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of the maniac, during the greatest height of a paroxysm, to actual impressions, has been long a subject of remark. "The skin," says one writer, "is sometimes as it were benumbed; the patients feel every thing like cotton; they do not feel punctures, blisters, or setons." About three or four centuries ago, when lunatics were unprotected by charitable asylums, this diminished or almost obliterated consciousness of sensations, was, unfortunately for these hapless beings, too frequently put to the test, and thus became a subject of popular observation and notoriety. The cruel deprivation to which they were liable resulted from the dissolution of the religious houses, which took place at the time of the Reformation. Maniacs, or Abraham-men, as they were then named, had no longer the benefit of those hospitals which, during the papal establishment, were instituted for their relief. Deserted also by their friends, who superstitiously attributed the cause of their disorder to the possession of devils, they were allowed to ramble about the country almost naked, and exposed to every hardship which could result from famine and the inclemencies of the weather. Thus despised and shunned, they were compelled, in order to procure the sustenance necessary to satisfy the cravings of their hunger, to use not only prayers, but force; and this practice at length suggested to idle and dissolute beggars the advantage to be derived from feigning madness, as a cloak for the compulsion which they might find it equally requisite to use in the collection of alms. But, in order to give a proper colouring to such a counterfeit, it was found necessary that the insensibility, to

suffering which these poor Abraham-men evinced, should be also imitated." Thus, in Decker's Bellman of London, we have the following account of one of these dissembling madmen :- "He swears he hath been in bedlam, and will talk frantickly of purpose; you see pins stuck in sundry places of his naked flesh, especially in his arms, which pain he gladly puts himself to (being indeed no torment at all, his skin is either so dead with some foul disease, or so hardened with wea ther) only to make you believe he is out of his wits." The disguise of one of these feigned bedlamites is assumed by Edgar in King Lear, who finds it no less necessary to imitate the maniac's corporeal insensibility:

"The country gives me proof and precedent
Of bedlam-beggars, who, with roaring voices,
Stick in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
And with this horrible object, from low farms,

Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills,
Some time with lunatic bans, some time with prayers,
Inforce their charity."+

From this imitation arises the cant-term to sham Abraham, in use among the sailors.

It is scarcely in connexion with this subject to remark, that the horn which wandering madmen formerly carried about with them has excited much of the attention of antiquaries. Mr Douce, in his Illustrations of Shakspeare, observes, that Edgar, in order to be dressed properly, should, in the words of Randle Holme, "have a long staff and a cow or ox horn by his side, and be madly decked and dressed all over with ribbons, feathers, cuttings of

I shall, lastly, observe, that the symptomatic fever, named hectic, has the power of imparting so grateful an addition of vividness to our pleasurable emotions as to render the mind unaffected by painful emotions. Thus, in Phthisis Pulmonalis, how eloquently, yet faithfully, has a late eminent medical practitioner, Dr Parr, described the unconsciousness of pain, which, in the face of the most imminent and fatal symptoms, enables the patient to soar above despondency. "In the advanced stages," he remarks, "the irritation of the cough is incessant, the heat or perspiration almost constantly distressing, and when these are absent, the life seems exhausted from debility. What, then, affords the cheering ray of expected relief? Such, however, is afforded; for ingenuity invents every fallacious mode of eluding inquiries, and of giving the most favourable view of every symptom. The patient sinks to the grave with the constant assurances of having attained greater strength, and a relief from every dangerous symptom; with eager expectations of another year, when life is limited by another day. Such, we would say, is the kind interposition of Providence, was the same cheerfulness found in every disease, and was not, in many, the gloom as distressing to the patient as the ill-founded expectation of the consumptive victim is to the well-informed anxious friend. This cheerfulness is said to be owing

cloth, and what not." The same excellent antiquary also remarks, "That about the year 1760, a poor idiot, called Cuddie Eddie, habited much in the same manner, and rattling a cow's horn against his teeth, went about the streets of Hawick in Scotland."

to the absence of pain; but pain is not always absent : and the difficulty of breathing, the incessant cough, the burning heats, the deluging perspirations, would appear worse than the most poignant pain. Yet these are disregarded, represented as trifles, lessened in the report to the most inconsiderable inconveniences: it is truly singular.”



It must inevitably follow from the foregoing remarks, that the quality of all spectral illusions, whether distinctly pleasurable,-distinctly painful,-or alternately pleasurable and painful, must depend upon the particular nature and excitability of its morbific For we have seen that in the symptomatic fever, named hectic, a morbific cause vivifies every pleasurable feeling which can possibly connect itself with a favourable prognosis. And if we grant, that this illusive hope of an immediate state of convalescence arises indiscriminately in the breast of the consumptive patient, what reason is there, that an expectation equally extravagant should not extend to a probable state after death: that scenes connected with the prospect of a blessed immortality should not rise before him, with all the vivid colouring that a hectic affection is so capable of imparting to the images of fancy, or that spectral impressions of angel-visits, incidental to a morbidly-excited state of hope, should not alike be cherished by the good man as by the slave of vice? The truth is, that the guardian spirits, who honour the beds of dying patients with a visit, adopt a line of conduct never to be depended upon for consistency.

* Parr's London Medical Dictionary, vol. ii. p. 398.

As harbingers to heaven, they shew the same readiness in offering their services of introduction to sinners as to saints. This fact still continues to meet with confirmation from many modern superstitious narratives, the subjects of which are the visible tokens of salvation, and beatific visions (if they may be so called,) enjoyed by the most dissolute and abandoned of human beings at their hour of death; and it is amusing to observe, how scriptural authority is in mysterious language wrested from its plain and evident meaning, to account for an inconsistency so glaringly opposed to all the conditions on which the joys of heaven are promised; namely, that they should be the reward of virtuous integrity.

These are all the illustrations which I have to offer on the first variety of general mental excitements that I took occasion to explain, where the cause to which the affection may be referable, is found to add to the vividness of pleasurable feelings, but proportionally to diminish that of painful feelings: the general result being, that pleasurable feelings are by this means rendered inordinately intense, while painful feelings become so faint as to cease being the object of mental consciousness.

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