a connection - we discern the influence of a like psychological condition. In those political enthusiasts whose bloody deeds have brought upon them a load of infamy, - men of the type of Jacques Clément, Jean Châtel, Damiens, Felton, Wilkes Booth, — we cannot overlook the presence and the commanding influence of an abnormal element. Now, in all these classes, we shall find in the history of the individuals circumstances that amply corroborate the conclusions drawn from analogy. In their habits of abstraction and revery, in their persistent revolving of certain notions until they become fixed ideas, in their constant feeling of subjection to motives and influences more sacred and imperative than those that govern the conduct of ordinary mortals, in their lofty disregard of all considerations prompted by the softer sentiments, in the irresistible agency that forces them to work out their fancied mission, in their steadfast resolution even after all is lost, in the insensibility to pain with which they meet the extreme consequences of their acts, – traits which are all more or less manifested by them, — they show their affinity to the un

equivocally insane, who are only a step or two beyond them in the development of the morbid tendency.

The next step in this inquiry brings us to the gist of our author's doctrine. Indeed, the following statement of it constitutes the “argument” of the book : “ The mental dispositions which distinguish one man from another by the originality of his thoughts and conceptions, by the eccentricity or energy of his effective faculties, or the transcendency of his intellect, originate in the same organic conditions as those mental troubles of which madness and idiocy are the complete expression.” Much as we should like to discuss this question, our limits will oblige us barely to indicate the general course of the inquiry.

The organic condition signified by the manifestation of hereditary predisposition implies also a state of superexcitation, or increased vitality, in the nervous system. Thus affected, the organs necessarily act with a force unknown to their normal state, like an engine suddenly subjected to a higher pressure of steam. What then is the result of superactivity of the organ charged with the manifestation

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of the thinking faculty ? Evidently a greater flow of ideas, more rapid conception, a bolder dash of imagination, more originality of thought, greater variety of associations, increased vivacity of memory, superior energy, and a wider sway of the instincts and affections. In producing this superexcitation of the nervous functions, heredity acts like all the other agencies that modify the nervous power. If it passes certain limits, if it controls the moi, — the inward principle destined to unite and combine the action of the different intellectual powers, — then, instead of increasing the vigor and sweep of the mental faculties, it leads directly to insanity. The general principle involved in this statement is far from being new. From the earliest times, observers have noticed that diseases and other abnormal conditions of the brain are sometimes accompanied by extraordinary displays of intellectual power. The books abound with cases where blows and falls on the head, attacks of fever, the approach of cerebral lesions, the incubation of insanity, have produced a remarkable revival of memory, a quickness of perception, an exaltation of the imagination, quite foreign to the patient's usual condition. In insanity such things are of frequent occurrence. No one conversant with the disease can have failed to witness among its phenomena intellectual displays far beyond the normal range of the patient's powers. Many make verses who never did before ; some accomplish mechanical inventions for the first time in their lives; some, to whom writing was always distasteful, write treatises or essays; and some apply themselves to music or painting who never thought of such a thing before. The true signification of such facts cannot be mistaken. The same change in the cellular structure which has produced insanity has simultaneously enlarged the power and compass of the mental faculties. Indeed, the notion of an intimate connection between the highest forms of intellectual power and mental disorder has prevailed so extensively that we can scarcely resist the conviction of its being founded on fact.

“No great genius without a mixture of madness," says Aristotle. “The extreme mind is near to extreme madness," says Pascal. “Of what is the most subtle folly made, but of the greatest wisdom ?” asks Montaigne. “Genius bears within itself a prin



ciple of destruction, of death, of madness," says Lamartine. * Ten vibrations instead of five may transform an ordinary man into a prodigy," says Broussais.

“Great wits are sure to madness near allied," says Dryden.

A few of those favored mortals who have achieved illustrious names in litenture or art have given us a glimpse of the working of the wondrous mechanism by which the highest forms of thought are evolved, and from that we learn that the process is not entirely independent of physical movements. " When I apply myself with attention,” says Metastasio, “the nerves of my sensorium are put into a violent tumult; I grow as red as a drunkard, and am obliged to quit my work.” “ Contemplate pour subject long,” says Buffon ; " it will gradually unfold, till a sort of electric spark convulses for a moment the brain, and spreads down to the very heart a glow of irritation." Rousseau tells us that when the first idea of one of his works flashed upon his mind, he experienced a nervous movement that approached to a slight delirium. Descartes, amid those reveries of his youth which led to the grand achievements of his maturer years, heard a voice in the air that called him to pursue the truth. Sir Joshua Reynolds said that, when walking abroad after a morning's work at his art, the trees seemed to him like men walking. Paulus Jovius, describing one of the Italian improvisatori, says: “ His eyes, fixed downwards, kindle as he gives utterance to his effusions, the moist drops flow down his cheeks, the veins of his forehead swell, and wonderfully his learned ear, as it were abstracted and intent, moderates each impulse of his flowing numbers."

In connection with this class of facts, it is worthy of notice, because it' testifies to the same general truth, that precocious children die young of diseases that originate in the brain, and no sound pathologist mistakes the cause for the effect.

From all this the conclusion is fairly drawn, we think, that in that intellectual process by which thoughts of singular beauty and power come forth unbidden, as it were by an automatic impulse, there is unusual excitation of the nerve-cells of the brain. But this is not enough for M. Moreau. He believes, if we do not mistake his meaning, — which is not so clearly ex

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pressed as it might be, - that this peculiar organic condition, which readily passes into disease, is essential to the highest forms of intellectual effort. In this view of the matter no account is made of original endowment. Uninspired by this abnormal activity of the cells, the conceptions of a Shakespeare, a Newton, or a Cuvier would have scarcely been distinguished from those of ordinary mortals. Our author expressly declares that the old saying, mens sana in corpore sano, is wrong, and that, so long as the “normal state of the organism is generally in accordance with the regular action of the thinking faculty, we shall never, or only exceptionally, see the intelligence rising above an honorable mediocrity.” This, of course, is at variance with the doctrine now generally accepted, we believe, by physiologists, that the mental power and excellence displayed by any individual depends chiefly on the size of the brain, the proportion of its parts to one another, and the quality of its elementary materials. Even Moreau himself declares that “certain intrinsic qualities which are the very essence of organization" constitute the most important condition necessary to the highest grade of cerebral activity." This remarkable conclusion originates in what we deem to be an error in a matter of fact, - that of regarding the nervous superexcitation that leads to disease as identical with that which gives rise to the happiest working of the cerebral mechanism. The proof of such identity is wanting. Much that M. Moreau considers as proof merely indicates an accidental connection. In a collection of Biographical Facts, he has presented a fearful array of celebrated characters who had either been afflicted with some cerebral troubles, or who numbered among their progenitors or descendants one or more whom this misfortune had befallen. Such facts, however, only show that those most highly as well as those most humbly endowed with mental gifts are not exempted from the assaults of disease. Why should they be ? Nor do we see why we should abandon the old distinction between healthy and morbid excitement. The kind of nervous excitation which inspires the grand conceptions of the poet or artist is as different from that which is the prelude of disorder, as the ruddy glow of health in the cheek is from the hectic of consumption. It is a gratui


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tous supposition that the morbid element necessary to one is also present in the other, and yet this is the corner-stone of our author's theory of great genius. No doubt many distinguished men have been afflicted with some kind of cerebral ailment, but they are greatly outnumbered by those in whom no sign of mental disorder was ever witnessed. The objection is hardly evaded by saying that the organic condition which prepares the mind for its most brilliant triumphs becomes disease only when pushed beyond a certain point, because it is admitted by all that the morbid principle is a pre-existent necessity of insanity, and, consequently, by the terms of the argument, as quoted above, it must precede, not follow, the manifestation of genius.

We offer these few remarks rather to indicate our dissent from the author's views on this point, than as furnishing a reply worthy of their importance and of the ability with which they are maintained. Let it not be supposed that he fails to support them with reasons that cannot but instruct, though they may not convince. It would be difficult to find a work on the subject of insanity more strongly characterized by that scientific sagacity which catches the highest significance of facts, and by an intimate knowledge of the workings of the disordered mind.


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