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and extraordinary instances of the strength of imagination.
An old writer gives us the following instance. A man in a burning fever, leaning over his bedside, pointed with his finger to the chamber door, desiring those who were present to let him swim in that lake, and that he then should be cool. His physician humoured the conceit; the patient walked carefully about the room, seemed to feel the water gradually ascending to his neck, and, at length, having said that he felt himself cool and well, was found, in reality to be so. Medical men acknowledge that imagination has much to do both in inducing and curing many disorders.
Many have imagined their limbs to be made of glass, of wax, &c. of enormous sizes,, and of fantastical shapes; and others have even fancied themselves dead.
In the Memoirs of Count De Maurepas, we find an account of a most singular hypochondriac in the person of the Prince of Bourbon. He once imagined himself to be a hare, and would suffer no bell to be rung in his palace, lest the noise should drive him to the woods. At another time he fancied himself to be a plant, and as he stood in the garden, insisted on being watered. He sometime afterwards thought he was dead, and refused nourishment; for which, he said, he had no farther occasion. This whim would have proved fatal, if his friends had not contrived to disguise two persons who were introduced to him as his grandfather and Marshal Luxembourg; and who, after some conversation concerning the shades, invited him to dine with Marshal Turenne. Our hypochondriac followed them into a cellar
prepared for the purpose, where he made a hearty meal. While this turn of his disorder prevailed, he always dined in the cellar with some noble ghost. We are also informed that this strange malady did not incapacitate him for business, especially when his interest was concerned. This account is drawn from the Appendix to the Monthly review for December'
Fienus, who wrote upon this subject, relates a singular instance of one whose delusion represented his body so large, that he thought it impossible for him to get out of the room. The physician, fancying there could be no better way of rectifying his imagination than by letting him see that the thing could be done, ordered him to be carried out by force. Great was the struggle; and the patient no sooner saw himself at the outside of the door, than he fell into the same agonies of pain as if his bones had all been broken by being forced through a passage too little for him, and died immediately after.
Of the important effects arising from bodily labour, when united with mental excitement, we have recorded a remarkable instance in the Monitor et Preceptor of Dr. Mead. “A young student at college became so deeply hypochondriac, that he proclaimed himself dead, and ordered the college bell to be tolled on the occasion of his death. In this he was indulged; but the man employed to execute the task appeared to the student to perform it so imperfectly, that he arose from his bed, in a fury of passion, to toll the bell for his own departure. When he had finished, he retired to his bed in
a state of profuse perspiration, and was from that moment alive and well.
Simon Brown, a dissenting minister, was born at Shepton Mallet, in Somersetshire, 1680. Grounded and excelling in grammatical learning, he early became qualified for the ministry, and actually began to preach before he was twenty. He was first called to be a pastor at Portsmouth, and afterwards removed to the Old Jewry, where he was admired and esteemed for a number of years. But the death of his wife and only son, which happened in 1723, affected him so as to deprive him of his reason; and he became from that time lost to himself, his family, and to the world: his congregation at the Old Jewry, in expectation of his recovery, delayed for some time to fill his post; yet, at length, all hopes were over, and Mr. Samuel Chandler was appointed to succeed him in 1725. This double misfortune affected him at first in a manner little different from distraction, but afterwards sunk him into a settled me. lancholy. He quitted the duties of his function, and would not be persuaded to join in any act of worship, public or private. Being urged by his friends for a reason of this extraordinary change, at which they expressed the utmost grief and astonishment, he told them, after much importunity, that "he had fallen under the sensible displeasure of God, who had caused his rational soul gradually to perish, and left him only an animal life in common with brutes that, though he retained the human shape, and the faculty of speaking in a manner that appeared to others rational, he had all the while no more notion of what he said than a parrot; that it was therefore profane in him to
pray, and incongruous to be present at the prayers of others;" and, very consistently with this, he considered himself no more as a moral agent, or subject of either reward or punishment. In this way of thinking and talking he unalterably and obstinately persisted to the end of his life, though he afterwards suffered, and even requested prayers to be made for him. Some time after his secession from the Old Jewry, he retired to Shepton Mallet, his native place; and though in his retirement he was perpetually contending that his powers of reason and imagination were gone, yet he was as constantly exerting both with much activity and vigor. He amused himself sometimes with translating parts of the ancient Greek and Latin poets into English verse; he composed little pieces for the use of children; an English Grammar and Spelling Book; an abstract of the Scripture History, and a collection of Tables, both in metre; and with much learning he brought together, in a short compass, all the Themata of the Greek and Latin tongues; and also compiled a dictionary to each of those works, in order to render the learning of both these languages more easy and compendious. Of these performances none have been made public; but what shewed the strength and vi go of his understanding, while he was daily bemoaning the loss of it, were two works composed during the two last years of his life, in defence of christianity against Woolston and Tindal. He wrote an answer to Woolston's fifth discourse on the miracles of our Saviour intitled, A fit rebuke for a ludicrous infidel, with a preface concerning the prosecution of such writers by the civil power. The pre
face contains a vigorous plea for liberty, and is strongly against prosecutions in matters of religion; and, in the answer, Woolston is as well managed as he was by any of his refuters, and more in his own way, too. His book against Tindal was called, A defence of the religion of nature and the christian revelation, against the defective account of the one, and the exceptions against the other, in a book intitled, christianity as old as the creation; and it is allowed to be as good a one as that controversy produced. He intended to dedicate it to queen Caroline; but as the unhappy state of his mind appeared in the dedication, some of his friends very wisely suppressed it, as sure to defeat the use and intent of his work. The copy, however, is preserved, and, as it is a great curiosity, we here present it to the reader.
"Or all the extraordinary things that have been rendered to your royal hands since your first happy arrival in Britian, it may be boldly said what now bespeaks your majesty's acceptance is the chief. Not in itself, indeed is it a trifle unworthy your exalted rank, and what will hardly prove an entertaining amusement to one of your majesty's deep penetration, exact judgment, and fine taste, but on account of the author, who is the first being of the kind, and yet without a name. He was once a man, and of some little name, but of no worth, as his present unparalleled case makes but too manifest; for, by the immediate hand of an avenging God, his very thinking substance has, for more than seven years, been continually wasting away, till t is wholly perished out of him, if it.