Imatges de pÓgina
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Farinelli, the famous singer, was sent for to Madrid to try the effect of his magical voice on the king of Spain. His Majesty was absorbed in the deepest melancholy; nothing could excite an emotion in him; he lived in a state of total oblivion of life; he sat in a darkened chamber, entirely given up to the most distressing kind of madness. The physicians at first ordered Farinelli to sing in an outer room; and for the first day or two this was done, without producing any effect on the royal patient. At length it was observed, that the king, awakening from his stupor, seemed to listen; on the next day tears were seen starting from his eyes: the day after he ordered the door of his chamber to be left open, and at length the perturbed spirit entirely left our modern Saul, and the medicinal music of Farinelli effected what medicine itself had denied.

"when

'After food," says Sir William Jones,* the operations of digestion and absorption gives so much employment to the vessels, that a temporary state of mental repose, especially in hot climates, must be found essential to health, it seems reasonable to believe that a few agreeable airs, either heard or played without effort, must have all the good effects of sleep, and none of its disadvantages; putting, as Milton says, 'the soul in tune' for any subsequent exertion; an experiment often made by myself. I have been assured by a credible witness, that two wild antelopes often used to come from their woods to the place where a more savage beast, Serajuddaulah, en

See a curious Dissertation on the musical modes of the Hindoos by Sir W. Jones.

tertained himself with concerts, and that they listened to the strains with the appearance of pleasure, till the monster, in whose soul there was no music, shot one of them to display his archery." A learned native told Sir William Jones that he had frequently seen the most venomous snakes leave their holes upon hearing tunes on a flute, which, as he supposed, gave them peculiar delight.

Of the surprising effects of music, the two following instances, with which we shall close these remarks, are related in the history of the Royal Academy of Society of Paris.

A famous musician, and great composer was taken ill of a fever, which assumed the continued form, with a gradual increase of the symptoms. On the second day he fell into a very violent delirium, almost constantly accompanied by cries, tears, terrors, and a perpetual watchfulness. The third day of his delirium one of those natural instincts, which make, as it is said, sick animals seek out for the herbs that are proper to their case, set him upon desiring earnestly to hear a little concert in his chamber. His physician could hardly be prevailed upon to consent to it. On hearing the first modulations, the air of his countenance became serene, his eyes sparkled with a joyful alacrity, his convulsions absolutely ceased, he shed tears of pleasure, and was then possessed for music with a sensibility he never before had, nor after, when he was recovered. He had no fever during the whole concert, but, when it was over, he relapsed into his former condition.

The fever and delirium were always suspended du

ring the concert, and music was become so necessary to the patient, that at night he obliged a female relation who sometimes sat up with him, to sing and even to dance, and who, being much afflicted, was put to great difficulty to gratify him. One night, among others, he had none but his nurse to attend him, who could sing nothing better than some wretched country ballads. He was satisfied to put up with that, and he even found some benefit from it. At last ten days of music cured him entirely, without other assistance than of being let blood in the foot, which was the second bleeding that was prescribed for him, and was followed by a copious evacuation. This account was communicated to the Academy by M. Dodart, who had it well authenticated.

The second instance of the extraordinary effect of music is related of a dancing-master of Alais, in the province of Languedoc. Being once over-fatigued in Carnival time by the exercise of his profession, he was seized with a violent fever, and on the fourth or fifth day, fell into a lethargy, which continued upon him for a considerable time. On recovering he was attacked with a furious and mute delirium, wherein he made continual efforts to jump out of bed, threatened, with a shaking head and angry countenance, those who attended him, and even all that were present; and he besides obstinately refused, though without speaking a word, all the remedies that were presented to him. One of the assistants bethought himself that music perhaps might compose a disordered imagination. He accordingly proposed it to his physician, who did not disapprove the thought,

but feared with good reason the ridicule of the execution which might still have been infinitely greater, if the patient should happen to die under the operation of such a remedy.

A friend of the dancing master, who seemed to disregard the caution of the physician, and who could play on the violin, seeing that of the patient hanging up in the chamber, laid hold of it, and played directly for him the air most familiar to him. He was cried out against more than the patient who lay in bed, confined in a straight jacket; and some were ready to make him desist; when the patient, immediately sitting up as a man agreeably surprised, attempted to caper with his arms in unison with the music; and on his arms being held, he evinced, by the motion of his head, the pleasure he felt. Sensible, however, of the effects of the violin, he was suffered by degrees to yield to the movement he was desirous to perform,— when, strange as it may appear, his furious fits abated. In short, in the space of a quarter of an hour, the patient fell into a profound sleep, and a salutary crisis in the interim rescued him from all danger.

CHAPTER XV.

PRESAGES, PRODIGES, PRESENTIMENTS, ETC.

THE common opinion of comets being the presages of evil is an old pagan superstition, introduced and entertained among Christians by their prejudice for antiquity; and which Mr. Bayle says is a remnant of pagan superstition, conveyed from father to son, ever since the first conversion from paganism; as well because it has taken deep root in the minds of men, as because Christians, generally speaking, are as far gone in the folly of finding presages in every thing, as infidels themselves. It may be easily conceived how the pagans might be brought stedfastly to believe that comets, eclipses, and thunderstorms, were the forerunners of calamities, when man's strong inclination for the marvellous is considered, and his insatiable curiosity for prying into future events, or what is to come to pass. This desire of peeping into futurity, has as already been shown, has given birth to a thousand different kinds of divination, all alike whimsical and impertinent, which in the hands of the more expert and cunning have been made most important and

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