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CHAPTER VI. A PATIENT.—MORE ADVENTURES.




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WE have hitherto said nothing of the person whom Dr. Arabin had been sent for to visit, because he knew nothing about him farther than that he was in a state of mental excitement approaching almost to insanity. Dr. Arabin had just mentioned his name to the settler, but he only sighed and shook his head. We must confess that he was not a little anxious to see this person; many a surgeon or physician, when called in to visit a patient, thinks only of the fees he is likely to pay; but Arabin speculated on the nature of his complaint, and the manner in which he should heal him, for medical opinion rushes into opposite extremes on this disease.

Is humanity responsible in every instance for its actions? Has the human mind an innate faculty which prevents it from willing actions at violence with what is right? Has the reason sway over desire and action? In short, is insanity, in any case, responsible? A man may acquire a great sway over his passions, and be possibly sane; the same man, by resigning his reason and allowing his passions to overcome and trample upon every other feeling, may commit the maddest acts and the most awful crimes; in a word, such persons are led by passion—they are intellectually insane. They are responsible, both to an earthly and a heavenly


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tribunal, because they have voluntarily nursed the passions which in the end have overmastered them and scorched their souls. How many, for example, will be found who have disordered their intellectual faculties by indulging in intoxicating drinks!—then they have the power of volition without the power of reason to coerce their acts; yet who shall say that the drunkard is not responsible? We do not confine the principle to drunkards—those moral ruins that walk about the world to warn the young and the good of danger—we include those who resign their calm reason to intoxicating passions. If a man perpetrates a crime in consciousness, no violence of passion can be brought forward to palliate his guilt.

Dr. Arabin soon reached the station which he wished to visit. It differed very much from that which he had just left. The hut was about the same size, only there was no back hut,—nor was it required, as the kitchen was in the back. The owner was a bachelor; the servants were all men, because it appeared females of good character would not reside upon the station. Perhaps it was in consequence of this that the place had a dreary look. Man makes but a bad attendant upon the sick; his presence there is intrusion—the presence of a woman in the sick chamber is music. “She moves upon this earth a shape of brightness;
A power that from its objects scarcely drew
One impulse of her being—in her lightness
Most like some radiant cloud of morning dew,
Which wanders through the waste air's pathless blue,
To nourish some far desert.”

The eye of beauty in the sick chamber nourishes the poor sufferer; her presence is a blessing like the beaming


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sun; her voice is earnest, and sweet, and entreating. Meet her in early life, her ethereal form is poetry; the blush of purity mantles her cheek; tenderness and beauty of thought are expressed in her eye; worlds of feeling, fancy, sentiment, are unsealed by her glance. Is she not a noble creature?

Arabin had disliked the prospect of the hut on his first visit, and now he was disgusted with it altogether. His patient, the master of the house, was labouring under fits of insanity, occasioned by too frequent indulgence in intoxicating liquors. Dr. Arabin knew little of him—his character was far from good, or, at least, he was regarded as a young man of wild, extravagant, and reckless habits. He did not appear to be in the receipt of any considerable income; yet he spent more than any person in the neighbourhood could afford. He was often in town, his drays were always on the road; wherever the money came from, there was no want of it; indeed, he spent profusely when in town, which was very often. When Dr. Arabin first saw him, he was almost insane from the effects of brandy, and he had not taken very much notice. He came in and found him better, although still in a very peculiar state. Upon the former occasion he was insensible, but now he found him able to converse upon general topics. The patient was a tall young man, of peculiarly dark complexion, with wild, unsettled eyes; and there was a mystery in his air and address, which was by no means prepossessing.

There was something also mysterious in the house. The servants were a black man, a native of India, who acted as indoor servant, assisted by the bullock-driver,


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a tall, taciturn man, with a very equivocal cast of countenance. Dr. Arabin soon became uneasy, and informed the settler that there was no danger if he did not recommence his intemperate habits; but that if he did, the consequences would be serious: he then took his leave. At parting, the settler asked the amount of his demand, which having reluctantly wrung from him, he wrote out an order for the amount. Arabin then took leave, politely declining the invitation of the settler to wait for dinner. It was about one o'clock, and the plains had to be crossed. He was fortunate enough to reach home before the evening, without any adventure worthy to be recorded.

The dwelling-house occupied by Arabin stood in a quiet street in the country town already mentioned. The passenger might perceive a neat cottage, with two French casements in front, upon one of which was a brass plate with his name and profession in large letters. This building contained four rooms of rather limited dimensions; the parlour and bedroom were towards the street; the kitchen and surgery were in the rear. The parlour was the correct size for a gentleman's study or library, and furnished very much after the fashion of such apartments. In one of the recesses between the fire-place and the wall, books were arranged upon shelves. Dr. Arabin had a small, but a select library, containing not only works of science, but likewise the most approved works in English literature, and a few German prose works. In other parts of the room were natural curiosities and native weapons, waddies, leanguils, &c.; in the other recess stood a table, upon which were ranged his surgical


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instruments, and a case of beautiful pistols. The room was neatly, although plainly furnished, and a large chair by the fire spoke of the comforts of a bachelor's life.

It was a wet evening—one of those dull, rainy nights which usher in the Australian winter. Dr. Arabin sat writing, occasionally raising his head to glance at the cheerful fire which blazed in the hearth; a smile of pleasure would curl about his mouth as he contrasted the comfortable room with the storm which raged outside, and which made the comforts of home thrice welcome.

There is not a word within the circle of language which finds so quick a response in the human breast as “Home!” How different, in almost every respect, are the homes of the rich and the noble from the homes of the poor! yet, oh! how alike the language to the heart! The poor man, indeed, has reason to love his humble abode more passionately than even his superior in rank; for it is there alone that he finds solace for poverty, and neglect, and contempt.

It is fanciful to wander through strange and distant countries, and find their cities so very much alike— streets are the same, houses are the same, with various alterations to suit the architectural taste of the inhabitants; there is the neat window-curtain peeping from the well-cleaned window, the lady or gentleman raising it and dropping it when observed: and may not all these be seen in England, Scotland, Ireland, on the Continent, in the United States—in Asia, Africa, and in Australasia?

We do not think that the great and noble possess


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the felicity of a happy home. Such persons live an artificial life; they are too much in the world: their souls are too much engrossed with ambitious thoughts; their minds are too full of pleasure—envy —vanity. The indigent do not enjoy home; they are often hard-worked and half-starved, and too often ruin themselves altogether by indulging in intoxicating liquors. No; it is but seldom that either the wretched abode of squalid poverty, or the stately mansion of the great, possesses that indescribable aspect of comfort which all have observed, but which we cannot picture. On the contrary, does not the former disgust, and the latter repel? The houses of the great wear the cold isolated magnificence which we admire, but cannot love. The aristocratic exclusiveness of their noble owners speaks in their stern and frowning bastions and turrets. Surely their rank and great riches ought rather to be regarded as misfortunes than blessings. Real comfort can only be found in middle life: it is to be seen in the plain mansion of the merchant, in the neat cottage of his hard-working clerk—in the farm or manor-house. The neat parterre of flowers, the well-arranged garden, the snug parlour, the comfortable glass of wine, are all peculiar to the middle rank of life. We hope many in it are aware of the advantages incidental to their station, and that their unpretending homes are preferable to a palace.

“I shall not continue my essay,” muttered Arabin. “How unfortunate! I have to go abroad. It is a poor woman, it is true; but I think she is in imminent danger, and I must not neglect her, as that fawning fool Dr.————— did. The heat in this room


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is too great; it almost engenders sleep. It rains hard; but I have been abroad in more boisterous nights.”

He had now enveloped his person in a great-coat, and he opened the casement and walked into the street. It was not so very bad a night as he had expected, and he trudged on and quickly reached the residence of his patient. It was much later than he was aware of, and the houses were quiet and the shops were closed. He returned by another street. As he reached the corner where the lamp suspended above a licensed house shed a flickering light around, he heard a voice in earnest discourse. He waited for some moments, and at length observed a person stretched upon the ground close to the wall of the house: several persons smiled and passed by, but Dr. Arabin stopped to listen to the intoxicated person, as he supposed him to be, and advise him to go home.

“I don't know,” said the man, louder; “I don't think it's any great sin either; at least, not half so bad as cheating and swindling; but my conscience is not easy upon the matter. Strange, I can never derive benefit from the preaching of the Episcopal clergyman —I don't like him, somehow. The Scotch minister is better, but he uses the paper too much. Oh! that nasty Highland accent—it spoils all the good I would derive from his sermons. Well, I hope the devil will not get me just yet, if there be such a spirit. Oh! yes, there is! hold—away!”

“My good man,” interrupted Dr. Arabin, “what is the meaning of this?”

The man was silent for some time; then he replied, faintly, “That is not a fair question to ask.”




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“Well, but, my good man,” said Dr. Arabin, “you are lying in a very uncomfortable position there, and you had better go home.”

“Home!” laughed the man, now turning round; “I am afraid my home will be the churchyard—no, the burying-ground. Dear me! it is dark, and a bad nighttoo”

The person who was speaking had turned round, and Arabin recognised his patient, the insane settler. He did not make any observation, but allowed him to continue his incoherent remarks.

“It is a fearful thing to dwell with the shadows of night—the dark, dismal night, when the morning will never break.”

Dr. Arabin knew that he lodged in the Royal HoteI, and began to coax him to rise; he made no resistance, and they walked down the street. The young man still continued: “It was no sin; hundreds made their money in the illicit trade. What if I am found out? Let them hang me! Who would shed a tear for me ————? Did you hear about it?” said he, stopping suddenly, and staring Dr. Arabin full in the face.

“Hear of what?”

“The men I killed last night, and the wild animals. Wait—hush! they are up my trousers!” He shook his trousers very roughly with his hand; at last, he imagined something came out, for he stamped with his foot as if bruising a serpent, “It is all right now; I have done for it.”

They soon reached the hotel. Dr. Arabin prevailed upon him to enter, not without difficulty, and had him conveyed to his bedroom. He could not do much for


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him; his frame was shattered by the dissipated course of life he had been leading, which acting upon a natural irritability, or a tendency towards insanity, had evidently been making a convulsion in his mental faculties. Dr. Arabin did not like his symptoms all the time he saw him in the country, but he expected much from rest and retirement. We need hardly state that he was chagrined to meet him under such circumstances. He saw that his mental faculties were reeling, and he dreaded permanent derangement. All that he could do to alleviate the disease he carefully performed, and gave warning to the landlord of the house that he was very ill, leaving strict injunctions to have him carefully attended upon.

Dr. Arabin returned to his home. He had taken rather more exercise than he usually did, and retired to bed. He did not sleep well, and towards the middle of the night he awoke from a dream, where he saw the settler lying ghastly as the grave; as he awoke, he fancied something cried: he could not be positive—it might have been his imagination. He arose, and lighting a candle, looked out; but not a sound could be heard; silence reigned in the town. Again he stretched himself upon the bed, for about ten minutes all was still; he was just about to extinguish the light, when he heard a footstep, and in another instant a sharp knock at the door: he opened it, and a young man rushed in with perturbation depicted in his countenance, and inquired for Dr. Arabin.

“My name is Arabin,” replied he.

“Then come, for God's sake, immediately! The


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poor young man you saw at our house is ill—he is very ill. Come away!”

“What is the matter?” said Dr. Arabin.

“Oh ! come away!”replied the man, “he has been attempting to shoot himself; but it is all right. Come away!”

The man almost dragged Dr. Arabin with him. When he entered the bedroom where the settler lay, he found two individuals supporting him: he was pale, and a few streaks of blood marked his face; a slight wound was visible on his forehead, which had been caused by the bullet from a pistol. It had been intended for the brain; but some lucky accident had occasioned the pistol to drop, and the awful crime was not committed. The ball had touched the flesh as it slanted off, but Dr. Arabin immediately pronounced it to be of a trifling character; he removed the long black curls which clung to the brow of the evidently agonised settler, and washed the wound. The poor fellow was quiet, and once as Arabin raised his head, he observed a tear drop on the pillow; he looked, and the dark, unsettled eye of the patient was immediately withdrawn, and neither by word nor sign did he afterwards indicate that he was conscious of his presence. He waited some time in the room, and took a deliberate survey of the sufferer; he acknowledged that he had an air about him different from common individuals: he had the appearance of a retired genius—a deep and powerful thinker; but there was also something displeasing in the profile of his countenance, which almost repelled sympathy; his eye was brilliant and intellectual,


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but roving and shy; in a word, he seemed one of the most intellectual of the species who had degenerated into mental and moral depravity. He observed also that his dress was finer in quality than squatters commonly use, and that the various garments were fashionably made. Before he left the house, he gave the landlord strict charge to watch the poor youth carefully. The landlord appeared considerably affected, and in answer to the questions of Dr. Arabin, allowed that the young man had lately been indulging in habits which had caused these occasional aberrations of mind. Before, he had been a well-behaved young man, although even then something seemed to be weighing down his spirits; and he appeared by far too often in town, although he had his pockets filled with money, which he squandered without discrimination. Some days now he was well enough; but not being under restraint, he generally injured his mental faculties, and derangement was the consequence. He had seen him ill, very ill, before, but never so bad as upon this occasion.

This information agreed exactly with what Arabin knew of the young settler, Mr. Willis; and wishing the sporting landlord good night, he once more wended his way towards his home.

He seated himself in the parlour, and began to ruminate upon the strange fate of the young settler whom he had been called upon so unexpectedly to visit. He had apparently no relation or friend in the country. The landlord thought only of his bill, that had always been settled, and he was sorry for his inmate, and afraid of being deprived of a remunerating customer.




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Dr. Arabin once or twice thought there was some connexion between Willis and the family of the settler already introduced. The only cause which incited this thought was, that the settler and his lady exchanged looks when he said he was about to visit Willis, and he thought he observed the young lady change colour. “But why,” thought Arabin, “should I give myself a thought about this crack-brained youth, or the family of the settler? I am a poor surgeon; and, perhaps, the settler and his lady never once thought of me after my departure, and I may resume my legitimate avocations and forget them. And this stranger, why should I trouble my head about him?—he is nothing to me. I may never see him above once or twice again.”

The reader is aware that Dr. Arabin was but a light sleeper. He retired; but every effort to compose himself, or to woo repose, was of no avail. He lay in bed tossing to and fro, thinking of the settler's family and of Willis; sometimes he would sleep lightly, when some idea would play upon his imagination, and he would start once more awake. Sleep came at last— heavy, but not sweet; indeed, feverish watchfulness was nearly as unpleasant as the disturbed phantasms which flitted around his imagination. He was once more at home—the home of early years. His father— mother—sisters were around him. The scene shifted imperceptibly to Scotland, and he looked upon mountains which he had never expected to behold again; but then his mind was laden with anxiety, he had to return to Australia; he sailed down a stream which passed the door of the school where he had studied; he was among the dashing and foaming billows—in the very


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vortex of the tempest's wrath; he was sensibly conscious of "The heavy-rolling surge! the rocking mast!
The hollow dash of waves! the ceaseless roar!”

Again the scene changed, and his inflamed fancy presented the features of the deranged settler—the face paled, until it resembled the leaden hue of the grave. He saw the house where he had been so kindly entertained by the settler and his family, and he struggled to reach it and to obtain relief from his troubles. He entered. It was cold and empty; mire and filth were coagulated upon the walls; snakes made a feast upon the floor; already he was grasping the vipers, and plucking them from his throat, when he awoke.

“These dreams are more frightful than my waking melancholy,” he muttered. “I must have a light.”

He started, and groped about for the candle. He was not able to find the box of matches which commonly lay on the toilet-table, and he did not wish to trouble or alarm his servant. He sat down rather disappointed. The cold, raw atmosphere of the morning caused him to shiver, and compelled him to take refuge in bed. In an hour afterwards he became calm, and slept tranquilly.

It was late the following morning before he awoke. He was angry with himself for wasting time in bed; for he held, that every hour which rational beings abstracted from the pursuit of knowledge or of business was a loss which could never be repaired. He was soon dressed, and enveloped in a rich dressing—gown, the parting gift of a dear friend, which he prized perhaps more than any article in his possession. He


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opened the door which communicated with the parlour already described, and entered. The table was covered, and, as usual, breakfast appurtenances were arranged in the usual form; but he started with unfeigned surprise to find a stranger seated in the room,— and that stranger his patient of the preceding evening, Mr. Willis the settler. He was perusing a volume of Shakspeare's dramas, as much at home as if he had been domesticated in the house a twelvemonth.

When Willis observed him, he rose; and Arabin was very much astonished at the change in his appearance. His dress had not only been properly arranged, but the deadly hue on his countenance had been succeeded by a slight flush which could hardly be natural —it was like hectic fever. He bowed, and expressed his fears “that he would be looked upon as an intruder. He wished, however, to call and express his gratification at the kindness which had prompted Dr. Arabin to take care of him on the preceding evening; he further hoped that Dr. Arabin would overlook the unhappy circumstances—indeed he was almost ashamed to see him—but the truth was, he was driven to it; indeed, he had been terribly abused, and if he knew everything he would pity him.”

As he concluded, he glanced behind him; and although Arabin had before really been of opinion that he was better, yet when he observed his restless glance, he became convinced that the disease had only slightly changed its character.

Dr. Arabin answered him in the kindest manner possible, and, without noticing the conclusion of his speech, asked him to be seated, and stated the pleasure


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he experienced in his company; he hinted also that what was past should be buried in oblivion. He solicited the honour of Mr. Willis's company at breakfast. With this request he gladly complied; with a single effort he appeared to forget everything, and he folded back the collar of his coat, smiled sweetly upon his entertainer, and bowed assent to his proposal.

Breakfast was now served up, and both gentlemen did justice to the plain fare which was placed before them. The guest endeavoured to gain the good opinion of his entertainer, and to a certain extent he succeeded. Dr. Arabin had never before seen him to advantage, and was obliged to confess that he was a gentleman in his manners. His information, also, was rather extensive; but he displayed an overweening regard for favourite opinions, and a peevish irritability when opposed, which was far from agreeable. Once or twice, when Dr. Arabin opposed him, his eye burned like coal, and he glared upon him; but the steady gaze of his entertainer quieted him. He felt some anxiety to know a little of the former history of the unfortunate youth, but he was above showing this curiosity. He still wondered if the settler's family already mentioned could in any way be connected with Willis, and took advantage of some remark which was passed upon the portrait of a young lady which adorned the wall of the parlour, to inquire after the settler and his beautiful ladies.

Either the subject was unwelcome to him, or it turned the current of his thoughts into a disagreeable channel. He gave a quick glance, and his face became livid. His eye closed, his face became ghastly, his lips


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lurid. He drew his hand forth, as Dr. Arabin thought, to lay hold of something, but it grasped at empty space; he began to work his hands and draw up his face; he would have fallen from his chair, had not Arabin caught him in his arms. For several minutes he continued in this state; his hands were clenched, his teeth grated upon each other, his face convulsed. When spoken to, he would not reply. He talked incoherently; sometimes he seemed addressing a lady in fond language; the tone of his voice breathed tenderness —then it changed from this melancholy sighing into genuine passion, as he continued in altercation with some relative. He was at sea and sinking—oh, how the storm raged! he was pursued by a pack of hell-hounds with coffins; how they tried to get him within their grasp! he shouted as he rushed along.

Dr. Arabin, although not surprised, was annoyed; he was anxious to have his patient put to rest without any delay, and he did not like to transport him to his hotel in his present melancholy condition: on the other hand, he had objections to keeping him in his house. His kindness of heart, however, conquered all these doubts, and he had him laid upon his own bed. In a few hours he was calm, and spoke of himself as a man who had been grievously ill-used. He further complained that men had been dogging him with coffins, and go where he would they were certain to follow. “There they stand, just by the window—the wretches! —let me get from them!” he shouted violently; “they want my blood—they will put me in their coffins!— I must resist—there, did you see me kill that hideous reptile and smash his coffin?”




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“Oh, yes!” replied Arabin, coaxingly; “you did it very well.”

“Yes,” continued the maniac, “I have been chased for days on the plains, by these men with coffins tied on by black snakes. I ran along—ran for my life— passed miles upon miles, fleet as the wind; I knew well enough that they wanted to kill me, and bury me in their coffins, and torture me; but I escaped them all, and laugh and spit at them.” He became calmer, and Arabin expected that the paroxysm had abated; in a few minutes afterwards he glanced round the room, and observing Arabin, glared upon him with eyes fit for a Roman gladiator, and demanded “what he wanted, or if he had any coffins, or why he was waiting watching him.”

Dr. Arabin endeavoured to recall the scene of the morning. Soon afterwards the fit abated, and the lunatic recognised him, and chatted sensibly enough upon ordinary matters; but on the subject of the coffins he seemed the same. “What a shocking thing that was of the coffins!” he said; “I murdered the wretch who entered the room with them—did I not, sir?”

“He had but one coffin,” replied Dr. Arabin, determined to humour this wild phantasy.

“He had two,” screamed Mr. Willis.

“Had he, indeed!” replied Arabin; “I only saw one.”

“You're a liar, you ugly rascal!” screamed the other; “you saw me throw out two.”

“Well, then,” continued Arabin, in a soothing tone, “there are no coffins now.”




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“They had better keep away; they will not catch me asleep.”

He now became calmer, and continued quiet for some time; indeed, he talked rationally, and evinced no little acuteness in maintaining a favourite principle. If Arabin had not been acquainted with the intermittent character of the disease, he would have been at a loss to believe that the person with whom he was in conversation was a fit person to inhabit a lunatic asylum. He was eager to find out if he now gave credence to his narratives about the men and coffins, and he hazarded a question which would perhaps allow him some insight into his state of mind —“ Shall I open the door?”

“Oh, no!” replied Mr. Willis; “you will have the diabolical wretches with the coffins upon us. If they can lay hands on me, I am a dead man, especially having killed that slave this morning. Are you certain you buried him, sir?”

“Oh! yes; quite certain,” replied Dr. Arabin.

“Was he quite dead?” inquired he.

“No, not quite dead,” replied Arabin, with an internal shiver.

“You wretch!—why did you not kill him dead?” screamed the invalid. “What!—ho!—Bragantia! conspiracy here! Slaves, rescue your leader from the men and coffins.”

He uttered these exciting exclamations with real melodramatic effect. In about an hour, however, he fell into a soothing slumber. It was necessary that Dr. Arabin should visit a patient: he called his servant,


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and directed him to look sharply after the invalid during his absence, and that if he should make any violent efforts to break out, assistance was to be procured.

Dr. Arabin was delayed for about two hours, and when at last he arrived at home, was not a little disappointed to find that Willis had escaped. The bedclothes were folded down, and a clumsy attempt made to arrange the bed; the casement was not open, but on examining it closely he found that the fastenings were withdrawn: not a trace of his unwelcome visitor remained. His servant averred that he looked in frequently, and found the invalid in a sound sleep; he had not heard any noise since then, and had been unwilling to disturb the “young gentleman:” in fact, he had sat in the parlour during the time his master was out, listening to hear any sound which might indicate that he was awake. He seemed very much surprised when informed that the stranger was not in the bedroom. There was no other information that he could give.

“Poor wretched being!” thought Arabin, “I pity you. How lightly man esteems the blessings of Providence! indeed, he only knows their value when deprived of them. Superior to every favour which has been bestowed upon us, is reason. What are riches—rank—fame, to a man whose mind is darkened by insanity, and racked by its own fire? What would it advantage any of those outcasts from the social circles and the amenities of life to receive the fortune of a prince, or even to be crowned the king of countless cities, to have his name pass from continent


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to continent, carried by the breath of fame, while his reasoning faculties are under an eclipse?”

We may here remark, that the cunning and agility which he had displayed in making his escape induced Dr. Arabin to think more unfavourably of the disease than he before had done.

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