Mrs. Carlyle were chiefly in a country doubt, to err on the side of obsequiousbouse where so many eminent persons ness, and to lose their respect. But it is were accustomed to assemble that she far from easy to defy them, and yet to would naturally be more disposed to lis. conquer. How the conquest has been ten than to talk, and I knew more of her achieved by Carlyle is a perplexing probpolvers of conversation from what has lem. Is it that the man being beyond all been told me by others than from per- question a genuine man, there is neversonal experience. I had ample opportu- theless something unreal about his opinnities of appreciating Carlyle's own pow- ions; so that the splendid apparitions of ers in that kind; and as, in opposing my them are admired and applauded by the own to his estimate in the cases of Words- people, as they would admire a great worth and Coleridge, I have produced actor in the character of Coriolanus and contemporary notes of the impressions another in the character of Menenius made upon me, I am glad to be able to Agrippa, and still more an actor who do the like by Carlyle himself. They could play both parts in turn ? were put together in a work intended But then it may be asked how are we for posthumous publication and privately to reconcile the undoubted sincerity of printed three or four years ago; and I the man, with the questionable reality of have the more satisfaction in quoting the opinions? And it is the solution of them, as, owing to an accidental occur- this problem which, to my apprehension, rence, they came to Carlyle's knowledge. discloses the peculiar constitution of CarA common friend of his and mine hap-lyle's mind. pened to have the book in her hands He is impatient of the slow processes when he paid her a visit, and he asked if by which most thoughtful men arrive at a he might be allowed to see it. She natu- conclusion. His own mind is not logirally referred the question to me; and cal; and, whilst other eminent writers of though I had doubts as to the reception bis generation have had perhaps too it would meet with at his hands, I did not much reverence for logic, he has bad too like to find myself saying of him behind little. With infinite industry in searchhis back what I would not be prepared to ing out historical facts, his way of comsay to his face, and I gave my consent. ing by political doctrines is sudden and My doubts were soon dissipated, for in precipitate. What can be known by inreturning the book to our friend he told sight without conscious reasoning, or at her he had been greatly pleased, and that least without self-questioning operations “sometimes I had been much too flat- of the reason, he knows well, and can tering, though in describing his charac- fash upon us with words which are teristics I was sometimes quite out.”. The almost like the “word which Isaiah the passage is the last of a series of sketches son of Amos saw." But when he deals of eminent men with whom I had been with what is not so to be known, being acquainted, and with it I conclude what I intolerant of lawful courses, and yet not have to say of Carlyle and his “Reminis content with a negative, or passive, or

neutral position, he snatches his opinions,

and holds them as men commonly do ... have reserved to the last place hold wh they have snatched, tenacious. – why I know not, unless it be on the ly for the moment, but not securely. And principle that the last should be first and thence comes the sort of unreality of the first last - one with whom England, opinion which I have ventured to impute Scotland, and Germany have almost as to the most faithful and true-hearted of intimate and as friendly an acquaintance mankind. as I can claim for myself – Thomas Car- An unlimited freedom of speech is per. lyle: and yet the acquaintance I can mitted to his friends, and I remember claim is very intimate and most friendly, when some wild sentiments escaped him

His relations with the people are with long ago, telling him that he was an exout a precedent, as far as I am aware, in cellent man in all the relations of life, but these times or in any; the human para- that he did not know the difference bedox of the period. He is their chartered tween right and wrong. And if such libertine,” assailing them and tbeir rights, casualties of conversation were to be acinsisting that they should be everywhere cepted as an exposition of his moral mind, ruled witi a rod of iron, and yet more any one might suppose that these lumi. honored and admired by them than any nous shafts of his came out of the blackdemagogue who pays them knee-worship. ness of darkness. In courting the people it is easy, no Perhaps, too, he is a little dazzled by




[ocr errors]

the reflex of his wildfire, and feels for the such a man should have chosen as the moment that what is so bright must needs object of his idolatry, iste stultorum show forth what is true; not recognizing magister.

Long before his the fact that most truths are as dull as life of Cromwell came out, I heard him they are precious ; simply because in the insisting in conversation upon the fact course of ages they have worked their way that Cromwell bad been throughout liis to the exalted, but not interesting, position career invariably successful; and having of truisms.

with much satisfaction traced the long He was one of the most valued and line of his successes from the beginning cherished friends of Lady Ashburton; to the end, he added, “It is true they got and as he and I were both in the habit of him out of his grave at the Restoration paying her long visits in the country (at and stuck his head up over the gate at Bay House, Alverstoke, when she was Tyburn, - but not till he had quite done Lady Harriet Baring, at the Grange when with it.” her husband had succeeded his father), I He would scarcely have sympathized had opportunities of knowing him such with the sentiment to which the last breath as London cannot provide. And from of Brutus gave utterance, Bay House I find myself writing of him to Miss Fenwick thus (January 22, 1848):

I shall have glory by this losing day

More than Octavius and Mark Antony We have had Carlyle here all the time, – a

By their vile conquest shall attain untolonger time than I have hitherto seen him for. and the vile conqueror Frederick could His conversation is as bright as ever, and as striking in its imaginative effects. But his engage more of his admiration than most mind seems utterly incapable of coming to any honest men will be disposed to share. conclusion about anything: and if he says Perhaps, however, it was a waning admirasomething that seems for the moment direct, tion, less as he proceeded with his his. as well as forcible, in the way of an opinion, it tory than when he began it; and it should is hardly out of his mouth before he says some- not be forgotten that he ended by enthing else that breaks it in pieces. He cantitling it a life of Frederick “called” the see nothing but the chaos of his own mind re- Great. flected in the universe. Guidance, therefore, there is none to be got from him; nor any ment, on the other hand, are exercised in

His powers of invective and disparageillumination, save that of storm-lights. But I

a manifest suppose one cannot see anything so rich and conversation sometimes in strange as his inind is without gaining by it spirit of contradiction and generally with in some unconscious way, as well as finding an infusion of humor, giving them at one pleasure and pain in it. It is fruitful of both. time the character of a passage of arms in And I wrote in the same sense to Au that of a grotesque dance of mummers;

a tournament or sham fight, at another brey de Vere:

so that, forcible as they often are, they are As to the rest of the people we have had at not serious enough to give offence. Alverstoke, some of them were agreeable, but He delights in knocking over any pagnone interesting, except Carlyle, who from time eantry of another man's setting up. One to time threw his blue lights across the con- evening at the Grange a party of gentleversation. Strange and brilliant he was as men, returning from a walk in the dusk, ever, but more than ever adrift in his opinions; had seen a magnificent meteor, one which if opinions he could be said to have; for they filled a place in the newspapers for some darted about like the monsters of the solar microscope, perpetually devouring each other. days afterwards. They described what

they had bebeld in glowing colors and I did not mean to imply, of course, that with much enthusiasm. Carlyle, having he had not, what he has made known to heard them in silence to the end, gave bis all the world that he had in a superlative view of the phenomenon :degree, divers rooted predilections and "Ay, some sulphuretted hydrogen, I unchangeable aversions. Both are strong suppose, or some rubbish of that kind.” in him; whether equally strong, it is not In his invectives as well as in effusions easy to say. There have been eminent when it would be less unexpected, there men in all ages who have combined in would generally be something which met different measures and proportions the the eye. When he spoke of a thing, unattributes of idolater and iconoclast. der whatever feeling or impulse, he They are undoubtedly combined in Car- seemed to see it. He paid a visit to Lord lyle; the former perhaps predominating Ashburton at a shooting-box in Scotland, in his writings, the latter in his conversa. at a time when the cholera; was supposed tion. What was unaccountable was that to be approaching, and there was a retired


physician staying in the house to be ready friends in many countries, each of whom for any emergency. Carlyle was not well, has made himself or herself an indepenand was very gloomy, and shut himself up dent centre of inquiry; and the last, and in his room for some days, admitting no much the most numerous portion, consists one. At last Lady Ashburton was a little of brief replies by strangers to a series of disturbed at his ways, and begged Dr. questions contained in a circular that I Wilson just to go in to him and see drew up. I have gone over all this matter wbether there was anything seriously with great care, and have cross-tested it in amiss. The doctor went into his room, many ways whilst it was accumulating, just and presently came flying out again ; and as any conscientious statistician would, his account was that Carlyle had received before I began to form conclusions. I him with a volley of invectives against was soon convinced of its substantial himself and his whole profession, saying trustworthiness, and that conviction has that“ of all the sons of Adam they were in no way been shaken by subsequent the most eminently unprofitable, and that experience. In short, the evidence of a man might as well pour his sorrows into the four groups I have just mentioned is the long hairy ear of a jackass." As in quite as consistent as could have been most of his sallies of this kind, the ex- reasonably desired. travagance and the grotesqueness of the The lowest order of phenomena that attack sheathed the sharpness of it, and admit of being classed as visions, are the the little touch of the picturesque -- the number-forms” to which I have drawn “long hairy ear seemed to give it the attention on more than one occasion, but character of a vision rather than a vituper- to which I must again very briefly allude. ation. HENRY TAYLOR. They are an abiding mental peculiarity in

a certain proportion of persons (say five per cent.), who are unable as adults, and who have been ever unable as far back as

they can recollect, to think of any number From The Fortnightly Review.

without referring it to its own particular THE VISIONS OF SANE PERSONS.

habitat in their mental field of view. It In the course of some recent inquiries there lies latent but is instantly evoked into visual memory, I was greatly struck by the thought or mention of it, or by any by the frequency of the replies in which mental operation in which it is concerned. my informants described themselves as The thought of a series of consecutive subject to “visions." Those of whom I numbers is therefore attended by a vision speak were sane and healthy, but were of them arranged in a perfectly defined subject notwithstanding to visual presen- and constant position, and this I have tations, for which they could not often called a “number-forin.” Its origin can account, and which in a few cases reached rarely be referred to any nursery diagram, the level of hallucinations. This unex- to the clock-face, or to any incident of pected prevalence of a visionary tendency childhood. Nay, the form is frequently among persons who form a part of ordi, unlike anything the child could possibly nary society seems to me suggestive and have seen, reaching in long vistas and worthy of being put on record. In a pre- perspectives, and in curves of double vious article * I spoke of the faculty of curvature. I have even had to get wire summoning scenes at will, with more or models made by some of my informants less distinctness, before the visual mem- in explanation of what they wished to ory; in this I shall speak of the tendency convey. The only feature that all the among sane and healthy persons to sec forms have in common is their depenimages Aash unaccountably into exist dence in some way or other upon the

method of verbal counting, as shown by Many of my facts are derived from per. their angles and other divisions occurring sonal friends of whose accuracy I have no at such points as those where the teens doubt. Another group comes from cor- begin, at the twenties, thirties, and so on. respondents who have written at length The forms are in each case absolutely with much painstaking, and whose letters unchangeable except through a gradual appear to me to bear internal marks of development in complexity. Their diverscrupulous truthfulness. A third part sity is endless, and the number-forms of has been collected for me by many kind different men are mutually unintelligible.

These strange “visions,” which are ex. See a previous article on “Mental Imagery,” tremely vivid in some cases, are almost LIVING AGE, No. 1895.

incredible to the vast majority of man

[ocr errors]



kind, who would set them down as fan-|(p. 280). Since then many occasional tastic nonsense, but they are familiar notices of similar associations have apparts of the mental furniture of the rest, peared, but I was not aware that it had where they have grown naturally and been inquired into on a large scale by where they remain unmodified and un- any one but myself. However, I was modifiable by teaching. I have received gratified by meeting with a pamphlet a many touching accounts of their childish few weeks ago, just published in Leipsic experiences from persons who see the by two Swiss investigators, Messrs. Bleunuinber-forms, and the other curious vis- ler and Lehmann. Their collection of ions of which I shall speak. As is the cases is fully as large as my own, and case with the color-blind, so with these their results in the more important mat. seers. They imagined at first that every-ters are similar to mine. One of the two body else had the same way of regarding authors had the faculty very strongly, and things as themselves. Then they be the other had not; so they worked contrayed their peculiarities by some chance jointly with advantage. As my present remark which called forth a stare of sur-object is to subordinate details to the prise, followed by ridicule and a sharp general impression that I wish to conscolding for their silliness, so that the vey of the visionary tendency of certain poor little things shrunk back into them- minds, I will simply remark, first, that selves, and never ventured again to allude the persistence of the color association to their inner world. I will quote just with sounds is fully as remarkable as that one of many similar letters as a sample. of the number-form with numbers. SecI received this, together with much inter-ondly, that the vowel sounds chiefly evoke esting information, immediately after a them. Thirdly, that the seers are invarilecture I gave last autumn to the British ably most minute in their description of Association at Swansea * in which I had the precise tint and hue of the color. occasion to speak of the number forms. They are never satisfied, for instance, The writer says:

with saying “ blue,” but will take a great I had no idea for many years, that every one deal of trouble to express or to match the did not imagine numbers in the same posi- particular blue they mean. Lastly, no tions as those in which they appear to me. two people agree, or hardly ever do so, One unfortunate day I spoke of it, and was as to the color they associate with the sharply rebuked for my absurdity. Being a

same sound.

I have one of the most exvery sensitive child I felt this acutely, but traordinary diagrams of these color assonothing ever shook my belief that, absurd or ciations that has, I suppose, ever been not, I always saw nunibers in this particular produced. It has been drawn by Mr. J.

I began to be ashamed of what I considered a peculiarity

, and to imagine myself, Key, of Graham's Town, South Africa. from this and various other mental beliefs and He sent me in the first instance a comstates, as somewhat isolated and peculiar. At munication on the subject, which led to your lecture the other night, though I am now further correspondence, and eventually to over twenty-nine, the memory of my childish the production of this diagram of colors misery at the dread of being peculiar came in connection with letters and words. I over me so strongly, that I felt I must thank have no reason to doubt its trustworthiyou for proving that, in this particular at any ness, and am bound to say that, strange rate, my case is most common.

as it looks, and elaborate as it is, I have The next form of vision of which I will other written accounts that almost match speak is the instant association of color it. with sound, which characterizes a small A third curious and abiding fantasy of percentage of adults, but appears to be certain persons is invariably to connect rather common, though in an ill-developed visualized pictures with words, the same degree, among children. I can here ap- picture to the same word. I have col. peal not only to my own collection of lected many cases of this, and am much facts, but to those of others, for the sub- indebted to the authoress, Mrs. Haweis, ject has latterly excited some interest in who sees these pictures, for her kindness Germany. The first widely known case in sketching some of them for me, and was that of the brothers Nussbaumer, her permission to se her name in guar. published in 1873 by Professor Bruhl, of antee of their genuineness. She says: Vienna, of which the English reader will find an account in the last volume of they had definite expressions, and certain faces

Printed words have always had faces to me; Lewis's “ Problems of Life and Mind”

made me think of certain words. The words

had no connection with these except some. See Living Age, No. 1895.

times by accident. The instances I give are


few and ridiculous. When I think of the word would not keep its shape steady for a Beast, it has a face something like a gurgoyle. moment, but unfolded from within, throwThe word Green has also a gurgoyle face, with ing out a succession of petals, mostly red the addition of big teeth. The word Blue but sometimes green, and that it conblinks and looks silly, and turns to the right, tinued to do so without change in brightThe word Attention has the eyes greatly turned to the left. It is difficult to draw them prop

ness and without causing him

any fatigue erly because like “Alice's” “Cheshire Cat," so long as he cared to watch 'it. Mr. which at times became a grin without a cat, Henslow, when he shuts his eyes and these faces have expression without features. waits, is sure in a short time to see before The expression of course [Note the naïve phrase him the clear image of some object or “of course.” — F. G.] depends greatly on those other, but usually not quite natural in its of the letters, which have likewise their faces shape. It then' begins to change from and figures. All the little a's turn their eyes one object to another, in his case also for to the left, this determines the eyes of Atten: as long a time as he cares to watch it

. tion. Ant, however, looks a little down. Of

Mr. Henslow has zealously made recourse these faces are endless as words are, and it makes my head ache to retain them long peated experiments on himself, and has

drawn what he sees. enough to draw.

He has also tried

how far he is able to mould the visions Some of the figures are very quaint. according to his will. In one case, after Thus the interrogation “What?” always much effort, he contrived to bring the excites the idea of a fat man cracking a imagery back to its starting-point, and long whip. They are not the capricious thereby to form what he terms a visual creations of the fancy of the moment, cycle." The following account is exbut are the regular concomitants of the tracted and condensed from his very words, and have been so as far back as interesting letter. the memory is able to recall. When in perfect darkness, if the field

The first image that spontaneously presented of view be carefully watched, many per

itself was a cross-bow; this was immediately sons will find a perpetual 'series of chan. provided with an arrow, remarkable for its ges to be going on automatically and pronounced barb and superabundance of feath

Some person, but too indistinct to wastefully in it. I have much evidence recognize much more of him than the hands, of this. I will give my own perience appeared to shoot the arrow from the bow. the first, which is to me, because The single arrow was then accompanied by a I am very unimpressionable in these flight of arrows from right to left, which commatters. I visualize with effort; I am pletely occupied the field of vision. These peculiarly inapt to see “after-images,” changed into falling stars, then into flakes of a "phosphenes," "light-dust," and other heavy snow-storm; the ground gradually apphenomena due to weak sight or sensi- peared as a sheet of snow where previously tiveness; and, again, before I thought of known rectory, fish-ponds, walls, etc., all cov

there had been vacant space. Then a wellcarefully trying, I should have emphati-ered with snow, came into view most vividly cally declared that my field of view in the and clearly defined. This somehow suggested dark was essentially of a uniform black, another view, impressed on his mind in childsubject to an occasional light-purple hood, of a spring morning, brilliant sun, and a cloudiness and other small variations. bed of red tulips: the tulips gradually vanished Now, however, after habituating myself except one, which appeared now to be isolated to examine it with the same sort of strain and to stand in the usual point of sight. It that one tries to decipher a sign-post in was a single tulip, but became double. The the dark, I have found out that this is by series until there was nothing left but the

petals then fell off rapidly in a continuous no means the case, but that a kaleido. scopic change of patterns and forms is with his objects) that part was greatly exag.

pistil, but (as is almost invariably the case continually going on, but they are too gerated. The stigmas then changed into three fugitive and elaborate for me to draw branching brown horns; then into a knob, with any approach to truth. My defi- while the stalk changed into a stick. A slight ciencies, however, are well supplied by bend in it seems to have suggested a centreother drawings in my possession. They bit; this passed into a sort of pin passing are by the Rev. George Henslow, whose through a metal plate ; this again into a lock, visions are far more vivid than mine. and afterwards into a nondescript shape, disHis experiences are not unlike those of tinctly suggestive of the original cross-bow.

Here Mr. Henslow endeavored to force his Goethe, who said, in an often-quoted pas, will upon the visions, and to reproduce the sage, that whenever be bent his head and cross-bow, but the first attempt was an utter closed his eyes and thought of a rose, a failure. The figure changed into a leather sort of rosette made its appearance, which strap with loops, but while he still endeavored

VOL. XXXV. 1775


[ocr errors]


« VorigeDoorgaan »