Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

The sweet old smile, that ever seemed to grow | Thought is a good thing, and I appeal to
Half sadly — 'twas so tender — from the depths common experience to declare if an excess
Of her dear eyes, so brought back the old time of a good thing is Nature's rule ? On the
And all that had been, that I kept away,
Lest all the love-springs lying in my heart

contrary, it is so decidedly her exception

that a proverb, of that defiant tone which Should, welling up, o'erwhelm it once again.

is usual in proverbs which apply to excepShe was my first, my last, my only love.

tions, has been made on purpose to include She sleeps now in her grave; and when at the accident when it does happen to happen. night

Yet there is such a prejudice against the I see the moonbeams gliding on my bed,

Serves that even the Muscles have been And hear the night-wind sighing in the yew, preferred to them, and that, too, in a conI think, so glide the beams, so sighs the wind nection the most unlikely. Above her tomb in that green quiet spot No human being has yet pretended to Where I shall lie beside her when, in peace, think with his Muscles, or feel with his God shall release me from this mortal coil I neither love nor hate, but bear content

muscles. Who ever heard of the aspiration While 'tis His pleasure. May His will be of a biceps ? And yet we have been told done!

of Muscular Christians, never of Nervous MARGUERITE A. Power. Christians. It is true the phrase Muscular

Christianity has been repudiated by Mr. Kingsley, and very properly; but not, as I conceive, on sufficiently broad grounds. A

Christian must, like other people, have mus

From the Argosy. cles, macerate him as you will; nor is it AN APOLOGY FOR THE NERVES. easy to conceive him without bones. But I

appeal to physiologists whether the Sympa CONSIDERED as white threads, efferent or thetic Nervous System is not reckoned a afferent, belonging either to the cerebro- great channel of emotion ? (this is another spinal or sympathetic system, the Nerves felicitous and illuminating exception, adrequire, so far as I am aware, no apology. mitted because a solitary exception is alAn apology for the Glands, or the Tendons, ways held in suspicion). The philosophic or the Medulla Oblongata would be just as physiologist is welcome to suggest that the much to the purpose. We know that be- real final synthesis of nature deteats all such tween Dogmatism and Final Causes men distinctions –

- we can some of us see where fall to the ground; and that Paley has, in that drives him to — but, in the meantime, his Natural Theology, felt it polite to offer a nervous Christian is a far more natural something like an apology for cork-trees, combination than a muscular one. for which he could find no ginger-beer The truth, however, is, that the Nerves bottles. But if the reader expects any of are the objects of systematic enmity and dethe crudities of physiology in this paper he preciation among mankind at large. Fat, will be disappointed : pretty certainly he however it may excite complaint in the fat does not expect any, but he must be a very person, is not, I believe, an object of enmity, small reader if his experience has not taught except in an omnibus or in some position him that he must constantly submit to be where it occupies an unusual portion of the informed of unnecessary things. It is part planetary space. Prophetic denunciations of the established economy of the essay to against such as be fat in Zion are on record; exclude, with flourishes of phrase, what no none against such as be nervous. Yet the human being would ever suppose was going fat man is tolerated, loved, at worst laughed to be taken in.

at : while the nervous man is not only The Nerves, then, for our present pur- laughed at, he is disliked. But is it Fat pose, are “ as one should say,” the Nerves ! that has been the chief benefactor of the If as scientific men assure us, there is, with human race ? Was it a fat man that inout Nerve, no Thought (this deviation from vented printing ? Was it a fat man that the rule just laid down is more apparent discovered the circulation of the blood ? than real, and if it were real, is only the fe- Was George Stephenson fat? Were the licitous exception wbich illuminates the martyrs fat men? Heliogabalus was, but rule), we can hardly have too much of the was Antoninus ? Julius Cæsar, though for Nerves, unless we of Thought can have too his own selfish ends he preferred fat men much. Perhaps it may maliciously be said about his person, was he fat himself? Was that we can, and that something depends Hampden a fat man ? Was Milton ? Was upon the quality. No doubt; but we can Cromwell ? Was William III.? No; it also have too little. Taken absolutely, was George IV. who was the fat man: and

he built the fat pavilion at? Brighton. Thus, the nervous suffer in popular estiCharles James Fox was fat; but he gam- mation because they are confounded with bled. Falstaff was fat; but he was not a the dyspeptic, and, it may be added, with respectable character. Hamlet, again, was the hysterical. There is a complaint, or fat; but he believed in ghosts and was a manifestation, or something, which in the very undecided young man. The fattest days of Pamela and Joseph Andrews was man of modern times is a distinguished un- known as the megrims, or the doldrums, or dertaker he may make good coffins, but the vapours; it was a fine madam's common I am not a judge of coffins. On the other excuse for not being seen, or for neglecting hand, is Mr. Tennyson fat? Is Mr. John a duty, and it was supposed to be cured by Stuart Mill fat? Is Mr. Browning fat ?" Hungary water,” for which the modern Is Mr. Gladstone fat? No; the nation succedaneum is red lavender. I found all would not trust its income with a fat man; the symptoms of the “mezrims” described it knows better. The only fat financier 1 in Dr. Trotter's book as symptoms of the ever heard of was Mr. Hudson the railway nervous temperament. In the name of all king. Thus, it is with nervous men that we the nervous I indignantly repel the slantrust our money, and it is from nervous der; that is just the way of the world — it men that we expect all that makes money never will discriminate. Let hysterics worth having. Or if this statement should speak for themselves, we, the real honest be too wide, let it be met by contradiction "nervous ” ladies and gentlemen, do not

- there are plenty of contradictory people have a difficulty in swallowing," and, most in the world — and the other side have too distinctly, do not have " St. Vitus's dance,” long had it all their own way — have too which is described by the infamous Trotter long been permitted to treat the Nervous as part of the ordinary diagnosis of our temas not only miserable in themselves but the perament! I speak both in sorrow and in causes of misery in others.

anger, but without surprise; for have not Part of this results from sheer error in many of us, comrades ia nervousness, been classification. It was with extreme indigna- asked, “What makes you so nervous? You tion that I once read “ Dr. · Trotter (of should take tonics !” when we were no more Bath) on the Nervous Temperament

” in that sense than the jubilant book lent to me by a friend, who supposed shrimp at sunset, or the lark in the happy me to be, as a nervous man, both wretched agitation of his matin song, and a cause of wretchedness. In Dr. Trot- The truth is, the vulyar phlegmatic do ter I found an elaborate discussion of — In- not love to see others lively and brisk. A digestion! His idea of a nervous person creature with only a few sides - say two, was, I found, a person who had the wind ;' an inside and an outside — is naturally who had a poor appetite; who had ignomin- jealous of another with a hundred facets, ious symptoms not to be particularized; or is at least puzzled by it. So, a croco who suffered from borborrigmi.And his dile, which takes fifteen minutes to turn prescriptions were such beggarly elements round, might fancy a kitten chasing its own as calcined magnesia: gentian: exercise: tail mad or diseased. True, as

we all occupation ; and “ the warm gums.” I re- know, or as the attendants at many places turned the book with disgust, assuring my of public entertainment will tell us if we friend that, however nervous I might be, ask, the phlegmatic vulgar are particularly I never had the wind;” knew nothing of fond of watching machinery in motion, anyborborrigmi ;” ate like a trooper; walked thing that “goes of itselt'" is a passion with ten miles a day; and had ample “occupa- them. But then there is here no room for tion.” To this hour I find people who “ un- comparison or jealousy. The phlegmatic derstand” — ah, how people do “under- man knows that he might stop a steamstand” things ! — that I am nervous,” sup- bobbin ; that, in any case, he can do things pose that what they call “

is a the bobbin cannot do, and that somebody sort of disease. They recommend rhubarb, could make another bobbin. But he canor peppermint drops, or more exercise, or not repress the disturbing mobility of the pale ale. The fact is they do not under- nervous man ; he may impute borborrigmi, stand vivacity of sensation. They think it and recommend potass or cardamoms, or is a complaint, they localize it in the regions even " the warm gums; ” but he could not under or below the waistband; and pre- have given Elizabeth Barrett Browning in scribe to the “ nervous ” just as a penguin charge for reminding him of a fire-fly, or or a porpoise might prescribe to a darting stopped Douglas Jerrold like a steam-bobswallow or a leaping salmon.

bin. Thank heavens, we have yet our Mag.

a

[ocr errors]

nervous

nervousness

a

a

and the creeping clouds, the hang of a curl, i nervousness with the megrims, or the dolthe delay of a minute, the suspicion that drums, or any other complaint. Do not some one is in pain, a knock at the door, confound it with cowardice or ill-temper. a cat on the tiles, a mere film or phantasm And, when you come into practical relaof a smile or a frown, can make him uncom- tions with iť in daily life, put it upon its fortable ? — Ah, says Nerves, you know all defence as seldom as you can.

Ii never that, do you?

But you do not know forgets — and if it is a decent sort of nerenough. "This hyperapprehensiveness of vousness it will reward you some day for mine is far greater than you fancy. You not driving it into anything more than would shrink into nothing, collapse, zusam- general and remote apologies like the presmenfabren if you knew it all. You think I ent.

MATTHEW BROWNE. am irritable sometimes? In the scientific sense always, but in the base sense not so olten

From the Argosy. What's done you partly may compute, THE NATURAL HISTORY OF SCOTCHMEN. But never what's resisted ;

ARE all Scotchmen alike? Is it enough to and if I were to let you see how much I say of a man that he is a Scotchman to condiscern of cause for irritation, you would vey a full and accurate idea respecting discern how much I forbear. But life him? On the contrary there is perhaps a would be impossible to us both if I were to greater diversity of character in Scotland make disclosures. My friend, I not only than in any other country. Let a classificaknow that I am surrounded by Things and tion of Scotchmen be, with equal fairness, Persons as you do; I have in addition an brevity, and modesty, attempted by one incessant sixth sense of Things and Per- who thinks that though national peculiarisons, of what is past, present, and to come. ties cannot be artificially maintained, yet You live in the world, No-Nerves. I live that their decay is ever to be lamented, in the world, and in a refracting atmos- and that cosmopolitanism is infinitely detestphere of the world as well. Which is the able. better man of the two? I don't know. The Canny Scot is so well known as Which is the happier ? I don't care. scarcely to require description. He carries

For this style of answer may be quoted caution, cunning, and selfishness to excess. at least the authority of Confucius. Some Deceitful when a purpose is to be accomone asked him how many stars there were plished, he is not habitually deceitful. One in the sky? “I don't know,” said he, “I thing he never loses sight of — his own inmind things near me.” The questioner re- terest. But of his own interest he is not sumed, " Then how many hairs are there the most enlightened judge. His sycophanin the cat's back?" "I don't care,” said cy disgusts, and he forgets that a cowardly the philosopher. This is the quip-heroic – reserve may war with a comprehensive pru

. omitted by Touchstone in his well-known dence. As a general rule, address accomenumeration. But, to deal more civilly plishes more than tact, tact more than talwith the matter. An elderly lady once ent, talent more than genius. It is to adasked how I thought a person would feel dress, to adroitness, to astuteness, that the who was sure of going to heaven. In a Canny Scot trusts. For the most part the long and very eloquent speech, I told her Canny Scot is a native of the north-eastern my views. To my surprise, she was not part of Scotland. The weakness of the comforted; on the contrary, she began to Canny Scot is, that he is glad — not from ery, saying, “Ah, then, I shall never go hypocrisy, but from vanity — to get credit to heaven, for I never felt a bit like that!" for virtues that he does not possess. So far But in five minutes I had convinced her from being the normal Scotchman, the Canthat she did feel like that. I simply altered ny Scot is nowhere so warmly hated as in the phraseology of my description, and she Scotland itself. cognized the picture at once — she had It would be more easy to demonstrate ---st what I described. The moral is that the Uncanny Scot is the normal Scotch

Let no person who happens to man. The Uncanny Scot has many noble thing here written of the joys of qualities:-- he is romantic, chivalrous, gen.ess go a-crying and say, “ I never erous ; an idealist, but will I reckless. that " - - a little explanation might From vice he is altoget!

most rights. Very likely you have been every step that he ta

alrose all your life without knowing most every word that I say is, do not let us have any cretion; and he is n. the Nerves. Do not confound for his indiscretions ar

a

nervous man.

even

path, he called it the triumph of mind over see“ blues and reds” which others do not matter. Such is the triumph of the nervous see; that the difference between moderate element over the phlegmatic element in nerve and much nerve is the difference human affairs. And, if it sometimes gets between the apprehensiveness of a babe the worst of it, what then? “You young and the apprehensiveness of a grown perrascal,” said the old gentleman to the rash son is as certain as that twice three are six. little boy in the street, if that cab had In reality the old schoolboy story of “ Eyes run over you where would you have been and No-Eyes" ought to be called Nerves then ? ” and the boy answered,“ Up behind, and No-Nerves; although an image bora-takin' of his number !” Just so; when rowed from the sense of sight may help us vulgar brute force runs over Nerve, where to apprehend the difference between an is Nerve immediately? Why, “ Up behind, organization like that of the stout tradesa-takin' of his number !” It is a glorious man next door, and De Quincey or Hartley mission.

Coleridge. I have often wondered how All men despise, or think they despise, short-sighted men are affected by female or pretend to despise, cowards. And beauty. How do they feel in a ball-room this is another misrepresentation — with for instance ? Necessarily short sight must cowards the nervous are perpetually con- miss seeing loveliness at the farther end of founded. Now let us waive all distinctions the room; while ordinary sight might have — which, indeed, can never be made final the whole current of his life changed by it.

- between moral and physical courage, How ridiculous, one might here say, is our and it will certainly not be found that the moral criticism of each other, unless we rebravest men are the least nervous. The gard it as give-and-take, tit-for-tat — not greatest of the Napiers was an exquisitely that my wrongness is lessened by your

The late Rev. F. W. Rob- wrongness, you know, or that moral disertson of Brighton may be said to have died tinctions are obliterated, but that in what of a fine nervous system – but he had all may be called the courtesies of ethics, the the instincts and characteristics of a soldier, mote must remember the beam. and sacrificed himself to his father's wish in I do not at all know whether human conentering the church instead of the army. ditions are equally balanced, nor The list of illustrative instances might be whether they are pretty equally" balanced much extended ; but it is unnecessary. or not. It is often asserted, but nobody Without pushing beyond the truth, and knows anything about it. But in mere looking candidly round the whole subject, quantity of sensation, the nervous people we must all of us sce that it is absurd to would probably claim to have the best of suppose the highest forms of any fine quality it. What, in the pleasures of sense ? Yes, exhibited by the lower organizations. The certainly, says our nervous friend, a fig for very essence of being “ nervous” is appre- your pleasures of sense! What is “ sense ?" hensiveness, or being quick to apprehend Do you mean to tell me that the man who things. This may minister to fearfulness, could " die of a rose in aromatic pain” does but it is not fear. The hawk is not afraid not get more delight out of “sense” than a of his prey because he sees it afar off, nor horn-handed clown? more even at given the savage of his enemy because he hears hours, to say nothing of memory and hope; the tramp of his advance miles away in the the echo, the refraction, the resonance, the desert. But a nervous writer, using sim- reduplications of joy? iles like these on a simple subject, in a playful vein, is afraid of making the subject

Let spirit star the dome absurd, and stops short !

of flesh, that tiesh may miss no peak ! It may be taken for granted by phlegmatic people that the apprehensiveness of Do you mean to tell me that if Nerves sees the high nervous temperament is far great- the sun before he rises and after he sets, as er than it appears, or than it can be intel- well as all the time he is above the horizon, ligibly represented to be. We all know he does not get more pleasure out of the the famous Turner anecdote. " Mr. Tur- sun ? Yes, says No-Nerves, I do mean to ner, I never saw blues and rels like yours say that; he has discounted his pleasure, in the sky!"

No, ma'am; but don't you and his memory is regret. And, ah, how I wish you could ?". Now, in reality, no hu- can plague him! I can bang doors, and man being need wish to change places with stump about over his head till he maddens ! another — it may be my mistake, but I do I can spoil all his pleasures by slipping in not believe any human being ever does, or little sly drops one drop to a cup is did, or will wish to relinquish his identity: lenough! — of poison that others would not no, not on the rack. But that the “ nerves” | taste. And I know that the shifting winds,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and the creeping clouds, the hang of a curl, nervousness with the megrims, or the dolthe delay of a minute, the suspicion that drums, or any other complaint. Do not some one is in pain, a knock at the door, confound it with cowardice or ill-temper. a cat on the tiles, a mere film or phantasm And, when you come into practical relaof a smile or a frown, can make him uncom- tions with it in daily life, put it upon its fortable ? — Ah, says Nerves, you know all defence as seldom as you can. It never that, do you?

But

you do not know forgets — and if it is a decent sort of nerenough. This hyperapprehensiveness of vousness it will reward you some day for mine is far greater than you fancy. You not driving it into anything more than would shrink into nothing, collapse, zusam- general and remote apologies like the presmenfabren if you knew it all. You think I ent.

MATTHEW BROWNE. am irritable sometimes? In the scientific sense always, but in the base sense not so olten

From the Argosy. What's done you partly may compute, THE NATURAL HISTORY OF SCOTCHMEN. But never what's resisted ;

Are all Scotchmen alike? Is it enough to and if I were to let you see how much I say of a man that he is a Scotchman to condiscern of cause for irritation, you would / vey a full and accurate idea respecting discern how much I forbear. But life him? On the contrary there is perhaps a would be impossible to us both if I were to greater diversity of character in Scotland make disclosures. My friend, I not only than in any other country. Let a classificaknow that I am surrounded by Things and tion of Scotchmen be, with equal fairness, Persons as you do; I have in addition an brevity, and modesty, attempted by one incessant sixth sense of Things and Per- who thinks that though national peculiarisons, of what is past, present, and to come. ties cannot be artificially maintained, yet You live in the world, No-Nerves. I live that their decay is ever to be lamented, in the world, and in a refracting, atmos- and that cosmopolitanism is infinitely detestphere of the world as well. Which is the able. better man of the two ? I don't know. The Canny Scot is so well known as Which is the happier ? I don't care. scarcely to require description. He carries

For this style of answer may be quoted caution, cunning, and selfishness to excess. at least the authority of Confucius. Some Deceitful when a purpose is to be accomone asked him how many stars there were piished, he is not habitually deceitful. One in the sky? “I don't know,” said he, “ I thing he never loses sight of — his own inmind things near me.” The questioner re- terest. But of his own interest he is not sumed, “ Then how many hairs are there the most enlightened judge. His sycophanin the cat's back?” “I don't care,” said cy disgusts, and he forgets that a cowardly the philosopher. This is the quip-heroic – reserve may war with a comprehensive pruomitted by Touchstone in his well-known dence. As a general rule, address accomenumeration. But, to deal more civilly plishes more than tact, tact more than talwith the matter. An elderly lady once ent, talent more than genius. It is to adasked how I thought a person would feel dress, to adroitness, to astuteness, that the who was sure of going to heaven. In a Canny Scot trusts. For the most part the long and very eloquent speech, I told her Canny Scot is a native of the north-eastern my views. To my surprise, she was not part of Scotland. The weakness of the comforted; on the contrary, she began to Canny Scot is, that he is glad — not from cry, saying, “Ah, then, I shall never go hypocrisy, but from vanity — to get credit to heaven, for I never felt a bit like that!' for virtues that he does not possess. So far But in five minutes I had convinced her from being the normal Scotchman, the Canthat she did feel like that. I simply altered ny Scot is nowhere so warmly hated as in the phraseology of my description, and she Scotland itself. recognized the picture at once - - she had It would be more easy to demonstrate felt just what I described. The moral is that the Uncanny Scot is the normal Scotchobvious. Let no person who happens to man. The Uncanny Scot has many noble read anything here written of the joys of qualities:-he is romantic, chivalrous, gennervousness go a-crying and say, " Í never erous; an idealist, but wild and reckless. felt like that!”. a little explanation might From vice he is altogether free, but almost set all to rights. Very likely you have been every step that he takes is a folly, and altalking prose all your life without knowing most every word that he utters is an indisit. All I say is, do not let us have any cretion ; and he is more terribly pu abuse of the Nerves. Do not confound | for his indiscretions and his follies than oth

]

« VorigeDoorgaan »