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as he did in the course of the night. Many | keep it open. A soldier, struck in the temsuch instances are upon record; and Cer- ple at Waterloo with a musket-ball, had his vantes must have witnessed something of skull sawn through with a trephine by Mr. the kind, or he would not have ventured to Cooper, the author of the “ Surgical Dicrestore Don Quixote to reason in his final tionary,” and a bone pulled out which had illness, make him abjure knight-errantry, been driven half an inch into the substance and die a sensible as he had lived a worthy of the brain. Nearly lifeless before, he inman; for throughout his adventures he dis- stently sat up, talked with reason and complays a loftiness of principle and a rectitude placency, and rose and dressed the same of purpose which give an elevation to his day. The transition is little less sudden in character, and render him estimable when the “ lightening before death ;” and though most ridiculous. Sir Henry Halford cau- the debility is usually too great for exubertioned the younger members of his profes- ance of spirits, there is sometimes a gentle sion against these appearances, which have gaiety which would have a contagious charm often deluded physicians themselves. The if it were not the signal of a coming gloom, medical attendant of Charleval, a French made a hundred fold more dark by the conversifier, called out exultingly to a brother trast with the short-lived mirth, never in this of the faculty who entered the room, “Come world—unless by the tearful eye
memory and see, the fever is going !” After a mo- —to be beheld again. ment's observation, the other, more expe.
The moment which converts a sensitive rienced, replied, “No—it is the patient.” body to inanimate matter is often indistinThe amendment is not real unless the pulse guishable; but one would hardly think that has improved: the energies of life are other- any who had deliberately contemplated a wise worn out; and either the inertness of corpse-icy, stiff, and motionless, with noththe disease proceeds from a want of power ing of humanity except the form—could supto sustain it, or, if it has fairly retired, the pose that life might put on the "borrowed system has been too much depressed to re- likeness of shrunk death," and men, who bound. The temporary revival is rarely were still of the present world, be consigned complete; but a partial intermission, from by mistake to a living tomb. Yet many perits comparative ease, creates a considerable sons, especially women, are so haunted with change of sensation. Hence the pause in the idea, that they will almost fear to sleep the disorder has received the name of a lest they should wake with six feet of earth
lightening before death”—a removal of the for thcir covering and a coffin for their bed. load of pain and stupor by which the patient Solemn physicians abroad—for in England was previously oppressed. Shakspeare con- these terrorists boast no educated disciplesfines the term to the merriment of mind have written books to accredit the belief, and which usually accompanies the relief. Paley add a deeper horror to the grave. Each has said, and he wrote after many visitations successive - production of the kind, however, of gout, that the subsidence of pain is a is little more than a resuscitation of its forpositive pleasure which few enjoyments can gotten predecessor, from which it differs exceed. The observation is sometimes strik- about as much as the Almanac of this year ingly illustrated in surgical operations, when from the Almanac of last. In 1834, Julia neither the smarting of the wound nor the de Fontenelle, a man of science—if several attendant horrors have the power to disturb lines of philosophical titles written after his the sense of satisfaction which directly en- name are a voucher for the character-pubsues. Sir Charles Bell opened the windpipe lished his “Medico-legal Researches on the of a man attacked with spasms of the throat, Uncertainty of the Signs of Death,” which and who was dying through want of air. volume is at present, we believe, the standThe incision closed with the convulsive ard one on the subject. The horror of being throbs, and it was necessary to slit out a buried alive was his least motive for
rousing piece of the cartilage; but when the man, up the public to a sense of their danger. whose face was lately a picture of distress, Convinced, he said, that unwholesome diet who streamed with the sweat of suffering, and evil passions, the abuse of drugs and the and who toiled and gasped for life, breathed ignorance of physicians, are but too successfreely through the opening, he fell fast ful in swelling the number of the undoubted asleep while half a dozen candles threw their dead, he conceives it his duty in
compensaglare upon his eyes, and the surgeons, with tion to preserve to society the many who their hands bathed in his blood, were still at were only dead in appearance. He seems to work upon the wound, inserting materials to have persuaded himself that burial-grounds
are a species of human slaughter-house, and, those who are accustomed to shrink from the if he had read the English Martyrology, semblance of death, with its frightful accomwould have seen something more than a ly- paniments, far more than they dread the reing legend in the story of St. Frithstane, ality; for it will show that, unless by culpawho, saying one evening masses for the dead ble recklessness and haste, there is no possiin the open air, as he pronounced the words bility that a single individual should be enrequiescant in pace, heard a chorus of voices tombed before his time. from the surrounding graves respond loudly The first page shows how much bis critiAmen. M. Fontenelle's hopes of recruiting cism has been outstripped by his zeal, for he the population from churchyards are ground-counts among the victims of error the Empeed on a hundred cases of apparent deaths ror Zenon, who is said to have been interred gleaned from the entire history of the world when he was drunk, by the order of his wife, -a rather slender counterpoise to the victims ambitious of his crown. M. Fontenelle himof passion, gluttony, drugs, and physicians, self relates, that for two nights he continueven if the instances were all well founded ally cried from his capacious sepulchre, and all to the purpose.
“ He cheats by pence, | “Have mercy on me! Take me out !" and is cheated by the pound.” But of his ex- surely bis petition would not have been in amples those which are true are inapplicable, vain, if they had buried him in good faith and those which are applicable are unsub- through an unhappy mistake. Horrors never stantiated.
come singly: it is added, that in his hunger The marvellous is most credible when he ate up his shoes and the flesh of his arms. left to the imagination ; the attempt to verify A case among the accidents, that of an Archit dissipates the illusion. Supernatural ap- bishop Gèron—when or where he lived is pearances seemed to be probable when the not told—has a close resemblance to the end argument rested on the general belief; noth- of
Zenon: ing more unlikely when the specific facts
He waked in the boat, and to Charon he said were collected and weighed. A volume of
That he would be rowed back, for he was not ghost stories is the best refutation of ghosts. That persons, by every outward sign long dead, have revived, is also among the opin- But the persons who heard him shouting ions that have found adherents in all coun- from the sepulchre refused to believe him,
tries, and many are the superstitions to which and he was left to his fate. There was : it has given rise. Roger North, in his Life an Abbé who had better luck.
of the Lord Keeper, mentions that the Turks, vived on the way to the grave; and his atif a noise is heard in a tomb, dig up the tendants having thought fit to bury his cat corpse, and, as one method of making mat- with him, which sat like a night-mare upon ters sure, chop it into pieces. He adds, that his chest, the Abbé employed his returning some English merchants, riding at Constan- strength to drive off the incubus. The anitinople in company with a Janizary, passed an mal mewed with the pain, and more regard aged and shriveled Jew, who was sitting on being paid to the remonstrances of a cat than a sepulchre. The Janizary never doubted that to those of an Archbishop, the procession of this sepulchre the Jew himself was the was stopped and the coffin unscrewed. Out rightful tenant, and ordered him back to his jumped the cat, and immediately after the grave, after rating him soundly for stinking dead man followed, and took to his heels. the world a second time. Nations sunk lower The bearers are said to have been “frozen in barbarism give credence to fables still more with fear;" and the cat and the Abbé must absurd, though they do not exceed in ex- have partaken of the chill. Some who came travagance what we might expect from the off with life, have yet had reason to rue the exaggerations of ignorance and terror, if the misconception. A gentleman of Rouen, recries and struggles of buried men had been turning from a tour just as his wife was being heard disturbing the stillness of the tomb; borne to the tomb, he ordered back the coffin, but the moment an effort is made to substan- and had a surgeon to make five-and-twenty tiate the belief by authentic examples, the incisions on the corpse—a strange method of edifice is overthrown by the very endeavor cherishing the remnant of existence, if he to prop it up. Timidity itself would take suspected any. Nevertheless, at the twentycourage on reading the terrific register of the sixth incision, which went deeper than the credulous Fontenelle. An examination of rest, she mildly inquired “What mischief his proof, while it indicates the precautions they were doing her ?" and she survived to that are prudent to be taken, will reassure bear her husband six-and-twenty children
a pledge for every gash. An English soldier other a daughter, who were friends and showed more vigor and less endurance than something more. The daughter, compelled this meekest of women. He was carried to by her parents to sacrifice her lover for a the dissecting-room of a French hospital, wealthy suitor, fell into what M. Fontenelle where a student, to practice anatomy, cut his calls an “hysterical syncope," and was bujugular vein. Furious with rage and pain, ried. Fortune frowns upon lovers that she he leaped upon the student and Hung him to may enhance the value of her smiles. A the ground, where he fainted with alarm. strange instinct induced her adorer to disinThe soldier must have been a disciple of the ter the body, and he had the double pleaslaughter-loving Roderick Random, who coun- ure of delivering the fair one from a horrible terfeited death on his recovery from a fever, death and a hateful husband. Holding that and snapped at the fingers of the surgeon as the interment had broken the marriage-tie, he was closing his eyes. But the more valor- they fled to England, but at the end of ten ous son of Mars had nearly carried the jest years ventured back to Paris, where the lady too far, when he suffered his jugular vein to was met by the original husband, who, nobe opened before “ he played out the play.” ways bris that she should have revisited Zadig, in Voltaire's story, pretends to be the earth, nor staggered by her denials, laid dead, to test the affection of his wife; and a formal claim to her in a court of justice. his friend, who is in the plot, applies imme- The lover boldly sustained that he who resdiately for the vacant post, and feigns a pain cued her from death had more right to her in his side, which nothing can cure except than the claimant who interred her alive; but the application of a dead man's nose. But the doctrine being new to a court of law, when the widow, deeming that a living lover the prudent pair anticipated the decision by is worth more than a departed husband, ad- returning to England, where they finally tervances to the coffin with an open razor to minated their adventures. The plot and motake possession of the specific, Zadig is wise rality of the story are thoroughly characterenough to cover his nose with one hand while istic of M. Fontenelle's nation, and the simhe thrusts the instrument aside with the other. plicity which believes it is not less so of himA man of war, who had the good fortune to self. The countrymen of Shakspeare will recover in a dissecting-room without the aid recognize a French version of Romeo and of the knife, seeing himself surrounded, on Juliet. All ladies are not blest with resuropening his eyes, by mutilated bodies, ex- rectionist lovers, but covetousness will someclaimed, " I perceive that the action has been times do the work of chivalry. A domestic
I hot !" And if M. Fontenelle had opened visited his mistress in her tomb, enticed by a his eyes he might easily have perceived that diamond ring, which resisting his efforts to the anecdote was a jest. Indeed, such is his draw it off, he proceeded to amputate the credulity, that the story of a surgeon addicted finger. Thereupon the mistress revives, and to cards, whose death had been tested by the domestic drops down dead with alarm : bawling in his ears, rising up when a friend Thus," says M. Fontenelle, “ death had his
” whispered in the language of piquet, "a prey; it was only the victim which was quint, fourteen and the point,” has been mis- changed." He gives further on a similar taken by him for an extraordinary case of re- story, in which the lady with the ring was suscitation, instead of a commonplace joke on supposed to have died in childbirth, and some the passion for play. The jest-book has always grave-diggers were the thieves. In the hurry contributed abundant materials to the compi- of their flight they left a lantern which served lers of horrors. Several anecdotes turn on that to light the lady to her door. “Who's there?” inexhaustible theme for merriment—the sor- inquired the girl who answered her knock. rows of matrimony. In passing through Your mistress," was the reply. The ser
“ the street a bier was struck against the cor- vant needed to hear no more ; she rushed ner of a house, and the
into the room where her master was sitting, by the shock. Some years afterward, when and informed him that the spirit of his wife the woman died in good earnest, her hus- was at the door. He rebuked the girl for band called to the bearers, “Pray, gentle- her folly, and assured her that her mistress men, be careful in turning the corners.” Thus was in Abraham's bosom, but on looking out there is not even a step from the mirthful to of the window the well-known voice exthe terrible. The stories, unaltered, do double claimed, “For pity's sake, open the door. duty.
Do you forget that I have just been confined, Two Parisian merchants, bound together and that cold in my condition will be fatal ?" in close friendship, had one a son and the This was not the doubt which troubled his
VOL. XIX, NO. I.
mind, nor was it the first observation we more an honor to his profession by his skill should have expected a wife to address to her than to his kind by his virtues. The faculty husband, when, newly released from her grave of his day demonstrated, on principles deriby an almost miraculous deliverance, she sud- ved from abstract reasoning, that the smalldenly appeared before him in the dead of pox ought to yield to a hot regimen, and, night, wearing the habiliments of the tomb. though patients died, physicians thought But as the husband was satisfied, it is not for death under a philosophical treatment better us to be critical. Numerous places are de- than a capricious and perverse recovery in clared to have been the scene of the incident defiance of rules. Sydenham, who reformof the ring, which M. Fontenelle considers ed the whole system of medicine by substituto be cumulative testimony to its truth. We ting experience for speculation, and who, should have thought, on the contrary, that besides indicating the right road, was himhis faith would have been diminished as the self perhaps the nicest observer of the habits stories increased. Marvels rarely go in flocks. of disease that ever lived, had early discovered In the present instance few need to be told that the antidote was to be found at the other that M. Fontenelle has been drawing upon the end of the thermometer. The science which standard literature of the nursery—that the saved the lives of the public was the torment of ring-story is one of those with which children his own. He was assailed by the profession from time immemorial have been terrified and to the close of his days for being wiser than his amused. “The nurse's legends are for truth generation, and among the facts by which he received,” and to the inventions which en mildly and modestly defended his practice, tertained their infancy many are indebted he relates with evident satisfaction how a for their after-apprehensions lest the fate at young man at Bristol was stewed by his phy, which they shuddered in another should sician into a seeming death, and afterward prove prophetic of their own. M. Fontenelle recovered by mere exposure to cold. The has himself thought that it would help out moment he appeared to expire, bis attendhis subject to insert the poem of a M. Les- ants laid him out, leaving nothing upon his guillon, in which he relates from imagination body except a sheet thrown lightly over it. the burial and resurrection of a lady, who No sooner had he escaped from the domain was set free, at the crisis of her despair, by of art to the dominion of nature than he bethe accident of a sexton cleaving her coffin gan to revive, and lived to vindicate Sydenwith his spade. What calls forth M. Fonte- ham, to shame his opponents, and to prove nille's special admiration is, that the author that there are occasions in which the remehas “wedded reason to rhyme,” and it is im- dy against death is to seem to be dead. The possible to deny that there is as much reason ancient who originated the celebrated saying, in M. Lesguillon's verse as in M. Fontenelle's “The physician that heals is death,” never prose.
anticipated such a verification of his maxim. As a set-off to the miserable mortals who The three examples, however, which the lost their lives through a seeming death, this resurrectionists consider their stronghold, yet very appearance is affirmed to have been the remain to be told, and it must be confessed means of averting the reality. Tallemant that many have lent them the weight of their has a story of a Baroness de Panat, who authority who reject the mass of old wives? was choked by a fish-bone, and duly buried fables, though with the imposing addition of for dead. Her servants, to get her jewels, being sanctioned by a philosopher and printdisinterred her by night, and the lady's maid, ed in a book. There was a French captain who bore her a grudge, struck her in revenge in the reign of Charles IX. who used to sign several blows upon the neck. The maligni. bimself " François de Civile—thrice dead, ty of the maid was the preservation of the thrice buried, and by the grace of God thrice mistress. Out flew the bone, set free by the restored.” The testimony seems striking ; blows, and up rose the Baroness, to the dis- as he himself related his history to Misson comfiture of her domestics. The retributive the traveler, either Civile was a liar, say our justice was complete, and the only objection authors, or the story is true. But without to the narrative is, that like the fish-bone, it taking much from the romance of his advensticks in the throat. In this particular, the tures, the details are fatal to the value of the stories mostly agree; a single anecdote comes precedent. His first burial, to begin with, recommended by intrinsic probability, and is occurred before he was born. His mother no less distinguished from hearsay romances died when she was advanced in pregnancy, by the external authority ; for it is told by during her husband's absence, and nobody, slie famous Sydenham, a man who was not before committing her body to the ground,
thought of saving the child. His father's re- and affections, has related the origin of the turn prevented his going altogether out of pilgrimage in a note on the history of De the world before he had come into it—and Thou, whose narrative, so far as it goes, here was concluded the first act of the death, agrees with his own. Hating the manners burial, and restoration of François de Civile. of the Spaniards, pining for his native counHis next death was at the siege of Rouen in try, and refused by Philip permission to re1562, where he fell senseless, struck by a turn thither, Vesalius sickened with vexation, ball, and some workmen who were digging a and vowed on his recovery to travel to Jerutrench immediately threw a little mould salem, less from any superstition of his own, upon his body, which was burial the second. than to obtain his release by an appeal to the The servant of Civile tried to find out his re- superstition of the king. A newsmonger, ig. mains, with the intention to bestow on them norant of the motives of an action, appeases a formal interment. Returning from a fruit- the cravings of curiosity by invention ; that less search, he caught sight of a stretched-out the Inquisition should be at the bottom of arm, which he knew to be his master's by a the business, was in the reign of Pbilip II. a diamond ring that glittered on the hand, and too probable guess, and a pretext for its inthe body, as he drew it forth, was visibly terference was devised out of the professionbreathing. For some days life and death al pursuits of the pilgrim. The original rewaged an equal contest, and when life was port soon acquired strength in its progress. winning, a party of the enemy, the town hav- The offence of Vesalius was shortly avouching been taken, discovered him in bed, and ed to be neither accidental nor solitary, and threw him from the window. He fell on a by the time the story reached Burton, the dung-heap, where they left him to perish, author of the “ Anatomy of Melancholy,” it which he considered was death and burial assumed the form of a general assertion, the third. Civile's case would never have that Vesalius was wont to cut men up been quoted on its own merits; the promi- alive.” nence given it is entirely due to the imposing The fabled end of the Spanish grandee is description which a passion for notoriety also asserted of the Abbé Prevost,—the third made him write after his name, and which vaunted example of simulated death. He had still continues to arrest the imagination. He a stroke of apoplexy on a journey, and the survived to have a fourth funeral, and we mayor of the village ordered an immediate hope when he was finally laid in the earth examination of the body. The anguish of that he did not verify a proverb, much in the incision restored the Abbé to a momentavogue in his day, that a sailor often wreck- ry consciousness, and he expired with a cry. ed gets drowned at last.
No authority is given for the story, and, judgMore of our readers may recollect the sto ing from the character of the other assertions, ry of the Spanish grandee who was opened it would be natural to infer that there was by the great anatomist Vesalius, and his heart none to give. But if it be, indeed, a genuine found beating notwithstanding the havoc that fact among the fables, it proves nothing exhad been made by the knife. The family of cept the criminal haste of the village mayor, the nobleman, so runs the tale, complained and the criminal heedlessness of the village to the Inquisition, and the Inquisition decided practitioner,—vices which, in connection with that in a physician with the skill of Vesalius death, are for the most part opposed to the such an error implied a crime. Philip II. feelings, the prudence, and, therefore, to the employed his authority to procure a par- usage of mankind. No perfect security can don, and with difficulty obtained that the be devised against willful carelessness any sentence of death should be commuted into
more than against willful murder; but because a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Hallam, a friendless traveler fell a victim to the rashwhose epithets have almost a judicial author- ness of an ignorant surgeon, there is no ocity, calls the accusation absurd, and absurd casion to fright the world from their propriit may be proved on physiological grounds. ety, and endeavor to persuade them that, But the whole story is an idle rumor written with the best intentions, the living are liable by somebody from Spain to Hubert Languet, to be confounded with the dead, to be packafter the death of Vesalius, to account for ed sleeping in a coffin, and stifled waking in a journey which puzzled the public. Clusius, a grave. who was in Madrid at the time that Vesalius In the midst of exaggeration and invenset out, and had his information from Tise- tion, there was one undoubted circumstance
the President of the Council of the Low which formerly excited the worst apprehenCountries, the land of the anatomist's birth / sions,—the fact that bodies were often found