« PreviousContinue »
supply her, unknown to the physician, with her usual quantity of spirits. Her delirium subsided; she recovered her senses, and talked rationally as long as she was furnished with the means of intoxication. Her cough became less troublesome; she slept well, and was able to sit up a considerable time. In this amended state she remained about a month, at the
expiration of which she became insensible, and expired in two days. There are numerous instances of this kind, from which a physician may learn that, in diseases arising from habit, it is proper to relax a little in the severity of his principles. Some of these facts are related by Monro.-A man-cook, whose nose was nearly cut off, had lost a great deal of blood. He was allowed to take wine in barleywater or whey, but he remained very weak, frequently fainted, and was troubled with head-ache. He had been accustomed to drink daily a considerable quantity of ale, wine, and spirits. At his request some ale, with a quartern of brandy, was given him, and from that time be began to mend, and continued to improve by the daily repetition of this allowance.-A man had broken his leg, and the physician confined him to milk and water and slops. He slept badly at night ; his pulse was weak and quick; and he complained of thirst and head-ache. On the third day, upon a continuance of this diet, he was still sleepless and delirious ; got out of bed, tore away the cradle in which the leg was laid, and knew nobody. At the same time his weak pulse intermitted. The physician was informed that this man had been for many years a drunkard : he therefore permitted him to drink ale and brandy. He slept the next night, and his fever and delirium were gone. He had drunk, the preceding day, a Scotch quart of ale and a quarter of a pint of brandy; and continuing to do the same daily, he recovered without farther accident.-A distiller fell into a vat containing hot spirits, and scalded his legs, thighs, and belly so dreadfully, that the skin of those parts soon turned quite hard and black. As his pulse was very quick, he was let blood, and a strict diet was recommended. Next day he was a great deal weaker, with much anxiety, and a low quick pulse. The third day he was very ill and insensible. His wife begged that she might be allowed to give him some brandy. Her request was complied with, and her husband grew better ; the skin of the injured parts began to suppurate, and he completely recovered. His wife then confessed that she had given him a pint of brandy a day. To such a degree can habit weaken the effect of so strong a liquor as brandy.
Libau informs us, that the Ethiopians eat scorpions, and Mercurialis states, that the West Indians eat toads : neither of these facts is without a parallel in Europe. At Padua and Rome, there were two children who ate scorpions, and a girl took great pleasure in eating frogs, lizards, serpents, mice, and all sorts of insects. Another ate live lizards and caterpillars with pepper and vinegar. Of spider-eaters, who grew fat upon those disgusting insects, I could easily collect half a dozen instances from different writers. Galen relates of an old woman, that she had gradually habituated herself to make a meal of hemlock; and Sextus Empiricus assures us, that there have been persons who have taken thirty drams of that poison without injury. A student at Halle accustomed himself on purpose to arsenick, which he
took with his food, from a boy; and though it at first occasioned vomiting, yet in time he could bear a considerable quantity. Hence it is evident, how one who habituates himself needlessly to physic, breaks down himself the bridges which, in case of emergency, might carry him in safety over the abysses of disease.
Even the use of our limbs, walking, standing, dancing, riding, speaking, singing, swimming, the ready use of the right or left hand, and a thousand other actions and movements, depend on practice; and this is the foundation of all the corporeal talents which excite the astonishment of mankind. Tulpius makes mention of a woman who could thread a needle, tie firm knots, and write with her tongue. Ropedancers, and people who have grown up in a savage state, display equally extraordinary feats. We may therefore easily infer, that strength also, and capability of enduring fatigue, may be acquired by practice. A robust young fellow, just sent to the galleys, is surprised at the fatigue which his older and much weaker comrades can go through. The ancient physicians were aware of the reason of this. “ An infirm old man,” says Hippocrates, can perform hard labour to which he is accustomed, with greater ease than a young man who is ever so strong but unaccustomed to it;" and Celsus has an observation to the same effect.
The senses, also, are powerfully influenced by habit. By accustoming our eyes to spectacles and glasses, we soon render them incapable of seeing without those auxiliaries. By habit, our ears gradually become insensible to the loudest noise, our nose to the most noisome stench, our palate to the most disgusting taste; and the Lacedæmonian youths were so accustomed to stripes, that, though beaten to death, they would not make a wry face. Memory, wit, presentiments, passions, may all be introduced by habit into the machine : hence it has been not unaptly remarked by a modern writer, that thought itself is but a habit. Moræus long since conceived the same idea, when he observed, that we have to ascribe life, and even wisdom itself, to nothing but habit; and that this alone, and not reason, governs our minds.” Even study, otherwise so injurious, becomes innocent through habit. Many ancient philosophers, and among the moderns, Mallebranche, Cassini, Newton, Hofmann, Fontenelle, and other studious men, lived to an advanced age.
By way of conclusion, I must not omit to mention the natural evacuations, over which, habit has a very powerful influence. Many people have natural discharges of blood, which must not be stopped. There is an instance of a healthy person, who had such a constipation, as to receive but one call from nature every five weeks. Many perspire naturally very abundantly, others not at all. Whoever should attempt to alter such habits, whether hurtful or beneficial, would bring his patients into great danger, and not accomplish any good purpose. Oh how many useful maxims does this single paper present to my readers and my colleagues! I could not exhaust the subject in as many sheets as I have here devoted pages to it.
THE POET AMONG THE TREES.
Oak is the noblest tree that grows,
its leaves are Freedom's type and herald ; If we may put our faith in those
Of Literary-Fund Fitzgerald. Willow 's a sentimental wood, And
many Sonneteers, to quicken 'em, A relic keep of that which stood
Before Pope's Tusculum at Twickenham. The Birch-tree with its pendent curves,
Exciting many a sad reflection,
But our posterior recollection.
Is sacred to the Eastern Magi.
“Recubans sub tegmine fagi.” Some like the Juniper-in gin;
Some fancy that its berries droop, as Knowing a poison lurks within
More rank than that distilld from th' Upas. But he who wants a useful word,
To tag a line or point a moral, Will find there's none to be preferr'd
To that inspiring tree the Laurel. The hero-butchers of the sword,
In Rome and Greece and many a far land, Like Bravos murder'd for reward,
The settled price—a laurel-garland.
Forgetful of its bloody story,
That one might bear this type of glory.
'Cause his bald sconce had nothing on it, Knocking some millions on the head,
To get his own a leafy bonnet. Luckily for the Laurel's name,
Profaned to purposes so frightful,
All innocent, and some delightful.
In the Olympic games for running,
The Circus with most speed and cunning.
To the Parnassian Empyrean ;
Who ever dipp'd in Tooke's Pantheon.
connubial ties are" horrid, Fled from his arms, but left a rare
Memento sprouting on his forehead.
For Bays did ancient bards compete,
Gather'd on Pindus or Parnassus;
And that's the reason they surpass us.
Whose brains have brighten'd all our sconces,
'Cause they themselves were royal dunces.
For crowns of gold, not laurel fillets;
Must have them in the grate for billets.
Of all calibres and diameters,
They give us lachrymose Hexameters.
Folks wrote and wrestled, sung and bluster'd,
And dainty flavour to our custard !
“ Le présent est gros de l'avenir."-Leibnitz. “ Thou rascal Beadle, hold thy bloody hand!"-let her escape; I make no charge against that Gipsy, whose eye flashes like lightning through the dark clouds of hair that thou hast shaken over her brow: -if the wenches of the laundry choose to hang my shirts upon a hedge, she is as free to gather them as to pluck
“The lady's smocks all silver white
That paint the meadows much bedight.” It may be a weakness, but I have had such a sneaking kindness for Gipsies ever since I read, when a boy, the Adventures of Bampfylde Moore Carew, that I have more than once felt a temptation to desert from school and join their encampment as we passed it in our way to the bathing-place. Beneath a few scattered trees, that formed the entrance to a dark grove, their principal tent was usually planted ; before it was poised upon three sticks the mysterious cauldron, the blue smoke losing itself amid the trees, and around it were huddled those counterparts of the Jewish miracle, the Arabs of Europe, whose swart looks, shadowy elf-locks, and dark glittering eyes, awakened impressions that combined the romantic and the awful; while the lazy luxury of their wood-wandering life found congenial sympathies in that love of idleness, bird's-nesting, and vagabondage, which, if I may judge by myself, is inherent in all boys. Even the lean Rosinante that was tethered behind them, the panniered donkey browsing thistles a little farther back, the implements of the tinker's trade, that, faintly glimmering amid the foliage, assumed the sublimity of warlike spoil, and the copper-coloured imps of children flitting athwart the umbrageous depths of the grove --all combined to strike upon that organ of vagrancy which must have been strongly developed upon my juvenile skull, although the vigilance of ushers and schoolmasters fortunately preserved me from following its impulse. But I would not "put into circumscription and confine" any one of these“ native burghers of the wood," even though he had subjected me to the imputation of being a perfect Descamisado; he shall not be fain to hug the whipping-post, because he has been too intimate with my hen-roost, nor shall he be made to supply the place of the duck whom he has inveigled from my horsepond; and if my house-dog chase him undieted from the pantry-door, his canine teeth shall assuredly forget their cunning for the remainder of that day. Civilisation has rendered the surface of society so monotonous and Quaker-like, that it was quite refreshing to stumble upon any thing so original, wild, and picturesque, as a nomadic tribe disavowing the social compact, acknowledging no government, claiming a knowledge of futurity, making a public profession of idleness and of living upon the community, as if they were the nobility of low life, and exhibiting in their fine sunburnt physiognomies decisive evidence of their Oriental origin. It was like encountering a Salvator Rosa after poring over views of Turnham Green and Battersea Rise.
Cleopatra was a Gipsy, and the females of the tribe are generally so beautiful, that one might fancy them to be lineally descended from that king-fascinating brunette ; but as to the men, it must be confessed that they marvellously lack the assistance of the turban and the scimitar; for our mean, tame, prosaic vestments do but ill assimilate with the wildness of their looks and the poetical licence of their lives. A hat is a sad extinguisher of the romantic; coats and waistcoats are the types of a well-ordered nation of quiet shopkeepers, rather than of free rovers, chiromancers, and professors of palmistry; while our lower garments, or Ineffables, sit but awkwardly upon—"an outlandish people calling themselves Egyptians, using no craft nor feat of merchandise, who have come into this realm, and gone from shire to shire and place to place in great companies, and used great, subtle, and crafty means to deceive the people,”—for thus are they described in a Statute of Henry the Eighth. In spite, however, of their uncongenial attire, I found so many attractions in their propinquity, so much association connected with their haunts and purlieus, that I once fixed my residence at Norwood, then invested with a moral, or at least an imaginative beauty by their frequent apparition amid its shades; but their descents, like angel-visits, soon became “ few and far between ;" they were at last routed out, (to use the irreverent phraseology of the journals,) and Norwood being instantly desecrated into a vulgar eminence sprinkled with civic villas and cockney cottages, I struck my tent like the Gipsies, and bade it a long adieu.
“They toil not, neither do they spin ;" and why should they, when the ingenious rogues can live upon the future hopes of mankind, if they have not convenient and ready access to their present possessions ? Poor human nature, unwilling to submit to that
“ Blindness to the future, wisely given,
That none might know the secrets hid by Heaven," is perpetually struggling to " peep through the blanket of the dark,"
VOL. VIII. NO. . XXXIV.