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the moral of various heathen fables, furnishes the following interpretation of this, as translated by Dryden.
No Tityus torn by vultures lies in hell,
Hippocrates, Galen, Aretæus, and other illustrious ancients, were accustomed to describe a great variety of mental disease under the
general term “melancholy,” because they believed a pensive and desponding state of the mind to arise from a superabundance of “black bile," the literal meaning of the compound word “melancholy.” Others supposed the hidden cause of this mental depression to be the
SPLEEN—and hence, “to be spleeny,” as descriptive of the gloomy and disconsolate, has come down to us traditionally as a saying of antiquity. What is the use of this spongy viscus has never been determined. Dr. Good says various hypotheses have been offered by learned men; but they are hypotheses, and nothing more. Archdeacon Paley thinks it is employed as needful in the package of the animal mass. It is possible, he says, that the spleen may be “merely a stuffing, a soft cushion to fill up a vacancy or hollow, which, unless occupied, would leave the package loose and unsteady.” The same opinion concerning the influence of the liver in producing emotions of sadness is conveyed in the word “hypochondriac," applied by the ancients to the melancholy, and which has been domesticated by the moderns. Every reader who can analyse the term, knows that it designates the position of this organ, uto xovòpov, under the cartilage. Thus the opinion obtained early, that by some mysterious generation, affections of this sombre cast were the offspring of the liver.
The writer is indebted to a lady of genius, and various accomplishments of both mind and person, for a critical remark and suggestion in relation to the subject of hepatic influence, as furnished by her own experience. She is favourably known to the literary and religious community by several instructive and interesting works, and has paid the common penalty of the studious in those physical ailments which are too often the price of their success. She had very soon discovered that the fluctuations in her animal spirits, religious enjoyment, and spiritual exercises generally; the changes in her temper, mental energy, and cheerfulness, to which she is painfully subject, were symptomatic of a corresponding change in the condition of this sensitive organ. But the exhibition of some simple remedy, by which its healthful functions are restored, brings back at once her elastic freedom of thought and cheerfulness.
The preceding illustrations of the close connection between the spiritual man and the material, are doubtless ample for the ordinary reader. But in view of the grave moral uses to which this interesting truth is to be applied in our subsequent remarks, we will presume on the reader's indulgence while we adduce a few to exemplify the power of the passions as disturbers of the healthy action of our bodies. Some of these, it is known, retard the circulation of the blood, which, on the contrary, is accelerated by opposite emotions that are stronger and more vigorous. Who has failed to notice how the heart palpitates, and the “pulse gallops,” when the mind is excited by
LOVE. When Antiochus the Syrian was ill of an occult disease which threatened his life, the cause of it was undiscoverable until betrayed to his physicians by their observing that his pulse suddenly became irregular whenever Stratonice entered the room. It then appeared that love for her was the cause of his illness. This was immediately told to his royal father, who willingly gave her to his son, that his immoderate passion might not cause his death. Not less operative is the influence of
HOPE. What fact is better established by the teachings, as well as the experience of the medical profession, than that the success of surgical operations, and the results of medicine, are materially affected by the hope or despair that preponderates in the mind of the patient.
Surgeons in the army have noticed a marked contrast between the mortality among the wounded of a victorious and that of a conquered army. The most severe and apparently desperate cases recover in the former, while hospital gangrene, erysipelas, typhus, and dysentery, usually decimate the latter. Even the lighter cases are comparatively slow in their recovery, and imperfect in their convalescence. After the great battle on the Mincio, 1859, between the French and Sardinians on the one side, and Austrians on the other, so disastrous to the latter, the defeated army retreated, followed by the victors. A description of the march of each army is given by two correspondents of the London Times, one of whom travelled with the successful host, the other with the defeated. The differences in views and statements of the same place, scenes, and events, is remarkable. The former are said to be marching through a beautiful and luxuriant country during the day, and at night encamping where they are supplied with an abundance of the best provisions, and all sorts of rural dainties.