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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/677

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THE PATHOLOGY OF THE PASSIONS.

than that the accident by which he had been buried alive had occurred upward of fifty years before. The people had ceased to make inquiries as to the identity of the body, when a decrepit old woman came up supported on crutches. She approached the mummified corpse, and in it recognized the body of the man to whom she had been betrothed more than fifty years previously. She threw herself upon the rigid corpse—which was like a bronze statue—wept over it, and manifested intense joy at seeing again the object of her early affection.

As for the imagination, it transcends all bounds, and loses all character of exactitude. The will is no longer mistress of the vital acts. Says Romeo at the tomb of Juliet:

"Here, here will I remain

With worms that are thy chambermaids.
Oh, my love! my wife!
Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty;
. . . . beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And Death's pale flag is not advanced there."

"I am drawn toward you," writes Mdlle. de Lespinasse to M. de Guibert, "by an attraction—by a feeling which I abhor, but which has all the power of malediction and fatality." The English poet Keats, when dying of consumption, writes thus to a friend: "I am in that state wherein a woman—as woman—has no more power over me than a stock or a stone, and yet the thought of leaving N. is something horrible to me. I am ever seeing her form, which is ever disappearing." This latter fact pertains to the history of hallucinations, and this in turn borders on the history of ecstasies, which are so frequent in religious life; so true is it that love, even mystical and divine, if not confined within the bounds of reason, turns to a kind of mania, which, as we shall see, is full of danger for the general functions of the mind.

Thought draws the sketch of life, but passion adds the coloring of the picture. When this passion is a happy one, the coloring is brilliant and cheerful, and then life is a bright vernal season. But oftener the passion is a painful one, and the color given by it to life is dark-some. Melancholy is one of those passions which throw a gloom over a man's life. There is one form of melancholy which is plainly a variety of dementia, and which often comes under the notice of the physician. It is characterized by an incurable sadness, an irresistible love of solitude, absolute inaction, and a belief in a host of imaginary evils that are ever haunting the patient. "My body is a burning fire," wrote a melancholic subject to his medical man; "my nerves are glowing coals, my blood is boiling oil. Sleep is impossible. I endure martyrdom."—"I am bereft of mind and sensibility," writes another; "my senses are gone I can neither see nor hear any thing;