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time, or rather before, losing our vital sensation, which requires thé assistance of the tenderest organs. We are taught also by experience, that all those who ever passed through the first stage of death, and were again brought to life, unanimously asserted that they felt nothing of dying, but sunk at once into a state of insensibility. Let us not be led into a mistake by the convulsive throbs, the rattling in the throat, and the apparent pangs of death, which are exhibited by many persons when in a dying state. These symptoms are painful only to the spectators, and not to the dying, who are not sensible of them. The case here is the same as if one, from the dreadful contortions of a person in an epileptic fit, should form a conclusion respecting his internal feelings: from what affects us so much, he suffers nothing. Let one always consider life, as it really is, a mean state, which is not an object itself, but a medium for obtaining an object, as the multifarious imperfections of it sufficiently prove; as a period of trial and preparation, a fragment of existence, through which we are to be fitted for, and transmitted to, other periods. Can the idea, then, of really making this transition-of ascending to another from this mean state, this doubtful problematical existence, which never affords complete satisfaction, ever excite terror? With courage and confidence we may therefore resign ourselves to the will of that Supreme Being, who, without our consent, placed us upon this sublunary theatre, and give up to his management the future direction of our fate. Remembrance of the past, of that circle of friends who were nearest, and always will be dearest to our hearts, and who, as it were, now smile to us with a friendly look of invitation from that distant country beyond the grave, will also tend very much to allay the fear of death.
An idea has been fondly cherished, even by many who cannot be included amongst the weak-minded and credulous portion of mankind, that previously to the separation of the soul from the body, the former is, as it were, lighted up and endowed with some fresh powers, which are indicated by some act or expression on the part of the dying patient. Sir Walter Scott alludes to this popular impression, when he represents the mad maiden in The Lady of the Lake, after she had received her death wound, being restored to the full possession of her faculties. The opinion itself seems to have been introduced by the Jews into Europe, and there can be no doubt that they themselves received it from the Egyptians, amongst whom, to the present day, the custom remains of preserving the words and recommendations of a dying man as sacred expressions communicated under the influence of divine inspiration. Mr. Madden seems inclined to ridicule this common notion, and tells us, that the only ground on which the opinion can be justified, is the fact, that a patient in the last stage of exhaustion will have his head supplied with a different species of blood from that which circulates in his system in the natural state, and that by this change a degree of excitement is produced, which may be sufficient fully
to explain the excitement usually manifested on these affecting occasions. The blood which, at the critical period alluded to, passes into the brain, is not the true nourishing blood, because it comes from the lungs, which are now unable to do their duty; the fluid, instead of presenting that bold red colour which characterises the blood flowing in the arteries, becomes dark, and when sent up into the vessels of the head, produces something like the exhilirating effects of opium. The patient no longer thinks of his sufferings ; his long-forgotten scenes of pleasure rise up before his memory, and he seems as if suddenly inspired with fresh strength both in body and mind. The history of the last moments of Mr. Salt, our agent in Egypt, whose scientific researches in that country have so considerably enriched natural science, exhibited in a striking manner the phenomena dependant on this irregularity in the circulation. For a few days before his death his mind was wonderfully restored to all its ancient elasticity, as was proved by the facility with which he discoursed in various languages, long supposed by himself, when in health, to have been utterly forgotten. Amongst the varieties of the effects which the influence of the cause just described produces, is the extreme solicitude which it infuses into the dying man respecting some particular object of his early or recent affections. Thus Rousseau, in his last moments, was carried to the window that looked into his garden, to take a last view of the beautiful objects of the vegetable kingdom to which he had paid so much attention. Haller expired after feeling his own pulse, saying to his physician, “ The artery ceases to beat.”
The improvidence of literary men forms the subject of a brief chapter in this volume. It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader, that for a long course of centuries, poverty and poetry have formed a harmonious union, which proved too incapable of interruption. How many of the immortal men whose statues we have fixed up in niches, and whose portraits are enshrined in museums and cabinets, composed their undying lays shivering in the frosty temperature of a garret! Burton, the author of the wellknown work on Melancholy, in his own quaint way observes, that when Jupiter's daughters were all married to the gods, the poor muses alone were left without husbands, because, no doubt, they had no fortunes to recommend them: poor Helicon was forthwith abandoned by all her former lovers; and Calliope would no doubt have been a wife, if she only had the luck to be blessed with plenty of money. Burton goes on to say, that our students at the university saw very acutely how the matter was, and instead of taking to poetry, they addicted themselves to what was much more lucrative, believing it to be an axiom of the most convincing kind, that he who can tell his money hath arithmetic enough; that he is a true geometrician who can take the dimensions of a good fortune for himself; that a perfect astrologer is to be found in that man who can calculate the rise and fall of those whose movements in the world he can turn to his own advantage ; and, finally, that no objection can be urged against such an optician as he who is able to reflect the rays of a great man's favour, and cause them to shine upon himself.
The next subject selected by Mr. Madden for illustration is the influence which bodily disease exercises on the feelings, temper, or sensibility of studious men: it impresses, he tells us, the character with a peculiar aspect, which can only be truly distinguished by one intimately acquainted with medical philosophy. The most frequent diseases which attack men of studious habits are indigestion and hypochondria. These disorders are often succeeded by some affection of the brain, which manifests itself either as mad ness, epilepsy, or paralysis. As an example of the influence which indigestion has over the temper, the celebrated Pope becomes the subject of a long chapter by Mr. Madden, who, after considering the various accounts which have been handed down to us of that poet, concludes, that his appetite was depraved by indigestion, and this disorder was brought on by an early disease of his spine.
The next example mentioned by Mr. Madden is that of Dr. Johnson, whose character was distinguished by three peculiarities, irascibility, superstition, and fear of death. These, which are regarded by the author as so many disorders, are considered by him as having been produced altogether by hypochondria. The result in Johnson was very remarkable, as it made up the misery of his life, by filling his imagination with the constant apprehension of insanity. His fear of death was also a singular hallucination of Johnson's; and the influence which it exercised upon him, particularly during his last moments, as described by Arthur Murphy, forms one of the most terrible pictures of human agitation that is to be found in any record. But the most unaccountable of all the eccentricities of Johnson was his superstition, the proofs of which are unfortunately too numerous. Melancthon, the German Father, describes, amongst other evil consequences of melancholy, a series of accidents which he strongly advises all persons affected by the disorder, carefully to study. One of the accidents which especially demands attention is to confound the ideas of possible occurrences with those of probable events—a disposition to enbody the phantoms of imagination, to clothe visions of enthusiasm in forms which are cognizable to the senses, and familiar to the sight:
This disposition (observes Mr. Madden) was the secret of Rousseau's phantom that scarcely ever quitted him for a day; of Luther's demons, with whom he communed in the solitude of his study; of Cowper's messengers, bearing the sentence of eternal reprobation; of Tasso's spirits gliding on a sunbeam ; of Mozart's “ man in black,” the harbinger of death, who visited his dwelling a few days before his decease; and of Johnson's belief in the existence of ghosts, and the ministering agency of departed spirits. His sentiments on these subjects, though expressed in a
work of fiction, are well known to have been his deliberate opinions. “That the dead are seen no more I will not undertake to maintain against the concurrent and unvaried testimony of all ages and of all nations. There are no people, rude or learned, among whom apparitions of the dead are not related or believed. This opinion, which perhaps prevails as far as human nature is diffused, could become universal only by its truth.”
This is the language of the hypochondriac, not of the moralist, who in the exercise of a sober judgment must have known that the concurrent testimony of all experience and philosophy was opposed to the opinion that those who are once buried are seen again in this world.
There are many of what are called the peculiarities of Johnson's superstition, which excite surprise, but are not generally known to be the characteristic symptoms of hypochondria. “ He had one peculiarity,” says Boswell, “of which none of his friends ever ventured to ask an explanation. This was an anxious care to go out or in at a door, or passage, by a certain number of steps from a certain point, so as that either his right or left foot, I forget which, should constantly make the first actual movement. Thus, upon innumerable occasions I have seen him suddenly stop, and then seem to count his steps with deep earnestness, and when he had neglected, or gone wrong, in this sort of magical movement, I have seen him go back again, put himself in proper posture to begin the ceremony, and having gone through it, break from his abstraction, walk briskly on, and join his companion.”— " Sir Joshua Reynolds has ob. served him go a long way about rather than cross a particular alley." His piety, we are told by Murphy, in some instances, bordered on superstition, that he thought it not more strange that there should be evil spirits than evil men; and even that the question of second sight held him in suspense. He was likewise in the habit of imposing on himself voluntary penance for every little defect, going through the day with only one cup of tea without milk, and at other times abstaining from animal food. He appears to have had a superstitious notion of the efficacy of repeating a detached sentence of a prayer over and over, somewhat in the manner of a Turkish devotee, who limits himself daily to the repetition of a particular verse of the Koran. " His friend, Mr. Davies,” says Boswell, “ of whom Churchill says, that Davies hath a very pretty wife,' when Johnson began his repetition of · lead us not into temptation,' used to whisper Mrs. Davies, ' you, my dear, are the cause of this.'”
The observations of Mr. Madden on the life of Burns are very interesting; but the views which he takes of it, as a medical philosopher, are chiefly adopted from Dr. Currie, whose life of Burns seems to us to be a model of just and useful biography.
To the life of Cowper Mr. Madden devotes a very considerable space, called for, he seems to think, by the utter ignorance even still prevailing respecting the specific malady which overwhelmed the reason of that poet. The disease of Cowper, it is well known,
as connected with certain religious delusions, the nature of which rendered his biography a subject of the deepest interest to all serious people ; and hence it is we find that the chief contributors to the details of his life consist of clergymen, in whose hands the original assumed a shape and form which certainly his intimate VOL. II. (1833) no. 111.
was corede his bioena hence it is of clerghich certainly
friends could not easily recognise. The truth is, that they tried his character by every test that morality could apply : but the cause of his despondency was wholly left in the dark. Most of these biographers seem to regard the melancholy of Cowper as a supernatural visitation, which could not be made the object of medical treatment, without implying an intention to interfere with the obvious designs of the Divinity: the deficiency which is thus pointed out, Mr. Madden undertakes to supply.
He commences by quoting a variety of learned authorities, for the purpose of carefully and accurately defining the phenomena of mania. After presenting to us the views on lunacy which have been recorded within the last century, Mr. Madden concludes that Cowper's particular infirmity is very plainly comprehended in the definitions of the disease left us by Locke and Mead. The former considers insanity to be a preternatural fervour of the imagination, not altogether destructive of the reasoning powers, but producing wrongly combined ideas, and making right deductions from wrong data. Such are the phenomena of insanity which are distinguished from those of idiotcy, the effects of the latter being an incapability, on the part of the patient, to discriminate, compare, or abstract, general ideas. “ Herein," observes Locke,“ lies the difference between idiots and madmen—that madmen put wrong ideas together, and so make wrong propositions ; while idiots make very few or no propositions, and reason scarcely at all.” Dr. Mead considered madness to be a particular malady of the imagination, arising from intense and incessant application of the mind to any one object. Mr. Madden having now laid down the principle on which the examination of Cowper's disease should be conducted, he enters into the history of the life of the poet, and points out the neglect of the very peculiar delicacy of disposition shown by Cowper in his earliest childhood, as one fundamental cause of the malady in question. Being deprived of his mother before he was fit to govern himself, the unfortunate youth was placed under the care of those who were ill-qualified to perform the duties of guardian to one so delicately framed, and the injudicious course which they adopted towards him, is forcibly exemplified in the fact, that at six years of age Cowper was placed at a public school. Cowper, a timid creature, was persecuted by the schoolboys, as was most likely to be the case ; and in some of his published letters, he bitterly renews the remembrance of one boy, in particular, as having been the terror of his existence.
Mr. Madden has no doubt, from what he has been able to collect respecting Cowper's disease, that his constitution was tainted by scrofula. At Wesminster school, whither he was next send, he proved as unfitted as ever for indiscriminate association with boys of his own age. At length he went to reside at the Temple, where the first decided attack of his disease came on. “ The dejection of spirits,” says Cowper, in one of bis letters, “was as such as