Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

sented to the bishop of his diocese, but that prelate refused credence to any statements against the young priest, and looked on him as a persecuted son of the church, whom he was called upon to protect against its enemies. Le Père Laungard had no sooner seen Annette than he became enamoured of her, and it required all his powers of duplicity and affected sanctity, to veil his passion, while in his heart he cursed the profession that rendered this duplicity necessary. When he became acquainted with the affection and engagement of Annette and Jules the most ungovernable jealousy was added to the stings of unlawful passion; he abandoned himself to plots for breaking off the marriage, and a thousand fearful and horrid thoughts passed through his ill-regulated mind.

At times, actuated by the stings of conscience, he would throw himself on the earth, and with burning tears bewail his wretched fate, and having humbled himself to the dust, he would pray for power to conquer this fatal and unhallowed love; but some innocent proof of affection given by the lovers in his presence would soon excite afresh all the evil in his nature, and he would look on them as did the serpent in paradise, envying the happiness of our first parents, until overpowered by the feelings that consumed him, he would rush into solitude, and abandon himself to all the violence of his disposition.

He used every effort in his power to insinuate himself into the good graces of Annette, and, by the softness and impassioned earnestness of his manner, he succeeded in exciting an interest in her mind-the more readily accorded, that her whole heart being engrossed, and the passion that filled it being fully reciprocated, left her disposed to think well of, and feel kindly towards, all the world. Often did Annette, in the innocence of her mind, and with that complacency, which a mutual affection engenders, observe to Jules, what a pity it was that Le Père Laungard, a good-looking, amiable young man, with so much sensibility, should be for ever excluded the pale of conjugal ties. “To live without loving,” said the pure Annette, “ appears to me to be impossible, and though he may like all his flock, as I do my friends and companions, still that is so different, so cold, and unsatisfying a feeling in comparison with that which you, dear Jules, have awakened in my breast, that I cannot but pity all who are shut out from entertaining a similar one. Jules felt none of this pity or sympathy for Le Père Laungard, for with the instinctive perception of quick-sighted love, he had observed the furtive glances of the young priest, directed to Annette, his disordered air, and changing countenance, his agitation, and tremulous voice, when addressing her, and he liked not the flashing of Laungard's eye, whenever, as the affianced husband of Annette, he availed himself of the privileges that character gave him, of holding her hand in his, or encircling her small and yielding waist with his arm. The purity and reserve of Annette imposed a restraint on Le Père Laungard, that but increased the violence of his passion, and as the time approached for her nuptials, it became more ungovernable.

According to the usages of the Roman Catholic religion, persons about to be united, confess to their priest the night previous to the marriage ceremony, and receive the sacrament the next morning, prior to its celebration.

Annette went to the church, which was about two miles distant from her home, accompanied by a female neighbour; and on arriving, was told that Le Père Laungard could not receive her confession until a later hour in the evening. Her companion becoming impatient to return to her home, quitted Annette, who informed her that Jules would come to conduct her back to her mother. Her friend left her in the twilight, in the church, reposing on a bench, and met Jules on the road, whom she advised not to interrupt the devotions of his fiancée, as it would be some time ere she would have finished. He loitered about, and at length becoming impatient, proceeded to the church ; where not finding Annette, and concluding that she had returned by another route, he hastened to the house of her mother. She had not arrived there, however, and the most fearful apprehensions filled his mind. He returned again to the church, and knocking loudly at the house of Le Père Laungard, which joined it, demanded when Annette had left the sacred edifice. The priest replied, through the window, that she had left the confessional at nine o'clock, and that was all he knew. Agonized by the wildest fears and suspicions, Jules aroused all his friends in the village, and they proceeded in every direction, calling aloud on Annette ; and the night was passed in vain searches for the luckless maiden.

Morning, that morning which was to have crowned his happiness for ever, by making Annette his own, saw Jules, pale and haggard, distraction gleaming in his eyes, and drops of cold perspiration bursting from his forehead, approach with his friends the bank of the river, which they proposed to draw with nets, as being the only place as yet unexplored.

While we leave them employed in this melancholy office, we must return to the female friend who had left Annette at the church. She sought an interview with the servant of the priest, whom she closely questioned, as she maintained that the unhappy girl had decided on returning by a certain route, and had she done so, she could not have failed to meet Jules, and consequently suspicions of foul play were excited in her mind.

The servant stated that Le Père Laungard had given her a commission to execute at the village the evening before, and had told her she might remain there until twelve o'clock.

This unsolicited permission struck her as something extraordinary, and she did not avail herself of it to the full extent. She returned about nine o'clock, and having let herself in, was eating her supper, when she heard a violent struggle in the room above that where she was sitting, and a sound of stifled groans. She ran up stairs, and finding her master's door fastened, she demanded if he was ill, as she had been alarmed by hearing a noise. He answered that he had merely fallen over a chair; but there was a trepidation in his voice which announced that he was agitated.

This was all that the servant could state; but it was enough to point the suspicions already excited, still more strongly to the priest.

The river was drawn, and close to its bank was found the corse of the beautiful and ill-fated Annette ; her dishevelled hair, and torn garments, bore evidence to the personal violence she had sustained, ere she had been consigned to a watery grave, and the livid mark of fingers on her throat, induced a belief that her death had been caused by strangulation, ere she had been plunged into the river. Fragments of

her dress, found attached to the briers, and locks of her beautiful hair caught in them, gave indications of the route by which her corse had been evidently dragged along, and were traced even to the door of the priest's house; but when the servant came forth, with a fragment of the kerchief Annette had worn, and which she had found in the ashes where the rest had been consumed, there was no longer a doubt left in the minds of the spectators, of who was the perpetrator of the horrible deed.

The murderer fled, pursued by the villagers ; but having rushed into the river, he gained the opposite side in safety ere they arrived to see him again resume his Aight. He passed the frontier, entered Piedmont, and there overcome with the sense of his guilt, and nearly dead with fatigue, he gave himself up to the civil authorities.

He was soon after claimed by the French, tried, and condemned to the galleys for life; where he still drags on a miserable existence, not daring to lift his eyes from the ground, lest he should meet the glance of horror his presence never fails to excite in all who see him, and know his crime.

Jules no longer able to remain in a spot now rendered insupportable to him, gave up his little fortune to the mother of his Annette, enlisted at Grenoble, and soon after met his death, gallantly fighting at Algiers.

The house of Le Père Laungard, has been razed to the ground by the inhabitants of the village; and a monument has been erected to the memory of the lovely but unfortunate Annette.

SKETCHES FROM THE NOTE-BOOK OF A PHYSICIAN.-No. III.*

THE ADVANTAGES OF TRAVELLING IN DYSPEPSIA.

Ægrescitque medendo."-Virgil,

“ The fear of death often proves mortal, and sets people on methods to save their lives, which infallibly destroy them."-ADDISON.

This remark of the Roman poet, and the English essayist, is indeed too true! The dread of death prevails, more and more, as the world grows older; and as the luxuries, and the artificial habits of advanced civilization seduce us from the simplicity and the healthful guidance of nature. It must, however, be admitted that every period in the history of mankind—from that in which, like the tiger and the wolf, the human savage hunts his prey for the daily support of his existence, to that in which the air, the earth, and the waters yield uptheir inhabitants and their productions, to be tortured by the art of the cook, for gratifying, if possible, the satiated palate of the fastidious epicure-has its diseases. But to the refinements of high civilization, chiefly, are we indebted for diseases of the stomach and the nervous system—dyspepsia and hypochondriasis; evils which, we might almost suppose, have been raised by Providence, to lower the crest of too exulting prosperity; to rack the morbidly sen

Continued from No. ccxxvii., page 372,

sitive nerves of the spoiled children of Fortune; and to visit with the dread of the grave the slothful couch of pampered self-indulgence. Nevertheless it is not wealth and prosperity alone that originate these diseases; the very structure of advanced society, its excitements and depressions, its contentions, envyings, jealousies, cares, and anxieties, as well as its thousand real and imaginary evils, create and foster them in an equal degree. As a counterpoise to this dread of death, which these nervous maladies engender, the skill of the physician, or the pretensions of the empiric are eagerly sought after. The physical weapons by which the former combats diseases, too often prove unavailing: whilst the confidence which the presumptuous boldness of the latter inspires, on the contrary, is frequently followed by salutary results. The assistance of neither, however, is requisite in the greater number of the cases which daily occur.

If there have been no excesses of moral or mental excitement, dyspepsia seldom involves those nervous susceptibilities which link it with hypochondriasis ; thence it would generally give way to a more tranquil mode of life, and the exercise of ordinary discretion in diet and regimen ; whilst much mischief is often produced by the needless employment of medicines. The object of the present Essay is to demonstrate this fact; and, further, to prove that when dyspepsia becomes chronic, and the sensations of a patient lead him to forego all bodily and mental exertion, and to yield himself 'up to the morbid impressions which work on his imagination, and pervert bis judgment, the evil is not to be overcome by physical remedies, by pills and potions. In such a case it is only those counteracting moral influences which can direct the mind into new channels, and leave nature to effect the cure in her own way, that can prove beneficial. One of the most important, and the most successful of these is travelling.

The advantages of travelling to the dyspeptic, especially when hypochondriasis is grafted upon that disease, is undoubted, and it has always been acknowledged; but the causes of its salutary influence are even at this time little understood. Climate, and the greater steadiness of continental weather permitting invalids to live almost sub pleno Jovis, are supposed to be the great agents of the salutary effects, which the change of place induces; and, undoubtedly, the influence of both is considerable. Other causes, however, more especially those of a mental nature, are the great sources of the curative influence of travelling in the diseases of the digestive organs for which it is recommended. In hypochondriacal dyspepsia, the chief intention of the physician, in recommending travelling, is to abstract the attention of the unhappy sufferer from his bodily sensations.

That the mere direction of attention to any organ of the body will disturb its natural functions, and either lower or exalt its action, according to the state of the mind of the individual at the time, is demonstrated in every day's experience. If the mind be intensely directed to the stomach, even when indigestion is not present, a sensation of uneasiness, accompanied with a feeling of distention and weight is experienced; and, when disease is present, such a concentration of the attention not only aggravates the already existing disturbance of the digestive function, and preys upon the mind and depresses the spirits ; but it even affects the nervous system in such a manner as to raise il

lusions of the most incongruous and singular description, which differ from those of insanity merely in the conviction of the patient that they are illusions.

Were the effects of this concentration of attention upon the digestive or any particular organ transitory only, little injury might be supposed to arise from it. But besides often inducing functional, it is, also, the source of physical changes upon organs of vital importance; so that not only disordered sensations, but diseased actions are set up in them. This influence of the mind upon the body is peculiarly striking in the hypochondriac : thus, if his attention has been incidentally directed to the heart, its action becomes hurried, and as his mind is acutely alive to each pulsation, actual palpitation soon ensues; and the continuance or the repetition of this consciousness of an action usually not present to the mind, gradually confirms a habit, which strengthens into positive organic disease of the heart. It is of little consequence whether this mental influence operates by exciting the nerves, and affecting the organs through their agency,—by whatever media it is produced, the effect is the same. It is of more importance, for our purpose, to know that such feelings are often as suddenly removed as they are excited, by any thing which strongly diverts the attention of the sufferer to external objects calculated to attract, either by their novelty or their nature. The constant presentation of such objects to the sight, in travelling, is indeed one of the principal sources of its salubrious influence. It is scarcely necessary to remark, that this beneficial influence of travelling is not confined to dyspepsia complicated with hypochondriasis.

Attention to his sensations is as vividly awakened in the mere dyspeptic as in the hypochondriac; and as much benefit is conferred by weaning it from them in the former as in the latter : for, although the moral faculty is not perverted in simple dyspepsia, yet, the physical derangement of the stomach, and the other organs which aid in the due performance of the digestive function, is aggravated by the constant concentration of the attention on the sensations of the diseased stomach, and the solicitude which is never diverted from the contemplation of its condition. It is vain to anticipate any advantage from the best rules of diet and regimen, whilst the mind is invariably fixed upon the seat of the malady.

To produce any beneficial effect, either from diet or from medicine, every effort must be employed to divert the attention into some channel altogether unconnected with the body. When this cannot be effected, the very dread of the evil is likely to create it; consequently, whatever can dismiss or avert this anticipation is of the utmost importance in the treatment of indigestion.

It is impossible to legislate, imperiously, for the stomach; the mind in a great degree rules its nerves; consequently the absurdity of very strict regulations for diet are daily evinced. The magic wand, which snatched the dishes from the tortured anticipation of the immortal Sancho, is not required. If any rules are to be observed, they must refer rather to the quantity than to the quality of the food ; rather to the company in which the meal is taken, than to the dishes upon the table.

How often has every physician had this question addressed to him by

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »