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NOTES ON A TALE OF TWO CITIES.

CHAPTER XVIII.

"He slipped away to his bench."

Dr. Manette's case is a study of secondary, or rather alternating, personality a subject which has lately been much discussed. The patient is, normally, John, but in consequence of illness, accident, shock, or other causes, he becomes James. In his second state he remembers little or nothing of his first condition; his actions and his whole character are different. Recovering, he remembers nothing of his second condition, except when under the influence of hypnotism. These alternating personalities have been accounted for, at least by popular science, on the hypothesis that, the brain having two hemispheres, one of these gets control of the machinery, and produces the secondary self. It is an objection that these "selves" may be three, or even five, as is attested on good medical evidence. The case of the Rev. Ansel Bourne is most like that of Dr. Manette. After being an atheist and a carpenter, he was converted "under very peculiar circumstances," and became an itinerant preacher. However, he kept his name, ordinary memory, and general personality. On January 17, 1887, he drew 551 dollars out of his bank, and remembered no more about the Rev. Ansel Bourne till March 14. On that day a man, calling himself A. J. Brown, who for six weeks had kept a small shop at Norristown, Pennsylvania, "woke up in a fright," said that he was the Rev. Ansel Bourne, that he did not know where he had got to, but that he remembered cashing a cheque in Providence. He knew very little of what had occurred between January and March, till, in June, 1890, Professor William James hypnotised him, and he gave an account of his lost weeks.[1] Many other examples will be found in English, American, and French psychological treatises. It would be interesting to know what led Dickens to the topic. Dr. Manette, like Mr. Ansel Bourne, recovers his primary self spontaneously. It may be remarked that the likeness of Carton and Darnay, casually discovered in Court, and shaking the evidence, was paralleled (December, 1897) by a similar indistinguishable likeness between the handwriting of two witnesses in Captain Dreyfus's case. The question of distinguishing between hands having arisen, the judge asked two witnesses to write in Court, and the similarity of their hands baffled the experts.


BOOK III.

CHAPTER XV.

"One of the most remarkable sufferers."

The reference is to Madame Roland.


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  1. Principles of Psychology, by Professor William James, i. 391.