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did a few minutes afterwards, and, seeing me approach, saloted me with “ Hail, stranger. By what name shall I call thee?” “ My name," I replied, “ is Hippocrates; I am a physician.” “ Thy fame," said he, “ has reached my ears ; but pray tell me, friend, what brought thee hither?”.*
After Hippocrates has answered this question, he learns from Democritus that the object of his study is to discover the seat of melancholy; and then with great acumen and vivacity the patient rails against the vices, follies, and inconsistencies of the human race. The ideas of Democritus are not incongruous in themselves, but inconsistent with surrounding circumstances. The delusion consists in taking the vices of mankind collectively, and applying the heap to each individual of the human race severally. These melancholy notions soon disturb the affections, dissolve the ties of kindred, and crush all interest in life. Where the temperament is naturally placid, the persons so affected may, during a lifetime, be regarded only as eccentric, like Democritus or Jaques; but if it be irritable, the ordinary and inevitable ills of life jar the troubled faculties into raving madness, or urge the miserable being to form the most consistent plans for suicide or for murder. The various modes of self-destruction attempted by Cowper, and the consistent reminiscence of his thoughts and feelings while so employed, as detailed by himself, will recur to every reader.
The character of Clara Mowbray offers another example of the retiring melancholy. Scott, like Shakspeare, never appears greater than in his delineations of mental aberration, scarcely a form of which he has not embodied in his works; he is equally minute, as his great prototype, in describing the temperament, and noting every circumstance, which can develope in the groundwork of his plot just that kind of insanity which a physician would say must have been originated on such a foundation. Of Clara Mowbray he tells us, that hers was a melancholy verging on madness. The circumstances which prepared the mind to be thus affected by the incidents of the fable are presented with masterly skill. The faulty education and undue bias given to the imagination—the effect of early loss of the only parent who can direct the young female mind—the contempt for society and the influence of such feelings on the intellect-the restless movement of the body, never formally told, but ever appearing before the reader —the abrupt half-connected wit, that happiness of reply that often madness hits on,' which, glancing and sparkling, threads, with the rapid motion of the eccentrie lightning, the incongruous subjects of a mixed conversation--alarming some, offending others, and leaving all in that subdued sort of astonishment excited by the view of conduct not explicable by obvious causes—all these things are indicated with a master's hand. The meeting of Clara and Tyrrel, however, at the Buckstone, is the scene in which the author's consummate knowledge of the workings of insanity is most strikingly displayed. The struggle between reason and madness—the alternate mastery of each—the difficulty of distinguishing between the reality of the impression from without, and the vivid image which deep passion and long and solitary contemplation had planted in Clara's perturbed phantasy, are characterised by touches worthy of Shakspeare.
* Probably Le Clerc is right in thinking that much which was traditional with regard to Hippocrates' visit to Democritus has been interpolated in the genuine letter.
Ophelia, again, and Madge Wildfire, though differing from each other in the train of disordered ideas and feelings, exhibit the same general features of insanity, which characterize the mania mitis of Crichton-the 'roving melancholy' of other systematic authors. This species of insanity is in some essentials the reverse of that just described. “These persons,' says Crichton,
hate solitude; they are busy and loquacious; their attention can rarely be fixed to external things for any length of time; and often, under the pressure of this form of malady, feelings and expressions are acquired little consonant with female decorum. The men are kings, emperors, and popes; the women ladies of distinction. The taste of his age permitted Shakspeare to be faithful to nature in every point of the above description. Madge Wildfire, which Mr. Coleridge has pronounced to be the most original of Scott's characters, is intended by the author to exemplify derangement of a mind constitutionally unsettled by giddiness and vanity. Let the reader turn to the tale, and observe with what art this hint has been worked outhow it is made to pervade the whole range of the poor maniac's feelings and actions, and how it peeps forth even in the very selection of scraps from John Bunyan with which the author has filled her head. As Madge is made to select from her slender stores of reading such passages as pourtray her vanity, so the industry of Shakspeare's commentators has shown us, that the disjointed sentences in which Ophelia indicates her "fond distractions,' are made up of snatches from the popular works of that day. It would have been easy to put arbitrary ravings into Ophelia's mouth, but then these would not have conveyed that feeling of intense reality which the groundling of the Globe derived from observing on the stage one day a minute transcript of what he might on the morrow see exemplified in a madhouse ; the inhabitants of which must have been influenced by the age in which they lived and the society in which they moved, and consequently disjoined in madness
the ideas which they had derived from these sources. The principle is so correct, that we forgive the author for the anachronism by which the Danish lady is made to rave in expressions chosen from the common authors of the Elizabethan age. Guided by the same principle, Shakspeare has taken the odd jumble of names uttered by Edgar when he feigns madness almost verbatim from Harsnet, whose work had been published very shortly before he wrote his play.
Jaques was an early delineation-Hamlet was drawn several years sooner than Lear-and we may trace the improving skill of the poet in the growing fulness and boldness of his touch. Well may •Lear' have been called a study even for the pathologist.
The author marks, in the very outset of the tragedy, the temperament on which he is about to engraft madness :
• Goneril. The best and soundest of his time has been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal the unruly way. wardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.'
. Ardent in his affections no less than in his temper-born to a position in which the wholesome uses of adversity are never learnt, and which converts even kindred into flatterers—it is not surprising that the reserve of his favourite child should have shocked his inmost spirit :
• Like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature . From the fixed place; drew from my heart all love,
And added to the gall.' After the terrible burst of passion under which Lear discards Cordelia and his faithful servant Kent, Shakspeare invents no pompous scene to exhibit the struggle within, but, by a touch of impatience, shows how ill the father has succeeded in tearing his child from his heart :
• Lear. Ha, sayest thou ?
Knight. Since my lady's going into France, Sir, the fool has much pined away.
Lear. No more of that, I have noted it well.'
From the moment in which he loses Cordelia to that of his death, Lear is a prey to the most vehement trials of passionate suffering. The faint suspicions of Goneril's neglect are speedily converted into certainty. The fond and generous father marks
• That the offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude,' are all forgotten; and then the paroxysm of passion overwhelms
him, finding vent in that terrible curse which Kemble groaned out with a concentration of agony which seemed to render his frame motionless-fixed in the posture of a mummy, as if the very dead poured forth the awful denunciations—a curse which, in its utterance, seemed to fell Kean to the earth, as, planted on both knees, with uplifted arms bared to the shoulder, naked boson, and streaming hair, presenting the picture of a desolate and withered tree, he called all nature to hear him...
The excess of passion has now unhinged the frame of Lear, and the currents of life no longer run equably; accordingly, the poet has made him more absorbed in his griefs. He pays little attention to the jibes and jests of his fool, and from time to time the thoughts of his injustice to Cordelia, and the ingratitude of Goneril, find unconscious utterance.
. •I did her wrong
I will forget my nature—so kind a father.' This internal conflict goes on in none without disturbing the circulation, creating fulness and oppression about the heart, which is relieved by sighs. This general derangement of the circulation creates, for the most part, indefinable sensations in the head, precursors of approaching madness. The sufferers, long before insanity breaks out, have presentiments of their fate. It is now that Lear exclaims,
• Oh, let me not be mad! not mad, sweet heaven!
Keep me in temper-I would not be mad.' Nor when the physical malady becomes more intense-after he finds his messenger has been put into the stocks by Regan the daughter left, who he was sure was kind'-does the poet fail to note the corporeal effects
• O how this mother swells up towards my heart!
Thy element's below The mind takes alarm, as it discovers itself more and more under the tyranny of corporeal sway. Shakspeare, therefore, no longer paints Lear as giving way to unrestrained passion, but, conscious of the increased hold of the malady, he makes him endeavour to be calm. The alternate play of passion and forced resignation is wrought up to the sublime. A burst of rage succeeds when Lear is informed that Regan and her husband send excuses for not receiving him ; but this he endeavours to subdue :• Lear. Oh me, my heart-my rising heart—but down, Regan. I am glad to see your highness. Lear. Regan, I think you are ; I know what reason I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad, I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, YOL, XLIX, NO. XCVII.
Sepulchring an adulteress. Beloved Regan,
In the midst of this scene Goneril enters, to taunt her father ; and the conflict between a mind saddened by griefs and a choleric temperament goaded into a phrensy of passion, hastens the catastrophe :
• Return with her ?
At your choice, sir. Lear. I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad; I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell: We'll no more meet-no more see one another.' The poet well knew; that such a conflict, made up of the highest éxcitement and the deepest depression, must end in death or insanity. The king; wlien he finds Regän aš ungrateful as her sister, feels it too. Those mysterious sensations which render the mind vaguely cognizant, we know not how; of some fearful alteration, alarm Lear; and lamentations, which he in vain endeavours to suppress, now suggest the idea of instant; impende ing madness; from the thought of which he flies with breathless horror. Driven to the heath, where all nature seems to him leagued against a head so old and white as this,' he perceives anew the approach of the enemy :- ..
My wits begin to turn ! But the morbid thoughts and feelings, which have already ab. sorbed all nature into their vortex, keep possession of his mind; and the old man, in the workings of the elements, sees nothing but the ingratitude of his pelican daughters' :-)
- Pour on; I will endure-
No more of that!' At this juncture, Shakspeare has made him conscious of that marked sign of overwhelming mental agitation insensibility to bodily privation and suffering. When Kent urges Lear to take shelter, he receives for answer
The tempest in my mind Doth from my senses take all feeling else, Save what beats here.-filial ingratitude !! Up to this point, the poet has depicted the effects of impas
. : . sioned