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it than I will repeat, though I perfectly remember it all; for the importance of which at this period I became to successive circles of visiters fixed every circumstance, and almost every word, indelibly in my memory. It was a pity that I was not born some years earlier or later, for I should have flourished a favourite pupil of Mesmer, the animal magnetiser, or I might at this day be walking a celebrated somnambulist. No, to do myself justice, I really had no intention to deceive, at least originally; but, as it often happens with those who begin by being dupes, I was in imminent danger of becoming a knave. How I escaped it I do not well know. For here, a child scarce seven years old, I saw myself surrounded by grown-up.wise people, who were accounting different ways for that of which I alone knew the real, secret, simple cause. They were all, without my intending it, my dupes. Yet when I felt that I had them in my power, I did not deceive them much, not much more than I deceived myself. I never was guilty of deliberate imposture. I went no further than affectation and exaggeration, which it was in such circumstances scarcely possible for me to avoid ; for I really often did not know the difference between my own feelings, and the descriptions I heard given of what I felt.
Fortunately for my integrity, my understanding, and my health, people began to grow tired of seeing and talking of Master Harrington. Some new wonder came into fashion, I think it was Jedediah Buxton, the man of prodigious memory, who could multiply in his head nine figures by nine; and who, the first time he was taken to the playhouse, counted all the steps of the dancers, and all the words uttered by Garrick in Richard the Third. After Jedediah Buxton, or about the same time, if I recollect rightly, came George Psalmanazar, from his Island of Formosa, who, with his pretended dictionary of the Formosan language, and the pounds of raw beef he devoured per day, excited the admiration and engrossed the attention of the Royal Society, and of every curious and fashionable company in London: so that poor little I was forgotten, as though I had never been. My mother and myself were left to settle the affair with my nerves and the Jews as we could. Between the effects of real fear, and the exaggerated expression of it to which I had been encouraged, I was now seriously ill. It is well known that persons have brought on fits
by pretending to have them; and by yielding to feelings, at first slight and perfectly within the command of the will, have at last acquired habits beyond the power of their reason or of their most strenuous voluntary exertion to control. Such was my pitiable case; and at the moment I was most to be pitied, nobody pitied me. Even my mother, now she had nobody to talk to about me, grew tired of my illness. She was advised by her physician, on account of her own health, by no means to keep so close to the house as she had done of late : she went out therefore every night to refresh herself at crowded parties; and as soon as she left the house, the nurse and everybody in the family left me, The servants settled it, in my hearing, that there was nothing in life the matter with me, that my mother and I were equally vapoursomeish and timersome, and that there was no use in nursing and pampering of me up in them fantastical fancifulnesses : so the nurse, and lady's maid, and housekeeper went down all together to their tea; and the housemaid, who was ordered by the ḥousekeeper to stay with me, soon followed, charging the under housemaid to supply her place, who went off also in her turn, leaving me in charge of the cook's daughter, a child of nine years old, who soon stole out of the room, and scampered away along the gallery out of the reach of my voice, leaving the room to darkness and to mom and there I lay, in all the horrors of a low nervous fever, unpitied and alone.
Shall I be pardoned for having dwelt so long on this history of the mental and corporeal ills of my childhood ? Such details will probably appear more trivial to the frivolous and ignorant than to the philosophic and well informed: not only because the best informed are usually the most indulgent judges, but because they will perceive some connexion between these apparently puerile details and subjects of higher importance. Bacon, and one who in later days has successfully followed him on this ground, point out as one of the most important subjects of human inquiry, equally necessary to the science of morals and of medicine, " The history of the power and influence of the imagination, not only upon the mind and body of the imaginant, but upon those of other people.” This history, so much desired and so necessary, has been but little advanced.
for this may be, that both by the learned and the unlearned it is usually begun at the wrong end.
“ Belier, mon ami, commencez par le commencement,” is excellent advice; equally applicable to philosophical history and to fairy tale. We must be content to begin at the beginning, if we would learn the history of our own minds; we must condescend to be even as little children, if we would discover or recollect those small causes which early influence the imagination, and afterward become strong habits, prejudices, and passions. In this point of view, if they might possibly tend to turn public attention in a new direction to an important subject, my puerile anecdotes may be permitted. These, my experiments solitary and in concert, touching fear, and of and concerning sympathies and antipathies, are perhaps as well worth noting for future use as some of those by which Sir Keneln Digby and others astonished their own generation, and which they bequeathed to ungrateful posterity.
My mother, who had a great, and perhaps not altogether a mistaken, opinion of the sovereign efficacy of the touch of gold in certain cases, tried it repeatedly on the hand of the physician who attended me, and who, in consequence of this application, had promised my cure ; but that not speedily taking place, and my mother, naturally impatient, beginning to doubt his skill, she determined to rely on her own. On Sir Kenelm Digby's principle of curing wounds, by anointing the weapon with which the wound had been inflicted, she resolved to try what could be done with the Jew who had been the original cause of my malady, and to whose malignant influence its continuance might be reasonably ascribed; accordingly, one evening, at the accustomed hour when Simon the old-clothes-man's cry was heard coming down the street, I being at that time seized with my usual fit of nerves, and my mother being at her toilet crowning herself with roses to go to a ball, she ordered the man to be summoned'into the housekeeper's
room, and, through the intervention of the housekeeper, the application was made on the Jew's hand; and it was finally agreed that the same should be renewed every twelvemonth, upon condition that he, the said Simon, should never more be seen or heard under our windows or in our square. My evening attack of nerves intermitted,
as the signal for its coming on ceased. For some time I slept quietly: it was but a short interval of peace. Simon, meanwhile, told his part of the story to his compeers, and the fame of his annuity ran through street and alley, and spread through the whole tribe of Israel. The bounty acted directly as an encouragement to ply the profitable trade, and “Old clothes! Old clothes!" was heard again punctually under my window; and another and another Jew, each more hideous than the former, succeeded in the walk. Jews I should not call them; though such they appeared to be at the time: we afterward discovered that they were good Christian beggars, dressed up and daubed, for the purpose of looking as frightful, and as like the traditionary representations and vulgar notions of a malicious, revengeful, ominous-looking Shylock as ever whetted his knife. The figures were well got up; the tone, accent, and action suited to the parts to be played; the stage effect perfect, favoured as it was by the distance at which I saw and wished ever to keep such personages; and as money was given by my mother's orders to these people to send them away, they came the more, If I went out with a servant to walk, a Jew followed me; if I went in the carriage with my mother, a Jew was at the coachdoor when I got in, or when I got out: or if we stopped but five minutes at a shop, while my mother went in, and I was left alone, a Jew's head was at the carriage window, at the side next me; if I moved to the other side, it was at the other side ; if I pulled up the glass, which I never could do fast enough, the Jew's head was there opposite to me, fixed as in a frame; and if I called to the servants to drive it away, I was not much better off, for a few paces' distance the figure would stand with his eyes fixed upon me; and, as if fascinated, though I hated to look at those eyes, for the life of me I could not turn mine away. The manner in which I was thus. haunted and pursued wherever I went seemed to my mother something “really extraordinary;" to myself, something magical and supernatural. The systematic
roguery of beggars, their combinations, meetings, signals, disguises, transformations, and all the secret tricks of their trade of deception, were not at this time, as they have in modern days, been revealed to public view, and attested by indisputable evidence. Ignorance is always credulous. Much was then thought wonderful, nay, almost supernatural, which can now be explained and accounted for by easy and very ignoble means. My father-for all this time, though I have never mentioned him, I had a father living—my father, being in public life, and much occupied with the affairs of the nation, had little leisure to attend to his family. A great deal went on in his house without his knowing any thing about it. He had heard of my being ill and well at different hours of the day; but had left it to the physicians and my mother to manage me till a certain age : but, now I was nine years old, he said it was time I should be taken out of the hands of the women; so he inquired more particularly into my history, and, with mine, he heard the story of Simon and the Jews. My mother said she was glad my father's attention was at last awakened to this extraordi. nary business. She expatiated eloquently upon the medical, or, as she might call them, magical effects of sympathies and antipathies on the nervous system; but my father was not at all addicted to a belief in niagic, and he laughed at the whole female doctrine, as he called it, of sympathies and antipathies : so, declaring that they were all making fools of themselves, and a Miss Molly of his boy, he took the business up short with a high hand. There was some trick, some roguery in it. The Jews were all rascals, he knew, and he would soon settle them. So to work he set with the beadles, and the constables, and the parish overseers. The corporation of beggars, were not, in those days, so well grounded in the theory and so alert in the practice of evasion as, by long experience, they have since become. The society had not then, as they have now, in a certain lane, their regular rendezvous, called the Beggar's Opera; they had not then, as they have now, in a certain cellar, an established school for teaching the art of scolding, kept by an old woman, herself an adept in the art; they had not even their regular nocturnal feasts, where they planned the operations of the next day's or the next week's campaign, so that they could not, as they now do, set at naught the beadle and the parish officers : the system