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monomania, or idiocy, have been simply dreaming it, he must be recorded, M. Moreau conceives that placed on the list; but it is surely this fact illustrates his hypothesis, tasking our credulity too far when since it shows that the organic con- we are asked to place Scott and ditions of insanity were in the family, Goethe there, on the strength of two and these organic conditions must momentary illusions. Two men of have been inherited. Let us inquire immense genius, more entirely reinto the family history of Tom Sayers; moved from every suspicion of inwe shall probably meet with an aunt, sanity, could not be named ; they or a sister, or some near relative, who had not even the fanaticism, the ecdied of consumption, or was paralytic; centricity, the irritability, so often and we shall then be able to prove seen in conjunction with intense inthat the noble chest, and the dread- tellectual activity. What, then, are ful “right-handers” of our champion the facts which M. Moreau takes to result from the same organic condi- be evidence in his favour? It is clear tions as those which fill the hospitals that his knowledge of the men is and swell the mortality lists. scant enough ; but he alludes to the
Perhaps our readers imagine that following anecdotes :we are misrepresenting M. Moreau in “Those who have seen Abbotsthis absurd instance. Let us there- ford,” writes Mr Adolphus, “will refore proceed to cite a parallel case. member that there is at the end of Sayers is powerful enough, but his the hall, opposite to the library, an aunt we will suppose to be “weak as arched door-way leading to other a rat.” Hegel likewise was a power- rooms. One night some of the party ful thinker, and not in the least sus- observed that by an arrangement of pected of being mad—but M. Moreau light, easily to be imagined, a luminotes that Hegel's sister was so: “She
nous space was formed upon the liimagined herself to be a parcel which brary door, in which the shadow of they were about to cord and seal up a person standing in the opposite before despatching it by the carrier; archway made a very imposing, apevery stranger made her tremble; pearance, the body of the hall reshe drowned herself.” With such á maining quite dark. Sir Walter had key to interpret phenomena, biogra- some time before told his friends of phical evidence ought not to be scanty. the deception of sight which made Nevertheless, a calm consideration of him for a moment imagine a figure the evidence collected by M. Moreau of Lord Byron standing in the hall." shows that it is extremely scant, the Mr Adolphus alluded to Scott's “Letgreat majority of the cases having no ters on Demonology and Witchcraft," legitimate bearing on the question. in which the following narrative is
His list commences with Socrates, given : Not long after the death a great name certainly, and one of a late illustrious poet, who had which we cannot strike off, if we are filled, while living, a great station to accept the statements of Plato and in the public eye, a literary friend, Xenophon, which exhibit the hallu- to whom the deceased had been cinations of their master. Granting, well known, was engaged during however, that there was in Socrates the darkening twilight of an aua tendency to become so absorbed in tumn evening, in perusing one of ideas as to be totally insensible to the publications which professed to what was passing around-granting detail the habits and opinions of the that his Demon was not a figure of distinguished individual who was speech, but an hallucination-we can- now no more. As the reader had ennot be equally compliant in the case joyed the intimacy of the deceased to of Aristotle, whom M. Moreau claims, a considerable degree, he was deeply on the strength of idle rumours of interested in the publication, which his having committed suicide at contained some particulars relating seventy. If we admit that Brutus to himself and other friends. A visihad the vision of Cæsar before the tor was sitting in the apartment, who fatal battle of Philippi, instead of was also reading. Their sitting-room
* LOCKHART's Life of Scott; edition in one vol.,
opened into an entrance hall, rather apparition of his friend, M. Moreau fantastically fitted up with articles might, with more excuse, have ranked of armour, skins of wild animals, and him among les hallucinés. the like. It was when laying down The illustration drawn from Goethe's his book, and passing into this hall, life is more to the point, if we accept through which the moon was begin- the truth of the narrative, which, ning to shine, that the individual of however, Goethe's biographer is inwhom I speak saw, right before him, disposed to accept. The poet deand in a standing, posture, the exact scribes his taking leave of Frederika : representation of his departed friend, “Those were painful days, of which I whose recollection had been so strong- remember nothing. When I held out ly brought to his imagination. He my hand to her from my horse, the stopped for a single moment, so as to tears were in her eyes, and I felt sad notice the wonderful accuracy with at heart. As I rode along the footwhich fancy had impressed upon the path to Drusenheim a strange phanbodily eye the peculiarities and pos- tasy took hold of me. I saw in my ture of the illustrious poet. Sensible, mind's eye my own figure riding however, of the delusion, he felt no towards me, attired in a dress I had sentiment save that of wonder at the never worn-pike grey, with silver extraordinary accuracy of the re- lace. I shook off this phantasy, but semblance, and stepped onwards to- eight years afterwards I found myself wards the figure, which resolved itself, on the very road going to visit Fredas he approached, into the various erika, and that too in the very dress articles of which it had been composed. I had seen myself in in the phanThese were merely a screen, occupied tasm, although my wearing it was by a greatcoat, shawls, plaids, and quite accidental.” “On this Mr Lewes other such articles as are usually remarks: “The reader will probably found in a country entrance hall.”. be somewhat sceptical respecting the
If this is to be classed among hallu- dress, and will suppose that this procinations, and on the strength of it, phetic detail was transferred to the Scott counted as one having a nervous vision by the imagination of later system in the organic condition which years.
."* In a note Mr Lewes adds, produces insanity, it is clear that we that in Goethe's correspondence with are all mad, since we are all liable to the Frau von Stein, there is a letter similar deceptions in the twilight; written a day or two after the visit, we see a footpad pointing a pistol at describing it, but singularly enough
a our heads--the footpad being the containing no allusion to this surprisstump of an old tree. Nay, to short- ing coincidence. The whole story sighted persons, similar deceptions wears a very incredible aspect; and take place in broad daylight. The considering that Goethe was narratpresent writer is frequently amused ing in his old age an event said to at the distinctness with which he have happened in his boyhood, it is sees dogs wagging their tails, cows easy to conceive some confusion and nibbling the grass, and men or women substitution of details. Unless we approaching him, and as he gets suppose this, we must suppose an nearer to them they gradually resolve actual vision of his future self in themselves into logs of wood, mile- clothes then unwoven and unthought stones, or bushes.
of! This would prove that he was The difference between an optical gifted with prescience; it would not delusion and an hallucination is, prove that he was insane. that the sane mind is able to con- We forgot to add that M. Moreau trol its belief in the existence of has another detail indicating Goethe's the apparent object; the insane organic condition," namely, “Sa mind is servile to the appearance. mère est morte d'une attaque d'apoScott expressly says that he knew plexie." Whatever she died of, she Lord Byron was not before him; lived a perfectly sane and healthy had he declared that his vision was life during seventy-eight years ; so real, produced objectively by the that the organic condition” trans
* Lewes's Life and Works of Goethe, vol. i. p. 138.
mitted to her son was not of a very bed, and lie beside him. Jeanne dangerous character.
d'Arc gloried in her celestial visions. M. Moreau has better examples No one will be surprised to find than these, but he cites many that numerous examples of the “organic are questionable, and not a few that condition” among the founders of are absurd. Cato may have been sects, or anong artists ; but several mad when he committed suicide : if of those cited by M. Moreau are M. Moreau is struck by several in- rather examples of his credulity than dications of insanity in Plutarch's of anything else. Thus we read, narrative, we are willing to let Cato’s “Petrarch was found dead in his name retain its place on the list; as library, his head leaning on a book.” also that of Charlemagne, to whom Can you detect the connection beSt James appeared in the Milky tween this fact, and the proposition Way, and revealed the spot in Gal- that genius is a disease of the nervous icia where his bones lay buried, at centre ? Again we read of Malherbe, the same time ordering Charlemagne that his thickness of utterance spoiled to conquer Spain, and build there a the effect of his verses, when he church and a tomb. Peter the Great recited them ; he also spat more than and Charles V. have an indubitable even a Frenchman thinks becoming, right to figure among mad statesmen. and drew down upon him this mot The mother of Charles was insane, from the chevalier Marin : "qu'il and hence styled_Jeanne la folle. n'avait jamais vu d'homme plus His grandfather Ferdinand of Ara- humide, ni poëte plus sec.” If the gon was profoundly melancholy, and salivary standard is to be applied, we he himself was epileptic. So was fear that France, Germany, Italy, and Julius Cæsar. Richelieu had occa- America, will yield a long list of madsional attacks of insanity, in which he fancied himself a horse : he would Handel, Milton, and Delille, were prance round the billiard-table, neigh- blind ; Richardson and Labruyère ing, kicking out at his servants, and died of apoplexy—and to M. Moreau, making a great noise, until, exhausted blindness, or apoplexy, is ample proof by fatigue, he suffered himself to be of a predisposition to insanity. put to bed and well covered up. On David, the painter, and Rude, the awaking he remembered nothing that sculptor, were not themselves actually had passed. His sister, the Marquise insane, but the son of David died of de Brézé, had a droll hallucination : apoplexy, and the father of Rude was “ Elle croyait avoir un derrière de afflicted with paralyais—what more cristal, ne voulait pas s'asseoir de can be needed to prove a family prepeur de le casser, et le tenait soig- disposition? Alfred de Musset beneusement entre ses deux mains de
came a confirmed drunkard-clear peur qu'il ne lui arrivât malheur.” proof! Guercino squinted — need
Cromwell had fits of hypochondria. more be said ? If more be needed, Dr Francia was unequivocally ne. more is ready ; for did not Ludović Dr Johnson was hypochondriacal, aud Carracci say of Guercino that he was declared that he once distinctly heard a prodigy whose works, although the his mother call to him “Samuel !” products of a young man, amazed the when she was many miles distant. greatest painters ? Rousseau was certainly insane. Saint Let not the reader imagine we are Simon is said to have committed inventing absurdities for M. Moreau: suicide under circumstances indicat- allthese examples are gravely adduced ing insanity. Fourrier “passed his by him as evidence; and they serve to life in a continual hallucination.” give the measure at once of his scientiCardan, Swedenborg, Lavater, Zim- fic capacity, and his theoretic courage. mermann, Mahomet, Van Helmont, A more circumspect writer could Loyola, St Francis Xavier, St Domi- have collected sufficient examples to nic, all had visions. Even Luther produce an effect, without betraying had his hallucinations ; Satan fre- his weakness by such as those just quently appeared, not only to have cited. inkstands thrown at his sophistical Lucretius, Tasso, Swift, Cowper, head, but to get into the reformer's Chatterton, are melancholy cases
about which there is no dispute. questionable, but were they all of Shelley had hallucinations. Bernar- the same unequivocal character as din St Pierre, while writing one of his the cases of Tasso, Newton, and works, was “attacked by a strange Cowper, they would not warrant bis illness” - lights flashed before his deduction. They would prove that eyes; objects appeared double and many men of genius were insane, or in motion; he imagined all the pas- predisposed to insanity; but not sers - by to be his enemies. Heine that genius issued from the same died of a chronic disease of the spine. organic condition as insanity; nor Metastasio early suffered from ner- that there was any direct necessary vous affections. Moliere was liable connection between the two. to convulsions. Paganini was cata- It is often said, and by M. Moreau's leptic at four years old. Mozart method it would be easy to prove, died of water on the brain. Beeth- that poverty forms one of the necesoven was bizarre, irritable, hypochon- sary conditions of genius. Biography driacal. Donizetti died in an asylum. would show that many, if not most, Chatterton and Gilbert committed illustrious intellects were developed suicide. Chateaubriand was troubled amidst the res angusta domi. The with suicidal thoughts; and George men were poor, or at any rate had Sand confesses to the same. Sopho- poor relatives. Want stimulated cles was accused of imbecility by his their energies. The struggle for exson but this was after he was istence developed their strength. eighty. Pope was deformed ; and, With a list of well-known instances, according to Atterbury, he had mens and a few eloquent delcamations, the curva in corpore curvo. He believed hypothesis might be considered estabthat he once saw an arm projecting lished. Nevertheless it would not be from the wall of his room.
difficult to confute it. A few exAmong the less impassioned heroes amples--one would suffice- of unof philosophy the examples are con- mistakable genius reared in affluence fessedly rarer ; yet Newton, Pascal, or comfort would show that there and Auguste Comte, are illustrious was no necessity for poverty as the and indisputable examples. Alber- stimulus and condition of intellectual tus Magnus also must be named. pre-eminence; while a glance at the He had a vision of the Virgin, who thousands of highly-educated men, asked him whether he preferred ex- unquestionably poor and unquescelling in theology or in philosophy; tionably common place, struggling he chose the latter; whereupon she with want, yet doomed by congenital assured him that he would be incom- mediocrity, would show that po parable in it, but as a punishment amount of such stimulus as poverty for his rejection of theology, he was can supply will add a cubit to the to sink into complete imbecility be- intellectual stature. Genius is often fore he died. Linnæus died accompanied by want, but it is someétat de démence sénile.” Other thing altogether distinct from “imnames might doubtless be added; pecuniosity.” In like manner it is but it is only such a mind as our often accompanied by eccentricity or author's that could see a proof of in- insanity, but it is something altosanity in Kepler's belief of the world gether distinct from nervous disease. being an organism ; or in Montes- If instead of allowing attention to quieu's blindness. To such a mind fall on the few cases of genius coit is even conceivable that the deaths existing with disease, we glance at of Voltaire and Wellington in ex- the numberless cases of nervous treme old age by apoplexy, are disease which reveal no intellectual illustrations of the hypothesis that pre-eminence, but only a desolation pre-eminence of intellect is due to of stupidity or a sterile excitability, organic disease of the
we shall see reason to place M. centres.
Moreau's hypothesis on a level with The collection of biographical facts that which assumes poverty to be made by M. Moreau is thus seen to the necessary condition of genius. be wholly inadequate to his purpose: Every experienced keeper of an not only are the majority of them asylum will testify to the painful
mediocrity of his patients in spite of lieving, as M. Moreau believes, that their excitability; and in our ordin- there is an essential similarity, and ary experience we see how it is by that both genius and insanity are no means the most excitable people forms of the same nervous disease, who are the most eminent. Very we believe there is an essential disshallow natures are often very ex- tinction, one not less than between citable; and some forms of idiocy the vivacious monkey and the vivaare distinguished by restlessness and cious man. There is a resemblance, vivacity. It is perfectly true that of but it is simply in the excitability two equally-developed brains the common to both.
Instead of exmore excitable will be the more claiming, powerful ; but intellectual pre-emin- “What thin partitions do our souls ence depends rather on the develop- divide ! ment of the brain than on the vivacity Great wits to madness nearly are of the temperament.
allied," This truth is the more to be in- we should assert that the partitions sisted on, since the cause of the re- are party-walls; and that there is semblances observable between genius no other alliance between genius and and insanity is the excitability com- madness than that of a common mon to both ; whereas the cause of humanity, a common excitability, the essential differences between and a common liability to excess. them is the organic perfection of the If a few great men have fallen vicone, and the organic imperfection of tims to the facility with which the the other.
nervous mechanism may be disWhen a man of genius is in a turbed, men who had nothing great state of intense excitement, he is have likewise fallen victims by thouat the culmination of his power; sands. When we have gained some and so long as his nervous mechan- slight knowledge of the wondrous ism is uninjured or unhindered in its mechanism we name the body, how action, there is an infinite distance multitudinous its combined actions, between him and the madman in an how easily the disturbance of one equal state of excitement. But will affect the healthy action of the should this exaltation be prolonged, rest, and how recklessly we disregard should the strain be too great for the the plainest rules of health, the wonmechanism, and some portion of it der at a few men having succumbed give way or become disturbed, then, in the course of an intense intellecindeed, insanity will supervene. Does tual life ceases at once, and a new this prove a necessary connection be- wonder emerges--wonder that any tween the two? No more than the man can live this life, and retain broken back of an overtasked ath- his faculties in healthy activity. lete proves a necessary connection The very predominance of the nerbetween muscular strength and de- vous system implies a predominant crepitude.
activity, and this is liable to be It will naturally occur to the reader stimulated to excess by two potent that a notion so widely spread, and so tempters : Ambition, eager to jostle persistently handed down from gen- its way through energetic crowds; eration to generation, as the one we and Fascination, which lies in intelare here combating, must have some lectual labour, the brooding storge of ground of plausibility, if not of truth. creation, the passionate persistence That men in all ages should have been of research. These tempters hurry struck with the similarity between men into excess. Men who live genius and insanity, especially when much by the brain have seldom the the genius took the form of artistic courage to be prudent, seldom the activity, is only intelligible on the wisdom to be patient. In vain the supposition of some fundamental significant words of warning become similitude ; and the answer to the louder and louder : in vain the head question, What is that similitude ? feels hot, the ears are full of noises, cannot be uninteresting.
the heart fluttering and thumping, opinion there can be little hesitation the nights sleepless, the digestion as to the answer. So far from be- miserably imperfect, the temper ir