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upon the strict principles of necessity, which are the principles of materialism, and these latter we are concerned to say are the avowed principles of the work before us, pity is the sole sentiment that should be called into exercise upon such occasions. The advocate of these tenets is admonished to reflect most seriously, whether they do not involve the possibility of his being the advocate of assassination, and the apologist of suicide.
It must be allowed that cases sometimes occur, wherein propensities are displayed to acts of criminality, which seem to impel the mind with irresistible force, even while consciousness remains unimpaired, and the degree of guilt about to be incurred, is accurately judged of. But these instances we believe to be comparatively few; and here the question comes to be tried, of the precise signification which ought to attach to the term irresistible. The assassin already alluded to, argued the irresis. tibility of his criminal impulsions; and it may, with this laxity of interpretation, be said of every suicide, that he was irresistibly impelled.
The fact is, that these alleged cases of unconquerable impulse, how different soever in degree, are similar in kind, to what take place in the common and familiar occurrences of life. as well say that it is impossible for the voluptuary to forego his, vicious and unchristian habits, for the glutton to lay aside bis gross and unmanly enjoyments, or for the gamester to abjure his dice, as talk of the irresistibility of propensities of a still more censurable and alarming nature. If we consult, on these occasions, the oracles of conscience, and regulate our decisions by her dictates, it will be found that she talks a language very foreign from physical necessity, and uncontrollable impulse. And with respect to prevention, which is the business of the section under notice, what are the means which afford most promise of success in accomplishing this object? Suppose the project of the assassin or the suicide, (and these examples we bring forward and dwell upon, because Mr. Hill has done the same,) suppose, we say, the projects of these in either instance were imparted to a friend, would that friend set about the prevention of the purposed deed, by physical agents, force being excluded-or would he not rather endeavour to dissuade by arguments drawn from a religious, moral, or political source, according to the requisites of the case? For our own parts, in the event of these last having been put into employment and failed, we should have very little confidence in the superior efficacy of vomits, camphor, digitalis, or belladona.
Had we time or space to pursue the investigation, we might enlarge here on the interesting subject of those preventive means, which should be exercised against the establishment of
such states as border on insanity, and which, under an improper management, often menace actual Junacy; but this, as we have already hinted, is not the place to pursue this research. We must not, however, dismiss this subject without repeating our admission that the nervous system is sometimes brought into such a state of morbid being, as to exhibit propensities beyond the power of resistance, even where we might hesitate in predịcating the actual presence of insanity.
A melancholy case of the kind just now occurs to our recolJection, of a very recent date indeed,; viz. that of a tender mother, and affectionate wife, expressing a wish to murder her husband and children. Now, our views respecting the actual essentials of insanity might be objected to, from the consideration of such instances as these. But upon minutely examining circumstances of this nature, it would be ascertained, that something like a belief existed of the necessity of the acts in question, very different from either the impassioned, or the cool perpetration of the deeds before alluded to:-a belief which, when so confirmed by repetition, as to become parcel of the mind,' would come to constitute genuine lunacy. In like manner, when an individual commits suicide upon a supposition--a belief-that he is executing the commission of a superior power, or that, as in a case which Mr. Hill relates, by applying the instrument to his throat, he is about to dislodge infernal spirits who have made good their lodgement within him, he performs an act of unconsciousness, and insanity-and is therefore justly freed from the imputation of crime.
We shall make no apology for having extended our criticisms on this head to some length, as our aim in having done so, will be obvious to the reader. The subject is unquestionably of prime import to the interests of the community, and we verily believe that a criminal and injurious laxity has obtained both, as it respects private and judicial decisions on cases of self-destruction. Criminal-inasmuch as conscience, and not respect for private feeling, ought to be the only guide in determining upon questions of this nature; and injurious—because we are convinced, that were the intentions of legislative enactment to be abided by, and acted up to in these very important investigations, the number of cases for investigation would be considerably diminished. Motives of shame, and apprehensions of infamy, would often deter, when higher motives had lost their influence.
But we must check our disposition to transgress our limits in pursuance of this view of the subject, and proceed to a more pleasing part of our duty as critics, viz. that of cominendation; for in the two sections of the work, which treat more especially of the medical management of the insane, we find a great deal to approve and recommend. The practice of giving
tepeated emetics, is spoken of in terms of high approbation ; and they are recommended to be given in some cases every third-morning for many weeks together, until finally the stomach has so far recovered its healthy tone, as to manifest a more ready disposition to action, from one half or one third of the accustomed quantity of the medicine, than it formerly did from the largest doses.' 'Mr. H. thinks one of the best forinula for emetics, is that of Marryatt, which is composed of equal parts of tartarized antimony, and sulphate of copper. He deprecates the plan of giving much drink to facilitate the action of the vomit, and indeed states it as his opinion, that every kind of drink should be rigidly denied. Cold applications to the head, camphor, and fox-glove, are deservedly favourite remedies of our Author. There is some very good speculations on the modus-operandi of the digitalis in maniacal cases; but we feel our inability to give any thing like a satisfactory analysis of this portion of the treatise, and must refer our readers for information to the work itself.
A rather curious speculation is introduced here, respecting the possibility of madness being communicated in the way of infection,-an opinion to which Mr. Hill inclines; but we are rather disposed to suspect that it has been forced upon him by his matcrializing notions, and his anti-madhouse mania. These seetions close with a very important bint in regard to the great delicacy required in the management of insane convalescents.
* An old injurious train of thought cannot be too entirely dissevered, in order that the new and salutary one may be admitted, which once effected it must be duly cherished, and not rudely disturbed by ignorant inattention. Former intimacies are not to be renewed with recovering lunatics, by asking them a number of ridiculous questions, and probably two or three at a time before. one is answered, anticipating, or directing the sufferer's reply, thus confounding his yet feeble powers, whilst they sagaciously (as they mistakingly believe) observe in an under-tone of voice, or a stagewhisper, to some by stander, “ I did it to see what he would say,” as an ignorant, but well meaning father once did, on being permitted too early an interview with a convalescent daughter, shewing her a bank note, be desired her to try if she could read it, and readily complying, he expressed his astonishment that she could read. “Why father,” said she, “what has been the matter with me that you thought I could not read?” This scene proved highly injurious to my patient, as there can be no doubt similar conduct has to numbers.'
374. The book closes with an interesting chapter on the subject of pretended insanity, from which we should be tempted to make large extracts, had we not already exceeded our bounds. The principal means, Mr. Hill informs us, for the detection of pretenders to madness, are, a consideration of their probable motives for coun
terieiting the state ;-a strict examination of their conduct when they suppose themselves to be alone and not overlooked, contrasted with their conduct when they are conscious of being observed ; -the existence of that peculiar fætor in the exhalations, which almost invariably accompanies the true mat:iacal state ;--and the manner in which the subject is affected by the administration of drastic drugs.
· But indeed," he observes, the affectation of madness always exhibits such “inconsistent combinations of character, as rarely to pass current on the clear unbiassed judgment of mankind:" in general, persons actually insane, wish not only to be esteemed most free from the malady, but to be considered as possessing considerable intellectual endowments; hence real lunatics never allow the existence of their lunacy, but are always endeavouring to conceal from observation those lapses of thought, memory, and expression, which are tending every moment to betray them, and of the presence of which, they are much oftener conscious, than is generally apprehended or believed. Alexander Cruden, when suffering under his second and last attack of mental aberration, upon being asked whether he ever was mad, replied “ I am as mad now, as I was formerly, and as mad then as I am now, that is to say, not mad at any time.' p. 392.
We have now brought to a conclusion our remarks on the subject of Mr. Hill's treatise, having extended our observations rather beyond the usual length of critiques on works merely medical; parily on account of the almost universal interest with which the subject of insanity is pregnant, and partly on account of our having found in the Essay, a more than ordinary combination of censurable, and of praise-worthy matter. It now only remains for us to say a few words on the style and composition of the treatise before us. The force and strength of the Author's manner have already been commended, and we wish it were in our power to speak as favourably concerning the purity and elegance of his style. But in these respects, there is, to say the least, a very faulty slovenliness. Involved, obscure sentences, relatives without antecedents, parenthesis after parenthesis, epithets actually crowding each other, adjectives used adverbially, shamefully inaccurate punctuation, and words that are any thing but English, may be inentioned among the faults of Mr. Hill's book. These, however, are minor blemishes, and remediable in another edition. And notwithstanding the much more important charges, which our duty has obliged us to bring against the sentiments in favour of materiality which it advances, we trust we have said sufficient to recommend an attentive, though guarded perusal of the treatise, particularly to the medical student; and we conclude by stating it to be our
opinion, that a medical library would certainly be incomplete, that should not number in its catalogue, Mr. Hill's Essay on the Prevention and Cure of Insanity.
Art. IV. Sermons, chiefly on Particular Occasions. By Archibald
Alison, LL.B. Prebendary of Sarum, Rector of Rodington, Vicar of High Ercal, and Senior Minister of the Episcopal Chapel, Cowgate, Edinburgh.-8vo. pp. 466, price 12s.-Longman, and
Co. 1814. WE cannot sympathize in the feeling avowed by the Author
of these Sermons, that they have no recommendations'. to the world in general. The distinguished reputation which Mr. Alison enjoys, ab a fine writer and an ingenious philosopher, will operate in drawing attention to whatever he may publish; and the present volume is calculated to be peculiarly acceptable to persons of cultivated taste.
The congregation to which these Discourses were originally addressed, was composed almost entirely, as we are informed in the Preface, of persons in the higher ranks, or in the more respectable conditions of society; including a number of young men engaged in a course of academical instruction preparatory to their entering into the liberal professions. Though such a multitude of sermons of almost every character, have appeared in our language, few have been specifically accommodated to the Aristocracy. Our great preachers, indeed, our Barrows, our Souths, our Seckers, and our Horsleys, discoursed to princes and nobles; but, as if powers of thought and habits of reflection were connected with elevation of rank, they seemed to imagine that it became them to discourse in a style suited only to scholars and philosophers. Their compositions are accordingly distinguished by profound and comprehensive views, elaborate reasoning, and learned illustrations, not adapted to the taste or comprehension of their august audience; the noble personages whom they addressed, possessing but little knowledge of religion, and being unaccustomed to abstruse and refined speculations. Hence they have served little other purpose than that of solving the perplexities, and awakening the admiration, of the solitary student. Mr. Alison has adopted a plan much more likely to ensure success. He has chosen themes of a general and popular nature; has exhibited the results rather than the process of reasoning; and employed a diction very ornate and nicely modulated, for the purpose of conveying sentiments of the mildest benevolence, of enlightened patriotism, and of enthusiastic admiration, for all that is fair in nature, or noble and generous in the character of man. The