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at the little manny i’ the reed cardinal !” O!I was sadly mortified, and hard I struggled to get clear of the incumbrance; but, as I could not do this, I jumped into the burn as we crossed it, out of mere spite. It was many years before I saw this business in a proper light.
Well, I hope you will not deny any of this. If you do, I will send you twenty times more of the same kind. But I cannot send you any records of memory, in which you are concerned, on which I do not look back with pleasure, and with sensations of gratitude as well as of affection. There is a high satisfaction in tracing the impressions of infancy, when the heart was light, the curiosity strong, and the expectations gay and ardent. Time, as it flies, deadens our sensations; his “cold breath” chills our sensibility ; and as we advance in years, we find our happiness to associate more with memory than with hope. There is, besides, a strong attraction in our early recollections from another source. They present to us the images of those whose virtues once so deeply engaged our reverence, whose kindness once so largely contributed to our happiness, and whom the stroke of Fate, that yet impends over us, has already mingled with the dust. But we will drop this subject.
Accept the assurance of my unalterable affection.
To Mrs. R-, G
Liverpool, July 17. 1790. MY DEAR MADAM, I have been a good deal indisposed since I saw you, both with sickness and fatigue; and I have waited for an hour of tranquillity and leisure, to enter calmly on the interesting subject of our last conversation. In expecting this, I have been repeatedly disappointed; and one of the causes of my delay has been, that I have been called to act in more than one instance of that disease, on which it is now my business to present you with some general remarks. I wish it were in my power to give you more satisfactory information on the subject; but, indeed, my knowledge of it is extremely limited; and though I have consulted many writers, in different languages, with the view of increasing it, yet I have learned little that is useful from hooks, and rest my hopes of farther knowledge chiefly on personal experience.
1. I begin with relating the manner in which the disease comes on, where it comes on gradually, as well in the first instance as in every subsequent relapse.
The first symptom observable, is generally a certain quickness of feeling, as to all points that wound pride or excite anger; with a diminution or loss of those softer traits of character, on which pity, affection, and benevolence are founded. With this fierceness is usually united a selfish and solitary turn; the person shuns all objects of cheerfulness, begins to mutter and talk to himself when alone or unobserved, takes up notions of being ill used by some one or other, and indulges sentiments of revenge, grows more and more fierce and intractable, totally loses his sleep, which had long been imperfect and delirious, and becomes insane.
Such is the general progress of this disease, as far as I have been able to trace it, where it comes on gradually. Instances occur where it is the effect of sudden and violent agitations of mind, and of extraordinary reverses of fortune. " In such cases, the temper and disposition are not, I believe, at the bottom so much injured, nor the associations so much distracted.
The last election produced me three cases of this sort, all of them on the winning side; and this recalled an observation of Mead, of a curious kind, " That when the South Sea bubble burst, and many were reduced at once from opulence to extreme poverty, and some few were advanced as suddenly from poverty to great riches, several instances of insanity took place; but almost all of them among those who had been successful.”
It would seem, then, that the vigour of reason gives way sooner under the impulses of extreme joy, than of extreme sorrow; and that Providence, knowing our frames, has acted wisely in making our trials, of the former kind, comparatively so few.
2. What means are we to employ to prevent a relapse, where this disease has once existed; or where, from other causes, danger of its occurrence may be apprehended ?
To answer this fully, a volume would hardly suffice. All violent agitations of passion and fancy are carefully to be avoided; solitude, gloom, and idleness, carefully to be shunned; and the mind called out of itself, as the phrase is, as much as possible, by employments that exercise, while they do not exhaust. This last direction, indeed, includes all the rest. Steady and regular employment keeps down the wildness of fancy and the turbulence of passion, and prevents the incursion of those trains of fancy, which, long indulged, break down the bounds of reason and sense.
Where, however, the mind has been long unpractised in directing itself, it loses that selfbalancing power in which exertion originates, and that hardihood and force by which application becomes easy and advantageous. Here, then, gentle means are to be employed to influence to action; and indulgence is to be given to early weariness and fatigue. Something of childishness has returned, and our maxims must be formed accordingly. By degrees, exertion will become more easy, and the happy influence of habit be restored.
3. What are we to do when we observe any actual symptoms of the approaching disease ?
According to the vigour and fulness of the patient, I sometimes bleed, and sometimes give cooling physic; and, at any rate, I restrict the diet to articles that are mild, if they are not cooling. But the great secret, for so I consider it, is to procure sound sleep. We have long known the influences of sleep on the body; but its salutary effects on the mind have been little understood. Sleep (I speak of perfect sleep) is the season when passion and imagination are