Imágenes de páginas

gans of the body, may induce the true hectic state.* On either notion, however, the cause of hectic fever must be regarded as an agent very materially modifying the quality of the sanguineous fluid; hence the small, quick, and sharp pulse, the pyrectic indications of cold and hot fits, with sweatings and other symptoms. Along with this influence exercised on the circulation, the mental feelings are highly vivified, while the quality of them is of such an exhilarating character, as to cherish, amidst the most alarming indications, the fallacious prospect of returning health. Whilst corporeal exhaustion gives token that the hectic victim is fast sinking to a premature grave, the imagination, as if in cruel irony, is proportionally rendered more and more lively. The wan and emaciated student is buoyed up with blissful visions of future scientific acquirements never to be realized:

-"Fancy dreams

Of sacred fountains, of o'ershadowing groves,
Whose walks with god-like harmony resound:
Fountains which Homer visits; happy groves
Where Milton dwells. The intellectual power,
On the mind's throne, suspends his graver cares
And smiles."

In the still more advanced, yet moribund symptoms of hectic fever, the vividness which ideas acquire, becomes, in the highest degree, intense. Patients are often deluded with the blissful visions which our great

* I much doubt the correctness of this latter view; it is advocated in Good's Study of Medicine, vol. ii. p. 165.

bard, with such exquisite feeling and taste, has dramatized in his pathetic representation of the dying moments of Catherine of Arragon :


Saw you not, even now, a blessed troop
Invite me to a banquet; whose bright faces
Cast thousand beams upon me, like the sun?

They promised me eternal happiness;
And brought me garlands, Griffith, which I feel
I am not worthy yet to wear: I shall



Do you note

How much her grace is alter'd on the sudden?

How long her face is drawn? How pale she looks,

And of an earthy cold? Mark her eyes.


She is going, wench; pray, pray.


Heaven comfort her!




"External forms, forbidden, mount the winds,
Retire to Chaos, or with night commix ;-
Irregular and new; as pain or ease
The spirits teach to flow, and in the brain
Direction diverse hold."

THOMPSON'S Progress of Sickness.

IT has been sufficiently shewn, in treating of the general pathology of mental illusions, that the febrile miasma possesses a great power, through the medium of the circulation, of inducing an extreme vividness of ideas. This cause, variously operating under the modified forms which it acquires from different climates and soils, has frequently given rise to spectral impressions. Incidents of this kind, which more particularly occur during the delirium attending the typhoid state of fever, are indeed so common, that it is needless to dwell any longer upon this part of our inquiry.

Also in certain inflammatory states of the system, frequently, however, attended with an irritable state of the nerves, nothing is more common than for patients to see phantasms, or to hear imaginary sounds, while the dispelling of these illusions generally succeeds to a copious detraction of blood. A very curious

case of this kind is given in the 15th volume of Nicholson's Philosophical Journal, which shews every internal evidence of authenticity, although the narrator has not, like Nicolai, had the courage to affix to it his signature. "About twelve years ago, I had an attack of fever, arising from some deep-seated inflammation, which caused acute pain in the left side. It was occasioned by a cold caught at the breaking-up of the hard frost in the spring of 1795. The pulse was generally about 110 in the minute, and the illness, which lasted some weeks, was accompanied with disordered perception, through almost its whole duration. At the commencement of the fever, a slight defect of memory was perceived in forming the phrases for dictating a letter; but this did not last, and I found no difficulty afterwards in performing arithmetical and other processes by memory to as great an extent as my usual habits could have gone. The first night was attended with great anxiety, and the fatiguing and perpetual recurrence of the same dream. I supposed myself to be in the midst of an immense system of mechanical combination, all the parts of which were revolving with extreme rapidity and noise, and at the same time I was impressed with a conviction that the aim or purpose of this distracting operation was to cure my disorder. When the agitation was carried to a certain height, I suddenly awoke, and soon afterwards fell again into a doze, with repetition of the same dream. After many such repetitions it occurred to me, that if I could destroy the impression or conviction, there might be a probability that the delirious dream would change its form; and

as the most likely method, I thought, that by connecting some simple visible object in my mind, with the notion of cure, that object might be made to occupy the situation of the rapidly moving objects in the dream. The consequence, in some measure, answered my expectation; for upon the next access, the recollection of the figure of a bottle, to which I had previously directed my mind, presented itself, the rotation ceased, and my subsequent dreams, though disturbed, were more various and less irritating.

"The medical treatment consisted in an external application of leeches to the side, venesection, and a saline mixture, which was taken internally.

"A second night was passed with much agitation in repeated dozing, with dreams, in which, except with regard to the strangeness and inconsistency of the objects that offered themselves, it was difficult to distinguish the time of sleep from that of wakefulness. None of that anxiety of mind remained which had added to the sufferings of the preceding night. When morning came, the state of the sensations had either undergone a change, or it was more easy, as Hartley remarks, for the real impressions of surrounding objects, to predominate over the phantasms of disease. Being perfectly awake, in full possession of memory, reason, and calmness, conversing with those around me, and seeing, without difficulty or impediment, every surrounding object, I was entertained and delighted with a succession of faces, over which I had no control, either as to their appearance, continuance, or removal.

"They appeared directly before me, one at a time, very suddenly, yet not so much so, but that a second

« AnteriorContinuar »