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Brief Literary Notices.
intellectual excitement; possessing unbounded animal spirits himself, and excelling in diffusing cheerfulness all around him; whilst, in regard to the management of his worldly concerns, he acted with the prudence befitting a man of limited means; we cannot be surprised that his social reputation should become known beyond the circles within which it shone, and his name become spread both far and wide. His domestic arrangements were characterized by the quaintness and oddity of the man. Describing his ménage to a lady friend, he says, "It" (building a parsonage-house) "made me a poor man for many years, but I never repented it. I turned schoolmaster, to educate my son, as I could not afford to send him to school. Mrs. Sydney turned schoolmistress, to educate my girls, as I could not afford a governess. I turned farmer, as I could not let my land. A man-servant was too expensive, so I caught up a little garden-girl, made like a mile-stone, christened her Bunch,' put a napkin in her hand, and made her my butler. The girls taught her to read, Mrs. Sydney to wait, and I undertook her morals. Bunch became the best butler in the county. I had little furniture, so I bought a cart-load of deals; took a carpenter, (who came to me for parish relief,) called Jack Robinson, with a face like a full moon, into my service; established him in a barn, and said, 'Jack, furnish my house.' You see the result."
The aforesaid Bunch is thus described and introduced to his friend Mrs. Marcet: "You may laugh,'" said he, "but you have no idea of the labour it has cost me to give her that decision of character. The Yorkshire peasantry are the quickest and shrewdest in the world; but you can never get a direct answer from them. If you ask them even their own names, they always scratch their heads, and say, 'A's sur ai dont knaw, Sir;' but I have brought Bunch to such perfection, that she never hesitates now on any subject, however difficult. I am very strict with her. Would you like to hear her repeat her crimes? she has them by heart, and repeats them every day. Come here, Bunch,' (calling out to her,) 'come and repeat your crimes to Mrs. Marcet;' and Bunch, a clean, fair, squat, tidy little girl, about ten or twelve years of age, quite as a matter of course, as grave as a Judge, without the least hesitation, and with a loud voice, began to repeat: 'Platesnatching, gravy-spilling, door-slamming, blue-bottle fly-catching, and curtsey-bobbing. Explain to Mrs. Marcet what blue-bottle flycatching is.' Standing with my mouth open, and not attending, Sir.' And what is curtsey-bobbing?' 'Curtseying to the centre of the earth, please, Sir.' 'Good girl: now you may go. She makes a capital waiter, I assure you; on state occasions, Jack Robinson, my carpenter, takes off his apron and waits too, and does pretty well; but he sometimes naturally makes a mistake, and sticks a gimlet into the bread instead of a fork.'"
The last years of Sydney Smith were years of prosperity. In 1830, he was made a Canon of St. Paul's; and some time afterwards he became, by the death of a younger brother, a wealthy man. Spending his time alternately between the metropolis and his parsonage in the Flowery Vale, courted by the great and the intellectual, varying his occupations by encouraging Reform, skirmishing with Bishops, or branding the repudiations of America, his old age was an unbroken
course of happiness, interrupted only by the loss of his eldest son. He died, after a short illness, in February, 1845.
The want of space forbids our giving more than a few illustrative extracts.
"Ah! what female heart can withstand a red coat? I think this should be a part of female education; it is much neglected. As you have the rocking-horse to accustom them to ride, I would have military dolls in the nursery, to harden their hearts against officers and red-coats."
"How little you understand young Wedgwood! If he appears to love waltzing, it is only to catch fresh figures for cream-jugs. Depend upon it, he will have Jeffrey and you upon some of his vessels, and you will enjoy an argillaceous immortality."
"I thank God who has made me poor, that He has made me merry. I think it a better gift than much wheat and bean land, with a doleful heart."
Elements of Psychological Medicine: being an Introduction to
the Practical Study of Insanity. By Daniel Noble, M.D., Physician to the Clifton-Hall Retreat, &c. Second Edition. London: John Churchill. 1855.
THE growth of our larger towns, and their consequent approximation to the social condition of the metropolis, are materially affecting provincial scientific literature. A number of the first provincial men, especially those engaged in the medical profession, are enabled to direct their attention prominently to specialities, which they can thus work out, in a way that they could not formerly do. They can now obtain a sufficiently wide field, both for pursuing their special investigations, and from whence to draw remunerative emolument. Hence they can afford to concentrate their chief attention upon narrow areas, at the same time that they may roam, like light skirmishers, over extended districts. They thus become comprehensive in their mental range, and at the same time accurate in the more special subject of their studies. It is only in this way that real progress can be made. On the one hand, a broad basis of general intelligence is necessary to prevent the false isolation of any topic, and in order that it may take its proper position amongst allied, or correlated, subjects; on the other, it is only by a limitation of the thoughts that all the details can be worked out, and their mutual narrower relations ascertained.
It is to circumstances of this nature that we owe Dr. Noble's admirable volume. Nominally a second edition of a little publication which we noticed favourably on a previous occasion, it is really a new work, having been entirely re-written, and expanded to about treble its original dimensions; and thus affording room for the elaborate analysis and illustration of some of the recondite problems previously but slightly touched upon by the author.
It is a happy circumstance that Psychology and Physiology are now so frequently studied by the same individuals. Unfortunately, too many of our earlier writers on mental philosophy were virtually ignorant of the sister science. The organization of the human frame
Brief Literary Notices.
was unknown to them. Of comparative anatomy they were equally ignorant, whilst pure Physiology, especially of the nervous system, at that time imperfectly understood by any, was to them a terra incognita. It naturally followed that their learned lucubrations were alike visionary and uninteresting. When truth is once obtained, its simplicity constitutes its most attractive feature. The complexity of many of the unintelligible works referred to indicates how wide the writers were from the attainment of that goal; in fact, their blundering philosophy often made these works little better than the ridiculous productions of the schoolmen. When men attempted to define the relations of the Will, the Intellect, and the Emotions, irrespectively of the nervous system, which is the sole instrument of these functions, they found themselves reasoning without adequate data. Works like the one before us have put an end to this anomalous condition of things, by helping to place two mutually dependent inquiries in a just relationship; and the natural result of this improvement in the modes of investigation has been a corresponding advance in the practical treatment of the insane. Theoretical and applied sciences have advanced pari passu.
This correlation of Psychology and Physiology is the key-note of Dr. Noble's philosophy, as it is the subject of his longest, and perhaps most interesting, chapter. Hence we have a common-sense, intelligible, readable book, as opposite as possible to the dry mysticisms of many earlier writers. On a previous occasion we noticed the author's peculiar views respecting the parts of the brain which are the instruments of various psychological functions; we then referred to his belief that, whilst the tactile, or common sensibility, had its seat and centre in the nucleus of the cerebellum, the emotional sensibilities had, as their instruments, the corpora striata and optic thalami, forming the ganglionic bases of the hemispheres, and cerebral prolongations of the spinal cord. This question is of too abstract a character to be discussed in a notice like the present; but we may remark respecting it, whether the hypothesis receive ultimate confirmation at the hands of physiologists or not, it affords a simple and convenient basis for the classification of the phenomena of insanity.
The author defines insanity as "an apyrexial disorder of the brain, perverting thought or feeling, to the destruction or impairment of moral liberty." We like this definition. It appears to us equally simple and comprehensive. Whilst we have insanity as the genus, it embraces the lesser divisions of species and varieties with logical accuracy. He divides insanity into Notional, Intelligential, and Emotional; a division based upon his peculiar views respecting the cerebral functions, to which we have already referred. These views, however, are honestly propounded as hypothetical, aiding and directing inquiry into channels which promise to be productive. Pathology alone can demonstrate their accuracy, or the reverse. It will only be by carefully noting after death the locality of structural disease, in cases where, during life, there have been remarkable abnormal derangements of the functions of the brain, that the parts respectively performing these functions can be determined. A bold hypothesis, if honestly and modestly maintained, helps the elucidation of truth, even if itself false; and it is in this philosophic spirit that Dr. Noble
maintains his speculation. A great difficulty impeding the solution of these abstruse problems exists in the rarity of the cases, and the still greater rarity of competent observers; a large number both of the one and the other being requisite, ere any satisfactory results can be obtained.
Did the limits of a notice allow our doing so, we should extract largely from the volume before us. Logical arguments and pertinent illustrations alike tempt us to do so. Without being a religious book, its pages display a just subordination of science to the fundamental truths of religion, that is very gratifying in these days, when so much of the opposite spirit is abroad. It contrasts beautifully with the writings of some distinguished physiologists published in the early part of this century. Take the following as a specimen of what we refer to:
"I would guard such of my readers as are inexperienced in discussions of this kind against the impression that science suggests that the soul, the conscious principle within us, is susceptible of true actual division. If there be one characteristic which more than another distinguishes the conscious Ego from mere body, it is, I conceive, its absolute unity. Have we not the same assurance from pure consciousness that the me which thinks is not composed of parts, as we have from sense consciousness that matter is an aggregation of atoms?
"Distinctness in the organic instruments implies no corresponding divisibility in the conscious principle which they subserve. Mind is no congeries of faculties in the sense of separate entities. Mental faculties are states of consciousness, phases only of one undivided and indivisible mind. In all psychical phenomena, the whole mind acts. It is the whole mind which hears and sees. It is the same entire mind which receives ideas, and recalls them in memory; it is the one thinking entity that loves, fears, and hopes; it is still the same unity, the soul, that performs the highest intellectual operations, in abstracting, combining ideas, reasoning, and judging; and, finally, it is the immaterial spirit which takes cognizance of itself, which controls its own states, and which wills.
"There is nothing in psychological physiology which ought to suggest even the approaches of materialism. In the present sphere of existence the mind is manifested through organic intervention. A thousand circumstances prove the fact. Yet it is no more the case that the brain is the thinking principle, and the separate parts divisions of the soul, than that the music of the lyre inheres in the instrument, and that the melodies elicited from it by art are selfproduced by the particular strings."-Pages 64, 65.
This is pure spiritual philosophy, as well as clear, cogent reasoning, and is a fair sample of the matériel of the book. The latter part of the volume is devoted to the important practical subjects of the causes of insanity, predisposing and exciting, and the medical and moral treatment of the insane. Dr. Noble entertains the opinion that, when these disorders of the brain are correctly diagnosed, and judiciously encountered at the outset, they are as amenable to medical treatment as any "other maladies affecting structures that have an elevated rank in the organic scale;" care being taken to distinguish
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between the psychical and physical features of the case. He also guards practitioners against assuming that, when the functions of the brain are disturbed, the brain itself is necessarily the primary seat of lesion; still less that inflammation, needing all the terrible array of bleedings, blisterings, and mercurial salivations for its cure, is the active cause of the mischief.
This able manual is philosophical in tone, lucid in style, and Christian in spirit; whilst its practical portions evince a tender sympathy for the insane, which finds its reflex actions in the gentle moral treatment which it recommends. We hail its appearance, and heartily recommend it, both to the public and to the medical profession.
Pictures from the Battle Fields. By the Roving Englishman. London: Routledge. 1855.
THE title of this book is somewhat of a misnomer. But that is no peculiar or unpardonable fault; for, since your modern traveller is expected to make the contents of his book bear some relation to the truth, however distant, he has learned to concentrate his ancient and proverbial privilege upon the title-page; and no one is much shocked at an exaggeration by which nobody is deceived. There is even some touch of humour in the practice. If Johnson goes to Paris, he must embody his delightful experiences in an ultramarine octavo, splendidly emblazoned with the title of "Interviews with the Emperor," the said interviews consisting of one meeting with that personage at a levée, when he (rather inadvertently) took Johnson into his confidence, so far as to inform him of the state of the weather. Similar is the case of Tompkins, and his "Lounges unter den Linden, with Peeps at the Princesses of Prussia." author before us is hardly more vexatious in his promises. volume of "Pictures" consists of some 250 closely printed pages; but only about twenty of these relate strictly to the "Battle Fields,' including adventures met with in a "pop visit" to Balaklava and the heights before Sebastopol. The rest of the volume is made up of sketches, à la Theophrastus, of the French, Turkish, and Russian soldiers, some short chapters of travelling in Wallachia, and a great deal of satire directed against the present system of embassies, but pointed more particularly at those of Constantinople and Vienna. The occupants of these latter posts are honoured with an almost personal antipathy. We must be allowed to express our regret that so extensive a traveller, and so accomplished a describer, as the "Roving Englishman," should have swept his stray scraps of paper together, and served them up in so slovenly a manner. At the same time we feel peculiarly edified with his opinions on the war, especially those with which the volume commences. His sage remarks leave the impression upon one's mind, that he is a disappointed attaché,— as, indeed, many slight tokens, in various parts of the book, go to show. He thinks (and who shall gainsay him? taking, according to rule, omne ignotum pro magnifico) that he could have set every thing Turkish to rights in half a day. But, with "Stubble" at Constantinople, and "Fiddle-de-dee" at Vienna, all went wrong; and we poor Britons are all in the wrong to this day. The Turks are a sad set