. In latter days, both Grecians and Romans erected their tombs
outside of their cities, and chiefly by the road-side. It appears also,
that, among the Romans, the bodies of the lower orders were promiscuously
cast into wells, called _fruticuli_. Horace seems to allude to this
practice. _Hoc miseræ plebi stabat commune sepulchrum._ The funerals of
the wealthy patricians appear to have been most sumptuous and costly, the
pall formed of valuable materials and decorated with splendid ornaments.
Thus Statius:

_Ditantur flammæ: non unquam opulentioan ille ante cinis: crepitant gemmæ:
atque immane litescit argentum, et pietis exsudat vestibus aurum._ The
laws of the twelve tables prohibited the practice of this waste of gold.

Both religious and civil motives might have dictated the propriety of this
regulation. The traveller, setting out upon a journey, and passing by the
sepulchres of his sires, could in the presence of their manes invoke their
protection; and on his return to his penates, safe from danger, he could
put up thanks to the gods for his preservation. As a prudential measure,
the interment of the dead beyond the walls of their towns prevented the
fatal consequences that might have arisen from extensive putrefaction and
infection, and moreover the burning of bodies would have exposed the
adjoining buildings to the danger of frequent fires. It is also possible
that policy dictated these sanatory enactments. The ancients held the
remains of the departed as a sacred trust, in the defence of which they
were ever prepared to fall; and it is not improbable that their warriors
would have rushed forth to meet the invader, before he would have defiled,
by his approach to their cities, the ashes of their ancestors. So
scrupulously religious were the Athenians in performing the funeral rites
of the dead, that they put to death ten of their commanders, after the
battle of Arginusæ, for not having committed to the earth the dead bodies
that floated on the waters. Such was the dread of being deprived of
sepulchral rites, that it is related of several citizens of Cappadocia,
that during the pestilence that devastated their town in the reign of
Gallus and Valerian, they actually shut themselves up to perish in their

There is no doubt but that their dead were buried in such a manner as not
to prove injurious to the survivors; and Seneca plainly says, "Non
defunctorum causâ, sed vivorum, inventa est sepultura." The ancients both
burned and buried their dead, but inhumation appears to have been the
most early and the most approved rite. "Let the dead be buried," says a
law of Cecrops. Solon justifies the claims of the Athenians to the island
of Salamis, from the circumstance of the dead bodies interred on its
shores having been inhumed according to the Athenian custom, with their
feet turned to the west, whereas the Megarensians turned theirs to the

In various instances the burial or the burning appear to have been adopted
upon philosophical doctrines. Democritus, with a view to facilitate
resurrection, recommended interment, and Pliny thus ridicules the
intention: "Similis et de asservandis corporibus hominum, et reviviscendis
promissa à Democrito vanitas, qui non revivixit ipse." Heraclitus, who
considered fire as the first principle, advocated the funeral pile; while
Thales, who deemed water the chief element, urged the propriety of
committing the departed to the damp bosom of the earth. Although burning
the dead was customary, there were curious exceptions to the rule. Infants
who died before cutting their teeth, persons struck dead with lightning,
were buried. The place of interment of infants was called the

The early Christians inhumed the bodies of their martyrs in their temples.
This honour was afterwards conferred on the remains of distinguished
citizens, illustrious prelates, and princes. The infectious diseases which
at various periods arose from this custom, induced Theodosius, in his
celebrated code, strictly to prohibit it; and he even ordered that the
remains of the dead thus inhumed should be removed out of Rome. The vanity
of man, and the cupidity of the priesthood, soon overruled these wise
regulations. Every family possessing sufficient means, claimed a vault
within the churches, and thereby the revenues of the clergy were
materially increased. At all times, even the dead appeared to have shared
with the living the obligation of supporting the ministers of the altar.
By a law of Hippias, the priestesses of Minerva received a choenix[6] of
wheat, and one of barley, with an obolus, for every individual who
departed this life. The _libitinarii_ of the Romans fulfilled the duties
of our undertakers, or rather of the directors of funeral pomp of the
French; yet they were attached to the temple of the goddess Libitina,
whose priests received a fee in silver for every one who died, under the
name of _Libitinæ ratio_. Suetonius informs us, that in Nero's time the
mortality was so great during one autumn, that thirty thousand of these
silver pieces were deposited in the fatal treasury. To increase the
emoluments of this sacerdotal body, these _libitinarii_ sold at high
prices every thing that was requisite for the funeral ceremonies, received
a toll at the city gate through which the bodies were carried out, as well
as at the entrance of the amphitheatre through which the dead gladiators
were borne away. Phædrus alludes to this speculation in one of his fables,
when speaking of a miser,

  Qui circumcidis omnem impensam funeris,
  Libitina ne quid de tuo faciat lucrum.

It is supposed that this avaricious divinity owed her name to the
displeasure which it must have occasioned to all who heard it,--_quòd
nemini libeat_; but it is also possible that it was derived from her
bearing poor mortals away, whenever she fancied it, and _ad libitum_.

In more modern times, Theodolphus, Bishop of Orleans, complained to
Charlemagne that lucre and vanity had converted churches into
charnel-houses, disgraceful to the clergy and perilous to the community.
It was upon this representation that this prince, in his capitularies,
prohibited burials in churches under heavy penalties. But the laws of the
wisest could not prevent priesthood from considering this source of
emolument, although endangering public salubrity, an indisputable property
that could not be meddled with without endangering the church.

In England the custom of burying the dead in churches was first sanctioned
by Cuthbert, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 758, it having been previously
forbidden by Augustine, who had decreed that no corpse either of prince or
prelate should be buried within the walls of a city.

In France, Maret in 1773, and Vicq d'Azyr in 1778, pointed out the danger
of this practice in such glaring colours, that government by an edict,
only allowed church interment to certain dignitaries; but in 1804, by a
wise law that should be enforced in every civilized country, inhumation in
cities was entirely abolished. Amongst the numerous well authenticated
evil results of burying in churches that led to this wise prohibition, the
following were the most striking and circumstantial:

In 1773, in Saulieu, Burgundy, an epidemic disease arising from the
inhumation of a corpse in the church of St. Saturnin created considerable
alarm. The body of a corpulent person had been interred on the 3d of
March, and a woman was buried near it on the 20th of April following: both
had died of a reigning fever. During the last burial a fetid effluvia
arose from the vault, which pervaded the whole church; and, out of one
hundred and seventy persons who were present, one hundred and forty-nine
were attacked with the prevailing malady, although its progress had been
arrested amongst the other inhabitants of the town.

In 1774, a similar accident occurred in a village near Nantes, where
several coffins were removed in a vault, to make room for the lord of the
manor: fifteen of the bystanders died from the emanation.

In 1744, one-third of the inhabitants of Lectouse perished from a fever of
a malignant character that manifested itself after some works that
required the removal of a burial-ground. Two destructive epidemics swept
away large proportions of the population of Riom and Ambert, two towns in

Taking this matter under consideration in a moral, or even a religious
light, it may be questioned whether any advantage can accrue from the
continuance of this pernicious custom, which during the prevalence of
epidemic diseases endangers the life of every person who resides near a
church. Does it add to the respect which the remains of the dead are
entitled to? Certainly not: the constant tolling of "the sullen bell"--the
daily cortège of death that passes before us--the graves that we hourly
contemplate, perusing monumental records which more frequently excite
unseasonable laughter than serious reflection--every thing, in short,
tends to make death of little or no moment, except to those who have heard
the mutes gossiping at their door. So accustomed, indeed, are we from our
childhood to sepulchral scenes, that, were it not for the parish-officers,
our churchyards would become the playground of every truant urchin; and
how often do we behold human bones become sportive baubles in the wanton
pranks of the idlers, who group around the gravedigger's preparations! So
callous are we to all feelings of religious awe when surrounded with the
dead, that our cemeteries are not unfrequently made the rendezvous of
licentiousness and the assembly-ground of crime, where thieves cast lots
upon a tomb for the division of their spoil.

With what different feelings does the traveller wander over the cemetery
of _Père la Chaise_? I am well aware that many of the gewgaw attributes
that there decorate the grave, have been called the "_frippery_," "_the
foppery_" of grief; but does there exist a generous, a noble sentiment,
that may not be perverted by interested motives and hypocrisy into
contemptible professions? How often is the sublime rendered ridiculous by
bad taste and hyperbolic affectation! When we behold the fond lover
pressing to his lips a lock of hair, or the portrait of all that he holds
dear, the cold calculating egotist may call this the _frippery of love_;
but the stoic who thinks thus, has never known the "sweet pangs" of
requited affection, when, in bitter absence, the recollection of bliss
gone by, imbodies in our imagination the form we once pressed to our
respondent heart. The creation of our busy fancy stands before us, gazing
on us with that tender look that in happier days greeted the hour of
meeting; or trembles in our tears as when we last parted--to meet,
perhaps, no more! With what fervour of religious love do we not behold the
simple girl kneeling with uplift eye and hand on the green sod that covers
all that endeared her to existence, till, overwhelmed with burning,
choking regrets--as idle as they are uncontrollable--she sinks prostrate
on the cold earth that now shrouds that bosom which once nestled her young
hopes and fears! There have I seen the pale, the haggard youth,--to all
appearances a student,--seated mournfully by the side of a tomb, absorbed
in deep thought, heedless of the idlers who passed by him, looking at him
perhaps with contempt!--heedless of the swift flight of time, which
shrouded him imperceptibly in darkness, until he was warned by the
guardian of the dead that it was time to depart--and to depart _alone_! No
inscription recorded the "one loved name;" he would not expose it to the
unfeeling gaze of the heartless tourist: all he would willingly have
traced upon her tomb, would have been "Here lies _my own_!"

The mouldering earth, the fleshless skeleton over which he mourns, cannot
obliterate the remembrance of what she was: though her eyes, perhaps, no
longer exist, still their former languid, liquid look of bliss, beams
freshly in his recollection. The lips which once pronounced the long
wished-for avowal of mutual love are still moist and open to memory's
embrace--still seem to lisp the delicious _tu_! Our language is rich,
without comparison richer far than the French; but we have nothing so
endearing, so bewitching, as their _tu-toiement_: our _thee's_ and
_thou's_ are frigid, chilly, when compared to the _first toi_ that escapes
inadvertently from beloved lips! A French writer has beautifully expressed
this exquisite moment: "Le _premier tu_ est tout-puissant; c'est le _fiat
lux_ de l'âme; il est sublime, il débrouille le chaos!"

Sublime are the words, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord!" Would
it be irreligious to say, "Happy are the dead who die beloved?" Their fond
and ardent heart had never been chilled by the withering hand of
infidelity and ingratitude. They died in an ecstatic dream of perfect
bliss on earth, and never were awakened to the world's mocking
realities!--they died when they felt and believed in their heart of hearts
that they were dearly beloved--could not be loved more dearly: with that
conviction, death, in a worldly acceptation, can never be untimely.
Probably, they died still sufficiently animated by a latent, lingering
spark of life, to press the hand that was so often linked in mutual
pressure in happy days--to feel the burning tear of anguish drop on the
pale cheek--to hear the sad, the awful, last word, _à Dieu!_--an
expression that habit has rendered trivial, but which bears with it, in
the tenderest solicitude, the most hallowed meaning; since, in pronouncing
it, we leave all that we cherish under the protection and the safeguard of

Affection deprives death of all horrors. We shrink not from the remains of
what we cherished. Despite its impiety, there was something refined in
that conviction of the ancients, who imagined that in bestowing their
farewell kiss they inhaled the souls of those they loved. How sweet are
those lines of Macrobius, originally attributed to Plato!

  Dum semihulco suavio
  Meum pullum suavior,
  Dulcemque florem spiritus
  Duco ex aperto tramite,
  Animo tunc ægra et saucia
  Cucurrit ad labia mihi!

Our Shakspeare has quaintly, yet beautifully, described this parting

            And lips, O you
  The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
  A dateless bargain to engrossing death.

Nor was it only on the dying that the ancients bestowed this mark of
fondness: Tibullus and Propertius tell us, that, as their bodies were laid
on the funeral pile, they clasped them in a fond and last embrace.

In regard to the painted crosses, the chaplets, the garlands of flowers,
which mark the hallowed resting-place of the departed, it may be said that
they are but romantic and poetical expressions of grief. If it were only
real grief that expressed itself by outward testimonials, how soon would
mourning be banished as an idle expense!--the "inky cloak," and customary
"suits of solemn black--the trappings and the suit of woes," be laid
aside! What a different feeling does the splendid catafalcum, covered with
black velvet, studded with silver tears, and illumined by thousands of
glaring tapers, excite, when compared with the simple and verdant graves
which point out the spot "where souls do couch in flowers," blessed by
affection's tears instead of lustral waters. At all periods, amongst every
nation, flowers and certain trees seem to have been consecrated to the
dead. The Romans planted the wild vine and the box around their tombs.
Thus Martial to Alcimenes:

  Accipe, non Phario nutantia pondera saxo,
    Quæ cineri vanus dat ruitura labor,
  Sed fragiles buxos, et opacas palmitis umbras,
    Quæque virent lacrymis humida prata meis.

The wealthy assigned a beauteous garden to their departed favourites, as
in the instance of Augustus and Mæcenas. Not only did they suspend
garlands over their tombs, but scattered flowers around them. Again in

  Purpureosque jacit flores, ac talia fatur.

The same custom prevailed amongst the Grecians, who considered all purple
and white flowers acceptable to the dead. The Thessalian's strewed
Achilles' grave with the immortal amaranth and lilies. Electra complains
that the tomb of Agamemnon received no myrtle boughs; in short, instances
of this practice are every where to be found. In addition to flowers and
perfumes, ribands and hair were also deposited on their sepulchres.
Electra adorns Agamemnon's tomb with her locks, and Canace laments that
she had not been able to perform the same rite on her beloved Macareus.
Poets tell us that precious ointments and wines were poured upon their
monuments; and we find, in Euripides, Helen bidding Hermione to take locks
of her hair, honey mixed with milk, and wine, to the sepulchre of her

Amongst the Chinese, to the present day, the cypress and the fir, shade
their cemeteries: the former tree, an attribute of Pluto was ever
considered funereal, hence called _feralis_; and the _feralia_ were
festivals in honour of the dead, observed by the Romans. Varro pretends
that the cypress was called funereal from _funus_, as it emitted an
antiseptic aroma. Pliny and others pretend that it typified the dead,
from its never shooting out fresh sprouts when the trunk was hewn down. At
any rate, to this hour, it is planted in burying-grounds in every
civilized country.

The yew-tree has also been considered an emblem of mourning from the
earliest times. The custom of planting it singly appears also to be very
ancient. Statius, in his Thebaid, calls it the _solitary yew_. In England,
the trees planted in churchyards were protected by legal enactments, as
appears by a statute of 35 Edward I. From the scarcity of bow staves, they
had been frequently despoiled by our numerous archers; and, to meet this
service, by an enactment of Edward IV. every foreign trader was obliged to
bring in four bow staves for every ton of imported merchandise; Elizabeth,
from the scarcity of this important article, put the statute in full

Let us then hope, both for the living and the dead, that this custom,
which obtains in France and other countries, will be adopted by us,
instead of becoming the subject of ridicule. It is far more desirable to
see families repairing to the tomb of the departed on the anniversary of
their death, than to behold them daily passing by their remains with cold

It would scarcely be believed upon the continent of Europe, that to this
very hour bodies are buried in confined churchyards in the most crowded
and dirty parts of the British metropolis, such as Russel-court,
Drury-lane, and various other similar holes and corners; the rudest
nations were never guilty of such a glaring impropriety. In the kingdom of
Siam, the remains of the opulent are burnt with great ceremony, while the
bodies of the poor are carried out and exposed on mountains: in Ceylon,
the remains of the indigent are interred in the neighbouring woods; the
rich consumed on gorgeous funeral piles.

The Chinese inhume their dead at some distance from their cities and
towns; it is only the bodies of the rich and noble that are allowed to
remain on the premises of the family. Navarette mentions a curious custom
prevalent in one of their provinces, Chan Si, where, in the event of two
betrothed persons dying at the same period, they are married while their
coffins are still in their former dwelling, and afterwards burnt together.
By the accounts of various travellers, the wealthy Chinese are burnt with
great pomp, and their monuments are most curious and expensive. Their
mausoleums are actually halls or grottos, decorated with splendour: and
they inter with the deceased many articles to which he might have been
attached during life, and that may add to his comforts after death. A
custom that was more prevalent before the invasion of the Tartars--a comb,
a pair of scissars to pare his nails; four little purses, containing the
nail-parings of the defunct, were placed in the coffin, and, amongst the
wealthy, gold coin and jewels were inserted in the mouth. The Hottentots
bury their dead in the wild clefts of rocks and caverns; the Peruvians
bear theirs to the neighbouring hills and mountains. The Greenlanders wrap
their dead in furs and skins, and carry them to a considerable distance
from their huts. In Kamtschatka and Siberia bodies are covered with snow
in caverns and caves; and the African savages perform the same funeral
rites as the Irish: their dead are carried to the burying-ground, followed
by crowds of relatives and other people, who join the procession,
bellowing and howling most piteously, "Oh! why did you die? did you want
any thing that was ever denied you?" and after the funeral the survivors
invariably get drunk on palm-wine, or any strong liquor they can procure;
a custom similar to the _circumpotatio_ of the Romans.


Every nation, however uncivilized, holds the idea of being buried alive in
constant dread; the horrors of such a situation cannot be described.
Bodies have been found where the miserable victims of precipitation had
actually devoured the flesh of their arms in the agonies of hunger and
despair. Such was the fate of John Scott and the Emperor Zeno. It is to be
feared that this melancholy occurrence is more frequent than is supposed,
more especially in countries where inhumation is speedily resorted to. The
ancients were remarkably cautious in this respect, especially when we take
into consideration the climate of Greece and Rome during the summer
months. A law of Greece on this subject directs that "the corpse should be
laid out at the relations' pleasure, but that the following morning before
daylight the funeral procession should take place." From various
authorities, however, it appears that the bodies were kept three, and
sometimes six days. Servius was of opinion that the time for burning
bodies was the eighth day, and the time for burying the tenth; it appears,
however, that this was a privilege granted to the wealthy, as the poor
were consumed the day after their death, a custom alluded to in an epigram
of Callimachus. Among the Romans several days were also allowed to elapse
before interment--sometimes seven days; during which, loud cries, in which
the deceased was called by his name, and the noise of various instruments
resounded near the body; this was called the _conclamatio_, alluded to by

  Desine, jam conclamatum est.

Lucan also alludes to this custom:

        ----------Sic funere primo
  Attonitæ tacuere domus, quam corpora nondum
  Conclamata jacent, noc mater crine soluto
  Exigit ad sævos famularum brachia planctus.

The ancients held hasty inhumation in great dread, and grounded their
apprehension on various current traditions. Thus Plato remarks the case of
a warrior who was left for ten days on the field of battle amongst the
dead, and who came to life when he was being borne to the sepulchre.
Asclepiades restored life to a man who was also consigned to the funeral
pile, and Pliny relates the case of Lucius Aviola and Lucius Lamia, who
showed signs of life upon the pile, but were too much injured to be saved.

Amongst the many absurd fancies regarding the dead, was the superstitious
belief of their being able to masticate in their coffin any substance
buried with them. Women more especially were believed to be gifted with
this _post mortem_ faculty of moving their jaw-bones very loudly. _Claro
sonitu_, says the learned Michael Ranfft, in his curious and elaborate
work, _de masticatione mortuorum_. In this apprehension, that the deceased
in their hunger might devour their own limbs, articles of food were
interred with them.

According to the law of the Jews, who appear to have been in constant
dread of pestilential disease, the inhumation of the dead were most hasty.
Yet in this instance many Rabbi maintain that the Talmud has been
erroneously interpreted, for although it decreed that a night should not
be allowed to pass before inhumation, it clearly meant that actual death
must have been ascertained.

While such fears are entertained of suspended animation being taken for
dissolution, it is strange that in some savage tribes the aged are allowed
to perish without any care being taken to prolong their lives. Such is the
custom of some of the Esquimaux, where old and decrepit creatures are
abandoned in their huts and left to their fate. An ancient tradition
stated that the inhabitants of the Isle of Syria never died of any
distemper, but dropped into their graves at a certain old age.

It would be desirable that in cases where interment is speedily resorted
to, a physician should attend, in order to ascertain that death had
actually taken place. This is seldom practised, from the common saying
"that it is uncivil on the part of a doctor to visit a dead patient."
Various means are employed to ascertain death: the looking-glass applied
to the mouth of the corpse, to find out whether breath had departed; the
coldness of the extremities, the falling of the lower jaw, the rigidity of
the limbs, and various other appearances, are universally known; but in
the villages of Italy and Portugal, pins and needles are frequently driven
under the nails, in what is vulgarly called _the quick_, to excite an
excruciating pain if life should not have fled. The most certain evidence,
when bodies are long kept, is most decidedly the commencement of
decomposition; but, in other cases, the action of the voltaic pile on a
bared muscle is an infallible test.

It is much to be feared that on the field of battle and naval actions many
individuals apparently dead are buried or thrown overboard. The history of
François de Civille, a French captain, who was missing at the siege of
Rouen, is rather curious: at the storming of the town he was supposed to
have been killed, and was thrown, with other bodies, in the ditch, where
he remained from eleven in the morning to half-past six in the evening;
when his servant, observing some latent heat, carried the body into the
house. For five days and five nights his master did not exhibit the
slightest sign of life, although the body gradually recovered its warmth.
At the expiration of this time, the town was carried by assault, and the
servants of an officer belonging to the besiegers, having found the
supposed corpse of Civille, threw it out of window, with no other covering
than his shirt. Fortunately for the captain, he had fallen upon a
dunghill, where he remained senseless for three days longer, when his body
was taken up by his relations for sepulture, and ultimately brought to
life. What was still more strange, Civille, like Macduff, had been "from
his mother's womb untimely ripp'd," having been brought into the world by
a Cæsarean operation, which his mother did not survive; and after his last
wonderful escape he used to sign his name with the addition of "three
times born, three times buried, and three times risen from the dead by the
grace of God."

The fate of the unfortunate Abbé Prevost, author of "Manon Lescaut," and
other esteemed novels, was lamentable beyond expression. In passing
through the forest of Chantilly, he was seized with an apoplectic fit: the
body, cold and motionless, was found the following morning, and carried by
some woodcutters to the village surgeon, who proceeded to open it; it was
during this terrific operation that the wretched man was roused to a sense
of his miserable condition by the agonies he endured, to expire soon after
in all the complicated horrors of his situation. Various cases are
recorded where persons remained in a state of apparent death for a
considerable time. Cullen mentions an hysterical woman who was deprived of
movement and sensibility for six days. Licelus knew a nun of Bresia, who,
after an hysteric attack, continued in an inanimate state for ten days and


The singular fact of persons, more especially individuals who were in the
habit of indulging in the use of spirituous liquors, having taken fire and
been consumed, is authenticated beyond the slightest doubt. Little
confidence, it is true, can be placed in the reports on this subject which
occasionally appear in the newspapers of different countries; but many
celebrated practitioners have witnessed and recorded the event, and
physiologists have endeavoured to account for its causes. The celebrated
Le Cat mentions a woman of Rheims, of the name of Millet, who was found
consumed at the distance of two feet from her chimney; the room exhibited
no appearance of fire, but of the unfortunate sufferer nothing was found
except her skull, the bones of the lower extremities, and some vertebræ. A
servant-girl was accused of the murder, and condemned to death; but on
her appeal, and a subsequent investigation, her innocence was fully

Joseph Battaglia, a surgeon of Ponte Bosio, relates the following
case:--Don G. Maria Bertholi, a priest of Mount Valerius, went to the fair
of Filetto, and afterwards visited a relation in Fenilo, where he intended
to pass the night. Before retiring to rest, he was left reading his
breviary; when, shortly afterwards, the family were alarmed by his loud
cries and a strange noise in his chamber. On opening the door, he was
lying prostrate on the floor, and surrounded by flickering flames.
Battaglia was immediately sent for, and on his arrival the unfortunate man
was found in a most deplorable state. The integuments of the arms and the
back were either consumed or detached in hanging flaps. The sufferer was
sufficiently sensible to give an account of himself. He said that he felt
all of a sudden as if his arm had received a violent blow from a club, and
at the same time he saw scintillations of fire rising from his
shirt-sleeves, which were consumed without having burned the wrists; a
handkerchief, which he had tied round his shoulders, between the shirt and
the skin, was intact. His drawers were also sound; but, strange to say,
his silk skull-cap was burnt, while his hair bore no marks of combustion.
The unfortunate man only survived the event four days, when mortification
of the burnt parts was most extensive, and the body emitted intolerable
putrid effluvia. The circumstances which attended this case would seem to
warrant the conclusion that the electric fluid was the chief agent in the

Bianchini relates the death of the Countess of Cornelia Bandi, of Cesena,
who was in the habit of using frictions of camphorated spirits. She was
found consumed close to her bedside. No traces of fire could be observed
in the room--the very lights had been burnt down to their sockets; but the
furniture, closets, and linen were covered with a grayish soot, damp and

The Annual Register mentions two facts of a similar nature which occurred
in England, one at Southampton, the other at Coventry. In the transactions
of the Royal Society of London, an extraordinary instance of combustion is
also recorded. The fact is thus related. Grace Pitt, the wife of a
fishmonger of Ipswich, aged about sixty, had contracted a habit, which she
continued for several years, of coming down every night from her bedroom,
half dressed, to smoke a pipe. On the night of the 9th of April, 1744,
she got up from her bed as usual; her daughter who slept with her, did not
perceive she was absent till next morning when she awoke; soon after which
she put on her clothes, and going down into the kitchen, found her mother
stretched out on her right side, with her head near the grate; the body
extended on the hearth, with the legs on the floor, which were of deal,
having the appearance of a log of wood consumed by a fire without any
apparent flames. On beholding this spectacle, the girl run in great haste
and poured over her mother's body some water contained in two large
vessels, in order to extinguish the fire, while the fetid odour and smoke
that exhaled from the body almost suffocated some of the neighbours who
had hastened to the girl's assistance.

The trunk was in some measure incinerated, and resembled a heap of wood
covered with white ashes. The head, the arms, the legs, and the thighs,
had also participated in the burning. This woman, it is said, had drank a
large quantity of spirituous liquor, in consequence of being overjoyed at
hearing of the return of one of her daughters from Gibraltar. There was no
fire in the grate, and the candle had burnt down to the socket of the
candlestick, which was close to her. Besides, there were found close to
the consumed body, the clothes of a child and a paper screen, which had
sustained no injury from the fire. The dress of the woman consisted of a
cotton gown.

It is possible that this accident may be attributed to the escape of
hydrogen gas; the presence of this inflammable body in animals is evident,
and it is also proved that it is liable to ignite. Morton saw flames
coming from the body of a pig. Bonami and Ruysh, with a lighted candle,
set fire to the vapour arising from the stomach of a woman whom they were
opening. In the Memoirs of the Academy of Science of Paris, of 1751, we
find the case of a butcher, who, on opening the body of an ox that had
died after a malady which had swollen him considerably, was severely burnt
by an explosion and a flame which rose to the height of about five feet.
Sturm, Bartholini, and Gaubius record fiery eructations in which, no
doubt, phosphurated hydrogen had been generated in the stomach, from some
combination of alcohol and animal substances, and inflamed upon coming
into contact with atmospheric air; the fetid odour which invariably
accompanies these combustions appears to warrant the conclusion. Fodéré
remarks that hydrogen gas is developed in certain cases of disease even
in the living body, and he agrees with Mere in attributing spontaneous
combustion to the united action of hydrogen and electricity. The case of a
Bohemian peasant is narrated, who lost his life in consequence of ignited
inflammable air issuing from his mouth which could not be extinguished. It
seems evident that this accident only occurs under certain conditions of
the body; generally in aged persons upwards of sixty years old; more
frequently in women than in men, and chiefly when of indolent habits, a
debilitated frame, and intemperate in their mode of living. That the body
has been usually consumed long before the head and the extremities is
evident, since these parts have been more commonly found than the trunk.
It also has been ascertained by observation that this strange accident
seldom occurs in summer, but principally during severe cold and frosty
weather. It appears that some experiments have been recently made in the
United States, when the blood flowing from the arm of a man addicted to
spirituous liquors actually took fire, being placed in contact with a
lighted taper!

Medical observers differ in opinion on this singular yet
well-authenticated phenomenon. Lair, Vicy d'Argou, and Dupuytren maintain
that to produce it, the contact of fire is necessary. Le Cat and Kopp, on
the contrary, affirm that this combustion may be spontaneous without the
intervention of any external agent, and resulting from some peculiar
predisposition. According to Le Cat animals contain inflammable substances
which ignite of themselves. De Castro relates the cases of several
individuals from whom friction could draw sparks. Daniel Horstius mentions
a gouty patient, from whose limbs, on being rubbed, vivid sparks arose.
These physicians consider that these electric sparks are sufficient to
ignite the spirituous liquor which may have saturated any organic tissue
of the body, the combustion being afterwards fed by animal oil.

This theory is, however, subject to many objections. It is difficult to
imagine that any substance introduced into the organ of digestion should
retain its former principles of inflammability. Although Cuvier and
Dumeril relate, that in opening the body of a man who died from excess of
drinking, the effluvia of the liquor arose from every cavity.

On this subject, fraught with much interest, nothing positive has been
ascertained, despite the late progress of chemical investigation. This
combustion indeed differs widely from all other burning; sometimes a
flickering and bluish flame arises; at other times a smothered heat or
fire, without visible flames, is the consuming agent. Water increases the
combustion instead of allaying it. It is moreover a well-known fact, that
a considerable quantity of fuel is required to consume a dead body,
whereas in this combustion, incineration is most rapid. The human body,
indeed, is not easily consumed; a case is related of a baker-boy, named
Renaud, who was sentenced to be burnt at Caen; two large cart-loads of
fagots were required to consume the body, and at the end of more than ten
hours, some remains were still visible.

The extreme incombustibility of the body was singularly exemplified in the
case of Mrs. King, whose murderer was engaged for several weeks in
endeavouring to burn her remains without effecting his purpose.

It has also been affirmed by various medical observers, that the human
body will occasionally secrete an inflammable matter emitted by
perspiration. Thus, it is stated, that the perspiration of the wife of a
physician of the Archbishop of Toledo was of such a combustible nature,
that a ribbon which she had worn, being exposed to the air, took fire.
Borelli relates the case of a peasant, whose linen would ignite in a
similar manner, whether it was laid up in a chest or hung up to dry.
Amongst the many curious stories of the kind, we quote De Castro, who
affirms that he knew a physician, from whose back-bone fire issued so
vividly as to dazzle the eyes of the beholders. Krautius informs us, that
certain people of the territory of Nivers (?) were burning with an
invisible fire, and that some of them lopped off a foot or a hand to cut
off the conflagration!


This plant, now in total disuse, was considered by the ancients as a most
powerful aphrodisiac, and consecrated to Venus. Hence Martial and Ovid--

  Et Venerem revocans eruca morantem.
    *       *       *       *       *
  Nec minus erucas jubeo vitare salaces.

But the most curious document regarding this obnoxious weed is found in
Lobel, who states that it was carefully cultivated in the gardens of
monasteries and nunneries, to preserve their chastity.

"Hæc eruca, major Hispanica, vel quia in condimentis lautior, vel ad
venerem vegetior erat, gentilis vulgò vocata fuit; quo vocabulo Hispanica
et Itala gens designat quamlibet rem aptam reddere hominem lætum et
experrectum ad munia vulgò pausibilia, ut joca ludicra et venerem; quæ
commoda ut ex eâ perciperet monachorum saginata caterva, in perquàm
amoena Magalonæ, insula maris Narbonensis, hujus gentilis erucæ semine à
fratre quodam Hispano ambulone donato, quotannis hocce serebat, et in
mensis cuilibet, vel maximo gulæ irritamento, vel blandimento, præferebat;
nimirum usu gnara quantum frequens esus conferret ad calorem venereum in
illis otio et frequenti crapula obrutum, ad vigorem animi excitandum, et
præsertim corpus obesum extenuandum, somnumque excutiendum, quo illi
veluti ursi gliresve tota hyeme saginati, fermè adipe suffocabantur. Verùm
isto Hispanico remedio adeò hilarescebant et gentiles fiebant, ut
plerumque recinctis lumbis castitate, coacti essent vota et coenobii
moenia transilire, et aliquid solatii venerei ab vicinis plebanis
efflagitare. Nobis hæc visa et risa. Eruca verò inibi superstes est
copiosissima, monumentum futura monasticæ castitatis et rei
veritatis."--_Adv. p. 68._


The first appellation the Grecians gave to those who exercised the art of
healing was _iatros_. Originally it merely signified a man possessed of
the power of relieving accidents, either by manual exertions, or the
hidden virtues of some amulet or charm. Sextus tells us that in ancient
times it applied to an extractor of arrows, _sagittarum extractor_. No
doubt, this operation constituted the chief business of the surgeon in the
infancy of the art; and warriors and heroes themselves performed it on the
field of battle, as fully exemplified in Homer.

The primitive title of _iatros_ gradually descended to surgical
practitioners. We find that Nebrus and Heraclides were the chief _iaters_
of Cos, the birthplace of Hippocrates. To this day the same name is given
to medical men in Greece, where, until lately, they were in the habit of
perambulating the streets, and seeking occupation by crying out at certain
distances, _Callos iatros!_ (The good doctor!) Balsamo, a celebrated
mountebank, being at Cairo, where he died, one of his disciples repaired
to Europe, and, anxious to bear a singular name, assumed this cry, and
called himself _Calloiatro_, or, according to the corrupt pronunciation,
_Cagliostro_: his history is well known, and he certainly excelled in
impudence and industry all his predecessors. These Greek _iaters_, when
going over to Italy to practise, called themselves _medici_, which Cato
wanted to change into _mendici_, for, said he, "These creatures, (_Illi
Græculi_,) quit their native country, where they were starving, to seek
their fortune in Rome (_ut fortunam sibi mendicent_)." Under this austere
censor few of these emigrants dared to settle in the Roman territories,
but after his demise they inundated the country to such an extent, that it
was said that Rome had more physicians than patients who needed their
attendance. This influx of practitioners occasioned constant competition,
and each _iater_ endeavoured to obtain fame and emolument by underrating
his opponents, and endeavouring to introduce novel doctrines, seeking a
livelihood, as Pliny observed, _inter mortes et mendacia_. It was on these
adventurers that the following epigram was written:

  Fingunt se cuncti medicos,--idiota, sacerdos,
  Judæus, monachus, histrio, rasor, anus.

The quackery of these candidates for popularity became the subject of
bitter satire; and Martial thus speaks of the _Iatre_ Symmachus:

  Languebam, sed tu comitatus protinus ad me
  Venisti centum, Symmache, discipulis;
  Centum me tetigere manus, aquilone gelatæ,
  Non habui febrem, Symmache; nunc habeo.[7]

This Symmachus, it appears, invariably moved abroad surrounded by hundreds
of his disciples, whose cold investigating hands produced upon their
patients the effects to which Martial alludes.


The ancients, who were chiefly guided in their medical notions by the
simple operations of nature, attached great importance to the influence of
the moon. As the stars directed their navigators, so did the planets in
some degree regulate their other calculations. Finding that the state of
the weather materially acted on our organism whether in health or in
sickness, they attributed this influence to the appearance of the moon,
which generally foretold the vicissitudes in the atmospheric constitution.
Thus Hippocrates advises his son Thessalus to study numbers and geometry,
as the knowledge of astronomy was indispensable to a physician, the
phenomena of diseases being dependent on the rising or the setting of the
stars. Aristotle informs his disciples that the bodies of animals are cold
in the decrease of the moon, that blood and humours are then put into
motion, and to these revolutions he ascribes various derangements of
women. To enter into these medical opinions would be foreign to the
present purpose, but the notions of the ancients regarding lunar influence
in other matters are curious.

Lucilius, the Roman satirist, says that oysters and echini fatten during
lunar augmentation; which also, according to Gellius, enlarges the eyes of
cats: but that onions throw out their buds in the decrease of the moon,
and wither in her increase, an unnatural vegetation, which induced the
people of Pelusium to avoid their use. Horace also notices the superiority
of shell-fish in the increase.

Pliny not only recognises this influence on shell-fish, but observes, that
the streaks on the livers of rats answer to the days of the moon's age;
and that ants never work at the time of any change: he also informs us
that the fourth day of the moon determines the prevalent wind of the
month, and confirms the opinion of Aristotle that earthquakes generally
happen about the new moon. The same philosopher maintains that the moon
corrupts all slain carcasses she shines upon; occasions drowsiness and
stupor when one sleeps under her beams, which thaw ice and enlarge all
things; he further contends, that the moon is nourished by rivers, as the
sun is fed by the sea. Galen asserts that all animals that are born when
the moon is falciform, or at the half-quarter, are weak, feeble, and
shortlived; whereas those that are dropped in the full moon are healthy
and vigorous.

In more modern times the same wonderful phenomena have been attributed to
this planet. The celebrated Ambroise Paré observed, that people were more
subject to the plague at the full. Lord Bacon partook of the notions of
the ancients, and he tells us that the moon draws forth heat, induces
putrefaction, increases moisture, and excites the motion of the spirits;
and, what was singular, this great man invariably fell into a syncope
during a lunar eclipse.

Van Helmont affirms, that a wound inflicted by moonlight is most difficult
to heal; and he further says, that if a frog be washed clean, and tied to
a stake under the rays of the moon in a cold winter night, on the
following morning the body will be found dissolved into a gelatinous
substance bearing the shape of the reptile, and that coldness alone
without the lunar action will never produce the same effect. Ballonius,
Diemerbroeck, Ramazzini, and numerous celebrated physicians, bear ample
testimony to its baneful influence in pestilential diseases. The change
observed in the disease of the horse called moon-blindness is universally
known and admitted.

Many modern physicians have stated the opinions of the ancients as regards
lunar influence in diseases, but none have pushed their inquiries with
such indefatigable zeal as the late Dr. Mosely; he affirms that almost
all people in extreme age die at the new or at the full moon, and this he
endeavours to prove by the following records:

  Thomas Parr died at the age of 152, two days after the full moon.
  Henry Jenkins died at the age of 169, the day of the new moon.
  Elizabeth Steward, 124, the day of the new moon.
  William Leland, 140, the day after the new moon.
  John Effingham, 144, two days after full moon.
  Elizabeth Hilton, 121, two days after the full moon.
  John Constant, 113, two days after the new moon.

The doctor then proceeds to show, by the deaths of various illustrious
persons, that a similar rule holds good with the generality of mankind:

  Chaucer, 25th October 1400, the day of the first quarter.
  Copernicus, 24th May 1543, day of the last quarter.
  Luther, 18th February 1546, three days after the full.
  Henry VIII, 28th January 1547, the day of the first quarter.
  Calvin, 27th May 1564, two days after the full.
  Cornaro, 26th April 1566, day of the first quarter.
  Queen Elizabeth, 24th March 1603, day of the last quarter.
  Shakspeare, 23rd April 1616, day after the full.
  Camden, 9th November 1623, day before the new moon.
  Bacon, 9th April 1626, one day after last quarter.
  Vandyke, 9th April 1641, two days after full moon.
  Cardinal Richelieu, 4th December 1642, three days before full moon.
  Doctor Harvey, 30th June 1657, a few hours before the new moon.
  Oliver Cromwell, 3rd September 1658, two days after full moon.
  Milton, 15th November 1674, two days before the new moon.
  Sydenham, 29th December 1689, two days before the full moon.
  Locke, 28th November 1704, two days before the full moon.
  Queen Anne, 1st August 1714, two days after the full moon.
  Louis XIV, 1st September 1715, a few hours before the full moon.
  Marlborough, 16th June 1722, two days before the full moon.
  Newton, 20th March 1726, two days before the new moon.
  George I, 11th June 1727, three days after new moon.
  George II, 25th October 1760, one day after full moon.
  Sterne, 13th September 1768, two days after new moon.
  Whitfield, 18th September 1770, a few hours before the new moon.
  Swedenburg, 19th March 1772, the day of the full moon.
  Linnæus, 10th January 1778, two days before the full moon.
  The Earl of Chatham, 11th May 1778, the day of the full moon.
  Rousseau, 2nd July 1778, the day after the first quarter.
  Garrick, 20th January 1779, three days after the new moon.
  Dr. Johnson, 14th December 1784, two days after the new moon.
  Dr. Franklin, 17th April 1790, three days after the new moon.
  Sir Joshua Reynolds, 23rd February 1792, the day after the new moon.
  Lord Guildford, 5th August 1722, three days after the full moon.
  Dr. Warren, 23rd June 1797, a day before the new moon.
  Burke, 9th July 1797, at the instant of the full moon.
  Macklin, 11th July 1797, two days after full moon.
  Wilkes, 26th December 1797, the day of the first quarter.
  Washington, 15th December 1799, three days after full moon.
  Sir W. Hamilton, 6th April 1803, a few hours before the full moon.

The doctor winds up this extract from the bills of mortality by the
following appropriate remark: "Here we see the moon, as she shines on all
alike, so she makes no distinction of persons in her influence:

  "------æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas,
  Regumque turres."
                                HOR. Lib. i. Od. 4.

Not only did the ancients consider the animal creation as constantly under
planetary influence, but all vegetable productions and medicinal
substances were subject to its laws. The Druids of Gaul and Britain
gathered the famed misletoe with a golden knife when the moon was six days
old. The vervain, held in such high repute by the Romans, was gathered,
after libations of honey and wine, at the rising of the dog-star, and with
the left hand, and thus collected served, for various sacerdotal and
medical purposes: its branches were employed to sweep the temples of
Jupiter; it was used in exorcisms for sprinkling lustral water; and
moreover it cured fevers, the bite of venomous reptiles, and appeased
discord; hence it was borne by those heralds who were sent to sue for
peace, and called _verbenarii_; and when its benign powers were shed over
the festive board, mirth and good temper were sure to prevail. So
generally and so highly appreciated was this all-powerful plant, that
Pliny tells us,

  Nulla herba Romanæ nobilitatis plus habet quam hierabotane.

However, it is somewhat doubtful whether the vervain of the ancients was
similar to the plant which now bears that name. It would appear that
formerly the appellation of _verbenæ_ or _sagmina_ was given to various
plants employed in religious ceremonies: and branches of pine-tree, of
laurel, and of myrtle were sometimes thus denominated. Virgil says in his

  Verbenasque adole pingues, et mascula thura.

Now the epithets of _pingues_ and _thura_ cannot apply to our vervain, but
to some resinous production.

Medicine at that period might have been called an astronomic science;
every medicinal substance was under a specific influence, and to this day
the R which precedes prescriptions, and is admitted to represent the first
letter of _recipe_, was in fact the symbol of Jupiter, under whose
special protection medicines were exhibited. Every part of the body was
then considered under the influence of the zodiacal constellations, and
Manilius gives us the following description of their powers:

  Namque Aries capiti, Taurus cervicibus hæret;
  Brachia sub Geminis censentur, pectora Cancro;
  Te, scapulæ, Nemæe, vocant, teque ilia, Virgo;
  Libra colit clunes, et Scorpius inguine regnat;
  Et femur Arcitenens, genua et Capricornus amavit;
  Cruraque defendit Juvenis, vestigia, Pisces.
                                _Astronomicon_, lib. 1.


The origin of these valuable instruments is uncertain: that the ancients
were acquainted with the laws of refraction is beyond all doubt, since
they made use of glass globes filled with water to produce combustion; and
in Seneca we find the following very curious passage--"Litteræ, quamvis
minutiæ et obscuræ, per vitream pilam aquâ plenam majores clarioresque
cernuntur;" yet thirteen centuries elapsed ere spectacles were known. It
is supposed that they were first invented by _Salvino_ or _Salvinio
Armati_; but he kept his discovery secret, until Alessandro de Spina, a
monk in Pisa, brought them into use in 1313. Salvino was considered their
inventor, from the epitaph on his tomb in the cathedral church in
Florence: "Qui giace Salvino d'Armato, degl' Armati di Firenze, inventor
delli occhiali, &c., 1317." Another circumstance seems to add weight to
this presumption: _Luigi Sigoli_, a contemporary artist, in a painting of
the Circumcision, represents the high-priest Simeon with a pair of
spectacles, which, from his advanced age, it was supposed he might have
needed on the occasion.


The origin of their introduction in the practice of medicine is uncertain.
They were well known to the ancients under the name of _hirudo_. Thus

  Non missura cutem nisi plena cruoris hirudo.

The Greeks called them [Greek: Boella], and Pliny states that elephants
were often cruelly tormented by them when they swallowed any of these
worms in their water: "Cruciatum in potu maximum sentiunt haustâ hirudine,
quam sanguisugam vulgo coepisse appellari adverto."

Leeches are oviparous, and their ova are discharged in one involucre near
the surface and margin of pools, and are hatched by the heat of the sun.
They do not cast their skin, as is generally supposed, but merely throw
off a tough slimy membrane, which appears to be produced by disease, and
from which they get disencumbered by straining themselves through grass
and rushes. During winter they remain in a torpid state. They are most
tenacious of life; some say they can live for several days in the
exhausted receiver of the air-pump, and in other media destructive of
other animals. This phenomenon is attributed to the slow oxygenation of
the blood in the respiratory vesicles.

In regard to their food we are ignorant, although Dr. Johnson says that
they live by sucking the blood of fish and reptiles.

The collection of leeches constitutes a lucrative trade on the Continent,
but more particularly in France, where it is called a leech-fishery, and
where, in Paris alone, three millions are annually consumed. The following
is an interesting description of the miserable people engaged in this
occupation from the _Gazette des Hôpitaux_.

"If ever you pass through La Brenne, you will see a man, pale and
straight-haired, with a woollen cap on his head, and his legs and arms
naked; he walks along the borders of a marsh, among the spots left dry by
the surrounding waters. This man is a leech-fisher. To see him from a
distance,--his wobegone aspect, his hollow eyes, his livid lips, his
singular gestures, you would take him for a maniac. If you observe him
every now and then raising his legs and examining them one after another,
you might suppose him a fool; but he is an intelligent leech-fisher. The
leeches attach themselves to his legs and feet as he moves among their
haunts; he feels their bite, and gathers them as they cluster about the
roots of the bulrushes and aquatic weeds, or beneath the stones covered
with a green and slimy moss. He may thus collect ten or twelve dozen in
three or four hours. In summer, when the leeches retire into deep water,
the fishers move about upon rafts made of twigs and rushes. One of these
traders was known to collect, with the aid of his children, seventeen
thousand five hundred leeches in the course of a few months; these he had
deposited in a reservoir, where, in night, they were all frozen _en
masse_." But congelation does not kill them, and they can easily be thawed
into life, by melting the ice that surrounds them. Leeches, it appears,
can bear much rougher usage than one might imagine: they are packed up
closely in wet bags, carried on pack-saddles, and it is well known that
they will attach themselves with more avidity when rubbed in a dry napkin
previous to their application. Leech-gatherers are in general short-lived,
and become early victims to agues, and other diseases brought on by the
damp and noxious air that constantly surrounds them; the effects of which
they seek to counteract by the use of strong liquors.

Leeches kept in a glass bottle may serve as a barometer, as they
invariably ascend or descend in the water as the weather changes from dry
to wet, and they generally rise to the surface prior to a thunder-storm.
They are most voracious, and are frequently observed to destroy one
another by suction; the strong ones attaching themselves to the weaker.

The quantity of blood drawn by leeches has been a subject of much
controversy; but it is pretty nearly ascertained that a healthy leech,
when fully gorged, has extracted about half an ounce. When they will not
readily fix, Dr. Johnson recommends that they be put into a cup of porter.
The cause of a leech falling off when full is not clearly ascertained, but
it is supposed to arise from a state of asphyxia brought on by the
compression of the breathing vesicles, and the distension of the
alimentary tube.

Many serious accidents have arisen from leeches being swallowed in the
water of swamps and marshes, too frequently drunk with avidity by the
thirsty and exhausted soldier. Larrey mentions several cases of the kind
during the French campaign in Egypt, and two fatal instances fell under my
observation during the Peninsular war; draughts of salt water, vinegar,
and various stimulating injections could not loosen their hold, and they
were too deeply attached in the throat to be seized with a forceps.
Zacutus Lusitanus had witnessed the same unfortunate results. The leech
thus swallowed is generally the _hirudo Alpina_.

Norfolk supplies the greater part of the leeches brought to London, but
they are also found in Kent, Suffolk, Essex, and Wales. The leeches
imported from France differ from ours, in having the belly of one uniform
colour. The best are the green, with yellow stripes along the body. The
horse-leech, which is used in the north of Europe, but also common in
England, is entirely brown, or only marked with a marginal yellow line. A
popular belief prevails, that the application of this variety is most
dangerous, as they are said to suck out all the blood in the body.


This singular aberration from our natural habits may be considered an
intermediate state between sleeping and being awake. This infraction of
physiologic laws may therefore be looked upon as a morbid condition.
Physicians have given it various denominations, founded on its phenomena,
_nocti-vagatio_, _nocti-surgium_, _noct-ambulatio_, _somnus vigilans_,
_vigilia somnans_. Somnambulism was well known by the ancients; and
Aristotle tells us, "there are individuals who rise in their sleep, and
walk about seeing as clearly as those that are awake."

Diogenes Laertius states that Theon the philosopher, was a sleep-walker.
Galen slept whilst on a road, and pursued his journey until he was
awakened by tripping on a stone. Felix Plater fell asleep while playing on
the lute, and was only startled from his slumbers by the fall of the
instrument. There is no doubt but that in somnambulists the intellectual
functions are not only active, but frequently more developed than when the
individual is awake. Persons in this state have been known to write and
correct verses, and solve difficult problems, which they could not have
done at other times. In their actions and locomotion they are more
cautious, and frequently more dexterous, than when awake. They have been
known to saddle and bridle horses, after having dressed themselves; put on
boots and spurs, and afterwards ride considerable distances from home and
back again. A sleep-walker wandering abroad in winter complained of being
frozen, and asked for a glass of brandy, but expressed violent anger on
being offered a glass of water. The celebrated sect of _Tremblers_, in the
Cevennes mountains, used to rove about in their sleep, and, although badly
acquainted with the French language, expressed themselves clearly and put
up prayers in that tongue, instead of the Latin _Pater_ and _Credo_ which
they had been taught. A singular phenomenon in some cases of this
affection is that of walking about without groping, whether the eyelids
are closed or open. Somnambulism has been known to be hereditary: Horstius
mentions three brothers who were affected with it at the same period;
Willis knew a whole family subject to it. It is not generally known that
the subject of the French dramatic piece called "La Somnambule" was
founded on fact.

Singular faculties have been developed in the mental condition. Thus a
case is related of a woman in the Edinburgh infirmary, who during her
paroxysm not only mimicked the manner of the attendant physicians, but
repeated correctly some of their prescriptions in Latin.

Dr. Dyce, of Aberdeen, describes the case of a girl, in which this
affection began with fits of somnolency, which came upon her suddenly
during the day, and from which she could at first be roused by shaking or
by being taken into the open air. During these attacks she was in the
habit of talking of things that seemed to pass before her like a dream,
and was not at the time sensible of any thing that was said to her. On one
occasion she repeated the entire of the baptismal service of the Church of
England, and concluded with an extemporary prayer. In her subsequent
paroxysms she began to understand what was said to her, and to answer with
a considerable degree of consistency, though these replies were in a
certain measure influenced by her hallucination. She also became capable
of following her usual employment during the paroxysm. At one time she
would lay out the table for breakfast, and repeatedly dress herself and
the children, her eyes remaining shut the whole time. The remarkable
circumstance was now discovered, that, during the paroxysm, she had a
distinct recollection of what had taken place in former attacks, though
she had not the slightest recollection of it during the intervals. She was
taken to church during the paroxysm, and attended the service with
apparent devotion, and at one time was so affected by the sermon that she
actually shed tears; yet in the interval she had no recollection whatever
of the circumstance, but in the following paroxysm she gave a most
distinct account of it, and actually repeated the passage of the sermon
that had so much affected her. This sort of somnambulism, relating
distinctly to two periods, has been called, perhaps erroneously, a _state
of double consciousness_.

This girl described the paroxysm as coming on with a dimness of sight and
a noise in the head. During the attack, her eyelids were generally half
shut, and frequently resembled those of a person labouring under
amaurosis, the pupil dilated and insensible. Her looks were dull and
vacant, and she often mistook the person who was speaking to her. The
paroxysms usually lasted an hour, but she often could be roused from them.
She then yawned and stretched herself like a person awakening from sleep,
and instantly recognised those about her. At one time Dr. Dyce affirms,
she read distinctly a portion of a book presented to her, and she would
frequently sing pieces of music more correctly and with better taste than
when awake.

In illustration of the phenomena of the preceding case, Dr. Abercrombie
gives the following very curious history: "A girl, aged seven years, an
orphan of the lowest rank, residing in the house of a farmer, by whom she
was employed in tending cattle, was accustomed to sleep in an apartment
separated by a very thin partition from one which was frequently occupied
by an itinerant fiddler. This person was a musician of very considerable
skill, and often spent a part of the night in performing pieces of a
refined description; but his performance was not taken notice of by the
child, except as a disagreeable noise. After a residence of six months in
this family she fell into bad health, and was removed to the house of a
benevolent lady, where, on her recovery after a protracted illness, she
was employed as a servant. Some years after she came to reside with this
lady, the most beautiful music was often heard in the house during the
night, which excited no small interest and wonder in the family; and many
a waking hour was spent in endeavours to discover the invisible minstrel.
At length the sound was traced to the sleeping-room of the girl, who was
found fast asleep, but uttering from her lips a sound exactly resembling
the sweetest tones of a small violin. On further observation it was found,
that after being about two hours in bed, she became restless and began to
mutter to herself; she then uttered sounds precisely resembling the tuning
of a violin, and at length, after some prelude, dashed off into an
elaborate piece of music, which she performed in a clear and accurate
manner, and with a sound exactly resembling the most delicate modulation
of the instrument, and then began exactly where she had stopped in the
most correct manner. These paroxysms occurred at irregular intervals,
varying from one to fourteen and even twenty nights; and they were
generally followed by a degree of fever and pain over various parts of the

"After a year or two, her music was not confined to the imitation of the
violin, but was often exchanged for that of a piano, of a very old
description, which she was accustomed to hear in the house in which she
now lived, and then she would begin to sing, imitating exactly the voices
of several ladies of the family.

"In another year from this time she began to talk a great deal in her
sleep, in which she fancied herself instructing a young companion. She
often descanted with the utmost fluency and correctness on a variety of
subjects, both political and religious, the men of the day, the historical
parts of Scripture, public characters, and particularly the character of
the members of the family and their visiters. In these discussions she
showed the most wonderful discrimination, often combined with sarcasm, and
astonishing powers of mimickry. Her language through the whole was fluent
and correct, and her illustrations often forcible and even eloquent. She
was fond of illustrating her subjects by what she called _a fable_, and in
these, her imagery was both appropriate and correct. The justice and truth
of her remarks on all subjects, excited the utmost astonishment in those
who were acquainted with her limited means of acquiring information.

"She had been known to conjugate correctly Latin verbs, which she had
probably heard in the school room of the family, and she was once heard to
speak several sentences very correctly in French, at the same time stating
that she had heard them from a foreign gentleman whom she had met
accidentally in a shop. Being questioned on this subject when awake, she
remembered having seen the gentleman, but could not repeat a word of what
he had said.

"During her paroxysms it was almost impossible to awake her, and when her
eyelids were raised and a candle brought near the eye, the pupil seemed
insensible to the light. For several years she was, during the paroxysm,
entirely unconscious of the presence of other persons, but about the age
of sixteen, she began to observe those who were in the apartment, and she
could tell correctly their number though the utmost care was taken to have
the room darkened. She now also became capable of answering questions that
were put to her, and of noticing remarks made in her presence, and, with
regard to both, she showed astonishing acuteness. Her observations indeed
were often of such a nature, and corresponded so accurately with character
and events, that, by the country people, she was believed to be endowed
with supernatural power.

"During the whole period of this remarkable affection, which seems to have
gone on for at least ten or eleven years, she was, when awake, a dull
awkward girl, very slow in receiving any kind of instruction, though much
care was bestowed upon her; and in point of intellect, she was much
inferior to the other servants of the family. In particular, she showed no
kind of turn for music. She did not appear to have any recollection of
what passed in her sleep; but during her nocturnal ramblings, she was more
than once heard to lament her infirmity of speaking in her sleep, adding
how fortunate it was she did not sleep among the other servants, as they
teased her enough about it as it was.

"About the age of twenty-one she became immoral in her conduct, and was
dismissed the family. Her propensity to talk in her sleep continued to the
time of her dismissal, but a great change had taken place in her nocturnal
conversation. It had gradually lost its acuteness and brilliancy, and
latterly became the mere babbling of a vulgar mind, often mingled with
insolent remarks against her superiors, and the most profane scoffing at
morality and religion. It is believed that she afterwards became insane."

To what serious reflections does not this curious history give rise. Here
there did unquestionably exist a double existence. The one a relative
being surrounded with the realities of life; the other a natural
condition, unshackled by constraint, and left entirely to the wild
enjoyment of a luxuriant fancy and an apprehension quick and brilliant. In
the former, the young creature found herself derided and degraded by her
vulgar companions; her generous infirmities, if such they may be called,
made the subject of low ribaldy. In her second existence, she became the
free child of nature.

Might not proper care have saved this interesting creature from misery!
It is admitted that "much care had been bestowed upon her instruction,"
but was she withdrawn from the low circle that surrounded her and placed
in a society where, in her waking hours, she could have derived those
advantages of a superior intercourse, which might have worked upon her
vivid imagination as powerfully as the melodious sounds she had heard at
other times? "She became immoral--scoffed at religion"--_in her sleep_.
She was then in a state of nature; unconscious, to a certain extent, of
immorality and religion, although conscious, no doubt, of relative good
and evil. Is it not more than probable that when awake, not only were her
ears assailed by profane and improper language, but is it not most likely
that her ruin was perpetrated during her visionary slumbers, and ever
after visited her mind during her paroxysms? Nor is it improbable that her
affections had been bestowed upon her despoiler. Instead of being
dismissed and cast upon the wide world, helpless, stigmatized, perhaps,
with the odious epithet of witch--for we have seen that the lower order
considered her such--might not a friendly hand have secured her in an
abode where she might have been invited _to_ COME _and sin no more_! Alas!
no wonder that the poor creature should have become insane! It is said
that she was obtuse in intellect when awake. May not this be accounted for
in some measure, by the exhaustion of her mental faculties during her
paroxysms? It is to be lamented that the learned and philosophic Dr.
Abercrombie, who has given this history, did not comment upon it. True
Christianity and its benevolence breath in every line of the eloquent
writer, and the poor Scotch _lassie_ might have afforded him a valuable
theme. How proud would any humane person have felt in making this
interesting object of pity what she might have been!

Dr. Dewar also relates the case of an ignorant servant-girl, who, during
the paroxysm of somnambulism, showed an astonishing knowledge of geography
and astronomy, and expressed herself, in her own language, in a manner
which, though often ludicrous, showed an understanding of the subject. The
alteration of the seasons, for example, she explained by saying the world
was set _a gee_.

In many cases of somnambulism the sleeper is able to continue the
occupation that he had previously carried on. Martinet mentions a
watchmaker's apprentice, whose paroxysm came on once in the fortnight, and
commenced in a sensation of heat ascending to the heart. This was followed
by a confusion of thought and insensibility. His eyes were open, but
fixed and vacant, and he was totally insensible to every thing around him.
Yet he continued his usual employment, and was always much surprised when
he awoke to find the progress that had taken place in his work. This case
ended in epilepsy.

Horstius, whom we have already quoted, tells us of a noble youth of
Breslau, living in the citadel, who used to steal out of a window during
his sleep, muffled up in his cloak, and ascend the roof of the building,
where one night he tore in pieces a magpie's nest, wrapped up the little
ones in his cloak, and returned to bed. The following morning he mentioned
the circumstance as having occurred in a dream, but could not be persuaded
of the reality of the circumstance till the magpies in the cloak were
shown to him.

Dr. Abercrombie has given a very remarkable case of a young woman of low
rank, who, at the age of 19, became insane, but was gentle, and applied
herself eagerly to various occupations. Before her insanity she had been
only learning to read and to form a few letters; but during her lunacy she
taught herself to write perfectly, though all attempts of others had
failed; she had intervals of reason, which frequently continued three
weeks and sometimes longer. During these she could neither read nor write,
but immediately on the return of her insanity, she recovered the power of
writing and reading.

The faculty of conversing in a state of somnambulism is too well
authenticated to be doubted, although in many instances it may have been a
fraudulent trick of animal magnetism. This singular power has been
recorded by several of the ancient writers, many of whom pretended that
divine inspiration illumined the sleepers. Cicero tells us that when the
Lacedæmonian magistrates were embarrassed in their administration, they
went to sleep in the temple of Pasiphae, thus named from _Pasi phainein_,
or "communicative to all." Strabo mentions a cavern, sacred to Pluto and
Juno, where the sick came to consult sleeping priests. Aristides is said
to have delivered his opinion while fast asleep in the temple of
Æsculapius. It would be endless to quote all the authorities on this
subject. Modern magnetisers, however, outstrip the ancients in the wonders
they relate in regard to somnambulent faculties developed by magnetism. In
1829, Cloquet, a very distinguished Parisian surgeon, assisted by Dr.
Chapelain, removed the cancerous breast of a lady in her magnetic sleep,
during which she continued her conversation, unconscious of the operation,
which lasted twelve minutes.

The faculty of seeing through the closed eyelids was fully substantiated
in the presence of a commission of investigation appointed by the Academy
of Medicine of Paris, and in the presence of fifteen persons. They found a
somnambulist, of the name of Paul, to all appearance fast asleep. On being
requested to rise and approach the window, he complied immediately. His
eyes were then covered in such a manner as not to awaken him, and a pack
of cards having been shuffled by several persons, he recognised them
without the slightest hesitation. Watches were then shown him, and he
named the hour and minute, though the hands were repeatedly altered. A
book was then presented to him,--it happened to be a collection of
operas,--and he read _Cantor et Pollux_ instead of _Castor et Pollux,
Tragédie Lyrique_: a volume of Horace was then submitted to him, but not
knowing Latin, he returned it, saying, "This is some church-book." The
celebrated Dr. Broussais laid before the same somnambulist a letter he had
drawn from his pocket; to his utter surprise he read the first lines: the
doctor then wrote a few words on a piece of paper in very small
characters, which the somnambulist also read with the utmost facility;
but, what was still more singular, when letters or books were applied to
his breast, or between the shoulders, he also perused them with equal
accuracy and ease. In one instance the queen of clubs was presented to his
back; after a moment's hesitation he said, "This a club--the nine;" he was
informed that he was in error, when he recovered himself and said, "No,
'tis the queen:" a ten of spades was then applied, when he hastily
exclaimed, "At any rate this is not a court-card; it is--the ten of

The many astute tricks played by animal magnetisers, and frequently
detected, naturally induced most persons to doubt the veracity of these
experiments; but when we find that they were witnessed by seventy-eight
medical men, most of them decidedly hostile to magnetism, and sixty-three
intelligent individuals not belonging to the profession, and in every
respect disinterested, what are we to say?--perhaps, exclaim with Hamlet,

  There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
  Than are dreamt of in your philosophy!

I cannot better conclude this article than by the following quotation from
Dr. Pritchard's valuable work:[8] "There is an obvious relation between
the state of the faculties in somnambulism and that which exists during
dreams. It is indeed probable that somnambulism is dreaming in a manner so
modified, that the will recovers its usual power over muscular motion, and
likewise becomes endued with a peculiar control over the organs of sense
and perception. This power, which gives rise to the most curious phenomena
of somnambulism, is of such a kind, that, while the senses are in general
obscured, as in sleep, and all other objects are unperceived, the
somnambulator manifests a faculty of seeing, feeling, or otherwise
discovering those particular objects of which he is in pursuit, towards
which his attention is by inward movement directed, or with which the
internal operations of his mind bring him into relation. As in dreams, so
likewise in somnambulism the individual is intent on the pursuit of
objects towards which his mind had been previously directed in a powerful
manner, and his attention strongly roused; he is in both states impelled
by habit, under the influence of which he repeats the routine of his daily
observances. A somnambulator is a dreamer who is able to act his dreams."


The powerful influence of music on our intellectual faculties, and
consequently on our health, has long been ascertained, either in raising
the energies of the mind, or producing despondency and melancholy
associations of ideas. Impressed with its sublime nature, the ancients
gave it a divine origin. Diodorus tells us that it was a boon bestowed on
mankind after the deluge, and owed its discovery to the sound produced by
the wind when whistling through the reeds that grew on the banks of the
Nile. This science became the early study of philosophers and physicians.
Herophilus explained the alterations of the pulse by the various modes and
rhythms of music. In the sacred writings we have many instances of its
influence in producing an aptitude for divine consolation. The derangement
of Saul yielded to the harp of David, and the hand of the Lord came upon
Elisha as the minstrel played. In Egypt certain songs were legally
ordained in the education of youth, to promote virtue and morality.
Polybius assures us that music was required to soften the manners of the
Arcadians, whose climate was heavy and impure; while the inhabitants of
Cynæthe, who neglected this science, were the most barbarous in Greece.
The medical power of harmonious sounds was also fully admitted. We find
Pythagoras directing certain mental disorders to be treated by music.
Thales, called from Crete to Sparta, cured a disastrous pestilence by its
means. Martinus Capella affirms that fevers were thus removed. Xenocrates
cured maniacs by melodious sounds, and Asclepiades conquered deafness with
a trumpet. In modern times it has been related of a deaf lady that she
could only hear while a drum was beating, and a drummer was kept in the
house for the purpose of enabling her to converse. Aulus Gellius tells us
that a case of sciatica was cured by gentle modulations, and Theophrastus
maintains that the bites of serpents and other venomous reptiles can be
relieved by similar means. Ancient physicians, who attributed many
diseases to the influence of evil spirits, fancied that harmonious sounds
drove them away, more especially when accompanied by incantations; and we
find in Luther, "that music is one of the most beautiful and glorious
gifts of God, to which Satan is a bitter enemy."

In more modern times we have several instances of the medical powers of
music, and the effect produced by Farinelli on Philip of Spain is well
known. This monarch was in such a deplorable state of despondency from ill
health, that he refused to be shaved or to appear in public. On the
arrival of Farinelli, the Queen was resolved to try the power of music,
and a concert was ordered in a room adjoining the King's chamber:
Farinelli sang two of his best airs,[9] which so overcame Philip that he
desired he might be brought into his presence, when he promised to grant
him any reasonable request he might make. The performer, in the most
respectful manner, then begged of the King to allow himself to be shaved
and attended by his domestics, to which Philip consented. Farinelli
continued to sing to him daily until a perfect cure was effected.--The
story of Tartini is rather curious: in a moment of musical enthusiasm he
fell asleep, when the devil appeared to him playing on the violin, bidding
him with a horrible grin to play as well as he did; struck with the
vision, the musician awoke, ran to his harpsichord, and produced the
splendid sonata which he entitled "_the Devil's_." Brückmann, and Hufeland
relate cases of St. Vitus's dance, cured by music, which, according to
Desessarts, also relieved Catalepsy. Schneider and Becker have ascertained
its influence in hysteric and hypochondriac affections.

The following curious case is recorded by Paret:--"Une jeune fille
d'environ 11 ans, fort prématurée relativement aux facultés, ayant le
genre nerveux très sensible et très irritable, fut attaquée, il y a
environ deux ans, de douleurs violentes dans tout le corps, avec insomnie,
tension excessive et fort douleureuse des muscles de l'abdomen,
accompagnée de fièvre. Deux ans après, des convulsions se déclarèrent,
avec une violence qui surpassa tout ce que je craignais; les bonds, les
élans, furent, pendant quatre or cinq jours et autant de nuits, si forts,
qu'il fallait deux hommes pour retenir dans le lit la jeune personne,
d'ailleurs faible et délicate. Enfin, je proposai d'employer la musique.
On fit, en conséquence, entrer deux ménestriers, disposés à donner leur
premier coup d'archet; à l'instant de leur apparition les convulsions
cessèrent d'abord et-reparurent peu de tems après: on changea d'air, et
les convulsions cessèrent encore pour reparaître, aussi au troisième air,
qui sans doute se trouva plus au goût de la malade, elle demanda un
violon, qu'on lui donna, et quoiqu'elle n'eût jamais fait d'autre essai,
son oeil fixé sur les joueurs, son attention fut si grande, et ses
mouvemens si rapides, qu'elle suivait ceux des ménétriers sans causer
aucune discordance. Des connaisseurs ne pouvaient s'empêcher de convenir
de la justesse et de la précision qu'elle observait. Son oreille était
même si délicate, qu'elle faisait des reproches aux ménétriers, qui,
obligés de jouer une grande partie de la nuit, se trouvaient eux-mêmes
dans le cas de manquer de mésure.

La petite malade continua de jouer pendant plus de 30 heures de suite,
sans autre interruption que celle qu'il fallait pour prendre ses
bouillons, et dans ce court intervalle on voyait les contractions des
tendons se renouveller, quoique moins fortes. Les musiciens fatigués, elle
se contenta de la voix, qu'elle accompagna de son instrument. Au bout de
ce terme, un sommeil de six ou sept heures, qui vint très naturellement,
produisit une augmentation de calme. Au réveil, on varia les exercices, et
ainsi se termina la scène qui avait duré 48 heures, après laquelle les
convulsions cessèrent totalement. Trois jours après, la malade se trouva
parfaitement bien; et ne restait que des convulsions très faibles, et la
maladie se termina après trois mois de durée."

A still more singular effect of music is related by Roger in the case of a
poor wretch broken upon the wheel. In his agonies he blasphemed in the
most fearful manner, and cordially damned the spiritual comforter who
sought to reconcile him to his sufferings. Some itinerant musicians
chanced to pass by, they were stopped by the priest and requested to play
to the patient, when to the surprise of all around, he seemed relieved,
and became so tranquil, that he attended with calm resignation to their
exhortations, confessed his manifold offences, and died like a good

Rousseau, who entertained a sovereign contempt for French music, observes,
that the _Cantates_ of Bernier cured the fever of a French musician, while
they most probably would have given a fever to a musician of any other

This remark of Rousseau reminds me of the French philosophical traveller
(I believe it was Diderot), who on his journey to London from Dover, while
horses were changing, had the curiosity to see a sick ostler with a raging
fever attended by a country practitioner, who, despairing most probably of
his patient, said, that he might be allowed to eat any thing he wished
for. The man asked for a red-herring, which was forthwith given to him.
Our tourist, generalizing like most of his brethren, immediately noted in
his diary--_English Physicians allow red-herrings to fever patients_.

Some months after he changed horses at the same inn, and asked how long
the unfortunate creature had survived his herring, when, to his utter
surprise, he was informed that the hale, hearty fellow who was bringing
out the relays, was the very man. He of course pulled out his journal and
entered--_red-herrings cure the fever of Englishmen_.

Our traveller crossed over, and having accidentally seen in a French inn a
poor devil whose case appeared to him similar to the sturdy ostler, he
ventured to prescribe a similar remedy, which the patient only survived an
hour or two; when his death was announced, he philosophically shrugged up
his shoulders, and wrote in his book--_Though red-herrings cure fevers in
England, they most decidedly kill in France_.

Mad musicians seem to be more mad than others; for Fodéré gives us the
following strange account of some of them. "Les plus grands musiciens ne
reconnaissent souvent plus leurs instruments: l'un prenant son violon, que
je lui avais mis dans les mains, pour un vase de nuit, et un autre prenant
sa flûte pour un sabre, et voulait m'en frapper."

We, however, frequently meet with lunatics who, although they have no
remembrance of the past circumstances of their life, recollect and perform
airs which they had formerly played.

Various well-authenticated cases lead us to suppose, that a sensibility to
music long latent may be called into action by accidental circumstances. A
case is on record of a countrywoman, twenty-eight years of age, who had
never left her village, but was, by mere chance, present at a _fête_ where
a concert was performed, and dancing to a full band afterwards followed.
She was delighted with the novelty of the scene; but, the _fête_
concluded, she could not dismiss from her mind the impression the music
had produced. Whether she was at her meals, her devotions, her daily
occupation, or in her bed,--still, or moving about,--the airs she had
heard, and in the succession in which they had been performed, were ever
present to her recollection. To sleep she became a stranger,--every
function became gradually deranged, and six short months terminated her
existence, not having for one moment lost this strange sensation; and
during this sad period, when any false note on the violin was purposely
drawn, she would hold her head with both hands, and exclaim, "Oh! what a
horrible note! it tears my brain!"

Sir Henry Halford relates the case of a man in Yorkshire, who after severe
misfortunes lost his senses, and was placed in a lunatic asylum. There, in
a short time, the use of the violin gradually restored him to his
intellects; so promptly, indeed, that six weeks after the experiment, on
hearing the inmates of the establishment passing by, he said, "Good
morning, gentlemen; I am quite well, and shall be most happy to accompany

Curious anecdotes are related of the effect of music upon animals.
Marville has given the following amusing account of his experiments.
"While a man was playing on a trump-marine, I made my observations on a
cat, a dog, a horse, an ass, a hind, some cows, small birds, and a cock
and hens, who were in a yard under the window: the cat was not the least
affected; the horse stopped short from time to time, raising his head up
now and then as he was feeding on the grass; the dog continued for above
an hour seated on his hind-legs, looking steadfastly at the player; the
ass did not discover the least indication of his being touched, eating his
thistles peaceably; the hind lifted up her large wide ears, and seemed
very attentive; the cows slept a little, and, after gazing at us, went
forward; some little birds that were in an aviary, and others on trees and
bushes, almost tore their little throats with singing; but the cock, who
minded only his hens, and the hens, who were solely employed in scraping
a neighbouring dunghill, did not show in any manner that the trump-marine
afforded them pleasure." That dogs have an ear for music cannot be
doubted: Steibelt had one which evidently knew one piece of music from the
other: and a modern composer, my friend, Mr. Nathan, had a pug-dog that
frisked merrily about the room when a lively piece was played, but when a
slow melody was performed, particularly Dussek's Opera 15, he would seat
himself down by the piano, and prick up his ears with intense attention
until the player came to the forty-eighth bar; as the discord was struck,
he would yell most piteously, and with drooping tail seek refuge from the
unpleasant sound under the chairs or tables.[10]

Eastcot relates that a hare left her retreat to listen to some choristers
who were singing on the banks of the Mersey, retiring whenever they ceased
singing, and reappearing as they recommenced their strains. Bossuet
asserts, that an officer confined in the Bastille drew forth mice and
spiders to beguile his solitude with his flute; and a mountebank in Paris
had taught rats to dance on the rope in perfect time. Chateaubriand states
as a positive fact, that he has seen the rattlesnakes in Upper Canada
appeased by a musician; and the concert given in Paris to two elephants in
the Jardin des Plantes leaves no doubt in regard to the effect of harmony
on the brute creation. Every instrument seemed to operate distinctly as
the several modes of pieces were slow or lively, until the excitement of
these intelligent creatures had been carried to such an extent that
further experiments were deemed dangerous.

The associations produced by national airs, and illustrated by the effect
of the _Rans des Vaches_ upon the Swiss, are too well known to be related;
and the _mal de pays_, or _nostalgia_, is an affection aggravated by the
fond airs of infancy and youth during the sad hours of emigration, when
the aching heart lingers after home and early ties of friendship and of
love. It is somewhat singular, but this disease is frequent among soldiers
in countries where they are forcibly made to march: but is seldom, if
ever, observed in the fair sex, who most probably seek for admiration in
every clime, and are reconciled by flattery to any region.

The whims of musical composers have often been most singular; Gluck
composed in a garden, quaffing champaign; Sarti, in a dark room;
Paesiello, in his bed; Sacchini, with a favourite cat perched upon each
shoulder. The extraordinary fancies of Kutswara, composer of the "Battle
of Prague," are too well known, and led to his melancholy, but unpitied

Great as the repute of the most popular musical performers, whether vocal
or instrumental, in the present day may be, and enormous as their
remuneration may seem, the ancients were more profuse in their generosity
to musicians and the factors of musical instruments. Plutarch, in his life
of Isocrates, tells us that he was the son of Theodorus, a flute-maker,
who had realized so large a fortune by his business, that he was able to
vie with the richest Athenian citizens in keeping up the chorus for his
tribe at festivals and religious ceremonies. Ismenias, the celebrated
musician of Thebes, gave three talents, or 581_l._ 5_s._ for a flute. The
extravagance of this performer was so great, that Pliny informs us he was
indignant at one of his agents for having purchased a valuable emerald for
him at Cyprus at too low a price, adding, that by his penurious conduct he
had disgraced the gem. The vanity of artists in those days appears to have
been similar to the present impudent pretensions of many public
favourites. Plutarch relates of this same Ismenias, that being sent for to
play at a sacrifice, and having performed for some time without the
appearance of any favourable omen in the victim, his employer snatched the
instrument out of his hand, and began to play himself most execrably.
However, the happy omen appeared, when the delighted bungler exclaimed
that the gods preferred his execution and taste. Ismenias cast upon him a
smile of contempt, and replied, "While _I_ played, the gods were so
enchanted that they deferred the omen to hear me the longer; but they were
glad to get rid of _you_ upon any terms." This was nearly as absurd as the
boast of Vestris, the Parisian dancer, who, on being complimented on his
powers of remaining long in the air, replied, "that he could figure in the
air for half an hour, did he not fear to create jealousy among his

Amoebæus the harper, according to Athenæus, used to receive an Attic
talent of 193_l._ 15_s._ for each performance. The beautiful Lamia, the
most celebrated female flute-player, had a temple dedicated to her under
the name of Venus Lamia. The _Tibicinæ_, or female flute-players, who
formed collegiate bodies, were as celebrated for their talent and their
charms, as for their licentiousness and extravagance. Their performances
were forbidden by the Theodosian code, but with little success; since
Procopius informs us that, in the time of Justinian the sister of the
Empress Theodora, who was a renowned amateur _tibicina_, appeared on the
stage without any other dress than a slight and transparent scarf.

In the early ages of Christianity, the power of music in adding to
religious solemnity was fully appreciated, and many of the fathers and
most distinguished prelates cultivated the auxiliary science. St. Gregory
expressly sent over Augustine the monk, with some singers, who entered the
city of Canterbury singing a litany in the Gregorian chant, which extended
the number of the four tones of St. Ambrose to eight. A school for church
music was established at Canterbury; and it was also taught in the diocese
of Durham and Weremouth. St. Dunstan was a celebrated musician, and was
accused of having invented a most wonderful magic harp; it was, perhaps,
to prove that the accusation was false, that he took the devil by the nose
with a pair of tongs. This ingenious saint is said to be the inventor of
organs, one of which he bestowed on the abbey of Malmesbury. It appears,
however, that instruments resembling the organ were known as early as 364,
and were described in a Greek epigram attributed to Julian the Apostate,
in which he says, "I beheld reeds of a new species, the growth of each
other, and a brazen soil; such as are not agitated by winds, but by a
blast that rushes from a leathern cavern beneath their roots; while a
robust mortal, running with swift fingers over the concordant keys, makes
them, as they smoothly dance, emit melodious sounds."

The influence of music on the fair sex has long been acknowledged, and
this advantage has proved fatal to some artists who had recourse to its
fascinating powers; Mark Smeaton was involved in the misfortunes of Anne
Boleyn; Thomas Abel, who taught harmony to Catherine, met with a similar
fate, and David Rizzio was not more fortunate. They were, perhaps, too
much impressed with the ideas of Cloten: "I am advis'd to give her music
o' mornings; they say it will penetrate."

It is worthy of remark, that no woman was ever known to excel in musical
composition, however brilliant her instrumental execution might have been.
The same observation has been made in regard to logical disquisitions. To
what are we to attribute this exception?--are we to consider these
delightful tormentors as essentially unharmonious and illogical? We leave
this important question to phrenologists.


Destined by Providence to wander over the globe, and to live in various
climes, man is essentially an omnivorous animal. According to the country
he inhabits, its productions and the nature of his pursuits, his mode of
living differs. The inhabitant of cold and sterile regions on the borders
of the ocean becomes ichthyophagous; and fish, fresh, dried, smoked, or
salted, is his principal nourishment. The bold huntsman lives upon the
game he pursues; while the nomadian shepherd, who tends his herd over
boundless steeps, supports himself on the milk of his flock. In warm
countries fruits and vegetables constitute the chief support of life; and
there the disciples of Pythagoras can luxuriate on the rich produce of a
bountiful soil, solely debarring themselves from beans, which, like all
flesh, they consider to have been created by putrefaction. What would
these good people have done among the Scythians and the Getæ, who,
according to Sidonius Apollinaris, mingled blood and milk for food--

  ------------------Solitosque cruentum
  Lac potare Getas, ac pocula tingere venis;

or the stunted natives of the arctic regions, who feed upon whales and
seals, drink deep potations of train-oil, and consider the warm blood of
the seal an exquisite beverage, dried herrings moistened with blubber a
dainty, and the flesh of the seal half frozen in snow during winter, or
half corrupted in the earth in summer, the most delicious morsel. The
semi-barbarous Russians, who during the late wars enjoyed the abundant
bills of fare of France and Italy, accustom themselves easily to this
disgusting diet on their return; and their troops, who live amongst the
Samoiedes, thrive uncommonly well on raw flesh and rein-deer blood. It is
in temperate regions that man displays his omnivorous propensities: there,
animal food can be abundantly procured; and every description of grain,
roots, and fruit, is easily cultivated. It is as we pass from these middle
climes towards the poles, that animal substances are more exclusively
consumed; and towards the equator that we enjoy refreshing fruits, and
nourishing roots and vegetables. So scarce is food in some desolate
tracts of the globe, that we find the wandering Indian satisfying his
cravings with earth and clay: and Humboldt informs us that the Ottomaques,
on the banks of the Mata and Oronoco, feed on a fat unctuous earth, in the
choice of which they display great epicurean skill, and which they knead
into balls of four or six inches in diameter, and bake slowly over the
fire. When about to be used, these clods are soaked in water, and each
individual consumes about a pound of them in the day; the only addition
which they occasionally make to this strange fare consists in small fish,
lizards, and fern-roots.

The art of cookery has improved, no doubt, with the progressive advance
and development of our other institutions; and it seems to prove that the
employment of all kinds of food is as natural to man, as a stationary
uniformity and restriction of one species of aliment is to animals. A most
erroneous idea has prevailed regarding the use of animal food, which has
been considered as the best calculated to render mankind robust and
courageous. This is disproved by observation. The miserable and timid
inhabitants of Northern Europe and Asia are remarkable for their moral and
physical debility, although they chiefly live on fish or raw flesh;
whereas the athletic Scotch and Irish are certainly not weaker than their
English neighbours, though consuming but little meat. The strength and
agility of the negroes is well known, and the South Sea islanders can vie
in bodily exercises with our stoutest seamen. We have reason to believe,
that, at the most glorious periods of Grecian and Roman power, their
armies were principally subsisted upon bread, vegetables, and fruits.

Man by his natural structure was created omnivorous, and there is no doubt
but that a judicious mixed alimentation is the best calculated to ensure
health and vigour, and enable the ambitious or the industrious wanderer to
spend his winters near the poles, colonize beneath the equator, or inhabit
regions where the hardiest of animals must starve and die. The teeth, the
jaws, all the digestive organs fit him for this mode of existence. There
is a curious passage in one of Dr. Franklin's letters in regard to wine:
he pleasantly observes, that the only animals created to drink water are
those who from their conformation are able to lap it on the surface of the
earth, whereas all those who can carry their hands to their mouth were
destined to enjoy the juice of the grape.

The diversity of substances which we find in the catalogue of articles of
food is as great as the variety with which the art or the science of
cookery prepares them: the notions of the ancients on this most important
subject are worthy of remark. Their taste regarding meat was various. Beef
they considered the most substantial food; hence it constituted the chief
nourishment of their athletæ. Camels' and dromedaries' flesh was much
esteemed, their heels most especially. Donkey-flesh was in high repute;
Mæcenas, according to Pliny, delighted in it; and the wild ass, brought
from Africa, was compared to venison. In more modern times we find
Chancellor Dupret having asses fattened for his table. The hog and the
wild boar appear to have been held in great estimation; and a hog was
called "animal propter convivia natum;" but the classical portion of the
sow was somewhat singular--"vulvâ nil dulcius amplâ." Their mode of
killing swine was as refined in barbarity as in epicurism. Plutarch tells
us that the gravid sow was actually trampled to death, to form a delicious
mass fit for the gods. At other times, pigs were slaughtered with red-hot
spits, that the blood might not be lost; stuffing a pig with asafoetida
and various small animals, was a luxury called "porcus Trojanus;"
alluding, no doubt, to the warriors who were concealed in the Trojan
horse. Young bears, dogs, and foxes, (the latter more esteemed when fed
upon grapes,) were also much admired by the Romans; who were also so fond
of various birds, that some consular families assumed the names of those
they most esteemed. Catius tells us how to drown fowls in Falernian wine,
to render them more luscious and tender. Pheasants were brought over from
Colchis, and deemed at one time such a rarity, that one of the Ptolemies
bitterly lamented his having never tasted any. Peacocks were carefully
reared in the island of Samos, and sold at such a high price, that Varro
informs us they fetched yearly upwards of 2000_l._ of our money. The
guinea-fowl was considered delicious; but, wretched people! the Romans
knew not the turkey, a gift which we moderns owe to the Jesuits. Who could
vilify the disciples of Loyola after this information! The ostrich was
much relished; Heliogabalus delighted in their brains, and Apicius
especially commends them. But, of all birds, the flamingo was not only
esteemed as a _bonne-bouche_, but was most valuable after dinner; for,
when the gluttonous sensualists had eaten too much, they introduced one of
its long scarlet feathers down their throats, to disgorge their dinner.
The modern gastronome is perhaps not aware that it is to the ancients he
owes his delicious fattened duck and goose livers,--the inestimable _foies
gras_ of France. Thus Horace:

  Pinguibus et ficis pastum jecur anseris albi.

The swan was also fattened by the Romans, who first deprived it of sight;
and cranes were by no means despised by people of taste. In later days the
swan seems to have been in great estimation in our own country. We find in
the Northumberland household book that in one year twenty of these birds
were consumed at the earl's table.

While the feathered creation was doomed to form part of ancient delights,
the waters yielded their share of enjoyments, and several fishes were
immortalized. The _muræna Helena_ was educated in their ponds, and
rendered so tame that he came to be killed at the tinkling of his master's
bell or the sound of his voice.

  Natat ad magistrum delicta muræna,

says Martial. Hirtius ceded six thousand of these fish to Cæsar as a great
favour, and Vitellius delighted in their roe. The fame of the lamprey,
_mustela_ of Ausonius and Pliny, is generally known; and the sturgeon, the
_acipenser sturio_, was brought to table with triumphant pomp: but the
turbot, one of which was brought to Domitian from Ancona, was considered
such a present from the gods, that this emperor assembled the senate to
admire it. Soles were also so delectable that punning on the word _solea_,
they were called the _soles_ of the gods: the dorad, _sparus auratus_, was
consecrated to Venus; the _labrus scarus_ was called the brain of Jupiter,
and Apuleius and Epicharmus maintain that its very entrails would be
relished in Olympus.

To these dainties may be added the _Alphestæ_, a fish always caught in
pairs from their eagerness to be eaten. The _Amia_ so very delicious that
the Athenians defied the worst cook to spoil them. The _Gnaphius_ that
imparted to the water that had had the honour to boil them, the facility
of taking out all stains. The _Pompilus_ which sprang with Venus from the
blood of the sky. The fish called _fox_ by the Rhodians, and _dog_ by the
Boeotians, was considered such a dainty that Archestratus recommended
epicures to steal them if they could not procure them by honest means;
adding, that all calamities should be considered immaterial after a man
had once feasted on such a luscious morsel, too divine to be gazed upon
by vulgar eyes, and which ought to be procured by the wealthy, if they did
not wish to incur the wrath of the gods, for not appreciating at its true
value the flower of their nectar. Eels were also highly esteemed by the
ancients. The preference being given to the _Copaic_, which the
Boeotians offered to the gods crowned with flowers, giving them the same
rank among fish that Helen held amongst women.

The _garum_, or celebrated fish-sauce of the Romans, was principally made
out of the _sciæna umbra_, and the mackerel; the entrails and blood being
macerated in brine until they became putrid.

  Expirantis adhuc scombri, de sanguine primo
  Accipe fastosum munera cara garum:--

thus says Martial: and Galen affirms that this disgusting preparation was
so precious, that a measure of about three or four pints fetched two
thousand silver pieces. So delightful was the effluvium of the garum
considered, that Martial informs us it was carried about in onyx
smelling-bottles. But our luxurious civic chiefs are not aware that the
red mullet--for such I believe was the _mullus_--was held in such a
distinguished category among genteel fishes, that three of them, although
of small size, were known to fetch upwards of 200_l._ They were more
appreciated when brought alive, and gradually allowed to die, immersed in
the delicious garum; when the Romans feasted their eyes in the anticipated
delight of eating them, by gazing on the dying creature as he changed
colour like an expiring dolphin. Seneca reproaches them with this
refinement of cruelty--"Oculis quoque gulosi sunt;" and the most renowned
of Apicius's culinary discoveries was the _alec_, a compound of their

Snails were also a great dainty. Fulvius Herpinus was immortalized for the
discovery of the art of fattening them on bran and other articles; and
Horace informs us they were served up, broiled upon silver gridirons, to
give a relish to wine. Oysters were brought from our coasts to Rome, and
frozen oysters were much extolled. Grasshoppers, locusts, and various
insects, were equally acceptable to our first gastronomic legislators.
Acorns, similar to those now eaten in Spain, formed part of a Roman
dessert; the best were brought from Naples and Tarentum. It does not
appear that the ancients had a great variety in their vegetable diet;
condiments to stimulate the sluggish appetite seemed to be their principal
research: amongst these the asafoetida, which is to this day highly
relished in the East, was an indispensable ingredient; this has been
doubted by various naturalists, but it appears certain, since Pliny
informs us that it was frequently adulterated by _sagapenum_, which bears
the strongest resemblance to it. This substance was called _laser_, and by
many tasteless persons, such as Aristophanes and Apuleius, considered
offensive and disgusting; hence the latter, "lasere infectas carnes," and
"laseratum porcellum." According to Theophrastus, asafoetida was
collected and preserved, as it is at present, in skins; and, despite its
estimation as a culinary ingredient, it was not unfrequently named
_stercus diaboli_. In addition to this gum, they seasoned their food with
various other strong articles, such as coriander and cummin seeds, sumac,
saffron, cinnamon, thyme; with divers peppers, salt, and sal-ammoniac.

Instead of bread, which was only introduced in Rome 580, A. D. they used a
heavy kind of unleavened paste, similar to the present _polenta_. This
nourishment occasioned frequent indigestion, hence the use of warm water
after meals, and the necessity of emetics. Warm water was sold about the
streets in their thermopolia, and Seneca observed the paleness and
debility that arose from its use and abuse; a practice recorded by

  Et potet calidam, qui mihi livet, aquam.

While water was thus freely drunk, wine was not disregarded; but the
various articles with which it was adulterated, must have rendered it any
thing but a delectable potation according to our received ideas. Thus we
see the Greeks putting salt and sea-water in theirs; at other times
dissolving mastic and myrrha, or infusing wormwood, in their choicest
Falernian. Like modern tasters, however, they knew the method of
developing the _bouquet_ by warmth; and, to appreciate the flavour, they
frequently added hot water. That wines of a resinous taste were esteemed,
appears from Martial:

  Resinata bibis vina, Falerna fugis.

But we may conclude that, according to our modern taste, their boasted
wines did not equal ours either in flavour or in delicacy.

The ancients however were very careful in the preparation of their bread,
justly called the "staff of life," as constituting one of the most
wholesome and nutritious parts of our food. The Athenian bakers bore the
palm in the confection of this article. Archestratus recommended the
wheaten bread of Athens and the barley meal of Lesbos, which their poets
asserted was supplied to the gods. The Grecian millet bread was also in
great repute, while delicious bread was also made with the _Zea_, the
_Triticum Spella_ of Linnæus and the _Far_ of the Romans. A species of
wheat called _Tiphe_ was also much esteemed. Brown bread was made of a
grain called _Olyra_, and it was with loaves of this description that
Homer's heroes fed their horses.

It appears that great attention was paid to the kneeding and the boulting:
unboulted meal was called _Syncomista_, and when finely boulted in a
woollen cloth, _Semidalis_. The most approved method of baking was in the
_Cribanus_ or _Clibanus_, an earthen or iron vessel, which they surrounded
with charcoal. Bread according to its superior or inferior quality was
consecrated to various divinities. Thus the goddesses used the _Homoros_,
and Hecate was served with the _Hemiantium_, but we are unacquainted with
the preparation of these varieties. The flour of barley was used by the
_Canephoræ_, or virgins that bore the sacred baskets in the festivals of
Ceres, to sprinkle themselves. Bread according to its particular kind was
served up in various ways; wheaten bread was brought to table upon fresh
leaves; barley bread upon a layer of reeds. At the feasts of Ceres and
Proserpine, a large loaf was kneeded and baked by the ladies of Delos,
called _Achaïnas_ which gave the name to the festival, instituted most
probably in Achaia, to commemorate the invention of bread, which Ceres
taught to Eumelus, a citizen of Patræ.

Barley for the preparation of bread was used long before wheat or any
other sort of corn, and hence Artemidorus calls it _Antiquissimum in
cibis_. It was also given to the athletæ who were thence called
_Hordearii_. In latter times it was chiefly given to cattle, although used
by the poorer classes. Barley bread was also issued to soldiers as a
punishment, the loss of wheaten bread being considered a great privation.
Vegetius tells us that soldiers who had been guilty of any offence were
thus punished--"_hordeum pro frumentuo cogebantur accipere_." In the
second Punic war we find Marcellus sentencing the cohorts that had lost
their standards to this infliction. Suetonius also informs us that
Augustus only allowed barley to the troops that had misbehaved in action.
_Cohortes, si quæ cepissent, loco, decimatas hordeo pavit._ But there is
reason to believe that under the head of bread were included various kinds
of cakes, many of which were prepared with honey, some of them were
called _Placentæ omnigenæ_, and were prepared by bakers who bore the name
of _pistores dulciarii_. This honied bread or cake it appears, was
frequently resorted to, as in the present day, to quiet troublesome
children as well as to please the taste of fastidious patients. Thus

  Leniat ut fauces medicus, quas aspera vexat
  Assiduè tussis, Parthenopæ tibi
  Mella dari, nucleosque jubet dulcesque placentas.
  Est quidquid pueros non sinit esse truces,
  At tu non cessas totis tussire diebus
  Non est hæc tussis, Parthenopæ gula est.

The bread made of spring wheat was called _Collabus_, and the Athenians
considered a toasted _Collabus_ eaten with a slice of a pig's belly, the
very best cure for a surfeit occasioned by an excess in anchovies,
especially the Phalerian ones, which were deemed fit for the gods.

Fragments of bread it appears were used instead of napkins to wipe the
fingers on. These were called _Apomygdaliæ_, with which Aristophanes fed
his sausage-makers. These dainty bits were usually thrown to dogs.

The cooks of the ancients appear to have been much more consummate in
their art than our modern practitioners. Athenæus records various
descriptions of their incomparable science. A new dish immortalized its
inventor, and transmitted his name to posterity. Apicius's cakes were
called Apicians; and Aristoxenes had attained such perfection in curing
hams, that the glorious appellation of Aristoxenians was bestowed upon
them. Philosophers and poets gloried in their culinary science; the
pleasures of the table were the subject of their writings and their
conversation. Archestratus tells us with delight, that, although various
delicacies can only be enjoyed in their proper season, yet we can talk
about them with watering mouths all the year round.

One of these illustrious ministers of luxury attained such a degree of
enviable perfection, that he could serve up a pig boiled on one side and
roasted on the other, and moreover stuffed with all possible delicacies,
without the incision through which these dainties were introduced being
perceived. Supplicated to explain this wonderful secret, he swore solemnly
by the manes of all the heroes who fell at Marathon, or conquered at
Salamis, that he would not reveal this sacred mystery for one year. When
the happy day arrived and he was no longer bound by his vows, he
condescended to inform his anxious hearers, that the animal had been bled
to death by a wound under the shoulder, through which the entrails were
extracted; and afterwards hanging up the victim by the legs, the stuffing
was crammed down his throat. One half of the pig was then covered with a
thick paste, seasoned with wine and oil, put into a brass oven, and gently
and tenderly roasted: when the skin was brown and crisp, our hero
proceeded to boil the other moiety; the paste was then removed, and the
boiled and roasted grunter triumphantly served up.

So refined was the taste of the ancient _bons vivans_, that Montanus,
according to Juvenal, would proclaim, at the first bite, whether an oyster
was of English produce or not. Sandwich is believed to have been the
favoured spot whence Rome imported her oysters and other shell-fish.
Shrimps and prawns must have been in great estimation, since we find
Apicius quitting his residence at Minturnæ, upon hearing that the shrimps
of Africa were finer than those he could procure in Campania. He instantly
set sail for the happy coast, despite a gale of wind: after encountering a
desperate storm, he reached the wished-for land of promise; but alas!--the
fishermen displayed the largest prawns they could collect, and to his
cruel disappointment, they could not vie, either in delicacy or beauty,
with those of Minturnæ. He immediately ordered his pilot to steer a
homeward course, and left Africa's shore with ineffable contempt.

These ingenious gluttons had recourse to every experiment that could add
to their enjoyment. Philoxenus, and many others, used to accustom
themselves to swallow hot water, that they might be able to attack
scalding dishes before less fireproof guests would dare to taste them.

Sinon maintained that cookery was the basis of all arts and sciences:
natural philosophy taught us the seasoning of dishes; architecture
directed the construction of stoves and chimneys; the fine arts, the
beautiful symmetry of each dish; and the principles of war were applied to
the drilling and marshalling of cooks, confectioners, and scullions,
posting proper sentries to watch the fires, and videttes to keep off idle
intruders. That man is a "cooking animal" is considered one of his
proudest attributes, and a proper bill of fare may be considered as the
_ne plus ultra_ of human genius!

It may be easily imagined that when good living became a science,
_sponging_ upon the wealthy _Amphitryons_ became an art amongst the needy
_bons vivants_, and parasites, as in the present day, were ever seen
fawning and cringing for their dinner. These sycophants stuck so close to
their patrons, that they were called shadows. Thus Horace:

  ----Quos Moecenas adduxerat umbras.

They were also called flies, [Greek: gyias], by the Greeks, and _Muscæ_ by
the Romans; no doubt from their constant buzzing about the object of their
devotion. Plautus calls an entertainment free from these despicable
guests, _Hospitium sine muscis_. Horus Apollo tells us that in Egypt a fly
was the symbol of an impudent fellow; because, although driven away, it
will constantly return. We have, however, reason to believe that the term
_parasite_ was originally applied to the followers of princes, Patroclus
was the parasite of Achilles, and Memnon of Idomeneus; it was only in
later times that the appellation was given to despicable characters and
"_trencher friends_."

Our Shakspeare had adopted the term of the ancients, as appears in the
following passages:

  In such as you,
  That creep like _shadows_ by him, and do sigh
  At each his needless heavings.

And again--

  Feast-won, fast-lost, one cloud of winter showers.
  These _flies_ are couched.

While climate points out the most suitable articles of food, it exercises
a singular influence over their qualities and properties, more especially
in vegetable substances. We find plants which are poisonous in some
countries, edible and wholesome in others. Next to climate, culture and
soil modify plants to a singular degree: flowers which yield a powerful
perfume in some latitudes, are inodorous in others; and, according to
climate, their aroma is pleasant or distressing. A striking proof of this
fact can be adduced from the well-known effects of perfumes in Rome; where
the inhabitants, especially females, cannot support the scent even of the
rose, which has been known to produce syncope, illustrating the poet's
line to

  Die of a rose in aromatic pain.

This variety in the action of vegetable substances is more particularly
observable in such as are considered medicinal. Opium, narcotics, and
various drugs, are more powerful in warm climates than in northern
regions. The Italian physicians express astonishment at the comparatively
large doses prescribed by our practitioners.

Cultivation brings forth singular intermediate productions; and by its
magic power we have seen the coriaceous and bitter almond transformed into
the luscious peach, the sloe converted into the delicious plum, and the
common crab transformed into the golden pippin. The same facts are
observed in vegetables; the celery sprung from the nauseous and bitter
_apium graveolens_, and the colewort, is metamorphosed into the cabbage
and the cauliflower. All cruciform plants degenerate within the tropics,
but acquire increased energies in cold countries.

Recent experiments in Germany have demonstrated that in times of scarcity,
the wood of several trees may be converted into a nutritious substance.
The fibres of the beech, birch, lime, poplar, fir, and various other
trees, when dried, ground, and sifted into an impalpable powder,
constitute a very palatable article of food. If cold water be poured on
this ligneous flour, enclosed in a linen bag, it becomes milky, and
considerable pressure and kneading is required to express the amylaceous
or starchy part of it. Professor Von Buch, in his travels through Norway
and Lapland, has fully described the Norwegian _barke bröd_. We find the
savages scattered along the coast of the great austral continent mixing up
a paste of the bark of the gum-tree with the ants and the other insects,
with their larvæ, which they find in it. Ground dried fish and fish-bones
have from time immemorial been converted into bread; Arrianus tells us
that Nearchus found several nations on the shores of the Red Sea living
upon a bread of this description.

It is thus evident that all substances from the animal and vegetable
kingdom appear to afford more or less nutriment, provided that they
contain no elements unlike the animal matter of the being they are
intended to nourish. All others are either medicinal or poisonous. Food
may be considered nourishing in the ratio of its easy digestion or
solution. Magendie attributes the nutritious principle to the greater or
lesser proportion of nitrogen or azote. According to his view of the
subject, the substances that contain little or no nitrogen are the
saccharine and acid fruits, oils, fats, butter, mucilaginous vegetables,
refined sugar, starch, gum, vegetable mucus, and vegetable gelatin. The
different kinds of corn, rice and potatoes, are elements of the same kind.
The azotical aliments, on the contrary, are vegetable albumen, gluten, and
those principles which are met with in the seeds, stems and leaves of
grasses and herbs, the seeds of leguminous plants, such as peas and
beans, and most animal substances, with the exception of fat.

To this doctrine, it was objected, that animals who feed upon substances
containing little nitrogen, and the field negroes, who consume large
quantities of sugar, might be adduced as an exception. Magendie replies,
that almost all the vegetables consumed by man and animals contain more or
less nitrogen--that this element enters in large quantity in the
composition of impure sugar--and lastly, that the nations whose principal
food consists in rice, maize, or potatoes, consume at the same time milk
and cheese.

To support his theory, this physiologist had recourse to various curious
experiments on dogs, whom he fed with substances which contained no
nitrogen. During the first seven or eight days, the animals were brisk and
active, and took their food and drink as usual. In the course of the
second week they began to get thin, although their appetite continued
good, and they took daily between six and eight ounces of sugar. The
emaciation increased during the third week; they became feeble, lost their
appetite and activity, and at the same time ulcers appeared in the cornea
of their eyes. The animals still continued to eat three or four ounces of
sugar daily, but, nevertheless, became at length so feeble as to be
incapable of motion, and died on a day varying from the 31st to the 34th:
and it must be recollected that dogs will live the same length of time
without any food.

The same were the results where dogs were fed upon gum, and butter; when
they were fed with olive oil and water the phenomena were the same, with
the exception of ulceration of the cornea.

In Denmark, a diet of bread and water for a month is considered equivalent
to the punishment of death. Dr. Stark died in consequence of experiments
which he instituted on himself to ascertain the effects of a sugar diet.

Muller has justly observed that these experiments of Magendie have thrown
considerable light on the causes and the mode of treatment of the gout and
calculous disorders. The subjects of these diseases are generally persons
who live well and eat largely of animal food; most urinary calculi,
gravelly deposits, the gouty concretions, and the perspiration of gouty
persons, contain an abundance of uric acid, a substance in which nitrogen
is contained in a large proportion. Thus, by diminishing the proportion of
azotical substance in the food, the gout and gravelly deposits may be

The experiments of Tiedemann and Gmelin have confirmed those of Magendie,
whose curious observations on the necessity of varying diet I shall

1. A dog fed on white bread, wheat, and water, did not live more than
fifty days.

2. Another dog, who was kept on brown soldiers' bread did not suffer.

3. Rabbits and guineapigs who were fed solely on any one of the following
substances--oats, barley, cabbage, and carrots,--died of inanition in
fifteen days; but they did not suffer when these substances were given
simultaneously or in succession.

4. An ass fed on dry rice, and afterwards on boiled rice, lived only
fifteen days; a cock, on the contrary, was fed with boiled rice for
several months with no ill consequence.

5. Dogs fed with cheese alone, or hard eggs, lived for a long time; but
they became feeble and lost their hair.

6. Rodent animals will live a very long time on muscular substances.

7. After an animal has been fed for a long period on one kind of aliment,
which, if continued, will not support life, allowing it the former
customary food will not save it: he will eat eagerly, but will die as soon
as if he had continued to be restricted to the article of food which was
first given him.

Dr. Paris is of opinion that all that these experiments tend to prove is,
that animals cannot exist upon highly-concentrated aliment. Horses fed on
concentrated aliment are liable to various disorders, originating from
diseased action of the stomach and liver, broken wind, staggers,
blindness, &c.

Professor Muller has given an excellent definition of indigestion. "It is
a state of the digestive organs in which either they do not secrete the
fluid destined for the solution of the aliment, or they are in such a
condition of irritability or atony, that by the mechanical irritation of
the food, painful sensations and irregular motions are exerted."

But the most curious experiments made on the changes which the food
undergoes in the stomach, according to the greater or lesser facility with
which it is digested, were those of Dr. Beaumont. This physiologist had
the rare opportunity of investigating this subject in a patient of the
name of St. Martin, who came under his care in consequence of a gun-shot
wound, which left a considerable opening in the stomach, which, when
empty, could be explored to the depth of five or six inches by artificial
distention. The food and the drink could in this manner be seen to enter
it. This enabled him to keep an interesting journal and table, showing the
time required for the digestion of different kinds of food, which were
taken with bread or vegetables, or both. The following are some of his
interesting observations:

_Experiment 33._ At 1 o'clock St. Martin dined on roast beef, bread, and
potatoes--in half an hour examined the contents of the stomach, found what
he had eaten reduced to a mass resembling thick porridge. At 2 o'clock,
nearly all chymified--a few distinct particles of food still to be seen.
At half-past four, chymification complete. At 6 o'clock nothing in the
stomach but a little gastric juice tinged with bile.

_Ex. 42._ At 8 a.m., breakfast of three hard-boiled eggs, pancakes, and
coffee. At half-past eight, found a heterogenous mixture of the articles
slightly digested. At a quarter-past ten, no part of breakfast could be

_Ex. 43._ At 2 o'clock same day, dined on roast pig and vegetables. At 3
they were chymified; and at half-past four nothing remained but a little
gastric juice.

_Ex. 18_, in a third series. At half-past eight a.m., two drams of fresh
fried sausage, in a fine muslin bag, were suspended in the stomach of St.
Martin, who immediately afterwards breakfasted on the same kind of
sausage, and a piece of broiled mutton, wheaten bread, and a pint of
coffee. At half-past eleven, stomach half empty, contents of bag about
half diminished. At 2 o'clock p.m., stomach empty and clean, contents of
bag all gone with the exception of fifteen grains, consisting of small
pieces of cartilaginous and membranous fibres, and the spices of the
sausage, which last weighed six grains.

As I have elsewhere observed, various are the theories that have been
entertained in regard to digestion, but the experiments of Dr. Beaumont
seem to have proved beyond a doubt, that this operation is due to the
action of the gastric juice, with which he was enabled to produce
artificial digestion. Having obtained one ounce of this solvent from the
stomach of his patient, he put into it a solid piece of recently-boiled
beef, weighing three drams, and placed the vessel that contained it in a
water bath heated to 100°. In forty minutes digestion had commenced on the
surface of the meat; in fifty minutes, the fluid was quite opake and
cloudy, the external texture began to separate and become loose; in sixty
minutes, chyme began to form. At 1 p.m. (two hours after the commencement
of the experiment), the cellular substance was destroyed, the muscular
fibres loose and floating about in fine small threads very tender and
soft. In six hours they were nearly all digested--a few fibres only
remaining. After the lapse of ten hours, every part of the meat was
completely digested. The artificial digestion by these experiments appears
to be but little slower than the natural process--they also demonstrate
the influence of the temperature, and the quantity of the solvent
secretion. Having obtained from St. Martin two ounces of gastric juice, he
divided this quantity into two equal portions, and laid in each an equal
quantity of masticated roast beef. One he placed in a water bath at the
temperature of 99° Farh.--and left the other exposed to the open air at
the temperature of 34°; a third similar portion of meat he kept in a
phial, with an ounce of cold water. An hour after the commencement of the
experiment, St. Martin had finished his breakfast, which consisted of the
same meat with biscuit, butter, and coffee. Two hours after the meat had
been put into the phial, the portion in the warm gastric juice was as far
advanced in chymification as the food in the stomach; the meat in the cold
gastric juice was less acted on, and that in the cold water only slightly
macerated. In two hours and forty-five minutes from the time that the
experiment was begun, the food in the stomach was completely digested, the
stomach empty, while even at the end of six hours the meat in the gastric
juice was only half digested. Dr. Beaumont, therefore, having procured 12
drams of fresh gastric juice, added now a portion to each of the phials
containing meat and gastric juice, and to a portion of the half-digested
food which he had withdrawn from the stomach two hours after the
commencement of the experiment, and which had not advanced towards
solution. After eight hours' maceration, the portions of meat in the cold
gastric juice, and in the cold water, were little changed, but, from the
time of the addition of the fresh gastric juice, digestion went on rapidly
in the other phials, which were kept at the proper heat, and at the end of
24 hours, the meat which had been withdrawn from the stomach after
digestion had commenced, were, with the exception of a piece of meat that
had not been masticated, converted into a thickish pulpy mass of a
reddish-brown colour: the meat in the warm gastric juice was also
digested, though less perfectly, while that in the cold gastric juice was
scarcely more acted on than the meat in the water, which was merely
macerated. Dr. Beaumont now exposed these two phials containing the meat
in cold gastric juice, and meat in water, to the heat of the water bath
for 24 hours, and the gastric juice, which when cold had no power on the
meat, now digested it; while the meat in the water underwent no change,
except that towards the end of the experiment, putrefaction had commenced.
The antiseptic properties of the gastric juice were fully demonstrated in
several other experiments.

Various philosophers, in idle disquisitions, have endeavoured by the most
absurd hypotheses to determine what is the natural food of man, and to
show that he is not created omnivorous. The comparison between our species
and animals confutes these vain theories. The masticatory and digestive
organization of man assigns to him an intermediate rank between
carnivorous and herbivorous creatures. The teeth may be said by their
figure and construction to bear a relation with our natural food. The
teeth of flesh-eating animals rise in sharp prominences to seize and
lacerate their prey, and those of the lower jaw shut within those of the
superior one. The herbivorous animals are not armed with these formidable
weapons, but have broad flat surfaces with intermixed plates of enamel,
that they should wear less rapidly in the constant labour of grinding and
triturating. In the carnivorous, the jaws can only move backward and
forward; in the herbivorous their motion is lateral, as observed in the
cow when chewing her cud. Beasts of prey tear and swallow their food in
masses, while in others it undergoes a careful communition before it is
transmitted to the stomach. The teeth of man only resemble those of
carnivorous animals by their enamel being confined to their external
surface, while in the freedom of the motion of the jaws from side to side
they partake of the conformation of the herbivorous. The teeth and jaws of
man are in all respects more similar to those of monkeys than any other
animals; only in some of the simiæ the canine teeth are much longer and
stronger, and denote a carnivorous propensity.

It is to the abuse of this omnivorous faculty that Providence has bestowed
upon mankind, that we owe many of the diseases under which our species
labours. "Multos morbos, multa fercula fecerunt," sayeth Seneca; yet we
are far more temperate in the present age than the ancients during the
period of their boasted high civilization and prosperity. Their excesses
must have been of the most disgusting nature, since, to indulge more
easily in their gluttonous propensities, they had recourse to emetics both
before and after their meals. "Vomunt ut edant, edunt ut vomunt, et epulas
quas toto orbe conquirunt nec concoquere dignantur," was the reproach of
the above-quoted philosopher. Suetonius and Dion Cassius give Vitellius
the credit of having introduced this revolting custom into fashion; and
splendid vessels for the purpose were introduced in their feasts. Martial
alludes to it in the following lines:

  Nec coenat priùs, aut recumbit, antè
  Quam septem vomuit meri deunces.

And Juvenal tells us that the bath was polluted by this incredible act of

  Et crudum pavonem in balneâ portas.

The sums expended by the ancients on their table exceed all belief.
Vitellius expended for that purpose upwards of 3200_l._ daily, and some of
his repasts cost 40,000_l._ At one of them, according to Suetonius, 7000
birds and 2000 fishes were served up. Ælius Verus laid out 600,000
sestertii on one meal; and some of the dishes of Heliogabalus cost about
4000_l._ of our money. The excesses of this monster were such, that
Herodianus affirms that he wanted to ascertain, not only the flavour of
human flesh, but of the most disgusting and nameless substances. The
freaks related of this emperor are scarcely credible; but his gastronomic
profusion may be easily conceived when we find that his very mats were
made with the down of hares or soft feathers found under the wings of
partridges! When such ideas of _enjoyment_ prevailed, can we wonder that
Philoxenus should have wished that he had the throat of a crane, that he
might prolong the delights of eating!

Our early ancestors were remarkable for their frugality, and it is
supposed that luxurious, or, at least, full living was introduced by the
Danes: it has been even asserted that the verb _gormandize_ was derived
from _Gormond_, a Danish king, who was persuaded by Alfred to be baptized.
Erasmus observed that the English were particularly fond of good fare.
William the Conqueror, and Rufus, were in the habit of giving most
splendid entertainments; and the former monarch was such an irascible
epicure, that, upon one occasion, an underdone crane having been served up
by the _master of the cury_, he would have knocked him down but for the
timely interference of his _dapifer_, or purveyor of the mouth. This
office of _dapifer_, with that of _lardrenius_, _magnus coquus_, _coquorum
prepositus_, and _coquus regius_, were high dignitaries in those days.
Cardinal Otto, the pope's legate, being at Oxford in 1238, his brother was
his _magister coquorum_; and the reasons assigned for his holding that
office were his brother's suspicious fears "_ne procuraretur aliquid
venenosum, quod valdè timebat legatus_." These officers were not
unfrequently clergymen, who were elevated to the bench for their valuable

Whatever barbarity the ancients may have shown in preparing their dainty
dishes, none could have surpassed in refinement of cruelty. Their method
of roasting and eating a goose alive, is thus directed: "Take a goose or a
duck, or some such _lively creature_, (but the goose is best of all for
the purpose,) pull off all her feathers, only the head and neck must be
spared; then make a fire round about her, not too close to her, that the
smoke do not choke her, and that the fire may not burn her too soon, nor
too far off, that she may not escape the fire; within the circle of the
fire, let there be small cups and pots full of water, wherein salt and
honey are mingled, and let there be set also chargers full of sodden
apples, cut into small pieces in the dish. The goose must be all larded
and basted over with butter, to make her the more fit to be eaten, and may
roast the better. Put the fire about her but do not make too much haste,
when as you see her begin to roast; for by walking about, and flying here
and there, being cooped in by the fire that stops her way out, the
unscared goose is kept in; she will fall to drink the water to quench her
thirst and cool her heart, and all her body, and the apple sauce will
cleanse and empty her, and when she wasteth, and consumes inwardly, always
wet her head and heart with a wet sponge, and when you see her giddy with
running and begin to stumble, her heart wants moisture, and she is roasted
enough. Take her up and set her before your guest, and she will cry as you
cut off any part from her, and will be almost eaten up before she is dead.
_It is mighty pleasant_ to behold."

Our forefathers were most ingenious in these diabolical fancies, we find
in Portar's Magick the way how to persuade a goose to roast _herself_ if
you have a lack of cooks.

The heroic conduct of French cooks has been recorded in history, and
compared with the noble devotion of the ancients. Vatel, maître d'hôtel of
Louis XIV., put an end to his wretched existence in consequence of fish
not having arrived in time for dinner. On this sad event being reported to
his sovereign, he both praised and blamed his courage; and, to use the
words of Madame de Sevigné, he perished "à force d'avoir de l'honneur à sa
manière; on loua fort et l'on blama son courage." It is strange that
Napoleon should have used the very same expressions when speaking of one
of his most distinguished generals. In more modern times we have heard of
persons who expected that clerical functions should be combined with
various lay duties, as appears by the following curious advertisement in a
late paper:

"Wanted, for a family who have bad health, a sober, steady person, in the
capacity of doctor, surgeon, apothecary, and man-midwife. He must
occasionally act as butler, and dress hair and wigs. He will be required
sometimes to read prayers, and to preach a sermon every Sunday. A good
salary will be given." This was certainly an economical speculation for
the use of soul and body.

Cooks have sometimes been obliged to resort to pious frauds; and it is
related of our Richard Coeur de Lion, that, being very ill during the
holy wars, he took a strange fancy for a bit of pork, but, as no pig could
be procured, a plump Saracen child was roasted as a substitute; and it was
remarked that Richard was ever after partial to pork.

There is little doubt but that our forefathers were harder livers than the
present generation: even within the memory of man, drinking to excess is a
vice seldom observed, excepting in some individuals belonging to the old
school. The hours of refection have been singularly altered; and while our
fashionable circles seldom sit down to table before eight o'clock in the
evening, we find in olden chronicles that even royalty was used to dine at
nine in the morning, more especially upon the Continent. In the Heptæmeron
of the Queen of Navarre we find an account of the manner of spending the

"As soon as the morning rose, they went to the chamber of Madame Oysille,
whom they found already at her prayers; and when they had heard during a
good hour her lecture, and then the mass, they went to dine at ten
o'clock, and afterwards each privately retired to his room, but did not
fail at noon to meet in the meadow. Vespers heard, they went to supper;
and after having played a thousand sports in the meadow they retired to

During the reign of Charles V. of France, the court dined at ten, supped
at seven, and retired to rest at nine. Holinshed gives the following
curious description of our early diet: "Our tables are oftentimes more
plentifully garnished than those of other nations, and this trade has
continued with us since the very beginning; for, before the Romans found
out and knew the way into our country, our predecessors fed largely upon
flesh and milk, whereof there was great abundance in this isle, because
they applied their chief studies unto pasturage and feeding.

"In Scotland, likewise, they have given themselves unto very ample and
large diet, wherein as for some respect nature doth make them equal with
us, so otherwise they far exceed us in over much and distemperate
gormandize, and so engross their bodies, that divers of them do oft become
unapt to any other purpose than to spend their time in large tabling and
belly cheer. In old times these North Britons did give themselves
universally to great abstinence; and in time of war their soldiers would
often feed but once, or twice at the most, in two or three days,
especially if they held themselves in secret, or could have no issue out
of their bogs and morasses, through the presence of an enemy; and in this
distress they used to eat a certain kind of confection, whereof so much as
a bean would qualify their hunger above common expectation. In those days,
also, it was taken for a great offence over all to eat either goose, hare,
or hen, because of a certain superstitious opinion which they had
conceived of these three creatures. Amongst other things, baked meats,
dishes never before this man's (James I.) days seen in Scotland, were
generally so provided for by virtue of this act, that it was not lawful
for any to eat of the same under the degree of a gentleman, and those only
but on high and festival days. In number of dishes and changes of meat,
the nobility of England (whose cooks are for the most part musical-headed
Frenchmen and strangers) do most exceed; sith there is no day in manner
that passeth over their heads, wherein they have not only beef, mutton,
veal, lamb, kid, pork, cony, capon, pig, or so many of these as the season
yieldeth, but also some portion of the red and fallow deer, beside great
variety of fish and wild fowl, and thereto sundry other delicates, wherein
the sweet hand of the seafaring Portingale is not wanting; so that for a
man to dine with one of them, and to taste of every dish that standeth
before him, is rather to yield unto a conspiracy, with a great deal of
meat for the speedy suppression of natural health, than the use of a
necessary mean to satisfy himself with a competent repast, to sustain his
body withal. The chief part, likewise, of their daily provision is brought
in before them commonly in silver vessels, if they be of the degree of
barons, bishops, and upwards, and placed upon their tables; whereof when
they have taken what it pleaseth them, the rest is reserved, and
afterwards sent down to their serving-men and waiters.

"The gentlemen and merchants keep much about one rate, and each of them
contenteth himself with four, five, or six dishes, when they have but
small resort; or, peradventure, with one or two, or three at the most,
when they have no strangers. And yet their servants have their ordinary
diet assigned, besides such as is left at their masters' boards, and not
appointed to be brought thither the second time, which, nevertheless, is
often seen, generally in venison, lamb, or some especial dish whereon the
merchantman himself liketh to feed when it is cold.

"At such times as the merchants do make their ordinary or voluntary
feasts, it is a world to see what great provision is made of all manner of
delicate meats from every quarter of the country, wherein, beside that
they are often comparable herein to the nobility of the land, they will
seldom regard any thing that the butcher usually killeth, but reject the
same as not worthy to come in place. In such cases, also, _geliffes_ of
all colours, mixed with a variety in the representation of sundry flowers,
herbs, trees, forms of beasts, fish, fowls, and fruits; and thereunto
_marchpane_ wrought with no small curiosity, tarts of divers hues and
sundry denominations; conserves of old fruits, foreign and home-bred;
suckets, codiniacs, marmalades, sugar-bread, ginger-bread, florentines,
wild-fowl, venison of all sorts, and sundry outlandish confections,
altogether seasoned with sugar, (which Pliny calls _mel ex arundinibus_, a
device not common nor greatly used in old times at the table, but only in
medicine, although it grew in Arabia, India, and Sicilia,) do generally
bear the sway, besides infinite devices of our own not possible for me to
remember. Of the potato, and such _venerous_ roots as are brought out of
Spain, Portingale, and the Indies, to furnish our banquets, I speak not,
wherein our _Mures_, of no less force, and to be had about Crosby
Ravenswath, do now begin to have place.

"And as all estates do exceed in strangeness and number of costly dishes,
so these forget not to use the like excess in wine, insomuch as there is
no kind to be had (neither any where more store of all sorts than in
England, although we have none growing with us; but yearly the proportion
of twenty or thirty thousand tun and upwards, notwithstanding the daily
restraints on the same brought over to us) whereof at great meetings there
is not some store to be had. Neither do I mean this of small wines only,
such as claret, white, red, French, &c. which amount to about fifty-six
sorts, according to the number of regions from whence they come; but also
of the thirty kinds of Italian, Grecian, Spanish, Canarian, &c., whereof
_Vernage_, _Cate-pument_, _Raspis_, _Muscadell_, _Romnie_, _Bastard Fire_,
_Osey_, _Caprike_, claret, and malmsey, are not least of all accounted of,
because of their strength and value. For as I have said of meat, so, the
stronger the wine is, the more it is desired, by means thereof in old
times, the best was called _Theologicum_ because it was had from the
clergy and religious men, unto whose houses many of the laity would often
send for bottles filled with the same, being sure that they would neither
drink nor be served of the worst, or such as was any ways mingled or
brewed by the vintner; nay, the merchant would have thought that his soul
should have gone straightways to the devil, if he should have served him
with any other than the best. Furthermore, when they have had their course
which nature yieldeth, sundry sorts of artificial stuff, as _ypocras_ and
wormwood wine, must in like manner succeed in turns, besides stale ale and
strong beer, which nevertheless bears the greatest brunt in drinking, and
are of so many sorts and ages as it pleaseth the brewer to make.

"In feasting, the artisans do exceed after their manner, especially at
bridals, purifications of women, and such like odd meetings, where it is
incredible to tell what meat is consumed and spent; each one bringing such
a dish, or so many as his wife and he do consult upon, but always with
this consideration, that the _leefer_ (the more liberal) friend shall have
the best entertainment. This is also commonly seen at these banquets, that
the good man of the house is not charged with any thing, saving bread,
drink, house-room, and fire.

"Heretofore there hath been much more time spent in eating and drinking
than commonly is in these days; for whereas of old we had breakfasts in
the forenoon, _beverages_ or _nuntions_ after dinner, and thereto _rere
suppers_, generally when it was time to go to rest (a toy brought in by
Hard Canutus), now these odd repasts, thanked be God! are very well left,
and each one in manner (except here and there some young hungry stomach
that cannot fast till dinner-time contenteth himself with dinner and
supper only). The Normans, disliking the gormandize of Canutus, ordained,
after their arrival, that no table should be covered above once in the
day; which Huntingdon imputeth to their avarice: but, in the end, either
waxing weary of their own frugality, or suffering the cockle of old custom
to overgrow the good corn of their new constitution, they fell to such
liberty, that in often feeding they surmounted Canutus surnamed the Hardy;
for whereas he covered his table but three or four times in the day, they
spread their cloths five or six times, and in such wise as I before
rehearsed. They brought in also the custom of long and stately sitting at
meat, which is not yet left, although it be a great expense of time, and
worthy reprehension; for the nobility and gentlemen, and merchantmen,
especially at great meetings, do sit commonly till two or three of the
clock at afternoon, so that with many it is an hard matter to rise from
the table to go to evening prayer, and return from thence to come time
enough to supper."

The early prevalence of drinking in England seems to have been derived
from our foreign intercourse. In the reign of Elizabeth and James I. we
find various statutes against ebriety.

Tom Nash, in his "Pierce Pennilesse" says, "Superfluity in drink is a sin
that ever since we have mixed ourselves with the Low Countries is counted
honourable; but, before we knew their lingering wars, was held in that
highest degree of hatred that might be. Then, if we had seen a man go
wallowing in the streets, or lain sleeping under the board, we should have
spit at him, and warned all our friends out of his company."

According to our laws intoxication is looked upon as an aggravation of any
offence. Sir Edward Coke calls a drunkard _voluntarius dæmon_. The Romans
thought differently: with them intoxication was often deemed an
extenuation of guilt, "Per vinum delapsis capitalis poena remittitur."
The Greeks, more severe, had a law of Pittacus that enacted the infliction
of a double punishment on those who committed a crime when drunk.

That hard drinking was introduced from Flanders and Holland, and other
northern countries, seems probable from the derivation of many of the
expressions used in carousing. The phrase of being "half-seas over," as
applied to a state of drunkenness, originated from _op zee_, which in
Dutch meant _over sea_; and Gifford informs us that it was a name given
to a stupifying beer introduced in England from the Low Countries, and
called _op zea_; thus Jonson in the Alchemist:

  I do not like the dulness of your eye;
  It hath a heavy cast, 'tis _up see Dutch_.

An inebriating draught was also called an _up see freeze_, from the strong
_Friesland_ beer. The word "carouse," according to Gifford and Blount, is
derived from the name of a large glass, called by the Danes _ruuse_, or
from the German words _gar_, _all_, and _ausz out_: hence drink _all out_.

Nash, in the work above quoted, says, "Now he is nobody that cannot drink
_super nagulum_, carouse the hunters' _hoope_, quaff _upsee freze crosse_,
with healths, gloves, mumpes, frolickes, and a thousand such domineering
inventions." The origin of these slang terms is not quite evident.
Drinking _super nagulum_, or on the nail, was a northern custom which
consisted in only leaving one drop in the cup, which was poured upon the
thumb-nail, to prove that justice had been done to the potation or toast;
and that, to use the language of modern drinkers, the glass was _cleared_.
This custom is alluded to by Bishop Hall in his "Mundus alter et idem," in
which the Duke of Tenderbelly exclaims, "'Let never this goodly-formed
goblet of wine go jovially through me:' and then he set it to his mouth,
stole it off every drop, save a little remainder, which he was by custom
to set upon his thumb's nail and lick it off." In Fletcher we find the

  I am thine _ad unguem_;

which meant he was ready to drink with him to this extent. The term _hoop_
alludes to the marks of hoops being traced upon drinking-pots to point out
certain measures. Jack Cade says, "The three-hooped pot shall have ten
hoops, and I will make it felony to drink small beer!" Hence probably the
common saying of "drinking deep," or to the last hoop. The _peg tankard_
was another measured vessel used in the jollifications of our forefathers,
and is still to be found in some parts of England, more especially in
Derbyshire. Pegge in his "Anonymiana," thus describes them: "They have in
the inside a row of eight pins, one above the other, from top to bottom;
the tankard holds two quarts, so that there is a gill of ale between each
peg or pin. The first person who drank was to empty to the first peg, the
second was to drink to the next, and so on; by which means the pegs were
so many measures to the compotators, making them all drink alike or the
same quantity." In Archbishop Anselm's Canons made in the council at
London in 1102, priests are enjoined not to go to drinking-bouts, nor to
_drink pegs_: "Ut presbyteri non eant ad potationes, nec ad _pinnas_

_Gloves_, also called _shoeing-horns_, were relishes to encourage
drinking, like our modern _devils_, introduced for a similar purpose.
Bishop Hall says in his description of a carousal, "Then comes me up a
service of _shoeing-horns_ of all sorts,--salt cakes, red-herrings,
anchovies, and gammon of bacon, and abundance of such _pullers on_."
Massinger thus describes these incentives:

                                  I usher
  Such an unexpected dainty bit for breakfast
  As never yet I cooked; 'tis not _botargo_,
  Fried frogs, potatoes marrow'd, cavear,
  Carps' tongues, the pith of an English chine of beef,
  Nor our Italian delicate oil'd mushrooms,
  And yet a _drawer on too_; and if you show not
  An appetite, and a strong one, I'll not say
  To eat it, but devour it, without grace too,
  (For it will not stay a preface,) I am shamed,
  And all my past provocatives will be jeer'd at.

The _botargo_ was a relish made of mullet's roes, and highly seasoned,
much in use among the Italians.

Amongst many other curious frolics of hard drinkers, we find the use of
what they called _flap-dragons_, or _snap-dragon_, which consisted in
igniting combustible substances, which were swallowed while floating on
the glass of liquor. Johnson describes them "a play in which they catch
raisins out of burning brandy, and, extinguishing them by closing the
mouth, eat them." This prank is not uncommon to the present day in
boarding-schools in certain festive entertainments of the _young ladies_.

Drunkenness being considered a beastly propensity, its gradations were
fixed by animal comparisons. In a curious treatise on drunkards by George
Gascoigne, we find the following illustration of these degrees: "The first
is _ape-drunk_, and he leaps and sings and hallos and danceth for the
hearers; the second is _lion-drunk_, and he flings the pots about the
house, calls the hostess w----, breaks the glass windows with his dagger,
and is apt to quarrel with any man that speaks to him; the third is
_swine-drunk_, heavy, lumpish, and sleepy, and cries for a little more
drink and a few more clothes; the fourth is _sheep-drunk_, wise in his own
conceit, when he cannot bring forth a right word; the fifth is
_maudlin-drunk_, when a fellow will weep for kindness in the midst of his
drink, and kiss you, saying, 'By G--! Captain, I love thee! Go thy ways;
thou dost not think so often of me as I do of you; I would I could not
love thee so well as I do!' and then he puts his finger in his eye and
cries; the sixth is _martin-drunk_, when a man is drunk, and drinks
himself sober ere he stir; the seventh is _goat-drunk_, when in
drunkenness he hath no mind but in lechery; the eighth is _fox-drunk_,
when he is crafty drunk, as many of the Dutchmen be, which will never
bargain but when they are drunk. All these species, and more, I have seen
practised _in one company at one sitting_."

Drunkenness has at various periods been resorted to in religious and
political fervour. Daring the usurpation of Cromwell, the Cavaliers were
wont to drink their king's health in bumpers of wine in which some crumbs
of bread had been thrown, exclaiming, "God send this _crum-well_ down!"
and Whitelocke, in his Memorials, records the following barbarous
Catilinian orgies: "Five drunkards agree to drink the king's health in
their blood, and that each of them should cut out a piece of his buttock,
and fry it upon the gridiron, which was done by four of them, of whom one
did bleed so exceedingly that they were fain to send for a chirurgeon, and
so were discovered. The wife of one of them, hearing that her husband was
amongst them, came to the room, and, taking up a pair of tongs, laid about
her, and so saved the cutting of her husband's flesh."

The laws enacted to prevent drunkenness at various periods and by
different governments, are curious. Domitian ordered all the vine-plants
in the Roman territory to be rooted out. Charles IX. of France issued a
similar edict. In 1536, under Francis I, a law was passed sentencing
drunkards to imprisonment on bread and water for the first offence; a
public whipping punished a second infringement; and, on reiteration,
banishment and the loss of ears. The ancients, equally aware of the danger
that arose from intoxication, were also anxious to prevent it. Draco
inflicted capital punishments. Lycurgus destroyed the vineyards. The
Athenians had officers, named _ophthalmos_, to prevent excesses in liquor
drinking. In Rome, patricians were not allowed the use of wine until they
had attained their thirty-fifth year. Wine was only drunk pure in the
beginning of sober repasts in honour of _Deus Sospes_, and afterwards
mixed with water in honour of _Jupiter Servator_. Notwithstanding these
wise examples in support of prudent precepts, it appears that drunkenness
was a common vice amongst the Romans. Tiberius was surnamed _Biberius_;
and it was said of the parasite Bibulus, "dum vixit, aut bibit aut
minxit." Aurelianus had officers of his household whose duty was to
intoxicate foreign ambassadors; and Cato's partiality for the juice of the
grape has been recorded by Horace,

  Narratur et prisci Catonis
  Sæpe mero caluisse virtus.

In the middle ages, drinking was resorted to by the monks as a religious
libation; and they also drank to the dead, a custom which was condemned as
idolatrous. These excesses were restrained by various regulations, and in
817 the quantity of wine allowed each monk was fixed at five pints.
Charlemagne, in his Capitularies, forbids the provocation of drinking
healths and hob-nobbing (_pléger et trinquer_). Temperance societies are
not modern institutions. In 1517, Sigismund de Dietrichstein established
one under the auspices of St. Christopher; a similar association was
formed in 1600 by Maurice Duke of Hesse, which, however, allowed a knight
to drink seven _bocaux_, or glasses, at each meal, but only twice in the
day. The size of these _bocaux_ is not recorded, but no doubt it was an
endeavour to obtain a comparative condition of sobriety. Another temperate
society, under the name of the Golden Ring, was instituted by Frederic V.
Count Palatine.

Whether the influence of temperate societies or their advocates will tend
to diminish the consumption of wine and spirituous liquors in the British
empire, it is difficult to say. Hitherto every act of interference, either
from individuals or on the part of the legislature, has proved not only
abortive, but has increased the evil it was intended to remedy. The
imposition of heavy duties only threw the distillation of spirits into the
hands of illicit speculators instead of respectable capitalists; and, as
M'Culloch justly remarks, "superadded the atrocities of the smuggler to
the idleness and dissipation of the drunkard." During the latter part of
the reign of George I. and the earlier period of George II. gin-drinking
was so prevalent, that it was denounced from the pulpit and the press. At
length ministers determined to make a vigorous effort to put a stop to the
further use of spirituous liquors except as a cordial or medicine. To
accomplish this end, a duty of twenty shillings was laid on spirits,
exclusive of a heavy licence duty to retailers, while a fine of 100_l._
was levied on all defaulters. But instead of the anticipated effects,
this act produced results directly opposite: the respectable dealers
withdrew from a trade proscribed by the legislature; and the sale of
spirits fell into the hands of the lowest and most profligate characters.
The officers of the revenue were hunted down by the populace, and did not
dare to enforce the law; and Tindal, in his Continuation of Rapin, says,
"within two years of the passing of this act, it had become so odious and
contemptible, that policy as well as humanity forced the commissioners of
excise to mitigate its penalties." During these two years twelve thousand
persons were convicted of offences connected with the sale of spirits,
while no exertion could check the torrent of smuggling, and seven millions
of gallons illicitly distilled were annually consumed in London and its
environs. Our present consumption of British, Colonial and Foreign spirits
is immense, but not equal to what it was at the period alluded to. The
following is the account of this consumption in 1832:

  In England,  1,530,988 imperial gallons, Foreign.
               3,377,507        "          Colonial.
               7,259,287        "          British.
  In Scotland,    69,236     gallons,      Foreign.
                 112,026        "          Colonial.
               5,407,097        "          British.
  In Ireland,     33,413        "          Foreign.
                  24,432        "          Colonial.
               8,657,756        "          British.

In that year, 1832, the total amount of spirits that paid duty in the
United Kingdom was 2,646,258 gallons, yielding a revenue of 8,483,247_l._
In the same year the appearance and dread of the cholera produced a
singular increase in the consumption of brandy. In the preceding year,
1831, the entries for home use in England had amounted to 1,194,717
gallons; but during this state of alarm, it increased to 1,508,924; in
1833, the danger having subsided, the consumption declined to its former
level, and did not exceed 1,356,620 gallons.

From the above observations it may be inferred, that no penal enactments,
no denunciations of canting senators or fanatic preachers, will ever
succeed in checking the evils which must arise from excesses in the use of
spirituous liquors. Gluttony and drunkenness can only be combated by the
salutary effects of good example held out by the superior classes of
society; by a gradual improvement in the moral education of the lower
grades, for whom salutary amusements should be procured when a cheerful
repose from their weekly labour will no longer be considered a breach of
the sabbath. Diffusion of knowledge and habits of industry will do more
than sanctimonious admonitions, and the Penny Magazines may be considered
more hostile to gin-drinking than the ranting of pseudo-saints.

In regard to the quantity that we should eat, no rules can be established,
as individuals differ widely from each other, both as to their capacity
and their inclination. Mr. Abernethy maintained, that it would be well if
the public would follow the advice of Mr. Addison, given in the Spectator,
of reading the writings of L. Cornaro, who, having a weak constitution,
which he seemed to have ruined by intemperance, so that he was expected to
die at the age of 32, did at that period adopt a strict regimen, allowing
himself only 12 ounces daily. To this remark Dr. Paris very properly
observes, "When I see the habits of Cornaro so incessantly introduced as
an example for imitation, and as the standard of dietetic perfection, I am
really inclined to ask with Feggio, 'Did God create Lewis Cornaro to be a
rule for all mankind in what they were to eat and drink?'"

In regard to the dyspeptic, Dr. Philips has given the very best advice in
the following paragraph:

"The dyspeptic should carefully attend to the first feeling of satiety.
There is a moment when the relish given by the appetite ceases; a single
mouthful taken after this oppresses a weak stomach. If he eats slowly and
carefully attends to this feeling, he will never overload the stomach." To
this Dr. Paris adds, "Let him remember to _eat slowly_." "This is an
important condition--for when we eat too fast we introduce a greater
quantity of food into the stomach than the gastric juice can at once
combat with; the consequence of which is, that hunger may continue for
some time after the stomach has received more than would be sufficient,
under the circumstances, to induce satiety."

The introduction of French cookery in every part of England amongst the
wealthy will render attention to dietetic rules still more important than
in former days; although Dean Swift, in his time, observed, "That modern
epicurism had become so prevalent, that the world must be encompassed,
before a washerwoman can sit down to breakfast."


Innumerable are the diseases that arise from our busy fancy. We are all
subject to the tyrannic sway of imagination's empire. Under this mighty
influence man displays energies which lead him boldly to dare danger and
complicated sufferings, or he is reduced to the most degraded state of
miserable despondency. These diseases are the more fearful, since they
rarely yield to physical aid, and it is seldom that moral influence is
sufficiently persuasive to combat their inveteracy. It is idle to tell the
timid hypochondriac that he is not ill; the mere circumstance of his
believing himself sick, constitutes a serious disorder. His constant
apprehensions derange his functions until an organic affection arises. The
patient who fancies that he labours under an affection of the heart
disturbs the circulation, which is ever influenced by our moral emotions,
till at last this disturbance occasions the very malady which he dreaded.
These aberrations of the mind arise from various causes,--mental emotions,
constitution, climate, diet, hereditary disposition, education. Tertullian
called philosophy and medicine twin sisters; both may become powerful
agents in controlling our imagination.

The ancients have variously endeavoured to determine the seat of this
faculty. Aristotle placed it in the heart, which, from the sense of its
oppression observed in acute moral sufferings he considered the origin of
our nerves, or sensorium. Avicenus and other philosophers located
imagination in the anterior portion of the brain, which he called the
_prow_; memory in the posterior part, which he denominated the _poop_, and
judgment in the centre of the organ, or what mariners would term
_mid-ship_. The notions of Gall and Spurzheim had long since been
anticipated by philosophers and physicians, both in regard to the division
of the cerebral organ, and the external appearance of the cranium, which
denoted their preponderancy. That temperature exercises a powerful
influence over our mental faculties is evident. In warm climates we find a
greater exaltation of the mind, more enthusiasm and vivid emotion, than in
northern latitudes. The East is the land of fancy, illustrated by their
wondrous tales of fiction, and their vivid and fantastic imagery,
displayed in the chimeras and the arabesques of their palaces and temples.
In these regions all the passions are uncontrollable and wild. Love is
characterized by furious or dark jealousy, according to the rank and
power of the lover; and ambition is signalized by bloodthirsty and
promiscuous barbarity. No opposition can be brooked: man is either a
ferocious tyrant, or an abject slave; subjection alone preventing the
oppressed from being as sanguinary as the oppressor. Government is
despotism, and religion fatality and fanaticism. In northern climes, on
the contrary, every thing is cold and calculating. The almighty passion of
love may prevail; but its demonstrations are morose, concentrated,
although not less ferocious than under a southern sky. In the one country,
man seeks the dark shelter of the forest, and the solitude of the
mountain, to ponder over his grievances, or soliloquise on his sufferings;
in the other he courts the roseate bower and the orange grove, to lull him
into a soft repose which may calm his feelings by temporary oblivion, to
be roused again to action by the stimulus of opium, tobacco, and a burning
sun. The ancients were so fully convinced of this influence of the
amorphous constitution, that Lucianus tells us that the Abderites (a
people so remarkable for their stupidity and sluggishness that _Abderitica
mens_ was proverbial), having witnessed the performance of one of
Euripides's plays under the fierce solar rays, became fired with such
enthusiasm, that they ran about the streets in a wild phrensy, repeating
aloud his sublime verses, until the coolness of the evening restored them
to reason and to their native torpor. So predominant are these feelings,
which owe their character to climate, that they regulate our ideas of a
future state, as well as our conduct on earth. The paradise of the
Mohammedan is a blessed region of everlasting pleasure and sensual
enjoyments; beauteous houris await the soul, which is to luxuriate in
corporeal voluptuousness; and the purple wine, forbidden to the living, is
to flow in delectable streams, to delight the dead, who may, in the
seventh paradise inhabit a land where rivers of wine, and milk, and honey,
are ever flowing; where evergreen trees bend under luxurious fruits, whose
very pips are transformed into lovely maidens, so sweet--to use their own
metaphorical language--that the ocean would lose its bitterness if they
did but condescend to spit in its briny waters; and all these enjoyments
are secured to the true believer by hosts of guardian angels, who have
seventy thousand mouths, and seventy thousand tongues, to praise God
seventy thousand times each day in seventy thousand languages: and such is
their horror of earthly heat, that in the other world one of the greatest
rewards is the delight of being able to sleep under the cool shade of a
tree each leaf of which is of such an expanse that a man might travel
fifty thousand years under its benign protection. How different is the
paradise of Odin! There, it is true, the soul of the departed dwells in
magnificent palaces; but what are his enjoyments compared to those of the
sensual Asiatic! Instead of soft music, the din of war is constantly to
resound in his ear, while he luxuriates in drinking strong beer and
hydromel, poured by the fair Valknas, the houris of the Vahalla paradise,
into the skulls of his enemies. Their God is called the god of crows; and
two of these sable familiars, _Hugin_, who represents the mind, and
_Nunnin_, or memory, are constantly perched upon his shoulders, until they
take flight to seek information for their master.

To this day it is said that the Tartars fancy, that, in their future abode
of bliss, their reward will be a sort of Platonic affection, and a
perpetual and undisturbed state of meditation; in short, a celestial _far
niente_. So convinced were the ancients of this effect of peculiar
temperature, that the morose Heraclitus maintained that the power of the
mind arose from a _dry splendour_; that all things were created by solar
heat; and when ill himself, he sought health by endeavouring to dispel
watery accumulations by the heat of a dunghill. Ptolemy and Posidonius
assert, that southern climes engender genius and wit, and are better
calculated for the study of things divine; and Plato, Hippocrates, and
Galen, on the same principle, affirm that stupidity and forgetfulness are
produced by cold and humidity. The celebrated Descartes, in his younger
days, states that he felt his enthusiasm moderated by the damps and cold
of Holland; and that he ever experienced more facility in pursuing his
philosophic studies in winter than in summer. Poets, on the contrary,
court the glowing rays of an inspiring sun, and their Phoebus and their
Apollo is the conductor and the inspirer of the Muses:

  Cynthius aurem vellit et admonuit.

That the energies of our intellectual faculties are under the influence of
our food, is a fact long since observed. The stupidity of the athletæ, who
lived upon coarse bread (coliphium) and underdone meat, was proverbial;
even Hercules laboured under the imputation of a mind somewhat obtuse. Our
genius, our energies are all affected by our mode of living. The rule of
_Sanis omnia sana_, of Celsus, is applicable to very few individuals; and
all our faculties may be rendered more keen or less vivid by temperance or
excesses. As the nature of our _ingesta_ influences the functions of our
digestive organs, so do these organs in their turn influence our moral
powers when our physical energies are elevated or depressed. Our courage,
our strength of mind, our religious and our moral train of thinking, are
under the control of diet. Fasting has ever been considered as
predisposing to meditation and ascetic contemplation. Tertullian tells us,
that we should approach the altars fasting, or having eaten nothing but
dry substances. All the religious ceremonies of the Egyptians were
preceded by abstinence, and their sacrificators were allowed neither
animal food nor wine. Indeed, the Egyptian priesthood were remarkable for
their abstinence and self-denial, fearful, according to Plutarch, that
"the body should not sit light upon the soul." Similar precautions were
observed with animals, and the ox apis was not allowed to drink the waters
of the Nile, as they were considered of a gross and fattening nature; even
upon festive days they observed a similar moderation. It was customary, on
the 9th day of the month Thoth, for every one to eat fried fish at their
doors--the priests only conformed to the custom by burning theirs at the
appointed time. In general they abstained from most sorts of pulse,
especially beans and lentils, onions, garlic, leeks, mutton, pork; and on
certain days of purification, even salt was forbidden. Many of their fasts
lasted from seven to forty-two days, during which time they abstained
entirely from animal food, from herbs and vegetables, and the indulgence
of any passion. Similar privations were observed by all those who attended
the mysteries of Juno and Ceres. In Holy Writ we find that it was after
abstinence that Divine inspiration illumined the elect. The angel appeared
unto Daniel after he had been three weeks without tasting flesh, or wine,
or "pleasant bread." In the Acts, x., we find that the vision appeared to
Peter, "when he had become hungry and would have eaten." Moses fasted
forty days on Mount Sinai. We find in Jonah, that even cattle were
frequently subject to this mortification, when he proclaimed in Nineveh
that neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, should taste any thing; "let
them not feed nor drink water." Congius Ripensis tells us, that the same
restriction was imposed by the Lacedæmonians on their Helots and all
domestic animals. Fasting was considered by the early Christians as an
essential rite. St. Anthony prescribed to his disciples one meal of dry
bread, salt and water, in the day without any food on Wednesdays and
Fridays. In the monastery of Mocham, in Egypt, a monk of the name of Jonas
was beatified for having lived until the age of eighty-five, working hard
in the garden, and without any other food than raw herbs and grass steeped
in vinegar; this abstemious cenobite added to his claims to canonization
by always sleeping in his chair. St. Hilarius only ate fifteen figs and
six ounces of barley bread _per diem_. St. Julian Sabus retired to a
cavern, where he only luxuriated once in the week on millet-bread, with
salt and water; and St. Macarius resolved to outdo him by restraining his
sustenance to a few cabbage-leaves every Sunday. Not only did these
gastric martyrs attribute their holy visions to abstinence, but they
considered it as the source of their longevity. Thus, St. Anthony lived to
the age of one hundred and five; St. Paphinus to ninety on dry bread; and
St. Paul the Hermit thrived for one hundred and fifty-nine years upon
dates. It is not derogatory to their supposed divine mission to say that
all these men were as enthusiastic as the fakirs of the east.

So acceptable to the Deity was starvation considered, that at various
periods it was enforced by penal laws. Charlemagne denounces the
punishment of death on all those who transgressed in this respect; and, by
an old Polish edict, any sinner who ate on a fast-day was sentenced to
have all his teeth drawn. However, monkish ingenuity endeavoured to elude
these severe enactments, by interpreting the letter instead of the spirit;
and we find, in the regulations of a German monastery, the following
accommodation, "_Liquidum non frangit jejunium_," by which, on days of
penance, the monks only took rich soups and succulent broth. In latter
days, being permitted to eat fish in Lent, they saw no reason why fowl
should not be included, on the authority of Genesis, that the waters
brought forth every winged fowl after his kind. This relaxation in
culinary discipline called forth loud indignation from many prelates. St.
Ambrosius attributes the profligacy of the monks to these excesses; and
Tertullian considers the fall of the Israelites as the punishment of their
neglect in this respect. Our Shakspeare illustrates this belief in the
influence of fasting as preparatory to inspiration.

  Last night the very gods shew'd me a vision--
  I _fast_ and pray'd for their intelligence.

Not satisfied with this mystification in food, we find some austere monks
endeavouring to reduce carnal appetites by other means, such as by
blood-letting, _monialem minuere_; and claustral flesh was brought down by
phlebotomy and purging at regular periods. To this day we find that
well-behaved Turks, during the Ramasan, make it a godly point never to
swallow their saliva.

This digression on fasting was somewhat necessary, to show how much our
diet tends to modify our being. It is well known that troops will display
more activity and courage when fasting than after a meal; and an ingenious
physician of our day is perfectly correct when he attributes a daring
spirit or a pusillanimous feeling to the influence of our stomach.

Intellectual weakness, frequently brought on by excesses, has proved a
rich source to empiricism; hence the belief in mystic and supernatural
agencies, and the power of certain nostrums. Coloured fountain water and
bread pills have made the fortune of various quacks, when imaginary cures
have relieved imaginary diseases. In our days, numerous have been the
recoveries attributed to Hohenloe's prayers. Trusting to mystic numbers,
three, five, seven, or nine pills have produced effects, when other
numbers less fortunate would have failed. To this hour mankind, even in
enlightened nations, are fettered by these absurd trammels. Credulity, and
superstition her twin sister, have in all ages been the source whence
priestcraft, and quackery have derived their wealth. Next to these rich
mines we may rank fashion. The adoption of any particular medicine by
princes and nobles will endow it with as great a power as that which was
supposed to be vested in regal hands in the cure of scrofula, hence called
_king's evil_; and we have too many instances of such cures having been
effected by a monarch's touch to doubt the fact. The history of the potato
is a strong illustration of the influence of authority: for more than two
centuries the use of this invaluable plant was vehemently opposed; at
last, Louis XV. wore a bunch of its flowers in the midst of his courtiers,
and the consumption of the root became universal in France. The warm bath,
so highly valued by the Romans, once fell into disrepute, because the
Emperor Augustus had been cured by a cold one, which for a time was
invariably resorted to. Thus Horace exclaims,

  ----Caput ac stomachum supponere fontibus audent
  Clusinis, Gabiosque petunt et frigida rura.

Unfortunately, the means which had relieved Augustus killed his nephew
Marcellus; and the _Laconicum_ and the _Tepidarium_ were again crowded
with the "fashion."

Persecution and its prohibitions have also been most powerful in working
upon our imagination. Rare and forbidden fruits will always be considered
more desirable than those we can easily obtain. The history of tobacco is
a striking instance of this influence of difficulty upon the mind of man.
Pope Urban VIII. prohibited its use in any shape, under the penalty of
excommunication. It was afterwards forbidden in Russia, under the pain of
having the offender's nose cut off. In some cantons of Switzerland the
prohibition was introduced in the decalogue, next to the commandment
against adultery. Amurath IV. ordered all persons taken in _flagranti
delicto_ smoking tobacco, to be impaled, on the principle that its use
checked the progress of population. The denunciation of our James I. may
be considered as a masterpiece of the imaginary horrors attributed to this
obnoxious weed. "It is," he says, "a custome loathsome to the eye,
hatefull to the nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the lungs, and
in the black stinking fume thereof neerest resembling the horrible Stygian
smoake of the pit that is bottomlesse." During the reign of this monarch
such a restriction might have been necessary, unless the consumption of
tobacco enriched the exchequer: for it appears that some _amateurs_
consumed no less than £500 per annum in smoke. Surely we should reap some
flourishing revenue from fashion and credulity, when we find our
government awarding £5000 to a _certain_ Johanna Stephens for her
discovery of _certain_ medicines for the cure of _calculi_! The same
imaginary hope induced many a credulous creature to minister to the
necessities of another Johanna, for _certain_ expectations. Alas! how this
indefinite _sense_ exhibits the infinite folly of poor humanity!

A morbid imagination, although frequently the source of much misery, will
prove in many cases the fountain-head of many noble qualities; its
exaltation constitutes genius, which is, in fact, a natural disposition of
individual organization sometimes bordering upon insanity. "_Non est
magnum ingenium sine mixturâ dementiæ_," says Seneca; and Montaigne
observes, "De quoi se fait la plus subtile folie que de la plus subtile
sagesse? il n'y a qu'un demi-tour à passer de l'une à l'autre." Aristotle
asserts that all the great men of his time were melancholy and
hypochondriac. The ancient and eastern nations entertained a singular idea
regarding men of innate genius, and possessed of more than common
attributes; they fancied that they were the first-born, and the offsprings
of illicit love: Zoroaster, Confucius, Mahomet, Vishnou, were born of
virgins; and Theseus, Hercules, Castor and Pollux, and Romulus, were all

So prone is a lively imagination to a derangement of the intellectual
harmony, that the greatest care should be taken during the youthful
development to resort to a sound and proper exercise. The constant
tendency to wild and supernatural visions, the disregard of every daily
and vulgar matter of fact consideration, soaring in regions of fiction,
should engage our incessant vigilance, such a state of mind, as
Abercrombie justly observes, "tends in a most material manner to prevent
the due exercise of those nobler powers which are directed towards the
cultivation both of science and of virtue," and Foster has thus
beautifully illustrated this subject in his essays.

"The influence of this habit of dwelling on the beautiful fallacious forms
of imagination, will accompany the mind into the most serious speculations
or rather musings, on the real world, and what is to be done in it and
expected; as the image which the eye acquires from looking at any dazzling
object, still appears before it wherever it turns. The vulgar materials,
that constitute the actual economy of the world, will rise up to its sight
in fictitious forms, which it cannot disenchant into plain reality, nor
will ever suspect to be deceptive. It cannot go about with sober, rational
inspection and ascertain the nature and value of all things around it--in
that paradise it walks delighted, till some imperious circumstance of real
life call it thence, and gladly escapes thither again when the avocation
is past. If a tenth part of the felicities that have been enjoyed, the
great actions that have been performed, the beneficial institutions that
have been established, and the beautiful objects that have been seen in
that happy region, could have been imported into this terrestial
place!--what a delightful thing the world would have been to awake each
morning to see such a world once more!"

Of the miseries the hypochondriacs experience the following extract of a
letter to a physician will afford a specimen: "My poor body is a burning
furnace, my nerves red-hot coals, my blood is boiling oil; all sleep has
fled, and I am suffering martyrdom. I am in agony when I lie on my back; I
cannot lie on either side; and I endure excruciating torture when I seek
relief by lying on my stomach; and, to add to my misery, I can neither
sit, stand, nor walk." The fancies of hypochondriacs are frequently of the
most extraordinary nature: one patient imagines that he is in such a state
of obesity as to prevent his passing through the door of his chamber or
his house; another impressed with the idea that he is made of glass, will
not sit down for fear of cracking; a third seems convinced that his head
is empty; and an intelligent American, holding a high judicial seat in our
West Indian colonies, could not divest himself of the occasional
conviction of his being transformed into a turtle.

The most melancholy record of the miseries of hypochondriacism is to be
found in the diary of Dr. Walderstein of Gottingen. He was a man much
deformed in person, and his mind seemed as distorted as his body. Although
of deep learning and research, and convinced of the absurdity of his
impressions, yet he was unable to resist their baneful influence. "My
misfortune," says the doctor, "is, that I never exist in this world, but
rather in possible combinations created by my imagination to my
conscience. They occupy a large portion of my time, and my reason has not
the power to banish them. My malady, in fact, is the faculty of extracting
poison from every circumstance in life; so much so that I often felt the
most wretched being because I had not been able to sneeze three times
together. One night when I was in bed I felt a sudden fear of fire, and
gradually became as much oppressed by imaginary heat as though my room
were in flames. While in this situation, a fire-bell in the neighbourhood
sounded, and added to my intense sufferings. I do not blush at what might
be called my superstition any more than I should blush in acknowledging
that my senses inform me that the earth does not move. My error forms the
_body_ of my judgment, and I thank God that he has given it a _soul_
capable of correcting it. When I have been perfectly free from pain, as is
not unfrequently the case when I am in bed, my sense of this happiness has
brought tears of gratitude in my eyes. I once dreamt," adds Walderstein,
"that I was condemned to be burnt alive. I was very calm, and reasoned
coolly during the execution of my sentence. 'Now,' I said to myself, 'I am
burning, but not yet burnt; and by-and-by I shall be reduced to a cinder.'
This was all I thought, and I did nothing but think. When, upon awaking, I
reflected upon my dream, I was by no means pleased with it, for I was
afraid I should become _all thought and no feeling_." It is strange that
this fear of thought, assuming a corporeal form in deep affliction, had
occurred to our poet Rowe, when he exclaims in the Fair Penitent, "_Turn
not to thought my brain_." "What is very distressing," continues the
unfortunate narrator, "is, that when I am ill I can think nothing, feel
nothing, without bringing it home to myself. It seems to me that the whole
world is a mere machine, expressly formed to make me feel my sufferings in
every possible manner." What a fearful avowal from a reflecting and
intelligent man! Does it not illustrate Rousseau's definition of
reason--_the knowledge of our folly_.

Dr. Rush mentions a man who imagined that he had a Caffre in his stomach
who had got into it at the Cape of Good Hope, and tormented him ever
since. Pinel relates the case of an unfortunate man who believed that he
had been guillotined, but his innocence having been made complete after
his execution, his judges decided that his head should be restored to him,
but the person intrusted with this operation had made a mistake, and put
on a wrong head. Dr. Conolly knew a man who really believed that he had
been hanged, but had been brought to life by galvanism, but he maintained
that this operation had not restored the whole of his vitality.

Jacobi relates the case of a man confined in the lunatic asylum at
Wurtzburg, in other respects rational, of quiet, discreet habits, so that
he was employed in the domestic business of the house, but who laboured
under the impression that there was a person concealed in his stomach,
with whom he held frequent conversations. He often perceived the absurdity
of this idea, and grieved in acknowledging and reflecting that he was
under the influence of so groundless a persuasion, but he never could get
rid of it. "It was very curious to observe," adds our intelligent author,
"how, when he had but an instant before cried what nonsense!--is it not
intolerable to be thus deluded? and while the tears which accompanied
these exclamations were yet in his eyes, he again began to talk,
apparently with entire conviction about the person in his belly who told
him that he was to marry a great princess. An attempt was made to cure
him, by putting a large blister on his abdomen, and the instant that it
was dressed, moving from behind him a dressed-up figure, as if just
extracted from his body. The experiment so far succeeded that the patient
believed in the performance, and his joy was at first boundless in the
full persuasion that he was cured; but some morbid feeling about the
bowels, which he had associated with the insane impression, still
continuing, or being again experienced, he took up the idea that another
person similar to the first was still left within him, and under that
persuasion he still continues to labour."

A nobleman of the court of Louis XIV., fancied himself a dog, and would
invariably put his head out of window to bark aloud. Don Calmet relates
the case of some nuns in a convent in Germany, who imagined that they were
transformed into cats, and wandered about the building loudly mewing and
spitting at and scratching each other.

One of the strangest aberrations of a disordered state of mind was
exhibited by some impudent fellows who fancied themselves virtuous and
modest females. Esquirol relates the case of a young man of 26 years of
age, handsome and of a good figure, who had been in the habit of
occasionally putting on woman's attire to perform female parts in private
theatricals, and who had actually fancied himself a woman. In his
paryoxysms he would put off his male clothes, and equip himself like a
nymph,--the greater part of his day was spent before his looking-glass,
decorating his person and dressing his hair--he was incurable!


Although Gall and Spurzheim may fairly claim the merit of having developed
in this science the particular parts of the brain that are the seat of
different faculties, yet we find in various ancient writers similar
notions. Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, thus expresses himself on
this subject: "_Inner senses_ are three in number, so called because they
are in the brain-pan; as _common sense_, _phantasie_, _memory_. This
common sense is the judge or moderator of the rest, by whom we discern all
differences of objects; _the fore part of the brain_ is his organ or seat.
_Phantasie_, or imagination, which some call æstimative, or cogitative,
(confirmed saith, Fernelius, by frequent meditation,) is an inner sense,
which doth more fully examine the species perceived by _common sense_, of
things present or absent, and keeps them longer, recalling them to mind
again, or making new of his own: his organ is the _middle cell of the
brain_. _Memory_ layes up all the species which the senses have brought
in, and records them as a good register, that they may be forthcoming when
they are called for by _phantasie_ and _reason_; his organ is the _back
part of the brain_." This corresponds with the account of the faculties
given by Aristotle, and repeated by the writers of the middle ages.
Albertus Magnus, Bishop of Ratisbon, designed a head divided into regions
according to these opinions in the thirteenth century; and a similar plan
was published by Petrus Montaguana in 1491. Ludovico Dolce published
another engraving on the subject at Venice in 1562. In the British Museum
is a chart of the universe and the elements of all sciences, and in which
a large head of this description is delineated. It was published at Rome
in 1632. In the _Tesoretto_ of Brunetto Latini, the preceptor of Dante, we
find this doctrine taught in the following lines:

  Nel capo son tre celle,
  Ed io dirò di quelle,
  _Davanti_ è lo intelletto
  E la forza d'apprendere
  Quello que puote intendere;
  _In mezzo_ è la ragione
  E la discrezione,
  Che scherne buono e male;
  E lo terno e l'iguale
  _Dirietro_ sta con gloria
  La valente memoria,
  Che ricorda e retiene
  Quello ch'in essa viene.


At all periods perfumes seem to have been more or less adopted as a luxury
among the wealthy and fashionable. Tradition states that they were
frequently rendered instrumental to sinister purposes, as the vehicle of
poisonous substances. Historians relate that the Emperor Henri VI. and a
prince of Savoy, were destroyed with perfumed gloves. Jeanne d'Albret,
Queen of Navarre, and mother of Henri IV., died from the poisonous effect
of gloves purchased from the noted René, perfumer and confidential agent
of Catherine de Medicis. Lancelot, King of Naples, was destroyed by a
scented handkerchief prepared by a Florentine lady. Pope Clement VII. sunk
under the baneful effluvia of a torch that was carried before him; and
Mathioli relates, that nosegays thus impregnated have been frequently
known to prove fatal. It is certain that, without the aid of venenous
substances, various flowers have caused serious accidents. Barton tells us
that the _magnolia glauca_ occasioned a paroxysm of fever, and increased
the severity of an attack of gout. Jacquin had seen the _lobelia
longiflora_ producing a sense of suffocation; and the _nerium oleander_ in
a close chamber, has caused death. The injurious effects of bulbous
flowers in giving rise to violent headachs, giddiness, and even fainting,
are generally known. The horror roses inspire to the Roman ladies is
scarcely credible; and Cromer affirms that it was to the odour of that
ornament of our gardens that the death of one of the daughters of Nicolas
I., Count of Salm, and of a Polish bishop, was attributed. The sympathetic
effect that this flower can create is illustrated by Capellini, who saw a
lady fall into a syncope on perceiving a rose in a girl's bosom, although
it turned out to be an artificial one. The partiality or antipathy to
certain odours is equally unaccountable, for the Italian ladies, who dread
the rose, delight in the disgusting aroma of rue, which they carry about
as a salubrious plant, that, according to their notions, dispels the
_cattiva aria_, although it is not impossible that they might fancy it
possessed of those salutary qualities to which Ovid had alluded:

  Utilius summas acuentes lumina rutas,
  Et quidquid veneri corpora nostra negat.

Rue, according to Serenus Samonicus, was one of the ingredients of the
fabled antidote of Mithridates, which he thus describes:

  Antidotus verò multis Mithridatica fertur
  Consociata modis, sed magnus Scrinia regis
  Cùm raperit victor, vilem deprendit in illis
  Synthesim, et vulgata satis medicamina risit.
  Bis denum _Rutæ_ folium, salis et breve granum,
  Juglandesque duas, totidem cum corpore ficus;
  Hæc oriente die, parco conspersa Lycæo,
  Sumebat, metuens dederat quæ pocula mater.

The ancients were so fond of perfumes, that they scented their persons and
garments, their vases, their domestic vessels, and their military
insignia. They not only considered aromatic emanations as acceptable to
the gods, and therefore used them in their temples, as they are at present
by the Roman Catholics, but as announcing the presence of their
divinities; and Virgil thus speaks of Venus:

  --------Avertens roseâ cervice refulsit,
  Ambrosiæque comæ divinum vertice odorem

Chaplets of roses were invariably worn in festivals and ceremonies; and
wines were also aromatised with various odoriferous substances. The Franks
and the Gauls continued the same custom; and Gregory of Tours called these
artificial-flavoured liquors, _Vina odoramentis immixta_. To this day,
the manipulation of French wines gives them a fictitious _bouquet_, with
raspberries, orris-root, and divers drugs to suit the British market.

No external sense is so intimately connected with the internal senses as
that of smell; none so powerful in exciting and removing syncope, or more
capable of receiving delicate and delicious impressions: hence Rousseau
has denominated this faculty "_the sense of imagination_." No sensations
can be remembered in so lively a manner as those which are recalled by
peculiar odours, which are frequently known to act in a most energetic
measure upon our physical and moral propensities. How many perfumes excite
a lively feeling of fond regret when reminding us of the beloved one who
was wont to select them, and whom we long to meet again! It is not
improbable that our partiality to the hair of those who are dear to us,
arises from this circumstance. Every individual emits a peculiar odour;
and, according to Plutarch, Alexander was distinguished by the sweet aroma
that he shed. Perhaps the expression, so frequently found in the lives of
the saints, "who die in odour of sanctity," may be referred to a belief
that this peculiar gift was granted to beatitude.

It has been observed, that animals who possess the most acute smell, have
the nasal organs the most extensively developed. The Ethiopians and the
American Indians are remarkable for the acuteness of this sense,
accounting for the wonderful power of tracking their enemies. But although
we may take the peculiar organization of their olfactory organs as being
partly the cause of this keen perceptibility, we must in a great measure
attribute this perfection to their mode of living. Hunting and war are
their chief pursuits, to which they are trained from their earliest
infancy: therefore this perfection may, to a certain extent, be the result
of habit; and the sight and hearing of these wanderers are as singularly
perfect as their smelling. Mr. Savage relates, that a New Zealander heard
the report of a distant gun at sea, or perceived a strange sail, when no
other man on board could discern it. Pallas, in speaking of the Calmucks,
says that many of them can distinguish by smelling at the hole of a fox
whether the animal be there or not; and on their journeys and military
expeditions they often smell out a fire or a camp, and thus seek quarters
for the night or booty. Olaüs Borrich informs us, that the guides between
Smyrna, Aleppo, and Babylon, when traversing the desert, ascertain
distances by the smell of the sand. That odours float in the atmospheric
air is obvious; the distance at which they are perceived is incredible.
The spicy breezes of Ceylon are distinguished long before the island is
seen; and it is a well-known fact that vessels have been saved by the
olfactory acuteness of dogs, who, to use the common expression, were
observed to "sniff" the land that had not been descried. As a proof of the
intimate connexion between smell and respiration, when the breath is held
odorous substances are not perceived, and it is only after expiration that
they are again recognised. A proof of this may be easily obtained by
placing the open neck of a small phial containing an essential oil in the
mouth during the acts of inspiration and subsequent expiration. Willis was
the first who observed that, on placing a sapid substance in the mouth,
and at the same time closing the nostrils, the sensation of taste is
suspended; and this observation has given rise to the prevailing opinion
that smelling and tasting are intimately related. Odour which thus
accompanies taste is termed flavour; and the ingenious Dr. Prout has
admirably defined the distinction between taste and flavour, and he
considers the latter an intermediate sensation between taste and smell.

The acuteness of the sensation of smelling in animals is such, that in
many instances our observations have been deemed fabulous. The distance at
which a dog tracks his master is scarcely credible; and it is strange that
the ancients attributed a similar perfection to the goose. Ælian affirms
that the philosopher Lycadeus had one of these birds that found him out
like a dog:

  Humanum longè præsentit odorem
  Romulidarum acris servator, candidus anser.

Birds of prey will scent the battle-field at prodigious distances, and
they are often seen hovering instinctively over the ground where the
conflict is to supply their festival. Humboldt relates, that in Peru, at
Quito, and in the province of Popayan, when sportsmen wish to obtain that
species of vulture called _vultur gryphus_, they kill a cow or a horse,
and in a short time these sagacious birds crowd to glut their ravenous
appetites. Ancient historians assert that vultures have cleft the air one
hundred and sixty-six leagues to arrive in time to feast upon a battle;
and Pliny boldly affirms that even crows have so acute a sense of
approaching corruption, that they can scent death three days before
dissolution, and generally pay the _moribond_ a visit a day before his
time, not to be disappointed. This notion has become a vulgar prejudice,
as much so, indeed, as the howling of a dog, which is considered in most
countries as foreboding death. In various animals an offensive odour is a
protective gift. The _staphylinus olens_, for instance, sheds an effluvium
which effectually keeps away the birds who would otherwise pounce upon
him. But of all singular perfections in the sense of smelling that were
ever recorded, may be cited the monk of Prague and the blind man in the
Quinze-vingt Hospital of Paris, who possessed the faculty of ascertaining
the presence of virginity whenever a female had the luck of being
introduced to them.

Many curious instances are recorded, where the loss of one sense has added
to the acuteness of others. Dr. Moyse the well-known blind philosopher,
could distinguish a black dress on his friends by the smell. Professor
Upham of the United States, mentions a blind girl who could select her own
articles out of a basket of linen brought in by the laundress.

These anomalous senses, for such they may be called, are as wonderful as
they are inexplicable, and appear to arise from a peculiar sensibility of
the organs of smell, which renders them capable of being stimulated in a
peculiar manner, that no language can express or define. It is scent, no
doubt, that gives the migratory power to various animals; "which enables
them," to use the words of Dr. Mason Good, "to steer from climate to
climate, and from coast to coast; and which, if possessed by man, might
perhaps render superfluous the use of the magnet, and considerably
infringe upon the science of logarithms? Whence comes it that the
fieldfare and red-wing, that pass the summer in Norway, or the wild-duck
and merganser, that in like manner summer in the woods and lakes of
Lapland, are able to track the pathless void of the atmosphere with the
utmost nicety, and arrive on our own coasts uniformly in the beginning of

This sense is not limited to migratory animals, as instanced by
carrier-pigeons, who have been known not only to carry bags in a straight
line from city to city, but traverse the city with an undeviating flight.
Surely this faculty must be attributed to the sense of smell; it can
scarcely be referred to sight or hearing; although the wonders of the
creation are such, that we can no more account for these peculiar
attributes refused to the lords of the creation, than for the power of the
lobster, who not only can reproduce his claws when deprived of them by
accident, but cast them off to extricate himself, from the captor's grasp.
The _Tipula pectiniformis_, or the daddy long-legs of our infant amusement
and amazement, possesses the same renovating faculties. The gluttonous
gad-fly may be cut to pieces without any apparent interruption in his
meal, when fastened to one's hand: the polype does not seem to be at all
discomposed when we turn him inside out; and, when divided into various
sections, each portion is endowed with an instinctive and reformative
power of multiplying his species in countless numbers! The diversity of
our olfactory fancies is unaccountable and only illustrates the words of

  Non omnibus unum est quod placet; hic spinas, colligit ille rosas.


It will scarcely be credited, but to this very day the superstitious
belief in the power that certain medicinal substances possess of causing a
sympathetic fondness, still obtains, even amongst classes of the community
whose education one would imagine ought to have rendered such an absurdity
revolting. In Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the influence of love powders
and aphrodisiac drugs is universally confided in.

The ancients thought that there existed, not only various charms to kindle
amorous feelings, but also to check all fond desires. The latter influence
they considered as _malefices_, vulgarly called in more modern times,
"point tying." Plato, in his Republic, warns husbands to be on their guard
lest their domestic peace might be disturbed by these diabolical
practices. Lovers, separated from each other's embrace by these nefarious
enchantments, were said to be tied down. Thus Virgil,

              Dic, Veneris vincula necto:
  Terna tibi hæc primum triplici diversa colore
  Licia circumdo.

No power could release one from these bonds:

  Quis neget et magicas nervos torpere per artes?

By the laws of the twelve tables such enchantments were punished with
death; and Numantina, wife of Plautius Sylvanus, was accused,

  Injecisse carminibus et veneficiis vecordiam marito.

When Faustina, the gay bride of Marc Antonius was rapturously enamoured
with an histrionic favourite, she was only cured of her folly by a potion
in which some of the comedian's blood had been introduced. Petrarch
relates of Charlemagne, that this monarch was so fondly attached to a fair
lady, that after her death he carried about her embalmed body in a superb
coffin, until a venerable and learned bishop, who very wisely thought that
a living beauty was preferable to the remains of a departed one, rebuked
his sovereign for his irreligious and unnatural propensities, and revealed
to him the important secret of his love arising from a charm that lay
under the dead woman's tongue. Whereupon the bishop went to the corpse,
and drew from it a ring, which the emperor had scarcely looked upon when
he abhorred the former object of his attachment, and felt such an
extraordinary fancy for the bishop that he could not dispense with his
presence for a single moment, until the good prelate was so obseded with
royal favour that he cast the ring into a lake. From that moment
Charlemagne (his historian continues) "neglected all public business, and
went to live in the middle of a fen in the vicinity of Aix, where he built
a temple, near which he was finally buried."

St. Jerome, in the Life of Hilarius, mentions a young man who so
bephiltered a maiden that she fell desperately in love with him; and
Sigismundus Schereczius, in his chapter _De Hirco Nocturno_, affirms that
"unchaste women, by the help of these witches, the devil's kitchen-maids,
have their lovers brought to them during the night, and carried back
again, by a phantom flying in the air in the likeness of a goat." "I have
heard," he adds, "divers confess that they have been so carried on a
goat's back to their sweethearts many miles in a night." These wonderful
potions were made of strange ingredients, for amongst them we find a
man's blood chemically prepared, mandrake roots, dead men's clothes,
candles, a certain hair in a wolf's tail, a swallow's heart, dust of a
dove's heart, tongues of vipers, brains of a jackass, pebbles found in an
eagle's nest, together with "_palliola quibus infantes obvoluti
nascuntur_, _funis strangulati hominis_," &c. &c. &c. Cleghorn, in his
History of Minorca, tells us that water in which a hedgehog has been
allowed to run into corruption, was supposed to be possessed of similar
exciting powers; and a pulverized bit of a caul, scrapings of nails, and
chopped hair, are to this hour deemed equally effectual to obtain these
desirable ends.

Notwithstanding all these absurdities, it is undoubtedly true that certain
articles of food have been considered as endowed with aphrodisiac
properties; fish of various kinds, the mollusca and testaceous animals
more especially. Juvenal attributes this quality to oysters, which, in
this respect, with cockles and muscles have become vulgarly proverbial:

  Grandia quæ mediis jam noctibus ostrea mordet.

Wallich informs us that the ladies of his time had recourse on such
occasions to the brains of the _mustela piscis_. The _sepia octopus_ was
also in great repute; and Plautus, in his _Casina_, brings on an old man
who had just been purchasing some in the market. There is reason to
believe that these ideas were not altogether as absurd as they may appear.
Fourcroy and Vauquelin have attributed this influence to the presence of
phosphorus, which is well known to be highly exciting. In the East,
various vegetable productions are considered in the same light. Their
_hakims_ have numerous receipts for the purpose; amongst which we find
several electuaries,--such as the _diacyminum_, the _diaxylaloes_, the
confections of _Luffa Abunafa_, and the _chaschab abusidan_ of the
Arabians, of which wonderful effects are related.

The laws of every country have provided against the offence of witchcraft,
sorcery, conjuration, and enchantment. We find a statute of our first
James, making it "felony, without benefit of the clergy, under the penalty
of death, the act of all persons invoking any evil spirit, or consulting,
covenanting with, entertaining, employing, feeding, or rewarding any evil
spirits; or taking up dead bodies from their graves, to be used in any
witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or enchantment; or killing or otherwise
hurting, any person by such infernal arts. And if any person should
attempt by sorcery to discover hidden treasures, or to restore stolen
goods, or to _provoke unlawful love_, (lawful love did not come within
these salutary provisions,) he or she should suffer imprisonment and
pillory for the first offence, and death for the second." Strange to say,
that act continued in force till very lately; and Blackstone observes,
"that many poor wretches were sacrificed thereby to the prejudice of their
neighbours, and their own illusions; not a few having, by some means or
other, confessed the fact at the gallows."

Nothing could be more absurd, nay atrocious, than the means judicially
resorted to at that period to detect witchcraft. Sir Robert Filmer
mentions two tests by fire: the first by burning the house of the
pretended witch: the other, by burning any animal supposed to have been
bewitched by her. In both these cases the witch would confess her

Moreover, it was asserted that a witch, even while enduring the pangs of
torture, could only shed _three tears_, and those from the _left eye_;
this was considered a sufficient proof of guilt by the judges of the day!
Swimming a witch was another expedient; in this ordeal the hag was
stripped naked, and cross-bound, the right thumb to the left toe, and
_vice versâ_. Thus prepared, she was thrown into a pond or a river; in
which, if guilty, she could not sink, for having by her compact with the
Devil renounced the waters of baptism, the waters in return refused to
receive her in their bosom.

Our wise legislators maintained that old women were generally selected by
the evil ones for their malicious purposes, and they usually appeared to
them in the form of a man wearing a black coat or gown; and sometimes,
especially in the north, with a bluish band and turned-up linen cuffs:
hard bargains were sometimes driven between the parties for the value of
the harridan's soul. This was also the case according to Echard, in the
negotiation between Oliver Cromwell and the Devil before the battle of
Worcester. There were black, white, and gray witches: some of them fond of
junketing and merry-making, and often would Satan play on a pipe or a
cittern to make them dance; and not unfrequently would he become enamoured
with their withered charms, when toads and horrible serpents were the
hated progeny of this unhallowed union. Sinclair tells us, in his
"Invisible World," of one Mr. Barton, who was burnt with his wife for
witchcraft, and who confessed, before he was tied to the stake, that he
had intrigued with the Devil in the shape of a comely lady, who had given
him 15_l._ for his trouble. His wife confessed at the same time, that the
Devil in the shape of a poodle dog used to dance before her, playing upon
the pipes with a candle under his tail. The Devil, particularly in
Scotland would ever and anon get up into a pulpit, and preach a sermon in
a voice "_hough_ and _gustie_."

Burton gives us some curious traditions of these devilish amours, and
quotes Philostratus's account of one Menippus Lycius, a young man
twenty-five years of age, who going between Cenchreas and Corinth, met a
phantom in the shape of a fair gentlewoman, which, taking him by the hand,
carried him to her house in the suburbs of Corinth; and told him she was a
Phoenician by birth, and, if he would tarry with her he should hear her
sing and play, and drink such wine as never was drunk, and no man should
molest him, but she, being fair and lovely, would live and die with him.
The young man tarried with her awhile to his great content, and at last
married her; to whose wedding, amongst other guests, came Apollonius; who
by some probable conjecture, found her out to be a serpent--a lamia. When
she saw herself discovered, she wept, and desired Apollonius to be silent;
but he would not be moved, and thereupon she, plate, house, and all that
was in it vanished in an instant.

Florigerus also mentions the case of a young gentleman of Rome, "who on
his wedding day went out walking with his bride and some friends after
dinner; and towards the evening went to a tennis-court, and while he
played he took off his ring, and placed it upon the finger of a brass
_Venus statua_. The game finished, he went to fetch his ring; but Venus
had bent her finger upon it, and he could not get it off. Whereupon, loth
to make his companions tarry, he there left it, intending to fetch it the
next day, went thence to supper, and so to bed; but in the night Venus had
slipped between him and his wife, and thus troubled him for several
successive nights. Not knowing how to help himself, he made his moan to
one Palumbus, a learned magician; who gave him a letter, and bade him at
such a time of the night, in such a cross way, where old Saturn would pass
by with his associates, to deliver to him the script: the young man, of a
bold spirit, accordingly did it; and when the old fiend had read it, he
called Venus to him, who was riding before him, and commanded her to
deliver the ring, which forthwith she did."

Burton further quotes St. Augustine, Bodin, Paracelsus, and various other
learned men, who firmly maintain that the Devil is particularly fond of a
little flirtation with the ladies; and a Bavarian widower, who was sadly
grieving for his beloved wife, was visited by Old Nick, who had assumed
the form of the departed lady, and promised to live with him and comfort
him on the condition that he would leave off swearing and blaspheming; he
vowed it, married her, and she brought him several children; till one day,
in an uxorious quarrel, he began to swear like a Pandour, whereupon she
vanished, and never more was seen.

The preservatives against witchcraft were as absurd as the fear it
inspired: some hair, parings of nails, or any part of a person bewitched,
were put into a stone bottle, with crooked nails, then corked close, and
hung up the chimney; this expedient occasioned most horrible tortures to
the witch, until the bottle was uncorked. Witches, moreover, cannot pursue
their victims beyond the middle of a running stream, provided the
fugitives had been baptized. I have now a patient under my care who
fancies himself bewitched, and asserts that the only way to guard against
the evil is by driving a nail in the impress left by a witch's foot on the
threshold, when she will discontinue her visits.

By an act of George II. these offences were considered as misdemeanors,
and punished with a year's imprisonment, and standing four times in the
pillory. There is no doubt that, notwithstanding the absurdity of such
delusions and impostures, legislators must endeavour to secure the
ignorant against these impositions, which are frequently of a perilous
nature, and have been often known to occasion serious accidents, and even
death. Many of the substances thus administered are of a most dangerous
description, and these enchantments are not unfrequently resorted to with
sinister intentions. It is related of the Asiatic women, that, under the
pretext of giving these philters, they sometimes times prepare a beverage
from the seeds of the _Datura Metel_, which produces a lethargic
stupefaction of a convenient nature. The mischief that has frequently
arisen from the exhibition of the _Lytta vesicatoria_ has been observed
and recorded by every medical practitioner. The _Diablotini_, a kind of
incentive sugar-plums of the Italians, have been known to occasion the
most serious accidents; and the celebrated French actor Molé lost his life
in one of these experiments. Yet penal enactments, in such cases, must be
resorted to with much circumspection; for prohibition too frequently
promotes the evils which it is designed to check.

Montesquieu observes, that the ridiculous stories that are generally told,
and the many impositions that have been discovered in all ages, are enough
to demolish all faith in such a dubious crime, if the contrary evidence
were not also extremely strong. Unquestionably, we have too many
instances of criminal acts of superstition in which supernatural agency is
believed; but did this philosophic writer mean to say that we have
evidence of actual witchcraft and sorcery? It is with some degree of
regret that we find our learned Blackstone avow his belief in these
matters, and we borrow his own words on the subject: "To deny the
possibility, nay, the actual existence of witchcraft and sorcery, is at
once flatly to contradict the revealed Word of God, in various passages
both of the New and Old Testament; and the thing itself is a truth to
which every nation in the world hath in its turn borne testimony, either
by examples seemingly well attested, or by prohibitory laws which at least
suppose the possibility of a commerce with evil spirits. The civil law
punishes with death not only the sorcerers themselves, but also those who
consult them; imitating in the former the express law of God, 'Thou shalt
not suffer a witch to live!'" Without calling into doubt the records of
supernatural agency in Holy Writ, evident manifestations of the power and
the will of the Divinity at that period, it may fairly be asked--Can we
promulgate such opinions in the present times, when miraculous events do
not seem to be permitted by our Creator in His inscrutable wisdom, without
incurring the risk of plunging the ignorant in all the dark horrors of the
early ages? Montesquieu himself has justly remarked, "that the most
unexceptionable conduct, the purest morals, and the constant practice of
every duty in life, are not a sufficient security against the suspicion of
crimes like these." And yet, because, forsooth, there may be made to
appear _examples seemingly attested_, and that on the faith of such an
attestation the most absurd and cruel _prohibitory laws_ have been enacted
by every _nation in the world, on the supposition of the possibility of
such a crime_, however ignorant and brutalized by superstition these
nations are or may have been, man is not only authorized by the Scriptures
to persecute some poor miserable fool or vagrant impostor unto death, but
he is sanctioned in founding this barbarous persecution on the laws of
God! The mind sickens at such doctrines. It is grievous to find a man like
our Addison sharing in such preposterous notions; notions which would
induce a doubtful by-stander not to interfere with a mob of miscreants who
were drowning some unfortunate old woman "for a witch."

"There are," says Addison, "some opinions in which a man should stand
_neuter_, without engaging his assent to one side or the other. It is with
this temper of mind that I consider the subject of witchcraft. When I
consider whether there are such persons in the world as those we call
witches, my mind is divided between the two opposite opinions; or rather,
to speak my thoughts freely, I believe in general that _there is_, and has
been, such a thing as witchcraft, but, at the same time, can give no
credit to any particular instance of it."

Are we then still to believe that there may exist some supernatural hag,
that can

  --------Untie the winds, and let them fight
  Against the churches--------
  Control the moon, make ebbs and flows,
  And deal in her command without her power?

or who, with the influence given to them by our poet Rowe,

  By force of potent spells, of bloody characters,
  And conjurations horrible to hear,
  Call fiends and spectres from the yawning deep,
  And set the ministers of hell to work,

with the liver of a blaspheming Jew, the nose of a Turk, the lips of a
Tartar, the finger of a birth-strangled babe, and ditch-delivered by a
drab, &c. &c.? If we are to believe in witches with Blackstone and
Addison, we must give credence to all these mystic means by which they
_work_ their _way_. All these _means_ have been _seemingly attested_, and
led, from the just horror they inspired, to those _prohibitory laws_
enacted by _every nation_; as if the laws of man could be of any avail in
resisting the _admitted_ supernatural powers with which these witches,
sorcerers, magicians, &c. must have been invested by the Deity to perform
their terrific operations! If we deny this authority we are Manicheans.


This peculiar faculty was well known to the ancients. Hippocrates verily
believed that there did exist individuals who could draw a voice from
their belly. He speaks of the wife of Polimarchus, who, being affected
with a quinsy, spoke in this manner; hence this power was called
_Engastrimysm_. Plato gives the history of Euricles, who mentions three
persons whom St. Chrysostom and Oecumenius considered to be endowed with
a heavenly gift. Cælius Rhodiginus describes an old woman of Rovigo who
used to deliver her oracles in the like manner, and who was never so
eloquent as when stripped to the skin, when she would answer most
accurately all the questions put to her by a familiar who attended upon
her, and was called Cincinnatulus. Anthony Vandael, a physician of Harlem,
considered ventriloquism as a supernatural power, enabling the voice to
proceed "ex ventre inferiore et partibus genitalibus;" and he describes a
woman of seventy-three years of age, called Barbara Jacobi, who used to
ventriloquise with an imp of the name of Joachim, who would weep most
piteously, or fall into roars of laughter, and sometimes danced and sung
with remarkable grace and elegance, according to the depressing or the
exhilarating nature of Mrs. Jacobi's communications. In the Septuagint the
Hebrew word _Ob_ is rendered by _Engastrimythos_; and it was supposed that
the Pythoness who evoked Samuel had recourse to this power. Oleaster,
Grand Inquisitor of Portugal, in a work published at Lisbon in 1656,
mentions a woman of the name of Cecilia who was brought before the court,
and expressed herself in a ventriloquial voice, which she said was that of
one Peter John, who had been dead for many years; but Peter John pleaded
in vain for his hostess, for, despite his abdominal eloquence, she was
sentenced to be transported. Whether Peter John accompanied her in exile
is not stated. In 1643, Dickinson mentions a man at Oxford, who was called
the King's Whisperer, and who expressed himself most clearly without
opening the mouth or moving the lips. This faculty has frequently been
employed in various speculations. In the sixteenth century, Borden relates
the story of a valet of Francis I., named Brabant, who thus persuaded the
mother of a young girl he courted to grant her consent to their marriage
as speedily as possible, if she wished her husband's soul to get out of
the torments of purgatory: after marriage, however, he was disappointed in
his pecuniary expectations, and he applied his powers of ventriloquism to
terrify a rich banker of Lyons, of the name of Corner, to bestow a fortune
upon his wife; for which purpose he assumed the voice of Corner's father,
who supplicated him to give the money as the only means of sending his
poor consuming soul to paradise.

One of the most celebrated ventriloquists was a grocer of St. Germains,
one St. Gilles; but he applied the faculty he possessed to benevolent
purposes. Being called to reclaim a newly-married young man from a
disgraceful connexion, which rendered his wife most unhappy, his
supernatural voice, supposed to come from heaven, succeeded; and he was
equally fortunate in bringing to a sense of propriety one of the most
sordid misers of his time.

St. Gilles was not so felicitous in a trick he played to some monks,
vainly attempting to prove the absurdity of their superstitious notions.
One of the community had lately died, and, according to custom, the
deceased was laid out in the church, and his brethren, grouped around him,
were pouring forth prayers for the repose of his soul, when St. Gilles,
throwing his voice into the coffin, returned them all the thanks of the
departed friar for their supplications in his behalf. The astonished monks
were most edified at this miraculous event; and their prior, who knew St.
Gilles to be a freethinker, endeavoured to impress upon his mind the
wonder that he himself had performed, and to inveigh most earnestly
against the impiety and incredulity of modern philosophers, who
entertained sceptic ideas concerning miracles. After a long exhortation,
our ventriloquist burst into a fit of laughter, and avowed the deception
he had practised: to convince the brotherhood of the veracity of his
assertion, he gave them various specimens of his skill,--but to no
purpose; he was called an infidel, a scoffer, an atheist, and, had it been
in Spain, the stake would in all probability have rewarded his perilous
frolic, or his stiff-necked impiety in refusing to believe in his own

It is now pretty generally admitted that ventriloquism simply consists in
a slow and gradual expiration, preceded by a strong and deep inspiration,
by which a considerable quantity of air is introduced into the lungs,
which is afterwards acted upon by the flexible powers of the larynx and
the trachea: any person therefore, by practice, can obtain more or less
expertness in this exercise; in which, although not apparently, the voice
is still modified by the mouth and the tongue. Mr. Lespagnol, in a very
able dissertation on this subject, has demonstrated that ventriloquists
have acquired by practice the power of exercising the veil of the palate
in such a manner, that, by raising or depressing it, they dilate or
contract the inner nostrils. If they are closely contracted, the sound
produced is weak, dull, and seems to be more or less distant; if, on the
contrary, these cavities are widely dilated, the sound is strengthened by
these tortuous infractuosities, and the voice becomes loud, sonorous, and
apparently close to us. Thus any able mimic who can with facility disguise
his voice, with the aid of this power of modifying sounds, may in time
become a ventriloquist.


  With us there was a doctour of phisike;
  In all this world, ne was there none him like
  To speake of phisike and of surgerie,
  For he was grounded in astronomie.
  He kept his patient a full great dell
  In houses: by his magike naturell
  Well couth he fortune the assendent
  Of his image for his pacient.
  He knew the cause of every malady,
  Whether it were of cold, heate, moist, or dry.
  And whereof engendered was each humour.
  He was a very parfit practisour;
  The cause I knew, and of his haime the roote,
  Anon he gave to the rich man his boot.
  Full ready had he his apoticaries
  To send him drugs and his lectuaries;
  For each of them made other for to winne,
  Their friendship was not new to beginne.
  Well he knew the old Esculapius,
  And Diascorides, and eke Ruffus,
  And Hippocrates, and Galen,
  Serapion, Rasis, and Avicen,
  Aberrois, Damascene, and Constantin,
  Bernard, Galisden, and Gilbertin
  Of his diet measurable was he,
  For it was of no superfluitie;
  But of great nourishing and digestible.
  His study was but little on the Bible.
  In sanguine and in percepolad withall
  Lined with taffata and with sendall;
  And yet he was but easy of dispence.
  He kept that he won in time of pestilence;
  For gold in phisike is a cordial,
  Therefore he loved gold speciall.

It appears from this quaint and satirical picture, that, in our Chaucer's
days, astrology formed part of a physician's study. It also plainly proves
that a disgraceful collusion prevailed between medical practitioners and
their apothecaries, mutually to enrich each other at the expense of the
patient's purse and constitution. The poet, moreover, seems to tax the
faculty with irreligion: that unjust accusation was not uncommon; hence
the old adage, "Ubi tres medici, duo athei." To the disgrace of many
illiberal persons of the present age, we have known some of our most able
and praiseworthy physiologists charged with materialism.


This disease is perhaps the most distressing species of insanity; since,
with the exception of the miserable belief of being possessed by the evil
spirit, the patient is often in full possession of his other faculties,
and will even endeavour to reason with his attendants, with some apparent
plausibility, on the very aberration that constitutes the malady.

The word 'dæmon' among the ancients was not considered as specific of an
evil spirit; on the contrary, it signified genius, intellect, mind.
[Greek: Daimonion], from [Greek: daimôn], meant wisdom, science. The first
notions of dæmons were probably brought from Chaldea, whence they spread
amongst the Persians, Egyptians, and Greeks. Gales maintains that the
original institution of dæmons was an imitation of the Messiah. The
Phoenicians called them _Baalim_. So far do these early opinions
prevail, that among the Anabaptists we find a sect called Dæmoniac, who
believe that devils shall be saved at the end of the world.

Plato gave the name of dæmons to the benevolent spirits who regulated the
universe. The Chaldeans and Jews considered them as the causes of all
human maladies. Saul was agitated by an evil spirit, and Job and Joram
suffered under a similar visitation.

Dæmonomania differs widely from the mental disease called Theomania. In
the latter state of insanity the patient fancies that he is placed in
communication with the Deity or his angels; in the former, he feels
convinced that he has become the prey of the destroyer of mankind.

Under the head of "Unlawful Cures," instances are related of the firm
belief in the power of evil spirits to cause various diseases. Perhaps the
origin of dæmonomania may be traced to fanatical persecution; never was
the malady so common as during the denunciations of Calvin, when torture
was frequently resorted to, to make the victims of bigotry renounce a
supposed pact with the devil. D'Agessau was right when, in advising the
parliament of Paris to repeal all statutes against sorcery, he recommended
that dæmoniacs should be handed over to the physician, instead of the
priest or the executioner.

The sufferings which dæmoniacs say they endure must be excruciating; so
powerful is moral influence over our physical sensations. They will tell
you that the devil is drawing them tight, and suffocating them with a
cord; that he is pinching and lacerating their entrails, burning and
tearing their heart, pouring hot oil or molten lead in their veins, while
internal flames are consuming them. Their strength is exhausted, their
digestive functions impaired, their appearance soon becomes miserable in
the extreme, their countenances pale and haggard: the wretched creatures
endeavour to conceal themselves during their scanty meals, or their
attempts to enjoy a broken slumber; they are persuaded that they no longer
possess a corporeal existence that requires refection or repose,--the evil
spirit has borne away their bodies, the devil requires no earthly support;
they even deny their sex: they are doomed to live for ever in constant
agony. These unfortunate creatures are mostly women. One of them asserts,
with horrid imprecations, that she has been the devil's wife for a million
of years, and had borne him a numerous family; her body is nothing but a
sack made of a devil's skin, and filled with their offsprings in the shape
of devouring snakes, toads, and venomous reptiles. She exclaims that her
husband constantly urges her to commit murder, theft, and every imaginable
crime; and sometimes with bitter tears supplicates her keeper to put on a
strait waistcoat, to prevent her from doing evil. Another woman,
forty-eight years of age, assures us that she has two devils who have
taken up their residence in both her hips, and have grown up to her ears:
one of them is black and yellow, the other black, both in the shape of
cats. She fills her ears with snuff and grease to satisfy their diabolical
cravings. She eats with voracity, but is a perfect skeleton in appearance;
the devils consume all, and leave her nothing. They constantly bid her to
go and drown herself; but she cannot obey them, since eternity is her
doom. They are scarcely sensible of painful agents, and are unconscious of
heat, cold, or the inclemency of the weather. Their perspiration,
frequently profuse, exhales a most unpleasant odour; hence the vulgar
fancy that they smell of the lower regions. This circumstance is the usual
consequence of many nervous affections, and arises, most probably, from
the foulness of the breath, a natural result of impaired digestion, and
from a peculiar acrimony of the cutaneous secretions.

Pinel relates the case of a missionary whose enthusiastic aberrations led
him into the horrible belief, that he could only be saved from eternal
torments, by what he called a _baptism of blood_. This fatal mania induced
him to attempt the life of his wife, who was fortunate to escape from the
danger, after he had immolated two of his children, to secure their
salvation! Tried for this crime he was sentenced to perpetual confinement
in Bicêtre. In his dungeon he fancied himself the _fourth person in the
trinity_, maintained that he was sent upon earth to baptize with blood,
and all the power of the universe could not affect his life. During ten
years' confinement this miserable wretch, betrayed the same insanity
whenever religious subjects were touched upon, in all other matters, he
reasoned most soundly. His lucid intervals at last became so long in their
duration and calm, that it was questioned whether he might not be
liberated--until on a Christmas eve, his sanguinary monomania resumed all
its intensity, and having by some means or other obtained possession of a
leather-cutter's knife, he inflicted a desperate wound on one of his
keepers, and cut the throat of two patients who were near them; many other
inmates of the establishment would, no doubt, have been sacrificed by the
desperate maniac had he not been secured. This case might decidedly be
considered one of true dæmonomania.

It has been generally remarked that cases of dæmonomania are more common
amongst women than in men. Their greater susceptibility to nervous
affections, their warmth of imagination and strong passions, which habit
and education compel them to restrain, produce a state of concentration
that must cause increased excitement, and render them more liable to those
terrific impressions that constitute the disease. These terrors, from
false notions of the Deity, make them anticipate in this world the
sufferings denounced in the next. One woman has been known to become
dæmonomaniac after an intense perusal of the Apocalypse, and another by
the constant reading of the works of Thomas à Kempis. Women, moreover, at
certain critical periods are subject to great mental depression, which
they have not the power to relieve by exciting pursuits, like men.
Melancholy succeeds a dull sameness. Religion, viewed in a false light,
becomes her refuge; more especially at an advanced period of life, when
loss of youth and beauty is bitterly felt, as galled vanity compares the
present with the past. Hysteric symptoms are now developed: the passions,
which are too frequently increased even to intensity, rather than cooled,
by years, prompt her to rebellious thoughts that religion and virtuous
feelings strive to restrain; and these powerful agents, acting upon a
predisposition morbidly impressionable from ignorance or the errors of
education, accelerate the invasion of this cruel malady. Jacobi informs
us, that this is still the character which, in some catholic countries,
insanity connected with superstition frequently assumes.

Pliny tells us that women are the best subjects for magical experiments;
Quintilian is of the same opinion: Saul consults a witch; Bodin, in his
calculations, estimates the proportion between wizards and witches as one
to fifty. It is, perhaps, owing to these remarks that many ungenerous
writers have denied _women_ a soul, as not belonging to _mankind_. There
exists a curious anonymous work, published at the close of the sixteenth
century, to prove that women are not men, or, in other words, reasonable
creatures, and entitled "_Dissertatio perjucunda quâ Anonymus probare
nititur Mulieres homines non esse_." Our author upon this principle
endeavours to show that women cannot be saved. One Simon Geddicus, a
Lutheran divine, wrote a serious confutation of this libel upon the fair
sex, in 1595, and promises the ladies an expectation of salvation on their
good behaviour. According to a popular tradition among the Mahometans,
women are excluded from paradise: St. Augustin, however, calls them the
_devout sex_; and in the prayer to the Virgin of the Romish Church we find
"_Intercede pro devoto foemineo sexu_." An hypothesis still more absurd
was broached by a Doctor Almaricus, a theological Parisian writer of the
twelfth century, who advanced that, had it not been for the original sin,
every individual of our species would have come into existence a complete
man; and that God would have created them by himself, as he created Adam.
Our worthy doctor was a disciple of Aristotle, who maintained that woman
was a defective animal, and her generation purely fortuitous and foreign
to nature. Howbeit, my fair readers will learn with satisfaction that the
doctrines of this aforesaid Almaricus were condemned by the church as
heretical, and his bones were therefore dug up, and cast into a common
sewer, as an _amende honorable_ to the offended ladies.

"A woman," says one of the primitive fathers of the church, "went to the
play, and came back with the devil in her; whereupon, when the unclean
spirit was urged and threatened, in the office of exorcising, for having
dared to attack one of the faithful, 'I have done nothing,' replied he,
'but what is very fair; I found her on my own grounds, and I took
possession of her.'"

St. Cyprian informs us, that when he was studying magic, he was
particularly intimate with the devil. "I saw the devil himself," he says;
"embraced him; I conversed with him, and was esteemed one of those who
held a principal rank about him." Who can doubt the assertion of a saint!
It appears, that in those wonderful days the devil usually wore a black
gown, with a black hat; and it was observed that, whenever he was
preaching, his _glutei muscles_ were as cold as ice.

At all times satire has endeavoured to make invidious distinctions between
the sexes: this is not fair. Women are generally what men have made them.
In a physical, and, consequently, to a certain degree in a moral point of
view, their organization is essentially different from ours; therefore, a
masculine woman is as intolerable as an effeminate man. The education of
females tends in a great measure to increase that susceptibility to
trifling excitements, which in after-life urges them to the extremes of
good or evil. While the toys and amusements of boys are of a manly nature,
a girl is taught to practise upon her darling doll all the arts which a
few years after she will practise upon herself. Many intelligent writers
have doubted the expediency of giving woman any education beyond the
sphere of her domestic pursuits and occupations; Erasmus wrote largely on
this subject to Budæus. Vives treats of it in his _Institutio foeminæ
Christianæ_; and a German authoress, Madame Schurman, has published a
treatise on the problem, "_Num foeminæ Christianæ conveniat studium

It is this nervous flexibility in women that exposes them to that constant
succession of emotions which are expressed by a rapid transition from
tears to smiles; and, anomalous as it may appear, they are more exposed to
fond impressions in their grief than at any other moment; they then feel
more helpless, and stand in greater need of consolation. The story of the
Matron of Ephesus is not so great a libel on the sex as one might imagine.
Their mind is prone to romantic enthusiasm; they delight in the
extraordinary, the terrible, and as Madame de Sevigné, who well knew her
sex, expresses it, they enjoy in chivalric tales _les grands coups
d'épée_. Prudence preventing them too frequently from expressing their
thoughts, thinking becomes more intense; and Publius Syrus has said,
"_Mulier quæ sola cogitat, malè cogitat_:" but when the suppressed volcano
bursts forth, its eruptions are boundless; it is then that one may
exclaim, "_Notumque fuerit quid foemina possit_." No passion is more
overwhelming than when it has been kept down by dissimulation; opportunity
is their curse: Montaigne has too truly said, "_Oh le furieux avantage que
l'opportunité_!" and our Denham has beautifully illustrated its fearful

  Opportunity, like a sudden gust,
  Hath swell'd my calmer thoughts into a tempest.
  Accursed opportunity!
  That works our thoughts into desires; desires
  To resolutions; those being ripe and quickened,
  Thou giv'st them birth, and bring'st them forth to action.

It is a perilous ordeal for such to whom the lines of Ovid might apply,

  Quæ, quia non liceat, non facit; illa facit.

To what prejudice against women are we to trace their sex having been
chosen to represent the Furies, stern and inexorable ministers of Divine
wrath; the Harpies, who defiled all they touched; the perilous Sirens;
unless it be to woman's fascinations in youth, and envious bitterness in
old age--the conventional type of witchcraft? This unhappy selection of
woman for working _malefices_ has been attributed to the facility which
the devil found in tempting Eve. A witch is supposed by the most learned
in the black art to be in compact with Satan, whom she is obliged to obey;
whereas a sorcerer commands the devil himself by his knowledge of charms
and invocations, but more especially of perfumes that the evil spirits
delight in when properly suffumigated, or abhor when maliciously given
them to smell. Thus the burning of a fish's liver by Tobit drove the devil
into the remote parts of Egypt; and Lilly informs us, that one Evans
having raised a spirit at the request of Lord Bothwell and Sir Kenelm
Digby, and forgotten his favourite fumigation or incense, the angry elf
whipped him up, and carried him from his house in the Minories to
Battersea Causeway.

Although fairies are mostly considered juvenile, and many of their kind
acts are recorded, yet are they in general mischievous imps; Mr. Lewis
describes those he saw in the silver and lead mines of Wales, as only
being about half a yard high. As a punishment for their vagaries, all
their children are stunted and idiotic; and this accounts for their
abominable custom of substituting their own "base elfin breed" for healthy
infants. Hence are idiots commonly called changelings.

Dæmoniacs are prone to commit suicide, less from their loathing an irksome
life than through fear, not of future torments, but of the renewal or the
continuance of their worldly sufferings. Perhaps they may entertain some
doubts as to the punishment of another existence, while their actual
condition is intolerable; we not unfrequently see desperate men rushing to
meet the very fate they dread.

Dæmonomania may be referred to a false view of divine justice,--ignorance,
and consequent weakness of intellect,--and a pusillanimous apprehension of
perhaps a merited chastisement. It is a disease which seldom admits of a
cure. If the consolations of true religion are proffered, they are either
spurned with anger, or merely produce an evanescent melioration. Zacutus
relates the case of a dæmoniac who was cured by a person who appeared to
her in the form of an angel, to inform her that her sins had been
forgiven: it is possible that stratagems of a similar nature might
prevail. I attended a monomaniac lady in Paris, who fancied herself in
Jerusalem on the eve of its destruction. She furiously opposed all
endeavours to move her from her residence; and it was only by personating
a Jewish rabbi, and offering to take her to New Jerusalem as a place of
refuge, that she consented to accompany me in a carriage to a _maison de
santé_ near the capital. Here imagination subdued imagination. I have had
the pleasure to hear that ever since I thus succeeded in breaking a link
in the morbid association of her fancies, her state of mind rapidly
improved, and that she is now restored to perfect sanity.

Dæmonomania has been known to be epidemic. From 1552 to 1554 no less than
eighty-four persons became possessed in Rome. The endeavours of a French
monk to exorcise them proved of no avail; and as most of the unfortunate
victims of credulity were Jewesses who had consented to be baptized, the
Jews were of course accused of sorcery. About the same period a similar
disease broke out in a convent near Kerndrop, in Germany, when all the
nuns were possessed, and denounced their cook, who, having confessed that
she was a witch, was duly burnt alive with her mother.

Dæmonomania has been considered an hereditary visitation, and whole
families have therefore been deemed in pact with the evil one. Insanity is
unfortunately known to attach itself to certain generations; but perhaps
it has not been sufficiently observed, when endeavouring to account for
this melancholy fact, that the mind becomes gradually influenced by the
nature of the constant conversation we daily and hourly are exposed to
hear; and it is not impossible but that this transmission of mental
disease may be attributed to morbid moral and physical sympathies, which
might be avoided by withdrawing the persons exposed to it from the sphere
of their action. Constant anxious thoughts and painful reflections tend to
produce an increased sensorial power in the brain, with a diminished
sensibility to external impressions. So great has been this effect upon
the senses, that maniacs have been seen to gaze upon the meridian sun
without any sensible effect on the organs of vision. It is therefore
possible that an individual who beholds with incessant horror insanity in
his family, or who constantly hears of their aberrations, may ultimately
experience a similar peculiarity of the mind: hence wit as well as madness
have been known to be the heir-looms of a race. Although the examples of
vice, one might imagine, would inspire a love for virtuous actions, yet we
daily see profligacy the characteristic of an entire family; and there are
names which have been rendered by misconduct synonymous with depravity.
This sad fact can only be attributed to natural temperament, whether it be
sanguine or melancholic. It has been observed that our constitutions
exercise a control over diseases, that modifies them in a peculiar manner.
The more acute the sensibility, the greater is the predisposition to
insanity. Warm and ungovernable passions will drive one female into all
the horrid excesses of nymphomania, while the timid hypochondriac and
hysteric woman will gradually sink into a morose or a malevolent
despondency. Burton attributes dæmonomania to other causes, and tells us
that the devil is so cunning that he is able to deceive the very elect;
and, to compel them the more to stand in awe of him, he sends and cures
diseases, disquiets their minds, torments and terrifies their souls, to
make them adore him; and all his study, all his endeavour, is to divert
them from true religion to superstition; and because he is damned himself,
and is in error, he would have all the world participate of his errors,
and be damned with him.

Amongst the various motives that induced the evil one to pay his sinister
visits to frail mortality, that of inflicting upon them a salutary, or a
vexatious fustigation, is frequently recorded by the fathers and other
writers. It was more especially upon the backs of saints that this
castigation took place. St. Athanasius informs us that St. Anthony was
frequently flagellated by the devil. St. Jerome states that St. Hilarius
was often whipped in a similar manner; and he calls the devil "a wanton
gladiator," and thus describes his mode of punishment: "Insidet dorso ejus
festivus gladiator; et latera calcibus, cervicem flagello verberans."
Grimalaïcus, a learned divine, confirms the fact in the following passage:
"Nonnumquam autem et apertâ impugnatione grassantes, dæmones humana
corpora verberant, sicut B. Antonio fecerant." St. Francis of Assisa
received a dreadful flogging from the devil the very first night he came
to Rome, which caused him to quit that city forthwith. Abbé Boileau's
remarks on this circumstance savour not a little of impiety and
freethinking, for he says, "It is not unlikely that, having met with a
colder reception than he judged his sanctity entitled him to, he thought
proper to decamp immediately, and when he returned to his convent told the
above story to his brother monks." Howbeit, Abbé Boileau is no authority,
and it is to be feared that, partaking of the satirical disposition of his
brother, he sacrificed piety to wit; for it is well known, beyond the
power of sceptic doubts, that the aforesaid saint's assertion cannot
possibly be impugned by proper believers. His power over the fiery
elements was established; whereby he possessed the faculty of curing
erysipelas, honoured by the appellation of St. Anthony's fire. In the like
manner St. Hubert cured hydrophobia, and St. John the epilepsy.

It is, however, pleasing to know that it was not always that the beatified
succumbed to these Satanic pranks, and many instances are recorded of the
devil's being worsted in these sacrilegious amusements, as fully appears
in the history of the blessed Cornelia Juliana, in whose room, one day,
says her history, "the other nuns heard a prodigious noise, which turned
out to be a strife she had had with the devil, whom, after having laid
hold of him, she fustigated most unmercifully; then, having him upon the
ground, she trampled upon him with her foot, and ridiculed him in the most
bitter manner (_lacerabat sarcasmis_)." This occurrence is
incontrovertible, being affirmed by that learned and pious Jesuit,
Bartholomew Fisen.

This partiality of devils for flagellation can most probably be attributed
to their horribly jealous disposition; for it is well known that the
saints took great delight in fustigating, not only those who offended
them, but their most faithful votaries. Flagellation was therefore the
most grateful punishment that could be inflicted to propitiate the
beatified; and we have several well-authenticated facts which prove that
the Virgin was frequently appeased by this practice. Under the pontificate
of Sextus IV., a heterodox professor of divinity, who had written against
the tabernacle, was flogged publicly by a pious monk, to the great
edification of the by-standers, more particularly the ladies. The
description of this operation would lose materially by translation, I
therefore give it in the original. "Apprehendens ipsum revolvit super ejus
genua; erat enim valdè fortis. Elevatis itaque pannis, quia ille minister
contra sanctum Dei tabernaculum locutus fuerat, coepit cum palmis
percutere _super quadrata tabernacula_ quæ erant nuda, non enim habebat
_femoralia vel antiphonam_; et quia ipse infamare voluerat beatam
Virginem, allegando forsitan Aristotelem in libro priorum, iste prædicator
_illum confutavit legendo in libro ejus posteriorum_: de hoc autem omnes
qui aderant gaudebant. Tunc exclamavit _quædam devota mulier_, dicens,
'_Domine Prædicator, detis ei alios quatuor palmatus pro me_; et alia
postmodum dixit, 'Detis ei etiam quatuor; sicque _multæ aliæ_ rogabant,
ita quòd si illarum petitionibus satisfacere voluisset, per totum diem
aliud facere non potuisset."

We need not seek for similar instances of the mighty power of proper
fustigation in foreign parts. The Annals of Wales record a singular
instance of the kind, which happened in the year 1188, as related by
Silvester Gerald, in such a circumstantial manner that the most obdurate
incredulity alone could doubt the fact:--"On the other side of the river
Humber," he says, "in the parish of Hoëden, lived the rector of that
church, with his concubine. This concubine, one day, sat rather
imprudently on the tomb of St. Osanna, sister to King Osred, which was
made of wood, and raised above the ground in the shape of a seat: when she
attempted to rise from that place, she stuck to the wood in such a manner
that she could not be parted from it, till, in the presence of the people
who flocked to see her, she had suffered her clothes to be torn from her,
and had received a severe discipline on her naked body, and that too to a
great effusion of blood, and with many tears and devout supplications on
her part; which done, and after she had engaged to submit to further
penitence, she was divinely released."

In this instance, as in many others, freedom from vulgar habiliments
appears to have been considered as acceptable to Heaven; so much so,
indeed, that the state of greater or lesser nudity has been commensurate
with the degree of the offence. The Cynic philosophers of Greece, among
whom Diogenes made himself most conspicuous, used to appear in public
without a rag upon them. The Indian wise men, called Gymnosophists, or
naked sages, indulged in the same vagaries. In more modern times, the
Adamites appeared in the simple condition of our first father. In the 13th
century, a sect called _Les Turlupins_ (a denomination which appears to
have been an opprobrious nickname), perambulated France, disencumbered of
vain accoutrements; and, in 1535, some Anabaptists made an excursion in
Amsterdam in the condition in which they had quitted their baths, for
which breach of decorum the impious burgomasters had them bastinadoed. We
further read of one Friar Juniperus, a worthy Franciscan, who, according
to history, "entered the town of Viterboo, and, while he stood within the
gate, he put his hose on his head, and his gown being tied round his neck
in the shape of a load, he walked through the streets of the town, where
he suffered much abuse and maltreatment from the wicked inhabitants; and,
still in the same situation, he went to the convent of the brothers, who
all exclaimed against him, but he cared little for them, _so holy was the
good little brother_ (_tam sanctus fuit iste fraticellus_)."

The pranks of brother Juniper have been performed at sundry periods by
various holy men. Are we not warranted in conceiving that these
individuals were dæmonomaniacs? for surely the devil alone could have
inspired them with such fancies, although Cardinal Damian defends the
practice in the following terms, when speaking of the day of judgment:
"Then shall the sun lose its lustre, the moon shall be involved in
darkness; the stars shall fall from their places, and all the elements be
confounded together: of what service then will be to you those clothes and
garments with which you are now covered, and which you refuse to lay
aside, to submit to the exercise of penitence?"

It must be remarked, in extenuation of these exhibitions, that they were
accompanied by flagellation; which sometimes bore a close analogy to those
of the Saturnalia and Lupercalia, and the discipline of the flagellants
was not always dissimilar to that of the Luperci.

To resume: Dæmonomania may be considered the result of a morbid condition
of the mind, and the dread of supernatural agency. The belief of an
incarnation of the devil leads to the natural apprehension of his having
taken possession of our bodies, when a credulous creature fancies that he
has fallen into his snares, and forsaken the ways of the Omnipotent. This
sad delusion has been admirably illustrated by Sir Walter Scott in his
curious and learned Demonology. "It is, I think," says he, "conclusive
that mankind, from a very early period, have their minds prepared for such
events (supernatural occurrences) by the consciousness of the existence of
a spiritual world. But imagination is apt to intrude its explanations and
inferences founded on inadequate evidence. Sometimes our violent and
inordinate passions, originating in sorrow for our friends, remorse for
our crimes, our eagerness of patriotism, or our deep sense of
devotion,--these, or other violent excitements of a moral character, in
the visions of the night, or the rapt ecstasy of the day, persuade us that
we witness with our eyes and ears an actual instance of that supernatural
communication, the possibility of which cannot be denied. At other times
the corporeal organs impose upon the mind, while the eye and the ear,
diseased, deranged, or misled, convey false impressions to the patient.
Very often both the mental delusion and the physical deception exist at
the same time; and men's belief of the phenomena presented to them,
however erroneously, by the senses, is the firmer and more readily
granted, that the physical impressions corresponded with the mental

From the foregoing observations we may venture to conclude, that an
individual who gives credence to apparitions will also believe in the
incarnation of the devil. In both cases we infer that spiritual beings can
assume corporeal forms; and, although we may not presume to question the
possibility of such appearances when it may please the Omnipotent so to
will it, to believe in possession is actually to admit that the devil is a
spiritual being endowed with specific attributes and powers, and acting
either independently or with the consent of the Almighty. This admission
would to a certain extent border on the heresy of the Manicheans, who
believed, with the heresiarch Cubricus, that there existed a good and an
evil principle coeternal and independent of each other. We find in Holy
Writ that indulgence was granted to Satan to visit the earth. But the
period when miraculous power ceased, or rather was withdrawn from the
church, is not determined. The Protestants bring it down beneath the
accession of Constantine, while the Roman Catholic clergy still claim the
power of producing or procuring supernatural manifestations when it suits
their purpose; but, as Scott justly observes, it is alike inconsistent
with the common sense of either Protestant or Roman Catholic, that fiends
should be permitted to work marvels, which are no longer exhibited on the
part of religion.

Cullen's opinion on this disease is worthy of remark. He says, "I do not
allow that there is any true dæmonomania, because few people nowadays
believe that demons have any power over our bodies or our minds; and, in
my opinion, the species recorded are either a species of melancholy or
mania,--diseases falsely referred by the spectators to the power of
demons,--feigned diseases,--or diseases partly real or partly feigned."

Esquirol, moreover, justly observes, that "in modern times the punishments
that the priest denounces have ceased to influence the minds and the
conduct of men, and governments have recourse to restraints of a
different kind. Many lunatics express now as much dread of the tribunals
of justice, as they formerly entertained of the influence of stars and

We frequently meet with despondent monomaniacs labouring under the fatal
delusion of having forfeited all hopes of salvation, and being in fact
inevitably doomed to perdition, but who are apparently of sound mind when
touching upon other subjects. The case of one Samuel Brown was peculiarly
striking. This unfortunate man, at a period when all his intellectual
faculties were in full vigour, fancied that his rational soul had
gradually succumbed under divine displeasure, and that he solely enjoyed
an animal life in common with brutes.

Esquirol affirms that this form of lunacy is of rare occurrence, and that
out of upwards of 20,000 insane persons whom he has observed, scarcely one
case of dæmonomania could be found in a thousand, and these were amongst
the lowest and most uneducated classes of society. The most powerful charm
to withstand the efforts of the evil spirit, is the following one
generally made use of in Livonia.

_Two eyes have seen thee--may three eyes deign to cast a favourable look
upon thee, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost._


Pestilential diseases have ever been considered a punishment inflicted on
mankind for their manifold offences. The ancients deified the calamity,
and viewed it in the light of an avenging god. In the Oedipus of
Sophocles, the chorus implore Minerva to preserve them from that divinity,
which, without sword or buckler, strews the Theban streets with corpses,
and is more invincible than Mars himself. Lucretius describes the plague
of Athens as a holy fire,--

  Et simul, ulceribus quasi inustis, omne rubore
  Corpus, ut est, per membra _sacer_ quum diditur _ignis_.

The plague was known in an early era both to the Israelites and to the
Greeks, and its ancient and modern histories have descended to us depicted
in the most terrific colours, in a regular stream of Hebrew, Greek,
Arabic, and Roman writers, in most instances offering little variety from
the descriptions of neoteric observers.

The pestilences that visited the Israelites were, however, of a different
character. They were also considered as a Divine chastisement of the sins
of that stiff-necked nation. This visitation, accurately described in Holy
Writ, has led to the most curious disquisitions. Bryant has endeavoured by
the most recondite researches to give us the reasons why the Creator
thought proper thus to visit his disobedient people. It has been truly
observed that the sublime is not far removed from the ridiculous; and it
may be said with equal correctness, that enthusiasm in religion too
frequently borders upon impiety. Bryant, in his erudite labour, has
unhappily fallen into this extreme, in assigning human motives to the
decrees of the Deity. This matter is treated in so curious a manner that
it will not be irrelevant to notice his bold assertions.

In the first instance, taking the language of the Exodus in the most
literal sense, he tells us that the river was turned into blood, _because_
it was a punishment particularly well adapted to that blinded and
infatuated people, as a warning to the Israelites of the insufficiency of
the false gods that the Egyptians worshipped. They had rendered divine
homage to the Nile; and Herodotus informs us that the Persians held their
rivers in the highest veneration; while the same worship obtained among
the Medes, the Parthians, and the Sarmatians. The Greeks adored the
Spercheius, to whose god Peleus vowed the hair of his son; the laureated
Peneus, the earth-born Achelous, and the loving Alpheus. For, although it
may be said that these streams were merely venerated as the symbols of
their respective gods, it is possible that the Greeks might have fallen
into the same errors as the worshippers of saintly images in more modern
and enlightened times. Therefore, says our learned author, there was a
great propriety in the judgment brought upon this people by Moses. They
must have felt the utmost astonishment and horror when they beheld the
sacred stream changed and polluted, and the divinity which they worshipped
so shamefully soiled and debased. Moreover, he tells us that the Egyptian
priests were particularly nice and delicate in their outward habits,
making constant ablutions; and abhorred blood, or any stain of gore. In
this plague the fish that were in the river died, and the river stunk. Now
the priests and holy men not only never tasted fish, but looked upon them
as deities. A city was built in honour of the god-fish, Oxyrunchus; the
Phagrus[12] was worshipped at Syene, the Mæotis at Elephantis, and
Antiphanes tells us that the Egyptians equally reverenced the eel.

The second plague were frogs, _because_, further saith our sapient
authority, they added to the stink of the land, as they "died out of the
houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields, and were gathered
together in heaps, and the land stunk," Exodus viii. 13, 14. Bryant
candidly confesses that he is rather uncertain if this reptile was an
object of reverence, or of abhorrence to the Egyptians; nevertheless, he
draws the conclusion that, as the ancients worshipped many deities of
dread, and others that they despised, (such as Priapus, Fatua, Vacuna,
Cloacina,) Mephitis, or foul effluvia, was held in religious awe,--and, to
use his own expressions, since Mephitis "signified stink in the abstract,"
and had a temple at Cremona, the pestilential emanation from the dead
frogs might have been considered as entitled to some reverence.[13]
Plutarch tells us that the frog was an emblem of the sun in Egypt, and
that the brazen palm-tree at Delphi had many of these animals engraved on
its basis. On the Bembine table we find it sitting upon the lotus, a
circumstance observed in various ancient gems; the water-lily being,
perhaps, congenial to this aquatic tribe, which were denominated the
attendants of the deities of streams and fountains. It is also alleged
that the frog was deemed an emblem of Apollo and Osiris, from its habit of
inflation, which was looked upon as being typical of inspiration. That
frogs were considered as evil symbols further appears in the Apocalypse,
where we find that "three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth
of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of
the false prophet; they are the spirits of devils working miracles."

The third plague was lice, _because_ the Egyptian priests affected great
external purity, wore linen under their woollen garments, and shaved their
heads, according to Herodotus, every third day, to prevent any louse, or
any other detestable object, from finding a comfortable shelter. Some
scholastics have ventured to insinuate that this insect was a species of
gnat; but St. Jerome and Origen very properly observe that this would have
been a presumptious anticipation of the plague of flies, which constituted
the _fourth_ visitation, _because_ flies were also held sacred by the
Egyptians, and were worshipped under the name of _Achon_, _Acoron_, and
_Zebub_, more particularly in the city of _Acaron_ or _Accoron_. Baal was
the god of flies, and the fly was worshipped at _Ekron_, where it was
called _Baal-ze-bub_,--hence _Belzebub_.

The next plague was the murrain of beasts; _because_ it was necessary that
the Israelites should not only see that the cattle of the Egyptians were
all infected, while theirs were exempted from the evil; but that their
very living symbol of the bull Apis, in whom the soul of Osiris had taken
up its dwelling, was affected with epizooty in common with other herds of
horned deities, who were called _Dii Stercorei_; though it appears that
the ass and the camel were involved in the same calamity.

Our commentator attempts to account for the sixth plague of boils and
blains with equal ingenuity. He affirms that this cruel disorder was sent
among the Egyptians to show the Israelites that the medical men to whom
they attributed divine powers, could neither cure nor alleviate the
disease. The science of medicine bequeathed by Isis to her son Orus was of
no avail, and the learned records of Tosorthrus yielded no information. In
vain did their leeches search their cryptæ and sacred caverns, or consult
their mystic obelisks, which, according to Manetho, were inscribed with
the aphorisms of medical experience; their physicians only increased the
number of the _botches_ of the land. The Scriptures state that this
pestilential malady was produced by the ashes that Aaron and Moses
scattered up towards heaven to be wafted over the country. Bryant also
accounts for this circumstance, and attributes this method of extending
the calamity to the barbarous practice of the Egyptians of burning human
victims and scattering the ashes in the air, in a like manner to
propitiate their gods.

The fall of rain, hail, fire, and thunder, that constituted the seventh
plague, was a chastisement inflicted on the worshippers of these supposed
elements. Their Isis presided over the waters, and Osiris and Hephaistus
governed fire. Moreover the flax was smitten, whereby the Egyptians were
deprived of the means of making linen, the finest of which was their boast
and their pride. The barley was also destroyed, and they had no materials
for brewing their favourite potation, barley-wine; a species of beer which
constituted their chief beverage when the waters of the Nile were turbid
and not potable.[14]

But, according to Jacob Bryant, this destruction was not deemed
sufficient, since the fecundity of Egypt would soon have replenished their
granaries, manufactures, and breweries; therefore locusts were sent to
devour every thing that the former devastation had spared; and this plague
was a punishment of their belief that Hercules and Apollo had the power of
controlling these ravenous insects, which were called _Parnopes_ and
_Cornopes_, whence Apollo was named _Parnopius_, and Hercules _Cornopion_.
It also appears that the grasshoppers, or _cicadæ_, were venerated, both
as sacred and musical; and the Athenians wore golden ones in their hair,
to denote the antiquity of their race of earth-born breed.

Now it is somewhat singular, that while our ingenious author makes such
learned inquiries to account for the motives that induced God thus to
visit the Egyptians, he does not venture to assign motives for similar
calamities which befel other nations and countries; although his
researches on the subject are so curious and interesting, that they
deserve insertion.

The following is the account given by Beauplam of the destructive inroad
of these devourers in the Ukraine:--"Next to the flies, let us talk of the
grasshoppers or locusts, which here are so numerous, that they put one in
mind of the scourge of God sent upon Egypt when he punished Pharaoh. These
creatures do not only come in legions, but in whole clouds, five or six
leagues in length, and two or three in breadth, eating up all sorts of
grain or grass, so that wheresoever they come, in less than two hours they
crop all they can find, which causes great scarcity of provisions. It is
not easy to express their numbers, for all the air is full and darkened;
and I cannot better represent their flight to you, than by comparing it to
the flakes of snow driven by the wind in cloudy weather; and when they
alight to feed, the plains are all covered. They make a murmuring noise as
they eat, and in less than two hours they devour all close to the ground;
then rising, they suffer themselves to be carried away by the wind. When
they fly, though the sun shines never so bright, the air is no lighter
than when most clouded. In June 1646, having stayed in a new town called
Novogorod, I was astonished to see so vast a multitude. They were hatched
here last spring; and being as yet scarcely able to fly, the ground was
all covered, and the air so full of them, that I could not eat in my
chamber without a candle, all the houses being full of them, even the
stables, barns, chambers, garrets, cellars, &c. I have seen at night, when
they sit to rest themselves, that the roads have been four inches thick of
them, one upon another. By the wheels of the carts and the feet of our
horses bruising these creatures, there came from them such a stink, as
not only offended the nose but the brain. I was not able to endure the
stench, but was forced to wash my nose with vinegar, and to hold a
handkerchief dipped in it to my nostrils perpetually. These vermin
increase and multiply thus: they generate in October, and with their tails
make a hole in the ground, and having laid three hundred eggs in it, and
covered them with their feet, die; for they never live above six months
and a half. And though the rains should come, they would not destroy the
eggs; nor does the frost, never so sharp, hurt them. But they continue to
the spring, which is about mid-April; when the sun warming the earth, they
are hatched, and leap about, being six weeks old before they can fly; when
stronger, and able to fly, they go wherever the wind carries them. If it
should happen that a north-east wind prevails, it carries them all into
the black sea; but if the wind blows from any other quarter, they go into
some other country to do mischief. I have been told by persons who
understand the languages well, that the words _Boze Guion_, which mean the
scourge of God, are written in Chaldee characters upon their wings."

Norden mentions that there were supposed to be hieroglyphic marks upon the
heads of these insects. Such was the pestilential scourge of the Ukraine;
although I do not apprehend that its inhabitants ever worshipped
_Parnopius_ or _Cornopion_, or decorated their filthy heads with golden
grasshoppers. Other regions were occasionally visited by these insects.
Ludolphus, in speaking of Ethiopia, says, "But much more pernicious than
these (the numerous serpents) are the locusts, which do not frequent the
desert and sandy places, like the serpents, but the places best manured,
and orchards laden with fruit. They appear in prodigious multitudes, like
a cloud which obscures the sun; nor plants, nor trees, nor shrubs appear
untouched, and wherever they feed, what is left appears as it were parched
with fire. A general mortality ensues; and regions lie waste for years."

Francis Alvarez thus speaks of the same calamity in the country of Prester
John. "In this country, and in all the dominions of Prete Janni, there is
a very great and horrible plague: this arises from an innumerable number
of locusts, which eat and consume all the corn and the trees. And the
number of these creatures is so great as to be incredible, and with their
numbers they cover the earth, and fill the air in such wise, that it is a
hard matter to see the sun. And if the damage they do were general through
all the provinces, the people would perish with famine. But one year they
destroy one province, sometimes two or three of the provinces; and
wherever they go the country remaineth more ruined and destroyed than if
it had been set on fire." The author adds, that he exorcised them upon
their invading a district in which he resided, when they all made off; but
in the mean time, he adds, "there arose a great storm and thunder towards
the sea, which came right against them. It lasted three hours, with an
exceeding great shower and tempest. It was a dreadful thing to behold the
dead locusts, (whom, by the way he had exorcised,) which we measured to be
above two fathoms high upon the banks of the rivers."

Barbot, in describing Upper Guinea, tells us that "famines are some years
occasioned by the dreadful swarms of grasshoppers or locusts, which come
from the eastward, and spread all over the country in such prodigious
multitudes, that they darken the air, passing over our heads like a mighty

Orosius states that in the consulship of Marcus Plautius Hypsæus and
Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, A.R. 628, Africa was desolated by a swarm of these
insects, which for a while were supported in the air, but were ultimately
cast into the sea. "After this," he adds, "the surf threw up upon that
long extended coast such numerous heaps of their dead and corrupted
bodies, that there ensued from putrefaction a most unsupportable and
poisonous stench. This soon brought on a pestilence, which affected every
species of animals, so that all birds, and sheep, and cattle, also the
wild beasts of the field died, and their carcases being soon rendered
putrid by the foulness of the air, added greatly to the general
corruption. In respect to men, it is impossible, without horror, to
describe the shocking devastation. In Numidia, where at the time Micipsa
was king, eighty thousand persons perished. Upon that part of the
sea-coast which bordered upon the regions of Carthage and Utica, the
number of those carried off by this pestilence is said to have been two
hundred thousand."

Now when man in all his proud ignorance dares to assume the power of
canvassing the acts of the Almighty, and to attribute to his inscrutable
will human motives, which generally arise from mortal frailty, he might as
well endeavour to account for similar casualties which visited other
nations than the Egyptians, and seek for the causes of the scourges of
Carthage, Ethiopia, and Tartary. It is grievous to see the intellectual
faculties of man perverted in such idle, one might venture to say, in such
impious researches. It is strange that the learned Bryant did not
associate the death of the first-born with ideas of primogeniture!

The ninth plague of darkness he attributes to the prevalence of the
worship of the sun, under the title of Osiris, Ammon, Orus, Isis, and the
like. _Because_ the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, Persians, Phoenicians,
Syrians, Rhodians, and various other nations, considered themselves
Heliadæ, or descendants of the sun. "What, then, can be more reasonable,"
continues our antiquary, "than for a people who thus abused their
faculties, who raised to themselves a god of Day, their Osiris, and
instead of that intellectual light, the wisdom of the Almighty,
substituted a created and inanimate element as a just object of
worship,--what could be more apposite than for people of this cast to be
doomed to a judicial and temporary darkness?" Unfortunately, in the very
next paragraph we are told that the Egyptians showed an equal reverence to
night and darkness: obscurity, therefore, was only replacing one false god
by another. They paid a religious regard to the _mugall_, a kind of mole,
on account of its supposed blindness; and night was conceived more sacred
than day, from its greater antiquity, since, according to the Phoenician
theology, the wind _Copias_ and his wife _Baan_ were esteemed the same as
night, and were the authors of the first beings. In the poems of Orpheus,
Night is considered as the creative principle; and in the Orphic hymns we
find Night invoked as "the parent of gods and men, and the origin of all

This attempt to show an analogy between the crimes and sins of the
Egyptians and the punishment they received, is too curious to be
overlooked. The mania of seeking for the cause of every thing, reminds one
of a singular character in Trinity College, Dublin, formerly well known,
who invariably gave a reason for every direction he thought proper to
issue; and he was once heard to address a servant in the following words:
"Pat, put a cover upon that mutton. It is not for the purpose of keeping
it hot, _because_ it is cold, but it is _because_ I do not wish the flies
to get at it, _because_ fly-blown meat is both unpleasant to the taste and
injurious to the health."

It appears probable that the plague originated in Egypt. From time
immemorial to the present day the lower provinces have been subject to
this cruel scourge. Wars, intestine commotions, and misrule have too
frequently prevented the local authorities from paying proper attention to
measures of public salubrity. Herodotus tells us, that when he was at
Memphis, Egypt was just liberated from a long-protracted war, during
which political economy had been neglected, canals had been abandoned and
choked up, and the frontiers of the land were infested with banditti,
while the interior was desolated by pestilential disorders. My much
esteemed friend Baron Larrey, in his valuable work upon Egypt, has given a
topographical description of the country; and the influence that the
seasons exercise upon it, must be evident. He informs us that after the
spring equinox, and especially towards the beginning of June, the
southerly winds are prevalent for about fifty days. Their scorching
influence is experienced for upwards of four hours, while they waft with
fatal rapidity putrid emanations exhaled by animal and vegetable bodies
decomposed in the lakes formed by the receding waters of the Nile. From
various observations it has been concluded that the plague is both an
endemic and contagious disease in Lower Egypt, but simply contagious in
Upper Egypt, Syria, the other Turkish provinces, and Europe. No account of
the plague in Abyssinia, Sennaar, or the interior of Africa, is given by
any traveller.

The most fatal European plagues were probably those that desolated London
in 1664, and Marseilles in 1720. The accounts of these fearful visitations
are as curious as they are appalling. In London it broke out in the
beginning of December, when two foreigners (Frenchmen it was reported)
died of this disorder in Long-Acre, near Drury Lane. The cold weather and
frost that followed, seemed to check its progress, until the month of
April, when it appeared with intensity in the parishes of St. Andrew,
Holborn, and St. Clement Danes. In May, the parish of St. Giles buried a
great number. Wood Street, Fenchurch Street, and Crooked Lane, were soon
visited, until terror was so general, that crowds of inhabitants
panic-struck, on foot, on horse, in coaches, waggons, and carts, were
thronging Broad Street and Whitechapel, fleeing from the calamity. To such
an extent was migration carried, that not a horse could be bought or
hired. Many fugitives, fearful of stopping at inns, carried tents to lie
in the fields, and people moved in the centre of the streets, in dread of
coming into contact with others sallying forth from their houses. During
this state of universal panic, it may be easily imagined that hypocrisy
and roguery were busily employed in increasing the evil, at the expense of
the credulous. Pretended wizards and cunning people affirmed that a comet
had appeared several months previous to the increase of the malady, as a
similar meteor had visited London before the great fire; only the fire
comet was bright and sparkling, and the plague comet was dull, and of a
languid colour. Lilly's Almanac and Gadbury's Astrological Predictions
were in general demand; while pamphlets, entitled "Come out of her, my
people, lest you be partakers of her plagues," "Fair Warning," and
"Britain's Remembrancer," were eagerly circulated, as they denounced the
utter ruin of the city. One of these prophets ran about the streets,
without the encumbrance of any garment, roaring out, "Yet forty days, and
London shall be destroyed;" while another, equally divested of raiment,
bellowed out, "Oh! the great and the dreadful God!" Some asserted that
they had seen a hand with a flaming sword coming out of the clouds, while
others beheld hearses and coffins floating in the air.

The following is a quaint narrative of these absurdities: "One time before
the plague was begun, I think it was in March, seeing a crowd of people in
the street, I joined with them to satisfy my curiosity, and I found them
all staring up in the air to see what a woman told them appeared plain to
her, which was an angel clothed in white, with a fiery sword in his hand,
waving it and brandishing it over his head. She described every part of
the figure to the life, showed them the motions and the form; and the poor
people came into it readily. 'Yes, I see it all plainly,' says one;
'there's the sword as plain as can be.' Another saw his very face, and
cried out, 'What a glorious creature he was!' One saw one thing, and one
another. I looked as earnestly as the rest, and said I could see nothing
but a cloud. However, the woman turned from me; called me a profane fellow
and a scoffer; told me that it was a time of God's anger, and dreadful
judgments were approaching, and that despisers such as I should _wonder
and perish_. Another encounter I had in the open day also, in going
through a narrow passage from Petty-France into Bishopsgate churchyard. In
this narrow passage stands a man looking through between the palisadoes
into the burying-place, and he was pointing now to one place, then to
another, and affirming that he saw a ghost walking upon such a
grave-stone; he described the shape, the posture, and the movement of it
so exactly, crying on a sudden, 'There it is--now it comes this way--now
'tis turned back!' till at length he persuaded the people into so firm a
belief of it, that they fancied they saw it; and thus he came every day,
making a strange hubbub, till Bishopsgate clock struck eleven, and then
the ghost would start and disappear on a sudden."

Such sanctimonious tricks are historical. Don Bernal Dias del Castello
tells us, in his account of the Mexican conquest, that St. Jago appeared
in the van of the army, mounted on a white horse, and leading the troops
on to victory. He frankly owns that he did not see this blessed vision;
nay, that a cavalier, by name Francisco de Morla, mounted on a chestnut
steed, was fighting in the very place where the patron of Spain was said
to have appeared; but, instead of drawing the natural conclusion, that the
whole business was got up as an illusion, he devoutly exclaims, "Sinner
that I was, what am I that I should have been permitted to behold the
blessed apostle!"

These impostures remind us of the story of the wag who, fixing his eyes
upon the lion over Northumberland House, exclaimed, "By heaven! it
wags--it wags!" and contrived by these means to collect an immense mob in
the street, many of whom swore that they did absolutely see the lion
wagging his tail.

Crowds of pretended fortune-tellers, and astrologers and cunning men, were
soon in good business, and their trade became so generally practised, that
they had signs denoting their profession over their doors, with
inscriptions announcing, "Here lives a fortune-teller,"--"Here you may
have your nativity cast;" and the head of Friar Bacon, Mother Shipton, or
Merlin, were their usual signs: and if any unfortunate man of grave
appearance, and wearing a black cloak, went abroad, he was immediately
assailed by the mob as a necromancer, and supplicated to reveal futurity.
At such a period, it may be easily imagined that quacks were not satisfied
with mere gleanings; and _infallible pills_, _never-failing
preservatives_, _sovereign cordials_, and _incomparable drinks_, against
the plague, were announced in every possible manner; and _universal
remedies_, _the only true plague-water_, and _the royal antidote_, became
themes of universal discourse. An eminent _High_ Dutch physician, newly
come over from Holland, where he resided during all the time of the
plague,--an Italian gentlewoman, having a choice secret to prevent
infection, and that did wonders in a plague that destroyed twenty thousand
people a-day, were announced by bills at every corner.

One ingenious mountebank realized a fortune by announcing _that he gave
advice to the poor for nothing_: crowds flocked to consult him; but he
took half-a-crown for his remedy, on the plea that, although his advice
was given gratis, he was obliged to sell his physic. While these
speculations were going on, all "plays, bear-baiting, games, singing of
ballads, and buckler-play," were prohibited; all feasting, "particularly
by the companies of this city," was punished; watchmen guarded the doors
of the pestiferated, to prevent their egress, and a red cross was painted
on their houses. The inhabitants, thus shut up to suffer the pangs of
starvation in addition to those of pestilence, made the best of their way
out of their prison by every possible stratagem and bribery. While fervent
prayers and loud ejaculations for mercy were heard amongst distracted
families, the most offensive blasphemy and ribaldry prevailed amongst the
gravediggers, dead-cart drivers, and their wanton companions. If any one
ventured to rebuke them, he was asked, with a volley of oaths, "what
business he had to be alive, when so many better fellows were shovelled in
their graves?" to which was added a salutary recommendation to go home and
pray, until the dead-cart called for him. The watchmen got their share of
ill-usage and abuse.

All the guards had been marched out of town, with the exception of small
detachments at Whitehall and the Tower. Robbery of every description was
of course in full vigour, and every vice indulged in with impunity, while
despair drove many to madness and suicide,--several individuals rushing
naked out of their houses, and running to the river to drown themselves if
not stopped by the watch. People fell dead while making purchases of
provisions in the market; where, instead of receiving the meat from the
butcher's hands, each buyer unhooked his purchase, and paid for it by
throwing the value in a vessel filled with vinegar. Mothers destroyed
their children, and nurses smothered their patients, while the bedclothes
were stolen from the couch of the dead.

Among the curious anecdotes of the time, the following is worth insertion:
"A neighbour of mine, having some money owing to him from a shopkeeper in
Whitecross-street, sent his apprentice, a youth of eighteen years of age,
to get the money; he came to the door, and finding it shut, knocked pretty
hard until he heard somebody coming down stairs. At length the man of the
house came to the door; he had on his breeches or drawers, a yellow
flannel waistcoat, no stockings, and a pair of slipt shoes, a white cap on
his head, and death in his face. When he opened the door, he said, 'What
do you disturb me thus for?'--'I come from such a one, my master,' replied
the boy, 'to ask for the money you owe him.'--'Very well, my child,'
returns the living ghost; 'call as you go by at Cripple-gate church, and
bid them toll the bell.' So saying, he went up stairs again, and died the
same hour."

The story of the piper is founded on fact. This poor fellow having made
merry in a public-house in Coleman-street, fell fast asleep under a stall
near London Wall, Cripplegate; the under-sexton of St. Stephen's, one John
Hayward, was going his rounds with his dead-cart, when he espied the
piper, and, conceiving him to be a dead man, tumbled him on his heap of
corpses, till, arrived at the burying-pit at Mount Hill, as they were
about shooting the cart, the musician awoke, and, to the utter terror of
the sexton and his comrades, began to set up his pipes.

The following relation of a case of grief is rather remarkable. "A man was
so much affected by the death of all his relations, and overcome with the
pressure upon his spirits, that by degrees his head sunk into his body so
between his shoulders, that the crown of his head was very little seen
above the bones of his shoulders, and, by degrees losing both voice and
sense, his face looking forward, lay against his collar-bone, and could
not be kept up any otherwise unless held up by the hands of other people;
and the poor man never came to himself again, but languished near a year
in this condition, and died." This was _depression_ with a vengeance!

Some of these unfortunate victims of the pestilential disease seem to have
had poetical inspirations, for one of two men who had fled to the country
was found dead with the following inscription cut out with his knife on a
wooden gate near him:

  WE. BoTH ShaLL. DyE
      WoE. WoE:

and our historian, who fortunately escaped the calamity, terminates his
work with the following lines:

  A dreadful plague in London was
    In the year sixty-five,
  Which swept an hundred thousand souls
    Away; yet I alive.

Astrologers were of opinion that the plague of London arose from a
conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Sagittarius on the tenth of October,
or from a conjunction of Saturn and Mars in the same sign on the twelfth
of November.[15]

Great as the mortality was during this affliction, the history of various
other pestilences in foreign countries presents as melancholy a result. In
Moscow, the plague introduced by the Turkish army carried off 22,000
inhabitants in a single month, and sometimes 12,000 in twenty-four hours.
In Morocco, the mortality amounted to 1000 daily; in Old and New Fez, to
1500; in Terodant to 800. The total loss sustained in these cities and in
the Mogadore was estimated at 124,500 souls.

The black pestilence of the fourteenth century also caused the most
terrific ravages in England. It has been supposed to have borne some
resemblance to the cholera, but that is not the case; it derived its name
from the dark livid colour of the spots and boils that broke out upon the
patient's body. Like the cholera, the fatal disease appeared to have
followed a regular route in its destructive progress; but it did not, like
the cholera, advance westward, although like that fearful visitation it
appears to have originated in Asia.

The black pestilence descended along the Caucasus to the shores of the
Mediterranean, and instead of entering Europe through Russia, first spread
over the south, and after devastating the rest of Europe penetrated into
that country. It followed the caravan, which came from China across
Central Asia, until it reached the shores of the Black Sea; thence it was
conveyed by ships to Constantinople, the centre of commercial intercourse
between Asia, Europe, and Africa. In 1347 it reached Sicily and some of
the maritime cities of Italy and Marseilles. During the following year it
spread over the northern part of Italy, France, Germany, and England. The
northern kingdom of Europe was invaded by it in 1349, and finally Russia
in 1351,--four years after it had appeared in Constantinople.

The following estimate of deaths was considered far below the actual
number of victims:

  Florence lost                 60,000 inhabitants
  Venice     "                  10,000      "
  Marseilles "  in one month    56,000      "
  Paris      "        "         50,000      "
  Avignon    "        "         60,000      "
  Strasburg  "        "         16,000      "
  Basle      "        "         14,000      "
  Erfurth    "        "         16,000      "
  London     "        "        100,000      "
  Norwich    "        "         50,000      "

Hecker states that this pestilence was preceded by great commotion in the
interior of the globe. About 1333, several earthquakes and volcanic
eruptions did considerable injury in upper Asia, while in the same year,
Greece, Italy, France, and Germany suffered under similar disasters. The
harvests were swept away by inundations, and clouds of locusts destroyed
all that the floods had spared, while dense masses of offensive insects
strewed the land.

As in the recent invasion of cholera, the populace attributed this scourge
to poison and to the Jews, and these hapless beings were persecuted and
destroyed wherever they could be found. In Mayence, after vainly
attempting to defend themselves, they shut themselves up in their
quarters, where 1200 of them were burnt to death. The only asylum found by
them was Lithuania where Casimir afforded them protection; and it is
perhaps owing to this circumstance that so many Jewish families are still
to be found in Poland.

A curious monumental record of the plague is to be seen at Eyam, an
insignificant village in Derbyshire, to the eastward of Tideswell. It is
an ancient stone cross of curious form and workmanship, erroneously stated
to have been erected to commemorate the extinction of the pestilence which
was supposed to have been brought there in a bag of woollen clothes, sent
from London to a tailor of the place. The hamlet was soon infected, and
its panic-struck inhabitants fled in every direction, scattering death in
their flight, until driven back within their boundaries. During the
prevalence of this scourge, tradition makes honourable mention of the
rector of the parish, William Mompesson. Determined not to abandon his
flock in the hour of need, he never quitted the devoted spot. In vain he
entreated his wife to remove from the pestilential sphere of action--she
would not leave him. Eyam was now cut off from all communication with the
neighbourhood. The worthy clergyman addressed the Earl of Devonshire, then
residing at Chatsworth, acquainting him with his resolution, and
requesting that regular supplies of provisions might be duly placed in
certain points of the adjacent hills. If this request was attended to, he
pledged himself that none of his parishioners should transgress a given
boundary. Troughs and wells, which are still there, were dug to secure
water supplied by a stream, which to this day bears the hallowed name of
_Mompesson brook_. The following account of this benevolent pastor's
conduct in this emergency is not without interest:

"Aware that any assemblage of people breathing the same air under a
confined roof, and coming into immediate contact with each other, must be
highly dangerous, he closed the door of the church, availing himself of a
nobler substitute "not made with hands,"--a rock that projected from the
side of a steep hill, near the village, in a deep and narrow dingle. This
rock is excavated through in different directions, the arches being from
12 to 19 feet high. In the middle of this romantic dell, from one of these
natural porticoes, three times a week did he read prayers, and twice on
Sundays did he address to his death-stricken congregation, the words of
eternal life. By his own immediate directions, they arranged themselves on
the declivity near the bottom, at the distance of a yard asunder. This
spot is deservedly still held sacred, and known by the name of _Cucklet

The following letter from this worthy clergyman, dated 20th November,
1666, energetically describes the calamity:

"The condition of this place has been so sad, that I persuaded myself it
did exceed all history and example. I may truly say that our place has
become a Golgotha--the place of a skull; and had there not been a small
remnant of us left, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto
Gomorrha; my ears never heard, my eyes never beheld such ghastly
spectacles. Now, blessed be God, all our fears are over, for none have
died of the infection since the 11th of October, and all the pesthouses
have been long empty. I meant, God willing, to spend most of this week in
seeing all woollen clothes fumed and purified, as well for the
satisfaction as the safety of the country.

"Here has been such burning of goods, that the like I think was never
known. I have scarcely left myself apparel to shelter my body from the
cold, and have wasted more than needed, merely for example. As for my
part, I cannot say that I had ever been in better health than during the
time of this dreadful visitation, neither can I say that I have had any
symptoms of the disease."

During a considerable time the benevolent man and his wife had escaped the
malady, but at last his excellent wife was smitten, and died in his arms
at the age of 27--far from her children, who had been sent away at the
commencement of the invasion.

In 1813, Malta was visited with this fatal malady; when the scenes of the
plague that desolated the island in the sixteenth century were renewed,
notwithstanding all the sanitary precautions adopted by various
governments since that period.

Count Ciantar in his "_Malta illustrata_," gives an interesting account of
the introduction of the plague at four different periods in that island.
The first was in 1592; when, in the month of May, four galleys belonging
to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, entered the port to procure pilots for the
service. By permission of the Grand Master, Cardinal Verclula, a pilot was
obtained, and the vessels steered towards the Egyptian coast. In the
vicinity of Alexandria, they captured a galley bound to Constantinople,
having on board 150 Turks. On hearing that the plague was raging at
Alexandria, they returned to Malta with their prize, which was discovered
to be infected, and for the first time the plague was brought into the

The second plague broke out in 1623, and originated in the house of Paulus
Emilius Ramadus, guardian of the port. But the whole of the infected
persons having been immediately sent to the Lazaretto, the progress of the
disease was checked, and it only carried off forty-five persons.

The third plague took place in 1633, and broke out at the Marina gate,
where vessels from the Levant usually anchored. The proprietor of a house
in that quarter, having had some communication with one of these ships,
contracted the disease, and infected his sister, who resided in the
country at Casal Zeitun, and shortly after the whole family was attacked,
their speedy removal to the Lazaretto, however arrested the disease.

The fourth appearance of this malady in Malta, was far more destructive
than it had been in the preceding years, even in 1675, and it continued
its ravages for seven months. This circumstance has been attributed to a
difference of opinion that prevailed among the members of the
commissioners appointed to take the necessary steps for checking the
progress of the disease. It appears that doubts were entertained as to the
nature of the malady, hence the requisite precautions were not enforced;
and instead of separating the diseased from the healthy part of the
community, with the utmost rigour, prayers were put up, vows and offerings
were made, and processions paraded the streets, nor it was not until the
Grand Master had sent to France for medical aid, that the scourge was
mitigated. On their arrival the first steps adopted by these physicians
was to confine the inhabitants to their homes, and to remove the sick to
the Lazaret. The ravages of the disease must have been very great, since
out of a population of about 60,000, there died in Valetta 4000, in Burgo
1800, Senglen 2000, Burmola 1200, and in the villages upwards of 200.

The last plague was supposed to have been brought in by a vessel from
Alexandria, that entered the port on the 28th of March, 1813. It appeared
that two of the crew had been seized during the voyage with symptoms of
plague, then prevailing in Alexandria, which place the vessel had left
with a foul bill of health. On the same day another vessel, the Nancy
arrived from the same port, having also on board two men labouring under
the disease, and she was followed by a Spanish polacca, the Bella Maria,
from the same quarter. It was on the 16th of April that the disease first
appeared in the island, in the case of a shoemaker in the Strada St.
Paolo. The increase of the disorder was gradual, and from Valetta it
spread to Citta Vecchia Bircharcara.

My late friend, staff-surgeon Tully, thus describes the situation of the
Island at this period: "The warm season was now rapidly advancing, the
thermometer having risen several degrees at the latter end of May, and
unfortunately, through the superstitious prejudices of the natives,
considerable dependence was placed upon the anxiously-looked-for
alteration in the state of the atmosphere, and every day was consequently
expected to diminish the danger. This belief was too generally inculcated
not to be productive of much mischief, as most persons felt assured that,
if they could avoid danger until the summer heat set in, the evil would
cease, and that the greatly-dreaded disease would then die a natural
death. The consequence of this unfortunate belief was fatal--the freedom
of intercourse produced by this blind confidence, led to a very general
contamination, and men every where exposed to the baneful influence of the
plague, became the active agents of the dissemination throughout the whole

While the plague was thus raging at Malta, it made its appearance amongst
the inhabitants of the Morea, having, it is supposed, been introduced from
Romelia, by a man of the name of Kalangi, who was taken ill on his
arrival, and died in two days. The following day his wife and daughter
were attacked by the malady, which rapidly extended to Tornovo, and all
the neighbouring towns. During the years 1813 and 1814, the banks of the
Lepanto and the shores of Albania were nearly depopulated.

In 1815 the fatal scourge broke out in the island of Corfu, in the village
of Marathia. None of the medical men who attended the sick during this
period, attributed the invasion of the disease to contagion.

The doubt that had arisen in the minds of several experienced
practitioners in regard to the non-contagious nature of the plague, is a
matter of vital interest, since it not only concerns the health of
nations, but in a commercial point of view it becomes a question of
political economy of the utmost importance, as the severity of the
quarantine laws, which must materially effect the prosperity of trade,
would become useless if it could be proved that no contagion is to be
apprehended from a free intercourse. It is somewhat curious that Dr. Mead
long ago expressed his decided opinion that whenever the doctrine of
non-contagion should be revived in England, (and it will be so, he adds,
even a hundred years hence,) it will always excite alarm amongst those
nations who are more prudent than ourselves, and less eager to entertain
every kind of wild and visionary speculation.

The contagionists affirm that the destructive ravages of the plague of
Marseilles in 1720, when 60,000 inhabitants were carried off, arose from
neglect in enforcing a rigid separation of the diseased from the healthy
part of the community. The mortality in the plague of Messina, in 1743,
during which 43,000 people fell victims to the disorder, is also referred
to similar causes. They also maintain that the London plague of 1593,
which destroyed 11,503 persons, was ascertained to have been introduced
from Alkmaer; that the pestilence of London in 1603, which carried off
36,269 inhabitants, was brought from Ostend, and further that in 1636, the
scourge which destroyed 13,480 victims in our metropolis, had been
imported from Leyden. In 1665, when its still more fatal ravages swept
away 68,596 citizens, it had also been traced to our foreign intercourse.
Dr. Merlens who has accurately described the plague that raged at Moscow
in 1771, asserts that it was introduced by a communication with the
Turkish army. Notwithstanding which, by keeping the patients strictly
guarded, the city was maintained free from infection, while the disease
raged around in every quarter.

Mr. Jackson gives a similar account of the plague at Morocco; and he adds,
that daily observations convinced him that the epidemic was not caught by
approach, unless that approach was accompanied by an inhaling of the
breath, or by tending upon the infected person. With such a discrepance of
opinion, we cannot be surprised at this anxiety to impugn the doctrine of
those practitioners who maintain, that contagion is not to be dreaded, and
that severe sanitary precautions are therefore vexatious and oppressive.
If the progress of the disease, say the non-contagionists, depends upon
personal contact with infected persons or goods, its ravages would never
cease in those countries where no precautionary measures are taken to
prevent communication between the infected and the healthy; that in Turkey
for instance, where these precautions are not resorted to, there would be
no cessation of the malady until it had swept away the whole of the

To these arguments, plausible as they may appear in theory, it has been
replied, that the plague to a certain extent has never ceased to exist in
the Ottoman empire, but breaks out occasionally after temporary
intermissions. As to the permanence of the diseases it is well known that
like all other epidemic or endemic diseases, the plague may also be
subject to atmospheric influence and be arrested in its progress without
human aid. Sir James M'Grigor illustrates this fact in his "Sketches of
the Expedition of the Indian Troops to Egypt." When the disease first
broke out in the army, the cases sent from the regiments were from the
commencement attended with typhoid symptoms; while those from the Bengal
volunteer battalion, and the other corps encamped near the marshes of El
Hamed, were of an intermittent and remittent type. The cases that occurred
in the cold and rainy months of December and January, were of an
inflammatory character, after which, as the weather became warmer, the
disease at Cairo, Ghiza, Boula, and the isthmus of Suez assumed the form
of a mild continual fever. The plague of London in 1665, was in like
manner distinguished by a peculiar constitution of the atmosphere.

It has also been doubted whether the plague be contagious in every
instance of its appearance. Various persons have inoculated themselves
with its virus with impunity, though several were ultimately victims of
the bold experiment. In Egypt Dr. White inoculated himself ten times, but
died of the disease after the eleventh trial.[16]

The atmosphere of contagion it appears is limited, and strict attention to
keep up a line of separation generally proves effectual in arresting or
checking its progress. Contact appears necessary to extend the malady, and
a direct absorption through the skin forms the ordinary means of
transmission. When the cutaneous pores are closed by oil, or any other
substance of the kind, an exemption from the fatal scourge has been
frequently observed. Mr. Baldwin states, that among upwards of a million
of inhabitants carried off by the plague in Upper and Lower Egypt during
the space of four years, not a single oil-man, or dealer in oil, had
suffered. Mr. Jackson made the same observation in the plague of Tunis.
Dr. Assalini, an intelligent medical officer of the French army in Egypt,
does not attribute this exemption to the stoppage of the pores, but as the
result of profuse perspiration which the inunction of oil produces. The
_zeit jagghy_ or olive oil, is considered a specific by most of the
Asiatics; and my late friend Mr. Tully observed that all the attendants
upon patients suffering from the plague, who carefully smeared their
persons and their clothes with this substance, were exempt from the
infection. The same observation was corroborated by Sir Brooke Faulkener,
during the plague of Malta.

Various have been the remedial means proposed in this terrific malady, and
preservatives against it have been recorded in the following distich:

  Hæc tria labificum tollunt adverbia pestem;
  Mox, longè, tardè,--cede, recede, redi.

The celebrated plague-water was composed of master-wort, angelica, peony,
and butter-bur, viper-grass, Virginia snake-root, rue, rosemary, balm,
carduus, water-germander, marygold, dragon-blood, goats'-rue, and mint,
infused in spirits of wine.

It appears manifest from all the evidence adduced by the contending
theorists, that we may come to the following corollaries:

1. Plague may generally be considered as arising from contagion.

2. The spread and decline of the disease is influenced by local
peculiarities and revolutions in atmospheric constitution.

3. It appears probable, that under peculiar local circumstances, it may
have arisen spontaneously, without having been introduced by contagion;
but this invasion must be considered of very rare occurrence.

4. Although transmitted by contagion, a certain distance preserves the
healthy from the contamination of the diseased.

5. The enforcement of a limit of separation must be considered
indispensable in all our sanitary regulations, in the framing of which
great attention must be paid to discriminate between contagion and
infection--two sources of distemper essentially different from each other.

Although these precautions are pointed out by the result of long and
unbiassed experience, they will in all probability be solely applicable to
the plague: for we have every reason to believe that these sanitary
measures will not prove efficient against the invasion of cholera, the
yellow fever, and other diseases, which are by no means proved to be
infectious or contagious. Without entering into the discussion, I feel no
hesitation in giving it, as my decided opinion, that the cholera and
yellow fever are not contagious.


Hippocrates asserted that most individuals who abstain from food for seven
days, die within that period; or, if they survive this time, and are even
then prevailed upon to eat or drink they still perish. Various instances
of persons who have lived much longer without sustenance have been
observed. In the records of the Tower we find the history of Cicely de
Ridgeway, who was condemned to death for the murder of her husband in the
reign of Edward III., and who remained for forty days without food or
drink. This being ascribed to a miracle, she was of course pardoned. From
the result of this starvation, the story may be considered fabulous for
two reasons: first, from the improbability of the alleged abstinence; and,
secondly, from the selection of forty days, a period clearly fixed upon
for miracle-making, being the exact number of days our Saviour fasted.

We have a better authenticated case in the one mentioned by Dr. Eccles in
the Edinburgh Medical Essays for 1720. The starved person was a beautiful
young lady, about sixteen years of age, who, in consequence of the sudden
death of her father, was thrown into a state of tetanus (lock-jaw) so
violent as to render her incapable of swallowing for two long and distinct
periods,--the first of thirty-four, and the second of fifty-four
days,--during which she neither experienced a sense of hunger nor of
thirst, and when she recovered, she was scarcely reduced in size. Sir
William Hamilton saw a girl, sixteen years of age, who was extricated from
the ruins of a house at Oppido, in which she had remained eleven days: an
infant in her arms, but a few months old, had died on the fourth day, as
the young are not so able to endure abstinence. Dr. Willan attended a
young man who had abstained from any sustenance except a little water
flavoured with orange-juice for sixty days: death ensued a fortnight
after. Foderé mentions some workmen who were extricated alive from a cold
damp cavern, in which they had been immured under a ruin for fourteen
days. Cetois, a physician of Poitiers, relates a still more singular case
of total abstinence in a girl, who, from the age of eleven to that of
fourteen, took no nourishment.

Ann Moore, called the fasting woman of Tutbury, was to a certain extent an
impostor, for although there was no truth in her assertion that she lived
an incredible time without food, yet it appeared evident that her chief,
if not her only support, was tea. That fluid is sufficient to maintain
life appears evident from two papers inserted in the Philosophical
Transactions; one of them giving an account of four men who were compelled
to subsist upon water for twenty-four days, and the other of a young man
who tasted nothing but the same fluid for eighteen years. An imposition
having been suspected, he was shut up in close confinement for twenty days
as a trial, when he uniformly enjoyed good health.

Another wonderful instance of the same kind is that of Janet M'Leod,
published by Dr. M'Kenzie. She was at the time thirty-three years of age,
unmarried, and from the age of fifteen had had various attacks of
epilepsy, which had produced so rigid a lock-jaw that her mouth could
rarely be forced open by any contrivance; she had lost very nearly the
power of speech and deglutition, and with this all desire to eat or drink.
Her lower limbs were retracted towards her body; she was entirely confined
to her bed, slept much, and had periodical discharges of blood from the
lungs, which were chiefly thrown out by the nostrils. During a few
intervals of relaxation, she was prevailed upon with great difficulty to
put a few crumbs of bread comminuted in the hand into her mouth, together
with a little water sucked from her own hand, and, in one or two
instances, a little gruel; but, even in these attempts, almost the whole
was rejected. On two occasions, also, after a total abstinence of many
months, she made signs of wishing to drink some water, which was
immediately procured for her. On the first experiment the whole seemed to
be returned from her mouth, but she was greatly refreshed in having it
rubbed upon her throat. On the second occasion she drank off a pint at
once, but could not be prevailed upon to drink any more, although her
father had now fixed a wedge between her teeth. With these exceptions,
however, she seemed to have passed upwards of four years without either
liquids or solids of any kind, or even an appearance of swallowing; she
lay for the most part like a log of wood, with a pulse scarcely
perceptible from feebleness, but distinct and regular. Her countenance was
clear and pretty fresh; her features neither disfigured nor sunk; her
bosom round and prominent, and her limbs not emaciated. Dr. M'Kenzie
watched her with occasional visits for eight or nine years, at the close
of which period she seemed to be a little improved.

A Dutch girl of the name of Eve Hergen is reported to have lived from the
year 1597 to 1611 with no other support than the scent of flowers. The
magistrates of Meurs suspecting imposition, had her closely watched for
thirteen successive days, without being able to detect any fraud. Over her
picture were affixed some Latin verses, of which the following translation
was given in a book called "An Apologie or Declaration of the Power and
Providence of God, by George Hakewell, 1635:"

  This maid of Meurs thirty-six yeares spent,
  Fourteen of which she tooke no nourishment;
  Thus pale and wan, she sits sad and alone,
  A garden's all she loves to looke upon.

According to Pliny, the _Astoni_ had no other food than this Batavian
maiden, being unfortunately born without mouths. Sauvages mentions an
academician of Toulouse who never thirsted, and passed his summers,
notwithstanding the intense heat, without drinking. In most of the
recorded cases of total or nearly total abstinence, water has been found
more or less necessary, but not invariably.

That some animals can thrive upon water, and even upon air, is
demonstrated by naturalists. Snails and chameleons have been known to
exist upon air for years. Garman has found that this nutriment is
sufficient for the support of spiders; and Latreille has confirmed the
experiment by fixing a spider to a piece of cork, and precluding it from
any communication. Every entomologist repeatedly sees insects living in
their cases, although pinned down for an incredible length of time. Mr.
Baker relates that he kept a beetle shut up for three years without any
food. Mr. Bruce kept two cerastes, or horned snakes, in a glass jar for
two years, without any apparent food; he did not observe that they slept
in the winter season, and they cast their skin as usual on the last day of

Rudolphi kept a _Proteus Anguinus_ five years, and Zoys had one for ten
years living on spring water renewed from time to time. Redi found that
birds could sustain the want of food from five to twenty-eight days. A
seal lived out of the water and without nourishment for four weeks. Four
individuals of a large species of larval shell, (_Bulimus_,) from
Valparaiso, were brought to England by Lieut. Graves. They had been packed
up in a box, and enclosed in cotton; two for a space of thirteen, one for
seventeen, and a fourth for upwards of twenty months; but on being exposed
to the warmth of a fire in London, and provided with tepid water and
leaves, they revived and lived for several months in Mr. Loddige's palm
house, till accidentally drowned. Dogs can live without food from
twenty-five to thirty-six days, but man does not easily support starvation
more than a week, except in disease or insanity.

The general effects of long fasting, however, are highly injurious when
not destructive. They are chiefly feelings of great debility, fever,
delirium, violent passion alternating with deep despondency. In general
the temperature of the body falls several degrees, although Currie
observed the contrary in a patient who died of inanition in consequence of
a stricture of the oesophagus; the respiration becomes fetid, the
secretion of the kidneys acrid and burning, and according to Magendie and
Collard bloody, and the stomach is found contracted after death.
Experiments on the duration of life in man and animals deprived of food,
show that the warm-blooded animals are best able to support the want of

But a phenomenon still more wonderful is the faculty that animals have
been known to possess of living when deprived of atmospheric support. A
hog, weighing about one hundred and sixty pounds, was buried in his sty
under thirty feet of the chalk of Dover cliff for one hundred and sixty
days. When dug out, it weighed but forty pounds, and was extremely
emaciated, but clean, and white. The animal had nibbled the wood of the
sty, and eaten some loose chalk. Lizards, especially the Newt, have been
found embedded in chalk-rock, apparently dead, but have reassumed living
action on exposure to the atmosphere. On their detection in this state,
the mouth is usually closed with a glutinous substance so tenaciously,
that they are often suffocated in their efforts to extricate themselves
from confinement. Toads have been repeatedly discovered in a similar
situation, embedded in blocks of stone, or in the very heart of trees. Dr.
Edwards, a learned physiologist in Paris, has ascertained that blocks of
mortar and heaps of sand possess sufficient porosity to admit enough air
to support the life of reptiles; but they all perish if immersed in water
or mercury, when surrounded by an exhausting receiver. The duration of
existence of the amphibials of the Batrachian family, when plunged in
water, depends in a great measure on its temperature. They die speedily if
the water be lower than 32° Fahrenheit, or higher than 108°; and the
longest duration of life is under 32°.

How can we account for these anomalies? Various solid substances are known
to proceed from invisible elementary principles. Do water and air contain
them? Metallic stones of large volume fall from the air: how are they
produced? whence come they? How vain and feeble are our pursuits, when the
vanity of science seeks to penetrate into the arcana of nature; searching
and endeavouring to account for the causes of causation! What absurd and
impertinent hypotheses have not been broached on scholastic benches! They
remind us of an anecdote related of the old Parisian Academy, when one of
its sapient members read a voluminous memoir to prove that tides were
provided by the Creator for the purpose of bringing vessels in and out of
harbour; when one of the Encyclopedian wits gravely observed, that he had
no doubt of the fact, since he had discovered, after unceasing and
laborious research, that noses were made for the purpose of wearing

Although total abstinence from food for any length of time, excepting with
hibernating animals, is a wondrous phenomenon, yet it is singular how
little aliment is necessary for the purpose of sustaining life, and even
health. Many instances of a frugality bordering upon starvation are known.
The most economical housekeeper on record was Roger Crabb, the
Buckinghamshire hermit, who allowed himself three farthings a week.

Dr. Gower of Chelmsford had a patient who lived for ten years on a pint of
tea daily, now and then chewing half a dozen raisins and almonds, but
without swallowing them; once a month, by way of a treat, she ate a morsel
of bread the size of a nutmeg.

The late Duke of Portland, after a long illness, during which he was
attended by Dr. Warren, lived on bread and water for six weeks, at the
expiration of which he was allowed _one boiled smelt_. Numerous persons
have been known to live to old age, in perfect health, who never used
animal food or wine; such was Dr. Hecquet, the Sangrado of Lesage, who
published a curious treatise on fasting in Lent: Paris, 1709.

The following lines were written on a man named Offley:

  Offley three dishes had of daily roast;
  An egg, an apple, and the third a toast.

Most unquestionably, if this Offley was not a man of hard labour, or who
took much exercise, this diet, scanty as it may appear, would have been
quite sufficient to support life, for his fare was sumptuous, compared to
the diet prescribed by St. Theresa to her Carmelite nuns, and which
consisted of one egg, herb-soup, with wormwood ashes and aloes. However,
in regard to the wondrous fasting of various hermits and holy men, we must
take their histories _cum grano salis_. They clearly belonged to two
classes,--enthusiasts or impostors: enthusiasm, which is little short of
lunacy, enables the monomaniac to endure starvation with ease; and as to
impostors, it is probable that, like Friar Tuck they had a _bonne bouche_
in a corner of their cells.


Such are the names given by the natives of the Molucca Islands and in the
Indian Archipelago to a deadly poison which is used to impregnate the
heads of their arrows. The tree from which it is extracted is named _Bohou
Upas_, _Boa Upas_, and _Pohou Antiar_. Various accounts of its deleterious
nature have been given by ancient travellers. Cleyer and Spielman
described it upwards of a century back, and state that no antidote to its
dreadful action is known, though vomiting, produced by the most disgusting
means, was considered the only method of arresting its dire effects.
Spielman asserts that the land for several miles round these trees is
desolate and barren, for no plant can grow under their influence. The
poison, he states, flows in a milky form from the tree, and no one can
approach it at this period, as one drop of the fatal juice falling upon
the face or hands produces instant stiffness of every limb, followed by
rapid death; it is therefore obtained at the end of long bamboo canes,
armed with a pointed tube to receive it when plunged into the bark.
Rumphius confirms in a great measure the above statements, and describes
the tree, which he divides into male and female: he adds, that they only
grow in the island of Celebes, and that all around the dreaded spot is
desert and consumed. A more recent Dutch traveller, Foersech or Fooerch,
did not let so fertile a subject escape, and has cultivated most
industriously this dreary desert in the following account.

Sterility prevails for upwards of ten miles round this dreadful tree on
the part of the island of Java where it grows. When criminals are
sentenced to death, they are offered a free pardon if they consent to seek
a small boxful of this valuable yet terrific poison. They are first sent
to the dwelling of a priest who resides at a safe distance from the spot;
there they arrive, accompanied by their disconsolate and wailing families.
They remain with this holy man for a few days, during which he affords
them both spiritual comfort and good advice; the latter urging the
precaution not to set out until the wind blows in such a direction as to
waft from them the floating emanations. On their departure on this dreaded
expedition he gives them a small box of silver or tortoise-shell, covers
their head and face with a leathern hood with glass eyes, and protects
their hands with a thick pair of gloves of the same material. He then
accompanies them about two miles on their sad journey, and then he
describes the hellish spot where this treasure is to be found as minutely
as any one can describe what he has not seen; then, giving the poor
pilgrim his blessing, he departs on his return. This worthy man informed
our traveller that, during thirty years which he had held that enviable
situation, he had sent off no less than seven hundred criminals, of whom
only twenty-two returned: and he confirmed the statement by exhibiting a
list bearing their names and the offences for which they had been tried.
Mynheer Foersech further assures his gentle readers that he witnessed
several of these expeditions, and entreated the culprits to bring him some
branches of the tree; but two withered leaves were the only specimens he
could obtain from the solitary wretch who had the good fortune to escape,
and who described the tree as growing on the borders of a rivulet, being
of moderate height, and surrounded by a cluster of young ones. The ground
around them was of a brown sandy nature, and strewed with the remains of
human victims. He also clearly ascertained that no living creature can
exist within fifteen miles of the spot. The streams that flow near it
yield no fish, and the birds that fly over it fall to the ground; several
of the latter were occasionally brought to the priest,--whether he ate
them, or not, the Dutchman does not inform us. Amongst various offenders
doomed to death by this poison he relates the case of thirteen ladies,
who, for the crime of infidelity, were inoculated in the bosom with the
point of a kritz or Malayan dagger dipped in the upas; and in sixteen
minutes they had ceased to live. By recent experiments upon animals this
part of his narration may be credited; but, in regard to the other
account, we must apply to it the French saying, "_Il vaut mieux y croire
que d'y aller voir_." Indeed the whole of Foersech's account is justly
considered a fiction.

However, some French travellers thought otherwise; and Mr. Deschamps,
physician and naturalist attached to the expedition of Mr.
D'Entrecasteaux, when in Java, ascertained that this wonderful tree was
not uncommon in the forests of the country, nor was the approach to it in
the slightest degree apprehended. The juice procured by incisions in the
bark was called by the natives _upas_ or _oupas_, and was of so active a
nature that it caused immediate death when thrown into the circulation.
The Malays mixed it with various other ingredients more especially galanga
and garlic, when they employed it. The Javanese only impregnated their
arrows with it for the chase: a proof that they did not consider it as
affecting the system of the slain animal. Most probably Foersech's priest
was aware of this circumstance when he accepted from the privileged
malefactors the game killed by the tree they had sought.

This tree, according to Deschamps, is named in the country, _pohou
antiar_; it frequently rises to the height of thirty or forty feet. When
one of its branches is broken, or its bark incised, a milky juice exudes,
which becomes inspissated when in contact with the atmosphere. In
appearance this tree bears some resemblance to our elm. Mr. Deschamps
confirms the relation of Rumphius, who stated that the Dutch, in their
wars with the natives, were obliged to wear thick buff cuirasses to
protect them against their poisoned missiles, the wounds of which were
inevitably fatal.

Further information relative to the upas has been afforded by the
ingenious Mr. Leschenault, who, during his residence in Java, procured two
specimens of the poisonous substance obtained in Java, and of that brought
from the islands of Borneo and Macassar. In Borneo, the mountaineers of
the interior, who are called _Orang-Daias_, collect it, and keep its
preparation a profound secret. They carry it carefully wrapped up in
palm-leaves. Their hunting arrows have heads spear-pointed, and
impregnated with this substance; those that are prepared for war bear a
shark's tooth fixed in a brass socket, and merely attached to the shaft by
the gum resin of the ipo; the barbed point remaining rankling in the wound
it has inflicted, the gum dissolves, and speedily brings on death. Mr.
Leschenault tried these arrows on dogs and other animals, and they expired
shortly after in horrible convulsions.

But the latest account of this celebrated tree is given by Dr. Horsfield
who was in Java during its occupation by our troops. He informs us that
although the Dutch surgeon Foersech's account must have been a
fabrication, yet there did exist a tree called the _Anchar_ from the sap
of which the natives prepared a fatal poison. The tree belongs to the 21st
class of Linnæus, the _Monæcia_. The male and female flowers are produced
on the same branch at no great distance from each other, the females being
in general above the males. The seed-vessel is an oblong drupe, covered
with the calyx; the seed an ovate nut with cells. The top of the stem
sends off a few stout branches, which spreading nearly horizontally with
several irregular curves, divide into smaller branches, and form a
hemispherical, not very regular crown. The stem is cylindrical,
perpendicular, and rises completely naked to the height of sixty or
seventy, and even eighty feet. Near the surface of the ground it spreads
obliquely like many of our large forest trees. The bark is whitish,
slightly bursting into longitudinal furrows. Near the ground this bark is,
in old trees, more than half an inch thick, and when wounded yields
copiously the milky juice from which the poison is prepared. This juice is
yellowish, frothy, and becomes brown when exposed to the air.

In making these researches Dr. Horsfield had some difficulty with the
native labourers, who feared a contagious eruption, but nothing more. The
Doctor further informs us that it is fatal to animals,--destroying dogs in
an hour, mice in ten minutes, monkeys in seven, and cats in fifteen, while
a buffalo subjected to the experiment was two hours and ten minutes dying.

The natives of Macassar also call this venomous production _ipo_. They
have two varieties of the tree, as in Java; the one called _upas antiar_,
and the other, much more violent and prompt in its action, _upas tieute_
In the preparation of the poison for use much mystery is observed by the
natives, and various ingredients are mixed up with it; but as they are
known to be harmless, such as onion and garlic juice, pepper, ginger,
galanga, they are most probably employed to deceive the curious who might
wish to ascertain the nature of this deadly composition.

Mr. Leschenault having brought home a small quantity of this poison, it
was tried by Messrs. Delile and Magendie in several experiments, when it
was found to act more or less violently, according to the age and size of
the individual, or the quantity of the upas. One grain and a half
inoculated in a young dog killed it in four minutes, only producing one
convulsive fit. In a dog weighing fourteen pounds, half a grain of upas
occasioned death at the expiration of one hour and fifty-seven minutes,
during which the animal experienced several violent convulsions. A few
drops of diluted upas, injected in the chest of a dog, weighing twenty
pounds, occasioned a lock-jaw, which destroyed him in a minute and a half.
Eight drops injected in the jugular vein of a horse produced immediate
tetanus and speedy death. For further information regarding these cruel
experiments we must refer to the experimenter's publication. It appears,
however, that the power of this venomous substance is so intense that time
does not weaken it; for the upas employed in these experiments had been
collected and kept for upwards of seven years, when its effects were as
prompt as when tried in a recent state. The natives of Java consider
sea-salt as the best antidote, but Mr. Delile found it quite inert:
various experiments induced him to think that in these cases death is
produced by asphyxia; and he considers the means employed to restore
suspended animation in persons supposed to have been drowned, as the most
likely to save the life of individuals who might be wounded with this
substance. The rapidity with which poisonous substances are absorbed in
the system is truly terrific, more especially in such as are of a narcotic
nature. The latter act by abolishing all nervous energies, but when
applied locally their effects are also local, as is shown by the following
experiments of Müller:

"I held the nerve of a frog's leg which was separated from the body, in a
watery solution of opium for a short time, and that portion of the nerve
lost its irritability, i.e. its property of exciting twitchings of the leg
when it was irritated; but below the part that the poison had touched the
nerve still retained this function."

It is therefore evident that before narcotic poisons can exert a general
influence they must be carried into the circulation. Duprey and Brachet,
two French physiologists, have sought to prove that animals cannot be
destroyed by narcotic poisons, introduced in the stomach, if the _nervus
vagus_ has been divided on both sides; at least, that they do not die so
soon. However, Wernscheidt, in thirty experiments on mammalia, could not
perceive this difference, provided the animals were of the same size and

Prussic acid exerts its influence so rapidly that it cannot be supposed to
have been thrown into the circulation. The spirituous solution of the
extract of nux vomica introduced in the mouth of a rabbit, produces
immediate death, whereas when applied to any nerve distant from the brain
it produces no general symptoms.

This rapid effect of prussic acid is supposed to arise from its great
volatility and powers of expansion, by which it is diffused more quickly
through the circulation than the blood. According to Schrader one drop of
this substance introduced in the bill of a bird killed it in four or five
minutes. Hydrocyanic acid gas mixed with atmospheric air has when inhaled
destroyed dogs, cats, rabbits, and various birds, in from two to ten
seconds. Magendie found that the introduction of one drop of the acid in
the jugular vein caused instantaneous death; a glass tube dipped in this
perilous substance applied to the tongue of a dog, produced a similar
effect, which was also the result when applied to the eye.

It is not generally known that tobacco and its preparations are deadly
poisons, one drop of oil of tobacco introduced in the mouth of a dog
produced violent convulsions with hurried breathing; a quarter of an hour
after, the unfortunate animal seemed to be recovered, when the
introduction of another drop killed it in two minutes. M'Cartney and
Orfila obtained similar results, though no such effects were produced when
it was applied to a nerve or the surface of the brain.

The French poet Santeuil died from having drank wine in a glass containing
some snuff. In all cases of death produced by this substance the lungs are
found dense and livid.

It is not only in the upas that the Indians seek the means of poisoning
their missiles. In America they employ the _Ticronas_ a juice extracted
from various plants, and the preparation of which, transmitted from one
generation to another is considered a valuable secret. La Condamine
asserts that its mere odour is sufficient to destroy the criminals doomed
to smell it, but Fontana has found by many experiments that this assertion
was made upon report, which travellers too frequently rely upon to save
themselves the trouble of investigation. Arrows saturated with this
poison, become more active after having been dipped in hot water.

The Indians of Guiana dip their arrows in the juice of the _Woorara_, and
the _Curara_, which also occasions rapid death and decomposition of the
lungs. Humboldt informs us that the _Curara_ is obtained from the bark of
a tree called _Vejuco_ de _Mavacure_; it is inspissated over a slow fire
and then mixed with a gum drawn from the _Kiracagnero_. The Abbé Salvador
Gilii tells us in his history of America, that he has seen the strongest
animals succumb instantly when thus wounded, but the poison does not
produce any effect on their meat.


These are appellations given to certain individuals of a depraved
appetite, that enables them to devour raw meat, and various other
substances which most unquestionably would destroy any person not gifted
or cursed with such an omnivorous digestion.

Various are the ancient stories related of such voracious wretches. Ovid
describes one Erisichthon, who, as a punishment for cutting down the
groves of Ceres, (very possibly to obtain fuel to cook his food,) was
sentenced to perpetual hunger, and terminated his gluttonous career by
eating up his own limbs. Theagenes thought nothing of an ox for his
dinner; and the famed Crotonian athlete, Milo, knocked down bullocks with
his fist for his daily meals, which usually consisted of twenty _minæ_ of
meat and the same ration of bread. Vopiscus relates that a man was brought
before the Emperor Maximilian, who devoured a whole calf, and was
proceeding to eat up a sheep, had he not been prevented. To this day, in
India, some voracious mountebanks devour a live sheep as an exhibition.
Dr. Boehmen of Wittenberg witnessed the performance of one of these
polyphagous individuals, who commenced his repast by eating a raw sheep, a
sucking-pig, and, by way of dessert, swallowed sixty pounds of prunes,
stones and all. On another festive occasion, he ate two bushels of
cherries, with several earthen vases, and chips of a furnace. This meal
was followed up by sundry pieces of glass and pebbles, a shepherd's
bagpipe, rats, various birds with their feathers, and an incredible number
of caterpillars. To conclude his dinner, he swallowed a pewter inkstand,
with its pens, a pen-knife, and a sandbox. During this deglutition he
seemed to relish his food, but was generally under the influence of
potations of brandy. His form was athletic, and he could carry four heavy
men on his shoulders for a league. He lived to the age of seventy-nine,
but died in a most emaciated state, and, as might be imagined, toothless.

Helwig knew an old man who was in the habit of eating eighty pounds of
different articles of food daily. Real Colomb mentions an omnivorous
glutton, who, in the absence of any salutary aliment, satisfied his
cravings with any other substance, and was once known, when hungry, to eat
the contents of a sack of charcoal, and then to swallow the bag to
facilitate its digestion. One of the attendants on the menagerie of the
Botanical Gardens in Paris, who bore the euphonious name of _Bijou_, used
to devour all the offals of the theatre of Comparative Anatomy, and ate a
dead lion in one day. He was active, and lived to the age of sixty. A
cannibal once desolated the Vivarais, by dragging human victims to his
den, where he devoured them. On the opening of the corpse of a convict in
the galleys of Brest, there were found in his stomach about six hundred
pieces of wood, pewter, and iron.

All these accounts might appear most exaggerated, perhaps fabulous, had
not many physicians in Paris known the celebrated Tarrare. The history of
this monster is as curious as his habits were disgusting. He commenced his
career in life in the capacity of clown to an itinerant quack, and used to
attract the notice of the populace by his singular powers of deglutition,
swallowing with the utmost ease corks, pebbles, and basketsful of apples.
However, these experiments were frequently followed by severe pain and
accidents, which once obliged him to seek assistance in the Hôtel Dieu of
Paris. His sufferings did not deter him from similar experiments; and he
once tried to exhibit his wonderful faculties by swallowing the watch,
chain and seals, of Mr. Giraud, then house-surgeon of the establishment.
In this repast he was foiled, having been told that he would be ripped up
to recover the property. In the revolutionary war, Tarrare joined the
army, but was soon exhausted on the spare diet to which the troops were
obliged to submit. In the hospital of Sultzen, although put upon four full
rations, he was obliged to wander about the establishment to feed upon any
substance he could find however revolting, to subdue his voracious hunger.
These singular powers induced several physicians to ascertain how far
these omnivorous inclinations could carry him in his unnatural cravings.
In presence of Dr. Lorentz he devoured a live cat, commencing by tearing
open its stomach, and sucking the animal's blood with delight. What was
more singular, after this horrible feast, like other carnivorous brutes,
he rejected the fur and skin. Snakes were to him a delicious meal, and he
swallowed them alive and whole, after grinding their heads between his
teeth. One of the surgeons, Mr. Courville, gave him a wooden lancet-case
to swallow in which a written paper had been folded. This case was
rejected undigested, and the paper being found intact, it became a
question whether he might not be employed to convey secret correspondence;
but having been taken up at the Prussian outposts as a spy, being
disguised as a peasant without a knowledge of the language, he received a
severe bastinado, which effectually cured him of an appetite for secret
service, and on his return he had recourse to the safer means of obtaining
food in kitchens, slaughter-houses, and dunghills. At last, a child of
fourteen months old having disappeared under suspicious circumstances, he
was driven out of the hospital, and lost sight of for four years, when he
applied for admission into the hospital of Versailles, in a state of
complete exhaustion, labouring under a violent diarrhoea, which
terminated his hateful existence in his twenty-sixth year. He was of the
middle size, pale, thin, and weak; his countenance was by no means
ferocious, but, on the contrary, displayed much timidity; his fair hair
was remarkably fine and soft; his mouth was very large, and one could
scarcely say that he had any lips; all his teeth were sound, but their
enamel was speckled; his skin was always hot, in a state of perspiration,
and exhaling a constant offensive vapour. When fasting, the integuments of
his abdomen were so flaccid that he could nearly wrap them round him.
After his meals the exhalation from his surface was increased, his eyes
and cheeks became turgid with blood, and, dropping into a state of
drowsiness, he used to seek some obscure corner where he might quietly lie
down and digest. After his death, all the abdominal viscera were found in
a state of ulceration.

Instances are recorded where a similar facility to swallow fluids had been
observed. At Strasburg the stomach of a hussar was exhibited who could
drink sixty quarts of wine in an hour. Pliny mentions a Milanese, named
_Novellus Torquatus_, who, in presence of Tiberius, drank three _congii_
of wine. Seneca and Tacitus knew a man of the name of Piso who could drink
incessantly for two days and two nights; and Rhodiginus mentions a
capacious monster called _the Funnel_, down whose throat an amphora of
liquor could be poured without interruption.

To what are we to attribute these uncommon, nay, these unnatural
faculties? Neither physiological experiments during life, nor anatomical
investigation after death, have hitherto enabled us to form an opinion.
Great as the progress of science has been, we are still doubtful as to the
nature of the digestive process. All the hypotheses on the subject are
liable to insuperable objections. Hippocrates and Empedocles attributed
digestion to the _putrefaction_ of food. Experiments have clearly
demonstrated the fallacy of this doctrine: rejected food is never in a
state of putridity; on the contrary, meat in a perfect state of
putrescence has been restored to sweetness and freshness on being received
into the stomach. Dead snakes have been found with animal substances,
part of which had been swallowed and the remainder hanging out of their
mouths; when the swallowed portion was fresh, and the portion exposed to
the atmosphere in a state of corruption. Galen, and after his school, Grew
and Santarelli, ascribed digestion to a _concoction_, during which, food
was maturated by the stomach's heat, like fruit by the solar rays. Pringle
and Macbride advocated the doctrine of _fermentation_; while Borelli,
Keil, and Pitcairn resolved the question by the mechanism of
_trituration_, making a mill of the stomach, which ground down food,
according to Pitcairn's calculations, with a pressure equal to a weight of
one hundred and seventeen thousand and eighty pounds. Boerhaave
endeavoured to reconcile the opinions of the _concocters_ and _grinders_,
by combining the supposed theory of _concoction_ and _trituration_.
Lastly, Cheselden fancied that digestion was operated by a peculiar
secretion in the stomach, called _gastric juice_; and Haller, Réaumur,
Spallanzani, Blumenbach and most other modern physiologists, concur with
him in the same opinion, although admitting that this function is most
probably assisted by various accessory circumstances.

This juice was found, upon experiment, to be endowed, not only with the
antiseptic power of preserving the contents of the stomach from
putrefaction, but with the property of being a most powerful solvent.
Pieces of the toughest meats and bone have been enclosed in perforated
metallic tubes, and thrust down the stomach of carnivorous birds, and in
the space of about twenty-four hours the meats were found to be
diminished, or, in other words, digested to three-fourths of their bulk,
while the bones had totally disappeared. Dr. Stevens had recourse to a
similar experiment on the human stomach, by means of a perforated ivory
ball, and with the same result. The gastric juice of the dog dissolves
ivory; and that of a hen has dissolved an onyx, and diminished a golden
coin. Not long since, upon examining the stomach and intestines of a man
who died in a public-house, he was found to have been a _polyphagous_
animal, since several clasp-knives that he had swallowed were discovered
with their blades blunted and their handles consumed. Since these
experiments, however, Dr. Montegre of Paris, who was gifted with the
faculty of discharging the contents of his stomach at will, has fully
proved that this gastric juice, when not in an acid state, is subject to
putrefaction when submitted to external animal heat; that this corruption
did not occur when an acid prevailed, and saliva intermixed with vinegar
was equally free from a similar decomposition. He moreover asserts, that
he had recourse to numerous experiments to digest food artificially in
this supposed solvent, but without obtaining results similar to those
advanced by Spallanzani; and, finally, he found little or no difference
between the gastric juice and saliva. This acid, which generally exists in
the gastric juice, has been ascertained by Dr. Prout to be the muriatic,
both free and in combination with alkalis: while Tiedemann and Gmelin
maintain that, in its natural state, no acid is to be met with; but that,
when food is commingled, an acid which they consider the acetic acid is
produced in considerable quantity.[17]

The ostrich, that may be considered a connecting link between birds and
quadrupeds, is gifted with powerful digestive organs, and is known to
swallow stone, glass, and iron; but this faculty appears to be a gift of
all-bounteous Providence, to enable the creature to digest the various
substances it meets with when traversing burning deserts for hundreds of
miles, when these hard bodies actually perform the function of teeth in
the animal's stomach, by aiding the comminution of its indigestible food.
The structure of the ostrich has a near resemblance to that of the camel,
destined to perform the same dreary journeys. The wings are not designed
for flight, and in speed he equals the horse. Adanson affirms that he had
seen two ostriches at the factory of Podore, that were broken in to carry
single or double riders, and the strongest and youngest would run more
swiftly with two negroes on his back than the fleetest racer.

Spallanzani endeavoured to prove that the pebbles and gravel swallowed by
various birds were of no use in the process of digestion; but Hunter, who
had found two hundred pebbles in the gizzard of a turkey, and one thousand
in that of a goose, demonstrated their utility in the trituration of their
food, since these birds were found to be unable to digest, and
consequently to thrive upon their nourishment when deprived of this
mechanical aid. It is curious that the owl, which easily digests meat and
bones, cannot be made to digest bread or grain, and yet dies if confined
to animal food. The eagle, and other birds of prey, can dissolve both. A
singular process of digestion is observed in the stormy petrel, which
lives entirely on oil and fat substances whenever it can obtain them; but
when fed with other articles of food, Nature, true to her laws, converts
them into oil; the bird still discharges pure oil at objects that offend
him, and feeds his young with the same substance. The petrel must, no
doubt, be a bilious subject, for he delights in misery, and his presence
is a sure presage of foul weather to the experienced seamen; and when

              The wrathful skies
  Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,
  And make them keep their caves,

he is seen riding triumphantly on the whirlwind, and skimming the deepest
chasms of the angry waves. This bird is said to be named 'petrel' from
Peter, since, like that saint, he is supposed to have the power of walking
on the waters.

The singular appetites which have been noticed seem to have been
individual peculiarities, uninfluenced by a morbid condition; but there
are cases in which a depraved appetite is symptomatic of disease, where we
see persons otherwise possessed of sound judgment longing, not only for
the most improper and indigestible food, but for substances of the most
extraordinary and even disgusting nature. Thus we have seen patients, more
especially young females and pregnant women, devouring dirt, cinders,
spiders, leeches, hair, tallow, and paper. An ingenious writer affirms
that "more literature in the form of paper and printed books has been thus
devoured, than by the first scholars in Christendom."

Dr. Darwin tells us that he saw a young lady about ten years of age that
used to fill her stomach with earth out of a flowerpot, and then vomited
it up, with small stones, bits of wood, and wings of various insects. John
Hunter has described an endemic disease among the Africans in Jamaica, in
which they devoured dirt. Mason Good, when speaking of this affection,
says, "that the longing for such materials is, in this disease, a mere
symptom, and rarely shows itself till the frame is completely exhausted by
atrophy, dropsy, and hectic fever, brought on by a longing of a much more
serious kind,--a longing to return home, a pining for the relations, the
scenes, the kindnesses the domestic joys, of which the miserable sufferers
have been robbed by barbarians less humanized than themselves, and which
they have been forced or trepanned to resign for the less desirable
banquet of whips, and threats, and harness, and hunger."

Roderic à Castro relates the case of a lady who could eat twenty pounds of
pepper, and another who lived upon ice. Tulpius mentions a woman who,
during her pregnancy, longed for salt herrings, and ate fourteen hundred
at the rate of five herrings per diem. Longius affirms that a lady in
Cologne, who was in that state that ladies wish to be who love their
lords, took such a fancy to taste the flesh of her husband that she
actually assassinated him, and, after indulging in as much fresh meat as
the weather permitted, salted the remainder for further use. This cannibal
inclination seems not to be uncommon. The said Roderic à Castro knew a
woman in the same thriving condition, who felt an inexpressible desire for
a bit of the shoulder of a neighbouring baker, and her husband was
persecuted by her constant prayers and lamentations to prevail on the
worthy man to allow her one bite for charity's sake: but the first bite
was so heartily inflicted, that the crusty baker would not submit to a

In the Philosophical Transactions there is a case related of a woman whose
fancies were not quite so solid, and who used to gratify her aerial
appetites by putting the nozle of a bellows down her throat, and blowing
away until she was tired. These longings of parturient women are most
common; but it is rather curious, that, among our negroes in the West
Indies, the husbands pretend to long for their wives, and endeavour to
gratify them by proxy. Possibly such might have been the fancy of Cambes,
the Lydian prince, who, according to Ælian, took it into his head one
night to eat up his beloved wife.


Madness is attributed to moral and physical causes. Physicians do not
agree as to the prevalence of either of these sources of human misery.
Some of them, most unjustly accused of materialism, seem to lean to the
opinion that, generally speaking, physical causes can be traced in _post
mortem_ examination; while others, equally skilled in accurate anatomical
investigations, maintain that these organic derangements are very seldom
met with.

Lawrence affirms that he had "examined after death the heads of many
insane persons, and had hardly seen a single brain which did not exhibit
obvious marks of disease;" and he further states, "that he feels convinced
from his own experience, that very few heads of persons dying deranged
will be examined after death without showing diseased structure, or
evident signs of increased vascular activity." The celebrated Morgagni
gives similar results of his extensive dissections. Meckel and Jones are
of the same opinion. However, Pinel, whose anatomical pursuits on the
subject were most extensive, clearly declares that he never met with any
other appearance within the cavity of the skull than are observable in
opening the bodies of persons who have died of apoplexy, epilepsy, nervous
fevers and convulsions. Haslam, whose experience in this matter was also
very great, asserts that nothing decisive can be obtained in reference to
insanity from any variations of appearance that have hitherto been
detected in the brain. Greding observed in two hundred and sixteen
maniacal cases which he examined, the whole of whom died of disorders
unconnected with their mental ailments, that three of the heads were
exceedingly large, two exceedingly small; some of the skull bones were
extremely thick, others peculiarly thin; in some the frontal bones were
small and contracted, in others the temporal bones compressed and narrow.

In this confusion and clashing of opinions, when unfortunately each
theorist views, or fancies that he views, functional or organic
derangements sufficiently evident (in his eyes at least) to support his
doctrine, it is no easy matter to come to a fair conclusion. It can only
be observed, that, as the wonderful sympathies of the brain with other
organs especially the viscera of the abdomen, are universally
acknowledged, the morbid condition in which the brain is occasionally
found may have arisen from a primary morbid condition of some other organ.
Hence it is difficult to say whether insanity is most generally a primary
or a secondary affection. Physical causes act both upon the brain and the
abdominal system. Concussion and compression of the brain will occasion
nausea, vomiting, and hepatic affections, and the presence of worms in the
intestines will excite convulsions and epilepsy. In regard to moral
causes, they may also act directly or indirectly upon the brain, or the
parts that sympathize with it. Sudden or violent emotions are known to
produce an immediate effect upon our digestive functions, which may in
turn by their sympathetic connexion act upon the brain and the mind,
although the connexion between brain and mind is not yet proved in any
conclusive manner.

However, in a practical point of view, whatever discrepancy of opinion may
prevail on this subject, I think it will be found advisable to consider
most, if not all recent cases of insanity, as arising from physical
causes, and therefore to submit the patient to such a medical treatment in
addition to moral aid, as the prevalence of morbid symptoms of local
derangement are more or less evident. My own experience has fully
convinced me that a morbid condition of the cerebral organ, and the
viscera of the thorax and abdomen, are invariably met with, and must have
proved of sufficient importance to develop symptoms which the slightest
observations might have detected. How far the organic derangement may have
been either the cause or the result of insanity I am not prepared to say,
but they have generally borne the appearance of having originated in undue

On this most important subject I feel much gratification in quoting the
following opinion of the experienced Pinel: "It appears in general that
the primitive seat of insanity is in the region of the stomach and
intestinal canal, and it is from this central part that mental aberration
is propagated as by irradiation." Esquirol is of opinion that insanity
arises from a lesion of the vital functions of the brain, and not
unfrequently from a disturbance in the various points of sensibility in
different parts of the system.

That mental emotions, whether producing any alteration in the physical
condition of the individual, or not, occasion various degrees of insanity,
is proved by experience. The French revolution, during its execrable
phases, offered a wide and fertile field of observation on this subject;
and the various events that marked those fearful times were certainly well
calculated to affect any brain capable of becoming deranged. The following
results of these observations are curious: "Among the lunatics confined at
Bicêtre," says Pinel, "during the third year of the Republic, I observed
that the exciting causes of their maladies, in a great majority of cases,
were extremely vivid affections of the mind; such as ungovernable or
disappointed ambition, religious fanaticism, profound chagrin, and
unfortunate love. Out of one hundred and thirteen madmen with whose
history I took pains to make myself acquainted, thirty-four were reduced
to this state by domestic misfortunes, twenty-four by obstacles to
matrimonial union, thirty by political events, and twenty-five by
religious fanaticism. Those were chiefly affected who belonged to
professions in which the imagination is unceasingly or ardently engaged,
and not controlled in its excitement by the exercise of the tamer
functions of the understanding, which are more susceptible of satiety and
fatigue. Hence the Bicêtre registers were chiefly filled from the
professions of priests, artists, painters, sculptors, poets, and
musicians, while they contained no instances of persons whose line of life
demands a predominant exercise of the judging faculty,--not one
naturalist, physician, chemist, or geometrician."

The following is a return of the supposed moral causes of insanity
observed in the Salpétrière. In the years 1811 and 1812

  Domestic affliction             105
  Disappointed love                46
  Political events                 14
  Fanaticism                        8
  Fright                           38
  Jealousy                         18
  Anger                            16
  Misfortunes in circumstances     77
  Offended vanity                   1
  Total                           323

In Mr. Esquirol's private establishment during the same period:

  Domestic affliction              31
  Disappointed love                25
  Political events                 32
  Fanaticism                        1
  Fright                            8
  Jealousy                         14
  Misfortunes                      14
  Offended vanity                  16
  Baffled ambition                 12
  Intense study                    13
  Misanthropy                       2
  Total                           168

It must be observed that the latter return, in which we find twenty-eight
persons maddened by disappointed ambition and offended pride, is of a
private establishment, whose inmates of course belonged to the better
classes of the community.

By the return from Pennsylvania, out of fifty lunatics, thirty-four cases
arose from moral causes. Of physical causes hereditary madness is the most
prevalent, as appears clearly from the following table extracted from the
registers of the Salpétrière.

  Hereditary insanity             105
  Convulsion during gestation      11
  Epilepsy                         11
  Female derangements              55
  Diseases of child-birth          52
  Critical periods                 27
  Old age                          60
  Insolation                       12
  Injuries of the head             14
  Fever                            13
  Syphilis                          8
  Effects of mercury               14
  Worms                            24
  Apoplexy                         60

When speaking of hereditary madness, Dr. Abercrombie is of opinion that
where a tendency to insanity exists, there may be in many cases,
circumstances in mental habits or mental discipline calculated to favour
or to counteract the tendency, when the mind wanders away from the proper
duties of life or luxuriates amid scenes of imagination, thus permitting
mental emotions, of whatever kind, to be excited in a manner
disproportional to the true relation of the object which gave rise to
them; allowing the mind to ramble among imaginary events, or to be led
away by slight and casual relations, instead of steadily exercising the
judgment in the investigation of truth.

These observations are no doubt most luminous, yet as I have elsewhere
remarked, hereditary predisposition to insanity may be brought into
action, by the constant scenes that pass in the presence of those
individuals who may daily have to witness the aberrations of an unhappy
relative. The mind dwells on the sad subject, and it becomes a source of
constant apprehension, when the mere dread of an hereditary evil is
perhaps sufficient to drive to madness. So powerful is the sway even of
imaginary terror, that we need not wonder that natural fear should be
productive of results still more injurious to our intellects. There seems
to exist a certain fascination in what we should dread and avoid; instead
of resisting evil, by a strange fatality we seem to be self-impelled to
court it. We indulge in thoughts, in hopes and fears, too often
chimerical, instead of endeavouring to dismiss them from our mind, by
other pursuits and busy occupation; and we brood upon future and ideal
miseries until we actually, from supineness and timidity, sink under their
overwhelming influence.

Esquirol relates some curious coincidences of hereditary insanity. A Swiss
merchant lost both his sons in a state of mania at the age of 19. A lady
lost her senses after childbirth at the age of 25. Her daughter became
insane in her 25th year. In one family, the grandfather, the father, and
the son, destroyed themselves at the age of 50. Near Newton, seven insane
sisters had been observed in one family. An unfortunate female in the
Salpétrière, under the influence of liquor, threw herself three times in
the river and her sister in a state of intoxication drowned herself. A
gentleman whose intellects became deranged in consequence of the
misfortunes of the revolution remained for ten years secluded in his
chamber. His daughter became insane about the same period, and with equal
obstinacy could not be prevailed upon to leave her room.

There is no doubt, but that were these early predispositions attended to
and watched, an active course of education adopted, and change of locality
resorted to, much future misery might be avoided, and possibly the
invasion of the malady arrested.

If the observations of the phrenologist are entitled to consideration, the
mind may become mainly instrumental in attaining this _desideratum_, as
the detection of certain propensities may place us upon our guard in the
education of youth. This would be a point of still greater importance,
were these organs innate, dooming us to the blind law of fatality; but the
phrenologists maintain, that the development of these organic inequalities
on the surface of the cranium are produced and developed by a
corresponding enlargement of the brain, which is greater or lesser in the
ratio of the preponderance of the organ as the indulgence in the
propensities which they indicate.

Pinel relates a curious case of hereditary mania in a man who, up to the
age of fifty, fulfilled with intelligence and activity the duties of an
important office which he held. At this period he indulged in various
excesses, and sunk in the debasement of the lowest society. These excesses
he represented to his wondering friends and acquaintances as the source of
divine pleasure and celestial enjoyment. He declared that he would erect a
temple to the god of love, and officiate himself as high priest at his
altars; he compared the very lowest of women to angelic creatures; and
finally was confined, a furious and desperate maniac.

Education carried on upon mistaken principles has also been known to
prepare the way to insanity, and La Bruyere has justly observed, that
there are parents, the study of whose life appears to have been, their
giving their children just reason not to regret their loss. Pinel has
given us the interesting history of two orphan brothers, who had been
brought up in a most anomalous manner--with extreme kindness and
effeminacy by a nurse, and with much harshness and injustice by a tutor.
The result of this erroneous management was a deficient development in
their intellectual faculties, and a debilitated frame, which gradually led
to a state of imbecility. When examined by Pinel at the age of twenty and
twenty-two, their conversation was puerile in the extreme, and they both
displayed a taste for infantile sports and pastimes, befitting children of
three or four years old. They sought to express themselves with great
volubility, but their language, consisting chiefly of broken syllables,
was scarcely intelligible. Notwithstanding their apathic appearance, by a
sort of automatic habit, every evening brought on an absurd scene of
sentimentality. They would join each other in earnest conversation in a
corner of the room; and, with bitter tears and deep sighs, bewail the loss
of their parents, who had thus left them in a helpless orphan condition,
in their tender years, expressing the sincerest affection for their nurse,
but speaking of their tutor with bitter imprecations. A great partiality
shown to one sister has driven another one to a state of dementia, that
arose from her continually dwelling on the wrongs she experienced, which,
of course, were exaggerated by jealousy.

External agents producing sudden terror have been frequently known to
bring on insanity. It is related of a child of three years of age, who was
so terrified on being brought into a madhouse, that he was subject to
horrible dreams and visions until his seventeenth year, when he became a
perfect lunatic. Women frightened during pregnancy have often become
alienated; and there are two cases reported of young ladies who were found
insane the day after their nuptials.

While disappointments and misfortunes are often the origin of insanity, a
sudden melioration in circumstances, and unexpected pleasing intelligence
have been also known to derange the intellects. A man who came into the
possession of a large fortune, after having lived for many years in
penury, was so alarmed at the thought of losing this property, that the
apprehension of the evil deprived him of his senses. An instance is
recorded of a young girl, long separated from her lover by parents averse
to their union, who became insane immediately after her marriage.

Children are generally exempted from this calamitous visitation; yet Frank
relates the case of a child at St. Luke's who had been deranged since he
was two years old. Age, to a certain extent, seems to influence insanity,
and most individuals are alienated between their twentieth and fiftieth
years. Haslam states, that out of one thousand six hundred and sixty-four
patients admitted into Bedlam, nine hundred and ten came within this
period of life. In France it appears that most cases of insanity are
noticed between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five. One-fifteenth of
these cases among men, and one-sixth among women, are observed before
their twentieth year; and in the wealthy classes of society one-fourth
occur before the same period. The following table from Bicêtre regarding
age is not without interest.

  Years. Aged  15  20  30  40  50  60  Total.
  1784   ...    5  33  31  24  11   6   110
  1785   ...    4  29  49  25  14   3   124
  1786   ...    4  31  40  32  15   5   127
  1787   ...   12  39  41  26  17   7   142
  1788   ...    9  43  53  21  18   7   151
  1789   ...    6  38  39  33  14   2   132
  1790   ...    6  28  34  19   9   7   103
  1791   ...    9  26  32  16   7   3    93
  1792   ...    6  26  33  18  12   3    98
  1793   ...    4  36  28  22  13  10   113
  Total        65 329 380 236 130  53  1193

Thus it would appear that the astounding events which took place in
France, but more especially in Paris, from the year 1789, the breaking out
of the revolution, to 1793, the reign of terror, had no effect upon the
intellects of the population; unless it is supposed that the entire nation
being in a state of insanity, either madmen were not noticed as any
peculiarity, or rushed into mischief and were murdered. This observation
as to the influence of public events is confirmed by the following
statement of admissions in the Salpétrière during the comparatively
tranquil years of 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814, although many cases of
insanity were said to have arisen from the harsh laws of the conscription.

  Years. Aged  20  25  30  35  40  50  60  70  80 Total.
  1811   ...  34  37  38  27  48  38  24  12   4   262
  1812   ...  52  34  33  18  38  57  26  19   3   280
  1813   ...  43  29  33  41  32  57  31  13   6   285
  1814   ...  42  35  38  31  26  53  34  22  10   291
  Total      171 135 142 117 144 205 115  66  23  1118

Therefore one might fairly conclude that the taking of the Bastille, the
execution of Louis XVI., the bloody sway of the Jacobins, the ambitious
wars of Napoleon, and the restoration of Louis XVIII., did not in the
slightest degree affect the brains of our happy and philosophical

It has been generally imagined that women are more subject to mental
alienation than men; this, however, is by no means proved by observation
in other countries, as will appear by the following calculation:

                                                Men.  Women.
  1756       Marseilles                          50     49
  1786       Paris                              500    509
  1786-1794  Bedlam                            4992    882
  1807       St. Luke's                         110    153
  1802       Paris                                1  to  2
  ----       Berlin                               1  to  2
  ----       Vienna                             117     94
  ----       Pennsylvania                         2  to  1
  1807-1812  Various Madhouses in France        488    700
  1802-1814  Mr. Esquirol's establishment       191    144
                                               ----   ----
                                      Total    6452   6536

In the Lunatic Asylum of Hanwell I have now under my care 265 males, and
351 females.

It has long been a current opinion that madness is a more common disease
in our country than any where else. This may possibly arise from the
greater number of our eccentric countrymen that are widely scattered over
the globe; and whenever an individual is observed whose manners and
conduct are totally at variance with the habits of any other member of the
community, he is generally considered an Englishman. Voltaire came to the
sweeping conclusion that one half of the nation was scrofulous, and the
other moiety insane.

However, it would appear that insanity is on the increase; for in the
report of the commissioners for licensing lunatic establishments we find
the following statement: "Insanity appears to have been _considerably_ on
the increase; for if we compare the sums of two distant lustra, the one
beginning with 1775, and the other ending with 1809, the proportion of
patients returned as having been received into lunatic asylums during the
latter period, is to that of the former nearly as one hundred and
twenty-nine to one hundred." Dr. Burrows has endeavoured to impugn the
correctness of this statement by proving that suicide is more frequent in
other countries; now, unless Dr. Burrows can prove that suicide is always
an act of insanity, which will by no means be admitted, his observation
can bear no weight.

It is but too true that in melancholy madness we often observe a
prevailing propensity to self-destruction. Dr. Abercrombie's views on this
subject are so luminous that I shall transcribe them.

"When the melancholic hallucination has fully taken possession of the
mind, it becomes the sole object of attention, without the power of
varying the impression, or of directing the thoughts to any facts or
considerations calculated to remove or palliate it. The evil seems
overwhelming and irremediable, admitting neither of palliation,
consolation, nor hope. For the process of mind calculated to diminish such
an impression, or even to produce a hope of the palliation of the evil, is
precisely that exercise of mind which in this singular condition, is lost
or suspended; namely, a power of changing the subject of thought, of
transferring the attention to other facts and considerations, and of
comparing the mental impression with these, and with the actual state of
external things. Under such a conviction of overwhelming and hopeless
misery, the feeling naturally arises of life being a burden, and this is
succeeded by a determination to quit it. When such an association has once
been formed, it also fixes itself upon the mind, and fails to be corrected
by those considerations which ought to remove it. That it is in this
manner the impression arises, and not from any process analogous to the
determination of a sound mind, appears, among other circumstances, from
the singular manner in which it is often dissipated, namely by the
accidental productions of some new impression not calculated in any degree
to influence the subject of thought, but simply to give a momentary
direction of the mind to some other feeling. Thus a man mentioned by Pinel
had left his house in the night, with the determined resolution of
drowning himself, when he was attacked by robbers. He did his best to
escape from them, and having done so, returned home, the resolution of
suicide being entirely dissipated. A woman mentioned, I believe by Dr.
Burrows, had her resolution changed in the same manner, by something
falling on her head, after she had gone out for a similar purpose.

"A very irregular modification occurs in some of these cases. With the
earnest desire of death, there is combined an impression of the
criminality of suicide; but this instead of correcting the hallucination,
only leads to another and most extraordinary mode of effecting the
purpose; namely by committing murder, and so dying by the hand of justice.
Several instances are on record in which this remarkable mental process
was distinctly traced and acknowledged; and in which there was no mixture
of malice against the individuals who were murdered. On the contrary,
these were generally children; and in one of the cases, the maniac
distinctly avowed his resolution to commit murder, with the view of dying
by a sentence of law; and at the same time his determination that his
victim should be a child, as he should thus avoid the additional guilt of
sending a person out of the world in a state of unrepented sin. The mental
process in such a case presents a most interesting subject of reflection.
It appears to be purely a process of association, without the power of
reasoning. I should suppose that there had been at a former period, during
a comparatively healthy state of the mental faculties, a repeated
contemplation of suicide which had been always checked by an immediate
contemplation of its dreadful criminality.

In this manner a strong connexion had been formed, which when the idea of
suicide afterwards came into the mind, during the state of insanity, led
to the impression of its heinousness, not by a process of reasoning, but
by simple association. The subsequent steps are the distorted reasonings
of insanity, mixed with some previous impression of the safe condition of
children dying in infancy. This explanation I think is strongly
countenanced by the consideration that, had the idea of the criminality of
suicide been in any degree a process of reasoning, a corresponding
conviction of the guilt of murder must have followed it. I find, however,
one case which is at variance with this hypothesis. The reasoning of that
unfortunate individual was, that if he committed murder, and died by the
hand of justice, there would be time for his making his peace with the
almighty between the crime and his execution, which would not be the case
if he should die by suicide. This was a species of reasoning but it was
purely the reasoning of insanity."

Still these remarks do not go to prove that suicide is always the result
of insanity, since it can in most instances be attributed to a moment of
despair and impatience under a heavy visitation of calamity, or the dread
of contempt of society. The frequency of this rash act, cannot therefore
be adduced as a proof of the greater prevalence of madness in any country.
With greater reason, self-destruction is to be referred to the want of a
proper religious education and feeling, which will enable man to bear up
against the world's vicissitudes, and deem life a more or less painful
journey to a peaceful abode.

Montesquieu was one of the many writers who attributed this propensity as
being nearly exclusive to the English. "Les Anglais," he says, "se tuent
sans qu'on puisse imaginer aucune raison qui les y détermine; ils se tuent
dans le sens même du bonheur. Cette action, chez les Romains était l'effet
de l'éducation, elle tenait à leur manière de penser et à leurs coutumes;
dans les Anglais c'est l'effet d'une maladie, elle tient à l'état physique
de la machine."

Two very curious works on suicide have been lately published in Germany by
Dr. Arntzenius and Dr. Schlegel. The former writer divides this fatal
propensity into acute and chronic; the first marked by great physical
excitement, the latter accompanied or preceded by sadness, moroseness, and
love of solitude. Curious cases are related in illustration of this
doctrine, amongst others we remark that of an English nobleman who cast
himself into the crater of Vesuvius. A German in the same year, not being
able perhaps to travel so far, threw himself into a smelting furnace.
Several cases are recorded of individuals who formed the desperate
resolution of starving themselves. It appears that in many instances the
most trifling circumstance has driven these reckless beings to the
commission of this desperate action. The case of a young Parisian author
of the name of Escoupe, who suffocated himself because one of his dramatic
productions had been severely criticised, is well known. A German student
destroyed himself because he had a club-foot, and another youth put an end
to his existence in consequence of his not having been allowed to put on
his Sunday clothes. Dr. Schlegel has given a curious table of the means of
destruction resorted to according to the several ages of individuals, and
we give the following abstract:

                                   By pistol.  By hanging.
  Between 10 and 20 years of age.      61          68
      "   20-30          "            283          51
      "   30-40          "            182          94
      "   40-50          "            150         188
      "   50-60          "            161         256
      "   60-70          "            126         235
      "   70-80          "             35         108
      "   80-90          "              2
                                     ----        ----
                                     1000        1000

In classing 9000 cases of suicide which happened in Paris between the
years 1796 and 1830, Dr. Schlegel concludes that what he terms the
"philosophic suicide," is that which is perpetrated after deliberation,
during the night or shortly before sunrise; whilst when it is not the
result of premeditation, it occurs during the day.

The choice between shooting and hanging may be accounted for on the same
grounds. A young man, in a fit of frantic passion, from disappointed love,
or losses at play, will probably, on his return home, seize a pistol and
blow out his brains; whereas hanging needs reflection and some preparation
and precaution, which would alone suffice to bring a reflective creature
to a proper sense of his folly, unless predetermined to destroy himself by
"philosophic suicide."

It appears in these accounts that suicide in France has greatly increased
since the revolution. The average number during the last forty-two years
being 409-5/6, the number in Paris being 1639 annually. Dr. Schlegel
informs us that there exists a society in Paris called, "Society of the
Friends of Suicide." It consists of twelve members, and a lot is cast
annually to decide which of them is to destroy himself in the presence of
the others. Certain qualifications and testimonials were required before a
candidate could be admitted into this amiable club:

1. He must prove himself a man of honour.

2. He must have experienced the injustice of mankind, been injured by a
dear friend, or betrayed by a mistress or a wife.

3. He must have experienced, for some considerable time, a miserable
vacuity of soul, and a discontent with every thing in the world.

This association reminds me of a ball that was established in Paris after
the reign of terror, called _Le Bal des Victimes_, to which no person
could be admitted unless they had had a near relation guillotined.

Dr. Schlegel has also given the following statistical table of the
proportion of suicides to various populations--both as regarding counties
and principal cities:

  _Countries._           _Proportion of suicides to population._

  Sweden                              1 in  92,375
  The Milanais                        1 ... 72,570
  Russia, 1819-1820                   1 ... 36,860
  ----    1824-1827                   1 ... 34,246
  Prussia                             1 ... 14,224
  Saxony                              1 ...  8,446
  St. Petersburg                      1 ...    416
  London, 18th century                1 ... 10,572
  ----    19th century                1 ... 21,491
  Paris                               1 ...  2,215
  Geneva                              1 ...  3,714
  Berlin, 1788-1797                   1 ... 23,066
  ----    1798-1807                   1 ... 12,917
  ----    1813-1822                   1 ...  3,312
  Hamburg                             1 ...  4,800
  Leipzig                             1 ...  3,143
  Milan                               1 ...  1,821
  Naples                              1 ... 27,230
  New York                            1 ...  9,474
  Baltimore                           1 ... 15,696
  Philadelphia                        1 ... 20,000

According to our ingenious author, drunkenness is the chief cause of
suicide in England, Prussia, and Germany; love and gambling in France;
whilst bigotry, or the fear of dying without having received the
sacrament, he supposes, prevents it in Spain, where, comparatively
speaking, suicide is seldom heard of.

The same remark may apply to Italy, where a Roman lady, having heard of
such an action, exclaimed, "_Dev' essere un forestiere; gli Italiani non
sono tanto matti_." She was right, the suicide was a melancholy German

In India, where the doctrine of predestination is generally prevalent, it
is calculated that in one year there were forty suicides in a population
of 250,000, twenty-three of which were females.

Arntzenius quotes Gall's opinion, that suicide arises from too great a
predominance of the organ of cautiousness. Combe and other phrenologists
are of opinion, that with this predominance a deficient development of
hope and a large destructiveness must be conjoined.

It has been remarked that in Spain and Portugal, where insanity is
comparatively rare, malconformation of the brain and consequent idiotism
are very frequent.

Since the peace it may be more difficult to arrive at any conclusion on
the subject of increase of lunacy, founded on the admission of lunatics
into public and private establishments, since emigration has carried so
many families and operatives of every description abroad, many of whom,
from various disappointments and vexations, might have been predisposed to

It appears that in 1836 there existed in England and Wales 6402 lunatics,
7265 idiots--13,667 lunatics and idiots. Of paupers alone, or lunatics and
idiots, there were 1.00098 of the total population, or 1 in 1024.

However, according to the most probable calculation, the number of
lunatics in England amounts to about 14,000, out of which about 11,000 are
paupers. Idiots are nearly as numerous as lunatics. Sir A. Halliday states
the former to amount to 5741, and the latter to 6806. To this it must be
observed that many harmless idiots are allowed to remain in their usual
residence. In Wales it appears that idiots are to lunatics in the
proportion of seven to one. The difficulty of obtaining any certain
information on this subject, however, is such, that it is scarcely
possible to decide the question with any chance of a probable certainty.

In regard to the prevalence of lunacy in other countries, the following
are curious statistical statements:

In Spain, in 1817, according to the report of Dr. Luzuriaga, there only
existed in the asylums of Toledo, Granada, Cordova, Valencia, Cadiz,
Saragossa, and Barcelona, 509 lunatics--only fifty were in the hospitals
of Cadiz, sixty in that of Madrid, and thirty-six in the kingdom of

In Italy, in twenty-five asylums in Turin, Genoa, Milan, Brescia, Verona,
Venice, Parma, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Florence, Sienna, Lucca, and
Rome, Mr. Brierre only found 3441 patients. The population of these parts
of Italy amounting to about 16,789,000 inhabitants, which gives one
lunatic to 4879 persons.

Scott, who accompanied Lord Macartney's embassy to China, observed that
very few insane persons were to be found there. Humboldt states that
madness is rare amongst the natives of South America. Carr made the same
remark in Russia. In Spain and Italy, religious melancholy, and that most
vexatious species of insanity called _erotomania_, are the more common.

In the savage tribes of Africa and America insanity is very rare. Dr.
Winterbotham affirms, that among the Africans near Sierra Leone, mania is
a disease which seldom if ever occurs. Idiotism was likewise a rare
phenomenon among them. Among the negro slaves in the West Indies it is
scarcely known, and during three years' residence in the Bahamas, only one
case of monomania fell under my observation. Amongst the native races of
America it scarcely exists. From these observations we may conclude, with
Esquirol, that insanity belongs almost exclusively to civilized races of
men, that it scarcely exists among savages, and is rare in barbarous
countries. To what circumstance are we to attribute this exemption?
Possibly it may be attributed to simplicity in living, which predisposes
to less disease and morbid varieties of organization, and to the absence
of that refined education which exposes man to the artificial wants and
miseries of high civilization. It is moreover probable that the constant
occupation which the existence of the savage requires to satisfy his
absolute necessities, does not leave him leisure time to ponder over
gloomy ideas and fictitious sufferings. In addition to these
circumstances, Dr. Pritchard has justly remarked, that we might also
conjecture that congenital predisposition is wanting in the offspring of
uncivilized races. The same author admits the probability of the brain
receiving a different development in the progeny of cultivated races, or
of those whose mental faculties have been awakened.

Various professions have been supposed to exercise much influence on the
intellectual faculties. The following observations at the Salpétrière
during one year may tend to illustrate this subject:

  Field labourers                       43
  Servants                              51
  Needlework women                      85
  Cooks                                 16
  Shopkeepers                           21
  Pedlars                               16
  Shoemakers                             8
  House-painters and varnishers          5
  Housekeepers                         192
  Women of the town                     33

In Mr. Esquirol's establishment:

  Farmers                                3
  Military men                          33
  Seamen                                 3
  Merchants                             50
  Students                              25
  Clerks in public offices              21
  Engineers                              2
  Lawyers                               11
  Chemists                               4
  Physicians                             4
  Artists                                8

According to the prevalence of the ideas connected with their former
pursuits do we observe the hallucination of these unfortunate persons to
be of a different character. Dr. Abercrombie relates the case of a Scotch
clergyman, who was brought before a jury to be what is called in Scotland
_cognosced_, or declared incapable of managing his affairs. Amongst the
acts of extravagance alleged against him was, that he had burnt his
library. When he was asked by the jury what account he would give of this
part of his conduct, he replied in the following terms: "In the early part
of my life I had imbibed a liking for a most unprofitable study, namely,
controversial divinity. On reviewing my library, I found a great part of
it to consist of books of this description, and I was so anxious that my
family should not be led to follow the same pursuits, that I determined to
burn the whole." He gave answers equally plausible to questions which
were put to him respecting other parts of his conduct; and the result was,
that the jury found no sufficient ground for cognoscing him; but in the
course of a fortnight from that time, he was in a state of decided mania.

What a school of humility is a lunatic asylum! What a field of observation
does it not present to the philosopher who ranges among its inmates! We
find the same aberrations that obtain in society; similar errors, similar
passions, similar miserable self-tormenting chimeras, empty pride,
worthless vanity, and overweening ambition. There we

  See that noble and most sovereign reason,
  Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh.

Each madhouse has its gods and priests, its sovereigns and its subjects,
terrific mimicry of worldly superstitions, pomp, pride, and degradation!
There, tyranny rules with iron sway, until the keeper's appearance makes
tyrants know there does exist a power still greater than their own. In
madhouses egotism prevails as generally as in the world, and nothing
around the lunatic sheds any influence unless relating to his wretched
self. In this struggle between the mind and body, this constant action and
reaction of the moral and the corporeal energies, when reason has yielded
to the brute force of animal passions, and the body with all its baseness
has triumphed over the soul, one cannot but think of Plutarch's fanciful
idea, that, should the body sue the mind for damages before a court of
justice, it would be found that the defendant had been a ruinous tenant to
the plaintiff.

In many cases of insanity we observe a singular fertility of glowing
imagination and a vivacity of memory which is often surprising. Dr. Willis
mentions a patient who was subject to occasional attacks of insanity, and
who assured him that he expected the paroxysms with impatience, as they
proved to him a source of considerable delight. "Every thing," he said,
"appeared easy to me. No obstacles presented themselves either in theory
or in practice. My memory acquired of a sudden a singular degree of
perfection. Long passages of Latin authors occurred to my mind. In general
I have great difficulty in finding rhythmical terminations, but then I
could write verse with as much facility as prose."

Old associations thus recalled into the mind are often mixed up with
recent occurrences, in the same manner as in dreaming. Dr. Gooch mentions
a lady who became insane in consequence of an alarm of fire in her
neighbourhood. She imagined that she was transformed into the Virgin Mary,
and that a luminous halo beamed round her head.

It is said that the Egyptians placed a mummy at their festive board, to
remind man of mortality. Would not a frequent visit to a lunatic asylum
afford a wholesome lesson to the reckless despot, the proud statesman, and
the arbitrary chieftain? There they might converse with tyrants,
politicians, and self-created heroes, in all the naked turpitude of the
evil passions, who in their frantic gestures would show them that which
they wish to be--that which the world considers they are! Often would they
hear the maniac express the very thoughts that ruffle their own pillows,
until the dreaded bell that announces the doctor's visit, and which with
one loud peal destroys his fond illusions, herald of that knell which
sooner or later must call them from the busy world they think their own.
How beautifully has Filmer expressed the madman's fears!

  See yon old miser laden with swelling bags
  Of ill-got gold, with how much awkward haste
  He limps away to shelter! See how he ducks,
  And dives, and dodges with the gods; and all
  Only in hope to avoid, for some few days
  Perhaps, the just reward of his own sad extortions.
  The hot adulterer, now all chill and impotent
  With fear, leaps from the polluted bed,
  And crams himself into a cranny!
  There mighty men of blood, who make a trade
  Of murder, forget their wonted fierceness;
  Out-nois'd, they shrink aside, and shake for fear
  O' th' louder threat'nings of the angry gods.

Whatever may be the nature of insanity or our fallacious views regarding
it, it is a matter of great consolation to find that our mode of treating
it is at last founded on rational and humane principles. The unfortunate
lunatic is no longer an object of horror and disgust, chained down like a
wild beast, and sunk by ignorance or avarice, even below the level of that
degradation in the scale of human beings, to which it had pleased
Providence to reduce him,--we no longer behold him rising from his foul
and loathsome bed of straw, scantily covered with filthy tatters, his hair
and beard wild and grisly--his eyes under the influence of constant
excitement, darting menacing looks--the foam bubbling through his gnashing
teeth--clanking his fetters with angry words and gestures, threatening
heaven and earth--gazed at with dismay, through massive bars--the very
female seeming of doubtful sex:

                Her unregarded locks
  Matted like fury-tresses, her poor limbs
  Chain'd to the ground; and stead of those delights
  Which happy lovers taste, her keeper's stripes,
  A bed of straw, and a coarse wooden dish
  Of wretched sustenance.[18]

Now, the unfortunate persons are restored to social life as much as their
sad condition allows; they enjoy every comfort that can solace them in
their lucid intervals, when their hallucinations cease; in illness they
are treated with kindness and liberality, and in health, their former
associations with the busy world, are recalled by labour, voluntarily
performed or stimulated by the incentive of some additional comfort. No
coercion is resorted to, except to prevent the furious maniac from
injuring himself and others, and then, such means are adopted that
restrain his violence without a painful process. Even the straight
waistcoat, which impedes respiration, is generally banished in all
well-regulated establishments, and belts, sleeves, and muffs, which merely
secure the hands, without preventing a free motion of the articulations,
are usually resorted to. To such an extent is healthy occupation carried
on in lunatic asylums, that at this moment at Hanwell, out of upwards of
600 inmates under my care, 421 are at work and distributed as follows:


    57 Working in the garden and grounds.
    53 Handicrafts at various trades.
    38 Assistants in the wards.
    28 Picking coir, or the external fibre of the cocoa-nut,
         for stuffing mattresses, &c.
     2 Clerks in the office.


   120 At needlework.
     2 Making brushes.
    21 In the kitchen and dairy.
    21 Assisting in the wards.
    26 Picking coir.
    30 Working in the garden.
    23 In the laundry.

Hanwell may be said to be an asylum for incurables, since it is doomed to
receive old cases that scarcely ever afford a chance of recovery; to which
are added a large proportion of the idiots and epileptics of Middlesex,
whose families cannot support them.

Let us hope from this gradual amelioration in the condition of this
illfated class of our fellow-creatures, that every institution, both
public and private, will shortly be conducted upon a similar plan, having
sufficient grounds attached to it, to give occupation to such of their
inmates as may still be able to enjoy some share, however trifling it may
be, of the blessings of this life.


Bontius informs us that this disease was observed on the banks of the
Ganges, where it was known by the name of _Cowrap_. Kaempfer noticed it in
Ceylon and Japan. In Sumatra, whole generations are infected with both
leprosy and elephantiasis; and those who are labouring under the latter
disease, although it is not contagious, are driven into the woods.
Christopher Columbus found lepers in the island of Buona Vista in 1498,
and frictions of turtle blood were used to relieve them.

In our days it is a disease of rare occurrence, at least in Europe; yet it
was observed at Vetrolles and Martignes, in France, in 1808, and at Pigua
and Castel Franco, in Italy, in 1807. The elephantiasis still prevails in
our West India colonies, more especially that species which is called
"elephant leg," and which is not uncommon at Barbadoes, St. Christopher,
and Nevis. Parsons, in his Travels in Asia and Africa, informs us that a
similar complaint exists on the coast of Malabar, where it is called the
"Cochin leg." The Hindoo physicians treat it with pills of arsenic and
black pepper.

A curious species of leprosy appeared in Rome under the reign of Tiberius,
which was brought thither from Asia. The eruption first broke out upon the
chin, whence it was called _Mentagra_, and is thus alluded to by Martial:

  Non ulcus acre, pustulæve lucentes;
  Nec triste mentum, sordidive lichenes.

From the chin it extended over the entire body, and on its disappearance
left scars more unsightly, if possible, than the former disease. Its
virulence and difficulty of cure induced the Romans to send to Egypt for
attendance. The same disease prevailed in the second century, and Soranus,
a physician of Aquitania, was sent for to heal it. Crispus, a friend of
Galen, is said to have discovered the best method of cure. Pliny has given
an accurate account of the mentagra in his Natural History, lib. xxvii.
cap. 1. According to the same writer, elephantiasis was brought to Rome by
Pompey's troops. Plutarch fixes its apparition to the time when
Asclepiades of Bithynia flourished as one of his disciples. Themison wrote
a treatise on the disease, which is mentioned by Cælius Aurelianus, but
has not been preserved from the ravages of time. Lucilius called the
affection _odiosa Vitiligo_. The _Gemursa_ of Pliny appears to have been a
similar complaint; and Triller thinks that it was the _Gumretha_ of the

Formerly, in England, the causes of lepers were committed to the
ecclesiastical courts, as it was prohibited to prosecute a leper before a
lay judge, as they were under the protection of the church, which
separated them from the rest of the people by a ritual. At this period a
law existed, called _Leproso amovendo_, for the removal of lepers who
ventured to mix in society. Thus leprosy may be considered one of the most
terrific maladies inflicted on mankind. Holy Writ affords us abundant
proofs of its fatal character. It is probable that this disease was first
observed under the scorching sun of Egypt, whence it spread its ravages to
Greece and Asia; and when the East was obliged to submit to the Roman
legions, the conquerors carried the scourge of the vanquished to their own
country. From Italy the disorder extended to France; and in the reign of
Philip I. we find some members of the church militant, called
_hospitaliers_, who spent their arduous life in attending upon lepers, and
waging war against the infidels.

The Hebrew tribes, on quitting Egypt, were subject to three kinds of
leprosy; all of them were distinguished by the name of _Berat_ ([Hebrew]),
or "bright spot." One called _Boak_ ([Hebrew]), of a dull white; and two
named _Tsorat_ ([Hebrew]), or "venom or malignity:" the first variety of
the latter being the _Berat Lebena_, or bright white berat; and the next
the _Berat Cecha_, or the dark and dusky berat; both of which were highly
contagious, and rendered those who laboured under their attack unclean,
and dangerous to society.

Manetho, Justin, and several historians, pretend that the Hebrews were
expelled from Egypt in consequence of their being infected with this
formidable disease; a reproach from which Josephus attempted to exculpate
his countrymen. It appears, however, that, during their captivity of one
hundred and thirty-four years, the Israelites laboured under this awful
visitation; and, three thousand years after their migration we find
Prosper Alpinus describing the banks of the Nile as the principal seat of
the disease. Lucretius gives the same account of it:

  Est Elephas morbus, qui, propter flumina Nili
  Gignitur, Ægypto in mediâ, neque præterea usquam.

Pliny and Marcellus Empiricus refer the calamity to the same source. They
state, however, that it was more general in the lower classes, although it
sometimes attacked their sovereigns; an event which added to the horrors
of the infliction, since it appears that royalty had the privilege of
bathing in human blood as one of the most effectual curative means. Gaul
and Avicenna attribute its fatal prevalence in Alexandria to the influence
of the climate, and the quality of their food. The Persian writer thus
expresses himself: "Et quando aggregatur caliditas aëris cum malitiâ cibi,
et ejus essentia ex genere piscium, et carne salitâ, et carne grossâ, et
carnibus asinorum, et lentibus, procul dubio est ut eveniat lepra, sicut
multiplicatur in Alexandriâ."

The _Boak_, or slighter berat, which is not considered to be contagious,
still bears the same denomination amongst the Arabs, and is the [Greek:
lepra alphos] or dull white leprosy of the Greeks. The bright white and
dusky berats of the Hebrews were distinguished on account of their
malignity, and with the _Tsorat_ ([Hebrew]) are still called among the
Arabians by the Hebrew generic term with a very slight alteration, for the
_Berat Lebena_ is their _Beras Bejas_, and the _Berat Cecha_, the _Beras

While the Arabians borrowed the Hebrew terms, the Greeks took their
denominations from the same source; and from _Tsorat_ they adopted the
word _Psora_. The _Tsorat_ is restrained by the Hebrews to the contagious
form of leprosy. Amongst the Greeks Lepra was a generic synonyme of
_Berat_ or _Beras_.

This confusion in the adaptation of the names given to the varieties of
leprosy has occasioned much perplexity in the study of the disease.
Actuarius, in endeavouring to rectify these errors, has produced a greater
confusion. According to him, they are different forms of a common genus.
However, the most important distinction was that which defined the
contagious and the non-contagious forms. The leprosy described by Moses
under the name of _Boak_ or _Bohak_ was the [Greek: alphos] of
Hippocrates; _Seeth_ the [Greek: phakos]; _Saphachath_ and _Misphachath_
the [Greek: leichên]; and _Bahereth_ the [Greek: leukê]; and according to
Carthenser and other writers, this leprosy was the _Leucé_ of the Greeks.

The elephantiasis was long confounded with leprosy; but the former is a
tubercular affection of the skin, widely different from the scaly leprosy,
and certainly not contagious. Its singular name was derived from the
condition of the surface of the huge misshapen limbs of those who were
affected with the malady, and which bore some resemblance to the leg of an
elephant. This morbid state is not uncommon in the island of Barbadoes,
and in England it has been called "the Barbadoes leg." The original Arabic
name for this affection was _Dal Fil_, or "the elephant's disease," which
is now the common denomination; although it is frequently abridged into
_Fil_ alone, literally _Elephas_. The elephantiasis is not even alluded to
by Moses in his descriptions of leprosy. However, the elephant leg of the
Arabians is a disease totally different from the specific elephantiasis,
which is a disorder of the skin, the roughness of which led to the name,
and which the Arabians called _Juzam_ or _Judam_.

These errors of description amongst medical writers have of course
occasioned much obscurity and perplexity in the productions of travellers
and historians, who have generally confounded all these diseases with the
Hebrew leprosy, or the leprosy which for so long a period desolated the
fairest portions of Europe, where every country was crowded with hospitals
established for the exclusive relief of the malady. The number of
leper-houses, as they were denominated, has been singularly exaggerated.
Paris has been made to assert that there were nineteen thousand of these
hospitals, whereas he merely stated that the Knights Hospitalers, under
various patron saints, but more particularly St. Lazarus, were endowed
with nineteen thousand manors to support their extensive establishments;
and he thus clearly expressed himself: "_Habent Hospitalarii novemdecim
millia maneriorum in Christianitate_." It appears that in the reign of
Louis VIII., France had no less than two thousand of these hospitals.
Leprosy was well known in the eighth century, and St. Ottomar and St.
Nicholas, were considered the first founders of establishments for its
treatment in France and in Germany. The Crusaders, however, by their
connexions with the East, materially increased its inroads in Europe, and
the disgusting malady appears to have been considered as a proof of
holiness. Moehser, in his work "_De medicis equestri dignitate
ornatis_," informs us that the Knights of the order of St. Lazarus were
not only intrusted with the care of lepers, but admitted them into their
noble order: their Grand Master was himself a leper. The Crusaders,
returning from their useless wars, eaten up with the disease, received the
honourable distinction of being _pauperes Christi, morbi beati Lazari
languentes_. The most distinguished individuals in the land attended upon
them with the utmost humility; and Robert, King of France, used to wash
and kiss their filthy feet to keep himself in odour of sanctity. All these
attentions, however, did not always prevent the lepers from complaining of
their complicated sufferings, but they were exhorted by holy men (who of
course had never experienced the miseries of the malady) to be of good
comfort, as their illness was a blessed favour conferred upon them as the
elect of the land. St. Louis thought the Sire de Joinville an unbeliever;
for having once asked him which he would prefer, being a _mezieu_ or
_laide_ (a leper), or having to reproach his conscience with any mortal
sin, his favourite replied to the singular question, that he would rather
be guilty of thirty deadly sins; whereupon the sanctified monarch severely
rebuked him by telling him in the quaint language of the times, "Nulle si
laide mezeuerie n'est, comme de estre en péché mortel."

Notwithstanding the sanctity of their disease, lepers were by various laws
separated from the healthy portion of the community. The ceremonies used
on these occasions were curious; and we find the following description of
them in the History of Bretagne: A priest in his sacerdotal robes went to
the leper's dwelling, bearing a crucifix. He was then exhorted to submit
with resignation to the affliction: he afterwards threw holy water upon
him, and conducted him to church. There he was stripped of his ordinary
vestments, and clothed in a black garment; he then knelt down to hear
mass, and was again sprinkled with holy water. During these ceremonies,
the office for the dead was duly sung, and the leper was finally led to
his destined future residence. Here he again knelt, received salutary
exhortations to be patient, while a shovelful of earth was thrown on his
feet. His dwelling was most diminutive: his furniture consisted of a bed,
a water-jug, a chest, a table, a chair, a lamp, and a towel. He further
received a cowl, a gown, a leathern girdle, a small cag with a funnel, a
knife, a spoon, a wand, and a pair of _cliquettes_, (a sort of castanets,)
to announce his approach. Before leaving him, the priest added another
blessing to these gifts, and departed, after commanding him under the
severest penalties never to appear without his distinctive apparel, and
barefooted; never to enter a church, a mill, or a baker's shop; to perform
all his ablutions in streams and running waters; never to touch any
article he wanted to purchase, except with his wand; never to enter
drinking-houses, but to buy his liquor at their doors, having it poured
into his barrel by means of the funnel graciously given him for that
purpose; never to answer any question unless he was to windward of his
interlocutor; never to presume to take a walk in a narrow lane; never to
touch or go near children, or look at a good-looking wench; and only to
eat, drink, and junket with his brother lepers; and invariably to announce
his unwelcome approach by rattling his castanets.

The offsprings of these sequestrated creatures were seldom baptized; and
when this rite was performed, the water was thrown away. After this
oration his ghostly adviser took his final leave, and the patient's former
dwelling was burnt to the ground. The sepulchre of St. Mein, in Britanny,
was frequently visited by these poor creatures; and on such occasions they
were obliged to have both their hands covered with woollen bags, as a
distinguishing mark amongst the other pilgrims. Lepers were only allowed
to intermarry with fellow-sufferers; yet we find in one of the Decretals
of St. Gregory, that any woman who chose to run the chances of contagion
could please her fancy. St. Gregory perhaps thought this the most
effectual method of preventing the dreaded intercourse, as most probably,
had it been prohibited, lepers would have been in great request, they
having always been notorious for their amorous propensities. Muratori
informs us that these unfortunate persons did not always submit quietly to
these severe regulations, but several times joined the Jews in a revolt
against the authorities.

This affliction has been observed in various countries. In Iceland it is
called _Likraa_; in Norway, _Radesyge_ or _Spedalskhed_. It is to be
apprehended that many of these cases of leprosy belong more particularly
to the elephantiasis: such is the red disease of Cayenne, and the _Boasi_
of Surinam.

It is especially in the East, its probable original seat, that leprosy is
observed. In Damascus there are two hospitals for its treatment. The
waters of the Jordan are still considered efficacious in its cure, and the
waters of Abraham's well are looked upon as a specific. In Candia the
disease was common, and lepers were noted for their obscene profligacy.
From Crimea it has also been carried to Astracan, whence it infected the
Cossacks of Jaïck. Pallas and Gmelin have given an accurate account of its


Various opinions are entertained respecting the reptile that inflicted the
fatal sting on Cleopatra. According to Pliny, it had hollow fangs, which
distilled the venom in the same manner as the tail of the scorpion. Ælian
states it to have been a snake that moves slowly, covered with scales of a
reddish colour, his head crowned by callous protuberances, his neck
becoming swollen and inflated when he sheds his poisonous secretion. Other
naturalists affirm that the scales are shining, and the eyes of a dazzling
brightness; while some authorities maintain that the reptile's hue is of a
dark brown colour, and that, like the chameleon, it can assume the colour
of the ground on which it drags its writhing form. However, later
observers have now clearly ascertained that the aspic of the ancients is
the _coluber haje_, called by the Arabs _nascher_, and classed by Lacepède
as the Egyptian viper. Lucan seems to have described this serpent in the
following lines:

  Hic, quæ prima caput movit de pulvere tabes
  Aspida somniferum tumida cervice levârit.

According to Hasselquist, the aspic's head is raised in a protuberance on
both sides behind the eyes; the scales which cover the back are small, of
a dirty white colour, and speckled with reddish spots. The lower surface
of the reptile is striated with one hundred and eighteen small parallel
zones, and forty-four smaller ones are under the tail. The teeth resemble
in their structure those of other vipers; and, when the animal is
irritated, its neck and throat are swelled up to the size of the body.
Authors vary in regard to its length. Hasselquist, from whom we have
derived the above description, says that it is a short reptile; while
Savary assures us that it sometimes measures six feet.

The ancients stated that the poison of the aspic did not occasion any
pain, but that the person it had stung gradually sunk into a calm and
languid state, which was followed by a sound sleep, the forerunner of
dissolution. Modern travellers assure us, on the contrary, that this venom
is most active; and Hasselquist has observed an aspic in Cyprus, the bite
of which brought on a rapid mortification, which generally proved fatal in
a very few hours.

In Egypt the viper is still made use of in medicinal preparations; and a
great number of them are sent to Venice for the confection of the
celebrated _Theriaca_. Under Nero, we are told, that these reptiles were
imported into Rome for pharmaceutical purposes.

In the above description, and endeavour to ascertain the nature of the
aspic of the ancients, there must be some error. The _coluber aspis_ of
Linnæus is not venomous, and we may therefore conclude that the aspic was
of the same species as our viper. The venom of this animal is of a yellow
tinge, and small in quantity, seldom exceeding two grains in weight. In
hot weather it becomes more active in its effects. Time does not seem to
deprive it of its fatal properties; for instances have been known of
persons having pricked their fingers with the pointed fangs of a viper
preserved in spirits, when the most serious accidents have followed. The
dried teeth lose this noxious power. The venom of the viper may be
swallowed without any risk, provided there is not an ulcer in the mouth.
Fontana has made upwards of six thousand experiments to prove the activity
of this substance. A sparrow died under its influence in five minutes, a
pigeon in eight or ten; a cat sometimes did not experience any
inconvenience, a sheep seldom or never; and the horse appears to be proof
against its action.

Some naturalists have affirmed that the female viper, in cases of sudden
alarm, possesses the faculty of securing the safety of her young by
swallowing them and keeping them concealed in her stomach, as the kangaroo
secures her offspring in her pouch. This assertion, although fabulous, was
credited by Sir Thomas Brown, and since by Dr. Shaw. Stories equally
absurd have been circulated of this reptile. The Egyptians considered the
viper as a typification of a bad wife, since they believed that during
their union the female was in the habit of biting off her partner's head.
They also looked upon it as the emblem of undutiful children, from the
idle belief that the viper came into the world by piercing an opening in
its mother's side.


If a physician sees you eat any thing that is not good for the body, to
keep you from it he cries out "It is _poison_!" If the divine sees you do
any thing that is hurtful to your soul, to keep you from it he cries out
"You are _damned_!"

To preach long, loud, and damnation, is the way to be cried up. We love a
man who damns us, and we run after him again to save us. If a man has a
sore leg, and he should go to an honest and judicious surgeon, and he
should only bid him keep it warm, or anoint it with some well-known oil
that would do the cure, haply he would not much regard him, because he
knows the medicine beforehand to be an ordinary medicine. But if he should
go to a surgeon that should tell him, "Your leg will be gangrene within
three days, and it must be cut off; and you will die, unless you do
something that I could tell you," what listening there would be to this
man! "Oh! for the Lord's sake, tell me what this is:--I will give you any
contents for your pains."

This ingenious antiquary has also made some quaint comparisons between
doctors of the body and doctors of the public interests. "All might go on
well," he says, "in the commonwealth, if every one in the parliament would
lay down his own interest and aim at the general good. If a man was rich,
and the whole college of physicians were sent to him to administer to him
severally; haply, so long as they observed the rules of art, he might
recover. But if one of them had a great deal of scammony by him, he must
put off that; therefore will he prescribe scammony; another had a great
deal of rhubarb, and he must put off that; therefore he prescribes
rhubarb: and they would certainly kill the man. We destroy the
commonwealth, while we preserve our own private interests and neglect the

Grotius called John Selden "the honour of the English nation;" and Bacon
had such an implicit faith in his judgment, that he desired in his will
that his advice should be taken respecting the publication or suppression
of his posthumous works.


Various species of this plant were known to the ancients. Its type is
supposed to be the _Lactuca quercina_, or the _Lactuca scariola_; both of
Asiatic origin. Many powerful effects were formerly attributed to its use.
It was considered as producing sleep, and recovery from intoxication; it
was in consequence of this belief that this salad was served up after
meals. Thus Martial tells us,

  Claudere quæ coenas Lactuca solebat avorum,
  Die mihi cur nostras inchoat illa dapes.

Columella thus describes its properties:

  Jamque salutari properet Lactuca sapore
  Tristia quæ relevet longi fastidia mori.

This belief in its narcotic qualities induced the ancients to esteem it as
an aphrodisiac: the Pythagoreans had therefore named it [Greek:
eunouchion]; and Eubulus calls it the food of the dead, _mortuorum cibum_.
Venus covered the body of her beloved Adonis with lettuce-leaves to calm
her amorous grief; and vases, in which they were planted, were introduced
in the Adonian festivals. Galen, who had faith in its powers, called it
the herb of sages, and in his sleepless nights sought its influence by
eating it at supper. It was also frequently put under the pillow of the
rich to lull them to repose. Its cooling qualities were so much dreaded by
the Roman gallants, that its use was abandoned; but Augustus's physician,
Antonius Musa, having calmed by its prescription his master's uneasiness
in a hypochondriac attack, lettuce recovered its popularity: a statue was
erected to the doctor, and salad once more became the fashion, although
the prejudices against it could not be removed. Lobel informs us that an
English nobleman, who had long wished for an heir, but in vain, was
blessed with a numerous family by leaving off this Malthusian vegetable.


Such is the perversity of our nature, that the remuneration given with the
greatest reluctance is the reward of those who restore us, or who
conscientiously endeavour to restore us to health. The daily fees, it is
true, are not handed with regret, for the patient is still suffering; but
if they were to be allowed to accumulate to a considerable amount, they
would be parted with, with a lingering look. The lawyer's charges for a
ruinous litigation, the architect's demands for an uncomfortable house,
are freely disbursed, though if exorbitant they may be taxed; but the
doctor's--a guinea a visit!--is sheer extortion. 'Send for the apothecary:
the physician merely gives me advice; the apothecary will send me plenty
of physic: at any rate I shall have something for my money.'

To what can this unjust, this illiberal feeling be attributed? Simply to
vanity and pride. Illness and death level all mankind. The haughty
nobleman, who conceives himself contaminated by vulgar touch, can scarcely
bring himself to believe that he is placed upon the same footing as a
shoe-black. All _prestiges_ of grandeur and worldly pomp vanish round the
bed of sickness; and the suffering peer would kneel before the humblest
peasant for relief. Then it is that money would be cheerfully lavished to
mitigate his sufferings. But how soon the scene is changed! The patient is
well, thrown once more in the busy vortex of business or of pleasure. He
had been slightly indisposed; his natural constitution is excellent: the
doctors mistook his case; thought him very ill, forsooth; but nature cured

Could the ambitious mother admit for one moment that her daughter had been
seriously ill?--a sick wife is an expensive article! If her medical
attendant unfortunately hinted that the young lady had been in danger, he
is considered a busy old woman, exaggerating the most trifling ailment to
obtain increase of business; in fact, a dangerous man in a family where
there are young persons--to be provided for. Nor can we marvel at this. No
one likes to be considered morally or physically weak, excepting
hypochondriacs, who live upon groans, and feel offended if you tell them
that they do not look miserable. The soldier will describe the slightest
wound he received in battle as most severe and dangerous; a feeling of
pride is associated with the relation. The bold hunter will boast of a
fractured limb; the accident showed that he was a daring horseman. Nay,
the agonizing gout is a fashionable disease, which seems to proclaim good
living, good fellowship, and luxury: it is, in short, a gentlemanly
disease. But the slow ravages of hereditary ailments, transmitted from
generation to generation with armorial bearings, the development of which
may be averted by proper care, or hurried on by fashionable imprudence!
how difficult even to hint to a family the presence of the scourge, when,
through the transparent bloom of youth and beauty, our experienced eye
reads the fierce characters of death in the prime of years. The aerial
coronet floats in fond visions before the doting mother's ambitious eyes.
A man would be a barbarian, nay, a very brute, to deprive the darling girl
of the chances of Almacks, the delights of the pestiferous ball-room, or
the galaxy of court or opera!

To attend the great is deemed the first stepping-stone to fortune, and
patronage is considered as more than an equivalent of remuneration. Too
frequently does the physician placed in that desirable situation forget
what Hippocrates said of the profession. "The physician stands before his
patient in the light of a demi-god, since life and death are in his

Curious anecdotes are related of this unbecoming subserviency. A courtly
doctor, when attending one of the princesses, was asked by George III. if
he did not think a little ice might benefit her. "Your majesty is right,"
was the reply; "I shall order some forthwith." "But perhaps it might be
too cold," added the kind monarch. "Perhaps your majesty is right again;
therefore her royal highness had better get it warmed."

This absurd deference to rank and etiquette by a physician who at the
moment is superior to all around him, reminds one of an account given by
Champfort of a fashionable doctor. "D'Alembert was spending the evening at
Madame Du Deffand's, where were also President Hénault and M. Pont de
Vesle. On this flexible physician's entering the room, he bowed to the
lady with the formal salutation, '_Madame, je vous présente mes très
humbles respects_.' Then, addressing M. Hénault, '_J'ai bien l'honneur de
vous saluer_.' Turning round to M. de Vesle he obsequiously said,
'_Monsieur, je suis votre très humble serviteur_;' and at last,
condescending to speak to D'Alembert, he nodded to him with a '_Bonjour,
Monsieur_!'" On such occasions a condescending smile from power is
considered a fee.

Reluctance in remunerating medical attendants was also manifested by the
ancients; and Seneca has treated the subject at some length. The
difficulty in obtaining remuneration has unfortunately rendered many
physicians somewhat sordid, and loth to give an opinion unless paid for.
In this they are unquestionably right, as gratuitous advice is seldom
heeded; and one of the most distinguished practitioners used to say, that
he considered a fee so necessary to give weight to an opinion, that, when
he looked at his own tongue in the glass, he slipped a guinea from one
pocket into another.

To consider themselves in proper hands, patients must incur expenses, and
as much physic as possible be poured down. Malouin, physician to the Queen
of France, was so fond of drugging, that it is told of him, that once
having a most patient patient, who diligently and punctually swallowed all
the stuff he ordered, he was so delighted in seeing all the phials and
pill-boxes cleaned out, that he shook him cordially by the hand,
exclaiming, "My dear sir, it really affords me pleasure to attend you, and
you _deserve_ to be ill." Our apothecaries must surely meet with incessant

The most extraordinary remuneration was that received by Levett, Dr.
Johnson's friend and frequent companion. It was observed of him that he
was the only man who ever became intoxicated from motives of prudence. His
patients, knowing his irregular habits, used frequently to substitute a
glass of spirits for a fee; and Levett reflected that if he did not accept
the gin or brandy offered to him, he could have been no gainer by their
cure, as they most probably had nothing else to give him. Dr. Johnson says
"that this habit of taking a fee in whatever shape it was exhibited, could
not be put off by advice or admonition of any kind. He would swallow what
he did not like, nay, what he knew would injure him, rather than go home
with an idea that his skill had been exerted without recompence; and had
his patients," continues Johnson, "maliciously combined to reward him with
meat and strong liquors, instead of money, he would either have burst,
like the dragon in the Apocrypha, through repletion, or been scorched up,
like Portia, by swallowing fire." But though this worthy was thus
rapacious, he never demanded any thing from the poor, and was remarked for
his charitable conduct towards them.

Various professional persons have sometimes endeavoured to remunerate
their medical attendants by reciprocal services: thus an opera-dancer
offered to give lessons to a physician's daughters for their father's
attendance upon him; and a dentist has been known to propose to take care
of the jaws of a whole family to liquidate his wine bill. One of the
wealthiest merchants of Bordeaux wanted to reduce the price of a
drawing-master's lessons, on the score of his taking his children's daubs
with him to sell them _on account_. This arrangement, however, did not
suit the indignant artist, who left the Croesus in disgust.

A singular charge for medical attendance was lately brought before the
court of requests of Calcutta, by a native practitioner. He demanded 314
rupees for medicine alone, and in the items of drugs appeared pearls, gold
leaf, and monkeys' navels!

In one of the old French farces there is an absurd scene between Harlequin
and his physician. The motley hero had been cured, but refused to
remunerate his Esculapius, who brought an action for his fees, when
Harlequin declares to the judge that he would rather be sick again; and he
therefore offers to return his health to the doctor, provided he would
give him back his ailments, that each party might thus recover their own
property. This incident was perhaps founded on an ancient opinion of
Hippocrates, who frequently mentioned salutary diseases. In 1729, a Dr.
Villars supported a thesis on this subject, entitled "_Dantur-ne morbi
salutares?_" and Theodore Van Ween has also written a learned dissertation
on the same subject.

A celebrated Dublin surgeon was once known to give a lesson of economy to
a wealthy and fashionable young man remarkably fond of his handsome face
and person. He was sent for, and found the patient seated by a table,
resting his cheek upon his hand, whilst before him was displayed a
five-pound note. After some little hesitation he removed his hand, and
displayed a small mole on the cheek. "Do you observe this mark,
doctor?"--"Yes, sir, I do."--"I wish to have it removed."--"Does it
inconvenience you?"--"Not in the least."--"Then why wish for its
extirpation?"--"I do not like the look of it."--"Sir," replied the
surgeon, "I am not in the habit of being disturbed for such trifles;
moreover, I think that that little excrescence had better remain
untouched, since it gives you no uneasiness; and I make it a rule only to
take from my patients what is troublesome to them." So saying, he took the
five-pound note, slipped it into his pocket, and walked out of the room,
leaving the patient in a state of perfect astonishment.

It is related of a physician who received his daily fee from a rich old
miser, who had it clenched in his fist when he arrived, and turned his
head away when he opened his hand for the doctor to take it, that, on
being informed his patient had died in the morning, not in the least
disconcerted he walked up to the dead man's chamber, and found his
clenched fist stretched out as usual; presuming that it still grasped the
accustomed remuneration, with some difficulty he opened the fingers, took
out the guinea, and departed.

The Egyptian physicians of old were paid by the state, but they were not
prevented from accepting remuneration from individuals, and they were
allowed to make demands for their attendance except on a foreign journey,
and during military services.

When we compare the value of money it appears probable that the fees of
olden practitioners were more considerable than the remuneration of the
present day. Attendance upon royalty and the court seems also to have been
more profitable. Dr. Radcliffe says, that he received from King William
200_l._ a year more than any other physician in ordinary--this monarch
upon his appointment, gave him moreover, 500 guineas out of the privy
purse for his attendance on the Earl of Portland, and the Earl of
Rochford. When the same physician went to Hanau to attend Lord Albemarle,
he received 1200_l._ from the king, with 400 guineas from his patient,
besides a valuable diamond ring.

Dr. Radcliffe's fortune must have been considerable, as appears from his
legacies, bequeathing 5000_l._ for the improvements of University
College--4000_l._ for the building of a library at Oxford--and 500_l._
yearly for the amelioration of the diet of St. Bartholomew's hospital.
Radcliffe had not been a year in London when he received 20 guineas daily,
and he mentions that his fee for a visit from Bloomsbury Square to Bow,
was five guineas.

We do not exactly know what was the exact honorarium of Doctors in former
days, yet Baldwin Hammey informs us that in 1644, Dr. Robert Wright who
had only been settled three years in London, was in the habit of receiving
a thousand broad pieces (22 shillings) in the course of the year.

The following is a curious account of a puritan's consultation with Dr.

"It was in the time of the civil wars when it pleased God to visit him
with a severe fit of sickness, or peripneumonia, which confined him a
great while to his chamber, and to the more than ordinary care of his
tender spouse. During this time he was disabled from practice; but the
very first time he dined in his parlour afterwards, a certain great man in
high station came to consult him on an indisposition--(_ratione vagi sui
amoris_,) and he was one of the godly ones too of those times. After the
doctor had received him in his study, and modestly attended to his long
religious preface, with which he introduced his ignominious circumstances,
and Dr. Hammey had assured him of his fidelity, and gave him hopes of
success in his affair, the generous soldier (for such he was) drew out of
his pocket a bag of gold and offered it all at a lump to his physician.
Dr. Hammey, surprised at so extraordinary a fee, modestly declined the
acceptance of it; upon which the great man, dipping his hand into the bag
himself, grasped up as much of his coin as his fist could hold, and
generously put it into the doctor's coat-pocket, and so took his leave.
Dr. Hammey, returned into his parlour to dinner, which had waited for him
all that time, and smiling (whilst his lady was discomposed at his being
absent so long), emptied his pocket into her lap. This soon altered the
features of her countenance, who telling the money over, found it to be
thirty-six broad pieces of gold: at which she being greatly surprised,
confessed to the doctor that surely this was the most providential fee he
ever received; and declared to him that during the height of his severe
illness, she had paid away (unknown to him) on a state levy towards a
public supply, the like sum in number and value of pieces of gold; lest
under the lowness of his spirits, it should have proved a matter of
vexation, unequal to his strength at that time to bear; which being thus
so remarkably reimbursed to him by Providence, it was the properest
juncture she could lay hold on to let him into the truth of it." It has
been supposed, that the sanctimonious sufferer was no other than Ireton,
Cromwell's son-in-law.

During the imprisonment of Dr. Friend in the tower, Dr. Head attended his
patients, and on his liberation he presented him with 5000_l._ the amount
of the fees received on his account. Dr. Meade's practice averaged from
5000_l._ to 6000_l._ per annum. It is somewhat strange, that this
celebrated physician whose evenings were generally spent in convivial
meetings at Batson's Coffee-house, used in the forenoon to receive
consulting apothecaries at a tavern near Covent-garden, prescribing for
the patients without seeing them at half-a-crown fee.


Enthusiasm, from its derivation, might in strictness be called a _fixity
of idea in divinity_; but Locke has given a better definition of this
morbid state of our intellectual faculties in considering it as a heated
state of the imagination, "_founded neither on reason nor divine
revelation, but arising from the conceits of a warmed or overweening
brain_." I shall not venture to take the field of controversy to support
this doctrine against that of some metaphysicians, who most probably would
consider this mental aberration as an original and natural judgment
inspired by the Almighty, founded not on reason or reflection, but an
instinctive impulse of the powers of the mind.

The Hebrews named this impulse _Nabi_ [Hebrew], (plural _Nebiim_,) "to
approach or enter," on the surmise that the spirit pervaded the prophets,
who were called _Roeh_ [Hebrew], or _Seeing_, hence _Seers_.

Plato divided enthusiasm into four classes. I. _The Poetical_, inspired by
the Muses. II. _The Mystic_, under the influence of Bacchus. III. _The
Prophetic_, a gift of Apollo; and IV. _The Enthusiasm of love_, a blessing
from Venus Urania. This immortal philosopher was not the visionary
speculatist which some writers have represented him; his logic did not
consist of frivolous investigations, but embraced the more useful subject
of correct definition and division, as he sought to reconcile practical
doctrines of morality with the mysticism of theology by the study of
Divine attributes. Whatever some of the Eclectic philosophers might have
asserted, Plato considered that our ideas were derived from external
objects, and never contemplated the extravagant doctrine of imbodying
metaphysical abstractions, or personifying intellectual ideas.

To this day, the attentive observer will find Plato's classification of
enthusiasm to be correct. The ecstatic exaltation of religion and of love
are not dissimilar; only the latter can be cured, the former seldom or
never admits of mitigation: the fantastic visions of the lover may be
dispelled by infidelity in the object of his misplaced affection; the
phantasies of fanaticism can only yield to an improbable state of
infidelity. Shaftesbury has justly observed, "There is a melancholy which
accompanies all enthusiasm, be it of love or religion; nothing can put a
stop to the growing mischief of either, till the melancholy be removed,
and the mind be at liberty to hear what can be said against the
ridiculousness of an extreme in either way."

Our poet Rowe has beautifully pointed out the facility with which a noble
and martial soul can free itself from love's ignoble trammels.

                          Rouse to the combat,
  And thou art sure to conquer; war shall restore thee:
  The sound of arms shall wake thy martial ardour,
  And cure this amorous sickness of thy soul,
  Begot by sloth, and nurs'd by too much ease.
  The idle God of Love supinely dreams
  Amidst inglorious shades and purling streams;
  In rosy fetters and fantastic chains
  He binds deluded maids and simple swains;
  With soft enjoyment woos them to forget
  The hardy toils and labours of the great:
  But if the warlike trumpet's loud alarms
  To virtuous acts excite, and manly arms,
  The coward Boy avows his abject fear,
  On silken wings sublime he cuts the air,
  Scar'd at the noble horse and thunder of the war.

The only trumpet that can arouse the religious enthusiast from his ascetic
meditations is the war-whoop that calls him to destroy all those who
impugn his doctrines in a battle-field, where each champion seeks
pre-eminence in cruelty, and rancorous persecution.

When we contemplate the miseries that have arisen from fanaticism, or
fervid enthusiasm, although it is but a sad consolation, yet it affords
some gratification in our charitable view of mankind, to think, nay to
know, that this fearful state of mind is a disease, a variety of madness,
which may in many instances be referred to a primary physical
predisposition, and a natural idiosyncrasy. It is as much a malady as
melancholy and hypochondriacism. In peculiar constitutions it grows
imperceptibly. Lord Shaftesbury has made the following true observation:
"Men are wonderfully happy in a faculty of deceiving themselves whenever
they set heartily about it. A very small foundation of any passion will
serve us not only to act it well, but even to work ourselves in it beyond
our own reach; a man of tolerable goodnature, who happens to be a little
piqued, may, by improving his resentment, become a very fury for revenge."

Thus it is with enthusiasm, a malady which in its dreadful progress has
been known to become contagious, one might even say epidemic. Vain terrors
have seized whole populations in cities and in provinces; when every
accident that happened to a neighbour was deemed a just punishment of his
sins, and every calamity that befel the fanatic was considered the hostile
act of others. Jealousy and dark revenge were the natural results of such
a state of mind, when the furious fire of bigotry was fanned by ambition
until monomania became dæmonomania of the most hideous nature, and every
maniac bore in his pale and emaciated visage the characteristic of that
temperament which predisposes to the disease. Seldom do we observe it in
the _sanguineous temperament_, remarkable for mental tranquillity, yet
determined courage when roused to action. The _choleric_ and _bilious_,
impetuous, violent, ambitious, ever ready to carry their point by great
virtues or great crimes, may no doubt rush into a destructive career; but
then they lead to the onset the atrabilious, men saturated with black
bile, and constituting the _melancholy temperament_. Here we behold the
countenance sallow and sad; the visage pale and emaciated, of an unearthly
hue; gloom, suspicion, hate, depicted in every lineament; the mirror of a
soul unfitted for any kind sentiment of affection, pity, or forgiveness.
Detesting mankind, and detested, they seek solitude, to brood upon their
wretchedness, or to derive from it the means to make others as miserable
as themselves. Such do we usually find the enthusiastic monomaniac. His
ideas are concentrated into a burning focus, which consumes him like an
ardent mirror. His life of relation is nearly extinguished. His external
senses are rendered so obtuse and callous that he becomes insensible to
hunger and thirst, to heat and cold however intense; and bodily injuries,
which would occasion excruciating agonies in others, he bears without any
apparent feeling. On this subject of religious enthusiasm the remarks of
Evagrius are worthy of notice. "Contrarieties," he says, "are in
themselves so tempered, and the grace of God maketh in them such an union
of discordant things, that life and death, which are in essence so
opposite to each other, seem to join hands and dwell together in them.
Happy are they while they live, and happier still when they depart." It
has been known amongst these rigid ascetics that when a stranger visited
them, they mortified themselves by entertaining him and partaking of the
good cheer. Thus inventing a novel kind of fasting--eating and drinking
against their will.

It is related of St. Macarius, that one day having killed a gnat that had
stung him, he was struck with such compunction at the sight of blood, that
by way of atonement, he threw off his clothes, and remained in a state of
nudity for six months in a marsh exposed to the bites of every noxious
insect. Sozomen in praising this mortification, assures us that this
exposure to the inclemency of the weather, did so harden and tan him that
his beard could not make its way through the skin.

It has been erroneously supposed that such individuals, being hostile to
mankind, are prone to do evil,--this is not generally the case; they seem
satisfied with their own sufferings, and only seek to inflict them upon
others when roused from their concentration by fanaticism.

A late ingenious writer, in his work entitled "The Natural History of
Enthusiasm," has somewhat overdrawn the portrait of these unfortunate but
dangerous beings when labouring under the disease, which he thus defines:
"It will be found that the elementary idea attached to the term in its
manifold applications, is that of fictitious fervour in religion, rendered
turbulent, morose, or rancorous by junction with some one or more of the
unsocial emotions; or, if a definition as brief as possible were demanded,
we should say that fanaticism is enthusiasm inflamed by hatred. Fanaticism
supposes three elements of belief: the supposition of malignity on the
part of the object of our worship; a consequent detestation of mankind at
large, as the subjects of malignant power; and then, a credulous conceit
of the favour of Heaven shown to the few, in contempt of the rules of

Shaftesbury had already said, that "nothing besides ill-humour, either
natural or forced, can bring a man to think seriously that the world is
governed by any devilish or malicious power." Such a fearful conviction
constitutes a clear case of dæmonomania. Patients labouring under that
malady are ever prone to injure themselves and others, prompted, as they
constantly avow, by an evil spirit; but enthusiasts, who live in solitary
mortification until a paroxysm of fanaticism draws them from their
retreat, seldom or never meditate mischief to others, or indeed that
hatred to mankind which our author considers a feature of their condition.
Society may become irksome, and may be shunned for ever, without a
sentiment of hate. The gayest of the gay may be impelled by feelings more
or less morbid to seek a voluntary endurance, to expiate real or imaginary
offences, without experiencing a desire of a uselessly vindictive
sentiment towards the former companions of their vices or follies.
Extremes of depravity and contrition do not infrequently meet; and it has
been remarked in Eastern countries, where asceticism arose, that the gates
of the most splendid and luxurious cities open upon desert wilds or
mountainous solitudes, to which the penitent may flee from his former
scenes of ambition and enjoyment.

Such enthusiasts, excepting when enjoying the beatitude of ecstatic
exaltation, are more to be pitied than feared. Persecution would most
probably drive them to a dangerous state of fanatic rage; and the noble
philosopher whom I have already quoted, very justly observes, "They are
certainly ill physicians in the body politic who would needs be tampering
with these mental eruptions, and, under the specious pretence of healing
the itch of superstition, and saving souls from the contagion of
enthusiasm, should set all nature in an uproar, and turn a few innocent
carbuncles into an inflammation and a mortal gangrene."

Enthusiasts are supposed by their followers to be gifted with the faculty
of prophecy; and it is somewhat strange that the ancients considered
certain temperaments as best fitted for this inspiration. The atrabilious
temperament took the lead; and this melancholy state was to be increased
by abstinence, mortification, and more especially rigid continence. The
latter privation, indeed, was deemed indispensable for prophets; and the
Jewish Rabbins inform us that Moses abandoned his wife Zipporah the very
moment that he was prophetically inspired. A physical reason has been
adduced to prove the necessity of a chaste life, which I here must be
allowed to pass over; but upon the same principle, emasculation was
considered as rendering man totally unfit for prophetic revelation, or
indeed any holy inspiration; and we find in the first of Deuteronomy that
such subjects were not admissible to the service of the Temple.

Jesaias, and some other Jewish writers, have affirmed that Daniel belonged
to that class of beings; but it has been shown that the name of _Spado_,
which he bore, merely gave him the high rank that eunuchs held at the
Assyrian court. Potiphar bore the same title among the Pharaohs. Baruch
Spinosa maintained that temperaments should vary according to the nature
of the prophecy; thus, a gay prophet would predict victory and happiness,
a gloomy one misery and wars; peace and concord, if he is human;
destruction and merciless events, if he were sanguinary: and, in support
of his doctrine, he quotes the passage in Kings, where Elisha, when
brought before Jehosophat, called for a minstrel ere he predicted that
victory should crown the arms of Judah.

Various artificial means have been resorted to at all periods to prepare
the intellects for inspirations, by creating a heated imagination. Pliny
informs us that, in his days, the root of the _Halicacabum_, supposed to
be a species of hyoscyamus, was chewed by soothsayers. Christopher
D'Acosta relates that the Indians employ a kind of hemp called _Bangue_
for the same purpose: and in St. Domingo their supposed prophets masticate
a plant called _Cohaba_. The priestesses of Delphi were also in the habit
of chewing laurel-leaves before they ascended the tripod, which it is
stated was originally formed of a laurel-tree root with three branches.
Sophocles calls the Sibyls [Greek: daphnêphagos], laurel-eaters; and thus

  Vera cano, sic usque sacras innoxia lauros
  Vescar, et æternùm sit mihi virginitas.

Auguries were drawn from the burning of the laurel-leaf. If it crackled
and sparkled during combustion, the inference was favourable; the
reverse, if it was consumed in silence. Propertius alludes to this belief:

  Et tacet extincto laurus adusta foco.

Yet so far from possessing exhilarating qualities, laurel-leaves were
supposed to diminish the excitement produced by wine; and Martial affirms
that the Roman ladies made use of them to drink large potations with

  Foetere multo Myrtale solet vino;
  Sed fallat ut nos, folia devorat lauri,
  Merumque, cautâ fronde, non aquâ miscet.

May it not be inferred that the leaves given to the Pythia might have been
those of the _Lauro-cerasus_, the effects of which are similar to those of
prussic acid, producing vertigo, dizziness, and various convulsive
symptoms? This tree was first observed by Bélon, who discovered it in his
eastern voyages in 1546; but it might have been well known to the
ancients. We may thus account for the violent convulsions in which the
priestesses of Apollo were thrown on these mystic occasions, and which
were said to arise from the gas over which they were seated. Although the
tree from which the leaves were gathered grew near the temple, and was the
common _Lauros nobilis_, yet the leaves of the _Lauro-cerasus_ might have
easily been substituted on the occasion; since, always green and shining,
they are not very unlike each other, and the flowers of both trees are
pedunculate; and, no doubt, the priests well knew to what extent they
could carry the dose to serve their purposes; possibly the modern
preparation of _noyau_ might have been a Pythian dram.

The effects of enthusiasm in rendering its victims insensible to all
external agents is truly surprising, and cannot be better illustrated than
by a relation of the horrors which the famous Convulsionists of Paris and
other parts of France underwent, not only voluntarily, but at their most
earnest prayer and solicitation.

This work of miracles, as it was called, was first performed by a priest
of the name of Paris, in 1724, and strange to say, the aberration
continued for upwards of twelve years. Paris having departed this life in
the odour of sanctity, (at least according to the conviction of the
Jansenists, who had opposed with no little violence the famous bull
_Unigenitus_), the Appellants, for such they thought proper to denominate
their sect, appealed to the remains of their beatified companion to
operate miracles in support of their common cause. The Appellants were
absurdly persecuted, therefore miracles became manifestations easy to
obtain. Having succeeded in finding credulous dupes, the next step was to
work their credulity into a useful state of enthusiasm. They therefore
summoned all the sick, lame, and halt of their sectarians to repair to the
tomb of St. Paris for radical relief. Crowds were soon collected round his
blessed sepulchre. It is now generally supposed that animal magnetism was
resorted to in these curative operations, or rather religious ceremonies.
Had not the means thus employed for the purpose been recorded and
authenticated by the most irrefragable authorities, the sceptic might long
pause before he would yield them credence.

The patient (a female) was stretched on the ground, and the stoutest men
that could be found were directed to trample with all their might and main
upon her body; kicking the chest and stomach, and attempting to tread down
the ribs with their heels. So violent were these exertions, that it is
related a hunchbacked girl was thus kicked and trampled into a goodly

The next exercise was what they called the plank, and consisted in laying
a deal board upon the patient while extended on the back, and then getting
as many athletic men as could stand upon it, to press the body down; and
in this endeavour they seldom showed sufficient energy to satisfy the
supposed sufferer, who was constantly calling for more pressure.

Next came the experiment of the pebble, a diminutive name they were
pleased to give to a paving-stone weighing two-and-twenty pounds, which
was discharged by the operator upon the patient's stomach and bosom, from
as great a height as he could well raise the weighty body. This terrific
blow was frequently inflicted upwards of a hundred times, and with such
violence, that the house, and the furniture of the room, vibrated under
the concussion, while the astonished bystanders were terrified by the
hollow sound re-echoed by the enthusiast at every blow.

Carré de Montgeron affirms that the _pebble_ was not found sufficiently
powerful, and the operator was obliged in one case to procure an iron
fire-dog (_chenet_), weighing about thirty pounds, which was discharged as
violently as possible on the pit of the patient's stomach at least a
hundred times. This instrument having for the sake of curiosity been
hurled against a wall, brought part of it down at the twenty-fifth blow.
The operator further states, that he had commenced according to the usual
practice, by inflicting moderate blows, until he was induced by her
lamentable entreaties to redouble his vigour, but all to no purpose; his
strength was unavailing and he was obliged to employ a more athletic
surgeon, who fell to work with such energy that he shook the whole house.
The convulsionist, who was of the gentle sex, would not allow sixty blows
she had received from her first doctor to be included in the calculation
of the dose, but insisted upon having her whole hundred as prescribed. It
further appears, that at each stroke the delighted enthusiast would
exclaim in ecstacy, "Oh, how nice!" "Oh, what good it does me!" "Oh, dear
brother, hit away--again--again!" For be it known, these operators were
called by the affectionate name of brothers, whose claims to fraternal
affection were in the ratio of the weight of their kindness towards the

One of these young ladies, who was not easily satisfied, wanted to try her
own skill, and jumped with impunity into the fire, an exploit which
obtained her the glorious epithet of Sister Salamander. The names that
these amiable devotees gave to each other were somewhat curious. They all
strove to imitate the whining and wheedling of spoiled children, or petted
infants; one was called _L'Imbécile_, another _L'Aboyeuse_, a third _La
Nisette_, and they used to beg and cry for barley-sugar and cakes;
barley-sugar signified a stick big enough to fell an ox, and cakes meant
paving-stones. The excesses of these maniacs were at last carried to so
fearful an extent, and their religious ceremonies were so debased by
obscenities that the police was obliged to interfere, and forbid these
detestable practices; hence it was affirmed that the following somewhat
impious notice was suspended over the church-door:

  De par le Roi, défense à Dieu,
  De faire miracle en ce lieu.

These lunatics, for such they must be considered, were not impostors. They
had been worked to this degraded state by the plastic power of
superstition, and implicit reliance was placed in their assertions; for,
as Pascal said, "we must believe people who are ready to have their
throats cut." Whether the Jansenist priests belonged to the same class, I
leave to the reader to decide.

Cabanis, in his interesting work, "Rapports du Physique et du Moral de
l'Homme," offers the following remarks on this most curious subject:
"Sensibility may be considered in the light of a fluid the quality of
which is determined, and which, when carried to certain channels in
greater proportion than to others, must of course be diminished in the
latter ones. This is evident in all violent affections, but more
especially in those ecstasies where the brain and other sympathetic organs
are possessed of the highest degree of energetic action, while the faculty
of feeling and of motion--in short, the vital powers--seem to have fled
from the other parts of the system. In this violent state, fanatics have
received with impunity severe wounds, which, if inflicted in a healthy
condition, would have proved fatal or most dangerous; for the danger that
results from the violent action of external agents on our organs depends
on their sensibility, and we daily see poisons, which would be deleterious
to a healthy man, innocuous in a state of illness. It was by availing
themselves of this physical disposition that impostors of every
description, and of every country operated most of their miracles; and it
was by these means that the Convulsionists of St. Medard amazed weak
imaginations with the blows they received from swords and hatchets, and
which in their ascetic language they called _consolations_. This was the
magic wand with which Mesmer overcame habitual sufferings, by giving a
fresh direction to the attention, and establishing in constitutions
possessed of great mobility a sense of action to which they had been
unaccustomed. It was thus also that the _Illuminati_ of France and Germany
succeeded in destroying external sensations amongst their adepts,
depriving them in fact of their relative existence."

In these phenomena we do not witness miracles or supernatural agency.
Enthusiasts are simply maniacs. Like maniacs, their vital endowments are
deranged; they lose the faculty of feeling, of reasoning, of comparing, of
associating their ideas; their volition, their memory have fled, and all
the functions of organic life are more or less disturbed. Rousseau never
proved more clearly that his own intellectual faculties were occasionally
impaired, than when he stated "that the state of reflection is unnatural,
and that the man who meditates is a depraved animal."

Insanity may be divided into four species:

1st, _Monomania_, and _melancholy_, in which the delirium is confined to
one or few objects.

2nd, _Mania_, where the delirium embraces a variety of impressions, and is
accompanied with violence.

3rd, _Dementia_, or insanity in the full acceptation of the word, where
the senses are totally bewildered, and the faculty of thinking destroyed.

4th, _Imbecility_ or _idiotcy_, where, from imperfect organisation,
ratiocination cannot be correct.

To the first of these categories enthusiasts generally belong. Delirium,
or wandering, is to a certain extent applicable to all, being a want of
correspondence between judgment and perception. Locke and Condillac
characterize madness as a _false judgment_, or a disposition to associate
ideas incorrectly, and to mistake them for truths. Hence it is observed by
Locke that "Madmen err, as men do that argue right from wrong principles."
Dr. Beattie refers madness to _false perception_; and Dr. Mason Good,
justly remarks, that "the perceptions in madness seem, for anything we
know to the contrary, to be frequently as correct as in health, the
judgment or reasoning being alone diseased or defective."

I hope that I may not be accused of _materialism_ when I venture to affirm
that all these enthusiasts labour under a physical disease; but whether
this state was originally brought on by a morbid condition of the
intellectual or the empassioned faculties of the mind, or, in other words,
whether a diseased state of the mind brought on a diseased state of the
body, I shall not at present venture to decide, as the disquisition would
be foreign to the nature of this work, and lead us into investigations of
little interest to the generality of readers.

In the German Psychological Magazine we meet with a curious case of a
patient who believed that he was supernaturally endowed with the power of
working miracles. The man was a gend'arme of the name of Gragert, of a
harmless and quiet disposition, but rather of a superstitious turn of
mind. From poverty, family misfortunes, and severe military discipline, a
series of sleepless nights and a mental disquietude were brought on that,
according to his own report, nothing could dissipate but a perusal of
pious works. In reading the Bible he was struck with the book of Daniel,
and was so much pleased with it, that it became his favourite study; from
that moment the idea of miracles so strongly possessed his imagination,
that he began to believe that he could perform some himself. He was
persuaded more especially that if he were to plant an apple-tree with the
view of its becoming a cherry-tree, such was his power that it would bear
cherries. He was wont to answer every question correctly, except when the
subject concerned miracles, in regard to which he ever entertained his old
notions; adding, however, that he would relinquish this thought if he
could be convinced that the event of his trials did not correspond with
his expectations.

That many enthusiasts, although incurable in their peculiar aberration,
have possessed some amiable qualities, is undeniable. Such rare
occurrences remind one of the curious case of madness recorded by Tidemann
of a lunatic of the name of Moses, who was insane on one side, and who
observed his insanity with the other; his better half constantly rebuking
his worse half for its absurdities. This case was certainly typical of the
married state.

In vain have physicians endeavoured to break through this morbid
catenation of incongruous ideas by diversions, or what the French call
_distractions_, which in general answered to our literal translation of
the word, and _distracted_ their patients. Dramatic performances were once
allowed in a mad-house near Paris; but the violence of the maniacs, the
moroseness of the melancholy, and the stupidity of the idiots, rendered
the exertions of the actors perilous to some, and idle to all. Mr.
D'Esquirol once took one of his patients to a play, and the man swore that
every performer who came on was making love to his wife; and a young lady,
placed in a similar situation, exclaimed that all the people were going to
fight about her. Jealousy and vanity were, no doubt, the ruling passions
in both these cases. Travel has been recommended both by the ancients and
the moderns. Seneca on this subject quotes Socrates, who replied to a
melancholy wight who complained that his journeys had afforded him no
amusement, "_I am not surprised at it, since you were travelling in your
own company_."

The contagion of enthusiasm is a marvellous fact. Pausanias relates that
the malady of the daughters of Proetus, who ran about the country
fancying that they were transformed into cows, was common amongst the
women of Argos. Plutarch states that a disease reigned in Miletium, in
which most of the young girls hung themselves; recent observations have
confirmed this singular circumstance. Dr. Deslages, of St. Maurice,
relates that a woman having hanged herself in a neighbouring village, most
of her companions felt an invincible desire to follow her example.
Primrose and Bonet tell us that at one period it was found difficult to
prevent the young girls in Lyons from casting themselves into the river.
Simon Goulard has recorded the prevalent madness amongst the nuns of the
States of Saxony and Brandenburg, and which soon extended its influence to
Holland, during which these religious ladies "predicted, capered, climbed
up walls, spoke various languages, bleated like sheep, and amused
themselves by biting each other." History has recorded the horrible
judicial murder of Urbain Grandier, at Laudun, who was sacrificed for
bedevilling a nunnery. The recent gift of tongues amongst the _Irvingites_
is still in full vigour, and the _Southcotians_ are still on the look-out
in London, as the _Sebastianists_ are in Lisbon.

Addison has remarked that an enthusiast in religion is like an obstinate
clown, and a superstitious man like an insipid courtier. On this subject
he quotes the following old heathen saying recorded by Aulus
Gellius--_Religentem esse oportet, religiosum nefas_; for, as the author
tells us, Nigidius observed upon this passage, that the Latin words which
terminate in _osus_ generally imply vicious characters, or the having any
quality to excess. That we should enthusiastically admire all that is
holy, sublime, or endowed with uncommon superiority in religion, in
poetry, in the fine arts, is not only justifiable but praiseworthy. Genius
cannot exist without a certain degree of fervour; its inspiration is a
gift divine, naturally associated with a religious feeling. The man thus
inspired must bend in humble admiration before the wondrous harmony that
surrounds him. The poet, the painter, the musician, can only seek
excellence by studying primitive perfection. Nothing that is not natural
can be truly sublime or beautiful. A rigid observation of nature can alone
lead to superiority, and we can only be taught to create by, endeavouring
to imitate the beauties of the creation. How distant are these generous
feelings from the low grovelling prejudices of bigotry! We admire
perfection even in our enemies; and Erasmus was not a truant to his faith
when, transported with Socrates's dying speech, he exclaimed, "O Socrates!
I can scarce forbear kneeling down to thee, and praying,

  _Sancte Socrates, ora pro nobis_."

While considering this interesting subject, a curious question arises: is
enthusiasm more frequently excited by truth than by error? I sadly fear
that the latter influence will in general be found to predominate,
although falsehood then assumes the deceptive garb of veracity. The noble
writer whom I have already cited,[19] has justly said, "that truth is the
most powerful thing in the world, since even fiction itself must be
governed by it, and can only please by its resemblance."

To what then are we to attribute this power that fallacy possesses of
inspiring the mind with visionary hopes and fears? Simply because we cease
to reason upon matter of fact, and soar in fanciful regions in search of a
flittering phantom, a creature of our own imaginative faculties. What
falls every day under our personal observation ceases to amaze, and one
might even become familiarized to miracles were they of frequent
occurrence. Man is naturally disposed to admire what he cannot understand,
and to venerate what is incomprehensible. The nature of the divinity being
essentially incomprehensible, a religious character is attached to all
other subjects that are equally beyond the limits of our understanding.
Sir Thomas Brown has said, "Methinks there be not impossibilities enough
in religion for an active faith. I love to lose myself in a mystery, to
pursue my reason to an _O altitudo_! I can answer all the objections of
Satan and my rebellious reason, with that odd resolution I learned from
Tertullian, _Certum est quia impossibile est_." From our earliest infancy
we are delighted with fictions, which we verily fancy to be relations of
true facts, and whether we believe with the ancients in the metamorphoses
of heathen mythology, the absurd papal stories of the miracles of their
saints, or the wondrous incidents of a fairy tale, we listen to these
rhapsodies with avidity; whether Jupiter is turned into a shower of gold,
St. Denis and St. Livarius travel with their heads under their arm, or Tom
Thumb pulls on his seven-league boots. These absurdities are our day
thoughts, our night dreams--nay, busy fancy does so dwell on these
enchanting phantasies, that, in some cases, the intellectual faculties
become deranged, and I have at present under my care, a female who lost
her reason by constantly reading the Arabian Nights, and who in her
hallucinations, describes as many marvellous voyages as could have done
the sailor Sinbad.

The foundation of incredulity no doubt is ignorance, but too often we find
men of refined education and feeling the most easily imposed upon by
incredible assertions; we seldom experience as much enthusiasm in the
possession of any object as in the pursuit, more especially if that
pursuit be vain. The merchant who has realized a splendid fortune in his
commercial ventures, is satiated with his business, and becomes careless
in the pursuit of greater riches, but let him for one moment contemplate
the possibility of discovering the philosopher's stone, he will lose, and
cheerfully too, all his past earnings in the chimerical pursuit, and the
man who would doze over his ledger, will spend his sleepless nights
contemplating his crucibles, and studying the black art.

What is there of an exciting nature in the common events of life and the
usual course and uniformity of nature? Very little. However wondrous the
works of the creation may be, habit has so accustomed us to behold them,
that they are familiar to our eyes; they become matter of fact, and
science has taught us to comprehend the nature of many phenomena, which
might otherwise have appeared incredible: but when we seek for an
unattainable object, however fallacious its attraction may be, the mind is
roused to energetic action: if we strive to excel all others in the fine
arts, in poetical productions, we become fired with an exalted zeal, which
age and experience alone can temper. In our vain pursuit of ideal
perfection, the mind may be compared to a focus in which our burning
thoughts are concentrated, until we are consumed by disappointment: the
love of Pygmalion was probably the most ardent passion that could fire the
breast of man. Enthusiasm laughs to scorn the suggestion of the senses and
common understanding, therefore all its priests and votaries are
surrounded with a deceptive halo; and Plotinus maintained that a proper
worship of the gods consisted in a mysterious self annihilation and a
total extinction of every faculty. The same may be said of love, which,
like all other enthusiastic passions, may be considered a temporary

Moreover the language of fiction is not required to maintain the
self-evident testimonies of facts.

            As true as truth's simplicity,
  And simpler than the infancy of truth.

Whereas false doctrines and fallacious opinions need all the aid of
imagination's vivid colours to disguise their real form with a goodly
outside. We may in general conclude that enthusiasts are at first deceived
themselves to become in turn deceivers. Seldom does man display sufficient
humility to admit that he has erred in his favourite doctrines, and how
much less will he be disposed to confess his deviation from rectitude,
when imposture becomes the source of wealth and power, and hypocrisy a
trade: to the ghostly speculator we may well apply the lines of Massinger:

  Oh, now your hearts make ladders of your eyes,
  In show to climb to heaven, where your devotion
  Walks upon crutches.

It is, however, fortunate that errors generally assist the development of
truth. The progress of the Christian faith was materially forwarded by the
absurdities and fallacies of all other religions; and Helvetius has truly
observed that if we could for a moment doubt the truth of Christianity,
its divine origin would be proved by its having survived the horrors of
popery. False theories led Columbus to correct geographic conclusions, and
Galileo's discoveries overthrew his own former theories.


Amongst the various means resorted to by quackery to speculate upon the
credulity of mankind, simple river or spring water, coloured and flavoured
with inert substances, has not been the least productive; and many a time
the Thames and Seine have been fertile sources of supposed invaluable
medicines. Sangrado's doctrines on aqueous potations have long prevailed
in the profession; and it has been stoutly maintained that a water diet
can cure the gout and various other diseases. That relief, if not cures,
have been obtained by this practice, there cannot be the least doubt. Are
we to attribute these favourable results to the effects of the
imagination, the beneficial efforts of nature, or the salutary abstinence
which this prescription imposed? Possibly they all combined to assist the
physician's efforts, or rather aid his effete treatment. Cold water and
warm water have in turn been praised to the very skies by their eulogists,
and become the subject of ridicule and persecution on the part of more
spirited practitioners.

In surgery, water has ever been considered of great utility; it, no doubt,
was instinctively used by man to cleanse and heal his wounds. Patroclus,
having extracted the dart from his friend Eurypylus, washes the wound; and
the prophet Elisha prescribes to Naaman the waters of Jordan. Rivers had
various qualities, and were supposed to prove as different in their action
on the economy as the mineral springs which from time immemorial, have
been resorted to. These effects may in fact not be altogether doubtful;
for, although these salutary streams may not possess sufficient active
ingredients to be recognised by chemical tests, yet we know that
substances which appear perfectly inert may prove highly active and
effectual when combined and diluted naturally or artificially. Moreover,
in the effects of watering-places on the invalid or valetudinarian, we
must not forget the powerful influence of change of air and habit, the
invigorating stimulus of hope, and the diversion from former occupations.
To these auxiliaries many a remedy has owed its high reputation; and
probably when Wesley attributed his recovery to brimstone and
supplication, he in a great measure might have considered rest from
incessant labour the chief agent in his relief. The exhilarating effects
of the picturesque site of many of these salutary places of resort is
universally acknowledged. Montaigne, Voltaire, Alfieri, acknowledged their
influence on the imagination. Petrarch's inspirations flowed with the
waters of Vaucluse, some of Sevigné's most delightful letters were written
at Vichy, and Genlis and Staël were particularly happy in their epistolary
elegance at Spa and Baden.

We owe to accident many valuable discoveries in medicine. It is said that
several Indians, having used the waters of a lake in which a cinchona tree
was growing, experienced the benefit which led to the use of the Peruvian
bark; and the thermal properties of the baths of Carlsbad were first made
known by the howling of one of Charles the Fourth's hounds, that had
fallen in them in a hunt. It has been also observed, in various countries,
that particular waters produced various morbid affections; and to this
cause have been attributed goitres, cretinism, calculi, and other
distressing diseases. The ancients dreaded the impurity of their rivers.
The Romans boiled their water in extensive _thermopolia_, where not only
potations were drunk hot, but occasionally refrigerated with ice and snow,
and, when thus prepared, called _decocta_. Juvenal and Martial refer this
custom to the Greeks. Herodotus informs us that the Persian monarchs were
accompanied on their expeditions by chariots laden with silver vases
filled with the water of the _Choaspes_ that had been boiled, and which
was solely destined for the king's use: Athenæus tells us that it was
light and sweet. Many ancient coins and inscriptions have recorded these
salutary properties of certain waters.

This real or supposed efficacy was scarcely discovered before it became
the domain of priests: and common rain or river water became valuable and
sanctified when blessed by them: hence the introduction of lustral water.
The fluid extracted from the gown of Mahomet is the sacred property of the
sultan. The moment the fast of the Ramazan is proclaimed, this holy
vestment is drawn from a gold chest, and, after having been kissed with
due devotion, plunged in a vase of happy water, which, when wrung from the
garment, is carefully preserved in precious bottles, that are sent by the
monarch as valuable presents, or sold at exorbitant prices as cures for
any and every disease. Thus were the good effects of ablution, especially
in wounds, attributed to some secret charm or quality conferred upon it by
clerical benediction or the legitimacy of princes. When a quack of the
name of Doublet cured the wounded at the siege of Metz in 1553, the water
he used was considered to have been of a mystic nature; and Brantome
describes his treatment in the following words: "Durant le susdit et tant
mémorable siège, était en la place un chirurgien nommé Doublet, lequel
faisait d'estranges cures avec du simple linge blanc, et belle eau claire
venant de la fontaine ou du puit; mais il s'aidait de sortilèges et
paroles charmées, et chacun allait à luy." This Doublet, no doubt, was
acquainted with an ingenious treatise on gun-shot wounds, written by
Blondi in 1542, in which he strongly recommended the use of cold water;
but, as his recommendation was not founded on any miraculous quality, he
was forgotten, while Doublet was considered a supernatural being. Previous
to this simple and sagacious method of healing wounds, various curious
applications were in high repute; more especially the oil of kittens,
which the celebrated Paré discovered to his great delight, was prepared by
boiling live cats, coat and all, in olive oil, and was until then a
valuable secret preparation, called _oleum catellorum_, and its use, with
that of other nostrums, was known under the name of _secret

This simple mode of dressing wounds, especially those that were inflicted
by fire-arms, was a great desideratum; for, up to this era in surgery,
these injuries were healed by the application of scalding oil or red-hot
instruments, under the impression that they were of a poisonous nature.
Paré was one of the first army-surgeons who exploded this barbarous
practice. Having, according to his own account, expended all his boiling
oil, he employed a mixture of yolk of egg, oil, and turpentine, not
without the apprehension of finding his patients labouring under all the
effects of poison the following day; when, to his great surprise, he found
them much more relieved than those to whom the actual cautery had been
applied. In more recent times, armies have been unjustly accused of making
use of poisonous balls; and this absurd charge was brought against the
French after the battle of Fontenoy, when the hospital fever broke out
among the wounded crowded in the neighbouring villages. Chewing bullets
was also considered a means of imparting to them a venomous quality. Lead
and iron, the metals of which these projectiles were usually cast, were
also deemed of a poisonous nature. A sort of aristocratic feeling seemed
to obtain in those days; and it is related that two Spanish gentlemen had
procured gold balls to fire at Francis I. at the battle of Pavia, that so
noble and generous a prince should not fall by the vile metal reserved for
vulgar people; and, in the adverse ranks, La Chatarguene, a noble of the
French court, had prepared bullets of the same costly material for the
reception of Charles V. It was under the impression of this poisonous
nature of wounds, that individuals of both sexes, called suckers, followed
armies, and endeavoured to extract the venom by suction; the records of
chivalry give us instances of lovely damsels who condescended to perform
this operation with their lovely mouths upon their _damoiseaux_; and
Sibille submitted the wounds of her husband, Duke Robert, to a similar
treatment: indeed, these suckers were chiefly females. May not this
practice be the origin of the term _leech_, applied in ancient times to
medical men? Leechcraft was the art of healing. Thus Spenser:

            And then the learned leech
  His cunning hand 'gan to his wounds to lay,
  And all things else the which his art did teach.

To this day, the custom of sucking wounds prevails among soldiers; and
there is every reason to hope, from the experiments of the late Sir David
Barry, that the exhaustion produced by cupping-glasses will be found of
essential service in all venomous wounds. This practice of suction, no
doubt, was known in Greece; Machaon performed it at the siege of Troy. The
mothers and wives of the ancient Germans had recourse to the same process.
In India the suction of wounds constitutes a profession. It was by this
means that the Psylli cured the bite of serpents; and it is related of
Cato, that his abhorrence of the Greek surgeons was such, that he directed
Psylli to follow the Roman armies.

Water affords a beautiful illustration of that indestructibility with
which the Creator invested matter for the preservation of the world he
formed from elementary masses, and appears to have existed unchangeable
from the commencement of the universe. Its constituent parts are not
broken into by any atmospheric revolution; they continue the same, whether
in the solid ice, the fluid state of a liquid, or the gaseous form of a
vapour. Its powers are undiminished, whether in the wave or the steam; the
most effective agent in the hands of man to promote that welfare and
happiness which his own errors deprive him of, frequently bringing on
those calamities that his perversity attributes to the will of the
Omnipotent. Water is the same in the atmosphere as on the earth, and falls
in the very same nature as it ascends; electricity has no other influence
upon it than that of hastening its precipitation. Chemical agents, however
powerful, can only decompose its elementary principles upon the most
limited scale. The heterogeneous substances with which water may
occasionally be alloyed must be considered as purely accidental.

The homogeneous characters of this fluid admit of no alteration, and, like
atmospheric air, are still obtained as pure most probably as when they
first emerged from chaotic matter. The same principles are found in the
clouds, the fogs, the dews, the rain, the hail, and the snow. For the
preservation of the world it was indispensable that water should be
endowed with the property of ever retaining its fluid form, and in this
respect become subject to a law different from that of other bodies, which
change from fluid to solid. This is a deviation from a general decree of
Nature. Were it not for this wise provision of the Creator, the world
would shortly have been converted into a frozen chaos. All bodies contract
their dimensions, and acquire a greater specific gravity by cooling; but
water is excepted from this law, and becomes of less specific gravity,
whether it be heated, or cooled below 42° 5'. Were it not for this
exemption, it would have become specifically heavier by the loss of its
caloric, and the waters that float on the surface of rivers would have
sunk as it froze, until the beds of rivers would have been filled up with
immense masses of ice. From the observations of Perron, there is reason to
believe that the mountainous accumulations of ice that have hitherto
arrested the progress of polar navigators have been detached from the
depths of the ocean to float upon its surface. This circumstance would
account for the difference of temperature of the sea according to its
depth. The experiments of Perron, made with an instrument of his own
invention, which he called the thermobarometer, gave the following

1st, The temperature of the sea upon its surface, and at a distance from
shore, is at the meridian, lower than that of the atmosphere in the shade;
much more elevated at midnight, but in a state of equilibrium morning and

2nd, The temperature rises as we approach continents or extensive islands.

3rd, At a distance from land, the temperature of the deep parts of the sea
is lower than that of the surface, and the cold increases with the depth.
It is this circumstance which led this ingenious philosopher to conclude
that even under the equator the bottom of the sea is eternally frozen.

Humboldt is of a contrary opinion, and maintains that the temperature is
from two to three degrees lower in shallow water; and he therefore is of
opinion that the thermometer might prove of material use to navigators. He
attributes this diminution of temperature to the admixture of the lower
bodies of water with that of the surface. Who is to decide between these
two ingenious experimentalists? "Experientia fallax, judicium difficile."
The curious reader may consult in this investigation the tables of Forster
in Cook's second voyage, those of Lord Mulgrave when Captain Phipps, and
various other navigators.

The salutary medicinal effects of sea-bathing are generally acknowledged,
although too frequently recommended in cases which do not warrant the
practice; in such circumstances they often prove highly prejudicial. The
ancients held sea-water baths in such estimation, that Lampridius and
Suetonius inform us that Nero had it conveyed to his palace. As
sea-bathing is not always within the reach of those who may require it,
artificial sea-water has been considered a desirable substitute; and the
following mode of preparing it, not being generally known, may prove of
some utility. To fifty pounds of water add ten ounces of muriate of soda,
ten drachms of muriate of magnesia, two ounces of muriate of lime, six
drachms of sulphate of soda, and the same quantity of sulphate of
magnesia. This is Swediaur's receipt. Bouillon Lagrange, and Vogel,
recommend the suppression of the muriate of lime and sulphate of soda, to
be replaced with carbonate of lime and magnesia; but this alteration does
not appear necessary, or founded on sufficient chemical grounds for

Sea-water taken internally has been considered beneficial in several
maladies; and, although not potable in civilized countries, it is freely
drunk by various savage tribes. Cook informs us that it is used with
impunity in Easter Island; and Schouten observed several fishermen in the
South Sea drinking it, and giving it to their children, when their stock
of fresh water was expended. Amongst the various and capricious
experiments of Peter the Great, an edict is recorded ordering his sailors
to give salt water to their male children, with a view of accustoming them
to a beverage which might preclude the necessity of laying in large stocks
of fresh water on board his ships! The result was obvious: this nursery of
seamen perished in the experiment. Russel, Lind, Buchan, and various other
medical writers, have recommended the internal use of sea-water in
scrofulous and cutaneous affections; but its use in the present day is
pretty nearly exploded.


An ague in the spring is physic for a king.

Agues come on horseback, but go away on foot.

A bit in the morning is better than nothing all day.

You eat and eat, but you do not drink to fill you.

An apple, an egg, and a nut, you may eat after a slut.

_Poma, ova, atque nuces, si det tibi sordida, gustes._

Old young and old long.

They who would be young when they are old, must be old when they are

  When the fern is as high as a spoon,
  You may sleep an hour at noon.
  When the fern is as high as a ladle,
  You may sleep as long as you are able.
  When fern begins to look red,
  Then milk is good with brown bread.

At forty a man is either a fool or a physician.

After dinner sit a while, after supper walk a mile.

After dinner sleep a while, after supper go to bed.

A good surgeon must have an eagle's eye, a lion's heart, and a lady's

Good kale is half a meal.

If you would live for ever you must wash milk from your liver.

_Vin sur lait, c'est souhait; lait sur vin, c'est venin._

Butter is gold in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night.

He that would live for aye, must eat sage in May.

_Cur moriatur homo, cui salvia crescit in horto?_

After cheese comes nothing.

An egg and to bed.

You must drink as much after an egg as after an ox.

He that goes to bed thirsty rises healthy.

_Qui couche avec la soif, se leve avec la santé._

One hour's sleep before midnight is worth two hours after.

Who goes to bed supperless, all night tumbles and tosses.

Often and little eating makes a man fat.

Fish must swim thrice.

_Poisson, goret, et cochon vit en l'eau, mort en vin._

Drink wine and have the gout, drink no wine and have it too.

Young men's knocks, old men feel.

_Quæ peccamus Juvenes, ea luimus Senes._

Go to bed with the lamb, and rise with the lark.

  Early to bed, and early to rise,
  Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Wash your hands often, your feet seldom, and your head never.

Eat at pleasure, drink by measure.

_Pain tant qu'il dure, vin à mésure._

  Cheese is a peevish elf,
  It digests all but itself.

  _Caseus est nequam,
  Quia digerit omnia se quàm._

The best physicians are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet, and Dr. Merryman.

  _Si tibi deficiant medici, medici tibi fiant
  Hæc tria; mens læta, requies, moderata diæta._

  Drink in the morning staring,
  Then all the day be sparing.

Eat a bit before you drink.

Feed sparingly and dupe the physician.

Better be meals many than one too many.

You should never touch your eye but with your elbow.

_Non patitur ludum fama, fides, oculus._

The head and feet keep warm, the rest will take no harm.

_Tenez chaud le pied et la tête, au demurant vives en bête._

_Qui ne boit vin après salade, est en danger d'être malade._

Cover your head by day as much as you will, by night as much as you can.

Fish spoils water, but flesh mends it.

Apples, pears, and nuts spoil the voice.

Quartan agues kill old men and cure young.

Old fish, old oil, and an old friend.

_Pesce, oglio, ed amico vecchio._

Raw pullet, veal, and fish, make the churchyard fat.

Of wine the middle, of oil the top, of honey the bottom.

_Vino di mezzo, oglio di sopra, e miele di sotto._

The air of a window is the stroke of a cross-bow.

_Aria di finestra, colpo di balestra._

_Piscia chiaro, ed incaca al medico._

When the wind is in the east, it's neither good for man nor beast.

A hot May makes a fat churchyard.

That city is in a bad case, whose physicians have the gout.--_Hebrew

When the sun rises, the disease will abate.[21]

If you take away the salt, throw the meat to the dogs.

_Splen ridere facit, cogit amare jecur._[22]

  Lever à cinq, dîner à neuf.
  Souper à cinq, coucher à neuf.
  Font vivre dans nonante neuf.

_Surge quintâ, prande nonâ, coena quintâ, dormi nonâ, nec est morti vita

Hunger's the best sauce.

_Optimum condimentum fames._

_Plures occidit gula quàm gladius._

_Qui a bu, boira._ Ever drunk ever dry.

_Vinum potens, vinum nocens._

The child is too clever to live long.

_Præcocibus mors ingeniis est invida semper._

  Le chant du cocq, le coucher du corbeau,
  Préservent l'homme du tombeau.

Bitter to the mouth, sweet to the heart.

_Paulò deterior, sed suavior potus est cibus; meliori quidem, sed ingrato,
præferendus est._

  Après la soupe, un coup d'excellent vin
  Tire un écu de la poche du médecin.


The Night-mare or Ephialtes, _incubus_, from [Greek: ephallomai], "to leap
upon," and _incubo_, "to lie upon," may be considered a sympathetic
affection of the brain during our sleep, generally arising from a
derangement in the digestive functions. We therefore observe it after a
heavy supper, or the use of any article of food of difficult digestion. It
is to these circumstances more than to the "unusual loss of volition,"
which some physiologists consider as its cause, that we are to attribute
this unpleasant perturbation of our repose, which impresses the sleeper
with the idea of some living being pressing upon the chest, inspiring
terror, impeding respiration, and subduing all voluntary action that might
endeavour to remove the unwelcome visiter. It has been observed that
persons of a melancholy and contemplative disposition are more subject to
it than the gay and the vivacious. Sedentary employment and anxiety of
mind often bring it on; and it has been noticed in _nostalgia_, or regret
of home, in soldiers and sailors. The sense of apprehension remains after
the sufferer is awakened, and the fluttering of the heart and quick pulse
are observed for some time after, while drops of cold perspiration
frequently trickle down his brow. When the night-mare is the result of too
much repletion, it is possible that its symptoms denote a pressure of the
loaded stomach on the solar plexus.

It is said that the _night-mare_ derives its name from _Mara_, an evil
spirit of the Scandinavians, which, according to the Runic theology,
seized men in their sleep, and deprived them of the powers of volition.
Our old Anglo-Saxon name for the disease was _Elf-Sidenne_, or
elf-squatting; hence the popular term "hag-ridden."

There is a variety of the malady which makes its attack by day, and when
waking: it has been called the day-mare, or _ephialtes vigilantium_. This
affection, although uncommon, has been noticed by Forestus, Rhodius,
Sauvages, and Good. Forestus has known it to return periodically like an
intermittent fever.

It is not always that the patient experiences unpleasant sensations in
these nocturnal attacks, which were not unfrequently of a curious nature.
The ancients thought that these intruders were sometimes sportive Fauns;
hence Pliny calls the affection _ludibria Fauni_. At a subsequent period,
superstition replaced the Fauns by _Incubi_, or evil spirits, who visited
the earth to destroy virtuous women; and it was once gravely discussed by
the Sorbonne, whether the offspring of such an union should be considered
human, or the fair lady's reputation injured by the involuntary act of
giving a young incubus to the world. The absurd stories of the pranks of
the _Succubi_ and _Incubi_ are well known.

Ephialtes has been known to be epidemic, and has attacked numbers at a
time. Cælius Aurelianus informs us that Silimachus, a disciple of
Hippocrates, observed the phenomenon in Rome, when the disease generally
proved fatal. It is more than probable that in these cases the night-mare
was merely symptomatic of other complaints. A French physician, Dr.
Laurent, however, has related a very curious instance of a species of
night-mare attacking an entire regiment; he thus relates the singular

"The first battalion of the regiment Latour d'Auvergne, of which I was the
surgeon, was garrisoned at Palmi, in Calabria, when we received a sudden
order at midnight to march with all possible speed to Tropea; a flotilla
of the enemy having appeared off the coast. It was in the month of June;
we had a march of forty miles of the country, and only arrived at our
destination at seven o'clock the following evening, having scarcely halted
during those thirty-one hours, and suffered considerably from the heat of
the sun. On our arrival the men found their rations cooked and their
quarters prepared; but, having arrived the last, our regiment had the
worst accommodation, and eight hundred men were pent up in a building
scarcely capacious enough for half the number. The soldiers were in
consequence much crowded, and slept upon the straw without any bedding,
and most uncomfortably. The building was an abandoned monastery; and the
inhabitants warned us that we should not be able to occupy it quietly, as
it was haunted every night. We laughed at their superstitious fears, but
were much amazed when, towards midnight, we heard loud cries, and the
soldiers rushed tumultuously, and in evident terror, out of their rooms.
Being interrogated as to the causes of this alarm, they all affirmed that
the devil was in the abbey; that they had seen him enter in the shape of a
large black dog, that had jumped upon their breasts and disappeared. To
convince them of the absurdity of their fears was of no avail; not a
single man could be persuaded to return to his quarters, and they
wandered about the town until daybreak. On the following morning I
questioned the most steady non-commissioned officers and the oldest
soldiers; and though under ordinary circumstances they were strangers to
fear, and never gave credit to any tales of supernatural agency, they
assured me that the dog had weighed them down and nearly suffocated them.
We remained that day in Tropea, and had no other quarters to occupy but
the same monastery, and the soldiers would only take up their residence on
the condition that we should remain with them: the men retired to
sleep--we watched; all was quiet until about one in the morning; when they
awoke in the same terror, and fled from the building in dismay. We had
looked out most attentively, but could not perceive the cause of this
commotion. The following day we returned to Palmi; and, although we
marched over a great part of Italy, and were frequently equally crowded
and uncomfortable, a similar scene never recurred."

Dr. Laurent very judiciously attributes this singular attack to the
pernicious local influence of some deleterious gas, and the very crowded
state the men slept in. It is also probable that they did not take off
their accoutrements, and lay down with their belts on: might they not also
have eaten some unwholesome fruit upon the line of march, for it was in
the month of June, when various berries grow in abundance along the

Hippocrates's theory of the night-mare was, that, during our sleep, our
volition being suspended, the soul, still awake, watches over all the
functions of the body. It is rather odd that the animal that most persons
pretend to have thus annoyed them, is a long-haired black dog. Forestus
assures us that it was a similar visiter that tormented him in his youth.
This circumstance can only be attributed to vulgar superstition and
tradition. Dubosquet has preceded his Treatise on Ephialtes with the
engraving of a large monkey who had perplexed a young lady whom he
attended; the monkey most probably came on horseback, as his steed is also
delineated looking over the sleeping victim.

Various medicines have been recommended to prevent these attacks; amongst
others, saffron and peony: and several learned commentators have
endeavoured to prove and disprove that they were only specific in the form
of an amulet. Zacutus Lusitanus recommends aloes, and his advice is
perhaps as good a one as could be given. The ancients attributed many
powerful effects to saffron, and, amongst other properties, it was
considered as an effective narcotic, and was said to occasion violent
headaches. Curious anecdotes are related of its effects. Amatus Lusitanus
having exhibited this medicine to accelerate a tardy accouchement, the
woman was delivered of two yellow daughters; and Hertodt, in his work
called Crocology, relates that, having tried it on a bitch, all her pups
were of a similar colour. The ancients called saffron the king of plants,
the vegetable panacea, and the soul of the lungs. In modern times we do
not recognise any peculiar property in this production; and in Spain and
Italy it is used as a condiment with perfect impunity. Peony was also
deemed a valuable remedy, when gathered as the decreasing moon was passing
under Aries: the slit root being then tied round the neck of an epileptic
person, he was forthwith cured. "Unlimited scepticism," Dugald Stewart
observes, "is as much the child of imbecility as implicit credulity." How
difficult it is to steer the vessel of our understanding between those

Medical writers have divided the night-mare, according to its phenomena,
into complete, incomplete, mental, and bodily. The complete night-mare, in
which the suspension of the functions had been so powerful, has been known
to prove fatal. In the incomplete, we fancy ourselves placed in a peculiar
situation, opposed by some unexpected obstacle, and all our efforts seem
of no avail to extricate ourselves from our difficulties. There is an
incubus, called indirect, in which the dreamer is not the individual
arrested in his movements; but he is impeded in his progress by the
stoppage of his horse, his carriage, his ship, which no power can propel.
In the mental or intellectual night-mare, the flow of our ideas is
embarrassed, all the associations of our very thoughts appear to be
singularly unconnected; we think in an unintelligible language; we write,
and cannot decipher our manuscript: all is a mental chaos, and no thread
can lead us out of the perplexing labyrinth. In the corporeal ephialtes,
we imagine that some of our organs are displaced, or deranged in their
functions. One man fancies that a malevolent spectre is drawing out his
intestines or his teeth: a patient of Galen felt the cold sensation of a
marble statue having been put into bed with him. These, however, are
nothing else than the actual sensations we experience at the time. Thus
Conrad Gesner fancied that a serpent had stung him in the left side of the
breast; an anthrax soon appeared upon the very spot, and terminated his
existence. Arnauld de Villeneuve imagined that his foot had been bitten,
and a pimple which broke out on the spot soon degenerated into a fatal
cancerous affection. Corporeal night-mare may therefore be simply
considered as a symptom of disease, and not as a mysterious forewarning.

The cold stage of fever that often invades us in our sleep is the natural
forerunner of the malady. This was the case with Dr. Corona, the physician
of Pius VI. who upon two occasions was attacked with typhus fever, ushered
in by a distressing dream or incubus. These physical phenomena only
strengthen the opinion, that in our sleep we are equally alive to mental
impressions and bodily sufferings; and that, correctly speaking, there is
no suspension of our intellectual faculties of perception, nor is there
any interruption in the susceptibilities of our relative existence. The
various doctrines regarding dreams illustrate this position.


The term "incubation" in its rigid sense applies to the act of hatching
eggs, either naturally or artificially. It has however been adopted by
physicians to denote that state of predisposition to disease, in which the
germ of the malady lurks, latent and unperceived by the inexperienced
observer. Too frequently the individual who is thus menaced is totally
unaware of his condition. So far from being depressed in spirits, his
hopes are more sanguine, and his future projects more industriously formed
than usual. At other times, on the contrary, he labours under a load of
despondency which he cannot explain, and his gloom seems to anticipate his
end. This presentiment has oftentimes been singularly prophetic. Moreau de
St. Remy relates the case of one of his most intimate friends, who visited
him, saying, "I come to die near you." He was apparently in perfect
health, but the prediction too soon proved true.

It is no doubt probable, that in these cases the influence of the mind
labouring under these fatal impressions brings about, by its all-powerful
sympathetic power on our functions, the expected yet dreaded event.

Incubation is observed in many contagious affections; and in hydrophobia
its duration is amazing, this dreadful malady developing itself years
after the original accident. In mental diseases, aberrations of the
intellectual faculties are noticed long before the patient can be
pronounced insane; oddities, as they are called, are frequently the
precursors of mania.

The ancient Greeks and Egyptians use the term "incubation" in another
sense. With them it expressed the religious ceremony of sleeping in the
temples of the gods, to be inspired with the means of relieving their
sufferings. Nothing can express this superstitious rite more forcibly than
the following letter from Aspasia to Pericles, recorded by one of the
scholiasts of Ælian.

"Aspasia to Pericles, greeting. Podalirius! Podalirius, to whom Love
taught the art of healing, and who in return didst consecrate thine art to
Love, I return thee my thanks. Athens will once more see me beauteous! I
shall have lost none of my attractions, and Pericles shall find in his
Aspasia all that he once held dear! Podalirius, I return thee my thanks;
and thou, Pericles, be grateful to my benefactor. I did not wish to write
to thee until I was certain that I had been cured. I shall relate to thee
my voyage. I punctually followed the instructions of Nocrates, that wise
and enlightened physician. I first repaired to Memphis, where I visited,
but without success, the temple of Isis. I there beheld the goddess, and
her son Orus, seated on a throne, supported by two lions. The
_Sebestus_[23] grew round her shrine! Incense was burnt in the morning,
myrrha during the day, and cyplis at eve. I was assured that young
Alexander had come to this temple not long before to indulge in a holy
contemplation, and learn by inspiration the means of curing his friend
Ptolemy: his supplications were heeded. I also slept in the temple, but
found no relief. This misfortune, alas! was attributed to my incredulity.
I took my departure, and repaired to Patras. There I saw in her temple the
divine Hygeia; not as she was represented by Aristophanes, when she
relieved Plutus, sweet and graceful, clothed in an aerial robe and a short
tunic, and holding in her hand a cup of _Musa_, whence a serpent was seen
to spring, but she appeared to me in the form of a mysterious pentagon. I
first paid a devout visit to the fountain; and while I deposited my
offerings at the feet of the goddess, a mirror was floating on the surface
of the waters upon which I gazed by order of the priests, but I was not
cured! Thence I went to sleep at Pergania and at Hercyna. But the gods
seemed to slumber when Aspasia slept! On a sudden the name of Podalirius
struck mine ear! I was informed that his temple was at Lacera. I instantly
sought it; and, on my arrival, bathed in the Althonus. After the bath, I
was anointed with the perfumed balsams that our friend Sosinius had given
me in the temple of Mercury the day I left Athens. I then put up my
prayers to deserve the favour I implored from the god. At nightfall I
sought repose on the skin of a ram close to the statuary pillar. I soon
found myself in that state when we are no longer wide awake, but when
sleep has not yet lulled our senses to repose. Methought that a celestial
light was shed around me. Æsculapius appeared to me with his two
daughters; and, from the clouds that surrounded him, he promised me my
pristine health. I soon after fell into a profound sleep; but towards the
break of day I beheld Cypris--Cypris who was always the friend of
Podalirius: she came herself! I recognised her, although she had assumed
the form of a gentle dove. Yes, Cypris came to cure me. Podalirius!
Æsculapius! Cypris! each day shall you be thanked by Aspasia and by

"I must now relate to thee the vision of a Daunian, who slept near me. She
suffered from an affection of her breast, and this she dreamed:--She
beheld the young god Harpocrates lying on leaves of lotos, and covered
with bandages from the head to the feet. He appeared weak and emaciated;
he cried like an infant, supplicating the poor woman to nurse him. Soon
after, she dreamt that a lamb came to seek his sustenance from her bosom.
The dream was fulfilled,--it clearly indicated the use of a certain plant;
but, until it could be obtained, the Daunian was advised to eat nothing
but stewed raisins. Learn that here various names are given to various
inspirations. The last dream I have related is called _allegorical_. When
a dream prescribes a certain remedy, it is named _theôrematic_. Here are
many dreams: wise Pericles, thou art perhaps smiling at them; but what is
_not_ visionary is my perfect recovery, and my love for thee. Farewell!"

Although this letter of Aspasia is an evident fiction, yet it gives an
excellent, though a romantic description of the incubation of the
ancients. Aspasia was supposed to be labouring under one of the most
vexatious disorders that can affect a pretty woman,--an eruption in the
face; hence the gods sent her a mirror, that her devotion might be
increased by her unsightly appearance. It is not improbable that in those
days, as in the present era, women of a certain, or rather an uncertain
age, were more fervid in their endeavours to render themselves acceptable
to Heaven when they ceased to be admired and sought for upon earth.


The origin of the word "quack" is not ascertained. Johnson derives it from
the verb "_to quack_, or gabble like a goose." Butler uses this verb as
descriptive of the encomiums empirics heap upon their nostrums. Thus in

  Believe mechanic Virtuosi
  Can raise them mountains in Potosi,
  Seek out for plants with signatures
  To _quack_ of universal cures.

The word _charlatan_ is equally enveloped in obscurity. Furetiere and
Calepin say that it is derived from the Italian word _Ceretano_, from
_Cæretum_, a town near Spoleto, whence a band of impostors first sallied
forth, marching under the banners of Hippocrates, and roving from town to
town, selling drugs and giving medical advice.[24] Ménage has it that
_charlatan_ springs from _Circulatanus_, from _Circulator_. Other
etymologists trace it to the Italian _Ciarlare_, to chatter; hence

The Romans called their quacks _Agyrtæ_, or _Seplasiarii_, from
_Seplasium_, the generic name of aromatic substances. _Seplasium_ was the
place where they vended their drugs. Thus Martial:

  Quodque ab Adumæis vectum _seplasia_ vendunt,
  Et quidquid confert medicis lagæa cataplus.

An empiric was also called _Planus_ and _Circulator_ "_unde Plani unde

Some of the stratagems resorted to by needy empirics to get into practice
are very ingenious, and many a regular physician has been obliged to have
recourse to similar artifices to procure employment. It is related of a
Parisian physician, that, on his first arrival in the capital, he was in
the habit of sending his servant in a carriage about daybreak to rap at
the doors of the principal mansions to inquire for his master, as he was
sent for to repair instantly to such and such a prince, who was dying. The
drowsy porter naturally replied, with much ill-humour, "that he knew
nothing of his master."--"What! did he not pass the night in this house?"
replied the footman, apparently astonished. "No," gruffly answered the
Swiss; "there's nobody ill here."--"Then I must have mistaken the house.
Is not this the hotel of the Duke of ----?"--"No. Go to the devil!"
exclaimed the porter, closing the ponderous gates. From this house his
valet then proceeded from street to street, alarming the whole
neighbourhood with his loud rap. Of course nothing else was spoken of in
the porter's lodge, the grocer's shop, and the servants' hall for nine

Another quack, upon his arrival in a town, announced himself by sending
the bellman round, offering fifty guineas reward for a poodle belonging to
Doctor ----, Physician to his Majesty and the Royal Family, Professor of
Medicine, and Surgeon General, who had put up at such and such an inn. Of
course the physician of a king, who could give fifty guineas for a lost
dog, must be a man of pre-eminence in his profession.

Another indigent physician having complained of his ill-fortune to an
ingenious friend, received the following advice: The _Café de la Régence_
is now in fashion: I play at chess every day at two o'clock, when a
considerable crowd is assembled. Come there at the same hour; do not
pretend to know me; call for a cup of coffee, and always pay the waiter
his money in a rose-coloured paper: leave the rest to me. The doctor
followed his advice; and his eccentric manners were soon observed,--when
his friend informed the persons around him, that he was one of the ablest
practitioners in the land; that he had known him for upwards of fifteen
years, and that his cures were most marvellous,--his extreme modesty alone
having prevented him from giving publicity to his abilities. He further
added, I have long wished to become intimate with so great a man; but he
is so absorbed in the study of his profession, that he scarcely ever
enters into conversation with any one. In a short time, the Rose-colour
Doctor was in extensive business.

Many years ago, the jaw-breaking words _Tetrachymagogon_ and _Fellino
Guffino Cardimo Cardimac Frames_, were chalked all over London, as two
miracle-working doctors. Men with such names must have some superior
qualification, and numbers flocked to consult them. Another quack put up
as an advertisement, that he had just arrived in town, after having made
the wonderful discovery of the green and red dragon and the female
fern-seed. This was sure to attract notice. An advertisement was handed
about of a learned physician, "who had studied thirty years by
candle-light for the good of his countrymen." He was, moreover, the
seventh son of a seventh son, and was possessed of a wonderful cure for
hernia, as both his father and his grandfather had been ruptured. This
reminds one of the oculist in Mouse Alley, mentioned in the Spectator, who
undertook to cure cataracts, in consequence of his having lost an eye in
the Imperial service. Dr. Case made a fortune by having the lines, _Within
this place, lives Doctor Case_, written in large characters upon his door.

The accidental circumstances which frequently bring medical men into
extensive practice, or that notoriety which may lead to it, are truly
curious. It is well known that a most eminent English physician owed all
his success to his having been on a particular occasion in a state of
intoxication. Disappointed on his first arrival in London, he sought
comfort in a neighbouring tavern, where the servant of the house at which
he lodged went to fetch him one evening, after a heavy potation, to see a
certain countess. The high-sounding title of this unexpected patient
tended not a little to increase the excitement under which he laboured. He
followed a livery footman as steadily as he could, and was ushered in
silence into a noble mansion, where her ladyship's woman anxiously waited
to conduct him most discreetly to her mistress's room; her agitation most
probably preventing her from perceiving the doctor's state. He was
introduced into a splendid bedchamber, and staggered towards the bed in
which the lady lay. He went through the routine practice of pulse-feeling,
&c., and proceeded to the table to write a prescription, which, in all
probability, would have been mechanically correct. But here his powers
failed him. In vain he strove to trace the salutary characters, until,
wearied in his attempts, he cast down the pen, and, exclaiming "Drunk, by
G--!" he made his best way out of the house. Two days afterwards he was
not a little surprised by receiving a letter from the lady, enclosing a
check for 100_l._, and promising him the patronage of her family and
friends, if he would observe the strictest secrecy on the state he found
her in. The fact simply was, that the countess had been indulging in
brandy and laudanum, which her abigail had procured for her, and was
herself in the very condition which the doctor had frankly applied to

Chance, more than science or ability, has frequently brought professional
men to the summit of their business. There is an Eastern story of a
certain prince who had received from a fairy the faculty of not only
assuming whatever appearance he thought proper, but of discerning the
wandering spirits of the departed. He had long laboured under a painful
chronic disease, that none of the court physicians, ordinary or
extraordinary, could relieve; and he resolved to wander about the streets
of his capital until he could find some one, regular or irregular, who
could alleviate his sufferings. For this purpose he donned the garb and
appearance of a dervish. As he was passing through one of the principal
streets, he was surprised to see it so thronged with ghosts, that, had
they been still inhabitants of their former earthly tenements, they must
have obstructed the thoroughfare. But what was his amazement and dismay
when he saw that they were all grouped with anxious looks round the door
of his royal father's physician, haunting, no doubt, the man to whom they
attributed their untimely doom. Shocked with the sight, he hurried to
another part of the city, where resided another physician of the court,
holding the second rank in fashionable estimation. Alas! his gateway was
also surrounded with reproachful departed patients. Thunderstruck at such
a discovery, and returning thanks to the prophet that he was still in
being, despite the practice of these great men, he resolved to submit all
the other renowned practitioners to a similar visit, and he was grieved to
find that the scale of ghosts kept pace with the scale of their medical
rank. Heartbroken, and despairing of a cure, he was slowly sauntering back
to the palace, when, in an obscure street, and on the door of an humble
dwelling, he read a doctor's name. One single poor solitary ghost, leaning
his despondent cheek upon his fleshless hand, was seated on the doctor's
steps. "Alas!" exclaimed the prince, "it is, then, too true that humble
merit withers in the shade, while ostentatious ignorance inhabits golden
mansions. This poor neglected doctor, who has but one unlucky case to
lament, is then the only man in whom I can place confidence." He rapped;
the door was opened by the doctor himself, a venerable old man, not rich
enough, perhaps, to keep a domestic to answer his infrequent calls. His
white locks and flowing beard added to the confidence which his situation
had inspired. The elated youth then related at full length all his
complicated ailments, and the still more complicated treatment to which he
had in vain been submitted. The sapient physician was not illiberal enough
to say that the prince's attendants had all been in error, since all
mankind may err; but his sarcastic smile, the curl of his lips, and the
dubious shake of his hoary head, most eloquently told the anxious patient
that he considered his former physicians as an ignorant, murderous set of
upstarts, only fit to depopulate a community. With a triumphant look he
promised a cure, and gave his overjoyed client a much-valued prescription,
which he carefully confided to his bosom; after which he expressed his
gratitude by pouring upon the doctor's table a purse of golden sequins,
which made the old man's blinking eyes shine as brightly as the coin he
beheld in wondrous delight. His joy gave suppleness to his rigid spine,
and, after bowing the prince out in the most obsequious manner, he
ventured to ask him one humble question: "By what good luck, by what kind
planet, had he been recommended to seek his advice?" The prince naturally
asked for the reason of so strange a question: to which the worthy doctor
replied, with eyes brimful with tears of gratitude, "Oh, sir, because I
considered myself the most unfortunate man in Bagdad until this happy
moment; for I have been settled in this noble and wealthy city for these
last fifteen years, and have only been able to obtain one single
patient."--"Ah!" cried the prince in despair, "then it must be that poor,
solitary, unhappy-looking ghost that is now sitting on your steps!"

It has been observed that religious sects have materially contributed to
the elevation of physicians in society, and political associations have
been equally beneficial. The celebrated Mead was the son of a
non-conforming minister, who, knowing the influence he possessed over his
numerous congregation, brought him up as a physician, in the full
confidence of obtaining the splendid result that rewarded the speculation.
His example was followed by several dissenting preachers; among whom we
may name Oldfield, Clarke, Nesbitt, Lobb, Munckly, whose sons all rose to
extensive and most lucrative practice. At that period, St. Thomas's and
Guy's Hospitals were under the government of Dissenters and Whigs; and so
soon as any one became a physician to the establishment, his fortune was
made. The same advantages attended St. Bartholomew's and Bethlem, both of
royal foundation.

Dr. Meyer Schomberg, who was a poor Jew of Cologne, came to London without
any profession, when, not knowing what to do to obtain a living, to use
his own words, he said, "I am a physician;" and, having thus conferred a
degree upon himself, he sedulously cultivated the acquaintance of all his
fellow Jews about Duke's-place, got introduced to some of their leading
and wealthy mercantile brethren, and a few years after Dr. Schomberg was
in the annual receipt of four thousand pounds. It is rather strange, but
the Jew was succeeded in his lucrative practice by a Quaker. This was the
celebrated Dr. Fothergill. Brought up an apothecary, he took out a Scotch
degree, and, attaching himself to Schomberg, calculated on following his
example; and, on his patron's decease, he slipped into the practice of
both Jew and Gentile.

Amongst many singular instances of good fortune may be mentioned a surgeon
of the name of Broughton, to whom our East India Company may consider
themselves as most indebted, since he was the person who first pointed out
the advantages that might result from trading in Bengal. Broughton
happened to travel from Surat to Agra in the year 1636, when he had the
luck to cure one of the daughters of the Emperor _Shah-Jehan_. To reward
him, this prince allowed him a free trade throughout his dominions.
Broughton immediately repaired to Bengal to purchase goods, which he sent
round by sea to Surat. Scarcely had he returned, when he was requested to
attend the favourite of a powerful nabob, and he fortunately restored her
to health, when, in addition to a pension, his commercial privileges were
still more widely extended; the prince promising him at the same time a
favourable reception for British traders. Broughton lost no time in
communicating this intelligence to the Governor of Surat; and it was by
his advice that the company sent out two large ships to Bengal in 1640.

There are some amusing anecdotes related regarding a vocation for the
medical profession. Andrew Rudiger, a physician of Leipsic, when at
college, made an anagram of his name, and, in the words _Andreas Rudiger_
he found "_Arare Rus Dei Dignus_," or "worthy to cultivate the field of
God." He immediately fancied that his vocation was the church, and
commenced his theological studies. Showing but little disposition for the
clerical calling, the learned Thomasius recommended him to return to his
original pursuits. Rudiger confessed that he had more inclination for the
profession of medicine than the church; but that he had considered the
anagram of his name as a divine injunction. "There you are in error,"
replied Thomasius; "that very anagram calls you to the art of healing; for
_Rus Dei_ clearly meaneth the churchyard."

The subject of quackery, in every sphere of life, whether it be resorted
to by diplomatists or physicians, sanctimonious adventurers or fashionable
_roués_, leads to serious consideration. How comes it that man seems more
anxious to be deceived than enlightened? Simply from the errors of his
education, which foster a love for the marvellous, and induce him to
admire that which really is not or cannot be comprehended. The superiority
of the intellectual faculties of the ancients, at an earlier age than the
generality of men in the present times, is solely to be attributed to
their having been brought up with philosophical views. Mallebranche has
justly said, "that to become a philosopher, we must _see clearly_; but to
be endued with faith, we must _believe blindly_." Although we cannot admit
this axiom in matters of revealed religion, yet in many worldly concerns
it does hold. If a youth was not educated with the scholastic jargon,
commonly called learning, he would be considered ignorant. Helvetius has
said, that man is born ignorant, but not a fool; and that it is even no
easy matter to make him one; and the same writer has very justly divided
stupidity into that which is natural, arising from ignorance, and that
which is acquired and the result of instruction. It is thus that, by
speaking to the passions, naturally weak, and to our desires and
apprehensions, ever ready to grasp at a favourite phantom,--the artful
manage to exercise a more powerful control, and incline persons to believe
what their senses actually discredit. The traffic of hope and fear has
ever been a lucrative trade; and while fear became the staple commodity of
priestcraft, hope was the fortune of medical quacks. The multiplication of
sins increased the profits of the one; the various diseases, real and
imaginary, to which flesh is heir, became the source of emolument to the
other. It is under these cherished impressions of ameliorating our
condition, that many men of common sense, and even of judgment, are
induced to rely on the most absurd and fallacious promises; so prone are
we to believe all that we wish;--the fidelity of a woman, the truth of a
sycophant, and the candour of a flatterer. If there could be established a
regular college of quackery, where the errors of mankind might be studied,
and pupils taught to avail themselves of their follies, as a future
vocation, a more perfect knowledge of the world would be acquired than in
all the universities in Europe. Our sovereigns would be wise in selecting
their ministers amongst the graduates of this academy. Cardinal Du Perron,
who, in a long homily, convinced his sovereign, Henry III., of the
existence of a God, and afterwards informed him that he would prove the
contrary, if it could afford his Majesty any consolation, might have been
selected as a proper rector for such an institution.

It is also to be observed that the founders of all doctrines, however
hypothetical and absurd, have generally assumed a dogmatic language, which
gives to their fallacious assertions an appearance of truth, and Bacon has
long ago said, "Method, carrying a show of total and perfect knowledge,
has a tendency to general acquiescence."

Quackery is considered by many practitioners as necessary to forward the
views of medical men. It is related of Charles Patin, that being on a
visit to a physician at Basle, where his son was studying medicine, he
questioned the youth on the principal studies required to form a
physician; to which the future candidate for medical popularity replied,
"Anatomy, physiology, pathology, and therapeutics." "You have omitted the
chief pursuit," replied his catechiser, "_quackery_."

When we cast our eyes on the absurd names which many Italian academies
adopted to characterize the nature of their studies, we find an ample
illustration of this science in the _Seraphici_, the _Oscuri_, the
_Immaturi_, the _Infecundi_, the _Offuscati_, the _Somnolenti_, and

The most ridiculous and disgusting epithets have been considered
honourable distinctions. Thus, when the science of _Uroscopia_ and
_Uromancy_ prevailed, we find a Dr. Theodorus Charles, a Wirtemberg
physician, calling another learned practitioner, "_Urinosa Claritas_."


Such is the growing consumption of this now indispensable article in
England, that in 1789 there were imported 14,534,601 lbs., and in 1833 the
quantity was increased to 31,829,620 lbs.; the latter importation yielding
a revenue of 3,444,101_l._ In other countries we find the consumption much
less. Russia in 1832 imported 6,461,064 lbs.; Holland consumes about
2,800,000 lbs., and France only 230,000 lbs.

It is supposed that tea was first introduced into Europe by the Dutch,
about the middle of the seventeenth century; and Lords Arlington and
Ossory are said to be the first persons who made it known in England. In
1641, Tulpius, a Dutch physician, mentioned it in his works. In 1667,
Fouquet, a French physician, recommended it to the French faculty; and in
1678, an elaborate treatise was written on it by Cornelius Boutkoë,
physician to the Elector of Brandenburg. About the same time, several
travellers and missionaries, amongst whom we find Koempfer, Kalm,
Osbeck, Duhalde, and Lecomte, give various accounts of the plant and its
divers qualities.

The Chinese name of this plant is _theh_, a _Fokien_ word. In the Mandarin
it is _tcha_, and the Japanese call it _tsjaa_. _Loureiro_, in his _Flora
Cochin-China_, describes three species of tea. It is a polyandrous plant
of the natural order _Columniferæ_, growing to a height varying from three
to six feet, and bearing a great resemblance to our myrtle. The blossom is
white, with yellow style and anthers, not unlike that of the dog-rose; the
leaves are the only valuable part of the plant. The _camellias_,
particularly the _camellia sesanqua_, of the same natural family, are the
only plants liable to be confounded with it. The leaves of the latter
camellia are indeed frequently used as a substitute for those of the
tea-plant in several districts of China. This shrub is a hardy evergreen,
growing in the open air from the equator to the forty-fifth degree of
northern latitude; but the climate that appears the most congenial to it
seems to be between the twenty-fifth and thirty-third degree. Almost every
province and district in China produces tea for local consumption: but
what is cultivated for trade is chiefly in Fokien, Canton, Kiang-nan,
Kiang-si, and Che-Kiang; Fokien being celebrated for its black tea, and
Kiang-nan for the green. The plant is also cultivated in Japan, Tonquin,
and Cochin-China, and in some parts of the mountainous tracts of Ava,
where, in addition to its use in infusion, it is converted into a pickle
preserved in oil. When tea was first introduced as a luxury on particular
occasions in the wild districts of Ireland, the people used to throw away
the water in which it had been boiled, and eat the leaves with salt-butter
or bacon like greens. The Dutch are now endeavouring to propagate this
valuable plant in Java, and for that purpose employ cultivators, who have
emigrated from Fokien. The Brazilians are making similar attempts, and
some tolerable tea has been reared near Rio Janeiro.

The black teas usually imported from Canton are the _bohea_, _congou_,
_souchong_, and _pekoe_, according to our orthography: the French
missionaries spelt them as follows: _boui_, _camphou_ or _campoui_,
_saotchaon_, and _pekao_ or _peko_. Our green teas are the _twankay_,
_hyson-skin_, and _hyson_, _imperial_, and _gunpowder_; the first of which
French travellers write _tonkay_, _hayswin-skine_, and _hayswin_. The
French import a tea called _têhulan_, but it is artificially flavoured
with a leaf called _lan hoa_, or the _olea fragrans_ of Linnæus.

The tea-plant grows to perfection in two or three years: the leaves are
carefully picked by the family of the growers, and immediately carried to
market, where they are purchased for drying in sheds. The tea-merchants
from Canton repair to the several districts where it is produced, and,
after purchasing the leaves thus simply desiccated, submit them to various
manipulations; after which they are packed in branded cases and parcels
called _chops_, from a Chinese word meaning a seal. Some of the leaf-buds
of the finest black tea plants are picked early in the spring, before they
expand: these constitute _pekoe_, sometimes called "white-blossomed tea,"
from their being intermixed with the blossoms of the _olea fragrans_. The
younger the leaf, the more high-flavoured and valuable is the tea. Green
teas are grown and gathered in the same manner; but amongst these the
gunpowder stands in the grade of the _pekoe_ among the black, being
prepared with the unopened buds of the spring crops. The alleged
preparation of green teas upon copper plates, to give them a verdant
colour, is an idle story. They are dried in iron vases over a gentle fire;
and the operator conducts this delicate work with his naked hand, and the
utmost care not to break the fragile leaves. This part of the
manipulation is considered the most difficult, as the leaves are rolled
into their usual shape between the palms of the hands until they are cold,
to prevent them from unrolling. Teas are adulterated by various
odoriferous plants, more especially the _vitex pinnata_, the _chloranthus
inconspicuus_, and the _illicium anisatum_. In our markets the chief
adulteration is operated by the mixture of sloe and ash leaves, and
colouring with terra Japonica and other drugs.

That tea is a substance injurious to health is beyond a doubt. Nothing but
long habit from early life renders it less baneful than it otherwise would
be: persons who take its infusion for the first time invariably experience
uncomfortable sensations. It is well known that individuals who are not in
the practice of taking tea in the evening, never transgress this habit
with impunity; and it is quite clear that a preparation which deprives
them of sleep, and renders them restless during a whole night, cannot be
salubrious by day; and although the following opinion of Dr. Trotter
regarding the use of this leaf is somewhat exaggerated, it is founded on
experience; and I have known several persons afflicted with a variety of
serious affections who never could obtain relief until they had ceased to
consume it.

"Tea is a beverage well suited to the taste of an indolent and voluptuous
age. To the glutton it affords a grateful diluent after a voracious
dinner; and, from being drunk warm, it gives a soothing stimulus to the
stomach of the drunkard: but, however agreeable may be its immediate
flavour, the ultimate effects are debility and nervous diseases. There may
be conditions of health, indeed, where tea can do no harm, such as in the
strong and athletic; but it is particularly hurtful to the female
constitution, to all persons who possess the hereditary predisposition to
dyspepsia, and all diseases with which it is associated, to gout, and to
those who are naturally weak-nerved. Fine tea, where the narcotic quality
seems to be concentrated, when taken in a strong infusion, by persons not
accustomed to it, excites nausea and vomiting, tremors, cold sweats,
vertigo, dimness of sight, and confusion of thought. I have known a number
of men and women subject to nervous complaints, who could not use tea in
any form without feeling a sudden increase of all their unpleasant
symptoms; particularly acidity of the stomach, vertigo, and dimness of the
eyes. As the use of this article of diet extends among the lower orders of
the community and the labouring poor, it must do the more harm. A man or
a woman who has to go through much toil and hardship has need of
substantial nourishment; but that is not to be obtained from an infusion
of tea. And if the humble returns of their industry are expended in this
leaf, what remains for the purchase of food better adapted to labour? In
this case tea becomes hurtful, not only from its narcotic quality, but
because that quality acts with double force in a body weakened from other
causes. This certainly is one great reason for the increased and
increasing proportion of nervous, bilious, spasmodic, and stomach
complaints, &c. appearing among the lower ranks of life."

It is well known that tea is frequently resorted to by literary men to
keep them awake during their lucubrations. Dr. Cullen said he never could
take it without feeling gouty symptoms; and we frequently see aged
females, who are in the habit of taking strong green tea, subject to
paralytic affections. Many experienced physicians, such as Grimm,
Crugerus, Wytt, Murray, Letsom, condemn the abuse of the plant as highly
dangerous.[25] That it is a most powerful astringent we well know; and the
hands of the Chinese who are employed in its preparation are shrivelled,
and, to all appearance, burned with caustic. Chemists have extracted from
it an astringent liquor containing tannin and gallic acid. This liquor,
injected in the veins or under the integuments of frogs, produces palsy of
the posterior extremities, and, applied to the sciatic nerve for half an
hour, has occasioned death.

There is no doubt that tea acts differently on various individuals. In
some it is highly stimulant and exhilarating; in others its effects are
oppression and lowness of spirits; and I have known a person who could
never indulge in this beverage without experiencing a disposition to
commit suicide, and nothing could arouse him from this state of morbid
excitement but the pleasure of destroying something, books, papers, or any
thing within his reach. Under no other circumstances than this influence
of tea were these fearful aberrations observed. It has been remarked that
all tea-drinking nations are essentially of a leucophlegmatic temperament,
predisposed to scrofulous and nervous diseases. The Chinese, even the
degraded Tartar races amongst them, are weak and infirm, their women
subject to various diseases arising from debility. Although their
confined mode of living, and want of the means of enjoying pure air and
exercise, materially tends to render them liable to these affections;
still their immoderate use of strong green tea, taken, it is true, in very
small quantities at the time, but repeatedly, greatly adds to this

From long experience I am convinced that, although tea may in general be
considered a refreshing and harmless beverage, yet in some peculiar cases
it is decidedly injurious; and many diseases that have baffled all medical
exertions, have yielded to the same curative means so soon as the action
of tea had been suspended.


Self-styled wandering Turks and Armenians are frequently met with in
crowded cities vending rhubarb, tooth-powder, and various drugs and
nostrums, exciting the curiosity of the idlers that group around them, by
exhibiting a root bearing a strong resemblance to the human form. This is
the far-famed mandragore, of which such wonderful accounts have been
related by both ancients and moderns.

This plant is the _Atropa Mandragora_ of Linnæus, and grows wild in the
mountainous and shaded parts of Italy, Spain, and the Levant, where it is
also cultivated in gardens. The root bears such a likeness, at least in
fancy's eyes, to our species, that it was called _Semi-homo_. Hence says

  Quamvis semihominis vesano gramine foeta
  Mandragora pariat flores moestamque cicutam.

The word _vesano_ clearly refers to the supposed power it possessed of
exciting delirium. It was also named _Circæa_, from its having been one of
the mystic ingredients employed in Circe's spells; although the wonderful
mandragore was ineffectual against the more powerful herb the _Moly_,
which Ulysses received from Mercury. This human resemblance of the root,
which is, moreover, of a blackish hue and hairy, inspired the vulgar with
the idea that it was nothing less than a familiar dæmon. It was gathered
with curious rites: three times a magic circle was drawn round it with a
naked sword; and the person who was daring enough to pluck it from the
earth, was subject to manifold dangers and diseases, unless under some
special protection; therefore it was not unusual to get it eradicated by a
dog, fastened to it by a cord, and who was whipped off until the precious
root was pulled out. According to Josephus, the plant called _Buaras_,
which was gifted with the faculty of keeping off evil spirits, was
obtained by a similar canine operation. Often, it was asserted, did the
mandragore utter piteous cries and groans, when thus severed from mother
earth. Albertus the Great affirms that the root has a more powerful action
when growing under a gibbet, and is brought to greater perfection by the
nourishing secretions that drop from the criminal's dangling corpse.

Amongst its many wonderful properties, it was said to double the amount of
money that was locked up with it in a box. It was also all-powerful in
detecting hidden treasures. Most probably the mandragore had bad qualities
to underrate its good ones. Amongst these, we must certainly class the
blackest ingratitude, since it never seemed to benefit the eloquent
advocates of its virtues, who, in general, were as poor as their boasted
plant was rich in attraction.

It was also supposed to possess the delightful faculty of increasing
population and exciting love; and the Emperor Julian writes to Calixines
that he is drinking the juice of mandragore to render him amorous. Hence
was it called _Loveapple_; and Venus bore the name of _Mandragontis_. It
has been asserted by various scholiasts, that the _mandrake_ which Reuben
found in the fields and carried to his mother, Leah, was the mandragore;
the _Dudaïm_, however, which he gathered was not, according to all
accounts, an unpleasant fruit, but is supposed to have been a species of
orchis, still used in the East in love-philters and prolific potions. The
word _Dudaïm_ seems to express a tuberculated plant; and in Solomon's
Songs, he thus describes it: "The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates
are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for
thee, O my beloved." Now it is utterly impossible, whatever may have been
the revolution in taste since the days of Solomon, that the nauseous and
offensive mandragore could have been considered as a propitiating present
to a lady.

The etymology of the word _Dudaïm_ would seem to describe it. It is
derived from the word [Hebrew], (_Dadim_) breasts, or [Hebrew], (_Dodim_)
friends, neighbours, twins; which indicates that this plant is formed of
two similar parts. It is thought that the _Dudaïm_ might be the
highly-scented melon which is cultivated in the East, especially in
Persia, and known by the name of _Destenbuje_, or the _Cucumis Dudaïm_ of
Linnæus, and which is also found in Italy, where its powerful aroma is
imparted to garments and chambers. It must have been an odoriferous
production, since in the _Talmud_ we find it denominated _Siglin_, which
has been considered the jessamine or the lily. The orchis is remarkable
for its double bulbous roots and its agreeable perfume; we may therefore
justify the idea that the _Dudaïm_ of the Jews was a species of this

Frontinus informs us that Hannibal employed mandragore in one of his
warlike stratagems, when he feigned a retreat, and left in the possession
of the barbarians a quantity of wine in which this plant had been infused.
Intoxicated by the potent beverage, they were unable to withstand his
second attack, and were easily put to the sword. Was it the mandragore
that saved the Scotch in a similar _ruse de guerre_ with the Danish
invaders of Sweno? It is supposed to have been the _Belladonna_, or deadly
nightshade, the effects of which are not dissimilar to those of the plant
in question.

In the north of Europe, this substance is still used for medicinal
purposes; and Boerhaave, Hoffberg, and Swediaur have strongly recommended
it in glandular swellings, arthritic pains, and various diseases where a
profuse perspiration may be desirable.

Machiavel has made the fabulous powers of the mandragore the subject of a
comedy, and Lafontaine has employed it as an agent in one of his tales.

Another root that excited superstitious phantasies and reverential awe,
from its supposed resemblance to the human form, was the Gin-seng, a
Chinese production, which, according to the author of the
_Kao-li-tchi-tsan_, or Eulogium of the Kingdom of Corea, "imitates the
configuration of man and the efficacy of spiritual comfort, possessing
hands and feet like a human being, and the mental virtues that no one can
easily comprehend." According to Jartoux, _Gin-seng_ signifies "the
representation of man." It appears, however, that the learned father was
in error. _Jin_, it is true, signifies _man_; but _Chen_ does not mean
representation, but a _ternary body_. Hence _Gin-seng_ signifies the
_ternary of man, making three with man and heaven_!--no doubt some
superstitious tradition, since this root bears various names in other
countries, that plainly denote the veneration in which it was held. In
Japan it is called _Nindsin_, and _Orkhoda_ in the Tatar-Mandchou
language, both of which mean "the queen of plants." Father Lafitau
informs us that the name of _Garent-oguen_ of the Iroquois, which it also
bears, means the _thighs of man_. The _Gin-seng_ is a native of Tartary,
Corea, and also thrives in Canada, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, in shaded
and damp situations, as it soon perishes under the solar rays. The Chinese
attach considerable value to it. Thunberg informs us that it sometimes is
sold for forty pounds a pound; and Osbeck states that in his time it was
worth twenty-four times its weight in silver. This enormous price
frequently induced foreign smugglers to bring it into the Chinese
territory; but the severest laws were enacted to punish this fraudulent
traffic. The Tartars alone possess the privilege of cultivating and
collecting it; and the districts that produce this precious plant are
surrounded with palisades, and strictly guarded. In 1707, the Emperor of
China, to increase his revenue, sent a body of ten thousand troops to
collect the gin-seng. According to the Chinese physicians, this root
possesses the faculty of renovating exhausted constitutions, giving fresh
vigour, raising the drooping moral and physical faculties, and restoring
to health and _embonpoint_ the victim of debauchery. It is also said that
a bit of the root chewed by a man running a race will prevent his
competitor from getting the start of him. It is somewhat singular that the
same property is attributed to garlic; and the Hungarian jockeys
frequently tie a clove of it to their racers' bits, when the horses that
run against them fall back the moment they breathe the offensive odour. It
has been proved that no horse will eat in a manger if the mouth of any
other steed in the stable has been rubbed with the juice of this plant. I
had occasion to ascertain this fact. A horse of mine was in the same stall
with one belonging to a brother officer; mine fell away and refused his
food, while his companion throve uncommonly well. I at last discovered
that a German groom, who had charge of the prosperous animal, had recourse
to this vile stratagem. It is also supposed that men who eat garlic knock
up upon a march the soldiers who have not made use of it. Hence, in the
old regulations of the French armies, there existed an order to prohibit
the use of garlic when troops were on a march.


No consideration should render man more thankful to his Creator, and
justly proud of the progress of human intellect, than the perfection to
which the art of surgery has been carried. In its present improved
condition, we are struck with horror at the perusal of the ancient
practice, and marvel that its barbarity did not sooner induce its
professors to diminish the sum of misery it inflicted on their victims.
Ignorance, and its offspring Superstition, seemed to sanctify this
darkness. Improvement was considered as impious and unnecessary; and to
deny the powers of the chirurgical art, heresy against the holy men, who
alone were permitted to exercise it.

This supposed divine attribute of the priesthood can be traced to remote
ages: Æsculapius was son of Apollo, and princes and heroes did not
consider the art of surgery beneath their dignity. Homer has illustrated
the skill of Podalirius and Chiron; and Idomeneus bids Nestor to mount his
chariot with Machaon, who alone was more precious than a thousand
warriors; while we find Podalirius, wrecked and forlorn on the Carian
coast, leading to the altar the daughter of the monarch whom he cured, and
whose subjects raised a temple to his memory, and paid him divine honours.

Tradition informs us, that in the infancy of the art all its branches were
exercised indiscriminately by the medical practitioners. It was not then
supposed that the human body was subject to distinct affections, external
and internal; yet, as its study advanced, the ancients were led into an
opposite extreme, and we find that in Egypt each disease became the
province of a special attendant, regulated in his treatment by the sacred
records handed down by their hierarchy.

Herodotus informs us, that "so wisely was medicine managed by the
Egyptians, that no physician was allowed to practise any but his own
peculiar branch." Accouchments were exclusively the province of females.

These practitioners were remunerated by the state; and they were severely
punished, when, by any experimental trials, they deviated from the
prescribed rules imposed upon them, and, in the event of any patient
dying under a treatment differing from the established practice, the
medical attendant was considered guilty of a capital offence. These wise
provisions were made, says Diodorus, in the full conviction that few
persons were capable of introducing any new treatment superior to that
which had been sanctioned and approved by old practitioners.

Pliny complains that no such laws existed in Rome, where a physician was
the only man who could commit murder with impunity; "Nulla præterea lex,"
he says, "quæ puniat inscitium capitalem, nullum exemplum vindictæ.
Discunt periculis nostris, et experimenta per mortes agunt: medicoque
tantum hominem occidisse impunitas summa est."

By one of these singular anomalies in public opinion, this supposed divine
science was soon considered an ignoble profession. In Rome it was chiefly
practised by slaves, freedmen, or foreigners. From the overthrow of the
Roman empire till the revival of literature and the arts in Europe,
medicine and surgery sought a refuge amongst the Arabians, who studied
both branches in common; for, though exiled to the coast of Africa in
point of scientific cultivation, it was necessarily cultivated in other
countries, and in the greater part of Europe became the exclusive right of
ecclesiastics. In time, however, it was gradually wrested from their hands
by daily necessities; and every one, even amongst the lowest classes,
professed himself a surgeon, and the cure of the hurt and the lame was
intrusted to menials and women.

As the church could no longer monopolize the art of healing, it became
expedient to stigmatize it, although that very faculty had but lately been
their boast; but it had fallen within the powers of vulgar and profane
comprehension, and therefore was useless to maintain sacerdotal
pre-eminence. In 1163, the Council of Tours, held by Pope Alexander III.,
maintained that the devil, to seduce the priesthood from the duties of the
altar, involved them in mundane occupations, which, under the plea of
humanity, exposed them to constant and perilous temptations. The edict not
only prohibited the study both of medicine and law amongst all that had
taken religious vows, but actually excommunicated every ecclesiastic who
might infringe the decree. It appears, however, that the temptations of
the evil one were still attractive, as Pope Honorius III., in 1215, was
obliged to fulminate a fresh anathema on transgressors, with an additional
canon, ordaining that, as the church abhorred all cruel or sanguinary
practices, not only no priest should be allowed the practice of surgery,
but should refuse their benediction to all who professed it.[26]

The practice then fell into the hands of laymen, although priests, still
regretting the advantages that it formerly had yielded them, were
consulted in their convents or houses; and when patients could not visit
them without exposing them to clerical censure, they asserted their
ability to cure diseases by the mere inspection of the patient's
dejections; and so much faith was reposed in this filthy practice, that
Henry II. decreed that upon the complaints of the heirs of persons who
died through the fault of their physicians, the latter should suffer
capital punishment, as having been the cause of their patient's death,
unless they had scientifically examined what was submitted to their
investigation by the deceased's relatives or domestics: and then proceeded
to prescribe for the malady.

Unable to quit their cloisters, in surgical cases, which could not be so
easily cured at a distance, sooner than lose the emoluments of the
profession, they sent their servants, or rather the barbers of the
community, who shaved, and bled, and drew teeth in their neighbourhood
ever since the clergy could no longer perform these operations, on the
plea of the maxim "_Ecclesia abhorret à sanguine_;" bleeding and
tooth-drawing being, I believe, the only cases where this maxim was
noticed. From this circumstance arose the barber craft or barber-surgeons.

These practitioners, from their various avocations, were necessarily
dexterous; for, in addition to the skill required for good shaving,
tonsurating the crowns of clerical heads was a delicate operation; and it
was about this period that Pope Alexander III. revised the canon issued by
the synod of Carthage respecting the tonsure of the clergy. Surgery being
thus degraded, the separation between its practice and that of medicine
became unavoidable, and the two branches were formally made distinct by
bulls of Boniface VI. and Clement V.

St. Louis, who had witnessed the services of surgeons in the field of
battle during the crusades, had formed a college or _confrérie_ of
surgeons, in honour of St. Cosme and St. Damian, in 1268; and wounds and
sores were dressed _gratis_ in the churches dedicated to those saints on
the first Monday of every month. To this body, of course, the
barber-surgeons, or _fraters_ of the priests, who had not received any
regular education, did not belong. Hence arose the distinction, which even
to the present day obtains in various parts of the Continent, where
surgeons are divided into two classes,--those who had gone through a
regular course of studies, and those who, without any academical
education, were originally employed as the servants of the priests and
barbers. So late as the year 1809, one of my assistants in the Portuguese
army felt much hurt at my declining his offer to shave me; and in 1801,
some British assistant-surgeons, who had entered the Swedish navy, were
ordered to shave the ship's company, and were dismissed the service in
consequence of their refusal to comply with this command.

But to return to our barbers.--These ambitious shavers gradually attempted
to glean in the footsteps of the regular chirurgeons, and even to encroach
upon their domain, by performing more important operations than phlebotomy
and tooth-drawing; the audacious intruders were therefore very properly
brought up _ex officio_ by the attorney-general of France, and forbidden
to transgress the boundaries of their art, until they had been duly
examined by master chirurgeons; although these said masters were not
better qualified than many of the barbers. Such was their ignorance
indeed, that Pitard, an able practitioner, who had successively been the
surgeon of St. Louis, Philip the Brave, and Philip the Fair, obtained a
privilege to examine and grant licences to such of these masters who were
fit to practise, without which licence all practitioners were liable to be
punished by the provost of Paris; and in 1372 barbers were only allowed to
dress boils, bruises, and open wounds.

Although this account chiefly refers to France and its capital, yet the
same distinction and division between surgeons and barbers prevailed in
almost every other country; and privileges were maintained with as much
virulence and absurdity as the present controversial bickerings between
physicians and surgeons.

In 1355 these master-surgeons constituted a faculty, which pocketed
one-half of the penalties imposed upon the unlucky wights who had not the
honour of belonging to their body. They also enjoyed various immunities
and exemptions; amongst others, that of not keeping guard and watch in the
city of Paris. To increase their emoluments, they granted as many honorary
distinctions as they could in decency devise, and introduced the
categories of bachelors, licentiates, masters, graduates, and
non-graduates of surgery. The medical faculty now began to complain of the
encroachments of the master-surgeons on their internal domain of poor
mortality with as much bitterness as the masters complained of the
impertinent invasion on the part of the barbers, of their external
dominion. To court the powerful protection of the university against these
interlopers, the surgeons consented to be considered as the scholars of
the medical faculty, chiefly governed by clerical physicians.

In 1452 a fresh source of dissension arose amongst clerical physicians,
lay physicians, master surgeons, and barbers. Cardinal Etoutville
abolished the law which bound the physicians of the university to
celibacy, when, to use the historian's words, "many of the clerical
physicians, thinking there was more comfort to be found in a wife without
a benefice than could be expected in a benefice without a wife, abandoned
the priesthood, and were then permitted to visit their patients at their
own houses." Thus thrown into the uncontrolled practice of medicine, these
physicians became jealous of the influence of the surgeons, to whom they
had been so much indebted; and they had recourse to every art and
manoeuvre that priestcraft could devise to oppress and degrade them. To
aid this purpose, they resorted to the barbers, whom they instructed in
private, to enable them to oppose the master-surgeons more effectually.
The surgeons, indignant at this protection, had recourse to the medical
faculty, supplicating them to have the barbers shorn of their rising
dignity. Thus for mere motives of pecuniary interest, and the evident
detriment of society, did these intriguing practitioners struggle for
power and consequent fees; and, according to the vacillation of their
interests, the barbers became alternately the allies of the physicians or
the mercenary skirmishers of the surgeons.

From this oppression of the art, for nearly three centuries surgery was
considered a degrading profession. Excluded from the university, not only
were surgeons deprived of all academic honours and privileges, but
subjected to those taxes and public burdens from which the members of the
university, being of the clerical order, were exempted. This persecution
not only strove to injure them in a worldly point of view, but the priests
carried their vindictive feelings to such a point of malignity that when
Charles IX. was about to confer the rites of apostolical benediction upon
the surgeons of the long robe, the medical faculty interposed on the plea
of their not being qualified to receive this benediction, as they did not
belong to any of the four faculties of the university; and as the
chancellor, or any other man, had not the power of conferring a blessing
without the pope's permission and special mandate, both surgeons and
barbers ought to be irrevocably damned. The apostolical benediction in
those days was considered of great value, since it exempted all candidates
from examination in anatomy, medicine, surgery, or any other
qualification, when they applied for a degree.

Ever since the healing art ceased to be a clerical privilege, and a state
of rivalry prevailed between spiritual and corporeal doctors, the former
have sought to represent their opponents as infidels and atheists--the
unbelief of physicians became prevalent, and to this day medical men are
generally considered freethinkers;--an appellation which in a strictly
correct acceptation might be considered more complimentary than
opprobrious, since it designates a man, who extricating his intellectual
faculties from the meshes of ignorance or prejudices, takes the liberty of
thinking for himself.

Sir Thomas Brown in his "Religio Medici," alludes to this injurious
opinion entertained of medical men, when he says, "For my religion, though
there be several circumstances that might persuade the world I have none
at all, _as the general scandal of my profession_, the natural course of
my studies, the indifferency of my behaviour and discourse in matters of
religion--yet in despite thereof, I dare, without usurpation, assume the
honourable style of Christian."

Sir Kenelm Digby in his observations on the work from which the above is
extracted, entertains a similar opinion, and quotes Friar Bacon in support
of it. The following are his words: "Those students who busy themselves
much with such notions as reside wholly in the fantasy, do hardly ever
become idoneous for abstracted metaphysical speculations; the one having
bulky foundations of matter, or of the accidents of it, to settle upon--at
the least with one foot; the other flying continually, even to a lessening
pitch in the subtile air. And accordingly it hath been generally noted,
that the excellent mathematicians, who converse altogether with lines,
figures, and other differences of quantity, have seldom proved eminent in
metaphysics or speculative divinity. Nor again, the profession of their
sciences in other arts, much less can it be expected that an excellent
physician, whose fancy is always fraught with the material drugs that he
prescribeth his apothecary to compound his medicines of, and whose hands
are inured to the cutting up, and eyes to the inspection of anatomized
bodies, should easily and with success ply his thoughts at so towering a
game, as a pure intellect, or separated and unbodied soul."

That such ideas should be maintained in former days, when bigotry and
prejudice reigned paramount, we cannot be surprised; but one must marvel
to see a modern and intelligent annotator of Brown's work,[27] coincide in
this illiberal opinion, in the following terms:

"Imaginative men, that is, persons in whom the higher attributes of genius
are found, seldom delight in the sciences conversant with mere matter or
form; least of all in medicine, the object of which is the derangement, or
imperfection of nature, and the endeavour to substitute order and harmony
in the place of their opposites. Brought thus chiefly into contact with
diseased organization, surrounded by the worst elements of civil society,
(for their experience must in general be among the intemperate and the
vicious,) they may be said to exist in an infected moral atmosphere, and
it is therefore not greatly to be wondered at that among such persons a
highly religious frame of mind should be the exception and not the rule."

The absurdity of this observation can only be equalled by its extreme
illiberality. Can it be for one moment entertained, that the physician who
gives his care to every class of society and at all ages "exists in an
infected moral atmosphere?" Supposing that he is not fortunate enough to
attend upon the opulent and the great, and is limited to a pauper or an
hospital practice, does Mr. St. John mean to say that instances of
intemperance and vice are confined to the indigent, although want of
education, and poverty may degrade them in crapulous pursuits? If there
does exist a profession pre-eminent for its philanthropic character, and
the power of discrimination between good and evil, and right and wrong, it
is undoubtedly that of medicine. The finest feelings of humanity are
constantly brought to bear, both in seeking to relieve bodily sufferings
and solacing an afflicted mind--whether it be with the scalpel in hand in
an anatomical theatre, or by the bedside of an agonized sufferer, whom he
hopes, under Providence, to restore to health and to his family, the
physician has daily opportunities of beholding the wonders of the creation
and the benevolence of the Creator--he is a constant witness of the
fervent supplication of the unfortunate and the heartfelt gratitude of
those suppliants at the throne of mercy, whose prayers have been heard. A
man of exalted benevolence (and such a physician ought to be), he must be
alive to all the generous feelings of humanity, and he is doomed more
frequently to move in an _infected moral atmosphere_, when gratuitously
attending some of the troublesome and pedantic legislators of the republic
of letters, than when exerting his skill to relieve the grateful poor who
may fall under his care.

It has been maintained that the physician seeking in the arcana of nature
the causes of every vital phenomenon becomes a materialist: nothing can be
more unjust, nay, more absurd, than such a supposition. The study of
physiology teaches us, more perhaps then any other pursuit, to admire the
wonderful works of our Creator, and Voltaire has beautifully illustrated
the fact in the following lines:

  Demandez à Sylva par quel secret mystère
  Ce pain, cet aliment dans mon corps digéré,
  Se transforme en un lait doucement préparé;
  Comment, toujours filtré dans des routes certaines,
  En longs ruisseaux de pourpre il court enfler mes veines;
  A mon corps languissant donne un pouvoir nouveau,
  Fait palpiter mon coeur et penser mon cerveau;
  Il lève au ciel les yeux, il s'incline, il s'écrie
  Demandez le à CE DIEU qui m'a donnez la vie.

Broëseche has justly said, _Tanta est inter deum, religionem, et medicum
connexio, ut sine Deo et religione nullus exactus medicus esse queat_; and
it has truly been said by a later writer, "that a philosophic physician
must seek in religion, strength of mind to support the painful exertions
of his profession, and some consolation for the ingratitude of mankind."

Amongst the many glaring absurdities which retarded the progress of
medical studies, one cannot but notice the presumptuous claims of the
physicians to the exclusive privilege of teaching surgery to their pupils,
while anatomy was solely professed by surgeons, and not considered
necessary in the instruction of a physician. All these anomalies can be
easily traced to that spirit of dominion, exclusion, and monopoly, which
invariably characterized clerical bodies. To such a pitch was this
destructive practice carried, that surgeons were only allowed to perform
operations in the presence of one or more physicians: nor were they
permitted to publish any work on their profession until it had been
licensed by a faculty who were utterly ignorant of the matter of which it
treated. The celebrated Ambrose Paré could only obtain as a special favour
from his sovereign, the permission to give to the world one of its most
valuable sources of information.

So late as 1726 we find the medical faculty of Paris making a formal
representation to Cardinal de Noailles and the curates of that capital to
prevent surgeons from granting certificates of health or of disease, and
this application was grounded on the pious motive of enforcing a more
rigid observance of Lent! They further insisted that this indispensable
mortification was eluded in consequence of the facility of obtaining
certificates that permitted persons stated to be indisposed to eat animal
food, eggs, and butter, whence infidelity was making a most alarming
progress, threatening the very existence of church and state, and the
overthrow of every ancient and glorious institution. The faculty were
formally thanked for their pious zeal in the true interests of religion,
and the spiritual welfare of their patients; and orders were affixed upon
the door of every church, anathematizing all certificates that emanated
from the unholy hands of surgeons and barbers.

These unfortunate barbers, although they humbly submitted to the sway of
both physicians and surgeons when it suited their purpose, were in turn
persecuted by both their allies and alternate protectors; so much so, that
the clerical practitioners at one time prohibited them from bleeding, and
conferred this privilege upon the bagnio-keepers. From the well-known
nature of these establishments, various may be the reasons that led to
this patronage, which was clearly an attempt to qualify bagnio-keepers to
extend their convenient trade.

At last, in the year 1505, barbers were dignified with the name of
surgeons. Their instructions were delivered in their vernacular tongue,
until the university again interfered, and ordered that lectures should be
delivered in Latin; once more closing alma-mater against illiterate
shavers, who were, however, obliged to give a smattering of classical
education to their sons destined to wield alternately the razor and the
lancet. In 1655, surgeons and barber-surgeons were incorporated in one
college; a union which was further confirmed, in 1660, by royal
ordonnance, under some limitations, whereby the barbers should not assume
the title of licentiates, bachelors, or professors, nor be allowed to wear
the honourable gown and cap that distinguished the higher grades of
learning. Red caps were in former times given by each barber to his
teacher on his being qualified, and gloves to all his fellow-students.

Thus we find that the high state of perfection which the surgical art has
attained is solely due to the efforts of industry to free itself from the
ignoble trammels of bigotry and prejudice. Intellectual progress has
invariably been opposed in every country by those powerful and interested
individuals who derived their wealth and influence from the ignorance of
society. Corporate bodies monopolizing the exercise of any profession will
invariably retard instruction and shackle the energies of the student. It
is, no doubt, indispensable that the practice of medicine in all its
branches should only be allowed to such persons as are duly qualified; but
whenever pecuniary advantages are derived from the grant of the
permission, abuses as dishonourable as they are injurious to society will
infallibly prevail. In Great Britain the period of study required in
medical candidates is by no means sufficient. Five or six years is the
very lowest period that should be insisted on; and, when duly instructed,
degrees and licences should be conferred without fee, on all applicants,
by a board of examiners unprejudiced and disinterested. This mode of
granting licences would add to the respectability of the profession, while
it would ensure proper attendance to the public. Physicians and surgeons
would then become (what to a certain extent the latter are at present,
though illegally as far as the laws of the college go), general
practitioners, and society would no longer be infested by the swarms of
practising apothecaries, who, from the very nature of their education, can
only be skilled in making up medicines, or who must have obtained
experience in the lessons taught by repeated failures in their early
practice, unless perchance they have stepped beyond the usual confined
instruction of their class. The consequences that arise from this fatal
system are but too obvious. These men live by selling drugs, which they
unmercifully supply, to the material injury of the patient's constitution.
If, after ringing all the changes of their materia medica without causing
the church-bell to toll, they find themselves puzzled and bewildered, a
physician or a surgeon is called in, and too frequently these
practitioners are bound by tacit agreement not to diminish the revenue
that the shop produces. If it were necessary to prove the evils that
result from the monopolizing powers vested in corporate institutions, the
proof might be sought and found in the virulence and jealousy which they
evince in resisting reform, from whatever quarter it may be dreaded; and
it may be said that too many of the practising apothecaries of the present
day stand in the same relative situation in the medical profession as the
barbers of olden times.

This faculty of exercising every branch of the profession, however
qualified, is of olden date, and we find on the subject the following
lines in the writings of Alcuin in the time of Charlemagne:

  Accurrunt medici mox Hippocratica tecta:
  Hic venas findit, herbas hic miscet in olla;
  Ille coquit pultes, alter sed pocula perfert.


Philosophical ingenuity has long been displayed in the most learned
disquisitions in an endeavour to account for the nature of these
phenomena. The strangeness of these visionary perturbations of our
rest--their supposed influence on our destinies--their frequent
verification by subsequent events--have always shed a mystic _prestige_
around them; and superstition, ignorance, and craft, have in turns
characterized them as the warnings of the Divine will, or the machinations
of an evil spirit.

Macrobius divided them into various categories. The first, the mere
_dream_, _somnium_, he considers a figurative and mysterious
representation that requires to be interpreted. Dion Cassius gives an
example of this in the case of Nero, who dreamt that he saw the chair of
Jupiter pass into the palace of Vespasian, which was considered as
emblematical of his translation to the empire.

The second distinction he terms a _vision_, _visio_, or a foreboding of
future events. The third he deemed _oracular_, _oraculum_, and this was
the case when a priest, or a relative, a deity, a hero, or some venerable
person, denounced what was to happen, or warned us against it. As an
example of this inspiration, for such it was considered, an anecdote of
Vespasian is related. Having heard that a man in Achaia had dreamt that a
person unknown to him had assured him that he should date his prosperity
from the moment that Nero should lose a tooth,--a tooth just drawn from
that emperor being shown to him the following day, he foresaw his
destinies: soon after Nero died, Galba did not long survive him, and the
discord that reigned between Otho and Vitellius ultimately placed the
diadem on his brow. These inspirations were considered by Cicero, and
various philosophers, as particularly appertaining to the shrine of the
gods; those who sought that heavenly admonition were therefore recommended
to lie down in temples. The Lacedæmonians sought slumber in the temple of
Pasithea; Brizo, the goddess of sleep and dreams, was worshipped at Delos,
and her votaries slept before her altars with their heads bound with
laurel, and other fatidical symbols; hence divination by dreams was called
_Brizomantia_. Supplications were offered up to Mercury for propitious
visions, and a caduceus was placed for that purpose at the feet of beds;
hence was it called [Greek: ermies].

Diodorus informs us that dreams were regarded in Egypt with religious
reverence, and the prayers of the devout were often rewarded by the gods
with an indication of appropriate remedies. But the confidence in
supernatural agency and the power of magic, was only deemed a last
resource, when human skill had been baffled. Some persons promised a
certain sum of money for the maintenance of sacred animals, consecrated to
the divinity whose aid they implored. In the case of infants, a certain
portion of their hair was cut off and weighed, and when the cure was
effected an equal quantity of gold was given to the successful

The fourth division was _insomny_, _insomnium_, which was characterized by
a disturbed repose, caused either by mental or bodily oppression, or
solicitude. The fifth class of dreams was the _phantasm_ or _visus_, which
takes place between sleeping and waking, in a dozing and broken slumber,
when the person thinks himself awake, and yet beholds fantastic and
chimerical figures floating around his couch. Under this class is placed
the _ephialtes_, or night-mare. Macrobius represents the phantasm and the
insomnium as little deserving of attention, being of no use in divination
and prediction.

When these notions prevailed, the interpretation of dreams became a
profitable trade; and it is a lamentable truth, that, to the present day,
it is considered a speculation upon credulity. We find in Plutarch's Life
of Aristides that there were tables drawn out for this purpose; and he
speaks of one Lysimachus, a grandson of Aristides, who gained a handsome
livelihood by this profession, taking up his station near the temple of
Bacchus. Rules of interpretation were formed by Artemidorus, who lived in
the reign of Antoninus Pius, and he drew his conclusions from
circumstances considered either propitious or sinister. Thus, to dream of
a large nose, signified subtlety; of rosemary or sage, trouble and
weakness; of a midwife, disclosure of secrets; of a leopard, a deceitful
person. These interpretations became so multiplied, that at last it was
decreed that no dreams which related to the public weal should be
regarded, unless they had visited the brains of some magistrates, or more
than one individual. But what limits can any enactment assign to the
influence of credulity and superstition? Cicero informs us that the Consul
Lucius Julius repaired to the temple of Juno Sospita, in obedience to a
decree of the senate regarding the dream of Cæcilia, daughter of

In more modern times we have often seen dreams resorted to, in order to
assist the speculations of policy and priestcraft; some of them as absurd
in their nature as revolting in their interpretation. Monkish records
relate that St. Bernard's mother dreamed that she had a little white dog
barking about her, which was interpreted to her by a religious person as
meaning "that she should be the mother of an excellent dog indeed, who
should be the hope of God's house, and would incessantly bark against its
adversaries, for he should be a famous preacher, and cure many by his
medicinal tongue." Our Archbishop Laurence, to whom we owe the church of
Our Lady at Canterbury, was about to emigrate to France under the
discouragement of persecution, until warned in a dream, and severely
scourged by St. Peter for his weakness. It was on the relation not only of
this dream, but on actually exhibiting the marks of the stripes he had
received, that Eadbald was baptized, and became a protector of the church.
It was in a dream of this description that St. Andrew instructed Peter
Pontanus how to find out the spear that had pierced our Saviour's side,
and which was hidden somewhere near Antioch. Antioch was at that time
besieged by the Persians, and half famished; but this weapon being carried
by a bishop, enabled the besieged to beleaguer Caiban, the Persian

The Peripatetics represented dreams as arising from a presaging faculty of
the mind; other sects imagined that they were suggestions of dæmons.
Democritus and Lucretius looked upon them as spectres and _simulacra_ of
corporeal things, emitted from them, floating in the air, and assailing
the soul. A modern writer, Andrew Baxter, entertained a notion somewhat
similar, and imagined that dreams were prompted by separate immaterial
beings, or spirits, who had access to the sleeper's brain with the faculty
of inspiring him with various ideas. Burton divides dreams into natural,
divine, and dæmoniacal; and he defines sleep, after Scaliger, as "the rest
or binding of the outward senses, and of the common sense, for the
preservation of body and soul."

Gradually released from the trammels of superstition, modern philosophers
have sought for more plausible explanations of the nature and causes of
dreams, but perhaps without having attained a greater degree of certainty
in this difficult question than our bewildered ancestors. Wolfius is of
opinion that every dream originates in some sensation, yet the independent
energies of the mind are sufficiently displayed in the preservation of the
continued phantasms of the imagination. He maintains that none of these
phantasms can prevail unless they arise from this previous sensation. De
Formey is of the same opinion, and conceives that dreams are supernatural
when not produced by these sensations. But of what nature are these
sensations? Are they corporeal impressions received prior to sleep, and
the continuances of reflection, or are they the children of an idle brain?
Although it is not easy to trace an affinity between the subjects of our
dreams and our previous train of thought, yet it is more than probable
that dreams are excited by impressions experienced in our waking moments,
and retransmitted to the sensorium, however difficult it may be to link
the connexion of our ideas, and trace their imperceptible catenation.
Moreover, there does not exist a necessary and regular association in the
state of mind that succeeds any particular impressions. These impressions
only predispose the mind to certain ideas, which act upon it with more or
less subsequent energy, and with more or less irregularity, according to
the condition in which the predisposing causes have left it. It has been
observed that we seldom dream of the objects of our love or our
antipathies. Such dreams may not be the natural results of such
sentiments. We may fondly love a woman, and in our dreams transfer this
soft sensation of fondness to another individual,--to a dog that fondles
us, or any other pleasing object. We may have experienced fear--in a storm
at sea; yet we may not dream of being tossed about in a boat, but of being
mounted upon a runaway horse who hurries us to destruction, or of flying
from a falling avalanche. Our mind had been predisposed by fear to receive
any terrific impression, and most probably these alarming phantasms will
be of a chimerical and an extravagant nature. A man who has been bitten by
a dog may fancy himself in the coils of a boa-constrictor. When dreaming,
the mind is in an abstracted state; but still is its reciprocal influence
over the body manifest, although it is powerless on volition. Vigilance in
sleep is still awake; but her assistance is of no avail until the
connexion between mind and body is aroused by any alarm from external
agents. It is well known that a hungry man will dream of an ample repast.
A patient with a blister on his head has fancied himself scalped by
Indians in all their fantastic ornaments. Somnambulism clearly proves that
the mind retains its energies in sleep. Locke has justly observed that
dreams are made up of the waking man's ideas, although oddly put together.
Hartley is of opinion that dreams are nothing but the reveries of sleeping
men, and are deducible from the impressions and ideas lately received, the
state of the body, and association. I have endeavoured to explain, on the
ground of the general effects of predisposition, the anomalies which so
often are displayed in these associations. Of the surprising powers of the
mind in somnambulism we have many instances too well authenticated to be
doubted. Henricus ab Heeres was in the habit of composing in his sleep,
reading aloud his productions, expressing his satisfaction, and calling to
his chamber-fellow to join in the commendation. Cælius Rhodiginus when
busied in his interpretation of Pliny, could only find the proper
signification of the word _ectrapali_ in his slumbers. There is not the
least doubt but that the mind is capable of receiving impressions of
knowledge, but more particularly inspirations of genius, when the body is
lulled in a state of apparent repose. Dreams have been ingeniously
compared to a drama defective in the laws of unity, and unconnected by
constant anachronisms. Yet certain incoherences are not frequent: Darwin
has justly remarked that a woman will seldom dream that she is a soldier,
and a soldier's visions will seldom expose him to the apprehensions of
child-birth. Buffon has observed, "We represent to ourselves persons whom
we have never seen, and such as have been dead for many years; we behold
them alive and such as they were, but we associate them with actual
things, or with persons of other times. It is the same with our ideas of
locality; we see things not where they were, but elsewhere, where they
never could have been."

Dugald Stewart has endeavoured to account for these phenomena by the
doctrine that in sleep the operations of the mind are suspended, and that
therefore the cause of dreams is the loss of power of the will over the
mind, which in the waking condition is subject to its control. Now, if
this be the case, dreams must consist of mental operations independent of
the will. However, it is not the suspension of the will and of the powers
of volition that alone constitutes sleep; it is the suspension of the
powers of the understanding,--attention, comparison, memory, and judgment.
It is in consequence of this suspension of all our active intellectual
faculties that we never can _will_ during our dreams; in that state there
appears to be a resistance of the powers of volition with which the mind
struggles in vain, and which is expressed both by moans, and the character
of the sleeper's every feature, which portrays a state of anguish and
impatience. In all dreams that are not of a morbid nature, every action is
passive, involuntary. This state is widely different from delirium, in
which the brain is in a morbid state of excitement; and the body is more
susceptible than usual of external agency, while the mind is perplexed by
hallucinations of an erroneous nature.

Dr. Abercrombie considers insanity and dreaming as having a remarkable
affinity when considered as mental phenomena; the impressions in the one
case being more or less permanent, and transient in the other.
Somnambulism he considers an intermediate state. Dreams, according to his
theory, are divided into four classes: the first, when recent events and
recent mental emotions are mixed up with each other, and with old events,
by some feeling common to both; the second class relates to trains of
images brought up by association with bodily sensations; the third, the
result of forgotten associations; and the fourth class of dreams contains
those in which a strong propensity of character, or a strong mental
emotion, is imbodied in a dream, and by some natural coincidence is
fulfilled. The following interesting cases that fell under Dr.
Abercrombie's immediate notice, illustrate his views and the above

Regarding the first class, Dr. A. relates the following: "A woman, who was
a patient in the clinical ward of the infirmary of Edinburgh, under the
care of Dr. Duncan, talked a great deal in her sleep, and made numerous
and very distinct allusions to the cases of other sick persons. These
allusions did not apply to any patients who were in the ward at the time;
but, after some observation, they were found to refer correctly to the
cases of individuals who were there when this woman was a patient in the
ward two years before."

The following is an instance of phantasms being produced by our
associations with bodily sensations, and tends to show how alive our
faculties continue during sleep to the slightest impressions:

The subject of this observation was an officer in the expedition to
Louisburg in 1758, who had this peculiarity in so remarkable a degree,
that his companions in the transport were in the constant habit of amusing
themselves at his expense. They could produce in him any kind of dream by
whispering in his ear, especially if this was done by a friend with whose
voice he had become familiar. One time they conducted him through the
whole progress of a quarrel, which ended in a duel; and when the parties
were supposed to have met, a pistol was put into his hand, which he fired,
and was awakened by the report. On another occasion they found him asleep
on the top of a locker in the cabin, when they made him believe he had
fallen overboard, and exhorted him to save himself by swimming. They then
told him that a shark was pursuing him, and entreated him to dive for his
life. He instantly did so, and with so much force as to throw himself from
the locker upon the cabin floor, by which he was much bruised, and
awakened of course. After the landing of the army at Louisburg, his
friends found him one day asleep in his tent, and evidently much annoyed
by the cannonading. They then made him believe that he was engaged, when
he expressed great fear, and showed an evident disposition to run away.
Against this they remonstrated, but at the same time increased his fears
by imitating the groans of the wounded and the dying; and when he asked,
as he often did, who was hit, they named his particular friends. At last
they told him that the man next himself in his company had fallen, when he
instantly sprung from his bed, rushed out of the tent, and was only roused
from his danger and his dream by falling over the tent-ropes. A
remarkable thing in this case was, that after these experiments he had no
distinct recollection of his dreams, but only a confused feeling of
oppression or fatigue, and used to tell his friends that he was sure they
had been playing some trick upon him. It has been observed that we seldom
feel courageous or daring in our dreams, and generally avoid danger when
menaced by a foe, or exposed to any probable peril.

The third class of dreams relates to the revival of forgotten
associations. The person in question was at the time connected with one of
the principal banks in Glasgow, and was at his place at the teller's
table, where money is paid, when a person entered demanding payment of a
sum of six pounds. There were several people waiting, who were in turn
entitled to be attended to before him; but he was remarkably impatient and
rather noisy, and being besides a remarkable stammerer, he became so
annoying, that another gentleman requested him to pay the money and get
rid of him. He did so accordingly, but with an expression of impatience at
being obliged to attend to him before his turn, and thought no more of the
transaction. At the end of the year, which was eight or nine months after,
the books of the bank could not be made to balance, the deficiency being
exactly six pounds. Several days and nights had been spent in endeavouring
to discover the error, but without success, when he returned home much
fatigued, and went to bed. He dreamt of being at his place in the bank,
and the whole transaction of the stammerer, as now detailed, passed before
him in all its particulars. He awoke under the full impression that the
dream would lead him to the discovery of what he was so anxiously in
search of, and on examination he soon discovered that he had neglected to
enter the sum which he had thus paid.

The following singular dreams are examples of the fourth class. A
clergyman had come to Edinburgh from a short distance in the country, and
was sleeping at an inn, when he dreamt of seeing a fire, and one of his
children in the midst of it. He awoke with the impression, and instantly
left town on his return home. When he arrived in sight of his house, he
found it on fire, and got there in time to assist in saving one of his
children, who in the alarm and confusion had been left in a situation of

A gentleman in Edinburgh was affected with aneurism of the popliteal
artery, for which he was under the care of two eminent surgeons, and the
day was fixed for the operation. About two days before the appointed time,
the wife of the patient dreamt that a favourable change had taken place
in the disease, in consequence of which the operation would not be
required. On examining the tumour in the morning, the gentleman was
astonished to find that the pulsation had entirely ceased, and, in short,
this turned out to be a spontaneous cure,--a very rare occurrence in
surgical practice.

The following dream is still more remarkable. A lady dreamt that an aged
female relative had been murdered by a black servant, and the dream
occurred more than once. She was then so impressed by it, that she went to
the house of the lady, and prevailed upon a gentleman to watch in an
adjoining room during the following night. About three o'clock in the
morning, the gentleman, hearing footsteps on the stairs, left his place of
concealment, and met the servant carrying up a quantity of coals. Being
questioned as to where he was going, he replied, in a hurried and confused
manner, that he was going to mend his mistress's fire, which at three
o'clock in the morning in the middle of summer was evidently impossible;
and, on further investigation, a strong knife was found concealed beneath
the coals.

Dreams, to whatever causes they may be attributed, vary according to the
nature of our sleep: if it is sound and natural, they will seldom prevail;
if, on the contrary, it be broken and uneasy, by a spontaneous association
dreams will become fanciful, and might indeed be called visions, so
fantastic and chimerical are all the objects that present themselves in
motley groups to the disturbed mind. This derangement in the sensorium may
be referred to various physical causes,--the sensations of heat or of
cold, obstruction in the course of the circulation of the blood, as when
lying upon the back, a difficult digestion. In a sound sleep our dreams
are seldom remembered except in a vague manner; whereas, in a broken
sleep, as Formey has observed, the impression of the dream remains upon
the mind, and constitutes what this philosopher called "_the lucidity of
dreams_." It not unfrequently happens to us that we have had a similar
dream several times, or at least we labour under this impression; nay,
many persons fancy that particular events of their life at the moment of
their occurrence had clearly taken place at a former period either in
reality or in a dream. Morning "winged dreams" are more easily remembered
in their circumstantial vagaries than those of the preceding night, for at
that period (the morning) our sleep is not sound, and dreams become more
lucid. These _rêvasseries_, as the French call them, are admirably
described by Dryden:

  A dream o'ertook me at my waking hour
  This morn, and dreams they say are then divine,
  When all the balmy vapours are exhal'd,
  And some o'erpow'ring god continues sleep.

That we are more or less impressionable in our sleep is rendered evident
by the facility with which even a sound sleeper is disturbed by the
slightest noise: the sparkling of a fire, or the crackling produced by the
wick of our night-lamp when coming into contact with the water in the
glass, the sting of an insect, the slightest admission of a higher or
lower temperature, will occasion a broken sleep and its dreams. It has
been remarked that the sense of seeing is more frequently acted upon in
dreams than that of hearing, and very seldom do we find our smell and
taste under their influence. It is possible that this peculiarity may
arise from the greater variety of impressions with which the sight is
daily struck, and which memory communicates by association or
retransmission. Next to feeling, vision is the first sense brought into
relation with external objects. When we hear noises, explosions,
tumultuous cries, it is more than probable that our dreams partake of a
delirious and morbid nature, or of sensorial or intellectual
hallucinations, in which the mind is actually diseased, and our
perceptions become erroneous: then we speak loudly to others, and to
ourselves. When these hallucinations prevail after sleep, the invasion of
mania may be apprehended.

Cabanis, in his curious investigations on the mind, has endeavoured to fix
the order in which the different parts of our organization go to sleep.
First the legs and arms, then the muscles that support the head and back:
the first sense that slumbers, according to his notions, is that of sight;
then follow in regular succession the senses of taste, smell, hearing, and
feeling. The viscera fall asleep one after the other, but with different
decrees of soundness. If this doctrine be correct, we may easily conceive
the wild and strange inconsistencies of our dreams, during which the
waking and the sleeping organs are acting and reacting upon each other.

Corporeal sensations and different organic actions frequently attend our
dreams; but these may be attributed to our mode of living, or the
indulgence in certain unruly desires and conversations. That man and
animals dream of the pursuits of the preceding day there can be no doubt:
hence the line,

  Et canis in somnis leporis vestigia latrat.

The effects of a heavy meal, more especially a supper, in disturbing our
rest, was well known and recorded by ancient physicians: and Crato tells
us "that the fittest time to repair to rest is two or three hours after
supper, when the meat is then settled in the bottom of the stomach: and
'tis good to lie on the right side first, because at that side the liver
doth rest under the stomach, not molesting any way, but heating him as a
fire doth a kettle that is put to it. After the first sleep 'tis not amiss
to lie upon the left side, that the meat may the better descend; and
sometimes again on the belly, but never on the back."

Our ancestors had recourse to various devices to procure sound sleep.
Borde recommends a good draught of strong drink before going to bed;
Burton, a nutmeg and ale, with a good potation of muscadine with a toast;
while Ætius recommends a sup of vinegar, which, according to Piso,
"_attenuat melancholiam et ad conciliandum somnum juvat_." Oppression from
repletion will occasion fearful dreams and the night-mare; and bodily
sufferings, when exhaustion has brought on sleep, will also be attended
with alarming and painful visions.

Levinus Lemnius recommended to sleep with the mouth shut, to promote a
regular digestion by the exclusion of too much external air. The
night-mare is admirably described in Dryden's translation of Virgil:

  And as, when heavy sleep has closed the sight,
  The sickly fancy labours in the night,
  We seem to run, and, destitute of force,
  Our sinking limbs forsake us in the course:
  In vain we heave for breath; in vain we cry;
  The nerves, unbraced, their usual strength deny,
  And on the tongue the falt'ring accents die.

In the Runic theology it was regarded as a spectre of the night, which
seized men in their sleep, and suddenly deprived them of speech and of
motion. It was vulgarly called witch-riding, and considered as arising
from the weight of fuliginous spirits incumbent on the breast.

_Somnus ut sit levis, sit tibi coena brevis_, is the ancient axiom of
our distich,

  That your sleep may be light,
  Let your supper be slight.

Notwithstanding this rule of health, it is nevertheless true that many
persons sleep more soundly after a hearty supper; and, most
unquestionably, dreams are more frequent towards morning than in the
beginning of the night. In my opinion, I should apprehend that the sound
sleep of supper-eaters is to be attributed to the narcotic nature of their
potations, more than the meal, although the _siesta_ of southern countries
might be advanced in favour of a contrary opinion.

When philosophers speak of dreams being mental operations independent of
the will, they speak vaguely, for the operations of the mind when we are
awake are too frequently uncontrolled by volition. Did we possess this
power over our rebellious thoughts, who would constantly ponder on a
painful subject? Our thoughts cannot be suspended at will, and their
influence has been beautifully described by Shakspeare:

  My brain I'll prove the female to my soul,
  My soul the father; and these two beget
  A generation of still breeding thoughts.

Volition has no more power over thought when we are awake than sleeping;
and, despite all metaphysical and psychological speculations, it cannot be
demonstrated that the mind does not retain its full energies during sleep,
only they cease to be regulated by judgment, and are not, to use Locke's
words, under the rule and conduct of the understanding; and even on this
opinion it has been fairly observed, that much of incongruity which is
supposed to prove suspension of reason, and much of the wild discordancy
of representation which appears to prevail during our sleep, may arise
from the defect of memory when we are awake, that does not retain the
impression of images which have passed across the mind in light and rapid
succession, and which, therefore, exhibit but a partial and imperfect
sketch of the picture that engaged the attention in sleep. The well-known
fact that the impressions of our dreams are oftentimes more vivid and
correct, when some time has elapsed, than on our awakening, tends to
confirm this hypothesis; and these recollections are the more vivid when
they bear any analogy to circumstances that come to pass.

Sir Thomas Brown was of opinion that sleep was the waking of the soul; the
ligation of sense, but the liberty of reason; and that our waking
conceptions do not match the fancies of our sleep. He thus expresses
himself in his Religio Medici: "At my nativity my ascendant was the watery
sign of Scorpius; I was born in the planetary hour of Saturn, and I think
I have a piece of that leaden planet in me. I am no way facetious, nor
disposed for the mirth and galliardise of company; yet in one dream I can
compose a whole comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests, and laugh
myself awake at the conceits thereof. Were my memory as faithful as my
reason is then fruitful, I would never study but in my dreams, and this
time also would I choose for my devotions; but our grosser memories have
then so little hold of our abstracted understandings, that they forget the
story, and can only relate to our awaked souls a confused and broken tale
of that that hath passed."

Dreams have been considered as prescriptive in various diseases. Diodorus
Siculus relates that a certain Scythian dreamed that Æsculapius had drawn
the humours of his body to one place, or head, to have it lanced. When
Galen had an inflammation of the diaphragm, we are told that he was
directed in a dream to open a vein between the thumb and the fourth
finger--an operation which restored him to health. Marcus Antoninus
asserted that he learned in his dreams various remedies for spitting of
blood. It is related of Sir Christopher Wren, that, when at Paris, in
1671, being disordered with "a pain in his reins," he sent for a
physician, who prescribed blood-letting, but he deferred submitting to it,
and dreamed that very night that he was in a place where palm-trees grew,
and that a woman in a romantic habit offered dates to him. The next day he
sent for dates, which cured him. Now, although this cure, brought about by
a dream, was considered wonderful, its circumstances offer nothing
supernatural. It is more than probable that Sir Christopher had frequently
read in foreign works on medicine, that dates were recommended as an
efficacious remedy in nephritic complaints; and, moreover, had met in his
daily perambulations female quacks, who exhibit themselves to this day in
the French metropolis, fantastically attired, and vending their far-famed
nostrums. That he should have remembered dates, and that the phantasm of
the she-mountebank might at the same time have struck his fancy, were two
associations by no means improbable.

It is very likely that all the strange stories of prophetic dreams might
be traced to a similar connexion of ideas. I have before observed that
dreams do not always assume their complexion from recent occurrences, and
our bodily sufferings during sleep bring to our recollection every
circumstance that regards the malady. A patient who had a bottle of hot
water placed at his feet dreamed that he was walking in great agony in the
burning lava of Vesuvius. Similar associations exist when awake: the man
whose arm has been amputated constantly refers the pain he experiences to
the lost hand, or to that part of the limb which received the injury; and
the very same nervous illusion prevails during his slumbers. A case is
recorded of an officer who had lost his leg, and, when cold, felt comfort
and warmth by wrapping the stump of his wooden leg in flannel.

In various diseases the nature and the period of the invasion of dreams
afford a valuable ground of observation to the physician both in his
diagnosis and prognosis of the case. In incipient hydro-thorax, for
instance, dreams occur at the very moment the patient falls asleep, and he
fancies himself suffocated by some impending and destructive weight.
Diseases of the heart are accompanied by alarming dreams, from which the
patient starts up in great terror. In children the perturbation of their
sleep frequently indicates the seat of their sufferings; and the valuable
researches on the nervous system by Charles Bell have enabled the medical
attendant to read in the features of a sleeping infant whether the malady
be in the head, the cavity of the chest, or the abdomen.

If proof were wanting that dreams arise from our waking thoughts, it might
be found in the circumstance of those sleepers who divulge their secrets,
and verify the lines of Shakspeare:

  There are a kind of men so loose of soul,
  That in their sleep will mutter their affairs.

Reason, therefore, prompts us to reject the idea of dreams being
preternatural suggestions. In general, we may consider them as a morbid
excitement of the brain, arising either from moral or physical causes, and
depending essentially on the condition of our mind and body. Our most
lively hopes are ever linked with fears that prey upon us even when most
secure; and these apprehensions, recurring in our dreams, prove too often
prophetic of the very events we dreaded. The prejudices of early education
shed around these forewarnings circumstantial incidents; and fear is the
greatest ally of superstition.

If our visions by night are fraught with such singular circumstances, our
"day dreams," or _reveries_, are frequently attended with strange
associations. The impressions received during these ecstatic visions or
trances will occasionally act so powerfully upon the mind, that during our
waking hours and the usual pursuits of life we cannot divest ourselves of
the existence of their reality.

Dr. Arnould has given the following curious account of a case of this
kind, as narrated by the individual himself:--"One afternoon in the month
of May, feeling himself a little unsettled and not inclined to business,
he thought he would take a walk into the city to amuse his mind, and
having strolled into St. Paul's Churchyard, he stopped at the shop window
of Carrington and Bowles, and looked at the pictures, among which was one
of the cathedral. He had not been long there before a short grave-looking
elderly gentleman, dressed in dark brown clothes, came up and began to
examine the prints, and occasionally casting a glance at him, very soon
entered into conversation with him, and praising the view of St. Paul's
which was exhibited at the window, told him many anecdotes of Sir
Christopher Wren the architect, and asked him at the same time if he had
ever ascended to the top of the dome. He replied in the negative. The
stranger then inquired if he had dined, and proposed that they should go
to an eating-house in the neighbourhood, adding that after dinner he would
accompany him up St. Paul's. It was a glorious afternoon for a view, and
he was so familiar with the place that he could point out every object
worthy of attention. The kindness of the old gentleman's manner induced
him to comply with the invitation, and they went to a tavern in some dark
alley, the name of which he did not know. They dined and very soon left
the table, and ascended to the ball just below the cross, which they
entered alone.

"They had not been there many minutes, when, while he was gazing on the
extensive prospect and delighted with the splendid scene below him, the
grave gentleman pulled out from an inside coat-pocket something like a
compass, having round the edge some curious figures; then having muttered
some unintelligible words, he placed it in the centre of the ball. He felt
a great trembling, and a sort of horror came over him, which was increased
by his companion asking him if he should like to see any friend at a
distance and to know what he was at that time doing, for if so, the latter
could show him any such person. It happened that his father had been for a
long time in bad health and for some weeks past he had not visited him. A
sudden thought came into his mind, so powerful, that it overcame his
terror, that he should like to see his father. He had no sooner expressed
the wish than the exact person of his father was immediately presented to
his sight in the mirror, reclining in his armchair and taking his
afternoon sleep. Not having fully believed in the power of the stranger to
make good his offer, he became overwhelmed with terror at the clearness
and truth of the vision presented to him, and he entreated his mysterious
companion that they might immediately descend, as he felt himself very
ill. The request was complied with, and on parting under the portico of
the northern entrance, the stranger said to him, 'Remember you are the
slave of the man of the mirror.'"

He returned in the evening to his home, he does not know exactly at what
hour; felt himself unquiet, depressed, gloomy, apprehensive, and haunted
with thoughts of the stranger. For the last three months he has been
conscious of the power of the latter over him. Dr. Arnould adds, "I
inquired in what way his power was exercised? He cast on me a look of
suspicion mingled with confidence, took my arm, and after leading me
through two or three rooms and then into the garden, exclaimed, 'It is of
no use--there is no concealment from him, for all places are alike open to
him--he sees us--and he hears _us now_.' I asked him where the being was
who saw us and heard us? He replied in a voice of deep agitation, 'Have I
not told you that he lives in the ball below the cross on the top of St.
Paul's, and that he only comes down to take a walk in the churchyard and
get his dinner at the house in the dark alley. Since that fatal interview
with the necromancer,' he continued, 'for such I believe him to be, he is
continually dragging me before him in his mirror--he not only sees me
every moment of the day, but he reads all my thoughts, and I have a
dreadful consciousness that no action of my life is free from his
inspection, and no place can afford me security from his power.' On my
reply that the darkness of the night would afford him protection from
these machinations, he said, 'I know what you mean, but you are quite
mistaken--I have only told you of the mirror, but in some part of the
building which he passed on coming away, he showed me what he called a
great bell, and I heard sounds which came from it, and which went to it,
sounds of laughter, and of anger, and of pain; there was a dreadful
confusion of sounds, and I listened with wonder and affright'--he said,
'this is my organ of hearing; this great bell is in communication with all
the other bells within the circle of hieroglyphics, by which every word
spoken by those under my control is made audible to me.' Seeing me look
surprised at him, he said, 'I have not yet told you all, for he practises
his spells by hieroglyphics on walls and houses, and wields his power,
like a detestable tyrant as he is, over the minds of those whom he has
enchanted, and who are the objects of his constant spite within the circle
of his hieroglyphics.' I asked him what these hieroglyphics were, and how
he perceived them? He replied, 'Signs and symbols which you in your
ignorance of their true meaning have taken for letters and words, and
read, as you have thought, _Day and Martin_ and _Warren's blacking_. Oh!
that is all nonsense! they are only the mysterious characters which he
places to mark the boundaries of his dominions, and by which he prevents
all escape from his tremendous power. How I have toiled and laboured to
get beyond the limits of his influence! Once I walked for three days and
three nights, till I fell down under a wall exhausted by fatigue, and
dropped asleep; but on awaking I saw the dreadful sign before my eyes, and
I felt myself as completely under his infernal spell at the end as at the
beginning of the journey.'"

Dr. Pritchard remarks on this singular case of insanity, that this
gentleman had actually ascended to the top of St. Paul's, and that
impressions there received being afterwards renewed in his mind when in a
state of vivid excitement, in a dream or ecstatic revery, became so
blended with the creation of fancy, as to form one mysterious vision, in
which the true and the imaginary were afterwards inseparable.

It is also possible that this person, being of a nervous and susceptible
disposition, had been struck, when on the dizzy height of the cupola, with
a vertigo, or fit, during which these phantasms had struck him in so vivid
a manner as to derange his intellects--the loud and terrific sound of the
bell adding to the horror of his situation. It is well known that persons
have recollected circumstances that occurred around them during an
epileptic and an apoplectic attack. Our worthy visionary was for two years
an inmate of a private asylum.

In regard to the verification of dreams, they may be easily accounted for
by that proneness that most men, especially if of a weak and
impressionable state of mind, experience in courting the object of their
hopes or fears. Thus have the absurd prognostications of fortune-tellers
been too frequently fatal, as we may work up our thoughts to such an
intensity as to bring on the very death that we apprehend. Dr. Pritchard
relates the case of a clergyman, in an indifferent state of health, who,
when standing one day at the corner of a street, saw a funeral procession
approaching him. He waited till it came near him, saw all the train pass
him, with black nodding plumes, and read his own name on the coffin, which
was carried by, and entered, with the whole procession, into the house
where he resided. This was the commencement of an illness which put an end
to his life in a few days.

During a severe fever, in the peninsula, my nightly rest was constantly
disturbed by the threatening appearance of animals with fearful horns and
antlers, incessantly hovering about me. For a long time after my recovery
the spectral illusion continued, and every horse or mule that passed by
me appeared to be armed with immense horns.

It is to be feared that, notwithstanding the ingenuity of the many
physiologists who have sought to investigate the nature of dreams, we
shall never come to any satisfactory conclusion, since we follow too
frequently the example of the German philosopher, Lesage, who, in his
endeavour to throw some light on this obscure subject, sought to ascertain
the intermediate condition of the mind when passing from the waking state
into sleep, a transition which never has been, and, most probably, never
can be ascertained, since sleep, to a certain degree, is a suspension of
all power of attention, perception, volition, and every spontaneous


Amongst the various moral and physical remedies introduced by the
priesthood and physicians for the benefit of society, flagellation once
held a most distinguished rank. As a remedy, it was supposed to reanimate
the torpid circulation of the capillary or cutaneous vessels, to increase
muscular energy, promote absorption, and favour the necessary secretions
of our nature. No doubt, in many instances, its action as a revulsive may
be beneficial; and urtication, or the stinging with nettles, has not
unfrequently been prescribed with advantage. As a religious discipline,
for such has this system of mortification been called, it has been
considered as most acceptable to Heaven; so much so, indeed, that the
fustigation was commensurate with the sinner's offence. Under the head of
Dæmonomania I have endeavoured to show that whipping was equally agreeable
to the evil spirit, who delighted in flogging the elect.

It appears that at this period a belief prevailed that heavenly mercy
restored the grace that had been forfeited, commuting for temporal
punishment that which else would have been eternal. The monks of Fonte
Avellana, for instance, had decreed that thirty psalms, said or sung, with
an accompaniment of one hundred stripes to each psalm, would be considered
as a set-off for one year of purgatory; and, by this calculation, the
whole psalter, which would have demanded fifteen thousand stripes, would
have procured a relief of five years from the fiery ordeal. It was no
doubt under this impression that St. Dominic the Cuirassier, so named from
his wearing, day and night, an iron cuirass next his skin, and which he
never took off, adopted this same covering when, upon entering into
priest's orders, his parents presented the bishop who ordained him with a
rich fur garment, an offence for which the holy man wished to atone by
donning an iron vestment.

This said madman belonged to the congregation of Fonte Avellana, the monks
of which never touched either wine or oil, and, during five days of the
week, lived upon bread and water; moreover, every day after service they
flogged each other. Dominic, in extenuation of his family's offence in
having presented his diocesan with a luxurious gown, lashed himself at the
rate of ten psalters, and thirty thousand lashes _per diem_; by which he
calculated that he was redeeming three thousand six hundred and fifty
years of purgatorial torments _per annum_: but, in addition to this
wholesome allowance, he humbly petitioned his superior to allow him,
during Lent, a supplementary punishment of one hundred years, when his
day's work was two psalters and a half, and thirty-four thousand five
hundred lashes. This punishment did not seem sufficient in his eyes to
propitiate the Creator; and St. Pietro Damiano informs us that, during the
Lenten days, he actually recited the psalter two hundred times, with a
_crescendo_ accompaniment of sixty millions of stripes. It was on this
occasion that Yepes shrewdly observed, that he marvelled less at a man's
head being able to retain so many verses than that his arm was able to
carry on such a flagellation; or, to use his own words, how his flesh,
unless made of iron, could resist such a castigation. This blessed man
must have been endowed with powers that were increased by exertion, since
we find that his ambition gave him such energy, that once beginning his
operations in the evening, and singing and flogging, and flogging and
singing, _con amore_, through the day and night, at the expiration of
twenty-four hours he had gone through the psalms twelve times, begun them
a thirteenth time, and proceeded as far as _Beati quorum_, the
thirty-second psalm; having inflicted upon himself one hundred and
eighty-three thousand one hundred stripes, thereby reducing purgatorial
stock to the amount of sixty-one years, twelve days, and thirty-three
minutes, to a fraction.

It would be perfectly idle and absurd for any freethinker to doubt this
fact, recorded by an eyewitness--Pietro Damiano, a saint, and moreover a
cardinal; and Calmet himself maintains that no man should dare to doubt a
saint's assertion, more especially when speaking of another beatified
person. Notwithstanding this assertion, a stiff-necked arithmetician
calculated that, if during these twenty-four hours the saint had given
himself two blows every second, the number of lashes would only have
amounted to one hundred and seventy-two thousand eight hundred, being ten
thousand three hundred short of the amount stated! However, this
difficulty was overcome by Father Castaniza, who makes up the amount by
maintaining that he made use of cats with ten tails, and therefore had
actually a balance in his favour in his _winding_-sheet.[28]

_Ubi stimulus ibi affluxus_, has been a physiological axiom since the days
of Hippocrates; and flagellation thus employed is only a modification of
blistering, or exciting the skin by any other irritating method. The moral
influence of flagellation in the treatment of different diseases has been
appreciated by the ancients: it was strongly recommended by the disciples
of Asclepiades, by Cælius Aurelianus, and since by Rhasis and Valescus, in
the treatment of mania. No doubt, the terror which this castigation
inspires may tend materially to facilitate the management of the insane.
To the present day this opinion has prevailed to a revolting degree, and
it is no easy matter for the humane physician to convince a keeper of the
cruelty or inutility of this practice. Seldom or never does this harsh
management become necessary: I had charge of a military lunatic asylum for
a considerable time, and, with one exception, never found myself warranted
in causing corporal punishment to be inflicted, notwithstanding the
association of ideas of discipline which such a chastisement must have
produced amongst men then exposed to the capricious infliction of the
lash. The case to which I allude was one of a Sergeant N--, who had twice
attempted my life, and who fully remembered every circumstance in the
remissions of his malady; so much so, indeed, that doubts were entertained
in the minds of the casual visiter as to the real condition of his mental
faculties; and in the establishment now under my superintendence a keeper
is discharged when convicted of having struck a patient _under any

To return from this digression: the authoritative power of man over the
brute creation is daily witnessed, even with unruly and ferocious
animals; and there are, no doubt, cases where bodily punishment becomes
indispensable, when the body will feel what the judgment cannot
comprehend. Boerhaave relates the case of a hypochondriac who swore that
his legs were made of straw; but an officious servant-maid, who was
sweeping the room, struck him across the shins with her broomstick, and
soon brought him to a sense of his erroneous impression.

Flagellation draws the circulation from the centre of our system to its
periphery. It has been known in a fit of ague to dispel the cold stage.
Galen had observed that horse-dealers were in the habit of bringing their
horses into high condition by a moderate fustigation; and therefore
recommended this practice to give _embonpoint_ to the lean. Antonius Musa
treated a sciatica of Octavius Augustus by this process. Elidæus Paduanus
recommends flagellation or urtication when the eruption of exanthematic
diseases is slow in its development. Thomas Campanella records the case of
a gentleman whose bowels could not be relieved without his having been
previously whipped.

Irritation of the skin has been often observed to be productive of similar
effects. The erotic irregularities of lepers is well authenticated; and
various other cutaneous diseases, which procure the agreeable relief that
scratching affords, have brought on the most pleasurable sensations. There
exists a curious letter of Abelard to his Eloisa, in which he says,
"Verbera quandoque dabat amor, non furor; gratia, non ira; quæ omnium
unguentorum suavitatem transcenderent."

This effect of flagellation may be easily referred to the powerful
sympathy that exists between the nerves of the lower part of the spinal
marrow and other organs. Artificial excitement appears in some degree
natural: it is observed in various animals, especially in the feline
tribe. Even snails plunge into each other a bony and prickly spur that
arises from their throats, and which, like the sting of the wasp,
frequently breaks off and is left in the wound.

In the monastic orders of both sexes, flagellation became a refined art.
Flagellation was of two species, the upper and the lower; the upper
inflicted upon the shoulders, the lower chiefly resorted to when females
were to be fustigated. This mode was adopted, according to their
assertions, from the accidents that might have happened in the upper
flagellation, where the twisting lash might have injured the sensitive
bosom. In addition to this device, nudity was also insisted upon. In the
article Dæmonomania I have recorded various abominations of the kind. Nor
was it only amongst religious orders and their followers that this custom
obtained. It was practised by ladies of high rank amongst their commensals
and attendants. Brantome gives us a curious and quaint account of this
amusing castigation. Mademoiselle de Limeuil, one of the queen's maids of
honour, was flagellated for having written a pasquinade, in company with
all the young ladies who had been privy to the composition. And on another
occasion he tells us: "J'ai ouï parler d'une grande dame de par le monde,
voire grandissime, mariée et veuve, qui faisait dépouiller ses dames et
filles, je dis les plus belles, et se délectait fort à les voir, et puis
elle les battait du plat de la main, avec de grandes clacquades et
blamuses assez rudes; et les filles qui avaient délinqué en quelque chose,
avec de bonnes verges, et elle les clacquait ainsi selon le sujet qu'elles
lui en donnaient, pour les faire ou rire ou pleurer."

The minions of Henry III. of France, and other princes, were decked in
white robes, then stripped, and whipped in procession for the
gratification of their royal masters. Not unfrequently the ladies
themselves were the executioners in cases where any man had offended them;
and the adventure of Clopinel the poet is worth relating. This unfortunate
wight had written the following lines on the fair sex:

  Toutes êtes, serez, ou fûtes,
  De fait ou de volonté putes;
  Et qui bien vous chercherait
  Toutes putes vous trouverait.

This libellous effusion naturally excited the indignation of the ladies at
court, who decided that Clopinel should be flagellated by the plaintiffs
without mercy; and it is difficult to say to what extent they might have
carried their vengeance but for a timely witticism of the culprit, who
piteously addressing the angry yet beauteous group around him with
uplifted arm and rod, humbly entreated that the first blow might be struck
by the honourable damsel who felt herself the most aggrieved. It is
needless to add that not a lash was inflicted.

Medical men were frequently consulted as to the adoption of the upper or
lower discipline, as flagellation on the shoulders was said to injure the
eyesight. It was from the fear of this accident that the lower discipline
was generally adopted amongst nuns and female penitents, as appears by the
following rule: "Quippe cum eâ de causâ capucini, multæque moniales,
virorum medicorum ac piorum hominum consilio, ascesim flagellandi sursum
humeros reliquerint, ut sibi nates lumbosque strient asperatis virgis, ac
nodosis funiculis conscribillent."

In a medical point of view, urtication, or stinging with nettles, is a
practice not sufficiently appreciated. In many instances, especially in
cases of paralysis, it is more efficacious than blistering or stimulating
frictions. Its effects, although perhaps less permanent, are more general
and diffused over the limb. This process has been found effectual in
restoring heat to the lower extremities; and a case of obstinate lethargy
was cured by Corvisart by repeated urtication of the whole body. During
the action of the stimulus, the patient, who was a young man, would open
his eyes and laugh, but sink again into profound sleep. His perfect cure,
however, was obtained in three weeks.


THE LIFE OF ALL FLESH IS THE BLOOD THEREOF. On this doctrine, expressed in
the Mosaic books, many of the olden writers founded their hypothesis that
blood was the principle of life. It is, however, more than probable that
this opinion was derived from a more ancient ritual than the Levitical
code, since we find a similar belief among the Parsees, Hindoos, and other
Oriental nations of very remote antiquity, who no doubt owed the practice
of abstaining from blood to the early patriarchs.

The Greeks and the Romans, if we take the expressions of their poets as
being conclusive, entertained similar notions regarding the vital fluid;
and the "purple death" of Homer and "the purple life" of Virgil, are
phrases evidently applicable to this theory, which Critias, Empedocles,
and their sects maintained. This opinion, however, does not appear to have
dictated the expressions made use of by Moses. When he says "the life of
all flesh is the blood thereof," it merely signifies that when the blood
is abstracted death ensues; a circumstance that must have been daily and
hourly observed. It is probable that this injunction was promulgated to
check the barbarous custom of devouring raw meat, which seems to have
prevailed long before the Jewish legislator. We read in Genesis ix. 4,
"Flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not
eat." From this circumstance we may infer that, like the Abyssinians of
Bruce's time, the Jews were in the habit of tearing and cutting flesh from
live animals. Saul's army was guilty of a similar practice. It therefore
behoved their legislators to oppose a custom that increased the natural
ferocity and cruelty of the nation they ruled.

This theory of the ancients has been frequently revived in modern times,
and has not a little contributed to increase the mystery that veils the
nature of our existence. Harvey, who discovered the circulation of the
blood, was a convert to this doctrine; Hoffman also adopted it; and Huxham
not only fully believed in it, but sought the immediate part of the blood
that constituted life, and fancied that he had discovered it in its red
particles. It was John Hunter, however, who first established the system
on any thing like a rational basis, although his arguments on the subject
have led to much doubt and illiberal controversy. "The difficulty," says
he, "of conceiving that blood is endowed with life while circulating,
arises merely from its being a fluid, and the mind not being accustomed to
the idea of a living fluid. I shall endeavour," he continues, "to show
that organization and life do not in the least depend upon each other;
that organization may arise out of living parts and produce action; but
that life can never arise out of or produce organization." The errors of
this doctrine are obvious, and have led many ingenious physiologists into
a maze of idle wandering. The fact is, that life is the instrument of
organization, or, in other words, organization is the result of life. The
embryo could not be developed, did not the fluid that animates it possess
a principle of vitality which it communicates to a body previously
organized. In this confusion the word "life" has sometimes been applied to
the power, and at others to the result. Without organization, life cannot
be transmitted; and the moment the principle of life ceases, a
disorganization, more or less rapid, ensues.

The doctrine of the vitality of the blood has very lately been maintained
by several physiologists. Professor Schultz speaks of an active vital
process which can be seen constantly going on between the individual
molecules of the blood and the substance of the vessels; but Muller
asserts that, during ten years, he examined the circulation of the blood
in various parts, at every opportunity and with different instruments,
but had never seen what Schultz describes--the constant assimilation,
disappearance, and new formation of the globules; nor had Rudolphi,
Purkinje, Koch, and Meyer, been more successful in their investigation;
and Muller further maintains that the motion of these red particles in the
circulation is purely passive, which may be proved by compressing the
vessels of the limb, or the limb itself.

Eber and Meyer pretended that these red particles were infusory animals.
On this important and curious subject I shall quote Muller's opinion: "The
question whether the blood be living fluid or not, calls to mind a
critical state of our science. Every thing which evidences an action which
cannot be explained by the laws of inorganic matter, is said to have an
organic, or, what is the same thing, a vital property. To regard merely
the solids of the body as living, is incorrect, for there are strictly no
organic solids; in nearly all, water constitutes four-fifths of their
weight. Although, then, organic matter generally be considered as merely
'susceptible of life,' and the organized parts as 'living,' yet the blood
also must be regarded as endowed with life, for its action cannot be
comprehended from chemical and physical laws. The semen is not merely a
stimulus for the fructification of the egg, for it impregnates the eggs of
the Batrachia and fishes out of the body; and the form, endowments, and
even tendencies to disease, of the father, are transferred to the new
individual. The semen, therefore, although a fluid, is evidently endowed
with life, and is capable of imparting life to matter. The impregnable
part of the egg, the germinal membrane, is a completely unorganized
aggregation of animal matter; but, nevertheless, is animated with the
whole organizing power of the future being, and is capable of imparting
life to a new matter, although soft, and nearly allied to a fluid. The
blood also evidences organic properties; it is attracted by living organs,
which are acted upon by vital stimuli. There subsists between the blood
and the organized parts a reciprocal vital action, in which the blood has
as large a share as the organs in which it circulates."

This doctrine is, no doubt, ingenious, but I do not consider it as
conclusive. It is not because that in inflammation, the blood becoming
solid, forming pseudo membranes, which are shortly after supplied with a
proportion of blood-vessels, blood possesses life. If this adventitious
coagulation were not supplied with blood, it would prove a foreign body;
but it is not, therefore, shown that the circumstance of its possessing
vitality after its formation is a proof of the life of the blood; it only
shows that the secretions of the blood are endowed with a susceptibility
of life, when having assumed a solid form, needing vessels for its
support. I shall not dwell longer on a professional question of great
interest, but which would need a development foreign to the nature of
these sketches.

The Greeks had distinct appellations for the cause and result of life; the
former they termed [Greek: psychê] the latter [Greek: zôê]. The essential
nature of life is, and most probably will ever remain, an impenetrable
mystery. Living matter is endowed with a property which we call life; but
to find out to what we may venture to attribute this property, is a vain
and hypothetical attempt. Equally vain and absurd have been the endeavours
to ascertain whether life began at the creation to be subsequently
transmitted from parent to offspring, or owed its origin to a spontaneous
generation from matter. Many ancient philosophers considered matter as
eternal: such was the doctrine of the Pythagoreans; amongst whom we must
particularly notice Lucanus Ocellus, whose system, developed in a work
written in the Attic dialect, was adopted by Aristotle, Plato, and
Philo-Judæus. This work was first translated into Latin by Nogarola. These
doctrines led to the unanswerable question, What was this matter--this
_invisa materia_--from which every thing visible has proceeded? Has it
existed from all eternity, or has it been called into being by the
Creator? Has it uniformly exhibited its present harmonious arrangement, or
was it once a waste and shapeless chaos? Was this matter endowed with
intelligence as a whole, or in its separate fractions?

The eternity of matter was maintained by these philosophers from the
belief that _no thing could be created out of nothing, and that no thing
could ever return to nonentity_. Such was the doctrine of the Epicureans,
of Democritus, and of Aristotle. The poets were of the same belief; and
Lucretius expresses himself as follows:

          Ubi viderimus nihil posse creari
  De nihilo, tune, quod sequimur, jam rectiùs inde

Persius maintains the same idea:

  De nihilo nil, in nihilum nil posse reverti.

This dogma was no doubt transmitted to the Greeks from the East; and, to
the present day, it is a doctrine of the Brahminical creed, clearly
expressed in the following terms in their Yajur Veid: "The ignorant assert
that the universe in the beginning did not exist in its author, and that
it was created out of nothing. O ye, whose hearts are pure! how could
something arise out of nothing?" The fathers of the church embraced a
similar belief; and Justin Martin says that "the word of God formed the
world out of _unfashioned matter_. This Moses distinctly asserts, Plato
and his adherents maintain, and ourselves have been taught to believe."

Such was the doctrine of the schools that professed the eternal nature of
matter. Other philosophers supported as warmly a different opinion. Thales
of Miletus, Zeno of Citium, Xenocrates, and Dicearchus the Messenian,
insisted that the human race had a first origin at a period when mankind
did not exist. According to this hypothesis, the universe is an emanation
or extension of the essence of the Creator. Zeno and the Stoics attribute
this creation to the universal elements of fire and water. Anaximander the
Milesian asserted that the primitive animals were formed of earth and
water mixed together, heated and animated by the solar rays; these aquatic
creatures became amphibious, and were gradually transformed into the human
races. Strange to say, this extraordinary idea has found proselytes even
in our days, and was advocated by Professor De Lamark in his Zoological
Philosophy. This fancy pervades the poetry of the ancients. Homer makes
Tethys, the wife of Ocean, the daughter of Uranus and Terra, the first
parents; and Hesiod, in his Cosmogony, raises Venus and Proteus from the
foam of the sea.

The vital and intellectual fire of the ancients that animated all living
beings was admitted by most of their physicians, especially by
Hippocrates, Galen, and Aretæus. Aristotle describes an universal creative
agent in all the elements, the source of life upon earth, and of the
celestial movements in the firmament. Descartes, in modern times,
maintained that a vital flame existed in the heart of every animal. This
fire, and the genial warmth that it diffused, was considered the soul of
the universe; and on this subject Gassendi expresses himself as follows:
"Si quis velit talem calorem etiam animam dicere, nihil est similiter quod

It was natural for man, even in an uncivilized state, to attribute to
solar heat the same influence on animals as was manifest in its actions
upon plants. When life had fled, the inanimate corpse was cold, and
caloric was therefore considered the principle of vitality. It was from
this conviction that we find the sun and fire objects of adoration both in
ancient times and amongst savages to the present day. Fire is idolized by
the Tartars, and various African tribes. The Yakouts, a Siberian horde,
believe that the deity of good and evil has taken his abode in this
supposed element. The Columbian Indians were fire-worshippers; and Pallas
informs us that the Chinese on the confines of Siberia held it in such
religious respect, that they never attempted to extinguish it even when
their dwellings were burning.

The doctrine of man and the universe having been created an emanation of
the Creator, renders the Creator material, or matter itself; matter being
considered intelligent, and susceptible of this organization. This was the
belief of the Brahmins, and was no doubt transmitted to the Academic and
Eleatic schools of Greece by Pythagoras. We find in the Yajur Veid,
already alluded to, the following passages, that clearly demonstrate this
belief: "The whole universe is the Creator, proceeds from the Creator, and
returns to him. The ignorant assert that the universe in the beginning did
not exist in its author, and that it was created out of nothing. O ye,
whose hearts are pure! how could something arise out of nothing? This
first being alone, and without likeness, was the ALL in the beginning. He
could multiply himself under different forms. He created fire from his
essence, which is light." And further: "Thou art Brahma! thou art Vishnu!
thou art Kodra! thou art the moon! thou art substance! thou art Djam! thou
art the earth! thou art the world!"

These Brahminical doctrines were, beyond doubt, also held by the Greeks.
In a poem ascribed to the fabled Orpheus we find the following lines,
translated by Mason Good with as much correctness as elegance:

  Jove first exists, whose thunders roll above,
  Jove last, Jove midmost; all proceeds from Jove.
  Female is Jove--immortal Jove is male;
  Jove the broad earth--the heavens' irradiate pale.
  Jove is the boundless spirit, Jove the fire,
  That warms the world with feeling and desire;
  The sea is Jove, the sun, the lunar ball;
  Jove king supreme, the sovereign source of all.
  All power is his; to him all glory give,
  For his vast form embraces all that live.

It may be easily imagined that a subject so recondite and obscure must
have led philosophers into the wildest speculations. By some, life was
considered as the result of a general consent or harmony between the
different organs of which the vital frame is formed; while, as we have
seen, many have attributed its phenomena to the blood. That blood, to a
certain extent, is endowed with vitality is beyond a doubt; Hunter has
endeavoured to prove the fact by various experiments. It is capable of
being acted upon and contracting like the solid fibres; this we daily
witness when blood is coagulated and comes into contact with the
atmosphere. It preserves an equality of temperature in whatever medium an
animal may move. He also has shown that this fluid can form solid vessels
of every description; and its life is also proved by the death inflicted
when any excessive stimulus destroys the muscular fibre. Thus, in a body
struck with lightning, the muscles remain flaccid and uncontracted, while
the blood preserves its fluidity, and is left uncoagulated.

All this specious reasoning shows that blood is a living fluid, but does
not in the slightest degree demonstrate to what principle this vitality is
to be attributed. It merely proves that every part of a living animal,
whether solid or fluid, is endowed with a certain degree of life; but
leaves us in impenetrable darkness as to the nature of life. The one
cannot be killed without the other; and, as Mason Good justly observes,
"that which is at one time alive, and at another dead, cannot be life
itself." It is clear that life cannot exist without blood, but at the same
time it is equally evident that the blood is merely a secretion of the
living system, and dependent upon the action of the solids, which
influence its quantities and properties.[29]

It is from this notion of the vitality of the blood that the absurd idea
of transfusing it was first conceived. Transfusion consisted in the
injection of the arterial blood of young and healthy animals into the
veins of the aged and the debilitated. It was about forty years after the
discovery of the circulation of the blood by Harvey that this singular
project was tried upon animals, and afterwards upon man. Medicated liquids
had already been introduced in Germany into the system by this method,
principally by Wahrendorf. Dr. Christopher Wren, an English physician, was
the first who proposed the injection of blood, and Dr. Lower put it into
practice. The result of his experiments seemed to warrant their adoption.
An animal was drained of a considerable proportion of blood, and lay faint
and expiring; but the blood of another animal being thrown into the
languid system, active circulation was restored, and the patient ran about
with as much facility as before the experiment. When too great a quantity
of blood was injected, the creature became drowsy, and shortly after died
of plethora.

These experiments were reported by the transfusers with many absurd
details. In one case a simpleton had become witty by a supply of lamb's
blood; in another, an old mangy cur was cured by the vital fluid of a
young spaniel; a blind old dog, transfused by a Mr. Gayant, bounded and
frisked about like a young pup. Dr. Blundel seriously conceived that this
operation might be practised with great advantage in cases of hæmorrhage,
more especially in women.

Of late years these curious experiments have again been tried with
singular results. Prevost and Dumas have shown that the vivifying power of
the blood does not reside so much in the serum as in the red particles. An
animal bled to syncope, is not revived by the injection of water or pure
serum of a temperature of 68° Fahrenheit into its vessels. But if blood of
one of the same species is used, the animal seems to acquire fresh life at
every stroke of the piston, and is at last restored. Diemenbach has
confirmed these experiments. It is also stated by these physiologists,
that revival takes place likewise when the blood injected had been
previously deprived of its fibrin.

Another very singular fact has been elicited by these experiments; blood
of animals of a different genus, of which the corpuscules, though of the
same form, have a different size, effects an imperfect restoration, and
the animal generally dies in six days.

The injection of blood with circular corpuscules into the vessels of a
bird (in which the corpuscules are elliptic and of a larger size) produces
violent symptoms similar to those of the strongest poisons, and generally
death, which ensues indeed instantaneously, even when a small quantity
only of the blood has been injected. Such, for example, was the effect of
the transfusion of some blood of the sheep into the veins of a duck; while
in many cases in which the blood of sheep and oxen were injected into the
vessels of cats and rabbits, these animals were revived for a few days.
The fact of the blood of mammalia being poisonous to birds is very
remarkable; it cannot be explained mechanically. The injection of fluids
containing globules of greater diameter than the capillary vessels of the
injected animal most probably produces death, by obstructing the pulmonary
vessels and producing suffocation; but the globules of the blood in
mammalia are even smaller than those of birds. In Dieffenbach's
experiments, pigeons were killed by a few drops only of the blood of
mammalia, and the blood of fishes, it is asserted, is as fatal to mammalia
as to birds.

These interesting facts have been confirmed by Dr. Bischoff. In all his
experiments made with the fresh blood of mammalia, birds died within a few
seconds after the transfusion, with violent symptoms resembling those of
poisoning; but when, instead of the fresh unchanged blood, he injected
blood from which the fibrin had been removed by stirring, and which was
heated to a proper temperature, he was surprised to find that no such
symptoms were produced, the animal not appearing to suffer any

It seems indeed from these experiments, that the blood of an animal of a
different class, is not adapted for the operation.

When transfusion was first proposed in France, it met with furious
opponents; and Lamartinière declared that it was a barbarous operation
proceeding from Satan's workshop. The controversy between the transfusers
and their adversaries was at length carried on with such virulence, that
in 1668 the practice was forbidden by a decree of the Châtelet, unless the
operation had been sanctioned by the faculty of Paris. In Italy it
continued to be in vogue. Riva and Manfredi frequently performed it; and a
physician of the name of Simboldus submitted himself to the experiment.
According to the accounts given by the patients who had been thus
injected, they first experienced an increased heat with violent pulsation,
profuse perspiration with pains in the loins and stomach, and a sense of
suffocation. Violent vomiting frequently arose, and the patient gradually
sank into a torpid and heavy sleep. Whatever may be the theoretical
ingenuity in favour of this practice, it is not probable that it will ever
be adopted.

While young blood was thus supposed to give fresh vigour to the aged, the
heat communicated by young persons to debilitated bedfellows was also
resorted to. This practice seems to have been founded on observation. It
is an acknowledged fact that an uncommon depression of vital power takes
place in the young when such experiments are tried. This abstraction of
vital power is frequently observed in young females married to very old
men. In illustration of this fact, Dr. Copeland relates the following
case: "I was a few years since consulted about a pale, sickly, and thin
boy of about five or six years of age. He appeared to have no specific
ailment; but there was a slow and remarkable decline of flesh and
strength, and of the energy of all the functions,--what his mother very
aptly termed 'a gradual blight.' After inquiring into the history of the
case, it came out that he had been a very robust and plethoric child up to
his third year, when his grandmother, a very aged person, took him to
sleep with her; that he soon afterwards lost his good looks, and that he
had continued to decline progressively ever since, notwithstanding
medical treatment. I directed him to sleep apart from his aged parent, and
prescribed gentle tonics, change of air, &c., and the recovery was very

This selfish indulgence of the aged in endeavouring to deprive their young
bedfellows of heat and strength has been often remarked; and young women
thus circumstanced have shrewdly suspected the cause of their debilitated
condition. It is extremely probable that in these cases electricity is
conducted from one body to another. This hypothesis is in some degree
confirmed by the experiments made upon Casper Hauser by Von Feuerbach.
This Casper Hauser had been kept from infancy until he was eighteen years
of age in a perfectly dark cage, without leaving it, and where he never
saw a living creature or heard the voice of man. He was restricted from
using his limbs, his voice, his hands, or senses; and his food consisted
of bread and water only, which he found placed by him when wakening from
his sleep. When exposed in Nuremberg, in 1828, he was consequently at
eighteen years as if just come into the world, and as incapable of
walking, discerning objects, or conveying his impressions, as a newly born
infant. These faculties, however, he soon acquired; and he was placed
under an able instructor, who has recorded his singular history. Darkness
had been to him twilight. The light of day was at first insupportable,
inflamed his eyes, and brought on spasms. Substances, the odour of which
could not be perceived by others, produced severe effects upon him. The
smell of a glass of wine, even at a distance, occasioned headache; of
fresh meat, sickness; and of flowers, a painful sensation. Passing by a
churchyard with Dr. Daumer, the smell of dead bodies, although altogether
imperceptible to the doctor, affected the young man so powerfully as to
occasion shudderings, followed by feverish heat, terminating in a violent
perspiration. He retained a great aversion, owing to their disagreeable
taste and smell, to all kinds of food excepting bread and water.

When the north pole of a small magnet was held towards him, he described a
drawing sensation proceeding outwards from the epigastrium, and _as if a
current of air went from him_. The south pole affected him less, and he
said it blew upon him. Professor Daumer and Hermann made several
experiments of the kind, calculated to deceive him, and, even although the
magnet was held at a considerable distance from him, his feelings always
told him very correctly. These experiments always occasioned perspiration
and a feeling of indisposition. He could detect metals placed under
oil-cloths, paper, &c. by the sensation they occasioned. He described
these sensations as a drawing, accompanied with a chill, which ascended,
according to the metal, more or less up the arm, and attended with other
distinctive feelings, the veins of the hand exposed to the metal becoming
visibly swollen.

The variety and multitude of objects which at once came rushing upon his
attention when he thus suddenly came into existence, the unaccustomed
impressions of light, free air, and sense, and his anxiety to comprehend
them, were too much for his weak frame and acute senses: he became
dejected and enfeebled, and his nervous system morbidly elevated. He was
subject to spasms and tremors, so that partial exclusion from external
excitements became for a time requisite. After he had learned regularly to
eat meat, his mental activity was diminished; his eyes lost their
brilliancy and expression; the intense application and activity of his
mind gave way to absence or indifference, and the quickness of
apprehension became diminished. It may be questioned whether this
alteration proceeded from the change of diet, or the painful excess of
excitement that had preceded it.

Among the various doctrines regarding the creation of animals, that of
_Panspermia_ was most ingenious and attractive. According to this theory,
maintained by Anaxagoras and Heraclitus, all bodies contained the germ or
the organic molecules necessary for their generation. Hippocrates favoured
this idea, as plainly appears in his book _de Diætâ_; and in modern times
Perrault, Gésik, Wollaston, Sturm, and other physiologists, have
endeavoured to revive the doctrine, of which the organic molecules of
Buffon and the living molecules of Ray were merely modifications. The
expression in Genesis which sanctions the belief that the earth
spontaneously germinated its productions, cannot be referred to the animal
kingdom. Were this the case, similar animals would be found in every
quarter of the globe. Spontaneous generation was also attributed to
putrefaction; and Virgil describes the manner in which Aristæus drew forth
a swarm of bees from the corrupted entrails of a heifer. Pliny admits the
spontaneous creation of rats, mice, frogs, and other small tribes of
animals. These errors, however, were soon dispelled by the light thrown on
the subject by the microscopic experiments of Valisnéri, Swammerdam,
Réaumur, and many other naturalists, who discovered sexual organs in all
these supposed self-created individuals.

This doctrine was the foundation of the classification of the generative
principle into _equivocal_ and _univocal generations_,--the former the
effect of putrefaction, but which in reality was _univocal_, since it was
soon ascertained that this production arose from the incubation of
numerous eggs deposited by various insects and animalculi in these
corrupted bodies. The following experiment afforded a convincing proof of
the fact: A piece of meat was placed in an open vessel, and another in a
vase hermetically closed; so soon as these animal substances entered into
decomposition, myriads of insects pullulated in the exposed meat, whereas
that which was protected from external agency remained free from this

It is a recognised fact that it is only through organized beings that
organization can be transmitted; for how can corrupt substances, dead and
deprived of vitality, give life to any organized matter? Generation is
life; putrescence is death. By a law of nature, generation may be said
ultimately to destroy the generative powers; a striking illustration of
mortality, since life is transmitted at the expense of our very existence,
and many individuals in the catenation of organized beings perish the very
moment that they have tended to perpetuate their race. Death advances with
rapid strides in the very ratio of the energies of life; and the surest
method to attain longevity is to be sparing in the exercise of our
exhausting faculties.

  Et quasi vitaï lampada tradunt.

_Latent_ or insensible life, such as that of the seeds of plants, or the
animal enveloped in its egg, may last for a number of years, so long as
they are able to germinate; here vitality is not worn out by relative
life. Various species of the snail, the wheel-polybe, the tile-eel, and
divers animalcules, have been kept apparently dead, and in the form of
dried preparations, withered and hardened, for months and even years, but
have afterwards been restored to life by the agency of warmth, moisture,
and other stimulants. Snails have been thus reanimated after a lapse of
fifteen years; and Bauer revived the _Vibrio tritici_, after an apparent
death of five years and eight months, by merely soaking it in water.
Adders have been found in hard winters not only completely frozen but
absolutely brittle, yet have been restored to life when thawed. A shower
of fragments of ice has fallen at Leicester, containing the horsehair eel,
with the nuclei of a greater number. Colonel Wilks found eggs in the solid
rocks of St. Helena susceptible of being hatched. The vitality in the
seeds of plants is truly amazing; barley taken out of the bodies of
mummies, Indian corn discovered in the tomb of a Peruvian Inca, and the
bulb of an onion found in the hand of a mummy 3000 years old have been
sown and have thriven luxuriantly. The most intense heat cannot destroy
the vital property. The seeds of roasted apples, the kernels of baked
prunes and boiled elder-berries have germinated. Sir John Herschel found
that the _Acacia Lophanta_ lived after having been steeped in boiling
water for twelve hours, and Ludwig informs us that the seeds of a species
of cedar only germinated after ebullition. Fresh-water shells have been
found in the thermal waters of Gastein at a temperature of 117°, and
Niebuhr found a conferva growing in water at 142°. Raspberry-seeds taken
from the corpse of an ancient Briton, contemporaneous with the Druids,
have produced fruit when recommitted to the earth.

Some have endeavoured to explain the resurrection of the dead by these
natural phenomena; forgetting that in these instances no corruption or
actual disorganization had taken place. Stahl expresses himself in the
following words when defining life: "Life is formally nothing more than
the preservation of the body in mixture, corruptible indeed, but without
the occurrence of corruption;" and in Junker we find, "What we call life
is opposite to putridity."

The next theory attributed the principle of life to a subtle _gas_ or
_aura_. This doctrine constituted one of the principles of the Epicurean
philosophy, and was illustrated by Lucretius in his poem on the Nature of

  Nam penitùs prorsùm latet hæc natura, subestque;
  Nec magis hac infra quidquam est in corpore nostro;
  Atque anima est animæ proporrò totius ipsa.

According to these notions, there existed a volatile principle that bore
no specific name, but was diffused through every part of living bodies,
more subtile than heat, air, or vapour. In later times this same gaseous
agent received various appellations. Van Helmont designated it as the
_aura vitalis_, while other philosophers called it the _aura seminalis_
and the _aura sanguinis_. The _archeus faber_ of Van Helmont, the _astrum
internum_ of Crollius, the _principium energoumenon_ of Michael Alberti,
the _substantia energetica naturæ_ of Glisson, may all be referred to this
unseen but powerful agency. Hippocrates called it [Greek: physis], or
nature, which he elsewhere denominates [Greek: enorônta]. It was also the
[Greek: dynamis xôtikê] of Galen. This soul, or breath, or spirit,
directed and preserved the whole economy; and Chrysippus asserts that it
acted like salt upon pork.

Modern chemistry has sought this principle in specific agents. Caloric, or
the matter of heat; oxygen, or the vital part of atmospheric air, first
discovered by Priestley, and explained by Lavoisier; and finally, the
fluid collected by the Voltaic trough, were then considered as the
principle of life. The experiments of Professor Galvani of Bologna, in
which he produced the phenomena of life many hours after death, induced
many physiologists to maintain that the identity that existed in galvanic
electricity and the nervous influence, proved that this _aura_ was the
creative agent in our economy.

The late experiments of Mr. Crosse seemed to show that insects were
produced in silicate of potash under a long-continued action of voltaic
electricity. Now whether this be really the case or not, it is grievous in
the present enlightened age, to see these experiments and the assertions
that resulted from them, denominated the work of atheism, and the labour
of another Frankenstein!--I do not suppose for one moment that Mr. Crosse
pretended to have discovered the power of imparting life, but merely of
having developed a vital principle in substances supposed to be inorganic.
Every experimentalist who thus develops the vital principle may be said to
bestow life, without being exposed to the absurd charge of impiety.--The
man who brings forth chickens from the incubation of eggs, instead of
eating them; the physiologist who rots a piece of meat to develop myriads
of living beings in the putrid nidus, might just as well be called an

While naturalists were thus groping in nature's dark labyrinth,
endeavouring to account for the wonders of the _natura naturans_, that
divinity of the Stoics that Lucan thus describes,

          Superos quid quærimus ultrà?
  Jupiter est quodcumque vides, Jovis omnia plena,--

other wise men fancied that they had actually discovered the seat of
life, which, according to their fanciful speculations, they had lodged in
certain organs. The nervous system, the spinal marrow, the brain, the
heart, were all and each of them considered in turn as the head-quarters
of vitality; while the workshop of alimentation, or much-abused stomach,
did not pass unnoticed and unhonoured. The heart of a turtle, and of some
reptiles, has been seen contracting and dilating hours after its
extraction from the body; the stomach has been excited into an action
bearing some analogy to vomiting, when separated from the trunk; but all
these curious phenomena, explained and accounted for (in some measure, at
least) by physiology, do not tend to prove that any one organ, or any
chain of organs, is possessed of separate vitality independent of the
general principle of life. The brain, which has been regarded as the chief
seat of this principle, is not always essential to life; for although man
perishes, or at least his vital functions cease to act, when he is
decapitated,[30] yet various birds and reptiles continue to live for hours
and days after the head has been severed from the body, while we actually
behold a regeneration of the head in the earth-worm. Moreover, we have
upon record many cases of _acephalous_ children, or born without any head;
and _anencephalous_ children who lived (for a short time, it is true)
without any brains. Fontana removed the entire brain of a turtle, yet it
lived six months, and walked about as before.

Sandiford had divided acephalous animals into three classes: the first, in
which the head was wanting; the second, where other organs were also
missing; and the third, where the foetus presented an unformed mass. In
the acephalous twin described by Béclard, no liver, spleen, stomach, or
oesophagus could be discovered, and the intestinal tube commenced at the
superior extremity of the body. The infant had ten ribs on each side, and
regular nerves arose from the spinal marrow. Although headless animals may
not be gifted with intellectual faculties evident to our senses, yet they
clearly live and feel. The zoophytes and polypes, without brains or heads,
possess irritability and sensibility; they can seek their food, seize it,
reject what is not edible, are susceptible of the powers of light and
heat, can contract their fibres when touched or injured, and, in short,
manifest various innate or instinctive powers. Gall has maintained that
the passions resided in the brain, and, therefore, that brainless animals
did not experience their influence. This is a bold assertion. Can he prove
that worms, insects, zoophytes, that possess only what is called a
ganglionic system, are strangers to instinctive fears and partialities? I
apprehend that it will be found that passions belong to instinct much more
than to our volition.

It is nevertheless true that animals may be killed by wounding the spinal
marrow, by the process commonly called "_pitting_." This practice may be
traced to high antiquity; and Livy informs us that when the Carthaginian
troops were routed, Asdrubal ordered their unmanageable elephants to be
destroyed by driving the point of a knife between the junction of the head
and spine.

From these observations it will appear quite clear that life has no
necessary connexion with sensation, although the latter cannot be
experienced without the former. Vegetables are endowed with vitality; but
we have no reason to suppose that they feel. It is also more than probable
that, as the degree of intelligence decreases, the intensity of the
corporeal feelings are also diminished. Did not this scale of sensibility
exist, insects could not live under the supposed agonies that the
entomologist daily inflicts. This supposition does not rest upon
indefinite reasoning, for in our own race we observe that those parts
which are gifted with a reproductive power are possessed of the smallest
degrees of sensation; and the cuticle, the hair, the beard, and the nails
will even grow after death. This fact may calm the apprehensions of those
very humane persons who look upon experimental physiologists as very
monsters of barbarity. Vaillant took out the intestines of a locust, and
stuffed it with cotton, then fixed it down in his box with a pin, yet,
five months after, the insect moved its feet and antennas. Spallanzani has
shown that the snail can renew its head.

All this confusion in theories and wandering of the imagination have
arisen from our confounding the vital principle, of which we know nothing,
with the phenomena of sensation, for which patient and calm investigation
may account. That there does exist a principle of life that animates,
vivifies, and preserves all living bodies, until its powers cease, no one
can deny; although to find out its nature is a vain pursuit, as idle as
our endeavours to penetrate into the _causes of causation_. As Richerand
observes, "its _essence_ is not designed to preserve the aggregation of
our constituent molecules, but to collect other molecules, which, by
assimilating themselves to the organ that it _vivifies_, may replace those
which daily losses carry off, and which are employed in repairing and
augmenting them; the word _vital principle_ is therefore not designed to
express a distinct being, but denotes the _totality of powers alone_ which
animate living bodies, and distinguish them from inert matter, the
_totality of properties_ and _laws_ which govern the animal economy."

Of all the doctrines upon this abstruse subject (of which I have noticed
the principal ones), that of the pre-existence of an organic germ appears
the most plausible, or at any rate the easiest to conceive. It was from
this conviction that the ancients held as an axiomatic principle _Omnia ex
ovo_. It is upon this theory that Buffon rested his organic molecules, and
Ray his vital globules. The primitive lineaments of organization may be
traced in the egg, even before it is fecundated. The embryo that we find
in its involucra is soft, flexible, ready to receive the plastic
impression of the vivifying secretion,--the fecundating agency that
imparts existence and all its wondrous attributes, to the pre-existing
_ova_, the _ova subventanea_. It does not appear that the first organ of
the embryo which exhibits the living principle is the heart, hence
denominated in the foetus the _punctum saliens_; the principle of life
has probably organized every molecule of the animal long before this
supposed fountain of vitality had been seen to flow. It is more likely
that the nervous system has received the first impressions imparted by the
fecundating secretion, which the ancients supposed to have been a direct
emanation from the brain, and bearing in its vivifying molecules the life
of every part of the being it was about to organize; thus Valescus:
"Sperma hominibus descendit ex omni corporis humore, qui fit ex subtiliori
naturâ. Habet autem hoc sperma nervos et venas proprias attrahentes se à
toto corpore ad testiculos--à membris disconditur principalibus--à corde,
epate, cerebro mittuntur spiritus, ex quibus resultat spiritus
informativus, et non aliter nisi cum spermate--ergo ab iis principaliter
sperma disconditur."

Such were the doctrines on this curious subject until the days of
Fabricius d'Acquapendente and Harvey. Buffon, however, exerted all his
eloquence to revive the theory. The following are the notions of this
elegant writer, who unfortunately only studied natural history in books
and cabinets. He maintains that there exist two sorts of matter,--the one
living, the other dead: the first enjoying a permanent vitality; the
second universally spread, passing from vegetables to animals through the
channels of nutrition, and returning from animals to vegetables through
the medium of putrefaction,--thus in a constant state of circulation to
animate living beings. This vital matter exists in determined quantities
in nature, and is composed of an infinity of organic molecules, primitive,
living, active, incorruptible, and in relation, both as regards action and
numbers, with the molecules of light, and enjoying an immutable existence,
since the usual causes of destruction can only affect their adherence. It
is these molecules which, being cast in regular moulds, constitute all the
organized bodies that surround us. According to this doctrine,
_development_ and _growth_ are only a change of form operated by the
addition of organic molecules; _nutrition_, the preservation of this form
by the accession of fresh molecules that replace those that are destroyed;
_generation_, the combination of these particles; and _death_, their
separation from cohesion and association.

This ingenious system is not dissimilar to that of Maupertuis, who thought
that the mysteries of generation could be explained by the usual laws of
elective attraction. Various were the physical, metaphysical, and moral
batteries raised against this visionary fabric. One single fact was
sufficient to overthrow it. We constantly see parents deficient in a limb,
or misshapen, producing perfect offspring; if each part of the economy was
to transmit to its progeniture molecules similar to itself, the child
would naturally be visited with the imperfection of the parent.

Notwithstanding these fallacies, we cannot but admit that chemical and
molecular attraction constitute the principle that harmonizes all
organized bodies. Generation is simply a function of organization and
life. Organized bodies alone can generate. The living only can impart
life. Animals and plants transmit to their descendants their several
properties; and the inheritance of organization departs with the vital
spark. Life is the property of no one; it is a transmitted heir-loom that
never perishes; it resembles a torch that communicates an eternal flame
while consuming itself. Organized beings have justly been considered the
fuel of the universal vital fire, and we all are the _daily bread_ of that
monstrous animal called _the world_. All are ingulfed in that vortex which
Beccher has called the "_circulus æterni motus_" Metempsychosis was
simply an illustration of this fact recognised in all ages in the East,
and taught in European schools by Pythagoras. Nothing perishes; and even
combustion produces fresh combinations.

Poetical philosophy has considered _Love_ as the source and arbiter of
_life_, and the _Venus Generatrix_ the fount of our existence. Lucretius
recognises this power in the following lines:

    Per te quoniam genus omne animantûm
  Concipitur, visitque exortum lumina solis.

Then again,

  Omnibus incutiens blandum per pectora amorem,
  Efficis ut cupidè generatim sæcia propagent.

Virey, a delightful French physiologist, seems to partake of this
mythological opinion in the following passage: "L'amour est l'arbitre du
monde organique; c'est lui qui débrouille le chaos de la matière, et qui
l'impregne de vie. Il ouvre et ferme à son gré les portes de l'existence à
tous les êtres que sa voix appelle du néant, et qu'il y replonge.
L'attraction dans les matières brutes est une sorte d'amour ou d'amitie
analogue à celle qui reproduit des êtres organisés. Ainsi la faculté
générative est un phénomène général dans l'univers; elle est représentée
par les attractions planétaires et chimiques dans les substances brutes,
et par l'amour ou la vie dans les corps organisés."

According to our amatory neighbours, the word _ame_, or soul, comes from
_amor_ and _amare_, and _amare_ is derived from _animare_; hence
_animation_ and _animal_ may be syllogistically referred to love.

I know not how far this etymological disquisition may illustrate the
history of their _enfans trouvés_, or our foundling hospitals, the inmates
of which are generally uncommonly ill favoured by beauty. The offspring of
the aforesaid Venus Generatrix must have been especially ungrateful; and
if it be true that Julius Cæsar was her son, he certainly exerted his best
endeavours to depopulate his mother's territories.


It is a matter worthy of remark, that, while the doctrines of
homoeopathy have fixed the attention and become the study of many
learned and experienced medical men in various parts of Europe, England is
the only country where it has only been noticed to draw forth the most
opprobrious invectives. It is certainly true that no one but an ardent
proselyte of the visionary Hahnemann could for one moment become the
advocate of all his absurd ideas; yet, while we reject his errors, great
and important truths beam from the chaotic clouds that shroud his
wanderings; and, however wild his theories may be, incontrovertible facts
have been elicited from his apparently inefficacious practice.

Before I enter into an examination of the practical views of the
homoeopathists, I shall give a brief sketch of their doctrines and of
their founder.

Samuel Hahnemann was born in Meïssen in Saxony, on the 10th of April,
1755. His father was an humble porcelain manufacturer. The first rudiments
of education that young Hahnemann received were gratuitous; and his
master, pleased with the progress of his ambitious but needy scholar,
strongly urged him to repair to Leipzig, where, at the age of twenty, he
arrived, with exactly the same number of crowns in his pocket as he
numbered years. At this university he zealously pursued his favourite
studies of the natural sciences, supporting himself by translating French
works, and giving lessons; and finally he graduated in the university of
Eslan--in 1779.

It was during his arduous studies that Hahnemann was struck with the
conflicting systems and the deplorable controversies which for centuries
divided in turn the medical schools of Europe, and were triumphant or
overthrown by scholastic revolutions; each doctrine being doomed to
obscurity and oblivion in the ratio of its ephemeral splendour. The
result of his reflections and experiments was the system of homoeopathy.
Its novelty, its apparent absurdity, soon exposed him not only to
opposition, but to violent persecution. As is usual in all cases of
oppression, whether justly or unjustly resorted to, proselytes as furious
and as fanatical as his persecutors joined their chief. Despite the
sanatary regulations of Saxony, which prohibited physicians from
dispensing their medicines, Hahnemann prepared and supplied his
homoeopathic remedies; and, being expelled from Leipzig, sought a refuge
at Koethen, where, exasperated by the harsh treatment he had
experienced, he fulminated his anathema on all past and present systems of
medicine with no small degree of furious resentment, pronouncing his
doctrine to be stamped with the seal of infallibility, and denouncing all
others as the aberrations of ignorance and error, or the speculations of
imposture and fraud.

As might have been expected, few of his opponents thought it worth their
while to study his system calmly and dispassionately; nor, indeed, was
such an application necessary, for his doctrines needed no deep
investigation on the part of his foes, so fraught were they with apparent
errors and false deductions, not only from his own pretended experience,
but the experience of ages. Finding that he could not enjoy a despotic
sway over the schools, he was resolved at any rate to seek the palm of
martyrdom, and had recourse to such violence in words and actions, that
many of his enemies maintained he was a more fitting subject for a lunatic
asylum than the _soi-disant_ founder of a rational doctrine; for he and
his fanatical disciples set all ratiocination at nought, considering his
_dixit_ as a fiat of condemnation passed on all who dared to doubt his
infallibility, although at different periods their oracle was obliged to
retract many erroneous assertions and contradict fallacious statements.

In the short view of his doctrines which I am about to give, these
fallacies will become evident.

Hahnemann had observed in his studies and hospital practice that the
prevalent systems of medicine were founded on the rational principle of
combating effects by striking at morbid causes. Physicians sometimes
endeavoured to attain this desirable end by producing in the system an
artificial action differing from the nature of the malady, and founded
their practice on the scholastic axiom of _contraria contrariis curantur_;
at other times they raised or depressed the vital energies according to
the prevalence of excitement or debility, or modified the character of the
disease by revulsion and derivation, a practice which received the name of
antagonistic, or _allopathic_,--a term used by Hahnemann in
contradistinction to homoeopathy, and derived from [Greek: allos],
_different_, and [Greek: pathos], _affection_.

In his therapeutic pursuits Hahnemann had been forcibly struck with the
long-acknowledged fact that medicinal substances supposed to possess a
certain specific property in the treatment of diseases, were known in the
healthy subject to produce phenomena bearing a close analogy to the
symptoms of those identical diseases. Thus, mercurial preparations
occasioned symptoms of syphilis, sulphur produced cutaneous irritation,
and, in some instances, the exhibition of cinchona had been known to bring
on febrile intermissions. In various works he found these observations
established. For instance, amongst many others, he found in the
publications of Beddoes, Scott, Blair, and various writers, that nitric
acid, which was known to produce ptyalism, relieved salivation and
ulceration in the mouth. Arsenic, which, according to Henreich, Knape, and
Heinze, occasioned cancerous anomalies in healthy subjects, was stated by
Fallopius, Bernharde, Roennow, and many other surgeons, to be efficacious
in relieving, if not curing, similar disorders; preparations of copper
were asserted by Tondi, Ramsay, Lazermi, and numerous practitioners, to
have produced epileptic attacks; and Batty, Baumes, Cullen, Duncan, and
several experienced medical practitioners, recommended similar remedies in
epilepsy. In short, the illustrations of the power inherent in certain
substances to produce accidents analogous to the symptoms of the various
diseases in the treatment of which they had proved efficacious, induced
Hahnemann to consider whether a treatment founded on _similia similibus
curantur_ might not be found more effectual than the former practice based
upon the _contraria contrariis_. He was of opinion that no medicine was
possessed of any _curative property_, but solely acted by its _morbific
power_ of producing a disordered condition in the system; and on this and
other principles, which we shall shortly notice, he asserts that nature
does not possess any curative power, totally denying the _vis medicatrix_
of the schools. He further maintained, that there does not exist any
specific malady; but that which we consider to be a disease is nothing but
a complexity of symptoms, and that a cure can only be effected when these
complex symptoms are made to disappear.

Impressed with these ideas, he and his disciples proceeded to try various
medicinal substances upon themselves and others when in health, and,
carefully recording the symptoms which these medicines produced, they drew
up a statement of their various powers, that they might be afterwards
resorted to, to relieve the same symptoms in a morbid state. Grounding
this practice on the principle (in many instances correct) that two
similar diseases cannot coexist, they conceived that if, to counteract a
natural malady, one can produce by any medication an artificial
derangement of the same nature, the artificial disorder will overcome the
natural disease, and a radical cure be obtained. To explain more
distinctly this idea, I shall quote the author's words.

"The curative power of medicines is thus founded on the property they
possess to give rise to symptoms similar to those of the disease, but of a
more intense power. Hence no disease can be overcome or cured in a
certain, radical, rapid, and lasting manner, but through the means of a
medicine capable of provoking a group of symptoms similar to those of the
disease, and at the same time possessed of a superior energetic
power."[31] And further,

"If two dissimilar maladies happen to be coexisting, possessed of an
unequal force, or if the oldest disease is more energetic than the recent
one, the latter will be expelled by the former. Thus, an individual
labouring under a severe chronic disease will not be subject to the
invasion of an autumnal dysentery, or any other slight epidemic. Larrey
affirms that the districts of Egypt in which scurvy was prevalent were
exempt from the plague. Jenner asserts that rachitis prevents the effect
of vaccination; and Hildebrand assures us that phthysical patients never
experience epidemic fevers unless of the most severe character."[32]

"If a recent affection, dissimilar to a more ancient one be more powerful
than the latter, then will the progress of the latter be suspended until
the malady is either cured or has been expended in its career, and then
the old one will reappear."[33]

"But the result is totally different when two similar diseases meet in the
organism; that is to say, when a pre-existing affection is complicated
with one of the same nature, but possessed of more energy."[34]

"Two maladies resembling each other in their manifestation and their
effects, that is to say, in the symptoms which they determine, mutually
destroy each other, the strongest conquering the weakest."[35]

He further contends that the essential nature of every disease is unknown;
that their existence is revealed by alterations and changes in the system
perceptible to our senses, and constituting what are called _symptoms_,
and it is the series of these symptoms which characterize the disease in
its course and its development. According to his notions, the physician
has only to follow and study the succession and the grouping of these
symptoms; in short, the phases and the phenomena of diseases. Attack and
destroy these symptoms, and you will have destroyed the malady.

All classification of diseases, and their various denominations, he
therefore deemed absurd, as, according to his doctrines, no one disease
resembles another; so various were their modifications, that, with few
exceptions, it was idle to give them a particular name, since disease was
simply a derangement in our organization manifested by peculiar symptoms.

We are also, according to Hahnemann, ignorant of the essential properties
of medicines, and can only observe and record their effects by
experimental observation. Like diseases, they also produce a derangement
in our organism, manifested by peculiar symptoms, their sole action
consisting in developing specific diseases.

In conformity with these notions, to cure disease we have only to produce
a similar affection; the primitive one would then give way to the
secondary affection artificially produced, and in time the artificial one
would cease to exist when the means that produced it were no longer
brought into action.

Homoeopathic medicines, he maintained, have the property of acting in a
direct manner upon the affected part of the system; and this is proved
when the disease, and the medicine given to relieve it, produce similar
morbid manifestations: and he further contended that our vital organism
was less susceptible of the action of natural affections than of those
which are artificially produced.

On this basis did the homoeopathic doctrinarians ground their practice;
but a still more singular theory was broached by their leader; he
maintained that medicinal substances, to prove efficacious, should be
administered in an attenuated and diluted state, carried to such an extent
as to become infinite in their division; he further asserts that this
infinite division, far from diminishing their medicinal power and
properties, imparts greater energy and certainty of action when these
particles encounter in our organization an affinity of disposition, or a
homogeny in action; that is to say, that these atomic attenuations act
with greater power in those affections which manifest symptoms similar to
those which these very medicines are known to produce when experimentally
tried upon a healthy subject.

Upon this principle the homoeopathist condemns all combinations of
medicines as likely to neutralize each other's properties by their various
affinities; therefore generally speaking, no fresh medicine should be
given until the effects of the former have subsided; and to guide this
practice, while they endeavoured to ascertain the symptoms produced by
medicines, they also sought to ascribe certain limits to the duration of
their action: thus, the influence of aconite lasts forty-eight hours, and
that of crude antimony fifteen days.

Dreading all substances that could tend to weaken or neutralize the effect
of medicine, the homoeopathists made it their particular study to
discover the peculiar action of all alimentary substances on the organism,
and characterized as antidotes all such articles of food as they
considered opposed to this supposed action: thus, wine and vegetable acids
were deemed antidotes to aconite; coffee, to Angustura bark; vinegar, to
asarum, &c.

I have already stated that the homoeopathists conceive that the infinite
dilution of their atoms of medicinal substances increase their energy; and
this fact they so strenuously maintain, that they assert that accidents of
a serious nature may arise when this division is carried too far; and
these accidents are then to be met with the medicinal antidotes they
pretend to have discovered: thus, camphor is an antidote to cocculus;
opium, to the crocus sativus; camomile and camphor, to ignatia amara; and
so on.

The minuteness with which the specific actions of various medicinal
substances on certain organs is detailed is scarcely credible; and the
following extract from the homoeopathic materia medica will give a
slight idea of their industrious labours. Taking as an example phosphorus,
which they affirm produces--

Vertigo, determination of blood to the head, headache in the morning, fall
of the hair, difficulty in opening the eyelids, burning sensation and
ulceration of the internal canthus of the eye, when exposed to the open
air, lachrymation and adhesion of the palpebræ; inflammation of the eyes,
with the sensation of particles of sand having been introduced; sparks and
spangles floating before the eyes, a dark tinge in objects that are looked
on, diurnal cecity, the appearance of a gray veil drawn before the eyes,
pulsation in the ears, epistaxis, mucous discharge from the nostrils,
foulness of breath, tumefaction of the throat, whiteness of the tongue,
ulceration of the mouth, expectoration of glairy mucus, dryness of the
mouth by night and by day, spasmodic eructation, nausea, sense of hunger
after eating, anxiety after meals; in short, twenty-four octavo pages are
devoted to the innumerable effects of this substance on the organism.

Of _magnesia artificialis_ three hundred and twelve symptoms are noted;
six hundred and fifty of the _rhus radicans_; nine hundred and forty of
_pulsatilla_; five hundred of _ignatia amara_; four hundred and sixty of
_arsenic_: in short, volumes upon volumes are crowded with these
observations, not only recording physical effects, but singular results on
our moral faculties; such as serenity or moroseness, gaiety or sadness, a
disposition to commit suicide or a fond partiality to life, courage or
cowardice, a weak intellect or a vigorous conception. For
instance,--common sea-salt occasions irascibility, lowness of spirits,
taciturnity, melancholy, palpitation of heart, disposition to shed tears,
pusillanimity, and despair; while potash gives rise to ill-temper without
apparent cause at noon and in the evening, with violent paroxysms of rage
in the morning, impetuous desires, furious passion, with gnashing of
teeth, if all around does not yield to the patient's desires; while the
vision of a bird hovering about the window produces loud shrieks of alarm,
exaltation of the intellects, and a horror of the future. So innumerable,
indeed, are all these singular effects attributed to various medicines
thus experimented, that no memory, however retentive, could possibly bear
them in recollection. The following are the directions laid down for
conducting this curious inquiry:

The person upon whom medicines are tried must be free from disease; but
weak substances should be given to subjects of a delicate and sensitive
constitution. The medicine is to be tried in its most pure and simple
state, possessing all its energies, taking special care that it is not
combined with any heterogeneous substances during the day it is exhibited,
and the time while its action is supposed to last. The diet must be
moderate; all spices and high-seasoned food to be avoided, as well as
green vegetables, roots, salads, &c. which are known to possess medicinal
properties. The dose of the medicine to be similar to that which is
usually prescribed by practitioners. If, at the expiration of about two
hours, no effect is observed, a stronger dose is to be given. Should the
first dose operate powerfully at the commencement, but gradually lose its
influence, the second will be given the following morning; and a still
stronger one, four times the strength of the first, be administered on the
third day.

The result of these experiments being recorded, homoeopathic agents are
selected to oppose morbid symptoms; and when the choice of remedies has
been appropriate, an aggravation of the symptoms is observed. This
aggravation is usually considered as an increase of the disorder, whereas
it is solely the effect of the homoeopathic remedy. "For these
phenomena," say the homoeopathists, "were frequently observed by
physicians, who little thought at the time, that they were the result of
the medicines they had given." Thus, when the pustules of itch became more
rife after the exhibition of sulphur, it was thought that the increase of
the eruption was merely the affection _coming out_ more freely; whereas,
the aggravation was occasioned by sulphur. Leroy informs us that the
heart's-ease, _viola tricolor_, increased an eruption in the face. Lyrons
says that elm-bark aggravated cutaneous affections, which were cured by
this remedy; but neither of them were aware of the nature of this
homoeopathic development. For further information on this head, the
Organon of Hahnemann must be consulted.

Such were his doctrines for a period of about twenty years,--doctrines
which he emphatically pronounced infallible, and founded on the immutable
laws of homoeopathy. In 1828, however, convinced by numerous failures in
the treatment of chronic diseases, that other causes than those which he
acknowledged,--such as the improper preparation of the medicine, or
dietetic neglect on the part of the patient,--contributed to these
disappointments, he announced that he had discovered the hidden source of
the obstacles he encountered; and that, after many years of experiments
and meditation, he had come to the conclusion that almost all chronic
diseases originated from constitutional miasmatic affections or
predispositions, which he divided into _sycosis_, _syphilis_, and _psora_,
or, in plain English, the itch. To this latter affection he attributes
innumerable disorders. In diseases of a syphilitic character, he had found
his mode of treatment infallible; and he therefore concluded that all
obstinate and rebellious affections were the result of some other
constitutional predisposing circumstances. He tells us that he laboured in
profound secrecy to discover this great, this sublime desideratum: his
very pupils knew it not; the world was to remain in ignorance of his
pursuits until he could proclaim the most inestimable gift that Divinity
bestowed upon mankind. This immortal discovery was neither more nor less
than the itch; to which malady, according to his views, since the days of
Moses, seven-eighths of the physical and moral miseries to which flesh is
heir, were to be referred. Whether rendered evident by eruptions, or
latent from our cradle, it was a curse transmitted to us, by the
modification and degeneration of leprosy, through myriads of
constitutions, and which only disappears from the surface to fester in
malignity until it bursts forth again in the multifarious forms of
innumerable diseases, amongst which we find scrofula, rachitis, phthisis,
hysteria, hypochondriasis, dropsy, hydrocephalus, hæmorrhage, fistula,
diseases of the head and liver, ruptures, cataracts, tic-douloureux,
deafness, erysipelas, cancers, aneurisms, rheumatism, gout, apoplexy,
epilepsy, palsy, convulsions, stone, St. Vitus's dance, nervous affections
of every description, loss of sight, of smell, of taste, stupidity and
imbecility.[36] In support of this doctrine, Hahnemann adduces ninety-five
cases recorded by medical writers, in which the disappearance of the itch
was followed by various acute and chronic maladies.

The next miasmatic generator is _sycosis_, or the disposition to warty
excrescences; but this source of disease Hahnemann does not consider so
prolific as syphilis, or his favourite psora.

Such are the principal features of the homoeopathic system. I have
already stated that its followers consider the most minute particles of
medicine more powerful than larger doses; they therefore have recourse to
infinite trituration or dilution in three vehicles which they consider
free from any medicinal property,--distilled water, spirits of wine, and
sugar of milk; by these means they procure a decillionth or a
quintillionth fraction of a grain. One drop of their solution is
considered sufficient to saturate three hundred globules of sugar of milk;
and three or four of these globules are deemed a powerful medicine. To
give a better idea of Hahnemann's notions on this subject, I shall quote
his own words:

"By shaking a drop of medicinal liquid with one hundred drops of alcohol
_once_, that is to say, by taking the phial in the hand which contains the
whole, and imparting to it a rapid motion by a single stroke of the arm
descending, I shall then obtain an exact mixture of them; but two or
three, or ten such movements, would develop the medicinal virtues still
further, making them more potent, and their action on the nerves much more
penetrating. In the extenuation of powders, when it is requisite to mix
one grain of a medicinal substance in one hundred grains of sugar of milk,
it ought to be rubbed down with force during one hour _only_, in order
that the power of the medicine may not be carried to too great an extent;
medicinal substances acquiring at each division or dilution a new degree
of power, as the rubbing or shaking they undergo develops that inherent
virtue in medicines which was unknown until my time, and which is so
energetic, that latterly I have been forced by experience to reduce the
number of shakes to two."

As a further illustration of this theory, he affirms that gold is without
any action in our organism in its natural state; but that when one grain
of this metal is triturated according to the above process until each
grain of the last triturated preparation contains a quadrillionth part of
the original grain of the mineral, it will be so powerful that it will be
sufficient to place this single grain in a phial, to be inspired for a
moment, to produce the most amazing results, and none more so than the
faculty of restoring to a melancholy individual, disposed to commit
suicide, his pristine partiality to life.

Unfortunately for Hahnemann, many of these assertions are unsupported by
facts or sound reasoning, and appear mere wanderings of an ardent
imagination; and thus soaring in regions of fancy, he himself has struck
many fatal blows to his own doctrines. For instance, what are the
arguments he adduces to prove that in two similar diseases the strongest
will overcome the weakest?

"Why," he exclaims, "does the splendid Jupiter disappear during the
twilight of morn to the eyes of the contemplator? It is because a similar
power, but possessed of greater energies, the breaking day, acts upon our

This is a defective analogy. Hahnemann tells us that a stronger power
banishes a weaker one in a permanent manner, whereas the bright planet he
here alludes to will return with the night. Then again:--

"With what do we endeavour to relieve the olfactory nerves when offended
by disagreeable odours? By snuff, which affects the nostrils in a similar
but in a more powerful manner." This is not correct: when the action of
snuff has ceased, the disagreeable effluvia become again offensive. In
some instances his poetical vagaries are preposterous. "By what means," he
adds, "do we endeavour to protect the ears of the compassionate from the
lamentations of the poor wretched soldier condemned to be scourged? Is it
not by the shrill notes of the fife united to the loud beat of the drum?
How do we endeavour to drown the roar of distant artillery that causes
terror in the heart of the soldier? By the roll of the double drum;--nor
would this feeling of compassion, this sense of terror, have been checked
by admonition or by splendid rewards. In the same manner our grief, our
regret, subside, upon receiving the intelligence, true or false, that a
more lively sorrow has affected another person." It would be idle to dwell
upon the absurdity of such visions and erroneous statements.

To support his doctrines, Hahnemann should have proved, 1st, that
medicinal powers do produce an artificial malady similar to the natural
affection; 2nd, that the organism only remains under the influence of the
medicinal disease; 3rd, that this medicinal disease is of short duration;
and 4th, that all these effects can only be produced by a medicine
selected according to their similarity of symptoms. Our theorist has
utterly failed in his endeavours to establish these facts; therefore have
his doctrines been impugned by many of his most zealous disciples, amongst
whom may be mentioned Griesselich, Rau, Schroen. The aggravation which he
asserts takes place after the exhibition of a homoeopathic medicine is
not only unsupported by proof, but positively denied by many of their
practitioners; and Hartman plainly affirms that, after a homoeopathic
dose, the patient frequently experiences a state of calm, a disposition to
slumber, and often falls into a profound sleep more or less prolonged, in
waking from which he finds himself much relieved, if not perfectly cured.
Thus several physicians who have adopted his practical views reject many
of the doctrines on which they are founded; and a homoeopathist has
justly compared his works to a wild virgin forest, in which we meet with a
number of valuable trees and plants in the midst of arid brushwood and
parasitic weeds that would check the growth of the most useful

Yet, notwithstanding the many gratuitous assertions, and consequent
erroneous inductions, we meet with in the _Organon_, it is probable that
this system is destined to operate a gradual but material revolution in
the _practice_ of medicine. As to theories, we must agree with Voltaire
when he said "En fait de système, il faut toujours se reserver le droit de
rire le lendemain de ses idées de la veille."

Hippocrates laid down in his Aphorisms the incontrovertible fact, "Duobus
doloribus simul obortis, non tandem eâdem in parte, vehementior alterum
obscurat. A. 46." To a certain degree, it was upon this assertion, which
the experience of ages has confirmed, that Hahnemann founded the principal
and most important point of his doctrine; but, going much farther than the
father of medicine, he affirms that similar diseases effectually remove
each other. For centuries practitioners have been acting
homoeopathically; the exhibition of specifics, in fact, being nothing
else. As we have already shown, specifics are known to produce symptoms
similar to the diseases they cure. Hitherto the number of such medicines
has been confined to a very few agents; and perhaps with the exception of
mercury, sulphur, and bark, with their several preparations, scarcely any
article in the materia medica could have claimed this peculiar property.
To extend these limits, which confined in so exiguous a compass our
therapeutic agents, has been the laborious and singular study of Hahnemann
and his disciples. Haller had first given the example, and they arduously
applied themselves to discover by experiments on the healthy subject, both
upon their own persons and others, what were the peculiar effects or
symptoms produced by various medicinal substances. These observations are
so numerous and confused, that, on reading them, we feel plunged in a
chaotic labyrinth of symptoms, without any clue to extricate ourselves
from its perplexing mazes. Still, from this multifarious catalogue much
important information can be collected; and it cannot be denied that the
homoeopathist has not only thrown a new light on the action of many
medicines which we daily prescribe, but brought into practical
consideration the necessity of attending to dietetic discipline, by an
investigation of the several properties of our usual _ingesta_.

It is obvious that any enthusiast who would blindly embrace the foregoing
doctrines without serious and deep investigation, and boldly apply the
wild theory to practice, would at once throw open the flood-gates of
absurdity, and lend his aid in destroying, if possible, with one fell
swoop, the result of ages of mature study and experience. Hahnemann, to
fertilize the fields of science, had recourse to inundation instead of
wise and cautious irrigation; and the fury with which he and his rash
disciples maintained their opinions materially tended to retard their
progress. Truth needeth not violence; its own lustre will beam through
surrounding darkness, without being dragged into light.

The objections to Hahnemann's doctrines are glaring. The art of healing,
from the dawn of science until the present day, has been more or less
founded on the faculties of reasoning. We are taught, in the first
instance, to observe carefully the phenomena of disease, and, by referring
effects to probable causes, endeavour, however difficult the task, to
trace their catenation. Many of these causes are perhaps sealed for ever
in the inscrutable book of our destinies; yet, if we cannot obtain a
knowledge of the origin of these disorders, still when we take into mature
consideration the complication of all accidental circumstances, and from
visible effects seek invisible relations, guided by our experience in
anatomy, physiology, and the revelations of pathology, we may find this
pursuit less difficult than it may be imagined. But the homoeopathist
despises and rejects as idle, all those collateral means of diving into
nature's arcana. He bids us dwell only upon evident symptoms, or, in other
words, look to the effects alone, and cast away all thoughts of
discovering their causes. Nothing can be more illogical than this
argument; for certainly we can scarcely hope to remove effects without
striking, as far as in our power lies, at their cause. To deny the
existence of any specific affection because we cannot account for its
origin, is absurd. As well might we reject the use of medicines known to
possess specific properties, from our utter ignorance of their _modus
operandi_. The exclusive consideration of symptoms would lead us into
lamentable error, since the same symptoms are observable in various
diseases. Similar pains, for instance, may be the symptoms of rheumatism,
nephritic affections, and calculus; headaches may arise from inflammation,
and from various and well-known sympathies with distant organs: yet,
without seeking to ascertain these relations, the mechanical and
empirical homoeopathist will prescribe such medicines as are known to
occasion pains in the loins, or headaches; only bearing in mind
perceptible derangements, heedless of the phenomena of organization, the
state of the secretions and excretions, the history, the rise and progress
of the disorder, or the idiosyncrasy of the patient. The liver is
diseased; the discovery is of no importance. We have only to attend to the
pain extending up the clavicle and shoulder, or the uneasiness experienced
in the right hypochondrium: the pulse, the respiration, the condition of
the excretions, the temperature of the skin, the appearance of the tongue,
are all regarded as minor considerations. It is not _hepatitis_ that we
are called upon to cure; it is to relieve a pain in the shoulder and in
the hypochondrium, or a difficulty of lying on the left side.

No one will pretend to deny that our safest, perhaps our sole, guide in
the study of disease is the group of symptoms, that become more and more
perceptible during the course of our investigations. It was principally on
the study of symptoms that the most learned practitioners of every age and
country grounded their diagnosis and their prognosis; but they never
viewed them either singly, or in their complexity, as unconnected with the
particular diseases to which they were not only essentially united, but
from which they originated, and of the existence of which they were to be
considered the diagnostic signs. Therefore did the ancients classify them
as principal and accessory, univocal and equivocal, characteristic or
common, as they afforded more or less information in our pathological
deduction; and in that light they were weighed with greater or less
application, as our judgment could only be formed by the attentive
consideration of the phenomena of the organism in health and in disease.

But while the homoeopathist's attention is chiefly directed to the
discovery of means that can enable him to produce symptoms analogous to
those of the disorder, he seems to disregard the laws of sympathy, by
which our organism appears to be ruled; a mysterious agency which can only
be ascertained by observation and experiment, when, to use the words of a
distinguished writer,[37] "by the former we may be said to listen to
nature, by the latter to interrogate her." Health depends upon the due
co-operation of all these associations; and one organ in the wonderful
machinery cannot be deranged in its functions without influencing others,
however distant and unconnected they may appear. In this co-ordination,
these vital relations have been very properly divided into mechanical,
functional, and sympathetic. Their study constitutes the groundwork of all
rational induction. It is not by individual or complex symptoms that we
can decide where the want of equilibrium is to be traced. Various have
been the theories on this most important subject, and great have been the
erroneous ideas dogmatically laid down. The illustrious Bichat himself
erred when he maintained that sympathies were aberrations--morbid
developments of our vital properties. Sympathies, on the contrary, may be
considered as constant phenomena, essential and inseparable from our
organism, whether in health or in sickness; and are, if I may be pardoned
the expression, co-ordinated to co-operate with each other in their
mechanical, their functional, and their sympathetic associations.

An incarcerated hernia causes hiccup, nausea, vomiting. Will the
homoeopathist tell us that we must seek in his catalogue of innumerable
effects some substance which is known to produce similar symptoms? Surely
the rupture must first call our attention. This example is adduced as
referring to nearly every case in which it might be rashly attempted to
separate causes from effects. The mammary glands are variously affected in
uterine diseases; their impressions are reciprocal, yet the uterine
affection must be the chief object of our solicitude. A peculiar pruritus
is a symptom of calculus. Are we then to administer a homoeopathic dose
of _cannabis_, or any other medicine which may give rise to a similar
sensation? It may be objected to this observation that these are purely
surgical cases, in which we need not be guided by symptoms to discover
causes; but it has too frequently happened that nausea and vomiting have
been attended to, while the hernia was overlooked, until fatal accidents
were manifested. Moreover, a diseased liver, a diseased spleen or kidney,
would be just as perceptible as hernia or calculus, if these parts could
be brought into view or contact.

It may be said that an erroneous notion of Hahnemann's doctrines on this
subject has been taken; it is therefore necessary to quote his own words:

"It may be easily conceived that the existence of a malady presupposes
some alteration in the interior of the human organism; but our
understanding can only lead us to suspect this alteration in a vague and
deceitful manner, from the appearance of the morbid symptoms, the sole
guide we can depend on except in surgical cases. The essence of the
internal and invisible change is undiscoverable, nor have we any means of
guarding against deceptive illusions."[38]

"The invisible substance that has undergone a morbid alteration in the
interior of the human body, and the perceptible changes, which are
externally developed,--in other words, symptoms,--form by their union what
is called disease; but the symptoms are the only points of the malady
which are accessible to the physician, the sole indication whence he can
derive any intuitive notion, and the principal objects with which he ought
to become acquainted to effect a cure. From this incontestable truth there
is nothing discoverable in disease beyond the totality of its symptoms to
guide us in the selection of our curative means."[39]

It is not to be supposed that an experienced physician, although a
homoeopathist, will rest satisfied with this study of symptomatic
medicine, without endeavouring to attach these effects to some cause,
however occult it may appear; but such a doctrine becomes pernicious,
since it bids us close the only book of truth that can reveal our
errors,--_post mortem_ investigations. Surely, if a group of certain
symptoms attend a disease which, when terminating fatally, shows
disorganization in certain viscera, we are not only justifiable in giving
to that disorganization a specific name in our scientific classification
and categories, but in considering the symptoms of no other importance
than as corroborative of those facts that morbid anatomy daily brings to

It is generally admitted that most nosologies are imperfect, and may
occasionally lead the young practitioner into error. This is easily
accounted for when we consider the Protean forms that the same disease
assumes in different individuals; yet, without this classification, the
science of medicine could not be studied. A certain arrangement is
necessary to simplify all our pursuits in natural science, and to seek a
variety we must know the order and the genus.

Had Hahnemann given a better system of nosology than those we possess, and
with his truly praiseworthy zeal and industry enumerated the various
symptoms of disease as minutely and as accurately as he has recorded the
effects of medicinal substances, his labours might have proved a most
valuable addition to our store of knowledge.

Let us now direct our attention to the absurdities to which these opinions
have led. Solely attentive to effects, and heedless of the
disorganization of various important parts of the human economy which
morbid anatomy detects, Hahnemann endeavours to discover the occult
causes--the original source--the germ--of the malady, which most likely
are beyond the reach of our researches; and he boldly affirms that all
chronic diseases spring from syphilis, a disposition to warts and the
itch. Now experience has proved that such an assumption is unfounded. The
most healthy subjects, those who attain the finest old age, are more
liable to this disgusting affection than the wealthy and cleanly part of
the community. The Irish and Scotch peasantry from their infancy, and
through life, are most subject to psora; and certainly our soldiers and
sailors, amongst whom the disease is common, are not more predisposed to
chronic diseases than any other classes of society, of course not taking
into consideration the effects of unhealthy climates.

Syphilis, it will be readily granted, has a considerable share in
producing anomalous _sequelæ_, more especially when in combination with
mercury. Warts, except of a syphilitic character, were never known to
germinate diseases; indeed, they affect the most healthy and robust
individuals. Yet to these three miasmatic causes does Hahnemann attribute
nearly every disease that was ever known to afflict mankind; while he
passes over in silence the predisposition to scrofula, gout, rheumatism,
to which we can unfortunately trace with too much certainty the source of
much human misery.

That the itch is a disease of great antiquity is a matter of doubt. It has
been maintained that it is the same eruptive disorder described by Celsus
under the appellation of _scabies_; yet this writer does not allude to its
contagious nature, and moreover says, that in some cases it disappears
completely, whereas in others it is renewed at certain periods of the

Celsus, moreover, includes other forms of pustular eruptions among the
different species of scabies, not sufficiently distinguishing them from
each other. The character of his scabies is more analogous to the lichen
agrius of Willan.

Nor did the ancients consider their _psora_ as our itch. It appears to
have been the scaly tetter, which they sometimes denominated _psoriasis_,
at others _lepra_, a synonymous affection; but neither pustular nor
vesicular. Leprosy, indeed, is a malady totally distinct from the itch in
all its characters. Hahnemann asserts that the species of leprosy that
afflicted the Jews, and which is described by their legislator in the 13th
chapter of Leviticus, was the itch; but any one who will peruse this
description will perceive that it does not bear the slightest resemblance
to that disorder. It appears, on the contrary, to have been that kind of
leprosy called _leucé_ by the ancients. Nor was leprosy constantly
attended with itching, one of the chief characteristics of the malady, and
from which sensation it derives its very name. Hippocrates mentions a
leprosy that usually occasioned a prurience before rain. There are no
diseases in the classification of which more obscurity exists than in
cutaneous affections; and Hahnemann's ideas would tend to increase this
confusion, since he tells us that he considers the _framboesia_ of
America, the _sibbens_ of Norway, the _pellagra_ of Lombardy, the _plica_
of Poland, the _pseudo-syphilis_ of the English, and the _asthenia
Virginiensis_ of Virginia, complications of his three miasmatic
principles; and he further informs us, no doubt on the faith of some idle
tradition, that _psora_ lost its external deformity on the return of the
Crusaders, who brought from the Holy Land the use of linen shirts, a
cleanly and salutary precaution that eradicated the disease at a period
when France had no less than two thousand hospitals for the reception of
_itch_ patients,--a plain proof that he confounds leprosy with itch, since
the hospitals he alludes to were distinctly considered leper-houses.

It is certainly true that there does exist in our system a constant
predisposition to eruptive affections of some kind or other. We are born
heirs to certain exanthematic affections, such as the measles and
smallpox; and it would be as difficult to find a being morally immaculate
as an individual free from speck or blemish. Many of these eruptions are
considered of a critical and salutary nature; and the ancients fancied
that nature relieved herself by throwing upon the surface some "peccant
humours." Hence their dread of the retrocession of any of these "breakings
out;" and there is no doubt but that accidents frequently followed their
sudden disappearance, in the same manner as drying up an issue or a
blister established for some time, and become habitual, may occasion
internal mischief; but to maintain that all chronic diseases arise from
three eruptive principles is a most gratuitous and untenable assertion.

Enthusiastically anxious to support his doctrines, Hahnemann is frequently
led into erroneous assertions. Thus he tells us that life will suddenly
cease if a little water, or the mildest liquid, is injected into a vein;
whereas experience has proved, in the treatment of cholera, and various
other instances, that the most stimulating solutions may be thus
introduced, not only with impunity, but with salutary results.

It is needless to enter more deeply into the ungracious business of
pointing out errors, many of which were evident to Hahnemann himself;
since, not only in the several editions of his Organon, but in various
paragraphs in the same volume, he contradicts himself.

A much more gratifying and important task is now undertaken, to prove, by
the evidence of facts, supported by practical reasoning, that the art of
healing is more indebted to the homoeopathic doctrines than to any
system that has hitherto been delivered in our schools.

That the all-bountiful Creator, in permitting, for purposes unknown to us,
mankind to be visited by so many scourges, has also scattered around us
means to counteract these evils, cannot be a matter of doubt. Instinct
leads animals to find out these salutary agents, and various specifics
have been discovered by man. The rudest savage is in possession of
curative substances unknown to civilized man, and performs cures where
learning and experience have proved of no avail.

To extend the limits of specifics, must therefore be considered a most
desirable step towards adding to our means of relieving disease; and in
this pursuit it is impossible to bestow too much praise on the
homoeopathic observer. Enthusiasm--predilection to a favourite but
persecuted system--may induce an ardent proselyte not only to deceive
others, but unwittingly to deceive himself. It is therefore not only
possible, but probable, that in the experimental investigations of the
effects of medicine, Fancy, in her multifarious colours, may have
depicted, with apparent fidelity, a state of body and mind that only
existed in an excited imagination; but when we behold various individuals,
distant from each other, and totally unconnected, observing similar
results from the exhibition of various medicinal substances, we have no
right to call their assertions into doubt. These assertions, moreover, are
not laid down dogmatically, but are earnestly recommended to be submitted
to the test of experiment. For instance, the homoeopathist has found out
that certain substances, by diminishing the energy of the heart and
arteries, subdue inflammatory action as effectually as venesection. This
is a fact daily witnessed, and of which any practitioner may convince
himself. It is not asserted, that in cases of sudden determination of
blood, which require immediate revulsion and abstraction of the vital
fluid, homoeopathic remedies will be found possessed of sufficient
activity to afford prompt relief; but experience has fully proved that in
cases which can admit of a few hours' delay, these medicines very
frequently supersede the necessity of debilitating the patient by a
copious loss of blood.

Dr. Paris, in his admirable work on Materia Medica, has justly observed,
"that observation or experiment upon the effects of medicine is liable to
a thousand fallacies, unless it be carefully repeated under the various
circumstances of _health_ and _disease_, in different climates, and on
different constitutions." This has been the main object of the
homoeopathist; and a further quotation from the above distinguished
writer will illustrate the importance of their labours. "It is impossible
to cast our eyes over such multiplied groups (of medicinal substances)
without being forcibly struck with the palpable absurdity of some, the
disgusting and loathsome nature of others, the total want of activity in
many, and the uncertain and precarious reputation of _all_, without
feeling an eager curiosity to inquire, from the combination of what causes
it can have happened that substances at one period in the highest esteem,
and of generally acknowledged utility, have fallen into total neglect and
disrepute. That such fluctuation in opinion and versatility in practice
should have produced, even in the most candid and learned observer, an
unfavourable impression with regard to the general efficacy of medicines
can hardly excite our astonishment, much less our indignation; nor can we
be surprised to find that another portion of mankind has at once arraigned
physic as a fallacious art, or derided it as a composition of error and
fraud. A late foreign writer, impressed with this sentiment, has given the
following _flattering_ definition of our profession: _Physic is the art
of amusing the patient, while Nature cures his disease_."

With such a lamentable view of the practice of medicine, can we be too
thankful to those observers who strenuously endeavour to rescue it from
the dark trammels in which prejudice and interested motives have bound it?
In no country more than in Great Britain is such an investigation
desirable. We have become proverbial from our incessant abuse of a farrago
of medicinal substances; and what is usually termed an _elegant
prescription_ signifies an amalgam of various drugs and preparations,
which most probably, by their affinities, neutralize the expected effects
of each other; for, however great and flattering may have been the
discoveries of modern chemistry, many of these affinities are unknown to
us. Surely when our labours cannot detect any difference in the component
parts of the purest Alpine atmosphere and the deleterious air of a
loathsome dungeon, we cannot expect to form a correct idea of pharmaceutic

The mere hopes of being able to relieve society from the curse of constant
drugging, should lead us to hail with gratitude the homoeopathist's
investigations. That many physicians, but especially apothecaries, who
live by overwhelming their patients with useless and too frequently
pernicious medicines, will warmly, nay furiously inveigh against any
innovation of the kind, must be expected as the natural result of
interested apprehension; and any man who aims at simplicity in practice
will be denounced as guilty of medical heresy. Have we not seen
inoculation and vaccination branded with the most opprobrious epithets,
merely because their introduction tended to diminish professional lucre?

In these remarks upon medicinal combinations, it is not meant to infer,
that, because they are chemically incompatible, they are
ineffectual,--experience has proved the contrary; but no one will contend
that, if we can attain the same beneficial results from a single
ingredient, administered in small quantities and at distant periods, as
from the exhibition of repeated and nauseous doses of pills, powders,
draughts, potions, &c. which hang over the bed of sickness, nay, of slight
derangements, like the sword of Damocles, we have not effected a most
salutary reform in the practice of physic. It is related of one of these
ingenious and industrious practitioners, that, having seen a prescription,
that only contained half a dozen medicines, he exclaimed, "What! nothing
more?" To which the prescriber replied, "If you choose, sir, we'll step
over to the apothecary, and see what else he has in his shop."

Specifics may be divided into two classes; the one producing a peculiar
effect upon particular organs, the other producing general results. Thus,
the action of cantharides and digitalis on the urinary system, of emetics
on the stomach, of certain purgatives on the small intestines, and of
others on the large ones, are generally known; whereas the action of
mercury and opium is still a matter of controversy. A study of these
effects constitutes the chief object of the homoeopathist; and, having
determined their peculiar action, these medicinal agents are given
singly, and, as we have already observed, in the most minute doses.

It is this division into infinite fractions that has drawn upon the
homoeopathic practice the denunciation of the allopathic physicians, as
it is considered utterly impossible that such imponderable particles can
produce any beneficial or prejudicial effect; and the Academy of Medicine
of Paris, when officially condemning the doctrine, asserts, in support of
this argument, that great danger arises from it "in frequent and serious
cases of disease, where the physician may do as much injury, and cause no
less mischief, by ineffectual means as by those which are prejudicial."

This is perhaps one of the most important points of the homoeopathic
doctrine. If these fractional doses are inert, and yet the disease is
cured, then must the successful treatment be solely ascribed to the
dietetic regimen and the efforts of nature. However, experience has
afforded abundant proofs that these infinite atoms do produce positive and
evident effects. What appears to our feeble organs an atomic fraction may
produce phenomena on the organism which we cannot comprehend, but should
not therefore be denied. Let one grain of iodine be dissolved in one
thousand five hundred and sixty grains of water, the solution will be
limpid; let two grains of starch be dissolved in two ounces of water and
added to the first solution, and the liquor will forthwith assume a blue
tint. In this experiment the grain of iodine has been divided into
1/15360. Dissolve the four-hundredth part of one grain of arsenic in four
hundred thousand parts of water, and the hydric-sulphite will bring it
into evidence. Let a five-thousandth part of arseniate of ammonia be
dissolved in five hundred thousand parts of water, and the addition of the
smallest proportion of nitrate of silver will obtain a yellow precipitate.
Numerous experiments of a similar nature may be daily resorted to, to
prove that the most minute particles of two substances possessed of
chemical affinities may be brought into action, although diluted _ad
infinitum_. But the power that the smallest particle possesses in
producing natural phenomena cannot be more evidently proved than by
Spallanzani's experiments in fecundation. This physiologist having wrapped
up a male frog in oil-silk, fecundation could not take place; but having
collected on the point of a camel-hair pencil a particle of the
fecundising fluid, he succeeded in vivifying thousands of eggs. Surprised
at this result, he dissolved three grains of the secretion in a pound of
water, and one globule of the solution was endowed with the same faculty.
In this case the globule of water only contained 1/2994687500 part of one
grain. This curious experiment has been tried with a similar result by
Prevost and Dumas. How imponderable and impalpable must be the effluvium
which enables the dog to track his master for miles! the particle of atter
of roses that perfumes a whole chest of clothes! and what must the power
of the aroma be which is preserved for thousands of years in some Egyptian
mummies! Would the vulgar believe in the wonders of the solar and gaseous
microscopes unless they were exposed to view? In these we behold in
amazement myriads of individuals in one drop of fluid, each of them as
perfect in organization as the mighty mammoth of old or the sagacious
elephant of our days, endowed with distinct habits, destructive and
reproductive propensities and faculties.

It has been advanced by the opponents of homoeopathy that the
insignificant dose of three or four medicinal globules cannot possess any
power, since one might swallow a thousand of them with impunity. To this
it is answered, that it is only under certain morbid conditions that these
medicines act by their homoeopathic affinities. Moreover, it is well
known that small doses of medicinal substances will frequently produce
more powerful effects than larger quantities. Tartar-emetic, sugar of
lead, calomel, afford daily instances of this fact; and it is also
admitted that many substances act differently upon the healthy or the
sick. An individual in health can take any food without apprehension; but
when his functions are deranged, the slightest imprudence in regimen may
lead to serious consequences. There are primordial and inscrutable
peculiarities in our constitution that cannot be accounted for; and the
medicine which relieves one patient will aggravate the sufferings of
others. The exhalations of the American _rhus_ are deadly to some persons,
but innocuous to others; and many poisons which cause instantaneous death
to some animals may be given with safety to others. Whence has arisen the
controversy regarding damp sheets, which many maintain are not dangerous,
simply from the fact that a healthy person with a vigorous circulation may
sleep in them with impunity, when a feeble and languid subject will be
exposed to some dangerous determination of blood?

A learned writer already quoted thus expresses himself on this
matter:[40] "The virtues of medicines cannot be fairly nor beneficially
ascertained by trying their effects on sound subjects, because the
peculiar morbid condition which they are calculated to remove does not
exist." It may be said that this observation militates against the
homoeopathic experiments, and to a certain extent it evidently does; but
it cannot be inferred that because a medicinal substance will occasionally
act differently in health and in disease, that it may not frequently
operate in a similar manner when the morbid condition does prevail, since
it is generally admitted that medicines act in a relative manner according
to the state of the system. Hence classifications of medicines are too
frequently erroneous and imperfect. The doses of medicines determine their
effects. Linnæus says, "Medicines differ from poisons, not in their
nature, but in their dose;" and Pliny tells its aphoristically, "_Ubi
virus, ibi virtus_." According to their doses, medicines will produce a
general or a local effect; and Dr. Paris, whom I feel much gratification
in quoting, lays down as a rule that "substances perfectly inert and
useless in one dose may prove in another active and valuable." It would be
foreign to my purpose to enter more fully into this most important
subject; but the cases which shall be adduced will be deemed sufficient to
convince the most incredulous, of the power of homoeopathic doses.

Those who have denied this property have boldly attributed homoeopathic
cures to dietetic means. Admitting this statement by way of argument,
surely, if any observer, by ascertaining the peculiar action of our
ingesta, can so regulate the regimen as to produce salutary effects
without the aid of medicine, mankind would be most essentially benefited.
How many persons do we not daily meet with, who have never taken any
medicine since their childhood, when maternal care strove to destroy their
digestive organs with apothecary's _stuff_, and who regulate their
functions by mere attention to their mode of living. I know one gentleman,
a physician, who relieves constipation by green chilies; another, with
cold milk; a third, with warm milk: in some habits spinach and sorrel will
act as a powerful and safe aperient; in others, cheese, or a hard egg,
will operate in a contrary way. Fermented and spirituous liquors all
possess specific properties. Some gouty persons cannot drink Claret
without bringing on a paroxysm, and others dread a glass of Champagne or
Burgundy. Nay, different wines have been known to bring on arthritic
attacks in particular parts; and I have known Champagne to produce gout in
the wrist, and Burgundy in the knee, in subjects who under other
circumstances never experienced the disorder in those articulations. Our
peculiar aversion, nay, our dread, of various alimentary substances are
well known. The odour of cheese, of strawberries, have occasioned fainting
and convulsions; and in certain constitutions, several articles of diet
bring on indigestion. In short, the study of our ingesta is one of the
greatest importance; and here again the homoeopathist is entitled to our
best thanks.

This investigation will moreover prompt physicians to be more attentive in
inquiring into the various effects of alimentary and medicinal substances
on their patients. Instead of hastily drawing out routine prescriptions
for such and such a disorder, they will accurately ascertain the physical
and moral condition of the subject, taking into due consideration previous
habits, predispositions, and pursuits in life. Indeed, it would be
desirable that practitioners followed the example of army medical men, who
keep an exact register of every individual they attend, and in which is
diligently recorded every circumstance connected with the disease and its

Moral influence has also been called into aid in opposition to this
practice, and cures have been attributed to the mere power of fancy and
credulity. We have certainly known superstition and mental imbecility to
be productive both of good and evil,--to have created some maladies, and
cured others; but homoeopathy has succeeded when the patient was unaware
of the treatment to which he was submitted. But, conceding the point, and
admitting that inert substances, such as starch, (and this experiment was
resorted to in Paris,) may have obtained singular beneficial results,--the
results of a weak imagination, this circumstance alone would be
illustrative of the power of moral agency; and who would not gladly wish
for a mental relief in lieu of a nauseating and injurious course of

Others will exclaim, although the homoeopathist disavows the _vis
medicatrix naturæ_, that he solely succeeds by leaving the malady to the
salutary efforts of the constitution. Here again we must admit, that, were
we to leave many diseases to run their course, we might be more successful
in obtaining a cure than by a rash and detrimental interference, founded
on the principle that a physician "must order something."

But the facts I am about to record,--facts which induced me, from having
been one of the warmest opponents of this system, to investigate carefully
and dispassionately its practical points,--will effectually contradict all
these assertions regarding the inefficacy of the homoeopathic doses, the
influence of diet, or the agency of the mind; for in the following cases
in no one instance could such influences be brought into action. They were
(with scarcely any exception) experiments made without the patient's
knowledge, and where no time was allowed for any particular regimen. They
may, moreover, be conscientiously relied upon, since they were made with a
view to prove the fallacy of the homoeopathic practice. Their result, as
may be perceived by the foregoing observations, by no means rendered me a
convert to the absurdities of the doctrine, but fully convinced me by the
most incontestable facts that the introduction of fractional doses will
soon banish the farrago of nostrums that are now exhibited to the manifest
prejudice both of the health and the purse of the sufferer.


A servant-maid received a blow of a stone upon the head. Severe headache,
with dizziness and dimness of sight, followed. Various means were resorted
to; but general blood-letting could alone relieve the distressing
symptoms, local bleeding not having been found of any avail. The relief,
however, was not of long duration, and the distressing accidents recurred
periodically, when abstraction of blood became indispensable. Reduced by
these frequent evacuations, I was resolved to try the boasted "bleeding
globules" of the homoeopathist, when, to my great surprise, I obtained
the same mitigation of symptoms which the loss of from twelve to sixteen
ounces of blood had previously accomplished. Since the first experiment no
venesection became necessary, and the returns of the violent headache were
invariably relieved by the same means.


An elderly woman was subject to excruciating headache, with an evident
determination of blood to the brain. Numerous leeches were constantly
applied. The usual remedies indicated in similar affections were resorted
to, but only afforded temporary relief. A homoeopathic dose of aconite
was given, and the relief that followed was beyond all possible


My much-esteemed friend Dr. Grateloup of Bordeaux was subject to frequent
sore-throats, which were only relieved by local blood-letting, cataplasms,
&c., but generally lasted several days, during which deglutition became
most difficult. I persuaded him to try a dose of the belladonna, neither
of us having the slightest confidence in its expected effects. He took the
globules at twelve o'clock, and at five P.M. the tumefaction of the
tonsils, with their redness and sensibility, had subsided to such an
extent that he was able to partake of some food at dinner. The following
morning all the symptoms, excepting a slight swelling, had subsided.

Since this period Dr. G. has repeatedly tried the same preparation in
similar cases, and with equal success. In my own practice, I can record
seven cases of cynanche tonsillaris which were thus relieved in the course
of a few hours.


H--, a young woman on the establishment of the Countess of --, was
suffering under hemiplegia, and it was resolved by Dr. Brulatour and
myself to try the effects of nux vomica. At this period the wonders of the
homoeopathic practice had been extolled to the skies by its advocates,
and we were resolved to give one of their supposed powerful preparations a
fair trial. The girl was told that the powder she was about to take was
simply a dose of calomel; and on calling upon her the following morning we
did not expect that the slightest effect could have been obtained by this
atomic dose, when, to our utter surprise, the patient told us that she had
passed a miserable night, and described to us most minutely all the
symptoms that usually follow the exhibition of a large dose of strychnine.
It is but fair to mention that the homoeopathic treatment did not cure
the disease; but the manifest operation of this fractional dose, that
could not possibly be denied, is a fact of considerable importance.


Mrs. ---- of Brompton, Bow, had laboured under hectic fever for several
months, and was so reduced by night perspirations, that she was on the
very brink of the grave. Called into consultation, I frankly told her
husband that every possible means known in the profession had been most
judiciously employed, and that I saw no prospect of obtaining relief. At
the same time I mentioned to him that the homoeopathic practitioners
pretended that they had found the means of relieving these distressing
symptoms, which he might submit to an experimental trial if he thought
proper. He immediately expressed his wish that it should be adopted. I
gave her a homoeopathic dose of phosphoric acid and stannum; and, to the
surprise of all around her, the night sweats did not break out at their
usual hour,--three o'clock in the morning. What renders this case still
more interesting is the fact of these perspirations recurring so soon as
the action of the medicine ceased; a circumstance so evidently
ascertained, that the patient knew the very day when another dose became


A daughter of the same lady was subject to deafness, which I attributed to
a fulness of blood. This cause I clearly ascertained by the relief
afforded by the application of a few leeches behind the ear. I was
therefore induced, on a recurrence of the complaint, to endeavour to
diminish vascular action by a dose of aconite. The effects were evident in
the course of four hours, when the deafness and the other symptoms of
local congestion had entirely disappeared.

       *       *       *       *       *

I could record numerous instances of similar results, but they would of
course be foreign to the nature of this work. I trust that the few cases I
have related will afford a convincing proof of the injustice, if not the
unjustifiable obstinacy, of those practitioners who, refusing to submit
the homoeopathic practice to a fair trial, condemn it without
investigation. That this practice will be adopted by quacks and needy
adventurers, there is no doubt; but homoeopathy is a science on which
numerous voluminous works have been written by enlightened practitioners,
whose situation in life placed them far above the necessities of
speculation. Their publications are not sealed volumes, and any medical
man can also obtain the preparations they recommend. It is possible, nay,
more than probable, that physicians cannot find time to commence a new
course of studies, for such this investigation must prove. If this is the
case, let them frankly avow their utter ignorance of the doctrine, and not
denounce a practice of which they do not possess the slightest knowledge.

Despite the persecution that _Hahnemannism_ (as this doctrine is
ironically denominated) is at present enduring, every reflecting and
unprejudiced person must feel convinced that, although its wild and
untenable theories may not overthrow the established systems (if any one
system can be called established), yet its study and application bid fair
to operate an important revolution in medicine. The introduction of
infinite small doses, when compared, at least, with the quantities
formerly prescribed, is gradually creeping in. The history of medicine
affords abundant proofs of the acrimony, nay, the fury, with which every
new doctrine has been impugned and insulted. The same annals will also
show that this spirit of intolerance has always been in the _ratio_ of the
truths that these doctrines tended to bring into light. From the preceding
observations, no one can accuse me of having become a blind bigot of
homoeopathy; but I can only hope that its present vituperators will
follow my example, and examine the matter calmly and dispassionately
before they proceed to pass a judgment that their vanity may lead them to
consider a final sentence.


One of the most absurd medical doctrines that ever prevailed in the dark
æras of science was the firm belief that all medicinal substances
displayed certain external characters that pointed out their specific
virtues. This curious theory may be traced to the Magi and Chaldæans, who
pretended that every sublunary body was under a planetary influence. To
find the means of concentrating or fixing this stellary emanation became a
cabalistic study, called by Paracelsus the "_ars signata_;" and talismans
of various kinds were introduced by the professors of sideral science. The
word talisman appears to be derived from the Chaldæan and Arabic
_tilseman_ and _tilsem_, which mean characteristic figures or images.

Paracelsus, Porta, Crollius, and many other philosophers and physicians,
cherished this vision, which had been transmitted to them through the
dense mists of superstition from more ancient authorities; amongst
others, Dioscorides, Ælius, and Pliny.

The _lapis ætites_, or eagle-stone, which was supposed to be found in the
nests of this bird, but which, in fact, is nothing more than a variety of
iron-ore, was said to prevent abortion if tied to the arm, and to
accelerate parturition if affixed to the thigh. This conceit arose from
the noise that seemed to arise from the centre of the stone when it was
shaken: "Ætites lapis agitatus, sonitum edit, velut ex altero lapide
prægnans." From this absurd hypothesis sprung the doctrine; and the very
names of plants were supposed to indicate their specific qualities. For
instance, the _euphrasia_, or eye-bright, exhibiting a dark spot in its
corolla, resembling the pupil of the eye, was considered efficacious in
affections of that organ. The blood-stone, the _heliotropum_, from its
being marked with red specks, was employed to stop hæmorrhage; and is to
this day resorted to in some countries, even in England, to stop a
bleeding from the nose.[41] Nettle-tea was prescribed for the eruption
called _nettle-rash_. The _semecarpus anacardium_, bearing the form of a
heart, was recommended in the diseases of this viscus. The _cassuvium
occidentale_, resembling the formation of a kidney, was prescribed in
renal complaints; and the pulmonary lichen of the oak, the _sticta
pulmonaria_, from its cellular structure, was esteemed a valuable
substance in morbid affections of the lungs. Deductions still more absurd,
if possible, are recorded: thus saxifrage, and other plants that grow in
rocky places, embodied as if it were in calcareous beds, were advised to
dissolve the stone; and the _echium_, bearing some faint resemblance to a
viper, was deemed infallible in the sting inflicted by this reptile. The
divers colours of substances supposed to be medicinal were also another
_signature_. Red flowers were given for derangement in the sanguiferous
system, and yellow ones for those of the bile. In Crollius's work,
entitled "_De Signaturis Plantarum_," many curious observations may be
found; and Sennert, Keuch, Dieterich, and other writers displayed great
industry in the division of these signatures, which, by the ancients, were
considered as something denoting no particular quality, and were then
called [Greek: asêmoi charaktêroi]; or [Greek: sêmantikoi], when their
virtues were evident.

Amongst the various influences and indications that were attributed to
colours, black was especially considered as the mark of melancholy.
Baptista Porta affirms, that if a "black spot be over the spleen, or in
the nails, it signifies much care, grief, contention, and melancholy."
Cardan assures us that a little before his son's death he had a black
spot, which appeared in one of his nails, and dilated itself as he
approached his end.

While nature was thus supposed to mark the virtues of her productions on
their external configuration, man assumed the same authoritative power,
and marked medicines with certain signs or seals. For this purpose, the
ancient physicians carried signets or rings, frequently worn upon the
thumb, and on which were engraved their own names, sometimes written
backwards, or the denominations of the nostrums they vended. On one of
these seals we find the word _aromaticu_, from _aromaticum_; on another,
_melinu_, abbreviation of _melinum_,--a collyrium prepared with the alum
of the island of Melos. A seal of this kind is described by Tôchon
d'Annecy, bearing the words _psoricum crocodem_, an inscription that has
puzzled medical antiquaries. The word _psoricum_ was applied to an
eruptive affection of the eye; and Actuarius mentions a _collyrium
psoricum_ of Ælius; while Marcellus Empiricus records the virtues of the
_psoricum stratioticum_, which restored sight in twenty days to a patient
who had been blind for twelve years; but, when it was applied, it was
ineffectual, unless the words "_Te nunc resunco, bregan gresso_," were
religiously pronounced. _Crocodem_ was also supposed to apply to _crocus_
or saffron, or to _crocodes_, a remedy for sore eyes, mentioned by Galen;
while some learned men refer the word to the dejections of the crocodile,
which were said to possess various virtues. The earth of Lemnos was sealed
with the figure of Diana, and to this day the bolar argils, brought from
Greece, bear various seals and characters; hence the _bolus Armeniæ_, and
_bolus ruber_, are called _terra sigillata_.

The influence of colours was supposed to have been so great, that in our
own annals we find John de Gaddesden, mentioned by Chaucer, ordering the
son of Edward I., when labouring under the small-pox, to be wrapped up in
scarlet; and to the present day, flannel, died nine times blue, is
supposed to be most efficacious in glandular swellings. Tourtelle, a
French army physician, has made the following singular observation on this
subject: "I observed that those soldiers of the Republic who were affected
with diseases connected with transpiration were more severely indisposed,
and not unfrequently exhibited symptoms of putrescency, when their wet
clothes had left a blue tinge on the skin, than when they had been merely
wetted by the rain." The explanation of this supposed phenomenon, is
simply that those men who had been coloured by their uniforms, had, no
doubt, been long wearing them, saturated by incessant rains, whereas the
others had merely been exposed to occasional showers. From this
observation, I do not pretend to affirm that any deleterious substances in
a dye might not occasion a dangerous absorption; but the accidents that
may result from such a circumstance could be easily explained without
having recourse to any particular influence of colour. The colour of
cloth, especially in army clothing, may also materially tend to influence
cutaneous transpiration, as some colours are more powerful conductors of
heat than others; and it is not impossible that the French soldiers, not
belonging to fresh levies, and who had always been clad in white, might
have experienced some difference of temperature when marching under
intense heat in dark blue and green uniforms.

Some of the terms used by the signature doctrinarians may puzzle the most
learned. The Greeks called them [Greek: sêmantika]; and, in addition to
the all-powerful _abracadabra_,--an infallible cure of ague, when
suspended round the neck,--we find the magic terms of _sator_, _asebo_,
_tenet_, _obera_, _rotas_, _abrac_, _khiriori_, _gibel_, engraved upon
amulets. For the bite of a mad dog, _pax max_, and _adimax_, were
irresistible; and for a fractured arm or a luxation, _araries_,
_dandaries_, _denatas_, and _matas_, would have set at defiance the most
experienced chirurgeons. I must refer the curious reader on this important
subject to the work _De figuris Persarum Talismanicis_ of Guffarel, to the
_Oedipus_ of Kircher, the book of Crollius _De signaturis internis
rerum_, and _Isagoge physico-magico-medica_ of Elzer.

The church vehemently denounced these abominations; and we find in the
council of Laodicea an injunction forbidding the priesthood the study and
practice of enchantment, mathematics, astrology, or the binding of soul by
amulets. These incantations were dreaded in every age. Thus Lucan:

  Mens, hausti nullâ sanie polluta veneni,
  Incantata perit.

Philosophers have justly observed that most of the diseases treated and
supposed to have been cured by these mystic means, were of a nervous
description, and therefore depending, in a great measure, upon moral
influence. Here faith and hope assisted the physicians,--two great
auxiliaries in every worldly turmoil and trouble. Therefore do we find
most of these cures referred to epilepsy, paralysis, melancholy,
hypochondriasis, hysteria, as well as to many periodical affections, the
return of which is frequently arrested by mental impressions. A fright has
checked the paroxysm of an intermittent fever; and many natural functions
are impeded or brought on by a similar agency. The sight of a dentist has
been often known to calm an excruciating toothache; and there is no
complaint that has been cured by more singular means than this troublesome
affection. In 1794, a tract was published in Florence by Dr. Ranieri
Gerbi, a professor of mathematics in Pisa, entitled _Storia naturale di un
nuovo insetto_, which he called _curculio anti-odontalgicus_, and which,
being squeezed between the fingers, imparted to them, for the period of
one year, the wonderful power of relieving toothache with the mere touch;
and the author asserts that by this simple process he cured four hundred
and one cases out of six hundred and twenty-nine. This may be considered a
branch of magnetism, and has been treated by Schelhammar, in his book _De
Odontalgiá tactu sedandâ_.

This wonderful insect belonged to the _coleoptera_, and was simply the
_curculio_ and the _coccinella septem-punctata_, well known to
entomologists, and which, according to Cipriani Zuccagni, and more
particularly Carradori, possessed these singular properties, which,
however, subsequent experiments have fully disproved.

While we find some _charms_ having sufficient power over our weak
imagination to cure diseases, there were others considered sufficiently
energetic to occasion death. Sometimes a wax figure was made, supposed to
represent the devoted victim, and which was pierced with a pointed
instrument, each stab being accompanied by a magic imprecation:

  Devovet absentes, simulacraque cerea fingit.

These means the ancients called _carmina, incantationes, devotiones
sortiariæ_. It is somewhat strange that this same ceremony of the waxen
image to destroy the object of our hate was also employed to obtain love.
The figure was on these occasions called by the name of the person, and
afterwards placed near the fire, when, as the heat gradually melted it,
the obdurate heart of the lover was simultaneously softened. At other
times two images were thus exposed to heat, the one of clay, the other of
wax; and, while the one melted, the other became more hardened:--a
vindictive feeling, to render our own heart insensible, while we mollified
that of an ingrate; or perhaps with a view to render that heart inflexible
to others, while it propitiated the addresses of the supplicant. Thus

  Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit,
  Uno eodemque igni; sic nostro Daphnis amore.
  Sparge molam, et fragiles incende bitumine lauros.
  Daphnis me malus urit, ego hanc in Daphnide laurum.

The wishes of the ancients for those they loved were sometimes curious,
and they often turned round a mystic wheel, praying that the object of
their affections might fall down at their door and roll himself in the

The ancients, who daily witnessed this influence of the imagination in
causing and in curing disease, have left us many valuable injunctions on
the subject; and Plato thus expresses himself: "The office of the
physician extends equally to the purification of mind and body; to neglect
the one is to expose the other to evident peril. It is not only the body
that by its sound constitution strengthens the soul, but the
well-regulated soul, by its authoritative power, maintains the body in
perfect health."


It is doubtful to whom we owe the introduction of this article of luxury
into Europe. The plant is a native of that part of Arabia called _Yemen_,
but we find no mention made of it until the sixteenth century; and it is
believed that Leonhart Rauwolf, a German physician, was the first writer
who spoke of it, in a work published in 1573. The plant was also described
by Prosper Alpinus, in his treatise on Egyptian plants, published in 1591
and 1592. Pietro della Valle wrote from Constantinople in 1615 that he
would teach Europe the manner in which the Turks made their _cahué_. This
spelling was no doubt incorrect; for, in a pamphlet printed at Oxford in
1659, in Arabic and English, it is written _kauhi_, or _coffee_. Purchas,
who was a contemporary of Della Valle, called it _coffa_; and Burton thus
speaks of its use: "The Turks have a drink called _coffa_, so named of a
berry as black as soot and as bitter, which they sip still of, and sup as
warm as they can suffer. They spend much time in their coffa-houses, which
are somewhat like our alehouses and taverns, and there they sit chatting
and drinking to drive away the time and to be merry together, because they
find by experience that kinde of drink so used helpeth digestion and
procureth alacrity."

The first coffee-house opened in London was in 1652. A Turkey merchant, of
the name of Edwards, having brought with him from the Levant some coffee
and a Greek servant, he allowed him to prepare and sell this beverage;
when he established a house in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, on the spot
where the Virginia Coffee-house now stands. Garraway's was the first
coffee-house opened after the fire in 1666. It appears, however, that
coffee was used in France in 1640; and a sale of it was opened at
Marseilles in 1671.

The introduction of this berry was furiously opposed; and it appears that
in its native land it was treated with no less severity, since, in an
Arabian MS. in the King of France's library, coffee-houses were suppressed
in the East. In 1663 appeared a pamphlet against it, entitled "A Cup of
Coffee, or Coffee in its Colours." In 1672 the following lines were to be
found in another publication, "A Broadside against Coffee, or the Marriage
of the Turk:"

  Confusion huddles all into one scene,
  Like Noah's ark, the clean and the unclean.
  For now, alas! the drench has credit got,
  And he's no gentleman who drinks it not.

Then came "The Woman's Petition against Coffee," which appeared in 1674,
in which we find the following complaint: "It made men as unfruitful as
the deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought, so much so,
that the offspring of our mighty ancestors would dwindle into a succession
of apes and pigmies; and on a domestic message a husband would stop by the
way to drink a couple of cups of coffee." It was then sold in convenient
pennyworths;--hence coffee-houses where wits, _quidnuncs_, and idlers
resorted, were called "penny universities."

While it had adversaries, coffee was not left without eloquent advocates.
Sir Henry Blount, in his _Organon Salutis_, 1659, thus speaks of it: "This
coffa-drink has caused a great sobriety among all nations. Formerly
apprentices, clerks, &c. used to take their morning-draughts in ale,
beer, or wine, which often made them unfit for business. Now they play the
good-fellows in this wakeful and civil drink. The worthy gentleman, Sir
James Muddiford, who introduced the practice hereof in London, deserves
much respect of the whole nation."

It appears, however, that the jealousy with which the use of coffee was
viewed, even by the government, arose more from the nature of the
conversations that took place in coffee-houses during moments of public
excitement, than from the apprehension of any injury that its consumption
might have caused to the public health. In the reign of Charles II.
coffee-houses were shut up by a proclamation, issued in 1675, as the
retailing of coffee "nourished sedition, spread lies, _scandalized great
men_, and might therefore be considered a _common nuisance_." As a
_nuisance_, its abolition was considered as not being an infringement of
the constitution! Notwithstanding this Machiavellian torturing of the
letter to serve the spirit, this arbitrary act occasioned loud and violent
discontent; and permission was given to reopen coffee-houses, on condition
that the landlords should not allow any scandalous papers containing
scandalous reports against the government or _great men_ to be read on
their premises!

The use, or rather the abuse, of coffee is said to produce feverish heat,
anxiety, palpitations, trembling, weakness of sight, and predisposition to
apoplexy. Its effects in checking somnolence have been long known.
However, the action of this berry differs according to its being roasted
or raw. An infusion of torrefied coffee assists digestion, and frequently
removes headaches resulting from derangement in the digestive functions.
It also neutralizes the effect of narcotics, especially opium, and this
power is increased by the addition of lemon juice. A similar mixture has
been known to cure obstinate agues. Musgrave and Percival recommended its
use in asthma: indeed, most persons who labour under this distressing
malady seem to derive relief from its use.

Taking into consideration all that has been advanced in regard to the
inconveniences that may attend the use of coffee and tea, they must be
considered as overruled by the moral results that have arisen from the
introduction of these beverages; and a late writer has observed, that it
has "led to the most wonderful change that ever took place in the diet of
civilized nations,--a change highly important both in a moral and physical
point of view. These beverages have the admirable advantage of affording
stimulus without producing intoxication." Raynal observes, that the use of
tea has contributed more to the sobriety of the Chinese than the severest
laws, the most eloquent discourses, or the best treatises on morality.

The quality and effects of coffee differ according to the manner in which
it is roasted. Bernier states that when he was at Cairo there were only
two persons in that great city who knew how to prepare it to perfection.
If it be underdone, its virtues will not be imparted, and its infusion
will load and oppress the stomach; if it be overdone, its properties will
be destroyed, and it will heat the body, and act as an astringent.

The best coffee is the _Mocha_, or that which is commonly called Turkey
coffee. It should be chosen of a greenish, light, olive hue; the berries
of a middling size, clean, and plump.

The bad effects of coffee may in all likelihood be attributed both to its
powerful and stimulating aroma and to its pungent acidity. According to
Cadet, this acid is the _gallic_; while Grindel considers it the _kinic_,
and Pfaff terms it the _caffeic_ acid. When strongly heated, it yields a
_pyro-caffeic_ acid, from which may be obtained a most pungent vinegar,
that has recently been thrown into trade, but, I believe, with little or
no success.

The principle of coffee is the _caffein_, discovered by Robiquet, in 1821;
and it is to this active principle that its beneficial or baneful effects
can be attributed. Recent experiments tend to show that it is possessed of
powerful febrifuge virtues. To obtain this result, raw coffee has been
used. It gives to water a greenish hue, and, thus saturated, it has been
called the _citrine coffee_. Grindel has used this preparation in the
treatment of intermittent fevers in the Russian hospital of Dorpat; he
also administered the raw coffee in powder. In eighty cases of this fever
scarcely any resisted the power of this medicine, given either in
decoction, powder, or extract; but he seems to consider the latter form
the most effectual. From this physician's observations, coffee may become
a valuable addition to our _materia medica_; and the homoeopathic
practitioners maintain that they have employed it with great success in
various maladies.


It was for a long time supposed that there actually did exist in Italy a
secret poison, the effects of which were slow, and even unheeded, until a
lingering malady had consumed the sufferer. No suspicions were excited;
or, had they led to any _post mortem_ examination, no trace of the
terrific preparation's effects could have been detected.

It was towards the year 1659, during the pontificate of Alexander VII.,
that the existence of this baneful preparation was suspected. Many young
women had been left widows; and many younger husbands, who might have
ceased to please their wives, had died away. A certain society of young
ladies had been observed to meet under the auspices of an elderly matron
of rather a questionable character, who had been known in her horoscopic
predictions to announce deaths that had but too truly taken place about
the period she prophesied. One of the society, it appears, _peached_
against her companions, who were all apprehended and put to the torture;
and the lady patroness, whose name was Spara, was executed with four of
her pupils. This Spara was a Sicilian, who had obtained the fatal secret
from Tofania at Naples. Hence the composition was named _aqua Tofania_,
_aqua della Toffana_, and _acquetta di Napoli_. These deadly drops had
been charitably distributed by Tofania to various uncomfortable ladies who
wished to get rid of their lords, and were contained in small phials,
bearing the inscription of "_Manna de San Nicolas de Bari_." This hag had
lived to an old age, but was at length dragged from a monastery, in which
she had sought a sanctuary, tortured, and duly strangled, after a
confession of her crimes.

Garelli, physician to Charles VI., thus wrote to Hoffmann on the subject:
"Your elegant dissertation on the popular errors respecting poisons
brought to my recollection a certain slow poison which that infamous
poisoner, still alive in prison at Naples, employed to the destruction of
upwards of six hundred persons. It was nothing else than crystallized
arsenic dissolved in a large quantity of water by decoction, with the
addition, but for what purpose I know not, of the herb _cymbalaria_
(_antirrhinum_). This was communicated to me by his Imperial Majesty
himself, and confirmed by the confession of the criminal in the judicial

Abbé Gagliani, however, gives a different account of the secret Neapolitan
drug. "At Naples," he says, "the mixture of opium and cantharides is known
to be a slow poison; the surest of all, and the most infallible, as one
cannot mistrust it. At first, it is given in small doses, that its effects
may be insensible. In Italy it is called _aqua di Tufinia_: no one can
avoid its attacks, since the liquid is as limpid as water, and cannot be
suspected. Most of the ladies of Naples have some of it lying carelessly
on their toilet-tables with smelling-bottles; but they always can know the
fatal phial when they need its contents." A curious observer has remarked
on these two preparations, that the mixture of Garelli was, perhaps,
intended for husbands, while that of Gagliani was for the use of lovers.

This remark appears judicious, since the potion described by the Abbé was
evidently intended as an amorous philter. Under that head I have related
many curious circumstances. There is no doubt but that these preparations
often contained deadly drugs, the perilous qualities of which were most
probably unknown to those who made them up without any sinister motives.
Plutarch and Cornelius Nepos inform us that Lucullus, the Roman General,
lost his reason, and subsequently his life, from having taken one of these
mixtures; and Caius Caligula was driven into a fit of insanity by a
philter given to him by his wife Cæsonia, as described by Lucretius:

  Tamen hoc tolerabile, si non
  Et furere incipias, ut avunculus ille Neronis
  Cui totam tremuli frontem Cæsonia pulli

Virgil also alludes to the powerful and baneful nature of the plants
employed in magical incantations:

  Has herbas, atque hæc Ponto mihi lecta venena
  Ipse dedit Moeris; nascuntur plurima Ponto.
  His ego sæpe lupum fieri, et se condere silvis
  Moerin, sæpe animas imis excire sepulchris,
  Atque satas alio vidi traducere messes.

Female poisoners of a somewhat similar description were known amongst the
ancients. Nero, when he resolved to destroy Britannicus, sent for one of
those murderers, named Locusta, who, convicted of several assassinations,
was pardoned, but kept by the emperor to execute his secret purposes. He
wished that on this occasion the poison should produce immediate death.
Locusta prepared a drug that destroyed a goat in a few minutes. This was
not sufficiently active. The next preparation killed a hog in a few
seconds. It was approved of. The ill-fated youth was seated at the
imperial festive board--the potion poured into his goblet--and he died in
epileptic convulsions. Nero, undisturbed, requested his guests to remain
quiet--the youth he said was subject to similar attacks, which in general
were but of short duration; but soon the black, the livid hue of the face
betrayed the poison, which the imperial assassin sought to conceal, by
ordering this tell-tale sign to be concealed with paint. Sir Henry Halford
seems to think that Juvenal alludes to this circumstance in his first

  Instituit rudes melior Locusta propinquas
  Per famam et populum _nigros_ effere maritos.

The poisons used by the ancients appear to have been of various kinds;
some more slow in their action than others, to suit, most probably, the
views of their employers. Socrates, it is supposed, drank the _cicuta_,
the action of which must have been very slow and weak, since his gaoler
informed him that if he could exert himself in a warm debate, the effects
might be arrested. The philosopher, however, remained tranquil. He shortly
after experienced a numbness in the legs, gradually became insensible, and
expired in convulsions.

These secret poisons were conveyed in the most stealthy manner. Hence it
is related, that the poison prepared by Antipater, to destroy Alexander,
had been conveyed in a mule's hoof, being of so corroding a nature, that
no metallic vessel could contain it. This absurd story was credited by
Plutarch and Quintus Curtius, whereas it appears more probable that poison
was carried in an _onyx_, of which trinkets to contain precious ointments
were frequently made, or under a human nail, also called _Unguis_, or
[Greek: onux]. The latter case was the opinion of Dr. Heberden.

Sir Henry Halford, in his learned and interesting essay on the deaths of
illustrious persons of antiquity, has clearly proved that Alexander was
not poisoned, but died of a lingering fever of a remittent type; a disease
that was most probably endemic in the marshes surrounding the city of

Many absurd ideas regarding venenose substances prevailed in ancient days
as well as in modern times. Hannibal and Themistocles were said to have
been poisoned with bullocks' blood.

Eastern nations fancy that a fascinating power is the gift of virtue. In
the _Hitapadesa_ of _Vishnusannan_ we find the following aphorism: "As a
charmer draweth a serpent from his hole, so a good wife, taking her
husband from a place of torture, enjoyeth happiness with him." Possibly
some receipt of this description may be found in the archives of Doctors'


Hair may be considered a vegetation from the surface of the body. In a
state of health, hairs are insensible, and it is more than probable that
they possess no nerves, and that the circulation is carried on in the same
manner as in plants. In the bulb or root of the hair, however, the vessels
that promote this circulation are numerous, and there we may trace the
diseases that affect this beauteous ornament of mankind, more especially
in the Caucasian race. Long hair, of course, requires more nutriment than
scanty locks, and some physicians have been of opinion that their great
length debilitates. Dr. Parr affirms that he has observed symptoms of
plethoric congestion to arise after long hair had been suddenly cut off.

Vauquelin has made curious experiments on this substance. A solution of
black hair has deposited a black matter containing bitumen, sulphur, and
iron; and alcohol extracted from the same coloured hair a whitish and a
grayish-green oil. Red hair yielded whitish matter and a blood-red oil.
White hair contained phosphate of magnesia, affording a proof of the
disposition towards the formation of calcareous matter in old age. When
hair becomes suddenly white under the shock of a severe moral impression,
Vauquelin is of opinion that this phenomenon is to be attributed to the
sudden extrication of some acid, as the oxymuriatic acid is found to
whiten black hair. Parr thinks that this accident may be owing to an
absorption of the oil of the hair by its sulphur, as in the operation of
whitening woollen cloths.

The _plica_ is a curious and disgusting malady, that has been considered a
disease of the hair, which, according to vulgar report, secreted and shed
blood. This affection is common and endemic in Poland; hence the term
_Polonica_ that has been given to it. The invasion of this pestilence has
been traced to the irruption of the Moguls, from 1241 to 1287, chiefly
under the command of Cayuk, grandson of Yenghiz. The most absurd tales
were then related of the manner in which this dreaded infection was
propagated. Spondanus affirms that it arose from the waters having been
poisoned by venomous plants. Pistorius and Pauli relate that these waters
were corrupted by the great number of human hearts that the Moguls cast in
rivers and in wells. This supposition arose from the unheard-of acts of
barbarity perpetrated by the ferocious invaders on the wretched population
of Prussia, Poland, Hungary, and Transylvania. Their refined cruelty has
been depicted by Gebhardi, in his history of Hungary, in the most glowing

Other historians assert that the plica originated in the East; such is the
opinion of Stabel, Spreugel, and other writers. Rodrigo de Fonseca relates
that the Indians, after drinking certain waters, were attacked with a
disease in which the hair became agglomerated and matted in the most
disgusting manner. Erndtel attributes the malady in Poland to the
gluttonous consumption of horseflesh. However this may be, Poland has been
ever considered the country most exposed to this visitation.

This disease affords a convincing proof of the vascularity of the hair,
since it tumefies, augments in capacity so as to allow an evident
circulation of blood, as the hairs will often bleed when divided with the
scissors. Dr. Kerckhoffs regards the malady as the mere result of the
custom among the filthy Poles of letting the hair grow to an immense
length, of never combing or cleaning it, and always keeping the head
covered with a woollen or leathern cap. Hence he observes that the rich
are generally exempt from the affection which particularly prevails
amongst the Jews. With this view of the disorder, he thinks that
cleanliness and the excision of the matted hair are sufficient to effect a

It is, however, more than probable that other causes occasion this
horrible disease; and there is but little doubt that the system is
affected by a particular virus. In many instances affections of the head
complicate it; although it is likely that they may result from the
constant irritation of the scalp, that sympathizes so powerfully with the
membranes of the brain.

The different names given to the _plica_ indicate more or less the ideas
that prevail regarding its nature. The Poles call it _gwozdiec_ or
_gwodziec_, which signifies a _nail_ that splits the wood into which it is
driven. In the district of the Roxolans it is termed _koltun_, _a stake_.
In Germany superstitious fancies have also given it various curious
denominations. It is called _alpzopf_ and _schraitelzopf_, as being the
result of the _malefices_ of vampires and incubi. By some it is asserted
that the Moravians, natural enemies of the Poles, not having been able to
conquer them by their arms, had recourse to magical art to inflict this
scourge: hence they term it _mahrenflechten_, _mahrenwichtung_. To this
day it is called _hexenzopf_ and _bichteln_, or unbaptized, alluding, no
doubt, to the Jews, who were accused of having introduced the disorder in
the deadly hate they bore the Christians; hence was it also known by the
name of _Judenzopf_ (_Coma Judæorum_).

Amongst the whimsical ideas to which the _plica_ has given rise, the most
extraordinary effort of the imagination was that of Hercules Saxoniæ. He
maintained that the fabulous description of the heads of the Gorgons and
the Furies was derived from this affection: "_Caput Gorgoneum, caput
Furiarum, vera humana capita fuisse, et fictitiis poetarum occasionem

There are instances on record of infants being born with this loathsome
malady. Davidson attributes this circumstance to the mental impressions of
the mother: "_Si ita matris ac nutricis superstitioni placere libuerit_."
The length of the matted hair in plica is frequently considerable:
Bachstrom relates the case of a Prussian woman whose hair extended beyond
the sides of her bed, and she was in the habit of turning it over to make
a quilt of it; Caligerus saw a man in Copenhagen whose clotted locks were
six feet three inches in length; and Rzaczyinski gives an account of a
woman whose hair measured six ells. In the museum of Dr. Meckel, at Halle,
is to be seen a specimen of the disease eight feet long. The beard and the
hair of other parts of the body are equally liable to these attacks; while
the affection has been observed in horses, dogs, and other animals. A
curious case is related on this subject by Dr. Schlegel: A drunken
coachman was carried away by a pair of spirited young horses, who
precipitated themselves, with the fragments of the broken carriage, into
the Moskwa. One of the animals was drowned; but the other contrived to
extricate itself, and swam ashore. It continued sick for a considerable
time, and, on its convalescence the plica broke out in its entire coat.

The assertion that the hairs become endowed with sensibility in this
disorder is unfounded. The pain is experienced in the root or bulb; thus a
painful sensation is occasionally felt when a lock of hair has been turned
back under the nightcap. There is little doubt that the plica is to be
attributed to a specific virus, which pervades the whole system unless
successfully treated. The most serious accidents have arisen from
neglecting it; and Starnigelio gives the following horrible account of its
ravages. "Magno omnium malo magnoque cruciatu divagatur: infringit ossa,
laxat artus, vertebras eorum infestat. Membra conglobat et retorquet;
gibbos efficit, pediculos fundit, caputque aliis atque aliis succedentibus
ita opplet, ut nequaquam purgari possit. Si cirri raduntur, humor ille et
virus in corpus relabitur, et affectos, ut supra scriptum est, torquet;
caput, manus, pedes, omnes artus, omnes juncturas, omnes corporis partes

Amongst the various specifics recommended for the cure of plica, is the
_lycopodium_, hence called _herba plicaria_; the _vinca_, or _perventia_.
The [Greek: daphnoeides] and [Greek: kamai daphnê] of the Greeks was also
extolled, possibly from its supposed powers in cases of incantation,
whence Apuleius calls it "_victoria, quod vinceret pervinceretque injuriam
temporis_." This is the plant for which Rousseau felt such a predilection,
that in after life he never beheld it without experiencing a delightful
recollection of the pleasures of his boyhood. Its flowers are considered
the symbol of virginity, and in Flanders are still called _Maegden-palm_.
In Etruria maidens are crowned with a wreath of it on their funerals.

The decay and fall of the hair is an accident of frequent occurrence. This
unpleasant drawback on vanity has been termed _alopecia_, from the Greek
word [Greek: alôpêx], _vulpes_, a _fox_; this animal and the wolf being
said to lose their hair and become bald sooner than any other quadruped.
The Arabian writers were impressed with the same belief, and named the
affection _daustaleb_, literally the _wolf disease_. Baldness is more
frequent in males than in females; and it has been observed, that
emasculated subjects are exempt from its visitation.

Amongst the singular anomalies that characterize our ideas, the respect in
which hair (naturally unclean unless most carefully attended to) was held
at various periods is as singular as the fond devotion with which it is
treasured when having belonged to the objects of our affections. In
ancient Rome neglected hair was the badge of bondage, and slaves were
distinguished by the _capillum passum, fluxum, et intonsum_. Free men, on
the contrary, took great care of it; and the term _cæsaries_ is said to be
derived from the frequency of its cutting, while _coma_ alluded to the
great attention paid to its ornamental appearance. The Gauls wore long
hair, and their country was thence called _Gallia Comata_. The German
chiefs, deprived of their rank and power, were shorn of their locks as a
mark of degradation and loss of strength. Shaving the heads of criminals
is to this day considered ignominious.

Hair, most unquestionably, constitutes the proudest ornament of female
beauty; and clustering locks, compared both by the ancients and the
Oriental poets to the growth of grapes, has ever been considered a
_desideratum_ at the female toilet, artificial means to curl it having
been resorted to from time immemorial, even by men. We find Virgil
speaking contemptuously of Æneas for the care he took of his locks:

  Vibratos calido ferro, myrrhaque madentes.

The Romans called a man who thus frizzled himself, _homo calamistratus_.

Crisp and curled ringlets were ever admired, and Petrarch thus describes

  Aura che quelle chiome bionde e _crespe_
  Circondi, e movi, e se mossa de loro
  Soave mente, e spargi quel dolce oro
  E poi'l raccogli, e'n bei nodi _l'increspe_.

Apuleius maintains, that if Venus were bald, though circled by the graces
and the loves, she would not please even swarthy Vulcan. Petronius, in his
description of Circe, describes her tresses naturally curling, and falling
negligently over her shoulders, which they entirely covered. Apuleius
praises her trailing locks, thick and long, and insensibly curling,
dispersed over her divine neck, softly undulating with carelessness. Ovid
notices those beauties who platted their braided hair like spiral shells.
Petronius, to give an idea of a perfect beauty, says, that her forehead
was small, and showed the roots of her hair raised upwards. This fashion,
adopted by the Chinese, was not long ago a modish _coëffure_ in France.
Lucian, however, makes Thais say of a rival courtezan, "Who can praise
her person, unless he is blind? Does she not draw up her scanty hair on
her large forehead?"

The ancients also perfumed their hair, especially on festivals, with
various ointments, composed of the spikenard and different balsams. They
also occasionally painted it with a bright yellow. Unhappy must have been
the poor slaves who had to attend a Roman lady's toilet; if a single
ringlet was displaced, the scourge was applied, and the _cow-skin_ of our
West Indian planters, the _Taurea_ ("_scutica de pene taurino_") brought
into play; and not unfrequently the head of the offender was broken with
the steel mirror that betrayed their negligence to the impatient fair one.
As we are on the subject of female ingenuity in endeavouring to spread
their nets more cunningly, it may be some comfort to our modern coquettes
to know that antiquity seems to sanction the use of rouge, notwithstanding
the fate of Jezabel. Plautus tells us that the Roman dames daubed their
faces with the "_fucus_, compound of white lead and of vermilion:" hence
were they called _fucatæ_, _cerusatæ_, and _minionatæ_. Various cosmetics
were also employed, and, when at home, their faces were preserved with a
coat of paste, the skin having been previously rubbed with a pumice-stone,
and then washed with asses' milk. Poppæa, the wife of Nero, had five
hundred asses milked every day for her baths; and when she was exiled, a
reduction of her establishment to fifty asses was considered a severe
chastisement. Patches were also worn, of various shapes and dimensions,
even by men; and Pliny tells us of one Regulus, a lawyer, who put a patch
upon his right or left eye as he was going to plead for plaintiff or

The ancients also wore a certain hair-powder, a custom that was only
revived in Europe in the seventeenth century, since it appears that this
filthy fashion was brought in vogue at the fair of St. Germain, in 1614,
by some beautiful ballad-singers.

In ancient mythology, hair was the symbol of life. All dead persons were
supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the infernal deities, and no man
could resign his life until some of his hair was cut off. Euripides
introduces Death going to cut off some of the hair of Alcestis, when
doomed to die instead of her husband Admetus; and Virgil describes Dido
unable to resign her life, from her hair having been cut off by
Proserpine, until Iris was sent by Juno to perform the kind office:

          "Hunc ego Diti
  Sacrum jussa fero, teque isto corpore solvo."
  Sic ait, et dextra crinem secat; omnis et unà
  Dilapsus, calor, atque in ventos vita recessit.

Locks of hair were suspended over the door of the deceased, to show that
the family were in mourning. On these occasions, the hair was torn, cut
off, or shaved. It was then sometimes strewed over the dead body, or cast
on the funeral pile. On the demise of great men, whole cities and
communities were shorn, while animals shared a similar fate. Admetus, on
the death of Alcestis, ordered this operation to be performed on his
chariot horses: and when Masistius was slain by the Athenians, the
Persians shaved themselves, their horses, and their mules. Alexander, not
satisfied with this testimony of grief, ordered the very battlements of a
city to be knocked down, that the town might look bald and shorn of its

While in some cases bald heads were expressive of affliction, in others
long hair denoted grief; Joseph allowed his hair to grow during his
captivity; and Mephibosheth did the same when David was banished from
Jerusalem. Juvenal informs us that mariners, on their escape from
shipwreck, shaved their heads; and Lycophron describes long and neglected
hair as a sign of general lamentation.

To be shaved by barbers was a proof of cheerfulness; but to cut off one's
own hair denoted mourning. Hence Artemidorus informs us that for a man to
dream of shaving himself was a presage of some calamity. However, this
ceremony may, in its signification, be attributed to the customs of the
various nations. Where the hair was generally worn short, its length
indicated grief, and _vice versâ_. The filth of long and neglected hair
might also have been considered a proper and respectful mark of
tribulation; for the ancients fancied that rolling themselves in the dirt
was a convincing proof of affection; and we see Oeneus besmearing
himself with nastiness on the death of his son Meleager:

  Pulvere canitiem genitor, vultusque seniles
  Foedat humi fusos, spatiosumque increpat ævum.

Shaving was also a nuptial ceremony, when virgins presented their hair to
Venus, Juno, Minerva, Diana, and other propitious divinities. At
Troezene virgins were obliged to sacrifice their hair to Hippolytus, the
son of Theseus, who died for his chastity. The Megarensian maidens
presented them to Sphinoe, daughter of Alcathous, who died a virgin.
Statius records this ceremony, when speaking of Minerva's temple:

            Hic more parentum
  Insides, thalamis ubi casta adolescerat ætas,
  Virgineas libare comas; primosque solebant
  Excusare toros.


Are we to give credit to the various observations that record the
wonderful effects of animal magnetism; or should we reject them as the
impostures of knaves, or the result of the credulity of fools? It is now
nearly half a century since this method of relieving diseases has been
introduced by modern practitioners. Thousands of disinterested and candid
witnesses have corroborated their assertions, and testified to their
veracity. How, then, are we authorized to treat this doctrine as visionary
or fraudulent? The most learned bodies have not thought it derogatory to
their dignity to investigate the matter; and, notwithstanding opposition,
ridicule, and contempt, the practice obtains to the present day. It has,
no doubt, been materially impeded in its progress by the invectives of
occasional scepticism; but such will ever be the case with science, and
those discoveries which accelerate its inevitable empire on the human
understanding. Persecution may be considered as the harbinger of truth,
or, at any rate, of that investigation which directs to it. Pythagoras was
banished from Athens; Anaxagoras was immured in a dungeon; Democritus was
considered a maniac, and Socrates condemned to death. An advanced and
honourable old age did not protect Galileo against his barbarous
persecutors. Varolius was decreed an infamous and execrable man for his
anatomical discoveries, and our immortal Harvey was looked upon as a
dangerous madman. Inoculation and vaccination were deemed impious attempts
to interfere with the decrees of Providence.

Magnetism may be defined as a reciprocal influence which is supposed to
exist between individuals, arising from a state of relative harmony, and
brought into action by the will, the imagination, or physical sensibility.
This influence is said to exist in a peculiar fluid, transmissible from
one body to another under certain conditions of each individual, without
which the expected results are not manifest. Under these conditions, the
effects of animal magnetism are obtained by manual application, by
gestures, words, and even looks, more frequently, as may be easily
conceived, with nervous, weak, and impressionable individuals. By these
means magnetizers affirm that they can effect cures when all other
remedial endeavours have been of no avail, either when the patient is
awake or in a state of artificial somnambulism.

The history of this doctrine is curious. The ancients fully admitted the
power of sympathy in the cure of diseases; but generally attributed its
action to the interference of Divinity, or the operation of sorcery and
enchantment. A remarkable affinity can be traced between modern magnetism
and its supposed phenomena, and the relations of the Pythian and Sibylline
oracles, the wonders of the caverns of Trophonius and Esculapius, and the
miraculous dreams and visions in the temples of the gods. Amongst the
Hebrews, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and Romans, we constantly discover
traces of this supposed power of manual apposition, friction, breathing,
and the use of the charms of music and mystic amulets. The Egyptian
priesthood were considered as possessing a divine attribute in healing
diseases. Prosper Alpinus, in his treatise on the medicine of the
Egyptians, informs us that mysterious frictions were one of their secret
remedies. The patients were oftentimes wrapped in the skins of animals,
and carried into the sanctuary of their temples to be assisted by visions,
that appeared either to them or to their physicians, who pretended that
Isis was the immortal source of these celestial inspirations. The same
divine assistance was firmly believed by the Hebrews. It was intimated to
Miriam and Aaron that the Lord would make himself known to them in a
vision, and speak to them in a dream; and we find in Deuteronomy that the
signs and the wonders of prophets and dreamers of dreams were to be
considered as the abominations of idolaters, who were to be put to death
without pity. This anathema on false prophets was not unfrequently
rigorously carried into execution, and we read in the Book of Kings the
destruction of all the worshippers of Baal. Ahab marched upon
Ramoth-Gilead by the advice of his prophets.

The sympathetic power of corporeal apposition was illustrated when Elisha,
to revive the widow's child, stretched himself three times upon him and
prayed to the Lord. When Elisha restored the child of the Shunamite to
life he lay upon it, put his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes,
and his hands upon his hands, and he stretched himself upon the child, and
the child opened its eyes. Miracles were generally wrought by manual
application or elevation. Naaman expected that Elisha would have stricken
his hand over the place to cure his leprosy; and we find in the Scriptures
that our SAVIOUR healed the sick upon whom he laid his hands. Amongst the
Greeks we again see the same ceremonies performed on all wonderful
recoveries. Plutarch tells us that Pyrrhus cured persons with diseased
spleens by passing his hand over the seat of the malady. Ælianus informs
us that the Psylli performed their cures by stretching themselves upon the
patients, and making them swallow water with which they had rinsed their
mouths; and he also mentions that those who approached these mysterious
agents were seized with a sudden stupor, and deprived of their intellects
until they had left them. Apollonius brought a young girl to life by
touching her, and leaning over her as though he were whispering some magic
words in her ear; and Origenes affirms that there were sages who dispensed
health with their mere breath. Vespasian restored sight to the blind by
rubbing their eyes and cheeks with his saliva, and cured a paralytic by
merely touching him: the same emperor kept himself in perfect health by
frequently rubbing his throat and his body. From a passage of Plautus, it
appears that this manual application was resorted to in his days to
procure sleep. Mercury is made to say, "Quid si ego illum tractem, tangam
ut dormiat;" to which Sosia replies, "Servaveris, nam continuas has tres
noctes pervigilavi."

Pliny maintains that there exist persons whose bodies are endowed with
medicinal properties; but he admits, at the same time, that imagination
may produce these salutary emanations. Celsus informs us that Asclepiades
by friction could calm a phrensy; and further states, that when these
frictions were carried to too great an extent, they brought on a lethargic
state. Cælius Aurelianus recommends manual frictions for the cure of
pleurisy, lethargy, and various other maladies, describing the manner in
which they are to be conducted: for instance, in epilepsy, the head and
forehead are to be chafed, then the hand is to be carried gently over the
neck and bosom; at other times, the extremities of the hands and feet are
to be grasped, that "we may cure by the very act of holding the limb."

That remedies were indicated in a state of somnambulism is affirmed by
Tertullian, who thus speaks of one of the followers of Prisca and
Maximilla, two women who foretold future events when they fell into an
ecstatic swoon: "She conversed with angels, discovered the most hidden
mysteries, prophesied, read the secrets of the heart, and pointed out
remedies when she was consulted by the sick." He thus describes ecstasy in
his treatise _De Anima_: "It is not sleep, for during sleep all reposes;
whereas in ecstasy the body reposes, while the soul is actively employed.
It is therefore a mixed state of sleep and ecstasy which constitutes the
prophetic faculty, and it is then that we have revealed unto us, not only
all that appertaineth to honour, to riches, but the means of curing our
diseases." St. Stephen relates the case of a youth who was in such a
lethargic state, that he was insensible to all painful agents, and could
not be awakened; but when he recovered his senses, he declared that two
persons, the one aged, the other young, had appeared to him and
recommended sea-bathing. He complied with the instruction, and was cured.
But the miracles of paganism were soon discredited, when the relics and
tombs of saints were resorted to instead of the temples of the false gods;
and priests assumed the power once held by their Chaldean and Egyptian
predecessors, and the Druids of Gaul. The beatified were not only
physicians during their life, but medicinal after death. St. Gregory of
Tours tells us that St. Cosmus and St. Damian were not only able
physicians during their blessed existence, but assisted all those who
consulted them in their tombs, not unfrequently appearing to them in
visions, and prescribing the proper remedies. A saint's breathing upon a
veil, and then placing it on the head of a demoniac, infallibly cast out
the evil one; and St. Bernard never failed in his exorcisms, by making the
possessed swallow some water in which he had dipped his hands. St. Martin
stopped the most fearful hemorrhage by merely touching the patient with
his garment. The shrines of St. Litardus, St. Anthony, and various other
saints, lulled to sleep, and inspired with miraculous visions those who
sought their aid.

However, as the progress of intellect dispelled the dark clouds that
shrouded the middle ages in superstitious and credulous prejudices,
philosophy endeavoured to investigate the nature of this mysterious
agency, which priests had for so many centuries usurped as their special
gift and property. Sceptic as to supernatural powers in the common
occurrences of life, philosophers attributed these phenomena to some
peculiar principle with which organized bodies were endowed, and hence
arose the dawn of the doctrine of animal magnetism. So early as 1462,
Pomponatius of Mantua maintained, in his work on incantation, that all the
pretended arts of sorcery and witchcraft were the mere results of natural
operations; he further gave it as his opinion, that it was not improbable
but that external means, called into action by the soul, might relieve our
sufferings; that there, moreover, did exist individuals endowed with
salutary properties, and it might therefore easily be conceived that
marvellous effects should be produced by the imagination, and by
confidence, more especially when they are reciprocal between the patient
and the person who assists his recovery; physicians and men of sense being
well convinced that if the bones of any animal were substituted for those
of a saint, the result would be the same. It need not be added that our
author was violently persecuted for this heretical doctrine. Two years
after, Agrippa, in Cologne, asserted that the soul, inflamed by a fervent
imagination, could dispense health and disease, not only in the individual
himself, but in other bodies. In 1493, Paracelsus expressed himself in the
following language: "All doubt destroys work, and leaves it imperfect in
the wise designs of nature. It is from faith that imagination draws its
strength. It is by faith that it becomes complete and realized. He who
believeth in nature, will obtain from nature to the extent of his faith.
Let the object of this faith be real or imaginary, you nevertheless reap
similar results; and hence the cause of superstition."

Cardanus, Bacon, and Van Helmont pursued this study; and the latter
physician, having cured several cases by magnetism, was considered a
sorcerer, and was seized by the Inquisition. Magnetism, he observed, "is a
universal agent, and only novel in its appellation, and paradoxical to
those who ridicule every thing they do not comprehend, or attribute to
Satan what they cannot understand. The name of magnetism is given to that
occult influence which bodies possess on each other at various distances,
either by attraction or by impulsion. The means or the vehicle of this
influence is an ethereal spirit, pure, vital, (_magnale magnum_,) which
penetrates all matter, and agitates the mass of the universe. This spirit
is the moderator of the world, and establishes a correspondence between
its several parts and the powers with which it is endowed. We can attach
to a body the virtues that we possess, communicate to it certain
properties, and use it as the intermediate means to operate salutary
effects. I have hitherto withheld the revelation of this great mystery.
There exists in man a certain energy, which can act beyond his own person
according to his will or his imagination, and impart virtues and exercise
a durable influence even in distant objects. Will is the first of powers."
Van Helmont fully admitted the wonderful faculties that somnambulism
seemed to develop, and informs us that it was chiefly during his sleep
that he was inspired with his doctrines. One might have imagined that
these philosophic researches would have put an effectual stop to the
progress of superstition, or rather of persecution; yet their promulgation
could not save Urbain Grandier, and many supposed sorcerers, from a
barbarous death.

It was in the beginning of the eighteenth century that various experiments
were made with the loadstone in researches regarding electricity. In 1754,
Lenoble had constructed magnets that could be used with facility in the
treatment of various diseases. In 1774, Father Hell, a Jesuit and
professor of astronomy at Vienna, having cured himself of a severe
rheumatism by magnetism, related the result of his experiments to Mesmer.
This physician was immediately struck with observations that illustrated
his own theories respecting planetary influence. He forthwith proceeded to
procure magnets of every form and description for the gratuitous treatment
of all those that consulted him; and, while he widely diffused his
doctrines, he sent his magnets in every direction to aid the experimental
pursuits of others, and thus expressed himself on the subject in a memoir
published in 1779: "I had maintained that the heavenly spheres possessed a
direct power on all the constituent principles of animated bodies,
particularly on the _nervous system_, by the agency of an all-penetrating
fluid. I determined this action by the INTENSION and the REMISSION of the
properties of matter and organized bodies, such as gravity, cohesion,
elasticity, irritability, and electricity. I supported this doctrine by
various examples of periodical revolutions; and I named that property of
the animal matter, which renders it susceptible to the action of celestial
and earthly bodies, ANIMAL MAGNETISM. A further consideration of the
subject led me to the conviction that there does exist in nature an
universal principle, which, independently of ourselves, performs all that
we vaguely attribute to nature or to art."

Mesmer, as might have been foreseen, became the object of persecution and
of ridicule, and withdrew to Switzerland and Suabia. It was there that he
met with a certain Gassner of Braz, who, having fancied that an exorcism
had relieved him from a long and painful malady, took it into his head to
exorcise others. He considered the greater part of the disorders, to which
flesh is heir as the work of the devil, and he counteracted his baneful
influence in the name of our SAVIOUR. He divided these diabolical
visitations into _possessions_, _obsessions_, and _circumsessions_; the
latter being trifling invasions. For the purpose of ascertaining whether
his patients laboured under natural or infernal ailments, he conjured
Satan to declare the truth. If, after three solemn interpellations, and
signs of the cross, the devil did not answer, the disorder was considered
as coming within the province of medicine; but if, on the contrary, the
patient fell into convulsions, Gassner drew forth his stole and crucifix,
and, in the name of the Redeemer, commenced rubbing and pinching,
sometimes in the most indecorous manner, when females were submitted to
his manipulations. When his attempts failed, he accused the patient of
want of faith or of the commission of some deadly sin, which baffled his
endeavours. His fame became so universal, that the Bishop of Ratisbon sent
for him, and he exercised his art under his auspices. At one period, the
town was so crowded with his patients, that ten thousand of them were
obliged to encamp without the walls. It appears that this adventurer had
the power of acting upon the pulse, and could increase or retard it,
render it regular or intermittent, and was even reported to paralyze limbs
and produce tears or laughter at will. It is scarcely credible, yet the
celebrated De Haen, one of the most distinguished and learned
practitioners in Germany, not only believed in the power of this Gassner,
but actually attributed it to a paction with the devil.

Mesmer was not so credulous, and explained the miraculous cures of Gassner
by the doctrines of the animal magnetism which he advocated. From Suabia
he returned to Vienna, whence he was expelled as a quack; and in 1778
arrived at Paris, a capital that had patronised Cagliostro and St.
Germain, and was ever ready to be deceived by ingenious empiricism. In
1779 he published a paper on the subject, in which he maintained
twenty-seven propositions to establish his supposed influence between the
celestial bodies, the earth, and animated matter, produced by a fluid
universal, subtile, susceptible of receiving, transmitting, and
communicating its impressions, on mechanical principles, until then
unknown, and producing alternate effects of flux and reflux. This powerful
agent, he said, acted chiefly on the nervous system. The human body,
moreover, according to his notions, possessed properties analogous to the
loadstone, and presenting an opposed polarity, subject to various
modifications, which either strengthened or weakened it. The action of
animal magnetism, according to him, was not confined to animal matter, but
could be equally communicated to inanimate bodies at various distances.
Mirrors could reflect and increase its power like the rays of light, and
sound could propagate and increase it. This magnetic property, he further
stated, could be accumulated, concentrated, and transported at pleasure,
although there did exist animated bodies possessed of properties so
opposite as to render this powerful agent inefficient. He found that the
loadstone was susceptible of animal magnetism, and of its opposite
virtues, without any apparent influence on its power over iron and the
needle; whence he concluded that there existed a wide difference between
animal and mineral magnetism.

Mesmer soon found a warm advocate of his doctrines in a Dr. D'Eslon, and
animal magnetism became in fashionable vogue. Not only were men and
animals subjected to their experiments, but this wondrous influence was
communicated to trees and plants, and the celebrated elm-tree of Beaugency
was magnetized by the Marquis de Puységur and his brother; while the
enthusiastic D'Eslon absolutely went knocking from door to door to procure
patients. Breteuil, who was then one of the ministers, offered Mesmer a
yearly pension of thirty thousand francs, with a sum of three hundred
thousand francs in cash, with the decoration of St. Michael, if he would
consent to reveal the mysteries of his science to the medical faculty.
This tempting offer our magnetizer indignantly rejected, and a secret
society was instituted under the name of the Lodge and Order of Harmony.
The charms and the power of youth and music were not neglected as
auxiliaries to propagate the fashionable doctrine. Young men of elegant
manners and athletic form were initiated in the practice of magnetizing,
and the _salons_ of Paris consecrated to this worship (for such it might
have been termed) were crowded with the most fascinating women that the
gay metropolis of France could produce. Most of these females, impassioned
by nervous excitability, as loose in their morals as to outward appearance
they were fervent in their devotions, abandoned themselves without reserve
to the delightful sensations that magnetism and its surrounding machinery
were said to afford. In their ecstasies, their hysteric attacks, their
spasms, Mesmer, the high-priest, fancifully dressed, but in the height of
fashion, with his useful acolytes, endeavoured to soothe and calm the
agitation of their enchanting patients by all the means that Mesmerism
could devise.

It soon became pretty evident that these phenomena were solely to be
attributed to the influence of imagination; and Doppet, one of the most
ardent disciples of the new creed, frankly avowed that "those who were
initiated in the secrets of Mesmer entertained more doubts on the subject
than those who were in thorough ignorance of them." Notwithstanding this
evidence brought forward against Mesmer's fascinating practice, he was
warmly eulogised even by high churchmen; and Hervier, a doctor of
Sorbonne, did not hesitate to assert that the Golden Age was on the
return; that man would be endowed with fresh vigour, live for the space of
five generations, and only succumb to the exhaustion of age; that all the
animal kingdom would enjoy a similar blessing; while magnetized trees
would yield more abundant and delicious fruits. This belief of the good
ecclesiastic arose, according to his own assertion, from his having been
cured of some cruel disorder by magnetism, while all his intimate
acquaintances insisted that he had never ceased to enjoy perfect health.

Such were the circumstances that attended the introduction of animal
magnetism, which to this day is defended and maintained by ardent
proselytes. Sound philosophy can only attribute its wonderful phenomena,
many of which cannot be denied, to the influence of the imagination, and
the all-powerful deceptive agency of faith. It is an incontrovertible
fact, that the nervous system may be so worked upon, thrown by various
secret and physical means into such a morbid condition, that results
bordering upon the miraculous in the eyes of the credulous may be easily
obtained. Every circumstance that appears to differ from the usual course
of nature is deemed miraculous by the ignorant; and the Greek proverb
[Greek: thaumata môrois], plainly maintains that miracles are only for the
simple. In fact, who are the persons who in our times cry out "miracle,"
but weak and timid men, worn out by excesses or age, labouring under the
influence of terror; silly old women, who have not the power of reasoning;
or nervous and enthusiastic females, who seek for some saving clauses in a
pact between vice and virtue, depravity and religion.

All the wonders of the creation are miraculous, if we are to consider
those phenomena that are, and most probably will ever remain, beyond our
humble and miserable comprehension to be such. The manifestations of the
Creator's will are daily exhibited in stupendous forms that strike the
ignorant with awe, while they lead the man of science to bow in grateful
veneration to that Almighty power that has harmonized the creation for our
wellbeing, if we would only obey the sublime dictates of his laws, without
attempting to scrutinize their spirit by quibbling with their letter.

There can be but little doubt that the wonders of magnetism may be
referred to the imagination; yet some of the phenomena must excite our
surprise, and may occasion some degree of hesitation in invariably
attributing its results to fancy. The Academy of Medicine of Paris having
appointed a commission of twelve members to examine and report upon it,
their inferences were as follow:

1. The effects of magnetism were not evident in healthy persons, and in
_some_ invalids.

2. They were _scarcely_ apparent in others.

3. They _often_ appeared to be the result of ennui, monotony, and the
influence of imagination.

4. Lastly, _they are developed independently of these causes, very
probably by the effects of magnetism alone_.

The points of this report that I have printed in italics prove most
clearly that the members of the commission, all of whom were decidedly
adverse to the doctrine, were convinced, at least to a certain extent, by
the experiments they had witnessed, of some singular powers residing in
this mysterious science. Such must have been the case, since we find three
members seceding from their associates, Laennec, Double, and Magendie, all
well known as distinguished physiologists, somewhat inclined to pure
materialism, and what may be termed _matter-of-fact_ men, who would
hesitate in yielding their belief to any assertion that the scalpel could
not demonstrate. Notwithstanding the protest of these gentlemen, the
following were the conclusions of the commission:

1. Contact of the thumbs and magnetic movements are the means of relative
influence employed to transmit magnetic action.

2. Magnetism acts on persons of different age and sex.

3. Many effects appear to depend on magnetism alone, and are not
reproduced without it.

4. These effects are various. Sometimes magnetism agitates, at other times
it calms. It generally causes acceleration of the pulse and respiration,
slight convulsive movements, somnolency, and, in a few cases,

5. The existence of peculiar characters of somnambulism has not yet been

6. It may, however, be inferred that this state of somnambulism prevails
when we notice the development of new faculties, such as _clairvoyance_
and intuitive foresight, or when it produces changes in the physiological
condition of the individual, such as insensibility, sudden increase of
strength, since these effects cannot be attributed to any other cause.

7. When the effects of magnetism have been produced, there is no occasion
on subsequent trials to have recourse to _passes_.[42] The look of the
magnetizer and his will have the same influence.

8. Various changes are effected in the perceptions and faculties of those
persons in whom somnambulism has been induced.

9. Somnambulists have distinguished with closed eyes objects placed before
them. They have, then, read words, recognised colours, named cards, &c.

10. In two somnambulists we witnessed the faculty of foreseeing acts of
the organism to take place at periods more or less distant. One announced
the day, the hour, and the minute of the invasion and recurrence of an
epileptic fit; the other foresaw the period of his recovery. Their
anticipations were realized.

11. We have only seen one somnambulist who had described the symptoms of
the diseases in three individuals presented to her.

12. In order to establish justly the relations of magnetism with
therapeutics, one must have observed the effects on a number of
individuals, and have made experiments on sick persons. Not having done
this, the commissioners can only say, they have seen too few cases to
enable them to form a decisive opinion.

13. Considered as an agent of physiological phenomena, or of therapeutics,
magnetism should find a place in the range of medical science, and be
either practised, or its employment superintended by a physician.

14. From the want of sufficient opportunities, the commission could not
verify the existence of any other faculties in somnambulists; but its
reports contain facts sufficiently important to conclude that the Academy
ought to encourage researches in animal magnetism, as a curious fact of
psychology and natural history.

This report was impugned by Mr. Dubois, in what he calls his rational
conclusions, which of course maintain that those of the commission were
irrational. However, in this paper he merely affirms his own incredulity,
without supporting it upon any grounds of experiment or observation; and
therefore his observations must be considered an individual attempt to
refute the assertions of a body of scientific men, who, after diligently
and maturely weighing the arguments in favour of a doctrine that they were
previously disposed to condemn as unworthy of research, came to the
conclusions that we have seen.

While the French Academy did not consider it beneath their dignity to
investigate this doctrine, in other parts of Europe it attracted the
attention both of the reigning monarchs and the most distinguished
physicians. In Prussia, Hufeland, who had been one of the warmest
opponents of magnetism, became a convert; and a clinical hospital was
established in Berlin, by order of the government, to observe and record
its phenomena. At Frankfort and Groningen, Drs. Passavant and Bosker
published works on the subject; the latter having translated the critical
history of Deleuze. At Petersburg, Dr. Stoffreghen, first physician of the
Emperor, pronounced himself with several colleagues in its favour; and
most of these distinguished men seemed to partake of the opinion of the
justly celebrated Orfila, who certainly may be considered as an authority,
and who thus expressed himself on the subject:

"If there exists trickery and quackery in animal magnetism, its
adversaries are too hasty in refusing to admit all that has been asserted
in regard to its effects. The testimony of enlightened physicians should
be considered as proofs. If the magnetic phenomena appear extraordinary,
the phenomena of electricity appeared equally marvellous in its origin.
Was Franklin to be considered a quack when he announced that with a
pointed metal he could command thunder? Whether magnetism acts in good or
in evil, it is clearly a therapeutic agent, and it behoves both the honour
and the duty of the Academy to examine it."

Such is the present state of this curious science. To what credit it may
be entitled, and how far it may become a useful medical agent, experience
alone can decide. At the same time, it would be unjust to assert, in our
present ignorance, that all the learned and independent men who support it
are either fools or knaves.[43]


The deleterious qualities of certain fishes have long been the subject of
medical conjectures. It is somewhat singular, and most difficult to
account for, that the same fish should be wholesome in some waters, and
deadly in others, although under the same latitude, and when, to all
appearance at least, no local cause can be discovered to which we might
reasonably attribute this fatal property. So powerful and prompt moreover,
it is in its action that rapid death will ensue whenever a small portion
of the fish has been eaten. Such, for instance, is generally the case with
the yellow-bill sprat, the _clypea thrissa_.

Some naturalists attribute this poison to copper banks, on or near which
the fish may feed. The absurdity of this opinion has been fully
demonstrated; in the first instance, no such copper banks have been
discovered in the West Indies, and these fish abound on the coasts of
islands of coral formation. Moreover, it is not likely that this mineral
should saturate the animal; and, even if it could produce this effect, the
entire body would in all probability be affected, whereas the poison seems
to lie in particular parts, chiefly in the intestines, the liver, the fat,
&c. This is evident from the practice of fishermen, who can eat poisonous
fish with impunity if they have taken the precaution to draw them
carefully and salt them. In addition to these observations, the symptoms
of the disease thus produced, by no means resemble those of mineral
poisons. Dr. Chisholm, who pretends that copper banks do exist in the
Windward Islands, is of this opinion. Admitting the facts, it may be
asked, have the waters of these seas been impregnated by the copper? if
they are not, how can its influence extend to its inhabitants? and why are
particular fish only affected? Moreover, although it is well known that
certain substances are deleterious to some animals and harmless to others,
yet one might fancy that, if the coppery principal of an animal's flesh
could poison, it is not irrational to think that the same deadly substance
would also destroy the animal. The presence of this mineral has never been
detected by any chemical test; and, if the poison consisted in copper, how
could salting the fish destroy it? In opposition to these objections, it
has been maintained that fish may be rendered poisonous by feeding on the
marine plants that grow upon these deadly banks. Now, unless it could be
proved that copper is not injurious to fish, these same lithophyta and
zoophyta would no doubt poison them.

However, it is more than probable that it is to a certain injurious food
that these dangerous qualities are to be referred. Various plants that
grow in these regions are of a poisonous nature to man, although, as I
have just observed, they may not be so destructive to fish. The
circumstance of the alimentary tube being more poisonous than any other
part seems to warrant the conclusion; and I have observed in the West
Indies, that the crabs that feed upon banks where the manchineel is to be
found, frequently occasion serious, and sometimes fatal accidents. On the
coast of Malabar, crabs are poisonous in the month of October, when the
_blue tithymale_ abounds.

Whatever may be the causes of this deadly principle, the effects are most
rapid. When a large quantity has been taken, the patient soon dies in
strong convulsions; but frequently, when the quantity and the nature of
the poison have not been sufficient to occasion death, the body becomes
emaciated, the cuticle peels off, particularly on the palms of the hands
and the soles of the feet, the hair drops, acute pains shoot through every
joint, and the sufferer not unfrequently sinks under a lingering disease.
In these cases change of climate has been found the most effectual remedy,
and a return to Europe becomes indispensable.

The usual symptoms that denote the presence of the poison, are languor,
heaviness, drowsiness, great restlessness, flushing of the face, nausea,
griping, a burning sensation, at first experienced in the face and eyes,
and then extending over the whole body; the pulse, at first hard and
frequent, soon sinks, and becomes slow and feeble. In some cases the
salivary glands become tumefied with a profuse salivation; and the body,
and its perspiration, are as yellow as in the jaundice. These peculiar
symptoms have frequently been known to arise after eating the _rock-fish_.

The remedies that are usually resorted to are stimulants. Capsicum has
been considered a powerful antidote; and the use of ardent spirits or
cordials has also been strongly urged. It has been observed, that persons
who had drunk freely, or who had taken a dram after eating fish that had
disordered others, were, comparatively speaking, exempt from the severity
of the disease. A decoction of the root of the _sour-sop_, and an infusion
of the flowers of the _white cedar_ and the _sensitive plant_ have also
been advised by several West India practitioners.

The practice of putting a silver spoon in the water in which fish is
boiled, to ascertain its salubrity, is a popular test that cannot be
depended on. Fishermen have observed that fish that have no scales are
more apt to prove injurious; and those of uncommon size are looked upon as
the most dangerous.

To ascertain whether the nature of the fishes' food could thus render them
poisonous, Mr. Moreau de Jonnês had recourse to many curious experiments.
He took portions of polypes found in the waters reputed dangerous, more
particularly the _liriozoa Caribæa_, the _millepora polymorpha_, the
_gorgonia pinnata_, the _actinia anemone_, &c., and, having enveloped them
in paste, he fed fishes with them; but in no one instance was any
prejudicial result observed. He tried in the same manner the _physalis
pelagica_ of Lamark, which contains an acrid and caustic fluid; but the
fish invariably refused it, nor would they touch fragments of the
manchineel apple.

Oysters have been known to produce various accidents; and, when they were
of a green colour, it has been supposed that this peculiarity was also due
to copper banks. This is an absurdity; the green tinge is as natural to
some varieties as to the _esox belone_, whose bones are invariably of the
same hue as verdigrise. Muscles frequently occasion feverish symptoms,
attended with a red, and sometimes a copper-coloured, efflorescence over
the whole body. These accidents appear to arise from some peculiar
circumstances. In Boulogne I attended a family in which all the children
who had eaten muscles were labouring under this affection, while not
another instance of it was observed in the place. In the Bahama Islands I
witnessed a fatal case in a young girl who had eaten crabs; she was the
only sufferer, although every individual in the family had shared in the
meal. The idea of the testaceous mollusca avoiding copper-bottomed
vessels, while they are found in abundance on those that are not sheathed,
is absurd; this circumstance can be easily explained by the greater
facility these creatures find in adhering to wood. There is every reason
to believe, that the supposed poisonous oysters found adhering to the
copper bottom of a ship in the Virgin Isles, and the occasional accidents
amongst the men that ate them, were only so in the observer's imagination,
and that part of the ship's company were affected by some other causes.
Another report, equally absurd, was that of the fish having gradually
quitted the Thames and Medway since coppering ships' bottoms has been
introduced! The following may be considered the fish that should be

  The Spanish mackerel,     _Scomber cæruleo-argenteus_.
  The yellow-billed sprat,  _Clupea thrissa_.
  The baracuta,             _Esox baracuta_.
  Grey snapper,             _Coracinus fuscus_.
  The porgie,               _Sparus chrysops_.
  The king-fish,            _Scomber maximus_.
  The hyne,                 _Coracinus minor_.
  Bottle-nosed cavallo,     _Scomber_.
  Old wife,                 _Balistes monoceros_.
  Conger eel,               _Muræna major_.
  Sword-fish,               _Xiphias gladius_.
  Smooth bottle-fish,       _Ostracion globellum_.
  Rock-fish,                _Perca manna_.

I have known accidents arise from the use of the dolphin on the high seas;
and, while I was in the West Indies, a melancholy instance of the kind
occurred, when the captain, mate, and three seamen of a trading vessel
died from the poison; a passenger, his wife, and a boy, were the only
survivors, and were fortunately picked up in the unmanageable vessel.

The above catalogue of poisonous fishes is extracted from Dr. Dancer's
"Jamaica Practice of Physic," and its correctness fell under my own
observation in the Wrest Indies. The different systems and classifications
of ichthyologists have produced much confusion, and may lead to fatal
errors; I think it therefore advisable to submit to travellers, who may
have to visit these unhealthy regions, the names of the _toxicophorous_
fishes according to the French momenclature.

  Le poisson armé,          _Diodon orbicularis_.
  La lune,                  _Tetraodon mola_.--LINN.
  Le tétraodon ocellé,      _T. ocellatus_.
  Le t. scélérat,           _T. scelreatus_.
  La vieille,               _Balistes vetula_.
  La petite vieille,      { _B. monoceros_.--LINN.
                          { _Alutus monoceros_.--CUVIER.
  Le coffre triangulaire,   _Ostracion trigonus_.--BLOCH.
  La grande orphie,         _Esox Brasiliensis_.--LINN.
  La petite orphie,         _E. marginatus_.--LACEPEDE.
  Le congre,                _Muræna conger_.--MINN.
  Le perroquet,             _Sparus psittacus_.--LACEPEDE.
  Le capitaine,             _S. erythrinus_.--BLOCH.
  La bécune,                _Sphyræna becuna_.
  Le thon,                  _Scomber thynnus_.--LINN.
  La carangue,              _Caranx carangus_.

A work, in which a _synonymous_ catalogue of all the fishes supposed to be
poisonous might be found, would be highly desirable, as they generally
bear different popular and scientific names, thus producing a dangerous
confusion even amongst naturalists; how much more dangerous amongst
seafaring people and voyagers!

I cannot conclude this article without noticing the singular properties of
those electric fishes denominated the _torpedo-ray_ and the _gymnote_.
They had been long known to naturalists, and the ancients attributed their
destructive faculties to a magic power that Oppian had recorded in his
_Alieuticon_, where he describes a fisherman palsied through the hook, the
line, and the rod. This influence being voluntary on the part of the
animal, seemed to warrant the belief in its mischievous nature, since it
allows itself sometimes to be touched with impunity, while at others it
burrows itself under the sand of the beach, when the tide has receded, and
maliciously benumbs the astonished passenger who walks over it. This
singular fish, which is common in the Mediterranean Sea, has been
described both by the Greek and Roman writers; amongst others, by
Aristotle and Athenæus: and Socrates, in his Dialogues, compares a
powerful objection, to the influence of the torpedo.

This voluntary faculty has been observed by Lacépède and Cloquet in the
Mediterranean, and at La Rochelle. In torpedos kept in water for
experimental purposes, Réaumur found that he handled them without
experiencing any shock for some time, until they at last appeared to
become impatient: he then experienced a stunning sensation along the arm,
not easily to be described, but resembling that which is felt when a limb
has been struck with a sudden blow. One of the experiments of this
naturalist proved the extensive power of this faculty. He placed a torpedo
and a duck in a vessel containing sea-water, covered with linen to prevent
the duck from escaping, without impeding the bird's respiration. At the
expiration of a few minutes the animal was found dead, having been killed
by the electric shocks of its enemy.

Redi was the first who demonstrated this faculty. Having laid hold of a
torpedo recently caught, he had scarcely touched it, when he felt a
creeping sensation shooting up to the shoulder, followed by an unpleasant
tremor, with a lancinating pain in the elbow. These sensations he
experienced as often as he touched the animal; but this faculty gradually
decreased in strength as the animal became exhausted and dying. These
experiments he related in a work entitled "_Esperienze intorno à diverse
cose naturali_." Florence, 1671.

In 1774, Walsh made some very interesting experiments at the Isle of Ré
and La Rochelle, and clearly demonstrated this electric faculty in a paper
_On the electric property of the torpedo_. In one of them he found that
this fish could produce from forty to fifty shocks in the course of ninety
minutes. The electrified individuals were isolated; and at each shock the
animal gave, it appeared to labour under a sense of contraction, when its
eyes sunk deep in their sockets.

The _trichiurus electricus_ of Linnæus, the _rhinobatus electricus_ of
Schneider, and the _gymnonotus electricus_ of _Surinam_, are the species
of this singular fish with which experiments have chiefly been made. The
_gymnonotus_ is a kind of eel, five or six feet in length, and its
electric properties are so powerful that it can throw down men and horses.
This animal is rendered more terrific from the velocity of his powers of
natation, thus being able to discharge its thunder far and near. When
touched with one hand the shock is slight; but when grasped with both, it
is so violent that, according to the accounts of Collins Flag, the
electric fluid can paralyze the arms of the imprudent experimentalist for
several years. This electric action is analogous to that which is obtained
by means of the fulminating plate, which is made of glass with metallic
plates. Twenty-seven persons holding each other by the hands, and forming
a chain, the extremities of which corresponded with the points of the
fish's body, experienced a smart shock. These shocks are produced in quick
succession, but become gradually weaker as the fluid appears to be
exhausted. Humboldt informs us, that, to catch this fish, wild horses are
driven into the water, and after having expended the fury and the vigour
of the gymnonotus, fishermen step in and catch them either with nets or
harpoons. Here we find that the irritable or sensorial power is exhausted
through the medium of electricity. These phenomena may be attributed to an
electric or Voltaic aura; and the organ of the animal that secretes the
fluid resembles in its wonderful structure the Voltaic apparatus. Both the
gymnote and the torpedo obey the laws of electricity, and their action is
limited to the same conducting and non-conducting mediums. The electric
sparks proceeding from the gymnote have been plainly seen in a dark
chamber by Walsh, Pringle, Williamson, and others. The fish has four
electric organs, two large and two small ones, extending on each side of
the body from the abdomen to the end of the tail. These organs are of
such a size that they constitute one third of the fish's bulk. Each of
them is composed of a series of aponeurotic membranes, longitudinal,
parallel, horizontal, and at about one line's distance from each other.
Hunter counted thirty-four of these fasciculi in one of the largest. Other
membranes or plates traverse these vertically, and nearly at a right
angle; thus forming a plexus or net-work of numerous rhomboidal cells.
Hunter found no less than two hundred and forty of these vertical plates
in the space of eleven inches.

This apparatus, analogous to the Voltaic pile, is brought into action by a
system of nerves rising from the spinal marrow, each vertebra giving out a
branch; other branches, rising from a large nerve, running from the basis
of the cranium to the extremity of the tail. All these ramifications are
spread and developed in the cells of the electric organs, to transmit its
powerful fluid, and strike with stupor or with death every animal that
comes within its reach. Lacépède has justly compared this wonderful
mechanism to a battery formed of a multitude of folio-electric pieces.

The electric organ of the _malapterus electricus_ is of a different
formation. This fish, found in the Nile and in other rivers of Africa, is
called by the Arabs _raash_ or thunder. In this animal the electric fluid
extends all round the body, immediately under the integuments, and
consists of a tissue of cellular fibres so dense, that it might be
compared to a layer of bacon; but, when carefully examined, it consists of
a series of fibres forming a complex net-work. These cells, like those in
the gymnote, are lubricated with a mucous secretion. The nervous system of
this intricate machinery is formed by the two long branches of the
pneumo-gastric nerves, which in fishes usually run under each lateral
line. Here, however, they approach each other on leaving the cranium,
traversing the first vertebra.

Linnæus had classed the torpedo in the genus _ray_, and hence called it
_raia torpedo_. Later naturalists have restored to it its ancient name, as
given by Pliny, and termed it _torpedo_, of which four species are
described: the _T. narke_, or with five spots; the _T. unimaculata_,
marked, as the name indicates, with one spot; the _T. marmorata_, and the
_T. Galvanni_.

The ancients placed much faith in the medicinal properties of these
fishes. Hippocrates recommends its roasted flesh in dropsies that follow
liver affections. Dioscorides prescribed its application in cases of
obstinate headaches and rheumatisms. Galen and other physicians recommend
the application of the living animal; and Scribonius Largus states that
the freedman Anteroes was cured of the gout by this practice. To this day,
in Abyssinia, fever patients are tied down on a table, and a torpedo is
applied to various parts of the body. This operation, it is affirmed,
causes great pain, but is an infallible remedy.


This noble faculty, the proudest attribute of mankind, justly called the
mother of the Muses, is subject to be impaired by various physical and
moral causes, while a similar agency can sometimes restore it to its
pristine energy, or develope its powers when sluggish and defective.
Memory may be considered as the history of the past chronicled in our
minds, to be consulted and called upon whenever circumstances stances or
the strange complication of human interests demand its powerful aid. Its
powers and nature widely differ, and these varieties depend upon
education, natural capacities, mode of living, and pursuits. Thus memory
has been divided into that faculty that applies to facts, and to that more
superficial quality that embraces a recollection of things, to which must
be added the memory of localities and words: "Lucullus habuit divinam
quamdam memoriam rerum, verborum majorem Hortensius," said Cicero.

It is on this division that Aristotle founded his belief that the brute
creation had not the faculty of reminiscence, although he allowed them to
possess memory. According to his doctrine, reminiscence is the power of
recollecting an object by means of a syllogistic chain of thought; an
intellectual link with which animals do not seem to be gifted. Their
memory appears solely to consist of the impressions received by the return
of circumstances of a similar kind. Thus, a horse that has started on a
certain part of a road will be apt to evince the same apprehension when
passing the same spot. This is an instinctive fear, but not the result of
calculation or the combination of former ideas. Reminiscence is the
revival of memory by reflection; in short, the recovery or recollection of
lost impressions.

The recollection of things or facts can alone bring forth a sound
judgment. It implies a regular co-ordination of ideas, a catenation of
reflections, in which circumstances are linked with each other. The chain
broken, no conclusion can be drawn. Newton was wont to lose the thread of
an important conversation when his mind was in search of an idea. This is
the reason why the society of the learned is seldom entertaining to the
generality of men. They are considered absent, while their brain is busily
employed in pursuits perhaps of great importance; they must therefore be
anything but agreeable to those who generally think through the medium of
other persons' brains.

The brain is considered to be the seat of memory. When it is injured,
remembrance is impaired; and, on the other hand, an accident has been
known to improve the recollective faculties. A man remarkable for his bad
memory fell from a considerable height upon his head; ever after he could
recollect the most trifling circumstance. The effects of different
maladies will also produce various results on this faculty. In some
instances names of persons and things are completely forgotten or
misapplied; at other times, words beginning with a vowel cannot be found.
Sudden fright and cold have produced the same effects. An elderly man fell
off his horse in crossing a ford in a winter's night; ever afterward he
could not bring to his recollection the names of his wife and children,
although he did not cease to recognise and love them as fondly as before
the accident. Cold has been at all times considered injurious to memory;
hence Paulus Æginus called Oblivion the child of Cold.

In fevers, and a state of great debility, in a disordered condition of the
digestive functions, and various affections of the head, we generally find
that the attention cannot long be applied to any one subject or a
continued train of thoughts; all past circumstances are readily forgotten,
while passing occurrences are most acutely observed and felt, excepting in
cases of delirium, when we have the perception of surrounding objects or
receive an erroneous impression of their nature and agency. In many cases
of this nature, we find that conversation produces great excitement and
increases the evil, for the subject of such intercourse is generally
misconceived and distorted through the medium of a morbid conception,
while the past, the present, and the future are grouped in a confused and
most heterogeneous and incoherent jumble.

Philosophers have endeavoured to fix the seat of memory in various
portions of the brain. The ancients fancied that it was lodged in the
posterior part of the cranium; having observed that when persons
endeavoured to recollect any thing, they usually scratched the back part
of the head. The Arabian physicians entertained a similar belief.
Gratarola maintained that a great protuberance of the occiput indicated a
good memory. Gall places it above the orbitary cavity of the eye, and even
behind it. It has long been thought that persons with protuberant eyes had
quick recollections. The physical condition of the brain has also been
considered as materially affecting memory. What physiologists have called
a moist brain was looked upon as unfavourable to its development; and it
was therefore owing to the soft and pulpy condition of the cerebral organs
in young children that the difficulty of impressing anything upon their
minds arose; the same stupidity being observed in cases where water was
supposed to be lodged in the brain. While this humid state was considered
as injurious to memory, dryness of the organ was also esteemed an obstacle
of a similar nature; and in old age it is by this state of siccity that
failure in memory was attempted to be explained. This failure of memory as
age advances may, however, be explained in a much more rational manner.
Old people will bear in lively recollection the events that attended their
childhood, their youth, and manhood; it is only recent occurrences that
shed a transient impression on their minds. The cause of this may be
considered to arise from the extreme _impressionability_ that prevails in
early life, when every organ is prompt in responding to each call upon its
powers; when the charms of novelty tinge with a brighter, yet a more
lasting lustre, all our pleasurable sensations; when grief had not yet
wrung the young heart till its fibres became callous to future pangs, when
perfidy and ingratitude have shown us that all is vanity, and calm
philosophy has tutored our passions in the school of Adversity. Reason now
sits upon the judgment-seat, and all that we then can wonder at that is,
at any time we could have wondered at any thing. Why, then, are we to seek
for a material theory of the mind, when our daily experience shows us that
it is under the influence of so many moral agents?

We have, moreover, convincing proof that the brain may be materially
affected, without any deterioration of the mental faculties. Dr. Ferriar
mentions a man in whom the whole of the right hemisphere, that is, one
half of the brain, was found destroyed, but who retained all his faculties
till the very moment of his death. Diemerbrook states another case where
half a pound of matter was found in the substance of the brain. O'Hallaran
relates the history of a man who had suffered such an injury of the head,
that a large portion of his brain was removed on the right side; and
extensive suppuration having taken place, an immense quantity of pus,
mixed with large masses of the substance of the brain, was discharged at
each dressing, through the opening. This went on for seventeen days, and
it appears that nearly one half of the brain was thrown out, mixed with
the matter, yet the man retained all his intellectual faculties to the
very last moment of his dissolution, and through the whole course of the
disease, his mind maintained uniform tranquillity. I attended a soldier at
Braburne Lees, who had received a wound in the head during ball practice.
The ball remained in the brain, and during three weeks large masses of
brainular substance were brought away with pus. To the last day of his
life he would relate, with every circumstantial particular, the neglect of
the comrade by whom he had been wounded, and who fired while he was
running to the target to mark the shots. It is somewhat singular, but
suppuration of the brain is more offensive than the foulest ulcer, and it
is with great difficulty that the pestilential effluvia can be tolerated.
These cases plainly show that cerebral diseases have but little influence
on the manifestations of the mind.

Amongst the many curious doctrines that have been started, to account for
the operations of memory, some philosophers have compared it to the art of
engraving; pretending that on those subjects where it requires much time
and trouble to work an impression it was more durable, while it was only
traced in a superficial manner on those brains that were ever ready and
soft to receive this plastic influence. These several faculties they
therefore compared to bronze or marble, to butter and to wax. Descartes,
following up the phantasy, compared recollection to etching, and said that
the animal spirits, being passed over the lines previously traced, brought
them more powerfully to the mind; thus comparing the brain to the
varnished copper-plate over which the engraver passes his mordants.
Malebranche endeavoured to establish another doctrine, and compared our
cerebral organ to an instrument formed of a series of fibres, so arranged,
that when any recent emotion agitated one of these chords the others would
immediately be thrown into vibration, renewing a past chain of ideas. As
these chords became less flexible in old age, of course these vibrations
were more difficult to obtain. Recollection was also considered an
attribute of each molecule of the brain; and Bonnet endeavoured to count
how many hundred ideas each molecule was capable of holding during a long

The controversies of learned psychologists on the relation of memory and
judgment, indeed on the analogies that exist between our several mental
faculties, have been as various as they are likely to prove interminable.
Without offending these illustrious controversionalists, we may endeavour
to enumerate these faculties, which, despite the ingenuity of theorists,
appear in a practical point of view to exercise a wonderful influence upon
each other. The first may be considered the faculty of _perception_,
assisted by that of _attention_, to which we are indebted for our _ideas_.
These are preserved and called into action from the rich stores of the
mind by _memory_, justly called by Cicero the guardian of the other
faculties. _Imagination_ is the faculty of the mind that represents the
images of remembered objects as if they were actually present.
_Abstraction_ forms general deductions from the foregoing faculties; while
_judgment_ compares and examines the analogies and relations of the ideas
of sense and of abstract notions. Finally, _reason_ draws inferences from
the comparisons of judgment.

It is from the combination and the workings of these wonderful powers that
_appetency_, _desires_, _aversions_, and _volition_ arise. _Appetency_
occasions _desires_, and these, when disappointed or satiated, inevitably
usher in aversions and antipathies; although, as we shall see in another
article, our antipathies are frequently instinctive, and not arising from
any combination of the faculties I have enumerated.

Dr. Gall has considered these mental faculties as fundamental; and in this
view he was certainly correct, since they may be considered the source
whence all other distinct capacities are probably formed by particular
habits of study and the nature of our pursuits, independently of those
specific capacities which appear to be innate, and, according to the
system of the phrenologists, organic. Every man possesses these
fundamental faculties in a greater or less degree, according to the
obtuseness or the energies of his mind; but it is absurd to conceive that
specific capacities can be brought into action without the agency of those
which are fundamental. Let us take the instinct to destroy life, the
sentiment of property, metaphysical sagacity, or poetic talent,--in short,
any one of Gall's various faculties; can we for one instant conceive that
they are not under the influence of _perception_, _memory_, _imagination_,
and _abstraction_, although they may not be properly ruled by _judgment_
and by _reason_? Instincts are equally under a similar influence, and are,
according to circumstances, regulated by judgment in the various modes of
life of animals. Phrenologists deny that instinct is a general faculty,
and assert that it is an inherent disposition to activity possessed by
every faculty, and that there are as many instincts as fundamental
faculties. This is a postulation by no means clear. Instinct is an
inherent disposition possessed by every animal, but not by every faculty.
It is a disposition dependent upon the combination of all the mental
faculties, according to the degree in which the animal may possess them:
the reminiscences of animals prove it. We have instanced the horse, who
endowed with the memory of locality, starts when passing by the same spot
where he had started before. But here the memory of facts, _memoria
realis_, and probably of words, _memoria verbalis_, are superadded to the
_memoria localis_. The horse recollects the tree, the carrion, the object
that startled him, whatever it might have been; but to this reminiscence
are associated the chiding, the punishment he received from his rider. If
this horse had possessed the faculties of _abstraction_, _judgment_, and
_reason_, he would not have started, to avoid a reiteration of punishment;
but he started under the impression of _perception_, _attention_, and
_memory_. Wherever there does not exist a combination of the faculties,
the intellectual ones may be considered imperfect. We certainly may have a
greater perception and memory of one subject than of others. Thus, a man
with a musical organisation will recollect any tune he may have heard,
though it may not have attracted the _attention_ of one who "hath no music
in his soul." We daily perceive different talents in children educated
together. This is, no doubt, a strong corroboration of the doctrine of
organic dispositions, which in reality no philosophic observer can deny;
but to assert that these several dispositions are not regulated by what
have been called the fundamental faculties, is, I apprehend, a position
that cannot well be maintained; and we may be warranted in the conclusion
that a particular faculty may be the result of the combined action of
several faculties, if not of all; for, whether a man be a poet or a
painter, a miser or a spendthrift, an affectionate father or an assassin,
every one of the mental faculties that I have enumerated will to a
certain extent be brought into action, however morbid that action may be.

All these disquisitions, however attractive they may be, when decked out
with the fascination of the fancy, are the mere wanderings of metaphysical
speculation, that never can be proved or refuted until we attain a
knowledge of the nature and quality of the perceptions which material
objects produce in the mind through the medium of the external senses. But
while some of these speculations are idle and harmless, others may be
fraught with danger, and occasion much misery to society. Let us for one
moment conceive the possibility of our resolves and actions being dictated
by a supposed phrenological knowledge,--a knowledge earnestly recommended
to statesmen, and indeed to mankind in general;--what would be the result?
A diplomatic bungler would be sent on an embassy, because a minister, or a
sovereign, with a phrenological map before him, may fancy that he displays
the faculty of circumspection, or the sense of things; and a chancellor of
the exchequer be found in some needy adventurer who possessed the organ of
relation of numbers!

I do not at all presume to invalidate the statements of Dr. Gall. The
profession is highly indebted to him for his accurate description of the
brain; and physiology must ever consider him as one of the brightest
ornaments of science: but I do maintain, that to recommend his conclusions
as a guide to society would be the most rash of visionary speculations;
and, to my personal knowledge, no man was ever more mistaken in his
estimate of the persons whom he met in society than the learned doctor
himself. Of this I had frequent opportunities of convincing myself, when I
met him in Paris in the circle of a Russian family which he daily visited.
If I could admit, with a late ingenious writer, "that phrenology teaches
the true nature of man, and that its importance in medicine, education,
jurisprudence, and everything relating to society and conduct must be at
once apparent," I should certainly agree with him in recommending its
study to parents, judges, and juries; but for the present, I am inclined
to believe that, although it may prove a most interesting and valuable
pursuit to the physiologist, it is by no means calculated to be the _vade
mecum_ of any liberal man.

The memory of various persons is amazing, and has been remarked in ancient
times with much surprise. Cyrus knew the name of every soldier in his
army. Mithridates, who had troops of twenty-two nations serving under his
banners, became a proficient in the language of each country. Cyneas,
sent on a mission to Rome by Pyrrhus, made himself acquainted in two days
with the names of all the senators and the principal citizens. Appius
Claudius and the Emperor Hadrian, according to Seneca, could recite two
thousand words in the order they had heard them, and afterwards repeat
them from the end to the beginning. Portius Latro could deliver all the
speeches he had hastily written without any study.

Esdras is stated by historians to have restored the sacred Hebrew volumes
by memory when they had been destroyed by the Chaldeans; and, according to
Eusebius, it is to his sole recollection that we are indebted for that
part of Holy Writ. St. Anthony, the Egyptian hermit, although he could not
read, knew the whole Scripture by heart: and St. Jerome mentions one
Neopolien, an illiterate soldier, who, anxious to enter into monastic
orders, learned to recite the works of all the fathers, and obtained the
name of the Living Dictionary of Christianity; while St. Antonius, the
Florentine, at the age of sixteen, could repeat all the Papal Bulls, the
Decrees of Councils, and the Canons of the Church, without missing a word.
Pope Clement V. owed his prodigious memory to a fall on his head. This
accident at first had impaired this faculty; but by dint of application he
endeavoured to recover its powers, and he succeeded so completely, that
Petrarch informs us he never forgot anything that he had read. John Pico
de la Mirandola, justly considered a prodigy, could maintain a thesis on
any subject,--_de omni re scibili_,--when a mere child; and when verses
were read to him, he could repeat them backward. Joseph Scaliger learned
his Homer in twenty-one days, and all the Latin poets in four months.
Haller mentions a German scholar, of the name of Muller, who could speak
twenty languages correctly. Our own literary annals record many instances
of this wonderful faculty.

To fortify this function when naturally weak, or to restore it to its
pristine energy when enfeebled by any peculiar circumstances, has been
long considered an essential study both by the philosopher and the
physician. Reduced to an art, this pursuit has received the name of
_Mnemonia_; and at various periods professors of it, more or less
distinguished by their success, have appeared in the several capitals of

It has been justly observed, that remembrance is to the past what our
sensations are to the present, and our busy conjectures to futurity.
Memory gives a lesson to mankind, by stripping past events of their
_prestige_; thus enabling us to view what passes around us with a more
calm and philosophic resignation, while at the same time it tends to
protect us, in the career lying before us, against the many contingencies
that are likely to impede our path. Although it might appear desirable
that we could obliterate from the mind the painful scenes of our past
life, yet the wisdom of the Creator has deemed this faculty as necessary
to our happiness as our utter ignorance of our future destiny. For let us
mistake not by a hasty glance on this most important subject; the
remembrance of past sufferings is not always painful. On the contrary,
there is that which is holy in our past sorrows, that tends to produce a
calm, nay a pleasurable sensation of gratitude. St. Theresa beautifully
expressed this hallowed feeling when she exclaimed, "Where are those
blissful days when I felt so unhappy!" _Et olim meminisse juvabit._

Memory depends in a great measure on the vivacity with which these past
scenes are retraced--I may say re-transmitted to the mind, in ideal forms
"as palpable" as those that may be present. Therefore reminiscence may be
said to result from a connexion between ideas and images recalled into
being by a regular succession of expressive signs that the brute creation
do not possess. Those characteristic signs and images that are generally
circumstantial are co-ordained and classified in the mind, and tend
materially in weak memories to produce an artificial mode of recollecting
the past. This faculty is therefore matured by habit. A literary man,
whose library is properly classed, will find the book he wants in the
dark. The classification of his books is ever present to his mind. These
circumstantial signs are always remembered by a sort of association in our
ideas. Thus Descartes, who fondly loved a girl who squinted, was always
affected with strabismus when speaking of her. When we first see a person
in any particular costume, the individual is clad in the same apparel
whenever brought to our minds, even after a lapse of many years, when
fashion has banished even from general recollection the costume that
memory thus retraces individually. From these observations it has been
concluded that the most probable method of improving memory would be to
regulate these associations by a proper classification. One link of this
ideal chain will naturally lead to another. Many military men, to
recollect any number, will associate it with that of a regiment, so far at
least as the number of regiments extend; and the recollection of this
particular regiment will not only bring to his mind the number of the
house he seeks, but various other circumstances connected both with the
regiment and the number. For instance, I wish to recollect No. 87 in a
certain street. I had, when the number was mentioned to me, attached it to
the 87th regiment; and instantly I not only recollect that the 87th
regiment are the Irish Fusiliers, but that they took an eagle at Barossa,
where they distinguished themselves, and that the figure of that eagle is
borne upon all the appointments of the corps. At the same moment, with the
rapidity of lightning I recollect all the circumstances of the battle of
Barossa; the different conversations I may have had at various times with
the officers of the 87th; the town, the camp, the bivouac where I last had
met them. Thus are innumerable circumstances instantaneously converging in
a mental focus while simply seeking for the lodgings of an individual.
This may be called the memory of locality, since it is locality that
revives the recollection of it.

This train of thought has also been called the memory of association, and
associations have been referred to three classes:--

I. Natural or philosophical associations.

II. Local or incidental associations.

III. Arbitrary or fictitious associations.

Dr. Abercrombie has admirably treated this subject, and I refer the reader
to his interesting work.[44] The poet Simonides is said to have been the
founder of the mnemonic art. Cicero informs us, that, supping one night
with a noble Thessalian, he was called out by two of his acquaintance, and
while in conversation with them the roof of the house fell in, and crushed
to death all the guests he had left at table. When the bodies were sought
for, they were so disfigured by the accident that they could not be
recognised even by their nearest friends; but Simonides identified them
all, by merely recollecting the seats they had held at the banquet.

Cicero and Quintilian adopted his system, connecting the ideas of a
discourse with certain figures. The different parts of the hilt of a
sword, for instance, might regulate the details of a battle; the different
parts of a tree associate the relations of a journey. Other mnemonic
teachers recommended the division of ideas to correspond with the
distribution of a house; while some of them refreshed the memory by
associations connected with the fingers and other parts of the hand.
Cicero expresses himself plainly on this subject: "Qui multa voluerit
meminisse, multa sibi loca comparet: oportet multos comparare locos, ut in
multis locis multas imagines collocemus."

The celebrated Feinagle who delivered lectures on memory had adopted the
system of aiding the memory by dates, changing the figures in the dates
into the letters of the alphabet corresponding to them in number. These
letters were th