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of air, that the approach of any one evincing an intention to disturb me would throw me into convulsions; and, suspecting tetanus or hydrophobia, the three medical attendants inquired whether I had been bitten by a dog, or had sustained any mechanical injury. With short intermissions, this state of things lasted for successive days, till my strength was nearly exhausted. Towards the close of the fourth day, and during the succeeding night, my eyes were upturned in their sockets; I retained not the slightest power of voluntary breathing; I was incapable of speech; and the attempt to swallow a drop of water brought on spasms which threatened suffocation.
During all this period I was possessed of perfect consciousness; nor had I any pain. The only painful sensation was the impossibility of resisting the convulsive movements of my body, and the fearful constriction of my chest. At first I was, as it were, a mere spectator and observer of the symptoms thinking, and even reasoning upon them; and when abstracted from their consideration, I felt that I could calmly meditate on God's mercies. I had no painful conflicts about my state, but a settled serenity-a tranquillity for which I could scarcely account, unless from the conviction that my salvation
But during the last night of this stage, I experienced wonderful evidence of a world to come. My friends were assembled at various distances around my bed. The curtains were drawn,
and a candle yielded its obscure rays. I heard the sobbings of my relations. I knew that they looked on my life as fast fleeting. I was myself convinced that I should not recover. I had pictured my body carried to the grave, and had marked in my mind's eye all the attendant circumstances. Mentally I had taken leave of earth, and I lay in perfect peace, assured of my salvation. A dead silence now reigned around; and as I waited the moment of my final change, it was an intense and deeply absorbing thought that soon the great scene would be revealed. Whilst lying thus, I thought I heard a gentle knocking. My soul started in expectation. Inwardly I exclaimed, 'I come, Lord Jesus ! Relapsing into quietude, I felt all but dismissed. It had the effect of so far arousing me, that I got power to speak, and called to my kindred, who came around me in surprise and anticipation. I took leave of them. I told one to be watchful, and spoke to the others, till power of speech again for
As I lay, I drew my hand to my breast, to examine its beatings. I felt they were small and weak, and I was content, for I should soon be in another world. I was even anxious to die; for I feared lest, living again, I might lose what now seemed so
Then it was that a new order of feelings came over me. I had the most extraordinary sense of the bodily presence of the Power of Darkness standing by the side of my bed; not that I imagined that I saw anything, but I felt as if I could have
put my hand on the very spot where he stood, and I shrank from that side with horror and loathing. But, blessed be God! on the opposite side stood, equally revealed to my spiritual senses, the Power unto Salvation, the very embodiment of love; and to this I turned as to a refuge. I shrank from the Evil One, and poured out my prayers to Christ, whose protection was evident to me. Thus I lay, when, all of a sudden, the most brilliant light darted into the room, and filled me with astonishment. Now, I thought, the time is surely at hand. God is visibly making manifest his approach. Quickly will the angels of God be descending, and I shall behold my Redeemer. By the vigor thus imparted I was enabled to sit up in bed, and with a feeling like that which Lazarus might have experienced, conscious of a supernatural Presence, I called out to my friends, 'Did you not see the light?' Next minute the impression came over me that I was yet to live; and at the same time, inspired with the certainty of knowing what I ought to take, I told my assistant to bring me forty drops of the tincture of opium, and twenty drops of the muriated tincture of iron, and to repeat the doze every twenty minutes. After taking the first doze, I continued sitting in bed, feeling as though entranced; and, what is singular, my arms, when extended at an early part of the evening, had remained so, evincing the cataleptic state. I took the second doze, and lay down. These dozes, so large that my assistant
afterwards wondered what could have possessed him to give them, were the means of my recovery. After a miserable interval, during which the body seemed to be sinking into corruption, and the mind itself seemed to have lost all power of joy or sorrow, hope or fear, a profound sleep closed my eyes. It lasted upwards of twelve hours, and, awaking as from a dream, there remained no trace of my former state, except extreme debility. I never had the slightest relapse, but made rapid progress in recovery.”
An interesting volume was lately published, in which a Christian scholar recalls the workings of his mind during a long period of derangement; * and we believe that both science and religion are eventually served by accurate statements of cases in which moral and physical phenomena mingle. We are too ignorant of pathology to be able to explain all the symptoms which Mr Williams has so vividly described; and it would be very presumptuous in us to profess to account for those sensations which the patient, himself a medical man, modestly acknowledges as beyond the range of his own experience or reading. Yet there are one or two circumstances of which an ordinary spectator may possibly judge as accurately as the patient himself, with all his professional training.
For instance, it was at the close of a laborious * Autobiography of the Rev. William Walford. Edited by the Rev. J. Stoughton.
day, and when excessively fatigued, that Mr Williams was first seized with those singular sensations in his head, and with the brilliant accompanying ideas. Now, to say nothing of any intermediate cause, such as determination of blood to the brain, we know that excessive application or exhaustion is not unfrequently followed by similar odd sensations. Dr Moore mentions Dr Isaac Watts, who, after great exertion of mind, thought his head too large to allow him to pass out at the study door; as also the case of a gentleman who, after delivering a lecture at the College of Surgeons, said that his head felt as if it filled the room. With Mr Williams, the sensation was “as though torrents of air were rushing into his brain, and the head itself expanding." Nor do we suppose that it is at all uncommon for nervous exhaustion to be followed by such cataleptic seizures as Mr Williams experienced, when his eyes were fixed, and when he had lost the power of speech, as well as voluntary respiration. The “inspired certainty” with which he
* The Power of the Soul over the Body. By George Moore, M.D. Fourth edition, p. 264.
+ To our lay ignorance, the most perplexing complication of this illness is the tetanic access which marked the second stage. Perhaps some light may be thrown on it by the following case detailed by Dr Joseph Williams, who describes the patient as suffering from cerebral irritation, mixed up with hysteria and violent tetanic spasms. “ She declared the pain was so great that she should go mad. Alarmed at the tetanic symptoms more especially, I examined carefully the thumb and fingers, to ascertain if these had been injured; inquired minutely if she had lately pricked her finger, or