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even by principle, is the rarest as it is one of as your capacity will allow you to do, compel the most painful of human weaknesses. It is that thought to bring you to come sort of half indecision, such as is thus described by conclusion, and then carry out the conclusion Foster, an indecision which has a root in the without consulting any human being. Clear conscience as well as the temperament, which thought, continuous thought, and silenceis the curse of men's lives. “A man has, per- all exercised on the daily trifles of lifebaps, advanced a considerable way towards these babits, which are none of them difficult, a decision, but then lingers at a small dis- will so harden the mind as in a very short tance from it, till necessity, with a stronger period to make it incapable of indecision. hand than conviction, impels him upon it. The moral good of the change it would require He cannot see the whole length of the ques- an article to illustrate ; the social good has tion, and suspects the part beyond his sight never been better described than in this to be the most important, for the most essen- paragraph from the essay: “ Another adtial point and stress of it may be there. He vantage of this character is, that it exempts fears that certain possible consequences, if from a great deal of interference and obstructhey should follow, would cause him to re
which an irresolute man may proach himself for his present determination. be almost sure to encounter. Weakness, in He wonders how this or the other person every form, tempts arrogance; and a man would have acted in the same circumstances ; may be allowed to wish for character of a eagerly catches at anything like a respecta- kind with which stupidity and impertinence ble precedent; would be perfectly willing to may not make so free. When a firm, decisive forego the pride of setting an example, for the spirit is recognized, it is curious to see how safety of following one ; and looks anxiously the space clears around a man, and leaves him round to know what each person may think room and freedom. The disposition to interon the subject ; while the various and opposite rogate, dictate, or banter, preserves a reopinions to which he listens, perhaps, only spectful and politic distance, judging it not serve to confound his perception of the track unwise to keep the peace with a person of so of thought by which he had hoped to reach much energy. A conviction that he underhis conclusion. Even when that conclusion stands, and that he wills with extraordinary is obtained, there are not many minds that force, silences the conceit that intended to might not be brought a few degrees back into perplex or instruct him, and intimidates the dubious hesitation by a man of respected un- malice that was disposed to attack him. derstanding saying, in a confident tone, There is a feeling, as in respect to fate, that •Your plan is injudicious ; your selection is the decrees of so inflexible à spirit must be unfortunate ; the event will disappoint you.'” right, or that, at least, they will be accomPerhaps one-half of mankind have minds pre- plished.”. Most " improving" literature is cisely to constituted, and one-half at least of rubbish; but we doubt if any man ever read them are aware of the mischief wit in. It is this essny without feeling that he had swalto such men that John Foster addressed him- lowed a mental tonic, and it is because it self with advice which, as it is scattered heals that the medicine, despite its own bitthrough the whole eesay, we are reluctantly terness and tho nasty powder in which it is compelled to summarize. It is briefly this. conreyed, still Bells so well among men who Upon all occasions of life which are not of the can tell physic from nostrums. bast importance, think as steadily and clearly
From Tho Spoctator. tions how many times they went up and STORIES OF MONOMANIA.* came down-stairs on a certain interesting This is a remarkable book. Imaginative morning, when they got their breakfast, of power is apt, in general, to misrepresent life what it consisted, and all such little minus in one almost invariable direction. Whether tiæ, which would be intolerable if they did, it deal with the play of character, or the not carry with them the air of absolute and force of passion, or the pathos of sentiment, indisputable reality-the minute faithfulness it generally represents life as too interest- of actual narrative that makes one listen as ing-more interesting than the truth; and to a verbal account of scenes personally witif it fails to do this, it fails to be interesting nessed by the narrator of which every detail itself, and becomes incapable of literary ef- is still fresh in his memory. foct. Imaginative power must heighten the Yet there is more of distinct idea traced colors oi life, and give a golden, or, at least, in these stories than De Foe erer admitted. a silver burnish to its monotony and its cares. The various characters, though described just In but one instance of firstrato imaginative in the way in which a very faithful but unpower that we remember has it hitherto been imaginative mind would seize them, are disotherwise. De Foe seemed to stamp his won- tinguished by definite peculiaritics, and cast derful pictures on copper, making them at in given types. Though there is no attempt once as dull and wretched as the wretchedest at all to color a picture, no attempt “ to conand most arid life, and yet, from the extraor- ceive the character as a whole,” yet a single dinary vigor and minuteness, the dingy fidel- face of it is generally left sharply stamped ity, the sordid earthiness of his workman- on the narrative, though only one face. Of ship, he carries away the attention of his course, this is essential to the very plan of readers with as much success as if they had delineating monomania, wbich is a more inthemselves been plunged into that world of tellectual design than Dc Fue would have leaden cares and gains and risks and crimes generally adoped. Take, for example, one of and dangers. He was the Vulcan of Eng- the most unpretending of all these stories, lish writers of fiction, who forged all his --scarcely, indeed, a story at all,—"Tho works of art out of a base metal, yet forged Cynic.” When the tale is told, we do not them with a truly godlike skill and dexter- feel that we know the man except on the one ity, and rises himself before the imagination side on which his eccentricity has developed as a limping smith begrimed with the smoke itself. Yet how thoroughly we understand and dust of his own workshop, yet moulding that,--the profound mortifications in early his drossy material in a furnaco of unearthly life which made the boy acutely sensible to heat.
the absurdities of young enthusiasm ; the The present writer is, to a cortain extent, discovery that the faithful dog on the stage of the school of De Foe. There is not a lit- was faithful only to a concealed sausage, not tle of the same power of presenting the din- to his master; the discovery that the luk of giness of life with a minute fidelity that riv- auburn hair, which, as he had hoped, was u ets our attention, without adding to it a voiuntary keepsuko from his lady love, bad particle of imaginative lustro. Ilo generally been really made up by ber brother from the works, like De Foe, in copper, and frequently bairs lest in her comb and hairbrush ; the succeeds, like De Foc, in graving his notion shock of seeing the lovely Italian actress, who on it so deeply and indelibly that it is even was playing the part of Juliet, take off on her more striking than if it had had in it more beautiful lips an exact imprint of the burntof the transmuting touch of ordinary imag-cork mustache of her impassioned lover; the inative insight. Like De Foo, he almost al- overpowering impression produced by the ways succeeds in making you think he is clergyman's wish that his congregation could copying directly from actual experience, and have tails to wag to show their interest, or not really creating at all. Ile produces an want of interest in his discourses ; all these, impression exactly in the same way as De and many more than these accidental mixFoe, by telling you anxiously about the arti- tures of the ridiculous with a certain percles of furniture in the apartments of his ho-sonal excitement of feeling, engender naturoes, by the particularity with which he men- rally before our eyes that morbid disposition
* "Shirley Hall Asylum; or, the Memoirs of oto laugh at anything serious, which made Monomaniac." London: W. Frooman.
the Cynic a partial monomaniac :
“I was hardly ever in church, when, during side of the mind. The monomania is painted sermon-time, it (this notion of tails wagging] throughout as rooted in the weakest point of did not present itself to my mind. If a pet a weak or weakened mind, the dreariest side parson entered the pulpit, I immediately saw of a dreary existence (the only exception be all the feminine tails wagging. of the duties of children to their parents, all ing, perhaps, in the case where monomaniathe senile male tails wagged ; if of the duties if such it can be called—is absolutely nothing of servants to their superiors, all the matronly but a physical result of intemperance, a wild tails were in agitation. And after a long dull case of delirium tremens). In every other sermon, when all bent forward to offer up case, it will be found that the author pictures their last prayer, there appeared a simulta- the monomania as an attempt of weakened neous wagging of all the tails of the congre- faculties to work upon an overstrained nergation. The return of this feeling I alone fear."
vous string, so that all mental power disap
pears just when the wish to apply it is But though all the stories of monomania deepest. The imaginative interest popularly are necessarily based on a certain leading idea attached to this dreariest of all mental states, or impression, which furnishes the root of the is very like the imaginative charm of the monomania, the author's power is not exclu- autumnal tree, whose gorgeous spots of colorsively, perhaps not chiefly, shown in the de- ing are hut marks of local decay. When the lineation of this absorbing idea or impression, colors of the mind are already flying, there is --but rather in the powerful use of common- a partial decomposition of its structure which place incident in piecing together the story way show how many brilliant prismatic shades which serves as the scene and background for really entered into the dull light of every-day the monomania. Some of the stories—as for common sense and common feeling, -and so exan ple, " A Doctor's Wooing,”—are con- the monomaniac's sorrow or the monomaniac's nected very blenderly indeed with any aber- cunning may strike perceptions of other men ration of mind; and the morbid anatomy, more keenly than the homely love and skill which is never overdone, is often quite thrust of every-day life. Still these more conspicainto the background. In the last, and, in ous shades of thought and feeling are more some respects, most striking tale, “ Memory conspicuous only because they lay bare, as it in Madness,” though the madman is very were, the decaying membrane of the intellect powerfully described, he is certainly but sec- or heart; and if painted as they are, and not ondary in the story, which interests even more merely as adding to the picturesque effects of by its excessive realism, by the minute seam- a situation, they should give a sense of ining of the incidents, than by the striking pic- finite dreariness such as this author most truly . ture of the religious monomaniac.
paints. Ilis power of delineating the leaden Indeed, it is one of the characteristic ex- weariness and exhaustion of ordinary wretchcellences of these pictures of monomania that, edness and toil—that vacancy of mind which instead of connecting it, as people are too apt comes of overtasked effort in common life, to do, with bigbly wrought genius and too enables him to paint the still greater, though great a wealth of nature and sentiment, the more striking, dreariness of mononania with author realizes, and makes his readers realize remarkable truthfulness of effect. Take, for intensely, its utter dreariness. The stories instance, the powerful and partly humorous all assume that inonomania arises in a failure description of the escape of the two monoof the faculties round a given centre of maniacs from the asylum, their railway jourthought, in a paralysis of power along a given ney to London, and its results. The one who line of mental direction unaccompanied by relates the whole is a monomaniac only on any parallel paralysis of interest, so that the the subject of mechanical force. After an enpatient busies himself involuntarily on a sub-Weebling attack of typhus fever, into which, ject on which he has lost the power of bring- after a favorable crisis, he had relapsed, he ing his faculties to bear. And further, they observes, as he fancies, during his recovery, make us feel that these morbid centres of that the force with which a bullet is dispartial imbecility are, cætris paribus, more charged from an air-gun is far greater than likely to spring up in minds below the aver- the force employed to condense the air in the age in general power than in those above barrel of the gun, and thereupon thero rises them, though the centre of the discas itself ! before his mind a dream of an infinite multiwill often be on the noblest or most sensitive 'plication of force which would enable him,
if he chose, to destroy the earth. This sub-| as the conduct of the men had been before, ject is kept in abeyance in his mind while he it now became intolerably worse. A certain is secluded from all the means and appliances sort of rude gallantry bad restrained them for mechanical experiment, and kept in a
only to laughing at Mme. Reumont's bebap
ior; but in my case it was different; every tranquil corner of the world; but he has
coarse jest they could think of was imme Booner escaped, and is in the railway train, diately played off on me, some asking Mine. than these visions dilate before his relaxed Reuinont whether that strange-looking cove understanding in tenfold grandeur. His com- in the corner was her young man; others, panion, Madame Ruemont, is a governess, whether we had had a quarrel ; if so they who has taught Greek history to young pu
were sure she was right, and they would pils at a tension of effort to herself that has stand up for her. Some advised her to leave resulted in the belief that she is Xerxes, join their party; while another had the abom
such an ill-looking bumbug as I was, and and the first glimpse of a soldier or volunteer inable insolence to advise us to kiss and make throws her into inextinguishable grief in the it up: prospect of her mighty army's destruction, " I had now ample time and opportunity while occasionally it prompts her to put her- to indulge in my own thoughts, and they self at its head and direct its movements. turned naturally on the inventions I had carBoth monomaniacs are perfectly sane on all ried on to such a dangerous degree. The other subjects, and keenly alive to each other's contributed, in no slight manner, to that cur
rapidity at which the train was rolling on weakness. The following passages from the rent of thought. The more I reflected on the description of the journey of escape will show subject the more attractive it became ; and at the admirable workmanship of the writer :- last the idea came over ine whether it would “ The train moved off. I threw myself solely as far as related to the motive power
not be possible to carry on my invention, back in the carriage and spoke not a word to for propelling railway carriages, and resomy companion, for her observation about my lutely to abstain from the temptation of purexpression of countenance had annoyed me suing the study further. The more I thought extremely. Presently I became drowsy, and
over the matter the more possible it appeared. shortly afterwards I fell asleep. I know not Why, akor all,'.I argued, should I keep how long I continued so, or how many sta- from mankind an invention which would imtions we passed ; but at last I was awoke, mensely benefit them, merely from the possinot only by the train stopping, but also by bility that I might carry it to a point so ter; the loud sobbing of Mme. Reumont. I roused ribly destructive as to endanger the universe?' myself and looked around me, and the cause if such an idea were to actuate others, no of her grief was in a moment apparent.. A physician would prescribe a narcotic for a company of Highland soldiers were awaiting patient in pain, for fear of being tempted to on the platform of the station the arrival of the train, and no sooner had Mme. Reumont the death of the individual prescribed for.
carry on the prescription till it had caused cast her eyes on them than the spirit of No; I was resolved. I would go on with Xerxes immediately took possession of her my invention for the improvement of locomo body, and she forthwith gave way to her sor- tives, and that I would manfully resist all row on the old subject—that in how short a temptations to carry it further.” time they would be no more. As the train had to wait some minutes at the station, the There are other passages showing a more soldiers, attracted by her singular appear- striking resemblance to the minute and plodance, gathered round the carriage at first, in ding imagination of De Fue in the book-as, burlesque sorrow of the poor lady, that feel- for example, the description by the clergyman ing turned to merriment, and they broke into of the feelings which induced him to resort a loud laugh each tiine any particularly ab- to brandy before the funeral of his only son. surd gesture caught their attention. But these will be sufficient to show the dreary
“ I cannot describe how terribly annoyed power, not unsprinkled with humor, with I was at the whole scene ; I bent forward, and which the subject of the book is treated, begged Mue. Reumont to lean back from the though they will not show the skill with window. She paid me little attention, and which the attention of the reader is often then only replied to my entreaty by an impa- riveted on details studiously commonplace tient gesture, which did not pass without notice by the soldiers, one of whom caught and leaden-colored, which read like exact sight of me in my corner, and immediately images of the every-day miseries of every day communicated the fact to bis comrades. Bad poverty.
THE LAST NUMBER OF 1863. the whole ; the termination of any period of To the Editor of the Living Age :
life reminds us that life itself has likewise its
termination; when we have done anything Though, my dear Sir, you ably and agree for the last time, we involuntarily reflect that ably represent the living age, as your title a part of the days allotted us is past, and aptly tells us, I have sometimes thought that as more are past there are less remainthat an occasional reverting to the past age ing: : would be relished by many to whoun
It is very happily and kindly provided, that versions would be novelties. Now it has oc
in every life there are certain pauses and incurred to me that the reproduction of the the careless, and seriousness upon the light;
terruptions, which force consideration upon impressive paper with which Johnson closed points of tiine where une course of action his Idler, at the close of the year of a Living ends, and another begins ; and loy vicissitudes Age would be a propos ?
of furtune, or alteration of employment, by change of place or loss of friendsbip, we are
forced to say of something, this is the last.' SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 1760. An even and' unvaried tenor of life al
ways hides from our apprehension the ap“ Respicere ad longæ jussit spatia ultima vitæ.” | proach of its end. Succession is not per
ceived but by rariation; he that lives to-day Much of the pain and pleasure of man- as he lived yesterday, and expects that as the kind arises from the conjectures which every present day is, such will be the inorrow, one makes of the thoughts of others; we all easily conceives time as running in a circle enjoy praise which we do not hear, and resent and returning to itself. The uncertainty of contempt which we do not see. The Idler our duration is impressed commonly by dismay therefore be forgiven, if he suffers his similitude of condition ; it is only by finding imagination to represent to him what his life changeable that we are reminded of its readers will say or think when they are in- shortness. formed that they have now his last paper in This conviction, however forcible at every their hands.
new impression, is every moment fading from Value is more frequently raised by scarc- the mind; and partly by the inevitable inity than by use. That which lay neglected cursion of new images, and partly by volunwhen it was common, rises in estimation as tary exclusion of unwelcome thoughts, we its quantity becomes less. We seldom learn are again exposed to the universal fallacy ; the true want of what we have, till it is dis- and we must do another thing for the last covered that we can have no more.
time, before we consider that the time is nigh This essay will, perhaps, be read with when we shall do no more. care even by those who have not yet attended As the last Idler is published in that sol. to any other; and he that finds this late at-emn week which the Coristian world bas altention recompensed, will not forbear to wish ways set apart for the examination of the that he had bestowed it sooner.
conscience, the review of life, the extinction Though the Idler and his readers hare of earthly desires, and the renoration of holy contracted no close friendship, they are per- purposes, I hope that my readers are alhaps both unwilling to part. There are few ready disposed to view every incident with things not purely evil, of which we can say, seriousness, and improve it by meditation : without some emotion of uneasiness, this is and that when they see this series of trifles the last.' Those who never could agree to- brought to a conclusion, they will consider gether, shed tears when mutual discontent that, by outliving the Idier they have passed has determined them to final separation ; of weeks, months, and years, which are now no a place which has been frequently visited, longer in their power; that an end inust in though without pleasure, the last look is time be put to everything great, as to everytaken with heavinces of heart; and the Idler, thing little ; and that to life inust come its with all his chillness of tranquillity, is not last hour, and to this system of being its last wholly unaffected by the thought that his day, the hour at which pruhation coases and last essay is now before him.
repentance will be vain; the day in which This secret horror of the last is insepara- every work of the hand, and imagination of ble from a thinking being, whose life is limited, the heart, shall be brought to judyrnent, and and to whom death is dreadful. We always an everlasting futurity shall be determined make a secret comparison between a part and by the past.