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value, shows itself, not only in great strength, but at a very early period of life. There are a considerable number of cases of this kind to be found in the writings of Gall and Spurzheim; and there are some notices of similar cases in a few other writers. Dr. Rush, for instance, in his Medical Inquiries, mentions a woman, who was entirely exemplary in her conduct, except in one particular. "She could not refrain from stealing. What made this vice the more remarkable was, that she was in easy circumstances, and not addicted to extravagance in any thing. Such was the propensity to this vice, that, when she could lay her hands on nothing more valuable, she would often, at the table of a friend, fill her pockets secretly with bread. She both confessed, and lamented her crime."
Some of the facts, which are given by Dr. Gall, are as follows." Victor Amadeus I., King of Sardinia, was in the constant habit of stealing trifles. Saurin, pastor at Geneva, though possessing the strongest principles of reason and religion, frequently yielded to the propensity to steal. Another individual was, from early youth, a victim to this inclination. He entered the military service, on purpose that he might be restrained by the severity of the discipline; but having continued his practices, he was on the point of being condemned to be hanged. Ever seeking to combat his ruling passion, he studied theology and became a Capuchin. But his propensity followed him even to the cloister. Here, however, as he found only trifles to tempt him, he indulged himself in his strange fancy with less scruple. He seized scissors, candlesticks, snuffers, cups, goblets, and conveyed them to his cell. An agent of the government at Vienna had the singular mania for stealing nothing but kitchen utensils. He hired two rooms as a place of deposit; he did not sell, and made no use of them. The wife of the famous physician Gaubius,had such a propensity to pilfer, that when she made a purchase, she always sought to take something. The Countesses M., at Wessel, and P., at Frankfort, had also this propensity. Madame de W. had been educated with peculiar care. Her wit and talents secured her a distinguished place in society. But neither her education nor her fortune saved her from the most decided propensity to theft. Lavater speaks
of a physician, who never left the room of his patients without robbing them of something, and who never thought of the matter afterward. In the evening his wife used to examine his pockets; she there found keys, scissors, thimbles, knives, spoons, buckles, cases, and sent them to their respective owners."*
§. 313. Disordered action of imitativeness or the principle of imitation.
The proof, that there is in man a principle of IMITATION, which impels him to do as others do, is so abundant, as probably to leave no reasonable doubt upon the candid mind. This principle, as compared with its ordinary operation and character, is found in some individuals to exhibit an irregular or diseased action. M. Pinel, as he is quoted by Dr. Gall, speaks of an idiot woman, "who had an irresistible propensity to imitate all that she saw done in her presence. She repeats, instinctively, all she hears, and imitates the gestures and actions of others with the greatest fidelity; and without troubling herself with any regard to propriety."Under the form of Sympathetic Imitation, the disordered action of this principle becomes very important; so much so that we shall leave the subject here for the purpose of considering it more at length than we could otherwise do, in a separate chapter..
§. 314. Disordered action of the principle of sociality.
The principle of Sociality, obviously one of the implanted propensities of our nature, may exist with such a degree of intensity as justly to entitle its action to be called a disordered, and in some cases even an alienated action. In connection with this remark, it may be proper to revert a moment to the precise idea, which we attach to the term alienation, considered as expressive of a state or condition of the mind. There may be an imperfection of mental action, there may be a disorder of mental action, which is nevertheless not an alienation of mental action. The term alienation properly applies to those forms of mental action, which are so much disordered as to set at defiance any efforts of the Will to control them; in a word they are involuntary. So that in accordance with this statement, there may be either a disordered state of the principle of sociality or of any other prin* Gall's Works, Vol. 4th, Am. Ed. p. 132.—† The same, Vol. I, p. 320.
ciple, (that is to say, one which is irregular, but still is susceptible of correction under the efforts of the will;) or there may be, when this disorder is found to exist beyond certain limits, an alienated, an insane state. But, although this distinction should be fully understood, it is not necessary, in the remarks, which for the most part we have occasion to make, that we should always keep it distinctly in view.
But to return to our subject. An irregular action of the social principle, whether it be truly alienated or exist in some lighter form of disorder, may show itself in two aspects, which are entirely diverse from each other, viz, either in a morbid aversion to society, or in a desire of society inordinately intense. Persons, to whom the first statement will apply, are generally, and for the most part justly, designated as Misanthropes. Under the influence of some sudden revulsion of the mind, of some great disappointment, of some illtreatment on the part of near relatives and supposed friends, or of some other powerful cause, the natural tie of brotherhood, which binds man to his fellow-man, is snapped asunder, and the soul flees to the rock and the desert never more to return. Such instances, the Timon of Athens of Shakspeare, the Black Dwarf of Walter Scott, and numerous others, are too frequently found, not only on the recorded annals of human nature, but in almost every one's personal experience, to require any minuteness of notice.
§. 315. Further remarks on the disordered action of the social propensity.
There is another class of cases, which in their character appear to be directly the reverse of those, which have just been mentioned. Individuals, when they are cut off from society, particularly the society of their friends, are sometimes the subjects of a misery inexpressibly intense. We have already had occasion to allude to the case of the young Foscari, who was banished from Venice; and who died apparently in consequence of the mere mental anguish which he suffered. Cases were also mentioned of death, resulting from solitary confinement in prison. (§. 148.) There is an exceedingly painful disease, founded, in a great degree, upon the disordered action of the social principle, which is termed by physicians Nostalgia; but which is more commonly known
under the familiar designation of HOME-SICKNESS. ease, which is sometimes fatal, is said to have frequently prevailed among the Swiss, when absent from their native country. The beautiful sky, which shone over them in their absence from their native land, the works of art, the allurements of the highest forms of civilization, could not erase from their hearts the image of their rugged mountains and their stormy heavens. They had society enough around them, it is true; but it was not the society, which their hearts sought for, or in which in existing circumstances they could participate. They bowed their heads under the influence of a hidden and irrepressible sorrow; and in many cases not merely pined away, but died in the deep anguish of their separation.
In the year 1733, a Russian army, under the command of General Praxin, advanced to the banks of the Rhine. At this remote distance from their native country this severe mental disease began to prevail among the Russians, so much so that five or six soldiers every day became unfit for duty; a state of things which threatened to affect the existence of the army. The progress of this home-sickness was terminated by a severe order from the commander, (designed probably, and which had the effect to produce a strong counteracting state of mind,) that every one affected with the sickness should be buried alive.*
§. 316. Of the disordered action of the desire of esteem.
There may be a disordered action of the desire of Esteem. This principle is not only an original one; but as a general thing it possesses, as compared with some of the other Propensities, a greater and more available amount of strength. It is a regard for the opinion of others, (a sense of character, as we sometimes term it,) which, in the absence, or the too great weakness of higher principles, serves to restrict the conduct of multitudes within the bounds of decency and order. This principle is good and important in its place, and under due regulation; but it is exceedingly apt to become irregular, unrestrained, and inordinate in its exercise. This view throws light upon the character of many individuals. It is here probably that we may discover the leading defect
* Dr. Rush on the Diseases of the Mind, 2d Ed. p. 113.
in the character of Alcibiades, a name of distinguished celebrity in the history of Athens. His ruling passion seems to have been not so much the love of POWER, as the love of APPLAUSE. In other words, his great desire was, as has been well remarked of him, "to make a noise, and to furnish matter of conversation to the Athenians."
Pope, in the First of his Moral Essays, illustrates this subject, in his usual powerful manner, in what he says of the Duke of Wharton; the key to whose character he finds in the excessive desire of human applause.
"Search then the ruling passion. There alone
The inordinate exercise of this propensity, as is correctly intimated by Mr. Stewart, tends to disorganize the mind. The man, who is under the influence of such an excessive appetite for the world's smiles and flatteries, has no fixed rule of conduct; but the action of his mind, his opinions, desires, hopes, and outward conduct, are constantly fluctuating with the changing tide of popular sentiment. It is nearly impos sible, that the pillars of the mind should remain firm, and without more or less of undermining and dislocation, under the operations of such a system of uncertainty and vicissitude. Nor is this all. When persons, who are under the influence of this excessive desire, are disappointed in the possession of that approbation and applause, which is its natural food, they are apt to become melancholy, misanthropic, and unhappy in a very high degree. In fact, numerous cases of actual Insanity, if we look carefully at the statements of writers on the subject of Mental Alienation, may probably be traced to this source.
And where insanity does not supervene, there are sometimes consequences scarcely less unfavorable. It is well known that within a few years a number of gifted individuals have been hurried to an early grave, in consequence of